Investors running price checks on Symbol Technologies
The company has an excuse, but in Symbol's case, it's not helping its cause. Management attributes the bulk of the miss -- a mere penny on a per-share basis -- to a $5 million revenue deferral from an overseas distributor. Given Symbol's past, an accounting issue, no matter how minor, is never a good thing.
You'll recall that last year, the company had to restate earnings, even admitting to fraud. That stings, and a cowering dog mentality has Symbol slapping boilerplate language into the headlines of its press releases.
"Symbol Technologies Reports Unaudited 2003 Fourth Quarter and Full-Year Results," reads last night's release. Can you imagine the burden of carrying that stigma? Happy unaudited birthday! Honey, I pledge my unaudited love to you.
The rub is that companies that get burned at the stake of public opinion often come back with the cleanest hands of all. I would put more faith in a tainted company like Tyco
That makes today's weakness a tempting buying opportunity. While the company was barely profitable in a charge-filled 2003, it is looking to earn between $0.40 and $0.50 a share this year on double-digit revenue growth. That's less than what Wall Street was hoping for in 2004 -- analysts expected as much as $0.64 a share -- but this is a company that's starting to bounce back.
If it takes Symbol a little longer, that's fine. Let time heal the old wounds. After all, the last time Symbol chased elusive targets issued by Wall Street citizenry, it found itself overproducing, shipping early, and ultimately fudging its numbers.
Self-billed The Enterprise Mobility Company, Symbol should thrive in an improving economy and has grown its top line even in a trying one. Maybe it's the contrarian in me but my unaudited faith lies in the Symbol I see before me.
Do you have a soft spot for strays over pedigree breeds? Do you enjoy taking the risk of buying a damaged company that looks like it's starting to turn the corner? What are the signs of a legitimate comeback? All this and more -- in the Turnarounds/Value Investing discussion board. Only on Fool.com.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz does not own shares in any companies mentioned in this story.