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Best Stock Picks

In this column, Mr. Berko shares with us 9 best stock picks as shared to him by his “stock maven” friend.

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Best Stock Picks

In this column, Mr. Berko shares with us 9 best stock picks as shared to him by his “stock maven” friend.

Best Stock Picks

Dear Mr. Berko:

Please recommend about 10 stocks that are not well-known on Wall Street, are seldom touted by research departments and have, in your opinion, good appreciation potential over the next 18 to 24 months. I’m comfortable with low to moderate risk. — DB, Fort Walton Beach, Fla.

Dear DB:

My friend Ossie Ollum, an old college classmate I’ve kept in touch with, thinks he’s a stock maven. He gave me a bunch of issues last week and told me to watch them for a year. He believes that this portfolio could provide a 33 percent total return in 18 months. I chose nine issues. I’ll profile the others next week.

Tailored Brands (TLRD-$23.47) is a specialty apparel retailer that owns Men’s Wearhouse, Jos. A. Bank, Joseph Abboud plus 40 retail dry cleaning, laundry and heirlooming facilities. TLRD also sells work uniforms to the airline postal, banking and health care industries under its Twin Hill, Alexandra and Yaffy brands. The 72-cent dividend yields 3.1 percent. Improving revenue growth and good earnings should enable a dividend increase to 80 cents and a stock price increase to the $29-$30 level this year.

Boise Cascade (BCC-$42.15) is an integrated wood products manufacturer and building materials distributor. BCC also makes engineered wood products and plywood used in new homes and residential repairs. This was a $4.4 billion-revenue company in 2017 and may be a $4.7 billion one this year after a projected 19 percent increase in earnings, to $2.22 a share. BCC shares don’t pay a dividend, but they could readily trade in the high $40s to low $50s this year.

Pilgrim’s Pride (PPC-$30) is the world’s largest chicken processor, with $9.1 billion in revenues from chicken feet, livers, gizzards, wings, beaks (used in powdered form as an aphrodisiac), necks, eyeballs and tongues. And the feathers, after being cleaned, are used in pillows and blankets. The eyes are used decoratively. There’s no dividend, but an anticipated 21 percent improvement in 2018 earnings might spur PPC to trade in the low $40s.

Covenant Transportation Group (CVTI-$29) is a provider of expedited long-haul freight transportation, using two-person travel teams in transcontinental lanes. CVTI’s $700 million worth of activities also include refrigerated cross-border regional brokerage. Though it doesn’t pay a dividend, improved metrics this year may give it a $36-$37 price tag.

Oshkosh (OSK-$92) makes and markets commercial fire and emergency apparatus and military trucks under the Oshkosh, Pierce and McNeilus trademarks. OSK is a $7 billion-revenue company with operations in Mexico, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Sweden. Future earnings look impressive, and the shares are making new highs. Many are looking for earnings and sales growth to accelerate in the next two years, perhaps pushing the price to $125. The 84-cent dividend yields 0.91 percent.

Posco (PKX-$83) is a $50 billion-revenue South Korean iron and steel company, the third-largest in the world. The $2 dividend yields 2.6 percent, and analysts say it could be $2.90 in three years if earnings reach $12 a share on $160 billion in revenues. PKX could trade at $220 by 2021.

Beacon Roofing Supply (BECN-$61) is a $4.5 billion distributor of residential and commercial roofing products in the U.S. and Canada. Various acquisitions have tripled revenues and actually improved net profit margins by 21 percent. This is a small, quiet growth company with a $28 target range in 18 months.

Greencore Group (GNCGY-$12) is home-ported in Dublin, which is the wealthiest capital in the world. GNCGY sells food products primarily from the U.K. Its food is a real gustatory experience. The 25-cent dividend paid from 83 cents in share earnings is expected to rise this year, and the stock could trade in the high teens.

Triton International (TRTN-$38) acquires, leases, re-leases and sells intermodal containers. The $1.80 dividend yields 5.9 percent, and revenues are rising. TRTN’s equipment consists primarily of dry freight containers, refrigerated containers, tank containers and chassis, and the stock has a first-year target of $47.

 

Please address your financial questions to Malcolm Berko, P.O. Box 8303, Largo, FL 33775, or email him at [email protected] To find out more about Malcolm Berko and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2018 CREATORS.COM

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Unemployment Rate Soars Despite States, Economy Reopening

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Unemployment Rate Soars Despite States, Economy Reopening

The slow reopening of the economy has done little to boost the job market and stall the unemployment rate.

Another 2.4 million Americans filed initial jobless claims for the week ending May 16. This brings the total since late March to an incredible 38.6 million.

Continuing unemployment claims, those who file to receive ongoing benefits, added another 2.5 million through May 9. This brings the total to 25.1 million.

Observers were hoping that they would see the number of continuing claims to begin to decrease. This comes after last week’s report only showed an increase of 500,000 claims, the smallest increase since March.

With that figure jumping by 2.5 million, it dashed those hopes.

“It is looking like May is shaping up to be worse for the labor market than we had initially thought,” economists at Jefferies said in a recent note. “We noted in our response to the April employment data that we expected that we would see another drop in payrolls in May of about 1 million, followed by a strong rebound in June. However, the stubbornly high levels of both initial and continuing claims suggest that we are actually in store for another historic drop in payrolls in May.”

Hoping for a Drop

Diane Swonk, chief economist at Grant Thornton, was also hoping to see a decrease in continuing claims. However, she says we may see some improvement soon. It’s possible as companies use money from the Payroll Protection Program to bring back workers.

“I’d love to see a big drop in continuing claims because that would really be a sign of rehiring,” she said, but also cautions that May is shaping up to be a terrible month for workers, who may find that their temporary unemployment may not be so temporary. “This is the week of the survey. … It tells us May is going to be another bloody month, with a lot of downward revisions for an even worse month of April,” said Swonk. “May will be a much worse unemployment rate because people will be looking for jobs again and their layoffs weren’t as temporary as they had hoped.”

Current Concerns

Very real concerns exist that the unemployment figures fare worse than the actually reported ones. These concerns come as states are still overwhelmed by the sheer number of claims and still haven’t processed the backlog.

It’s hard to imagine what the real unemployment rate would be if a backlog of initial filings does exist.

Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at MUFG Union Bank, said if you add in the initial claims from last week’s report, “That would put the unemployment rate at about 25.4%”

Some states are seeing relatively little impact on employment due to the pandemic. Utah and South Dakota are seeing unemployment rates remain below 10%, while other states have been crippled by job losses.

Georgia and Kentucky have the highest unemployment rates in the country, where the jobless rates are approaching 40 percent. Other states seeing unemployment rates at or near 30 percent include Washington and Louisiana. Also included are Michigan, Rhode Island, Nevada and Pennsylvania, as per Deutsche Bank Research.

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FOMC Minutes Reveal Uncertainty, Fear Over Second Wave of Outbreak

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FOMC Minutes Reveal Uncertainty, Fear Over Second Wave of Outbreak

Minutes from the April meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee show that Fed officials are happy with their recent actions. The said actions aims to keep the economy afloat during the coronavirus pandemic. However, they are also deeply worried about the likelihood of further outbreaks. They also expressed concern about how the pandemic will harm lower-income families the most.

The April meeting concluded with the committee talking about the steps they took during the initial outbreak. They said those actions were were “essential in helping reduce downside risks to the economic outlook” of the country. They also decided to keep interest rates at their current level of 0% – 0.25%.

The committee said that the pandemic created both near and medium-term economic uncertainty. Also, “participants commented that, in addition to weighing heavily on economic activity in the near term, the economic effects of the pandemic created an extraordinary amount of uncertainty and considerable risks to economic activity in the medium term.”

The group expressed worry about the negative effects on unemployment and GDP growth of another outbreak of coronavirus cases later in the year. The minutes also say the group views this as a “substantial likelihood.”

“In this scenario, a second wave of the coronavirus outbreak, with another round of strict restrictions on social interactions and business operations, was assumed to begin around year-end, inducing a decrease in real GDP, a jump in the unemployment rate, and renewed downward pressure on inflation next year,” the summary said.

The minutes also mentioned that this “more pessimistic” outlook was just as likely as the baseline forecast for improvement.

Baseline For Improvement

There was discussion amongst the members to provide more explicit assurances that rates wouldn’t move higher until a recovery was “firmly in place.” This is defined by the country meeting certain unemployment or inflation rates before the committee would consider raising interest rates. Another idea was announcing a specific date which would be the soonest that the FOMC would consider raising interest rates.

They call this type of forward guidance the Evans Rule. The Fed used this in 2012 when it openly broadcast that it would hold rates steady until unemployment rates started to fall. It also used this to broadcast that there were signs of rising inflation.

The notes also reveal that the committee is very concerned that while the 30+ million jobs lost since the outbreak began also hit all socioeconomic levels. The brunt of losses “would fall disproportionately on the most vulnerable and financially constrained households in the economy.”

Some are concerned that many small businesses, the backbone of our country, simply won’t survive in the “new normal” of social distancing. Meanwhile, other businesses are going to hold off on hiring or growing. Owners say this may last until the threat of a second outbreak passes.

The minutes state “a large number of small businesses may not be able to endure a shock that had long-lasting financial effects. Participants were further concerned that even after social-distancing requirements were eased, some business models may no longer be economically viable, which could occur, for example, if consumers voluntarily continued to avoid participating in particular forms of economic activity.”

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Budget Group Sees GDP Plunging 38%, Rising Unemployment

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Budget Group Sees GDP Plunging 38%, Rising Unemployment

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office released its latest projections for economic growth, unemployment, and the federal budget yesterday. Given these, it looks like we are in for some rough times ahead.

The group says the budget deficit could balloon by $2.1 trillion in fiscal 2020 and $600 billion in 2021. This increase may come primarily due to the stimulus packages the government has rolled out. The government released these checks in an effort to combat the coronavirus pandemic. The deficit increases equate to about 11% of nominal GDP in fiscal 2020 and 3% in 2021

Expectations

The CBO expects the unemployment rate to trend higher in the coming months. This may get an average of 15.1% in the second quarter before peaking at 15.8% in the third quarter. They see the unemployment rate tapering down to 11.5% in the fourth quarter, which sounds encouraging. However, it’s still a double-digit unemployment rate.

They also warn that even as states reopen and businesses start to bring back workers, we shouldn’t expect businesses to go on an immediate hiring spree. According to the CBO, “persistence of social distancing will keep economic activity and labor market conditions suppressed for some time.”

The CBO’s projections for the second-quarter GDP is an astonishing 38% decline on an annualized basis. This, then, would be the single-largest GDP drop in our nation’s history. The CBO’s projections are consistent with what many on Wall Street are expecting. However, it’s still not as bad as the projection by the Atlanta Federal Reserve, which sees a 42% decline.

A quick GDP recovery should occur according to the CBO. This may happen with the GDP growing 21.5% in the third quarter and 10.4% in the fourth quarter.

On The Brighter Side

There is a silver lining to the report. The CBO sees a recovery in the second half of the year. This may come as the coronavirus pandemic subsides. Additionally, the report says the stimulus money that was spent was worth it. It mentions that it may help in keeping up the GDP and employment rates higher than they would have been otherwise.

“The economy is expected to begin recovering during the second half of 2020 as concerns about the pandemic diminish and as state and local governments ease restrictions,” the CBO said before adding, “In CBO’s assessment, that legislation will partially mitigate the deterioration in economic conditions. In particular, greater federal spending and lower revenues will cause real GDP and employment to be higher over the next few years than they would be otherwise. The effects of the legislation on economic activity will be largest in the second and third quarters of 2020 and smaller thereafter, CBO projects.”

Uncertainty

The massive caveat to the CBO’s report is that they acknowledge that everything has happened so quickly. Because of this, they are unsure of what could really happen next.

“For example, if the disease spreads less widely than CBO expects—because of testing and contact tracing, a vaccine, or for some other reason—the degree of social distancing could be lower and the economic recovery faster than what CBO currently projects. The opposite could also be the case,” the agency said. They also added that, “the extension, reversal, or reimplementation of different types of social distancing policies (such as stay-at-home orders, bans on large public gatherings, closures of specific kinds of businesses, and closures of schools) might have different effects on the economy.”

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