Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Why Pitney Bowes Shares Got Slammed

By Sean Williams , The Motley Fool, Posted 1:30PM 05/08/12
Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis. 
What: Shares of mail processing equipment and mail solutions provider Pitney Bowes (NYS: PBI) received a stamp of disapproval from shareholders this morning and fell as much as 10% after the company reported its first-quarter results.

So what: It really wasn't as poor a quarter as everyone had expected, but then again, there's not much to look forward to nowadays when the U.S. Postal Service is a large customer of Pitney Bowes. For the quarter, Pitney Bowes' revenue fell slightly to $1.26 billion from the year earlier while EPS came in at $0.52. It was a mixed report where revenue failed to live up to expectations, but its adjusted profit did beat the consensus figure by $0.02. Other than software, all business segments showed a year-over-year decline in revenue. Pitney Bowes also left its full-year forecast unchanged and still expects revenue to be in the plus-or-minus 2% range and EPS to range between $2.05 and $2.25.

Now what: Pitney Bowes has become a total value investors' stock over the past few years. Growth in the mail industry has dried up as communication has switched to a digital platform, making it increasingly hard for Pitney Bowes to grow its business. In response to this weakened growth, the company has turned to hefty dividends to keep its shareholders happy. Now the question has become: Is it really worth suffering through little to no growth to receive just shy of a 10% dividend yield? With the long-term trend pointing away from standard mail, I'm inclined to say no and would opt for a REIT or MLP if I wanted the safety of a yield that large. The days of Pitney as a growth stock are long gone, and so is my interest in the company.

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