There's a little bit of a brouhaha stirring.
It seems some analysts can't agree on the current state of
, a contract manufacturer of electronic components for companies such as
. On Thursday,
Morgan Stanley Dean Witter
analyst Shelby Fleck downgraded the company to neutral from strong buy, saying "we estimate that FLEX needs to earn significant incremental returns on the
recently acquired assets to justify the premiums paid." Fleck set a 12-month price target of $29; after a selloff Thursday, the stock was at $22.81 midday Friday.
Ellen Chae at
disagrees. Friday, in a note responding to Fleck's action, she wrote, "Despite the concerns around profitability raised in a competitor's downgrade yesterday ... we continue to be positive on the shares and reiterate our Strong Buy rating."
Credit Suisse First Boston's
Herve Francois was a bit more blunt about it. "We disagree w/a competitor's downgrade of FLEX." Francois basically refuted the valuation model that Fleck used to prompt her downgrade and then reiterated his buy rating on the stock.
They may agree to disagree, but where does that leave investors? For starters, Flextronics dropped almost 12% after the downgrade.
Change of Heart
Does a bear change its stripes?
Just a couple of weeks ago,
Judah Kraushaar issued a note that was negative on securities firms across the board. In cutting his estimates on a slew of companies, Kraushaar showed some bearish tendencies toward his sector.
But in a much more upbeat report this morning, Kraushaar wrote "we believe that investors should begin to broadly build positions in major Broker Dealer stocks."
, maintained a buy/buy rating on
Morgan Stanley Dean Witter
( MWD) and reiterated his accumulate/buy stance on
It's a little easier to judge your peers when you're saying nice things about them.
Gutsy Call of the Week
Golf is no longer the pastime of choice for bankers and analysts -- seems a game called "bottom calling" has taken over as the new favorite.
In this game, analysts sift through piles of data and numbers and conversations with company execs to try to anticipate where the market is going to stop falling, turn around and start climbing back up to newfound profits.
Ed Keon of Prudential Securities played the game this week, and notched this week's
. In a note, "We Think the 'Fed Model' Suggests It's Time to Buy Stocks," Keon wrote only one line -- "We think that the 'Fed Model' is signaling that stocks are fair/undervalued."
No further explanation or caveats necessary: Keon thinks the market is going to go higher from here. In an interview Keon added, "If you buy now, you'll be happy a year from now."
As for the having hit an ultimate bottom, Keon isn't so sure. "I don't think anyone can say when a bottom will be reached," but, he added, "I think stock prices are reasonable, or even cheap, right now."
With a glut of bears roaming Wall Street these days, Keon doesn't seem shaken. In fact, he followed up his call with a report released Friday in which he said the
price-to-earnings ratio of the
Nasdaq Composite isn't over 100 "as reported by some respected publications," but closer to 30 to 50. His figures support his belief that the markets are no longer overvalued and that the time to buy may be now.
"I'm bullish, but I'm not as wildly optimistic as some others," he said.
Wall Street Entertainment
As if Wall Street couldn't get any weirder, monkeys and big red dogs are now moving the market.
In a note put out on Monday,
analyst Spencer Wang lowered his estimates on
Fox Entertainment Group
, blaming the revisions on --
? Fraser's been known to disappoint before --
-- but he's never gone this far.
His latest release,
, was such a box-office flop that Wang found it necessary to lower earnings estimates for Fox, the company that released the dud.
"With an estimated negative cost of about $70 million, "Monkey Bone" has grossed $4.6 million in the U.S. in its first two weeks of release," Wang said. He lowered estimates for the March quarter and the full fiscal year 2001 by "about $65 million."
On Wednesday, ING Baring's Karen Ficker followed up Wang's call by issuing her own note on publisher
. In addition to Scholastic beating street EPS estimates in its report Tuesday, Ficker wrote that the publisher had "higher than expected media revenue from the
The Big Red Dog
Somebody's Gotta Benefit
Everybody can't be losing out to this
Nasdaq rockslide, can they? Prudential Securities analyst Brian Shipman doesn't think so. He has found the niche that stands to benefit from dot-com deaths and mass layoffs. And no, it's not the interment industry.
Shipman reiterated his strong buy rating on
( TMPW) Wednesday, the company that owns
"Monster.com continues to vastly outperform the competition for job-seeker traffic in the online recruitment arena," Shipman wrote. He bases his recommendations on a system that is becoming increasingly archaic, on "eyeball minutes" -- a comparison tool once used when dot-coms ruled the land. The analyst's note cites that Monster.com captured a "share of eyeball minutes at a dominant 55.1% in February." The next closest competitor had a mere 13.9% share.
Interestingly enough, that next-closest competitor was also the next brief in the Prudential note, as Shipman reiterated his accumulate rating on
Within the TMP note, Shipman also maintains his price target at $114, while the stock currently resides just below $40. Guess he's banking on more dot-com layoffs.