Lombardi: Stock Market Commentary & Forecasts, Financial & Economic Analysis Since 1986

Equity Market

An equity market refers is an organized secondary financial market where shares of common and preferred stock of corporations are traded. These shares typically trade on a stock exchange, which are now mostly virtual in nature. An equity market is the same as a stock market.

My Top Energy Pick with Market-Defying Momentum

By for Profit Confidential

My Top Energy Stock Pick for This Slow-Growth MarketThe strength in this market is with oil, as both the spot price and oil stocks are holding up very well.

While the broader market has been experiencing a well-deserved price retrenchment, both large- and small-cap oil stocks have been on the comeback trail. The price strength is helpful as speculative fervor continues to come out of equities. The performance illustrates how helpful sectoral portfolio diversification can be when asset prices fall.

ConocoPhillips (COP) is not expensively priced at approximately 9.5 times trailing earnings. The stock sold off significantly at the beginning of the year but has since recovered nicely. Currently yielding just less than four percent, this oil and gas story is similar to the other big integrated energy companies: it isn’t about production growth but more about income for investors.

One company we’ve looked at several times in these pages is Kodiak Oil & Gas Corp. (KOG). This is a Bakken oil play that’s really doing well. This stock was consistently expensive, being a highly liquid favorite of institutional investors, but earnings have caught up to the share price and the story is still intact. This junior energy producer still has a very bright future. The company’s stock chart is featured below:

 Kodiak Oil And Gas Corp ChartChart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com

Energy consistently has a role to play in equity market portfolios, and it doesn’t have to be pure-play production stories. In terms of resource investing, I find it much more attractive over precious metals, particularly for investors looking for some longevity in their holdings.

In an environment that’s likely to remain slow-growing for several years, I like both the income and capital … Read More

Why These Four Rail Picks Are on My Radar

By for Profit Confidential

The One Stock Market Sector That You Need to Have on Your RadarThere’s a boom going on, and it’s old economy. The railroad business is alive and well. And equally as impressive as the freight and earnings results, railroad services and related businesses are benefitting.

Over the near-term, it’s likely there’s going to be further legislation regarding the safety of oil railcars, meaning the retrofit market will be substantial. I think investors should have the entire sector on their radar. Many of these stocks have already done well.

One company we looked at last year in these pages is The Greenbrier Companies, Inc. (GBX), which has plans this year to double its manufacturing capacity of tank cars, which are in high demand. (See “How to Play the Bakken Oil Boom While Oil & Gas Companies Are at Their Highs.”)

The company’s latest earnings results actually missed consensus, as the business wasn’t quite able to keep up with the hype. But this doesn’t mean that the future isn’t bright for this industry. Greenbrier’s one-year stock chart is featured below:

Greenbrier Cos ChartChart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com

One company that only recently experienced new interest from equity market investors is American Railcar Industries, Inc. (ARII). This firm, out of St. Charles, Missouri, sells hopper and tank railcars.

It’s a mature company, but earnings estimates are going up for 2015. The stock is not expensively priced, and its recent breakout from its previous consolidation is very interesting.

Another company that’s waiting for its stock market breakout to occur is FreightCar America, Inc. (RAIL), which has been trading in a range for the last five-and-a-half years.

This year, Wall Street analysts expect a big resurgence in top-line … Read More

Does Risk Trump Returns in This Stock Market Environment?

By for Profit Confidential

Why Risk Now Trumps Stock Market ReturnsGoing by the choppy trading action this year, investment risk with equities is going up.

Recent shocks to the system include events in Ukraine and Crimea, Chinese economic data, and Citigroup Inc.’s (C) failed stress test.

This is a very uneasy stock market, and because the main indices are right around their highs, any shock has the potential to deliver a serious haircut to asset prices. The choppy, trendless action combined with full valuations is the reason why I’ve been advocating taking profits from speculative positions. This stock market is just plain tired out.

First-quarter earnings season is just around the corner, and while it’s looking like we’ll get more of the same from corporations (a meet-or-beat on only one financial metric, revenues or earnings) the stock market needs more than dividends and share buybacks in order for share prices to keep appreciating.

Blue chips, especially, have been coasting along, providing single-digit earnings growth on modest sales. The icing on the cake has been the rising dividends and share repurchases, which the stock market has eaten up over the last two years.

But sentiment is slowly changing regarding share repurchases. Big investors want to see more than these financial tools in the businesses they own. Rising dividends are always great, but you need underlying revenue and earnings growth to sustain the case. And in order to do so, corporations have to make new investments. They’ve been very reticent to date.

Healthy balance sheets are always desirable, but new business investment and innovation is what creates wealth over the long-term. Everything’s been short-term thinking the last few years, and companies … Read More

Stocks the Broader Market Can’t Move Without

By for Profit Confidential

This Company Is a Barometer for the Whole MarketIt’s been a very choppy start to the year for stocks and with no real trend to latch onto, the news of the day is the catalyst for the trading action.

There is still a positive undercurrent in the equity market, and it’s evidenced, in part, by particular strength in a number of key stock indices. (See “If This Indicator Turns, the Stock Market’s in Trouble…”) But it’s also apparent in a number of leading stocks—the positions that led the stock market in its 2013 breakout performance.

One of these stocks that continue to be a standout and outperformer is Union Pacific Corporation (UNP), an old economy railroad stock that is very much a canary in the coalmine for the U.S. economy.

The railroad business has been exceptionally good the last few years. And if coal shipments have diminished, then oil and fracturing sand have made up the difference and then some.

But for regular freight, business conditions have been pretty decent, according to the railroad companies, and this is material news that rises above the noise. Vehicle shipments have been strong, which has helped a lot.

According to Union Pacific, in spite of what management referred to as significantly weaker coal shipments, volume growth and pricing gains in regular freight produced a record fourth-quarter operating ratio (a measure of profitability) of 65%.

The company reported that its fourth-quarter operating revenues grew seven percent to $5.6 billion, up from $5.25 billion in the same quarter of 2012. Management said that volume growth from agriculture, automotive, intermodal shipments, and industrial products more than offset declines in coal and chemicals…. Read More

Should Your Portfolio Strategy Focus on Geopolitical Events?

By for Profit Confidential

Are Geopolitical Events Now the Catalyst for StocksStocks have been choppy since the beginning of the year and geopolitical events are now the near-term catalyst.

It’s a good reminder that it’s worthwhile to review investment risk to equities and what you can tolerate in terms of potential downside with stocks.

As these pages are focused on the equity market, investment risk is always a priority. Portfolio risk can get lost in a bull market, but it’s still a huge part of the equation in terms of overall strategy.

There’s just so much beyond your control as an individual investor. At the end of the day, with stocks, it’s an investment in a business commensurate with a bet that its per-share worth (which is only definitive in the event of a buyout) will be recognized by a marketplace ruled by fear, greed, and emotions.

In late 1999, The Procter & Gamble Company (PG) had an earnings miss and the stock was basically cut in half, as the hype related to technology stocks was coming apart. It took five full years for Procter & Gamble’s share price to recuperate from the sell-off; and while the company was still paying its dividends, that’s a long time for any equity investor.

Stocks always correct themselves eventually, but excessive pricing (like in other asset classes) can last for quite a while. Procter & Gamble’s long-term stock chart is featured below:

PG Procter Gamble Company Chart

Chart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com

In terms of portfolio strategy related to stocks, a multi-faceted investment strategy is key. This means varying holdings among industries, stock market capitalizations, dividend paying stocks, and pure-play bets.

An individual investor certainly doesn’t have to be the … Read More

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My Top Energy Pick with Market-Defying Momentum

By for Profit Confidential

My Top Energy Stock Pick for This Slow-Growth MarketThe strength in this market is with oil, as both the spot price and oil stocks are holding up very well.

While the broader market has been experiencing a well-deserved price retrenchment, both large- and small-cap oil stocks have been on the comeback trail. The price strength is helpful as speculative fervor continues to come out of equities. The performance illustrates how helpful sectoral portfolio diversification can be when asset prices fall.

ConocoPhillips (COP) is not expensively priced at approximately 9.5 times trailing earnings. The stock sold off significantly at the beginning of the year but has since recovered nicely. Currently yielding just less than four percent, this oil and gas story is similar to the other big integrated energy companies: it isn’t about production growth but more about income for investors.

One company we’ve looked at several times in these pages is Kodiak Oil & Gas Corp. (KOG). This is a Bakken oil play that’s really doing well. This stock was consistently expensive, being a highly liquid favorite of institutional investors, but earnings have caught up to the share price and the story is still intact. This junior energy producer still has a very bright future. The company’s stock chart is featured below:

 Kodiak Oil And Gas Corp ChartChart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com

Energy consistently has a role to play in equity market portfolios, and it doesn’t have to be pure-play production stories. In terms of resource investing, I find it much more attractive over precious metals, particularly for investors looking for some longevity in their holdings.

In an environment that’s likely to remain slow-growing for several years, I like both the income and capital … Read More

Why These Four Rail Picks Are on My Radar

By for Profit Confidential

The One Stock Market Sector That You Need to Have on Your RadarThere’s a boom going on, and it’s old economy. The railroad business is alive and well. And equally as impressive as the freight and earnings results, railroad services and related businesses are benefitting.

Over the near-term, it’s likely there’s going to be further legislation regarding the safety of oil railcars, meaning the retrofit market will be substantial. I think investors should have the entire sector on their radar. Many of these stocks have already done well.

One company we looked at last year in these pages is The Greenbrier Companies, Inc. (GBX), which has plans this year to double its manufacturing capacity of tank cars, which are in high demand. (See “How to Play the Bakken Oil Boom While Oil & Gas Companies Are at Their Highs.”)

The company’s latest earnings results actually missed consensus, as the business wasn’t quite able to keep up with the hype. But this doesn’t mean that the future isn’t bright for this industry. Greenbrier’s one-year stock chart is featured below:

Greenbrier Cos ChartChart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com

One company that only recently experienced new interest from equity market investors is American Railcar Industries, Inc. (ARII). This firm, out of St. Charles, Missouri, sells hopper and tank railcars.

It’s a mature company, but earnings estimates are going up for 2015. The stock is not expensively priced, and its recent breakout from its previous consolidation is very interesting.

Another company that’s waiting for its stock market breakout to occur is FreightCar America, Inc. (RAIL), which has been trading in a range for the last five-and-a-half years.

This year, Wall Street analysts expect a big resurgence in top-line … Read More

Does Risk Trump Returns in This Stock Market Environment?

By for Profit Confidential

Why Risk Now Trumps Stock Market ReturnsGoing by the choppy trading action this year, investment risk with equities is going up.

Recent shocks to the system include events in Ukraine and Crimea, Chinese economic data, and Citigroup Inc.’s (C) failed stress test.

This is a very uneasy stock market, and because the main indices are right around their highs, any shock has the potential to deliver a serious haircut to asset prices. The choppy, trendless action combined with full valuations is the reason why I’ve been advocating taking profits from speculative positions. This stock market is just plain tired out.

First-quarter earnings season is just around the corner, and while it’s looking like we’ll get more of the same from corporations (a meet-or-beat on only one financial metric, revenues or earnings) the stock market needs more than dividends and share buybacks in order for share prices to keep appreciating.

Blue chips, especially, have been coasting along, providing single-digit earnings growth on modest sales. The icing on the cake has been the rising dividends and share repurchases, which the stock market has eaten up over the last two years.

But sentiment is slowly changing regarding share repurchases. Big investors want to see more than these financial tools in the businesses they own. Rising dividends are always great, but you need underlying revenue and earnings growth to sustain the case. And in order to do so, corporations have to make new investments. They’ve been very reticent to date.

Healthy balance sheets are always desirable, but new business investment and innovation is what creates wealth over the long-term. Everything’s been short-term thinking the last few years, and companies … Read More

Stocks the Broader Market Can’t Move Without

By for Profit Confidential

This Company Is a Barometer for the Whole MarketIt’s been a very choppy start to the year for stocks and with no real trend to latch onto, the news of the day is the catalyst for the trading action.

There is still a positive undercurrent in the equity market, and it’s evidenced, in part, by particular strength in a number of key stock indices. (See “If This Indicator Turns, the Stock Market’s in Trouble…”) But it’s also apparent in a number of leading stocks—the positions that led the stock market in its 2013 breakout performance.

One of these stocks that continue to be a standout and outperformer is Union Pacific Corporation (UNP), an old economy railroad stock that is very much a canary in the coalmine for the U.S. economy.

The railroad business has been exceptionally good the last few years. And if coal shipments have diminished, then oil and fracturing sand have made up the difference and then some.

But for regular freight, business conditions have been pretty decent, according to the railroad companies, and this is material news that rises above the noise. Vehicle shipments have been strong, which has helped a lot.

According to Union Pacific, in spite of what management referred to as significantly weaker coal shipments, volume growth and pricing gains in regular freight produced a record fourth-quarter operating ratio (a measure of profitability) of 65%.

The company reported that its fourth-quarter operating revenues grew seven percent to $5.6 billion, up from $5.25 billion in the same quarter of 2012. Management said that volume growth from agriculture, automotive, intermodal shipments, and industrial products more than offset declines in coal and chemicals…. Read More

Should Your Portfolio Strategy Focus on Geopolitical Events?

By for Profit Confidential

Are Geopolitical Events Now the Catalyst for StocksStocks have been choppy since the beginning of the year and geopolitical events are now the near-term catalyst.

It’s a good reminder that it’s worthwhile to review investment risk to equities and what you can tolerate in terms of potential downside with stocks.

As these pages are focused on the equity market, investment risk is always a priority. Portfolio risk can get lost in a bull market, but it’s still a huge part of the equation in terms of overall strategy.

There’s just so much beyond your control as an individual investor. At the end of the day, with stocks, it’s an investment in a business commensurate with a bet that its per-share worth (which is only definitive in the event of a buyout) will be recognized by a marketplace ruled by fear, greed, and emotions.

In late 1999, The Procter & Gamble Company (PG) had an earnings miss and the stock was basically cut in half, as the hype related to technology stocks was coming apart. It took five full years for Procter & Gamble’s share price to recuperate from the sell-off; and while the company was still paying its dividends, that’s a long time for any equity investor.

Stocks always correct themselves eventually, but excessive pricing (like in other asset classes) can last for quite a while. Procter & Gamble’s long-term stock chart is featured below:

PG Procter Gamble Company Chart

Chart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com

In terms of portfolio strategy related to stocks, a multi-faceted investment strategy is key. This means varying holdings among industries, stock market capitalizations, dividend paying stocks, and pure-play bets.

An individual investor certainly doesn’t have to be the … Read More

How to Profit from Institutional Investors’ Unwavering Love of These Stocks

By for Profit Confidential

One Sector Institutional Investors Love and You Should Know Everything About“Outback Steakhouse,” “Carrabba’s Italian Grill,” “Bonefish Grill,” “Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar,” and “Roy’s” are all owned by Bloomin’ Brands, Inc. (BLMN). With 1,500 restaurants in the U.S. and 21 other countries, business for the company is solid.

Fourth-quarter sales grew 5.1% to $1.1 billion due to new restaurant openings and an increase in comparable restaurant sales. The company opened 15 new locations during the quarter and completed 36 restaurant renovations. This resulted in bottom-line earnings of $59.0 million, or $0.46 per share (with a one-time gain), or $34.2 million, or $0.27 per share, on an adjusted basis for a 35% gain over adjusted earnings in the same quarter of the previous year.

The company’s shares rose 12% on the earnings report.

If there’s one restaurant stock that continues to amaze with its share price performance, it’s Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. (CMG). This stock has more than doubled over the last 16 months and, while expensively priced, is still a powerhouse of growth.

The company’s earnings estimates have continued to increase since I last wrote about the stock in October. (See “Two Old Restaurant Stocks Offer Investors Growth.”) Fourth-quarter 2013 revenues grew 21% to $844 million, which is a huge accomplishment, all things considered.

Fourth-quarter earnings grew 30% to $80.0 million. The cost of food is the company’s single largest expenditure at 34% of total sales, followed by labor at 23%. Fourth-quarter comparable restaurant sales grew 9.3% and there were 56 new locations for a total of 1,595.

Anything double-digit is a big deal in today’s world, and you can find it in the right restaurant stocks. … Read More

Are Good Businesses Always Good Investments?

By for Profit Confidential

Two Good Businesses Coming Back in TrendGood businesses have a tendency to remain that way, and when they experience a material price retrenchment on the equity market, it’s often worth a look.

Chart Industries, Inc. (GTLS) is a company we’ve looked at before in these pages. This enterprise operates as part of the energy infrastructure build-out that’s such a strong investment theme.

The company, out of Garfield Heights, Ohio, is a specialized metal fabricator that manufactures storage solutions for liquefied natural gas (LNG), petrochemical and natural gas processing, gases for medical use, and related storage equipment. Quite a bit of the company’s specialized containers are sold to PetroChina Company Limited (PTR).

Chart Industries reports its fourth-quarter financial results next week. In its third quarter, sales grew 19% to $301.8 million. Earnings increased to $24.4 million, or $0.74 per diluted share, up from $18.5 million, or $0.61 per diluted share, in the same quarter of 2012. The company’s backlog grew 12% to a record $743 million.

In the company’s third-quarter financial report, management slightly reduced their expectations for revenues and earnings going forward due to changes in customer schedules and higher-than-anticipated costs. But the company still has a solid outlook for 2014, and this is very much a growth story, as order activity for LNG equipment is strong.

The company’s stock chart is featured below:

Chart Industries Inc. Chart

Chart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com

Another stock that’s following a similar trading pattern is A. O. Smith Corporation (AOS), which is a water heater business that sells its product all over the world. (See “The One Place New Money Can Go to in This Stock Market Right Now.”)

For a mature, … Read More

How to Build a Portfolio to Reduce Risk, Not Returns

By for Profit Confidential

How to Invest with Conviction While Minimizing RiskPutting together an equity market portfolio always requires conviction. In this market, stocks have not come off their highs very much at all. The main indices have been bouncing around quite a bit, but there is still a positive disposition to stocks with fourth-quarter earnings mostly coming in close to consensus.

Leadership in this market is still with the financials, the Dow Jones Transportation Average, and the NASDAQ Composite. These three metrics are good indicators as to where the broader market is headed.

In terms of portfolio construction, I’m a big believer in owning the market commensurate with owning a handful of positions with conviction—three to five benchmark stocks that can be accumulated when prices are down. These are the kind of stocks that a long-term investor can build wealth in over time using the short-term fluctuations in share prices for long-term advantage.

Wealth creation often does come from owning larger positions in a handful of stocks. Warren Buffett has consistently been this type of investor, taking on big positions after rigorous research.

But when it comes to stocks, there are always times when you are going to be wrong about the strength of a business and/or the marketplace’s capacity to recognize it. You still have to be nimble, willing to move on from non-performance and to remember that buying and selling stocks are business decisions.

Investing with conviction is something that can more easily be done with larger-cap companies or blue chips. Dividend reinvestment is a very good way to compound your investment return over time. There is always room for more aggressive bets, but accumulating positions in benchmark … Read More

Pullback in Stock Prices Makes These Dividend Payers Attractive Again

By for Profit Confidential

Blue Chip Stocks Getting into the Buy ZoneWith the turmoil in global capital markets, the sell-off in stocks is serving as the consolidation/correction that we did not experience in 2013, which was an exceptionally strong year.

But stepping back from historical share price action, we have continued certainty regarding the Fed funds rate this year. The low interest rate environment remains a very positive catalyst for the equity market and the medium-term trend.

Stocks may very well have a difficult year in 2014, but that doesn’t mean that current fundamentals aren’t laying the groundwork for more capital gains over the next several.

The marketplace fully expects continued tapering of quantitative easing to occur over the coming quarters. There’s likely to be continued pressure on longer-term interest rates, but this is a market-driven precursor to economic activity; it’s perfectly normal and is a positive, market-driven reflection of financial market sentiment.

With this backdrop and so many large-cap companies boasting very good balance sheets, strong cash positions, and the expectation that cash flows will contribute to increasing dividends, a good buying opportunity for new positions may soon present itself.

Dividend paying stocks like 3M Company (MMM) are becoming increasingly attractive as their share prices retreat. The company missed Wall Street consensus just slightly in its most recent quarter, but growth expectations are still decent for such a large conglomerate, and the company’s valuation is not unreasonable. (See “The Stocks to Own Right Now…”)

According to 3M, its fourth-quarter earnings per share increased a solid 15% to $1.62. Sales growth was in the single digits, as expected, at 2.4% to $7.6 billion. Currencies impacted sales negatively by 1.7%…. Read More

The Greatest Risk in Today’s Financial System

By for Profit Confidential

How a Portfolio Approach to Stocks Reduces RiskIf you have a serious commitment to the equity market, you know that it’s very easy to lose money with stocks. Even when market action is good, one wrong number or any small aberration has the potential to change investor sentiment on a dime. Today’s hottest stocks are easily tomorrow’s biggest losers; today’s financial engineering could lead to tomorrow’s market crash after a derivatives trade–gone-bad.

This is why it really is worthwhile to spend time thinking about investment risk and how a portfolio of stocks is vulnerable to the downside.

I firmly believe that capital preservation is just as important as the expectation of generating a return on investment from stocks at a rate that is greater than inflation. In today’s world, with artificially low interest rates and poor rates of return from bonds and cash, stocks are a huge asset class with tremendously higher risks.

Because of this, approaching equities from a portfolio perspective and building core positions in stable, dividend-paying businesses is a strategy that complements the more speculative approach of trying to achieve short-term capital gains.

Equity investors are well served by trying to “do it all” in the sense of having core positions in stocks that can be accumulated over time, along with a certain percentage allocated for risk-capital trades. (See “Two Steps to a Solid and Profitable Portfolio.”)

And for those less comfortable with the idea of selecting and managing a portfolio of individual stocks, there’s no reason why you can’t integrate active investing with passive investing. Index funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) are still great instruments in which to have exposure to … Read More

Two Steps to a Solid and Profitable Portfolio

By for Profit Confidential

Solid and Profitable PortfolioWhen it comes specifically to dealing with stocks, creating a portfolio does not need to be complicated.

Depending on your goals, any equity market portfolio is well served by a handful of anchor positions. These are stocks representing underlying businesses with long track records of wealth creation. Preferably, they pay dividends, and those dividends can be reinvested into new shares if the income is not required.

All stocks are volatile and inherently risky securities (The Procter & Gamble Company [PG] had an earnings miss in 2000 and took six full years to recover).

While buying and selling stocks are business decisions, the stock market is an emotionally driven secondary market of corporate ownership. Within it, however, investment risk can be managed through diversification and the quality of the underlying businesses themselves.

Choosing five core anchor positions is a good way to start. I’m a huge believer in dividend income; and if that income isn’t required, dividend reinvestment compounds your returns and is a solid path to genuine wealth creation from the equity market.

The following are five examples of stocks that may be considered as core positions.

1. Johnson & Johnson (JNJ): With more than 50 years of consecutive dividend increases, Johnson & Johnson is a dividend-paying blue chip with three main business lines, including consumer products, pharmaceuticals, and medical devices. The company typically announces a quarterly dividend increase in the second quarter of the year.

2. Colgate-Palmolive Company (CL): A well-known producer of toothpaste, soap, deodorant, and dog food, Colgate-Palmolive is a consistent grower of diluted earnings per share and dividends, and a consumer products favorite.

4. 3M … Read More

Top Long-Term Wealth Creator Right Now

By for Profit Confidential

How to Create Wealth in This Stock MarketStocks are selling off after companies report their fourth-quarter earnings and that’s a positive development. It’s time for earnings and expectations to catch up to share prices. We could very well get trendless, choppy trading action for a number of months.

While corporations are not beating Wall Street estimates with conviction, the numbers are not that bad and balance sheets remain strong.

In terms of equity market dynamics, speculative fervor is diminishing, especially with initial public offerings (IPOs). It all seems to be a function of a marketplace that’s a little tired and wants to just digest data instead of betting on the future. If investor sentiment is currently subdued, it’s all perfectly normal after seeing such strong capital appreciation last year.

There are lots of good numbers out there. Biogen Idec Inc. (BIIB) just ploughed through $300.00 a share after consolidation of around $225.00. (See “A Must-Read for Long-Term Equity Investors.”) This biotechnology company’s fourth-quarter sales grew 39% to $2.0 billion, earnings grew 57% to $457 million, and management guided 2014 total sales higher than consensus.

Also in the biotechnology space, Amgen Inc.’s (AMGN) fourth-quarter sales grew 13% to just over $5.0 billion. The company’s adjusted earnings per share grew 30% to $1.82, while GAAP (generally accepted accounting principles) earnings per share grew to $1.33 from $1.01. Amgen also boosted its quarterly dividend by 30%.

Even The Dow Chemical Company (DOW) reported a solid fourth quarter that handily beat Wall Street consensus. Total quarterly sales grew three percent to $14.4 billion on a two-percent gain in volume and a one-percent gain in prices. Adjusted earnings per share … Read More

Why Investors Should Pay Attention to This Diverse Stock

By for Profit Confidential

Business Booming for These Stocks Right NowWith little wind at its back from last year’s exceptional performance, this market is a stock-picker’s market, and one that continues to favor existing winners.

For an existing portfolio of large-cap, dividend-paying blue chips, I don’t see a lot of new action to take right now. The most valuable information for investors is what corporations actually say about their businesses. The outlook for dividends and share repurchases is solid.

Companies like Apple Inc. (AAPL) and Google Inc. (GOOG) get all the headlines, but it’s still very material what a company like E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company (DD) says about business conditions around the world. Even if you wouldn’t consider DuPont as an investment, the business operates in a number of important industries, so what the company’s management reports could help to inform your market view.

Last year, the company said its total sales grew three percent to $35.7 billion. Five-percent growth in volume was offset by a one-percent decline in local selling prices and the one-percent negative impact of a stronger U.S. dollar.

The standout for DuPont was, once again, the company’s agricultural division, which saw a 13% gain in sales for the year to $11.74 billion. Agriculture also contributed the most to the company’s operating earnings, improving by 16% over 2012 to $2.48 billion.

This year, DuPont expects operating earnings of $4.20–$4.45 per share. This translates to an 8%–15% gain over 2013, which is pretty solid. The company expects 2014 total sales to grow four percent to approximately $37.0 billion, which is after an estimated two-percent decline from divestitures.

Management expects global industrial production to keep … Read More

“Fast Casual” the New Buzzword Among Risk-Capital Speculators

By for Profit Confidential

Why This Restaurant IPO Stands Out from the PackThe great thing about noodles is that they’re cheap—and this is also what makes a restaurant chain selling noodles a very good investment opportunity.

Restaurant stocks should always be on any speculative investor’s radar. Consumers’ tastes change, disposable incomes change, and so on…but there is always fervor to eat out, especially at the right price point.

The latest buzzword in the world of chain restaurants is “fast casual,” a combination between a fast food quick-service outlet and a sit-down casual restaurant. There’s going to be more and more of these types of chains coming to the market, and there have already been some hot (and expensive) initial public offerings (IPOs) in this sector recently.

Among several fast casual restaurant stocks that recently listed, Noodles & Company (NDLS) out of Broomfield, Colorado just opened another 12 locations in its 2013 fourth quarter, bringing its total corporate-owned locations to 318, with 62 additional franchised restaurants.

Typically, developing restaurant stocks that can offer the most capital appreciation potential on the stock market are those with a large number of corporate-owned locations. This enables management to keep full control over operations, while improving the concept as business conditions and geographic locations dictate.

Noodles & Company came to market selling 5,357,143 shares at $18.00 a share with an overallotment of 803,571 shares. Illustrating the speculative fervor for restaurant stocks at the time, the company’s shares opened around $36.00, and then proceeded to appreciate to $47.00 a share before consolidating for the rest of 2013.

Recently, the company announced preliminary fourth-quarter results that came in just shy of the Street’s estimates.

Fourth-quarter 2013 sales are expected … Read More

Top Market Sectors for 2014

By for Profit Confidential

Transports in 2013 Financials in 2014We won’t really get into the heart of the fourth-quarter 2013 earnings season until late January into early February. Smaller companies typically take longer to report, as they don’t have the large accounting departments that blue chips have.

I’ve noticed that quite a number of Wall Street research analysts have been boosting their 2014 full-year earnings expectations. They’re playing the same old game of cat and mouse with corporations and research analysts. Corporations always want to “outperform” if they can, so they deliberately keep their outlooks pretty conservative.

Companies getting a boost to their full-year earnings outlooks include: Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (WMT), Microsoft Corporation (MSFT), Colgate-Palmolive Company (CL), Oracle Corporation (ORCL), E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company (DD), Exxon Mobil Corporation (XOM), and Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ). Even Intel Corporation (INTC) is having its earnings outlook nudged higher by the Street for several upcoming quarters, including all of 2014.

According to FactSet, eight out of 10 S&P 500 market sectors are expected to report an increase in fourth-quarter earnings; these sectors are led by a strong expected gain in financials, followed by the telecom and industrial sectors. Energy is expected to produce a decline, comparatively.

While revenue growth from financials should be lackluster to negative on a comparative basis, a strong expected gain in earnings will be market-boosting news. Countless financials have been doing very well on the stock market since last November.

Over several of the last quarters, companies reported they were able to increase their selling prices without materially affecting demand. Sales growth has been a combination of increased volumes and rising prices.

Extreme monetary expansion … Read More

The Great Crash of 2014

A stock market crash bigger than what happened in 2008 and early 2009 is headed our way.

In fact, we are predicting this crash will be even more devastating than the 1929 crash…

…the ramifications of which will hit the economy and Americans deeper than anything we’ve ever seen.

Our 27-year-old research firm feels so strongly about this, we’ve just produced a video to warn investors called, “The Great Crash of 2014.”

In case you are not familiar with our research work on the stock market:

In late 2001, in the aftermath of 9/11, we told our clients to buy small-cap stocks. They rose about 100% after we made that call.

We were one of the first major advisors to turn bullish on gold.

Throughout 2002, we urged our readers to buy gold stocks; many of which doubled and even tripled in price.

In November of 2007, we started begging our customers to get out of the stock market. Shortly afterwards, it was widely recognized that October 2007 was the top for stocks.

We correctly predicted the crash in the stock market of 2008 and early 2009.

And in March of 2009, we started telling our readers to jump into small caps. The Russell 2000 gained about 175% from when we made that call in 2009 to today.

Many investors will find our next prediction hard to believe until they see all the proof we have to back it up.

Even if you don’t own stocks, what’s about to happen will affect you!

I urge you to be among the first to get our next major prediction.
See it here now in this just-released alarming video.

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