The stock gained as much as 21% in the first four weeks of the year, and a month later, plummeted 50% because of struggles in execution and rising competition from the likes of privately held Square and rumors that Apple (AAPL) would dominate mobile payments with its so-called "eWallet."
But that shouldn't have been a surprise. Five months prior to the Street waking up to these concerns, I warned investors about that possibility and suggested that Apple could kill off VeriFone.
Feeling betrayed by their company's lack of preparation, investors didn't take the stock's 50% decline lying down. They demanded action from the company's board of directors. And on March 11, investors got an answer. The company announced that CEO Doug Bergeron was stepping down.Since then, the stock is up 14%. But shares are still down 21% since the beginning of the year, which has now brought about the obligatory "value play" angle. But other than that Bergeron was asked to fall on the sword, has anything really changed for VeriFone? I don't believe so.
On Wednesday, investors will find out more as the company reports its fiscal second-quarter earnings. While some are betting on an upside surprise, the Street is not as optimistic. Analysts are calling for an 8% decline in revenue and a 26.6% drop in earnings per share. The company is coming off a decent first quarter where both revenue and earnings per share exceeded estimates. Given the uncertainty created by Bergeron's departure, however, it wouldn't be surprising if the company missed both targets for its second quarter. Besides, the macro environment hasn't been good. Retail figures from end users of point-of-sale terminals such as Wal-Mart (WMT), Target (TGT) and McDonald's (MCD) have shown reduced customer traffic. These businesses now understand that in order to grow, they have to reduce transaction time. That is why self-pay kiosks have become more popular. But if an iPhone app can fulfill the service criteria, traditional payment-processing companies can become extinct.
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