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Tickers in this Article: ISRG, CBST, AMD, INTC, STU
As the earnings season kicks off this week, the focus will certainly be on several large cap stocks that are reporting their quarterly results. Although their earnings announcements may be accompanied by less fanfare, here are four companies in the small cap to mid cap range that are worth keeping an eye on as they unveil their results this week.

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Carving it Up
On Thursday, the medical device maker Intuitive Surgical (Nasdaq:ISRG) is set to release its Q1 results after the closing bell. Analysts are predicting that the company will check in with a 133.3% rise in EPS on a 56.4% pop in total revenue. Shares of ISRG rose 213.2% last year and are up 15.6% so far in 2010.

This company has become known as the dominant player in the field of surgical robotics. Despite a slow economy, I would not be at all surprised to see the company report continued growth of sales of its Da Vinci Surgical Systems. Selling a superior technology to a rather specialized client base has enabled the company to emerge from the recession relatively unscathed.

Another company with a specialized expertise that is also expected to knock the cover off of the ball on Thursday is Cubist Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq:CBST). The company's flagship drug Cubicin is used to treat bacterial infections and continues to present a great deal of upside for Cubist. Wall Street is projecting the company to report a 176.9% increase in Q1 EPS accompanied by a 24.4% improvement in total revenue on a year-over-year basis.

Semiconductor Resurgence
The semiconductor company Advanced Micro Devices (NYSE:AMD) is also slated to report its Q1 results after the market close on Thursday. Analysts are calling for the company to report a loss of 10 cents per share versus a loss of 66 cents per share in the prior year quarter. Sales are expected to surge 30.3%.

This stock has had quite the run as it presently sits more than 150% above where it was trading just one year ago. Last quarter the company reached a favorable antitrust settlement with Intel (Nasdaq:INTC) in which Intel forked over $1.25 billion to AMD. Gross margins for the company continued to improve as the operating environment for chip stocks has drastically improved from a year ago.

Student Loan Corp. (NYSE: STU) is one other company to keep on the radar as it announces its Q1 results later this week. In Q4, the company's allowance for loan losses spiked 35.2% as Student Loan Corp. continues to battle a tough economic backdrop. On the positive side, the company has benefited from gains on loan sales to the Department of Education and cost containment measures that have been implemented.

The Bottom Line
Large cap companies will likely dominate the headlines this week, but astute investors may want to keep their eyes on some of these small cap and mid cap names because they have more room to run. The outlook is relatively favorable for these four companies and Thursday's earnings announcements should add more color as to what will be driving these stocks in the quarters ahead. (These option strategies allow traders to play on earnings announcements without taking a side. To learn more, check out Profit From Earnings Surprises With Straddles And Strangles.)

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