Off-Season Earnings Specials
Net2Phone (NTOP) has covered the full arc of the dot-com tech stock bubble and bust. Its shares rose above $80 in 1999, but now reside below $2 per share. But the time of voice-over Internet protocol (VoIP) is slowly, finally coming to be at hand.
On June 6, Net2Phone is expected to report a loss of 9 cents per share, wider than the loss of 4 cents a share in the year-ago period. Analysts expect little improvement in the bottom line over the next few quarters. But top-line revenue should continue to show double-digit growth, making this a prime candidate for a consolidation play.
With companies such as Cisco (CSCO) and Sun Microsystems (SUNW) clearly betting on the growth of Internet protocol for the transmission of all communication, Net2Phone could become a cheap and easy acquisition target. A perfect time to announce that it's looking at "strategic alternatives" would be next week's earnings release. If the $1.66 stock price is too rich, you can use the July $2.50 calls at a dime to make this a purely speculative play.
As one of the leading recruitment and job-placement firms, Korn-Ferry (KFY) is a proxy for the nation's employment picture. The stock has recently lifted off a 52-week low, gaining 18% to $16.40 over the last three weeks on the belief that job growth has hit a steady and sustainable, if unspectacular, pace.On June 8, the company is expected to show earnings of 25 cents per share, a 21% improvement over the year-ago period. Korn-Ferry has surprised to the upside three out of the last four quarters, and I think this time could also see an increase in full-year guidance. The options are near their cheapest levels of the year with an implied volatility at the low-30% level. With shares trading at $16.40, the July $15 calls at $1.70 look like a good limited-risk way to gain some upside exposure. The option has $1.40 of intrinsic value, leaving it only 30 cents away from its break-even point, and with over 40 days remaining until expiration, time decay should not be a factor for another 20 days. Some other names I'm looking at for later next week include H&R Block (HRB), National Semiconductor (NSM) and Signet (SIG).
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