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Turnaround Stock Portfolio Week #2: Our Losers Are Winners! (So Far)

  +Follow October 4, 2013 9:00AM
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On Sept. 25 Equities began tracking ten stocks we dubbed “the Turnaround Stock Portfolio.” Unlike our other ongoing experiment the FUNY index, which is arbitrary and made up entirely of stocks with funny ticker symbols, the Turnaround Portfolio is based on quantified performance – poor performance, that is.

In 8 out of 10 cases, the stock had a negative return on the year. In the other two, the stock was either down over the last two years or was up marginally. And every stock in the portfolio was, at the start date, experiencing an ongoing crisis in leadership, worrying competition, or other major crisis.

But we didn’t pick stock destined for the toilet – in every case the stock had a potential to come back, and rebound from their past underperformance.

Component Spotlight

As we continue tracking the Turnaround Portfolio, we’ll be highlighting a few of its components and delve further into why we included this or that particular stock. This week, we’ll be looking at our Financial, Tech, and Consumer picks.  

Financial Sector Pick: Tower Group International Ltd. (TWGP)

Tower Group is a Bermuda-based property and casualty insurer who, at the time of the Turnaround Portfolio formation, was experiencing a fairly unusual crisis. Simply put, Tower Group was refusing to release their second quarter earnings report, having delayed it twice, which understandably spooked the heck out of investors. As a result, the stock lost over 60 percent of its value in six weeks.

Tower Group has only hinted that losses were far more numerous and severe than anticipated, and the company needed time to fully assess the extent of them. Estimates peg the unexpected losses at up to $110 million. Tower’s troubles date back to last summer, when the company was initially rocked by a rush of Hurricane Sandy claims.

Why We Picked Tower Group:

If an insurance company survives a natural disaster like Sandy, it can actually work out better for them in the long run, as it will cause future premiums for customers to rise. After all, the areas hit by Sandy have shown that they are in a hurricane prone-area.

That is, after all, a big “if,” and investors will know more when the company does finally release those second quarter earnings in “the week of October 7.”

Technology Sector Pick: Zynga Inc. (ZNGA)

Zynga was supposed to signal a new development in gaming. As Facebook Inc. (FB) built a social media empire Zynga was tight in the thick of it, making games exclusively for the burgeoning social media behemoth. The game Farmville, especially, was a robust hit for the company.

The company had their IPO on Dec. 2011 at $10 a share for a $7 billion evaluation. Things went downhill from there. Zynga was targeted for spamming Facebook user’s feeds with its game, and Facebook took action to scrub Zynga off their platform. The stock proceeded to tank, the company’s founder and CEO quit, and the company got surpassed by red-hot competitor King, who is about to have an IPO of their own. A last-ditch foray into gambling was recently officially shelved.

Why We Picked Zynga:

Zynga is an anomaly in the portfolio, as they are actually up substantially on the year. But they are still viewed overall as a disappointment, as they are down over 60 percent since IPO. Gaming stocks in general are doing well this year, and if Zynga can continue riding social gaming’s resurgence there’s still a chance they could get it together.

Consumer Sector Pick: JC Penney (JCP)

Where to start? The case of JC Penney is going to be taught in business schools for years to come in as a cautionary tale of what not to do to turn a company around.

The short version is, in a radical attempt to revamp the company, activist investor Bill Ackman installed Ron Johnson from Apple Inc. ($AAPL) as the new CEO, and the company engaged in a massive reform. The overhaul, which attempted to modernize the storied department chain, failed miserably, and customers fled in droves. Ackman ended up selling his stake with his tail between his legs, finally admitting the whole thing was a huge mistake.

The company still hasn’t recovered. Formerly the second-worst performing stock in the S&P 500 at just a tick better than Turnaround Portfolio stablemate Cliffs Natural Resources (CLF) , JC Penney is now far and away the index' worst returner, with a 57 percent loss in value this year.

Why We Picked JC Penney:

As is right now, it sits at its lowest price since the day after the October 1929 crash. If new CEO (actually, old CEO, re-installed) Myron Ullman can right the ship, JC Penney has the proven capability and resources to once again become profitable. The stock could see a nice upswing if they can win customers back that Ron Johnson lost.

Turnaround Portfolio Performance Check-In

Here’s how the Turnaround Portfolio looked after the bell on October 3:

Portfolio Return Since 9/25: 1.55 Percent

S&P Return Since 9/25: 0.06 Percent

So far, the Turnaround Portfolio is beating the S&P handily. Good work, us!* The excellent week of Quicksilver Resources Inc (KWK) and Atlantic Power Corp (AT) definitely carried it, while JC Penney continued getting rocked.

Check in with us next week as we continue profiling this group of losers that so far is beating the S&P.

*We make no assumptions about what may or may not happen to this portfolio going forward, nor do we advocate investing or not investing in these stocks. Investors are expected to do their own due diligence and consult professionals before sinking their money into anything.

Our interest is purely academic, and we made the Turnaround Portfoilo for our own amusement. We are easily amused.

DISCLOSURE: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, and do not represent the views of equities.com. Readers should not consider statements made by the author as formal recommendations and should consult their financial advisor before making any investment decisions.


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Results for jcp
Stephen s
1 Mar 15 19:31:46
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It's in the mail
1 Mar 15 19:31:36
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Stephen s
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#HelpYouGetGAINS
1 Mar 15 19:29:08
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John Verrilli
1 Mar 15 19:16:58
@Ackmanscam @openfolio I won't argue that one! But $JCP has more problems than Ackman....
Stock Signaling
1 Mar 15 19:01:04
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HotKeyTrading
1 Mar 15 18:30:04
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J. Wes
1 Mar 15 18:18:16
RT @TheStreet: Don't get it twisted. J.C. Penney's strong sales can't correct these 5 major mistakes they're making http://t.co/yeYm00pLGm …
Media Sentiment
1 Mar 15 18:04:51
$JCP received a new alert. Find out why at http://t.co/nZwqReM0tj #stocks #daytrading #trading #mkt #NYSE #NASDAQ #markets 12
TheStreet
1 Mar 15 18:00:44
Don't get it twisted. J.C. Penney's strong sales can't correct these 5 major mistakes they're making http://t.co/yeYm00pLGm $JCP
INVEX Banco
1 Mar 15 18:00:32
El viernes, títulos de @jcpenney $JCP registraron fuertes retrocesos, después que la emisora publicara pérdidas trimestrales
David
1 Mar 15 17:57:56
Commented on StockTwits: $jcp $BBRY http://t.co/p9bCeM2Sj0
Ani Anirudhan
1 Mar 15 17:21:33
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1 Mar 15 17:13:02
$JCP: Cramer: Stop blaming old regime, JCP: http://t.co/e3pVJyRpB1
Cal
1 Mar 15 17:00:40
RT @StockSignaling: Volume Leaders: $CYBX $AVGO $MNST $SPLK $CRM $JCP $NRF $ARUN $HZNP $MEET $C $AAPL $FB $ONNN $MCD http://t.co/DEd0xkdNq4…
HotKeyTrading
1 Mar 15 17:00:08
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HotKeyTrading
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Trader News Daily
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JALXR
1 Mar 15 16:08:54
Indicators show the bulls were strong in changing the down trend from thurdays after hours reversal. $JCP http://t.co/edZv4GvQTX
PolgarStocks
1 Mar 15 15:55:42
$JCP Filings Updated Sunday, March 1, 2015 6:07:12 PM $TSLA $HD $NEM $GILD http://t.co/9gPB2gwEPu
Befree
1 Mar 15 15:28:56
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Ophir Gottlieb
1 Mar 15 15:19:06
$JCP Revenue Dips; Valuation Collapses http://t.co/34b30Txu55
Stock Signaling
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IH News Desk
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Stock Rocket
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Capital Market Labs
1 Mar 15 14:44:16
$JCP Cash from Operations and Valuation Trends #CML http://t.co/XckvNnZsu8
CAROLINA VENDORS INC
1 Mar 15 14:33:04
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PolgarStocks
1 Mar 15 13:54:11
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Capital Market Labs
1 Mar 15 13:43:50
$JCP Earnings and Operating Margin Trends #CML http://t.co/6RjgiAjZC9
ProVesting
1 Mar 15 13:11:02
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Rosner Stocks
1 Mar 15 12:52:08
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IH News Desk
1 Mar 15 12:51:15
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PolgarStocks
1 Mar 15 11:51:23
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Stock Signaling
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Rosner Stocks
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Greg David
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Langan Stocks
1 Mar 15 09:48:07
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Mark Trader
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Beverage Consulting
1 Mar 15 09:05:53
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Stock Signaling
1 Mar 15 09:01:03
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Langan Stocks
1 Mar 15 08:47:19
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Energy Shots
1 Mar 15 08:09:39
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Breaking News
1 Mar 15 08:06:03
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efinancialpub.com
1 Mar 15 08:02:02
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Stock Signaling
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Edward
1 Mar 15 07:59:19
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Eric
1 Mar 15 07:56:56
RT @StockSignaling: Movers and Shakers: Making Range Advances: $HZNP $ARUN $JCP $S $CLNE $ARCP $ROVI $EGO $PBR $PTEN $BTU $KND $NOG $NVAX $…
				
				
  +Follow October 4, 2013 9:00AM
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