Should I Install a Low-Flow Showerhead to Save Water?

From your cable and Internet bill to utilities like heat and electricity, there are a lot of costs that must be added into your monthly budget (as I discovered upon moving into my first apartment). There are always ways, however, of cutting back on those expenses. You can save water and lower your water heating costs by installing a low-flow showerhead.

What is a Low-Flow Showerhead?

In short, a low-flow showerhead is one that comes with a flow rate of 2.5 gallons per minute or less. While this still seems like quite a bit of water, these showerheads can actually decrease your shower water usage by about half.

A regular showerhead has a water flow of about 3.8 gallons per minute, so if you took an eight minute shower, you would be using approximately 30 gallons of water. But with a low-flow showerhead, you would only use about 20 gallons.

With this fixture, you’ll also need less energy to heat your shower, reducing your power bills.

How do Low-Flow Showerheads Work?

With a low-flow showerhead, it may not feel like you’re using less water, but you are. The showerhead restricts water flow while still maintaining a strong pressure, giving you the experience of a normal shower.

Aerating showerheads mix air in with the water stream. This maintains strong water pressure while still using less water than a traditional showerhead. However, because there is air combined with the water, the temperature may not stay as hot for as long as traditional showerheads.

A non-aerating showerhead doesn’t use air; instead, it pulses to keep the pressure strong. The water with a non-aerating showerhead tends to be hotter because there is no introduction of air.

How to Measure Your Current Flow Rate

In order to discover whether you would benefit from a low-flow showerhead, it’s important to figure out the flow rate of your current fixture. Turn on your shower and let the water run into a bucket for 10 seconds, then turn it off.
Measure the amount of water that’s in your bucket, then multiply that figure by six. The number you end up with will be your water flow per minute, or gallons per minute. If your shower is releasing about 3.8 gallons or more per minute, think about replacing your current showerhead with a low-flow fixture.

Here’s another helpful rule of thumb: If it takes fewer than 20 seconds for your showerhead to fill up a 1-gallon bucket, you could benefit from installing a more environmentally friendly fixture.

Which Low-Flow Showerhead is Best for Your Bathroom?

If you’ve chosen to get a low-flow showerhead for your bathroom, then you must decide which type you would like. You could opt for the traditional stationary model or a handheld showerhead that’s attached to a flexible hose.

While handheld models may offer convenience, they’re typically a bit more expensive than the stationary fixtures. However, a handheld showerhead may be slightly more environmentally friendly than the traditional model because there is less distance between the showerhead and your body.

Other Green Bathroom Ideas

Installing a low-flow showerhead isn’t the only way you can go green. Here are a few other bathroom ideas that may lower your overall energy costs:

Use Green Cleaning Products: Some bathroom cleaners contain harsh chemicals, which is why it’s more environmentally friendly (and often cheaper) to just make your own.

For instance, a tub cleaner can be made using 2/3 cup baking soda, 1/2 cup vegetable oil-based liquid soap, 1/2 cup water and 2 tablespoons vinegar. Mildew can be removed by mixing 1/2 cup vinegar with 1/2 cup borax.

Rethink Your Towels: Think about swapping your current regular cotton towels for towels made from organic cotton. This material requires the use of fewer pesticides, natural dyes and softeners, making it better for your skin and for the environment.

Bamboo towels are another eco-friendly choice, as bamboo is a fast-growing sustainable alternative to cotton, not to mention it has antibacterial properties.

Fix Leaks: A simple leak in your tub or sink might not seem like a big deal, but you may actually be losing a lot of water. Talk to your landlord about the problem and get it fixed as soon as possible. In the meantime, you can put a bucket under the leak and use the collected water to hydrate your houseplants.

Replace Your Shower Curtain: Many shower curtains are made of polyvinyl chloride, otherwise known as PVC plastic. The material actually releases chemical gases, and it can’t be recycled. Instead, opt for a PVC-free shower curtain. Hemp shower curtains, for instance, are resistant to mold and mildew.

Take Shorter Showers: A low-flow showerhead can only do so much to save water when you’re taking extremely long showers. Do your best to cut back on your bathing time by creating a five-minute playlist of a song or two. This way, you’ll know exactly how long you have before you should turn off the water.

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Source: apartmentguide.com

Top 5 DIY Home Skills You Should Know

One of the best parts about living in an apartment is that when something goes wrong (like the heat isn’t working or the toilet won’t stop running), you don’t really have to take care of it yourself — maintenance can help!

But there are some DIY basics you should know how to do yourself. Sometimes maintenance may not be as quick as you’d like, or it may just be something you’d rather handle on your own. From fixes to decor, here are five easy DIY projects you should know how to do:

How to unclog a drain

Small plumbing inconveniences like a clogged drain or toilet can be frustrating, but the great news is they’re pretty easy to take care of on your own. Unclogging a sink requires just the tiniest bit of plumbing know-how, but it’s relatively simple.

Top 5 DIY Skills You Should Know - How to Unclog a DrainTop 5 DIY Skills You Should Know - How to Unclog a Drain

First, remove the drain stopper by locating the pivot rod that’s holding it in place under your sink. The pivot rod should be stuck through the pipe and secured with a nut on the pipe near the bottom of the sink. Remove the nut and the rod, and the drain stopper should be easy to pull up and out.

Then, use a snake to clear the drain (you can buy these at any hardware store). Thread the snake as far as it will go into the drain– you want it to reach as deep into the P trap as it can go (that pipe that’s shaped like a U). Pull it out slowly, and repeat until you hook whatever’s clogging the pipes. Then, replace the drain stopper and pivot rod, and you’re finished!

Keep in mind that most landlords prohibit tenants from using products like Drano to clear clogs because they can damage pipes.

How to change a showerhead

​There’s nothing worse than a showerhead that makes taking a shower feel like you’re standing underneath a leaky faucet. But while showerheads can’t dictate water pressure, many can adjust the spray into something a little more bearable– and low-flow versions are better for the environment, too.

Top 5 DIY Skills You Should Know - How to Change a ShowerheadTop 5 DIY Skills You Should Know - How to Change a Showerhead

As far as easy DIY projects go, changing a showerhead is one of the simplest– just buy a new one and some Teflon tape (aka plumber’s tape).

Unscrew the old showerhead from its arm using an adjustable wrench or some pliers. You may have a fight on your hands if it’s old, but be careful not to apply too much pressure or squeeze too hard.

Once the old head is removed, clean the end of the pipe and wrap it in a new layer of Teflon tape to prevent leaks. Then, screw your new showerhead on over the tape, and voila! Good as new.

How to hang something heavy

You should know one DIY skill in particular to hang something heavy: how to find a stud. Studs are strong enough to withstand heavy items like floating shelves or mirrors, many of which could damage drywall. One easy way to find a stud is to use an electronic stud finder– just pick one up at the hardware store.

Top 5 DIY Skills You Should Know - How to Hang Something HeavyTop 5 DIY Skills You Should Know - How to Hang Something Heavy

You can also do it the old-fashioned way and simply knock on your walls– a hollow-sounding knock means no stud, while a solid-sounding knock means you’ve hit gold, so to speak. Remember that studs can always be found around windows, doors and in corners, and they’re located every 1.5 to 2 feet.

How to patch a hole in the wall

If you hang a bunch of stuff in your apartment, patching the holes in your walls may be necessary when you move out to ensure you get your security deposit back. All you need to patch holes is some lightweight spackle, a putty knife and some sandpaper.

Top 5 DIY Skills You Should Know - How to Patch a Hole in the WallTop 5 DIY Skills You Should Know - How to Patch a Hole in the Wall

Simply use one corner of the putty knife to scoop out a small amount of spackle, and use it to fill the hole. Then use the straight edge of the putty knife to smooth and even out the spackle. Let it dry for a few hours (or overnight), then sand the area lightly with your sandpaper, blending the spackle into the surrounding drywall.

How to fix your toilet

There are any number of toilet issues renters may want to learn how to fix themselves, but if there’s one you should know it’s how to fix a clog. If your toilet is clogged, it’s time to break out the plunger.

Top 5 DIY Skills You Should Know - How to Fix Your ToiletTop 5 DIY Skills You Should Know - How to Fix Your Toilet

First, place the plunger over the hole at the bottom of your toilet, making sure the rubber head is completely covered by water. If there isn’t enough water in the bowl, simply use a pitcher to add some more. Then, pump the handle into the head a few times and pull the plunger up sharply, breaking the seal. The power of suction should do the trick.

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Source: apartmentguide.com

How to Remove Dark Stains from Your Whites

We’ve all been there. You’re on a date, wearing fresh white clothes, and suddenly a meatball rolls off your fork and onto your shirt. Or, you’re rushing out of the coffee shop on the way to work and someone accidentally bumps into you– as a result, the hot coffee spills down the front of your classic white button-down shirt.

Sometimes it seems like stains seek out clothes made of white material. You never have an accident when you’re wearing a dark shirt! Luckily, there are ways to remove stains from whites before they start to set in– and the best stain remover may be sitting in your pantry. Here’s a basic guide to get those pesky stains out.

Step 1: Keeping the stain from setting

The most important step, and this applies to any stains on any materials, is to keep them from setting. If it’s given time to set, it’s basically impossible to get the stain out later, so you need to start acting now.

The first thing is to remove any excess gunk. Liquids probably won’t have this, but anything thick enough to scrape (tomato sauce, mud, the like) needs to be removed immediately.

Next comes pre-treating, which depends on where you are at the time. If you’re out somewhere this is where it’s helpful to carry a stain pen with you – something like a Tide pen – to start treating the stain right away. If you’re at home, you can soak it in the sink, using the right combination of water and the right cleaner. There are different types of stains and materials to take into consideration, leading us to:

Step 2: Understanding different materials

Different fabrics react differently to stain removers, so it’s important to know what you’re working with before you get started. Always check your tags for care instructions before applying harsh bleaches or other solvents.

Here are a few common materials and the best stain remover method for each:

Cotton : Cotton is a very durable fabric, but try to avoid using bleach, even if it’s diluted. First try using a detergent or an acid, such as white vinegar or lemon juice in warm water.

Polyester: For polyester, it’s best not to use bleach at all. Use dish soap or laundry detergent.

Linen: Linen is generally sturdy but becomes weaker when it’s wet. Don’t use undiluted bleach on linens– either dilute it or use a more gentle, natural detergent.

Wool: Look for detergents that are specifically marked as safe for wool, mixed with lukewarm water.

Silk : The best stain remover for silk is glycerin, avoiding bleach altogether. You’ll want to rinse the entire garment, not just the stained area.

Step 3: Choosing the best stain remover for the job

Different stains, along with each separate type of light material, call for different methods of removal. You may even need to treat some stains a couple of different ways to remove both oil or grease and color. Here are some common stain removal methods and what stains they’re best used for:

Absorbents : Absorbents, including salt, corn starch, and talcum powder, are effective for leeching oil or grease out of fabric. After prepping the fabric with water or club soda, sprinkle an absorbent over the stain and let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes, then scrape it off.

Mild Acids : Vinegar and lemon juice are effective on liquid stains, like coffee or tea. These acids won’t damage fabrics, so it’s a good idea to try them with any stain before moving onto harsher methods.

Detergents : Dish detergents are particularly adept at removing oil and grease stains.

Bleach : There are two types of bleach: oxidized and chlorine. Chlorine is very harsh and should be avoided as much as possible for most fabrics. Oxidized bleach, like hydrogen peroxide, is good for treating greaseless color stains– say, from sweat, makeup, or wine.

Glycerin : Glycerin can be bought at any grocery or drug store, and is also effective at removing colors. Use glycerin for treating ink or dye stains. 

Read more: Stay Safe When Cleaning

Take it to a professional

After you apply whatever you decide is the best stain remover for your particular mishap, wash the garment like you normally would. Before it goes in the dryer, check to see if the wash cycle cleared up the last of the stain, or if there’s any remaining. If the stain is still prominent, take it to a dry cleaner and let them have a go at it.

The donts of removing stains from whites

Never apply pressure when you’re trying to remove a dark stain from a white material. The pressure can force the stain further into the fabric, making it more likely to bond and set. Soak the fabric in a stain remover of your choice or lightly dab the stained area with a cotton ball or damp rag. Don’t use hot water, and no drying or ironing the fabric until the stain is completely gone.

Read more: Tips to Maximize Your Laundry Trips and How to Keep You Apartment Cleaning Earth-Friendly

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

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Source: apartmentguide.com

In the Market? Here’s What You Should Know About Contingencies

Home contingencies are aspects of home purchase contracts that protect buyers or sellers by establishing conditions that must be met before the purchase can be completed. There are a variety of contingencies that can be included in a contract; some required by third parties, and others potentially created by the buyer. While sellers in the current market prefer to have little to no contingencies, the vast majority of purchase contracts do include them, so here’s a primer to help you navigate any that come your way!

Financing Contingency

The most common type of contingency in a real estate contract is the financing contingency. While the number of homes that sold for cash more than doubled over the last 10 years, the majority of home purchases — 87% of them, in fact— are still financed through mortgage loans.

Why is this important? Because most real estate contracts provide a contingency clause that states the contract is binding only if the buyer is approved for the loan. If a contract is written as cash, in most cases, the financing contingency is removed.

contingenciescontingencies

Why Does The Financing Contingency Exist?

This contingency exists to protect the buyer. If a buyer submits a winning offer, but can’t get approved for a loan to follow through with the purchase, this clause can protect the buyer from potential legal or financial ramifications.

Tip: Homeowners can, and should, request to see a buyer’s prequalification letter before accepting their offer.

Home Sale Contingency

For many repeat homebuyers, they must sell a property in order to afford a new home. Whether they’re relocating for work, moving to a larger home, or moving to a more rural area, 38% of home buyers in a recent survey reported using funds from a previous home to purchase a new one. This is where a home sale contingency comes into play; this clause states that the buyer must first sell their current home before they can proceed with purchasing a new one.

Why Does This Contingency Exist?

This is another contingency that exists to protect the buyer. If their current home sale doesn’t close, this clause can protect the buyer from being forced to purchase the new home. In other words, they can back out of the new home contract without consequence. Keep in mind that in a seller’s market, this type of contingency offer is less desirable to sellers; in fact,  they may rule out your offer completely if this is included.

TIP: In many situations, homeowners can negotiate escape clauses for the home sale which would allow them to solicit other offers and potentially bump the current buyer out of the picture.

Home Inspection Contingency

Not only is it common, it’s also wise to include a home inspection contingency in any offer. Whether it’s a new home or an existing home, there is no such thing as a flawless house. Home inspections can uncover hidden problems, detect deferred maintenance issues that may be costly down the road, or make the home less desirable to purchase completely. A home inspection contingency essentially states that the purchase of a home is dependent on the results from the home inspection.

contingenciescontingencies

Why Does This Contingency Exist?

Whether it’s a roof in need of replacement or an unsafe fireplace, homebuyers need to know the maintenance and safety issues of the properties they’re interested in purchasing. If a home inspection report reveals significant (or scary!) findings, this protects the buyer from the financial burden that repairs would require. This is why agents will tell you it’s never a good idea for a home to be purchased without a home inspection contingency.

TIP: The findings from the report can usually be used to negotiate repairs or financial concessions from the seller.

Sight-Unseen Contingency

Especially during sellers markets, it’s not uncommon for a home to have dozens of showings within the first couple of days of listing. This breakneck pace can create a scenario in which homebuyers may not be able to coordinate their schedules to get a timely showing appointment. To help prevent missing out on the chance to buy a home, buyers in this situation will sometimes make offers on the home, sight unseen.

contingenciescontingencies

There’s no sugarcoating it…this is a high-risk strategy with ample opportunity for negative consequences. However, if this strategy is used, many real estate agents will add a sight- unseen contingency to their offer. This contingency states that the offer for purchase is dependent on the buyer’s viewing of, and satisfaction with, the property.

Why Does This Contingency Exist?

In a market with shrinking inventory, desperate buyers want a fighting chance at a hot property; in some cases, that can only exist by submitting an offer before they can see it in person.

TIP: Sight unseen offers are also high risk to the seller. If you include this contingency in your offer, try to keep other seller requests to a minimum. 

Why Contingencies Can Be Positive

In a seller’s market, buyers may feel the pressure to remove as many contingencies as possible in order to compete. But, it’s important to remember that contingencies are actually safeguards in place to prevent buyer remorse, expensive future repairs, or financial calamity. It’s always crucial for buyers to hire a seasoned real estate agent who can advocate for their best interests, negotiate and strategize in safe and competitive ways, and advises them of the risks of each decision.

Looking to Buy? Don’t Go it Alone!

The homebuying process is a complex one, but that doesn’t mean you’re left with all the heavy lifting. Find your dream home and a local agent on Homes.com, then visit our “How to Buy” section for all the step-by-step insights for a smooth process.


Jennifer is an accidental house flipper turned Realtor and real estate investor. She is the voice behind the blog, Bachelorette Pad Flip. Over five years, Jennifer paid off $70,000 in student loan debt through real estate investing. She’s passionate about the power of real estate. She’s also passionate about southern cooking, good architecture, and thrift store treasure hunting. She calls Northwest Arkansas home with her cat Smokey, but she has a deep love affair with South Florida.

Source: homes.com

7 Super Small-Cap Growth Stocks to Buy

Stocks with smaller market values are outperforming by a wide margin so far this year, and strategists and analysts alike say small caps should continue to lead the way as the economic recovery gains steam.

“The U.S. economy is currently trending toward high-single digit GDP growth in 2021 as COVID-19 vaccine distribution expands and we gradually emerge from the pandemic,” says Lule Demmissie, president of Ally Invest. “That environment favors small-cap names, which tend to have a more domestic focus than larger multinational firms.”

Small caps tend to outperform in the early parts of the economic cycle, so it should come as no surprise that they are clobbering stocks with larger market values these days.

Indeed, the small-cap benchmark Russell 2000 index is up 13.6% for the year-to-date through April 8, while the blue chip Dow Jones Industrial Average added just 9.5% over the same span.

Keep in mind that small-cap stocks come with heightened volatility and risk. It’s also important to note that it can be dangerous to chase performance. But small-cap growth stocks – particularly in this environment – can offer potentially much greater rewards. 

Given the increased interest in these securities, we decided to find some of analysts’ favorite small caps to buy. To do so, we screened the Russell 2000 for small caps with outsized growth prospects and analysts’ highest consensus recommendations, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence.

Here’s how the recommendation system works: S&P Global Market Intelligence surveys analysts’ stock recommendations and scores them on a five-point scale, where 1.0 equals a Strong Buy and 5.0 is a Strong Sell. Any score below 2.5 means that analysts, on average, rate the stock as being Buy-worthy. The closer a score gets to 1.0, the stronger the Buy recommendation.

We also limited ourselves to names with projected long-term growth (LTG) rates of at least 20%. That means analysts, on average, expect these companies to generate compound annual earnings per share (EPS) growth of 20% or more for the next three to five years. 

And lastly, we dug into research, fundamental factors and analysts’ estimates on the most promising small caps. 

That led us to this list of the 7 best small-cap growth stocks to buy now, by virtue of their high analyst ratings and bullish outlooks. Read on as we analyze what makes each one stand out.

Share prices are as of April 8. Companies are listed by strength of analysts’ consensus recommendation, from lowest to highest. Data courtesy of S&P Global Market Intelligence, unless otherwise noted.

1 of 7

Q2 Holdings

Digital banking technologyDigital banking technology
  • Market value: $5.7 billion
  • Long-term growth rate: 150.0%
  • Analysts’ consensus recommendation: 1.68 (Buy)

Q2 Holdings (QTWO, $103.06) provides cloud-based virtual banking services to regional and community financial institutions. The idea is to make it so that smaller firms – which are sometimes small caps themselves – can give account holders the same kind of top-flight online tools, services and experiences as the industry’s big boys.

To that end, Q2 recently announced the acquisition of ClickSWITCH, which focuses on customer acquisition and retention by making the process of switching digital accounts easier. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. 

Q2’s business model and execution has Wall Street drooling over the small cap’s growth prospects. Indeed, analysts expect the software company to generate compound annual earnings per share growth of 150% over the next three to five years, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence. 

“In the last year, the pandemic has accelerated the digital transformation efforts and investments of the financial services industry, and we believe Q2 Holdings is well positioned to support and grow its customer base,” writes Stifel equity research analyst Tom Roderick, who rates the stock at Buy. 

Of the 19 analysts covering Q2 tracked by S&P Global Market Intelligence, 10 call it a Strong Buy, five say Buy and four rate it at Hold. Their average target price of $152.25 gives QTWO implied upside of almost 50% over the next 12 months or so. Such high expected returns make it easy to understand why the Street sees QTWO as one of the best small-cap growth stocks.

2 of 7

BellRing Brands

A man drinking a protein shakeA man drinking a protein shake
  • Market value: $962.8 million
  • Long-term growth rate: 21.6%
  • Analysts’ consensus recommendation: 1.60 (Buy)

BellRing Brands (BRBR, $24.37), which sells protein shakes and other nutritional beverages, powders and supplements, is forecast to generate unusually healthy EPS growth over the next few years. 

Stifel equity research, which specializes in small caps, says BellRing offers a “compelling growth opportunity” thanks to its positioning in the large and fast-growing category known as “convenient nutrition.”

U.S. consumers are increasingly turning toward high-protein, low-carbohydrate foods and beverages for snacks and meal replacement, Stifel notes, and BellRing Brands, spun off from Post Holdings (POST) in late 2019, is in prime position to thrive from those changing consumer tastes. 

After all, the company’s portfolio includes such well-known brands as Premier Protein shakes and PowerBar nutrition bars. 

In another point favoring the bulls, BellRing’s “asset-light business model requires limited capital expenditures and generates very strong free cash flow,” notes Stifel analyst Christopher Growe, who rates the stock at Buy.

Most of the Street also puts BRBR in the small-caps-to-buy camp. Of the 15 analysts covering BRBR, eight call it a Strong Buy, five say Buy and two have it at Hold. Their average price target of $28.33 gives the stock implied upside of about 16% over the next year or so. 

With shares trading at just a bit more than 25 times estimated earnings for 2022, BRBR appears to offer a compelling valuation.

3 of 7

Rackspace Technology

Cloud technologyCloud technology
  • Market value: $5.3 billion
  • Long-term growth rate: 21.8%
  • Analysts’ consensus recommendation: 1.50 (Strong Buy)

Rackspace Technology (RXT, $25.61) partners with cloud services providers such as Google parent Alphabet (GOOGL), Amazon.com (AMZN) and Microsoft (MSFT) to manage its enterprise customers’ cloud-based services. 

And make no mistake, this sort of expertise is much in demand.

The pandemic accelerated many industries’ migration to cloud technology. As such, plenty of firms have discovered they need all the help they can get when it comes to transitioning and managing their operations – often with more than one cloud service provider.

“The prevalence of a multicloud approach has created integration and operational complexity that require expertise and resources most companies lack,”  writes William Blair analyst Jim Breen, who rates RXT at Outperform (the equivalent of Buy). “This creates an opportunity for a multicloud services partner to enable businesses to fully realize the benefits of cloud transformation.”

Breen adds that research firm IDC forecasts the managed cloud services market to grow 15% a year to more than $100 billion by 2024.

As the leading company in the field of multicloud services, bulls argue that Rackspace stands to benefit disproportionately from all this burgeoning demand. 

Speaking of bulls, of the 10 analysts covering the stock tracked by S&P Global Market Intelligence, five rate RXT at Strong Buy and five call it a Buy. The bottom line is that Rackspace easily makes the Street’s list of small-cap growth stocks to buy.

4 of 7

Chart Industries

Cryogenic technologyCryogenic technology
  • Market value: $5.3 billion
  • Long-term growth rate: 34.2%
  • Analysts’ consensus recommendation: 1.50 (Strong Buy)

Shares in Chart Industries (GTLS, $146.76), which manufactures cryogenic equipment for industrial gasses such as liquefied natural gas (LNG), are riding the global secular trend toward sustainable energy.

The market certainly likes GTLS’ commitment to greener energy. The small-cap stock is up more than 410% over the past 52 weeks – analysts expect a torrid pace of profit growth over the next few years to keep the gains coming. Indeed, the Street forecasts compound annual EPS growth of more than 34% over the next three to five years.

Analysts say the company’s unique portfolio of technologies gives it an edge in a growing industry. To that end, they applauded its $20 million acquisition of Sustainable Energy Solutions in December because it bolsters the company’s carbon capture capabilities.

“In the context of the decarbonization megatrend, Chart is a one-of-a-kind play on the global shift to more gas-centric economies,” writes Raymond James analyst Pavel Molchanov in a note to clients. “There is upside potential from large liquefied natural gas projects. Notwithstanding the lingering headwinds from the North American energy sector, we reiterate our Outperform [Buy] rating.”

Stifel, which chimes in with a Buy rating, says GTLS deserves a premium valuation given its outsized growth prospects. 

“With potentially a decade or more of high single-digit to low double-digit revenue growth, more recurring revenue, accelerating hydrogen opportunities, and the potential big LNG surprise bounces, we expect shares could trade north of 30 times normalized earnings,” writes analyst Benjamin Nolan.

The stock currently trades at nearly 30 times estimated earnings for 2022, per S&P Global Market Intelligence. Small caps to buy often sport lofty valuations, but with a projected long-term growth rate of more than 34%, one could argue GTLS is actually a bargain.

Raymond James and Stifel are very much in the majority on the Street, where 12 analysts rate GTLS at Strong Buy, four say Buy, one has it at Hold and one says Sell.

5 of 7

NeoGenomics

Lab equipmentLab equipment
  • Market value: $5.5 billion
  • Long-term growth rate: 43.0%
  • Analysts’ consensus recommendation: 1.33 (Strong Buy)

NeoGenomics (NEO, $47.87), an oncology testing and research laboratory, is still coming out from under the pressure of the pandemic, which led to the cancellation of legions of procedures.

But there’s been quite a lot of activity at the company, nevertheless, and analysts still see it as one of the better small-cap growth stocks to buy.

In February, the company said longtime Chairman and CEO Doug VanOort would step aside to become executive chairman in April. He was succeeded by Mark Mallon, former CEO of Ironwood Pharmaceuticals (IRWD). The following month, NeoGenomics announced a $65 million cash-and-stock deal for Trapelo Health, an IT firm focused on precision oncology. 

All the while, shares have been lagging in 2021, falling more than 11% for the year-to-date vs. a gain of 13.5% for the small-cap benchmark Russell 2000.

Although COVID-19 has been squeezing clinical volumes – and bad winter weather is always a concern – analysts by and large remain fans of this small cap’s industry position. 

“We continue to find the company’s leading market share in clinical oncology testing and expanding presence in pharma services for oncology-based clients to be a very attractive combination,” writes William Blair equity analyst Brian Weinstein, who rates NEO at Outperform. 

Of the 12 analysts covering NEO tracked by S&P Global Market Intelligence, nine call it a Strong Buy, two say Buy and one says Hold. With an average target price of $63.20, analysts give NEO implied upside of about 32% in the next year or so. That’s good enough to make almost any list of small caps to buy.

6 of 7

Lovesac

A Lovesac storeA Lovesac store
  • Market value: $917.3 million
  • Long-term growth rate: 32.5%
  • Analysts’ consensus recommendation: 1.14 (Strong Buy)

The Lovesac Co. (LOVE, $62.47) is a niche consumer discretionary company that designs “foam-filled furniture,” which mostly includes bean bag chairs. 

Although it operates about 90 showrooms at malls around the country, revenue – thankfully – is largely driven by online sales. That’s led to a boom in business as folks, stuck at home, shop online for ways to spruce up their living spaces.

Shares have followed, rising about 45% for the year-to-date and more than 1,000% over the past 52 weeks. And analysts expect even more upside ahead, driven by a long-term growth rate forecast of 32.5% for the next three to five years, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence. 

Stifel, which says LOVE is among its small caps to Buy, expects the consumer shift to buying furnishing online to persist, and even accelerate, once the pandemic subsides.

“Lovesac is well positioned for continued share gains in the furniture category with its strong product, omni-channel capabilities and enhancements to the platform, many of which were initiated during the pandemic,” writes Stifel’s Lamont Williams in a note to clients.

The analyst adds that LOVE has a long ramp-up opportunity thanks to a new generation of home buyers.

“As the housing market remains healthy there is the opportunity to capture new buyers as more middle- to upper-income millennials become homeowners and increase spending on [the company’s] category,” Williams writes. 

Of the seven analysts covering the stock tracked by S&P Global Market Intelligence, six rate it at Strong Buy and one says Buy. That’s a small sample size, but the bull case for LOVE as one of the better small-cap growth stocks to buy still stands.

7 of 7

AdaptHealth

An elderly person using a walker during home rehabAn elderly person using a walker during home rehab
  • Market value: $4.3 billion
  • Long-term growth rate: 43.0%
  • Analysts’ consensus recommendation: 1.11 (Strong Buy)

AdaptHealth (AHCO, $37.61) comes in at No. 1 on our list of small caps to buy thanks to their outsized growth prospects. The bull case rests partly on demographics and the aging of baby boomers. 

AdaptHealth provides home healthcare equipment and medical supplies. Most notably, it provides sleep therapy equipment such as CPAP machines for sleep apnea – a condition that tends to increase with age and weight.

With the majority of the boomer cohort of roughly 70 million Americans hitting their 60s and 70s, home medical equipment for sleep apnea and other conditions is increasingly in demand.

Mergers and acquisitions are also a part of the company’s growth story, notes UBS Global Research, which rates AHCO at Buy. Most recently, in February, the company closed a $2 billion cash-and-stock deal for AeroCare, a respiratory and home medical equipment distributor. 

“AdaptHealth exits 2020 with material themes of accelerating growth,” writes UBS analyst Whit Mayo. “In each quarter of 2022, we assume that AHCO acquires $35 million in annual revenues, closing these deals at the middle of the quarter. This drives estimated acquired revs from yet to be announced deals of $70 million.”

Small caps have been rallying in 2021, but not AHCO, which is essentially flat for the year-to-date. Happily, the Street expects that to change sooner rather than later. With an average target price of $47.22, analysts give the stock implied upside of about 25% over the next 12 months or so.

Of the nine analysts covering AHCO tracked by S&P Global Market Intelligence, eight rate it at Strong Buy and one says Buy. As noted above, they expect the company to generate compound annual EPS growth of 43% over the next three to five years.

Source: kiplinger.com

Dear Penny: I’ll Never Marry My Boyfriend, So Can I Hide My Debt?

Dear Penny,

My boyfriend and I are 71 and 72. He’s been divorced three times, and I’ve been widowed twice. We both have our own homes and good incomes. 

The problem is, I’m in debt due to my last husband. My boyfriend always talks about how he is debt-free except for his mortgage. We are in love and committed to each other. 

Do I have to tell him about my debt when we have said we don’t want to remarry? I am embarrassed about the debt.

-L.

Dear L.,

You aren’t obligated to disclose every single aspect of your life and finances to your boyfriend. Of course you’d need to tell him you have debt if you were talking about marrying or moving in together. That’s not the case here.

As long as your debt isn’t impacting him, you shouldn’t feel guilty for not telling him. But I wonder if you’d feel better if you told him.

I’m going to paraphrase Dan Savage, the legendary love and sex advice columnist, and give you the advice he often repeats when someone is scared to reveal something about themselves to a partner: If you tell your boyfriend about your debt, you’ll be revealing one thing about yourself. His reaction will reveal everything about him.

What I’m hoping is that you’re underestimating your boyfriend. You say he “always” talks about being debt-free aside from his mortgage. It may be that he’s simply more open to discussing money than you, so it feels like he’s constantly talking about his lack of debt.

Context matters a lot here, too. Is he bringing it up because he’s proud of the accomplishment? Or because he’s excited about all the things he can do because his expenses are low? That’s a lot different than if he’s the type of person who thinks that just because he’s debt-free, anyone else who has debt is irresponsible.

Your boyfriend’s reaction isn’t the only thing to consider when you make this decision. Be honest with yourself: By keeping this secret, are you spending more money because you’re trying to pretend like you don’t have any obligations? When you’re not upfront about your financial situation, you often wind up with a lifestyle you can’t afford. You say yes to the vacations and restaurants that are out of your budget because you don’t want anyone to suspect that you’re struggling.

I have no idea if this is happening here. You don’t say how much debt you have or whether it’s manageable. But if this debt eats up a significant part of your income and you’re a couple who tends to split things relatively equally when you go out on dates or travel together, it’s something you need to seriously consider.

One benefit of telling your boyfriend is that opening up can be a relief. Keeping a bad situation secret only compounds the stress. When you look at something through the lens of shame, it often becomes so much worse than it actually is in your mind.

If you haven’t told anyone about this lingering debt, consider telling a trusted friend or family member first. Doing so could help you gauge your boyfriend’s reaction. You may also discover that talking about this isn’t as scary as you’ve imagined.

Regardless of how you proceed with your boyfriend, I hope you recognize that not talking about this debt isn’t going to make it disappear. You need a plan for how to conquer this debt, whether that involves paying it off as quickly as possible or keeping the monthly payments as manageable as possible. If you haven’t done so, consider making an appointment with a financial planner or counselor to make sure your plan is solid. You may feel better about telling your boyfriend you have debt if you can also talk with confidence about how you’re handling it.

Not to add to your pressure, but the longer you keep this a secret, the harder it will be should you eventually open up. Even the most sympathetic partner may be hurt to learn that you’ve been keeping debt a secret for years because you were afraid of their reaction. Conversely if he doesn’t react well, your pain will be exacerbated after investing many years together.

I won’t try to pretend that learning your debt is a deal-breaker for him wouldn’t be incredibly painful. I certainly understand why the easiest thing to do is not to talk about this when you’re happy and in love. Still, I think it’s important to know whether he cares more about you or your net worth.

Whatever you choose, I hope you can stop feeling embarrassed about your debt. It’s not a character flaw. Life can throw a lot of unexpected hurdles at you. Sometimes your battle wounds come in the form of debt. Hopefully after seven decades in the world, your boyfriend is wise enough to recognize that.

Robin Hartill is a certified financial planner and a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. Send your tricky money questions to [email protected].

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Source: thepennyhoarder.com

Renters Beware: These Hidden Costs May Be in Your Lease

Utilities, pets, parking, amenities — there may be more to your rent payment than you thought.

By Leigh Raper

The rental market is extremely competitive in many urban markets right now. According to the Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report 2017, renters account for 37 percent of all households in America — or just over 43.7 million homes, up more than 6.9 million since 2005.

This jump in the number of renters has put pressure on both tenants and landlords. Tenants are scrambling to find the right place, while landlords are trying to find the right price. And both parties are getting creative about how and when to spend their money.

Renters sometimes forget their landlord is running a business too — until they sign a new or renewed lease, that is. Renters may discover that while the rent seems reasonable, the landlord has included itemized charges for utilities or other amenities that add up to a sizable bottom-line difference.

Power play

Utilities are not exactly a hidden cost, but they’re often overlooked by tenants eager to move into a new apartment or renew their current lease.

Always factor utilities into the overall cost of the property. Landlord-tenant laws in each state govern how utilities can be billed, along with what recourse either party has in the case of missed payments or shutoffs.

Sometimes utilities are in the landlord’s name and included in the overall rent charge. Other times, tenants are required to place the electric or gas bills in their names. (Many municipalities require the water and/or sewer accounts to stay in the landlord’s name.)

Then there’s third-party billing: situations where master meters serve an entire building, in which case the landlord splits the charges among all the tenants and bills them individually. Third-party billing makes sense for the landlord, who can advertise a base rental price but charge the utilities as an add-on.

City ordinances

Certain cities have clamped down on third-party billing, which they view as deceptive. In Seattle, for example, the third-party billing ordinance covers all residents living in buildings with three or more units. The ordinance was written to protect tenants from unscrupulous landlords who were fraudulently overcharging them.

The Tenants Union of Washington State, a nonprofit dedicated to education, organizing and advocacy for tenants, provides detailed information for renters about third-party billing and other important issues related to utility costs.

Many of the best practices they recommend apply to all tenants, regardless of location:

  • Ask questions about utility service before you sign a lease.
  • Set up your utility accounts quickly.
  • Pay utility bills promptly and keep documentation of all payments.
  • Take steps to protect yourself with the landlord.
  • Act immediately to resolve utility disputes.

Other “hidden” charges

There are other fees, besides utilities, that your landlord might charge. Some of these are optional add-ons determined by a certain tenant’s particular situation, but others apply to everyone. Landlords in a competitive rental market might even increase these fees based on supply and demand.

The add-ons can include pet fees or a separate charge for parking. Some properties charge an application fee — whether or not the prospective renter is approved.

Other properties, particularly condos or developments subject to homeowners associations (HOAs), charge move-in fees for tenant-occupied units. Amenities, such as cable TV or internet access, which are not considered utilities under most ordinances, might also be billed through an HOA or the landlord.

Of course, this is all in addition to a security deposit and any rent you might have to prepay, like first and last month’s rent due upon move in.

Have questions? Need help?

Advocacy organizations, like the Tenants Union in Seattle, operate around the country. These nonprofits offer help and information to renters.

State agencies also provide information for both tenants and landlords. For example, Georgia’s Department of Community Affairs publishes a Georgia Landlord-Tenant Handbook on its website. A quick internet search will yield similar results in most states.

Sometimes, though, problems and questions can’t be resolved with online information. That’s where consulting an expert can be a smart solution.

Lawyers who specialize in landlord-tenant law not only are familiar with the underlying law in a given geographic region, but also have experience with the systems and processes that can efficiently and economically resolve disputes. Often, spending money for expert advice early on can yield big savings in the long run.

Related:

Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.

Originally published April 8, 2016.

Source: zillow.com

What QE3 Means for Mortgage Rates

As widely expected, the Federal Reserve announced “QE3” last week, a move taken to bolster the flagging economy by putting downward pressure on long-term interest rates.

More specifically, the Fed pledged to purchase even more agency mortgage-backed securities (MBS) in an effort to push mortgage rates lower than already are, via a method known as quantitative easing.

Their plan is to buy roughly $40 billion in MBS per month, with no set time period. In other words, it’s open-ended, which may have been unexpected.

And it will only come to an end when the economy and labor force have improved noticeably, and probably extend even further beyond that.

The Fed will also maintain an existing policy of reinvesting principal payments from its current agency debt and agency MBS in additional agency MBS.

Altogether, these latest actions will increase the Fed’s holdings of longer-term securities by about $85 billion each month through the end of 2012.

Just Tell Me How Much Rates Will Drop!

  • As the Fed makes the pledge to buy more mortgage-backed securities
  • Demand should rise, pushing MBS prices higher
  • Which means lenders will be able to make more and offer lower rates to consumers
  • Rates could drop .125% to .25% or more

Okay, okay, so what on earth does all that mean in layman terms? Well, with the Fed buying so many MBS, demand for them rises, prices rise, and the yield drops, and thus mortgage rates drop.

So the interest rate on your 30-year fixed mortgage goes down, though how much it will go down is the big unknown.

After QE3 was announced on Thursday, mortgage rates quickly sank back to record lows seen a month or so ago.

Unfortunately, mortgage rates have already fallen so much that the movement doesn’t mean a whole lot.

We could be talking anywhere from an eighth to a quarter point in rate, so instead of a rate of 3.625% on your mortgage, it might be 3.375%.

On a $200,000 loan amount, the difference in monthly payment is roughly $28. In other words, you can go to the movies or out to a modestly-priced dinner each month.

So before you get too excited, you may want to come to terms with the fact that it’s not going to change your life.

Granted, if you hold the mortgage for the full term, you’ll save about $10,000 in interest.

Rates Are Already Rock Bottom

  • The problem is that rates are already super low
  • And the lower they go, the harder it is to push them lower
  • So while perhaps a well-intentioned move by the Fed
  • It might not have the desired effect, especially if lenders are too busy to bother lowering rates

I’ve said this time and time again. Mortgage rates are already so stinking low that there’s not much room to move any lower.

Yes, it’s possible that the 30-year fixed could dip into the 2% range if the economy takes another wrong turn. Or if Europe implodes. Or if something else unthinkable happens. Let’s not tempt fate.

But the lower mortgage rates are, the less upside there is of them getting any better. When rates are high, it’s easy for them to slip lower and lower.

However, once rates drop considerably, as they already have, it’s probably safe to expect only modest improvements, if that.

That’s pretty much what we’ve seen over the past year and change, modest improvements after much more sizable declines.

So perhaps it’s best to look at the Fed announcement more as a preemptive move to avoid a rise in rates.

In effect, QE3 might mean low mortgage rates for a longer period of time, despite improvements in the broader economy that normally dictate their direction.

After all, mortgage rates had risen a bit over the past month, and the new G-fee has also made mortgages more expensive.

This effectively puts rates back to their most recent lows. Anything beyond that is still a big question mark.

And even if they did drop any lower, I don’t know if it would have much of an effect.

Mortgage lenders are already swamped with refinance applications, and those looking to purchase a home certainly are not holding back because mortgage rates are too high!

About the Author: Colin Robertson

Before creating this blog, Colin worked as an account executive for a wholesale mortgage lender in Los Angeles. He has been writing passionately about mortgages for 15 years.

Source: thetruthaboutmortgage.com

Can AI Beat the Market? 10 Stocks to Watch

Artificial intelligence isn’t new to the world of stock picking, but it hasn’t really been an option for retail investors. That is, until now.

Traditionally, powerful artificial intelligence systems – and the high-octane brainpower needed to develop and run them – that target stocks to watch have been available only to hedge funds, quant funds and a select group of asset management firms.

Danel Capital, a financial advice company, aims to change all that with a new analytics platform that harnesses the power of big data technology and machine learning. The idea is to help regular investors make smarter decisions with their tactical stock picks.

Here’s how it works:

The company’s AI algorithms analyze more than 900 fundamental, technical and sentiment data points per day for 1,000 U.S.-listed shares and 600 stocks listed in Europe. Danel says that in total, its AI predictive scoring capability churns through 10,000 daily indicators. The platform then analyzes that huge amount of data to predict the future performance of each stock, calculating the probability of beating the market over the next four months.

Once the algo determines which stocks to watch, it spits out a rating known as a Smart Score, which ranges from 1 to 10. Danel says that, on average, stocks with the highest Smart Scores of nine or 10 almost doubled the S&P 500’s annualized returns from January 2017 to July 2020.

And, indeed, the top 5 rankings Danel Capital firm released in January and February beat the S&P 500 by considerable margins. The firm has since switched to issuing top 10 rankings.

Note well that we’re talking about the probability of beating the market over the next few months or so, not days. That makes the platform useful for tactical investors, not day traders.

It’s an interesting system that makes some pretty counterintuitive stock picks. Whether it proves to be a useful tool for retail investors remains to be seen, but it’s worth keeping an eye on.

Here are 10 stocks to watch over the next few months, as Danel Capital’s AI platform gives them the highest probability of beating the market in that time. All have perfect Smart Scores of 10, but for good measure, we also took a look at some fundamentals, technicals and analyst research on these names.

Share prices and other data are courtesy of S&P Global Market Intelligence as of April 6, unless otherwise noted.

1 of 10

10. Snowflake

Concept art for high-tech insuranceConcept art for high-tech insurance
  • Market value: $68.1 billion
  • Smart score: 10

Cloud infrastructure unicorn Snowflake (SNOW, $236.01) generated considerable hype when it went public in September 2020 at $120 a share, making it the largest software offering in history. 

It didn’t hurt that Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B) – whose chairman and CEO Warren Buffett is notoriously averse to initial public offerings – got in on Snowflake’s ground floor, snapping up $250 million worth of SNOW in a private placement.

But mostly the excitement stemmed from Snowflake’s growth prospects in the rapidly expanding industry of cloud infrastructure software. Known as a cloud-data warehousing company, Snowflake lets enterprise customers run their software on various cloud platforms, be they provided by Amazon.com (AMZN), Microsoft (MSFT) or Google parent Alphabet (GOOGL), to name just three.

Investors have already included Snowflake among their stocks to watch thanks to the shares’ near-doubling since the IPO, but they’re off about 16% for the year-to-date amid a widespread selloff in the software sector. By Danel Capital’s reckoning, however, they’re poised for a rebound soon.

The firm’s proprietary AI assessment gives SNOW a Smart Score of 10, helped by strong – and rising – technical indicators and improving fundamental scores.

Wall Street likes SNOW’s prospects, too.

“Snowflake’s product architecture is superior to its rivals and that the market for cloud-hosted data analytics might be larger than investors believe,” writes UBS Global Research analyst Karl Keirstead, who rates the stock at Buy.

Of the 26 analysts covering the stock tracked by S&P Global Market Intelligence, nine rate it at Strong Buy, two say Buy and 15 have it at Hold. Their average target price of $289.92 gives SNOW implied upside of about 25% over the next 12 months or so.

2 of 10

9. Palantir Technologies

concept art for big dataconcept art for big data
  • Market value: $42.4 billion
  • Smart score: 10

Palantir Technologies (PLTR, $23.27) gets a perfect 10 Smart Score, again, thanks predominantly to strong technical grades. AI’s assessments of PLTR’s fundamentals and sentiment are more middling, but stable. Interestingly, Palantir’s daily Smart Score has been in a strong uptrend recently, nearly doubling since the end of March.

Although a Smart Score of 10 suggests that shares in the big data analytics company are a good candidate for outperformance in the shorter to intermediate term, the Street is more cautious, at least in its longer term view.

Analysts’ consensus recommendation on the name stands at Hold, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence. One analyst rates PLTR at Strong Buy, one says Buy, three have it at Hold, one calls it a Sell and two slap a Strong Sell on the stock.

Shares in the company, which went public on Sept. 30, 2020 through a direct listing, opened at $10 on their first day of trading and closed at $9.50. Although PLTR is up about 145% ever since, what stands foremost in investors’ minds is that the stock is down 35% from its late-January all-time closing high.

William Blair equity research, which rates the stock at Underperform (the equivalent of Sell), is concerned that Palantir has struggled to deliver the same type of hyper-growth in its commercial division that many of its competitors have achieved. 

“Palantir offers a unique solution, which has the potential to support growth rates in line with some of the most successful providers of enterprise software,” writes William Blair analyst Kamil Mielczarek. “However, we believe there are several risks to achieving this growth rate that are not currently priced into the stock.”

Analysts’ average price target of $25.57 gives PLTR implied upside of roughly 10% over the next year or so. So, put Palantir among your stocks to watch over the next few months to see whether the more bullish algos, or more bearish humans, are right.

3 of 10

8. Nio

Nio vehiclesNio vehicles
  • Market value: $65.5 billion
  • Smart score: 10

If you thought Tesla (TSLA) stock was a hot and volatile way to play the explosive growth in electric vehicles, take a look at shares in NIO (NIO, $40.00).

The Chinese electric-vehicle maker’s stock has outperformed TSLA by a stunning margin over the past 52 weeks – and has done so in even more volatile fashion than we’ve come to expect from the leading EV stock. 

Shares in NIO have gained more than 1,519% over the past year vs. an increase of 675% for TSLA. Of course, when comparing performance, it depends on how you draw the chart. For the year-to-date, for example, NIO is off 18% vs. a 2% drop in TSLA. 

Either way, with a perfect Smart Score of 10, Danel Capital’s AI expects NIO to return to its market-beating ways soon. Strong scores for technical and sentiment factors – and high marks for the fundamental factor of high expected revenue growth – all help propel NIO to the top of the AI list.

Investors certainly have to be pleased with some recent catalysts. Among them, NIO delivered a record number of vehicles in March. Most notably, the EV maker achieved the feat despite a global shortage of semiconductors that has forced other automakers to suspend or reduce production. 

The Street is likewise bullish on the premium EV start-up company. Of the 18 analysts covering NIO tracked by S&P Global Market Intelligence, six rate the stock at Strong Buy, five say Buy and seven call it a Hold. Their consensus recommendation comes to Buy.

UBS Global Research analyst Paul Gong isn’t quite so enthusiastic. He rates NIO at Neutral (Hold), citing risks such as weaker-than-expected demand; fierce competition, including the local production of Tesla; and a potential decline in government subsidies for the EV industry.

4 of 10

7. Albemarle

Lithium-ion batteryLithium-ion battery
  • Market value: $17.8 billion
  • Smart score: 10

Albemarle’s (ALB, $152.89) specialty chemicals products work entirely behind the scenes, from clean-fuel technologies to pharmaceuticals to fire safety. But what puts Albemarle among the market’s top stocks to watch right now is lithium.

The world’s need for higher-capacity rechargeable batteries was already insatiable. And now that electric vehicles have entered the scene? Forget about it.

That’s why it makes perfect sense that Albemarle’s top Smart Score is driven by a blemish-free rating of its fundamentals. Danel Capital’s AI also assigns it a near-perfect score on the stock’s technical considerations.

The algo’s reading on sentiment, however, is relatively low, scoring only a three out of 10. That helps explain the Street’s mixed view on the stock and its consensus recommendation of at Hold.

Although the accelerating pace of global EV sales bodes well for lithium demand, some analysts think ALB stock may have gotten ahead of itself at current levels. 

“Our lithium outlook is improving, and we think ALB will be well positioned for growth through capacity expansions,” writes CFRA Research analyst Richard Wolfe. “However, we think shares’ lofty valuation captures much of this benefit, so we stay at Hold.”

Danel Capital’s AI suggests that ALB is a good current stock pick for tactical investors. But it also happens to be worth a closer look if you’re a longer term dividend growth investor. Indeed, ALB is a member of the S&P Dividend Aristocrats, an elite list of S&P 500 companies that have raised their dividends for at least 25 consecutive years. Albemarle last hiked its payout in February 2021, by 1.3% to a quarterly 39 cents a share. The move represented the firm’s 27th consecutive annual increase.

5 of 10

6. Ebix

image of man with charts and graphsimage of man with charts and graphs
  • Market value: $987.7 million
  • Smart score: 10

Artificial intelligence – and its forerunner of quantitative analysis – in a sense puts blinders on. Data, not headlines, drives decisions. Whether that’s the best approach to take with a company like Ebix (EBIX, $31.90) is a matter of debate.

Ebix, which specializes in software and services to the insurance, health care and financial industries, saw its shares tumble by more than 50% over two sessions in late February after its auditor resigned.

The whiff of accounting issues has yet to be resolved, but shares have clawed back some of their losses. EBIX is now off about 16% for the year-to-date and, by some measures, trading at bargain-basement levels.

Interestingly, EBIX scores high in all three categories of Danel Capital AI’s Smart Score system, garnering sevens (out of 10) for fundamentals and sentiment, and an almost-perfect nine in technicals.

As for the fundamentals, the algo gives Ebix high marks for free cash flow, or money available to shareholders if the company decides to distribute it. And, indeed, the company generated free cash flow (after debt payments) of $59.5 million for the 12 months ended Sept. 30, 2020. That’s a notable figure given that the company generated net income of $94.5 million over the same 12-month period.

Valuation is another plus – shares are trading at less than 10 times at estimated earnings for 2021.

While Danel Capital has EBIX among its stocks to watch right now, it’s barely a blip on most analysts’ radar. The lone pro covering the stock tracked by S&P Global Market Intelligence is likewise bullish, giving it a Strong Buy recommendation.

6 of 10

5. American Airlines

American Airlines planeAmerican Airlines plane
  • Market value: $15.4 billion
  • Smart score: 10

American Airlines (AAL, $24.06) – and indeed much of the rest of the air carrier industry – is considered by the Street to be among the ultimate recovery plays.

Danel Capital’s algo certainly thinks so, giving it a perfect Smart Score with strength across the board. AAL gets a 10 for fundamentals and ratings of nine on both sentiment and technicals. 

Notably, daily sentiment scores on the name have been in a steep uptrend since the end of March, while fundamental readings have remained perfect on a daily basis for even longer. Readings on technicals have likewise bounced higher in April.

The Street, however, is less sanguine on AAL, with a consensus recommendation of Sell. Of the 22 analysts covering the stock tracked by S&P Global Market Intelligence, two rate it at Strong Buy, eight say Hold, four call it a Sell and seven say Strong Sell. One has no opinion on the name.

Stifel equity research, which rates AAL at Hold, says it has reservations based on the company’s ability to navigate a challenging post-pandemic landscape. 

“American Airlines faces significant earnings pressure and uncertainty related to COVID-19, the pace of a recovery, and its ability to solve the margin challenges it faced pre-COVID,” writes Stifel analyst Joseph DeNardi in a note to clients. 

Argus Research also remains cautious on the stock.

“We are maintaining our Hold rating on AAL, which had been hurt by the 737 MAX groundings, is now wrestling with COVID-19 and high debt levels,” writes analyst John Staszak. “With air travel demand remaining weak, we think that lower operating expenses and a low interest rate environment will provide only partial relief to American and other airlines.”

7 of 10

4. Zoom Video Communications

A person using video conferencingA person using video conferencing
  • Market value: $96.9 billion
  • Smart score: 10

Zoom Video Communications (ZM, $329.79) has been among the Street’s top stocks to watch ever since the pandemic. Few companies have benefited from the work-from-home economy as much as Zoom – and Danel Capital’s algos think there is more upside ahead.

The video conferencing company’s perfect Smart Score is driven by high marks for technicals and sentiment, which offset a somewhat more middling rating in fundamentals.

The Street likes what it sees, too. Analysts consensus recommendation works out to a Buy, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence. The breakdown comes to eight Strong Buy recommendations, three Buys, 14 Hold calls, one Sell and one Strong Sell.

Although shares in Zoom are up about 170% over the past 52 weeks, they’ve been trending lower since October. And as for the year-to-date? ZM is off 2.2% vs. a gain of 6% for the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite index.

An accelerating vaccination campaign against COVID-19 and the green shoots of a return to pre-pandemic routines doesn’t necessarily bode well for ZM, but bulls say any pessimism over the stock’s prospects is overdone.

William Blair equity research, for example, expects Zoom’s momentum to continue in 2021 after posting “blowout” quarterly results to cap off an “incredible” year.

“We continue to believe that Zoom is benefiting from strong secular tailwinds in a large and underpenetrated market and expect that the company can continue to show strong growth for years to come,” analyst Matt Stotler, who rates the stock at Outperform (Buy), writes in a client note.

With an average target price of $462.72, analysts give ZM stock implied upside of about 40% in the next 12 months or so. They expect the company to generate average annual EPS growth of 15.6% over the next three to five years, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence.

8 of 10

3. Bluebird Bio

image of man with charts and graphsimage of man with charts and graphs
  • Market value: $2.0 billion
  • Smart score: 10

Bluebird Bio (BLUE, $30.16), a biotechnology company that develops gene therapies for both severe genetic diseases and cancer, gets high ratings in all three of Danel Capital’s major rating categories. It also gets high marks from the Street.

The algo gives it scores of seven, eight and seven for fundamentals, technicals, and sentiment, respectively. At the same time, the human consensus recommendation stands at Buy. 

Complicating matters is that following a series of setbacks, the company in January said it will split into two separate entities, with one focusing on cancer and the other on rare diseases.

The problem, as Raymond James analyst Dane Leone puts it, is what is the value of Bluebird Bio with the split looming later this year? As a result, the analyst rates BLUE at Hold.

Another challenge stems from regulatory uncertainty surrounding the company’s development of LentiGlobin. The Food and Drug Administration in February put trials of the gene therapy on clinical hold.

Although the consensus recommendation stands at Buy, analysts are pretty closely split on the name amid all the uncertainty. Of the 24 analysts covering BLUE tracked by S&P Global Market Intelligence, nine rate it at Strong Buy, one says Buy and 14 call it a Hold.

Their average target price of $47.89 gives BLUE implied upside of nearly 60% over the next 12 months or so. Keep in mind that the stock is off 30% so far in 2021.

As with Ebix above, Bluebird Bio appears to be one of the more speculative bets on the AI list.

9 of 10

2. TechnipFMC

oil services workeroil services worker
  • Market value: $3.5 billion
  • Smart score: 10

The energy sector is loaded with recovery plays. TechnipFMC (FTI, $7.65), an oil and gas services company, could be one of the better ones, according to Danel Capital’s AI.

FTI’s perfect Smart Score is based on a rating of nine for fundamentals, and 10s for both technicals and sentiment. 

The Street is mostly bullish too, with a consensus recommendation of Buy. Of the 25 analysts covering FTI tracked by S&P Global Market Intelligence, 11 call it a Strong Buy, two say Buy, 11 rate it at Hold and one has it at Sell. Their average price target of $10.89 gives the stock implied upside of about 40% in the next 12 months or so. 

The slow reopening of the global economy is bullish for oil prices, and the market has been rewarding the sector handsomely. Indeed, energy has been the S&P 500’s best-performing sector so far this year, with a gain of 29% through April 6. 

FTI, down about 18% for the year-to-date, hasn’t participated in the rally. But it’s among Wall Street’s best stocks to watch right now because the bulls – and the algos – say it’s only a matter of time. 

“In the Surface Technologies segment, we expect higher international activity to offset modest-to-lower North American activity in 2021,” writes CFRA Research analyst Andrzej Tomczyk, who rates shares at Buy. “The Subsea segment should also see growth, given renewed operator confidence amid the improved macro environment and higher oil prices.”

10 of 10

1. Alaska Air

An Alaska Air planeAn Alaska Air plane
  • Market value: $9.2 billion
  • Smart score: 10

Alaska Air (ALK, $73.74) is set to benefit disproportionately from a recovery in the air travel sector, analysts say. And Danel Capital AI’s assessment suggests shares will take off soon.

ALK gets perfect scores of 10 on fundamentals, technicals and sentiment. With shares up nearly 42% for the year-to-date, it’s fair to say the market and Danel’s AI are of the same mind.

On the Street, analysts emphasize the air carrier’s unusually strong fundamentals in an otherwise battered industry. 

“We believe ALK’s combination of a conservative balance sheet and its historically high cash generation per plane will make it among the first U.S. airlines to recover profitability this year,” writes CFRA analyst Colin Scarola, who has a Buy recommendation on the stock. “ALK also has modest equipment purchase commitments for 2021-2022, in our view, with 2022 commitments equating to only 32% of 2019 operating cash flow.”

At Stifel, analyst Joseph DeNardi, who rates ALK at Buy, believes the airline’s geographic service area lowers the risk that it emerges from the pandemic facing significantly lower structural demand.

But Alaska Air also is among the best stocks to watch right now for its M&A potential. For example, what if the pandemic and its aftermath trigger a painful reckoning in the industry, leading to consolidation?

In that case, “Alaska would be a highly valued asset,” DeNardi writes.

The bulk of the Street sides with the bulls on ALK, with nine Strong Buy calls, three Buys and two Hold recommendations. Add it all up and the consensus recommendation comes to Buy, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence.

Source: kiplinger.com

5 Things Car Dealers Won’t Tell You

Whether you are shopping for a new car or a used one, you know how overwhelming the process can be. No matter how much research you’ve done, or how hard you’ve bargained, you may still second guess yourself, wondering if you struck the best deal.

Here are five things dealers may not tell you that can save you money on your next car purchase.

Invoice Price Isn’t Our Bottom Line

Most of us know that the sticker price is just a starting point for negotiations. And we may even know to research the invoice price. But most of us don’t realize that even when we buy a car “at invoice” the dealer has plenty of other ways to make a small profit. One of those ways is something called the “dealer holdback.”

According to Edmunds.com, an amount called a “holdback” is 2-3% of either the MSRP or the invoice. After the car is sold, the manufacturer pays this amount to the dealer, hence the name “dealer holdback.” On a $20,000 car, a 2% holdback would be $400.

Ummm, There’s Been An Accident…

Shopping for a used car? Your car dealer may be just as reluctant as your teenager to mention that the car’s been in an accident. “When it comes to accidents, it’s don’t ask, don’t tell,” warns Michael J. Sacks,  automotive consumer advocate and director of communications for 1 800 LEMON LAW. A dealer is not going to come out and say a car has been in an accident. You must ask. If you don’t and you find out later, how can you prove the car was misrepresented?”

In addition to asking specifically about accidents, you can check a vehicle’s history through Carfax. “While a Carfax report does not guarantee a problem-free used vehicle, it does help to reduce the risk. Never buy a used car without reviewing its history,” insists LeeAnn Shattuck, Chief Car Chick with Women’s Automotive Solutions.

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Low Monthly Payments Are Our Friend, Not Yours

Yes, most of us know that just focusing on the monthly payment, rather than the overall cost of the car, is a mistake. But that’s not stopping us from taking out loans of five years or longer. Experian reports that the average loan term for a new vehicle jumped to an all-time high of 65 months in the last quarter of 2012, up from 63 months in the last quarter of 2011.

The minute you start talking monthly payments with a dealer you’re in trouble, warns Shattuck.

“If you tell the dealer, ‘I can afford $300 a month,’ all they have to do is play with the loan term and get you the payment you want without getting you a good deal on the car.”

The longer your car loan, the more likely you are to be “upside down” on your loan, owing more than the vehicle is worth. That’s especially risky if you drive a lot of miles since the high mileage will also cause the car to depreciate more quickly. “The more miles you drive per year the shorter your loan term should be,” she insists. In addition, interest rates for 60- to 72-month loans tend to be higher. A higher rate combined with a longer term can add up to thousands of dollars by the time the car is paid off.

Your Credit Score Is Different Than Ours

If you’ve checked your credit reports and scores before you started auto shopping (smart move) you may be surprised to learn that the credit score the dealer sees is different than the one you have obtained. Credit.com’s credit scoring expert Barry Paperno explains:

While the typical FICO score predicts the likelihood of any account on a consumer’s credit report going delinquent, auto dealers often use the “auto score” version of the FICO formula to predict the chances of an auto loan — not just any account — incurring late payments.  To do this, the FICO auto scoring formula gives slightly more weight to auto loan-specific information on the credit report, such as auto loan payment history. The result is often a higher auto score than standard FICO for a consumer with positive auto loan history (all things on the credit report being equal), and a lower auto score if there is negative, or a lack of, auto loan history.

Of course, you still want to check your credit reports and scores before you need to finance a vehicle. Ideally, you should check them at least a month before to allow time to fix mistakes you may find on your credit reports. (You can use Credit.com’s free Credit Report Card for an easy to understand overview of your credit, along with your free scores. You can update your Credit Report Card monthly.) In addition, though, you’ll want to shop for a car loan before you set foot in the dealership. If the dealer knows you have already lined up financing, they can’t charge you a higher rate on a loan because your credit “isn’t good enough.” All they can try to do is match or beat the rate on the loan you’ve already lined up.

It Doesn’t Have to Be That Difficult

Dread haggling? Don’t make it harder than it has to be. “The actual process of negotiating a price for a new vehicle is a lot simpler than most people realize,” writes Mike Rabkin, a professional car shopper who walks car shoppers through the process. “It’s all about who you talk to and how knowledgeable you appear.” One strategy, he says, is to bypass the sales person and go straight to the decision maker. That person could go by different names, depending on the dealer: sales manager, general sales manager, fleet manager, Internet manager, etc.

“Whatever you do,” says Rabkin, “make sure you get competing quotes from at least four dealers. To know a good price, you have to know what a bad price is,” he says. “Competition is what makes them more competitive. Even if you don’t plan to shop at other dealers, you have to let them know you are shopping around.”

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Other experts agree. “You can buy a car with minimal haggling by calling and speaking to the fleet manager directly,”says Blair Natasi, PR director for MyRedToy.com, an online reverse auction service for car shoppers.

Or find a dealer that is transparent with customers.”The world of car buying is constantly changing and some dealers are finding that less pressure and more transparency helps their sales and earns them enthusiastic customers,” says Edmunds.com Sr. Consumer Advice Editor Phil Reed. “These enlightened dealers realize that many shoppers are well informed and they accept this and are willing to expedite the sales process accordingly. (They understand) how important customer satisfaction is for repeat sales.”

How do you find a straight-shooting dealer? Reed suggests: “You should try to learn as much as possible about a dealership before you give them your business. There is always the BBB to consult. We have dealer ratings and reviews on our site. You can always type the name of the dealership and ‘reviews’ into Google and you will get reviews from a variety of sources. Word of mouth from friends and family is also quite valuable, and it’s not uncommon for friends to refer you to a specific sales person. It’s important, however, to do all of your research on the price of a car, because a referral doesn’t mean you have an inside deal.”

And if you’re still not comfortable negotiating for the best price, you can hire a professional like Shattuck or Rabkin. The car I previously owned was purchased with the help of a professional car shopper and I was confident I got a good deal. I was able to pay it off early and drive it for a long time. My past car I purchased on my own, with help from my hubby, and while I think we did OK, I do wonder if we could have done better.

Image: iStockphoto

Source: credit.com