For at least the fifth quarter in a row, Comtech not only beat Wall Street expectations, but did so handily. That said, Comtech guidance for the fourth quarter, though positive, was perhaps a bit more modest than this quarter would have suggested. The stock initially eased off a bit once that guidance was issued on the conference call, but quickly rebounded.
Sales for the third quarter were up 47% and the company saw robust top-line results across all three product segments -- with sales in mobile data almost doubling and sales in RF amplifiers more than doubling. Margins were solid and a lower tax rate in this quarter propelled net income growth of 76% over the prior year.
Management certainly isn't abusing the balance sheet to attain this growth. Accounts receivable actually declined and inventory growth seems appropriate relative to the growth of the business. Cash flow was also strong and the company has generated about $43 million of free cash flow over the trailing three quarters.
Simply put, business is solid. Comtech has maintained its market share and technology leadership in satellite modems and the government is accelerating the launch of next-generation mobile transceivers.
Better still, business could get better. While the government will likely always be a significant factor, Comtech does serve growing customers like PanAmSat
Looking just a bit ahead, it doesn't take a lot of imagination to foresee more commercial interest. The telecom business has applications addressing VoIP, long distance, and TV (broadcast or cable), and the satellite tracking used in mobile data could be useful to industries like trucking. What's more, the RF amplifier business has numerous potential markets like medicine, satellite communications, and general instrumentation.
With robust growth, strong technological leadership, and a very attractive balance sheet, I really like this company. Unfortunately, it's been pushed up more than 140% over the past year. Nevertheless, with an EV-to-FCF ratio in the teens, a strong return on equity, and a history of surpassing estimates, I don't think it's overpriced just yet.
For more Foolish Takes on the communications and satellite worlds:
- Audible's Loud Pop
- 8 Million Ears Ago
- The Long View From PanAmSat
- ViaSat Looks for High-Orbit Growth
Fool contributor Stephen Simpson has no financial interest in any stocks mentioned (that means he's neither long nor short the shares).