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Feature Article

Picks and Pans for 2018

By Roger S. Conrad on Jan. 8, 2018

Every new year brings fresh challenges. Fortunately, investors can face what’s coming in 2018 by following the two basic principles that guided our returns last year: diversification and a relentless focus on business strength.

Our Model Portfolios turned in a strong performance last year, while the picks and pans that we highlighted in January 2017 and updated in June also fared well: Our picks generated an average total return of 19.6 percent, besting the 5.8 percent gain posted by our pans.

(Click table to enlarge.)
2017 picks and pans

Focusing on best-in-class names kept us out of several of some of the biggest winners in our Utility Report Card, deteriorating businesses whose stocks rebounded because of takeover offers or restructuring efforts.

Best and WorstOf the top 10 performers in our coverage universe, only NextEra Energy Partners LP (NYSE: NEP) featured in the Model Portfolios, though we did have Buy ratings on RGC Resources (NSDQ: RGCO), Alaska Communications Systems Group (NSDQ: ALSK), E.On (Frankfurt: EOAN, OTC: EONGY) and Veolia Environnement (Paris: VIE, OTC: VEOEY) at various points in 2017.

On the other hand, avoiding flailing companies where the investment thesis hinges entirely on a possible takeover helped us to avoid every name on the list of worst performers.

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