Troubled economic conditions generally result in faltering finances for people as well as businesses. As a last resort -- and sometimes before the last domino falls -- people and companies declare bankruptcy, a maze of rules and regulations that try to balance the financial plight of those filing with the needs and rights of creditors entitled to recompense for money loaned.
Motley Fool Hidden Gems
Even so, those conditions did not lend themselves to a particularly stellar third quarter, as revenues were down 10% from a year ago, dropping to $32 million from $35.7 million. The primary reason for the decline was that revenues from EPIQ's document management segment fell 37% from last year, even as case management, with its higher profit margins, rose 9%. Net income rose 33% as earnings climbed to $3.1 million, or $0.16 per share, against last year's $2.9 million, or $0.15 per share.
Revenues all year long have been flat from one quarter to the next, but the company expects a surge of business in the fourth quarter because the recently enacted Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act caused a groundswell of filings before the Oct. 17 deadline had passed. The law will force more filers to choose Chapter 13 bankruptcy over the more lenient Chapter 7. EPIQ reported that some areas of the country reported about 8% to 10% more filings than normal.
In addition to the increased business expected from bankruptcy reform, EPIQ has also been selected to handle both Delta Airlines and Northwest, the eighth- and 16th-largest bankruptcies ever, respectively. The size and complex nature of these bankruptcies should provide the company with an increased, steady stream of business.
The third-quarter results caused EPIQ's stock to drop 14%, though shares still remain 11% above where they were recommended in Hidden Gems at the end of July. In the fourth quarter and the first quarter of 2006, though, EPIQ should return to the less mundane results it reported last year.
Check out these related bits of Foolishness:
Motley Fool Hidden Gems looks for small-cap growth companies not in any danger of filing for bankruptcy. A 30-day free trial lets you check out all the recommendations, which are beating the market by an average of better than 4 to 1.
The Motley Fool has kicked off its ninth annual Foolanthropy campaign! Nominate your favorite charities on our Foolanthropy discussion board through Nov. 6. For guidelines on what makes a charity Foolish, visit www.foolanthropy.com.