The headlines on most financial publications claim the United States and our current administration is lighting the fuse to a trade war.
The first shot across the bow came many years ago when China joined the World Trade Organization and its central and provincial governments began subsidizing manufacturing and production of goods in high volumes thus leaving manufacturing sectors in the west at a disadvantage.
President Donald Trump vowed to remember those who were forgotten in the last 10 years and to make changes in policy.
The stock market has been roaring upward since Trump became president by ushering a new era of tax reform and business friendly deregulations to get the industrial economy in the United States back on its feet. Corporations lauded the new tax rate they would enjoy as it would help their bottom line. They handed bonuses and raises to employees but also missed a very important mark. They should be investing to increase production and hire people in the US; instead of choosing to use most of the money for stock buy backs.
We are witnessing the current administration making whole on its promises as tariffs are being implemented in industries with dire need of a balancing act of fairness. Many steel and aluminum mills across the country are lighting up again and with that comes jobs and enthusiasm in states where a psychological depression due to an economic recession had many fall victims to the opioid epidemic which according to the Department of Health and Human Services has cost our economy over $504 billion. The administration’s policies will have a double impact: one on the economy and another on people’s quality of life.
Unfortunately, the stock market’s giants are taking the fall for the tariffs going into effect. After a meteoric stock rise in the last 9 years many companies may not be able to meet their lofty projections as many multinational companies will bear the brunt under the current circumstances, but it doesn’t mean we are entering a full-on bear market.
For that reason, I am searching for stocks that are not fully dependent on global trade and companies trading at reasonable multiples or somewhat undervalued like Legget & Platt (NYSE: LEG) an S&P 500 company trading at 20 times earnings only and about 30 percent of their business is exposed to trade. The company owns factories here in the US and overseas with most components manufactured staying in their respective countries.
Another company I believe is undervalued is Meritor (NYSE: MTOR) trading at five times earnings. The company makes vital parts for trucks around the world, and as global production continues to rise the company may get back to growth mode and trading at a higher multiple.
There are two speculative growth companies that I believe should be on your radar.
Live Ventures Inc. (NASDAQ:LIVE) is a company that has consistently grown its revenues and cashflow, and in my opinion is undervalued. The company was on the brink of delisting in 2011 when activist investor Jon Isaac shored up the balance sheet with an investment, became CEO and has since turned it around into a cashflow positive company by acquiring profitable companies that continue to grow year over year and it is currently trading at seven times earnings. The company’s growth strategy reminds me of Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK.A) under Buffet’s control in its very early days.
In the same middle market growth spectrum is Acme United Corp. (AMEX:ACU) the CEO Walter Johnsen continues to grow the company’s earnings year over year. The company trades at 15 times earnings and most of their revenue comes from sales of house hold names like Spill Magic, Wescott scissors, First Aid Only, and the acquisition of profitable brands.
Disclosure: Do not construe this article as investment advice. I may own, plan to own or may have owned the stocks mentioned in this article. Please do your own research before investing in stocks you may lose your entire investment. The companies mentioned may be or have been a corporate finance client or may become a client in the future.
Armando Soto is a sophisticated investor and corporate adviser. Currently he is a managing partner at Zelphinium, LLC a Corporate finance consultant for corporations, single family offices and institutional investors.
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