Reminiscences Of A Stock Operator

by: George Kesarios

If you look at my profile, I state that I aim to find stocks that can double in 12 months or less. Also, if you have been reading me over the past several months, I write a lot about speculation opportunities. Gold and gold stocks are one example.

While many stocks double over a twelve month period, it's not easy to spot them. Many stocks double by luck, others because of a buyout and others simply because they were dead cheap. It is the last category that I mainly aim for.

So in this article I want to look back at the stocks that I have recommended over the past year and see how we did and also to update my recommendation for these stocks.

I recommended Alcatel-Lucent (ALU) on November 26, 2012. I saw the stock as a possible turn around situation play saying:

And even if the company continues to lose money, any kind of a deal for its patents (with Goldman Sachs or someone else), is enough to drive this stock 2-3 times higher than where it is today.

While may things have happened since then, and even though at some point I got tired of the bad news and gave up in the stock, the key point to the stocks very good performance since my original recommendation was because of that monetization of patents that I originally envisioned. The stock has gone up about 200% from my initial recommendation.

Not much has changed since my original recommendation, except for the fact that the company is in better financial condition. There are still several catalysts still for the stock, but I do not foresee the kind of profits from my original recommendation. And since on a 12 months forward basis I do not see the stock doubling again, my recommendation is a hold, with a sell recommendation if you see weak technical condition on the charts.

I originally recommended Groupon (NASDAQ:GRPN) on November 11, 2012. My recommendation was summed up in the conclusion:

I also think this is a very solid company and the coupon business is not going away anytime soon. While it may just be that competition is a reason why their revenue has been flat over the past three quarters, at the same time however, I also think that this company is much better positioned than anybody else to do a better job in this business and produce growth and earnings for shareholders in the future.

Most importantly, the company is also within the valuation metrics of what I would pay for it. As such, I will wait a while for the dust to settle after Friday's drop, and see if this stock is going further south (as I think it will) before deciding to make a move.

Today however Groupon is about 400% higher since my original recommendation. And you know something, almost nothing has changed with the company expect for the fact that Andrew Mason was fired and market expectations. Because other than that, the company is basically the same as when I first recommended it.

And while I do agree that market expectations are important, I for one am not willing to pay the price for whatever the market thinks of this stock today. Groupon trades at a forward PE of 41 and has a Price/Book ratio of 10. While not overall more expensive than many other new-wave stocks, it is nevertheless not a bargain anymore.

Today I recommend selling Groupon for two reasons. The first is I do not see it doubling over the next twelve month period and second, it's extremely expensive for my investment pallet.

Nokia (NYSE:NOK) was a stock I originally recommended on September 16, 2012. The Nokia recommendation was based on the very low Price/Sales ratio of the stock, the fact that it was a world class brand name and the fact that I saw a turn-around stock in the works. I further said that any positive news would put significant upside pressure on the stock. Since then many things have transpired and to be honest at some point I thought Nokia would not make it, until Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) finally bought the company's devices division recently.

Today however today Nokia is a different company. My original recommendation was based on the possibility that Nokia might become a very big player in the smartphone space and WP8 a major competitor of Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android. Obviously that has not happened. Also, today Nokia is half the company in size from my original recommendation. Today Nokia is not a cheap company anymore, however it is not an expensive stock either. One can probably say it is trading analogous to other competitors, on a P/E and Price/Sales ratio basis.

As such my recommendation for Nokia today is a sell. On the one hand I do not foresee the stock doubling over the next 12 months, and because of rise in the stock, I also see the possibility of many investors taking profits. In any case the speculation excitement is not there anymore.

Perhaps my most controversial recommendation has been BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY). I first recommend BlackBerry back in September 10, 2012 when the stock was trading at around $7.20 a share. Initially BlackBerry was a speculation recommendation with limited risk. As time want by I updated the stock several times and in ballpark terms, I think my initial recommendation was spot on.

Please remember that even though things did not turn out as I hoped for, the stock did ride all the way up to $18 a share and provided ample time to take profits for those who bought it. Today as you all know BlackBerry is up for sale and it makes no sense following the stock anymore, unless it does not get bought out. Overall however I don't consider BlackBerry a bad recommendation. Even after all is said and done, it is still higher from my initial recommendation price.

In fact out of all my recommendations over the past year, only one is below the initial recommendation price, and that stock is Cirrus Logic (NASDAQ:CRUS). Originally recommended on January 3 of 2013 at about $30 a share, today the stock has rebounded a little and trades at around $23. However I still think this stock is undervalued, under-appreciated and misunderstood. While the stock has generally followed Apple's performance, today it lagging Apple.

Analysts don't see the company doing anything over the next year or so. The average target price as per analysts is about $22.67. Also, the current P/E of the stock is around 10, but analysts think the 12 months forward P/E stands at 12.85. So looking back, I doubt that my original scenario still stands -- that is for the stock to trade at close to $60 a share -- so theoretically I should be recommending selling it.

However since this stock is not expensive, I will put a hold rating on the stock for those who have it, and recommend selling it only if you have found another stock that will not turn out to be dead money over the next 12 months, as analysts think.

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

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