What is your top "sleeper" or "under the radar" stock pick?
Kessler: Teck Resourses, a Canadian metallurgical coal and copper company, is our top "under the radar" stock. With a $19 billion market cap, Teck is a large cap value stock, selling at book value, an 11x P/E, a manageable debt/capitalization of 28% and a cash hoard on the balance sheet of more than $4 billion. The stock is not well followed on Wall Street, despite its size and high-quality balance sheet. Teck is one of the world's largest miners/producers of metallurgical coal and has one of the all-in lowest cost of production and shipping among its competitors.
The stock fell sharply in the last year on concerns that steel consumption in China would be tempered as Chinese GDP growth estimates shrunk from 9.5% to 7% annually. By July of this year, investors' worries about Chinese steel demand had cut met coal stock prices by 40% or more, without regard to fundamentals, earnings quality or the ability to manage return on invested capital in a wide range of global economic environments. Teck is well positioned financially and operationally to weather a lower demand environment and thrive in even a modest global recovery.
What stocks or sector would your sell or avoid right now?Kessler: As fundamental research-driven stock selectors, we do not make macroeconomic or sector rotation investment decisions in our portfolios. Instead, we use the information gleaned from our companies as well as input providers, end users and competitors, to create an investment context generated by bottom-up research. Currently, we are using premium valuation telecom and consumer staples names as sources of funds. What is your outlook for 2013? Kessler: Economic conditions in 2013 face headwinds. Global economies show few patches of significant growth, while slowing GDP is becoming the norm. Early indications are that North America should remain in non-recessionary territory in 2013, despite persistently high unemployment. Financial markets however generally anticipate and discount economic change. We would not be surprised if equity markets corrected following their strong showing in three out of the last four years. We are positioning our value portfolios relatively conservatively -- buying strong balance sheets, well-positioned franchises with stable to increasing returns on invested capital, free cash flow generation and discounted valuations relative to their historic norms or to the market as a whole. Edited for length and clarity. -- Written by Gregg Greenberg in New York.