Scouring for Small Caps Highlighted in Current Barron’s: CENT, VPFG, SCVL

BarronsLogoWe are well aware of the power a mention in Barron’s can mean for a stock, either for the good or bad. So we make a regular habit of scouring The Dow Jones Business and Financial Weekly, as it calls itself, for any mentions of small cap stocks. This week (the December 24 edition) there were at least three.

Barron’s staffer David Englander is a regular small cap contributor via his weekly Sizing Up Small-Caps column. This week he covered Walnut Creek, CA-based Central Garden & Pet under a headline “A Paws that Refreshes.” Central is a supplier of garden and pet products that boasts Wal-Mart, Lowe’s, Home Depot, PetSmart and Petco as customers.

Central stock had been rising throughout most of 2012 as it cut costs dramatically (original goal was $120 million by September, according to Englander) by streamling its manufacturing and distribution efforts.  That rise came to a screeching halt Dec. 11 with a selloff triggered by the announcement of its fourth quarter earnings. Apparently the cost cutting “led to supply-chain disruptions” and delays in filling orders, which were not well received by Wall Street.

Central (Nasdaq: CENT or CENTA for class A shares, http://www.central.com/) has a 52-week trading range of $7.99-$12.61 with a market cap of $479 million. CENT was trading at $11.42 as recently as Dec. 7. It closed Dec. 27 at $9.99, up 17 cents for the day.

The two other small caps (by our definition under $1 billion market cap, give or take…) in the current Barron’s were part of an interview of Eric Marshall, portfolio manager, Hodges Capital Management. In the list of top 10 holdings in the Hodges Small Cap Fund are:

Plano, TX-based ViewPoint Financial Group (Nasdaq: VPFG, http://www.viewpointfinancialgroup.com/) is a regional bank that was “converted from a sleepy credit union that Marshall calls ‘a value play with a growth component.'” Marshall likes the new life new management is providing. Its 52-week trading range is $12.96-$21.99 and its current market cap is $774 million. It closed Dec. 27 at $20.76, up 17 cents for the day.

Evansville, IN-based Shoe Carnival (Nasdaq: SCVL, http://www.shoecarnival.com/), a shoe retailer with 352 stores in 32 states and Puerto Rico, is called a “big growth prospect” in Barron’s. SCVL has a goal of doubling the number of stores. Its 52-week trading range is $15.23-$24.66 and its current market cap is $386 million. It closed Dec. 27 at $19.26, up 20 cents on the day.

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