Energy Future Holdings, formerly TXU Energy, is based in Dallas, Texas, and is the largest energy generator in the state. It came into being when Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. (KKR) and Texas Pacific Group (TPG) bought TXU out for $45 billion, the largest leveraged buyout in history, and took it private. Shareholders received $69.25 per share, a 25 percent premium. GS Capital Partners, Lehman Brothers, Citigroup (C), Morgan Stanley were equity investors in the deal. Buffett bought $2 billion worth of bonds.
The investment met many of Buffett�� criteria for stock picking and business buying. At the time, the company served 2.1 million customers, it was simple and understandable, it had been producing the same product since 1882 and it produced a product that people could not live without. It was also profitable, with operating revenues that had increased substantially ��from $106 million to $151 million ��from 2004 to 2006.
However, TXU did not have a particularly wide competitive advantage in the deregulated Texas energy market. It also produced nuclear, coal and natural gas power, and ultimately, Buffett said, it was the plummeting of volatile natural gas prices that derailed the investment.
TXU explained how energy prices correlate to gas prices in its 2006 10-K: ��as-fueled generation is the predominant supply resource in the ERCOT [Electric Reliability Council of Texas] region in terms of both the installed capacity and electricity generation, accounting for approximately 75% of the capacity and 50% of the energy produced in the ERCOT region. As a result, natural gas-fueled pl! ant operators are the marginal suppliers in ERCOT, and wholesale electricity prices are highly correlated to natural gas prices.
By mid- 2006, electricity prices had risen more than 35 percent, largely as a result of skyrocketing natural gas prices. But by late 2010, the price of natural gas plunged, making it difficult for Energy Future Holdings to meet its debt payments. Moody�� Investor Service described the company at that time as having a ��ery weak financial profile, untenable capital structure, questionable long-term business plan and material operating headwinds.��br>
Buffett�� stepping out of his usual bounds cost him greatly. He wrote down the investment by $1 billion in 2010, and an additional $390 million in 2011. He carries the bonds now at their market value of $878 million, and could lose the entire investment if natural gas prices do not increase.
Buffett made another energy investing mistake with ConocoPhillips (COP), which actually resulted in a greater loss than Energy Future Holdings ��an estimated more than $3 billion.
Buffett began buying COP stock in 2005 at near $60. Then, in 2008, he poured an additional $5 billion into the position, when the stock reached its all-time high in the $90s. Shortly after that purchase, the price of oil plunged, cutting the price of COP shares approximately in half.
The 2009 Berkshire investor letter also records Buffett�� admission: �� told you in an earlier part of this report that last year I made a major mistake of commission (and maybe more; this one sticks out). Without urging from Charlie or anyone else, I bought a large amount of ConocoPhillips stock when oil and gas prices were near their peak. I in no way anticipated the dramatic fall in energy prices that occurred in the last half of the year. I still believe the odds are good that oil sells far higher in the future than the current $40-$50 price. But so far I have been dead wrong. Even if prices should rise, moreover, the terrible ti! ming of m! y purchase has cost Berkshire several billion dollars.��
The price has never again reached the level of his 2008 purchases, but he has been selling as it has recovered. It has reached a 52-week high of $81.80.
His investment in PetroChina (PTR) was more successful than either of his two losses in Energy Future Holdings or ConocoPhillips, though he said he still thought he sold too soon.
Berkshire bought 1.3 percent of PetroChina for $488 million, which valued the company at about $37 billion, when he believed it was worth about $100 billion. In 2002, the stock sold near $20. Two factors, Buffett said in his 2007 investor letter, increased its value, the increased price of oil, and its management�� great job in building oil and gas reserves. Oil prices also played in his favor this time. It had gone up from $30 to $75 per barrel.
He sold the stock from $160 to $200 per share. This gave him a profit of about $3.5 billion on a $500 million investment. But unfortunately, the stock still had farther to go. By 2007 it had rocked to a high near $255.
On his PetroChina investment, Buffett emphasized that price was the primary factor that got him interested. �� sit there in my office and I read an annual report and it described a very good company. It told about the oil reserves, told about the refining, told about the chemicals, told about everything else, and I sat there and thought to myself, ��his company�� worth about $100 billion.��Now I didn�� look at the price first, I look at the business first. Because if I look at the price first I get influenced by that, so I look at the company first, I try to value it, and then I look at the price and if the price is way less than what I just valued it at, I�� going to buy it,��he said on a television interview after he sold his stake.
Though there were many different factors involved in these investments, price played an important role in whether they were successful or not, showing how important not! overpayi! ng is even for Warren Buffett.
See Warren Buffett�� portfolio here and also check out the Undervalued Stocks, Top Growth Companies, and High Yield stocks of Warren Buffett.
10 Best Growth Stocks To Own For 2014: Nordstrom Inc.(JWN)
Nordstrom, Inc., a fashion specialty retailer, offers apparel, shoes, cosmetics, and accessories for women, men, and children in the United States. It offers a selection of brand name and private label merchandise. The company sells its products through various channels, including Nordstrom full-line stores, off-price Nordstrom Rack stores, Jeffrey? boutiques, treasure & bond, and Last Chance clearance stores; and its online store, nordstrom.com, as well as through catalog. Nordstrom also provides a private label card, two Nordstrom VISA credit cards, and a debit card for Nordstrom purchases. The company?s credit and debit cards feature a shopping-based loyalty program. As of September 30, 2011, it operated 222 stores, including 117 full-line stores, 101 Nordstrom Racks, 2 Jeffrey boutiques, 1 treasure & bond store, and 1 clearance store in 30 states. The company was founded in 1901 and is based in Seattle, Washington.Advisors' Opinion:
- [By Ben Levisohn]
They also drove up the share prices of its suppliers and department store rivals. Nordstrom (JWN) and Kohl�� Corp. (KSS ), both reporting Thursday, rose more than 2% each. Its suppliers Ralph Lauren Corp. (RL) and Calvin Klein parent PVH Corp. (PVH) saw their shares up 2% and 4% each.
- [By Paul Ausick]
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT), Macy�� Inc. (NYSE: M), Kohl�� Corp. (NYSE: KSS), and Nordstrom Inc. (NYSE: JWN) have all already reported poor quarterly results that barely met expectations in most cases. There�� no reason to expect anything substantially different this week, except perhaps from Home Depot, which has history of being cautious with its estimates.
10 Best Growth Stocks To Own For 2014: Sara Lee Corporation(SLE)
Sara Lee Corporation engages in the manufacture and marketing of a range of branded packaged meat, bakery, and beverage products worldwide. Its packaged meat products include hot dogs and corn dogs, breakfast sausages, sandwiches and bowls, smoked and dinner sausages, premium deli and luncheon meats, bacon, beef, turkey, and cooked ham. It also offers frozen baked products, which comprise frozen pies, cakes, cheesecakes, pastries, and other desserts. In addition, Sara Lee provides roast, ground, and liquid coffee; cappuccinos; lattes; and hot and iced teas, as well as refrigerated dough products. The company sells its products under Hillshire Farm, Ball Park, Jimmy Dean, Sara Lee, State Fair, Douwe Egberts, Senseo, Maison du Caf
Top 10 Blue Chip Companies To Buy For 2014: Buffalo Wild Wings Inc.(BWLD)
Buffalo Wild Wings, Inc. engages in the ownership, operation, and franchise of restaurants in the United States. The company provides quick casual and casual dining services, as well as serves bottled beers, wines, and liquor. As of July 26, 2011, it had 773 Buffalo Wild Wings locations in 45 states in the United States, as well as in Canada. The company was founded in 1982 and is headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota.Advisors' Opinion:
- [By Roberto Pedone]
Buffalo Wild Wings (BWLD) is an owner, operator and franchiser of restaurants featuring a variety of boldly-flavored, craveable menu items. This stock closed up 6% to $103.58 in Wednesday's trading session.
Wednesday's Volume: 1.55 million
Three-Month Average Volume: 402,120
Volume % Change: 319%
From a technical perspective, BWLD ripped higher here back above its 50-day moving average of $98.38 with heavy upside volume. This move is quickly pushing shares of BWLD within range of triggering major breakout trade. That trade will hit if BWLD manages to take out its intraday high on Wednesday of $105.32 and then once it clears is 52-week high at $106.03 with high volume.
Traders should now look for long-biased trades in BWLD as long as it's trending above its 50-day at $98.38 and then once it sustains a move or close above those breakout levels with volume that hits near or above 402,120 shares. If that breakout triggers soon, then BWLD will set up to enter new 52-week-high territory, which is bullish technical price action. Some possible upside targets off that breakout are $110 to $120.
- [By Steve Symington]
Your secret sauce for profitable growth
First up, consider spicing up your portfolio with shares of Buffalo Wild Wings (NASDAQ: BWLD ) . Though B-Wild is currently trading near its 52-week-high on the heels of another�successful March Madness ad campaign, there are a number of reasons to believe that the beer and wings specialist should be able to continue its winning streak for the foreseeable future.
10 Best Growth Stocks To Own For 2014: Eastern Insurance Holdings Inc.(EIHI)
Eastern Insurance Holdings, Inc., through its subsidiaries, provides workers compensation insurance and reinsurance products in the United States. The company?s Workers Compensation Insurance segment provides traditional workers compensation insurance coverage products, including guaranteed cost policies, policyholder dividend policies, retrospectively-rated policies, deductible policies, and alternative market products to employers. This segment distributes its workers? compensation products and services through its independent insurance agents primarily in Pennsylvania, Delaware, North Carolina, Maryland, Indiana, and Virginia. Its Segregated Portfolio Cell Reinsurance segment offers alternative market workers compensation solutions comprising program design, fronting, claims administration, risk management, segregated portfolio cell rental, asset management, and segregated portfolio management services to individual companies, groups, and associations. Eastern Insurance Holdings, Inc. is headquartered in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.Advisors' Opinion:
- [By Lauren Pollock]
ProAssurance Corp.(PRA) agreed to acquire Eastern Insurance Holdings Inc.(EIHI) for about $205 million, expanding the insurance company’s casualty insurance offerings. Eastern Insurance is a domestic casualty insurance group specializing in workers’ compensation products and services, among other things. ProAssurance plans to pay $24.50 in cash for each outstanding Eastern share, a 16% premium over Monday’s closing price.
10 Best Growth Stocks To Own For 2014: MEDIFAST INC(MED)
Medifast, Inc., through its subsidiaries, engages in the production, distribution, and sale of weight management and disease management products, and other consumable health and diet products in the United States. The company?s product lines include weight and disease management, meal replacement, and vitamins. It also operates weight control centers that offer Medifast programs for weight loss and maintenance, customized patient counseling, and inbody composition analysis. The company markets its products under the Medifast and Essential brand names, including shakes, appetite suppression shakes, women?s health shakes, diabetics shakes, joint health shakes, coronary health shakes, calorie burn drinks, calorie burn flavor infusers, antioxidant shakes, antioxidant flavor infusers, bars, crunch bars, soups, chili, oatmeal, pudding, scrambled eggs, hot cocoa, cappuccino, chai latte, iced teas, fruit drinks, pretzels, puffs, brownie, pancakes, soy crisps, crackers, and omega 3 and digestive health products. Medifast Inc. sells its products through various channels of distribution comprising Web, call center, independent health advisors, medical professionals, weight loss clinics, and direct consumer marketing supported via the phone and the Web; Take Shape for Life, a physician led network of independent health coaches; and weight control centers. The company was founded in 1980 and is headquartered in Owings Mills, Maryland.Advisors' Opinion:
- [By Ben Levisohn]
Shares of Nutrisystem have gained 20% to $18.05 at 1:34 p.m., while Weight Watchers (WTW) has risen 3.6% to $39.42. Medifast (MED), however, has dropped 1.9% to $24.94.
- [By Holly LaFon] ast produces, distributes and sells weight and health management products with the brand names Medifast, Take Shape for Life, Hi-Energy Weight Control Centers and Woman�� Wellbeing.
Its return on assets in the third quarter of 2011 was 19.6%, which has been increasing in the past several years. The average return on assets for the specialty retail industry is 10.48% for the trailing 12 months.
The company�� total assets amounted to $94 million in 2010, which increased from $62.8 million in 2009. Net income also increased to $19.6 million in 2010 from $12 million in 2009.
Boston Beer Inc. (SAM)
Boston Beer Inc. is the largest brewer of handcrafted beers in America. Boston Beer is a growing company that recently saw a large increase in its return on assets. It increased from 19.3% in 2010 to 29.7% in 2011, and was negative as recently as 2008. The average return on assets for the beverages industry in the trailing 12 months is 9.47%.
In 2011, the company�� total assets increased to $272.5 million from $258.5 million in 2010. Net income increased to $66 million from $50 million.
Alliances Resources Partners (ARLP)
Alliance Resources Partners is a coal producer and marketer primarily in the eastern U.S. Its ROA has been increasing since 2008 and increased to 22.5% in 2011 from 21.4% in 2010. The average return on assets for the oil, gas & consumable fuels industry in the trailing 12 months is 24.47%.
In 2011, its total assets increased to $1.7 billion from $1.1 billion in 2010. Its net income increased to $389 million from $321 million.
Factset Research Systems Inc. (FDS)
Factset researches global market trends and develops analytical tools for investors. Of all of GuruFocus��5-star predictable companies, it has the highest return on assets at 27%. ROA has been increasing over the past several years. The average return on assets for the software industry for the trailing 12 m
- [By Jon C. Ogg]
Medifast Inc. (NYSE: MED) saw its stock down 5% in evening trading on Tuesday after the weight loss player had soft sales and guided expectations lower. Shares were still indicated down about 5%, but volume has not yet started.
10 Best Growth Stocks To Own For 2014: Waste Management Inc.(WM)
Waste Management, Inc., through its subsidiaries, provides waste management services to residential, commercial, industrial, and municipal customers in North America. It offers collection, transfer, recycling, and disposal services. The company also owns, develops, and operates waste-to-energy and landfill gas-to-energy facilities in the United States. Its collection services involves in picking up and transporting waste and recyclable materials from where it was generated to a transfer station, material recovery facility, or disposal site; and recycling operations include collection and materials processing, plastics materials recycling, and commodities recycling. In addition, it provides recycling brokerage, which includes managing the marketing of recyclable materials for third parties; and electronic recycling services, such as collection, sorting, and disassembling of discarded computers, communications equipment, and other electronic equipment. Further, the company e ngages in renting and servicing portable restroom facilities to municipalities and commercial customers under the Port-o-Let name; and involves in landfill gas-to-energy operations comprising recovering and processing the methane gas produced naturally by landfills into a renewable energy source, as well as provides street and parking lot sweeping services. Additionally, it offers portable self-storage, fluorescent lamp recycling, and medical waste services for healthcare facilities, pharmacies, and individuals, as well as provides services on behalf of third parties to construct waste facilities. The company was formerly known as USA Waste Services, Inc. and changed its name to Waste Management, Inc. in 1998. Waste Management, Inc. was incorporated in 1987 and is based in Houston, Texas.Advisors' Opinion:
- [By Geoff Gannon]
For example, a company involved in a mundane business like running hair salons ��like Regis (RGS), dentist offices ��like Birner Dental (BDMS), grocery stores ��like Village Supermarket (VLGEA), or garbage dumps ��like Waste Management (WM), may be easy to estimate as essentially a no-growth business.
- [By Holly LaFon]
He is avoiding Apple (AAPL) and IPOs, as they remind him of 1983, the year he learned the beauty of boring when blue chips such as Waste Management (WM) and Pepsico (PEP) were stumbling and selling cheap, while 30 glitzy PC stocks went public and soared. Since then, the blue chips have overcome their problems and rose in value again, and most of the PC companies are gone.
- [By Wallace Witkowski]
Some of the companies most dependent on government for revenue are Harris Corp. (HRS) �with 80% of revenue government-derived; Granite Construction Inc. (GVA) �with 58%; Flir Systems Inc. (FLIR) �with 54%; and Waste Management Inc. (WM) � and Republic Services Inc. (RSG) �both with 50%, according to Goldman Sachs.
- [By Daniel Sparks]
The payout ratio is an excellent tool for dividend investors. Without it, it's tough to judge how sustainable a company's dividend is. Though a lower payout ratio is always better than a high payout ratio, some companies can easily cope with higher ratios than others. In the video below, Fool contributor Daniel Sparks looks at�Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL ) , Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT ) , and Waste Management (NYSE: WM ) , illustrating how the ratio deserves careful attention during analysis.
10 Best Growth Stocks To Own For 2014: Intuitive Surgical Inc.(ISRG)
Intuitive Surgical, Inc. designs, manufactures, and markets da Vinci surgical systems for various surgical procedures, including urologic, gynecologic, cardiothoracic, general, and head and neck surgeries. Its da Vinci surgical system consists of a surgeon?s console or consoles, a patient-side cart, a 3-D vision system, and proprietary ?wristed? instruments. The company?s da Vinci surgical system translates the surgeon?s natural hand movements on instrument controls at the console into corresponding micro-movements of instruments positioned inside the patient through small puncture incisions, or ports. It also manufactures a range of EndoWrist instruments, which incorporate wrist joints for natural dexterity for various surgical procedures. Its EndoWrist instruments consist of forceps, scissors, electrocautery, scalpels, and other surgical tools. In addition, it sells various vision and accessory products for use in conjunction with the da Vinci Surgical System as surgical procedures are performed. The company?s accessory products include sterile drapes used to ensure a sterile field during surgery; vision products, such as replacement 3-D stereo endoscopes, camera heads, light guides, and other items. It markets its products through sales representatives in the United States, and through sales representatives and distributors in international markets. The company was founded in 1995 and is headquartered in Sunnyvale, California.Advisors' Opinion:
- [By Brian Stoffel]
Intuitive Surgical (NASDAQ: ISRG )
Most of the time, when a company handily beats expectations for revenue and earnings, its stock gets a pretty nice bump. Such was not the case, however, for Intuitive Surgical, maker of the daVinci Surgical Robotic system.
10 Best Growth Stocks To Own For 2014: Thoratec Corporation(THOR)
Thoratec Corporation engages in the development, manufacture, and marketing of proprietary medical devices used for circulatory support. The company?s primary product lines include ventricular assist devices, such as HeartMate II, an implantable left ventricular assist device consisting of a rotary blood pump to provide intermediate and long-term mechanical circulatory support (MCS); and HeartMate XVE, an implantable and pulsatile left ventricular assist device for intermediate and longer-term MCS. Its ventricular assist devices also comprise Paracorporeal Ventricular Assist Device, an external pulsatile ventricular assist device, which provides left, right, and biventricular MCS approved for bridge-to-transplantation (BTT), including home discharge, and post-cardiotomy myocardial recovery; and Implantable Ventricular Assist Device, an implantable and pulsatile ventricular assist device designed to provide left, right, and biventricular MCS approved for BTT comprising hom e discharge, and post-cardiotomy myocardial recovery. The company also provides CentriMag, an extracorporeal full-flow acute surgical support platform that offers support up to 30 days for cardiac and respiratory failure. In addition, it offers PediMag and PediVAS extracorporeal full-flow acute surgical support platforms designed to provide acute surgical support to pediatric patients. The company sells its products through direct sales force in the United States, as well as through a network of distributors internationally. Thoratec Corporation was founded in 1976 and is headquartered in Pleasanton, California.Advisors' Opinion:
- [By Brian Pacampara]
What: Shares of medical device company Thoratec (NASDAQ: THOR ) sank 12% today after its quarterly results missed Wall Street expectations. �
10 Best Growth Stocks To Own For 2014: Crocs Inc.(CROX)
Crocs, Inc. and its subsidiaries engage in the design, development, manufacture, marketing, and distribution of footwear, apparel, and accessories for men, women, and children. The company primarily offers casual and athletic shoes, and shoe charms. It also designs and sells a range of footwear and accessories that utilize its proprietary closed cell-resin, called Croslite. The company?s footwear products include boots, sandals, sneakers, mules, and flats. In addition, it provides footwear products for the hospital, restaurant, hotel, and hospitality markets, as well as general foot care and diabetic-needs markets. Further, the company offers leather and ethylene vinyl acetate based footwear, sandals, and printed apparels principally for the beach, adventure, and action sports markets; and accessories comprising snap-on charms. The company sells its products through the United States and international retailers and distributors, as well as directly to end-user consumers th rough its company-operated retail stores, outlets, kiosks, and Web stores primarily under the Crocs Work, Crocs Rx, Jibbitz, Ocean Minded, and YOU by Crocs brand names. As of December 31, 2010, it operated 164 retail kiosks located in malls and other high foot traffic areas; 138 retail stores; 76 outlet stores; and 46 Web stores. Crocs, Inc. operates in the Americas, Europe, and Asia. The company was formerly known as Western Brands, LLC and changed its name to Crocs, Inc. in January 2005. Crocs, Inc. was founded in 1999 and is headquartered in Niwot, Colorado.Advisors' Opinion:
- [By Brian Pacampara]
What: Shares of plastic shoe specialist Crocs (NASDAQ: CROX ) plummeted 21% today after its quarterly results and outlook easily missed Wall Street expectations.
- [By Dividends4Life]
Memberships and Peers: NKE is a member of the S&P 500 and a member of the Broad Dividend Achievers��Index. The company's peer group includes: Crocs Inc. (CROX) with a 0.0% yield, Deckers Outdoor Corporation (DECK) with a 0.0% yield and Wolverine World Wide Inc. (WWW) with a 0.4% yield.
10 Best Growth Stocks To Own For 2014: Checkpoint Systms Inc.(CKP)
Checkpoint Systems, Inc. manufactures and markets identification, tracking, security, and merchandising solutions for the retail and apparel industry worldwide. The company operates in three segments: Shrink Management Solutions, Apparel Labeling Solutions, and Retail Merchandising Solutions. The Shrink Management Solutions segment provides shrink management and merchandise visibility solutions. It offers electronic article surveillance systems, such as EVOLVE, a suite of RF and RFID-enabled products that act as a deterrent to prevent merchandise theft in retail stores; and electronic article surveillance consumables, including EAS-RF and EAS-EM labels that work in combination with EAS systems to reduce merchandise theft in retail stores. This segment also provides keepers, spider wraps, bottle security, and hard tags, as well as Showsafe, a line alarm system for protecting display merchandise. In addition, it offers physical and electronic store monitoring solutions, incl uding fire alarms, intrusion alarms, and digital video recording systems for retail environments; and RFID tags and labels. The Apparel Labeling Solutions segment provides apparel labeling solutions to apparel retailers, brand owners, and manufacturers. It has Web-enabled apparel labeling solutions platform and network of 28 service bureaus located in 22 countries that supplies customers with customized apparel tags and labels. The Retail Merchandising Solutions segment offers hand-held label applicators and tags, promotional displays, and queuing systems. The company serves retailers in the supermarket, drug store, hypermarket, and mass merchandiser markets through direct distribution and reseller channels. Checkpoint Systems was founded in 1969 and is based in Thorofare, New Jersey.Advisors' Opinion:
- [By Rich Smith]
Three months after settling upon a new chief executive officer, it looks like Thorofare, N. J.-based Checkpoint Systems (NYSE: CKP ) will soon have itself a new CFO as well.
- [By John Udovich]
Small cap Checkpoint Systems, Inc (NYSE: CKP) fights shoplifting or retail theft and other forms of�"shrink��that costs retailers over $112 billion worldwide last year (according to a study funded by the company), meaning it might be an interesting stock to take a closer look at and to compare its performance with that of SPDR S&P Retail ETF (NYSEARCA: XRT) and PowerShares Dynamic Retail ETF (NYSEARCA: PMR). Just how bad can shoplifting or shrink be for a retailer? Troubled retailer J.C. Penney Company, Inc (NYSE: JCP) has just reported that shoplifting took a full percentage point off the department store chain's profit margins during the quarter. Moreover and given that tens of millions of Americans are now facing higher health insurance costs thanks to Obamacare (which will likely impact consumer discretionary spending),�retailers�will need to find ways to shore up their margins and bottom lines by preventing�retail theft with solutions from company�� like Checkpoint Systems.