6 August 2020

1) Rocket Companies Inc., the parent company of Rocket Mortgage and Quicken Loans, is trying to raise $2 billion dollars with an IPO (Initial Public Offering) after an initial capital target of $3.3 billion dollars. The reduction in the number of shares offered is believed to be because of push back from investors, who considered the valuation of the company as to high. This is based on the company being more of a consumer based company rather than a technology based company. The downsizing may signal that the IPO market’s rebound is straining as the coronavirus pandemic deepens in America.

2) Entertainment giant Disney has announced that its streaming service Disney+ (pronounced Disney plus) has surpassed 60 million subscribers, which is well ahead of Disney’s target. Disney forecasted having 60 to 90 million subscribers by 2024, fueling speculation that Disney+ has won the first stage of the streaming wars. Netflix presently has 193 million paying subscribers, but with Disney+, which was just launched last November less than a year ago, it’s clear that Disney is very rapidly gaining on Netflix, and liable to be passed by Disney in the near future. More importantly, Disney should reach profitability very soon too, something hard for new streaming services to do.

3) The ‘Services PMI’ index from the Institute for Supply Management, posted its second monthly gain in July. This indicated that despite the rising number of Covid-19 cases, the services economy keeps recovering. There is a continued weakness in the international component of services with worries of how the international economy will eventually effect America’s recovery. Investors remain focused on earnings and hopes of a vaccine to push the economy upwards more. There is still the looming question of how many of the small businesses will survive the pandemic, and therefore how much of the economy will be changed by their demise.

4) Stock market closings for – 5 AUG 20:

Dow 27,201.52 up 373.05
Nasdaq 10,998.40 up 57.23
S&P 500 3,327.77 up 21.26

10 Year Yield: up at 0.54%

Oil: up at $42.20

24 July 2020

1) The parent company of Ann Taylor and Lane Bryant clothing chains, the Ascena Retail Group Inc., will close more than half its stores, a total of more than 1,000 stores. The troubled retailer was struggling like many other retailers to remain afloat, but the Covid-19 crisis tipped the scales into bankruptcy. Ascena has about 40,000 employees and there’s the expectation of cutting its 2,800 stores down to just 1,200 with significant losses of jobs. The chapter 11 will erase about $1 billion dollars in debt from its $12.5 billion dollars of liabilities, which includes $1.6 billion dollars of funded debt. Retailers have been among the hardest hit by Covid-19 lockdowns coupled with online shopping, which drained revenues and pushed so many retailers into bankruptcy.

2) Almost 16,000 restaurants have closed permanently from the Covid-19 pandemic, an indication of just how deeply the virus has affected the food industry, especially the restaurants. So far, about 60% of the restaurant closures have been permanent, with the number increasing with time. Restaurants now surpass the retail industry in the highest total business closures since the start of the pandemic. Bars and the night life industry has met the same fate, with 5,454 total business closures of which 2,429 are considered permanent closures, or 44% lost.

3) There is mounting evidence that America’s fragile economic recovery is faltering even as the pandemic seems to be leveling out. Reservations for restaurants are waning, air traffic is leveling off and foot traffic at stores is dwindling again. With rising infections in California, Texas and Florida, there is a growing sense that the recovery is fading. Small businesses have suffered the worst, having limited cash reserves and ability to obtain loans, and therefore are failing at record numbers. To compound the problem, there is weaker spending by consumers. Hopes for a real recovery depend more and more on an effective vaccine being created and available. Until there is one, there appears little hope that the economic will make any real lasting progress towards recovery.

4) Stock market closings for – 23 JUL 20:

Dow 26,652.33 down 353.51
Nasdaq 10,461.42 down 244.71
S&P 500 3,235.66 down 40.36

10 Year Yield: down at 0.58%

Oil: down at $41.21

30 April 2020

1) Experts are speculating on the interest rates going negative in the near future, something that President Trump wants. Negative interest rates have been a reality in the EU (European Union), with studies showing that investors do not significantly increase their equity holdings as interest rates decline. But when the rates go negative, they start increasing their equity holdings significantly. This in turn is a big boost to the stock market. Interest rates are an excellent predictor of long range growth potential, today’s level reflecting the markets expectation of sustained low future growth.

2) Larry Kudlow, the top White House economist, is calling for stimulate measures before a slowdown of the economy. Measures include tax breaks such as payroll tax holiday and deregulation of small businesses. This is in anticipation of growth in the second quarter worse than in the first, which shrank 4.8%. Additionally, he supports a second stimulus package to create incentives to grow in the medium and long term. Also more investment in infrastructure should be included.

3) After posting a massive first quarter loss, Boeing has announced they will slash staff and production of about 16,000 people or about 10% of its personnel. Demand for air travel evaporated because of the coronavirus, so Boeing is drastically scaling back production of the two widebody passenger jets, its 787 Dreamliner and the 777. Boeing lost $1.7 billion dollars, while shutting down its factories, because of the pandemic, added another $137 million dollar lost.

4) Stock market closings for – 29 APR 20:

Dow 24,633.86 up 532.31
Nasdaq 8,914.71 up 306.98
S&P 500 2,939.51 up 76.12

10 Year Yield: up at 0.63%

Oil: up at $15.35

31 January 2020

1) Hallmark Greeting Cards is suffering a downturn in the brick-and-mortar retail industry, closing sixteen of its retail outlets across America. Social media is crushing the card business, so it’s no longer a viable business. People use to buy and send cards all the time, but now it’s all online. This is just another indicator of how the retail business is changing, more people doing their shopping on line.

2) Franchise businesses remain a popular strategy for people to start their own business, giving them the benefit of an established brand. About two-thirds of Americans say they want to start a small business, but fears of failure stop most, with good reason. About half the small business startups fail within five years, and two-thirds within ten years. Most businesses do not fail because they don’t make a profit, but rather because of insufficient cash flow problems.

3) Independent grocery stores and regional supermarket chains, who are already facing brutal competition and shrinking profits, now face losing a valuable source of sales- the food stamp recipients. New rules for SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) could eliminate 700,000 people from eligibility. Loss of sales could result in reduce orders from suppliers, reducing labor in stores or the closing of stores. Grocery stores have a profit margin of only about 1 % to 2% leaving little room for changes in their sales volume.

4) Stock market closings for – 30 JAN 20:

Dow              28,859.44    up    124.99
Nasdaq          9,298.93    up      23.77
S&P 500         3,283.66    up      10.26

10 Year Yield:    down   at    1.56%

Oil:    down   at    $52.87