Last quarter was a historic first for DVR pioneer TiVo (NASDAQ:TIVO), when it earned a poetically appropriate penny per share in fiscal Q1 2008. Did this mark a turn in the firm's fortunes? Might it earn two pennies in Q2?

What analysts say:

  • Buy, sell, or waffle? The 16 analysts who still follow TiVo don't think so. Giving the stock seven buy ratings, seven holds, and a pair of sells, on average they predict ...
  • Revenue. ... 10% sales growth to $58.4 million ...
  • Earnings. ... and a nickel-a-share loss.

What management says:
In June, TiVo announced that then-CFO Steve Sordello had "left the building" to join a venture capital firm. Lacking a CFO, in July management hired Cal Hoagland, a principal of Financial Leadership Group, LLC, to fill that chair while it seeks a replacement. Hoagland doesn't come cheap. His firm will receive at least $2,500 per day for his services (with overtime billed at $350 per hour), and Hoagland himself will receive $1,000 per day in fully vested TiVo shares.

In other news, management announced this quarter that Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) will be rolling out its "TiVo-branded, TiVo service-enabling software solution" on Comcast DVRs.

What management does:
TiVo has now put together back-to-back quarters of rolling gross margin improvement, helping to narrow the gap with operating profitability, and continuing a recent trend toward generally accepted accounting principles to break even at the net level as well. It isn't there yet, and may not be for some time, but at least it's moving forward (if not fast forward).





























All data courtesy of Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor's. Data reflects trailing-12-month performance for the quarters ended in the named months.

One Fool says:
Before we close today's column, let's take a look back at the ad hoc CFO that TiVo has hired, because I think this news may hold a clue as to where the company's headed -- and where it may wind up sooner than we think, and before investors ever see it reach profitability.

In the press release describing its retention of Hoagland, management aimed to demonstrate its landing of a competent, experienced interim CFO by listing a series of positions he has held:

  • Corporate controller for Valence Technology (NASDAQ:VLNC)
  • CFO of Interwave Communications
  • Treasurer at Persistence Software
  • Corporate controller for ADAC Laboratories
  • CFO of Phasecom
  • CFO of ACCOM

If none, or almost none, of these supposedly Nasdaq-listed names are familiar to you, there's good reason for that. Out of the six firms above, only one -- Valence -- is still on the Nasdaq today. Interwave was sold to Rockwell Automation (NYSE:ROK). Progress Software (NASDAQ:PRGS) bought Persistence. Philips (NYSE:PHG) bought ADAC. The last two companies, Phasecom and ACCOM, are today private and Pink Sheeted, respectively.

I don't know about you, but the more I look at this list, the more I see TiVo getting ready to sell itself, and bringing in an exec with experience in getting companies ready for sale.

Hey, did you see the Foolish duel on TiVo earlier this year? No worries, we TiVoed it for you. Replay it here: Dueling Fools: TiVo.

Fool contributor Rich Smith does not own shares of any company named above. The Fool's disclosure policy gets you.