3 Predictions for This Week

I went out on a limb last week and came out with mixed results.

  • I predicted that shares of SodaStream (Nasdaq: SODA  ) would rise on Wednesday, after posting its results for the quarter that included the Christmas season. It was a solid quarter, but the shares still tumbled 14%. Soft unit sales for its starter systems was one of the culprits, but there was also a healthy rally leading up to the report. SodaStream's close on Wednesday was higher than where the stock was just a week earlier. Still, my call was for Wednesday alone. I was wrong.
  • I predicted that the tech-heavy Nasdaq would outperform the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI  ) . It's been a strong year so far for tech stocks relative to the more diversified blue chips that make up the 30 Dow components. Nasdaq clocked in with a mere 0.4% gain, but that was better than the Dow's flat close. I was right.
  • My final call was for AutoZone (NYSE: AZO  ) to speed past the pros on the bottom line. Well, the auto-parts retailer came through. AutoZone's quarterly net income of $4.15 a share was more than enough to beat out the pros parked at $4.04 a share. I was right.

Two for three? I know that I can do better than that.

Let me once again whip out my trusty, dusty, and occasionally accurate crystal ball to make three calls that may play out over the next few trading days.

1. Yelp will close lower this week
The market got excited about Yelp's (NYSE: YELP  ) Wall Street debut on Friday. And why not? Yelp is a popular dot-com brand with folks that like to swap restaurant reviews, and revenue soared 74% last year.

However, investors who chased the IPO's deliberately lean float pushed the stock above any reasonable valuation. A $1.5 billion market cap is a bit of a stretch for a profitless company in a low-paying niche with just $83.3 million in trailing revenue.

Yelp may be a quality company, but not at the value implied by Friday's close. I'm looking for saner heads to prevail -- and bail.

2.The Nasdaq Composite will once again beat the Dow this week 
Betting on tech over stodgy blue chips is usually a good bet, and that has certainly been the case so far in 2012. The market is ripe for the tech-stacked secondary stocks to continue to outpace the 30 megacaps that make up the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

3. VeriFone will beat Wall Street's earnings estimates
It pays to pay these days.

VeriFone (NYSE: AZO  ) has been a solid performer. The provider of electronic payment solutions may not be a household name, but check the brand of the machine you're using to scan your own credit or debit card at a store or gas pump. You may be surprised at how prominent VeriFone is in this space. The company's retail enterprise applications are also popular behind the scenes.

If analysts say that the company earned $0.52 a share in its latest quarter, I'll whip out a "greater than" sign. History's on my side!

One of my best tricks to beating the market is finding stocks that perpetually land ahead of the prognosticators. Let's go over the past year of earnings reports.

Quarter

EPS Estimate

EPS

Surprise

Q1 2011 $0.39 $0.43 10%
Q2 2011 $0.43 $0.46 7%
Q3 2011 $0.46 $0.49 7%
Q4 2011 $0.51 $0.53 4%

Source: Thomson Reuters.

Things can change, of course. We're starting to pay in new ways, and it remains to be seen how VeriFone's future will play out, as smartphones increasingly allow shoppers to complete transactions without having to swipe plastic. However, none of that should be getting in the way of VeriFone's streak in the near term. Everything seems to be falling in place for another strong quarter on the bottom line.

Three for the road
Well, that's three predictions right there. Let's see how I fare this week.

If you like to stay on top of what happens next -- and I'm guessing you do, because you're reading this article -- how about checking out The Motley Fool's top stock for 2012? It's a free report, but only for a limited time, so check it out now.

Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of SodaStream International. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz calls them as he sees them. He owns no shares in any of the stocks 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 Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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