Friday, November 25, 2011

Family Dollar Stores Earnings Cheat Sheet: Third Straight Quarter of Rising Profit

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Buy And Hold Isn’t Dead, Just Misunderstood
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Every once in a while, a bunch of doomsayers pop up proclaiming the demise of buy and hold. This tends to happen more often during times of heavy volatility and uncertainty in the market, such as over the past few months. Some of these folks like to follow up with testaments to the superiority of whizbang new investment strategies, with names like “buy and watch” or “buy and monitor.” The problem isn’t that they’re wrong – on the contrary, they’re absolutely right. The problem is that the concept of “buy and hold” that they’re attacking is nothing more than a strawman. It’s easy to win when you’re dueling a scarecrow, because straw doesn’t fight back.

Let’s look at some articles here on SA that have been published recently: Investors Should Not Be Complacent About Dividend Champions, by James Kostohryz, and Why Picking A Stock To Hold Forever Is Folly: The Apple/Cisco Case, by Roger Nusbaum. First, let me say that Mr. Kostohryz and Mr. Nusbaum are both excellent writers who provide many articles of value to the investment community. I read both of them regularly and will continue to do so. However, both of the articles cited above pick on a premise that was never true to begin with: that the buy-and-hold investment style encourages investors to hang on to their stocks ad infinitum after they’ve bought them, without paying any attention to how the underlying businesses are doing.

The first and most important rule of buy-and-hold is to know your investments. That includes knowing when to get out. It’s very possible for traditional buy-and-hold investors who follow the school of long-term value investing to dump a stock one quarter after they purchased it. Their investment thesis may have been wrong. The fundamentals of the company may have changed. Unforeseen challenges to the business may have materialized. Such an action doesn’t diminish the validity of their strategy.

The “hold” of buy-and-hold refers to intent, not a guaranteed outcome. In this way, buy-and-hold investing is kind of like marriage. When we marry, most of us intend and hope to stay hitched for good. When long term investors buy a stock, we hope that the company will continue to grow and remain competitive forever. We select the partner/companies that have the best chance of making that hope a reality.

Of course, a lot of the time it doesn’t turn out that way. When you find out that the person you married is not who you thought they were, sometimes the best thing to do is to walk away. When you find out that the business you bought is no longer as strong a competitor as it once was, it may be time to cash in your chips and move to another table.

A character in a great movie once said, “On a long enough timeline, the life expectancy of everyone drops to zero.” The same is true of businesses. Of the original Dow stocks, only General Electric (GE) remains, and the financial crisis was a pretty close call for GE. Competitive destruction is one of the ugliest, but most fundamental forces of free market capitalism. It doesn’t matter how good you are, eventually someone better is going to come along to pick a fight with you, and then it’s game over. Nothing immunizes a company from the omnipresent threat of competitive destruction. Not a fat dividend, not a wide moat, not a fortress balance sheet. Eventually, all companies must die.

Buy-and-hold investors understand this, which is why the first principle of buy-and-hold is what it is. The more intimately familiar you are with a company’s operations, prospects, and financial health, the more likely it is that you’ll recognize when it’s time to take your money off the table. No one who actively practices buy-and-hold investing is under the delusion that they must hold on to their stocks forever no matter what happens. Some investors do a portfolio check-up more often than others, but the only investment vehicles that you can just dump money into and then forget about are index funds.

The only reason this is true is because index funds aren’t really completely passive. Every stock in an index was added there by a person, and stocks get removed when they no longer fit the profile of the index. When you buy an index ETF like the SPDR S&P 500 (SPY) or the iShares MSCI EAFE (EFA), you’re not holding on to your investments forever either, because the indexes get reshuffled every so often: new companies get added in, faltering companies get taken out. Index investors can afford to be less vigilant because they have the company behind the index acting as their portfolio manager. Investors who choose to pick their own stocks benefit from no such proxy.

If you’re not the kind of investor who has the time to stay on top of his portfolio 24/7, there are a lot of companies out there that operate under safeguards that make it less necessary to keep tabs on them all the time. Alcoa (AA) plies its trade in a capital intensive industry that poses formidable barriers to entry. Cisco (CSCO) has a huge war chest stuffed with cash, which helps to buffer against economic assault (though a technology stock is never really a safe investment no matter its balance sheet). Ford (F) benefits from great leadership that steered it through a market downturn that swallowed up most of its competitors. The more capable your managers are, the less risk you assume with a hands off approach to ownership. Finally, Intel (INTC) offers an unrivaled dividend yield compared to its industry peers that continues to grow, which means that by the time cracks begin to appear in the company’s foundation, investors may have already made their money back and more through dividends alone.

These companies may have an edge over their competitors in terms of stability, but there’s no such thing as a safe investment, only safer. You can call it buy-and-hold, buy-and-watch, buy-and-monitor, or whatever new catchphrase the news streams serve up, but in the end, it amounts to the same thing: buying great companies at a reasonable price, and letting them go when they’re no longer great companies at a reasonable price.

Times may change, but the fundamental ideas of value investing, of buy-and-hold investing will continue to remain relevant so long as people in society continue to make money by selling their stuff to other people.

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, but may initiate a long position in F over the 2next 72 hours.
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Infosys Up 6% As FYQ2 EPS Beats, Year View Tops Estimates
by admin under best forever stocks, best gold stock for 2012, best shares to invest in 2012, best silver stocks to buy 2012, best stocks investments for 2012, best stocks to buy now for 2012, best stocks to hold 2012, best stocks to invest, Best stocks to invest in 2011, best stocks to invest in 2012, Best stocks to invest right now, best stocks to pick up, good silver stocks 2012, good stocks to invest in 2012, great stocks to invest in 2012, hot penny stocks for 2012, hot stocks for 2011, stock selection for 2012, stocks to invest in 2012

Shares of Infosys (INFY) are up $3.34, or 6%, at $56 after the company this morning beat fiscal Q2 earnings per share estimates, and forecast Q3 profit ahead of expectations, and projected the year’s results ahead of consensus.

Revenue in the three months ended in September rose 17% to $1.75 billion, yielding EPS of 72 cents. Analysts had been modeling $1.75 billion and 69 cents.

CEO S.D. Shibulal remarked that the “global macroeconomic environment is still uncertain,” and that it “is and should be a concern for the IT industry.”

For Q3, the company sees revenue in a range of $1.8 billion to $1.84 billion, and EPS of 79 cents to 80 cents. That is a little light on the top line compared to the average $1.85 billion estimate, but ahead of the average 75-cent EPS estimate.

For the year, the company sees revenue of $7.1 billion to $7.2 billion, and EPS of $3.02 to $3.06. That is ahead of the average estimate for $7.1 billion and $2.88 per share.
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Family Dollar Stores Earnings Cheat Sheet: Third Straight Quarter of Rising Profit
by admin under best shares to invest in 2012, best stocks investments for 2012, best stocks to buy now for 2012, best stocks to hold 2012, best stocks to invest, Best stocks to invest in 2011, best stocks to invest in 2012, Best stocks to invest right now, best stocks to pick up, best way to invest in 2012, good stocks to invest in 2012, great stocks to invest in 2012, hot penny stocks for 2012

S&P 500 (NYSE:SPY) component Family Dollar Stores Inc. (NYSE:FDO) reported its results for the fourth quarter. Family Dollar Stores operates more than 6,600 retail discount stores across the U.S., offering consumables, home products, apparel accessories, seasonal and electronics.

Investing Insights: Steve Jobs Prepares to Deliver a New Catalyst for Apple’s Stock.

Family Dollar Stores Earnings Cheat Sheet for the Fourth Quarter

Results: Net income for the discount store rose to $79.8 million (66 cents per share) vs. $74 million (56 cents per share) in the same quarter a year earlier. This marks a rise of 8% from the year earlier quarter.

Revenue: Rose 9.1% to $2.13 billion from the year earlier quarter.

Actual vs. Wall St. Expectations: FDO beat the mean analyst estimate of 63 cents per share. Analysts were expecting revenue of $2.12 billion.

Quoting Management: “A year ago we launched an ambitious, multi-year plan to accelerate revenue growth, expand operating margins and optimize our capital structure, and I am pleased to announce that we have executed well against our plans in a very difficult operating environment,” said Howard Levine, Chairman and CEO.

Key Stats:

The company has now seen net income rise in three straight quarters. In the third quarter, net income rose 6.5% and in the second quarter, the figure rose 9.8%.

Gross margin shrank 0.7 percentage point to 34%. The contraction appeared to be driven by increased costs, which rose 10.2% from the year earlier quarter while revenue rose 9.1%.

Revenue has risen the past four quarters. Revenue increased 7.8% to $2.15 billion in the third quarter. The figure rose 8.3% in the second quarter from the year earlier and climbed 9.5% in the first quarter from the year-ago quarter.

The company topped expectations last quarter after falling short of forecasts in the third quarter with net income of 91 cents versus a mean estimate of net income of 94 cents per share.

Competitors to Watch: Dollar General Corp. (NYSE:DG), 99 Cents Only Stores (NYSE:NDN), Dollar Tree, Inc. (NASDAQ:DLTR), Big Lots, Inc. (NYSE:BIG), Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT), Target Corporation (NYSE:TGT), Fred’s, Inc. (NASDAQ:FRED), Costco Wholesale Corp. (NASDAQ:COST), Gordmans Stores, Inc. (NASDAQ:GMAN), and Amazing Savings, Inc (ODDJ).

Investing Insights: Steve Jobs Prepares to Deliver a New Catalyst for Apple’s Stock.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Top Stocks of 2012 Aflac (AFL)

Top Stocks of 2012
“Aflac (NYSE: AFL) is best known in the U.S. for its ‘duck ads,’ but actually earns over 75% of its money from Japan,” says Dirk Van Dijk.
In selecting the stock as his top pick for 2012, the strategist for, recalls “Aflac happens to be an old favorite of mine, a stock that I first recommended back in 1991.” Here’s his current update.
“In the U.S., its policies are sold through employers on a payroll deduction, as part of companies ‘cafeteria plans’. They are pretty straight forward. If you get sick and can’t work, or are in the hospital, it pays out a set mount directly to the insured.
“It is thus not at risk for rising health care costs (but is if more people get sick). The U.S. unit was under some pressure as payrolls shrank, but with some positive news on the employment front, that should turn around.
“In Japan, once people get AFL insurance they don’t drop it (which is very important in the life and health insurance industry) with a persistency rate of 95%.
“The firm has a superb track record, but came under big pressure during the crash last year due to fears about its investment portfolio. I think those fears are being assuaged over time.
“It has already realized $1.7 billion (pre-tax) in investment losses. Some of those are not going to come back, like its holdings in Lehman Brothers and WAMU, but other parts of the holdings that were written down just might come back.
“Aflac did however write down $380 million as other than temporary losses in holdings of some Ford debt, and Ford has been doing much better of late, certainly much better that it looked back at the end of the first quarter when GM and Chrysler were going down for the count.
“The company has generated an ROE of 33.4% over the last 12 months, and its five year average ROE is 20.84% (it has leveraged up a bit, from having no debt to a still very manageable and conservative 22% debt to capital. As that happens AFL should return to its historic valuations.
“How much upside potential is that? A Lot. Over the last five years (which of course included the big sell o? last year) AFL’s P/E has averaged 15.4x.
“Based on 2010 earnings estimates it is going for 9.5x now, and 8.7X 2012 consensus estimates, and those estimates have been rising.
“AFL also has a habit of beating the estimates. It has done so the last three times out, and in 17 of the last 28 quarters, with only five disappointments.
“AFL currently yields 2.4%, which is nice. It has however, increased that dividend in each of the last 27 years, and over the last 15 years it has done so at a compound annual rate of 20.7%.
“AFL happens to be an old favorite of mine, a stock that I first recommended back in 1991, and was a core holding for most of my tenure at C.H. Dean. I know the management team well from those days, and they are amongst the best I know in the industry.”

Sunday, November 20, 2011

3 Undervalued Tech Stocks to Buy Now

When investors see the words “undervalued tech stocks,” the first companies that jump to mind are probably the mega-cap giants like Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO) and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT). The large-cap space certainly has more than its share of cheap tech stocks, but a look into mid- and small-cap territory reveals other, less talked-about opportunities. Computer Sciences (NYSE:CSC), Lexmark International (NYSE:LXK), and China Digital TV (NYSE:STV), are three such stocks that deserve more attention than they receive.

Computer Sciences

Shares of CSC, an IT-outsourcing company, have been pummeled from a February high above $56 to $37.20 on Wednesday. The stock has been hit by less-than-stellar earnings results and concerns that the U.S. government’s perilous fiscal situation will weigh on the 39% of CSC’s business that comes from federal contracts. That’s undoubtedly a legitimate worry, but also one that is well-known at this point. At 7.3 times 2012 estimates (and a price-to-earnings-to-growth ratio of 0.9) and a share price sitting at 0.8 times book value, it appears that the bad news is fully discounted in the stock. Two other key points regarding CSC: first, the stock yields 2.2% – much better than you’ll find with the average large-cap tech stock. Second, the company is cash-rich and is frequently mentioned as a target of a buyout. Betting on a takeover is always a dicey proposition, but CSC offers investors a solid risk-reward tradeoff even without the benefit of a buyout.

Keep in mind: The last time CSC’s P/E was at this level, the stock traded up 25% in less than two months.

Lexmark International

A maker of printers, ink, and imaging products, Lexmark has seen its shares come under heavy selling pressure since late 2010 – a trend that wasn’t helped by its May earnings miss. While the printing business is indeed in gradual decline, it may finally be time to say “enough is enough” regarding the downturn in Lexmark’s share price. After hitting a high above $47 in mid-October, the stock now stands at $28.62. At this level, the stock trades at forward P/E of less than 7x, and removing the net cash of $7 a share (about a quarter of its market cap) on its balance sheet brings the P/E below 5.5x. A low P/E can be a trap when growth is slowing, of course, but the company’s core ink business continues to generate substantial free cash flow. And like CSC, Lexmark has the added benefit of being a strong candidate for an eventual takeover.

Keep in mind: The recent selloff has driven LXK’s valuation to its lowest level in history.

China Digital TV

The smallest of the three companies discussed here, China Digital could offer big potential to patient investors. The company makes smart cards that allow the conversion of an analog signal to digital. A boring business perhaps, but consider that China is the world’s largest TV market with 377 million viewing households. Of these, 187 million have cable and only 90 million currently have a digital signal. This adds up to a stellar growth opportunity for a company with no debt and over 70% of its market cap accounted for by the $214 million of cash on its balance sheet. The stock trades for less than 7x 2012 earnings estimates and a PEG of just over 0.4. Chinese stocks are not without risk, as 2011 has taught us, but patient investors who tune into STV may be in for quite a show.

Keep in Mind: Like LXK, CSC trades at an all-time low P/E.

Technology investing has been no picnic for investors thus far in 2011, but these stocks provide a compelling margin of safety in the event of further volatility in the months ahead.