It's February, and I've surprisingly managed to stick with my New Year's resolution. Usually, by this point in time, my declaration serves only as a painful reminder of my lack of willpower. And I'm not alone in my plan for transformation this year. In fact, many companies are getting into tip-top shape for 2013 and beyond. They're making smart decisions now that'll pave the way for greatness later.
Let's take a look at five companies implementing fresh strategies or leveraging tried-and-true ideas.
1. Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX)Despite a challenging global economic climate, Starbucks continues to kick tail and take names. The company recently unveiled plans for future growth, including expansion of its Verismo home-brewing coffee machines and drive-through locations. Starbucks' Teavana tea, Evolution Fresh juice, and La Boulange bakery acquisitions are redefining and diversifying the company from its past coffee-shop-only status. And don't discount the company's enormous opportunities for international expansion. In fact, Starbucks is already enjoying success from its handful of recently opened stores in India.
2. Tesla Motors (NASDAQ:TSLA)The Silicon Valley-based electric automaker is in the midst of a critical growth stage. The company recently turned cash flow positive, and CEO Elon Musk intends to make Tesla profitable for the first time by the end of the year. Tesla unveiled its highly anticipated crossover at the Detroit Auto Show. Sales of the Model X -- which will go toe-to-toe with new luxury electric cars from BMW and Cadillac -- will begin next year. Tesla is also working on a building a lower-priced model.
Last year Tesla announced its plans to expand its network of electric car recharging stations across the U.S. over the next several years. So far, it's established a number of stations in California and along the East Coast. Converting solar energy to electricity, the stations allow Tesla customers to charge their cars for free.
3. Covidien (UNKNOWN:COV.DL)This health care company boasts leading market positions across its product portfolio. Covidien operates three divisions -- medical devices (which represents 68% of sales), pharmaceuticals (17% of sales), and medical supplies (15% of sales). The company will spin off its pharmaceutical business in mid-2013 and focus on the faster-growing, higher-margin medical device industry.
But, even with the divestment, Covidien will remain well diversified. The company plans to launch 100 new products across its portfolio by year-end 2014. It's also enjoying strong sales growth in emerging markets. However, as a result of health care reform, two challenges for the company include pricing pressure and taxation on medical devices that went into effect at the start of 2013.
4. O'Reilly Automotive (NASDAQ:ORLY)O'Reilly is the second-largest retailer of aftermarket parts, tools, and accessories for the auto industry. The company's products are sold to both DIY customers and professional mechanics. This "dual-market strategy" diversifies revenues, maintains consistency, and acts as a competitive advantage for the company. Driven by stable growth in the auto parts market, O'Reilly has delivered 19 consecutive years of record revenues, earnings, and same-store sales growth since its 1993 IPO.
In 2008, O'Reilly acquired CSK Auto stores, which include Checker Auto Parts and Kragen Auto Parts. So far, the integration has been successful for O'Reilly, translating into increased revenues and margins. But O'Reilly can still benefit from leveraging its dual-market strategy and investments it has made in the CSK stores.
5. Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM)Qualcomm develops new technologies through R&D investment and acquisitions. It then licenses the rights to use its patented technology. For example, networks being upgraded to third- (3G) and fourth-generation (4G) are based on a technology developed by Qualcomm. By holding the patents that enable this technology, Qualcomm collects royalties from smartphone and tablet makers that use it. Also, as Android-based devices -- commonly run on Qualcomm's Snapdragon chip -- continue to snatch market share, Qualcomm will likely benefit from a forceful tailwind in the future.
Get in the driver's seat
These five companies are implementing new strategies and exciting initiatives to help them remain relevant and dominant in 2013 and beyond. Of these companies, I like Qualcomm the best right now. Because of the company's unique position, Qualcomm gives investors an opportunity to participate in the overall mobile trend without having to betting the farm on one particular device manufacturer.