Updated from 7:57 p.m. ET to add analyst comment on LinkedIn
NEW YORK (
) -- It's been
so far in 2012, and it seems like almost everyone is board with the program.
was reported to be down with the thinking that this rally has legs. Wednesday saw Larry Fink, the CEO of
that he thinks investors should be
Sam Stovall, chief equity strategist at
S&P Capital IQ
, however, is a bit more circumspect in his thinking. He notes that 2010 and 2011 also got off to fast starts only to stall before the first quarter was out, and attributes the mostly low-volume action that's marked 2012 to the hesitancy of some investors to risk trying to ride equities much higher.
"So far this year, the S&P 500 has risen more than 7%, dragging investor sentiment up with it. Yet in 2010 and 2011, the '500' charged ahead early in the year, only to be staggered by first-quarter setbacks," Stovall wrote in commentary late Wednesday. "After regaining its balance and advancing through late April in both years, the market was floored by severe corrections. Due to these similarities, investors are justifying a repeated outcome for this ill-fated euphoria, in our opinion, by remaining cautiously enveloped by liquidity."
That fear of an inevitable pullback manifested itself in mutual fund flows last week, according to the latest data from the
Investment Company Institute
. Long-term mutual funds investing in domestic equities saw outflows of $1.8 billion for the week ended Feb. 1, ICI said.
It's the first real sign of trepidation from Mom and Pop in 2012 as two of the previous three weeks saw modest inflows. Bonds are still king apparently, taking in a total of $7.5 billion, despite the 10-year Treasury sitting near 50-year lows at a hair above 2%. The hybrid model, funds investing in both stocks and bonds, is also doing well, experiencing inflows of $2.2 billion.
The model portfolio of S&P Capital IQ is 45% domestic equities, 15% foreign equities, 25% bonds, and 15% cash, and Stovall has a 12-month target on the S&P 500 of 1400, just 50 points above Wednesday's finish. His feeling is that stocks could sidestep a swoon this year.
The market rarely does what the majority expects," Stovall said. "Either it will evade a meaningful early setback attempt, or won't be given a chance to recover from it. We believe the former to be the most likely outcome."
As for Thursday's scheduled news, the always entertaining
Sirius XM Radio
reports before the opening bell, and Wall Street is looking for a profit of a penny per share in the company's fiscal fourth quarter on revenue of $785.3 million.
An in-line revenue performance would be the company's highest top-line total yet, and represent sequential growth of 3% from revenue of $762.6 million in the third quarter. The stock is up nearly 20% in the past year, and 16.2% since the start of 2012, although the 52-week high of $2.44 dates back to May 31.
Sirius XM has a streak of four straight above-consensus quarters on the line, and it's been profitable for the past five quarters. The company has disclosed on Jan. 4 the addition of 540,000 net new subscribers in the fourth quarter, igniting the rally in the stock this year.
The sell side is bullish with 11 of the 14 analysts covering the shares at either strong buy (4) or buy (7), and the median 12-month price target sitting at $2.30, implying potential upside of 5% from Wednesday's regular-session close at $2.19.
Barrington Research previewed the quarter on Wednesday, and it's expecting Sirius to keep its beat streak alive, estimating the company will report earnings of 2 cents a share on revenue if $793.1 million, The firm, which has an outperform rating, is looking to hear some color from Sirius management about how customers have reacted to a price increase that just occurred in January.
"The core subscription rate is to increase by about $1.50, raising the historic $12.95 per month price point to a new monthly level of $14.49," Barrington said. "While this development occurred after the quarter, we believe it will be a topic of interest during the call. Since Sirius has not raised prices in its history, we will be interested in gaining a better understanding of the initial customer reaction to the change."
For 2012, Sirius has already forecast revenue growth of 10% to $3.3 billion, adjusted EBITDA
earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization growth of 20% to $860 million, and free cash flow growth of 75% to $700 million, and it reiterated that view in early January, so the new tidbits coming out on Thursday will involve subscriber guidance for the year.
Barrington, which has a $3 price target on Sirius, expects the shares to go up as the company establishes a performance track record.
"Importantly, greater investor awareness of the viable fundamental story that had developed should continue to shift the mentality away from the highly risky state that used to dominate investor perceptions regarding this name," the firm said. "We expect interest in this story should continue to improve as management delivers on its financial and operational metrics, demonstrating that the substance of the turnaround story is real."
The $3 price target is based on "a roughly 25x multiple to our 2012 estimates on an EV
enterprise value/EBITDA basis," said Barrington, which is looking for earnings of 9 cents a share in 2012 vs. the current consensus view of 7 cents.
Check out TheStreet's quote page for Sirius Satellite Radio for year-to-date share performance, analyst ratings, earnings estimates and much more.
Other notables reporting Thursday morning are
Corn Products International
KKR & Co.
Philip Morris International
Two big names after the bell are
, which is expected to report a profit of 56 cents a share on revenue of $2.2 billion for its fiscal fourth quarter; and
, which is seen posting earnings of 7 cents a share on revenue of $159.7 million in its fourth quarter.
Jefferies previewed LinkedIn's quarter on Monday and it's bullish about the results, despite having a hold rating on the stock with a $92 price target.
"We believe that the company's growth momentum post IPO, fueled by a disruptive business model, continues despite a soft job market and an uncertain macro picture," the firm said. "We expect upside to our near Street high estimates for 4Q and FY12." Jefferies is looking for revenue of $161.4 million in the quarter and EBITDA
earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of $25.8 million vs. the company's guidance of $19 million to $21 million.
LinkedIn shares are up more than 23% so far in 2012 based on Wednesday's close at $76.54, and Jefferies is wary that more stock could hit the open market soon when a lock-up period expires on Feb. 14.
While the absolute number of shares that could become available is relatively large (55M), the majority of it consists of insiders/institutional owners committed to being LT
long-term holders (based on conversations with management)," the firm said. "We do not expect to see the same downward selling pressure following the second lock-up period expiration, that said, we remain cautious in the near-term nonetheless."
The late roster also features
Lions Gate Entertainment
True Religion Apparel
Thursday's economic calendar features the usual weekly initial and continuing jobless claims data at 8:30 a.m. ET; and wholesale inventories at 10 a.m. ET. The consensus estimate is for initial claims of 370,000, slightly higher than last week's tally of 367,000.
Ian Shepherdson, chief U.S. economist at
High Frequency Economics
, is expecting initial claims to come in above consensus at 375,000 because of unfavorable seasonal trends.
And finally, it was a
on Wednesday with tech earnings front and center.
topped Wall Street's profit view and lifted its quarterly dividend by more than 30%. The stock was up 2% shortly after its report but dipped in late trades.
was a bright spot, surging more than 10% after the company posted an above-consensus profit and named a new CFO.
, however, flopped in its first-ever quarterly report, posting a surprise loss that drove its stock 15% lower in the extended session. And
was devastated after the bell with shares plunging more than 40% after the snacks company said it has to restate its financials for the past two years.
Written by Michael Baron in New York.
>To contact the writer of this article, click here:
Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors, reporters and analysts from holding positions in any individual stocks.