Thursday Losers: Coldwater Creek, Parexel and Walter Energy

David Sterman's picture

Thursday, June 3, 2010 - 11:10am

by David Sterman

Among the biggest losers in Thursday's early trading are Coldwater Creek (Nasdaq: CWTR), Parexel (Nasdaq: PRXL) and Walter Energy (NYSE: WLT).

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Top Percentage Losers -- Thursday, June 3, 2010
Company Name (Ticker) Intra-Day Price Intra-Day
% Loss
52-Week High 52-Week Low
Coldwater Creek (Nasdaq: CWTR) $5.24 -11.8% $9.20 $4.14
Parexel (Nasdaq: PRXL) $21.44 -9.0% $25.64 $11.04
Walter Energy (NYSE: WLT) $71.20 -4.8% $99.45 $29.02

*Table includes companies with minimum market capitalizations of $200 million and three month trading volumes of at least 100,000 shares. All percentage returns are listed as of 10:53AM Eastern Standard Time. Click on ticker symbols for up-to-the-minute price quotes and percentage gain data.

Retail: Excuses to Sell

Executives at Coldwater Creek (Nasdaq: CWTR) would like you to notice that the women’s apparel vendor posted a surprise first-quarter profit. But investors are focusing on the fact that the fiscal second quarter is off to a slow start, which will force the retailer into markdowns. That will crimp profit margins and lead to a quarterly loss. That’s pushing shares down roughly -12% on Thursday, not far from the 52-week low. A +32% spike in inventories is also causing concern, which management intends to clear out in the company’s annual June summer sales event.

Action to Take --> Shares are fairly cheap at just 0.4 times projected fiscal 2011 sales, while rivals such as Chico’s FAS (NYSE: CHS) and Ann Taylor (NYSE: ANN) trade closer to 0.7 times sales. But the sales concerns will take time to resolve, as the company is seeking a new head of merchandising to rejuvenate the product line. New merchandising teams need plenty of time to order new fashions. So it will be a year or more before shoppers can sense whether Coldwater Creek’s fashions are back on track. Deep value investors should give the stock a close look, as shares have likely found a floor here. But major gains in the stock may be a number of quarters out.


A Bad Bet on Parexel

Investors circled today's date on their calendars, noting that Parexel (Nasdaq: PRXL), which provides clinical research services to drug companies, would be issuing fresh guidance for 2011. They bid shares up around +5% Wednesday anticipating that the company’s guidance would be above current consensus estimates. Instead, management simply met expectations, and those investors trying to score a quick hit are dumping the stock today, pushing it down -9%.

But for investors focused on the longer-term, Parexel should be on your radar. The Contract Research Organization (CRO) is one of the largest in the industry, and has been using that scale to offer clients a wider range of services. This enables the company to wrest contracts away from smaller rivals. Moreover, the entire CRO industry is growing at a nice clip, as more large drug companies are realizing that it is more cost-effective to outsource clinical trials. In the first quarter, the six largest publicly-traded CROs booked more orders than actual billings, which was the first positive book-to-bill ratio in a number of quarters, according to analysts.

Action to Take --> Parexel is an appealing health care play as a broad proxy for all of the drug trials underway. But whereas biotechs offer huge reward and huge risk, Parexel offers much lower risk but also less upside. Shares should eventually work back to the upper $20s as earnings multiples come in line with historical norms.


Early Preview of Obama’s Climate Plans

We’ll be taking a closer look at the potential winners and losers from President Obama’s renewed push for clean energy, but it’s clear that coal stocks will be under pressure. This morning, shares of Walter Energy (NYSE: WLT) are off roughly -4% as investors start to re-jigger their portfolios. Walter Energy mines high-grade coal that is used at steel plants. Shares had already been weakening in recent months on concerns that the Chinese steel sector was set to cool off. Potentially crimping demand for Walters. Another negative: natural gas, which can be used as an alternative energy source, remains very cheap and burns cleaner.

Action to Take --> The continued sell-off puts shares deep into value territory, trading at around 6.5 times next year’s profit forecasts, and close to four times earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA). In addition, global demand for steel may hold up better than many expect, as production of autos and appliances, and eventually commercial construction, should prove to be key drivers of economic growth. Wait for clarity on the Obama administration’s climate initiatives, to be sure that the headlines don’t cause further weakness, but be ready to pounce. Some analysts predict that shares will eventually trade back up to five or six times projected EBITDA, which would push shares right back up to the 52-week high of around $100 - +40% above current levels.

David Sterman does not personally hold positions in any securities mentioned in this article.
StreetAuthority LLC does not hold positions in any securities mentioned in this article.