Three Stocks to Celebrate Presidents Day

In observance of the Presidents Day holiday, I thought it would be fun to examine some stocks named for today’s honorees. In addition to George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, I am including William Henry Harrison who was also born this month.

Of course, the fact that these three companies share the same surname as a president of the United States does not confer success upon their respective businesses. However, it does imply that they feel worthy of being judged by the same standards that are applied to the highest-ranking elected office holders in this country.

Washington Federal

In addition to being a brilliant military tactician, George Washington was a canny businessman. His pre-war career as a surveyor acquainted him with the vagaries of property values, which he put to his advantage after retiring from politics.

Real estate is also central to Washington Federal (NSDQ: WAFD), a bank holding company headquartered in Seattle, Washington that was founded in 1917. It is the second-largest bank headquartered in the Pacific Northwest with 200 branches located in 8 states.

Like most regional banks, Washington Federal relies on mortgage and construction lending for much of its profitability. Last year, commercial real estate loans comprised about half of the bank’s new loan originations. Mortgage and consumer lending accounted for another 20% of all new loans.

However, commercial loans are the bank’s fastest growing category of business over the past eight years. That makes sense, given the very low interest rate environment that encouraged companies to borrow money for growth initiatives.

Over that span, the bank reduced the amount of its non-performing assets from 1% in 2014 to 0.21% last year. Over the past twenty years, the bank’s average NCOs (net loan charge-offs) of 0.26% is well below its peer average of 0.44%.

That makes Washington Federal the type of bank that the “Father of Our Country” would have felt comfortable holding his money. It appears that a lot of investors feel the same way, too. Over the past twelve months, WAFD is up 5% compared to a 7% decline in the S&P 500 Index.

Lincoln Electric

Despite its name, Lincoln Electric (NSDQ: LECO) is not a utility company. Instead, it manufactures welding tools and related products. That’s the type of hands-on business that Abraham Lincoln would appreciate, given his reputation as one of the most accomplished wrestlers of his generation.

It is also the type of business that has held up under the stress of wrestling with rising inflation. During the third quarter of last year, the company increased its adjusted EPS (earnings per share) by 31% on a year-over-year basis.

That accomplishment was enabled by a 21% rise in organic sales combined with a 120 basis point (1.2 percentage points) expansion of its adjusted operating income margin. All three of those metrics were all-time records for the company’s third quarter results.

We will soon know if the company was able to replicate that level of performance during the fourth quarter. Tomorrow, Lincoln Electric is scheduled to release its fiscal 2022 Q4 and full year results prior to the market open.

It appears that Wall Street isn’t waiting around to see those numbers. Through the first six weeks of this year, LECO is up 21% and has gained 40% over the past twelve months.

Harrisons Malayalam Ltd.

There isn’t much to say about William Henry Harrison’s term as POTUS. That’s because he died one month after taking office due to pneumonia he contracted while giving a lengthy inauguration speech on a very cold day. Nevertheless, he merits inclusion on this list due to his February 9 birthdate.

There also aren’t many publicly traded companies with the name of Harrison. In fact, I had to go all the way to India to find Harrisons Malayalam Ltd. (NSE: HARRMALAYA.NS).

Harrisons advertises itself as “India’s largest producer of rubber and South India’s second largest cultivator of tea.” That’s a meaningful statement since India is the second most populous country in the world with approximately 1.4 billion consumers.

Last week, the company released its fiscal 2022 Q3 results (ended December 31) that included an 11% increase in quarterly net revenue from operations compared to the previous year. However, that number is a bit misleading. This year’s “gain” is almost entirely due to a smaller operating loss from its tea segment.

That explains why its share price is down 6% this year and has regressed 21% over the past twelve months. But unlike its presidential namesake, Harrisons should be able to withstand its recent ailments and go on to greater heights.

Despite how well two of these three companies have performed during the past year, I don’t recommend making investments based on a company’s name. Instead, I advise tapping into megatrends with unstoppable momentum.

Editor’s Note: My colleague Jim Pearce, chief investment strategist of our flagship publication Personal Finance, mentioned the power of megatrends. Which brings me to marijuana.

Yup, you read right…the marijuana industry. As it becomes increasingly legal, pot has transitioned from a rebellious act to a mainstream industry.

Demand for weed is exploding around the world, but a lot of pot stocks will never turn a profit, leaving their shareholders holding the, um, bag.

However, Jim has found three pot plays that stand to profit no matter which companies end up being the winners of the marijuana boom because they provide a service all of them must have.

For details about Jim’s cannabis-related picks, click here.