January 14, 2014
Fourth Quarter Letter
2013 was an exceptional year in the stock market as demonstrated by the total return of the S&P 500 Index of 32.4% for the year. Your portfolio advanced by a similar amount. In fact, 2013 was the fifth year in a row in which the stock market had positive results. We all know that such a stretch is relatively rare. This was the fourth such streak of at least five consecutive years of positive S&P 500 returns since 1965, so enjoy it. Throughout the year, we continued to hold a reasonable level of cash in your portfolio (the cash level varies by each account’s special circumstances). This cash holding is characterized in our minds as a combination of prudence and opportunity reserve. It will continue to fluctuate based largely on available opportunities as we understand them.
You know from experience with us that we don’t always understand the opportunities as presented. For example, you would have been substantially better off had we gone “all in” at the last of March 2009. You know well that we did not. Importantly, however, your overall portfolio has likely had an experience since that dark time which is above average, inclusive of cash holdings.
Top 5 Supermarket Stocks To Watch Right Now: Walgreen Co (WAG)
Walgreen Co. (Walgreens), incorporated on February 15, 1909, together with its subsidiaries, operates the drugstore chain in the United States. The Company provides its customers with access to consumer goods and services, pharmacy, and health and wellness services in communities across America. The Company offers its products and services through drugstores, as well as through mails, by telephone and online. The Company sells prescription and non-prescription drugs, as well as general merchandises, including household items, convenience and fresh foods, personal care, beauty care, photofinishing and candy. On August 2, 2012, it acquired 45% interest in Alliance Boots GmbH (Alliance Boots). In September 2012, the Company completed the purchase of a regional drugstore chain in the mid-South region of the United States that included 144 stores operated under the USA Drug, Super D Drug, May’s, Med-X and Drug Warehouse names. In September 2012, WP Carey & Co LLC acquired fiv e retail stores leased to Walgreen Co. In December 2012, the Company completed a transaction giving company a ownership stake in Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Pharmacy LLC.
The Company’s pharmacy, health and wellness services include retail, specialty, infusion and respiratory services, mail service, convenient care clinics and worksite health and wellness centers. These services help improve health outcomes and manage costs for payers including employers, managed care organizations, health systems, pharmacy benefit managers and the public sector. The Company’s Take Care Health Systems subsidiary is a manager of worksite health and wellness centers and in-store convenient care clinics, with more than 700 locations throughout the United States.
As of August 31, 2012, Walgreens operated 8,385 locations in 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico. In 2012, the Company opened or acquired 266 locations for a net increase of 175 locations af ter relocations and closings. As of August 31, 2012, the Com! pany had 7,930 of Drugstores, 366 of Worksite Health and Wellness Centers, 76 of Infusion and Respiratory Services Facilities, 11 of Specialty Pharmacies and two of Mail Service Facilities. The Company’s drugstores are engaged in the retail sale of prescription and non-prescription drugs and general merchandise. General merchandise includes, among other things, household items, convenience and fresh foods, personal care, beauty care, photofinishing and candy.
The Company offers specialty pharmacy services that provide customers nationwide access to a variety of medications, services and programs for managing complex and chronic health conditions. In addition, the Company offers its customers infusion therapy services, including the administration of intravenous (IV) medications for cancer treatments, chronic pain, heart failure, and other infections and disorders which must be treated by IV. Walgreens provides these infusion services at home, at the workplace, in a physician’s office or at a Walgreens alternate treatment site. The Company also provides clinical services, such as laboratory monitoring, medication profile review, nutritional assessments and patient and caregiver education.
Customers can also access the Company’s e-commerce solutions, which extend the convenience to purchase most products available within its drugstores, as well as additional products sold exclusively online through its walgreens.com and drugstore.com Websites, including beauty.com and visiondirect.com. The Company’s Websites allow consumers to purchase general merchandise including beauty, personal care, home medical equipment, contact lenses, vitamins and supplements and other health and wellness solutions. The Company’s mobile applications also allow customers to refill prescriptions through their mobile device, download weekly promotions and find the nearest Walgreens drugstore. The Company also offers services through Take Care Heal th Systems, which manages its Take Care Clinics at select Wa! lgreens d! rugstores throughout the country.
Alliance Boots is a pharmacy-led health and beauty retailing and pharmaceutical wholesaling and distribution business. As of March 31, 2012, its fiscal year end, Alliance Boots had, together with its associates and joint ventures, pharmacy-led health and beauty retail businesses in 11 countries and operated more than 3,330 health and beauty retail stores, of which over 3,200 had a pharmacy. In addition, Alliance Boots had approximately 625 optical practices, approximately 185 of which operated on a franchise basis. Its pharmaceutical wholesale and distribution businesses, including its associates and joint ventures, supplied medicines, other healthcare products and related services to more than 170,000 pharmacies, doctors, health centers and hospitals from over 370 distribution centers in 21 countries.
Alliance Boots’s stores located in the United Kingdom, Norway, the Republic of Ireland, the Netherlands, Thaila nd and Lithuania and through its associates and joint ventures in Switzerland, China, Italy, Russia and Croatia. In addition, as of March 31, 2012, there were 58 Boots stores operated in the Middle East on a franchised basis. In its Health & Beauty Division, Alliance Boots has product brands such as No7, Soltan and Botanics, together with other brands, such as Boots Pharmaceuticals and Boots Laboratories. Through its Pharmaceutical Wholesale Division and several of its associates, Alliance Boots sells Almus, its line of generic medicines, in five countries and Alvita, its line of patient care products, in six countries.
- [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.
- [By Mike Deane]
Analyst firm Cantor Fitzgerald cut Walgreen Company (WAG) from “Hold” to “Sell,” as an analyst with the firm believes WAG stock is overpriced.
Cantor analyst Ajay Jain had the following comments about the cut to Walgreen’s rating: ”Our views on Walgreen’s fundamentals are unchanged heading into 2Q earnings on 3/25. However, with WAG’s share price up by close to 17% following the 1Q earnings release on 12/20, we can’t justify a HOLD rating without a meaningful increase in our price target. With WAG trading at an estimated forward PE multiple of 24x our FY:14 estimates, we are sticking to our guns on valuation.”
He added: ”WAG also discounts significant earnings upside from Alliance Boots even as the core earnings growth remains in the low-single digits. Finally, based on what we view as some questionable earnings quality recently, we think it’s appropriate to highlight this issue. While WAG had been our top pick after the strategic partnership with Alliance Boots was announced, we think the combined earnings power is more than fully reflected in the stock.”
Cantor has a $50 price target on the company, suggesting the stock will decline 10% from its current price.
WAG stock was inactive in pre-market trading. The stock is up 18.01% YTD.
Top 5 Supermarket Stocks To Watch Right Now: R.R. Donnelley & Sons Company(RRD)
R.R. Donnelley & Sons Company provides pre-media, printing, logistics, and business process outsourcing products and services to private and public sectors worldwide. The company operates primarily in the commercial print portion of the printing industry, with related product and service offerings designed to offer customers solutions for communicating their messages to target audiences. Its products and related service offerings include magazines, catalogs, retail inserts, books, directories, financial print, direct mail, forms, labels, office products, statement printing, pre media, and logistics services. The company also offers business process outsourcing services that comprise transactional print and outsourcing services, statement printing, direct mail, and print management services; and product configuration, customized kitting, and order fulfillment for technology, medical device, and other companies. It distributes its products to end-users through the United Sta tes postal services, retail channels, electronically, or by direct shipment to customer facilities. R.R. Donnelley & Sons was founded in 1864 and is based in Chicago, Illinois.
- [By Ben Levisohn]
R.R. Donnelley & Sons (RRD) has gained 5.7% to $19.85 after the commercial printing company reported better-than-forecast earnings.
Aeropostale (ARO) has jumped 3.6% to $7.19 after Bloomberg reported that the struggling retailer was working out its options with Barclays assistance.
- [By Monica Gerson]
Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide (NYSE: HOT) reported a gain in its third-quarter core earnings and lifted its full-year earnings forecast. To read the full news, click here. Procera Networks (NASDAQ: PKT) and Skyfire, a fully-owned subsidiary of Opera Software, today announced a joint solution and partnership to tackle the rapid growth of video traffic on global mobile networks, based on an open, scalable ICAP architecture. To read the full news, click here. R. R. Donnelley & Sons Company (NASDAQ: RRD) and Consolidated Graphics (NYSE: CGX) jointly announced today that they have signed a definitive agreement by which RR Donnelley will acquire Consolidated Graphics, a provider of digital and commercial printing, fulfillment services, print management and proprietary Internet-based technology solutions. To read the full news, click here. Dunkin’ Brands Group (NASDAQ: DNKN) reported a 36% rise in its third-quarter income. To read the full news, click here.
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Top 5 Supermarket Stocks To Watch Right Now: Informatica Corporation (INFA)
Informatica Corporation provides enterprise data integration and data quality software and services worldwide. Its software solutions include a set of technologies that enable various enterprise-wide data integration initiatives. The company offers PowerCenter, which integrates data virtually from business systems in various formats and delivers that data throughout the enterprise; PowerExchange that enables IT organizations to access the sources of enterprise data without having to develop custom data access programs; and Informatica Data Services for finding, integrating, and managing data across the enterprise. It also provides Data Quality, which delivers data quality to stakeholders, projects, and data domains; Master Data Management that provides consolidated business-critical data; and B2B Data Exchange software for multi-enterprise data integration. In addition, the company offers application information lifecycle management products to manage various phases of the data lifecycle, from development and testing to archiving and retirement; complex event processing to detect, correlate, analyze, and respond to data-driven events; Ultra Messaging products, which enables ultra low latency messaging; and Cloud that delivers purpose-built data integration cloud applications to allow business users to integrate data across cloud-based applications, and on-premise systems and databases. Further, it offers product-related customer support, consulting, and education services. Informatica Corporation serves aerospace, automotive, energy and utilities, entertainment/media, financial services, healthcare/life sciences, high technology, insurance, manufacturing, public sector, retail, services, telecommunications, and travel/transportation industries through its direct sales force, as well as through systems integrators, resellers, distributors, and original equipment manufacturer partners. The company was founded in 1993 and is headquartered in Red wood City, California.
- [By Lee Jackson]
Informatica Corp. (NASDAQ: INFA) is the world’s number one independent provider of data integration software and is specializing in data masking for security. Gartner analysts wrote in the Data Masking Technology report that, “A growing number of enterprises are taking a strategic approach to adopting data masking,” and that “new use cases in data masking implementation have emerged and are evolving rapidly: DDM [dynamic data masking] and SDM [static data masking] for big data platforms, and the use of data masking in cloud access security brokers to address data security in the cloud platform.” Continued strength in business analytics bodes well for the company as it goes after IBM business. The Baird price target for the stock is $47, and the consensus is posted at $45.02. Informatica closed Wednesday at $43.49.
- [By gurujx]
Informatica Corporation (INFA): CFO, CAO, EVP-GCS, Secretary Earl Fry Sold 110,000 Shares
CFO Earl Fry sold 110,000 shares of INFA stock on Oct. 31 at the average price of $38.68. Earl Fry owns at least 261,767 shares after this. The price of the stock has decreased by 1.45% since.
Top 5 Supermarket Stocks To Watch Right Now: iShares Mortgage Real Estate Capped ETF (REM)
iShares FTSE NAREIT Mortgage REITs Index Fund (the Fund) seeks investment results that correspond generally to the price and yield performance of the FTSE NAREIT Mortgage REITs Index (the Index). The Index measures the performance of the residential and commercial mortgage real estate sector of the United States equity market.
The Fund will concentrate its investments in a particular industry or group of industries to approximately the same extent as the Index is so concentrated. The Fund’s investment advisor is Barclays Global Fund Advisors.
- [By Charles Sizemore]
So, I repeat: use the recent yield spike as an opportunity to scoop up your favorite income investments. If you want to take a modest risk, follow Gundlach’s advice and accumulate mortgage REITs. Your easiest one-stop shop during the market’s taper tantrum would be the iShares Mortgage Real Estate ETF (REM).
- [By Dan Caplinger]
But you can see in several places the consequences of the stampede toward high yield. Here are just a few:
Closed-end funds Cornerstone Progressive (NYSEMKT: CFP ) and Pimco High Income (NYSE: PHK ) both make fixed payments back to fund shareholders on a monthly basis, and their distribution yields are truly extraordinary, at about 17% and 12%, respectively. Those dividends have enticed shareholders to pay $1.30 to $1.40 or more for each $1 of assets in the funds. Yet during most months, a substantial portion of those distribution payments has simply been a return of investor capital rather than true income from the funds’ investments. A recent study discussed in The Wall Street Journal found that returns on a portfolio with a combined value and dividend-income strategy outperformed a strategy focused more exclusively on maximizing dividends by an average of 1.7 percentage points per year, a huge edge in long-run returns. In the dividend ETF arena, most funds tend to focus on maximizing yield. Although the popular Vanguard Dividend Appreciation (NYSEMKT: VIG ) ETF bucks the trend by screening first for consistent dividend growth and only then looking at yield as a factor, many rival ETFs start with high-yielding stocks as their baseline and only then consider other desirable traits. Others focus solely on high-dividend niches of the market, such as iShares FTSE NAREIT Mortgage-Plus (NYSEMKT: REM ) and its concentration on high-yield mortgage REITs.
When dividend stocks get too popular, their prices get out of line with both their dividend income and the fundamentals of the businesses that underlie those stocks. In simpler terms, when dividend stocks become bad values, it’s time to consider looking elsewhere for a margin of safety.
- [By Peter F. Way]
An ETF of the mREITs exists, the iShares Mortgage Real Estate Capped (REM). For comparison, its past two-year price history is contrasted with the general market (SPY) and another income alternative the iShares US Preferred Stock ETF (PFF).
- [By Doug Fabian]
The iShares Mortgage Real Estate Capped (REM) is an ETF that contains a basket of the biggest and best mortgage REITs on the market today.
This fund is pegged to the FTSE NAREIT All Mortgage Capped Index, a benchmark measure that includes top names in the space such as Annaly Capital (NLY), American Capital Agency Corp. (AGNC), Starwood Property Trust (STWD) and Two Harbors Investment Corp. (TWO).
Top 5 Supermarket Stocks To Watch Right Now: Kraton Performance Polymers Inc (KRA)
Kraton Performance Polymers, Inc. engages in the production of styrenic block copolymers (SBCs) and other engineered polymers worldwide. The company offers highly-engineered synthetic elastomers that enhance the performance of various end use products by imparting flexibility, resilience, strength, durability, and processability. It also provides isoprene rubber products for use in the production of medical products, adhesives, tackifiers, paints, coatings, and photo-resistors; and isoprene rubber latex, a substitute for natural rubber latex that are used in surgical gloves and condoms. In addition, the company is involved in the development and commercialization of polyvinyl chloride alternatives for wire, cable, and medical applications; polymers for use in slush molding; and membrane polymers for use in water filtration and breathable fabrics. Further, it offers core commercial grades of SBCs; unhydrogenated SBCs, which are primarily used in paving and roofing, adhesive s, and sealants and coatings, as well as footwear applications; hydrogenated SBCs, which are used in soft touch and flexible materials, personal hygiene products, and automotive components; and compounds, other polymers, resins, oils, or fillers that are used in various consumer and industrial applications. Kraton Performance Polymers, Inc. markets its products through various channels, including direct sales force, marketing representatives, and distributors under the Kraton, Cariflex, and Nexar brand names. The company was formerly known as Polymer Holdings LLC and changed its name to Kraton Performance Polymers, Inc. in December 2009. Kraton Performance Polymers, Inc. is headquartered in Houston, Texas.
- [By Bryan Murphy]
The whole thing may seem a little “out there” at first glance, but truth be told, what Metabolix, Inc. does isn’t terribly unusual anymore. It’s just a little less sexy than what traders and stock speculators usually want to see and hear with their picks. Kraton Performance Polymers Inc. (NYSE:KRA) and the now-bankrupt Cereplast Inc. (OTCMKTS:CERPQ) are/were in the same business, along with several others. [Don’t let the Cereplast bankruptcy filing deter you – it wasn’t a lack of opportunity that up-ended CERP.]