Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.
What: Shares of online customer-support specialist LivePerson
So what: It was not a pretty quarter for LivePerson. Though CEO Robert LoCascio said that "the fourth quarter capped a very strong 2010," the market didn't quite see it that way. Fourth-quarter revenue of $29.9 million was slightly short of Wall Street's $30.3 million estimate, while adjusted earnings per share of $0.09 just met the $0.09 expectation. Revenue was up a commendable 21% from last year, but costs rose even faster, driving a year-over-year 11% decline in operating income.
Now what: Looking ahead to 2011 doesn't bring any additional excitement. The midpoint of the company's earnings-per-share guidance for the first quarter is below Wall Street's expectations, while the high end of the full-year outlook is below expectations. At the midpoint of management's guidance, 2011 adjusted earnings per share would increase 15%. That may not sound terrible, but it's far from ideal when investors are paying 31 times that earnings estimate for their shares. As we saw with Akamai
Of course, investor disappointment appears to have waned through the day as the stock has recovered substantially from where it started.
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Akamai Technologies and LivePerson are Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendations. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.
Fool contributor Matt Koppenheffer does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned. You can check out what Matt is keeping an eye on by visiting his CAPS portfolio, or you can follow Matt on Twitter @KoppTheFool or on his RSS feed. The Fool's disclosure policy prefers dividends over a sharp stick in the eye.