Daily Gains Letter

jobs numbers


Massive Job Cuts Reason Companies Meeting Earnings Consensus

By for Daily Gains Letter | Apr 27, 2015

Massive Job CutsOil services company Weatherford International plc (NYSE/WFT) surged more than seven percent last Thursday despite a massive shortfall on its first-quarter revenue and earnings. What gave investors optimism during the first-quarter earnings season for Weatherford was not the fact that things will likely not get worse, but that the company had fired 6,449 employees and another 3,550 or so to come. This, folks, is how companies are pleasing Wall Street.

The cuts will save Weatherford more than $600 million annually. That’s a pretty good number to help offset the revenue decline during the earnings season, but it’s something that I also expect we will hear more of.

Job Cuts Boost Company Earnings, but Affect Wider Economy

Just take a look at the oil sector and you’ll see the tens of thousands of job cuts. Yet while the major firings have been centralized on the oil industry, there will be a spill-off to other sectors, such as restaurants, travel, and retail, as the cuts mean over a billion dollars in lost wages. I expect we could see revenues decline in the other sectors moving forward.

Scrolling through the daily newswires, I have noticed revenue growth is essentially non-existent during the first-quarter earnings season. From small to blue-chip companies, I’m noticing clear revenue contraction or muted growth early on this earnings season.

In fact, of the 60 or so S&P 500 companies that have reported during the earnings season, only about 45% have beaten on their already-reduced revenue estimates. And blended revenues contracted three percent so far during the earnings season. (Source: FactSet, April 17, 2015.)

Earnings are witnessing negative growth in … Read More


How to Survive This Stock Market

By for Daily Gains Letter | Aug 22, 2014

Survive a Stock Market with Little ChoiceThe bulls are out in full force again following a pause in the stock market. Investors were initially spooked by the fear of interest rates moving higher in the first quarter of 2015, but that appears to have been pushed to the backburner now as the stock market rally reignites.

The thing is there are few real alternatives to the stock market—unless you are happy with the 2.42% yield on the 10-year bond. Personally, I would rather invest in dividend paying stocks.

There’s nothing spectacular about the stock market and economy at this time. Things seem to be moving just enough to warrant buying and optimism in the stock market.

Jobs are being generated at an average 200,000 per month and the unemployment rate is at 6.2%. These are okay metrics, but we need to see higher jobs numbers going forward.

Housing market growth returned some strong readings in July, with both housing starts and building permits growing at an annualized one billion units, which is excellent.

Consumer sentiment is lagging somewhat, but the stock market is simply pleased that the reading has not plummeted.

This seems like a Goldilocks recovery—not too hot, not too cold, but just enough growth.

The stock market has edged higher in six of the past nine sessions with several key technical moves on the upside as of Tuesday.

Blue chips, which have been comatose, are showing some movement, with the DOW back above its 50-day moving average (MA) and returning to the positive side for this year. As we move ahead, the DOW will likely take another run at 17,000, which has been broken … Read More


Why This Company Will Fare Well as the Economy Stutters

By for Daily Gains Letter | Jul 28, 2014

My Investment Solution for Tight TimesIf you think Americans are firmly comfortable in the economy and jobs, think again. Yes, the stock market has returned strong gains and has been an investment opportunity over the past five years (since the end of the Great Recession in 2008), but much of it was artificially driven by the lax monetary policy put forth by the Federal Reserve. Now that the quantitative easing is dissipating and interest rates are set to edge higher sometime in mid-2015, I’m not all that comfortable.

The jobs numbers are improving, but they are still well below the 500,000 per month that some pundits deemed to be a sign of a healthy jobs market. We are generating about 200,000 jobs each month, which is well below what we want to see. In fact, we have only recovered the jobs lost during the recession—and we still need to build on that.

Given that there are still approximately 46 million Americans collecting food stamps, you’d understand why I still feel uneasy about the so-called economic growth in progress.

Consumers are still not spending at a rate many are hoping for. This is especially true in durable goods, which are not required for everyday living, so their buying can be bypassed.

As far as I’m concerned, the retail numbers still stink and don’t point to an investment opportunity in retail. Just take a look at the metrics at the big multinationals, such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE/WMT) and other retailers. While retail sales grow at a muted pace here, the growth is around 12% in China, where there is an investment opportunity in retailers.

Dick’s Sporting … Read More


What Makes This Beaten-Down Stock So Attractive

By for Daily Gains Letter | Jul 24, 2014

A Better Investment Opportunity Than My Top Restaurant StockChipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. (NYSE/CMG) showed why it’s the hottest restaurant stock out there at this time. The stock has been a favorite of mine since declining to the mid-$200.00 level in October 2013. On Tuesday, the stock surged to above $650.00. Now that’s growth and an excellent investment opportunity.

The company easily destroyed estimates in both revenue and earnings. Chipotle beat the consensus earnings per share (EPS) estimate by a whopping $0.41 per diluted share and surpassed the $1.0-billion quarterly revenue mark for the first time. Easily beating expectations, the key comparable restaurant sales metric rose a staggering 17.3%, which is incredible. The maker of burritos, tacos, and wraps has attracted a loyal following for good healthy food from consumers who may have gone to McDonalds Corporation (NYSE/MCD) or Taco Bell in the past.

Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc Chart

Chart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com

While Chipotle continues to be my top restaurant play, the acceleration in its share price has made it somewhat top-heavy, so it’s more of an investment opportunity on price weakness.

A key driver for the restaurant sector is the growing jobs numbers. The more confident people are about their jobs, the more willing they are to go out for meals and spend.

A contrarian restaurant investment opportunity that looks intriguing right now is Noodles & Company (NASDAQ/NDLS), a provider of noodle and pasta dishes.

The stock debuted at $32.00 on June 28, 2013, surging to $49.75 on October 15, 2013, prior to the recent decline to $27.20 on July 17, 2014. In my estimation, the current price weakness offers aggressive investors a good investment opportunity.

Noodles & Company Chart

Chart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com

Noodles & … Read More


Stocks vs. Bonds: Finding the Best Investment Opportunity Right Now

By for Daily Gains Letter | Jul 9, 2014

Why You May Be Stuck with Stocks for NowThe bulls are continuing to ride the stock market higher with minimal resistance from the bears. After some weakness earlier in the year, stocks continue to want to edge higher.

We are not seeing the mass market participation we want to see in a rallying stock market, but this divergence is clearly not a big deal for traders.

The first half of 2014 saw mixed trading, but the stock market managed to edge higher. We saw multiple records set by the DOW and S&P 500, with both indices closing higher for the fifth straight month in June. Not bad given that historical records suggest muted action.

On the charts, the sense is that the stock market is aiming higher. The DOW broke 17,000 last week, while the S&P 500 is eyeing 2,000 and looking higher on the charts, based on my technical analysis. The DOW is riding consistently above its 50-day and 200-day moving averages.

Dow Jones Industrial Average Chart

Chart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com

On the plus, small-cap stocks made a strong rally in June as we saw some money flow back into the higher-risk assets, which technically bodes well for the broader stock market. We are also seeing buying return to the technology sector and the high-momentum plays.

But as is always the case after a rally to new heights, many are calling for a stock market correction.

The chart of the S&P 500 shows the potential of a small correction of approximately five percent. I would view this as an investment opportunity to buy on weakness.

S&P 500 Large Cap Index Chart

Chart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com

The reality is that the stock market is heading higher, but we could … Read More


How to Profit from the Improved Jobs Numbers

By for Daily Gains Letter | Jul 7, 2014

How Investors Can Benefit from the Jobs RecoveryThe stock market is looking higher. The DOW and the S&P 500 closed up for the fifth straight month as we enter into the second half of what has largely been a mixed and cautious year.

For growth investors, the good news is that small-cap stocks came back in June with a 5.15% advance and are easily leading the broader market. Technology also fared well with the NASDAQ up 3.9% in June. Blue chips and large-caps trailed the growth side. In the first half, the S&P 500 leads with a 6.07% gain followed by the 5.54% advance in the NASDAQ.

And while stocks are edging higher towards new records, we are also seeing positive gains in the critical jobs numbers. This is essential for the economy and consumer confidence.

We saw strong non-farm payroll jobs numbers for June last Thursday with the creation of 288,000 new jobs, which easily beat the consensus 215,000 estimate and the 244,000 jobs in May. Better yet, the unemployment rate also fell to 6.1%, the lowest level in nearly six years.

The growth in the jobs numbers will gain more traction in the stock market when the reading can surpass the 300,000 level, which could trigger heightened optimism.

What the higher jobs numbers mean is more business for the jobs placement firms, from the everyday jobs to management and executive positions.

A contrarian and speculative play on the jobs numbers recovery is Monster Worldwide, Inc. (NYSE/MWW), which currently sits around $6.85 per share with a market cap of $623 million.

Monster Worldwide runs the widely known job search web site Monster.com and was the first … Read More


The Only Sector I Believe Will Deliver as Corporate America Struggles

By for Daily Gains Letter | Jun 16, 2014

The One Sector That Could Fare Well Despite Sluggish Economic Growth We are a few weeks away from the second-quarter earnings season and again, there’s a lot of hope and optimism that corporate America will be able to deliver the goods. But we also said that for the first-quarter earnings season—and prior to that, we said the same for the fourth-quarter earnings season.

Before, what we saw instead was sluggish revenue growth along with companies having an easier time on the earnings front, as Wall Street does what it usually does—lowering earnings estimates to meet the changing situation, making it easier for companies to meet expectations. In the first-quarter earnings season, it was about the strain placed on companies by the bitter winter. That’s fair, but there really are no more excuses for this quarter.

The nation’s jobs numbers are looking better after the country managed to recover all of the 8.7 million or so jobs lost since the start of the Great Recession. If the economy can continue to generate jobs growth at more than 200,000 new jobs monthly, then we would expect consumer spending and confidence levels to improve. Yet having said this, there’s clearly still some trepidation out there, especially with the decline in wealth levels of the middle class and below.

The rich are getting richer, but even as a group, they cannot spend the economy to stronger growth without the help of the middle class. We need to see income levels expand across middle-class America in order for companies to have any hope of expanding their revenues better than what we are seeing now. This makes sense to me: spread the wealth and the economic renewal … Read More


How to Protect Your Portfolio and Profit as Interest Rates Rise

By for Daily Gains Letter | Apr 9, 2014

Interest RatesAccording to data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) last Friday, the unemployment rate stood at 6.7% in March, which is similar to the unemployment rate in February. A total of 192,000 jobs were added, of which food and drinking places added more than 30,000 and “temporary” help services in the professional and business industry added more than 29,000 jobs. The labor market fell slightly short of expectations as analysts had forecasted the unemployment rate to be 6.6% for March. (Source: “The Employment Situation — March 2014,” Bureau of Labor Statistics web site, April 4, 2014.)

The Fed announced it would start to scale back its monetary stimulus last December, after jobs numbers started to show signs of a recovering economy. The unemployment rate initially dropped, only to settle at levels that have remained unchanged for the greater part of the winter season. Simultaneously, initial jobless claims increased by 5.16% during the week ended March 28, 2014, raising eyebrows toward the ability of the Fed’s policies to carry the string of economic recovery further. (Source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis web site, last accessed April 7, 2014.)

While most economic challenges faced by the Fed for the last four months have been blamed on cold weather, a rigid unemployment rate and increasing jobless claims point towards a weaker-than-expected recovery. Amidst this, the Fed chair, Janet Yellen, while speaking at a press conference on March 19, confirmed that the Fed plans to go ahead with the tapering program in its bid to elevate interest rates up from their near-zero levels. (Source: Risen, T., “Janet Yellen Continues Tapering … Read More


Why a Soft First Quarter Offers Hope

By for Daily Gains Letter | Apr 3, 2014

Silver LiningThe first quarter, by all accounts, was a dud, especially if you were invested in blue chip stocks as the Dow Jones Industrial Average retracted 0.74% in the quarter.

Yet March also saw some shifting of capital from higher-risk assets into blue chips and large-cap stocks, as the NASDAQ and Russell 2000 underperformed with declines of 2.53% and 0.83%, respectively.

But the muted gains in the first quarter do offer some hope heading forward, especially if the stock market can attract some leadership and if the economic outlook and jobs numbers can improve. For instance, the S&P 500 led the way in the first quarter with a 1.32% advance (or a 5.28% advance on an annualized basis). By comparison, in 2013, the index had already surpassed this level of advance by March.

Given the muted results to date, we could see much better gains in the quarters ahead, but much will depend on several variables that currently cast a cloud over the stock market.

First, the Fed is continuing to cut its quantitative easing and the consensus is that the bond purchases will dwindle to zero by year-end. While this is discounted by the stock market, traders are more concerned about when the Federal Reserve will begin to increase interest rates. The early thoughts are for rates to rise sometime in the first half of 2015.

Yet Fed chairwoman Janet Yellen gave the stock market a lift on Monday after suggesting the central bank would do whatever is necessary to make sure the economic renewal and jobs growth continue unabated. Now, this could imply that the bond buying could continue … Read More


How to Profit from the S&P 500—Even if Earnings Disappoint

By for Daily Gains Letter | Feb 20, 2014

Profit from the S&P 500I was reading an article that suggested investors are underestimating the extent that U.S. corporate profits could grow in 2014. And that the only reason the U.S. economy reported disappointing retail sales and weak jobs numbers and manufacturing data was because of the harsh winter weather. (Source: Shmuel, J., “Are EPS estimates currently too low?” Financial Post, February 18, 2014.)

Fortunately, so the story goes, the economy is so red-hot that once the snow thaws, investors will be rewarded with solid quarter-over-quarter corporate earnings growth. This suggests the weather has not just blinded investors to the fact that the economy has recovered (which it hasn’t), but that we are also so short-sighted that we can’t see the great gains waiting for us just around the corner—because if there’s one thing investors lack, it’s a desire to make money on the stock market…

I think investors are losing faith in Wall Street’s earnings potential because the corporations that go into making up the S&P 500 continue to warn us that their earnings are not going to be as great as they had hoped. And it’s not as if this is a new phenomenon.

Throughout 2013, as the S&P 500 marched steadily higher, an increasingly larger number of companies revised their earnings guidance lower each quarter. During the first quarter of 2013, 78% of S&P 500 companies that provided preannouncements issued negative earnings guidance; the second quarter came in at 81%; a record 83% of S&P 500 companies issued negative earnings guidance in the third quarter; and another record 88% did so in the fourth quarter.

For a country that is supposedly … Read More


Top-Yielding Stocks to Combat Low Interest Rates

By for Daily Gains Letter | Feb 13, 2014

Low Interest RatesFederal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen has confirmed what most already knew. The recovery in the U.S. jobs market is far from complete. Yellen noted that the unemployment rate has improved since the Federal Reserve initiated its last round of quantitative easing in late 2012, falling from 8.1% to 6.6%. Curiously, in 2013, the U.S. economy grew just two percent.

That said, against the backdrop of a so-called improving U.S. economy, the numbers of the long-term unemployed and part-time workers are far too high. In fact, 3.6 million Americans, or 35.8% of the country’s unemployed, fall under the “long-term unemployed” umbrella—that is, those who have been out of work for more than 27 weeks. The underemployment rate (which includes those who have part-time jobs but want full-time jobs and those who have given up looking for work) remains stubbornly high at 12.7%.

The improving unemployment numbers come on the heels of two straight months of weak jobs numbers. In January, economists were expecting the U.S. to add 180,000 new jobs to the U.S. economy; instead, just 113,000 new jobs were added. In December, economists were projecting 200,000 new jobs would be added—instead, the number was an anemic 74,000.

For the head of the Federal Reserve, this translates into more money being dumped into the bond market ($65.0 billion per month) and a continuation of artificially low interest rates.

Once again, bad news for Main Street is good news for Wall Street. After Yellen’s speech, the S&P 500, NYSE, and NASDAQ responded by surging higher. Again, the Federal Reserve’s ongoing bond buying program and open-ended artificially low interest rate environment is great … Read More


Where the Fed Went Wrong When It Decided to Taper

By for Daily Gains Letter | Jan 14, 2014

What Wall Street Celebrated Too EarlyThe merriment, mirth, and cheer on Wall Street over the holiday season may have been a bit premature; in fact, the optimism about the U.S. economy that ushered in the New Year may have already come to a screeching halt.

In mid-December, the Federal Reserve surprised investors when it announced it was going to start tapering it’s generous $85.0-billion-per-month easy money policy in January to just $75.0 billion per month. The pullback was a surprise, because the Federal Reserve initially hinted it wouldn’t ease its monetary policy until the U.S. unemployment rate fell to 6.5% and inflation rose to 2.5%. At the time of the announcement, U.S. unemployment stood at seven percent and inflation was hovering around historic lows below one percent.

The Federal Reserve moved sooner than expected with its tapering because of a (so-called) stronger U.S. economy and jobs growth. And, going forward, it said that U.S. unemployment figures will improve faster than expected. But, a raft of new economic numbers is calling that optimistic forward guidance into question.

In December, the U.S. economy created just 74,000 jobs, the slowest pace in three years, with the majority of the jobs (55,000) coming from the retail industry. Despite the weak jobs growth, the U.S. unemployment rate managed to fall from seven percent to 6.7%—the lowest rate since October 2008. But numbers are deceiving—the big drop in the unemployment rate was primarily a result of 347,000 people dropping out of the labor force.

Throughout 2013, the U.S. economy created 2.18 million jobs; in 2012, the U.S. economy created 2.19 million jobs. Looking at this from another angle, in 2013, the … Read More


Why Fed’s Change of Plans Doesn’t Mean a Change in the Stock Market

By for Daily Gains Letter | Dec 20, 2013

Change in the Stock MarketIs it an early Christmas present or a really early April Fools’ Day trick?

In a somewhat surprise move, the Federal Reserve decided the U.S. economy was doing well enough that it could start to cut back on its generous $85.0-billion-per-month quantitative easing (QE) strategy.

I say “surprise” because the Federal Reserve initially said it wouldn’t consider tapering until the U.S. economy was on solid, sustainable economic ground, which meant an unemployment rate of 6.5% and inflation of 2.5%. Today, unemployment sits at seven percent and inflation is near historic lows at below one percent.

Against a weak economic backdrop, the Federal Reserve made a brave and daring decision to slash its monthly QE policy by a paltry $10.0 billion. That means that instead of pumping more than $1.0 trillion into the U.S. economy next year, it is only going to inject $900 billion. In other words, the U.S. national debt is going to increase by $900 billion. (Source: Press release, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System web site, December 18, 2013.)

If the U.S. economy really was on solid footing, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke would have made a bigger dent in his monthly bond-buying program. Instead, he made a token gesture as he gets ready to hand the baton to Janet Yellen early next year.

Yup, after injecting $4.0 trillion into the U.S. economy, the country is little (or no) better off than it was before the Fed initiated quantitative easing. U.S. unemployment is down from its Great Recession high of 10% in October 2009, but it has yet to break the seven-percent level. Meanwhile, the underemployment … Read More


This $27.0-Billion Niche Industry a Lucrative Opportunity for Retail Investors

By for Daily Gains Letter | Dec 19, 2013

Opportunity for Retail InvestorsIt might not be as flashy as precious metals or the biotech industry, but the $27.0-billion U.S. yoga industry has some pretty strong numbers and corresponding retail stocks.

Over the last year, 15 million people regularly participated in yoga here in the United States, spending more than $27.0 billion on yoga products. Over the last five years, spending on yoga products has soared 87%. And the average annual increase of the number of people who practice yoga is expanding at a rate of 20%. (Source: “Yoga Statistics,” StatisticBrain.com, July 27, 2013.)

Furthermore, almost three-quarters (72.2%) of yoga participants are women and 68% earn at least $75,000 a year. On top of that, more than 40% of participants are in the lucrative 18–34 age demographic, and 41% are between the ages of 35 and 54.

While a number of publicly traded retail stocks operate in the yoga apparel industry, none are quite as well-known, for better or worse, as lululemon athletica inc. (NASDAQ/LULU).

Of course, the “for worse” part refers to the barrage of negative public relations (PR) that has helped to drop this retail stock’s share price down 24% so far this year. Lululemon has been under severe PR pressure since March, when the retail stock recalled its popular black yoga pants for being too see-through. Company CEO Christine Day stepped down in June; and in July, the company was dealing with another PR nightmare after insiders said the company shuns plus-sized shoppers. To make matters worse, company founder Chip Wilson blamed quality control concerns regarding the yoga pants on “women’s bodies” (more specifically, thick thighs).

Clearly, the bad PR … Read More


Wall Street Cheers 13.6% Unemployment Rate; S&P 500 Soars!

By for Daily Gains Letter | Oct 24, 2013

Unemployment RateBad news on Main Street is good news for Wall Street. Illogical heads prevailed on Tuesday after the U.S. government announced that the unemployment rate dipped to an ever-so-modest 7.2% in September, from 7.3% in August. The U.S. added just 148,000 new jobs in September—far short of the forecasted gain of 180,000 jobs for the month. (Source: “The Employment Situation – September 2013,” Bureau of Labor Statistics web site, October 22, 2013.)

The number of long-term unemployed (those without a job for at least 27 weeks) remains stubbornly high at 4.1 million, and the underemployment rate is at an eye-watering 13.6%, up a sliver from 13.4% in August.

Weak jobs numbers means the Federal Reserve will continue its $85.0-billion-per-month quantitative easing policy into 2014. Those who do not read these pages were apparently surprised last month when the Federal Reserve did what it said it was going to do—namely, keep its stimulus package intact until the economy improves to a 6.5% unemployment rate and a 2.5% inflation rate.

It clearly hasn’t, isn’t, and won’t for the foreseeable future.

Those bad jobs numbers sent the S&P 500 into record intra-day territory. In the week since Congress ended the U.S. government shutdown, raised the debt ceiling, and reported stubbornly high unemployment, the S&P 500 climbed more than three percent. Year-to-date, the S&P 500 is up more than 22%.

That increase is in sharp contrast to anything approaching reality on Wall Street. During the first quarter of 2013, 78% of S&P 500 companies issued negative earnings-per-share (EPS) guidance, 81% during the second quarter, and a record 83% for the third quarter. (Source: “Earnings … Read More


Weak Jobs Numbers & Manufactured Goods Keep QE Door Wide Open

By for Daily Gains Letter | Sep 10, 2013

Weak Jobs NumbersThere’s more to the recent jobs numbers and durable goods statistics than meets the eye. While recent economic data isn’t anything to celebrate, it does still open up a number of interesting opportunities for both short- and long-term investors.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics said last Friday that 169,000 non-farm payroll jobs were added in August. As a result, the unemployment rate dropped from 7.4% in July to 7.3% in August, the lowest rate since December 2008. Good news! But not really. (Source: “The Employment Situation – August 2013,” Bureau of Labor Statistics web site, September 6, 2013.)

At face value, August’s jobs numbers don’t tell the whole story. The vast majority of those jobs (71%) were created in retail, business services, hospitality, and health care; interestingly, only 19,000 jobs (11.1%), or 400 per state, were in manufacturing. In fact, the real reason the jobs numbers looked so encouraging is because more and more Americans have stopped looking for work—and no longer count as being unemployed.

July’s projected jobs numbers growth was revised downward from 162,000 to an anemic 104,000; June’s numbers were also revised lower. Add them up, and July’s revised jobs numbers means the U.S. has created 74,000 fewer jobs than previously believed.

The day before, the Census Bureau announced that new manufactured goods orders in July fell 2.4% month-over-month, the largest decline in half a year; in June, orders were up 1.6%. July’s slide came on the heels of weak demand for heavy machinery and commercial aircraft. (Source: “Full Report on Manufacturers’ Shipments, Inventories and Orders July 2013,” U.S. Census Bureau web site, September 5, 2013.)

Since … Read More