Top 5 Regional Bank Companies To Watch In Right Now


Based on the aggregated intelligence of 180,000-plus investors participating in Motley Fool CAPS, the Fool’s free investing community, travel center operator TravelCenters of America (NYSE: TA  ) has earned a respected four-star ranking.

With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at TravelCenters and see what CAPS investors are saying about the stock right now.

TravelCenters facts

Headquarters (Founded)

Westlake, Ohio (1992)

Market Cap


$295.4 million

Industry

Automotive retail

Trailing-12-Month Revenue

$8.0 billion

Top 5 Regional Bank Companies To Watch In Right Now: Ralcorp Holdings Inc.(RAH)

Ralcorp Holdings, Inc. engages in manufacturing, distributing, and marketing private-brand food products, ready-to-eat cereal products, and other regional and value-brand food products. Its products include ready-to-eat and hot cereals; nutritional and cereal bars; snack mixes, corn-based chips, and extruded corn snack products; crackers and cookies; snack nuts; chocolate candy; salad dressings; mayonnaise; peanut butter; jams and jellies; syrups; sauces; frozen griddle products, including pancakes, waffles, and French toast; frozen biscuits and other frozen pre-baked products, such as breads and rolls; frozen and refrigerated doughs; and dry pasta. The company offers its products under various brands, including Post, Honey Bunches of Oats, Pebbles, Post Selects, Great Grains, Spoon Size, Grape-Nuts, Honeycomb, 3 Minute Brand, Ralston, Parco, Lofthouse, Krusteaz, Panne Provincio, Major Peters?, Medallion, Ry Krisp, Champagne, Monet, Rippin? Good, Hoody?s, Linette, JERO, Fl avor House, Nutcracker, Pennsylvania Dutch, Heartland, Golden Grain, Anthony?s, Pasta Lensi, Ronco, and Mueller?s. It also develops, manufactures, and markets emulations of various types of branded food products to retailers, mass merchandisers, and drug stores to sell under their own store brands or under value-brands. Ralcorp Holdings, Inc. sells its products to retail chains, mass merchandisers, grocery wholesalers, warehouse club stores, drugstores, restaurant chains, and foodservice distributors in the United States, as well as in Canada, Europe, and southeast Asia. It offers its products through a broker network, internal sales staff, independent sales agency, a network of third party warehouses, and independent truck lines. The company was founded in 1995 and is based in St. Louis, Missouri.


Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Louis Navellier]

    A $15.5 billion business that employs 34,800 worldwide, ConAgra is the fourth largest player in the Processed & Packaged Goods industry. In early 2013, ConAgra completed its buyout of Ralcorp Holdings (RAH) making the combined company one of the largest packaged food players on the continent.

  • [By Will Ashworth]

    Post’s debt has risen substantially since its separation from Ralcorp (RAH) in February 2012. Including its $370 million acquisition of the Dakota Growers Pasta Company announced Sept. 16, Post has spent $717 million moving into other areas of the food industry beyond cereal.

Top 5 Regional Bank Companies To Watch In Right Now: Zurich Insurance Group AG (ZURN)


Zurich Insurance Group Limited is a Switzerland-based holding company engaged in the insurance sector. The Company provides a range of general and life insurance products and services for individuals, small business, mid-sized and large-sized companies, and multinational corporations. The Company offers its products and services through three business segments, namely General Insurance, Global life and Farmers. The General Insurance segment offers motor, home and commercial products and services for individuals, as well as small and large business. The Global life segment offers life insurance, savings, investment and pensions solutions. The Farmers segment includes farmers management services, which provides non-claims management services to the farmers exchange, as well as Farmers Re business, which includes reinsurance assumed from the Farmers Exchange by the Company’s group. Furthermore, the Company provides reinsurance and insurance business considered as non-core busine ss. Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Namitha Jagadeesh]

    Zurich Insurance Group AG (ZURN) lost 3.6 percent after second-quarter profit missed analysts’ estimates. Hennes & Mauritz AB (HMB) declined the most in seven weeks as Europe’s second-biggest clothing retailer reported worse-than-expected sales. BG Group Plc, which derives 20 percent of its oil-and-gas production from Egypt, slipped 2.4 percent as the death toll from nationwide violence in the most populous Arab country climbed above 500.

Top 5 Regional Bank Companies To Watch In Right Now: Alliance Holdings GP L.P.(AHGP)

Alliance Holdings GP, L.P., through its subsidiaries, produces and markets coal primarily to utilities and industrial users in the United States. It produces a range of steam coal with varying sulfur and heat contents. The company operates nine underground mining complexes in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, and West Virginia. As of December 31, 2010, it had approximately 697.4 million tons of proven and probable coal reserves in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. In addition, the company leases land; and operates a coal loading terminal, with a capacity of 8.0 million tons with ground storage of approximately 60,000 to 70,000 tons, on the Ohio River at Mt. Vernon, Indiana. Further, it engages in purchasing and selling coal; and providing services, including ash and scrubber sludge removal, coal yard maintenance, and arranging alternate transportation services. Alliance GP, LLC, serves as the general partner of the company. Allian ce Holdings GP, L.P. is based in Tulsa, Oklahoma.


Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Robert Rapier]

    The National Association of Publicly Traded Partnerships (NAPTP) lists five MLPs in the category “Natural Resources – Coal,” although two of the five are Alliance Holdings (NYSE: AHGP) and its operating affiliate, Alliance Resource Partners (NYSE: ARLP). The other three are Natural Resource Partners (NYSE: NRP), Rhino Resource Partners (NYSE: RNO), and Oxford Resource Partners (NYSE: OXF).

  • [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 Alliance Holdings GP (Nasdaq: AHGP  ) , whose recent revenue and earnings are plotted below.

Top 5 Regional Bank Companies To Watch In Right Now: China Unicom (CHU)


China Unicom (Hong Kong) Limited (Unicom), incorporated on February 8, 2000, is an integrated telecommunications operator in China providing mobile voice and value-added, fixed-line voice and fixed-line broadband, data communications and other telecommunications services to its customers. The Company operates in two business segments consisting of mobile services and fixed-line services. The Company is engaged in global system for mobile communications (GSM) and wideband code division multiple access (WCDMA) cellular business in 31 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions in China, the provision of fixedline voice, broadband and other Internet-related services, information and communications technology services, business and data communications services, and other related telecommunication value-added businesses. As of 30 June 2011, Unicom Group held 57.81% of the shares in the Company through China United Network Communications Limited (A Share Company), China Uni com (BVI) Limited and China Netcom Group Corporation (BVI) Limited, and Telefonica Internacional S.A.U. held 9.01% of the shares in the Company.


Mobile Business

Unicom’s mobile business consists of GSM and third generation (3G) mobile business. As of December 31, 2010, the Company had a total of 167.43 million mobile subscribers. As of December 31, 2010, its total number of mobile subscribers included 167.43 million. Unicom operates the 3G business based on the WCDMA technology nationwide in China. As of December 31, 2010, the total number of its 3G subscribers included 14.06 million, and had 1.35 million wireless data card subscribers, 2.41 million mobile television (TV) subscribers and over seven million mobile reading subscribers. During the year ended December 31, 2010, the total 3G voice usage was 55.47 billion minutes and the average data usage per subscriber per month was 178M. GSM mobile business primarily consists of GSM voice business an d value-added business.


The Company’s mobile ! voice business enables its subscribers to make and receive phone calls with a mobile handset at any point within the coverage area of its mobile telecommunications networks. Its mobile voice business includes local calls, domestic long distance calls, international long distance calls, intra-provincial roaming, inter-provincial roaming and international roaming. As of December 31, 2010, the Company’s total number of GSM mobile subscribers was 153.37 million. Unicom offers a range of GSM value-added services nationwide, including short message service (SMS), Cool Ringtone (a personalized ring-back tone service), mobile Internet and other wireless information services. During 2010, a total of 78.31 billion SMSs were transmitted by its GSM mobile subscribers. As of December 31, 2010, the Company had a total number of 67.26 million subscribers to its Cool Ringtone service. In addition, as of December 31, 2010, it had a total number of 55.81 million mobile Internet subscribers.


Fixed-Line Business

Unicom is a fixed-line broadband and communications operator in northern China. The Company offers a range of fixed-line services nationwide in China, including fixed-line broadband services and data communications services; fixed-line voice services, include local and long distance fixed-line voice services and value-added services, and other services. The Company is a provider of fixed-line broadband services in its fixed-line northern service region. Unicom is a provider of data communications services in its fixed-line northern service region. It offers managed data products, such as those based on digital data networks (DDN), frame relay, asynchronous transfer mode (ATM) and Internet protocol-virtual private network (IP-VPN). The Company also offers leased line products, including domestic and international leased circuits. Its customers for these services include government entities, large financial institutions and other domestic and multinational businesses, Internet service prov! iders and! other telecommunications operators.


As of December 31, 2010, the Company had established business cooperation relationships with more than 160 overseas operators to provide various international data communications products and services, such as international voice and data services. During 2010, it continued to offer full-scale data communications services to international operators and domestic and international corporate customers. The Company’s fixed-line voice services consist of local voice, domestic long distance, international long distance, value-added, interconnection and personal handyphone system (PHS) services. In addition to fixed-line telephone voice services, it offers a range of value-added services on its fixed-line networks. The Company’s fixed-line, value-added services include Personalized Ring and caller identification services. Personalized Ring services enable its fixed-line subscribers to personalize the ring-back tone for incoming calls. As of December 31, 2010, the number of its Personalized Ring subscribers reached 23.79 million.


Interconnection and Roaming Arrangements

The Company earns interconnection fees for terminating or transiting calls that originate from other domestic telecommunications operators’ networks and pay interconnection fees to other operators for calls originating from its networks that are terminated on their networks. It earns and pays such fees in respect of mobile calls, local and domestic and international long distance calls and Internet services, except for the interconnection by fixed-line subscribers calling its mobile subscribers in the same region where no interconnection fee will be charged.


The Company provides roaming services, which allow its subscribers to access its mobile services while they are physically outside of their registered service area or in the coverage areas of other mobile networks in other countries and re gions with which it has roaming arrangements. As of April 30! , 2011, U! nicom had roaming arrangements for GSM international voice and SMS services with 242 operators in 521 countries and regions; GPRS international inbound data services with 179 operators in 400 countries and regions and for international GPRS outbound data services with 164 operators in 357 countries and regions, and 3G services with 104 WCDMA operators in 245 countries and regions.


Mobile Networks

The Company’s mobile network consists of cell sites, which are physical locations, each equipped with a base station that houses transmitters, receivers and other equipment used to communicate through radio channels with subscribers’ mobile handsets within the range of a cell; base station controllers, which connect to, and control, the base stations, and mobile switching centers, which control the base station controllers and the routing of telephone calls. Its mobile network also consists of a transmission network, which links the mobile switching cen ters, base station controllers, base stations and the public switched telephone network. It has deployed GSM and WCDMA mobile networks. The Company’s GSM mobile network mainly operates at 900 megahertz. It has also deployed GSM technology that operates at 1,800 megahertz in metropolitan areas to supplement the capacity of its existing mobile network. As of December 31, 2010, the Company had approximately 329,000 GSM base stations.


The Company competes with China Mobile and China Telecom.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Charles Sizemore]

    Like Telenor, Telefonica is a classic “emerging markets lite” investment in that it is headquartered in a well-regulated European market yet gets the bulk of its revenues from emerging markets. About half of Telefonica’s operating profits come from Latin America. Telefonica also owns about 5% of China Unicom (CHU), China’s second-largest telecom operator.

  • [By Jim Woods]

    China Telecom (CHA) has seen its shares fall more than 16% over the past year, with much of that coming in 2014. China Unicom (CHU) stock has slumped 9% in the past 52 weeks, thanks to a 12% decline year-to-date.

Top 5 Regional Bank Companies To Watch In Right Now: 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

  • [By Dan Dzombak]

    Among companies with over a $1 billion market cap, today’s oil and gas stocks leader was Alon USA Energy (NYSE: ALJ  ) , up 4.95% to $17.16. During the refiners’ drop on Tuesday and Wednesday, Alon dropped 12.89%. Despite the comeback today, the stock is still down 8.6% from where it was before the plunge. Alon USA owns refineries in Louisiana and California, 11 asphalt terminals, as well as 300 7-11 retail locations. The company has been profiting heavily from the massive price difference between WTI and Brent crude. In November of 2012, the company IPO’d its Big Springs refinery as a master limited partnership, Alon USA Partners LP, the proceeds of which Alon used to pay down debt.

  • [By Rich Smith]

    The Department of Defense issued $1.3 billion worth of new contract awards Friday. However, a single, $950 million award for engineering services accounted for the bulk of the spending — and that one went to a series of privately held companies. Publicly traded names fared less well. Among the few winners: