The turnaround at media and entertainment company Viacom (NYSE: VIAB) rests on an improving balance sheet, combined with higher margins and revenue stability/growth, led by new CEO Robert Bakish. First quarter 2018 results showed progress in the first two, but some slippage in revenues.
Telecom equipment maker Nokia (NYSE: NOK) reported improved fourth quarter results. It appears increasingly ready to capture and profit from the growing opportunities in the 5G technology that will replace the current 4G/LTE wireless technology.
Ford Motor (NYSE: F) reported mixed results for the fourth quarter and full year 2017, reiterating its pre-announced results and guidance from the Detroit auto show earlier this month. Their turnaround under new CEO Hackett is in the early stages and remains on track. We don't anticipate meaningful financial progress for 2018 although the changes underway at Ford should become more visible.
Subsequent to the release, Ford announced that Ford Credit's current CFO, Marion Harris, will become a senior officer at Ford Mobility as that group ramps up its staffing and funding. Also, Ford Mobility acquired Autonomic and Transloc, two technology firms that will help accelerate Ford's mobility efforts. We like the urgency and attention that this group is now receiving.
Document technology company Xerox (NYSE: XRX) reported better 4Q17 revenues and profits. More strategically relevant: It announced that it will combine with long-time joint venture partner Fuji Xerox. Xerox shareholders will receive a cash dividend of approximately $9.80/share and will own 49.9% of the combined company. The combination makes a lot of sense to us as the Fuji Xerox partnership created an added layer of expenses and complexity that hobbled both its own success and Xerox Corp.'s performance. We're not entirely convinced that this deal will be completed, and the financial picture of the new combined company remains unclear; so we moving Xerox shares to a HOLD for now.
The update from Ford Motor (NYSE: F) in advance of next week's earnings report indicates that the company has a solid plan and financial strength (both earnings and balance sheet) to make its transition to higher profits and newer technologies. We believe the transition will be successful but will take time. Key variables are whether investors have patience to see it through, and will there be an auto industry down cycle that interrupts the transition.
Global financial institution Citigroup (NYSE: C) reported healthy results for the fourth quarter. Better internal execution and strong external conditions, combined with a strong capital base and a sizable boost from the tax reform bill, offers the potential for per-share earnings of $9 in 2019 or 2020, up nearly 70% from last year's (2017) per-share earnings of $5.33.
Media and entertainment producer Viacom (NYSE:VIAB) reported mixed results for 4Q17 as domestic affiliate fees remain weaker than expected. Looking to 2018 and beyond, the new management guided toward weaker near-term revenues in the U.S. but provided encouraging signs that the overall turnaround is making progress. International revenues and profits continue to improve, and Paramount could become profitable in 2018. Stability under new CEO Bob Bakish and the ownership structure is working. At 7.6x forward EV/EBITDA with improving fundamentals, strong cash flow and a strong balance sheet, Viacom shares could be poised for a stronger 2018.
Boston Beer Company is the nation's largest craft beer company, with 2017 revenues of over $900 million. Since its days as a start-up in 1984, it has led the nation's growing taste for craft beers; and shareholders have enjoyed tasty returns along the way. So why is The Turnaround Letter--which focuses on out-of-favor companies undergoing major positive changes--even thinking about this ostensible "growth" company?
Harnessing Activists to Help Find Turnaround Stocks
Activist investors often produce attractive returns for their clients; and you can still use their influence to help your position as a turnaround investor in two ways: Buy a position in a stock with the expectation that an activist will soon follow or buy after an activist takes a stake.
While one of the many dozens of activist funds might find their way to selecting your particular stock, this approach is likely to be frustrating and unrewarding. A better approach is to buy after the activist makes their move. Once an activist takes a stake in a company, how do you evaluate whether it is worthwhile to follow on? Admittedly, this is a bit of an art... Learn how you can harness the power of activist investors to find market-beating turnaround stocks.
Turnaround Letter Stock Pick Named Top Performer of 2017
This Forbeswrite-up follows up on the recent Top Stock Tips report--naming The Turnaround Letter's Crocs recommendation the top performer of 2017: With 90% gains, CROX beat out 100 other investment ideas included in the report; and the stock continues to have value investing appeal, according to Putnam.
George notes, "We see additional upside for the stock in 2018 as management's efforts continue to bear fruit, though the gains will likely be more muted than we saw in 2017."