The phrase “servant leadership” may not be familiar to a large number of individuals or corporations, but it’s a belief system that is already widely embraced by some of the most successful organizations in the world. Its essence is a focus on individuals and a decentralized organizational structure. It also emphasizes other core values that encourage innovation and the development of leaders that must first focus on serving all stakeholders in an organization. Below is a discussion of servant leadership and why it can be an important driver for entities and individuals that embrace its core concepts. (Make smart investments by spotting up-and-coming success stories early. See 3 Secrets Of Successful Companies.)
Upscale jewelry retailer Tiffany & Co. (NYSE:TIF) reported impressive third quarter results last week. Sales jumped overseas and recovered nicely in the U.S. after an extended difficult period during the credit crisis. Unfortunately, the recent share price run suggest that future returns for shareholders could be quite dull.
Posted: Nov 26, 2010 09:43 AM by Ryan C. Fuhrmann
Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Inc (NYSE:CBRL) opened the first quarter of its fiscal year in fine fashion as earnings again beat analyst expectations. It also continues to post growth trends at existing stores ahead of the competition. Expansion opportunities over the long haul are somewhat limited, but management should be able to use excess capital to boost the bottom line for some time going forward.
Campbell Soup (NYSE:CPB) is the undisputed leader in global soup sales. However, the company is having trouble growing sales across the globe, and promotional spending does not appear to be helping. The firm remains impressively profitable and the stock continues to offer solid downside protection, but other firms look more appealing at current levels.
Posted: Nov 25, 2010 09:23 AM by Ryan C. Fuhrmann
Fast-food operator Jack in the Box (Nasdaq:JACK) closed out a tough year by reporting disappointing fourth-quarter and year-end results on Monday. It continues to see diverging performance of its two restaurant concepts and should consider setting its popular Mexican-food franchise, Qdoba, free from the corporate fold.
In his 1979 letter to shareholders, Warren Buffett offered his belief that “insurance can be a very good business” to own and invest in. His belief continues to this day and Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK-B ) is among the world’s largest insurers in the world, which is due to Buffett’s ability to ferret out solid management teams and acquire successful insurance businesses over a career that spans more than six decades.
Posted: Nov 23, 2010 08:49 AM by Ryan C. Fuhrmann
Specialty apparel retailer Gap (NYSE:GPS) reported third quarter earnings on Thursday after the market close that matched analyst expectations. A worrisome trend was that cash flow has dropped significantly from last year, though the all-important holiday season is just approaching. Additionally, existing store growth is still not at the levels where investors can garner steady gains from the stock.
Posted: November 22, 2010 9:58AM by Ryan C. Fuhrmann
Back in 2008, the housing market was in free fall. Markets that were based on securities created from baskets of residential mortgages were described as having “gaping wounds” that required government intervention just to keep them afloat. As with current quantitative easing in which the Federal Reserve is buying bonds to keep the money supply propped up, the Fed bought hundreds of billions in mortgage-backed securities (MBS) at the height of the credit crisis because the private market essentially dried up. Recent estimates put the Fed’s total MBS purchases at over $1 trillion over the past several years. (Mortgage-backed securities can offer monthly income, a fixed interest rate and even government backing. Check out Profit From Mortgage Debt With MBS.)
When it comes to investing in emerging markets, Brazil is often mentioned as one of the most appealing countries. This is for good reason — its population of more than 200 million represents one of the world’s largest markets. Better yet, years of economic growth under the rule of president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva have brought an estimated 20 million citizens out of poverty and millions more into a middle class.
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote an article about India’s vast potential for both economic development and profit for investors. ["Read why I think India's a better long-term investment than China “] In that article, I mentioned a few of the standard, well-known Indian stocks, but some of these tend to be expensive, so I wanted to delve deeper into lesser-known Indian stocks that might have greater potential down the road.
Posted: Nov 18, 2010 09:46 AM by Ryan C. Fuhrmann
Big-box retailer Target’s (NYSE:TGT) third quarter showed a continued improvement in sales as the industry thaws from the downturn brought on by the credit crisis. Lower credit card losses really boosted profit trends, and there are a number of incremental store developments that should allow sales and earnings to steadily increase going forward.
Posted: November 17, 2010 10:45AM by Ryan C. Fuhrmann
Since the housing market peak in 2005, investing in real estate has been fraught with peril, to say the least. The commercial and residential real estate industries have struggled since, but as any contrarian will tell you, market downturns can offer appealing opportunities to pick up investments on the cheap. (For more, check out 10 Habits Of Highly Effective Real Estate Investors.)
Posted: Nov 17, 2010 10:07 AM by Ryan C. Fuhrmann
Retailing behemoth Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) reported third-quarter results on Tuesday that largely met investor expectations. It also continued a trend where U.S. growth is moderating as consumers become less price conscious and start to trade up to higher prices and more fashionable goods. International remains a bright spot, though, and should continue to lead the way toward respectable overall sales and profit growth for the global retailing leader.
Specialty apparel retailer Urban Outfitters (NYSE:URBN) reported third quarter earnings on Monday after the market close. The bottom line beat analyst projections by only a penny, but this and steady sales trends were apparently enough to send the share price significantly higher. The rally means the shares are less appealing to prospective shareholders, but could still be worth a look given management’s ambitious growth plans.
The standard healthcare pitch for investing in healthcare stocks contains a number of standard components. Among them are favorable demographics due to an aging global population and the favorable impacts of recent U.S. industry legislation that adds millions of patients into the system. These are definite positives, but there are also unique ways for the major players to cut costs.
Department store retailer J.C. Penney (NYSE:JCP) reported third quarter results last Friday that failed to impress investors. Sales are seeing a modest boost as consumer spending trends improve, but are lagging the industry overall. A focus on co-developing brands could help going forward, but at the current valuation the company will need to see a substantial sales and profit jump.
Entertainment content company Viacom (NYSE:VIA) (NYSE:VIA.B) is currently benefitting from a number of television hits and a recovery in advertising spending along with the economy. Its film unit isn’t doing as well, but hasn’t stopped total company sales or profits from moving forward.
Department-store titan Macy’s (NYSE:M) continues to fire on all cylinders as customers rediscover their love for shopping, and management has returned to stocking its stores based on local consumer tastes and preferences. Growth over the long haul will need to rely on the latter, but for now both are combining to revitalize sales and profits, which management is currently using to pay down debt from a major acquisition a few years ago.
Home improvement giant Lowe’s (NYSE:LOW) reported third quarter earnings on Monday, and profits that fell below analyst expectations. The firm remains a leader in its industry and firmly profitable, but until growth trends start picking up the stock stands little chance of catching fire.
Quick service restaurant operator Tim Hortons (NYSE:THI) may be an institution in Canada, but it has much lower brand awareness in the United States. Struggles in a couple of markets in the Northeast, as announced along with the firm’s third-quarter results on Wednesday, illustrate its expansion prospects are less certain south of the border.
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Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter first introduced the world to the concept of “creative destruction” by which, in his own words, sets forth a “fundamental impulse that sets and keeps the capitalist engine in motion [and] comes from the new consumers, goods, the new methods of production or transportation, the new markets, the new forms of industrial organization that capitalist enterprise creates.”
In a recent interview with Money magazine, finance guru Roger Ibbotson stated that, as an investor, what is “most relevant to you is whether and how you’re doing something different from what everybody else is doing.”
To say that food firm Sara Lee’s (NYSE:SLE) operations are in flux is a significant understatement. It continues to sell off divisions, with the latest being the sale of the domestic bakery operations to Grupo Bimbo for $959 million. SLE is also on the hunt for a CEO, and was recently the topic of takeover speculation by private equity firms. Those brave enough to own the shares are holding out for potential upside in the businesses that will remain.
Posted: November 9, 2010 3:40PM by Ryan C. Fuhrmann
Choosing a bank to meet your financial needs is no easy task, and the banking industry is drastically different than your parent’s bank of decades past. It may be surprising, but the financial services industry is one of the biggest spenders on technology. This spending has allowed them to evolve rapidly and offer services beyond making loans and taking in deposits from individuals and businesses. Consolidation has also played a big part in lowering costs for customers, though the need for a personalized, local service will always be in demand. (For a related reading, see Your Banker’s 6 Dirty Secrets.)
Pizza delivery and carry-out operator Papa John’s (Nasdaq:PZZA) recently estimated its domestic market share of the pizza dining segment at 11%. This is smaller than two archrivals, but the company is still targeting overseas for the bulk of its growth going forward. This could be because of a domestic pizza war, which has dampened overall growth prospects for the time being.
Drugstore and pharmacy services giant CVS Caremark (NYSE:CVS) reported third-quarter results this week that saw adjusted EPS come in slightly ahead of analyst expectations, but fall short on a GAAP-diluted basis. Sales struggled on the loss of a number of big contracts, but the signing of a new relationship could signal steadier trends ahead. More consistent top-line and profit growth will be needed for steady stock gains going forward.
Kellogg (NYSE: K) controls more than 30% of the domestic cereal market and is also a leader in many international markets. Recent performance, as evidenced by a challenging third quarter, has been uninspiring and has pushed the share price down. This represents a somewhat compelling opportunity to pick up the shares, as they aren’t a steal at current levels but do have a number of investment merits.
Drug distribution firm AmerisourceBergen (NYSE:ABC) reported fourth-quarter and fiscal year-end results on Tuesday that saw profits beat analyst projections. Sales are also growing briskly and expected to continue to do so given a number of favorable industry tailwinds. At the current valuation, the stock is a worthy investment candidate for investor portfolios.
In a reprise of a role from the 1980s, fictional Wall Street titan Gordon Gekko recently returned to the big screen in Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. In the sequel to the original Wall Street, Gekko states that in investing, “It’s not about the money — it’s about the game.” And although it falls far short of his now-famous proclamation that “greed is good” in the original movie, he is on to something…
After several weeks of buyout speculation, embattled mid-Atlantic regional bank Wilmington Trust (NYSE: WL) confirmed it is being acquired. The rub is that the purchase price of $3.84 per share is about 46% below the levels the stock traded at the day before the announcement. It’s an even farther cry from the more than $20 levels the share price was at back in May, and it lends insight into the low values at which other struggling banks may be sold.
Posted: Nov 02, 2010 09:23 AM by Ryan C. Fuhrmann
Leading life insurance firm MetLife (NYSE:MET) reported third-quarter earnings last week that saw a nice boost in its annuity business and a continued recovery in market values of its investment portfolio from the credit crisis. The upcoming acquisition of an international division of an embattled rival and will add more exposure to appealing overseas markets. Overall, the stock is worth a close look.
Consumer products giant Kimberly-Clark (NYSE:KMB) has been on a restructuring campaign to lower costs and become more competitive. Its third-quarter results suggest it is losing the war against controlling costs, which could be worrisome if it becomes a trend.
Fortune Brands (NYSE:FO) bills itself as a leading consumer brands company. Unfortunately, many of its leading brands have proven highly economically sensitive and two of three divisions continue to face significant sales and profit headwinds. An upcoming battle with an activist investor could mean changes going forward, though the stock has already rallied strongly in anticipation of any corporate improvements.
A recent article in The Economist caught my eye, and a particular statistic I found interesting was that until 1800, China and India accounted for about half of the global economy . The Industrial Revolution in the late 1700s shifted the balance of power to Britain and Western economies for more than 200 years, but growth trends appear to be shifting again.