After seeing RadioShack's horrific fourth quarter results, including a challenged balance sheet and its last-ditch and latest survival plan, which includes shutting 1,100 stores, it dawned on me: I live within seven minutes of two radio shacks. Twenty-five minutes of seven. And probably an hour of dozens.And therein lies its problem with its too-little-too-late attempt to turn things around: I don't go to Radio Shack to buy milk or bread or get our prescriptions filled.I don't need the convenience of a Radio Shack.And when I do go, with the notable exception of buying a burglar alarm battery that went on the fritz overnight -- something only they have -- I almost always walk out empty handed.
What you may have missed, including takes on Harley, Clean Harbors and RealPage.
Some quick takes, post-earnings, on Reality Check Watch List companies: Boulder Brands - it's still unclear why Boulder, the gluten-free play, rose after reporting earnings last week. The company missed on GAAP numbers (not that GAAP matters to BDBD investors, who have been encouraged to look at "adjusted" non-GAAP results) and guided down for 2014 for the third time since November. Even adjusted results aren't what they're cracked up to be. Adjusted EPS would have missed, but instead beat after adding back restructuring and relocation-related charges, which added 2.5 cents to earnings per share. Without it the company would have missed by $0.01. As I wrote in a broader piece on Reality Check, the company reiterated on its call that it believes gluten-free is a trend. I say it's a fad...
The best part about Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett's annual investor letters is that they always provide some kind of reality check.This year, in one sentence, he takes on one of the biggest diversion tactics of all -- one promulgated by many companies as the way they should be viewed, and then gullibly accepted by investors: EBITDA or earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization."When Wall Streeters tout EBITDA as a valuation guide, button your wallet," he wrote.Here's the windup to that comment (emphasis added by me):"I won't explain all of the adjustments - some are tiny and arcane - but serious investors should understand the disparate nature of intangible assets: Some truly deplete over time while others in no way lose value. With software, for example, amortization charges are very real expenses. ..."
Here are some post-earnings quick takes on these three Watch List companies.
The company has not denied the grievances identified by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
ITT Education Thursday insisted that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's suit against the operator of for-profit schools "never should have been filed." According to the press release: "The complaint overwhelmingly focuses on issues that are unrelated to consumer finance, and attempts to cast a negative light on aspects of ITT Tech's activities that are extensively regulated by other government agencies. The core claims concern a mere six months of loans, but the Bureau knows that independent third parties provided those loans, and the loan programs ended years ago. Significantly, ITT Tech did not make any money, in interest or fees, from those third-party programs, which were designed to help students during the recent economic downturn. We are disappointed that the Bureau chose to sue rather than work with ITT Tech...."
I wrote a piece headlined, "Why ADT is Appalling." What's more appalling is the company's response.
Earnings disappointments come a dime-a-dozen, but ADT's report is a standout.
The questions asked by Sen. Ed Markey in letters to the regulators and Herbalife CEO Michael Johnson are compelling and, in some ways, get to the heart of questions that have been dodged.