Stocks are under pressure Thursday after markets in Asia fell on some weaker than expected Chinese manufacturing data and investors respond to corporate moves.
In morning trading, the Dow Jones industrial average, Standard & Poor’s 500 index and Nasdaq composite are all down about 0.1%.
Walmart and Facebook stock are taking a pounding, with each down 2.4% or more.
WAL-MART: Earnings report shows challenges
Investors are reacting to Wednesday’s after-the-close news that Facebook will pay $4 billion in cash and $12 billion in stock for WhatsApp, a mobile messaging app that boasts 450 million users. The move follows last year’s failed attempt by Facebook to acquire Snapchat for $3 billion.
Before Thursday’s opening bell Walmart reported a profit plunge of 21%. Walmart CEO Doug McMillion emphasized that the company’s global online sales, including acquisitions, topped $10 billion, a 30% increase over last year.
Best Asian Companies To Buy For 2014: Taro Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd (TARO)
Taro Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., incorporated in 1959, is a science-based pharmaceutical company. The Company develops manufactures, and markets prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) pharmaceutical products, primarily in the United States, Canada and Israel. The Company also develops and manufactures active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs), primarily for use in its finished dosage form products. The Company’s primary areas of focus include pediatric creams and ointments, liquids, capsules and tablets, mainly in the dermatological and topical, cardiovascular, neuropsychiatric and anti-inflammatory therapeutic categories. The Company operates through three companies: Taro Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. (Taro Israel), and two of its subsidiaries (including indirect), Taro Pharmaceuticals Inc. (Taro Canada) and Taro U.S.A. The Company markets more than 180 pharmaceutical products in over 25 countries.
Taro Israel manufactures more than 160 finished dosage form pharmaceutical products for sale in Israel and for export. It produces APIs used in the manufacture of finished dosage form pharmaceutical products. It markets and distributes generic products in the local Israeli market. Taro Israel’s primary product lines include dermatology, prescription and OTC semi-solid products (creams, ointments and gels) and liquids; cardiology and neurology, prescription oral dosage products; oral analgesics, both prescription and OTC, and OTC oral and nasal sprays and ophthalmic products.
Taro Canada manufactures more than 70 finished dosage form pharmaceutical products for sale in Canada and for export. It markets and distributes generic products in the local Canadian market. Its product line includes dermatology: prescription and OTC semi-solid products (creams, ointments and gels) and liquids, cardiology, oncology, gastrointestinal and neurology: prescription oral and injects able dosage products, and allergy (antihistamine ): OTC oral dosage products.
Taro U.S.A markets! and distributes generic products in the United States market. Its primary product lines include dermatology: prescription and OTC semi-solid products (creams, ointments and gels) and liquids, cardiology and neurology: prescription oral dosage products, and other prescription and OTC products.
The Company competes with Bristol-Myers Squibb, GlaxoSmithKline, Merck, Novartis, Pfizer/Wyeth, Valeant, Galderma, Merck/Schering-Plough, Teva Pharmaceuticals U.S.A., Mylan Laboratories, Perrigo Company, Ranbaxy Pharmaceuticals Inc., Sandoz Pharmaceuticals, Merck Canada Inc., Pfizer Canada Inc., Janssen Inc., Schering-Plough Canada, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada Inc., GlaxoSmithKline Inc., Bayer Inc., Bristol-Myers Squibb Canada, Apotex Inc., Teva Canada Limited, Mylan Pharmaceuticals ULC, Sandoz Canada Incorporated, Pharmascience Inc., Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., Perrigo Israel Pharmaceuticals Ltd., Dexxon Ltd., Rafa Laboratories Ltd., Bayer AG, Eli Lilly and C ompany, Merck & Co., Inc. and Pfizer Inc.
- [By Ben Levisohn]
Teva has dropped 7.7% to $37.85 today at 3:23 p.m. but doesn’t seem to be spreading though the generic drug space. Taro Pharmaceuticals (TARO) ha gained 1.1% to $79, while Actavis (ACT) has gained 1.2% to $156.25 and Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories (RDY) has advanced 1% to $40.24. Mylan (MYL) has dropped 0.7% to $38.40.
- [By Rich Smith]
Israeli drugmaker Taro Pharmaceutical Industries (NYSE: TARO ) has a new CEO — and a new Chairman of the Board, as well.
On Thursday, Taro announced the imminent retirement of Interim Chief Executive Officer Mr. James Kedrowsk, who will be replaced August 1 by new permanent CEO Mr. Kalyanasundaram Subramanian (“Kal Sundaram”). Additionally, the company said that Dilip Shanghvi has been appointed Chairman of its Board of Directors.
Best Asian Companies To Buy For 2014: Hovnanian Enterprises Inc (HOV)
Hovnanian Enterprises, Inc. (Hovnanian), incorporated in 1967, designs, constructs, markets, and sells single-family detached homes, attached townhomes and condominiums, mid-rise condominiums, urban infill and active adult homes in planned residential developments. The Company consists of two distinct operations: homebuilding and financial services. Its homebuilding operations consist of six segments: Northeast,including New Jersey and Pennsylvania; Mid-Atlantic, including Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington, D.C; Midwest, including Illinois, Minnesota and Ohio; Southeast, including Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina; Southwest, including Arizona and Texas, and West, including California. Its financial services operations provide mortgage loans and title services to the customers of its homebuilding operations. During fiscal year ended October 31, 2011 (fiscal 2011), the Company had delivered 4,216 homes.
As of October 31, 2011, the Company was, excluding unconsolidated joint ventures, offering homes for sale in 192 communities in 37 markets in 16 states throughout the United States. It markets and builds homes for first-time buyers, first-time and second-time move-up buyers, luxury buyers, active adult buyers and empty nesters. It offers a product range to provide housing to a range of customers. Its diverse product array includes single-family detached homes, attached townhomes and condominiums, mid-rise condominiums, urban infill and active adult homes.
The Company’s residential development activities include site planning and engineering, obtaining environmental and other regulatory approvals and constructing roads, sewer, water, and drainage facilities, recreational facilities and other amenities and marketing and selling homes. These activities are performed by its associates, together with independent architects, consultants, and contractors.
The Company sells its homes to customers who finance their purchases th! rough mortgages. It originates loans in Arizona, California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, Washington, D.C. and West Virginia.
- [By Dan Caplinger]
In the following video, Dan Caplinger, The Motley Fool’s director of investment planning, looks at recent data from RealtyTrac noting that 9.3 million homeowners remain underwater on their homes by at least 25%. Dan points out how even a big rise in prices and efforts from JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM ) , Bank of America (NYSE: BAC ) , and Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC ) to agree to modify customer mortgages haven’t made a huge dent in those numbers. Dan notes that big problems exist in hard-hit states like Nevada and Florida, causing potential problems for Hovnanian (NYSE: HOV ) , PulteGroup (NYSE: PHM ) , and other homebuilders seeking to recover from the worst of the crisis.
- [By Erika Janowicz]
Compass Point analyst Wilkes Graham updated his housing forecast:
Graham increased assumed ROI’s to 9% on average from 7%. Reduced targeted sector price/ book from $190% to 170%. Expects 20-30% growth in starts and new home sales in 2012 and 2013 to stabilize in 2014 and on at approximately 10%. For covered builders, the analyst lowered estimates by 8% and lowered price targets by 10%. Compass Point expects 10% annual growth in single family starts and new home sales and 2-5% pricing growth. Downgraded DR Horton Inc. (NYSE: DHI) from Buy to Neutral and KB Home (NYSE: KBH) from Neutral to Sell. DR Horton’s and KB Home’s PT was lowered from $23.50 to $20.00 and from $17.50 to $14.00, respectively. Graham reiterated a Buy rating on Ryland Group Inc. (NYSE: RYL) and Standard Pacific Corp. (NYSE: SPF). The analyst raised the PT on Ryland from $50.00 to $50.50 and lowered the PT on Standard Pacific from $10.00 to $9.50. Compass Point reiterated a Neutral rating on Beazer Homes USA Inc. (NYSE: BZH), Hovnanian Enterprises Inc. (NYSE: HOV), Lennar Corp. (NYSE: LEN), PulteGroup, Inc. (NYSE: PHM), and Toll Brothers Inc. (NYSE: TOL). The price target for Beazer and Hovnanian was raised from $15.50 to $24.00 and $5.00 to $5.75, respectively. Graham lowered the PT for Lennar, Pulte, and Toll to $34.50, $17.00, and $31.00.
This Week’s Data
Best Asian Companies To Buy For 2014: Soul And Vibe Interactive Inc (SOUL)
Soul and Vibe Interactive, Inc., incorporated on 5, 2011, is a video and computer games company. The Company develops, publishes and digitally distributes interactive entertainment for video game consoles, mobile devices, and personal computers. It focuses on the development of its products for a variety of hardware platforms: video game consoles (for example: Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3), mobile (for example: Apple iOS and Android devices, and Windows Phones), and personal computers (for example: PC and Mac). The Company has five games, which consists of The Wheaties Challenge, Bugaboo, Grimwhiskers, a virtual-pet game that may bear a licensed-brand, and The Dragon Wars.
The Wheaties Challenge is an adrenaline-charged arcade sports compilation for console, mobile, and personal computer (PC)/Mac. The game promotes family health and wellness, is sponsored by General Mills, and features Wheaties as its signature brand. Bugaboo is an action-puzzle game for console s, mobile devices and PCs. The core play mechanic is Shadow Weaving. Grimwhiskers is a side scrolling action game for consoles, mobile devices and PCs.
The Company competes with Zynga, Electronic Arts, Activision, Playdom, Ubisoft and Majesco.
- [By Peter Graham]
Small cap entertainment or gaming stocks Soul and Vibe Interactive Inc (OTCBB: SOUL), Elray Resources Inc (OTCMKTS: ELRA) and Players Network (OTCMKTS: PNTV) focus on entertaining consumers. However, its important to remember that consumers can be very fickle when it comes to entertainment or games. So should you be entertaining any of these small caps? Here is a closer look and a reality check:
- [By Peter Graham]
Small cap stocks Soul and Vibe Interactive Inc (OTCBB: SOUL), Globalstar, Inc (OTCMKTS: GSAT) and Poly Shield Technologies Inc (OTCBB: SHPR) have been getting some attention lately in various investment newsletters or investor alerts with at least two of these stocks being the subject of some sort of paid stock promotional or investor relations type of activities. With that in mind, just how hot are these three small cap stocks for investors or traders? Here is a quick reality check:
Best Asian Companies To Buy For 2014: Clean Diesel Technologies Inc.(CDTI)
Clean Diesel Technologies, Inc. engages in the manufacture and distribution of emissions control systems and products for heavy duty diesel and light duty vehicle markets. The company operates in two divisions, Heavy Duty Diesel Systems and Catalyst. The Heavy Duty Diesel Systems division designs and manufactures verified exhaust emissions control solutions that are used to reduce exhaust emissions created by on-road, off-road, and stationary diesel and alternative fuel engines, including propane and natural gas. Its products include closed crankcase ventilation systems, diesel oxidation catalysts, diesel particulate filters, Platinum Plus fuel-borne catalysts, ARIS selective catalytic reduction reagents, catalyzed wire mesh diesel particulate filters, alternative fuel products, and exhaust accessories. This division offers its products for original equipment manufacturers of heavy duty diesel equipment, such as mining equipment, vehicles, generator sets, and construction equipment, as well as retrofit customers consisting of school districts, municipalities, and other fleet operators. The Catalyst division produces catalyst formulations using its proprietary MPC technology for gasoline, diesel, and natural gas induced emissions. Its products comprise catalysts for gasoline engines, diesel engines, and energy applications. This division supplies its catalysts to automotive manufacturers and large heavy duty diesel engine manufacturers. The company sells its products through a network of distributors and dealers, and its direct sales force worldwide. Clean Diesel Technologies, Inc. is based in Ventura, California.
- [By Paul Ausick]
One Nasdaq stock posting outsized gains today is Clean Diesel Technologies Inc. (NASDAQ: CDTI) which is getting a share price boost of 68.85%. The company announced that it will begin shipping emissions control systems’ catalysts to Honda in the first half of this year. The stock will close at around $4.82 in a 52-week range of $1.10 to $7.39 (the high was set today and was nearly double Monday’s closing price of $2.83). Volume was about 36-times the daily average of around nearly 525,000 shares traded.
- [By James E. Brumley]
Did you miss today’s 123% pop from Clean Diesel Technologies, Inc. (NASDAQ:CDTI)? If you didn’t chase it higher after the bullish gap left behind at the open, then good for you – you made the right choice. As tempting as CDTI looked then (and still does), the bulk of any near-term gain here has already been realized, and there’s no real point in jumping on the bandwagon now. Fear not if you missed the big move from Clean Diesel Technologies though. There’s another, smaller name playing the same game, and you won’t have to pay a fortune for it just to take a big risk.
- [By Bryan Murphy]
Look out Clean Diesel Technologies, Inc. (NASDAQ:CDTI), and Cummins Inc. (NYSE:CMI), you may want to take notice too. Little HydroPhi Technologies Group, Inc. (OTCMKTS:HPTG) is about to make a big splash in your pool, which could make life very difficult and much easier (respectively) for the two of you. How’s that? In simplest terms, all signs point to HydroPhi Technologies’ diesel efficiency working quite well, saving those who use it money, while simultaneously saving the environment.
- [By CRWE]
Clean Diesel Technologies, Inc. (Nasdaq:CDTI), a cleantech emissions control company, will be a presenter at the 3rd Annual Craig-Hallum Capital Group Alpha Select Conference. The presentation is scheduled for 2:10 p.m. ET on Thursday, September 27, 2012 at the Sentry Centers in New York.
Best Asian Companies To Buy For 2014: Pain Therapeutics Inc (PTIE)
Pain Therapeutics, Inc., incorporated in May 1998, is a biopharmaceutical company that develops drugs. The Company has four drug candidates in clinical programs, including REMOXY, abuse-resistant hydromorphone, abuse-resistant hydrocodone and a radio-labeled monoclonal antibody to treat metastatic melanoma. It is also working on a new treatment for patients with hemophilia. The Company’s lead drug candidate is REMOXY, which is a painkiller. It has collaboration agreement with King Pharmaceuticals, Inc (King) develops and commercializes REMOXY and other opioid painkillers. The Company and King jointly managed a Phase III clinical program and New Drug Application (NDA) submission for REMOXY. It is also developing a pipeline of drug candidates in the area of oncology and hematology. It owns all commercial rights to its pipeline of drug candidates in oncology and hematology. As of December 31, 2010, the Company leased approximately 30,700 square feet of space in San Mateo, California and all of its operations are located in San Mateo.
REMOXY is a controlled-release oral capsule form of oxycodone in a highly viscous liquid formulation matrix that includes excipients. It is formulated to help address issues of abuse and misuse of time-release oxycodone tablets. REMOXY’s capsule dosage form provides therapeutic drug levels of oxycodone on a twice-daily dosing schedule, while resisting the rapid increases in plasma levels of oxycodone associated with common methods of abuse and misuse. Its formulation also resists delivery by unapproved routes of administration, such as injection, snorting or inhalation.
The Company is developing a drug candidate called PTI-188 to treat metastatic melanoma, a form of skin cancer. PTI-188 is a monoclonal antibody linked to a radioisotope, intended to deliver doses of radiation lethal to melanoma tumors without harming normal tissue. I n March 2010, the Company announced data from two open-label! , dose-escalating Phase I studies conducted in Israel to assess the safety, pharmacokinetics, dosimetry and anti-tumor activity of PTI-188. During the year ended December 31, 2010, the second study was completed. The technology used in this program was developed at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine (AECOM). It had licensed worldwide commercial rights to this technology from AECOM.
The Company has a gene transfer program, initially developed at Stanford University, focused at correcting a genetic disorder in which patients are unable to stop bleeding. During 2010, it conducted a variety of pre-clinical studies with this technology. The Company has licensed worldwide commercial rights to the technology used in this program from Poetic Genetics, LLC (Poetic).
Other product candidates
The Company’s alliance with King includes development of three other abuse-resistant opioid product candidates: hydromorphone , hydrocodone and oxymorphone. Its abuse-resistant formulations of hydromorphone and hydrocodone have completed Phase I clinical trials. In January 2011, the Company announced that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had accepted its investigational IND, for abuse-resistant oxymorphone.
The Company competes with Roxane Laboratories, Purdue Pharma, King Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Abbott Laboratories, Cephalon, Endo Pharmaceuticals, Teva Pharmaceuticals, Elkins-Sinn, Watson Laboratories, Ortho-McNeil Pharmaceutical and Forest Pharmaceuticals.
- [By Sean Williams]
However, all isn’t well when it comes to the future of abuse-resistant painkiller Remoxy, which was developed by Pain Therapeutics (NASDAQ: PTIE ) , using Durect’s special technology-based gel capsule to prevent abuse, and is licensed by Pfizer (NYSE: PFE ) . Remoxy has been rejected twice by the FDA — the most recent coming in mid-2011 — and Pfizer commented this morning that if it were to seek reapproval for the drug it wouldn’t be for at least two more years. Given Pfizer’s extensive product pipeline, losing Remoxy wouldn’t be a big deal. For micro-cap clinical-stage companies like Pain Therapeutics and Durect, it’d be a gigantic blow. Fittingly, Pain Therapeutics and Durect shares imploded by 50% and 34%, respectively, on Friday.
- [By Jessica Alling]
Elsewhere, Pfizer is evaluating its continued partnership on an experimental oxycodone capsule, Remoxy. The drug is an extended-release formula that is targeted at reducing abuse of the painkiller. After years of setbacks and postponements for FDA approval, Pfizer is weighing its options. Its partners for the drug, Pain Therapeutics (NASDAQ: PTIE ) and Durect, have both fallen heavily due to the news, with Pain Therapeutics falling more than 50% — its largest decline ever.
Best Asian Companies To Buy For 2014: Ark Restaurants Corp. (ARKR)
Ark Restaurants Corp., through its subsidiaries, engages in the ownership and operation of restaurants and bars, fast food concepts, and catering operations. As of October 2, 2010, it owned and operated 22 restaurants and bars, including 9 facilities located in New York City; 4 in Washington, D.C.; 5 in Las Vegas, Nevada; 2 in Atlantic City, New Jersey; 1 at the Foxwoods Resort Casino in Ledyard, Connecticut; and 1 in the Faneuil Hall Marketplace in Boston, Massachusetts, as well as had 29 fast food concepts and catering operations. The company was founded in 1983 and is based in New York, New York.
- [By Bram de Haas]
Ark Restaurants Corp (ARKR) owns and operates 19 restaurants and bars, 22 fast food concepts and catering operations in the USA. This is a short article outlining why they are an interesting company to put on the buy list. It needs to be said, this is not a chain that can roll out their concept or brand nationwide and enjoy terrific growth of their franchise. They chose not to build up brands and instead operate under trade names that suit the unique locations they prefer. The reason that I want to highlight this small company is that in recent years they have faced numerous challenges and adversity (aside from those posed by the general economy) and it’s possible they have dealt with the majority, and free cash flow will enjoy a significant uptick in the next two years.
- [By Geoff Gannon] ght them – and even now – I think their return on buyback would be high and I’d be in favor of it. However, the stocks are illiquid and their free cash flow relative to the dollar value of freely traded shares is not high. As a result, I’m always in favor of RSKIA and ARKR buying back stock. But, I understand it’s very hard for them to do in practice unless there is a meaningful holder who signals he wants out of the stock.
My approach to buybacks is pretty simple. One, I prefer them. Two, I look at the share count history over the last 10 to 20 years as my guide to what the company might do in the future – I want a pattern of predictable behavior. Generally, that means a continuously shrinking share count that shrinks in bull markets and bear markets, panics and recessions and booms and busts and so on. Three, if I’m a buyer of the stock – then the company should be a buyer of its own stock. No questions asked on that one. If the stock is good enough for me to buy it’s clearly good enough for the company to buy. Finally, I look for the return on buyback. I tend to focus on the earning power the company is buying relative to the net cash it is spending. If a company has cash on its balance sheet, the amount of net cash consumed by a buyback will be less than it appears because I will end up with a greater percentage ownership of the resulting balance sheet as well as the income statement.
I want the return on buyback to always be at least 10%. As a rule, the average company will only get returns on its buybacks of 10% or higher if it pays less than 15 times normal earnings. In special cases – fast growing companies, companies where free cash flow vastly exceeds reported income, etc. – it is possible that buybacks above 15 times earnings will return more than 10%. It almost never makes sense for a company to buy back stock at over 25 times earnings. So, for most companies, under 15 times earnings is the green zone for buybacks – 15 to 25 times earnings is
Best Asian Companies To Buy For 2014: Analytica Bio – Energy Corp (ABEC)
Analytica Bio-Energy Corp., formerly Uniwell Electronic Corporation, incorporated on January 12, 2004, is a company with water purification system. The Company was a shell company.
The Company focused on acquiring an active business. In September 2013, the Company changed its name to Analytica Bioenergy, Inc.
- [By Dan Burrows]
Most importantly, on days when this penny stock did see heavy volume, it tumbled — a classic red flag for the “dump” part of pump-and-dump schemes, which penny stocks are ripe for.
Top Penny Stocks: Analytica Bio-Energy Corp. (ABEC)
YTD Performance: 29,300%
52-Week Range: $0.0017 – $0.50
Average Volume (3 months): 9,574
Market Cap: $10.6 million
Best Asian Companies To Buy For 2014: Winmark Corporation(WINA)
Winmark Corporation operates as a franchisor of four retail store concepts that buy, sell, trade, and consign merchandise. The company franchises retail stores under the ?Plato?s Closet? name that sell and buy used clothing and accessories geared toward the teenage and young adult market; and under the ?Play It Again Sports? name, which sell, buy, trade, and consign used and new sporting goods, equipment, and accessories for various athletic activities, including hockey, wheeled sports, fitness, ski/snowboard, golf, and baseball/softball. It engages in franchising ?Once Upon A Child? branded retail stores that sell and buy used and new children?s clothing, toys, furniture, equipment, and accessories; and ?Music Go Round? branded retail stores that sell, buy, trade, and consign used and new musical instruments, speakers, amplifiers, music-related electronics, and related accessories for parents of children who play musical instruments, as well as for professional and amateu r musicians. In addition, the company operates a middle-market equipment leasing business focusing on technology-based assets to serve large and medium-sized businesses; and a small-ticket financing business to serve small businesses. Further, it offers management services to Tomsten, Inc. As of September 24, 2011, the company had 923 franchises in operation. Winmark Corporation was founded in 1988 and is headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
- [By Michael Lewis]
One of my favorite businesses, Winmark (NASDAQ: WINA ) , reported earnings this week. Earnings boosted 14% compared to the prior year’s first quarter. Though the company continues to franchise its range of secondhand stores, the most compelling growth comes from the leasing division, which saw revenues jump by 30%. The company is underfollowed yet has been paying attractive special dividends while giving investors two-year capital appreciation of roughly 50%. As the company moves forward and pushes its leasing business to new heights, should you get in now?
- [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 Winmark (Nasdaq: WINA ) , whose recent revenue and earnings are plotted below.
- [By Michael Lewis]
Getty Images Depending on your personal investing philosophy, risk profile, strategy, and a host of external factors, there’s a long list of traits you could put on your checklist for what makes a stock right for your portfolio. And then there are the exceptions — companies that, for good reason, fall outside of the parameters you’ve set, but that you can’t help thinking are a “good investment” But picking a good investment doesn’t always have to be so complex. You can use simpler screen — a checklist of just a few traits that are universally good markers of an appealing long-term holding. Here are three key traits that will key you in to a good investment, regardless of the company’s sector, whether it’s considered a growth or value stock, or even whether it’s a market favorite or a pariah. 1. A brand that’s synonymous with the product Technology companies largely rely on human capital for their ongoing competitiveness. Needless to say, people are highly unpredictable assets that can, and do, change quickly. So, products with an Apple logo will only stay popular so long as the mechanics and technology created by its people are cutting-edge. In other words, it’s the talent that made Apple (AAPL) what it is today. And in order to remain great, Apple needs to retain its best people and be better than its competitors in acquiring the top minds in its industry. That’s why, despite the company’s incredible growth and ability to shape the future of multiple industries, Apple will never be as sound an investment as, say, Coca-Cola (KO). Sure, Coca-Cola has an amazing manufacturing and distribution system, along with a super-secret formula to make its signature soft drink. But its true beauty as a company, a brand, and an investment, is that it has taken the simplest of ingredients and through brilliant branding turned its core product into one of the biggest, most recognizable brand names in the world (actually, the third biggest, according to Interbrand’s 2013