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Thursday, 28 October 2004
A Reader Writes, "What about AUO, BE, TLB or CGT?"

Hello Friends! I am sure delighted that you all could stop by and browse here. I will use this opportunity to encourage each and every one of you who live in the United States to get out and vote. Wait in line. Make sure your vote counts. That is what Democracy is all about. This artwork is from an M.I.T. course for "America in Depression and War." This poster was created sometime between 1936 and 1940 as part of the WPA (Works Project Administration) Project. This time of year, even I have trouble concentrating just on stocks and investing!

As I wrote above, I have been away from my computer for about a week now. I did manage to check my own stocks in my trading portfolio to make sure they did not hit stops for sales on profit or loss situations. However, I wasn't doing much about NEW ideas on this blog. I did receive a couple of letters (which I absolutely love receiving....sort of lets me know you guys are really out there....and encourages me to keep writing!) On comment came from Mike who commented on my DP post in the blog.

Mike wrote:

Hi Bob,
I recently discovered your site and I gotta tell you I used to be a regular reader of Bigtipper.com back during the late nineties tech boom, they later went to a pay model and I'm not even sure if they're still around but ever since I haven't found a good straight-up picks site till now. Keep up the great work. I like the motley fool too but they're too fluffy at times, your stuff cuts right to the chase.

I was wondering what your thoughts were on a few dogs in my portfolio, I usually follow your investment philosophy of only selling gainers but tax reasons I wouldn't mind dumping a dog or too this year. Do you think any of these dogs are ripe for a rebound: AUO, BE, TLB or CGT. Maybe you post an entry about it.


First of all, thanks so much for your kind words. I try to get "right to the chase"...but then again, I have started veering off a bit....note the current post right HERE with the election poster!

You asked about my thoughts about your "dogs", and mentioned my philosophy of "only selling gainers". To answer on my philosophy, I would like to emphasize again that I am an amateur investor, so take everything I write with at least a half grain of salt! However, personally, I believe in selling my LOSERS quickly, so none of my "dogs" grow up! In other words, I sell stocks, even if I have just held them a single day (!) if they hit an 8% loss from my purchase price. So I DON'T believe in holding onto my losers. Next, I DO sell my winners slowly. If you have read some of my other posts, you would know that I like to sell 1/4 of my holdings after the stock up about 30%, 1/4 at about 60%, 1/4 at about 90%, 1/4 at 120% gain. After that, I try to continue selling 1/4 positions at, instead of 30%, 60% intervals. That is 1/4 sold again after 180%, 240%, 300%....etc. etc. etc.

I also will sell my ENTIRE position, if a stock hits the 8% loss as I noted above, goes back to break-even if I have sold once at about 30% gain, and after that, selling my entire position if the stock retraces 50% of the largest gain recorded. I hope that all is clear.

Thus I don't wait until a stock has BECOME a dog, I sell at the first 'BARK'!

Now you have asked me some specific questions about specific stocks. For this discussion, I am going to look at the "5-Yr Restated" financials on Morningstar.com to see how the underlying fundamentals appear to be behaving. n (I do not own any of the stocks you have inquired about.)

First AUO. Looking at the "5-Yr Restated" financials on AUO, we can see a pretty picture of steady revenue growth and the company earned $1.05 in the trailing twelve months.

However the free cash flow, while possibly improving (?) is still a negative $(65) million in the trailing twelve months. Not my kind of company. Also, the balancer sheet isn't that clean with $526.6 million in cash and $959.3 million in other current assets, while having $1.1 billion in current liabilities. Prefer to see a bit more assets! Taking a look at recent earnings, we can see that AUO announced 3rd quarter earnings just yesterday! Net profit was up to NT$10.91 billion from NT$4.2 billion last year. However, net profit fell sequentially from NT$12.7 billion recorded in the prior quarter. In addition, they reduced guidance pointing out that they expected wafer shipments to be down 15 to 17% in the fourth quarter.

Thus we have a company that is cash flow negative, has a marginal balance sheet, is seeing sequential deterioration in profits, and is guiding LOWER regarding wafer shipments the next quarter. None of those things are encouraging me to suggest that this is anything but a stock to avoid. If you own a stock and wouldn't be buying it now, it goes to show that you should probably be thinking about SELLING. Just imho.

Next, how about BE? Bearing Point (BE) has a "5-Yr Restated Morningstar" that shows an ERRATIC picture of revenue growth. Earnings are non-existent and apparently losses are actually increasing since 2002. Free cash flow has been deteriorating, and the balance sheet is a bit marginal imho with $122.7 million in cash and $739.6 million in other current assets, barely covering the $629.4 million in current liabilities. This one doesn't do too much for me!

Third, what about TLB? Looking at the Talbots "5-Yr Restated" financials, we can see that revenue has plateaued at about $1.6 billion in 2001, and is still only $1.67 billion in the trailing twelve months. Earnings have gone nowhere, the dividend has grown fortunately, and the company is spinning off some free cash with an outstanding balance sheet on Morningstar.

Finally, on retail concepts, including restaurants, I am most concerned about the information on "same store sales". This lets you know whether existing stores are experiencing real growth or if perhaps the concept is in trouble. On October 7, 2004, three weeks ago, TLB TLB reported "same store sales" for September. Same store sales actually fell 1.3% which was "good news" because the 'street' was actually expecting WORSE results of a drop of 4% in same store sales. Thus, even though total monthly sales were up 3%, the more important number, of how much existing stores were growing or shrinking was a resounding SHRINKING of 1.3%. Not exactly my cup of tea. You will have to decide whether you want to keep owning this stock!

The last stock you mentioned was CGT. CGT doesn't even have any information on Morningstar for "5-Yr financials"....so I wouldn't go any further in my rather strict approach (!) to investing. Looking to Yahoo for some news, I came across the CAE first quarter results. In this case, this Canadian company reported increased revenue and earnings. However, since I don't have so much data I would like to review before commenting, I am left literally in the dark on this stock and would find a company with more information I could evaluate before making a comment one way or another!

PHEW....that was a long post, and I was JUST answering some comments. Thanks so much for bearing with me. If you have any comments, questions, or words of encouragement, please feel free to email me at bobsadviceforstocks@lycos.com . And please remember to VOTE!

Bob


Posted by bobsadviceforstocks at 10:22 PM CDT | Post Comment | Permalink

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