Exponent (EXPO) is a real problem solver. It's a scientific and environmental consulting firm with clients in the automotive, energy, health-care, and government fields. Its stock, reflecting the small outfit's success, has bolted from 14 in August to 19.52 on Mar. 26. "It's an unusual company with a franchise in litigation support, which is an attractive growth industry," says David Sowerby, portfolio manager at Loomis Sayles, which owns shares. Exponent is involved in high-profile cases, such as litigation over the "Big Dig" in Boston and Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. Some 65% of revenue comes from litigation support and 25% from design and regulatory work in science and the environment. The rest is from Defense Dept. projects. Sowerby notes revenues grew every year since 1993 and earnings since 1998. Both should speed up again, he says, as Exponent gains new projects. David Gold of investment firm Sidoti rates the stock a buy, with a 12-month target of 26. He sees profits of 93 cents in 2007 and $1.06 in 2008, up from 83 cents in 2006.
Note: Unless otherwise noted, neither the sources cited in Inside Wall Street nor their firms hold positions in the stocks under discussion. Similarly, they have no investment banking or other financial relationships with them.
By Gene G. Marcial
Illustration: Chart: STEADY PROGRESS
CHARTS BY ERIC HOFFMANN/BW