Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Market gains pared in the PM on profit taking

Dow advanced 113 (but off session highs), advancers over decliners better than 2-1 & NAZ added 44.  The MLP index rose 1+ to the 279s & the REIT index remained up 6+ to the 354s.  Junk bond funds crawled higher & Treasuries inched up in price.  Oil sank to the 68s (more below) & gold went up 2 to 1223.

AMJ (Alerian MLP Index tracking fund)

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US workers saw the largest increase in wages & benefits since 2008 (just prior to the stock market selloff), according to a new report from the Labor Dept.  The employment cost index, a gauge of total compensation for civilian workers, increased 0.6% in Q2.  The cost of pay & benefits jumped 2.8% in the 12-month period ended in Jun, the highest yearly growth rate in nearly a decade.  Wages alone gained 2.8% over the past 12 months, which also reflected a near 10-year high.  Growth in benefits outpaced wages in Q2.  Wages were up 0.5% & benefits, which cover health care, retirement plans & other items, jumped 0.9%.  That marks the fastest pace in 4 years.  Meanwhile, private workers fared better than the public sector.  Total compensation in the private industry rose 2.9%, while gov workers saw a 2.3% increase.  In a separate report, the Commerce Dept said the price index for personal consumption expenditures rose 2.2% year-over-year in Jun, another sign that inflation is trending higher.  The Federal Reserve plans to raise rates 2 more times in 2018, bringing the annual total to 4, to counter rising inflation.

US workers see biggest pay, benefit increase in 10 years

Pres Trump has indicated to staff that he won't try to shut down the federal gov before the midterm elections to try to win more money for a wall at the US-Mexico border, administration officials said.  Despite Trump's recent public threats that he saw "no problem" in shutting down the gov to secure backing for one of his key campaign promises, 2 officials said Trump recognized the political cost of a shutdown before the Nov elections & had assured staff he wouldn't provoke a fiscal crisis until after Election Day.

Trump indicates pre-election shutdown unlikely

Procter & Gamble (PG, a Dow stock & Dividend Aristocrat), reported quarterly earnings that topped expectations, though fell short on sales.  The revenue miss is likely to do little to allay investors concerns regarding continued shrinking market share amid increased competition from private label brands & upstart companies.  The maker of everyday household goods like Pantene hair products, Crest toothpaste & Charmin toilet paper reported net sales of $16.5B, less than the $16.54B anticipated.  It reported organic sales growth, which strips out the impact of currency & other adjustments, of 1%, less than the 2.3% anticipated. 
  • Adjusted earnings: 94¢ vs 90¢ the forecast
  • Revenue:        $16.50B vs $16.54B forecast
The Gillette shaving business continues to be a weak spot for the company, with net sales dropping 3% in its grooming business for the qtr.  PG blamed weakness in the business on "investments to improve consumer and customer value." The unit has seen increased competition over the past few years from cheaper rivals like Harry's.  "I do want to be very open about — we expect the competitive environment to stay very heavy for a while," CEO David Taylor said.  "We're going to address in each market online or offline what it takes to grow, because we clearly have the superior products."  "There is uncertainty and will be volatility with these pricing moves. They will negatively impact consumption. We'll have to adjust as we go, and as we learn," CFO Jon Moeller said.  More broadly, the Cincinnati company's profit margins were squeezed, hurt by rising commodity costs, shipping expenses & foreign exchange rates.  EPS was 73¢, down 14.9% from 84¢ in same qtr last year,  After accounting for restructuring costs, impact of tax act & costs to pay down early debt & the dissolution of a joint venture, core EPS was 94¢, an increase of 11% over the same qtr.   For fiscal 2019, the company said it is anticipating organic sales growth of 2-3% & it expects its core EPS to grow 3-8% up from its 2018 core EPS of $4.22.  The stock went up 61¢.
If you would like to learn more about PG, click on this link:

Procter & Gamble's sales come up short as competition eats into its business

Pfizer (PFE), a Dow stock, plans to increase research & development spending for the remainder of the year in a bid to accelerate the delivery of potential blockbuster treatments to market.  The drugmaker raised projections for spending on research to $7.7B to $8.1B from $7.4B & $7.9B previously.  PFE affirmed its expectation of 25-30 drugs from its pipeline to be approved thru 2022.  The company expects its business to be less affected by losses of exclusivity after 2020.  Spending plans were increased as its key branded treatments, including Eliquis, Ibrance & Xeljanz, continued to see strong growth in its latest qtr.  Sales of blood-thinner Eliquis grew 42% in Q2 from a year earlier to $889M.  Revenue from its innovative-health business rose 8% to $8.27B.  Overall revenue rose 4% to $13.47B, though currency movements provided a 3% lift.  However, PFE expects foreign exchange to turn into a headwind for the remainder of the year.  The company lowered its revenue target by $500M at the midpoint to between $53-55B, citing recent unfavorable currency moves.  The essential-health business, featuring off-patent brands & generics, continued to see sales fall in the latest qtr.  Sales of fibromyalgia treatment Lyrica dipped 3% to $1.22B.  The company lost exclusivity for Viagra at the end of last year & now faces pressure from generic brands.  Sales for Viagra fell 47% over the year to $185M.  EPS was 65¢.  Excluding one-time items, EPS was 81¢, ahead of estimates for 74¢.  The company said in Jul it plans to reorganize into 3 businesses -- innovative medicines, consumer health-care & established medicines -- as it determines the future of its over-the-counter medicines business.The stock rose 1.23.
If you would like to learn more about PFE, click on this link:

Pfizer to raise R&D spending to bolster pipeline

Oil prices fell, pushing crude benchmarks to their largest monthly decline in 2 years as OPEC's output appeared to reach a 2018 high in Jul.  West Texas Intermediate crude futures (WTI) ended trading down $1.37 (2%) at $68.76 a barrel, after rising more than 2% in the previous session.  Sep Brent crude futures fell 73¢ (1%) to $74.24 a barrel after rising nearly 1% yesterday.  The Sep contract expires later today & the more-active Oct contract was down $1.33 at $74.22.  For the month, WTI futures declined 7.3%, while Brent futures dropped 6.5%.  Both benchmarks posted the biggest monthly decline since Jul 2016.  A survey showed OPEC's output hit a 2018 high in Jul, reigniting concern about supply swamping demand.  The survey released yesterday suggests that OPEC increased production in Jul by 70K barrels per day (bpd) to 32.64M bpd, a high for the year.  Meanwhile, Russian energy minister Alexander Novak said last week that Russia's output will hit a new 30-year high of 11.02M bpd in 2018.  OPEC has pledged to offset the loss of Iranian supply as upcoming US sanctions have already started to cut exports from OPEC's 3rd-largest producer.  Pres Trump appeared to soften his approach to Iran, saying yesterday he would be willing to meet with Pres Rouhani without any preconditions.  Just a week ago Trump threatened on Twitter to unleash severe consequences on Iran.  Iranian officials rejected the proposal, urging Trump to first make up for withdrawing from the multilateral nuclear deal that the US had been a part of.

Oil posts worst monthly decline in 2 years, sinking 7.3% to end July at $68.76

The stock market finished the month on a plus note, but there was selling in the PM.  The Dow pulled back about 100 from its highs.  The Dow finished the month up more than 1K & near its highs since the selloff in late Jan.  The bulls still have major challenges extending this rally with so many unknowns, starting with US-China  trade.

Dow Jones Industrials

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