Friday, August 31, 2012

Investopedia: The Week In Healthcare

The last week of August proved to be a relatively significant one for multiple med-tech companies. Although the Labor Day holiday is likely to keep a lid on the news flow in the first week of September, there are a few upcoming earnings reports. What's more, the timing of restructurings, acquisitions and the like are inherently unpredictable and I would not be surprised to hear more news along these lines.

Helicos Looks Like It's Out of Moves
Few readers are going to be familiar with Helicos BioSciences (OTC:HLCS), as this tiny life sciences company has failed to successfully commercialize its direct DNA and RNA molecule sequencing technology. Although the technology is legitimately interesting, the company's execution mistakes left it with basically a long-shot survival strategy - suing other, larger, life science companies like Pacific Biosciences (Nasdaq:PACB), Life Technologies (Nasdaq:LIFE) and Illumina (Nasdaq:ILMN) for patent infringement.

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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Investopedia: Will A Change At The Top Shift Sauer-Danfoss's Trajectory

It has been a few months since I last wrote on small industrial company Sauer-Danfoss (SHS), and the interim has not been especially kind to the company. With large exposures to China and Europe, but without the same breadth of products and depth of customer relationships, Sauer-Danfoss has seen a much larger setback in revenue and profits than larger rivals like Eaton (ETN) and Parker Hannifin (PH) and OEMs like Caterpillar (CAT) or Deere (DE).

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Will A Change At The Top Shift Sauer-Danfoss's Trajectory?

Investopedia: Vivendi Needs Cooperation To Turn Around

There's only so much that any company can do on its own, particularly when a major part of its restructuring plans revolve around selling assets at fair prices. But that is the situation facing Vivendi (OTC:VIVEF) today; while there is indeed ample capacity for the company to improve internal operations and returns, it seems like a lot of value realization rests on finding buyers for various parts of the business. Although Vivendi does appear to be worth meaningfully more than today's market value, investors should underestimate the time and work it may take for that value to come to fruition.

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Investopedia: Heinz Doing OK, But Can It Squeeze Out Better Profits?

I really try not to fall into the Wall Street trap of always looking for something to complain about when looking at companies. To that end, I think Heinz (NYSE:HNZ) ought to get its due for its strong emerging markets position, its valuable market-leading brands and its ability to maintain respectable volumes in North America. Nevertheless, while Heinz is a solid enough long-term dividend play, I do believe that the company has to wring more profits from its sales for the stock to be worth substantially more than today's level.

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Investopedia: Investor Unrest Leads The WellPoint CEO To Resign

Investors who had been sharply criticizing WellPoint (NYSE:WLP) CEO Angela Braly got their wish on Tuesday afternoon, as Braly resigned both her position as CEO (which she had held since mid-2010) and chair of the board of directors (which she had held since early 2010). With WellPoint taking on both the challenges of the upcoming health insurance reforms and the acquisition/integration of Amerigroup (NYSE:AGP), it will be critical for the board to identify and hire a strong operator that can restore investor confidence in this floundering health insurance giant.

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Investopedia: Air Transport Services - A Riskier Play On A Cargo Recovery

Investors know that transport stocks can be a good way to play fundamental macroeconomic trends; North American railroads like Union Pacific (NYSE:UNP), for instance, have done quite well since the United States economy started to pull out of the recession. Likewise, the recent malaise in the global economy (particularly Europe and China) has done no great favors for international cargo carriers like UPS (NYSE:UPS) and FedEx (NYSE:FDX).

Air cargo has definitely stagnated of late. While conditions haven't seen the crisis levels that some seaborne shippers have seen, companies like Hong Kong Airlines and Cathay Pacific have seen significant declines in cargo volumes and have been cutting back on capacity. This is bad news for air cargo players like Atlas Air (Nasdaq:AAWW) and Air Transport Services Group (Nasdaq:ATSG) as well, but the question remains whether this market will rebound later this year. While I recently highlighted Atlas Air as a worthwhile stock to consider as a late 2012 rebound play, more aggressive investors may also want to consider Air Transport Services.

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Investopedia: Seadrill Has What Big Oil Badly Needs

For investors who want to go full throttle into offshore energy exploration, Seadrill (NYSE:SDRL) is hard to beat. This company has quite a lot of debt and sizable spending commitments to shipyards (for new rigs), as well as a fairly complicated corporate structure. But Seadrill also has one of the best, newest fleets on the water and commitments from major oil and gas companies that should lock in favorable profits for years to come.

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Investopedia: Can Brown Shoe Move From Repair To Growth?

It has been about a year since I last wrote on Brown Shoe (NYSE:BWS) and what a year it has been. While I had previously been skeptical of the board's selection of Diane Sullivan as CEO, the hyperbole around a share buyback, and the company's general strategic direction, I did hold out the hope that the company was washing out its bad news and was ready to get back to a real recovery. Since then, though, the stock has nearly doubled and it may fairly be asked if the company can still really be called a turnaround story.

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Investopedia: Should Investors Pay Full Price For PVH?

Despite a steady drumbeat of doom and gloom (it's an election year after all), investors haven't needed much coaxing to buy up retail and apparel stocks this year. PVH (NYSE:PVH) has a lot going for it, including two well-known brands that seem capable of defying gravity in Europe, but the stock's performance has already more than doubled that of the S&P 500 over the trailing year. While the company does seem to have operating momentum on its side, valuation already presumes a lot of things go right for this company.

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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Seeking Alpha: Joy Global Tied To The Fate Of Coal

Many words have already been written about the global slowdown in heavy equipment demand, and the consequences that has brought for well-known industrial names like Caterpillar (CAT), Deere (DE), Komatsu (KMTUY.PK), and Cummins (CMI). For Joy Global (JOY), though, it's not just about a global slowdown in machinery orders, nor even a slowdown in mining equipment. Rather, the key question for Joy Global and investors over the next six to 18 months is whether 2012's dramatic slowdown in coal is a new normal or just another trough in a cyclical up-and-down story.

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Joy Global Tied To The Fate Of Coal

Seeking Alpha: Are Investors Giving Lilly Too Much Credit?

Good or bad, it hasn't been boring to be a Lilly (LLY) shareholder lately. Sell-side analysts continue to bat this name around, as quite a bit of the stock's value is tied to a pipeline that isn't expected to really start delivering for at least five years -- and many skeptics believe Lilly's demonstrated problems with R&D and pipeline development ought to merit a discount. But then there's the good news to consider as well -- a sooner-than-expected payoff tied to Bristol-Myers' (BMY) acquisition of Amylin and clinical data on an Alzheimer's drug that gives the bulls at least some hope.

The question I have, then, is whether this is a Big Pharma stock that really deserves to be trading near its 52-week high.

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Are Investors Giving Lilly Too Much Credit?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Investopedia: Chinese Companies Are Leaving U.S. Markets

It looks like the Chinese invasion is over. A few years ago, anything China was white-hot as investors and journalists endlessly pushed variations on the "China is the superpower of the 21st century, so you must get in today" theme. But as seems to always be the case, what starts with gold ends with dross and the China bubble has petered out as investors have been forced to consider issues like fraud, disclosure and the fact that China's economy isn't actually Shangri-La.

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Investopedia: Can Whiting Deliver More Green?

While momentum investors may not want to deal with supposedly "broken" growth stories, I think investors more interested in value and financial performance can still find a lot to like in Bakken name like Whiting Petroleum (NYSE:WLL). The frenzy over these companies is largely over, but as is often the case the market has over-corrected and these shares look interesting even considering some of the bearish scenarios

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Seeking Alpha: Can AES Get Out Of Its Parents' Basement?

When I last wrote on international utility operator AES (AES), a Seeking Alpha reader commented that the company reminded him of a person who consistently tests at a genius level IQ, but never actually amounts to anything in life. As a long-term holder of AES, that comment cuts a little close to home, as there always seems to be to some external excuse for what in retrospect has become a tradition of under-performance. Although there is still potential for this company to do better, you can go broke betting on potential in lieu of performance.

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Can AES Get Out Of Its Parents' Basement?

Seeking Alpha: The Waiting May Be The Hard Part For Rigel Pharmaceuticals

More than once, I've made the point that one of the hardest parts of biotech investing is the interminable waiting periods between clinical data. In the absence of anything real to go on, stocks can get batted around by data from rivals, bullish or bearish sell-side reports, and bullish/bearish commentaries from writers like myself. While there is nothing new in hand to help determine if Rigel Pharmaceuticals' (RIGL) lead drug R788 will prove to be safe, effective, approvable, and commercially viable in the oral rheumatoid arthritis (RA) market, we are about six months closer to knowing and this stock remains an appealing speculation.

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The Waiting May Be The Hard Part For Rigel Pharmaceuticals

Monday, August 27, 2012

Investopedia: The Week Ahead In Healthcare

Whether you want to call it the pause that refreshes or the calm before the storm, investors should not expect as much news from the med-tech industry over the next few weeks. That said, business continues and investors still have data and information to process.

Lilly - Somewhere Between a Home Run and a Bunt 
Lilly (NYSE:LLY) reported last week that its Alzheimer's drug candidate solanezumab showed decidedly mixed performance in pivotal studies of mild-to-moderate patients. Like bapineuzumab, the drug that Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) and Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) were attempting to develop for Alzheimer's, solanezumab failed to meet its primary endpoints. Unlike bapi, though, this drug seemed to slow the pace of decline in patients with mild cases.

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Investopedia: IBM Follows SAP And Oracle Deeper Into The Cloud

There's a cottage industry in connecting the dots of prior mergers and acquisitions (M&A) transactions and figuring out who might be next. When SAP (NYSE:SAP) paid $3.5 billion for SuccessFactors and Oracle (Nasdaq:ORCL) paid $1.9 billion for Taleo, it didn't take a leap of inspiration to connect the dots and posit that Kenexa (NYSE:KNXA) could be next to go or that IBM (NYSE:IBM) was the likeliest buyer on the board. With Kenexa's stock showing a lot of strength recently, Monday's announcement that IBM will acquire the company in a $1.3 billion all-cash deal is not really the most surprising announcement of recent weeks.

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Investopedia: Autodesk's Growth Problems Go Front And Center

When I last wrote about Autodesk (Nasdaq:ADSK), I cited the company's lack of top-line growth (and the macroeconomic sensitivity of that growth) as key impediments to the stock living up to its apparent value. Based on this quarter and management's guidance, those growth concerns are biting even harder right now. Although management deserves praise for the extent to which it maintained margins, margin preservation and cash flow just aren't going to make much headway against the negative sentiment around revenue growth.

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Investopedia: Intuit Still Looks Underrated

Even if the long-term plan is sound, confusing the Street can carry real near-term costs. Consequently, I wonder if Intuit's (Nasdaq:INTU) decision to shuffle some of its operations has cost it some valuation. Then again, the stock has been pretty strong this year and is less than 10% of its 52-week high, even though its core small/medium-sized business (SMB) market is not exactly back in full health. Whatever the case may be, I think there is still a valid long-term thesis for buying or holding Intuit shares, and I think the stock looks undervalued relative to its quality.

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Sunday, August 26, 2012

Investopedia: Is Aruba Back In A Growth Groove?

Although Aruba Networks' (Nasdaq:ARUN) fiscal third quarter report in May was disappointing (particularly from a guidance standpoint), I liked the stock on a GARP basis. Oddly enough, while this summer has not been a good one for tech companies, the stock has been quite strong over the past three months. While I continue to like the company, I do wonder if Aruba needs to start showing a little more competitive share growth for the stock to continue working well into the future.

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Investopedia: Can Defy Gravity Forever?

Arguing about the valuation and underlying fundamental quality of hot growth stocks is a lot like fighting the tides. While the market has shown time and time again that cash flow and valuation are ultimately all that matter, it can take a painfully long time for reality to supplant hope and hype. So although I fully expect (NYSE:CRM) to post gaudy growth for some time to come, the underlying thesis and valuation still just don't work for me as an investor.

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Friday, August 24, 2012

Investopedia: F5 Networks - Siren Or Solid Play?

While other tech stocks like Cisco (Nasdaq:CSCO) or EMC (NYSE:EMC) look cheaper by many metrics, I've had a fondness for F5 (Nasdaq:FFIV) for some time now. Here is a good example of where a value investor can get badly burned - F5 looks underpriced today and offers the sort of growth value investors don't often get to enjoy, but there are more than a few yellow flashing lights. So is F5 all that it seems, or is this a siren trying to lure investors toward the rocks?

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Investopedia: Diageo Lives Up To Its Billing

I may not love the premiums that alcoholic beverage companies carry today, but I can't fault the underlying premise that these companies pay for their multiples with solid and relatively consistent performance. To that end, while British alcohol giant Diageo (NYSE:DEO) saw some modest erosion in second half growth, the company's performance continues to offer both a port in a storm and leverage to emerging market growth. Once again, though, the question is whether investors ought to pay up for it.

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Investopedia: Does American Eagle Have A Second Act?

Half a year ago, I was relatively positive on the turnaround prospects for American Eagle Outfitters (NYSE:AEO), as I thought Wall Street gave the company virtually no credit for the improvements it had undertaken. The stock is up 50% since then, which is not a bad return for a half-year turnaround story. The question for investors now, though, is whether the company has anything else left in the tank - can the company leverage its mature store base into sustained growth, and/or can the company develop a new growth strategy?

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Investopedia: Can Hormel's Model Shine With The Drought?

Processed foods may not be healthy for us as consumers, but they certainly don't do the producers any harm. Whether you look at a five, 10 or 15-year chart, the performance of Hormel (NYSE:HRL) simply blows away the likes of Tyson (NYSE:TSN), Smithfield (NYSE:SFD) or Pilgrim's Pride (NYSE:PPC). Sure, some of that can be laid at the feet of superior management, but the reality is that it's much better to be the maker of branded processed foods than a virtual commodity supplier of fresh or frozen protein.

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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Investopedia: BHP Billiton Hoping For A Better 2013

It's hard to imagine many metal miners who aren't glad to put this year in the rearview mirror. Worries about Chinese demand and inventory have investors worried about copper, iron ore and met coal prices, and the global economy offers little counterweight to that reliance on China. Although it's a well-run company that generally manages its capital well, BHP Billiton (NYSE:BHP) is still a prisoner of its markets - if commodities rebound in 2013, so too will the stock.

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Investopedia: Analog Devices Still Crawling Along

It's getting a little more difficult to find fresh things to say about Analog Devices (Nasdaq:ADI). Just as it was a quarter ago and a year ago, this company remains one of the best analog chip companies (one of the best semiconductor companies overall, actually), and it remains stuck in a macro environment that just isn't moving forward fast enough. Significant margin potential remains dormant within this company, though I fear Wall Street's love for the company has eroded the discount.

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Seeking Alpha: For Exact Sciences, Approval May Be The Easy Part

Much as investors may wish it were true, it's not always the case that a great drug, test or medical device meets with real commercial success. Launching new med-tech products always involves an intricate dance between efficacy, patient control (in other words, doctors' "turf"), compliance, cost/benefit, and reimbursement. That could prove to be especially relevant in the case of Exact Sciences (NASDAQ: EXAS) and its non-invasive Cologuard colorectal cancer test.

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For Exact Sciences, Approval May Be The Easy Part

Investopedia: The Market Has More Than Caught Up With Williams-Sonoma

It would seem that a lot of investors had a vested interest in seeing Williams-Sonoma (NYSE:WSM) make solid progress on its growth recovery. While performance is indeed looking better at this multi-brand housewares retailer, today's valuation seems to assume not only ongoing improvement, but also little economic risk in the near-term.

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Investopedia: Will A Q4 Rebound Lift Atlas Air Worldwide?

China continues to sneeze, and it has given industrial stocks in North America and Europe a pretty nasty summer cold. That's bad news for air cargo carriers like FedEx (NYSE:FDX) and Atlas Air Worldwide (Nasdaq:AAWW), which depend on strong cargo demand to and from Asia. While overall industrial demand in China is not looking strong yet, nor are current cargo trends in Hong Kong, there may yet be reasons to think that stronger demand late in the year can lift shares of Atlas Air.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Seeking Alpha: For Medtronic, A Little Improvement Is Still Improvement

The only standard by which this past quarter was good for the major med-tech companies was that it could have been worse. While Covidien (COV) did pretty well and Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) looked a little stronger, most of the reports carried a tinge of disappointment to them. Well, Medtronic (MDT) at least brings the reporting cycle to a positive end. While I'm not especially confident that this quarter marks a big turn in revenue growth, this does look like a high-quality med-tech stock trading too cheaply.

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For Medtronic, A Little Improvement Is Still Improvement

Investopedia: Buy Lowe's For Tomorrow, Not Today

Investors have a very clear choice in the home improvement/big-box home retailer sector. Home Depot (NYSE:HD) is posting solid growth, gaining share and raising guidance, while rival Lowe's (NYSE:LOW) is struggling amidst a meaningful change in its merchandising and inventory management. While Home Depot is definitely hard to beat for near-term momentum, investors with more of a value inclination ought to take a closer look into what's going on at Lowe's.

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Investopedia: The Back And Forth At Marvell Goes On

This has been a pretty disappointing year for semiconductors in general, so criticism of underperformance at Marvell Technology (Nasdaq:MRVL) ought to be tempered by that reality. Nevertheless, for a company that needs to prove that it can build strength outside of its traditional hard drive controller business, current trends are not encouraging. Marvell does look undervalued, even based on moderate assumptions, so there's potential here, but that potential is tempered by a risk of the stock languishing due to a perceived lack of growth potential on the Street.

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Investopedia: Should Best Buy Shareholders Take The Money And Run?

I don't believe it surprised anyone when the board at Best Buy (NYSE:BBY) didn't exactly leap for joy at the receipt of a go-private bid from Best Buy's founder (and largest shareholder) Richard Schulze. Likewise, I'm not sure many investors will be surprised that the company once again posted a very disappointing quarterly financial performance. Now the question turns to whether shareholders should give newly hired CEO Hubert Joly a chance to work his turnaround magic, or take Schulze's money and move on to new opportunities.

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Investopedia: Facebook Not The Worst IPO Ever

Hyperbole is very nearly the oxygen of the financial writer, and so it's surprising to see plenty of doom and gloom around Facebook (Nasdaq:FB) these days. The stock has very definitely underperformed since it went public, and the expiration of the first lock-up period (and potentially 271 million shares up for sale) may only make it worse. Whether Facebook goes down as the worst IPO ever is a story that is far from written, but investors would do well to pay attention to the lessons it has already offered.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Investopedia: Bull Vs. Bear - The Mobile Payment Revolution Is Coming

Question: Will mobile payments become America's most popular transaction method in the near future?

Bull's Response
While mobile payment systems have been a hot topic for years now, they are finally becoming more real. Although there have been systems available for a while now (including the small dongles that could be used to quickly pay for gasoline at some stations), companies are now trying to find that right mix of hardware and software that will allow them to penetrate the huge North American retail and service space.

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Investopedia: The Week Ahead In Healthcare

Healthcare investors should enjoy the respite in the healthcare sector over the next few weeks. Once the calendar turns to September, major conferences start again, early earnings warnings will begin to pop up and analysts and investors in general will start to pay a great deal more attention to the companies and stocks. Likewise, while the FDA's calendar is relatively empty this month, activity ought to be picking up shortly.

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Investopedia: Smucker Still A Relatively Tasty Option

I liked J.M. Smucker (NYSE:SJM) as one of my favorite food stocks a few months ago, and neither the company nor the stock have done anything to disappoint me since then. While valuation has certainly increased and the packaged food sector is still seeing pressure, Smucker remains a pretty solid idea in a sector that often sports a premium due to its perceived safety in tougher times.

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Monday, August 20, 2012

Seeking Alpha: Coventry Makes Sense For Aetna

If at first you don't succeed in M&A, keep bidding until you do. That might be the mantra that Aetna (AET) followed, letting other players in the health insurance space pay more for other assets, but ultimately getting a pretty solid company of its own in Coventry Health (CVH). While there are certainly some risks in buying a health insurance company about two months away from the U.S. presidential election, the long-term logic of the deal seems likely to hold.

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Coventry Makes Sense For Aetna

Investopedia: Turnover At Top Could Mean Fresh Start For Brocade

The curious saga of Brocade (Nasdaq:BRCD) is about to take another interesting turn. The company's long-suffering Ethernet business looked quite strong this quarter, and new fabric products and the opportunities in software-defined networking could be significant longer-term contributors. More significantly, though, Brocade will soon have new leadership and with that, perhaps a new chance at living up to what seems like unfulfilled potential.

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Friday, August 17, 2012

Investopedia: Agilent Seeing Tougher Conditions, But Still A Quality Pick

When end-market conditions erode, there's not a lot that even the best companies can do apart from hunker down, hold the line on costs and keep building for the future. So although I'm sure that those traders and investors who focus on the short term will think I'm nuts, I still happen to think that Agilent (NYSE:A) is a quality company and that today's valuation is pretty appealing for long-term holders.

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Investopedia: Home Depot Continues To Ride A Stop-Start Recovery

Investors seem to be pretty committed to the idea that a real recovery is underway in America's housing market. While earnings reports from companies like Armstrong World Industries (NYSE:AWI), Mohawk (NYSE:MHK), Masco (NYSE:MAS) and Stanley Black & Decker (NYSE:SWK) did not support an unequivocal bull argument, the stocks recovered pretty quickly.

What's more, leading home improvement retailer Home Depot (NYSE:HD) continues to report rebounding sales in a wide range of housing-related product categories. Although Home Depot shares seem ahead of themselves on valuation alone, momentum will likely stay with the stock until the beat-and-raise pattern is broken.

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Thursday, August 16, 2012

Investopedia: Still Little Good News From Applied Materials

Two-thirds of the way through 2012, it's pretty clear that not only were expectations for a semiconductor and semiconductor equipment recovery wrong, they were off by a wide margin. As Applied Materials (Nasdaq:AMAT) continues to see business erosion, it has to test the patience of even the most loyal or long-term shareholder. While spending will recover someday and the shares will have their day again, the shares are likely to be volatile in the short term.

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Investopedia: NetApp And The Difference Between Value And Cheapness

Tech is rolling through another summer lull, and there's that familiar worry about whether the revenue and profit growth will come back when the leaves start to turn. In the case of NetApp (Nasdaq:NTAP), there remains a two-fold worry - not only over the state of enterprise and government IT storage spending, but also the company's competitive positioning. While NetApp does look meaningfully underpriced by multiple measures, how much value is really in the shares?

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Investopedia: Will A New Philosophy Toward Capital Unlock Cisco's Value?

I've said it before, and I'll start off this article on Cisco (Nasdaq:CSCO) by saying it again - investors don't reward value-priced tech companies that are rich in cash flow generation but poor in revenue growth. It's still an open question as to just how much top-line growth potential Cisco still has, but management seems to have acknowledged that hoarding cash on the balance sheet isn't going to do shareholders much good. I'm still skeptical about how readily investors will embrace Cisco, but I do still see a lot of value in the shares.

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Seeking Alpha: Is Komatsu A Better Way To Play The Eventual Heavy Machinery Rebound?

As I recently lamented in an article on Cummins (CMI), U.S. investors don't let quality heavy machinery/industrial names like Cummins or Caterpillar (CAT) linger long in value territory. This leaves investors with a few choices - pony up and pay current prices (even if the risk/return tradeoff isn't great), avoid the sector altogether, or go shopping for less traditional names. I'm a fan of that last approach, and just as I think Atlas Copco (ATLKY.PK) is a solid industrial name overlooked because of its thinly-traded ADR listing in the U.S., Komatsu (KMTUY.PK) looks like a name at least worthy of further discussion.

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Is Komatsu A Better Way To Play The Eventual Heavy Machinery Rebound?

Seeking Alpha: Idenix And The High-Stakes Ping-Pong Of Hep C Treatments

It's pretty remarkable just how quickly a hepatitis C (HCV) drug candidate can go from hero to villain in today's market. Investors cheered Gilead's (GILD) bold (and expensive) bid for Pharmasset ... until some concerns about the efficacy of lead drug GS-7977 popped up. Then there was Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY) making its bold play for Inhibitex, only to see serious safety worries emerge on the key asset (now known as BMS-094).

Now it's the turn of Idenix (IDIX). In a case of what looks to me like guilt by association, the FDA has put lead drug IDX184 on a partial clinical hold due to worries about cardiac safety.

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Idenix And The High-Stakes Ping-Pong Of Hep C Treatments

Investopedia: Apache Buy Today For Tomorrow's Rewards

So far, 2012 has looked like a year of risk aversion in the energy space. By and large, the bigger you look, the better your returns have been - the stocks of companies like Exxon Mobil (NYSE:XOM) and Chevron (NYSE:CVX) have done pretty well, while companies like Anadarko (NYSE:APC) and Apache (NYSE:APA) have languished by comparison. Although I see that Apache's recent production growth guidance cuts aren't going to make it the hottest property in the space, I still believe that investors ought to consider owning this name for its combination of long-term potential and near-term value.

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Investopedia: Glatfelter Still An Interesting Undiscoverd Small Cap

The shares of specialty paper company Glatfelter (NYSE:GLT) have done all right this year, but the stock remains virtually unknown and unfollowed. Although a company that makes specialty papers and fibers used in products like K-cups and hygiene products isn't going to be an explosive growth story, Glatfelter is the sort of company that can slowly build value over time.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Investopedia: Statoil - Should You Love What The Analysts Hate?

The great thing about investing is that there's no one right way to make money. Some investors do quite well surfing along with the crowd and have the dexterity to get in or out just as the mood starts to shift. Others succeed by boldly trusting their own analysis and going directly against prevailing sentiment. Investors considering Norwegian oil and gas company Statoil (NYSE:STO) need to be more of that latter mindset. While Statoil has changed for the better in some significant ways over a relatively short time period, the company is hardly a darling on the Street.

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Investopedia: Kellogg Looking Like A Better Part Of A Complete Portfolio

While I'm usually more than willing to grill underperforming company executives, I do have some pity for Kellogg (NYSE:K) CEO John Bryant. Not yet two years on the job, Mr. Bryant's role has more resembled that of an overworked fireman than a Fortune 500 CEO. Still, conditions seem to be stabilizing, and I am curious to see what sort of innovation and evolution he can shepherd at this giant food company.

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Investopedia: Sysco Muddling Through

The tough times for the restaurant industry continue. Once solid quick-service restaurants like McDonald's (NYSE:MCD) and Chipotle Mexican Grill (NYSE:CMG) have seen softer traffic patterns lately, and big food service equipment companies like Middleby (Nasdaq:MIDD) and Illinois Tool Works (NYSE:ITW) continue to report soft spending from restaurants. Sysco (NYSE:SYY) has been losing some of its shine in recent quarters, as the company struggles to leverage its much-heralded market share and infrastructure into real profit growth. Unfortunately for shareholders, not only does the near-term environment still look tough, but the share price may not yet fully account for that.

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Seeking Alpha: Deere Smacks Into The Wall Of Worry

It may be true that "Nothing Runs Like a Deere," but it also makes for an unpleasant sound when it smacks into the reality of tougher operating conditions. Deere (DE) typically enjoys a premium valuation within the heavy machinery space -- a recognition of the company's market share, strong brand equity, and reliable performance history. Unfortunately, Deere is showing that it's not immune to the larger economy or operating missteps.

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Deere Smacks Into The Wall Of Worry

Investopedia: Summer Infant Still Colicky

Summer Infant (Nasdaq:SUMR) could have been a really interesting growth story. There's certainly a big enough market for infant/child products, and the company's position with Toys R Us gives it a platform whereby acquiring smaller companies (especially those lacking good retail distribution) can be highly leveragable. Unfortunately, it's just not working out to plan, and I have to question whether management is being entirely candid with shareholders as to the company's real problems.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Seeking Alpha: Uncertainty Is The Trade-Off For Salix's Appealing Price

If a quality specialty pharmaceutical company like Salix Pharmaceuticals (SLXP) is trading at a discount, you can usually rest assured that it's because the story has a little too much of what Wall Street hates most - uncertainty. In the case of Salix, the uncertainty surrounds just why the FDA rejected its application for subcutaneous form of Relistor and what, if anything, that means for the oral form of the drug. FDA issues are no trivial thing for a company like Salix, but nevertheless this stock looks like a name worth owning.

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Uncertainty Is The Trade-Off For Salix's Appealing Price

Investopedia: Growing Pains Bedeviling Groupon

What a difference a decade makes. Unlike the "what, me worry?" attitude that dominated the prior tech bubble, investors seem considerably more interested in the immediate financial performance of companies like Facebook (Nasdaq:FB) and Groupon (Nasdaq:GRPN). With Groupon once again disappointing the Street, it looks like management needs to rebuild its credibility with institutions, even if the long-term growth story looks interesting at these prices.

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Investopedia: Middleby Not On The Value Menu

I've followed restaurant and food service equipment provider Middleby (Nasdaq:MIDD) for a long time now, and the stock has never been what a value investor would call "cheap." That's unfortunate, as this is an uncommonly interesting growth story in a segment of the market where growth investors don't often go shopping. While I would not chase this stock, I would recommend that investors keep it on a watch list and take advantage if and when a pullback comes around.

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Seeking Alpha: Brasil Foods A Bipolar Brazil Play

There's an old joke that goes something like this - what is a long-term investor? A short-term investor that won't admit a mistake, take a loss, and move on. I don't happen to subscribe to that point of view, but I do admit that Brasil Foods (BRFS) is not the easiest stock to own as Wall Street wavers between breathless enthusiasm for emerging markets and rank skepticism about those same markets.

Brasil Foods absolutely has real challenges today, but the long-term potential for this Brazil-based global food company is enough to keep me interested in the shares.

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Brasil Foods A Bipolar Brazil Play

Seeking Alpha: Elan's Split Will Create 2 Very Different Companies

Give credit where due - Ireland's Elan (ELN) has always been willing to take dramatic steps in the hope of improving ultimate returns to shareholders. The latest move is a doozy - basically splitting the company into an early-stage research-driven biotech and a cash-farming collection of assets. Odd as it may seem, this may be a case where breaking up a company results in parts worth more than the whole.

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Elan's Split Will Create 2 Very Different Companies

Monday, August 13, 2012

Seeking Alpha: Novo Nordisk Still A Top-Notch Healthcare Growth Story

Complaining about the valuation on Novo Nordisk (NVO) shares is a fruitless exercise. It's one of the strongest growth stories in healthcare, and so long as the company continues to execute, those premium multiples are likely to stay in place. I don't really embrace the "buy high, sell higher" philosophy, but it's difficult for me to ignore the growth and potential at this highly-focused biopharmaceutical company.

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Novo Nordisk Still A Top-Notch Healthcare Growth Story

Investopedia: Nvidia Appears To Have A Lot To Prove

Wall Street can be a little funny in how it rewards "proven" stories with unsustainable multiples, but tends to seriously underestimate the future of companies that aren't on the list of darlings. Nvidia (Nasdaq:NVDA) is trying to recreate itself as a more diversified semiconductor company, but the Street seems to see relatively little chance of the company breaking free of its graphics processor legacy. By no means is success in fields like mobile processing a guarantee, but risk-tolerant investors may find the long-term risk-reward trade-off here to be interesting.

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Investopedia: The Week Ahead In Healthcare

Healthcare has settled back into its normal late summer routine, with relatively little in the way of new product introductions or other market-moving data. That's not to say that the space is entirely quiet, though, as business continues to go on.

Novo Continues to Drive One of the Greatest Growth Stories in Healthcare
Very few healthcare stocks are as expensive as Novo Nordisk (NYSE:NVO), but few companies deserve that sort of premium either. There aren't too many companies with multiple billions of dollars in revenue that are growing more than 20%, but Novo is managing to do so largely on the strength of its diabetes franchise. Novo Nordisk stands tall alongside Lilly (NYSE:LLY) and Sanofi (NYSE:SNY) in the insulin space, while its Victoza remains a leading pharmaceutical option for Type 2 diabetes.

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Seeking Alpha: Catching Up With Celldex Therapeutics

As a financial writer, sometimes you get lucky. That proved to be the case when I wrote about Celldex Therapeutics (CLDX) in January of this year - right before the shares spiked on new-found optimism for the company's innovative oncology program. Since then, the company has reported encouraging (albeit confusing) clinical data and bounced around between $4 and $5.50. Although investors should not underestimate the risks to this story, these shares still look like an under-appreciated play on some very difficult-to-treat cancer types.

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Catching Up With Celldex Therapeutics

Seeking Alpha: Atlas Copco: Maybe The Best Industrial You Don't Know

Institutional investors may have the tools and resources that make international investing indistinguishable from domestic investing, but the retail investor is not so lucky. Consequently, high-quality industrial names like Atlas Copco (ATLKY.PK) can often go unnoticed by many investors. While Atlas Copco doesn't have the left-for-dead valuation of some industrials, investors who want a blue chip company with solid growth prospects can still pick up these shares for less than fair value.

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Atlas Copco: Maybe The Best Industrial You Don't Know

Investopedia: A Melancholy Farewell to FSI International

There are two kinds of investors - those who've watched a great idea slip away and liars. In other words, it's just part of the nature of investing that eventually you're going to identify a great stock and somehow, for some reason, not buy it before its big move. With today's news that Tokyo Electron is buying up-and-coming semiconductor equipment company FSI International (Nasdaq:FSII), I add another stock to that not-so-illustrious list.

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Friday, August 10, 2012

Investopedia: Can Alpha Natural Resources Find The Bottom?

It's been a pretty miserable summer for coal companies, as low natural gas prices and sluggish steel production have eviscerated prices for both thermal and metallurgical coal. As a debt-heavy company with major exposure to the very much out-of-favor Appalachia region, Alpha Natural Resources (NYSE:ANR) has seen its stock take an absolute pounding. Although valuation suggests extreme pessimism, investors cannot afford not to consider the risk that conditions could get even worse.

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Thursday, August 9, 2012

Investopedia: Another "Good Enough" Quarter For Disney

Media giant Disney (NYSE:DIS) did not have a perfect quarter, but it was good enough to get the job done. Media results were a little noisy, but solid revenue growth in parks and resorts coupled with good profitability in the studio made for a good bottom line result. As is often the case, Disney's stock is not especially cheap, but investors have long been willing to pay up for Disney's dominance and perceived full-cycle consistency.

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Investopedia: National Oilwell Varco Goes Back To The M&A Well In A Big Way

Energy service equipment giant National Oilwell Varco (NYSE:NOV) has never exactly been shy about doing deals, with six deals in the second quarter of 2012 alone, and the company announced another large plunge the morning of August 9. National Oilwell announced a friendly all-cash deal to acquire smaller equipment maker Robbins & Myers (NYSE:RBN) for $2.5 billion.

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Investopedia: ASML Gets TSMC To Sign On The Dotted Line

So far, it looks like ASML's (Nasdaq:ASML) unconventional customer investment plan is shaping up as an offer that the biggest semiconductor companies can't refuse. Intel (Nasdaq:INTC) already committed to purchase as much as 15% of ASML's shares and invest over $4 billion, and now huge semiconductor fab Taiwan Semiconductor (NYSE:TSM) (aka TSMC) has chosen to join in as well.

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Investopedia: Just How Messy Will The Standard Chartered Affair Get?

It seems like banks just can't keep themselves out of trouble. While the markets have largely moved on from the self-inflicted wounds of irresponsible mortgage lending and securitizations, and most European banks have stabilized their sovereign debt risk, new scandals are filling in to replace the old. Regulators are wrestling with the possibility of a sizable conspiracy to manipulate LIBOR rates, and if that wasn't enough, large Asia-focused Standard Chartered (OTC:SCBFF) finds itself in the eye of a hurricane over alleged dealings with Iran.

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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Investopedia: Brazil Limiting The Happy In Arcos Dorados' Happy Meals

McDonald's (NYSE:MCD) may be the leading dining concept in Brazil and much of Latin America, but that doesn't promise smooth sailing for its large franchisee/operator Arcos Dorados (NYSE:ARCO). Not only are operating expenses pressuring margins, but overall economic conditions and rising competition in Brazil are squeezing numbers from the other side as well. Although these shares do not look too expensive today, investors need to appreciate the above-average volatility if they choose to nibble on these shares.

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Investopedia: Bull Vs. Bear - Travel Stocks Not Worth The Trip

Question: Is now a good time to invest in travel stocks?

Bear's Response
Online travel companies have dramatically changed their industry - so much now that a "travel agent" is an all-but-extinct job description. As is so often the case, though, there is a big difference between good companies and good stocks. While many of these companies have relatively bright futures ahead of them, the combination of economic uncertainty, competition and investment spending suggest that now is not the right time to start significant positions.

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Investopedia: Knight Capital Lives To Fight Another Day

For those who favor quick and brutal justice for market misdeeds, the travails of Knight Capital Group (NYSE:KCG) ought to offer some measure of satisfaction. While Knight's technology problem led to only about an hour of chaos in about 140 stocks, the costs to the company have been swift and severe. While Knight has secured a capital injection that will keep it in the game, the long-term viability of this business is still uncertain at best.

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Investopedia: The Week Ahead In Healthcare

As is generally the case for many areas of the stock market, summer marks a pronounced slowdown in newsflow and stock action for the healthcare sector. Although these periods can be frustrating for investors and traders who crave action, the sluggish pace of trading can afford others an opportunity to get caught up on due diligence and begin establishing positions.

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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Investopedia: Tyson Finally Interesting, But Risks Growing

I've stuck to my guns that giant protein producer Tyson Foods (NYSE:TSN) was not an interesting stock until and unless the shares started trading for below book value. Now with worries about rising grain costs and limited additional pricing leverage, the stock may finally be cheap enough to own, but investors must also consider the risk that conditions could get substantially worse before they get better.

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Investopedia: Best Buy Gets Its Bid

Back in June, I wrote an article that suggested Best Buy (NYSE:BBY) could see itself the target of a go-private bid from founder Richard Schulze, particularly after he stepped away from the company. Rumor and speculation became fact on Monday, though, as Richard Schulze formally launched a bid that values the company's outstanding shares at $24 to $26.

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Investopedia: July Rail Data Shows Some Reasons For Worry

The month-by-month rail data provided by the Association of American Railroads through the monthly Rail Time Indicators publication has always been something to take with a grain of salt - one month doesn't make a trend and no trailing data report can ever tell an investor what's about to happen. All of that said, data is now flashing a strong yellow and investors in transportation stocks, not to mention industrial and resource stocks, should approach these companies with some caution. 

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Investopedia: Two More Reheats Heading To The IPO Market

Everything old is new again, and apparently everything taken private comes back to the public market sooner or later. Following in the shoes of Burger King Worldwide (NYSE:BKW), investors will soon see shares publicly trading again for CKE Restaurants (Hardee's/Carl's Jr parent) and Bloomin' Brands (Outback Steakhouse/Carrabba's/Bonefish Grill parent).While more investing options are generally a good thing for investors, it's worth asking what is inspiring restaurant owners to head to the public markets.

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Seeking Alpha: Alzheimer's Drug Bapi Looks Done (Again)

Denial and bargaining are integral parts of the Kübler-Ross grief hypothesis, and anybody who writes about the healthcare and biotech sectors knows that Elisabeth Kübler-Ross was on to something. When I last wrote about the disappointing results of bapineuzumab (or bapi), a drug that Pfizer (PFE), Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), and Elan (ELN) were developing for Alzheimer's disease, I suggested that the drug was a goner and investors should respond accordingly.

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Alzheimer's Drug Bapi Looks Done (Again)

Monday, August 6, 2012

Seeking Alpha: Lexicon Needs Differentiated Data To Drive Deals And Value

All in all, it's been a good year for Lexicon Pharmaceuticals (LXRX). Although well off its highs, the stock has done well since I last wrote about its prospects and the company looks to be in stronger shape today. The real question for Lexicon, though, is whether the company can produce clinical data that significantly differentiates its candidates from rival therapies and gives larger pharmaceutical companies a reason to partner with the company.

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Lexicon Needs Differentiated Data To Drive Deals And Value

Seeking Alpha: Does The Market Love Cummins Too Much?

For a market that got very nervous very quickly about industrial companies, particularly those with sizable emerging market exposure, Cummins (CMI) is actually faring quite well. Investors seemed encouraged by the company's recent quarterly report, as well as a big (albeit not totally unexpected) win with Navistar (NAV). The question I have is whether Cummins, for all of its great qualities as a company, is still a bit too popular for investors' long-term good.

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Does The Market Love Cummins Too Much?

Friday, August 3, 2012

Investopedia: Drought Shrivels ADM's Near-Term Prospects

The outlook for the agricultural sector has changed significantly since the first quarter of this year. While talk was of record corn plantings and a bumper harvest, adverse weather has made drought the word of the summer. As Archer Danields Midland (NYSE:ADM) transitions from the old crop year to the new crop year, the drought is likely to hit this business in a significant way. The long-term potential of ADM is still worthwhile, and investors ought to keep an eye open for overreactions on the down side, but the next few quarters are likely to be difficult at best.

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Investopedia: Harley-Davidson Already Priced For Improvement

It's worth asking how long it's going to take Harley-Davidson (NYSE:HOG) to return to former glories. Nothing has really dented the brand value or product quality of this well-loved brand, but easy credit in the early and mid-2000s spiked demand and sales for these expensive motorcycles. Although a focus on lean manufacturing ought to improve long-term margins and cash flow conversion, investors may be expecting more of this company than the numbers can deliver.

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Investopedia: Headwaters Still Waiting For The Turn In Construction

Investors banking on a recovery in construction activity have had to revisit their expectations in recent weeks, and not in a good way. While there is evidence here and there that building trends have improved, companies like Masco (NYSE:MAS) and Armstrong World Industries (NYSE:AWI) have reminded investors that there's still a way to go back to "normal." Headwaters (NYSE:HW) looks considerably more stable right now, but the stock has already recovered significantly on this better operating performance.

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Investopedia: MetLife Keeps On Keeping On

It's too much of a stretch to say that the financial sector is healthy again, but banks and P&C insurers have largely recovered a lot of lost value. Conditions are not so strong in the life insurance industry, though, where low rates and volatile markets have done a number on many aspects of the business. Tough times tend to highlight the best operators, though, and I believe MetLife (NYSE:MET) continues to demonstrate why it is a top-notch company that is meaningfully undervalued.

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Investopedia: Is It Time To Hitch Up The Coach?

As a seller of something that many people want, but nobody really needs, Coach (NYSE:COH) is an interesting economic barometer in its own right. Like so many other semi-luxury or luxury brands, Coach knows how much of its future growth rests in China, but the company must also find that sustainable niche of "affordable luxury" that is so hard to maintain in the North American market. While economic weakness is going to have a disproportionate impact on Coach, this stock is a name to watch as a rebound play for when conditions and sentiment turn more positive.

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Investopedia: Flowserve Looking To Bookings And Margins

It was just the other day that Reuters ran an article highlighting the risk that a building boom in domestic pipelines could be significantly slowed by a shortage of the enormous heavy-duty valves and pumps that such projects require. That sounds like a pretty healthy backdrop for Flowserve (NYSE:FLS) - a veritable pure-play on fluid handling equipment like pumps and valves. The question for Flowserve investors, though, is how much the company can improve its full-cycle margins and how much is already built into the price.

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Thursday, August 2, 2012

Investopedia: Water May Be Essential, But That Doesn't Make Aqua America Cheap

Eventually, almost everyone who writes online about stocks and investments gets around to writing their "water article." Yes, water is essential for life and access to clean water is going to be an increasingly significant issue for many people in the coming decades. That doesn't automatically make water a great investment, though, as investors have frequently bid these stocks up to unreasonable levels only to see gravity take hold once again.

And that is the problem today at Aqua America (NYSE:WTR). The company's decision to rationalize its holdings (selling off businesses in less-promising areas like Maine) was a wise one, and the company's venture with Penn Virginia Resource Partners (NYSE:PVR) to bring water supplies to energy companies in the Marcellus is a good growth opportunity outside of the regulated residential water business. Nevertheless, this is a stock priced for virtual perfection today.

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Investopedia: Better Volumes, But Not Better Value, At Plum Creek

There's a certain amount of "broken record" when it comes to talking about Plum Creek Timber (NYSE:PCL). Conditions in the housing market, and by extension the forestry market, haven't changed all that much, but neither has the Street's overall confidence that patience here will pay off. While valuation and potential liquidity challenges don't argue for this stock as a must-own, investors are likely to remain firm in their conviction that better days will validate the premium on these shares.

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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Investopedia: Is Basic Energy Already Priced For The Worst Case?

The relief in second quarter energy services company performance needs to be kept in context. While Baker Hughes (NYSE:BHI) and Halliburton (NYSE:HAL) did indeed do better than feared, revenue was still down sequentially in North America, and operating margins were still soft. As a smaller player with less leverage, it's not surprising that Basic Energy Services (NYSE:BAS) is also suffering. While conditions are indeed challenging, and likely to remain so for 2012, today's valuation seems to put little faith in a rebound and may be an appealing entry point for risk-seeking investors.

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