Unloved Uranium is About to Get Much More Attractive
Pity poor uranium — there is perhaps no more unloved segment of the energy market right now.
Not only is it a commodity, but nuclear power has a stigma attached to it, thanks to the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear mishap in Japan.
Uranium has brought both joy and tears to investors over the past decade. After a 20-year bear market, the price of uranium (U308), bottomed in 2001 at $8 per pound. It then skyrocketed to over $100 a pound, only to fall back again.
Most recently, it peaked at $72 a pound in January 2011. The Fukushima earthquake and tsunami disaster a few months later put a pall over the industry and prices, resulting in the current price of $40.70 a pound.
Yet despite some countries slowing down their plans for nuclear power expansion and the negative mood hanging over the sector, uranium looks to be poised for a rebound in the not-too-distant future.
Why? Well, for one thing, the United Nations' nuclear agency – the International Atomic Energy Agency – said "The Fukushima Daiichi accident is expected to slow or delay the growth of nuclear power, but not reverse it."
The IAEA forecast impressive growth of somewhere between 23% and 100% in nuclear power capacity by 2030.
Why Not All REITs are the Best Investments for Yield
In a yield-starved world investors have turned to real estate investment trusts (REITs) as some of the best investments for income.
REITs are structured so that they have to pay out the majority of their income to shareholders in order to retain their favorable tax status. Most of them yield far more than Treasury or corporate bonds so they have attracted attention and dollars over the past few years.
It is not just individual investors who are searching for yield. Large pension and investment funds can no longer meet their required rates of return by investing in traditional fixed income investment. They too have turned to REITs to make up the income shortfall.
However, when these large investors begin to direct billions of dollars towards the sector they are not very selective. Much of the money that flows into REIT funds and exchange-traded instruments is only concerned with gaining exposure to the real estate markets and gaining a yield advantage. This type of buying has helped the price of many of the larger more liquid REITs double and even triple over the past few years. They now trade at substantial premiums to their underlying asset value and earnings power.
The problem facing investors now is that the dollars have flowed into the securities for several years now and pushed prices to what may be unsustainable levels.
Any real estate investor can tell you that buying commercial or residential property in excess of its real value is a recipe for disaster especially if you use leverage.
A recent article in The Wall Street Journal's "Heard on the Street" column shows there is another developing threat to REIT prices.
According to the article, Japanese investors have been piling into U.S. REITs to take advantage of the extreme yield differentials as that country is using low rates to attempt to stimulate the economy.
In addition to the dividends, however, the Japanese funds are also paying out appreciation, including unrealized gains. If the growth in REIT share prices begins to moderate, these funds will have to start selling shares to maintain their payouts and this could pressure prices as they own billions of U.S. REIT securities.
Is Apple's "Next Big Thing" Vaporware?
In Silicon Valley, there's a term for products that a company makes bold statements about and always seem on the cusp of launching but never quite materialize – vaporware.
And believe me, over the decades there have been more vaporware companies than real ones.
What's more, it's not uncommon for once-respected names to become vaporware makers over time.
One of the big questions now is, with the death of visionary Steve Jobs, the growing Android base, and the next generation in smartphones, is the "Next Big Thing" for Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) nothing more than vaporware?
For investors slammed by the stock's 39% decline from its 2012 high, the question is hardly rhetorical.
Today, I'm going to explore what's in store for the whales of the tech space and tell you where I stand on whether their visions will be actualized or vaporized.
Why These Are Among the Best Stocks to Buy Now
One of the most successful long-term strategies when hunting for the best stocks to buy is contrarian investing.
It's a rather simple strategy: buy something when it is out of favor and everyone else is selling, which leads to bargain prices. Then wait for sentiment to turn, sell and pocket your profit.
Many contrarian investors are taking a long, hard look at one particular sector: gold miners. This is a sector that has not only been battered by falling prices for the gold they mine hurting profitability, but also a sector plagued by poor management at many companies.
But a closer look shows why some of these miners are among the best stocks to buy now when prices are low and potential is soaring.
What You Absolutely Need to Know About Money (Part 8)
It all starts with the Arab oil embargo of 1973-74.
The Arab members of OPEC proclaimed an oil embargo to punish the U.S. for aiding Israel. This action quadrupled the price of oil, roiling commodity markets, equities, bonds, and foreign exchange markets.
Energy prices soared. Speculation in oil exploration and production became feverish.
There was money everywhere.
Oil exporters in the Arab states were depositing their windfall "petrodollars" into big U.S. banks, who were in turn lending the money out as fast as they could.
By far, the largest recipients of the flood of money looking to be lent out were Latin American and South American countries. Thus, the new tens of billions of dollars banks had to lend were showered on sovereign states with glaring credit quality blemishes.
In the meantime, banks were lending hand over fist to the energy patch. Small banks were getting into the oil lending game, too – sometimes in spectacular ways.
By 1982, tiny Penn Square Bank, located in the Penn Square Mall in Oklahoma City, Okla., had made over $1 billion dollars of energy loans and resold them to money-center bank Continental Illinois National Bank and Trust Company of Chicago.
The loans went bad, quickly.
If this Works, Facebook Stock Could be the "Buy of the Decade"
Facebook stock is one of the most controversial stocks in existence today.
With one billion users, investors have been waiting to see if Facebook's business model can pay off, especially after its IPO tanked.
Today, Money Morning's own e-commerce director, Bret Holmes, is going to give you the inside scoop on Facebook stock. Not some theoretical financial analysis, but what the future looks like for Facebook, from a guy who understands e-commerce and can explain how Facebook stock could be the "buy of the decade" for investors.
Stocks to Buy: These Returns Nearly Tripled the S&P 500's
Barron's recently published its annual list of the 500 top U.S. and Canadian companies based on sales growth, cash flow, and return on investment, delivering juicy choices for investors on the hunt for stocks to buy.
Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) took the top spot, with Wesco International (NYSE: WCC) snagging second. Western Digital Corp (Nasdaq: WDC) grabbed No. 3. and DaVita HealthCare Partners Inc. (NYSE: DVA) was No. 4. C.H. Robinson Worldwide Inc. (Nasdaq: CHRW) rounded out the top five.
Landing a spot on the coveted roster is indeed an accomplishment. But it hasn't always been a reliable judge of how a company's shares will perform in the future.
So, for the second consecutive year, Barron's teamed with financial data and software company FactSet Research Systems Inc. to find the cheapest stocks among its 500 list. FactSet used price/earnings ratios based on earnings estimates for each company's current fiscal year.
Last year's "cheap" list of 30, tracked for a year, averaged a 42% return over the period ended April 26. That's nearly triple the 15.6% gain over the same period for the Standard & Poor's 500 Index.
This year's bargains are a mixed lot. Here's a closer look at the lowest priced stocks to buy among the Barron's 500.
Where to Invest as Central Banks Make this Unusual Move
You already know central banks have been boosting markets through loose monetary policies the past few years.
Now it looks like they'll move markets in another way – by pouring record amounts of money into buying equities.
The stunning revelation comes in a survey by Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc (NYSE ADR: RBS) and CentralBanking.com. The survey reveals that 23% of the 60 central bank respondents are buying stocks or plan to do so in the next five years.
In fact, this marked the first time in the survey's nine-year history central bankers were asked whether they bought or planned to buy stocks.
While it's not the first time central banks have ever bought equities, it is the most aggressive purchasing they've done.
"This time around, they're not just throwing in the kitchen sink; they're throwing in the garage, a couch, the guitar, the dog, anything they can get their hands on," said Money Morning Chief Investment Strategist Keith Fitz-Gerald.
Don't Let Stocks Like These Tempt You
When I'm investing, I like to have a good idea of the economic value produced by the companies I invest in.
Not because I'm a great fan of "social investing" — I'll happily buy tobacco company shares if the yield's good enough and the consumption trend is solid — but because there are a lot of dangerous stocks out there that are simply tricks of the market.
Sometimes short-term factors make a company very profitable for a while and then suddenly disappear. Those are the companies – and sectors — where investing is dangerous.
And that's what I'm going to tell you about today.
The Best Sector to Invest in Now
I try to keep a balanced portfolio, or at least one that isn't entirely concentrated in one sector.
I like a lot of international holdings, especially from East Asia (but not particularly China itself) and I try to have at least some representation even in sectors that bore me utterly, like consumer packaged goods – Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG). I know you've increased your dividend every year since 1954, which is a magnificent achievement, but I STILL can't get excited about your business!
Some market sectors I have difficulty warming up to. Tech, for example, I find very difficult to analyze. If a company has the latest whizz-bang, I can't tell how the market will receive it. I can't tell how long market enthusiasm for it will last, and I can't tell how quickly competitors will produce something that's just a little bit better.
Even an Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) that appears to have an invulnerable position can very easily be undone by margin erosion. Apple's margins are unsustainable in a competitive environment; it has a business in which Foxconn, the manufacturer, makes very little money while Apple, the retailer, makes heaps of it. For me, instead of trading at a premium to the market because of its growth, tech should trade at a discount to the market because of its risks.