If for no other reason, a financial writer just has to love Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick Silicon Labs
Honestly, folks, I haven't seen a stock that moves in such straight up and down double-digit percentage jumps since -- well, I simply haven't seen it. While I'm no day trader myself, I can imagine that Silicon Labs is the very epitome of a trading dream stock -- a hypothesis that the company's 14% short interest would seem to support.
Fortunately for subscribers to Stock Advisor, however, Tom Gardner, who first recommended this little chip maker back in September of 2004, is no day trader either. He recommended the stock based solely on its numbers -- on its potential to explode into supercharged profitability when the chip sector returns to the upside of its business cycle, and on the unshakable cash-generating prowess Silicon Labs continues to demonstrate in the industry's downturn.
With those factors in mind, let's turn to the company's first-quarter 2005 earnings release, published yesterday evening. As of this writing, the company has taken a 15% tumble in price. So it's safe to say that what Wall Street is focusing on in the earnings release are the following three things.
First, profits. Those came in 13% lower in Q1 2005 than in Q1 2004, totaling just $0.31 per diluted share. Second, revenues. Those were down 8% to $105 million. Third, finally, and in all likelihood most importantly, management -- as in, the head of management, is leaving the company. (Uh-oh. Look out below.)
And perhaps the Street is right on this one. As a general rule, when a CEO jumps ship, and especially when he does so citing a desire to "spend more time with the family" or simply "pursue other interests" (which was the case with Silicon Labs' departing CEO), there's often good foundation for investors to worry. But I just don't think that's the case here.
Why? Well, departing CEO or no, Silicon Labs looks basically sound as an enterprise. Examining its cash flow statement, I see that while GAAP earnings certainly declined year on year, the exact opposite happened with cash generation. One year ago, Silicon Labs generated $12 million in free cash flow. This year, it's reporting $24 million -- a clean double.
So to summarize, Mr. Market is saying that 100% growth in free cash flow, plus beating Street estimates for its depressed earnings, minus one CEO, equals a 15% decline in value? Not in this Fool's book. No, sirree.
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Fool contributor Rich Smith does not own shares of Silicon Labs.