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Why Shares of Outerwall Inc Zigzagged Up Today

By Alex Planes - May 8, 2015 at 1:23PM

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Is this meaningful? Or just another movement?

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 Outerwall (OUTR) are enjoying a 10% gain as of this writing around 1 p.m. Friday, after a wild morning that saw gains ranging from a modest 4% all the way up to 12%. The market seems to have settled on the high end of that range now that it's had a chance to fully digest Outerwall's strong first-quarter earnings report, which was released yesterday evening.

So what: Outerwall's quarterly revenue came in at $608.6 million, up 2% year-over-year, and adjusted earnings from continuing operations ("core" earnings) doubled year-over-year to reach $2.87 per share. On a GAAP basis, Outerwall earned $1.87 per share, which was also approximately double what the company earned in the year-ago quarter. The company's top line bested Wall Street's projections for $596.6 million in quarterly revenue, and its EPS results destroyed the consensus on both a GAAP and an adjusted basis -- especially on an adjusted basis, which beat expectations by more than a dollar per share.

Outerwall's full-year guidance was updated to call for 2015 revenue in a range of $2.294 billion to $2.419 billion, with core EPS ranging from $7.49 to $8.49. While the company's top-line guidance merely hits Wall Street's full-year consensus at its midpoint, its EPS range easily bests the $7.14 in full-year earnings analysts had expected.

Now what: Today's pop simply returns Outerwall to positive territory for the past year of trading, and it's easy to understand why investors might be skittish when considering the company's recent financial results. This year's revenue is projected to grow a mere 2% from 2014's results, and those results were effectively even with 2013's revenue.

However, Outerwall has performed well on the bottom line in recent years, and looks set to do so again. This year's adjusted EPS guidance anticipates a 24% improvement over 2014's result, which was itself a 9% improvement over 2013. At the midpoint of its full-year guidance, Outerwall's P/E is a mere 9.2, and at the midpoint of its full-year free cash flow projections (in a range of $215 million to $255 million), Outerwall's forward price-to-free-cash-flow ratio is a rock-bottom 5.9. This is a fantastically profitable company that many people believe will be left behind by a shift to digital video. If Outerwall can overcome that perception with a new line of business that can eventually replace its Redbox kiosks, today's price will look downright dirt cheap. The question is: Can Outerwall find its next big thing in time?

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