Among the topics tackled on the latest Motley Fool Money radio show are Fisher-Price's voluntary recall of more than 10 million toys, a specialty insurance company on our radar, and why Starbucks
Chris Hill: On Thursday, Fisher-Price announced a voluntary recall of more than 10 million children's products sold in the U.S. Included in the recall were 14 models of tricycles and nearly 1 million high chairs. Fisher-Price is owned by Mattel
Seth Jayson: She doesn't, and I'm looking at one of these Dora trikes right now. There's this tiny little rounded plastic key that is supposedly responsible for much injury. Good for Fisher-Price. Good for Mattel. This is a penny on a $1.70's worth of earnings or something. It doesn't mean anything to them financially, and it will get people off their back. And maybe save a very few kids from getting a bump. But honestly, my house -- anybody's house has hundreds and hundreds of better ways for children to get hurt.
Ron Gross: Better ways, I like that.
Jayson: Much more likely ways. We had 36 injuries in how many million toys? That's nothing.
James Early: Next time my child rides his death trap trike over to his hazardous high chair, I'll think of Fisher-Price. No, I have to agree with Seth on this, actually. I'm sure there are statistically a number of injuries on Fisher-Price things anyway, but good for Fisher-Price for being proactive here, unlike Johnson & Johnson
Instead they sent those sneaky people out to try to buy it on the sly. So it's probably partially a wasteful expenditure on Fisher-Price's part, but hey, maybe it's a good move.
Hill: We've got to give them a thumbs-up though. Seriously, it's being a good corporate citizen.
Jayson: I wonder if we also just -- I mean, Americans are such sissies about everything. Everybody wants to think they're the big, tough American and "I'm self-sufficient," and really we are just sissies. If we can blame somebody else for a problem -- my kid the other day tripped over my foot and hit her eye and cheek on the edge of a door. I mean, should I ...
Gross: I'm going to be calling social services.
Jayson: Should I complain to the door makers that the edges of their doors are too sharp? She had this bruise line going up and down her face. No. It was my fault. Let's grow up, people.
Hill: Although I did hear that your lovely bride is filing paperwork to have you recalled. (Laughter.)
Gross: I'll co-sign that.
Early: Yeah. I'm still offended that you called me a sissy.
Hill: On Wednesday, shares of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters
Gross: The irony just writes itself, doesn't it?
Hill: It does.
Gross: So I can't speak to whether the revenue recognition problems are true problems because we just don't have enough information, and yet the analyst reports I'm reading seem to indicate that people are not that concerned.
Jayson: It's also really boring. (Laughter.)
Gross: Pretty boring. I was never a lover of Green Mountain just on its own merits in the sense that we see profitability on a per-cup-of-coffee basis really not growing. The market afforded it a multiple that was really too high in my opinion.
Jayson: Don't they have that little patent expiring thing coming out?
Gross: It's a fad issue. There's a patent expiring issue.
Jayson: They just spent a bunch of money in buying the Folgers of Canada. That looks desperate to me.
Gross: I will say I use the Keurig machine pretty much every day. I'm a big fan of the product, just never a big fan of the stock.
Early: Technically speaking, the issue would seem to be I think they sell most of their product to a distributor who then sells it to ...
Early: The question is, I think, was the revenue booked? They would normally book it when the distributor then sells the product versus when they first sell to the distributor. Revenue recognition is a nasty thing if you're actually doing it, if you're fudging the revenue recognition. But could it be the SEC is mad that they missed Madoff, so now they're going after Green Mountain Coffee?
Hill: I don't think so.
Early: Which is a Vermont-based business? Vermont is like the Sweden of America. It's just wholesome in every which way.
Jayson: You mean like communists? Are you calling Vermont a communist state?
Early: I feel healthy when I'm in Vermont, I'll say that.
Hill: Let's pull back from Green Mountain for just a second. Just as an investor, regardless of what the company is, when there's an SEC inquiry into something like revenue recognition, is this an automatic red flag? Is this a "where there's smoke there's fire" thing?
Jayson: It depends. The SEC is very easily pushed around. There's political motivation sometimes that can cause the SEC to start an investigation. I don't think there's any of that here. So it's really hard to say. If this is a symptom of some greater "slegality" ...
Hill: "Slimy but legal."
Gross: I like that.
Early: It's copyrighted, though.
Jayson: Yeah, then you'd have to worry. But you'll never know in time. And that's why people sold it off.
Hill: OK, it's time to talk about these stocks that are on our radar. Ron Gross, we will start with you.
Gross: All right, Chris, I'm going to hit you with one that we also own in the Million Dollar Portfolio known as a mini-Berkshire Hathaway, Markel
Tom Gainer, their investment chief, has amassed a great track record, a great steward of their capital and has generated some great investment returns. I think we've got some multiple expansions on the horizon. They're going to continue to grow book value. I like it short term, long term. I think it's a good one.
Hill: And for someone like me who knows pretty much nothing about insurance, when you say "specialty insurance" like, they're just insuring sports teams? What are they doing?
Gross: They take everything from ballet studios to dude ranches, anything that is ...
Early: You had me at dude ranches.
Hill: That's quite a range.
Gross: Yeah, it's really niche businesses which unlike car insurance, which is basically a commodity business that competes on price, these niche things are not so much commodity-based. There are service aspects to them.
Jayson: You need special spreadsheets for those.
Gross: Makes it much more interesting than your typical life insurance company.
Hill: Final question. Do they have any talking rodents as their mascot?
Gross: No, they're pretty low-profile guys. No, no rodents.
Hill: I like them already. James?
Early: Chris, when I hear about the metal shavings in Children's Tylenol; when I hear about the bacteria and fungus or dirt or whatever, I get excited. I get excited because it could be a buying opportunity and this case -- these things are bad but they're not nearly bad enough to rock Johnson & Johnson's boat.
This is a very big, stable company. Johnson & Johnson is one of my income investor stocks. It pays a 3.5% yield and it's paid a dividend every year since 1944. So I say, this is bad news and it's unfortunate, but buying on the bad news could be a smart move right now.
Hill: Seth Jayson?
Jayson: I'm going to continue with the callous disregard for our nation's most innocent (laughter) and say that you should look at Mattel. Now Mattel hasn't really been beat up too much because of this Fisher-Price recall. I was looking at the numbers and I said, "Wow. A 9.3% free cash flow yield. A 3.2% dividend yield. They sell a lot of toys that don't maim children. I have a ton of them at my house. And guess what? These toys wear out and they keep finding new markets. It's trading near the back end, the low end of its historical sort of P/E ratio. I think you can do a lot worse, especially right now when you can't get anything on money in a saving account.
Hill: And one of their big brands is Barbie. Does your little girl have some Barbies?
Jayson: I'm going to have trouble with that whole Barbie and princess thing. I'm hoping I can have a girl who likes rock tumblers and race cars.
Hill: Good luck with that. Let me know how it works out.
Seth Jayson , James Early, Ron Gross, and Chris Hill may own stocks discussed during the course of the weekly radio show, which you can listen to on radio stations across America and on iTunes. You can also follow the show on Twitter. To see the stocks they own, follow the links above to view their profiles.
True to its name, The Motley Fool is made up of a motley assortment of writers and analysts, each with a unique perspective; sometimes we agree, sometimes we disagree, but we all believe in the power of learning from each other through our Foolish community.
Markel is a Motley Fool Inside Value pick. Green Mountain Coffee Roasters is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation. Motley Fool Options has recommended a diagonal call position on Johnson & Johnson, which is a Motley Fool Income Investor pick. The Fool owns shares of Markel and Johnson & Johnson. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.