Looking for Earnings This “Earnings” Season

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Charles Payne's Morning Hotline Report

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Nice rebound yesterday- just in time as another down session would have spooked a lot of the investors who have simply become complacent. We are seeing pent-up demand from the sidelines, mostly from professional investors woefully underperforming the market.

The “smartest guys in the room” crowd simply overthought this thing from the lows back in March 2009. Still, for many, their bet is to now wait this rally out and maybe pick up the pieces later. However, that is still a losing proposition. In addition, unlike the doomsday cabal when pros have missed a five-year rally, they do not get accolades when there is a correction.

On that note, this earning season looms larger than at any time since the beginning of the rally, as acceptance of mediocrity expressed by terms like “green shoots” no longer matter- investors are looking for big news and bigger guidance.

The Wrong Model

On June 20, I took on The Container Store and other companies pushing the so-called Conscious Capitalism movement on my show, “Making Money with Charles Payne,” on Fox Business. Any business that puts the environment, or other social issues, ahead of customers and profits is really a not-for-profit. The fact is that so many businesses want to be publicly traded, yet make the bottom line an afterthought is politically worrisome, even from an investment point of view.

Letter from our Chairman and Chief Executive Officer:

I would have to say that first and foremost, we’re an employee‑first, yummy company. “What does it mean to be yummy?” might be your next question. Well, it’s the opposite of yucky. We know our employee‑first mantra defies conventional business wisdom, most famously expressed by the late American economist Milton Friedman.

It’s actually about creating this one‑of‑a‑kind experience, where we operate our business with a focus on all of our stakeholders, but with our employees first.

This employee-first approach -that borders on cultist- eats away the would-be profits, which at the end of the day, are not only what outside investors seek, but what’s needed to build the business. Unfortunately, management was not conscious when it came down to throwing all retailers under the bus. In fact, one could say their comments were “yucky.”

Earnings Statement July 8, 2014

We thought our sluggish sales were all because of the weather and calendar shifts that began last November and continued into the spring, but now we’ve come to realize it’s more than weather and calendar. Consistent with so many of our fellow retailers, we are experiencing a retail ‘funk’. Our comparable store sales declined 0.8%, in the first quarter.” said Kip Tindell, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.

Here’s the problem, Kip, while we know it has been tough for a lot of retailers, your problems can be found in the heart and bottom line of your income statement, not your top line growth.

Selling a lot of molded products can be very lucrative, as seen by the giant gross margin, but when all profit is used to operate the business, there is nothing left for shareholders; your stock takes a drubbing.


Today’s Session

After some further reading into the meeting minutes from the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), it was noted that the Fed plans to end its bond-buying stimulus program in October, provided that the US economy continues to grow at its current pace. With the winter-related economic impacts behind us, the Fed sees no reason why the economy couldn’t maintain steady growth going forward. According to the account, the Fed also plans to add $35 billion to its holdings of Treasury and mortgage-backed securities in July, $25 billion in August and September, and a final $15 billion in October. Probably most disturbing was that no word was given on when or if interest rates will be raised this year. Needless to say, between this, debt issues in Portugal and the EU, plus Israel potentially invading Gaza, the markets have retreated nearly 1.0% before the opening bell. It’s going to be a very rough session today, but fundamentally we are in a good place. Just hold on.

On a more pleasant note for the broader economy, initial jobless claims were better than expected and continuing claims have also shown improvement. Initial jobless claims came in at 304K last week which was better than the 311K consensus and the 315K in the week prior. Continuing jobless claims, lagged by two weeks, came in at 2.584 million compared to the consensus estimate of 2.567 million. The prior week was revised lower to 2.574 million from 2.579 million, which is also a positive sign.

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