Hot Life Sciences Stocks To Invest In 2014

There are several states in which more than 20% of the population cannot always afford to feed themselves. Most of these also have among the highest poverty rates.  A large number of the states are in the South, which based on poverty rates and eduction, should not come as a shock.

According to a new Gallup poll:

For the sixth consecutive year, Mississippians were the most likely in the U.S. to report struggling to afford food. In 2013, 25.1% report there was at least one time in the last 12 months when they did not have enough money to buy the food they or their families needed. Residents in West Virginia, Louisiana, and Alabama were also among the most likely to struggle to afford food. Residents of Alaska, New Hampshire and Minnesota were among the least likely to have this problem.

Following Mississippi among the 10 states which are worst off:

2) West Virginia (23.0%), 3) Louisiana (23.0%), 4) Alabama (22.9%), 5) Arkansas (22.9%), 6) North Carolina (22.2%), 7) Kentucky (21.8%), 8) Georgia (21.5%), 9) Oklahoma (21.2%), and 10) Arizona (21.1%)

Hot Life Sciences Stocks To Invest In 2014: Sama Resources Inc (SME)

Sama Resources Inc./Ressources Sama Inc., formerly Sama Resources Inc., is a Canada-based, exploration-stage company. The Company is engaged in mineral exploration and development business. The Company’s property includes Samapleu Property and Lola Property. The Lola Project is 100% owned by the Company and is located in eastern Guinea, adjacent to the Company’s Samapleu project, which is just across the border in Cote d’Ivoire. The Samapleu poroject is located approximately 600 kilometer northwest of Abidjan and encompasses approximately 446 square kilometer. On December 11, 2012, the Company commenced a 3,300 line/kilometer airborne helicopter time domain electromagnetic and magnetic survey over the Company’s Samapleu Property. In April 2012, the Company commenced a 1,500 meter drilling program at its newly discovered Gogota Deposit. As of September 30, 2012, the Company’s subsidiaries include Sama Nickel Corporation, Sama Nickel Cote d’ivoire SARL and Sama Resource s Guinee. Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By GURUFOCUS]

    Kingdee International Software Group Co. Ltd. (HKSE:00268) appreciated 56% during the third quarter. Kingdee is a leading provider of enterprise management software and cloud and e-commerce platforms in China, with a focus on the small/medium enterprise (SME) sector. During the third quarter, the company announced financial results, suggesting that the reorganization of its sales priorities was beginning to bear fruit. We also believe the stock’s performance was aided by anticipated government reforms, which are likely to support the software sector, as well as the company’s SME clients. (Michael Kass)

Hot Life Sciences Stocks To Invest In 2014: Paychex Inc.(PAYX)

Paychex Inc., together with its subsidiaries, provides payroll, human resource, and benefits outsourcing solutions for small-to medium-sized businesses in the United States and Germany. It offers payroll processing services, including calculation, preparation, and delivery of employee payroll checks; production of internal accounting records and management reports; preparation of federal, state, and local payroll tax returns; and collection and remittance of clients? payroll obligations. The company also provides payroll tax administration services; employee payment services; and regulatory compliance services, such as new-hire reporting and garnishment processing. Its human resource outsourcing services include payroll, employer compliance, human resource and employee benefits administration, risk management outsourcing, and the on-site availability of a professionally trained human resource representative, as well as provides employee handbooks, management manuals, and r equired regulatory forms. In addition, the company offers retirement services administration; workers? compensation; business-owner policies; commercial auto; and health and benefits coverage, including health, dental, vision, and life. Further, it provides online human resource administration software products for employee benefits management and administration, and time and attendance solutions. As of May 31, 2010, the company served approximately 536,000 clients in the United States; and 1,700 clients in Germany. Paychex, Inc. was founded in 1971 and is headquartered in Rochester, New York.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By John Kell and Lauren Pollock var popups = dojo.query(“.socialByline .popC”); ]

    Paychex Inc.(PAYX) said its fiscal third-quarter earnings rose 11% as the company reported higher revenue in both its payroll and human resource services businesses. Shares edged up 3.2% to $43.25 premarket.

  • [By Wallace Witkowski]

    A handful of companies report earnings this week including Walgreen Co. (WAG) , Carnival Corp. (CCL) , Accenture PLC (ACN) , Red Hat Inc. (RHT) , Paychex Inc. (PAYX) , and GameStop Corp. (GME) First-quarter earnings season won’t be in full swing until mid-April when J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. (JPM)  reports.

Hot Life Sciences Stocks To Invest In 2014: Siemens AG (SI)

Siemens AG (Siemens), incorporated on August 28, 1996, is a globally operating technology company with core activities in the fields of energy, healthcare, industry and infrastructure. Siemens business activities focus on four sectors, Energy, Healthcare, Industry and Infrastructure & Cities. These sectors form four of Siemens reportable segments. In addition to the four sectors, Siemens has two additional reportable segments: Equity Investments and Siemens Financial Services (SFS). The Energy sector comprises four divisions: Power Generation, Wind Power, Power Transmission and Energy Service. The Healthcare Sector includes four divisions: Imaging & Therapy Systems, Clinical Products, Diagnostics and Customer Solutions; and one sector-led Business Unit, Audiology Solutions. The Industry sector consists of three divisions: Industry Automation, Drive Technologies and Customer Services; and one sector-led Business Unit, Metals Technologies. The Infrastructure & Cities sector consists of five divisions: Rail Systems, Mobility and Logistics, Low and Medium Voltage, Smart Grid, and Building Technologies. In July 2013 Siemens sold its stake in the Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN) joint venture to Nokia and OSRAM Licht AG was spun off from Siemens.

Industry

The Industry Sector offers a broad spectrum of products, solutions and services that help customers use resources and energy. The Sector’s integrated technologies and holistic solutions primarily address industrial customers, particularly those in the process and manufacturing industries. The portfolio spans industry automation, industrial software, drive products and services, system integration, and solutions for industrial plant businesses. The Industry Sector consists of three Divisions: Industry Automation, Drive Technologies and Customer Services. The Sector also includes a sector-led Business Unit, Metals Technologies. In addition to its Sector-level financial result s, Industry also breaks out financial results for the Indust! ry Automation Division and the Drive Technologies Division. The Industry Automation Division offers a range of standard products and system solutions for automation technologies used in the manufacturing and process industries. The Division’s offerings include automation systems and software, motor controls, machine-to- machine communication products, sensors, product and production lifecycle management products, and software for simulating and testing mechatronic systems. The Drive Technologies Division offers products and comprehensive systems across the entire drive train. These offerings are customized to the respective application and include numerical control systems, inverters, converters, motors (geared and gearless), drives and couplings. In addition, Drive Technologies supplies integrated automation systems for machine tools and production machines. The Division also offers integrated lifecycle solutions and services for industries such as shipbuilding, cement, m ining, and pulp and paper. The Customer Services Division offers a comprehensive portfolio of services and supports industrial customers.

Energy

The Energy Sector offers a spectrum of products, solutions and services for generating and transmitting power, and for extracting, converting and transporting oil and gas. The Fossil Power Generation Division offers products and solutions for fossil-based power generation. The Division concentrates on products and solutions for gas and steam turbines, turbo generators, heat recovery steam generators including control systems, with an emphasis on combined-cycle power plants. It also develops solutions for instrumentation and control systems for all types of power plants and for use in power generation. The Wind Power Division manufactures wind turbines for onshore and offshore applications, including both geared turbines and direct drive machines. The product portfolio is based on four product platforms, two for each of the onshore and offshore applications. The Oil ! & Gas Div! ision has a comprehensive portfolio of rotating machinery (gas turbines, steam turbines, compressors with associated equipment) and electrical, instrumentation and telecommunication (EIT) solutions. The Power Transmission Division provides customers with turnkey power transmission solutions as well as discrete products, systems and related engineering and services. It covers high-voltage transmission solutions, power and distribution transformers, high-voltage switching and non-switching products and systems, and alternating and direct current transmission systems. The Energy Service Division offers comprehensive services for products, solutions and technologies, covering performance enhancements, maintenance services, customer trainings and consulting services for the Divisions Fossil Power Generation, Wind Power and Oil & Gas. The Wind Power Division is active in both the onshore and the offshore market segments globally. Power Transmission Division is expanding infrastruc ture in emerging countries, equipment replacement and modernization in mature economies, and integration of renewable energies.

Healthcare

The Healthcare Sector offers customers a comprehensive portfolio of medical solutions across the treatment chain-ranging from medical imaging to in-vitro diagnostics to interventional systems and clinical information technology systems-all from a single source. In addition, the Sector provides technical maintenance, professional and consulting services, and, together with Financial Services (SFS), financing to assist customers in purchasing the Sector’s products. The Healthcare Sector includes four Divisions: Imaging & Therapy Systems, Clinical Products, Diagnostics and Customer Solutions. The Sector also includes one sector-led Business Unit, Audiology Solutions. In addition to its Sector-level financial results, Healthcare also separately breaks out financial results for the Diagnostics Division.

The Imaging & Therapy Systems Division provides large-scale! medical ! devices for diagnostic imaging and for image-guided therapies. Imaging equipment includes computed tomographs, magnetic resonance imaging equipment, angiography systems for diagnostics, and positron emission tomography. The Clinical Products Division mainly comprises the business with ultrasound and X-ray equipment including mammography. The Diagnostics Division offers products and services in the area of in-vitro diagnostics. The Division’s product portfolio represents a comprehensive range of diagnostic testing systems and consumables, including offerings for clinical chemistry and immunodiagnostics, molecular diagnostics, hematology, hemostasis, microbiology, point-of-care testing and clinical laboratory automation solutions. The Customer Solutions Division provides healthcare information technology (HIT) systems. It is responsible for the Sector’s service business and customer relationship management on a global level.

Equity Investments

The Equity Investments comprises equity stakes held by Siemens that are accounted for by the equity method, at cost or as current available-for-sale financial assets and for strategic reasons are not allocated to a Sector, SFS, Centrally managed portfolio activities, Siemens Real Estate (SRE), Corporate items or Corporate Treasury. Its main investments within Equity Investments are its stake of 50% in BSH Bosch and Siemens Hausgerate GmbH (BSH), its stake of 17% in OSRAM Licht AG (OSRAM) as well as its 49% stake in Enterprise Networks Holdings B.V. (EN).

Financial Services

Financial Services provides a variety of financial services and products to other Siemens units and their customers and to third parties. SFS has three strategic pillars: supporting Siemens units with finance solutions for their customers, managing financial risks of Siemens and offering third-party finance services and products. SFS’ business can be divided into capital business a nd fee business. The Commercial Finance Business Unit offers! a compre! hensive range of solutions for equipment financing, leasing, rental and related financing for equipment supplied by Siemens or third-party providers. The Venture Capital Business Segment’s main task, together with Siemens’ Sectors, is to identify and finance young companies worldwide. The Treasury Business Unit operates the global Corporate Treasury of the Siemens Group, with SFS employee’s thereby managing liquidity, cash and financial risks (interest, foreign exchange, commodities) on behalf of Corporate Treasury. The Financing & Investment Management Business Unit manages fee-based receivables and offers investment management services. The Insurance Business Unit acts primarily as an insurance broker for Siemens and external customers.

Infrastructure & Cities

The Infrastructure & Cities Sector offers a range of technologies for the sustainability of metropolitan centers and urban infrastructures worldwide, such as integrated mobility soluti ons, building and security systems, power distribution equipment, smart grid applications and low and medium-voltage products. The Sector consists of five Divisions: Rail Systems; Mobility and Logistics; Low and Medium Voltage; Smart Grid; and Building Technologies. The Rail Systems Division comprises Siemens’ rail vehicle business, encompassing the entire spectrum of rolling stock-including high-speed trains, commuter trains, passenger coaches, metros, people movers, light rail vehicles, locomotives, bogies, traction systems and rail-related services. The Mobility and Logistics Division primarily provides products, solutions (including IT solutions) and services for rail transportation operating systems, such as central control systems, interlockings and automated controls. The Division also provides offerings for road traffic, including traffic detection, information and guidance systems.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Dan Burrows]

    As for strategic positioning, STM is an enviable place. Major customers include Apple, General Electric (GE) and and Siemens (SI). It’s also moving into or already a leader in some hot new markets.

  • [By Louie Grint]

    A discouraging diagnosis
    Second, here’s a well-known global leader in most of its key businesses: Siemens AG (NYSE: SI  ) .

    In this case, the company reported a lackluster fourth quarter, with a year-over-year decrease in both revenue and earnings. Revenue and orders dropped 1% to 21.2 billion euros and 21 billion euros, respectively.

Hot Life Sciences Stocks To Invest In 2014: Stream Group Ltd (SGO)

Stream Group Limited, formerly LongReach Group Limited, is an Australia-based company operating in the information and communications technology (ICT) sector. The Company is engaged in the design, integration, installation and maintenance of integrated information and communications technology based products and services to the defense, public safety and security sectors, as well as for government, telecommunications and corporate customers, both locally and internationally. The Company together with its subsidiaries is also engaged in the provision of consulting services to certain key defense organizations. In January 2013, the Company sold its C4i business. Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Jonathan Morgan]

    Saint-Gobain (SGO) dropped 3.7 percent to 36.87 euros. Morgan Stanley cut its rating on the stock to underweight, similar to a sell recommendation, from equal weight, saying it doesn’t see a recovery yet in the European building industry and the contribution from emerging markets will slow.

Hot Life Sciences Stocks To Invest In 2014: Inter Parfums Inc.(IPAR)

Inter Parfums, Inc., together with its subsidiaries, develops, manufactures, markets, and distributes a range of fragrances and fragrance related products worldwide. It offers fragrance products primarily under license agreements with brand owners; specialty retail and designer products; alternative designer fragrances and personal care products; Aziza line of eye shadow kits, mascara, and pencils; and a line of health and beauty aids comprising shampoo, conditioner, hand lotion, and baby oil under its Intimate and Johnson Parker brands. The company offers its products under the Burberry, Van Cleef & Arpels, Jimmy Choo, Montblanc, Boucheron, Balmain, Repetto, Gap, Banana Republic, New York & Company, Brooks Brothers, bebe, Nine West, Betsey Johnson, Lane Bryant, Anna Sui, S.T. Dupont, Paul Smith, and Jordache brands under license agreements, as well as Lanvin, Intimate, Aziza, Nickel, Tristar, Regal Collections, Royal Selections, and Apple brands. Inter Parfums, Inc. distr ibutes its products through independent distribution companies and duty-free operators to department stores, perfumeries, specialty retailers, mass-market retailers, supermarkets, and domestic and international wholesalers and distributors. The company was formerly known as Jean Philippe Fragrances, Inc. and changed its name to Inter Parfums, Inc. in July 1999. Inter Parfums, Inc. was founded in 1985 and is headquartered in New York, New York.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Chuck Carnevale]

    Inter Parfums Inc. (IPAR): Develops, Manufactures and Distributes Prestige Perfumes

    Our final example, Inter Parfums Inc., is an above-average growing small-cap that validates our PE 15 standard, but with a twist. Small-cap. companies tend to carry greater risk than larger capitalization companies. As a result, it is not uncommon to see, as we do with Inter Parfums Inc., an earnings and price correlated graphic with wilder price swings.

Hot Life Sciences Stocks To Invest In 2014: Walter Energy Inc.(WLT)

Walter Energy, Inc. produces and exports metallurgical coal for the steel industry primarily in the United States. The company also produces thermal and industrial coal, anthracite, metallurgical coke, coal bed methane gas, and other related products. It principally serves electric utility and industrial customers. The company was formerly known as Walter Industries, Inc. and changed its name to Walter Energy, Inc. in April 2009. Walter Energy, Inc. was founded in 1946 and is headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Ben Levisohn]

    We’ve all heard of strip mining. Well UBS stripped the majority of the coal companies it covers, including Walter Energy (WLT) and Alpha Natural Resources (ANR), of their Buy ratings today.

  • [By Ben Levisohn]

    Coal stocks are tumbling today, as Walter Energy (WLT) sold a boatload of debt, and Bank of America Merrill Lynch predicted lower coal prices.

    Greg Kahn / GRAIN

    Shares of Walter Energy have dropped 17% to $7.54 at 1:$1 p.m. today, Peabody Energy (BTU) has fallen 1.4% to $15.52, Alpha Natural Resources (ANR) has declined 3.2% to $4.31 and Arch Coal (ACI) is off 1.2% at $43.0.

    Walter Energy announced that it would sell $200 million of senior secured notes due 2019 with a coupon of 9.500% a year, and priced its private offering of $350 million aggregate principal amount of 11.0%/12.0% Senior Secured Second Lien PIK Toggle Notes due 2020. Walter has a debt-equity ratio of 369, according to Bloomberg, more than twice Peabody Energy’s 152. Walter’s announcement comes just two days after James River Coal (JRCC) missed a coupon payment on its own debt. Standard & Poor’s reaffirmed Walter Energy’s B-minus rating yesterday but said the outlook is negative.

    Bloomberg has the details on Merrill Lynch’s coal forecast:

    Walter Energy Inc. and other U.S. producers of metallurgical coal slumped after Bank of America Corp. said supply and demand fundamentals for the commodity will be “depressed” for the next several years…

    Benchmark contract prices for metallurgical coal, which is used to make steel, are at $143 a ton in the first quarter, the lowest since 2010. Quarterly prices will be in a range of $130 to $150 a ton in the next several years, Timna Tanners, a New York-based analyst at Bank of America, said today in a note.

    Shares of Walter Energy have plunged 55% so far this year, while Peabody Energy has fallen 21%, Alpha Natural Resources has declined 40% and Arch Coal has dipped 3.2%.

  • [By John Kell and Tess Stynes var popups = dojo.query(“.socialByline .popC”); p]

    Walter Energy(WLT) doubled the size of its five-year 9.5% senior secured note sale to $200 million, along with the sale of $350 million in second lien PIK toggle notes due in 2020. PIK toggle notes give the issuer an option to pay interest with new debt instead of cash. Walter Energy will pay off part of an existing credit facility with the bond proceeds as it aims to extend the maturity of its debt burden with the hope that coal prices will rebound and return the company to profitability. Shares fell 12% to $7.98 premarket.

Hot Life Sciences Stocks To Invest In 2014: Jinpan International Limited(JST)

Jinpan International Limited engages in the design and manufacture of cast resin transformers for voltage distribution equipment. Its cast resin transformers allow high voltage transmissions of electricity to be distributed to various locations in lower, more usable voltages. The company provides medium voltage cast resin transformers for various end uses and applications, including industrial, infrastructure, and municipal projects, such as factories, real estate developments, airports, and subway systems. It also offers switchgears, which enable operators of a power distribution network to switch equipment in and out of the network; line reactors that limit current, filter waveforms, and attenuate electrical noise and harmonics associated with the inverter and driver output of wind powered turbines; and unit substations, which are integrated assemblies comprising high voltage switchgear, a transformer, a low voltage switchgear, a power meter, and a power factor compensat ion device interconnected with cables or buss bars. The company?s unit substations function as miniature power distribution stations and are used in applications related to the construction and maintenance of city power networks. Jinpan International sells its products in the People?s Republic of China, the United States, and Europe. The company was founded in 1993 and is headquartered in Haikou, the People’s Republic of China.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By CRWE]

    Jinpan International Ltd (Nasdaq:JST), a leading designer, manufacturer, and distributor of cast resin dry type transformers, recently reported that its subsidiary Hainan Jinpan Electric Co. Ltd. successfully developed a 40,000KVA / 35KV cast resin dry type power transformer. The Company has shipped the transformer to the customer’s site in China’s Anhui province for installation in a transformer substation that will deliver power to gas liquification systems.

Hot Life Sciences Stocks To Invest In 2014: Plexus Corp.(PLXS)

Plexus Corp., together with its subsidiaries, provides electronic manufacturing services to original equipment manufacturers and other technology companies. The company offers product development and design services, including program management, feasibility studies, product conceptualization, specification development, circuit design, field programmable gate array design, printed circuit board layout, embedded software design, mechanical design, development of test specifications, and product verification testing. It also provides value-added services, such as engineering change-order management, cost reduction redesign, component obsolescence management, product feature expansion, test enhancement, and component re-sourcing. In addition, the company offers prototyping and new product introduction services comprising assembly of prototype products, materials management, analysis of the manufacturability and testability of a design, test implementation, and pilot productio n. Further, it provides test equipment development; material sourcing and procurement; agile manufacturing; fulfillment and logistic; after-market support; and regulatory requirements services. The company serves the wireline/networking, wireless infrastructure, medical, industrial/commercial, and defense/security/aerospace markets in the United States, Malaysia, China, the United Kingdom, Mexico, and Romania. Plexus Corp. was founded in 1979 and is headquartered in Neenah, Wisconsin.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Seth Jayson]

    Plexus (Nasdaq: PLXS  ) reported earnings on July 17. Here are the numbers you need to know.

    The 10-second takeaway
    For the quarter ended June 29 (Q3), Plexus beat slightly on revenues and beat expectations on earnings per share.

  • [By Evan Niu, CFA]

    What: Shares of Plexus (NASDAQ: PLXS  ) have jumped today by as much as 13% after the company reported earnings results.

    So what: Revenue in the fiscal third quarter totaled $571.9 million, well ahead of the Street consensus of $565 million. Earnings per share were $0.68, similarly topping expectations of just $0.58 per share. CEO Dean Foate said the strong results were driven by the networking and communications as well as the health care and life sciences sectors.

Hot Life Sciences Stocks To Invest In 2014: Alon USA Energy Inc. (ALJ)

Alon USA Energy, Inc. engages in refining and marketing petroleum products primarily in the South Central, Southwestern, and Western regions of the United States. The company operates in three segments: Refining and Marketing, Asphalt, and Retail. The Refining and Marketing segment refines crude oil into petroleum products, including gasoline, diesel fuel, jet fuel, petrochemicals, feed stocks, asphalts, and other petroleum products. It markets finished products and blend stocks through sales and exchanges with other oil companies, state and federal governmental entities, unbranded wholesale distributors, and various other third parties. This segment also markets motor fuels to distributors under the Alon brand; and licenses Alon brand name and provides payment card processing services, advertising programs, and loyalty and other marketing programs to licensed locations. The Asphalt segment is involved in the marketing of patented tire rubber modified asphalt products; and production of paving and roofing grades of asphalt comprising performance-graded asphalts, emulsions, and cutbacks. This segment sells paving asphalt to road and materials manufacturers and highway construction/maintenance contractors; polymer modified or emulsion asphalt to highway maintenance contractors; and roofing asphalt to roofing shingle manufacturers or other industrial users. The Retail segment operates retail convenience stores that offer various grades of gasoline, diesel fuel, food products, tobacco products, non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages, and general merchandise primarily under the 7-Eleven and Alon brands. As of December 31, 2012, it had 298 retail convenience stores located in Central and West Texas, and New Mexico. The company was founded in 2000 and is headquartered in Dallas, Texas. Alon USA Energy, Inc. is a subsidiary of Alon Israel Oil Company, Ltd.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Ben Levisohn]

    Alon USA Energy (ALJ) and Alon USA Partners (ALDW) are surging thanks to a Credit Suisse upgrade, even as refiners like Valero Energy (VLO), Phillips 66 (PSX) and Holly Frontier (HFC) stumble.

    Bloomberg News

    Analyst Edward Westlake and team explain their optimism for the Alon USA pair:

    ALDW: Accounting for the revised commodity forecasts (plus support from
    the self-help programs that the company is pursuing), our LT EBITDA rises by c4% on average. Granted that there is the possibility that ALDW will not be able to pay out a distribution in 4Q13/1Q14, we flag that for those willing to look past the near-term headwinds, the rolling 12 month forward potential yield starting in 2Q14 is 15% (and rises to c20% by 4Q14) – Certainly hard to overlook at these levels.

    ALJ: Accounting for the revised commodity forecasts (plus support from selfhelp
    programs), our LT EBITDA rises by c9% on average. ALJ could be worth up to c$15/sh (including the $2.25/sh expected contribution from the Bakersfield start-up – Delivery of this project is key). At current levels, the stock still provides c20% upside in the scenario where Bakersfield does not proceed (or c40% if it does). We raise our rating and target price to Neutral and $14/sh.

    Alon USA Energy has gained 11% to $11.34 and Alon USA Partners has risen 5.2% to $11.12, even as Valero Energy has dropped 0.5% to $40.12, Phillips 66 has dipped 0.4% to $65.09 and Holly Frontier has fallen 1.1% to $43.71.

  • [By Robert Rapier] In last week’s issue I discussed the basics of the refining sector. Today I will provide an overview of four MLPs that hold refining assets.

    To review, the refining sector was very profitable in 2012 thanks to unusually high crack spreads, which for many US refiners are approximated by the price differential between Brent and West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oils. For a more thorough explanation of this phenomenon, please refer to last week’s issue.

    After years of trading at a $1 to $3 per barrel discount to WTI, Brent began fetching a premium a few years ago as a glut of crude developed in the mid-continent area of the US. In 2011 the Brent-WTI price differential increased to more than $25/bbl, and it remained historically high in 2012.

    But pipeline capacity started to catch up this year, and the share prices of refiners retreated as the glut began to dissipate and the Brent-WTI differential shrank. In Q3 2012, the Brent-WTI differential a veraged $17.43/bbl, but by Q3 of this year, the differential had fallen to $4.43/bbl. This promises bad news for refiners about to report Q3 earnings.

    Many analysts downgraded the refining sector in Q3, but as the differential fell below $5/bbl it was hard to imagine that the news could get much worse. With poor Q3 results largely priced in, the differential subsequently rose back above $10/bbl, signaling better refining margins moving into Q4.

    Refiners began to post earnings this past week, and as expected they were weak. Valero (NYSE: VLO) reported slightly higher revenues year-over-year, but net earnings fell more than 50 percent from a year ago. Nevertheless, they beat the extremely pessimistic expectations of analysts, and Valero shares rose on the news.

    Phillips 66’s (NYSE: PSX) refining unit actually posted a loss, but its chemical business turned in a solid quarter which more than compensated for the disappointing refining results.

    T he rest of the refine