At the end of the day investors always want a good return for their hard earned money. Investors always look for higher earnings growth, higher shareholder returns, and sustainable strategy for growth in a company. The Kroger Co. (KR) neatly fits into the above criteria with its proven track record of results. It has provided 39 consecutive quarters of positive identical sales growth, which is shown in the chart below.
About this Retailer
Founded in 1883, Kroger, together with its subsidiaries, operates as a retailer in the United States. The company also manufactures and processes food for sale in its supermarkets. With a market cap of 22.72 billion, this Cincinnati, Ohio, based company is the seventh largest grocery retailer in the world and, along with Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (WMT) and Costco Wholesale Corporation (COST), one of only three U.S. companies in the top ten. Extending well beyond its retail grocer core business, Kroger operates under nearly two dozen banners including: Kroger Real Estate, The Little Clinic, I-Wireless, Kroger Convenience Stores, Littman Jewelers, Fred Meyer Jewelers, Kroger Manufacturing, Kroger Pharmacies, and the recently-acquired Harris Teeter Supermarkets, Inc. (HTSI) (merger transaction between the two companies was completed on January 28, 2014). About half of the Kroger’s supermarkets include gas stations. Further, partnering with Ecotality, Inc. (ECTYQ), Kroger has intr oduced electric car charging stations.
Best International Companies To Watch For 2014: Stratasys Inc.(SSYS)
Stratasys, Inc., together with its subsidiaries, engages in the development, manufacture, marketing, and servicing of three-dimensional (3D) printers, rapid prototyping (RP) systems, and related consumable materials for office-based RP and direct digital manufacturing (DDM) markets. The company offers its products as integrated systems consisting of an RP machine and the software to convert the CAD designs into a machine compatible format, and modeling and support materials. Its products enable engineers and designers to create physical models, tooling, jigs, fixtures, prototypes, and end use parts out of production grade thermoplastic directly from a CAD workstation. The company also offers rapid prototyping and production part manufacturing services; and maintenance, leasing/renting, training, and contract engineering services for 3D production systems and 3D printers. Its products are used by design and manufacturing organizations in aerospace, architecture, automotive, business machines, consumer products, defense, direct digital manufacturing of custom parts, educational institutions, electronics, fixtures, jewelry, heavy equipment, medical systems, tooling, medical analysis, mold making, and dental markets. The company markets its products through a network of value-added resellers and distributors in the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Korea, Taiwan, Japan, and China. Stratasys, Inc. was founded in 1989 and is headquartered in Eden Prairie, Minnesota.
- [By Jayson Derrick]
Stratasys (NASDAQ: SSYS) announced that it will acquire Interfacial Solutions, a provider of thermoplastics research and development and production services for an undisclosed amount. Shares lost 2.63 percent, closing at $109.37.
- [By Dan Caplinger]
ExOne (NASDAQ: XONE ) will release its quarterly report on Wednesday, and shareholders have had to endure huge amounts of volatility recently as ExOne and peers Stratasys (NASDAQ: SSYS ) and 3D Systems (NYSE: DDD ) go through the inevitable growing pains of a new and promising industry. With ExOne having successfully posted an operating profit for the first time last quarter, though, expectations are high that the company will continue to make progress and position itself for further growth.
- [By Jon C. Ogg]
Barron’s was quick to point out that shares of 3D Systems Corp. (NYSE: DDD) were up 370% over the past two years as the industry leader. Stratasys Ltd. (NASDAQ: SSYS) was shown to be up some 230% or so in the last couple of years. Barron’s even included the recent IPOs in 3-D printing with The ExOne Company (NASDAQ: XONE) up 140% and Voxeljet AG (NYSE: VJET) up over 160% since coming public.
Best International Companies To Watch For 2014: Denbury Resources Inc (DNR)
Denbury Resources Inc., incorporated in 1951, is an independent oil and natural gas company. As of December 31, 2011, the Company had 461.9 million barrel of oil equivalent of proved oil and natural gas reserves, of which 77% was oil. The Company’s oil and natural gas properties are concentrated in the Gulf Coast and Rocky Mountain regions in the United States. As of December 31, 2011, the Company’s properties with proved and producing reserves in the Gulf Coast region were situated in Mississippi, Texas, Louisiana and Alabama, and in the Rocky Mountain region were primarily situated in Montana, North Dakota, Utah and Wyoming. In April 2012, it sold certain non-operated assets in the Greater Aneth Field in the Paradox Basin of Utah to Resolute Energy Corporation and the Navajo Nation Oil and Gas Company. In December 2012, the Company closed its first phase of its previously announced Bakken sale and asset exchange with Exxon Mobil Corporation and its wholly owned subsidi ary XTO Energy Inc. In March 2013, it announced the closing of acquisition of producing property interests in the Cedar Creek Anticline (CCA) of Montana and North Dakota.
The Company’s CO2 source, Jackson Dome is located near Jackson, Mississipp. In addition to the proved reserves, it has an additional 2.5 trillion cubic feet of probable CO2 reserves at Jackson Dome. As of December 31, 2011, there have been 13 structures drilled within the Jackson Dome area and only one has not been productive. In addition to using CO2 for the Company’s Gulf Coast tertiary operations, it sells CO2 to third-party industrial users under long-term contracts and has three CO2 volumetric production payment contracts (VPPs). Approximately 91% of its average daily CO2 production during the year ended December 31, 2011 was used in its tertiary recovery operations on its own behalf and on behalf of other working interest owners in recovery fields, with the balance delivered to third -party industrial users. During 2011, the Company sold an av! erage of 89 million cubic feet per day of CO2 to commercial users, and the Company used an average of 920 million cubic feet per day for its tertiary activities.
In Eastern Mississippi properties, the Company has four tertiary operations (Soso, Martinville, Eucutta and Heidelberg Fields). The majority of the conventional oil production at Heidelberg is from waterflood units that produce from the Eutaw formation (at approximately 4,400 feet). The Company has converted all of the waterflood units in West Heidelberg to CO2 enhanced oil recovery (EOR). As of December 31, 2011, the Company either owned, or controlled through long-term financing leases, approximately 864 miles of CO2 pipelines in the Gulf Coast region. In addition to the NEJD CO2pipeline, the major pipelines are the Free State Pipeline (90 miles), the Delta Pipeline (110 miles) and the Green Pipeline (325 miles).
The Company’s primary Rocky Mountain CO2 source, Riley Ridge is located i n southwestern Wyoming. The gas composition from Riley Ridge is approximately 65% CO2, 19% natural gas, 5% hydrogen sulfide (H2S), 0.6% helium, and the remainder other gases. As of December 31, 2011, its interest in Riley Ridge and minor surrounding acreage contained net proved reserves of 415 billion cubic feet of natural gas and 2.2 trillion cubic feet of CO2 reserves. Bell Creek Field is located in southeast Montana. Cedar Creek Anticline (CCA) is primarily located in Montana. CCA is a series of 10 producing oil units. During 2011, the Company fracture stimulated 31 operated wells in the Bakken and four wells in the Selma Chalk utilizing water-based fluids.
- [By Johanna Bennett]
Denbury Resources (DNR) shares dropped 5.9% after oil-and-natural-gas explorer on Sunday announced that it will initiate quarterly dividend and raised its share repurchase plan to $250 million from the $109 million remaining in its program.
- [By Claudia Assis]
Denbury Resources Inc. (DNR) declined 5.5%.
Best International Companies To Watch For 2014: Arkema SA (AKE)
Arkema SA is a France-based company which specializes in the manufacture and marketing of chemical products. The Company operates through its two business segments: Industrial Chemicals and Performance Products. The Industrial Chemicals division offers the production of acrylics, polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA), hydrogen peroxide, fluorochemicals and thiochemicals, and includes such brands as Forane, Albone, Norsocryl, Altuglas and Sarbio. The Performance Products include the production of technical polymers, specialty chemicals and functional additives. The Company’s products are used in the construction, automotive and transportation, health, electrical and electronics, agricultural and packaging industries, among others. In April 2013, it acquired a majority stake in AEC Polymers. In October 2013, it inaugurated the new Sumitomo Seika superabsorbent plant on the Carling site, which makes the overall superabsorbent production capacity of the Carling facility up to 47,000 ton /year. Advisors’ Opinion:
- [By Inyoung Hwang]
Arkema SA (AKE) added 4.7 percent to 83.93 euros. UBS AG raised its rating on the French chemicals maker to a buy from neutral, saying the stock is undervalued. The firm also boosted its price target to 100 euros from 80 euros.
Best International Companies To Watch For 2014: Vivendi SA (VIVHY)
Vivendi SA (Vivendi), incorporated on December 18, 1987, is a communications and entertainment company. As of December 31, 2009, the Company had six business segments: Activision Blizzard, Universal Music Group, SFR, Maroc Telecom Group, GVT (Holding) S.A. (GVT) and Canal+ Group. Activision Blizzard develops, publishes and distributes interactive entertainment software, online or on other media (such as console and personal computer (PC)). Universal Music Group is engaged in the sale of recorded music (physical and digital media), exploitation of music publishing rights, as well as artist services and merchandising. SFR is engaged in the phone services (mobile, broadband Internet and fixed) in France. Maroc Telecom Group is a telecommunication operator (mobile, fixed and Internet) in Africa, principally in Morocco, as well as in Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Gabon and Mali. GVT is a Brazilian fixed and broadband operator. Canal+ Group is engaged in publishing and distribution of pay-television mainly in France, in both analog and digital (terrestrially, via satellite or ADSL), as well as film production in Europe. In July 2013, Vivendi SA and Universal Music Group announced the completion of the sale of Parlophone Label Group to Warner Music Group Corp.
On November 13, 2009, Vivendi acquired an aggregate of 29.9% of GVT’s outstanding voting shares from Swarth Investments LLC, Swarth Investments Holdings LLC and Global Village Telecom (Holland) BV. In addition, Vivendi acquired from third parties an additional 8% interest in GVT’s outstanding shares. On December 28, 2009, Canal+ Group, Vivendi’s subsidiary, acquired TF1’s 9.9% interest in the capital of Canal+ France. On July 31, 2009, Maroc Telecom acquired 51% controlling interest in Sotelma. On August 27, 2009, CID, a company 40% owned by SFR and 60% by other financial investors, acquired the 62% interest in 5 sur 5.
- [By Demitrios Kalogeropoulos]
Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ: ATVI ) is striking out on its own. The company reached a purchase agreement with Vivendi (NASDAQOTH: VIVHY ) to transfer enough shares so that it will become an independent company, one that’s majority-owned by public investors rather than a single corporation.
Best International Companies To Watch For 2014: Texas Instruments Incorporated(TXN)
Texas Instruments Incorporated engages in the design and sale of semiconductors to electronics designers and manufacturers worldwide. The company?s Analog segment offers high-performance analog products comprising standard analog semiconductors, such as amplifiers, data converters, and interface semiconductors; high-volume analog and logic products; and power management semiconductors and line-powered systems. Its Embedded Processing segment includes DSPs that perform mathematical computations to process and enhance digital data; and microcontrollers, which are designed to control a set of specific tasks for electronic equipment. The company?s Wireless segment designs, manufactures, and sells application processors and connectivity products. Its Other segment offers smaller semiconductor products, which include DLP products that are primarily used in projectors to create high-definition images; and application-specific integrated circuits. This segment also provides handhe ld graphing and scientific calculators, as well as licenses technologies to other electronic companies. The company serves the communications, computing, industrial, consumer electronics, automotive, and education sectors. Texas Instruments Incorporated sells its products through a direct sales force, distributors, and third-party sales representatives. It has collaboration agreements with PLX Technology Inc.; Neonode, Inc.; and Ubiquisys Ltd. The company was founded in 1938 and is headquartered in Dallas, Texas.
- [By Chuck Saletta]
Texas Instruments (NASDAQ: TXN ) is a selection for the real-money Inflation-Protected Income Growth portfolio. In this brief video, portfolio manager Chuck Saletta offers two-and-a-half reasons he’s holding on to Texas Instruments’ stock despite its substantial rise since he bought those shares a little more than a year ago.
- [By Victor Selva]
Several tech vendors like Intel (INTC), IBM (IBM), Texas Instruments (TXN) and Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) have announced job cuts for 2014. These reductions will take effect in the near future while management will continue to explore additional opportunities to improve profitability.
- [By Paul Ausick]
Texas Instruments Inc. (NASDAQ: TXN) saw short interest fall by 2.1% to 22.85 million shares, or 2.1% of the float. TI reported earnings last week, pulling the shares back from a 52-week high and cooling, for the moment at least, any added interest from short sellers.
Best International Companies To Watch For 2014: Corrections Corporation of America (CXW)
Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) incorporated on September 24, 1998, is a real estate investment trust. The Company is the owner of privatized correctional and detention facilities and prison operators in the United States. As of December 31, 2012, the Company operated 67 correctional and detention facilities, including 47 facilities that the Company own, with a total design capacity of approximately 92,500 beds in 20 states and the District of Columbia. Beginning of January 1, 2013, the Company has provided correctional services and conducted other operations through TRSs. A TRS is a subsidiary of a REIT that is subject to applicable corporate income tax and certain qualification requirements. In January 2012, the Company closed the operations of the 1,172-bed Delta Correctional Facility in Greenwood, Mississippi. In January 2013, the Company announced that it has completed an internal reorganization of its business operations.
The Company specializes in owning, operating, and managing prisons and other correctional facilities and providing inmate residential and prisoner transportation services for governmental agencies. In addition to providing the fundamental residential services relating to inmates, its facilities offer a variety of rehabilitation and educational programs, including basic education, religious services, life skills and employment training and substance abuse treatment. These services are intended to help reduce recidivism and to prepare inmates for their re entry into society upon their release. The Company also provides health care (including medical, dental, and mental health services), food services, and work and recreational programs.
The Company’s customers consist of federal, state and local correctional and detention authorities. During the year ended December 31, 2012, federal correctional and detention authorities represented 43% of its total revenue. Federal correctional and detention authorities primarily consist of the Federal Burea! u of Prisons (BOP), the United States Marshals Service (USMS), and the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Its management services contracts typically have terms of three to five years and contain multiple renewal options. Its facility contracts also contain clauses that allow the government agency to terminate the contract at any time without cause, and its contracts are generally subject to annual or bi-annual legislative appropriations of funds.
The Company is compensated for providing prison bed capacity and correctional services at an inmate per diem rate based upon actual or minimum guaranteed occupancy levels. Occupancy rates for a particular facility are typically low when opened or immediately following an expansion. However, beyond the start-up period, which typically ranges from 90 to 180 days, the occupancy rate tends to stabilize. During 2012, the average compensated occupancy of its facilities, based on rated capacity, was 88. 2% for all of the facilities it owned or managed, exclusive of facilities where operations have been discontinued.
The Company provides a variety of rehabilitative and educational programs at its facilities. Inmates at facilities the Company manage may receive basic education through academic programs designed to improve literacy levels and the opportunity to acquire GED certificates. The Company also offers vocational training to inmates who lack marketable job skills. Its craft vocational training programs are accredited by the National Center for Construction Education and Research. This foundation provides training curriculum and establishes industry standards for over 4,000 construction and trade organizations in the United States and several foreign countries. In addition, the Company offers life skills transition-planning programs that provide inmates with job search skills, health education, financial responsibility training, parenting training, and oth er skills associated with becoming productive citizens.
! As of December 31, 2012, the Company provides transportation services to governmental agencies through its wholly owned TRS, TransCor America, LLC, or TransCor. CCA owns 49 correctional and detention facilities in 15 states and the District of Columbia, two of which it leases to third-party operators. The Company also owns two corporate office buildings. Additionally, it manages 20 correctional and detention facilities owned by government agencies. Owned and managed facilities include facilities placed into service that the Company owned and managed. Managed-only facilities include facilities owned by a third party and managed by the Company.
The Company competes with The GEO Group, Inc. and Management and Training Corporation.
- [By Sean Williams]
The premise here would be that any increase in nationwide drug testing would be bound to turn up additional drug users and could boost the prison population. That would be great news for the GEO Group (NYSE: GEO ) and Corrections Corp. of America (NYSE: CXW ) , which are contracted out through the government to run and service prisons around the country.
- [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 Corrections Corporation of America (NYSE: CXW ) , whose recent revenue and earnings are plotted below.
- [By Rich Smith]
Nashville, Tenn.-based Corrections Corporation of America (NYSE: CXW ) has won a contract extension from the California Department of Corrections, the company announced Wednesday, extending its contract length by three years.
Best International Companies To Watch For 2014: Convergys Corporation (CVG)
Convergys Corporation provides relationship management solutions in North America and internationally. Its Customer Management segment offers agent-assisted, self-service, and intelligent technology care solutions, including customer service, customer retention, sales, technical support, social interaction, collections management, back office, business-to-business, customer experience applied analytics, and intelligent interaction solutions for communications, financial services, technology, retail, healthcare, and government markets. This segment also provides premise-based and hosted automated self-care and technology solutions; speech recognition solutions; and license, professional, consulting and maintenance, and software support services. Convergys Corporation was founded in 1998 and is headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio.
- [By Jake L’Ecuyer]
Convergys (NYSE: CVG) was also up, gaining 12.44 percent to $23.46 after the company announced its plans to acquire Stream Global Services for $820 million in cash. Convergys also reaffirmed its outlook for 2013.
- [By Wallace Witkowski]
Convergys (CVG) shares surged 20% to $25 on light volume after the customer management firm announced it will acquire Stream Global Services Inc. for a total enterprise value of $820 million in cash. The acquisition should add about 35 cents a share to Convergys earnings excluding one-time costs, the company said.
Best International Companies To Watch For 2014: Investors Bancorp Inc.(ISBC)
Investors Bancorp, Inc. operates as the holding company for Investors Savings Bank that provides a range of banking services in the United States. The company accepts deposits and originates loans. Its deposit products include savings accounts, checking accounts, money market accounts, and certificates of deposit. The company offers commercial real estate, construction, multi-family, and commercial and industrial loans; and consumer loans, including home equity loans and home equity lines of credit, as well as mortgage loans secured by one-to four-family residential real estate. As of December 31, 2010, it operated 82 full-service branch offices located in Essex, Hunterdon, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Somerset, Union, and Warren Counties, New Jersey; Nassau and Queens, New York; and Massachusetts. The company was founded in 1926 and is headquartered in Short Hills, New Jersey. Investors Bancorp, Inc. is a subsidiary of Investors Bancorp, MHC.
- [By Jim Royal]
I’m about to buy shares in Investors Bancorp (NASDAQ: ISBC ) , a soon-to-demutualize thrift that is undervalued. The thrift has quickly grown assets since it went public in 2005 and, with improving credit metrics and a solid return on equity, the bank is ready to make the final leap to full public ownership. So my Special Situations portfolio will acquire shares shortly. Here’s why I like the stock.
- [By Tim Melvin]
He also pointed out that the approaching completion of Roma Financial (ROMA) and Investors Bancorp (ISBC) has some interesting implications for bank stock investors. Both are mutual holding companies, and the newly formed bank is expected to complete the process and do a second-step conversion offering. That will be a fairly large deal, much larger than most second-step offerings, as the combined banks should be somewhere around $3 billion in market cap. There will be larger investment banks involved, complete with road shows and institutional meetings to promote the deal. The attention could well cause a revaluation of the mutual holding company and converted thrift sector of the banking market.
Best International Companies To Watch For 2014: iShares Micro-Cap ETF (IWC)
iShares Russell Microcap Index Fund (the Fund) seeks investment results that correspond generally to the price and yield performance of the Russell Microcap Index (the Index). The Index measures the micro-cap sector of the United States equity market and consists of those securities having the highest historical trading volumes of that index. The Index is a capitalization-weighted index and includes companies ranging in total market capitalization from approximately $50 million to $550 million.
The Index represents approximately 3% of the market capitalization of listed United States equity securities. The Fund uses a representative sampling strategy in seeking to track the Index. iShares Russell Microcap Index Fund’s investment advisor is Barclays Global Fund Advisors.
- [By Jim Fink]
Simply buying a small-cap ETF like the iShares Russell 2000 (NYSE: IWM) of the iShares Russell Microcap (NYSE: IWC) doesn’t work. Over the past 11 years, the Russell 2000 index (median market cap of $460 million) has declined in January seven times (64% of the time) and has actually performed worse than the S&P 500 a majority of the time (6 out of 11). The Russell Microcap index (median market cap of $152 million) has only been around for seven Januarys (since 2006) and it has underperformed the S&P 500 in four of those years (a majority of the time). December relative performance has been no better for IWM, which underperformed the S&P 500 a majority of the time over the past 11 years, but IWC has done much better in December, outperforming the S&P 500 in each of its first seven years of existence. Like I said earlier, however, microcap “gains” are suspect.
- [By Richard Moroney]
Micro-cap ETFs, which typically focus on stocks with market values below $500 million, can be volatile, but represent a nice diversifier for most portfolios. Up 35% this year, iShares Micro-Cap (IWC) is worth consideration.
- [By Mark Hulbert]
Fosback nevertheless favors the microcap category for the seasonal portfolio he recommends to clients, though not by buying and selling individual stocks. Instead, he prefers the iShares Micro-Cap ETF (IWC) , with an expense ratio of 0.72%. The fund replicates the performance of the smallest 1,000 stocks in the Russell 2000 Index (RUT) ; the average market cap of the stocks it owns is $420 million.
Best International Companies To Watch For 2014: BHP Billiton Limited(BHP)
BHP Billiton Limited, together with its subsidiaries, operates as a diversified natural resources company worldwide. The company engages in the exploration, development, and production of oil and gas; mining and refining of bauxite into alumina, and smelting of alumina into aluminum metal; and mining of copper, silver, lead, zinc, molybdenum, uranium, gold, diamonds, and titanium minerals, as well as development of potash deposits. It also involves in the mining and production of nickel products, manganese ore, and manganese metal and alloys, as well as in the mining of iron ore, metallurgical coal, and thermal coal. BHP Billiton Limited sells its copper, lead, and zinc concentrates, and alumina to smelters; copper cathodes to wire rod mills, brass mills, and casting plants; uranium oxide to electricity generating utilities; rough diamonds to diamond buyers and diamond manufacturers; nickel products to stainless steel, specialty alloy, foundry, chemicals, and refractory ma terial industries; metallurgical coal to steel producers; and energy coal to power stations, power generators, and industrial users. The company, formerly known as BHP Limited, was founded in 1885 and is headquartered in Melbourne, Australia.
- [By Rich Duprey]
BHP Billiton (NYSE: BHP ) wants to do some spring cleaning. Instead of having mining and energy assets stacked up around the world, BHP believes sorting them out into just five neat piles — iron ore, copper, coal, petroleum, and potash — will increase shareholder value. But just as the task of cleaning out my garage becomes an enormously complicated task because of my odd collection of interests that make it difficult to sift through the morass, investors may find simplifying BHP’s portfolio is not a simple weekend project, either.
- [By Bruce Kennedy]
The Anglo-Australian mining company BHP Billiton (NYSE: BHP) and Canadian firm Teck Resources (NYSE: TCK) also reported no disruptions at their Chilean mining operations – although some BHP Billiton personnel were evacuated from port facilities during the tsunami warning.
- [By Sara Sjolin]
Mining firms helped lift the London index, as they rose alongside higher metals prices. Shares of Rio Tinto PLC (UK:RIO) (RIO) (AU:RIO) gained 2.3%, Anglo American PLC (UK:AAL) picked up 2.1%, Antofagasta PLC (UK:ANTO) advanced 1.2% and BHP Billiton PLC (UK:BLT) (BHP) (AU:BHP) rose 1.1%.