Hard to believe that 6 months have passed in this 2012 year. The year has flown by for me, especially these last couple of months. I welcomed my first child, a beautiful son, into the world in June. June also represents the time to look back at my top ten stock picks for 2012 and their half year performance. Overall, the 10 picks returned 20.66% for the first half. Two of the companies are now in the negative territory, up from the one in the first quarter.
Here are the links to the picks for the year, followed by their performance.
Activision Blizzard, Inc (NASDAQ:ATVI)
First Half: $11.99 + $0.18 = $12.17
Activision trades above the beginning year range, thanks to an announcement to bring Call of Duty to China. The new deal utilizes a partnership with Tencent, China's biggest online gaming company, to bring the best selling game to the most populous country in an online version. Highly anticipated Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 will hit the stores on November 13. I argued in May that there was a buying opportunity in shares of Activision. A new expansion pack from World of Warcraft, a new Spyro game, and a growing number of subscribers in Call of Duty Elite were all reasons given. Shares were beat down prior to the China news, thanks to renewed talks of parent company Vivendi selling its stake in Activision Blizzard. Shares will swing a lot until the Vivendi deal works out, but hopefully long-term shareholders will be rewarded.
Dreamworks Animation SKG Inc (NASDAQ:DWA)
First Half: $19.06
Madagascar 3 has made $426 million in worldwide box office revenue. The movie, which had a $60 million opening weekend, has made $182 million in the United States. The domestic box office has already passed the amount made by the second installment of Madagascar movies. The company's only other release in 2012 comes out on November 21. The movie, Rise of the Guardians, is a new movie based on a children's book series about fairy tale heroes fighting the Boogeyman. I think the results from the movie could bring shares down and the company has more to lose with a new movie franchise than gain. I recently wrote about Dreamworks being a possible winner in a deal to bring American made movies to a streaming service in China. It is deals like China and a recent deal with Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) that could help the company so dependent on two to three movies a year.
Recommendation: Short Term Hold, Long Term Buy
EXACT Sciences Corporation (NASDAQ:EXAS)
First Half: $10.72
Shares of Exact Sciences have already passed my start of the year target price of $10.50. In April, I raised my target to $16. The company's Cologuard detects colorectal cancer before it hits later phases that are harder to treat. Prostate exams have been one of the tests men fear the most, keeping rates of up to date testing low. A new, less painful and awkward, testing method could save insurance companies and patients billions of dollars. See the company's most recent investor presentation to get a better grasp of the company. Exact Sciences is scheduled to submit for FDA approval and its shares could skyrocket on news of approval.
Recommendation: Strong Buy
Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F)
First Half: $9.59 + $0.10 = $9.69
Ford shares are extremely pressured right now from fears of weakened sales in Europe. After a strong four months, shares hit below the $11 range in May and are now testing the $10 level. Shares appear to be stuck in the $9-$10 range based on Europe. The company did post strong vehicle sales this week, which could help shares short term. I think shares are a good long term bet, but they might not break-even on the year.
Recommendation: Short Term Sell, Long Term Buy
Hexcel Corporation (NYSE:HXL)
First Half: $25.79
The company has components on all kinds of equipment. I picked the stock as a catalyst based on the new Dreamliner from The Boeing Company (NYSE:BA). The new Dreamliner sees several parts made by Hexcel, and the launch of the plane this year I thought could send shares higher. Up 6.5%, Hexcel is ahead of Boeing (-0.01%) for the first six months of the year. My previous articles about Hexcel shows my long-term bullish case for the stock. I stand behind my $30 price target for shares of Hexcel and think shares should still be acquired.
IMAX Corporation (NYSE:IMAX)
First Half: $24.03
IMAX has a strong lineup for the next couple of months with The Amazing Spider Man, The Dark Knight Rises, and Ice Age: Continental Drift. The company also has the newest James Bond movie and the highly anticipated The Hobbit movie, a follow-up to the popular Lord of the Rings movie trilogy. Along with a great lineup of 2012 movies, IMAX also has a five-year plan for expansion into international markets, which I wrote about here. After hitting $19 at the beginning of June, shares are now on a tear heading close to a new 52-week high. Strong returns could be coming with reported numbers from any of the blockbuster movies on the large screens. I think shares are approaching Hold levels, but still a Buy at this level.
Local.com Corporation (NASDAQ:LOCM)
First Half: $2.42
Local.com owns over 1,000 national and regional websites. The company is a smaller player in the search websites playing field. The company just hit record traffic in May, with 14.1 million monthly users. Monthly users were up 51% from the prior year's traffic numbers. Mobile traffic is increasing as well for Local.com. Traffic was up over 368% to 6.5 million views in May. Shares of Local.com remain cheap as the company continues to acquire companies, expand its reach, and grow partnerships with large internet companies. The company is also a strong buyout target.
NCR Corporation (NYSE:NCR)
First Half: $22.73
NCR continues to be a great pick on the 2012 year. After gaining 32% in the first quarter of the year, shares are up another 6% and have become my second best performing stock on the year. In April, I highlighted NCR and its new initiatives to grow. Some of the new segments include the travel industry with airport check-in services, and also partnerships in hospitality. Shares are hitting levels not seen since 2007. The company is a great play with diversification across financial, hospitality, travel, and retail, but I would wait for a slight pullback.
Seadrill Limited (NYSE:SDRL)
First Half: $35.52 + $1.77 = $37.29
I selected Seadrill for three main reasons: dividend yield, newer rigs, and increased drilling in deepwater. The dividends (0.80, 0.97) were higher this year than in recent quarterly periods. Also, Seadrill has been spinning off assets and is working on a spinoff to shareholders. The company is a leader in oil rigs and with strong relationships with many oil companies, great things are here to stay. If you need a strong yielding stock or an oil play, this might be the one for the second half of 2012.
Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated (NASDAQ:VRTX)
First Half: $55.92
Vertex is the biggest winner for me in the first half of the year. The company saw its cystic fibrosis drug Kalydeco approved, which was one of three reasons I picked the stock at the start of the year. The other two reasons (full year of Incivek sales, shares beaten down in 2011) have also seen positive increases for the stock. Investors are finally realizing the company's value. Vertex shares were actually up 100% on the year back in May. Shares have taken a beating after less-than-stellar reported results from a cystic fibrosis drug cocktail. Vertex shares are down over 20% from year highs now, and may represent the last chance for investors to get in to the company on the cheap. Vertex now has two potential blockbuster drugs approved in Incivek and Kalydeco. In the company's pipeline are Phase II drugs for Hepatitis C, cystic fibrosis, inflammatory disease, epilepsy, and influenza. Vertex has a bright future, and shareholders should benefit as full sales of the company's drugs are reported.
Recommendation: Strong Buy
The first half of the year was great for my stock picks. Some of the companies have exposure to Europe, which could impact the performance in the second half of the year. I think total return on the year should fall around 18-30%, representing a higher upside than potential negative return.
Additional disclosure: Author may also initiate a long position in EXAS or LOCM in the next 72 hours.