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Powerwave is a nuts-and-bolts play on the wireless market that caters to every industry player you'd care to name. Never you mind, individual handset designer, because Powerwave's products play on the infrastructure side of things and thus benefits from any type of smartphone growth. Doesn't matter whether iPhones end up killing Androids or the other way around.
In fact, Powerwave investors cackle with glee when AT&T (NYSE: T ) rolls out another round of network improvements -- or Verizon (NYSE: VZ ) , Sprint Nextel (NYSE: S ) , or any other major network provider. You see, these antennas and other wireless system components go into infrastructure hardware sold by system integrators like LM Ericsson Telephone (Nasdaq: ERIC ) and the Nokia (NYSE: NOK ) Siemens (NYSE: SI ) joint venture, with Nokia Siemens being Powerwave's largest customer by far over the last several years.
That broad and deep customer base is a defining characteristic of Powerwave. The competition largely consists of the company's largest customers. Internal development teams at equipment builders such as Ericsson, Nokia Siemens, and Samsung provide the most relevant challenge to Powerwave's business.
All is not smooth sailing, despite this unique market position. First-quarter sales of $137 million came in 19% above the year-ago quarter but 11% below analyst consensus, largely because of delays as Powerwave ramped up a new line of LTE equipment. Weak sales begat a non-GAAP net loss of $0.01 per share where analysts had wanted profits of $0.03 per share.
And so the stock took a pummeling in Friday trading, which extended into more pain on Monday; Powerwave is down by more than 8% since publishing that report.
Even so, the stock has seen market-spanking returns of 11% since the previous quarterly report and 131% over the last year. With trailing earnings running close to breakeven, the P/E ratio becomes rather useless as a valuation gauge, but the stock looks cheap by other metrics: Shares are trading for a mere 14 times forward earnings, and growth prospects look encouraging well into the future as networks battle to keep up with data demands for years to come.
Will Powerwave get back up after this quarter's disappointing showing? Order delays hardly spell long-term doom and management is sticking to its full-year guidance, so I think the company will be fine. Find out one way or another by adding Powerwave to your Foolish watchlist. It's the best way to stay on top of the news that really matters.