• 22 Jun
    Is NWL’s stock depressed, or undervalued?

    Is NWL’s stock depressed, or undervalued?

    One of the things that has marked this bull market since 2009 has been the role the Federal Reserve has played in facilitating the economy. Even as the Fed has begun raising rates while also working to reduce its balance sheet, it has made a point of taking a gradual, incremental approach that is designed to strike a balance between encouraging growth and preventing it from going too fast. 

    One of the normal benchmarks the Fed and most analysts use to gauge economic activity is the Consumer Price Index (CPI). The complete index covers all items that you and I purchase, including food and energy products. Since those items – groceries, gasoline, and so on – tend to be less cyclical in nature, a second measurement excludes those items. The Fed has previously indicated it is using annualized growth in this number of 2% on average as its target for healthy economic growth. As of the last report, published in May, CPI (less food and energy) growth for the trailing twelve months was 2.2% – somewhat higher than the Fed’s target, but generally within the range it has indicated it is willing to keep working with. The implication is that the economy is growing at a modest pace that should be sustainable for the time being.

    There are always risks to economic growth, no matter what the numbers say. Geopolitical issues have a way of increasing concerns and worries in a way that can bleed into consumer habits and trends. Trade tensions between the U.S. and China, Europe, Mexica and Canada could certainly result in an increase in the prices of practically every type of consumer goods, no matter how much the Trump administration asserts that tariffs imposed up to this point are being intentionally structured to shield consumers.



    In the case of Newell Brands Inc. (NWL), the stock’s price trend over the last year is also symptomatic of additional risks tied to the company. Over the past year, sales have declined while earnings have been flat. The trend for both of these items is on the decline, however, as earnings in the most recent quarter decreased 50% versus the quarter prior to it, while sales decreased by more than 19% over the same period. Not only is this pattern in direct contrast to the generalized economic growth I just described using the CPI, it also runs counter to the industry trend, where earnings have generally grown. NWL’s stock has suffered, declining from a high near to $55 in June of last year to the stock’s current price around $26.

    Another indication to the average investor that all may not be great at NWL is the fact that activist investor Carl Icahn several months ago began quietly acquiring a large enough stake in the company to begin agitating for change. That led the company to forge an agreement with Icahn and fellow Starboard Value, an activist hedge fund, that allowed them to nominate five of their own people to Newell’s board. Activist investors generally get involved with a business when they see opportunities to change the business model, and that can be a good thing; but it generally doesn’t happen when everything is going well.

    Value-oriented investors can look to a few critical fundamental items that could indicate the stock is a very good bargain right now; and frankly that is part of the reason that investors like Icahn and Starboard get involved. If you think these activist investors can be successful in transforming NWL’s business, getting in right now could be a good opportunity. A successful turnaround, however is never a given, and the result they are working for could require a very long-term perspective on your investment. If you’re looking to make a quick buck with a profitable short-term trade, NWL probably represents a high-risk, low-probability investment right now.



    Fundamental and Value Profile

    Newell Brands Inc. is a marketer of consumer and commercial products. The Company’s segments include Writing, Home Solutions, Commercial Products, Baby & Parenting, Branded Consumables, Consumer Solutions, Outdoor Solutions and Process Solutions. Its products are marketed under a portfolio of brands, including Paper Mate, Sharpie, Dymo, Expo, Parker, Elmer’s, Coleman, Jostens, Marmot, Rawlings, Mr. Coffee, Rubbermaid Commercial Products, Graco, Baby Jogger, NUK, Calphalon, Rubbermaid, Contigo, First Alert, Waddington and Yankee Candle. Writing segment consists of the Writing and Creative Expression business. Home Solutions segment designs, manufactures or sources and distributes a range of consumer products under various brand names. Commercial Products segment designs, manufactures or sources and distributes cleaning and refuse products. Its Baby & Parenting segment designs and distributes infant and juvenile products. NWL has a current market cap of $12.8 billion.

    Earnings and Sales Growth: As already observed, over the last twelve months, earnings were flat, while sales declined. Most analysts forecast a further decline in sales and earnings through 2018 of about 3 to 3.5%.

    Free Cash Flow: NWL has generally healthy free cash flow of a little over $418 million over the last twelve months. This number has decreased since the beginning of 2017, when it was a little above $1.8 billion, which could be taken as an additional red flag.

    Debt to Equity: the company’s debt to equity ratio is .68, a conservative, generally manageable number that has declined from a little above 1 in the middle of 2016. The company’s balance sheet indicates their operating profits are more than sufficient to service their debt.

    Dividend: NWL pays an annual dividend of $.92 per share, which translates to an annual yield of 3.49% at the stock’s current price.

    Price/Book Ratio: there are a lot of ways to measure how much a stock should be worth; but one of the simplest methods that I like uses the stock’s Book Value, which for NWL is $29.20 per share. At the stock’s current price, that translates to a Price/Book Ratio of .9. A Price/Book ratio below is usually a good sign for a value investor, and comparing it to its historical average of 4.4 suggests that the long-term opportunity could be enticing. A rally to above $100 per share, which would have to happen for the stock to approach its historical Price/Book average is unlikely given that the stock has never risen above about $56 per share; but it does suggest those historical highs are within reach. If you believe in Icahn’s and Starboard’s methods for “enhancing shareholder value,” this is as clear an indication of where the opportunity lies as any.



    Technical Profile

    Here’s a look at the stock’s latest technical chart.

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    Current Price Action/Trends and Pivots: The diagonal red line traces the stock’s downward trend since July of last year. While that trend hasn’t reversed, it has lost its bearish momentum, since the stock has been hovering in a very narrow range since February, with support in the $25 range and resistance around $28 per share. The interesting thing about sideways trends like the one illustrated by the horizontal, dotted red and blue lines is that the longer they last, the more likely a major trend reversal becomes. For the impatient, short-term investor, that doesn’t inspire a lot of enthusiasm, but for long-term oriented investors looking for bargain opportunities, this is a very attractive technical setup.

    Near-term Keys: The bullish case is pretty simple to make. A break to $29 per share will require significant upward pressure and momentum; if and when it happens, the stock could easily move into the $39 to $40 range within a matter of weeks. That break would mark the earliest sign of a major trend reversal and would provide an optimal bullish entry point for trend or swing traders. If you are a value-oriented investor with a long-term time frame, and don’t mind waiting for the break, or even to endure a little more negative price pressure in favor of the long-term view, this could be an excellent time to consider taking a position. If the stock breaks its support in the $25 range, there is about $7 of downside risk to be aware of before the stock is likely to find additional support. That could also translate to a decent short-term opportunity for a short sale or a bearish put option trade.


  • 21 Jun
    STX is up 37% for the year. Will it keep going?

    STX is up 37% for the year. Will it keep going?

    Investing in the year 2018 has been markedly different than it was in 2017. Where it seemed like last year you practically couldn’t miss the mark – everything was going up – this year has seen a lot of uncertainty bring volatility back into the marketplace. A lot of well-known stocks have been fortunate to tread water, and if the last week is any indication there could be more pain ahead.

    Seagate Technology PLC (STX) has been one of the rare exceptions, a star performer that is hovering just a few dollars below multi-year highs. After hitting a low point in October of last year around $30 per share, the stock has rallied to just below $59 as of this writing, peaking in April around $62 before sliding back to its current price. Perhaps that 60%-plus performance since that low point is fitting, given that the stock endured some pretty wide swings in price during 2017 to finish the year at a modest net gain of about 8%.

    Even as trade war fears roil the markets and spook investors, technology has generally remained one of the most in-favor sectors of the market this year. That has certainly played into STX’s favor, and of course that momentum could continue into the foreseeable future, especially as investors gravitate towards stocks with limited perceived exposure to tariff-exposed regions of the world. That could lead investors to keep buying STX, which is headquartered in California despite being incorporated in Ireland. There is some risk, however, since the last quarterly report indicates that only 29% of the company’s revenues come from U.S. sales. There is pretty big exposure to Asia, with 54% of revenues coming from that region (a deeper breakdown by country isn’t provided) and 17% from Europe. All told, approximately 71% of the company’s total revenues have come from regions that are being directly targeted by U.S. tariffs. I think there is far more downside risk than upside potential for STX right now, which I’ll outline below.



    Fundamental and Value Profile

    Seagate Technology public limited company is a provider of electronic data storage technology and solutions. The Company’s principal products are hard disk drives (HDDs). In addition to HDDs, it produces a range of electronic data storage products, including solid state hybrid drives, solid state drives, peripheral component interconnect express (PCIe) cards and serial advanced technology architecture (SATA) controllers. Its storage technology portfolio also includes storage subsystems and high performance computing solutions. Its products are designed for applications in enterprise servers and storage systems, client compute applications and client non-compute applications. It designs, fabricates and assembles various components found in its disk drives, including read/write heads and recording media. Its design and manufacturing operations are based on technology platforms that are used to produce various disk drive products that serve multiple data storage applications and markets. STX has a current market cap of $16.8 billion.

    Earnings and Sales Growth: Over the last twelve months, earnings increased by almost 33% while sales grew only modestly, at about 5%. It’s hard to grow earnings faster than sales, and in the long term isn’t really sustainable; even so, I generally take this as a positive sign that management is effective at maximizing their business operations.

    Free Cash Flow: STX has generally healthy free cash flow of a little over $1.5 billion over the last twelve months. This number has increased from a little under $1 billion in the last quarter of 2016.

    Debt to Equity: the company’s debt to equity ratio is 3.17, a high number despite its decrease from a little over 4 in the quarter previous. The company’s balance sheet indicates their operating profits are more than sufficient to service their conservative debt levels, with healthy cash and liquid assets available as well.

    Dividend: STX pays an annual dividend of $2.52 per share, which translates to an annual yield of 4.3% at the stock’s current price. Not only is that remarkable for a tech company, most of which don’t pay any dividend at all, but this is also well above the industry average.

    Price/Book Ratio: there are a lot of ways to measure how much a stock should be worth; but one of the simplest methods that I like uses the stock’s Book Value, which for STX is $4.75 per share. At the stock’s current price, that translates to a Price/Book Ratio of 12.32. This is as clear a sign to me as any other of the stock’s overpriced status, since the stock’s historical average is only 6.0, and the industry average is only 4.5. The implication here is that the stock is priced more than twice as high as it should be under normal market conditions. Very few value-based investors would be willing to consider buying this stock at a price of more than $28 to $30 per share.



    Technical Profile

    Here’s a look at the stock’s latest technical chart.

     

    Current Price Action/Trends and Pivots: The diagonal green line traces the stock’s upward trend since October of last year. That trend has been providing solid support for the stock for the past month; however since March the stock has held within a range at the top of the trend. Support is in the $55 range, with resistance around $60. The stock is currently sitting approximately the middle of that range right now.

    Near-term Keys: The stock’s all-time high was reached late in 2014 at around $66.50 per share, which implies that even if the stocks breaks above its current range, its near-term upside is very limited. On the other hand, a break below $60 would probably not find immediate support until somewhere between $50 and $52 per share. Beyond that point, the stock’s 52-week low around $30 is not out of the question – especially if the company’s revenues and profits are negatively affected by extended trade tensions between the U.S. and its trade partners.


    By Thomas Moore Investiv Daily Technology
  • 20 Jun
    Will DKS break out, or break down?

    Will DKS break out, or break down?

    At the end of May, Dick’s Sporting Goods (DKS) released its latest quarterly earnings report, and the numbers soundly beat Wall Street’s expectations. That spurred the stock, which had been mostly range-bound since the beginning of the year, to break out in a big way, with an overnight move of more than 26% to around $38 per share. More →

  • 19 Jun
    PEP is up more than 10% in the last month; is there any upside left?

    PEP is up more than 10% in the last month; is there any upside left?

    Over the last few years, it seems that an ongoing discussion is the trend away from sugary soft drinks to healthier alternatives – or to snazzier, caffeine-laden energy beverages. That’s a little ironic when you look at the direction of PEP’s long-term trend, which is clearly up over the last five years, but has been showing uncertainty for the past year. More recently, the stock has been rallying from a intermediate, downward trend low at around $96 in early May to about $106 per share. Bullish investors will almost certainly be tempted to look at that rally as a strong indication of a trend reversal, and there do appear to be some signs that could be the case. There are other indicators, however that point in the opposite direction, meaning that bullish investors should be very cautious right now about jumping whole-heartedly into long stock or call option trades.

    PEP is a stock that, besides some of the elements that I’ll outline below, could be negatively impacted by trade tariffs between the U.S. and its trade partners. The recent imposition of tariffs by the Trump administration on steel and aluminum means that one of this business’ core costs is likely to increase for as long as tariffs and trade tensions continue. I think that this is also an example of a business that won’t simply absorb that increase into their existing cost structure, choosing instead to test consumer’s willingness to pay more for their products.



    Fundamental and Value Profile

    PepsiCo, Inc. is a global food and beverage company. The Company’s portfolio of brands includes Frito-Lay, Gatorade, Pepsi-Cola, Quaker and Tropicana. The Company operates through six segments: Frito-Lay North America (FLNA), Quaker Foods North America (QFNA), North America Beverages (NAB), Latin America, Europe Sub-Saharan Africa (ESSA), and Asia, Middle East and North Africa (AMENA). The FLNA segment includes its branded food and snack businesses in the United States and Canada. The QFNA segment includes its cereal, rice, pasta and other branded food businesses in the United States and Canada. The NAB segment includes its beverage businesses in the United States and Canada. The Latin America segment includes its beverage, food and snack businesses in Latin America. The ESSA segment includes its beverage, food and snack businesses in Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa. The AMENA segment includes its beverage, food and snack businesses in Asia, Middle East and North Africa. PEP has a current market cap of $149.4 billion.

    • Earnings and Sales Growth: Over the last twelve months, sales and earnings both increased only slightly. EPS growth was a little over 2% while sales growth was just higher than 4%. This is reflective, I believe of the general consumer trend I referred to earlier, with a large number of consumer shifting their beverage preferences away from traditional soft drinks.
    • Free Cash Flow: PEP has generally healthy free cash flow of a little over $6 billion over the last twelve months. This number has declined from a mid-2016 high of $ billion, and dropped sharply from the last quarter of 2017 from $7.2 billion. A confirmation of this as a generally negative measurement comes from net income versus revenues, which was 10.7% in September of 2017 but is now just over 7% as the most recent quarter.
    • Debt to Equity: the company’s debt to equity ratio is 2.91, which is high and by most indications would be a warning sign; however it should also be noted that this is pretty consistent with the Beverages industry. The company’s balance sheet indicates operating profits are adequate to service their debt, with more than adequate cash and liquid assets to supplement any operating shortfall.
    • Dividend: PEP pays an annual dividend of $3.71 per share, which translates to an annual yield of 3.5% at the stock’s current price.
    • Price/Book Ratio: there are a lot of ways to measure how much a stock should be worth; but one of the simplest methods that I like uses the stock’s Book Value, which for PEP is $7.75 per share. At the stock’s current price, that translates to a Price/Book Ratio of 13.63. This is almost twice as high as the industry average, which is 7.7, and almost 50% above the stock’s historical average of 9.2. A move to par with the historical average would put the stock’s price just above $70 per share – more than 30% below its current price, and at levels the stock hasn’t seen since late 2012.



    Technical Profile

    Here’s a look at the stock’s latest technical chart.

    • Current Price Action/Trends and Pivots: PEP’s rally for the last month is pretty easy to see, and contrasted against the strength of the intermediate downward trend I’ve indicated with the diagonal orange line, would normally look like a breakout and subsequent trend reversal. The diagonal red line, however, traces the stock’s long-term downward trend, which has acted as strong resistance over the last couple of days and could be the mechanism that halts the stock’s short-term momentum. Near-term support (or downside) is back around $96, where the rally started last month, while a break the red trend line, to about $108 could give the room to to only around $113 per share before it finds its nearest support. From the standpoint of reward: risk, for a bullish trader that is only about $7 of upside potential versus nearly $10 of downside risk – hardly worth taking a bullish trade right now.
    • Near-term Keys: I expect geopolitical concerns could continue to weigh on this stock for the time being. If the stock manages to push to $108, I would look for positive momentum to break through the $113 before looking for a bullish trade. On the other hand, given the stock’s current pivot lower off of trend resistance, the time could be optimal right now for a bearish trade, either by shorting the stock or buying a put option.


  • 18 Jun
    WBA looks like it could be ready to break out

    WBA looks like it could be ready to break out

    If you pay attention to the Pharmacy segment of the Food & Staples industry, a lot of the attention over the last few months has focused on companies other than the stock I’m highlighting today. Amazon (AMZN) doesn’t work in this space, but after acquiring Whole Foods last year, the market loves to guess about their next vertical acquisition target. Rumors not long ago that they might start looking at ways to enter the pharmacy business sent a lot of investors running away from the established companies in this segment as quickly as possible. CVS Health Corporation (CVS) caught some buzz by announcing their intentions to acquire Aetna Inc. (AET), another example of vertical integration with some intriguing implications and opportunities for the future. And while Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. (WBA) hasn’t been sitting idle, their acquisition of more than 1,600 Rite Aid (RAD) stores for about $3.6 billion in cash this spring didn’t really turn many heads. It’s a more traditional, consolidation-oriented transaction that I guess just doesn’t boast the sexy sheen that excites investors right now.

    That’s actually too bad, because if you dive into WBA’s fundamental and technical profile, you see a stock that looks like it could be poised on the verge of a bullish long-term trend reversal. It’s true that none of the effects – including the $3.6 billion spent to acquire those RAD stores, or the increase in debt that will probably be a natural result from it – have yet to be seen in any financial disclosures, but the company is scheduled for its first quarterly earnings announcement since the purchase closed on June 28. Depending on what kind of information is provided, that report could act as a strong upside catalyst. Let’s dive into the details as they currently stand.



    Fundamental and Value Profile

    Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. is a holding company. The Company is a pharmacy-led health and wellbeing company. The Company operates through three segments: Retail Pharmacy USA, Retail Pharmacy International and Pharmaceutical Wholesale. The Retail Pharmacy USA segment consists of the Walgreen Co. (Walgreens) business, which includes the operation of retail drugstores, care clinics and providing specialty pharmacy services. The Retail Pharmacy International segment consists primarily of the Alliance Boots pharmacy-led health and beauty stores, optical practices and related contract manufacturing operations. The Pharmaceutical Wholesale segment consists of the Alliance Boots pharmaceutical wholesaling and distribution businesses. The Company’s portfolio of retail and business brands includes Walgreens, Duane Reade, Boots and Alliance Healthcare, as well as global health and beauty product brands, including No7, Botanics, Liz Earle and Soap & Glory. WBA has a current market cap of $63.4 billion.

    • Earnings and Sales Growth: Over the last twelve months, earnings increased by more than 27%, while sales grew a little over 12%. It’s hard for a company to grow earnings faster than sales, and generally not sustainable over time. I do take the difference, however as a good sign that management is doing a good job of maximizing their business operations.
    • Free Cash Flow: WBA has solid free cash flow of a little over $6.3 billion over the last twelve months. This number has declined a bit from the first quarter of 2017, when it was a little over $7 billion, but is much higher over the last four years, when it hit a low in June of 2014 at around $2.5 billion. This number should drop again in the next quarter as a reflection of the RAD stores purchase, though exactly how much it will drop remains to be seen.
    • Debt to Equity: the company’s debt to equity ratio is .44, which is low and should generally be quite manageable. Long-term debt has also dropped by more 30% over the last two years, from around $19 billion to the levels reported in its last earnings report. This is another number that I expect will increase, but how much also remains to be seen.
    • Dividend: WBA pays an annual dividend of $1.60 per share, which translates to an annual yield of 2.5% at the stock’s current price.
    • Price/Book Ratio: there are a lot of ways to measure how much a stock should be worth; but one of the simplest methods that I like uses the stock’s Book Value, which for WBA is $28.42 per share. At the stock’s current price, that translates to a Price/Book Ratio of 2.25. This is inline with the industry average, which is 2.3, but below with the stock’s historical average of 2.9. A rally to par with the historical average would put the stock’s price above $82 per share – almost 30% above its current price. This really suggests the stock is legitimately undervalued right now.



    Technical Profile

    Here’s a look at the stock’s latest technical chart.

    • Current Price Action/Trends and Pivots: WBA’s downward trend started in September of last year, which marks the beginning point for the diagonal red line on the chart above. The downward trend has extended to the current date, with the stock finding consistent support around $62 in April, May, and earlier this month. It also appears to be dropping lower right now off of pivot high resistance around $65 per share. That range – $62 to $65 – has defined a pretty consistent trading range since April, and would mark the levels the stock would need to break to either extend the downward trend even lower or reverse the trend and begin to reclaim its previous highs.
    • Near-term Keys: The key for WBA is most likely to come from its June 28 earnings announcement, so investors would be wise to watch the stock’s price from that point forward. A break above $65 would probably offer a good short-term bump to at least $70 per share, with its January peak around $80 – which would be nearly at par with its historical Price/Book ratio – attainable as a longer-term target. If the stock breaks below $62, it could drop as low as $51 before finding new support, based on historical pivots below the the $62 range.


  • 15 Jun
    U.S.-China trade war could really hurt WMT

    U.S.-China trade war could really hurt WMT

    This morning marked the opening of yet another chapter in the drama that is U.S. trade diplomacy. The Trump administration announced this morning that U.S. Customs and Border Protection will begin to collect tariffs on the first $34 billion worth of Chines imported goods on July 6. This is the next step in the implementation of duties first announced in March of this year on approximately 1,300 different finished goods imported to the U.S. by its largest trading partner. The final $16 billion of a proposed $50 billion total of tariffs is still under review.

    This is a clear escalation of the two nation’s ongoing trade dispute, and not surprisingly China responded quickly, saying that they will act quickly to “take necessary measures to defend our legitimate rights and interests.” They have previously threatened their own set of tariffs on a wide ranging list of U.S. product ranging from soybeans and meat to whiskey, airplanes and cars.



    It’s one thing to watch the news and listen to talking heads wring their hands and bemoan the negative effects that an extended trade war would have on economic growth. And that’s not to say that they’re wrong; over the long-term, a trade war could bleed into virtually every part of the U.S. economy. Keep in mind that virtually every kind of finished product uses steel or aluminum, which is the basis for the first round of tariffs that Trump first started talking about three months ago. The real question for the average American is where those negative effects are most likely to be seen hitting their wallet. I think one of the first, and most vulnerable places can be found not far from where you live. Walmart Inc. (WMT) sources 75% of its merchandise from China, and that puts one of the largest retailers in the country literally on the cutting edge of what is happening right now.

    This isn’t an unrealistic argument; one of the ways WMT has always differentiated itself from its competitors is as the low-cost leader for consumers. The longer a trade war takes to find a resolution, the more their costs on the vast majority of goods that fill their shelves are going to rise. As you’ll see below, WMT simply doesn’t have much ability to absorb those costs to keep them from passing through to their customers. That begs a question that only each customer can answer: if that item – whether it be a shirt, a power tool, a toy, or an electronic gadget – that you’re used to getting from WMT costs 25% or more than it used to, are you going to be more or less likely to buy it?

    Current consumer trends suggest that in the case of luxury items – say, an $80 shirt – a lot of consumers that are already willing to pay that much for a shirt will probably also pay $90 to $100 for the same item. That is usually less true when the conversation shifts instead to bargain-priced items, like a $20 shirt. That puts WMT in the very difficult position of watching its operating margins erode even more by absorbing increasing costs to keep sales high or pass those costs to their customers, who may simply choose not to make the same purchases they used to. Neither scenario works out very favorably for the company’s bottom line.



    Fundamental and Value Profile

    Walmart Inc., formerly Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., is engaged in the operation of retail, wholesale and other units in various formats around the world. The Company offers an assortment of merchandise and services at everyday low prices (EDLP). The Company operates through three segments: Walmart U.S., Walmart International and Sam’s Club. The Walmart U.S. segment includes the Company’s mass merchant concept in the United States operating under the Walmart brands, as well as digital retail. The Walmart International segment consists of the Company’s operations outside of the United States, including various retail Websites. The Sam’s Club segment includes the warehouse membership clubs in the United States, as well as samsclub.com. The Company operates approximately 11,600 stores under 59 banners in 28 countries and e-commerce Websites in 11 countries. WMT has a current market cap of $246 billion.

    • Earnings and Sales Growth: Over the last twelve months, earnings increased by 14%, while sales grew a little over 4%. It’s hard for a company to grow earnings faster than sales, and generally not sustainable over time. I do take the difference, however as a good sign that management is doing a good job of maximizing their business operations. Diving a little deeper, however provides a good look at the reason you should be concerned about increasing costs from tariffs on Chinese goods. As of the company’s last earnings report, WMT had more than $500 billion in revenue, with net income of almost $9 billion. Net income is calculated by subtracting the costs of doing business from revenues, which it means it provides the baseline for the earnings per share number you and I use to measure a stock’s profitability. Comparing net income to total revenues gives you an idea about what kind of profit margin the company is working with. For WMT, that number is only 1.77%, a very low number that implies they work with very narrow operating margins.
    • Operating Trends: WMT has been doing a great job of growing revenues, and since late 2014 they’ve grown from about $470 billion to their current level of a little over $500 billion. Over the same period, the reverse is true about their net income, which has dropped more than 50% from a high a little above $17 billion to just under $9 billion currently. That negative trend is also reflected in the decline of net income as percentage of revenue, which was about 3.6% at the end of 2013 but, as already observed is now only 1.77%. The company’s margins have already been under considerable pressure for some time, which further bolsters the argument they just don’t have a lot of wiggle room to work with.
    • Debt to Equity: the company’s debt to equity ratio is .46, which is low and should generally be quite manageable. WMT has also done a good job decreasing their total long-term debt since the first quarter of 2014, from more than $45 billion to a current level of about $29.4 billion.
    • Dividend: WMT pays an annual dividend of $2.08 per share, which translates to an annual yield of 2.49% at the stock’s current price.
    • Price/Book Ratio: there are a lot of ways to measure how much a stock should be worth; but one of the simplest methods that I like uses the stock’s Book Value, which for WMT is $26.44 per share. At the stock’s current price, that translates to a Price/Book Ratio of 3.15. This is below the industry average, which is 4.0, but inline with the stock’s historical average, which to me suggests the stock is fairly value right now, with limited upside potential in the long-term.



    Technical Profile

    Here’s a look at the stock’s latest technical chart.

    • Current Price Action: The stock has declined from a high around $110 in January to its current level around $83. That’s a drop of more than 25%, which at first blush might look pretty good for a stock that a lot of value investors would say has a lot of stickiness; that is, they will continue to generate high revenues even if a healthy economy begins to struggle, because consumers will continue to spend their money there. That is a true statement when it comes to WMT, but as observed above, I think the risk comes from what will happen as their costs increase. Will they continue to generate attractive profits, or will their margins erode? The risk is much higher they will erode.
    • Trends and Pivots: I’ve drawn two lines to illustrate where I think the stock’s real downside lies right now. The horizontal red line is just below the stock’s current level at about $82 and appears to be acting as good support right now. The horizontal blue line is drawn at the stock’s multi-year low, which was reached in February of last year at around $66. The red bidirectional arrow emphasizing the $16 per share difference between the stock’s current price and that low point is, I think a clear indication of investor risk right now. That’s a downside risk of just a little less than 20% right now. I also see little reason – fundamental or technical – to suggest the stock should reverse the intermediate-term downward trend anytime soon, which means that risk right now is much higher than any potential reward.
    • Near-term Keys: Watch the stock’s movement carefully over the next few days. A move to $90 would mark a reversal the intermediate trend’s downward strength and would act as a good signal point for a good bullish trade, either by buying the stock or working with call options. On the other hand, a drop below $82 would mark a major support break, with a drop to the aforementioned $66 level likely before any new significant support is reached.


  • 14 Jun
    FAST looks like an interesting short-term set up

    FAST looks like an interesting short-term set up

    My personal preference when I look at different stocks as investing opportunities is to consider their usefulness over a long-term period of time. That generally means that while I like to look at technical charts and identify near-term patterns to get an idea of what the market is doing with a stock right now, I have to use a stock’s underlying business to determine whether or not there is a good reason the stock should be worth a higher price in the future. If there isn’t, more often than not I’ll set the stock aside and go find something else.

    That isn’t to say that there aren’t times and settings when a good short-term trade is the smart way to go. I like to look for opportunities that I believe offer a combination of high reward and low risk, with the best probability possible that the trade will go my way. Those can be tough to find on a short-term basis (where probabilities usually run in the 25 – 30% at best), but from time to time they do show up. Fastenal Co. (FAST) looks like it could be a good example right now.



    Fundamental and Value Profile

    Fastenal Company is engaged in wholesale distribution of industrial and construction supplies. The Company is engaged in fastener distribution, and non-fastener maintenance and supply business. As of December 31, 2016, it distributed these supplies through a network of approximately 2,500 stores. Its customers are in the manufacturing and non-residential construction markets. The manufacturing market includes both original equipment manufacturers (OEM) and maintenance, repair, and operations (MRO). The non-residential construction market includes general, electrical, plumbing, sheet metal and road contractors. Other users of its products include farmers, truckers, railroads, oil exploration, production and refinement companies, mining companies, federal, state, and local governmental entities, schools and certain retail trades. Its original product offerings are fasteners and other industrial and construction supplies, many of which are sold under the Fastenal product name. FAST has a current market cap of $15.1 billion.

    • Earnings and Sales Growth: Over the last twelve months, earnings increased by more than 32%, while sales grew a little over 13%. It’s hard for a company to grow earnings faster than sales, and generally not sustainable over time. I do take the difference, however as a good sign that management is doing a good job of maximizing their business operations.
    • Free Cash Flow: Free Cash Flow is healthy, at a little more than $412 million over the past twelve months despite its decline over the last quarter.
    • Debt to Equity: the company’s debt to equity ratio is .18, which is a low, very manageable. Their balance sheet indicates operating earnings are more than sufficient to service their debt, with healthy cash reserves as well.
    • Dividend: FAST pays an annual dividend of $1.48 per share, which translates to an annual yield of 2.81% at the stock’s current price.
    • Price/Book Ratio: there are a lot of ways to measure how much a stock should be worth; but one of the simplest methods that I like uses the stock’s Book Value, which for FAST is $7.55 per share. At the stock’s current price, that translates to a Price/Book Ratio of 6.96. I usually like to see this ratio closer to 1, or even better, below that level, but higher ratios in certain industries aren’t uncommon. The Industrial Distribution industry’s average is 4.6, so FAST’s Price/Book ratio is well above the industry average, which to a fundamental investor is a clear sign of the stock’s overbought status.



    Technical Profile

    Here’s a look at the stock’s latest technical chart.

    • Current Price Action: Over the last year, the stock’s trend is up, coming from around $41 to its current level a little below $53 per share. Its 52-week high was reached in early March at nearly $59 per share, followed by a short-term downward trend that was halted in early May at around $48. The stock has since rallied from that point to its current price.
    • Trends and Pivots: The diagonal, dotted red line indicates the stock’s intermediate trend, which is mostly down despite the upward momentum of the last month. This is true primarily because after rallying to about $54, the stock dropped back a bit lower from that point. That pivot high marked a pause of the stock’s short-term upward trend that could be opening up the trading opportunity I’m writing about today. The A, B, and C labels mark the pivot points that create a classic ABC pullback pattern, which usually signals a very attractive short-term bullish swing trade.
    • Near-term Keys: Watch the stock’s movement carefully over the next few days. A move to $54 would break the intermediate trend’s resistance and would act as a good signal point for a good bullish trade, either by buying the stock or working with call options, with a target price to close the trade at around $57.50. On the other hand, a drop below $51 could see the stock break the short-term upward trend support level, which might offer an attractive bearish trade, either by shorting the stock or using put options, with a closing target price at around $48.50.


    By Thomas Moore Industrials Investiv Daily
  • 13 Jun
    FOX: who wins a bidding war?

    FOX: who wins a bidding war?

    One of the biggest stories that had tongues wagging this morning as the stock market opened was a federal ruling late yesterday rejecting an anti-trust appeal by the government to block AT&T’s (T)pending merger with Time Warner Inc. (TWX). Not only did that clear the way for that deal to close sooner than later, it also seemingly could act as a blueprint for a number of other deals going forward. Perhaps the next biggest deal analysts are paying attention to is the Walt Disney Company’s (DIS) proposed acquisition of assets from Twentieth-Century Fox Inc. (FOX). Comcast Corporation (CMCSA) has long been waiting in the background to jump into the fray in competing for those FOX assets, and the AT&T/Time Warner ruling appears to have been one of the last things the company was waiting on to submit their own competing bid.

    A bidding war between DIS and CMSCA could get expensive. When the deal was first announced in December of 2017, it was valued at around $52.4 billion. Without giving away specific numbers or other details, officials at Comcast said that any competing bid for FOX assets would be all cash, and which some analysts suggest could be valued around $60 billion. FOX has set a meeting for July 10 for shareholders to vote on the proposed DIS deal, which differs from the expected Comcast bid not only in value, but also as a mix of cash and DIS shares.



    Who will win? DIS was first to the table, and certainly would seem to have the inside track. The assets they would acquire would fold naturally into multiple existing segments of their business. European sports network Sky, for example gives DIS an way to expand their ESPN sports programming on an international scale they’ve been seeking for some time. The deal also would give them controlling interest in streaming service Hulu, which could simplify the plan they initiated last year to launch their own streaming service to compete with Netflix (NFLX). FOX also controls the rights to Marvel properties like the X-Men franchise, so this acquisition would bring those assets back home.

    Don’t underestimate CMCSA’s potential or desire to buy those assets as well. Comcast is the parent company of NBC, Universal Pictures, Telemundo (Latin American broadcasting, including sports programming), Universal Pictures, and DreamWorks Animation, to name just a few of their business segments. They seem to clearly recognize the need to add even more content and distribution capability, since a deal with FOX could include useful properties like National Geographic, FX Networks and the movie studio. And don’t underestimate the impact of Hulu, since whoever gets control of that service finds a strong foothold versus Netflix and Amazon Prime.

    Looking at a few of the fundamental and value-based elements of DIS and CMCSA could provide some clues about which company could be a stronger position right now. Let’s dive in.



    Fundamental and Value Profile – DIS

    The Walt Disney Company is an entertainment company. The Company operates in four business segments: Media Networks, Parks and Resorts, Studio Entertainment, and Consumer Products & Interactive Media. The media networks segment includes cable and broadcast television networks, television production and distribution operations, domestic television stations, and radio networks and stations. Under the Parks and Resorts segment, the Company’s Walt Disney Imagineering unit designs and develops new theme park concepts and attractions, as well as resort properties. The studio entertainment segment produces and acquires live-action and animated motion pictures, direct-to-video content, musical recordings and live stage plays. It also develops and publishes games, primarily for mobile platforms, books, magazines and comic books. The Company distributes merchandise directly through retail, online and wholesale businesses. Its cable networks consist of ESPN, the Disney Channels and Freeform. DIS has a current market cap of $156.8 billion.

    • Earnings and Sales Growth: Over the last twelve months, earnings increased by more than 22%, while sales grew a little over 9%. It’s hard for a company to grow earnings faster than sales, and generally not sustainable over time. I do take the difference, however as a good sign that management is doing a good job of maximizing their business operations.
    • Free Cash Flow: Free Cash Flow is healthy, at more than $10.6 billion over the past twelve months. Free Cash Flow has been growing steadily, with only occasional, one-quarter dips since 2013.
    • Debt to Equity: the company’s debt to equity ratio is .39, which is a low number. Their balance sheet indicates operating earnings are more than sufficient to service their debt, with healthy cash reserves as well. Total cash and liquid assets are approximately 22% of the company’s total long-term debt. Keep in mind that debt would likely increase if a deal with FOX is completed, but to what extent remains to be seen. The company’s relatively modest debt levels suggests they have room to work with in structuring an attractive cash-and-stock deal, and to engage in a bidding war, as all indications are that DIS will be aggressive in pursuing shareholder’s votes in their favor.
    • Dividend: DIS pays an annual dividend of $1.68 per share, which translates to an annual yield of 1.62% at the stock’s current price.
    • Price/Book Ratio: there are a lot of ways to measure how much a stock should be worth; but one of the simplest methods that I like uses the stock’s Book Value, which for DIS is $32.35 per share. At the stock’s current price, that translates to a Price/Book Ratio of 3.19. I usually like to see this ratio closer to 1, or even better, below that level, but higher ratios in certain industries aren’t uncommon. The Media industry’s average is 4.6, so DIS’ Price/Book ratio is almost 50% below the industry average and bolsters my argument the stock is being overlooked versus its counterparts right now, despite the buzz surrounding the FOX deal.



    Fundamental and Value Profile – CMCSA

    Comcast Corporation is a media and technology company. The Company has two primary businesses: Comcast Cable and NBCUniversal. Its Comcast Cable business operates in the Cable Communications segment. Its NBCUniversal business operates in four business segments: Cable Networks, Broadcast Television, Filmed Entertainment and Theme Parks. Its Cable Communications segment consists of the operations of Comcast Cable, which provides video, high-speed Internet and voice services to residential customers under the XFINITY brand. Its Cable Networks segment consists of a portfolio of national cable networks. Its Broadcast Television segment operates the NBC and Telemundo broadcast networks. Its Filmed Entertainment segment primarily produces, acquires, markets and distributes filmed entertainment across the world, and it also develops, produces and licenses live stage plays. Its Theme Parks segment consists primarily of its Universal theme parks in Orlando, Florida and Hollywood, California. CMCSA has a current market cap of $150.3 billion.

    • Earnings and Sales Growth: Over the last twelve months, earnings increased by almost 17%, while sales grew a little over 11%. It’s hard for a company to grow earnings faster than sales, and generally not sustainable over time. I do take the difference, however as a good sign that management is doing a good job of maximizing their business operations.
    • Free Cash Flow: Free Cash Flow is healthy, at more than $11.4 billion over the past twelve months. Free Cash Flow has declined modestly since the third quarter of last year, but has increased about 25% since September 2016.
    • Debt to Equity: the company’s debt to equity ratio is .90, which is generally manageable. Their balance sheet indicates operating earnings are more than sufficient to service their debt, with adequate cash reserves as well. Total cash and liquid assets are approximately 9.5% of the company’s total long-term debt. Comcast has indicated that any bid for FOX assets would be all cash, and since analysts are predicting that could be as high as $60 billion, the company would certainly have to raise debt to do it. Considering that their total long-term debt right now is more than $63 billion, a successful bid would make CMCSA the most highly leveraged company in the industry.
    • Dividend: CMCSA pays an annual dividend of $.76 per share, which translates to an annual yield of 2.35% at the stock’s current price.
    • Price/Book Ratio: there are a lot of ways to measure how much a stock should be worth; but one of the simplest methods that I like uses the stock’s Book Value, which for CMCSA is $15.22 per share. At the stock’s current price, that translates to a Price/Book Ratio of 2.12. I usually like to see this ratio closer to 1, or even better, below that level, but industry-based averages above 1 aren’t uncommon. CMCSA’s Price/Book ratio is only slightly below the Media industry’s average of 2.2, but it is also below its historical average of 2.7, suggesting the stock is discounted right now by about 21%.


    By Thomas Moore Disney Investiv Daily M&A
  • 12 Jun
    Why Best Buy (BBY) is more like a “bust buy” right now for investors

    Why Best Buy (BBY) is more like a “bust buy” right now for investors

    We all love seeing stocks go up. When a stock’s upward trend lasts for several months, a year, or more, that movement usually translates to big-profit, “home run” trades for those who had the sense to jump in early. BBY is a great example of exactly that kind of trade. It’s a stock that, as of this writing is trading only a few dollars per share away from its all-time high and has more than doubled in price over the last two years. If you weren’t one of those fortunate few who saw the opportunity to get in two years ago, but you saw the strength of the stock’s long-term trend, you’d probably be tempted to consider buying in. The question is, how much opportunity is left, and how much risk do you have be willing to accept for whatever upside remains? Let’s take a look.

    Fundamental and Value Profile

    Best Buy Co., Inc. is a provider of technology products, services and solutions. The Company offers products and services to the customers visiting its stores, engaging with Geek Squad agents, or using its Websites or mobile applications. It has operations in the United States, Canada and Mexico. The Company operates through two segments: Domestic and International. The Domestic segment consists of the operations in all states, districts and territories of the United States, under various brand names, including Best Buy, bestbuy.com, Best Buy Mobile, Best Buy Direct, Best Buy Express, Geek Squad, Magnolia Home Theater, and Pacific Kitchen and Home. The International segment consists of all operations in Canada and Mexico under the brand names, Best Buy, bestbuy.com.ca, bestbuy.com.mx, Best Buy Express, Best Buy Mobile and Geek Squad. As of December 31, 2016, the Company operated 1,200 large-format and 400 small-format stores throughout its Domestic and International segments. BBY’s market cap is $20.6 billion.



    • Earnings and Sales Growth: Over the last twelve months, earnings decreased by about 36%, while sales grew modestly. It’s generally difficult for a company to grow earnings faster than sales, and in the long term can’t be expected to continue, but it is also a positive sign of management’s ability to maximize their business operations.
    • Free Cash Flow: Free Cash Flow has declined since the first quarter of 2017 but remains healthy at more than $1.3 billion over the past twelve months.
    • Debt to Equity: the company’s debt to equity ratio is .23, a very low number that is very positive, especially when the norm for the industry is about three times higher. While operating profits are more than adequate to service debt, their total cash and liquid assets also exceed their total long-term debt by more than 4x.
    • Dividend: BBY pays an annual dividend of $1.80 per share, which translates to an annual yield of 2.43% at the stock’s current price.
    • Price/Book Ratio: there are a lot of ways to measure how much a stock should be worth; but one of the simplest methods that I like uses the stock’s Book Value, which for BBY is $12.13 per share. This number has declined in every quarter from a peak at around 15 at the beginning of 2017. At the stock’s current price, that translates to a Price/Book Ratio of 6.09. The industry average is higher, at a little over 12, but their historical average is only 2.9, which means the stock is trading twice as high as it has historically done from a valuation standpoint. At par with that historical average, the stock’s price would be only $35, which I think underscores the kind of risk investors who want to jump in now could be exposed to.



    Technical Profile

    Here’s a look at the stock’s latest technical chart.

    • Current Price Action: Over the last week or so, BBY rallied strongly off of support at around $69 per share. The stock’s all-time highs were reached a little below $80 just last month, followed by a rapid sell off that drove the stock down to its latest pivot low. It is showing strong momentum at the moment as it fills the gap that came when the stock dropped from a bit above $75 to below $71 on an overnight basis late last month. That momentum is likely to be tested between $75 and $76.
    • Trends and Pivots: I’ve drawn two diagonal lines to illustrate the shift in the stock’s intermediate trend. The blue dotted line represents the trend up to the stock’s mid-May drop. Before that point, the trend provided good support that helped the stock rally to its January high and even establish a new all-time high price at nearly $80 per share; however the stock’s drop at the end of the month below that line, with new pivot low support at around $69, forced a redraw of that trend, illustrated by the dotted green line. The more gradual angle of that line implies a weakening of the intermediate trend, and a break below that support point would mark a major trend reversal that should see the stock drop to at least $62 before finding new support. The horizontal orange line at around $75 indicates where I think the stock is likely to find its next resistance point, and the red horizontal line is near the stock’s all-time highs. In order to extend the stock’s long-term trend further, it would need to break this level. For the time being, this is also where I believe the stock’s maximum foreseeable upside is. That puts the potential upside right now at $7, with downside at $11. That’s a reward: risk ratio of .63:1; smart traders and investors look for this ratio to be 2.5 or 3:1 at minimum.
    • Near-term Keys: Watch the stock’s movement carefully. If the stock manages to push above $80, it would establish new all-time highs and force a complete reevaluation of the reward: risk profile I just outlined. On the other hand, a break below $69 – which I believe is more likely – would see the stock drop as low as $62 per share in the near term, which might offer an attractive bearish trade, either by shorting the stock or using put options.


    By Thomas Moore Investiv Daily Retail
  • 11 Jun
    GT is super-undervalued; is it time to buy?

    GT is super-undervalued; is it time to buy?

    Before the beginning of 2018, finding stocks that you could really call undervalued in any kind of realistic sense was becoming more and more difficult, simply because the broad market had been following a nearly uninterrupted upward trajectory since 2012, extending the bull market in the United States into a ninth year. Since that point, there has been a lot of uncertainty in the market, driven by geopolitical concerns, such as a trade war between the U.S. and its largest trade partners, rising interest rates and worries about accelerating inflation. That has driven a lot of stocks in the market down to levels that would make any value-oriented investor start to pay closer attention. GT fits into that category; after hitting a peak at nearly $35 per share in late January, the stock tumbled more than $10 per share at its lowest point, reached just last week. That’s a decline of more than 28% since the end of January until late last week.

    Of course, the mere fact that a stock is trading at a discount relative to historical highs isn’t enough by itself to say that the time is right to jump back in. Stocks that get beat down to extreme lows often have good reasons for investors to treat them that way; sometimes there are really critical problems at the business that make the stock’s higher price levels completely unreasonable. GT’s story doesn’t fit exactly into the picture I’ve just described, and truthfully there are some important external factors at play, like tariffs on autos imported from Mexico, Canada and the European Union, as well as higher crude prices, that I expect could continue to keep pressure on the stock in the near term; at the same time, however I think there is an interesting argument to make right now about this stock as a good value-oriented opportunity.

    It’s important to note that while concerns about things like tariffs and increasing crude costs might impact companies like GT in the long term, nothing is certain. Even now what impact tariffs will actually have, and whether they will hold on a long-term basis remains to be seen. While these are issues to be aware of and worth paying continued attention to, they also shouldn’t discourage you from considering the stock as a good investing opportunity if the right conditions show themselves.



    Fundamental and Value Profile

    The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company (GT) is a manufacturer of tires. The Company operates through three segments. The Americas segment develops, manufactures, distributes and sells tires and related products and services in North, Central and South America, and sells tires to various export markets. The Americas segment manufactures and sells tires for automobiles, trucks, buses, earthmoving, mining and industrial equipment, aircraft and for various other applications. The Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) segment develops, manufactures, distributes and sells tires for automobiles, trucks, buses, aircraft, motorcycles, and earthmoving, mining and industrial equipment throughout EMEA under the Goodyear, Dunlop, Debica, Sava and Fulda brands. The Asia Pacific segment develops, manufactures, distributes and sells tires for automobiles, trucks, aircraft, farm, and earthmoving, mining and industrial equipment throughout the Asia Pacific region, and sells tires to various export markets. GT’s market cap is $6.1 billion.

    • Earnings and Sales Growth: Over the last twelve months, earnings decreased by a little over 32%, while sales grew slightly.
    • Free Cash Flow: Free Cash Flow is healthy, at a little over $200 million over the past twelve months. This number has declined since late 2015 when it peaked at about $1 billion.
    • Debt to Equity: the company’s debt to equity ratio is 1.13, which is a little above what is normally considered desirable; however their balance sheet indicates operating earnings are more than sufficient to service their debt. Cash and liquid assets are also healthy and translate to a cash yield of more than 10%.
    • Dividend: GT pays an annual dividend of $.56 per share, which translates to an annual yield of 2.18% at the stock’s current price.
    • Price/Book Ratio: there are a lot of ways to measure how much a stock should be worth; but one of the simplest methods that I like uses the stock’s Book Value, which for GT is $20.69 per share. At the stock’s current price, that translates to a Price/Book Ratio of 1.23. The Media industry’s average is 1.9, while their historical average is 2.375. If you use the industry average as a more conservative long-term target, the stock could rise to about $39 per share, which is above its highest point in almost 20 years.



    Technical Profile

    Here’s a look at the stock’s latest technical chart.

    • Current Price Action: Over the last week or so, GT found support at around $24 per share and has bounced a little bit from that point. The stock has been under a lot of pressure since late January, with the biggest drop occurring in February, after which the stock’s downward trend began to decelerate a bit. The current support level looks like it could mark trend support for the time being, while the stock’s pivot high in mid-may a little above $26 is the most likely next resistance point.
    • Trends and Pivots: The red diagonal line represents the stock’s intermediate-term trend, which is clearly down. In the last couple of days the stock has broken above that line and appears to be building some good bullish momentum. The solid, horizontal green line represents the stock’s most immediate support level, which is a little above $24, and the dotted red line marks where I think the stock is likely to find its next point of resistance, just a bit above $26 per share. If the stock is to truly break the strength of the intermediate-term downward trend, it will need to break above that resistance. I think a move to anywhere from $26.50 to $27 could mark the beginning of that reversal. If the stock breaks down and moves below its current support around $24, it would likely continue to drop to as low as $19, which marks a pivot low point the stock last saw in late 2015.
    • Near-term Keys: Watch the stock’s movement carefully over the next week or so. A move to $26.50 or $27 would mark a big bullish breakout and should give the stock plenty of room to rally into the $30 range and possibly higher; that could offer an attractive bullish trade, either by buying the stock or working with call options. On the other hand, a break below $24 could see the stock drop as low as $19 per share in the near term, which might offer an attractive bearish trade, either by shorting the stock or using put options.


    By Thomas Moore Auto Industry Investiv Daily
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