Buy FTD -- and Flowers -- to Salvage Valentine's Day

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Oh, no! Valentine's Day is here!

It'll be OK. There's still time to buy flowers from FTD Companies (FTD), the go-to provider of relationship-enhancing flowers delivered to the front door of someone very special. And you can buy some FTD stock for yourself.

Today FTD has lots of competition, but this iconic brand is a staunch competitor.

FTD provides flowers, gifts and related products and services to consumers and retail florists, as well as to other retail locations in the U.S., Canada, Ireland, and the United Kingdom. The company also offers hard goods, software and hardware systems, cut flowers, packaging and promotional products, and other floral-related supplies. You may recognize FTD by their iconic Mercury Man logo, displayed in an estimated 45,000 shops worldwide.

It sells its products under the FTD and Interflora brands, as well as under the Flying Flowers, Flowers Direct and Drake Algar brands through ftd.com and interflora.co.uk Web sites as well as via phone.

Potential investors can read the up on the company at its Web site, including a page about the company's techy side. The company estimates that 95% of FTD orders are electronic, sent via the company's Mercury Network. It is headquartered in Downers Grove, Illinois.

The company was founded in 1910 as the Florists' Telegraph Delivery Association.

Appropriately enough, one of its founders was named John Valentine.

Since then, FTD has gone through several corporate iterations and spinoffs. United Online (UNTD) bought and subsumed FTD in 2008. Then, in late 2013, the merger reversed course. FTD was spun off from United Online, which through its subsidiaries provides consumer products and services over the Internet, primarily in the U.S., Canada and Europe. United Online is famous for its generous dividend (which may not be sustainable).

I estimate that FTD will report its latest quarterly earnings on Feb. 19, the same day that its former parent company also is expected to report.

FTD has not only endured but has found ways to reinvent itself. Its Mercury business technology systems are designed to help florists (both bricks-and-mortar and online) with options that can save them money and time, while providing them with the potential for increased profits. Thousands of florists across North America rely on them.

In a world where everyone has to compete with delivery giant Amazon (AMZN) and floral powerhouse Costco (COST), the only way for FTD to employ some brass-knuckles brinksmanship is to out-deliver and outperform. FTD works with "mom-and-pop" retailers that operate locally.

On Feb. 6, the company announced that the board of directors appointed Tracey Belcourt as a director. Belcourt is the executive vice president of strategy for Mondelez International  (MDLZ), the global snacks company, where she leads mergers and acquisitions and is responsible for developing and implementing Mondelez's growth strategy.

Here's a chart of FTD since its spinoff as a separate company late last year. I've included its last quarterly revenue per share figure.


FTD Chart

FTD data by YCharts

Only one analyst appears to cover FTD, and many investors have no clue it exists since the spinoff. Yahoo! Finance quotes the analyst estimate that FTD will report an earnings-per-share loss of 16 cents for the last quarter of 2013. For all of 2013, the estimate puts EPS at 64 cents.

My most important prediction from an investor's point of view is this:

My research suggests that in 2014, FTD Companies may achieve annual EPS of nearly $2, more than triple its 2013 EPS. This would follow an estimated total annual revenue of about $655 million. Before investing, I want to study carefully next week's earnings announcement. I agree with the analyst about a one-year price target for the stock of $45 a share.

This company is one to keep an eye on, as it is a misunderstood stock for a famous brand. It has the potential to knock the lights out in future quarters. For now, FTD's stock is like the weather: relatively unknown and difficult to predict.

Speaking of which, there may be a huge storm on Valentine's Day on the East Coast. Meteorologists have called it "catastrophic," and expect the storm to trigger widespread power outages and dangerous travel conditions. Ice and snow will dump down from Georgia to Maine all through Friday -- which is Valentine's Day. So buying flowers and having them delivered may be best suited for after Cupid's arrows fly. That would work well for FTD, too.

And if you forgot to order flowers for your sweetheart, FTD may just save the day. On their Web site,  you and millions of other can order flowers on the same day and at the last minute.

At the time of publication the author has a position in AMZN.

This article represents the opinion of a contributor and not necessarily that of TheStreet or its editorial staff.

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Marc Courtenay is the founder and owner of Advanced Investor Technologies, LLC, as well as the publisher and editor of www.ChecktheMarkets.com.

Courtenay holds a Master's of Science degree in Psychology from California Polytechnic State University, and is a former senior vice-president of Investments for two major brokerage firms. He's been a fiercely independent investment "investigator" and a consulting contributor to the investment publishing world for over 30 years. In addition to his role as an investment publisher and analyst, he serves as a marketing consultant to the investment media industries.

In his role as a financial writer and editor, he specializes in unique investment strategies, growth with income stocks, overlooked investment themes, tax-advantaged themes, risk management, technologies to capture gains and reduce losses, real estate related opportunities,effective wealth preservation techniques, and the use of ETFs for diversification and asset allocation. He also follows and frequently writes about technology, health sciences, energy and resource companies. Because of his training and background in Clinical Counseling and Psychology, he enjoys writing about investor behavior, the herd mentality, how to turn investment mistakes into investment breakthroughs and the stock market's behavioral trends and patterns.

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