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Polaris Industries, Inc. (PII) Rides Roughshod Over Wall Street's Numbers

 January 25, 2013 03:10 PM

(By Rich Bieglmeier) Polaris Industries, Inc. (PII) is expected to report earnings its fourth quarter and full year 2012 financial results on Tuesday, January 29, 2013, and will hold a conference call and webcast at 9:00 a.m. Central Time on the same day to discuss the release.. Wall Street anticipates that PII will earn $1.23 for its fourth quarter. iStock expects the recreational vehicles maker to report earnings that will exceed Wall Street's consensus number. The iEstimate is $1.25 – a 2 cents upside surprise.

Polaris Industries Inc., together with its subsidiaries, engages in designing, engineering, manufacturing, and marketing off-road vehicles, snowmobiles, and on-road vehicles primarily in the United States, Canada, and Europe.

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The consumer goods company has topped Wall Street's consensus number for at least 16 straight quarters with and average beat of 16.93%, which would equate to $1.44 for Tuesday's report card. How brave we are calling for a 17th straight surprise, right?

PII's share price reaction has been nearly as predictable as the direction of the earnings surprise. Shareholders enjoyed gains in the days surrounding the earnings announcement 14 of the last 16 announcements, including 14 of the last 15. The average gain of 6.7% has left shareholders smiling. Twice, the stocks tailed off by 2.8% and 7.3%. Overall, it's paid to ride Polaris Industries before earnings.

Looking at Google Trends for some of Polaris' products, we find that queries for "Polaris Ranger" are up 16.9% for October – December of 2012 versus the same timeframe in 2011, and up 3.07% against Q3 2012.

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"Polaris RZR" was Googled 15% more year-over-year (YoY) but are down 15.4% compared to Q3. Meanwhile, "Polaris Sportsman" was searched 12.7% more in 2012's fourth quarter than in 2011, but, once again, down quarter-over-quarter (QoQ) by 8.45%.

Finally, we see a YoY increase of 23% for 2012, and a 9.43% dip QoQ for "Polaris Scrambler."

Last year, the off-road vehicle maker earned 90 cents for the fourth quarter and in the recently completed third quarter $1.33. Based on Google Trends for some PII most promoted brands, Wall Street's $1.23 is spot-on with the 7.3% average decrease of search intensity from Q3 to Q4.

Crunching 10Q numbers, most of what we find is OK. Costs and expenses, not including Research & Development – are up 21% for the three months ended September 30, 2012, receivables increased 18% while sales were up 20% YoY. That's all good.

However, we did see one red flag; inventory rose 37.5% for the first nine months of the year versus 23% sales growth. It could be the company built up supplies before expected holiday demand; however, based on search results and Wall Street's estimate, some inventory hangover could remain, which could mean margin pressure moving into Q1.

Overall, history suggests Polaris Industries, Inc. (PII) is a decent stock to ride for earnings, and the iEstimate hints at a 17th consecutive quarter of earnings surprises.



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