The important parts of the game aren't always the obvious ones. In ping-pong, it's all in the wrist. In earnings reports, everything depends on management guidance.
Take communications information clearinghouse NeuStar
And the stock is 24% cheaper after that report.
See, CEO Jeff Ganek guided to slower sales growth in 2008. He expects somewhere north of 20% stronger revenues on 10% higher volume enhanced by price increases and hopes for a more profitable product sales mix. But Wall Street was expecting a 22% jump next year, so the sentence of a public spanking in the open market is totally fair.
I'm joking about the "fair" part, of course. That guidance simply said that sales would grow by at least 20%, which leaves 22% clearly within reasonable reach. The 20% annual revenue growth has been NeuStar's official target for some time, and Ganek simply reiterated his confidence in reaching that goal again. The same discussion also applies to the earnings outlook.
This is another company that can ride along the growth of the Internet as a whole, with the added advantage of a telephone routing database that nobody else can match. There is serious competition for some of NeuStar's products and services from giants as diverse as IBM
NeuStar has never been a cheap stock by traditional metrics, not even after this steep drop. But it's still a fast-growing company in comfortable niche markets, including one in which the national phone system's infrastructure depends on it. I'd be a buyer today if I wanted some more high-volatility exposure with a promising risk/reward profile, and if our Foolish disclosure standards would look the other way for a second. But the disclosure policy is ever-vigilant.
Fool contributor Anders Bylund is an Akamai shareholder but holds no other position in any of the companies discussed here. You can check out Anders' holdings if you like. Foolish disclosure will always be there for you.