I'm a market trash picker, and after weeks of swoons, one of the companies that has caught my eye is Scholastic
If you're years out of school and buy all your books at Barnes & Noble
Thursday, Scholastic hit a new 52-week low on the heels of some pretty ugly numbers, the unwelcome results from a tough third quarter. Revenues came in a lot lighter than the Street predicted, at $488 million, and the bottom line was positively ghastly, showing a loss of $0.37 per share against the $0.07 per stub that analysts had predicted.
But it was probably the forward guidance that sent the stock down a lucky 13%, because the company predicted full-year earnings in the $1.70 to $1.80 range, as opposed to the $2.30 to $2.50 per share it had hoped to make. Now, the new guidance includes $0.15 per share in severance expenses, but even if you give management a pass on that item, you're looking at a midrange of $1.90 per share, or a 21% haircut.
Given that Q3 is usually the company's worst quarter, which would tend to magnify any shortfall, and given the fact that the firm does produce decent free cash flow, especially when sales are up to snuff, you might be wondering if the stock's sinking status puts it into value turf.
My opinion is a firm "not yet." There are a lot of moving parts here, which could mask some real value potential, or mask a bigger mess in the making. The major problem is that Scholastic's revenue growth looks like it's going to remain in the mid-single digits, and that means the path to profits and cash flow must swerve into the dark forest. Management has already identified $40 million in savings it hopes to get onto the books within the next two years, but that's not a bright enough light to show me whether the path comes out on the other side of the wood, or ends up in the belly of some monster. Until there's more clarity or a better price, I'll be letting these shares wander that dark wood on their own.
Seth Jayson likes a deal on any stock, provided he can figure out that he's really getting a deal. At the time of publication, he had no positions in any company mentioned here. View his stock holdings and Fool profile here. Amazon.com is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation. Fool rules are here.