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Barron's Recap: The World's Most Respected Companies

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This past weekend, Barron's online covered topics including the annual ranking of the world's most respected companies, the Treasury's auctioning of the remaining TARP shares, small cap company RealD and mid cap firm Corrections Corporation of America.

Cover Story

"The World's Most Respected Companies" by Michael Santoli discussed results of the annual survey of institutional investors. For the second year in a row, Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) has come out on top in Barron's ranking of the world's most respected companies. Investors might not be surprised that IBM (NYSE: IBM), McDonald's (NYSE: MCD) and Amazon.com (NASDAQ: AMZN) also ranked very highly in the annual survey. However, investors might be more surprised that Warren Buffett's reputation has taken a hit. Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK-A) had been in the top five for multiple years, but the company fell to number 15 for the 2012 list. JP Morgan Chase (NYSE: JPM), PepsiCo (NYSE: PEP) and Walmart (NYSE: WMT) also dropped in ranking for 2012. Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC) became the top-rated bank, moving up from the number 42 spot to number 27. Nestle was the only top 10 company based outside of the United States. Others in the top 10 include Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT), United Parcel Service (NYSE: UPS), Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO) and Intel (NASDAQ: INTC).

See also: Is It Too Late for Amazon to Copy Apple?

Feature Stories

"TARP's Last Stand" by Andrew Bary discusses the Treasury's efforts to exit from its remaining investments made through the Troubled Asset Relief Program in 2008 and 2009. To this end, the Treasury is selling preferred stock in smaller banks through auctions that could produce double-digit returns for investors. While many major US banks and larger regional banks have repurchased their TARP paper, more than 300 smaller banks and thrifts have not. The Treasury's remaining total is $11 billion. The treasury may auction some of this remaining total in within a year. However, the small size and low liquidity of the issues may limit involvement in the auctions by institutions, providing an opening for retail investors.

See also: U.S. Treasury Said to Sell Preferred Stock in Seven TARP Banks

Leslie P. Norton's "At RealD, 3D Springs Back to Life" focuses on the small-cap technology company that supplies theatres with systems that enable their projectors to play 3D movies, as well as sells the special glasses required. Perhaps providing a tailwind for the 3D technology company, early reviews for The Amazing Spider-Man in 3D have been positive. In addition, new licensing deals with a Chinese theater operator could help the Los Angeles based RealD's (NYSE: RLD) expansion overseas. One analyst suggests the stock could top $20 in the next year, up from Friday's close just shy of $14.

In "Ready to Bust Out," Jonathan R. Laing examines Corrections Corporation of America (NYSE: CXW), the Nashville-based company that, in return for a fee, houses federal, state, and local criminals at its facilities in 20 states and the District of Columbia. This company is attracting the attention of investors because of its growth potential and likely plan to convert itself into a real-estate investment trust. This conversion could help the company save on taxes at the corporate level and provide rich dividends. The stock was trading below $27 but could move as high as $49 to $54 a share if the company covert to REIT status, or $32 to $42 if it does not make this conversion.

Other featured stories:

  • Michael Shari's "Rising as Japan Declines" is a profile of hedge-fund manager Toru Hashizume.
  • "Fans of Green Mountain and Lots More" by Lawrence C. Strauss is an interview with Goodnow Investment's Randy Heck and Bradley Purcell.
  • In "Skinned in the Game," Amar Bhidé examines the pushback against one Dodd-Frank rule.
  • And "A Model for Mismanagement" is an editorial commentary by Thomas G. Donlan.

See also: Dimon: Don't Know If Dodd-Frank Made Financial System Safer

Columns

Columns in this weekend's Barron's discuss:

  • What Ben Bernanke is really up to
  • The consequences of lower crude-oil prices
  • Walgreen's (NYSE: WAG) dividend boost
  • Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT) new tablet PC
  • Tweeting the euro crisis
  • Hedge fund strategies for the second half
  • The Navy's use of biofuels
  • And more ...

See also: While Extending Twist, Federal Reserve Leaves Door Open for QE3 and Forget Apple: Microsoft's Surface Tablet Aimed at Dell, HP

Online Exclusives

This weekend's Barron's online exclusives include:

"All Is Well at Wells Fargo" by Dimitra Defotis discusses why Wells Fargo was not downgraded by Moody's last week, while the ratings firm downgraded 15 other financial institutions. Wells Fargo is a U.S.-focused commercial banking enterprise with small- and mid-sized business customers, and a mortgage operation that has been gaining share. Wells Fargo might not face the same earnings risk from global capital markets as those slapped on the wrist by Moody's. See the article for more on the prospects for Wells Fargo.

Latest Ratings for AAPL

DateFirmActionFromTo
Dec 2014CitigroupMaintainsBuy
Dec 2014JMP SecuritiesMaintainsMarket Outperform
Dec 2014Canaccord GenuityMaintainsBuy

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