For Value Investors: Reviewing Last Week's Earnings

 |  Includes: ALK, DTLK, FSII, INTC, LUV, MKSI
by: Vince Martin

Earnings season began this week, and after previewing a few key earnings reports for value stocks earlier this week, I'll follow up by reviewing their performance -- with one more notable report thrown in at the end.

1. Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC)

Intel beat on Tuesday afternoon, reporting earnings of 65 cents per share on $14.2 billion in sales, ahead of Street estimates for 61 cents on revenue of $13.9 billion. The company also forecasted fourth quarter revenue ahead of the Street, with full-year sales expected to come in at $55 billion, a 26% increase year-over-year.

The stock reached a 3-year high on Wednesday following the report at $24.50, but sits as of this writing late Friday afternoon at $24.08, just 2.5% ahead of its close last week. Given the strength of the report, and the impressive growth on the top and bottom lines, investors should be wondering what else the stock needs to do to impress the Street. Fears of the company's struggles in the mobile business, and their effect on future earnings, are no doubt causing some skepticism toward the stock. But the stock is still trading at just above 10 times projected 2011 earnings, with a dividend yield above 3.5%. Even at these recent highs, the stock still looks discounted.

2. Alaska Air Group (NYSE:ALK)

ALK beat on the bottom line on a non-GAAP basis, though the company was hit hard by hedging the cost of fuel, which dropped unexpectedly during the quarter. Still, investors seemed pleased, driving the stock up 4% in trading on Thursday following the morning release.

The story remains the same for ALK; the airline continues to grow earnings year-over-year (up 15% this quarter on a non-GAAP basis), free cash flow is strong, and the balance sheet is one of the best in the business. Indeed, the company's debt-capitalization ratio fell to an all-time low of 61%, load factor was an all-time high of 86.5%, and the adjusted earnings were also a record.

The skepticism towards the airline industry as a whole seems warranted, given its track record for investors. Yet ALK's single-digit P/E and strong performance seem to make it a solid value choice in a traditionally shaky industry.

3. Southwest Airlines (NYSE:LUV)

LUV is up moderately for the week after beating estimates on Thursday morning, though, like ALK, the company was hit by hedging costs and actually posted a rare GAAP loss for the quarter.

The story for Southwest remains the same as the one I articulated last month: the company's history of success (38 consecutive years of profitability) should give investors confidence in its ability to execute the integration of AirTran, manage a difficult environment, and grow the share price from current levels (where it is trading just 20% above tangible book value). CEO Gary Kelly put it best on the Q3 conference call:

In terms of the outlook for Southwest, at least what we can see, the revenue environment continues to be strong and stable. The cost outlook, as we provided in the press release, we're expecting some inflation in our non-fuel cost, but nothing extraordinary. We're, of course, keeping a very close eye on fuel...But aside from that, near-term planning, we are definitely investing in Southwest and preparing Southwest for significant future route and fleet growth opportunities. And [we're] sort of well underway on a 5-year plan, and I'm very, very pleased with the progress so far.

4. Datalink (NASDAQ:DTLK)

Datalink did it again, beating estimates for the fourth consecutive quarter, as earnings of 16 cents per share (21 cents) non-GAAP and revenue of $90.1 million beat Wall Street estimates and the company's guidance for 12-16 cents GAAP (15-19 cents non-GAAP) on $85-90MM in sales.

However, this time around, DTLK stock did not hold its gains, as it had after gapping up during the three previous quarters. The stock opened strongly on Thursday morning (after reporting Wednesday after the bell), but erased all gains on Thursday, and is slipping further down on Friday afternoon, off 5.7% to $8.60 at this writing. It may be that fourth quarter guidance of $110-$115 million, and GAAP earnings between $0.17 and $0.22 disappointed investors.

This guidance is up sequentially (even including the $15 million added by Datalink's acquisition of Midwave), but the low rate of year-over-year growth from 2010's $91 million fourth quarter may have weighed on the stock.

Investors should look at current weakness as a buying opportunity. The IT reseller has significant growth prospects in its business of building data centers for cloud computing, and looks undervalued at these levels. P/E on a trailing, non-GAAP basis is under 11, despite the company's strong growth. 2011 revenues, at the midpoint of guidance, should finish around $378 million, up nearly 30%, after a 65% growth rate in 2010. With the high multiples placed on cloud providers such as Red Hat (NYSE:RHT) and VMWare (NYSE:VMW), the market looks to be discounting Datalink's earnings potential.

5. MKS Instruments (NASDAQ:MKSI)

As I had predicted, MKSI did beat guidance and earnings estimates, though weak fourth quarter guidance initially caused the stock to gap down on Thursday morning following the earnings report on Wednesday evening. However, the stock recovered its losses intraday, gapping up on Friday before drifting down to around $25.00, up slightly for the week.

Using the midpoint of fourth quarter guidance of 18 cents to 31 cents per share on a non-GAAP basis (GAAP earnings are actually higher, due to an accounting irregularity), the company should earn $2.28 in 2011, giving a P/E just above 11. More impressively, the company offers $9.60/share in cash and investments less all long-term liabilities, giving an enterprise value-to-earnings ratio of 6.75 and providing support for the 2.4% dividend yield.

The issue for MKSI is its exposure to a struggling semiconductor industry, which has led to declining sequential revenue. I wrote in my preview that third quarter earnings might give some clarity between whether MKSI was a value play or a value trap. The conflict between the earnings beat, and the lowered revenue, did little to help investors decide. CEO Leo Berlinghieri did say that orders had finally stabilized during the third quarter -- but at what level? Right now, MKSI looks cheap -- but there's no doubt that in a volatile market, it can get cheaper.

6. FSI International (NASDAQ:FSII)

The maker of semiconductor equipment has been hammered over the last six months, off nearly 60% from mid-May highs. The company reported fiscal year 2011 earnings on Tuesday, which may give investors hope. Revenue grew over 6% year-over-year, despite a difficult market, and, though profits fell, the company still earned 21 cents per share, giving a P/E just above 10 at its current price of $2.13.

The company still offers 58 cents per share -- over 25% of cap -- in net cash, and some potential for a turnaround. From the company's earnings release:

The company believes that its order level bottomed at $15.5 million in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2011 and expects orders to increase significantly in the first quarter of fiscal 2012 as several leading foundry, logic and memory producers proceed with their 32/28 nm investment plans. Based upon an expected first quarter increase in orders, the company anticipates that revenues will bottom in the first quarter of fiscal 2012 and expects revenues to increase significantly in the second quarter of fiscal 2012.

Such news would be welcome to FSII shareholders, who have seen the stock struggle. A return to normalcy could mean that FSII, trading at an enterprise value-to-earnings ratio of 7.4, is undervalued.

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.