The Case For An eResearch Turnaround
Monday February 26, 4:49 am ET
Ant & Sons submits: On Wednesday, eResearch Technology Inc. (NasdaqGS: ERES) finally had an earnings report that had to please investors who have been quite disappointed with prior quarters. The company reported revenues of $19.9 million for the fourth quarter and earnings of $.04 per share. This compared with year ago results of earnings of $.10 per share on revenue of $25.4 million.
While the company guided slightly lower for the first quarter, it provided guidance for the full year that looks to be ahead of Wall Street's original estimates. For 2007, the company expects per-share earnings of $.25 to $.30 per share on revenue $95 million to $103 million, compared with the average analyst estimate of $.25 cents per share on revenue of $97.4 million. What also seemed to be a positive in the latest earnings report is when the company mentioned that the efficiency improvements (layoffs) will help to keep costs from rising. While those improvements will not make an immediate impact in the current year, the efficiency savings will add about $.05 in earnings per share for the full year 2008. At the same time, eResearch managed to increase its cash position to $57.8 million, up from $53.3 million at the end of the third quarter of 2006. The company signed $27.5 million in new contracts in the fourth quarter alone and reported a backlog of $96.4 million, an increase of $4.3 million from the prior quarter.
With new management now in place, and a better outlook in store, it looks like shareholders have seen the last of disappointing earnings. The turnaround sentiment is even starting to catch on a bit, with analysts over at Friedman Billings & Ramsey upping their price target on the company from $8.00 to $9.00 per share. In the words of CEO Dr. Michael McKelvey, 2006 will represent a "favorable turning point for the company" that will "lead to a successful and more profitable 2007." Hopefully, this will translate into better earnings not only reflective of cost cutting measures, but due to a resurgence in revenue growth.