Houston (Fed), We Have A Problem (Problems) – Part 2/2

In the previous article, Houston (Fed), We Have A Problem (Problems) – Part 1/2, I addressed two risks (growing monetary policy divergence and emerging markets)  that will force the Fed to “land” (lower back) rates this year. I will address more risks here.

One huge risk that I will not address here, but will address in a future article is “lack of liquidity”. While I was doing research, I came across more information that I expected. I’m still getting more information and I believe it will be a great article. I will give a sneak peek of the article in the bottom of this article.

Junk Bonds, Credit Spreads, Energy, Manufacturing, Earnings Decline:

Earlier last month (December 10, 2015), Third Avenue’s Focused Credit Fund (FCF), a large mutual fund specializing in risky, high-yielding bonds, announced it would block investor redemptions, “no further subscriptions or redemptions will be accepted.” In mid-2014, they had $3.5 billion assets under management (AUM). As of December 31, 2015, they only had AUM of $660.67 million, as investors rushed to get their money back because of weakness in the junk bond market.

Now, investors’ money are being held hostage. “The remaining assets have been placed in a liquidating trust”, said David Barse, CEO of the firm, as the investor requests for redemptions and the “general reduction of liquidity in the fixed income markets” made it impossible for the fund to “create sufficient cash to pay anticipated redemptions without resorting to sales at prices that would unfairly disadvantage the remaining shareholders.”

The process is a pain in the ass, “Third Avenue anticipates that the full liquidation process may take up to a year or more.” Again, investors’ money are being held hostage.

This events highlights the danger of “over-investments” into risky areas, high levels of corporate debt, AND the lack of liquidity (will be addressed in a future article). With interest rates hovering around 0 (well, before the rate-hike in December), U.S. companies have rushed to issue debt.

Investors who poses a higher risk appétit can find junk bonds, yielding higher interest rates, to be “useful” for their style and capacity of investment. More rewards for more risks, right?

As the global economy continues to struggle, namely China and emerging markets, yield on junk bonds have been increasing since they are a higher chance of defaulting.

Rising interest rates adversely impact bond prices, pushing their yield of the bond higher (inverse relationship). While increase in rates does not largely affect junk bonds since they have a higher coupon (yield) and shorter maturities (shorter maturity means less price sensitivity to rates), current junk bond market combined the impacts of a stronger dollar and low commodity prices can be extremely adverse and dangerous.

High-yield debt yields, as represented by Bank of America Merrill Lynch U.S. High Yield Master II Effective Yield, have been increasing since mid of last year. It rose from 5.16% (June 23, 2014) to current 9.23%. That’s whopping 78.88% increase, representing the growing risks of junk bond market.

BofA Merrill Lynch U.S. High Yield Master II Effective Yield Source: retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis
BofA Merrill Lynch U.S. High Yield Master II Effective Yield
Source: retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

 

According to Lipper, investors pulled out a total $13.88 billion from high-yield funds in 2015, with $6.29 billion in December alone. As redemptions increase, funds may suffer as high-yields are harder to trade due to its lack of liquidity (will talk more about the major risk of illiquidity in a future article) and funds may have to take an action like the Third Avenue did.

Credit spreads (difference in yield between two bonds of similar maturity but different credit quality) are widening, which possibly signals a wider economic trouble ahead. Widening credit spreads mark growing concerns about the ability of borrowers to service their debt. Not only borrowers will suffer, but also lenders since they lost money.

BofA Merrill Lynch US High Yield Master II Option-Adjusted Spread, representing the credit spread of the high yield bond market as a whole, have been increasing the middle of 2014. It’s currently at 775 (7.75%) basis points (bps).

BofA Merrill Lynch US High Yield CCC or Below Option-Adjusted Spread is currently 1,804bps wide (18.04), a level of highly distressed territory. Credits are defined as distressed when they are trading more than 1,000bps (10%) wide.

BofA Merrill Lynch US High Yield Master II Option-Adjusted Spread AND BofA Merrill Lynch US High Yield CCC or Below Option-Adjusted Spread Source: FRED Economic Data
BofA Merrill Lynch US High Yield Master II Option-Adjusted Spread AND BofA Merrill Lynch US High Yield CCC or Below Option-Adjusted Spread
Source: FRED Economic Data

I believe it will continue to increase this year, reflecting the worsening of the credit conditions that would cause greater concern among investors and policymakers (Hi, Ms. Yellen. Time to reverse the policy?)

iShares iBoxx $ High Yield Corporate Bond ETF (NYSE: HYG), an index composed of U.S. dollar-denominated, high yield corporate bonds, is already down 1.39% year-to-date (YTD) and was down 10.58% in 2015, expressing the increasing uncertainty by the investors, as they pull back their money from high-yielding bonds/ETFs. The exposure of the index to CCC rated bonds, B rated bonds, and BB rated bonds, are 8.88%, 38.73%, and 50.25%, respectively. Stronger U.S. dollar and lower commodity prices are expected (and it will) to hurt the earnings of U.S. companies, increasing the chances of defaults, especially in energy.

iShares iBoxx $ High Yield Corporate Bond ETF (NYSE: HYG)
iShares iBoxx $ High Yield Corporate Bond ETF (NYSE: HYG)

The index’s energy exposure is 9.38%. Recently oil prices plunged to levels under $30. Energy companies borrowed a lot of debt during oil price boom, to increase production (so that they can gain more market share), are now being haunted by their own actions. A lot of energy companies are currently under an extreme pressure to make a dime, as oil prices plunge. According to law firm Haynes and Boone, 42 North American oil and gas producers filed for bankruptcy last year. Those 42 defaults account for approximately $17 billion in cumulative secured (over $9 billion) and unsecured debt (almost $8 billion).

2015 E&P Bankruptcy Filings Source: Law firm Haynes and Boone - Slide 5
2015 E&P Bankruptcy Filings
Source: Law firm Haynes and Boone – Slide 5

Out of those 42 bankruptcy filings, 18 of them come from Texas, a leading state in energy production. According to U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), Texas had a capacity of over 5.1 million barrels of crude oil per day and accounted for 29% of total U.S. refining capacity, as of January 2015, and accounted for about 29% of U.S. gas production in 2014.

In 2014, Texas gross domestic product (GDP) increased 5.2% year-over-year (Y/Y), the second greatest change in state GDP after North Dakota. Mining industry accounted for 1.25% increase to GDP, its largest contributor. Texas’s GDP accounted for 9.5% of U.S. total GDP in 2014.

The collapse of energy prices over the past several years are “fracking” down the Texas economy. The Dallas Federal Reserve’s general business activity index “collapsed” to -34.6 in January, the lowest reading since April 2009, when Texas was in recession. Same with company outlook index, it fell to -19.5 in January from -10.5 in December.

Texas Manufacturing Outlook Survey – General Business Conditions Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas
Texas Manufacturing Outlook Survey – General Business Conditions
Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas

The production index – a key measure of state manufacturing conditions – fell all the way from 12.7 in December to -10.2 in January. New orders index fell -9.2 in January from -7 in December.

Texas Manufacturing Outlook Survey – Business Indicators Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas
Texas Manufacturing Outlook Survey – Business Indicators
Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas

Employment Index, on the other hand, sharply dropped to -4.2 in January from 10.9 in December. Texas is a home to many energy giants, such as Schlumberger (NYSE: SLB), Halliburton (NYSE: HAL), Baker Hughes (NYSE: BHI), Exxon Mobil (NYSE:XOM), and ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP). The companies slashed off tens of thousands of jobs over the past year and cut capex significantly, as the current stressed energy market heavily weighted on them.

In January 21, Schlumberger reported 38.7% decrease in fourth quarter revenue Y/Y, and net income declined substantially to a loss of $989 million, compared with profit of $317 million in the same period of 2014. Texas-based energy giant’s North American region 4th quarter revenue fell 54.79% to $1.9 billion from $4.3 billion in the same quarter of 2014. The company’s earnings announcement warned of a “deepening financial crisis in the E&P industry, and prompted customers to make further cuts to already significantly lower E&P investment levels. Customer budgets were also exhausted early in the quarter, leading to unscheduled and abrupt activity cancellations.” As a result of a weaker quarter and worsening conditions, they plan to lay off 10,000 workers, adding to already laid-off 34,000 workers, or 26% of its original workforce, since November 2014.

On Monday (January 25, 2016), Halliburton reported its fourth quarter earnings. Halliburton’s 4th quarter revenue fell 42% in Y/Y to $5.08 billion, including a 54.4% plunge to $2.1 billion in its North American region, which accounted for 42.4% of total revenue in 4Q.  On a GAAP basis, the Texas-based energy giant (and another one) reported a quarterly net loss of $28 million ($0.03 per share) compared with net income of $9.01 million ($1.06 per share) in the fourth quarter of 2014.

On Thursday (January 28, 2016), Baker Hughes reported a 48.85% decrease in fourth quarter revenue to $3.4 billion from $6.6 billion in the same period of 2014. On GAAP basis, the Texas-based energy giant (and another one) reported a quarterly net loss of $1 billion ($2.35 per share) compared with net income of $663 million ($1.52 per share) in the fourth quarter of 2014. Its North American region revenue fell 65.59% to $1.14 billion in the fourth quarter, compared with $3.30 billion in the fourth quarter of 2014.

Chevron Corp., (NYSE: CVX), California-based energy giant, posted its first loss since the third quarter of 2002 on Friday (January 29, 2016). It reported a fourth quarter loss of $588 million ($0.31 per share), compared with $3.5 billion ($1.85 per share) in the same period of 2014. During the same period, its revenue fell 36.5% to $29.25 billion from $46.09 billion.

Below is a graph by EIA, showing how the cost of debt service for U.S. oil producers has grown since 2012. In the second quarter of 2015, more than 80% of these producers’ cash flow went to service their outstanding debt, leaving very little cash to fund operations, to pay dividends, and to invest for the future. To adjust to those pains, the producers have significantly reduced capital expenditures.

Debt service uses a rising share of U.S. onshore oil producers’ operating cash flow Source: EIA
Debt service uses a rising share of U.S. onshore oil producers’ operating cash flow
Source: EIA

During the end of Q2 2015, oil prices were around $58. It’s currently at $38. Clearly, the situation has only gotten worse.

Both Exxon Mobil and ConocoPhillips will report its fourth quarter earnings next week.


I believe oil prices have hit bottom and it won’t break $27 this year.

Why do I say that?

I believe the market already priced in Iran’s entry into oil war. Recently, hedge fund bearish bets on oil were at all-time high (crowded trade). Crowed trade includes: a large numbers of participants who share similar beliefs and heavy short-term bag holders (speculators). I tend to take advantage of this types of situations.

Not only bearish bets on oil are at all-time high and not only I believe Iran is already priced in, but some OPEC countries, including Nigeria and Venezuela, already started calling for emergency meetings to try to cut production. I’m starting to believe that they can no longer handle the pain. While this is a political game – to gain and preserve more market share – it won’t last long enough to get oil breaking below $27. They can no longer bluff.

For many OPEC members, operating costs are around $30. With slowing global growth, they can’t afford to have even lower oil prices.

Conclusion: Oil has hit bottom and it won’t break below $27 this year. If you disagree with me, feel free to comment below.


Speaking of junk bonds, the energy sector makes up about a fifth of the high-yield bond index. Fitch Ratings forecast the US high yield energy sector default rate to hit 11% this year, “eclipsing the 9.7% rate seen in 1999.”

According to Fitch Ratings, at the beginning of December of last year, “$98 billion of the high yield universe was bid below 50 cents, while $257 billion was bid below 80 cents. The battered energy and metals/mining sectors comprise 78% of the total bid below 50 cents. In addition, 53% percent of energy, metals/mining companies rated ‘B-‘ or lower were bid below 50 at the start of December, compared to 16% at the end of 2014, reflecting the decline in crude oil prices.”

Not only energy companies will suffer, but also banks. The biggest U.S. banks – Morgan Stanley, Citigroup, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo, and JPMorgan Chase – have exposure to energy as part of their overall portfolios.

  • Morgan Stanley: Energy exposure assumed at 5% of total loans.
  • Citigroup: Energy exposure assumed at 3.3% of total loans.
  • Bank of America: Energy exposure assumed at 2.4% of total loans.
  • Goldman Sachs: Energy exposure assumed at 2.1% of total loans.
  • Wells Fargo: Energy exposure assumed at 1.9% of total loans.
  • JPMorgan Chase: Energy exposure assumed at 1.6% of total loans.

According to Fitch Ratings, exposure to energy sector were “cited as higher risk segments for the banks.”

The collapse in oil prices, strong U.S. dollar, and weakening global economy “crippled” manufacturers across the country. The Empire State manufacturing index fell to -19.4 in January from -6.2 in December, the lowest level since March 2009. The reading suggests manufacturing sector is slowing down and it raises questions about the outlook for the economy.

Manufacturing is very important to the U.S. economy. According to National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), there are 12.33 million manufacturing workers in the U.S., accounting for 9% of the nation’s workforce. Manufacturers recently contributed $2.18 trillion to the U.S. economy. “Taken alone, manufacturing in the United States would be the ninth-largest economy in the world.” according to NAM. For more facts and details, click here.

The manufacturing index have been below zero since July. Not only did the headline fell, but so did new orders index and shipments index. New orders fell 23.5 in January from -6.2 in December. Shipments fell -14.4 in January from 4.6 in December.

The Empire State Manufacturing Survey Source: Federal Reserve Bank of New York
The Empire State Manufacturing Survey
Source: Federal Reserve Bank of New York

Slump in new orders can shift the production into lower gear and possibly jeopardize jobs. The employment (number of employees) index continued to deteriorate for a fifth consecutive month. The weaknesses in the Empire State indexes suggests that the earnings of manufacturers are under pressure.

According to FactSet, the S&P 500 is expected to report a Y/Y decline in earnings of 5.7% for the fourth quarter. For Q4 2015, the blended earnings decline is -5.8%. A Y/Y decline in earnings for the fourth quarter will mark the first time S&P 500 has reported three consecutive quarters of Y/Y declines in earnings since Q1 2009 through Q3 2009.

For Q1 2016, 33 companies out of S&P 500, so far, have issued negative EPS guidance and 6 companies have issued positive EPS guidance.

Another drag on earnings can be the current inventories to sales ratio. Since early 2012, the ratio has been increasing.

Total Business: Inventories to Sales Ratio Source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis
Total Business: Inventories to Sales Ratio
Source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

An increasing ratio is a negative sign because it shows companies may be having trouble keeping inventories down and/or sales have slowed. If they have too much of inventories, they may have to discount the products to clear their shelves, dragging on the earnings.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me and/or leave comments below. Thank you.

Sneak peek of a future article that addresses one huge risk (lack of liquidity):

“With low liquidity in the bond market and increasing HFT transactions in it, the threat is real. Automated trades can trigger extreme price swings and the communication in these automated trades can quickly erode liquidity before you even know it, even though there is a very high volume. While liquidity in the U.S. bond market is high, it’s not high enough to battle the power of the technological progress.”

October Jobs Report Strong: It Is Just One Report

On November 6 (Friday), jobs report for October had the winds of 120 miles per hour and blew everyone away. Non-farm payrolls showed 271,000 jobs were added in October, the most gain since December and a huge beatdown on expectations of about 185,000. It’s the best month for job growth so far this year. The report follows two consecutive months (August and September) of weak jobs growth below 160,000.

The total job gains for August and September were revised 12,000 higher. August was revised 17K higher to 153K from 136k, and September was revised -5K lower to 137K from 142K. Over the last 12 months, employment growth had averaged 230K per month, vs. 222K in the same-period of 2014. In 2014, average monthly payrolls was 260K. This year, it is 206K. Not only jobs gains for October were strong, but also unemployment and wages.

Total Non-Farm Payrolls – Monthly Net Change
Total Non-Farm Payrolls – Monthly Net Change

The unemployment rate dipped 0.1% to 5%, its lowest level since April 2008. Average hourly earnings rose by 9 cents an hour to $25.20. It rose 2.5% year-over-year (Y/Y), the best level since July 2009. For most of the “recovery”, wages has been flat. The increase in earnings is significant for two reasons. More money for employees means more spending (don’t forget debts), which accounts two-thirds of the economy. Second, wage growth might suggest that employers are having trouble finding new workers (should I say “skilled” workers) and they have to pay more to keep its workers and/or to get new skilled workers. This could draw more people back into the labor market, increasing the participation rate. Without the right skills, good luck.

Average Hourly Earnings and Average Weekly Hours
Average Hourly Earnings and Average Weekly Hours

The labor force participation rate remained unchanged at a 38-year (1977) low of 62.4%. The long-term decline in the participation rate is due to the aging of the baby-boom generation and loss of confidence in the jobs market. There hasn’t even been a rebound in participation rate of prime-age Americans (between the ages of 25 and 54).

Unemployment Rate + Labor Force Participation Rate

More than 122 million Americans had full-time jobs at the end of October, the highest since December 2007 (121.6 million).

Full-Time and Part-Time Employment

Immediately after the jobs report, the probability of a rate-hike in December lifted. Fed funds futures currently anticipates about 65% chance of a rate hike next month vs. about 72% immediately after the report and about 55% before the report.

Federal Reserve Chairwoman, Janet Yellen, lately has been saying that December’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting was “live” for a potential rate-hike. While this jobs report is positive, I believe it is too early to jump in on conclusions.

The policymakers should not be too quick to act on one report. In September, the Fed left rates unchanged mainly due to a low inflation. Inflation is still low and we will get a fresh look on Tuesday (November 17) when Consumer Price Index (CPI) is released.

In March, the Fed expressed worries about the strength of the U.S. Dollar, just after the greenback hit above $100 mark. The greenback then tumbled and has never recovered back to $100….yet.

US Dollar ("/DX" on thinkorswim platform) - Daily
US Dollar (“/DX” on thinkorswim platform) – Daily

Right after the jobs report, the dollar skyrocketed and was 40 cents away from hitting $100 mark. It’s currently at $98.88 and there is a very high chance it will go above $100 until December 15, the first day of FOMC meeting.

If the November job numbers does not surprise to the upside (released in December 4), inflation stays low, and the dollar keeps strengthening, I do not believe the Fed will hit the “launch” button for a rate-hike liftoff.

Market Reactions:

US Dollar ("/DX" on thinkorswim platform) - Hourly
US Dollar (“/DX” on thinkorswim platform) – Hourly
S&P 500 Index ("SPX" on thinkorswim platform) - Hourly
S&P 500 Index (“SPX” on thinkorswim platform) – Hourly

Repulsive Jobs Report

Last Friday (October 2), jobs report for September came out way weaker than expected. Non-farm payrolls report shows 142K jobs were added, vs 200K expectations. Unemployment rate stood unchanged at seven-year low of 5.1%. Not only that, but wage gains stalled, labor force shrank, and July and August gains were revised lower.

July job gains were revised lower to 223K from 245K (-22K) and August job gains were revised lower to 136K from 173K (-37K), totaling downward revisions of 59K. Average jobs gains for third quarter is now at 167K, lower than the 2014 average of 260K. So far, job growth has averaged 198K a month this year, compared with an average gain of 260K a month the previous year.

Total Non-Farm Payrolls – Monthly Net Change
Total Non-Farm Payrolls – Monthly Net Change

Unemployment rate stayed at 5.1% only because people stopped looking for work. In other words, they lost confidence in the labor market. 350K people dropped out of the labor force which took labor force participation rate fell to 62.4%, the lowest in 38 years (1977), from 62.6% in the previous three months.

Labor Participation Rate (Source: @ReutersJamie)
Labor Participation Rate (Source: @ReutersJamie)

Wages also showed weakness. Average hourly earnings fell by a penny to $25.09 after rising 9 cents in September. The average workweek declined by 0.1 hour to 34.5 hours.

There are increased worries that global slowdown is weighing on the domestic economy. The repulsive jobs report knocked down the chances of a rate-hike for this year. Federal Funds Rate (FFR) shows less than 10% and less than 35% chance of rate hike in October and December, respectively. Regardless of weak jobs growth, I still expect 0.10% rate-hike this month. But, I don’t expect 25 basis points for the year. If 0.25% were nothing, the Fed would have raised it already. The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) will meet on Tuesday-Wednesday, October 27-28.

Weak jobs report seems to point out a weak third quarter GDP growth following a strong rebound in the 2nd quarter. According to final GDP report released on September 25, second quarter grew at an annual pace of 3.9%, vs previous estimate of 3.7%. Advance (1st estimate) GDP report for the third quarter will be released on Thursday, October 29.

In the first quarter, the economy grew only 0.6% because of strong U.S. dollar, low energy prices, West Coast port strike, and the bad weather. Well, winter is approaching. Who’s not to say that the weather will hamper the growth again? The dollar is still strong and the energy prices are still low.

Energy sector continues to struggle. The mining industry – which includes oil and natural-gas drillers — lost 10K jobs last month, totaling 102K losses of jobs since December 2014. Energy companies continue to layoff workers since low energy prices are hurting companies. Energy companies like Chesapeake Energy and ConocoPhillips continues to reduce its workforce and its operations, and cut capital expenditures to offset higher costs.

Earlier in September, the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) report showed that there were 5.8 million job openings in July, a series (series began in December 2000) record and higher than 5.4 million in May, as employers cannot find qualified workers.

It’s likely to get worse in the longer-term because of higher minimum wages. If employers pay higher wages, more people, especially teenagers, are likely to drop out and work. If states and companies continue to raise minimum wages, jobs that require skills such as programming, etc, will not be filled in the United States, but in countries with higher amount of education. That’s why recent minimum wage increases will batter, not help, the U.S. economy in the longer-term.

Reactions to the jobs report:

US markets fell immediately after the report, but rebounded later. 10-year Treasury yield fell below 2%, to the lowest level since April. US Dollar plunged, but recuperated about half of the losses later.

Standard & Poor 500 ETF ("SPY") - Hourly
Standard & Poor 500 ETF (“SPY”) – Hourly

 

10-Year Treasury Index ("TNX") - Hourly
10-Year Treasury Index (“TNX”) – Hourly

 

US Dollar ("/DX") - Hourly
US Dollar (“/DX”) – Hourly

Cisco’s Impressive 4th Quarter Earnings Report

This is a follow up post to the previous post (Cisco Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: CSCO) Undervalued). Before continuing to read this post, I suggest reading the previous post if you haven’t already. The previous post includes some important facts that are not included in this post. If you have any questions/comments, feel free to leave a comment below or contact me. Thank you.


On Wednesday (August 12, 2015), Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO) reported its first earnings report with Chuck Robbins (CEO of Cisco) at the helm and it was very impressive. For 4th Quarter Fiscal Year 2015 (Q4 FY’15), revenue was $12.8 billion, up 3.9% year-over-year (Y/Y) from $12.4 billion and EPS (GAAP) was $0.45 per share, up 4.7% Y/Y from $0.43. Net income (GAAP) was $2.3 billion, up 3.2% Y/Y from $2.2 billion.

This earnings report concludes Fiscal Year (FY) 2015. Let’s take a look at FY GAAP results. FY’15 revenue grew 4.3% year-over-year to $49.2 billion from $47.1 billion. Net income grew 14.4% to $9 billion from $7.9 billion and EPS grew 17.4% to $1.75 from $1.49.

During FY’15, Cisco continued its commitment to shareholder return – returning $8.3 billion through share buybacks and dividends – 73% of free cash flow. Yet, Cisco has total cash, cash equivalents, and investments of $60.4 billion, up 16.02% Y/Y from $52 billion in Q4 FY’14.

Key Financial Measures
Key Financial Measures – Cash, Debt, OCF

The company has $25.4 billion in debt, 21.26% increase Y/Y. Their operating cash flow increased 14.56% Y/Y to $4.1 billion. I don’t see the current debt as a problem since the company has a strong balance sheet.

Regional Performance:

Americas revenue increased 6.63% Y/Y to $7.8 billion. EMEA (Europe, the Middle East and Africa) was slightly flat at $3.1 billion. APJC (Asia-Pacific, Japan and China) was flat at $1.9 -billion. Both EMEA and APJC revenue was affected by forex (currency) headwinds. With strengthening dollar – which hurts sales revenue aboard – Cisco should be able to offset the headwinds from it because of a strong domestic market. Stronger dollar makes American goods expensive and less competitive overseas, hurting earnings for U.S. companies. Cisco has a very strong domestic market and continues to increase its footsteps.

Geographic Revenue
Geographic Revenue

Guidance: (Not a big fan of guidance)

Cisco expects 2%-4% Y/Y revenue growth and EPS of $0.55-$0.57 for Q1 FY’16, in-line with a consensus for 2.5% growth and EPS of $0.56. While company’s guidance is important, I believe your own guidance for the company is more important.

Segment Performance:

Cisco Segment Performance - Q4 F'15
Cisco Segment Performance – Q4 F’15 – Source: Slide 7

Product revenue grew 4% Y/Y. Out of nine segments, two segments (“Service Provider Video” and “Other Products”) declined Y/Y, but remaining seven segments grew.

Today, Cisco is looking to acquire businesses focusing on wireless software, video delivery, cloud-based security technologies and investments in cyber-security. They are more likely to acquire smaller companies with strong presence in areas (product and geography) that Cisco itself does not have. The company plans to invest $1 billion into the United Kingdom over the next 3-5 years to boost the country’s technology sector, especially Internet of Things (IoT). During the Q4 FY’15 Conference call, Kelly Kramer, Chief Financial Officer (CFO) stated that Cisco was “…committed to looking at the right acquisitions at the right price to drive our growth strategy.” I’m currently looking into companies that I believe Cisco should acquire (post to come regarding it, if I find a suitable company).

Key Financials:

Key Financials (Q4 FY'10 - Q4 FY'15)
Key Financials (Q4 FY’10 – Q4 FY’15)

In the “Key Financials” chart above, you see “EBITDA” and “EBIT”. Let me take a moment to explain what they are and why they are important.

EBITDA: An acronym for “Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, and DD&A (Depreciation, Depletion and Amortization)”. It’s an income statement metric which represents earnings prior to the payment of interest expense, taxes, depreciation, depletion and amortization. EBITDA is a proxy for (but not a substitute for) cash flow generated by the assets of a company (In this case, Cisco) before debt holders and tax authorities are paid. A good EBITDA growth rate can show investors that the company has a future for potential growth.

EBIT: An acronym for “Earnings Before Interest and Taxes”. EBIT is similar to EBITDA, but It’s an income statement metric which represents earnings prior to the payment of interest expense and taxes.


5-Year CAGR (Compounded Annual Growth Rate):

  • Total Revenue: 4.19%
  • Gross Profit: 2.86%
  • EBITDA: 4.14%
  • EBIT: 3.57%
  • Net Income: 2.95%

While 5-Year CAGR numbers may look small, it’s very reasonable for a company of Cisco’s size.

I love the valuation at current levels. My target price is $32, unchanged from previous post. I’m taking “Warren Buffett” style approach on Cisco. I’m in this for a longer-term and my target price will change as time goes on. Strategic acquisitions, for example, will increase my target price because in the longer-term, the acquired company (depending on the company) will bring in more income although there will be costs in a short-term. After all, it’s the opportunity cost.

Any pullbacks in the stock price will be taken as an opportunity to buy more shares. The only con are the brokerage fees that comes as a disadvantage to small investors like myself.

If you have been wondering why non-GAAP numbers are not listed here, it’s because I don’t look at them much. Companies can do whatever they want to do with it and it’s hard to trust the non-GAAP numbers. On Cisco’s financial reports, they state “These non-GAAP measures are not in accordance with, or an alternative for, measures prepared in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles and may be different from non-GAAP measures used by other companies.”

Non-GAAP is a propaganda tool to raise capital and/or stock price (AKA equity compensation).

I’m not saying I don’t look at non-GAAP numbers, but GAAP is much more important to look at. Exceptions to look at non-GAAP are when there are such reasonable large write-downs and/or restructuring charges (one-time, non-recurring” expenses). Reasonable.

All comments welcomed.


Disclosure: I’m currently long on the stock, CSCO. I went long last year at price just below $25. I will continue to be long.

Note: All information I used here such as revenue, income, etc are found from Cisco’s official investor relations site, Bloomberg terminal, FactSet, and S&P Capital IQ. The pictures you see here are my own (except “Cisco Segment Performance – Q4 F’15”).

Disclaimer: The posts are not a recommendation to buy or sell any stocks, currencies, etc mentioned. They are solely my personal opinions. Every investor/trader must do his/her own due diligence before making any investment/trading decision.

Microsoft Earnings and its game changer product, Hololens

On January 26, 2015, Microsoft reported their quarterly financial results for FY15 Q2 (FisicalYear 2015, Quarter 2 – ending on December 31) and it was below what analysts expected. Thomas Reuters had consensus estimates of $0.71 in earnings per share on $26.33 billion in revenue. Microsoft reported a revenue of $26.470 billion from $24.519 billion in the previous year, 8% increase. Microsoft reported earnings of $0.71 per share from $0.78 in the previous year, 9% decrease (Diluted EPS).

Microsoft stock (MSFT) dropped almost 4% after-hours or from around $47 (4 P.M) to about $45.50 (5 P.M). It continued to drop. The next day, the stock opened at $42.96 and finished the day at $42.6 7. From the announcement of financial results to the next day, the stock dropped about 10%. As of right now, it’s around $43.50. I view this as buying opportunity even it rose after almost $3 in almost 2 weeks. I will explain why MSFT is great stock down below.

MSFT - Hourly
MSFT – Hourly

Microsoft’s numbers looked weak because of currency and a restructuring charge. U.S dollar has been getting strengthening for some time now. It’s having a bad effect on international companies. Microsoft’s (International Company) international sales are being converted into fewer dollar, for now. Plus, Microsoft cannot control what happens to Forex market. In the last quarter, Microsoft had $243 million in restructuring charges, $0.02 per share negative impact. It comes from the integration of the Nokia Devices and Services business. Phone hardware revenue came at $2.3 billion, with 10.5 million Lumia units sold. It was successful. $0.04 per share loss came from IRS audit adjustment. Restructuring charges (-$0.02) and IRS audit adjustment (-$0.04) are temporary or one-time events. Succesful revenue from hardware and one-time losses are the two reasons to buy Microsoft stock (MSFT).

Last week, Microsoft showed off a product that I believe is a game-changer, HoloLens. It’s a headset with transparent lenses. What you see in reality is transformed into different world with 3-D objects floating, virtual screens, virtual characters and more. I believe it’s way better than Oculus Rift. Oculus Rift is designed for gaming only, targeting gamers only. HoloLens can be used for learning and experiencing new era of technology in a new way. Not only it targets gamers, but also non-gamers and people with dreams (creating/inventing products, etc). The price of HoloLens is unknown at this time. It should be affordable and fair if they want to get into mass-market. This is just the beginning and it has the potential to be huge. Hololens is another reason to buy Microsoft stock (MSFT). >>> Microsoft HoloLens YouTube <<<

Another reason is Microsoft’s acquisitions of small companies that has potential to grow a lot. Recently, Microsoft announced an acquisition of Revolution Analytics, Equivio and Sunrise. Revolution Analytics is a statistical software company. Equivio is startup producing test analysis software. Sunrise is a developer of calendar apps. So why is Microsoft acquiring small companies? They know that these companies will be very useful and helpful for their products. Therefore, driving up the sales. When they drive the sales (revenue) up, they will make us, the shareholders (or potential shareholders) happy.

Last reason to invest in Microsoft is its dividends. MSFT gives annual dividend of $1.24 at the yield of 2.83%. I would reinvest the dividends, known as DRIP (Dividend Reinvestment Plan). Why? There will no fees or commissions to reinvest, buying additional shares or fraction of a share. Over the long-run, it will benefit you as reinvestment adds up.

If you have any opinions, etc, feel free to leave comments or contact by email (khojinur_us@yahoo.com). Write “FMITBOOK” on subject line. Thank you.

 

UPDATE 1: I’m still watching MSFT (Microsoft stock ticker) for a good entry. I will go long on it in the future at a good entry price. Microsoft stock and other blue chip stock fell after Intel slashed revenue outlook due to weak PC demand. The decrease in the price of MSFT is still a good buying opportunity. (http://www.outofwacc.com/update-on-microsoft-rbnz-and-upcoming-events-to-watch-out/).

UPDATE 2: Microsoft FY15 Q3 earnings (http://www.outofwacc.com/microsofts-earnings/).