TripAdvisor Takes Flight On EPS; Ruger Aims High

Investor's Business Daily

A slew of high-ranking stocks reported stronger-than-expected earnings Tuesday, on a mix of new product offerings, improved advertising revenue, higher fees and strict cost-controls.

Gun maker Sturm Ruger (RGR - News), No. 1 on the IBD 50 list, late Tuesday posted first-quarter earnings of 79 cents per share, up 88% from a year ago. Revenue surged 49% to $112.3 million. Analysts expected EPS of 68 cents, on sales of $101.7 million.

Ruger previously said it had received orders for more than 1.2 million units in the first quarter — more than the total it shipped in all of 2011. Analysts say the deluge was driven by customers worried that Washington could push for a new round of gun restrictions. It doesn't expect to accept new orders again until the end of May.

New products, including the Ruger American Rifle and the SR22 pistol, accounted for 37% of sales in the quarter.

Shares rose more than 3% in late trading, recovering most of its 3% regular-session loss.

No-frills flier Spirit Airlines (SAVE - News) leaned on passenger fees to overcome rising fuel costs. The Florida-based airline, No. 29 on the IBD 50, reporting before the open, posted adjusted earnings of 33 cents per share, up almost 38% and a penny higher than analyst forecasts. Operating revenue climbed almost 30% to $301.5 million, in line with analysts' consensus estimates.

Fuel costs soared 34.4%, as Spirit added routes and paid more per gallon. But non-ticket revenue from fees it charges for everything from carrying on a bag to preselecting a seat surged 21.3%CFO Ted Christie said in a statement that Spirit will not "relax our vigilance" in managing costs.

But shares fell 4% during the regular session.

Ubiquiti Networks (UBNT - News), No. 48 on the latest IBD 50, reported after the market close. Fiscal Q3 earnings leapt 131% to 30 cents per share, 3 cents higher than analysts had forecast. Revenue rose 79% to $91.7 million, beating consensus of $90.5 million.

The company, which sells wireless networking gear to rural In ternet service providers in emerging markets, expects Q4 EPS at 28-29 cents, vs. forecasts for 28 cents. It sees revenue of $93 million to $95 million, with analysts forecasting $93.9 million.

Shares fell 6% in late trading, essentially erasing its regular-session gain ahead of results.

The after-hours standout was TripAdvisor (TRIP - News), which recently dropped off the IBD 50 list but may soon return. Q1 earnings of 38 cents were flat vs. a year earlier, but 4 cents better than analyst forecasts. Revenue climbed 23% at the December Expedia (EXPE - News) spinoff, to $183.7 million, above forecasts for $174.41 million.

The user-generated-ratings site saw a 20% hike in click-based advertising revenue, its single largest source of income. Display ad sales climbed 17%. Subscriptions and other revenue rose 67%.

"Our travel community has never been stronger with over 60 million reviews and opinions and adding content at a rate of more than 40 contributions per minute," CEO Steve Kaufer said in a statement. "We continue to extend our market leadership position through real-time innovation across desktop, tablet and mobile and are thrilled with the opportunities in front of us.

Shares shot up 17% in late trading after sliding nearly 3% ahead of results. Priceline.com (PCLN - News), No. 5 on the IBD 50, edged up late. It reports results next week.

Clearing The Low BarOverall, analysts set the bar low for this Q1 earnings season, guided by meek corporate guidance, said Hugh Johnson, chairman of Hugh Johnson Advisors.

With earnings results in from 65% of the S&P 500, more than 71% of those firms leaped over those low hurdles. Still, the first quarter is likely to show the slowest growth since Q3 2009, as the U.S. was leaving the recession.

Johnson says earnings beats no longer impress.

"The issue really for the market is not so much what happened in the first quarter, but what's going to happen in the remainder of 2012 and in 2013," he said.

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