Top Financial Companies To Own In Right Now

Every one of the major tech companies has taken steps to upgrade messaging. Microsoft has combined MSN Messenger with Skype, for example. Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) has iMessage. Google (NASDAQ: GOOG  ) has upgraded its efforts in a new platform called Hangouts. Start-up MessageMe may best them all anyway.

MessageMe has grown astoundingly in the two months since launch. According to TechCrunch, the service now has 5 million iOS and Android users while usage has tripled. And not just text messages — MessageMe sets itself apart by allowing users to swap video, voice, and text messages as well as music, location data, and doodles, says Tim Beyers of Motley Fool Rule Breakers and Motley Fool Supernova in the following video.

Users appear to appreciate the variety, and that’s a problem for the incumbents. Google took years to upgrade its messaging system. Apple’s Messages isn’t much better. Don’t be surprised if these two start a bidding war for the platform, especially if MessageMe offers a premium app that supports money transfers, Tim says.

Top Financial Companies To Own In Right Now: Community Bank System Inc (CBU)

Community Bank System, Inc., incorporated on April 15, 1983, which wholly owns five subsidiaries: Community Bank, N.A. (the Bank), Benefit Plans Administrative Services, Inc. (BPAS), CFSI Closeout Corp. (CFSICC), First of Jermyn Realty Company, Inc. (FJRC) and Town & Country Agency LLC (T&C). The Bank operates as a community bank providing a range of banking and financial services to retail, commercial, and municipal customers. As of December 31, 2012, the Bank operates 179 full-service branches throughout 35 counties of Upstate New York, where it operates as Community Bank, N.A. and five counties of Northeastern Pennsylvania, where it is known as First Liberty Bank & Trust, offering a range of commercial and retail banking services. BPAS provides administration, consulting and actuarial services to sponsors of employee benefit plans. In December 2013, the Company announced that it has acquired eight branch-banking locations across its Northeast Pennsylvania markets from B ank of America, N.A.Five of the branches are located in Luzerne County, one is located in Lackawanna County and two are located in Carbon County.

On July 20, 2012, the Bank completed its acquisition of 16 retail branches in Central, Northern and Western New York from HSBC Bank USA, N.A. (HSBC), acquiring approximately $106 million in loans and $697 million of deposits. On September 7, 2012, it completed its acquisition of three branches in Western New York from First Niagara Bank, N.A. (First Niagara), acquiring approximately $54 million of loans and $101 million of deposits.

Lending Activities

As of December 31, 2012, the Bank’s loan portfolio included consumer mortgage loans, business lending, Consumer indirect, Consumer direct and Home equity. Consumer indirect and direct loans consist of personal loans originated both in the branch network and in automobile, marine and recreational vehicle dealerships. Approximately 68% of loans outstanding as of December 31, 2012, were made to consumers ! borrowing on an installment, line of credit or residential mortgage loan basis. The consumer mortgage portion of the Company’s loan portfolio is comprised of fixed (98%) and adjustable rate (2%) residential lending and includes no exposure to subprime, Alt-A or other higher-risk mortgage products. The combined total of general-purpose business lending, including agricultural-related and dealer floor plans, as well as mortgages on commercial property, is characterized as the Company’s business lending activity.

Investment Activities

As of December 31, 2012, the Bank’s investment securities included held-to-maturity, available-for-sale and Other securities. As of December 31, 2012, its held-to-maturity portfolio included U.S. Treasury and agency securities, Obligations of state and political subdivisions, Government agency mortgage-backed securities, Corporate debt securities and Other securities. Its Other Securities included Federal Home Loan Bank common stock, Federal Reserve Bank common stock and Other equity securities.

Sources of Funds

The Bank utilizes a variety of funding sources to support the earning asset base. Overall funding is comprised of three primary sources that possess a variety of maturity, stability, and price characteristics: deposits of individuals, partnerships and corporations (IPC deposits), municipal deposits that are collateralized for amounts not covered by FDIC insurance (public funds) and external borrowings. The various types of deposits offered by the Bank include Noninterest checking deposits, Interest checking deposits, Regular savings deposits, Money market deposits and Time deposits. Borrowing sources for the Company include the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York (FHLBNY) and Federal Reserve Bank of New York, as well as access to the brokered certificate of deposit (CD) and repurchase markets through relationships with primary market security dealers.

Subsidiary Activities

The Compan! y’s sub! sidiary, BPAS owns three subsidiaries, Benefit Plans Administrative Services LLC (BPA), a provider of defined contribution plan administration services; Harbridge Consulting Group LLC (Harbridge), a provider of actuarial and benefit consulting services, and Hand Benefits & Trust Company (HB&T), a provider of Collective Investment Fund administration and institutional trust services. HB&T owns two subsidiaries, Flex Corp. (Flex), a provider of administration, servicing and marketing of various flexible employee benefit programs and Hand Securities, Inc. (HSI), an introducing broker dealer. The Company also wholly owns two unconsolidated subsidiary business trusts formed for the purpose of issuing mandatorily redeemable preferred securities.

The Bank owns subsidiaries, such as CBNA Insurance Agency, Inc. (CBNA Insurance), CBNA Preferred Funding Corporation (PFC), CBNA Treasury Management Corporation (TMC), Community Investment Services, Inc. (CISI), First Liberty Service Corp. (FLSC), Nottingham Advisors, Inc. (Nottingham), Brilie Corporation (Brilie), and Western Catskill Realty, LLC (WCR). CBNA Insurance is a full-service insurance agency offering primarily property and casualty products. PFC primarily acts as an investor in residential real estate loans. TMC provides cash management, investment, and treasury services to the Bank. CISI provides broker-dealer and investment advisory services. FLSC provides banking-related services to the Pennsylvania branches of the Bank. Nottingham provides asset management services to individuals, corporate pension and profit sharing plans, and foundations. Brilie and WCR are inactive companies.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By GURUFOCUS]

    Community Bank System Inc. (CBU) operates as the bank holding company for Community Bank, N.A. that provides banking and financial services to retail, commercial, and municipal customers. August 21st the company increased its quarterly dividend 3.7% to $0.28 per share. The dividend is payable October 10, 2013 to shareholders of record as of September 16, 2013. The yield based on the new payout is 3.3%.

Top Financial Companies To Own In Right Now: Berkshire Hathaway Inc (BRKA)

Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (Berkshire) is a holding company owning subsidiaries engaged in a number of diverse business activities. The Company is engaged in insurance businesses conducted on both a primary basis and a reinsurance basis. Berkshire also owns and operates a number of other businesses engaged in a variety of activities. On December 30, 2011, Medical Protective Corporation (MedPro) completed the acquisition of 100% of the Princeton Insurance Company, a professional liability insurer for healthcare providers based in Princeton, New Jersey. During the year ended December 31, 2011, Acme Building Brands (Acme) acquired the assets of Jenkins Brick Company, the brick manufacturer in Alabama. In September 2011, Berkshire acquired The Lubrizol Corporation (Lubrizol). In June 2011, the Company acquired Wesco Financial Corporation. In June 2012, Media General, Inc. sold 63 daily and weekly newspapers to World Media Enterprises, Inc., a subsidiary of Berkshire. In July 2012 , Berkshire’s The Lubrizol Corporation acquired Lipotec SA.

Insurance and Reinsurance Businesses

Berkshire’s insurance and reinsurance business activities are conducted through numerous domestic and foreign-based insurance entities. Berkshire’s insurance businesses provide insurance and reinsurance of property and casualty risks world-wide and also reinsure life, accident and health risks world-wide. Berkshire’s insurance underwriting operations are consisted of the sub-groups, including GEICO and its subsidiaries, General Re and its subsidiaries, Berkshire Hathaway Reinsurance Group and Berkshire Hathaway Primary Group. GEICO insurance subsidiaries include Government Employees Insurance Company, GEICO General Insurance Company, GEICO Indemnity Company and GEICO Casualty Company. These companies primarily offers private passenger automobile insurance to individuals in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. In addition, GEICO insures mo torcycles, all-terrain vehicles, recreational vehicles and s! mall commercial fleets and acts as an agent for other insurers who offer homeowners, boat and life insurance to individuals. GEICO markets its policies primarily through direct response methods in which applications for insurance are submitted directly to the companies through the Internet or by telephone.

General Re Corporation (General Re) is the holding company of General Reinsurance Corporation (GRC) and its subsidiaries and affiliates. GRC’s subsidiaries include General Reinsurance AG, a international reinsurer based in Germany. General Re subsidiaries conduct business activities globally in 51 cities and provide insurance and reinsurance coverages throughout the world. General Re provides property/casualty insurance and reinsurance, life/health reinsurance and other reinsurance intermediary and risk management, underwriting management and investment management services.

Property/Casualty Reinsurance

General Re’s property/casu alty reinsurance business in North America is conducted through GRC. Property/casualty operations in North America are also conducted through 16 branch offices in the United States and Canada. Reinsurance activities are marketed directly to clients without involving a broker or intermediary. General Re’s property/casualty business in North America also includes specialty insurers (primarily the General Star and Genesis companies domiciled in Connecticut and Ohio). These specialty insurers underwrite primarily liability and workers’ compensation coverages on an excess and surplus basis and excess insurance for self-insured programs. General Re’s international property/casualty reinsurance business operations are conducted through internationally-based subsidiaries on a direct basis (through General Reinsurance AG, as well as several other General Re subsidiaries in 25 countries) and through brokers (primarily through Faraday, which owns the managing agent of Syndicate 4 35 at Lloyd’s of London and provides capacity and particip! ates in 1! 00% of the results of Syndicate 435).

Life/Health Reinsurance

General Re’s North American and international life, health, long-term care and disability reinsurance coverages are written on an individual and group basis. Most of this business is written on a proportional treaty basis, with the exception of the United States group health and disability business which is predominately written on an excess treaty basis. Lesser amounts of life and disability business are written on a facultative basis. The life/health business is marketed on a direct basis. The Berkshire Hathaway Reinsurance Group (BHRG) operates from offices located in Stamford, Connecticut. Business activities are conducted through a group of subsidiary companies, led by National Indemnity Company (NICO) and Columbia Insurance Company (Columbia). BHRG provides principally excess and quota-share reinsurance to other property and casualty insurers and reinsurers. BHRG’s underwriting activities also include life reinsurance and life annuity business written through Berkshire Hathaway Life Insurance Company of Nebraska and financial guaranty insurance written through Berkshire Hathaway Assurance Corporation.

BHRG writes catastrophe excess-of-loss treaty reinsurance contracts. BHRG also writes individual policies for primarily large or otherwise unusual discrete risks on both an excess direct and facultative reinsurance basis, referred to as individual risk, which includes policies covering terrorism, natural catastrophe and aviation risks. A catastrophe excess policy provides protection to the counterparty from the accumulation of primarily property losses arising from a single loss event or series of related events. Catastrophe and individual risk policies may provide amounts of indemnification per contract and a single loss event may produce losses under a number of contracts. BHRG also underwrites traditional non-catastrophe insurance and reinsurance coverages, referred to as multi-line property/c! asualty b! usiness.

The Berkshire Hathaway Primary Group is a collection of primary insurance operations that provide a variety of insurance coverages to insureds located principally in the United States. NICO and certain affiliates underwrite motor vehicle and general liability insurance to commercial enterprises on both an admitted and excess and surplus basis. This business is written nationwide primarily through insurance agents and brokers and is based in Omaha, Nebraska. U.S. Investment Corporation (USIC), through its three subsidiaries led by United States Liability Insurance Company, is a specialty insurer that underwrites commercial, professional and personal lines of insurance on an admitted and excess and surplus basis. Policies are marketed in all 50 states and the District of Columbia through wholesale and retail insurance agents. USIC companies underwrite and market 109 distinct specialty property and casualty insurance products. Medical Protective Corporatio n (MedPro) is based in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Through its subsidiary, the Medical Protective Company, MedPro is engaged in primary medical professional liability coverage and risk solutions to physicians, dentists, other healthcare providers and healthcare facilities.

Railroad Business

Through BNSF Railway, BNSF operates a railroad network in North America with approximately 32,000 route miles of track (excluding multiple main tracks, yard tracks and sidings) in 28 states and two Canadian provinces as of December 31, 2011. BNSF owns approximately 23,000 route miles, including easements, and operates on approximately 9,000 route miles of trackage rights that permit BNSF to operate its trains with its crews over other railroads’ tracks. As of December 31, 2011, the total BNSF Railway system, including single and multiple main tracks, yard tracks and sidings, consisted of approximately 50,000 operated miles of track, all of which are owned by or held under easement by BNSF except for approximately 10,000 route! miles op! erated under trackage rights.

BNSF is based in Fort Worth, Texas, and through BNSF Railway Company operates railroad systems in North America. In serving the Midwest, Pacific Northwest, Western, Southwestern and Southeastern regions and ports of the country, BNSF transports a range of products and commodities derived from manufacturing, agricultural and natural resource industries. In serving the Midwest, Pacific Northwest, Western, Southwestern and Southeastern regions and ports of the country, BNSF transports a range of products and commodities derived from manufacturing, agricultural and natural resource industries. Over half of the freight revenues of BNSF are covered by contractual agreements of varying durations. BNSF’s primary routes, including trackage rights, allow it to access cities and ports in the western and southern United States as well as parts of Canada and Mexico. In addition to cities and ports, BNSF efficiently serves many smaller market s by working closely with approximately 200 shortline partners. BNSF has also entered into marketing agreements with other rail carriers, expanding the marketing reach for each railroad and their customers.

Utilities and Energy Businesses

MidAmerican’s businesses are managed as separate operating units. MidAmerican’s domestic regulated energy interests are comprised of two regulated utility companies serving more than three million retail customers and two interstate natural gas pipeline companies with approximately 16,600 miles of pipeline and a design capacity of approximately 7.7 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day. Its United Kingdom electricity distribution subsidiaries serve about 3.9 million electricity end-users. In addition, MidAmerican’s interests include a diversified portfolio of domestic independent power projects, a hydroelectric facility in the Philippines and residential real estate brokerage firm in the United States.

PacifiCorp is a regulated electric utility compa! ny headqu! artered in Oregon, serving regulated retail electric customers in portions of Utah, Oregon, Wyoming, Washington, Idaho and California. The combined service territory’s diverse regional economy ranges from rural, agricultural and mining areas to urban, manufacturing and government service centers. As a vertically integrated electric utility, PacifiCorp owns approximately 10,600 net megawatts of generation capacity. MidAmerican Energy Company (MEC) is a regulated electric and natural gas utility company headquartered in Iowa, serving regulated retail electric and natural gas customers primarily in Iowa and also in portions of Illinois, South Dakota and Nebraska. MEC has a diverse customer base consisting of residential, agricultural and a variety of commercial and industrial customer groups. In addition to retail sales and natural gas transportation, MEC sells regulated electricity to markets operated by regional transmission organizations and regulated electricity and natur al gas to other utilities and market participants on a wholesale basis and sells non-regulated electricity and natural gas services in deregulated markets. As a vertically integrated electric and gas utility, MEC owns approximately 7,000 net megawatts of generation capacity.

The natural gas pipelines consist of Northern Natural Gas Company (Northern Natural) and Kern River Gas Transmission Company (Kern River). Northern Natural is based in Nebraska and owns interstate natural gas pipeline systems in the United States reaching from southern Texas to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Northern Natural’s pipeline system consists of approximately 14,900 miles of natural gas pipelines. Northern Natural has access to supplies from mid-continent basin and provides transportation services to utilities and numerous other customers. Northern Natural also operates three underground natural gas storage facilities and two liquefied natural gas storage peaking units.

< p>Kern River is based in Utah and owns an interstate natural! gas pipe! line system that consists of approximately 1,700 miles and extends from the supply areas in the Rocky Mountains to consuming markets in Utah, Nevada and California. Kern River transports natural gas for electric utilities and natural gas distribution utilities, oil and natural gas companies or affiliates of such companies, electricity generating companies, energy marketing and trading companies, and financial institutions. The United Kingdom utilities consist of Northern Powergrid (Northeast) Limited (Northern Powergrid (Northeast)) and Northern Powergrid (Yorkshire) plc (Northern Powergrid (Yorkshire)), which own a substantial United Kingdom electricity distribution network that delivers electricity to end-users in northeast England in an area covering approximately 10,000 square miles. The distribution companies primarily charge supply companies regulated tariffs for the use of electrical infrastructure. MidAmerican also owns HomeServices of America, Inc. (HomeServices), a full-service residential real estate brokerage firm in the United States. HomeServices also offers integrated real estate services, including mortgage originations through a joint venture, title and closing services, property and casualty insurance, home warranties, relocation services and other home-related services. It operates under 22 residential real estate brand names with over 14,000 sales associates and in nearly 300 brokerage offices in 20 states.

Manufacturing, Service and Retailing Businesses

Berkshire’s numerous and diverse manufacturing, service and retailing businesses. Marmon consists of approximately 140 manufacturing and service businesses that operate independently within eleven diverse, stand-alone business sectors. These sectors are Building Wire, Crane Services, Distribution Services, Engineered Wire and Cable, Flow Products, Food Service Equipment, Highway Technologies, Industrial Products, Retail Store Fixtures, Transporta tion Services and Engineered Products and Water Treatment.

!

Building Wire, providing copper electrical building wire for residential, commercial and industrial construction. Crane Services provides the leasing and operation of mobile cranes primarily to the energy, mining and petrochemical markets. Distribution Services, supplying specialty metal pipe and tubing, bar and sheet products to markets including construction, industrial, aerospace and many others. Engineered Wire & Cable, providing electrical and electronic wire and cable for energy related markets and other industries. Flow Products is producing copper tube for the plumbing, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC), refrigeration, and industrial markets. Food Service Equipment is supplying commercial food preparation equipment for restaurants and shopping carts for retail stores. Highway Technologies, primarily serving the heavy-duty highway transportation industry with trailers, fifth wheel coupling devices and undercarriage products such as brake parts and s uspension systems, and also serving the light vehicle aftermarket with clutches and related products.

Industrial Products, consisting of metal fasteners for the building, furniture, cabinetry, industrial and other markets, gloves for industrial markets, portable lighting equipment for mining and safety markets, overhead electrification equipment for mass transit systems, custom-machined brass, aluminum and copper forgings for the construction, valve and other industries, brass fittings and valves for commercial and industrial applications, and drawn aluminum tubing and extruded aluminum shapes for the construction, automotive, appliance, medical and other markets . Retail Store Fixtures, providing shelving and other merchandising displays and related services for retail stores worldwide. Transportation Services & Engineered Products, including manufacturing, leasing and maintenance of railroad tank cars, leasing of intermodal tank containers, in-plant rail serv ices, manufacturing of bi-modal railcar movers, wheel, axle ! and gear ! sets for light rail transit and gear products for locomotives, manufacturing of steel tank heads, and services, equipment and technology for processing and distributing sulfur. Water Treatment, equipment including residential water softening, purification and refrigeration filtration systems, treatment systems for industrial markets including power generation, oil and gas, chemical, and pulp and paper, gear drives for irrigation systems and cooling towers, and air-cooled heat exchangers. Marmon operates approximately 300 manufacturing, distribution and service facilities that are primarily located in North America, Europe and China, and employs more than 16,000 people worldwide.

McLane Company, Inc. (McLane) provides wholesale distribution and logistics services in all 50 states and internationally in Brazil to customers that include discount retailers, convenience stores, wholesale clubs, quick service restaurants, drug stores and military bases. Operations are divided into five business units: grocery distribution, foodservice distribution, beverage distribution, international logistics and software development. McLane’s foodservice distribution unit, based in Carrollton, Texas, focuses on serving the quick service restaurant industry. Operations are conducted through 18 facilities in 16 states. The foodservice distribution unit services more than 20,000 chain restaurants nationwide.

Other Manufacturing, Other Service and Retailing Businesses

Berkshire’s apparel manufacturing businesses include manufacturers of a variety of clothing and footwear. Businesses engaged in the manufacture and distribution of clothing products include Fruit of the Loom, Inc. (Fruit), Russell Brands, LLC (Russell), Vanity Fair Brands, LP (VFB), Garan and Fechheimer Brothers. Berkshire’s footwear businesses include H.H. Brown Shoe Group, Justin Brands and Brooks Athletic. Fruit, Russell and VFB (together FOL) is primaril y a vertically integrated manufacturer and distributor of ba! sic appar! el, underwear and athletic apparel and products. Products, under the Fruit of the Loomand JERZEES labels are primarily sold in the mass merchandise and wholesale markets. In the VFB product line, Vassarette, Bestformand Curvationare sold in the mass merchandise market, while Vanity Fairand Lily of Franceproducts are sold in the mid-tier chains and department stores. FOL also markets and sells athletic uniforms, apparel, sports equipment and balls to team dealers; college licensed tee shirts and fleecewear to college bookstores and mid-tier merchants; and athletic apparel, sports equipment and balls to sporting goods retailers under the Russell Athleticand Spaldingbrands. Additionally, Spaldingmarkets and sells balls in the mass merchandise market and dollar store channel. During the year ended December, 31, 2011, approximately 30% of FOL’s sales were to Wal-Mart. FOL generally performs its own spinning, knitting, cloth finishing, cutting, sewing and packaging.

< p>Garan designs, manufactures, imports and sells apparel primarily for children, including boys, girls, toddlers and infants. Products are sold under its own trademark Garanimalsand private labels of its customers. Garan also licenses its registered trademark Garanimalsto independent third parties. Garan conducts its business through operating subsidiaries located in the United States, Central America and Asia. Substantially all of Garan’s products are sold through its distribution centers in the United States to national chain stores, department stores and specialty stores. In 2011, over 90% of Garan’s sales were to Wal-Mart. Fechheimer Brothers manufactures, distributes and sells uniforms, principally for the public service and safety markets, including police, fire, postal and military markets. Fechheimer Brothers is based in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Justin Brands and H.H. Brown Shoe Group manufacture and distribute work, rugged outdoor and casual shoes and wes tern-style footwear under a number of brand names, including! Justin, ! Tony Lama, Nocona, Chippewas, Born, Sofft, Carolina, Double-H Boots, Corcoran, Matterhornand Kork-Ease. Brooks Athletic markets and sells running footwear to specialty retailers under Brooksbrand. In 2011, Brooksachieved #1 market share in footwear with specialty retailers. A volume of the shoes sold by Berkshire’s shoe businesses are manufactured or purchased from sources outside the United States. Products are principally sold in the United States through a variety of channels including department stores, footwear chains, specialty stores, catalogs and the Internet, as well as through Company-owned retail stores.

Acme manufactures and distributes clay bricks (Acme Brickand Jenkins Brick), concrete block (Featherlite) and cut limestone (Texas Quarries). In addition, Acme distributes a number of other building products of other manufacturers, including glass block, floor and wall tile and other masonry products. Acme also sells ceramic floor and wall tile, as well as marble, granite and other stones through its subsidiary, American Tile and Stone. Products are sold primarily in the South Central and South Eastern United States through Company-operated sales offices. Acme distributes products primarily to homebuilders and masonry and general contractors.

Benjamin Moore & Co. (Benjamin Moore) is a formulator, manufacturer and retailer of a range of architectural coatings, available principally in the United States and Canada. Products include water-thinnable and solvent-thinnable general purpose coatings (paints, stains and clear finishes) for use by the general public, contractors and industrial and commercial users. Products are marketed under various registered brand names, including Regal, Superspec, Moorcraft, Moorgard, Aura, Nattura, ben, Coronado Paint, Insl-xand Lenmar.

Benjamin Moore and its manufacturing subsidiaries rely primarily on an independent dealer network for the distribution of its p roducts. Its distribution network includes approximately 100! Company-! owned stores as well as over 4,500 third party retailers representing over 10,300 storefronts in the United States and Canada. Benjamin Moore’s Company-owned stores represent several multiple-outlet and stand-alone retailers in various parts of the United States and Canada serving primarily contractors and general consumers. The independent retailer channel offers an array of products including Benjamin Mooreand Insl-xbrands and other competitor coatings, wallcoverings, window treatments and sundries. Benjamin Moore also has three color stations located in regional malls that serve as brand marketing tools. In addition to the independent retailer channel, Benjamin Moore has recently begun to sell direct to the consumer through e-commerce sites and its customer care program, which includes national accounts and government agencies.

Johns Manville (JM) is a manufacturer and marketer of products for building insulation, mechanical insulation, commercial roofing and roof insulation, as well as fibers and nonwovens for commercial, industrial and residential applications. JM serves markets that include aerospace, automotive and transportation, air handling, appliance, HVAC, pipe and equipment filtration, waterproofing, building, flooring, interiors and wind energy. Fiber glass is the basic material in a majority of JM’s products, although JM also manufactures a portion of its products with other materials to satisfy the broader needs of its customers. JM regards its patents and licenses as valuable, however it does not consider any of its businesses to be materially dependent on any single patent or license. JM is headquartered in Denver, Colorado, and operates 40 manufacturing facilities in North America, Europe and China and conducts research and development at several other facilities. JM sells its products through a variety of channels, including contractors, distributors, retailers, manufacturers and fabricators.

MiTek is a provider of engineered connector products, engine! ering sof! tware and services and computer-driven manufacturing machinery to the truss fabrication segment of the building components industry. Primary customers are truss fabricators who manufacture pre-fabricated roof and floor trusses and wall panels for the residential building market, as well as the light commercial and institutional construction industry. MiTek also participates in the light gauge steel framing market under the Ultra-Spanname, manufactures and markets assembly line machinery used by the lead acid battery industry, manufactures and markets a line of masonry connector products and manufactures and markets air handling systems used in commercial building. MiTek operates on six continents with sales into approximately 90 countries. MiTek has 34 manufacturing facilities located in eleven countries and 45 sales/engineering offices located in 17 countries.

The Shaw Industries Group, Inc. (Shaw) is a carpet manufacturer based on both revenue and volume of p roduction. Shaw designs and manufactures over 3,000 styles of tufted carpet, tufted and woven rugs, laminate and wood flooring for residential and commercial use under about 30 brand and trade names and under certain private labels. Shaw also provides installation services and sells ceramic and vinyl tile along with sheet vinyl. Shaw’s manufacturing operations are fully integrated from the processing of raw materials used to make fiber through the finishing of carpet. Shaw’s carpet, rugs and hard surface products are sold in a broad range of prices, patterns, colors and textures.

Shaw products are sold wholesale to over 40,000 retailers, distributors and commercial users throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico and are also exported to various overseas markets. Shaw’s wholesale products are marketed domestically by over 2,000 salaried and commissioned sales personnel directly to retailers and distributors and to national accounts. Shaw’s 10 carpet full-service distribution facilities, three hard surface an! d two rug! full-service distribution facilities and 24 redistribution centers, along with centralized management information systems, enable it to provide prompt efficient delivery of its products to both its retail customers and wholesale distributors.

Berkshire acquired an 80% interest in IMC International Metalworking Companies B.V. (IMC B.V.). Through its subsidiaries, IMC B.V. is a multinational manufacturers of consumable precision carbide metal cutting tools for applications in a range of industrial end markets under the brand names ISCAR, TaeguTec, Ingersoll, Tungaloy, Unitac, UOP It.te.diand Outiltec. IMC B.V.’s manufacturing facilities are located in Israel, United States, Germany, Italy, France, Switzerland, South Korea, China, India, Japan and Brazil. IMC B.V. has five primary product lines: milling tools, gripping tools, turning/thread tools, drilling tools and tooling. Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is a manufacturer of recreational vehicles, utility, cargo and office trailers, buses and pontoon boats, headquartered in Elkhart, Indiana. Its products are sold in the United States and Canada through an independent dealer network.

Scott Fetzer companies are a diversified group of 20 businesses that manufacture and distribute a variety of products for residential, industrial and institutional use. The two of these businesses are Kirby home cleaning systems and Campbell Hausfeld products. Albecca Inc. (Albecca), headquartered in Norcross, Georgia, does business primarily under the Larson-Juhlname. Albecca designs, manufactures and distributes a complete line of branded custom framing products, including wood and metal moulding, matboard, foamboard, glass, equipment and other framing supplies in the United States, Canada and 15 countries outside of North America. CTB International Corp. is a designer, manufacturer and marketer of systems used in the grain industry and in the production of poultry, hogs and eggs.

Lubrizol is a specialty chemical company that pro! duces and! supplies technologies for the global transportation, industrial and consumer markets. Lubrizol operates two business sectors: Lubrizol Additives, which includes engine, driveline and industrial additive products and Lubrizol Advanced Materials, which includes personal and home care, engineered polymer and performance coating products. FlightSafety International Inc.(FlightSafety) is engaged primarily in the business of providing high technology training to operators of aircraft. FlightSafety’s training activities include advanced training for pilots of business and commercial aircraft; aircrew training for military and other government personnel; aircraft maintenance technician training; flight attendant and aircraft dispatcher training, and ab-initio (primary) pilot training to qualify individuals for private and commercial pilots’ licenses. FlightSafety also develops classroom instructional systems and materials for use in its training business and for sale to others.

NetJets Inc. (NJ) is a provider of fractional ownership programs for general aviation aircraft. TTI, Inc. (TTI) is a global specialty distributor of passive, interconnect, electromechanical and discrete components used by customers in the manufacturing and assembling of electronic products. Business Wire provides electronic dissemination of full-text news releases daily to the media, online services and databases and the global investment community in 150 countries and 45 languages. Berkshire’s retailing businesses principally consist of several independently managed home furnishings and jewelry operations. The home furnishings businesses are the Nebraska Furniture Mart (NFM), R.C. Willey Home Furnishings (R.C. Willey), Star Furniture Company (Star) and Jordan’s Furniture, Inc. (Jordan’s). NFM, R.C. Willey, Star and Jordan’s each offer a wide selection of furniture, bedding and accessories. In addition, NFM and R.C. Willey sell a line of household appl iances, electronics, computers and other home furnishings. N! FM, R.C. ! Willey, Star and Jordan’s also offer customer financing to complement their retail operations. An important feature of each of these businesses is their ability to control costs and to produce high business volume by offering value to their customers.

NFM operates its business from two retail complexes with almost one million square feet of retail space and sizable warehouse and administrative facilities in Omaha, Nebraska and Kansas City, Kansas. NFM is a furniture retailer in each of its markets. NFM also owns Homemakers Furniture located in Des Moines, Iowa, which has approximately 215,000 square feet of retail space. R.C. Willey, based in Salt Lake City, Utah, is a home furnishings retailer in the Intermountain West region of the United States. R.C. Willey operates 11 retail stores, two retail clearance facilities and three distribution centers. Borsheim Jewelry Company, Inc. (Borsheims) operates from a single store located in Omaha, Nebraska. Borsheims i s a high volume retailer of jewelry, watches, crystal, china, stemware, flatware, gifts and collectibles. Helzberg’s Diamond Shops, Inc. (Helzberg), based in North Kansas City, Missouri, operates a chain of 233 retail jewelry stores in 37 states, which includes approximately 550,000 square feet of retail space. Most of Helzberg’s stores are located in malls, lifestyle centers or power strip centers, and all stores operate under the name Helzberg Diamonds. The Ben Bridge Corporation (Ben Bridge Jeweler), based in Seattle, Washington, operates a chain of 70 upscale retail jewelry stores located in 11 states that are primarily in the Western United States. Three of its locations are concept stores that sell only PANDORA jewelry.

Finance and Financial Products

Clayton Homes, Inc. (Clayton) is a vertically integrated manufactured housing company. At December 31, 2011, Clayton operated 33 manufacturing plants in 12 states. Clayton’s homes are marke ted in 48 states through a network of 1,333 retailers, inclu! ding 333 ! Company-owned home centers. Financing is offered through its finance subsidiaries to purchasers of Clayton’s manufactured homes as well as those purchasing homes from selected independent retailers. XTRA Corporation (XTRA), headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri, is a transportation equipment lessor operating under the XTRA Leasebrand name. XTRA manages a diverse fleet of approximately 83,000 units located at 63 facilities throughout the United States and two facilities in Canada. The fleet includes over-the-road and storage traile

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Tiernan Ray]

    Berkshire B shares ended the day at $117.82 and were up another 68 cents, or 0.6%, at $118.50, in late trading. The Class A stock (BRKA) closed at $176,500 and were up another $250.04 at $176,750 after hours.

  • [By WALLSTCHEATSHEET]

    Berkshire Hathaway is a well-regarded investment manager that has been led by Warren Buffett to great successes. The stock has risen consistently over the last several years and is now trading at all-time high prices. Earnings and revenue have shown steady growth, over the last four quarters, which has really pleased investors. Relative to its peers and sector, Berkshire Hathaway has been a year-to-date performance leader. Look for Berkshire Hathaway to OUTPERFORM.

Top Financial Companies To Own In Right Now: Global X China Consumer ETF (CHIQ)

Global X China Consumer ETF (the Fund) seeks to provide investment results that correspond generally to the price and yield performance, before fees and expenses, of the Solactive China Consumer Index (the Underlying Index). The Underlying Index is a free float adjusted, liquidity tested and market capitalization-weighted index that is designed to measure performance of the investable universe of companies in the Consumer sector of the Chinese economy, as defined by Structured Solutions AG. Global X Management Company, LLC serves as the investment adviser to the Fund. Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By pamatlarge]

    Investors looking to short a particular sector can choose from several Global X long ETFs. The Global X China Consumer ETF (CHIQ) concentrates its investments in consumer cyclical goods and consumer defense goods. The Global X China Energy ETF (CHIE) primarily holds stocks in coal, oil and utility companies. The Global X China Financials ETF (CHIX) only invests in financial services companies and real estate companies. The Global X China Industrials ETF (CHII) holds stocks in industrial companies and basic materials companies. The Global X China Materials ETF (CHIM) invests in basic materials stocks. The Global X China Technology ETF (CHIB) holds technology stocks as the core of its investments. All of these ETFs are particularly sensitive to sector downturns and general economic contractions.

Top Financial Companies To Own In Right Now: Swissquote Group Holding Ltd (SQN)

Swissquote Group Holding Ltd (Swissquote) is a provider of online financial and trading services in Switzerland. It operates an online bank that accepts deposits from its customers mainly in Swiss Francs, United States Dollars and Euros in current account form, as well as offers electronic dealing in shares, funds, options, warrants and bonds worldwide. Swissquote also provides stock brokerage services to self-directed investors and asset managers; custodian services against fees and foreign exchange; margin loans to customers against pledging of assets; fiduciary placements on behalf and at the risks of clients against commission fees and services to corporations for the management of their stock option programs, among others. Its financial portal swissquote.ch is an online platform providing the information that users need to conduct independent research on various investment vehicles. It is active domestically and abroad, including Dubai and Malta. Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Tom Stoukas]

    Swissquote Group Holding SA (SQN) surged 13 percent after agreeing to buy MIG Bank for an undisclosed price. Clariant AG lost 1.6 percent after UBS AG removed the maker of specialty chemicals from the list of its most preferred shares.

Top Financial Companies To Own In Right Now: iShares MSCI Spain Capped ETF (ISVS)

iShares MSCI Spain Index Fund (the Fund) seeks to provide investment results that correspond generally to the price and yield performance of publicly traded securities in the aggregate in the Spanish market, as measured by the MSCI Spain Index (the Index). The Index seeks to measure the performance of the Spanish equity market. The Index is a capitalization-weighted index that aims to capture 85% of the (publicly available) total market capitalization. Component companies are adjusted for available float and must meet objective criteria for inclusion in the Index. The Index is reviewed quarterly.

The Fund invests in a representative sample of securities included in the Index that collectively has an investment profile similar to the Index. The Fund’s investment advisor is Barclays Global Fund Advisors.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By abirk]

    This San Jose, Calif.-based company offers a line of software and services used by professionals, marketers, knowledge workers, application developers, enterprises and consumers for creating, managing, delivering, measuring and engaging with content and experiences across multiple operating systems, devices and media. Adobe has three business segments: Digital Media, Digital Marketing, and Print and Publishing. The company distributes its products through a network of distributors, value-added resellers (VARs), systems integrators, independent software vendors (ISVs), retailers, and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).

Top Financial Companies To Own In Right Now: Aflac Incorporated(AFL)

Aflac Incorporated, through its subsidiary, American Family Life Assurance Company of Columbus (Aflac), provides supplemental health and life insurance. The company offers various voluntary supplemental insurance products, including cancer plans, general medical indemnity plans, medical/sickness riders, care plans, living benefit life plans, ordinary life insurance plans, and annuities in Japan. It also provides loss-of-income products, such as life and short-term disability plans; and products designed to protect individuals from depletion of assets, which comprise hospital indemnity, fixed-benefit dental, vision care, accident, cancer, critical illness/critical care, and hospital intensive care plans in the United States. The company sells its products through sales associates and brokers, affiliated corporate agencies, independent corporate agencies, and individual agencies. Aflac Incorporated was founded in 1955 and is headquartered in Columbus, Georgia.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By John Kell]

    Aflac Inc.’s(AFL) fourth-quarter earnings rose 16% but a weaker yen and dollar exchange rate continued to weigh on the company’s core operations in Japan. Shares edged down 2.4% to $60 premarket.

  • [By Daniela Pylypczak]

    Following the biggest one-day drop in more than six months, U.S. equities finally managed to rebound on Tuesday. After the closing bell, AFLAC (AFL) announced its fourth quarter results.
    AFL’s Earnings in Brief

    AFL reported earnings of $1.45 per share, up from from $1.24 per share in the Q4 of last year. Analysts expected to see EPS of $1.39. Revenue was $5.8 billion, coming in below analysts’ estimate of $5.91 billion. The company said that revenue decreased 9.0% in the fourth quarter of 2013, compared with $6.4 billion in the fourth quarter of 2012. A weaker yen/dollar exchange rate was noted as the primary cause of the decline; a significant portion of Aflac’s business is in Japan.

    CEO Commentary

    Daniel P. Amos, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer commented: “We are very pleased with Aflac’s financial performance for both the quarter and year. As the year progressed, operating earnings per diluted share were better than expected, and we finished the year slightly ahead of our expectation for operating earnings to increase 5%, excluding the impact of the yen… Overall, we were pleased with our investment results in 2013, especially in light of the low-yield environment in both Japan and the U.S.  We position ourselves first to ensure we meet our policyholder obligations. We then seek to achieve a high degree of confidence in allocating capital to our shareholders while also pursuing investment strategies that enhance our overall income growth.”

    AFL’s Dividend

    The board of directors declared the first quarter cash dividend of $0.37 per share. The next dividend is payable on March 3, 2014, to shareholders of record at the close of business on February 14, 2014.

    Stock Performance 

    AFLAC shares traded 1.2% higher on Tuesday. The stock is down 7.94% YTD.

  • [By Wallace Witkowski]

    Insurers such as Aflac Inc. (AFL) , Allstate Corp. (ALL) , Aetna Inc. (AET) , Cigna Corp. (CI)  and Prudential Financial Inc. (PRU)  will also report, along with exchange operators Nasdaq OMX Group Inc. (NDAQ)  and CME Group Inc. (CME) . 

Top Financial Companies To Own In Right Now: Deutsche Bank AG (LBND)

Deutsche Bank AG is a global investment bank. The Company offers a variety of investment, financial and related products and services to private individuals, corporate entities and institutional clients around the world. The Company operates through such divisions as: Private and Business Clients, Asset and Wealth Management, Corporate Banking and Securities, Global Transaction Banking and Non-Core Operations Unit. Deutsche Bank AG is active domestically and in various countries, through the network of numerous branches. In February 2014, the Company and its related bodies corporate ceases to a share holder in the capital of the Company. Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Donald van Deventer]

    Long-duration Treasury Exchange-Traded Funds: (TLH), , (IEF), (DTYL), (DLBL), (ILTB), (TENZ), (ITE), (TLO), (EDV), (VGIT), (VGLT), (TMF), (TYD), (LBND), (UBT), (UST), (TMV), (TYO), (DSTJ), (DSXJ), (SBND), (PST), (DTYS), (DLBS), (TBF), (TTT), (TYNS), (TYBS), (TBX).

Top Financial Companies To Own In Right Now: SGOCO Group Ltd(SGOC)

SGOCO Group, Ltd. designs, manufactures, and distributes liquid crystal display (LCD) consumer products in the People?s Republic of China and internationally. Its products include LCD personal computer monitors, LCD televisions, light emitting diode back-light modules, and application-specific LCD systems. The company also provides custom manufacturing services for application-specific LCD monitors, such as rotating screens, CCTV monitors for security systems, billboard monitors for advertising and public notice systems, and touch screens for non-keyed entries. SGOCO Group, Ltd. sells its products under the SGOCO, Edge 10, POVIZON, and No. 10 brands through a network of independent retail outlets operating under the ?SGOCO Image? name. The company offers its products to industry clients, such as medical centers, educational institutions, government complexes, public emergency response systems, and corporate offices, as well as to retail customers. As of December 31, 201 0, it had 603 retail stores covering 14 provinces and municipalities in the People?s Republic of China. The company, formerly known as SGOCO Technology, Ltd., was founded in 2006 and is based in Beijing, China.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By John Udovich]

    Small cap display stock SGOCO Group Ltd (NASDAQ: SGOC) just sank 27.89% after reporting earnings, meaning its worth taking a closer look at it along with some other innovative display stocks like Corning Incorporated (NYSE: GLW) and Universal Display Corporation (NASDAQ: OLED). After all, just about every new consumer gadget along with cars and even appliances are incorporating display technology. I should also mention that we have had Corning Incorporated in our SmallCap Network Elite Opportunity (SCN EO) portfolio since early December (we are up around 29.20%) as we believe the company is in the sweet spot for next generation flexible screens and mobile wearables.

  • [By John Udovich]

    Large cap glass and ceramics technology stock Corning Incorporated (NYSE: GLW) has put in a good performance since announcing a deal with Samsung back in October, meaning its probably time to take a closer look at the stock along with the performance of potential peers (either upstream or downstream on the OLED and liquid crystal display side of the glass business) like small cap players like Daktronics, Inc (NASDAQ: DAKT), SGOCO Group Ltd (NASDAQ: SGOC) and Universal Display Corporation (NASDAQ: OLED). I should note that we have recently added Corning Incorporated to our SmallCap Network Elite Opportunity (SCN EO) portfolio because we believe the company’s position as it relates to glass and ceramics puts it in a sweet spot for the next generation flexible screens and mobile wearables. But that’s not all there is to like about this stock.

  • [By John Udovich]

    Small cap flat panel display stock Universal Display Corporation (NASDAQ: OLED) was hit by bearish news in late November and the trend lines on its technical charts appear to be confused as to what direction the stock will head, meaning its probably time to take a closer look at the situation along with the stock’s performance verses that of flat panel display peers like large cap Corning Incorporated (NYSE: GLW) and small cap players like Daktronics, Inc (NASDAQ: DAKT) and SGOCO Group Ltd (NASDAQ: SGOC)

  • [By John Udovich]

    On Tuesday, large cap LCD glass maker Corning Incorporated (NYSE: GLW) began surging some 20% in after hours trading after announcing that it will take over an existing joint venture (Samsung Corning Precision Materials) with Samsung – meaning it might be worth taking a closer look at some small cap peers like Universal Display Corporation (NASDAQ: OLED), Daktronics, Inc (NASDAQ: DAKT) and SGOCO Group Ltd (NASDAQ: SGOC) who also have a piece of the LCD glass or related flat panel display action. Specifically, the deal involves a series of transactions to give Corning Incorporated full ownership of Samsung Corning Precision Materials Co., Ltd. (SCP), which manufactures LCD glass in Korea and it should be noted that Corning already relies on sales of LCD-TV glass for the bulk of its profit. In addition, Corning Incorporated’s board of directors has authorized an additional $2 billion of share repurchases through Dec. 31, 2015, dependent upon the transaction closing. Wendell P. Weeks, the chairman, CEO and president of Corning Incorporated was quoted in the press release announcing the deal as saying: