The Democrats are sticking to their guns and creating infighting within the Republican Party with leadership in the House beginning to flex muscle in order to get members to fall in line with whatever deal they are able to reach. This indicates to us that a deal is not necessarily close, but the Republicans are preparing to give the country what it needs once they get a deal which they can sell to enough of their members to get passed in the all important House and to a lesser extent in the Senate.
For those readers not in the US and familiar with our government, the President is obviously on board with his plan and the Senate is controlled by his party which would need a very small number of Republicans in order to avoid a filibuster to block any deal which leaves the Republican held House where you need to get quite a few 'line jumpers' to get this not only passed by the entire House but also via committee.
With the far right Tea Partiers calling out the Republican leadership we suspect this will only get uglier before it gets better. However, a deal will get done before year end.
We have economic news due out today, and it is as follows:
MBA Mortgage Index - N/A
ADP Employment Change - 125k
Productivity - Rev. - 2.7%
Unit Labor Costs - Rev. - (0.8%)
Factory Orders - (0.1%)
ISM Services - 53.7
Crude Inventories - N/A
Asian markets finished higher today:
All Ordinaries - up 0.36%
Shanghai Composite - up 2.87%
Nikkei 225 - up 0.39%
NZSE 50 - down 0.21%
Seoul Composite - up 0.61%
In Europe markets are higher this morning:
CAC 40 - up 0.30%
DAX - up 0.27%
FTSE 100 - up 0.28%
OSE - up 0.42%
It is no secret that Pandora (P) has not been one of our favorite names in the technology sector as we think that their business is easily duplicated and quickly getting crowded. With the likes of Apple (AAPL) and others setting up shop, it appears that this high volume, low margin business is only going to get tougher. This was only highlighted by yesterday's earnings announcement and 4th quarter guidance provided by the company.
Yesterday shares rose $0.49 (5.47%) to close at $9.45/share in anticipation of the company's earnings only to fall $1.70 (17.99%) in extended hours trading after the company lowered guidance and blamed the fiscal cliff for the issues. It is hard to buy that excuse, rather we would blame tougher competition and the impending Apple launch.
One tech name which continues to rally is OCZ Technology Group (OCZ), a name we own for the retirement portfolio. The stock rose $0.17 (9.55%) yesterday to close at $1.95/share on volume of 5.1 million shares. The company has made some good news since the previous CEO left the company and focusing on higher margin products while dropping the lower margin product lines should pay off handsomely in the near future. Although the stock has been on fire lately, it is nowhere close to the levels where many entered their positions, us included. Once the company can get its financials out it will have removed another barrier to moving shares back to the level they were previously at.
Darden Restaurants (DRI) is another name investors can add to the list of companies reporting nonsense reasons for lowered guidance. Management got real creative on this one, stating that their earnings would be reduced as they plan to cut back on employees working 30 hrs or more as they try to shift more to part-time employment so they do not have to buy them health insurance as mandated by Obamacare. Management said they were afraid of negative publicity for doing so which would have a negative impact upon the company. Sounds like a perfect storm, but our advice to the company is simply to get customers through the door and the rest will take care of itself.
Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (GMCR) saw shares rise further yesterday as the stock closed at $40.78/share having risen $2.97 (7.86%) during the session. Volume remains strong at 9.7 million shares as the short squeeze continues. The performance here has done a total 180 degree turn from not too long ago, but for long-term investors looking to enter a position we would warn that this is a dangerous situation to walk into. After such a dramatic rise based off of shorts covering, the shares have over corrected by going to overbought from oversold. If one must enter a position here, we would recommending holding off until there is a significant pullback which would provide a safer entry point.
The price action surrounding Gap, Inc. (GPS) really has us scratching our head. The company earned the valuation they were recently trading at by reporting solid top and bottom line growth while increasing sales when others in the sector were stumbling, and now it is Gap which is stumbling (at least from a stock price action standpoint). Volume spiked to an abnormally high 37.8 million shares in yesterday's session as shares fell $3.57 (10.34%) to close at $30.94/share after the company stated that they would not be paying a special dividend.
After that announcement all of the bears came out and the story quickly shifted from no special dividend to how the company was going to have difficulty meeting sales expectations moving forward due to their results over the past year not being disappointing. We even saw some "analysts" begin to position themselves in the camp which thought Gap was overpriced and that they saw this move coming. To that we say whatever. Pay attention to the results from holiday sales, and not the noise of Wall Street.