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: Down from an earlier 11% pop, shares of Corporate Executive Board (Nasdaq: EXBD) are still neck-and-neck with bouncier stocks like Molycorp and Herbalife, topping the ranks of the NYSE's top gainers today.

So What: Get this -- up until yesterday, Wall Street was telling us CEB would report $0.34 per share in profits in the first quarter, and earn $1.63 by the year's end. Management not only missed the first mark, announcing profits of just $0.33 -- it also announced that full-year earnings could come in as low as $1.50 per share (and gave a range whose midpoint was several percent below the pre-earnings consensus.) Yet the shares still popped!

Now What: The play here is pretty (and painfully) obvious. CEB disappointed last quarter, and promised further disappointment as the year progresses. The stock's priced at 37 times earnings, but is only expected to average 11.4% earnings growth over the next five years. While I admit to liking the fact that CEB generates better free cash flow than it claims as net earnings, the FCF number isn't enough better to change my mind on the valuation.

My advice: If you benefitted from today's pop -- congratulations. Take the money and run.


Will investors heed Rich's advice, or ride the short squeeze (CEB has 5% short interest) to ever higher profits? Follow the story and add Corporate Executive Board to your Watchlist.

Fool contributor Rich Smith does not own shares of, nor is he short, any company named above. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.