In honor of our nation’s 238th birthday, we have put together a big list of publicly traded companies whose names include the words “America” or “United States,” or any abbreviation or combination of the two.
Whimsical? A bit. Silly? Certainly not. Any arbitrary method of producing a decent-sized list of publicly traded companies is sure to highlight some quality stocks for further inspection.
We began with the components of the S&P 500(^GSPC), the S&P MidCap 400(MID.TO) and the S&P SmallCap 600(:SML), and added a list of U.S. energy stocks supplied by FactSet. We then pared the list to companies with any version of the nation’s name, with market values of at least $100 million.
That left us with 47 stocks. The 20 listed above had an average total return of 20% during the first half of the year, which was nearly triple the total return of the benchmark S&P 500 Index.
The financial sector is best represented on the list, with real estate investment trusts, big banks and insurance companies. There are also plenty of oil and gas stocks, and a few utilities.
What follows is a brief discussion for each of the 20 best “American” stock performers during the first half of 2014. You can click on each company’s name to see current stock quotes and lists of articles mentioning the company.U.S. Silica Holdings Inc. (SLCA) of Frederick, Md., was the top-performing “American” stock, with a total return of 63.5% through Monday’s close. The company provides silicate products for use in oil and gas production, and manufacturing. It has grown its annual sales per share for four straight years.
The stock rose 9% on April 29 after the company reported a 45% increase in sales of sand used in hydraulic fracturing. “We are currently sold out of all grades of frac sand and believe that industry demand growth will continue to outpace planned supply additions,” CEO Bryan Shinn said in the company’s earnings release.
U.S. Silica expects earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) for 2014 to increase to a range of $180 million to $200 million from $160.8 million in 2013.
The stock closed at $55.44 on Monday, and trades for 19.1 times the consensus 2015 earnings estimate of $2.91 a share, among analysts polled by FactSet, up from an estimated $1.97 this year.Skechers USA Inc. (SKX) of Manhattan Beach, Calif., ranks a distant second with a total return of 38%. The footwear maker reported a 21% increase in first-quarter sales to $546.5 million, as earnings more than quadrupled to $31 million, or 61 cents a share.
The stock closed at $45.70 Monday and trades for 17.3 times the consensus 2015 EPS estimate of $2.64. The 2014 EPS estimate is $2.16.
Shares of PharMerica Corp.(PMC) of Louisville, Ky., returned 33% to close at $28.59. The company provides generic drugs to hospitals and health-care facilities.
First-quarter revenue grew 3% to $452.2 million, and the gross profit margin slipped to 18% from 19% a year earlier. CEO Greg Weishar, in the earnings release May 1, reiterated the company’s plan to deploy operating cash flow “to enhance gross margins.”Reynolds American Inc. (RAI) of Winston-Salem, N.C., is the second-largest cigarette maker in the U.S., and its stock has returned 24% this year to $60.35, assuming dividends were reinvested. Tobacco stock are cash plays, and Reynolds American boasts a dividend yield of 4.44%.
First-quarter sales grew 2.8% to $1.94 billion, while rising costs for marketing its Vuse digital-vapor cigarettes lowered adjusted operating income (excluding litigation and other extraordinary expenses) by 1.4% to $555 million. The adjusted operating margin narrowed to 34.4% from 36.6%.
The good news included increased market share for all four of the company’s key brands, including Camel, Pall Mall, Grizzly and Natural American Spirit.American Electric Power Co. (AEP) of Columbus, Ohio, generates electricity and operates a regulated utility servicing 3.5 million customers in 11 states.
The stock returned 22% to $55.77, and has a dividend yield of 3.59%.
Please see 10 laggard stocks that could get a huge M&A premium for coverage of the remarkable runup of electric utility stocks this year.American Campus Communities Inc. (ACC) of Austin, Texas, is a real estate investment trust that mainly owns and manages student housing. The stock returned 21% to close at $38.24. The REIT pays a quarterly dividend of 38 cents for a yield of 3.97%.
Because of their focus on cash flow, equity REITs report funds from operations (FFO) in addition to GAAP earnings. Revenue for the first quarter rose 12% from a year earlier to $183.2 million, while FFO increased to $73.8 million, or 69 cents a share, from $68.5 million, or 64 cents.Plains All American Pipeline L.P. (PAA) of Houston operates crude oil, natural gas and refined product pipelines in the U.S. and Canada. The stock returned 19% to $60.05.
There are several energy limited partnerships listed here, and for convenience we’re referring to limited partnership units as “shares.” For more on the tax advantages and reporting requirements for LP investments, as well as the potential for high income, please see five dividend stocks with yields up to 10%.
Plains All American shares have a yield of 4.20%.American Water Works Co. (AWK) of Voorhees, N.J., provides water and wastewater services through a regulated segment that serves customers in 16 states, and through a market operations segment that builds and maintains facilities for the U.S. military, municipalities and corporate customers. The stock returned 19% to $49.45, and has a dividend yield of 2.51%.
First-quarter earnings were $68.1 million, or 38 cents a share, increasing from $57.6 million, or 32 cents, a year earlier. But if expenses from a chemical spill in West Virginia were excluded, net income would have been $71.7 million, or 40 cents.Murphy USA Inc. (MUSA) of El Dorado, Ark., is a refiner that also runs over 1,200 gas stations in the country. The company was spun off from Murphy Oil Corp.(MUR) last year.
Murphy USA’s stock returned 18% at $48.89.
The company reported a 4% year-over-year decline in first-quarter revenue to $4.16 billion, reflecting “a challenging wholesale environment.” But Murphy USA’s convenience stores showed much better results, as non-tobacco sales grew 5.3%, and the margin on these products increased by 10%.
Net income was $9.6 million, or 21 cents a share, down from $22 million, or 47 cents, a year earlier.American States Water Co. (AWR) of San Dimas, Calif., provides water and wastewater utility services in 10 California counties and has a smaller electricity utility business and a contract business that operates water systems at military installations. The stock returned 17% in the first half, closing at $33.23.
The company last month announced an increase in its quarterly dividend, and the shares now yield 2.56%.
First-quarter operating revenue was down 8% to $101.9 million, mainly because of a 32% drop in contracted services revenue, which had been expected as projects at two bases were completed. The company expects contract revenue to increase over the rest of the year. Net income was $11 million, or 28 cents a share, down from $13.5 million, or 35 cents, a year earlier.Cash America International Inc. (CSH) of Forth Worth, Texas, operates over 800 pawn shops in the nation, most of which offer consumer-lending services as well. The company has nearly 50 foreign locations.
The stock returned 16%, closing at $44.43 on Monday.
Cash America’s first-quarter earnings grew to $45.7 million, or $1.55 a share, from $43.9 million, or $1.40, a year earlier.U.S. Energy Corp. (USEG) of Riverton, Wyo., has various oil and gas production properties in the U.S. The stock returned 15% to $4.33.
First-quarter revenue totaled $8.3 million, up 5% from a year earlier, as oil and gas sales increased. Net income was $250,000, or a penny a share, improving from a net loss of $5.9 million, or 21 cents, a year earlier.Packaging Corp. of America (PKG) of Lake Forest, Ill., provides paper and corrugated packaging used in various industries. The company also sells newsprint to publishers. The stock returned 14% to $71.49, and has a dividend yield of 2.24%.
First-quarter net sales were up 90% to $1.43 billion, which included the acquisition of Boise Inc. Earnings came in at $90 million, or 92 cents a share, increasing from $62 million, or 64 cents, during the first quarter of 2013. A lawsuit settlement and integration costs lowered profits by $16 million.American Tower Corp. (AMT) of Boston is a real estate investment trust focusing on acquiring and leasing land used for wireless and broadcast operations. The stock returned 14% to $89.98, and has a dividend yield of 1.51%.
The REIT reported a 23% year-over-year increase in first-quarter revenue to $984.1 million, while adjusted funds from operations (FFO) were up 21% to $493.3 million.Alon USA Partners LP (ALDW) of Dallas is a subsidiary of Alon USA Energy Inc.(ALJ) that completed its initial public offering in November 2012. The main business of the partnership is to operate a crude oil refinery in Big Spring, Texas.
The shares returned 14% to close at $17.93. The partnership makes a variable quarterly distribution, so it can be volatile. Total distributions based on 2013 operations came to $2.37 a share.
Net income was $42.2 million, or 68 cents a share, compared with $93.5 million, or $1.50, a year earlier. The results show the vagaries of the market for refined fuel. The first-quarter operating margin was $14.77 per barrel, about half that of a year earlier.Aqua America Inc. (WTR) of Bryn Mawr, Pa., is the third water utility on this list, with operations in eight states.
The shares returned 12.5% to $26.22, and have a dividend yield of 2.32%.
The company reported a 2% increase in first-quarter operating revenue to $182.7 million amid “one of the toughest winters in decades.”
Net income was $42.9 million, or 24 cents a share, compared with $46.6 million, or 23 cents, a year earlier.Primerica Inc. (PRI) of Duluth, Ga., is a life-insurance company that distributes financial products in the U.S. and Canada. The stock returned 12% to $47.85. That followed a 45% return during 2013, which was a very strong recovery year for the life-insurance sector, as investors anticipated an eventual rise in interest rates.
First-quarter operating revenue rose 9% to $324 million, while net income increased to $45.1 million, or 81 cents a share, from $38.8 million, or 65 cents, a year earlier.Laboratory Corp. of America Holdings (LH) of Burlington, N.C. — better known as LabCorp — operates clinical laboratories and provides services at 1,700 patient centers worldwide. The stock returned 12% to $102.40.
LabCorp reported first-quarter earnings of $113.5 million, or $1.31 a share, down from $147.2 million, or $1.56, a year earlier, hurt by severe winter weather. Sales were down 1% to $1.431 billion.
Despite the difficult first quarter, LabCorp raised its guidance for 2014.American Assets Trust Inc. (AAT) of San Diego is a REIT that acquires and develops commercial and multifamily property mainly in California and Hawaii. The stock returned 11% to close at $34.55, and the dividend yield is 2.55%.
First-quarter funds from operations attributable to common stock totaled $22.9 million, or 39 cents a share, increasing from 21.4 million, or 37 cents, a year earlier.American Midstream Partners LP (AMID) of Denver operates natural gas pipelines and provides other transportation and storages services mainly on the Gulf Coast and in southeastern states. The stock returned 10% to close at $28.84 on Monday. Based on the most recent quarterly distribution, the shares have a dividend yield of 6.41%.
Please see the next page for the remaining 27 “American” stocks.
Here are the remaining 27 “American” or “U.S.” stocks, starting with the best performers for the first half of 2014 through Monday’s market close:USA Mobility Inc. (USMO) of Springfield, Va., wireless telecommunications, up 10% to $15.40. U.S. Bancorp (USB) of Minneapolis, the nation’s eighth-largest bank, up 8% to $43.32. American International Group Inc. (AIG) of New York, property and casualty insurance as well as life insurance, up 7% to $54.58. Whiting USA Trust II (WHZ) of Austin, Texas, oil and gas production, up 7% to $12.72. Comerica Inc. (CMA) of Dallas, regional bank, up 6% to $50.16. AmeriGas Partners LP (APU) of King of Prussia, Pa., propane distributor, up 6% to $45.39. Corrections Corp. of America (CXW) of Nashville, Tenn., REIT, up 6% to $32.85. Ameriprise Financial Inc. (AMP) of Minneapolis, asset management and brokerage, up 5% to $120. American Express Co. (AXP) of New York, credit cards and travel services, up 5% to $94.87. AmerisourceBergen Corp. (ABC) of Chesterbroook, Pa., pharmaceuticals, up 4% to $72.66. American Financial Group Inc. (AFG) of Cincinnati, property and casualty insurance, up 4% to $59.56. Reinsurance Group of America Inc. (RGA) of Chesterfield, Mo., life and health insurance, up 3% to $78.90. First American Financial Corp. (FAF) of Santa Ana, Calif., title insurance, down slightly to $27.79. USA Compression Partners LP (USAC) of Austin, Texas, oil-field services and equipment, down 1% to $25.68 Bank of America Corp. (BAC) of Charlotte, N.C., second-largest U.S. bank, down 1% to $15.37. American Science and Engineering Inc. (ASEI) of Billerica, Mass., security and defense, down 2% to $69.59. Amerisafe Inc. (AMSF) of DeRidder, La., workers compensation insurance, down 2% to $40.67. United Stationers Inc. (USTR) of Deerfield, Ill., business products, down 9% to $41.47. United States Steel Corp. (XNYS:X) of Pittsburgh, down 11% to $26.04. Comfort Systems USA Inc. (FIX) of Houston, heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems, down 18% to $15.80. American Woodmark Corp. (AMWD) of Winchester, Va., kitchen cabinets and vanities, down 19% to $31.87. American Eagle Outfitters Inc. (AEO) of Pittsburgh, retail, down 20% to $11.22. American Public Education Inc. (APEI) of Charles Town, W. Va., post-secondary education, down 21% to $34.88. Alon USA Energy Inc. (ALJ) of Dallas, refining, down 24% to $12.44. American Eagle Energy Corp. (AMZG) of Littleton, Colo., oil and gas production, down 27% to $5.99. Ameresco Inc. (AMRC) of Framingham, Mass., engineering and construction, down 27% to $7.03. American Vanguard Corp. (AVD) of Newport Beach, Calif., specialty chemicals, down 45% to $13.22.
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Philip van Doorn covers various investment and industry topics. He has previously worked as a senior analyst at TheStreet.com. He also has experience in community banking and as a credit analyst at the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York.
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