What Earnings Reports Are Telling Us

Includes: BA, CMCSA, MTW, NSC
by: Wall Street Strategies

By Charles Payne

We can call it a wash, but Tuesday was setup to be a monster session. Once again, I marvel at how dismal consumers are, even as it would seem those that survived the jobs meltdown would have an air of confidence.

Regular people have a sixth sense about things like the jobs market, much like animals seem to vanish long before major storms and tsunamis hit. The thing is, people felt better about jobs, and yet they are really crestfallen about the next six months.

It's a malaise that has gotten a hold of all elements of society. It can't be cured with unlimited unemployment checks. It can't be cured with politics of envy, such as telling people they are being ripped off by the guy down the street with two auto body repair shops or by the woman that began doing nails out of her apartment and now owns three salons. It's all so ass-backwards.

The malaise can't be cured with finger pointing. It's disheartening, and it's a drag. It's my greatest concern. I wrote years ago that fear and self-loathing are the biggest enemies of America. Khrushchev once suggested (before he was dragged out of his bed and shot in the face by the KGB) that the USSR would defeat the USA without firing a shot. He was saying America would implode.

Ironically, as a Marxist, I'm sure he thought it would be some kind of greed overflow from capitalist excess (see Rome) and not because the nation was being pried away from its grip on free markets, innovation, and determination by an administration in love with ideas that have never existed in reality.

When one considers that the administration will campaign this fall on a record of extending unemployment benefits without paying for them, it says it all. Two years in and we should be cheering more private sector job creation, fewer people on food stamps, and greater hope about the future.

Business Way

Much has been made about how corporate profits prove that the administration's policies are working. The fact is, corporations acted fast, making desperate moves and hunkered down. It's the way people survive. (Stealing from others is a way to survive, too, but it stops others from trying to become a success ... if the reward is getting jacked.)

Last night, a couple of companies posted earnings results that speak to survival. These companies slimmed down, reduced capacity, and have been toughing it out, and now there is light at the end of the tunnel, or if only the country doesn't fall victim to the notion of victimization.

While we wait for the domestic malaise to work itself out, our largest companies are being helped by the rest of the world. After watching America for two centuries, those other nations are eating up what we had and still have, even if we have to hide it.

  • Norfolk Southern (NYSE:NSC)

NSC posted earnings of $1.04 per share from $0.66 per share a year ago, beating consensus of $0.99 per share. Revenue rose 31% to $2.43 billion, again besting the Street which was looking for $2.40 billion.

(Click to enlarge)

Revenue for the railroad, which covers the North and South with a main thoroughfare from Kansas to Dallas, is up sequentially four quarters in a row.

  1. Revenue per Employee: $87,200 from $66,400 YOY
  2. Coal Exports: +170%
  3. Coal Domestic Metallurgical: +121%

The company has hired back almost all workers laid off during the recession, and is hiring in hot business segments (thank you China). Moreover, while there are still 8,000 railcars in mothballs it's much better than the 35,000 pulled at the height of adjustment. Management says "traffic levels remain strong," so they hiked the divide by 6% and increased the authorized share buyback another $50.0 million between now and 2014.

Oh ... the stock was down in the aftermarket.

  • Manitowoc (NYSE:MTW)

MTW posted earnings of $0.12 per share; the Street was looking for $0.06 per share in large part to emerging markets.

  1. Food Service Revenue: $424.9 million from $382.5 million; margin 13.4% from 12.1%
  2. Crane Revenue: $38.6 million down from $49.5 million; margin 8.6% from 7.6%
  3. Crane Backlog: $531.0 million, -13.4% QOQ, as North America and Europe were weak
  • Boeing (NYSE:BA)

BA reported mixed results this morning. Revenue of $15.57 billion missed consensus of $16.13 billion but earnings of $1.06 per share bested the Street's guess of $1.01 per share. The 747-8 and 787 will probably not be delivered this year as promised. The Street wasn't as unnerved by the top line miss and plane delay as it was from the fact the company couldn't raise guidance.

CMCSA beat estimates on the top and bottom line with revenue of $9.53 billion and earnings of $0.33 per share. The Street was looking for $9.3 billion and $0.32 per share, respectively.

Disclosure: No positions

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