Scuffling Apple looks lucrative
Banged-up stocks often make the best buys.
I like to buy stocks on bad news that is real but temporary. That's why, each quarter, I publish a Casualty List of wounded stocks that I think will recover.
Apple Inc. and Exelon Corp. are both on the Casualty List at the moment. I also recommend GTAT Advanced Technologies Inc. and Finish Line Inc.
Each of these stocks was down 15 percent or more in the fourth quarter. The overall market was close to flat while Congress dithered over taxes and the budget.
Buying on bad news has been powerful approach over the years. I've compiled 39 Casualty Lists, beginning in mid-2000. One-year results can be calculated for 35 of the lists. Of those, 25 have been profitable and 23 have beaten the S&P 500.
The average 12-month return for my Casualty List stocks has been 23.8 percent, versus 7.3 percent for the S&P.
Bear in mind that column results shouldn't be confused with the performance of real-money portfolios I run. Column results are hypothetical and don't reflect trading costs or taxes. Also, past performance may not predict future results.
Running counter to the long-term trend of good results, the performance of my list from one year ago was a fiasco. Three of the four Casualty List stocks I recommended in January 2012 have declined, with the worst disaster coming from RadioShack Corp., down 76 percent.
Only Oracle Corp. did well, rising more than 27 percent. Newmont Mining Corp. (which I owned for clients) and Chesapeake Energy Corp. were in the loss column.
Overall, the fourth-quarter 2012 list fell 22.3 percent, while the S&P 500 was up 16.4 percent.
Undaunted, I offer four new selections.
The first one – Apple (AAPL) – may shock some people. In the past couple of years, I haven't been a fan of this stock because it seemed to me that everything that could possibly go right for the company had done so.
Now, however, investors are worrying about whether Tim Cook can fill the late Steve Jobs's shoes and fretting whether all the new tablet computers coming onto the market will eat into Apple's dominant market share. Apple fell 20 percent in the fourth quarter.
That leaves it at 12 times earnings, a mighty attractive multiple for a stock whose earnings have grown 43 percent a year in the past five years.
Apple is debt-free. It has more than $10 billion in cash or near-cash and $18 billion in marketable securities, as of Sept. 30. Its iPhone, iPod, iPad and Macintosh are products that people want.
I don't suppose things can keep going as swimmingly for Apple as they have. But if the growth rate is cut in half, to 21 percent, the stock still looks like a reasonable purchase at 12 times earnings.
Exelon Corp. (EXC) is a Chicago-based utility that I've owned in the past and may again. From 10 power plants in Illinois, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, it generates about 20 percent of all nuclear energy produced nationwide.
I'm a proponent of nuclear energy. Despite its obvious risks, it can mobilize a great deal of power without the air pollution hazards of oil and coal.
Shares were sliced 16 percent in price last quarter because the company said it may need to cut its dividend in order to preserve its investment-grade credit rating. The dividend yield right now is a fat 7.2 percent.
GT Advanced Technologies (GTAT), based in Merrimack, N.H., makes furnaces used to manufacture purified silicon for solar panels and furnaces used to make artificial sapphires for LED (light emitting diode) lighting. Its shares dropped a hideous 44 percent in the fourth quarter.
GTAT's business is in the tank because there is a worldwide glut of solar panels, so hardly anyone needs to buy the equipment to make more. However, the artificial-sapphire business is in better shape. And the company should be able to withstand tough times, given $479 million of cash on the balance sheet.
Investors have oversold GTAT, in my opinion. It trades below book value and at about three times earnings, dirt cheap.
I'll finish with Finish Line of Indianapolis, which reported a quarterly loss and dropped 17 percent in the fourth quarter. This retailer sells athletic shoes and active wear. Its new website flopped, and it apparently had too many running shoes in stock and not enough basketball shoes.
Those seem like fixable problems — and this company is no slouch. Its five-year earnings growth rate exceeds 20 percent, and it has been profitable in nine of the past 10 years (all except fiscal 2008).
John Dorfman is chairman of Thunderstorm Capital and a syndicated columnist; email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- 4 ejections, benches-clearing scrum mark Pirates’ win over Reds
- Zimbabwe alleges Murrysville doctor illegally killed lion
- Steelers’ Harrison awaits go-ahead from Tomlin before practicing
- Slot cornerback Boykin should give Steelers options in secondary
- Pirates notebook: Burnett says ‘surgery is not an option’
- Inside the Steelers: Roethlisberger strong in goal-line drills
- Pittsburgh airport improvements noted as CEO tries to expand activity
- Steelers notebook: WR Bryant sidelined after minor procedure on right elbow
- Greensburg native runs unique catering service in California
- Pa. breeding ground for corruption, experts say
- Starting 9: Examining Pirates’ deadline decisions