6 Key Early Bird Stocks on the Move

Earnings season may be winding down for the major companies, but there are still dozens of companies that are reporting each day of the week. Many of these second-tier and off-quarter stocks tend to move more than traditional Dow stocks when they report earnings. That is just what we were seeing on Thursday night and Friday morning.

24/7 Wall St. tracked moves in shares of the following: Applied Materials Inc. (NASDAQ: AMAT), BSQUARE Corp. (NASDAQ: BSQR), El Pollo Loco Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: LOCO), Keurig Green Mountain Inc. (NASDAQ: GMCR), King Digital Entertainment PLC (NYSE: KING) and Symantec Corp. (NASDAQ: SYMC).

Applied Materials Inc. (NASDAQ: AMAT) managed to show that it can do well on earnings and guidance, with or without Tokyo Electron. The company posted $0.29 in earnings per share (EPS) on $2.44 billion in revenue, marginally ahead of consensus estimates. The company gave guidance for the current quarter for revenue to rise 2% to 6% and for $0.31 to $0.35 EPS, versus consensus estimates of $0.33 EPS on $2.52 billion in revenue. Applied shares were down seven cents on Thursday, and the shares were up almost 3.2% at $20.50 in the after-hours session on Thursday, with over 1.5 million shares being traded after-hours. Friday morning early bird indications were about $25.50.

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BSQUARE Corp. (NASDAQ: BSQR) rose massively after earnings, but on thin volume. There were no formal estimates, but revenue for the first quarter rose 3% to $26.3 million, and the company guided for revenue to grow to $25 million to $28 million in the coming quarter. The stock closed down 1.5% at $4.09 on Thursday, but the pop was roughly 22% to $4.99 in the first hour of the after-hours session — but then it was up 33% at $5.44 on the last after-hours indication, with almost 50,000 shares trading since the close. Friday morning’s early indications were still too wide to call.

El Pollo Loco Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: LOCO) was optimistic as earnings approached, with shares closing up 3% at $29.06 on the day. The last time earnings were released, shares were around the $24 mark, and with the boost of a fourth-quarter beat shares made their way as high as $29. However, this was not the case when the chicken choked on earnings Thursday. Shares dropped a massive 11% in after-hours trading to $25.82, despite earnings being in line. El Pollo Loco had $0.18 in EPS on $90.4 million in revenue, compared to consensus estimates of $0.17 in EPS on $88.49 million in revenue. Part of the drop can be attributed to the valuation metrics used to examine this chicken restaurant, not to mention that comparable store sales were not as high as analysts expected. El Pollo Loco shares were indicated around $25.50 in early Friday trading.

Keurig Green Mountain Inc. (NASDAQ: GMCR) is not an earnings move, but it may be in the coming quarters. Its shares rose almost 1% during Thursday, but the after-hours trading took away more than 5% and the stock fell to $97.51 on over 263,000 after-hours shares. The word was that the drop was tied to slower sales of its cold beverage operations, and the pricing of the new cold units is expected to generate disappointing sales. Keurig Green Mountain shares were indicated down at about $98.00 in early bird trading on Friday.

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King Digital Entertainment PLC (NYSE: KING) shareholders were already nervous ahead of earnings, sending the social freemium game-maker’s American depositary shares down over 4% in Thursday’s regular trading session. Then things got even worse. Despite EPS growing to $0.51 from $0.41 a year ago, King Digital warned that the mid-year period is looking as though it will be seasonally softer: gross bookings were $604 million in the first quarter and they are projected to be down to a range of $490 million to $520 million. That was good enough for another 10% drop to $13.35 in the after-hours, versus a 52-week range of $10.68 to $23.48. Over 500,000 shares had traded hands within just the first 35 minutes after the close. King Digital shares were indicated a tad less-bad around $13.65 or so in early bird trading on Friday.

Symantec Corp. (NASDAQ: SYMC) showed that weak earnings trumped its plans to split from Veritas. Shares closed up on the day about 2.3% at $25.90, but the after-hours trading session took those gains away. The company had $0.43 in EPS on $1.55 billion in revenue, versus estimates of $0.44 EPS and revenue of $1.56 billion. The drop in the after-hours is more reflective of the guidance given by the company, which does not bode well for the spin-off of Veritas. Symantec guided first-quarter 2016 revenues in a range of $1.50 billion to $1.54 billion and adjusted earnings of $0.41 to $0.44 per share. Consensus estimates call for first quarter EPS of $0.45 on revenues of $1.62 billion. Symantec shares were indicated down around $25.00 in Friday’s early bird trading.

While these moves were seen last night and while the Friday indications were seen as-is, investors and traders should keep in mind that daily prices are often very different after the after-hours and premarket trading noise gets filtered out.

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