The market doesn't seem to believe it, considering Xerox shares
are trading at a mere 8.7 times earnings. After two straight years of increased earnings, though, and another improvement in the cards this year, the argument that the copier business is dead is getting more than a little tired.
There's another understandable reason investors remain this unimpressed with the company. On almost every other measure used to grade stocks, Xerox looks ugly. For instance, net margins are a mere 5.7%, the return on equity is only 10.7%, and revenue has only grown by 4.6% for the past four quarters. They're all sub-par. Yet, what the company lacks in pizzazz, it makes up for in consistency -- at least we can rely on net margins of around 5.7%, and sales growth of 4.6%. It may not be sexy, but you're paying next to nothing for those reliable results.
All that being said, while Xerox is known as a copier company, it's quietly ramping up its offerings in the digital arenas of health care records, human resources document management, finance and accounting
services, and more. Even if the legacy business is dead in the water, the company's well-positioned for the future. 3. MetLife (NYSE: MET)
Although its earnings have been far more erratic since the 2008 crisis, MetLife is approaching its peak earnings levels from 2007 again. The insurer earned a whopping $3.25 per share in 2007, but watched that number slump to $2.91 in 2009. Last year, however, the figure was pumped back up to $5.02, and is -- or was anyway -- expected to be at least a little higher this year.
But MetLife just posted a loss of $0.09 for the first quarter, well shy of the $1.25 profit analysts were expecting. It was a blow the company didn't need, either, considering it was also one of the outfits that didn't pass the Federal Reserve's stress test last month. As a result of the failed stress test, it wasn't allowed to raise its dividend
It all seems like a brewing disappointment for shareholders. In this case, though, the problems on the surface aren't problems under the hood.