Shares of CalAmp Corp. (NASDAQ:CAMP) have climbed nearly 40% so far in 2017, so it might be tempting to take profits and put them to work elsewhere. But ahead of the machine-to-machine communication specialist's fiscal second-quarter 2017 report next week, I think it's time for long-term investors to get greedy and buy CalAmp stock.
To understand why, let's take a closer look at what brought CalAmp this stage, and at what investors can expect from the company.
How CalAmp got here
For perspective, despite its recent rise, CalAmp stock is currently down slightly from where it stood at the end of 2015. At the start of this year, CalAmp was still reeling from its early 2016 move to shutter its satellite products division after losing the business of its primary customer, Echostar -- which represented essentially all of CalAmp's satellite revenue -- amid supplier consolidation efforts.
The satellite business, for its part, was a low-growth opportunity but also delivered steady contributions to profitability and cash flow that CalAmp was able to redirect into its more promising Internet of Things-centric wireless datacom segment -- think, for example, vehicle mobile resource management (MRM) products for vehicle telematics applications, LTE routers to enable smart grid applications, and services such as fleet management and automotive vehicle recovery solutions. Nonetheless, CalAmp insisted that the loss of the satellite division was only a near-term problem and would not have a negative impact on its long-term results.
But if that wasn't enough, throughout 2016, macroeconomic headwinds in North America weighed on demand for CalAmp's MRM telematics products. But CalAmp stayed the course, fostering a combination of organic and acquisitive growth to launch products and capture potentially massive untapped opportunities for incremental growth.
Early this year, for instance, CalAmp leveraged its 2016 acquisition of vehicle-recovery specialist LoJack to launch CalAmp Supply Chain Integrity (SCI), propelling it into the $5 billion-plus cold chain and supply-chain visibility market. In CalAmp's most recent quarter, the company lauded the commercial launch of crash notification and reconstruction services from Crashboxx, an early-stage insurance telematics company it acquired in 2015 for just $1.5 million plus potential future earn-out payments. And earlier this week, CalAmp took an equity stake in connected car partner ThinxNet GmbH, albeit with undisclosed terms.
Where CalAmp is headed
But if CalAmp's latest financial guidance is any indication, investors should arguably be most excited for what's to come. More specifically, recall that CalAmp shares declined modestly after last quarter's report, as investors were underwhelmed with the company's forward earnings outlook. During the subsequent conference call, however, CalAmp management explained that the company is boosting its R&D expenses in the current quarter to help support "strategic program rollouts with key customers that are expected to contribute revenue in the coming quarters."
Translation: CalAmp's efforts in recent years to position itself for new growth should begin to yield more tangible fruit in the months ahead. To be fair, it's unclear from which customers CalAmp expects to derive this growth -- though management did note that they were "a number of different customers and not necessarily the same customers we've talked about in the past" -- and perhaps we'll receive more color to that end in the quarterly call next week. But for investors willing to buy CalAmp stock now before its business traction becomes evident, I think its recent gains are only the beginning.