When a company forecasts lower sales or profits, its stock usually takes a hit. It's not always easy to tell whether your company is having a fire sale or burning down. Maybe it's time to get out -- or maybe it's time to buy more!
To help tell the difference, we pair up the dour guidance news with the sentiments of more than 180,000 members of Motley Fool CAPS. If the best stock-pickers think the companies still have the power to turn lemons into lemonade, maybe investors should take notice.
Here are two stocks that have recently announced reduced guidance.
CAPS Rating (out of 5)
Previous or Consensus Estimate
|lululemon athletica (Nasdaq: LULU )||*****||$0.33||$0.28-$0.30||Q212 EPS|
|Modine Manufacturing (NYSE: MOD )||*****||$1.05||$0.60-$0.70||FY13 EPS|
Don't blindly sell into their bearish outlook -- you still need to do some research. Use the announcement as a jumping-off point for additional research.
Walk this way
If, as Foolish writer Dave Zaegel suggests, yoga-wear maker lululemon athletica is "lowballing" its earnings forecast -- at least the full-year numbers it left unchanged -- then that should be just as much of a concern for investors as if it had misguided to higher results or if its inventory numbers were truly a problem. It wouldn't amount so much as to managing expectations as being too focused on what Wall Street thinks about its numbers. Fools have long argued management should take care of the business and the business will ultimately take care of the stock.
Piling-up inventory is an issue in this space. I'm concerned with industry peer Under Armour (NYSE: UA ) , though the markets have thus far dismissed those worries by running its stock up 48% this year and hitting new highs in the process. Granted, lulu's case is a bit different, but stacking up inventory is stacking up inventory regardless, and it could spell trouble down the road.
There's a long history of companies that seemed able to initially defy inventory issues only to succumb afterwards. Zaegel mentions Crocs (Nasdaq: CROX ) as one of the most recent examples of a stock unable to gain control of inventory; Lucent -- before it became the current Alcatel-Lucent, but which precipitated the merger -- is another. In short, investors ignore the stockpiling of inventory at their own peril.
Of course, not every jump in inventory is a problem. Lululemon says it doesn't want to run into the same problem it had before of not having enough inventory on hand as it anticipates higher demand down the road. But as Zaegel also mentions, if demand is growing but full-year guidance is static, then it points to slowing profit growth ahead. Thus, it's either lowballing the numbers or there's a problem it's trying to mask, and neither scenario is a good situation.
It's also true that a single quarter doesn't make a trend; Under Armour, in contrast, has been having recurring inventory imbalances. Call them fads or "niche markets," but I don't like investing in either, so I've rated lululemon to underperform the indexes on CAPS, agreeing with bIlluminati that "sales growth slowing down, and P/E over 50 means it still has a way to fall."
Tell me in the comments section below or on the lululemon athletica CAPS page if you think I'm getting all exercised over nothing, and then add it to the Fool's personalized stock-tracking service to be updated on whether it's a stretch for it to expect growth but offer flat guidance.
A rough patch
For auto-parts supplier Modine Manufacturing, the gloomier outlook is an understandable outgrowth of the shaky European economy. The continent is the heating and cooling systems specialist's largest market, accounting for 38% of total revenues (North America is just pennies behind that in size), and it is undergoing a large restructuring there to align its "cost structure," with its focus on the commercial vehicle market as it exits the automotive arena.
Greece is a shambles. Spain and Italy will soon be getting bailed out. Ireland is crumbling. France might always be the next domino to fall. In short, anything that's not Germany at this point looks disastrous, which is interesting, since BMW has historically been one of its largest clients, but it's now winding down that relationship.
Instead, other important customers like Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT ) will probably be elevated. It, along with Ford, Volvo, and others remains one of the top 10 clients that account for more than 60% of Modine's total revenues.
With 82% of the CAPS members rating Modine believing it will still outperform the broad market averages, it's apparent they think that while its stock will at times run hot and cold, overall it should be able to beat the Street. Add the auto-parts maker to the Fool's free portfolio tracker to see whether Europe pulls it under, as it's threatening to do with the rest of the world's economies.
Looking under rocks
If industrial stocks like Modine strike your fancy, you might want to check out the Fool's free report, "3 Stocks to Own for the New Industrial Revolution," that takes a look at technology that's poised to turn manufacturing on its head. Read the special report today, because it's available for a limited time only.