4 New Highs Heading Lower

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Not every stock has taken a dive during the savage correction that has rocked the market over the past month and change. Believe it or not, there are still dozens of companies checking in with fresh 52-week highs. Unfortunately, some of them haven't earned the right to buck Mr. Market's malaise.

I may come off as a heartless killjoy, but I see a few companies that hit highs last week, but will likely head lower in the coming weeks and months:





Hain Celestial (Nasdaq: HAIN  )




Akamai (Nasdaq: AKAM  )




Lions Gate Entertainment (NYSE: LGF  )




MercadoLibre (Nasdaq: MELI  )




Source: Yahoo! Finance.

Let's go over the reasons to curb your enthusiasm regarding these overachievers.

Hain Celestial
There are plenty of encouraging signs when it comes to the organic foodstuffs industry. Whole Foods Market (Nasdaq: WFMI  ) -- which struggled with negative comps through the recession -- has now delivered positive store-level growth in each of the past two quarters. United Natural Foods, which provides 60,000 different organic, natural, and specialty products to stores, posted better-than-expected quarterly results last week.

Against this tempting backdrop, Hain Celestial finds itself sputtering. Its latest quarter was a dud. The company behind high-end Terra veggie chips, Celestial Seasonings teas, and WestSoy soymilk saw a drop in fiscal third-quarter revenue, even if one backs out a recent asset sale.

Analysts are targeting a profit of $1.04 a share this fiscal year, and $1.21 a share come 2011. This may seem like a decent step up, but it's more of a V-shaped chart when you factor in the $1.24 a share Hain earned last fiscal year.

You know what's truly sad here? You have to go back nearly two years to find the last time that Hain Celestial beat Wall Street's bottom-line estimate. Not all organic ships are rising with the tide.

The leading content-delivery network is a dot-com rock star. It serves up software updates, web pages, and video streams for some of the Internet's most popular companies.

Unfortunately, this is also a very competitive market. Akamai wowed the market with its market-thumping first quarter, but the pros still see earnings taking a breather this year. Just like Hain Celestial, projected bottom-line improvement next year still finds Akamai earning less in 2011 than it did in 2009.

As the market leader, Akamai should be able to hold its breath underwater the longest, but it's also trading at a rich valuation. Paying 30 times this year's earnings and 26 times next year's target is steep for a company growing a lot more slowly than that.

I'm also concerned about AT&T's (NYSE: T  ) recent decision to stop selling unlimited data plans to new smartphone owners. If other wireless carriers and broadband providers follow suit, we're going to have more conservative bandwidth sipping habits. That's not good for Akamai.

Lions Gate
Executives rejected an ambitious effort by Carl Icahn to acquire the film and television studio for $7 a share last week.

Where does Lions Gate stock go from here? Well, Icahn didn't become a billionaire investor by bidding against himself and overpaying for his investments. He'll move on, and Lions Gate will become gory hacksaw-fodder in its next Saw flick.

Lions Gate has several hot indie faves in its arsenal. It's the company behind Mad Men, Weeds, and Nurse Jackie. However, it has also posted a quarterly loss more often than it has delivered a profit over the past two years.

Spotty profitability and an iffy movie slate -- led by this past weekend's disappointing Killers opening -- aren't all that encouraging here.

There is nothing inherently wrong with the leading Latin American online marketplace. It's growing nicely, and it continues to leave analysts eating its dust, topping consensus estimates by at least 22% in three of the past four quarters.

However, web-based marketplaces are easy to disrupt. Just ask eBay (Nasdaq: EBAY  ) . It was able to topple rival auction sites, but has encountered slower growth these days, as online classifieds and social networking provide opportunities to move wares and services for free.

MercadoLibre is expanding in Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking markets, so the company certainly has room for growth. However, eBay was once a speedster. MercadoLibre is fetching 46 times this year's projected profitability -- a lofty valuation given the lack of visibility in terms of what the competitive landscape will look like in a few years.

Akamai Technologies and MercadoLibre are Motley Fool Rule Breakers choices. eBay and Whole Foods Market are Motley Fool Stock Advisor selections. Motley Fool Options has recommended a bull call spread position on eBay. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz realizes that you don't know you've hit your peak until you're going downhill. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.

Read/Post Comments (2) | Recommend This Article (2)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On June 08, 2010, at 12:10 PM, 5574tjh wrote:

    I see nothing but a great 2nd quarter for Akamai-their Metrics-which I follow have shown a 100% growth over the last 2 months-YOY

    Peak visitors /minute for example for May 2010 was 157,000,000 compared to May 2009 which was 75,000,000 visitors.I expect June with the World Cup to be as good.

  • Report this Comment On June 08, 2010, at 10:37 PM, jflurett wrote:

    I'll defend Akamai as well. I think using the AT&T reasoning is just plain silly. People aren't going to cut back, AT&T is just going to make more money. To think that people who shell out upwards of $400 for a phone/plaything are going to be concerned about a higher bill for their usage is again just silly. Assuming iPhone users are going to cut back on usage is like assuming the Xbox generation will stop racking up credit card debt, like early 20's women will stop buying $400 Coach bags, or like rednecks will stop watching NASCAR because they finally realize the cars only turn one direction and go in a circle.

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