Very few companies went completely unscathed by the global economic downturn brought about by the credit crisis, but this firm was one of them. In fact, sales and earnings have steadily increased for the past decade.
This recession-resistant quality has to do with the stable, predictable nature of products it first started selling in 1889 as well as a customer base that consists of the nearly every aspect of the food industry across the globe. It may sound mundane, but the company boasts of a passion for flavor and has demonstrated a laser-like focus in delivering on this business foundation for many years now.
|Cheap Talk–Informal Value Gathering||04/30/10||Public||1:00 PM||Billy Blue’s Alumni Grill|
|Value Investing Panel||04/30/10||Public||3:30 PM||Hixson-Lied Auditorium|
|Yellow BRK’ers Happy Hour||04/30/10||Public||4:00 PM||DoubleTree Hotel|
|From Graham to Buffett & Beyond Dinner||04/30/10||Semi-Pub||6:00 PM||Hilton Omaha by Qwest Ctr|
|BRK Shareholder Cocktail Reception||04/30/10||Public||6:00 PM||Borsheim’s|
|DQ Authors’ Book Signing||04/30/10||Public||8:30 PM||Dairy Queen Brazier|
|Tilson Cocktail Party||04/30/10||Semi-Pub||8:30 PM||Omaha Marriott|
|BRK Annual Meeting–Doors Open||05/01/10||Public||7:00 AM||Qwest Center Omaha|
|BRK Annual Meeting–Company Movie||05/01/10||Public||8:30 AM||Qwest Center Omaha|
|BRK Annual Meeting–Q&A||05/01/10||Public||9:30 AM||Qwest Center Omaha|
|BRK NetJets display||05/01/10||Public||12:00 PM||Elliott Aviation @ Eppley|
|BRK Exhibit Booths||05/01/10||Public||3:30 PM||Qwest Center Omaha|
|BRK Annual Meeting–Shareholder Bus.||05/01/10||Public||3:45 PM||Qwest Center Omaha|
|Tilson Get-Together||05/01/10||Semi-Pub||4:00 PM||Hilton Omaha by Qwest Ctr|
|BRK Berkyville Picnic||05/01/10||Public||5:30 PM||Nebraska Furniture Mart|
|Liquid Lounge Discussion Board Dinner||05/01/10||Semi-Pub||6:15 PM||Stokes Miracle Hills|
|Tilson & Tongue Breakfast Q&A||05/02/10||Semi-Pub||8:00 AM||Omaha Marriott|
|BRK Exclusive Shareholder Shopping Day||05/02/10||Public||9:00 AM||Borsheim’s|
|Markel Meeting w/Tom Gayner||05/02/10||Semi-Pub||10:00 AM||Omaha Marriott|
|BRK Berkshire Shareholder Night Dinner||05/02/10||Public||1:00 PM||Gorat’s Steakhouse|
|BRK Berkshire Shareholder Night Dinner||05/02/10||Public||1:00 PM||Piccolo Pete’s Steakhouse|
Source: Lincoln Minor
Posted: Apr 29, 2010 09:53 AM by Ryan C. Fuhrmann
Medical technology firm Kinetic Concepts (NYSE:KCI) offers products that help wounds heal and tissue regenerate. It announced first-quarter earnings earlier this week that saw a modest boost to sales, but a big jump in profits. Over the longer term, an acquisition, favorable patent infringement ruling, and overseas expansion will prove a boon to shareholders, as will the low earnings multiple.
Medical instruments and supplies firm Covidien (NYSE:COV) reported second-quarter results last week that saw sales struggle but profitability improve. The company is optimistic about its new product line-up for the full year and plans to boost growth going forward with bolt-on acquisitions. Growth potential combined with a reasonable valuation and very stable product demand make the stock a worthy investment candidate.
Gilead Sciences (NYSE:GILD) is a fast-growing biotechnology firm with a dominant market share in treating the HIV virus. This combined with a low double-digit P/E ratio makes it a seeming steal for investors. Unfortunately, patent expirations for its HIV franchise are on the horizon. However, the stock still deserves a further look.
The U.S. unemployment rate  hit the dreaded 10% mark in late 2009. As bad as this has been for firms and their underlying employees, it has been even more difficult for companies that help other companies with human resources. On the flip side, these firms will be among the first to benefit once employment trends accelerate. And seeing as unemployment has already fallen back to the single digits, a recovery may very well already be underway.
A prime beneficiary of this recovery could very well turn out to be Illinois-based Hewitt Associates (NYSE: HEW ). Founded by Ted Hewitt in 1940 as a one-man insurance operation, the company has evolved from an actuarial benefits manager to a broad-based benefits outsourcing firm. Over time it has developed a reputation and integrity that has allowed it to grow into one of the largest human resources (HR) consulting and outsourcing firms in the world. Hewitt now has operations in 33 countries and serves more than 3,000 clients, including two thirds of Fortune 500  firms.
It’s little secret that pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly (NYSE:LLY) faces drug patent expirations on its top-selling drugs over the next few years. The question is the extent to which this is already reflected in the share price and whether the company can find a way to put billions in cash flow to good use and find a way out of its predicament.
The beer market is very mature in developed markets as has been around for hundreds of years. Case in point: Molson has been in operation since 1786 while Coors was founded in 1873. Legend has it that beer is as old as civilization itself, dating back thousands of years and contention as one of the oldest consumer goods out there. The unusually high level of mergers and acquisition activity has been one of the few ways for the major players to keep profit growth chugging along.
When Canadian beer behemoth Molson merged with the third largest brewer in the United States, the intent was to better compete with SABMiller and Anheuser Busch, the second-largest and largest brewers in the United States at the time of the merger. The result: Beer giant Molson Coors (NYSE: TAP ).
Posted: Apr 19, 2010 09:19 AM by Ryan C. Fuhrmann
Medical laboratory testing firm MEDTOX (NYSE:MTOX) reported first quarter earnings on Wednesday that saw a modest sales boost, but a big drop in profits. The company may have appeal to a strategic acquirer that can wring out costs, but investors may want to stay on the sidelines.
Back in 1973, Warren Buffett began accumulating shares in The Washington Post Co. (NYSE: WPO ), which at the time consisted of the prestigious namesake newspaper publication as well as a number of television broadcasting and cable television systems. More than three and a half decades later, and some things never change — just this week the newspaper won four Pulitzer Prizes. And while many of these assets remain, the Post faces a new landscape: a declining print business in the face of new media, namely the Internet. That might be enough to make investors head for the exits (if they already haven’t), but another segment of the company is actually thriving — so much so that it has grown to become the largest division and main driver of improving the company’s fortunes.
Posted: Apr 16, 2010 09:49 AM by Ryan C. Fuhrmann
Yum! Brands (NYSE:YUM) reported first-quarter results after the market close on Wednesday that showed it continues to rely on China as the engine for total corporate sales and profit growth. The company’s other operating segments offered a mix bag of results and current share price levels are not properly reflecting that the U.S. could continue to be a major drag on company fortunes going forward.
Posted: Apr 13, 2010 10:02 AM by Ryan C. Fuhrmann
Back in March 2002, shares of Baxter (NYSE:BAX) nearly reached $60 per share. More than eight years later, the shares are again hovering around this level. Yet despite the stock performance malaise, sales and earnings growth have remained impressive and are expected to continue to do so going forward.
Small-cap consumer goods firm WD-40 Company (Nasdaq:WDFC) reported strong sales and earnings results during its fiscal second quarter. Growth trends should continue to improve as global consumer demand recovers. Additionally, the company is highly profitable, has more cash than debt on the balance sheet, and generates excess capital that it uses to repurchase shares and support a current 3% dividend yield.
It certainly looked good on paper, but Citigroup’s (NYSE: C ) ambition to acquire its way to global dominance as a one-stop shop for clients seeking banking, insurance, investment and just about any financial advice imaginable, has miserably failed. A corporate umbrella that spanned Travelers (NYSE: TRV ) and its famous red umbrella logo as well as financial services organizations throughout the world became increasingly unwieldy and almost came completely unglued during the credit crisis.
After a hiatus of more than four years, Bed Bath & Beyond (NYSE:BBBY) finally experienced an acceleration in its earnings growth. The increase was reminiscent of its heyday as a much younger firm and was due primarily to an improving economy and demise of archrival Linens ‘N Things. The coming year will see a respectable bottom-line increase, giving further indication that Bed Bath is returning to consistent profit improvements.
With a market capitalization of approximately $18 billion, Ace Limited (NYSE: ACE) is one of the largest publicly traded property and casualty insurers. Ace has withstood extremely challenging operating conditions over the past couple of years. A favorable valuation coupled with a smoother business outlook could bode well for investors.
On March 8, life insurance giant MetLife (NYSE:MET) announced an agreement to acquire American Life Insurance Company (ALICO), from beleaguered global insurance provider American International Group (NYSE:AIG). Below is a brief overview of the deal and the profound impact it is expected to have on MetLife.
Thanks to the recent credit crisis, much of which was its own doing, the financial services industry has experienced one of the most volatile operating environments in its history. Fortunately, a heavy dose of government stimulus and calmer capital markets have brought the majority of industry leaders from the brink of disaster to much more normal business conditions.
In the insurance space, American International Group (NYSE: AIG ) was a significant contributor to fanning systemic risk flames throughout the entire financial system. The culprit was its Financial Products division and its disastrous foray into credit default swaps. Both of these are primary reasons AIG remains on the hook for repaying well in excess of $100 billion to the U.S. Federal Reserve and Treasury Department. This need to pay back Uncle Sam has provided a small handful of savvy competitors the opportunity to acquire some of AIG’s most appealing divisions at what could turn out to be very fortuitous prices.
Visa (NYSE:V) and MasterCard (NYSE:MA) are best known for their trade names that banks and other financial institutions brand for their own credit card usage. However, they also run proprietary transaction units that process the billions of financial payments each year. Global Payments (NYSE:GPN) is a pure-play transaction processor that is increasingly operating on a global scale.
Acuity Brands (NYSE:AYI) has experienced a rough couple of years as demand for its lighting-fixture products and related services have fallen in along with commercial and residential construction activity. A recent stock rally has proven beneficial for current shareholders, but recent operating trends may leave prospective investors on the sidelines for the time being.