I updated my economic composite to reflect the release of the U.S. Labor Department’s employment report on January 9. The report showed a rise in nonfarm employment of 148,000 in December. Forecasters were looking for a gain of 191,000, according to Bloomberg News.
Preliminary numbers for the previous two months were revised slightly downward. For the year, nonfarm employment grew on average a robust 171,000 per month.
Temp employment in December rose 7,000 (+0.2%) from the previous month and climbed 4.6% year over year. The preliminary figures for October and November were adjusted downward by a few thousand.
For the year, temp employment rose on average a solid 11,000 per month, for an average increase of 4%. It’s an encouraging sign that employers, in the aggregate, are seeing enough strength in their business to hire temps at this pace.
The December level of temps was in line with my estimate, so I’m leaving my estimates unchanged. I continue to forecast modest monthly sequential increases in the BLS temps data series, equating to low to mid single-digit annual growth rates. As a result, the composite continues to signal economic growth for the next 12 to 18 months. The composite is likely to range from 2.0 to nearly 3.5 through this year, well into positive territory. I do not expect the economy to tip into recession.
The next Employment Situation report is scheduled to be released on Friday, February 2. I expect to provide an update to the economic composite shortly after the report comes out.
Figure 1 below shows the actual monthly values of the economic composite from 1991 through the present and the estimated values through nearly the end of 2019. In general, the composite remains positive during periods of economic expansion and turns negative during periods of recession. The vertical dashed lines mark the inflection points when the economy is poised to enter recession or has safely exited recession. It typically takes three consecutive months of a change in sign (from positive to negative and vice versa) to confirm a change in outlook.
My composite of publicly available forward P/E estimates puts the current forward P/E on the S&P at the intraday trade of 2,735 (Friday, January 5) at 20.5.
The S&P has climbed 11% in the four months since I made the change from “high end of fair value” to “fairly valued” on August 30, in my article on the second-quarter staffing data from the American Staffing Association.
In that time, the composite P/E has expanded 10% from 18.6 to 20.5. The last time it was this high was April, 2002. It’s hard to see much more P/E expansion in the near future. That leaves an increase in the S&P earnings estimate to power the market higher. It’s my sense that one of the components of my composite P/E, an input I’ve been tracking for well over a decade, is still one month away from advancing its four-quarter earnings estimate by one quarter.
Thus, I’m returning to high end of fair value. I have concerns the market is vulnerable to shocks at this level.
I prefer to be a more aggressive buyer at a lower P/E, perhaps around 18.0, which would equate to roughly 2,400 on the S&P. For now, I would still continue to make regularly planned dollar-cost averaging allocations to equities that investors intend to hold for the long term, such as monthly or bi-weekly contributions to a 401(K) plan.
A five-year chart of the valuation composite and the S&P 500 is below. The last two months have seen a considerable climb in the S&P and the P/E composite.
The model’s historical record is depicted in the chart below. The economic composite predicted the beginning and end of the 2000 recession and the 2008 recession. It also predicted the end of the recession of the early 1990s. Some of the data series used in the composite did not exist before 1990; hence, the start of the track record at that time.
In the two historical Overweight periods, the S&P rose 13% and 14% on an annualized basis. In the two historical Underweight periods, the S&P fell 18% and 9% on an annualized basis. In the current Overweight period, the S&P has been returning 12% annually.
For a full discussion of the Chartwell method, I refer readers to a description of the process in my April employment update, under the heading “Methodology.”
Disclosure:I/we have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.
I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.
U6 underemployment rate rose +0.1% from 8.0% to 8.1%
Here are the headlines on wages and the chronic heightened underemployment:
Wages and participation rates
Not in Labor Force but Want a Job Now: Rose +43,000 from 5.265 million to 5.308 million
Part Time for Economic Reasons: Rose +64,000 from 4.851 million to 4.915 million
Employment/Population Ratio ages 25-54: Rose +0.1% from 79.0% to 79.1%
Average Weekly Earnings for Production and Nonsupervisory Personnel: Rose $.0.07 from $22.23 to $22.30, up +2.3% YoY. (Note: You may be reading different information about wages elsewhere. They are citing average wages for all private workers. I use wages for nonsupervisory personnel to come closer to the situation for ordinary workers).
Holding Trump accountable on manufacturing and mining jobs
Trump specifically campaigned on bringing back manufacturing and mining jobs. Is he keeping this promise?
Manufacturing jobs rose by +25,000 for an average of +17,500 a month vs. the last seven years of Obama’s presidency in which an average of 10,300 manufacturing jobs were added each month.
Coal mining jobs fell -400 for an average of -63 a month vs. the last seven years of Obama’s presidency in which an average of -300 jobs were lost each month.
October was revised downward by -33,000. November was revised upward by +24,000, for a net change of -9,000.
The more leading numbers in the report tell us about where the economy is likely to be a few months from now. These were mixed.
The average manufacturing workweek fell -0.1 hour from 40.9 hours to 40.8 hours. This is one of the 10 components of the LEI.
Construction jobs increased by +30,000. YoY construction jobs are up +210,000.
Temporary jobs increased by +7,000.
The number of people unemployed for five weeks or less decreased by -18,000 from 2,253,000 to 2,235,000. The post-recession low was set over two years ago at 2,095,000.
Other important coincident indicators help us paint a more complete picture of the present:
Overtime was unchanged at 3.5 hours.
Professional and business employment (generally higher-paying jobs) increased by +19,000 and is up +488,000 YoY.
The index of aggregate hours worked in the economy rose by 0.1% from 115.9 to 116.0.
The index of aggregate payrolls rose by 0.7% from 172.2 to 172.9.
Other news included:
The alternate jobs number contained in the more volatile household survey increased by +104,000 jobs. This represents an increase of 1,267,000 jobs YoY vs. 2,055,000 in the establishment survey.
Government jobs rose by 2,000.
The overall employment to population ratio for all ages 16 and up was unchanged at 60.1 m/m and is up + 0.3% YoY.
The labor force participation rate was unchanged m/m and is also unchanged YoY at 62.7%
This was a mediocre but not bad report. There was growth in almost all sectors of employment. Participation measures were positive. Aggregate payrolls and hours increased.
But there were concerning signs of late cycle deceleration as well. The underemployment rate increased for the second month in a row, and the unemployment rate is up from two months ago. Involuntary part-time employment and those outside of the workforce who want a job now both increased. And wage growth is actually declining.
Bottom line: After several months of post-hurricane bounces, we are back to a late cycle dynamic.
(Reuters) – Intel Corp (INTC.O) said fixes for security issues in its microchips would not slow down computers, rebuffing concerns that the flaws found in microprocessors would significantly reduce performance.
The performance impact of the recent security updates should not be significant and will be mitigated over time, Intel said late on Thursday, adding that Apple Inc (AAPL.O), Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O), Google (GOOGL.O) and Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) reported little to no performance impact from the security updates. intel.ly/2CHQ89E
Intel shares fell nearly 2 percent on Thursday as investors were worried about the potential financial liability and reputational damage from the recently disclosed security issues.
The largest chipmaker confirmed earlier this week that the security issues reported by researchers in the company’s widely used microprocessors could allow hackers to steal sensitive information from computers, phones and other devices.
Security researchers had disclosed two security flaws exposing vulnerability of nearly every modern computing device containing chips from Intel, Advanced Micro Devices Inc (AMD.O) and ARM Holdings.
The first, called Meltdown, affects Intel chips and lets hackers bypass the hardware barrier between applications run by users and the computer’s memory, potentially letting hackers read a computer’s memory and steal passwords. The second, called Spectre, affects chips from Intel, AMD and ARM and lets hackers potentially trick otherwise error-free applications into giving up secret information.
Intel had said the issues were not caused by a design flaw and asked users to download a patch and update their operating system.
Intel may be on the hook for costs stemming from lawsuits claiming that the patches would slow computers and effectively force consumers to buy new hardware, and big customers will likely seek compensation from Intel for any software or hardware fixes they make, security experts said.
Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Amrutha Gayathri
They were talking about Musk’s space exploration company, SpaceX, which grew out of Musk’s “crazy idea to spur the national will” to travel to Mars–by first sending a private rocket to the red planet.
He tried to to slash the cost of his quixotic dream by buying Cold War Russian missiles to turn into interplanetary rockets. While negotiating that deal, he realized that it wasn’t lack of “national will” that held the U.S. back from exploring space.
Instead, it was a lack of affordable technology–and the high cost, he told Anderson, was the result of some “pretty silly things” in the aerospace industry, like using legacy rocket technology from the 1960s.
Anderson: I’ve heard that the attitude is essentially that you can’t fly a component that hasn’t already flown.
That’s the quote that I liked so much, especially those last six words: a “bias against risk,” because everyone is “trying to optimize their ass-covering.”
It’s funny–but also poignant. And, of course, it applies to a lot more than space exploration.
It applies to the vast majority of successful companies that get stuck producing legacy products–because they can’t risk that innovation might upset their own profit models.
It applies to the service providers that make a mockery of the word “service” (say for example, big airlines and utility companies)–because cost-cutting with crappy service maximizes shareholder value.
It applies also to temptations in our personal lives, and in the lives of those around us.
Think of the colleagues you know who hold onto uninspiring jobs for fear of going after the careers or entrepreneurial dreams they really want.
Or think of the friend you might have (I think most of us do), who stays in a lousy relationship because he or she is more afraid of being alone than of living with less than they deserve.
We’re all a little bit afraid of risk. Yet, each day represents a new chance and a new beginning. At the start of the year, that sense is especially acute.
And sometimes we need a little inspiration to take the leap.
Whatever is the thing you’re afraid of trying–a new business, a new adventure, a new relationship–maybe now is the time to give it a try.
Cast aside your risk aversion. Be uncomfortable for a while as you try something new. Accept the chance that you’ll fail.
Don’t optimize your ass-covering. Instead, optimize your opportunities. And find your own mission to Mars.
In 2018, hundreds of sports betting sites and apps allow bettors to gamble discretely from just about anywhere through their smartphones. This convenience has attracted more users to participate in the action.
Traditional payment services like banks and digital wallets have been wary of supporting online gambling, leaving room for specialized payments gateways to facilitate bankroll funding and payouts. There’s also no shortage of handicapper sites and services that offer paid analyses to less savvy gamblers.
Unfortunately, the involvement of these parties brings enhanced risk of fraud and failure. Gambling payment gateways are constantly under threat from cyber-criminals. Handicappers also don’t quite produce the wins that they promise to bettors. As such, there are opportunities for blockchain – a technology that promotes shared trust – to address these issues.
Several blockchain efforts have set their sights on bettors’ needs. For example, emerging digital currency Electroneum envisions its token to be used by online gambling services. BlitzPredict provides bettors trustworthy insights through its aggregation service. Platforms like HEROcoin even aim to decentralize sports betting.
Success of these efforts could all help create better betting experiences. Here are three ways how these blockchain services can accomplish that goal.
1 – Easier Funding and Payouts
Payments using blockchain can be completed quicker compared to traditional means. Tokens do not have to be routed through different financial institutions and clearing houses. Winnings can either be readily credited to the user’s bankroll or to a token wallet. Since tokens are now fungible assets, bettors also have the option to transfer tokens to exchanges and trade them for other crypto or fiat currencies.
However, crypto tokens aren’t without their quirks. For instance, it can be hard to tell how much a bet made in Bitcoin is actually worth in fiat currency. For ordinary people, it’s easier to discern the value of “$50” compared to “0.003 BTC.” Interestingly, Electroneum addresses this by limiting its token to two decimal places just like fiat currencies. This way, users could have an easier time estimating or converting mentally making use of crypto tokens for gambling more bettor friendly.
2 – Trustworthy Insights
Blockchain startup BlitzPredict aims to provide insights by aggregating sportsbooks and prediction markets much like a stock market ticker. This helps bettors determine which sportsbook provides them with the best possible outcomes for a given bet. The platform also enables bettors to use blockchain smart contracts to automatically place bets when certain conditions are met.
Alternatively, bettors can subscribe to handicapper services that could supposedly point them to better odds. However, the credibility of many of these so-called sports “experts” have been called to question. Many offer tips and promise sure wins for a fee even if they don’t have the credentials to back their “expertise” or the data to support their picks.
In order to promote quality insights, BlitzPredict also allows analytics enthusiasts to share their prediction models to other users. High-performing models are rewarded with the platform’s own token which could then be used to place bets using the platform. Such a rewards mechanism encourages bettors to make data-driven decisions rather than settle for hunches or bad advice.
3 – Transparent Betting
Sportsbooks are often set up so that the house always wins. Even the reputable ones will have to make money by taking a cut from transactions. Without aggregation and advanced analytics, bettors are not only likely to lose in the long term, but they may also have to absorb the cost of these cuts and fees for all the transactions they conduct.
Platforms such as HEROcoin challenge this system by offering decentralized peer-to-peer betting. Through smart contracts, bettors are free to define the conditions of wagers. Blockchain’s transparency lets users trace the flow of money and the terms.
Sports betting is still a growing market and the expansion of betting to other segments such as esports is bringing in new participants. In esports alone, studies predict that more than $23 billion will be wagered by 2020. New services should strive to create easier and more positive experiences for the benefit of these new bettors joining the scene.
Fortunately, blockchain startups are already bringing transparency and trust into such activities. The use of crypto tokens could help address the lengthy and costly funding and payout processes. Better analytics and aggregation could also aid discerning bettors in making effective picks. Smart contracts can provide secure mechanisms for parties to enter and execute wagers.
But some famous people are very different in private.
It’s odd that the hotel didn’t seem to know who he was when it accepted his booking.
Moreover, if the manager had told him he’d done something — behaved rudely toward a member of staff, for example — it would have been entirely understandable that he’d be removed.
Yet to expressly look a guest in the face and say they’re being kicked out and banned for a year — just because of the videos they make — seems exactly like the haughty half-wittery many might expect from one or two snooty establishments.
But only one or two, surely.
Some will say that the mere chance that the hotel might suffer damage of some sort justifies its stance.
To which I wonder: So how do rock stars ever get into a hotel?
Now, what are the chances that members of Zdorovetskiy’s team will pay a secret visit to the Boca Raton Resort and really have a good time?
The free-fallingSears Holdings, parent company of Sears and Kmart, made a truly unorthodox decision this holiday season. The retailer, which generates the vast majority of its dwindling sales from in-store foot traffic, didn’t run any television advertisements for most of the crucial holiday shopping season.
According to the Wall Street Journal, no paid Sears commercials have run nationally since November 25th. No national Kmart commercials have run since November 24th.
The decision, according to the Journal, came from Sears Holdings chief Edward Lampert, over the objections of other executives. Lampert has championed a shift to digital marketing, even as Sears’ overall advertising spending has declined along with the company. In a statement to the Journal, Sears said the shift came after evaluating the effectiveness of its various marketing efforts.
Even in the digital age, abandoning TV entirely would be a highly unusual move for any large consumer business. While TV advertising expenditures have declined across the economy, they still makes up more than 1/3rd of all ad spending. Studies have also found that ads on television are still substantially more effective than those in other media.
The decision is particularly strange in the case of Sears, whose customers tend to be older. Americans over 44 watch vastly more traditional television than younger people, with those over 65 watching nearly three times as much television as those 18-24, according to eMarketer.
Sears, a venerable U.S. institution that was once as innovative as Amazon, has been in disastrousdecline for years now. For a time, that decline could be seen as a product of the shift from brick-and-mortar to online shopping.
But Sears has lagged even other legacy department stores in reacting to that transition. While department stores as a category now generate 15% to 25% of their sales online, eMarketer says that ecommerce generates just 9.3% of Sears’ revenue. Focusing on digital ads might be seen as an effort to move that needle. But it could also be seen as throwing marketing budget at a service that customers just don’t like, while ignoring what still (maybe, just barely) works.
It’s New Year’s Eve 2017, and people are saying, “Out with the old and in with the new.” If you’re one of the millions who cut the cord on their cable television this past year, you might find yourself unable to watch the 2018 countdown. But you don’t need cable to watch the ball drop in New York City or to see Mariah Carey make her ‘New Year’s Rockin’ Eve’ comeback on ABC. That’s because 2017 was finally the year streaming television arrived. Here’s how to live stream the New Year’s Eve countdown and ball drop for free — for auld lang syne.
You can watch Ryan Seacrest host ‘New Year’s Rockin’ Eve’ — and a whole lot more — using DirecTV Now‘s free seven-day free trial. The service costs $35 per month for a package of at least 60 live channels after the trial ends, but that stretch can get you in on should help you through the holiday and more. DirecTV Now’s basic-level plan packs local affiliates for CBS, FOX, and NBC. But before you sign up, check your local channel availability here, because not every market includes every station.
Hulu with Live TV
FOX’s New Year’s Eve coverage is hosted by Steve Harvey this year, and you can catch it on Hulu with Live TV which also offers CBS and NBC. The service also packs a big on-demand library, which could be good if you get bored of all that confetti and kissing and you just want to binge, instead. Like DirecTV Now, Hulu with Live TV is free for a week, but it runs $39 per month after the trial is up. One nice thing about Hulu’s offering is that it has an option to add on a cloud DVR service, which might be a smart long-run investment if you want to keep the service for 2018 and beyond.
Depending upon which television channel you want to ring in the new year with, Sling TV might be the choice for you. The service also offers a seven-day free preview as well as Univision and FOX, but you can only get those channels in select markets and on its higher-tiered “Blue” plan, which costs $25 per month after the trial. If you want to watch CNN’s Anderson Cooper count it down, Sling’s lower tiered “Orange” plan costs just $20 per month, and offers the cable news giant, but it doesn’t have the local networks. But while Sling TV Blue does have the NFL Network, so it might be a worthwhile investment, if you’re going to watch all the games on Sunday before the festivities begin.
If you’ve got a PlayStation 4 under your TV, PlayStation Vue might be a good choice for you. The live streaming television service offers a five-day free trial and starts at $39 per month after the promotional period ends. The base plan caters to popular live programming (other packages focus on sports and movies), so that’s probably a safe bet for streaming New Year’s programming. But like the others, channels vary by zip code, so check their availability before you sign up.
Google’s YouTube TV isn’t just a portal to its popular video-hosting website. It is also a live streaming television service that offers a seven-day free trial with 40 channels and cloud DVR capability for $35 per month (once the promotion ends). YouTube TV includes all the major networks, including CBS, FOX, and NBC — where host Carson Daly does his yearly thing — but the catch the service only available in select markets (though, there are quite a few).
It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there. In the race to make it to the top, some values often get dropped along the way. Among these stands out one; namely, honesty.
Car salesmen. Stock investors. Overzealous entrepreneurs. We all know the cliches, and we’ve all heard the stories of scams and cover-ups.
But what is it that drives people to cross boundaries to the point of deceiving customers, employees, and the world at large? Additionally, knowing all the risks associated, why would anyone resort to fraud or cheating to succeed in business?
The answer is that people don’t think too much. We’d prefer to remain blind and be able to follow temptations. But do a bit of investigation, and you’ll quickly learn how to re-frame your mind to stay on the straight path of honesty. Below are a few points to get your gears turning.
1. We think honesty slows us down.
Come on, when was the last time anyone actually read all the terms and conditions? This world runs on a fast pace, and people simply don’t have patience to go through the motions of every task. When we can cut corners, we will.
But when you’re running a company, your decisions have a ripple effect on the market you’re serving. According to an October 2014 study by Cohn & Wolfe, a global communications and public relations firm, honesty is the number one thing consumers want from brands.
So if you don’t want your startup to become a statistic of the 90 percent that fail, on average, make sure to stick to the truth when it comes to your brand. It’ll set you up for success in the long run!
2. We think we won’t get caught.
It’s midnight on a desolate rural road — who will see you run through a red light? Similarly, who would notice if you slipped an extra unlisted ingredient into a product, or told a customer half the truth, being that they wouldn’t be shrewd enough to pick up on it anyway?
These moral quandaries can be paralleled to the famous riddle: “If a tree falls in a forest where no one is around, does it make a sound?” Perhaps it makes a sound, perhaps it doesn’t, depending on who you ask.
But the tree fell, that’s for sure.
We’re beyond kindergarten. We shouldn’t be living our lives in fear of punishment from legal authorities; and conversely, in celebration of victories acquired through dishonest means. That’s a pretty juvenile mindset, and no corporation can stand on the feet of those tenets for long.
Maybe you won’t get caught at first. But repeat dishonest practices will ultimately stain your reputation, because people aren’t stupid and eventually things come to light. All it takes is one small suspicion and you’re doomed. At best, you lose a customer; at worst, you’ll wind up in jail, like Martha Stewart did in 2004.
3. It’s the norm.
It’s the sad truth, According to a University of Massachusetts study led by psychologist Robert S. Feldman, 60% of people lied at least once during a 10-minute conversation and told an average of two to three lies.
However, just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t mean it’s right. Everyone can hold themselves up to higher standards — it just takes a conscious awareness, and a lot of effort to train oneself to be honest.
Honesty is (indeed) the best policy.
But refreshingly, it’s also quite common to find businesses that run according to the principle of honesty as the best policy.
Companies all over the world are starting to not just recognize the values of honesty, but live by them. “In our business, honesty and transparency is the oxygen of our existence,” states Mati Cohen of Pesach in Vallarta, a holiday hotel program.
This echoes of the founding principles of Buffer, a social media company that embraces the coined term ‘radical transparency’; all its salaries are public and there are no secrets amongst employees, which eliminates much of the animosity that is ever-present in many workplaces.
Tirath Kamdar, co-founder and CEO of jewelry and watch company TrueFacet, says that his company runs by these standards. “The alarmingly opaque nature of the luxury watch and jewelry market motivated us to create TrueFacet. Our goal is to bring transparency back to consumers. We set the standard for jewelry and watches at market value, allowing customers to obtain these products for the most fair price. This is why our customers return time and again.”
Nurturing this character trait requires hard work and patience. Make it a point to recognize how often you utter even little white lies, and correct yourself when you slip.
I hate loving General Electric (GE), its like an ex boyfriend/girlfriend that broke your heart.
Each time you go back, you tell yourself it will be different… they have changed! Yet every time you go back, they break your heart again.
This has now happened to me twice with GE. In 2008, I was riding high, having bought GE in the mid 20’s in 2004, with the promise of an industrial revolution. The finance division was booming and I was up a cool 50% and thought I had found the one!
Then I found out they were cheating on me with someone named subprime! It nearly bankrupted the company, and Uncle Warren had to come to the rescue to save it.
I was frankly, lucky to get out when I did, selling mid panic in the low 20’s. The end result was a 4 year investment that returned roughly negative 20%. I vowed to never make that mistake again…
In early 2015, it was as if GE sent me a text saying… “I miss you… lets get lunch to catch up?” and unfortunately for me, I hit reply. And just like that, we were back together.
The stock had been consolidating all year, and Jeff Immelt had on his shiniest used car salesmen hat, singing sweet nothings into my ear of buybacks, the disposal of the finance assets and refocusing on core industrial operations.
Blah, blah, blah! Next thing I know, this pretty little stock I re bought at 24 and had me sitting on 35% gains, gets cut in half… Apparently the company had a nasty secret spending habit they hid for years and years.
So I had a decision to make mid 2017, do I bail again and take another 20%+ loss? Is this stock destined to break my heart again and again until nothing is left?
I did some soul searching… deep in the woods. And had decided again to leave, never to return.
But as I was leaving the door, with my bags packed, and my prized, signed picture of the Jamaican bobsled team in toe, an event made me hit the pause button.
Jeff Immelt had decided to “step down.”
This left me in a holding pattern for months, until Nov 13th. When new CEO John Flannery issued 2018 guidance that was, lets be kind and just say disastrous. Lowering even the lowest of bars for 2018 to EPS of $1-$1.07.
So, why am I still a holder of GE stock?
To squeeze some more juice out of my “ex” metaphor, GE just checked itself into rehab!
It now realizes it has a serious problem, it has overspent and or had disastrous timing on virtually every major deal it has done in the last 10-15 years. Alstrom, check. Oil assets, check. Finance disposal, check. Buyback, check.
Mr Flannery appears to not need a second corporate jet to follow him around “just in case” unlike Mr Immelt. He also seems to be dead set on costs, which with GE in its current structure will keep him busy for a while.
Why not close your position?
You think I am crazy don’t you, why in the world would I consider keeping or perhaps doubling my position in a stock that has done nothing but hurt me?
The reason is pretty simple, all of the dirty laundry appears to be in the open now. No more secret spending accounts or ill researched / timed acquisitions (for now). Mr Flannery has all but told anyone that will listen that the rest of 2017 and all of 2018 will suck, and to not invest.
He didn’t “kitchen sink” an earnings report, he lit the whole house on fire.
Mr Flannery has called for a new approach to doing business at GE and more importantly to transparency, apparently not subscribing to Immelt’s pyramid scheme like approach to GE’s cash flow. He has acknowledged the pension shortfall, which I am sure will come up in the comments section of this article. Also shrinking the board from a frat house of 18 to a GE focused 12, preaching honesty (imagine that) and accountability in the new GE.
So far I am digging the new CEO and currently am in tacit agreement with his broad outline.
What was the new CEO given to work with?
I’m glad you asked! GE in my opinion has a very strong set of business’s to work with, below I have outlined the 6 major divisions it currently operates.
Power- GE’s power business is huge, with an installed base in every major country in the world. They claim to produce 1/3rd of the worlds electricity through gas, steam and nuclear turbines. This is a core division for GE, and one that recently has helped drive them directly into a ditch, as overcapacity, technical issues and in my view an ill timed Alstrom acquisition weigh on earnings at the division.
However, GE power does have many redeeming qualities. They are a technology leader in the industry whilst having deep relationships with customers in a field that honestly does not have all that many options. Near term however, look for deep cuts in expectations at the unit until the smoke clears.
Aviation- The companies Aviation segment has been a bright spot in recent results, with continued wins and new product introductions, for example LEAP, its new narrow body engine that from what I can find is truly state of the art, with a 15% fuel improvement, increased reliability, weighs 500 lbs less and is 3D printed (which, lets face it, is just cool!)
This division looks set to continue to preform well in the near term and may be looked at as an example for the rest of the company.
Transportation- The transportation segment is mostly composed of GE’s rail assets and is thought to perhaps be on the chopping block for divestiture. They build locomotives with a large portion of revenue coming from the services side of the business, which is something I like to see. They are a global leader in the industry and the mix of technology and services is impressive.
However the division has been lackluster of late and the strategic fit is questionable and thus may not make sense for them to keep. They did just win a 200 locomotive order from Canadian National Railway (CNI) but it may be prudent to offload this asset to focus on core business.
I sort of hate to see this business go, as it truly is world class. However GE hopefully will use proceeds here to either reduce debt or shore up the oft cited pension shortfall.
Healthcare- GE has a broad and diverse set of healthcare assets, providing imaging, healthcare cloud, cardiology, orthopedics and anesthesia equipment, among multiple other products and services.
This has been a strong performer for the company and what I would consider another core holding of GE, this division looks to be a good fit with its digital offerings and will likely continue to buoy the company during this current slump.
BHGE- This is a division that really makes me mad, and I struggle to remain calm in my writing. Jeff Immelts timing was so bad that it feels like it was on purpose. Immelt decided to buy a bunch of oil services companies, seemingly at the absolute top of the oil market. Grrr.
Anyways, GE Baker Hughes as it is now called is the 2nd largest oil services company in the world and to be fair is actually a very good company, and is a technology leader in the industry along side Halliburton (HAL). So basically it is the second prettiest girl in a leper colony.
Oil services, seem in my opinion to be stuck in a pretty serious long term rut and GE, I believe will look to dispose of this asset likely through a spin off off or divestiture of its stake rather quickly. Perhaps GE could offer Immelt a stake in this spin off in return for the GE stock he so graciously awarded himself during his charade.
Renewables- The renewables division is home to a world class wind energy turbine manufacturer, along with in my opinion is the most valuable part, its services segment. GE has established itself as the worlds number 2 wind turbine company behind Vestas Wind Energy (OTCPK:VWDRY). The company also has an emerging offshore wind and hydro power segment that are lacking scale currently, but hold long term promise.
The wind market this year has suffered from intense competitive pressures thus dragging results, however this also looks to be a core division for GE in the future.
So why am I sticking with GE this time – and may be looking to “pop the question” soon?
The companies potential is just so damn pretty! GE lines up well with my vision of the mega trends of the future.
In my mind, a company must both show an ability for growth, while possessing a solid balance sheet with operating discipline from which to build. Under Mr Immelt, GE, in hindsight obviously stood much closer to the crazy side of Mr Barney Stinson’s famed graph below.
Mr Flannery seems to be dead set on adjusting the results of the above graph.
After the dust settles from the recent house fire Mr Flannery has set ablaze, I am envisioning 4 major divisions of GE remaining. Power, Aviation, Healthcare & Renewables.
All 4 remaining divisions fit into my vision- with 3 qualifying in my mind as mega trends. Power, Aviation & Renewables.
Healthcare I view as a great business as well but does not fit as a mega trend in my book with so many unknowns as to the future in the industry.
Power- Power is (obviously) a key need for the future as more and more countries look to move to gas powered plants and away from coal. With the world estimated to need an additional 50% more electricity in the next 20 years, perhaps adding dramatically to that if the electric car revolution is indeed realized.
GE is in great shape position wise in the industry and once the fat has been cut, along with a renewed focus on execution, this division should prove to be a key driver of profits for decades to come.
The below graph shows an estimate of the worlds need for energy into 2035.
Aviation- This division looks to be in the midst of a multi decade run, as the world continues to be more interconnected. Importantly the Asian travel market is in the early innings of what looks to be a spectacular expansion. GE I believe is in the drivers seat in this industry, both in technology and services.
My one worry is the Chinese looking to enter this market with “homegrown technology” which I believe is code for stealing IP and re packaging it. However manufacturing jet engines is an entirely different animal from copying an iPhone and progress on a Chinese engine that is both safe and accepted is likely a few decades off.
Healthcare- This industry as a whole, especially preventative medicine in my view will swell massively in the next few decades. I am going to lose a few followers over this i’m certain but I believe universal healthcare in the United States is pretty much a sure bet sometime in the next 20 years. Which would be good news for GE!
Keeping costs down will likely be a key requirement of any future health system, and with GE’s expertise in imaging for preventative medicine and its emerging analytics and software offerings, it may be able to play an important role in the health systems future, however uncertainties do exist as to the nature of cost controls and the potential for margin compression in all things health related.
Renewables- I am firmly on the alternative energy bandwagon and GE’s positioning in this industry appears very ideal. Wind energy by most measures is already roughly equal in cost per MWh to current fossil fuel plants, this will likely get better with time, and with offshore wind and hydro picking up steam in both efficiency and scale for GE, will open further avenues of growth for this division.
Alternative energy is here to stay, and GE looks to be on a path that requires no subsidies, a major pitfall to solar currently. The downside to wind energy could be the commoditization of wind turbines, however I believe that GE has the technology and service capability to differentiate themselves in this rapidly growing industry for decades to come.
My plan “as of today” is to keep my current position, roughly 2.2% of my equity portfolio in GE for the first half of 2018, to test the waters, if you will, of the new CEO. If I continue to like what I am seeing and the valuation seems fair, which I view it to be currently (a forward PE of 17ish) I may step up to the plate and double my position in the company.
Or maybe I won’t, and I will just run like heck and never come back!
GE: “Hey you, what’s up”
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Disclosure:I am/we are long VWDRY, GE.
I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.
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