reported first-quarter results Thursday night, its management hardly pounded the table about the company's prospects. After beating revised expectations, executives basically said they had
no idea how the current quarter, or the rest of the year, would turn out.
Because the stock market hates uncertainty, Friday's trading in the integration software maker's stock was somewhat perplexing. After sinking more than 10% Thursday, Tibco shares strapped on a rocket pack Friday morning, passed the Russian space station
going in the other direction, and surged 28% by early afternoon.
"There was nothing on that call that could possibly give anyone any encouragement to want to buy this thing," says Gibbs Moody, an analyst at
Gerard Klauer Mattison
who rates Tibco a neutral and whose firm hasn't done underwriting for the company. He attributed the surge to short-sellers, who profit when a stock goes down, having to buy the stock to protect their positions. "I do think at seven-and-half bucks, the down side, from the short perspective, is limited."
Lately, Tibco's stock was up $2.28, to $10.31.
Yet others looked at the rise in Tibco's shares, combined with a more upbeat market for technology stocks, as a sign that the gloomy sentiment that has plagued tech stocks may be lifting -- at least for the
of tech stocks.
"Things have changed," says Ken Kiarash, an analyst at
Buckingham Research Group
who rates the stock accumulate. "You can't really have the same type of expectations you had before. Despite the fact that they missed their original numbers, they did book $82 million in revenue and they have positive earnings. That's one of the key factors that people are focusing on now." (Kiarash's firm hasn't done underwriting for the company.)
In other words, given the slowing economy, investors are giving some companies, or at least Tibco, more credit for doing less. Certainly, if Tibco had held its call two weeks ago -- or maybe even two days ago -- its stock likely wouldn't have enjoyed gains like the ones seen on Friday.
But that was then, and this is now.
"There's a recognition now that visibility issues pervade just about every technology company in this market," says
analyst David Breiner, who has a strong buy rating on the stock. "Now, it's assumed from the get-go that visibility is limited, so for a company to come out and say it is not particularly troubling at this stage."
In that light, Tibco may be getting points for honesty.
"Let's pretend they had said the converse, that visibility is good and then gave aggressive guidance," Breiner says. "I don't think the Street would have believed it anyway."
Buckingham's Kiarash says investors' getting past visibility issues, ironically, now allows them to focus on the positive they do expect going forward.
"What we came away with is that positive trends still exist," Kiarash says. "Demand for their product remains strong, and the deals that were getting pushed out will come back. Whether it happens in the second half of this year or in 2002 isn't clear, but they will come back."
Whether that's a sign of investors accentuating the positive, clinging to desperate hope, or Tibco just getting lucky is anybody's guess. But it's a far cry from what was happening just a week ago.