Monday, August 20, 2012

Updating Old Coverage and Introducing a New Favorite Group of Stocks

With family having left, I wanted to update the topic of recent posts. 

AAPL:  I penned a bullish note pre-earnings.  Sales and earnings disappointed, but leaks of upcoming product intros have spurred a massive rally.  This has occurred on significant declines in current quarter and next fiscal year estimates from the analysts.  AAPL fans are not deterred.  40% yoy increase in earnings estimates are expected from a number of members of an AAPL-oriented forum in which I participate, whereas analysts are looking for perhaps half that yoy gain.  For the first time since I started blogging enthusiastically about AAPL in spring 2010 around $250/share,  except for the period of uncertainty regarding SJ's illness/impending demise, I think that AAPL is a good but not great stock going forward-- though it is a great company.  I'd like to see more fear and improving fundamentals to think it's a great stock prospectively, which are situations I see with several other companies that unlike AAPL are well off prior highs though along with Apple they have record sales and earnings.

I have handled the commodities situation well so far, as well.  I stood back from PPLT and PALL a couple of months ago when they just didn't act right.  However, platinum was already at the marginal cost of production for a number of mines.  Probably, similar for palladium, which is a thinner market.

As soon as I read about the tragedy at the Lonmin mine in South Africa, with dozens of people shot dead by police for protesting, I bought the early surge up in PPLT from lower levels than where it had been when last I blogged on it.  I also bought PALL, which trades with PPLT.  These stocks (commodities) are "acting well".  I speculate that even in a "sluggish" global economy, these industrial (and ornamental) metals are going to rise over time.  In the short run, Johnson Matthey put out a report around March of this year suggesting that platinum would like sell around $1600 this fall, and palladium would be around $715 (per ounce prices).  They know the market super-well and have had a good track record on price projections so far as I have seen.  These are thus both "value" metals and I think they can be bought here despite the recent price surge.

Of my current favorite stocks, one is old, two are new.  Old is Con Ed (ED), which after hitting an all-time high took a tumble correlated with the sell-off in T-bonds and the NAZ surge.  Relative strength collapsed to 14 from a period of time at above 80.  Yet the fundos are fine operationally, earnings are rising.  Unbelievably for this boring company, Value Line's computer gives it above average price potential (rank 2) and a technical ranking also of 2.  I have been getting Value Line for decades.  If Con Ed has ever been a #2 for timeliness of stock price movement, I can't remember it.

Remember, ED is a bond substitute in my book.  I continue to foresee it trading to a 3% dividend yield, even in a scenario in which the 10-year T-bond rate rises to 2.5%.  I have no idea when this might occur.  (I thus see little need for most investors to hold bonds.) 

New entrants, and my current momentum favorites, are AGU and CF.  These fertilizer companies have P/E's below 10, strong financial strength, and rising earnings estimates.  CF has the best stock chart around.  AGU looks strong, as well.  AGU has the advantage here of having a catalyst.  Jana, a hedge fund, is an activist shareholder with a 5% stake.  They want AGU broken up, as it has a large global farm retail division.  I like ag over consumer electronics here.  One has shortages, the other is moving to saturation in parts of the world that don't require low prices to buy the product.

Getting back to electronics, the other strategic (not necessarily tactical) fave I have are the telecoms that are "doing well".  These include T, VZ and BCE.  These can be yield stocks when the market again starts to worry about growth, but they participate in the growth of data usage, etc. etc. from the spreading use of mobile devices.  All are rising out of bases on the stock charts, offer over 4% dividends which are expected to rise, and (importantly) have gently accelerating earnings growth already reported.  These stocks could all trade much higher simply as bond substitutes, as well.

The stock market, in fits and starts, overvalued by numerous metrics as it is, has thus begun to make the (usually slow) turn to being less overvalued than bonds.  This turn is just beginning, but it is clearly established for the stronger blue chips. 

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