With so much happening in the market recently, we want to update you on our analysis and examine two new stocks that we have added to our watch list on
service. Much of this article went to our subscribers earlier this morning. (If you'd like to see our alerts as they occur, please click here for a free trial.)
Now, to the market: Three weeks ago,
( BSC) announced that it was being bought in a fire sale by
increased liquidity using measures not seen since the Great Depression, and most economic data pointed toward a huge slowdown in consumer spending.
Today, listening to the financial pundits, it seems as if everything is OK on the liquidity front; our economy will avoid slipping into a recession; and we've now hit a bottom in the equity markets.
So our question is if this is a bottom, why is Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson trying to overhaul our entire financial system? After all, according to the media, the downfall was limited to Bear Stearns and a few aggressive mortgage brokers. The
index is down only 5% on the year, and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke made it clear Wednesday that he will back up all the major investment firms and banks in case of further liquidity problems.
Looking at the data from just this week,
announced $19 billion in writedowns and fired its chairman;
said that it expects to write down $4 billion in subprime and Alt-A loans; and
( LEH) announced that it would raise $4 billion through a convertible offering.
All three of these stocks rose sharply following their announcements because Wall Street interpreted this news as an indication that the worst is over, hence the "kitchen sink" theory.
In other words, if this is the case perhaps
( MER) and
should take double the writedowns and raise as much cash as possible when they report two weeks from now, given that these strategies worked out pretty well for their competitors.
Looking at the bigger picture, common sense says it's difficult to believe that we are at a bottom and that the worst is over just because investment firms and banks are reporting larger-than-expected writedowns. After all, the government and the Fed are taking measures not seen since the Depression, and we are arguably not even in a recession.
This disconnect has us worried, and also leads us to believe that the equity markets still have more downside risk than upside potential. While it is difficult to remain on the sidelines when financials and homebuilders are rallying, use your common sense and invest wisely.
You can do this by taking small positions and building them up over time, using the current increase in volatility to your advantage. Also, not all financials, homebuilders and retailers are the same, yet it seems as if they're all rallying together.
It's important to look at balance sheets, management, insider buying/selling and how each company has dealt with the slowdown in the U.S. economy. This will limit your downside risk and lead to higher returns.
Turning to the model portfolio, we've added
to our Watch List this week.
Perficient is an IT software and consulting firm that made headway over the past five years by claiming a small piece of an industry dominated by larger players like
Electronic Data Systems
By focusing on the needs of small to midsized companies and by acquiring other small consulting firms with strong regional connections, Perficient has been able to generate impressive double-digit growth in both earnings and revenue. For example, revenue growth was more than 60% in both 2005 and 2006.
The stock has sold off hard, recently trading at $8.40, given that its annual growth estimates included future acquisitions. The weakness in the U.S. economy has led to a decline in mergers-and-acquisitions activity, causing the company to fall short of estimates and to lower guidance. Also, Perficient has a debt-free balance sheet and just announced a buyback for up to $10 million of the company's stock.
Harmonic manufactures and sells video products and system solutions that enable cable, satellite, telecom and wireless service providers to deliver broadcast and on-demand services. The company has more than $3.50 a share in cash and is a possible takeover candidate.
Last quarter, Harmonic posted solid results as sales grew in both domestic and international markets. Despite these results, shares have sold off sharply, recently trading at $7.83, from its 52-week high of $12.95.
At first glance, it appears as if the selloff in these two names is overdone. We have just begun our research process and will update readers on our progress.
Perficient and Harmonic are on the watch list of TheStreet.com Stocks Under $10 service. Frank Curzio and Larsen Kusick, who manage TheStreet.com Stocks Under $10, write regularly about low-priced stocks, such as Sirius Satellite Radio (SIRI) - Get Report, Countrywide Financial( CFC) and China Direct( CDS) for TheStreet.com
In keeping with TSC's editorial policy, Frank Curzio doesn't own or short individual stocks. He also doesn't invest in hedge funds or other private investment partnerships. Frank X. Curzio is a research analyst at TheStreet.com, where he works closely with Jim Cramer and writes
newsletter. He also hosts "The Real Story" -- a daily podcast on TheStreet.com on which he reviews the latest headlines and offers stock-picking advice. He is a regular guest on FoxBusiness News and previously was the editor of The FXC Newsletter and portfolio manager for Greentree Financial. He appreciates your feedback;
to send him an email.
In keeping with TSC's editorial policy, Larsen Kusick doesn't own or short individual stocks. He also doesn't invest in hedge funds or other private investment partnerships. Kusick is a research associate at TheStreet.com, where he works closely with Jim Cramer and works on TheStreet.com Stocks Under $10. Prior to joining TheStreet.com, he worked in options trading and management consulting. He appreciates your feedback;
to send him an email.
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