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Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke doesn't exactly have a way of exciting the markets, but that didn't seem to matter to the dozens of companies that hit new highs this week. For optimists, 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 have actually earned their current valuations.
Keep in mind that some companies deserve their lofty valuations. Shares of dollar stores are thriving as they take advantage of consumers' penny-pinching ways following the lengthy recession. Dollar Tree (Nasdaq: DLTR ) and Dollar General (NYSE: DG ) are two such names that are within grasp of a new 52-week high -- and deservedly so.
Still, some companies might deserve a kick in the pants. Here's a look at three companies that could be worth selling.
The roof, the roof is on fire
The housing market is a mess. Home prices have once again begun spiraling downward, and a glut of foreclosed homes sits on the market unsold, leaving little room for new housing. Despite this, shares of Beacon Roofing Supply (Nasdaq: BECN ) clawed their way to a new 52-week high. But now might be the time for shareholders to step away from this hot play.
Beacon's role in Canada's more stable housing market undoubtedly has played a role in boosting its stock, but U.S. housing market forecasts remain bleak. Whether the housing market double dips, I think it may be a bit premature to make a bullish call on suppliers to the homebuilding sector. Beacon has resoundingly missed consensus EPS estimates in three of the past four quarters. In its most recent quarterly report, the company noted a decrease in residential sales coupled with a jump in operating costs. These are potential red flags that current shareholders should be wary of.
Beware the sugar crash
Investors in Hansen Natural (Nasdaq: HANS ) are as wired as the drink maker's customers. The makers of the Monster brand of energy drinks are surging to all-time highs this week, continuing a precipitous uptrend that began last July. But what are investors really swallowing?
It's not that Hansen Natural isn't delivering impressive growth, because five-year projections call for annual growth of 14.6%. The real worry is from a valuation perspective relative to its peers. There's no question that Hansen is going to grow more rapidly than PepsiCo (NYSE: PEP ) and Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO ) , but with Hansen trading at 7.8 times its book value and 23 times forward earnings, it may be time to switch to a more mainstream name.
Also consider that Coke and Pepsi pay out dividend yields close to 3%, while Hansen pays no dividend to shareholders, and you can see why this drink may go sour with shareholders sooner rather than later.
Don't yield to high yields
Not to completely pick on the housing sector again, but what are shareholders thinking by pumping Capstead Mortgage (NYSE: CMO ) to a 52-week high? Capstead operates as a real estate investment trust, so it does return the majority of its earnings to shareholders in the form of a dividend, but have investors really looked at the company's growth projections recently? I have, and it's not pretty.
After enjoying big spreads in interest rates, estimates for future growth for mortgage REITs are coming down. In fact, Capstead has a negative projected growth rate for the next five years. That means you should expect that attractive 13% yield to fall in the coming years. You have to pick and choose wisely with REITs, and this may be one to pass on.
This week was not just about picking on the housing sector, but was aimed at examining just how fragile consumer spending habits are. Consumers are still very gun-shy about spending for big and small purchases, so investors need to adjust their trading strategies accordingly.
What's your take on these companies? Are they sells or belles? Share your genius with the community in the comments section below and consider adding Beacon Roofing Supply, Hansen Natural, and Capstead Mortgage to your watchlist to keep up on the latest news in these stocks' respective sectors.