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Ciena Corp (CIEN - Analyst Report) is scheduled to release its first quarter 2013 results on March 7. Though the company posted a negative surprise of 14.3% in the last quarter, Ciena posted an average surprise of +4.9% over the last four quarters. Let’s see how things are shaping up for the company in this quarter.

Factors Affecting Growth this Past Quarter

Ciena reported dismal fourth-quarter results with the top line failing to meet the Zacks Consensus Estimate. Ciena’s loss per share widened on a year-over-year basis.

The company also reported margin contractions due to unfavorable product mix and higher-than-expected operating expenses.

Ciena expects a tepid first quarter due to reductions in order volume and deployment activity owing to the holiday season. For 2013, management remains optimistic and expects to gain market share, driven by continued spending from telecom carriers that remain focused on upgrading their networks. However, management hinted at subdued gross margins due to start-up costs related to new orders and its deployments.

Earnings Whispers?

The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the first quarter stands at a loss of 25 cents per share while that for fiscal 2013 stands at a loss of 29 cents per share.

There have been no revisions in the first quarter and 2013 estimates over the last 60 days. As a result, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for the two periods remain pinned at 25 cents and 29 cents, respectively.

The lack of downward movement in estimates signals that the first quarter might not be too different from the past quarters. This is also indicated by that fact that the stock carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

We caution against stocks with Zacks Ranks #4 and #5 (Sell rated stocks) going into the earnings announcement, especially when the company is seeing negative estimate revisions momentum.

Other Stocks to Consider

Our model states that a stock needs to have both a positive Zacks Earnings ESP and a Zacks Rank of #1, #2 or #3 to beat earnings estimates. You could, however, consider the following stocks that satisfy both criteria:

Energizer Holdings (ENR - Analyst Report) has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) and Zacks Earnings ESP of 0.78%.

Fiserv Inc. (FISV - Analyst Report) has a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) and Zacks Earnings ESP of 0.76%.

Akamai Technologies (AKAM - Analyst Report) has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) and Zacks Earnings ESP of 2.7%.

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