You may think your nest egg is in good hands, distributed among your savings account, some CDs, and perhaps some stocks, too. But such an arrangement isn’t best for many people and will not deliver the retirement they hope for. One great way to improve your financial future is via mutual funds — as long as you’re smart about it.
First, though, understand why savings accounts, CDs, and stocks aren’t always great for your long-term money. The current low-interest rate environment is one factor, leading bank accounts, CDs, and bonds to generally offer anemic growth. With the average inflation rate typically around 3%, these investments are often shrinking your purchasing power over time. Yikes! Stocks can be a much better choice, but not if you haven’t taken the time to learn about stock investing and how to do it well. Thus, mutual funds can be the best long-term route to financial security.
Here are some key advantages — and dangers — of mutual funds:
For starters, funds let you hire financial professionals to manage your money. You probably have a job that takes up much of your day, along with your family and other responsibilities. It can be hard to find time to focus on finding great investments. Thus, it makes a lot of sense to let some smart folks you trust manage your money for you.
Best Growth Stocks To Own 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.
- [By James Brumley]
How so? In November, Smith & Nephew unveiled a biocomposite material for use in arthroscopic surgeries — the Healicoil suture anchor — and just last week the company announced encouraging results from a third-party study of its negative-pressure wound therapy system used on closed surgical incisions. It sounds minor, but that technology could open a big door for Smith & Nephew as well as SNN stock owners.
Medical Devices: Intuitive Surgical (ISRG)
Intuitive Surgical (ISRG) shares took a big hit late last week following its fourth-quarter numbers, but bear in mind that ISRG stock had been through an overheated run-up in the days before that. Even with Friday’s 6% selloff, Intuitive Surgical shares are up 7% year-to-date — a paradigm shift compared to 2013′s 21% slide.
- [By John Kell]
Among the companies with shares expected to actively trade in Friday’s session are Intuitive Surgical Inc.(ISRG), Juniper Networks Inc.(JNPR) and Microsoft Corp.(MSFT)
- [By Wallace Witkowski]
Intuitive Surgical Inc. (ISRG) is expected to report adjusted fourth-quarter earnings of $3.82 a share on revenue of $558 million.
- [By Monica Gerson]
Luna Innovations (NASDAQ: LUNA) jumped 95.45% to $2.58 as the company announced its plans to sell its shape-sensing technology to Intuitive Surgical (NASDAQ: ISRG).
Best Growth Stocks 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 Stocks 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.
Best Growth Stocks 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).
Best Growth Stocks To Own 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.
- [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
- [By Ben Levisohn]
Shares of Deckers Outdoor have dropped 13% to $73.90, while Crocs (CROX) has gained 0.8% to $15.24, Steve Madden (SHOO) has dropped 0.1% to $36.52, Wolverine World Wide (WWW) has fallen 1.2% to $126.36 and Skechers (SKX) has fallen 1.6% to $33.82.
- [By Rich Bieglmeier]
[Related -Upside Calls Active On United Parcel Service, Inc. (UPS) And Put Options Active In Crocs, Inc. (CROX)]
Crocs is a designer, manufacturer and distributor of footwear and accessories for men, women and children. The Company sells its products in more than 90 countries through domestic and international retailers and distributors and directly to end-user consumers through its Company-operated retail stores, outlets, kiosks and Webstores. Its footwear products are divided into four product offerings: Core-Comfort, Active, Casual and Style.
- [By Ben Levisohn]
Crocs (CROX) has popped 5.8% to $16.15 after the struggling rubber-shoe maker was upgraded to Overweight from Neutral at Piper Jaffray.
Deere (DE) has gained 1.4% to $88.70 after the maker of farm equipment beat earnings forecasts and predicted profits above analyst expectations in 2014.