JTís DAILY BLOG for Month Of April 2013

Note: All previous month's posts are available in the archives, as noted above. 

All postings for the month are available here, sorted in descending order - i.e. most recent at the top. 

All times are Eastern Time - same as the NYSE

1st Posting for Monday 04/30/2013 9:30 AM

Stocks rallied strongly on Monday, putting to rest the thought that the long-predicted correction had started in mid-April, and would resume this week. Overnight, Asian markets ended mixed, with Japan and Shanghai down, Hong Kong, India, and Singapore up. I think I said the same thing yesterday. European markets are mostly trading in the red at this hour, with Germany being an exception, showing a decent gain. Several economic releases are on tap today: the Employment Cost Index for Q1, already out, at 0.3%, the Case-Shiller Index for February, the Chicago PMI for April, and the Consumer Confidence reading for April. U.S. futures are slightly negative, with less than an hour to go to the open.

Only one upgrade / downgrade on my stocks has come out this morning, as Boardwalk Pipeline Partners LP (BWP) was upgraded from UnderPerform to Neutral at Credit Suisse.

While not one of my stocks, Pitney Bowes (PBI), in the news this morning, offers an object lesson for dividend investors. No matter how long and stellar a record of steady payments a firm has, if the business is in secular decline, eventually the dividend will be cut or eliminated.

Earnings reported by some of my stocks so far this week are:

Boardwalk Pipeline Partners LP (BWP) reported yesterday that Q1 EPS was $0.42, beating by three cents. Revenue of $328.5M missed by $6.88M.

Eaton (ETN) reported yesterday that Q1 EPS was $0.84, beating by five cents. Revenue of $5.31B missed by $0.11B.

Enterprise Products Partners (EPD) reported this morning that Q1 EPS was $0.83. Revenue of $11.38B missed by $0.18B.

Pfizer (PFE) reported Q1 EPS of $0.54, missing by a penny. Revenue of $13.5B missed by $0.6B.

Public Service Enterprise Group (PEG) reported Q1 EPS of $0.85, beating by twelve cents.

NextEra Energy (NEE) reported Q1 EPS of $1.12, beating by ten cents.

HCP (HCP) reported Q1 EPS of $0.74, beating by two cents. Revenue was $516.3M.

Diebold (DBD) reported a loss, with Q1 EPS of -$0.21, missing by $0.39. Revenue of $633.5M, down 9.3% Y/Y, missed by $25.51. This report was a disaster. We canít fire the CEO, we already did that, and we are still looking for a replacement, unless I missed it. All I can say is, Iím glad I only have a modest position. DBD is in for a rough day.

Time to get ready for the dayís action.

JT

1st Posting for Monday 04/29/2013 9:30 AM

Stocks ended the day Friday with minor losses on the major averages, except for the Dow Industrials, which managed a small gain. For the week, however, all of the averages ended up higher than they closed out the previous Friday. Earnings season continues, with the reports last week somewhat improved from the prior week, accounting for at least some of the improvement in the stock averages.

Overnight, Asian markets ended mixed, with Japan and Shanghai down, Hong Kong, India, and Singapore up. European markets are mostly trading in the green at this moment, with Britain being an exception, showing a miniscule decline. Personal Income and Spending data for March was released at 8:30 AM, roughly in line with expectations. U.S. futures are positive, seemingly unaffected by the economic release, with less than an hour to go to the opening bell. 

I have only a couple of analyst actions to report on my stocks this morning:

Breitburn Energy Partners LP (BBEP) was downgraded from OutPerform to Neutral at Robert W. Baird.

Digital Realty Trust (DLR) was downgraded from Buy to Neutral at ISI Group.

Only a couple or three of my stocks will be going ex-dividend this week:

Realty Income (O), 4/29/2013, yield 4.38%. O pays monthly.

Plains All American Pipeline LP (PAA), 5/1/2013, yield 4.04%.

HCP Inc (HCP), 5/2/2013, yield 3.98%.

Another long list of my stocks will be reporting this week. Anticipated reports, by date, are as follows. Reports are before the market opens, unless otherwise noted:

4/29/2013

Eaton Corp (ETN).

Boardwalk Pipeline Partners (BWP).

Mercury General (MCY).

Annaly Capital Management (NLY), after market hours.

4/30/2013

NextEra Energy (NEE).

Public Service Enterprise Group (PEG).

Pfizer (PFE).

Amerigas Partners LP (APU), after market hours.

Diebold (DBD).

Enterprise Products Partners LP (EPD).

HCP Inc (HCP).

ONEOK Partners LP (OKS), after market hours.

Safety Insurance Group (SAFT), no time given.

5/1/2013

Biomed Realty Trust (BMR), after market hours.

Exelon (EXC).

Kimco Realty (KIM), after market hours.

MFA Financial (MFA).

5/2/2013

Kraft Foods Group (KRFT), after market hours.

Royal Dutch Shell PLC (RDS.B), no time given.

Statoil ASA (STO), no time given.

Magellan Midstream Partners LP (MMP).

Blackrock Kelso Capital (BKCC), no time given.

Hercules Technology Growth Capital (HTGC), after market hours.

Kayne Anderson Energy Development (KED), no time given.

American Capital Agency (AGNC), after market hours.

Exterran Partners LP (EXLP), no time given.

5/3/2013

Alliant Energy (LNT).

Buckeye Partners LP (BPL).

Spectra Energy Partners LP (SEP).

Pennantpark Investment (PNNT), no time given.

It will be interesting to see if the recovery from the correction, which so far was barely a mini-correction, with just one down week in mid-April, continues, or if the decline resumes.

JT

1st Posting for Friday 04/26/2013 9:30 AM

Stocks managed to end the day Thursday with modest gains, although prior to 2:00 PM or so it appeared the gains would be more substantial. The cold water dousing came from Europe, where a news leak indicated that the Bundesbank had advised a German Court against supporting / allowing the European Central Bank to implement Outright Monetary Transactions, a tool needed by the ECB in dealing with the ongoing European Governmental Debt crisis.  

Overnight, Asian markets turned in mixed results, with Japan, Shanghai, and India down, Hong Kong and Singapore up. European markets are uniformly trading in the red at this hour. The main economic release of the day has come out, as the government reports 1st Quarter GDP came in at 2.5%, while the Chain Deflator, which indicates inflationary trends, came in at 1.2%. Both readings were a little less favorable than expected. U.S. futures are negative, with less than 15 minutes to go to the open.

One late-day upgrade / downgrade came out yesterday after I posted, as Procter & Gamble (PG) was downgraded from Buy to Neutral at B. Riley & Co.

A few more analyst actions on my stocks have been observed this morning:

Exterran Partners LP (EXLP) was downgraded this morning from OutPerform to Neutral at Credit Suisse.

Exxon Mobil (XOM) was downgraded from Buy to Neutral at ISI Group.

Eaton (ETN) as initiated into coverage at Buy at SunTrust.

Unilever (UL) was upgraded from Sell to Hold at Societe Generale.

One earnings report that came out yesterday after I posted was Realty Income (O), which reported Q1 FFO of $0.60, beating by two cents. Revenue of $171.7M beat by $4.6M.

A couple of reports that came out this week that I missed were:

AT&T (T) reported Tuesday that Q1 EPS was $0.64, in-line. Revenue of $31.40B, down 1% Y/Y, missed by $340M. I donít know how I missed that one. T is a high-profile company.

Northrop Grumman (NOC) reported Wednesday that Q1 EPS was $2.03, beating by thirty-two cents. Revenue of $6.10B beat by $0.14B.

Eni (E) reported Thursday that Q1 profit declined 42% Y/Y, in line with expectations, because of a sharp fall in total oil and gas output, due to unexpected shutdowns at operations in Libya, Nigeria and the U.K.

This morning, a few more of my stocks reported:

Total (TOT) reported Q1 adjusted net profit was down 7.1% to Ä2.86B, slightly below consensus of Ä2.95B. Net profit was down 58% to Ä1.54B, due to higher taxes and a Ä1.25B loss related to the sale of a Canadian oil sands project. Revenues were down 6% to Ä48.13B.

American Electric Power (AEP) reported Q1 EPS of $0.80, missing by a penny.  Revenue of $3.8B beat by $0.02B.

Digital Realty Trust (DLR) reported Q1 FFO of $1.18, in-line. Revenue of $358.3M beat by $5.01M.

Ventas (VTR) reported Q1 EPS of $1.03, beating by three cents. Revenue of $684.8M beat by $22.24M.

Chevron (CVX) reported Q1 EPS of $3.18, beating by eleven cents. Revenue of $56.8B missed by $10.07B.

Medical Properties Trust (MPW) reported Q1 FFO of $0.25, missing by a penny.  Revenue of $58.44M missed by $0.96M.

Time to publish, itís getting late.

JT

1st Posting for Thursday 04/25/2013 9:30 AM

Stocks turned in a mixed performance Wednesday, with the Dow Industrials ending with a small loss, the S & P 500 flat, and the NASDAQ, New York Composite, and Russell 2000 with small gains. Overnight, Asian markets mostly ended with gains, with Shanghai being the exception, posting a small loss. European markets are mostly trading in the green at this hour, but not by much. Spain is the exception, showing a minor decline. European markets are a little more than half way through the trading day at this point. U.S. futures are positive, with nearly an hour to go as I write this.

The weekly reading on Initial Claims for Unemployment will be released shortly. In fact, it just came out, at 339K, which is lower than the consensus expectation, which I suppose will be received positively by the market.

Upgrades / downgrades out this morning on my stocks are:

Annaly Capital (NLY) was upgraded from UnderPerform to Market Perform at FBR Capital.

Waste Management (WM) was upgraded from Hold to Buy at Wunderlich.

Potlatch (PCH) was upgraded from Market Perform to OutPerform at Raymond James.

NuStar Energy LP (NS) was downgraded from OutPerform to Market Perform at Raymond James.

Procter & Gamble (PG) was upgraded from Neutral to Buy at SunTrust.  

Turning now to earnings reported by my stocks, I have a few. First, from yesterday:

Novartis (NVS) reported Q1 EPS of $1.32, beating by four cents. Revenue of $14B, up 2% Y/Y, missed by $0.02B.

Procter & Gamble (PG) reported FQ3 EPS of $0.99, beating by three cents. Revenue of $20.6B, up 2% Y/Y, missed by $0.14B. The stock dropped on revenue and competitive concerns from recent all-time highs after the report.

General Dynamics (GD) reported Q1 EPS of $1.62, beating by twelve cents. Revenue of $7.4B missed by $0.18B.

Southern (SO) reported Q1 EPS of $0.49, missing by a penny. Revenue of $3.89B beat by $0.14B.

Waste Management (WM) reported Q1 EPS of $0.40, in-line. Revenue of $3.34B missed by $0.02B.

Dr Pepper Snapple (DPS) reported Q1 EPS of $0.53, beating by seven cents. Revenue of $1.38B, up 1% Y/Y, missed by $0.01B.

NuStar Energy (NS) reported Q1 EPS of $0.06. Revenue of $999.7M beat by $340.07M.

Then, so far today, we have:

Colgate-Palmolive (CL) reported Q1 EPS of $1.32, in-line. Revenue of $4.31B beat by $0.01B.

Altria (MO) reported Q1 EPS of $0.54, beating by a penny. Revenue of $5.52B, down 2.1% Y/Y, still beat consensus estimates by $1.48B.

Raytheon (RTN) reported Q1 EPS of $1.56, beating by twenty-eight cents. Revenue of $5.87B beat by $0.17B.

Entergy (ETR) reported Q1 EPS of $0.94, beating by two cents. Revenue of $2.61B beat by $0.03B.

ConocoPhillips (COP) reported Q1 EPS of $1.42, in-line.

3M (MMM) reported Q1 EPS of $1.61, missing by four cents. Revenue of $7.6B, up 2% Y/Y, missed by $0.21B.

SCANA Corp (SCG) reported Q1 EPS of $1.13, beating by seven cents. Revenue of $1.31B beat by $0.09B.

United Parcel (UPS) reported Q1 EPS of $1.04, beating by two cents. Revenue of $13.43B missed by $0.04B.

Exxon Mobil (XOM) reported Q1 EPS of $2.12, beating by seven cents. Revenue of $108.8B missed by $11.03B.

Raytheon (RTN) reported Q1 EPS of $1.49, beating by twenty-one cents. Revenue of $5.9B beat by $0.2B.

Penn Virginia (PVR) reported Q1 EPS of -$0.17. Revenue of $263.4M missed by $31.56M. Look for this MLP to take a hit today.

Whew! That is enough for the moment. Iím adding Newmont Mining (NEM) to my Tier3 list. With the slide in the shares over the past six months and a 4% yield, I believe it is a decent value-stock speculation. I bought some recently at the lows, and I may add more if it either goes down further, presenting an even better value, or goes up, lest I miss out. If it stays in the $33 to $34 range, I will just hold.

JT

1st Posting for Wednesday 04/24/2013 9:30 AM

Stocks managed a substantial rally Tuesday, one brief moment notwithstanding. A false report indicating the White House had been attacked, which was quickly repudiated, caused a big drop around 1:00 PM, but the decline reversed completely moments after it began. Overnight, Asian markets rallied strongly, and European markets are performing similarly, with the exception of Italy, which is down .5%. U.S. futures are flat, with a slightly negative bias, after a disappointing Durable Orders report, out at 8:30 AM.

Several upgrades / downgrades on my stocks have come out this morning:

Realty Income (O) was downgraded from OutPerform to Neutral at RW Baird.

Greif Inc (GEF, GEF.B) was initiated at Neutral at Global Hunter.

Ventas (VTR) was downgraded from Buy to Hold at Jeffries.

Ares Capital (ARCC) was upgraded from Neutral to OverWeight at JP Morgan.

AT&T (T) was downgraded from Buy to Neutral at Citigroup.

ConocoPhillips (COP) was initiated at Sector Perform by Howard Weil.

COP was also initiated at Hold by Cowen.  

 I will update earnings on my stocks in my next posting, as there are quite a few. It is time to see whether the correction is over, as it seemed yesterday, or if it is going to resume. Even after the down days we have had recently, we have also had enough up sessions to move the major averages most of the way back to the peaks reached a couple of weeks ago.

JT

1st Posting for Tuesday 04/23/2013 9:00 AM

After gyrating above and below the flat line for most of the day, stocks broke the stalemate in the last hour of trade to post decent gains on the major averages. A tepid number for Existing Home Sales contributed to the earlier negative sentiment, but as the day wore on, the gloom evaporated. Overnight, Asian markets mostly declined, Shanghai by more that 2%. Only India managed a small advance. Surprisingly, Europe is posting a strongly positive day so far, with all five of the major bourses headlined by MarketWatch presenting advances exceeding 1%. France and Spain are exceeding 2%. More Housing data is on tap today, with the FHFA Housing Index at 9:00 AM, and New Home Sales at 10:00 AM. U.S. futures are positive at the moment.

I have only two upgrades/ downgrades to report this morning:

Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP (KMP) was downgraded from Buy to Neutral at Janney Capital, citing valuation.

American Electric Power (AEP) was downgraded from Buy to Neutral at SunTrust, also citing valuation.

A couple of my stocks have already reported this morning:

Potlatch (PCH) reported Q1 EPS of $0.38, beating by eleven cents. Revenue of $139.3M beat by $7.15M.

Reynolds American (RAI) reported Q1 EPS of $0.72, beating by three cents. Revenue of $1.88B missed by $0.04B.

Time to publish and get ready for todayís action.

JT

1st Posting for Monday 04/22/2013 9:00 AM

Stocks ended Friday with decent gains on the day, but not the week, as significant down days on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday were more than up days on Tuesday and Friday could overcome. The question now is, will the market resume the upward trend, or will the long-predicted correction take hold?

Overnight, Asian markets mostly ended higher, with only Shanghai posting a small decline. European markets are all trading in the green at this hour. U.S. futures are positive, indicating stocks will start the week on an up note. The only economic release scheduled for today is New Home sales, due out at 10:00 AM.

Upgrades / downgrades out this AM on my stocks are:

McDonalds (MCD) was downgraded from Buy to OutPerform at CLSA.

Verizon (VZ) was downgraded from OutPerform to Neutral at MacQuarie.

General Electric (GE) was downgraded from OverWeight to Neutral at JP Morgan.

Several of my stocks will be going ex-dividend this week:

Procter & Gamble (PG), 4/24/2013, yield 2.95%, reflecting the inflated price.

Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP (KMP), 4/25/2013, yield 5.72%.

Alliant Energy (LNT), 4/26/2013, yield 3.62%.

Conagra Foods (CAG), 4/26/2013, yield 2.77&.

Enterprise Products Partners LP (EPD), 4/26/2013, yield 4.41%.

ONEOK Partners LP (OKS), 4/26/2013, yield 5.13%.

Prospect Capital Corp (PSEC), 4/26/2013, yield 12.38%. PSEC pays monthly.

Before getting into which stocks on my lists are scheduled to report this week, I will catch up with Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP (KMP), which reported last week, but was overlooked. KMP reported Wednesday that Q1 EPS was $0.97, and that revenue was $2.66B, beating by $0.2B.

Now, onward to the firms scheduled to report this week, by date. All U.S. firmsí reports are scheduled before market hours, unless otherwise noted. Foreign firms are during the daytime as per the host country, and can be at odd times here.

4/22/2013

American Electric Power (AEP), per E*Trade. Of course, AEP was supposed to be the lead-off hitter last week, also per E*Trade. Maybe this week AEP will show up in the batterís box.

4/23/2013

Potlatch (PCH).

AT&T (T), after market hours.

Reynolds American (RAI).

4/24/2013

Procter & Gamble (PG).

General Dynamics (GD).

Northrop Grumman (NOC).

Novartis A G (NVS).

Southern Co (SO).

Waste Management (WM).

Dr Pepper Snapple (DPS).

ENI S P A (E), reporting from Italy.

NuStar Energy LP (NS).

4/25/2013

ConocoPhillips (COP).

Colgate Palmolive (CL).

3M Co (MMM).

Altria (MO).

Realty Income (O).

Raytheon (RTN).

SCANA Corp (SCG).

United Parcel Service (UPS).

Exxon Mobil (XOM).

Entergy (ETR).

PVR Partners LP (PVR).

4/26/2013

Chevron (CVX).

Digital Realty (DLR).

Total S A (TOT), reporting from France.

Ventas (VTR).

Time to start the week. Will it be up or down? No one knows at this point, certainly not I. But I will say Iím ready for whichever way it goes, with a plan of action in either case.

JT

1st Posting for Friday 04/19/2013 9:30 AM

Stocks had another down day on Thursday, as the worldwide economic slowdown becomes ever more apparent. Overnight, Asian markets mostly ended with substantial gains, with Singapore the only loser, with a very small decline. European markets are likewise trading mostly in the green at this hour, with only Germany showing a small loss. There are no economic reports due out today. U.S. futures are positive, with less than an hour to go to the open.

Fifth Street Finance (FSC) was upgraded yesterday from Sell to Hold at Gifford Securities. Other than that, I have no analyst actions on my stocks to report.

Turning now to earnings, several of my stocks reported yesterday and today:

First, in the wee hours (here) Thursday morning, Nestle (NSRGY) reported Q1 revenues were up 5.4% to 21.9B Swiss francs ($23.52B) vs. consensus of 22.58B francs. Also, underlying sales were up +4.3%.

Philip Morris International (PM) reported Thursday that Q1 EPS was $1.29, missing by five cents. Revenue of $7.6B beat by $0.08B.

Also Thursday, Pepsico (PEP) reported that Q1 EPS was $0.77, beating by seven cents.  Revenue of $12.6B, up 1% Y/Y, missed by $0.01B.

Verizon (VZ) on Thursday reported Q1 EPS of $0.68, beating by two cents. Revenue of $29.4B, up 4.2% Y/Y, missed by $0.16B.

Just before the open Thursday, Nucor (NUE) reported Q1 EPS of $0.26, in-line. Revenue was $4.55B, missing by $0.06B.

After the close yesterday, Microsoft (MSFT) reported FQ3 EPS of $0.72, beating by four cents. Revenue of $20.49B missed by $71M.

This morning, General Electric (GE) reported Q1 EPS of $0.39, beating by four cents. Revenue of $35.0B beat by $0.3B.

Kimberly-Clark (KMB) reported this AM that Q1 EPS was $1.48, beating by fifteen cents. Revenue of $5.32B beat by $0.04B. With a report like that, this overvalued staple will likely become even more overvalued.

Also this morning, McDonalds (MCD) reported Q1 EPS of $1.26, in-line. Revenue of $6.61B beat by $0.02B.

Time to post, Iím running behind once again.

JT

1st Posting for Thursday 04/18/2013 9:30 AM

Stocks suffered another sharp decline on Wednesday, making it three out of the last four trading days to witness such action. Overnight, Asian stocks ended mixed, with Japan and Hong Kong down, Shanghai, India, and Singapore up. European markets are all trading in the green at this hour. U.S. futures indicate the market is in for a rebound here today, at least at the start of the day.

The major economic release of the day has already come out, as the weekly reading on Claims for Unemployment was slightly higher than expected, confirming along with other data points that the U.S. economy has definitely slowed to a crawl, and is at risk of tipping over into recession if things do not pick up.

I have noticed a couple of analyst actions on my stocks this morning:

United Parcel Service (UPS) was upgraded from Sector Perform to OutPerform at RBC Capital.

Spectra Energy (SE) was upgraded from Neutral to OverWeight at Atlantic Equities.

Earnings season continues today with several big names due to report: MicroSoft (MSFT), Pepsico (PEP), and Verizon (VZ), to name three which are on my lists.

As we, as a nation, are still reeling from the Boston bombing, news out last night of a huge explosion at a fertilizer plant not far from here (Austin) has added to the sense of unease. Sometimes the world is just not a pleasant place. Time to post, it is nearly 9:30 AM.

JT

1st Posting for Wednesday 04/17/2013 9:30 AM

Stocks rebounded on Tuesday, recovering about half, or maybe a bit more than half, of the losses sustained on Monday. That is per the major stock averages. Individual stocks obviously fared better or worse than the averages, so the recovery of a given portfolio may not have been as much as the averages. Overnight, Asian markets finished mostly with modest losses, while Japan managed a 1.2% gain. European markets are trading down at this hour, over 1% in several instances. While all of the Euro nations are economically suffering, the Southern European members of the Euro Zone, which have had the banking and sovereign debt crises, are in a state that can only be described as a depression.

There are minimal economic releases due out today, just the weekly reading on energy supplies and the Fedís Beige Book, the latter due out at 2:00 PM. U.S. futures are sharply down, suggesting the recovery from Monday, that was experienced Tuesday, will likely not continue today.

A couple of upgrades / downgrades from yesterday that I missed were:

Ventas (VTR) was downgraded from Buy to Neutral at Citigroup.

Spectra Energy Partners LP (SEP) was downgraded from Buy to Neutral at Citigroup.

Wal-Mart (WMT) was initiated at Buy by UBS.

I have not seen any analyst actions today on any of the stocks I follow.

Turning now to earnings on my stocks, we have a few:

Coca-Cola (KO) reported Tuesday morning that Q1 EPS was $0.46, beating by a penny. Revenue was $11.04B, missing by $0.01B.

Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), also reporting Tuesday morning, stated that Q1 EPS was $1.44, beating by four cents. Revenue was $17.5B, up +8.5% Y/Y, beating by $0.04B.

Then, after the close yesterday, Intel (INTC) reported that Q1 EPS was $0.40, missing by a penny. Revenue was $12.58B, down 2.5% Y/Y, missing by $30M. Management expects Q2 revenue of $12.4B-$13.4B vs. $12.9B consensus. Also, they expect "low single-digit" 2013 revenue growth, unchanged from prior guidance, which compares with 0.7% consensus. They lowered the 2013 capex guidance range by $1B, to $11.5B-$12.5B.

Time to publish, Iím running behind.

JT

1st Posting for Tuesday 04/16/2013 8:45 AM

Stocks sold off hard on Monday, with the decline continuing throughout the trading day. Commodities, especially precious metals, sold off even harder. The day ended with all of the major stock averages posting major declines. It was the most significant sell off seen in over five months, per MarketWatch. Gold and Silver fared even worse than stocks, with the representative ETFs GLD and SLV down over 9% and 10%, respectively. Oil was also down, dropping below $90. The first reports out of Boston came out while the market was open, which caused the sell off to accelerate into the close. 

Overnight, Asian markets ended mixed. Japan and Hong Kong were down less than .5%, while Shanghai, Singapore, and India were up, India over 2%. European markets are all trading in the red at this hour, but the declines are fairly modest. U.S. futures are strongly positive, indicating a bounce-back is in store, at least at the start of the dayís trade.

No sign of any report from American Electric Power (AEP), which per E*Trade was to have reported yesterday. Iíll keep watching for it. I sold some of my Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) yesterday at $83, just as the day was getting under way. I offered out my General Mills (GIS) at $50, but it never got there. I regrettably sold a July $77.50 call option against my Procter & Gamble (PG) a few weeks ago, or I would have taken advantage of the rise to $80, and sold off some PG by now. At the time I sold the call, PG was around $74, already over-priced, and unlikely to exceed the call price, so I thought. PG just announced a dividend yesterday, with an ex-dividend date of 4/24/2013, so I suspect the shares will be called away. That illustrates the downside of covered call selling Ė you can lose out on some upside plus also lose a dividend. Itís great when it works, when the stock never gets to the call price, just like free money. But even when you mentally agreed you would be happy to sell at the strike price, you canít help but mentally regret the decision when the stock goes on up beyond it, especially if the stock is called away just before a dividend.

Back to today. Economic data due out this morning includes the Consumer Price Index, Housing Starts, Building Permits, Industrial Production, and Capacity Utilization, all for March. Also, earnings from Intel (INTC), Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), and Coca Cola (KO) will be coming out. It should make for an interesting day.

JT

1st Posting for Monday 04/15/2013 9:00 AM

Just one week after plunging, following a severely disappointing monthly Jobs report, stocks plunged again on the most recent Friday morning, after a week of steady gains had been achieved, following the prior Friday dip. This time, however, the recovery did not wait for the following week, but rather started a little before noon the same day. Stocks continued to gain ground throughout the afternoon, and by the end of the day, the Dow Industrials made it back to even, and the other major averages ended with only small losses.   

Overnight, Asian markets mostly sold off, with Japan, Shanghai, and Hong Kong over 1%. Only India closed in the green. European markets are mostly trading in the red at this hour, with Italy being the lone exception, showing a tiny gain. U.S. futures are flashing red, indicating a lower open is in store.

None of my stocks have received any upgrades / downgrades so far today.

Only a few of my stocks will be going ex-dividend this week:

Nestle S A (NSRGY), 4/15/2013, yield 3.01%. If you donít already own it, youíll have to wait another year, since NSRGY only pays once a year.

Main Street Capital (MAIN), 4/17/2013, yield 6.00%. MAIN pays monthly.

Kayne Anderson Energy (KED), 4/17/2013, yield 6.63%.

Gladstone Investment Corp (GAIN), 4/18/2013, yield 8.11%. GAIN pays monthly.

Colgate Palmolive (CL), 4/19/2013, yield 2.30%, reflecting the huge price run up the stock has had the past two years.

Earnings season gets in a higher gear this week, with a number of my stocks scheduled to report. By date, the reports expected are as follows:

4/15/2013

American Electric Power (AEP), before market hours.

4/16/2013

Intel (INTC), after market hours.

Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), before market hours.

Coca-Cola (KO), before market hours.

4/18/2013

MicroSoft (MSFT), after market hours.

Phillip Morris (PM), before market hours.

Pepsico (PEP), before market hours.

Verizon (VZ), before market hours.

Nucor (NUE), before market hours.

4/19/2013

General Electric (GE), before market hours.

Kimberly Clark (KMB), before market hours.

McDonalds Corp (MCD), before market hours.

It will be an interesting week, with the continuing of the stock rally depending upon earnings. Everything else is bad Ė economic growth and jobs, geopolitical threats overhanging, Kobe Bryant out for the season, and so on. OK, maybe that last item is not as impactful as the other issues, but the point is, earnings surprising to the upside is probably the only hope the bulls have to keep the rally going.

JT

1st Posting for Friday 04/12/2013 9:15 AM

Stocks continued to rally on Thursday, reaching new highs on the Dow Industrials and S & P 500 Indexes once again. Ho hum, so what else is new? It is becoming that routine, it seems. But today may see a break in the onward and upward trend, as the futures are indicating a negative start for the trading day, following disappointing Retail Sales data for March. Overnight, Asian markets all traded down, with India declining over 1.6%. European markets are likewise all trading in the red at this hour, most down over 1%. I do not see any single catalyst for the changed mood, other than all the usual suspects, plus the fact that it is probably just time for a down day, after a week of gains.

The MarketWatch headline reports JP Morgan (JPM) and Wells Fargo (WFC) both reported increased profits, the implication being that the big banks are still doing well. But it was not enough to lift the pre-market mood.

Turning now to upgrades / downgrades out this morning on my stocks, we have a few:

Norfolk Southern (NSC) was upgraded from Market Perform to OutPerform at FBR Capital.

Waste Management (WM) was initiated at Hold by Stifel.

Three soft-drink firms, Coca Cola (KO), Pepsico (PEP), and Dr Pepper Snapple (DPS), were all downgraded from Buy to Neutral at Davenport.

MicroSoft (MSFT) received another downgrade, from Buy to OutPerform, at CLSA.

It will be interesting to see if the downbeat mood holds, or if buyers swoop in to buy the dip, assuming we even have a dip.

JT

1st Posting for Thursday 04/11/2013 8:00 AM

Stocks rallied strongly on Wednesday, confirming that the downbeat jobs report from last Friday and the accompanying sell off was a temporary halt to the bull run, not the beginning of a major correction. The latter could still occur at any moment, as stocks are somewhat extended, but so far has not begun. Overnight, Asian markets ended mostly in the green, with Japan up nearly 2%. Only Shanghai presented a decline, and a very small one at that. European markets are all trading in the green as well at this hour. While it is early, U.S. futures are slightly positive just now. The Weekly Unemployment Claims release, due out at 8:30 AM, could change the generally upbeat mood that currently exists. Also due out at 8:30 AM are import and export price percentage changes for March.

The market from this point will be mostly driven by earnings as reported, as we get into earnings season. Of course, dramatic geo-political or economic events could trump earnings as a market driver at any time, but in the absence of such, earnings will dictate the market mood over the next few weeks.

Only one of my stocks has been tagged this morning with new ratings, but it is a significant tag, rating a headline on MarketWatch. The stock is MicroSoft (MSFT), which was downgraded from Neutral to Sell at Goldman. The stock was also downgraded by Nomura, from Buy to Neutral. The driver of the downgrade was a worse than expected report of 1st quarter PC shipments from a market research firm, IDC, and ďa lack of traction in tablets and smartphonesĒ.

If the stock drops below $28, I will add to my position.

JT

1st Posting for Wednesday 04/10/2013 9:15 AM

Stocks rallied on Tuesday, although a retreat from the highs occurred during the last hour. Still, all of the major averages ended the day with healthy gains. Overnight, Asian markets ended mostly in the green, with the exception of Singapore, which posted a small loss. European markets are trading up strongly at this hour, with most bourses up over 1%. U.S. futures are positive, with less than half an hour to go to the open. If you are a bull, there is much to like about this market.

I have seen only one analyst action this AM on stocks I follow, as ONEOK Partners LP (OKS) was downgraded from Neutral to Sell at Goldman. The driver for the downgrade was lower NGL prices expected. Price target was reduced from $58 to $53. Like most MLPís, OKS is over-valued at the current price, $57.06 as of Tuesdayís close.

I sold my holdings of Exterran Partners LP (EXLP) yesterday, at what was then an all-time high of $27.75. The stock went up as high as $28.00, before closing at $27.80. There is nothing wrong with EXLP, but like nearly everything now, it is severely over-valued, and I just felt the need to take some money off the table somewhere. Plus, I am a little uncomfortable holding too many MLPs, and I have been considering where I could lighten up my MLP exposure.

JT

1st Posting for Tuesday 04/09/2013 9:15 AM

Stocks dipped at the open on Monday, but after meandering along under the flat line most of the morning and into the early afternoon, the market rallied strongly in the final couple of hours of trade, to end the day with decent, though not spectacular, gains. It has to go down as a win for the bulls, but maybe not convincing enough to bury the bears once again just yet, which has been the case after every other recent brief sell off, as each has seen the bulls regaining control. After the close, Alcoa (AA) kicked off the initial start of earnings season by beating on EPS while missing on revenue, but overall reporting pretty decent results. U.S. futures are positive, with less than an hour to go to the open.

Regarding foreign markets, Asian markets closed before the U.S. trading day Monday with small losses on all bourses except Japan, which exploded upwards with a 2.8% gain. European markets traded mostly with small gains before the U.S. open, with only Italy and Spain showing tiny declines. Thus, the U.S. market was not unduly influenced by what had occurred overseas before the week began. Moving ahead to foreign action ahead of the start of trade on Tuesday here, Asian markets closed up for Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Singapore, flat for Japan, and down a little over 1% for India. European stock markets are all trading in the green at this hour.

Four of my stocks received upgrades / downgrades on Monday:

Public Service Enterprise Group (PEG) was downgraded from Buy to Hold at Argus.       

Sysco (SYY) was downgraded from Neutral to UnderPerform at Cleveland Research.

Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) was downgraded from OverWeight to Neutral at JP Morgan.

Northrop Grumman (NOC) was upgraded from UnderWeight to Neutral at JP Morgan.

Moving on to upgrades / downgrades coming out so far on Tuesday, we have three in the beaten-down rural telecom sector:

Windstream (WIN), Frontier Communications (FTR), and CenturyLink (CTL) were all initiated at Hold by Deutsche Bank. These firms are all struggling to maintain their hefty dividend payouts, even after a couple of cuts. As land line revenues continue to decline, they will no doubt continue to struggle.

Today will perhaps determine whether a correction is in store, or instead, a resumption of the bull run.

JT

1st Posting for Monday 04/08/2013 Posted 04/06/2013 10:30 PM

The grand finale of my week in Florida at Disney World occurred today, with a grueling day of not letting the grandkids get lost, fighting the crowds, and waiting in line making me appreciate the hot tub and a cold DOSXX at the end of the day. As I will be traveling the next couple of days, I decided to attempt my first posting tonight, if the Internet connection holds.

Friday, the Monthly Employment report punctuated a week or two of lackluster economic data, and the market seemed to finally get the picture, which is that the economy is slowing down. After a substantial downward opening, stocks actually recovered steadily all day from that point, recovering around 75% of the initial drop. Still, all of the major averages posted losses on the day, but all were well under 1%. It remains to be seen if Friday marked the beginning of a sell off over the next few days, or not.

Several of my stocks will be going ex-dividend the week of April 8 through April 12:

General Mills (GIS), 4/8/2013, yield 2.71%.

Verizon (VZ), 4/8/2013, yield 4.16%.

Darden Restaurants (DRI), 4/8/2013, yield 3.96%.

General Dynamics (GD), 4/10/2013, yield 3.22%.

RPM International (RPM), 4/10/2013, yield 2.99%.

MFA Financial (MFA), 4/10/2013, yield 9.35%.

Consolidated Communications (CNSL), 4/11/2013, yield 8.86%.

None of my stocks report earnings this week.

It will be an interesting week. I believe the market is at a crossroad, and could break down or break out, either one is possible.

JT

1st Posting for Friday 04/05/2013 08:45 AM

After dropping all morning, stocks on Thursday recovered throughout the afternoon session to post gains on all the major averages. Overnight, Asian markets mostly posted losses, with Japan being an exception, closing up over 1%. European markets are trading mostly with losses, with only Italy holding on to a small gain. U.S. futures have taken a dark turn to the downside as we are minutes away from the Monthly Employment data for February. And now the fears have become reality, as the jobs added figure of 88K is the lowest reading since June of last year. The Unemployment Rate has come in at 7.6%, a slight decline, but the improvement is entirely due to a drop in the labor force participation, at a low last seen in 1979. Lost in the deluge was a slight improvement in the Trade Balance. The futures, already down, took another dip after the data release.

It seems anticlimactic after the jobs report, but there are three analyst actions on my stocks to report this morning:

McDonalds (MCD) wes initiated at OverWeight at Stephens.

Kimberly Clark (KMB) was downgraded from Market Perform to UnderPerform at BMO Capital, citing valuation.

MFA Financial (MFA) was downgraded from Buy to Hold at Jeffries.

It is hard for me to see how the stock rally can continue in light of the latest Jobs data. A down day is definitely shaping up for today. Recent data has been weak, with todayís release just confirming what we have been seeing. The question now is, will this trigger the long-expected correction, or will the market inexplicably shake off the bad news and keep on going up. My guess is that the correction is finally going to happen Ė but I have thought that several times recently, and been wrong several times as well.

JT

1st Posting for Thursday 04/04/2013 09:30 AM

Stocks on Wednesday gave back all of the gains from the Tuesday rally, plus a little more, as a weak ADP Employment number and ISM Services reading combined to spook the market. Today, with a disappointing Weekly Claims for Unemployment reading, the futures are flat, after it had looked like a rebound might be in store, based on an earlier read of the futures. Overnight, Asian markets declined, except for Japan, which gained over 2%. European markets are all trading with small declines, except for Italy, which is currently showing a minor gain. As noted, the U.S. futures are flat, with no major additional economic readings due out today.

A number of upgrades / downgrades have come out this morning on stocks I follow:

Digital Realty (DLR) had coverage resumed at Buy at Goldman.

CenturyLink (CTL) was upgraded from Neutral to OverWeight at JP Morgan.

MicroSoft (MSFT) was downgraded from Buy to Neutral at BofA/Merrill.

Pepsico (PEP) was downgraded from Buy to OutPerform at CLSA.    

Triangle Capital (TCAP) was upgraded from Market Perform to OutPerform at Raymond James.

I expect a slow day today, as most market players will be reluctant to do much ahead of the Friday Unemployment report.

JT

1st Posting for Wednesday 04/03/2013 09:15 AM

Well, shoot! I just noticed the website did not update, even though it indicated success. I'll try again, as the market is closing.

The stock rally resumed on Tuesday, although after a morning surge, an end of day pop was needed to get more than half way back to the early highs. Still, with the Dow Industrials setting yet another new high, it was impressive. Overnight, Japan surged nearly 3%, Singapore managed a modest gain, and Shanghai, Hong Kong, and India all ended in negative territory, India down over 1%. European markets are all trading down at this hour, with Italy and Spain each down over 1%. An anemic data release on Employment from ADP has cooled the futures to the flat line after they were up earlier. The ADP report is often a harbinger for the all important Monthly Employment report from the Department of Labor, due out Friday, the first Friday of April. If that is the case this time, it does not bode well for an encouraging report coming up on Friday.

 I have noticed only one upgrade / downgrade this morning on my stocks, as NextEra Energy (NEE) was upgraded from Neutral to Conviction Buy at Goldman.

Verizon (VZ) denied the M & A rumors regarding Vodafone (VOD), and the shares gave back some of the early gains.

The rally may stall out for a day or two, as the market awaits the Friday jobs report. The movement after that will probably depend more than usual on the Friday numbers.

JT

1st Posting for Tuesday 04/02/2013 10:30 AM

Running behind this morning, but better late than never. Monday, U.S. stocks barely moved, ending a lackluster session with small losses on the major averages. Overnight, Asian markets finished mixed, with Japan and Shanghai posting declines, while Hong Kong, India, and Singapore posted gains. European markets are all trading in the green as the European market day draws to a close, now less than an hour away. As the futures had indicated pre-market, U.S. stocks are shrugging off a slow start to the month yesterday, back into rally mode today.

Only one upgrade / downgrade has come out this morning on my stocks, as Exxon Mobil (XOM) was downgraded from OutPerform to Perform at Oppenheimer.

The only economic release of the day has already come out, as Factory Orders for February were up 3%, better than expected. U.S. auto and truck sales announcements for March will be announced throughout the day by the major manufacturers. A number have already come out, mostly very positive, contributing to the rally taking place this morning.

I added to my Vodafone (VOD) yesterday, and the stock is up over 4% today on takeover rumors. As I have always said, I would rather be lucky than smart, as that is the path to success in the market. Sometimes I get lucky, as the VOD purchase shows.

JT

2nd Posting for Monday 04/01/2013 9:00 AM

Well, here I am in Florida, facing a grueling week at Disney world with the grandkids. Internet connectivity seems to be OK.

Overnight, Asian markets mostly posted losses, Japan over 2%. Only India managed to eke out a small gain. European markets are doing a bit better, at the moment at least, with Italy being the only major market showing a loss. U.S. futures are nearly flat, with just a hint of a positive bias. The second quarter of 2013 commences today, as far as the market is concerned, and it will have to be very strong indeed to match the first quarter just ended.

We have a few upgrades / downgrades to report on this Monday morning:

Intel (INTC) was downgraded from OutPerform to Market Perform at JMP Securities.

Williams Partners LP (WPZ) was initiated at OutPerform at Credit Suisse.

Molson Coors (TAP) was upgraded from Neutral to Buy at Goldman.

Buckeye Partners LP (BPL) was downgraded from Buy to Hold at Deutsche Bank.

Plains All American Pipeline LP (PAA) was upgraded from Hold to Buy at Deutsche Bank.

Itís time to let the games begin.

JT

1st Posting for Monday 04/01/2013 Posted on Friday 03/29/2013 11:00 AM

Fittingly, stocks advanced on the last trading day of March 2013 to finally eclipse the 2007 high on the S & P 500, which is the most significant of all the major stock averages. The market opened up in positive territory on Thursday and never looked back, as this somewhat unexplainable rally continued unabated. Even though U.S. markets are closed Friday for the Easter holiday, the rest of the world continued on as per usual. Asian markets traded overnight mixed, with Japan, Shanghai, and India up, Hong Kong and Singapore down. European markets seem to be recovering from the Cyprus fiasco, with only Italy trading in the red at this hour, with the European trading day into the final hour.

I am publishing my initial April posting early, as I will be traveling and away from home next week, and I am not sure of Internet availability over that time span. I will strive to maintain my usual schedule, as much as possible.

Stocks on my lists going ex-dividend the first week of April are:

Raytheon Co (RTN), 4/1/2013, yield 3.74%.

Kimco Realty (KIM), 4/1/2013, yield 3.75%.

Sysco Corp (SYY), 4/3/2013, yield 3.18%.

Medtronic (MDT), 4/3/2013, yield 2.21%.

Enerplus (ERF), 4/3/2013, yield 7.40%. ERF pays $0.09 per share monthly.

Cisco Systems (CSCO), 4/4/2013, yield 3.3%. CSCO just announced a $0.03 per share dividend hike, a bump of 21%. With a $0.17 per share quarterly dividend and a closing price of $20.895 on 3/28/2013, I calculate the new yield at 3.3%, as shown. I had been waiting for this one, and even though it is a bit tardy, it was worth waiting for, as CSCO confirms for any remaining doubters that it is a dividend stock.

Universal Corp (UVV), 4/4/2013, yield 3.57%.

None of my stocks are scheduled to report earnings during the first week of April. The next round of quarterly earnings reports will be starting to come out as we move into the later days of April, with the first quarter of 2013 reporting season starting to commence.

JT