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Daktronics Takes a Dive
By Anders Bylund November 15, 2007
It's been about a year since I called large-format display maker Daktronics (Nasdaq: DAKT) the worst stock to own in 2007. As of today, it looks like I hit close to the mark. Daktronics' stock has lost 48% of its value since that article was penned, thanks largely to yesterday's 30% plunge.

The cause: a weak second-quarter report, damaged by "supply chain issues" at a recently built manufacturing plant. Also, high hopes for one NFL stadium deal fell through. The effect: a high-flying stock touches down on solid ground again.

I'm a shareholder these days, having bought in on an earlier dip. Even so, this was a welcome return to reality. Maybe now, people can buy Daktronics stock again and actually hope for a profit down the line.

It's still a small company that takes large orders from a limited customer base. One scoreboard system in the right stadium can make or break a quarter, and the mildly dampening effect of the lower-cost digital billboard segment can't stop the top and bottom lines from bouncing around like happy rabbits on a caffeine-and-sugar kick. And when the company reports these jumps to investors and analysts, the stock price is sure to take a spastic cue from the results. The jump was positive last November, negative in February, skywards again three months ago, and now this. Take a chill pill!

Daktronics isn't the absolute-worst performer year-to-date. Fellow Fool Rick Munarriz picked a worse example in Vonage (NYSE: VG), which has dropped by about 70%. Or take your pick among the homebuilders: Standard Pacific (NYSE: SPF), for one, took an 85% dive. Warner Music Group (NYSE: WMG) continues to miss the digital train, and it's been spanked to the tune of 64%. And so it goes.

But Daktronics has returned to earth in a big way, as it should. It's still a great business, but now you can get a few shares at a reasonable price. Should you buy in at these 52-week lows? Perhaps. I'll keep the shares I bought over the summer, some 18% ago. These guys can and will do better. Just remember not to hop on after one of those happy hops, skips, and jumps.
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