Bill Frels

Last Update: 05-15-2015

Number of Stocks: 187
Number of New Stocks: 4

Total Value: $7,270 Mil
Q/Q Turnover: 3%

Countries: USA
Details: Top Buys | Top Sales | Top Holdings  Embed:

Bill Frels Watch

  • Mairs & Power Growth Fund Comments on Target

    On the other hand, last year the market thought the retail giant Target (TGT) could do nothing right while this year it can do nothing wrong (we disagree with both views). With all of its sales in the U.S., the company sources much of its merchandise overseas so the strong dollar boosts its buying power and margins. In addition, the company’s customers have benefited from lower gasoline prices. As a result, Target’s stock is hitting all-time highs. We view the stock as generously valued currently and have been using it as a source of funds to add to our positions elsewhere.

    From Bill Frels (Trades, Portfolio)’ Mairs & Power Growth Fund Q1 2015 Commentary.  


  • Mairs & Power Growth Fund Comments on Graco Inc

    With 53% of its sales overseas and all of its costs in dollars, at year end Graco (GGG) told investors the stronger dollar will present a headwind in its ability to grow earnings in 2015. We like the company. It holds a leading market position as an industrial supplier of pumps and coating equipment. It has an experienced and focused management team with a clear, positive and executable strategy. We view the stock as cheap so we are using the current weakness to add to our position.

    From Bill Frels (Trades, Portfolio)’ Mairs & Power Growth Fund Q1 2015 Commentary.  


  • Mairs & Power Growth Fund Q1 2015 Commentary

    While we’ve only finished one quarter, 2015 is shaping up to be the year of the dollar, which has risen more rapidly against major foreign currencies than any time in the last 40 years. The dollar’s rapid rise and enduring strength have created significant changes in the outlook for earnings and the economy. This dynamic particularly hurts U.S. companies that do most or all of their manufacturing domestically and have a strong component of overseas sales. These companies, reporting their earnings in dollars, cannot fully offset weaker local currencies with pricing moves. As a result, many companies have reduced their outlook for earnings in 2015. Market expectations have adjusted accordingly, with earnings growth expected at just over 1% for 2015 with year-over-year declines in the first two quarters. Slow growth, along with valuations near a ten-year high, increase the likelihood of a stock market correction.


    The drop in energy and commodity prices worldwide continues to present a headwind for many companies, particularly in sectors such as industrial manufacturing, mining and agriculture. In addition, weather related factors and a labor shutdown of ports along the west coast combined to hold the first quarter back somewhat, giving a slow start to the year. We saw an illustration of this when industrial supplier Fastenal (held in the Mairs & Power Growth Fund) reported slowing sales beginning in January. Because of its broad exposure across multiple sectors, Fastenal is viewed as a “canary in the coal mine” in terms of the pace of the industrial economy.

      


  • Mairs & Power Growth Fund Comments on Stratasys

    We are always on the lookout for good companies at compelling values. Sometimes that means we return to names we have held in the past. Stratasys (SSYS) is one such stock which was newly added to the Growth Fund in the quarter. The company is a market leader in the rapidly growing 3D printing/ additive manufacturing space, generating over 30% organic top-line growth annually and holding a dominant position at the high end of the market. We believe the company is just scratching the surface on a very large opportunity going forward.


    The stock once traded as high as 15 times its trailing twelve months revenue as investor euphoria followed a spate of positive news reports, allowing us to take profits in a good company but an overvalued stock. It has now dropped back below 4 times its trailing revenue, a more reasonable multiple. The retrenchment was due to two main factors. Hewlett Packard has said it intends to move into the 3D printing space, but we believe competitive concerns are overblown given Stratasys’s strong market position and momentum. In addition, the market reacted negatively to the company’s increased spending plans to add technical sales people which strengthens its vertical market presence and builds barriers to competition. While near term profits will be impacted, we see the company’s durable competitive advantage continuing to improve, offering a compelling investment in the space.

      


  • Mairs & Power Small Cap Fund Comments on Actuant

    In the first quarter the Fund added two new stocks to the portfolio, Actuant and Stratasys. Actuant (ATU) is a Milwaukee-based manufacturer of high end tools with a strong competitive position in tools such as hydraulic lifts and presses. Its end markets include the energy and agricultural sectors, so the company’s revenues have been under pressure driven by lower oil and commodity food prices in these cyclical businesses. As the stock price has pulled back significantly, it has created a very compelling investment opportunity due to the company’s strong cash flow generation.

    From Bill Frels (Trades, Portfolio)’ Mairs & Power Small Cap Fund Q1 2015 Commentary.  


  • Mairs & Power Small Cap Fund Comments on Gentherm

    The largest contributor to performance in the first quarter was Gentherm (THRM) which reported solid year-end results and provided a positive outlook for its core market; heating and cooling technology for automobile seats. Gentherm has been a consistent performer over the past few years as its products have become more of a standard offering as opposed to an upgrade and are now found on many mid-priced models as well as the high end segment. We continue to like Gentherm as the company broadens not only its heated/cooled products for the auto industry, but its pipeline for new products focused on other industries continues to advance and looks promising as well.

    From Bill Frels (Trades, Portfolio)’ Mairs & Power Small Cap Fund Q1 2015 Commentary.  


  • Mairs & Power Small Cap Fund Comments on Vasco Data Security

    Vasco Data Security (VDSI) has also been a strong performer for the Fund over the longer term, but in the first quarter was down. We believe the pullback was primarily due to profit taking following the stock’s phenomenal 2014 performance. While the U.S. financial industry has been slow to adopt anything other than rudimentary two-factor authentication when consumers log in to their bank and brokerage accounts (e.g. “What is your mother’s maiden name?”), multi-level authentication is widely utilized in other parts of the world where Vasco holds a leading share. Vasco’s security offering includes number code generators deployed with or without a card reader or PIN key pad. In addition, the company is now offering a system that uses a built-in camera and Quick Response (QR) codes generated on a consumer’s computer, tablet, or phone screen to increase security and simplify manual keypad entry. Longer term we remain very excited about the company’s position in online ID and transaction verification.

    From Bill Frels (Trades, Portfolio)’ Mairs & Power Small Cap Fund Q1 2015 Commentary.  


  • Mairs & Power Small Cap Fund Comments on Cray Inc

    We’ve discussed Cray (CRAY) in the past as having a very attractive opportunity in high performance computing as the company bolsters its offering just as its largest competitor, IBM, changes course. As the sales cycle is typically quite long for these high end systems, we expect orders to pick up in the second half of this year and into 2016 as IBM turns its Intel-based super computer business over to Lenovo. We are also watching Cray’s foray into big data with a couple of new products focused on that rapidly growing space. While the company’s fourth quarter financial release and conference call indicated only modest near term traction with both of these opportunities, longer term we believe these growth avenues for Cray remain intact.


    From Bill Frels (Trades, Portfolio)’ Mairs & Power Small Cap Fund Q1 2015 Commentary.

      


  • Mairs & Power Small Cap Fund Q1 2015 Commentary

    While we’ve only finished one quarter, 2015 is shaping up to be the year of the dollar, which has risen more rapidly against major foreign currencies than any time in the last 40 years. The dollar’s rapid rise and enduring strength have created significant changes in the outlook for earnings and the economy. This dynamic particularly hurts U.S. companies that do most or all of their manufacturing domestically and have a strong component of overseas sales. These companies, reporting their earnings in dollars, cannot fully offset weaker local currencies with pricing moves. As a result, many companies have reduced their outlook for earnings in 2015. Market expectations have adjusted accordingly, with earnings growth expected at just over 1% for 2015 with year-over-year declines in the first two quarters. Slow growth, along with valuations near a ten-year high, increase the likelihood of a stock market correction.


    The drop in energy and commodity prices worldwide continues to present a headwind for many companies, particularly in sectors such as industrial manufacturing, mining and agriculture. In addition, weather related factors and a labor shutdown of ports along the west coast combined to hold the first quarter back somewhat, giving a slow start to the year. We saw an illustration of this when industrial supplier Fastenal (held in the Mairs & Power Growth Fund) reported slowing sales beginning in January. Because of its broad exposure across multiple sectors, Fastenal is viewed as a “canary in the coal mine” in terms of the pace of the industrial economy.

      


  • Bill Frels' Stocks Trading At Low P/E

    Mairs & Power is a small firm whose strength and success has resulted from applying a conservative growth investment approach consistently for over 70 years. Both the Growth and Balanced Funds are built on a foundation of selected quality growth stocks purchased at what management considers to be reasonable valuation levels. When these securities are purchased, the intention is to hold these issues for relatively long periods of time to maximize tax-efficiency and allow the power of compounding to build wealth for its shareholders. However, sales are made on occasion in response to such factors as changing fundamentals, investment strategy shifts, and excessive valuation.


    Bill Frels (Trades, Portfolio) is the portfolio manager at Mairs & Power, the investment advisory firm where he started in 1992. Frels retired at the end of 2014, but remained as the chairman of the investment committee and a shareholder.

      


  • Mairs & Power Growth Fund Q4 2014 Commentary

    Investors could be forgiven if they looked back on 2014 as a year of mixed signals. Concerns about slowing growth in China, a possible recession across Europe and increasing tensions with Russia over their aggressive moves against Ukraine all contributed to market uncertainty. On the other hand, earnings continued to exceed expectations and the rapid decline in energy prices put a tailwind behind the U.S. economy, rewarding investors with the sixth year in a row of positive returns and the longest run since the bull market of the 1990s.


    With crude oil down more than 40 percent for 2014 (and continuing to fall in the first weeks of the New Year), we believe this will be the biggest driver of the U.S. markets and economy over the next several quarters. GDP growth in Q3 was revised upward to a healthy five percent annual rate, even before the stimulus of lower gas prices had fully kicked in, revealing continued momentum to the domestic economy as we enter 2015.

      


  • Mairs & Power Small Cap Fund Comments on Donaldson

    Minneapolis-based Donaldson (DCI) is a long time Mairs and Power holding, familiar to the firm but new to the Small Cap Fund. The manufacturer of filtration systems and replacement parts in a variety of industries was affected by recent weakness in off-highway vehicle (and Donaldson filters) sales creating an attractive opportunity for the Small Cap Fund to initiate a position in the stock.


    From Mairs & Power Small Cap Fund Q4 2014 Commentary.

      


  • Mairs & Power Small Cap Fund Comments on Oasis Petroleum

    Oasis Petroleum (OAS) (oil exploration and production) was the worst performing stock for the year. While the company was able to earn phenomenal returns on wells drilled in North Dakota’s Bakken at $100+/barrel oil prices, the economics significantly degrade when oil is less than $50 a barrel.


    From Mairs & Power Small Cap Fund Q4 2014 Commentary.

      


  • Mairs & Power Small Cap Fund Comments on Gentherm

    Gentherm (THRM) (heating and cooling technology primarily utilized in automobile seats) was also a top performer for the year, though the stock was among the lowest performers in the fourth quarter as some of its business is tied to energy efficiency. Longer term, the company still appears well positioned regardless of what happens with oil prices.


    From Mairs & Power Small Cap Fund Q4 2014 Commentary.

      


  • Mairs & Power Small Cap Fund Comments on Vasco Data Security

    Vasco Data Security (VDSI) (password authentication hardware and software) led Fund performance for both the quarter and the year. While the company derives most of its revenue outside the U.S., headlines of data breaches at major U.S. corporations are driving consumer demand for better protection of their private information, and Vasco’s data security products are helping the company penetrate the U.S. market.


    From Mairs & Power Small Cap Fund Q4 2014 Commentary.

      


  • Mairs & Power Small Cap Fund Q4 2014 Commentary

    Investors could be forgiven if they looked back on 2014 as a year of mixed signals. Concerns about slowing growth in China, a possible recession across Europe and increasing tensions with Russia over their aggressive moves against Ukraine all contributed to market uncertainty. On the other hand, earnings continued to exceed expectations and the rapid decline in energy prices put a tailwind behind the U.S. economy, rewarding investors with the sixth year in a row of positive returns and the longest run since the bull market of the 1990s.


    With crude oil down more than 40 percent for 2014 (and continuing to fall in the first weeks of the New Year), we believe this will be the biggest driver of the U.S. markets and economy over the next several quarters. GDP growth in Q3 was revised upward to a healthy five percent annual rate, even before the stimulus of lower gas prices had fully kicked in, revealing continued momentum to the domestic economy as we enter 2015.

      


  • Mairs & Power Balanced Fund Q4 2014 Commentary

    Investors could be forgiven if they looked back on 2014 as a year of mixed signals. Concerns about slowing growth in China, a possible recession across Europe and increasing tensions with Russia over their aggressive moves against Ukraine all contributed to market uncertainty. On the other hand, earnings continued to exceed expectations and the rapid decline in energy prices put a tailwind behind the U.S. economy, rewarding investors with the sixth year in a row of positive returns and the longest run since the bull market of the 1990s.


    With crude oil down more than 40 percent for 2014 (and continuing to fall in the first weeks of the New Year), we believe this will be the biggest driver of the U.S. markets and economy over the next several quarters. GDP growth in Q3 was revised upward to a healthy five percent annual rate, even before the stimulus of lower gas prices had fully kicked in, revealing continued momentum to the domestic economy as we enter 2015.

      


  • Want to Go in Kimberly-Clark Corporation?

    In this article, let's take a look at Kimberly-Clark Corporation (KMB), a $39.44 billion market cap company, which is best known for brands such as Kleenex, Scott, Huggies and Kotex.


    Extensive Reach

      


  • Costco Is Better Than Competitors

    In this article, let's take a look at Costco Wholesale Corporation (COST), a $65.27 billion market cap company, which operates about 650 membership warehouses in the U.S., and other countries such as Puerto Rico, Canada, the U.K., Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Mexico and Australia.


    Business Model

      


  • Apogee Enterprises Practices an Old Recipe

    In this article, let's take a look at Apogee Enterprises, Inc. (APOG), a $1.25 billion market cap company, which designs and develops glass products, services, and systems. It operates in two segments, Architectural Products and Services, and Large-Scale Optical Technologies.


    Rewarding Shareholders over Time

      


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