3 Earnings Reports That Caught My Attention Last Week

As fourth-quarter earnings reports wind down, and with three-quarters of the year already in the books, I can't help but point out that the majority of reports up until now have been better than expected. With so many companies reporting during the weeks that comprise earnings season, it's easy for some earnings reports to fall through the cracks.

Each week this year, I've taken a look at three companies that could be worth further research after either beating or missing their profit expectations. Today, we'll take a gander at three more companies that reported earnings last week. They may have slid under your radar, but they deserve a look.

Company

Consensus EPS

Reported EPS

Surprise

Kroger (NYSE: KR  )

$0.43

$0.46

7%

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (NASDAQ: GMCR  )

$0.48

$0.64

33%

ReneSola (NYSE: SOL  )

($0.31)

($0.84)

(171%)

Source: Yahoo! Finance.

Kroger
So much for rising food prices! I highlighted Kroger's CEO, David Dillon, as an incredible CEO in August, and if the company's third-quarter earnings report is any indication of his success as a leader, then I may have done a disservice by not praising him enough.

According to Kroger, whose profits leapt 62% during the quarter, an easing in food prices combined with loyalty rewards and an effort to keep prices low on key-selling items, as well as install gas stations with many of its stores to make the shopping experience more convenient, really paid off. With more disposable cash in their pockets, shoppers allowed Kroger to boost its full-year EPS forecast to $2.44-$2.46 from a previous expectation of $2.35-$2.42.

What's more, this isn't necessarily sectorwide strength, as natural and organic grocer Whole Foods Market (NASDAQ: WFM  ) has struggled in recent weeks. A mixture of lost business from Hurricane Sandy, slower store traffic, and the premium price of organic and natural foods has investors worried that a slowdown may be on the horizon. Although Whole Foods still boasts a better gross margin by a mile, it's good to see Kroger getting back on the right track and I look forward to many quarters of continued growth.

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters
As I noted in my weekly analyst debate with Travis Hoium and Alex Planes, investors haven't given Green Mountain nearly enough credit. Yes, it's had its issues with regard to inventory management, but with the tapping of an experienced incoming CEO in Brian Kelley, as well as a solid third-quarter report, I feel we can move past those worries now.

For the quarter, Green Mountain reported a 33% increase in sales to $946 million as sales of its K-Cups and Keurig brewing machines charged higher. Furthermore, Green Mountain expects sales to rise by 15% to 20% next year, abating some of the fears that Starbucks' (NASDAQ: SBUX  ) new brewing machine, the Verismo, would eat into Keurig sales. It is worth noting, though, that Vue sales weren't nearly as strong as expected, although I would look for Green Mountain to expand its partnerships with Staburcks and Dunkin' Brands (NASDAQ: DNKN  ) to drive sales. Even after doubling off its lows, at just 12 times forward earnings, Green Mountain still appears to be a tasty value.

ReneSola
It's not often that you can miss EPS by 171% and still find your stock shooting higher, but that's exactly what solar wafer and power panel products maker ReneSola did last week.

The company did manage to report a 6% increase in module MW shipments, although selling prices continued to fall. The news that moved ReneSola higher was that it expects module shipments to increase by 75% quarter over quarter in the upcoming quarter and it anticipates reporting positive gross margin. Before you get too excited, let's point out some of the other alarming factors here.

For one, ReneSola's cash balance and debt load are heading in the wrong direction. Over the past year, total cash has decreased by $115 million while its debt has grown by $159 million. Second, selling more isn't a solution if wafer and panel product prices continue to fall. Yes, it makes revenue increases look pretty for analysts, but it doesn't do a darn thing for margins. Finally, where are the catalysts? Chinese solar wafer and product producers are at one another's throats trying to make sales, and that isn't helping prices or the supply glut one bit. I suggest getting out the caution tape, because this mini-rally has "avoid, avoid, avoid!" written all over it!

Foolish roundup
Sometimes an earnings beat or miss isn't as cut-and-dried as it appears. I've given my two cents on what's next for each of these companies -- now it's your turn to sound off. Share your thoughts in the comments section below and consider adding these stocks to your free and personalized watchlist.

Should Green Mountain worry about Starbucks' new Verismo or is keeping its friends close and its enemy's closer the perfect game plan? Find out the answer to this question and much more by getting your copy of our latest premium research report on Green Mountain. Packed with in-depth analysis on the opportunities and threats facing Green Mountain -- and complete with a year of regular updates -- this report will give you the tools needed to make smart long-term investing decisions. Click here to learn more.


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