Making Sense of Missed Earnings

This article originally appeared on May 1, 2013 on Real Money. To read more content like this + see inside Jim Cramer's multi-million dollar portfolio for FREE. Click Here NOW.

Over the 20 years that I have followed stocks and analyzed industries professionally, I've found that many an investor can get lost in the slipstream of earnings during that quarterly gauntlet.

It's easy to do and I'd be lying if I said I didn't catch myself in that position during the more than 80 quarterly reports, thousands of corporate earnings releases and hundreds of conference calls to which I have listened.

More often, it pays to ask a few simple questions. That's particularly true when a company stubs its toe and delivers a miss during earnings season. Over the last few years, the degree to which a stock is punished when a company misses has grown to drops of 10%-20%. We saw this Tuesday with Nuance Communications ( NUAN).

At such times, I find that amid all the bluster and flow of earnings, some perspective is needed. For example, we're seeing more and more companies roll out voice-based solutions on more devices. We're also seeing other companies chase the space as well -- just last night it was announced that Samsung, Intel ( INTC) and Telefonica ( TEF) have joined the likes of Google ( GOOG) to invest in Expect Labs. This is a startup company with technology that can analyze and understand conversations in real-time. It then uses that data to find related information. This continued investment tells me that we are only at the tipping point for voice-based solutions and services. That's a positive driver for Nuance shares, and it takes a long-term investor to realize this and use it to her or his long-term advantage.

Given the pullback in NUAN shares Tuesday, longer-term investors should be inclined to enter new positions in the company and existing owners should use the drop to average down their cost basis. With Carl Icahn involved and Nuance announcing a $500 million share repurchase authorization, it's hard to see much more downside in the shares now that Wall Street has adjusted its near-term expectations.

Another is ADT Corp. ( ADT), which reported March quarter results that fell shy of Wall Street expectations by $0.02 per share. Keep in mind consensus expectations were for $0.43 per share and the company delivered $0.41 per share -- a 5% miss. Given the way the market has been treating misses, ADT shares will get hurt today. Now, sifting through the release we find that recurring revenue grew year-over-year and accounts for 92% of total revenue.

The company has been actively buying back stock. All told, since the $2 billion repurchase authorization was announced last November, ADT has repurchased $800 million shares. Not only did the company add 303,000 new customers to close the quarter with 6.5 million customer accounts, but despite the miss the management team reiterated its 2013 guidance.

I first recommended ADT shares as way to play the rebounding housing market. Since then we've continued to receive strong housing data -- new home sales, housing starts and the like.

The key question here is do we see any slowdown in the housing recovery? My thesis on ADT shares has not changed and the long-term view still looks bright. As with Nuance shares, I would recommend Real Money Pro subscribers who have sat on the sidelines with ADT to use any weakness to get involved in the shares at current levels for long-term profits. ADT was trading about $41.50 in late morning Wednesday trade.

At the time of publication, Versace held no positions in the stocks mentioned.

Christopher Versace writes the " PowerTrend Profits" newsletter and " ETF PowerTrader" trading service, which both use a thematic investing perspective that ties in economics, demographics, psychographics, technology and more. He's also the host of PowerTalk, a weekly podcast that features conversations with public and private management teams, as well as other thought leaders, for the benefit of both individual and institutional investors.

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