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Alsin's Top Ten for 2010: Part 1

Liz Claiborne (LIZ): Nothing has changed since I recommended apparel maker Liz Claiborne earlier this year at $4.38 per share, and again on Sept. 16 at $6.27. With the stock trading at $4.37, it's an easy pick for the top 10 list. The company is worth far more than its current market cap of $380 million. By this time next year, the earnings power of this company will become evident. With $3 billion in sales and a diversified cadre of brands, I expect the earnings rebound will increase its value to a minimum of $1 billion to $1.5 billion, or $10-$15 per share.

Smart Balance (SMBL): While the food-products industry is notoriously slow-growth -- think Kraft, General Mills, Kellogg -- it's possible to find a growth company in this sector every once in a while. On the back of strong growth of its buttery spreads products, this $340 million (market cap) company has seen sales grow from $99 million in 2005 to $240 million this year. CEO Steve Hughes has built food-products growth companies before -- he led the team that launched the Healthy Choice brand, growing revenue to $1 billion in just four years. And he led the turnaround at Tropicana, doubling revenue from $1 billion to $2 billion, also in just four years.

A number of innovative new products will be introduced by Smart Balance over the next couple of years. Next up is the nationwide launch of Smart Balance milk, a new "heart healthy" product that has been thoroughly vetted in major test markets, with impressive success. What's particularly interesting about Smart Balance is its operating model. It produces a robust stream of free cash flow because it outsources all of its production. That allows the management team to focus on marketing and innovation, while minimizing capital-expenditure requirements.
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