Online Journal for the Moose Pond Investors Club

Barrons — Drug Industry

In an article this week, Barrons notes that the big drug stocks trade today for just 12 to 14 times projected 2004 profits. The last time the drug stocks saw valuations like these was in 1993-94 when Wall Street feared President Clinton’s health-care proposals would lead to industry price controls.

Pfizer and Merck are two of the stocks mentioned in the article. The consensus earnings projection for PFE over the next 12 months is $2.33. Using Friday’s closing price of $28.50, the forward PE is (28.50/2.33) or 12.2. PFE’s historical 10-year average PE is 32.6.

The consensus earnings projection for MRK over the next 12 months is $2.77. Using Friday’s closing price of $30.50, the forward PE is (30.50/2.77) or 11.0. MRK’s historical 10-year average PE is 22.6.


Return on Equity Screen

There seems to be a correlation between stocks that have a good return on equity (ROE) year after year and quality growth stocks.

Here is a screen using AAII SI Pro with the following parameters:
   – ROE for each of the last seven years > 15%
   – Current PE < 5-year average PE    - (PE / EPS growth) < 1.5    - 5-year (diluted) EPS growth > 10%
   – Projected long term EPS growth > 10%
   – positive EPS growth for each of last 4 quarters

Using data from October 8, the screen yielded 22 stocks.

17 of the 22 stocks have an U/D ratio > 3.0, total return > 15%, and a relative value < 110. In an equally weighted portfolio, all of these stocks together would have a total return of 20.1%, a PAR of 15.1%, an U/D ratio of 4.7, and a relative value of 89.1. The attached PDF file contains a PERT chart (sorted by total return) and a trend report (sorted by PAR) with the stocks passing the screen. The PERT chart uses First Call data for projected EPS and 5-year growth.


NAIC

The National Association of Investors Corporation (NAIC) teaches individuals how to become successful strategic long-term investors. NAIC investors use fundamental analysis to study common stocks and mutual funds. Information about NAIC and its investor resources can be found at http://www.better-investing.org. Volunters throughout the United States work with local chapters to teach individuals and clubs how to invest.

Unfortunately, NAIC has found itself at the center of a controversy and the subject of an investigation by the Finance Committee of the U.S. Senate. The core allegation is that the officers have abused the tax exempt of NAIC to enrich themselves at the expense of the members and the volunteers of the organization. A CNBC investigative report frames the issues. It remains to be seen whether the organization will remain viable as the controversy unfolds.


Report for September 2004

Unit Value is $11.652
Annualized Internal Rate of Return (IRR): -1.5% YTD and 5.37% since Nov. 2000
Summary Report | PERT  | Trend Report  | Offense Report  | Defense Report

At the end of September, the Moose Pond Investors portfolio had the following weighted averages: projected total return of 21.0%, projected average return (PAR) of 16.1%, upside / downside ratio of 4.6 to 1 and a relative value of 92.2. These are all very good averages. The portfolio is nearly fully invested in stocks with 5.2% of assets in cash.

In September, we purchased additional shares of Intel and Pfizer. The big price movers in our portfolio this month were Fannie Mae (-14.8%) and Capital One Financial (+9.1%) and Lowes (+9.4%). (But remember, it’s not price movement but stocks fundamentals that matter in the long term!)

Defense and offense alerts.*  Several of our stocks have fallen short of the sales growth targets for the trailing twelve months. These stocks include Capital One Financial (3.0% vs. 14%), Harley Davidson (7.1% vs. 12%), and Affiliated Computer Services (8.4% vs. 14%). Also, Brown & Brown is below our target projected average return (12.3% vs. 15%). Other stocks in the portfolio to watch closely are UTStarcom and Fannie Mae.

* A defense alert means that a stock’s current sales or earnings growth has fallen below the growth rates that were projected for that stock. We look at changes in growth rates for the both current quarter and the trailing twelve months. In both cases, we compare current sales and earnings with the corresponding period on year earlier. An offense alert means that a stock’s projected average return has fallen below our desired return for that stock.


Intel Corporation

From Value Line (07-16-2004): Intel shares have fallen quite sharply in trading today following uninspiring news related to the chip behemoth’s second-quarter results. Although sales just north of $8 billion and share net of $0.27 were both roughly in line with expectations, the company’s outlook for the remainder of this year is not quite so favorable. More precisely, management now expects the gross margin to be 60% plus or minus a couple of percentage points, compared with prior guidance of 62%. This primarily reflects increased revenue of lower-margined products such as flash memory chips, chipsets, and motherboards. What’s more, a slight reduction in average selling prices of microprocessors and a slower-than-anticipated reduction in manufacturing costs per unit will also likely hinder profits. As a result of the recent news, we have lowered our 2004 share-net target, from $1.25 to $1.20. Intel shares remain ranked 3 (Average) for Timeliness.
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Brown and Brown

From the August IAS: Brown & Brown’s second quarter results indicate continued execution of its growth strategy. Total earnings and revenue each increased 15%, including 5% internal revenue growth with the balance coming from acquisitions. EPS expanded 12%. The company also raised $200 million in the debt market at fixed coupon rates of 5.7-6%, which management refers to as “dry powder” for future acquisitions. Going forward, the company is expecting lower internal growth, as the improving economy will fail to compensate for nationwide price declines in the commercial property insurance industry. With internal growth slowing, Brown’s success becomes more dependent on its proven ability to acquire and integrate good companies. BRO (44.75) is a buy up to 39.
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