I thought we might be done for the year … but before we turn out the lights here at Gumshoe HQ for our Christmas week vacation, I couldn’t resist sharing one last teaser tidbit for you — after all, if you’re thinking about what to do with your money next year, what could be better than a promise to “double your money in 2012?”
That’s the pitch given by the Cabot Stock of the Month folks in their latest teaser ad … but I have to start you off with a bit of a caveat.
That’s because we’ve sniffed out similarly pitched teaser stocks before from Cabot — which look similar, promise the same kind of “double your money, guaranteed” action, and compare their hot new stock pick to their very successful selection of First Solar (presumably this means they recommended First Solar in 2007 — it’s been a trainwreck for most of the time since, and particularly for this year … enough so that I wonder whether their marketers realize what a bad taste FSLR leaves in investors’ mouths).
And of those previous Cabot Stock of the Month “guaranteed double” picks, can you estimate how many of them have actually doubled? Need a pencil? It’s OK, I’ll wait.
Yep, it’s “zero.”
There have been four stocks that were heavily teased with this “guaranteed double or your money back” pitch this year (or at least, four that caught our attention enough to feature them here in the pages of Stock Gumshoe): MercadoLibre (MELI), Seaspan (SSW), LDK Solar (LDK), and Sky-Mobi (MOBI). Only one of those has had a positive return, MELI’s 7% or so gain since June, the others are down pretty harshly for an average loss across the four of about 40%.
So the Chicago Cubs fans out there will have only one answer: they’re due. And I must admit, being a Detroit Lions fan myself, that I’ve got a certain sympathy for that sentiment.
Cabot’s Stock of the Month picks are pretty unlikely to be huge gainers in a weak market — most of the Cabot newsletters rely heavily on their own momentum screening that tends to pick out stocks that are market darlings and growing fast, not too different from folks like Louis Navellier, and when things get hinky in the market sometimes those stocks don’t exactly shoot out the lights. Sometimes they work very, very well, of course — and even in a weak market, genuinely outstanding growth will always be rewarded, so let’s give them another chance and see what pick they’re teasing as we close out the year.
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“Like First Solar, this company is also riding the wave of profit growth—but it’s in the biotech industry.
“You need only look at this company’s breakthrough cures for multiple sclerosis, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and rheumatoid arthritis to understand why our December Stock of the Month could be the biggest profit maker of all.
“That’s because this company’s profits are virtually protected from competition under the little-known Orphan Drug Act of 1983, which not only gives drug companies tax incentives for developing drugs for small market diseases but also enhances patent protection and marketing rights.”
A few more details? Naturally …
“… the company’s orphan drugs have as much as a 40% market share in the U.S. and a 30% market share in Europe.
“And why the company’s earnings rose another 38% last quarter, while the stock gained 71% in 12 months.
“Most importantly, this is why the company has handed investors total returns of 2,722% since 1996 for an annual average return of 181%.”
Sounds pretty good, right?
Well, we fire up the Thinkolator for one last time in 2011, let it rev a few times to impress the neighbors, and we find that this is … Biogen Idec (BIIB)
Which is a blast from the past — I remember lots of deep throated hollering about BIIB from six or seven years ago, when they were just emerging as a biotech with real products. The stock continually was a target of potential takeover, a suitor of other companies, an activist hedge fund punching bag, and a pretty weak performer, considering their products and their big target markets, for most of that time (their huge returns came about 12-15 years ago, when their key discoveries and approvals started to impact the stock). The stock has traded around between roughly $40 and $60 for most of the past five or six years, breaking out this year to almost double to about $110, where it now stands.
Which is why the Cabot folks love it, I presume — they seem to delight in finding a stock that has already had huge market returns, that has had analyst upgrades, and that is showing earnings and stock price momentum. The argument is, for the overly simplistic among us, that stocks that are going up will continue to go up. Which often works, despite the fact that your friendly neighborhood Gumshoe tends to want to be more of clearance rack shopper.
Biogen Idec did post 38% earnings growth last quarter, and has had gains of roughly 70% this year. Analysts appear to think that their growth is about to slow (from about 20% a year over the last five years, to about 10% a year for the next five), but predicting earnings growth five years out owes at least as much to magic as it does to MBAs. The current valuation is higher than BIIB’s valuation has been for a while, with a trailing PE of 23 (forward PE is about 17), so you’re paying up a bit for that potential growth right now.
I don’t know anything about Biogen’s pipeline, but they are still focused enough on their relatively few core disease areas (as teased) and their lead products that any big news, either good or bad, can certainly move the company dramatically even though they’re now legitimately one of the biotech “big boys” with a market cap of better than $25 billion.
And I’ve got tinsel calling to me, so you’ll have to go forth and researchify this one on your lonesome — what do you think, primed for another double in the new year, or has the stock gotten ahead of itself? Let us know.
Please have a wonderful Christmas this weekend, if that’s your holiday — and a spectacular New Year no matter which way your holiday weathervane points. We’ll be back in about ten days, fully refreshed, to blather and bloviate our way through yet another year — thanks for reading!
P.S. I almost forgot to tell you, but thanks so much to all the new Irregulars who joined us earlier in the month and made our charity membership campaign such a huge success — I cut our checks to Hope for the Warriors and the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts last week when the last payments had rolled in, and we were able to give more than $2,000 to each of the charities this year, more than twice as much as we raised last year. That makes all of us here on Gumshoe Mountain really feel the holiday spirit, so thanks again!