- Cree (CREE) and Rubicon Technology (RBCN) to buy from neutral at Merriman.
- Children's Place (PLCE) to outperform from market perform at BMO Capital.
- Lockheed Martin (LMT) to neutral from underperform at BofA/Merrill.
- Copano Energy (CPNO) to outperform from market perform at Morgan Keegan.
- Motorola Mobility (MMI) to neutral from reduce at Nomura.
- Parker-Hannifin (PH) to buy from hold at KeyBanc.
- Akamai (AKAM), ShoreTel (SHOR), AMB Property (AMB) and ProLogis (PLD) to buy from hold at Stifel Nicolaus.
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The list of stocks has been whittled down to four. Chevron Corporation (CVX) made the cut to become the oil company stock. Three defense sector powerhouses are competing for one spot in Chasing Value: 2011 Stock Picks -- The Journey Begin.
Today we take a more comprehensive view returning to earlier metrics, and adding some other criteria in order to reach a conclusion. This series began with the contention that making specific predictions was a fools errand with the danger to your portfolio coming from "black swans". To try and add some general counter measures to this possibility I decided that the defense and oil sectors might provide protection against the greatest of threats, war and terrorism. On that basis I posted Chasing Value: You Must Own Defense and Oil for Safety.
The list of stocks under consideration has been reduced from eleven to ten, to seven and now in today's story four. Starting with five major defense contractors and six major oil companies (see Chasing Value: You Must Own Defense and Oil for Safety), I began a search to find one stock in each sector that might be suitable for inclusion in my list of 2011 stock picks posted last week Chasing Value: 2011 Stock Picks -- The Journey Begin.
Today we continue our analysis by examining return on equity (ROE), return on invested capital (ROIC), and price-to-earnings-to-growth (PEG). Each stock is ranked by sector and metric from best to worst. Sometimes there are clear winners and others there is little to separate one stock from the next. However, in total, a picture can be drawn that does portray a superior opportunity.
This series started with five major defense contractors and six major oil companies that are worthy considerations to help your portfolio survive a global crisis (see Chasing Value: You Must Own Defense and Oil for Safety). After the first review, one stock was eliminated from consideration: Petroleo Brasileiro (PBR). The reason is in the first story.
Today we continue our analysis by examining price-to-book (P/B), price-to-cash-flow (P/CF), and dividend yield. Each stock is ranked by sector and metric from best to worst. In the end we hope to narrow down our choices for candidates that might be added to Chasing Value: 2011 Stock Picks -- The Journey Begins.
All of this has its limits, but, if you are a fan of Professor Nassim NicholasTaleb and his best seller The Black Swan then you already have been warned that the events that have the greatest impact on our lives and our investments are most often unpredictable. We cannot predict the future nor can we anticipate the tragedies that will tank our portfolio's.
While I do believe predicting the future is, how should I say, futile, there are general clues as to which way the wind blows.
The editor of Leeb's Income Performance Letter explains, "Investors are concerned about the impact cutbacks in defense spending will have on profits. Still, the company arguably is the best positioned of the major defense contractors to weather a smaller defense budget.
"The company is bracing for leaner times and has taken cost-savings measures, such as offering early retirement incentives to executives. And its share price appears to have more than discounted any cuts that may come down the pike.
Equally important is that unlike many other industries, this is one tech sector that keeps most of its jobs at home and well-distributed through the country. This, too, preserves defense spending.
The major players in the industry after 20 years of consolidation are General Dynamics Corp (GD), Lockheed Martin (LMT), Boeing Co (BA), Northrop, Grumman (NOC), and Raytheon Company (RTN). In addition there are hundreds more making specialized parts in support of the majors and more still supplying basic elements like tires, wiring, computer processors, steel, aluminum, specialty glass, and ammunition. Then there are suppliers of manpower and smaller manufacturers producing unmanned aircraft drones and robots.
- Credit Suisse upgraded Netflix (NFLX) to neutral from underperform and raised its price target to $140 from $90. The firm's survey work indicates Netflix's streaming offering is compelling and will continue to grow as it acquires additional streaming content.
- Barclays upgraded Ford (F) to overweight from equal weight, citing the company's earnings power, reduced cost base, expectations for a return to prior peak margins and valuation. The firm raised its target to $16 from $15.
- Merriman upgraded OpenTable (OPEN) to buy from neutral based on increased visibility into international expansion from the toptable.com acquisition and upside from its Spotlight product.
- Siemens (SI) was upgraded to conviction buy from buy at Goldman.
- Medicis (MRX) was upgraded to buy from hold at Jefferies.
- IDEX (IEX) was upgraded to outperform from neutral at Baird.
- Goldman upgraded Costco (COST) to buy from neutral based on valuation, improving fundamentals and potential catalysts. The firm raised its price target to $68 from $62.
- Soleil upgraded MGM Resorts (MGM) to buy from hold, citing valuation, easing balance sheet concerns and a multiyear convention recovery. The firm upped its target for shares to $14 from $13. Note, Soleil also downgraded Las Vegas Sands (LVS) to hold from buy.
- Piper Jaffray upgraded Phillips-Van Heusen (PVH) to overweight from neutral with a $59 price target following the company's better-than-expected Q2 results.
- Dell (DELL) was upgraded to buy from outperform at CLSA.
- CommScope (CTV) was upgraded to buy from neutral at UBS.
- EnCana (ECA) was upgraded to sector outperformer from sector performer at CIBC.
- BMO Capital upgraded Noble Energy (NE) to outperform from market perform and raised its target to $85 from $78. The firm upgraded Noble based on Niobrara field potential and record-breaking reserve potential at the Leviathan prospect.
- Wells Fargo upgraded Raytheon (RTN) to outperform from market perform based on relative valuation, strong balance sheet and International sales exposure.
- ThinkEquity upgraded Cerner (CERN) to buy from hold based on valuation and EMR momentum. The firm raised its price target on shares to $86 from $80.
- Sanofi-Aventis (SNY) was upgraded to buy from hold at Societe Generale.
- Cavium Networks (CAVM) was upgraded to outperform from market perform at JMP Securities.
- CSG Systems (CSGS) was upgraded to outperform from perform at Oppenheimer.
Northrop Grumman (NOC) may be a U.S. Air Force favorite, but it does not deserve a place in your portfolio right now.
Northrop announced it received an indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity (ID/IQ) award from the Air Force that has a potential value of $919 million collectively over 10 year. Northrop will compete to provide mission planning software systems and tools that enable warfighters to plan missions and transfer required data to aircraft avionics.
Unfortunately for Northrop, this announcement was overshadowed by Goldman Sach's announcement that it has added Northrop to its "conviction sell" list today.
Frankly, even with the announcement of this new contract, I agree with the folks at Goldman. Northrop has been in a persistent downtrend since the end of April and is continuing to form lower highs and lower lows. A temporary support level has established itself at $54, but I don't expect this level to hold up for long.
- Collins Stewart upgraded BP (BP) to buy from hold after the company canceled its dividend payments and agreed to put $20 billion in a claims escrow fund.
- Credit Suisse upgraded First Solar (FSLR) to outperform from neutral and raised its target to $150 from $110.20. The firm raised estimates given expectations for strong demand and lower costs and believes pricing upside for Q2/Q3 is not reflected in valuation.
- Argus upgraded EMC (EMC) to buy from hold, citing valuation and notes that the company's VMware (VMW) stake is undervalued.
- Rio Tinto (RTP) was upgraded to buy from hold at Societe Generale.
- Sunoco (SUN) was upgraded to overweight from equal weight at Barclays.
- UBS (UBS) was upgraded to outperform from underperform at Macquarie.
- Bernstein upgraded Corning (GLW) to outperform from market perform based on Gorilla glass prospects and valuation. The firm raised its price target to $22 from $21.
- RBC Capital upgraded Beckman Coulter (BEC) two rating levels to outperform from underperform, citing valuation and customer checks that indicate high retention rates. The firm upped its target for shares to $65 from $55.
- Credit Suisse upgraded Canadian Pacific (CP) to outperform from underperform. The firm expects Canadian Pacific to have stronger-than-average Q2 volume growth, improved productivity and notes leverage to growth in Asia, among other reasons for the upgrade. The firm raised its target to $75 from $59.
- Freeport McMoRan (FRX) was upgraded to overweight from neutral at HSBC.
- Solera (SLH) was upgraded to strong buy from buy at Needham.
- Jefferies upgraded IPC The Hospitalist Co. (IPCM) to buy from hold.
Net income came in at $1.45 per share on a reported basis, a decrease of 23 cents compared to the year-ago period. However, there was a charge of 25 cents for the elimination of a tax deduction related to Medicare included in the current per-share profit number, so that should be taken into account. Wall Street was looking for $1.34 per share, so no matter what, management beat expectations.
However, at least one investor is feeling anxious ahead of Thursday morning's event -- around 11 a.m. Eastern today, a collar spread crossed the tape on LMT. A block of 300 contracts traded at the equity's February 80 call at the bid price of $0.75, while a matching block of 300 contracts simultaneously traded on the February 75 put for the ask price of $1.50. With LMT trading near $77 at last check, both options are currently out of the money.