Sunday, August 31, 2014

Top 5 Bank Companies To Buy Right Now

Business development companies -- or BDCs -- will be marching in the earnings season parade next week.

Several of the high-yielding entities will be reporting next week, and income investors hungry for meaty payouts have been flocking to these top dividend stocks.

What makes BDCs so attractive? Well, let's start with the model. The typical BDC will provide financing to small- and medium-sized businesses that often can't line up conventional funding through major commercial banks. In return for taking on the risk, BDCs can ask for reasonably high interest payments and even some equity exposure. As long as they divvy up at least 90% of their interest income among their investors, there's no double taxation.

Risk is mitigated via diversification, but default rates are surprisingly low. A recent Barron's article claims that the annual loan-loss rate for BDCs is just 0.7%.

Here are some of the BDCs reporting next week.

Latest Quarter

Hot Quality Companies To Invest In 2015: Bank of America Corporation(BAC)

Bank of America Corporation, a financial holding company, provides banking and nonbanking financial services and products to individuals, small- and middle-market businesses, large corporations, and governments in the United States and internationally. The company?s Deposits segment generates savings accounts, money market savings accounts, certificate of deposits, and checking accounts; and Global Card Services segment provides the U.S. consumer and business card, consumer lending, international card and debit card services. Its Home Loans & Insurance segment offers consumer real estate products and services, including mortgage loans, reverse mortgages, home equity lines of credit, and home equity loans. It also provides property, disability, and credit insurance. The company?s Global Commercial Banking segment offers lending products, including commercial loans and commitment facilities, real estate lending, leasing, trade finance, short-term credit, asset-based lending, and indirect consumer loans; and capital management and treasury solutions, such as treasury management, foreign exchange, and short-term investing options. Its Global Banking & Markets segment provides financial products, advisory services, settlement, and custody services; debt and equity underwriting and distribution, merger-related advisory services, and risk management products; and integrated working capital management and treasury solutions. The company?s Global Wealth & Investment Management segment offers investment and brokerage services, estate management, financial planning services, fiduciary management, credit and banking expertise, and asset management products. Bank of America Corporation serves customers through a network of approximately 5,900 banking centers and 18,000 automated teller machines. It was formerly known as NationsBank Corporation and changed its name on October 1, 1998. Bank of America Corporation was founded in 1874 and is based in Charlott e, North Carolina.

Advisors' Opinion:
  • [By John Grgurich]

    As of Friday morning, Bank of America (NYSE: BAC  ) has lost 4.24% on the week. This epic drop came squarely on the heels of fairly solid first-quarter earnings. I'm a B of A bear, but even I can't figure out why investors reacted like they did.

  • [By Amanda Alix]

    Robo-signing is in the news again, and in a big way. For one thing, the New York Attorney General's office is suing�Bank of America (NYSE: BAC  ) and Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC  ) for allegedly failing to follow the conditions of the $26 billion settlement over shabby foreclosure practices, which featured the mindless signing of foreclosure documents.

Top 5 Bank Companies To Buy Right Now: Western Alliance Bancorporation (WAL)

Western Alliance Bancorporation (WAL) is a bank holding company. The Company provides full-service banking and lending to locally owned businesses, professional firms, real estate developers and investors, local non-profit organizations, high net worth individuals and other consumers through its three wholly owned subsidiary banks (the Banks): Bank of Nevada (BON), operating in Southern Nevada; Western Alliance Bank (WAB), operating in Arizona and Northern Nevada, and Torrey Pines Bank (TPB), operating in California. In addition, the Company�� non-bank subsidiaries, Shine Investment Advisory Services, Inc. (Shine) and Western Alliance Equipment Finance (WAEF), offer an array of financial products and services to small to mid-sized businesses and their proprietors, including financial planning, custody and investments, and equipment leasing nationwide. It operates in four segments: Bank of Nevada, Western Alliance Bank, Torrey Pines Bank and Other.

The Company provides a range of banking services, as well as investment advisory services, through its consolidated subsidiaries. As of December 31, 2011, WAL owned an 80% interest in Shine. As of December 31, 2011, the Company owned a 24.9% interest in Miller/Russell & Associates, Inc. (MRA), an investment advisor. MRA provides investment advisory services to individuals, foundations, retirement plans and corporations.

Lending Activities

Through the Company�� banking segments, the Company provides a variety of financial services to customers, including commercial real estate loans, construction and land development loans, commercial loans, and consumer loans. Loans to businesses consisted 89.2% of the total loan portfolio at December 31, 2011. Loans to finance the purchase or refinancing of commercial real estate (CRE) and loans to finance inventory and working capital that are additionally secured by CRE make up the majority of its loan portfolio. These CRE loans are secured by apartment buildings, professional of! fices, industrial facilities, retail centers and other commercial properties. As of December 31, 2011, 49% of its CRE loans were owner-occupied. Owner-occupied commercial real estate loans are loans secured by owner-occupied nonfarm nonresidential properties for which the primary source of repayment (more than 50%) is the cash flow from the ongoing operations and activities conducted by the borrower who owns the property. Non-owner-occupied commercial real estate loans are commercial real estate loans for which the primary source of repayment is nonaffiliated rental income associated with the collateral property.

Construction and land development loans include multi-family apartment projects, industrial/warehouse properties, office buildings, retail centers and medical facilities. Commercial and industrial loans include working capital lines of credit, inventory and accounts receivable lines, mortgage warehouse lines, equipment loans and leases, and other commercial loans. Commercial loans are primarily originated to small and medium-sized businesses in a variety of industries. Consumer loans are generally offered at a higher rate and shorter term than residential mortgages. Its consumer loans include home equity loans and lines of credit, home improvement loans, credit card loans, and personal lines of credit. As of December 31, 2011, its loan portfolio totaled $4.68 billion, or approximately 68.4% of its total assets.

Investment Activities

All of the Company�� investment securities are classified as available-for-sale (AFS) or held-to-maturity (HTM). As of December 31, 2011, the Company had an investment securities portfolio of $1.48 billion, representing approximately 21.7% of its total assets. As of December 31, 2011, its investment securities portfolio consisted of the United States Government sponsored agency securities, Municipal obligations, Adjustable-rate preferred stock, Mutual funds, Corporate bonds, Direct the United States obligation and government-! sponsored! enterprise (GSE) residential mortgage-backed securities, private label residential mortgage-backed securities, Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) investments, Trust preferred securities, Private label commercial mortgage-backed securities, and Collateralized debt obligations.

Sources of Funds

The Company offers a variety of deposit products, including checking accounts, savings accounts, money market accounts and other types of deposit accounts, including fixed-rate, fixed maturity retail certificates of deposit. As of December 31, 2011, the deposit portfolio consisted of 27.5% non-interest bearing deposits and 72.5% interest-bearing deposits. Non-interest bearing deposits consist of non-interest bearing checking account balances. In addition to its deposit base, it has access to other sources of funding, including Federal Home Loan Bank (FHLB) and Federal Reserve Bank (FRB) advances, repurchase agreements and unsecured lines of credit with other financial institutions.

Financial Products and Services

In addition to traditional commercial banking activities, the Company offers other financial services to customers, including Internet banking, wire transfers, electronic bill payment, lock box services, courier, and cash management services. Through Shine, a full-service financial advisory firm, the Company offers financial planning and investment management.

Advisors' Opinion:
  • [By Investment Biker]

    Investment Summary: This article is on Western Alliance Bancorporation (WAL), a growth-oriented commercial lender in the Southwest. The banks looks set to improve profitability supported by economic recovery in Last Vegas, industry-leading revenue performance and operating leverage supported by expense control. The credit profile of the bank looks excellent with limited exposure to residential mortgage and well poised to grow its loan portfolio by 20% annually over the next 3 years. It is also well set on a path to credit recovery with improving fundamentals that justifies premium valuation going forward.

Top 5 Bank Companies To Buy Right Now: Valiant Holding AG (VAT)

Valiant Holding AG is a Switzerland-based regional bank engaged in the provision of products and services in retail banking, small and medium sized enterprises (SME) banking, private banking and asset management. The Company�� products include operating loan, investment loan, collateral loan, lease, construction loan, variable mortgage, fixed rate mortgage, flexible mortgage, savings account, time deposit account, medium-term notes, pension fund management, current account, maestro card, business card, corporate card, travel cash, payment services and e-banking services. The Company operates through a network of branches and automated teller machines (ATMs). Advisors' Opinion:
  • [By Nitish]

    The iPhone remains Apple's most important product by far, accounting for close to half of the company's value, according to our estimates. For this quarter, Apple shipped about 35 million iPhones, representing a 12.7% jump over the same quarter a year ago, although revenue growth was slightly lower at around 9% possibly due to a greater mix of lower-end handsets. Business remained healthy in emerging markets such as Brazil, Russia, India and China, where iPhone shipments grew by around 55% year-over-year. China turned out to be particularly strong market, with overall revenues (from all products) growing by roughly 28% year-over-year and iPhone sales growing twice as fast as the broader Chinese smartphone market. However, sales in Japan, which had been one of the iPhone's fastest growing markets in recent quarters, were impacted by an increase in value added taxes (VAT) and some changes to the regulatory environment for mobile carriers.

Top 5 Bank Companies To Buy Right Now: Westpac Banking Corp (WEBNF)

Westpac Banking Corporation is a banking company. It operates through three divisions: Australian Financial Services (AFS), Westpac Institutional Bank (WIB) and Westpac New Zealand. AFS consists of Westpac�� retail and business banking operations in Australia, and includes Westpac Retail & Business Banking (Westpac RBB), St.George Banking Group and BT Financial Group Australia (BFTG). Westpac RBB is responsible for sales and service for consumer, small-to-medium enterprise customers and commercial customers under the Westpac brands. St.George is responsible for sales, and service for its consumer, business and corporate customers in Australia under brands, such as St.George and BankSA. BTFG is Westpac�� Australian wealth management division. In January 2014, the Company completed the acquisition of Lloyds Banking Group Plc�� Australian asset finance business, Capital Finance Australia Limited, and its Australian corporate loan portfolio, BOS International (Australia) Ltd. Advisors' Opinion:
  • [By MARKETWATCH]

    LOS ANGELES (MarketWatch) -- Australian stocks rose in early Monday trading, helped by Wall Street's gains Friday, with the S&P/ASX 200 (AU:XJO) climbing 0.8% to 5,362.40 after closing the previous session at its highest level since before the start of the 2008 financial crisis. Miners were broadly improving, as Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. (AU:FMG) (FSUMF) rose 1.3%, BHP Billiton Ltd. (AU:BHP) (BHP) added 0.9% ahead of its quarterly production report Tuesday, and Newcrest Mining Ltd. (AU:NCM) (NCMGF) also climbed 0.9% despite a loss for gold at the end of last week. Financials saw gains as well, with many analysts now tipping the U.S. Federal Reserve to maintain its current level of easing through the end of the year. Australia & New Zealand Banking Group (AU:ANZ) (ANEWF) advanced 1.1%, while Westpac Banking Corp. (AU:WBC) (WEBNF) and Macquarie Group Ltd. (AU:MQG) (MCQEF) rose 1.2% each. On the downside, shares of Qantas Airways Ltd. (AU:QAN) (QUBSF) fell 4.2% after the company warned of rough business conditions on Friday.

  • [By MARKETWATCH]

    LOS ANGELES (MarketWatch) -- Stocks in Australia fell early Thursday, pressured by a drop in the country's currency to a three-month low below 90 U.S. cents, and by losses on Wall Street overnight on concerns about tapering of monetary stimulus. The S&P/ASX 200 (AU:XJO) fell 28 points, or 0.5%, to 5,246, led by losses in the heavily weighted financial sector. There, shares of Westpac Banking Corp. (AU:WBC) (WEBNF) lost 1.2%, National Australia Bank Ltd. (AU:NAB) (NAUBF) declined 1%, and Australia & New Zealand Banking Group (AU:ANZ) (ANEWF) shed 0.7%. Shares of Qantas Airways Ltd. (AU:QAN) (QUBSF) sank 14% after the company warned it expects to post an underlying loss before tax of $250 million to $300 million for the six months ending Dec. 31. The carrier said trading conditions saw a marked deterioration, particularly in November with both passenger loads and yields "below the already negative trends for the year to date."

  • [By MARKETWATCH]

    LOS ANGELES (MarketWatch) -- Australian stocks started Monday trade higher, with the S&P/ASX 200 (AU:XJO) up 0.8% at 5,206.40 after a strong finish for Wall Street at the end of last week. Resource shares got a lift from gains for commodities prices since the previous trading session, with strong advances for gold and copper and a more than 2% rise for New York-traded crude-oil futures. Among the leading gainers, Rio Tinto Ltd. (AU:RIO) (RIO) added 1.2%, Oil Search Ltd. (AU:OSH) (OISHF) climbed 1.3%, and gold miners Newcrest Mining Ltd. (AU:NCM) (NCMGF) and Evolution Mining Ltd. (AU:EVN) (CAHPF) improved by 3.9% and 6.4%, respectively. The heavily weighted banking sector also enjoyed solid gains, with Commonwealth Bank of Australia (AU:CBA) (CBAUF) up 1%, Westpac Banking Corp. (AU:WBC) (WEBNF) trading 1.3% higher, and National Australia Bank Ltd. (AU:NAB) (NAUBF) rising 1.1% as the U.K.'s Sunday Times reported the lender is considering a 拢2 billion ($3.3 billion) float of its British operations, which the report said had dragged on NAB's results in recent years.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Best European Stocks To Buy For 2015

Best European Stocks To Buy For 2015: TotalFinaElf S.A.(TOT)

TOTAL S.A., together with its subsidiaries, operates as an integrated oil and gas company worldwide. The company operates through three segments: Upstream, Downstream, and Chemicals. The Upstream segment engages in the exploration, development, and production of oil and natural gas. It also involves in the transportation, trade, and marketing of natural gas and liquefied natural gas (LNG), as well as in LNG re-gasification and natural gas storage operations. In addition, this segment engages in the shipping and trade of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG); power generation from gas-fired power plants, nuclear, or renewable energies; production, trade, and marketing of coal, as well as in solar power systems and technology operations. As of December 31, 2010, it had combined proved reserves of 10,695 Mboe of oil and gas. The Downstream segment involves in refining, marketing, trading, and shipping crude oil and petroleum products. It also produces a range of specialty products, s uch as lubricants, LPG, jet fuel, special fluids, bitumen, marine fuels, and petrochemical feedstock. This segment holds interests in 24 refineries located in Europe, the United States, the French West Indies, Africa, and China, as well as operates a network of 17,490 service stations. The Chemicals segment produces base chemicals, including petrochemicals and fertilizers, as well as engages in rubber processing, resins, adhesives, and electroplating activities. TOTAL S.A. was founded in 1924 and is based in Paris, France.

Advisors' Opinion:
  • [By RichardCox]

    Investors looking for exposure in energy stocks without the added risks that accompanies firms that are heavily focused on properties in the Middle East, additional choices can be found in Octagon 88 Resources (OTCQB:OCTX), and France's Total (TOT). Market valuations at Octagon 88 have yet ! to match the broader rallies in oil prices, but this could change in coming months as key development projections continue to make progress. Specifically, Octagon's Peace River will likely add 1.6 billion barrels of oil to the company's total output potential but the stock price is still trading at the middle of its yearly range, so there is little to suggest that these improvements have been priced into the company's stock price.

  • [By Varun Chandan, Arora]

    The Yamal LNG project, which is being developed by Novatek, France's Total SA (NYSE: TOT  ) , and China's CNPC, already has the required permits. The LNG plant will have three trains with total capacity of 16.5 million tons of LNG per year, with the first LNG train currently scheduled to start-up in late 2017. The main market for LNG will be China.

  • [By Ben Levisohn]

    Ensco provided an updated fleet status report, which was highlighted by an initial contract for its ultra-deepwater newbuild drillship, Ensco DS-8 (12,000′), expected to begin work for Total (TOT) in Angola during 3Q15 (through 3Q20) at an initial dayrate in the high $610 range (vs. our estimate of $505k/day) with periodic increases equating to an average rate in the mid-$650 range over the 5-year program (ex-mob).

  • [By Ben Levisohn]

    Howard Weil’s Blake Fernandez explains why he prefers ConocoPhillips to other oil companies like Total (TOT) and Chevron (CVX):

    After years of portfolio rationalization, concerns re: dividend coverage, etc. the asset base is now poised to deliver 6- 10% cash flow CAGR through '17 from a combination of 3-5% production growth and 3-5% margin expansion. Additionally, our confidence in the Company's unconventional prowess is increasing based on the recent analyst day presentation, higher production targets and efficiency gains in the underlying assets…

  • source from Top Stocks For 2015:h! ttp://www! .topstocksblog.com/best-european-stocks-to-buy-for-2015-2.html

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Can This Apple, Inc. Supplier Deliver in 2015?

Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) has, for quite a while now, designed its own applications processors for its iDevices. Samsung (NASDAQOTH: SSNLF  ) , a longtime supplier and competitor to Apple, has been the sole manufacturer of these chips.

But it is widely rumored that Apple will be moving its chip business to independent semiconductor foundry Taiwan Semiconductor (NYSE: TSM  )  for the iPhone 6.

That said, concerns about whether TSMC will be able to capture the chip business for Apple's follow-on to the iPhone 6 surfaced last month. TSMC's management remarked on its July earnings call that it would not begin mass production on its next-generation 16-nanometer manufacturing technology until late 2015. This would be too late for the successor to the iPhone 6, which is likely to launch in the fall of 2015. 

Digitimes now reports, though, that TSMC "will advance volume production on its 16nm process to the first quarter of 2015 with monthly output of 50,000 wafers in order to meet demand for Apple's A9 processors."

A question that may be on investors' minds, then, is whether TSMC can actually achieve this rumored production schedule, and if so, what doing so might mean from a financial perspective.

What appears to be going on
Samsung and Taiwan Semiconductor are moving to a fundamentally new transistor structure known as a FinFET for their respective 14/16-nanometer technologies. This transistor type, according to Intel  (NASDAQ: INTC  ) -- which has been successfully mass-producing FinFET-based chips since late 2011 -- offers significant performance improvements and power reductions over more traditional "planar" transistors. 

Best Managed Healthcare Companies To Own For 2015

The light gray line represents the performance of a hypothetical 22-nanometer "planar" transistor. The black line represents the performance Intel's 32-nanometer transistor, and the blue one the performance of Intel's 22-nanometer FinFET transistor. Source: Intel

Unfortunately, these FinFETs seem to be proving very difficult for the foundries to bring into high volume production.

KLA-Tencor (NASDAQ: KLAC  ) , a major semiconductor equipment vendor, offered investors some insight into this issue on its April earnings call. 

Now, in logic and foundry, with the introduction of the new 3D gate architectures, the yield issues our customers are grappling with today are proving the most challenging that the industry have ever faced, and even the smallest variation and process margin can cause significant yield losses for these devices.[Emphasis mine]

Now, notice that KLA-Tencor's CEO cited "significant yield losses," which means that when a chip wafer is produced, a large portion of the chips that come out aren't suitable for sale.

How can TSMC just "advance" production?
The reason that good yields are so important is that yields directly affect cost. If a chip wafer costs $3,000 to make and from that one can get 300 good chips, the cost to produce those chips is $10 each. However, if due to yield losses, one can only get 150 good chips, then the cost per chip balloons to $20.

Now, according to an EETimes piece, TSMC shifted to charging customers on a per-wafer basis rather than a per-good-chip basis over the last several years.

Given this context, what could "advancing production" of 16-nanometer, particularly if yields are proving challenging, mean economically for both Apple and TSMC? 

Got yield?
To provide some background, according to a 2009 wafer agreement between IDT and TSMC published on the SEC's website, TSMC and IDT agree to a "minimum" or "standard" yield. This standard yield is "based on the average Yield of the first three hundred (300) Wafers of each Product manufactured using Qualified Processes and passing all production tests."

The agreement further stipulates, "Any Wafer manufactured by TSMC that yields less than sixty five percent (65%) of the standard Yield for such Product shall, if sorted by TSMC, be scrapped, or, [...] be deemed defective and returnable for replacement."

While the agreement between TSMC and IDT is unlikely to be identical to the one between TSMC and Apple, the basic idea is probably similar.

The next question to ask, then, is if TSMC and Apple are really gunning to get 16-nanometer chips into the 2015 iPhone, who will eat the cost of the low yields, should they persist?

Will TSMC, in a bid to keep Apple's business, offer really cheap wafers to offset the relatively low yield per wafer (and keep this business away from arch-rival, Samsung)? Or will Apple, in a bid to minimize its reliance on Samsung, be willing to buy more, "full-price" wafers from TSMC and agree to a lower yield requirement?

Foolish bottom line
Only time will tell which chip manufacturer will actually wind up with Apple's business for the 2015 iPhone/iPad devices. But given that Digitimes has claimed on separate occasions that both Samsung and TSMC have "won" this business, the "behind-the-scenes" battle is extremely interesting.

Leaked: Apple's next smart device (warning, it may shock you)
Apple recently recruited a secret-development "dream team" to guarantee its newest smart device was kept hidden from the public for as long as possible. But the secret is out, and some early viewers are claiming its everyday impact could trump the iPod, iPhone, and the iPad. In fact, ABI Research predicts 485 million of this type of device will be sold per year. But one small company makes Apple's gadget possible. And its stock price has nearly unlimited room to run for early in-the-know investors. To be one of them, and see Apple's newest smart gizmo, just click here!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Biotech Stocks: Time to Worry

Remember when the biotech world was falling apart? Neither do we.

I mean, just look at these returns: Gilead Sciences (GILD) has gained 41% so far this year as investors appear to have put their Sovaldi worries behind them; InterMune (ITMN) has quintupled in 2014 after Roche agreed to purchase it for $8.3 billion; and Intercept Pharmaceuticals (ICPT) has surged 350% as drug trials have been surprisingly good. All told, the iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (IBB) has risen 21%, more than double the S&P 500′s 8.3% rise.

Steve Remich

It’s time to start remembering, says Weeden’s Michael Purves, who provides four reasons why it the point might be coming to worry about biotech stocks:

1. We are once again entering overbought territory…the daily RSI's are entering levels which typically coincide with a sell off.

2. The current price level of the iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF is right at the March peak, a significant resistance point.

3. I continue to be concerned that the flows continue to come out of the sector – iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF shares outstanding have been trending down since the March price peak.

4. I also wonder how much of the most recent rally is short covering related…the amount of short interest relative to iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF shares outstanding (essentially a more accurate short interest ratio) is at record highs. There is a lag here on the data…so this could be sign of a final squeeze.

Net net, the warning signs are flashing yellow, not red, but I think the hedging discussion with high  prices and lower volatility levels is a relevant discussion.

Shares of Gilead Sciences have dropped 1.3% to $106.11 at 2:23 p.m. today, while InterMune has gained 0.2% to $72.99 and Intercept Pharmaceuticals has jumped 2.3% to $301.18. The iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF has advanced 1.2% to $275.96 today.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Top Retail Companies To Invest In 2014

The Motley Fool is on the road in Seattle!�Recently we visited Coinstar -- now officially renamed�Outerwall� (NASDAQ: OUTR  ) --�to speak with CFO-turned-CEO Scott Di Valerio about the 22-year-old company's well-known coin-cashing machines, as well as its more recent acquisition of Redbox, and future initiatives to expand into other aspects of the automated retail market.

We're all familiar with Coinstar and Redbox. In this video segment Scott reveals other Coinstar projects including Rubi machines -- which will dispense Seattle's Best coffee -- and several other initiatives being tested in the food, beauty, and entertainment markets. The full version of the interview can be watched�here.

A full transcript follows the video.

The retail space is in the midst of the biggest paradigm shift since mail order took off at the turn of last century. Only those most forward-looking and capable companies will survive, and they'll handsomely reward those investors who understand the landscape. You can read about the 3 Companies Ready to Rule Retail in The Motley Fool's special report. Uncovering these top picks is free today; just click here to read more.

Best Freight Companies To Buy Right Now: Asbury Automotive Group Inc (ABG)

Asbury Automotive Group, Inc. (Asbury), incorporated on February 15, 2002, is an automotive retailers in the United States. As of December 31, 2011, the Company operated 99 franchises (79 dealership locations). It offers a range of automotive products and services, including new and used vehicles; vehicle maintenance; replacement parts and collision repair services; new and used vehicle financing, and aftermarket products, such as insurance, warranty and service contracts. As of December 31, 2011, it offered 30 domestic and foreign brands of new vehicles. Its brand mix is weighted 84% towards luxury and mid-line import brands, with the remaining 16% consisting of domestic brands. As of December 31, 2011, it operated dealerships in 18 metropolitan markets throughout the United States. As of December 31, 2011, its retail network consisted of eight locally-branded dealership groups. As of December 31, 2011, its brand names included Nalley Automotive Group, Courtesy Autogroup, Coggin Automotive Group, Crown Automotive Company, David McDavid Auto Group, North Point Auto Group, Gray-Daniels Auto Family and Plaza Motor Company. During the year ended December 31, 2011, the Company sold its heavy truck business in Atlanta, Georgia, two franchises and one additional ancillary business. On May 2, 2011, the Company sold its luxury brand dealership in California. In December 2012, the Company acquired a Volkswagen and a Bentley store in the Atlanta, Georgia market.

New Vehicle Sales

As of December 31, 2011, the Company owned a range of 30 American, European and Asian brands. Its new vehicle unit sales consist of the sale of new vehicles to individual retail customers (new vehicle retail) and the sale of new vehicles to commercial customers (fleet). During the year ended December 31, 2011, it sold 71,449 new vehicles through its dealerships. During 2011, new vehicle sales were 54% of its total revenues and 22% of its total gross profit. The Company�� new vehicle revenues include new vehi! cle sale and lease transactions arranged by its dealerships with third parties.

Used Vehicle Sales

The Company sells used vehicles at all of its dealership locations. Used vehicle sales include the sale of used vehicles to individual retail customers (used retail) and the sale of used vehicles to other dealers at auction (wholesale). During 2011, it sold 55,805 used retail vehicles through its dealerships. During 2011, sales of used retail vehicles accounted for approximately 25% of its total revenues. During 2011, wholesale sales represented 4% of its total revenues.

The Company�� new vehicle operations provide its used vehicle operations with a supply of trade-ins and off-lease vehicles. It also purchases a portion of its used vehicle inventory at auctions restricted to new vehicle dealers and open auctions, which offer vehicles sold by other dealers and repossessed vehicles. Its used vehicle inventory is sold as wholesale if a vehicle is not sold at retail within 60 days, except for used vehicles, which does not fit within its inventory mix. The reconditioning of used vehicles also generates revenue for its parts and service departments.

Parts and Service

Asbury sells replacement parts and provides vehicle maintenance and collision repair service at all of its franchised dealerships, for the vehicle brands sold at those dealerships. As of December 31, 2011, in addition, it maintained 25 free-standing collision repair centers either on the premises of, or in close proximity to, its dealerships. During 2011, parts and service revenues accounted for approximately 14% of its total revenues.

Finance and Insurance

The Company refers to the finance and insurance portion of its business as F&I. Through its F&I business, it arranges, and receives commissions for, third-party financing of the sale or lease of new and used vehicles to customers, as well as offers a range of aftermarket products, such as extended servi! ce contra! cts, guaranteed asset protection (GAP) debt cancellation, pre-paid maintenance and credit life and disability insurance. It also generates F&I revenues from the receipt of marketing fees paid to it under agreements with preferred lenders. During 2011, its F&I business generated approximately 3% of its total revenues. Extended service contracts cover repair work after the expiration of the manufacturer warranty. GAP debt cancellation covers the customer after a total loss for the difference between the value of the vehicle and the outstanding loan or lease obligation after insurance proceeds. Prepaid maintenance covers routine maintenance work, such as oil changes, cleaning and adjusting of brakes, multi-point vehicle inspections and tire rotations. Credit life and disability covers the remaining amounts due on an auto loan or a lease in the event of death or disability.

The Company earns sales-based commissions from third-party lenders, including manufacturer captive finance subsidiaries which arranges on behalf of its customers. It may be charged back (chargebacks) for these commissions in the event a finance contract is cancelled or repaid, typically within the first 90 days of such contract. During 2011, it arranged customer financing on approximately 70% of the vehicles it sold. The Company is a party to a range of preferred lender agreements. These payments are determined by the lenders based upon an agreed-upon earnings schedule.

Advisors' Opinion:
  • [By Jeremy Bowman]

    What: Shares of Asbury Automotive Group (NYSE: ABG  ) were revving up today, gaining as much as 15% after posting a strong earnings report.

Top Retail Companies To Invest In 2014: Yum! Brands Inc.(YUM)

YUM! Brands, Inc., together with its subsidiaries, operates as a quick service restaurant company in the United States and internationally. It develops, operates, franchises, and licenses a system of restaurants, which prepare, package, and sell various food items, as well as operates Chinese casual dining concept restaurants. The company?s restaurants specialize in chicken, pizza, and Mexican-style food categories. It operates approximately 37,000 restaurants in 110 countries and territories under the KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell brands, as well as approximately 450 casual dining concept restaurants in China. The company was formerly known as TRICON Global Restaurants, Inc. and changed its name to YUM! Brands, Inc. in May 2002. YUM! Brands, Inc. was founded in 1997 and is headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky.

Advisors' Opinion:
  • [By Dan Caplinger]

    McCormick has certainly been hitting it out of the park lately, with the stock rising to all-time highs in early April after the company announced positive earnings in its previous quarterly report. Between its solid balance sheet and its all-pervasive business model, McCormick has a stranglehold on its industry in a way that Fool analyst Jason Moser believes makes it a must-own for a long-term investor like Warren Buffett. Although the commercial side of the business, which supplies spices to companies like food giant General Mills (NYSE: GIS  ) and restaurant chain Yum! Brands (NYSE: YUM  ) , had relatively flat performance, the consumer side had strong growth.

  • [By Gregory Wallace and Charles Riley]

    Most have ended their relationship with the company or stopped selling its products. Among them are Yum Brands (YUM) (owner of KFC and Pizza Hut), Burger King (BKW), Papa John's (PZZA) and Starbucks (SBUX).

Top Retail Companies To Invest In 2014: Pier 1 Imports Inc (PIR)

Pier 1 Imports, Inc. (Pier 1 Imports), incorporated in April 30, 1986, is a global importer of imported decorative home furnishings and gifts. As of March 2, 2013, the Company had 1,062 stores in the United States and Canada. During the fiscal year ended March 2, 2013 (fiscal 2013), the Company opened 22 new Pier 1 Imports stores and closed 12 stores. The Company operates regional distribution center facilities in or near Baltimore, Maryland; Columbus, Ohio; Fort Worth, Texas; Ontario, California; Savannah, Georgia, and Tacoma, Washington. The specialty retail operations of the Company consist of retail stores and e-Commerce operations conducting business under the name Pier 1 Imports, which sell a range of furniture, decorative home furnishings, dining and kitchen goods, candles, gifts and other specialty items for the home.

As of March 2, 2013, the Company operated 982 Pier 1 Imports stores in the United States and 80 Pier 1 Imports stores in Canada. During fiscal 2013, the Company supplied merchandise and licensed the Pier 1 Imports name to Grupo Sanborns, which sold Pier 1 Imports merchandise primarily in a store within a store format in 49 Sears Mexico stores and one store in El Salvador. The stores consist of freestanding units located near shopping centers or malls and in-line positions in major shopping centers. Pier 1 Imports operates in all major United States metropolitan areas and many of the primary smaller markets.

Decorative Accessories

This merchandise group constitutes the range of category of merchandise in Pier 1 Imports��sales mix. These items are imported primarily from Asian and European countries, as well as some domestic sources. This merchandise group includes decorative accents, lamps, vases, dried and artificial flowers, baskets, ceramics, dinnerware, bath and fragrance products, candles, seasonal and gift items.

Furniture

This merchandise group consists of furniture and furniture cushions to be used in livin! g, dining, office, kitchen and bedroom areas, sunrooms and on patios. Also included in this group are wall decorations and mirrors. These goods are imported from a variety of countries such as Vietnam, Malaysia, Brazil, Thailand, China, the Philippines, India and Indonesia, and are also obtained from domestic sources. This merchandise group is made of metal or handcrafted natural materials, including rattan, pine, beech, rubberwood and selected hardwoods with either natural, stained, painted or upholstered finishes.

Advisors' Opinion:
  • [By Marc Bastow]

    Decorative gifts and products distributor Pier 1 (PIR) raised its quarterly dividend 20% to 6 cents per share, payable on Feb. 5 to shareholders of record as of Jan. 22.
    PIR Dividend Yield: 1.1%

  • [By Rich Smith]

    This series, brought to you by Yahoo! Finance, looks at which upgrades and downgrades make sense, and which ones investors should act on. Today, our headlines feature a pair of upgrades for home furnishings store Pier 1 (NYSE: PIR  ) and engine technologist BorgWarner (NYSE: BWA  ) . Let's address those two real quick, before we get to the day's really big news (about American Tower (NYSE: AMT  ) ).

Top Retail Companies To Invest In 2014: Groupon Inc (GRPN)

Groupon, Inc. (Groupon) is a local e-commerce marketplace that connects merchants to consumers by offering goods and services at a discount. Each day the Company e-mails its subscribers discounted offers for goods and services that are targeted by location and personal preferences. Consumers also access its deals directly through its Websites and mobile applications. The Company operates in two segments: North America, which represents the United States and Canada; and International, which represents the rest of its global operations. Customers purchase Groupons from the Company and redeem them with its merchants. As of September 30, 2011, the Company featured deals from over 190,000 merchants worldwide across over 190 categories of goods and services. Groupon primarily addresses the worldwide local commerce markets in the leisure, recreation, foodservice and retail sectors. In February 2012, the Company announced the launch of Groupon Thailand. In September 2012, it acquired Savored.

In May 2010, the Company acquired CityDeal Europe GmbH (CityDeal). In August 2010, the Company acquired Qpod.inc (Qpod). In November 2010, the Company acquired Ludic Labs, Inc., a company that designs and develops local marketing services. During the year ended December 31, 2010, the Company acquired Mobly, Inc. In February 2011, the Company launched Deal Channels, which aggregates daily deals from the same category.

The Company distributes a featured daily deal by e-mail on behalf of local merchants to subscribers. It offers daily deals from more than 40 national merchants, including Bath & Body Works, The Body Shop, Hyatt Regency, InterContinental Hotels, Lions Gate, Redbox, Shutterfly and Zipcar across subsets of the North American market. Daily deals that do not appear as a featured daily deal appear as Deals Nearby. Each Deal Nearby is summarized in fewer than 20 words next to the featured daily deal. Deals Nearby often extends beyond the subscriber's closest market or buying preferences.

National merchants also have used the Company�� marketplace as an alternative to traditional marketing and brand advertising. On August 19, 2010, the Company e-mailed and posted a Groupon daily deal offering $50 of apparel at Gap for $25 to 9.2 million subscribers across 85 markets in North America. It sold approximately 433,000 Groupons in 24 hours. Of the consumers who purchased Groupons, approximately 200,000 were new subscribers. As of September 30, 2011, it had 142.9 million subscribers to its daily e-mails.

Groupon NOW is a deal initiated by a merchant on demand and offered instantly to subscribers through mobile devices and its Website. Subsequent to the year ended December 31, 2010, the Company launched Groupon NOW in 25 North American markets. Deal Channels aggregate daily deals from the same category and are accessible through its Website and through e-mail alerts that subscribers sign up to receive. It offers Deal Channels in home and garden and event tickets and travel. Merchants can register their deals to be included in a Deal Channel. Subscribers can use Deal Channels to focus on deals that are of interest to them.

Self-Service Deals allows the Company�� merchants to use a self-service platform to create and launch deals at their discretion. The use of the platform is free and allows merchants to establish a permanent e-commerce presence on Groupon that can be visited and followed by subscribers. The Company receives a portion of the purchase price from deals sold through Self-Service Deals based on the extent to which it marketed the deal. In December 2010, it launched Self-Service Deals in selected North American markets.

Groupon Goods enables consumers to purchase vouchers for products directly from its Website. The Company e-mails deals for Groupon Goods weekly to a targeted subscriber base. The Company offers deals for a variety of product categories, including electronics, home and garden and toys. In September 2011, the Compa! ny launch! ed Groupon Goods in select North American and International markets.

Groupon Rewards enables consumers to unlock special Groupon deals from local merchants through repeat visits. Consumers earn reward points at participating merchants by paying with the credit or debit card they have registered with the Company. Merchants set the amount the consumer must spend to unlock a reward deal, and once a consumer is eligible to unlock a deal, it automatically notifies them. The Company distributes its deals directly through several platforms: a daily e-mail, its Websites, its mobile applications and social networks.

In December 2010, the Company partnered with Redbox to offer a daily deal to their user base and it acquired over 200,000 new customers through that offer and in March 2011, it partnered with eBay to offer a daily deal to their user base and it acquired over 290,000 new customers through that offer. The featured daily deal e-mail contains one headline deal with a full-description of the deal and often contains links to More Great Deals Nearby, all of which are available within a subscriber's market.

Visitors are prompted to register as a subscriber when they first visit its Website and thereafter use the Website as a portal for featured daily deals, Deals Nearby, national deals, and where available, Deal Channels and Self-Service Deals. Consumers also access the Company�� deals through its mobile applications, which are available on the iPhone, Android, Blackberry and Windows mobile operating systems. It launched its first mobile application in March 2010. The Company publishes its daily deals through various social networks and its notifications are adapted to the particular format of each of these social networking platforms.

Groupon competes with Google, Microsoft, Eversave, BuyWithMe and LivingSocial.

Advisors' Opinion:
  • [By John Udovich]

    Coupons.Com Inc (NYSE: COUP) is the most recent small cap digital coupon or daily deal stock to emerge in a spectacular IPO to challenge existing players like mid cap Groupon Inc (NASDAQ: GRPN) and small caps LiveDeal Inc (NASDAQ: LIVE) and RetailMeNot Inc (NASDAQ: SALE). However and since the recent IPO, small cap Coupons.Com has been a relatively flat deal for investors.

  • [By WALLSTCHEATSHEET]

    Groupon allows consumers and companies to find a happy medium when transacting for goods or services. The company said Monday that it acquired online flash sales fashion retailer Ideeli to expand in the apparel sector. The stock has been surging higher over the past several months, but is currently pulling back. Over the last four quarters, earnings and revenues have been increasing, leaving investors pleased. Relative to its peers and sector, Groupon has been a poor year-to-date performer. Look for Groupon to OUTPERFORM.

Top Retail Companies To Invest In 2014: Starbucks Corporation(SBUX)

Starbucks Corporation purchases and roasts whole bean coffees. It operates approximately 16,858 stores, including 8,833 company-operated stores and 8,025 licensed stores. The company offers approximately 30 blends and single-origin premium arabica coffees. It also provides handcrafted beverages, such as fresh-brewed coffee, hot and iced espresso beverages, coffee and non-coffee blended beverages, Vivanno smoothies, and Tazo teas; and merchandise products, including home espresso machines, coffee brewers and grinders, coffee mugs and accessories, packaged goods, music, books, and gift items. In addition, it offers fresh food items, which comprise baked pastries, sandwiches, salads, oatmeal, yogurt parfaits, and fruit cups. Further, it also provides VIA ready brew coffee, bottled frappuccino beverages, discoveries chilled cup coffee, doubleshot espresso drinks, iced coffee, whole bean coffee, and ice creams. The company?s brand portfolio includes Tazo tea, Ethos water, Seatt le?s Best Coffee, and Torrefazione Italia Coffee. Starbucks Corporation sells its products in approximately 50 countries worldwide. Starbucks Corporation was founded in 1971 and is based in Seattle, Washington.

Advisors' Opinion:
  • [By Steve Heller]

    Starbucks (NASDAQ: SBUX  ) appears to be gearing up to capture a piece of the $195 billion worldwide carbonated soft drink market. The company has begun testing made-to-order sparkling beverages at some of its Seattle stores. Beverage-lovers can choose among made-to-order sparkling teas, refreshers, root beer, ginger ale, and lemon ale.

  • [By Jon C. Ogg]

    Starbucks Corp. (NASDAQ: SBUX) seems an obvious choice if more people will be driving. How do you stay up for a long 200 to 300 mile drive? The legal way is coffee. Starbucks shares are now down 5% from their highs, as well due to the market sell-off. If Americans are going on a long driving trip, their favorite coffee is likely to end up in their stomachs.

  • [By Ben Levisohn]

    Shares of Noodles & Co. have dropped 8% to $42.92 today at 11:47 a.m. Noodles is also dragging down other high-flying restaurant stocks. Potbelly (PBPB), for instance, has fallen 4.4% to $25.78, while Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG) has declined 1.9% to $529.18 and Starbucks (SBUX) is off 1.5% at $79.92.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Top European Stocks To Own For 2014

November 19, 2013: U.S. equity markets opened mixed Tuesday morning as the DJIA was the only index able to eke out a positive start. The rise in the third-quarter employment cost index came in a bit below expectations, and the increase in wages fell a tick from the second-quarter increase. That may have caused some concern about consumer spending this holiday season.

European, Asian, and Latin American markets all closed lower today.

Wednesday�� calendar includes speeches by New York Fed President William Dudley and St. Louis Fed President James Bullard and the following scheduled data releases and events (all times Eastern):

7:00 a.m. – Mortgage Bankers Association purchase applications 8:30 a.m. – Consumer price index 8:30 a.m. – Retail sales 10:00 a.m. – Business inventories 10:00 a.m. – Existing home sales 10:30 a.m. – EIA weekly petroleum status report 2:00 a.m. – FOMC minutes

Here are the closing bell levels for Tuesday:

Top 5 Undervalued Companies To Watch For 2015: Aegon NV(AEG)

AEGON N.V. provides life insurance, pensions, and asset management products and services worldwide. The company?s life insurance products include traditional, term, universal, whole, and other life insurance products sold as part of defined benefit pension plans, endowment policies, post-retirement annuity products, and group risk products; supplemental health insurance products comprise accidental death, other injury, critical illness, hospital indemnity, medicare supplement, and student health; specialty lines consists of travel, membership, and creditor products; and long term care insurance products for policyholders who require care due to a chronic illness or cognitive impairment. It also offers a range of savings and retirement products and services, including mutual funds, and fixed and variable annuities, savings accounts and investment contracts, segregated funds, guaranteed investment accounts, and single premium immediate annuities, as well as investment advice to individuals. In addition, the company offers employer solutions and pensions, such as retirement plans, pension plans, and pension-related products and services; investment products, including onshore and offshore bonds, and trusts; reinsurance products and solutions to life insurance and financial services companies; general insurance products comprising house, car, and fire insurance; and asset management products and services, including general account assets, unit-linked funds, and third party activities. AEGON N.V. markets its products through independent and career agents, financial planners, registered representatives, independent marketing organizations, banks, broker-dealers, benefit consulting firms, wirehouses, affinity groups, institutional partners, independent managing general agencies, and specialized financial advisors, as well as through online, direct, and worksite marketing. The company was founded in 1900 and is headquartered in The Hague, the Netherl ands.

Advisors' Opinion:
  • [By Will Ashworth]

    Assuming it delivers on its outlook for 2014, its current free cash flow yield is a very enticing 20%. This isn�� a growth stock, but its brands still possess hidden value. As cheap stocks go, it�� very attractive.

    Cheap Stocks to Buy: Aegon (AEG)

    It�� not often that you can buy a $19 billion market cap for under 10 bucks. Aegon�� a Dutch insurance company that�� had a rough ride over the past few years, and its stock�� suffered as a result. In the late ’90s AEG stock traded around $60 — it hasn�� been anywhere close since. However, it�� got some good assets that should bear fruit in the years to come. Aegon has 12,000 employees in the Americas doing business primarily under the Transamerica brand, which has been a part of AEG since 1999.

Top European Stocks To Own For 2014: BP p.l.c.(BP)

BP p.l.c. provides fuel for transportation, energy for heat and light, retail services, and petrochemicals products. Its Exploration and Production segment engages in the oil and natural gas exploration, field development, and production; midstream transportation, and storage and processing; and marketing and trading of natural gas, including liquefied natural gas (LNG), and power and natural gas liquids (NGL). This segment has exploration and production activities in Angola, Azerbaijan, Canada, Egypt, Norway, Russia, Trinidad and Tobago, the United Kingdom, and the United States, as well as in Asia, Australasia, South America, North Africa, and the Middle East. This segment also owns and manages crude oil and natural gas pipelines; processing facilities and export terminals; and LNG processing and transportation, as well as NGL extraction facilities. BP p.l.c. has interests in the Trans-Alaska pipeline system, the Forties pipeline system, the Central Area transmission sys tem pipeline, the South Caucasus Pipeline, and Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, as well as in LNG plants located in Trinidad, Indonesia, and Australia. The company?s Refining and Marketing segment involves in the supply and trading, refining, manufacturing, marketing, and transportation of crude oil, petroleum, and petrochemicals products and related services to wholesale and retail customers primarily under the BP, Castrol, ARCO, and Aral brands. Its Other Businesses and Corporate segment produces and markets rolled aluminum products, as well as generates energy through wind, solar, biofuels, hydrogen, and carbon capture and storage sources; and engages in shipping activities. The company was founded in 1889 and is headquartered in London, the United Kingdom.

Advisors' Opinion:
  • [By Aimee Duffy]

    BP (NYSE: BP  ) just announced it is getting out of the wind power game, and in fact big oil's green energy initiatives are pretty negligible at this point. It could be disheartening state of affairs, but luckily pipeline companies are stepping in and picking up the slack. In this video, Fool.com contributor Aimee Duffy explores Enbridge's (NYSE: ENB  ) recent deal to buy into a wind project in Alberta, and reviews the alternative energy efforts already under way in the North American midstream industry.

  • [By Matt DiLallo]

    It should come as no surprise that demand for ultra-deep-water rigs is�strong in the Gulf now that the industry is finally moving past the BP (NYSE: BP  ) disaster. Oil companies have been investing heavily in the region and those investments are starting to bear fruit. Earlier this year ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP  ) and its partners announced two major oil discoveries, Shenandoah and Coronado, which could be added to as the company plans to drill another five wells this year. The company has amassed over 2 million net acres in the Gulf, a position it recently added to as the company was the highest bidder on 30 blocks which added 172,000 net acres to its position. Needless to say, Conoco is expecting big things from its investments in the Gulf.�

  • [By WALLSTCHEATSHEET]

    As long as the broader market holds, BP should perform well going forward. If litigation costs exceed expectations, it might lead to a drop in the stock price, but that would only be temporary. Investors would then look at it as something that�� now out of the way, which is always a positive.

Top European Stocks To Own For 2014: Telefonica SA(TEF)

Telefonica, S.A. provides fixed and mobile telephony services primarily in Spain, rest of Europe, and Latin America. Its fixed telecommunication services include PSTN lines; ISDN accesses; public telephone; local, domestic, and international long distance and fixed-to-mobile communications; corporate communications; video telephony; supplementary and business-oriented value-added services; network services; leasing and sale of handset equipment; and telephony information services. The company?s Internet and broadband multimedia services comprise Internet service provider service; portal and network services; retail and wholesale broadband access; narrowband switched access to Internet; naked ADSL, a broadband connection; residential-oriented value-added services; companies-oriented value-added services; television services, such as IPTV, cable television, and satellite television; and Fiber to the Home, a service for high speed Internet access and digital video recording. Its data and business-solutions services principally include leased lines; virtual private network services; fiber optics services; the provision of hosting and application; outsourcing and consultancy services; desktop services; and system integration and professional services. The company?s wholesale services for telecommunication operators primarily comprise domestic interconnection services; international wholesale services; leased lines for other operators? network deployment; local loop leasing under the unbundled local loop regulation framework; and bit stream services. It also offers various mobile and related services and products that include mobile voice services, value added services, mobile data and Internet services, wholesale services, corporate services, roaming, fixed wireless, and trunking and paging services. The company has a strategic alliance with China Unicom (Hong Kong) Limited. Telefonica, S.A. was founded in 1924 and is headquartered in Madrid, Spai n.

Advisors' Opinion:
  • [By Dan Caplinger]

    Working with incomplete information is something markets are used to, though, despite the volatility that it can produce. AT&T (NYSE: T  ) posted minimal gains after Spain's Telefonica (NYSE: TEF  ) denied rumors that AT&T was looking to buy out the European telecom giant. With its already massive position in the U.S. wireless market, AT&T will have to look abroad for substantial growth opportunities. With Telefonica having chosen to cut its dividend temporarily in order to reallocate capital, a buyout might have been good news for its shareholders; Telefonica stock is up 3.5% despite its denial. Still, given the amount of money involved -- $93 billion, according to one report -- it would take a massive commitment to get the deal done.

Top European Stocks To Own For 2014: Aercap Holdings N.V. (AER)

AerCap Holdings N.V., through its subsidiaries, operates as an integrated aviation company worldwide. It engages in leasing and trading aircraft and engines; and selling parts. The company also provides aircraft management services, as well as aircraft and limited engine MRO services, and aircraft disassembly services through its repair stations. In addition, it offers aircraft services, including remarketing aircraft; collecting rental and maintenance payments, monitoring aircraft maintenance, monitoring and enforcing contract compliance, and accepting delivery and redelivery of aircraft; conducting ongoing lessee financial performance reviews; inspecting the leased aircraft; coordinating technical modifications to aircraft to meet new lessee requirements; conducting restructurings negotiations in connection with lease defaults; repossessing aircraft; arranging and monitoring insurance coverage; registering and de-registering aircraft; arranging for aircraft and aircraft engine valuations; and providing market research. The company?s management services include leasing and remarketing, cash management and treasury, technical advisory, and accounting and administrative services. As of March 31, 2011, it owned 272 aircraft and 95 engines, which it leased under operating leases to 118 lessees in 53 countries. The company was founded in 1995 and is headquartered in Schiphol, the Netherlands.

Advisors' Opinion:
  • [By Roberto Pedone]

    AerCap (AER) provides aircraft leasing and aviation finance services. This stock closed up 3.3% at $18 in Wednesday's trading session.

    Wednesday's Volume: 740,000

    Three-Month Average Volume: 318,589

    Volume % Change: 85%

    From a technical perspective, AER jumped higher here right above its 50-day moving average of $17.27 with above-average volume. This stock has been uptrending strong for the last five months, with shares moving higher from its low of $14.84 to its recent high of $18.16. During that uptrend, shares of AER have been making mostly higher lows and higher highs, which is bullish technical price action. That move has now pushed shares of AER within range of triggering a near-term breakout trade. That trade will hit if AER manages to take out its 52-week high at $18.16 with high volume.

    Traders should now look for long-biased trades in AER as long as it's trending above its 50-day at $17.27 or above more near-term support at $17.17 and then once it sustains a move or close above its 52-week high at $18.16 with volume that's near or above 318,589 shares. If that breakout hits soon, then AER will set up to enter new 52-week-high territory, which is bullish technical price action. Some possible upside targets off that move are $20 to $23.

  • [By Paul Ausick]

    More than two years ago, American International Group Inc. (NYSE: AIG) filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for an initial public offering (IPO) in its aircraft leasing group, International Lease Finance Corp. (ILFC). That filing came to nothing, and AIG found little interest from buyers for ILFC, until Monday morning when it announced that AerCap Holdings N.V. (NYSE: AER) will buy the leasing operation for $3 billion in cash and 97.56 million shares of new AerCap stock. The total value of the deal is approximately $5.4 billion.

Top European Stocks To Own For 2014: STMicroelectronics N.V.(STM)

STMicroelectronics N.V., an independent semiconductor company, engages in the design, development, manufacture, and marketing of a range of semiconductor integrated circuits and discrete devices. Its products include discrete and standard commodity components, application-specific integrated circuits, custom devices and semi-custom devices, and application-specific standard products for analog, digital, and mixed-signal applications. The company also offers subsystems and modules for the telecommunications, automotive, and industrial markets comprising mobile phone accessories, battery chargers, ISDN power supplies, and in-vehicle equipment for electronic toll payment, as well as provides Smartcard products. Its products are used in various microelectronic applications consisting of automotive products, computer peripherals, telecommunications systems, consumer products, industrial automation, and control systems. The company sells its products through distributors and ret ailers. STMicroelectronics N.V. was founded in 1987 and is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.

Advisors' Opinion:
  • [By Michael Allison]

    On Aug. 13, 2013, the company announced that shareholders of Energy Fuels overwhelmingly approved Energy Fuel's acquisition of Strathmore Minerals Corp. (STM). (See Energy Fuel's press release here.)

  • [By Evan Niu, CFA]

    STMicroelectronics (NYSE: STM  ) and OmniVision (NASDAQ: OVTI  ) are the two camera suppliers, and HTC is reportedly no longer considered a "tier one" manufacturer so it doesn't get priority any more. That implies that one of these image sensor specialists was giving HTC the cold shoulder in favor of bigger names.

  • [By Esekla]

    Like Universal Display, InvenSense (INVN) represents a good long-term opportunity in its own right. The price entry point is not quite as good, though it has pulled back under my more recent price target of $15, when reports of a long-awaited Apple design win were challenged. Though conversations between the two are ongoing, InvenSense management's comments indicate an unwillingness to get roped into wrecking margin for volume, like many other Apple suppliers. Consequently, I don't believe they will gain Apple as a customer until the release of an iWatch or similar device that absolutely requires InvenSense's best-in-class form factors and power usage. It's also possible that continued good news on their legal battles with ST Micro (STM) could move the stock.

Top European Stocks To Own For 2014: British American Tobacco Industries p.l.c.(BTI)

British American Tobacco p.l.c., through its subsidiaries, engages in the manufacture, distribution, and sale of tobacco products. The company offers cigars, cigarettes, smokeless snus, roll-your-own, and pipe tobacco products under the Dunhill, Kent, Lucky Strike, Pall Mall, Vogue, Viceroy, Kool, Rothmans, Peter Stuyvesant, Benson & Hedges, and State Express 555 brand names. It has operations in the Asia-Pacific, the Americas, eastern and western Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. The company was founded in 1902 and is headquartered in London, the United Kingdom. British American Tobacco p.l.c. operates independently of Remgro Ltd. as of November 03, 2008.

Advisors' Opinion:
  • [By Ben Levisohn]

    Given the size of a potential acquisition of Lorillard would be quite large, we question how a bid from [Reynolds American] would be financed. Therefore, we think a more likely deal could be a merger between [Lorillard] and�[Reynolds American] rather than an acquisition. Also, there has been speculation that British American Tobacco (BTI), which currently owns ~42% of�[Reynolds American's] stock, could take a majority stake in�[Reynolds American] after the standstill ends in July 2014. While we believe the most likely scenario is that [British American Tobacco] and�[Reynolds American] could reach a strategic partnership to market/sell e-cigs globally, we wouldn�� rule out�[British American Tobacco] taking a majority stake in [Reynolds American]. Furthermore, if this occurs,�[British American Tobacco] could help finance a potential acquisition of [Lorillard].

  • [By Alan Oscroft]

    British American Tobacco (LSE: BATS  ) (NYSEMKT: BTI  )
    Thursday will also bring us a first-quarter update from British American Tobacco, and yet again we're seeing a share price rise that has started to tail off. The price hit a 52-week peak of 3,640 pence on March 12 (the same day the FTSE 100 reached a five-year high of 6,534) but has since slipped back to 3,502 pence.

Top Forestry Stocks To Own For 2014

LONDON ��British drug maker AstraZeneca rejected Monday what its New York-based rival Pfizer called over the weekend its "final" takeover offer.

In a statement, AstraZeneca's board cited the "uncertainty and risks" for shareholders as a reason for the rejection, which came just hours after the maker of the erectile-dysfunction drug Viagra had upped the value of its bid to 55 pounds (around $93) a share in a deal that would have led to the world's largest drugs company.

Pfizer's latest bid that came Sunday night valued AstraZeneca at around $116 billion. It said the new offer would be its final one.

"Pfizer's approach throughout its pursuit of AstraZeneca appears to have been fundamentally driven by the corporate financial benefits to its shareholders of cost savings and tax minimization," Leif Johansson, AstraZeneca's chairman, said Monday.

Top Companies To Own For 2015: TrustCo Bank Corp NY(TRST)

TrustCo Bank Corp NY operates as the holding company for Trustco Bank that provides general banking services to individuals, partnerships, and corporations. The company primarily involves in accepting deposits, and making loans and investments. It also serves as the executor of estates and trustee of personal trusts; provides asset and wealth management, estate planning and related advice, and custodial services; and acts as the trustee for various types of employee benefit plans, and corporate pension and profit sharing trusts. In addition, the company operates a real estate investment trust that acquires, holds, and manages real estate mortgage assets, including residential mortgage loans and mortgage-backed securities. As of December, 2010, it operated 141 automatic teller machines and 134 banking offices in Albany, Columbia, Dutchess, Greene, Orange, Rensselaer, Rockland, Saratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie, Ulster, Warren, Washington, and Westchester counties in New York ; Charlotte, Hillsborough, Lake, Manatee, Orange, Osceola, Polk, Sarasota, Seminole, and Volusia counties in Florida; Bennington County in Vermont; Berkshire County in Massachusetts; and Bergen County in New Jersey. The company was founded in 1902 and is headquartered in Glenville, New York.

Advisors' Opinion:
  • [By Rick Munarriz]

    Monday
    The market kicks off with TrustCo (NASDAQ: TRST  ) reporting quarterly results on Monday. Many of the "too big to fail" institutions reported in recent days, but now it's time to check out some of the regional players. TrustCo has 138 offices through the Northeast and Florida, watching over $4.3 billion in assets.

Top Forestry Stocks To Own For 2014: Camtek Ltd (CAMT)

Camtek Ltd. (Camtek), incorporated in 1987, designs, develops, manufactures and markets automated solutions dedicated for enhancing production processes and yield for the semiconductor manufacturing and packaging and the printed circuit board (PCB) and integrated circuit (IC) substrate industries. Camtek also designs, develops, manufactures and markets automated optical inspection (AOI), systems and related products. The Company�� AOI systems are used to enhance both production processes and yields for manufacturers in the semiconductor manufacturing and packaging industry and PCB and IC Substrate industry. Through the acquisition of Printar's assets, it also engaged in developing, manufacturing, sale and marketing of direct digital material deposition systems and inks for the PCB industry, with two major fields of activity: Solder Mask and Legend. In addition, through the acquisition of Sela, it is also engaged in the development, manufacturing and marketing of automated scanning electron microscope (SEM) and transmission electron microscope (TEM) sample preparation equipment, primarily for the semiconductor industry.

As of December 31, 2011, the Company had sold more than 2,500 AOI systems in 34 countries worldwide. The Company's PCB customer base includes the majority of the 100 PCB manufacturers worldwide. As of December 31, 2011, it had sold over 300 Falcon systems to more than 25 semiconductor manufacturers, among them outsourced semiconductor assembly and test (OSAT), integrated device manufacturers (IDM) and wafer level packaging subcontractors, including eight out of the top 10 semiconductors companies.

Camtek�� AOI systems consist of an electro-optical assembly unit, either movable or fixed, which consists of a video camera, precision optics and illumination sources. The electro-optical unit captures the image of the inspected product; a precise, either movable or fixed table, that holds the inspected product, and an electronic hardware unit, which operates the! entire system and includes embedded components that process and analyze the captured image by using its algorithms. Its systems can also compile and communicate statistical reports of inspection findings through the customer�� factory information system. The Company offers a range of systems for automated optical inspection of semiconductor wafers, IC substrates and PCBs. These systems are used to enhance production yields and assist in controlling manufacturing processes at wafer fabrication, test and assembly houses, and PCB plants worldwide.

The Company�� Falcon systems are designed for the back end market of the semiconductor industry. The Falcon�� advanced algorithms and inspection capabilities enable its dedicated models to detect defects in the die, which, if left undetected, may cause failure. The Condor is designed to meet the current and future inspection needs of the semiconductor industry. The Condor, through algorithms and advanced hardware configuration, is designed to enhance two dimensional (2D) and three dimensional (3D) detection abilities and increased throughput. The Condor family includes models for: 3D and 2D metrology and inspection of bumped-wafer prepared for packaging in the flip-chip technology; 2D metrology and inspection of finished wafers at the end of their manufacturing process and in test houses; Post-dicing inspection of frame-mounted wafers at assembly and packaging facilities, where it adds the value of detecting dicing-related damage, and inspection and metrology of micro-electro mechanical systems (MEMS) and other special applications.

Condor 5LED is an AOI system designed to provide solutions to a range of requirements that are to light emitting diode (LED) semiconductor manufacturers. The LED market�� special inspection requirements are characterized by 3-6 inch wafers, each of which may contain between 100 to over 200 thousand LED devices per wafer. Typically, the wafer is made of a translucent compound semiconductor, such as g! allium ar! senide, gallium phosphide and/or indium phosphide. The Gannet system is designed for the front end market of the semiconductor industry.

The Company�� AOI products for this industry consist of five product lines: the Phoenix, Dragon and Orion for the inspection of inner and outer layers of PCB panels and ultra-fine-line IC substrate; large area masks (LAM) dedicated for inspection of artwork; and the Pegasus for final inspection (AFI) of IC substrates and high density interconnect (HDI) panels. The Phoenix product family, introduced in November 2011, is designed to support a range of the demanding PCB and IC substrate applications, while keeping in pace with the dynamic technology changes in the industry. The Phoenix product family is enhanced with Spark - Camtek's and detection engine providing high detection capabilities, while minimizing false calls.

Dragon systems are high-throughput, automation-ready systems for inspection of all PCB types in a mass production environment. Dragon models are optimized for specific PCB technology ranges - from mainstream circuits of typically 100 (microns) conductor line width, up to high density substrates having 12 (microns) wide conductive lines. All Dragon models are designed to interface with automated material handling mechanisms provided by the Company or other automation suppliers. Orion systems are stand-alone AOI systems for high volume inspection of all PCB types designed to operate in inspectify mode of operation. Inspectify is a mode of operation enabling the operator to perform verification immediately after inspection on the same system, thus saving time and eliminating handling-related defects.

LAM is specially designed for main-stream LAM inspection. It offers unparalleled detection ability on LAM with down to 25 (microns) line/space width technology. The LAM incorporates advanced technology innovations to ensure the level of detection that these masks require at this critical production stage. Camtek offers! various ! stand-alone verification systems that enable verification of panels after inspection. The Pegasus line includes systems for automated inspection of finished IC substrates that are subsequently used in packaging of ball grid array (BGA) and Chip Scale Package (CSP) devices. The Pegasus inspects both sides of the substrate, detecting process and mechanical defects, in particular in the gold-plated areas, where the substrate will interconnect with the silicon die or the PCB, and in the solder-mask areas. Pegasus models handle substrates in strip format in magazines.

GreenJet is a SM digital printing system aimed to replace the conventional SM application lines for prototypes and high mix low volume production. The GreenJet system offers manufacturers flexible and digital SM printing technology solution. The LGP system incorporates PCB digital legend printing technologies with specially developed heat curable ink, resulting in output and system performance. Camtek has developed the inks for both LGP and GreenJet, which involves different chemicals mixed together in order to reach the required ink characterization.

The Company competes with Rudolph Technologies Inc., KLA-Tencor Corporation, Topcon Corporation, Toray Industries, Inc., Hitachi Ltd., Nidec Tosok Corporation., FEI Company, SII Nanotechnology Japan, Carl Zeiss, Inc., Orbotech Ltd., Dainippon Screen Manufacturing Company, Lloyd-Doyle Limited, Gigavis Co. Ltd., ATI Electronics Pty Ltd., Shirai Electronics Industrial Co. Ltd., First EIE SA and MicroCraft K.K.

Advisors' Opinion:
  • [By Garrett Cook]

    Technology shares gained around 1.13 percent in Tuesday’s trading. Top gainers in the sector included iGATE (NASDAQ: IGTE), up 7.7 percent, and Camtek (NASDAQ: CAMT), up 9.8 percent.

  • [By James E. Brumley]

    It took about three nanoseconds for the market to fall in love with Camtek LTD (NASDAQ:CAMT) a couple of days ago after it announced it would soon be introducing a 3D printer that could print circuit boards; the mere mention of the term "3d printers" is enough to incite bullish hysteria. And, it only took another three nanoseconds for the market to begin comparing CAMT to VJET... the ticker symbol for the equally-obscure (until recently anyway) 3D printer company called Voxeljet AG (NYSE:VJET). Indeed, Camtek LTD was posed as "the next Voxeljet AG", which is nothing less than amazing because nobody is all that clear yet on what the real Voxeljet is. But, just for the record, enthusiasts and shareholders better hope CAMT isn't following in the footsteps of VJET, as the rug got pulled out from underneath Voxeljet AG a few days ago, shocking anyone and everyone who drank the Kool-Aid.

  • [By Paul Ausick]

    Then there�� Camtek Ltd. (NASDAQ: CAMT) with a far more modest forward multiple of 17.6 as of today. But Camtek doesn’t have a 3D printer for sale yet, it only referred to a 3D printer during its November earnings conference call, saying that it was still too early for the company to estimate the impact of a planned 2014 introduction for its 3D printing device that will produce printed circuit boards (PCBs).

  • [By Bryan Murphy]

    It's fun to be right, but it's also important to be right in a sustainable way. Otherwise, what's the point? While it remains to be seen if yours truly was right regarding his call last week on Camtek LTD. (NASDAQ:CAMT) [it's not looking ideal], it's worth another look at CAMT, if only to see how much progress has been made and what needs to happen now.

Top Forestry Stocks To Own For 2014: Belden Inc (BDC)

Belden Inc. (Belden), incorporated on May 18, 1988, designs, manufactures and markets cable, connectivity, and networking products in markets including industrial, enterprise, and broadcast. The Company operates in three segments: the Americas segment, the Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) segment and the Asia Pacific segment. The Company�� offers cable, connectivity and networking products, including power generation and distribution, data centers, oil and gas, broadcast, transportation, healthcare and industrial automation. In December 2012, Carlisle Companies Inc acquired Thermax-Raydex business from the Company. In December 2012, the Company sold Consumer Electronics Assets in China to Shenzhen Woer Heat-Shrinkable Material Co Ltd. During the year ended December 31, 2012, the Company acquired Miranda Technologies Inc. (Miranda).

The categories of cable products are copper cables, including shielded and unshielded twisted pair cables, coaxial cables, and stranded cables, fiber optic cables, which transmit light signals through glass or plastic fibers and composite cables, which are combinations of multiconductor, coaxial, and fiber optic cables jacketed together or otherwise joined together to serve complex applications and provide ease of installation. Connectivity products include fiber and copper connectors for the enterprise, broadcast, broadband, and industrial markets. Networking products include Industrial Ethernet switches and related equipment and security features, fiber optic interfaces and media converters used to bridge fieldbus networks over long distances, networking infrastructure for the television broadcast, cable, satellite and IPTV industry, and load-moment indicators for mobile cranes and other load-bearing equipment.

For industrial end markets, the Company supplies cable, connectivity, and networking products for applications ranging from advanced industrial networking and robotics to traditional instrumentation and control systems. The Compa! ny�� cable products are used in discrete manufacturing and process operations involving the connection of computers, programmable controllers, robots, operator interfaces, motor drives, sensors, printers and other devices. The Company sells its industrial products primarily through value-added resellers, industrial distributors, and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). It designs, manufactures and markets Industrial Ethernet switches and related equipment, both rail-mounted and rack-mounted, for factory automation, power generation and distribution, process automation, and infrastructure projects, such as bridges, wind farms and airport runways. It also designs, manufactures and markets fiber optic interfaces and media converters. In addition, it designs, manufactures, and markets a range of industrial connectors for sensors and actuators, cord-sets, distribution boxes, and fieldbus communications. These products are used both as components of manufacturing equipment and in the installation and networking of such equipment. The Company also designs, manufactures and markets load-moment indicators. Its switches, communications equipment, connectors, and load-moment indicators are sold directly to industrial equipment OEMs and through a network of distributors and system integrators.

For enterprise end markets, the Company supplies structured cabling solutions, connectors, and networking products for the electronic and optical transmission of data, sound, and video over local- and wide- area networks. Products for this market include copper cables including 10-gigabit Ethernet technologies, fiber optic cables, connectors, wiring racks, panels, interconnecting hardware, intelligent patching devices, and cable management solutions for complete end-to-end network structured wiring systems. End-use customers include hospitals, financial institutions, governments, service providers, and data centers. Its systems are installed through a network of trained system integrators and are supplied t! hrough au! thorized distributors.

For broadcast end markets, the Company is a provider of hardware and software solutions for the television broadcast, cable, satellite and IPTV industry. Its solutions also span the full breadth of television operations, including production, playout and delivery. The Company also manufactures a variety of multiconductor and coaxial cable and connector products, which distributes audio and video signals for use in broadcast television including digital television and high definition television, broadcast radio, pre- and post-production facilities, recording studios, and public facilities such as casinos, arenas, and stadiums. Its audio/video cables are also used in connection with microphones, musical instruments, audio mixing consoles, effects equipment, speakers, paging systems, and consumer audio products.

The Company manufactures networking infrastructure products for the television broadcast, cable, satellite and IPTV industry. Its primary market channels for this broadcast, music, and entertainment products are broadcast specialty distributors and audio systems installers. It also sells directly to music OEMs and the television networks including ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC. The Company also provides specialized cables for security applications such as video surveillance systems, airport baggage screening, building access control, motion detection, public address systems, and advanced fire alarm systems. It manufactures flexible, copper-clad coaxial cable and associated connector products for the high-speed transmission of data, sound, and video (broadband) that are used for the drop section of cable television (CATV) systems and satellite direct broadcast systems.

For the broadband end market, Belden manufactures and develops connectivity solutions in several product categories: coax connector products that allow for connections from the provider network to the subscribers��devices, hardline connectors that allow service providers to dist! ribute th! eir services within a city, a town or a neighborhood and entry devices that serves to manage and remove network signal noise that could impair performance for the subscriber, and traps and filtering devices that allow service providers to control the signals that are transmitted to the subscriber.

During 2012, the Americas segment contributed approximately 64% of its consolidated revenues. This segment sells the full array of its products for the industrial, enterprise,and broadcast markets. The EMEA segment contributed approximately 19% of its consolidated revenues. This segment sells the full array of its products for the industrial, enterprise,and broadcast markets. The Asia Pacific segment contributed approximately 17% its consolidated revenues. This segment sells the full array of its products for the industrial, enterprise,and broadcast markets.

Advisors' Opinion:
  • [By John Seward]

    Belden Inc. (NYSE: BDC) will replace Fidelity National Inc. (NYSE: FNF) in the S&P MidCap 400 June 30, when Synergy Resources (AMEX: SYRG) will replace Belden in the S&P SmallCap 600. Fidelity is reclassifying its shares into two tracking stocks which are ineligible for S&P indexes.

  • [By Seth Jayson]

    Belden (NYSE: BDC  ) reported earnings on May 2. Here are the numbers you need to know.

    The 10-second takeaway
    For the quarter ended March 31 (Q1), Belden met expectations on revenues and beat expectations on earnings per share.

Top Forestry Stocks To Own For 2014: iShares Mortgage Real Estate Capped ETF (REM)

iShares FTSE NAREIT Mortgage REITs Index Fund (the Fund) seeks investment results that correspond generally to the price and yield performance of the FTSE NAREIT Mortgage REITs Index (the Index). The Index measures the performance of the residential and commercial mortgage real estate sector of the United States equity market.

The Fund will concentrate its investments in a particular industry or group of industries to approximately the same extent as the Index is so concentrated. The Fund�� investment advisor is Barclays Global Fund Advisors.

Advisors' Opinion:
  • [By Doug Fabian]

    The iShares Mortgage Real Estate Capped (REM) is an ETF that contains a basket of the biggest and best mortgage REITs on the market today.

    This fund is pegged to the FTSE NAREIT All Mortgage Capped Index, a benchmark measure that includes top names in the space such as Annaly Capital (NLY), American Capital Agency Corp. (AGNC), Starwood Property Trust (STWD) and Two Harbors Investment Corp. (TWO).

  • [By Peter F. Way]

    An ETF of the mREITs exists, the iShares Mortgage Real Estate Capped (REM). For comparison, its past two-year price history is contrasted with the general market (SPY) and another income alternative the iShares US Preferred Stock ETF (PFF).

  • [By Charles Sizemore]

    So, I repeat: use the recent yield spike as an opportunity to scoop up your favorite income investments. If you want to take a modest risk, follow Gundlach�� advice and accumulate mortgage REITs. Your easiest one-stop shop during the market’s taper tantrum would be the iShares Mortgage Real Estate ETF (REM).

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Top 5 Financial Stocks To Buy Right Now

To a greater extent than usual, the movement of currencies are driving the prices of global stocks and bonds, and shaping monetary policies in key emerging markets, writes MoneyShow's Jim Jubak, also of Jubak's Picks.

Do you know the facts of life of the global currency market right now?

Is the US dollar headed up or down over the next few weeks? How about the Japanese yen? Is the Indian rupee and the Turkish lira and the South African rand headed into a crisis? How about the Brazilian real?

I'm asking because, right now, global cash flows-into some developed markets and out or most emerging markets-are driving the prices of global stocks and bonds. The effects of those cash flows are being expressed in the prices of currencies, such as the dollar and the real.

The movements of those currencies are both, the vehicle for those cash flows-the way that they're being turned into rallies and corrections in the financial markets-and, increasingly, the fundamental driver for price movements in those markets as the ups and downs of currencies cause changes in monetary policies in countries such as Brazil and India.

Top 5 Quality Stocks To Own For 2015: iShares Russell 3000 Index Fund (IWV)

iShares Russell 3000 Index Fund (the Fund) seeks investment results that correspond generally to the price and yield performance of the Russell 3000 Index (the Index). The Index measures the performance of the United States equity market. The Index serves as the underlying index for Russell 3000 Growth and Value Series, and the Russell 1000 and Russell 2000 Indexes, as well as their respective Growth and Value series. The Index is a capitalization-weighted index and consists of the 3000 largest companies domiciled in the United States and its territories.

The Fund invests in a representative sample of securities included in the Index that collectively has an investment profile similar to the Index. iShares Russell 3000 Index Fund's investment advisor is Barclays Global Fund Advisors.

Advisors' Opinion:
  • [By John Maxfield]

    Over the past five years, this ETF has beaten the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) by 23 percentage points. It's outperformed the Russell 3000 (NYSEMKT: IWV  ) by 21 percentage points. And it's done the same to the eponymous S&P 500, exceeding it by 11 percentage points.

Top 5 Financial Stocks To Buy Right Now: iShares Micro-Cap ETF (IWC)

iShares Russell Microcap Index Fund (the Fund) seeks investment results that correspond generally to the price and yield performance of the Russell Microcap Index (the Index). The Index measures the micro-cap sector of the United States equity market and consists of those securities having the highest historical trading volumes of that index. The Index is a capitalization-weighted index and includes companies ranging in total market capitalization from approximately $50 million to $550 million.

The Index represents approximately 3% of the market capitalization of listed United States equity securities. The Fund uses a representative sampling strategy in seeking to track the Index. iShares Russell Microcap Index Fund's investment advisor is Barclays Global Fund Advisors.

Advisors' Opinion:
  • [By Jim Fink]

    Simply buying a small-cap ETF like the iShares Russell 2000 (NYSE: IWM) of the iShares Russell Microcap (NYSE: IWC) doesn’t work. Over the past 11 years, the Russell 2000 index (median market  cap of $460 million) has declined in January seven times (64% of the time) and has actually performed worse than the S&P 500 a majority of the time (6 out of 11). The Russell Microcap index (median market cap of $152 million) has only been around for seven Januarys (since 2006) and it has underperformed the S&P 500 in four of those years (a majority of the time). December relative performance has been no better for IWM, which underperformed the S&P 500 a majority of the time over the past 11 years, but IWC has done much better in December, outperforming the S&P 500 in each of its first seven years of existence. Like I said earlier, however, microcap “gains” are suspect.

Top 5 Financial Stocks To Buy Right Now: Pebblebrook Hotel Trust(PEB)

Pebblebrook Hotel Trust, through Pebblebrook Hotel, L.P., operates as a real estate investment trust. The company acquires and invests primarily in hotel properties located in the United States. It holds interests in the Doubletree Bethesda Hotel and Executive Meeting Center located in Bethesda, Maryland; Sir Francis Drake Hotel located in San Francisco, California; and InterContinental Buckhead Hotel located in Atlanta, Georgia. As a REIT, the company is not subject to federal income tax to the extent that it distributes at least 90% of its taxable income to its shareholders. The company was founded in 2009 and is based in Bethesda, Maryland.

Advisors' Opinion:
  • [By Jonas Elmerraji]

    Small-cap hotel investment REIT Pebblebrook Hotel Trust (PEB) is setting up a similar pattern to the one in EXR -- with a few exceptions.

    PEB isn't forming an ascending triangle; support isn't in the same sort of uptrend in this stock. Instead, PEB is forming a rounding pattern with resistance at $28. Rounding patterns look just like they sound -- they indicate a shift in control from sellers to buyers. While this setup is most common as a "bottoming" pattern, PEB's price action doesn't change the implications if shares can break out above $28. That's our buy signal.

    Whenever you're looking at any technical price pattern, it's critical to think in terms of buyers and sellers. Triangles, rectangles and other price pattern names are a good quick way to explain what's going on in this stock, but they're not the reason it's tradable. Instead, it all comes down to supply and demand for shares.

    That resistance line at $28 is a price where there's an excess of supply of shares; in other words, it's a place where sellers have been more eager to take recent gains and sell their shares than buyers have been to buy. That's what makes the move above it so significant -- a breakout indicates that buyers are finally strong enough to absorb all of the excess supply above that price level. Wait for that signal to happen before you jump into this stock.

  • [By James E. Brumley]

    In a perfect world, an investor could simply look at a company's history and its plausible earnings forecasts, and jump in (or out) knowing the stock's current price basically made sense with respect to past and future performance. We don't live or trade in a perfect world though. In the world we're actually in right now, most stocks, sectors, and industries have run up far beyond a justifiable value... perhaps except for hotel and lodging REIT stocks Host Hotels and Resorts Inc. (NYSE:HST), Strategic Hotels and Resorts Inc. (NYSE:BEE), and Pebblebrook Hotel Trust (NYSE:PEB).

  • [By Marc Bastow]

    Hotel properties real estate investment trust Pebblebrook Hotel Trust (PEB) raised its quarterly dividend 44% to 23 cents per share, payable April 15 to shareholders of record as of March 31.
    PEB Dividend Yield: 2.58%

  • [By Rich Duprey]

    Hotel operator�Pebblebrook Hotel Trust (NYSE: PEB  ) announced today its second-quarter dividend of $0.16 per share, the same rate it paid last quarter after raising the payout 33% from $0.12 per share.

Top 5 Financial Stocks To Buy Right Now: SEI Investments Co (SEIC)

SEI Investments Company (SEI), incorporated on November 18, 1968, is a global provider of investment processing, investment management, and investment operations solutions. The Company helps corporations, financial institutions, financial advisors, and ultra-high-net-worth families create and manage wealth by providing comprehensive, investment and investment-business solutions. The Company�� business segments include Private Banks , Investment Advisors , Institutional Investors, Investment Managers and Investments in New Businesses.

The Company�� wealth management business solutions include investment processing outsourcing solutions for banks, trust companies, independent wealth advisers, and investment managers; investment management programs for affluent individual investors and for institutional investors, including retirement plan sponsors, and not-for-profit organizations; and investment operations outsourcing solutions for investment management firms, banks and investment companies that sponsor and distribute mutual funds, hedge funds, and alternative investments.

The Company�� Investment processing solutions consist of application and business process outsourcing services, professional services, and transaction-based services. It delivers these solutions to providers of institutional and private client wealth management services, including banks, trust companies, independent wealth advisers, and other financial services firms. It also delivers these solutions, combined with its investment management programs, to investment advisory firms and other financial services firms that provide wealth management services to their advisory clients. The Company�� investment processing solutions are enabled through two platforms, TRUST 3000 and the Global Wealth Platform (GWP).

Investment management programs consists of money market, fixed-income and equity mutual funds and other collective investment products, alternative investment portfolios, and separate! ly managed accounts. The Company serves as the sponsor, administrator and investment advisor for many of these products. It distributes these programs primarily through investment advisory firms, including investment advisors and banks, and directly to institutional or individual investors. Investment operations outsourcing solutions consist of accounting and administration services, and distribution support services. It delivers these solutions to investment management firms that offer traditional and alternative products.

Private Banks

The Private Banks segment delivers a comprehensive outsourcing solution integrating investment processing services, investment management and distribution programs, and business to banks and trust institutions worldwide, independent wealth advisers and other wealth managers located in the United Kingdom, and financial advisors in Canada. The Company owns, maintains and operates the software applications and information processing facilities for all of its investment processing solutions.

Private banks and other trust organizations who utilizes its TRUST 3000 application solution outsource investment processing technology software and computer processing, but retain responsibility for investment operations, client administration, and investment management. These clients operate its TRUST 3000 application remotely while fully supported by its data center using dedicated telecommunications networks.

Investment Advisors

The Investment Advisors segment offers wealth management solutions to registered investment advisors, many of whom are affiliated with or are registered as independent broker-dealers, financial planners, and life insurance agents located throughout the United States. These wealth management solutions include the Company�� investment management programs and back-office investment processing outsourcing services and are usually offered on a bundled basis. Its solutions helps investment ! advisors ! reduce risk, improve quality, and gain operational efficiency to devote more of their resources to servicing their clients and acquiring new clients. Advisors are responsible for the investor relationship which includes creating financial plans, implementing investment strategies and educating and servicing their customers. Advisors may customize portfolios to include separate account managers provided through its programs as well as SEI-sponsored mutual funds.

Institutional Investors

The Institutional Investors segment offers investment management programs and administrative outsourcing solutions for retirement plan sponsors, hospitals, and not-for-profit organizations globally. Clients can outsource their investment management needs and the administration for defined benefit plans, defined contribution plans, endowments, foundations, and other balance sheet assets. The fiduciary management outsourcing program provides a strategic platform integrating the Manager-of-Managers investment process, plan administration services, and consulting services. Plan administration services include trustee, custodial, benefit payment services, record-keeping services, and donor administration. Consulting services include actuarial services, asset liability modeling, and the customization of an asset allocation.

Investment Managers

The Investment Managers segment provides a platform of comprehensive investment operations outsourcing solutions to investment managers globally. This array of front-, middle- and back-office investment processing services integrates industry tools and technology to support a manager's diverse business needs across multiple product types and structures, investment strategies and asset classes. The Company provides outsourcing services including fund and investment accounting, administration, reconciliation, investor servicing and client reporting. It also provides comprehensive solutions to managers focused on alternative investments who ! manage he! dge funds, funds of hedge funds, private equity funds, real estate and infrastructure funds, across registered, partnership and separate account structures domiciled in the United States and overseas.

Investments in New Businesses

The Investments in New Businesses segment represents other business ventures or research and development activities intended to expand its solutions to new or existing markets including ultra-high-net-worth families who reside in the United States. This segment includes the costs associated with business development in the Middle East through its Dubai office and the development of a Internet-based investment management application. The family wealth management solution offers flexible family-office type services through a personalized solution while utilizing the Manager-of-Managers investment process.

The Company competes with Fidelity National Information Services, Inc., SunGard Data Systems Inc., State Street Corporation, Fi-Tek LLC, Charles Schwab & Co., Inc.,Fidelity Investments,Pershing LLC, FNZ UK Ltd., Temenos Group AG, Avaloq, TD Direct Investing (Europe) Ltd.,Russell Investment Group,Franklin Templeton Investments,AssetMark Investment Services Inc., Brinker Capital, EnvestNet Asset Management, Inc., Lockwood Advisors, Inc., Charles Schwab & Co., Inc., Northern Trust Corporation, State Street and BNY Mellon.

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 SEI Investments (Nasdaq: SEIC  ) , whose recent revenue and earnings are plotted below.

  • [By Marc Bastow]

    Investment and fund processing and management company SEI Investments (SEIC) raised its semi-annual dividend 10% 22 cents per share, payable on Jan. 10 to shareholders of record as of Dec. 23.
    SEIC Dividend Yield: 1.33%