eResearchTechnology's (NASDAQ:ERES) shares have been getting clobbered over the last year, though they were up slightly yesterday after the company's second-quarter earnings release. My hunch is that this stock has been unfairly beaten down by the market and may represent a value opportunity.

eRT, a leading provider of electrocardiographic (ECG) collection and interpretation services to the pharmaceutical industry, is part of a growing sector that includes such companies as Covance (NYSE:CVD), PRA International (NASDAQ:PRAI), and Parexel (NASDAQ:PRXL). The company's second-quarter earnings were, well, mixed.

The bad news is that revenues came in at $17.6 million and earnings at $0.04 a share versus analyst expectations of $22 million in revenue and $0.09 a share. Not pretty, and Wall Street is accustomed to punishing companies that miss forecasts by such a large margin.

The company's guidance for the next few quarters also was toward the low end of analyst expectations, although fiscal year numbers of $90 million to $95 million in sales match analysts estimates of $93 million. eRT's revenues are down about 25% year to date from last year's numbers, mainly the result of a delayed regulatory ruling on the standards by which the industry conducts ECG testing.

Fortunately, there is a silver lining to consider here. The good news is that on May 12 an agreement was reached that will move the regulatory initiative ICH E14 ECG from guidance to implementation. This will solidify the importance of cardiac safety evaluation in clinical trials and will likely lead to greater sales for eRT.

This was the event that shareholders had been awaiting. Since the global agreement, eRT has been a whirlwind of activity, though the activity was not enough to salvage what was left of the second quarter.

Management expects growth to reaccelerate in the second half of 2005 and has already signed $13.5 million worth of contracts in July alone. This means that most of the third quarter's revenues are already booked. To further emphasize management's confidence, the company repurchased $2.2 million worth of shares in the last quarter.

As you can see, there are good reasons to suggest that the company does not deserve the shellacking that it has been receiving over the past year. If it can sustain $13.5 million in contracts per month for the rest of the year, annual revenue will come in at $121 million, representing a substantial and unappreciated upside to current estimates. Today's investor would be getting a bargain purchase of a stock that is currently unloved on Wall Street.

To join on a lively discussion on this company, come join us on our boards.

Related Foolishness:

Looking for great stocks unfairly beaten down by the market? For Wall Street's best bargains, try a free 30-day subscription to Motley Fool Inside Value. Your portfolio will thank you.

Fool contributor Stephen Ellis welcomes your comments. He owns stock in ERES. The Fool has a strict disclosure policy.