Wall Street Breakfast: Where’s The Value These Days? (www.futurityfirst.com)

economy2

Economy

China’s factory activity declined at its fastest pace in a year, according to HSBC/Markit’s Purchasing Managers Index. PMI fell to 49.2 (est. 49.6) in April, beneath the 50-point watermark that separates growth from a contraction. In Japan, manufacturing fell to 49.7 (est. 50.8), dropping below 50 for the first time since July 2014.

Stocks ended higher Wednesday after a steady advance, with the Nasdaq finishing fewer than 15 points away from its all-time high, lifted by better than expected earnings and an upbeat report on the housing market. All 10 S&P sectors registered gains, with tech (+1.1%) leading the way.

Gold tumbled to its sharpest single-session loss in more than six weeks Wednesday after strong U.S. existing home sales raised expectations for a Fed interest rate hike in June. Gold futures fell $16.20 (-1.4%) to settle at $1,186.90/oz., while silver fell 1.3% to $15.77. Metal miners fell in sympathy:ABX -3.4%, AU -4%, GG -2.8%, SBGL -6.8%, GOLD -1.5%, AUY -3.7%, NG-1.9%, GFI -5%, SLW -2.1%, PAAS -3.5%, NEM -3.1%, EGO -1.4%, RGLD-2.1%, FNV -3.4%, KGC -1.7%, IAG -4.1%, BTG -2.5%, HL -3.8%, AGI-5.4%, AUQ -4.4%.

Boston Fed chief Eric Rosengren cautioned that weak growth data could delay interest rate hikes. “There has definitely been a weakness to the tone of the data. The employment report was weak. That was little bit of a surprise… Certainly what is happening globally with Greece and China would indicate that there may be more softness elsewhere in the world than we might have anticipated a few months ago. That is not a particularly positive development.”

Now might be a good time for U.S. investors to pick up relatively cheap overseas assets, Research Associates’ Michele Mazzoleni says. People are buying dollars in anticipation of higher U.S. rates, but there is no certainty, and some Fed officials appear to be having misgivings about tightening policy too soon, in part due to the strong dollar.

Existing homes sold at the fastest pace in 18 months in March – a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 5.19M, up 6.1% from February and 10.4% from a year ago. The median existing-home price of $212.1K is up 7.8% Y/Y.

22% of hybrid and electric car owners trading in this year opted to go for a SUV, up from 18.8% a year ago and 11.9% three years ago, as lower gas prices shift the breakeven point. The rate at which hybrid and EV car owners bought another green car fell below 50%.

What’s value these days? “We have consumer staples (NYSEARCA:XLP) and healthcare stocks (NYSEARCA:XLV) trading on average at 20x earnings and five times book value – while these stocks aren’t often thought of as value, they actually comprise 20% of the Russell 1000 Value (NYSEARCA:IWB) index,” Richard Pzena said on the company’s (NYSE:PZN) earnings call yesterday. Add REITs and utilities to the mix and it’s pretty hard to call that value index “value” anymore. “The natural question: Is it different this time? Does this era of low interest rates presage something permanently different… We believe that the odds of such an outcome are low.” Pzena presumably remains bullish on the large-cap financial sector names (NYSEARCA:XLF) which continue to be weighed down by ZIRP.

Stocks

The FCC recommended that the proposed Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA)/Time Warner Cable (NYSE:TWC) merger undergo a hearing, seen by some as a “deal-killer.” A hearing would put the merger in the hands of an administrative law judge, a strong sign the FCC doesn’t see the merger to be in the public interest.

Shares of NCR jumped 6% in post-market trading following a report it (NYSE:NCR) is exploring strategic alternatives such as asset divestitures, buybacks, and a dividend; a full sale of the company is a less likely option. The report comes two months after activist Jana Partners disclosed a 7.1% stake and ahead of NCR’s April 28 Q1 report.

Less than three years after striking a deal to buy Motorola Home for $2.35B, Arris (NASDAQ:ARRS) announced it’s buying U.K. set-top hardware/software provider Pace (OTC:PCMXF) for $2.1B in cash and stock. Pace shareholders will own 24% of the post-merger company. The fragmented nature of the global set-top industry could help secure regulatory approval. The deal is expected to close in late 2015. ARRS +28% AH.

China said it will open up bank card processing to foreign firms, sending shares of Visa (NYSE:V) +4.3% and MasterCard (NYSE:MA) +3.9% higher. Morgan Stanley thinks the firms could begin operations in China in late 2016 or early 2017, which could add $336M to $360M in revenue for Visa and $224M to $240M for MasterCard by 2021.

China said Thursday it will scrap export duties on rare earths and some metal products, including molybdenum, tungsten and some aluminum products, effective May 1. Beijing is attempting to boost exports, which fell 15% Y/Y in March. Currently, China levies export duties of 15-20% on rare earth products, while molybdenum products carry export duties of 5-20%. Stocks: MCP, REE, AVL, GSM, GMO, OSN, REMX.

The gulf coast will see $100B in new industrial projects, leading to “tremendous growth in the use of natural gas,” Kinder Morgan (NYSE:KMI) CEO Richard Kinder predicts. The growth of gas production in the Marcellus and Utica shales has profoundly affected the flow of gas, which has historically flowed from the producing regions of Louisiana and Texas to markets in the northeast. Separately, Nomura was bullish Wednesday on the E&P sector, issuing Buy ratings for MRO, PXD, EOG, CLR, APC, NFX, RRC, CNQ, CXO, ECAand SU, while not predicting a V-shaped rebound in crude oil prices.

Embattled Associated Estates agreed to sell itself to a property fund managed by Brookfield Asset Management (NYSE:BAM) for $28.75/share in cash. The deal is expected to close in H2. AEC closed +16.3%.

McDonald’s rose 3.1% as investors focused on the May 4 unveiling of a turnaround plan. Restaurant analysts think MCD, channeling Ray Kroc’s “take risks” mantra, could tip a more dramatic transition for the company than originally forecast.

ASML signed an agreement with “a major U.S. customer” to deliver a minimum of 15 ASML EUV lithography systems, sending ASML up 10.3%. The client is most likely Intel (NASDAQ:INTC), which invested $4.1B in ASML in 2012 to bolster its EUV efforts but has been non-committal on when it will begin using EUV for commercial production.

Google launched its U.S. mobile service Wednesday with the help of network partners Sprint (NYSE:S) and T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS). Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL) is pricing aggressively and providing free roaming for the service, which is known as Project Fi. Google charges $20/month for voice, SMS, Wi-Fi tethering, and international roaming in 120+ countries; each GB of data (incl. roaming) costs an extra $10/month, and unused data is refunded. For now, Fi is only available via Motorola Mobility’s huge Nexus 6 phablet, limiting the near-term threat posed to U.S. carriers.

Omnicare closed +9.1% after gaining as much as 18% on reports OCR is reportedly working with financial advisors seeking a buyer.

Petrobras wrote down $2.1B in corruption-related charges during Q4 in the much-anticipated release of its first audited financial results since August. In addition, Petrobras (NYSE:PBR) booked a $14.8B impairment charge for 2014 after determining that assets were overvalued on its balance sheet. The company says it is still unable to complete and present Q3 audited results. PBR is struggling to avert a potential acceleration of debt payments, hoping to unlock Brazil’s corporate bond market. No Brazilian companies have sold debt overseas since Nov. 14.

There seems to be healthy interest in Nokia’s (NYSE:NOK) HERE mapping/navigation services unit. Potential buyers include Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), Uber, a consortium of German automakers, and a P-E firm. Nokia has also reached out to Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), Alibaba (NYSE:BABA), Baidu (NASDAQ:BIDU), Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), Sirius (NASDAQ:SIRI), and Harman (NYSE:HAR). First-round bids are reportedly due at the end of next week.

Iron ore prices enjoyed their biggest one-day jump since October 2012, rising 5.9% to more than $54/metric ton – still near 10-year lows – after BHP Billiton (NYSE:BHP) announced it is slowing the pace of its expansion program. Analysts say the decision will lower BHP’s capex profile over the next few years to preserve free cash flow to support the dividend and balance sheet, and could deflect some of the negative public commentary about surplus supply.

Uranium stocks surged Wednesday after Japan approved the reopening of nuclear reactors. CCJ +3.6%, DNN +8.3%, LEU +11.4%, URRE +10.45%, UEC+20%, URZ +6%, URG +9.7%, UUUU +6.9%.

Trinity Industries plunged 8.4% following a report that TRN‘s ET-Plus guardrail system is involved in a federal criminal investigation.

Vitamin Shoppe spiked 12.6% after activist investor Carlson Capital disclosed a 5.3% stake in VSI.

Deutsche Bank said it expects to be profitable in Q1 despite non-tax-deductible litigation costs of about €1.5B. Shares (NYSE:DB) were +0.4% on the day.

Wednesday’s key earnings

ABT +4% after beating on earnings and revenue. (link)
ANGI +4.9% after trading up 18% on strong sales guidance. (link)
BA -0.5% despite strong Q1 earnings on cash flow concerns. (link)
DHI -5.6% after strong FQ2 results but weak operating margin guidance. (link)
EBAY +6% AH after blowing past estimates. (link)
EMC +5.5% despite Q1 miss, light guidance. (link)
FB flat AH after falling 2.1%. Ad sales were hurt by a strong dollar. (link)
KO +1.2% after Q1 EPS and revenue beat expectations. (link)
LVS -4.7% AH on worse-than-forecast revenue decline. (link)
NVS +1.6% premarket after EPS beat and revenue came in soft. (link)
SKX +6.4% AH after a blowout Q1. (link)
T rose 1.2% AH after beating on EPS, posting best-ever churn. (link)
TXN -5.5% AH on Q1 miss, Q2 guidance. (link)
QCOM fell 1.6% AH after weak FQ3 guidance. (link)

Today’s Markets:
Asia: Japan +0.3%. Hong Kong -0.4%. China +0.4%.
Europe at midday: London +0.2%. Paris -0.5%. Frankfurt -0.6%.
Futures at 6:10: S&P -0.2%. Dow -0.2%. Nasdaq -0.2%. Crude -0.3%. Gold+0.1%.

Notable earnings before Thursday’s open: ABBV, AEP, ALK, ALXN, ASPS,AVT, BAX, BBT, BCC, BEAV, BHE, BKU, BMS, BTU, CAB, CAM, CAT, CFX, CLFD,CLI, CMS, COL, COR, CSL, DAN, DGX, DHR, DLX, DNKN, DOW, DPS, DPZ,DST, EQM, EQT, ERIC, FAF, FCX, FNB, GM, GMT, GPK, GRA, HP, HSY, HUB.B,IQNT, IR, IVC, JAH, JCI, JNS, KKR, LAZ, LLY, LTM, LUV, MDP, MDSO, MHO,MJN, MMM, MO, MTH, NDAQ, NUE, NVS, NWE, ORI, PENN, PEP, PG, PHM, PII,PNK, PRLB, PTEN, RS, RTIX, RTN, SFE, SNA, SQNS, STC, SUI, SWK, SXC,SYNT, UAL, UNP, USG, UTEK, WBC, WCC, WNS

Notable earnings after Thursday’s close: ACTG, ALGN, ALTR, AMZN,AWAY, BAS, BCR, BGS, BJRI, BLDR, CB, CBI, COF, CPHD, CVTI, CYN, DGII,DV, EFII, ELY, ETFC, ETH, FET, FICO, FII, FR, FSL, GHL, GIMO, GOOG, HA,HBHC, HBI, HUBG, HWAY, JNPR, KLAC, KN, LSTR, MKTO, MMSI, MSCC, MSFT,MTSN, MXIM, MXWL, N, NEM, NTGR, P, PEB, PFG, QDEL, QLIK, RGA, RHI,RMD, RSG, SBAC, SBUX, SFG, SHOR, SIVB, SPNC, SRCL, SWN, SYA, SYNA,TRN, UIS, VCRA, VRSN, WIRE, WRE

“Wall Street Breakfast: Where’s The Value These Days?” Web log post.Seeking Alpha. N.p., 23 Apr. 2015. Web. 27 Apr. 2015.

FFIG Objectivity.Innovation.Support

For more information, contact our Recruiting Manager Allie Vossoughi at allievossoughi@ffig.com & 602-314-7580, or Thomas Shultz, Managing Director  at thomasshultz@ffig.com & 602-314-7580, or Scottsdale Associate Managing Director Nancy Monaco at nancymonaco@ffig.com & 602-314-7580, or Scottsdale Associate Managing Investment Director Tom Bugbee at thomasbugbee@ffig.com & 602-314-7580.

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Thomas Bugbee

Futurity First Insurance Group

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