Posts Tagged ‘earnings growth’
Earlier this month, Jeremy Siegal, a well-known “bull” on CNBC, took to the airwaves to predict the Dow Jones Industrial Average would go beyond 18,000 by the end of this year. Acknowledging overpriced valuations on the key stock indices are being ignored, he argued historical valuations should be taken with a grain of salt and nothing more. (Source: CNBC, July 2, 2014.)
Sadly, it’s not only Jeremy Siegal who has this point of view. Many other stock advisors who were previously bearish have thrown in the towel and turned bullish towards key stock indices—regardless of what the historical stock market valuation tools are saying.
We are getting to the point where today’s mentality about key stock indices—the sheer bullish belief stocks will only move higher—has surpassed the optimism that was prevalent in the stock market in 2007, before stocks crashed.
At the very core, when you pull away the stock buyback programs and the Fed’s tapering of the money supply and interest rates, there is one main factor that drives key stock indices higher or lower: corporate earnings. So, for key stock indices to continue to make new highs, corporate profits need to rise.
But there are two blatant threats to companies in the key stock indices and the profits they generate.
First, the U.S. economy is very, very weak. While we saw negative gross domestic product (GDP) growth in the first quarter of this year, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) just downgraded its U.S. economic projection. The IMF now expects the U.S. economy to grow by just 1.7% in 2014. (Source: International Monetary Fund, July 24, 2014.) One more … Read More
While business conditions are pretty good in the domestic oil and gas business, they’re also holding up very well in the railroad sector.
If railroad companies and related services are old economy, they are still important economic benchmarks and they continue to be great businesses producing excellent returns to stockholders.
Union Pacific Corporation (UNP) is an important company to follow, even if you aren’t interested in owning a position. What the company reports about its business conditions is material and helpful in advancing your own market view. Union Pacific reports on Thursday.
Norfolk Southern Corporation (NSC) just hit an all-time record-high on the stock market. This time last year, the stock was around $77.00 a share; now, it’s close to $107.00.
CSX Corporation (CSX) is not as large in terms of market capitalization as Norfolk Southern or Union Pacific, but it is still a $31.0-billion company with extensive operations in the eastern United States and Canada.
Its second quarter of 2014 was a record quarter with sales growing seven percent to $3.2 billion on an eight-percent gain in volume.
Earnings growth was more modest, coming in at $529 million, or $0.53 per diluted share, compared to $521 million, or $0.51 per diluted share, for second quarter 2013. But management expects margin expansion going into 2015, and the Street wasn’t fazed.
Like so many other large-caps, the company is buying its own shares, including some $131 million worth during the most recent quarter.
By April of next year, the company will have spent $1.0 billion on share repurchases over the last two years.
Notably, CSX saw double-digit volume and revenue gains … Read More
The numbers are in from Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) and they’re good. The position sold off on the news, which is no big surprise considering how well it’s done since the beginning of the year.
Johnson & Johnson is still mostly a pharmaceutical play, but it won’t likely be able to produce the same growth results it experienced from its hepatitis C drug in its most recent quarter.
The company adjusted its earnings-per-share guidance slightly higher and lowered its full-year sales guidance also just slightly.
The second quarter saw the company produce sales growth of nine percent to approximately $19.5 billion and adjusted earnings growth (excluding one-time items) of about 12% to $1.66 a share, which handily beat Wall Street consensus. (See “Why This Institutional Favorite Tops My List of Stocks.”)
While I do think that second-quarter earnings from blue chips will be pretty decent, it’s not unreasonable at all for these positions to sell off on the news. Stocks have come a long way, even just since the beginning of this year.
The stock market needs a break, or at the very least, another material price consolidation. It would be a healthy development for the long-run trend.
Another company that just reported a decent second quarter was CSX Corporation (CSX), which is the biggest railroad in the eastern U.S. market.
Management cited broad-based economic momentum in its rail freight business. The company’s numbers basically met consensus with second-quarter sales growth of 6.5% to $3.24 billion and earnings of $529 million, or $0.53 per share, up a penny from consensus.
The company plans to increase its capital spending … Read More
One of my favorite companies for long-term, income-seeking investors is Johnson & Johnson (JNJ).
While pharmaceuticals are the company’s anchor, its other business lines help with cash flow and dividend increases.
Investors have bid Johnson & Johnson shares tremendously in recent years, and it’s difficult to consider buying the company now, as the position is up another 10 points since March.
But Johnson & Johnson is the kind of stock income-seeking investors should keep an eye on for more attractive entry points, even though they may not come around all that often. The most recent possible entry points were in late September of last year and late January of this year.
My expectations for a mature company like this is for total annual sales to grow by the mid-single digits, with earnings growth and dividends producing an approximate 10% total annual return.
With a 10% annual return on investment, your money doubles every seven years.
Johnson & Johnson is typically priced at a slight premium to the S&P 500, but the company has earned its higher valuation by providing relatively consistent growth, reliable corporate outlooks, and a strong track record of dividend increases.
The company’s stock chart is featured below:
Chart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com
Johnson & Johnson has typically been a good performer over the long term, but just like any large-cap, it can sit and produce no capital gains for long periods of time.
The position broke out at the beginning of 2013 after a number of years of modest capital gains. Institutional investors, wanting the earnings safety and solid dividends that the company provided, bid the stock … Read More
Oracle Corporation (ORCL) announced a quarterly revenue gain of three percent, but Wall Street was looking for more and the company’s share price retreated on its earnings results.
If it weren’t for the Federal Reserve, we probably would be in a correction, if not a consolidation, which has been the broader market’s go-to trend when it should have retreated further.
It’s such a mixed bag out there both in terms of economic news and corporate reporting.
While I think dividend-paying blue chips have the advantage going into the second-quarter earnings season, if the Federal Reserve wasn’t so extremely sensitive to Wall Street, this market would probably be a lot lower.
Even the Fed’s recent language is assuaging. If this market had to operate on its own (with free market interest rates and liquidity), things would be a lot different.
But this isn’t the environment we live in. Economic history clearly supports the scenario that it doesn’t pay to fight the Fed and that Wall Street will move mountains when it has Fed certainty.
Lots of investors bemoan the quarterly earnings cycle or game, but I don’t. I want to know a public company’s up-to-date financial results as frequently as possible.
While earnings are managed, over time, a business can’t manufacture success unless it’s a fraud (which, sadly, does happen).
Big companies have the operational leverage and the cash to keep boosting their earnings per share. Oracle’s latest financial results were uninspiring, and while recognizing that this is a very mature business with growing competition in the cloud, the position advanced a material 10 points since last June—this seems so overdone…. Read More
Don’t buy into the notion that there’s economic growth in America!
We’ve already seen U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) “unexpectedly” decline in the first quarter of 2014, and now there are signs of another contraction in the current quarter. (The technical definition of a recession is two negative quarters of GDP—we’re halfway there!)
As you know, consumer spending is the biggest part of our U.S. economy, accounting for about two-thirds of our GDP. And consumers are pulling back.
Consumer spending in the U.S. economy declined 0.26% in April from March. This was the first monthly decline since December of 2013. (Source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis web site, last accessed June 4, 2014.)
And while consumer spending is one indicator that suggests a recession may soon be coming into play in the U.S. economy, there’s also one very interesting phenomenon occurring that suggests the very same.
The Federal Reserve is serious about pulling back on its quantitative easing program. And in anticipation of the Fed pulling back on money printing (when it first indicated it would start tapering), the yields on bonds shot up.
But since 2014 began, and the Federal Reserve actually started to taper, the yield on the long-term 30-year U.S. bond has declined more than 12%.
Chart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com
If the Fed is pulling back on printing (it has said it wants to be out of the money printing business by the end of this year), why are bond yields declining?
From a fundamental point of view, it suggests the market anticipates very slow growth for the U.S. economy ahead.
Dear reader, the perfect … Read More
Dear reader, yesterday we got the news that the U.S. economy “unexpectedly” contracted by one percent in the first three months of this year. This is the first time since the first quarter of 2011 that the U.S. experienced negative growth!
This news should come as no surprise to my readers, as I’ve been writing for months how my research shows the U.S. economy is slowing. Most obviously, U.S. companies had a terrible first quarter in respect to earnings growth. In respect to revenue growth, it’s nonexistent.
So why is the stock market rising? Well, it’s not really rising; it’s an illusion. Yes, we keep hearing in the news how the stock market is breaking to new highs. But if we look at the Dow Jones Industrial Average, it’s up only one percent so far in 2014. The Russell 2000 Index (a broader gauge of the market) is actually down 2.5% for the year.
And the money going into buying stocks is actually collapsing. In the first five months of this year, the volume on the S&P 500 was the lowest since 2007!
When you have a stock market rising on weaker and weaker trading volume, it’s a very dangerous stock market. In fact, in the last two months (April and May), there hasn’t been a day when volume on the Dow Jones Industrial Average was more than 500 million shares. In 2013, there were only seven days when the volume on the Dow Jones Industrial Average was less than 500 million!
The rising (or should I say “holding-its-own”) stock market has convinced the media, economists, government, and investors that … Read More
Yesterday was an amazing day for the markets.
Gold bullion hit a three-month low despite: 1) inflation rising rapidly in North America; and 2) the Chinese buying half of this year’s world gold production.
The stock market was up to a new high despite: 1) corporate insiders selling like mad; 2) corporate earnings growth collapsing; 3) the amount of money investors have borrowed to buy stocks standing at a record high; and 4) the economy stinking.
In the words of Robert Appel, my esteemed colleague, the following best describes what is happening with the markets:
“Time to take those ruby slippers out of the closet because we are definitely on our way to the ‘Wizard of Oz’ show once again. There is a view that the government and its ‘special contractor’ (the Fed) have things under control and we are now at the beginning of the biggest stock bull in history. We don’t buy that theory for a minute but we do acknowledge it exists.
“Those opposing this view—an ever-declining number—suggest that if inflation were defined as it was when the greatest economic minds of our age were still alive—the U.S. economy would be in big trouble. The recent corporate earnings wipeout in the retail sector was one of the most under-reported financial stories of the year.
“Interestingly (this is too bizarre to make up) the only major upside surprise in the retail sector in respect to first quarter earnings reports was Tiffany’s…where they can barely keep up with demand. No surprise for our readers as the ‘gap’ between rich and poor under QE [quantitative easing] has only intensified. QE … Read More
There’s not a lot of value around in this stock market, and it’s difficult to be a buyer when a lot of stocks have already done extremely well the last few years. However, this isn’t the case for all stocks.
One company I’ve looked at before in this column is Chart Industries, Inc. (GTLS) out of Garfield Heights, Ohio.
This stock has come way off its high on slower-than-expected business growth. But this is still a very good business with barriers to entry and good long-term fundamentals.
The company, which manufactures storage solutions for hydrocarbons and industrial gases, just got another contract with a Chinese energy customer. The company will build and commission 50 permanent liquefied natural gas (LNG) fuel stations within the next 30 months. Management estimates the sales will be worth upwards of $35.0 million.
Chart Industries was doing extremely well on the stock market up until last October. The position hit $130.00 a share, but is now trading around $75.00.
Even if recent results didn’t quite live up to expectations, this is still a growth business and the company has a very bright future in its specific industry.
Another enterprise that’s come off its high and is still a growing company is A. O. Smith Corporation (AOS), which is based in Milwaukee.
This business manufactures water heaters. On the surface, that might not seem like the greatest of enterprises, but it actually is. The company’s business strategy was founded in the domestic water heater market, but it now has a growing presence in China and sales are gaining at a very good clip.
The first quarter of … Read More
A lot of stocks are rolling over, breaking their 50- and 200-day simple moving averages (MAs). This is a tired market that could very well consolidate or correct right into the fourth quarter.
And the economic data has been softer, as well. Throw in geopolitical tensions with Russia and we have the makings of a material price retrenchment.
There’s still resilience, however, in some of the most important stock market indices. Stocks composing the Dow Jones Transportation Average are holding up extremely well, especially compared to the Russell 2000, the NASDAQ Biotechnology index, and the NASDAQ Composite index itself.
While the main market indices are mostly flat on the year, I don’t think investors can expect any capital gains until perhaps the fourth quarter.
From my perspective, relative price strength in the Dow Jones industrials, transportation stocks, and most of the S&P 500 index means that the longer-run uptrend remains intact.
With speculative fervor still coming out of initial public offerings (IPOs) and select biotechnology stocks, this action is an indicator of a tired market that’s long in the tooth, as investors are clearly less willing to speculate on those stocks that don’t offer income or relative safety in their earnings.
Risk aversion won’t kill a secular bull market. But it does mean that risk-capital opportunities are a lot less plentiful. Currently, among speculative stocks, one of the only sectors still experiencing decent price action is oil and gas drilling and exploration.
This is still a market that I think favors existing winners—blue chips, in particular. (See “Top Stocks for the Coming Correction.”)
These are the stocks to … Read More
The spot price of oil has pulled back to the $100.00-per-barrel mark, but oil stocks are holding up extremely well and the price strength is almost across the board, from related services to the big integrated producers.
Earnings expectations for many within the oil group have been going up for this year and next, while valuations, even among fast-growing producers, aren’t generally overdone. Earnings have caught up to share prices over the last couple of quarters.
Not every investor wants to be in oil. But for those who do, the sector can be a key component of an equity portfolio. There’s a lot of income and capital gain potential with related businesses and plenty of options on how to play the industry.
One junior energy producer we’ve been looking at in these pages since early 2013 is Kodiak Oil & Gas Corp. (KOG). This is a highly liquid Bakken oil play and institutional favorite. The company reports after the market closes this Thursday; its news is material for oil and gas speculators.
Kodiak has a very good track record of generating significant production and financial growth. In the fourth quarter of 2013, the company’s oil and gas sales soared to $266.5 million, representing a comparable gain of 104% over the fourth quarter of 2012.
Average production of barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd) grew to 36,100 in the fourth quarter of 2013, basically doubling the average boepd in the comparable quarter.
Kodiak’s total oil and gas sales in all of 2013 were $905 million for a gain of 121% over 2012. Earnings growth was less robust, as the company … Read More
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has lowered its growth forecast for the global economy. It says the world economy will now grow by 3.6% in 2014 and 3.9% in 2015; it grew at three percent in 2013. (Source: International Monetary Fund, April 8, 2014.)
I see the IMF forecast on global growth as being far too optimistic. In fact, I think we’d be lucky to get three percent growth in the global economy this year. Key indicators I follow suggest demand in the global economy is close to outright collapsing.
Consider the chart below of the Baltic Dry Index (BDI). This index tracks the shipping prices of dry goods in the global economy. If it declines, it suggests global demand is declining. The BDI has plunged more than 48% since the beginning of the year, pointing to slow growth for the global economy ahead.
Manufacturing is another indicator of demand in the global economy that we follow. If manufacturing activity increases, it means demand is increasing and that consumers are buying more. Sadly, global manufacturing is suggesting an economic slowdown is the most likely scenario ahead.
The JPMorgan Global Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index declined to its lowest level in five months in March. (Source: Markit, April 1, 2014.)
Adding to the misery, most economic hubs are telling the same tale.
The eurozone is still in trouble; the European Central Bank is contemplating its own quantitative easing program as Italy just reported its highest unemployment rate ever recorded. China is pumping out weak economic data. Japan’s economic slowdown isn’t taking any break despite the central bank … Read More
Those who follow the stock market closely know that on days when we hear the chairwoman of the Federal Reserve speak and she mentions something about “easing” or how the central bank will continue to use its “extraordinary measures” for a long period of time, the stock market jumps.
I’ve talked about this phenomenon many times in these pages. Another example of this happened on March 31, when the Fed chairwoman spoke in Chicago. Please see the chart below. It’s a minute stock chart of the S&P 500. I’ve circled a rough area around the time when Janet Yellen spoke.
As she spoke more of that “easing” talk, the stock market jumped, as usual.
So it has come to the point where the stock market rises when it hears the Fed will keep interest rates artificially low for a prolonged period of time and when a poor jobs report comes out (like last Friday morning’s), saying jobs have been created in spite of the fact that there is a heavy concentration of jobs growth in low-paying sectors and millions of people have given up looking for work.
In other words, we have reached the point where the stock market takes any news as a reason to move higher; this is characteristic of a market top.
When we look at the fundamentals of the stock market, we see companies in the S&P 500 are using financial engineering to boost per-share earnings. These companies have bought back their shares and have been cutting costs to boost profits as revenue growth just isn’t there anymore.
The proof? In the … Read More
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