I still marvel at the thought our economy is going to be pulled out of the doldrums and catapulted into the next decade via solar and wind power, and things like electric cars. I’m not a big car guy, but I’ve seen a shift in the auto shows from outrageous thinking and dreams that lead to cars of the future, all of which would really leave your mouth agape. Now, the shows aren’t imaginative at all.
This is maybe because the car of the future is the car of the past. I mean like a long time ago.
With the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt debuting soon it will be back to the future. Who knew the folks at Studebaker had it right all along? The Studebaker Brothers got into the battery-powered car business in 1902 to 1912, mostly making taxis. The beauty was the Vitoria Phaeton, an electric version of the buggy once pulled by horse. Considering the selling points it’s a wonder that steam, and then gas-driven cars, ever caught on.
> Easily charged
> Great for cities
> No need for gas stations
Earn Baby Earn
After the bell, Priceline (PCLN) posted an earnings report that could only be called a grand slam. Revenue was $767.0 million and earnings came in at $3.04 per share; the Street was looking for $733.0 million and $2.64 per share, respectively. Current quarter guidance of $979.5 million in revenue and $4.98 per share (high end) were miles above consensus for revenue of $863.3 million and $4.18 per share. The company’s rental car business improved by 32%, and hotel by 48.2% year over year indicating a shift from that stay-cation phenomenon. Where once business was driven domestically, it is international that is on fire, up 59% from last year and 82% from 2Q08, while domestic has been a more pedestrian 12.6% and 32.0%, respectively.
Apache (APC) beat the Street and scalped BP all in one shot. The company posted earnings of $0.49 per share, beating the Street by $0.14. Management threw someone under a bus with a statement saying the April 20, 2010 well blow-out was “preventable and likely the result of gross negligence or willful misconduct.”
Electronic Arts (ERTS) posted a loss of $0.24 per share; the Street thought it would be a loss of $0.35 per share. Apparently, the World Cup soccer game scored! The company has one of strongest holiday season lineups in the sector and with console prices declining and new peripherals having arrived, the videogame titan’s stock is one to watch (especially considering over $1 billion in cash and zero debt on the balance sheet).
Toyota Motor Corporation (TM) posted a profit of approximately $2.2 billion (190.47 billion yen) as robust demand in Asia, government buying incentives in Japan, and a reviving U.S. market canceled out the impact of the strong yen. The Company also increased its guidance for the first half of fiscal year 2011 and the full year. For the first half, Toyota lifted its net profit estimate to 250 billion yen from 150 billion yen, and raised its operating profit estimate to 270 billion yen from 100 billion yen. The company now expects 9.800 trillion yen in sales in the period, up from 9.400 trillion yen. For the year to March, it raised its net profit outlook to 340 billion yen from 310 billion yen and its operating profit forecast to 330 billion yen from 280 billion yen. It also revised up its sales projection to 19.500 trillion yen from 19.200 trillion yen.
These days everyone is talking about their brand; I remember such talk during the Internet boom, just spend the money on branding as who needs profits. Now everyone I know is busy crafting their brand. I think the problem for most is it’s like telling too many lies, at some point it’s hard to keep track. I say just be truthful to yourself and let the chips fall where they may. On that note, what is Oprah thinking about these days? This week the second Oprah store opened, a 138 square foot “microsalon” at Water Tower Place in Chicago. You would think such a small, intimate place would have great out-of-reach stuff that normal people splurge on as a once-in-a-lifetime purchase. Instead, you can pick up $28.00 “O” rhinestone key chains and $30.00 canvass tote bags with signature quotes written all over them.
According to Chicago’s “Crain’s”, one shopper called it “junky, petty stuff” when she thought there would be luxury stuff like Ralph Lauren (Black Label) and Bobbi Brown beauty products. I know Oprah is big but is she taking on Wal-Mart (WMT) or is it a sign of the times? One thing is for sure, if this is a smart branding move I’m going to wear overalls next time I guest host on Fox.
Consumer bankruptcies in May declined month to month, but were up 9% year to year to stay on pace for 1.5 million this year. After a sharp decline in consumer bankruptcies after the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention & Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (September), there has been a steady climb that threatens to challenge numbers posted before the law went into affect. April 2010 was the highest monthly result since the overhaul. This is horrible news, and it points out that there are two Americas being created and while the goal has been to destroy the wealthy, or so-called wealthy, the affect has been to hurt those not-so-wealthy citizens.
The ADP report is out, and we like it. While I preach about getting too giddy over mediocrity we have to celebrate baby steps. The pick-up in small business hiring is a great and hopeful sign. If we get a positive surprise on Friday, the Dow could rally toward 11,000.
On that note, I must say I need more faith from subscribers. I have people that took a loss in PCLN just a few weeks ago. Today, there are two upgrades on that and one on SOLF. We can wait like the Street for these stocks to move 30% to 50% higher or we can find value and get in, sometimes early, if you consider a few weeks early. I’m not trying to pound this in but do this my way and results will be better. My representatives are going to speak to all subscribers to make sure they understand our methodology and philosophy.
For those not in the market, I understand, but think you’re making a mistake. I’m afraid of the White House and Federal Reserve, too, but I’m not going to bet against America and not invest in value. I’m not going to abandon free markets and sit in a cave because that only helps their agenda, not mine. Sure, from time to time we have to retrench because we can’t control the market, but the focus is on opportunities that come along with the scariest times. In the last 24 hours one subscriber, one person on an elevator, and one person on the street asked if they should buy BP. I mentioned in the comments people in New Orleans were loading up on weakness.
I was too afraid because of the psyche of subscribers to officially feature it- shame on me, but it’s up huge from recent lows.
1Q: Polo Gallops Through the Gate to Start the Fiscal Year
By: Brian Sozzi, Equity Research Analyst
This morning, the retail powerhouse managed very easily to eclipse the earnings expectations it craftily helped to lower on the 4Q10 earnings call. In spite of the Company’s “heavy” investment in establishing the infrastructure to run an ever-increasing global brand, the 1Q11 financials support the notion that a well run firm with quality products in all price spectrums is enough to leverage operating expenses and ring the earnings register. We upgraded our rating on the stock July 2 (for institutional clients), citing a more compelling valuation backdrop post a two-month slide, and our sense that Polo had catalysts in place (shipment growth, product mix, sourcing) that suggested above consensus earnings were probable. Suffice it to say we were not left disappointed with the 1Q11 report.
Points of Interest
* Strong growth in all regions, product categories, and distribution channels (includes Europe).
* Revenue accelerated q/q (it was off the easiest comparison of the FY, however).
* Gross margin beat consensus by 180 bps, and expanded strongly y/y on items other than sourcing (mix, inventory management).
* Retail comps slightly mixed (strong in factory and Club Monaco, weak in Ralph Lauren) but a new level of operating margin was attained (comparing to prior first fiscal quarters).
* Guidance raise for FY11 only accounts for 1Q11 revenue beat; clearly this is conservative barring a mass consumer exodus globally.
* Robust cash position hints at new share repurchase plan.
* Inventory well controlled (-4.0% y/y excluding Asian operations).
* Overall comps were likely the best in our coverage universe for the quarter.
* The quarter was clean (no tax rate issues).
Charles Payne is the CEO and Principal Analyst of Wall Street Strategies . This post was republished, with permission, from his company’s column, WStreet Market Commentary.