Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Top 10 Construction Material Stocks To Watch Right Now

Analysts in Google's (NASDAQ: GOOG  ) $1,000 club were probably hoping for some upside surprise when the company announced second-quarter earnings on July 18. Unfortunately, the report didn't get the Street excited. Could a dull earnings release prevent Google stock from reaching that big number?

Crunching the numbers
Analysts are rallying behind Google stock, with a median price target of $998. Among the 38 analysts covered by Yahoo! Finance, the high target is $1,175 and the low target is $810. At $885, these targets mean very little downside risk and excellent upside potential... at least according to this group of analysts.

Are they right? Let's double check.

Ultimately, the value of a business is a function of its future earnings potential. So let's first make sure that those' price targets are truly functions of their earnings estimates.

For the next five years, analysts, on average, expect EPS to grow at about 14.5% per annum. Given these EPS growth rates for the first five years, an average of 7.5% for the next five years, and a 3% for years beyond 10 years, a discounted cash flow valuation yields a fair value of about $958 per share -- not too far off analysts' median target of $998. So at least we know these analysts aren't fudging some other factor beyond earnings in order to reach a pretty target.

Top 10 Construction Material Stocks To Watch Right Now: Eagle Materials Inc (EXP)

Eagle Materials Inc., incorporated on January 27, 1994, manufactures and distributes gypsum wallboard and also manufactures and sells cement. Gypsum wallboard is distributed throughout the United States with particular emphasis in the geographic markets nearest to its production facilities. The Company sells cement in six regional markets, including northern Nevada and California, the greater Chicago area, the Rocky Mountain region, the Central Plains region and Texas. Its gypsum wallboard business is supported by its recycled paperboard business, while its cement business is supported by its concrete and aggregates business. The Company operates in Cement and Concrete and Aggregates, and Gypsum Wallboard and Recycled Paperboard segments. As of March 31, 2013, the Company operated six cement plants (one of which belongs to its joint venture company), five gypsum wallboard plants, one recycled paperboard plant, seventeen concrete batching plants and four aggregates facilities. The Company�� products are used in the construction and renovation of houses, roads, bridges, commercial and industrial buildings and other, newer generation structures like wind farms.

Cement, Concrete and Aggregates Operations

The Company�� cement production facilities are located in or near Buda, Texas; LaSalle, Illinois; Laramie, Wyoming; Sugar Creek, Missouri; Tulsa, Oklahoma and Fernley, Nevada. The Company�� cement subsidiaries are wholly-owned except the Buda, Texas plant, which is owned by Texas Lehigh Cement Company LP, a limited partnership joint venture owned 50% by the Company and 50% by Lehigh Cement Company LLC, a subsidiary of Heidelberg Cement AG. Its LaSalle, Illinois plant operates under the name of Illinois Cement Company; the Laramie, Wyoming plant operates under the name of Mountain Cement Company; the Fernley, Nevada plant operates under the name of Nevada Cement Company and its Sugar Creek, Missouri and Tulsa, Oklahoma plants operate under the name Central Plains Cement Com! pany. The Company produces and distributes ready-mix concrete from Company-owned sites north of Sacramento, California; Austin, Texas and the greater Kansas City area. The Company�� activities in its frac sand business are in the Utica, Illinois area and in south Texas. The Company sells aggregates to building contractors and other customers engaged in a variety of construction activities.

Gypsum Wallboard and Recycled Paperboard Operations

The Company owns five gypsum wallboard manufacturing facilities. As of March 31, 2013, the Company�� gypsum wallboard production totaled 1,950 million square feet. Total gypsum wallboard sales were 1,909 million square feet during the fiscal year ended March 31, 2013 (fiscal 2013). The Company also manufactures alternative products, including containerboard grades (such as linerboard and medium) and lightweight packaging grades (such as bag liner). In addition, recycled industrial paperboard grades (tube/core stock and protective angle board stock) are produced to maximize manufacturing efficiencies. The Company�� manufactured recycled paperboard products are sold to gypsum wallboard manufacturers and other industrial users.

The Company competes with USG Corporation, National Gypsum Company and Koch Industries.

Advisors' Opinion:
  • [By Rich Duprey]

    Cement and building materials maker�Eagle Materials� (NYSE: EXP  ) �announced yesterday�its second-quarter dividend of $0.10 per share, the same rate it's paid since 2008.

  • [By Jake L'Ecuyer]

    Top decliners in the sector included Newmont Mining (NYSE: NEM), off 6.3 percent, and Eagle Materials (NYSE: EXP), down 4.3 percent.

    Top Headline
    Forest Laboratories (NYSE: FRX) announced its plans to buy Furiex Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: FURX) for up to $1.46 billion. Forest will pay around $95 per share, or around $1.1 billion in cash. Forest Labs will also pay up to $30 per share, or around $360 million in a contingent value right. The deal is projected to close in the second or third quarter of 2014.

  • [By Dan Caplinger]

    Tomorrow, Eagle Materials (NYSE: EXP  ) will release its latest quarterly results. The key to making smart investment decisions on stocks reporting earnings is to anticipate how they'll do before they announce results, leaving you fully prepared to respond quickly to whatever inevitable surprises arise. That way, you'll be less likely to make an uninformed knee-jerk reaction to news that turns out to be exactly the wrong move.

  • [By Jake L'Ecuyer]

    Top decliners in the sector included Newmont Mining (NYSE: NEM), off 6.3 percent, and Eagle Materials (NYSE: EXP), down 4.3 percent.

    Top Headline
    Forest Laboratories (NYSE: FRX) announced its plans to buy Furiex Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: FURX) for up to $1.46 billion. Forest will pay around $95 per share, or around $1.1 billion in cash. Forest Labs will also pay up to $30 per share, or around $360 million in a contingent value right. The deal is projected to close in the second or third quarter of 2014.

Top 10 Construction Material Stocks To Watch Right Now: Boral Ltd (BLD)

Boral Limited (Boral), is engaged in the manufacture and supply of building and construction materials in Australia, the United States and Asia. The Company�� operating segments include Construction Materials & Cement, Building Products, Boral Gypsum, and Boral USA. The Construction Materials & Cement is engaged in quarries, concrete, asphalt, transport, landfill, property, cement and concrete placing. The Building Products segment is engaged in Australian bricks, roof tiles, masonry, timber products and windows. The Boral Gypsum involves Australian and Asian plasterboard. The Boral USA is engaged in Bricks, cultured stone, roof tiles, fly ash, concrete and quarries. Advisors' Opinion:
  • [By Eric Lam]

    Ballard Power (BLD), which designs and manufactures hydrogen fuel cells, slumped 15 percent to C$1.42, the biggest decline since March. The company yesterday said it will sell about 9 million units at $1.40 a unit for proceeds of about $12.6 million. The cash generated will be used to fund working capital, support growth and general corporate purposes, the company said.

Top 10 Tech Stocks To Own Right Now: CEMEX SAB de CV (CX)

CEMEX, S.A.B. de C.V. (CEMEX), incorporated on January 20, 1931, is a global cement manufacturer with operations in North America, Europe, South America, Central America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. The Company is a holding company engaged through the operating subsidiaries in the production, distribution, marketing and sale of cement, ready-mix concrete, aggregates and clinker. As of December 31, 2009, the Company�� cement production facilities were located in Mexico, the United States, Spain, the United Kingdom, Germany, Poland, Croatia, Latvia, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Panama, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, Egypt, the Philippines and Thailand.

The Company manufactures cement through a closely controlled chemical process, which begins with the mining and crushing of limestone and clay, and, in some instances, other raw materials. The clay and limestone are then pre-homogenized, a process which consists of combining different types of clay and limestone. The mix is typically dried, then fed into a grinder, which grinds the various materials in preparation for the kiln. The raw materials are calcined, or processed, at a very high temperature in a kiln, to produce clinker. Clinker is the intermediate product used in the manufacture of cement.

Ready-mix concrete is a combination of cement, fine and coarse aggregates, admixtures (which control properties of the concrete including plasticity, pumpability, freeze-thaw resistance, strength and setting time), and water. The Company is a supplier of aggregates primarily the crushed stone, sand and gravel, used in virtually all forms of construction.

Mexican Operations

During the year ended December 31, 2009, the Mexican operations represented approximately 21% of the Company�� net sales. CEMEX Mexico is a direct subsidiary of CEMEX and is both a holding company for some of the operating companies in Mexico and an operating company involved in the manufacturing and ma! rketing of cement, plaster, gypsum, groundstone and other construction materials and cement by-products in Mexico. CEMEX Mexico, indirectly, is also the holding company for the international operations. The Company owns Tolteca, Monterrey, Maya, Anahuac, Campana, Gallo, and Centenario brands in Mexico. As of December 31, 2009, the Company owned 100% of CEMEX Mexico.

The Company competes with Holcim Ltd., Sociedad Cooperativa Cruz Azul, Cementos Moctezuma, Grupo Cementos Chihuahua and Lafarge Cementos in Mexico.

U.S. Operations

As of December 31, 2009, the Company�� operations in the United States represented approximately 19% of the Company�� net sales. As of December 31, 2009, the Company held 100% of CEMEX, Inc. As of December 31, 2009, CEMEX had a cement manufacturing capacity of approximately 17.9 million tons per year in the United States operations. As of December 31, 2009, the Company operated 14 cement plants located in Alabama, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Texas. As of December 31, 2009, it also had 48 rails or water served active cement distribution terminals in the United States. As of December 31, 2009, the Company had 336 ready-mix concrete plants located in the Carolinas, Florida, Georgia, Texas, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona, California, Oregon and Washington and aggregates facilities in North Carolina, South Carolina, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Texas, and Washington.

Spanish Operations

As of December 31, 2009, the operations in Spain represented approximately 5% of the Company�� net sales. As of December 31, 2009, the Company held approximately 99.8% of CEMEX Espana, the main operating subsidiary in Spain. The cement activities in Spain are conducted by CEMEX Espana. The ready-mix concrete activities in Spain are conducted by Hormicemex, S.A., a subsidiary of CEMEX Espana, and the aggregates activities in Spain ar! e conduct! ed by Aricemex S.A., also a subsidiary of CEMEX Espana.

U.K. Operations

As of December 31, 2009, the Company�� operations in the United Kingdom represented approximately 8% of the Company�� net sales. As of December 31, 2009, it held 100% of CEMEX Investments Limited, the holding subsidiary in the United Kingdom. The Company is a provider of building materials in the United Kingdom with vertically integrated cement, ready-mix concrete, aggregates and asphalt operations. It is also a provider of concrete and precast materials solutions, such as concrete blocks, concrete block paving, roof tiles, flooring systems and sleepers for rail infrastructure.

The Company competes with Lafarge, Heidelberg, Tarmac, and Aggregate Industries in the United Kingdom.

German Operations

As of December 31, 2009, the operations in the Rest of Europe consisted of the operations in Germany, France, Ireland, Poland, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Latvia, Austria and Hungary, as well as the other European assets. The Company is a provider of building materials in Germany, with vertically integrated cement, ready-mix concrete, aggregates and concrete products operations (consisting mainly of prefabricated concrete ceilings and walls). It maintains a network for ready-mix concrete and aggregates in Germany. As of December 31, 2009, the Company held 100% of CEMEX Deutschland AG, the holding subsidiary in Germany.

The Company competes with Heidelberg, Dyckerhoff, Lafarge, Holcim and Schwenk in Germany.

French Operations

As of December 31, 2009, the Company held 100% of CEMEX France Gestion (S.A.S.), the holding subsidiary in France. It is a ready-mix concrete producer and aggregate producer in France. As of December 31, 2009, the Company operated 239 ready-mix concrete plants in France, one maritime cement terminal located in LeHavre, on the northern coast of France, 20 land distribution centers and 42 aggregates quarries.

The Company competes with Lafarge, Holcim, Italcementi, Vicat, Lafarge, Italcementi, Colas (Bouygues) and Eurovia (Vinci) in France.

Irish Operations

As of December 31, 2009, the Company held approximately 61.2% of Readymix Plc, the operating subsidiary in the Republic of Ireland. The operations in Ireland produce and supply sand, stone and gravel, as well as ready-mix concrete, mortar and concrete blocks. As of December 31, 2009, we operated 43 ready-mix concrete plants, 27 aggregates quarries and 15 block plants located in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man. The Company imports and distributes cement in the Isle of Man.

The Company competes with CRH, the Lagan Group and Kilsaran in the Republic of Ireland.

Polish Operations

As of December 31, 2009, the Company held 100% of CEMEX Polska Sp. z.o.o. (CEMEX Polska), the holding subsidiary in Poland. It is a provider of building materials in Poland serving the cement, ready-mix concrete and aggregates markets. As of December 31, 2009, CEMEX operated two cement plants and one grinding mill in Poland, with a total installed cement capacity of three million tons per year. As of December 31, 2009, the Company also operated 39 ready-mix concrete plants and nine aggregates quarries in Poland. As of December 31, 2009, the Company also operated 10 land distribution centers and two maritime terminals in Poland.

The Company competes with Heidelberg, Lafarge, CRH and Dyckerhoff in Poland.

Southeast European Operations

As of December 31, 2009, the Company held 100% of CEMEX Hrvatska d.d. (Hrvatska), the operating subsidiary in Croatia. As of December 31, 2009, it operated three cement plants in Croatia, with an installed capacity of 2.4 million tons per year. As of December 31, 2009, the Company also operated ten land distribution centers, three maritime cement terminals, eight ready-mix concrete facilities and one aggregates quarry! in Croat! ia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovenia, Serbia and Montenegro.

Advisors' Opinion:
  • [By Dan Caplinger]

    Even now, though, it's far from clear whether the recent rebound has staying power. Earlier this month, peer Vulcan Materials (NYSE: VMC  ) reported 5% lower shipments of aggregates, although rising prices helped offset the impact, and the company noted double-digit-percentage increases in shipments to hot housing areas including Arizona, California, and Florida. Similarly, Cemex (NYSE: CX  ) posted a substantial loss for its March quarter on with 5% lower revenue, but the Mexican company pointed to strength in the U.S. and Asian markets as offsetting weakness in Mexico, Europe, and Latin America.

  • [By Monica Wolfe]

    Cemex SAB de CV (CX)

    As of the close of the third quarter there were nine guru owners of Cemex. These gurus held a combined weighting of 5.30%. During the third quarter, there were three gurus making buys and nine making sells of their stake in CX.

  • [By Ben Levisohn]

    Shares of Vulcan have gained 7.6%, and given a lift to other cement makers today, including Martin Marietta Materials (MLM), which has risen 4.9% and reports earnings on Thursday, Cemex (CX), which has advanced 1.5%, and Texas Industries (TXI), which is up 4.9%.

Top 10 Construction Material Stocks To Watch Right Now: Amcol International Corp (ACO)

AMCOL International Corporation (AMCOL), incorporated on December 3, 1959, is focused on the development and application of minerals and technology products and services to various industrial and consumer markets. It operates in five segments: performance materials, construction technologies, energy services, transportation and corporate. Its performance materials segment previously referred to as its minerals and materials segment is a supplier of bentonite related products. Its construction technologies segment previously referred to as its environmental segment provides products for non-residential construction, environmental and infrastructure projects worldwide. Its energy services segment previously referred to as its oilfield services segment offers a range of patented technologies, products and services for both upstream and downstream oil and gas production. Its transportation segment serves domestic subsidiaries, as well as third parties, is a dry van and flatbed carrier and freight brokerage service provider.

Performance Materials Segment

The Company supplies chromite and leonardite, and operates more than 25 mining or production facilities worldwide. It mines chromite, an iron chromium oxide, from open cast mines in South Africa and transport it to our nearby processing facility. Its primary uses include metalcasting, drilling fluid additive, and agricultural applications. Its performance materials segment conducts its business through wholly owned subsidiaries and investments in affiliates and joint ventures throughout the world. It consists of four product lines: metalcasting; specialty materials; basic minerals, and pet products. Its principal products are marketed under various registered trade names, including VOLCLAY, PANTHER CREEK, PREMIUM GEL, ADDITROL, ENERSOL, and Hevi-Sand.

The Company�� metalcasting products include blended mineral binders containing sodium and calcium bentonite and organic additives sold under the trade name ADDITROL. I! n the ferrous casting market, the Company specializes in blending bentonite of various grades by themselves or with mineral binders containing sodium bentonite, calcium bentonite, seacoal and other ingredients. It also has a line of formulated additives that introduce silicon and carbon in the melt phase of the casting process. In the steel alloy casting market, it sells a chromite product with a particle size distribution specific to a customer�� needs.

The Company�� specialty materials products contain bentonite and synthetic additives offering solutions for consumer and industrial applications. It also offers products for bio-agricultural applications. The markets and applications of its specialty materials products include fabric care, personal care, basic materials and pet products. It supply high-grade, agglomerated bentonite and other mineral additives used in fabric care products. It manufactures adsorbent polymers and purified grades of bentonite for sale to manufacturers of personal skin care products. The adsorbent polymers are used to deliver high-value actives in skin-care products. Microsponge and Poly-Pore are the principal trade names under which these products are sold. Its basic minerals product line supplies minerals to a variety of markets and industrial applications, including drilling fluid additives, ferro alloys and other industrial.

The Company�� pet products include sodium bentonite-based scoopable (clumping), traditional and alternative cat litters, as well as specialty pet products sold to grocery and drug stores, mass merchandisers, wholesale clubs and pet specialty stores throughout the United States. It is primarily a private-label producer of cat litter, and its products are marketed under various trade names. These products are sold solely in the United States from three principal sites from which it package and distribute finished goods. Its transportation segment provides logistics services and is a component of its capability in supplyi! ng custom! ers on a national basis.

Construction Technologies Segment

The Company�� construction technologies segment serves customers engaged in a range of construction projects, including site remediation, concrete waterproofing for underground structures, liquid containment on projects ranging from landfills to flood control, and drilling applications including foundation, slurry wall, tunneling, water well and horizontal drilling. Its construction technologies segment conducts its business through wholly owned subsidiaries and joint ventures throughout the world. This segment consists of four product lines: building materials; contracting services; drilling products, and lining technologies.

The Company sells lining and other products for a variety of applications, most of which are directed to preserving or remediating environmental issues. It helps customers protect ground water and soil through the sale of geosynthetic clay liner products containing bentonite. It market these products under the BENTOMAT and CLAYMAX trade names principally for lining and capping landfills, mine waste disposal sites, water and wastewater lagoons, secondary containments in tank farms, and other contaminated sites. It also provides associated geosynthetic materials for these applications, including geotextiles and drainage geocomposites.

The Company�� lining technologies product line also includes specialized technologies to mitigate vapor intrusion in new building construction. It also provides reactive capping technologies and solutions to contain residual contamination, reduce costs associated with ex-situ remedies, and aid in environmental protection. Products offered include Liquid Boot, a liquid applied vapor barrier system; REACTIVE CORE-MAT, an in-situ sediment capping material; ORGANOCLAY, which absorbs organic containments, and QUIK-SOLID, a super absorbent media.

The Company offer a variety of active and passive waterproofing and greenroof technolog! ies for u! se in protecting the building envelope of non-residential constructions, including buildings, subways, and parkway systems. Its products include VOLTEX, a waterproofing composite comprised of two polypropylene geotextiles filled with sodium bentonite; ULTRASEAL, an advanced membrane using a active polymer core, and COREFLEX, featuring heat-welded seams for protection of critical infrastructure. In addition to these membrane materials, it also provides roofing products and a variety of sealants and other accessories required to create a functional waterproofing system.

The Company drilling products are used in environmental and geotechnical drilling applications, horizontal directional drilling, mineral exploration and foundation construction. The products are used to install monitoring wells, facilitate horizontal and water well drilling, and seal abandoned exploration drill holes. VOLCLAY GROUT, HYDRAUL-EZ, BENTOGROUT and VOLCLAY TABLETS are among the trade names for products used in these applications. It also offer a range of drilling products used in the excavation of foundations for large buildings, bridges and dams; these products include SHORE PAC and PREMIUM GEL. Contracting services, which involve installation of products, are occasionally offered to customers for select projects.

Energy Services Segment

The Company�� energy services segment provides services to improve the production, costs, compliance, and environmental impact of activities performed in the oil and gas industry. Operating as CETCO Energy Services, it offer a range of patented technologies, products and services for all phases of oil and gas production, transportation, refining, and storage throughout the world. It provide both land-based and offshore water treatment, well testing, pipeline separation, nitrogen, coil tubing and other services to the oil and gas industry. The Company provides its services through subsidiaries located in Australia, Brazil, Malaysia, Nigeria, the United Ki! ngdom, an! d the United States, principally in the Gulf of Mexico and the surrounding on-shore area. Its principal services include water treatment, coil tubing, well testing, nitrogen services and pipeline. The Company helps customers comply with regulatory requirements by providing equipment, technologies, personnel and filtration media to treat waste water generated during oil production.

The Company's coil tubing services utilize metal piping, which comes spooled on a large reel. It provide both equipment and operating personnel to perform services ranging from acid stimulation, reverse circulation, cementing, pressure control, nitrogen injection, and other operations that involve pumping fluids into a well. Horizontal wells and shale completions are a large component of its operations. It provide equipment and personnel to help customers control well production, as well as to clean up, unload, separate, measure component flow, and dispose of fluids from oil and gas wells. Nitrogen services are provided in jetting wells that are loaded with fluid; stimulating wells, including fracturizing and acidizing; displacing completion fluids prior to perforating; inflating flotation devices for offshore installations, and pressure testing and other maintenance activities.

Transportation Segment

The Company operates a long-haul trucking business through Ameri-Co Carriers, Inc., and a freight brokerage business through Ameri-Co Logistics, Inc. primarily for delivery of finished products throughout the continental United States. These services are provided to its subsidiaries, as well as third-party customers.

Advisors' Opinion:
  • [By Seth Jayson]

    AMCOL International (NYSE: ACO  ) is expected to report Q2 earnings on July 26. Here's what Wall Street wants to see:

    The 10-second takeaway
    Comparing the upcoming quarter to the prior-year quarter, average analyst estimates predict AMCOL International's revenues will grow 1.6% and EPS will wither -16.9%.

Top 10 Construction Material Stocks To Watch Right Now: Ply Gem Holdings Inc (PGEM)

Ply Gem Holdings, Inc. (Ply Gem Holdings), incorporated on January 23, 2004, is a manufacturer of residential exterior building products in North America. The Company operates in two segments: Siding, Fencing, and Stone and Windows and Doors. These two segments produce a product line of vinyl siding, designer accents, cellular polyvinyl chloride (PVC) trim, vinyl fencing, vinyl and composite railing, stone veneer and vinyl windows and doors used in both new construction and home repair and remodeling in the United States and Western Canada. It also manufactures vinyl and aluminum soffit and siding accessories, aluminum trim coil, wood windows, aluminum windows, vinyl and aluminum-clad windows and steel and fiberglass doors, enabling it to bundle complementary and color-matched products and accessories with its core products. The Company�� subsidiaries includes including Ply Gem Industries, MWM Holding, AWC Holding Company, MHE, and Pacific Windows. On July 30, 2012, Ply Gem acquired substantially all of the assets of Greendeck Products, LLC.

Siding, Fencing, and Stone Segment

In the Siding, Fencing, and Stone segment, its principal products include vinyl siding and skirting, vinyl and aluminum soffit, aluminum trim coil, J-channels, wide crown molding, window and door trim, F-channels, H-molds, fascia, undersill trims, outside/inside corner posts, rain removal systems, injection molded designer accents, such as shakes, shingles, scallops, shutters, vents and mounts, vinyl fence, vinyl and composite railing, and stone veneer. It sells its siding and accessories under its Variform, Napco, Mastic Home Exteriors, and Cellwood brand names and under the Georgia-Pacific brand name through a private label program. It also sells its Providence line of vinyl siding and accessories to Lowe�� under its Durabuilt private label brand name. Its vinyl and vinyl-composite fencing and railing products are sold under its Kroy and Kroy Express brand names. Ply Gem Holdings stone veneer produ! cts are sold under its United Stone Veneer brand name.

The Company sells the siding and accessories to specialty distributors (one-step distribution) and to wholesale distributors (two-step distribution). Its specialty distributors sell directly to remodeling contractors and builders. Its wholesale distributors sell to retail home centers and lumberyards who, in turn, sell to remodeling contractors, builders and consumers. In the specialty channel, it has developed a network of approximately 800 independent distributors, serving over 22,000 contractors and builders nationwide.

Windows and Doors Segment

In the Windows and Doors segment, its principal products include vinyl, aluminum, wood and clad-wood windows and patio doors, and steel, wood, and fiberglass entry doors that serve both the new home construction and the repair and remodeling sectors in the United States and Western Canada. Its products in its Windows and Doors segment are sold under the Ply Gem Windows, Great Lakes Mastic by Ply Gem, and Ply Gem Canada brands.

The Company competes with Alsco, Gentek, U.S. Fence, Homeland, Westech, Bufftech, Royal, Azek., Eldorado Stone, Coronado Stone, Jeld-Wen, Simonton, Pella and Andersen, MI Home Products, Atrium, Weathershield, Milgard, Jeld-Wen, Gienow, All Weather and Loewen.

Advisors' Opinion:
  • [By Traders Reserve]

    There hasn�� been a January effect rally in shares of Ply Gem (PGEM). In fact, it has been quite the opposite. Shares are down a whopping 25% during the month. For a stock I rated as on of the Top 10 Sizzling Stocks, such a move is painful, but not disastrous. Sizzling Stocks are meant to be held for the duration of the year and we have 11 months to go. Small-cap stocks like Ply Gem can move sharply one direction or the other.

  • [By Lisa Levin]

    Ply Gem Holdings (NYSE: PGEM) shares reached a new 52-week low of $11.48 after the company reported wider-than-expected Q4 loss and issued a weak Q1 revenue forecast.

  • [By Matt Jarzemsky]

    Installed Building Products��debut follows mixed performance from shares of some newly public building-products companies. Through Tuesday, siding manufacturer Ply Gem Holdings Inc.(PGEM)�� shares were down 39% from the offer price in its $381 May debut. Wood-products maker Boise Cascade Co.(BCC) was up 46% from its $284 million February IPO.

Top 10 Construction Material Stocks To Watch Right Now: Holcim Ltd (HOLN)

Holcim Ltd (Holcim) is a Switzerland-based holding company that specializes in the manufacture, distribution and marketing of building materials. The Company operates four business segments, including Cement, Aggregates, Other construction materials and services, and Corporate. The Cement segment is engaged in the development of cement and comprises clinker and other cementitious materials, among others. The Aggregates business segment includes crushed stone, gravel and sand. The Other construction materials and services business segment comprises ready-mix concrete, concrete products, asphalt, construction and paving, and trading, among others. Additionally, other construction materials and services segment provides environmental services, including waste management, among others. The Corporate segment is engaged in holding activities and general management. It operates through subsidiaries in Asia Pacific, Latin America, Europe, North America, Africa and Middle East regions. Advisors' Opinion:
  • [By Sofia Horta e Costa]

    Holcim Ltd. (HOLN) lost 0.9 percent to 68.15 francs in Zurich. Bank of America Corp.�� Merrill Lynch unit cut its rating on the world�� largest cement maker to underperform, similar to a sell recommendation, from neutral. Merrill Lynch cited the company�� exposure to emerging markets.

Top 10 Construction Material Stocks To Watch Right Now: Societe Libanaise des Ciments Blancs SAL (CBN)

Societe Libanaise des Ciments Blancs SAL is a Lebanon-based joint stock company that operates in the construction materials industry sector. The Company is engaged in the production and sale of white cement. The Company is a 65.99% owned by Holcim (Liban) SAL. Advisors' Opinion:
  • [By CanadianValue]

    Nigeria�� reformed banking system has provided many foreigners with an attractive means to invest in the fast-growing domestic economy. The banking industry is important, not only because of the rise of microfinance, but because of the move by banks into consumer banking. Until recently, banks were mainly financing large businesses or the government through bond purchases. Following a banking crisis in 2008, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) conducted an audit of the commercial banking sector. All banks that failed the audit had their CEOs replaced. The state-owned Asset Management Corporation (AMCON) was created to purchase non-performing loans and recapitalize the unhealthy banks. A recent review of the country�� banks by the IMF showed a dramatic increase in profits for the industry in 2012, while the capital adequacy ratio was above the minimum requirement of 10% and non-performing loans were below the mandated threshold of 5%5.

Top 10 Construction Material Stocks To Watch Right Now: Texas Industries Inc (TXI)

Texas Industries, Inc., incorporated on April 19, 1951, is a supplier of construction materials in the southwestern United States. The Company operates in three segments: cement, aggregates and consumer products. Its cement segment produces gray portland cement and specialty cements. The Company�� cement production and distribution facilities are concentrated primarily in Texas and California. Its aggregates segment produces natural aggregates, including sand, gravel and crushed limestone. The Company�� consumer products segment produces ready-mix concrete. It is also a supplier of natural aggregates and ready-mix concrete in Texas and northern Louisiana and in Oklahoma and Arkansas. As of May 31, 2013, the Company had 123 manufacturing facilities in five states.

Cement Segment

The Company produces specialty cements, such as masonry and oil well cements. Its cement production facilities are located at Midlothian, Texas, south of Dallas/Fort Worth, Hunter, Texas, between Austin and San Antonio, and Oro Grande, California, near Los Angeles. It also operates a cement terminal and packaging facility at its Crestmore plant near Riverside, California, and the Company operates its gray portland cement grinding facility on an as needed basis. During the fiscal year ended May 31, 2013 (fiscal 2013), it produced approximately 4.3 million tons of finished cement. The Company shipped approximately 4.4 million tons during fiscal 2013, of which 3.8 million tons were shipped to outside trade customers.

Aggregates Segment

The Company�� operations are conducted from facilities primarily serving the Dallas/Fort Worth and Austin areas in Texas; the southern Oklahoma area, and the Alexandria and Monroe areas in Louisiana. The Company produced approximately 14.2 million tons of natural aggregates during fiscal 2013. It shipped approximately 14.8 million tons of natural aggregates during fiscal 2013, of which 11.3 million tons were shipped to outside trade customers! . The Company shipped approximately 1.0 million cubic yards of lightweight aggregates during fiscal 2013, of which approximately 0.9 million cubic yards were shipped to outside trade customers.

Consumer Products Segment

The Company�� ready-mix concrete operations are situated in three areas in Texas (the Dallas/Fort Worth/Denton area of north Texas, the Austin area of central Texas and from Beaumont to Texarkana in east Texas), in north and central Louisiana, and in southwestern Arkansas. It is also a 40% partner in a joint venture that has ready mix concrete operations in the northern part of central Texas area centered around Waco, Texas. It shipped approximately 2.8 million cubic yards of ready-mix concrete during fiscal 2013. The Company manufacture and supply a substantial amount of the cement and aggregates raw materials used by our ready-mix plants. The Company also marketed its Maximizer packaged concrete mixes in southern California.

Advisors' Opinion:
  • [By Holly LaFon]

    Competitively advantaged holdings continued to demonstrate the value of moats at FedEx (FDX), Melco, and Texas Industries (TXI). These holdings were among our largest contributors to performance, and they exemplify activity prevalent across most of our holdings throughout the year.

  • [By Ben Levisohn]

    Shares of Vulcan have gained 7.6%, and given a lift to other cement makers today, including Martin Marietta Materials (MLM), which has risen 4.9% and reports earnings on Thursday, Cemex (CX), which has advanced 1.5%, and Texas Industries (TXI), which is up 4.9%.

  • [By Monica Gerson]

    Texas Industries (NYSE: TXI) is expected to post its Q1 earnings at $0.01 per share on revenue of $233.63 million.

    National American University Holdings (NASDAQ: NAUH) is projected to post a Q1 loss at $0.01 per share on revenue of $30.58 million.

  • [By Ben Fox Rubin]

    Building materials company Texas Industries Inc.(TXI) is considering a sale, Bloomberg News reported, citing three people familiar with knowledge of the matter. Shares of the company jumped 12% premarket to $65.50.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Will Manulife Recover from Its Rough Patch and Yield Profits?

Manulife Financial Corporation (MFC) is the largest Canadian life insurer by market capitalization, offering asset management, wealth management and financial services to customers in Asia, Canada and the U.S. However, the company's annuity and segregated fund business has suffered over the past two years, due to the low interest rate environment, leading to a decline in earnings and operating results. Nonetheless, the firm has been undergoing some changes throughout 2013 and management expects profitability to increase for fiscal 2014, despite its underperformance during fourth quarter fiscal 2013. Thus, many investment gurus like George Soros (Trades, Portfolio) and Jim Simons' (Trades, Portfolio) hedge fund remain bullish about Manulife's future outlook, evidenced by their shares purchased in the past quarter.

Of Hedging and Repricing

Manulife's capital sensitivity and volatile earnings have made it difficult for the company to maintain steady growth prospects in the past, but quarter four's earnings report showed improvements in some aspects, especially regarding EPS growth, which jumped 73% year over year, closing at $1.62 per share. This is largely due to the company's recent strategy of hedging two-thirds of its variable annuity business, and looking forward all newly written businesses in this segment will be hedged. Furthermore, the firm has been gradually trading most of its short-term bonds for long-term bonds, which will improve the bond duration of its investment portfolio, thereby reducing earning sensitivity. While insurance sales were weak for 2013, declining 13% from 2012 and 32% year over year for the quarter, Manulife's shift towards expanding its wealth management business (wealth sales increased 37% over the past fiscal year) and mutual fund sales should help offset declines in the future.


In fact, today the company announced that it will be launching a new universal life product for the Canadian market called Manulife UL by May 26 of this year. The new product will offer cost-effective insurance protection, as well as the opportunity for tax-advantaged investing, catering to customer's demands for a more simplified insurance solution, which should help boost sales to some extent. Although the firm's balance sheet is highly leveraged, exposing it to possible damages in the case of higher-than-expected policy liabilities, Manulife's capital position has improved substantially over the past year. With a ratio of regulatory capital to capital required at 248%, the firm possesses excessive capital levels, well above competitors like Prudential Public Limited Company (ADR) (PUK), China Life Insurance Company Ltd. (ADR) (LFC), and Sun Life Financial Inc. (USA) (SLF), which all sport a 200% ratio. Moreover, the company's excessive capital should allow it to maintain the above average dividend yield of 2.66% offered to shareholders.


Over the next five years growth in the Asian market will likely boost the overall modest premium growth rate, averaging it at 2%, while the total revenue CAGR recovers to 3% after the steep declines reported since 2012. Furthermore, Manulife's ROE will continue its current upward trend, increasing from 2013's 10.9% to an average 12% by 2018, accompanied by the steadily expanding net margins of 16.8%. While it will take some time for the company's growth to accelerate, I feel bullish about management's optimism regarding its business shift, and see the dividend yield and returns on equity as solid benefits for a long term investment. Moreover, the firm is currently trading at a 10% price discount relative to the industry average of 14.0x, making it a relatively inexpensive buy.

Disclosure: Patricio Kehoe holds no position in any stocks mentioned.

Also check out: George Soros Undervalued Stocks George Soros Top Growth Companies George Soros High Yield stocks, and Stocks that George Soros keeps buyingAbout the author:Patricio KehoeA fundamental analyst at Lone Tree Analytics
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Saturday, April 26, 2014

Dow Down 25 as Caterpillar Stock Drags on Market

Wall Street is doing that thing again. You know, when good economic news sparks a sell-off because investors worry the news is too good? When the data is too good, the theory goes, it gives the Fed more reason to ease up on the money printing. And what can be better for stocks than constant money printing? That line of thinking was partially responsible for today's pullback on the heels of new-home sales in June, which grew at the highest rate in more than five years. 

That said, there was a modicum of more straightforward logic behind today's slump: Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) component Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT  ) issued a gloomy outlook for the coming year and disappointed on earnings. The Dow ended with 25-point, or 0.2%, losses, closing at 15,542.

As for the index's outperformers, Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ  ) ended atop the index, gaining 1.5% Wednesday. It's the third straight day of gains for the stock since its 4.5% slump on Friday, when Microsoft's dismal quarter punished HP, an innocent bystander to Microsoft's woes. Today, however, shareholders would be rewarded by the success of a tech peer, as Apple's earnings beat essentially lifted the entire technology sector.

American Express (NYSE: AXP  ) , like HP, posted a large single-day loss last week and is beginning to claw its way higher this week. The stock added 1.3% today, as Fitch Ratings shared what must have been a relieving insight for American Express shareholders. The reason the stock suddenly dropped last week was due to rumors of an EU Commission proposal that would cap interchange fees on card transactions. Today, the draft proposal was officially unveiled, and the ratings agency said the regulations would only minimally affect AmEx's profitability.

Hot Services Stocks To Buy Right Now

Bank of America (NYSE: BAC  ) lost 1.5% today, despite the fact that its board of directors approved a regular $0.01 quarterly dividend payment to common stock shareholders. You'd think investors would be jumping for joy with that guaranteed penny-a-quarter cash flow, but apparently that didn't cut it. It may be because the bank also just agreed to sell a total of 28 branches in New York and Pennsylvania to two smaller banks, reducing its exposure to important markets.

Lastly, the Dow laggard of the day, Caterpillar, shed 2.4% as earnings cratered 43% in the second quarter. Worst of all, the company hinted that poor financial performance was likely to continue with low commodities prices and decelerating Chinese growth combining to paint a bleak picture for the machinery giant. Not helping the situation were fresh numbers suggesting Chinese manufacturing is on the decline.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Stocks Slide as Ukraine Tensions Rise; Pandora, Ford Disappoint

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- U.S. markets traded lower Friday amid rising tension in Ukraine, while companies from Pandora (P) to Ford (F) disappointed on the earnings front. Consumer sentiment beat expectations, though service sector growth slowed. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.81% to 16,361.78, while the S&P 500 lost 0.81% to 1,863.41. The Nasdaq tumbled 1.75% to 4,075.56. The Dow, S&P and Nasdaq for the entire trading week declined 0.29%, 0.08% and 0.49%, respectively. Amazon (AMZN) lost nearly 10% after reporting first-quarter revenue of $19.74 billion, a 22.8% increase from the year-earlier quarter. Amazon forecast an operating loss for the second quarter as it continues to invest heavily both internationally and at home. Ford was down 3.13% after missing first-quarter earnings estimates by 6 cents at 25 cents a share. Visa was off 4.4% after it expressed caution about a slowdown in revenue growth in the current quarter. Domestic economic reports were mixed. The U.S. services sector expanded at a slower rate in April, with Markit announcing its flash services PMI hit 54.2, down from March's reading of 55.3. Consumer sentiment beat expectations to rise to 84.1 in April from a March level of 80, according to the University of Michigan and Thomson Reuters. It was the highest reading since last July. Ukraine is making the headlines following fatalities that resulted from a clash between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russia protestors. The surge in violence triggered concerns about Russia intervention, as Russia responded with new military exercises near the Ukrainian border shortly after the deadly clash. Simultaneously, the U.S. reasserted the possibility of carrying out harsher sanctions on Russia. Standard & Poor's Ratings Services slashed its rating on Russia to one notch above junk, factoring in large capital outflows in the first quarter. Russia's central bank hiked interest rates to 7.5% Friday as it faces heightened inflation risks. In other news, the U.S. and Japan failed to make a deal on free trade. Microsoft (MSFT) rose 0.13% after reporting better-than-expected fiscal third-quarter earnings and in-line revenue amid a surge in Azure, Office 365 and Surface sales. Starbucks (SBUX) climbed 0.51% after posting in-line fiscal second-quarter earnings on Thursday, helped by lower coffee costs, but revenue fell short of Wall Street's estimates. Colgate-Palmolive (CL) said first-quarter earnings fell 16% as an exchange rate charge offset a slight lift in sales. Colgate shares were 0.29% lower. Stock losers included Masco (MAS) and Pandora (P) which fell 7.4% and 16.6%, respectively. Masco, an installer of home insulation, reported first-quarter earnings which missed estimates by a wide margin. Pandora's profit forecast also fell short of expectations after the company said it would bolster spending on marketing. In international markets the Hang Seng closed 1.50% lower while the Nikkei gained 0.17%. Germany's DAX dropped 1.54% while the U.K. FTSE was 0.25% lower.

Top 5 Dow Dividend Companies To Buy Right Now

-- By Jane Searle, Andrea Tse and Joe Deaux in New York

Stock quotes in this article: ^DJI, ^GSPC, ^IXIC, F, V, MSFT, AMZN, SBUX, CL 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Intel Takes a Hit

The following video is from Thursday's Investor Beat, in which host Chris Hill, and analysts Bill Barker and Charly Travers, dissect the hardest-hitting investing stories of the day.

Despite Intel (NASDAQ: INTC  ) posting a second-quarter profit of $2 billion, the stock took a hit today after the company lowered its full-year guidance. In our lead story today, Bill and Charly discuss how Intel missed its chance at the first-mover advantage in mobile, and whether the stock looks like a buy today.

It's incredible to think just how much of our digital and technological lives are almost entirely shaped and molded by just a handful of companies. Find out "Who Will Win the War Between the 5 Biggest Tech Stocks?" in The Motley Fool's latest free report, which details the knock-down, drag-out battle being waged by the five kings of tech. Click here to keep reading.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Why a Client̢۪s Job and Location Are Critical to Portfolio Building

There’s more to an investor’s total economic worth than stock and bonds, according to a new paper by two Morningstar researchers.

“Other assets, such as human capital, real estate and pensions, often represent a significant portion of an investor’s total wealth, but are not frequently considered when building portfolios despite the fact that they share common risks with financial assets,” David Blanchett, head of retirement research, said in a statement.

Blanchett and Philip Straehl, senior research consultant and portfolio manager, coauthored the study, which shows that industry-specific human capital, region-specific housing wealth and pensions have statistically significant exposures to certain asset classes and risk factors.

Investors should consider these factors when building portfolios, the authors assert. This would, of course, also apply to their financial advisors.

Through a series of optimizations, the researchers compared the asset allocation differences between portfolios that were optimized only for financial assets versus ones that considered total wealth.

They determined that the optimal allocation varied materially when vocation, location and pension benefits were considered, with average asset class differences exceeding 20%.

Blanchett and Straehl also found that given the bond-like nature of human capital (which they defined as the total economic value of an individual’s set of skills and talents), portfolios that incorporated this asset tended to have lower allocations to intermediate- and long-term bonds and higher allocations to large-growth U.S. equities and commodities.

They also found that investors who worked in the manufacturing, utilities and government sectors saw the largest changes to their optimal portfolios after the researchers factored industry-specific human capital into the asset allocation optimization.

Best Shipping Stocks To Own Right Now

Their total-wealth-optimized portfolios were significantly more aggressive than average, largely because of lower human capital volatility in these professions.

Housing wealth had less effect on the optimal asset allocation than industry-specific human capital, but still played an important role, according to the research.

Of the 10 cities studied, homeowners in Las Vegas had the largest changes to their optimal portfolios after the researchers factored regional-specific housing wealth into the portfolio.

Their total-wealth optimized portfolios were generally more conservative than average given the historically volatile Las Vegas housing market, and had larger allocations to high-yield and non-U.S. bonds as well as small-cap value equities.

Blanchett and Straehl found that because industry-specific human capital had such a significant influence on the optimal portfolio, younger investors who naturally had higher levels of human capital saw larger changes to their portfolios than older investors when total wealth was considered in the optimization.

“Each investor’s situation is unique, and his or her financial portfolio should reflect those distinct risk factors,” Straehl said in the statement.

For example, he said, a Texas banker’s human capital and real estate wealth are tied to the financial and energy sectors as well as to large-cap value stocks, so the banker would want to reduce exposure to those asset classes in his financial portfolio.

“Our findings have important implications for individual and custom target-date model portfolio construction, and suggest that techniques that ignore human capital and outside assets are insufficient,” Straehl said.

“A holistic definition of wealth is necessary to build truly efficient portfolios.”


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

How Grocery Delivery Can Save You Time and Money

Online Start-Up Helps To Deliver Fresh Food To New Yorkers Mario Tama/Getty Images

When my husband and I lived in New York City, we became spoiled. Every two weeks, a truck would show up to our second-floor walkup, and a strapping young man would deliver fresh groceries to our door. How did we get sucked into such a luxury? FirstDirect, the city's top grocery deliverer, was offering a promo for first-time customers, and Johnny and I decided to give it a try. We found that promo or not, having our groceries delivered was comparable and often cheaper than shopping at our local grocers. No more carrying groceries five blocks as each of our fingers slowly lost circulation? Yes, please. While grocery delivery may currently only be the norm in metro areas, soon it may be an option for you. And you. And you. (AMZN) and Walmart Stores (WMT) have recently joined the grocery delivery industry. While AmazonFresh was only available in Seattle just a year ago, it has now expanded to San Francisco and Los Angeles. Before you shrug this off as a modern-day fairytale (delivery by drone?) or just an unnecessary extravagance, consider the following reasons grocery delivery could save you money -- and most definitely time: No More Impulse or Distracted Purchases Oreos on a screen are much less tempting than an actual package in a grocery store. Marketers spend millions of dollars figuring out the most effective ways of tempting you while you browse the aisles. By shopping online, you can stay focused on the shopping list. And you won't have a toddler screaming and grabbing items off the shelf as you struggle to compare prices on salad dressing.

Top 5 Performing Stocks To Watch Right Now

Comparable Prices However unbelievable it may seem, prices for delivered groceries tend to be comparable to local grocers. And just like local grocers, delivery services offer coupons, weekly specials and price matching. Some companies even waive the delivery fee once your total reaches a certain amount. My husband and I made a habit of only ordering if we had a coupon for free delivery, which happened regularly. No Travel Expenses Grocery delivery eliminates the costs incurred for traveling to and from the grocery store, which means no more money spent on gasoline or a cab fare. And the opportunity cost of avoiding the grocery store means you can do your shopping while watching Jimmy Fallon at night. Knowing the Total Before You Buy I try to add up how much my groceries are going to cost as I shop in brick-and-mortar stores, but inevitably I lose count or get distracted. With online grocery shopping, you can see the total before you confirm your order. And that means you can check and double check whether each item is really necessary. It's both more difficult and less likely to go back on purchases that have already been rung up by a cashier. While currently only a handful of cities have grocery delivery, within the next 10 years, it might be an option for most of the country. And when that day comes, you can bet that my wallet and I will be first in virtual line to have groceries delivered to our door, drone and all.

Monday, April 21, 2014

How to Cash In on Rare Coins

Who says a dollar doesn’t buy what it used to?

Heritage Auctions sold an 1804 U.S. silver dollar for $3.9 million less than a year ago.

As is the case with many rare coins, the silver dollar has a fascinating backstory. According to the Dallas-based company, the coin was actually made in 1834 or 1835 despite the 1804 date. U.S. State Department representatives used the coin as a diplomatic gift on trade missions to the Middle East and Asia.

It is one of only eight of its kind and is considered one of the most prized U.S. coins.

Collectible coins can be a fun and potentially profitable way for investors to diversify traditional investment portfolios.

The emphasis should be on the “potential” nature of profits and the longer-term perspective these investments require. Like other collectibles, coins involve dealer markups and price volatility.

The Professional Coin Grading Service 3000 price index, which includes multiple component-coins, peaked at $181,000 in May 1989 before dropping precipitously to about $47,000 in December 1994. Prices recovered somewhat, but the financial crisis knocked the index back from about $73,000 in late 2008 to roughly $67,000 in mid-2012.

The benchmark  now trades at around $67,740, slightly off its 12-month high of 67,935.

The current market looks healthy, says Chris Lane, general manager of numismatics with Heritage Auctions. In addition to Heritage’s successful auctions featuring rare coins, he points to the very strong demand for the U.S. Mint’s March sale of Baseball Hall of Fame coins as an example of market strength.

These coins have a unique curved shape to match the struck baseball glove and the $5 gold coins sold out immediately. According to a report on the Coin World website, these coins originally sold for $420 are now selling in the eBay secondary market for about $700.

The challenge for any collector, especially newcomers, is knowing how to buy quality coins at reasonable prices. Working with reputable dealers is a safer option than going it alone, and grading services can provide quality assurance.

The Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) and the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) both rate coins’ quality. Industry professionals consider these ratings essential for collectors.

Ron Drzewucki, CEO of Modern Coin Wholesale in Lakewood Ranch, Fla., says that accurate grading is critical for proper valuation. A one-grade differential between two identical coins can have a significant impact on their relative market prices, he notes.

Lane concurs and cautions collectors about buying uncertified coins. “I would say stick with those two services (NCG and PCGS),” he explained in an interview. “At the very best, you’re going to buy coins that have been professionally graded and they’ve been looked at by professional numismatists.”

According to the expert, these two groups are “the gold standard in the industry. That way you don’t buy an uncertified or what we call in the industry a raw coin. You’ve got to think the first thing if somebody offers you a coin that’s not certified, why after almost 30 years of these two companies in business, why wouldn’t somebody with a very rare valuable coin not have it certified? That should raise the red flags immediately.”

Collectors need to do their homework before trading, he and other numismatic professionals emphasize. Otherwise, they’re at a serious information disadvantage.

The good news is that there are an estimated 7 million to 10 million coin collectors in the U.S., and that market has helped create an industry to serve them.

Available resources include guidebooks, price guides, websites, magazines and databases of dealer auction transactions. 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Fed Is Losing Control

 It's been a rough six weeks for bond investors.   Since hitting a low of 2.8% in early May, the yield on the 30-year U.S. Treasury bond has spiked higher to more than 3.3%.   And as interest rates go up, bond prices fall...   You can see the effect in the iShares Barclays 20+ Year Treasury Bond Fund (TLT)...     TLT is down more than 9% in just the past month and a half. It's now trading at its lowest price in the past year.    And as rough as it has been for bond investors, the Fed is suffering worse. You see, for more than four years now, the Fed – through its multiple quantitative easing programs – has been the world's biggest buyer of Treasury bonds. So now with interest rates on the rise, the Fed is underwater on all of the purchases it made over the past year.   Not only is the Fed printing money to buy up U.S. Treasury debt – a stupid thing to do anyway – it's now losing money on the bonds it bought.   And by the look of the following chart, it may be about to get much worse...     Since last August, rates have been steadily working higher in a series of higher highs and higher lows. That's a rising-channel pattern (the blue lines)... and it's the definition of an uptrend.   The chart is now approaching resistance at about 3.5% (the first red line). The previous two times it touched that line occurred when rates were in a downtrend and momentum was working in favor of lower rates. The resistance line held and prevented interest rates from rising more.   Today, the momentum is in favor of higher rates. The chart might not break through resistance on this current attempt since it's already extended. But if the chart pulls back and forms another higher high, rates will likely break out to the upside on the next rally attempt.   The next resistance level is all the way up around 4.4%. At that point, the Fed will be losing money on most of the bonds it purchased over the past four years. That's not a good track record.   I suspect Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke will do everything in his power to keep rates from rising. So don't look for any tapering of quantitative easing any time soon... no matter what Bernanke says.   But in the end, the market is just too big to control. Maybe that's what the action over the past six weeks is trying to tell us.   – Jeff Clark

Saturday, April 19, 2014

American Investors Bullish on U.S. Equities

Eighty-six percent of affluent U.S. investors were optimistic about investments, according to a Legg Mason survey published this week.

Seventy-four percent of investors thought that U.S. equities offered the best opportunities in 2014.

Respondents were less enthusiastic about international equities, favored by 53% of those surveyed, followed by real estate (38%), gold or other precious metals (33%), U.S. bonds (31%), cash (28%), nontraditional investments (24%) and international bonds (19%).

These were the average asset allocation among affluent investors in the survey:

Although the majority of investors said they would maintain their asset allocation over the next 12 months, 25% said they would increase their allocation to equities and another 25% said they would increase their allocation to cash.

“There is a promising amount of optimism among U.S. investors, and much of it is focusing on U.S. equities,” Matthew Schiffman, managing director and head of global marketing at Legg Mason Global Asset Management, said in a statement.

“This is consistent with our global research conclusions, and bodes very well for the U.S. equity markets should investor optimism ring true.”

Northstar Research Partners conducted an online survey for Legg Mason in December and January of 4,320 investors with a minimum of $200,000 in assets in 20 countries, including 500 respondents in the U.S.

The survey found women in the U.S. to be more conservative than men in their asset allocations.

Women allocated 38% to equities, versus 43% for men; 24% to cash or cash equivalent, versus 20% for men; and 22% to fixed income, versus men’s 20%.

Legg Mason noted that the equity allocation among investors 65 to 75 years old was greater than that of investors aged 55 to 64, and not far from the equity allocation of investors aged 40 to 54 years of age.

Sources of Anxiety and Opportunity

Forty-four percent of investors in the survey feared that low U.S. economic growth could derail investment markets.

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Thirty-six percent worried about the possible deleterious effects of inflation, 34% about low interest rates/yields, 32% about reduced economic stimulus in the U.S. and 31% about an increasing tax burden.

More than three-quarters of respondents said they invested on average 14% of their portfolio internationally. Younger investors, in the 40-to-54 age group, allocated 17% of assets to international investments, while those older than 65 allocated just 10%.

Emerging markets attracted 57% of those who invested internationally, or would consider doing so over the next 12 months.

They said these countries offered the best opportunities:

Legg Mason found that the role of income continued to be an important component of investor portfolios and investment strategies, as 58% of U.S. investors said income-generating investments were a priority.

The gap between the 8.3% rate of return investors sought to receive from their income-producing investments and the 6.4% real rate of return they received narrowed 50 basis points compared with 2013. U.S. Versus the World

American investors had a far larger average equity allocation, 41%, than investors in any of the other 19 surveyed countries (Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, China, Colombia, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, U.K.).  

British investors were second with an average equity allocation 31%, followed Swedes at 29% and Australians at 26%.

U.S. investors appeared to have a less “aggressive” overall risk tolerance when investing than their counterparts in other countries.

Thirty-five percent of American respondents considered themselves aggressive, compared with 38% of Chinese investors and 37% of Swedish ones.

The average 8.3% rate of return U.S. investors were seeking on their income-producing investments fell far short of the top five countries.

On average, investors in Colombia are looking for 11%, in Mexico 10.5%, in Chile 10.4%, in China 10.4% and in South Korea 9.5%.


Friday, April 18, 2014

Average 30-year mortgage rate falls to 4.27%

WASHINGTON (AP) — Average U.S. rates on fixed mortgages fell this week for the second straight week as the spring home-buying season begins.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the average rate for the 30-year loan fell to 4.27% from 4.34% last week. The average for the 15-year mortgage eased to 3.33% from 3.38%.

Mortgage rates have risen about a full percentage point since hitting record lows about a year ago.

Many analysts have been expecting an improving economy to lift the housing market, which has been recovering over the past two years. But housing has struggled to maintain momentum. Rising home prices and higher mortgage rates have held back some potential home buyers. Others have had trouble qualifying for mortgages.

The Commerce Department reported Wednesday that U.S. home construction rose moderately in March as builders resumed work at the end of a frigid winter. But applications for building permits slid, clouding the outlook for future construction.

The increase in mortgage rates over the year was driven by speculation that the Federal Reserve would reduce its $85 billion-a-month bond purchases, which have helped keep long-term interest rates low. Indeed, the Fed has announced three $10 billion declines in its monthly bond purchases since December. The latest plan is to cut its monthly long-term bond purchases to $55 billion because it thinks the economy is steadily healing.

The Fed also said after its two-day policy meeting last month that even after it raises short-term interest rates, the job market strengthens and inflation rises, the central bank expects its benchmark short-term rate to stay unusually low.

Fed Chair Janet Yellen, in her first major speech on Fed policy, said Wednesday that the U.S. job market still needs help from the central bank and that it must remain intent on adjusting its policy to respond to unforeseen challenges.

Yellen also made clear she believes the still-subpar economic recovery will continue to nee! d the help of low rates for some time. An increase in short-term interest rates would elevate borrowing costs and could hurt stock prices.

To calculate average mortgage rates, Freddie Mac surveys lenders across the country between Monday and Wednesday each week. The average doesn't include extra fees, known as points, which most borrowers must pay to get the lowest rates. One point equals 1 percent of the loan amount.

The average fee for a 30-year mortgage was unchanged at 0.7 point. The fee for a 15-year loan remained at 0.6 point.

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The average rate on a one-year adjustable-rate mortgage rose to 2.44% from 2.41%. The average fee held steady at 0.5 point.

The average rate on a five-year adjustable mortgage fell to 3.03% from 3.09%. The fee was unchanged at 0.5 point.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

First Take: Google gobbles up online ad business

SAN FRANCISCO — Google's latest financial results, released late Wednesday, suggest the Internet search giant is doing to other online ad sellers what it's already done to the print publishing industry: wrestling away an ever-larger share of advertising growth and driving ad rates inexorably lower.

The company's quarterly net income and profit margin show that the nascent-but-exploding trend of so-called programmatic display ad buying is helping to pour cash into Google's coffers like a fire hose.

The company generated a staggering $4.1 billion in operating income and $3.45 billion in net profit for the three months ended March 31, as revenue rose 19% and Google's number of paid search clicks surged 26% from a year earlier.

NEWS: Google shares plunge after earnings miss

At the same time, its so-called cost-per-click metric, which measures the price trajectory of its search ads, fell 9%, continuing a multi-year trend.

The CPC decline once spooked those on Wall Street who asked how long Google's double-digit revenue growth could last if the price of its core product falls from 5% to 10% every quarter.

John Shinal, technology columnist for USA TODAY.(Photo: USA TODAY)

The answer is that Google can make up with massive volume whatever price efficiency its own algorithm can wring out of the online ad business.

Now, the search-software leader is applying its ad-software expertise to the buying and selling of so-called display ads, including text and video ads shown on Android-powered mobile devices.

The resulting price pressure is pinching revenue growth at other Web publishers, even as growth on Google's own sites hums along.

In the first quarter, ad revenue on the company's ! own Web pages rose 21% from a year earlier, while revenue at its network partners rose a mere 4% on that basis.

It was the third-consecutive quarter in which Google's own year-over-year ad revenue growth was more than 20%, while its network partners' growth was less than 5%.

No surprise, then, that the cost Google pays to acquire Web traffic from others fell to 23.3% of revenue — the lowest percentage in at least three years, according to the company's securities filings.

Meanwhile, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer said Tuesday her company's traffic-acquisition costs are expected to rise this year.

It's hard to compete with software that gives online advertisers more clicks per ad and more ads per dollar every year.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Top Freight Companies To Own For 2015

By Stuart Burns

Well, it was going to happen sooner or later, wasn't it?

After vilification from just about everyone, the LME will now probably face competition from a rival with the infrastructure - the CME Group Inc. - to create a viable alternative to the LME's aluminum contract. The LME has seen the brunt of mounting criticism from just about all quarters, blamed for all the wrongs of the aluminum market (not least of which transparency of who holds aluminum positions.)

The aluminum contract is considered to be out of touch and unrepresentative of true market prices, according to major producers such as Alcoa. Exit queues of greater than 100 days, in some locations 200 days, mean the market has long since ceased to be a viable source for consumers and only has value to producers in as much as freight incentives offered by warehouse operators have pushed up the physical delivery premiums.

These price premiums bring much needed additional revenue to producers able to secure the premium in their sales - not always an easy exercise for vertically integrated smelters that struggle to pass on the premium to consumers of semi-finished products.

Top Freight Companies To Own For 2015: Agility Public Warehousing Co KSC (AGLTY)

Agility Public Warehousing Company KSC is a Kuwait-based company engaged, along with its subsidiaries, in the provision of global integrated logistics solutions. The Company is organized into two business segments: the Logistic and Related services segment provides logistics offering to its clients, including freight forwarding, transportation, contract logistics, project logistics and fairs and events logistics, and the Infrastructure segment provides other services, which include industrial real estate airport and airplane ground handling and cleaning services, customs consulting, private equity and waste recycling. The Company operates under the brand name of Agility. The Company�� subsidiaries include Global Express Transport Co. WLL, PWC Transport Company WLL, Agility DGS Logistics Services KSCC and Gulf Catering Company for General, among others. Advisors' Opinion:
  • [By Fiona MacDonald]

    The Kuwait SE Price Index rose for a sixth day, climbing 0.5 percent to 6,851.17 at the close. Kuwait Real Estate Co. (KRE) climbed to the highest level in a month. Agility (AGLTY) advanced 1.7 percent after winning a $190 million UN contract in Sudan�� Darfur region. The Bloomberg GCC 200 Index, which tracks the biggest 200 companies in the Gulf Cooperation Council, fell 0.1 percent.

Top Freight Companies To Own For 2015: PostNL NV (PNL)

PostNL NV is a Netherlands-based Company active in delivery sector. The Company is engaged in the delivery of documents, small packages and standard parcels. The Company�� business is organized into three segments: Mail in the Netherlands, responsible for mail services in the Netherland, documents management, direct marketing and fulfillment services, and operating over 2,600 shop-in-shop post offices; Parcels, providing parcel services in the Netherlands and Belgium for both domestic and cross-border parcel distribution, and International, operating in the postal markets of the United Kingdom, Germany and Italy, and focusing on domestic addressed mail services. The Company also provides marketing and communication services, fulfillment solutions and e-commerce related solutions. Advisors' Opinion:
  • [By Inyoung Hwang]

    PostNL (PNL) sank 11 percent to 2.48 euros, the biggest decline since Jan. 14. The Amsterdam-based company said sales in the second-quarter were 1.03 billion euros ($1.37 billion), falling short of the 1.04 billion euros predicted by analysts on average. PostNL forecast addressed mail volume in 2013 will drop as much as 11 percent, greater than its previous forecast of no more than 10 percent.

Best Wireless Telecom Stocks To Invest In Right Now: Marten Transport Ltd (MRTN)

Marten Transport, Ltd. is a temperature-sensitive truckload carrier. The Company specializes in transporting and distributing food and other consumer packaged goods that require a temperature-controlled or insulated environment. It operates throughout the United States and in parts of Canada and Mexico. The Company operates in two segments: Truckload and Logistics. During the year ended December 31, 2011, approximately 81% of its truckload revenue resulted from hauling temperature-sensitive products and 19% from hauling dry freight. Its long-haul traffic lanes are between the Midwest and the West Coast, Southwest, Southeast, and the East Coast, as well as from California to the Pacific Northwest. It provides regional truckload carrier services in the Southeast, West Coast, Midwest, South Central and Northeast regions.

The Company derives truckload revenue from fuel surcharges, loading and unloading activities, equipment detention and other ancillary services. Its operating revenue also includes revenue reported within its Logistics segment, which consists of revenue from its internal brokerage and intermodal operations, and through its 45% interest in MW Logistics, LLC (MWL), a third-party provider of logistics services to the transportation industry. Brokerage services involve arranging for another company to transport freight for the Company�� customers, while it retains the billing, collection and customer management responsibilities. Intermodal services involve the transport of its trailers on railroad flatcars for a portion of a trip, with the balance of the trip using its tractors or, to a lesser extent, contracted carriers. It focuses on large food and consumer-packaged goods companies whose products require temperature-sensitive services and who ship multiple truckloads per week. As of December 31, 2011, its customers were General Mills and Kraft.

As of December 31, 2011, the Company operated a fleet of 2,281 tractors, including 2,233 company owned tractors and 48 t! ractors supplied by independent contractors. The average age of its company owned tractor fleet at December 31, 2011 was approximately 2.6 years. As of December 31, 2011, it operated a fleet of 4,124 trailers. Most of its trailers are equipped with Thermo-King refrigeration units, air ride suspensions and anti-lock brakes. The average age of its trailer fleet as of December 31, 2011 was approximately 2.4 years.

Advisors' Opinion:
  • [By Monica Gerson]

    Marten Transport (NASDAQ: MRTN) is estimated to post its Q3 earnings at $0.23 per share on revenue of $168.28 million.

    CSX (NYSE: CSX) is expected to post its Q3 earnings at $0.43 per share on revenue of $2.95 billion.

Top Freight Companies To Own For 2015: Con-way Inc (CNW)

Con-way Inc. (Con-way), incorporated in 1958, provides transportation, logistics and supply-chain management services for a wide range of manufacturing, industrial and retail customers. Con-way�� business units operate in regional and transcontinental less-than-truckload and full-truckload freight transportation, contract logistics and supply-chain management, multimodal freight brokerage, and trailer manufacturing. Con-way is divided into four segments: Freight, Logistics, Truckload, and Other. At December 31, 2011, Con-way Freight operated 286 freight service centers, of which 144 were owned and 142 were leased. At December 31, 2011, Con-way Freight owned and operated approximately 9,200 tractors and 26,400 trailers, including tractors held under capital lease agreements.


The Freight segment consists of the operating results of the Con-way Freight business unit. Con-way Freight is a less-than-truckload (LTL) motor carrier that utilizes a network of freight service centers to provide day-definite regional, inter-regional and transcontinental less-than-truckload freight services throughout North America. LTL carriers transport shipments from multiple shippers utilizing a network of freight service centers combined with a fleet of line-haul and pickup-and-delivery tractors and trailers. Freight is picked up from customers and consolidated for shipment at the originating service center. Freight is consolidated for transportation to the destination service centers or freight assembly centers. At Freight assembly centers, freight from various service centers can be reconsolidated for transportation to other freight assembly centers or destination service centers. From the destination service center, the freight is delivered to the customer. Typically, LTL shipments weigh between 100 and 15,000 pounds. In 2011, Con-way Freight�� average weight per shipment was 1,305 pounds.


The Logistics segment consists of the operating results o! f the Menlo Worldwide Logistics business unit. Menlo Worldwide Logistics develops contract-logistics solutions, which can include managing complex distribution networks, and providing supply-chain engineering and consulting, and multimodal freight brokerage services. Menlo Worldwide Logistics��supply-chain management offerings are primarily related to transportation-management and contract-warehousing services. Transportation management refers to the management of asset-based carriers and third-party transportation providers for customers��inbound and outbound supply-chain needs through the use of logistics management systems to consolidate, book and track shipments. Contract warehousing refers to the optimization and operation of warehouses for customers using technology and warehouse-management systems to reduce inventory carrying costs and supply-chain cycle times. For several customers, contract-warehousing operations include light assembly or kitting operations.

Menlo Worldwide Logistics provides its services using a customer- or project-based approach when the supply-chain solution requires customer-specific transportation management, single-client warehouses, and/or single-customer technological solutions. However, Menlo Worldwide Logistics also utilizes a shared-resource, process-based approach that leverages a centralized transportation-management group, multi-client warehouses and technology to provide scalable solutions to multiple customers. Additionally, Menlo Worldwide Logistics segments its business based on customer type. At December 31, 2011, Menlo Worldwide Logistics operated 76 warehouses in North America, of which 55 were leased by Menlo Worldwide Logistics and 21 were leased or owned by clients of Menlo Worldwide Logistics. Outside of North America, Menlo Worldwide Logistics operated an additional 63 warehouses, of which 48 were leased by Menlo Worldwide Logistics and 15 were leased or owned by clients. Menlo Worldwide Logistics owns and operates a small fleet of tr! actors an! d trailers to support its operations, but primarily utilizes third-party transportation providers for the movement of customer shipments.


The Truckload segment consists of the operating results of the Con-way Truckload business unit. Con-way Truckload is a full-truckload motor carrier that utilizes a fleet of tractors and trailers to provide short- and long-haul, asset-based transportation services throughout North America. Con-way Truckload provides dry-van transportation services to manufacturing, industrial and retail customers while using single drivers as well as two-person driver teams over long-haul routes, with each trailer containing only one customer�� goods. This origin-to-destination freight movement limits intermediate handling and is not dependent on the same network of locations utilized by LTL carriers. On average, Con-way Truckload transports shipments more than 800 miles from origin to destination. Under its regional service offering, Con-way Truckload transports truckload shipments of less than 600 miles, including local-area service for truckload shipments of less than 100 miles.

Con-way Truckload offers through-trailer service into and out of Mexico through all major gateways in Texas, Arizona and California. For a shipment with an origin or destination in Mexico, Con-way Truckload provides transportation for the domestic portion of the freight move, and a Mexican carrier provides the pick-up, linehaul and delivery services within Mexico. At December 31, 2011, Con-way Truckload operated five owned terminals with bulk fuel, tractor and trailer parking, and in some cases, equipment maintenance and washing facilities. In addition, Con-way Truckload also utilizes various drop yards for temporary trailer storage throughout the United States. At December 31, 2011, Con-way Truckload owned and operated approximately 2,700 tractors and 8,000 trailers, including tractors held under capital lease agreements.


! The Other! reporting segment consists of the operating results of Road Systems, a trailer manufacturer, and certain corporate activities for which the related income or expense has not been allocated to other reporting segments, including results related to corporate re-insurance activities and corporate properties. Road Systems primarily manufactures and refurbishes trailers for Con-way Freight and Con-way Truckload.

Advisors' Opinion:
  • [By Rich Smith]

    Con-Way (NYSE: CNW  ) announced that after polling its drivers for feedback on various truck manufacturers and models, it has decided to refresh its truck fleet with 525 new tractors -- 325 Kenworth T680s from Paccar, and another 200 Navistar ProStars.

  • [By Dan Caplinger]

    Navistar hasn't been entirely locked out of the trucking market, though. The company won several contracts from the Defense Department in support of its military vehicles, including its MaxxPro mine-resistant, ambush-protected armored vehicle. On the commercial front, Navistar won part of an order in May from trucking company Con-Way (NYSE: CNW  ) , which purchased 200 ProStar vehicles from the company. Still, the fact that rival Paccar (NASDAQ: PCAR  ) got an even bigger portion of the Con-Way order is just one more sign of the ongoing struggles Navistar faces.

Top Freight Companies To Own For 2015: Chalmers Ltd (CHR)

Chalmers Limited is an Australia-based company engaged in transport, logistic services, warehousing and container storage, repairs and sales. The Company operated in three segments: Transport, Containers and Property. Transport consists of road transport, predominantly import/export FCL containers and the interface with logistics/ warehousing/hubbing services. Containers represent the empty container park operations concerned with handling, storage, repairs, upgrades, pretrips and so on of empty containers on behalf of shipping and leasing company customers. Property represents the capital investment Chalmers has in freeholds located in Melbourne. The Company�� subsidiaries include Chalmers Industries Pty Ltd, Chalmers (Australia) Pty Ltd and Chalmers Industries (Brisbane) Pty Ltd. Advisors' Opinion:
  • [By Corinne Gretler]

    Chr. Hansen A/S (CHR) slid 1.7 percent to 186 kroner after Credit Suisse Group AG cut the stock to neutral, the equivalent of hold, from outperform. The brokerage said that profit from its natural-color business remains under pressure. The world�� biggest maker of dairy enzymes cut its full-year sales forecast on July 3 because of lower prices for the red pigment carmine.

Top Freight Companies To Own For 2015: Vitran Corporation Inc (VTNC)

Vitran Corporation Inc. (Vitran), incorporated on April 29, 1981, is a provider of freight surface transportation and related supply chain services throughout Canada 34 states in the eastern, southeastern, central, southwestern, and western United States. The Company�� business consists of Less-than-truckload services (LTL). These services are provided by stand-alone business units within their respective regions. Vitran�� business is carried on through its subsidiaries, which hold the licenses and permits required to carry on business. As of December 31, 2012, Vitran�� principal wholly owned operating subsidiaries included Vitran Express Canada Inc. (Ontario), Can-Am Logistics Inc. (Ontario), Vitran Logistics Ltd. (Ontario), Expediteur T.W. Ltee (Canada), Vitran Corporation (Nevada), Vitran Express Inc. (Pennsylvania), Vitran Logistics Corp. (Delaware), Vitran Logistics Inc. (Indiana), and Las Vegas/L.A. Express, Inc. (California). In March 2013, Vitran Corp Inc completed divestiture of its Supply Chain Operation division to Legacy Supply Chain. In October 2013, Vitran Corporation Inc. completed the sale of its United States LTL business.

LTL Services

Within Canada, the Company provides next-day service within Ontario, Quebec and parts of western Canada, and generates its revenue from the movement of LTL freight within the three- to five-day east-west service lanes. The majority of its trans-Canada freight is shipped intermodally, whereby the Company�� containers are loaded onto rail cars and trans-loaded to Vitran facilities where Vitran�� network of owner operators pick up and deliver the freight to various destinations. During 2012, Vitran�� Canadian LTL business represented approximately 27.6% of total LTL revenues. Vitran�� Transborder Service Solution (inter-regional) provides over-the-road service between its Canadian LTL and United States LTL business units.

Advisors' Opinion:
  • [By Monica Gerson]

    Breaking news

    Vitran Corporation (NASDAQ: VTNC) announced today that it has entered into a definitive arrangement agreement with TransForce pursuant to which TransForce has agreed to acquire all of the outstanding common shares of Vitran not already owned by TransForce for US$6.50 in cash per share, in accordance with TransForce's prior proposal. To read the full news, click here. ReneSola (NYSE: SOL) today announced it signed a Memorandum of Intent (MOI) to sell three utility-scale projects in Western China, with a total capacity of 60MW, to Jiangsu Akcome Solar Science & Technology Co on December 30, 2013. To read the full news, click here. Cooper Tire & Rubber Company (NYSE: CTB) today announced it has terminated the merger agreement with Apollo Tyres (NSE:ApolloTYRE). To read the full news, click here. RedHill Biopharma (NASDAQ: RDHL) today announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement with leading healthcare investor OrbiMed Israel Partners Limited Partnership, an affiliate of OrbiMed Advisors LLC, for the sale of RedHill's American Depository Shares and warrants in a private placement transactionor a total sum of $6.0 million. To read the full news, click here.

    Posted-In: Guggenheim US Stock FuturesNews Eurozone Futures Global Pre-Market Outlook Markets

Top Freight Companies To Own For 2015: TNT Express NV (TNTE)

TNT Express NV is the Netherlands-based express delivery company. It collects, transports and delivers documents, parcels and freight on a time-certain or day-definite basis. The Company operates worldwide with domestic, regional and intercontinental delivery. It has own operations in more than 60 countries and can deliver to more than 200 countries through own operations, subcontractors and agents. Its customers are international companies, as well as small and medium enterprises. The Company serves industries such as technology, automotive, industrial, healthcare and lifestyle, as well as financial institutions and governments. The Company operates interconnected international air and road networks. The air network consists of a central air hub in Liege, Belgium, and a fleet of more than 50 aircrafts. The road networks are operated in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Australia and South America. Advisors' Opinion:
  • [By Inyoung Hwang]

    TNT Express NV (TNTE) lost 4.3 percent to 6.33 euros, its lowest price in four months. PostNL NV, the Dutch mail service with operations in the U.K. and Germany, said it will sell about half of its 29.8 percent stake in the Dutch package-delivery company to reduce debt. The 15 percent stake up for sale is valued at about 540 million euros ($738 million), according to data compiled by Bloomberg. PostNL gained 1.8 percent to 4.17 euros.

  • [By Robert Wall]

    One of the country�� largest employers with more than 150,000 staff, Royal Mail has shifted away from letters to more lucrative package shipping, competing with TNT Express NV (TNTE) of the Netherlands and Deutsche Post AG (DPW)�� DHL Express.

Top Freight Companies To Own For 2015: Echo Global Logistics Inc (ECHO)

Echo Global Logistics, Inc. (Echo) is a provider of technology enabled transportation and supply chain management services. Its Web-based technology platform compiles and analyzes data from its network of over 24,000 transportation providers to serve its clients' shipping and freight management needs. Its technology platform, composed of Web-based software applications and a database, enables it to identify excess transportation capacity, obtain competitive rates, and execute thousands of shipments every day. It focuses on arranging transportation across truckload (TL) and less than truck load (LTL), and it also offers small parcel, inter-modal (which involves moving a shipment by rail and truck), domestic air, expedited and international transportation services. Its logistics services include rate negotiation, shipment execution and tracking, carrier management, routing compliance, freight bill audit and payment and performance management reporting, including executive dashboard tools. Effective January 1, 2011, the Company acquired Nationwide Traffic Services, LLC. (Nationwide) Effective July 1, 2011, the Company acquired Advantage Transport, Inc. (Advantage). Effective December 1, 2011, the Company acquired the stock of Trailer Transport Systems (TTS). In June 2012, the Company acquired Plum Logistics, LLC. In July 2012, it acquired all of the assets of Shipper Direct Logistics, Inc. In October 2012, the Company acquired Sharp Freight Systems, Inc.

The Company�� clients fall into two categories, enterprise and transactional. Its enterprise clients outsource their transportation management function to Echo. It enters into multi-year contracts with its enterprise clients. As part of its value proposition, it also provides core logistics services to these clients, including the management of both freight expenditures and logistical issues surrounding freight to be transported. It provides transportation and logistics services to its transactional clients on a shipment-by-shipment basis.! It is a non-asset-based provider of technology enabled transportation and logistics services. Through its carrier network, it provides transportation services using a range of modes of transportation.

Transportation Services

The Company provides Truckload (TL) services across all TL segments, including dry vans, temperature-controlled units and flatbeds. Using its LaneIQ technology, it provide advanced dispatch, communication and data collection tools and capacity information to its clients on a real-time basis. The Company provides less than truckload (LTL) services involving the shipment of single or multiple pallets of freight. Using its RateIQ 2.0 technology, it obtains real-time pricing and transit time information for every LTL shipment from its database of LTL carriers. It provides small parcel services for packages of all sizes. Using its EchoPak technology, it delivers cost saving opportunities to its clients. Inter-modal transportation is the shipping of freight by multiple modes, using a container that is transferred between ships, railcars or trucks. It offers inter-modal transportation services for its clients, which utilizes both trucks and rail. The Company provides domestic air and expedited shipment services for its clients when traditional LTL services do not meet delivery requirements. It uses ETM track and trace tools for up to date information to its clients through EchoTrak. The Company provides air and ocean transportation services for its clients, offering a comprehensive international delivery option to its clients.

Logistics Services

In addition to arranging for transportation, the Company provides logistics services, either on-site (in the case of some enterprise clients) or off-site, to manage the flow of those goods from origin to destination. Its core logistics services include rate negotiation; procurement of transportation, both contractually and in the spot market; shipment execution and tracking; carrier management, ! reporting! and compliance; executive dashboard presentations and detailed shipment reports; freight bill audit and payment; claims processing and service refund management; design and management of inbound client freight programs; individually configured Web portals and self-service data warehouses; enterprise resource planning (ERP) integration with transactional shipment data, and integration of shipping applications into client e-commerce sites. Customers communicate their freight needs, typically on a shipment-by-shipment basis, to the individual or team responsible for their account. Customers communicate with it by means of telephone, fax, Internet, e-mail, or Electronic Data Interchange (EDI).

Technology Platform

The Company�� ETM technology platform allows it to analyze its clients' transportation requirements and provide customized shipping recommendations. It collects and store pricing and market capacity data in its ETM database from each interaction with carriers, and its database expands as a result of these interactions. It has also developed data acquisition tools, which retrieve information from both private and public transportation databases, including subscription-based sources and public transportation rate boards, and incorporate that information into the ETM database. Its clients communicate their transportation needs to it electronically through its EchoTrak web portal, other computer protocols, or by phone. ETM generates pricing and carrier information for its clients by accessing pre-negotiated rates with preferred carriers or using present or historical pricing and capacity information contained in its database. If a client enters its own shipment, ETM automatically alerts the appropriate account executive. After the carrier is selected, either by it or the client, its account executives use its ETM technology platform to manage all aspects of the shipping process.

The Company�� FastLane is an Internet-based Web portal, which allows its carriers! to view ! shipments available for tender, update equipment availability and preferred lanes, check on the status of all unpaid invoices, unbilled shipments, shipments in transit and other information used to resolve any billing discrepancies. There is also a mobile FastLane application, which allows carriers to view similar information remotely. eConnect is a set of tools, which allows the Company�� clients and carriers to interact directly with ETM electronically through any of several computer protocols, including EDI, extensible markup language (XML) and file transfer protocol (FTP). The eConnect tools serve as an electronic bridge between the other elements of its ETM technology platform and its clients' enterprise resource planning (ERP), billing, accounts receivable, accounts payable, order management, back office and e-commerce systems. Through eConnect, its clients are able to request shipping services and receive financial and tracking data using their existing systems.

EchoTrak is an Internet-based Web portal, which connects and integrates its clients with ETM. By entering a username and password, its clients are able to enter orders, display historical and active shipments in the ETM system using configurable data entry screens sorted by carrier, price, delivery date, destination and other relevant specifications. EchoTrak also generates automatic alerts to ensure that shipments are moving in accordance with the client specifications and timeline. There is also a mobile EchoTrak application, which allows customers to perform similar functions remotely. RateIQ2.0 is a pricing engine, which manages LTL tariffs and generates rate quotes and transit times for LTL shipments. RateIQ2.0 also provides integrated tools to manage dispatch, communications, data collection and management functions relating to LTL shipments. LaneIQ is a pricing engine, which generates rate quotes for TL shipments. LaneIQ also provides integrated tools to manage dispatch, communications, headhaul and backhaul data col! lection a! nd management functions relating to TL shipments. EchoPak is a small parcel pricing and audit engine. For each small parcel shipped, EchoPak audits carrier compliance with on-time delivery requirements and pricing tariffs. In addition, EchoPak tracks information for each parcel and is able to aggregate and analyze that data for clients. For instance, clients are able to view shipments by date, business unit, product line and location, and clients can access information regarding service levels and pricing.

The Company�� Shipment Tracking stores shipment information en-route and after final delivery. The shipment data is acquired through its carrier EDI integration, allowing its clients to track the location and status of all shipments on one screen, regardless of mode or carrier. Final delivery information is permanently archived, allowing it to provide its clients with carrier performance reporting by comparing actual delivery times with the published transit time standards.

Document Imaging allows the Company to store digital images of all shipping documents, including bills of lading and delivery receipts. CAS (Cost Allocation System) automatically audits carrier invoices against its rating engine and accounts payable accrual system. If the amounts match, the invoice is automatically released for payment. If the amounts do not match, the invoice is sent to various administrative personnel for manual processing and resolution. CAS also integrates to its general ledger, accounts receivable and accounts payable systems. Accounting includes its general ledger, accounts receivable and accounts payable functions. Accounting is integrated with CAS and EchoIQ. EchoIQ stores internally and externally generated data to support its reporting and analytic functions and integrate all of its core applications with ETM. ETM supports its logistics services, which it provides to its clients as part of its value proposition. Its ETM technology platform is able to track individual shipments ! and provi! de customized data and reports throughout the lifecycle of the shipment, allowing it to manage the entire shipping process for its clients. It also market Flex TMS.

The Company competes with C.H. Robinson Worldwide, Total Quality Logistics, UPS, FedEx, Schneider, Conway, JB Hunt and ABF.

Advisors' Opinion:
  • [By Seth Jayson]

    Calling all cash flows
    When you are trying to buy the market's best stocks, it's worth checking up on your companies' free cash flow once a quarter or so, to see whether it bears any relationship to the net income in the headlines. That's what we do with this series. Today, we're checking in on Echo Global Logistics (Nasdaq: ECHO  ) , whose recent revenue and earnings are plotted below.

  • [By Will Ashworth]

    Without further adieu, here are my five best stocks for the next 20 years:

    Best Stocks #1 (Small Cap): Echo Global Logistics (ECHO)

    Echo Global Logistics (ECHO) uses web-based proprietary technology to provide business process outsourcing to the transportation industry. Founded in 2005, ECHO serves more than 28,500 small- and midsize customers who use its technology to access the best shipping prices from a network of 24,000 carriers in a matter of seconds.