There's a terrifically poetic expression for trying to manage the unmanageable: "It's like trying to herd cats." You have to love the mental imagery of that one. And I get even more of a chuckle applying it now, as I picture the foursome of analysts who follow ATV maker Arctic Cat
As we discussed back in July, analysts pegged the company for a loss in fiscal Q1 2006, only to see Arctic Cat zag when they thought it would zig, and post a profit of $0.02 instead. For fiscal Q2 2006, the analysts reversed course and predicted $0.97 in profits. Heedless of its minders, Arctic Cat "underpromised" earnings of just $0.90 to $0.94 for the quarter. Once more, analysts regrouped -- or re-groupthink-ed -- their expectations to a more modest $0.93. Arctic Cat has foiled them again. In its Q2 earnings report, the Cat practically purred over its $0.96 in diluted per-share profits.
The analysts' comic relief aside, however, there was also a serious note in Arctic Cat's morning news. As nice as it is to see earnings exceed expectations, it would be even nicer to see those earnings grow. Over the last year, Arctic Cat boosted its revenues by a hefty 15%, but net profits actually declined to $19.2 million in Q2 2006 from $19.7 million last year. The fact that earnings per share increased is entirely due to the company buying back shares, and not from any growth in firmwide earnings.
That one problem aside, this Fool remains mightily impressed with the company's independence, and its refusal to let Wall Street's Wise Men dictate the numbers it should hit. Arctic Cat has now twice underpromised, only to overdeliver good news to its shareholders. I see now why Tom Gardner put the company on his Motley Fool Hidden Gems Watch List, and am considering adding it to my own.
Arctic Cat is a Watch List stock of the Motley Fool Hidden Gems newsletter, where we don't just recommend a stock and forget about it. We constantly monitor each and every one of our recommendations -- and even our runners-up -- updating you on major developments through articles on Fool.com, and in mid-month and semiannual reviews in our newsletter. Take a free trial right now and you'll get access to all our past recommendations. You'll also be able to read the mid-month updates and six-month reviews for everything we've ever recommended.
The Motley Fool has kicked off its ninth annual Foolanthropy campaign! Nominate your favorite charities on our Foolanthropy discussion board through Nov. 1. For guidelines on what makes a charity Foolish, visit www.foolanthropy.com .
Fool contributor Rich Smith has no position in Arctic Cat.