Aside from big earnings from big tech companies, we have two main themes in this week's installment of the Blue Harbinger Weekly. First, central banks have goosed the market. And second, it's always darkest before the dawn.
Regarding central banks, it was a great week for stocks (the S&P 500 was up over 2%) as the ECB suggested they might need to increase Quantitative Easing (QE) at their next meeting in December. This quickly helped stock markets and weakened the euro. Additionally, the chances of a rate hike at the US Fed's next meeting (next week) have decreased to only 6% according to the CME's Fed Watch. This is also good news for stocks as low rates are stimulative to the economy. The S&P is now more than 11% higher than it was less than two months ago, which brings us to our next point... it's always darkest before the dawn.
Less than two months ago (when the market was 11% lower than it is right now), some short-sighted investors bailed on stocks. They were overwhelmed by fears that slow China growth was going to set off another prolonged recession. However, smart long-term investors were not phased by the China fears and they've now gained back over 11% while the defectors gained back zero! This is a good example of how it pays to be a contrarian long-term investor. It's always darkest before the dawn.
Sticking with the contrarian theme and the notion that its always darkest before the dawn, this week we highlight five contrarian plays including four Blue Harbinger 15 Stocks (McDonald's, Union Pacific, Procter & Gamble and American Express), and the free Stock of the Week (Canadian Pacific Railway). To some extent, the market had turned its back on all five, and so far four of the five are showing strong gains and very strong signs of life!
McDonald's (MCD) gained over 8% on Thursday after announcing earnings that exceeded analyst expectations. McDonald's is a stock that has received so much negative press and discouragement, but it is still a cash flow machine that has rebounded over the last year, outperformed the market, and still has lots more upside remaining. You can read more on how we view this week's earnings announcement (and McDonald's in general) here.
Union Pacific (UNP) is another Blue Harbinger 15 stock that was up significantly on strong earnings this week. The company beat earnings expectations mainly due to increased operational efficiency, and this will pay even more dividends when the economics impacting UNP's business pick up in the future. You an read our views on UNP's earnings (and the company in general) here.
Procter & Gamble (PG) is yet another Blue Harbinger 15 stock with strong gains this week as it announced earnings that exceeded analyst expectations. Like Union Pacific, Procter & Gamble's earnings "beat" was due largely to increased operational efficiency. We like this because it means the company's gains will be leveraged that much further when the broader economy eventually cycles back in P&G's favor. P&G is a company that has a high dividend yield (currently 3.44%), and when P&G's dividend gets high like this (it's almost the highest its been in 25 years) it usually means the stock price is going to increase in the near future. You can read our recent updates on PG here, and you can read our PG thesis and research report here.
This week's free Stock of the Week was Canadian Pacific Railway (CP). This is a Canadian company, that trades on the New York Stock Exchange, and its stock price has been beaten down way too far. The stock is worth a lot more than it's current stock price. North American railroads in general have declined steeply over the last year as the global economy has slowed and commodity prices are down almost across the board. This is also a company that has made very significant efforts to control its costs which will only benefit the company further in the future when the market cycle turns around. We do not own shares of Canadian Pacific, but it is a company we'd consider owning at some point in the future. However, for the time being we like Union Pacific Railroad (a Blue Harbinger 15 stock) even more than Canadian Pacific.
Lastly, American Express (AXP) declined this week on weaker than expected earnings. The company has been spending more on advertising and growth initiatives to gain back revenues it is losing after losing its exclusive card arrangement with Costco. Despite the earnings miss, we believe in American Express going forward, and we're not about to bail on a blue chip company like American Express after a few quarters of underperformance (it's down nearly 10% over the last year while the S&P 500 is up 6%). If we did bail on companies just for a few quarters of underperformance then we'd miss out on the great rebounds that follow. You can read our most recent updates on AXP here, and you can read our full thesis and research report on the company here.
Overall, four of these contrarian plays outperformed the market this week, and they are a good example of why it pays to be contrarian. And regarding American Express, we believe it will pay to be contrarian again in the future especially considering the strong brand name and growth opportunities that lie ahead for this company. Said differently, it pays to be a contrarian.