Odds ‘n Ends – Aggressive Portfolio

Building RiskHere are some recent updates for the positions in thebuttonwoodproject’s aggressive portfolio:

  • Applied Materials and Tokyo Electron said they have received notice from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States that there are no unresolved national security issues relating to the companies’ proposed merger announced last September. The clearance by CFIUS was without conditions and terminates CFIUS review of the transaction. Separately, Taiwan Semiconductor ordered equipment this week from Applied Materials worth $16.81 million.
  • Some of the highlights from CSX Corp.’s annual report included: Investing in energy markets to create job growth, a resurgence in U.S. manufacturing and energy independence; ongoing investments in double-stack intermodal capabilities through its National Gateway project and new or expanded regional terminals; continued record customer satisfaction through improved communication and collaboration; and consistently strong safety performance, building on CSX’s accomplishment as the nation’s safest Class I railroad in 2013, with the fewest accidents and injuries.
  • The new Wireless Genie Mini from DIRECTV, which gives customers the freedom to place their TVs anywhere they want and enjoy a full HD DVR experience on every TV without seeing the clutter of cable wires and boxes in every room, is now available to all DIRECTV customers nationwide. DIRECTV also announced that it would resume airing The Weather Channel, ending a nearly three-month dispute. Under the new agreement, the channel agreed to cut reality programming by half on weekdays and DTV customers will now be able to view instant local weather and watch the channel’s video-programming on multiple devices.
  • Dow Chemical Co. announced that its joint venture membrane chlor-alkali facility with Mitsui & Co., Ltd. of Tokyo successfully initiated full-scale, commercial production. Dow’s share of the chlorine produced at the Dow-Mitsui Chlor-Alkali Freeport, Texas, facility will serve the growing feedstock needs of its performance and market-driven businesses. In addition, Dow will market the caustic soda on behalf of the joint venture. Meanwhile, Dow said it is advancing its asset sales program to shed old business lines it can no longer grow and concentrate on agricultural products, performance chemicals and specialty materials.
  • Harris Corp. has been awarded two indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contracts to supply the U.S. Army with Harris Soldier Radio Waveform vehicular appliqué systems. Harris is one of four companies that were selected to compete for orders on the contracts, which have a potential total value of $988 million. The Harris SRW appliqué systems will be part of the Army tactical network modernization program and consist of a Falcon III wideband radio and small form factor wideband power amplifier. 
  • Hess Corp. will begin selling natural gas from its Tioga, North Dakota plant this month, firing up the station weeks after severe weather delayed its expansion The plant’s start-up may help boost oil production from the prolific Bakken shale after about 100 producing wells had to be shut earlier this year to minimize flaring due to the delays. It is still unclear if Hess will be spinning off its retail gasoline stations to shareholders or sell the network to a third-party, although it has received an IRS go-ahead to spin-off the units in a tax-free exchange, should it go the shareholder route.
  • As reported yesterday, JPMorgan Chase did not come through with first quarter earnings as expected. Nonetheless, the shares trade at under 10 times earnings and provide decent total return value over the longer-term. See the February 11, post for more details.
  • The Manitowoc Co. recently welcomed strong reception of its new cranes and innovative crane designs at ConExpo 2014 in Las Vegas. During the five-day show, Manitowoc introduced an array of ten technologically advanced products that will greatly improve customers’ job-site efficiency, operating cost and profitability.
  • There has been some slight improvement in the operations at Newmont Mining of late, specifically renewed copper exports in Indonesia, increased gold production from its Australian/New Zealand and African plays as well as in Nevada. Any favorable developments should take some of the downward pressure off of the shares, but NEM is not out of the woods yet.
  • QUALCOMM announced that its Atheros subsidiary is delivering the first VIVE 4-stream 802.11ac solutions with multi-user inputs/outputs (MU-MIMO) to significantly improve Wi-Fi performance for the growing number of connected devices in homes, offices and public hotspots. The new solutions which are enhanced with Atheros’ innovative algorithm-based technology will offer two to three times more network capacity. The company added that MU-MIMO enables simultaneous transmission to groups of clients, making more efficient use of available Wi-Fi network capacity and speeding up transmissions.
  • Teva Pharmaceutical Industries is asking the Supreme Court to delay the possible market entry of generic versions of its blockbuster multiple-sclerosis drug Copaxone. The high court announced last week it would consider a Teva appeal that could revive one of its Copaxone patents that expires in September 2015. Other Teva patents on the drug, which accounted for $3.2 billion in U.S. sales in 2013, are set to expire next month, meaning generic competitors potentially could enter the market at that time. Separately, Teva said it received FDA approval for a U.S. launch of the generic equivalent to GlaxoSmithKline’s Lovaza medication used along with a low-fat and low-cholesterol diet to lower very high triglyceride levels in adults.
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