Weekly Issue: Amid Impeachment Noise, Adding V Shares to Select List

Weekly Issue: Amid Impeachment Noise, Adding V Shares to Select List

Key points inside this issue

  • We are adding shares of Visa (V) to the Tematica Select List with a $200 price target as part of our Digital Lifestyle investing theme. 
  • We are adding to Living the Life Thematic Leader Farfetch Ltd. (FTCH) at current levels; our price target remains $16
  • We remain bullish on shares of Thematic King Amazon (AMZN) heading into the holiday season, and subscribers that are underweight AMZN should be buyers at current levels. Our price target remains $2,250.

Visa: Where we want to be for more than just the holidays

We are using the recent pullback in Visa (V) shares to add them to the Tematica Select List as part of our Digital Lifestyle investing theme given the accelerating shift to digital commerce as well as the movement away from cash and check usage.

While most tend to think of online and mobile shopping when it comes to digital commerce, we also are seeing increases in online grocery, ridesharing and ride services, digital forms of payment for metros and subways, and other changes in spending that require a debit or credit card. And while this may come as a surprise to some, roughly $17 trillion of payments were conducted in cash and by check in 2018.

To me, that means there is ample room for growth ahead and transaction share gains ahead to be had. Unlike American Express (AXP), Visa also stands to be an indirect beneficiary from consumers looking to stretch their spending dollars by shifting their payments to credit from debit or charge cards that must be paid in full. In other words, our Middle Class Squeeze investing theme. Also unlike banks such as Bank of America (BAC)Wells Fargo (WFC) and other credit card issuers, Visa is paid for each transaction and is far less susceptible by rising credit card delinquencies. Moreover, if consumers shift to debit cards, those transactions still have to be processed over a payment network.

Visa’s global scale and reach are made possible by a network of more than 15,900 financial institution clients that issue Visa-branded products. During fiscal 2018, Visa’s total payments and cash volume grew to $11.2 trillion and more than 3.3 billion cards were available worldwide to be used at nearly 54 million business and merchant locations that span over 160 currencies. For that entire fiscal year, Visa processed 124.3 billion transactions, and through the first half of 2019 those transaction volumes are up more than 11% as its install base of cards has continued to grow. As that install base grows and more physical card swipes, chip insertions and online or mobile ordering take place, Visa’s processing volumes grow.

With operating margins of more than 60%, Visa’s incremental margins on each transaction are significant. This has allowed the company to drive robust earnings growth and cash flow, all while continuing to invest in its payment network and layer on security in today’s increasingly cyber-conscious world. That cash flow has also allowed Visa to increase its quarterly dividend to the current $0.25 per share, up from $0.14 per share in late 2015, as well as fund its share repurchase program. Visa has been an active repurchase of its shares, scooping up almost 44 million shares valued at $6.5 billion. That compares to $8.7 billion in cash generated from operations over the same period. Exiting the June 2019 quarter Visa still had $6.2 billion under its current buyback authorization and $8.8 billion in cash and equivalents on its balance sheet.

And let’s not forget about holiday shopping…

While there is an ongoing shift toward non-cash, non-check transactions, there is also the seasonal nature of shopping and consumer spending that tends to rise during the year-end holidays. More transaction volume means more revenue, profits and cash flow for Visa during this time period. To that, we can add the steady year-over-year climb in online and mobile shopping as it has continued to take wallet share during the holiday shopping season. And yes, it is expected to happen once again this year. According to a new online survey from The Harris Poll and ad exchange network OpenX, shoppers are not only expected to spend more year over year but spend more digitally. Per the survey’s findings consumer expect to increase their holiday shopping by 5% more this year with 53% of their holiday shopping to be done digitally. 

These transactional shifts in how consumers around the globe are spending have enabled Visa to grow its earnings on a steady basis. Even during the financial crisis, Visa continued to grow its revenues, which in our view is evidence of the power behind those structural shifts. Over the last several years, Visa has been growing its annual EPS at a double-digit clip, with prospects for that rate to continue this year and next. By applying a price-to-earnings-to-growth (PEG) multiple of 2.0 to expected EPS growth of 16% in the coming year, where the consensus EPS forecast is $6.27 for 2020, we derive our $200 price target. That offers roughly X% upside from current levels. My recommendation would be to add to the shares at better prices, but even so, we’ll get started on this as the consumer get ready to begin shopping for not only the approaching year-end holiday season but also Halloween and Thanksgiving as well. 

  • We are adding shares of Visa (V) to the Tematica Select List with a $200 price target as part of our Digital Lifestyle investing theme. 

Adding to Living the Life Thematic Leader Farfetch Ltd. shares

Since we added shares of Farfetch Ltd. (FTCH) to the Thematic Leader board for out Living the Life investment theme, the shares have come under pressure and have entered oversold territory.

This likely has to do with the financing for Farfetch’s New Guard acquisition that will tally $675 million and be equally between cash and stock. We’ll take it as an opportunity to improve our cost basis as we get ready to move into the year-end shopping season, which as noted above will rise nicely year over year and favor digital platforms like Thematic King Amazon (AMZN) and Farfetch. 

  • We are adding to Living the Life Thematic Leader Farfetch Ltd. (FTCH) at current levels; our price target remains $16
  • We remain bullish on shares of Thematic King Amazon (AMZN) heading into the holiday season, and subscribers that are underweight AMZN should be buyers at current levels. Our price target remains $2,250.

 

Consumer Finances Getting Stretched

Consumer Finances Getting Stretched

The recent economic data coupled with what we are hearing this earnings season paint a picture of consumer finances getting seriously stretched.

Yesterday we learned that personal income growth stalled out in June, unchanged from May. The 3-month moving average shows slowing in income growth.

With the decline in income, we have also seen consumers spending less, although still at relatively strong levels, stronger than income growth would suggest.

Without incremental income to support spending, consumers have reduced their savings rate well below historical norms.

But the story doesn’t end here. While the mainstream financial media keeps telling us how great the consumer is doing, ignore the prior charts (cough, cough), we are seeing loan loss provisions on the rise. The average charge-off rate for large U.S. card issuers increased to 3.3 percent in the second quarter, the highest level in four years and the fifth consecutive quarter of year-over-year increases. All nine of the largest issuers: JPMorgan Chase (JPM), Citigroup (C), Capital One Financial (COF), Discover (DFS), U.S. Bank (USB), Wells Fargo (WFC), Bank of America (BAC), Synchrony Financial (SYF) and American Express (AXP) experienced increases for the quarter.

Capital One Financial beat expectations for both revenue and earnings but increased its charge off rate to 5.11 percent from 4.07 percent in the same quarter last year. The company elected to not provide guidance for anticipated defaults for the coming year.

Synchrony Financial, the largest store credit card issuers in the U.S., reported second-quarter earnings that beat Wall Street estimates largely due to consumers taking on more debt. Despite a strong showing last quarter, loan losses continued to worsen and were a big topic during the earnings call. The company’s net charge-off rate rose to 5.42 percent from 4.51 percent the prior year. Provision for loan losses in the second quarter rose 30 percent over the prior year.

American express saw loan loss provisions growth 26 percent year-over-year.

Bottom Line: Spending can only grow by earning more or borrowing more. With the savings rate in decline and default rates on the rise while income growth continues to weaken, we are seeing additional evidence that we are in the later stages of the business cycle.

 

A Wait-and-See Approach as Trump Inauguration and Earnings Cocktail Unfolds

A Wait-and-See Approach as Trump Inauguration and Earnings Cocktail Unfolds

DOWNLOAD THIS WEEK’S ISSUE
The full content of Tematica Investing is below; however downloading the full issue provides detailed performance tables and charts.Click here to download.

As you sit down and digest this latest issue of Tematica Investing, you’ll notice it’s a tad shorter than the usual 6-10 pages that we fill to the brim. On the one hand, we’re inclined to say “you’re welcome,” but the reality is with the market rangebound over the last 20 plus days, the presidential inauguration about to take-over the news cycle, the velocity of earnings reports about to pick up, and Eurozone drama likely to re-emerge in the coming days, we’ve opted to see how things unfold over the next several days before making any new moves with the Tematica Select List.

That said, the thematic tailwinds are still blowing for a number of our positions with a “Buy” rating, including: Facebook (FB), Nuance Technologies (NUAN), McCormick & Co. (MKC), Dycom Industries (DY), Universal Display (OLED), CalAmp Corp. (CAMP), United Natural Foods (UNFI), Starbucks (SBUX) and International Flavors & Fragrances (IFF).

With the market move over the last several weeks, we’d recommend subscribers continue to hold their positions in AT&T (T), Costco Wholesale (COST), Disney (DIS), Alphabet (GOOGL) and Amazon (AMZN), but wait for a pullback before adding any more capital to those positions. For new subscribers that means we’d recommend you watch from the sidelines for now on those positions.

 

Is the Trump Rally Over as Investors Keep the Markets Range Bound Since the New Year?

Since last week’s Tematica Investing, we’ve seen the overall stock market little changed, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average down slightly, the S&P 500 essentially flat and the Nasdaq Composite Index up a tick.

range-bound index

We’ve had a number of favorable moves on the Tematica Select List, with Facebook (FB) climbing more than 2 percent and Amazon (AMZN) up more than 1.5 percent with favorable moves in International Flavors & Fragrances (IFF), AT&T (T), Costco Wholesale (COST) and Universal Display (OLED) were had. Several Tematica Select List positions moved relative sideways during the week, like Alphabet (GOOGL) and Nuance Communications (NUAN), but we see that as treading water ahead of the earnings report deluge.

As the market braces for the deluge of fourth quarter earnings announcements, we continue to find confirming data for our active positions. Case in point, reports that smartphone vendors are concerned Apple (AAPL) could “monopolize OLED supply capacity for this year’s iPhone 8,” and are looking to secure organic light emitting diode capacity fits with our thesis and bodes well for our Universal Display (OLED) shares.

Another, even though we just added Disruptive Technology theme company Nuance Communications (NUAN) to the Tematica Select List last week, we continue to hear about new voice-enabled applications like the one from Adobe Systems (ADBE) called “intelligent digital assistant photo editing” that is more simply put a voice-controlled photo editor. We have to admit, we are rather excited for that one assuming it helps reduce the trial and error effort to touch up photos and get rid of all those red eyes.

As we mentioned above, we are preparing to drink from a firehose-like deluge of earnings announcements this week and the next few. As evidenced by what we’ve seen thus far from JPMorgan Chase (JPM), Bank of America (BAC), PNC Bank (PNC), United Continental (UAL), WD40 (WDFC), CSX (CSX) and Gigamon (GIMO) it’s going to be a rather mixed bag of reports over the coming weeks. Once again we’re seeing earnings misses relative to expectations lead to falling stock prices. Not a bad thing considering how far and how fast the stock market has jumped since early November, especially if you’ve been a prudent investor like we have been these past several weeks. During that time we added Rise & Fall of the Middle Class McCormick & Co. (MKC), Facebook (FB) as our latest Connected Society play and last week Nuance Communications (NUAN) given its disruptive voice technology.

While we could point out that all three have moved nicely higher, especially Facebook, which certainly has us feeling pretty good, it’s the opportunity to circle back to the ones that got away that has us rather excited this earnings season. It’s not that we want bad news, but rather the opportunity to buy well positioned, thematically driven businesses at better prices. That’s how we added Facebook shares to the Tematica Select List — we knew the company was a key player in our Connected Society investing theme, but we waited until we had a compelling risk-to-reward tradeoff in the share price.

This reminds us of one of “Uncle” Warren Buffet’s most used sayings, “Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.”

We suspect there will be far more value to be had in the stock market over the next few weeks compared to the last several as December quarter earnings kicks into gear. As we’ve shared in the last several issues of The Monday Morning Kickoff, expectations have been running high, but recently more investors have been scratching their heads as they put the economic reality puzzle pieces together and reassess what is “expected.” Making this even more challenging is we have the Volatility Index near its lowest levels in over a year. Looking at the chart below, the words “reversion to the mean” ring in our head.

What this tells us is should the news turn to something less than expected, we are bound to see a far more bumpy time in the market than the smooth sailing we’ve seen since early November.

 

President-elect Trump’s Tweets and Interviews Suggest a Bumpy Ride 

Unless you live under a rock or are stuck under a very large piece of furniture with no access to a TV or the internet (yes, the internet has become so ubiquitous that it now lowercase), you know this week also marks the presidential inauguration, which will dominate headlines over the next few days. While we will watch the events of the week and listen to the speeches and confirmation hearings for clues as to what’s to come from the new Trump administration, we won’t be shedding a tear as we move past the event and onto the work that needs to be done.

As that happens, we also hope that President Trump rethinks his Twitter (TWTR) usage, but not necessarily for the same reasons as the media. While we like the push to bring jobs back to the US and put a more effective healthcare program in place, as investors we are not fans of the policy-by-bullhorn we have seen.

What makes this even more challenging is we have yet to receive a holistic view on what President-elect Trump’s policies will be, and this “keep them guessing” approach of one-off pronouncements may be good for his intended deal making, it’s added a layer of uncertainty for the stock market, and as we know the market doesn’t like uncertainty.


As we’ve seen from president-elect Trump’s tweets and interviews, his words have the potential to be very disruptive to the investment playing field:

  • Earlier this month, close to $25 billion was shaved off the value of the S&P 500’s top nine pharmaceutical companies in a matter of minutes, following President-elect accusing them of “getting away with murder.”
  • Last week following a newspaper interview with President-elect Trump in which he warned he would impose a border tax of 35 percent on vehicles imported from abroad to the US market, German carmaker stocks sold off sharply.
  • The US dollar slumped to a seven-week low against Japan’s yen late Tuesday, and continued to trade lower against a slew of currencies early this morning after President-elect Trump said that the buck was “too strong”. In an article in The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Trump said the strength of the US dollar against China’s yuan “is killing us.”

 

Amidst All This Uncertainty, We’re Taking a Wait and See Approach 

We’ve encountered many disruptions in the past and odds are these current events won’t be last. Over the last few years, we’ve seen earnings season become a greater source of stock price volatility — miss EPS expectations by a penny, and we now see share prices fall 10-20 percent, far greater than the single digits selloffs that had been the norm. These tend to be short-term disruptions that give way to market forces, which means that as we continue to focus on thematic fundamentals, we’ll be vigilant for opportunities presented by wide swings in stock prices.

With this in mind, we’re holding off making any moves with the Tematica Select List this week as we instead digest company comments regarding the tone of the economy, impact of the dollar on their business outlook and of course the strength of our thematic tailwinds.

DOWNLOAD THIS WEEK’S ISSUE
The full content of Tematica Investing is above; however downloading the full issue provides detailed performance tables and charts. Click here to download.

When it comes to Fitbit (FIT), is now the right time to jump in?

When it comes to Fitbit (FIT), is now the right time to jump in?

If you saw a great product on sale at the store, you would be excited, maybe even ecstatic, if it was one you had been looking at for some time. The same is true with stocks!

We all tend to get caught up in the emotional response of the market moving lower, which usually is viewed as a bad thing, rather than an OPPORTUNITY to buy shares at an even better price. When viewed through that lens, who doesn’t love it when stocks go on sale… so long as the fundamentals and business drivers remain intact.

Here’s a great example — at the Consumer Electronics Show held earlier this month, Fitbit ([stock_quote symbol=”FIT”]) announced its first smart watch, dubbed the Blaze  . . .