News & Our Thinking

Weekly Investor

Weekly Investor – February 19, 2019

19 February 2019

A Third Straight Week of Gains

Last week stocks in the S&P 500® Index rose by over 2.5% to to close up for the third consecutive week. Small cap stocks returned 4.4% and mid cap stocks posted a 3.4% gain. A better consumer outlook coupled with positive developments in the China trade talks buoyed the market.

Domestic economic growth drove the energy markets upward as oil moved to over $55 a barrel to close out the week. Rising crude prices pushed energy stocks in the S&P 500 higher and the group lead the index for the week. Devon Energy, Marathon Oil, and Apache were some of the top performing energy stocks in the index. Coty Inc., a beauty product manufacturer, was one of the top performers in the S&P 500 after JAB Investments announced it would acquire control of the company.

Looking ahead to this week, housing demand will be analyzed when mortgage applications numbers are released on Wednesday. The minutes from the latest Federal Reserve Open Markets meeting held in January will also be released on Wednesday, which may give insight into where the Fed sees the US economy.

The S&P 500 was up 2.5% for the week. Its top-performing sectors were Energy (4.8%) and Industrials (3.5%), while bottom-performing sectors were Communication Services (1.0%) and Utilities (-0.2%). In the fixed-income market, the 10-year Treasury yield was up, ending at 2.7%.

We continue to seek companies that reflect our Change-BasedSM investment approach.

Changed-Based Investment

Robert Half International Inc. (RHI) provides staffing and risk consulting services in North America and around the world. The company places part-time and full-time workers in a variety of fields, including financial services, information technology and marketing. It is based in Menlo Park, California, and was founded in 1948.

As a professional staffing firm, Robert Half stands to benefit from tight labor markets and rising wages. Because of this, we believe Robert Half could experience stronger sales growth and increasing profits in the future. We also believe the market does not realize the company’s cash flow potential, which could enable Robert Half to invest in internal growth opportunities, raise its dividend and accelerate its stock buyback program. These changing dynamics make Robert Half a good addition to Argent’s Large Cap strategy.


 Top 5 Equity Holdings

Large Cap Growth

Alphabet Inc. (Google) 7.5%
Post Holdings, Inc. 5.6%
Mastercard, Inc. 4.7%
First Data Corporation 4.5%
Fortive Corporation 4.1%

Small Cap Core

Fortinet Inc. 3.0%
Merit Medical Systems 2.8%
Wintrust Financial Corp. 2.8%
Planet Fitness, Inc. 2.7%
Amphastar Pharma. 2.7%

Dividend Select

JPMorgan Chase & Co. 5.6%
ConocoPhillips 4.5%
Pfizer Inc. 4.2%
Occidental Petroleum 3.8%
Life Storage, Inc. 3.7%

Mid Cap 

Amedisys, Inc. 3.6%
CDW Corporation 3.4%
Cintas Corporation 3.4%
Xilinx Inc. 3.2%
Ciena Corporation 3.1%

This newsletter presents selected recommendations from portfolio managers of Argent Capital Management LLC, a registered investment advisor. Opinions reflect the portfolio manager’s judgment on the date above and are subject to change. A list of stocks recommended by Argent is available upon request. You should not assume that these recommendations are or will be profitable. In the course of it’s business, Argent’s client accounts may be buying and selling these stocks.