- the market's ability to rise in spite of disappointing earnings from blue-chips; and
- why you should avoid Avon and Herbalife.
What's Truly Amazing About this Market Posted at 9:35 p.m. EDT on Friday, April 26 Now, think about it. Think about who has disappointed this quarter. First, obviously, there is Apple ( AAPL), with a quarter that is now regarded as the benchmark of bad quarters with the most downgrades and price target cuts of any this year. Apple used to be the largest-market-capitalization company there is, before passing the torch back to ExxonMobil ( XOM), which, yes, reported the worst quarter so far of any oil company.
Then there is IBM ( IBM), the bellwether tech company of the Dow Jones with a hugely disappointing report that drove the stock down 22%, or 10% in a couple of days' time. Or how about Amazon.com ( AMZN)? Is there a more important retailer save for Wal-Mart ( WMT) out there? I don't think so, and yet its report struck people as sorely wanting and the stock got pummeled for almost $20. Or 3M ( MMM), one of the cornerstone industrials out there, which reported a heavily disliked quarter and then gave you a forecast cut that sent shudders down peoples' spines; spines of those who are used to this company's consistent earnings growth. It got dinged again today after being clipped hard on Friday's report. Then there's AT&T ( T), the largest phone company, which gave you a quarter that sent the stock down the hardest I can ever recall it getting hit in one day. Just a nasty decline for the $200 billion behemoth and the commentary made you feel that there's no real growth there at all.
But it wasn't as horrid as the quarter Procter & Gamble ( PG), the one that dropped the stock to $76 from $82 before it stabilized today. Procter, at $200 billion, is the largest consumer-products company out there and it was just a nasty report.
United Technologies ( UTX) is still going down after a reporting a quarter that many felt was light with Europe and sequestration called out for the reasons for weakness. That's an $80 billion multinational we are talking about. The largest health-maintenance operation in the country, Dow Jones component UnitedHealth ( UNH) missed hugely and reminded us that there's still plenty of risk to a health care play that's supposed to be winning in the new regime. Oops! Nobody cared for the numbers from Bank of America ( BAC), JPMorgan Chase ( JPM) or Wells Fargo ( WFC), the three largest financials, as worries about net interest margins and fretting about slower mortgage originations knocked back all of these stocks. Bank of America's numbers, once again, couldn't be fathomed, and it seems more like a law firm, at times, than a bank, it has so many suits against it. At least their quarters weren't viewed as light as the two largest independent security brokers, Goldman Sachs ( GS) and Morgan Stanley ( MS), which still haven't regained their footing. Did anyone slash their forecast more visibly that Caterpillar ( CAT)? Talk about missed earnings, the largest manufacturer in the Dow totally failed to deliver. Two of the largest food purveyors in the world, McDonald's ( MCD) and Starbucks ( SBUX) reported what looked to be terrific numbers, but when you dove underneath the hood you saw some real weak comparable-sales numbers around the globe for McDonald's, and critics chose to emphasize a gross-margin issue in China that reversed the stock after hours. They were both labeled disappointing. And what happened after all of this? What happened after Apple, Exxon, IBM, Amazon, MMM, AT&T, Procter & Gamble. Intel, Qualcomm, General Electric, United Technologies, United Health, JPMorgan, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, Caterpillar, McDonald's and Starbucks disappointed?
What's Truly Amazing About this Market Posted at 12:55 p.m. EDT on Friday, April 26 Oh boy, I know I was looking forward to putting out the all-clear sign to buy Avon ( AVP) next week, now that it has a new CEO, Sheri McCoy, late of Johnson & Johnson ( JNJ). I figured that next week might be the clean-up quarter and it was time to get long. But today Fred Hassan resigned as nonexecutive chairman, and while I totally understand that he has other commitments, as he outlines, I think that next week will be one tough week for both Avon and, yes, Herbalife ( HLF), which also reports its earnings. I used to despise Avon under Andrea Jung. She was a total Wall-of-Shamer. But McCoy is the real McCoy, who was fabulous at JNJ. I also like Michael Johnson from Herbalife, but have had to back away from that one because my pal, Herb Greenberg, has red-flagged it and I never go against his red flags. Plus, the main reason to have been in that stock is the redeployment of its cash flow to buy back shares or pay big dividends, and now that it has no auditor it can't do either. All in all, two that you want to avoid. If you must, go for the direct seller that's got no issues. Tupperware's ( TUP) not trying to sell product to others who sell it, like HLF, and it has had no brushes with the authorities, like Avon. It did go down on that last quarter, but I think, after speaking with CEO Rick Goings, it is the one to buy and I have to apologize to him for putting his terrific company in the same blog entry as the others. At the time of publication, Action Alerts PLUS, which Cramer co-manages as a charitable trust, had no positions in the stocks mentioned.