Best Growth Companies To Buy For 2014

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve called one bank or another “the nation’s second (or third, or whatever) largest bank by assets” to help put the bank I’m writing about into context. After doing this countless times, however, I figured that what would really help from a contextual standpoint is a chart. What follows, in turn, is a graph of the nation’s largest lenders — all but one of which has assets in excess of $20 billion.

Source: Standard & Poor’s Capital IQ.

While it’s not obvious from the chart, you can separate these institutions into three different buckets. The first bucket concerns the most widely discussed too-big-to-fail banks: JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, and Wells Fargo. Then comes the unofficial too-big-to-fail lenders (those with assets in excess of $50 billion and thus subject to the Federal Reserve’s more stringent stress test process). This group contains U.S. Bank (NYSE: USB  ) , PNC Financial (NYSE: PNC  ) , and BB&T Bank (NYSE: BBT  ) , among others. And the final group encompasses lesser-known banks like First Niagara Financial (NASDAQ: FNFG  ) and People’s United Financial (NASDAQ: PBCT  ) with between $20 billion and $50 billion in assets.

Best Growth Companies To Buy For 2014: Buffalo Wild Wings Inc.(BWLD)

Buffalo Wild Wings, Inc. engages in the ownership, operation, and franchise of restaurants in the United States. The company provides quick casual and casual dining services, as well as serves bottled beers, wines, and liquor. As of July 26, 2011, it had 773 Buffalo Wild Wings locations in 45 states in the United States, as well as in Canada. The company was founded in 1982 and is headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Victor Selva]

    As we can see, the firm has a higher ROE than Wendy´s and Buffalo Wild Wings, Inc. (BWLD), but far less than the ones from Dunkin Brands Group Inc (DNKN) and Brinker International, Inc. (EAT).

  • [By Leo Fasciocco]

    Buffalo Wild Wings (BWLD) has annual revenues of $1.3 billion. Its owned and franchised restaurants feature a variety of boldly flavored, made-to-order menu items, including Buffalo, New York-style chicken wings spun in one of their signature sauces.

Best Growth Companies To Buy For 2014: Nordstrom Inc.(JWN)

Nordstrom, Inc., a fashion specialty retailer, offers apparel, shoes, cosmetics, and accessories for women, men, and children in the United States. It offers a selection of brand name and private label merchandise. The company sells its products through various channels, including Nordstrom full-line stores, off-price Nordstrom Rack stores, Jeffrey? boutiques, treasure & bond, and Last Chance clearance stores; and its online store, nordstrom.com, as well as through catalog. Nordstrom also provides a private label card, two Nordstrom VISA credit cards, and a debit card for Nordstrom purchases. The company?s credit and debit cards feature a shopping-based loyalty program. As of September 30, 2011, it operated 222 stores, including 117 full-line stores, 101 Nordstrom Racks, 2 Jeffrey boutiques, 1 treasure & bond store, and 1 clearance store in 30 states. The company was founded in 1901 and is based in Seattle, Washington.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Louis Navellier]

    Take a look:

    General Motors (GM): In the past three months, estimates have been revised down by 24%. Analysts now forecast a 46.4% drop in sales and a 47.7% plunge in earnings for this quarter. HES is a sell. Goldman Sachs (GS): In the past month, estimates have slipped by 9%. Analysts now see a 12.2% decline in sales and a 15.6% drop in earnings for this quarter. GS is a sell. Hess (HES): In the past three months, the consensus estimate has plummeted by 52%. Analysts now expect just 3.5% annual sales growth and a 25.4% drop in earnings for this quarter. . International Business Machines (IBM): In the past 90 days, analysts have revised their estimates down by 29%. The consensus now calls for a 2% drop in sales and a 15% reduction in earnings. IBM is a sell. Mattel (MAT): In the past 60 days, estimates have fallen by 33%. Analysts now expect a 5.2% year-on-year drop in sales and a 27.3% decline in earnings for this quarter. . Newmont Mining (NEM) In the past 90 days, analysts have slashed their estimates down by 55%. The consensus now calls for a 14.9% drop in sales and a 73.2% dive in earnings. NEM is a strong sell. Nordstrom (JWN): In the past two months, estimates have fallen by 15%. Analysts now expect just 4.3% annual sales growth and a 6.8% decline in earnings for this quarter. . Target (TGT): In the past 90 days, analysts have reduced their estimates down by 28%. The consensus now calls for just 2% sales growth and an 11% decline in earnings. TGT is a strong sell. Tesoro (TSO): In the past 90 days, the consensus estimate has plunged 39%. The consensus now calls for 10% annual sales growth and a 5.5% reduction in earnings. TSO is a sell. Weyerhaeuser (WY): In the past three months, estimates have been reduced by 14%. Analysts now expect just 6.8% annual sales growth and a 3.8% dip in earnings for this quarter. WY is a strong sell.

    As I mentioned, there are two easy ways to check out how your holdings are perceived by the analyst community.

  • [By Ben Levisohn]

    Shares of Dillard’s have dropped 1.4% to $89.99 at 3:13 p.m., while Macy’s (M) has dropped 0.6% to $57.33, Sears Holdings (SHLD) has fallen 2.7% to $44.61 and Nordstrom (JWN) has has dipped $61.59. JC Penney is little changed at $8.29.

  • [By Marc Bastow]

    Fashion specialty retailer Nordstrom (JWN) raised its quarterly dividend 10% to 33 cents per share, payable March 25 to shareholders of record as of March 10.
    JWN Dividend Yield: 2.15%

Best Growth Companies To Buy For 2014: TrueBlue Inc.(TBI)

TrueBlue, Inc. provides temporary blue-collar staffing services in the United States. It supplies on demand general labor to various industries under the Labor Ready brand; skilled labor to manufacturing and logistics industries under the Spartan Staffing brand; and trades people for commercial, industrial, and residential construction, and building and plant maintenance industries under the CLP Resources brand. The company also provides mechanics and technicians to the aviation maintenance, repair and overhaul, aerospace manufacturing, and assembly industries, as well as to other transportation industries under the Plane Techs brand; and temporary drivers to the transportation and distribution industries under the Centerline brand. It primarily serves small and medium-size businesses. The company was formerly known as Labor Ready, Inc. and changed its name to TrueBlue, Inc. in December 2007. TrueBlue, Inc. was founded in 1985 and is headquartered in Tacoma, Washington.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Travis Hoium]

    What: Shares of staffing agency TrueBlue (NYSE: TBI  ) jumped 10% today after the company reported earnings.

    So what: Revenue jumped 19%, to $422.3 million, and beat estimates of $420.2 million from Wall Street. Adjusted earnings per share were also up 19%, to $0.31, outpacing estimates by $0.05. 

  • [By Jonathan Yates]

    For those looking to invest in real estate stocks, highly recommended is the Dr. Housing Bubble blog. In a recent posting, the “Dr.” pointed out that there was a “Lost Generation” when it came to household income. That has not happened for those investing in staffing industry stocks such as Paychex (NASDAQ: PAYX), Robert Half International (NYSE: RHI), TrueBlue, Inc. (NYSE: TBI), and Labor SMART (OTCBB: LTNC).

Best Growth Companies To Buy For 2014: Checkpoint Systms Inc.(CKP)

Checkpoint Systems, Inc. manufactures and markets identification, tracking, security, and merchandising solutions for the retail and apparel industry worldwide. The company operates in three segments: Shrink Management Solutions, Apparel Labeling Solutions, and Retail Merchandising Solutions. The Shrink Management Solutions segment provides shrink management and merchandise visibility solutions. It offers electronic article surveillance systems, such as EVOLVE, a suite of RF and RFID-enabled products that act as a deterrent to prevent merchandise theft in retail stores; and electronic article surveillance consumables, including EAS-RF and EAS-EM labels that work in combination with EAS systems to reduce merchandise theft in retail stores. This segment also provides keepers, spider wraps, bottle security, and hard tags, as well as Showsafe, a line alarm system for protecting display merchandise. In addition, it offers physical and electronic store monitoring solutions, incl uding fire alarms, intrusion alarms, and digital video recording systems for retail environments; and RFID tags and labels. The Apparel Labeling Solutions segment provides apparel labeling solutions to apparel retailers, brand owners, and manufacturers. It has Web-enabled apparel labeling solutions platform and network of 28 service bureaus located in 22 countries that supplies customers with customized apparel tags and labels. The Retail Merchandising Solutions segment offers hand-held label applicators and tags, promotional displays, and queuing systems. The company serves retailers in the supermarket, drug store, hypermarket, and mass merchandiser markets through direct distribution and reseller channels. Checkpoint Systems was founded in 1969 and is based in Thorofare, New Jersey.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Lisa Levin]

    Checkpoint Systems (NYSE: CKP) surged 17.73% to $14.21. The volume of Checkpoint Systems shares traded was 525% higher than normal. Checkpoint announced its intent to extend the filing date of its annual report.

  • [By John Udovich]

    Small cap Checkpoint Systems, Inc (NYSE: CKP) fights shoplifting or retail theft and other forms of “shrink” that costs retailers over $112 billion worldwide last year (according to a study funded by the company), meaning it might be an interesting stock to take a closer look at and to compare its performance with that of SPDR S&P Retail ETF (NYSEARCA: XRT) and PowerShares Dynamic Retail ETF (NYSEARCA: PMR). Just how bad can shoplifting or shrink be for a retailer? Troubled retailer J.C. Penney Company, Inc (NYSE: JCP) has just reported that shoplifting took a full percentage point off the department store chain’s profit margins during the quarter. Moreover and given that tens of millions of Americans are now facing higher health insurance costs thanks to Obamacare (which will likely impact consumer discretionary spending), retailers will need to find ways to shore up their margins and bottom lines by preventing retail theft with solutions from company’s like C heckpoint Systems.

  • [By Rich Smith]

    Three months after settling upon a new chief executive officer, it looks like Thorofare, N. J.-based Checkpoint Systems (NYSE: CKP  ) will soon have itself a new CFO as well.

Best Growth Companies To Buy For 2014: MEDIFAST INC(MED)

Medifast, Inc., through its subsidiaries, engages in the production, distribution, and sale of weight management and disease management products, and other consumable health and diet products in the United States. The company?s product lines include weight and disease management, meal replacement, and vitamins. It also operates weight control centers that offer Medifast programs for weight loss and maintenance, customized patient counseling, and inbody composition analysis. The company markets its products under the Medifast and Essential brand names, including shakes, appetite suppression shakes, women?s health shakes, diabetics shakes, joint health shakes, coronary health shakes, calorie burn drinks, calorie burn flavor infusers, antioxidant shakes, antioxidant flavor infusers, bars, crunch bars, soups, chili, oatmeal, pudding, scrambled eggs, hot cocoa, cappuccino, chai latte, iced teas, fruit drinks, pretzels, puffs, brownie, pancakes, soy crisps, crackers, and omega 3 and digestive health products. Medifast Inc. sells its products through various channels of distribution comprising Web, call center, independent health advisors, medical professionals, weight loss clinics, and direct consumer marketing supported via the phone and the Web; Take Shape for Life, a physician led network of independent health coaches; and weight control centers. The company was founded in 1980 and is headquartered in Owings Mills, Maryland.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Monica Gerson]

    Medifast (NYSE: MED) is expected to post its Q4 earnings at $0.36 per share on revenue of $80.83 million.

    Full House Resorts (NASDAQ: FLL) is estimated to post a Q4 loss at $0.06 per share on revenue of $33.24 million.

  • [By Monica Gerson]

    Analysts expect Medifast (NYSE: MED) to post its Q4 earnings at $0.36 per share on revenue of $80.83 million. Medifast shares surged 2.19% to close at $26.08 on Friday.

  • [By John Udovich]

    Last Friday, small cap dieting stock Weight Watchers International, Inc (NYSE: WTW) lost weight for investors when shares tumbled 27.73% to $22.10, meaning its probabaly a good idea to take a closer look at the stock along with other small cap weight loss or dieting stocks like NutriSystem Inc (NASDAQ: NTRI), Medifast Inc (NYSE: MED) and Reliv International, Inc (NASDAQ: RELV). Why did Weight Watchers International loose weight last Friday? The company reported its fourth straight quarterly sales decline as fewer people attended meetings and bought its products and also projected earnings that trailed analysts’ estimates with the blame being placed on new mobile applications and bracelets that track calories – thus hurting traditional diet companies.

  • [By Robert Hanley]

    Consumer-goods marketer Blyth (NYSE: BTH  ) , owner of weight-loss upstart ViSalus, has been in the doghouse lately, sitting near a 52-week low due to poor results in its weight-loss unit.  Despite a large potential customer base of overweight people worldwide, the industry has had difficulty generating growth lately, with data provider Marketdata Enterprises estimating that industry sales rose only 1.7% in 2012.  However, Blyth caught a bid in late October from a proposed combination with marketing-services provider CVSL, indicating that some people see incremental value in Blyth’s businesses. So, should small investors bet on this small cap or should they focus their attention on Weight watchers International (NYSE: WTW  ) and Medifast (NYSE: MED  ) instead?

Best Growth Companies To Buy For 2014: Crocs Inc.(CROX)

Crocs, Inc. and its subsidiaries engage in the design, development, manufacture, marketing, and distribution of footwear, apparel, and accessories for men, women, and children. The company primarily offers casual and athletic shoes, and shoe charms. It also designs and sells a range of footwear and accessories that utilize its proprietary closed cell-resin, called Croslite. The company?s footwear products include boots, sandals, sneakers, mules, and flats. In addition, it provides footwear products for the hospital, restaurant, hotel, and hospitality markets, as well as general foot care and diabetic-needs markets. Further, the company offers leather and ethylene vinyl acetate based footwear, sandals, and printed apparels principally for the beach, adventure, and action sports markets; and accessories comprising snap-on charms. The company sells its products through the United States and international retailers and distributors, as well as directly to end-user consumers th rough its company-operated retail stores, outlets, kiosks, and Web stores primarily under the Crocs Work, Crocs Rx, Jibbitz, Ocean Minded, and YOU by Crocs brand names. As of December 31, 2010, it operated 164 retail kiosks located in malls and other high foot traffic areas; 138 retail stores; 76 outlet stores; and 46 Web stores. Crocs, Inc. operates in the Americas, Europe, and Asia. The company was formerly known as Western Brands, LLC and changed its name to Crocs, Inc. in January 2005. Crocs, Inc. was founded in 1999 and is headquartered in Niwot, Colorado.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Pratik Thacker]

    Strong recovery from the past
    Although the shoe retailer’s performance has been remarkable, this isn’t the case when we look at its stock price. Over the last five years, Skechers did not perform as well as peer Crocs (NASDAQ: CROX  ) , as evidenced by returns. However, it did manage to outperform Nike (NYSE: NKE  ) during the same period.

  • [By Eric Volkman]

    Getty Images/Scott Olson The demise of Crocs (CROX), it seems, may have been greatly exaggerated. Remember the company’s signature product? Close to a decade ago, those colorful, clunky resin clogs were all the rage. The company that made them couldn’t sell the things fast enough, at one point reaching sales of 50 million pairs in 2007. Then fashion moved on, as it always does, and the economic slowdown started to bite into sales. Crocs plunged from a $168 million net profit in 2007 to a $185 million loss in 2008. In 2009, the company nearly ran out of cash and had a hard time making payroll. But Crocs’ fortunes have improved. In its most recent quarter, the firm posted a loss, but it was narrower than the market was expecting. And it’s found an investor that believes in its future — private equity giant Blackstone Group (BX), which recently provided a $200 million cash investment in return for a block of preferred shares eventually convertible into a stake of around 13 percent of the company. Perhaps the time has come to take those old clogs out of the closet, dust them off, and slip them on for a stroll. Stepping It Up Fashion is highly susceptible to consumer whim. The hot item is never hot for very long, and once consumers move on, it can be hard for the company to recover. In Crocs’ case, this was exacerbated by its limited product line — almost exclusively the clogs. The company learned from its mistakes. Since consumer tastes moved out of clog-land, Crocs has significantly broadened its product line to 300 styles. It now offers boots, flip-flops, deck shoes and slip-ons akin to the casuals from VF Corp.’s (VFC) Vans subsidiary. In terms of profitability, Crocs recovered quickly from its time in the fashion wilderness. From that 2008 bottom-line deficit of $185 million, the company sliced its loss to $42 million the following year, then stepped back into the black in 2010 (to the tune of $68 million). After two straight years of declines, revenue

Best Growth Companies To Buy For 2014: Waste Management Inc.(WM)

Waste Management, Inc., through its subsidiaries, provides waste management services to residential, commercial, industrial, and municipal customers in North America. It offers collection, transfer, recycling, and disposal services. The company also owns, develops, and operates waste-to-energy and landfill gas-to-energy facilities in the United States. Its collection services involves in picking up and transporting waste and recyclable materials from where it was generated to a transfer station, material recovery facility, or disposal site; and recycling operations include collection and materials processing, plastics materials recycling, and commodities recycling. In addition, it provides recycling brokerage, which includes managing the marketing of recyclable materials for third parties; and electronic recycling services, such as collection, sorting, and disassembling of discarded computers, communications equipment, and other electronic equipment. Further, the company e ngages in renting and servicing portable restroom facilities to municipalities and commercial customers under the Port-o-Let name; and involves in landfill gas-to-energy operations comprising recovering and processing the methane gas produced naturally by landfills into a renewable energy source, as well as provides street and parking lot sweeping services. Additionally, it offers portable self-storage, fluorescent lamp recycling, and medical waste services for healthcare facilities, pharmacies, and individuals, as well as provides services on behalf of third parties to construct waste facilities. The company was formerly known as USA Waste Services, Inc. and changed its name to Waste Management, Inc. in 1998. Waste Management, Inc. was incorporated in 1987 and is based in Houston, Texas.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Damian Illia]

    During 2008, Republic Services and Allied Waste merged to create a strong company which could compete with number-one waste management company Waste Management Inc. (WM). It is true this industry has a rather constant nature, as trash volume increases with population growth, urban construction, industrial production and commercial activity. Still, the macroeconomic context during 2008 affected the recently-merged company, having to deal with lower waste volumes and intense price competition. Nevertheless, after this bumpy beginning, the company reached a good profitability. And, although it came to sustain average growth on both gross and operating margins, this tendency has recently decelerated with this margins underperforming in 2012 and 2013.

  • [By Damian Illia]

    Furthermore, the company has a wide economic moat largely stemming from three factors: its efficient scale, its high switching costs and its intangible assets. Of the 20 commercial hazardous-waste landfills operational in the U.S., the majority are run by US Ecology and its main competitors Waste Management Inc. (WM), and Clean Harbors Inc. (CLH). With barriers to entry stemming from regulatory permits, and a limited market size, ECOL has managed to achieve an efficient scale in the market with five hazardous waste-sides. The company’s intangible assets consist of long-term regulatory permits, which enable US Ecology to posses a “gatekeeper privilege” regarding barriers to new entrants. In addition, customer switching costs are high, thus further adding to the firm’s ability to sustain growth in the long term.

Best Growth Companies To Buy For 2014: Intuitive Surgical Inc.(ISRG)

Intuitive Surgical, Inc. designs, manufactures, and markets da Vinci surgical systems for various surgical procedures, including urologic, gynecologic, cardiothoracic, general, and head and neck surgeries. Its da Vinci surgical system consists of a surgeon?s console or consoles, a patient-side cart, a 3-D vision system, and proprietary ?wristed? instruments. The company?s da Vinci surgical system translates the surgeon?s natural hand movements on instrument controls at the console into corresponding micro-movements of instruments positioned inside the patient through small puncture incisions, or ports. It also manufactures a range of EndoWrist instruments, which incorporate wrist joints for natural dexterity for various surgical procedures. Its EndoWrist instruments consist of forceps, scissors, electrocautery, scalpels, and other surgical tools. In addition, it sells various vision and accessory products for use in conjunction with the da Vinci Surgical System as surgical procedures are performed. The company?s accessory products include sterile drapes used to ensure a sterile field during surgery; vision products, such as replacement 3-D stereo endoscopes, camera heads, light guides, and other items. It markets its products through sales representatives in the United States, and through sales representatives and distributors in international markets. The company was founded in 1995 and is headquartered in Sunnyvale, California.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Ben Levisohn]

    The S&P 500 hit another new high today, as Intuitive Surgical (ISRG) and Staples (SPLS). The Dow Jones Industrial Average, however, still can’t get positive for the year, despite big gains in Caterpillar (CAT), United Technologies (UTX) and Pfizer (PFE).

    Associated Press

    The S&P 500 gained 0.3% to 1,890.90 today, its third consecutive record high, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.2% to 16,573, just 3.66 points, or 0.02% below its all time.

    Intuitive Surgical gained 5% to $518.50 after getting upgraded to market Outperform from Market Underperform at JMP Securities, while Staples rose 4.9% to $11.99. Caterpillar advanced 2.8% to $102.63 a day after defending its tax strategy at a Senate hearing, while United Technologies rose 1.7% to $119.87 and Pfizer gained 1.1% to $32.29.

    Societe Generale’s Andrew Lapthorne and team note that poor earnings quality underperformed in 2013–and should keep on lagging in 2014. They write:

    [Despite] last year’s buoyant equity markets, our earnings quality indicator still added value last year – i.e. stocks with poor quality earnings still underperformed. So despite a general appetite for higher risk assets, investors were still wary of those businesses where the accounting quality of earnings was below average. An interesting feature of the earnings quality measure is that its performance does not appear to be as sensitive as many other quality measures to the overall direction of the equity market.

    Overall the poor performance of companies that score badly might be attributable to the low percentage of companies with poor earnings quality that managed to beat earnings and sales estimates. It would appear that manipulating your earnings leads to unrealistic expectations.

    Sounds like quality advice.

    The S&P 500 hit another new high today, as Intuitive Surgical (ISRG) and Staples (SPLS). The Dow Jones Industrial Average, however, still

  • [By Ben Levisohn]

    Yesterday, shares of Intuitive Surgical (ISRG) jumped 13% after the FDA approved its latest robotic-surgery device. Today, Intuitive Surgical’s shares are rising again after the company was upgraded by JMP Securities.

    JMP Securities’ J.T. Haresco explains why he upgraded Intuitive Surgical:

    We are substantially raising our 2015 estimates and upgrading shares of Intuitive Surgical from Market Underperform to Market Outperform, and establishing a $700 price target after spending time sizing up the new Xi. Yesterday, Intuitive announced that the FDA approved the fourth generationda Vinci system, the Xi. We were able to spend some time with the Xi at the company’s headquarters in Sunnyvale, and believe that its introduction can overcome our key concerns: 1) the $1.8M device targeted at complex surgery will eventually replace a large percentage of the install base of ~2,000 Si models in the U.S., 2) with the existing Si fleet depreciated to approximately $700K, they are likely to find a second life in outpatient surgical centers, solving the need for better ROI in those surgical venues, 3) the Xi’s autodeployment feature will reduce setup time, again solving one of our main issues with the existing Si platform, and 4) the higher price point will raise ASPs over time.

    Overall, that should boost Intuitive Surgical’s revenue growth from 0.3% to 16%, Haresco says, while earnings per share could grow by as much as 27%, after falling 10%.

    Shares of Intuitive Surgical have gained 4.1% to $513.63 at 12:39 p.m.

    You can read Barron’s take here.

  • [By Ben Levisohn]

    It’s April Fools’ Day, but the joke is on the bears as stocks gained today, led by Intuitive Surgical (ISRG). TripAdvisor (TRIP), Cisco Systems (CSCO), Boeing (BA) and Walt Disney (DIS).

  • [By Jake L’Ecuyer]

    Shares of Intuitive Surgical (NASDAQ: ISRG) got a boost, shooting up 8.83 percent to $476.67 after the company announced the FDA clearance and U.S. introduction of the new da Vinci Xi Surgical System.