Previewing This Week's Key Earnings Reports Of Interest To Value Investors

by: Vince Martin

Earnings season has kicked into high gear, and a number of companies with strong value characteristics are reporting this week. Below, I've highlighted a few interesting stocks whose reports this week should be of interest to fundamental-minded value investors:


Xerox Corporation (NYSE:XRX): Analysts are expecting Xerox to earn 33 cents per share (adjusted) on $6.07 billion in revenue, with both figures representing small year-over-year growth. The company has beat Wall Street expectations for five consecutive quarters, yet has seen its stock price fall by nearly 20% over the past twelve months.

I covered the bull case for Xerox back in August. Its Services business -- driven primarily by its acquisition of Affiliated Computer Systems in 2010 -- now accounts for over half of revenues, and provides the little top-line growth the company creates. On the bottom line, the company is managing its debt load -- it retired nearly $1 billion of debt so far this year. It is also managing expenses and improving margins. Xerox generates substantial cash flow -- approximately $1.7 billion in 2012 on a levered basis (subtracting net interest costs), based on guidance issued during its second quarter conference call. That figure represents some 14% of market capitalization. The company, to its credit, has aggressively returned much of those profits to shareholders. Xerox's dividend yield sits just below 2%. In 2011 and 2012, the company will repurchase nearly $2 billion in stock, almost one-sixth of outstanding shares.

With the stock trading at just 8 times the midpoint of 2011 adjusted earnings guidance (9.5x on a GAAP basis), and levered cash flow averaging 12% of market cap annually over the last four years, Xerox still looks undervalued. Admittedly, its low growth rate and middling dividend yield provide little to entice investors in the short-term. But the company's strong efforts at reducing debt and returning capital to shareholders should pay off in the long run. Another earnings beat could provide a near-term boost, and return Xerox toward the double-digit levels at which it traded for the first half of 2011.

Integrated Silicon Solution Inc. (NASDAQ:ISSI): The small-cap semiconductor manufacturer reports after the close on Wednesday. In its fourth quarter earnings report, the company guided for non-GAAP revenue of 22 to 29 cents per share (15 to 22 cents GAAP) on $65 to $72 million in total revenue.

Integrated Silicon has benefited from the recent run-up in the semiconductor sector, and at Friday's close of $9.70, it is challenging repeated resistance around the $9.75 level. As such, Wednesday's report would seem to be a key inflection point for the stock; bullish results could drive the stock substantially higher in the near-term. The company's guidance anticipates a small growth in revenue and a small decline in earnings on a year-to-year basis, meaning expectations are low and the company could surprise.

For longer-term investors, Integrated Silicon still looks cheap despite its recent bull run from October lows. The stock offers $3.18 per share in net cash, and earned 99 cents per share in the year ending September (excluding a 99 cent per share income tax benefit recorded in the fourth quarter). Free cash flow was $24 million, a strong performance relative to the company's $150 million enterprise value. As the sector shows signs of a bottom, and industry stocks gain momentum (the Philly Semiconductor Index (SOX) is up 13.6% year-to-date), Integrated Silicon could continue to gain. Strong results, strong guidance, or a bullish tone in the conference call could all push Integrated Silicon through resistance and back into the double digits.

AVX Corporation (NYSE:AVX): The component maker reports before the bell on Wednesday, with analysts looking for 27 cents per share in earnings on $368.3 million in sales. Both figures would represent a fall, both sequentially and on a year-prior basis.

Despite the potential decline in sales and earnings, AVX remains an interesting play for long-term investors. With net cash of nearly $6/share, the company trades at just 6 times forward earnings (estimated at $1.29 per share for the fiscal year ending in March). Cash flow has been over 10% of enterprise value for each of the past two years, and the company has raised its dividend three times since late 2009. AVX now sports a dividend yield of 2.19%, with the cash balance and profitable operations certainly supporting additional raises in the future.

AVX is 71% owned by Kyocera (NYSE:KYO), which has raised some governance questions: U.S. common equity holders seemingly have little or no voice in the company's management. But the low valuation has priced in not only any governance issues but also the expected decline in sales and margins as commodity prices increase. The late-year pullback in many commodities may have helped the company's bottom line, and lead to an earnings beat like the one in October, which, combined with a dividend hike led the stock up nearly 9%. If the company can show a smaller-than-expected decline in its results, it could expand what appears to be a very compressed multiple on an earnings and cash flow basis. Long-term investors can use the company's cash cushion and wait for a (hopefully) higher dividend yield and potential capital appreciation as well. Wednesday's earnings should give a preliminary signal as to whether the market is correct in pricing AVX for a substantial decline in earnings.


Network Engines (NASDAQ:NEI): The micro-cap software provider reports before the bell on Thursday; the company updated guidance earlier this month, expecting revenues between $68 and $70 million and GAAP earnings of 3 to 4 cents per share. Both figures would be relatively flat year-over-year.

The stock is up 31% year-to-date -- in large part due to the improved guidance, which caused a 17% jump on January 5th -- but may still have room to run. Friday's close of $1.26 is just above half of the stock's 52-week high of $2.40, and still a substantial discount to the company's tangible book value of $2.05/share. Net cash is 36 cents per share -- 30% of market capitalization -- and the company generated $5.5 million in free cash in fiscal 2011. Should the company meet the low end of guidance, its trailing P/E will still be just above 6.

The big risk with Network Engines is its concentration of business with its major customer, EMC (EMC), which represented 57% of sales in 2011. Yet the low valuations across the board seem to make Network Engines a bit of a hidden gem. Should the company meet its updated guidance on Thursday, the recent strength in the stock looks likely to continue.

Alaska Air Group (NYSE:ALK): Last year's best-performing airline stock reports fiscal year 2011 earnings on Thursday morning. Analyst consensus is for $1.14 in adjusted earnings on $1.06 billion in revenue.

Alaska Air performed well for most of 2011, repeatedly hitting resistance at $70/share before breaking through in December. A downgrade from Deutsche Bank earlier this month hit the stock, but it closed Friday at $73.52, up 20% over the past twelve months.

Unlike its struggling airline peers, Alaska Air offers an exceptional balance sheet -- net cash nearly clears net debt, and total net liabilities, including pension debts, are just $17/share. The company has grown earnings sharply, with trailing adjusted earnings of $7.88/share expected to climb over $9/share in 2012. Perhaps most impressively, Alaska Air has generated $830 million in levered cash flow over the past seven quarters, one-third of its market capitalization.

Warm weather and strong operational results could boost Alaska Air's earnings. Load factor (the percentage of seats filled) and on-time performance both hit records, while oil costs stagnated. An earnings surprise could re-ignite Alaska Air's bull run, back toward its all-time high of $77 reached in mid-December. For long-term investors, the company's strong balance sheet, earnings growth, and cash flow generation should provide a cushion ahead of earnings. Airline stocks have traditionally been difficult ground for investors, but Alaska Air's continued success should put it on value investors' watchlists.

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