The market is up strongly this morning after EU Bank president Jean-Claude Trichet decided to leave Australia where he was attending the Reserve Bank of Australia’s 50th Anniversary Symposium which was a party likely as raucous as a staring contest between Bea Arthur and JD Salinger (mainly because they’re both dead). Even so, we are told things got a little out of control when the bankers let their toupees down and played a little game of “name your favorite currency” with Vietnam’s Dong easily winning out even if it is not as big as the other currencies. Trichet flew back to Europe where he was invited to a summit of European leaders called by the deligthfully named Herman Van Rompuy (and Money McBags is calling bullshit on this whole thing because no one is named Herman Van Rompuy). This is leading to speculation that the EU has a plan to bail out Greece, and Portugal, and Spain, and maybe Italy, and then maybe even Freedonia (where time flies like an arrow and fruit flies like a banana). As one analyst said: “The markets are smelling a deal for Greece, and for that reason, we’re seeing some stabilization.” Of course, that smell could actually be Greece and not a deal for Greece but Money McBags remains optimistic because as he has been saying all along, the Euro is not going away, it’s just not. Now it’s unclear how the EU plans to deal with the struggling countries, whether it’s a good old fasion bail out, some kind of debt guarantee, or a lifetime ban on Nia Vardalos movies, but help is on the way.
In US macro news, there’s not a whole lot of new information. Wholesale inventories unexpectedly dropped by .8% in December while sales rose .8%. Both numbers were marginally below estimates yet close enough that the market let out a collective yawn. Inventories bear watching though as we’ve made it through the obvious restocking and now we’re at the point where they need to at least maintain their new level in order to signal new steady state or some real growth.
In stock news, KO had a blow out quarter as earnings rose 55% thanks to India and China who love them some sugary water. Overall revenues were up by 5.4% even though they were down 4.5% in the US thanks to some people apparently giving a shit about not being fat. Luckily, developing countries haven’t yet reached the point where they have large middle classes whose teenage girls read People magaine and stress about weight from the caloric intake of soft drinks and thus KO benefitted from 19% growth in Latin America, 29% in China, and 20% in India. Coke also annonuced they bought back $1.5B (known colloquially as a “shitload”) of their own stock last year which was $500MM more than they committed. Money McBags is an owner of KO for the simple reason that it has ginormous brand equity in developing countries and is a relatively cheap product that people can buy to feel like they are part of American/pop culture (kind of like Paris Hilton’s vagina). MCD, another longtime holding of Money McBags came out with their monthly sales numbers which featured a 2.9% rise in same store sales driven by a 4.3% increase overseas. Sure, people were disappointed that US same store sales were down .7% but people were also disappointed that the Kim Kardashian sex tape was a bit grainy. So as always, you can’t please everyone (unless you are Blake Lively and are manning the free blumpkin and waffles booth at the local greeting center), but you can be happy with MCD’s numbers and Money McBags owns them for the exact reason he owns KO. They sell cheap shit with huge brand equity that developing countries love the fuck out of (and this will be the first sentence in When Genius Prevails’ short and illustrious history that will end in a preposition). Also, ERTS put up a terrible quarter as their attempt to take on the Grand Theft Auto franchise with Moral Theft: Vatican City failed to generate sales while damning them all to hell (or as it is more commonly known, the guest audience of The View).
In small cap news, two companies Money McBags follows reported today with TMRK putting up a marginal quarter with lackadaisical guidance and DFZ slipping it’s quarter some ruphies and having their way with it like a young Charlie Sheen at the Viper Room. DFZ has been a small holding of Money McBags for a few quarters because it has been cheaper than Valtrex at Lindsay Lohan’s house in addition to being a well run company with growth prospects completely under the radar of investors because their business is more boring than a Jane Austen novel or watching two pieces of lint hump (and now that I think about it, watching lint hump may not be so boring afterall, so scratch that). They are the market leader in slippers, yeah, you know, the things your significant other bought you that you never wear. The point is that even though the market is small (about $300MM), they dominate it like Nipsey Russell dominated the 1970s Hollywood game show circuit. They have 35% of the market and are the sole owner (pun intended) of the slipper business for a little company called Walmart. DFZ continues to win business from smaller players as their supply chain and logistics management give them an advantage in winning business by giving buyers confidence in their ability to easily handle a relatively unimportant vertical. Since turning the business around, they have had yearly EBITDA no worse than $12MM and had been trading at 6x that trough EBITDA even though prior to their announcement last night, they guided for slight growth. In the quarter released last night, they earned $.74 per share, which was around 30% growth on sales growth of nearly 15% ($56MM compared to $49MM) thanks to margins moving from 39% to 43%. Cash on hand was up to $37.5MM and they have no debt so they are now trading at around 4x to 5x EV/EBITDA depending on how much credit you want to give them for growth in the second half of the year (Money McBags has not had a chance to listen to their conference call yet). Before this huge Q, Money McBags was pegging them to earn $.80 per share this fiscal year by maintaining a 41% margin but they almost beat that $.80 number just this quarter. Now it’s likely they’ll earn closer to $1 (again, Money McBags has not listened to their call yet to know if there was any guidance) so they are trading at less than 10x fiscal year 2010 earnings and they have a June Q so they are probaly closer to 8x full year 2010 earnings. The company is so cheap it makes my balls hurt, or in the case of DFZ, it makes the balls of my feet hurt which can be soothed by slipping on my DFZ made Dearfoams. Not only are they cheap, but they have been rumored to be in talks with WMT’s international business to expand there and were actively looking to get into Payless/DSW/other shoe stores and to be honest, Money McBags is shocked they are not already in those stores. The other rumor is that they are looking at acquisitions, potentially of a sandal or flip flop company to help smooth out the seasonality of the slipper business. They also recently launched a Levis brand and earlier last year turned down a take out offer of $7.50 per share for the company, so we have some good downside protection in cash and in potential buyers if this company were to shit the bed. There is no reason this company shouldn’t trade for at least 12x earnings which would yield at a minimum a $12 stock price and it is currently trading for $9.50 (and this is not even to mention the now stupid multiple of EBITDA for which it currently trades). The downside is that it is a tiny company with little institutional ownership and almost no coverage, but that is more of an opportunity than a concern. Money McBags is happy with his current position and may buy more should it dip down tomorrow or after he goes through their call.
As for TMRK, they gave guidance for $95MM to $100MM 2011 EBITDA so despite a decent quarter, they are already trading at around 8x 2011 EBITDA. While that is cheaper than competitors, and while TMRK is in a terrific growth market as Money McBags believes more in the growth of cloud computing and colocation than he does in the existence of Hanna Hilton (and as he watched about 22 hours of her terrific performances yesterday, he is 99.87% sure she is real), they do carry around a large amount of debt and have significant cap ex. This was Money McBags analysis of TMRK from last month and he stands by it (especially as TMRK was trading at around where it fell back to today). The growth targets announced this Q are a bit below expectations but if the stock continues to drop, Money McBags will likely start a position. No need to get involved today as the momentum buyers fly out, but worth watching.
2/8/10 Midday Report: Debt crisis forces EU to pull Super Bowl ad, can only afford to broadcast it on new 24 hour Michael Bolton Hip Hop Channel
The market opened down again before bouncing back a bit as people are more worried about Europe’s debt problems than they are about global warming, health care spending, and that thing on Drew Brees’ face. The President of the EU’s Central Bank, Jean Claude Trichet (and it must be pointed out that his name is an anagram for “tend rich ejaculate,” which is exactly what he is doing by tending to the crisis caused by an overspending splooge filled orgy by the already rich European bankers), is steadfast that Europe’s debt problems are not an issue and budgets can be cut but he has as much sway on how Europe’s countries operate as James Polk did over the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (Shout out to Nicholas Trist. Word word). The point is Monsieur Trichet can recommend whatever he wants and can publicly fellate Greece/Portugal/the whole Iberian Peninsula until he is blue in the face (pun completely intended), but it will likely come down to the countries of the EU acting in unison to bail out a country (or several) which are irrelevant to them. The EU is the ultimate free rider system for small countries like Greece to continually take risks since there are no real political repercussions as the rest of the EU has exactly zero votes in any Greek election or Greek policy. So when Monsieur Trichet said over the weekend when being asked questions about Greece: “I doubt that, in a press conference, Ben Bernanke would have a question on Alaska or Massachusetts,” that was a completely bogus, non-sensical, and irrelevant remark because Bernanke/the US Federal Government could absolutely fuck with Alaska or Massachusetts while all the EU can really do to Greece is tell them their kabobs were a little dry and to “maybe not suck so much at managing your budet.” Any other line of action could potentially lead to a complete disbanding of the EU and that would be about as helpful to the global economy as Mr. Horton was helpul to Arnold and Dudley in picking out bikes in that very special Diff’rent Strokes. The problem is that the EU may simply prove to be pareto inefficient, like lesbian porn where somehow adding a money shot would make everyone better off.
In US news, a flurry of blue chip upgrades are keeping the market from continuing it’s sell-off. Google was upgraded by Merrill Lynch/BAC (from hereon out to be known as “at least we’re not Rodman Renshaw”), as the analyst cited their cheap valuation based on the metric he decided to use which would support that cheap valuation (mutiple of cash flow less cash). Of course all the analyst had to do was point out GOOG’s recent jizztastic quarter (and for those of you not down with the lingo, there are very few things that are better than jizztastic), the fact that they are down 10% since then, and say “They’re fucking Google dipshits.” The other big upgrade was Home Dept being added to Morgan Stanley’s best ideas list. This caused Money McBags to also update his best idea list to now include a threesome with Hanna Hilton and Jessica Biel, lobster newburgh, and the light bulb. Disney was also upgraded to neutral by Morgan Stanley due to an improving economic outlook and CIT hired a worldclass rain maker in John Thain to take over the company as it climbs out of bankruptcy. Now Money McBags loves to deride CEOs for their bad decisions and big egos, but he is a fan of Mr. Thain who was able to actually get something for Merrill Lynch in selling it to BAC as the market was free-falling like Scott Lee Cohen’s political career. Thain is a terrific choice for the potentially undervalued CIT and this company deserves a new look by investors.
Interestingly, companies have been performing well this quarter with more than 73% of S&P 500 companies that have reported, beating analysts’ estimates which is the 2nd highest percentage since Bloomberg began tracking the data in 1993. Of course, the market rose in anticipation of this since the market is more forward looking than Roman Polanski’s dating rolodex (and seriously, if you don’t get that one e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll explain it). So we’re now at an important inflection point with Europe potentially imploding, the US maybe getting on solid footing, and jobs still harder to come by than an original or funny Jay Leno monologue.
In small cap news today, an analyst from Robert Baird (and if you’ve never heard of Robert Baird, don’t worry, neither has Mrs. Baird) upgraded Winnebago from underperform to neutral based on “valuation.” Now Money McBags finds nothing more convincing than a valuation upgrade of a company who HAS NO EARNINGS and is not going have any earnings for 2010 and maybe even 2011. That is awesome, really. If Money McBags were to guess what the analyst based his valuation on, he would guess the number of shots of tequila that analyst had last night to dull the pain he feels for having to work at Robert Baird and not a sell side shop that people have heard of before. After upgrading WGO, the analyst was seen climbing into his Edsel and heading to his home on Three Mile Island while eating a packet of pop rocks and chugging a coca cola. Now look, Money Mcbags does not have the report and does not know what Baird’s price target for WGO is, but if it is anything above $8, it is way too much. This was Money McBags’ analysis of WGO from 2 months ago, and while his short call has worked about as well as the brakes on a Toyota Prius, he stands by that call like WGO stands by their losses.
Oh yeah, one more thing. Money McBags preemptively signed up for twitter at this account www.twitter.com/moneymcbags He has no idea if he will ever use it, but it is there.
2/5/2010 Midday Report: Unemployment rate drops as more jobs are lost, for next trick, unemployment rate to solve world peace by creating more wars
The market is down again today as Europe’s sovereign debt problem keeps rearing it’s ugly head like Mayim Bialik on the ABC Family network. The big news in the US markets is that the unemployment rate fell to a measly 9.7% (though if you include people who stopped looking for work and those working part time, it was 16.5%, but that is just a minor detail, like needing to keep your eyes on the road when you drive or not crossing the streams). The economy lost 20k jobs in January while totals for November were revised up by 60k (to 64k jobs created) and the totals for December were revised down by 65k (to 150k jobs lost, or as they say on the streets, a “fuckload”). While the revised numbers essentially cancel each other out, it does leave us wondering if any of these numbers are reliable at all, like the brakes on that shiny new Prius you just bought. Money McBags will wager Alan Geenspan’s credibility and Eliot Spitzer’s dignity (and since both of those are non-existent, it may be a bit of a sucker’s bet) that the 20k number released today is not within 20k of the actual revised number to come out in two months when no one will really care. The point is, people are not working regardless of what made up number Hilda Solis and her No-Labor Department release.
In international news, potential sovereign debt defaults in Greece, Portugal, and Spain have investors questioning the viability of the Euro like people with working auditory canals question Heidi Montag’s singing career. European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet (or as he’s known in investment circles, “deluded”) has said there is nothing to worry about as the budget shortfall will be smaller than that of Japan and the US. He then called Haiti and said not to worry because their recent earthquake was smaller than the Chile earthquake in 1960, and later was heard telling NBC President Dick Ebersol not to worry because ad revenue is way overrated. With the debt of Greece, Spain, and Portugal all forecast to be near or above their GDPs by 2011, investors are questioning if/when the EU will bail them out. The good news is that the Greeks are trying their best to help out in all of this mess by going on a two day worker’s strike, which means they will be working three more days than they usually do (though to be honest, a worker’s strike to protest an economy in the shitter is like the state of Alabama burning books to protest their high illiteracy rates or Noise Free America blasting anything by the Black Eyed Peas to protest noise pollution).
In business news Toyota is apologizing for selling you a car that could kill you but reminding you that even if your brakes went out causing you to plummet to an early death, at least you would have cut down on your carbon footprint while you were alive by owning a Prius. Berkshire Hathaway is selling $8B of debt to finance their acquisition of BNI and outfit executives with their own conductor caps (of course those conductor caps will be made 100% from the shards of Giaocometti’s “The Walking Man I”). Finally, AETNA missed on earnings as their medical costs grew 14% as a result of increased brain aneurysms for those who sat through an entire screening of Avatar (that joke was brought to you by the Jay Leno Appreciation Society, making comedy dull and unfunny one observation at a time).
In small cap news TSYS beat their quarterly esimates thanks to 15% revenue growth and 17% EBITDA growth to $10MM. For the year EBITDA was $50MM and 2010 guidance was for $80MM-$85MM EBITDA with revenue guidance for over 40% growth (though they are an acquisitive company so that is not all organic). The company is now trading at around 7x 2010 EV/EBITDA and continues to be in growth markets and consistently beats estimates. Of course it is down 5% today despite the solid Q and the good backlog because apparently people hate owning businesses that work. Some analysts are concerned about their long term net interest margins but the company is getting cheap enough for those concerns to be less worrisome than a back hair on Marissa Miller. Money McBags is not yet an owner of TSYS, as he is going to let the market creep down a bit before he gets his invesment on, but this company is worth all of you digging in and trying to get a better feel for their organic growth and competitive advantage in the location based software and military businesses.
Money McBags is off until Monday, so enjoy the Super Bowl.
Tim-motherfucking-ber. The market is nosediving today like a Biggest Loser contestant going after the last gravy covered deep fried twinkie at an all you can eat “stuff that’s bad” for you bar (and no offense to you weight-challenged people out there, but did you really need to go on a TV show to figure out you need to eat a fucking salad every once in a while? I mean for fucksake, it’s not like you need to decipher M-Theory or particle physics, you just need to stop eating crap and walk a little. Jeesh.) Driving the market down is what we here at When Genius Prevailed call serial unemployment (as opposed to Quisp’s cereal unemployment, which we hear has caused Quisp to resort to tickling Franken’s berries to pay the rent). New claims for unemployment came out and they were higher than last week and above analyst estimates. Claims rose 8k to 480k while expectations were for a drop to 460k. 10MM people continue to receive unemployment benefits or extended benefits and to give you an idea of how large of a group that is, it is is roughly equivalent to the population of Portugal, Belgium, or people who will show someone their tits on Bourbon Street should the Saints win the Super Bowl (and Money McBags fully supports Saints fans). So the economy may be getting a bit better but as long as there are so many displaced workers, full recovery will be difficult (to put it mildly) which is why the S&P is probably a wee bit overvalued, like long walks on the beach, Alan Greenspan, or Michael Chabon novels. Alternatively, labor productivity increased in January above analyst estimates as those with jobs have to work a fuckload harder to keep them (so instead of slacking off and looking at Miranda Kerr pictures for 6 hours a day like workers in a healthy economy like Australia, US worker now only slack off for 4 hours a day and are forced to look at internet pictures of Shirley Hemphill). Also positive news is out today on factory orders which gained again in December as businesses build back and try to maintain inventory.
In international economic news, investors are getting more skittish on Europe as they deal with the Greek budget crisis which will likely cause the EU to revive their hit doin da butt in making Greece their submissive (though luckily, and not to overgeneralize, but the Greeks seem to enjoy that). Fears are now spreading to Portugal, Spain, and any other country where two hour midday siesta’s are followed by 3 hour midafternoon siestas. Also, China is gettng a bit frisky with the US, objecting to claims that they are keeping down their currency in order to help exports. The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said they will stop artificially deflating their currency when the US stops artificially inflating the value of free speech.
In stock news Cisco put up a nice quarter (and for the record Money McBags has been long CSCO, though the stock has moved strongly sideways on him) as revenue was up 8% and their adjusted earnings of $.40 beat analyst estimates of $.35. While many companies have beat earnings forecasts, CSCO was one of the few who also beat on the top line and not only that, they said the global technology environment is getting better and they will be hiring 3,000 people. So take that rise in jobless claims to 480k, Cisco will be hiring 3k of the 15MM-20MM unemployed so the recovery is on like Donkey Kong. CEO John Chambers did say that “we are already in the second phase of a capital spending increase” which is great news, though Money McBags was unaware that phase one had actually ended.
In small cap news, TSYS reports tonight and Money McBags eagerly awaits their earnings release which he discussed two days ago while JOEZ put up a nice quarter. Now Money McBags understands the appeal of Joes jeans about as much as he understands the appeal of Desperate Houswives or unshaved lady parts (and that is not at all). They are expensive jeans which people really have no reason to buy given the recession and cheaper alternatives. That said, Joe’s grew net sales by 42% as apparently people not only like the jeans but things called “woven shirts” and “denim leggings” (we’ll assume “pants ponies” are not one of Joe’s SKUs). The company earned about $.05 per share (excluding their big one-time tax benefit due to chugging a jar of metamucil and thus releasing their valuation allowance) thanks to the increase in sales and a higher gross margin. For the year, they earned somewhere between $.09 and $.13 depending on how you want to deal with their taxes and had around $3MM of EBITDA in the latest Q. On the call they talk about aggressively growing stores and categories so they will continue to expand which means a bigger marketing spend and a more complicated business to manage. On the positive side, they have $13MM cash, no debt, and products that snugly fit the lovely Anna Lynne McCord. It’s possible that they can continue to grow and keep gross margins the same with some better channel distribution, so maybe they earn $.15 per share next year, though that is a total stab in the dark guess based on growth off of last year and something analysts refer to as “putting a finger in the air.” The company is trading at around $1.85 today, is rapidly growing, and is relatively cheap (1.5x current revenue and if they can best their current earnings number, under 20x eps). If you want retail risk in this shaky economy, this is one way to get that with some pretty nice upside. Money McBags will not be purchasing JOEZ, despite the potentially good returns, because he just doesn’t get overpriced jeans and never trusts the easily changing fashion tastes of US consumers (the ones who brought you the rat tail and Hammer pants). That said, people are making money here and it does not appear to be ridiculously overpriced for a growth company.
2/3/10 Midafternoon Report: Market seeking direction like troubled teen in ABC afterschool special, though with less crying and less Meredith Baxter Birney
The market is mostly lower today despite some moderately postive macro reports (moderately positive in the way that learning you have syphilis is moderately more positive than learning you have nut cancer). The ISM said the service industry expanded in January for the first time in three months, which may be one reason RICK is bouncing back today since they provide the type of service into which all industries should be expanding. While the ISM’s index for the service industry rose to a whopping 50.5 (and again, for those of you playing at home, anything above 50 signals growth, so 50.5 signals about as much growth as Ben Bernanke’s cranium follicles), it was slightly below analyst estimates. Also, ADP came out with their job data for January showing only 22k jobs had been cut which was inline with forecasts and the smallest drop in two years which is good news for everyone but those 22k people who lost their jobs or the 15MM or 20MM (what’s 5MM among friends) people who remain unemployed.
In world news, the EU is getting all up in Greece’s souvlaki telling Greece that they are ok with the deficit reduction plan but will be watching them closer than a 25 year old virgin watches the lovely Amanda Seyfried at a movie premier (and as an aside, Money McBags had never heard of the delightful Ms. Seyfried until yesterday but he will now be investigating her full body of work which we can all assume is spanktacular. Unexpectedly finding this charming young lass is like finding that that undervalued small cap stock with no analyst coverage, growing at 40%, and trading at less than 4x cash flow). The EU commissioner for economic and monetary affairs called the Greek government’s objectives and targets “ambitious” but”“achievable.” He added, “every time we observe slippages we will ask the Greek authorities to adopt additional measures such as putting less tzatzki sauce on their gyros, conserving water by showering only twice a month instead of their usual three times, and allowing Maria Menounos to man the Athens welcome center kissing booth.”
In stock news, investors are getting less confident in the market with the expectations that the market will fall 10% or more at its highest level since 1984 according to a survey of investment writers. Of course those investment writers also thought 2008 would be a banner year for the S&P, Dewey would defeat Truman, and Fermat’s last thereom would go unsolved (hey guys, all you had to do was carry the 1). Money McBags was happily not one of the writers polled because he refuses to be associated with other financial writers and their groupthink (plus there was that incident last year at the Financial Writers of America Conference involving a punch bowl and a Money McBags’ turd, so it’s not clear he is welcome anyway). Also, Time Warner and AOL both put up good quarters, just not together, as they proved that two heads are often better than one (unless the head in question is Bar Refaeli‘s, and then one is perfectly acceptable). Time Warner not only beat estimates, but they raised their dividend thanks to strength in their film and cable business which was able to provide a boost for continuing publishing declines (why buy an investment magazine when you can read Money McBags for free?). AOL’s earnings were $.01 per share, though their revenue shrunk by 17% because people don’t use fucking dial-up internet service anymore. Jeesh. To diversify out of the dial-up business, AOL is said to be working on an updated abacus (featuring different colored beads), tins for dageurreotypes, and a re-invention of the wheel (they are apparently making it square).
In small cap news, HDIX (aptly named H sucks a DIX by Money McBags who owned them for a while last year) is up 89% on a buyout proposal from a Japanese company named Nipro (or as it’s pronounced in the US, Nipple). HDIX makes cheap over the counter diabetes blood test readers that sell for less than half the price of competitor’s products and work just as well. It was that thesis that led Money McBags to buy the stock last year as the recession should have caused people to trade down, of course it was HDIX’s shitty performance that caused Money McBags to sell well before today’s payoff. In other news, CKSW is down after their inline Q though guidance was for slighly above street revenue estimates for 2010. Money McBags has yet to fully go through their quarter but the sell-off is likely because license revenue did not grow. That said, their book to bill was greater than 1 (and book to bill is a strong leading indicator of future performance, like packs of unopened condoms at the beginning of a gang bang), they are forecasting near 20% growth, and are trading at 16x or so 2010 earnings or 3x revenues. The company isn’t terribly cheap, but they are growing, their fleet optimization software is supposed to be the best in the business, and they have a burgeoning partnership with SAP to deliver this software. Money McBags will look in to their Q a bit more tonight, but this is another watch list stock for all of you out there because they have a market leading technology in a growing market and a huge partner (SAP). This smells more of an acquisition candidate than Paris Hilton smells of AIDS.
The market is bouncing back today even though it is a relatively quiet day news wise (though not as quiet as a Lindsay Lohan straight to video movie premier or a Trappist monk game of hide and seek). Pending home sales in the US rose 1% after falling 16% last month thanks to renewed tax credits and something called math. Sure the 1% rise is good, but it is still down 15% from October, so let’s not break open the bottles of Dom and tins of beluga just yet. The biggest problem with home sales is that frictional unemployment has dropped the frictional and is just plain old unemployment. People are no longer moving between jobs and thus moving to new houses because, to close the transitive logic, there are no jobs. Also, Paul Volcker is supposed to testify in front of the Senate Banking Committee today where the 82 year old will rant about proprietary trading at banks, how he used to walk 2 miles up hill both ways to get to school, and then wonder why none of the dames look like Clara Bow anymore. The banking industry awaits Lord Volcker’s testimony like a necrophiliac awaits the cremation of a loved one.
In global macro news, Australia held their interest rates flat which was somewhat of a surprise since their economy is healthier than a vial of Jack LaLanne‘s urine (and that is for my older readers, but I can assure you young’ens out there that there is nothing on this planet healthier than the dickwater of the workout guru Mr. LaLanne who even at the age of 96 still can still rip a man’s heart out with his pinky finger). For those sheltered Americans out there, Australia is more than just boomerangs, crocodiles, and Miranda Kerr and Patsy Kensit pillow fights (though if it were just Miranda Kerr-Patty Kensit pillow fights, that would be sufficient). For the past several years Australia has benefitted from being close enough to China to supply it with natural resources out the wazzou while serving as a middleman in the shipping/trade business. Additonally, their banks missed out on the opportunity to cut up packages of mortgages and sell them for additional yield by inflating the mortgage market through lending money to speculators who bought and then sold houses to other speculators who couldn’t afford the houses in what is known now as the subprime vicious circle (and the circle was even more vicious than a daisy chain at an overeaters anonymous meeting). The point being, Australia has had a robust economy during this downturn and thus Australia holding their rates is a bit of a good sign that inflation is not running away, but it is more likely just a pause in their monetary rate hikes
As for stocks, Lexmark put up a huge quarter tripling earnings to $.76 a share and giving guidance for next Q of $.80, thus besting the $.62 earnings per share estimates. The printer maker also beat revenue projections and attributed their success to strong customer demand and the fact that HP makes such shitty printers. UPS also saw profits triple, yet their topline was down 2.5% and their CFO said the first quarter ”will be the most challenging of the year.” He then said it will be more challenging than the time they tried to ship a plane full of angry circus bears who hadn’t eaten in a week. However, the CEO said “It looks like this recession is finally over,” so I guess there’s nothing to see here.
In small cap news, ARTG was upgraded or maintained at strong buy today by most analysts on the street even though they chose to dilute shareholders yesterday like ice cubes in a Makers Mark at an overpriced NYC bar. Money McBags addressed this in yesterday’s Midday Report and its comments section, but ARTG has plenty of cash on their balance sheet so the capital raise is likely for a big acquisition and thus investors need have confidence in ARTG’s management team’s ability to negotiate and integrate a large deal before they become shareholders. Estimates are for around $.20 earnings for 2010 but $.25 could be reasonable so the stock isn’t expensive (nor extremely cheap) at 16x to 20x earnings. COOL is up 5% today as investors perhaps forgot the assrapingly bad Q they recently put up (here were Money McBags thoughts) though this should give shorts a better entry point. And TSYS was initiated as a buy by JP Morgan and a $12 price target and this is a company Money McBags has followed off and on for a while and used to own. They basically provide licenses for text messaging to carriers, location based services (like E911), and satcom solutions for the government. You really only need to know that text messaging is still growing 100% a year (TSYS powered almost 2B messages a day last year, which is fuckload of teenagers saying “cu l8r”) and they provide gateways for carriers to be able send these volumes of text messages. These licenses are sold as a step function so the company’s revenues haven’t scaled lockstep with the exponential growth of text messaging, plus there is competition and the pricing keeps coming down. That said, they did recently get a new deal with Verizon and their government business has been a solid performer. Estimates are for TSYS to earn $80MM of EBITDA in 2010 and they are currently trading at around 6.5x EV/EBITA. That is very cheap for a company that can still grow 20%+ (though the growth rate has been declining and that is not all organic growth). Today may be a good entry point though as the stock has been trading down and earnings are in two days so the JP Morgan analyst would not want to release a glowing report of the company two days before earnings were he/she not confident in the numbers. Now look, Money McBags is prone to mocking analysts like Adam Sandler is prone to starring in bad movies and Alexis Texas is prone to having to try on many pairs of jeans until she finds a pair to properly fit her best asset, so having faith in this JP Morgan analyst is a bit hypocritcial (though not as hypocritical as Larry Craig’s gay rights (wide) voting stance), but the timing of the report should be a signal that TSYS’s Q will be good or else the JP Morgan analyst is a complete dope (and unfortunately we can’t rule that out, so let’s say a 25% chance because JP Morgan is mildly reputable). It may be worth picking up some shares for at worst a trade. Money McBags does not own TSYS right now but may buy some before earnings after he does some more digging. If any of you have done work recently on TSYS, feel free to share with the rest of us, and if any of you have Hayley Atwell‘s phone number, feel free to share that too.
2/1/10 Midday Report: Pat Sajak miffed as $3.8T budget allows government to buy as many vowels as they’d like.
Obama’s budget is out and it looks like more stimulus is coming as the administration continues to try to sweep the recession under the rug (though I hear it is a delightful afgahn this time as Mrs. Obama has uncomparable taste). The budget is roughly $3.8T which is equivalent to 190MM lap dances or as it is known in the NFL, “Wednesday.” Who knows, spending our way out of this recession may work, as I have found that spending my way out of depressions by dropping $20 bills like they’re unpinned hand grenades (which is fast, furious, and with immaculate precision) at my local Rick’s cabaret, is a suitable remedy. Basically, the new budget is attempting to buy more time for the economy to recover on its own while channeling its inner Keynes and hoping the multiplier on GDP is somewhere near 1 billion. Given the exponential pace of technological innovation and Keynes’ logically thought out and unprovable equations (like all of economics with its oh so idealisitic goals which never work in the complexity of the real world, like a contractor with no competition or anything made in China) it is possible it could work. The only problem is it gives investors more mixed signals than an indecisive three year old with tourettes. Q4 GDP seemed decent, but it was driven largely by stimulus spend so it is hard to gauge if the economy really did improve (Money McBags maintains that inventories were just being built back up and may have even overshot their targets since consumer spend was stimulus driven). Of course, to pay for the new stimulus, taxes will go up on the evil banks who we bailed out who continue to get money for free, big businesses, oil, gas and coal producers, people who make more than $250k, and Gabe Kaplan. But fear not because the budget does contain a plan to trim future deficits to give or take $1T (that is unless things remain bad) so Keynesians can still rejoice that in either case the US will still owe a fuckload of money.
In macro news, the market is up today as the ISM reported that manufacturing in the US expanded at its fastest rate since August of 2004, back when everyone was buying new flat screen tvs for the 8 houses they were about to flip. The index rose to 58.4, besting analysts forecasts and the 54.9 reading of December. Anything over 50 signals expansion which means my pants are constantly over 50 whenever Jessica Simpson comes over for dinner. Also, personal income was up .4% slightly ahead of estimates while consumer spending was also up .2% but below estimates.
In stock news, Exxon Mobil’s proft fell 23% but they still beat estimates thanks to their exploration and production businesses as well as higher oil prices (OPEC this, bitches). They did have some weakness in refining to the tune of a $287MM loss which may signal a shift from those gas guzzling SUVs and will likely require CEO Lee Raymond to stop double dipping his balls in gold (only one dip now Mr. Raymond).
In small stock news ARTG and ISYS both beat estimates and yet are trading very differently today with ARTG, to use a technical term, taking it in the yingus. ARTG provides services to help power and optimitize e-commerce and we all know that even in this poor economy, e-commerce continues to grow faster than a Yeti’s taint hair (and trust me that is fast, but don’t ask how I know). They earned $.06 non-gaap on 9% revenue growth and recurring revenue grew to over 50%. They did around $10MM of EBITDA which would put them at a EV/EBITDA run rate of 10x to 11x but if they can continue to grow even modestly, they could earn almost $.30 next year. With $85MM in cash, the company is now trading at around 13x next year’s earnings with a nice cash cushion, though not as nice as Carmen Kinsley’s cushion. But here’s the thing, they annonuced a 25MM share offering today despite all of that cash and gave the bland statement that it is for working capital and other general corporate purposes, such as possible acquisitions and the beginning of “Lobster Tail Tuesday’s” in the company cafeteria. With 134MM shares already outstanding, adding another 25MM dilutes the company by about 16% and thus the previous numbers all have to be reduced (the $.30 eps this year is more like $.25). The stock is down 10% on the dilution, so actually up a bit on the decent quarter and now trading at around 16x a potential $.25 eps number which is still relatively cheap for a company growing like ARTG and selling at a lower multiple than comps. The big unknown is why a company with $85MM in cash and with positive cash flow from operations who could have been an acquisition candidate themselves, needs to dilute shareholders for another $100MM. Their biggest competitor is IBM so clearly $180MM is not going to allow them to take over Big Blue, so the question becomes who do they plan to buy with the capital raise or what business do they plan to enter? Money McBags awaits to get some clarity on their use of cash but the company remains in an advantaged market and is trading at a reasonable, though not cheap multiple, so deserves paying attention to. As for ISYS, they earned $37MM in revenue and had net income grow 50% to $2MM with gross margins expanding above their target 37% to 38.4%. ISYS basically builds satellite systems for the military and after going through a few years of CEO turmoil and being in tertiary businesses, they have seemingly turned the company around and started to focus on their core capabilities. The company has talked about a goal for 2010 of $20MM of EBITDA (analysts are closer to $15MM) and the company currently has about a $120MM enterprise value so is trading at 6x EV/EBITDA that goal. Of course, the recent Q had $2.5ishMM of EBITDA so the $20MM relies on the rest of the year to pick-up. They are up 5% today on their decent Q and if they can continue to improve margins and win deals, they could easily trade above $10. It’s not the sexiest company in the world, but the relaince on military spending which per Obama’s new budget isn’t subject to the discretionary freeze, should give them ample revenue opportunities.
The market is bouncing around today even though GDP grew 5.7%, the fastest pace in 6 years and beat estimates of 4.7% growth. The upside was led by a restocking of inventories from their depressed levels (and inventories were more depressed than Kathy Griffin’s bikini waxer the time she ran out of rubber gloves). The change in inventories accounted for 3.4% of the growth with purchases of equipment and software up 13%, negating the 15% drop in commercial construction because building cardboard boxes is so much cheaper than actual homes. So the question becomes is this a one quarter inventory rebuilding and stimulus induced anomaly or are we really on the way to a recovery? In the delightful Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s model on the stages of grief (and for those who missed Ms. Kubler-Ross’s induction into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 2007, the finger sandwiches were to die for), the economy has passed steps one and two by moving past denial (we are definitely fucked) and anger (openly calling for Dick Fuld to have his dick folded) and is now in the bargaining stage (please hire me, please, please). Unfortunatley the next stage is depression, which hopefully isn’t caused by another market crash when inventories fail to turn and/or by China’s bubble bursting like Christina Hendricks’ bustier. Of course the last stage is acceptance and with any luck we will be accepting growth and recovery and not the realization that we are Japan circa 1989 or Taylor Rain‘s lovely backside in her brilliant performance in 2004′s much overlooked film, Apprentass.
What is most concerning to Money McBags is that the market has been selling good news and is trading down now that the expected results are coming in much better. Of the 195 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported earnings since Jan. 11, 154 have beaten analysts’ estimates, according to Bloomberg data. That is an amazing stat and yet the market rally seems to have fizzled out like Lindsay Lohan‘s singing career (and acting career, and pretty much anything other than her whoring career, which actually makes us all winners).
The other big news of the day is that Ben Bernanke was confirmed by the Senate for another 4 year term by a 70 to 30 vote. The thirty who voted against him also voted for Mountain Dew in the Pepsi challenge, Curly Joe as their favorite of the 3 Stooges, and Anna Karenina as their favorite Tolstoy novel. Money McBags is a Bernanke supporter and thinks he has done a perfectly reasonable job as Fed Chairman, so kudos and huzzah for the Senate who took a wide stance and voted bi-partisanly on this one.
In stock news, MSFT earnings were up 60% thanks to Windows 7 and a little something they refer to as a “monopoly.” They beat estimates by $.15 by earning $.74 per share and promised that with earnings like this Bill Gates may finally be able to move out of his mother’s basement. Amazon also put up a huge quarter with sales rising 43% and earnings coming in at a robust $.85 per share, well ahead of the $.72 estimates. They also announced a $2B share buyback which boggles the mind considering that they are trading at 50x next year’s earnings and with the iPad coming in to the market and potentially taking share away from the Kindle. Why a commodity business with low barriers to entry should trade at 50x is beyond me, but then again, so is M-theory and all of it’s absurdly thought out 11 dimensions.
In small cap news MED and ZAGG continue to trade down while EBIX gives back some of their gains from yesterday. CRUS is also down despite their better than street guidance yesterday and run of analyst upgrades today. Money McBags did dip his toe into the CRUS waters yesterday (and it was delightfully stripper piss warm) and buy a small position so go buy some iPhones. Next week promises to be a wild week in the small cap space with more earnings announcements than Jack Nicholson has chins, so enjoy your weekend and be prepared.
1/28/10 Midday Report: Global economy still more fragile than faberge egg wrapped in Donald Trump’s ego
The market is down again today thanks to Qualcomm giving a subdued forecast and something again about people not having jobs. Luckily, according to the Fed, the recession may be over which has left many of the 10% of unemployed people loudly cheering from their urine stained cardboard boxes. The Fed upgraded its economic outlook, reaffirmed it will end liquidity backstops and a $1.25T program to buy mortgage-backed securities, and then shook their magic wand over the grave of Benjamin Strong while singing an incantantion from the Atharva Veda. While they pledged to keep the benchmark rate low for an “extended period” (and remember by low they mean zero, and by zero they mean free money for banks), they did question how long inflation will remain “subdued” citing the fact that they just printed enough money to deplete the rain forest or for PacMan Jones to make it rain for six consecutive hours at his local Rick’s cabaret.
Despite the Fed’s modestly upbeat statement, weekly claims for unemployment came out today and while they were slightly better than last week (in the same way that Paris Hilton is only slightly dumber than a centipede), they were still worse than expectations as there were 470k new filers and expectations were for 450k. Additionally, durable goods orders were well below expectations growing .3% in December vs. expectations of 1.7% growth. This was driven by a 38% decline in orders for civilian aircraft, a 5% decline in orders for computers, and a 10% decline in things that “cost money.” However, if transportation is excluded, durable goods orders grew .9% which was above the .5% median estimate. So as always, you show me some data and I’ll make it look good or bad, depending on what you want to hear (she was fat, she had a good personality. Potato, puhtaato). Those analysts who have used Excel have a word for it, it’s called “solver.”
In international news, George Soros is now looking for a seat on the “China is a bubble” bandwagon joining Jim Chanos and everyone else looking at the market on a daily basis. I’m not saying China is moving too fast, but it shunned foreplay and offers of lube and then demanded to receive immediate insertion in to it’s Shanghai. Also Greece continues to worry economists but at least they are being honest about their problems as their finance minister, George Papanotgonnaworkhereanymore, has denied reaching out to other governments for help. Despite needing to raise an estimated 54B in euros, the finance minister said they can solve their budget crisis themselves and currently “have no plan B,” which puts him with Joseph Hazelwood, Tischman Speyer Properties, and John McCain.
As for earnings today, Ford posted a $2.7B profit for 2009 which was their first profit since 2005 and they now expect to also be profitable in 2010. When asked how he did it, Ford CEO Alan Mulally said “two words: vibrating seats.” NetFlix also put up a huge quarter earning $.59 per share vs. analyst estimates of $.49 per share. The company citied that 48% of users had watched streaming videos up from 41% in Q3 and 28% in Q4 2008 which should help deflate some business model concerns that people will stop using DVDs and shift to the on demand delivery model because NetFlix is showing it can also sucessfully provide movies on demand (unless you demand adult movies because NetFlix is prude).
In small cap news today CRUS is trading down heavily after they had their quarterly release which was exactly inline with their pre-announcement and included guidance above the street. Guidance was for next Q to have $55MM-$59MM in revenue, 54% to 56% gross margins, and $24MM-$26MM in operating costs with $1.5MM being non-gaap. Remember, this company is barely paying taxes right now so you can get to about $.11 of non-gaap earnings for next Q which is above the $.09 of the street. Now the stock could be trading down with AAPL being down since they provide an IC for audio in the iPhone and there could be concerns that the iPad will cannibalize iPhone sales and thus hurt CRUS’s revenue, but I have no idea if they are providing any ICs for the iPad so that is just conjecture for why they may be down today. Money McBags laid out his case for CRUS after their pre-announcement on 1/12/10 and said this: “Money McBags would hold off on buying today, but there is still probably $2-$4 of upside (15x FY 2011 $.60 estimates + $2ish in cash per share) and that is if the energy market does not have a big comeback. It is worth tuning into their 1/28/10 call to see what they have to say, so put this on your watch list and be ready to buy the dip.” So he is now going to listen to their call and may buy this dip (though he hasn’t yet so as always, do your own research).
In other small cap news, EBIX pre-annonuced that they had $10.3MM cash from operations in the Q, $19.3MM cash on the balance sheet, will be resuming buybacks, and are in fact a real business. The CEO, Robin Raina, also gave this statement: “In recent times, I have been asked about the decline in stock price and the rather high shorting numbers on our stock. As the CEO of Ebix and one of the largest stakeholders, I continue to believe in Ebix and the opportunity to make Ebix the largest insurance player globally. The Company continues to do well on all fronts and we expect Q4 results to be in line with our expectations. We have always believed in letting our numbers speak for themselves and towards that extent we will continue our efforts to create new benchmarks in terms of revenues, cash growth, earnings, and net margins for Ebix.” Money McBags has mentioned it here before, EBIX has a ridiculously good business from a numbers perspective, but there are concerns as to how real those numbers are given their predilection for firing auditors, complexity of business model and tax domiciles, and a CEO who thinks he is god’s greatest gift to the planet (when we all know that Hanna Hilton is god’s greatest gift, with duck confit and spankwire.com being a close second and third). The point is, this is either a ridiculously great buying opportunity for EBIX or you are just going to be giving your money away. As Money McBags can’t say which with any certainty, he is happy to sit on the sidelines as a spectator, though he’d be happier to be sitting on the sidelines as a spectator for the upcoming Brooklyn Decker photo shoot or the live reunion of the cast from the Facts of Life.
1/27/10 Midday Report: In bid to increase approval ratings, Obama to unveil Apple Tablet at State of the Union address as a panacea for US budget problems
The market continues to limp it’s way down as investors await tonight’s State of the Union address where President Obama is likely to whip out his small business tax breaks and smack them against a non-defense discretionary spending budget freeze. This budget freeze supposedly applies to 17% of the Federal budget and will have enough loopholes in it to make it less well-followed than the failed reality TV series: Federal Reserve Bank Governor Idol (though Sandra Pianalto yelling at Chuck Evans for leaving the toilet seat up in the house was must see TV). It does likely mean that the president won’t be getting the X-Box he asked for for his birthday as times are tough. In addition to Obama going after the budget tonight, Apple is set to finally release their new tablet which has techies more excited than they were for the release of Avatar, extra-strength Accutane, or Olivia Munn’s Princess Leia photos. Honestly, Money McBags has not seen anything this eagerly anticipated since the release of those vapidly redundant Harry Potter books or Hanna Hilton’s first girl on girl scene (and Money McBags gave that two bums up). The tablet is supposed to be so awesome that it is said to have cured Steve Jobs’ cancer and to run on the tears of baby unicorns. And finally, the FOMC is meeting today with Bernanke expected to keep rates at their current 0 to 25bps or what we in the business call “free.”
While the market awaits that news, there were some macro-reports that came out which highlight the worries people are starting to get about the economy. New home sales fell in December by 7.6% and were short of expectations as analysts expected sales to rise (and I believe this now makes analysts’ incorrect prediction of the simple 50-50 guess at the direction of home sales statistically significant at the 95% level, so they’ve got that going for them). Home sales were down as a result of the government tax breaks drying up and the forgotten fact that no one has any money. Plus as the job market is more frozen than an Alaskan’s nuts after a midnight skinny dip in Lake Chilkoot (and yes that is really the name of Lake in Alaska), people simply aren’t moving.
In world news, Greece teeters on bankruptcy causing investors to stock up on credit default swaps of sovereign debt and all the tzatziki sauce on which they can get their hands. Greece is trying to remedy the situation by pawning off 25B of Euro bonds to China as well as stadium naming rights to the Parthenon, and the Golden Fleece. The flight to quality and away from sovereign debt like Greece has caused one month treasuries to have a negative yield for the first time since March of last year which is about as good of an omen for the stock market as stairs are for Stephen Hawking.
Berkshire Hathaway’s B shares are shooting up today like a young Drew Barrymore as word is they will be added to the S&P 500 index after their acquisition of BNI. Also, Toyota announced they will be shutting down production on eight lines of cars which make up 57% of their 2009 sales due to problems with the accelerator pedals seemingly caused by something called a friction lever. A friction lever joke is way too easy for Money McBags but this bears watching as the street wonders if Toyota has started to slack on their quality which has been their competitive advantage. In other stock news, YHOO turned a profit despite a 4% drop in year over year revenue. Revenue was up 10% sequentially and management said they see search revenue stabilizing so any investor who wants to own a portfolio of market laggards, now is your time to buy.
As for small cap stocks, ZAGG once again continues to trade down making Money McBags’ bet on 12/31/09 seem even better as it was likely risk free. So just remember, betting against Money McBags is like challenging Greg Oden to a cock off (very NSFW or actually anyone, but the news needs reporting), you can’t possibly win. And SMCI put up a huge quarter. Now SMCI basically makes custom servers and server solutions for businesses, usually being the first to market with new INTC chips, hence the Nehalem release has been driving new business for them. They just put up $.22 of earning per share on $182MM of revenue (up 42% y/y), easily beating analyst estimates of $.17 and $160MM. The company also gave above street guidance of $.18 to $.21 eps for next Q and $180MM of revenue in what is typically a down quarter for the industry. SMCI is an extremely well run little niche company with $82MM of cash on their balance sheet and no debt. They have a competitive advantage in that they are small and nimble (like Speedy Gonzales or the slightly smaller and more nimble, Shawn Johnson) and therefore can be first to market and customize at the same time. The company may be peaking but on the call management said they could get back to 30% growth rates as the end of the year should be good for them with AMD and INTC introducing new products. Estimates for fiscal 2011 are for around $1.10 and they are currently trading at 13 or so times that not including their cash after today’s run up. This should be a cyclical company and this may be the top of the cycle as they have just strung together some very good quarters so Money McBags would not be buying today as the easy money has likely been made. That said, this really is a quality company and has proven over time that they are good at what they do and well managed. Should there be a dip, this is definitely a company to accumulate but either way it is worth doing your own research here as they could continue to outperform.