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  Tuesday, 24 Jun 2008 | 12:49 PM ET

Five-Star Focus: Hennessy's Stock Picks

Posted By: Andrew Fisher

Tin cans, offshore oil rigs, and industrial gases all come together in Neil Hennessy's portfolio.

His five-star Hennessy Focus 30 Fund is up 13 percent, and we're not talking the last five years, or the last three years, we're talking this year.

"What we try to buy growth at reasonable prices," he told CNBC. "We're not going to pay more than $1.50 for $1.00 in sales."

He also searches out companies with earnings growth and positive relative strengths.

So who looks good to him now?

(Scroll down for his Web Extra pick)

W.R. Grace tops his list.

"People think of it as a construction company, but it's much, much more than that," he said. "For instance, one of the products they make are sealants for cans...last year, they sealed over 340 billion cans...if people think the economy is going to be slowing down, they're going to be buying more canned products."

Hennessy also likes Oil States.

"They're in the offshore business," he said. "At some point in time, Congress is going to wake up and say, 'We have to drill in our own back yard'...I think this company is poised well for future growth."

Web Extra:

He offered a bonus pick for, Airgas.

The firm makes industrial gases for both the health care and industrial sectors, including "dry ice" for the transportation of food. Its price-to-sales ratio is less than 1.5.

»Read more
  Tuesday, 24 Jun 2008 | 10:50 AM ET

Portfolio for a Weak Economy

Posted By: Andrew Fisher

Charlie Smith sees long-term opportunities for investors in U.S. companies -- but for the time being, he says, it may be best to keep your distance.

"The further you are from the American consumer, the better you're going to be," the chief investment officer of Fort Pitt Capital told CNBC.


"If the economy's going to continue to remain weak, I think the telecom group has room," he said. "AT&T and Verizon have been weak the last 30 days, on the assumption that cell phone penetration has peaked; I'm not sure that's true."

He also sees some daylight ahead for industrial manufacturers of capital goods that sell overseas.

"We like names like ITT and Ingersoll-Rand that sell refrigeration gear," he said.

  • Learn more: Watch the entire interview (4 mins, 17 secs)


Disclosure information for Smith was not immediately available.


»Read more
  Tuesday, 24 Jun 2008 | 8:36 AM ET

Video: China Markets ... 10 Stocks to Sell Now

Erwin Sanft, executive director, head of China & Hong Kong research at BNP Paribas Securities is underweight on the China markets.

»Read more
  Tuesday, 24 Jun 2008 | 6:52 AM ET

Emerging-Market Picks for Tough Times

Posted By:

As growth in Western economies slows, investors searching for attractive stocks should look to companies that sell to more resilient emerging markets, James Bevan, chief investment officer at CCLA Investment Management, told CNBC Europe Tuesday.

»Read more
  Monday, 23 Jun 2008 | 2:27 PM ET

Floods Dampen Rail Stocks' Surge

Posted By: Andrew Fisher

Devastated cornfields are not the only effect this year's Midwestern floods are likely to have on the markets. Longbow Research's Lee Klaskow says the railroads that operate through the region are feeling the effects -- in their physical plants as well as in the commodities they carry.

Still, he sees a positive side.

"This is actually a welcome pullback for the stocks," he told CNBC. "The stocks are still up 20 percent over the last 12 months, and roughly 25 percent year-to-date, but...the railroads still continue to get pricing, despite having negative volume."


So what would he buy at these valuations?

"Our favorite name right now is Burlington Northern Santa Fe," he said. "Despite the...near-term headwinds...we still like its revenue mix: It has what we view as a more defensive revenue mix, that is, exposure to coal, ag(riculture), and intermodal."

He also likes Norfolk Southern, whose physical plant is located outside the flood-ravaged area.

"Norfolk Southern is, for us, the only deep value that's left within the rail industry," he said. "Norfolk Southern is the largest in terms of market share in (automotive) shipping; it's roughly 10 percent of their revenue. Obviously, with their largest customers GM and Ford, their near-term prospects have been hit pretty hard, but the long-term story for them is still intact."

»Read more
  Monday, 23 Jun 2008 | 12:57 PM ET

Five-Star Picks: Glitches, Gold and Grub

Technology, mining and food. Those areas are where five-star fund manager Michael Cuggino finds some promising possibilities for investors.

His Permanent Portfolio is up 5.1 percent year-to-date, and up an average of 12.4 percent per year over the last three years.

(Scroll down for his Web Extra pick)

His first choice is computer security firm Symantec, which he believes has worked out the kinks from its acquisition of software maker Veritas.

"We've seen a couple quarters of solid execution," he told CNBC. "The operating metrics are getting better; they're looking at gross margin improvement; they've got a new suite of products coming out that should help the average selling prices going forward."

Cuggino also likes copper and gold mining company Freeport McMoRan, despite the volatility of commodities.

"I'm still a believer in the worldwide growth story," he said. "I think copper and many commodities are still in high demand...Freeport, specifically, is very geographically diversified, and they've done a good job of making more efficient their extraction business."

Web Extra:

As a bonus pick for, he recommends fertilizer producer Mosaic. He says the strong and increasing demand for food makes the stock a good long-term "hold" or "buy."

»Read more
  Monday, 23 Jun 2008 | 10:47 AM ET

Seeing Upside in Consumer Discretionary Stocks

Posted By: Andrew Fisher

After a brutal week for stocks, some of the professionals say it's time to go bargain-hunting.

Doug MacKay of Broadleaf Partners is one of them.

"Technology is due for some multiple expansion...and now is the time to start tiptoeing into the consumer discretionary sector," he told CNBC. "We've started to take a little bit more of a look at the financials...but I'm having a hard time pulling the trigger."

He's not ready to go with the homebuilders, so what's on his list?


"The retailers, the Harley Davidsons , the Nordstroms, they've pulled back," he said. "We're at a fulcrum in the markets...I think the consumer discretionary stocks will be some of the first to rally significantly off their lows."

»Read more
  Friday, 20 Jun 2008 | 3:41 PM ET

Small Cap Software: Cost-Efficient Buys

Posted By: Andrew Fisher

In an economic squeeze, efficiency and cost-savings are on the front burner, and Scott Billeadeau says that makes a couple of small-cap software names especially attractive.

Billeadeau is director of small and mid-cap growth strategies at Fifth Third Asset Management.

His Fifth Third Lifemodel Aggressive Fund is up an average of 9.8 percent per year over the last five years.

"Companies in a slow-growth environment that we're in, and probably will continue to be in for a while, need to look on how they can be more efficient," he said.


His first pick is Nuance Communications -- and ot might be a play on device-makers like Research in Motion.

"This is the leading provider of speech-to-text, text-to-speech, predictive text technology," he said. "They've finally got processing power up to snuff; pretty soon, people are going to be able to talk to their BlackBerrys, and that will transcribe their e-mail for them. ...Significant productivity savings and cost savings for...end markets."

Billeadeau also likes PROS Holdings.

"They're a price optimization technology," he said. "PROS is the clear leader there, and we're just inflection point for that business."

»Read more
  Friday, 20 Jun 2008 | 12:27 PM ET

Stocks To Buy Before U.S. 'Capitulation'

Posted By: Andrew Fisher

"Stay with the big-cap names that do a lot of business overseas, and wait for capitulation," says Church Capital Management founder and chief investment officer Gregory Church.

It's his simple formula, as more aftershocks rock the financial sector and indicator after indicator just points down.

"There's going to be an opportunity to buy this market, but we've got to go through a little bit more hell before we get there," he told CNBC.


So which names look good to him?

"You look at companies that do a decent business overseas, companies like Procter & Gamble, companies like Cisco, where there's overseas build-out," he said.

Church also likes some utility names.

"I particularly like one, Progress Energy, 5.7 percent yield, a safe place to hide," he said.

»Read more
  Friday, 20 Jun 2008 | 12:16 PM ET

Stock Picks: Child's Play

Posted By: Andrew Fisher

Jeffrey Frankel is taking a page from legendary investor Peter Lynch.

Lynch, who ran the Fidelity Magellan Fund for 13 years, making it into America's No. 1-ranked general-equity fund, once said, "Never invest in any idea you can't illustrate with a crayon."

And the president of Stuart Frankel was listening.

"Everyone tries to keep picking the bottoms in the financials, to try to say, 'Is it OK to get in?' and I'm just finding it too tough here," Frankel told CNBC.


"So I went back to the old Lynch theory," he said. "I asked my kids what they thought; we saw The Hulk last night, they said, 'Dad, go out and buy Marvel (Entertainment), go out and buy Disney, that's maybe a safer bet here."

(Yes, Marvel Entertainment is the force behind The Incredible Hulk, as well as blockbusters Iron Man and the Spider-Man franchise.)

  • Want more of Frankel's take on Lynch? Watch the interview (4 mins, 38 secs)


Disclosure information for Frankel and his company was not immediately available.


»Read more

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  • The CNBC Stock Blog is a cross-section of expert opinions and insights from our TV and Web site coverage. This blog includes posts written by and about top analysts and strategists, super-investors and CNBC's own market mavens. You'll find stock picks, news about publicly-traded companies, commodities, hot sectors, ETFs and the latest options action.