It is always nice to see a company that has good earnings, confirms guidance or maybe just receives an analyst upgrade. But in today's market, that isn't always enough. We like to see either insiders or boards putting their own money on the line as well. And of course, when we see all of this coming together at the same time, it often signals an excellent buying opportunity.
Each Thursday at Stockpickr we update the
, a list of stocks that during the week saw either big insider purchases or newly announced buybacks as well as super investors accumulating shares.
is one of the stocks that makes this week's list. The security software giant recently announced a new $2 billion stock buyback program. This is on the heels of a $1 billion program it began in January and under which it purchased 54 million shares for an average price of $18.51 apiece. Not bad.
The Cupertino, Calif., company also recently reiterated both its first-quarter and full-year fiscal 2008 outlook. This was a breath of fresh air and much needed as the company had a tough 2007 in which growth in key business units had flattened. The company has added to its product line, invested in infrastructure and also believes the successful acquisition of storage company Veritas could move things in the right direction.
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CEO John Thompson noted that "in the long term, this is a company that can grow in the range of 8% to 12% ... and our EPS growth should be two to three points above the revenue growth we produce in any given year."
Goldman also recently upgraded Symantec to buy from neutral, based on impressive upcoming releases of flagship products as well as the view that the company is the healthiest it's been in two years. There is upside to its conservative guidance, and of course the aggressive share buyback. The analyst, Sarah Friar, pointed to the release of first-quarter results on July 25 as the first catalyst. She also raised her price target from $21 to $25.
Another positive sign for Symantec is that
is a believer in the stock. The legendary investor has been more active of late, with a seemingly golden touch. For the rest of his holdings, including
, check out the
portfolio on Stockpickr.
It's also good to see that the likes of
is a believer in the stock. Sherman's investment and money management philosophies are rooted in a basic value approach to buying stocks. It has worked out well; he has returned an astounding 20% annually since starting his fund in 1986. Also notable is that in the past few years, more than 40 companies he's owned in his portfolio have been acquired.
So with Symantec, we have a buyback, an upgrade including increased price target, and two well-known investors in the stock. It may be time to take a closer look.
Moving on, the first reason we looked at
was because we saw that superstar investor and board member
recently purchased 70,467 shares, or nearly $600,000 worth of stock.
Caxton is a $16 billion New York-based trading and investment firm founded by Kovner, a legendary billionaire macro trader. Over the past 10 years Caxton has reportedly returned more than 28% annually.
Synta recently announced that its lead compound, STA-4783, showed positive results in a midstage study for treatment of metastatic melanoma. The Lexington, Mass.-based biotechnology company also said that it plans to initiate a phase III clinical trial in mid-2007 to investigate the compund as a first-line therapy for patients with the cancer. The stock carries an outperform rating from Bear Stearns.
is another all-star fund that owns Synta. It is a $10 billion fund started by Lee Ainslie III, who was a protege of legendary investor Julian Robertson at Tiger Management, one of the most successful hedge funds in history. Maverick is known as a classic stock-picking fund that focuses on fundamentals and cash flow. Some of its other holdings include
Synta, perhaps, is a little outside of our normal zone in terms of value plays; however, that the company just had positive news, together with the fact that one of the best investors ever just bought shares on the open market and that another highly respected fund also owns the stock, leads us to believe the stock is worth considering for those investors who understand biotech opportunities.
Next on the list is
. The discount retailer recently announced it added $3 billion to its stock buyback program. The additional $3 billion takes the program to $8 billion total, $4 billion of which is remaining. The company also announced that it raised its quarterly dividend by 17% to 14 cents a share.
The Minneapolis-based company recently announced solid first-quarter results that beat expectations. The retailer surprised Wall Street and chalked up the solid results to strong profit numbers in its credit card unit, robust generic-drug sales and a strong showing across all retail offerings.
"We are pleased with the strength of our first-quarter results in both our core retail and credit-card operations," Traget CEO Bob Ulrich said. "Our overall performance reinforces our confidence in our ability to continue to generate profitable market share growth for the full year 2007 and many years to come."
It's also promising to see that
also owns the stock. The firm manages its trademark Sequoia Fund, which has one of the best long-term performance records on Wall Street. The fund was started in 1970 and has returned 16% annually since inception.
suggested long ago that the Sequoia Fund be established so his partners and investors would have the opportunity to stay invested in the equity markets after he closed his original hedge fund in the late 1960s.
Another interesting point about Target is that it is a component of
portfolio. The financial weekly had a fascinating article in January on the relationship between a company's philanthropic contributions and its future profits.
The column cited a study by Professor Baruch Lev of NYU's Stern School that concluded that every dollar given to charity by a company, if viewed the same way as an investment, resulted in a 200% to 300% return in profits. Other philanthropic companies on this list include
While this last characteristic may not be a huge deal on its own, when combined with a big buyback program, a solid quarter and a notable investor in the stock, Target does present a nice setup.
To see the rest of this week's picks, check out Stockpickr's
And for more insight into Stockpickr's Guide to Insider Purchases and Stock Buybacks, you can review each of the last few weeks' picks by visiting these portfolios:
- Top 10 Insider Purchases and Buybacks I
- Top 10 Insider Purchases and Buybacks II
- Top 10 Insider Purchases and Buybacks III
- Top 10 Insider Purchases and Buybacks IV
- Top 10 Insider Purchases and Buybacks V
- Top 10 Insider Purchases and Buybacks VI
- Top 10 Insider Purchases and Buybacks VII
- Top 10 Insider Purchases and Buybacks VIII
You can also review
from the prior week as well as Jim Cramer's
Please note that due to factors including low market capitalization and/or insufficient public float, we consider Synta Pharmaceuticals to be a small-cap stock. You should be aware that such stocks are subject to more risk than stocks of larger companies, including greater volatility, lower liquidity and less publicly available information, and that postings such as this one can have an effect on their stock prices.
At the time of publication, Altucher and/or his fund had no positions in stocks mentioned, although positions may change at any time.
James Altucher is president of Stockpickr LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of TheStreet.com and part of its network of Web properties, and a managing partner at Formula Capital, an alternative asset management firm that runs several quantitative-based hedge funds as well as a fund of hedge funds. He is also the author of
Trade Like a Hedge Fund
Trade Like Warren Buffett
. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks. Altucher appreciates your feedback;
to send him an email.
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