Story URL: http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=116603
Story Retrieval Date: 5/24/2013 10:52:27 PM CST
Despite reporting a loss in the fourth quarter due to an asset impairment and restructuring expenses, Zebra Technologies Corp. beat analysts' estimate of adjusted earnings and the stock gained a bit in the face of a market decline.
In morning trading Zebra shares pierced a 52-week low of $16 before rebounding to close at $17.25, an increase of .35 percent.
The Vernon-Hills based manufacturer of printers and labels reported a net loss of $117.4 million, or $1.88 per diluted share, compared with a net income of $30.8 million, or 45 cents per diluted share, in the fourth quarter of 2007. Before one-time items Zebra earned 40 cents per diluted share, ahead of the 32 cents per diluted share estimate by analysts polled by Zacks Investment Research Inc.
Sales dipped marginally to $232.6 million from $233.6 million in the fourth quarter of 2007.
“Zebra performed well under increasingly challenging business conditions,” said Andres Gustafsson, Zebra’s CEO. “During the quarter, we reduced operating costs and focused on activities that will deliver the highest return on our investments, including the buyback of Zebra stock.”
Hardware sales, Zebra’s biggest segment, fell 7.8 percent to $163.5 million from $177.4 million in the fourth quarter of 2007. Michael Smiley, Zebra’s chief financial officer, said in a conference call that the weakness in the high-end and mid-range line of products reflects the weakness in global manufacturing.
Although company executives and analysts earlier expressed high hopes for the strength of radio frequency identification technology (RFID), a part of the Enterprise Solutions Group (ESG), Gustafsson said in the conference call that performance in the segment fell short of expectations.
Charles Murphy, an analyst at Sidoti & Co. LLC in New York, said in an interview, “If you look at Zebra’s peers, Intermec Inc. and Scan Source Inc., both negatively preannounced fourth quarter results. It’s hard to have profits when sales are falling.”
Although he said Zebra’s well-established bar code printing business is a good cash generator for the next two to three years, Murphy said that 2009 will be a tough year no matter what.
Murphy estimated 2009 adjusted earnings per share for Zebra of $1.27, below the consensus estimate of $1.53.
Zebra reported a net loss of $38.4 million, or 60 cents per diluted share, on sales of $976.7 million in 2008. The company earned $110.1 million, or $1.60 per diluted share, on sales of $868.3 million in 2007.
The company provided sales guidance for the first quarter of 2009 of $195 million to $210 million, compared with sales of $246.3 million in the first quarter of 2008. Diluted earnings per share are expected to fall within a range of 11 cents to 20 cents, compared with actual earnings of 42 cents per diluted share in the prior-year period.