Archive for the ‘General’ category

Recent Stock Drop to Impact Pension Contributions, Cash Flow, Financial Structure and Operating Decisions

November 30th, 2010

The almost 4% recent decline in the S&P 500 from the close of November 5 (recent peak) thru today could not come at a worse time for firms with underfunded pension plans. The median assumed long-term investment performance, for most firms, is now below the 8% median for the year, and noticeably below for the past 5 and 10 year periods.  While the median discount rate assumption, of 5.9%, has seen some minor relief, it is still providing pressure, given the fall in yields during 2010. The discount rate assumption compares with a current 2.77% 10 year treasury rate while annuities hover around 3.8%.  Firms may also elect to partially close out its plan thru annuitizing a segment of its population.

» Read more: Recent Stock Drop to Impact Pension Contributions, Cash Flow, Financial Structure and Operating Decisions

How Country Risk Affects Fair Valuation of Equity Securities

November 29th, 2010

The past few years out-sized swings in the prices of financial securities have been caused, no doubt, by changes to credit and risk, which form the basis of the cost of equity capital. Yet, despite security analyst and investors continued fixation on  the quarter up the road’s reported earnings, it is evident it is the ability to create value ( through enhancement of free cash flows) and reduction in cost of capital that should stand front and center for investors looking to enhance their portfolio returns.

» Read more: How Country Risk Affects Fair Valuation of Equity Securities

Your Portfolio: “… at least, do no harm.”

November 22nd, 2010

“… to help, or at least do no harm.”

                          Hippocrates

Investors, without recognizing the implications of their decisions, often sway from the fundamental concept of doing their portfolio no harm.

» Read more: Your Portfolio: “… at least, do no harm.”

Non-US Stocks Appear to Offer Somewhat Greater Value

November 19th, 2010

What began as a study on sovereign risk (an important element in CT Capital LLC’s cost of capital model) turned in some interesting offshoots. The study was also undertaken because the CT Capital, equity portfolio has a larger than normal (14%) exposure to ADRs and we wanted to uncover the reason(s).

» Read more: Non-US Stocks Appear to Offer Somewhat Greater Value

Keep Credit Trends a Free Site

November 17th, 2010

Credit Trends has become a very popular site. However, we do not accept advertising and there are expenses associated with it’s maintenance

We will decide whether to keep it an open site in the next few weeks

You can help by buying the book to your right-I need just 1% of the daily readers of this service.

If we go to a full subscription site, annual fees will begin at $295 annually. While I am sure it will be quite profitable if we go this route, it is not what we prefer. But its up do you. I believe, as I am told many times, there is no site like Credit Trends.

Become an Excellent Securities Analyst-Buy Book To The Right

November 17th, 2010

If you are disappointed with Wall Street research, you have every right to be.

Learn how to analyze cash flows and risk better than those analysts you see quoted on television-and you can.

Readers will come to understand stock movements they currently have trouble explaining, since significant movements are almost always led by changes in cost of equity capital and the perceived risk to the credit (cash flows). The text explains why entities having a low cash-defined ROIC resulting in small amounts of distributable cash flows are accorded lower valuations despite having higher rates of growth in revenues and/or earnings.

Order today! and you’ll find yourself in a superior analytical position. You can help keep Credit Trends free.

Honeywell (HON) Pension Accounting

November 17th, 2010

(The comment below does not constitute an opinion as to the valuation of Honeywell (HON) common stock—only its pension accounting.)

However, for investors who make buy/sell decisions on the basis of P/Es or other accounting conventions, the news out of Honeywell was certainly good. For 2011, the firm, based on information released yesterday, expects to accrue a $200MM expense on its P&L, despite an actual cash contribution into its pension plans of $1 billion. Its shift to mark-to-market helps during periods of rising asset values.

» Read more: Honeywell (HON) Pension Accounting

Honeywell’s (HON) Pension Announcement a Smokescreen—It Does Impact the Firm and its Valuation

November 16th, 2010

Honeywell (HON) announced a change to its method of pension accounting whereby it will reflect changes in market value each year instead of the smoothing them, which helped show a healthier plan when market values were declining for Honeywell. Now that market values are rising, Honeywell is desirous of changing its methodology.  The company then revised its earlier results in conformity with the changes.

» Read more: Honeywell’s (HON) Pension Announcement a Smokescreen—It Does Impact the Firm and its Valuation

Taxes—An Important Cash Flow Metric

November 15th, 2010

Taxes are an important focal point of securities analysis due to its scope, size, as well as its direct and measurable impact on cash flows. Taxes impair current and prospective operating cash flows because it is imposed on residual profits, after a series of adjustments and credits; the only question is the degree. Investment projects are always considered on an after-tax basis, considering both the income tax effect and the financing effect. Special tax incentives may also impact the hurdle rate and project return on invested capital (ROIC).

Because taxes are not imposed on its income an enterprise pays as interest to creditors, the income tax system creates a bias in favor of debt financing. This bias often results in the overuse of leverage by some firms, and a greater probability of bankruptcy.

» Read more: Taxes—An Important Cash Flow Metric

Kraft’s (KFT) Dividend Hurting Valuation

November 10th, 2010

When Kraft (KFT) released its balance sheet and income statement when reporting its fiscal third quarter last Thursday, it did so without a corresponding statement of cash flows. In its place, including during the ensuing conference call, Chairman Rosenfeld redundantly pointed to operating earnings without a single mention of cash flow, unusual given the heavy reliance by investors on the dividend. Operating earnings do not represent distributable cash flows, among other reasons, it is reported prior to interest expense, which is hefty for Kraft.

» Read more: Kraft’s (KFT) Dividend Hurting Valuation

Pensions-What UPS’s $2 billon Bond Sale Represents

November 9th, 2010

UPS sold $2 billion in long-term bonds to fund its pensions yesterday, raising its total debt/equity to over 100%.

Although UPS is a solid and consistent generator of both free and operating cash flows, we saw that during the credit crisis of a short couple of years ago, even UPS’s fixed income securities could be impaired.

» Read more: Pensions-What UPS’s $2 billon Bond Sale Represents

Free Cash Flow Growth Led by Strong Cost Cutting and a Tad of Financial Engineering

November 8th, 2010

If equity markets represent the flawless leading economic indicator generally believed, investors should be very comfortable nowadays. After all, the S&P 500 is up almost 12% so far this year. Yet, economists remain generally concerned.

Is it not then unreasonable to ask:   Are the glorious headlines trumpeting rising free cash flows portending a sustainable and durable continuation of the economic expansion or perhaps the result of severe cost cutting with a dose of imaginative accounting?

» Read more: Free Cash Flow Growth Led by Strong Cost Cutting and a Tad of Financial Engineering

Self Insurance-Boost to Cash Flow but Risk (Cost Of Capital) As Well

October 28th, 2010

The province of insurance is often a misunderstood and lightly inspected area of security analysis. It is, however, becoming increasingly important in cash flow and risk analysis in light of rising health care costs, growth in corporate assets, a seemingly higher incidence of natural disasters and lawsuits, and other specialized needs for which insurance is required. This has resulted in the rising use of self-insurance as a cash savings technique.

» Read more: Self Insurance-Boost to Cash Flow but Risk (Cost Of Capital) As Well

Death, Taxes, and Health Care Costs

October 25th, 2010

Ken Hackel, president of institutional equity manager, CT Capital, and author of Security Valuation and Risk Analysis (McGraw-Hill, 2010), warned about six months ago, of the impending pension liability. Now, as expected, firms with large defined benefit plans are fessing up to the power of the discount rate on the ultimate liability, which is now resulting in stepped-up contributions. Hackel estimates that for many firms, with 10-year Treasury bonds at 2.5%, a further 1% reduction in current yields could very well have the same impact as a 20% reduction in the estimated long-term investment return assumption. When Kenneth first started writing of the liability, a 1% reduction was roughly equivalent to a 15% decline.

» Read more: Death, Taxes, and Health Care Costs

It’s Here!-After All, It Only Took 40 Years

October 22nd, 2010

Tell us what your new book is about?

Rarely does a does a book on finance and investments “break important new ground.”  I believe Security Valuation and Risk Analysis, encompassing my four decades covering about every facet of security analysis and corporate finance, does so.

» Read more: It’s Here!-After All, It Only Took 40 Years

Credit and Cost of Capital As Superior Predictors of Recession, Expansion and Stock Prices

October 18th, 2010

Kenneth Hackel, president of institutional investment advisor, CT Capital LLC, submits that the lessons related to the crisis of the credit markets during 2007-2009, including effects on the economic and financial markets, have been well constructed. What he believes is not as well-known, is  the equity market, as measured by the S&P 500, has lost much of its prowess as a forecaster of pending economic change, and therefore as a forecasting tool of pending recession and expansion.

» Read more: Credit and Cost of Capital As Superior Predictors of Recession, Expansion and Stock Prices

Do You Really Understand Cash Flow Analysis?

October 8th, 2010

Given the rise in financial valuations the past 7 weeks without any obvious increase in economic strength also present in the “Main Street” economy, detailed security analysis is now taking on increased gravity. This is especially so with another earnings “season” upon us, and with it, an avalanche of references to cash flow and free cash flow. If only investors and financial reporters had greater clarity regarding cash flow analysis, stock volatility would be much reduced and investors’ financial results improved.

» Read more: Do You Really Understand Cash Flow Analysis?

Are Security Analysts Over-Promising Again?

October 6th, 2010

I see the head economist at Goldman Sachs (GS) is now forecasting the US economy will either be “fairly bad” or “very bad.” If his forecast proves accurate, what does that say about equity investors in general, who have carried valuations and equity benchmarks to new yearly highs? Does it also tell you Goldman’s economists and research teams are not on speaking terms?

» Read more: Are Security Analysts Over-Promising Again?

Credit Ratings Are Still Important In Determining Stock Valuation

October 4th, 2010

During the height of the credit crises a short two years ago, the hint of a credit downgrade was sure to result in an outsized drop in the underlying stock.  On the other hand, a confirmation of a rating pushed the impacted stock higher.  Now, due to the considerable balance sheet re-liquefaction and built-up capital, the fear of a credit rating is not near as worrisome.

» Read more: Credit Ratings Are Still Important In Determining Stock Valuation

The MetLife (MET) News Just the Beginning

September 30th, 2010

News from MetLife (MET) After Market Close: Low Interest Rates to Impact Earnings

Expect to hear a lot more about the impact of low interest rates. Not only is it affecting the asset side of the balance sheet, but the liability side as well, as I have been pointing out almost weekly since June.
» Read more: The MetLife (MET) News Just the Beginning

Intel (INTC) and Research in Motion (RIMM)

September 29th, 2010

Intel (INTC) and Research in Motion (RIMM) came onto CT Capital’s buy list over the past month after having been brow-beaten by many security analysts. Analysts believed these firms are, or soon will be, succumbing to the modern tablet era which will either make their current product line-ups obsolete or less relevant, as a new stream of products gains a foothold on their market share.

» Read more: Intel (INTC) and Research in Motion (RIMM)

M&A Activity

September 27th, 2010

I have written extensively on business combinations over the past six months, including “hidden” costs associated with their taking place.

The current economic environment, that of slow top line growth with a boost in year over year financial flexibility is often a recipe for happy investment bankers. But what does it mean for equities?

Here, history is crystal clear: investors would be incorrect to presume a step-up in merger activity would presage higher stock prices, which can only take place with improvements in free cash flows and reductions in the cost of capital.

While the cost of after tax debt continues to decline, the cost of equity has remained stable over the past month.

Adobe Systems (ADBE) Announcement Would Not Have Fooled Cash Flow and Credit Analyst

September 23rd, 2010

The news of Adobe Systems (ADBE) yesterday would have not surprised the serious student of cash flow and cost of capital.

» Read more: Adobe Systems (ADBE) Announcement Would Not Have Fooled Cash Flow and Credit Analyst

IBM: A Case For Sam Palmisano firing Sam Palmisano

September 21st, 2010

In this article we look at evidence that strongly suggests IBM (IBM), despite being turned into a cash “machine,” has done so not through its own R&D efforts, but rather through massive cost cutting. And its strategy is errily similar to that of Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), even prior to today’s announcement of a $1.7 billion acquisition, its second large announced deal over the past week.

» Read more: IBM: A Case For Sam Palmisano firing Sam Palmisano

IBM – CEO Sam Palmisano Should Look at Facts First

September 15th, 2010

IBM (IBM) CEO Sam Palmisano should measure his words prior to speaking badly of others.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Palmisano said that during former CEO Mark Hurd’s five-year tenure, Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) was hurt by sharp cuts in its R&D budget, and that the company was declining in relevance.
» Read more: IBM – CEO Sam Palmisano Should Look at Facts First