Stock Picking in This Market:
What it’s All About

Without a catalyst for investors to be big buyers of equities, the marketplace is left to trade on prevailing economic data or specific corporate events. That’s the thing with equities: you can’t make the returns happen; you can only roll with what the marketplace is offering at any given time.If there ever was a market for owning special situation stocks, now is certainly the time for it. There isn’t a lot of tailwind to be had and this is not a surprise considering how far share prices have come over the last 10 months. But even for those companies that are experiencing solid growth in this economy, it isn’t runaway growth, because the economy isn’t strong enough to produce it.

There are still quite a few small-cap stocks and micro-cap stocks reporting at this time and, like the economy, some are doing well and some are doing just mediocre. It’s actually difficult in this market to find companies that are really outperforming. Some of the most robust growth in revenue and earnings has been from mining companies, but these stocks still trade on the movements in the spot prices of the underlying commodities. The same goes for oil producers. Despite robust earnings due to higher oil prices, the stocks go down when the price of oil falls. In this kind of equity environment, the special situation stock is everything.

It pays as an investor to think about what industries or businesses seem to be doing better than others. And you have to be flexible and willing to change with the times if you want to catch an industry in a growth phase.

For example, consider MediaMind Technologies Inc. (NASDAQ/MDMD), a micro-cap company that provides media, creative agencies, advertisers, and publishers with the technology to manage marketing campaigns across digital media channels. Based in New York, this technology company has customers all over the world, but it hasn’t reinvented the wheel. All it is doing is packaging technology in a manner that customers can work with. Media and the publishing industry know they need to use technology (you’re reading this aren’t you?) to connect with customers, but they aren’t necessarily good at executing the technology that’s required.

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This specific business just reported 2011 first-quarter revenue growth of about 18% to $18.9 million. It’s not runaway growth, but it’s still respectable. Earnings grew to $0.6 million in the latest quarter, up from breakeven comparatively, but the big news with MediaMind was its forecast for the second quarter. The company expects its upcoming quarter to produce revenues of between $25.0 million and $26.0 million with net income coming in between $1.6 million and $2.2 million, or $0.07 to $0.10 per diluted share, respectively. Again, this is not the most robust growth in the world, but the numbers were enough to get investors motivated to buy the stock. It’s now trading right around a record high.

A story like this is just the kind of moneymaking trade that can be had in a market that doesn’t have a lot of conviction. Without a catalyst for investors to be big buyers of equities, the marketplace is left to trade on prevailing economic data or specific corporate events (like in the MDMD example). That’s the thing with equities: you can’t make the returns happen; you can only roll with what the marketplace is offering at any given time.