The Parade Passing By
…..House barely passes budget, now the fighting starts. Opioid emergency, not a national emergency. ECB cuts QE but rates will be lower for longer. A parade of big tech earnings: Amazon, Alphabet, Microsoft, Intel. Plus: UPS, Ford, etc., etc.
Financial Review by Sinclair Noe for 10-26-2017
DOW + 71 = 23,400
SPX + 3 = 2560
NAS – 7 = 6556
RUT + 3 = 1497
10 Y + .01 = 2.45%
OIL + .63 = 52.81
GOLD – 11.00 = 1267.20
Up 100, down 100, up 100 then drifting lower. The Dow and the S&P moved higher today. The Nasdaq closed in the red as biotech took a beating. Welcome to earnings reporting season. After the closing bell, we watched a parade of the biggest tech companies report better than expected earnings. Tomorrow, Apple launches iPhone X. Also, tomorrow the Commerce Department releases its first look at gross domestic product for the third quarter. The consensus is that the economy likely expanded at a 2.6 percent annualized rate in the three months ended Sept. 30, which is in-line with recent history.
Republicans pushed a $4 trillion budget through the House today by a thin margin. For now, Republicans sidestepped divisions within the party by voting 216-212 to permit them to begin work on a $1.5 trillion tax cut without fear of a filibuster by Democrats. This is just a first step, GOP tax-writers pick winners and losers among interest groups, business sectors and rank-and-file voters. The goal is a full rewrite of the inefficient, loophole-laden tax code in hopes of lower rates for corporations and other businesses and a burst of economic growth. But evidence is growing that some of their steps — such as eliminating the deduction for state and local taxes or eliminating 401K retirement plans – will face opposition from both sides of the aisle. For the most part, plans for ending various tax breaks — which are key to helping to offset the deep tax-rate cuts that Trump and congressional leaders want to achieve — have been kept under wraps. Now that the budget blueprint has been adopted, a hard reality will set in as the business community and others realize how much of the tax bill will involve closing loopholes and changing their credits and deductions. In the absence of details on how to pay for those rate reductions, the fight over the SALT deduction is instructive. Repealing the tax break would generate an estimated $1.3 trillion over 10 years. If it’s not fully repealed, lawmakers will have another revenue hole to fill.
Republican Sen. Bob Corker said today that some of the items in the GOP tax reform discussion are just “buying off” special interests and serve no other purpose. Corker said: “Some of the things we’re doing, I’m sorry, are ridiculous,” though he did not mention any specifics. Corker, a member on the Senate Budget and Banking committees said those things are “not going to drive 1 ounce of economic growth. But it’s what you have to do to pass a tax bill. It’s buying off of people to pass tax reform. … We could take a lot of this off in the trash can and make it easier and actually do something that grows our economy and increases our wages.” Meanwhile, Democrats united against the plan, arguing its tax cuts will pad the bank accounts of the wealthy and the balance sheets of corporations, while delivering modest relief — or none at all — to middle-income taxpayers.
Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, said immediately after the vote that he’ll release the tax measure on Nov. 1 and that a panel vote is expected the week of Nov. 6. House and Senate leaders want to pass companion measures before Thanksgiving with a final compromise coming before year’s end. But there are lots of details between now and then.
This afternoon, Trump declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency, stopping short of a national emergency declaration he promised months ago that would have freed up more federal money. The declaration will redirect federal resources and loosen regulations to combat opioid abuse, but it does not mean there will be more money to combat the crisis. Apparently, it is tough to find money for the opioid crisis and cut corporate taxes at the same time. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report more than 54,000 deaths last year attributed to opioid abuse.
European Central Bank President Mario Draghi managed to avoid roiling markets when he detailed the central bank’s plan to cut its monthly bond purchases in half. In fact, bonds and stocks soared while the euro weakened – a perfect outcome for the ECB. Draghi added a bit of a surprise to the plan to pull back from the markets. Yes, the ECB will cut in half its monthly bond purchases to 30 billion euros from 60 billion euros starting in January, but the bank’s president also indicated that zero percent interest rates could remain at current levels until “well past” whenever it finally decides to end its quantitative easing measures. Maybe 2019, maybe 2020. Markets seemed to focus on the idea of “lower for longer”. Bonds across Europe rallied hard, with yields on 10-year German bunds tumbling almost 7 basis points to 0.42 percent. The STOXX Europe 600 Index promptly rose the most since August.
Pending home sales showed a decline to a 2½ year low in September, missing consensus estimates for a rise of 0.4%, as the housing market is buffeted by lean supply and strong demand. Meanwhile, the advanced U.S. trade deficit widened by 1.3% in September.
Amazon reported net income of $256 million, or 52 cents per share, for the three months ending Sept. 30. That easily beat the 2 cents per share analysts had expected. Amazon has long been known for investing the money it makes back into its businesses, such as opening new warehouses to fulfill orders. Many seemed to expect that again. And Amazon did reinvest in the business. It paid nearly $14 billion this summer for organic grocer Whole Foods; announced a series of new voice-activated Echo devices; and kicked off a public hunt for a place to build its second headquarters. Revenue rose 34 percent to $43.4 billion, beating the $41.5 billion analysts expected. Amazon reported after the bell and shares were up about 8% in after-hours trade. Rite Aid, Express Scripts Holding and Walgreens Boots Alliance all fell sharply after Amazon secured a wholesale pharmacy license.
UPS reported earnings per share of $1.45 for the third quarter. Revenue increased 7%. International profit was up 8.9%; currency neutral profit was up 20%. And they raised guidance for full year 2017. The upcoming holiday period is shaping up to be another record-breaking shipping season. Earlier in the week we told you that online purchases are expected to pass brick and mortar retail purchases this season In fact, United Parcel Service (UPS) forecasts 750 million packages will be delivered between Black Friday and New Year’s Eve, a 5% increase from last year. Despite the expected increase in volume, UPS expects to hire the same number of temporary seasonal workers as last year (95,000). The difference is UPS will be using more technology to streamline operations.
Alphabet beat projections for third-quarter sales and earnings after a surge in Google ad volume helped the web-search giant shrug off concerns about regulatory scrutiny and an expensive foray into hardware. Sales for the quarter rose 24% to $22.2 billion and profit was $9.57 a share, beating estimates of $8.34. In September, the deadline arrived for Google to meet demands for the European Union antitrust case on shopping ads. Google agreed to tweak its paid search results for products in the continent, although it’s still appealing the charges. These product ads have helped drive sales and profit growth, but Google investors are more concerned about a probe into Google’s Android software on mobile devices, where Google’s ads are growing. Also in September, Google agreed to pay $1.1 billion for about 2,000 engineers from HTC Corp, in effect an acquisition of skilled hands to expand Google’s line of Pixel smartphones. The new hardware business is a pillar of Google’s fight against Apple. Revenue from a segment labeled Other Revenue, which includes hardware, was up 39%. Alphabet share gained about 3% in after-hours trade.
Intel beat Wall Street estimates for the quarter and raised its outlook for the year. Intel reported third-quarter net income of $4.5 billion, or 94 cents a share, beating estimates of 80 cents per share. Revenue rose to $16.1 billion from $15.7 billion. Intel was up about 1.6% in after-hours.
Microsoft posted better-than-expected quarterly results. The company reported its fiscal first-quarter earnings rose to $6.5 billion, or 84 cents a share – topping estimates of 71 cents per share. Revenue grew 12% to $24.5 billion, beating estimates. Microsoft up about 4.5% in after-hours, trading at all-time highs.
Ford Motor rose 1.9% after the auto maker beat profit and revenue estimates.
Bristol-Myers Squibb shares fell 4.8% after the company missed on profit and revenue and changed its 2017 guidance.
Nutrisystem continued to slide, falling 10.5%, despite turning in better-than-expected quarterly earnings.
Celgene plummeted 16.4% after the company reported a third-quarter profit beat and revenue miss and lowered its 2017 profit and revenue outlook. The stock pressured the overall biotech and health-care sectors.
The $9.5 billion iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF tumbled as much as 2.9 percent. The biggest exchange-traded fund tracking the biotech industry is headed toward its longest losing streak since September 2015, falling for seven days in a row. Just a reminder, biotechs led a market selloff about 2 years ago.
Tenet Healthcare shares tanked 9.2% following a Reuters report that the hospital operator has ended its plan to sell itself after its chief executive abruptly left ahead of schedule.
The Wall Street Journal reports CVS Health has made a proposal to buy Aetna for more than $200 per share, a deal that could value the health insurer at upward of $66 billion.