Apparently, even oil cresting $100 a barrel isn't enough to keep this market from surging higher. For bulls, these rallies may seem like a dream come true. For skeptics like me, they're opportunities to see whether companies trading near their 52-week highs really deserve their current valuations.
Keep in mind that some companies deserve their lofty prices. Applied Materials (Nasdaq: AMAT ) has been on a tear lately, thanks to renewed bullishness in spending on semiconductor equipment. Intel (Nasdaq: INTC ) announced in January that it anticipates spending $9 billion on capital expenditures this year, a marked jump over the $5.2 billion it spent last year, and is a big catalyst behind Applied Materials' move. But some companies potentially deserve a kick in the pants. Here's a look at three companies that could be worth selling.
Mmmmm, bear claw
Undoubtedly, the Stock Advisor team wouldn't agree with me, but I don't see how Panera Bread (Nasdaq: PNRA ) can get through the next two years without feeling a commodity margin pinch. The company thus far has been able to pass along rising wheat and coffee prices to consumers. But as prices at the pump continue to soar, I have to feel that as a premium restaurant, consumers may bypass their trips to Panera in favor of a stay-at-home meal.
Panera has consistently performed well up to this point, but with input costs rising and the stock already valued at nearly six times book value, investors may be wise to wait for a significant pullback before taking another bite.
A Stern warning
I can honestly say I'm not a huge fan of large, diversified media companies, but putting my biases aside, three of Liberty Capital's (Nasdaq: LCAPA ) investments have me thinking "sell."
First, Liberty holds a 40% stake in the highly indebted Sirius XM (Nasdaq: SIRI ) which I've highlighted before as a serious debt concern. Second, Liberty Capital increased its stake in Live Nation (NYSE: LYV ) despite the company's continued bearish view on overall ticket sales and fewer concert tours in the near future. Finally, I question Liberty's own decision to buy back its stock, rather than work on paying down its $2 billion in allocated debt outstanding. Decisions like these could have shareholders scratching their heads.
Christmas in March
If I didn't know any better, I'd say it was Christmastime for shareholders of KV Pharmaceuticals (NYSE: KV-A ) . KV received approval for Makena last month. The drug, developed in partnership with Hologix, is designed to reduce premature births in women who've had past problems. Its stock has risen more than 500% since then. KV has taken advantage of the drug's approval to sell new shares in a private placement, and it now plans to raise $200 million in private debt financing.
Bringing a drug to market doesn't happen overnight. It takes time, money and a skilled sales team. Investors should be cautious about buying into a company that has risen nearly vertically for a month now.
What's your take on these stocks? Do they have room to run higher or are they near a peak? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
To track my calls, add Applied Materials, Intel, Panera Bread, Liberty Capital, Sirius XM, Live Nation, KV Pharmaceuticals, or Hologix to My Watchlist.