NEW YORK (
) -- Prior to Thursday's
, the market had been churning a bit, drifting lower as QE3-induced euphoria dissipated and fresh worries -- the presidential election, the fiscal cliff, sorting out Europe's debt problems, take your pick -- set in.
Now, of course, the mood is a bit brighter. Spain came across with what looks like a tough budget for next year, setting the stage for its official bailout request; initial jobless claims were much better than expected; and China is reportedly primed to get into the stimulus act as well. Heck, even
Research In Motion
Even before the Dow was able to snap its four-session losing streak, Canaccord Genuity was shining a spotlight on a bullish internal indicator, noting the breadth of the broad market's advance this summer is very encouraging.
"As of September 14, 73% of NYSE issues closed above their respective 200-day moving average," the firm wrote emailed commentary early Thursday. "When this has happened since 1994, the S&P 500 tacks on an average additional gain of 12.2% prior to the next 5% correction. A move back into the support zone of 1400-1420 should be enough to work through the near-term overbought condition, be less than a 5% correction, and set the stage for the next leg higher toward 1500+."
Canaccord U.S. portfolio strategist Tony Dwyer maintained targets of 1575 and 1650 for the S&P 500 for 2012 and 2013 respectively and took some comfort in the firming of the housing market of late.
He flagged three growth areas he sees as positives, "1) Record setting corporate credit new issuance coupled with the increase in Commercial & Industrial Loan demand suggests new money is readily available to companies; 2) While the outcome of the election is somewhat uncertain, the fiscal cliff is looming and unemployment remains high, consumer confidence continues to improve; and 3) The housing market continues to show signs of growth, with single family home sales and traffic trending higher from historically depressed levels."
As for Friday's scheduled news, quarterly reports on tap include
Walgreen is reporting its fiscal fourth-quarter results before the opening bell, and the average estimate of analysts polled by
is for earnings of 56 cents a share in the August-ended three-month period on revenue of $17.14 billion.
Shares of the drug store operator are up roughly 10% in the past year, and Credit Suisse wasn't feeling too confident ahead of the print. The firm, which has a neutral rating and $38 price target on the stock, says earnings risk "looks high" for quarter and it's expecting a below-consensus profit of 51 to 53 cents a share.
"We believe Walgreens remains one of the most controversial and mistrusted names within consumer," Credit Suisse said. "Q4 sets up to be another marquee event, given recent operational headwinds, the many moving parts to this story, and the possibility for more detailed guidance. We see risk to the Q4 consensus estimate, both from technical and operational issues, but the 2013 outlook seems to be setting up more favorably. While there is risk in the near-term and numerous long-term structural challenges, we openly admit the stock seems to set up positively over the next few quarters given negative investor sentiment and improving momentum."
Despite an anticipated "strong" contribution from demand for generics, Credit Suisse expects fourth-quarter sales to be challenging and said it thinks Walgreen is also shouldering some costs from launching its loyalty program and preparing for the return of
About fiscal 2013 though, the firm was feeling more optimistic.
"We project 2013 EPS at $3.05 (from $3.00), roughly in line with consensus of $3.06," Credit Suisse said. "Earnings momentum should shift positively at Walgreens in 2013, as some ESRX customers return, the company cycles easy flu and front-end comparisons, the generic wave accelerates, and synergies/accretion from AB kick-in. While there are headwinds, such as a MHS pricing reset, loyalty card/ESRX related costs, and an overall challenging competitive/consumer environment, we still see solid growth in earnings."
A slight majority of the sell side is still in wait-and-see mode on Walgreen with 16 of the 26 analysts covering the stock at hold (13), underperform (2) and sell (1). The median 12-month price target on the shares is $39 vs. Thursday's closing price of $36.60.
Check out TheStreet's quote page for Walgreen for year-to-date share performance, analyst ratings, earnings estimates and much more.
The economic calendar includes personal income and spending data for August at 8:30 a.m. ET; the Chicago purchasing managers index for September at 9:45 a.m. ET; and the final reading of the University of Michigan consumer sentiment index at 9:55 a.m. ET.
And then there's Research In Motion, which reported a much narrower than anticipated loss for its fiscal second quarter after the closing bell as it grew its subscriber base and increased its cash balance.
The BlackBerry maker posted an adjusted loss of $142 million, or 27 cents a share, for its fiscal second quarter ended in August on revenue of $2.87 billion. The performance beat the average estimate of analysts polled by Thomson Reuters for a loss of 46 cents a share in quarter on revenue of $2.50 billion.
The stock, which is down more than 50% this year, was last quoted at $8.55, up nearly 20%, on late volume of more than 16 million.
shares were enjoying a 1%-plus pop on volume of more than 700,000 after the social networking giant announced a new functionality to allow users to buy real gifts for their friends through the site.
The company said Facebook Gifts will roll out gradually, first becoming available to U.S. users.
Written by Michael Baron in New York.
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