Costco Losing Altitude Despite Strong Quarter

Costco Wholesale Corp. (COST) sold off more than 2% on Friday despite beating Q3 2021 top and bottom line estimates by healthy margins. The big box retailer earned $2.75-per-share during the quarter, $0.47 better than expectations, while revenue rose a healthy 21.8% year-over-year to $44.38 billion, more than $500 million higher than consensus. U.S. sales rose 15.2% while e-commerce sales eased off the torrid 2020 pace, rising a still-impressive 38.2%.

Weak Buying Interest

The stock is finally trading in the green for 2021 following a steep first quarter decline that shed nearly 20%. A broad-based rotation out of the COVID-19 beneficiaries and into recovery plays dampened buying interest after last year’s impressive 29% return and it’s been slow to return.  Even so, Costco was trading at a 35.5 forward price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio before the report, marking a premium to rivals Walmart Corp. (WMT) and Target Corp. (TGT).

Telsey Advisory Group analyst Joseph Feldman raised his target to $415 on Friday, noting “Costco should remain a share gainer, with its solid sales, high membership renewal rates (110MM total members), and square footage growth of LSD. In FY22, Costco should continue to generate solid EPS growth, driven by a MSD comp, MSD-HSD membership fee income growth, healthy digital growth, and lapping COVID-19 related costs. We maintain our Outperform rating.”

Wall Street and Technical Outlook

Wall Street consensus stands at an ‘Overweight’ rating after last year’s strong performance, underpinned by 19 ‘Buy’, 4 ‘Overweight’, 10 ‘Hold’, and 2 ‘Underweight’ recommendations. Price targets currently range from a low of $249 to a Street-high $415 while the stock closed Friday’s session more than $35 below the median $416 target. This low placement highlights Main Street discomfort with the higher-than-historical valuation.

Costco has been a superior performer for more than a decade, posting a long series of new highs. It broke out above February 2020 resistance at 325 in July and entered a healthy uptrend that posted an all-time high at 393.15 in November. The subsequent decline found support at 307 in March while a V-shaped recovery into May stalled four points below the 2020 peak. Weak accumulation during the uptick has failed to reach prior highs, setting the stage for mixed two-sided price action into the second half.

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

Disclosure: the author held no positions in aforementioned securities at the time of publication. 

Costco Wholesale Sales Growth Stands Solid; Target Price $445 in Best Case

Costco Wholesale Corporation, which operates a chain of membership-only big-box retail stores, reported a high-than-expected profit in the fiscal third quarter, prompting several analysts to raise their one-year price targets.

The leading warehouse club said its net sales for the quarter jumped 21.7% to $44.38 billion, from $36.45 billion last year. Net sales for the first 36 weeks increased 17.7% to $130.61 billion, from $110.94 billion last year.

Costco’s net income attributable climbed to $1.22 billion, or $2.75 per share, up from $838 million, or $1.89 per share a year ago. That was higher than the Wall Street consensus estimates of $2.31 per share. The company’s total revenue jumped 21.5% to $45.28 billion, beating the market expectations of $43.64 billion.

Costco Wholesale shares rose over 3% so far this year. The stock closed 0.5% higher at $387.5 on Thursday.

Analyst Comments

“We plan to lift our $332 per share valuation of wide-moat Costco by a mid-single-digit percentage after it posted strong third-quarter (ended May 9) earnings. Its 21% revenue growth impressed considering the chain lapped the early days of the pandemic (which included significant customer stock-up activity), but we mostly attribute the results to transitory factors,” noted Zain Akbari, equity analyst at Morningstar.

“So, our long-term forecast still calls for mid-single-digit percentage sales growth and 3%-4% adjusted operating margins. We suggest investors seek a more attractive entry price, particularly considering elevated uncertainty as the customer habits normalize,”

Costco Wholesale Stock Price Forecast

Twenty-two analysts who offered stock ratings for Costco Wholesale in the last three months forecast the average price in 12 months of $400.60 with a high forecast of $445.00 and a low forecast of $325.00.

The average price target represents a 3.38% increase from the last price of $387.50. Of those 22 analysts, 17 rated “Buy”, five rated “Hold” while none rated “Sell”, according to Tipranks.

Morgan Stanley gave the stock price forecast of $410 with a high of $520 under a bull scenario and $270 under the worst-case scenario. The firm gave an “Overweight” rating on the apparel retail company’s stock.

COST’s results have consistently been among the best in Retail. Over the past decade, COST has delivered ~6% comps and ~10% EBIT growth on average. It is rare to find a business with COST’s solid comp/membership growth, while relative e-commerce insulation differentiates its value proposition from other retailers,” noted Simeon Gutman, equity analyst at Morgan Stanley.

“We are Overweight even as the stock trades at an elevated valuation given COST’s scarcity value, safety, and scale. In the near-term, we expect incremental sales uplifts from COVID-19 disruption, and earnings power looks stronger despite COVID-19 expenses.”

Several other analysts have also updated their stock outlook. Cowen and company raised the target price to $440 from $410. RBC lifted the target price to $453 from $425. CFRA upped the target price by $55 to $375. Raymond James increased the target price to $415 from $410. JPMorgan raised the target price to $420 from $410.

Check out FX Empire’s earnings calendar

Best Dividend Stocks June 2021

In my experience, great dividend stocks have a few characteristics: strong fundamentals, increasing dividend distributions over time, and bullish trading activity in the shares.

The hallmark way I go about finding the best dividend stocks…the outliers, is by looking for quiet Big Money trading activity. Oftentimes, that can be institutional activity. I’ll go over why following the Big Money is so important in a bit. But, the 5 stocks I see as long-term dividend growth candidates are ABT, COST, ADI, MCD, & NKE.

Over decades, I’ve learned that the true tell on great stocks is that big money consistently finds its way into the best companies out there… especially dividend paying stocks. Some of the biggest returns ever have come from holding stocks for many years and reinvesting dividends.

I want the odds on my side when looking for the highest quality dividend stocks…and I own many of them.

So, let’s get into it.

Up first is Abbott Laboratories, Inc. (ABT), which is a seller of health care products globally. Their product lines include pharmaceuticals, nutrition, diagnostics, and medical devices.

Let’s first start with the technical picture.

When deciding on a strong candidate for long-term dividend growth, I look for stocks seeing a pullback:

  • 1 month performance (-3.41%)
  • Historical Big Money buy signals

Below are the Big Money signals Abbott Labs has made since 2015. Green bars are showing that ABT was seeing big buy activity according to MAPsignals. Typically, the more Big Money signals, the stronger the stock:

Source: MAPsignals, End of day data sourced from Tiingo.com

On top of technicals, when deciding on the best dividend stock, you should look under the hood to see if the fundamental picture supports a long-term investment. As you can see, ABT has a strong dividend history:

  • 3-year dividend growth rate (+10.8%)
  • Current dividend per share = .45
  • Forward yield = 1.54%
  • 3-year earnings growth rate (+158.04%)

Next up is Costco Wholesale Corp. (COST), which operates membership warehouses in many countries. They offer branded and off-brand retail products.

When deciding on a strong candidate for long-term dividend growth, it’s a good idea to look for many years of dividend increases.

Now let’s look at recent performance:

  • 1 month performance (+4.80%)
  • Historical big money signals

Below are the big money signals that Costco has made since 2015. I expect more buy signals in the years to come.

Source: MAPsignals, End of day data sourced from Tiingo.com

On top of technicals, when deciding on the best dividend stock, you should look under the hood to see if the fundamental picture supports a long-term investment. As you can see, Costco has a nice dividend history. Their earnings growth has been stellar as well:

  • 3-year dividend growth rate (+12.4%)
  • Current dividend per share = .79
  • Forward yield = .82%
  • 3-year earnings growth rate (+14.04%)

Next, I’m looking at Analog Devices, Inc. (ADI), which is a leading semiconductor company. They have a solid dividend history.

When deciding on a strong candidate for long-term dividend growth, recent performance in the shares is important:

  • 1 month performance (+1.92%)
  • Recent Big Money signals

Below are the big money signals that Analog Devices has made since 2015. It’s clear the stock has been in a nice uptrend:

Source: MAPsignals, End of day data sourced from Tiingo.com

On top of technicals, when deciding on the best dividend stock, you should look under the hood to see if the fundamental picture supports a long-term investment. As you can see, ADI has a strong dividend history:

  • 3-year dividend growth rate (+10.7%)
  • Current dividend per share = .69
  • Forward yield = 1.69%
  • 3-year earnings growth rate (+24.62%)

Next, I’m looking at McDonald’s Corp. (MCD), which is a global fast-food franchise company. They operate over 39,000 restaurants globally.

When deciding on a strong candidate for long-term dividend growth, recent muted performance is not a bad thing:

  • 1 month performance (-.07%)
  • Recent Big Money signals

Below are the Big Money signals that McDonald’s has made since 2015.

Source: MAPsignals, End of day data sourced from Tiingo.com

On top of technicals, when deciding on the best dividend stock, let’s check up on the fundamentals. As you can see, McDonald’s has a strong dividend history.

  • 3-year dividend growth rate (+9.6%)
  • Current dividend per share = 1.29
  • Forward yield = 2.2%
  • 3-year earnings growth rate (+.9%)

Lastly, I’m looking at NIKE, Inc. (NKE), which is a leading athletic footwear and apparel company.

When deciding on a strong candidate for long-term dividend growth, I like to look for recent leaders:

  • 1 month performance (+2.07%)
  • Historical Big Money signals

Below are the Big Money signals that NIKE has made since 2015.

Source: MAPsignals, End of day data sourced from Tiingo.com

On top of technicals, when deciding on the best dividend stock, you gotta see if the fundamental picture supports a long-term investment. NIKE has been a steady grower:

  • 3-year dividend growth rate (+10.9%)
  • Current dividend per share = .275
  • Forward yield = .81%
  • 3-year earnings growth rate (+8.22%)

The Bottom Line

ABT, COST, ADI, MCD, & NKE represent solid dividend choices. Given the strong historical dividend growth and Big Money signals, these stocks could be worth an extra look for a dividend investor.

Disclosure: the author holds long positions in personal and managed accounts in COST and long positions in managed accounts in ADI & NKE. He holds no positions in ABT & MCD at the time of publication.

To learn more about the MAPsignals process, click here: www.mapsignals.com

Disclaimer

https://mapsignals.com/contact/

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

Earnings to Watch Next Week: AutoZone, Nvidia, Medtronic and Costco Wholesale in Focus

Earnings Calendar For The Week Of May 24

Monday (May 24)

Ticker Company EPS Forecast
NDSN Nordson $1.64

Tuesday (May 25)

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: AUTOZONE

The Memphis, Tennessee-based auto parts retailer is expected to report its fiscal third-quarter earnings of $20.02 per share, which represents year-over-year growth of about 39% from $14.39 per share seen in the same period a year ago.

The United States’ leading retailer and a leading distributor of automotive replacement parts and accessories would post revenue growth of 17% to $3.26 billion. In the last four quarters, on average, the company has beaten earnings estimates over 12%.

AutoZone (AZO) could comp ~30% in F’Q3 with a boost from the stimulus, and a flat comp is possible in F’Q4 on a tougher compare. However, these beats may not fully flow through to F’22. Risk/reward looks positive but less favorable after the stock’s recent run. Stay ‘Overweight’ with a $1,640 price target,” noted Simeon Gutman, equity analyst at Morgan Stanley.

AZO is our top pick in DIY Auto. We see it as a high-quality retailer with the ability to compound earnings/FCF growth over time. While not immune to a tougher macro backdrop (fewer miles driven), we believe AZO is best positioned through any recession given its leading exposure to the more defensive DIY segment (~80% of sales). In addition, its DIFM growth was accelerating pre-COVID and we think it can gain more share in that segment going forward. In our view, ongoing share gains coupled with solid expense management should allow AZO to overcome headwinds from less driving in the near- to medium-term.”

TAKE A LOOK AT OUR EARNINGS CALENDAR FOR THE FULL RELEASES FOR THE MAY 25

Ticker Company EPS Forecast
SHB Shaftesbury £0.64
VSAT Viasat $0.22
CBRL Cracker Barrel Old Country Store $0.27
AZO AutoZone $20.02
HTHT Huazhu Group Limited -$1.61
DY Dycom Industries $0.06
URBN Urban Outfitters $0.17
HEI Heico $0.48
TOL Toll Brothers $0.79
A Agilent $0.83
INTU Intuit $6.52
JWN Nordstrom -$0.58
VNET 21Vianet -$0.43
BYG Big Yellow £22.76

Wednesday (May 26)

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: NVIDIA

The Santa Clara, California- based multinational technology company is expected to report its first-quarter earnings of $3.28 per share, which represents year-over-year growth of over 80% from $1.80 per share seen in the same period a year ago.

In the last four consecutive quarters, on average, the company has delivered an earnings surprise of over 10%. 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 70% to $5.4 billion.

“For the first quarter of fiscal 2022, NVIDIA anticipates revenues of $5.3 billion (+/-2%). Non-GAAP gross margin is projected at 66% (+/-50 bps). Non-GAAP operating expenses are estimated to be $1.20 billion. Capital expenditures are expected to be approximately $300-$325 million,” noted equity analysts at ZACKS Research.

TAKE A LOOK AT OUR EARNINGS CALENDAR FOR THE FULL RELEASES FOR THE MAY 26

Ticker Company EPS Forecast
VAR Varian Medical Systems $1.10
NVDA Nvidia $3.28
BMO Bank Of Montreal USA $2.17
CPRI Capri Holdings Ltd $0.01
ANF Abercrombie & Fitch -$0.41
DKS Dick’s Sporting Goods $1.16
UHAL Amerco $5.07
WDAY Workday $0.73
SNOW Intrawest Resorts -$0.16
AEO American Eagle Outfitters $0.47
DXC DXC Technology Co $0.70
LI Li Auto -$0.14
WSM Williams Sonoma $1.72

Thursday (May 27)

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: MEDTRONIC, COSTCO WHOLESALE

MEDTRONIC: An American Irish-domiciled medical device company is expected to report its fiscal fourth-quarter earnings of $1.42 per share, which represents year-over-year growth of over 140% from $0.58 per share seen in the same period a year ago.

In the last four consecutive quarters, on average, the company has delivered an earnings surprise of over 44%. The Fridley, Minnesota-based medical company would post year-over-year revenue growth of over 35% to $8.14 billion.

“Peer results and commentary suggest ~33-34% organic growth (the upper end of mgmt guidance) is achievable, and we expect FY22 guidance in-line with Cns with room for raises. We continue to see valuation as attractive and Risk/Reward positive into FY22 recovery,” noted Cecilia Furlong, equity analyst at Morgan Stanley.

Medtronic is well aligned with our 2021 pro-recovery thesis, and we see sustainable 5%+ organic growth driven by the company’s ~5% WAMGR and supported by pipeline product launches & tuck-in M&A contributions. CEO Geoff Martha has committed to initiatives to smooth bulk purchasing and deliver more consistent results, and redeploy $450mn annual OpEx savings toward innovation & product reinvestment.”

COSTCO WHOLESALE: The world’s fifth-largest retailer is expected to report its fiscal third-quarter earnings of $2.31 per share, which represents year-over-year growth of over 20% from $1.89 per share seen in the same period a year ago.

The Fridley, Minnesota-based medical company would post revenue of $43.6 billion.

COST’s results have consistently been among the best in Retail. Over the past decade, COST has delivered ~6% comps and ~10% EBIT growth on average. It is rare to find a business with COST’s solid comp/membership growth, while relative e-commerce insulation differentiates its value proposition from other retailers,” noted Simeon Gutman, equity analyst at Morgan Stanley.

“We are Overweight even as the stock trades at an elevated valuation given COST’s scarcity value, safety, and scale. In the near-term, we expect incremental sales uplifts from COVID-19 disruption, and earnings power looks stronger despite COVID-19 expenses.”

TAKE A LOOK AT OUR EARNINGS CALENDAR FOR THE FULL RELEASES FOR THE MAY 27

Ticker Company EPS Forecast
EGFEY Eurobank Ergasias S.A. ADR $0.01
SAFM Sanderson Farms $2.44
DG Dollar General $2.13
ADSK Autodesk $0.94
CM Canadian Imperial Bank Of Commerce USA $2.49
DLTR Dollar Tree $1.39
TD Toronto-Dominion Bank $1.39
RY Royal Bank Of Canada $2.06
MDT Medtronic $1.42
BBY Best Buy $1.34
BURL Burlington Stores $0.80
ULTA Ulta Salon Cosmetics Fragrance $1.93
CRM Salesforce.com $0.88
VMW VMware $1.58
HPQ HP $0.88
BOX BOX $0.17
PLAN Progressive Planet -$0.09
VEEV Veeva Systems $0.78
GPS Gap -$0.06
COST Costco Wholesale $2.31
ASND Ascendant Resources -$1.83
YY YY -$0.06

Friday (May 28)

Ticker Company EPS Forecast
BIG Big Lots $1.67
For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.

Costco Testing Key Resistance Level

Costco Wholesale Corp. (COST) is pressing against a key resistance level in Monday’s pre-market in reaction to bullish analyst commentary. The stock is still in the red for 2021 after posting a 28% return in 2020, underpinned by its commanding retail position during the COVID-19 pandemic. Taken together with 2019’s 36% return, the underperformance isn’t usual, given the market’s classic warning that “the big the move, the broader the base”.

Post-Pandemic Economic Surge

Big box store sentiment has deteriorated this year, with rival Walmart Inc. (WMT) also posting a negative year-to-date return. Despite investor reluctance, Costco is perfectly positioned to benefit from the post-pandemic economic surge in the United States and other parts of the world, given its massive footprint in North America, Asia, Australia, and Europe. It’s also trading close enough to the 2020 high to potentially support an advance toward the 500 level.

Telsey Advisory Group analyst Joseph Feldman raised his target to $375 on Monday, noting “Costco should remain a share gainer, with its solid sales, high membership renewal rates, and square footage growth of LSD. Costco should continue to generate solid EPS growth, driven by a MSD-DD comp, MSD-HSD membership fee income growth, healthy digital growth, and lapping COVID-19 related costs. We maintain our ‘Outperform’ rating, applying a P/E multiple of ~35x to our new FY22 EPS estimate of $11.15.”

Wall Street and Technical Outlook

Wall Street consensus also stands at an ‘Overweight’ rating, based upon 19 ‘Buy’, 4 ‘Overweight’, and 10 ‘Hold’ recommendations. No analysts are recommending that shareholders close positions and move to the sidelines. Price targets currently range from a low of $325 to a Street-high $415 while the stock is set to open Monday’s session more than $25 below the median $400 target. The Q3 2021 earnings report on May 27 could lift these targets.

Costco rallied above the February 2020 high at 325 in July and took off in a strong uptrend that posted an all-time high at 393.15 in November. It sold off more than 80 points into March and bounced strongly, grinding out a straight line recovery that stalled at the .786 Fibonacci retracement level at 375 about two weeks ago. A rally above this harmonic barrier should support a rapid advance into the 2021 peak near 400, setting off a potential breakout attempt.

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

Disclosure: the author held no positions in aforementioned securities at the time of publication. 

Costco – The Stock Is Sending A Warning Message. Part 2.

Summary

  • Costco’s price pattern is closely related to the business cycle.
  • Costco outperforms the market when business slows down.
  • Costco has declined enough to make it attractive again.

As shown in my article of 12/15/2020 – Costco: A Great Defensive Play, The Issue Is Timing – Costco has distinct pattern closely tied to the business cycle.

The price action of Costco raises two questions. Is Costo likely to outperform the market? If so, what is its price action telling us about the future of the business cycle?

The importance of knowing where we are in the business cycle has major implications on what type of stocks should be in a portfolio.

Source: The Peter Dag Portfolio Strategy and Management

There are two crucial turning points of the business cycle. The first one is when business transitions from Phase 2 to Phase 3. The second point is when the business cycle moves from Phase 4 to Phase 1. Both points signal important changes in price performance of the major market sectors as discussed in detail here.

In Phase 2 of the business cycle business is facing strong demand and needs to replenish inventories to meet sales. The increased production is achieved by buying more raw materials, hiring more people, and increasing borrowing to expand and improve productive capacity.

The outcome of these decisions is higher commodity prices, rising wages, and higher interest rates. The combination of these factors is transmitted to the consumer as higher inflation.

In this phase of the business cycle commodity-sensitive stocks, industrials, energy, and financial stocks easily outperform the market.

The reason for this scenario to come to an end is rising interest rates and inflation have a negative impact on consumers’ spending power. The outcome is slower growth in demand resulting in unwanted inventory accumulation.

There is a point when business finally recognizes the economic landscape has changed and inventories need to be cut by reducing production.

The implication is buying raw materials needs to be curtailed, the workweek needs to be cut, and borrowing must also be reduced. These decisions will cause lower commodity prices, slower growth in wages, and lower interest rates. This is the time the business cycle transitions into Phase 3.

Beginning in Phase 3, sectors outperforming the market are utilities, staples, real estate, and bonds.

The current position of the business cycle is in Phase 2. The recent sharp rise in inflation, commodity prices, and interest rates suggests we are close to the Phase2-Phase 3 turning point.

The price pattern of Costco compared to the S&P 500 is particularly telling because it might give further information on the position of the business cycle.

COST/SPY

AND 200 DMA

SPREAD FROM 200DMA

Source: StockCharts.com, The Peter Dag Portfolio Strategy and Management

The above chart shows two panels. The graphs in the above panel represent the ratio between COST and SPY. The second graph is its 200-day moving average. The graphs rise when COST is outperforming SPY. The graphs decline when COST underperforms SPY. Investors are going to outperform the market if they invest in COST when the graphs rise.

The bottom panel shows the spread between the ratio COST/SPY and its 200-day moving average. The resulting pattern is unique and quite interesting.

The first feature is the spread has now reached “oversold” levels (red horizontal line), signaling the beginning of a period when COST outperforms the market.

BUSINESS CYCLE INDICATOR

SPREAD FROM 200DMA

Source: StockCharts.com, The Peter Dag Portfolio Strategy and Management

The second intriguing feature of the graphs is the spread is closely related to the business cycle as shown by the above graph. The spread between COST/SPY and its 200-day moving average is shown in the upper panel.

The lower panel shows our business cycle indicator updated in each issue of The Peter Dag Portfolio Strategy and Management available at www.peterdag.com. An exclusive complimentary free subscription is available to the readers of this article.

The interesting feature of the chart is the bottoms of the spread coincides with a peak of the business cycle. A peak of the spreads takes place when the business cycle bottoms.

The message is, and this should not be a surprise to the readers of the article published here, COST outperforms the market when the economy slows down.

Key takeaways

The transition of the business cycle from Phase 2 to Phase 3 signals the need to rebalance the investment portfolio.

The sharp increase in inflation, interest rates, and commodities we have been experiencing suggests we are close to the Phase 2-Phase 3 turning point of the business cycle.

The ratio COST/SPY has reached oversold conditions, coinciding in the past with a peak of the business cycle. These oversold conditions suggest Costco will continue to outperform the market.

The strength of Costo compared to the market may suggest investors are beginning to position their portfolios for the Phase 2-Phase 3 turning point of the business cycle.

Costco Wholesale Misses Earnings Estimates; Analysts Cut Target Price

Costco Wholesale Corporation, which operates a chain of membership-only big-box retail stores, reported a lower-than-expected profit in the second quarter, prompting several analysts to lower their one-year price targets.

The leading warehouse club reported net income for the quarter of $951 million, or $2.14 per diluted share, which includes $246 million pretax, or $0.41 per diluted share, in costs incurred primarily from COVID-19 premium wages. That was below the market consensus estimates of $2.45.

COST is positioned to comp the comp in the quarters ahead, and we expect will maintain a significant share. Compares getting challenging, but stronger traffic, re-opening driving fuel & other categories should support robust comps. Renewal returned to all-time high of 91.0% as shoppers are satisfied and loyal. We view curbside pickup pilot as a long-term positive,” said Oliver Chen, equity analyst at Cowen and Company.

Net sales for the quarter increased 14.7%, to $43.89 billion, from $38.26 billion last year. Net sales for the first 24 weeks increased 15.8%, to $86.23 billion, from $74.49 billion last year.

Costco Wholesale shares, which surged over 30% in 2020, traded about 3% lower at $311.08 on Friday.

“Our $332 per share valuation of wide-moat Costco should not change much after it announced second-quarter earnings. Its sales growth outpaced our target (12.9% adjusted comparable expansion across the company versus our 12.0% mark), but we expected cost leverage on the heightened revenue that did not materialize (25 basis points of operating margin degradation, to 3.0%, rather than our forecast for 25 basis points of improvement),” said Zain Akbari, equity analyst at Morningstar.

“As the double-digit sales growth is attributable to the pandemic and the margin shortfall to freight and fuel pressures we see as transitory, we continue to expect mid-single-digit percentage sales growth and 3%-4% operating margins over the next 10 years. We suggest investors await a greater margin of safety, as Costco faces an uncertain normalize action of spending habits once the pandemic ebbs.”

Costco Wholesale Stock Price Forecast

Eighteen analysts who offered stock ratings for Costco Wholesale in the last three months forecast the average price in 12 months of $379.44 with a high forecast of $420.00 and a low forecast of $325.00.

The average price target represents a 21.81% increase from the last price of $311.49. Of those 18 analysts, 12 rated “Buy”, six rated “Hold” while none rated “Sell”, according to Tipranks.

Morgan Stanley gave the base target price of $410 with a high of $520 under a bull scenario and $270 under the worst-case scenario. The firm gave an “Overweight” rating on the apparel retail company’s stock.

“Healthy underlying Q2 results, but tough compares are ahead. SG&A leverage (as COVID costs are lapped) should offset gross margin pressure in F’Q3/Q4. We like COST as a longer-term holding – especially as the multiple has come in – but stock may tread water until visibility on COVID laps improves,” said Simeon Gutman, equity analyst at Morgan Stanley.

Several other analysts have also updated their stock outlook. UBS cuts target price to $395 from $415. Oppenheimer cuts target price to $350 from $400. Stifel cuts target price to $370 from $395. BMO cuts target price to $410 from $430. Deutsche bank cuts target price to $344 from $347.

Moreover, Citigroup cuts price target to $360 from $380. Telsey Advisory Group cuts price target to $375 from $430. JP Morgan cuts target price to $369 from $411. D.A. Davidson cuts price target to $325 from $390. Jefferies cuts price target to $405 from $435.

Analyst Comments

COST’s results have consistently been among the best in Retail. Over the past decade, COST has delivered 6% comps and 10% EBIT growth on average. It is rare to find a business with COST’s solid comp/membership growth, while relative e-commerce insulation differentiates its value proposition from other retailers,” Morgan Stanley’s Gutman added.

“We are Overweight even as the stock trades at an elevated valuation given COST’s scarcity value, safety, and scale. In the near-term, we expect incremental sales uplifts from COVID-19 disruption, and earnings power looks stronger despite COVID-19 expenses,” said Morgan Stanley’s Greenberger added.”

Check out FX Empire’s earnings calendar

Three Top Earnings Plays This Week

Major benchmarks sold off last week in reaction to wild action in the normally sedate bond market. Bonds recovered a good portion of weekly losses on Friday but broad volatility took its toll, dropping the SP-500 and Nasdaq-100 to weekly lows. Many popular names entered corrections during the rout, predicting weakness well into the second quarter. Expect the new week to start with bears pressing their bets and attempting to push prices to even lower levels.

Zoom Video Communication Inc. (ZM) steps to the earnings plate on Monday, with the stock struggling after shareholders picked up stakes and moved on to COVID recovery plays. Big box retailers highlight the week’s other big releases, led by Target Inc. (TGT) on Tuesday and Costco Wholesale Corp. (COST) on Thursday. COST has entered a correction after posting strong 2020 returns while TGT is caught in a trading range near January’s all-time high.

Target

Wall Street expects Target to post a profit of $2.54 per-share on $27.4 billion in revenue. If met, earnings-per-share (EPS) will mark an impressive 50% profit increase compared to the same quarter last year. The company consistently beat estimates in 2020, forcing analysts to raise price targets several times. The stock has now pulled back to support at the 50-day moving average and is perfectly positioned for a multiday bounce in reaction to another strong quarter.

Costco

Costco consensus predicts earnings of $2.31 per-share on $42.7 billion in revenue. If met, EPS will mark a 10% profit increase compared to the same quarter last year. A strong uptrend stalled above 380 in October, yielding two slightly higher highs, followed by a head and shoulders breakdown in January. The stock is now trading below the 200-day moving average for the first time since April 2020 and is rapidly approaching the H&S measured move target near 320.

Zoom Video Communications

Zoom will beat earnings posted in the same quarter last year but it won’t mean much because the period doesn’t include the pandemic. The stock has lost its luster since Pfizer Inc. (PFE) vaccine results triggered a massive rotation out of COVID beneficiaries and into recovery plays. The company has released new products to an attempt to diversify its revenue stream but is still working off massively overbought technical readings in reaction to its historic rally.

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

Disclosure: the author held no positions in aforementioned securities at the time of publication. 

Earnings to Watch Next Week: Zoom, Target, Dollar Tree and Costco in Focus

Earnings Calendar For The Week Of March 1

Monday (March 1)

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: ZOOM

Zoom Video Communications Inc is expected to report a profit of $0.79 per share in the fourth quarter, which represents year-over-year growth of over 425% from $0.15 per share seen in the same quarter a year ago.

The company, which provides videotelephony and online chat services through a cloud-based peer-to-peer software platform, would post year-over-year revenue growth of over 330% to $811.77 million.

“As work-from-home (WFH) persists and Zoom (ZM) Phone gains traction, ZM appears to set up for a strong FQ4 print. More than FQ4/FQ1 report/guide, investor focus/reaction likely based on whether co guides full FY22. Would view the full-year guide as a pos NT catalyst given cautious investor sentiment, however, remain Equal-weight given 2H comps,” noted Meta A Marshall, an equity analyst at Morgan Stanley.

Zoom has established its position as the newly emerged leader in video conferencing, now a growth market, largely credible to the company itself given an introduction of a solution that employees actually use. The company has a meaningful competitive moat built on more than just architecture, but a rapid uptick in video usage has attracted significant investment efforts from competitors. Position within customers makes an attractive opportunity to expand into the broader UC market. Early wins encouraging. Environment post-COVID-19 and large-scale WFH, and timing to reach, less certain.”

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

Ticker Company EPS Forecast
BNZL Bunzl £71.65
FMX Fomento Economico Mexicano Sab $14.49
XRAY Dentsply International $0.64
PRGO Perrigo $1.01
TGNA Tegna $1.13
AXSM Axsome Therapeutics Inc -$0.75
EVTC Evertec $0.55
THRM Gentherm $0.65
BZLFY Bunzl plc $0.13
NRG NRG Energy $0.45
MIDD Middleby $1.40
AY Atlantica Yield $0.23
ZM Zoom Video Communications $0.79
NVAX Novavax -$1.78
TTEC TeleTech $0.71
AMRC Ameresco $0.29
IPAR Inter Parfums $0.30
NSTG NanoString Technologies -$0.50
AI Arlington Asset Investment -$0.19
CCXI ChemoCentryx -$0.33
CYRX Cryoport Inc -$0.05
SGMS Scientific Games -$0.44
DDD 3D Systems $0.09
SRPT Sarepta Therapeutics -$1.80
NGHC National General $0.73
SRNE Sorrento Therape -$0.23
JD JD.com $0.22
AIV Apartment $0.01
PKX Posco $1.52
BKRKY Bank Rakyat $0.13
OSH Oak Street Health -$0.25
YALA Yalla $0.12
KHOLY Koc Holdings AS $0.55
DM Dominion Midstream Partners -$0.06
CXO Concho Resources $1.18
MNTA Momenta Pharmaceuticals -$0.50
PE Parsley Energy $0.25
BEAT BioTelemetry $0.48

 

Tuesday (March 2)

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: TARGET

The eighth-largest retailer in the United States is expected to report a profit of $2.55 per share in the fourth quarter, which represents year-over-year growth of over 50% from $1.69 per share seen in the same quarter a year ago. In the last four consecutive quarters, on average, the company has delivered an earnings surprise of 60%.

The Minneapolis, Minnesota-based company would post year-over-year revenue growth of over 17% to $27.419 billion.

“We maintain our 4Q20 EPS estimate of $2.55 on comps +17.2%, in line with holiday sales, but could see upside on stimulus benefit in Jan. We model FY21 EPS of $8.96, +2% above Street. TGT’s ability to comp the comp will be the headline topic at its Investor Day, and management could conservatively guide FY21 comps and EPS to -LSD to -MSD,” said Oliver Chen, equity analyst at Cowen and Company.

“Fundamentally, we do believe TGT’s momentum is well-positioned to continue as consumers invest in home, appreciate TGT’s private brands, and take advantage of a myriad of convenient and innovative shopping modalities including Drive-Up; furthermore, the backdrop of stimulus payments and a high savings rate are strong positives.”

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

Ticker Company EPS Forecast
SYDB Sydbank A/S kr3.14
CRDA Croda International £84.78
TW Taylor Wimpey £17.00
WEIR Weir Group £43.79
TPK Travis Perkins £43.60
ROR Rotork £6.25
TGT Target $2.55
AZO AutoZone $12.80
KSS Kohl’s $0.99
AER AerCap $0.94
AMRS Amyris -$0.12
SE Spectra Energy -$0.55
DAR Darling Ingredients $0.38
QTRX Quanterix -$0.33
VEEV Veeva Systems $0.68
ROST Ross Stores $1.00
HPE Hewlett Packard $0.41
JWN Nordstrom $0.13
AMBA Ambarella $0.08
GO Grocery Outlet Holding Corp $0.23
URBN Urban Outfitters $0.28
BOX BOX $0.17
ALLK Allakos -$0.85
AHT Ashtead Group £0.29
EDEN Edenred €0.65
ITRK Intertek Group £83.44
IGT International Game Technology $0.04
EMG Man Group £0.07
MSNFY Minera Frisco ADR $0.03
AVAV AeroVironment $0.01
TGTX TG Therapeutics -$0.57

 

Wednesday (March 3)

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: DOLLAR TREE

Chesapeake, Virginia-based discount variety stores that sells items for $1 or less is expected to report a profit of $2.12 per share in the fiscal fourth quarter, which represents year-over-year growth of over 18% from $1.79 per share seen in the same quarter a year ago.

In the last four consecutive quarters, on average, the company has delivered an earnings surprise of over 14%.

The Fortune 500 company, which operates 15,115 stores throughout the 48 contiguous U.S. states and Canada, would post year-over-year revenue growth of over 7% to $6,774 million.

Dollar Tree’s namesake banner has a long history of strong performance, enabled by its differentiated value proposition, but its Family Dollar unit has struggled to generate top-line and margin growth since it was acquired in 2015. We suspect the Dollar Tree banner is better-positioned long-term, but do not believe the aggregated firm benefits from a durable competitive edge, as competitive pressure in a fast-changing retail environment amid minimal switching costs limits results. We expect the COVID-19 pandemic’s effects to be confined to the near term, leaving the long-term competitive dynamic intact,” said Zain Akbari, equity analyst at Morningstar.

“We expect comparable sales gains in the mid-single digits for the Dollar Tree banner and high-single-digits for Family Dollar in the fourth quarter, as rising infection rates led customers to stock up with a focus on essentials and value. Cost leverage should drive the quarter’s operating margin higher by nearly 100 basis points (to 10%) versus the same period in fiscal 2019. We expect sales to normalize in 2021as vaccines gradually contain the pandemic.”

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

Ticker Company EPS Forecast
DLTR Dollar Tree $2.12
WEN Wendy’s $0.18
TAC TransAlta USA -$0.07
PDCO Patterson Companies $0.51
DY Dycom Industries $0.04
MRVL Marvell Technology $0.29
SNOW Intrawest Resorts -$0.17
SPLK Splunk $0.03
AEO American Eagle Outfitters $0.36
SQM Sociedad Quimica Y Minera De Chile $0.22
TCOM Trip.com Group Ltd $0.28
YEXT Yext Inc. -$0.08
MTLS Materialise $0.01
CPB Campbell Soup $0.83
NAV Navistar International -$0.02
VNET 21Vianet $0.05
ABM ABM Industries $0.58

 

Thursday (March 4)

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: COSTCO WHOLESALE

The largest wholesale club operator in the U.S. is expected to report a profit of $2.44 in the fiscal second quarter, which represents year-over-year growth of over 16% from $2.10 per share seen in the same quarter a year ago.

In the last four consecutive quarters, on average, the company has delivered an earnings surprise of 8.8%.

COST’s results have consistently been among the best in Retail. Over the past decade, COST has delivered 6% comps and 10% EBIT growth on average. It is rare to find a business with COST’s solid comp/membership growth, while relative e-commerce insulation differentiates its value proposition from other retailers,” said Simeon Gutman, equity analyst at Morgan Stanley.

“We are Overweight even as the stock trades at an elevated valuation given COST’s scarcity value, safety, and scale. In the near-term, we expect incremental sales uplifts from COVID-19 disruption, and earnings power looks stronger despite COVID-19 expenses.”

TAKE A LOOK AT OUR EARNINGS CALENDAR FOR THE FULL RELEASES FOR THE MARCH 4

Ticker Company EPS Forecast
KR Kroger $0.69
TTC Toro $0.74
BJ BJs Wholesale Club Holdings Inc $0.67
BZUN Buzzi Unicem RSP $3.55
BURL Burlington Stores $2.11
CIEN Ciena $0.45
MIK Michaels Companies $1.41
JAMF Jamf $0.01
AVGO Avago Technologies $6.56
MDLA Medallia, Inc. -$0.01
GWRE Guidewire Software -$0.01
COO Cooper Companies $2.77
GPS Gap $0.19
COST Costco Wholesale $2.44
GOL Gol Linhas Aereas Inteligentes -$0.41
ALXO Alx Oncology Holdings Inc. -$0.36
AUOTY AU Optronics $0.31
TOELY Tokyo Electron Ltd PK $0.80
FIZZ National Beverage $0.33
CMD Cantel Medical Corp $0.49
PHI Philippine Long Distance Telephone $0.63
MBT Mobile TeleSystems OJSC $17.30
CNQ Canadian Natural Resource USA $0.10

 

Friday (March 5)

Ticker Company EPS Forecast
BIG Big Lots $2.50

 

Earnings to Watch Next Week: Toll Brothers, AutoZone, Campbell, Adobe and Costco Wholesale in Focus

Earnings Calendar For The Week Of December 7

Monday (December 7)

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: TOLL BROTHERS

Toll Brothers, a home construction company based in Fort Washington, is expected to report a profit of $1.23 in the fourth quarter, up from prior $0.90, with new orders growth of more than 60%  as the company benefits from rising housing demand due to record low mortgage rates. Toll Brothers’ shares closed 1.25% higher at $47.9 on Friday; the stock is up over 20% so far this year.

“Our 4Q EPS estimate goes to $1.25. Our FY21 EPS estimate goes to $4.42 given what we expect will be a very large backlog ($6.6 billion, +26% y/y) heading into the new year. As a higher-end builder constructing largely build-to-order product, we do expect closing timing and costs to construct to have somewhat less visibility than peers despite the long backlog. This means guidance will likely be more important to share price performance post-EPS release than 4Q data. As a result of our higher estimates, our target goes to $40 from $36, but for now, we still see relative underperformance for the shares in the intermediate term,” said Carl E. Reichard, equity analyst at BTIG Group.

“While Toll Brothers (TOL) is benefiting from the ‘rising tide’ of housing demand, we believe entry-level, spec-focused builders will produce better growth, margins and returns in an environment where valuation gaps have not led to differentiated stock performance. Although shares are less expensive on a relative basis (1.3x TBV vs 1.8x for the group), and TOL has been moving to smaller homes and more optioned lots to improve turns and returns, we are looking for additional evidence that the company’s strategy for structural (not just cyclical) improvement in turns and/or margins is bearing fruit, such as improved backlog-to-close cycle time (running over 300 days currently) and inventory turns nearer to the group average of 1.0x (currently running below 0.7x.).”

TAKE A LOOK AT OUR EARNINGS CALENDAR FOR THE FULL RELEASES FOR THE DECEMBER 7

Ticker Company EPS Forecast
JKS JinkoSolar Holding Co. Ltd. ADR $0.85
CASY Casey’s General Stores $2.80
HQY Healthequity Inc $0.36
SMAR Smartsheet Inc. -$0.21
SUMO Sumo -$0.24
EC Ecopetrol $0.15
GCTAY Siemens Gamesa ADR $0.01

Tuesday (December 8)

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: AUTOZONE

AutoZone, the largest retailer of aftermarket automotive parts and accessories in the United States, is expected to report a profit of $17.56 in the first quarter ended Saturday, November 21, 2020. AutoZone’s shares closed 0.75% higher at $1162.63 on Friday. However, the stock is down 2.5% so far this year.

“AutoZone (AZO) is our top pick in DIY Auto. We see it as a high-quality retailer with the ability to compound earnings/FCF growth over time. While not immune to a tougher macro backdrop (fewer miles driven), we believe AZO is best positioned through any recession given its leading exposure to the more defensive DIY segment (80% of sales),” equity analysts at Zacks Research noted.

“In addition, its DIFM growth was accelerating pre-COVID-19 and we think it can gain more share in that segment going forward. In our view, ongoing share gains coupled with solid expense management should allow AZO to overcome headwinds from less driving in the near- to medium-term.”

TAKE A LOOK AT OUR EARNINGS CALENDAR FOR THE FULL RELEASES FOR THE DECEMBER 8

Ticker Company EPS Forecast
HRB H&R Block -$0.94
CMD Cantel Medical Corp $0.37
THO Thor Industries $1.58
MDB MongoDB Inc -$0.45
GWRE Guidewire Software -$0.05
AVAV AeroVironment $0.31
JRONY Jeronimo Martins $0.45
HOCPY Hoya Corp $0.74

Wednesday (December 9)

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: CAMPBELL SOUP

Campbell Soup, a US-centric packaged food company, is expected to report a profit of $0.91 in the first quarter of fiscal year 2021, up from previous $0.63. The one of the world’s top soup maker has set its Q1 2021 pre-market guidance at $0.88-$0.92 EPS. Campbell’s shares closed 0.49% lower at $48.5 on Friday; the stock is down about 2% so far this year.

“High exposure to secularly challenged soup category: Shelf-stable soup (26.5% of sales) faces headwinds given shifts in preferences toward better-for-you and fresh foods, competition from private label, and pricing pressure. Snacking brands are well-positioned, but face competitive pressures: Milano, Goldfish, Farmhouse, and Snyder’s-Lance have strong brand equity, but face high competition from PEP and MDLZ,” said Pamela Kaufman, equity analyst at Morgan Stanley.

Significant organizational changes over last two years refocused the company and show promise: Divesting non-core businesses and new leadership refreshes the company’s strategic plan, allowing the company to focus on its key segments and geographies,” Kaufman added.

TAKE A LOOK AT OUR EARNINGS CALENDAR FOR THE FULL RELEASES FOR THE DECEMBER 9

Ticker Company EPS Forecast
VRNT Verint Systems $0.80
RH Restoration Hardware $5.23
GEF Greif $0.70
AUOTY AU Optronics $0.09

Thursday (December 10)

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: ADOBE

Adobe, one of the largest software companies, is expected to report a profit of $2.67 in the fourth quarter, up from the previous $2.57. The company has set its Q4 2020 after-hours guidance at 2.64-2.64 EPS and its Q4 guidance at $2.64 EPS.

“Adobe (ADBE) has leading market share in some of the most dynamic secular growth areas in software: creative design, dynamic media, and marketing automation. As such, we see the longer-term growth story for ADBE as better than most,” said Keith Weiss, equity analyst at Morgan Stanley.

“With a large recurring rev base and operating margin improvements expected (as margin pressure from recent acquisitions comes to an end), we expect 23% EBIT CAGR from FY19-FY21 and believe this durable growth is not fully reflected in shares. Our $560 price target is based on 49x CY21e EPS of $11.50, which implies 2.3x PEG on 21% EPS CAGR from FY19-FY21e,” Weiss added.

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: COSTCO WHOLESALE

Costco Wholesale, the largest wholesale club operator in the U.S., is expected to report a profit of $2.02 in the first quarter of the fiscal year 2021, down from the previous $3.51. D.A. Davidson equity analyst M. Baker forecasts the retailer will report earnings per share of $1.93 for the quarter, up from their previous forecast of $1.92.

“FQ1 comps bested our above-cons. est. (as reported on 12/2) with earnings set for 12/10. All-in, Q1 comps accel’d Q/Q, but November slowed, we believe primarily due to hardlines -10 pts and ticket -220 bps. However, largely cont’d strength through the qtr, notably in Fresh and Softlines, should be a positive read for core-on-core GM% and EPS. While go-fwd comps likely moderate on vaccine/normalcy, we see robust growth and share gain opptys L-T. Reiterate Buy,” noted Stephanie Wissink, equity analyst at Jefferies.

TAKE A LOOK AT OUR EARNINGS CALENDAR FOR THE FULL RELEASES FOR THE DECEMBER 10

Ticker Company EPS Forecast
CIEN Ciena $0.63
AVGO Avago Technologies $6.24
MTN Vail Resorts -$3.60
LULU Lululemon Athletica $0.86
ORCL Oracle $1.00
SMDS Ds Smith £17.80
ASEKY Aisin Seiki Co $0.42
RLAY Relay Therapeutics Inc. -$0.32
FIZZ National Beverage $0.90

Friday (December 11)

No major earnings scheduled for release.

Costco Could Hit 500 in 2021

Costco Wholesale Corp. (COST) has posted impressive growth for years, lifting into the 39th slot in SP-500 index capitalization. The big box retailer sharply increased market share in the first quarter, staying open as an essential services provider while many rivals were forced to close or curtail operations. That benefit has underpinned sales throughout 2020, generating a series of all-time highs. It currently boasts a 31% year-to-date return after booking a 44% return in 2019.

Costco Looks Ahead To 2021

The stock posted an all-time high at the start of Tuesday’s U.S. session and pulled back, highlighting mixed sentiment about COVID-19 beneficiaries while Pfizer Inc. (PFE) and Moderna Inc. (MRNA) load vaccines into refrigerated containers for distribution around the world. However, mega-retailers will benefit from the pandemic far longer than the majority of smaller companies that attracted intense interest in the second and third quarters.

Telsey Advisory Group analyst Joseph Feldman raised his price target to $430 on Tuesday, maintaining an ‘Outperform’ rating. He pounded the table in his commentary, stating “we forecast a total comp of 12.5% vs. 5.3% last year. Excluding a projected net gas and FX headwind of about 150 bps, we estimate a core merchandise comp of 14.0% vs. 4.8% last year, with a US comp, ex-gas, of 14.0% vs. 4.3% last year. Overall, we expect another strong monthly sales report, highlighting high member loyalty, the focus on value, and improvement in digital.”

Wall Street And Technical Outlook

Wall Street consensus has been solid as a rock for years, with the current ‘Strong Buy’ rating computed from 17 ‘Buy’ and 5 ‘Hold’ recommendations. No analysts are recommending that shareholders close positions, even though price has nearly doubled in the last two years.  Price targets now range from a low of $310 to a Street-high $435 while the stock opened Monday’s U.S. session about $4 above the median $386 target.

Costco has posted a nearly endless string of higher highs and higher lows since 2009, making it one of the SP-500’s top long-term performers. High volatility hit the uptrend in February 2020 when debate first erupted about potential COVID beneficiaries. It carved a broad triangle pattern into June and broke out, adding more than 100 points into October. The stock is now attempting to break resistance at that level and mount 400 for the first time.

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

Disclosure: the author held no positions in aforementioned securities at the time of publication.