Blockbuster Miscalculated

461
Blockbuster (BBI) is a perfect example of what can go wrong when you misread the industry trends and then realizing it, try desperately to catch up.
stocks,investing,trading,options,technical analysis,george leong,money,finance,small cap stocks
Blockbuster (BBI) is a perfect example of what can go wrong when you misread the industry trends and then realizing it, try desperately to catch up. In the period from late 2001 to 2002, Blockbuster was the leader in the video rental business. Its shares were trading at nearly $30 a share and its market-cap was at around $5.75 billion.

But there was a trend developing towards movie rentals via the Internet. Blockbuster failed to recognize the growing significance of Internet video rentals, a very poor miscalculation on its part. The shares have steadily declined to the current $3.80 to $4.20 channel. Once a large-cap, Blockbuster is now a small-cap and struggling to regain any sense of direction. The company has entered into the Internet DVD rental business but it has a lot of catching up to do.

Fundamentally, Blockbuster has lost money in the last three straight quarters and struggling to grow its revenues, which are forecasted to increase a mere 1.1% in fiscal 2006. Its estimated five-year earnings growth rate is a mere 2.5% per annum, which is pitiful.

Blockbuster also has to deal with its massive debt load of $1.27 billion or a debt-to-equity of 2.73:1, which suggests a weak balance sheet. Couple this with poor working capital and you understand the high financial risk. Faced with stagnant revenue growth and losses, Blockbuster faces a difficult upside battle to regain its lost glory. The odds are stacked against it.

In the face of Blockbuster is online DVD rental company Netflix (NFLX), which debuted in May 200, trading at close to $40 in 2004 before sinking to the $10 level in 2005 before the rally.

Netflix saw the future for DVD rentals and it was online and not via the “brick and mortal?route that Blockbuster decided to maintain. In direct opposite to Blockbuster, Netflix is profitable and has been for the last three straight quarters. It has 4.2 million subscribers and growing. Its revenues are growing and expected to surge 32.5% in fiscal 2007 whereas Blockbuster is seeing non-existent revenue growth.

Blockbuster has entered into the online DVD rental arena but it is well behind Netflix. Moreover, Netflix also operates the online DVD rental business for Wal-Mart Stores (WMT), after the retail giant decided to shut down its own online DVD rental unit and instead let Netflix run it.

Trading at 36.73x its estimated FY06 EPS, Netflix is not cheap. But if it can continue its strong growth and earn the estimated $1.11 per share for the FY07, the valuation becomes more reasonable. The pressure is clearly on Netflix to deliver but it is on the correct path.

Note: you are welcome to post this article on your site if it is financial related. You must cut and paste the bio and make sure the web site link is live. Also please e-mail me to let me know.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

A Cheap Strategy to Play Microsoft

409
Articles takes a look at Microsoft and how you can play the stock with options.
stocks,investing,trading,options,technical analysis,george leong,money,finance,small cap stocks
Bill Gates is super rich but his once high-flying software company has been in the doldrums since mid-2002 after falling from the $35 level. The problem with Microsoft (MSFT) has been its failure to grow both its revenues and earnings at the superlative rates the company once enjoyed.

Any company the size of Microsoft, with a market-cap of $242 billion, will find growth an issue because of its size. But this is not to say the stock is dead. Far from it, Microsoft remains a viable long-term software company and is cash rich with $34 billion or $3.28 per share in cash. This gives the stock plenty of financial flexibility to develop or buy growth technologies. Microsoft just announced it would spend $1.1 billion in R&D at its MSN Internet unit in the FY07. And according to the Wall Street Journal, Microsoft is exploring the possibility of taking a stake in Internet media company Yahoo (YHOO) to take on Internet advertising behemoth Google (GOOG).

But with an estimated five-year earnings growth rate of a pitiful 12%, the company has its work cut out for it. Trading at 16.30x its estimated FY07 EPS of $1.44, the stock is not expensive but appears to be priced not as a growth stock.

Its PEG on the surface of 1.51 is not cheap, but if you discount in the cash of $3.28 per share, the estimated PEG falls to around 1,0, a decent valuation. Also, if Microsoft can improve on its estimated 12% growth rate, the PEG would decline further.

The fact is Microsoft at the current price deserves a look. If you want to play the stock but don’t want to shell out the $2,347 for a 100-share block, you may want to take a look at the long-term options, also known as LEAPS. For instance, the in-the-money January 2008 $22.50 Microsoft Call LEAPS not set to expire until January 18, 2008 currently costs $380 a contract (100 shares).

This means you risk a total of $380 for the chance to participate in the potential upside of 100 shares of Microsoft over the next 20 months. The breakeven price is $26.30. If Microsoft breaks $26.30, you would begin to make money on your LEAPS. Conversely, if Microsoft fails to do anything, your maximum risk is $380 on the initial option play.

Warning: The aforementioned example is for illustrative purposes only and not to be construed as an actual option strategy. Due to the higher risk inherent in options, I recommend you speak with an investment professional before deciding to employ any strategy involving options.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , ,