Dipped In Magic Waters of Technology

Dipped In The Magic Waters of Technology

With certain apologies to Field of Dreams and Terence Mann (James Earl Jones)

Terence Mann: People will come. They’ll come to Las Vegas for reasons they can’t even dream (yet). They’ll land at McCarran not knowing for sure why they’re doing it. They’ll arrive at the Convention Center as innocent as children, in a childish (but pure) quest. It is money they have and solutions they seek. They’ll wander and discover. They’ll find geeks and gizmos and remember days before the Star Trek stuff started taking shape and forming reality. They’ll cheer their heroes. It’ll be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories and dreams will be so thick they’ll have to brush them away from their faces. People will come. The one constant through all the years has been technology. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers fueled by the next generation of locomotive engine. Technology has transformed time. It’s a part of our past — and a glimpse of our future. It reminds of us of all that once was good and things yet to come. People will come. People will most definitely come.

For those less familiar, this week is the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. It is the world’s largest trade show of its kind. The International CES (Consumer Electronics Show®) is the world’s gathering place for all who thrive on the business of consumer technologies. It’s where business gets done: on the show floor, in and around our conference program, in impromptu connections and in planned meetings and special events. Follow on Twitter via #CES2015.

We’ll be covering the show and providing investment-related feedback on a number of companies, including but not limited to: QUALCOMM (QCOM), Masimo (MASI), 3D Systems (DDD) and many more …

Coming Events and Attractions

Our expanded coverage of the update stocks this month continues as part of our quarter long test drive of this feature and the studies and shared ideas it delivers. Please tell us what you think and feel free to join in the Forum discussions for the deeper dives on some of the stocks.

We’re working to schedule the January Round Table. It will likely be on Saturday morning, January 31 at 10:30 AM ET. The January Round Table will be part of a series of webcasts during Groundhog Weekend — more information to follow.

Speaking of our 10-year anniversary and ALL THINGS GROUNDHOG, we’ll be firing up another year of superior stock selection as we launch Groundhog Challenge 2015 on February 2, 2015. It’s not too early to start thinking about your winners for 2015. Remember we welcome both individual investors and groups (investment clubs) … the ground rules are simple pick a minimum of FIVE and a maximum of TWENTY investments and we lock them in from 2/2/2015 through 2/2/2016.

Companies of Interest: Value Line

The average Value Line low total return forecast for the companies in this week’s update batch is 5.0% — a little higher than we’ve seen in the last few weeks.

Fundamentals continue to erode slightly. This update did have a slight exception, with modest boosts to expectations for companies like Bristol-Myers (BMY), Lilly (LLY), Merck (MRK) and Teva Pharma (TEVA) along with various other drug-related stocks. Pfizer (PFE) was a notable exception — with a slightly reduced long-term forecast.

Materially Stronger: Abbvie (ABBV), Lilly Eli (LLY)

Materially Weaker: Cameco (CCJ), Genworth Financial (GNW), Pan American Silver (PAAS), Barrick Gold (ABX)

Pfizer (PFE) dropped from $35 to $30 for the 3-5 year low price forecast.

Teva Pharma (TEVA) went from $55 to $60 for the 3-5 year low price forecast.

Standard Coverage Initiated:


Stocks to Study

The following update stocks are ranked in the top 10th percentile of all companies we follow (MANIFEST Rank > 90)

Red October: Forbes Best Small Cos (2013)

It’s that time of year again. Red October. Some people refer to small company stocks as Red Chips and we take our annual look at one of our favorite shopping lists — a tradition that has bagged a number of extremely rewarding investments over the years.

Forbes is out with their annual list of spooky small companies, the Best Small Companies for 2013.

This year’s headliner is Questcor Pharmaceuticals (QCOR). Questcor is among eleven healthcare companies in this year’s list. Acthar is the company’s main drug, used in the treatment of multiple sclerosis, infantile spasms and rheumatic disorders. The drug accounted for the bulk of QCOR’s annual sales total.

The companies featured at the top of Forbes list are:

1. Questcor Pharma (QCOR)
2. Grand Canyon Education (LOPE)
3. Proto Labs (PRLB)
4. Invensense (INVN)
5. Sturm, Ruger (RGR)

We’ll audit, confirm, study and whittle the list down to identify our favorites and see how they compare.

But these potential future titans don’t have to be scary. As we’ve hunted down buying opportunities from this annual listing over the last several years, we’ve discovered that the best returns tend to come from the entrants with the highest quality ratings.

Dashboards Past


We obviously still like to talk about the companies featured in 2008. These are the selections we bring up at the hair salon or barber shop. There are lessons to be learned (and celebrated) in companies like Neogen (2006), DXP Enterprises (2007), Stratasys (2008), Middleby (2008), Dril-Quip (2008), Boston Beer (2008), Bio-Reference Labs (2008 & 2011), Buffalo Wild Wings (2007-2011), Carbo Ceramics (2012), FactSet Research (2008), Mesa Labs (2012), NIC (2012), Peet’s Coffee (2009), Portfolio Recovery (2007,2010-2011), SolarWinds (2011) and SS&C Technologies (2012).

We note that Bio-Reference Labs (BRLI) is now the second most widely-followed company by MANIFEST subscribers, having first appeared on this list back in 2008.

It’s interesting to see Grand Canyon Education (LOPE) near the top of the list because of the damage done by the likes of from the educational services stocks like Strayer and Capella in recent years … and Quality Systems (2006-2008,2010-2011) — a multiple selection that’s done considerable damage to the all-time results.

It’s been a good year for our Forbes Best Small Company tracking portfolios. All in all, the outperformance accuracy is 51.4% and the relative return since 2006 is +2.3% (17.4% vs. 15.1%).

Halloween: Our Cue To Haunt Some Studies

Ken Kavula noticed that Forbes had released the 2013 listing earlier this week. I hope you’re not surprised that Ken is all over this as one of our favorite small company advocates.

So we start whittling with all 100 thanks to Ken:


We’ll require a minimum growth forecast of at least 10%, a quality ranking of 80 or better, and a return forecast greater than 11%. The screening results will be maintained here:


Here’s the results of auditing the 100 candidates … a short list of companies with small company growth characteristics, exceptional quality … that appear to be attractively priced.

The difference between tricks and treats? Quality.

Value Line Low Total Return Screen (5/24/2013)

Companies of Interest

Screening Criteria: (1) Included in the update universe for this week’s release by Value Line, (2) Return forecast at least 5% (percentage points) greater than the average return forecast and (3) MANIFEST quality rank (percentile) at least 60, i.e. all “Excellent” and “Good” companies in top two quintiles eligible.

Materially Stronger: Amerisource (ABC), Bruker (BRKR), Meridian Bioscience (VIVO), Navistar (NAV), Illumina (ILMN), Analogic (ALOG), Medical Action Industries (MDCI)

Materially Weaker: Cutera (CUTR)

Market Barometers

The Value Line low total return forecast is 6.5%, down from 6.7% last week.

Triple Play Screen (3/19/2013)

Photo Credit: Alan Cleaver via Compfight cc

A couple of people have requested a quick triple play screen in the last few days, so we’ll take a closer look.

Companies of Interest: Recent Round Table selection Vera Bradley (VRA) just toggled back to “Bullish” and with fundamentals intact, the price drop could be a sale vs. distressed merchandise. Kohl’s (KSS) was downgraded by JP Morgan this morning — so study carefully and monitor for impact on long-term trends. Coach (COH) continues to be challenged in a challenging retail environment but the news/expectations out of China have been quite good of late. United Health (UNH) has some of the stronger P/E expansion and margin enhancement potential on the list.

Keep in mind that the Triple Play screening criteria is generally most useful in the later stages of a bear market but the concepts are always valid.

Here are the three major Triple Play criteria:

  • Damaged stock price (Elevated return forecast)
  • Potential for profitability improvement (margin expansion)
  • Potential for P/E expansion

Using our stock database:

We begin by limiting the field to companies with Fusion Rankings (a combination of return forecast, quality ranking and technical factors) greater than 80.

We then limit the field to companies with (1) projected P/E ratios greater than current P/E ratios and (2) profitability forecasts greater than current profitability levels. P/E expansion and margin enhancement are both annualized in the results table.

The qualifying companies are sorted (descending) by MANIFEST Rank.

Value Line Low Total Return Screen (2/22/2013)

We can’t help but take a closer look at the “dent” put in the long-term forecast for Landauer (LDR) — a recent favorite and a stock that we’ve featured in a number of venues. Is there any cause for concern or muted expectations?

The return forecasts for all of the electric utilities in this update are pretty weak and to yield chasers out there … don’t forget to keep total return expectations in your framework. We’ll take closer look at the electric utility industry also.

It was also nice to see long-time community favorite II-VI (IIVI) get a boost this week.

Materially Stronger: Badger Meter (BMI), Cooper (COO), Cutera (CUTR), Idexx Labs (IDXX), Two Six II-VI (IIVI), Manitowac (MTW), Newport (NEWP), Oshkosh (OSK), Toyota Motors ( TM )

Materially Weaker: Excelon (EXC), First Energy (FE), Landauer (LDR), PPL (PPL)

Market Barometers

The Value Line low total return (VLLTR) forecast held steady at 7.3% this week.