My seven picks for 2014 were horrid. Over the past year, they fell an average of 13%, woeful compared with the 17% gain of Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index. The biggest losers were mortgage servicer Ocwen Financial (symbol OCN), down 56%, and a provider of mobile-payment software, Monitise (MONIF), off 40%. I’ve sold Ocwen, but I still hold Monitise. I expect much better results from my selections for 2015. (All prices and returns are as of October 31.)
Bank of America (BAC, $17), with a 23% return over the past year, is one of two stocks making a return appearance. BofA has made great progress in cutting costs, and after paying $17 billion to settle legal claims for shoddy mortgage securities, litigation risk is minimal. Although the stench from the 2008 acquisition of Countrywide lingers, many investors ignore the bank’s strength. BofA needs interest rates to rise to realize its full potential (when rates rise, banks typically boost lending charges faster than rates on deposits). By 2016, the stock could trade at $25 to $30.
Also back for an encore is Howard Hughes Corp. (HHC, $147), which gained 26% over the past year. It continues to execute brilliantly, and I think the shares could be worth $250 by the end of 2015. The company owns valuable land in Honolulu, Houston, Las Vegas and New York City. It creates value by contributing the land to a joint venture in which the partner builds homes, condos, offices and shopping centers, or by developing land on its own.
Citigroup (C, $54) is the only major U.S. bank that trades at a discount to tangible book value (assets, excluding intangible assets, minus liabilities), says SNL Financial, and the reason seems clear. Investors are terrified of Citi Holdings, the entity set up in 2009 to hold toxic loans the bank couldn’t unload. But now that most of the loans are gone, the unit accounts for only 5% of the bank’s assets. But that still amounts to $100 billion and remains a legitimate concern, given that Citi has a market value of $162 billion. Citi Holdings will be gone someday, and when it is, the stock is likely to be much higher. Analyst Mike Mayo, of CLSA, a Hong Kong–based brokerage, thinks Citi will reach $107 in four years.
MeadWestvaco (MWV, $44) owns raw land and packaging and specialty chemical assets that are worth 50% more than the stock’s market value of $8 billion. Spinning off the specialty-chemicals business alone could fetch $3.5 billion, says Jeff Smith, head of Starboard Value, a hedge fund that owns 5.6% of MeadWestvaco. To Smith, this is a classic case of entrenched management not doing enough for shareholders. MeadWestvaco is already a good business, but jettisoning one or two of its units would make it a much more valuable one.
Solar is on a roll. Solar power is now competitive, without subsidies, with other forms of energy in much of the world. Moreover, technological advances should drive down solar costs by another 20% by 2017. SunEdison (SUNE, $20), which designs and installs solar systems, sells its solar-power systems to its 64%-owned subsidiary TerraForm Power. This arrangement confuses some investors and has held down the stock. Hedge fund manager David Einhorn believes the company is worth $32 per share today.
Shares of zinc producer Horsehead Holding (ZINC, $16) fell after news broke about problems at its new mine in Mooresboro, N.C. The stock has also been pressured by fears about slowing global growth. But zinc prices will get a boost in 2015 and 2016 because of the planned closure of two big mines. Once Horsehead works out the kinks at its new facility, it should generate additional cash flow of some $90 million a year, a huge amount for a company with a market value of $797 million.
Amazon To Offer Students $25 Flights For The Holidays — But You Must Act Fast
Amazon Prime Student members will have a chance to score one of 3,000 tickets for a limited time, starting December 5.
By Jamie Feldman Published
Walt Disney's Dividend Is Back. Will DIS Stock Follow?
Disney reinstated its dividend after a three-year suspension as shares remain depressed.
By Dan Burrows Published
Special Dividends Are On The Rise — Here's What to Know About Them
More companies are paying out special dividends this year. Here's what that means.
By Kim Clark Published
How to Invest in AI
Investors wanting to know how to invest in AI should consider these companies that stand to benefit from the boom.
By Kim Clark Published
Best Financial Stocks to Buy
Investors seeking out the best financial stocks will want to tread carefully, focusing on high-quality names with solid fundamentals.
By Deborah Yao Published
Why I Still Like Emerging Markets
Periods of global instability create intriguing possibilities in emerging markets. Here are a few.
By James K. Glassman Published
The Investment Strategy You Need Now
An asset allocation plan divvies up your money into stocks, bonds, cash and other assets according to your goals, time horizon and tolerance for risk.
By Nellie S. Huang Published
Where to Invest for the Rest of 2023
Our roadmap can help market participants see where to invest in a directionless market.
By Anne Kates Smith Published
How to Survive the 2023 Stock Market
To survive the 2023 stock market, investors should focus on high-quality stocks and bonds, watch out for a recession, and above all, stay nimble.
By Anne Kates Smith Published
The Pros' Investment Strategies for Today's Market
Fundamentals, fixed income and gold are just some of the investment strategies Wall Street's top minds are using to navigate the current market environment.
By Coryanne Hicks Published