At the beginning of the year, I wrote an article that identified 19 companies that I thought would do well in 2011. It was published here and on Seeking Alpha. The premise that underlined the specific selections is one of consistently. I selected companies that were profitable in each of the prior seven years; each produced free cash each year. I considered balance sheet strength, the ability to grow sales, earnings and free cash.
There was no attempt to diversify across industry groups or differentiate by market capitalization though I did eliminate all companies trading Over-The-Counter and companies with market capitalizations of less than $100 million. I note that the market, as measured by the Dow Jones Total Stock Market Index is up about 3% for the first half of the year whereas my list of companies is up an average of 12.08%.
My list includes several well-known names including Apple, Bed Bath & Beyond, Oracle and Starbucks. Among the smaller companies we have Advanced Auto Parts with a market cap of $4.7 billion; Balchem with a market cap of $1.265 billion; FactSet Research $4.863 billion; NVE Corporation $0.275 billion and USANA Health Sciences with a market cap of $0.533 billion.
USANA had the worst performance during this period having lost nearly 23% of its value. The company develops and manufactures nutritional and personal care products. Advanced Auto sees the second largest decrease in vale by falling 10.66%. AAP is a specialty retailer of automotive aftermarket parts and accessories.
By far, our best performer is Hansin Natural, having risen 60% in this period. Hanson is a holding company whose portfolio companies manufacture and distribute non-carbonated beverages. We also saw strong performance from Balchem, Bed Bath and Beyond, Dollar Tree, priceline and Starbucks.
It has been a tough year to stay ahead of the market. These past several months saw major declines across the board. However, there Is some comfort in knowing that investing in companies that consistently perform well over the years by producing earnings and free cash without excessive debt are resilient and adaptive.
Disclosure: The author is long BBBY.