With the first quarter's earnings season essentially in the books, the bull run we've seen from� the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) over the past weeks ran out of fuel as the blue chips finished down slightly by 0.1%, or 19 points.
On a day with no major earnings releases or significant economic reports, acquisitions stole the headlines, specifically Yahoo!'s (NASDAQ: YHOO ) purchase of the blogging site Tumblr for $1.1 billion. The deal represents CEO Marissa Mayer's first major acquisition since taking the helm last year, and the blogging service brings Yahoo! 300 million unique visitors a month, about half of which access the site through mobile devices. Elsewhere, drugmaker Actavis said it would purchase Warner Chilcott in an all-stock transaction for $5 billion, and Internet security specialist Websense jumped 29% after agreeing to be taken private by Vista Equity Group for $907 million. The deals helped pump some lifeblood into equities as the Dow was up as much 0.25% at midday, but the rally faded in the afternoon.
Best Blue Chip Companies To Watch For 2014: Visa Inc.(V)
Visa Inc., a payments technology company, engages in the operation of retail electronic payments network worldwide. It facilitates commerce through the transfer of value and information among financial institutions, merchants, consumers, businesses, and government entities. The company owns and operates VisaNet, a global processing platform that provides transaction processing services. It also offers a range of payments platforms, which enable credit, charge, deferred debit, debit, and prepaid payments, as well as cash access for consumers, businesses, and government entities. The company provides its payment platforms under the Visa, Visa Electron, PLUS, and Interlink brand names. In addition, it offers value-added services, including risk management, issuer processing, loyalty, dispute management, value-added information, and CyberSource-branded services. The company is headquartered in San Francisco, California.Advisors' Opinion:
- [By Robert Holmes]
Company Profile: Visa is the global credit card company.
Share Price: $95.69 (Dec. 6)
2011 Return: 36%
Investment Thesis: "Visa is well-positioned to continue to capitalize on the electronic payments secular growth trend," William Blair analysts write of Visa, noting that secular growth of electronic payments is expected to average 10% to 12% globally over the next several years.
The analysts also say that Visa also enjoys very high incremental margins, which contributes to the company's attractive margin profile (59% in fiscal 2011) and strong free cash flow.
"Visa has a strong balance sheet and generates strong cash flow," the analysts write. "Visa had about $4.1 billion of cash and investments, $2.9 billion of litigation reserves, and no debt on its balance sheet as of Sept. 30, 2011. Guidance calls for more than $4 billion of free cash flow in fiscal 2012."
- [By Charles Sizemore]
One of the “big picture” economic themes that I expect to play out over 2011 and beyond is the secular shift to a global cashless society.?Though the process is well on its way in the U.S. and Europe, roughly 40% of all transactions are still made with cash and paper checks according to Barron’s.
This means that even in “boring” developed markets, there is ample room for growth in electronic payments. And there is no better company to benefit from this trend than credit card giant Visa (NYSE: V).
- [By Rebecca Lipman]
Operates retail electronic payments network worldwide. Market cap of $82.48B. EPS growth (5-year CAGR) at 15%. According to Morgan Stanley: "Global penetration of electronic payments remains low with 85% of the world's transactions still cash-based, leaving ample runway to support healthy growth prospects through (at least) 2015."
- [By Ed Carson]
The holiday season was hit or miss for many retailers, but indicators are that consumers were using plastic. Visa shares have risen steadily for the past seven months, with a strong 6% gain so far in 2013. Even in America, consumers continue to shift more from cash and checks to credit and debit cards. Overseas, consumers are adopting plastic, while some are bypassing cards and going straight to mobile payments. Visa wants to make sure it's part of that mobile solution.
Visa earnings growth has decelerated for the past two quarters from 30% to 24% to 21%. Revenue growth in the latest quarter picked up to 15%, matching the best gains of the past two years.
Best Blue Chip Companies To Watch For 2014: Philip Morris International Inc(PM)
Philip Morris International Inc., through its subsidiaries, engages in the manufacture and sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products in markets outside of the United States. Its international product brand line comprises Marlboro, Merit, Parliament, Virginia Slims, L&M, Chesterfield, Bond Street, Lark, Muratti, Next, Philip Morris, and Red & White. The company also offers its products under the A Mild, Dji Sam Soe, and A Hijau in Indonesia; Diana in Italy; Optima and Apollo-Soyuz in the Russian Federation; Morven Gold in Pakistan; Boston in Colombia; Belmont, Canadian Classics, and Number 7 in Canada; Best and Classic in Serbia; f6 in Germany; Delicados in Mexico; Assos in Greece; and Petra in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. It operates primarily in the European Union, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Canada, and Latin America. The company is based in New York, New York.Advisors' Opinion:
- [By Stephen]
Philip Morris (PM, $75.92). Cigarette maker has strong free cash flow, pricing power, a yield of roughly 4% plus dividend growth. Share bu ybacks a plus.
- [By Louis Navellier]
Philip Morris International (NYSE:PM) is involved with the manufacture and sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products in over 180 countries across the globe. Year to date, PM stock is up 16%, compared to a loss of nearly 2% for the Dow Jones.
10 Best Stocks To Own For 2014: Apple Inc.(AAPL)
Apple Inc., together with subsidiaries, designs, manufactures, and markets personal computers, mobile communication and media devices, and portable digital music players, as well as sells related software, services, peripherals, networking solutions, and third-party digital content and applications worldwide. The company sells its products worldwide through its online stores, retail stores, direct sales force, third-party wholesalers, resellers, and value-added resellers. In addition, it sells third-party Mac, iPhone, iPad, and iPod compatible products, including application software, printers, storage devices, speakers, headphones, and other accessories and peripherals through its online and retail stores; and digital content and applications through the iTunes Store. The company sells its products to consumer, small and mid-sized business, education, enterprise, government, and creative markets. As of September 25, 2010, it had 317 retail stores, including 233 stores in the United States and 84 stores internationally. The company, formerly known as Apple Computer, Inc., was founded in 1976 and is headquartered in Cupertino, California.Advisors' Opinion:
- [By Roberto Pedone]
Finally, we're revisiting Apple (AAPL) this week. Last week, Apple was just starting to break out above it's the downtrending resistance line that's held shares lower for months. And sure enough, in the sessions that have followed, Apple has quietly made a move to test its last swing high at $466.
That price is the nearest important resistance level for the stock; traders should treat a move through $466 as a buy signal. If Apple's downtrend is truly broken, we'll want to see the stock make a series of higher lows and higher highs. Now, the $436 billion firm is finally in a position where it can start to do that. This week's price action could get interesting for Apple bulls.
I'm still recommending buyers keep a protective stop on the other side of the 50-day moving average; it should start looking like a decent proxy for support when a move through $466 happens.
- [By Michael Fowlkes]
Tech-giant Apple (AAPL) has seen its shares take a serious beating in recent months, but we believe the selloff has just about reached its end. The underlying fundamentals remain strong and we expect to see several new products next year. The concerns that have led to the recent sell off are real, but at the same time not as material as some would like you to believe. A big concern is theslowing of its earnings growth. Last year it had 100% earnings growth, but that has dropped to 23% this year.
You need to ask yourself, considering Apple’s size, is a 23% jump in earnings growth really a bad thing? Apple has become a victim of its own success, and is having a hard time keeping up with its past successes. This does not mean the company is in trouble, it just means that investors need to have a more realistic view of the company’s business. Once the current panic subsides, we believe investors will come back to the stock, and realize that it is a great value with its current P/E of just 12.
- [By Kevin M. O'Brien]
Apple Inc. (AAPL) will reach $500.00/share at some point in 2012. I view Apple as trading at an extreme discount right now. I am expecting to see a run-up in price ahead of the company's next earnings call on January 17, 2012. I am also expecting that this earnings release is going to be absolutely fantastic. It would be a wise choice to block out all the negative rumors and sentiment surrounding Apple right now. This is a stock that is so attractively priced right now that it will not stay at this level for very long. Check back with me after January 17th next year.
Best Blue Chip Companies To Watch For 2014: International Business Machines Corporation(IBM)
International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) provides information technology (IT) products and services worldwide. Its Global Technology Services segment provides IT infrastructure and business process services, including strategic outsourcing, process, integrated technology, and maintenance services, as well as technology-based support services. The company?s Global Business Services segment offers consulting and systems integration, and application management services. Its Software segment offers middleware and operating systems software, such as WebSphere software to integrate and manage business processes; information management software for database and enterprise content management, information integration, data warehousing, business analytics and intelligence, performance management, and predictive analytics; Tivoli software for identity management, data security, storage management, and datacenter automation; Lotus software for collaboration, messaging, and so cial networking; rational software to support software development for IT and embedded systems; business intelligence software, which provides querying and forecasting tools; SPSS predictive analytics software to predict outcomes and act on that insight; and operating systems software. Its Systems and Technology segment provides computing and storage solutions, including servers, disk and tape storage systems and software, point-of-sale retail systems, and microelectronics. The company?s Global Financing segment provides lease and loan financing to end users and internal clients; commercial financing to dealers and remarketers of IT products; and remanufacturing and remarketing services. It serves financial services, public, industrial, distribution, communications, and general business sectors. The company was formerly known as Computing-Tabulating-Recording Co. and changed its name to International Business Machines Corporation in 1924. IBM was founded in 1910 and is based in Armonk, New York.Advisors' Opinion:
- [By Louis Navellier]
IBM (NYSE:IBM) is an international IT company made famous by its line of personal computers and various IT services. A year-to-date gain of 18% shows IBM stock has a lot to offer.
- [By Paul]
IBM. Emerging markets are a big growth driver for this computer systems and software provider. Not only that, Resendes says, IBM has "a bullet-proof balance sheet that will allow it to weather the current storm and position it for superior growth and profitability in the long term." He thinks the stock, which recently traded at $93, is worth $120 a share: ''There are some obvious companies that offer much bigger discounts, but you have to incorporate the safety factor. You're getting a premium company here that's a good spot to be in within the tech space."
- [By Peter Hughes]
International Business Machines (IBM) -- our aggressive pick for the year -- is one of the world's most dominant technology companies, with annual revenues of $105 billion and net income of $16 billion.
- [By Jim Cramer]
When this company talked about lofty EPS for 2015, initially the street was skeptical especially after IBM reported a blah quarter soon after the expectations were laid out. I now think the company has $20 earnings per share capabilities out three years and that $13 is doable for 2011. You keep the multiple the same and you get a $169 stock. I think it does just that. This one's cheap, way too cheap and it will be cheap next year, too, but on a bigger earnings base which is how it can get to my price target.