After wrapping up an incredibly strong first quarter in terms of earnings reports, it's time to dive headfirst into the second quarter. With so many companies reporting during the weeks that comprise earnings season each quarter, it's easy for some earnings reports to fall through the cracks.

Each week this year, I've taken a look at three companies that could be worth further research after either beating or missing their profit expectations. Today we're going to take a look at three more companies that reported earnings last week. If they slid under your radar, they deserve a look:


Consensus EPS

Reported EPS


Alcoa (NYSE: AA) ($0.04) $0.10 350%
Rite Aid (NYSE: RAD) ($0.14) ($0.18) (29%)
Talbots (NYSE: TLB) ($0.56) ($0.52) 7.0%

Source: Yahoo! Finance.

Consider me officially confused after Alcoa's better-than-expected quarterly results. Pretty much everyone, myself included, expected China's demand for aluminum to have tapered off. In January even Alcoa anticipated a drop in China's aluminum demand by curtailing some of its production. Yet these fears simply didn't materialize, and it appears China's need for aluminum is continuing to grow, which paints a much better outlook for Alcoa than many had predicted.

There are still challenges as alumina prices remain depressed. Alcoa plans to cut back its alumina refining capacity by approximately 390,000 tons in order to bring supply closer in line with demand. But overall this was a solidly bullish report, with the strongest growth seen in the automobile and aerospace sectors. I'd hardly say that it is smooth sailing from here on out, but perhaps my near-term negativity surrounding Alcoa was a bit too pessimistic.

Rite Aid
Now here's something that didn't surprise me one bit: another quarterly loss for Rite Aid. Despite same-store sales growth of 3%, which benefited most from strong pharmacy sales, and an 11% rise in overall revenue, Rite Aid still managed to report its 19th consecutive quarterly loss and miss Wall Street's EPS estimates by 29%. Most disturbing was Rite Aid's 150-basis-point gross margin reversal from the year-ago period.

Rite Aid has been attempting to enact its turnaround plans for years, but when push comes to shove, the company can't turn a profit. Some of this has to do with competition from Walgreen (NYSE: WAG) and CVS Caremark (NYSE: CVS), which have consistently taken market share from Rite Aid over the past few years.

But the other constraining factor is Rite Aid's $6.3 billion in debt. To show you how convoluted the debt-cycle can be, Rite Aid rallied in February on news that it was retiring $459 million in debt due in 2015 by issuing another $481 million in debt due in 2020. Rating agency Fitch rated this new debt offering at CCC/RR5, i.e., implied high credit risk. It's looking as if Rite Aid's recent run-up was once again unjustified.

Talbots shareholders should be thanking their lucky stars that private-equity firm Sycamore Partners made a $3 per share offer for the company in December, because without this offer, Talbots' stock would really be hurting after another dismal quarter. Just to be clear, Talbots snubbed Sycamore's offer as too low.

However, the first whiffs of desperation are finally wafting, as Talbots announced that it would be closing 110 underperforming stores this year, or about 20% of its total locations, on top of the 69 it closed in 2011. Talbots has struggled to adapt to changing consumer trends and has lost some of its core customers to competitors. After many attempts to put the correct merchandise in front of consumers failed and resulted in heavy discounting, the company has officially put itself up for sale. The question is, what company is really going to offer more than Sycamore did with another revenue shortfall being issued by Talbots? I have a suspicion we'll be putting our flags at half-staff for Talbots in the not-too-distant future.

Foolish roundup
Sometimes an earnings beat or miss isn't as cut-and-dried as it appears. I've given my two cents on what's next for each of these companies; now it's your turn to sound off. Share your thoughts in the comments section below and consider adding these stocks to your free and personalized watchlist.

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