Why Geron, Penn Virginia, and FutureFuel Are Today's 3 Best Stocks

The S&P rockets higher once again as Geron, Penn Virginia, and FutureFuel rise by double-digits.

Mar 18, 2014 at 5:15PM

The broad-based S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) soared for a second-straight session after a slew of economic data met expectations and Russian President Vladimir Putin assured the rest of the world that he had no intentions of pressing even further into Ukraine.

Three key pieces of economic data helped fuel the S&P 500's rise, including two reports from the housing industry. In what was a nice departure from the negativity witnessed last month, housing starts for February came in at a seasonally adjusted 907,000, down a fractional 0.2% from January but pretty much in line with wide-ranging estimates. Following a rapid decline in January, this stabilization helped calm the market. In addition, building permits for February surged 7.7% to a seasonally adjusted rate of 1,018,000, signaling that the homebuilding sector is still seeing strong demand amid low inventory levels.

Finally, on the economic data front, the Consumer Price Index rose by 0.1% in February, which is just what economists predicted. Some level of inflation is good since prices naturally tend to rise in an expansionary economy; however, we also don't want prices going through the roof, which is not happening in this case.

Easing geopolitical tensions also helped push the market higher as Russia's leader moved to formally annex Crimea while vowing not to seek additional Ukrainian territory. Despite this reassurance, tension in this region is still so thick you could cut it with a knife, and sanctions imposed on Russia by the United States and European Union could curb growth in Russia and across the globe.

By day's end the S&P 500 had moved decisively higher by 13.42 points (0.72%) to close at 1,872.25, less than 1% away from a record high close.

Leading the charge to the upside with a 39.3% gain, despite a lack of company-specific news, was clinical-stage cancer-focused biopharmaceutical Geron (NASDAQ:GERN). Despite the gain, Geron still has a long way to go to make up for its 60% nosedive last week after the Food and Drug Administration verbally told the company that it was placing imetelstat on full clinical hold due to the occurrence of persistent low-grade liver function abnormalities in its phase 2 study for polycythemia vera. There are plenty of questions for investors and the FDA right now regarding whether these liver abnormalities are reversible, and if so how that might alter the marketing of imetelstat should it be approved. The experimental therapy certainly delivered exciting results in an investigator-sponsored myelofibrosis trial from the Mayo Clinic, but until we have better clarity on the FDA's decision on imetelstat, investors should probably steer clear of Geron.

Biofuels and bio-based chemicals supplier FutureFuel (NYSE:FF) advanced 17.6% after reporting market-topping fourth-quarter results. For the quarter, FutureFuel delivered a 68% increase in revenue to $125.6 million; net income soared 327% to $26.5 million, or $0.61 per share, from just $0.15 per share in the year-ago quarter. By comparison, Wall Street had anticipated an EPS profit of just $0.23. As automakers continue to push their production away from gasoline and toward alternative fuels companies like FutureFuel could continue to see major benefits. Keep in mind that the company has little analyst coverage, so surprises to the upside and downside with regard to EPS are very likely. However, with its dividend boosted by $0.01 per quarter to $0.12 and revenue growth soaring, there's a reasonable shot that shares of FutureFuel could head even higher.

Finally, independent oil and gas exploration and production company Penn Virginia (NYSE:PVA) surged 15.6% following a 13D SEC filing in which Soros Fund Management disclosed a 9.18% active stake in the company. In the filing, Soros Fund Management noted that Penn Virginia has done a good job in running its business, but believes that, through meetings with management, it can come up with strategic alternatives to help improve shareholder value. There are a number of ways shareholder value can be improved, from stock buybacks and dividends to a potential sale of part or all of the company. It's uncertain if Soros Fund Management intends to explore any or all of these paths, but with Penn Virginia up more than 300% from its 52-week low and trading at 27 times forward earnings, that optimism may be fully baked into its shares already.

Geron, Penn Virginia, and FutureFuel all soared today -- but all three could have a difficult time keeping pace with this top stock in 2014
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Sean Williams has no material interest in any companies mentioned in this article. You can follow him on CAPS under the screen name TMFUltraLong, track every pick he makes under the screen name TrackUltraLong, and check him out on Twitter, where he goes by the handle @TMFUltraLong.

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4 in 5 Americans Are Ignoring Buffett's Warning

Don't be one of them.

Jun 12, 2015 at 5:01PM

Admitting fear is difficult.

So you can imagine how shocked I was to find out Warren Buffett recently told a select number of investors about the cutting-edge technology that's keeping him awake at night.

This past May, The Motley Fool sent 8 of its best stock analysts to Omaha, Nebraska to attend the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholder meeting. CEO Warren Buffett and Vice Chairman Charlie Munger fielded questions for nearly 6 hours.
The catch was: Attendees weren't allowed to record any of it. No audio. No video. 

Our team of analysts wrote down every single word Buffett and Munger uttered. Over 16,000 words. But only two words stood out to me as I read the detailed transcript of the event: "Real threat."

That's how Buffett responded when asked about this emerging market that is already expected to be worth more than $2 trillion in the U.S. alone. Google has already put some of its best engineers behind the technology powering this trend. 

The amazing thing is, while Buffett may be nervous, the rest of us can invest in this new industry BEFORE the old money realizes what hit them.

KPMG advises we're "on the cusp of revolutionary change" coming much "sooner than you think."

Even one legendary MIT professor had to recant his position that the technology was "beyond the capability of computer science." (He recently confessed to The Wall Street Journal that he's now a believer and amazed "how quickly this technology caught on.")

Yet according to one J.D. Power and Associates survey, only 1 in 5 Americans are even interested in this technology, much less ready to invest in it. Needless to say, you haven't missed your window of opportunity. 

Think about how many amazing technologies you've watched soar to new heights while you kick yourself thinking, "I knew about that technology before everyone was talking about it, but I just sat on my hands." 

Don't let that happen again. This time, it should be your family telling you, "I can't believe you knew about and invested in that technology so early on."

That's why I hope you take just a few minutes to access the exclusive research our team of analysts has put together on this industry and the one stock positioned to capitalize on this major shift.

Click here to learn about this incredible technology before Buffett stops being scared and starts buying!

David Hanson owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway and American Express. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway, Google, and Coca-Cola.We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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