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

Earnings

Earnings are also known as profits. At the most basic level, a company’s earnings consist of what’s left over after all costs are taken out from the revenue generated. Earnings are also the basis for corporate taxes. Many corporations report EBITDA, or earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization. The most important thing to watch for when researching a company is where earnings are forecasted to move. Investors want to see that the future expectations are for the earnings to grow over time.

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

My Top Value Play in Bakken Oil

By for Profit Confidential

Top Value Play in Bakken OilThe weakness in oil prices was pretty sudden and has changed the financial dynamics for many producers. Typically, weaker oil prices are slow to translate into lower prices at the pumps.

Domestic junior oil stocks have been hot commodities until recently. Many of the market’s best growth stocks in this sector continue to be expensively priced and finding value has been a difficult endeavor.

One company we’ve considered before in these pages is Northern Oil and Gas, Inc. (NOG). (See “My Favorite Bakken Oil Play.”) This outfit is based in Minnesota and operates in North Dakota and Montana. The stock is not expensively priced, and the company is back online with solid sequential growth in production.

Northern has experienced infrastructure problems and weather-related issues that have hampered well completions, but the company’s latest quarter was a big success and full-year 2014 production guidance was upgraded to between 20% and 25% growth over 2013, compared to previous guidance of 15%.

According to Northern, its 2014 second-quarter production grew 17% sequentially and 41% year-over-year to 1.4 million barrels of oil equivalent (boe), averaging 15,369 boe per day.

The company’s total oil and gas sales in the second quarter of 2014 increased dramatically to $121 million, compared to $80.0 million in the second quarter of 2013.

But management incurred a significant loss on the mark-to-market of a derivative instrument and on the settlement of a derivative instrument, which resulted in actual second-quarter revenues being knocked down to $74.6 million, compared to $96.0 million in the second quarter of 2013.

As a result of the derivative loss (perhaps the reason why the … 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

Why I’m More Excited About the Food Sector Than Apple’s Latest Products

By for Profit Confidential

This Food Company More Deserving of Your Attention Than AppleWhile the entire world was waiting for and anticipating the next-generation “iPhone 6” from Apple Inc. (NASDAQ/AAPL) on Tuesday, General Mills, Inc. (NYSE/GIS) announced it was acquiring organic and natural food company Annies, Inc. (NYSE/BNNY).

Okay, the launch of the iPhone 6 was clearly more exciting, but so what? The launch was more hype than substance, unless you consider a new and bigger iPhone earth-shattering.

But I’m not here to talk about Apple. What I will discuss is the food sector, especially the makers of organic and natural food products, which appear to be in play, based on my stock analysis.

If you owned Annie’s before it was acquired by General Mills, congratulations on your 38% jump in stock price on the news! Go treat yourself to some fine wine and a great meal. If you didn’t get to profit from this deal, there are still some stocks in the same sector as Annie’s that have great potential.

One small-cap natural food products company that I like based on my stock analysis, and this is one that I have been covering for a few years now, is Inventure Foods, Inc. (NASDAQ/SNAK). The small company produces and markets specialty food brands, concentrating on the snack food market. Some of its product lines include nutritional and natural snacks.

Inventure Foods sells products under its own brand and other licensed brands, including the following: “Boulder Canyon Natural Foods,” “Jamba,” “Seattle’s Best Coffee,” “Rader Farms,” “T.G.I. Friday’s,” “Nathan’s Famous,” “Vidalia Brands,” “Poore Brothers,” “Tato Skins,” “Willamette Valley Fruit Company,” “Fresh Frozen,” and “Bob’s Texas Style.” The company’s manufacturing plants are located in Arizona, … Read More

Two Blue Chips with Excellent Upside

By for Profit Confidential

My Top Blue Chips Offering More Capital GainsThere’s good resilience to this market. On most days, the NASDAQ Composite is still beating both the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average comparatively, which is bullish. Lots of stocks are pushing new highs and many seem to be breaking out of their previous near-term trends.

NIKE, Inc. (NKE) is a large-cap, dividend-paying company that I view as attractive for long-term investors.

The stock has been in consolidation, trading range-bound since the beginning of the year but is finally breaking out and pushing through the $80.00-per-share level.

This position went up tremendously last year and has been due for a break. The company has experienced solid revenue and earnings growth over the last several quarters.

The stock’s reacceleration looks meaningful, and I suspect the position is in for a new uptrend.

The other company that I feel is a good example of the kind of stock that could make for a great holding in any long-term equity market portfolio is The Walt Disney Company (DIS). (See “Why This Is Still My Favorite Entertainment Stock.”)

I’m not surprised this position is still ticking higher. But it has been moving up very consistently since October of 2011.

The stock just broke the $90.00-per-share level. This time two years ago, the company was trading for $30.00 a share, which is incredible capital appreciation for such a mature large-cap enterprise.

Institutional investors are still buying earnings reliability, and I think this trend will hold right through 2015.

Both NIKE and Disney offer earnings reliability and the fact of the matter is that it’s difficult for any company to generate double-digit growth…. Read More

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