Earnings season has kicked into high-gear, which led this week to the only reaction investors are familiar with of late -- bullish buying with reckless abandonment. For bulls, these rallies may seem like a dream come true. For skeptics like me, they’re opportunities to see whether companies trading near their 52-week highs really deserve their current valuations.
Keep in mind that some companies deserve their lofty prices. Buffalo Wild Wings (Nasdaq: BWLD ) showed once again why their chicken is kickin’. The company’s results this week easily sailed past expectations as lower chicken prices and happy-hour promotions drove same-store sales higher. But some companies might deserve a kick in the pants. Here’s a look at three companies that could be worth selling.
Pharmasset … what assets?
Pharmasset (Nasdaq: VRUS ) gets my vote for most ironic company name, since it technically has few tangible assets and zero marketable drugs. The company is currently in trials developing an oral therapy to combat Hepatitis C. Though partnered with industry giants Roche and Bristol Myers Squibb (NYSE: BMY ) , I’d hardly call this stock a slam dunk.
Pharmasset is significantly trailing its rivals in getting its drug to market. As Motley Fool’s pipeline guru Brian Orelli pointed out a month ago, Merck (NYSE: MRK ) and Vertex Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: VRTX ) have already submitted their Hepatitis C drugs to the FDA for approval. If you ask me, valuing a company at $3.7 billion when it's trailing in an already crowded space and whose clinical data relied on a sample group of 16 people seems awfully risky.
Blind auction anyone?
You know you’re stuck in an episode of the twilight zone when Federal Mogul (Nasdaq: FDML ) is trading higher nearly every day. After spiraling into the abyss of bankruptcy four years ago, the company has since reemerged profitable, and Carl Icahn now owns a majority stake. After less-than-subtle hinting that the company would like to sell itself to the right bidder, shares soared.
Flash-forwarding back to reality, bidders interested in the auto parts supplier that sports a back-breaking $2.8 billion in debt include private-equity firms Carlyle Group and Apollo Global Management. But many other potential buyers have been scared off by the rise in shares. Shareholders have likely squeezed every last bit of value out of this company in the past few weeks, and it’s seeming increasingly unlikely that a deal would even go through with Federal Mogul at such an inflated valuation. Next please…
Who ordered the box of pre-packaged fail?
Don’t look now, but Weight Watchers International (NYSE: WTW ) valuation is looking out of shape. This highly cyclical industry has experienced considerably more boom than bust in the past few years. Unfortunately for Weight Watchers, rival Medifast (NYSE: MED ) signaled what could be the beginning of an industry-wide downturn when it reported results which missed by a mile last month.
Options activity on the stock also has to be worrisome, with put action far outpacing calls recently. Bets are being made on the company’s future, and the consensus appears to be that its share price is currently overweight.
What’s your take on these stocks? Are they sells or belles? Share your thoughts in the comments section below and consider tracking Pharmasset, Federal Mogul, and Weight Watchers International as well as your own personalized portfolio of stocks with My Watchlist.