Three consecutive months of jobs growth and fewer worries from Europe have again produced multiyear highs on all of the indexes. For optimists, these rallies may seem like a dream come true. For skeptics like me, they're opportunities to see whether these companies have actually earned their current valuations.
Keep in mind that some companies deserve their current valuations. Cirrus Logic (Nasdaq: CRUS ) , a maker of audio chips, has seen a significant bump in sales and profits thanks to Apple's iPhone and iPad. With the unveiling of the new iPad, it seems only logical to think that longtime parts supplier Cirrus has its audio chip in this Apple product as well.
Still, other companies might deserve a kick in the pants. Here's a look at three companies that could be worth selling.
Health products and home accessory online and catalog retailer Blyth (NYSE: BTH ) released fourth-quarter earnings that had its stock heading to the stratosphere yesterday. The company posted a 23% rise in fourth-quarter sales thanks largely to its ViSalus weight-loss products and forecast that 2012 EPS could rise by 39%. These seem like pretty strong figures, but let me explain why I'm not as enthused.
First, ViSalus sales accounted for almost the entirety of Blyth's fourth-quarter sales boost. The company's PartyLite segment saw sales drop 7%, while its direct selling division witnessed an even worse 11% decline in sales. In short, Blyth appears wholly reliant on its ViSalus line to drive growth. Second, consumers lack loyalty in the weight-loss and supplement sector.
It's been a point I've touched on for multiple weeks now: Weight-loss stocks are a highly cyclical sector, and trends can turn on a dime. After yesterday's pop, I'm calling for a weight loss in terms of the stock's price.
The cloud is out of control
Enthusiasm about cloud computing is getting out of hand. This week's case in point: Equinix (Nasdaq: EQIX ) . The company, which provides data center services to enterprises and financial services companies throughout the world, has seen its stock rise north of $140 despite posting what I would deem less-than-stellar quarterly results.
In the fourth quarter, Equinix posted a profit of $0.35 on a 23% rise in sales to $431 million. Not only did EPS come in $0.09 light of what analysts had been expecting, but expense growth outpaced revenue growth (26.6%-24.9%). Although its cash gross margin rose by 300 basis points, the company's frivolous spending and high levels of debt are worrisome. I know everyone wants in on the cloud-computing craze, but at 41 times forward earnings, I'm certain there are better values elsewhere.
That's right, a second cloud play! At least Equinix makes money, which is more than I can say for my next contestant in this series, inContact (Nasdaq: SAAS ) .
Just like Equinix, inContact is sprouting like a weed in summer. Sales in its most recent quarter grew 26% as licensing software added the biggest boost to revenue. But here's where the rubber meets the road: inContact's full-year loss for 2011 grew by more than sevenfold, to $0.23 from $0.03. Higher expenses related to investments in its business continue to be the primary culprit in inContact's losses.
Keep in mind that not every cloud-computing play has to come from a software aspect. Hardware play Intel (Nasdaq: INTC ) , which I highlighted over the weekend and which last week debuted its Xeon E5-2600 cloud server chip, is going to play a crucial role in transforming the data-sharing landscape. In the meantime, there are just too many mouths and not enough food to feed them all. Until these cloud plays can rein in spending, I'm not going to be a fan of many of them.
This week was all about companies that can't seem to keep spending, and in some cases their debt, under control. Prudent fiscal management is one aspect to hone in on when searching for successful companies; without it, you're asking for trouble. I'm so confident in my three calls that I plan to make a CAPScall of underperform on each one. The question now is: Would you do the same?
Share your thoughts in the comments section below and consider using the links below to add these three stocks to your free and personalized watchlist so you can keep track of the latest news with each company. Also, to avoid investing in stocks like these, consider getting a copy of our special report "The Motley Fool's Top Stock for 2012." In it, our chief investment officer details a play he dubbed the "Costco of Latin America." Best of all, this report is free for a limited time, so don't miss out!
- Add Blyth to My Watchlist.
- Add Equinix to My Watchlist.
- Add inContact to My Watchlist.