Tuesday Morning Reads

Tuesday Morning Reads








Seeking Alpha

GameStop gets real

After months of market speculation at its utmost, GameStop (NYSE:GME) will give investors something concrete to consider for its stock valuation when it releases earnings, revenue and more details about its business transformation plan today.

GameStop investors will be glued to their screens after the bell on Tuesday as the video game retailer releases results after the bell (the conference call is scheduled for 5:00 p.m. ET). The report follows two months of wild trading and a "meme stock" craze that resulted in an epic short squeeze earlier in the year. It all started when subreddit r/WallStreetBets convinced an entire community of traders to scoop up shares of GameStop and other heavily shorted public companies, triggering losses at major hedge funds, unprecedented brokerage limits, congressional hearings and the development of some Hollywood productions.

By the numbers: The earnings report means that GameStop's financial performance and fundamentals are returning to center stage. Analysts expect adjusted earnings of $1.42 per share and $2.23B in revenue, which would mark a rise of 1% over the same period last year and an end to an eight-quarter losing streak. The figures will likely be bolstered by a winter holiday shopping season that included the release of next-generation consoles like the PS5 and Xbox Series X. "The fourth quarter is generally their moneymaking quarter," said Telsey Advisory Group analyst Joe Feldman, though he cautioned that GameStop previously disclosed sales that fell 3.1% for the nine-week holiday period ending January 2.

While the pandemic was a boon for the video game industry, GameStop has struggled with foot traffic to its brick-and-mortar stores, which currently number 4,800. The company initially resisted closing its doors early in the pandemic, saying it was an essential business, before putting a greater focus on e-commerce. It has also been up against a years-long trend of people downloading games over the internet, rather than buying hard copy discs. GameStop shares are now trading around the $200 level, which is more than 10x as much as they were at the start of 2020, though the stock did hit a peak of $483 during intraday trading in late January.

Outlook: Some say the company might be too late in the game to insulate itself against long-term industry changes, though others point to turnaround efforts that are underway. Ryan Cohen, the co-founder of Chewy, was recently added to the company's board, while Matt Francis, a former engineering leader at AWS, was brought on as GameStop's first-ever chief technology officer. GME is rated with four Holds and three Sells on Wall Street, but that has never stopped the retail crowd and others from buying in. (31 comments)

Another AstraZeneca concern arises

AstraZeneca (NASDAQ:AZN) may have provided the U.S. outdated information that gave an "incomplete" view about the efficacy of its vaccine, according to the U.S. Data Safety and Monitoring Board.

"The DSMB expressed concern that AstraZeneca may have included outdated information from that trial, which may have provided an incomplete view of the efficacy data. We urge the company to work with the DSMB to review the efficacy data and ensure the most accurate, up-to-date efficacy data be made public as quickly as possible," the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, headed by Dr. Anthony Fauci, said in a statement.

"The last thing this vaccine needs is more concern when we kind of thought we were at that point now where we’d put to bed all the other concerns, and then a new one pops up the same day," Paul Griffin, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Queensland, told Bloomberg.

The European Medicines Agency issued a statement last week that the benefits of the vaccine still outweigh the risks, despite the link to "rare blood clots with low blood platelets." AstraZeneca shares rose 4% on Wall Street yesterday after U.S. trial data showed a 79% efficacy rate. (11 comments)

Microsoft wooing Discord

Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) is in talks about a possible $10B purchase of video game chat platform Discord, according to several published reports. No deal is imminent, and Discord is talking to other potential suitors and could still decide to eschew a sale and go public.

Discord has more than 100M active users and would likely fit well with Microsoft’s Xbox business. Discord moved above $100M in revenue last year and raised $100M in a $7B valuation. (6 comments)

Big Oil tilts to carbon pricing

In a video conference meeting today with Biden administration officials, executives from 10 of the biggest oil companies, including Chevron (NYSE:CVX) CEO Mike Wirth, offered support for putting a price on carbon emissions as a way to address greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. The meeting reportedly focused on emissions of methane from oil and gas production and on the industry's role in the administration's plans to decarbonize the U.S. economy.

Some execs from U.S. companies warned that the wrong policies would hurt U.S. producers and potentially increase demand for imports of fuel produced abroad under weaker environmental protections. In a statement, the White House said national climate adviser Gina McCarthy "made clear that the Administration is not fighting the oil and gas sector, but fighting to create union jobs, deploy emission reduction technologies, strengthen American manufacturing, and fuel the American economy." (85 comments)

Channel checks boost iPhone optimism

Wedbush's supply chain checks in Asia have come out bullish, with three weeks of no changes to builds or demand globally, and no issues arising from current global semiconductor shortages. And that likely means builds for iPhones this quarter have stayed in the 56M-62M range, it says. The firm is buying the dip on Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) - not entirely a surprise - on expectations the momentum will continue, and has a Street-high price target.

Along with that March quarter forecast, analyst Daniel Ives thinks June quarter builds are basically unchanged in the mid-40M range, meaning the firm's supercycle thesis is playing out in the first half of this year. "We have not seen a robust launch uptrend such as this in a number of years for Apple and the only iPhone trajectory similar would be the iPhone 6 in 2014 based on our analysis," he writes. The rest of the Street may be expecting about 220M iPhones this year, but based on the current trajectory, Wedbush expects a bull case would be selling "north of 240M" or even 250M units, which would break the record of 231M units sold in fiscal 2015. It estimates 350M of 950M iPhones worldwide are in the window of an upgrade opportunity, marking an "unprecedented supercycle upgrade cycle." (21 comments)

Treasury yields still sliding

The 10-year Treasury yield is down 3 basis points to 1.65% after dropping yesterday. It's now about 10 basis points down from the high it hit last week. The 30-year, down 2 basis points to 2.36%, saw its first back-to-back down sessions since mid-February. "The interest rate move is looking increasingly mature and should see a meaningful decrease in 'speed' moving forward, even if absolute direction remains pointed to generally higher rates/steeper curves," SG Cowen said.

But tech stocks, which have seen an inverse relationship with yields, are edging lower. Nasdaq 100 futures (NDX:IND) -0.2% are off along with S&P futures (SPX) -0.2% and Dow futures (INDU) -0.3%, which have been hampered by cyclical weakness on down-yield days.

Later today, Fed chief Jay Powell and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will face lawmakers in congressional testimony about the economic response to COVID. It will be their first joint testimony as they appear before the House Financial Services Committee.
A third wave of COVID that is leading to renewed lockdowns in Europe, and a concern about rising U.S. cases that has paused some reopening plans, could be weighing on stocks and helping bonds as recovery and growth optimism ebbs. New York is now pausing plans to boost restaurant capacity to 50%. Germany is going into a hard lockdown over Easter.

What else is happening...

Researchers from the University of Toronto and WSJ pit Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) and Toyota (NYSE:TM) head-to-head on environmental impact.Apple (AAPL) reveals the retirement of its head of developer relations disclosure ahead of its trial against Epic.Regeneron’s (NASDAQ:REGN) COVID antibody cuts risk of hospitalization or death by 70%.Canadian Pacific Railway’s (NYSE:CP) takeover offer for Kansas City Southern (NYSE:KSU) boosts hope for expanded access to U.S. Gulf Coast refineries for Canadian oil producers.Citi expresses confidence that a crackdown on sharing streaming passwords will gain traction, helping offset billions of dollars of losses for companies like Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX).Eastman Kodak (NYSE:KODK) is gaining in extended-hours trading as traders passed around a company blog post about one of Europe's largest online print shops.

Monday's Key Earnings

Newtek Business Services (NASDAQ:NEWT) +5% PM after boosting 2021 dividend forecast.

Today's Markets

In Asia, Japan -0.6%. Hong Kong -1.3%. China -0.9%. India +0.6%.
In Europe, at midday, London -0.2%. Paris -0.5%. Frankfurt -0.4%.
Futures at 6:20, Dow -0.4%. S&P -0.4%. Nasdaq -0.3%. Crude -3.4% to $59.48. Gold -0.1% at $1736.90. Bitcoin -5% to $54555.
Ten-year Treasury Yield -4 bps to 1.64%

Today's Economic Calendar

8:30 Current Account
8:55 Redbook Chain Store Sales
9:00 Fed's Bullard: U.S. Economy and Monetary Policy
10:00 New Home Sales
10:00 Richmond Fed Mfg.
10:10 Fed's Bostic Speech
11:00 Fed's Barkin Speech
12:00 PM Powell's Testimony On Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act
1:00 PM Results of $46B, 2-Year Note Auction
1:00 PM Money Supply
1:25 PM Fed's Brainard Speech
2:45 PM Fed's Williams Speech
3:45 PM Fed's Brainard Speech
4:20 PM Fed's Bullard Speech

Known to most as Uranium Pinto Beans, Jason has more than 15 years under his belt of trading stocks, options and currencies. His expertise primarily lies in chart analysis, and he has a strong eye for undervalued stock. Because he’s got the ability to identify great risk/reward trades he usually enjoys taking the path less traveled and reaping the benefits from the adventure.

He is a co-founder of Option Millionaires, and he is best known for his weekly webinars with Scott, as well as his high level training webinars and charts found in the forums.

More Posts by UPB: View All | Private Twitter Feed: Access Now! (For Diamond Members)