Sunday, September 23, 2007

Barron's Summary (PPG, PHH, ANW, CMCSA, GOOG)

Barron’s cover highlights BMW, saying that according to some bulls, the shares could rally 20% or more if 2H07 margins expand. At its recent price of €43.57, it was trading at over 10x the ‘07 consensus EPS ests of €4.08, a big discount to its peer group, which trades at 14.1x. Take out BMW's €6.5bn, or €10 a share, in cash and the P/E multiple is even lower, notes Daniel Kerbach, of LGT Capital Mgmt. And while BMW has been investing heavily, it now has many more improved models available as a result. "It will take a few quarters, but that will pay off," Kerbach adds.

Fund manager likes BWA, TEN and JCI.

Pittsburgh Plate Glass (PPG) stock looks like a good bet. The company is getting out of slow-growth markets like U.S. auto glass and reinvesting in more promising ones like Transitions eyeglass lenses.

Through brokerage stocks are up 10%-25% since the lows of this summer, they're apt to level off or drop in the months ahead as investors come to accept the new environment. BSC, LEH, MS, GS.

If the deal dies, the shares of PHH (PHH) could fall to 22, about $6 less than book for a good business. An investor says it's worth at least the $31.50 buyout price -- and possibly $60 in two years.

“The Trader” column highlights Aegean Marine Petroleum (ANW), saying that the co’ stock offers an alternative vehicle to ride the shipping boom. With shipyards bursting with orders, Aegean should see increased demand for its services in the years to come. The task of schlepping fuel to ships, undertaken by oil co’s decades ago, increasingly is falling to independent suppliers, and Aegean should continue to snag mkt share from its smaller, regional peers. A strong balance sheet with no net debt also gives Aegean financial flexibility and the option to buy smaller, undercapitalized co’s. Aegean is expected to double the number of its service hubs and nearly triple its fleet by 2010, and Jefferies Douglas Mavrinac expects sales volume to rise 4-fold by 2010. He expects EPS, at about 68c in ‘07, to reach $1.72 in ‘08, $3.22 in ‘09 and $4.50 in ‘10. Another catalyst: The world's supply of bunkering tankers that can deliver heavy-grade marine fuel will fall off sharply after ‘08, as single-hull oil tankers are phased out in accordance with an intl rule aimed at reducing pollution in an accident. But Aegean's 16-strong fleet consists of 14 double-hull bunkering tankers. And it has orders for 28 new vessels. Mavrinac’s tgt stands at 42.

According to the “Technology Trader”, Bernstein analyst Craig Moffett recommends investor to buy shares of Comcast (CMCSA). It sucks," he said. Comcast shares have, dramatically underperforming the broad mkt, other media stocks, and more or less everything else. The slide reflects a variety of factors, in particular worries that the co is beginning to feel the heat from the TV offerings now rolling out from AT&T and Verizon. Says Moffett: "The cable operators, for all the hand wringing, are growing at their strongest growth rate in a decade," with Comcast growing rev by 12%, and EBITDA by 14%. Moffett notes that Comcast's shares have dropped to a historic low valuation, and now trade at a multiple of cash flow about on par with the much slower growing RBOCs. Moffett thinks Comcast is running out of reasons not to make a regular payout, and he notes that a move in that direction could shift investor perceptions of the stock. Unless Comcast really does something off the wall like build out a new wireless phone network, Moffett expects the co to spend an increasingly small portion of rev on capital spending, which should mean expanding free cash flow. Given all of that, Moffett thinks investors ought to be buying the stock. "It has been brutally painful to own this stock, watching it go down 2% every day," he says. "But on the other hand, it is hard to make a case for anything other than adding to positions...there's always a gut check before you step in and buy a stock as unloved as Comcast. But history says that is when you get the best returns."

“Plugged In” column discusses Google (GOOG), saying that critics such as Fred Hickey are convinced that not even GOOG can avoid the impact of the credit mess. In a recent edition of his newsletter, Hickey wrote that Google's ad revs are likely to take a hit next qrtr and beyond. Late last week, Google execs told that mortgage-related advertisers are indeed cutting their budgets, but they aren't expected to reduce spending on Google search ads. "Every single day that somebody is looking for a mortgage...these campaigns from these financial customers are on 24-7, 365 days a year," says Tim Armstrong, president of Google's ad division in N-America. "So our ecosystem actually mimics what the GDP looks like." Granted, with a $174.8bn mkt cap that dwarfs the GDP of many sovereign nations, Google might think it mirrors the US economy. But that doesn't explain how Google has managed to protect a big piece of a smaller pie, says a money manager at a major East Coast hedge fund. "It is inconceivable that mortgage-related ad rev isn't shrinking," the manager says. "Google is far more exposed than the Street is letting on," the hedge-fund manager contends. For Google bears, runaway costs are a big concern. Google reported that operating expenses skyrocketed 68% last qrtr, and CEO Eric Schmidt admitted that the co blew through its plan for new hires. Google has defied gravity before. And just b/c mere mortals, such as Bear Stearns and Countrywide, have buckled some under the weight of a global liquidity crisis, there's little reason to believe that Teflon-coated Google could some how be affected, too.

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