BNN Top Stock Picks and Market Outlook : Market Call, October 23, 2013

BNN Top Stock Picks and Market Outlook : Market Call, October 23, 2013

There is good reason to be more optimistic: business conditions in the US are improving as profits expand and corporate balance sheets are stronger, conditions in Europe appear to be stabilizing as the Euro economy posted positive growth after six quarters of decline, Japan’s economy has been expanding and the economy in China shows signs of stabilizing at a growth rate around 7-7.5%.  The end of the political logjam in the US has also contributed to a reprieve in investors’ concerns.  The markets have advanced to the point where all the good news appears to be priced in while the longer term headwinds have been ignored.  This could set the stage for some pull backs in the market as these underlying issues surface.

Manulife Financial Corp. (TSE:MFC)

Market cap 3.25B, P/E 22.17, Dividend/yield 0.13/2.88, EPS 0.81, Shares outstanding 1.84B. Owned by clients and personally, Last Purchase June 15, 2012, $10.84. Company website:

Manulife Financial Corporation is a financial services group with operations in Asia, Canada and the United States. The Company’s international network agents and distribution partners offers financial protection and wealth management products and services to clients. The company  also provides asset management services to institutional customers. In October 2012, its United States unit, John Hancock, acquired two new real estate assets in Irvine, California and in Princeton, New Jersey. In October 2012, the Company purchased Benesure Canada Inc. In August 2013, John Hancock, the United States division of the Company, announced that it has acquired Landmark Square in Long Beach, California.

Manulife is Canada’s leading provider of insurance and wealth management products in Canada.  Over the past few years, management has made extensive strides in limiting the company’s exposure to adverse events.  The recent economic environment will result in increasing profitability and visibility.

Cenovus Energy Inc. (TSE:CVE)

Market cap 23.19B, P/E 38.62, Dividend/yield 0.24/3.16, EPS 0.79, Shares outstanding 755.84M, Owned by clients, Last Purchase September 20, 2013, $30.48. Company website:

Cenovus is Canadian integrated oil company, whose operations include oil sands projects in northern Alberta, which use specialized methods to drill and pump the oil to the surface. It also has natural gas and oil production in Alberta and Saskatchewan. The company has four segments: oil sands, conventional, refining and marketing, and corporate and eliminations. It has a 50% ownership with Phillips 66 in two United States refineries, which includes Wood River (Illinois) and Borger (Texas) refineries. It has two producing steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) projects–Foster Creek and Christina Lake, as well as several emerging projects which are in various stages of development. Foster Creek and Christina Lake are 50%-owned by ConocoPhillips. It also produces heavy oil from the mobile Wabiskaw formation at its 100%-owned Pelican Lake operation in the Greater Pelican Region, about 300 kilometers north of Edmonton.

Cenovus is an integrated oil and gas company focused on the development of bitumen assets in Alberta Production should ramp up strongly over the next few years resulting in increasing earnings, cash flow and potential dividend increases.

Alliance Grain Traders Inc. (TSE:AGT)

Market cap 321.62M, P/E  – , Dividend/yield 0.15/3.71, EPS   -0.18, Shares outstanding 19.87M, Owned by clients and personally, Last Purchase December 21, 2012, $11.43, Company website:

Alliance Grain Traders Inc. President & CEO Murad Al-Katib

Alliance Grain Traders Inc. President & CEO Murad Al-Katib is at the forefront of Canada’s swift rise to become the world’s largest producer and exporter of pulse crops: lentils, peas, beans and chickpeas.

Alliance Grain Traders Inc. is engaged in the business of sourcing and processing specialty crops, primarily for export markets. Through its two segments, AGT handles a range of pulses and specialty crops including lentils, peas, chickpeas, beans and canary seed, flax and other specialty seeds. The Company’s operating segments are pulses and grains processing, and supply chain management and distribution. The pulses and grains processing includes the operations of AGT factories across its global platform. The segment’s business includes sourcing pulses and grains from producers, processing them through its factories and selling these products to its network of clients.

AGT is the worldwide leader in pulse processing. The company is on the road to achieving a multi-origin, multi-product, multi-market platform.  Rising lentil exports and the expanding Food Ingredients business should continue to contribute to advances in profitability.

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