Cisco Systems (CSCO): Shares of Cisco Systems soared on, reporting better-than-expected results for the fiscal fourth quarter that ended July 30th. Revenues of $11.2 billion were up 3.3 percent year over year, compared to the company's guidance of a flat to 2.0 percent rise. New products, service providers and international segments were the growth drivers.
The company made progress in its restructuring initiatives. The hierarchy of boards and counsels has been slashed significantly. This should have a positive effect on the technology approval process and inspire increased accountability of leadership. Another 6,500 global employees (9 percent of Cisco’s workforce) will be let go. These initiatives should lower expenses by $1.0 billion annually but also result in GAAP restructuring charges that may end up surpassing that $1.0 billion.
Revenues from the public sector are still low, and nearly every nation in the developed world is buying less year over year. This is particularly true with the U.S., showing a 7 percent decline. Cisco is focusing its selling resources on areas like data center, collaboration and video that have shown considerable growth.
At the time of writing, the stock was trading at $15.74, valuing the company at $86.2 billion. Current price to earnings was 13.5, cheaper than Alcatel-Lucent (ALU), 17.8, and more expensive than Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), 6.1.
The company's first-quarter revenue guidance of 1 percent to 4 percent advance is encouraging. Patient investors should find the current valuation appealing.
Ford Motor Company (F): The stock has taken a hammering due to the market turmoil, falling over 25 percent since May. However, the business fundamentals look good.
The second quarter was decent, with wholesale vehicles sales rising year over year. Revenues from the Automotive sector advanced a bit but were slightly offset by high material costs and lower earnings from the Credit division.
With around 43 percent of revenues from foreign operations, much of Ford’s success is dependent on a healthy global economy. At the moment, things don’t look rosy on the global economic front, with high unemployment in the U.S. and Europe and the lingering debt concerns.
Nevertheless, new products should advance revenues and earnings in the coming three to five year period.
At the current price, the company is selling at a bargain and may appeal to venturesome investors.
At the time of writing, Ford’s shares were trading at $10.60, valuing the company at $41.5 billion. Trailing price/earnings ratio is 6.3, much cheaper than Toyota (TM), 79.1, and slightly above General Motors (GM), 5.01.
NYSE Euronext (NYX): The roughly $10 billion merger with Deutsche Borse AG cleared a hurdle recently with the CFIUS, an interagency of the U.S. government which regulates foreign investment in the U.S., approving the merger.
Further legislative red tape in the U.S. and Europe is still to be cleared though, with both companies expecting this to be done by the end of 2011. The coming together of these two exchange giants should see savings of about $580 million in operating costs.
Integrating their technologies should lead to better products and services, thereby attracting more clients, which bodes well for increased cash generation.
Before the market crash, the stock was trading on speculation. The recent dip in price may be a boon for investors.
Comcast Corp. (CMCSA): The recent addition of NBC Universal (NBCU) could be a hit-and-miss with regards to earnings. With NBCU securing the rights to the Olympic Games, the company is hoping to generate substantial ad revenue. However, prior to Comcast acquiring a majority stake, NBC lost over $220 million on the Vancouver Games and is set to lose a sizable amount on the London Games as well.
On a positive note, the core cable business should generate solid revenues. Comcast lost video subscribers (lost 39,000 in the March quarter) given the current difficult economy. Offsetting this, though, is an increasing business customer base for its cable services.
Steady dividend increases and share buybacks should enhance shareholder rewards going forward.
At the time of writing, Comcast shares trade at $21.25, valuing the company around $58.4 billion. Trailing price to earnings ratio is 15.5, more expensive than DIRECTV (DTV), 14.3, and DISH NETWORK (DISH), 8.03.
ATP Oil and Gas Corp (ATPG): Second quarter results were mixed. Oil and gas revenues jumped 71 percent on higher production volumes and prices. On the negative side, the company reported a loss of $1.11 per share, blaming high impairment charges, workover expenses and drilling interruption costs as causes.
There are significant risks. A substantial portion of its production is concentrated among a few wells in the Gulf of Mexico and North Sea which are prone to larger production declines than that of onshore properties. As a result, ATP is vulnerable to impacts such as future drilling bans, delays in getting permits, weather conditions and finally, volatile commodity prices.
Furthermore, the company’s financing method for its development program is risky. Its financing is based on deferring interest payments to future periods or revenues derived from future production, which could affect future cash flow significantly given volatile oil prices. What’s more, its debt/equity ratio is 13.99, far above the industry average of 0.5.
ATP’s near and long-term operations are dependent on approvals from regulatory authorities. Whilst management believes it meets the new requirements, should unforeseen delays occur, it can meet its existing obligations for at least twelve months based on current production levels and commodity prices. The inherent risks are obvious.
On a positive note, the recent news of production starting at one of its wells in the Gulf of Mexico region sent the stock price soaring 10 percent.
At the time of writing the stock traded at $13.20, valuing the company at roughly $715 million; price to earnings ratio was not available. The trailing ratio for Eni (E) is 8.1, while Forest Oil (FST) is at 17.7 and Newfield Exploration (NFX) is at 17.2. All three competitors trade at a discount to the industry average of 20.86.