A portfolio of pure profit

Drake Craig's search for companies with spic-and-span earnings yielded great results

For Drake J. Craig, principal of ALIC Investment Advisors in Atlanta, the economic recovery came at just the right time. “We’re definitely in an economic recovery and the market is reflecting it,” says the University of North Carolina business school graduate who is part of a team that manages more than $55 million for his firm.

While the exclusive portfolio of stocks Craig selected for BLACK ENTERPRISE last year fared as he expected, he boasts that his emphasis on what he calls pure earnings — when a company derives 80% of its profits from business operations as opposed to write-offs or cutbacks — could have produced even better results. “I did not expect the market to recover as well as it has,” says Craig, explaining that although his selections grew 34.02% over the 52-week period from March 5, 2003, to March 3, 2004, he felt he could have done better. “For this portfolio, I did not choose the most aggressive names, just good fundamental stocks. And they are all good for diversification.”

Craig says that most of the stocks he chose reached the targets he set for them. “I have sold them in our portfolios, but these are not panic-sell positions. The stocks reached our target, however, a few still have room to grow.”

One of the stocks he believes has room to grow is Harley- Davidson (NYSE: HDI), the $4.1 billion motorcycle manufacturer. The stock rewarded investors last year with a 45.08% yield, moving from $36.87 to $53.49. Craig expects the company to “continue to have strong fundamentals and to reach $60 by the summer.” His reasoning? “As the economy continues to pick up, consumers will buy cars, motorcycles, and other luxury items.”

Shares of Freddie Mac (NYSE: FRE), the government-sponsored mortgage company nicknamed Uncle Sam’s nephew, rose 14.01%, going from $54.05 to $61.62. Craig says Freddie Mac is “a hold, maybe a buy.” He predicts: “I can see it at $73 or $74.” Since homeownership is the American dream, he says, the continued demand for mortgage products should make this stock a winning holding for the future.

Craig cautions investors who still hold Apollo Group (Nasdaq: APOL), the continuing education firm that owns the University of Phoenix online program and that offers other online courses. “I wouldn’t overstay my welcome here,” says Craig. Although Apollo Group has done very well, blasting up 70.36% from $45.68 to $77.82, Craig thinks the ride is just about over. “Maybe $85 is a reasonable target, but I’d advise readers to take the profit,” he says.

On the other hand, Craig says Affiliated Computer Services (NYSE: ACS), the Dallas-based business and information technology outsourcing services firm, “still has an attractive upside.” He admits that some investors might find e-business, network management, and information security boring, but he maintains that the stock demands your full, undivided attention. Up 13.35% since his recommendation, the stock went from $44.19 to $50.09, and Craig predicts that this mundane moneymaker could move up as high as $57 a share.

And Craig says that his final selection,

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