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Three top stock picks from JC Clark’s Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is Chief Executive Officer & Portfolio Manager at JC Clark Investments Ltd. His focus is North American large caps and long and short strategies.

Top Picks:

Maple Leaf Foods

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Maple Leaf Foods is a packaged meats and branded protein products company. Following recent announcement of the sale of its 90-per-cent stake in Canada Bread (CBY), Maple Leaf will have an extremely strong balance sheet with close to $6/sh. in net cash. Valuation appears highly depressed, significant capital investments should lead to material margin improvement over next few years

Service Corp. Int'l

This is the largest funeral home/cemetery operator in North America. Attractive industry characteristics: demographics, high barriers to entry, pricing power, strong free cash flow generation. SCI's recent acquisition of competitor Stewart Enterprises should create ample opportunities for synergies, resulting in EBITDA and FCF growth.

Brookfield Asset Management

Brookfield is an asset management business focused on real estate, power, infrastructure. Growing third party capital base is increasing asset management fee stream. The company has a 2-per-cent dividend yield and trades at discount to NAV.

Past Picks: JANUARY 28, 2013

Corus Entertainment

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Then: $25.42; Now: $25.25; Total return: +3.56%

Martinrea International

Then: $8.90; Now: $9.51; Total return: +7.85%

ShawCor Ltd.

Then: $39.79; Now: $43.04; Total return: +12.02%

Total Return Average: +7.81%

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Market outlook:

While we suspect there may be further volatility ahead, we continue to hold the view that the U.S. economic recovery is gradually gaining momentum. Lower unemployment, strong corporate profits, and a Federal Reserve that we believe will continue to be highly accommodative, should combine to create a favourable environment for U.S. equities. With valuations no longer at a discount and closer to long-term historical averages, we believe earnings growth (rather than multiple expansions) will need to propel equities in the year ahead. Record levels of cash on corporate balance sheets and increasing confidence could also spur a new round of corporate mergers and acquisitions.

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