6 Companies Poised for Stunning Profit Growth

NEW YORK (Stockpickr) -- We live in unusual times. 2011 has been a time for solid profit growth for many companies, even as the broader economy barely stays afloat.

In fact, a number of companies expected to boost profits even further in 2012, even as economic growth is expected to remain muted.

>>5 Stocks Under $10 With Big Upside Potential

Here's a look at six companies that are expected to see profits double, triple, or even quadruple in 2012.

Take-Two Software ( TTWO)

Projected EPS jump: 1,222%

For this maker of video games, it's all about hit titles. Profits can lag when the calendar isn't stocked with popular game releases. But when the latest version of Take-Two's all-important Grand Theft Auto comes out, then profits can soar.

Take-Two turned a $1.93-a-share loss in fiscal (March) 2007 into a $1.22-a-share profit the next year the last time a version of GTA was released. It's likely to happen again in the fiscal year that begins next spring. That's when GTA 5 will come out, leading analysts to expect EPS to jump more than 1,000% to $2.38.

That compares quite favorably with the recent $14.41 share price.

Exar ( EXAR)

Projected EPS jump: 700%

It's impressive enough that this chipmaker is expected to see EPS surge from just 3 cents in fiscal (March) 2012 to 24 cents in fiscal 2013. But it's more impressive to note that investors are assigning almost no value to this firm's technology base.

Exar has $203 million in net cash and the whole company is worth just $248 million. Shares hit a 52-week low this past week on word that the company's CEO, Pete Rodriguez, has left the firm for undisclosed reasons. That can raise red flags if a leader leaves under a cloud of suspicion, but this simply looks like a case of a company board of directors looking to shake things up after several years of unsatisfactory results.

Perhaps a value-unlocking move such as a big stock buyback will be the board's next move.

As of the most recently reported quarter, Exar was one of George Soros' top holdings.

Arkansas Best ( ABFS)

Projected EPS jump: 239%

The economic slowdown of 2008 caused a lot of pain in the trucking sector as tractor trailers suddenly had fewer goods to transport. Business has been slow to recover ever since. This company lost $1.30 a share in 2010 and should only make a modest profit in 2011. But look for profits to more than triple in 2012, to around $1.20 a share.

Analysts have come up with that number after seeing very solid third-quarter results. ABFS earned 46 cents a share, delivering results that were at least 40% above forecasts for the second straight quarter. Management notes that freight traffic isn't necessarily rising in a still-weak economy, but the company is doing a much better job of squeezing profits out of each load it carries.

Profits are likely to trend even higher in 2013 and beyond as the economy starts to improve.

NutriSystem ( NTRI)

Projected EPS jump: 109%

This provider of weight loss programs hasn't been a stellar profit grower in 2011. Sales are trending about 20% lower this year as consumers pinch pennies. But analysts think a series of investments in the business now should help profits more than double in 2012, above a $1 a share.

To rebuild growth, look for Nutrisystem to "launch new packaging, formulations, menu items, and personalized solutions for continued weight mgmt once customers lose their goal weight. The company mentioned 2 new major celeb sponsors (1 male and 1 female - an "A-List" star) to help promote the new program and new creative surrounding them," according to Citigroup.

Coupled with planned cost cuts, a projected $30 million in new revenue (to around $425 million) should flow straight to the bottom line. Citigroup's analysts expect operating profit to more than double in 2012 to around $50 million.

NutriSystem, one of the top-yielding diversified services stocks, is one of TheStreet Ratings' top-rated online retail stocks.

Gulf Island Fabricators ( GIFI)

Projected EPS jump: 543%

You can blame Washington for this company's recent profit weakness, but also give credit to Washington for an eventual strong profit rebound. Gulf Island Fabricators builds oil drilling rigs, primarily in the Gulf of Mexico, and a drilling-related moratorium imposed by Washington after the BP oil spill really hurt business. Sales fell to $248 million in 2010, roughly half the levels seen back in 2007. Per-share profits also fell by half in that time frame.

In recent quarters, sales have been rising as activity in the Gulf rebounds, but the next few years could be stellar. That's because the Obama administration has just released a new multi-year energy program that calls for a big increase in available leases for drillers -- especially in the Western Gulf of Mexico.

Analysts think EPS can rebound to $2.38 in 2012, which would be a company record. Results in 2013 could be even stronger if leasing activity picks up in coming quarters.

RTI International ( RTI)

Projected EPS jump: 214%

Business has just been OK for this fabricator of titanium products. Earnings per share remain in the range of 5 cents to 10 cents every quarter. Yet analysts think quarterly results will look a lot more robust in 2012, thanks in large part to Boeing (BA) and its state-of-the-art 787 Dreamliner aircraft. That plane, which only recently went into production, uses a lot of titanium to keep weight down.

Right now, RTI's market value of $795 million isn't far above book value of $725 million, but analysts at D.A. Davidson spot a break out ahead: "As we are in the early stages of a cyclical recovery, we continue to apply a 12x EV/EBITDA multiple to our revised CY12 estimates to arrive at our $42 price target." That's 50% above current levels.

To see these stocks in action, check out the 2012 Profit Doublers portfolio.

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At the time of publication, author had no positions in stocks mentioned.

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