Tech Wholesalers’ Growth Plans Could be Stymied (TECD, IM, SNX, ARW, AVT)

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The weak economic forecast for 2011 and 2012 appears to have weighed unevenly on electronics and computer wholesalers. Tech Data Corp. (NASDAQ: TECD) reported missed earnings and revenue estimates this morning, failing to keep up with competitors Ingram Micro Inc. (NYSE: IM), Synnex Corp. (NYSE: SNX), Arrow Electronics Inc. (NYSE: ARW), and Avnet Inc. (NYSE: AVT).

Tech Data posted third-quarter EPS of $1.26 on revenue of $6.59 billion, compared with consensus estimates for EPS of $1.27 on revenue $6.74 billion. The company also noted that it was “realigning” its resources in Europe and that it expects that to cost it $15 million in the fourth quarter. The company expects “flat to low single-digit sales growth” in both its Americas and Europe segments. No word on profit expectations.

Both Synnex and Arrow have provided brighter outlooks, with Arrow raising its EPS guidance to $1.25-$1.37 for the fourth quarter, solidly above the previous consensus of $1.25. Synnex raised its fourth-quarter EPS guidance above the consensus estimate $1.06 to $1.11-$1.15.

Avnet and Arrow, like Tech Data, missed third-quarter EPS estimates by a penny or two. And with the rather bleak global economics forecasts, especially for Europe, any optimism for better earnings and revenues in wholesale sales seems misplaced. Short-term help could come as a result of recent flooding in Thailand, which will lower the supply of everything from disk drives to chips and raise the prices for these items until full production returns.

Just to offer a glimpse at potential value among the wholesalers, here’s a quick look at potential upside for these five stocks based on share prices collected at mid-morning today.

Tech Data has a median target price of $53.50, and its current share price is $46.13, for a potential gain of about 15.6%. Ingram Micro’s target price is $21.00, and its current price is $17.91, for a potential gain of 17%. Synnex has a median target price of $32.00, and a current price of $28.70, for a potential gain of about 11.5%. Arrow’s median target price is $43.00 and its current price is $34.78, for a potential gain of 23.6%. Avnet’s median target price is $37.00 and its current price is $28.14, for a potential gain of 31.5%.

Every one of these upside numbers is pretty rich, and even if the optimistic earnings forecasts from Synnex and Arrow materialize this quarter, there doesn’t seem to be any reason now to expect that optimism to carry over into 2012. The European economy is about to become a shambles, and the super committee of the US Congress is about to declare failure in reaching an agreement on budget cuts which will trigger $1.2 trillion in automatic cuts to the 2013 budget. Spending contraction is not what these companies need.

Tech Data’s shares are off more than -3.7% this morning, at $46.12, in a 52-week range of $38.21-$54.25. The company’s earnings and Avnet’s announced $1 billion credit facility — coupled with an overall 300-point drop in the DJIA this morning — are dragging all these wholesalers down today, by -2.5% to nearly -4%.

Paul Ausick