Zacks bull of the day: Alliance Fiber Optic Products
The company is well-positioned to profit from stronger demand for faster home and business Internet services.
By Brian Bolan
Alliance Fiber Optic Products (AFOP) recently beat estimates -- and forward estimates soared. Following a weak showing in Thursday's session, it is the bull of the day as a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).
More broadband required
I recently wrote about my "Best Tech Stocks for the Second Half of 2013," in which I opined about how the move to mobile is here. The flood of devices is upon us and that is creating some interesting pain points.
Beyond the obvious plays in the chip space and even Wi-Fi plays like Ruckus Wireless (RKUS), there is the need for a bigger pipe to handle the impending strong demand for broadband Internet. Facilitating that demand will be companies like Alliance Fiber Optic Products.
AFOP designs and manufactures components, modules and subsystems that empower dynamic optical network, and facilitates the migration of fiber optics from the long haul through the "last mile." That's industry jargon for making a fiber optic connection to your business or home a reality.
While the rest of Wall Street saw the most recent quarter as a two-cent beat, Zacks has it as a meet. We add back stock option expenses to get a better view of what the company truly spent. That higher standard might also play into the earnings meet on the March quarter.
Prior to the two meets was a miss of one cent per share in the December 2012 quarter and a beat of $0.03 for the September 2012 quarter.
The big difference here is that while revenue growth was flat in the fourth quarter of 2012 and first quarter of 2013, second-quarter revenues grew from $12 million to $19 million. That means a bump higher of more than 50%.
There has been a lot of talk about dark fiber (unused). Google was widely reported to be buying tons of dark fiber a few years ago, and did so at dirt-cheap prices. Since then, there have been several other players getting in the market, as demand for higher speeds has driven the market.
One company with the tools to help get the fiber from the information superhighway to the consumer is AFOP. The so-called last mile is basically space between a mass fiber hub and your line that connects to your house or business.
Earnings estimates adjusted
Say hello to some big-time expectations! In March the Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2013 was calling for $0.99. The number bumped up to $1.06 in April and was again raised to $1.32 in May. Analysts went on vacation in June, as the consensus didn't change, but they really kicked estimates higher following earnings in July. The consensus now stands at $1.71. That means earnings estimates have increased by 71% since March.
The same can be said of 2014 estimates. In March they stood at $1.18 and then moved to $1.25 in April. Another jump to $1.56 in May was followed by a vacation month in June. Then the earnings report in July sent 2014 estimates up to $1.95.
The valuation picture for AFOP is highly attractive, considering the massive earnings growth. While the company trades at a 29x trailing PE (compared to a 20x industry average) the more important measure of forward PE of 18.6X shows the company trading at a slight discount to the industry average. The discount extends to book value, with the stock trading at 4.5x book compared to a 4.9x industry average. Even price to sales shows this stock as being undervalued, with a 5x sales multiple compared to a 6.1x industry average.
The price and consensus chart for AFOP tells you all you need to know about this stock. Earnings are clearly driving the higher stock prices, with the estimates moving up nearly every month. The concept of broadband to the home is in its infancy, but with great growth comes great stock prices. If the company can continue to post big revenue growth the stock price will continue to move at what may seem like the speed of light.
Brian Bolan is a Stock Strategist for Zacks.com. He is the Editor in charge of the Zacks Home Run Investor service, a Buy and Hold service where he recommends the stocks in the portfolio.
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