Aflac, Carmike, Synovus, TSYS up to bat

Columbus-based companies prepare third-quarter financial reports

tadams@ledger-enquirer.comOctober 20, 2013 

It's earnings season for the publicly traded companies headquartered in Columbus. And, as usual, there's the question: Will they meet or beat expectations? Or perhaps pull a major surprise higher or lower?

Aflac, Carmike Cinemas, Synovus Financial Corp. and TSYS all are set to roll out their third-quarter (July through September) financial reports in the coming days.

First up is regional banking firm Synovus, which issues its earnings data early Tuesday morning before the New York Stock Exchange opens.

The parent company of Columbus Bank and Trust posted a profit of 2 cents per share in the third quarter of 2012. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial are expecting the company to double that to 4 cents per share in the current period. However, revenue is expected to come in at $270.6 million, which would be off 5.2 percent from a year ago.

Synovus stock was recently upgraded by Zacks Equity Research from "neutral" to "outperform" because of its expense cuts in recent quarters and strong cash position.

Up to bat after the bank will be global credit-card processor TSYS, which issues its earnings information Tuesday afternoon after the markets close.

The company's stock was recently upgraded from "market perform" to "outperform" by JMP Securities. It listed a 52-week stock price target of $35 per share, citing "favorable risk/reward, conservative guidance, improving transaction and volume trends, debt paydown, and increased visibility."

Wall Street analysts apparently agree, with the 20 that follow the firm expecting earnings per share of 47 cents in the third quarter, up from 32 cents per share a year ago. Revenue is estimated at $586.2 million, which would be about 25 percent higher than the same period of 2012.

Following TSYS will be Aflac, the supplemental health and life insurance company with corporate offices towering over Wynnton Road. Its report will be released Oct. 29 after the stock market closes.

Aflac has forecast declining sales in Japan, its bread-and-butter market. But it also has signed potentially lucrative agreements this year to sell insurance policies through Japan Post, the Asian nation's postal service.

That said, the nearly two dozen analysts following

the company expect earnings per share of $1.48 in the current quarter, down from $1.77 per share in the same period a year ago. Revenue is projected to come in at $5.8 billion, which would be 14 percent lower than a year ago.

But never count out Aflac, which has been prolific with delivering profits and stock dividends. FBR Capital Markets apparently believes that to be the case, recently upgrading the firm from "market perform" to "outperform" and slapping a $71 per share price target on its stock.

Finally, there's Carmike Cinemas, which is expected to issue its earnings report Nov. 5. The company has been on a steady expansion mode in recent quarters, opening new theaters and adding others through strategic acquisitions.

There have been quarters when Carmike has surprised on the earnings front to the upside. And there have been times when the opposite occurred. Part of that is because the firm is at the mercy of Hollywood to deliver quality and captivating movies that will put plenty of people in its theater seats and beef up its ticket and concession sales.

The half dozen or so analysts who follow the theater chain apparently see a bright quarter for Carmike, with earnings per share of 21 cents anticipated. A year ago? It was a profit of one penny per share.

As for revenue, that is projected to come in at $155.6 million, which would be 22 percent higher than the third quarter of 2012.

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