Superlatives are synonymous with great high school memories, or maybe not so great for some; either way, at the time they feel vital in determining your future. In an attempt to immortalize what could be a great, or very bad, year for stocks we have outlined what we see as the 2013 superlatives for the stock market.
Most likely to succeed: This stock should see a rebound in 2013 after a serious down year in 2012. Chesapeake Energy Corporation (NYSE:CHK) is our pick for most likely to succeed. The stock was down 30% in 2012 as solvency and liquidity concerns were brought to light.
The liquidity and solvency of the company has pushed the stock down as much as 50% from its 2012 peak:
The oil and gas company has managed to load itself down with debt by aggressively acquiring assets, now holding 15 million U.S. onshore net acres. Chesapeake has also managed to grow to the second largest natural gas producer in the U.S. The recent focus, and key focus of 2013, will be monetizing assets and reducing debt. With the shift toward a liquid-rich portfolio, the plan is to decrease natural gas production 7% in 2013. The downtrend in natural gas prices has in part caused Chesapeake to transition its capital expenditure allocation liquids.
Although it is fairly obvious that all of Chesapeake's problems will not be fully addressed in 2013, the real question is whether the pressure on its stock has been overdone. The true value of the stock is its high-quality assets. Chesapeake believes its net-asset value is upwards of $60 billion, and represents a per share value of $75 on the low-end. Oppenheimer suggests the net-asset value could be in the range of $39-$63 per share. Both of these values are well above the current stock price of $18.50.
Upcoming catalysts for the stock include the selling off assets and finally shifting to monetizing its robust asset portfolio. With the backing of activist hedge funds Carl Icahn and Southeastern Asset Management we believe these goals will be reached sooner rather than later. Even though the company is shifting more toward a liquid-rich portfolio, it still has a lot of exposure to natural gas, which is a good thing. Natural gas consumption in the U.S. is expected to help drive the company higher.
Most likely to never leave home: This superlative is for companies that are highly unlikely to fundamentally change their business models, and as a result are likely to remain in a tight trading range for 2013. The top stock that will continue to struggle in 2013 is Yahoo! (NASDAQ:YHOO). Yahoo's focus has been on e-mail and search. These segments have been Yahoo's strong suits over the years, but Google has been taking market share in both areas. In an effort to combat its decline in the search market, Yahoo has been selling off certain assets in an effort to return to its core operations.
Yahoo continues to be a player in the online advertising market, which is one of the most attractive growth markets today, but is expected to taper off over the longer-term; dropping to 8.9% in 2015 and 7.8% in 2016. Although a pivot would be in the best interest of the tech company, new CEO - Marissa Mayer - insists that a pivot is not needed. This mindset will likely keep the stock under $25 per share through 2013. Yahoo trades on the low end at first glance, with a trailing price to earnings ratio of only 6.2 times. Looking deeper, it appears that Yahoo trades rather high on a price to sales and forward price to earnings basis, making it a bit overvalued:
Price to Sales
Price to Earnings (forward)
Most likely to be president: This stock that is most likely to continue its world domination and continue capturing global market share, which should translate into solid stock price appreciation. Our pick is Starbucks Corporation (NASDAQ:SBUX), the premier coffer retailer in the world, which sells via 17,000 stores globally. The coffee company's revenues are expected to be up as much as 12% in fiscal year 2013 (ending Sept.), and same-store sales up 5.5%.
The U.S. operations still account for 66% of revenues, but part of what makes Starbucks a compelling pick for 2013 is its plans to expand overseas rapidly. The store opening targets for 2013 are in the range of 1200 to 1300, and are centered on acceleration in China. The company believes China will become its second-largest market by 2014.
Starbucks is also working its way into the ready brew market and infringing on Green Mountain's territory with Starbucks K-Cups. That market alone has an $8 billion market opportunity. The other initiatives for Starbucks includes its move to appeal to health-conscious consumers, which spurred the opening of its first Evolution Fresh juice store. Other major ventures include the boosting of its food offerings. Starbucks acquired La Boulange in late-2012 and should be able to efficiently spread the French bakery concept across the U.S.
Starbucks has one of the best balance sheets in the industry and some of the top growth opportunities:
Debt to Equity
5-Yr. EPS Growth (the Street estimates)
Starbucks trades at a 30.4 times trailing earnings, but only 20.8 times forward earnings. Its forward price to earnings ratio is 11.8% below the industry average, while its 18% long-term expected earnings growth rate is tops.
McDonald's Corporation (NYSE:MCD) was a second runner up for this category. Holding McDonald's back is its weakening performance and slow growth in Asian markets. The global same store sales has been unsavory for some time. McDonald's seems to only be crawling forward with same store sale growth of 1.9% in the third quarter of 2012. The price to earnings to growth ratio (a measure of how expensive the growth is on a per share basis - the lower the better) for McDonald's is at 2.0, while Starbucks comes in at only 1.6.
Part 2 will include: Most likely to leave home after high school, most likely to get married, most likely to end up in jail, most likely to have ten kids.
Disclosure: I am long SBUX, CHK. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.