Have you been waiting for a market correction? If so, you certainly aren't the only one. While it seems that we are due according to historical market patterns, if I have learned anything in the past 6 years it is that what is supposed to happen could very well not happen. Especially considering the situation the U.S. is in: unprecedented monetary policy, pitiful interest rates, chronic long-term unemployment and political gridlock not to mention the European economic crisis and slowdown in Asia (and a possibly massive real estate bubble in China).
The fact is that no one can tell you with any confidence where we are heading. Simply, there is no precedent for current economic conditions. Although some comparison can be made to the Great Depression, the truth is that the situation now, while not as bad in the U.S. at least (Greece, Spain, etc. are a different story), is much more complicated due to a more complex global economy.
However, it is always a good time to analyze stocks. If a correction does happen, why not be prepared? Here are 3 stocks that I am beginning to research. In my opinion, they aren't good value now but could be given a modest correction. If a correction doesn't happen in the near future, at least there are five more companies that are known commodities in my investing universe.
Kraft Foods Group (KRFT) - Since the breakup of Kraft into two companies, the fast-growing snack business Mondelez (MDLZ) and the stable grocery isle stalwart KRFT, I have had my eye on both companies. While Mondelez certainly would be pegged as the sexy choice, I actually am more interested in KRFT, with its nice dividend of $0.50 a quarter (at the closing on May 22nd of $56.95, KRFT yield 3.5%) and its solid business, which I think, according to my preliminary research, could grow 100 to 200 basis points more than analysts expect. Producing around $2.5 billion in free cash flow last year, KRFT needs little in the way of capital expenditures to maintain its market position with some of the best brands in the grocery aisle such as Cracker Barrel, Jell-O and Oscar Meyer.
Unfortunately, the stock has climbed about 12% in less than a month, no doubt due to investors hunt for yield and the rising market. With a current P/E of 21 and a forward P/E forecast of 18, KRFT looks too richly priced considering an investor could buy MDLZ at similar ratios which the potential growth of MDLZ could justify. I don't feel that even the rosiest of growth assumptions could justify the current price of KRFT. Hopefully, the market will change that soon. Also, KRFT is carrying a higher debt load than I usually like to see so analyzing the structure of its debt will be a priority.
Cal-Maine Foods Inc (CALM) - According to the CALM website, it is the largest producer and marketer of shell eggs in the United States. In fiscal 2012, the company sold more than 884 million eggs representing about 19% of U.S. consumption. While I haven't begun digging into the CALM annual reports, it seems that the egg business is probably not as complicated as say nanotechnology, which is a good thing. Very much like KRFT, CALM requires little in the way of capital expenditures, leaving room for dividends and share buybacks when appropriate.
However, it appears that the dividend is a bit volatile year to year, which will need further research. As of the writing of this article, CALM has a dividend yield of 3.8% (closing price of $43.79 and a yearly dividend of $1.69/share). The only concern that I have come across in my brief overview of the company is a seven person board with only three outside directors. While not necessarily a deal breaker, my continuing research will include particular scrutiny of the board and management.
BankUnited (BKU) - Judging by some figures and ratios in my initial research, BKU could actually be a good buy at its current price but comparing it to some much smaller community banks that are really cheap, I can't quite place it on the buy now list (with the money most of us are working with, we have the luxury to do such varied comparisons). For those who don't know, BKU is a Florida based bank taken over by the FDIC in 2009 a purchased by a consortium of private equity heavyweights including Blackstone and Carlyle as well as John Kanas, who was integral in selling North Fork Bank to Capital One and took over as CEO. The new owners eventually took the company public and were famously unsuccessful in their public shopping of the company to potential buyers. While the owners/managements desire to sell has died down, at least in public, they have been pretty clear in their intent. It appears that the consortium has a better chance to get its original desired price, or closer to it, in the high 30 dollar range as the economy continues to improve and markets stay strong. However, at its current price of $24.85, BKU is selling below its IPO price and is paying a 3.3% dividend.
One big reason that BKU looks so appealing is the sweetheart deal it received from the FDIC, with the federal government covering the first $2 billion in loan losses on the acquired assets. While this doesn't cover subsequent loans made after the acquisition, CEO Kanas has a pretty good record of being a smart banker, which means it would be surprising if lending standards haven't been improved. Also, for the past two years, BKU has generated a net interest margin (difference between the rate on money lent and money borrowed) of over 6% and the ratio of non performing, non covered loans (not covered by the FDIC) to total non covered loans is 0.43% reinforcing the idea of stronger loan quality at BKU. BKU also recently entered the New York market which could mean that management is not so eager to sell or it is looking to add value in hopes of achieving a strong price down the road. Either way, BKU is definitely a candidate for further research.