VCA Antech (NASDAQ:WOOF) Founded in 1986, WOOF is the largest operator of freestanding, full-service animal hospitals and veterinary diagnostic labs in the U.S. With over 370 pet hospitals and 1,200 vets, the firm handled almost 5 million patient visits in 2005. The firm traded publicly for 9 years but after the company ran up a huge debt load to fund an acquisition spree in the late 1990s, a private investment group purchased and recapitalized the firm in 2000. But VCA Antech got hungry in 2001 and went public once more. We think WOOF is a great way to play the Pet Boom without taking on any dangerous exposure to the retail industry (PetMedExpress (NASDAQ:PETS), PETsMART (NASDAQ:PETM), etc).
Black and Decker (BDK) Black & Decker operates in three segments: power tools and accessories, hardware and home improvement, and fastening and assembly systems. Power tools and accessories are marketed under brand names including DeWalt, Black & Decker, Porter Cable, and Delta. Hardware brands include Kwikset, Baldwin, Weiser, and Price Pfister. The fastening and assembly systems segment sells highly engineered solutions to automakers. We applaud the firm's decision to move its manufacturing from higher-cost plants in the US to lower-cost facilities in Mexico, China, and the Czech Republic and would gladly invest in the #1 tool maker on any weakness.
Immucor (NASDAQ:BLUD) Immucor develops reagents and systems used for cell and serum blood tests performed by hospitals, clinical laboratories, and blood-donation centers. Its products are mainly used to screen blood prior to transfusions. Such procedures include identification of donor blood types, detection of blood-group or platelet antibodies, and paternity and prenatal tests. Immucor also produces medical instruments that automate blood-compatibility tests. The firm has a terrific business model, we think, and we like that Immucor markets directly through distribution agreements and has thus become a more competitive force. BLUD -- which coughs up 34% operating margins -- has $37M in cash and just $3M in long term debt.
PF Chang Bistro (NASDAQ:PFCB) PF Chang's owns and operates two restaurant concepts in the Asian niche. The Bistro chain consists of 131 full-service restaurants, which feature Chinese cuisine in a contemporary setting. Entrees at the Bistro range in price from $8 to $19, and the average check per guest is $18-$19. The Pei Wei concept, with 68 units, features a more modest menu of Asian cuisine, offering counter service and takeout food. The stock trades at 24 x EPS, which looks about right to us, given that the firm has grown earnings between 4 and 15% over the last 36 months. We expect more of the same from PFCB in the second half of this year-- aggressive expansion.
Psychiatric Solutions (OTCPK:PSYS) Psychiatric Solutions owns and operates 58 psychiatric facilities with more than 6,600 beds in 27 states. Its facilities offer children, adolescents, and adults short-term intensive care in its acute hospitals and long-term care in its residential treatment centers. In addition to operating its own facilities, PSI has 49 contracts to manage facilities for government agencies and to develop behavioral health-care programs for hospitals. We like the firm's 88% gross margins but feel the stock is adequately valued at 36 x EPS and see only modest upside in the back half of '06.