Top Financial Companies To Own For 2014

Every investor would love to stumble upon the perfect stock. But will you ever really find a stock that provides everything you could possibly want?

One thing’s for sure: You’ll never discover truly great investments unless you actively look for them. Let’s discuss the ideal qualities of a perfect stock, then decide if Waste Management (NYSE: WM  ) fits the bill.

The quest for perfection
Stocks that look great based on one factor may prove horrible elsewhere, making due diligence a crucial part of your investing research. The best stocks excel in many different areas, including these important factors:

Growth. Expanding businesses show healthy revenue growth. While past growth is no guarantee that revenue will keep rising, it’s certainly a better sign than a stagnant top line. Margins. Higher sales mean nothing if a company can’t produce profits from them. Strong margins ensure that company can turn revenue into profit. Balance sheet. At debt-laden companies, banks and bondholders compete with shareholders for management’s attention. Companies with strong balance sheets don’t have to worry about the distraction of debt. Money-making opportunities. Return on equity helps measure how well a company is finding opportunities to turn its resources into profitable business endeavors. Valuation. You can’t afford to pay too much for even the best companies. By using normalized figures, you can see how a stock’s simple earnings multiple fits into a longer-term context. Dividends. For tangible proof of profits, a check to shareholders every three months can’t be beat. Companies with solid dividends and strong commitments to increasing payouts treat shareholders well.

With those factors in mind, let’s take a closer look at Waste Management.

Top Financial Companies To Own For 2014: Eaton Vance Tax-Advantaged Global Dividend Opportunities Fund (ETO)

Eaton Vance Tax-Advantaged Global Dividend Opportunities Fund (the Fund) is a closed-end management investment company. The Fund’s investment objective is to provide a high level of after-tax total return. The Fund pursues its objective by investing primarily in dividend-paying common and preferred stocks.

The Fund’s top 10 equity holdings include Freeport-McMoran Copper, Veolia Environment, Southern Copper Corp., Societe Generale, Chevron Corp., Occidental Petroleum Corp., Exelon Corp., Total SA Spon ADR, Entergy Corp. and Suncor Energy Inc. Top 10 equity holdings represented 25.3% of total investments as of April 30, 2007.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By GURUFOCUS]

    Special Purpose Funds- Eaton Vance Tax-Adv. Global Dividend Oppor. Fund (ETO) | Yield: 7.3%
    – The Gabelli Global Utility & Income Trust (GLU) | Yield: 6.2%
    – Pimco Global Stocksplus Income Fund (PGP) | Yield: 9.5%
    – LMP Real Estate Income Fund Inc. (RIT) | Yield: 7.0%

Top Financial Companies To Own For 2014: MFS Special Value Trust (MFV)

MFS Special Value Trust (the fund) is a closed-end fund and maintains a portfolio that includes investments in fixed income and equity securities. During the fiscal year ended October 31, 2007, the MFS Special Value Trust provided a total return of 5.11%, at net asset value. The fund’s investment objective is to seek high current income, but may also consider capital appreciation.

MFS Special Value Trust normally invests the fund’s assets primarily in debt instruments. MFS Special Value Trust normally invests the fund’s assets in United States Government securities, foreign government securities, mortgage backed and other asset-backed securities of United States and foreign issuers, corporate bonds of United States and foreign issuers, debt instruments of issuers located in emerging market countries, and equity securities. MFS Special Value Trust’s investment advisor is Massachusetts Financial Services Company.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Dividends4Life]

    According to a Gabelli Funds report, managed distribution policies offer several advantages, including:1. Lower difference between the fund’s market price and its NAV per share.2. Provides support during periods when the stock market is in a decline.3. Provides a measurable performance target for the investment adviser.Below are several high-yield funds from CEFA that have a managed distribution policy (yields as of December 16):Aberdeen Australia Eqty (IAF)- Distribution Yield: 10.4%- Income Yield: 346%Bexil Advisers LLC  (DNI)- Distribution Yield: 11.1%- Income Yield: 3.56%BlackRock En Capital&Inc (CII)- Distribution Yield: 8.78%- Income Yield: 2.34%Cornerstone Strat Value (CLM)- Distribution Yield: 18.77%- Income Yield: 1.83%Cornerstone Total Return (CRF)- Distribution Yield: 19.10%- Income Yield: 0.85%Delaware Inv Div & Inc (DDF)- Distribution Yield: 6.70%- Income Yield: 5.26%Gabelli Equity Trust (GAB)- Distribution Yield: 7.58%- Income Yield: 1.54%Gabelli Utility Trust (GUT)- Distribution Yield: 9.45%- Income Yield: 2.84%MFS Special Value Trust (MFV)- Distribution Yield: 9.60%- Income Yield: 5.73%Nuveen Tx-Adv TR Strat (JTA)- Distribution Yield: 6.70%- Income Yield: 3.12%TCW Strategic Income (TSI)- Distribution Yield: 10.54%- Income Yield: 7.88%Zweig Total Return (ZTR)- Distribution Yield: 7.27%- Income Yield: 1.95%As noted in the Gabelli report, a managed distribution policy may create confusion regarding the true current yield since the reported yield includes the return of capital portion. You can see the disparity above between the income yield and the distribution (reported) yield.If you are looking for a sustainable and growing dividend, you may want to consider some blue-chip dividend stocks such as these with a Free Cash Flow Payout less than 50%, 50+ years of consecutive dividend increases and a 2%+ yield:3M Co. (MMM) is a diversified global company provides enhanced product functionality in electronics, health care, industrial, consumer

Top Financial Companies To Own For 2014: Calwest Bancorp (CALW)

CalWest Bancorp owns South County Bank, National Association. The Company is the holding company for South County Bank N.A. South County Bank operates in four divisions: business solutions, professional division, personal services and online banking. Business solutions are engaged in deposit services, cash management solutions and loan services. Professional division is engaged in physicians, dentists, veterinarians, attorneys and certified public accountants. Personal services include deposit services and loan services. Online banking includes personal login, cash management login, cash management demos and user resources.

Business solutions

Deposit services include analysis checking, unlimited checking, interest checking, money market savings, sweep accounts, zero balance accounting, payroll services and merchant card processing. Cash management services include eCorp online banking, remote deposit, electronic payments, positive pay, mobile ban king, cash vault and armored transport. Its loan services include business lines of credit, commercial term loans, commercial real estate loans, equipment loans, SBA financing, construction loans and accounts receivable financing.

Professional division

Veterinarians provide deposit services, cash management services and lending services. Attorneys and certified public accountants also include deposit services, cash management services and lending services

Personal services

Deposit services include online banking, checking, saving, money market, certified deposit and retirement accounts. Its loan services include overdraft protection, home equity lines and vehicle financing.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By CRWE]

    Today, CALW remains (0.00%) +0.000 at $.370 thus far (ref. google finance 10:58AM EDT July 24, 2013).

    CalWest Bancorp previously reported the consolidated financial results for the six months ended June 30, 2013. Significant items for the period ending June 30, 2013 include:

    Quarterly net income of $50,000, compared to the previous quarter profit of $12,000;
    No additional loan loss provision required; resulting in the allowance for loan loss (ALL) ratio decreasing slightly from 6.20% to 5.95%;
    Total assets were flat at $144 million, with new business offsetting run-off;
    Non-performing loans reduced significantly in 2013 by 41% quarter-over-quarter; and are down $1.9 million from a year ago;
    Non-interest bearing deposits maintained at 35% of total deposits, helping reduce the Bank’s cost-of-deposits to 0.40% from 0.48% a year ago;
    The increase in Net Interest Income offset the reduction in Non-Interest Income as increased focus is placed on core earnings;
    Non-interest expenses continue to improve, decreasing 2% quarter-over-quartee

Top Financial Companies To Own For 2014: Tower Group Inc.(TWGP)

Tower Group, Inc., through its subsidiaries, provides commercial, specialty, and personal property and casualty insurance products and services to businesses in various industries and to individuals in the United States. The company offers commercial multiple-peril packages that comprise property, liability, business interruption, equipment breakdown, fidelity, and inland marine coverages; workers? compensation policies; commercial and personal automobile policies; personal packages; and mono-line commercial general liability and commercial umbrella policies for individuals and business owners. It also writes commercial fire and allied lines policies for the protection of commercial buildings; and inland marine insurance protection for the property of businesses that is not at a fixed location and for items of personal property that are easily transportable, including builders risk, contractors? equipment and installation, domestic transit and transportation, fine arts, pr operty floaters, and leased property. In addition, the company provides homeowners and personal dwellings policies, which offer property and liability coverages for one and two-family, and owner-occupied residences; and additional coverage to the homeowner for personal umbrella and personal inland marine. Further, it offers various services, such as underwriting, claims administration, operational and technology services for other insurance companies. The company markets its products and services through its independent retail, wholesale, and program underwriting agents. Tower Group, Inc. was founded in 1989 and is headquartered in New York, New York.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Mark Hulbert]

    The stocks are C.H. Robinson Worldwide (CHRW)  , a freight-transportation company; chip maker Cirrus Logic (CRUS)  ; independent oil company Forest Oil (FST)  ; investment bank Greenhill & Co. (GHL)  ; Intrepid Potash (IPI)  , a fertilizer company; retailer J.C. Penney (JCP)  ; Quest Diagnostics (DGX)  , a medical diagnostic company; Strayer Education (STRA)  , a for-profit college; Tower Group International (TWGP)  , an insurance company; and Windstream Holdings (WIN)  , a rural telecommunications firm.

  • [By Lauren Pollock]

    Tower Group International Ltd.(TWGP), which is struggling due to a soured acquisition, Friday reported its second-quarter financial results after previously postponing the release twice before. Tower Group said its loss widened in the quarter on $578 million in charges to strengthen its loss reserves and a balance sheet writedown.

  • [By Dan Caplinger]

    Bullish economic news helped the Dow finally hold onto the 16,000 level at the end of the day, even after three previous forays had failed to result in a close above that figure. Even amid the general enthusiasm over stocks as the year draws to a close, GameStop (NYSE: GME  ) , American Railcar Industries (NASDAQ: ARII  ) , and Tower Group International (NASDAQ: TWGP  ) all fell sharply. Let’s figure out why these stocks dropped so badly and what their moves could mean for the broader market.

Top Financial Companies To Own For 2014: ASB Bancorp Inc (ASBB)

ASB Bancorp, Inc. (ASB Bancorp), incorporated in May 2011, focuses to become the holding company for Asheville Savings Bank, S.S.B. (Asheville Savings Bank). ASB Bancorp, Inc.’s business activity will be the ownership of the Asheville Savings Bank. Asheville Savings Bank is a chartered savings bank. It operates as a community-oriented financial institution offering traditional financial services to consumers and businesses in its market area. It attracts deposits from the general public and use those funds to originate one-to four-family residential mortgage loans and commercial real estate loans, and home equity loans and lines of credit, consumer loans, construction and land development loans, and commercial and industrial loans. It conducts its lending and deposit activities with individuals and small businesses in its primary market area. Its market area is Asheville, North Carolina and the rest of Buncombe County where it has eight branch offices, as well as Henders on, Madison, McDowell and Transylvania Counties where it has five branch offices.

Lending Activities

Asheville Savings Bank loan portfolio include real estate mortgage loans, including one- to four-family residential mortgage loans and commercial mortgage loans, and revolving mortgage loans, which consist of home equity loans and lines of credit, consumer loans, construction and land development loans, and commercial and industrial loans. As of March 31, 2011, it had $177.8 million in one- to four-family residential loans, which represented 36.7% of its total loan portfolio. Its origination of residential mortgage loans enables borrowers to purchase or refinance existing homes located in its primary market area. It offers a mix of adjustable rate mortgage loans and fixed-rate mortgage loans with terms of up to 30 years.

Asheville Savings Bank offers fixed- and adjustable-rate mortgage loans secured by non-residential real estate and mu lti-family properties. As of March 31, 2011, commercial mort! gage loans totaled $162.7 million, or 33.5% of its total loan portfolio. Its commercial mortgage loans are secured by commercial, industrial and manufacturing, small to moderately-sized office and retail properties, hotels, multi-family properties and hospitals and churches located in its primary market area. As of March 31, 2011, $35.6 million or 21.9% of its commercial real estate loans were secured by owner-occupied properties. It originates fixed-rate and adjustable-rate commercial mortgage loans, generally with terms of three to five years and payments based on an amortization schedule of up to 25 years. It has originated construction and land development loans for commercial properties, such as retail shops and office units, and multi-family properties, and construction and land development loans for one-to four-family homes. As of March 31, 2011, commercial construction and land development loans totaled $27.8 million, which represented 5.7% of its total loan portfoli o, and residential construction and land development loans totaled $7.9 million, which represented 1.6% of its total loan portfolio. As of March 31, 2011, it had speculative residential construction loans of $3.1 million and speculative commercial construction loans of $9.6 million.

Asheville Savings Bank offers revolving mortgage loans, which consist of home equity loans and lines of credit, and various consumer loans, including automobile loans and loans secured by deposits. As of March 31, 2011, revolving mortgage loans totaled $52 million, or 10.7% of its total loan portfolio, and consumer loans totaled $41.1 million, or 8.5% of its total loan portfolio. Its revolving mortgage loans consist of both home equity loans with fixed-rate amortizing term loans with terms of up to 15 years and adjustable rate lines of credit with interest rates indexed to the prime rate.

Asheville Savings Bank offers commercial and industrial loans to small businesses located in its primary market area. As of March 31, 2011, co! mmercial ! and industrial loans totaled $15.8 million, which represented 3.2% of its total loan portfolio. Its commercial and industrial loan portfolio consists of loans, which are secured by equipment, accounts receivable and inventory, but also includes a smaller amount of unsecured loans for purposes of financing expansion or providing working capital for general business purposes.

Investment Activities

As of March 31, 2011, Asheville Savings Bank’s investment portfolio consisted of the United States government and agency securities, mortgage-backed securities and securities issued by government sponsored enterprises, and municipal securities. As of March 31, 2011, its securities portfolio represented 27.2% of total assets. As of March 31, 2011, $198.6 million of its securities portfolio was classified as available for sale and $5.7 million of its securities portfolio was classified as held to maturity. Securities classified as held to maturity are United States government sponsored securities, mortgage-backed securities and state and local government securities. As of March 31, 2011, it had four million dollars of other investments, at cost, which consisted of Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta.

Sources of Funds

Deposits, borrowings and loan repayments are the sources of Asheville Savings Bank funds for lending and other investment purposes. It uses advances from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta to supplement its investable funds. The Federal Home Loan Bank functions as a central reserve bank providing credit for member financial institutions. Advances are made under several different programs, each having its own interest rate and range of maturities. It also utilizes securities sold under agreements to repurchase and overnight repurchase agreements to supplement its supply of investable funds and to meet deposit withdrawal requirements.

Subsidiaries

Asheville Saving s Bank has two subsidiaries, Appalachian Financial Services,! Inc., wh! ich was formed to engage in investment activities, and Wenoca, Inc., which serves as Asheville Savings Bank’s trustee regarding deeds of trust. Both subsidiaries are organized as North Carolina corporations.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Tim Melvin]

    ASB Bancorp (ASBB) is the holding company for Ashville in western North Carolina. The bank has 13 branches and total assets of around $733 million. Nonperforming assets are just 2.1% of total assets and the bank is massively over-reserved for future losses, with loan reserves at 6 times nonperforming loans. The bank bought back 544,494 shares of common stock at an average price of $16.79 per share in 2013. The board just authorized a new 5% buyback in January 2014. The stock is trading around 80% of book value, so management is buying the shares on the cheap — and that should bode well for shareholders in the future.

Top Financial Companies To Own For 2014: ProShares Short MSCI Emerging Markets (EUM)

ProShares Short MSCI Emerging Markets (the Fund) seeks daily investment results that correspond to the inverse (opposite) of the daily performance of the MSCI Emerging Markets Index. The MSCI Emerging Markets Index adjusts the market capitalization of index constituents for free float and targets for index inclusion 85% of free float-adjusted market capitalization in each industry group in global emerging markets countries. The Fund takes positions in securities and/or financial instruments that, in combination, should have similar daily return characteristics as -100% of the daily return of the MSCI Emerging Markets Index. The MSCI Emerging Markets Index is a price return index. The Fund’s investment advisor is ProShare Advisors LLC. Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Anthony Mirhaydari]

    Editor’s note: This column is part of our Best Stocks for 2014 contest. Anthony Mirhaydari’s pick for the contest is the ProShares Short MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (EUM).