5 New Highs Heading Lower

There were plenty of stocks making new 52-week highs last week -- 856 on the NYSE and 473 Nasdaq-listed companies, according to Barron's. I don't think they all deserve the penthouse views.

I think more than a few of these winners may be peaking right now. Some of them haven't earned these gains, while others have a few storm clouds moving in.

At the risk of coming off as a wet blanket, I'm going to single out five stocks from the "new highs" list that I think are coming down.

Let's lay them out, before I explain my concerns.

Stock

4/12/10

52-Week High

52-Week Low

Overstock.com (Nasdaq: OSTK  )

$21.11

$21.26

$9.97

TiVo (Nasdaq: TIVO  )

$17.46

$18.69

$6.41

DISH Network (Nasdaq: DISH  )

$21.62

$22.18

$12.58

Build-A-Bear Workshop (NYSE: BBW  )

$7.30

$7.46

$4.05

AOL (NYSE: AOL  )

$28.11

$28.50

$22.01

Source: Yahoo! Finance.

Let's go over the reasons to curb your enthusiasm with these overachievers.

Overstock.com
The online discounter is coming off a monster holiday quarter. Revenue soared by 27%, and earnings blew past Wall Street expectations. Unfortunately, one needs to remember what happened a holiday season earlier, when Overstock's conservative marketing approach led to a 13% decline on the top line. In other words, even at a time when e-tail is supposedly booming, fourth-quarter sales are only 9% higher than they were two years ago.

If we look at all of last year -- and get past the financial restatement of 2008 -- revenue climbed by a mere 6% last year. After a few years of paddling in the rudderless red, it's great to see Overstock profitable again. However, I'm not swept away by its $0.33-per-share profit last year or the $0.36 a share that analysts are targeting for 2010.

Impressive generation of free cash flow and next year's profit target of $0.57 a share are refreshing positives, but Overstock's shares are priced too dearly for a company with a volatile history.

TiVo
I waxed bearish on the DVR pioneer last week, and my tune obviously hasn't changed. I think it's great that the company finally vanquished DISH Network in its legal battle, but it remains to be seen what TiVo is capable of earning as it licenses its patent-protected technology across its many partners.

The recent past hasn't been pretty. TiVo has posted losses in each of the past five quarters. It has seen its number of TiVo subscribers shrink by more than 20% over the past year to a mere 2.6 million.

One also has to be concerned about the rapid migration to digital delivery, a movement that will make setting TiVo recorders a thing of the past as more content is served on demand.

DISH Network
Watching TiVo hit new highs after pummeling DISH in the courtroom wasn't a surprise, but what's DISH doing up here?

DISH may have closed out 2009 with 422,000 more subscribers than it started -- after shedding 102,000 accounts in 2008 -- but why is revenue flat? Why did earnings take a 30% hit last year? Why are folks paying less than they used to for DISH service, on average?

The questions will only get harder to answer if digital delivery's popularity renders satellite television as just a commodity. At least pricier -- and larger -- rival DirecTV (Nasdaq: DTV  ) has its NFL Sunday Ticket exclusivity to market. DISH markets itself as the price leader, but what's the future going to look like there, now that DISH has to play nice with TiVo if it wants to keep its DVR customers happy?

Build-A-Bear Workshop
Many mall retailers have been rallying lately. Shoppers are flocking to hip -- and even the not-so-hip -- apparel stores. However, there doesn't seem to be a lot of buzz around the Build-A-Bear shop.

A few years ago, Build-A-Bear was where a lot of young kids wanted to have their birthday parties. Customized bears would be birthed (i.e., stuffed) on the spot, and Build-A-Bear could charge a hefty premium for the experience.

That is so 2005. Build-A-Bear posted a steep loss last year, with comps taking a 13.4% hit overall and a 16.7% hit in North America. This wasn't a fluke. North American comps took a 16.8% hit in 2008, after a 9.9% whack in 2007, and 6.5% slide in 2006.

This chain is home to a slowly dying fad. You have to go all the way back to 2004 to find the last time Build-A-Bear delivered top-line growth at the individual store level. Its recent test to begin selling Zhu-Zhu hamster toys is desperate and comes a holiday season too late.

AOL
I realize that AOL hasn't traded for a full 52 weeks, but the December spinoff did hit a new high yesterday.

I do like some of the local-centric moves at AOL, but I still can't wrap my head around the freefalling access business and the declines in online advertising.

I'm not alone. Analysts see revenue taking a 20% hit this year, with earnings falling from $3.05 to $2.66 a share. Things aren't expected to get any better next year, with analysts forecasting a profit of $2.21 a share in 2011 on a 12% top-line slip.

Time Warner (NYSE: TWX  ) spun off AOL at a fire sale price, but until earnings and revenue growth heat up, there's just nothing to see here.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz realizes that you don't know you've hit your peak until you're going downhill. He owns no shares in any of the companies in this story and is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.


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  • Report this Comment On April 13, 2010, at 4:05 PM, randlem wrote:

    Rick,

    I'm all for standing by your guns when you think you're right, but since you've sold your TiVo shares, (and congrats for hanging on when NOBODY was on your side), you've lost your perspective. Rule Breakers are all about being against market sentiment, (which is still heavily against TiVo by the way), when they see a different story. I get that TiVo may no longer be in that category for you now that you've finally realized profits. But it's one thing to no longer see a lot of upside and quite another to jump on the "TiVo is dead" bandwagon.

    I agree that TiVo has seen quite a bit of upside once it became clear to most folks that DISH is fighting a truly losing battle. (Why it's not clear to DISH yet is another question.) But the rest of the industry hasn't seen the light yet, and when they do, there will be tremendous upside left to TiVo. I think you're a little early on your call to sell, not that I blame you for taking profits. But you're WAY early to be sounding the death knell, which your two recent blog posts seem to be doing.

    You're also too wound around the axle on the fact that TiVo records television. You're completely missing the fact that TiVo is, at it's heart, a content aggregator, search, and display device, which is exactly what people need as they move to digital delivery. It's not a light switch, but a slow progression, and TiVo is the only company that fills that niche. TiVo is just getting started, my friend.

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