Global Market Comments
December 19, 2019
(WHY THE REAL ESTATE BOOM HAS A DECADE TO RUN),
(DHI), (LEN), (PHM), (ITB)
(PLAY IT SAFE WITH ANTHEM), (ANTM), (CI)
Global Market Comments
December 19, 2019
(WHY THE REAL ESTATE BOOM HAS A DECADE TO RUN),
(DHI), (LEN), (PHM), (ITB)
(PLAY IT SAFE WITH ANTHEM), (ANTM), (CI)
One of the notable lessons in value investing is this: boring is oftentimes a good thing. Tangible proof of this principle is to be found in Anthem Inc (ANTM), which is a virtually inconspicuous stock but is performing satisfactorily for its investors.
Here’s a brief background on this relatively obscure stock.
Anthem is offering various healthcare plans to corporations and individuals. The holding company also provides its services to Medicare and Medicaid markets, which are comprised of approximately 40 million Americans.
Aimed at becoming a one-stop-shop for its clients’ insurance needs, the company’s offerings include dental and vision services and life insurance. To date, Anthem is ranked among the top five healthcare and insurance providers in the United States while it placed No. 29 among Fortune 500 companies. Clearly, this “unknown” stock is one of the industry leaders today.
Where does Anthem currently stand?
While the healthcare industry seems to be struggling with countless changes courtesy of the Trump administration, Anthem appears to be well prepared to handle whatever comes its way.
Here’s a case in point.
Anthem had to retrench on their Obamacare services last year. Despite that, the company still impressed its investors with a 3.8% improvement in its operating revenue year over year. That’s not bad for an insurance company.
How did the company manage to recoup its losses? The lost revenues from Obamacare were counterbalanced by a boost in new insurance premiums along with an increase in the number of Medicare enrollments.
Since its fourth-quarter results in 2018 pleasantly surprised investors and analysts alike, it’s anticipated that Anthem will perform just as well or even better this year. So far, predictions for Anthem’s performance in 2019 remain bullish.
The stock market noticed. Since October, the stock has gone ballistic, rocketing an impressive 30%.
However, no company is perfect. One major red flag for Anthem is its ongoing lawsuit against another healthcare provider, Cigna (CI), over their botched merger plans. If the legal battle continues, then Anthem is poised to incur substantial long-term expenses.
All in all, Anthem is a solid stock that offers an attractive combination of stability and continuous long-term growth in anyone’s portfolio. Thus far, the company has performed well and managed to provide acceptable financial results to its investors.
Although its business has not grown by leaps and bounds, its modest growth in the past years and the projected consistency in its stock performance in the years to come make Anthem a reasonable investment.
Buy Anthem on the next decent dip.
Global Market Comments
December 18, 2019
(FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 7 PERTH, AUSTRALIA STRATEGY LUNCHEON)
(HOW THE MAD HEDGE MARKET TIMING ALGORITHM TRIPLED MY PERFORMANCE)
“There are no winners in trade wars. It’s just a question of who loses the most,” said former Fed governor Alan Greenspan.
What does the technology sector’s “last gasp up” mean for tech stocks?
At the Mad Hedge Lake Tahoe Conference in late October, I correctly identified that the tech sector would experience a last leg to the price appreciation that has been part of a broader 10-year bull market in American equities.
The past 7 weeks have been nothing short of spectacular for tech shares as not only have the heavy hitters delivered in spades, like Apple (AAPL) and Microsoft (MSFT), but tech growth shares have been released from the penalty box after a short-dated growth scare and joined the rally with zeal.
How long will the “last gasp up” last?
The bar was set exceptionally low in 2019 because senior management spun the trade war acrimony into the accounting calculus effectively offering CFOs a chance to lower expectations to the point of getting away with murder.
Even with earnings’ expectations reset at nadir data points, performance was a mixed bag.
Superior tech companies were able to jump over the pitiful expectations, then if that wasn’t enough, they pushed backwards any inklings of earnings growth by guiding as low as they possibly could.
An archetypal example is Palo Alto Networks (PANW) whose shares dipped more than 8.5% in pre-market trading after issuing their quarterly earnings report.
The company announced sales of $771.9 million with an adjusted EPS of $1.05 topping analysts’ estimates.
Why did shares sully?
Palo Alto Networks tanked guidance by telling investors they expect sales between $838 million and $848 million in the second quarter.
The expectation represented a midpoint sales forecast of $843 million, which is lower than the consensus estimates of $845.12 million.
The adjusted EPS in the second quarter is estimated to be $1.11–$1.13, below the consensus earnings forecast of $1.30.
Palo Alto Networks is forecasting sales between $3.44 billion and $3.46 billion with an EPS between $4.9 and $5.0 for next year, compared to analyst projections of $3.46 billion in revenue and an EPS of $5.07 in 2020.
PANW accounts for a big piece of the pie in the cybersecurity trade comprising 16.2% in 2019.
Overall industry growth is strong at 10.4%, and PANW managed to increase its sales by 22.3% to $633.7 million.
This cybersecurity company is one of my favorite tech stalwarts and is as rock-solid as they come for a second-tier tech growth company.
Another trend that dovetails closely with the last gasp up thesis is buying growth.
At this stage in the tech cycle, the low hanging fruit has been plucked and tech companies are increasingly finding it hard to generate organic growth.
Companies are now resorting to inorganic growth with Palo Alto Networks announcing that it will acquire Aporeto for $150 million in an all-cash transaction.
This isn’t just a one-off for PANW, they have acquired four other companies in 2019 to plug into their growth puzzle.
They have also completed the acquisition of an IoT cybersecurity firm Zingbox.
Palo Alto Networks acquired two cloud security startups in July as well – Demisto to gain traction in the AI security segment and Twistlock, the leader in container security.
The other top players in this field are Cisco (CSCO), Fortinet (FTNT) and Symantec (SYMC).
The bullish secular trend in cybersecurity is watertight and comments from Nikesh Arora, CEO of Palo Alto Networks, only reconfirmed the strength in cybersecurity when he said, “As a growing number of organizations move their business to the cloud, developers increasingly rely on cloud-native technologies such as containers and serverless infrastructure to accelerate the development, testing, and deployment of modern applications and services.”
What’s next for investors?
Barring any exogenous shocks, the last gasp up continues and recent macro policy developments have supported this hypothesis as well as the tailwinds of an improving economy.
Palo Alto Networks is part of a high growth segment and many corporates are on record contemplating lower enterprise tech spending heading into 2020.
This sets up another incredibly low bar for cybersecurity companies to hop over next year and I believe the best in show such as PANW, Fortinet, Cisco, and Symantec will pass with flying colors.
The interesting acid test will occur at the end of 2020 when tech firms and sub-segments of tech such, as cybersecurity, release commentary on whether 2021 guidance could signal ensuing risk of being dragged into recessionary turbulence.
A 2021 tech sector recession is certainly not priced into current tech share valuations in this frothy period of asset appreciation.
“I couldn’t imagine a more incompetent politician than myself.” – Said Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Salesforce Marc Benioff
Global Market Comments
December 17, 2019
(WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 5 MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA STRATEGY LUNCHEON)
(THE NEXT COMMODITY SUPER CYCLE HAS ALREADY STARTED)
(COPX), (GLD), (FCX), (BHP), (RIO), (SIL),
(PPLT), (PALL), (GOLD), (ECH), (EWZ), (IDX)
Global Market Comments
December 16, 2019
(MARKET OUTLOOK FOR THE WEEK AHEAD, or THE GOOD NEWS IS OUT)
(FXI), (AAPL), (FXB), (VIX), (USO), (BABA), (NSC), (MSFT), (GOOGL)
After a China trade deal, UK election and a NAFTA 2.0 are announced, what is left to drive the stock market?
That is a very good question and explains why the Dow Average was up only a microscopic 3.33 points on Friday. It had spent much of the day down.
It’s not a pretty picture.
Not only is the market running out of drivers, the economic data is still decelerating, with the GDP running a 1.5% rate, inflation rising, and corporate earnings growth at zero, with earnings multiples at 17-year high.
A Wiley Coyote moment comes to mind.
And while we are finishing a great 27% year (56% for the Mad Hedge Fund Trader), we are in effect getting three years of performance packed into one. Not only did we pull forward a good chunk of 2020’s performance, we borrowed heavily from 2018 as well, coming in at such a low start as we did.
Thus 2019 might well get bookended by an 8% gain in 2018 and another 8% year in 2020, with dividends. Blame it all on the massive liquidity burst we got from the Fed that started last December and continues unabated.
Stocks have been floated by a tidal wave of new money creation worldwide. Globally, new money creation is running at a $1 trillion a month rate and much of that is ending up in the US stock market, especially in technology shares.
The rush was enough to drive Apple (AAPL) to a new all-time high at $275, pushing its market capitalization up to a staggering $1.2 trillion. It could surpass Saudi ARAMCO’s $2 trillion valuation in a year or two.
Steve Jobs’ creation now accounts for a mind-blowing 6% of the S&P 500 and 4% of total US stock market capitalization. It’s the best argument I’ve ever heard for becoming a hippy and dropping out of college after one quarter.
Which leads us to paint a picture for the 2020 stock market. Even the most optimistic outlook for next year, that of Ed Yardeni, is calling for only a 10% gain. Many prognostications are calling for negative numbers next year.
You might be better off parking your money in a 2% CD and taking a cruise around the world. I’ve done that before, and it works fantastically well.
You’re only going to have one shot at making money in 2020. Wait for a 10%-20% nosedive to go long. My guess is that happens when it becomes clear that the Democrats are dominating in the polls (Joe Biden is currently 14 points ahead in swing state Pennsylvania). No matter who wins, less borrowing, less spending, and higher taxes will prevail.
Then stocks will rally 10% AFTER the election because the uncertainty is gone. That will get you a 20%-30% profit in 2020, but only of you are a trader and follow the Mad Hedge Fund Trader. After basking in their own brilliance in 2019, 2020 might be a year when indexers wish they never heard of the term.
In the end, corporate earnings growth always wins, especially in tech, which is still growing at 20% a year. Remember, my 2030 forecast for the Dow Average is 125,000.
China (FXI) won big in mini trade deal. We rolled back a tariff increase that was never going to happen and the Chinese buy $50 billion worth of soybeans they were going to buy anyway, except at half the price that prevailed two years ago. All of it will come out of stockpiles built up during the trade war. Only the ag sector is affected, which is 2% of the US economy. The ag markets aren’t buying it. If this were a real trade deal, stocks would be up 1,000 points, not 89.
Conservatives won big in UK election. The British pound (FXB) is up 2% and stocks are soaring. A hard Brexit is coming, so look for Scotland to secede and Northern Ireland to join the Republic. The UK will be gone as we know it. Britain’s standard of living will plummet. Great Britain will no longer be great, and the Russians financed the whole thing.
Volatility crashed, as complacency rules supreme. Don’t buy (VIX) until we see the $11 handle again.
Chinese copper purchases hit a 13-month high, up 12.1% in November, to 483,000 metric tonnes. It explains the 78% move up in Freeport McMoRan (FCX) since October, the world’s largest producer. Obviously, someone believes a trade deal is coming. My long LEAP players love it.
US Consumer inflation expectations rebounded, up 0.1% to 2.5%, accounting to the New York Fed. That’s crawling up from a five-year low, a slightly positive economic note.
Saudi ARAMCO went public, with a 10% pop in the shares on the first two days, providing a $24 billion fund raise. This is one of the top three largest IPOs in history after Alibaba (BABA) and Softbank. It values the company at $1.88 trillion. Oil (USO) is down a dollar on the news, no longer needing artificial support to get the deal done. This could be one of the seminal shorts of our generation.
NAFTA 2.0 was signed, removing a potential negative from the market. It is 90% of the original NAFTA, not the “greatest trade deal in history” as claimed. Buy the main North/South railroad, Norfolk Southern (NSC) on the news.
Weekly Jobless Claims soared to a two-year high, by 49,000 to 252,000. Are stores laying people off from Christmas early this year, or did they never hire in the first place because the retail businesses are gone? Peak jobs are in. US job growth is now far slower than in the Obama era, as is GDP growth.
Most US companies will have fewer staff in 2020, except Mad Hedge Fund Trader. More automation and algos mean fewer humans. Only a capital spending freeze caused by the trade war kept a low of low-skilled people in their jobs.
This was a week for the Mad Hedge Trader Alert Service to catapult to new all-time highs.
My long positions have shrunk to my core (MSFT) and (GOOGL), which expire with the coming December 20 option expiration.
My Global Trading Dispatch performance ballooned to +356.00% for the past ten years, a new all-time high. My 2019 year-to-date catapulted back up to +55.86%. December stands at an outstanding +4.85% profit. My ten-year average annualized profit rebounded to +35.59%.
The coming week will be a noneventful one on the data front, with some housing data and the Q3 GDP on the menu. Anyway, everyone else will be out Christmas shopping or attending parties.
On Monday, December 16 at 9:30 AM, New York Empire State Manufacturing Index for December is out.
On Tuesday, December 17 at 9:30 AM, Housing Starts for November are released.
On Wednesday, December 18 at 11:30 AM, US EIA Crude Stocks for the previous week are announced.
On Thursday, December 19 at 8:00 AM Existing Home Sales are published. At 8:30 AM, we get Weekly Jobless Claims.
On Friday, December 20 at 9:30 AM, the final read on US Q3 GDP is printed. The Baker Hughes Rig Count follows at 2:00 PM.
As for me, after blowing out 1,200 Christmas trees, the Boy Scouts will be taking down the tree lot for the year. And who do they turn to when it comes to wielding a chain saw or sledge hammer?
Good luck and good trading.
CEO & Publisher
The Diary of a Mad Hedge Fund Trader
Own a Peloton (PTON) bike, but don’t buy the stock.
That is the conclusion after deep research into this wellness tech company.
Peloton is an American exercise equipment and media company that bills itself as a tech company.
It was founded in 2012 and launched with help from a Kickstarter funding campaign in 2013. Its main product is a stationary bicycle that allows users to remotely participate in spinning classes that are digitally streamed from the company’s fitness studio and are paid for through a monthly subscription service.
Peloton is wildly overpriced with the enterprise value of each subscriber at $15,631.
Contrast that with other comparable firms such as Planet Fitness (PLNT) whose enterprise value per subscriber is $553 or even streaming giant Netflix (NFLX) whose enterprise value per subscriber comes in at $895.
There are three massive deal breakers with this company – software, hardware, and the management team.
The management team acts as a bunch of cheerleaders overhyping a simple exercise bike with a screen that has no deeper use case and in turn an unrealistic valuation that has disintermediated from all reality in the post-WeWork tech world.
What’s the deal with the hardware?
Some recognition must be given to Peloton for creating a nice bike and interactive classes that mesh with it. That idea was fresh when it came out.
The marketing campaigns were attractive and allured a wave of revenue and these customers were paying elevated prices.
But the bike itself has not developed and advanced in a meaningful way since it debuted in 2014 and back then the valuation of the company was $100 million.
The first-mover advantage was a godsend at the beginning, but the lack of differentiation is finally catching up with the business model and now you can get your own Peloton carbon copy on Amazon (AMZN) for $500 instead of $2,300.
Instead of focusing on the meat and bones of the company, Peloton has doled out almost $600 million over the last 3 years in marketing to capture the low hanging fruit that they most likely would have seized without marketing while competition was low.
Competition has intensified to the point that some of its competitors are giving away bikes for free justifying to never cough up cash for a $500 exercise bike let alone a $2,300 genuine Peloton bike.
The first-mover advantage when Peloton had the best exercise bike is now in the past and the company is attempting to move forward with a stagnant bicycle.
The Peloton treadmill came out much later but has not caught on and has many of the barriers to success I just talked about.
What about the case for owning the stock for the software?
Peloton is charging an overly expensive $39 per month for a “connected experience” to anyone who has bought the $2,300 Peloton bike.
But if the user happens to not buy the bike, they can download the digital app and pay $12.99 per month for the same connected experience.
Why would someone pay $2,300 for an overpriced exercise bike when they can just sign up to a full-service gym and just use the Peloton app with some headphones for $12.99 per month?
This illogical strategy means that less than 10% of Peloton subscribers have bought their bike.
Peloton’s competitors have shredded apart their strategy by essentially underpricing their bike and mentioning that they can use the Peloton app with their bike.
And even if you thought that Peloton’s live streaming fitness classes were the x-factor, users can just add a nice little removable iPad holder to the exercise bike and stream YouTube for free or any other digital content on demand.
The cost of adding an iPad holder is about $13-$15 which is a cheap and better option than paying $12.99 or $39 per month for Peloton’s fitness classes.
Users will eventually migrate towards cheaper packaged content because of the overpriced nature of Peloton’s digital content.
Is Management doing a good job?
Peloton’s CEO John Foley most recently told mainstream media that the company is profitable when it is not.
He has repeated this claim several times throughout the years as well. The company has never been profitable and lost $50 million on $228 million of revenue last quarter.
Each quarter before that has also lost between $30 million to $50 million as well, and Foley is outright dishonest by saying the company is profitable.
Peloton relies on top 100 billboard songs to integrate with their fitness streaming classes and the company just got slammed with a $300 million lawsuit from music publishers claiming they have never actually paid for music licensing.
Music is core to their streaming product and without the best songs, users won’t tune in just for the instructor.
Working out and live music go hand in hand and stiffing the music industry on licensing fees is just another example of poor management.
In March 2020, the lockup expires and top executives are free to dump shares which will happen in full force.
Management has one unspoken mandate now – attempt to buoy the stock any way possible until they can cash out next March.
This group of people is only a few months away from their payday.
There is no software or hardware advantage and management is holding out for dear life until they can kiss the company goodbye.
Do not buy shares and I would recommend aggressively shorting this pitiful attempt of a tech company.
Peloton is a $6 stock – not a $30 stock.
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