13 April, 2009

A Tale of Two Cities: Easter News and Notes

A tale of two cities, screams to be profoundly appropriate in describing the current climate of the American markets. Those two cities of course would be Detroit and New York. Symbols representing two pillars of the American workforce and economic prosperity. Both the auto and financial industries have been decimated by losses, layoffs, and market indifference, producing for some, the biggest market fall since the crash associated with the Great Depression.

Detroit's auto stocks are still in tatters, and the news did not get much better. The US Treasury has provided General Motors (GM) with a specific set of instructions for the preparation of Bankruptcy on June 1. It looks less and less likely that GM will be able to avoid that scenario and Investors showed no confidence in any alternative as Monday's trade saw GM give back 16% to the $1.70s.

To counter that, New York was having a fantastic session as the optimism from the Wells Fargo Corp (WFC) pre-announcement of profitability sustained financial momentum. With important earnings announcements upcoming, Goldman Sachs (GS) and Citigroup (C) Investors are seeing a renewed confidence in not only profitability, but the ability of the government to do what it has set out to do. Rid the financial books of terrible assets.

Analysts estimate Goldman to earn about $1.30/share, but the street has begun its whisper-practice and with Goldman still seen as the strongest of the Wall Street brands the company is expected to beat its own number and handily. Citigroup, having alerted the market to profitable months in January and February is looking to continue, despite the accumulated average estimate of a $0.37/share loss (according to Yahoo finance). Goldman will likely set the tone for the banks, and if others in the sector can surpass their estimates it will go a long way to support this current market rally, and instill the type of institutional confidence that is needed to make the latest gains sustainable.

Also in the news over the weekend, besides a thrilling Masters golf finish, was reporting from the Wall Street Journal (Link) that Apple's (AAPL) iconic CEO Steve Jobs, is in fact still very much in the picture and involved in design and business decisions. Word is that Jobs was very much involved in the interface of the latest iPhone OS, version 3.0, and is also involved in the creation of the much-heralded Mac tablet/netbook device. The return of Steve Jobs, from a 6-month medical leave has been a cloud over Apple's stock despite sales growth and product innovation from the company. The recession may have curbed consumer spending habits severely, and Apple's premium brand did suffer, according to market research statistics, but with the company continually improving its Mac Computer and iPods lines recently and an upcoming iPhone announcement surely in June, Investors have begun to set aside worries about Jobs.

Should Jobs return on schedule and lead the next phase of iPhone evolution, expect resonant cheers and analyst upgrades on the anticipation of the next phase of Apple's product road-map. In fact Kaufman Bros. Shaw Wu conceded Apple's value in his latest report, bumping his price target to $150/share.

News reports of the rally's sustainability have been mixed, with some expecting negative trends to overshadow any glimmers of recovery. Thsoe glimmers however, are due to get brighter if the financial sector continues on this path of pre-announced profitability.

No comments: