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Ticker Shock: Strong Quarter But Uncertain Future for Verizon, Penn National, BE Aerospace


Monday's top stories and stocks with potential to move.


Not again! Asia was a mess - the Hang Sang was off more than 12%. The Nikkei was off more than 6%. Europe was in the red too. And unfortunately, here in the States, we're off to a lower open.

Penn National Gaming (PENN)
Before the open, Penn released its third-quarter results. The company earned $0.50 per share, not counting items, which was sharply north of the $0.34 per share analysts had been looking for.

But I'm pretty concerned about what's going to happen going forward. After all, the competition remains stiff, the economy is slow, and I have this feeling that forecasting accurately will become quite difficult. And if the shares were such a great deal, where are the insiders?

My gut tells me to steer clear on this one. Perhaps after tax-loss-selling season?

BE Aerospace (BEAV)
BE Aerospace, the Florida-based maker of aircraft interior products, turned in some solid third-quarter results this morning.

Excluding costs related to the acquisition of Honeywell's (HON) Consumables Solutions distribution business, the company reported earnings of $56.6 million, or $0.59 per share.

Good news, because it's $0.06 north of what analysts had been looking for. It's also a penny north of the company's prior expectations.

Long story short, I like the stock - but for the long haul.

Now, could it pop today? Sure. But given what I perceive as weak demand for air travel in the near-term, I think the stock could remain under pressure.

By the way, I like what I'm seeing from insiders here.

Humana (HUM)
Adjusted third-quarter earnings for the well-known insurer came in at $1.49 a share. That was $0.02 north of the Street's expectations, and in line with the $1.45 to $1.50 per share guidance it offered up in conjunction with its second-quarter numbers.

But what really stood out to me was the company's full-year forecast, as well as its forecast for 2009. In 2008, the company is looking for $3.80 to $3.90 a share; in 2009, $5.90 to $6.10.

Of course, I have no idea if it will actually hit those numbers. But for a stock that trades in the mid-30s, it certainly captures my attention.

Verizon (VZ)
Verizon, which needs no introduction, turned in an adjusted third-quarter profit of $0.66 per share (not counting certain expenses), which was essentially in line with expectations.

The talk this morning revolves around its wireless business, which apparently added more subscribers than some were expecting. It also reportedly lost fewer DSL customers in the period than it did in the prior quarter.

All in all, I liked what I saw, and I think the stock could pop today. But I'm not too excited about the story beyond that. The competition remains stiff, and I think a continuing decline in the economy will cause many to rethink that DSL connection.

Frankly, I'd rather wait till year-end, when tax-loss-selling season is out of the way, and then re-evaluate.

Good luck, and have a great day!
No positions in stocks mentioned.

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