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Why Methode Electronics, Inc. Jumped More Than 20% Thursday

By Anders Bylund - Sep 3, 2015 at 12:37PM

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The electronic components manufacturer roared back to life with solid first-quarter results, repairing some fallout from a seemingly disastrous Q4 report.

Methode's technology powers sophisticated center consoles like this Ford Edge panel. Source: Methode Electronics.

What: Shares of Methode Electronics (MEI 1.26%) soared as much as 24% higher on Thursday morning. The maker of electronic components and sensors manufacturer reported mixed first-quarter results in the early morning hours.

So what: In the first quarter of Methode's fiscal year 2016, the company reported earnings of $0.60 per diluted share, up from $0.55 per share in the year-ago quarter. Revenues decreased 6.8% to $203.3 million.

Analysts were looking for earnings of $0.54 per share on sales near $210 million, so Methode exceeded the Street's bottom-line targets while falling short of revenue expectations.

Looking ahead, management simply affirmed its existing full-year guidance for both earnings and revenues. Those targets were disappointing when they were first introduced three months ago, triggering a 32% overnight plunge in Methode's share prices.

Now what: After the diametrically opposed reactions to the last two quarterly reports, Methode Electronics has traded sideways over the last 52 weeks and only slightly ahead of the market in two years. The 240% gains Methode posted in 2013 are becoming a distant memory, as the company depends more and more on two major customers in the automotive industry. The purchasing whims of those two clients, who together represented a staggering 57.6% of Methode's sales in 2015, can make or break the company.

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.

If investors took the initial full-year 2016 guidance as the first sign of Methode's personal apocalypse, this reaffirmed version was more like a calming proof of stability. The market conditions that caused a soft forward view in the first place have not deteriorated any further.

On top of that, Methode kicked off a brand-new share buyback policy, seeded with a $100 million purchase authorization. That's about 10% of yesterday's market cap and 8% of the stock's total value today, so it's a substantial commitment. It's also a well-planned statement about the company's future prospects and the current value of the stock. Methode's board of directors is putting a good chunk of money exactly where the company's mouth is.

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