Will Mattress Firm Smash Earnings or Experience a Hard Landing?

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On Wednesday, Mattress Firm Holding Corporation is due to report its earnings for its third fiscal quarter. After having suffered from a significant downturn throughout the financial crisis, the mattress industry has slowly and steadily recovered. However, will this trend continue for Mattress Firm? The company has seen its revenue increase significantly over the past few years. Are its days of high flying behind it, or is it poised to match analysts' expectations?

What Mr. Market expects
For the quarter, Mr. Market has rather high expectations for Mattress Firm. Revenue is expected to grow 15% to $320.43 million from the $278.7 million the company reported for the same quarter a year ago. If this prediction comes to fruition, then the company will be on track to clock $1.24 billion in annual revenue, a nice increase from the $1.01 billion it reported last year.

In regard to earnings per share, the market has even higher expectations. For the quarter, earnings per share is expected to come in at $0.54, 45.9% more than the $0.37 the company reported last year. In addition to increased revenue helping out Mattress Firm's bottom line, analysts expect the company's greater economies of scale to result in improved margins.

If the company is capable of seeing a continued run-up in revenue and earnings per share, then it will perform very much like Tempur Sealy International , which beat earnings by five cents with EPS of $0.73. This was far more than the -$0.03 in EPS it reported in the same quarter a year ago. However, it should be noted that the significant increase in Tempur Sealy's earnings per share is at least partially attributable to its merger with Sealy to create a far larger entity.

Though this turnout is favorable for Mattress Firm shareholders, there is also the possibility that the company will see lackluster results like Select Comfort did this past quarter. As opposed to reporting the $0.43 in EPS that Mr. Market expected, Select Comfort fell short with earnings of $0.36 per share. Despite slightly higher revenue, the company was hit hard by rising costs across the board.

Is the past indicative of the future?
Since 2010, Mattress Firm has done exceedingly well. Revenue increased 133.1% from $434.4 million in 2010 to $1 billion in 2013. This trend has continued year-to-date, with revenue rising by 15.5% from $263.3 million in the second quarter of last year to $304 million in this year's quarter.

Net income has followed suit. While the company reported a net loss of $4.7 million in 2010, this metric has been improving each year, ultimately climbing to $39.9 million in profit last year. This trend has also continued this year, with Mattress Firm's bottom line increasing from $10.1 million in the second quarter of last year to $14.1 million this year.

Likewise, both Tempur Sealy International and Select Comfort have seen increases in both their top and bottom lines. Over the past four years, Tempur Sealy saw its revenue rise by 68.8% from $831.2 million to $1.4 billion. Select Comfort performed even better, with revenue rising by 71.8% from $544.2 million to $935 million.

On a net income basis, both companies performed strongly as well. Net income for Tempur Sealy rose by 25.6% from $85 million to $106.8 million. The disparity between the company's revenue and net income growth was primarily due to a significant increase in its selling, general, and administrative expenses. Just as was the case with revenue, Select Comfort crushed Tempur Sealy. Over the same time-frame, net income rose 119.4% from $35.6 million to $78.1 million. Unlike Tempur Sealy, Select Comfort was able to keep its costs in check as it grew.

Foolish takeaway
When you really dig into these numbers, it's initially promising to see that revenue and net income have been improving across the board. However, the Foolish investor should take into consideration two facts. First, we are coming out of a recession, so the bases for both the top lines and the bottom lines for these companies are fairly low. This could mean that all of the easy growth could already be gone. Second, some of this growth is taking place through consolidation. Instead of growing organically and facing peers that are trying to do the same, these companies are relying on strategic acquisitions to grow their businesses. This means that, eventually, their growth will slow as either attractive targets disappear or antitrust issues arise.

Truthfully, it's impossible to know what kind of earnings Mattress Firm will report on Wednesday, but investors should be mindful that a miss is possible. This is especially true when such a large uptick is expected. Looking beyond earnings though, Mattress Firm appears to be the best of breed as demonstrated by its ability to outperform both of its peers in terms of revenue and net income growth. For this reason alone, the Foolish investor might want to consider viewing an investment in the company as a long-term decision where earnings now don't matter as much as the company's future prospects.

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The article Will Mattress Firm Smash Earnings or Experience a Hard Landing? originally appeared on Fool.com.

Daniel Jones has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of Tempur Sealy International. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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