Risk

  • 17 Oct
    The small cap stock you’ve never heard of – but that could be the best bargain in the Materials sector

    The small cap stock you’ve never heard of – but that could be the best bargain in the Materials sector

    Since hitting an all-time early this year, the Materials sector has seen some of the biggest declines in the broad market. And even while today marked a big surge in price for practically every economic sector, Materials still dropped, putting their decline since late January at about -16% and nearly -11.5% year-to-date as measured by the SPDR S&P 500 Materials ETF (XLB). More →

  • 15 Oct
    TR makes tasty treats – their stock could be one, too

    TR makes tasty treats – their stock could be one, too


    More than two decades ago, I was just getting my start in the financial industry, working as a licensed representative for a major mutual fund company. In order to help new hires like me get more familiar with what mutual funds were about, and to start learning how the stock market worked, my employer encouraged studying the investment philosophies of a lot of the most well-known fund managers of the day. At the time, that meant paying attention to the “rock stars” of the mutual fund industry, and at that time there weren’t too many more popular or well-known names than Peter Lynch. More →

  • 11 Oct
    SIG: value stock, or value trap?

    SIG: value stock, or value trap?

    Sometimes, answering the question of whether a stock represents a legitimate, attractive value opportunity can be hard to do. A company could be struggling not only to grow its business, but may be forced to restructure its business in a way that makes most of the traditional measurables investors like to use look very unfavorable. More →

  • 10 Oct
    Is SJM undervalued enough to be a smart defensive investment?

    Is SJM undervalued enough to be a smart defensive investment?

    Over the last week, uncertainty appears to have become the primary theme of the market, as concerns over interest rates and global growth are starting to take hold and lead investors to question the market’s ability to sustain its long, bullish trend. As of this writing, in fact, the S&P 500 is sitting right on top of its 50-day moving average line, an indicator that a lot of technical investors like to use as a visual queue for the market’s intermediate-term trend. A break below this line could signal at least a short-term reversal, with more downside ahead that could see the market drop as much as another 4% before finding its next support level. That’s not exactly correction territory, but it is enough short-term downside to keep uncertainty high and prompt investors to start looking for “safe haven” investments that offer some measure of protection should things get even worse.

    If the market keeps dropping, I think there could be some very interesting opportunities in defensive industries, and as I wrote yesterday, I think some of the best valuations in the market right now are coming in the consumer sSJMles sector in general, and the food industry in particular. If you’re looking to be conservative about the positions you take, it’s smart to be selective about how many stocks you buy in a single industry, and so even though I’ve been highlighting different stocks in the industry that I think offer interesting value propositions, you should take some time to compare each one carefully and decide for yourself which ones you think would offer you the right mix of opportunity, fundamental strength, and risk management.

    One food company that I do think is really interesting right now is The J.M. Smucker Company (SJM). The name probably makes you think about the same products I do – fruit spreads. That’s because the company’s namesake Smucker’s brand is the #1 fruit spread brand; but this is a company that also owns the leading peanut butter (JIF), coffee (Folger’s), and dog snack (Milk-Bone) brands. When you consider they own other well-known brands like Crisco, Dunkin’ Donuts, Kibbles ’n Bits, and Carnation, to name just a few, you have a company with a pretty well-diversified product line that covers a pretty broad spectrum of the packages food industry. There are some risks about the food industry that have started to impact some important measurable components of SJM’s profile; however for the most part, this is a company with strong fundamentals, including good cash flow, decent (albeit declining) margins, and manageable debt. They also carry a very attractive dividend yield right now, with a very compelling long-term value proposition. Let’s take a look.



    Fundamental and Value Profile

    The J. M. Smucker Company is a manufacturer and marketer of branded food and beverage products and pet food and pet snacks in North America. The Company’s segments include U.S. Retail Coffee, U.S. Retail Consumer Foods, U.S. Retail Pet Foods, and International and Foodservice. The Company’s U.S. retail market segments consist of the sale of branded food products to consumers through retail outlets in North America. In the U.S. retail market segments, the Company’s products are sold to food retailers, food wholesalers, drug stores, club stores, mass merchandisers, discount and dollar stores, military commissaries, natural foods stores and distributors, and pet specialty stores. In International and Foodservice, the Company’s products are distributed domestically and in foreign countries through retail channels and foodservice distributors and operators, such as restaurants, lodging, schools and universities, healthcare operators.SJM’s current market cap is $11.6 billion.

    • Earnings and Sales Growth: Over the last twelve months, earnings increased almost 18%, while sales growth increasing not quite 9%. Growing earnings faster than sales is difficult to do, and in the long-term generally isn’t sustainable, but it is also a positive mark of management’s ability to maximize business operations. In the last quarter, earnings decreased almost 7%, despite an increase in sales of almost 7%. That points to increasing costs, which right now are coming from from foodstuffs as well as transportation costs. This reality is also reflected in SJM’s margin profile; over the last twelve months, Net Income was nearly 18% of Revenues, but declined in the last quarter to about 7%. That is a red flag, but the company’s balance sheet indicates that their margins remain adequate.
    • Free Cash Flow: SJM’s free cash flow is good, at a little over $800 million for the trailing twelve month period; that translates to a Free Cash Flow yield of about 7%.
    • Debt to Equity: SJM has a debt/equity ratio of .78, a relatively low number that indicates the company operates with a generally conservative philosophy about leverage. This number did increase significantly in the last quarter from .59, which I believe is a reflection of their acquisition of pet food company Ainsworth in May of this year for $1.7 billion. In the last quarter, their long-term debt increased from about about $4.7 billion to almost $6.2 billion, suggesting the larger portion of the purchase was financed by debt.
    • Dividend: SJM pays an annual dividend of $3.40 per share, which translates to a yield of 3.33% at the stock’s current price.
    • Price/Book Ratio: there are a lot of ways to measure how much a stock should be worth; but one of the simplest methods that I like uses the stock’s Book Value, which for SJM is $69.72 per share and translates to a Price/Book ratio of 1.46 at the stock’s current price. Their historical Price/Book average is 2.04, which suggests that the stock is trading at a discount right now of about 39.5%. Their Price/Cash Flow ratio offers an even more optimistic perspective, since it is currently running 62% below its historical averages. Between the two measurements, the long-term target price, based strictly off of value analysis could lie anywhere in a range between $142 and $165 per share. The low end of that range was last seen in the early spring of 2017.



    Technical Profile

    Here’s a look at the stock’s latest technical chart.

     

    • Current Price Action/Trends and Pivots: The chart above traces the stock’s downward trend from late April of 2017, where it peaked at around $144 per share, to its trend low point at close to $100. It also informs the Fibonacci retracement lines shown on the right-hand side of the chart. The stock is currently sitting near that trend low, with strong support at that point from previous pivot lows in November 2017 and June of this year. The stock is about 15% below the resistance marked by the 38.2% Fibonacci retracement line, so a bounce higher off of support could see the stock revisit that level fairly quickly. A break below current support at around $100 could give the stock additional room to drop to multi-year lows that may not find support until around $90 per share – a level last seen in early 2013.
    • Near-term Keys: A strong bullish pivot from the stock’s current support level could be taken as a good signal for a short-term bullish trade using call options or even buying the stock, with a near-term target between $110 and $115 per share. The strength of the stock’s downward trend, however could push the stock below its current support at $100, which would be a strong indication to consider shorting the stock or working with put options. Given the stock’s valuation measurements and general fundamental strength, including a very healthy dividend, the current price represents a very impressive bargain if you’re working with a long-term time horizon and don’t mind accepting some nearer-term price volatility.


  • 04 Oct
    Oil prices are up, and that could be bad news for highly-valued refining stocks like HFC

    Oil prices are up, and that could be bad news for highly-valued refining stocks like HFC

    If you’ve been paying attention to energy prices over the last six weeks or so, you’ve observed a pretty impressive rally in oil. Since August 15th, when it hit a pivot low at around $65 per barrel, West Texas Intermediate crude has jumped almost 14% to its current level at around $75.50. The surge in Brent crude has been even bigger, going from around $71 per barrel to a little above $86, or almost 22% over the same period. More →

  • 03 Oct
    GE just hired a rock star CEO. Is it time to call them a good value play?

    GE just hired a rock star CEO. Is it time to call them a good value play?

    The market was buzzing at the beginning of the week when General Electric Company’s (GE) board announced they were firing the CEO they brought in just a little over a year ago, John Flannery, and replacing him with Larry Culp, the 54-year old former CEO of Danaher Corporation (DHR). The news pushed the stock up overnight in a big way, as it opened Monday morning nearly 16% above its closing price on Friday. More →

  • 02 Oct
    International diversification could be a good thing with BRDCY

    International diversification could be a good thing with BRDCY

    One of the principles a lot of investment advisors and money managers point to when they talk about risk management is diversification. Diversification means spreading your investing dollars across multiple different opportunities. The general idea is that the greater your diversification, the less exposed you are to risk in any one stock. More →

  • 28 Sep
    Which auto stock is a better investment right now: FCAU, GM or F?

    Which auto stock is a better investment right now: FCAU, GM or F?

    Earlier this week, I wrote about recent opinions I’ve seen that suggest that the stock market’s long, extended bullish run still has plenty of life left to keep going. One of the most compelling arguments supporting that opinion is the fact that, after the market’s big correction in the early part of this year, most of the market’s recovery has been led by beaten-down stocks in previously under-appreciated and oversold industries. That suggests the bullish momentum that has pushed the market higher since April when it found a corrective bottom is driven by an emphasis on value, which does offer some very compelling food for thought. Value-driven market rotation usually happens at the beginning of a bull market, not in the latter stages of one, so I think there could more than a little truth behind the notion.

    Let’s go ahead assume for the time being that this idea is correct; it begs the next question, which is naturally, where am I going to find the best values in the market right now? It’s one thing to tell you to look for beaten-down stocks in depressed industries; it’s quite another to actually recognize what some of those areas of the market are right now.



    As I previously mentioned, the auto industry is an area of the market that has really come under a lot of pressure. While the broad market has seen a nice rally since April of this year, the Big Three automakers have all seen significant drops in price. Fiat Chrysler Automotive (FCAU), Ford Motor Company (F) and General Motors Company (GM) are all down around 25% since reversing lower from their respective high points in April and June. Yes, a not-insignificant part of that drop has been driven by trade-related tensions with all four of America’s largest trading partners, and for as long as those tensions persist, there remains an element of risk that could keep pushing these stocks lower. Even so, the fact they are all down in bear market territory should at least have any sensible value-oriented investor sit up, take notice, and consider whether there is an opportunity worth thinking about.

    What follows is a comparison of all of the Big Three U.S. automakers, side by side, to determine which of the three actually poses the best value-based argument right now. Does that mean that you should think about taking a position in the winner right now? That is for you to decide.



    Earnings/Sales Growth

    • Ford: Over the last twelve months, earnings decreased by almost 52% while sales were mostly flat, declining by only about 2%. The company operates with a narrow margin profile that saw Net Income at 4.2% of Revenues over the last twelve months, and decreased to only about 2.7% in the last quarter.
    • GM: The twelve-month pattern for GM shows earnings decreasing only a little over 4%, and sales mostly flat, declining about .6%. GM’s margin profile over the last twelve months showed Net Income was a negative 3.2%, but improved in the last quarter to positive 6.5%.
    • Fiat Chrysler: Earnings over the last twelve months declined 2.63% for FCAU versus sales growth of 12.62%. The company’s margin profile showed Net Income as 3.1% of Revenues in the last twelve months, and declining to 2.5% for the most recent quarter.

    Winner: FCAU, on the basis of superior earnings and sales results in the last year versus F or GM.

    Free Cash Flow

    • Ford: F’s free cash flow is quite healthy, at more than $9.1 billion over the last twelve months. That translates to a Free Cash Flow Yield of 23.5%, which is extremely attractive.
    • GM: GM has operated with negative Free Cash Flow since the last quarter of 2016, and as of the last quarter this number was a little more than -$12.3 billion dollars.
    • Fiat Chrysler: FCAU’s Free Cash Flow over the last twelve months is healthy at a little more than $4.9 billion. That translates to a Free Cash Flow Yield of 13.8%

    Winner: F, with the highest total dollar amount in Free Cash Flow over the twelve months along with the most attractive Free Cash Flow Yield.



    Debt to Equity

    • Ford: F has a debt/equity ratio of 2.8. High debt/equity ratios aren’t unusual for automotive stocks, however it should be noted that F’s debt/equity is the highest among the Big Three auto companies. The company’s balance sheet demonstrates their operating profits are sufficient to service their debt, with healthy liquidity to make up any potential difference if that changes.
    • GM: GM’s debt/equity ratio is 1.81, which is also pretty high, but below that for F. The difference, however is that while GM’s operating profits should be adequate to service their debt, they may not have enough liquidity to make up any potential operating shortfall.
    • Fiat Chrysler: FCAU’s debt/equity ratio is the lowest of the group, at .46. That alone puts them well ahead of the other two in this category; but it is also worth noting that the company’s cash and liquid assets are more than 34% higher than their long-term debt. That gives them the best actual financial base to operate from out of any of the Big Three.

    Winner: FCAU. Not even close.

    Dividend

    • Ford: F pays an annual dividend of $.60 per share, which translates to a very impressive yield of more than 6% per year.
    • GM: GM’s dividend is $1.52 per year, translating to an annual yield of 4.51%
    • Fiat Chrysler: FCAU does not pay a dividend.

    Winner: F. Dividends are the low-hanging fruit that every value-oriented investor should look out for.



    Value Analysis

    • Ford: F’s Price/Book value is $9.18 per share and translates to a Price/Book ratio of 1.07 at the stock’s current price. Their historical average Price/Book ratio is 2.12, which suggests the stock is trading right now at a discount of more than 97%. The stock is also trading about 60% below its historical Price/Cash Flow ratio.
    • GM: GM’s Price/Book value is $27.38 and translates to a Price/Book ratio of 1.23 at the stock’s current price. Their historical average Price/Book ratio is 1.9, which suggests the stock is trading right now at a discount of 54%. The stock is also trading more than 129% below its historical Price/Cash Flow ratio.
    • Fiat Chrysler: FCAU’s Price/Book value is $13.87 and translates to a Price/Book ratio of 1.29 at the stock’s current price. Their historical Price/Book ratio is 1.32, suggesting the stock is trading at a discount of 2.3%. The stock is also trading 55% above its historical average Price/Cash Flow ratio, suggesting the stock remains significantly overvalued, even at its current price.

    Winner: F, edging out GM for best overall value proposition, but not by a wide margin.

    The net winner? While FCAU has the best overall fundamental profile, it offers the least upside potential, with a significant level of downside risk. That puts F squarely in the winner’s circle for the best overall opportunity among the Big Three automakers under current market conditions. On the other hand, the greatest overall risk remains with GM, who despite the upside offered by its value measurements, has some big fundamental question marks that make the value proposition hard to justify.


  • 08 Aug
    The S&P 500 is about to hit a new all-time high. How much upside can you expect?

    The S&P 500 is about to hit a new all-time high. How much upside can you expect?

    Since the beginning of July, the market has shown quite a bit of bullish momentum. As of this writing, the S&P 500 (SPY) has rallied more than 150 points from a pivot low in late June in the 2,700 area – a total gain in a little over a month of 9%. The index is now poised to match, and quite possibly exceed the highs it reached in late January. For most technical traders, a new high marks a break above resistance that should give the market momentum to keep pushing even higher. If you’re not the type of person, however to simply “leap before you look,” then like me, you want to try to figure out how much room is left.

    How much upside remains in the market isn’t an easy question to answer, simply because nobody can make anything more than a semi-educated guess about future events – or the way the investing world will interpret them. The same technical traders who look for new all-time highs to extend trends even further also like to use historical price action to come up with estimates. Economists and fundamental investors try to use geopolitical and macroeconomic data and events to identify keys and trends. I hesitate to say that any one approach is better than another. Instead, I like to consider a combination of a couple of different technical techniques, along with economic and, yes, even geopolitical conditions to try to come to my own opinion.

    I spent some time this morning going over some of that data, and here’s what my early conclusions are. Keep in mind, these are just a few of my own best attempts to make a semi-educated guess, so you can take it or leave it as you wish.



    Some Fuzzy Math

    I’ll start by giving you a look at a technical chart of the S&P 500.

     

    There are a couple of elements of this chart that I think are useful right now. The first is the Relative Strength (RSI) indicator shown in the lower portion of the chart. RSI is a sentiment and momentum indicator that oscillates between upper and lower extremes to gauge a trend’s strength and give traders a way to estimate the likelihood the trend will continue or reverse. At the upper extremes (above 70), reversal risk to the downside is increased, while at the lower extremes (below 30), the opposite is true. The other element that comes into play about RSI is that stocks will often continue to follow their current trend even as RSI hovers near, or even beyond extreme levels. That reality is what makes RSI interesting to me right now. Even as the S&P 500 is pushing near to the all-time high it set in January of this year, RSI remains just a little below its uppermost extreme. It has also managed to oscillate within its upper and lower extremes since that high was reached in January, with its general pattern of highs and lows since April closely approximating the pattern of the index. That is a confirmation of the market’s trend over the last four months, and the fact that the indicator still hasn’t pierced its upper extreme band suggests there could be more room to run.

    At this point, it’s worth taking a moment to discuss a basic tenet of trend-based analysis. Trends tend to move in what I like to think of as stages. Typically speaking, most long-term trends can be broken into three different stages. Stage 1 is the earliest portion of a trend, when the market begins to reverse from an extreme or high or low. That’s the hardest stage to recognize, simply because it moves against the grain of the current longer trend, when most people will simply see that counter move as a minor correction or pullback within that trend. Stage 2 is the longest portion of a trend, and the area where the most money is likely to be made. It’s where the new trend is easiest to identify, and so more and more investors jump on board in that direction, making it easier and simpler to maintain. Stage 3 is the latest stage of the trend, and what I like of as the “last gasp” stage of that long-term trend. There is often still quite a bit of room to move along the trend in this stage, and so this stage can still yield very profitable results; but it also means that reversal risk is greatly heightened during this stage.



    The challenge about the stages of a trend is predicting how long any given stage will last. Stage 2 can last 4 to 5 years in many cases, while Stages 1 and 3 are usually considerably shorter. The problem is that word – usually. I’ve been saying the market is in Stage 3 of its long-term upward trend for more than two years, which is undoubtedly longer than that stage should last. I maintain that attitude, however, simply because I think it is smarter to estimate conservatively; plan for the best, but be prepared for the worst. That means that I want to recognize and take advantage of upside opportunity when it’s there, but be ready and positioned to react quickly and effectively when the market reverses back the other way.

    If you operate on the idea that the market is in Stage 3, any upside that remains should be somewhat limited. That is where the “291.78 Total Distance” estimate I highlighted on the chart comes into play. Some people will take the total distance of the last market correction to estimate how far the market’s new opportunity will be after a new high is reached. I think it’s reasonable to use the total distance as a reference point, but I prefer to think in somewhat more conservative terms.

    Another technical method of market analysis that I have learned to appreciate over the course of my years in the market is Fibonacci analysis. It’s pretty fascinating to see how market trends, and their swings from high to low correspond with Fibonacci mathematics. Those calculations can also be used to estimate a market’s extension of a trend. Here’s what we get if we apply the .618 Fibonacci ratio to the total distance of the market’s correction from January to April of this year:

    291.78 X .618 = 180.32

    We can add this number (roughly 62% of the total size of the correction) to the last market high to get an estimate of how much further the market could run if the resistance from that high is broken.

    2,872.87 + 180.32 = 3,052.87

    180.32 / 2,872.87 = 6.27% total upside

    Forecasting broad market upside of about 6% if the market makes a new high seems like a pretty conservative estimate; if it is even remotely close to correct, that should translate to some pretty healthy gains on individual stocks. How long that kind of a run will take is anybody’s guess. I decided to look back at the last two bull markets to gauge how long Stage 3 of their respective long-term trends lasted.



    The bull market that ran from 2002 to 2007 hit a high point in October 2007 before beginning its reversal; the “last gasp”, final stage of that five-year trend began in August, meaning that Stage 3 in that case covered about a two-month period of time. Prior to that, the March 2000 high that marked the end of the “dot-com boom” started its “last gasp” push in February of the same year. Saying the market could move about 6% in one to two months isn’t unreasonable given the increased level of volatility we’ve seen from the market this year; but I also think it’s useful to think about how long it has taken the market to recover from its latest correction (assuming, of course, that a new high is actually made). The bottom came in April, so a conservative estimate could suggest that it may take between 2 to 4 months. That certainly implies the market’s trend could last through the rest of the year, or possibly even longer since my estimate intentionally errs on the conservative side.

    There are some important elements from a fundamental and economic view that I think support the idea the market has some room and reason to run a little longer. Earnings continue to come in generally strong, and most economic reports (jobs, housing etc.) are also showing pretty broad-based strength. A healthy economy should generally lend itself well to continued strength in the stock market. While interest rates are rising, the Fed has maintained a conservative pace and degree of those increases, and the economy seems to following that lead pretty well. As they currently stand, interest rates remain historically low despite the increases we’ve seen so far. That is also a positive, bullish indicator.



    There are risks to my forecast. Frankly, many come from the geopolitical arena at this stage. Trade war concerns are still on everybody’s mind, and the Trump administration’s reimposition of economic sanctions on Iran could put a cap on oil supply that could drive oil prices near to their historical highs. While corporate earnings have yet to really show a negative impact from tariffs between the U.S. and its trading partners, more and more CEO’s are starting to cite tariffs as a risk. If that risk starts to manifest itself in an actual deterioration of revenues, and of earnings, the market can be expected to react negatively. Increased oil prices, at the extreme, could have the net effect of muting demand for a wide range of goods all over the globe. Real estate prices in many parts of the U.S. have also been showing some remarkable increases over the last year or so as well, while wage gains have generally been quite muted; at some point, those increases, along with increasing interest rates could very well put home ownership – a big indicator of broad economic strength – out of the reach of the average working person.

    Is there good upside left in the market? I think there is. I also think we have to be careful to factor risk into our evaluation and our investment decisions. Be conservative and selective about how you jump into a new opportunity, and plan ahead about how long you intend to stay or how much gain you want to chase. Put a plan in place to limit your downside risk if you’re proven wrong and the market turns against you, and limit the size of the new positions you take.


  • 16 Jul
    COLM makes great products – but buying their stock right now is risky

    COLM makes great products – but buying their stock right now is risky

    One of the best-performing areas of the economy this year is the Consumer Discretionary sector, which for the year is up more than 12%. About half of that move has come since the beginning of May as this sector has been one that has led the market even as uncertainty has pushed other sectors lower or at least into a mostly sideways pattern over the same period. A lot of that move has been driven by mostly positive economic data showing continued low unemployment with gradually increasing income levels as well as increasing consumer confidence. That’s been good news for stocks like Columbia Sportswear Company (COLM). The stock is up 26% year-to-date, and more than 64% over the past year.

    Depending on your perspective, seeing a stock staging such a strong upward trend over the past year can prompt a couple of different ideas. If you use the long-term trend as a primary indication of trade direction, the stock’s current strength should naturally make you think about placing a bullish trade. If you follow a value-based or contrarian approach, the strength of the long-term upward trend should lead you to wonder if the best opportunity has already passed, and if in fact the downside risk right now outweighs any remaining upside potential.

    Based on the company’s most recent earnings report, COLM’s fundamentals are all healthy and seem to indicate not only that business has been growing, but also that it should continue to do so for the foreseeable future. The company’s business is very cyclic in nature, owing to the fact that it so closely tied consumer preferences and trends, as well as to the ebb and flow of seasonal shifts in those trends; even so, over the past year the company has shown strength in just about every important, measurable area. The company itself, however raised a few red flags in its discussion in their report of risks. The fact is that the company manufactures all of its products abroad, using short-term contracts with producers worldwide. Management specifically mentioned concerns about the U.K.’s pending withdrawal from the European Union as well as trade tensions between the U.S. and its trading partners as geopolitical issues that stand to impact them in a negative way.



    Fundamental and Value Profile

    Columbia Sportswear Company is an apparel and footwear company. The Company designs, sources, markets and distributes outdoor lifestyle apparel, footwear, accessories and equipment under the Columbia, Mountain Hardwear, Sorel, prAna and other brands. Its geographic segments are the United States, Latin America and Asia Pacific (LAAP), Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), and Canada. The Company develops and manages its merchandise in categories, including apparel, accessories and equipment, and footwear. It distributes its products through a mix of wholesale distribution channels, its own direct-to-consumer channels (retail stores and e-commerce), independent distributors and licensees. As of December 31, 2016, its products were sold in approximately 90 countries. In 59 of those countries, it sells to independent distributors to whom it has granted distribution rights. Contract manufacturers located outside the United States manufacture all of its products. COLM has a current market cap of $6.5 billion.

    • Earnings and Sales Growth: Over the last twelve months, earnings increased impressively, at almost 51%, while sales increased more modestly, at about  12%. Growing earnings faster than sales is difficult, and generally isn’t sustainable in the long term, but it is also a mark of management’s ability to maximize its business operations and manage costs. It should be noted that the company’s Net Income is only about 5% of Revenue, which indicates that they operate with a very narrow margin profile.
    • Free Cash Flow: COLM’s Free Cash Flow is healthy at a little over $278 million. Their available cash and liquid assets has increased over the last two quarter from about $450 million to more than $808 million in the last quarter.
    • Debt to Equity: COLM has a debt/equity ratio of 0; they have little to no long-term debt.
    • Dividend: COLM pays an annual dividend of $.88 per share. At the stock’s current price, that translates to a dividend yield of 0.95%.
    • Price/Book Ratio: there are a lot of ways to measure how much a stock should be worth; but one of the simplest methods that I like uses the stock’s Book Value, which for COLM is $24.16 per share. At the stock’s current price, that translates to a Price/Book Ratio of 3.81.  That’s a bit higher than I usually like to see, but the average for the Textiles, Apparel & Luxury Goods industry is 4.4, while the historical average for COLM is 2.5. While the industry average suggests the stock could still offer some more upside, in this case I think the historical average is a stronger indicator. The stock is significantly overvalued, since a drop to par with the average would put the stock a little below $62 per share.



    Technical Profile

    Here’s a look at the stock’s latest technical chart.

     

    • Current Price Action/Trends and Pivots: The 2-year chart here clearly shows the stock’s impressive run since June of last year; the red diagonal line traces the stock’s trend from that point to its recent high at around $94 per share. The stock has been hovering near to, but slightly below that high level for the past month, an indication of consolidation and uncertainty about how much upside the stock has left. In and of itself, that isn’t an indication that the stock is sure to reverse, of course, since the stock could pick up momentum and push higher yet again. However, the red horizontal lines on the right side of the chart, which trace the stock’s current Fibonacci retracement levels, are a good indication of how much technical risk there is right now. If the stock breaks below its current support at around $90, it would likely not find meaningful support before dropping to as low as $78 or $77 per share. If economic conditions begin to deteriorate, an even deeper decline isn’t out of the questions, with the $62 forecast from the stock’s historical Price/Book ratio – a price level the stock last saw in November of last year – clearly within reach.
    • Near-term Keys: For the stock to maintain its longer-term upward trend in the short-term, it would have to break above $95 will considerable buying volume to provide momentum and strength. Far more likely right now is a decline to somewhere between $78 and $80, where the stock could then test the strength of its long-term trend and possibly set up a new bullish trade from a solid retracement pattern. A break below $90 would indicate that test is imminent; it could also provide a short-term, momentum-based bearish trade set up for shorting the stock or working with put options.


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