I follow quite a lot of companies, so the usefulness of a watchlist for me cannot be overstated. Without my watchlist, I'd be unable to keep up with my favorite sectors and see what's really moving the market. Even worse, I'd be lost when the time came to choose which stock I'm buying or shorting next.
Today is Watchlist Wednesday, so I'm discussing three companies that have crossed my radar in the past week and at what point I may consider taking action on these calls with my own money. Keep in mind these aren't concrete buy or sell recommendations, and I don't guarantee I'll take action on the companies being discussed. But I promise that you can follow my real-life transactions through my profile and that I, like everyone else here at The Motley Fool, will continue to hold the integrity of our disclosure policy in the highest regard.
In just three weeks POZEN shareholders will finally know the fate of safer-aspirin products PA32540 (containing 325 milligrams of aspirin) and P8140 (containing 81 mg of aspirin) as a secondary prevention treatment of cardiovascular disease in patients with a high risk for developing aspirin-induced gastric ulcers.
POZEN's shareholders had the wind let out of their sails once before when the Food and Drug Administration postponed its initial PDUFA date in January by a full three months to April 25. PA32540 alone could have peak sales potential of up to $400 million in the United States, according to a company presentation last April.
I'd lean toward the FDA approving PA32540, as it decisively met both its primary and secondary endpoints in clinical studies while demonstrating notable efficacy and tolerability. Overall, POZEN conducted two phase 3 studies of PA32540, in which patients were able to stay on its therapy longer than on enteric-coated aspirin and also suffered significantly fewer endoscopically confirmed gastric ulcers relative to the enteric-coated aspirin. Gastric ulcers were reduced by 56% in the PA32540 arm in study 301 and by 68% in study 302. In other words, POZEN's safer aspirin therapies are in good shape for a possible approval.
What makes this even more unique is that POZEN has already landed a behemoth partner for its secondary prevention cardiovascular disease therapy in Sanofi (NYSE:SNY). Although POZEN is still looking for an international partner, Sanofi and POZEN signed an agreement last September to commercialize both PA32540 and PA8140 tablets in the U.S. The deal also netted POZEN $15 million up front, $20 million in pre-commercial milestone payments, and royalties on future product sales. Given its inexperienced sales force, this was a genius move for POZEN.
Biotech-savvy investors would be wise to get POZEN on their watchlist in anticipation of the PDUFA decision on or before April 25.
Lionbridge Technologies (NASDAQ:LIOX)
If you're looking for an under-the-radar technology company that could be poised to take advantage of an increasingly globalized economy, let me introduce you to small-cap Lionbridge Technologies.
Lionbridge operates out of three business segments, but I find none more exciting than its global language and content operations, which help create, manage, translate, and advertise content in different languages and platforms. More and more U.S. businesses of all sizes are branching out beyond North America for growth opportunities, but that means dealing with potential language and software barriers. Lionbridge's solutions break down those barriers and allow businesses to reach new markets. In addition, Lionbridge offers interpretation services in the health care industry, as well as testing services.
As evidence of its recent growth, in its fourth quarter Lionbridge delivered 12% revenue growth to a record $127.5 million, as net income practically doubled to $6.5 million from $3.3 million in the year-ago quarter. Lionbridge's $0.10 in per-share earnings doubled Wall Street's estimate of just $0.05 in EPS. And if that weren't enough, just weeks later it secured a six-year, $100 million contract with an engine systems manufacturer to manage its overseas content.
Of course, valuation is the primary concern with Lionbridge if you're more of a value investor. At 18 times forward earnings, Lionbridge is no longer cheap with a projected growth rate of just 7%. Also, political worries far beyond Lionbridge's control, such as tensions between Russia and the rest of the world, could threaten global growth and negatively impact its business.
The real question is whether Lionbridge can harness an increasing level of globalization to its advantage. I believe it can, but it's probably going to happen overnight. I would, however, recommend getting Lionbridge on your watchlist and keeping your eye on its ability to lure in new customers, as that will be the telltale sign of whether it heads even higher.
Certainly not mine
I'm among a rare breed of investors these days who actually see a bright future ahead for coal producers. Although solar, wind, geothermal, and hydroelectric sources of energy are reducing the demand for coal in the United States, coal firing still accounted for 37% of all electricity production in 2012, according to the Energy Information Administration.
That said, I wouldn't buy the sector blindly. One company on my potential short-sale list is Westmoreland Coal (NASDAQ:WLB), whose shares have more than doubled since the company announced a huge $435 million purchase of seven thermal coal mines in Canada from Sherritt International in December. The sale completely moved Sherritt out of the coal business and further diversified Westermoreland Coal on a geographic basis. It also, according to Westmoreland, was to be cash-flow accretive upon closing.
Despite Westmoreland's latest quarterly results demonstrating stronger cash flow and lower debt, which dipped its net leverage from three to just 2.3 year over year, the miner is still losing quite a bit of money. Even with Sherritt's mines I'm not sure the company will turn a full-year profit until 2016. In fact, Westmoreland has lost money for eight straight years, meaning it was underperforming its peers long before coal entered its latest downtrend.
As long as coal prices remain depressed by oversupply and Westmoreland's operating margin remains in the low single-digits, I'd have to think any price over $20 per share could represent an intriguing opportunity for pessimists to dig a bit deeper.
Is my bullishness or bearishness misplaced? Share your thoughts in the comment section below and consider following my cue by using these links to add these companies to your free, personalized watchlist to keep up on the latest news with each company:
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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