I did quite a bit of shopping last week, taking advantage of the recent correction in many stocks and an inflow of cash after a home sale. I wound up buying six stocks between Tuesday and Wednesday of last week. Let's go over five of the companies I bought, and the reasons I felt they were worth the investment.
Valeant Pharmaceuticals (NYSE:BHC)
I'll start with perhaps my most controversial purchase. I don't typically buy pharmaceuticals companies, but when a stock finds itself shedding 89% of its value since its summertime peak, I'm going to pay attention.
Valeant's tumble has been well documented. The stock had become a market darling by way of snapping up smaller companies with abundant drug portfolios, but things began to fall apart after an internal report detailed potential accounting irregularities. Since then, the company has been the target of a government probe for questionable price increases on acquired drugs, leading analysts to slash their profit targets, credit rating agency downgrades, and a change at the top.
Bill Ackman, who's had a pretty rough year with many of his more prominent market calls yet remains one of the more astute hedge fund managers out there, made a pretty compelling case for Valeant on CNBC earlier in the week. He argues that the drugs with the controversial prices increases make up a small part of Valeant's business, and that its new CEO should be able to get the company back on track without selling any core components.
The first stock I ever owned has never been a major part of my portfolio. That changed on Wednesday. Disney is another stock that peaked last summer, though it finds itself only 14% off its all-time high today.
The media giant began slipping on concerns that ESPN was shedding subscribers, but that's been already happening for a couple of years. I prefer to focus on a company that's hitting on every cylinder outside its cable properties, a division that's still managing overall top-line growth. Disney's killing it at the box office, and we'll have a steady trickle of Star Wars and Marvel movies for years. There are plenty of new attractions on the way for its theme parks, and recent ticket increases will translate into fatter results on the bottom line.
Habit Restaurants (NASDAQ:HABT)
The restaurant operator that Consumer Reports readers surveyed in 2014 claimed had the best-tasting burger has an impressive streak going. It has come through with 49 consecutive quarters of positive year-over-year comps growth. Its latest quarter was solid, as revenue, earnings, and adjusted EBITDA all delivered double-digit growth.
Unlike the country's largest burger flippers, most of Habit's eateries are company-owned. That may be weighing on the bottom line in the near term as it expands aggressively, but it will pay off in the long run. Habit's ability to keep comps positive for more than 12 years validates the concept, and with just 145 company-owned locations, there's plenty of room to grow.
SeaWorld Entertainment (NYSE:SEAS)
I don't mind courting controversy in pursuit of a bargain, and at least by increasing my stake in SeaWorld I'm buying into an industry that I'm more familiar with than pharmaceuticals through Valeant. SeaWorld has struggled since the Blackfish documentary skewered the captivity of killer whales, but after back-to-back years of attendance declines, we saw turnstile clicks turn slightly positive in 2015.
SeaWorld is taking a cautious tone with its prospects this summer, but with cheap gas and a buoyant economy likely to favor all theme-park operators during the peak travel season, it's easy to bet on the industry. SeaWorld's adding a couple of coasters this summer, gradually shifting the attention away from its controversial orca shows and helping improve its own chances to stand out.
The world's largest software company stumbled this earnings season. It fell short of Wall Street's profit target, something Mr. Softy rarely does. It also posted its fourth consecutive quarter of a year-over-year revenue decline.
Everyone knows the story. PC sales have been slumping, weighing on its flagship operating system. The migration from PC to mobile computing via smartphones and tablets hasn't helped, since Microsoft is a distant third in those markets. Its productivity and business platforms are holding up, but they're being challenged by cheaper, cloud-based solutions.
I still like Microsoft's chances. It's using its ample cash to gobble up shares and boost its payouts, now yielding a healthy dividend of 2.9%. Microsoft is also making waves in exciting areas, including gaming and virtual reality. It's a blue chip in tech, and it's not going away anytime soon.