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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 In both of these cases the brand names are widely recognized, but the products with which they are associated no longer represent strong business franchises.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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George Putnam's Favorite Stocks for 2016

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Watch Headlines for Turnaround Stock Opportunities

Negative media headlines can be a great source of turnaround ideas. Stories about struggling companies, management turmoil, failed strategies, large financial losses, industrial accidents, lawsuits and the like can drive a stock to well-below reasonable levels and may provide a buying opportunity. Like all Wall Street axioms, however, “buy on bad news” must be accompanied by careful analysis to evaluate the potential for turnaround success. Read More.

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Retail Turnaround Trio

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MoneyShow.com interviewed George to learn more about his favorite value stock picks for today's market. In "Retail Turnaround Trio," Steve Halpern highlights three of The Turnaround Letter's recently-profiled retailers: JWN, TIF and SPLS.

 

Putnam notes, "Well the retailing sector is undergoing very fundamental change as people move away from the bricks and mortar mall doors to buying more and more online but that's not going to wipe out all of the old-fashioned retailers. Starting the middle of 2015, investors just moved away from retailers en masse and a number of them are trading at about half the level they were a year ago. We thought some of the higher quality names that definitely will be survivors looked interesting."

 

Learn more about these three retail stocks poised for a turnaround.