Lombardi: Stock Market Commentary & Forecasts, Financial & Economic Analysis Since 1986

Dividends

A dividend is the payment that a company distributes to its shareholders as a percent of earnings. Management can decide whether to pay a dividend, how much it is, and the frequency of payments. Dividends are often distributed quarterly and are quoted as the amount of dividend per share. Companies that are growing fast tend not to issue a dividend, as they pour money back into the business.

Mature Company Serving Up Grand Slam Results

By for Profit Confidential

Mature Company Serves Up Grand Slam ResultsThere’s a lot the stock market has to deal with these days, but that’s par for the course. Uncertainty, risk, and fear are basic components of equities these days. But good businesses are good businesses and NIKE, Inc. (NKE) hit a grand slam with its latest quarterly earnings.

This company’s been doing well for a number of quarters and this is a mature brand we’re talking about, not a fast-growing startup.

The momentum began before the World Cup, culminated in its previous quarter, and now, the company just produced another top-notch batch of financial results. The stock shot nine points higher on the news to a new all-time record-high.

According to NIKE, its first fiscal quarter of 2015 (ended August 31, 2014) saw total sales grow 15% to $8.0 billion. The company also owns the “Converse” label and that division’s sales grew 16% in the most recent quarter to $575 million.

NIKE has a good amount of cash on its books and the company spent $819 million buying back its own shares in its first quarter. Since September of 2012, the company has spent approximately $4.2 billion buying back its own stock at an average cost of $67.74 a share, which, as it turns out, has been a very good investment (for the company and shareholders alike). About $3.8 billion over the next two years is left in the share repurchase authorization.

As for its bottom line, NIKE’s earnings grew 23% to $962 million, or 27% on diluted earnings per share to $1.09.

One of the things that NIKE does is it comments on future orders. According to the … Read More

Best Stocks Going Into 2015

By for Profit Confidential

Stocks Going Into 2015A lot of good companies with solid investment prospects going into 2015 are pushing new highs in an otherwise trendless stock market before the end of another reporting period.

Market leaders have kept their momentum the last few years and are likely to keep doing so as earnings reliability and dividends keep investors buying.

Microsoft Corporation (MSFT) continues to tick higher in this market. The position was $35.00 a share at the beginning of the year and is now just short of $50.00.

What many of these established blue chips offer are good balance sheets, reasonable financial growth, and good prospects for rising dividends going forward. A stock like Microsoft is a simple, large-cap solution that continues to work in a slow-growth environment.

There’s no need for an equity market portfolio to be complicated at this stage of the business cycle. Dividend income is key, because that’s what institutional investors are buying.

And the good news with blue chip leadership is that it comes with less investment risk. The business cycle is not yet mature enough to support itself and therefore the investing marketplace remains somewhat risk averse.

Or at the very least, many institutional portfolios comprise dividend-paying blue chips, peppered with the stock market’s more aggressive names, like Facebook, Inc. (FB) and Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. (CMG). (See “Where You Can Find Value in Stocks Right Now.”)

This is a marketplace where you don’t need to be in the riskiest sectors in order to capture most of the stock market’s potential capital gains. Dividend reinvestment remains an excellent way in which to build wealth in a low … Read More

Why the Old School Dow Theory Still Applies

By for Profit Confidential

The Most Important Stocks to FollowGetting a sense of where stocks are going to go in the year ahead is always difficult with the major indices at their all-time highs.

The fundamental backdrop is still very favorable for equities. While the Federal Reserve has put off raising interest rates for the near future, the cost of capital, especially for corporations, remains extremely low. And corporate balance sheets remain in excellent condition with strong cash positions and good prospects for rising dividends going forward.

The stock market recovered extremely well from the financial crisis and subsequent crash in 2008/2009. But it wasn’t until early 2013 that I saw the beginning of a new cycle for stocks, or a bull market as it were.

Until then, I viewed the market’s performance purely as a recovery period from the previous cycle, which was the technology bubble.

Many of the technology stocks have only now recovered to their previous highs set in 1999 and 2000. The recovery cycle took a long time to play out and the catalyst for its breakout was, not surprisingly, the Federal Reserve.

Stocks can move significantly higher in a rising interest rate environment, but only from a low base, which is what we have now. And within the context of a new market cycle or bull market, the economy can experience a full-blown recession and stocks can experience meaningful corrections.

The two most important catalysts for the equity market near-term are what corporations actually report about their businesses and the Federal Reserve’s actions.

The surprising weakness in oil prices should be evident in corporate financial results (especially in the fourth quarter). Old economy industries … Read More

My All-Around Favorite “Growth” Company

By for Profit Confidential

All-Around Favorite “Growth” CompanyTomorrow, Oracle Corporation (ORCL) reports its numbers for its first fiscal quarter of 2015. What the company has to say about its business conditions is material to the equity market.

Oracle is a benchmark technology stock that’s not expensively priced. The company offers dividends; its current yield is approximately 1.2%, which may not be enough for some investors looking for a large-cap, mature technology stock.

Oracle’s share price tends to experience waves of buying enthusiasm. If the company just slightly beats consensus, there will be solid buying in the stock.

But being a mature business, this company isn’t a fast grower. What it offers investors is a benchmark in enterprise information technology (IT) demand. A quick read of the company’s SEC form 10-Q can be very informative regarding enterprise customers and their spending.

Oracle’s share price has been steadily climbing back and it’s almost at its all-time record-high set during the technology bubble of 2000. It’s been a great comeback from the irrational exuberance of those days. The company’s long-term chart is featured below:

Oracle Corporation Chart

Chart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com

Dollar for dollar, however, I still prefer Microsoft Corporation (MSFT) for those investors looking for a blue chip technology stock.

The company pays more in dividends, its valuation is about the same as Oracle’s, and it has a multifaceted business strategy that includes both consumer and enterprise customers.

Furthermore, I think Microsoft is more likely to deliver better capital gains over Oracle in the near- to medium-term.

This doesn’t mean that Oracle can’t accelerate its business growth going forward. All the company has to do is get the next business cycle in … Read More

Large-Cap Tech Doubling in Price and Headed Higher

By for Profit Confidential

Dependable Large-Cap Tech Stock’s Success an Untold Story This YearLarge-cap technology stocks, particularly old-school names, have really been on the rise, though they remain an untold story this year.

Microsoft Corporation (MSFT) is on a major upward price trend and is getting close to its all-time record-high set during the technology bubble of 1999.

The company’s stock market performance has been tremendous as of late, rising from around $27.00 a share at the beginning of 2013 to its current level of approximately $47.00, its 52-week high. Its share price has increased by more than $10.00 this year alone. (See “Eight Stocks to Beat the Street.”) And that’s with a current dividend yield of 2.6% and a trailing price-to-earnings ratio of just less than 15.

I think Microsoft is going to keep on ticking higher right into 2015 based on its sales and earnings growth momentum combined with a solid interest on the part of institutional investors seeking earnings predictability in a slow-growth environment.

Microsoft would be a solid investment-grade pick in this market for those investors considering new positions and looking for income.

Even without the company’s dividends, it should experience solid sales and earnings growth going into its next fiscal year. And in an environment where institutional investors are bidding old-school names that are offering earnings reliability, $50.00 a share shouldn’t be too difficult for Microsoft to achieve by year-end.

Share price momentum in previous technology growth stocks like Microsoft and Intel is indicative of a bull market, but one that’s still risk-averse.

Price momentum in these stocks is healthy for the broader market because large-cap tech companies like Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN) and Facebook, Inc. (FB) … Read More

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