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  • The large scale means that GNC has much leverage in getting lower costs. But the company has also invested heavily in creating premium product offerings, which get strong margins. These include Mega Men, Longevity Factors, Pro Performance and Ultra Mega. GNC-branded products accounted for $850 million in revenue last year.

    No doubt, GNC realizes that the Internet is a lucrative channel. To this end, the company revamped its website in 2009. So far, it has been gaining traction, in terms of traffic and conversion rates.

    Total revenues for GNC have been growing at a steady rate, going from $1.67 billion in 2008 to $1.82 billion in 2010. The EBITDA is a hefty $259.4 million.
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  • The company is selling at 17 times earnings (for the past 12 months). This is certainly a reasonable valuation in light of the company's premium brand, global footprint and long-term growth potential.

    Renren IPO

    The company recently filed for an IPO and the shares should start trading within a couple of weeks. The proposed ticker is RENN and the price range was set at $9 to $11 per share.

    Renren is the leading social networking site in China. There are roughly 117 million activated users and the growth rate is about 2 million users per month.

    Like Facebook, Renren allows its users to connect with friends, play games, listen to music and even shop. Interestingly enough, the company recently launched jingwei.com. It's a professional network, which is similar to LinkedIn.

    Of course, Renren's growth has been sizzling. Net revenues spiked from $13.8 million in 2008 to $76.5 million in 2010. That's a compound annual growth rate of 135.7%.

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  • True, Renren is losing money. The net loss was $61.2 million last year. Then again, the company is focused on growing its operations - not generating cash flows.

    It's a good bet that Renren will have a strong opening when it hits the US markets. Because of this, investors should wait a week or so to get a sense of the direction of the stock before making a trade. Expect lots of volatility.

    As of this writing, Hilary Kramer, did not own a position in any of the stocks named here.

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