The Unusual Suspects (AAPL, BBBY, BBI, BGP, CRAY, DFS, ENER, FSLR, GGP, IOC, LULU, MON, OXGN, PALM, WPO)

Print Email

This weekend’s roster of the Unusual Suspects has far fewer earnings previews due to the notion that earnings season is over and we are already getting ready for another earnings season.  But there are far more stocks to watch considering that the news flow is light now.  The cast of characters in the Unusual Suspects this week includes Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL), Bed Bath & Beyond, Inc. (NASDAQ: BBBY), Blockbuster Inc. (NYSE: BBI), Borders Group, Inc. (NYSE: BGP), Cray Inc. (NASDAQ: CRAY), Discover Financial Services (NYSE: DFS), Energy Conversion Devices, Inc. (NASDAQ: ENER), First Solar Inc. (NASDAQ: FSLR), General Growth Properties Inc. (NYSE: GGP), InterOil Corporation (NYSE: IOC), Lululemon Athletica (NASDAQ: LULU), Monsanto Co. (NYSE: MON), Oxigene Inc. (NASDAQ: OXGN), Palm, Inc. (NASDAQ: PALM), and Washington Post Co. (NYSE: WPO).

On earnings previews we have included Thomson Reuters estimates and we have given color on the valuation and other metrics.  On the non-earnings stocks, we have given previews for what lies ahead on many of the straggling issues that will go into next week and on upcoming events.

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) did it.  The iPad is out.  Now we can get on with our lives.  Apple shares kept putting in new all-time highs and its Thursday high was $238.73 despite a $235.97 close.  We highlighted how Apple had surpassed Wal-Mart for #3 position in U.S. market caps.  With the options speculation being active in April for $240 and $250 Calls, there is still much interest here.  Buying some protection for a ‘sell the news’ is rather cheap for the April $230 Puts at $2.50.

Bed Bath & Beyond, Inc. (NASDAQ: BBBY) is up for its fourth quarter earnings on Wednesday this coming week.  Thomson Reuters has estimates of $0.73 EPS, which would compare to $0.55 a year ago; revenues are expected to be $2.11 billion, up from $1.92 billion a year ago.  What is interesting here is that the upside earnings surprises have been huge: 34.9%, 8.3%, 36.0%, and 25.0% in the last 4 sequentially ending quarters.  The stock closed out the week at $44.18 and the 52-week range is $25.28 to $44.64.  This trades at almost 18-times FEB-2011 earnings.

Blockbuster Inc. (NYSE: BBI) was in the news because Carl Icahn is unwinding his stake.  It turns out that the billionaire doesn’t know a hill of beans from movie rentals, and by our take he may have only added to problems here rather than helped them.  Nothing is going right at Blockbuster, and bankruptcy seems and feels as though it is imminent.  Despite a $0.25 close, shares were up 11.9% at $0.28 in the after-hours session according to the last print.

Borders Group, Inc. (NYSE: BGP) rose a whopping 47% to $2.54 on over 25 million shares Thursday after securing a new credit line, posting earnings, and saying its e-Bookstore was on track.  This weekend came the Barron’s pan with a story called “Borders’ Story Lacks a Happy Ending.”  Barron’s noted, “Though the stock is up more than 50% today, its long-term investment narrative isn’t nearly so positive.”

Cray Inc. (NASDAQ: CRAY) is showing that supercomputing is still alive and well with a $45 million supercomputer order from the National Nuclear Security Administration after the close of trading on Thursday.  That compares to what Thomson Reuters has as $314.78 million for all the 2010 revenues.  Shares were up over 10% at $6.70 in after-hours trading on Thursday and the 52-week range is $3.54 to $9.49.

Discover Financial Services (NYSE: DFS) did not go anywhere this last week and would have been down had it not been for a recovery rally on Friday.  This was one of the top picks from Morningstar in the bank and financial services arena with an estimate to fair value upside of nearly 80% to its target of $27.00.

Energy Conversion Devices, Inc. (NASDAQ: ENER) might be one of those companies listed on the old defunct website of “F’d Company dot come” if it was still around.  Barron’s already panned this one recently, and this weekend it went after it and First Solar Inc. (NASDAQ: FSLR) all over again.  The writing was particularly harsh on ENER… “Energy Conversion’s stock has fallen by half since last March, to 7.68. Superficially, it looks cheap at half of book value, but… is a solar-powered value trap, whose share value will continue to erode.”  Death predictions loom.

General Growth Properties Inc. (NYSE: GGP) has filed its plan to exit bankruptcy and laid out bidding rules to allow others than just Simon Property Group Inc (NYSE: SPG) to jump in with rival offers.  The #2 mall owner/operator has set a two round bidding process with the initial bids due as soon as April 19.

InterOil Corporation (NYSE: IOC) had a big day on Thursday and the controversial oil company still has many fighting over whether this one is a bust or a boom.  The company rose on a Platts’ news story signaling that it “may be close” to signing a partnership with a Japanese company that could allow it to exploit the energy resources it believes it has found in Papua New Guinea. Some have noted hat even the story may be a planted story.  This one is going to remain in controversy for some time.