In spite of America's sweet tooth, the country is awash in sugar. So much so that the Agriculture Dept. wants to use a little-known portion of the 2008 Farm Bill to buy up surplus supplies to raise the commodity's price. At the same time, it will sell the surplus to ethanol producers at a loss. The likely big winner in all this? Monsanto (NYSE: MON ) .
Big rock candy mountain
The U.S. produced 8-million metric tons of sugar last year, making it one of the world's largest producers. Of that amount, 55% of it was derived from sugar beets, of which Monsanto's genetically modified seeds own 95% of that portion.
The remaining 45% came from sugarcane. As the USDA notes,�U.S. sugar prices have been well above world prices since 1982 because the government supports domestic sugar prices through loans to processors and a marketing allotment program.�Lately, though, sugar has been selling at its lowest level in four years, which jeopardizes growers who've taken out loans from the USDA when prices were higher.�Last week, the agency asked the Obama administration to allow it to buy hundreds of thousands of tons of sugar under a sugar-for-ethanol program called the�Feedstock Flexibility Program. Since it's required by law to prop up sugar processors, it says that this is the cheapest way it can do it.
Top 5 Cheap Companies To Buy For 2014: Whole Foods Market Inc.(WFM)
Whole Foods Market, Inc. engages in the ownership and operation of natural and organic food supermarkets. The company offers produce, seafood, grocery, meat and poultry, bakery, prepared foods and catering, coffee and tea, nutritional supplements, and vitamins. It also provides specialty products, such as beer, wine, and cheese; body care and educational products, such as books; and floral, pet, and household products. As of February 9, 2011, the company operated 302 stores in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Whole Foods Market, Inc. was founded in 1978 and is headquartered in Austin, Texas.Advisors' Opinion:
- [By James K. Glassman]
Executives at Whole Foods seem to have learned from their past money mistakes. After pushing too fast for growth and acquiring Wild Oats for a pricey $565 million in 2007, the company needed to pull out of its debt with an infusion of cash from private equity firm Leonard Green.
Now, the company's keeping its powder dry and its cash cushion stuffed. The high-end grocer is ramping up growth again, but this time, without depleting its cash hoard; it plans to open 25 new stores in this fiscal year that ends in October and 28 to 32 the following year. The company raised its dividend in January by 4 cents, to 14 cents per share. The stock, at $94.46, yields 0.6%.
Whole Foods had a cash flow of $755 million last year, with capital expenditures of $167 million.
- [By Chris Stuart]
Whole Foods Market(WFM) has turned in a lackluster performance over the past three months, with the shares down 6%, trailing the food-and-staples industry by over 7%. Investors, concerned about the sluggish economy, have avoided the company.
But the news has been good, as the company issued a bright outlook for the remainder of 2011. At first glance, the shares don't look cheap. Based on the expectations from management for $1.87-$1.90 EPS for 2011, the stock trades at a P/E multiple of roughly 32 times 2011 earnings. But Bank of America-Merrill Lynch analysts argue the stock looks attractive and maintain a $68 price target.
"We believe WFM's valuation is attractive given its strategy to improve its competitive price position and enhance its cost discipline, which broadens its growth prospects and supports an outlook for improving returns while lowering the company's operating risk profile," Merrill analysts say.
TheStreet Ratings has a slightly more optimistic $77 price target on shares of Whole Foods Markets. Note that the shares jumped $4 on Tuesday, based on upbeat comments from the company's CEO, who said the natural-foods grocer is gaining market share and he is "feeling pretty bullish" about Whole Foods' future. Despite the gain, I would still consider an investment.
Top 5 Cheap Companies To Buy For 2014: LifePoint Hospitals Inc.(LPNT)
LifePoint Hospitals Inc., through its subsidiaries, operates general acute care hospitals in non-urban communities in the United States. The company?s hospitals provide a range of medical and surgical services comprising general surgery, internal medicine, obstetrics, emergency room care, radiology, oncology, diagnostic care, coronary care, rehabilitation services, and pediatric services, as well as specialized services, such as open-heart surgery, skilled nursing, psychiatric care, and neuro-surgery. Its hospitals also offer outpatient services, including one-day surgery, laboratory, x-ray, respiratory therapy, imaging, sports medicine, and lithotripsy. As of December 31, 2009, LifePoint Hospitals owned or leased 47 hospitals with a total of 5,552 licensed beds in 17 states. The company was founded in 1997 and is headquartered in Brentwood, Tennessee. Lifepoint Hospitals Inc. (NasdaqNM:LPNT) operates independently of HCA Inc. as of May 11, 1999.Advisors' Opinion:
- [By Vatalyst]
Life Point Hospitals (LPNT) operates general acute care hospitals in growing, non urban areas in the US. It looks to acquire hospitals where it will be the sole provider to the community.
On the earnings front, it had a good first quarter, beating analyst estimates. The common stock currently trades at a price to earnings ratio of 10.1, well below its 10 year historical average of 13.5. Its price to book ratio stands at 0.82 with price to cash flow being 5.1.
Best Services Stocks To Own Right Now: UnitedHealth Group Incorporated(UNH)
UnitedHealth Group Incorporated provides healthcare services in the United States. Its Health Benefits segment offers consumer-oriented health benefit plans and services to national employers, public sector employers, mid-sized employers, small businesses, and individuals; and non-employer based insurance options for purchase by individuals. It also provides health and well-being services for individuals aged 50 and older; and for services dealing with chronic disease and other specialized issues for older individuals, as well as health plans for the beneficiaries of acute and long-term care Medicaid plans. This segment offers its services through a network of 730,000 physicians and other health care professionals, and 5,300 hospitals. Its OptumHealth segment provides health, financial, and ancillary services and products that assist consumers through personalized health management solutions; benefit administration, and clinical and network management; health-based financi al services; behavioral solutions; and specialty benefits, such as dental, vision, life, critical illness, short-term disability, and stop-loss product offerings. The company?s Ingenix segment offers database and data management services, software products, publications, consulting and actuarial services, business process outsourcing services, and pharmaceutical data consulting and research services. Its Prescription Solutions segment provides integrated pharmacy benefit management services comprising retail network pharmacy contracting and management, claims processing, mail order pharmacy services, specialty pharmacy, benefit design consultation, rebate contracting and management, drug utilization review, formulary management programs, disease therapy management, and adherence programs to employer groups, union trusts, managed care organizations, Medicare-contracted plans, Medicaid plans, and third party administrators. The company was founded in 1974 and is based in Minne tonka, Minnesota.Advisors' Opinion:
- [By Vatalyst]
United Health Group (UNH) provides health care benefits to over 32 million people in the US. In 2010, UNH was ranked second in enrollments.
The first two quarters for 2011 was strong with second quarter earnings beating analyst estimates. This was mainly due to increased enrollment and premium hikes.
From a valuation perspective, the common stock currently trades at a price to earnings ratio of 10, below is historical average of 13.5. Price to book value is 1.75, and price to cash flow is 8.
- [By Ken Sweet]
Shareholders of UnitedHealth (UNH) reaped the rewards this year from the managed care company's strong profits and upbeat guidance.
UnitedHealth raised its full-year guidance in late April to $3.95 to $4.05 a share, well ahead of analysts' forecasts. The company also increased its quarterly dividend last month to 16.25 cents a share, from 12.5 cents a share.
UnitedHealth's performance is also tied to what has been broad investor interest in healthcare stocks this year as a defensive play against what has been a recently downward-trending market.
- [By Jon C. Ogg]
UnitedHealth Group Inc. (NYSE: UNH) is the newest of the DJIA components, now that Kraft Foods has split itself up. The health insurance giant closed out 2013 at $54.24, and that was well off the 52-week high, as its range in the past year was $49.82 to $60.75. Analysts believe that the stock will rise some 23.4% to $66.97 by the end of 2013. The insurer has a lower dividend than most DJIA stocks, at only about 1.6%, and its market value is close to $55 billion. UnitedHealth so far has recovered only about half of its losses from last summer.
Top 5 Cheap Companies To Buy For 2014: USG Corporation(USG)
USG Corporation, through its subsidiaries, engages in the manufacture and distribution of building materials worldwide. The company offers gypsum and related products, including gypsum wallboard, joint compounds used for finishing wallboard joints, cement boards, glass mat sheathing, gypsum fiber panels, poured gypsum underlayments, ultra light panels, and various construction plaster products. Its gypsum products are used in various building applications to finish the interior walls, ceilings, and floors in residential, commercial, and institutional constructions, and repair and remodel constructions. The company also produces gypsum-based products for agricultural and industrial customers to use in various applications, including soil conditioning, road repair, fireproofing, and ceramics. In addition, it manufactures ceiling grid and acoustical ceiling tile for electrical and mechanical systems, and air distribution and maintenance applications. USG Corporation distribut es its gypsum products through specialty wallboard distributors, building materials dealers, home improvement centers and other retailers, contractors, and a network of distributors. Further, it distributes other manufacturers? gypsum wallboard, joint compound and other gypsum products, as well as drywall metal, insulation, and roofing products and accessories. The company sells its products under SHEETROCK, DUROCK, FIBEROCK, SECUROCK, LEVELROCK, RED TOP, IMPERIAL, DIAMOND, SUPREMO, AURATONE, ACOUSTONE, DONN, DX, FINELINE, CENTRICITEE, CURVATURA, and COMPASSO brands. The company was founded in 1901 and is based in Chicago, Illinois.Advisors' Opinion:
- [By seekingalpha.com]
USG is a worldwide producer of building materials, primarily gypsum wallboard, which is used for repair and construction.
Shares are trading at $8.17 at the time of writing, at the lower end of their 52-week trading range of $7.88 to $19.91. At the current market price, the company is capitalized at $860.22 million. Earnings per share for the last fiscal year were -$3.87, and it paid no dividend.
These earnings are expected to remain negative through the next couple of years, though the loss per share is expected to reduce to $1.60 in 2012. Revenue during this time is forecast to increase to around $3.25 billion.
The story with USG is all about its debt. With $2.31 billion of debt under its belt, it has very little room to maneuver. With a patchy economy going forward, the company may find it hard to cut its loss per share by the amount that it needs to. Consequently, it may struggle to return to profitability. Given its debt, the book value of the shares is $5.01. Action looks to be time critical now. With S&P (MHP) recently cutting USG’s credit rating, it may soon be time for the company to go to the market to raise cash.
If the company can address its burgeoning debt, then it may look attractive. Until then, avoid.
Top 5 Cheap Companies To Buy For 2014: 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 Sy_Harding]
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- [By John Grgurich]
To any investors following the financial sector in 2012, it will come perhaps as no surprise that B of A is the year's top financials performer: moving from $5.81 per share to its year high of $11.61, for a whopping percentage gain of 100.17%. At the height of the financial crisis, in February 2009, B of A's stock traded for as low as $3.95.