When you spend a whole day interviewing and listening to more than a dozen people, as I did yesterday at TheDeal's Corporate Governance conference, you can come back with a gazillion takeaways. I put it like that because I don't want to give short shrift to anyone, but it's important here to limit my views to what can make us money, as opposed to what could make the system more fair for all shareholders.
So here goes.
First, we have to consider owning the stock of Qualcomm (QCOM) After speaking with CEO Steve Mollenkopf for the second time in 24 hours -- but after Commerce Secretary Ross said there will be a deal between the U.S. and ZTE -- I think that Qualcomm will be able to buy NXP Semi (NXPI) . Remember the Chinese are holding up that deal ostensibly, it seems, because we have withheld parts to the Chinese cellphone maker and until that changes, the regulators won't bless a Qualcomm-NXPI tie-up.
A combination of the NXP deal getting done which would diversify Qualcomm from such a heavy dependency on cellphones, and the potential for a settlement with Apple (AAPL) over unpaid bills, would be huge for the stock and set it on a path to $80 from the $60 perch where it currently sits.
Second I got a good feel for Procter & Gamble (PG) after Nelson Peltz, who recently won a proxy fight to get on the board of the Cincy colossus, said the company is considering his plan to give each global business unit accountability that is sorely lacking today. That might help increase organic growth which is what could ignite the stock.
It was tough to read what Peltz thought about GE (GE) other than the fact that everything seems to be on the table. Maybe a more important sign: it didn't cut the dividend this morning.
Both Steve Holmes, the former CEO of Wyndham (WYND) who is now chairman of both Wyndham Hotels and Resorts (WH) , the largest hotel franchiser, and Wyndham Destinations, the timeshare portion of the broken up enterprise, and Sean Connolly, the CEO of Conagra (CAG) , gave me a positive feeling about all of their businesses. I think that they are all cheap and we recently had both Wyndhams on this week and consider them undervalued as it relates to their peers.
Finally, while it has run a great deal, the stock of Macy's (M) remains a buy, especially on a pullback because of all the changes Jeff Gennette has brought about at the venerable chain. He talked about the need to be a technologist -- he brought in some people from eBay -- a real estate maven and a banker buying back debt, not stock, to fix the balance sheet. Most important, he stressed the role of big data to figure out how to assess what the customers really want. We've seen some strong performance among all retailers of late and I think that Jeff's thoughts made it clear that the survivors are the ones who use tech to fend off Amazon (AMZN) and bring customers back who loved Macy's, the concept, but didn't like the way it executed. Remarkable humility from a CEOwho has engineered one of the greatest turnarounds of our generation.