Holiday Briefs ...

12/17/2004 12:00 am EST

Focus:

Here are some picks with a holiday twist. Paul Tracy looks at online flower sales; Kevin Kennedy checks out audiobooks; Richard Moroney checks into a spa; Jessica Chiaverini looks at LCDs, and Jim Oberweis finds a play on teddy bears!

(For more on the advisors cited below, please click on their photos.) 

Tracy, Paul "Online flower seller Provide Commerce (PRVD NASDAQ) is the newest addition to our Aggressive Growth Portfolio," notes Paul Tracy of StreetAuthority Market Advisor . "The company delivers its products directly from growers, enabling it to skip the middleman and provide fresher, longer-lasting flowers at lower prices than its competitors. The firm's business model is superb and management has executed extremely well in recent quarters. The stock has gained ground in recent weeks after the firm announced better-than-expected first-quarter earnings. Revenues jumped 53%, increasing from $13 million to $19.9 million. Meanwhile, the firm posted a net loss of about $500,000, or 4 cents a share. That compares to a loss of $750,000, or 39 cents per share, in the year-earlier period. This is a classic case of a small-cap company that is just starting to gain exposure on Wall Street. As it moves from net losses to profitability, this stock should continue to surge"

Moroney, Richard"Steiner Leisure (STNR NASDAQ) is the world’s largest spa provider, with spas and salons on 114 cruise ships and in 63 resorts," notes Richard Moroney, editor of Upside. "The company’s impressive client list includes Carnival Cruise Lines, Hilton Hotels, and Royal Caribbean Cruises. September-quarter per-share earnings were $0.52, up 27% and $0.03 above the consensus estimate, while sales climbed 20%. At the end of September, Steiner had no long-term debt and cash per share of nearly $1.70 on its balance sheet. Looking ahead, strong sales of the company’s higher-margin cosmetic products should bolster results. In addition, favorable trends in personal health and fitness, coupled with solid cruise-industry fundamentals and ship launches, should drive demand for spa services. For 2004, consensus estimates project per-share earnings will surge 35% to $1.95. For 2005, the consensus projects 9% growth to $2.13. Steiner is rated a Best Buy."

Chiaverini, JessicaJessica Chiaverini, contributing editor to  The Prudent Speculator, says, "Taiwan-based AU Optronics (AUO NYSE) designs LCD panels used in a wide array of products including notebook computers and desktop monitors, consumer electronic products such as digital cameras, digital camcorders, and cellular phones, as well as LCD televisions. LCD makers face competitive pressures from other screen technologies, such as plasma and high-resolution projection TVs powered by digital-mirror chips. Nevertheless, the good new is that more-efficient next-generation screen plants are slated to come on line, and by fall 2005 analysts predict that a 40 inch LCD-TV will retail in the $2,000 range, a price at which mass-market purchasing may take off. AUO has dropped about 50% in price from its March-April highs. We think the shares are a good value at the current quotation as the stock now trades for inexpensive multiples of 1.2 times sales, 1.6 times tangible book value, and 8 times estimated 2005 earnings. With a solid balance sheet free of long-term debt, we are buyers of AUO up to $13.46."

Kennedy, Kevin"MediaBay (MBAY NASDAQ), a speculative, low-priced stock, shows the technical characteristics of previous winning stock picks," notes Kevin Kennedy, in The Coolcat Report. "MediaBay is a media marketing company specializing in the $800-million audiobook industry and old-time radio distribution. Its industry-leading content library includes over 50,000 classic radio programs, 3,500 film and television programs and thousands of audiobooks. MediaBay has begun digitizing and encoding its library of spoken word content and expects to make this digitized content available for download on the many evolving music services and content stores that are proliferating on the Internet."

Oberweis, James

"Build-A-Bear Workshop (BBW NYSE) is the leading national retailer of ‘make your own’ stuffed animals, operating over 170 retail stores," notes Jim Oberweis, editor of The Oberweis Report . "The company also licenses its brand to leading makers of greeting cards, children’s books, and toys. Store customers create, personalize, and customize their stuffed animals in an interactive ‘retail-entertainment’ experience, with 30 different styles of animals to be stuffed and a wide variety of clothing, shoes and accessories for their stuffed animals. In the company’s latest reported third quarter, sales rose 39% to $66.5 million from the third quarter of 2003. Build-A-Bear reported earnings per share of $0.19 in the quarter versus $.03 in the same quarter of last year. Build-A-Bear completed their IPO of 1.5 million shares on 10/28/ 04 at $20. Clients of Oberweis Asset Management own about 220,000 shares and we feel these shares may be appropriate for risk-oriented investors."

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