When looking for promising candidates for your stock portfolio, it's easy to just think about the prominent names of the day, such as Facebook, Ford, or Bank of America. But there are plenty of other possibilities, many of which have been under our nose for quite some time.
Permit me to introduce you to Union Pacific (NYSE: UNP ) , for example. Here are a bunch of interesting things about the company and its stock.The basics: The company traces its roots�back well before the Civil War, to 1848 and the completion of the first 10 miles of the Galena and Chicago Union Railroad. In 1862, President Lincoln signed the Pacific Railroad Act, authorizing the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroad companies to build a transcontinental railroad. Union Pacific's first rail was laid in Omaha in 1865.
� Today, Union Pacific is one of America's top railroad companies, with roughly 32,000 miles covering 23 states in the Western two-thirds of the country. As of the end of 2012, it employed 45,700 workers and sported 8,400 locomotives.
� Like other railroad companies, Union Pacific has been challenged by weakness in the coal market, but less so than its Eastern rivals CSX (NYSE: CSX ) and Norfolk Southern (NYSE: NSC ) . Union Pacific has been performing well in part by raising prices and expanding other businesses, such as transporting oil.
� Union Pacific and holders of Union Pacific stock do face some risks, though, such as the fact that Berkshire Hathaway's Burlington Northern Santa Fe�Railway is looking into powering its trains with natural gas, which could help it compete better on price and put pressure on its competition.
� Union Pacific stock is up about 54% over the past year, and it has averaged annual gains of 20.5% over the past decade and 12.6% over the past 30 years. Clearly, Union Pacific stock has been good to its shareholders.
� Holders of Union Pacific stock enjoy a dividend yield recently around 1.7%, with the dividend having been raised 15% last year and averaging an annual gain of about 26% over the past five years. The payout ratio is low, too, with Union Pacific paying out only about a third of its earnings, leaving plenty of room for further growth.
� A peek at some of the characteristics of Union Pacific stock via the company's financial statements offers reasons to smile, with measures such as net profit margins and return on invested capital rising steadily in recent years and free cash flow more than doubling over the past five years to $2.3 billion.
� The valuation of Union Pacific stock looks un-bargain-like, with a recent P/E ratio near 19, but its forward P/E ratio is around 14.6.
Demand for railroad services isn't likely to flag anytime soon, especially as rail transport is far more cost-effective than trucking. (Trains can transport a ton of cargo more than 400 miles on a single gallon of fuel.) Union Pacific stock is worth considering if you're looking for a solid long-term performer as well as dividend income. You might want to buy some now -- or add it your watch list, and hope that the price drops some, offering an entry point with greater margin of safety.
Top Performing Companies To Invest In Right Now: China Merchants Hldgs(PACIFIC)
China Merchants Holdings (Pacific) Limited, an investment holding company, engages in the property development, and toll roads operation and management businesses. It develops land and residential house buildings; and provides mortgage financing services for the purchase of residential houses. The company also manages and operates toll roads, including Yongtaiwen Expressway located in Zhejiang province; Guiliu Expressway in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region; Guihuang Highway located in Guizhou province; Yuyao Highway located in Zhejiang province; and Ningbo Beilun Port Expressway in Zhejiang province, the People�s Republic of China. It has operations in the People�s Republic of China, New Zealand, and Singapore. The company was incorporated in 1981 and is headquartered in Singapore. China Merchants Holdings (Pacific) Limited is a subsidiary of China Merchants Holdings (International) Company Limited.
Top Performing Companies To Invest In Right Now: Ultralife Corporation(ULBI)
Ultralife Corporation offers products and services ranging from portable and standby power solutions to communications and electronics systems. It operates through three segments: Battery & Energy Products; Communications Systems; and Energy Services. The Battery & Energy Products segment offers lithium 9-volt, cylindrical, and various other non-rechargeable batteries; and rechargeable batteries, uninterruptable power supplies, and accessories, such as cables. The Communications Systems segment provides power supplies, cable and connector assemblies, RF amplifiers, amplified speakers, equipment mounts, case equipment, integrated communication system kits, charging systems, and communications and electronics systems design. The Energy Services segment engages in the design, manufacture, installation, and maintenance of standby power and systems. The company offers its products under Ultralife Batteries, McDowell Research, RedBlack Communications, AMTI, Stationary Power Serv ices, U.S. Energy Systems, RPS Power Systems, and ABLE brands. It serves government, defense, and commercial customers internationally. Ultralife Corporation sells its products through original equipment manufacturers, industrial and retail distributors, and national retailers, as well as directly to U.S. and international defense departments. The company was formerly known as Ultralife Batteries, Inc. and changed its name to Ultralife Corporation in June 2008. Ultralife Corporation was founded in 1990 and is headquartered in Newark, New York.
Best Tech Companies To Own In Right Now: American Software Inc (AMSWA.O)
American Software, Inc. (American Software), incorporated in 1970, develops, markets and supports a portfolio of software and services that delivers enterprise management and collaborative supply chain solutions to the global marketplace. American Software operates three business segments: Supply Chain Management (SCM), Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Information Technology (IT) Consulting. The SCM segment consists of Logility, Inc. (Logility), which provides collaborative supply chain solutions for forecasting, production, distribution and management of products between trading partners. The ERP segment consists of American Software ERP, which provides purchasing and materials management, customer order processing, financial, e-commerce, flow manufacturing and manufacturing solutions, and New Generation Computing (NGC), which provides business software to both retailers and manufacturers in the apparel, sewn products and furniture industries. The IT Consulting s egment consists of The Proven Method, Inc., an IT staffing and consulting services firm. The Company also provides support for its software products, such as software enhancements, documentation, updates, customer education, consulting, systems integration services, and maintenance.
Supply Chain Management
The Company�� wholly owned subsidiary Logility provides SCM solutions, an integrated set of supply chain planning, inventory optimization, manufacturing, and transportation and logistics solutions. Logility provides SCM solutions to streamline and optimize the market planning, management, production, and distribution of products for manufacturers, suppliers, distributors, and retailers. As of April 30, 2011, Logility�� customer base is approximately 1,250 companies located in more than 74 countries. Logility markets and sells the Demand Solutions product line to the global small and midsize enterprise (SME) market through the global VAR distri bution network of Demand Management, Inc. (DMI). Logility ! al! so offers the Logility Voyager Solutions suite.
Logility Voyager Solutions is an integrated software suite that provides SCM, including collaborative planning, strategic network design, multi-echelon inventory optimization, optimized supply sourcing, production management, warehouse management, and collaborative logistics capabilities. Logility Voyager Solutions incorporates performance management analytics for decision support for processes, such as demand management, inventory and supply optimization, manufacturing planning and scheduling, transportation planning and management and sales and operations planning (S&OP).
The Logility Voyager Solutions software suite is modular and scalable to meet the management requirements of global organizations involving products with manufacturing or distribution networks. In addition, the Logility Voyager Solutions suite interfaces with a range of existing enterprise applications deployed on a range of technic al platforms. Logility Voyager Solutions accelerates S&OP, as well as strategic partner collaboration. Voyager Sales and Operations Planning enables companies to streamline and accelerate the entire S&OP process. Voyager Collaborate enables companies to communicate across their organizations and share supply chain information with external trading partners.
Voyager Fashion Forecasting helps improve profits with capabilities that address the collection launches for fashion-driven businesses. Voyager Demand Planning helps reconcile differences between business planning and detailed product forecasting. Voyager Life Cycle Planning provides control to model each phase in a product�� sunrise-to-sunset lifecycle, including introduction, maturity, replacement, substitution and retirement. Voyager Event Planning integrates marketing strategies with forecasting, distribution and logistics planning to calculate the impact of promotional plans and demand shaping strategi es, such as price discounts, coupons, advertising, spe! cial p! a! ckaging ! and product placement.
Logility Voyager Solutions enables enterprises to set inventory targets at each node of a multi-echelon distribution network to match strategic inventory goals and service levels. Voyager Inventory Optimization optimizes inventory investments across multi-echelon manufacturing and distribution networks to meet business and service level objectives for supply chains with multiple stages of inventory. Logility Voyager Inventory Planning allows enterprises to measure the tradeoff of inventory investment and desired customer service levels.
Logility Voyager Solutions optimizes material, inventory, production and distribution assets by synchronizing supply and demand. Voyager Supply Planning optimizes sourcing and production decisions to balance supply, manufacturing and distribution constraints based on corporate goals. Voyager Replenishment Planning provides visibility of future customer demand, corresponding product and materia l requirements, and the actions needed to satisfy those demands. Voyager Manufacturing Planning creates optimized constraint-based manufacturing schedules and compares multiple schedule scenarios to determine the optimal trade-off between manufacturing efficiencies, inventory investments and greenhouse gas emissions.
Logility Voyager Solutions provides capabilities for optimizing both warehouse and transportation operations. Voyager WarehousePRO provides shipping and inventory accuracy by optimizing the flow of materials and information through distribution centers. Voyager Transportation Planning and Management provide a multi-modal solution for savings of time, effort and money. It enables automated shipment planning, shipment execution and freight accounting. Demand Solution�� supply chain software provides a transition from spreadsheet management to robust reporting and tracking. Demand Solutions offers two separate product suites: traditional and DSX. The Demand Solutions application suite predict futur! e demand ! an! d make in! formed decisions to optimize inventory turns, customer service levels and profitability. Demand Solutions Forecast Management provides a demand planning solution that fits virtually any industry and deploys. Demand Solutions Requirements Planning incorporates collaborative planning capabilities to streamline supply activities from the production line through delivery.
Demand Solutions Collaboration offers a certified collaborative planning, forecasting and replenishment (CPFR) compliant collaborative planning solution that streamlines communications between a company and its customers and suppliers. Demand Solutions Sales & Operations Planning automates and continually analyzes the annual business planning process. Demand Solutions Advanced Planning and Scheduling is a production scheduling solution that supports both the process and discrete enterprise environment and produces accurate schedules taking into account machines, personnel, tooling and inventory co nstraints. Demand Solutions View (DS View) extends the value of Demand Solutions, empowering users to aggregate, rotate, filter, sort and otherwise manipulate large volumes of data into meaningful information. Demand Solutions Retail Planning enables manufacturers, distributors and retailers to collaboratively produce, ship and replenish product based on point-of-sale (POS) data.
Enterprise Resource Planning
The Company�� enterprise solutions are global solutions that link critical functions throughout an enterprise. The e-Intelliprise solution is a Web-based ERP system that a customer can run over the Internet, Intranet or Extranet utilizing the IBM iSeries servers. This allows functions within the ERP system to be deployed over the Internet using a Webpage capability. The e-Intelliprise solution is a global system, capable of operating in multiple languages and logistical organizations. Its e-applications are solutions for conducting business on the Internet that can Web-enable specific b! usiness f! unction! s through! integration with existing ERP or legacy systems. The e-applications are available for the applications, which include e-procurement, e-store, e-expenses, e-forms, e-payables, e-receivables, Purchase Order Tracking and Vendor Collaboration, Requisition Tracking, Shipment Tracking, e-process management and e-connect a seamless, XML-enabled data exchange.
The Company�� product line consists of software and services that operate on three strategic computer platforms, which includes IBM System z Mainframe or compatible, IBM System i (AS/400), and Intel-based servers and clients that operate Windows 2000, 2003, XP and Vista. It has written its products in various standard programming languages used for business application software, including ANSI COBOL, Micro Focus COBOL, C, C++, Visual Basic, JAVA, JAVA2 and other programming languages. Many have both on-line and batch capabilities.
The Proven Method, Inc., the Company�� wholly owned subsidiary, is a technology services firm that specializes in assisting customer base to solve business issues with technology solutions. The solutions the Company provides ranges from Web applications to complex Business Intelligence applications and solutions. Business Intelligence consists of the development and implementation of a reporting process for dealing with data and multiple business entities/components. Its customers are Internet savvy and knowledgeable in wireless solutions, social networking and channeling implementations, server and desktop virtualization, and deployment of interactive applications. The Proven Method has customers, such as Aon, IBM, UPS, Norfolk Southern, Xerox, SunTrust Bank, Coca-Cola Enterprises, Kubota Manufacturing of North America, The Home Depot, AT&T, State of Georgia, CompuCom, Zep Inc, Chick-fil-A, Global Payments, Verizon, Catlin Group Ltd, Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta, Fulton Paper, Aaron Rents, AutoTrader.com, Nalco Chemical, Georgia Tech Research Ins! titute an! d numerous! other cu! stomers throughout the United States.
The Company competes with SAP, Oracle, Infor, JDA Software and Red Prairie.
Top Performing Companies To Invest In Right Now: Brownstone Ventures Inc (BWN.V)
Brownstone Ventures, Inc. is a principal investment firm specializing in direct investments in energy sector. The firm seeks to invest in oil & gas exploration projects, oil & gas lands and investments in energy-focused issuers across the whole world. Brownstone Ventures, Inc was founded in 1987 and is based in Toronto, Canada with an additional office at Alberta, Canada.
Top Performing Companies To Invest In Right Now: Gastar Exploration Ltd (GST)Gastar Exploration Ltd (Gastar) is an independent energy company engaged in the exploration, development and production of natural gas and oil in the United States. The Company�� principal business activities include the identification, acquisition, and subsequent exploration and development of natural gas and oil properties with an emphasis on unconventional reserves, such as shale resource plays. As of December 31, 2011, it is pursuing the development of liquids-rich natural gas in the Marcellus Shale in the Appalachia area of West Virginia and, to a lesser extent, central and southwestern Pennsylvania. The Company also holds prospective acreage in the deep Bossier play in the Hilltop area of East Texas and conduct limited coal bed methane (CBM) development activities within the Powder River Basin of Wyoming and Montana. The Company is a holding company. Advisors' Opinion:
- [By David Smith]
Earlier, the company had pocketed $75.2 million by selling to Gastar Exploration (NYSEMKT: GST ) leasehold acreage in Oklahoma's Kingfisher and Canadian counties. It'll obviously require a passel of sales of that magnitude to shore up an overweight balance sheet.
- [By Josh Young]
The parallel to Goodrich in the transaction is Gastar Exploration (GST), which has approximately 100,000 net acres in the Hunton (excluding additional exposure from the WEHLU deal). Gastar, similar to Goodrich prior to the Sanchez TMS deal, seems to trade at a discount to a $2,000 per acre implied value for its unconventional oil acreage. In fact, Gastar's CEO recently said he thought the current liquidation value of Gastar's Marcellus assets would be $4-7 per share, net of debt, versus the current $4.25 share price.
- [By Heather Ingrassia]
Gastar Agreement: On April 1st it was announced that Gastar Exploration, Ltd. (GST) had entered into a definitive agreement to acquire proven reserves and undeveloped leasehold interests in Kingfisher and Canadian counties of Oklahoma from Chesapeake Energy Corporation, repurchase Chesapeake's common shares of the Company and settle all litigation for $1 million. Although smaller in scope than most of Chesapeake's previous asset-shedding transactions, the agreement with Gastar accomplishes two things. First, is the fact the settlement resolves the legal wrangling both companies were engaged in and as a result Chesapeake walks away with $85 million of the potential $130 million they were suing for. Second, is the fact Chesapeake wipes it hands of acreage, that although producing, may not be producing as much as Chesapeake had once hoped, and therefore was worth much more to Gastar in the long run.