Updated from 5:54 p.m. ET to include information on the approval of a debt deal for Greece by the International Monetary and eurzone officials, as well as news about Dollar General and Las Vegas Sands.
NEW YORK (
) -- There's a little more than a month left in 2012, and at least one firm thinks investors shouldn't count on much more upside for stocks from here.
"We suspect that the largest gains for the year are behind us, and recommend conservative positioning for the remainder of the year," wrote Bank of America/Merrill Lynch in commentary on Monday. "Our near term model signals caution, as earnings revisions and management guidance ratios have deteriorated amid a choppy earnings season. And an unusually high number of macro risks appear to be looming, including the US fiscal cliff,Europe and EM growth disappointments, and tensions in the Middle East."
For 2013, B of A strategist Savita Subramanian has a year-end 2013 target of 1600 for the
, so she remains bullish about the long-term prospects for stocks, supporting that view with a forecast for "modest multiple expansion" with earnings growth pegged at around 7%.
The question mark presented by the fiscal cliff though means a number of wildly differing possibilities remain in play.
"Market implications under various scenarios of the cliff range from the S&P 500 climbing as high as 1600 under a surprise resolution, pulling forward next year's gains, to falling to 1250 if we were to go over the cliff for a short period of time before it is fixed retroactively," the firm said. "In the unlikely event that we go over the cliff for an extended period of time and a recession ensues, we think the market could correct to 1000."
B of A is suggesting investors "
stick with cash return, quality and secular growth for the remainder of 2012," and offered up this positioning from a sector standpoint: overweight on consumer staples and technology; market weight on consumer discretionary, health care, industrials, energy, telecom and utilities; and underweight on financials and materials.
It's been a rocky road for stocks since the
announced neverending QE3 in mid-September. Last week, the major U.S. equity averages caught a big bounce, enjoying their best weekly performance since June. Getting conservative now seems to make a lot of sense, given how much depends on the vagaries of Capitol Hill, which isn't exactly known for smart, swift action.
As for Tuesday's scheduled news,
Green Mountain Coffee Roasters
is slated to report its fiscal fourth-quarter results, and the average estimate of analysts polled by
is for a profit of 48 cents a share in the September-ended period on revenue of $902.7 million.
It's been a rough year for Green Mountain with the company seeing a decline on the top line in the first three quarters of the year in the face of increased competition in the wake of the expiration of its K-cup patents. The stock is down more than 36% in 2012, although it has seen a healthy bounce since scraping a 52-week low of $17.11 on July 23.
In other words, Brian Kelley, who was named the company's CEO last week, has his work cut out for him. The former
executive will take the reins on Dec. 3, succeeding Lawrence Blanford in the role.
The sell side, however, is very bullish with 10 of the 14 analysts covering the stock at either strong buy (5) or buy (5) with a 12-month median price target of $39, implying potential upside of 36% from Monday's close at $28.61.
Canaccord Genuity analyst Scott Van Winkle said he liked the hiring of Kelley, calling it in commentary released last week: "a strong validation of the business and opportunity at GMCR, noting that Kelley passed over the chance to be Coke's president of North American operations. Van Winkle believes that Kelley would have performed due diligence on GMCR and its competitive position, and likely due diligence into issues such as the SEC inquiry and shareholder litigation."
For the fourth quarter, the Canaccord analyst is expecting Green Mountain's sales and earnings "will at least meet consensus forecasts and believes that F2013 guidance is unlikely to change."
Check out TheStreet's quote page for Green Mountain Coffee for year-to-date share performance, analyst ratings, earnings estimates and much more.
Other companies slated to report their quarterly results on Tuesday include
It should also be interesting to see if
can keep up Monday's momentum after Citigroup initiated coverage of the stock at buy with a $675 price target.
"After a 28% correction since 09/21/12 (since recovered to down 19%), Apple shares are consistent with past corrections in its own history and that of its peers," the firm said. "With y/y growth expected to stabilize in 1H13, we assert this sets up APPL to appreciate toward our PT. But at $675, our price target is 11% below the consensus target, reflecting our perception that risks for Apple are increasingly coming into focus."
Apple's stock rose 3.2% to close at $589.53, its best finish since Nov. 1. Year-to-date, the shares are up 45% but they are still a good ways off their 52-week high of $705.07, which dates back to Sept. 21.
A bigger factor for the broad market though will be the news of an agreement between the International Monetary Fund and eurozone officials on a
. The deal brings Greece a crucial step closer to getting its next round of bailout funds.
Meantime, Tuesday's U.S. economic calendar is pretty busy, including durable orders for October at 8:30 a.m. ET; the S&P Case-Shiller home price index for September at 9 a.m. ET; the consumer confidence reading for November at 10 a.m. ET; and the Federal Housing Finance Agency housing price index for September at 10 a.m. ET.
Among the few notable headlines late Monday was an agreement for
to jointly purchase the assets of Archstone Enterprise LP, mainly a portfolio of apartment properties, from
Lehman Brothers Holdings
The companies put the value of the transaction at $16 billion, which includes the assumption of $9.5 billion in debt. Equity Residential will own 60% of Archstone, while AvalonBay will own 40%.
shares were rising in late trades following news the Goodlettsville, Tenn.-based discount retailer has been selected to join the S&P 500, replacing
, which is being acquired by
The change is expected to go into effect this Friday. Dollar General shares were last quoted at $50.60, up 2.6%, on volume of more than 475,000, according to
Also getting a lift in the extended session was
Las Vegas Sands
, whose board declared a special dividend of $2.65 per share after the closing bell. The dividend is payable on Dec. 18 to shareholders of record on Dec. 10. Shares were jumping 5% to $46.21 after the close.
Written by Michael Baron in New York.
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Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors, reporters and analysts from holding positions in any individual stocks.