Nothing sours me on a company faster than a key executive announcing his resignation just before the peak sales season. After the bell last Thursday, Sharper Image
The earnings news from Sharper Image was mixed. Revenue increased 20%, but the company lost $3 million (up from a $1 million loss last year). If it is any consolation, competitor Brookstone
Also troubling was the 1% decline in same-store sales for the company's retail stores. The company's 21 stores produce 52% of its revenue. That is an anemic result considering that Sharper Image claims that it has successfully launched the latest version of it most successful product -- the Professional Series Ionic Breeze Silent Air Purifier.
Earlier this year, Fool writer Seth Jayson noted that some analysts estimate that up to 50% of sales could come from just the Ionic Breeze product line. With ionic purifiers available from the likes of Home Depot
Cash-rich and debt-free, Sharper Image is a conservatively run company. Earnings guidance for the fourth quarter and full year fall in line with analyst estimates of $1.34 a share for the fourth quarter and $1.31 of for the year. Isn't it frightening when a company's entire profitability rests in one quarter? Note too that, even with the new Ionic Breeze, fourth-quarter earnings will fall below last year's $1.40 -- and the CFO is leaving. That is not a pretty combination.
Add all those factors together and you have a stock that has fallen 35% from 52 weeks ago and is trading at a paltry 15 times 2004 earnings. The stock looks pricey given the falling earnings and the lack of evidence that the new Ionic Breeze will rescue earnings.
Fool contributor W.D. Crotty owns stock in Home Depot.