Stock pickers like Apria, Lincare

Thursday, January 31, 2002

YARMOUTH, Maine - Apria Healthcare and Lincare's stocks have gathered kudos from investment professionals over the past year.

With Lincare as one of its favorite holdings, the Wasatch Core Growth Fund appreciated 24% in 2001, despite holding lots of growth stocks in what was a value-stock environment. Core Growth has returned an average of 26% annually over the past three years by focusing on companies like Lincare that produce steady 15% to 25% earnings growth and whose stocks still seem modestly valued.

Another successful fund, Boston Partners Small Cap Value II Fund, rose 48% last year, and fund manager David Dabora called Apria one of his favorite stocks. Apria sells at 15 times earnings, generates a lot of cash flow and has good internal growth opportunities, he told Investors Business Daily early last month.

"We think they have an opportunity to grow via acquisitions," Dabora told IBD. "They have been buying companies at fairly attractive prices. We see 15%-20% earnings growth and meeting or beating expectations, so that is a stock that we like." HME