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

Posts Tagged ‘china’

The Nine-Month Check-Up

By for Profit Confidential

Nine-Month Check-UpWith nine months behind us this year, today we look at how two popular forms of investment have done in 2014 and where I think they are headed for the remainder of the year.

Starting with stocks, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed yesterday up 2.8% for the year. Given the risk of the stock market, 2.8% is no big gain. I wrote at the beginning of 2014 that the return on stocks would not be worth the risk this year. I was on the money. When we look at the broad market, the Russell 2000 Index is down 5.4% for the year.

Going forward, as you know as a reader of Profit Confidential, I see stocks as risky. Plain and simple, stocks are overpriced in an environment where the Federal Reserve is putting the brakes on paper money printing and is warning that interest rates are going higher.

On a typical day, I see the Dow Jones up 100 points; the next day, it’s down 100 points. This is happening in an environment where trading volume has collapsed. I wouldn’t be surprised to see October deliver us a nasty stock market crash.

Moving to gold (and this is very interesting), gold is flat for the year in U.S. dollars. But if we look at gold in Japanese yen, gold is up 4.6% for 2014. If we look at gold in Canadian dollars, bullion is up 4.6% as well this year. And if we measure gold in euros, we find gold bullion prices are up 10.4% in 2014.

What explains this?

Yesterday, the U.S. dollar hit another six-year high … Read More

A Rational Look at Gold

By for Profit Confidential

Rational Look at GoldThe fundamentals that drive gold prices higher are in full force and improving. Central banks are buying more of the precious metal (to add to their reserves), while countries that are known to be big consumers of gold bullion post increased demand.

According to the India Bullion & Jewellers’ Association, India’s monthly gold bullion imports are expected to rise by as much as 50% in the coming few months—in the range of 70 tonnes to 75 tonnes per month compared to an average of 50 tonnes to 60 tonnes now. (Source: Reuters, September 18, 2014.) This is mainly due to the festival/wedding season fast approaching in India.

If India continues to import 70 tonnes of gold bullion each month, then the total imports just to India will be 31% of all world gold mine production (based on 2,700 tons in annual mine production).

India used to be the biggest importer of gold bullion until China took over as the biggest importer of the precious metal two years ago. And demand for gold in China remains strong as well.

But while demand for the precious metal is rising, production is declining.

In the first five months of 2014, U.S. mine production was 85,400 kilograms (kg), down four percent from the 89,200 kg of gold bullion produced in the first five months of 2013. (Source: U.S. Geological Survey, last accessed September 22, 2014.) As I have written before, lower gold prices have caused gold companies to close mines where production made sense at $1,600 an ounce gold, but not at $1,200 an ounce gold.

While I won’t delve into all the talk … Read More

My Top Five Picks in the Booming Airline Sector

By for Profit Confidential

My Top Five Picks in the Booming Airline SectorThe Boeing Company (NYSE/BA) is going to space and its stock price is following. The top company in the airline sector just won a joint $6.8-billion contract along with SpaceX to build “space taxis” to ferry NASA astronauts to and from the International Space Station.

For Boeing, it’s just more evidence of why it is the “Best of Breed” in the airline sector and a valid component in anyone’s long-term core holdings.

SpaceX, or Space Exploration Technologies Corporation, is a project of Elon Musk’s, the man who is also the brains behind the creation and success of Tesla Motors, Inc. (NASDAQ/TSLA). Musk apparently wants to eventually offer space travel for commercial use, so this deal from NASA is moving him in the right direction.

The airline sector is hot and will continue to expand as the wealth creation around the world grows, especially in the emerging markets, such as China, Asia, and India. When income levels rise, people want to travel, and this has clearly been reflected in the superlative demand for airplanes out of China. Boeing believes China is the top aviation growth area worldwide.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) estimates that North America will continue to be the largest airline sector market with profits of about $8.6 billion this year. The Asia-Pacific airline sector is predicted to be the second biggest with about $3.7 billion in earnings this year. Europe comes in third with an estimated $3.1 billion. (Source: “Industry on Track for Second Year of Improving Profits – Rising Fuel Costs Largely Offset by Increased Demand,” International Air Transport Association web site, March 12, 2014.)

And … Read More

Should You Buy Into the U.S. Dollar Rally?

By for Profit Confidential

U.S. Dollar: The Best of the WorstSince May, when it was near an all-time low, the U.S. dollar has rallied. Compared to other major currencies of the world, the greenback is up five percent since July, as the chart below illustrates.

The question: should investors get into this U.S. dollar rally?

Dear reader, the U.S. dollar is not moving higher because the fundamentals of the U.S. economy are getting better. It’s moving higher because other parts of the global economy are doing worse than the U.S.

The eurozone economy is so weak that the European Central Bank has lowered interest rates again, pushing the value of the euro lower. In the United Kingdom, Scotland is looking for independence. The crisis between Russia and Ukraine continues without resolution. New troubles are brewing in the Middle East. China reported yesterday it would start pumping money into its largest banks.

US Dollar Index Chart

Chart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com

Right now, with the majority of major world central banks either printing more of their paper money or bringing interest rates even lower, the U.S. is the best of the worst.

But I believe the rally in the U.S. dollar will be short-lived.

Central banks are trying to move away from the U.S. dollar as their reserve currency. At one point, trade in the global economy was dominated by the U.S. dollar. This is changing, slowly but surely.

Consider just one of many recent examples; the Chinese and Argentinian central banks will be doing an $11.0-billion currency swap operation. This will allow Argentina to increase its reserves and pay for Chinese imports in yuan—the deal was signed in July. (Source: Reuters, September 7, 2014.)

Putting … Read More

Another Warning Sign: Stocks Hit Highs on Collapsing Volume

By for Profit Confidential

The Only Bear Left StandingSo the S&P 500 has touched the 2,000 mark.

Will the S&P 500 continue to march to new highs?

Well, my opinion towards the stock market hasn’t changed. I remain skeptical for a variety of reasons, many of which I have shared with my readers over the past few months.

But I have a new concern about the stock market, something that hasn’t been touched on by analysts: trading volume is collapsing.

Please look at the table below. It shows the performance of the S&P 500 and its change in trading volume.

Year Performance Change in Volume
2012 11.73% - 17.58%
2013 14.50% - 24.91%
2014 8.40% - 44%*

*Until August 25, 2014

Data source: StockCharts.com, last accessed August 25, 2014

Key stock indices like the S&P 500 (it is the same story for the Dow Jones) are rising as volumes are declining, suggesting buyers’ participation in the stock market advance is very low. For a healthy stock market rally, any technical analyst will tell you that you need rising volume, not declining volume.

It’s Economics 101: rising demand pushes prices higher. In the case of the S&P 500, we have declining demand (low trading volume) and rising prices. Something doesn’t make sense here.

Looking at the economic data, it further suggests key stock indices are stretched. We continue to see the factors that are supposed to drive the U.S. economy to deteriorate.

Just look at the housing market. The number of new homes sold continues to decline. In January, the annual rate of new-home sales in the U.S. was 457,000 units. By July, it was down more than 10% … Read More

Two Reasons Why Interest Rates Will Rise

By for Profit Confidential

U.S. Dollar Under BRICS PressureThe U.S. dollar is still regarded as the reserve currency of the world. The majority of international transactions are settled in U.S. dollars and most central banks around the word hold it in their foreign exchange reserves.

But since the Credit Crisis of 2008, and the multi-trillion-dollar printing program by the Federal Reserve, the supremacy of the U.S. dollar as the “world’s currency” has been challenged.

The BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) have agreed on starting a new development bank that will compete with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. (Source: Washington Times, August 5, 2014.) Both the IMF and World Bank are “U.S. dollar”-based.

Since the year 2000, the U.S. dollar composed about 56% of all reserves at central banks. But after the Credit Crisis, that percentage started to decline. In 2013, the greenback made up only 32.43% of all foreign exchange reserves at foreign central banks. (Source: International Monetary Fund COFER data, last accessed August 11, 2014.)

Yes, the $3.5 trillion in new money the Federal Reserve has created out of thin air has made other central banks nervous about holding U.S. dollars in their vaults. After all, if you were a foreign central bank with U.S. dollars as your reserve currency, how good would you feel to know the U.S. just printed more dollars as it needed them without any backing of gold?

But it’s not just the money printing. It’s the massive debt the U.S. government has accumulated…currently at $17.6 trillion and soon to be $20.0 trillion.

In the short-run, the U.S. dollar is still considered a safe … Read More

Top Opportunity in Mobile Market Lies in China

By for Profit Confidential

China Mobile Leading the Mobile Growth PackThe Chinese economy is showing signs of stalling, but there are numerous areas that continue to show decent growth metrics, including automobiles and mobile phones.

Now, if you think AT&T Inc. (NYSE/T) or Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE/VZ) are big, take a look at China Mobile Limited (NYSE/CHL). China Mobile is the largest mobile phone operator in China, with about 790 million subscribers as of June 30—that’s more than the entire population of Europe! The company’s growth is even expected to expand as 3G and 4G networks grow in popularity.

You cannot ignore the fact that China is the top mobile market in the world with more than one billion users. Plus, you not only have the urban dwellers using these services, but we are seeing massive demand in the rural areas as well, especially when rural workers migrate to the cities, looking for jobs.

And with the mobile sector in the country being heavily regulated by the Chinese government as far as licenses and the landscape, there are currently only three major mobile operators in the country.

What’s most intriguing is the development of advanced mobile technologies. China Mobile only introduced its 4G network six months ago and already it has coverage in 300 cities and approximately 6.5 million users.

China is a key global growth market for Apple Inc. (NASDAQ/AAPL), too, which is searching for growth in the emerging markets. Apple’s deal with China Mobile will definitely help.

China Mobile is regarded as the top brand in BusinessWeek’s “20 Best China Brands.” The stock pays an annual dividend of $1.88, for a current dividend yield of 3.8% … Read More

Why It’s Time to Cull Your Stocks

By for Profit Confidential

Still Buying Stocks StopGood numbers are one thing, but stocks did go up in advance of what’s turning out to be a fairly decent earnings season.

It’s not unreasonable at all to expect the market to take a solid break, perhaps for the next two to three months. Of course, predicting corrections and/or consolidations among stocks is a difficult endeavor in an era of extreme monetary stimulus. The Federal Reserve is slowly chipping it away, but it remains very committed to helping capital markets, especially as the economic data continues to be pretty soft.

Stocks are still looking stretched and this market is tired. A 10% to 20% correction would be a healthy development for the longer-run trend. Stocks need a catalyst for this to happen. It could come out of nowhere, and I’m reluctant to be a buyer with so many positions trading at record-highs.

Johnson Controls, Inc. (JCI), a large U.S. auto parts manufacturer, had a modestly positive third fiscal quarter with sales growing three percent to $10.8 billion due to more sales in China.

The company had some one-time restructuring charges during the quarter. Earnings per share from continuing operations (excluding restructuring and one-time items) grew a hefty 17% to $0.84. Management confirmed its full-year guidance, which pleased the Street, but the position is breaking down a bit.

E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company’s (DD) numbers were uninspiring and the company tried to keep investors interested with a four-percent increase to its quarterly dividend. The position’s starting to roll over and with agriculture being such an important part of the company’s business, changing preferences among farmers hurt its … Read More

The Only Thing I Can Find to “Buy Low” These Days

By for Profit Confidential

The Second Half of 2014 What It Looks Like for GoldThe tally as of this morning:

The stock market is up 2.4% so far in 2014 as measured by the Dow Jones Industrial Average, while gold bullion is up 8.1% for the year.

“As an investor, do I get into gold or stocks at this point in the year?”

Well, if you’ve been reading my articles for a while, you know I’m not a fan of stocks right now. I simply believe the stock market has become a Federal Reserve–induced bubble.

And while there has been a lot written about price manipulation in the gold market, and while mighty Goldman Sachs still says the metal is headed lower in price, investors should look at gold bullion right now…that’s both old gold investors (so they can average down their cost) and new gold investors taking their first position.

Here are my reasons why…

In 2013, the Indian central bank and government imposed tariffs and restrictions on the importation of gold bullion into India, as they believed the demand for gold bullion in the country was hurting its national accounts. In the first quarter of this year, India started to ease its gold importation restrictions, and bang, last month, gold bullion imports into the country increased by 65% over June of last year. (Source: Bloomberg, July 16, 2014.) Demand for gold bullion in China, which I’ve documented in these pages, is also very strong.

Inflation, what gold bullion acts as a hedge against, is starting to gain momentum. The Producer Price Index (which tracks changes in the prices producers pay) increased by 0.4% in June from the previous month; that’s an annualized … Read More

Why China Catches My Eye as a Top Opportunity Right Now

By for Profit Confidential

My Top Three Foreign Investment OpportunitiesA few years ago, investors couldn’t get enough of Chinese stocks. This led to numerous frauds committed by crooks in China that has since tarnished the reputation and reliability of all Chinese companies, whether they’re legitimate or not, despite their operating in one of the top growth areas in the world.

While I’m not focused on Chinese stocks at this moment due to better trading opportunities in the domestic stock market, I monitor the country and remain convinced it’s still a key place to have some risk capital invested in. When the broader market understands this, I would expect renewed buying in Chinese stocks sometime in the future.

My view is that the country’s current leadership under President Xi Jinping, who assumed power in March 2013, has a vision to create a country of consumers, just like the United States; albeit, I doubt it will come close to what we see here with consumer spending driving 70% of gross domestic product (GDP) growth. In China, consumer spending drives about 30% of GDP so there’s work to do. In the second quarter, retail sales continued at a double-digit growth of 12.4% year-over-year.

The objective to cut the country’s dependence on exports and foreign investment makes sense. With a potential market in excess of one billion people, it’s the right move.

China may not be in the spotlight for investors now, but you cannot ignore the country. With the recent years of underperformance, I see great longer-term upside in Chinese stocks.

The Chinese economy is growing at well below the double-digit growth of the past, but comparatively, the growth is far superior … Read More

What’s Up Three Times More Than Stocks So Far This Year?

By for Profit Confidential

Where Gold Will Trade in the Second Half of 2014Investors who bought gold bullion in early 2014 know it was a great decision. The precious metal has increased 10.2% in price between January and June, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed by just three percent.

So far, so good—and as expected.

Going forward, it will not be surprising to me to see the precious metal outperform the stock market in the second half of the year as well.

Why will this happen?

As demand for gold bullion continues to rise and as supply declines (the exact situation we have today), gold bullion prices will have no option but to rise.

In the table below, I have plotted the production of gold bullion at U.S. mines for the first three months of the year compared to the first three months of 2013. Production at U.S. gold mines is declining month after month.

Production at U.S. Gold Mines, 1Q2013 vs. 1Q2014

Month 2013 Output (in Kg) 2014 Output (in Kg) % Change Year-over-Year
January 18600 18,500 -0.54%
February 17,300 17,100 -1.16%
March 18,700 18,200 -2.67%
Total 54,600 53,800 -1.47%

Data source: U.S. Geological Survey web site, last accessed July 1, 2014

While the chart above only details U.S. gold mining production, gold bullion production across the global economy is declining. Last year, as the yellow metal witnessed a massive sell-off in price, gold mining companies cut back on their exploration and capital expenditures budgets. This is now catching up and derailing production. And I see the situation for supply only getting worse.

Meanwhile, demand for gold bullion keeps rising.

We continue to see significant demand for the precious metal—and not … Read More

Why There’s Still Life Left in This Hot IPO

By for Profit Confidential

What I Learned from This Hot IPO's ProspectusOne of the best things you can do to learn about the stock market is to read the prospectus of a company that’s either about to list or recently went public.

It’s a learning experience that, in many cases, can reveal how expensive it is to actually become a publicly traded corporation (i.e. Wall Street’s cut) and that each listing is its own unique security, becoming part of a secondary market after the founders cash out.

GoPro, Inc. (GPRO) out of San Mateo, California recently completed its initial public offering (IPO), selling 17.8 million Class A common shares at $24.00 a share—or 20,475,000 shares if the dealer option is fully exercised.

What wasn’t in the headlines is that 8.9 million of those Class A shares were sold by insiders. And there are also Class B common shares. One share of Class A common stock is entitled to one shareholder vote, but Class B shareholders are entitled to 10 votes per share.

So after its IPO, according to the company’s prospectus, GoPro insiders or selling shareholders will have earned proceeds after underwriter fees of $200,784,000.

The company’s executive officers, directors, and related entities still hold about 73% of total shareholder voting power.

The stock had a great debut and the company is no doubt a growth story. But as an individual investor, your ownership of GoPro shares (if you could get any) in their IPO form is mostly an exercise in the willingness of the marketplace to attribute value to an enterprise not giving up operational control.

This is not uncommon in new listings, and it’s why it’s so informative to … Read More

Guess Who Is Pushing the Stock Market Higher Now

By for Profit Confidential

So That's Why Stocks Have Been Moving Higher…When I look at the stock market, I ask who in their right mind would buy stocks?

While key stock market indices creep higher, the fundamentals suggest the complete opposite. But despite valuations being stretched, insiders selling, corporate revenue growth being non-existent, and the U.S. economy contracting in the first quarter of this year, the S&P 500 is up seven percent since the beginning of 2014, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is getting closer to the 17,000 level, and the NASDAQ is back above 4,000.

As I have written before, a company can buy back its stock to prop up per-share earnings or cut expenses to improve the bottom line, but if revenue isn’t growing, there is a problem. In the first quarter of 2014, only 54% of S&P 500 companies were able to grow their revenue. (Source: FactSet, June 13, 2014.)

Going forward, things aren’t looking bright either. For the second quarter of 2014, 82 S&P 500 companies have already provided negative guidance for their corporate earnings. I expect this number to climb higher.

And consumer spending, the driver of the U.S. economy, is very weak, as evidenced by negative gross domestic product (GDP) in the U.S. economy in the first quarter of this year.

So if the overall environment is negative for the equities, who is buying stocks and pushing the stock market higher?

The answer (something I suspected some time ago): central banks are buying stocks.

A study done by the Official Monetary and Financial Institution Forum (OMFIF) called Global Public Investors 2014, states that central banks and public institutions around the world have gotten involved … Read More

A Stock Market Break? These Indices Say No

By for Profit Confidential

These Turning Indices Show How Stocks Can Go HigherThe great monetary expansion is still alive and well and the effect on equity securities continues to be profound.

But what I find striking about the stock market’s continued advancement is that it’s blue chips that are pushing through to new record highs.

Speculative fervor in several sectors has diminished, but hasn’t completely disappeared. But it’s the big brand-name companies—a lot of which pay dividends—that just keep on trucking as institutional investors buy earnings safety and outlook reliability, and are betting on revenue and earnings acceleration going into 2015.

Union Pacific Corporation (UNP), a benchmark railroad stock, just hit another new record high on the stock market, breaking through the $100.00-per-share level. It was $35.00 a share this time in 2010.

And this from an old-economy, industrial enterprise that is probably not on many investors’ wish lists.

Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN) broke down considerably at the beginning of the year when it was trading around $400.00 a share. It recently broke $300.00 a share, but has bounced back significantly and the position looks to be fighting hard.

And this is one of the speculative stocks on which investors booked their profits. This stock is on the comeback trail and so are Cisco Systems, Inc. (CSCO), The Priceline Group Inc. (PCLN), Oracle Corporation (ORCL), Apple Inc. (AAPL), and Google Inc. (GOOG).

The stock market has been digesting continued mediocrity in domestic economic data and slightly more positive numbers from China. Institutional investors are buying. I think that, in the absence of some kind of shock or new catalyst, the stock market can slowly keep grinding higher. It could very well turn … Read More

Coffee Wars Intensify on Stock Market as Coffee Prices Rise

By for Profit Confidential

Top Three Stocks to Profit as Coffee Prices RiseIf you cannot get through the day without that cup of coffee, you may need to prepare to spend a little more to get it.

Coffee prices have been surging, up more than 30% year-over-year. The cost to have that morning cup of java has edged higher, but not at the same rate as the cash price of coffee.

The coffee industry is a multibillion-dollar industry in the United States and is a competitive marketplace, but at the top of the coffee heap is Starbucks Corporation (NASDAQ/SBUX), which has developed into an iconic brand both domestically and worldwide. In Asia, Europe, and Latin America, no matter where you are, it seems there’s a Starbucks near you. In China, the brand is rapidly growing, and the company plans to expand in this region with thousands of outlets.

Starbucks has also expanded into providing more menu alternatives and is involved in the tea market via its acquisition of the Teavana chain. The company is also marketing juices and operates a small chain of hamburger outlets in California.

For long-term investors, you cannot go wrong with Starbucks, which could serve as a good core holding in your portfolio.

 Starbucks Corp Chart

Chart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com

However, in the traditional coffee and donut market, the top player at this time is the “Dunkin Donuts” chain, operated by Dunkin Brands Group, Inc. (NASDAQ/DNKN). The company also operates the “Baskin-Robbins” ice cream chain. Unlike Starbucks, Dunkin is primarily a U.S. brand that doesn’t have much recognition outside American borders; albeit, the company is looking to expand to the United Kingdom via the planned opening of 50 outlets in Greater … Read More

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