Veritas Vilified

Man, I love a good stock market train wreck. No, I'm not some bear market cheerleader. And I'm certainly no sadist. I'm just cheap. I want to buy $1 worth of earnings for $0.50. In the stock market, such bargains usually arise after panic selling on bad news.

That's what happened to Veritas (Nasdaq: VRTS  ) this morning. The storage software maker reported that it had a lackluster quarter and would miss earnings estimates. Instead of $0.21 to $0.23 a share on revenue of $490 million to $505 million for the second quarter, Veritas now says it will book $0.17 to $0.19 a stub on sales of $475 million to $485 million.

In a statement, Veritas executives attributed the shortfall to weaker-than-anticipated demand, resulting in lower license revenue. Investors took the news hard, sending the stock lower by more than 35% as of this writing.

They have good reason, of course. Software companies that don't grow license revenue tend to disappear eventually. And then there's Veritas' recent accounting troubles, which came to a head in March when the firm announced it would restate 2001 and 2002 results. No wonder investors are running for the exits.

But the story doesn't end there. Investing guru Benjamin Graham likened the stock market to a manic depressive who would buy and sell on seemingly random whims, occasionally creating bargains. Today looks like another of Mr. Market's famous mood swings. Not only has Veritas taken a beating, but so have dozens of other firms, many of which participate in fundamentally different businesses.

Just look at this list: Cisco Systems (Nasdaq: CSCO  ) down 3%, Intel (Nasdaq: INTC  ) down nearly 2%, Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) down more than 1.5%, and Oracle (Nasdaq: ORCL  ) down more than 3%. Did any of these companies do something to deserve the sell-off? Sure. Like Veritas, they're all tech stocks.

How silly. Just because Veritas is having trouble doesn't mean others will. Ask yourself: Is EMC (NYSE: EMC  ) no longer a great, albeit pricey, business because of Veritas' problems? No. But that didn't prevent investors from giving EMC's shares a 6% haircut this morning.

Don't join them. Instead, think of today's market action as an extension of the holiday weekend. While it isn't like a few helpings of beer and brats, today's folly gives the patient Fool a rare chance to load up on bargains that will boost her fiscal standing over the long term. And isn't financial independence more satisfying anyway?

We're all cheapskates here at Fool.com, but being so pays off. Big. Bargain hunter Tom Gardner has turned loving the unloved into a profitable endeavor for subscribers ofMotley Fool Hidden Gems, delivering returns of greater than 50% since the newsletter's inception. You can try it risk-free.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers loves beer and brats and hopes you were able to get your share at the barbecue line this past weekend. Tim owns no shares in any of the companies mentioned, and you can view his Fool profile here.


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