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Dr. Paul Price
Dr. Paul Price
Articles (513)  | Author's Website |

Kelly Services - A Trader's Dream

July 11, 2014 | About:

It's Better to be Months Too Early than a Day Too Late

Kelly Services is primed for its next move back to $25+.

Some stocks are long term wealth creators that can be purchased and simply left alone. They have their ups and downs but, over time, their price will reflect the fundamentals. Shares like that can form the core of a buy-and-hold portfolio but they often make for unexciting holdings and seldom provide heart-racing moves.

There are other companies of profitable, solidly financed firms that move around readily, making them into ideal trading vehicles for people looking for action and shorter-term outperformance.

Temporary staffing company Kelly Services Class ‘A’ (NASDAQ:KELYA) falls into the latter category. Its balance sheet is net debt-free, its dividend is a well-covered 1.21% and the high-beta shares just carved out a new 52-week low during Thursday’s broad market sell-off.

Kelly’s financial strength removes the major risk that traders face with many volatile issues. Troubled businesses like J.C. Penney (JCP) or Plug Power (PLUG) move around like crazy but are losing tons of money. The next recession could put them out of business leaving shareholders holding empty bags. KELYA provides enough movement over time to allow for great percentage gains without worrying about survival of the franchise.

Buyers at 2010’s low had a chance to double in under a year. KELYA moved up 67% from October 2011 to February 2012. The July 2012 bottom offered a shot at a 68% profit over an eight month period. 2013’s mid-year pullback preceded a better than 59% 12-month rise.

2014 is expected to be a down year for Kelly Services with EPS falling from $1.53 to about $0.90. Is that a reason to avoid the stock now that it’s retreated from above $26? No. Brave souls who bought KELYA during the 2008-09 recession ignored the company’s only losing year in the past two decades. The stock more than tripled from the March 2009 level in less than a year as earnings rebounded.

Management has been investing heavily this year to position Kelly for large gains starting in 2015. Value Line sees a doubling in EPS next year putting KELYA’s forward P/E at just 9.2x based on Thursday’s close of $16.53. That squares quite well with Morningstar’s view.

Standard & Poors is projecting Kelly’s earnings at $0.99 this year and $1.84 in 2015. S&P rates KELYA’s overall quality in the top 17% of all companies they follow. S&P's assigns KELYA a 4-star (out of 5) BUY rating and carries a 12-month target of $27.

Smart traders should be using the recent sharp pullback to build positions now.

During three of the past four, and six of the past eight, calendar years Kelly peaked at absolute prices of $20.30 - $34.00. Price / Book Value is typically 1.1x or above when the shares top out. This year's Dec. 31st book value is expected to be $22.65. That would support a 12-month target price (@ 1.1x BV) north of $25.

History says that is a reasonable goal. KELYA fetched $25.80 during 2013 and changed hands at $26.17, less than five months ago.

People that were happily buying Kelly above $25 have been dumping the stock in the mid-$16s. Their loss can be your gain if you have the foresight to buy when others are selling in despair due to a ‘bad chart’ and poor momentum.

Disclosure: Long KELYA shares, short KELYA puts

About the author:

Dr. Paul Price


Visit Dr. Paul Price's Website

Rating: 3.5/5 (10 votes)



Kfh227 - 3 years ago    Report SPAM

Buy Low, Sell high? So, how does one at the time of a peak or trough know it's a peak or trough? It's not possible. This is a value investing website. I wish this non sense were not allowed.

What works? Buy far below fair value and sell at or above fair value.

So, what is fair value?

Dr. Paul Price
Dr. Paul Price - 3 years ago    Report SPAM

Kelly Services offers a single digit P/E on next year's expected EPS, a large discount to current book value, a secure yield and a solid balance sheet.

What's your beef concerning its 'value' orientation?

Arbuge - 3 years ago    Report SPAM

Why exactly are earnings down so much this year though? And what will change next year to make them different?

Praveen Chawla
Praveen Chawla premium member - 3 years ago

Good article and very timely. I bought 200 shares of Kelly at $15.20 in 2012 and the stock appreciated nicely - (I think S&P rated this as 5 star and a recovery play) however inexplicably it has been dropping. I have been debating if I should add to my position. Paul, can you explain the reason why this so? Like you said its a solid debt free company. I see from Gurufocus the company has reported a big drop in free cash flow.

Quixote1 - 3 years ago    Report SPAM

Boy.......a decent toast.

Book,earnings,cash flow is flat over the years.

But a debt free stuff can´t go belly up...that´s true.

In a bear market ,this stuff without catalist can go south.

IMHO no so high conviction pick.

Praveen Chawla
Praveen Chawla premium member - 1 year ago

I dumped about 80% of KELYA at $19 which I bought at $15 last year. Decent profit but no home run. The problem I have is the company's has huge working capital requirements. This keep ROE and ROA below the cost of capital. Its like Paul said a trading stock. Buy below $15 and sell above $20 with occasional runs to $10 and $25.

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