TheStreet.com's DAILY BULLETIN
June 29, 1999
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Market Data as of Close, 6/28/99:
o Dow Jones Industrial Average: 10,655.15 up 102.59, 0.97%
o Nasdaq Composite Index: 2,602.44 up 49.79, 1.95%
o S&P 500: 1,331.35 up 16.04, 1.22%
o TSC Internet: 582.32 up 13.88, 2.44%
o Russell 2000: 448.61 up 5.50, 1.24%
o 30-Year Treasury: 88 15/32, up 22/32, yield 6.095%
Companies in Today's Bulletin:
Philip Morris (MO:NYSE)
Seagate Technology (SEG:NYSE)
In Today's Bulletin:
o Wrong! Rear Echelon Revelations: What's the Big Idea?
o Mutual Funds: Amerindo Technology Fund Warns of Huge Capital Gains
o Evening Update: Philip Morris Issues Downbeat Outlook; Brenneman Won't Join Compaq
o Bond Focus: Bonds Rally, but Analysts Expect More Selling
Also on TheStreet.com:
Brokerages/Wall Street: Bear Stearns Gets Caught in $25 Million Trap
The company gets slapped with SEC fines over its association with indicted brokerage firm A.R. Baron. And the saga may not end there.
Internet: The Face That Launched a Thousand Sites
You've never heard of George Chen, but you've likely seen his image in ad campaigns for several Internet companies.
Semiconductors: Clear Connection: RF Micro Expands Reach With Motorola, Ericsson Deals
For the wireless-phone chipmaker, there's a world beyond Nokia.
Tech Savvy: How Application Service Providers Will Change Your Life
Buying software is about to change in a big way, and ASPs stand to be the next big winners in the business.
Wrong! Rear Echelon Revelations: What's the Big Idea?
James J. Cramer
The Street's out of good ideas right now. How can I tell? Because when someone has a good idea, everybody else has it too, that's how.
Take this morning. In my first meeting with my partner
-- yes, the meeting you will be able to attend if you win the
investment challenge -- we went over companies that report this week.
"Here's an interesting one:
," I told Jeff. "We think oil's going lower, we like the Net, the stock's down from 60, probably good for a three-point trade in a flat tape."
Jeff then picked at it a bit, wondering why it was down, questioning how the quarter had been going, what people were thinking. I said that I had heard things were good, that the company has a tendency to be promotional about the Net, which is great if you are long it and crummy if you are short it. I said I wanted to get 15 in, or 15,000 at a quarter point around the close. (Newbies, I wanted to buy 15,000 shares around where the stock went out Friday.)
All of that is pretty standard for us.
Later on in the morning I noticed that
pushed the stock a bit, but nothing aggressive, and I still thought I had a pretty good chance to get some stock in, maybe with a little give. (A little give is about a half-point above where it went out.)
Bamm, next thing I know the stock gaps up three. The whole gain I was looking for happens at the opening. There are so few money-making ideas on the Street that, when people see them, they will pay anything.
Or as my wife, the
, would have said: "You had to buy Fedex Friday."
It's like that in the summer. We are all trying to find something that makes sense. There's just not enough to go around.
: Downright enjoyable tape as good news from the Net filtered out of the
meetings, where reports were that pageviews remain strong for the stalwarts despite the dog days ... Getting tired of hearing the "you have to own the infrastructure Net plays" -- predictably, they will be over-owned shortly ... Weird mark in
, which I am long, a small block takes it up more than a buck at the bell, but I guess I can't complain. Small block of
takes that one down, and I would complain except I bought on it!
Berko strikes again. Remember when he said no to me about
few weeks back and I shared it with you immediately. Good call, Seagate just blew up... Had to sell the
, talk about a meeting that failed to deliver on expectations: earning below plan, no thought to splitting up the company, and a plethora of lawsuits ahead. Next!
James J. Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-founder of TheStreet.com. At time of publication, his fund was long IBM, Allied-Signal and Merrill Lynch. His fund often buys and sells securities that are the subject of his columns, both before and after the columns are published, and the positions that his fund takes may change at any time. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks. Cramer's writings provide insights into the dynamics of money management and are not a solicitation for transactions. While he cannot provide investment advice or recommendations, he invites you to comment on his column at
Mutual Funds: Amerindo Technology Fund Warns of Huge Capital Gains
Investors in the
Amerindo Technology fund could find that its stellar, 103% return this year comes with a big tax bill.
The fund realized capital gains amounting to 55% of its net asset value as of April 30, according to its prospectus. That unusually large gain means investors could be turning over a good portion of their returns to Uncle Sam at tax time.
"That's very high," says Stephanie Kendall, a mutual fund analyst with fund-tracker
. "You wouldn't want to pay over 10% or 20% normally
in capital-gains distributions."
Amerindo has not yet distributed these gains to its shareholders, as it's required to do by law. The fund has until Oct. 31, the end of its fiscal year, to make the distribution, and it could lower the final amount by offsetting it with realized losses.
Because realized capital gains are distributed to all shareholders on the record date of the distribution, shareholders who invest after April 30 could get hit with the distribution, even if they didn't take part in the fund's meteoric returns.
The $156 million fund lowered its minimum investment for A and D shares to $2,500 from $10,000 and $150,000, respectively, in late March. It attracted $10.6 million in new assets during May, according to
Financial Research Corp.
in Boston. That accounts for 42% of the new cash the fund has taken in so far this year.
A spokesman for Amerindo declined to comment.
The fund realized $6.13 per share in long-term capital gains and $8.92 per share in short-term gains through April 30. The total of $15.05 represents 55% of the fund's $27.44 net asset value that day. Short-term gains are taxed at a taxpayer's ordinary tax rate. Long-term gains are taxed at a 20% rate for most taxpayers.
Kendall says the situation illustrates the importance of researching a fund thoroughly before buying it.
"This shows that investors need to look at more than just performance when buying a fund," Kendall says. "On the whole, this is why you want to look for funds that have a low history of capital-gains payouts."
That would not have helped in this case, though. According to
, the Amerindo fund, which was launched in October 1996, has never made a capital-gains distribution.
And the fund's adviser has previously shown a knack for innovative accounting that has produced benefits for shareholders. For instance,
reported in March that Amerindo's unusually large position in
-- it accounted for as much as 43% of the fund's assets at one point -- during 1998 put it at risk of losing its mutual fund tax status. But by taking advantage of a one-time provision in the tax law, Amerindo changed the end of its fiscal year -- the day on which it had to report its holdings -- to a point in time when it met the law's diversification requirements.
But as of March 31, 1999, the fund was still heavily concentrated, with 25.8% of its assets in Yahoo!, 23.3% of its assets in
and 16.5% of its assets in
, according to its Web site.
Large realized gains aren't that surprising for a highflying technology fund like Amerindo, says Ray Liberatore, an analyst at Financial Research Corp.
"It's almost to be expected, in a sense, in such a volatile tech fund," says Liberatore. "These funds are sort of an animal unto themselves. They don't follow the traditional mutual fund analysis, and they're difficult to get a grasp on."
But a large capital-gains distribution wouldn't be such a bad thing for a fund that returned more than 100% so far this year, says Lou Stanasolovich, a financial planner with
Legend Financial Advisors
"Are you going to be upset about that return?" Stanasolovich asks. "So many people focus so much on taxes that they let it immobilize them. Yes, it's true you should avoid taxes when possible. But even in the worst of cases, it's not that bad."
But for an investor who hasn't participated in those returns, the potential capital-gains burden is a real concern, he says.
"I would not go into the fund at this point," says Stanasolovich. "On the other hand, if you're really concerned and you've been a holder of the fund for more than a year, you may want to sell it now" to avoid the distribution.
Because distributions are made on a per-share basis, Stanasolovich points out that, if investors cash out to avoid a distribution, the shareholders left behind would be hit with an even bigger distribution.
"The ones still in the fund are left holding the bag," he says.
Evening Update: Philip Morris Issues Downbeat Outlook; Brenneman Won't Join Compaq
told analysts at a New York meeting that volume and profits from its international tobacco business will not meet full-year expectations. Second-quarter volume is expected to drop 6% and full-year volume is expected to drop 4%. The company cited the impact of duty-free sales and a weak euro. The company said it sees full-year earnings at $3.30 a share, 2 cents below the 12-analyst
forecast but above the year-ago $3.17.
President and COO Greg Brenneman said he will no longer vie for the open CEO post at
wrote about Compaq's CEO search this afternoon before the announcement.
is expected to formally announce early tomorrow morning rumored plans to buy Compaq's
Japanese traders were treated to mixed economic news this morning in Tokyo. The May
slipped to 4.6% from 4.8%. Economists polled by the
Nihon Keizai Shimbun
expected the rate to climb to 4.9%. But the May
industrial output index
fell by 0.5% against expectations of a 1% gain.
In other postclose news (earnings estimates from First Call; earnings reported on a diluted basis unless otherwise specified):
Earnings/revenue reports and previews
posted third-quarter earnings of 49 cents a share, in line with the five-analyst estimate and above the year-ago 42 cents.
reported second-quarter earnings of 69 cents a share, topping the five-analyst prediction by 1 cent and moving ahead of the year-ago 37 cents.
Citing long-distance pricing erosion and the loss of a U.K. wholesale customer,
warned it sees second-quarter earnings coming in 6 cents to 8 cents below the 11-analyst forecast for 28 cents a share. The company, which made 26 cents in the year-ago quarter, also said its board continues to mull over
unsolicited takeover bid.
Metro One Telecommunications
said it sees second-quarter earnings of a penny a share, which would fall below both the six-analyst forecast of 11 cents and the year-ago 8 cents. Metro One attributed the warning to increased staffing and infrastructure costs.
Newport News Shipbuilding
upped its second-quarter net earnings estimate by 40 cents, to 92 cents a share. The company said it will post a $25 million pretax gain in the second quarter related to its terminated merger agreement with
and the settlement of insurance claims on completed contracts. The single-analyst estimate calls for operating earnings of 51 cents vs. the year-ago 45 cents.
said its second-quarter earnings likely will fall short of the five-analyst forecast for 58 cents a share but that it probably will meet full-year expectations for $2.12. PG&E told a Houston energy conference that a rate increase the company applied for probably won't be granted until the third quarter.
said its fourth-quarter results will miss estimates due to weak disk-drive demand and continued falling prices. The company sees quarter earnings of 32 cents to 37 cents a share, below the 11-analyst outlook for 49 cents but above the year-ago 9 cents.
said it's voluntarily recalling 703,000 1996-1998 model-year Ford Contour and Mercury Mystique cars due to a possible problem with the headlight switch wiring harness connector.
will pay $1.3 million to settle an investigation by the
Federal Communications Commission
into the company's merger with
Southern New England Telecommunications
Bond Focus: Bonds Rally, but Analysts Expect More Selling
David A. Gaffen
Today's rally proves that what goes down eventually comes up. Then again, so do drowning victims.
Short covering and professional buying were the primary drivers for today's Treasury rally, but analysts didn't put much stock in the whole affair, as the volume indicated it lacked conviction. The market was heartened by a friendly inflation nugget contained in the May
personal income and consumption
report released today, but two sources said people will sell this rally ahead of Wednesday's anticipated interest-rate hike and key economic data due at the end of the week.
"This is a bounce after a very, very depressing week, and maybe we were due for a bounce," said Jim Kochan, senior bond market strategist at
Robert W. Baird
in Milwaukee. "But there's so many excuses for customers or for investors to do some selling in the face of a rally."
Today's bounce took the form of a 24/32 rise in the 30-year bond's price, to 88 16/32. The yield fell 6 basis points to 6.09%. Volume, per usual lately, was very low, down 27.5% when compared with the usual second-quarter Monday, according to tracker
The market had already formed the basis of this thin rally when the May personal income and consumption report was released by the
at 8:30 a.m. EDT. The report's inflationary component, the personal consumption deflator, was unchanged, providing a jolt of bond-friendly news for the market. On a year-over-year basis, this measure is rising at a 1.4% rate, an indication that consumer inflation is still low by historical standards. The 0.4% rise in overall personal income and the 0.6% consumption increase were more or less in line with expectations, and didn't move the market.
Kochan's argument about excuses is a force to be reckoned with. This week's calendar is a veritable hypochondriac's catalogue of bond market ailments, and Wednesday's decision on interest rates is just the beginning. The assumption is that the
Federal Open Market Committee
, the Fed's interest-rate setting committee, will raise the short-term fed funds target to 5% from 4.75%. The agita only starts there -- Will the Fed maintain a tightening bias, and will that quash any possibility of a relief rally in the bond market?
Retaining the bias "might be more distressing a message than they want to send out," said Adam Blankman, Treasury market analyst at
Standard & Poor's MMS
. "If they take off the bias they're not forbidden from tightening -- it doesn't really slow them down much."
Right now, the market seems to be expecting at least a second tightening, even if it's quietly praying for just one move. More clues on this situation will emerge with the potentially ulcer-causing
National Association of Purchasing Management's index of business sentiment
for June, released Thursday, and the two-ton June
, due out Friday.
The NAPM report, a survey of various aspects of the manufacturing sector, is considered important because it gauges how executives will make decisions in the sector in the coming months. It's expected to fall to 54.4 in June, according to a
survey, down from 55.2. (A reading greater than 50 indicates expansion in the sector; less than 50, contraction, so the prediction is for a strong figure.)
With regard to the employment report, economists are forecasting a 220,000 rise in nonfarm payrolls in June. However, the overall job growth isn't the Fed's pressing concern -- it's the tightness in the labor market, represented by the household unemployment rate. Fed Chairman
testimony two weeks ago that the tightness in the labor market will eventually cause inflation, so it's clear the Fed is hoping for a bit of loosening in the job market. The household unemployment rate is expected to remain unchanged at 4.2% in June, according to economists.
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