Seeking Alpha

Ashleigh Rogers

 
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PRO Articles
PRO articles cover stocks that fly under most investors' radar screens.
  • China Life Insurance: Rising International Competition And Opaque Financials
     • Mon, Sep. 29 LFC Comment!

    Summary

    • China Life Insurance has a huge developing market opportunity to build on.
    • The firm is not particularly expensive by most metrics and it does have a well-developed infrastructure.
    • Unfortunately, China Life also has many of the typical problems one might associate with the broader Chinese equity markets.
  • MetLife: The Problems Of Being Big
     • Mon, Sep. 29 MET 1 Comment

    Summary

    • MET's SIFI designation is probably here to stay.
    • That does not mean the company cannot do very well in the future.
    • International expansion building on ALICO and rising interest rates should help MET greatly improve earnings in the next few years.
  • Santander And Its Down Hill Slide
     • Mon, Sep. 29 SC 6 Comments

    Summary

    • SC investors have had a very rough year amidst a volatile industry environment.
    • Despite this turmoil, the company has had several important positive developments.
    • Government regulators have looked at the firm, but thus far declined to start any serious investigation or hit the company with significant penalties.
  • First Horizon Is Finally Worth Buying
     • Mon, Sep. 29 FHN Comment!

    Summary

    • First Horizon's turnaround now looks more convincing with the company past several lawsuit hurdles.
    • The company's nonperforming loan levels and non-interest expense levels have both come down dramatically.
    • Given this improvement, First Horizon could be an acquisition target in the future for several companies.
  • MBIA's Massive Head-Fake
     • Mon, Sep. 22 MBI 7 Comments

    Summary

    • The continuing negative headlines in the municipal bond markets are hammering MBIA just as the company starts to emerge from its Crisis-era troubles.
    • A major default event would help margins on bond insurance.
    • Such an event would also cause large losses for MBIA on its existing book of insurance policies.
  • Health Net: The Health Insurance Stock That Has Not Slumped
     • Mon, Sep. 22 HNT Comment!

    Summary

    • In a very poor overall environment for health insurers, Health Net seems to be the exception and is doing well.
    • The company's recent outsourcing environment should lead to substantial savings over time.
    • The high valuation on Health Net makes it too late to buy the stock for investors who did not get in previously.
  • Northern Trust: Not Cheap And Reliant On Rates Rising
     • Mon, Sep. 22 NTRS Comment!

    Summary

    • Good expense control has helped Northern Trust boost earnings in a poor macro-environment.
    • Northern Trust is extremely levered to a rising rate environment.
    • The company looks a little rich here compared with its historical multiples based on earnings.
  • State Street Is Worth Keeping An Eye On
     • Mon, Sep. 22 STT Comment!

    Summary

    • After a long consolidation phase, State Street is starting to look like a bargain again.
    • The firm's international expansion plans and the normalization of interest rates should both help the stock.
    • State Street is likely to earn about $5 a share this year and see EPS growth around 10-12% for the next couple of years.
  • T. Rowe Price Group Looks Reasonable Here
     • Mon, Sep. 15 TROW 2 Comments

    Summary

    • TROW's mutual fund performance should enable it to attract net asset inflows over time.
    • In addition, the firm's international expansion provides new market opportunities.
    • These factors and expanding operating margins make TROW interesting at today's price.
  • Stifel Financial Continues To Be Interesting
     • Mon, Sep. 15 SF 2 Comments

    Summary

    • Stifel's acquisition integration continues even as the closing of another transaction nears.
    • Stifel has a reasonable prospect of joining the top tier of investment banks in the next decade given its growing size.
    • On the negative side, the regulatory framework facing all banks and financials is also holding back Stifel.
  • WellPoint: New Name, Same Problems
     • Mon, Sep. 15 WLP 2 Comments

    Summary

    • WellPoint's name change cannot disguise the slightly rich valuation on a stock facing its fair share of uncertainties.
    • The Medicare and Medicaid markets offer sources of new customers for WellPoint's book, but at the cost of profit margins.
    • WellPoint is picking up considerable market share in the new individual exchanges, but this has only a small effect on the bottom line given the size of the firm.
  • Walter Investment Management: Catching A Falling Knife
     • Mon, Sep. 15 WAC 4 Comments

    Summary

    • Government efforts to severely curtail the activities of mortgage servicing companies are having a negative effect on WAC.
    • With management's latest announcement about the negative effects of regulation on the reverse mortgage business, the stock has slid further.
    • If government regulators do not put the firm out of business here, WAC is very undervalued, but that is a big IF.
  • Everest Re Is Not Expensive
     • Mon, Sep. 8 RE 1 Comment

    Summary

    • RE's long-history and strong competitive position should ensure that the firm continues to thrive.
    • While the reinsurance market is still oversupplied with capital, this may start to shift over the next year.
    • Given a normal claims environment, RE should earn more than enough in profit to keep its stock steadily moving higher.
  • Schwab Corp Needs To Prove Itself After Big Run
     • Mon, Sep. 8 SCHW 2 Comments

    Summary

    • Schwab's leverage to short-term interest rates has led the market to award it a rich multiple.
    • Even if we assume rates are going higher though, there may be mitigating factors that will offset the firm's earnings momentum.
    • Schwab has enough unanswered questions here, that I prefer to watch from the sidelines rather than take a position for now.
  • Expectations Are Low For Regions Financial Offer Opportunity For Contrarians
     • Mon, Sep. 8 RF Comment!

    Summary

    • Expectations and multiples are low for RF suggesting an opportunity in the stock for those with a long-term view.
    • An end to the fall in revenue of the last few years may be finally approaching for the bank.
    • A general economic revival, higher interest rates, and internal firm actions have all set the stage for a good upcoming year for RF.
  • Sun Life Financial's Valuation And Changing Model Make It Risky
     • Mon, Sep. 8 SLF 5 Comments

    Summary

    • Sun Life has a strong position in Canada and other markets which should make it successful over the long-term.
    • Recent changes in firm assets add to uncertainty about Sun Life's strategy, but may also lead to higher quality earnings in time.
    • The firm's valuation seems excessive at this point though, and despite the positive factors at the firm, investors are better off on the sidelines.
  • Uncertainty Surrounding M&T Bank Is Holding Back Share Price
     • Tue, Sep. 2 MTB 1 Comment

    Summary

    • MTB's merger with HCBK continues to be a fiasco - but one that may be coming to an end later this year.
    • A conclusion cannot come soon enough for the bank as MTB fights the same struggle against low interest rates that all banks are fighting.
    • Ultimately, MTB should be a good investment, but investors probably want to wait for certain positive signs to emerge.
  • Principal Financial Group Has Some Good Things Happening
     • Tue, Sep. 2 PFG 3 Comments

    Summary

    • PFG has been hurt by low interest rates in recent periods but this headwind is dying down and the company is now well positioned.
    • The firm's international segment has a lot of promise and should be an AUM generator for decades to come.
    • With the stock trading at a reasonable price and demographics and macro factors in the stock's favor, PFG is a long-term investment worth considering.
  • PNC Financial Services Is Doing Well But Has Limited Upside
     • Tue, Sep. 2 PNC 2 Comments

    Summary

    • PNC is doing everything right within the constraints of the macroeconomy and current investors should be pleased.
    • PNC is facing the headwind of margin compression which is about equal to the firm's growth in its loan book.
    • In time, PNC should have more upside, but for now, the shares are fairly priced.
  • Prudential's Relatively High Multiple May Be Justified
     • Tue, Sep. 2 PRU 1 Comment

    Summary

    • Financial firm Prudential is one of the largest financial firms out there, and the company has been expanding internationally in recent years as well.
    • With a rising interest rate environment on the way, it is worth considering how the stock will be affected.
    • Prudential's multiple may look high, but looks can be deceiving.
  • Tenet Healthcare Has A Lot Of Good News And Assumptions Priced In Here
       • Mon, Aug. 25 THC 7 Comments

    Summary

    • THC's rapid stock price rise over the last month reflects considerable optimism about its future prospects.
    • This optimism is excessively exuberant as most metrics of patient growth are probably artificially high right now.
    • Investors should be cautious about buying into the stock with this much optimism priced in.
  • Marsh And McLennan Has Room For Eventual Multiple Expansion
       • Mon, Aug. 25 MMC Comment!

    Summary

    • MMC has been on a roll lately with significant margin expansion over the last few year and more still to come.
    • MMC leading market position in both of its business units should provide investors with some confidence in buying the stock.
    • These factors and the emerging economic tailwinds should lead to multiple expansion over the next few months.
  • Lincoln National: Not As Cheap As It Once Was
       • Mon, Aug. 25 LNC 2 Comments

    Summary

    • Lincoln National's stock is getting swept up in the excitement over higher rates in the future.
    • Lincoln National's earnings are still very much tied to the performance of equity markets though.
    • Investors should not get ahead of themselves and buy into a stock with a lot of positives already reflected in the price.
  • The Market May Be Almost Ready To Accept Nationstar Again
       • Mon, Aug. 25 NSM 4 Comments

    Summary

    • The market has lost faith in NSM in the face of persistent regulatory pressure.
    • This pressure will not last forever as similar events in the past show and when it subsides NSM should move higher fast.
    • NSM's management is doing a good job with running the business and improving the profitability on the servicing side.
    • At these valuation levels, NSM is still a very attractive investment.
  • Capital One Is Cheap, But Earnings Growth Is Uncertain
       • Mon, Aug. 18 COF 3 Comments

    Summary

    • While I like COF's overall strategy, macroeconomic challenges are holding back the stock and this looks likely to continue.
    • The company's focus on consumers in its loan book makes it less exposed to the gradual upward turn in business borrowing that seems to be taking place.
    • Credit quality at COF is very good and valuation is reasonable, but until the firm starts showing definite signs of significant revenue growth, the stock may be stuck in neutral.
  • Apollo Had A Rough Quarter
       • Mon, Aug. 18 APO 1 Comment

    Summary

    • Apollo's last quarterly report seems to have sunk sentiment on the shares.
    • Despite the report, Apollo still maintains many structural advantages I have highlighted in past articles.
    • Apollo looks well-positioned for rising rates, but a stagnant stock market could hold the stock back for now.
  • Humana: A Great Starter Stock For Insurance Investors
       • Mon, Aug. 18 HUM Comment!

    Summary

    • Humana's stability and consistent enrollment growth is a boon to risk-averse investors.
    • Recent weakness in the stock is largely a product of concerns over temporary headwinds.
    • In time, as concerns over the side-effects of healthcare reform subside, I expect the Humana's stable history of profits to merit a somewhat higher multiple.
  • Springleaf Holdings Is Finally Living Up To Its Potential
       • Mon, Aug. 18 LEAF Comment!

    Summary

    • Springleaf's recent real estate loans deal fundamentally transforms the company.
    • After a significant rise in the stock recently, it is not the deal it once was, but over time I think the firm still has a lot of potential.
    • New products and the coming mountain of cash help make Springleaf and its still sizeable loan portfolio a company with a bright future.
  • Canadian Imperial Bank Of Commerce Looks Cheap
       • Mon, Aug. 11 CM 5 Comments

    Summary

    • CIBC is unique in its amazing history of stability in profitability and dividends.
    • Concerns about margins across the banking sector and about the Canadian economy have probably held CIBC back despite its expansion opportunities.
    • Negativity on the Canadian economy is probably overdone and in time things will look better for the country which should help boost CIBC as well.
  • Manulife Financial Is Already Baking In Higher Rates But Could Eventually Have More Upside
       • Mon, Aug. 11 MFC 1 Comment

    Summary

    • Manulife Financial's Asian expansion is helping boost investor sentiments about the stock and this optimism is probably warranted in the medium term.
    • The company should also benefit from the emerging higher interest rate environment, but again this will take time to materialize.
    • Given the big run in the stock, while I think the company could move higher, a pause here would not be unwarranted.
  • Cigna Looks Good Here If One Believes Newly Insured Utilization Rates Will Level Off
       • Mon, Aug. 11 CI 1 Comment

    Summary

    • Cigna is rather inexpensive today in large part due to concerns over medical utilization ratios across the broader insurance sector.
    • Newly insured individuals are using more medical care and more expensive drugs than past customers have - this trend will reverse in time though.
    • While the precise economics and profitability around many aspects of healthcare are still uncertain, Cigna is a good enough value here to warrant buying.
  • SunTrust Banks Is Still Facing Headwinds
       • Mon, Aug. 11 STI 1 Comment

    Summary

    • Regional banks have largely disappointed investor hopes this year and SunTrust is certainly in this boat.
    • SunTrust is being held back by an anemic net interest margin which is unlikely to improve until rates start to rise.
    • On top of that, the regulatory headwinds for the firm make SunTrust a tough buy here.