Navellier’s “Ultimate Growth” Picks for the End of the Earnings Recession

What's Navellier teasing in Gold, RVs and Social Networking?

By Travis Johnson, Stock Gumshoe, October 27, 2016

With everyone in a tizzy about the election, the urge is strong to find stocks that don’t care about politics… if there are such things. Or, at least, to find stocks that have meaningful growth “stories” that don’t depend on the specifics of a rate hike or a quarterly GDP growth rate.

So today we turn to a teaser pitch from Louis Navellier, who has been using his quant-driven screening system to pick portfolios of “beat and raise” growth stocks for decades… with, generally, very good results in bull markets and very bad results in bear markets, which is more or less what you’d expect of a momentum growth investment style where you buy things because, to oversimplify, “they’re going up.”

Navellier always has dozens of stocks that match his screens and serve as official “recommendations” in his portfolios, but he teases out a few that he apparently considers notable in his latest ad for his Ultimate Growth service… so let’s see if we can ID those for you and give you a taste of what kind of stocks he thinks will be profitable in the months ahead.

Ultimate Growth seems to have replaced his old Quantum Growth service, and it focuses on smaller-cap stocks — and like Quantum Growth was, it’s pretty expensive (about $2,800/year).

He is generally talking up a few points in this ad — he talks about the potential crisis brewing with the US Election, which he says holds out the risk of a “Brexit 2.0” response if Trump wins or does extremely well, since that would shock Wall Street; he reiterates the concern we constantly hear about rising rates being obsessed about by fund managers, who are all holding record amounts of cash because they’re afraid of risk… and, because this is Navellier we’re talking about and he’s always looking for the growth story, he says that the “earnings recession is about to end.” Here’s a bit on that:

“… after six straight quarters of negative sales and five straight quarters of negative earnings, there will be another major shift dead ahead…

“This earnings recession is about to end.

“In fact, third quarter earnings growth would be positive for S&P500 stocks it weren’t for the continued drag from troubled energy stocks.

“And sales are expected to be positive in the third quarter after six straight quarters of negative sales.

“That’s great news, but as usual, Wall Street has gotten WAY ahead of itself.

“Analysts are now forecasting 2017 earnings growth of 17% for the S&P500.

“That is pure fantasy land!

“While the picture is improving, double-digit earnings growth for the average S&P500 stock next year is highly unlikely.

“But it is VERY likely for the stocks on my buy list today.”

And then, of course, because he loves me and he wants me to be happy, he includes some hints about just what those stocks are on his buy list today.

Here’s the first bit of clueishness:

“Every one of my superior growth stocks offers sustained sales and earnings growth. I’m talking about REAL sales and earnings growth, not growth that’s achieved by cost cutting or stock buybacks.

“Take one of my favorite technology stocks for example. Technology is driven by two things today — smartphones and social media. While not every company will become ‘the next Facebook’, there are certainly some rising stars to watch.

“And my next pick is one of the leading candidates to take charge in the social network space. It just closed the books on an acquisition that gives it eight million monthly active users and a big boost in revenue. In the second quarter it’s earnings surged 300% year-over-year. Now that this acquisition is complete, profitability should jump again.”

I don’t know if you’re processing these numbers, but eight million monthly active users is really, really small in the context of publicly traded social media companies. I’d have a hard time taking that seriously as “leading candidate to take charge” performance, unless it happens to be in a very lucrative and advertising-driven niche (like travel, for example — though even TripAdvisor likely has several hundred million users, not necessarily all monthly users). Certainly in terms of general social networks, 8 million doesn’t get you very far — that’s less than 10% the size of niche employment network LinkedIn, and 3% of the size of floundering Twitter.

So who is it? Well, the one that is highly ranked by Navellier’s quantitative system, just closed an acquisition that gives it 8 million monthly active users (OK, 8.5 million), and has posted strong earnings growth recently is… MeetMe (MEET). Which they call a “social discovery” service but is, in terms of user interests, mostly a low-end advertising supported dating/matchmaking app.

But it didn’t exactly post 300% earnings gains year over year in their last quarterly release — the gains were dramatically higher than that, mostly because of a huge non-cash item (taxes) that boosted the bottom line. If you just go by their more reasonable non-GAAP numbers, they posted nine cents a share in earnings in that quarter. That’s still not 300% growth from the three cents per share they posted in the year-ago second quarter, but it is a triple — and sometimes copywriters call that 300% growth (it’s actually 200% growth, since you take the original number and add 200% to it to get to a triple… but we’ll let it go).

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So I expect Navellier is touting MEET here, and it is highly rated in his Portfolio Grader system, you can see that scorecard here. It’s not really my cup of tea, but maybe the fact that two big publishers are now pushing it at least a little bit means it’s getting more investor attention — you can see my thoughts on MEET in the article I wrote about Keith Fitz-Gerald’s teaser pitch about that stock a couple weeks ago.

Another one?

“This Brexit volatility has another one of my top earnings monsters sitting well below my recommended buy price. My “boring” components manufacturer bolted 5% higher in August after posting a massive 80% jump in year-over-year earnings growth. That was a huge earnings surprise, beating estimates by 12%.

“And I expect them to beat estimates on both sales and earnings estimates again this quarter. Which is why you should get on board before they announce earnings November 3!”

This one is Drew Industries (DW), and the components they make are for RVs and manufactured homes — so you can pretty quickly guess what the big-picture drivers are for them (RV sales and home sales). There are only a couple analysts covering the stock, but they do expect mid-teens revenue growth to continue this year and taper off to 9-10% growth in revenue next year.

And, in what always catches Navellier’s eye, they have beaten the expectations of those analysts for a few quarters in a row — including a result that was 12% higher than analyst estimates last time out. And they do report on November 3, an extremely busy day in the earnings calendar.

Drew is a relatively sleepy $2 billion company, the stock has only perked up and gotten volatile over the past few years… but they’ve been around since the 1960s, dabbling in lots of different businesses but gradually concentrating on vinyl windows and other building materials that have been most of the core of their business over the past 20 years. They’ve slowly gobbled up little companies that make roofing and other building supplies and RV parts, and just this week they bought the Atwood seating and chassis business to further grow that segment, so it looks like RV components are really the core of the business now. I don’t know much else about the business, but their latest quarterly presentation is here if you’d like a look-see… and yes, it does get a high rating in Navellier’s system.

Perhaps a little more?