Here are the seven stories to watch this morning to move the market:
1. Shares of Green Mountain Coffee soar on earnings results. Green Mountain (GMCR) After a strong report in after-hours, GMCR saw shares soar over 20% in extended trading. The company's Q4 earnings blew past estimates as the company announced 0.64 EPS along with revenue at $947M. Those numbers beat estimates laid out for the company of 0.48 EPS and $904M in revenue. The company benefited from a 45% increase in sales of brewers and 59% increase in K-Cup sales, and it appears that the company's new lineup of brewers is helping. GMCR results were very solid and unexpected. We could see some strength off these earnings, especially in companies associated with GMCR like Starbucks (SBUX) and Dunkin' Donuts (DNKN). After over a year of seeing its shares under fire due to earnings' concerns, this report may be the type of news to get shares back on track.
2. Warren Buffett does not believe the fiscal cliff will be solved in time. The "Oracle of Omaha" commented on CNBC that he was expecting a fiscal cliff deal to get done, but he did not believe it would be completed by the December 31st deadline. Further, the soothsayer commented that tax rates should start at $500K and believes the deal should not be discussed in the public eye as it affects the stock market too greatly. Many investors follow Buffett, and his comments are usually fairly insightful. We could see investors positioning themselves accordingly by liquidating positions more strongly as we near the deadline. The news, for today, is helping to stir some fiscal fear.
3. Costco issues special dividend to beat paying taxes. Costco (COST) announced this morning that they were issuing a special dividend of $7 to beat the fiscal cliff, which will likely cause investors to pay higher taxes on dividend payments. The company announced a very strong payment as the company has a strong balance sheet and access to capital. COST is furthering the market's fears of fiscal cliff as the company is another to issue this special dividend due to fiscal cliff issues. Las Vegas Sands (LVS) and other casino operators were some of the first to issue these dividends. The stock is on the move today, and we could see more action like that moving forward. Investors may look to move into stocks with large levels of FCF that can issue these types of dividends. Overall, though, the special dividend is a small win created by a detrimental situation.
4. American Eagle beats the Street. AE (AEO) issued a very strong earnings report, beating expectations and raising FY guidance for the second time this year. The company saw revenues come in at $910M along with EPS at 0.39. Expectations were for $875M in revenue and EPS at 0.39. The key to the report, however, was most likely the raise in guidance for the FY. The company bumped estimates to 1.38-1.40 EPS from 1.33-1.36. The Street had estimates at 1.37. AEO is moving well on the news, and we believe the news should be helpful to other teen retailers like Abercrombie and Fitch (ANF) and Aeropostale (ARO). Its the second upgrade of the year for AEO, and it may signal that this stock is back after some rough years in 2008-2010. Additionally, with strength in ANF as well, it could signal spending trends continue to be very positive for teen retail as a whole.
5. SAC Capital receives Wells notice. The SEC issued a Wells Notice to the hedge-fund giant that manages $14B. The notice tends to signal that future insider trading allegations could be on the way. Hedge fund manager Steve Cohen has tried to reassure investors that the company did not do anything wrong, but this notice comes in the wake of former SAC Capital portfolio manager Matthew Martoma being accused of insider trading. SAC is not publicly traded, but stories like this continue to create fear for retail investors.
6. EPA denies BP. The EPA has announced that they have suspended BP (BP) from any new federal contracts within the USA due to the company's conduct with oil spills. The company pled guilty on Nov. 15 to felony charges based on the oil spill, and the EPA has temporarily suspended their ability to bid on new contracts. The EPA has questioned BP's business integrity, and there was no comment on when the suspension would be lifted. For BP, this is bad news. The company bases 30% of their workforce in the USA with 250,000 jobs, and if the company cannot create new oil fields in the USA, it could mean job loss. The stock will suffer, and as a result, Transocean (RIG) may also see itself losing value as they were also connected to the Gulf of Mexico incident in 2010. Investors should be wary of this as it could mean limited growth for the company, and ExxonMobil (XOM) and other energy companies in the USA will see less competition for bids.
7. Blankfein takes a trip to Washington. Goldman Sachs (GS) CEO Lloyd Blankfein will take a trip to Washington, D.C. to meet with President Barack Obama and other CEOs of major corporations to discuss cutting spending and raising revenue to avert a fiscal cliff. Blankfein will join 13 other CEOs, but Blankfein plays a special role as he is on the leadership committee for the Campaign to Cut the Debt. The meeting, alone, may not make a lot of headway, but we expect that Blankfein and others should give much needed perspectives from the corporate world.