At The Motley Fool, we poke plenty of fun at Wall Street analysts and their endless cycle of upgrades, downgrades, and "initiating coverage at neutral." So you might think we'd be the last people to give virtual ink to such "news." And we would be -- if that were all we were doing.
But in "This Just In," we don't simply tell you what the analysts said. We'll also show you whether they know what they're talking about. To help, we've enlisted Motley Fool CAPS, our tool for rating stocks and analysts alike. With CAPS, we track the long-term performance of Wall Street's best and brightest -- and its worst and sorriest, too.
And speaking of the best ...
Ready for a hot stock tip? Then today, Fool, you're in luck -- because Hudson Securities has just the stock for you. This week, the little Jersey City stock jock initiated coverage on one of the Fool's very own favorite companies: Chinese fertilizer upstart Yongye International
While not as familiar a name to investors as more established fertilizer "brands" -- Potash of Saskatchewan
And this story just gets better. According to Hudson, the growth rate is great, but an even better reason to own Yongye is the fact that Yongye is just plain a great at what it does:
Despite its short history as a public listed company, Yongye's ... solid gross margin, operating margin and non-GAAP net margin has outperformed our HuaLong Fertilizer Index ... of 101 publicly companies listed in Asia, Australia, Europe and North America. We view the margin outperformance speaks well of YONG's overall business strategy and operations, especially when compared to its Asian and U.S. listed peer groups.
Reason to worry?
Now, it's entirely possible that Hudson does know what it's doing, when it recommends that we buy shares of Yongye. (And seeing as The Motley Fool owns shares of Yongye itself, and we've recommended that our Motley Fool Global Gains members buy it, I sure hope Hudson's right.) That said, I've expressed reservations about the stock before, and I'll do so again here today.
Simply put: Yongye looks risky to me because it's never yet been able to put together a full year of positive free cash flow from its business. (The company did produce positive FCF in Q4 2009, but plunged right back into the red the next quarter, and has remained there since.)
A cautionary tale
A lot of Fools will tell you this doesn't matter. (They've certainly given me an earful.) They'll show you a picture that demonstrates the superb effectiveness of Yongye's product in turning an ordinary jalapeno pepper into a Franken-pepper of frightening proportions. (And yes, that one impressed me, too.) In addition, they will tell you that Yonge is using its cash to purchase inventory, and because of the seasonal nature of the business, consistent FCF isn't quite a necessity.
Still, a good story only gets you so far without cash to back it up. Earlier this week, we saw another FCF-less Fool fave -- Infinera
In my humble, Foolish view, gambling on growth without proof of profits to back it up is just that: A gamble. Maybe Hudson's comfortable with that. I am not.
Rich Smith does not own shares of (nor is he short) any company named above. You can find him on CAPS, publicly pontificating under the handle TMFDitty, where he's currently ranked No. 578 out of more than 165,000 members. 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.