Singular Research Director’s Letter : April 2018
The U.S Equity markets are not getting any much credit from the tax cuts yet this year. Earnings will be up a record 21%, the best showing in many years. We will focus on revenue growth in the quarter ahead as well as estimates and guidance. Investors are trying to figure out what the real rate of earnings growth is at this point counter balanced against rising interest rates. It looks like the peak for operating margins is in as real growth is lower margin vs financially engineered eps growth.
The” FANG “, continues to bang earnings growth as well as rank among the top spending corporations with lobbyists in DC as forward-thinking monopolists are paving the way for future growth, evidenced by the recent Facebook testimony in front of Congress. Where is the outrage? Where are the new proposals to protect our privacy? Facebook. will still be allowed to self-regulate. What would you pay for 20 to 25% earnings growth for the next five – ten years with virtually no competition. Certainly, more than the 20 to 30% premium the “FANG” is trading to the market right now.
Earnings are to the upside with q3 expected to be up over 20% as well. Valuations are not crazy either at a slight premium to the five-year average and historical average. Interest rates are still below average. But the market seems fairly valued and higher earnings are needed to propel the market higher from this level. Is the Fed neutral, based on money supply growth and GDP growth this seems to be the case. Should we worry that the spread between the two year and ten-year government bond is narrowing down to 40 basis points? Usually this is a strong indicator that a recession on the horizon. Meanwhile, the leading economic indicators continue to edge higher, a very good sign for the economy and the market.
In summary, it might be good to hold in May and go play. It looks like the market is going to have to grind it out until it has for evidence that there is solid earnings growth ahead into early 2019. Also, the mid-term elections in November will start to become an overhang and provide another potential negative for the market.
Another key question, will the market normalize and take the benefit of the tax cut and reinvest into the real economy or continue to engage in financial engineering via share buybacks and M&A.
Don’t get faked out, Stay long.
April’s top performers combined were an eclectic bunch with varied influences likely contributing to outperformance. General Finance (GFN) posted a strong q1 and raised estimates slightly. EVIO Inc, (EVIO) was a new initiation with favorable news on growth plans, and Huttig Building Products, Inc. ( HBP) bounced back from an extreme oversold condition.
The worst performer list had was led by LSI Industries (LYTS), hit with a surprise resignation of its CEO, followed by NMI Holdings (NMIH), suffering from some surprising price cuts by a competitor that spooked the market on the outlook for future margins, and closely followed to the downside by Salem Media( SALM), as investors continued to abandon a sector perceived to be another casualty of technological disruption and an aging audience.
We are excited to announce new coverage on EVIO Inc. (EVIO). EVIO Inc. is a leading provider of quality control testing, consulting and advisory services to the cannabis industry. The company owns 9 laboratories serving five states in the US – California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Oregon and Florida.
At Singular Research, we continue to seek out investment ideas that have minimal to no Wall Street coverage to add alpha for our active institutional following. We thank our clients for your support of independent equity research.