Stock Bulls Remain Optimistic As Data Indicates a Slowdown in Manufacturing Inflation

Stock bulls remain extremely cautious but a bit more optimistic as data indicates a slowdown in manufacturing inflation. The Producer Price Index rose +11% year-over-year in April, higher than expected but a meaningful pullback from March’s +11.5%. Producer prices lead consumer prices, so the report is a good sign overall, though investors, as well as the Fed, will need to see a couple more months of declines before declaring that inflation is indeed cooling.

Inflation

Economists also warn that goods inflation may be coming down because consumer demand is shifting more to services, meaning high prices could simply be moving from one part of the economy to another. The latest data shows services prices are rising at the fastest rate in three decades with airfare leading the way. Even if inflation has peaked, the question now is, how long will it remain elevated?

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell cautioned yesterday that he can’t guarantee the central bank can deliver a so-called “soft landing” for the economy, pointing to the tight labor market and ongoing supply chain dislocations. Powell also stressed that other “huge events” are playing important roles right now, including Russia’s war in Ukraine, that are beyond the Fed’s control. Powell made the comments after being confirmed by the Senate for a second 4-year term.

The central bank’s target inflation rate is still a “flexible +2%” but several officials have indicated that the new normal might be more in the +2.5% to +3% range. One of the main gauges (but not the only one) the Fed uses to determine the rate of inflation is the Core PCE Prices Index, which for March was running at +5.2%. The April read is due out on May 27, which is a couple weeks ahead of the Fed’s next meeting on June 14-15.

Data to watch

Consumer data recently has been sending mixed signals that are hard to interpret. Sentiment has been mostly falling since the start of the year but consumer spending has not shown any signs of pullback.

Next week, investors get an update on how spending is holding up via April Retail Sales on Tuesday. A slew of fresh housing data next week will provide a deeper look at how substantially higher mortgage rates might be impacting the market. The NAHB Housing Market Index for May is out on Tuesday, followed by April Housing Starts on Wednesday, and April Existing Home Sales on Thursday.

Several key earnings are on the calendar next week as well, including Home Depot and Walmart on Tuesday; Cisco, Lowe’s, Target, and TJX Companies on Wednesday; Applied Materials, Palo Alto Networks, and Ross Stores on Thursday; and Deere & Co. on Friday.

What Is Next for the Russian Economy?

The first round of peace talks between Russia and Ukraine failed to make any progress but the two sides agreed to meet again in coming days.

I’m not really sure if that means anything as Russia now has a 40 mile convoy of military equipment and troops headed directly for the Ukraine border. At the same time, most reports indicate that fighting on the ground is intensifying and that Belarus is now preparing to deploy troops to help Russia. It’s still not clear what impact the array of sanctions the West has slapped on Russia might have on global financial markets and trade flows but the Russian economy is already being wrecked.

Russian central bank

The Russian central bank more than doubled its benchmark interest rate to 20% as it attempted to curb a run on banks and stop the fallout in the Russian ruble. At least one major Russian bank is said to be on the brink of collapse.

Meanwhile, the Russian central bank faces being cut off from a large portion of its foreign financial reserves under new restrictions from the West which will make it tougher for Russia to defend its currency. Keep in mind, the Russian ruble fell -30% against the US dollar, making it now worth less than one cent.

Some economists predict the country could face a total economic collapse if the extreme measures are kept in place for very long. Russia is now said to be preparing countermeasures against countries supporting sanctions imposed by the U.S. and its European allies. Most experts think it’s unlikely that Russia will curb its oil or gas supplies as they account for a sizable portion of the country’s GDP. However, most Russia experts also agree that it’s hard to predict what Putin might do if he feels like he’s been backed into a corner and humiliated over his miscalculation that Ukraine would be an easy land grab.

Inflation in USA

The most immediate threat to the U.S. at the current moment is that the conflict will push inflation even higher and the Federal Reserve will eventually have to get more aggressive in its efforts to bring prices down, possibly pushing the economy into a recession.

A lot of bulls believe that the U.S. consumer is actually strong enough to weather a period of both elevated inflation and higher borrowing costs thanks to healthy savings and the strong increase in asset prices witnessed over the past year and a half. I question that perspective, as I’ve seen some recent data that shows the US consumers savings level is getting back to pre-Covid levels and the higher costs of energy and housing might soon start taking a bigger bite. In fact, many bears warn that inflation is already eroding savings as well as spending power with double-digit price gains for consumer goods adding an estimated $250 in expenses for the average American household.

Investors will be scrutinizing the ISM Manufacturing Index today for signs that factory level prices might be starting to ease. The gauge climbed in January after easing for two months in a row at the end of 2021. Construction Spending is also due today. On the earnings front, highlights include AutoZone, Dominos Pizza, Hewlett Packard, Hormel Foods, J.M. Smucker, Kohl’s, Ross Stores, Salesforce, and Target.

Wall Street Week Ahead Earnings: Zoom, Salesforce, Domino’s, Dollar Tree and Broadcom in Focus

Traders have been rattled by geopolitical tensions over the Russia-Ukraine crisis, which has caused the global stock market to suffer. The S&P 500 plunged into correction territory. If tensions continue for long, analysts fear that it will be harder for the U.S. Federal Reserve to raise rates after next month’s hike. Due to this, investors sought safe-haven assets and U.S. Treasury yields fell as tensions between Ukraine and Russia increased. In addition, investors will focus on December quarter earnings for stocks that are economically sensitive, which should show better profits than technology stocks amid surging inflation.

Earnings Calendar For The Week Of February 28

Monday (February 28)

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: ZOOM

The San Jose, California-based communications technology company Zoom is expected to report its fiscal fourth-quarter earnings of $0.67 per share, which represents a year-over-year decline of nearly 24% from $0.88 per share seen in the same period a year ago.

The company, which provides video telephony and online chat services through a cloud-based peer-to-peer software platform, would post revenue growth of 19% to $1.05 billion.

“We have seen a reluctance of investors around Zoom given recent performance of WFH winners. Look to FY23 guide as opportunity to reset Street expectations, giving investors a cleaner path to getting involved. Remain OW on early days company at upselling large installed base with ancillary products,” noted Meta Marshall, equity analyst at Morgan Stanley.

Zoom has established its position as the leader in video conferencing, now a growth market. Company has meaningful competitive moat built on more than just architecture. Position within customers makes an attractive opportunity to expand into broader UC market. Early wins encouraging. Opportunities to expand platform remain. Manageable churn post-COVID as move to hybrid work setups continues.”

TAKE A LOOK AT OUR EARNINGS CALENDAR FOR THE FULL RELEASES FOR THE FEBRUARY 28

TICKER COMPANY EPS FORECAST
AMBA Ambarella $-0.04
HPQ HP $1.04
NVAX Novavax $0.36
SBAC SBA Communications $2.62
SDC SmileDirectClub $-0.28
WDAY Workday $-0.19

 

Tuesday (March 1)

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: SALESFORCE.COM, DOMINO’S PIZZA

SALESFORCE.COM: The San Francisco, California-based software company is expected to report its fourth-quarter earnings of $0.75 per share, which represents a year-over-year decline of over 27% from $1.04 per share seen in the same period a year ago.

However, the leading provider of enterprise cloud computing solutions would post revenue growth of nearly 25% to $7.24 billion up from $5.82 billion a year earlier. The company has beaten consensus earnings estimates in most of the quarters in the last two years, at least.

Salesforce.com (CRM) is down 35% since reporting F3Q vs. IGV down 25% due to software selloff, investor fears around demand-pull forward and MuleSoft, and tougher compares in 1HF23. Our survey indicated 88% expect their pipelines to grow with 37% expecting growth of 20%+ in F23. Despite a tough set-up heading into the Q, expectations are low. CRM offers attractive risk-reward as it trades close to trough levels at 5x ’23 rev. vs. comps at 9x (40% discount). Maintain Buy,” noted Brent Thill, equity analyst at Jefferies.

DOMINO’S PIZZA: The world’s largest pizza restaurant by sales is expected to report its fourth-quarter earnings of $4.30 per share, which represents year-over-year growth of about 12% from $3.85 per share seen in the same period a year ago.

The Ann Arbor Michigan-based company has beaten consensus earnings estimates in most of the quarters in the last two years, at least. The largest pizza chain in the world would post revenue growth of 2% to around $1.38 billion from $1.36 billion a year earlier.

TAKE A LOOK AT OUR EARNINGS CALENDAR FOR THE FULL RELEASES FOR THE MARCH 1

TICKER COMPANY EPS FORECAST
AZO AutoZone $16.42
AVID Avid Technology $0.33
BIDU Baidu $1.49
DPZ Domino’s Pizza $4.30
JAZZ Jazz Pharmaceuticals $2.96
JWN Nordstrom $1.05
ROST Ross Stores $0.97
TGT Target $2.85

 

Wednesday (March 2)

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: DOLLAR TREE

The Chesapeake, Virginia-based company Dollar Tree is expected to report earnings of $1.78 per share in the fourth quarter, down over 16% from $2.13 per share seen in the same period a year ago. But the discount variety stores that sells items for $1 or less would post revenue growth of more than 5% to $7.13 billion.

“While supply chain disruptions and associated costs are top of mind given the unexpected magnitude of these costs in 2Q and ongoing impact in 3Q, we believe that Dollar Tree’s price-increase initiative will likely be a focal point for investors. More specifically, we think investors will look to better understand customer receptivity to these price increases, the degree to which these price increases can mitigate the aforementioned supply chain costs, and to what extent the company is utilizing higher price point items to diversify merchandising and sourcing,” noted Randal J. Konik, equity analyst at Jefferies.

TAKE A LOOK AT OUR EARNINGS CALENDAR FOR THE FULL RELEASES FOR THE MARCH 2

TICKER COMPANY EPS FORECAST
ANF Abercrombie & Fitch $1.59
BOX Box Inc. $-0.06
PDCO Patterson Cos. $0.50
SGFY Signify Health $0.02
SPLK Splunk $-1.08
VEEV Veeva Systems $0.59

 

Thursday (March 3)

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: BROADCOM

Chipmaker and software infrastructure supplier Broadcom is expected to report earnings per share of $8.08 in the fiscal first quarter, which represents year-over-year growth of over 22% from $6.61 per share seen in the same period a year ago.

The San Jose, California-based semiconductor manufacturer would post revenue growth of nearly 14% to $7.6 billion. The company has beaten consensus earnings estimates in most of the quarters in the last two years, at least.

Broadcom (AVGO) is a compelling franchise in semis with diversified end-market exposure, product cycle momentum in wireless and networking, and market leadership. Furthermore, we take a more constructive view than investors on the company’s software strategy, particularly its purchase of Symantec,” noted Joseph Moore, equity analyst at Morgan Stanley.

“While sentiment has gradually improved, AVGO is still trading below the SOX on a P/E basis despite superior margins and FCF. We see an increase in 5G $ content, a rebound in enterprise, and reacceleration of cloud as tailwinds through 2021; and with the company’s net leverage reduced meaningfully it should be in the position to continue to execute on tuck-in deals in software.”

TAKE A LOOK AT OUR EARNINGS CALENDAR FOR THE FULL RELEASES FOR THE MARCH 3

TICKER COMPANY EPS FORECAST
BBY Best Buy $2.81
BIG Big Lots $2.19
COST Costco Wholesale $2.54
GPS Gap $-0.12
KR Kroger $0.70
WB Weibo $0.75

 

Friday (March 4)

No major earnings are scheduled for release.

What Fuels The Stock Market Now?

An outstanding earnings season and signs that economic activity are picking back up are clashing with unrelenting inflation, difficulty finding more labor, and continued supply chain logjams.

Inflation

Most insiders believe inflation has further to climb, though the consensus right now is calling for a peak around the beginning of Q2 next year. With big shopping holidays in the U.S. coming up, followed closely by Chinese New Year at the beginning of February 2022, shipping and transportation logjams aren’t expected to find much relief in the near-term.

Meaning inflation pressures will likely continue. How far inflation will climb as the severe supply chain dislocations drag on is a huge unknown. Some Wall street investors are concerned that the Fed might feel compelled to end its asset purchases and hike rates much sooner than expected if monthly inflation keeps accelerating.

What might be even more worrisome is the fear that some of these price increases could be more permanent in nature, so how much overall inflation will pull back in the long run is starting to become a bigger talking point.

Demand and supply chain

Supply chain insiders warn that many companies are front-loading inventories in an effort to avoid running out of critical materials, which could bite in the long run if demand suddenly drops off. A lot of manufacturers have also increased production capacity for products that currently face shortages. The risk is that once back orders are filled and demand retreats, stockpiling and excess production could result in an oversupply situation in some areas, along with much lower profits and total revenues.

Another worry right now is that demand starts to retreats due to the current inflationary environment especially with everyday items like food and gasoline costing substantially more. That has investors anxious to see the latest Consumer Sentiment read being released today which is expected to edge higher vs. last month.

Investors are closing tracking the inflation expectation gauges in the report as typically the higher those climb, the more consumers tend to pull back on spending.

Data to watch next week

Looking towards next week, the economic data flow picks up with key releases including Empire State Manufacturing on Monday; Retail Sales, Import/Export Prices, Industrial Production, Business Inventories, and the NAHB Housing Market Index on Tuesday; Housing Starts and Building Permits on Wednesday; and the Philadelphia Fed Index on Thursday.

On the earnings front, Q3 reporting is just about wrapped up with companies in the S&P 500 index reporting revenue growth of more than +17%, the second highest on record behind only Q2 2021’s growth of over +25%, according to FactSet. Earnings themselves are on track to exceed +40%. AstraZeneca is today’s earnings highlight. Earnings next week include several big retailers which will provide some more clues as to how consumer demand is trending as well as updates on supply chain struggles. Investors are also keen to hear how holiday hiring is going.

Key earnings reports next week will include Advanced Auto Parts, Lucid, Tyson, and Warner Music on Monday; Home Depot and Walmart on Tuesday; Bath & Body Works, Cisco, Lowe’s, NVIDIA, Target, TJX, and Victoria’s Secret on Wednesday; Alibaba, Applied Materials, Intuit, Kohl’s, Macy’s, Palo Alto Networks, Ross Stores, and Williams Sonoma on Thursday; and The Buckle and Foot Locker on Friday.

Checking in on the geopolitical front, the U.S. is warning that Russia may be planning a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. U.S. officials say they’ve briefed their EU counterparts about concerns over a possible military operation, citing a buildup of Russian troops along the Ukraine border. Tensions are boiling still in Belarus and Russia is fanning the flames on that front as well.

SP500 commentary

ES ##-## (Daily) 2021_11_14 (1_49_54 AM)

The bearish accumulation divergence played very well last week. Moreover, the Advance Decline Line is weaker than the price is. It is also a negative factor in the short term. Potentially SP500 started the formation of the bull flag. Finding support at lower levels would be a great buying point with a target of 4800.

The major economic indicators are still bullish despite rising inflation. 4500 level is a psychological level bears will target if 4600 fails. Current levels can be considered only for intraday trading. At the same time, lower levels are needed to get a good risk/reward ratio for swing traders.

For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.

Earnings Week Ahead: Advance Auto Parts, Home Depot, Nvidia and Ross Stores in Focus

Earnings Calendar For The Week Of November 15

Monday (November 15)

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: ADVANCE AUTO PARTS

The leading automotive aftermarket parts retailer Advance Auto Parts is expected to report its third-quarter earnings of $2.87 per share, which represents year-over-year growth of over 2% from $2.81 per share seen in the same period a year ago.

The Raleigh, North Carolina-based company would post revenue growth of nearly 2% to $2.6 billion up from $2.54 billion registered a year earlier. The company has beaten earnings per share (EPS) estimates three times in the last four quarters.

Advance Auto Parts (AAP) operates in a defensive (recession-resistant) category and has one of the largest long-term EBIT margin expansion opportunities in our coverage (we estimate 300-400 bps over time). COVID-19 slowed parts of AAP’s transformation but gross and EBIT margin upside from internal initiatives is still expected beginning in 2021,” noted Simeon Gutman, equity analyst at Morgan Stanley.

“Significant and improving FCF generation plus share repurchases likely to enhance EPS growth. We think the combination of a defensive category, AAP’s progress generating stable top-line growth, and significant margin upside all make for an upside case. Slowing topline momentum and associated risk to margin trajectory balance the risk/reward skew.”

TAKE A LOOK AT OUR EARNINGS CALENDAR FOR THE FULL RELEASES FOR THE NOVEMBER 15

Ticker Company EPS Forecast
AAP Advance Auto Parts $2.87
JJSF J&J Snack Foods $1.28
CMP Compass Minerals International $0.62

Tuesday (November 16)

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: HOME DEPOT

The largest home improvement retailer in the United States, Home Depot, is expected to report its third-quarter earnings of $3.39 per share, which represents year-over-year growth of about 7% from $3.18 per share seen in the same period a year ago.

The home improvement retailer would post revenue growth of over 4% to $34.942 billion from $33.54 billion a year earlier. In the last two years, the company has beaten earnings per share (EPS) estimates in most of the quarters with a surprise of over 5%.

Home Depot shares have gained nearly 40% so far this year. The stock closed 1.36% higher at $372.63 on Friday. Home Depot’s better-than-expected results, which will be announced on Nov 16, could help the stock hit new all-time highs.

“Shares of Home Depot have risen and outpaced the industry year to date. The company boasts a robust surprise trend with the fifth straight quarter of earnings and sales beat in second-quarter fiscal 2021. Results gained from continued demand for home improvement projects, the robust housing market and ongoing investments. The company is effectively adapting to the demand for renovations and construction activities, driven by prudent investments,” noted analysts at ZACKS Research.

“It is gaining from growth in Pro and DIY customer categories as well as digital momentum. However, in the second quarter, the company witnessed year-over-year moderation in its comparable-store sales growth. This was due to the lapping of the high demand environment for home-improvement projects seen last year. Soft gross margin, stemming from increased penetration of lumber, has also been a drag.”

TAKE A LOOK AT OUR EARNINGS CALENDAR FOR THE FULL RELEASES FOR THE NOVEMBER 16

Ticker Company EPS Forecast
ICP Intermediate Capital £32.70
HSV Homeserve £6.60
ARMK Aramark $0.19
HD Home Depot $3.35
DLB Dolby Laboratories $0.35
LAND Land Securities £18.78
IMB Imperial Brands PLC £138.10

Wednesday (November 17)

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: NVIDIA

The Santa Clara, California- based multinational technology company, Nvidia, is expected to report its third-quarter earnings of $1.11 per share, which represents a year-over-year decline of over 60% from $2.91 per share seen in the same period a year ago.

The company, which designs graphics processing units for the gaming and professional markets, as well as system on a chip unit for the mobile computing and automotive market would post year-over-year revenue growth of over 40% to $6.8 billion.

According to Oppenheimer analyst Rick Schafer, Nvidia will report above-consensus October quarter results, lifting its price target to $350 from $235 and rating the company “outperform”.

“Supply constraints continue to weigh on the group, though we see Nvidia (NVDA), a top semi-supplier, as better positioned to secure capacity. The company’s leading soup-to-nuts software/hardware platform solidifies its AI accelerator dominance,” Oppenheimer analyst Rick Schafer wrote in his report, reported by Reuters.

TAKE A LOOK AT OUR EARNINGS CALENDAR FOR THE FULL RELEASES FOR THE NOVEMBER 17

Ticker Company EPS Forecast
BLND British Land Company £8.75
SGE The Sage Group £11.11
LOW Lowe’s Companies $2.33
CPRT Copart $0.99
NVDA Nvidia $1.11
CPA Copa -$0.19
KLIC Kulicke And Soffa Industries $2.07
TTEK Tetra Tech $1.00
HI Hillenbrand $0.91
SSE SSE £11.80

Thursday (November 18)

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: ROSS STORES

The second-largest off-price retailer in the U.S., Ross Stores, is expected to report its third-quarter earnings of $0.79 per share, which represents a year-over-year decline of over 24% from $1.02 per share seen in the same period a year ago.

The U.S. home fashion chain would post year-over-year revenue growth of nearly 16% to $4.4 billion. The company has beaten earnings per share (EPS) estimates three times in the last four quarters.

“Market share capture from competitor bankruptcies & store closures, favourable customer fundamentals, and high exposure to Hispanics, the fastest-growing US population segment, support 6-8% long-term revenue growth and 10%+ annual EPS. Upward EPS revisions appear an ongoing positive share price catalyst. Profit flow-through is magnified when comps exceed the 1-2% plan in a typical year,” noted Kimberly Greenberger, equity analyst at Morgan Stanley.

“The ‘everyday value’ proposition fosters comp outperformance, while recessions accelerate customer acquisition. Low average selling prices ($8-10/unit) and narrow gross margin render selling online unprofitable at this price point.”

TAKE A LOOK AT OUR EARNINGS CALENDAR FOR THE FULL RELEASES FOR THE NOVEMBER 18

Ticker Company EPS Forecast
NG National Grid £15.70
HLMA Halma £21.19
RMG Royal Mail -£6.30
NJR New Jersey Resources $0.08
KSS Kohl’s $0.69
HP Helmerich & Payne -$0.50
MMS Maximus $0.87
BJ BJs Wholesale Club Holdings Inc $0.79
M Macy’s $0.29
BERY Berry Plastics $1.53
NUAN Nuance Communications $0.20
BRC Brady $0.76
ROST Ross Stores $0.79
INTU Intuit $0.97
FTCH Farfetch -$0.24
ESE ESCO Technologies $0.78

Friday (November 19)

Ticker Company EPS Forecast
BKE Buckle $0.80
FL Foot Locker $1.34