I went out on a limb last week, and now it's time to see how that decision played out.
- I predicted that Pandora Media (NYSE: P ) would close out the week higher. "It begins this new week in the single digits," I wrote at the time. "The recipe is right for a return to the double digits if the quarterly report impresses." The music-streaming site certainly did impress, surprising the market with breakeven results and encouraging guidance. The stock soared 21% on the week. I was right.
- I predicted that the tech-heavy Nasdaq would outperform the Dow Jones Industrial Average. (INDEX: ^DJI ) . This was a consistent winning call during the first quarter, but it's been hit-or-miss during the past few months. The market was soft this week, with the tech-heavy Nasdaq shedding 0.1% of its value. The Dow, meanwhile, managed to decline by 0.5%. I was right.
- My final call was for Vera Bradley (Nasdaq: VRA ) to beat Wall Street's profit target. The maker of stylish suitcases, handbags, and other travel accessories had beaten analyst estimates routinely over the past year. Well, it wasn't to be. Vera Bradley served up a quarterly profit of $0.33 a share, short of the $0.35 the pros were forecasting. I was wrong.
Two out of three? 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. Quiksilver will miss Wall Street's profit target
Quiksilver (NYSE: ZQK ) runs a trendy retailer chain selling apparel, footwear, and accessories. It targets young consumers with a penchant for outdoor sports, including surfing, skating, and snowboarding.
When Quiksilver reports on Thursday, analysts are projecting net income of $0.05 a share. But the prognosticators have overestimated Quiksilver's profitability in each of the past four quarters. That's a trend that's hard to bet against. Disappointing guidance by one of its peers this past Thursday night merely seals the deal.
My first prediction is that Quiksilver will earn less than the $0.05 a share that stands as the analyst consensus bottom-line estimate.
2.The Nasdaq Composite will beat the Dow this week
Betting on tech over stodgy blue chips was a steady winning bet for me earlier this year. This has been a losing bet lately, but I still think technology is the best sector to be invested in these days.
I'm going to stick with this pick. Most of the names in the composite are just too cheap at this point. 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.Dollar General will beat Wall Street's earnings estimates
Some stocks are just flat-out better than others.
Dollar General (NYSE: DG ) thrived during the economic downturn, making the most of shoppers who flocked to the thrift store operator's deep discounts. However, it's also doing pretty well even now, when the economy is showing some signs of life. There's a reason the stock has nearly doubled over the past two years.
Another thing it does is make analysts look like perpetual underachievers. If analysts say the company earned $0.64 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.
Source: Thomson Reuters.
Things can change, of course -- like shopping trends. Perhaps more important for Dollar General's bottom line, the climate for deep discounters can change to the point where margins suffer even if the registers continue ringing.
However, there are no signs that the company will fumble this quarter to the point of failing to live up to Wall Street estimates. Everything still seems to be falling into place for another strong quarter on the bottom line.
Three for the road
Well, there are 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.