Howard Rothman

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  • Natural gas transportation building speed

    By Howard Rothman - August 19, 2013 | Tickers: CLNE, GE, PCAR, RDS-A, WPRT

    Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, does not have the best public image these days. But love it or loath it, the fruit of this increasingly employed drilling technology — natural gas — has upended the traditional fuel business.

    In the process, natural gas is also radically transforming the transportation industry. As it does, a number of companies that have moved in early, both large and emerging, are poised to reap significant benefits.

    There more »

  • Is the Agriculture Boom Over?

    By Howard Rothman - August 16, 2013 | Tickers: AGCO, CNH, DE

    For the last few years, farm equipment has been selling faster than cold beer in a hot ballpark. Record commodity prices, driven partly by emerging market demand, brought record income to farmers worldwide. They've continually upgraded and expanded their fleets with the profits, pushing machinery makers to their own record levels. From 2009 to 2012, for example, sales at Deere (NYSE: DE) grew 60%, while EPS mushroomed by 270 more »

  • ‘Trash Talk’ Now Mostly Positive

    By Howard Rothman - July 1, 2013 | Tickers: CLH, RSG, SRCL, WCN, WM

    Talking trash might get you into trouble on the basketball court, but in investment circles it might make you some money. That’s because the Big 3 waste service firms — Waste Management (NYSE: WM), Republic Services (NYSE: RSG) and Waste Connections (NYSE: WCN) — are all riding a positive wave that I expect to continue.

    As the trio prepares to announce second quarter results at the end of July, the segment more »

  • CAT on a Hot Tin Roof

    By Howard Rothman - June 26, 2013 | Tickers: CAT, JOY, KMTUY

    Much like Maggie in Tennessee Williams’ classic stage play, Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT) has been trying to keep its footing on a foundation that's become increasingly precarious. As the company heads into earnings season, investors are accordingly more skeptical of its ability to remain upright than at any other time in its history.

    Before second-quarter results are announced July 24, a SWOT analysis — examining the company's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities more »

  • Can Exports Save U.S. Coal?

    By Howard Rothman - June 20, 2013 | Tickers: ANR, ACI, CNX, KMP, BTU

    Although it remains the country’s largest private sector provider of jobs, the U.S. coal industry is hurting. Domestic utilities are turning to lower-priced natural gas. Environmental opponents are working hard to keep the mineral in the ground. Coal companies have attempted to compensate by reining in costs and ramping up exports. Will it work?

    Cheaper and cleaner natural gas has cut coal’s share of U.S. electricity more »

  • Are Tire Makers in for a Big Deflation?

    By Howard Rothman - June 6, 2013 | Tickers: CTB, GT

    The past 12 months have been pretty good for the tire market and for those who had invested in it. Shares of passenger and light truck tire makers like Goodyear (NASDAQ: GT) Bridgestone, Michelin, Cooper (NYSE: CTB), Continental, and General are all up around 50% to 75% over last year at this time.

    The boom is largely a result of increased auto sales around the world — with the notable exception more »

  • New Trucking Rules Could Boost Intermodal Segment

    By Howard Rothman - June 4, 2013 | Tickers: CSX, HUBG, JBHT, NSC, SWFT

    New regulations that cap work hours and mandate rest breaks for commercial truck drivers go into effect July 1. Called hours-of-service or HOS rules, they’re expected to aggravate problems stemming from a driver shortage that has already hampered the trucking industry. One potential outcome is increased movement by shippers from truck to intermodal transport. A handful of companies stand to reap significant benefits if that takes place.

    Among other more »

  • Year-to-Date Results Rekindle Ethanol Optimism

    By Howard Rothman - May 21, 2013 | Tickers: ADM, GPRE, PEIX, VLO

    It’s been a challenging stretch for the domestic ethanol industry. “One of the toughest,” according to the Wall Street Journal, “in its three-decade history.” Recent events, though, have led even some of the fuel’s harshest critics to concede there could be a bit of light at the end of the tunnel.

    If indeed there is good news, the beleaguered industry and its supporters will gladly take it. Cascading more »

  • Automakers Rev Up in China as European Demand Crashes

    By Howard Rothman - May 16, 2013 | Tickers: F, GM, HMC, TM

    More than a few analysts have expressed concern that official austerity measures and a slowing economy could put the brakes on China’s high-speed auto sales. So far, however, they’re still rolling along at a decent clip. In response, automakers are doubling down there to make up for weakening demand in Europe.

    China topped the U.S. in overall auto sales in 2009 and surpassed Europe in 2012. Although more »

  • Rails Turning on to Natural Gas

    By Howard Rothman - May 13, 2013 | Tickers: BRK-B, CNI, CSX, NSC, UNP

    Driving that train, high on… natural gas? Granted, it isn’t as catchy as the Grateful Dead original. But if major North American freight railroads keep moving as they are, this could be the version many are singing well into the 21st century.

    Freight railroads have never been very exciting. They operate much the same today as they have for more than a century, and few of us think about more »

  • Right Time for Specialty REITs?

    By Howard Rothman - May 6, 2013 | Tickers: AMT 131116P00072500, CXW, EPR, PENN, PSA

    Today’s Real Estate Investment Trusts are not your father’s REITs. Designed for businesses that run income-producing properties like office buildings, shopping centers and apartment complexes, a growing array of newcomers includes owners of everything from private prisons and cellphone towers to casinos and self-storage facilities.

    Because the REIT designation dramatically reduces corporate taxes, conversion by non-traditional businesses like these has become a hot trend on Wall Street. Analysts more »

  • The Trashmen Cometh

    By Howard Rothman - April 15, 2013 | Tickers: RSG, WCN, WM

    Despite weak fourth quarter performance and tepid 2013 guidance, the Big Three waste disposal services have been on a roll. Waste Management (NYSE: WM), Republic Services (NYSE: RSG) and Waste Connections (NYSE: WCN) are all up between 9%-15% YTD, and an even more impressive 20%-25% since November. With the trio issuing first-quarter earnings April 24-25, inquisitive minds want to know: can they keep it up?

    With more upside more »

  • Plywood: Foundation of the Building Boom

    By Howard Rothman - April 2, 2013 | Tickers: BCC, HD, LPX, LOW, LL

    In the world of building materials, people are starting to party like its 2004. That was when the last building boom drove demand and prices through the roof for critical construction materials like cement, copper, nails and plywood. Producers of these commodities benefited big time, before the boom turned bust and stayed that way for eight long years.

    Now it’s starting to look like it did back then. The more »

  • Have Crocs Hit Their Stride?

    By Howard Rothman - March 20, 2013 | Tickers: CROX, DECK, DSW, WWW

    Although Crocs (NASDAQ: CROX) opened for business in 1999, it took about a half-dozen years before its colorful injection-molded clogs hit anyone’s radar. But when they did hit, they hit big. A highly anticipated IPO was followed by a rapid rise in stock price that topped 400% before peaking in late October 2007 — and then collapsed, just as quickly, falling by more than 98% over the next 13 months more »

  • Squeezed Ethanol Makers Looking Elsewhere for Profitability

    By Howard Rothman - March 15, 2013 | Tickers: ADM, CLC, GPRE, PEIX, VLO

    If you were watching ethanol company stocks over the last five years, you’re probably suffering from a serious case of whiplash. They boomed with the fuel’s fortunes in 2008, crashed like everything else in 2009, recovered impressively in 2010, and then fell in both 2011 and 2012. So far this year most are up between 20% and 40%, but few investors believe these gains will prove sustainable.

    Producers more »

  • China Luxury Auto Boom Expected to Continue

    By Howard Rothman - March 5, 2013 | Tickers: F, GM, HMC, TM

    As China prepares to transition to new leadership, its government has begun advancing plans for economic growth based on consumer spending, instead of investment and exports. This can only bode well for the nation’s auto market — already the world’s largest — since the rebalancing aims to boost household income and encourage domestic purchases. As a result, the Chinese auto market’s sizzling luxury segment could see even greater growth more »

  • Studies Boost On-Road, Off-Road Natural Gas Chances

    By Howard Rothman - March 5, 2013 | Tickers: CAT, CMI, NAV, PCAR

    A pair of studies released at the end of February project U.S. natural gas production will grow for the next 30 years, putting enough downward pressure on prices to boost demand in the on-road and off-road transportation markets. These sectors are seeing plenty of new products that use the fuel. But they’ve only tentatively embraced them so far, even though it is cleaner than petroleum fuels and as more »

  • Studies Bolster Natural Gas Transportation Plays

    By Howard Rothman - March 4, 2013 | Tickers: CAT, CLNE, RDS-A, WPRT

    A pair of studies released at the end of February project that U.S. natural gas production will grow for at least a generation, likely keeping prices low enough to drive demand in markets that to date have only tentatively embraced it. If so, one of the biggest beneficiaries will be the trucking industry, which is eager to adopt technology that is both cleaner than petroleum and as much as more »

  • 4 Winners as Brazil Prepares to Take Center Stage

    By Howard Rothman - February 22, 2013 | Tickers: CAT, DE, FMC, TWI

    Brazil is considered one of the world’s most important emerging nations, and it’s closer to the U.S. in many ways than any other. Still, North American investors rarely focus on the country and its role in global corporate performance. China, Russia, even India — the other members of the famed BRIC quartet of newly developing economies — get the lion’s share of attention. But Brazil is hot, and more »

  • What to Consider Regarding Titan’s Q4

    By Howard Rothman - February 20, 2013 | Tickers: CAT, JOY, TWI

    Titan International (NYSE: TWI) is a U.S.-based manufacturer of wheels and tires in three segments: earthmoving/construction/mining, agricultural, and consumer. It's shares are up just 3.5% over the past year, pummeled by a major downturn that began in early June and hit bottom at the end of September. But since then its shares have risen nearly 44%. Can the momentun continue, or is this just more »

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