Control4 Corp. (CTRL) surged after the company's fourth-quarter earnings report. This is a home automation player with wider ambitions than just your new home. While the stock gained visibility after Google's $3.2 billion acquisition of Nest Labs, this is also one of our own picks of nine stocks that could double in 2014.
The 24/7 Wall St. take: Control4 could still double, or more, if things play out properly. What is different here from most of our picks is that Control4 is a recent initial public offering from the IPO class of 2013.
The company's earnings were $0.14 per share, on a sales gain of 17% to $35.8 million. Its CEO signaled that the next-generation wireless and panel lighting solutions are being well received, and guidance for the current quarter was put at break-even or so on earnings and $30 million to $32 million in revenue. That is in line with the estimates of -$0.01 in earnings per share and $31.3 million in revenue.
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One analyst has upgrade its target on the stock. Canaccord Genuity said that record revenue shows continued strength in the home automation macro theme. The firm raised its price target to $25 from $23 in the call. The consensus price target is up around $26 now, but Imperial Capital already has a $30 price target.
One driving force behind additional success is that Toll Brothers Inc. (TOL) recently announced that Control4 was selected to offer new homebuyers an option for smart automation technology. This is likely not the last of the homebuilder announcements. Again, Control4 has other ambitions than just new homes -- lighting and security are just a part of the mix. The company wants to bring new automation and features to businesses, hotels, bars and restaurants, and even fitness facilities.
When we listed Control4 as a potential double, the stock was listed around $23, and the market sell-off proceeded to drag shares down close to $20. The post-earnings reaction had shares up 12% to $22.60 again, and this stock could find itself considerably higher later on in 2014 and into 2015 as home automation and business expansion in this field becomes more mainstream.
There are still some competing interests to worry about. Google Inc. (GOOG) is a formidable competitor in anything it wants to compete in. Paying $3.2 billion in cash to Nest Labs is a signal that it will compete very hard for home automation. Still, Control4 looks to be way ahead of Nest in its offering capabilities. In the aftermath of the Google interest, Control4 shares rose from just above $18 up to a high of $32.50 before coming back to earth.
Security companies like ADT and others are getting more and more into home automation. Fortunately, that is generally along the security, audio and video lines in general.
Where this story gets interesting is, with a market cap of just over $500 million, the consensus growth expectation out to 2015 is for earnings per share growth of 70% to $0.72 per share and revenue growth of 18% to $177.5 million. If a few more things come into the mix, Control4 shares could find that growth to be much higher.
If you want to think about 2015 valuations, the value today with shares close to $23 again is about 31 times earnings and less than three times sales. Please note: We do not use valuations two years on recent IPOs, but some investors do for growth prospect screens.
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This is no slam dunk, but it has very high possibilities. Research and Markets recently added a report to its research list from Berg Insight. It projects that revenues from shipments of home automation systems throughout Europe and North America will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 43% in the next five years -- from only $2.2 billion in 2012 to around $12.8 billion by the year 2017.
We listed four serious risk factors in our "stocks that could double" analysis. There are actually four factors to consider when it comes to risk:
- The stock price has already doubled once.
- Competition in this space will be fierce, and there may be a dependence on new construction trends.
- Control4 has only been public since the summer of 2013 -- coming public at $16 per share.
- There are also no stock options for hedging, but that should change very soon.
Whether Control4 truly doubles its stock price is up for debate. It has already doubled once. What does not seem to be up for debate is how much opportunity there is in this space ahead. Control4 seems to be further along the line in product offerings than most of its peers, and it is not out of the realm to believe that one of the larger technology companies would want to acquire it.
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