I'm going to get to the Warren Buffett change-of-heart in a second. We've just got a couple of business items to take care of first.
Out With Ladenberg Thalmann Financial (LTS), In With...
It was only a few days ago I told you it was time to lock in the 18% gain on Medallion Financial (TAXI), if you had stepped into it based on our October 10th suggestion. Not bad for less than a month's worth of work. We wanted to keep the Ladenberg Thalmann Financial (LTS) idea on the table though, as it was still ebbing and flowing its way to higher highs.
Well, I'm now going to say it's time to head for the door on that one too. LTS is about 22% higher than where it was back when we first told you about it on August 26th, which isn't a bad gain for three months... especially the past three months. It just looks to me like the Ladenberg Thalmann is at the upper end of a bullish trading range, and ready to roll back a bit. Only this time, with it being as overextended as it is, it may not bounce back as well.
There's another reason I want you to make your way out of Ladenberg Thalmann though - I think you're going to want to free up some capital for not one, not two, but three new Featured Stocks we're going to be telling you about over the next week or so.
These three names cover the alternative energy, biotech, and technology industries, and we believe at least one - if not all three - are going to be a homerun.
While we don't want to spill the beans just yet, we can tell you that these aren't your normal small or micro caps. These are fundamental-story stocks... accompanied by revenues, earnings, proven technologies, and all that jazz. These three names are more along the lines of recent winners Ladenberg Thalmann and Medallion Financial.
We've never been so excited about a collection of small cap ideas. So, be on the lookout - they're coming to your inbox soon.
Lone Star Gold & Stevia Corp. Update
Since they're both still Featured Stocks many of you are in, here's the latest on Stevia Corporation and Lone Star Gold:
Warren Buffet Just Bought Technology Stocks?
I'm sure you've heard the news by now, but I'm willing to bet you've not heard the 'why' yet. Though I don't want to imply I've got the Oracle of Omaha on my speed-dial, I do think I've got some perspective on his decision last quarter to wade waist deep into the technology sector.... an arena he's long shunned. Big additions to the Berkshire portfolio from Q3 include International Business Machines (IBM), Intel (INTC), DirecTV (DTV), and General Dynamics (GD).
First and foremost, there's quite a bit of speculation that all the tech names bought for Berkshire Hathaway last quarter weren't actually Warren Buffett's picks. Many pros and pundits are thinking they were Todd Combs' picks - the newest member of the investment fund's analytical team.
I respectfully disagree, for a handful of reasons.
The biggest reason is, Mr. Buffett knew a little too much about International Business Machines after the updated portfolio was unveiled. Anyone who realizes this 'tech' name has transitioned from being a hardware giant to a tech-services giant - and acknowledges he missed the ten-year transition - knows more than the average investor does about IBM.
Moreover, if it wasn't Warren Buffett's idea, it's unlikely he would have permitted $10.7 billion worth of it (5% of the entire company) to be purchased by the fund.
The big reason I suspect Buffett is wading into technology waters, however - and this is the reason I feel you and I need to absorb - is that the tech sector of today isn't the tech sector from a decade ago.
Ten years ago, the tech sector was synonymous with 'growth'. Now, half the tech sector is priced more like 'value', and for good reason ... many technology stocks provide corporate staples in the same way Proctor & Gamble provides consumer staples (food, soap, personal products) to consumers.
I don't want to dive all the way into a philosophical discussion, and I doubt you do either. Let's just broadly say what makes a value stock a value stock is the fact that it's recession-proof... because it sells perishable and/or consumable items that people always need, and can always afford. It's all about recurring revenue growth. Conversely, a growth stock is a growth stock because it makes an outsized fortune when the economy is on a roll; volume - and therefore margins - swell in boom periods, and implode in bad times. Still, the growth outweighs the contractions, which is why traders are attracted to these names.
What's this got to do with Warren Buffett's new-found love for technology names? Because IBM is more like a value stock than a growth stock.
The technology services it provides? Yeah, that's all billed monthly or quarterly. And you can bet the deeper-engrained IBM's services are into its client's day-to-day operations, the more difficult it is for that client to unplug IBM from the operation. Poof - very reliable revenue. That's why IBM's quarterly earnings have been rising every quarter (on a year over year basis) since 2003. The company didn't even blink during the recession, because its client companies just couldn't cut their services out of the mix.
The business models of DirecTV and General Dynamics aren't that much different.
DirecTV's entire business model is built around retaining its profit centers - TV watchers - on board and keeping them paying that monthly subscription fee. As a major government contractor, General Dynamics wins billion dollar deals, but it collects payments on a monthly and quarterly (and sometimes annual) basis. And sure enough, General Dynamics' annual earnings have been steadily growing, barely even flinching after the recession hit in 2008.
So no, I'm not a bit surprised Warren Buffett is adding technology names to a value portfolio - many of them are value stocks!
Your 'takeaway' is the same thing: Some of the best technology names out there don't even come close to fitting into the 'technology' mold from a decade ago. It's all about cash flow and reliable earnings.
Now, there's a two-fold reason I wanted to make this point about the 'new' tech sector. One is, it's just good to update the way you view technology as an investment when the sector changes shape. And two, one of the three upcoming Featured Stocks is juicy just because it's making the most of this recurring revenue model.
Like I said, you'll want stay tuned over the next week or so.