Why LeapFrog's Shares Jumped

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of educational toymaker LeapFrog (NYS: LF) were bounding ahead today, gaining as much as 20% in intraday trading after the company announced first-quarter earnings.

So what: A net loss per share of $0.14 may not sound all that good, but it's important to remember that LeapFrog's business is highly seasonal, with most of it coming in the third and fourth quarters (think Christmas). Also, that $0.14 was a very definite improvement on the $0.34 that it lost on a per-share basis this time last year. What does sound legitimately good, though, was the fact that sales rocketed up 81% from last year to $72 million, while the gross margin for the quarter improved an impressive 11.7 percentage points.

Both the top and bottom line also managed to clobber analysts' estimates, which called for a $0.26-per-share loss on just $51 million in revenue.

Now what: Of course while the first quarter was much better than expected, should investors really be getting this fired up about a seasonally less-important quarter? Perhaps. But what may be even more important in the company's release today was the fact that management provided full-year guidance that was also above expectations. For all of 2012, LeapFrog's management sees sales growth of between 10% and 13% and earnings per share of between $0.52 and $0.57. At the respective midpoints, that's better than the 10.3% sales growth and $0.50 in EPS that Wall Street had estimated.

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