You have to admire the exuberance of the folks at Lamson& Sessions
A small news blurb, noting that the company had increased its growth expectations by more than 100% for the coming quarter, drew my attention. It previously expected profits of $0.30 to $0.33 a share, but it's now anticipating earnings as much as $0.70 to $0.75 a share. Revenues were also on the march, with the company now expecting them to be as high as $130 million, up from the previous $115 million forecast. You've got to admit that's a significant revision: A 13% increase in revenues was going to generate a 127% increase in profits!
I wondered what could have triggered such a rush of money into the company's coffers, and in digging deeper, I found that this is apparently the little electrical-outlet-box maker that could. Its stock has nearly tripled in price over the past year, rising from $8.50 a share to around $24 a share on expanding sales and profits. In particular, the hurricanes that devastated the Gulf Coast area have raised raw-material prices. With the potential for shortages looming, customers have been placing orders while they can, and Lamson has been able to pass its increased costs on to them.
That's doubtlessly the reason for the company's first advisory, back in mid-October, that it could not anticipate how the hurricanes would affect demand. At the time, the company stood by the guidance that it had announced in September of $0.23 to $0.25 a share. Two weeks later, it issued its third-quarter financial statements; with a better perspective on its situation, it raised its guidance to $0.30 to $0.33 a share. Now, another month later, the company has raised expectations again. It's basically saying, "Never mind, we're going to blow the doors off the upcoming quarter."
Lamson & Sessions is not alone in its rosy expectations for the immediate future. Citing similar market conditions, plastic-components maker Thomas & Betts
Yet soaring sales and profits haven't encouraged Lamson executives to buy their company's stock. On the contrary, over the past month, insiders have been selling their shares on the market and exercising their options as the stock hits all-time highs. While insider sales are much less indicative than purchases, and insiders still own 17% of the company's stock, it is curious nonetheless that, even as they're telling the world that business is booming, the most exuberant endorsement they can give their company is to unload their shares.