Caution: Mixing and matching of allusions ahead.
I think it was Kermit the Frog who said it best: "It's not easy being green."
Or perhaps it was the late, great Rodney Dangerfield: "I don't get no respect."
Whomever one it was, and whether they knew it or not, these gentlemen (gentlefrogs) were almost certainly referring to tech giant Motorola
For three quarters running now, the company has done its level best to please the Street and shareholders alike. In July 2004, the company's statement of operations turned bright green, as it boosted operating profits six-fold over Q2 2003. Result: Its shares sold off by 11%. In October 2004, Motorola reported quadrupling its earnings year-on-year. Result: a 5% haircut. In January, Motorola reported fiscal 2004 profits that were more than twice its full-year earnings from 2003. Result: shares down 7%.
Yesterday, the Street finally agreed that Motorola's turnaround is not a fluke. In an after-hours announcement yesterday, the company said it had boosted revenue by 10%, net profits by 14%, and EPS from continuing operations by 47%. Helping to convince the Street that Motorola can continue to produce similar results in future quarters were Motorola's announcements that it has regained the No. 1 cellphone maker ranking in Latin America, expanded its lead in North America, and remained No. 2 worldwide with a 17.1% market share. In response to all this, Mr. Market gave Motorola a pat on the back and a 7% bump in share price. Finally.
As of this writing, Motorola now trades at 16 times earnings. The company did not provide a cash flow statement in its earnings release (an omission that Fools continue to frown upon). But based on last year's performance and the company's improving earnings trends, it seems likely the company can at least match 2004's $2.1 billion in free cash flow, giving the company an enterprise value-to-free cash flow ratio that's slightly better than its P/E, at 15.7. Based on those numbers, Motorola will have to continue proving the analyst community wrong in order to make itself look like a compelling value to shareholders. Projected long-term earnings growth for the company is stuck at the 10% level. Still, considering that both stronger competitor Nokia
There's plenty more to know about a big business such as Motorola. Read all about it in:
Fool contributor Rich Smith owns shares in both Motorola and Nokia, but not in any other company mentioned in this article.