This is a very interesting earning season where distinctions are being made between winners and losers within the same industry and sector; disasters aren't dragging down rivals or the entire market and winners pop but, typically close lower as some profit-taking kicks in. In the meantime, winners are being rewarded immensely.
There are several narratives emerging this earnings season that actually reflect super long term trends that have always been a part of investing.
New Highs Beget New Highs
In this era of fear where "everyone knows the bottom could fall out any day" it's tough for investors to buy stocks at new 52-week highs. The best known momentum trade of 2013 has been Tesla (TSLA), but there are gobs of stocks that simply keep making new highs. If there is anything that worries me about the market it's when too many stocks trade higher… on little to no fundamental news. It is a good thing momentum stocks this year are up on rapidly improving fundamentals.
The macro situation is positive as well, although it's unlikely Europe can turn fast enough to pick up all the slack from stumbling China and Brazil. Overall the global economy should get progressively better as we power through the second half of the year. By the way I do see China tweaking taxes, stimulus or whatever else it takes to revive super-growth. The thing is that any company that has pricing power now, is taking market share, and expanding margins will only do better when macro conditions improve.
So, while it can be an angst-filled emotional decision, chasing stocks for the right reasons has paid off big time and will continue to pay off big time (Note: I typically try to feature momentum names with high Beta on our swing strategies service, which is why subscribers of that service had FB coming into yesterday's session).
Speaking of Face Book (FB), it got all the ink and television coverage yesterday in part because it's been a unique story since its disastrous (from investors' point of view) IPO, but it silenced critics for the moment and shareholders got rewarded for riding the wave. This brings me to another message of the market—business turnarounds.
Boston Scientific (BSX) used to be one of my favorite stocks, a juggernaut of innovation that hit a brick wall with a poor acquisition. One thing that drew me to the company was the story of how founders John Abele and Pete Nicholas met at a kid's soccer match (I've also read kids birthday party) began chatting, formed a company after borrowing $800,000 and were off to the races. I think the company outgrew then, and for years it's been off Wall Street's radar. I caught a glimpse of it recently, and yesterday it screamed "I'm back!"
The company enjoyed success out of the gate, and its shares were unstoppable. In January 1995, this was a $4.4 stock that rallied 1000% by May 2004. Growth was fueled in large part by acquisitions (9 takeovers in 1997 alone) and finally management bit off more than it could chew with their largest deal ever, the acquisition of Guidant in 2006. It was an unmitigated disaster. By October of last year this stock was changing hands at $5.00 a share. Now the stock is coming on strong and rekindling memories of that period when it minted money for shareholders.
I have more work to do, but it's not uncommon for companies to limp away from the limelight and come back years later. I'm seeing it more and more, from giants like Texas Instruments (TXN) to small names in sexy industries like Eight x Eight (EGHT). And then there are names that for the most part have rarely slipped up like Starbuck's (SBUX), which lost its way for a moment when founder Howard Schultz handed over the reins. But he took back control in 2008 and seems to have righted the ship … full speed ahead.
If You Like it ... Own It
"Best across the board third quarter performance in history"
Howard Schultz was U.S. manager for Swedish drip coffeemaker Hammarplast back in 1981 when he decided to fly out to Seattle from New York to check out this popular coffee spot that was putting in orders hand over fist. It was love at first smell. The aroma, care, attention to detail and passion of teaching the public about coffee attracted Schultz and he pleaded with management to let him work there. They finally did a year later when Schultz became director of marketing. Soon after during a trip to Italy Schultz had his Eureka moment … the place was plastered with coffee bars (200,000) where people came, socialized and spent money.
He came back and tried to convince management that that was the way to go, but they turned down his idea. Schultz quit and opened Il Giornale, which enjoyed enough success that investors backed Schultz's move to acquire Starbucks. That was in 1987, and the rest is history.
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