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 that 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.
Arch Coal (NYSE:ACI)
Watchlists are sometimes good for monitoring risky investments that you haven't pulled the trigger on yet but that could offer intriguing upside potential. That's why struggling coal-miner Arch Coal wiggled its way onto my watchlist this week.
Arch has been nothing short of a disaster for shareholders since the recession. Coal prices have been under constant pressure, while the mineral itself has begun to be replaced by alternative sources of energy such as solar and wind, as well as cleaner-burning and potentially cheaper fuels like natural gas. The Energy Information Administration says coal's piece of the electric-generating pie has dropped from 52% in 2000 to just 37% as of its most recent figures.
Furthermore, the Environmental Protection Agency just this week proposed guidelines that would require utilities to cut their emissions by 30% by 2030. Coal is among the dirtier of electricity-generating fuels, so this news didn't sit well with investors in coal stocks.
However, Arch Coal also has two things working in its favor that investors often forget. First, despite its declining relevance, coal is still the dominant electricity-generating fuel in this country. This means that no matter how grim the future may look for coal producers, the mineral isn't about to be swept under the rug. Cleaner coal technology does exist, and emerging markets around the globe, such as India and China, still have a high demand for coal.
This brings me to my second point: Arch Coal is actively looking to boost exports to Asian markets in order to capitalize on rapidly growing demand in the region. Although exports only make up a fraction of Arch's current sales, the company says this figure could quadruple by the end of the decade. Arch's revenue stream is more diversified than you might realize.
So one side of the coin shows Arch losing a lot of money over the near term, but by the same token it may also be basking in emerging-market growth by the end of the decade. If you're an investor with a high level of risk tolerance who believes coal will again see the light of day, then Arch Coal could be a tremendous bargain at its current price.
Orexigen Therapeutics (NASDAQ:OREX)
The day of reckoning is literally right around the corner for Orexigen and its weight control management drug hopeful Contrave, which is scheduled to go before the Food and Drug Administration by next Wednesday for possible approval or maybe to be denied for a second time.
There's a lot on the line here for Orexigen, which only has one other weight-loss drug hopeful in its pipeline. Another failure for Contrave would likely be devastating to existing shareholders and doom Orexigen to further quarterly losses.
However, Contrave has also demonstrated flashes of glory in its large late-stage studies, as well as through top-line data in its Light Study.
Contrave produced weight loss of 5% or more in 53% of the 4,500-plus people who participated in Orexigen's clinical trials, compared to just 21% for the control arm. Orexigen noted that patients who took Contrave for six months as an adjuvant to a structured diet and exercise lost an average of 25 pounds, compared to an average loss of just 17 pounds for the placebo group. In addition, a number of patients saw notable benefits that included lower cholesterol levels and better blood sugar control.
Perhaps even more important, early results from the Light Study cardiovascular outcomes test, which included approximately 9,800 people, showed that Contrave did not increase the rate of serious adverse events versus the placebo. Orexigen is alone among its peers in undertaking such a comprehensive cardiovascular outcomes study; because it has (and because Contrave appears to be safe to use over the long haul), the drug could become the go-to therapy by physicians in the U.S. and eventually Europe.
Investors will also want to keep in mind that fat-fighting drugs have flopped since their debut a year and a half ago. Insurance companies have been slow to extend coverage, and consumers simply aren't getting the preventive care you'd expect. That could change with the implementation of Obamacare.
One thing is for certain: All eyes should be on Orexigen over the next week.
Every week I throw at least one stock on the barbecue for short-sellers to grill. Globalstar, which recently moved from the over-the-counter boards to the NYSE Arca exchange, is this week's unfortunate watchlist selection.
On paper Globalstar's business certainly seems unique enough to succeed. Globalstar provides mobile voice and data communications through a network of satellites around the globe. With telecom companies consolidating in an unprecedented fashion over the past two years, the idea for optimists is that Globalstar's network may draw the attention of a suitor.
However, in my opinion the fantasy ends there and the reality of Globalstar's bleak prospects takes over. Since 2006, the company has delivered nothing but annual losses and a cumulative free-cash outflow that is approaching $1.2 billion.
Furthermore, while revenue has grown in each successive year since the recession, its growth rate has been nothing more than high single digits at best. That's a problem when the company is valued at 36 times trailing 12-month sales, possesses a negative book valuation, and carries an unhealthy $644 million in net debt. This debt leaves the company little flexibility to make strategic moves. Not to mention, Globalstar has produced a wider than expected earnings-per-share loss in six of the past seven quarters, including the last four.
A bet against Globalstar is really just a bet that the company won't make any dent on its losses or free cash flow over the coming years. With eight years under its belt and essentially no improvement, I see little reason why short-sellers shouldn't be eagerly awaiting the opportunity to bet against this satellite services provider.
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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