With the new Star Wars movie hitting theaters next week, I figured I needed to break from my usual diet of health care, commodities, and the like and find something a little spacy. With a solid satellite-communications business, ViaSat
Results for the fourth quarter (ended April) weren't out of this world, but they weren't a black hole, either. Revenue ticked up about 9% to roughly $91 million, and the company was able to post pro-forma net income growth of 50% to $7.6 million. Top- and bottom-line results were basically in line with expectations -- not a big surprise for this company given its history.
You could say that the company's business segment results fell along the lines of the light and dark side of the Force. The government business saw greater than 20% revenue growth, very good margins, and over 54% growth in operating earnings. The commercial business, though, saw only about a 1% sales increase and posted an operating loss, which reversed a year-ago profit.
Jokes and Star Wars references aside, though, it was a solid quarter. The government business saw strong continued growth from tactical-data-link equipment, and the pipeline looks quite good. On the commercial side, this is still a business in its adolescence. Start-up costs for the company's DOCSIS (data over cable service interface specification)-based consumer broadband products hurt results, but prospects in broadband, VSAT (very small aperture terminal) networks, antenna systems, and mobile broadband all look pretty good over the coming years.
What's more, the company announced that new contract awards climbed 77% to $129.5 million for the quarter, creating a nice, albeit crude, book-to-bill -- bill being revenue -- of over 1.4. With backlog climbing 29% to almost $362 million, it would seem that ViaSat has a good bit of business salted away.
That's not to say that anybody should expect a smooth upward path. Government business is dependent on federal budgets, and spending priorities can (and do) shift over time. On the commercial side, ViaSat's business is young and untested, though full of promise. While consumer and mobile broadband could be a big winner, it could also take years longer to become real than people currently think it will.
Luckily (depending upon your perspective), these shares don't appear too expensive -- especially if you believe that the commercial business will continue to improve. I'll grant that margins and return on equity are lower than I like, but they're gradually getting better. What's more, while the P/E appears a bit high, the company is growing the bottom line well, and other metrics -- like price-to-book and price-to-sales -- corroborate the notion that the stock isn't all that expensive.
Look! It's a bird, it's a plane, it's more stellar Foolishness from the past:
Fool contributor Stephen Simpson has no financial interest in any stocks mentioned (that means he's neither long nor short the shares).
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