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

Microsoft

Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ/MSFT) is a technology company that has been around since 1986 and was founded by Bill Gates. With a market cap of close to $300 billion, Microsoft is one of the largest companies in the world. The maker of the widely popular “Windows” operating system has run into difficulties due to competition, but its expansion into smartphones, tablets, and the “Xbox” gaming and entertainment system is driving renewed interest in Microsoft.

Former Wall Street Tech Favorite Set for a Comeback

By for Profit Confidential

How This Former Wall Street Tech Star Is Making a ComebackThe financial media and analysts are talking endlessly about the state and fragility of the stock market and whether a bottom may be near. I discussed the vulnerability to the downside in my last article. If you missed it, you may want to go back and read what I said. (See “Strategies to Protect Your Capital While Investing in This Market.”)

While stocks appear to be heading to negative ground in 2014, I view continued weakness as a buying opportunity to accumulate some stocks at a discount.

For the majority of you, I would advise staying away from the higher-beta small-cap and momentum stocks at this time and wait for things to settle down. In other words, I want to see some sustained buying support emerge to show some evidence the downside selling is coming to an end.

In the meantime, take a look at some of the bigger S&P 500 and DOW stocks that have moved lower to much more attractive entry points.

In the technology area, I like what’s happening at former Wall Street darling Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ/MSFT) under the stewardship of CEO Satya Nadella.

While Nadella recently said some disparaging remarks on females in the workforce, what he has done at Microsoft since taking over from former CEO Steve Ballmer has been encouraging.

The rise in the stock price in Microsoft has even allowed Ballmer to pay an obscene $2.0-billon-plus for the LA Clippers. Ballmer’s failure to recognize and fully understand the big impact the mobile sector has on the technology space helped to make Microsoft insignificant for years.

MSFT Microsoft Corp Chart

Chart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com

Nadella has shifted his … Read More

Rising Earnings Estimates the New Catalyst for Stocks?

By for Profit Confidential

Where Street Estimates Pointing 2015No doubt, trading volume for a lot of stocks has been on the decline, and while this is traditionally a sign of a market that’s topping out, this potential outcome would be well-deserved and no surprise.

It’s the lull between earnings seasons and the beginning of summer trading action. Volume is going to be lighter, and stocks are due for a correction—even a big one. So I don’t think this market is running out of gas; it’s just tired and investors are looking for catalysts.

Following earnings forecasts, old-school technology stocks like Microsoft Corporation (MSFT) and Oracle Corporation (ORCL) are seeing their estimates going up for 2015. And Wall Street’s even nudging estimates for the financials higher.

Even if stocks are tired and volume is declining, rising estimates for next year is a positive trend.

As most blue chip corporations did OK in the first quarter of 2014 (see “1Q Earnings Not Giving the Market the Boost It Needs”), one commonality among many multinational companies was improving business conditions in Europe. It will be very interesting to see if this trend holds during second-quarter reporting. If it does, it increases the likelihood that multinational businesses will see their 2015 earnings estimates nudged higher yet.

Street estimates for Caterpillar Inc. (CAT), which is a very international business, have been going up across the board for this year and next. While the market expects total sales to be basically flat in 2014 (compared to 2013), current consensus is for around six-percent sales growth in 2015.

And there’s a similar scenario with other Dow Jones stocks like Cisco Systems, Inc. (CSCO) and The … Read More

U.S.-Listed Israeli Companies the Next Big Buying Opportunity?

By for Profit Confidential

Three U.S.-Listed Israeli Growth Stocks Worth a LookIsrael has grown to become a key producer of technology and medical devices companies outside of the United States and Canada. We are talking about a very small country of less than eight million people, but which has become known as the “Silicon Valley of the Middle East.”

In fact, after China and Canada, Israel-based companies are the third-most-listed on U.S. stock exchanges as far as international listings, and they may be offering a buying opportunity.

Contrary to companies emerging out of China, Israeli companies have, so far, been quite clean as far as reporting reliability and confidence in the financial results, something that has escaped Chinese stocks that make them untrustworthy to investors. (Read “Chinese Stocks Promise Higher Potential Gains?”)

While there are major big-cap companies out of Israel, such as biotech Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Limited (NUSE//TEVA), there is also an excellent speculative buying opportunity in some of the small-cap stocks emerging from the country.

I have listed three speculative Israeli stock plays that are worth a closer look as a buying opportunity.

In the small-cap technology space, another buying opportunity is Israel-based Magic Software Enterprises Ltd. (NASDAQ/MGIC), which has been providing information technology services for more than 30 years. The company has built ventures with key software partners, including International Business Machines Corporation (NYSE/IBM), Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ/MSFT), and Oracle Corporation (NYSE/ORCL).

In 2013, the company was ranked 37th on the Deloitte Israel Technology Fast 50 list.

Magic Software is profitable, with higher sequential earnings in six straight years, from 2006 to 2012, prior to a small decline in 2013. The valuation is reasonable at 14.66 times (X) its … Read More

Microsoft’s Deal with Apple a Lucrative Move?

By for Profit Confidential

Microsoft Impressing Investors with New FocusThe business climate appears to be changing at Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ/MSFT), as the company attempts to evolve from its roots as a maker of operating systems for personal computers (PCs) to a more dynamic business focused on the surging mobile sector.

It has been a long time coming for this former Wall Street star. Out with former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and his lack of vision and execution in acknowledging the significance of the mobile sector. The new leader at the helm, Satya Nadella, appears to be steering Microsoft out of troubled waters and into the new realm of mobile.

The stock is at a new 52-week high and looking higher on the charts—finally rewarding shareholders and institutional investors after years of miscalculations.

Instead of focusing on the “Windows” operating system and PCs, Microsoft has shifted its focus to smartphones, tablets, entertainment gaming consoles, and now, it’s creating applications that could be used on the Apple Inc. (NADSAQ/AAPL) “iPad.”

Microsoft announced it would be offering as a downloadable app from the Apple App Store its widely used “Office” suite, which includes the popular “Word,” “Excel,” and “PowerPoint” applications. This strategy is a sharp contrast to the past years, when Microsoft was battling Apple to sell smartphones and tablets. Now having recognized the fact that Apple is tops, Microsoft is looking to build apps for the iPads and harness the hundreds of millions of users.

A smart move by Nadella and based on the share price, the stock market is pleased with the new direction.

Of course, Apple also benefits, as the company will receive 30% of the fees paid for … Read More

What the “Microsoft Indicator” Says Now

By for Profit Confidential

Microsoft the Best Market Indicator at This TimeEarnings estimates for Microsoft Corporation (MSFT) are going up and the stock, which recently accelerated, finally looks like it has broken out of a 13-year consolidation.

Microsoft has been an income play for quite a while. Currently yielding three percent, the company’s forward price-to-earnings ratio is around 12.5 and is not dissimilar from many other blue chips.

Then there’s Intel Corporation (INTC). This company has been struggling for capital gains, but it’s yielding 3.6% and isn’t expensively priced.

What these technology companies illustrate so well is the business cycle, both in terms of operational growth and also as equity securities. Getting the cycle correct (the right place/stock at the right time) is the toughest thing for any investor or businessperson.

Regarding stocks, both Microsoft and Intel’s long-term charts clearly show how extremely overpriced their share prices were during the bull market of the 90s. Intel’s long-term stock chart is featured below:

INTC Intel Corp. Nasdaq GS Chart

Chart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com

The benefit of the very long term is that it provides a normalized but still decent rate of return with these kinds of stocks. No enterprise or investor can escape the business cycle, whether it is industry-specific, a local reality, or the general economy.

Railroad stocks have been super hot over the last several years, but for long periods of time, they were not. The solid dividend-payers that they are, you’d be hard-pressed to find Union Pacific Corporation (UNP) competing with Apple Inc. (AAPL) or Google Inc. (GOOG) for headlines.

I feel that stocks have broken out of their previous consolidation phase in favor of a new long-term cycle. But while last year’s stunning price … Read More

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