Nokia (NOK) is an established cellular phone producer. In 2007 the stock soared up to almost $40 per share, and the company was the largest cell phone producer in the world. However, as Apple (AAPL) and Google (GOOGL) both entered the cellular devices market, producing smart phones, Nokia lost ground. By February 2009, the stock price dipped below $10, as the iPhone and Android devices gained tremendous popularity. In 2011, Nokia announced an alliance with Microsoft (MSFT) to produce a jointly designed smartphone. Despite Google and Apple still sharing the majority of the market, Nokia is making a comeback. Both Nokia and Microsoft are companies that have gone through recent rough patches and have large investments focused around the success of the Nokia “Lumia” line of phones. Nokia stock currently trades for around $7.75, which makes them a cheap option for beginning investors (however it is fairly volatile). Its new partnership with Microsoft also gives Nokia the stability of being paired with one of the largest technology companies in the world. In 2012, Lumia phones became hugely popular in Europe with holiday sales surpassing 5 million units. These are all promising signs that the company is still a strong player in the cellular phone market. While it may take more time for them to gain traction in American markets, the company is growing and competing. With newfound stability and a new line of phones, and tablets, look for Nokia to grow in 2014.
Alcatel-Lucent (ALU) provides cloud-networking services in addition to ultra-broadband access. The company also runs the Alcatel-Lucent Bell Lab that works to discover breakthroughs in networking and communications industries. The company was created in 2006 when Alcatel and Lucent technologies merged due to intense competition in European markets. Thomson Reuters has ranked Alcatel-Lucent in the top 100 Global Innovators three times. This award is bestowed upon companies such as Intel (INTC), Oracle (ORCL), and Boeing (BA). Since merging however, the stock has declined in value. In 2013, the stock price, which had dropped to below $1.50, climbed to over $4.00. While Alcatel-Lucent may not experience the same growth in 2014, they are still a smart buy. The company is thriving off the introduction of the shift plan. This plan, announced by CEO Michel Combes, transforms Alcatel-Lucent into an IP networking and ultra broadband specialist. This puts it in a market that is less saturated than the mainstream telecommunications industry. In addition, specializing the company allows the R&D department to put more funds into specific research. Alcatel-Lucent also recently went through an extensive restructuring period. This more efficient business model will make it highly competitive in the foreseeable future.
Huntington Bancshares (HBAN) is the 37th largest bank in America. Based in Ohio, most of its branches are in the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic regions. The company recently completed a merger with Camco Financial Corporation. The $97 million acquisition stabilized Huntington and provides them more presence in the state of Ohio. With the housing market making a recovery, Huntington is an interesting stock. Bank stocks can be a good pick in 2014 if the Federal Reserve allows modest rate increases. Higher interest rates would, potentially, result in greater cash flows (depending on how the market reacts). Small, regional banks have less risk than big banks given the size of their operations. Another intriguing aspect of Huntington Banks is that Utica Shale and Marcellus Shale have become big industries in Ohio, especially in areas that Huntington services. These industries bring jobs to the Midwest, which keeps unemployment down and expands regional economic activity. Currently HBAN trades for around $9.50, but analysts predict the stock price could rise as high as $11.00 this year.
Inland Real Estate
Inland Real Estate (IRC) specializes in renting neighborhood, community, and lifestyle retail centers. Its real estate assets total roughly $2 billion. IRC services both small and large companies. However, the majority of its business comes from nation wide retailers such as Safeway, Ross (ROST) and T.J. Maxx. IRC has done a good job of renting to stable, long-term tenants. Servicing these large companies gives IRC high retention rates and a guaranteed revenue stream. In addition, the company recently hired a new CEO, Mitchell Sabshon. Sabshon previously worked as a top executive at a competitor, Cole Real Estate Investments, making him an ideal man to run operations at Inland Real Estate. IRC stock currently trades for around $10.20, however analysts estimate that it could climb as high as $11.00. While this may not seem like substantial growth, IRC’s lower stock price allows for larger investments, which means higher returns if the stock appreciates.
Fortress Investment Group
Fortress Investment Group (FIG) went public in February of 2008 and peaked at a price of over $30 per share. However, by September of 2008 the company’s share price had dipped below $10 and has since remained at this level. FIG is an investment management company that invests in private equity. If you are not familiar with the industry, some similar companies are The Blackstone Group (BX) and KKR. Private equity firms live and die by the companies they invest in and help take public. If these firms purchase companies at low prices and then take them public, they can generate ridiculously high returns on investment. Fortress manages over $60 billion in assets and recently took public Intrawest Resorts Holdings Inc. (SNOW), one of several companies they have taken public in the past year. Private equity is an industry where just one or two well-timed IPO’s can generate billions in revenue. With Fortress stock trading well under $10 (~$8) now is the time to buy. Analysts estimate the stock will grow to between $9.50-$15.00.
Disclaimer: I do not currently own shares of Alcatel-Lucent, Nokia, Huntington Bancshares, Inland Real Estate, or Fortress Investment Group, nor do I plan to purchase any in the next 72 hours. The only compensation I receive for my articles is from Economix101, Inc.