Updated from 8:16 p.m. ET to include information on the after-hours trading session. NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Once again, even the negative days in 2012 just aren't all that bad. Whatever the reasons behind Monday's decline -- a lower growth target for China, some concern about the internals of the ISM nonmanufacturing index, rising worries about the impact of higher gasoline prices on the consumer -- what may be more important is that the selling was orderly and nominal. That's befitting the baby bull market that's been gamboling around since early October, especially since the calendar turned and stocks began the consistent slow melt-up that's still holding sway. Really, with earnings season over, this week is all about the February jobs report on Friday and the big launch event for Apple ( AAPL) on Wednesday, which is expected to be the announcement of the iPad 3 and possibly even Apple TV. Apple shares actually fell on Monday, breaking a seven-session winning streak and causing some mild consternation. The stock lost 2.2%, or $12.02, to close at $533.16 on volume of 28.9 million, nearly double the issue's trailing three-month daily churn of 14.6 million. Given how far the stock has run though -- a 53.4% rise in the past year punctuated by a surge of 34.6% in 2012 -- there had to be a pause at some point. BMO Capital Markets put it this way in its morning note. "Given that AAPL shares are up 40% over the past three months, including 20% in the past month, an increase of $145 billion and over $80 billion, respectively, we believe the stock could consolidate recent gains," said the firm, which has an outperform rating and a $590 price target on the stock. "However, we believe Apple's product cycle, with the iPhone and iPad, remains very strong, and that the specter of a dividend and/or buyback should support the stock." As Apple's iconic status has been solidified over the past five years, product launches have progressively been less of a catalyst for the stock. Last March, when Apple unveiled the iPad 2, the stock rose less than 1% on launch day. Meantime, TrimTabs, which has long been skeptical of the rally in equities, gave into the relentless optimism over the weekend, going to fully bullish (100% long) on U.S. stocks in its model portfolio from neutral (0% long). The firm remains highly critical of the massive quantitative easing programs undertaken by the world's central banks but couldn't stay on the sidelines any longer.
"Our most important advice to investors is to own some assets in their portfolios--such as precious metals, commodities, agricultural land, or real estate--that central bankers cannot create out of nothing," TrimTabs wrote. "We think the global money printing party is a long way from ending because the insolvency of banks and governments in the developed world is so severe." For the model portfolio, though, it's going 100% long with the SPDR Consumer Discretionary ETF ( XLY); although TrimTabs also said: "We continue to advise all investors to hold some hard assets in their portfolio. Our personal favorite is gold bought in euros." The portfolio shift was attributed to bullish signals from a number of the liquidity measures that TrimTabs follows, including the contrarian indicators of continued caution from retail investors, who pulled money out of long-term mutual funds investing in U.S. equities last week; and heavy shorting by investors in leveraged ETF funds; as well as positive signs such as a rebound in corporate buybacks, which totaled $42.2 billion in February, the highest volume in five months; and a 3.5% boost in NYSE margin debt in January to $9.4 billion, a three-month high. An off note, however, was struck by corporate insiders, who continue to cash in. "The only major negative sign in our stock market liquidity indicators is that corporate insiders are massive net sellers," TrimTabs said. "Insiders unloaded $6.7 billion of their employers' shares in February, the highest volume since May 2011. On the other side of the ledger, insiders bought just $560 million in February." Things took a turn for the bearish last year shortly after May 2011, it should be noted, with QE2 ending in June 2011, and debt ceiling debacle ultimately leading to S&P's downgrade of the U.S. government's credit rating. As for Tuesday's scheduled news, Pandora Media ( P) is slated to report its fiscal fourth-quarter results after the closing bell, and the average estimate of analysts polled by Thomson Reuters is for a loss of 2 cents a share on revenue of $83 million in the December-ended period. This will be Pandora's third quarterly report since the streaming music company went public in mid-June 2011 at $16 per share. Based on Monday's regular-session close at $14.66, the stock is 8% below its IPO pricing but it did post a 5.5% gain ahead of the report. In its short public life, Pandora's stock has ranged as high as $26 in its first day of trading on June 15 and as low as $9.15 on Dec. 12. Year-to-date, it's up more than 40%.
The pattern so far has been for Wall Street to expect a slight loss in each quarter and for Pandora to deliver a surprise profit, so an in-line performance could be seen as a negative here. The sell side is pretty bullish with 12 of the 17 analysts covering Pandora at either strong buy (6) or buy (6), and the median 12-month price target at $15. Count Barrington Research among the bulls with an outperform rating and an $18 price target. The firm is much more concerned with growth on the top line and other operating metrics, such as active users and listener hours, than it is about whether or not Pandora will be able to land in the black for a third straight quarter. "Despite only moderate growth in the overall advertising industry and competitive noise, we expect Pandora to continue posting significant growth due to its differentiated, disruptive technology, which delivers compelling content, as well as its early stage of corporate development," the firm said in a preview note on Monday. "Given the operating metric momentum announced in January (including 125 million registered users and 68% market share of Internet radio), our estimates could prove to be conservative." Barrington is looking for active users, defined as having listened within the past 30 days, of 42.8 million, which would be up 48% year-over-year and 7% on a sequential basis; and listener hours of 2.43 billion, up 87% from last year and 15.6% on a sequential basis. The firm also made its case that the company is undervalued at current levels. "Pandora deserves a premium EV
enterprise value /Revenue multiple relative to the fast-growth Cloud/SaaS software as a service median, which is above the digital media median, in our opinion," Barrington said. "This premium is warranted by both the early stage in the lifecycle of this rapidly growing enterprise, which has already carved out an enviable niche in terms of brand awareness. We also recognize that companies in this situation are focused much more on establishing their footprint than in developing bottom-line profitability." The firm added that, on a calendar 2013 EV/Revenue basis, Pandora shares trade at a multiple of 3.9X, below other "hyper-growth" software as a service and digital media companies, including LinkedIn ( LNKD), salesforce.com ( CRM), Zillow ( Z), and Rovi ( ROVI). Check out TheStreet's quote page for Pandora for year-to-date share performance, analyst ratings, earnings estimates and much more.
Other companies opening the books on Tuesday include Bridgepoint Education ( BPI), Dick's Sporting Goods ( DKS), Dot Hill Systems ( HIL), Getty Realty ( GTY), Majesco Entertainment ( COOL), Metabolix ( MBLX), Nautilus ( NLS), Rigel Pharmaceuticals ( RIGL), Shuffle Master ( SHFL), Stage Stores ( SSI), United Natural Foods ( UNFI), Vail Resorts ( MTN), and ZipRealty ( ZIPR). Also on the calendar for Tuesday is Foot Locker's ( FL) investor day. The stock is up more than 20% in 2012, and the company is coming off an 8% upside profit surprise in its fiscal fourth quarter, but Citigroup reiterated a buy rating and a $36 price target ahead of the event. The stock closed Monday at $29.41, up 1.5%, on higher than normal volume. "We have already written fairly extensively about the upcoming investor day ... however, we underscore again the importance of this event for the stock," the firm said. "We expect management commentary on new 5 year operating plan margin goals (10-12%), growth strategies, banner initiatives and strategies around CCS
a store concept targeted at skaters and LFL Lady Foot Locker ." The economic calendar is empty on Tuesday but investors will likely looking ahead to the jobs report, as well as its precursors, the ADP employment change report on Wednesday and weekly initial and continuing jobless claims on Thursday. And finally, shares of Nutrisystem ( NTRI) were thinning down in the extended session on Monday after the company delivered a much lighter than anticipated outlook for fiscal 2012. The weight loss and management company said it sees earnings of 45 to 55 cents a share for the full year, well below the average estimate of analysts polled by Thomson Reuters for a profit of 92 cents a share. The shares dropped nearly 10% in after-hours action to $10.70 on volume of 1.1 million. That move negates a 6%-plus rally in Monday's regular session and sets up what could be a brutal day on Tuesday as the guidance means the company didn't gain the traction it needed in the key weight-loss resolution season surrounding the start of the new year. The 52-week low of $10.46 dates back to Sept. 23, but the shares went as low as $10.25 in late trades so the downside could be significant. -- Written by Michael Baron in New York. >To contact the writer of this article, click here: Michael Baron.