Today should be an interesting day for economic news as we have a lot coming out which could change the direction of the market on a dime. We have jobs data, CPI and manufacturing numbers due. It has been a pretty awful November thus far, but with a month and a half to go there is still time for a general market rally on the heels of a deal on the fiscal cliff in Washington, D.C. Each passing day we grow less confident in our expected year-end rally, but so long as both sides are at the negotiating table in good faith we have hope.
We have economic news due out today and it is as follows:
Initial Claims - 388k
Continuing Claims - 3120k
CPI - 0.1%
Core CPI - 0.1%
Empire Manufacturing - -8.5%
Philadelphia Fed - 0.0
Crude Inventories - N/A
Asian markets finished lower for the most part:
All Ordinaries - down 0.91%
Shanghai Composite - down 1.22%
Nikkei 225 - up 1.90%
NZSE 50 - CLOSED
Seoul Composite - down 1.23%
In Europe markets are lower this morning:
CAC 40 - down 0.31%
DAX - down 0.48%
FTSE 100 - down 0.38%
OSE - down 0.25%
We were caught off guard yesterday by the news that Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF) saw strong sales after the company worked on refreshing themselves. We have been turned off by the company's past results and figured that it would take at a minimum one fashion season, if not two, in order to begin to right the ship. That view was obviously far too pessimistic as it appears that management has done a wonderful job getting their clientele passionate about the brand once again. It was not only this quarter which was good, but the guidance given out for the upcoming quarter as well. We look forward to seeing how the company's new fashion designs featuring less of the various logos plays out going forward and whether the company can replicate rivals' business models and rapidly introduce various lines per season. Shares in Abercrombie finished the day at $41.92/share after rising by $10.74 (34.45%) on volume of 35.3 million shares.
We believe in great brand names with hard to replicate businesses when it comes to the retail space. Couple that with a company which is delivering on their quarterly results and you have a stock we would find hard not to recommend. Such is the case with Starbucks (SBUX) which has seen its shares once again fall below $50/share, and with shares now at $48.84/share we think this is a name that one buys on the dip here. The company continues to methodically grow the US business while simultaneously growing international stores in Germany, Asia and India while delivering strong growth to investors. This is a true retail blue chip company and the dividend is a nice little kicker to pay you to sit around in the shares. We can see a scenario where shares end the year at or above $60/share assuming first and foremost that we are able to resolve the fiscal cliff.
Yesterday saw shares in Facebook (FB) rally $2.50 (12.59%) to close at $22.36/share as volume spiked to 229.8 million shares. The largest lock-up expired yesterday and shares performed strongly in spite of that. It is counterintuitive and goes against what the market had been expecting which indicates to us that the market, ourselves included, were overly bearish here. Obviously Facebook employees still see upside in the shares and are not planning on flooding the market assuming that yesterday was an indication of their attitudes moving forward. It was a real strong move when one considers what was taking place in the rest of the market yesterday.
Outside of Facebook, most social media sites or players are having a rough go of it these days with a good example being Pandora (P) which is constantly under attack from new services launching with essentially are Pandora clones. With even bigger fish set to move into their territory the shares have been trending lower and yesterday hit a new all-time low. That is not saying a whole lot when one considers that the company has been public for a short-time, but does shed some light on investors' perception of their current and future presence in the streaming radio business. We personally think that the company will see users gravitate towards new services tied to device makers or the premium services, but we also recognize that the process for that to happen will take some time. With shares at $7.31/share after falling $0.35 (4.57%) yesterday we would be selling what we could here and redeploying capital to other names in the sector - and not necessarily pure plays either.
Where investors have been feeling the pain at Pandora, it has to be a state of euphoria at Yahoo (YHOO) where shares set a new 52-week high yesterday before backing off and finishing the day marginally lower. The turnover story appears to be underway at the company and if the new CEO can figure out a way to monetize their large online audience and rich content offerings while also driving bottom line growth then shares could certainly head even higher. We have been waiting for someone to come around and shrink the workforce while simultaneously making it more productive, and that is exactly what is taking place right now. Look for the company to continue their strategy of partnering their market leading websites with other media companies' brands outside of the internet (such as their finance pact with CNBC and the news pact with ABC News).