Top Companies For 2014

Cash-strapped buyers used to have a couple choices in new cars for $10,000. No longer. Cheap cars are no longer as cheap. So what are the best used-car values for the money? waded into the statistics and looked at models based on crash tests, safety, reliability, practicality and drivability.

Two aspects that apparently weren’t considered were looks and excitement, because you’d be hard-pressed to find a duller bunch of cars. One exception: the original Scion xB, which remains as much fun today as did in the day.

From a list of 60 vehicles, here’s what came up with, in alphabetical order:

•2009 Ford Focus: Its nimble handling and smooth-revving four-cylinder are still appealing. The 2009 Focus is also offered as both a sedan and coupe.

•2008 Ford Fusion: The first-generation Fusion sedan still hits a sweet spot between ride quality and handling, and family shoppers will appreciate its roomy trunk.

Top Companies For 2014: Boardwalk Pipeline Partners LP (BWP)

Boardwalk Pipeline Partners, LP is a limited partnership company. The Company owns and operates three interstate natural gas pipeline systems including integrated storage facilities. Its business is conducted by its primary subsidiary, Boardwalk Pipelines, LP (Boardwalk Pipelines) and its subsidiaries, Gulf Crossing Pipeline Company LLC (Gulf Crossing), Gulf South Pipeline Company, LP (Gulf South) and Texas Gas Transmission, LLC (Texas Gas) (together, the operating subsidiaries), which consist of integrated natural gas pipeline and storage systems. During the year ended December 31, 2011, it formed Boardwalk Midstream, LP (Midstream), and its operating subsidiary, Boardwalk Field Services, LLC (Field Services), which is engaged in the natural gas gathering and processing business. In December 2011, Boardwalk HP Storage Company, LLC (HP Storage), a joint venture between Boardwalk Pipelines and Boardwalk Pipelines Holding Corp. (BPHC) acquired Petal Gas Storage, L.L.C. (Peta l), Hattiesburg Gas Storage Company (Hattiesburg). In December 2011, it acquired a 20% equity interest in HP Storage.

The Company’s pipeline systems originate in the Gulf Coast region, Oklahoma and Arkansas and extend north and east to the midwestern states of Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. It serves a mix of customers, including producers, local distribution companies (LDCs), marketers, electric power generators, direct industrial users and interstate and intrastate pipelines. The Company provides a portion of its pipeline transportation and storage services, through firm contracts, under which the Company’s customers pay monthly capacity reservation charges. Other charges are based on actual utilization of the capacity under firm contracts and contracts for interruptible services. During 2011, approximately 82% of its revenues were derived from capacity reservation charges under firm contracts; approximately 14% of its revenues were deriv ed from charges-based on actual utilization under firm contr! acts, and approximately 4% of its revenues were derived from interruptible transportation, interruptible storage, parking and lending (PAL) and other services. Its expansion projects include South Texas Eagle Ford Expansionand Marcellus Gathering System and HP Storage.

Pipeline and Storage Systems

The Company’s operating subsidiaries own and operate approximately 14,200 miles of pipelines, directly serving customers in twelve states and indirectly serving customers throughout the northeastern and southeastern United States through numerous interconnections with unaffiliated pipelines. In 2011, its pipeline systems transported approximately 2.7 trillion cubic feet of gas. Average daily throughput on its pipeline systems during 2011 was approximately 7.3 billion cubic feet. Its natural gas storage facilities are comprised of eleven underground storage fields located in four states with aggregate working gas capacity of approximately 167.0 billion cu bic feet. the Company operates the assets of HP Storage on behalf of the joint venture.

The principal sources of supply for our pipeline systems are regional supply hubs and market centers located in the Gulf Coast region, including offshore Louisiana, the Perryville, Louisiana area, the Henry Hub in Louisiana and the Carthage, Texas area. Its pipelines in the Carthage, Texas area provide access to natural gas supplies from the Bossier Sands, Barnett Shale, Haynesville Shale and other gas producing regions in eastern Texas and northern Louisiana. The Henry Hub serves as the designated delivery point for natural gas futures contracts traded on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Its pipeline systems also have access to unconventional mid-continent supplies, such as the Woodford Shale in southeastern Oklahoma and the Fayetteville Shale in Arkansas. The Company also accesses the Eagle Ford Shale in southern Texas; wellhead supplies in northern and southern Louisiana and Mississippi; and Canadian natural gas through an unaffil! iated pip! eline interconnect at Whitesville, Kentucky.

Gulf Crossing

The Company’s Gulf Crossing pipeline system originates near Sherman, Texas, and proceeds to the Perryville, Louisiana area. The market areas are in the Midwest, Northeast, Southeast and Florida through interconnections with Gulf South, Texas Gas and unaffiliated pipelines.

Gulf South

The Company’s Gulf South pipeline system is located along the Gulf Coast in the states of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. The on-system markets directly served by the Gulf South system are generally located in eastern Texas, Louisiana, southern Mississippi, southern Alabama, and the Florida Panhandle. These markets include LDCs and municipalities located across the system, including New Orleans, Louisiana; Jackson, Mississippi; Mobile, Alabama; and Pensacola, Florida, and other end-users located across the system, including the Baton Rouge to New Orleans industrial corridor and Lake Charles, Louisiana. Gulf South also has indirect access to off-system markets through numerous interconnections with unaffiliated interstate and intrastate pipelines and storage facilities. These pipeline interconnections provide access to markets throughout the northeastern and southeastern United States.

Gulf South has two natural gas storage facilities. The gas storage facility located in Bistineau, Louisiana, has approximately 78 billion cubic feet of working gas storage capacity from which Gulf South offers firm and interruptible storage service, including no-notice service. Gulf South’s Jackson, Mississippi, gas storage facility has approximately five billion cubic feet of working gas storage capacity, which is used for operational purposes and is not offered for sale to the market.

Texas Gas

The Company’s Texas Gas pipeline system originates in Louisiana, East Texas and Arkansas and runs north and east through Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, K! entucky, ! Indiana, and into Ohio, with smaller diameter lines extending into Illinois. Texas Gas directly serves LDCs, municipalities and power generators in its market area, which encompasses eight states in the South and Midwest and includes the Memphis, Tennessee; Louisville, Kentucky; Cincinnati and Dayton, Ohio, and Evansville and Indianapolis, Indiana metropolitan areas. Texas Gas also has indirect market access to the Northeast through interconnections with unaffiliated pipelines. Texas Gas owns nine natural gas storage fields, of which it owns the majority of the working and base gas. Texas Gas uses this gas to meet the operational requirements of its transportation and storage customers and the requirements of its no-notice service customers.

Field Services

In 2011, the Company formed its Field Services subsidiary and transferred to it approximately 100 miles of gathering and transmission pipeline. In 2012, the Company transferred to Field Services a n additional 240 miles of pipeline and two compressor stations. Field Services is developing gathering and processing capabilities in south Texas and Pennsylvania.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Lisa Levin]

    Boardwalk Pipeline Partners LP (NYSE: BWP) shares fell 1.10% to touch a new 52-week low of $12.11. Boardwalk Pipeline Partners will be removed from the Alerian Energy Infrastructure Index following the close of business on March 21.

  • [By Paul Ausick]

    The big news in the master limited partnership (MLP) world last week was the announcement by Boardwalk Pipeline Partners LP (NYSE: BWP) that it was cutting its quarterly distribution by 80%. The company’s market value was cut in half, and the price of Boardwalk’s common units fell from above $24 to below $13. For the rest of the week, investors have been trying to figure out which midstream company will be next or, alternatively, which companies offer the best chance of prospering.

  • [By Robert Rapier]

    This is, fortunately, an update not on a current portfolio holding but rather one on Boardwalk Pipeline Partners (NYSE: BWP), the MLP we recommended selling in November at near $28 and ahead of a continuing decline that cost investors another 13 percent as of Friday.

Top Companies For 2014: AMN Healthcare Services Inc(AHS)

AMN Healthcare Services, Inc. provides healthcare staffing and clinical workforce management solutions in the United States. The company?s Nurse and Allied Healthcare Staffing segment provides staffing solutions for hospitals and other healthcare facilities, including medical, surgical, specialty, licensed practical or vocational, and advanced practice nurses, as well as surgical technologists and dialysis technicians. This segment also offers allied health professionals under the Med Travelers, Club Staffing, and Rx Pro Health brand names to acute-care hospitals and other healthcare facilities, such as skilled nursing facilities, rehabilitation clinics, and retail and mail-order pharmacies. These allied health professionals include physical, surgical, respiratory, and occupational therapists, as well as medical and radiology technologists, speech pathologists, rehabilitation assistants, pharmacists, and pharmacy technicians. Its Locum Tenens Staffing segment places physic ians of various specialties, certified registered nurse anesthetists, nurse practitioners, and dentists on a temporary basis as independent contractors with various healthcare organizations, including hospitals, medical groups, occupational medical clinics, individual practitioners, networks, psychiatric facilities, government institutions, and managed care entities. The company?s Physician Permanent Placement Services segment provides permanent physician placement services to hospitals, healthcare facilities, and physician practice groups under the Merritt Hawkins and Kendall & Davis brand names. This segment also offers specialty offerings, including internal medicines, family practices, and surgeries. Its Home Healthcare Services segment provide home healthcare services to individuals with acute-care illness, long-term chronic health conditions, permanent disabilities, terminal illnesses, and post-procedural needs. The company was founded in 1985 and is headquartered in S an Diego, California.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Sean Williams]

    What: Shares of AMN Healthcare Services (NYSE: AHS  ) , a health care staffing solutions company, jumped as much as 11% after reporting its third-quarter earnings results.

  • [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 AMN Healthcare Services (NYSE: AHS  ) , whose recent revenue and earnings are plotted below.

Top Companies For 2014: Fortis Inc (FRTSF.PK)

Fortis Inc. (Fortis) is an investor-owned gas and electric distribution utility in Canada. Its regulated utilities account for 90 % of total assets and serve customers across Canada and in New York State and the Caribbean. Fortis owns non-regulated hydroelectric generation assets in Canada, Belize and Upstate New York. The Company’s non-utility investments are comprised of hotels and commercial real estate in Canada and petroleum supply operations in the Mid-Atlantic Region of the United States. Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Markus Aarnio]

    Emera’s competitors include Northland Power (NPIFF.PK), Fortis (FRTSF.PK), and Atlantic Power (AT). Northland Power has seen insider buying in August and has a dividend yield of 7.6%. Fortis has seen both insider buying and insider selling in August. Fortis has a dividend yield of 4.1%. Atlantic Power saw insider buying last time in April. Atlantic Power has a dividend yield of 9.4%.

Top Companies For 2014: WEX Inc (WEX)

WEX Inc., formerly Wright Express Corporation, incorporated on June 18, 1999, is a provider of corporate card payment solutions. The Company operates in two segments: Fleet Payment Solutions and Other Payment Solutions. The Fleet Payment Solutions segment provides customers with fleet vehicle payment processing services specifically designed for the needs of commercial and government fleets. The Other Payment Solutions segment provides customers with payment processing solutions for their corporate purchasing and transaction monitoring needs through the Company’s payment products. The Company’s United States operations include WEX Inc., and the Company’s wholly owned subsidiaries Fleet One, WEX Bank, rapid! PayCard, and Pacific Pride. On October 4, 2012, the Company acquired Fleet One. On August 30, 2012, the Company acquired a 51 % controlling interest in UNIK S.A. On May 11, 2012, the Company acquired CorporatePay Limited.

The Company’s virtual card is used for transactions where no card is presented, including, for example, transactions conducted over the telephone, by mail, by fax or on the Internet. The Company’s virtual card also can be used for transactions that require pre-authorization, such as hotel reservations. The rapid! PayCard product, a pre-paid payroll card, provides a paycard benefit and ePayroll program designed for employers choosing to convert to electronic delivery of payroll in the United States, replacing paper employee payroll checks. The Company also has several other product offerings, including corporate purchase cards and pre-paid and gift cards.

Fleet Payment Solutions

The Company’s closed-loop fuel networks afford the Company access to a higher level of fleet-specific information and control than is widely available on open-loop networks. This allows the Company to improve and refine the information reporting the Company provides to its fleet customers and strategic relatio nships. The Company offers a differentiated set of products ! and services, including security and purchases controls, to allow its customers and the customers of its strategic relationships to better manage their vehicle fleets. The Company provides customized analysis and reporting on the efficiency of fleet vehicles and the purchasing behavior of fleet vehicle drivers. The Company’s software facilitates the collection of information and affords the Company a high level of control and flexibility in allowing fleets to restrict purchases and receive automated alerts.

Other Payment Solutions

The Company’s virtual products offer corporate customers enhanced security and control for payment needs. The Company’s strategic relationships include three of the United States based online travel agencies. The Company’s operations in the United Kingdom provide corporate prepaid solutions to the travel industry. In addition, the Company offers virtual products in the insurance/warranty and healthcare markets in the Unite d States. The Company offers paycard products in the United States and Brazil. These products include payroll cards which are used to replace paper payroll checks.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Seth Jayson]

    WEX (NYSE: WEX  ) reported earnings on May 1. Here are the numbers you need to know.

    The 10-second takeaway
    For the quarter ended March 31 (Q1), WEX met expectations on revenues and beat slightly on earnings per share.

  • [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 WEX (NYSE: WEX  ) , whose recent revenue and earnings are plotted below.

Top Companies For 2014: Stock Building Supply Holdings Inc (STCK)

Stock Building Supply Holdings, Inc., incorporated on April 16, 2009, is a diversified lumber and building materials (LBM) distributor and solutions provider that sells to new construction and repair and remodel contractors. The Company’s primary products are lumber & lumber sheet goods, millwork, doors, flooring, windows, structural components, such as engineered wood products (EWP), trusses, wall panels and other exterior products. The Company serves a customer base, including large-scale production homebuilders, custom homebuilders and repair and remodeling contractors. In addition, the Company provides solution-based services to its customers, including design, product specification and installation management services. The Company’s primary operating regions include the South and West regions of the United States.

The Company provides a balanced mix of products and services to the United States production and custom homebuilders and repair and remode l, multi-family and commercial contractors. The Company offer over 39,000 products sourced through its strategic network of suppliers, which together with its various solution-based services; represent approximately 50% of the construction cost of a new home.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Monica Gerson]

    Stock Building Supply Holdings (NASDAQ: STCK) dipped 1.53% to $19.95 in the pre-market session after the company prices 5.6 million shares at $19.50 per share by selling shareholders.

Top Companies For 2014: Eastern Insurance Holdings Inc.(EIHI)

Eastern Insurance Holdings, Inc., through its subsidiaries, provides workers compensation insurance and reinsurance products in the United States. The company?s Workers Compensation Insurance segment provides traditional workers compensation insurance coverage products, including guaranteed cost policies, policyholder dividend policies, retrospectively-rated policies, deductible policies, and alternative market products to employers. This segment distributes its workers? compensation products and services through its independent insurance agents primarily in Pennsylvania, Delaware, North Carolina, Maryland, Indiana, and Virginia. Its Segregated Portfolio Cell Reinsurance segment offers alternative market workers compensation solutions comprising program design, fronting, claims administration, risk management, segregated portfolio cell rental, asset management, and segregated portfolio management services to individual companies, groups, and associations. Eastern Insurance Holdings, Inc. is headquartered in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Lauren Pollock]

    ProAssurance Corp.(PRA) agreed to acquire Eastern Insurance Holdings Inc.(EIHI) for about $205 million, expanding the insurance company’s casualty insurance offerings. Eastern Insurance is a domestic casualty insurance group specializing in workers’ compensation products and services, among other things. ProAssurance plans to pay $24.50 in cash for each outstanding Eastern share, a 16% premium over Monday’s closing price.

Top Companies For 2014: First Trust Specialty Finance and Financial Opportunities Fund (FGB)

First Trust Speciality Finance and Financial Opportunities Fund, formerly First Trust/Gallatin Specialty Finance and Financial Opportunities Fund, is a non-diversified, closed-end fund that seeks a high level of current income. The Fund’s secondary objective is to seek total return. The Fund will seek to achieve its investment objectives by investing at least 80% of its managed assets in a portfolio of securities of specialty finance and other financial companies that offer opportunities for income and capital appreciation. The Fund will invest at least 25% of its total assets in securities of companies within industries in the financial sector. First Trust Advisors L.P. (First Trust Advisors) is the Fund’s investment adviser.

Specialty finance companies provide capital or financing to businesses and consumers within specified market segments. Specialty finance companies often engage in asset-based and other forms of non-traditional financing activities. Th e Fund intends to invest primarily in business development company’s (BDC) shares, which are trading in the secondary market on a United States securities exchange but may, in certain circumstances, invest in an initial public offering of BDC shares or invest in certain debt instruments issued by BDCs. The Fund is not limited with respect to the specific types of real estate investment trusts (REITs), in which it invests and intends to invest primarily in REIT shares, which are trading in the secondary market on a United States securities exchange but may, in certain circumstances, invest in an initial public offering of REIT shares or invest in certain debt instruments issued by REITs.

The Fund may invest in commercial mortgage-related securities issued by corporations. These are securities that represent an interest in, or are secured by, mortgage loans secured by commercial property, such as industrial and warehouse properties, office buildings, retail spa ce and shopping malls, multi-family properties and cooperati! ve apartments, hotels and motels, nursing homes, hospitals, and senior living centers. Other mortgage-related securities, in which the Fund may invest include mortgage pass-through securities, collateralized mortgage obligations (CMOs), mortgage dollar rolls, CMO residuals (other than residual interests in real estate mortgage investment conduits), stripped mortgage-backed securities (SMBSs) and other securities that directly or indirectly represent a participation in, or are secured by and payable from, mortgage loans on real property. The Fund may invest in other types of asset-backed securities that are offered in the marketplace. Other asset-backed securities may be collateralized by the fees earned by service providers.

The principal industry groups of financial companies include banks, savings institutions, brokerage firms, investment management companies, insurance companies, holding companies of the foregoing, and companies that provide related services to such companies. Banks and savings institutions provide services to customers such as demand, savings and time deposit accounts and a variety of lending and related services. Brokerage firms provide services to customers in connection with the purchase and sale of securities.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Shaji Mathew]

    JPMorgan also raised the price estimate of First Gulf Bank, (FGB) its top pick among banks in the Middle East and North Africa, to 18 dirhams from 13.50 dirhams. The overweight recommendation was maintained. The stock has risen 25 percent this year to 14.55 dirhams last week.

Top Companies For 2014: Gramercy Property Trust Inc (GPT)

Gramercy Property Trust Inc., formerly Gramercy Capital Corp., incorporated on April 1, 2004, is an integrated, self-managed real estate investment and asset management company. The Company’s principal business is to acquire and manage industrial and office properties, net leased to tenants in major markets throughout the United States. The Company owns, directly or in joint venture, a portfolio of 112 buildings totaling approximately 4.2 million square feet of office and 1.5 million square feet of industrial, net leased on a long-term basis to tenants, including Bank of America, Nestle Waters, Philips Electronics and others. In September 2013, it closed on five new acquisitions. In October 2013, it acquired an approximately 220,000 square foot food-grade cold storage and distribution facility located in Yuma, Arizona. In October 2013, the Company acquired approximately 120,350 square foot industrial facility in Austin, Texas. In November 2013, the Company announced the acquisition of six new properties.

In June 2013, the Company announced that it has closed on the acquisition of a build-to-suit of an approximately 120,0000 square foot industrial facility located in Hialeah, Gardens, Florida in the Miami Metropolitan Statistical Area. In July 2013, Gramercy Property Trust Inc closed on four acquisitions; a wholesale automotive auction facility in Dallas, Texas, an industrial cold storage facility in Southern New Jersey and two cross-dock truck terminals located in Houston, Texas and Orlando, Florida.

The Company’s property management business, operating under the name Gramercy Asset Management, manages for third-parties commercial properties leased primarily to regulated financial institutions and affiliated users throughout the United States. The Company is actively acquiring industrial and office assets leased to companies in a variety of industries. The Company will primarily acquire long-term leased assets, bu t will acquire shorter leases with risk adjusted returns.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Chris DeMuth Jr.]

    This article is intended to update our readers on the progress on Gramercy Property Trust (GPT) through 2Q 2013. For background you may want to go back and read our previous articles. In this particular article, I will focus on 4 particular points: