Despite bearish stories out of Barron’s and the Wall Street Journal in recent weeks, electronics retailer RadioShack (RSH) shook up those betting against the stock this morning by reporting first quarter earnings that more than doubled analyst estimates. Shares are up nearly 10% this morning.
If this sounds familiar, it is exactly what has propelled shares of Sears Holdings (SHLD) from $15 to more than $190 each. Analysts, reporters, and industry experts will always sound the warning bells when they see overall sales declines, especially same store sales. Although many believe SSS to be the best indicator of a retailer’s health, stock prices reflect earnings, not sales.
We are likely to continue to see naysayers complain about poor sales at RadioShack. After all, they did the same thing with Sears and even continue to do so, despite the stock’s astronomical move. I would expect analysts to continue to underestimate the earnings power of RSH, just as they have done with SHLD. As a result, neither stock is ripe for sale yet despite the fact that negative press will continue to cause temporary worries and sell-offs along the way.
As I have written about before, RadioShack is imitating the Sears Holdings model of ridding itself of unprofitable sales. Over the last three months, RSH has shrunk its business from 6835 retail locations to only 5205. The result of closing underperforming stores has been declining sales, as one would expect, but gross margins jumped to 52% from 48% last year and earnings soared to $0.29 per share, more than doubling the consensus forecast of $0.14 per share.
Full Disclosure: Long shares of RadioShack and Sears Holdings at the time of writing