Tuesday Morning Reads
- Greece’s Reopening Gamble
- The Booming U.S. Recovery
- Rip Billions From Biggest Fortunes at Death
- Is It Over Yet?
- Rotation Out of Megacaps
- 2.5 Million ‘Lost Cars’ Due to Chip Shortage
- Buffett’s ESG Snub Risks Alienating Wall Street
- The Big Stakes in the Gates Divorce
- Ethical Stand Against Mined Diamonds
- Going Vegan
- Take Over the Business World
- Crying About Competition
The Dow Jones Industrial Average started May on the right foot, with the index climbing over 200 points yesterday as growth names took a backseat. The trend continued overnight as DJIA futures inched up, though contracts linked to the Nasdaq and S&P 500 were off by 0.3% and 0.1%, respectively. Meanwhile, the latest data on the economy is set to arrive this morning, with U.S. factory orders expected to rise 1.3% in March, as consumers demand more goods and services and investors continue to pile into shares that would benefit most from a reopening.
Snapshot: Retail stocks led the market advance on Monday, with Gap (GPS) and Macy's (M) rallying more than 7%. Dillard's (DDS) closed up nearly 10%, while Urban Outfitters (URBN), American Eagle (AEO), Nordstrom (JWN) and Kohl's (KSS) all gained more than 5%. Many feel apparel retailers are poised for a big pickup in sales, as people order fresh attire to wear to the office or for going out to restaurants and attending other social events.
In fact, Jefferies analyst Stephanie Wissink forecasts 47.5% of American consumers are planning to purchase apparel over the next 60 to 90 days, citing data from NPD Group. A pandemic-era high for air travel was also recorded on Sunday, with over 1.6M people screened at airport checkpoints across the U.S. "Buying activity picked up within industrials... Boeing (BA) and Delta (DAL) saw heavy trading activity as investors may be taking advantage of depressed pricing and banking on reopenings," declared Chris Larkin, Head of Brokerage Product at E*TRADE Financial.
More reopening optimism: States are continuing to relax pandemic restrictions due to a series of successful vaccine rollouts. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Monday that most capacity restrictions will be lifted across New York, New Jersey and Connecticut starting on May 19, while 24-hour subway service will resume in New York City later this month. "We are no longer in a state of emergency," added Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who signed an executive order that immediately suspended the state's remaining public health restrictions.
The FDA is preparing to authorize the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech (PFE, BNTX) coronavirus vaccine in adolescents 12 to 15 years old by early next week, according to the NYT, opening up the U.S. vaccination campaign to millions more people. If it is approved, the CDC's vaccine advisory panel is likely to meet the following day to review the clinical trial data and make recommendations for the vaccine's use in young teenagers.
Thought bubble: The expansion would be a major development in the country's vaccination campaign, but is likely to divide parents between those who are eager to expand the level of immunity and those that are skeptical about long-term side effects. With much of the world banking a surplus of vaccines made in the U.S., the use could also raise questions about whether the supply should be targeted to an age group that so far appears to be mostly spared from the severe effects of the disease.
Statistics: As of Monday, about 65M vaccine doses had been delivered but not administered, including 31M doses of Pfizer-BioNTech's vaccine, nearly 25M doses of Moderna's (MRNA) and 10M doses of Johnson & Johnson's (JNJ). Pfizer is authorized for ages 16 and up, while Moderna is authorized for ages 18 and up. Moderna also expects results soon from its own clinical trial involving adolescents ages 12 to 17, followed by results for children 6 months to 12 years old later this year.
Banks that are flush with cash is usually a good thing, as that generally means lots of lending, but something else is awry in the U.S. financial system. Banks like JPMorgan (NYSE:JPM) and Citigroup (NYSE:C) have recently been advising large corporate clients to move their savings out of deposits and into money market funds. According to the FT, a wave of cash flooding bank balance sheets during the pandemic is responsible for the latest flows and could have profound effects on U.S. lenders.
What's happening? In recent quarters, big banks have detailed weaker-than-expected loan demand and have pushed out the timeline of when they predict it to bounce back. In the absence of lending, extra deposits can be costly for banks, putting pressure on their regulatory ratios and eventually requiring them to hold more capital. Strategically moving the deposits to money market funds would be advantageous, as the instruments are managed via their asset management divisions and are not included in leverage ratios.
The four largest U.S. banks - JPMorgan, Citi, Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) and Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC) - amassed nearly $1T in additional deposits last year due to the scale of fiscal stimulus. Their latest earnings report also revealed that deposits collectively grew by 15% to $6.9T as of March 31, but their combined loan holdings fell 10% to $3.4T. In fact, the loans-to-deposits ratio now sits at 61.5% for all banks in the U.S., the lowest ratio in 48 years. "Even if consumers do draw down to go on trips to Disney World, and companies draw down to build out new warehouse facilities and buy new equipment, they're just not spending fast enough relative to what's coming in," added RBC analyst Gerard Cassidy.
How long will it last? It's not so clear, but it could be the trend for a while given the scale of fiscal stimulus being released into the economy. Some analysts even think it could take up to seven years or longer for the Fed's balance sheet to begin to come down and for there to be less cash in the system. The situation could also turn around, however, if loan growth or demand snaps back faster than most banks are currently expecting.
"After a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship, we have made the decision to end our marriage," Bill and Melinda Gates wrote in a statement on Twitter. The couple met at Microsoft (MSFT) in 1987, where Melinda had been working as a product manager, and the two had been married for 27 years. Though the pair in a statement assured the public that they will continue to work together at their foundation despite ending their marriage, the news could send shockwaves across their projects.
Meet the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Trust: In the latest 13F filing for the period ended 12/31/20, top holdings by value in descending order included Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK.B), Waste Management (NYSE:WM), Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT), Canadian National (NYSE:CNI), Walmart (NYSE:WMT), Ecolab (NYSE:ECL), Crown Castle (NYSE:CCI), FedEx (NYSE:FDX) and UPS (NYSE:UPS). Two stocks in which the foundation also has a large stake (more than 10% of shares outstanding) included Schrodinger (NASDAQ:SDGR) and Coca-Cola Femsa (NYSE:KOF). Most of the other holdings were below $1B in market value and their ownership consisted of less than 3% of shares outstanding in the associated stock.
Gates dropped out of Harvard University to start Microsoft with childhood pal Paul Allen in 1975. He was Microsoft's CEO until 2000, but has since scaled back his involvement. He transitioned out of a day-to-day role in Microsoft in 2008, served as chairman of the board until 2014, and last year stepped down from the board to focus on philanthropy.
Outlook: The Seattle-based Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is the most influential private foundation in the world, with an endowment worth nearly $50B. It has focused on global health and U.S. education issues since incorporating in 2000. SA readers may also recall when the world's richest person, Jeff Bezos, and his partner Mackenzie Scott called it quits two years ago. This is how their wealth ended up split between them.
Tiffany & Co. is introducing its first-ever men's engagement ring amid a rise in gender-fluid fashion trends and same-sex marriages. The line is named after the company's founder, Charles Lewis Tiffany, and will be available in three types of diamond cuts measuring up to 4.3 carats. The thicker bands, which come in either platinum or titanium, will also differentiate the rings from women's styles. Will any of the Gateses be making a purchase for their next proposal?
Backdrop: While Tiffany's is an expensive luxury retailer - now owned by LVMH (OTCPK:LVMHF) - it is also a trend-setter for the industry. In 1886, Tiffany introduced the engagement ring as we know it today, with the introduction of the Tiffany Setting, which remains one of its best-known styles to date. The company even did more than $4B in jewelry sales last year, with women's engagement rings representing about 26% of total revenue.
"Following in the footsteps of its iconic sister, The Charles Tiffany Setting honors the jeweler's long-standing legacy in love and inclusivity, paving the way for new traditions to celebrate our unique love stories and honor our most cherished commitments to one another," the company said in a press release.
Some history: With some notable cultural exceptions, most men did not even wear wedding bands until the early 20th century. During the World Wars, companies marketed the rings to young Western men fighting overseas as a comforting reminder of their wives and families back home. By the end of the WWII, 80% of grooms wore wedding bands, but it was only in the 1950s that the exchange of rings became a prominent wedding symbol.
What else is happening...
Lumber gets jacked as prices push further into record territory.
U.S. COVID-19 vaccine demand dips as vaccination rate climbs.
Monday's Key Earnings
Enterprise Products Partners (NYSE:EPD) -0.3% despite strong Q1 results.
Omega Healthcare (NYSE:OHI) +0.6% AH showing 'modest improvements.'
ON Semiconductor (NASDAQ:ON) -3.7% as investors shook off Q1 beats, upside outlook.
Realty Income (NYSE:O) +0.7% AH on pace to reach investment guidance.
In Asia, Japan closed. Hong Kong +0.9%. China closed. India -1%.
In Europe, at midday, London +0.7%. Paris +0.5%. Frankfurt +0.3%.
Futures at 6:20, Dow +0.1%. S&P -0.1%. Nasdaq -0.3%. Crude +1.7% to $65.59. Gold -0.5% at $1782.20. Bitcoin -3.4% to $56505.
Ten-year Treasury Yield +1 bps to 1.62%
Today's Economic Calendar