Playing It Big

If you’re out at sea in treacherous waters, it’s better to be on a big ship than a small boat. That’s the analogy that William Young uses to make the point that investors should place their bets with larger companies that can withstand an economic climate of uncertainty rather than invest in small to mid-size firms that may not be able to weather the storm.

“Many large-cap companies are flush with cash and are operating at historically efficient levels. In times of uncertainty, the market tends to favor companies that have proven products and the resources to weather poor economic times,” says Young, a chief operating officer at Buford Dickson Harper & Sparrow in St. Louis.

Young, who also serves as chairman of BDHS’s investment committee, says he expects economic conditions to remain the same as the country approaches the 2006 election cycle. Young says his company, which manages large-cap and small-cap portfolios for institutional clients, is banking on its investment philosophy: to buy the stocks of well-managed companies that have a track record of positive earnings momentum. “Our investment approach uses fundamental and technical analysis to identify companies that show several traits including dominance in their industry, superior products that enable them to grow market share, a skilled and savvy management team, and accelerated earnings,” he adds.

With that investment strategy in mind, Young has chosen the following four stocks.

McKesson Corp. (NYSE: MCK), an information technology and healthcare services company for hospitals, physicians, home care providers, and medical supply companies, tops the list. “This company will benefit from the growth in numbers of an aging population that requires greater healthcare,” Young says.

He also likes AstraZeneca P.L.C. (NYSE: AZN), another healthcare-related company that develops products and focuses resources in six therapy areas: cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, neuroscience, oncology, respiratory and inflammation, and infection. “AstraZeneca is a leading pharmaceutical firm whose top-quality products are used for almost every major illness, from cancer to migraine headaches,” explains Young.

Ambac Financial Group Inc (NYSE: ABK) is a financial sector company on which Young is bullish. Ambac is a holding company whose subsidiaries provide financial guarantee products and other financial services to clients in public and private sectors worldwide. Ambac’s stock should benefit from an increasing need by municipal governments to finance schools, roads, and other infrastructure.

Young believes Texas Instruments Inc. (NYSE: TXN) is poised to increase its stock value. The company manufactures, designs, and sells products in three main business segments: semiconductor, sensors and controls, and educational and productivity solutions. “Texas Instruments is one of the world’s oldest and largest semiconductor makers, and is a market leader in digital signal processors, HDTVs, and cell phones, which are market segments that will continue to grow.”


Company Exchange: Symbol Price 12- to 18- Month Price Target P/E on Projected 2006 Earnings Est. 5-Yr. Annual EPS Growth Rate Why Stock Will Outperform
McKesson Corp. (NYSE: MCK) $52.00 $62.00 17.4 10% McKesson will increase its business as America’s aging population grows. 
AstraZeneca P.L.C. (NYSE: AZN)  $62.11