Dolby Laboratories (NYSE:DLB) considers itself an integral part of what it refers to as “the entertainment experience,” which it has pioneered and developed in 45 years of existence. This includes the lucrative licensing of technologies that help improve the audio quality of movies, music, television and related media. The adoption of the DVD was a huge top line driver, especially when the company went public back in 2005. Other traditional channels have included licensing its technology to the broadcast markets, such as through television and related set-top boxes. Personal computer licensing also serves as another major contributor to sales.
Old-fashioned restaurant and retail operator Cracker Barrel Old (Nasdaq:CBRL) posted fiscal first quarter results on Nov. 21, 2011, that further demonstrated it is struggling to grow its underlying store base. This anemic performance has attracted the interest in an activist shareholder who has ambitions to improve company returns. Prospective shareholders may be better off watching the developments between management and the activist on the sidelines and investing in restaurant concepts with more appealing growth potential, over the long haul.
Medical device giant Medtronic (NYSE:MDT) posted second quarter results on Nov. 22, 2011 that highlighted the consistent and solid growth potential of a wide array of medical device products and services across the world. Those combined with a reasonable valuation and potential to boost annual profit growth back to the double digits make the stock worth a close look.
In similar fashion to the overall stock market, specialty apparel retailer Gap (NYSE:GPS) has had a rough decade. Its stock is less than half of where it was back in 2000 and sales have been roughly flat, for almost ten years now. Recent trends have been far from encouraging, though management has finally decided that shrinking its domestic store base is probably for the better.
Fast food operator Jack in the Box (Nasdaq:JACK) closed out its fiscal year on a high note, as trends at existing stores came in ahead of management’s expectations during the fourth quarter. Its investment appeal looks more dubious based on the current valuation and compared to a number of archrivals.
Technology giant Dell (Nasdaq:DELL) now bills itself as an “innovative technology and services” provider. This is a welcome change from its previous focus on laptop and desktop computers, which continues, especially in the consumer market, to cede market share to new applications. This shift is boosting profits handsomely, but the market may still be holding out for signs it can grow its top line.
Lawn and garden care firm Scotts Miracle-Gro (NYSE:SMG) recently ended its fiscal year on a sour note and struggled for most of the year, because of strange weather patterns throughout the U.S. Yet despite the unpredictability of Mother Nature and a historic housing bust, consumers are remaining loyal to keeping their lawns green and gardens tidy, which bodes well for Scotts going forward.
Off-price apparel and home fashions retailer TJX Companies (NYSE:TJX) reported third quarter results on Nov. 16, 2011, that were right in line with the trends it has posted over the past decade. Specifically, it has a fantastic track record at leveraging modest sales growth into double-digit profit gains. The stock recently hit an all-time high, but still has plenty of appeal going forward.
Caribou Coffee Company (Nasdaq:CBOU) bills itself as the second largest coffee house in the United States. A recent company presentation has highlighted that the vast majority of coffee is still prepared at home, but it has goals to capture an increasing share of both the at-home and away-from-home markets. Its recent quarterly financial release highlighted that each segment continues to grow robustly.
Home improvement retailing giant Lowe’s (NYSE:LOW) reported disappointing sales and profit trends when it released third quarter results on November 14, 2011. This is nothing new to shareholders, and it appears the company is finally coming to terms with the fact that it has entered a “new normal” of minimal industry growth. Its latest attempts to revive its own growth prospects include right-sizing its store count and finding ways to revitalize demand for its merchandise.
Posted: November 10, 2011 12:41PM by Ryan C. Fuhrmann , CFA
A common description of the stock market these days is that it is experiencing some of its highest volatility in history. A host of explanations are being offered, and include the advent of exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that are designed to return 300% of the daily stock market’s performance, whether up or down. An emphasis on shorter-term trading strategies are also blamed, be it momentum investing or day trading philosophies. Below is a brief overview of how the stock market has evolved in recent years, and some conclusions on whether it has truly become more volatile.
Beam (NYSE:BEAM) was formally created on Oct. 4, when Fortune Brands completed its eagerly anticipated breakup. Beam reported third quarter results on Oct. 27, 2011, that marked its first as a pure play liquor company. Despite a lofty earnings valuation, there are a number of ways for patient investors to see a solid return from the stock. (For additional reading, check out: What Is A Pure Play?)
Prudential Financial Inc (NYSE:PRU) reported third quarter results last week that had many moving parts, including a sizable acquisition earlier in the year, and a number of charges. Looking out over the next couple of years, added international exposure, and the potential for profit improvements as well as multiple expansion could allow for solid annual stock returns for shareholders.
In a nutshell, NewMarket (NYSE:NEU) sells additives that improve the performance of petroleum products. A primary end goal is to enhance the performance of machinery, equipment and just about anything that uses fuel or needs lubricants. The industry has gotten much more attention since Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK.A) (NYSE:BRK.B) announced it was acquiring NewMarket rival Lubrizol, back in March. Interest from “the Oracle of Omaha,” and solid operating results have pushed NewMarket’s stock up lately, though earnings growth continues to be impressive.
Apparel firm HanesBrands (NYSE:HBI) reported third quarter results on Wednesday that saw continued solid sales growth, and another quarter of impressive profit expansion. Combined with a reasonable earnings multiple, the stock is worth a look, though the investment story does have one major potential drawback.
Earlier in October, the gambling industry held one of its main conferences of the year in Las Vegas, The Global Gaming Expo, or G2E. The event gives gaming professionals the opportunity to see the new products industry suppliers are selling, as well as talk with the companies and their management teams in person.
Posted: November 1, 2011 10:57AM by Ryan C. Fuhrmann , CFA
December will mark the three year anniversary of when it was first discovered that Bernard Madoff defrauded his clients for as much as $50 billion, in one of the largest financial Ponzi schemes in history. The money management industry sustained a significant black eye to its reputation as a result of Madoff’s fraud. Unfortunately, there are likely to be future thefts of client funds, though likely not on Madoff’s scale. As with any industry, certain players in the investment field will resort to cheating, in an attempt to get ahead. Below are five issues to consider in order to identify, and best avoid, investment fraud.