Hot Defensive Stocks For 2014

WASHINGTON (TheStreet) — Employees of US Airways (LCC) and American (AAMRQ) blitzed Washington in support of a planned merger, which a veteran antitrust attorney said is unprecedented.

“Antitrust attorneys are always fond of saying that political pressure is never effective when it comes to mergers and antitrust, and that sometimes it can backfire,” said John Briggs, a veteran Washington antitrust attorney, in an interview. Briggs is co-chair of Axinn Veltrop & Harkrider’s Antitrust Group and managing partner of the firm’s Washington, D.C. office.

“I’ve been doing this for four decades,” Briggs said. “I’ve never seen the parties to a deal put together a rally on Capitol Hill. I’ve never heard of such a thing. They’ve got unions, companies, Democrats, Republicans — it’s bizarre.

Hot Defensive Stocks For 2014: Wilshire Bancorp Inc.(WIBC)

Wilshire Bancorp, Inc. operates as the holding company for Wilshire State Bank that offers a range of financial products and services. It accepts various deposit products that include certificates of deposit, regular savings accounts, money market accounts, checking and negotiable order of withdrawal accounts, installment savings accounts, and individual retirement accounts. The company?s loan portfolio comprises commercial real estate and home mortgage loans, commercial business lending and trade finance, and small business administration lending, as well as consumer loans, including personal loans, auto loans, and other loans. It also provides trade finance services that include issuance and negotiation of letters of credit, handling of documentary collections, advising and negotiation of commercial letters of credit, transfer and issuance of back-to-back letters of credit, and trade finance lines of credit. In addition, the company offers Internet banking services, auto matic teller machines, and armored carrier services. It has 24 full-service branch offices in Southern California, Texas, New Jersey, and the greater New York City metropolitan area; and 6 loan production offices in Colorado, Georgia, Texas, New Jersey, and Virginia. The company was founded in 1980 and is headquartered in Los Angeles, California.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Marc Bastow]

    Los-Angeles, California-based bank holding company Wilshire Bancorp (WIBC) raised its quarterly dividend 67% to 5 cents per share, payable April 15 to shareholders of record as of March 31.
    WIBC Dividend Yield: 1.77%

  • [By Rich Smith]

    Los Angeles-based Wilshire Bancorp (NASDAQ: WIBC  ) is acquiring some Korean banking customers… in New Jersey.

    On Monday, Wilshire announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire New Jersey’s BankAsiana, a commercial bank with three branches serving the Korean-American community in the New York/New Jersey market, boasting total assets of $207.3 million, total net loans of $161.2 million, and total deposits of $164.6 million.

Hot Defensive Stocks For 2014: Star Bulk Carriers Corp.(SBLK)

Star Bulk Carriers Corp. operates as a shipping company providing seaborne transportation solutions in the dry bulk sector worldwide. Its vessels transport major bulks, which include iron ore, coal, and grain; and minor bulks, such as bauxite, fertilizers, and steel products. The company has an operating fleet of 15 dry bulk carriers consisting of 7 Capesize and 8 Supramax dry bulk vessels with a combined cargo carrying capacity of 1,625,945 deadweight tons. The company was incorporated in 2006 and is based in Athens, Greece.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By James E. Brumley]

    It’s certainly no Safe Bulkers, Inc. (NYSE:SB) or Star Bulk Carriers Corp. (NASDAQ:SBLK), in terms or market cap or revenue. In fact, even with the drybulk shipping industry it’s a somewhat obscure name. Yet, FreeSeas Inc. (NASDAQ:FREE) may well be the stock with the most near-term potential upside, now that it’s gotten over a key technical hump.

  • [By Igor Greenwald]

    Last month, Oaktree Capital (OAK), managed by another distressed investing icon, Howard Marks, disclosed a huge 21.9% stake in Star Bulk Carriers (SBLK).

  • [By James E. Brumley]

    I’ll warn you now that if you’re a fan or shareholder of Star Bulk Carriers Corp. (NASDAQ:SBLK), then you’re not going to like what you’re about to read. Before you fly off into a tirade of “colorful” descriptions of me, however, know that this is neither a judgment call on the company itself, nor a long-term outlook. It’s simply a trading-based observation of hints that SBLK has dropped today. Fair enough? OK, let’s dig in.

  • [By Roberto Pedone]

    Star Bulk Carriers (SBLK) provides worldwide transportation of drybulk commodities through its vessel-owning subsidiaries for a range of customers and minor bulk cargoes including iron ore, coal, grain, cement and fertilizer. This stock closed up 7.9% at $10.58 in Monday’s trading session.

    Monday’s Volume: 243,000

    Three-Month Average Volume: 64,367

    Volume % Change: 228%

    From a technical perspective, SBLK jumped sharply higher here right above some near-term support at $9.47 with above-average volume. This stock has been uptrending strong for the last two months and change, with shares moving higher from its low of $5.37 to its recent high of $11.53. During that move, shares of SBLK have been consistently making higher lows and higher highs, which is bullish technical price action. That move has now pushed shares of SBLK within range of triggering a near-term breakout trade. That trade will hit if SBLK manages to take out its 52-week high at $11.53 and then once it clears some past resistance at $11.98 with high volume.

    Traders should now look for long-biased trades in SBLK as long as it’s trending above near-term support at $9.47 and then once it sustains a move or close above those breakout levels with volume that hits near or above 64,367 shares. If that breakout triggers soon, then SBLK will set up to enter new 52-week-high territory, which is bullish technical price action. Some possible upside targets off that breakout are its next major overhead resistance levels at $14 to $15.

Hot Defensive Stocks For 2014: Superior Energy Services Inc.(SPN)

Superior Energy Services, Inc. provides specialized oilfield services and equipments to serve the production and drilling-related needs of oil and gas companies. It operates through three segments: Subsea and Well Enhancement; Drilling Products and Services; and Marine. The Subsea and Well Enhancement segment provides integrated subsea and engineering services, coiled tubing, electric line, pumping and stimulation, gas lift, well control, hydraulic workover and snubbing, recompletion, stimulation and sand control equipment and services, well evaluation, offshore oil and gas tank, vessel cleaning, decommissioning, plug and abandonment, and mechanical wireline services. This segment also manufactures and sells drilling rig instrumentation equipments; and involves in the production and sale of oil and gas from its properties in the Gulf of Mexico. The Drilling Products and Services segment manufactures, sells, and rents equipments for use with offshore and onshore oil and gas well drilling, completion, production, and workover activities. This segment?s products and services include pressure control equipment, drill pipe and landing strings, connecting iron, handling tools, stabilizers, drill collars, and on-site accommodations. The Marine segment owns and operates a fleet of liftboats in the Gulf of Mexico. The company operates 25 rental liftboats with leg lengths ranging from 145 feet to 265 feet. Superior Energy Services, Inc. sells its products and services in Latin America, North America, North Sea and Europe, the Middle East, West Africa, and the Asia Pacific region. The company was founded in 1991 and is based in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Ben Levisohn]

    As a result, the knives have come out. Cowen’s analysts downgraded six stocks–Baker Hughes (BHI), Cameron International (CAM), Nabors Industries (NBR), CGG (CGG), Superior Energy Services (SPN) and Helmerich & Payne (HP)–and cut their estimates on even more. Its analysts explain why:

  • [By Sara Murphy]

    Basic Energy Services (NYSE: BAS  ) derived more than a quarter of 2012 revenues from its fluid services unit. Its operations rely heavily on the legacy model of hauling water. Superior Energy Services (NYSE: SPN  ) counts on its traditional fluid services offerings for about 20% of revenues.

  • [By David Smith]

    Superior Energy Services (NYSE: SPN  )
    The largest of the three “smaller” oil-field services companies for this discussion carries an approximately $4.4 billion market cap. The Houston-based company has been accorded a rating of 1.6 by the analysts, with no single rating below a buy. (All three of the companies discussed here are headquartered in Houston. But that’s a coincidence, not a requirement.)

Hot Defensive Stocks For 2014: Prothena Corporation PLC (PRTA)

Prothena Corporation PLC, incorporated on September 26, 2012, is an Ireland-based, clinical-stage biotechnology company. The Company is engaged in discovering and developing monoclonal antibodies that are directed towards misfolded proteins or improper cell adhesion. Its pipeline includes NEOD001, PRX002 and PRX003. The Company’s work in protein misfolding could result in therapies to treat several neurodegenerative diseases, including AL (primary) and AA (secondary) forms of amyloidosis (NEOD001), Parkinson’s disease and related synucleinopathies (PRX002). Its cell adhesion development activities could generate new therapies to treat inflammatory diseases and metastatic cancers (PRX003). The Company’s program, NEOD001, is in Phase 1. In addition to antibodies directed to neo-epitope targets, it is developing antibodies directed to other targets. The Company has generated antibodies against cell adhesion targets expressed on certain pathogenic Th17 immune cells and tum or cells.

The Company’s pipeline also includes several late discovery stage programs for which it is testing antibodies in preclinical models of disease. It is also generating additional antibodies against other targets involved in protein misfolding and cell adhesion for characterization in vivo and in vitro.

NEOD001 for Amyloidosis

NEOD001 is a monoclonal antibody that targets the amyloid that accumulates in both AL and AA forms of amyloidosis. The antibody was designed to not react with normal serum amyloid A and only with the aberrant cleaved form of the protein (amyloid A).

PRX002 for Parkinson’s Disease

The Company has generated antibodies targeting alpha-synuclein that may slow or reduce the neurodegeneration associated with synuclein misfolding and/or transmission. It has tested these antibodies in various cellular and animal models of synuclein-related disease. In a transgenic mouse model of Parkin son’s disease, passive immunization with 9E4, a murine ver! sion of PRX002, reduced the appearance of synuclein pathology, protected synapses and improved performance by the mice in behavioral testing. The humanized antibody product candidate PRX002 has advanced into manufacturing and preclinical testing.

PRX003 for Inflammatory Diseases and Cancers

The Company is developing PRX003, a monoclonal antibody targeting MCAM for the potential treatment of inflammatory diseases and cancers. It has generated monoclonal antibodies that block MCAM-mediated cell adhesion and have been shown to delay relapse and severity of relapse in a mouse model of multiple sclerosis known as experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis. The Company’s antibodies are being tested in animal models of inflammatory diseases and cancers. Based on early results from these studies, it has identified a clinical candidate, PRX003. It has advanced this antibody into manufacturing and intends to advance this antibody into preclinical testing.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Jake L’Ecuyer]

    Equities Trading UP
    Prothena Corporation plc (NASDAQ: PRTA) shares shot up 21.60 percent to $45.19 after the company reported clinical data to be presented at International Symposium on Amyloidosis. Morgan Stanley raised the price target on the stock from $35.00 to $53.00.

  • [By Lisa Levin]

    Prothena Corporation plc (NASDAQ: PRTA) shares surged 23.52% to touch a new 52-week high of $45.90 after the company reported clinical data to be presented at International Symposium on Amyloidosis. Morgan Stanley raised the price target on the stock from $35.00 to $53.00.

Hot Defensive Stocks For 2014: Aflac Incorporated(AFL)

Aflac Incorporated, through its subsidiary, American Family Life Assurance Company of Columbus (Aflac), provides supplemental health and life insurance. The company offers various voluntary supplemental insurance products, including cancer plans, general medical indemnity plans, medical/sickness riders, care plans, living benefit life plans, ordinary life insurance plans, and annuities in Japan. It also provides loss-of-income products, such as life and short-term disability plans; and products designed to protect individuals from depletion of assets, which comprise hospital indemnity, fixed-benefit dental, vision care, accident, cancer, critical illness/critical care, and hospital intensive care plans in the United States. The company sells its products through sales associates and brokers, affiliated corporate agencies, independent corporate agencies, and individual agencies. Aflac Incorporated was founded in 1955 and is headquartered in Columbus, Georgia.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By John Kell]

    Aflac Inc.’s(AFL) fourth-quarter earnings rose 16% but a weaker yen and dollar exchange rate continued to weigh on the company’s core operations in Japan. Shares edged down 2.4% to $60 premarket.

  • [By Daniela Pylypczak]

    Following the biggest one-day drop in more than six months, U.S. equities finally managed to rebound on Tuesday. After the closing bell, AFLAC (AFL) announced its fourth quarter results.
    AFL’s Earnings in Brief

    AFL reported earnings of $1.45 per share, up from from $1.24 per share in the Q4 of last year. Analysts expected to see EPS of $1.39. Revenue was $5.8 billion, coming in below analysts’ estimate of $5.91 billion. The company said that revenue decreased 9.0% in the fourth quarter of 2013, compared with $6.4 billion in the fourth quarter of 2012. A weaker yen/dollar exchange rate was noted as the primary cause of the decline; a significant portion of Aflac’s business is in Japan.

    CEO Commentary

    Daniel P. Amos, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer commented: “We are very pleased with Aflac’s financial performance for both the quarter and year. As the year progressed, operating earnings per diluted share were better than expected, and we finished the year slightly ahead of our expectation for operating earnings to increase 5%, excluding the impact of the yen… Overall, we were pleased with our investment results in 2013, especially in light of the low-yield environment in both Japan and the U.S.  We position ourselves first to ensure we meet our policyholder obligations. We then seek to achieve a high degree of confidence in allocating capital to our shareholders while also pursuing investment strategies that enhance our overall income growth.”

    AFL’s Dividend

    The board of directors declared the first quarter cash dividend of $0.37 per share. The next dividend is payable on March 3, 2014, to shareholders of record at the close of business on February 14, 2014.

    Stock Performance 

    AFLAC shares traded 1.2% higher on Tuesday. The stock is down 7.94% YTD.

Hot Defensive Stocks For 2014: Aegon NV(AEG)

AEGON N.V. provides life insurance, pensions, and asset management products and services worldwide. The company?s life insurance products include traditional, term, universal, whole, and other life insurance products sold as part of defined benefit pension plans, endowment policies, post-retirement annuity products, and group risk products; supplemental health insurance products comprise accidental death, other injury, critical illness, hospital indemnity, medicare supplement, and student health; specialty lines consists of travel, membership, and creditor products; and long term care insurance products for policyholders who require care due to a chronic illness or cognitive impairment. It also offers a range of savings and retirement products and services, including mutual funds, and fixed and variable annuities, savings accounts and investment contracts, segregated funds, guaranteed investment accounts, and single premium immediate annuities, as well as investment advice to individuals. In addition, the company offers employer solutions and pensions, such as retirement plans, pension plans, and pension-related products and services; investment products, including onshore and offshore bonds, and trusts; reinsurance products and solutions to life insurance and financial services companies; general insurance products comprising house, car, and fire insurance; and asset management products and services, including general account assets, unit-linked funds, and third party activities. AEGON N.V. markets its products through independent and career agents, financial planners, registered representatives, independent marketing organizations, banks, broker-dealers, benefit consulting firms, wirehouses, affinity groups, institutional partners, independent managing general agencies, and specialized financial advisors, as well as through online, direct, and worksite marketing. The company was founded in 1900 and is headquartered in The Hague, the Netherl ands.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Will Ashworth]

    Assuming it delivers on its outlook for 2014, its current free cash flow yield is a very enticing 20%. This isn’t a growth stock, but its brands still possess hidden value. As cheap stocks go, it’s very attractive.

    Cheap Stocks to Buy: Aegon (AEG)

    It’s not often that you can buy a $19 billion market cap for under 10 bucks. Aegon’s a Dutch insurance company that’s had a rough ride over the past few years, and its stock’s suffered as a result. In the late ’90s AEG stock traded around $60 — it hasn’t been anywhere close since. However, it’s got some good assets that should bear fruit in the years to come. Aegon has 12,000 employees in the Americas doing business primarily under the Transamerica brand, which has been a part of AEG since 1999.