Archive for June, 2017

  • Lena Horne Born 100 Years Ago Today
    , June 30th, 2017 at 12:20 pm

    Lena Horne was born on June 30, 1917. Here she is with the Muppets:

  • Buffett Exercises His BofA Warrants
    , June 30th, 2017 at 9:16 am

    Six years ago, Bank of America was hurting for cash. In jumped Warren Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway. They agreed to buy $5 billion worth of BofA preferred stock yielding 6%. That brought in a cool $300 million annually to Berkshire.

    The deal also included warrants giving Buffett the option to buy 700 million shares of BAC common for $7.14 a piece. Bank of America just won approval to raise its dividend from 30 cents to 48 cents per share. That triggered Buffett to exercise his warrants. The current price of BAC is $24.32 per share. Not a bad deal!

    This move will make Buffett the largest shareholder of BofA. He’s also the largest shareholder of Wells Fargo.

  • May Personal Income and Spending
    , June 30th, 2017 at 8:58 am

    The day after the GDP report, the government reports on personal income and spending for the previous month.

    For May, personal income rose by 0.4% while spending was up by 0.1%. Here are the two lines going back a few years.

  • CWS Market Review – June 30, 2017
    , June 30th, 2017 at 7:08 am

    “All intelligent investing is value investing—acquiring more than you are paying for. You must value the business in order to value the stock.” – Charlie Munger

    We’re now at the halfway mark of the year, and so far, 2017 has been very good for investors. The S&P 500 has gained more than 8% and volatility is at historic lows. (Our Buy List is up over 9.6%.) Interest rates are still low, and the unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been in more than 15 years.

    Still, there are some problems just under the surface. Stocks aren’t as cheap as they used to be. Economic growth has been a lot weaker than in previous recoveries. First-quarter GDP growth was just revised up to 1.4% which isn’t that good. Plus, the Federal Reserve appears to be moving too quickly on interest rates.

    Since there hasn’t been much happening on Wall Street lately, I wanted to devote this issue to a mid-year check-up on all our Buy List stocks. I want you to know my thoughts on how each stock has been holding up. There’s still a lot of trading left in 2017, but it’s always good to stop and reflect on our positions. I won’t make my final decisions on which stocks stay and which stocks go until December, but here are some of my thoughts at the halfway mark.

    Our Buy List’s Mid-Year Check-Up

    AFLAC (AFL) continues to be one of my favorite financial stocks. I’ll warn you that the duck stock doesn’t make a lot of headlines. The shares started to break out a few weeks ago, which caught me by surprise. The Q1 earnings report was quite good, and I like their guidance. AFLAC is about as steady at they get.

    Alliance Data Systems (ADS) had been off to a slow start this year, but things changed after a very good Q1 earnings report. The company sees full-year earnings of $18.50 per share. I’d prefer to see that number raised but I’m not sure we’ll be so fortunate.

    Axalta Coating Systems (AXTA) is one of the new additions to this year’s Buy List. The coatings company is off to a decent start. Earnings for Q1 were above expectations. The company also bought Valspar’s North American Industrial Wood Coatings unit which helped Sherwin-Williams (SHW) complete its acquisition of Valspar. This is a good stock but not one of our best.

    Cerner (CERN) had a great first half. The healthcare IT stock is up nearly 40% and is our second-best performer on the year. Cerner was one of our worst stocks last year. I’m glad we held on! I’m almost always surprised by what our top performers are. The best part of having a diversified portfolio is that you don’t need to guess that. Cerner expects full-year earnings to range between $2.44 and $2.56 per share.

    Cinemark (CNK) is another new stock this year, but it’s been a laggard. Shares of CNK are almost exactly where they were at the start of the year. The cinema chain actually got off to a good start for 2017, but the shares have drifted lower since the spring. The earnings have been quite good. For now, I still like Cinemark.

    Cognizant Technology Solutions (CTSH) has had one of the most impressive turnarounds of any stock on the Buy List in recent years. Shares of the IT outsourcer were hammered last September when CTSH said that an internal investigation revealed that they may have violated the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Cognizant notified the SEC and DOJ. The same day, their president resigned. This is a good example of a company making the right moves and putting a bad situation behind them. CTSH recently initiated a small dividend. The company sees full-year earnings of at least $3.64 per share. I’m staying with CTSH.

    Continental Building Products (CBPX) is another new stock that’s basically unchanged this year. The shares dropped more than 4% on Thursday. I’m willing to give this one more time. I think CBPX can earn as much as $1.35 per share this year.

    CR Bard (BCR) is our big winner this year. The shares are up more than 40%. The company is moving ahead with its planned merger with Becton, Dickinson (BDX). The deal calls for BCR shareholders to get $222.93 per share in cash plus 0.5077 shares of BDX. That currently values BCR at $321 which is about a 2% premium to their current share price. I like Becton, Dickinson. In fact, BDX was on our Buy List from 2009 to 2011. For Buy List tracking purposes, when the deal is finalized, all of our “cash” will be used to buy shares of BDX. In other words, the entire BCR stock position will be replaced by a position of shares of BDX. I still haven’t decided if BDX will continue on next year’s Buy List.

    There’s not a lot to say about Danaher (DHR). It’s like a high-quality blue blazer in a gentleman’s closet. It never goes out of style. Danaher reiterated their full-year guidance of $3.85 to $3.95 per share. There’s no reason to worry about Danaher.

    Express Scripts (ESRX) is one of our troubling stocks this year. The mess with Anthem is more severe than I realized. Fortunately, the shares have recovered a bit recently. Frankly, ESRX is one I’m considering dropping at the end of the year. To be fair, I have another six months to make up my mind.

    Fiserv (FISV) is Fiserv. It’s a great company. That’s all I have to say.

    Heico (HEI) was our best stock last year, and it’s still holding up well in 2017. The aerospace supplier has increased full-year guidance twice this year. Frankly, the shares are pretty pricey here. I like the company more than I like the stock.

    Hormel Foods (HRL) is a surprising loser this year. The spam stock is only down 2.4% but it’s normally such a conservative stock. A number of consumer stocks have been down since Amazon (AMZN) announced its purchase of Whole Foods (WFM). When in doubt, I’m likely to stick by stocks that have raised their dividend for 51 straight years. I’m not worried about Hormel.

    Ingredion (INGR) has had a decent year but I was expecting a little more. They expect full-year earnings between $7.50 and $7.80 per share. I’m not ready to pull the plug on INGR just yet, but I’d like to see more good news.

    Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) continues to be a wonderful business. Barron’s recently said that Intercontinental Exchange is “misunderstood, underappreciated and underowned.” I have to agree. ICE owns the NYSE plus several other exchanges.

    JM Smucker (SJM) is one of our worst performers this year. The jelly stock has fallen back steadily since the earnings report a few weeks ago. For fiscal 2018, which ends in April, Smucker expects earnings to range between $7.85 and $8.05 per share. I’m not worried about Smucker just yet.

    I continue to like Microsoft (MSFT) a lot. It’s interesting how this stock seemed to come to life about a year ago (see below) even though its prospects, from my perspective, haven’t changed at all. We waited and waited for MSFT to move. Then, suddenly, it did. The shares have been rattled a bit lately along with other big-cap tech stocks. This is another stock that has a rich valuation. I could see us selling MSFT at the end of the year.

    Moody’s (MCO) had a very good Q1 earnings report. They also said they expect full-year earnings in the upper end of their range of $5.15 to $5.30 per share. This is a great business.

    Ross Stores (ROST) is our biggest loser YTD. I think this is a good example of a good company being pulled down by weakness in their sector. Every retail company, it seems, is being pulled down as Amazon is gradually takes over the world. So far, 300 retail stores have filed for bankruptcy in 2017. I’m standing by Ross. Just last month, the deep-discounter raised their full-year guidance to between $3.07 and $3.17 per share.

    RPM International (RPM) is one of our more boring stocks. It’s flat for the year. The company is basically solid but it’s having a rough year. This is an off-cycle stock; their quarter ended in May but the earnings report won’t come out until July 24. RPM expects full-year earnings to range between $2.57 and $2.67 per share. I want to see better news from RPM.

    Sherwin-Williams (SHW) is having a great year for us. SHW is now up 31% YTD. The company just completed its $11.3 billion acquisition of Valspar. The shares were dinged a bit on Thursday, but I’m not concerned. Sherwin-Williams is a very good stock.

    Signature Bank (SBNY) is our only bank stock. The shares took off after the election but have come back to earth since then. SBNY is surprisingly volatile, at least, in a relative sense. It’s usually one of the biggest movers on the Buy List each day. The good news is that the messy medallion business is mostly behind them. I still like SBNY but be warned—it moves around a lot.

    Shares of Snap-on (SNA) have been weak lately with other industrial stocks. I don’t see any reason to worry.

    Like Fiserv, Stryker (SYK) is Stryker. In recent months, we got a dividend increase and another good earnings report. Stryker pegs its full-year earnings between $6.35 and $6.45 per share. Look for another solid earnings report next month.

    Wabtec (WAB) started off as our worst stock this year. They had a terrible Q4 report. In the CWS Market Review from March 17, I wrote, “I’m not worried about Wabtec at all. Give this one some time. They’ll be back.” I was right. It’s gone from being a -7% loser to a +8% winner. We also got a 20% dividend increase a few weeks ago. I still like WAB. In fact, this week, I’m raising my Buy Below on Wabtec to $93 per share.

    That’s all for now. The stock market will close at 1 p.m. on Monday, and it will be closed all day on Tuesday, July 4, for Independence Day. Don’t expect a lot of trading on Monday. The June ISM report will come out that morning. The Fed’s minutes are on Wednesday. The June jobs report will be released on Friday morning. It’s possible that the unemployment rate will drop to its lowest point since 2001. Be sure to keep checking the blog for daily updates. I’ll have more market analysis for you in the next issue of CWS Market Review!

    – Eddy

  • Morning News: June 30, 2017
    , June 30th, 2017 at 7:04 am

    Euro-Area Inflation Slows as Draghi Urges Prudence in Exit

    Modi Set to Launch India’s Biggest Tax Reform Amid Protests

    U.S. Targets Chinese Bank, Company, Two Individuals Over North Korea

    Solar Moves in a Curious Direction Since Trump Quit Paris Deal: Up

    All-Clear for Big Banks Raises Fears of a Return to Risk

    Goldman Commodity Analysts Ask: How Did We Get It So Wrong?

    Hacks Raise Fear Over N.S.A.’s Hold On Cyberweapons

    Rite Aid Crashes

    Nike Is Planning to Start Selling Directly Through Amazon

    Micron Earnings Show Chipmakers Benefiting From Restraint

    Setback for Murdoch in $15 Billion Sky Takeover

    What Amazon Wants From Whole Foods: Data on Shopping Habits

    Popular Cancer Pill Goes Generic, Yet Patients’ Costs Stay High

    Howard Lindzon: Rotation, Rotation, Rotation…The Big Boom Rages On

    Michael Batnick: Split Brain: Understanding Cause and Effect

    Be sure to follow me on Twitter.

  • Jump in the VIX
    , June 29th, 2017 at 1:38 pm

    Today looks to be one of the largest VIX increases on record.

  • Q1 GDP Revised to 1.4%
    , June 29th, 2017 at 8:59 am

    This morning, the government revised first-quarter real GDP growth up to 1.4%. Last month, they revised it from 0.7% to 1.2%. The economy didn’t do well during Q1, but at least it’s not quite as bad as initially thought.

    Here’s a look at quarterly GDP growth going back a few years:

    I’m struck by how rapidly GDP growth has decelerated, meaning the rate of growth has slowed down. Beginning at the turn of the century, the rate of growth has been markedly slower. The Atlanta Fed now sees GDP growth coming in at 2.9%.

  • Morning News: June 29, 2017
    , June 29th, 2017 at 7:10 am

    The Pound and the Euro Jump as Carney and Draghi Appear Hawkish

    Robocalypse Now? Central Bankers Argue Whether Automation Will Kill Jobs

    OPEC, Oil Prices and Disruptive Innovation

    ‘Hammer, Hammer, Hammer’: Canada Lobbies U.S. Before NAFTA Talks

    Banks Unleash Surprisingly Big Payouts After Fed’s Stress Tests

    Trump Attacks the ‘AmazonWashingtonPost’ Over Taxes

    Amazon Is Bringing Back `Prime Day’ on July 11

    Samsung Invests $1.9 Billion in U.S. Ahead of Trump-Moon Summit

    Blue Apron Slashes Share Price For Its I.P.O.

    Staples to Sell for $6.9 Billion, and Its New Owner Has an Uphill Battle

    Buffett’s Berkshire on Verge of Becoming BofA’s Top Shareholder

    China Is About to Bury Elon Musk in Batteries

    Shkreli’s Lawyer Calls Him `Strange’ But Berates Fraud Case Against Him

    Jeff Miller: What Are The Limits of Technical Analysis?

    Josh Brown: Be Good…Just Not Too Good

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  • Atrion Update
    , June 28th, 2017 at 3:23 pm

    In January, I highlighted the stock of Atrion (ATRI). I said that it’s been a spectacular performer and that no one on Wall Street follows the stock.

    They describe themselves as follows:

    Atrion Corporation is a leading supplier of medical devices and components to niche markets in the health care and medical industry. Atrion’s proprietary products, ranging from cardiovascular and ophthalmology products to fluid delivery devices, are sold to end-users, distributors and other manufacturers worldwide. As a developer and manufacturer of a diverse range of products, Atrion stays on the forefront of technology and manufacturing with products that meet the needs of its targeted markets.

    ATRI went from $4 per share in 1989 to $459 when I wrote about it in January.

    Well…it’s up another 43% since then.

  • Morning News: June 28, 2017
    , June 28th, 2017 at 7:01 am

    Ransomware Cyberattack Goes Global

    Maersk Shuts Down Some Systems to Help Contain Cyber Attack

    Greece on Target to Return to Markets, Exit Bailout

    Google Faces Years of EU Oversight on Top of Record Antitrust Fine

    The June Curse Strikes Again

    Toshiba Slaps A Billion Dollar Lawsuit On Western Digital

    Nvidia’s Automotive Domino Effect

    Sprint’s Desperate Ways

    Philips to Buy Cardiac Firm Spectranetics for $1.7 Billion

    Nestle, Under Pressure, Plans Buyback and Perhaps Acquisitions

    Turmoil Continues at Pandora Media as Chief Executive Resigns

    Madoff Settlements Reach $12 Billion With New Accords

    Millennials Like to Eat Out

    Cullen Roche: The Right Way to Use Economics as an Investing Tool

    Howard Lindzon: Price, People, Patterns…Repeat!

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