Chesapeake Energy (CHK) was the largest contributor in 2013, up 59%. Together with new CEO Doug Lawler, the board that we helped seat in 2012 is instilling financial and operating discipline into the company. Over the last 19 months, the company reduced SG&A, sold a number of non- core assets, decreased capex, and committed to living within its cash flow in 2014. The company is focusing on its strong assets in the Eagle Ford, Marcellus, and Utica plays in order to grow production profitably. Even after the stock's gains, Chesapeake's oil and gas reserves sell for a discount to our appraisal. That appraisal would grow significantly in the long-term bull case for low cost natural gas replacing coal for power generation, fostering manufacturing renewal in the U.S., displacing some oil as a transportation fuel, and becoming a major export.
FedEx (FDX) was a leading performer for the fourth quarter and the year, gaining 26% and 57%, respectively. Major cost initiatives gained traction as the company's Express unit grew margins by 1.4% in its most recent quarter. The Ground unit delivered strong growth with volume increases from e-commerce and higher pricing. FedEx repurchased 7.2 million shares, a 10% annualized pace. The stock's increase in the fourth quarter followed news that the company would begin a new 32 million share repurchase program. Management's operating success and capital allocation combined to build the company's worth through the year. Continue Reading »