Garmin’s Earnings Surprise: Strength in PND Segment (GRMN, TRMB)

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Garmin Ltd. (NASDAQ: GRMN) was a business that many expected was going to crash and burn.  The world of free or nearly free personal navigation services from smartphones was just going to be too much of a threat for Garmin’s core market in those personal navigation devices you saw on so many dashboards.  What the short sellers missed was that Garmin had some other tricks up its sleeve.

This morning came news that Garmin’s revenue was $556.6 million versus a consensus from Thomson Reuters of only $520.2 million.  The company owes its gains to the outdoor and fitness products.  Some of the demand is being driven by watches with GPS sensors, golf devices with preloaded courses, and other fitness and lifestyle device applications.

The outdoor and fitness sales were up 20% to $148 million, while the automotive/mobile unit sales rose by 6% to $280 million due to higher unit sales even though the company has cautioned about weaker PND sales.  Garmin expects PND revenue to fall and unit deliveries to decline, but this surprising gain shows that the company may not be as down and out as those short sellers were hoping.

Garmin’s news is enough for a gain of 4% to $49.75 against a 52-week range of $29.23 to $49.93 (high hit today).  Garmin’s short interest was most recently put at 11.03 million shares, but that is only half of the short interest from as recently as last September.

So far we are not seeing the same reaction out of Trimble Navigation Limited (NASDAQ: TRMB) as its shares are down 1.2% at $53.27 against a 52-week range of $31.88 to $55,95.