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3 Stocks We're Watching in the 3rd Quarter

By Brian Feroldi, Tyler Crowe, and Timothy Green – Jul 13, 2016 at 6:27AM

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Here's why our team of contributors will be keeping a close watch on these three companies this quarter.

Image source: Getty Images.

We Fools always invest with the long term in mind, but that doesn't mean we turn a blind eye to short-term performance. After all, the business landscape is constantly changing, so it's important for investors to keep close tabs on the stocks they own. That way they can determine if the investing theses for owning the stocks are still on track.

Knowing that, we asked a team of Motley Fool contributors to share a stock that they plan on watching closely in the third quarter. Read below to find out which stocks they selected and why they will be paying close attention to the companies' results.

Where do we go from here?

Tyler CroweNow that Energy Transfer Equity (ET 2.14%) has pulled out of the deal to acquire Williams Companies (WMB 2.51%), there are a lot of questions that the two companies will likely have to answer pretty darned soon. I imagine that management for both companies will want to address this topic on their upcoming conference calls, and it will be an interesting story to follow.

When the deal was announced, the two companies were praising the way the immense size of the combined entity would allow it better access to the capital markets as well as generate some cost savings through a common management. This was an especially pertinent topic because both companies have huge growth projects in the wings that need funding. Unfortunately for the two, it's getting harder to raise capital through debt or equity. Lower share prices mean each new share needs to pay out a high-yield dividend, and both companies have been under pressure from credit rating agencies over their large debt loads. 

Obviously, something needs to change. Ideally, the two companies would lower payouts to shareholders and use that cash to pay for development, as several others have done during this downturn. There are no guarantees that this is the way they go, though. 

Short-term pain, long-term gain

Brian Feroldi: One company that I plan on watching closely this quarter is TripAdvisor (TRIP 0.67%). The company is in the middle of a massive business-model transition right now, which has put its stock under a lot of pressure. I for one plan on digging deep into the company's results to make sure that the long-term bull story behind the stock is still on track.

So what's changed with the business? TripAdvisor has big plans to become more than just a travel-review site, and it is trying to turn into a travel-booking platform. TripAdvisor recently introduced a feature that it calls "instant booking," which allows visitors to book their travel arrangements directly on the company's site. The rationale for making the change is that TripAdvisor will become a one-stop destination for all things related to travel, and if the company can pull off the switch, it will be well-positioned for long-term growth.

That's all great, but the shift is having a big negative impact on the company's short-term results. That's because TripAdvisor cannot recognize the revenue from an instant-booking customer until the trip takes place. Previously, the revenue was recognized at the time of booking, so this small change is delaying revenue from hitting the company's top line. Last quarter, revenue actually declined by 3%. At the same time, the rollout has required TripAdvisor to increase its spending. When you combine those factors, the company's net income actually dropped by 40%, which is a big reason that shares have tanked this year.

TRIP Chart

TRIP data by YCharts.

Analysts are bracing themselves for a similar result in the second quarter. Revenue is expected to be flat, and earnings are projected to decline by about 20%. However, in prior calls management has stated that the company's financials will start to shine again in the second half of this year, and then growth should reaccelerate in 2017.

I'm a firm believer that the business-model change was the right move to make for the long term, but I plan on listening in to make sure that everything is still going according to plan.

Not quite beaten-down enough

Tim Green: Shares of memory-chip manufacturer Micron (MU -1.13%) have lost about two-thirds of their value since peaking in late 2014. The company is facing falling prices for both DRAM and NAND chips, and cost cuts haven't been enough to prevent Micron from posting losses. During the fiscal third quarter, the company posted a net loss of $215 million, down from a net profit of $491 million during the prior-year period.

MU Chart

MU data by YCharts.

Analysts were expecting Micron's guidance for the fourth quarter to confirm that the company's profitability had hit bottom, but Micron instead guided for even bigger losses. The fact that a turnaround won't be happening in the near term sent the stock tumbling, erasing Micron's pre-earnings gains.

Micron still isn't cheap enough for me to be interested. The company sells commodity products in a cyclical industry, and I don't believe it enjoys any significant competitive advantages. Micron currently trades for around its book value, but I'd need a substantial margin of safety before buying shares. Somewhere around $8 per share would be an attractive entry point, and I'm watching Micron during the third quarter to see if pessimism drives the stock that low.

Brian Feroldi owns shares of TripAdvisor. Like this article? Follow him on Twitter where he goes by the handle @Longtermmindset or connect with him on LinkedIn to see more articles like this.

Timothy Green has no position in any stocks mentioned. Tyler Crowe has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends TripAdvisor. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Stocks Mentioned

Micron Technology Stock Quote
Micron Technology
MU
$55.12 (-1.13%) $0.63
TripAdvisor Stock Quote
TripAdvisor
TRIP
$19.58 (0.67%) $0.13
Energy Transfer LP Stock Quote
Energy Transfer LP
ET
$12.41 (2.14%) $0.26
Williams Companies Stock Quote
Williams Companies
WMB
$34.32 (2.51%) $0.84

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

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