4 Potentially Bright Stocks in a Dull Economy

Includes: ANSS, SHS, WNR, WTW
by: Brian Nichols

The market has endured several days of losses as economic worry takes over an investor's mind. As we experience these tough times it is difficult to find bright spots in the market. August 4th and 5th are days in which several companies will announce quarterly earnings. The following companies have seen positive stock performance during the last year, including financial improvements. These companies have the potential to see gains in a market filled with losses after announcing quarterly earnings.

Western Refining Inc. (NYSE:WNR) has seen gains in excess of 270% in one year because of excitement surrounding the company. Analysts are very bullish on the stock as they have continued to raise estimates. Management is hoping to capitalize on a strong margin environment and stated during the last quarter that refineries are running well. During the first quarter profit was down 50% below expectations as outages hurt the financials. The company stated it has no maintenance for refineries in 2012 and plans for a full turnaround at Gallup in Q3, producing 40,000 barrels per day.

The company is trading with a price to earnings over 67 as investors expect earnings to impress and rise from this point. The company had several issues to work through which include outages and maintenance. Management now believes these issues will not be a factor in 2012 and that the second half of 2011 will see better results. The company has continued to operate more efficient since the first quarter and I expect that to continue. I could easily see WNR posting big gains even if it misses quarterly estimates because of a strong outlook. The company has lost over 8% of its stock price during the last two days as the result of a weak market. I think this will prove to be a good entry point for this company both short and long term as I expect the company to deliver strong financials.

ANSYS Inc. (NASDAQ:ANSS) has seen losses over 13% since July 8th. The company has posted consistent gains since 2009 with total gains over 90%. The company has continued to increase year-over-year in revenue, net income, EPS and assets. During the first quarter the company posted an increase in revenue of 16.2%. The recent downtrend is partially due to the economic sell off and investors expecting second quarter results to disappoint in EPS.

On May 5th the company issued guidance that kept revenue near estimates but lowered EPS. The same guidance also raised full year expectations. With this loss over 13% I believe this stock is fairly priced and will increase after earnings. The earnings report may not be as strong but I anticipate strong forward looking estimates. With the potential for a missed quarter, high expectations, and a bad economy it will be interesting to see which direction the stock may go. I believe it will go up but this may be a stock to watch from the sidelines until the direction is more clear.

Weight Watchers (NYSE:WTW) has seen full year gains in excess of 185%. The company has experienced growth as the result of strong marketing. The company has continued to raise full year EPS as revenue during the first quarter grew 29.8% year-over-year. The company expects an increase in growth, however year-over-year quarter growth will moderate as the company launches a new marketing strategy in the second quarter.

Even with a new marketing strategy I expect to see year-over-year increase in revenue. The company performs very well with its marketing ventures and I do not expect this to be any different. There is no way of knowing how successful a marketing campaign will be. You can have accurate estimates but no way of knowing how the public will respond. Based on past experience I would buy into WTW. Since 2009 the company has seen gains of nearly 300%. Even if the quarter misses on Friday I believe next quarter guidance will be strong and the stock will rise based on future earnings.

Sauer-Danfoss (NYSE:SHS) releases earnings on August 4th. The company has seen gains in excess of 200% as the result of growth within the company. The stock is trading with an EPS of 5.43 and a P/E of 8.22. The first quarter produced a net sale increase of 45% year-over-year, earning 1.46 per share in comparison to .43 of profit the year prior.

After the company released first quarter earnings the stock jumped over 15%. The stock is trading with a very low P/E and has dropped from its high of $65 to its current price of $44.78. The comparison to quarters, year over year, will not show an increase of 45% because Q2 of 2010 was better than Q1 of 2010. Yet, with a price this low the company could still see nice gains if a solid report is released. The company increased guidance and the stock has lost more than 15% of its value with no significant developments. With no reason to believe that earnings will be short I expect the company to deliver. The company should see large gains to cover the loss it experienced during the last month.

Disclosure: I am short SHS.