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George Putnam, one of the country's leading turnaround and distressed investing professionals, shares his timely insight on the economy and turnaround investing opportunities.

Bankruptcy/Chapter 11 / Post-Bankruptcy Stocks

Good Brands are Not Enough

January 19, 2012

One of the things we like to see in a potential turnaround stock is a strong brand name. That will often provide the foundation on which the company can build its turnaround.

However, the recent Chapter 11 filing by Hostess Brands and Eastman Kodak are reminders that well known brand names alone may not be enough to save a company. In both of these cases the brand names are widely recognized, but the products with which they are associated no longer represent strong business franchises.

The Hostess “Twinkie” brand is probably one of the most widely recognized names in the snack food industry—at least to those of us of a certain age. And Hostess Cupcakes, Snowballs and Wonder Bread are probably not far behind. But in this health conscious era, most of Hostess’ brands evoke thoughts of fat, calories, sugar and lack of fiber. Add this to labor and debt issues at Hostess, and it does not make a good recipe for a turnaround.

Similarly, the Kodak brand remains number one or two (battling it out with Fuji) in the photographic film business. But unfortunately, in this digital era nobody uses film any more.  Eastman Kodak undoubtedly has patents with some value, but they may not have enough value for the company to successfully reorganize in Chapter 11.

We still like to see a stable of good brands when we evaluate turnaround candidates, but the brands have to represent currently viable products. They must offer management a tool with which to reinvigorate the business. Unfortunately, as we’ve seen with Hostess and Kodak, that is not always the case.

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The Trump Effect

Investors have newfound enthusiasm for domestic economic growth, as a Trump presidency could bring new infrastructure spending, lighter regulatory burdens and lower corporate taxes. While the distance between campaign promises and corporate profits can be vast, we agree with the market’s general assessment of how government policies might change. Read More.

Market-Beating Profit: The 200+ Club

Turnaround stocks present a unique opportunity for savvy investors to buy in at bargain prices. Take a look at this list of just a few of our purchase recommendations that have realized a return rate of 200% or better:

* Bristow remains in our active portfolio (currently as a Hold), and 2,057% gain is as of 11/9/16.

Bet on These Battered Stocks

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Chicago Tribune highlighted this Kiplinger's Money Power write-up on George's contrarian investing approach and The Turnaround Letter's April 2016 monthly turnaround stock pick.

 

Darren Fonda notes, "…besieged stocks often start to recuperate as the headlines fade and investors anticipate a return to precrisis sales and profits. The trick, of course, is to find companies that are more likely to rebound from a setback than collapse entirely."

 

Learn more about Putnam's turnaround investing strategy.