Updated from 7:42 p.m. ET to include additional information on Groupon's report.
NEW YORK (
) -- The market continues to
, and pundits and proles alike are wondering how long the good times can last.
There's plenty of trends out there for investors to digest, some quite contrary to the forces at work in 2011. Stocks correlations and volatility are out. Last year's biggest losers are this year's biggest winners. Earnings are just okay but that doesn't seem to matter because
can pick up everyone's slack, and as is right and proper in a bull market, the banks are finally showing some leadership.
That last part may be cause for some nervousness. Or at the very least, a healthy dose of skepticism because the prospects for the financial sector haven't brightened quite that much just yet. Keefe, Bruyette & Woods weighed in on the subject earlier this week, and the firm thinks the surge in the banks will stall if earnings don't start to perk up because the valuation justification is played out.
"Financial stocks are up 12.8% year to date, beating the S&P by more than 500 basis points; this follows 5 years of underperformance, which suggests financials may have more room to run," KBW said in commentary on Monday. "However, reviewing the historical trends in relative market cap, employment and valuation, there is no reason to believe, in our opinion, that financials are fundamentally undervalued and can continue to outperform the S&P without expanded earnings capacity."
The firm notes that, while the stock prices of the banks have been weak over the past five years, their market caps have increased relative to the rest of the S&P 500 because of the large capital raises they undertook during the financial crisis.
Financials accounted for just 9.8% of the S&P 500 when the market bottomed out on March 9, 2009, KBW said. At the end of the last week though, they accounted for 14.2% of the S&P 500's market cap, despite the weakness in the sector in 2011.
Just based on the dramatic size of the moves, a pause seems a bit overdue. For example,
Bank of America
closed Tuesday at $7.85, up 43.4% so far this year, and at that level, the stock is 21% above its 50-day moving average of $6.49, a shift that's generally considered a sign the shares are overbought. The
KBW Bank Index
finished Tuesday at 44.70, up 13.5% this year vs. a gain of 7.1% for the
Late last week, KBW gave out its earnings season awards for the big banks, giving
kudos for best quarter, citing the strength of its investment bank business, and saddling
with the worst quarter because the company missed pre-provision earnings expectations following revenue shortfalls in its securities and banking and transaction services businesses.
The firm noted at that time that the big banks were all pretty positive about capital markets activity in the first half of January during their conference calls but still advised some caution.
Two weeks do not a quarter," the firm said. "February will be an important month for the group given the need to improve trading volumes and fill the IPO backlog."
There's some solid knowledge in that sentiment for investors getting caught up in the bullishness that's marked the beginning of 2012: Five weeks don't make a year.
As for Wednesday, aside from the neverending story coming out of Greece, there will be plenty of quarterly reports to dissect.
is slated to deliver its fiscal fourth-quarter results before the opening bell, and Wall Street is looking for a loss of 37 cents a share in the December-ended period on revenue of $8.69 billion.
The stock is down more than 40% in the past year, scraping a 52-week low of $2.10 on Jan. 31, and the sell side is on the sidelines with 21 of the 37 analysts covering the shares at hold, and the rest of the ratings running the gamut between strong buy (6), buy (6), underperform (2) and sell (2). The median 12-month price target sits at $3 vs. Tuesday's regular session close at $2.45.
threw Sprint under the bus last week, blaming its poor outlook on weakness in its business with Sprint, so expectations can't be too high.
Evercore Partners, which has an equal-weight rating (the equivalent of a hold) on the stock with a $2.75 price target, is projecting a loss of 38 cents a share on revenue of $8.7 billion.
"We believe expectations for a strong 4Q (or even good) are largely gone following pre-announced results from
and Radioshack (and seemingly negative commentary from Dan Hesse
Sprint's CEO) -- leaving an opportunity for S to perform against an increasingly conservative backdrop," the firm said on Monday, adding later that longer-term investors should concentrate on the "total size and composition of iPhone activations" as well as other issues.
For its part, BMO Capital is expecting a loss of 35 cents a share from Sprint. The firm expects the company to report 2.5 million iPhone activations and slightly higher churn.
"We are maintaining our market perform rating reflecting our concerns over the outlook for the company and high execution risk from the accelerated deployment schedule of Network Vision," BMO said in a preview of the results on Friday. "The iPhone is a positive long-term development but is expected to add further pressure to near-term margins and free cash flow."
The other morning reporters include
Cognizant Technology Solutions
Computer Sciences Corp.
Coventry Health Care
Level 3 Communications
Polo Ralph Lauren
The big name opening its books late Wednesday is
. The networking equipment giant is in a
as it's broken a pattern of repeatedly guiding lower each quarter.
The average estimate of analysts polled by
is for earnings of 43 cents a share from Cisco in its fiscal second quarter ended in January on revenue of $11.23 billion, and Cisco has a streak of eight straight quarterly profit beats on the line. The sell side is mildly bullish ahead of the report with 26 of the 46 analysts covering the stock at either strong buy (9) or buy (16), and the median 12-month price target at $22, implying 9% potential upside from Tuesday's close at $20.20.
The stock is down 9% in the past year, but it's bounced since hitting a 52-week low of $13.30 on Aug. 9, and the shares have gained 11% since the start of 2012.
Oppenheimer has an outperform rating on the stock with a 12-to-18 month price target of $21, and it's looking for "no fireworks" in the results, saying its US/Europe channel checks indicate the quarter was "in line to slightly ahead of expectations." The firm is a believer in the idea that Cisco has turned the corner.
"We continue to be impressed with Cisco's solid execution and renewed focus," Oppenheimer said on Jan. 30. "Macro headwinds are still in play, but we feel that Cisco has managed expectations appropriately and believe margins have reached a trough. Thus we remain buyers of the shares."
Credit Suisse reiterated an outperform rating on Cisco shares on Tuesday. "Our industry checks and public datapoints suggest that enterprise IT spend (two-thirds of revenue) has held up surprisingly well," said the firm, which has a $26 price target on the stock. "While JNPR
Juniper Networks and a number of other suppliers recently cited weak North America carrier capex for challenging outlook, we believe CSCO has significantly less leverage to Tier 1 U.S. carriers."
Check out TheStreet's quote page for Cisco Systems for year-to-date share performance, analyst ratings, earnings estimates and much more.
Wednesday's late session will also feature the first quarterly report from
, and quarterly results from
Whole Foods Market
With its stock up 40%-plus in the past year, Whole Foods may be hard pressed to make much hay even if it does beat Wall Street's consensus view for a profit of 60 cents a share in its fiscal first quarter on revenue of $3.38 billion.
Goldman Sachs noted Monday that shares of
Chipotle Mexican Grill
all underperformed despite strong quarterly results.
"We would view any technical pullback on the print as an even better entry point for accumulating shares," said Goldman, which has a neutral rating on the stock. "WFM remains a clear secular winner with significant opportunity to grow its store base, expand margins, and improve its return on capital. The firm has an $84 price target vs. Tuesday's close at $75.80.
Groupon priced its IPO at $20 per share in early November and as recently as Jan. 30, the stock closed at $19.30, making it a loser in the after market. Then came
IPO filing, and the stock has risen in five of the past six sessions to close Tuesday at $24.19.
Credit Suisse is looking for revenue of $474 million from Groupon in its fiscal fourth quarter with gross billings of $1.7 billion. The firm is curious to see what metrics the company will report, and thinks it's important that the company quickly establish a track record of profitability.
"It is unclear if GRPN will disclose the number of groupons sold or price per coupon sold," Credit Suisse said. "In our view, predicting these metrics is becoming more challenging as GRPN diversifies into new categories."
The p.m. roster also includes
Everest Re Group
Furniture Brands International
Aside from earnings,
could see some heavy trading with the credit card issuer hosting its semi-annual investor day on Wednesday. The stock is up 11% in the past year, but Goldman Sachs said it's underperformed a bit compared to the other card companies. The firm expects management to detail plans to bring down expenses to historical levels.
Buffalo Wild Wings
was the star of Tuesday's
, soaring more than 15% after the restaurant operator topped the analyst profit view in its latest quarter by 9% and gave a bullish view of the rest of the year.
shares were down though after the Dow component beat on earnings but fell short on revenue in its fiscal first quarter.
Written by Michael Baron in New York.
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