On Friday, Investors once again turned their attention to the mixed earnings landscape and pushed the broad-based S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) from negative territory where it spent much of the day, to a slightly higher finish. Wholesale inventories rose 1.1% for March and basically matched the expectations of economists and the Fed.
With the S&P 500 having gained so much during the past five years, we're seeing quite the struggle ensue this quarter between optimists and pessimists considering that year-over-year EPS for the index, as a whole, is expected to be down in the low-single digits.
Optimists continue to point toward the nearly three-quarters of companies that have topped EPS estimates thus far, and the growing number of dividend increases and share buybacks as evidence that corporate America is doing what it can to put shareholders first.
In the other corner, pessimists have honed in on the fact that cost-cutting and share repurchases have driven many of these EPS beats rather than good old-fashioned organic growth. These skeptics rightly understand that cost-cutting is a short-term measure, not a long-term solution.
Needless to say, with this battle ongoing, there wasn't much in the way of movement for the S&P 500 today, with the index inching higher by 2.85 points (0.15%) to close at 1,878.48.
In spite of the modest move higher, home infusion and pharmacy-benefit management-services provider BioScrip (NASDAQ:BIOS) surged by 17.1% after reporting its first-quarter earnings results before the opening bell.
For the quarter, BioScrip delivered a 32.3% increase in revenue from continuing operations, to $58.5 million, although gross margin declined 370 basis points, to 27.2%, mainly due to less in the way of higher-margin PBM service revenue. On an adjusted basis, its loss from continuing operations rose to $11.4 million from $2.2 million in the prior-year period.
Ultimately, BioScrip's $0.13 per-share loss was $0.11 worse than expected. What excited shareholders, however, was the company's full-year revenue forecast of $940 million-$980 million, which was well ahead of the Street's current expectation of $922 million. Before you get too excited, keep in mind that this higher revenue could come with lower margins, so that may not necessarily mean better times are ahead for BioScrip. I would still suggest remaining parked on the sidelines until there's a definitive improvement in its bottom line.
Following closely behind BioScrip was closeout home-accessories retailer Tuesday Morning (NASDAQ:TUES), which gained 15.6% after it reported better-than-expected third-quarter results. During the quarter, Tuesday Morning managed to grow sales by 2.6%, to $182.8 million, as comparable-store sales screamed higher by 6.4%. The company attributed an 8.4% increase in customer transactions for the growth, though noted that the average ticket was down 1.9%. Adjusted net loss for the quarter also shrank to $5.4 million, or $0.13 per share, from $6.9 million in the prior-year period. By comparison, Tuesday Morning's sales fell about $0.8 million shy of estimates, but the turnaround candidate topped EPS with a $0.01 per-share narrower loss than expected. Investors have to be happy with the huge increase in customer traffic, though it's still a bit worrisome that consumers are buying less per visit. As long as Tuesday Morning's margins aren't affected (and they were basically flat year over year), there's a chance it could continue its turnaround campaign.
Finally, specialized microporous membrane developer Polypore International (NYSE:PPO) jumped 15% after reporting its first-quarter results after the bell last night and receiving two key analyst upgrades before the bell. For the quarter, Polypore announced a 10% jump in revenue, to $161 million, right in line with Wall Street's expectations, while net income rose 36%, to $13.6 million, or $0.30 per share, $0.02 lower than Wall Street expected. Investors were more than willing to forgive the miss, though, after Polypore also announced a five-year lithium supply agreement with Panasonic for large-format batteries, meaning more predictable cash flow for the company. In response to the news, both DA Davidson and Ascendiant Capital upgraded Polypore to a "buy" rating, with DA Davidson placing a $42 price target on the company, implying 21% upside from yesterday's close. While I appreciate the deal with Panasonic, I believe much of this optimism has been baked into shares, which are now trading at 20 times forward earnings. I would suggest waiting for a sizable pullback here.
Sean Williams has no material interest in any companies mentioned in this article. You can follow him on CAPS under the screen name TMFUltraLong, track every pick he makes under the screen name TrackUltraLong, and check him out on Twitter, where he goes by the handle @TMFUltraLong.
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