It’s safe to say Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT ) and Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL ) aren’t the best of friends. The animosity between the two IT giants goes back decades, and with Microsoft’s transition to a mobile device provider in full swing, that’s not going to change. But as strange as it sounds, the success of Apple’s new tablet, the lighter-than-helium iPad Air, and an interesting trend in PC sales could turn out to be saving graces for Microsoft’s tablet ambitions.
After taking a $900 million hit in its fiscal Q4 because of abysmal Surface RT tablet sales, Microsoft could certainly use all the help it can get. But from PCs and Apple?
The scoop on PCs
To no one’s surprise, the overall PC market will continue to decline this year, dropping 10.1%, according to IDC. The biggest drop in PC sales is among consumers — nearly 15% in 2013 — as individuals opt for mobile devices rather than those old-fashioned desktops. But digging a bit deeper, IDC’s data opens up a few intriguing doors that Microsoft, with the assistance of Apple, can take advantage of.
Best Growth Companies To Own 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).
- [By Jonathan Yates]
When looking at small cap stocks, it is useful to compare the company with others that have expanded in both share price and size. For those considering investing in the $100 billion staffing industry, the growth of TrueBlue (NYSE: TBI) shows what could be the potential path for Labor SMART (OTCBB: LTNC), as both operate in the $29 billion demand labor sector. Other firms have done well in the staffing industry include Paychex (NASDAQ: PAYX) and ManPower Group (NYSE: MAN).
- [By Jonathan Yates]
Even though the stock market rallied on Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s remarks with the Dow Jones Industrial Average (NYSE: DIA) and Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (NYSE: SPY) surging, the long term winners will be stocks in the staffing industry such as Paychex(NASDAQ: PAYX), TrueBlue (NYSE: TBI), Robert Half (NYSE: RHI), and Labor SMART (OTCBB: LTNC).
Best Growth Companies To Own For 2014: Eastern Insurance Holdings Inc.(EIHI)
Eastern Insurance Holdings, Inc., through its subsidiaries, provides workers compensation insurance and reinsurance products in the United States. The company?s Workers Compensation Insurance segment provides traditional workers compensation insurance coverage products, including guaranteed cost policies, policyholder dividend policies, retrospectively-rated policies, deductible policies, and alternative market products to employers. This segment distributes its workers? compensation products and services through its independent insurance agents primarily in Pennsylvania, Delaware, North Carolina, Maryland, Indiana, and Virginia. Its Segregated Portfolio Cell Reinsurance segment offers alternative market workers compensation solutions comprising program design, fronting, claims administration, risk management, segregated portfolio cell rental, asset management, and segregated portfolio management services to individual companies, groups, and associations. Eastern Insurance Holdings, Inc. is headquartered in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
- [By Lauren Pollock]
ProAssurance Corp.(PRA) agreed to acquire Eastern Insurance Holdings Inc.(EIHI) for about $205 million, expanding the insurance company’s casualty insurance offerings. Eastern Insurance is a domestic casualty insurance group specializing in workers’ compensation products and services, among other things. ProAssurance plans to pay $24.50 in cash for each outstanding Eastern share, a 16% premium over Monday’s closing price.
Best Growth Companies To Own 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.
- [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.
- [By Steve Symington]
Meanwhile, its significantly larger beer-and-wings cousin, Buffalo Wild Wings (NASDAQ: BWLD ) , had just managed to grow revenue 12% year over year — a performance driven not only by new restaurant openings, but also by B-Wild’s respective 5.2% and 3.1% same-store sales increases at company-owned and franchised restaurants. Of course, Buffalo Wild Wings shares also plunged the following day as a result of its cautious forward outlook, but the stock has since rebounded nicely as investors take solace knowing diners are still coming back in droves.
Best Growth Companies To Own 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.
- [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 Own 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.
- [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.
Best Growth Companies To Own 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.
- [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 Own For 2014: Thoratec Corporation(THOR)
Thoratec Corporation engages in the development, manufacture, and marketing of proprietary medical devices used for circulatory support. The company?s primary product lines include ventricular assist devices, such as HeartMate II, an implantable left ventricular assist device consisting of a rotary blood pump to provide intermediate and long-term mechanical circulatory support (MCS); and HeartMate XVE, an implantable and pulsatile left ventricular assist device for intermediate and longer-term MCS. Its ventricular assist devices also comprise Paracorporeal Ventricular Assist Device, an external pulsatile ventricular assist device, which provides left, right, and biventricular MCS approved for bridge-to-transplantation (BTT), including home discharge, and post-cardiotomy myocardial recovery; and Implantable Ventricular Assist Device, an implantable and pulsatile ventricular assist device designed to provide left, right, and biventricular MCS approved for BTT comprising hom e discharge, and post-cardiotomy myocardial recovery. The company also provides CentriMag, an extracorporeal full-flow acute surgical support platform that offers support up to 30 days for cardiac and respiratory failure. In addition, it offers PediMag and PediVAS extracorporeal full-flow acute surgical support platforms designed to provide acute surgical support to pediatric patients. The company sells its products through direct sales force in the United States, as well as through a network of distributors internationally. Thoratec Corporation was founded in 1976 and is headquartered in Pleasanton, California.
- [By Todd Campbell]
Competing for heart pump market share
Abiomed’s products provide circulatory support for up to six hours and are designed for use in cardiac cath labs or during heart surgery, but competitors Thoratec (NASDAQ: THOR ) and Heartware (NASDAQ: HTWR ) target the intermediate- and long-term-use market instead.
- [By Brian Pacampara]
What: Shares of medical device company Thoratec (NASDAQ: THOR ) sank 12% today after its quarterly results missed Wall Street expectations.
Best Growth Companies To Own 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.
- [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%
- [By Grace L. Williams]
The hits keep coming at high-end retailer Nordstrom (JWN).
After reporting a decline in fourth-quarter earnings and weak sales, shares traded down 0.3% to $59.24 today. And Sterne, Agee & Leach’s Charles Grom, while acknowledging that the fourth quarter was “OK,” warned that there were issues developing underneath. He explains:
Beneath the surface, there are two disturbing trends emerging that shouldn’t go unnoticed, including: 1) a more promotional environment/gross profit margin risk (as Nordstrom price matches); and 2) full line cannibalization (via e-commerce), which structurally compresses Nordstrom’s top-line algo. All told, the Nordstrom experience is one of the best in retail, but the stock is dead money for the foreseeable future, in our view.
Grom accentuated a few positives that included a rise in same-store sales by 2.6% and decent earnings. A rise in inventory levels and lower EPS guidance were some of the negatives, Grom said.
Nordstrom’s pain didn’t cause stand in the way of gains for some other department store stocks. Dillard’s (DDS) gained 1.5% to $89.33, while Macy’s (M) rose 0.5% to $53.71. Even J.C. Penney (JCP) had a better day. It finished down just 0.2% at $5.64.
- [By Shauna O’Brien]
Stifel reported on Friday that it has cut Nordstrom, Inc. (JWN) from “Buy” to Hold.”
Analyst Richard Jaffe said that although JWN reported strong fourth quarter results, the company’s weak outlook for 2014 is a concern. The analyst noted that JWN’s Q4 results were “cautious given the current retail environment and the additional expenses related to Canada expansion, technology investments and accelerated Rack pre-opening costs.”
The analyst also noted that “management has taken a long-term view, recognizing that the retail world is changing rapidly and dramatically, and has adjusted its growth investments to be consistent with the changing environment. Nordstrom has focused its efforts on the e-commerce business, the Rack off-price business and the new markets of Canada and New York City. These investments are different than prior investments and differ greatly from the investment in a new Nordstrom full-line store.”
Regarding the company’s expansion to Canada, Jaffe said: “Canadian retail real estate in prime locations is different than the US. There are fewer high quality locations and as a result they are costly; requiring upfront expenditures, build-out expenses and monthly rent to be paid. The analyst notes that population density is better around larger cities in Canada.”
Nordstrom shares were down $1.24, or 2.09%, during pre-market trading Friday. The stock is down 3.82% YTD.