Cree’s Mixed Results Darkened by Outlook

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Cree Inc. (NASDAQ: CREE) reported first fiscal quarter 2014 results after markets closed on Tuesday. For the quarter, the LED-lighting maker posted adjusted diluted earnings per share (EPS) of $0.39 on revenues of $391 million. In the same period a year ago, the company reported EPS of $0.27 on revenues of $315.8 million. First-quarter results compare to the Thomson Reuters consensus estimates for EPS of $0.39 and $392.31 million in revenues.

The company warned on earnings in mid-August and today’s results were right in line with the mid-points of the ranges the company gave for EPS and revenues. The damage today came from Cree’s estimate of second quarter profit. The company says it expects EPS of $0.36 to $0.41 compared with a current consensus estimate of $0.44. The company expects revenues in the range of $410 to $420 million and the analysts’ estimate calls for $414.29 million.

In addition to the weak profits, gross margins are expected to be lower in the second quarter and operating expenses are going to rise as the company promotes its new LED Bulb.

The company’s CEO said:

Fiscal 2014 is off to a good start, as we delivered solid Q1 revenue and earnings growth in line with our targets. The strong performance was primarily due to increased sales of our lighting products, higher gross margins and improved operating leverage across the business. Based on our backlog, current sales activity and project forecasts, we are targeting growth in all product segments in Q2, led by growth in LED fixtures and the Cree LED Bulb.

Cree may be targeting growth, but that growth is coming at a cost that investors are unhappy paying. The company posted its 52-week high the day before announcing its earnings warning, and an upgrade from one analyst firm in early October pulled the shares up from around $60 to Monday’s close at nearly $74. That momentum is history after tonight’s earnings.

Cree’s shares are trading down about 13.7% at $64.12 in after-hours trading Tuesday, in a 52-week range of $28.08 to $76.00. Thomson Reuters had a consensus analyst price target of around $67.50 before today’s report.