Turnaround Investing Blog

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 / Energy

Beware of Trendy Turnaround Candidates - Even Green Ones

The stocks of a number of “green” companies have soared and then crashed and burned over the past year or two. This is particularly true in the solar energy field. For example, Energy Conversion Devices saw its stock climb above 80 in mid-2008. But the company’s results never justified the lofty valuation, and it ended up filing for bankruptcy on February 14 of this year. The stock has fallen to 0.16, and it is probably overpriced even at that level.

We’ve seen this happen many times before. A few stocks, or a whole sector, catch the public’s fancy, and the share prices take off only to come back to earth a few months or quarters later. Solar power is just the latest in a long list of trendy sectors--after telecom, internet and theme restaurant companies to name just a few.

Our number one rule in choosing turnaround stocks is that there must be a solid core business with long-term viability. Sometimes one of these trendy companies will eventually find a way to make money, and the stock will rise Phoenix-like from the ashes, but most of the time that doesn’t happen. Sometimes the trendy theme is merely a passing fad. Or the business model that looked so good on paper doesn’t actually work.

Sometimes the business concept may be okay, but it turns out that someone else can execute it more cheaply. That’s what has happened in solar power. The Chinese solar companies are eating everyone else’s lunch.

The bottom line is that trendy companies rarely make good turnaround investments. For the turnaround to work, there must be a solid, viable core business to rebuild around.

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A Closer Look At Two Activist Campaigns

Watch to see if ADP’s CEO Carlos Rodriguez inadvertently helps Pershing, and his aggressive and sometimes personal stance against Ackman could backfire. Overall, because of the stock’s strong returns and Ackman’s weak credibility, we would give this activist campaign a low chance of making ADP a successful turnaround investment. For turnaround investors, the Trian campaign appears to have a win-win opportunity for investors--either Peltz joins the board and learns enough to re-invigorate P&G, or loses and management must either execute (boosting earnings and the shares) or they will face a more drastic proxy campaign with higher odds of success down the road. We think the P&G campaign could turn out well for shareholders.  Read More.

Warrants: A Solid Investment Opportunity

Warrants provide a valuable tool for the savvy investor. When selected and implemented well, they can be a smart addition to a diversified investor’s portfolio. Like options, warrants are not equity. They only convey the right to buy equity. As such, neither holder is entitled to dividend rights, pre-emptive rights, proxy voting or any share of any liquidation.

 

Value Investing

 

Warrants' return potential can be very high, but they also carry significant risks. Learn what they are, how they work, strategies to minimize risk and find profit with warrants.

Here's Why You Should Invest in Asset Managers

 

stock market advicex

 

This Forbes article cites a recent MoneyShow write-up that recommends investors take advantage of the strong stock market and potential interest rate hike by "putting some of your investment assets into the shares of asset management stocks."

 

The article praises The Turnaround Letter's OAK purchase recommendation and quotes George Putnam: "As the corporate debt binge that we’ve experienced since 2009 comes to an end, Oaktree will benefit from a growing number of restructurings and bankruptcies."  

 

Learn more about Putnam's investing success with turnaround stocks.