5 Names With Something To Prove This Quarter

by: Bill Maurer

While it seems that earnings season just finished, or at least is winding down, we are more than halfway through calendar Q2 already. We're less than a week from Memorial Day, and June is almost upon us. While the summer months generally see lower trading volumes, there will be plenty of excitement ahead. Before you know it, we'll be back into earnings season, and the fun will begin again. Today, as we get past the halfway point of the quarter, here are five names with something to prove this quarter.


Google has to prove that its monster rally over the past couple of months is worth it for investors. Shares of the technology giant are up about $250 over the past six months, and are looking to take a crack at $1,000. With all of the analysts jumping on the Google train, one must wonder if Google is about to nosedive like Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) did when everyone jumped on that name's bandwagon. Google currently trades for about 20 times this year's expected non-GAAP earnings, and an even higher valuation if you use GAAP earnings. That's almost double what most top tier tech names trade at, since they all trade in the 10-12 times range.

Google is also at a crossroads in terms of its growth. Q2 of 2012 was the first quarter in which Google included results from Motorola Mobility in its quarterly statements. That means that this year's Q2, the quarter we are currently in, is the first quarter of Motorola comparable results. Google needs to prove that the Motorola acquisition was worth the $12 billion or so price tag. Google is looking at revenues potentially crossing below the 20% growth level (excluding Motorola). Also, overall revenue growth will start to really slow down, since the Motorola add-on growth will go away this quarter. Apple was severely punished when its growth started slowing down, and now it is Google's turn. With a stock trading at more than $900 and a substantially above industry average valuation, Google must prove it belongs where it is. Given that the growth numbers are about to slow down with Motorola comparable quarters, this name will be one to watch this quarter.

lululemon (NASDAQ:LULU):

The Canadian apparel maker took a hit after a pants problem, which forced the company to lower guidance for their quarter (ended in April, earnings report expected to be in June). For this growth and momentum name, the company needs to show investors that the pants problem was a one-time issue. The company needs to show that the problem is mostly or completely solved, and that revenues and earnings should be better going forward. They cannot let the problem drag on for a number of quarters.

For fiscal Q1, the company guided to revenues of $333 million to $343 million, which reflects the $12 million to $17 million revenue loss from the problem. They also expect earnings per share to be $0.28 to $0.30, impacted by $0.11 to $0.12. Analysts seem to be at the high end of this range, currently expecting roughly $340.9 million in revenues and $0.30 in earnings. Analysts have been known for being overly optimistic when it comes to lululemon, and the company has been known for giving very conservative guidance.

The question here is how much has the pants problem really affected sales? So far, investors have not been concerned. The stock bottomed in the low $60s after the pants problem, and we are now at $80. That has pushed the valuation to around 41 times this fiscal year's expected earnings, a bit rich for my liking. A raise in guidance at the upcoming report would certainly help the valuation, assuming the stock doesn't rise more. I was one of this name's biggest supporters in the low and mid $60s, detailing how this name would certainly recover. The stock certainly has, but at current levels, lululemon must put the pants problem in the rear view mirror.

First Solar (NASDAQ:FSLR):

The solar giant has a lot to prove with its stock doubling since the company set an aggressive target for 2013 revenues and earnings per share. First Solar guided to revenues of $3.8 billion to $4 billion and EPS of $4.00 to $4.50, far above a consensus of $3.15B and $3.46. That sent shares up nearly 50%, and they've rallied even more since then. However, when the company reported Q1 results, earnings per share missed despite a solid revenue beat. Analysts were a bit concerned with the company's margins.

After falling 10% post-earnings, the stock has rallied strongly since, hitting another new high on Monday. However, earnings estimates stand three cents lower for the year than they were going into earnings. For fiscal Q2, analysts expect a 21.5% decline in revenues over the year-ago period. While this is due to the very seasonal nature of First Solar's business, earnings per share are forecast to drop from $1.65 to $0.59. If First Solar cannot get its margin situation to improve, earnings per share will not come in as expected. In terms of the above mentioned guidance, analysts expect $3.85 billion in revenues and $4.24 in earnings this year. That means that analysts are at the lower end of the revenue range, but essentially the midpoint for earnings. With a stock that's up more than 100% since the investor day and aggressive guidance, First Solar has a lot to prove. Q1 results did not live up to those expectations, and the solar giant will need to do something about that when they report Q2.

BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY):

We're now more than three months removed from the late January launch of the BlackBerry 10 devices. It is time for the company to start posting better results, and expectations are that they will. Current estimates call for $3.34 billion in revenues for the May-ending quarter, which would be the highest revenue quarter in more than a year. Investors will also be keying in on the company's margin number, which sported a large jump in their latest quarter.

Although they've been volatile, BlackBerry shares have basically traded sideways during the past four months. With results starting to improve, the company should also see growth in its cash and investments pile, which stood at almost $3 billion at the end of last quarter. BlackBerry needs to prove that it is not dead, because the number of short sellers continues to race to new highs. A good early sales number from the BB10 devices would certainly help.

VMware (NYSE:VMW):

VMware has been one of the worst performing large cap stocks over the past year, sporting a loss of more than 21%. That includes the fact that the stock is almost $7 off its 52-week low. VMware certainly has something to prove going forward.

The company's trouble started when they issued lower than expected guidance for fiscal Q1 and their fiscal year. Q1 revenue guidance of $1.17 billion to $1.19 billion was well below the $1.25 billion estimate. Fiscal 2013 guidance of $5.23 billion to $5.35 billion was below the $5.43 billion estimate. That sent shares from $98 to $77, basically where we are now.

Although VMware slightly beat estimates for Q1, they then issued below expected guidance for Q2, and updated full year guidance below expectations. Q2 guidance of $1.21 billion to $1.24 billion for revenues was below a consensus of $1.26 billion, and full year guidance for $5.12 billion to $5.24 billion saw its midpoint below the $5.21 billion consensus. It was after that report that shares made another attempt to break below $70, but found support at that level.

VMware will most likely be a name to watch during earnings season, and they probably will report sometime in late July. I ran a quick stock screener, and it appeared to me that of all US companies with a market cap of $30 billion or more, VMware is the worst performing stock over the past year. With two guidance disappointments, this is not a surprise. If we get a third one, I don't think $70 will hold this time around.

Final Thoughts:

All five names mentioned today have something to prove. Google's growth is about to slow down in a big way, and the stock trades at a high valuation. That's a dangerous combination. Canadian apparel maker lululemon had a pants problem, and we'll see how well they are overcoming it. So far, lululemon's stock has acted as if nothing happened. First Solar more than doubled after the company issued impressive guidance for 2013, but Q1 earnings per share fell short of estimates and Q2 is expected to be a down quarter. BlackBerry has had their new devices out for some time now, and it is time for them to show some sales improvement. VMware has issued two straight guidance disappointments, making the stock perhaps the worst performer over the past year.

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

Additional disclosure: Investors are always reminded that before making any investment, you should do your own proper due diligence on any name directly or indirectly mentioned in this article. Investors should also consider seeking advice from a broker or financial adviser before making any investment decisions. Any material in this article should be considered general information, and not relied on as a formal investment recommendation.