Best Growth Stocks To Own Right Now

Gap is raising the pay of its U.S. employees to at least $10 an hour by next year.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) Gap Inc. is raising the minimum pay for 65,000 U.S. employees, winning praise from President Obama who is pushing to raise the nation’s minimum wage by a similar amount.

Gap CEO Glenn Murphy announced that the retailer will start paying its U.S. workers at least $9 an hour in June of this year, and $10 an hour in June 2015.

“To us, this is not a political issue,” he said in a a statement. “Our decision to invest in front line employees will directly support our business, and is one that we expect to deliver a return many times over.”

Gap (GPS, Fortune 500) — which operates Gap, Old Navy, Banana Republic and Athleta stores — has the overwhelming majority of its more than 3,000 stores in the United States. It has a total of 136,000 workers worldwide, according the company’s most recent filing, with about 90,000 of those workers in the United States.

Best Growth Stocks To Own Right Now: 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.

  • [By Sean Williams]

    Show me the money!
    Starting us off this week is refuse and recycling giant Waste Management (NYSE: WM  ) , which on Friday divvied out $0.375 per share to investors, a $0.01 jump from its payout in the previous quarter. Waste Management’s business has been hit recently by weaker commodity prices that hurt its recycling margins, along with consolidation in the refuse business which is also pressuring margins. However, as the clear market-share leader in refuse, a necessity-based business, it continues to wield impressive pricing power that can be used to slowly grow its bottom line. Waste Management’s 3.6% yield should remain an attractive lure for income-seeking investors.

  • [By Louis Navellier]

    Waste and environmental services company Waste Management (WM) announced fourth-quarter results and a hefty new stock buyback program. With a 3.3% dividend yield and a firm handhold on the nation’s garbage collection market, could one man’s trash be a treasure in your portfolio?

Best Growth Stocks To Own Right Now: 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 Sue Chang]

    Biotechnology stocks which also have had a strong run-up in recent months—such as Intuitive Surgical Inc. (ISRG)  and Alexion Pharmaceuticals Inc. (ALXN) —were also some of the biggest losers.

  • [By Sue Chang and Saumya Vaishampayan]

    Intuitive Surgical Inc. (ISRG)  shares fell 6.5%, breaking an eight-session winning streak. The stock got a strong boost recently after the company said it received clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to market its da Vinci Xi Surgical System.

  • [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.

Best Growth Stocks To Own Right Now: CNO Financial Group Inc. (CNO)

CNO Financial Group, Inc., through its subsidiaries, engages in the development, marketing, and administration of health insurance, annuity, individual life insurance, and other insurance products for senior and middle-income markets in the United States. The company markets and distributes Medicare supplement insurance, interest-sensitive and traditional life insurance, fixed annuities, and long-term care insurance products; Medicare advantage plans through a distribution arrangement with Humana Inc.; and Medicare Part D prescription drug plans through a distribution and reinsurance arrangement with Coventry Health Care. It also markets and distributes supplemental health, including specified disease, accident, and hospital indemnity insurance products; and life insurance to middle-income consumers at home and the worksite through independent marketing organizations and insurance agencies. In addition, the company markets primarily graded benefit and simplified issue life insurance products directly to customers through television advertising, direct mail, Internet, and telemarketing. It sells its products through career agents, independent producers, direct marketing, and sales managers. CNO Financial Group, Inc. has strategic alliances with Coventry and Humana. The company was formerly known as Conseco, Inc. and changed its name to CNO Financial Group, Inc. in May 2010. CNO Financial Group, Inc. was founded in 1979 and is headquartered in Carmel, Indiana.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Jonas Elmerraji]

    Up first is CNO Financial Group (CNO), a mid-cap financial stock that’s rocketed close to 60% higher since the calendar flipped over to January. Yup, it’s been a great year for the market, but it’s been a far better one for investors who own CNO. But that strong performance isn’t showing any signs of slowing yet. In fact, CNO looks primed for even more upside in the fourth quarter.

    That’s because CNO is currently forming a bullish pattern called an ascending triangle. The ascending triangle pattern is formed by a horizontal resistance level above shares — in this case at $14.75 — and uptrending support to the downside. Basically, as CNO bounces in between those two technical price levels, it’s getting squeezed closer and closer to a breakout above that $14.75 resistance level. When that breakout happens, it’s time to become a buyer.

    ACCO’s price action isn’t exactly textbook. After all, the pattern is coming in at the bottom of a downtrend, not after an uptrend. But ultimately, that doesn’t change the trading implications of a move through that $7.50 level.

    Whenever you’re looking at any technical price pattern, it’s critical to think in terms of those buyers and sellers. Ascending triangles and other pattern names are a good quick way to explain what’s going on in a stock, but they’re not the reason it’s tradable. Instead, it all comes down to supply and demand for shares.

    That $7.50 resistance level is a price where there has been an excess of supply of shares; in other words, it’s a place where sellers have been more eager to step in and take gains than buyers have been to buy. That’s what makes a breakout above it so significant. The move means that buyers are finally strong enough to absorb all of the excess supply above that price level.

    Don’t be early on this trade.

  • [By Vanin Aegea]

    I have heard many people comment about the insurance policies for cars, houses, life, assets, etc. The arguments always revolve around the same issue: Is it really necessary? What are the chances to be hit by a Hurricane, or to meet a sudden death? Well, nobody really knows. Some individuals however, sleep better when they know a policy backs their life investments. Here, I will look into three insurance companies that concentrate on different policies, or geographies. These are: China Life (LFC), and Conseco (CNO).

  • [By David Fried, Editor, The Buyback Letter]

    Insurance holding company CNO Financial Group (CNO) and its insurance subsidiaries—principally Bankers Life and Casualty Company, Washington National, and Colonial Penn Life Insurance Company—serve pre-retiree and retired Americans.

Best Growth Stocks To Own Right Now: 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.

Best Growth Stocks To Own Right Now: 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).