Earnings Deliver a Buy and a Sell

11/09/2012 7:45 am EST


Jack Adamo

Editor, Jack Adamo's Insiders Plus

As earnings continue to roll out, the news has generated enough infomation to spark a sell for one stock and boost enthusiasm for another, observes Jack Adamo of Insiders Plus.

A large majority of earnings reports from all sectors were bad, and while ours were generally better, some of them disappointed as well.

I won't sell a stock for having a bad quarter or because I don't like the market, but if I have specific reasons that give me pause aside from those, that may tip the balance. That is the case with Avon Products (AVP).

I did not and do not expect a quick turnaround at Avon, and I expected the recent dividend cut. That's why it wasn't in the High Income Portfolio, despite its stated 6.8% yield. Those factors didn't influence this choice. I also still expect the company to come back, despite all its problems.

The new CEO, Sherilyn S. McCoy, certainly has credentials. She has a Master's Degree in chemical engineering from Princeton, an MBA from Rutgers, and previously handled the marketing for Johnson & Johnson's (JNJ) skin care division.

That said, after this quarter, the company is dangerously close to blowing some loan covenants, and while I have no doubt they'll be granted waivers, given Avon's assets, I'd rather take our 6.6% loss and have the cash in this climate.

I wouldn't procrastinate on this. The stock is significantly below its high for the year, so we will probably see pretty heavy tax selling over the next month or so.

Moreover, with the overall earnings climate negative, there should be bargains aplenty sometime in December after a possible post-election rally subsides. We can probably deploy this money in a company with stronger, clearer prospects, while keeping an eye on Avon for possible reinvestment later.

Meanwhile, Companhia de Bebidas das Americas (ABV) had spectacular earnings: up 48.2%, or 80 cents per share, versus 54 cents for the third quarter of 2011. Net sales rose 26.1% including acquisitions, and 15.1% just on an organic growth basis.

My enthusiasm is somewhat tempered by the fact that unit volume growth didn't match sales growth. That indicates that the latter was helped by price increases, which are not as sustainable as unit growth. Still, the company is performing well, and so is the stock.

We're starting to see an economic rebound on ABV's main turf in Brazil, and other parts of its domain have held up pretty well all through the recent sluggish period. We have a nice 9.3% gain since February to hold us through any rough patch we may face in the next few quarters, although I suspect it won't be as bad down there as it is up north.

Ambev is another stock I'm hoping to add to on any significant pullback.

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