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A few years back, a guy named Gutenberg totally rocked the printing industry with an innovation that put countless scribes on the unemployment line -- "Will write letters for food" signs were everywhere.
Today, InnerWorkings (Nasdaq: INWK ) threatens a similar fundamental alteration to the printing business, although there's hope that today's anachronistic printing experts will be reassigned to other roles within their organizations. In short, InnerWorkings wants to serve as your printing department (that is, if you happen to be a Fortune 1000 company). The company manages a supplier network of more than 8,000 printers to handle a business's promotional and marketing pieces.
"Very few companies are really skilled at payroll, so instead of devoting a department to it, they outsource to ADP or Paychex," says Fool analyst Andy Louis-Charles, who has moved InnerWorkings to the top of his watchlist. "It's the same with InnerWorkings." As Andy points out, InnerWorkings "can get all the printing done at a higher quality and a lower cost than most in-house printing departments because that's not what most Fortune 1000 companies are focused on. InnerWorkings focuses on it and does it well."
Andy has a growing interest in the printing business, seeing that this decaying industry is more than ready for a change. He made VistaPrint (Nasdaq: VPRT ) a recommendation last August (and it's up almost 58% since then), and he sees the same dynamic at play today with InnerWorkings.
"This seems to be a very smart company," Andy says. "I talked with CEO Eric Belcher and I got the sense he is very committed to the printing industry and very eager to develop the better mousetrap. I think they're doing that."
Andy's especially encouraged by the company's expansion into South America, the first step in a play designed not to take over the world, but to meet the needs of its domestic clients that are operating on a global scale.
Big shoes to fill
In exactly the same way only entirely different, Andy is very enthusiastic about the shoemaker Skechers (NYSE: SKX ) .
"Yes, they might have had a misstep with the Shape-ups brand," says Andy, and it's hard to tell with him if the pun was intended or not, "but people tend to forget that there's a very solid company that just happens to be the second-largest footwear brand in the United States after Nike."
While the Kardashian-supported footwear piles up in Skechers' warehouses and the company pours money into advertising to move them out, Andy's more interested in the financials, and that's why he's added Skechers to his watchlist.
"In a market that's climbing like today's and everything is looking a little pricey, it's hard to ignore a great brand and a solid company that's so ridiculously cheap," says Andy, while sporting a pair of Skechers himself. "If the company ditches Shape-ups and becomes the Levis of shoes -- ubiquitous, reliable, affordable, if not particularly fashionable -- that's a huge win. If they get something out of the Shape-up line, that's the tassels on the wingtips ... or something like that."
Click on the company names to add InnerWorkings or Skechers to your watchlist (or start a new watchlist with them on it) and you'll get not only a free and valuable hub for all the news and numbers on the companies you care about, but also immediate access to the new report "Six Stocks to Watch from David and Tom Gardner." It's all free! Click here to get started now.