TiVo Prepares for a Tense Thursday

Very few companies manage to turn their brand names into common verbs, but TiVo (NAS: TIVO) fits that bill as digital video recording has been synonymous with TiVo-ing since they were invented. The company reports fourth-quarter results tomorrow night; will this report be one to rewind and enjoy again, or one investors wish they could fast-forward right past?

The word on the Street
Analysts have a mixed view of TiVo's quarter. Sales are expected to jump about 23% year over year to $51 million while net losses per share should shrink from $0.30 to $0.21. The range of revenue forecasts is pretty tight, but EPS targets sprawl from a $0.29 loss to a $0.12 profit per share.

For the record, TiVo's management team expects a $32 non-GAAP net loss or about $0.27 per share. Wall Street's targets are not quite as gloomy. Three raised earnings targets in the last month have made all the difference.

What's new?
In turn, those upgrades were a reaction to some pretty significant TiVo news. A long-running patent infringement lawsuit against AT&T (NYS: T) was settled in January. The $215 million minimum payout from Ma Bell looks small next to the $500 million collected from DISH Network (NAS: DISH) last year, but then AT&T has fewer TV service customers than the satellite TV operator.

Taken together, these cases lay the foundation for a lot of technology license deals. This gunslinger seems to walk away from every legal duel in one piece, so why gamble on another shootout when a smaller patent contract is so easily available? Next up on TiVo's legal docket is Verizon Communications (NYS: VZ) . A status conference in that infringement lawsuit is scheduled for tomorrow.

That hearing may very well move TiVo's shares more than the earnings report. One more bullet in the chamber of legal ammo would underscore the power of TiVo's technology licensing strategy. While I don't exactly expect the case to be settled this week, that kind of panic reaction to preliminary hearings is not unheard of. The AT&T case, for example, was settled just days before the scheduled jury selection.

With a market-beating 32% climb since Jan. 1, TiVo is off to a good start in the new year. That's impressive, but Foolish analysts have found an even more promising stock for your portfolio. Learn all about The Motley Fool's Top Stock for 2012 in a special report -- free for a limited time.

At the time thisarticle was published Fool contributor Anders Bylund owns shares of TiVo but holds no other position in any of the companies mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinion, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Check out Anders' holdings and bio, or follow him on Twitter and Google+. We have a disclosure policy.

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