School Specialty's (SCHS) second quarter fiscal 2013 adjusted earnings of $0.82 a share beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 28% and the prior-year quarter earnings by 60.8%, driven by overall margin improvement and the company's cost control strategy. Though down year over year, total revenue also surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate.
Although School Specialty lowered its revenue expectations for fiscal 2013 due to a challenging market environment, we believe that the company's diversified product and geographic mix, strategic and cost-control initiatives, combined with its product innovation efforts place it well for long-term growth once the school spending trends return to more normal levels.
Moreover, the industry has been witnessing a slow recovery in State and local property tax receipts over the last few months, which should improve the company's demand scenario ahead. We therefore upgrade our recommendation from Neutral to Outperform.