By Renee Ann Butler
Great buy ideas can come in from anywhere - small stocks, large stocks, different sectors - it doesn't matter so long as you buy in low and the share price goes up. On my list today, I have a scientific and technical instruments company, a personal products company, and a small tools and accessories company. The only thing these companies really have in common, other than being based in the US and having market caps over $2 billion, is the fact that the consensus opinion on these companies is that each is a Strong Buy.
Agilent Technologies Inc. (A) has a $14.37 billion market cap and is priced at 13.25 times its forward earnings. Over the next five years, analysts estimate Agilent's earnings will grow at an average rate of 12.58% a year. This Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) spin-off has a well-diversified end-market mix with exposure to several non cyclical industries, such as life sciences and chemical analysis. Agilent also has a strong presence in emerging markets and is priced much lower than its peers. Just recently, the company announced a new series of oscilloscopes that are more budget-friendly than many of its other products - about 30% more budget-friendly to be exact - while offering many features not normally available at this price range.
I think this, and other initiatives like it, is going to help Agilent perform even more strongly going forward and, as a result, I recommend this company strongly as a buy. Both Ray Dalio (check out his Bridgewater Associates portfolio here) and Joel Greenblatt cut their positions in the company during the first quarter, when the stock's price averaged at $38.52, but I think that was premature. Right now, Agilent is trading at $41.46 a share and has a mean one-year price target of $52.08.
Nu Skin Enterprises (NUS) is a $2.75 billion market cap company with a forward price to earnings ratio of 15.17. Consensus estimates put Nu Skin's earnings growing at a rate of 12.90% per annum, on average, over the next five years. This company has strong revenue growth, solid stock performance and reasonable debt. In early May, the company announced a $250 million extension to its ongoing share repurchase program, which will further add shareholder value. In late April, Nu Skin reported beating Q1 performance estimates and Q2 guidance in line with the Street. Overall, this company looks like a solid performer. Chuck Royce's Royce & Associates is a big fan of Nu Skin and I share the sentiment. Right now, it is trading at $42.82 with a mean one-year price target of $62.38.
Lincoln Electric Holdings (LECO) is a $4.07 billion market cap company with a forward price to earnings ratio of 17.51. Consensus estimates put Lincoln Electric's earnings growing at a rate of 15.57% per annum, on average, over the next five years. In mid-May, the company acquired Wayne Trail Technologies - which should help Lincoln Electric build up its position in the metal processing market at large and the welding automation market in particular.
The Wayne Trail purchase is well-timed too. As the economy begins to improve, there will be more companies looking for ways to meet increased demand, and automation is going to be one of the ways for that happens. Lincoln Electric also has a solid financial position, even after the acquisition. Right now, the company is trading at $47.52 a share and carries a mean one-year target estimate of $58.58. I think that could be conservative and it appears Joel Greenblatt agrees. The fund manager added 22.05% to his position in the company during the first quarter, after opening the holding initially in Q4 2011 (see what else Gotham Asset Management is buying here).