Stockpickr was founded on the philosophy that it's often smart and usually lucrative to follow in the footsteps of smart people.
Following smart investors could mean a few different things. It could mean piggybacking great investors like Warren Buffett or George Soros. Other times it means buying what the CEOs, employees and directors of a company are buying. These are people who know the intimate details of their company far better than you or me.
The perfect setup, of course, comes when one of these company insiders or an entire board -- in the case of a buyback -- are buying shares at the same time that savvy investors are also investing in the stock.
With that in mind, each Thursday at Stockpickr we update the
portfolio, featuring stocks that in recent days have had either big insider purchases or newly announced buybacks, as well as super-investors accumulating shares.
last week announced a $500 million share buyback and added that its board also reintroduced a regular quarterly
dividend of 5 cents a share. The glassmaker had paid a dividend every year since 1881 up until six years ago when it nixed the payment in an effort to return to profitability.
The liquid crystal display maker just yesterday posted strong second-quarter earnings. A slip in profit was due to charges it took to settle asbestos litigation. Outside of that, adjusted earnings easily beat Wall Street expectations.
The stock traded down, and while some pointed to third-quarter guidance being "at the low end of previous projections," it was most likely down due to investors taking profits. Most analysts were upbeat regarding the company's second quarter, but as Argus Research analyst Jim Kelleher pointed out, "it gave investors a chance to collect profit on the stock after a steep incline."
Corning's stock is up 40% this year, so it made sense to see investors taking some profits off the table after a "midyear reality check." This type of profit-taking after a strong quarter definitely opens the door up for an entry.
Another reason we like Corning is that we see noteworthy investors like
are invested in the stock. Cooperman, a former Goldman Sachs executive, is founder of Omega Advisors, a $4.5 billion hedge fund based in New York City. Cooperman also is invested in
Larry Robbins, of
, is another believer in the stock. Robbins is one of the top-paid managers on Wall Street after consistently returning double-digit returns to his investors. Robbins has been known to take a more activist approach on some of his large bets, voicing concerns about what management is doing and publicly demanding change.
So with Corning we have a large buyback, a new dividend declared by the board and noteworthy investors in the stock -- it's time to take a closer look at Corning.
Next on the list is
. This energy company, which owns and runs natural gas pipelines, recently approved the repurchase of up to $1 billion in common stock.
Williams also announced it will form a new publicly traded master limited partnership for its gas pipeline assets. The initial asset in the pipeline partnership will be an interest in the company's NorthWest Pipeline, a 3,900-mile transmission system that accesses natural gas supplies in the Rocky Mountains, Canada and the San Juan Basin.
A few months ago, the company announced the sale of essentially all of its energy trading unit, which allowed it to shed $2.4 billion of trading liabilities from its balance sheet and led to its credit rating recently getting bumped up a notch to BB+. This should allow Williams to post more consistent earnings -- not to mention reduce its interest expense with a better debt rating and thus better interest rate.
Its most recent quarter came in slightly below expectations, mainly due to the trading business. It is for this reason that the company traded at a slight discount to its peers. But its core business, natural gas exploration and production, is up big year over year, posting 27% profit growth.
The stock has made a very nice run year to date, but Credit Suisse recently upped its price target to $38 from $34 based on future expected midstream sales and maintained its outperform rating.
Adding to the bullish case for Williams is that
is in the stock. Jones founded Tudor Investment in 1980, and the firm currently manages $15.4 billion. The firm's investment strategies include global macro trading and fundamental equity investing in the U.S. and Europe. He also has large positions in
Of course, it only gets better when you see an investor such as
is also betting on the stock. The legendary investor has been more active of late, with a seemingly golden touch. For the rest of his holdings, including
( MOT), check out the
The last stock we'll take a look at today is
. The mattresses and pillow maker last week announced it will repurchase up to $200 million in shares.
This announcement came on the same day the company also raised its full-year earnings outlook for 2007. The following day, the company continued the good news when it posted second-quarter earnings that showed a 26% year-over-year profit increase, easily beating expectations.
The market responded by lifting the stock to 52-week highs, and then the analysts started chiming in as well. Standard & Poor's raised its price target by $4 to $37, noting the share buyback as well as a new mattress factory should continue to drive earnings growth.
Stifel Nicolaus analyst John Baugh was also pleased with all of the positive announcements. Baugh pointed out that "there was little to be critical of in this quarter, and the sharp pricing actions and strong orders bode well for the second half of the year."
We also like that
is in the stock. Chester runs the $2.8 billion Westcore Select Fund, which focuses on mid-cap stocks. The fund's aim is to invest in stocks that it thinks can rise at least 20% in 12 to 18 months. It has worked pretty well as the fund has an average annualized return of 18% over the past three years. Chester's view is that mid-cap stocks are more established and less volatile than their small-cap peers but offer greater potential for returns and growth than large-caps. For the rest of his holdings, including
( ERTS), check out the
For the rest of this week's stocks, check out the 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
- Top 10 Insider Purchases and Buybacks IX
- Top 10 Insider Purchases and Buybacks X
- Top 10 Insider Purchases and Buybacks XI
- Top 10 Insider Purchases and Buybacks XII
- Top 10 Insider Purchases and Buybacks XIII
You can also review
from the prior week as well as Cramer's
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 a fund of hedge funds. He is also a weekly columnist for
The Financial Times
and 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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