The Best Ideas of the Week

David Sterman's picture

Friday, June 4, 2010 - 5:44pm

by David Sterman

What a week. The market gyrations are likely triggering strong demand for heartburn medicine right now. Stocks of all stripes took it on the chin, and many are now down for the year. Whiles investors focused on the daunting headlines, they may have overlooked some important news coming out of specific stocks. So it helps to take a look back and point the spotlight once more on some of the most compelling stocks from StreetAuthority's daily "Winners" and "Losers" articles.

Martek Biosciences (Nasdaq: MATK)

As we pointed out this morning Martek Biosciences delivered a solid fiscal second quarter after Thursday's close, and investors responded in kind, pushing shares up +16.2% on a day when the major indices fell -3% to -4%. Martek, a nutritional supplement maker, looks set for solid growth simply on the basis of a recent flurry of new contracts. But buried in the company’s press release was an item many investors may have overlooked. Martek’s supplements, which are already seeing strong demand in infant formulas, salad dressings, and animal food, also could become a blockbuster product in the geriatric market.

The company’s fatty acids, which are made from algae, look very promising in trials regarding memory retention and cardiovascular health in senior citizens. The path to approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) could be pretty easy. After all, algae and fatty acids (also known as Omega-3's) are widely used, and represent no known toxicity issues. Martek is also pursuing a wide range of other uses for its products, and is doing so on less than $40 million in R&D expenses.

As free cash flow, and if it weren’t for those R&D expenses, free cash flow would be closer to $150 million. That’s not bad for a company valued at around $745 million with major growth prospects. MATK today rose $3.12 to $22.37 a share.

athenahealth (Nasdaq: ATHN)

Investors in athenahealth have less to cheer about. As we noted, the electronic records specialist just announced a key executive was being replaced in hopes of reining in costs. But investors should know that it’s a lot easier to fix spending problems than revenue problems. And right now, athenahealth has plenty of revenue coming in the door. As health care reform starts to take hold, any doctors who are still avoiding moving their records on-line will have no choice but to join the electronic fray. That should help save money for doctors, patients and insurers. And it should make money for athenahealth.

As the actual impact of health care reform starts to take shape, investors will once again flock to potential beneficiaries of this far-reaching government initiative. And athenahealth is bound to come up on many investors’ wish lists. ATHN fell -8.7% Friday to $23.72 per share, not far from the 52-week low of $23.29 established on Tuesday.

Exide Technologies (Nasdaq: XIDE)

Investors are often advised to hold off chasing a hot stock for a few days, as traders will exit their positions, forcing the stock to give back some of those gains. Friday’s downdraft pushed shares of battery maker Exide Technologies -1.7% lower on the day, to $5.32 a share, and that may be the best you can hope for as an entry point.

The company’s stellar earnings report on Wednesday evening won’t be overlooked for long. In coming days analysts are likely to sharply boost their earnings forecasts, and shares trade for around five times the likely revised 2010 profit forecast. This is never going to be a high multiple stock, but even if it’s worth eight or nine times earnings, you’re still looking at a potential +50% gain.

David Sterman does not personally hold positions in any securities mentioned in this article.
StreetAuthority LLC does not hold positions in any securities mentioned in this article.