One of the best trading strategies I follow, taught to me by my secret internet twitter trading guru, is to monitor “former runners.” These are stocks that have a history of making quick price moves, whether or not they have big institutional backing, or none at all. In the absence of significant business news, earnings often serve as a catalyst for renewed buying or selling interest in these issues. Here are five quick snapshots of “former runners” that are due to report earnings next week, complete with my handicap of how they might perform.
You know anyone who still uses AOL? I know one guy. My best buddy from college, because he lives in the high desert wilderness of New Mexico and for years it was the only internet service provider available. Of course, he’s been teased about it relentlessly, and now he’s finally switching over to another ISP. This reminds me of AOL stock: it’s lost in the wilderness, just a big tease, and there’s too much competition out there to keep people from switching over.
My prediction: Only an earnings miracle could move shares of this former goliath higher. Without that, the stock is a dinosaur. And if it ever breaks below $18.50, short sellers could have a field day. Just look at this chart.
Glu Mobile (GLUU)
Glu Mobile is a classic momentum mover. It’s in a great “story stock” niche— selling games for the booming mobile apps market—and is well-positioned with a strategic relationship with NVIDIA (NVDA) to exploit the Android-powered tablet space. That said, despite consistent quarterly gross profits above $10 million, GLUU is a money-losing company, posting their worst quarterly loss of the year last quarter—a whopping $5 million. Inexplicably, those numbers didn’t stick with market participants: Instead, GLUU’s share price has been ascendant ever since, currently trading at around $3.75.
My prediction: I’m leaning short, but I’d take a wait and see approach. Good earnings could send these shares higher very quickly, especially given the level of short interest in this issue (over 4 million shares). Bad ones could keep GLUU shares stuck on the launching pad, or lead to a total meltdown.
Hansen Medical, Inc. (HNSN)
Hansen Medical makes robotic medical devices and other medical appliances. The company’s shares recently touched new 52-week-highs, based in part on momentum-driven buying due to a new device application submission to the FDA. The company has always been on traders’ radar screens, perhaps because of some significant short interest, and the great promise of the company’s products. Unfortunately, Hansen has managed to lose about $10 million each quarter over each of the past four reporting periods.
My prediction: It will be more red ink for the company this quarter, and even an organized attack on short-sellers probably won’t be enough for HNSN shares to maintain their hard-to-fathom 52-week-high run. That said, if earnings are stellar then look for new 52s.
Jazz Pharmaceuticals (JAZZ)
I’ve stood idly by for years and watched traders cash in big-time on JAZZ. Unfortunately, I’ve never had the courage to take the volatile ride up on JAZZ shares. JAZZ makes specialty pharmaceuticals, and they haven’t just been jazzin’ around: they’ve actually banked a cumulative total of over $37 million in profits over the last two reporting periods.
My prediction: The sweet, mellifluous sounds of JAZZ’s profitable run will strike a harmonious note and continue to propel the price of JAZZ shares higher. Keep in mind that about 10% of the issue’s 22 million share public float has been sold short.
YRC Worldwide (YRCW)
Despite a massive, unwieldy float, record high gas prices and impending bankruptcy, traders have continued to place bets on international trucking company YRC Worldwide. Perhaps their hopes and dreams are pegged to the belief that since YRCW was trading at about $140 per share just 18 months ago, there’s unlimited “upside” at the current level of about $1.90 per share. And yes, this chart is a “beat chart” to end all beat charts.
My prediction: If YRCW can avoid bankruptcy this week, and post some semblance of a decent earnings report, there may be some quick momentum-buying upside to the shares. That said, there’s a possibility that the earnings report won’t matter at all if YRCW already has that Scarlet Letter on the end of its ticker symbol…the letter “Q” for bankrupt.