I doubt there are many kids who wouldn't ask for, or receive, a telescope or pair of binoculars. The number of those who do, however, doesn't seem to be enough for investors in Meade Instruments
Meade has one of the few brands nonenthusiasts recognize in the business. Its product line includes riflescopes, accessories, and other specialty items that appeal to amateurs as well as professionals such as John Bortle, creator of the dark-sky scale for stargazing (hint: the lower the number, the better). Trouble is, even well-branded companies can have problems.
In Meade's case, the problem is that sales are coming in below company expectations pretty much across the board. Management is pointing investors toward full-year sales of between $125 million and $135 million. It estimates EPS will be between $0.05 and $0.15 (that's before the impacts of the company's employee stock ownership plan). According to reports, Wall Street was expecting $0.17.
Meanwhile, fiscal second quarter (ended August 31) sales fell year over year, while the company turned in a net loss after managing a slim profit last year, as the lower sales volume hurt margins.
The projection is bad news from a company that was starting to get its numbers moving in the right direction after watching sales fall from $127 million in fiscal 2000 to less than $100 million in fiscal 2002. The company says it faces a somewhat difficult comparison because Mars came very close to the Earth last summer, which boosted demand, but admits that even adjusted for that celestial event, things look bad. Last year's results, it must be noted, are helped substantially by the acquisition of Simmons.
Meade's had a rough few years, bottoming out lately from early 2000 highs and badly underperforming the S&P 500 during that period. Could it go lower? Well, it's in good enough financial shape, but the business, upon closer inspection, doesn't thrill the eye for the moment.
Fool contributor Dave Marino-Nachison doesn't own shares of Meade.