04 May, 2009

Stock Climb continues, S&P above 900

Despite what should have been a corporate backlash against recently announced plans by President Obama to curb corporate Tax Havens and loopholes, markets brushed off worries with a shrug and kept pushing higher. This sent the Dow to the green by 200 points, while the S&P however was the big winner of the day, climbing higher by 3.3% to finish at 907.

The changing tax rules, which are estimated to bring in $210Billion in additional tax revenue over a decade, are in part a response to the growing easiness by which corporations shelter income with offshore holdings offices in countries with low to nil tax rates. By having these subsidiaries, overwhelmingly popular with Financial Institutions, which ironically are the same ones who have taken most of the $700Billion in TARP bailout money, companies can avoid paying taxes by shifting money around and through other countries. Considering a report from January pegged 83 out of the 100 biggest corporations having overseas "offices" in tax havens, the amount of money in lost tax revenue adds up.

The 2nd part of this change is driven by economics, as incentives are re-created in order to spark employment and investment in the domestic United States. Previous policies and tax incentives had been adopted to spark International Investment, however, the current unemployment situation in the US has made keeping Americans employed a top priority for the new Administration.

In other news, despite the tie up with Italian car maker Fiat, amongst other restructuring plans, Chrysler still anticipates losing nearly $5Billion in 2009, with a minute return to profitability by 2012.

Financials continued to rally again today, despite Fed Stress Test results that are likely to indicate several banks that need additional capital. Amongst those, it is being reported that Bank Of America (BAC) is looking to raise $10Billion in fresh equity capital. The stock today was up almost 20% compared to the Financial sector's gain of nearly 6%.

The summer movie season is getting started, and that means it is the time for the popcorn blockbuster. First up is a continuation of the X-Men franchise from 20th Century Fox, a studio owned by News Corp (NWS). The X-Men comics were created by Marvel Entertainment (MVL), and the first 3 films in the franchise has grossed over $600Million in domestic box office. X-Men Origins: Wolverine tells the origin story of the most famous mutant of the group and despite the sting of a piracy leak, which put an unfinished version of the film on the Internet a whole month before release, the film managed excellent $87Million domestic and $160Million Worldwide box office tallies. The popularity of the character is surely showing among movie fans and this will likely mean a continuation of other Marvel properties that Fox has the license too. Marvel itself also stands to benefit as its license fees are typically tied to box office receipts and up front payments.

So with the March and April rallies continuing to mount, is it time to take some profits? Since March lows, the S&P is up 220 points, or 32%, and with an economic situation just barely showing some glimpses a case can be made that the markets have gotten ahead of themselves. Taking some off the table would be a prudent thing to do for Investors, however any leg down or significant down day is an opportunity as valuations are still attractive and the S&P is just broken even for the year.

Disclosure: Author owns MVL, holds puts in BAC

No comments: