Even though the markets have pulled back from their multiyear highs, hundreds of companies have logged new 52-week highs in recent trading sessions. 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. Meat and food products provider Hormel Foods
Stock price drilled?
With political unrest still ruling the roost in the Middle East, oil companies with exposure to Libya could find their stock prices susceptible to downside pressure. This is the reason I feel caution should be taken with Occidental Petroleum
Occidental derives less than 2% of its revenues from Libya and doesn't expect the impact from the trouble in Libya to be material. But in its 2010 annual report, the company's financials show that sales attributed to Libya grew at nearly twice the pace of U.S. sales and faster than any other country except Oman. Political pressure from the U.S. or continued protests could cause a disruption in Occidental's production, which might not hurt its bottom line much, but continued uncertainty throughout the region could still send investors scurrying for the exits.
You see mail, I see logistics
Sometimes you sell because a stock is overvalued, other times it's because a competitor has become more attractive. In the case of parcel shipping, it's the latter. Perennial analyst favorite FedEx
The previous two quarters for FedEx have been marked by earnings misses stemming from combining two of its business segments, freight and less-than truckload. In the meantime, UPS has seen its earnings estimates rise while it continues to pump out a dividend yield more than five times FedEx's. Both behemoths should continue to deliver impressive growth, but UPS appears to be the better value at present.
It's always sunny ...
Where I live in Seattle, clouds are indicative of an approaching storm. In the stock market, the word "cloud" refers to a company that can trade at absurd multiples without turning a profit. SuccessFactors
The company is discovering the interesting fact that even when revenues grow at a fast pace, it still has to control its costs. Last quarter, SuccessFactors' expenses jumped 40%, with R&D costs rising 89% and general and administrative costs vaulting 71%. The point is that if the company can't control its costs, it won't matter how much of a revenue backlog it books. Without controlling expenses, it'll never turn a sizable enough profit to justify its current $2.7 billion market cap.
Do you have an opinion on any of the companies mentioned here? Share your thoughts in the comments section below! Also, consider adding these stocks and any others that you follow to My Watchlist to keep track of them with ease.
Add Occidental Petroleum to My Watchlist.
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Fool contributor Sean Williams does not own shares in any companies mentioned in this article. He still, to this day, doesn't know how Hormel can get away with calling Spam food. You can follow him on CAPS under the screen name TMFUltraLong. FedEx is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor selection. The Fool owns shares of FedEx and United Parcel Service. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not 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 which never needs to be sold short.