3. Eresearch Technologies (ERT)I profiled this company 18 months ago after it had just made a major acquisition. During that time the provider of outsourced drug-testing services looked poised for robust growth. Back then, I suggested EPS could exceed $0.50 in 2011 and perhaps $0.60 in 2012. Well, I was being too ambitious.
Company-wide gross margins have slumped, and the company has been slow to generate expected synergies from that 2010 acquisition (it bought the research division CareFusion (CFN), in an $81 million deal). As a result, shares have fallen from $8 back then to a recent $5.It now looks as if my analysis was actually accurate, albeit premature. Recent quarterly results, highlighted by a swelling backlog of a record $343 million, set the stage for an improvement in results in 2012. "FY12 is shaping up to potentially be a double-digit revenue growth year," predict analysts at Auriga Securities. They see EPS (finally) exceeding 50 cents next year and figure if the company can hit this mark, then shares could rise up to $9, more than 75% above current levels. Analysts at Dougherty & Co., however, have a more modest $7.50 price target, noting that the stock "is trading at a no-growth multiple though we expect the company to grow revenue at least in the mid single-digit percentage next year." Still, this would be nearly a 50% gain from current levels. Risks to Consider: The health care sector is currently in flux. Any major reimbursement changes, either from the government or health maintenance organizations, could hamper these companies' ability to meet 2012 sales and profit targets. Action to Take These three companies share one common trait: the past year has not played out as many had expected when the year began. But each of these companies, all of which have seen their stock fall steadily from a 52-week high, look to have at least 50% upside, and are poised for solid annual results in 2012 and beyond. Disclosure: Neither D. Sterman nor StreetAuthority, LLC hold positions in any securities mentioned in this article.