Investors Alliance Brings Out A Forward Look, The Year Ahead - Research Report
Mar 20, 2013 (Close-Up Media via COMTEX) --
Investors Alliance announced new research reports highlighting Acacia Research Corp., Apollo Group, Strayer Education, Diamond Foods and ConAgra Foods.
According to a release, Acacia's subsidiaries partner with inventors and patent owners, license the patents to corporate users, and later share the revenue. It currently owns 250 patent portfolios covering a variety of industries including the tech industry. One of its subsidiaries recently expanded its reach to the energy sector by obtaining a portfolio that comprises 4 US and 27 foreign patents related to polymer based drilling fluids. Because energy sector expects significant growth in the coming years, expanding its portfolio to this arena is a wise move for Acacia. It also solidified its position in technology licensing by acquiring patents for digital subscriber line (DSL) modems and voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) phones.
The Apollo Group Inc. is trying to offset sharp enrollment declines and regulatory scrutiny by offering a new executive-education course on solutions led by professionals from the Harvard Business School. The class is aimed towards companies rather than individual students, and is intended to become a reputational shift for the school-instead of an institution that solely provides higher education, the school will now have a share in the corporate training industry. This will provide another source of income for the company in lieu of enrollment declines.
Strayer Education Inc. is expanding even after suspending its dividend going forward. It plans to open a new campus in Stafford, its 9th campus in Texas. Analysts and investors are somewhat positive on the company's geographic expansion strategy of opening new campuses each year, though they are still wary of the strict regulatory environment that's threatening the accreditation of for-profit educators. Despite the difficult outlook for the for-profit education sector, initiatives are being taken in order to help students complete their higher education in for-profit institutions. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) recently announced that Pell Grants, the program that allows low-income students to pay for their education, will be fully funded at their maximum award level for both the current fiscal year (FY 2013) and the next fiscal year (FY 2014) without the need for increased funding. Greater financial aid is a great benefit for for-profit companies since more students will be able afford their services. This will allow enrollment rates to go higher, generating revenue for for-profit education companies. If the industry wants to swing to a full recovery, however, they must invest more on the quality of the education they provide to ensure the employability of their graduates and to finally enable them to pay student loans.
Diamond Foods Inc. rose 13 percent last Monday after investment firm BlackRock disclosed a stake of almost 8 percent in the company. This move shows that the investment firm believes that Diamond Foods is geared to bounce back after encountering several difficulties in the last couple of years. These problems include losing a bid for Pringles, restating its financial results due to an accounting mishap, and losing the trust of its walnut suppliers. Despite a tainted background, a recovery could now be in the works for Diamond Foods. In fact, the company has taken a few steps in order to make a rebound. Some of these steps include rewriting its contracts with its walnut growers that feature shorter terms and more accelerated payment schedules. Furthermore, it added William L. Tos, a walnut grower and former member of the Board of Walnut Growers to Diamond Foods' Board of Directors. It also replaced its CEO and CFO. New CEO Brian Driscoll has promised to cut costs and invest in the company's brands. With a product portfolio that includes Kettle Chips, Emerald snack nuts, Pop Secret popcorn and Diamond of California nuts, some believe that it may return to profitability once it puts its accounting troubles behind. With Diamond Foods trying to turn itself around, a number of institutional investors have taken interest in the company besides BlackRock. Some of them include Litespeed Management, which increased its stake by 31 percent in the third quarter of 2012. It now owns a total of 8 percent, making it Diamond Foods' institutional shareholder.
ConAgra Foods has announced its acquisition of Ralcorp Holdings, Inc. With that, ConAgra is now a brand packaged food business in North America, with approximately $4.5 billion in combined annual private brand sales. This acquisition is said to have solidified ConAgra's market leading position in both branded and private brand food sectors.
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