Posts Tagged ‘earnings growth’
In the first five weeks of this year, investors bought $22.0 billion worth of long-term stock mutual funds. (Source: Investment Company Institute, February 12, 2014.)
But as investors poured money into the stock market, hoping to ride the 2013 wave of higher stock prices, stocks did the opposite and went down. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down three percent so far this year.
Looking at the bigger picture, corporate earnings and key stock indices valuations are still stretched. The S&P 500’s 12-month forward price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio stands at 15.1. This ratio is currently overvalued by roughly nine percent when compared to its 10-year average, and 15% compared to its five-year average. (Source: FactSet, February 14, 2014.)
This isn’t the only indicator that says key stock indices have gotten too far ahead of themselves. In the chart below, I have plotted U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) against the S&P 500.
The chart clearly shows a direct relationship between GDP and the S&P 500. When U.S. GDP increases, the S&P 500 follows in the same direction, and vice versa. When we look at the 2008–2009 period (which I’ve circled in the chart above), we see that when GDP plunged, the S&P 500 followed in the same direction.
Going into 2014, we saw production in the U.S. economy decline; consumer spending is pulling back, unemployment is still an issue, and the global economy is slowing. U.S. GDP is far from growing at the rate it did after the Credit Crisis. Take another look at the chart above. In 2011, you’ll see U.S. GDP was very strong; but after … Read More
In 2013, the U.S. economy, as measured by gross domestic product (GDP), rose at an average rate of 1.9% compared to 2.8% in 2012. And as it stands, GDP may slow further in 2014.
What makes me think this?
In January, U.S. industrial production declined by 0.3% from the previous month. This was the first decline in production since August of 2013. Production of automotive products in the U.S. economy declined by 5.15%, and appliances, furniture, and carpeting production declined by 0.6% in the month. (Source: Federal Reserve, February 14, 2014.)
And factories in the U.S. economy just aren’t as busy as they used to be. The capacity utilization rate, a measure of companies using their potential production, was 78.5% in January. The average rate between 1979 and 2013 has been 80.1%. While a difference of two percent in factory utilization isn’t a big number, because overhead is often fixed in factories, a two-percent decline in production is a big deal.
Then there’s the inventory problem; inventories in the U.S. economy continue to increase. In December, inventories at manufacturers increased by another 0.5% to $1.7 trillion. From December 2012, they have increased by 4.4%. (Source: U.S. Census Bureau, February 14, 2014.)
We have a situation in the U.S. economy today where factories are working at lower capacity than they have historically, while business inventories are rising—two bad omens for the economy; hence, you can see why I’m concerned about economic growth in 2014.
It’s a domino effect…
Inventories increasing suggest consumer demand is stalling. Examples of consumer spending declining in the U.S. economy are many. As I have … Read More
Tesla Motors, Inc. (TSLA) has been an excellent trade. The position has recovered strongly and is a very good example for traders who speculate on changes in investor sentiment.
Trading a stock like Tesla is about price momentum as much as anything. And every business, no matter how successful or fast-growing, experiences operational difficulty. This creates opportunity for a trader who is comfortable going against the market.
Tesla ran into problems with its “Model S” and was required to do a recall to help prevent battery fires after an accident. It was a short-lived but perfect storm in investor sentiment, which created an attractive new entry point for traders. (See “The Stock Everyone Is Talking About; How Much Higher Can It Go?”) The company’s stock chart is featured below:
While many investors/traders are attracted to low-priced or penny stocks for their turnaround potential, these stocks are usually down for a reason. In buoyant, highly liquid capital markets like we have today, a buy-high/sell-higher type of strategy can pay off.
The risk is that the price momentum ends, whether it is due to a material corporate event or a general decline in speculative fervor. Biotechnology stocks as a specific stock market sector are particularly prone to strong price momentum because of the strong participation from institutional traders.
Tesla is now a $24.0-billion company. The position didn’t do that much after listing, then it just exploded with extremely strong price momentum on much higher-than-average volume.
As a research strategy, scanning the stock market for new highs can yield some very good trades and/or stocks worth following … Read More
As more and more public companies warn about weak fourth-quarter corporate earnings reports, quite a number of them are resorting to the use of words like “corporate restructuring” or “cost cutting.” At the very core, these cost-cutting measures mean reducing the number of employees working at these companies.
Let’s face the facts: companies on key stock indices are struggling to keep revenue and profits rising. The share buyback “thing” is getting old (after all, how much money do these companies have to throw at stock buybacks?), so to show better corporate earnings, reducing work forces is the easiest thing to do.
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE/WMT) says it plans to lay off 2,300 assistant managers and hourly employees at its Sam’s Club stores. (Source: CNBC, January 24, 2014.)
Abbott Laboratories (ABT) recently let go an unspecified number of employees at its Lake County headquarters. In the conference call to investors about its fourth-quarter corporate earnings, the CFO of the company simply said, “[the company] will take further actions to reduce out expenses… get our support structure at appropriate levels.” (Source: “Abbott Laboratories launches round of layoffs,” Chicago Tribune, January 28, 2014.)
And as I told you last week…
Intel Corporation (NASDAQ/INTC) said it will be reducing its workforce by 5,000 this year. Here’s what the company spokesman, Chris Kraeuter, had to say: “This is part of aligning our human resources to meet business needs.” (Source: “Intel to reduce global workforce by five percent in 2014,” Reuters, January 17, 2014.) Intel had flat fourth-quarter 2013 corporate earnings.
Hewlett-Packard Company (NYSE/HPQ), another major company in the key stock indices, is taking a … Read More
Last night started out like every other State of the Union address I’ve seen…
The President told us all the good stuff about the U.S. economy, like how American corporate profits are at a record high, how the stock market is at record highs, how millions of new jobs have been created since the Credit Crisis of 2008, how the housing market is turning around, and on and on.
Like a good old politician, Obama spun the facts to give the viewer the impression his Administration has done a great job at turning the U.S. economy around.
What Obama, who now has a very low 43% job approval rating (Source: CNN Breaking News alert, January 28, 2014.), didn’t say about the U.S. economy—and which no other politician likely would—is that:
None of his 2013 State of the Union “priorities” made it through Congress.
American corporations ended 2013 with the slowest earnings growth rate since 2009.
The stock market has become a Federal Reserve-induced bubble.
The majority of jobs created in the U.S. economy since the Credit Crisis have been in the low-paying sectors of the retail and service (restaurant) sectors.
A record 47.41 million Americans, or 23.05 million households, in the U.S. economy are using some form of food stamps (Source: United States Department of Agriculture, January 10, 2014.)
The number of first-time home buyers in the housing market is going the wrong way. In December, first-time home buyers accounted for a near-record low of only 27% of all the existing-home sales transactions. (Source: National Association of Realtors, January 23, 2014.)
Midway through the speech, I nodded off. I … Read More
Any investment portfolio is always well served with some exposure to healthcare, medical devices, and/or pharmaceutical stocks. You can own the sector for income, capital gains, or a combination of both. Regardless, it is an industry sector that is consistently good at making money for stockholders.
You can invest or speculate in large-cap, mid-cap or small-cap healthcare companies; the opportunities run the gamut and it’s not too difficult to find the right stocks to fit a particular risk tolerance level.
In the large-cap space, we previously looked at Becton, Dickinson and Company (BDX), which is a New Jersey-based medical instrument and supply company. (See “Why You Should Add Two Medical Stocks to Your Watch List.”)
This healthcare company has been a powerhouse wealth creator and one of many large-cap healthcare stocks that also pay dividends. Its current dividend yield is approximately two percent.
BDX has been soaring, especially since the beginning of last year, due to a solid financial performance and outlook for 2014.
According to the company, its revenues for the fourth fiscal quarter (ended September 30, 2013) were $2.1 billion for a 7.2% currency-neutral gain. Fiscal 2014 should see sales grow by four to five percent, and diluted earnings per share from continuing operations should grow between six and seven percent over fiscal 2013.
These aren’t growth stock-type gains, but we’re talking about a very mature enterprise.
Ten-times larger than BDX is Johnson & Johnson (JNJ). This is one of my favorite blue-chip healthcare stocks for long-term investors.
The company has a great, consistent track record of increasing its dividends over time, as well as … Read More
All of a sudden, auto sales are declining…
Auto sales in the U.S. economy declined to an annual rate of 15.4 million units in December. In November, this number stood at 16.41 million units—a decline of more than six percent. (Source: Motor Intelligence, January 3, 2014.) Analysts were caught off guard by the decline in December auto sales; they were expecting an increase!
I see the decline in auto sales as being directly related to rising interest rates. And it’s not going to get any better.
For years now (since the Credit Crisis), auto sales have been increasing due to low interest rates. It’s very similar to what happened to the housing market prior to 2007. More and more people went on a house-buying spree when the mortgage rates were at record lows. When mortgage rates started to increase in 2007, the already-inflated housing market got hit hard. The same thing is happening to auto sales now.
Interest rates are rising again. Look at the chart below of the bellwether 10-year U.S. Treasury. Since November, the yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury has gone up roughly 20%. The higher interest rates go, the weaker auto sales will get. (And we can already see the impact on the auto stocks. The stocks of America’s major car makers are off five percent from their 2013 peak, but key stock indices are near their peaks.)
Chart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com
Rising interest rates will have the biggest impact on auto loans given to subprime borrowers (those who have a lower credit standing).
My readers should note that the delinquency rates on auto loans … Read More
We won’t really get into the heart of the fourth-quarter 2013 earnings season until late January into early February. Smaller companies typically take longer to report, as they don’t have the large accounting departments that blue chips have.
I’ve noticed that quite a number of Wall Street research analysts have been boosting their 2014 full-year earnings expectations. They’re playing the same old game of cat and mouse with corporations and research analysts. Corporations always want to “outperform” if they can, so they deliberately keep their outlooks pretty conservative.
Companies getting a boost to their full-year earnings outlooks include: Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (WMT), Microsoft Corporation (MSFT), Colgate-Palmolive Company (CL), Oracle Corporation (ORCL), E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company (DD), Exxon Mobil Corporation (XOM), and Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ). Even Intel Corporation (INTC) is having its earnings outlook nudged higher by the Street for several upcoming quarters, including all of 2014.
According to FactSet, eight out of 10 S&P 500 market sectors are expected to report an increase in fourth-quarter earnings; these sectors are led by a strong expected gain in financials, followed by the telecom and industrial sectors. Energy is expected to produce a decline, comparatively.
While revenue growth from financials should be lackluster to negative on a comparative basis, a strong expected gain in earnings will be market-boosting news. Countless financials have been doing very well on the stock market since last November.
Over several of the last quarters, companies reported they were able to increase their selling prices without materially affecting demand. Sales growth has been a combination of increased volumes and rising prices.
Extreme monetary expansion … Read More
In the pursuit of reliability and consistency in business performance, AAON, Inc. (AAON) came through once again by reporting another record quarter.
I’m absolutely convinced that any equity market portfolio is well served by having at least some exposure to what I refer to as “old economy” types of businesses. AAON is a Tulsa, Oklahoma-based company that manufactures and sells heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment to industrial customers.
In the third quarter of 2013, the company generated record revenues and earnings—the strongest AAON has seen in its 25-year history.
Third-quarter sales were $89.7 million, representing a gain of 17% over the third quarter of 2012. Earnings came to $10.5 million, or $0.28 per diluted share, compared to $6.0 million, or $0.16 per diluted share, representing an impressive gain of 75% over last year’s third-quarter earnings.
While the company’s backlog declined slightly in the third quarter of 2013, management noted that an increase in its market share, rising selling prices, and lower costs for materials were all reasons for the earnings gain.
This stock has had an exceptional breakout from its long-term trend. But even before the recent positive trading action, it was still a consistent winner and a very good enterprise in terms of generating sales and earnings growth. The company’s stock chart is featured below:
Chart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com
Arguably, investing in the HVAC industry is a long-haul proposition, as AAON’s share price performance in the above chart illustrates. But consistent stock market winners, as far as I’m concerned, are absolutely golden, especially given the inherent volatility with equity securities and the business cycle.
Stocks that trade … Read More
To illustrate the solid business conditions that exist in the railroad industry, Westinghouse Air Brake Technologies Corporation (WAB) is a company that’s growing and has been an excellent stock market investment.
Operating as Wabtec Corporation, which was created in 2009 with the merger of Westinghouse Air Brake Company and MotivePower Industries Inc., the stock has been in business since 1869.
Back then, George Westinghouse showed potential customers in the railroad industry the first air braking system for railcars. Three years later, he invented the first automatic air braking system, which would engage if a railcar got separated from the train. The first installation of this innovative technology was in 1872 on a Pennsylvania Railroad passenger train. The rest is a history of growth.
The company’s been doing very well recently, with a growing cash position (long-term debt also has been going up), rising shareholders’ equity, and solid sales and earnings growth for such a mature, old economy industry.
According to the company, its third quarter of 2013 saw sales grow 7.5% to $631.4 million, while earnings grew an impressive 17.4%. With virtually every railcar in North America using some of the company’s products, its strongest growth in the most recent quarter was in remanufacturing, overhauling, and build services.
Westinghouse has been an outstanding wealth creator for shareholders over the last 10 years. Like most other stocks, Westinghouse got beaten up during the financial crisis. But for the most part, this position has been a consistent performer, and I think it will continue to be a winner, with fundamentals in the railroad industry being so good. The company’s 10-year stock chart … Read More
Something very interesting happened yesterday.
The Federal Reserve said it would start “tapering” its quantitative easing program by $10.0 billion a month. In other words, the Fed will now print $75.0 trillion a month in new money instead of $85.0 trillion a month.
Firstly, the whole concept of the central bank printing money out of thin air never made sense to me because the money isn’t backed by anything. The Federal Reserve says that starting in January, it will print 11% less in new money. In 2014, instead of printing more than $1.0 trillion in new money, it will print (or “create,” if you prefer) $900 billion in new money.
But—and there is always a but—the Federal Reserve, through Bernanke’s press conference following yesterday’s meeting of the Federal Reserve governors, said it would adjust the amount of money it creates based on how the economy is faring. I take this to mean that if the economy slows again, the Federal Reserve could, and likely will, start printing even more money than it currently does.
And there is the question of the $4.0 trillion in new money the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet says it has created. How does the Fed get rid of the $4.0 trillion? I don’t think it can. I don’t think the Federal Reserve will find anyone out there who can take the $4.0 trillion, mostly in bonds, off its hands.
What really threw me for a loop yesterday was that when the Federal Reserve said it would start printing $10.0 billion less in new money each month, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rallied 300 points. Yes, we … Read More
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