Significant earnings reports continue to thin as earnings season wanes. This week has a retail bias, but tech is also in evidence. One such techie is NetApp (NASDAQ:NTAP), the data storage company.
NTAP reports Q2 2012 earnings on Wednesday after the bell, with analysts expecting 59 cents per share. That’s a 14% increase from a year ago, which is well below the 25% average growth rate the company has sported during the past four quarters.
Few companies can match NTAP’s record of beating or meeting earnings estimates. In fact, we can’t find a single quarterly miss going back more than six years. But performance after those reports has been far less consistent.
That is, performance has been less consistent in terms of direction, not in magnitude. In the day following the past four reports, the stock has logged the following gains/losses: +7.9%, -6.4%, +7.0%, and -14.1%.
Like most stocks, NTAP is riding the tailwind from a huge October. The shares are up more than 25% off the October low, although they have pulled back in the past few days. But the 10-day and 100-day moving averages have been bolstering the stock for the past week, keeping the stock from giving back much of its recent gains.
Sentiment toward NTAP is largely optimistic, which is a concern given that the stock is down 23% in 2011. Of the 37 analysts covering the stock, 25 consider NTAP a “Buy,” a configuration that hasn’t changed much in the past three months.
Short interest is low, but recent activity in the options pits has been raising the put/call ratio. That tells us there are some doubts.
We like NTAP’s prospects of turning in another earnings beat on Wednesday. Given the strong chart support and skepticism among options players, we’re looking for some follow-through on the October rally. Buy the NTAP Dec 42 Call for less than three bucks.