Top Safest Companies To Buy For 2015

European stocks have done well in 2013. The Vanguard FTSE Europe ETF and iShares Europe ETF may still be good bets.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) Stocks are surging in the United States this year. Japan has done even better.

But if you’re looking for the next big opportunity, Europe could very well be the best place to invest right now. The long recession in Europe may finally be over. And that could lead to stronger profits from European-based companies.

So what’s the safest way to try and ride a European rebound?

Investing through a mutual fund: Many funds from big money managers have a fair amount of European exposure.

Take the widely held Fidelity Worldwide Fund (FWWFX), which has 30% of its assets invested in Europe. Holdings include Swiss bank UBS (UBS), German automaker Volkswagen (VLKAY) and French food and consumer products giant Danone (DANOY).

Top Safest Companies To Buy For 2015: ON Semiconductor Corporation(ONNN)

ON Semiconductor Corporation, together with its subsidiaries, designs, manufactures, and markets semiconductor components for electronic systems and products worldwide. The company provides computing and consumer products, including analog IC solutions for power management in VCORE, DDR, and chipsets for audio, video, and graphics processing subsystems; and AC-DC conversion solutions for the power supplies in computing and consumer applications. It also offers automotive-grade low-dropout (LDO) voltage regulators, drivers, and ignition IGBTs; mixed-signal custom application specific integrated circuits (ASICs) and automotive application specific standard products (ASSPs) for industrial, medical imaging, computing, and consumer applications; clock and timing management products for industrial, communications, and consumer applications; ASICs and ASSPs that are used in defibrillators, pacemakers, neurostimulators, hearing health applications, glucose meters and patient monit oring product; and standard-cell ASICs conversions for the military/aerospace, industrial, communications, computing, and consumer markets, as well as serial non-volatile memories (EEPROM) solutions for data parameter storage in a range of electronic products. In addition, the company provides standard products comprising diodes and transistors, configurable analog products, LED drivers, EEPROMs and power MOSFETs for consumer electronics, computing, wireless and wired communications, automotive electronics, industrial electronics, and medical markets. Further, it supplies analog and mixed signal integrated circuits, microcontrollers, DSPs, analog and digital tuners, intelligent power modules, memory, and discrete semiconductors for the consumer, industrial, and automotive markets. The company sells its products to original equipment manufacturers, distributors, and electronic manufacturing service providers. ON Semiconductor Corporation was founded in 1999 and is headquarte r ed in Phoenix, Arizona.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Rich Smith]This series, brought to you by Yahoo! Finance, looks at which upgrades and downgrades make sense, and which ones investors should act on. Today, our headlines feature a downgrades for both Intel (NASDAQ: INTC  ) and ON Semiconductor (NASDAQ: ONNN  ) . But the news isn’t all bad, so before we address those two, let’s start on a bright note.

Top Safest Companies To Buy For 2015: EZchip Semiconductor Limited(EZCH)

EZchip, a fabless semiconductor company, engages in the development and marketing of Ethernet network processors for networking equipment. Its products include network processor chips, evaluation boards and network-processor based systems, and development software toolkits. The company offers network processors for use in forming the silicon core of networking equipment, such as switches and routers; and for voice, video and data integration in various applications. Its network processors are single-chip solutions, which enable its customers to design multi-port line cards, such as processing and classification engines, traffic managers, media access controllers, as well as a range of specialized hardware blocks that accelerate various functions. The company offers Evaluation systems which enable customers to test NPU-based systems; and toolkits that assist customers in creating, verifying, and implementing solutions based on its network processors. It provides a library f eaturing data plane code for a range of applications, which include Metro Ethernet protocols, Multi-Protocol Label Switching, IPv4 and IPv6 routing, Access Control Lists, GPON/EPON OLT functionality, Network Address Translation, and Server Load Balancing. The company sells its products directly, and through contract manufacturers and distributors to network equipment vendors. It markets its products in Israel, China, Hong Kong, the Far East, Canada, the United States, and Europe. The company was formerly known as LanOptics Ltd. and changed its name to EZchip Semiconductor Ltd. in July 2008. EZchip Semiconductor Ltd. was founded in 1989 and is based in Yokneam, Israel.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Evan Niu, CFA]What: Shares of EZchip (NASDAQ: EZCH  ) have jumped today by as much as 13% after the company reported first-quarter earnings.

    So what: Revenue in the first quarter totaled $15.3 million, topping the Street’s forecast of $15.1 million. Non-GAAP net income per share came in at $0.23, which was right on target with expectations.

  • [By Paul McWilliams]Paul McWilliams: Oh, absolutely. Another company that most investors probably have never heard of is a tiny little Israeli semiconductor company named EZChip (EZCH).

Top Safest Companies To Buy For 2015: Nice Systems Ltd (NICE)

NICE-Systems Ltd. (NICE), incorporated on September 28, 1986, is a provider of solutions that enable enterprises and security organizations to extract insight from interactions, transactions and surveillance to drive business performance and ensure safety and security. Its solutions enable companies and public organizations to capture, manage, analyze and impact unstructured interaction, as well as transactional data, enabling such entities to comply with internal and governmental regulations, improve business and operational performance and address security threats while increasing situational awareness. Unstructured content includes cross-channel analysis of phone calls, chat, instant messaging and e-mail interactions to contact centers, trading floors, branches, home agents and back offices, phone calls to emergency service providers and first responders, video captured by closed circuit cameras, radio communications between emergency services’ and first responders’ personnel, Internet sessions, e-mail and instant messaging and security management solutions for command and control centers. In May 2010, the Company acquired Lamda Communication Networks Ltd.

On January 11, 2010, NICE completed the acquisition of certain assets and liabilities of Orsus Solutions Limited and certain subsidiaries of Orsus. On August 31, 2009, NICE and certain subsidiaries of NICE completed the acquisition of the voting securities of certain subsidiaries of Fortent, Inc. (Fortent). On August 31, 2009, NICE completed the acquisition of Hexagon System Engineering Ltd. (Hexagon). On June 17, 2009, the Company completed the acquisition of Syfact.

The Company’s products include NICE SmartCenter, NICE Perform Interaction Recording, NICE Perform eXpress (NPX), NICE Quality Management, NICE Interaction Analytics, NICE Real-Time Guidance, NICE Packaged Business Solutions, NICE Feedback, NICE IEX Workforce Management, Performance Manager, Network Embedded Logger and NiceCall Focus III. It also incl! udes Actimize Fraud Prevention Suite, Actimize Anti-Money Laundering Suite, Actimize Brokerage Compliance Suite, Actimize Enterprise Risk Case Manager, Mirra IV, NICE Inform, NiceVision Net, NiceVision ControlCenter, NiceVision Analytics, NiceVision Digital, NiceVision SafeRoute, NICE Situator, FAST alpha Silver, NiceTrack.

NICE SmartCenter leverages the synergies of the combined capabilities of NICE Perform, NICE Quality Management, NICE Interaction Analytics, NICE Feedback, IEX TotalView and Performance Manager. NICE Perform Interaction Recording records customer interactions with contact center agents, financial trading floors, investment banking and enterprises, with a separate suite of applications for contact centers and investment banking, including for organizations that have a relatively small number of input channels. NICE Perform eXpress (NPX) brings the capabilities of Nice Perform into a single box, low TCO solution based on commercial hardware for small businesses or small systems. NICE Quality Management delivers tools for implementing a multifaceted quality program encompassing agents, supervisors, evaluators and managers.

NICE Interaction Analytics utilizes a multi-dimensional analysis approach to analyze customer interactions across communication channels and provide automated business insight and root cause analysis based on speech analytics, e-mail and chat analysis, call flow analysis, screen content analysis and integration with customer relationship management (CRM) data. NICE Real-Time Guidance leverages interaction analytics in order to provide recommendations to the agent in real-time during a phone or chat interaction with a customer, popping up contextually relevant instructions to the agent within call-out windows.

NICE Packaged Business Solutions is a set of out-of-the-box solutions designed to address common contact center challenges, including Customer Churn Reduction, S ales Effectiveness, Customer Experience, Marketing Effective! ness, Col! lections Optimization, Quality Optimization, such as First Contact Resolution and Average Handling Time. NICE Feedback is a solution for collecting real-time customer feedback after a call or any other type of interaction with the organization. NICE IEX Workforce Management forecasts customer interactions, schedules agents with appropriate skills to manage and optimize level of customer service and resources, measures agent and team performance and supports managing overall contact center performance

Performance Manager maps enterprise business objectives to group and individual goals, tracks and reports performance. Network Embedded Logger offers a Linux based voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) Logger embedded in Cisco routers, suitable for branch recording with NICE Perform. NiceCall Focus III provides a voice recording system for organizations that have a relatively small number of input channels and a cost-effective solution for branch recording (TDM only ) with centralized storage. Actimize Fraud Prevention Suite is a suite of focused cross-channel fraud prevention solutions, available individually or as an integrated whole, used in both real-time and batch processing to detect and prevent the fraud.

Actimize Anti-Money Laundering Suite is an end-to-end suite of solutions that are available individually or as an integrated whole used to monitor and identify suspicious activities for customers and facilitate regulatory compliance processes. Actimize Enterprise Risk Case Manager is a centralized platform for holistic case and alert management that enables an enterprise-wide approach to risk and compliance operations management. Mirra IV provides small recording system that is suited to simple recording applications, in which it can record up to 48 channels of voice traffic from a variety of analog and digital interfaces. NICE Inform provides information management solution for management of multimedia interaction s for security command and control centers, enables effectiv! e managem! ent of multimedia incident information from various sources, for faster incident reconstruction, greater insight and improved response.

NiceVision Net provides a complete solution for Internet protocol (IP) video security, including encoders, decoders and network video recorders. NiceVision ControlCenter provides a control room management and network-based digital video matrix. NiceVision Analytics provides a set of video content analytics applications for automated detection of threats, safety and operational related events. NiceVision Digital provides a portfolio of digital video recorders for different capacities and performance requirements. NiceVision SafeRoute provides a solution for mobile video surveillance onboard public transport vehicles. FAST alpha Silver provides digital video monitoring and recording solution for large to mid-size applications. NiceTrack provides interception, delivery, monitoring, collection and advanced analysis of telecommunic ation interactions.

The Company competes with Aspect Software, Inc., Autonomy Corp., Cybertech International, eLoyalty, Genesys Telecommunicatons, Nexidia, Verint Systems Inc., ACI Worldwide, FICO, Mantas, Inc., Norkom Group plc, Oracle Corporation, SAS Institute Inc., Sungard Data Systems Inc., ASC Telecom, AudioSoft, Redbox Recorders, Bosch, Genetec Inc., IndigoVision, Milestone Systems A/S, ONSSI, Schneider Electric, Atis, ETI, JSI Telecom, Pen-link Ltd., SS8 Networks, Inc. and Trovicor.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Monica Gerson]Breaking news

    Wi-LAN (NASDAQ: WILN) today announced that its Board of Directors has initiated a process to explore and evaluate a broad range of strategic alternatives for the Company to enhance shareholder value. To read the full news, click here. MannKind (NASDAQ: MNKD) today announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has acknowledged the resubmission of a New Drug Application (NDA) for AFREZZA® (insulin human [rDNA origin]) Inhalation Powder. To read the full news, click here. lululemon athletica (NASDAQ: LULU) today announced that Tara Poseley has been appointed to its Senior Leadership Team as Chief Product Officer. To read the full news, click here. Nice Systems (NASDAQ: NICE) reported a drop in its third-quarter profit. To read the full news, click here.

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  • [By Traders Reserve]While J.P. Morgan (JPM) lowered their IT spending forecast for 2013, it sees a 3.6% growth on the horizon in 2014. That bodes well for NICE Systems (NICE) which provides solutions for capturing and analyzing customer interactions across communication channels such as phone, surveys, email and the Web—otherwise known as a Big Data platform.
  • [By Roberto Pedone]Nice Systems (NICE) provides software solutions that deliver insights by capturing and analyzing mass quantities of structured and unstructured data in real time from multiple sources such as interactions, transactions and surveillance. This stock closed up 2.1% to $38 in Wednesday’s trading session.

    Wednesday’s Volume: 430,000

    Three-Month Average Volume: 135,436

    Volume % Change: 218%

    From a technical perspective, NICE trended modestly higher here back above its 50-day moving average of $37.69 with heavy upside volume. This move is quickly pushing shares of NICE within range of triggering a big breakout trade. That trade will hit if NICE manages to take out some near-term overhead resistance at $38.90 to its three-year high at $39.89 with high volume.

    Traders should now look for long-biased trades in NICE as long as it’s trending above its 50-day at $37.69 or above Wednesday’s low of $36.91, and then once it sustains a move or close above those breakout levels with volume that hits near or above 135,436 shares. If that breakout hits soon, then NICE will set up to enter new three-year high territory, which is bullish technical price action. Some possible upside targets off that move are $43 to $45.

Top Safest Companies To Buy For 2015: Nicholas Financial Inc.(NICK)

Nicholas Financial, Inc., through its subsidiaries, operates as a specialized consumer finance company. The company engages in acquiring and servicing contracts for purchases of new and used automobiles and light trucks. It also makes direct loans and sells consumer-finance related products. In addition, the company engages in developing, marketing, supporting, and updating industry-specific computer application software for small businesses located primarily in the Southeast United States. As of April 5, 2011, it operated 56 branch locations in 14 Southeastern and Midwestern states. The company was founded in 1986 and is headquartered in Clearwater, Florida.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Lauren Pollock]Prospect Capital Corp.(PSEC) said it agreed to buy Nicholas Financial Inc.(NICK) in a stock deal valued at about $199 million that the investment firm expects will expand its presence in the car-loan industry. Prospect Capital is offering $16 a share for Nicholas, a 4.5% premium over Tuesday’s closing price. Nicholas Financial shares edged up 2.8% to $15.70 premarket.

Top Safest Companies To Buy For 2015: Samsung Electronics Co Ltd (SSNLF.PK)

Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. mainly engaged in the production of consumer electronic products. It operates in two divisions: DMC division, which is divided into consumer electronics (CE) and information technology & mobile communications (IM) businesses, as well as DS division, which is divided into semiconductor and liquid crystal display (LCD) businesses. Its CE business engages in the production of color televisions (CTVs), monitors, air conditioners, refrigerators and others. Its IM business engages in the production of printers, computers, handhold phones (HHPs) such as feature phones, smart phones and others, and network systems, among others. Its semiconductor business engages in the production of semiconductors, such as memories, system large scale integrated circuits (LSIs) and others. Its LCD business engages in the production of thin film transistor (TFT) LCDs and organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs), among others.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By George Kesarios]With companies like Google (GOOG), Microsoft (MSFT), Samsung (SSNLF.PK) and even Dell (DELL) all working on making small wrist like devices and bracelets, at the end of the day, success will be determined by the power source and semiconductor components that use extremely low power.
  • [By Markman Advisors]The preferred embodiment disclosed in the ‘043 patent is smart-cards. For that reason, the obvious targets for OTIV to pursue for patent infringement would be the major credit card companies. However, these companies appear to presently be some of OTIV’s major customers, which most likely means they have already taken a license to some, if not all, of OTIV’s patents directed to smart-cards. Accordingly, if OTIV brings additional infringement actions, we expect them to be against competitors of T-Mobile in the market for smartphones, such as AT&T (T), Verizon (VZ), or others. Device manufacturers such as Samsung (SSNLF.PK), HTC (HTCKF.OB), Nokia (NOK) and others may be targets as well.
  • [By Charles Santerre]If the Lumia 925 and 928 have a derivative design, the same can be said for the complete line of Galaxy Series by Samsung (SSNLF.PK) and iPhones by Apple (AAPL). If there is one quality Nokia is still renowned for, it is for its beautiful and sturdy designs. I have even criticized them in an earlier article entitled Nokia’s Challenger Checklist for spending too much on quality in their handsets while it does not seem to be such a high priority for their competitors. In any event, the Lumia 925 has not yet been released, so it’s too soon to obtain real feedback. The 928 has only been available for three weeks now. To date the average rating on Amazon is 4.5 stars out of 5.
  • [By Esekla]Universal Display (OLED) is another company that is changing its ticker symbol (on 6/24, from PANL). My research indicates that this stock is trading well below fair value, which should limit risk, though the volatility figures and revenue predominantly from Samsung (SSNLF.PK) argue otherwise. The reason for the price slump is probably a scale back of sales estimates for the Galaxy S IV, but since Samsung will sell all the OLED displays it can produce, regardless of the devices they go into, this reaction seems unwarranted.

Top Safest Companies To Buy For 2015: General Motors Co (GM)

General Motors Company (GM), incorporated in on September 16, 1908, designs, builds and sells cars, trucks and automobile parts worldwide. The Company also provides automotive financing services through General Motors Financial Company, Inc. (GM Financial). It operates in four automotive segments: GM North America (GMNA), GM Europe (GME), GM International Operations (GMIO) and GM South America (GMSA). GM’s total worldwide vehicle sales were nine million during the year ended December 31, 2011. The Company’s GMNA segment develops, manufactures and/or markets vehicles under the brands, such as Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet and GMC for its customers in North America. GM for its customers outside North America develops, manufactures and/or markets vehicles under the brands, such as Buick Chevrolet, GMC, Opel, Cadillac, Daewoo, Holden and Vauxhall. In March 2011, the Company announced the sale of its Class A Membership Interest in Delphi Automotive LLP (Delphi) back to Delphi. In October 2012, the Company bought back most of the 50% interest in its Indian operations that it had sold to Chinese partner SAIC Motor Corp Ltd and raised its interest in the venture to 93%.

Automotive

GMNA, with sales, manufacturing and distribution operations in the United States, Canada and Mexico and sales and distribution operations in Central America and the Caribbean, represented 32.4% of the Company’s vehicle sales volume in 2011. GME has sales, manufacturing and distribution operations across Western and Central Europe. GME’s vehicle sales volume, which in addition to Western and Central Europe, includes Eastern Europe (including Russia and the other members of the Commonwealth of Independent States among others) represented 19.2% of its vehicle sales volume GMIO distributes Chevrolet brand vehicles which, when sold in Europe, are included in GME vehicle sales volume and market share data. GMIO has sales, manufacturing and distributio n operations in Asia-Pacific, Eastern Europe (including Russ! ia and the other members of the Commonwealth of Independent States among others), Africa and the Middle East. GMIO represented 36.6% of the Company’s global vehicle sales volume, including sales through its joint ventures in 2011. GMSA, with sales, manufacturing and distribution operations in Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela, as well as sales and distribution operations in Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay represented 11.8% of its vehicle sales volume in 2011. In 2011 GMSA derived 59.4% of its vehicle sales volume from Brazil.

As of December 31, 2011, the Company had equity ownership stakes directly or indirectly in entities through various regional subsidiaries, including GM Korea Company (GM Korea), Shanghai General Motors Co., Ltd. (SGM), SAIC-GM-Wuling Automobile Co., Ltd. (SGMW), FAW-GM Light Duty Commercial Vehicle Co., Ltd. (FAW-GM) and SAIC GM Investment Limited (HKJV). These companies design, manufacture and market vehicles under the brands, including Alpheon, Buick, Chevrolet, Jiefang, Baojun, Cadillac, Daewoo and Wuling. In addition to the products GM sells to its dealers for consumer retail sales, and also sells cars and trucks to fleet customers, including daily rental car companies, commercial fleet customers, leasing companies and Governments. It sells vehicles to fleet customers directly or through its network of dealers. The Company’s retail and fleet customers can obtain a range of after sale vehicle services and products through its dealer network, such as maintenance, light repairs, collision repairs, vehicle accessories and extended service warranties.

GM markets vehicles worldwide primarily through a network of independent authorized retail dealers. These outlets include distributors, dealers and authorized sales, service and parts outlets. The Company enters into a contract with each authorized dealer agreeing to sell to the dealer one or more specified product lin es at wholesale prices and granting the dealer the right to ! sell thos! e vehicles to retail customers from an approved location. Authorized dealers offer parts, accessories, service and repairs for GM vehicles in the product lines that they sell using GM parts and accessories. Its dealers are authorized to service GM vehicles under its limited warranty program and those repairs are to be made only with GM parts. The Company also markets FlexFuel vehicles in Australia, Thailand and other markets.

GM produces compressed natural gas capable vehicles in Europe, such as the Opel Zafira, and in the United States, the Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana full-size vans are offered to fleet and commercial customers. It offers LPG capable vehicles in select markets in Europe, Asia Pacific, South America and North America. OnStar Corporation (OnStar) is a wholly owned subsidiary of GM serving more than six million subscribers in the United States, Canada and China. OnStar is a provider of connected safety, security and mobility solutions and in formation technology. OnStar’s principal services include automatic crash response, stolen vehicle assistance, remote door unlock, turn-by-turn navigation, vehicle diagnostics and hands-free calling.

Automotive Financing – GM Financial

GM Financial specializes in purchasing retail automobile installment sales contracts originated by GM and non-GM franchised and independent dealers in connection with the sale of used and new automobiles. GM Financial also offers lease products through GM dealerships in connection with the sale of used and new automobiles. GM Financial primarily generates revenue through the purchase, retention, subsequent securitization and servicing of finance receivables. GM Financial earns finance charge income on finance receivables and pays interest expense on borrowings under its credit facilities. GM Financial periodically transfers receivables to securitization trusts that issue asset-backed securities to investors. In April 2011 GM Financial originated leases for the Company’s cust! omers in ! Canada.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By WWW.DAILYFINANCE.COM]Tom Pidgeon/General Motors via APA 2006 Chevrolet HHR on display at the 2006 Detroit auto show. DETROIT — General Motors on Tuesday doubled to 1.6 million the number of small cars it is recalling to fix faulty ignition switches linked to multiple fatal crashes. Just two weeks ago, GM (GM) announced the recall of more than 780,000 Chevrolet Cobalts and Pontiac G5s. It’s now adding 842,000 Saturn Ion compacts, Chevrolet HHR SUVs and Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky sports cars. The company was immediately lambasted by a well-known safety advocate who says GM knew of the problem for years and waited too long to recall the cars even though people were killed because of the problem. GM says a heavy key ring or jarring from rough roads can cause the ignition switch to move out of the run position and shut off the engine and electrical power. That can knock out power-assisted brakes and steering and disable the front air bags. The problem has been linked to 31 crashes and 13 front-seat deaths. In the fatalities, the air bags didn’t inflate, but the engines didn’t shut off in all cases, GM said. It was unclear whether the ignition switches caused the crashes, or whether people died because the air bags didn’t inflate. The vehicles being recalled include: Chevrolet Cobalts and Pontiac G5s from the 2005 through 2007 model years. Saturn Ion compacts from 2003 through 2007. Chevrolet HHR SUVs from 2006 and 2007. Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky sports cars from 2006 and 2007. Most of the cars were sold in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. According to a chronology of events that GM filed Monday with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the company knew of the problem as early as 2004, and was told of at least one fatal crash in March of 2007. GM issued service bulletins in 2005 and 2006 telling dealers how to fix the problem with a key insert, and advising them to tell customers not to dangle too many items from their key chains. But the company’s rec
  • [By Ben Levisohn]General Motors (GM) is in the news once again, as it expands its recall of cars with faulty ignition switches to 1.4 million vehicles. General Motors’ real problem, however, might have nothing to do with the quality of vehicles made from 2003 to 2007, but competition from Ford (F) and other truck makers in 2014.

    REUTERS

    Barclays’ Brian A. Johnson and team sum up General Motors’ predicament:

    Competition means that [General Motors] has to accept either weak share or lower pricing: Ford is discounting its outgoing ½ ton truck and raising capacity for ¾ ton trucks, while Ram is gaining share through improved product and a segmented focus, as well as continued incentive use. The two OEMs combined have largely been equally responsible in taking the ~330bp of segment share that [General Motors] has lost since ‘12. With [General Motors] trailing 3-month segment share at 34%, we see it as unlikely that it will be able to recover to its ’12 or ‘13 share levels (37.2%/36.5% respectively) without increasing incentives.

    In other words, the discounts that freaked out investors earlier this year might actually have been too small. Scary thought, that.

    Shares of General Motors have gained 0.4% to $36.26 today at 9:59 a.m., while Ford has dropped 0.1% to $15.13, Toyota Motor (TM) has dropped 0.8% $115.53 and Honda Motor (HMC) is off 0.6% at $36.03.

  • [By Ben Levisohn]With all that’s befallen General Motors (GM) this year, it’s no wonder it’s decided to change the subject.

    Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

    General Motors has been beset by a recall, concerns about discounts, missed earnings forecasts and a sales slump. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that General Motors would choose to focus on something else, like, say, sales in the world’s second-largest economy.

    Bloomberg has the details:

    General Motors Co. may see a 10 percent sales jump in China this year, matching its top-range forecast for industrywide growth in the nation, where consumers are buying more cars and the company plans 19 new or refreshed vehicles.

    GM, the second-largest foreign automaker in China, on that basis could see auto sales increase to about 3.5 million this year from 3.16 million in 2013. The Detroit-based company is forecasting an industry sales jump of 8 percent to 10 percent in the country.

    Shares of General Motors have gained 0.2% today, while Ford Motor (F) has dropped 0.5% to $15.19, Toyota Motor (TM) has gained 1.1% to $116.54 and Honda Motor (HMC) is up 0.3% at $36.26.

Top Safest Companies To Buy For 2015: Old Republic International Corporation(ORI)

Old Republic International Corporation, through its subsidiaries, provides various insurance and mortgage guaranty products in North America. The company operates in three segments: General Insurance, Mortgage Guaranty, and Title Insurance. The General Insurance segment provides liability insurance coverages to businesses, government, and other institutions in commercial construction, forest products, energy, general manufacturing, and financial services industries; and transportation, including trucking and general aviation industries. It provides various insurance products, such as automobile extended warranty, aviation, commercial automobile insurance, general liability, home warranty, inland marine, travel accident, and workers? compensation, as well as liability coverage for claims arising from the acts of owners or employees, and protection for the physical assets of businesses. This segment also offers financial indemnity products, such as consumer credit indemnity , errors and omissions/directors and officers, guaranteed asset protection, and surety, as well as bonds that cover the exposures for losses of monies, or debt and equity securities due to acts of employee dishonesty. The Mortgage Guaranty segment insures first mortgage loans, primarily on residential properties incorporating one-to-four family dwelling units to mortgage bankers, brokers, commercial banks, and savings institutions. The Title Insurance segment provides lenders’ and owners’ title insurance policies to real estate purchasers and investors based upon searches of the public records. It also provides escrow closing and construction disbursement services; and real estate information products, national default management services, and services related to real estate transfers and loan transactions. Old Republic International Corporation markets its products directly, as well as through insurance agents and brokers. The company was founded in 1887 and is based in Chi cago, Illinois.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Lawrence Meyers]The part I like the most is that WGL sells energy credits and carbon offsets to retail customers. The company makes good money on these elements, selling to customers who just like to feel good about how they are “helping the environment”. WGL has a long history as an energy company and has paid a dividend for 37 years. It currently pays 4.3% annually.

    Old Republic International (ORI)

    The next of our dividend stocks is one you may have heard of: Old Republic International (ORI). Old Republic started back in 1887 and is an insurance company that offers a huge array of products. A lot of insurance products are very high margin, and Old Republic has mastered the art of selling these. Extended Automobile Warranty, Home Warranty an Travel Accident Insurance are great segments to be playing in.

  • [By Marc Bastow]Insurance underwriting company Old Republic (ORI) raised its quarterly dividend 5.8% to 18 cents per share, payable on Dec. 16 to shareholders of record as of Dec. 4.
    ORI Dividend Yield: 4.28%
  • [By Ben Levisohn]Its big day has also boosted other insurers. Radian Group (RDN) has risen 7.2% to $14.39, while Old Republic International (ORI) has advanced 2.1% to $15.24, Genworth Financial (GNW) is up 3.6% at $13.41 and MBIA Inc. (MBI) has jumped 4.3% to $10.76.
  • [By Holly LaFon]Prem Watsa is renowned for his long track record of outstanding returns using Buffett-style value investing through his worldwide insurance and reinsurance company, Toronto-based Fairfax Financial Holdings. His five-year cumulative is 176.4%, compared to 12.2% for the S&P 500. Most recently, he made headlines for making a large contrarian bet on Research In Motion (RIMM) and joining its board in his first activist investing foray. In the fourth quarter, he added to this position. He also added to his positions in Citigroup Inc. (C), Old Republic Corp. (ORI) and Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) and dramatically reduced one of his largest holdings, Dell (DELL). As a Ben Graham devotee, Watsa looks past short-term fluctuations in price to the underlying strength of a business. His stance on the economy, as of September and October 2011, was that he believed the U.S. was showing Depression-level interest rates and deficits, but he still liked some stocks and would hedge his exposure, he told CFA Institute Magazine.

Top Safest Companies To Buy For 2015: Black Hills Corporation (BKH)

Black Hills Corporation, together with its subsidiaries, operates as a diversified energy company in the United States. The company’s Electric Utilities segment generates, transmits, and distributes electricity to approximately 202,000 electric customers in South Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado, and Montana; and distributes natural gas to approximately 35,000 gas utility customers in Cheyenne, Wyoming. It owns 859 Megawatts of generation capacity and 8,530 miles of electric transmission and distribution lines. The company’s Gas Utilities segment distributes natural gas to approximately 532,000 natural gas utility customers in Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa, and Kansas. It owns 624 miles of intrastate gas transmission pipelines and 19,979 miles of gas distribution mains and service lines. The company’s Oil and Gas segment is involved in the acquisition, exploration, development, and production of crude oil and natural gas primarily in the Rocky Mountain region. This s egment’s principal assets include the operating interests in the properties in the San Juan basin, the Powder River basin, and the Piceance basin; and non-operated interests in wells located in the Williston, Wind River, Bear Paw Uplift, Arkoma, Anadarko, and Sacramento basins. As of December 31, 2012, it had total reserves of approximately 81 billion cubic feet equivalent of natural gas and crude oil. The company’s Power Generation segment produces electric power and sells the electric capacity and energy primarily to other utilities under long-term contracts. Its Coal Mining segment produces coal at its coal mine located near Gillette, Wyoming. The company also provides appliance repair services to approximately 62,000 residential customers; and constructs gas infrastructure facilities for gas transportation customers. Black Hills Corporation was founded in 1941 and is headquartered in Rapid City, South Dakota.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Marc Bastow]Diversified energy company Black Hills (BKH) raised its quarterly dividend 2.6% to 39 cents per share, payable on Mar. 1 to shareholders of record as of Feb. 14. This is the 44th consecutive annual dividend increase, proving why utilities make such consistent dividend stocks.
    BKH Dividend Yield: 2.84%
  • [By Laura Brodbeck]Monday

    Earnings Releases Expected: Black Hills Corporation (NYSE: BKH), CME Group Inc. (NASDAQ: CME), Leapfrog Enterprises (NYSE: LF), Hill International, Inc. (NYSE: HIL) Economic Releases Expected: eurozone manufacturing PMI, British construction PMI, US factory orders, Chinese services PMI, Indian services PMI

    Tuesday

Top Safest Companies To Buy For 2015: NCI Building Systems Inc. (NCS)

NCI Building Systems, Inc. engages in the manufacture and marketing of metal products primarily for the nonresidential construction industry in North America. The company’s Metal Coil Coating segment involved in cleaning, treating, and painting various flat rolled metal coil materials, as well as in slitting and/or embossing the metal, before the steel is fabricated for use by various construction and industrial users. It also cleans, treats, and coats hot-rolled and light gauge metal coils for third parties for various applications, such as construction products, heating and air conditioning systems, water heaters, lighting fixtures, ceiling grids, office furniture, appliances, and other products; and provides toll coating services and painted metal package. This segment serves manufacturers of engineered building systems and metal components, as well as steel mills, metal service centers, and painted coil distributors. NCI Building Systems, Inc.’s Metal Components segm ent designs, engineers, manufactures, and markets metal components, including metal roof and wall systems, metal partitions, metal trims, doors, and other related accessories for construction, repair and retrofit, architectural, and engineered building system applications. It sells metal components directly to regional manufacturers, contractors, subcontractors, distributors, lumberyards, co-operative buying groups, and other customers. This segment also manufactures roll-up doors; and sells interior and exterior walk doors for use in self storage industry, and metal and other buildings. The company’s Engineered Building Systems segment offers engineered building systems and self-storage building systems for commercial, industrial, agricultural, governmental, and community markets. This segment sells its products to builders, general contractors, developers, private label companies, and end users through an in-house sales force. The company was founded in 1984 and is headq u artered in Houston, Texas.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By John Udovich]Small cap building materials stock NCI Building Systems Inc (NYSE: NCS) fell yesterday after announcing a share offering plus its investors have (so-far) missed out on any “recovery” in construction – meaning it might be time to take a closer look at the stock along with potential performance benchmarks like the PowerShares Dynamic Building & Construction ETF (NYSEARCA: PKB) and the First Trust ISE Global Engineering and Construction Index Fund ETF (NYSEARCA: FLM) – both of which have had decent returns in recent years.
  • [By Ben Levisohn]NCI Building Systems (NCS) has dropped 17% to $10.00 after the close after reporting a loss 19 cents, far worse than analyst forecasts for a 3 cent loss.

Top Safest Companies To Buy For 2015: Markwest Energy Partners LP (MWE)

MarkWest Energy Partners, L.P. (MarkWest Energy) is a master limited partnership engaged in the gathering, processing and transportation of natural gas; the transportation, fractionation, storage and marketing of natural gas liquids (NGLs), and the gathering and transportation of crude oil. It provides services in the midstream sector of the natural gas industry. The Company also provides processing and fractionation services to crude oil refineries in the Corpus Christi, Texas area through its Javelina gas processing and fractionation facility. As of December 31, 2011, the Company operated in four segments: Southwest, Northeast, Liberty and Gulf Coast. Effective December 31, 2011, the Company acquired the remaining 49% interest in MarkWest Liberty Midstream. On February 1, 2011, the Company acquired Langley processing plant.

Southwest Segment

The Company owns a system in East Texas that consists of natural gas gathering pipelines, centralized compressor stations, a natural gas processing facility and an NGL pipeline. The East Texas system is located in Panola, Harrison and Rusk Counties and services the Carthage Field. Producing formations in Panola County consist of the Cotton Valley, Pettit, Travis Peak and Haynesville formations. During the year ended December 31, 2011, approximately 77% of its natural gas volumes in the East Texas System result from contracts with six producers. The Company sells substantially all of the purchased and retained NGLs produced at its East Texas processing facility to Targa Resources Partners, L.P. (Targa) under a long-term contract. Such sales represent approximately 19.4% of its consolidated revenue in 2011.

The Company owns a natural gas gathering system in the Woodford Shale play in the Arkoma Basin of southeast Oklahoma. The liquids-rich natural gas gathered in the Woodford system is processed through Centrahoma Processing LLC (Centrahoma), its equity investment, or othe r third-party processors. In addition, it owns the Foss Lake! natural gas gathering system and the Western Oklahoma natural gas processing complex, all located in Roger Mills, Beckham, Custer and Ellis Counties of western Oklahoma. The gathering portion consists of a pipeline system that is connected to natural gas wells and associated compression facilities. The Company also owns a gathering system in the Granite Wash formation in Wheeler County in the Texas panhandle that is connected to its Western Oklahoma processing complex. The Company completed the expansion of the Western Oklahoma natural gas processing plant in October 2011.

Approximately 70% of its Oklahoma volumes result from contracts with three producers in 2011. The Company sells substantially all of the NGLs produced in the Western Oklahoma processing complex to ONEOK Hydrocarbon L.P. (ONEOK) under a long-term contract. Such sales represent approximately 13.2% of its consolidated revenue in 2011. The Company owns a number of natural gas gathering systems lo cated in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and New Mexico, including the Appleby gathering system in Nacogdoches County, Texas. It gathers a portion of the gas produced from fields adjacent to its gathering systems, including from wells targeting the Haynesville Shale. In addition, it owns four lateral pipelines in Texas and New Mexico.

Northeast Segment

The Company’s Northeast segment assets include the Kenova, Boldman, Cobb, Kermit and Langley natural gas processing plants, an NGL pipeline and the Siloam NGL fractionation plant. In addition, it has two caverns for storing propane at its Siloam facility and additional propane storage capacity under a long-term firm-capacity agreement with a third party. The Northeast segment operations include fractionation and marketing services on behalf of the Liberty segment. The Company owns and operates a crude oil pipeline in Michigan (Michigan Crude Pipeline) providing transportation service for three shippe rs.

Liberty Segment

The Company pr! ovides na! tural gas midstream services in southwestern Pennsylvania and northern West Virginia through MarkWest Liberty Midstream. It is a processor of natural gas in the Marcellus Shale, with gathering, processing, fractionation, storage and marketing operations.

Utica Segment

Effective January 1, 2012, the Company and The Energy and Minerals Group (EMG) formed MarkWest Utica EMG, a joint venture focused on the development of natural gas processing and NGL fractionation, transportation and marketing infrastructure to serve producers’ drilling programs in the Utica shale in eastern Ohio. During 2011, the Utica Segment did not have any operations.

Gulf Coast Segment

The Company owns and operates the Javelina processing facility, a natural gas processing facility in Corpus Christi, Texas that treats and processes off-gas from six local refineries operated by three different refinery customers. As of December 31, 2011, the Company owned a 40% interest in Centrahoma Processing LLC (Centrahoma), a joint venture with Cardinal Midstream, LLC (Cardinal). Centrahoma owns certain processing plants in the Arkoma Basin and Cardinal operates an additional processing plant that is not owned by Centrahoma but is located adjacent to and operates in conjunction with the Centrahoma plants.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Callum Turcan]The Utica Marcellus Texas Pipeline is being constructed by another joint venture, but this time between Kinder Morgan Energy Partners and MarkWest Energy Partners (NYSE: MWE  ) . In order for NGL producers to want to use the new pipeline, they need to know someone at the end of the line will be able to buy and process their product. Kinder Morgan Energy Partners is nice enough to offer both the logistics and the processing capacity to allow America’s energy boom to happen.
  • [By Mike Deane]After the bell on Tuesday, Markwest Energy Partners LP (MWE) announced its third quarter earnings, with revenue rising substantially from last year’s third quarter.

    MWE Earnings in Brief

    -Markwest’s revenue for the quarter came in at $420.5 million, a huge gain from last year’s same quarter revenue of $280.6 million. This was still not enough to top analysts’ revenue estimates of $458.22 million
    -Even with much higher revenue, MWE still posted a loss for the quarter of $20.03 million, which was more than last year’s loss of $15.27 million.
    -The company posted an EPS loss of 17 cents, which was larger than last year’s Q3 loss of 13 cents, and far below the analysts’ estimate of 24 cents EPS profit.

    CEO Commentary

    Frank Semple, Markwest’s chairman, president and CEO, had the following comments about the quarterly results: “Our results reflect the continued success of our producers’ as they rapidly develop their acreage positions in high-quality unconventional resource plays, as well as several short-term operational constraints that we have recently experienced in the Northeast. Development of the Marcellus and Utica Shales continues to provide us with significant future growth opportunities for the expansion of critical midstream infrastructure. We are committed to providing our producers with exceptional customer service and unique solutions that will support their ongoing success.”

    Dividend

    Markwest made no mention of a dividend change in its earnings report, which was not a surprise, as the company just raised its quarterly dividend by 1 cent at the end of October. The quarterly dividend of 85 cents went ex-dividend on November 5 and will be paid this Thursday. Markwest has raised its dividend every quarter for the past three years.

    Stock Performance

    MWE stock was up 39 cents, or 0.52%, at Tuesday’s market close. YTD, the company’s s

  • [By Dr. Kent Moors]From the Editor: Shares of MarkWest Energy Partners (NYSE: MWE) are up 63% since Kent recommended them in Energy Advantage. Genesis Energy LP (Nasdaq: GEL) is up 71%. But the MLP market is about to get much more interesting, according to Kent. That’s why he’s targeting the “clones” now…

Top Safest Companies To Buy For 2015: China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation(SNP)

China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation engages in the exploration, development, production, and marketing of crude oil and natural gas properties primarily in China. It operates 16 oil and gas production fields in China. As of December 31, 2010, the company?s estimated proved reserves of crude oil and natural gas consisted of 3,963 million barrels-of-oil equivalent comprising 2,888 million barrels of crude oil and 6,447 billion cubic feet of natural gas. It also engages in the refining of crude oil; marketing and distribution of refined petroleum products; and production and sale of petrochemical products that consist of intermediate petrochemicals, synthetic resins, synthetic fiber monomers and polymers, synthetic fibers, synthetic rubber, and chemical fertilizers, as well as owns and operates oil depots and service stations. The company was founded in 2000 and is based in Beijing, the People?s Republic of China. China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation is a subsidiary of C hina Petrochemical Corporation.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By WWW.MARKETWATCH.COM]HONG KONG (MarketWatch) — Hong Kong stocks opened higher on Tuesday, as global investors look ahead to U.S. Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen’s first public remarks later in the day. The Hang Seng Index (HK:HSI) rose 0.7% to 21,722.66. Asia’s largest oil and gas company — PetroChina Co. Ltd (HK:857) (PTR) — climbed 2%, after the company said it has found a large natural-gas reserve in China’s southwestern Sichuan basin, with 308 cubic meters of technically recoverable gas. Cnooc Ltd. (HK:883) (CEO) , China’s largest offshore oil and gas producer, jumped 3.3%, while top refiner China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. (HK:386) (SNP) also added 1.6%. Oilfield-equipment shares also benefited from the rally, as China Oilfield Services Ltd. (HK:2883) (CHOLF) gained 1.7%. Huadian Fuxin Energy Corp. Ltd. (HK:816) , the renewable-energy unit of Chinese state-owned power giant China Huadian Corp., jumped 3.2%, after the company said last week it had raised 1.18 billion Hong Kong dollars (about $152 million) through a sale of shares to institutional investors. Waste-management and energy company China Everbright International Ltd. (HK:257) (CHFFF) advanced 2.4%, and China Datang Renewable Power Co. Ltd. (HK:1798) tacked on
  • [By Aaron Levitt]According to both Chinese and Russian insiders, the two BRIC nations have finally agreed upon terms of a massive deal that would finally get Russian gas inside China via a massive pipeline system. Building on success of a recent partnership between Russian state-owned Rosneft (RNFTF) and Chinese state-owned refiner Sinopec (SNP) for crude oil imports, Russia and China have agreed on the price at which natural will be supplied. That sticking point had derailed the negotiations for more than a decade.
  • [By Daniel Inman]In Hong Kong, China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. (HK:386)   (SNP)  posted a 20% rise in its third-quarter net profit from a year earlier, helping to lift the company’s stock by 1.7%. PetroChina Co. (HK:857)   (PTR) , however, dropped 0.6% after reporting a 19% increase in net profit over the same period.

Top Safest Companies To Buy For 2015: Wausau Paper Corp. (WPP)

Wausau Paper Corp. manufactures, converts, and sells paper and paper products in the United States and internationally. It operates in two segments, Tissue and Paper. The Tissue segment produces and sells paper towel and tissue products for the ?away-from-home? market, including washroom roll and folded towels, windshield folded towels, industrial wipers, dairy towels, household roll towels, and various towel, tissue, and soap dispensers, as well as other premium towel and tissue products to paper and sanitary supply distributors under the DublSoft, EcoSoft, OptiCore, Revolution, Dubl-Nature, and Dubl-Tough names. The Paper segment focuses on four core markets comprising food, industrial and tape, coated and liner, and print and color. This segment manufactures products for food processing, food packaging, and foodservice, such as products used for baking applications, microwave popcorn, and other cheese and meat processing products; products for interleaving, saturating, coating, unsaturated crepe base, and a range of micro markets; specialty liners, and siliconized release papers for use in pressure sensitive tapes, specialty label applications, the production of fiber composite applications, and casting sheets used in the production of solar cells; and uncoated printing, writing, text, cover, and board grades for commercial printers, in-plant print shops, quick printers, copy centers, and office supply and mass merchandisers under the Wausau Paper, EcoSelect, ExperTec, DuraTec, InvenTec, ProGard, ProRedi, ProPly, ProTec, Astrobrights, Royal, Exact, Professional Series, Intrigue, and Creative Collection names. This segment also produces a range of custom color products, which include matte board, end leaf, and luxury packaging applications. Wausau Paper Corp. was founded in 1899 and is headquartered in Mosinee, Wisconsin.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Seth Jayson]Calling all cash flows
    When you are trying to buy the market’s best stocks, it’s worth checking up on your companies’ free cash flow once a quarter or so, to see whether it bears any relationship to the net income in the headlines. That’s what we do with this series. Today, we’re checking in on Wausau Paper (NYSE: WPP  ) , whose recent revenue and earnings are plotted below.
  • [By Mariko Yasu]Dentsu paid 3.16 billion pounds ($4.8 billion) for Aegis as Japan’s biggest agency competes with global firms including WPP Plc (WPP) and Omnicom Group Inc. (OMC) With Japan’s benchmark Topix index on pace for its best result since 2005, the 112-year-old company is tapping an equities boom to fund the deal that added the largest independent buyer of advertising space and reduced its reliance on the domestic market.
  • [By Jonathan Morgan]WPP Plc (WPP), the world’s biggest advertising company, advanced 3.6 percent to 1,210 pence in London trading.

    LSE advanced 7.4 percent to 1,590 pence, the highest price since February 2008, as the operator of Europe’s oldest independent bourse reported a 39 percent increase in first-quarter revenue.