Tuesday, June 2, 2009


I've mentioned that the exit strategy for my little foray into margin loans is the inevitable rise of Hospira common stock. If Hospira rises to $55, I can sell my 90 shares, pay back the margin loan and continue to hold the other shares I currently hold in an IRA. But, what is this "Hospira" I keep referring to? It's a former unit of Abbott Labs, which is another stock I own (and love). Hospira was spun off from the parent comany, which is where I got my initial dose of the stock. Later, when I became the executor of my mother's estate, I purchased 270 shares, or 90 for me and each of my two sisters. Hospira is a very simple, straightforward company--basically, they make injectables and I.V. systems for use in hospitals, clinics, and in-home care. In the past five fiscal years, their sales/revenue came in at about $2.64 billion, $2.62 billion, $2.68 billion, $3.43 billion, and $3.63 billion. Their net income (profit) has been anywhere from $107 million to $321 million most recently. The stock is not trading expensively--like most stocks these days--at only 13 times earnings. It earns $2.61 per share but--like many companies--pays no dividends. How do you make money on a stock that pays no dividends? You wait for it to rise in value, at which point you can sell for a capital gain or, perhaps, the company eventually does start paying dividends, making it both a growth and an income investment. From a technical standpoint, the short interest is very low in the stock; only about 2.5% of the shares have been sold short. The 52-week high is about $42; the 52-week low is about $21. Lately, it's on an uptrend: +7% last 5 days, +8% last 30 days, +15% last 60 days. What does this all mean for my chances of Hospira rising to $55 or higher, allowing me to sell and pay back the $5,000 I borrowed from my margin account? No idea. Luckily, the exam doesn't expect you to know something like that. The exam just wants you to have an idea what earnings and P/E ratios might be, which stocks are generally more volatile and which are generally more stable, that sort of thing. Being able to relate some of this exam material to the real world will give you a big edge when studying, so I encourage you to look up some of your favorite companies and look for testable points. Glance at the income statement, click on the "overview," and have yourself as much fun as I'm currently having at about 5 AM on a cold, dreary morning in early June.

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