Thursday, February 28, 2013

Seeking Alpha: Controversial Questcor Still Looks Like A Buy

Questcor (QCOR) investors have had quite the ride over the past year. In addition to positive clinical data, the company has seen encouraging success in expanding its business in nephrology and rheumatology, but investors will not soon forget the nearly two-thirds dive that the stock took on word that Aetna (AET) was essentially dropping coverage on the company's only product.

There's no doubt that Questcor is a risky stock. All of the company's revenue comes from a single product that is off-patent (but very hard to manufacture) and the company has no pipeline to speak of. Even so, the shares appear undervalued with relatively little downside at present.

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Controversial Questcor Still Looks Like A Buy

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Seeking Alpha: Titan International Deflates After Disappointing Results

The CEO of Titan International (TWI) is hardly a wallflower, and that makes for the occasional interesting headline or entertaining press release. But whatever the entertainment value, Wall Street is a brutally results-oriented place and Titan's fourth quarter earnings didn't pass muster.

While investors have reason to be concerned about the extent to which a weak global construction market and a "weak everything" market in Europe will hurt results over the next year or two, and what the company's long-term free cash flow generation will look like, this pullback could be an opportunity to add shares of an increasingly global off-highway wheel and tire business.

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Titan International Deflates After Disappointing Results

Seeking Alpha: Don't Fold On Amicus Therapeutics Just Yet

It's hard enough to pick winners in biotech, but when companies try to explain away bad trial data with "don't look at that, look at *this*" post hoc analysis, all manner of alarms and sirens should go off in investors' heads. And yet, for every rule there is an exception, and I think Amicus Therapeutics (FOLD) may just be that rare exception. While I realize that hope and belief are more suited to theology than biotechnology, I do believe that Amicus's lead drug is effective and safe, and I hope that a 12-month follow-up of its pivotal study will be able to demonstrate that sufficiently for the FDA to grant approval.

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Don't Fold On Amicus Therapeutics Just Yet

Seeking Alpha: Thompson Creek Walking A Very Fine Line

While a lot of investors seem to love David-versus-Goliath underdog stories, I think they too often forget a key detail - what makes that story so special is how unlikely the outcome was; normally David gets absolutely pasted and ends up either with a bunch of tubes coming out of him or in a box. In the case of a stock like Thompson Creek (TC), then, I think investors are often too willing to look past the serious operational and macro risks that go capacity expansion stories at small miners.

That grim opening probably suggests that I'm bearish on Thompson Creek Metals. In point of fact, I'm not. I think Thompson Creek is a very interesting speculation at this point. But I do believe it's important for investors considering these shares to appreciate that there are sizable risks here and a happy ending is far from guaranteed.

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Thompson Creek Walking A Very Fine Line

Seeking Alpha: Skepticism About Mindray In America Overlooks Opportunities In China

The stock market is well past that period where almost anything China-related became an overnight sensation. That said, there are some powerful realities about the size of the Chinese economy and the opportunities in areas like healthcare. That brings us to the opportunity in Mindray Medical (MR). Mindray is one of the very few Chinese med-tech companies to have a legitimate business outside of China, as well as extensive growth opportunities within China. Margins, domestic competition, and an uncertain strategy in the U.S. are all valid reasons for concern, but Mindray just may be one of the better growth opportunities in med-tech right now.

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Skepticism About Mindray In America Overlooks Opportunities In China

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Seeking Alpha: Gemalto Offers Growth With Security

When it comes to technology, France doesn't get much love. Apart from a handful of companies like Alcatel-Lucent (ALU), Dassault, and Bull SAS, it's pretty slim pickings for the most part. Gemalto (GTOMY.PK) is a notable exception, though, as this company is a world leader in smart cards and SIM cards and a leading player in the emerging near field communication (NFC)/mobile payment opportunity. Investors already prize Gemalto's growth potential, but these shares are worth a spot on investors' watchlists and may be more interesting to those who believe in a faster adoption curve for mobile payments and smart cards in the U.S. and China.

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Gemalto Offers Growth With Security

Seeking Alpha: Terex Needs More Balanced Growth To Head Higher

It was almost a year to the day when I last wrote on material handling company Terex (TEX). I was positive on the stock at that time, and the stock did outperform over the past year (up nearly 27%). Like so many other industrial/heavy machinery names, though, I find myself asking if investors have been too eager to factor a strong global economical recovery into the numbers. While I still think Terex has a good business and a solid management team, a lot seems to be riding on businesses that have a lot of exposure to the still-feeble European economy.

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Terex Needs More Balanced Growth To Head Higher

Seeking Alpha: Masimo Needs Rainbow To Lead To A Pot Of Gold

Over and over again, investors who follow the med-tech space will see examples of companies generating solid revenue and profit growth in markets that are seen as slow-growth. In the case of Masimo (MASI), the company has used strong technology to add some spice to the pulse oximetry market. More recently, though, the company has struggled to generate the hoped-for growth from hemoglobin monitoring. Better execution here is the real key to the story - if Masimo can translate the potential of noninvasive hemoglobin monitoring into real sales, there could be upside to these shares.

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Masimo Needs Rainbow To Lead To A Pot Of Gold

Seeking Alpha: LipoScience - A Small Company Targeting A Large Market

Healthcare is arguably defined by a continual push for better mousetraps, and LipoScience (LPDX) may have a better mousetrap for diagnosing and characterizing heart disease. Not only does LipoScience provide information to doctors that other systems currently on the market do not, it does so with a platform that offers meaningful potential value for the hospital or lab using it. Diagnostics is a very crowded market and it is absolutely essential that LipoScience broaden its array of assays, but this looks like a small med-tech well worth keeping an eye on today.

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LipoScience - A Small Company Targeting A Large Market

Monday, February 25, 2013

Seeking Alpha: MSC Industrial Makes A Bold Bid For Scale

The North American MRO market is ripe for consolidation and MSC Industrial (MSM) has made it clear that it intends to be one of the consolidators. On Friday morning MSC Industrial announced a large transaction - an agreement to buy the North American distribution business of Barnes (B). This deal will not only add incremental revenue to MSC Industrial, but it also adds entire new lines of product distribution and customer categories.

The Deal To Be
Assuming that the deal goes through as planned, MSC Industrial will acquire the Barnes Distribution North America (BDNA) business of Barnes for $550 million in cash. MSC Industrial will pay for the deal with cash on hand and a credit facility/term loan that it later intends to refinance long term. All told, about $400 million of the purchase price will likely be borrowed at a long-term interest rate below 3%.

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MSC Industrial Makes A Bold Bid For Scale

Seeking Alpha: Incredible Growth Makes ASOS A Must-Watch Name

Online retailing has led to massive changes in business like book publishing/retailing, consumer electronics, music, and media. Heretofore, though, its impact on apparel retailing has been less profound, in part because of the customer service issues of dealing in products where fit, feel, style, and so on complicate the delivery model. Britain's ASOS (ASOMY.PK) is looking to change this with a disruptive customer-centric model that could ring major growth in the years to come.

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Incredible Growth Makes ASOS A Must-Watch Name

Seeking Alpha: Investors Seem To Be Expecting Too Much From H.B. Fuller

I love a good industrial story, particularly when companies can spike improving volumes and mix with better manufacturing margins. Along those same lines, I'm broadly a fan of companies whose products show up almost everywhere but don't necessarily capture much investor "mind-share". All of that said, I can't bring myself to love H.B. Fuller (FUL). I do understand that this specialty chemicals company can benefit from significant margin improvement initiatives and recoveries in key end markets like construction, but the valuation seems to be more than generous for that potential.

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Investors Seem To Be Expecting Too Much From H.B. Fuller

Friday, February 22, 2013

Seeking Alpha: Colfax - Balancing Growing Pains And Growth Potential

In an industrial sector that has already seen investors prove more than willing to value stocks with a benefit of a doubt, Colfax (CFX) carries an even larger premium by conventional metrics. I suspect that this has more to do with the company's ties to Danaher's (DHR) legacy than ample enthusiasm for gas/fluid handling and welding, but that's neither here nor there. While investors cannot lose sight of the risk that the ESAB turnaround efforts take too long or accomplish too little, a cash flow-based model suggests Colfax may in fact be trading at a discount today.

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Colfax - Balancing Growing Pains And Growth Potential

Seeking Alpha: VeriFone Now A Falling Knife

Questioning the valuation of a growth stock is a good way to fill up your inbox with hostile emails, but VeriFone (PAY) is offering up a case study in why valuation always matters. While the company is still growing, and still has an attractive global market opportunity, multiple missteps have led to a one-two punch of lower estimates and substantially lower multiples on those estimates. Although these shares may finally be resetting to a point where the valuation makes it appealing, management is going to have a long road back to reestablishing credibility with the Street.

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VeriFone Now A Falling Knife

Seeking Alpha: Sauer-Danfoss Should Be Past The Worst

Industrial companies have been reporting pretty grim results for the 2012 calendar fourth quarter, and guidance for the first half of 2013 isn't looking particularly strong either. The market being what it is, though, investors are looking past these current difficulties and already baking in their assumptions of a solid recovery. As Sauer-Danfoss (SHS) was one of the first ag/construction equipment companies to see significant weakening, I think the company's relative stability could be a sign of improving conditions, and I think there is still room for these shares to go higher.

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Sauer-Danfoss Should Be Past The Worst

Seeking Alpha: Living In The Fast (Retailing) Lane Comes At A Price

Apparel retailing can be a surprisingly cyclical business, and not just because of economic cycles. Plenty of U.S. apparel companies, ranging from Gap (GPS) to American Eagle (AEO) to Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF) have enjoyed periods where they could do no wrong with merchandising or marketing, only to see the crowds leave without warning and take their sales with them. What's more, as a store's footprint grows, it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain an impressive or satisfying level of growth.

One solution that apparel companies have found is to go global. Gap and Abercrombie & Fitch have taken their shows on the road (with not a lot of success thus far), as have European retailers like H&M (HNNMY.PK) and Inditex (IDEXY.PK). Looking to the other side of the globe, Japan's Fast Retailing (FRCOY.PK) looks like a name to watch as the company looks to maintain double-digit growth through expansion in Europe, the U.S., and Asia with its proven strategy of savvy marketing, competitive pricing, and high-quality unique merchandise.

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Living In The Fast (Retailing) Lane Comes At A Price

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Seeking Alpha: Aches And Pains Shouldn't Obscure Achillion's Potential

As I've said more than once, the shares of biotech Achillion Pharmaceuticals (ACHN) come with invisible mandatory tickets to a roller-coaster ride. This biotech may have a compelling all-oral Hep C regimen in its pipeline, but investors remain nervous that the company is going to be a distant runner-up to the more advanced programs at Gilead (GILD) and AbbVie (ABBV). With the shares down again on what I would consider "non-core" concerns, aggressive investors may want to run the numbers on this company and its stock.

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Aches And Pains Shouldn't Obscure Achillion's Potential

Seeking Alpha: A New Paper At JAMA Unlikely To Jam Up Intuitive Surgical

Intuitive Surgical (ISRG) has garnered ample attention for its daVinci surgical robots - both from investors who lust for Intuitive's revenue and earnings growth, and clinicians looking to either use or question the use of these surgical robots. A recent paper once again highlighted the obvious - robot-assisted surgeries cost more - but a closer look at the details of what the paper did, and did not, say suggests minimal incremental risk to Intuitive Surgical.

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A New Paper At JAMA Unlikely To Jam Up Intuitive Surgical

Seeking Alpha: Fortune Could Favor A Bolder Terumo

Terumo's (TRUMY.PK) green-and-white color scheme is likely pretty familiar to those who attend medical conferences (particularly those focused on coronary treatments), but Terumo is likely not a particularly well-known name to most American investors.

 Not only does Terumo have a strong and diversified medical device business in Japan, but Terumo's share outside of Japan suggests bigger things could be in store. These shares are not particularly easy to own (the ADR is quite illiquid) and the valuation doesn't suggest that investors need to be in any hurry to figure out how to work around that, but the significantly above-average growth potential here makes Terumo very much worth watching.

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Fortune Could Favor A Bolder Terumo

Seeking Alpha: Crane Needs To Reach For Better Performance

What do vending machines, pumps, fiberglass RV panels, and airplane brakes have in common? If you answered "huh?" you win - Crane's (CR) many and varied businesses don't always fit together in the most seamless fashion, and the company hasn't really been a model of shareholder value accretion over the years. That said, this is a company with strong market share in many of its businesses and what looks like a renewed focus on margins. Although today's share price doesn't leap out as a bargain, better execution on the new plan(s) could offer some upside.

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Crane Needs To Reach For Better Performance

Seeking Alpha: Analog Devices Already Pricing In A Recovery

As a general rule, semiconductors are great second-chance stocks as the ups and downs of this surprising cyclical industry take the stocks on roller-coaster rides. Unfortunately for investors just coming back around to check on Analog Devices (ADI), the market has already more than counted on a solid recovery at this leading analog chip company. Improving sell-side estimates and better-than-expected operating leverage could lead to more upside in this recovery cycle, but this isn't a fundamentally cheap stock anymore.

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Analog Devices Already Pricing In A Recovery

Seeking Alpha: Astellas Needs To Pick A Model To Prosper

There are multiple avenues to success in the pharmaceutical industry. Companies can go the Big Pharma route of significant internal R&D development and sales efforts, the Forest Labs (FRX) approach of minimal R&D and extensive in-licensing, or the tried-and-true biotech approach of major R&D development with sales handled by larger pharmaceutical partners.

What is more difficult, though, is to do both. While many companies go through an awkward phase where they rely on licensing or co-promotion agreements while building their own sales force (Lundbeck (HLUYY.PK) being a good example), Japan's Astellas Pharma (ALPMY.PK) needs to come up with a clearer strategy and stick to it. As it is, the company's odd mix of internal efforts, partnerships, and licensing doesn't seem to be producing exceptional results or value.

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Astellas Needs To Pick A Model To Prosper

Seeking Alpha: Risky Sunshine Heart Looks Very Interesting

I spent close to a decade following small-cap med-tech companies, and in that time I learned to be very skeptical whenever a company talked about having a potential treatment for congestive heart failure. While there are indeed many heart failure patients in the U.S. and EU and there are depressingly few treatment options (particularly for the more serious patients), companies, devices, and technologies have often proved long on hype and hope and short on real-world efficacy and cost benefit.

Maybe, just maybe, Sunshine Heart (SSH) will be different. The dearth of clinical data creates substantial risk here, as does the long timeline to pivotal trial completion and potential FDA approval. Even still, in a med-tech world with few highly promising companies trading at reasonable values, Sunshine is at least worth a look from aggressive risk-tolerant investors.

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Risky Sunshine Heart Looks Very Interesting

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Seeking Alpha: Are Investors Too Thirsty For Growth From Xylem?

As I mentioned about a month ago in a discussion of Gorman-Rupp (GRC), almost any company with substantial operations in water infrastructure gets a premium in the market. As one of the largest and most diversified pure-plays on the water sector, it's no surprise that Xylem (XYL) too carries such a premium. That leaves investors with a valuation quandary - absent acquisition interest from a larger company, is this a good name to add to a portfolio today?

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Are Investors Too Thirsty For Growth From Xylem?

Seeking Alpha: Growth Needs Resuscitation, But Medtronic Still Looks Like A Value

The biggest obstacle for med-tech giant Medtronic (MDT) today is not its competition nor the still-sleepy markets for medical procedures. Instead, the biggest problem Medtronic has is a market/investor base that seems unwilling to accept the company for what it is. Medtronic came in shy of the more robust growth expectations this quarter, but even modest long-term growth projections suggest these shares are undervalued today.

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Growth Needs Resuscitation, But Medtronic Still Looks Like A Value

Seeking Alpha: If Investors Won't Buy Shire, Big Pharma Should

Given the premium that Novo Nordisk (NVO) enjoys for its very strong position within diabetes care, you might think that a company with strong positions in two significant pharmaceutical areas would enjoy an even bigger premium. That's not the case for Shire (SHPG), though, and investors may have an opportunity here to take advantage of one of the few bargains in the pharma space. Moreover, with Big Pharma likely on the prowl for add-on deals, Shire's relative value may make it an appealing target.

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If Investors Won't Buy Shire, Big Pharma Should

Monday, February 18, 2013

Seeking Alpha: Investors Are Already Pricing In Lincoln Electric's Recovery

Every once in a while shares of the world's largest welding company, Lincoln Electric (LECO), sell off and get cheap. These opportunities seem to come about every two years or so, and investors would do well to look out for them, as there are plenty of people who know all too well just how good of a company this is. Accordingly, while Lincoln Electric had pretty weak results within the welding industry, the market has not only shrugged it off but pushed these shares to a new all-time high.

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Investors Are Already Pricing In Lincoln Electric's Recovery

Seeking Alpha: Kraft's Cheese Has Already Been Moved Far Enough

When companies announce major spin-offs or splits, they usually promise that the separation will unlock substantial value for shareholders and allow the two businesses to operate better. While time will tell about that latter part, maybe there was some value created in splitting Mondelez (MDLZ) and Kraft Foods (KRFT). At the current price, Kraft doesn't look like a bargain, nor does Mondelez, as both seem more overvalued apart than they did together. While Kraft Foods has numerous opportunities to improve performance in the coming years, it looks like the Street has already assumed that one way or another those improvements are as good as done.

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Kraft's Cheese Has Already Been Moved Far Enough

Seeking Alpha: Skepticism About ABB Means There's Still Time To Buy

Swiss industrial conglomerate ABB (ABB) is a bit unusual in that several well-known investment banks have underperform/sell ratings on the stock. Suffice it to say, it was more than a little interesting to read what they had to say when ABB delivered another strong quarter of performance, punctuated by good order growth in both the U.S. and China. While there are certainly several things that could go wrong for ABB in 2013/14, I believe this company remains an underrated and under-appreciated play on strong emerging market growth and possibly the re-industrialization of the United States.

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Skepticism About ABB Means There's Still Time To Buy

Seeking Alpha: If Agilent Weakens Further, Take Advantage Of It

As a high-quality company with strong share in most of its addressed markets, Agilent (A) doesn't frequently get all that cheap. The initial reaction to a weaker-than-expected fiscal first quarter has been pretty restrained as of this writing, but investors may want to sharpen their pencils and get ready to move on this name. Agilent has cyclical volatility and exposure to weaker government spending, but represents a good quality growth name at the right price.

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If Agilent Weakens Further, Take Advantage Of It

Friday, February 15, 2013

Seeking Alpha: PepsiCo Looks Like A Relative Value In Its Sector

Investors have certainly been willing to pay more for the relatively predictable streams of earnings from packaged food companies recently, and that has left scant value in the sector. That PepsiCo (PEP) still seems to have some value in it is likely a product of the fact that not all analysts are completely sold on the idea that the benefits of the company's recent restructuring will last over the long term. While wasteful acquisitions and unsuccessful marketing initiatives may loom as ongoing threats, these shares do seem to over some relative value in the sector today.

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PepsiCo Looks Like A Relative Value In Its Sector

Seeking Alpha: Mondelez's Sugary Valuation Could Cause Wealth Decay

I can understand why investors like Mondelez (MDLZ). The company is not only #1 or #2 in most of its products and markets, but it has been deliberately assembled to address faster-growing markets in the larger packaged food industry. On top of that, this company has some of the highest exposure to emerging markets in the sector. Yet for all of those positives, I do think investors should be careful about what they pay, as expectations for this company are already pretty significant.

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Mondelez's Sugary Valuation Could Cause Wealth Decay

Investopedia: NetApp Seems Stupid-Cheap

a stock seems too cheap, there's really only two things to do (and they're not mutually exclusive) - run the numbers backwards and forwards, and buy it. While the IT hardware market in general, and the network storage market in particular, has slowed in recent quarters, NetApp (Nasdaq:NTAP) looks too cheap, unless analysts are completely wrong in their basic assumptions. Although I don't think NetApp is going to seriously threaten EMC (NYSE:EMC) for the storage throne, fading efforts at Dell (Nasdaq:DELL), Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) and maybe IBM (NYSE:IBM), leave plenty of share to grab above and beyond the underlying market growth.

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Investopedia: Whole Foods Disappoints, Comes A Little Closer To Value

Whole Foods Market (Nasdaq:WFM) doesn't really run sales, but another quarterly disappointment has put the shares that much closer to a potential value. Whole Foods continues to enjoy good loyalty and a customer base of above-average affluence, and that should pay off down the road. That said, it's clear that these shares aren't exactly cheap by conventional standards and still very sensitive to relative modest shortfalls in reported results.

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Invetsopedia: Cliffs Natural Resources Needs Another Iron Ore Boom

By and large, it's good to have industry-low cash production costs in a commodity industry, but even high-cost producers can do well when prices shoot up. That's exactly what investors in Cliffs Natural Resources (NYSE:CLF) need to hope for in 2013, as this high-cost North American iron ore producer just doesn't look very compelling absent a big improvement in margins per ton.

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Investopedia: Nestle A Little Light On Results, Heavy On Valuation

Nestle (OTC:NSRGY) has trained investors and analysts to expect a high level of performance, so although the company had one of the best financial reports of the food sector in the fourth quarter, the overall reaction hasn't been too positive. While Nestle is absolutely one of the best-positioned companies for emerging market growth and one of the best-run companies in the world, today's valuation doesn't offer all that much upside.

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Investopedia: Aixtron Is A Volatile Way To Play LED Growth

It's a stretch to say that LEDs are everywhere, but maybe not by much. LEDs are still generally too expensive for residential, commercial or municipal lighting, but pretty much every smartphone, tablet or notebook PC owner has an LED screen on their device, and likewise for many TV owners.

Given the considerable economic advantages, LED lighting is likely a "when, not if" proposition, and that should spur demand for the critical LED-making equipment that Aixtron (Nasdaq:AIXG) sells. The key question for investors, however, is whether the stock of a very volatile equipment maker like Aixtron is really the way to play the next run in LEDs.

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Investopedia: Steady Progress And Underapperciated Value At MetLife

With low rates and an uncertain regulatory environment still troubling investors, MetLife (NYSE:MET) shares have been on a slow boat to nowhere over the past year. Operating performance continues to improve faster than analysts expect, though, and MetLife's strong international operations should help build value in the coming years. While the risk of a MetLife position is asymmetrical (there's a higher likelihood of something going much worse than much better), I do believe these shares are undervalued and priced to deliver good returns over the long term.

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Investopedia: Weight Watchers Still Can't Get It Right

I generally try to consider both the positives and negatives of every stock I analyze, but that has gotten increasingly difficult with Weight Watchers (NYSE:WTW). I have long had my issues with this management team, and I believe management errors have finally started to take their toll on the valuation. While I do believe the brand carries considerable value and that this could be a highly attractive business if run properly, I have little confidence that this team can do it.

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Thursday, February 14, 2013

Investopedia: Coca-Cola's OK Results Won't KO The Stock

Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO) is pretty nearly bulletproof, so a so-so fourth quarter report and unexciting guidance won't likely change anything. For investors who like Coca-Cola, nothing has really changed about the long-term opportunities in selling sugar water to the world; and for the bears on Coca-Cola, the shares will still look pricey relative to the expected cash flow growth.

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Investopedia: Annie's Surfing A Rising Tide In Food

Annie's (NYSE:BNNY) looks like one of those companies that is destined to be controversial and frustrating for the skeptics. The company's business model is predicated on selling premium-priced packaged foods to customers who believe it's somehow better for them, and while skeptics will almost certainly question how sustainable that model is, plenty of companies have prospered for years by selling people on the notion that there is value in paying up for their particular products.

In the meantime, the more pressing financial questions revolve around the company's ability to successfully introduce new products and drive better margins while they do. Not surprisingly, the stock is no particular bargain today, but growth investors are not likely to abandon it for that particular reason.

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Seeking Alpha: Heinz May Be A Buffett Stock, But This Isn't A Buffett Price

I was not surprised to see that Warren Buffett chose to use Berkshire Hathaway's (BRK.A) considerable cash hoard to acquire another high-quality consumer brand that sees shoppers buy the same products over and over across decades. Insofar as brand quality, return on capital, and high-return growth potential, H.J. Heinz (HNZ) is a Buffett stock through and through. That said, the price that Buffett was willing to pay is pretty shocking to me.

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Heinz May Be A Buffett Stock, But This Isn't A Buffett Price

Seeking Alpha: America Movil Still A Buy After Painful Margin Squeeze

For short-term investors, America Movil's (AMX) fourth quarter report was a wreck. For long-term investors, though, I don't think it changes much of anything. Weaker margins are never a good thing, but America Movil is following a long-term gameplan for wireless voice and data growth, and its rivals are going to hard-pressed to compete so fiercely on price indefinitely. America Movil is by no means the growth stock it once was, but today's steep earnings-induced decline and long-term plan make it a more interesting name for GARP investors.

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America Movil Still A Buy After Painful Margin Squeeze

Seeking Alpha: Buy Cisco And Take Advantage Of A Change For The Better

Time is never kind to tech companies. Even those that manage to stay on the leading edge of technology and evolve with the times have to face that difficult transition from the "valuations don't matter" high-growth phase to the "how will they ever grow again?" lower growth phase. IBM (IBM) is probably the best example of that transition done right (though Oracle (ORCL) seems to be managing it quite well), while Microsoft (MSFT) and Intel (INTC) are still struggling to reorient themselves.

That brings us to Cisco (CSCO). Plenty of companies, ranging from F5 (FFIV) to Palo Alto (PANW) have looked to build their own fortunes by going straight at Cisco in particular markets and/or positioning themselves for evolving markets like software-defined networking (SDN). While Cisco will indeed never grow again like it used to, the Street's addiction to growth seems to be seriously underpricing Cisco's probable cash flow stream.

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Buy Cisco And Take Advantage Of A Change For The Better

Seeking Alpha: The Street Is Much Too Optimistic About Hospira

It's probably true that a company would be hard-pressed to do worse than Hospira (HSP) has managed in recent years, but it doesn't automatically follow that conditions will get quite a bit better. Hospira certainly could be a better company in a few years' time, but "could" is a dangerous word when it comes to investing. So although I am bullish on Hospira's opportunities in biosimilars, I struggle to come up with a scenario where this stock is priced to outperform.

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The Street Is Much Too Optimistic About Hospira

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Seeking Alpha: Lundbeck Could Cheer Up Patient Investors

H.Lundbeck (HLUYY.PK) isn't going to be an especially familiar name for many readers, as this Danish pharmaceutical company has largely sold through licensing partners in the United States. That said, this CNS specialist was the brains behind Forest Labs' (FRX) highly successful depression drug Lexapro, and the company has some particularly interesting drugs in its pipeline. While the company's go-to-market strategy is still a work in progress and patent expirations are likely going to cut deeply into cash flows in the short term, this looks like a potentially undervalued name to consider.

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Lundbeck Could Cheer Up Patient Investors

Investopedia: Riptides At Riverved Technology

If you invest long enough, you eventually get used to the idea that there can be a big difference between what analysts say and what they do. In the case of Riverbed Technology (Nasdaq:RVBD), there's ample skepticism about the company's ability to navigate a real slowdown in its core wide area network (WAN) optimization business and successfully produce a second act in application/network performance management.

While analysts say they're skeptical, the numbers they produce in their models point to significant growth potential at the company and real undervaluation. I've learned to be more skeptical of analysts' numbers than their "body language," and while Riverbed certainly has an opportunity to resume a good growth trajectory, that outlook has to be tempered with caution about its operational and execution capabilities.

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Investopedia: Hercules Offshore Seeing Better Days In The Gulf

The energy exploration and production business in the Gulf of Mexico has finally gotten back to something closer to normal, and that's good news for Hercules Offshore (Nasdaq:HERO). While the company's relatively low-spec rigs do limit the company's earnings potential (and the multiple investors should pay), it's also true that a rising tide lifts all boats and that the company is seeing improving day rates and contract lengths. Investors should be cautious about the run-up in energy services stocks, but Hercules could yet be a name worth following.

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Seeking Alpha: Deere: Mayan Apocalypse Never Materialized, But Mind The Valuation

Given what we've heard recently from companies like Deere (DE), Caterpillar (CAT), Monsanto (MON), Eaton (ETN), and Joy Global (JOY), it looks like it's better to serve the overall-wearing community (farmers) as opposed to the hardhat-wearing community (construction and mining). Deere delivered pretty strong performance from its ag business once again, and though management is often conservative it looks like 2013 will be a solid year. That said, Deere is one of those well-loved industrial stocks, so investors shouldn't turn a blind eye toward valuation.

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Deere: Mayan Apocalypse Never Materialized, But Mind The Valuation

Investopedia: Hess Has Good Assets, But What About Management?

Everybody loves a bargain, but it's always important to ask why a potential bargain is as cheap as it is. In the case of Hess (NYSE:HES), a diverse set of high-quality assets and a hefty weighting toward U.S. liquids and overseas natural gas would normally seem to be a very good thing. Management has seemed disturbingly lackadaisical about economic returns and capital allocation, though, and investors need to have a strong cause for believing that management can deliver growth in production and shareholder value before entering a position here.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Investopedia: ON Semiconductor Seems To Have Found Bottom

This has been a pretty mixed quarter for chip companies. Stalwarts with leverage to mobile devices, like Qualcomm (Nasdaq:QCOM), have held up pretty well, but it's been more challenging for the companies with broader market focuses. While ON Semiconductor's (Nasdaq:ONNN) reported earnings didn't look all that great at first blush, it does appear that the business has bottomed. More importantly, management has made good progress on improving both the growth and margin profile of the business for the next move up in the industry.
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Seeking Alpha: After The Twists And Turns, Sanofi Still A Value

It's been an interesting few days for Sanofi (SNY) and its shareholders. While the shares were thumped last week on what was seen as disappointing guidance, Monday saw a rebound on news of regulatory troubles at rival Novo Nordisk (NVO). Through it all, Sanofi still looks like a relative value and may in fact be one of the best bargains in the Big Pharma space.

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After The Twists And Turns, Sanofi Still A Value

Monday, February 11, 2013

Seeking Alpha: The FDA Throws Novo Nordisk Off Course

When I wrote on Novo Nordisk's (NVO) earnings and near-term outlook last week (Can Anything Stop Novo Nordisk?), the biggest near-term risk I cited (apart from the valuation) was the possibility that the FDA could reject the company's new drugs Tresiba and Ryzodeg and demand a pre-approval cardiovascular outcomes study (CVOT). This risk has come home to roost, as the FDA did indeed reject the drugs and cited both the lack of a CVOT and a warning letter as the reasons.

As of this writing, Novo Nordisk shares have sold off sharply on this disappointment. While the rejection of Tresiba likely doesn't significantly change Novo Nordisk's long-term earnings potential, it does alter the timing and the resulting fair value today. This setback could certainly represent one of those rare opportunities to acquire shares at a more reasonable price, but investors should note that a lot of unknowns remain and the indicated pre-market price as of this writing doesn't yet make these shares a bargain.

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The FDA Throws Novo Nordisk Off Course

Investopedia: A Step Back For Atmel, But The Potential Is Interesting

It's another one-step forward, one-step back quarter for Atmel (Nasdaq:ATML), as this mid-sized microcontroller specialist continues to struggle with increased commoditization in its touch controller market and a weak environment for chips in industrial and automotive markets. While these shares are likely to stay quite volatile on rumors of socket wins and losses, the company's technology is interesting and the valuation is not so demanding at present.

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Investopedia: FEI Still A Big Play On The Very Small

The big upswing in the market has swept up many high-quality names and taken a lot of value with it, including the shares of nanoscale microscopy specialist FEI (Nasdaq:FEIC). Fast-growing new markets and a recovery in the semiconductor industry offer significant long-term revenue generation opportunities, but order patterns can be lumpy. While not an obvious bargain today, these shares are nevertheless worth watching by investors looking for an analytical instruments company with broad industry exposure.

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Investopedia: Can ServiceSource Turn It Around?

ServiceSource (Nasdaq:SREV) has been a tough company to stand behind in its brief time as a public company. While it quickly ran from a debut price in the low teens to over $20 a share, successive disappointments have pummeled these shares into the single digits. That process has certainly taken a lot of the half-baked optimism out of sell-side projections and targets, but the question remains as to whether ServiceSource can deliver to a degree that makes it worthwhile for turnaround investors to consider.

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Saturday, February 9, 2013

Seeking Alpha: EnteroMedics May Get Approval, But Will It Get Sales?

Friday was not a good day for EnteroMedics (ETRM) shareholders. Although it would be a stretch to say that there was a real expectation that this company had a high-potential weight loss solution in its hands (the market cap was about $125 million prior to Friday's news), there were definitely some analysts and investors who thought that the company's VBLOC therapy and Maestro system had potential in treating morbidly obese individuals.

While the company's ReCharge study was a technical failure, there was evidence of efficacy from the device and the safety profile was pretty clean. Even so, convincing the FDA to approve this system may not even be the biggest issue for the company. The bigger issue is whether the company can sell physicians, insurance companies, and ultimately patients on the device.

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EnteroMedics May Get Approval, But Will It Get Sales?

Seeking Alpha: A Stumble In Tonnage May Be An Opportunity At Old Dominion

Even the best-run companies occasionally trip, and that's likely the most important take-away from Old Dominion's (ODFL) fourth quarter results. While it was disappointing to see the company's operating ratio reverse for the first time in three years, nothing about what has made Old Dominion one of the best in the less-than-truckload (LTL) business has changed. Although trucking companies don't have the best reputations when it comes to free cash flow generation or returns on capital, I believe that Old Dominion is, and will be, the notable exception, and that this uncommon earnings miss could offer a narrow window of opportunity.

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A Stumble In Tonnage May Be An Opportunity At Old Dominion

Seeking Alpha: Accuray Buys Some Breathing Room, But Orders Need To Materialize

Investors had already braced themselves for a bad quarter and a near-total reset of expectations at small med-tech company Accuray (ARAY), and the company actually came through with a slightly better quarter. Even so, investors apparently didn't like the fact that management didn't improve its order or revenue guidance, and/or the announcement of a $100 million convertible debt offering.

I've spoken at some length regarding my frustrations with Accuray, and my continued interest (and ownership) in the stock comes down to this - Accuray has developed some radiation therapy systems that offer solid advantages over the systems sold by Varian (VAR) and Elekta (EKTAY.PK). If the company can effectively manufacture, market, and support these systems, the shares are undervalued today. There's still a real window of opportunity for this company to become a player in the radiation therapy space, but the window is closing and the company needs to deliver over the 12-18 months, or there may be little left.

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Accuray Buys Some Breathing Room, But Orders Need To Materialize

Friday, February 8, 2013

Seeking Alpha: High-Quality Glaxo Could Still Have Something Left

Back in the summer of 2012, I thought investors would do well to give GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) a pass, as the investment community was down on the company's near-term earnings momentum and worried about pricing developments in Europe. As it happens, Glaxo was one of the weakest Big Pharma stocks since then.

That was then, and this is now. Although revenue is likely to remain pressured next year and a billion-pound cost-cutting program is a long-term contributor at best, Glaxo could be getting more interesting. The company should have multiple high-potential product launches this year and data on multiple high-risk/high-reward Phase programs. Pricing pressure and threats to COPD franchise are both risks (as is Wall Street disinterest with sluggish near-term earnings growth prospects), but this stock looks incrementally more interesting these days.

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High-Quality Glaxo Could Still Have Something Left

Seeking Alpha: Post-Tysabri, Will Elan Waste The Windfall?

It was no secret that Biogen Idec (BIIB) wanted to gain 100% control of the successful MS drug Tysabri, but it was likewise no secret that the company had virtually no interest in acquiring its partner Elan (ELN). As a result, Wednesday's announcement that Biogen Idec will buy all rights to Tysabri looks like a win for the company, provided the drug continues to grow.

The question is whether Elan shareholders will really benefit from this deal. Pulling forward the Tysabri revenue stream certainly de-risks part of the story, but now investors have to contend with the question of how management will handle that cash. At this point, I'm not optimistic as the plans laid out by Elan management suggest that they have a much higher opinion of their capabilities than the facts would seem to support.

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Post-Tysabri, Will Elan Waste The Windfall?

Investopedia: Disney Has A Stable Of Horses To Ride

While the quality of global entertainment and media giant Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) is generally taken as a given, the company has always been a little more erratic in terms of margins, cash flows and returns on capital than most companies of its size and reputation. These variances are largely a byproduct of the nature of the business (particularly hit movies), but they can still create opportunities for investors. Disney seldom gets very cheap, and the company has multiple levers to improve results over the coming years. But investors should keep their eyes open for a chance to pick up shares should the stock stumble on transitory bad news.

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Investopedia: Chipotle Still Getting The Benefit Of The Doubt

Last year was a rough one for Chipotle Mexican Grill (NYSE:CMG). Once a nearly bulletproof growth story, a sharp slowdown in traffic and store comps growth expectations took large chunks out of the stock on multiple occasions. Investors are slow to abandon growth stories (at least outside of tech), and these shares enjoyed a 30% rally to close out the year. Consequently, it's not easy to make a value call on the shares today, and investors should be wary of the expectations that traffic growth will accelerate in the second half of the year.

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Investopedia: Kellog Back In Its Groove

Once a dependable performer in the food category, Kellogg (NYSE:K) has had some challenges and stumbles of late. Management hasn't just tossed around buzzwords and waited in the hopes of things getting better on their own. Instead, the company moved ahead on an aggressive deal in acquiring Pringles and has been actively restructuring the business and investing in brand-building. The Street has already rewarded these efforts to some extent and the shares aren't exactly cheap, but increased confidence and a return to past multiples could offer some further gains from here.

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Thursday, February 7, 2013

Seeking Alpha: Cummins Getting A Lot Of Benefit Of The Doubt

With the stock up almost 40% from its October 2012 lows and less than 10% from its 52-week high, it seems safe to say that investors are feeling pretty good about Cummins' (CMI) recovery prospects. Though I have little doubt that anything is changing in regards to the company's top-notch quality, I do wonder if investors are too quick to assume that emerging market growth is just going to go back to where it was. I would love to accumulate these shares at attractive prices, but today's valuation already assumes a pretty optimistic scenario.

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Cummins Getting A Lot Of Benefit Of The Doubt

Seeing Alpha: Cooper Broadens Eaton Opportunities, But 2013 Could Still Be Tough

Eaton (ETN) has long been a well-regarded industrial conglomerate, so it's not too surprising that the stock has ridden the market upswing and delivered a one-third return just since the mid-fall of 2012. Looking ahead, there are still several valid reasons to be positive on these shares, including significant emerging market growth, leverage to a domestic construction recovery, and the opportunity to boost margins. Although it may be hard for some investors to reconcile the stock near its 52-week high while its end markets are still looking weak, Eaton looks like a relative bargain in a value-starved sector.

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Cooper Broadens Eaton Opportunities, But 2013 Could Still Be Tough

Seeking Alpha: TAVR Is Real (And Maybe Spectacular), But Edwards Lifesciences Isn't A Bargain

Once again I seem to have underestimated how Wall Street's love of a good story can overpower and outweigh the likely long-term economic returns from that story. In the case of Edwards Lifesciences (EW), I have never doubted that transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) (also called "... valve implantation" or TAVI) was going to be successful, nor that Edwards' Sapien would be a major player.

What I doubted was whether Wall Street would keep pumping up the valuation it was willing to pay. With Edwards being one of the relatively few double-digit organic growth stories in med-tech, the stock is up about 30% since my last skeptical piece - not all that much better than other med-tech names like Medtronic (MDT) or Boston Scientific (BSX) in what has been a strong med-tech market, but 30% is 30%. Even still, while I have no problem forecasting double-digit free cash flow growth for Edwards, I still don't see a compelling valuation here.

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TAVR Is Real (And Maybe Spectacular), But Edwards Lifesciences Isn't A Bargain

Investopedia: Yum! Brands Still Has Indigestion, But Investors Have An Opportunity

Yum! Brands (NYSE:YUM) has stumbled into a perfect storm in China. Concerns about contaminated chicken at what is still a relatively expensive dining option have sent Chinese same-store sales plunging, robbing the company of its primary growth driver. The company has reset expectations significantly lower for 2013, and now the question is just how quickly (and perhaps "if") the company can put this stumble behind it. In the meantime, investors are looking at the nearest thing to a bargain in the shares as they are likely to see.

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Investopedia: Barring Disaster, Anadarko Looks Too Cheap

If it were only a question of the quality of its oil and gas operations, Anadarko Petroleum (NYSE:APC) would be an easy stock to like at today's price. In the case of this company, that's a whopper of an "if," as litigation over Tronox (NYSE:TROX) nears its end and brings a large range of potential outcomes. Although Anadarko looks too cheap based on its energy operations, any investors looking to exploit that discount must be prepared for the potential that an adverse ruling could seriously dent the stock.

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Investopedia: Pricey Today, IDEX Deserves A Spot On Watchlists

The recent strong performance by the stock markets has reduced the number of appealingly priced stocks to choose from these days. That certainly fits IDEX (NYSE:IEX), as this mid-cap industrial conglomerate has ridden a one-third move in its stock price to a recent new 52-week high. Although not so expensive that it's a short or a must-sell, patient investors may want to relegate this name to a watch list. The company's deep customer relationships and diverse industrial exposures are attractive, but not necessarily at today's valuation.

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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Seeking Alpha: Expectations Improving Faster Than Results At Emerson

I can understand why investors would be excited by the possibility of better results at Emerson (EMR). Although this industrial conglomerate has been a middle-of-the-pack performer, the company's high exposure to emerging markets (and China in particular) makes it a good name to turn to when looking for growth or recovery prospects. That said, this quarter shows that Emerson is still Emerson and for every step forward, there seems to always be at least a little simultaneous scoot backwards.

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Expectations Improving Faster Than Results At Emerson

Seeking Alpha: M&A Chatter Shouldn't Obscure Better Results At Life Tech

Life Technologies (LIFE) may or may not find a deal to its liking and shuffle off the coil of publicly -traded companies. Consequently, investors shouldn't completely lose sight of the underlying fundamentals at this lead life sciences company. Those fundamentals are actually looking pretty good right now, though the chatter around a possible transaction has pushed the shares to a point where there's not much fundamental value left.

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M&A Chatter Shouldn't Obscure Better Results At Life Tech

Investopedia: Exxon Mobil Looking Steady, But Not Spectacular

It's hard to find too many bad things to say about Exxon Mobil (NYSE:XOM). Not only does Exxon have the best historical returns on capital of the energy majors, the company also has established itself as an efficient converter of oil and gas to cash flow and dividends. Though costs are rising, returns on energy projects are falling, and production growth is not looking very robust. Exxon can still fill a role as a go-to energy major for investors who want exposure to the energy space.

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Investopedia: Chevron Deserves A Better Valuation

Like other energy majors, Chevron (NYSE:CVX) is trapped in a Wall Street catch-22. Analysts and investors are quick to complain about the low expected production growth rates in the sector, but they complain even louder when the companies announce higher capex budgets to exploit and develop their sizable reserves. Even so, Chevron looks too cheap when compared to peers like Exxon Mobil (NYSE:XOM) and ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP). Sizable investments have pressured recent returns, but the long-term growth and value-creation potential at Chevron looks better than just worthwhile.

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Investopedia: Oracle Adds Some Surprising Hardware Assets In Acme Packet

Oracle (Nasdaq:ORCL) has given investors ample reminders that the company intends to be an active acquirer for the foreseeable future. Likewise, management has made no secret of its intention to expand its hardware assets and its desire to add product/industry verticals to its model. Oracle achieved all of the above with Monday's surprising announcement that the company will acquire session border controller specialist Acme Packet (Nasdaq:APKT) in an all-cash deal.

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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Seeking Alpha: Can Anything Stop Novo Nordisk?

Novo Nordisk (NVO) is a company for the record books and MBA lesson plans. This Danish biopharmaceueticals company doesn't try to do very many things, but it does them very, very well. With modest near-term competitive risks and substantial potential value in the pipeline, operationally there is little to fear at Novo Nordisk. The question for investors, as is so often the case with this stock, is what is the proper price to pay for that excellence.

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Can Anything Stop Novo Nordisk?

Seeking Alpha: Investors Have Bought Ingersoll Rand's Sizzle, Can They Deliver The Steak?

I'll give credit where it's due - the involvement of Nelson Peltz and his Trian Fund Management, and the willingness of Ingersoll Rand's (IR) management to embrace that involvement, has definitely delivered substantial near-term benefits to shareholders. These shares are up more than 40% over the past year as management has committed itself to a greater return of capital, improved operating efficiency, and the spin-off of its security business.

Things may even get better from here. There are actual signs of progress in margins, even though the company remains heavily exposed to end-markets (residential and commercial construction) that are not yet out of their trough. Even so, it looks like investors have already given management ample benefit of the doubt and fiddling with the balance sheet really doesn't seem likely to produce long-term value.

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Investors Have Bought Ingersoll Rand's Sizzle, Can They Deliver The Steak?

Investopedia: Investors Still Highly Prize Hershey's Consistent Growth

Hershey (NYSE:HSY) may not be a sure thing strictly speaking, but there aren't many companies out there with its history of consistent revenue and dividend growth. International growth is still a valid talking point, as is valuation, but Hershey looks like one of the better volume growth stories in the food sector right now.

Fourth Quarter Results Fueled by Volume and Ads
Hershey had an interesting fourth quarter from a financial perspective. Revenue rose 12% as reported, whereas most investors were looking for 9% growth (including the Brookside deal). Volume jumped 7%, well ahead of expectations of 2-3% growth, and pricing improved over 2%. That makes Hershey one of the strongest volume growth stories in food right now, and perhaps a leading indicator that shoppers have adjusted to years of price resets.

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Investopedia: Mead Johnson Nutrition's Valuation Looks Bloated

Investors are almost always willing to pay up for growth, particularly when it's in a sector where growth can otherwise be hard to come by. But Mead Johnson Nutrition (NYSE:MJN) shares seem to take that a little too far. There's no arguing that the company's heavy exposure to faster-growing emerging markets is a big plus, not to mention its strong share in what is effectively becoming a global oligopoly. Even so, investors shouldn't ignore the risk of further margin pressure and the possibility that they're paying too much for these shares.

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Investopedia: Are Good Orders Just The Beginning For Cameron?

Investors who want to get involved in the energy sector have to accept that a lot of the driving principles stand on pretty shaky ground. For instance, orders are often considerably more powerful in moving the stocks than actual revenues or margins, and despite its severe deficiencies, EBITDA is generally the favored valuation tool. As a result, talking about oil services company Cameron (NYSE:CAM) as a good or bad stock today depends a lot on what an investor chooses to value.

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Investopedia: Illinois Tool Works Still Has Work To Do

Between the company's December analyst day and the general market melt-up, shares of Illinois Tool Works (NYSE:ITW) made a fresh 52-week high on Jan. 28. Management used that analyst day to highlight some logical steps toward better growth, margins and returns for the long term, but these fourth quarter results serve as a reminder that self-improvement programs don't usually follow smooth lines. Illinois Tool Works has long been a solid generator of free cash flow and returns on capital, but investors may want to pause before chasing this stock further.

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Investopedia: Broadcom Stumbles, But The Street Forgives

The next time Wall Street is fair will be the first time, but I imagine investors in some of the beaten-up tech stocks are looking at Broadcom (Nasdaq:BRCM) with a little envy or resentment. Although Broadcom's guidance for the next quarter was pretty soft, as the Street basically shrugged it off and gave the company/stock a pass. Broadcom enjoys tremendous support among sell-side analysts, but the company still looks like an appealing play on growth in the mobile/wireless, networking and home connectivity markets.

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Investopedia: Can Offshore Continue To Offset Weaker Onshore Trends At National Oilwell Varco?

With multiple reports in hand, it looks like a few themes have emerged in the energy equipment space. Order growth is fine, but margins have become more problematic. Given that orders tend to drive these stocks, that works out well for investors today. Still, investors considering National Oilwell Varco (NYSE:NOV) need to consider the opportunities in offshore in the context of challenging conditions in the onshore industry.

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Monday, February 4, 2013

Seeking Alpha: Merck's Discount Comes At A Price

There are very few cheap pharma companies these days, which basically means that investors need to either be willing to take on more risk or accept lower returns. With some recent pipeline setbacks and a patent expiration pressuring 2013 results, it's not necessarily easy to make the case for investing in Merck (MRK). I believe the market may be underrating that pipeline, however, as well as management's willingness to get a little more aggressive in seeking out near-term growth. With a relatively undemanding valuation, Merck may not offer huge upside, but it does look like something of a bargain in the space.

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Merck's Discount Comes At A Price

Investopedia: The Next Energy Debate - Should The U.S. Pass Gas?

Energy is an essential component to modern life, so it's not all that surprising that there are heated debates over energy policy. In years past, the United States has seen debates over energy efficiency (and the extent to which the government should require/force it), renewable energy, whether to subsidize biofuels, whether and where to build more refineries, whether to drill in protected areas, whether to permit fracking and so on.

Now a new debate is heating up and pitting industry against industry. The question is whether the U.S. government should place any limits on exports of natural gas in the form of liquefied natural gas (LNG). Potentially billions of dollars are at stake and the resolution of this question will go a long way toward determining just who claims those billions.

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Friday, February 1, 2013

Investopedia: No Signs That EMC Is Losing The Storage Wars

Investors should have been well-prepared for EMC Corporation (NYSE:EMC) to disappoint with its fourth quarter results and 2013 guidance, as seemingly every sell-side analyst downgraded the stock in December or January. While near-term bears are likely right that the storage market is going to get more turbulent, EMC remains the market leader and an uncommonly responsive company to emerging/changing trends. EMC doesn't look like a stock that's going to ring up sizable gains in the first half of 2013, but long-term investors can find a lot to like here.

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Investopedia: A Solid Showing Shores Up Fortinet

This has been a feast-or-famine sort of quarter of tech investors, and Check Point Software Technologies Ltd.'s (Nasdaq:CHKP) feeble quarterly results certainly had investors wondering what sort of quarter Fortinet Inc. (Nasdaq:FTNT) was going to report. Apparently they needn't have worried, as this fast-growing security hardware specialist came through. While Fortinet's valuation doesn't scream bargain, aggressive investors could still find opportunity here.

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Investopedia: Uncertainty Over Facebook's Emerging Model Will Keep Things Interesting

It wasn't so long ago that Facebook Inc. (Nasdaq:FB) was a Wall Street pinata, but the shares found their footing in November and have risen roughly 50% since then. While the company's fourth quarter results do show the impressive growth potential in the business, there are still significant questions left unanswered as to whether the company can better monetize its user base, while maintaining that delicate balance with customer service. Given the wide spread in analyst estimates, it seems likely that Facebook is going to remain an interesting and volatile story for a while yet.

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Investopedia: Forget Apple Vs. Samsung, Qualcomm Wins Either Way

Sometimes it makes more sense to take a side bet instead of trying to figure out the outcome of the main event. Everybody has an opinion and how the battle between Apple Inc. (Nasdaq:AAPL), Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., and others in mobile devices will play out, but nobody knows. On the other hand, it's quite a bit harder to envision how Qualcomm Incorporated (Nasdaq:QCOM) doesn't win in any of those scenarios. While there will always be some questions surrounding QCOM (Why isn't there more operating leverage? How is Apple's unit growth tracking? Will Broadcom Corp (Nasdaq:BRCM) grab share?), I believe Qualcomm remains a very good stock to own, so long as you believe in the overriding idea of growth in the mobile device market.

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