Even the exuberance of management's press-release blizzard last quarter was no match for the reality of Lamson & Sessions'
The maker of household electrical boxes, conduits, and wiring devices that allow Joe Homeowner to feel just as handy as Bob the Builder, topped its forecasts by turning in record sales of $143.3 million, up 48% over last year, and profits that soared tenfold to $14.6 million, or $0.93 a share, well above the $0.09 it made in the fourth quarter of 2004.
The year was just as successful, with the housing boom continuing and the renovation market showing little signs of weakening. With higher costs that it was able to pass on to customers at will, Lamson saw revenues peak and was able to say that it would be able to continue to meet its annual net sales growth targets of 8% to 10%. However, in contrast to the heady press releases of the last quarter, it said it would not be offering further full-year guidance.
In addition to satisfying the master-carpentry delusions of homeowners, Lamson & Sessions also supplies products to companies such as Verizon
Similarly, much larger competitor Thomas & Betts
Lamson's stock tumbled 20% when the earnings were announced, possibly because the company sees new-home construction moderating, even as renovations are expected to remain stable. Considering that the home-products segment saw a 21% increase over the fourth quarter last year, it might explain why investors were jittery with the outlook and why the company withheld further guidance until later on. The company just doesn't see the second half of the year being as giddy as it was last year.
While insiders, particularly CEO John Schulze, continue to sell, I still wouldn't read too much into it. There are many reasons insiders might want to sell their stock, and many of them have nothing to do with the company's future performance. A sign to watch for would be selling that persists even if the stock continues to decline. Outside of planned sales programs, that might be an indication of a lack of confidence in the future, despite what any rosy press release may maintain to the contrary. Schulze still owns 250,000 shares, so he holds onto a significant stake in his company, and insiders control nearly a quarter of all outstanding shares.
Lamson, so it seems, continues to have a bright future.
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