The markets have rebounded from their recent freakout, resuming a dramatic rise. Still, resist the urge to high-five everyone in the cubicles next to you just because your stock also strapped on a rocket pack. Smart investors won't celebrate until they know that upward leap was justified. Without a fundamental basis for the bounce, these stocks can quickly make the return trip down.
Is now the time to lock in profits, or just the first step toward even higher valuations down the road? Let's examine several stocks that just hit the afterburners, and see whether they're truly headed into orbit.
CAPS Rating (out of 5)
|Aruba Networks (Nasdaq: ARUN )||
|Taseko Mines (AMEX: TGB )||
|Hercules Offshore (Nasdaq: HERO )||
The Dow jumped 173 points Friday, or 1.2%, so stocks that went appreciably higher are pretty big deals.
A different social network
Everything's turned sunny for Aruba Networks. It's back from vacation, tanned, rested, and ready to roll. Revenue rose 47% in the fourth quarter, and gross margins climbed once more. The concerns that NetApp ushered in, which sent the whole storage and networking space spiraling down, were nowhere in sight. While analysts may have downgraded Acme Packet (Nasdaq: APKT ) on worries about an industry slowdown, Aruba seems to have distanced itself from them.
But maybe that was just a spray-on tan Aruba was sporting, however paradisical the company's name. While business was better for the wireless network equipment maker, the strong profit picture it reported resulted from a one-time income tax benefit worth $72.8 million.
Excluding those one-time adjustments, Aruba earned $0.17 per share, a penny per share better than what Wall Street was expecting. As with many companies this year, smartphone adoption has been driving business. Yet with higher expenses from R&D and sales and marketing, Aruba generated a $204,000 operating loss in the fourth quarter, compared to $695,000 in profits last year.
This company has the best products and best integrated systems in the networking space. When companies start looking for secure, reliable wireless networking instead of cheap wireless networking, Aruba will be the answer.
Tell us in the comments section below or on the Aruba Networks CAPS page if you think it's equipped to go the distance.
Another path to prosperity
Investors in Taseko Mines seemed to discount the company's flagship Gibraltar mine. Even before Taseko also greatly expanded its reserve base, the miner's 75% stake in Gibraltar warranted a significantly larger valuation.
There's a mountain of evidence that copper is in a long-term secular bull market. Supply concerns are growing as production levels decline, underscoring Joy Global's (Nasdaq: JOYG ) assertion that the metal has "the strongest fundamentals."
At the stock's discounted valuation, Taseko's Prosperity copper and gold project was simply a free bonus for investors, even after the Canadian government refused to issue a permit to begin operations there. But the true comprehensive value of Taseko may become apparent to more people, now that Prosperity has started moving toward possible approval again. Canada's Environmental Assessment Agency accepted Taseko's project description. Its environmental assessment will begin by early November, with a clearer path for regulatory review now in place. As the world's seventh-largest gold-copper deposit, and Canada's largest, Prosperity could definitely live up to its name.
(Not so) deep in the thick of it
Shallow-water driller Hercules Offshore benefited from growing activity in the Gulf of Mexico and elsewhere. Utilization rates and dayrates are on the rise. In the last month alone, domestic duration rates for its rigs rose from 52 days to 84, while international rates jumped from 171 to 349 days.
As activity seeps back into the Gulf, it's lifting both shallow and deepwater drillers. ATP Oil & Gas (Nasdaq: ATPG ) , which has more than two-thirds of its oil and gas reserves in the Gulf of Mexico, was jolted awake recently after its third rig came online.
Even after the latest bounce, Hercules shares trade at almost half the level they did just a few months ago. Yet the company still produces strong free cash flow, even if its GAAP earnings look lackluster. That could be why 96% of the more than 1,650 CAPS members rating the offshore driller believe it will outperform the broad market indexes.
Let us know on the Hercules Offshore CAPS page whether it will take a Herculean effort to restore this company to its former highs.
Going into orbit
It pays to start your own research on these stocks on Motley Fool CAPS, where you can read a company's financial reports, scrutinize key data and charts, and examine the comments your fellow investors have made, all from the stock's CAPS page. Then you can decide for yourself whether your stock's headed for reentry, or off to infinity and beyond.