The economy is showing signs of fumbling the recovery.
Despite the rosy State of the Union address on Tuesday, consumers are still coping with the ramifications of the end of the payroll tax stimulus that has seen take-home pay shrink since January. Sure, the country’s weekly jobless claims fell sharply in Thursday’s report — down 27,000 to 341,000 — but how much of that is the improving corporate scene and how much of it was the chilly storm that swept through the Northeast last week?
The news isn’t just iffy on the macro level. There are also more than a few companies that aren’t pulling their own weight in this supposed economic recovery.
|Company||Latest-Quarter EPS (estimated)||Year-Ago Quarter EPS|
|Windstream Corporation (NASDAQ:WIN)||$0.13||$0.19|
|Tronox Ltd (NYSE:TROX)||$0.00||$0.85|
|Linn Energy LLC (NASDAQ:LINE)||$0.40||$0.51|
|Exelixis, Inc. (NASDAQ:EXEL)||($0.24)||$0.35|
|Garmin Ltd. (NASDAQ:GRMN)||$0.74||$0.96|
Clearing the table
Let’s start at the top with Windstream. Windstream is popular for investors given its 10% yield. It’s a beefy payout, but investors know that there’s no such thing as a free lunch.
Windstream’s business is providing telco services in underserved rural markets. Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of demand for landline connectivity these days, even in sparsely populated communities. This finds Windstream trying to push broadband and corporate services. It’s working, but it may not be enough.
Analysts see a sharp drop in profitability. This will likely be the fourth consecutive quarter that Windstream posts a year-over-year decline in net income. You have to go back four years to find the last time that Windstream earned enough to cover its quarterly $0.25-a-share dividend. The payouts may not be sustainable if earnings keep going the wrong way.
Tronox makes titanium ore and titanium dioxide. Its mineral sands and pigments are used in paints, coatings, and plastics.
A lot of the suspense is gone from Tronox. It reported preliminary quarterly results last week, warning that EBITDA was coming in below its earlier guidance. Analysts now see Tronox merely breaking even when it reports on Wednesday.
Linn Energy is a natural gas producer with a penchant for growth through acquisitions. Natural gas has been a volatile realm for investors, though the players sporting high yields reward patient investors. Analysts see Linn cranking out net income of $0.40 a share after earning $0.51 a share a year earlier. It could be worse, but keep in mind that Linn Energy has come up short on the bottom line in two of the past three quarters.