2. Stanley's Presumption
Stanley Black & Decker slashed its 2013 profit forecast Wednesday, blaming sequestration and the U.S. government shutdown for its reduced guidance. The company reduced its full-year adjusted earnings forecast to $4.90 to $5.00 per share from $5.40 to $5.65. Stanley's stock got drilled on the news, falling 14% Wednesday to $77, despite the company reporting a better-than-expected 44% jump in third-quarter profit.
"We really believe the US government sequestration and shutdown has had a modest impact in Q3 on us and will have a slightly more significant impact on us in Q4," said Chief Financial Officer Donald Allan on a conference call with analysts.We won't quibble with Don there. Like everybody else in America, we have no idea how the October shutdown will ultimately affect fourth quarter GDP. We all realize, of course, that Stanley's real problems are in its European security business, nevertheless, we will give them the benefit of the doubt. Hey! It was probably easier for the real Lord Stanley to navigate the Congo River than for modern day CFOs like Allan to plan ahead with the restless natives in Congress actively trying to take the country over the falls. All that said, we do see the very real possibility that the October shutdown will soon be the excuse de rigueur for companies seeking to justify an ugly quarter. And that goes for concerns that keep going even when government does not. Linear Technology (LLTC), for instance, revised its outlook down from previously cited levels Tuesday, fingering the budget impasse for the shortfall. "Business in the United States may be impacted by the current budgeting stalemate at the federal government level," said CEO Lothar Maier in a press release. "Accordingly, we are forecasting revenue for our second quarter to be flat to down 4% from the first quarter of fiscal 2014." Look. We don't know exactly how much the federal shutdown will depress global analog integrated circuits sales. That's too tough a calculation even for know-it-alls like us. That said, we do know that the December quarter is generally a slow one for Linear and its ilk, so it doesn't hurt for Maier -- or any other CEO -- to blame the crazies in Congress now for any ugly results that pop up later. Whether they deserve it or not.