I have a secret to share: I am beginning to loathe earnings season.
Perhaps ordinary investors, people with -- what's the word? Ah, "lives" -- don't notice the problems arising with this time of year. Focusing only on the news releases concerning the half dozen or so stocks that they own, the dozen or so that they wish they owned, and of course, yes, the "lives" thing, they may not realize this simple fact: Every day during this season, for about two months straight, approximately 8 gazillion companies announce their earnings all at once.
And try as we might, we just can't cover them all in the time allotted. And so it was that I failed to follow up on the story of one of my erstwhile favorite companies back in May. And so it also was that I somehow missed the chance to write promptly about it when it reported earnings again on Aug. 1. But I'll be danged if I let the company's news slide completely this time.
The stock in question, DVD copy protector Macrovision
Cue walloping No. 2, as Macrovision took a second 6% hit to its share price to match its 6% loss from March.
And now we reach the present day (minus 9). On Aug. 1, Macrovision swung and missed for a third and final time, reporting a 25% increase in sales, but a 33% decline in profits versus Q2 2004. Worse, from the Street's perspective, Macrovision lowered its forward earnings guidance yet again, predicting flat sequential earnings in Q3 and giving just a pro forma (Latin for "Look out below!"), and lower than previous, guess at fiscal 2005 profits of $0.89 to $0.92.
That was strike three, folks. And mighty Casey had struck out. Wall Street proceeded to take a baseball bat to Macrovision's equity -- this time knocking the stock for a 31% loop.
It's at this point that my inner value investor begins to sit up and take notice. Macrovision has $268 million in cash and short- and long-term investments, a market cap of $908 million, and thus an enterprise value of just $640 million. Assume that the company eventually returns to its past two years' performance -- years in which Macrovision generated more than $50 million in annual free cash flow.
If it can do that and live up to the reduced growth expectations that analysts still have for it, by my calculations, Macrovision thus looks roughly 30% undervalued at today's price.
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Fool contributor Rich Smith holds no position, short or long, in Macrovision.