Archive for the ‘QualityStocks for Women’ Category

Andrea Jung – Avon Products, Inc. (AVP)

Monday, September 8th, 2008

 

Company Overview
Avon is one of the United States’ oldest companies. Originally founded as the California Perfume Company in 1886, Avon has always been about marketing. On October 6, 1939, the wildly successful California Perfume,by then with over $4M in sales and more than 25,000 representatives, changed its name to Avon Products, Inc. People believe that the company was re-christened “Avon” for the whimsical reason that Suffern on the Ramapo, the New York State town in which the founder of the company lived, reminded him of Shakespeare’s Stratford-on-Avon1

Avon today calls itself “The Company for Women” and is one of the leading companies in the personal products industry. A global company with over $10 billion in annual revenue, it is the world’s largest direct marketer with 5.4M independent sales representatives. Currently, its product line includes not only beauty items but also jewelry and apparel. In addition, Avon has moved to the cyber-world, allowing customers to purchase its products via the Internet at Avon.com.

Finally, it is hard to miss Avon’s commitment to social responsibility. The corporate website, Avoncompany.com, prominently features a “Hello Tomorrow” logo and descriptive section that invites visitors to click and find out more. “Hello Tomorrow” is a program that not only enhances the sales representative’s ability to sell via the web, but also funds programs to enhance the empowerment of women and children worldwide. A cynic may say it is gimmicky, but it is consistent with Avon values. Avon’s values, conceived in 1886, as stated are to “meet fully the obligations of corporate citizenship by contributing to the well-being of society, and the environment in which it functions.”

Andrea Jung
Since the company’s values match her value system and passions very closely, Chariman/CEO Andrea Jung is a perfect match as the leader of Avon. In an early speech to sales representatives in Las Vegas when she first took on her role at age 41, she described to her audience what she called her proudest moment. Jung, a child of Chinese immigrant parents, traveled to China for the first time the prior year to meet and speak to women working in a Chinese factory. It made an impact on her. ”We will change the future of women around the world!” she exclaimed to the Vegas crowd2.

Her first action as CEO was to adopt a new vision for Avon. Jung challenged Avon to become “The Company for Women,” an organization that enables its sales reps to achieve economic self-sufficiency. Her goal was to re-make Avon into an organization that would work for the modern woman. To do so, Andrea had to address several legacy issues, and one of which, ironically, was at the core of Avon: its direct sales force. For a customer to buy anything, she was required to locate an Avon representative; this is inconvenient for the modern, Internet-savvy working woman. This distribution method worked well when women were not generally in the workforce, but it was no longer a model that worked well in today’s world.

Andrea knew she needed to provide customers additional purchasing options while not alienating the traditional sales representatives. In a brilliant move, she developed Avon.com, which allows purchases with or without a sales representative’s assistance. In addition, Avon developed trial kiosks for shopping malls, and allowed representatives to franchise them. Finally, Avon created a separate line of products to be sold through mass retailers such as Wal-Mart3 .

As her changes took hold, and Avon generated steady sales growth, Jung decided to expand Avon’s product lines. She hoped to attract a younger female consumer while not alienating her core middle-aged buyer. Her first product line expansion into nutritional supplements and vitamins was very successful. Next, Jung launched the equally successful “mark™” brand of cosmetics. It is positioned as the brand celebrating young women making their mark in the world.

Ms. Jung also expanded globally. Avon opened franchised stores in China as direct selling in that country was banned. Later Avon moved into Russia using direct selling, and the Russian market quickly became one of Avon’s fastest growing markets.

In 2004, Avon had trouble providing earnings guidance. It raised and lowered earnings estimates through the year hurting its credibility with Wall Street analysts. By the end of the year, earnings were up due to the impact of foreign sales, but sales in the U.S. had been poor. In August 2005, Avon announced that profits were off by 54% due to “a revamping program.” Another unfortunate factor affecting the stock price at this time was pending legislation that would adversely impact multi-level marketing companies. Stock short-sellers affected the market price significantly, and by October, the stock price had crashed by 40%. It looked as if the golden girl had her run, and her time was up. When this sort of thing happens, most Chairmen/CEOs are quietly asked to leave.

Instead, Andrea re-thought what she had done, gathered her advisors, and re-invented Avon again. She took the advice of a fellow CEO: “Pretend you were fired and brought back in new.”4 So, she eliminated eight levels of management and cut costs by $300 million. She also suspended guidance to security analysts about Avon’s projected earnings. Avon is again generating steady growth, and its stock price is approaching the highs of 2005.

Her rise to leadership was much like the popular Disney attraction “Test Track.” Imagine if you will, a sports car — you get in. You know it has power. It starts slowly, a few quick turns without much braking, ok, Bo-ring. But then, there’s a final breakaway. You careen from zero to 60 mph in no time flat. Your body is suddenly pressed to the back of the car seat, cheeks rippling. At first you laugh, and then you think, “I don’t like this.” Then it is fun again, and as suddenly as it started, it stops dead. You are surprised, shocked and flushed. You laugh again. You got there okay! You get out of the car, a little unsteady, but find that you can walk fine, and then you move to the next attraction.

That is exactly what Andrea Jung did. Jung received a BA in English literature from Princeton University in 1979 in 3 years, not the usual 4. After graduation, Jung joined the management trainee program at Bloomingdale’s but was a bit bored. She later joined I. Magnin, in San Francisco, becoming senior vice president and general merchandise manager, and then Neiman Marcus, in Dallas, as executive vice president. In 1993 Jung became a consultant for Avon, 1994 A year later she became president of the product marketing group for the United States. In 1999 Jung became president and CEO and was elected chairman in 2001 at the age of 41. Talk about fast track!5

But that success came with a price. Jung is separated from her second husband and naturally had to give up a private life. Jung says she is driven by a passion to make a difference. Through Avon, she seems to have found an avenue for it. “There is purpose in my work: enabling women to be self-empowered, to learn to run their own businesses and achieve the economic means to provide education.” At the end of the day, she says, that trumps all things6.

Current Season
Avon’s 2008 second quarter was double that of last year, largely due to sales in Latin America and Eastern Europe. While Avon profit was affected by increased oil prices and the economic slowdown in the US, its quarterly profit still hit $0.55 cents a share compared to last year’s $0.26 cents a share.

In addition, Avon is beginning to derive some momentum from the restructuring and downsizing begun in 2005, enjoying a lower cost structure. The company is attempting to hold down costs while spending more to attract good sales representatives.

Recent News
In recent news, Avon declared a regular $.20 cent per share quarterly dividend. Also, because Avon’s earnings were above expected for the second quarter, the results drove the stock price higher than some analysts expected it to be at this time. This resulted in a number of analysts downgrading the stock to a “hold” from a “buy,” since they felt it had reached its target value. This is arguable, since Avonplans to grow. An investor can only wait and see.

Interested in the Stock?
Since Jung took control in 2001, she’s had a vision. Avon’s stock price has moved from $12.41 on Sept. 1 1999 to a high of $46.14 on June 1, 2004. This was largely due to moves by Jung to re-structure the company and improve the brand image. However, market conditions and some restructuring costs as well as an inability to accurately forecast earnings led to lower and lower stock prices lower throughout 2004 and 2005 to a low of $27.00 on Sept 1, 2005. Since 2005, when Jung realized she needed to “reform” the company again, by eliminating management, stopping analyst earnings guidance, and restructuring the company, the stock price has climbed backed steadily to a tight 52-week range of $31.95 to $45.34, and is currently trading around $43.00. Avon is now able to accurately predict earnings and speak to analysts again. Analysts rate the stock this way: 7 believe it is a “Buy”, 4 believe it is a “Strong Buy” and 2 believe that if you have the stock you should just “Hold” it.

Avon has generated steady growth since hitting its low point in Oct 2005, when the stock price tumbled because of costs of a restructuring program, and some legislative factors beyond Avon’s control. Clearly, Jung is adept at dealing with market conditions, and customer wants and needs. Her suspension of earnings guidance for 2 years was a smart move, because she needed to solidify the business and ensure that her team knew how to forecast earnings correctly. Avon is definitely a company to watch!

Brenda Barnes – Sara Lee (SLE)

Tuesday, July 8th, 2008

CEO

At 53, Brenda Barnes is back and in full swing. Ten years ago, her 1997 resignation as Head of Pepsico’s North American Beverage business to spend more time with her family caused a huge debate at the time for women in business. Many felt Brenda had let down their gender by opting out of the executive office. Some speculated she left to protest her husband Randy Barnes’ stalled career as Senior VP and Treasurer at Pepsico. Brenda insisted the resignation was about parenthood.

Nevertheless, when Brenda left, it caused women in executive ranks around the US to take notice, but most just went about life as usual. As did Brenda. Within two years, she was back acting as interim chief operating officer of Starwood Hotels and Resorts. She also sat on seven corporate boards of directors, and continued her influence on boards during her so-called hiatus.

Barnes was one of seven daughters in a blue collar family where her mother died of cancer and her father, a maintenance worker for International Harvester, died from complications of diabetes. She graduated in 1975 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from Augustana College. Brenda went on to obtain her MBA from Loyola University Chicago in 1978. She was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Augustana in 1997. Once her 3 children Jeff, Brian and Erin were in high school and college, Brenda returned her focus to full time work taking the job of President at Sara Lee in 2004.

Company Overview
Sara Lee Corp. CEO Brenda Barnes is hunting for acquisitions, and Interstate Bakeries Corp., the maker of Wonder, as well as Hostess cupcakes and Twinkies could be a fix for her sagging bread business.

Ms. Barnes proved she can cut costs, sell underperforming businesses and begin the recovery of an ailing food and consumer products maker. But after 2½ years, she has yet to produce the blockbuster products investors expected from the former PepsiCo Inc. marketing whiz. New Jimmy Dean breakfast sandwiches, wheat bread that tastes like white bread and European air fresheners haven’t satisfied shareholders’ craving for faster sales growth.

Current Season
Excluding divested lines such as Hanes, Sara Lee’s sales rose 7% to $12.3 billion in its fiscal year ended June 30. Net income was $504 million, or 68 cents a share. For fiscal 2008, the company has projected profit as high as $1.01 a share. Its operating profit margin was 7%, well short of Ms. Barnes’ long-term goal of 12%. New products will play a key role in reaching profit goals.

“Where is the growth going to come from?” asks Gregg Warren, an analyst in Chicago with Morningstar Inc. “That is an awful lot of new products.”

Sales of new Jimmy Dean breakfast sandwiches and skillets helped the frozen breakfast category rise 30% in the last three months. J. P. Morgan Securities Inc. estimates the category accounts for 5% of Sara Lee’s U.S. retail sales, which were $4.6 billion in 2007. Sara Lee hasn’t been very good at innovating in the last 10 years, but Ms. Barnes has made it a higher priority for the company, says Ken Harris, a managing director with Evanston consultancy Cannondale Associates.

“It takes about two years to get the innovation pipeline robust, and it’s appropriate now to expect them to provide a glimpse into new products,” Mr. Harris says.

Recent News
In recent news, Sara Lee announced that Peggy M. Foran would become executive vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary. Foran had previously been with Pfizer. Barnes commented, “She is recognized worldwide as a true leader with a reputation for the highest levels of personal integrity.”

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Susan Arnold – Procter and Gamble Co. (PG)

Tuesday, July 8th, 2008

CEO

Susan Arnold is a bit of an enigma. Little is written about her personal life anywhere. Her corporate biography shows that she went directly from college at University of Pennsylvania to pursue her MBA at University of Pittsburgh. From there, she promptly joined Procter and Gamble in September of 1980 and has been there ever since. A career in a single company is a rarity these days, but it is more common among the women who break through. Susan was the first woman to achieve the title of President at Procter and Gamble.

Along the way, she managed to have two children, a daughter Sarah, born in 1995 and a son Mark, born in 1992. Of her children she says “Having children made me set priorities, leaders who don’t set priorities can burn out their organizations.” Surely her success was attributable to more than that. A look at the jobs she had along the 28 years at P&G shows she was willing to take lateral moves to enhance the breadth of her knowledge in the company.

For example: In 1981 she became the Assistant Brand Manager for Oxydol. In 1983, instead of trying to move up too quickly, she took another Assistant Brand Management position, this time for Cascade. Susan repeated that pattern later as a Brand Manager, then as an Associate Advertising Manager and again as a Vice President. It clearly gave her the opportunity to understand the different parts of the company.

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In a picture that went with a recent interview published by a notable business magazine, Arnold sat with two aging golden retrievers, and looked very comfortable with her life. She was quoted saying, “I live in the moment. I love what I do. I don’t worry about tomorrow.”

Arnold seems positioned to be next in line at P&G. Only time and circumstances will tell.

Interested in the Company?

Procter and Gamble provides branded consumer products in 180 countries, primarily through mass merchandisers like grocery stores or membership club stores. Procter and Gamble even has an executive dedicated to the Walmart account. Procter and Gamble was founded in 1837 and is headquartered in Cincinnati, OH. P&G’s products are diverse, including air fresheners, deodorants, baby and childcare items, batteries, body wash and soaps, colognes, commercial products, cosmetics, dish washing, feminine care, hair care, hair color, health care, household cleaners, laundry and fabric care, oral care, paper products, pet nutrition, prescription drugs, prestige fragrances, shaving, skin care, small appliances, snacks and coffee. An example list of familiar products includes: Cover Girl, Braun, Vicks, Downy, Charmin, Tide, and Crest, among many others.

P&G was trading around $64 towards the end of June on average volume of 11.85M, just above its 52 week low of $60.76. P&G’s 52 week high is $75.18. Of the 16 analysts watching the stock, 8 suggest hold, 3 recommend buy and 5 recommend a strong buy.

In Recent News
On June 26, 2008, Procter and Gamble’s CoverGirl Brand announced it would use the women from the USA gymnastics team as “faces” of CoverGirl cosmetics. This is the first time female athletes will be used as CoverGirls. The women chosen, Shawn Johnson, Nastia Liukin and Alicia Sacramone, will join such esteemed women as Drew Barrymore, Queen Latifah, Rihanna and Cheryl Tiegs. The CoverGirl brand is known for consistently signing models that embody both inner and outer beauty.

On June 4, 2008 P&G filed with the SEC the intent to merge P&G’s coffee business into Smucker’s in an all stock reverse Morris Trust transaction. Commenting on the effects the transaction will have on shareholders, A.G. Lafley, chairman and CEO of P&G, said, “This transaction maximizes the after-tax value of the coffee business for P&G shareholders and minimizes earnings per share dilution.”

In the 10Q filed with the SEC on May 1 2008, P&G noted in their forward looking statements risks associated with Cost Pressures and recent price fluctuations with commodity items, raw materials, labor costs and foreign interest rates. Also noted were concerns regarding global economic conditions, and specifically patent issues with the acquisition of Gillette.

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Angela Braly – Wellpoint, Inc. (WLP)

Tuesday, July 8th, 2008

CEO

Known to skip monthly management team meetings for her daughter’s birthday and to reschedule a board meeting so she could attend her daughter’s 4th grade play, Angela Braly at 46 is one of the youngest women CEOs, as well as the only one running a Fortune 50 company. With three children, Angela managed the family life balance through a suggestion by her husband that he become a stay at home dad.

Rather than ‘coming from nowhere’ to take the CEO position, Angela has a long history of health care involvement, first working passionately for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Missouri, then setting up a foundation for uninsured Missourians, becoming General Council for RightChoice, the parent company for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Missouri. RightChoice was acquired by Wellpoint, and Angela became CEO of Wellpoint’s Missouri operation. In 2005 Angela became General Counsel of Wellpoint in Indianapolis. Subsequently in June of 2007, Angela was appointed CEO.

Her colleagues say she is a skilled and tough negotiator and coalition builder. Angela is well paid for these skills. Her salary for 2007 was approximately $0.9 million, with other long term compensation of more than $8.1 million for a total of about $9 million. Not bad, especially for someone who thought she would just be practicing law in St Louis for her entire working life!

Interested in the stock? Here are some things you might want to know:

Company Overview
WellPoint is the nation’s largest health benefits company in terms of commercial membership—more than 35 million Americans nationwide are covered through its subsidiary health plans. The company employs more than 40,000 associates and generates operating revenue in excess of $60 billion.

Current Season
The stock price tumbled for the first time in 3 years to a low of $43.02 on March 10, 2008. Earnings for 4th quarter of 2007 and 1st quarter of 2008 were worse than expected, leading many analysts to downgrade the stock. Goldman-Sachs cited concerns that Wellpoint is ignoring certain underlying root causes for the earnings issue in core commercial underwriting. However, with a P/E ratio at 9.5 in the mid range of companies in the managed health care sector, and 2008 expected EPS of $5.48, 11 of the 18 analysts following the stock are saying to hold the stock, 3 suggest a buy (2 of these are dated in 2006 and should be discounted) and 4 suggest a strong buy.

Recent News
Several positive announcements follow the current season’s earnings disappointments such as winning a Medicare Administrative contract worth as much as $323 million and the April 29 acquisition of DeCare Dental, which boosts Wellpoint’s presence in the dental care arena. Also, on June 24, Wellpoint Websites won 6 World Wide Web Health awards from the Health Information Resource Center.

Balance Sheet
The company sits financially in the middle of the sector, with a debt to equity ratio of .3, an EPS growth rate of 15% and a profit margin of 5.5%. However, Wellpoint is the second highest in the industry sector in terms of market capitalization, leaving it plenty of capital for acquisition.

Bottom Line
Wellpoint is currently trading at approximately $51.35, with a PEG ratio of .70 compared to industry ratios of 1.17 and sector ratios of 1.45 according to 1st call. This could indicate the stock is a bargain compared to others in the same category. The balance sheet shows they are not over-extended for an acquisition strategy, if they do it carefully. Analysts are recommending hold or better. Now might be the time to start watching this stock.

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Julie Gilbert – Best Buy Co. Inc. (NYSE:BBY)

Friday, March 14th, 2008

CEO

Julie Gilbert has touched the lives of tens of thousands in her role at BestBuy Co. Inc. (BBY) as the Senior Vice President of Retail Training, Leadership Development and Women’s Leadership Forum (also known as WoLF). In her positions, she leads Best Buy’s innovation and guides the Company’s plan of increasing its market share with female customers, who believe-it-or-not outspend men in today’s consumer electronics industry.

Julie’s greatest passion is empowering others to help them become leaders. In fact, she previously did this for quite awhile as a side hobby by randomly visiting stores and mentoring the employees who wanted to take larger roles in their companies. Through her guidance, many saw changes in their lives both inside and outside of the workplace.

Today, Julie is devoted to discovering the leadership abilities in every Best Buy employee by creating motivated training programs. She also does this by using the talents of thousands of female employees to transform the business, and organizing a leadership forum with the purpose of giving high-potential employees opportunities to partner with corporate support teams and take on new business pursuits.

Even though Julie has a full schedule, she still finds time to maintain an active lifestyle through dancing, aerobics, inline skating, bicycling and downhill skiing activities. She is also a gifted writer and has been published internationally. Her background of expanding the horizons of businesses and individuals has attracted the attention of top publications as she has been named one of the 100 most successful women in business by Profiles in Diversity Journal magazine and one of Minnesota’s Women to Watch by Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal.

What are some of the best things to know about Best Buy?

Balance Sheet: Best Buy’s balance sheet is in great shape. Total assets reported for the period ending December 1st 2007 totaled over $15 billion, exceeding the $11.7 billion reported in liabilities. Long term debt is only 15% of its capital and the company holds an incredible $1.3 billion in cash and cash equivalents.

Emerging HD Video Market: Now that the new HDTVs are coming down to an affordable price, more consumers are looking to upgrade their old television sets. The recently passed legislation requiring all programming to be converted to digital by February 17, 2009 also encourages HDTV sales as older analog TVs aren’t able to display digital content without a converter box.

Budding HD Content Market: Of course after getting an HDTV, consumers need to have HD content to get the most from their new set. Best Buy’s senior vice president commented, “With the explosion of HDTVs, customers are hungry for quality, high definition content.” One of the best ways of experiencing full HD is buying a new Blu-ray player, along with a collection of Blu-ray discs, both of which add to the Company’s revenues.

Bottom Line: Although Best Buy boasts sales growth of 16.50% for the last 12 months and an income growth of 52% for the same period, the future grows dim in any light of recession. If the economy can find its footing again and begin uptrending, Best Buy will be well positioned to reap the benefits and pass on the added value to shareholders.

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Carolyn Corvi – Boeing Co. (NYSE:BA)

Friday, March 14th, 2008

CEO

When Carolyn Corvi was nominated to join Boeing’s MIT Sloan Management program thirty-one years ago, she went down in the Company’s history as the very first female nominee. Since then she has seen more women find their place in the Company’s leading roles. She said, “Where I saw real change was in the early 1980s, when younger people came to work here came from families where moms and sisters or other women they were associated with already had careers. They did not act like a woman was out of place or different because, from their orientation, it was normal.”

Not only did Carolyn face being one of the only women in the aviation industry; she also had to convince management that her Bachelor of Arts degree in History was suitable for an engineering career. Although odds were against her; the creativity, innovation, and accomplishments she brought to Boeing caused her to stick out. One of her greatest achievements was cutting the 737 final assembly flow time in half, which got the attention of all Boeing’s competitors.

Carolyn has found herself constantly changing jobs during the 30 plus years she has worked for Boeing. Even though she saw the new responsibilities as great opportunities to discover new abilities, she was disappointed that she never saw the fruits of her time and dedicated energy. Today she no longer has that issue as she now oversees the unprecedented integration of commercial airplane production from the design, fabrication, and assembly of all airplanes to their delivery.

Outside of her work she enjoys keeping in tune with current events, foreign policy and politics, as well as one of her favorite sports – auto racing. She stays active by hiking, bicycling and adventurously traveling the globe. Her inspirational spirit is the driving force behind Boeing’s slogan, “Forever New Frontiers.”

What’s the scoop with Corvi’s Boeing?

Outlook for 2008: The Company believes this year will be another strong one, even after achieving three record years. Fitch Ratings also sees a positive future for Boeing as its outlook was recently changed from “stable” to “positive.” The rating agency’s “A-plus” rating is supported by the Company’s debt reduction and stronger than expected free cash flow.

Expanding Markets: Aviation markets are expected to get a strong boost since governments are easing regulations that were restricting access to certain markets. Boeing stands to benefit as developing regions become more influential on the international flying field.

Recent News: A couple of weeks ago Boeing announced that it won a new $73.7 Million U.S. Navy contract to develop a next-generation weapon system designed to improve the Navy’s surface warfare capabilities. The plane maker also excitedly announced that it formed a joint-venture with Tata Industries Limited of India and has already secured over $500 million of defense related aerospace component work.

Bottom line: For many years Boeing has established a reputation of building the best airplanes. Right now, about $224 billion dollars worth of orders are waiting to be filled, showing the powerful demand for the company’s airplanes. With more opportunities opening up around the world, the future looks bright for Boeing.

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Ann Livermore – Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ)

Friday, March 14th, 2008

CEO

When Ann Livermore was only 12, she persuaded her father to teach her how to drive. Imagine that! There’s even car paint on the pole of a basket ball hoop to prove it! Even though Ann had diabetes as a child, she did not let it stop her from becoming a tennis doubles champion or captain of her high school basketball team. Not only was she known as one of her school’s best athletes, but also for her academic brilliance. She won a prestigious Jim Motley Morehead scholarship before heading off to college.

Ann’s older sister, who probably pestered Ann when they were young, says, “She’s always been a go-getter.” As a teenager Ann was involved in many high-risk adventures. She loved to come home and tell her family and friends all about her hair-raising experiences. This fearless nature later helped Ann increase HP’s software and services business 50% in just two years. When commenting on her exceptional success, HP’s former services chief, James Arthur, said, “She just makes things happen.”

When Ann first joined HP in 1982, she immediately began working her way up through the company’s computer services division. About ten years later she became the head of the division and was soon assisting the development of HP’s first internet strategy. This was far from her original dream of becoming a singer; even though truth be told her karaoke skills weren’t very good.

Today, Ann manages HP’s Technology Solutions Group, which is a $33+ billion business that ranges from storage and servers to software and services. While directing as the Executive Vice President, Anne is careful to tap into the abilities of her employees while still touching their hearts. She said, ”I learned that I’m a very, very well-controlled executive, but that my employees like when I go off the handle every once in a while–you know, show my human side.”

What are some recent developments with HP? Let’s take a look.

Positive Outlook: Just last month HP reported a net revenue growth of 13% from last year (8% when adjusted for inflation) and raised its full-year earnings outlook. The CEO Mark Hurd commented, “We are raising our guidance yet again, reflecting our confidence.” The Company added over 2,000 sales positions throughout 2007 and is poised for profitable growth.

Recent News: HP recently signed a huge $675 million contract with Unilever, a company they’ve worked with in the past. The contract will allow Unilever to focus on growing their business while HP manages and updates their computer network and optimizes the Company’s client services around the world. After the news was released, the stock price rose all day long before reaching its high-of-day 15 minutes before the closing bell.

Analyst Opinion: Although not all analysts covering HP believe it is a “Buy,” most of them do. 11 of the 27 analysts say it’s a “Strong Buy,” another 11 say it’s a “Buy,” 4 say it’s a “Hold,” and only one says it’s a “Sell.” The recent financial results and strong outlook put out by the company caused a few analysts to upgrade their price targets. Doug Reid of Thomas Weisel lifted his target from $51 to $54 and Andrew Neff of Bear Stearns upgraded his $68 price target to $70.

Bottom Line: Although HP has been making positive moves forward and is expecting a great year ahead, the U.S. consumer market is now more careful where it spends its money. Fortunately the company already saw this coming and has been busy expanding in a variety of markets. In fact, 69% of the sales for the latest quarter came from outside of U.S. borders. Even though the management made wise decisions to prepare for a slowdown in the U.S. economy, HP would still hurt if most U.S. customers weren’t able to continue buying their products.

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Woman on Top: Quality Stocks for Women Boasts Big Names and Financial Solutions for every Woman

Tuesday, December 11th, 2007

Jennifer Openshaw’s Quality Stocks for Women is a bi-monthly newsletter catering to the financial savvy woman, or to the woman who wants to be. Though the site offers everything from “Finances of Famous Women Series” to a car safety checklist, Openshaw’s resume is enough to catch your eye. As the founder and CEO of Family Financial Network and commentator for Marketwatch.com, AOL and CNN, Openshaw says her life “has always been about helping people, women especially. It is my passion.”

So … women listen up. The newsletter offers discussions on investing, credit, money management, college savings, retirement issues and more. The “One’s to Watch” List currently highlights the successes of prominent business women such as Anne Mulcahy, CEO of Xerox, Inc.; Susan McGalla, president and chief merchandising officer of American Eagle Outfitters; and Anne Sweeney, president of Disney/ABC Television Group. And following each woman’s biography is a glimpse into the finances of each company.

And what women’s publication isn’t complete without a little fashion and wine? Openshaw gives pocketbook-friendly shopping advice about clothes, wine and gifts – all in an effort to empower women and to teach them to make wise investment and spending decisions.

Kathy Ireland is the current face for the “Finances of Famous Women Series.” Ireland describes the climb from her first job as a “papergirl” to becoming a supermodel, and the financial decisions she made along the way.

Openshaw’s background gives her the clout to give sound advice. She holds an MBA and BA from UCLA and sits on the advisory board for Wyndham Hotels. She has also served as the “Money Expert” for KCBS-TV in Los Angeles, and is a contributing money editor to Lifetime Television’s Lifetime Live and Child magazine. Anyone can use a little financial advice, and the site is definitely worth checking out … male or female!

View and Sign Up for the complete newsletter at the following link: http://www.qualitystocksforwomen.com/email/dec07_signup.html

Let us hear your thoughts below:

Anne Sweeney – Disney-ABC Television Group (NYSE:DIS)

Tuesday, December 11th, 2007

Anne Sweeney’s career story is an inspiration to all those who hear it. When Anne accepted a job during her college years at ABC Studios, no one knew where it would lead. More than twenty-five years later she became the President of the Disney-ABC Television Group and was titled “The Most Powerful Woman in Entertainment” by the Hollywood Reporter.

Anne first began her career when she started working for Nickelodeon as an assistant program manager. After rising through the ranks at Nickelodeon, Anne moved on to help establish FX Networks. There, she decided to expand the network into the field of cable television.

Although she experienced great success, Anne desperately wanted to return to children’s programming. She got her wish when she was offered the opportunity to become both the Executive Vice President of Disney/ABC and the President of Disney’s premium cable network.

One of Anne’s first goals as President was to bring Disney Channel into more homes by changing it from a premium service, limited to only higher income homes, to a channel offered on basic cable. She also added more programs that were geared towards the “tween” age bracket. Within just a few years, Disney Channel reached over three times as many homes.

What should you know about the Company from an investment perspective? Here are some current news items:

Analyst Ratings: Most analysts have issued a “Hold” rating, although almost just as many have given the stock a “Strong Buy” rating. The average of recommendations is currently at “overweight,” which falls in between “Hold” and “Strong Buy.”

Recent Quarter Results: In the most recently reported quarter, the company stated that it saw net income increase substantially from last year’s $3.37 billion to $4.69 billion. Disney’s well recognized brands and inspired content gives it much potential to continue growing in size and adding value to its stock.

Recent Developments: Disney plans to spend over $1 billion overhauling its California Adventure theme park, making it the most expensive makeover to date. The massive project will begin next year and is expected to take about four years to finish.

On the downside of things, the weakening dollar could slow down business. Another concern is that the company will most likely have to increase its online advertising budget as more people increase the time spent in their computer chairs and decrease the time they watch TV.

Bottom Line: Disney’s plan to update its theme park is a great strategy on a long term basis, but could hinder returns in the short term. However, the company has several highly-rated films just coming out on DVD and number of feature films in the pipeline for next year which could help make up for the renovation costs.

To view our complete Women of QualityStocks Newsletter and Sign-up for future editions, please visit: http://www.qualitystocksforwomen.com/newsletter/dec07_signup.html

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Susan McGalla – American Eagle Outfitters, Inc. (NYSE:AEO)

Tuesday, December 11th, 2007

Susan McGalla, President and Chief Merchandising Officer of American Eagle Outfitters, Inc. (AEO), was taught growing up that she was a person, not a man or a woman. She lived with her two brothers in East Liverpool, Ohio, where her dad was known as one of the town’s football coaches. Susan’s upbringing gave her the strength needed to lead one of the largest teen retailers as President and Chief Merchandising Officer.

In the middle of 2005, Susan was put in charge of designing, merchandising, and marketing the clothes that are now seen on teens all over country. Even though Susan felt like the other management was judging her, she never let it hinder her from sharing new ideas.

Susan, it’s been said, has a way of making people take a second look by moving beyond the ordinary. When leading a celebration to announce the retailer’s move to the South Side, for example, she wore jeans instead of the usual business clothes. Would you ever do that? Actually, just being a woman entrepreneur has turned heads, but she has always been careful not to play “the woman card” when dealing with tough situations.

If you’re thinking about investing in American Eagle, here are some things you should know:

Insider Transactions: Recently one of American Eagle’s directors purchased over $20 million worth of stock. This bodes well for shareholders as it shows the confidence management has in their company.

Recent News: The Company announced a new line of workout wear designed for 15 to 25 year old girls. The new concept complements the company’s aerie product line, which has been successful since its launch last year.

Balance Sheet: American Eagle has $760 million in cash and cash equivalents with no debt and a 23% three-year return on capital. This is not to mention its 71% three-year return on incremental investment.

Current season: The Christmas season is upon us, which is particularly exciting for retailers like American Eagle. Analysts are predicting as high as a $0.71 earnings per share (EPS) for the fourth quarter of 2007.

As with Xerox, a negative movement in the economy will most likely significantly hurt American Eagle since their clothing is higher priced and considered a luxury by many American families. But if the economy doesn’t fall into a recession, shareholders could see gains up towards 60% in the next year based on the industry average P/E of 17.2.

Bottom Line: American Eagle’s shares are considerably undervalued, and the company has great upside potential. The large insider transaction shows that even management acknowledges this. Who would know the company better than those in charge?

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Anne Mulcahy – Xerox, Inc. (NYSE:XRX)

Tuesday, December 11th, 2007

Imagine being the only girl with four brothers. That’s what life was like for Xerox CEO Anne Mulcahy. In fact, Anne’s parents always encouraged her to compete at the same level as the rest of her four brothers. And, through their encouragement, she learned to never limit herself or give up — even when the odds seemed impossible.

After finishing high school, Anne went to Marymount College where she earned her degree in English and Journalism. After graduation, Anne began working for Xerox as a sales representative. Before long, her supervisors noticed her strong dedication. By May of 2000, she was chosen by Xerox’s board to be the President and CEO-in-waiting.

Anne’s straightforward, hardworking, and disciplined spirit was desperately needed by the Company since they were in a very difficult financial position. It didn’t take long before she started making decisions that effected the entire organization. The decisive improvements she made were a crucial part of restructuring the business and reducing long-term debt.

Many colleagues have praised Anne for her honesty and willingness to tackle the tough tasks. Today, the Xerox brand is well-known around the globe and notorious for bringing the latest technology to the document management and service enterprises.

Here are some recent moves you should know about Xerox:

Recent Company News: One of Xerox’s subsidiaries announced that it acquired Image Quest, Inc. to further increase its growing number of suppliers. This move adds more than 3,500 customers and brings Xerox’s presence to the state of Kansas.

Dividend: Last month, the Company announced its first dividend in over six years. Anne said that “With our return to investment grade, strong cash generation and effective business model, we’ve significantly strengthened our financial position, providing flexibility for investing in our business and delivering shareholder returns.”

Current Financial Status: Xerox’s latest quarterly earnings beat Wall Street’s estimates by reporting a 12% increase in revenues and earnings of 27 cents per share. The strong growth is the outcome of the Company’s innovation, great portfolio, and acquisitions that are delivering value to shareholders as well as customers.

One important thing to note is that if the economy continues to slowdown it will hurt the accounts of consumers and businesses. Although Xerox’s products are known for their superiority, they are also priced higher, which could lead struggling businesses to buy from lower priced competitors.

Bottom Line: The Company’s management team has done a great job substantially improving the financial condition of the company and has shown investors that they do not plan to stop. As long as the economy remains strong, Xerox has serious upside potential.

To view our complete Women of QualityStocks Newsletter and Sign-up for future editions, please visit: http://www.qualitystocksforwomen.com/newsletter/dec07_signup.html

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Jennifer Openshaw’s Desire for Financial Independence Leads to the Discovery of a Strong Entrepreneur

Monday, November 19th, 2007

Jennifer Openshaw had a dream of being financially independent after working to support her divorced mother and two siblings at the age of fourteen. Before founding Women’s Financial Network, which was later sold to Siebert Financial (NASDAQ:SIEB), she pursued a career in finance at Bank of America (NYSE:BAC), Wilshire Associates and Bank One – now JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM).

Currently she writes a newsletter at QualityStocksForWomen.com in addition to providing financial planning services and products as chief executive of Family Financial Network. Jennifer stated, “After achieving my own success and starting several companies, I’ve been committed to helping others do the same, whether it’s providing them financial planning services or offering self-help tools to manage spending or turn a passion into income.”

Jennifer relies on her smart phone and laptop to keep her up-to-date on the latest market happenings no matter where she is. She also utilizes the benefits of financial website by using them to research stocks and scan through public filings. Jennifer also uses the Corporate Government Rating system to quickly see the quality of a firm’s management.

Jennifer commented that she wishes to see more tools and services that give investors the ability to connect with entrepreneurs. She is already making the steps to fulfilling her desire by founding TheMillionaireZone.com, which allows users take a quiz to find out which approach best suits their personal preferences.

She stated, “Not a day goes by when I don’t think about our story and how we all need to be open to the possibilities, because whether it’s investing to build our next business or real estate project, the person who could help you get to the next level is probably right in front of you.”

Let us hear your thoughts below:

Ann Taylor Stores (ANN): Fashion for the Professional Woman

Monday, September 3rd, 2007

A trip through any mall in the country shows that corporate America is not shy about satisfying the fashion tastes of younger women. There are, however, relatively few firms that cater to the busy professional woman in need of a coordinated wardrobe. One of them is headquartered on Times Square.

Ann Taylor Stores (NYSE: ANN) is a national specialty apparel retailer for the professional woman. The firm operates 887 stores across the United States, targeting fashion conscious customers with clothes designed exclusively for its own outlets. Most signature Ann Taylor stores are located in malls and upscale retail centers. The chain’s Ann Taylor Loft stores offer their own label of mid-priced apparel and Ann Taylor Factory stores offer clearance merchandise. The company also operates a pair of Web sites. Competitors include Jones Apparel Group (NYSE: JNY) and Liz Claiborne (NYSE: LIZ).

The firm pleased investors last week, when it reported solid Q2 results, reaffirmed guidance for FY08 earnings and authorized a new $300 million stock buyback program. Management also said that it will be launching a new store concept next month, aimed at what it calls the “modern boomer segment.” The new approach will involve an attempt to tap into a demographic that has more disposable income, but fewer shopping options, than its younger counterparts.

The ANN share price popped through 30-day moving average resistance on the news and has since begun to define a bullish “flag” consolidation pattern. Stocks frequently exit flags moving in the same direction they were traveling when they entered them. In this case, that would be to the upside.

Brokers recommend the issue with four “strong buys”, five “buys”, eight “holds” and one “sell”. Analysts expect an 18% growth rate, through the next year. The ANN P/E ratio (16.29), PEG ratio (1.07), Price to Sales ratio (0.85), Price to Book ratio (2.19), Price to Cash Flow ratio (8.17) and Price to Free Cash Flow ratio (20.39) compare favorably with industry, sector and S&P 500 averages.

Institutional investors hold about 95% of the outstanding shares. The stock is one of those used to calculate the S&P 400 MidCap Index. Over the past 52 weeks, it has traded between $27.05 and $45.15.

QualityStocks.net and Jennifer Openshaw Jointly Launch “QualityStocks for Women” Newsletter

Thursday, August 9th, 2007

QualityStocks.net and Jennifer Openshaw are pleased to announce that the first “QualityStocks for Women” Newsletter has been published and is available at http://www.qualitystocks.net/forwomen/july2007.html

The monthly newsletter will feature up to four companies and include other personal finance information. All the companies featured will be managed or owned by women who have compelling success stories.

Jennifer Openshaw stated earlier, “The QualityStocks for Women newsletter will introduce readers to the great women leading our nation’s public companies and give them information to help them make smart investing and other financial decisions. I’m thrilled to be bringing this exciting, innovative product to market.”

Please share your thoughts at: The QualityStocks for Women Message Board

Jennifer Openshaw to Launch “QualityStocks for Women” Monthly Newsletter

Wednesday, August 1st, 2007

Jennifer Openshaw is pleased to announce that she will be launching the nation’s first publication specifically covering businesses owned or managed by women. Jennifer Openshaw’s newsletter is distributed to over 35 million women starting this September.

Jennifer Openshaw said, “The QualityStocks for Women newsletter will introduce readers to the great women leading our nation’s public companies and give them information to help them make smart investing and other financial decisions. I’m thrilled to be bringing this exciting, innovative product to market.”

A recent survey showed that only 35% of women trust themselves to make their own investing decisions, but over 80% of women are concerned they are not saving enough for retirement. The newsletter will educate women about their current holdings and give them the confidence to invest on their own.

The monthly newsletter will feature up to four companies and include other personal finance information. All the companies featured will be managed or owned by women who have compelling success stories.

Please share your thoughts: QualityStocks for Women Message Board

StockGuru News: ZAP (OTC BB: ZAAP) Signs Exclusive Agreement for Advanced Lithium Battery Management System

Tuesday, January 23rd, 2007
ZAP (OTC BB: ZAAP) Signs Exclusive Agreement for Advanced Lithium Battery Management System

ZAP (OTCBB: ZAAP)

Electric car technology maximizes performance and safety of lithium batteries, delivering up to five times the range of lead-acid

SANTA ROSA, Calif., Jan. 23 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — Advanced transportation pioneer ZAP (OTC Bulletin Board: ZAAP – News) has signed an exclusive distribution agreement for a sophisticated new lithium battery management system developed by Eco Tech A/S of Denmark to be incorporated into the XEBRA line of electric cars and trucks.

The new battery management system is part of ZAP’s ongoing research and development for a new generation of electric vehicles incorporating advanced technologies. ZAP says the new battery management system utilizes innovations in computerized microprocessors and intelligent chargers required to control the charging and discharging of large format lithium-ion batteries. The new system helps maximize the efficiency and performance of lithium-ion batteries, delivering as much as five times the range over the lead-acid batteries currently used in a wide variety of electric vehicles.

“A key element of this new technology is the development of sophisticated software supported by the Danish Government that allows the use of lithium batteries for electric cars to be practical and safe,” said Ivan Loncarevic of Eco-Tech. Eco Tech’s battery management technology has been supported by the Danish Institute of Technology and funds from the Danish Ministry of Science.

ZAP has received the first electric vehicle design incorporating this new technology and will issue updates on the results of testing. The northern California company currently markets a variety of electric vehicles, including electric cars, trucks, off-road vehicles and other forms of personal electric transportation. The overall mission of ZAP is to establish a brand and portal for a wide range of advanced technology vehicles, including electric and hybrid vehicle designs. ZAP has done extensive research into advanced battery technologies and recently launched sales and marketing of rechargeable lithium-battery systems for mobile electronics.

“This is the very first cost effective lithium battery system we have received for use in a vehicle,” said ZAP Chairman Gary Starr. “This technology from Eco-Tech has the potential to enhance the acceptance of electric technologies in the auto industry and we look forward to incorporating these advances into our existing and future vehicles.”

About ZAP

ZAP has been a leader in advanced transportation technologies since 1994, delivering more than 90,000 fuel-efficient vehicles to consumers in more than 75 countries. A publicly owned company, ZAP is at the forefront of transportation with new technologies including energy efficient gas systems, hydrogen, electric, fuel cell, alcohol, hybrid and other innovative power systems. ZAP is also offering Portable Energy technology that manages power for mobile electronic devices. For purchasing, dealer and investor information, call 707-525-8658 or visit http://www.zapworld.com.

Forward-looking statements in this release are made pursuant to the “safe harbor” provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Investors are cautioned that such forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties, including, without limitation, continued acceptance of the Company’s products, increased levels of competition for the Company, new products and technological changes, the Company’s dependence upon third-party suppliers, intellectual property rights, and other risks detailed from time to time in the Company’s periodic reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Source: ZAP

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