By Larry Gellar
I have identified five stocks that have been sparking high investor interest recently due to recent events impacting each company. While Corning (NYSE:GLW), Huntington (NASDAQ:HBAN) and EMC (NYSE:EMC) are well positioned for dividend growth in the coming quarters, Sirius XM (NASDAQ:SIRI) and Micron (NASDAQ:MU) are two stocks that have been facing tough headwinds like disappointing revenues, a new CEO and a disrupted supply chain due to the recent flooding in Thailand. These developing stories are making investors uneasy about jumping into these companies. In this article, I will make recommendations to investors looking at these five candidates for investment based on the recent events impacting each company.
Sirius XM Radio Inc. recently reported earnings for the fourth quarter - net income was $71.3 million, in line with Wall Street's expectations, while revenue was a bit disappointing at $3.01 billion. Regardless, net subscriber additions were up 65% year-over-year to 542,996, and the company's price increase in January doesn't appear to be scaring away too many customers. On the other hand, I still find it hard to believe in the Sirius XM story. The current price to earnings ratio of 53.62 implies that Sirius XM still has an enormous amount of growth ahead of it. While the company will obviously continue to grab new subscribers, I don't know if these shares are worth the $2.15 price tag they're currently trading at. After all, I believe that most people who are interested in satellite radio have already signed up for Sirius XM. Another thing that investors need to consider is that the current price for Sirius XM shares implies that Sirius XM enjoys some sort of monopoly. While Sirius XM is virtually the only provider of satellite radio, there are a variety of similar options (Spotify, Pandora (NYSE:P), iHeartRadio, traditional providers like Cumulus One (NASDAQ:CMLS) and Westwood One (NASDAQ:WWON)) that figure to steal market share on some level. I would hold off on buying this stock for now.
Corning Incorporated just released an exciting new video that has both investors and technophiles drooling over the future of glass. While many of the products shown in that video aren't currently being sold, Chief Technology Officer Pete Bocko says all of the products are being researched in some shape or form. Mr. Bocko also had this to say: "The fastest growth (for Corning) in the short-term will come from touchscreens for electronic devices. The question is whether we can get the cost down for these larger implementations." In my opinion, Mr. Bocko is being conservative, which means investors can profit by buying Corning now while the best innovations are still being worked on. Corning stock even offers a dividend yield of 2.2%, and I'm seeing trends on the statement of cash flows that suggest a dividend increase could be coming. With operating cash inflow of $3.189 billion in 2011, Corning had some enough money left over to buy back stock. If the company keeps finding itself with extra cash, it may choose to return that value to shareholders by increasing the dividend. Corning also recently predicted that the company would have $10 billion of sales in 2014, which is definitely an exciting milestone. I rate Corning a buy right now.
Huntington Bancshares is a Midwestern bank. The company just announced what should be a lucrative partnership with Ohio State University, in which Huntington will become the school's official bank for the next 15 years. While Huntington is required to make a large donation to the university as well as an even larger investment in the community, I think Huntington will come out a better bank for making this deal. As one of the most well known universities in the nation, Ohio State University is perhaps the best school possible that Huntington could've made this deal with. Huntington CEO Stephen Steinour is also optimistic about opportunities for the bank in Michigan. In fact, he recently told The Detroit Free Press, "(Huntington is) very well-capitalized, and we are prepared to commit that money to southeast Michigan." Huntington is so well capitalized that it currently has a dividend yield of 2.7% despite the fact that many other banks have subdued dividends right now. Huntington might even increase dividends soon. The bank has been aggressively paying down debt, but at some point, it will probably desire to return more value to shareholders. $526.04 million of debt was paid off in the first three quarters of 2011. I believe Huntington is a buy right now, and will increase its dividend very soon.
EMC Corporation's chief operating officer, Pat Gelsinger, just told Bloomberg some revealing comments about CEO Joe Tucci's eventual retirement. "He's just having a good time, he's healthy, the business is going well. We can manage the transitions over time." To be more exact, Mr. Tucci was thinking about retiring but has now decided to stay for at least another year. That should keep investors excited because EMC is in a bit of transition mode right now. The company is still working on integrating its new subsidiary Isilon Systems, and new acquisitions are probably coming this year as well. EMC also just announced interesting new plans for Russia. Indeed, the company will create a center for R&D in the Skolkovo Foundation's Innovation Hub, with the focus being on cloud solutions and new technologies for Bioinformatics and Energy Efficiency. These developments are certainly exciting, and EMC is trading at a reasonable price right now. For instance, the price/earnings to growth ratio of 1.01 is lower than similar companies like Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) and IBM (NYSE:IBM). High margins also help make this an attractive stock - gross margin is 61.15% and operating margin is 18.00%. For these reasons, I rate this stock a buy right now.
Micron Technology, Inc. stated that Mark Durcan will become the new CEO despite an announcement not too long ago that he was planning on retiring. Durcan figures to be the best choice due to his long history with the company and similar executive style to Appleton, although it's worth noting that Mark Adams was at one point expected to be the next CEO. Micron is in a better place than it was a few months ago, although effects are still being felt from the floods in Thailand, which disrupted global supply chains for the computing industry. I think investors would be best served staying away from this stock for the time being. For a price to sales ratio of 0.93, Micron stock really isn't a bargain due to the mess that the company is currently going through. In fact, net income for the past 12 months has been negative $175 million, so a turnaround is still needed. I would recommend avoiding this stock for now until we see a turnaround.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.