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FEI Company makes scientific instruments including electron and ion-beam microscopes and tools for nanoscale applications. Its customers are around the world and in industries ranging from data storage to life sciences.
On Feb 3 FEI Company reported fourth-quarter results that included records for bookings, revenue and earnings. The top line improved 22% since last year, to $186.1 million. Net income rose 79%, to $21.3 million.
Earnings worked out to $0.52 per share, up from $0.30 and better than the $0.38 analysts were expecting. This marked the third consecutive earnings surprise.
After the fantastic results and subsequent guidance from the company, analysts quickly raised quarterly and full-year estimates. Upward revisions from each of the 6 covering analysts pushed the full-year 2011 Zacks Consensus Estimate to $1.80, from $1.48.
Next year's estimates are up to $2.09, from $1.63. Given earnings per share of $1.18 in 2010, the annual growth rates are expected to be 53% and 16%.
Valuations & Comparison
With a forward P/E of 18 times and PEG ratio near 1.5 times, FEI Company does not exactly scream value. But given that it is one of the smallest companies in the sector at just over $1 billion in market cap, its price to sales is a better measure. At 1.9 times, it is better than all but 1 company in its peer group.
FEI Company is the top rated company in its industry, which has 8 companies. The industry itself is ranked 9th out of 264 on Zacks.com, so FEIC is a hot company in a strong sector.
Shares of FEIC popped on the earnings surprise but have settled down since then. The stock has been consolidating for a couple weeks now and should be ready for another move higher.
Bill Wilton is the Aggressive Growth Stock Strategist for Zacks.com. He is also the Editor in charge of the market-beating Zacks Small Cap Trader service
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