Although the equity markets overall are still soaring to new heights, there are concerns that it all will come to an abrupt end. Essentially, investors fear that the market will "sell off in June and not come back soon." While there are indeed basis to be cautious, there are equal amounts of reason for more optimism. Corporate profits are looking better and the Fed is debating as to whether or not more stimulus is needed. This very fact alone suggests that things are getting better. As such, this shortened Memorial Day trading week should bring plenty of fireworks to a few companies.
Sirius XM (SIRI) - Will close at $3.60+ this week
I'm going to lead off with Sirius XM. Since the clock tuned on 2013, this company has seen sparks fly every week leading to this point. Shares are up close to 25% on the year and with the recent close of $3.58, the stock is at five-year highs. Remarkably, each time the market has asked "can things get any better" Sirius XM has answered. But skeptics are still asking this question.
This time, it's Rick Munarriz, longtime contributor to the Motley Fool, who predicted that Sirius XM will close down this week. First let me say that Munarriz has been a strong supporter of Sirius for many years - he's predicted the stock's rise ever since shares traded under $1.00. So, I'm not suggesting that he's bearish Sirius. In fact, I don't think there's been another writer that understands Sirius better than Rick.
That said, while Rick is citing the premium radio market and how it's become overcrowded as cause for a near-term pullback in the stock, I think shares of Sirius will close up this week. The big news last week was Pandora's better-than-expected earnings, which prompted the Street to wonder if Sirius XM will feel some pressure.
While Pandora did show some impressive numbers, including surging to 2.5 million subscribers, I don't believe that this impacts Sirius, which still has 20 million self-pay subscribers out of its 24.4 million. The market has to understand the difference. What's more, Sirius' operating cash flow, which serves as its key to debt reduction and stock buyback has soared 322% to $170 million, while the industry average cash-flow growth rate is -3.04%. The market is realizing this error each quarter and has no choice but to correct its mistake with a higher share price.
Nokia (NOK) - Will close below $3.55 this week
Ever since reaching $3.92 on May 13, shares of beleaguered phone giant Nokia has been on the decline - falling as much as 10% to $3.51 last Thursday. Year-to-date the stock is down 8% and there are no catalyst for an upward movement. Accordingly, I expect the stock to trend lower. Last week, fellow Seeking Alpha contributor Dana Blankenhorn brought up an excellent point regarding Nokia's recent activities - suggesting that Nokia wants to be bought. Blankenhorn said:
The Windows Phone Elop is depending on to save his job is the Lumia line, which sold 5.6 million units in the first quarter. This sounds great, until you realize that one-third of those sales aren't on Windows 8, and that the total market was 426 million units, according to Gartner. In other words, Windows is getting 1% of the mobile market.
This is the same point that I've been raising over the past several weeks. How can Nokia get out of its death spiral if the very operating system that it is betting on can't gain any meaningful traction? In fact, given that Nokia just posted 20% decline in revenue, due (in part) to weak Windows Mobile adoption, I think it's time for the company to consider a different mobile strategy. I appreciate that severing ties with Microsoft is not as easy as it sounds.
However, we have exceeded the point where investors should demand more latitude from management, especially since Nokia's Lumia platform, which is still performing well, is being sucked in to a 32% decline in the devices business. Nokia's relationship with Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) has been a failure - it's time to clear the air if there were ever any doubt.
It's also time for Nokia to adopt Android and draw the same benefit that Samsung (OTC:SSNHY) enjoys. This is the only way for the company to launch any sort of attack against Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY), which has now seen a resurgence. If Nokia investors have anything to be excited about, it's the likelihood that the stock has already reached bottom. But don't discount the fact that the stock may have already reached its ceiling.
Cisco (CSCO) - Will close above $24 this week
Upon completing its ninth consecutive earnings beat, Cisco is once again looking more like the company that dominated the 90s and could do no wrong. Still, the company is not without its share of detractors. Nevertheless, if Cisco's third quarter serves as an indication, patient investors will continue to be rewarded with more gains.
The network giant just completed its ninth consecutive earnings beat. Essentially even though macro concerns remain regarding weak enterprise IT spending and the company's significant European exposure, Cisco's technology remains in high demand. More impressive was Cisco's strong performance in gross margin, which was steady at just 20 basis points below its levels in the year-ago quarter.
While the slight decline would ordinarily raise a red flag, I don't believe there's anything to be concerned here, especially when Cisco's cash now stands at more than $47 billion. Investors have to be pleased with the progress that the company is making, while also appreciating that there is still a lot of work left to be done. During the conference call, I also got the sense that Cisco was open to the idea of reinvesting its capital to make more acquisitions.
The company realizes that it needs to break new ground, and bring in assets to help drive growth higher for the next 5 to 10 years. In that regard, when applying a modest 5 to 6% FCF growth above 2012 levels, it supports a fair market value that is well above $30. In the near-term, I expect the stock to continue its momentum and a close above $24 would be a positive sign. At minimum, the stock is already significantly undervalued.
BlackBerry - Will close above $15 this week
Shares of BlackBerry closed down last week to $14.48 after a recent Barron's article cited the company's declining service business as reason for bearishness. I disagree. Alexander Peterc, analyst at Exane BNP Paribas was concerned that BlackBerry's recent earnings results revealed a 12% year-over-year drop in BlackBerry's service business from $1.1 billion in Q4 2012.
While services has been BlackBerry's most profitable business, I don't think the recently decline hurts the company's long-term prospects. Management has shown that it is ready for what's ahead. Fellow Seeking Alpha contributor George Kesarios pointed to potential catalyst for the company's BBM Money assets that can generate considerable amounts of cash for BlackBerry and its shareholders. Kesarios said:
"BBM Money gives BlackBerry Messenger customers the ability to instantly create and access a Mobile Money account from their BlackBerry smartphone and make real-time payments to BBM contacts who are also signed up to the service. The service also enables users to buy mobile airtime credit and transfer money to bank accounts."
I have to agree. This certainly contradicts the Barron's article. While BlackBerry is certainly being judged on the merits of its Z10 and Q10 phones, the Street is still discounting the company's ability to monetize other aspects of its business. To that end, I think Blackberry's current state would make the company a tremendous acquisition target for a company like Dell.
With BlackBerry in the mix, Dell will be able to leverage the things that both companies already do well. Not to mention, BlackBerry also has an impressive Mobile Fusion enterprise service that can support other phone platforms, including Apple and Samsung/Android. Meanwhile, with BlackBerry's strong cash flow growth and better-than-expected device sales, this stock will continue to rise organically. I expect that shares will close above $15 this week.
Microsoft - Will close below $34 this week
The big news last week was the release of Microsoft's new video game console, the Xbox One. Some are calling it revolutionary. While the early reviews on the device have glowing, I was more impressed with what it did for Microsoft's stock, which closed above $35 last Monday. This was the first time that Microsoft has accomplished this since December 2007. The question is, can the stock do it again?
Although the interest in the Xbox One will serve as a strong near-term catalyst, I haven't been as impressed with Microsoft's other businesses. Although CEO Steve Ballmer recently lauded the company's "bold bets" on cloud services like Office 365, Xbox Live and Skype, there was no evidence to suggest that Microsoft is stealing market share in the areas that matter the most.
What's more, Microsoft's business is still heavily predicated on a dying PC environment. The good news is that the company is still raking in plenty of cash, including a 19% jump in profits in the third quarter. Unfortunately, Microsoft does not have a history of effectively deploying that capital to produce growth.
While Microsoft has been making some strides and has improved in some key areas such as the cloud, the pace of the company's progress has not enough to offset fears about its leverage. The fact that a significant portion of its profits come from Windows and Office is a concern. And unfortunately, the software-as-a-service market is beginning to squeeze the importance of those franchises.
Without question Microsoft is indeed still very valuable. That said, it's no secret that the Street would love the company more if it were under new management. And even the Xbox One is an exciting new addition to Microsoft, that business does not bring in enough revenue to drive the stock forward. Accordingly, I expect shares to take a slight dip this week after last week's euphoria vanishes.