Thursday Winners: NetApp, VeriFone and China Security & Surveillance

Among the biggest winners in Thursday’s early trading are NetApp (Nasdaq: NTAP), VeriFone (NYSE: PAY), and China Security & Surveillance (NYSE: CSR).

Top Percentage Gainers — Thursday, May 27, 2010
Company Name (Ticker) Intra-Day Price Intra-Day
% Gain
52-Week High 52-Week Low
NetApp (Nasdaq: NTAP)
$38.53 +18.8% $38.25 $17.86
VeriFone (NYSE: PAY)
$20.06 +15.9% $23.75 $6.80
China Security (NYSE: CSR)
$4.76 +9.4% $10.24 $4.09

*Table includes companies with minimum market capitalizations of $200 million and three month trading volumes of at least 100,000 shares. All percentage returns are listed as of 10:55AM Eastern Standard Time. Click on ticker symbols for up-to-the-minute price quotes and percentage gain data.

NetApp Underscores Tech Strength

Tech stocks have been trading in a very volatile fashion in recent weeks, but one fact is undeniable: the industry is quickly turning around, as many earnings reports have been stellar. NetApp (Nasdaq: NTAP), a key provider of data storage systems, added fuel to that fire. The company just posted solid fiscal fourth-quarter results, and issued bullish first-quarter guidance. And that’s pushing shares up more than +15% in Thursday trading.

As NetApp’s management noted on Wednesday night’s conference call, a lot of tech hardware has been in place for a number of years and is due for an upgrade. That hardware upgrade cycle, which is now firmly underway, should boost software spending as well.

Action to Take –> NetApp was seen as a likely takeover candidate throughout 2009, but shares are up sharply since then, and the company’s $13 billion market value now likely makes the company too pricey for either other tech firms or private equity investors. Shares may have some further modest gains after this quarterly report, but most of the money has probably already been made in this stock. However, the next time we hit a round of investor cynicism about tech spending, investors may have a shot to get into the stock closer to $30.

VeriFone Confirms Bullish Thesis for Visa and MasterCard

Shares of VeriFone (NYSE: PAY) are also up double-digits on Thursday after a robust earnings report issued Wednesday night. The company, which sells credit and debit card payment machines, is seeing rising demand. That’s coming from a combination of customer upgrades and new installations.

Action to Take –> As the economy rebounds, VeriFone looks set to keep boosting sales at a 10% to 15% clip, and profits at a 15% to 20% clip. Shares, which trade at about 14 times next year’s profits, are certainly reasonably priced. But Visa (NYSE: V) and MasterCard (NYSE: MA) may be the real play here. As we noted last week those firms had sold off sharply on overblown concerns about pending legislation. Both of these firms have strong international exposure, and the Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) just boosted global growth forecasts. Today’s good news from VeriFone underscores the appeal of Visa and MasterCard.

Cash in Hand, CSR Rises

Earlier this month, we profiled China Security & Surveillance (NYSE: CSR), noting that shares were quite cheap as pressure from an impending equity secondary offering was keeping buyers on the sidelines. The company finally priced that offering on Wednesday, and buyers no longer need to wait on the sidelines. They’re pushing shares up +9% today, though that is still -10% below the level when we profiled the stock.

The company’s $60 million capital raise was done at a disappointing $4 a share, though management believes that the strengthened balance sheet will allow CSR to go after ever-larger government contracts. Governments often choose vendors based on their financial stability. 

Action to Take –> With the capital raise behind them, investors can again focus on this stock’s eye-poppingly low valuations. Consensus earnings forecasts will likely need to come down to around $0.90 in 2010 and $1.10 in 2011, thanks to the above-mentioned dilution. But shares, at less than $5, appear to offer tremendous value.