>An LA presenter likes RLI’s (NYSE: RLI, $52.07) position in niche insurance markets. The company has just announced an acquisition of Contractors Bonding Insurance Company, which specializes in surety bonds. This deal will expand RLI’s reach in the surety segment/contractors’ niche. It is expected to be accretive in the first year. RLI continues to return excess capital to shareholders and has announced a special $7 dividend to be paid on 12/29.

>An LA presenter continues to recommend Accelrys (NASDAQ: ACCL, $8.70). The stock is up 20% since it was presented back in October, but the presenter emphasizes that the company is still early in its multi-year growth phase. ACCL finalized its merger with Symyx in July and is now in a good position to become one of the leaders in the scientific informatics software space. Management has raised its estimates for synergies from the deal to the top-end of the previously provided range. The presenter stresses a substantial cross-sell upside to result from product integration.

>Airlines should have a positive 2011, based on what we’re hearing. Major domestic carriers are substantially stronger financially and will continue to benefit from the cost and capacity streamlining. As the economic recovery takes hold, they should continue to see improving yields and a pickup in ancillary revenues. Gains could be tempered by unexpected economic developments and volatility in fuel prices.

>Smurfit-Stone: Still a Buy

December 7, 2010

>A NY presenter continues to recommend Smurfit-Stone Container (NYSE: SSCC, $24.71) as a Buy. He notes that the company’s October box numbers were good. While OCC prices have risen a bit in the recent weeks, increasing COGS for Q4, the presenter still believes that the Street estimates are too low for Q4 and 2011. He targets $34 in 12 months, which is based on 7x his 2011 EBITDAP-CAPEX projection of $700 mm, less $1bn of tax-adjusted pension, less $750 million in net debt, plus $300 mm in the present value of SSCC’s NOLs, and using 100 million fully diluted shares.

>Tatum/Roulston Report

December 2, 2010

>Serious sports fans know when watching their favorite teams when momentum changes good or bad. Silence is the result of the home team losing momentum while noise levels rise as momentum grows. In this month’s Tatum survey the crowd is sensing a home team comeback. Across the board(with the exception of hiring outlook) executives are recognizing a more positive environment. Backlog, capital expenditures and general business conditions spiked over last month. One can’t help but ask “what is different?” Political risk just changed.

Regulatory environment, health care and taxes (the big three) are all suddenly viewed in a new light due to the election. Has anything actually changed? Not at all, its all perception. After two years of seemingly battling big brother the perception is maybe things can change. Now can we see leadership. Can we deal with the anti-business attitude and the deficit? Can we move towards growth from regulatory stagnation?

We believe we are at a crossroads. If Washington can remove itself from the spotlight and companies can feel unencumbered to use some of the balance sheet leverage expanded over the last 18 months it could change employment and growth in measurable ways. Unlike the government now restricted by its own deficits companies have not been in such positive condition in quite some time. Consumers with higher savings rates and growing real disposable income over the last year than in the previous five could be a bonus as well.

There are still issues of government debt, rogue nations and uncertainty in how politicians will respond to an historical election message. But momentum this month has shifted. A lot of executives are feeling much better than anytime in the last 12 months. This month was a reflection of the momentum shift. Lets hope Washington is listening because the crowd is ready.

Tatum LLC is a nationwide firm specializing in the providing financial and information technology services and executive fulfillment to companies across the country. This joint effort with Tatum is a unique partnership that will provide a differentiated view of business trends – The Tatum/ Roulston Report.

To read the full survey click here.

>A NY presenter still likes IBM at this level (NYSE: IBM, $144.41). By 2015, the company is projected to earn $20 per share, with much of the gain coming as a result of generating $100 billion of FCF over the next 5 years and using $50 billion to buy back stock, reducing the float by 1/3 in the process.