J.A. Graham

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  • Killer Apps

    By J.A. Graham - August 16, 2013 | Tickers: GRMN, OPEN, WTW, YELP

    Weight Watchers (NYSE: WTW) has been shedding market cap faster than clients drop pounds. Since the fourth quarter of 2012, it’s been a story of disappearing subscribers and slowing growth for this membership driven weight loss service.

    WTW rose from its zombie–like performance in 2008-2010, to dazzle the market with lively growth in 2011 and a subsequent resurrection of its market cap and its price. The growth was more »

  • The New Thrifty Netflix Arrests its Development

    By J.A. Graham - August 5, 2013 | Tickers: AMZN, NFLX, TWX

    There is no doubt that Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX) has a bad case of HBO-envy.

    From Netflix's content officer Ted Sarandos:

    "The goal is to become HBO faster than HBO can become us."

    Is Netflix the next HBO?

    HBO is part of Time Warner (NYSE: TWX). Time Warner operates in three segments with HBO as a part of its network business. The network segment is Time Warner’s most profitable more »

  • These 3 Restaurants Stopped Serving Up Growth

    By J.A. Graham - August 5, 2013 | Tickers: BJRI, IRG, PNRA

    Three restaurant growth stories reported disappointing second quarter numbers, and investors could not get out fast enough – price per share dropped swiftly on heavy volume. The three charts are interchangeable and a potent reminder of just how fast the herd can turn, and the subsequent effects on stock prices.

    Ignite fizzles

    Ignite Restaurant Group (NASDAQ: IRG) announced preliminary second quarter results that failed to spark investor interest, and the share more »

  • Left and Right Handed Investing

    By J.A. Graham - July 22, 2013 | Tickers: ISRG, NFLX, TSLA

    There are two types of investors—those who love a great bargain and those who love a great story. Ok, that’s probably a simplification and there are a few more breeds, but value and growth stories seem to be one of the more polarizing dichotomies in the investment world.

    Nothing makes a value investor happier than a stock smacked down by the market, selling at bargain basement prices and more »

  • The Ghost of Charles Ponzi Haunts Linn Energy

    By J.A. Graham - July 22, 2013 | Tickers: BRY, KMP, LNCO, LINE

    There has been a lot of bad press for master limited partnerships and energy limited liability corporations over the past five months. Barron’s initiated a series of articles starting in February criticizing Linn Energy’s (NASDAQ: LINE) accounting. That has escalated into increasing short interest and countless sensational accusations, including Linn Energy as a Ponzi scheme, since an informal U.S. Securities and Exchange investigation was announced in early more »

  • Aeropostale: South of the Border

    By J.A. Graham - July 8, 2013 | Tickers: ANF, ARO, BKE

    When the going gets tough in retail, management becomes excited about international expansion.  Abercrombie & Fitch (NYSE: ANF) went to Europe and beyond several years ago in an effort to keep growth alive as its U.S. business began to stall.

    From a conference call way back in 2010, when expansion seemed like a good idea:

    CEO Michael Jeffries recently spent a week in Europe visiting "average markets," not major cities more »

  • A Perfect Storm Sinks Linn Energy

    By J.A. Graham - July 8, 2013 | Tickers: BRY, KMP, LINE

    It has been an ugly week for energy companies with the letters LP or LLC after their name.  Limited liability corporations (LLC) and master limited partnerships (MLP) are structured to give companies a tax advantaged business if it distributes income to unit-holders who in turn will pay the taxes on that distribution. The company does not pay taxes on this income.

    The best MLP?

    Historically, master limited partnerships have been more »

  • Let's Chew on Chuy's

    By J.A. Graham - June 30, 2013 | Tickers: CMG, CHUY, PNRA

    Investors love a good restaurant story and are paying high prices for Chuy’s (NASDAQ: CHUY). Chuy’s stock is trading near its 52-week high and at crazy-high valuations. Chipotle (NYSE: CMG), Panera Bread (NASDAQ: PNRA), and BJ’s Restaurants have all been objects of market love and all have traded at extreme valuations at one time or another. Chuy’s is at the top of the valuation ladder. Maybe more »

  • Prep Your Portfolio for Yield

    By J.A. Graham - June 30, 2013 | Tickers: GRMN, LDR, PAYX

    There comes a time in the lives of most investors when they realize the carefree days of investing in speculative growth stocks and trading in and out of equities before the bytes of the last trade fade on the screen aren't reliable ways to generate income once they retire. Smart investors on the brink of retiring begin to search for ways to generate steady income with low risk of more »

  • The Practically Perfect Pasta IPO

    By J.A. Graham - June 20, 2013 | Tickers: BJRI, CMG, PNRA

    Noodles & Company looked like it might be the perfect pasta IPO, but sadly has a few flaws that keep it from being the next Chipotle (NYSE: CMG). Everyone is always looking for the next Chipotle and each new restaurant chain going public makes us hope this is the one. Noodles & Company comes close but falls a little short. It may still be investment-worthy depending on the opening price.

    Chipotle is more »

  • C'mon Ignite, Light My Fire

    By J.A. Graham - March 1, 2013 | Tickers: BJRI, BWLD, CMG, IRG, PNRA

    Ignite Restaurant Group (NASDAQ: IRG) is a recent IPO listing in May 2012. The business has two separate concepts: Joe’s Crab Shack and Brick House Tavern + Tap. Joe’s is the biggest part of IRG’s business with 129 restaurants and Brick House has 15 restaurants. Both of them are casual dining.

     IRG hit a high of just over $19 shortly following the IPO. By mid-July it dropped to more »

  • The King of Steakburger's Shaky Quarter

    By J.A. Graham - February 7, 2013 | Tickers: BH, CMG, CBRL

    There are a few ways a restaurant chain can increase revenue: they can open new restaurants, increase traffic, and increase prices for menu items. In short, earnings will grow if they can manage expenses and increase margins.  Biglari Holdings (NYSE: BH) failed to do all of these last quarter, and with a minimal revenue increase earnings per share fell.

    Steak ‘n Shake/Western Sizzlin's (restaurant operations only) revenue grew more »

  • Williams-Sonoma -- Well Done But Over-Cooked

    By J.A. Graham - February 6, 2013 | Tickers: AMZN, BBBY, BBY, WSM

    Williams-Sonoma (NYSE: WSM) has been around for 57 years, starting with one store in Sonoma, California.  While the brand is far from a new, fast-growth concept, they continue to add to the Williams-Sonoma stable of brands for growth.

    The company acquired Pottery Barn in 1986 and expanded the concept into Pottery Barn Kids stores in 2000. West Elm was launched in 2003.  WSM has seven concepts with bricks-and-mortar stores. PBteen more »

  • Aeropostale One Year Later and No Delivery

    By J.A. Graham - January 25, 2013 | Tickers: ANF, ARO, AEO, BEBE

    Aeropostale (NYSE: ARO) can still be filed in the dead letter office two years after the turnaround was supposed to take place. Back in the first quarter of 2011, CEO Tom Johnson was doing a post-mortem after a disappointing back half of 2010 and an ugly Q1 2011, and concluded that the fashion was wrong. At the time he remarked it was “crystal clear” what the fashion missteps were and more »

  • Chipotle Dissection Down to the Beans

    By J.A. Graham - January 24, 2013 | Tickers: BJRI, BWLD, CMG, PNRA | Editor's Choice

    How do we find the next Chipotle (NYSE: CMG) early in the growth phase? Out of the billions of bytes that have been written about the company, what can we pick out that will point us to the next great restaurant chain?

    The best restaurants have:

    • Food that creates high traffic -- at present high-quality ingredients are a successful fast casual concept
    • Positive same store sales -- higher is better
    • Traffic increases more »
  • Panera's Kozy Komfort

    By J.A. Graham - January 23, 2013 | Tickers: BJRI, BWLD, CMG, PNRA

    Panera Bread Company (NASDAQ: PNRA) locates in urban, suburban, strip mall, and regional malls. Like Chipotle (NYSE: CMG), the restaurants lean towards high quality ingredients well prepared. The menu highlights antibiotic-free chicken, whole grain bread, organic and all-natural ingredients, with zero grams of artificial trans-fat per serving. There are three business segments: company owned bakery-cafes, franchises, and dough distribution to franchises and company stores.

     The concept is part quality food more »

  • ConocoNoPhillips 66

    By J.A. Graham - January 23, 2013 | Tickers: CVX, COP, XOM

    ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP) is in the midst of reinventing itself and is attempting a transformation into a pure E&P company that will exchange downstream refinery and  chemical segments for accelerated organic growth in its North American holdings. Refocused capital spending and emphasis will be on developing the acreage they have in US shale, Gulf of Mexico and Canadian  properties. To that end they spun out Phillips 66 in a more »

  • Little Miss Perfect Makes a Misstep

    By J.A. Graham - December 4, 2012 | Tickers: CLB, HAL, SLB

    Core Labs (TSXV: CLB) revised guidance down for the third quarter 2012, pre-announcing  they would be missing their numbers in early October. This is a rare misstep for them and the market reacted swiftly by shaving 21% off the share price. Since October, rig counts in the U.S continue to decline and are down by 23, while Canada increased rig count by 34.

     Core is in the oil services more »

  • Trox Stox Rox in 2014

    By J.A. Graham - December 4, 2012 | Tickers: DD, PPG, SHW, DOW, TROX

    Tronox Incorporated was spun off from Kerr-McGee in 2006 along with a high debt load and a lot of legacy environmental liabilities. The company was a producer of titanium dioxide (TiO2). Titanium dioxide is critical to paint and coatings and is the secret ingredient that allows paint to cover and hide surfaces.  In 2009, Tronox declared bankruptcy, unable to pay debt and environmental obligations and emerged in February 2011 sans more »

  • Textainer's High Dividend Not AAA But OK

    By J.A. Graham - October 30, 2012 | Tickers: KO, JNJ, TGH

    Textainer (NYSE: TGH) has been operating since 1979 and has grown to be the largest lessor of cargo containers with a total fleet of more than 2.4 million units -- 1.9 million of those are owned by TGH. The company has around 400 shipping line customers that lease its cargo containers. When a company is in the business of leasing equipment over a wide geographic territory, it’s critical more »

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