Synovus, TSYS unveil fourth quarter earnings Tuesday

tadams@ledger-enquirer.comJanuary 20, 2013 

It's earnings time for the four publicly traded companies headquartered in Columbus.

Regional bank Synovus Financial Corp. will kick things off Tuesday morning before the stock market opens with its financial data from the fourth quarter of 2012 and the year as a whole.

It will be followed Tuesday afternoon, after the market closes, by credit-card processor TSYS, which will unveil the earnings information from its global business.

Two weeks later, on Feb. 5, Aflac, a supplemental health and life insurer famed for its duck ads, will dish out details on its revenue and profit for the past year.

Carmike Cinemas, a movie-theater chain with the goal of being an industry star, has yet to set a date, although its quarterly and yearly numbers look to be very solid.

Here's a synopsis on each company and what is expected of them:

Synovus

The bank, which has strung together five straight quarterly profits after three years of losses, apparently is in position to post a loss for the fourth quarter and the year.

The 19 analysts surveyed by research firm Thomson Financial anticipate an average loss of 9 cents per share on nearly $279 million in revenue.

That compares to a penny-per-share profit on revenue of just over $300 million in the fourth quarter of 2011.

For all of 2012, the analysts expect the parent company of Columbus Bank and Trust to record a loss of 1 cent per share, which still is an improvement from a 15-cent-per-share setback in 2010.

The company has signaled its intentions to pay back the $968 million it borrowed through the Troubled Asset Relief Program sometime between April and December.

It is the largest financial institution that still owes money through the program.

Market research firm Keefe Bruyette recently upgraded the target price for the bank's stock shares from $2.50 to $3.25.

TSYS

The credit card and electronic payments processor, incorporated as Total System Services, weathered the financial fallout from the Great Recession in good shape.

It now is looking for steady growth and appears to be achieving that goal with its latest quarter.

The 21 analysts who follow the firm are expecting a profit of 33 cents per share on revenue of $485 million, which would be up from 31 cents and revenue of $472 million in the October-December period of 2011.

For full-year 2012, earnings should come in at $1.29 per share, an improvement from $1.15 the year before.

The company's management has clearly signaled its intentions to use its strong cash flow for strategically acquiring card-processing and merchant businesses that can help it diversify and grow its existing revenue pipeline.

It has made several purchases, but its biggest to date was the two-part acquisition of First National Merchant Solutions in 2010 and 2011 for about $320 million.

Aflac

The company, which insures workers in the U.S. and Japan, guaranteeing them supplemental cash to cover expenses following an injury or illness, has overcome several obstacles over the last couple of years.

A deadly earthquake and tsunami in Japan in 2011 was followed by a string of charge offs connected to investment losses in economically challenged Europe.

But the profits and dividends have continued to roll in. And the 22 analysts polled by Thomson Financial don't expect that to stop in the fourth quarter, although there are signs a slowing of revenue may be occurring.

The firm is expected to record a profit of $1.48 per share on revenue of $6.5 billion, slightly better than $1.45 on revenue of nearly $6 billion in the fourth quarter of 2011.

For all of 2012, market prognosticators anticipate Aflac will rake in a profit of $6.60 per share, up from the $6.27 it posted in the prior year.

And while it's still a bit early to forecast 2013, the analysts for now see a more meager full-year gain, with earnings of $6.71 per share.

Financial firm Raymond James on Thursday lowered its outlook for Aflac from "outperform" to "market perform," which essentially wiped away target-price expectations of $62 per share.

The stock is currently trading just under $52 per share.

Raymond James noted the "relative lack of upside following strong share price performance combined with the pressure on earnings from the weakness in the yen."

U.S. sales also are expected to fall 3.5 percent, the financial firm said. Sterne Agee research analysts also downgraded the company last week from "buy" to "neutral."

Carmike Cinemas

The motion-picture exhibitor, which operates more than 230 movie theaters in 35 states, is now experiencing a growth surge amid what analysts have declared a blockbuster year for the industry. Carmike has upgraded its theaters over the last couple of years and is now setting its sights on opening new, modern movie houses in key midsized markets. The basic goal through new theaters and strategic acquisitions of smaller players is to add 70 new locations for a total of 300 theaters.

It all is adding up to a solid picture for Carmike, with the seven market analysts that track the company anticipating a fourth-quarter profit of 22 cents per share on revenue of nearly $143 million. That's better than the 14 cents per share on revenue of $120 million a year ago.

For 2012 as a whole, the firm is expected to post earnings of 50 cents per share, obviously much improved from the loss of 60 cents per share in 2011.

What's more -- and it's still early -- but market analysts see Carmike surging to a profit of $1.16 per share this year. That could get Hollywood investors buzzing.

Still, some industry analysts have pointed out the super financial season of 2012 will be a hard act to follow for Carmike and its competitors, particularly when it comes to comparing 2013 earnings to the prior year.

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