Don’t look now, but the S&P 500‘s total return through Oct. 22 is 24.4%. With two months left in 2013, it’s very possible the index will better its 2003 total return of 28.7%, the eighth-best annual performance over the past 43 years.
Who’ll be the winning hot stocks over the next two months?
We did a stock screen looking for companies whose market cap stands at more than $300 million, whose stocks are up at least 50% year-to-date and 20% in the past month, and that are rated a “strong buy” by analysts. A total of 14 stocks popped up — I’ll recommend three to own into 2014.
America’s Best Small Companies
U.S. Silica Holdings (SLCA) recently was named by Forbes as the eighth best small company (revenue under $1 billion) in America. Thanks in large part to the huge growth in fracking and horizontal drilling, U.S. Silica has become the largest domestic producer of silica sand — a main ingredient along with water in the drilling of shale formations across the U.S. Although fracking has been around since the 1940s, only in recent years has it become commonplace.
The U.S. Geological Survey indicates that frac sand revenues are growing tremendously. In 2001, 5% of silica sand was used for fracking; in 2012, that number was up to 41%. Between 30 million and 40 million metric tons of frac sand will be mined in 2013, with some analysts suggesting that figure could double in 2014.
U.S. Silica’s second-quarter revenue from oil & gas proppants grew 42.5% to $77.7 million with a volume increase of 303,000 tons. If not for a slight decline in the price of some grades of frac sand, the revenue increase would have been even higher. More important, the oil & gas proppants account for 59% of revenue and 70% of its profit. CEO Bryan Shinn is certainly bullish: “For the Company as a whole, the bottom line is that our business is very strong, and we expect robust second-half performance, driven by record oil and gas demand and continued margin expansion in our industrials business.”
U.S. Silica’s been a public company for 21 months. In that time its stock has gained 106.3% through Oct. 21, 68 percentage points greater than the SPDR S&P 500 (SPY). Although analysts are mixed about its ability to continue generating market-beating results, I can’t see things slowing down given America’s move toward energy independence. Its stock might not double in the next 21 months, but I think it will do just fine heading into 2014.
Do a Google (GOOG) search for the words “Twitter IPO” and you’ll come up with 149 million results. I’m no search specialist, but that seems like a decent amount. Everyone wants to chime in on Twitter’s IPO. One company that actually owns Twitter stock is San Francisco-based GSV Capital (GSVC), an investment firm founded by longtime growth investor Michael Moe. Last November I recommended investors read his book Finding The Next Starbucks: How to Identify and Invest in the Hot Stocks of Tomorrow. I also suggested that this closed-end fund, although fraught with risk, was worth exploring. Since then it’s up 128% through Oct. 21.
Does it have any more gas in the tank? I think so.
Over the past two years it’s raised $278 million at prices between $14 and $15 to invest in venture capital-backed companies like Twitter, Facebook (FB) and 40 others. Not all of them are going to be home runs, but enough should be to convince Charles Sizemore that GSV Capital isn’t expensive despite its 97% run-up over the past three months. He argues that its “real” book value is 10%-20% higher due to Facebook’s 108% run-up over the same period. In addition, it’s had two portfolio companies go public since the beginning of August: Control4 Corporation (CTRL) at $16 and Violin Memory (VMEM) at $9. GSV Capital invested a total of $21 million in these two companies with both currently showing decent if not spectacular unrealized gains.
GSV Capital has 15% of its portfolio invested in Twitter. Clearly, if the IPO is successful, it’s got plenty of upside. On the other hand if it does a Facebook-like stumble out of the gate, we’re looking at single digits once more.
It’s a risk — but one worth taking.
Eight Months’ Work
Give yourself a pat on the back if you bought some of the 5.2 million shares CalAmp Corp. (CAMP) sold to the public in late February at $9.25; eight months later that stock’s worth an additional 175%. Heck, it’s gained 48% in the last month alone. To say it’s on fire would be an understatement. It’s now trading at levels it hasn’t seen in 13 years.
CalAmp provides wireless communications solutions to customers around the globe. In February it raised $45 million from its share offering in order to close its $53 million acquisition of Wireless Matrix, a Virginia-based GPS fleet-tracking business that generates approximately $30 million in annual revenue with much of it the high-margin, recurring kind. In addition to vehicle tracking, it can provide insurance companies with the equipment necessary to offer usage-based insurance rates. (A friend of mine drives no more than 5,000 miles per year. He and many others would be all over this despite the privacy concerns.)
CalAmp’s had a number of setbacks over the years — a public company since 1983 — but something is different about its latest move. Revenues and profits are growing nicely, including promising forays internationally with firms like Caterpillar (CAT), which requires rugged equipment to track machines all over the world. It won’t surprise me if CalAmp is a mid-cap stock in three to five years, far removed from its current small-cap status.
As of this writing, Will Ashworth did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.