Overlooked in Apple Noise, Good News From Smaller Names

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- While many were focused on quarterly results from Apple ( AAPL) and Amazon ( AMZN) Thursday, I was looking to those of some of the smaller, more underfollowed names. That's where I often find the most interesting opportunities.

While both Apple and Amazon disappointed investors yesterday, it was a mixed bag elsewhere in the markets. However, there's little doubt that this quarter in aggregate has had its share of disappointments and is raising questions about the real state of this economy.

In small-cap technology/electronics, Electro Scientific Industries ( ESIO) reported better-than-expected second quarter revenue after the market close ($80.2 million vs. $77.7 million) and earnings per share (23 cents vs. 19 cents), but gave guidance that the next quarter will likely be below consensus.

The company currently trades at just 1.35 times net current asset value, and ended the quarter with nearly $173 million or $5.93 per share in cash and short-term investments and no debt. Unfortunately, investors have not been rewarded by this name in 2012, but that's been par for the course for names in this sector.

AVX ( AVX) also announced better-than-expected revenue ($360.8 million vs. $349.6 million) and earnings in-line with expectations. Shares were rewarded with a 4% advance.

Here's yet another small electronics name trading at less than 2 times net current asset value (1.37) and loaded with cash. AVX ended the quarter with $887 million or $5.23 per share in cash and short-term investments. Management however, warned that long-term orders are under pressure, given all of the economic uncertainties. AVX shares are down more than 50% year to date.

Benchmark Electronics ( BHE) reported revenue in line with the consensus and earnings ($.31) a penny above consensus. However, the company issued guidance that suggested some difficulties ahead -- a recurring theme -- and shares were initially hammered, down as much as 18% intraday, before ending the day down just over 5%.

You can add BHE to the list of companies trading cheap relative to net current asset value at 1.03 times NCAV, and holding a large stake of cash, $326 million, or about $5.72 per share.

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