HI Quality Archives - 2021

Thursday, May 27, 2021


The TJX Companies-TJX announced that its Board of Directors has reinstated its share repurchase program. The Company plans to repurchase approximately $1.0 billion to $1.25 billion of TJX stock during the fiscal year ending January 29, 2022, and currently has approximately $3.0 billion remaining under its existing stock repurchase programs. TJX also announced the declaration of a quarterly dividend on its common stock of $.26 per share payable September 2, 2021, to shareholders of record on August 12, 2021. Further, as of today, the Company continues to see second quarter overall open-only comp store sales trends similar to the first quarter.


Ulta Beauty-ULTA reported first quarter revenues increased 65% to $1.9 billion with net income and EPS increasing from prior year losses to $230 million and $4.10, respectively. Comparable sales increased 66% compared to a decrease of35% in the first quarter of fiscal 2020, driven by a 52.5% increase in transactions and a 9% increase in average ticket. During the first quarter, the company opened 28 new stores and ended the quarter with 1,290 stores. Ulta Beauty generated $296 million of free cash flow during the quarter and repurchased 1.2 million shares of common stock for $392 million at an average cost of $315.55 per share. As of 5/1/21, the company had $1.1 billion remaining authorized for future share repurchases. The company ended the quarter with $947.5 million in cash, $1.6 billion in operating lease liabilities and $1.8 billion in shareholders’ equity. For fiscal 2021, the company plans to open 40 net new stores with revenues expected in the range of $7.7 billion to $7.8 billion on comparable store sales growth of 23% to 25%. The company expects operating margin to expand to 11%, driven by gross margin expansion with EPS in the range of $11.50-$11.95. The company expects to repurchase $850 million of its stock in fiscal 2021 with capital expenditures expected in the range of $225 million to $250 million.  

Thursday, May 20, 2021


Ross Stores-ROST rang up sales $4.5 billion with net income of $467 million and EPS of $1.34. This compares to sales of $1.8 billion and a net loss of $306 million, or $0.87 per share, last year. Same store sales increased 13% from 2019 levels on an increase in basket, partially offset by a slight decline in traffic. First quarter sales significantly exceeded management’s expectations as the company benefited considerably from a combination of government stimulus payments, ongoing vaccine rollouts, easing of COVID restrictions and pent-up consumer demand. Operating margin of 14.2% was well above plan and slightly above 2019 as leverage from the strong comparable sales gains offset the expected expense pressures from higher freight and wages, as well as ongoing COVID-related operating costs. During the quarter, Ross Stores generated $615.9 million in free cash flow, representing a stellar 129% of reported earnings, with the company paying $101.5 million in dividends. Ross Stores ended the quarter with $5.4 billion in cash and investments, $2.4 billion in long-term debt and $3.7 billion in shareholders’ equity on its dressy balance sheet. Given the strong results and cash flow, the company’s Board authorized a new program to repurchase up to $1.5 billion of its common stock through fiscal 2022, with plans to buy back $650 million this year and $850 million in 2022. Ms. Rentler, CEO, noted, “The reinstatement of our share repurchase program reflects the current strength of our balance sheet, confidence in the company’s ability to generate excess cash after funding our growth and other capital needs of the business, and our long-standing commitment to enhancing stockholder value and returns.” For the full 2022 fiscal year, Ross expects same store sales to increase 7% to 9% from 2019 levels with EPS in the $3.93 to $4.20 range.


Cisco Systems-CSCO reported third quarter revenues increased 7% to $12.8 billion with net income increasing 3% to $2.9 billion and EPS increasing 5% to $0.68. There was broad-based strength across the business with 10% year-over-year product order growth, representing the strongest demand in nearly a decade. Product revenue increased 6% to $9.1 billion and Service revenue increased 8% to $3.7 billion. Cisco continues to make progress on transforming to more software and subscription with 81% of software revenue sold as a subscription in the quarter, up from 76% in the last quarter. Revenue by geographic region was led by 19% growth in Asia Pacific, Japan, and China. Free cash flow declined 6% during the first nine months of the year to $10.4 billion with the company paying $4.6 billion in dividends and repurchasing $2.1 billion of its common stock, including 10 million shares repurchased in the third quarter at an average price of $48.71 per share. This reflects management’s confidence in future growth and the company’s financial strength with more than $23 billion in cash and investments on its quarter end balance sheet with $9.5 billion in long-term debt and $40.2 billion in shareholders’ equity. During the quarter, Cisco closed its acquisition of Acacia Communications for $4.5 billion. Cisco is seeing encouraging signs of strength across its business segments with its technology expected to be a powerful engine for economic recovery and growth. For the fourth quarter of fiscal 2021, management expects revenue growth of 6% to 8% with EPS expected in the range of $.64 to $.69.


Hormel Foods-HRL reported second quarter sales rose 8% to a record $2.6 billion, net earnings and EPS each remained flat compared to last year, at approximately $228 million and $0.42. Free cash flow decreased 61% during the quarter to $110 million with the company repurchasing nearly $1 million of its common stock and paying $132.3 million in dividends, reflecting the company’s 371st consecutive quarter of dividend payments. Management is increasingly optimistic about generating sales and earnings growth in fiscal 2021 with the International segment expected to have a record year led by the continued strength in China, strides made in the global e-commerce business, a recovering foodservices business as restaurants open again and momentum in the deli and retail businesses. In February 2021, the company entered into a definitive agreement to acquire the Planters snack nuts business. The company expects to close the transaction in June 2021. For fiscal 2021, Hormel raised its sales guidance, expecting sales in the range of $10.2 billion-$10.8 billion with EPS expected in the range of $1.70-$1.82. These results do not include the pending Planters acquisition. “We have a very positive outlook on the foodservice industry and continue to see elevated demand in the retail, deli and international channels. As we enter this inflationary period, we will continue to offset margin pressure with price actions and supply chain improvements. Our experienced management team has a proven ability to navigate and grow our business in volatile market conditions,” said Jim Snee, chairman of the board, president and CEO.


Wednesday, May 19, 2021


TJX-TJX rang up $10.1 billion in first quarter sales compared to $4.4 billion last year when its stores were closed for 50% of the quarter due to the pandemic. TJX reported $534 million in first quarter net income, or $.44 per share, compared to last year’s loss of $887 million, or $0.74 per share. Management estimates that temporary store closures for about 14% of the current quarter, primarily in Canada and Europe, negatively impacted first quarter sales by $1.1 billion to $1.2 billion and EPS by about $.21 to $.24. First quarter Open-Only Comp Store Sales increased 16%, driven by 40% growth in Home Goods comp store sales and 12% growth in Marmaxx U.S.  During the quarter, TJX generated negative $432.7 million in operating cash flow and negative $658 million in free cash flow from negative free cash flow of $3.4 billion last year when the company temporarily suspended its dividend. The company paid $315.2 million in dividends during the quarter and redeemed $750 million in senior 2.75% notes due 6/15/2021. TJX ended the quarter with $8.8 billion in cash, $13.2 billion in long-term debt and lease obligations and $6.1 billion in shareholder equity. Management expects to reduce its debt by $2 billion in June by calling 3.5% notes due in 2025 and 3.75% notes due in 2027, thereby saving $90 million in annual interest expense. For the start of the second quarter of fiscal 2022, overall open-only comp store sales trends remain similar to the first quarter. In the second quarter of fiscal 2022, the company expects total sales and earnings per share to be negatively impacted from the temporary store closings. Due to the continued uncertainty of the current environment, the company has suspended providing financial guidance. Commenting on the future, Ernie Herrman, President and CEO said, “While the environment remains uncertain, particularly internationally, we are convinced we are strongly positioned as we emerge from this health crisis. Looking ahead, we see numerous opportunities to capture additional market share around the world and are excited about the runway for growth we see for TJX.”


Friday, May 14, 2021


Canadian National Railway-CNI announced that it submitted an enhanced binding superior proposal and merger agreement to the Kansas City Southern (KSU) Board of Directors. The KCS Board has determined CN's proposal to be a "Company Superior Proposal" and has announced its intention to terminate the previously executed March 21, 2021 merger agreement with Canadian Pacific Railway Limited (CP). CN looks forward to promptly entering into a definitive merger agreement with KCS to create the premier railway for the 21st century. CN's proposal offers KCS shareholders $325 per common share based on yesterday's closing price of CN shares, which implies a total enterprise value of $33.6 billion, including the assumption of approximately $3.8 billion of KCS debt. Under the terms of CN's revised proposal, KCS shareholders will receive $200 in cash and 1.129 shares of CN common stock for each KCS common share, with KCS shareholders expected to own 12.6% of the combined company. This represents an implied premium of 45% when compared to KCS' unaffected closing stock price on March 19, 2021. Under the terms of the revised proposal, a wholly owned subsidiary of CN has also agreed to reimburse $700 million to KCS in connection with their payment of the termination fee to CP under the merger agreement with CP. The completion of the transaction would be expected to take place in the second half of 2022.

Thursday, May 13, 2021


T.Rowe Price Group-TROW reported preliminary month-end assets under management of $1.59 trillionas of April 30, 2021, representing an 8.4% increase since year end.


Alphabet-GOOGL announced that its cloud unit has won a deal to supply computing and networking resources to Elon Musk’s SpaceX to help deliver internet service through the latter’s Starlink satellites. The Starlink satellite internet will rely on Google’s private fiber-optic network to quickly make connections to cloud services as part of a deal that could last seven years.


To support growing customer demand for cloud services in Brazil, Oracle-ORCL announced the opening of the Vinhedo Cloud region. This follows the launch of its São Paulo Cloud region last year, making Brazil Oracle's latest country offering dual cloud regions. The opening marks Oracle's 30th Cloud region worldwide and is part of Oracle's global plan to operate 38 Cloud regions by the end of 2021.

 

Regeneron Pharma and Sanofi presented "positive" Phase 3 Libtayo results in advanced cervical cancer. The data adds to previously reported data showing an improvement in overall survival with Libtayo compared to chemotherapy. "In this Phase 3 trial, Libtayo demonstrated a significant improvement in overall survival in women with advanced cervical cancer after progression on chemotherapy, reducing the risk of death by 31% compared to chemotherapy in the overall population," said Krishnansu S. Tewari, M.D., Professor and Director of the Division of Gynecologic Oncology at the University of California, Irvine and a trial investigator. "Improvements in progression-free survival and objective response rate were also demonstrated in the overall population compared to chemotherapy. Taken together, this landmark trial -- which enrolled patients regardless of PD-L1 expression status -- helps support the use of Libtayo as a potential new second-line treatment for women with advanced cervical cancer who face a poor prognosis and limited treatment options."

 

Thursday, May 6. 2021


Regeneron-REGN reported a healthy 38% increase in first quarter revenues to $2.5 billion with net earnings surging 78% to $1.15 billion and EPS soaring 86%, on fewer shares outstanding, to $10.09. Adjusted EPS, which excludes unrealized gains and losses on investments and other items, increased 50% to $9.89. First quarter revenues were boosted by $262.2 million in domestic sales of Regeneron’s antibody cocktail, REGEN-COV, approved for emergency use in the U.S. to treat non-hospitalized COVID-19 patients. The U.S. government has agreed to acquire up to 1.25 million additional doses at $2,100 per dose, resulting in payments of up to $2.625 billion in the aggregate. Excluding sales of REGEN-COV, Regeneron delivered a 20% year-over-year revenue increase. First quarter worldwide sales of products discovered by Regeneron included: Eylea, a leader in treatment for age-related macular degeneration and diabetic edema, with a 17% jump to $2.2 billion; Dupixent, a first-in-class treatment option for inflammatory diseases, surged 48% to $1.3 billion and recently approved Libtayo, now the standard of care for advanced cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma, generated sales of $101 million, up 35% from last year, with numerous new indications for the drug on the horizon. During the quarter, Regeneron generated free cash flow of $668.5 million, down 4% from last year, and free cash flow of $553.2 million, up 5%, on lower capital expenditures. The company repurchased 690,265 shares for $323.5 million, or $468.66 per average share. With $1.18 billion remaining under the current share repurchase program and a stock that, according Regeneron executives, trades below intrinsic value, the company remains active in repurchasing its shares.  Regeneron ended the quarter with $7.05 billion in cash and investments, $2 billion in long-term debt and nearly $12 billion in shareholders’ equity on its sturdy balance sheet. Looking ahead to the full year, the company expects to generate gross margins of 86% to 88% on net product sales and to spend between $3 billion to $3.175 billion in research and development.


Maximus-MMS reported second quarter revenue increased 17.3% to $959.3 million with net income jumping 191% to $80.6 million and EPS up 200% to $1.29. Growth was driven by new COVID-response work in the U.S segments, most notably U.S. Services, and employment services work in Australia. Year-to-date signed contracts as of 3-31-21 were $1.1 billion with contracts pending (awarded but unsigned) totaling $1.3 billion. The sales pipeline at quarter end was $35.6 billion, comprised of $6.9 billion in proposals pending, $1.6 billion in proposals in preparation and $27 billion in opportunities tracking. Free cash flow increased a whopping 1150% during the first quarter to $167 million with the company paying $17.2 million in dividends. With a strong balance sheet and cash flows, liquidity is not a concern at the company. Maximus is raising guidance for fiscal 2021 as a result of the improved COVID-19 response work forecast and following the recently announced acquisitions of the Federal division of Attain, LLC and Veterans Evaluation Services, Inc. (VES). Revenue is expected to range between $4.0 billion and $4.2 billion and EPS to range between $4.20 and $4.40 per share including the expected impact of the two acquisitions.

Wednesday, May 5, 2021


Cognizant-CTSH reported first quarter revenues rose 4% to $4.4 billion with net income up 38% to $505 million and EPS up 42% to $.95.  Revenue growth was driven by digital revenue growth of 15% which now represents 44% of total revenue up from 39% in the prior year period. Operating margin expanded to 15.2% during the quarter. Cognizant has over 200,000 associates working in India with the ongoing humanitarian crisis brought on by the pandemic deeply concerning. Cognizant has made a series of investments to support India during this time of need and continues to prioritize the health and safety of all their associates who continue to work from home. Total employee attrition during the quarter was a high 21%, partly due to the pandemic but also due to the intensely competitive war for talent. Cognizant is increasing its investments in recruiting and talent with a record 28,000 offers to new graduates.  Free cash flow during the quarter declined 76% to $93 million reflecting payments of taxes that had been deferred due to the pandemic and increased cash incentives to associates. During the quarter, Cognizant paid $128 million in dividends and repurchased $234 million of its common stock at an average price of $75.80 per share. Cognizant has $2.6 billion remaining authorized for future share repurchases. In addition, Cognizant spent about $340 million on acquisitions during the quarter to support future growth. The company raised its outlook for sales for the full fiscal 2021 year to a range of $17.8 billion to $18.1 billion, representing 7%-9% growth , with  adjusted EPS expected in the range of $3.90-$4.02.


FactSet-FDS announced that its Board of Directors approved a 6.5% increase in the regular quarterly cash dividend from $0.77 per share to $0.82 per share. The $0.05 per share increase marks the twenty-second consecutive year the Company has increased dividends on a stock split adjusted basis, demonstrating its ongoing commitment to bring value to shareholders. The cash dividend will be paid on June 17, 2021, to holders of record of FactSet’s common stock at the close of business on May 31, 2021.


Private sector employment increased by 742,000 jobs from March to April according to the April ADP® National Employment ReportTM. The labor market continues an upward trend of acceleration and growth, posting the strongest reading since September 2020," said Nela Richardson, chief economist, ADP. "Service providers have the most to gain as the economy reopens, recovers and resumes normal activities and are leading job growth in April. While payrolls are still more than 8 million jobs short of pre-COVID-19 levels, job gains have totaled 1.3 million in the last two months after adding only about 1 million jobs over the course of the previous five months."

Tuesday, May 4, 2021


Berkshire Hathaway-BRKB reported the company’s net worth during the first quarter of 2021 increased 1%, or $4.8 billion, to $448 billion with book value equal to $293,627 per Class A share as of 3/31/21. Berkshire earned $11.7 billion in the first quarter, including $7.0 billion of operating earnings and $4.7 billion of investment and derivate gains.

Berkshire’s four major equity investment holdings represent 69% of total equities, including American Express at $21.4 billion (which charged 17% higher during the first quarter or $3.1 billion), Apple at $110.9 billion (which pared back 8% in total value or $9.5 billion), Bank of America at $40 billion (which deposited a 28% gain in value during the quarter or $8.7 billion), and Coca-Cola at $21.1 billion (slipping 4% or $800 million).

Berkshire’s revenues increased 6% during the first quarter to $64.7 billion with operating earnings rising 19.5% to $7 billion as many of Berkshire’s businesses experienced a significant recovery in revenues and earnings following the pandemic.

During the first quarter, Berkshire’s insurance underwriting profit more than doubled to $764 million as underwriting earnings from primary insurance offset underwriting losses from reinsurance. Underwriting results in the first quarter reflected the effects of the pandemic, arising from premium reductions from the GEICO Giveback program and reduced claims for private passenger automobile insurance. Insurance investment income declined 13% during the first quarter to $1.2 billion, reflecting the significant decline in interest rates resulting in lower interest income on substantial holdings of cash and U.S. Treasury Bills. Berkshire expects interest rates, which are historically low, to remain low. This will negatively affect earnings from fixed-income investments in 2021. The float of the insurance operations approximated $140 billion as of 3/31/2021, an increase of $2 billion since year end 2020. The average cost of float was negative during the first quarter as the underwriting operations generated pre-tax earnings of $764 million.

Burlington Northern Santa Fe’s (BNSF) revenues were relatively unchanged during the first quarter at $5.2 billion with net earnings chugging ahead 5% to $1.3 billion reflecting overall higher freight volumes and lower costs due to improved productivity and lower average fuel prices. Volume was up 5% during the quarter driven by double-digit gains in consumer and agricultural products, while industrial products and coal registered double-digit declines in volume.

Berkshire Hathaway Energy reported revenues charged ahead 31% during the first quarter to $5.9 billion. Net earnings rose 25% during the quarter to $703 million reflecting increased earnings from the natural gas pipelines and real estate brokerage businesses, partially offset by lower earnings from the other energy businesses.

Berkshire’s Manufacturing businesses reported first quarter revenues rose 6% to $15.9 billion with operating earnings up 15% to $2.4 billion. The Industrial Products segment continued to be hard hit with revenues down 9% and operating earnings down 13% during the first quarter. Precision Castparts experienced lower financial results due to the pandemic and the decline in commercial air travel and aircraft production. While air travel in the U.S. is increasing, Berkshire does not expect significant increases in the level of aircraft production to occur in the near term with Precision Castparts’ revenues and earnings expected to remain relatively low in 2021. On a more positive note, both Building and Consumer Products generated strong double-digit sales and earnings growth during the quarter as residential housing construction demand remains strong with consumer product sales also demonstrating recoveries from the pandemic led by strong demand for Forest River, Brooks Sports and Duracell products.
Service and Retailing revenues increased 4% during the first quarter to $19.6 billion with pre-tax earnings soaring 67% higher to $1.0 billion. COVID-19 still has had a negative impact on NetJets and FlightSafety operations due to lower demand for aviation services. Thanks to strong demand for home furnishings and new and pre-owned vehicle sales at Berkshire Hathaway Automotive, retailing operations reported a 21% increase in sales and a 162% jump in earnings during the first quarter. McLane’s revenues decreased 2% during the quarter to $11.6 billion with pre-tax earnings motoring 59% higher to $103 million due to increased earnings from the beverage business and ongoing cost management efforts.

Berkshire’s balance sheet continues to reflect very significant liquidity and a very strong capital base of $448 billion as of 3/31/21. Excluding railroad, energy and utility investments, Berkshire ended the first quarter with $460.9 billion in investments allocated approximately 61.2% to equities ($282.1 billion), 4.3% to fixed-income investments ($20.0 billion), 3.6% to equity method investments ($16.5 billion), and 30.9% in cash and equivalents ($142.2 billion).
Free cash flow rose 77% during the first quarter to $6.8 billion. During the quarter, capital expenditures declined 15% to $2.5 billion, including $1.9 billion in the capital-intensive railroad, utilities and energy businesses. Berkshire expects capital expenditures for the remainder of 2021 to approximate an additional $8.5 billion for BNSF and Berkshire Hathaway Energy. During the quarter, Berkshire sold or redeemed a net $9.3 billion in Treasury Bills and fixed-income investments and sold a net $3.9 billion of equity securities. The $1.3 billion acquisition of the remainder of the Dominion pipeline business is expected to close in the second quarter of 2021.

Berkshire repurchases its shares at prices below Berkshire’s intrinsic value, as conservatively determined by Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger. During the first quarter, Berkshire repurchased $6.6 billion of its common stock. These repurchases included 4,545,124 Class B shares acquired at an average price of $251.40 per share and 1,113 Class A shares purchased at an average price of $396,163 per share during March 2021. After quarter end, it appears Berkshire has acquired an additional $1.3 billion of its common stock based on its lower share count on the 10-Q as of 4/22/21.

Subsequent to the annual meeting, Warren Buffett announced that Greg Abel, Vice Chairman, would be Buffett’s future successor. We believe Mr. Abel will be more than able to continue growing Berkshire and maintaining its culture in the decades ahead.

Friday, April 30, 2021


Paychex-PAYX announced that its board of directors approved a $.04 increase in the company’s regular quarterly dividend, an increase of 6%. The dividend will increase from $.62 per share to $.66 per share and is payable May 27, 2021 to shareholders of record May 12, 2021.

Thursday, April 29, 2021


T. Rowe Price-TROW reported first quarter revenues rose 25% to $1.8 billion with net income and EPS each more than doubling to $749.4 million and $3.17, respectively. Assets under management ended the quarter at $1.52 trillion, a $47.5 billion or 3.2% increase since year end. Net client inflows accounted for $1.2 billion of the increase with net market appreciation and gains accounting for $46.3 billion of the increase. The doubling of net earnings was due in large part to non-operating income of $102.1 million during the quarter compared to a non-operating loss of $500.3 million in the prior year period reflecting the impact on the firm’s investment portfolio of strong market returns this quarter compared to significant market losses last year as the pandemic ensued. T. Rowe Price remains debt-free with ample liquidity including $6.9 billion in cash and investments. During the past quarter, T. Rowe Price repurchased 1.6 million shares of its common stock for $267.6 million at an average price of $164.22 per share.


Mastercard-MA reported first quarter revenues increased 4% to $4.2 billion with net income increasing 8% to $1.8 billion and EPS increasing 9% to $1.83. Worldwide Gross Dollar Volume increased 8% to $1.7 trillion as domestic spending returned to pre-pandemic levels on the heels of fiscal stimulus and improving domestic travel trends. Switched Transactions grew 9% to 23.8 billion and the number of Mastercard and Maestro cards grew 6% to 2.8 billion. By segment, Domestic Assessments revenues increased 7% to $1.8 billion, Transaction Processing increased 7% to $2.4 billion and Other Revenues charged ahead 27% to $1.35 billion, primarily driven by Mastercard’s Cyber & Intelligence and Data & Services solutions. These revenue gains were partially offset by a 23% decline in Cross-Border Volume Fees to $932 million as international travel remained stalled due to the pandemic and a 6% increase in Rebates and Incentives to $2.3 billion. During the quarter, Mastercard generated $1.4 billion in free cash flow, down 19% from last year.  Mastercard paid $439 million in dividends during the quarter and repurchased $1.4 billion shares for an average cost per share of $358.97, which leaves $8.1 billion remaining under the current repurchase authorization. The company ended the quarter with $7.7 billion in cash and investments, $13.2 billion in long-term debt and $6.3 billion in shareholders’ equity. Looking ahead to the second quarter, management expects revenues to increase in the low-to-mid 20% range. “We started the year with good momentum, delivering positive net revenue growth this quarter, and are encouraged by the return of domestic spending levels to pre-pandemic trends,” said Michael Miebach, Mastercard CEO. “We continued to execute against our strategic objectives, as we signed notable new deals and broadened existing relationships with key global partners. We’ve made strong progress in delivering on our multi-rail strategy, as we integrate the Finicity and Nets corporate services teams. And, we continue to invest for the long-term, adding to our trust and digital identity capabilities with the planned acquisition of Ekata.”


Wednesday, April 28, 2021



Apple-AAPL reported record second quarter revenue of $89.6 billion, up a shiny 54% year over year, with net income and EPS more than doubling to $23.6 billion and $1.40, respectively. Apple delivered revenue records in each geographic segment and strong double-digit growth in each product category. Americas sales increased 35% to $34.3 billion, Europe sales increased 56% to $22.3 billion, Greater China sales jumped 87% from pandemic lows to $17.7 billion, Japan increased 49% to $7.7 billion and Rest of Asia Pacific sales jumped 94% to $7.5 billion. By product, iPhone sales surged 66% to $47.9 billion as consumers scooped up the iPhone 12 family of phones, the first 5G-enabled phone offered by Apple. Mac sales jumped 70% to $9.1 billion with the last three quarters the “best ever” for Mac sales, driven by Apple’s innovative M1 chip and the work-and-learn from home trend. iPad sales soared 79% to $7.8 billion with 50% of the sales to new customers which drove iPad’s installed base to new records. Wearables, Home and Accessories sales grew 25% to $7.8 billion and Services sales increase 27% with the number of paid subscribers growing by 145 million from last year to 660 million. During the quarter, Apple generated nearly $22 billion in free cash flow with the company returning $23 billion to shareholders through share repurchases of $19 billion at an average cost per share of $129.25 and dividends of $3.4 billion. Given the confidence in its future, Apple announced a new $90 billion share buyback program and a 7% increase in the quarterly dividend to 22 cents per share. Apple ended the quarter with $204 billion in cash and investments and $122 billion in long-term debt, resulting in an $83 million net cash position. The company remains committed to achieving a neutral net cash position over time. Given the strength of Apple's business model that connects hardware to software and services, the company remains committed to returning cash to shareholders while investing confidently in the future. To that end, Apple announced plans to invest $430 billion in the U.S. with the expectation of creating 20,000 new jobs. Given the uncertainly surrounding the pandemic, Apple declined to give sales guidance, but said it expects the sequential decline in iPhone sales from the March to June quarter to be greater than the historic average of 13% due to the late launch of the iPhone 12 and expected supply chain constraints that will negatively impact Mac and iPad sales by $3 billion to $4 billion.



Facebook-FB reported first quarter revenues rose 48% to $26.2 billion with net income up 94% to $9.5 billion and EPS up 93% to $3.30. During the quarter, Facebook’s daily active users increased 8% year-over-year to 1.88 billion on average with monthly active users increasing 10% to 2.72 billion on average. The strength in advertising revenue growth was driven by a 30% increase in the average price paid per ad and a 12% increase in the number of ads delivered. Facebook expects advertising revenue growth will continue to be driven primarily by price during the rest of 2021 thanks to the shift in online commerce. Free cash flow increased 7% during the quarter to $8.0 billion with the company repurchasing $3.9 billion of its common stock Facebook has $8.6 billion remaining authorized on the previous share buyback program while announcing a new $25 billion share buyback program. The company ended the quarter with a fortress balance sheet with more than $64 billion in cash and investments, no long-term debt and $133.7 billion in shareholders’ equity. Management expects second quarter revenue growth to remain stable or modestly accelerate relative to the growth rate in the first quarter as it laps the slower growth related to the pandemic last year. In the second half of 2021, revenue growth is expected to significantly decelerate sequentially as Facebook laps periods of increasingly strong growth. Facebook  expects increased ad targeting headwinds in 2021 from regulatory and platform changes, notably from Apple’s privacy update for its new operating system.  Facebook bumped up its total expense outlook for 2021 to a range of $70-$73 billion with capital expenditures lowered to a range of $19-$21 billion.


General Dynamics-GD reported first quarter revenue increased 7% to $9.4 billion with net income up slightly to $708 million and EPS up 2.1% to $2.48. Free cash flow was a net outflow of $131 million with the company paying $315 million in dividends and repurchasing approximately 4.6 million shares of its common stock for $744 million at an average price of $161.38 per share. Orders remained strong across the company with a book-to-bill of 1-to-1 led by a book-to-bill of 1.3-to-1 in Aerospace. Backlog grew 4.5% from the prior year to $89.6 billion. Management’s outlook for the full year is for revenues to increase 3% to $39 billion with EPS in the range of $11.00-$11.05. Free cash flow is expected to increase in 2021 from already strong levels, which may lead to further dividend increases and share repurchases.



Starbucks-SBUX reported second fiscal quarter sales increased 11.2% to $6.7 billion with net earnings increasing 100.8% to $659.4 million and EPS increasing 100% to $0.56. Global comparable store sales increased 15%, driven by a 19% increase in average ticket, partially offset by a 4% decline in comparable transactions. Americas comparable store sales increased 9% while International comparable store sales increased 35%, both primarily due to lapping the severe impact of the COVID-19 pandemic the prior year. The company opened 5 net new stores during the quarter and ended the quarter with 32,943 stores, up 3% from last year. Active Starbucks Rewards Membership in the U.S. was up 18% year-over-year to 22.9 million members. Operating margins increased from 8.1% to 14.8% year-over-year, primarily driven by sales leverage from business recovery and the lapping of COVID-19 related costs in the prior year. During the quarter, Starbucks generated $2.1 billion in free cash flow and returned approximately $1 billion to shareholders through dividends. Starbucks ended the quarter with over $4 billion in cash and short-term investments and $14.6 billion in long-term debt. Starbucks updated fiscal year 2021 guidance, expecting EPS in the range of $2.65 to $2.75, revenue in the range of $28.5 billion to $29.3 billion, global comparable store sales growth of 18% to 23% and expects to open approximately 2,150 new stores. “I am very pleased with our progress to date in fiscal 2021, as our second quarter results demonstrated impressive momentum in the business with full sales recovery in the U.S. Our strong results validate our ability to adapt to changes in our environment and the needs of our customers,” said Kevin Johnson, president and CEO.



ADP-ADP reported third quarter fiscal 2021 revenues increased 1% to $4.1 billion with net earnings declining 1% to $811 million and EPS flat with last year at $1.90. New Business Bookings grew 7% with sales performance improving consistently through the quarter. Year-to-date fiscal 2021 sales are now ahead of fiscal 2020 and 2019 levels. Number of clients served grew 6% to a record 900,000.  By segment, Employer Services revenues dipped 1% to $2.78 billion with margins declining 120 basis points on continued investment in marketing and next generation platforms along with higher incentive compensation expense. U.S. pays per control declined by 6%, which was softer than expected due to the cadence of employment during the quarter. PEO Services revenue increased 7% to $1.3 billion with margins increasing 100 basis points. While Average Worksite Employees paid was flat, retention was stronger than expected and wages were higher. Interest on funds held for clients decreased 32% to $107 million on a 6% increase in Average Client Funds to $33.2 billion and a 70 basis point decline in average interest yield. During the quarter, ADP generated $2.3 billion in free cash flow with the company returning nearly $2.1 billion to shareholders through dividends of $1.18 billion and share repurchases of $902.5 million. ADP ended the quarter with $1.9 billion in cash, $2.0 billion in long-term debt and $5.7 billion in shareholders’ equity. Given the strong third quarter and the improving U.S. economy, ADP upped its fiscal 2021 guidance with revenue now expected to increase in the 2% to 3% range and adjusted EPS flat to up 1%. “Our strong results this quarter provide further evidence that our decision to maintain our investment in our associates, client service, and product has positioned us well for a recovering global economy," said Carlos Rodriguez, President and Chief Executive Officer, ADP. “We remain focused on driving greater client satisfaction, retention, and market share, and as we continue to press ahead with our Next Gen products and our digital transformation, we are emerging from this challenging economic environment a more nimble and efficient organization ready for the growth opportunities ahead."


Tuesday, April 27, 2021


Microsoft-MSFT reported third quarter revenues for fiscal 2021 increased 19% to $41.7 with net income up 44% to $15.5 billion and EPS up 45% to $2.03. By segment, Productivity and Business Processes revenue increased 15% to $13.6 billion, boosted by 22% growth in Office 365,  25% increase in LinkedIn revenue and  45% increase in Dynamics 365 revenue. Intelligent Cloud revenue increased 23% to $15.1 billion and included 50% growth in Azure revenue. More Personal Computing revenue increased 19% to $13 billion on a 34% increase in Xbox content and services revenue, a 17% increase in Search and a 12% increase in Surface sales. During the third quarter, Microsoft generated $22.2 billion in operating cash flow, up 27% year-over-year, driven by strong cloud billings and collections and $17.1 billion in free cash flow, up 24% from last year. Microsoft returned $10 billion to shareholders in the form of share repurchases and dividends in the third quarter. Microsoft ended the quarter with $130.8 billion in cash and investments, $50 billion in long-term debt and $134.5 billion in shareholders’ equity. Looking ahead to the fourth quarter, leadership expects sales in the range of $43.6 billion and $44.5 billion.



Alphabet-GOOGL reported first quarter results with revenues up 34% to $55.3 billion and net income and EPS rising more than 160% to $17.9 billion and $26.29, respectively. This strong performance was driven by elevated consumer activity online and broad-based growth in advertiser revenue. Google advertising revenue increased 32% in the first quarter, including 49% growth in YouTube ads. Google Cloud revenues increased 46% during the quarter to $4.0 billion. Alphabet’s free cash flow more than doubled during the first quarter to $13.3 billion with the company repurchasing $11.4 billion of its common shares. On April 23, 2021, the Board of Directors of Alphabet authorized the company to repurchase up to an additional $50.0 billion of its stock. Alphabet ended the quarter with more than $135 billion in cash and investments, $13 billion in long-term debt and $230 billion in shareholders’ equity on its sturdy balance sheet.



F5 Networks-FFIV reported second quarter revenue increased 11% to $645 million with net income and EPS declining 30% to $43.2 million and $0.70, respectively. Revenue growth was driven by a 20% increase in software sales to $108 million, a 17% increase in systems sales to $201 million and 4% growth in global services to $336 million. Subscriptions now account for 79% of F5’s software sales, up from 73% last year. Systems sales growth was higher than expected due to a larger than expected increase in application traffic and the emergence of 5G demand as service providers upgrade existing 4G systems to accommodate 5G traffic. Second quarter cash flow from operations declined 30% year-over-year to $128 million. During the quarter, F5 Networks repurchased $400 million shares under its $500 million accelerated share repurchase program (ASR) at an average cost of $194.91 per share. F5 Networks ended the quarter with $662 million in cash, down from $1.5 billion at year end, reflecting $440 million cash paid for the Volterra acquisition and initiation of its ASR.  Given potential supply chain issues, management lowered the bottom end of its revenue guidance with revenues for the third quarter of fiscal year 2021 ending June 30, 2021, now expected in the range of $620 million to $650 million, up 8.9% from last year at the midpoint. Non-GAAP earnings are expected in the range of $2.36 to $2.54 per share, up 12.4% from last year.



Stryker-SYK reported first quarter net sales increased 10.2% to $4 billion with net income decreasing 38.7% to $302 million and EPS decreasing 39.2% to $0.79. By segment, Orthopaedics net sales of $1.5 billion increased 21.4% in the quarter, MedSurg net sales remained constant at $1.6 billion and Neurotechnology and Spine net sales of $848 million increased 14%. During the quarter, Stryker generated $369 million in free cash flow with the company returning $238 million to shareholders through dividend payments. Stryker ended the quarter with $2.3 billion in cash and investments, $13 billion in long-term debt and $13.5 billion in shareholders’ equity. In 2021, management expects organic net sales growth of 8% to 10% and adjusted EPS of $9.05 to $9.30. "We are pleased with our results, as business picked up meaningfully in the latter part of the first quarter," said Kevin Lobo, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. "We expect this momentum to continue and are encouraged by the Wright Medical integration, which is pacing ahead of our expectations."


3M-MMM reported first quarter sales increased 9.6% to $8.9 billion with net earnings up 24% to $1.6 billion and EPS up 23% to $2.77. Sales in the Safety & Industrial segment grew 13.7%, due to high demand in respirators. 3M announced last week that they expect to reduce its dependence on virgin fossil-based plastics by 125 million pounds by 2025. Over the last two decades 3M has reduced its emissions by 70%, while doubling its revenues. During the quarter, 3M generated $1.7 billion in operating cash flow, up 39% from last year, on strong working capital management and $1.4 billion in free cash flow, up 56% on lower capital expenditures.  The company returned $1.1 billion to shareholders during the quarter through dividends of $858 million and share repurchases of $231 million. 3M reduced total debt by $0.6 billion, or 3%, strengthening an already strong balance sheet. The company’s full-year guidance remains unchanged with projected 2021 sales growth of 5% to 8%, EPS in the $9.20 to $9.70 range and free cash flow conversion of 95% to 105%.


Raytheon Technologies-RTX reported first quarter revenues rose 34% to $15.3 billion with net income and EPS increasing from prior year losses to $753 million and $.50, respectively. Earnings include $.39 of net significant and/or non-recurring charges and acquisition accounting adjustments. Backlog at the end of the quarter was $147.4 billion, including $82.2 billion from commercial aerospace and $65.2 billion from defense. RTX generated $336 million of free cash flow during the quarter and returned $1.1 billion to shareholders through dividends of $705 million and share repurchases of $375 million. Based on the strong cash position, RTX increased the second quarter dividend by more than 7%. Management increased the lower end of their outlook for 2021 and expects sales of $63.9 billion to $65.4 billion with adjusted EPS of $3.50-$3.70. In December, the company authorized a $5 billion share repurchase program and plans to repurchase at least $2.0 billion of shares in 2021, up from previous guidance of $1.5 billion, while remaining committed to paying and growing its dividend.


UPS-UPS delivered record first quarter results with sales increasing 27% to $22.9 billion and net income and EPS up nearly fivefold to $4.8 billion and $5.47, respectfully. Excluding a $2.5 billion, or $2.86 per share, mark-to-market pension benefit and transformation charges, adjusted EPS increased 141% to $2.77. Adjusted operating margin more than doubled to 12.9% on leverage from the sales growth and favorable sales mix as high-margin sales to small and medium-sized businesses advanced by 35.6%. By business segment, U.S. Domestic revenue increases 22.3% to $14 billion on a 10.2% increase in revenue per piece. International revenue increased 36.2% to $4.6 billion, led by Asia and Europe. Supply Chain and Freight revenue increased 34.3% to $4.3 billion, driven by record growth from Healthcare activities including the delivery of 196 million COVID-19 doses with 99.9% on-time delivery. UPS generated cash from operations of $4.5 billion and free cash flow of $3.7 billion. Given continued economic uncertainty, the company did not provide revenue of EPS guidance, however UPS did affirm its full-year capital allocation plans with capital expenditures of $4 billion and long-term debt repayments of $2.5 billion. The company has no plans to repurchase shares. Improved macro environment forecasts and the expectation of continuing imbalances between market demand and industry capacity bodes well for UPS stakeholders.


Monday, April 26, 2021

 

Bank of Hawaii-BOH reported first quarter revenues fell 8.6% to $163.5 million with net income increasing 73% to $60 million and EPS increasing 72% to $1.50. During the quarter, Bank of Hawaii reduced its provision for credit losses by $14 million, reflecting an improvement in the economic outlook. Deposit growth continued in the first quarter, as deposits grew $3.5 billion or 22% year-over-year, due, in large part, to government stimulus activities. Net margin in the first quarter was 2.43% down from 2.96% last year, reflecting the impact from the strong deposit growth as well as the ongoing effects of the lower interest rate environment. Noninterest expenses increased 3% year-over-year to $98.9 million resulting in an efficiency ratio of 60.5% compared to 56% last year. First quarter's expenses included $1.8 million charge related to the voluntary separation incentive program and $1.9 million in onetime charges related to the mass issuance of contactless debit cards. Bank of Hawaii maintains a strong balance sheet including a high-quality securities portfolio, good asset quality, high levels of liquidity, and a solid capital base that will allow the bank to provide financial support to customers and the Hawaiian community as needed to emerge from the COVID-19 crisis. There were no share repurchases in the first quarter, but the bank did declare its regular quarterly dividend of $.67 per share payable on June 14, 2021. The dividend currently yields an attractive 3%. “We are pleased with our financial performance during the first quarter of 2021," said Peter Ho, Chairman, President, and CEO. “Our balance sheet remains strong with deposit balances and total assets reaching new record highs, solid asset quality, and high levels of liquidity and capital.”


Canadian National Railway-CNI reported revenues dipped slightly to C$3.5 billion with net income and EPS declining 4% to C$974 million and C$1.37, respectively. Record first quarter intermodal traffic and shipments of Canadian grain and freight rate increases were offset by lower volumes for other commodity groups caused mainly by the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the negative impact of a stronger Canadian dollar and lower fuel surcharge rates. CNI’s operating ratio of 62.5% improved 3.2 points, mainly due to the partial economic recovery and reduced impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Fuel efficiency improved by 4% to 0.92 US gallons of locomotive fuel consumed per 1,000 gross ton miles while revenue ton miles, train length (in feet) and car velocity (car miles per day) all increased by 5%. During the quarter, Canadian National generated C$540 million in free cash flow, down 6% from last year, despite a 32% decline in capital expenditures. During the quarter, the company paid C$436 million in dividends, or C$0.615 per share, up 7% from last year. After pausing its share repurchases at the end of March 2020 due to the pandemic, the company resumed its share repurchases during the quarter with C$291 million shares repurchased at a weighted average cost of C$140.70 per share. Canadian National Railway’s share repurchase program once again will be paused due to the proposed combination with Kansas City Southern.  Management updated its 2021 financial outlook and is now targeting double-digit adjusted EPS growth, versus prior guidance in the high single-digit range. This guidance assumes high single-digit revenue per ton miles volume growth in 2021. CNI still targets free cash flow in the range of C$3.0 billion to C$3.3 billion in 2021 compared to C$3.2 billion in 2020.


Maximus-MMS secured two prime contracts to deliver the Restart program in South and East London, and in South and West Yorkshire, Derbyshire, and Nottinghamshire. The Restart program provides 12 months of tailored and community-based support for people that are long-term unemployed, and forms part of the UK Government’s Plan for Jobs to help people directly impacted by the pandemic. Maximus will also invest more than ten million Great British Pounds (GPB), or 13 million U.S. Dollars (USD), into hundreds of community organizations, charities, and small and medium sized businesses through its innovative Community Partnership Networks, co-locating services in towns and cities, and funding innovative support to help Restart participants develop new skills, overcome barriers, and find work. In total, the two contracts – the maximum that could be won by a single provider – are for four years with a two year option, and are valued at more than $960 million USD for the total contract period.


Apple®-AAPL announced an acceleration of its US investments, with plans to make new contributions of more than $430 billion and add 20,000 new jobs across the country over the next five years. Over the past three years, Apple’s contributions in the US have significantly outpaced the company’s original five-year goal of $350 billion set in 2018. Apple is now raising its level of commitment by 20 percent over the next five years, supporting American innovation and driving economic benefits in every state. This includes tens of billions of dollars for next-generation silicon development and 5G innovation across nine US states.


Raytheon Technologies-RTX announced that its Board of Directors declared a dividend of 51 cents per outstanding share of RTX common stock, which represents an increase of more than 7 percent over the prior quarter's dividend amount. The dividend will be payable on June 17, 2021 to shareowners of record at the close of business on May 21, 2021. "The increase in our dividend reflects our long-standing commitment to deliver consistent and growing cash returns to shareowners," said Raytheon Technologies chief executive officer Greg Hayes. "The outlook for our company is positive and we remain on track to return $18 to $20 billion to shareowners in the four years following the merger." RTX, formerly United Technologies Corporation, has paid cash dividends on its common stock every year since 1936.

 


Check Point Software Technologies-CHKP reported first quarter sales increased 4% to $508 million with net income up 2.4% to $182.9 million and EPS up 8.1% to $1.33 on fewer shares outstanding. Subscription sales, which accounted for 35% of total sales, increased 11.7% and deferred revenues increased 8% to $1.5 billion. During the quarter, Check Point generated $370.7 million in free cash flow, up 5.7% from last year, with the company returning $325 million to shareholders through share repurchases at an average cost of $120.37 per share. The company ended the quarter with $4.06 billion of cash and marketable securities, $379 million in long-term debt and $3.4 billion in shareholders’ equity on its super-secure balance sheet. Looking ahead to the second quarter, management expects sales in the $510 million to $535 million range, up 8% at the midpoint from 2020, with EPS in the $1.30 to $1.40 range, up 9.8% at the mid-point. Gil Shwed, Founder and CEO of Check Point Software Technologies, remarked, “The cyber threat landscape is reaching new levels of risk and requires a holistic security architecture to prevent the next cyber pandemic.  Our Infinity architecture can uniquely address these needs and consolidate security for the user, the network and the cloud to prevent Gen V cyber-attacks.” 

Friday, April 23, 2021


Gentex-GNTX reported first quarter revenues rose 7% to $483.7 million with net income trucking 27% higher to $113.5 million and EPS motoring 28% higher to $.46. These results were especially impressive given the parts shortages in the light vehicle production market and driven by 15% growth in international auto mirror shipments, including significant growth in the China market. During the first quarter, gross margin expanded 340 basis points to 37.9% driven by structural cost savings, product mix tailwinds related to exterior-auto dimming mirrors and Full Display Mirror unit shipment growth. Management expects to see further improvement in gross margins based on the higher sales levels that are forecasted for the remainder of the year. Total light vehicle production is expected to increase 10% in 2021 and an additional 7% in 2022. Gentex expects fiscal 2021 revenue in the range of $1.94 billion to $2.02 billion with 2022 revenue expected to grow between 8%-13%.  During the first quarter, Gentex repurchased 2.8 million shares of its common stock at an average price of $35.46 per share. The company has about 6.7 million shares remaining authorized for future share repurchases. The company ended the quarter with a strong balance sheet with more than $655 million in cash and investments, no long-term debt and shareholders’ equity of $2 billion.

Thursday, April 22,2021


Intel-INTC reported first quarter revenues dipped 1% to $19.7 billion with net income declining 41% to $3.4 billion and EPS down 37% to $0.82. Excluding restructuring and other charges, EPS declined 1.4% to $1.39. By business segment, Client Computing Group revenue increased 8% to $10.6 billion on strong PC demand with PC and Notebook unit volumes increasing 38% and 54%, respectively. Data Center Group revenues declined 20% to $5.6 billion on a 29% decline in Cloud Service Provider revenue due to difficult year-over-year comps and a 20% decline in Enterprise & Government sales that began recovering during the quarter.  Internet of Things revenue increased 4% to $914 million on higher demand while Mobileye revenue increased 48% to a record $377 million, driven by the automotive recovery. During the quarter, Intel completed the CEO transition to Pat Gelsinger who unveiled Intel's new, differentiated IDM 2.0 strategy for manufacturing, innovation and product leadership, including $20 billion capacity expansion plans in Arizona and new Intel Foundry Services. Intel generated $1.6 billion in free cash flow during the quarter with the company returning $3.7 billion to shareholders through dividend payments of $1.4 billion and share repurchases of $2.3 billion at an average cost of $57.50 per share.  While the company is committed to growing the dividend, given Intel’s $20 billion plant expansion plants, management anticipates lower future stock repurchases. Intel ended the quarter with $7.6 billion in cash and investments, $33 billion in long-term debt and $79.8 billion in shareholders’ equity. Given the solid first quarter results that exceeded expectations, management raised guidance with 2021 revenue now expected to decline 1% year-over-year to $72.5 billion with EPS down 10% to $4.60. Capital expenditures are expected in the $19-$20 billion range and free cash flow is expected to be $10.5 billion.



Tractor Supply-TSCO reported first quarter sales plowed ahead by 42.5% to a record $2.8 billion with net earnings sprouting 117% to $181 million and EPS growing 118% to $1.55. Comparable Store Sales increased 38.6% on a 21% increase in customer traffic and a 17.6% increase in average ticket. All geographic regions had positive comparable store sales growth of at least 30%, reflecting strong demand for consumable, usable and edible products and robust growth for seasonal categories. In addition, Tractor Supply’s e-commerce sales experienced triple-digit percentage growth for the fourth consecutive quarter. During the quarter, the company opened 21 new Tractor Supply stores and two new Petsense stores and ended the quarter with 1,944 Tractor Supply stores and 177 Petsense stores. The company generated $177 million in operating cash flow during the quarter and $76 million in free cash flow, up 41% from last year. During the quarter, the company returned $313.6 million to shareholders through share repurchases of $253.4 million at an average cost per share of $158.38 and dividends of $60.6 million. In January, the company increased it’s dividend by 30% to $0.52 per share. Tractor Supply ended the quarter with nearly $1.2 billion in cash, $3.4 billion in long-term obligations and $1.9 billion in shareholders’ equity. Given the strong performance during the first quarter, the company increased its guidance with revenues now expected in the range of $11.4 billion to $11.7 billion, up 38% at the midpoint, on 5% to 8% comparable store growth. Earnings per share are expected in the range of $7.05 and $7.40, up 13% from last year at the midpoint. Management expects share purchases in the range of $700 million to $800 million during 2021.



Genuine Parts-GPC reported strong first quarter results with sales up 9% to $4.5 billion with net income and EPS from continuing operations both motoring 78% higher to $217.7 million and $1.50, respectively. The positive sales growth was driven by the overall rebound in the economy, stimulus payments and the execution of key initiatives. The Automotive business posted the strongest growth with positive sales comparisons in each region of the operations. The Industrial business continued its recovery with the third consecutive quarter of improving sales trends. Genuine Parts produced its 14th consecutive quarter of gross margin expansion while managing operating costs closely leading to a substantial increase in earnings with the positive momentum expected to continue through the year. Free cash flow jumped to $253 million during the quarter driven by the higher earnings and working capital improvement with the company paying $114 million in dividends. The 2021 dividend was increased 3%, reflecting the 65th consecutive year of increased dividends. While the company did not repurchase any shares in the first quarter, it has 14.5 million shares authorized for future share repurchases which management expects to immediately resume. Genuine Parts has a strong cash position exceeding $1 billion and ample financial strength to pursue strategic growth opportunities through its disciplined capital allocation strategy. The company is well positioned to benefit from the strong economic recovery and raised its financial outlook for the full year. Total sales growth is expected to increase 5% to 7% in 2021 with EPS expected in the range of $5.85 to $6.05 with cash flow from operations in the range of $1 billion to $1.2 billion.


Biogen-BIIB reported first quarter revenues declined 24% to $2.7 billion with net income down 71% to $410.2 million and EPS dropping 67% to $2.69. These results were in line with management’s expectations and reflected the impact of generic competition on key products. Biogen is ready to launch aducanumab, its treatment for Alzheimer’s disease, in the U.S. if approval is received from the FDA with the decision expected by June 7, 2021. Regulatory approval filings for aducanumab has been submitted in additional global markets. Biogen is advancing its neuroscience pipeline with a Phase 2 study of BIIB124 meeting its primary endpoint in essential tremor. In April 2021, the European Commission granted marketing authorization for a subcutaneous injection of TYSABRI to treat relapsing-remitting MS. Free cash flow declined 49% in the first quarter to $676 million with the company repurchasing about 2.2 million shares for $600 million at an average price of $272.72 per share. The company plans to repurchase another $4 billion of its stock throughout 2021.  Biogen expects revenue in 2021 to be between $10.45 to $10.75 billion with the outlook for non-GAAP EPS raised to a range of $17.50 to $19.00.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021


SEI Investments-SEIC reported first quarter revenue rose 10% to $455.7 million with net income increasing 19% to $129.5 million and EPS up 24% to $.89, reflecting capital market appreciation and positive cash flows from existing and new clients. The company experienced strong growth with average assets under administration increasing by 21% to $821.6 billion during the quarter.  Average assets under management, excluding LSV, increased 18% to $280.4 billion. SEI Investments generated free cash flow of $126 million during the quarter and repurchased 1.2 million shares of its common stock for $66.9 million at an average price of about $55.75 per share.   The company ended the quarter with a strong balance sheet with cash and investments topping $930 million, no long-term debt and shareholders’ equity of $1.8 billion.


Maximus-MMS announced that it signed an agreement to acquire the parent company of Veterans Evaluation Services, Inc. (VES) for a purchase price of $1.4 billion. Privately held VES serves the U.S. Federal Government and has established a strong reputation with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs as a leading provider of Medical Disability Examinations to determine Veterans’ eligibility for compensation and pension benefits. The VES business will be part of the U.S. Federal Services Segment of Maximus and is expected to generate revenue of $160 million to $175 million for the last four months of fiscal 2021. This implies an annual run rate in the range of $480 million to $525 million. The impact to earnings is dependent on the valuation of acquired intangible assets and the resulting amortization. Due to the nature of the acquired entity and underlying contract types, the addition of VES will blend up the company’s average margin. The transaction will have one-time expenses, including financing charges, and ongoing interest charges. As a result, the transaction is expected to be slightly dilutive for the remainder of fiscal 2021 and should be accretive in future periods. The acquisition is expected to close in the company’s third fiscal quarter.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021


Johnson & Johnson-JNJ reported strong first quarter performance with revenues up 8% to $22.3 billion and net earnings and EPS each up 7% to $6.2 billion and $2.32, respectively. Market share gains in the Pharmaceutical business and continued recovery in Medical Devices contributed to these results. Worldwide Pharmaceutical sales increased 10% to $12.2 billion driven by double-digit growth in seven key products. Sales jumped 11% in Medical Devices to $6.6 billion with growth driven by the market recovery in Asia Pacific and the U.S. following deferred procedures last year related to COVID-19. Worldwide Consumer Health Sales decreased 2% to $3.5 billion due to negative prior year comparisons related to the COVID-19 pantry loading last year in over-the-counter products. As of quarter end, JNJ’s balance sheet remained strong with $25 billion in cash and investments and $34 billion in long-term debt. During the quarter, the company invested $3.2 billion in research and development to advance its promising pipeline and paid $2.7 billion in dividends to shareholders. In addition, Johnson & Johnson announced that its Board of Directors has declared a 5.0% increase in the quarterly dividend, from $1.01 per share to $1.06 per share. "Despite a year of unprecedented disruption, Johnson & Johnson remained committed to its established financial principles that strengthen our ability to drive long-term value for stakeholders. In recognition of our notable 2020 results, strong financial position and confidence in the future of Johnson & Johnson, the Board of Directors has voted to increase the quarterly dividend for the 59th consecutive year," said Alex Gorsky, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the company. For the full year 2021, JNJ expects reported sales to increase 9.7%-10.9% to a range of $90.6 billion to $91.6 billion with adjusted EPS expected to increase 17.3%-19.2% to a range of $9.42-$9.57.

In other news, Johnson & Johnson announced that the European Medicines Agency's (EMA) Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee (PRAC) has provided updated guidance for use of the Company's COVID-19 vaccine and confirmed the overall benefit-risk profile remains positive. The guidance follows PRAC review of a small number of cases of a very rare adverse event involving blood clots in combination with low platelet counts that can occur within approximately one to three weeks following injection with the Company's COVID-19 vaccine. Following the PRAC recommendation, the company will resume shipment of the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine in the European Union (EU), Norway and Iceland and remains committed to supplying 200 million doses.


Canadian National Railway-CNI announced that it has made a proposal to combine with Kansas City Southern (KCS) in a cash-and-stock transaction valued at $33.7 billion, or $325 per share. CNI proposes to pay $200 per share in cash and 1.059 share of CNI for each share of KCS. The cash portion of the consideration will be funded through a combination of cash-on-hand and approximately $19.3 billion of new debt. Upon closing of the transaction and including the assumption of approximately $3.8 billion of KCS debt, CNI expects to have outstanding debt of approximately $33.6 billion. With strong cash flows, the company plans to pay down the debt rapidly while pausing share repurchases until leverage is reduced. Management expects to maintain its dividend and investment grade credit rating. The combination is expected to be accretive to CNI’s adjusted diluted EPS, excluding incremental transaction-related amortization, in the first full year following CNI’s acquisition of control of KCS, and is expected to generate double-digit accretion upon the full realization of synergies thereafter. CNI currently estimates that the combination would result in EBITDA synergies approaching $1 billion annually, with the vast majority of synergies coming from additional revenue opportunities.

 

Monday, April 19,2021


Mastercard-MA took steps to advance its identity verification efforts with the acquisition of Ekata for $850 million. Ekata's identity verification data, machine learning technology and global experience combined with Mastercard's fraud prevention and digital identity programs will help businesses confidently know who their customers are and, in turn, help those customers safely interact online. Mastercard and Ekata's integrated services will build on both companies’ commitments to ensure trust and the responsible use of data. As with past acquisitions, Mastercard does not expect this acquisition to be dilutive to its business for greater than 24 months. This dilution is driven by investments in the business, including the impact of purchase accounting and integration related costs. The transaction is anticipated to close within the next six months.

Thursday, April 15, 2021


United Healthcare-UNH reported first quarter revenues increased a healthy 9% to $70.2 billion with net earnings and EPS increasing 44% to $4.86 billion and $5.08, respectively. First quarter operating cost ratio of 14.6% decreased from 15.5% last year due to the repeal of the health insurance tax and continued operating efficiency gains, partially offset by business mix and increased service, growth and innovation investments. By segment, UnitedHealthcare revenues increased 8% to $55.1 billion and Optum revenues grew 11% to $36.4 billion. During the quarter, United Healthcare generated free cash flow of $5.4 billion, up from $2.5 billion last year and representing 1.09% of reported earnings. The company returned $2.8 billion to shareholders during the quarter through dividend payments of $1.18 billion and share repurchases of $1.65 billion. United Healthcare ended to quarter with $65 billion in cash and long-term investments, $37 billion in long-term debt and $69 billion in shareholders’ equity. Based upon initial 2021 business performance trends, the company increased its full year net earnings outlook to $17.15 to $17.65 per share, up 8.5% from 2020 at the midpoint. This outlook continues to include about $1.80 per share in potential net unfavorable impact to accommodate continuing COVID-19 effects, including the residual impact of people having deferred care in 2020 and unemployment and other economy-driven factors. UnitedHealth Group expects a continued rise in pandemic-related care as the year progresses including testing, treatment and vaccinations.



PepsiCo-PEP reported first quarter revenues rose 7% to $14.8 billion with net income popping 28% higher to $1.7 billion and EPS jumping 29% to $1.24.  These solid results reflect the benefits of the company’s highly strategic acquisition activity to capitalize on additional global growth opportunities and continued investments in its multitude of billion-dollar brands, manufacturing capacity, supply chain and marketing systems. Core operating profit and EPS increased 7% and 14%, respectively, reflecting the benefits of ongoing efforts to tightly control costs. During the quarter, PepsiCo gained market share across many of its key global snacks and beverage markets with notable improvements in the U.S. snacks and beverage businesses with double-digit net revenue growth in bubly, Starbucks,  Funyuns and the SodaStream business. PepsiCo expanded its presence in the energy drink category with the launch of Mountain Dew Rise Energy while Frito’s performance benefited from the introduction of Doritos 3D Crunch and Cheetos Crunch Pop Mix. On the international front, the developing and emerging markets remained resilient despite the pandemic with double-digit growth in Brazil, Russia and China. Management expects organic revenue growth to accelerate in the second quarter as vaccination efforts accelerate and population mobility improves. For the full 2021 year, PepsiCo continues to expect mid-single-digit organic revenue growth and high-single-digit core constant currency EPS growth. In 2021, the company plans to pay $5.9 billion in dividends to shareholders, a 5% increase over last year. Share repurchases will be curtailed this year as the company focuses on investing in the business and paying down debt from recent acquisitions.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021


The FDA and CDC issued a statement regarding the Johnson & Johnson-JNJ COVID19 vaccine, recommending a pause in the use of this vaccine out of an abundance of caution. As of 4/12, 6.8 mln doses of the J&J vaccine had been administered in the U.S. CDC & FDA are reviewing data involving 6 reported U.S. cases of a rare & severe type of blood clot in individuals after receiving the vaccine. Right now, these adverse events appear to be extremely rare. Treatment of this specific type of blood clot is different from the treatment that might typically be administered. JNJ responded, “The safety and well-being of the people who use our products is our number one priority. We are aware of an extremely rare disorder involving people with blood clots in combination with low platelets in a small number of individuals who have received our COVID-19 vaccine. The United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are reviewing data involving six reported U.S. cases out of more than 6.8 million doses administered. Out of an abundance of caution, the CDC and FDA have recommended a pause in the use of our vaccine. In addition, we have been reviewing these cases with European health authorities. We have made the decision to proactively delay the rollout of our vaccine in Europe. We have been working closely with medical experts and health authorities, and we strongly support the open communication of this information to healthcare professionals and the public.”


Fastenal-FAST reported first quarter sales rose 3.7%, or 5.3% on a daily basis, to $1.4 billion with net income up 3.9% to $210.6 million and EPS up 3.7% to $.37. The first quarter results include a $7.8 million write-down of 3-ply masks as supply now exceeds demand. Growth during the quarter was largely due to higher unit sales, most notably of fastener, safety and janitorial products. Underlying demand is improving with fastener daily sale growth increasing to 14% in March. The company managed to leverage operating expenses, despite lost sales from February storms and one less selling day. Supply chain pressure and product cost inflation is leading Fastenal to broadly raise prices in the second quarter. Free cash flow increased 26% in the quarter to $274.8 million with the company paying $160.8 million in dividends. Fastenal’s balance sheet remains solid with minimal debt and ample liquidity.

Monday, April 12, 2021


Microsoft-MSFT announced they will acquire Nuance for $56.00 per share in an all-cash transaction valued at $19.7 billion, inclusive of Nuance's net debt. Nuance is a trusted cloud and AI software leader representing decades of accumulated healthcare and enterprise AI experience. The transaction is intended to close this calendar year. Upon closing, Microsoft expects Nuance's financials to be reported as part of Microsoft's Intelligent Cloud segment. Microsoft expects the acquisition to be minimally dilutive (less than 1 percent) in fiscal year 2022 and to be accretive in fiscal year 2023 to non-GAAP earnings per share. The acquisition will not impact the completion of its existing share repurchase authorization.



Mobileye, an Intel-INTC company, and Udelv, a Silicon Valley venture-backed company, announced that Mobileye’s self-driving system ― branded Mobileye Drive™ ― will "drive" the next-generation Udelv autonomous delivery vehicles (ADV), called "Transporters." The companies plan to produce more than 35,000 Mobileye-driven Transporters by 2028, with commercial operations beginning in 2023. The deal with Udelv advances Mobileye’s global mobility-as-a-service ambitions, validating the company’s technology and business approach. Mobileye plans to deploy autonomous shuttles with Transdev ATS and Lohr Group beginning in Europe. Mobileye also plans to begin operating an autonomous ride-hailing service in Israel in early 2022.
In other news, Intel’s CEO Pat Gelsinger said in a CNBC interview that the U.S. has to start building more chip capacity across the world. We are too dependent on production in a few Asian countries. The U.S. at 12% of global supply is headed to 10%. The U.S. had been 37% of global supply 20 years ago. Intel believes one-third of supply should be back on U.S. soil and provided by U.S. companies.


Regeneron Pharmaceuticals-REGN announced positive results from a Phase 3 trial assessing the ability of REGEN-COV™ to reduce the risk and burden of COVID-19 infection among household contacts of SARS-CoV-2 infected individuals. If authorized, convenient subcutaneous administration of REGEN-COV could help control outbreaks in high-risk settings where individuals have not yet been vaccinated, including individual households and group living settings.

Friday, April 9, 2021


Regeneron Pharmaceuticals-REGN announced that newly updated National Institutes of Health (NIH) COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines strongly recommend that REGEN-COV™  be used in non-hospitalized COVID-19 patients ("outpatients") at high risk of clinical progression. The new guidelines are based in part on robust clinical data involving more than 4,500 outpatients showing that REGEN-COV significantly reduced the risk of hospitalization or death by 70% compared to placebo. Despite the strong progress being made with vaccination, in the U.S. approximately 2 million people a month are still diagnosed with COVID-19 and tens of thousands are at risk of dying from COVID-19.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021


Paychex-PAYX reported third quarter revenue declined 3% to $1.1 billion with net income and EPS each down 1% to $350.5 million and $.97, respectively. Results continued to be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic although client retention remained strong and at record levels. In fact, the company had its best third quarter net client gain thanks to its assistance in helping small businesses file for the employee retention credit on tax forms and attain $60 billion as part of the pandemic’s Payroll Protection Program. Paychex received a 2021 Stevie Award as a winner for the Most Valuable COVID-19 Response. Free cash flow declined 18% year-to-date to $783.7 million due to lower earnings and working capital changes. During the past nine months, the company paid $670.5 million in dividends and repurchased 900,000 shares of common stock for $76 million at an average price of $84.44 per share. The company’s financial position remained strong with cash and investments of $1.1 billion, net debt of $804 million and shareholders’ equity of $3.0 billion as of quarter end. The company’s strong balance sheet and operational flexibility enabled Paychex to successfully manage through the ongoing impacts of the pandemic while protecting its cash flow and liquidity. With better than expected third quarter results, management raised their outlook for the full fiscal 2021 year with both revenue and adjusted EPS now expected in the range of -2% to flat. Early indications for fiscal 2022 point to service revenue growth of 6%-7% with interest income in the range of $55 million to $65 million and an operating margin of 37%.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021


Microsoft-MSFT said it has won a deal to sell the U.S. Army augmented reality headsets based on its HoloLens product and backed by Azure cloud computing services. The contract could be worth up to $21.88 billion over 10 years.


Walgreens Boots Alliance-WBA reported second quarter revenues rose 4.6% to $32.8 billion with net income from continuing operations up 6.3% to $922 million and EPS up 8.2% to $1.06. These results came in well ahead of management’s expectations despite the significant impact from COVID-19. Revenue growth reflected strong International segment growth aided by the company’s joint venture in Germany. The previously announced sale of the company’s Alliance Healthcare business for $6.5 billion is now reflected as discontinued operations in the financial statements until the divestiture is completed by fiscal year end. Free cash flow in the first half of the year increased 4.8% to $1.9 billion with the company paying $808 million in dividends. Proceeds from the sale of Alliance Healthcare are expected to be used to pay down debt and reinvested in the expansion of Village Medical at Walgreens locations which should approximate 40 locations by the end of the summer. Walgreens has administered more than 8 million vaccines to date, including 4 million in March. As vaccines become more available, Walgreens plans to administer 26 million to 34 million for the year depending on the supply. Given the better than expected first half performance and improved visibility into the second half with favorable international performance, better pharmacy margins and tax rates and the increased rollout of vaccines, Walgreens raised its adjusted EPS guidance from low single-digit growth to mid-to-high single-digit growth.

 

Private sector employment increased by 517,000 jobs from February to March according to the March ADP® National Employment ReportTM. "We saw marked improvement in March's labor market data, reporting the strongest gain since September 2020," said Nela Richardson, chief economist, ADP. "Job growth in the service sector significantly outpaced its recent monthly average, led with notable increase by the leisure and hospitality industry. This sector has the most opportunity to improve as the economy continues to gradually reopen and the vaccine is made more widely available. We are continuing to keep a close watch on the hardest hit sectors but the groundwork is being laid for a further boost in the monthly pace of hiring in the months ahead."


Tuesday, March 30, 2021


FactSet-FDS reported solid second quarter results with revenues rising 6% to $391.8 million and net income and EPS each up 9% to $96.6 million and $2.50, respectively. Annual Subscription Value (ASV) was $1.6 billion as of quarter end with organic growth up 5.5%. The operating margin expanded 90 basis points during the quarter to 29.6% because of reduced employee-related operating expenses due to the pandemic. During the quarter, client count increased 7% to 6,103 with user count up 12% to 153,355, primarily driven by an increase in wealth advisory users. During the quarter, FactSet was selected by the Royal Bank of Canada as their primary market and technology provider for their entire wealth management organization consisting of over 8,000 wealth management professionals. FactSet’s annual client retention improved to 90% year over year. Free cash flow increased 40% during the first half of the year to $201 million with the company paying $58.2 million in dividends and repurchasing $115 million of its common shares, including 222,000 shares repurchased for $71.5 million in the second quarter at an average price of $322.11 per share. The Board announced an increase of $206 million to the existing share repurchase program bringing the total available for future share repurchases to $350 million. For the full fiscal 2021 year, FactSet expects organic ASV to increase in the range of $70 million to $85 million with revenue expected to be in the range of $1.570 million to $1.585 million and EPS expected in the range of $10.05 to $10.45.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021


Intel-INTC provided a financial update and full-year 2021 business outlook. The company expects to exceed its previously communicated first-quarter 2021 non-GAAP revenue and earnings-per-share (EPS) guidance, driven by continued strong notebook demand. For the full-year 2021, Intel expects GAAP revenues of $76 billion and EPS of $4.00 and non-GAAP revenue of $72 billion and EPS of $4.55.  Intel is working aggressively with supply chain partners and leveraging its manufacturing capabilities to help with the industry-wide component shortages. Intel plans to spend $19 to $20 billion on capital expenditures in 2021 with a major expansion of its semiconductor manufacturing capacity with plans for two new factories or fabs in Arizona. This expansion is expected to create over 3,000 permanent high-wage, high-tech jobs; over 3,000 construction jobs; and approximately 15,000 local long-term jobs.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021


Regeneron Pharmaceuticals-REGN said its COVID-19 antibody cocktail still reduced the risk of hospitalization and death by about 70% among COVID-19 patients at high risk of hospitalization when prescribed a lower dose. Regeneron said that in addition to cutting the risk of hospitalization and death, its study found that its cocktail reduced the duration of Covid-19 symptoms. In both the small and midsize dose treatment groups, it took a median of 10 days for Covid-19 symptoms to resolve, compared with 14 days in the placebo groups.

Thursday, March 18, 2021


Nike-NKE reported third quarter revenues increased 3%, or down 1% on a currency-neutral basis, to $10.4 billion with net earnings racing ahead 71% to $1.45 billion and EPS jumping 70% to $0.90. Excluding a $0.25 non-cash charge last year related to a distribution model change in South America, EPS increased 15%.  By geography, North America sales declined 11% to $3.6 billion, largely due to global container shortages and U.S. port congestion which delayed the flow of inventory in the third quarter by more than three weeks, partially offset by NIKE Direct sales growth of 15%. EMEA sales declined 9% to $2.6 billion as 45% of NIKE-owned stores experienced mandatory COVID-19 related closures for the last two months of the quarter, partially offset by a 60% jump in digital sales. Today, about 65% of stores in EMEA are open or operating on reduced hours. Greater China revenues increased 42% to $2.3 billion, reflecting strong growth versus the third quarter of 2019 when sales were depressed by the impact of COVID-19, as well as continued strong digital sales growth of 44%. Asia Pacific & Latin America sales declined 8% to $1.3 billion. Nike ended the quarter with cash and short-term investments of $12.5 billion, boosted by proceeds from a corporate bond issuance in last year's fourth quarter and positive free cash flow, partially offset by cash dividends paid. NIKE continues a strong track record of investing to fuel growth and consistently increasing returns to shareholders, including 19 consecutive years of increasing dividend payouts. In the third quarter, Nike paid dividends of $434 million to shareholders, up 14% from last year. Nike temporarily suspended share repurchase activity in March 2020 to maximize liquidity during the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to the temporary suspension of the share repurchase program, a total of 45.2 million shares had been repurchased under the program for approximately $4.0 billion. Nike expects to resume share repurchases under its existing share repurchase program in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2021. 


Accenture-ACN reported strong second quarter results with revenues rising 9% to $12.1 billion and net income and EPS each up 17% to $1.4 billion and $2.23, respectively. Excluding a gain on investments during the quarter, adjusted EPS was up 10%. Operating income increased 11% to $1.65 billion with operating margin expanding 30 basis points to 13.7%. Growth was broad-based driven by 7% growth in North America and double-digit growth in Financial Services and Health & Public Services. Free cash flow jumped 92% during the first half of fiscal 2021 to $4 billion with the company paying $1.1 billion in dividends, an increase of 10%, and repurchasing $2 billion of its common shares. The company has $5 billion remaining authorized for future share repurchases. During the first half of the year, Accenture also acquired 19 companies for $1.1 billion with plans to complete at least $2 billion of acquisitions for the full year. COVID-19 hit a giant fast-forward button for businesses to securely move their businesses into the cloud through increased technology investments. As a result, Accenture’s engine of growth roared to life to meet this strong demand for its services. New booking increased 13% to a record $16 billion with record bookings in both consulting and outsourcing at $8 billion each. With outstanding second quarter financial results, Accenture returned to overall pre-pandemic growth ahead of expectations while continuing to gain market share. As a result, the company raised all its elements of its business outlook for fiscal 2021. Management now expects full year constant currency revenue growth of 6.5% to 8.5% with double-digit EPS growth in the range of $8.67 to $8.85. Free cash flow for the full year is expected in the range of $7 billion to $7.5 billion with the company returning at least $5.8 billion to shareholders through dividends and share repurchases.


Alphabet-GOOGL announced it will spend $7 billion this year on an expansion of its U.S. facility footprint, adding at least 10,000 jobs across a host of cities, among them Atlanta, Washington, D.C., Chicago, and New York. This positions Google as a major private sector contributor to the economic recovery from the COVID-19 downturn.

Monday, March 15, 2021


Facebook-FB has already connected over two billion people to authoritative COVID-19 information. Going a step further as access to COVID-19 vaccines expands, Facebook is helping 50 million people find out when and where they can get a vaccines through information and registration tools on Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp. By working closely with national and global health authorities and using its scale to reach people quickly, Facebook is doing its part to help people get credible information, get vaccinated and come back together safely. Facebook plans to expand to other countries as vaccines are available more widely.



Regeneron Pharmaceuticals-REGN
 and Sanofi announced positive results demonstrating an overall survival benefit from the Phase 3 trial investigating the PD-1 inhibitor Libtayo (cemiplimab) monotherapy compared to chemotherapy, in patients previously treated with chemotherapy whose cervical cancer is recurrent or metastatic. The trial will be stopped early based on a unanimous recommendation by the Independent Data Monitoring Committee (IDMC), and the data will form the basis of regulatory submissions in 2021.

Thursday, March 11, 2021


Ulta Beauty-ULTA reported fourth quarter revenues declined 4.6% to $2.2 billion with net income down 23% to $171.5 million and EPS down 22% to $3.03. Results were better than expected in the fourth quarter with comparable store sales down 4.8%. Improving trends in consumer demand resulted in improving trends in sales, transactions and profitability. During the fourth quarter, the company opened two new stores and ended the year with 1,264 stores. For the full year, revenues dropped 17% to $6.2 billion with net income declining 75% to $175.8 million and EPS falling 74% to $3.11 as the company was adversely impacted by the pandemic with temporary store closures. Return on equity fell to 8.8% in 2020 due to the lower earnings. Free cash flow declined 18% to $658.5 million with the company repurchasing $115 million of its shares outstanding, including 147.8 million shares repurchased in the fourth quarter for $41.9 million at an average cost of $283.49 per share. As of 1/31/21, the company had $1.5 billion remaining authorized for future share repurchases. The company ended the year with $1 billion in cash, $1.6 billion in operating lease liabilities and $2.0 billion in shareholders’ equity. For fiscal 2021, the company plans to open 40 net new stores with revenues expected in the range of $7.2 billion to $7.3 billion on comparable store sales growth of 15% to 17%. The company expects operating margin to expand to 9%, driven b gross margin expansion with EPS expect in the range of $8.85-$9.30. The company expects to repurchase $850 million of its stock in fiscal 2021 with capital expenditures expected in the range of $200 million to $250 million. The company also announced its CEO transition plan for fiscal 2021.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021


Oracle-ORCL reported third quarter revenues increased 3% to $10.1 billion with net income up 95% to $5 billion and EPS up 113% to $1.68. Excluding a one-time tax benefit of $2.3 billion related to the transfer of assets between subsidiaries, adjusted net income increased 10% to $3.5 billion and EPS increased 20% to $1.16. Cloud services and license support revenues increased 5% to $7.3 billion while Cloud license and on-premise license revenues increased 4% to $1.3 billion. Oracle’s rapidly growing, highly profitable, multi-billion-dollar cloud ERP businesses helped drive subscription revenue, which now accounts for 72% of total revenue, up 5% during the quarter. Cloud ERP subscription revenue included 30% growth of Fusion ERP and 24% growth of NetSuite ERP as Oracle continues to win business from its competitors. Oracle’s Gen2 Cloud Infrastructure business grew revenue at a rate in excess of 100%. During the quarter, Oracle repurchased $4 billion of its shares at an average cost of $62.5 per share. Trailing twelve-month free cash flow increased 3% to $12.8 billion, up 3% from last year, and represented 100% of net income. Oracle’s board increased the quarterly dividend by 33% to $0.24 per share and the share buyback authorization by $20 billion. The company ended the quarter with $35.9 billion in cash and investments, $64 billion in long-term debt and $9.6 billion in shareholder equity. Looking ahead to the fourth quarter, Oracle expects revenues to increase 5% to 7%, or 1% to 3% in constant currency, with adjusted earnings expected to increase 7% to 11% to $1.28 to $1.32 per share. Fourth quarter capital expenditures are estimated at $1 billion as the company invests in its infrastructure to alleviate supply constraints.  


T. Rowe Price Group-TROW reported preliminary month-end assets under management of $1.50 trillionas of February 28, 2021, representing a 2.1% increase since year end.


The United States plans to double its order of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson-JNJ coronavirus vaccine, procuring an additional 100 million doses.  Merck has agreed to partner with J&J to produce its vaccine.

 

Thursday, March 4, 2021


Mastercard-MA reported that despite the inclement weather felt across many parts of the country this February, U.S. retail sales excluding automotive and gasoline increased 4.6% year-over-year when adjusted for Leap Year. Online sales grew 54.7% compared to 2020. With more people watching football’s big game from home, Grocery spend was up 30% the three days prior. That contributed to the Grocery sector growing +12.4% for the month. Also known for being the month of love, February saw Jewelry spend rise +5.9% and +63.1% online. Restaurant spend remained down (-13.5%) but has showed improvement over the past two months. Furniture & Furnishings (+8.6%) continued to post solid gains as seasonally cooler weather led to home improvements and décor projects. While Apparel sales were down -5.3% overall, Apparel e-commerce sales grew +47.3%. The infusion of stimulus payments in early January appeared to boost consumer spending in January and through early February, though the impacts have waned.


Fastenal-FAST reported February sales and daily sales each rose 1.5% to $437.7 million and $21.9 million, respectively. Sales inched up 0.6% for manufacturing customers and declined 14.4% for non-residential construction. Daily sales growth by product line during the month was 17.6% growth in safety products and declines of 2.1% and 2.4% for fasteners and other products, respectively. Total personnel declined 7.4% to 20,565.


Wednesday, March 3, 2021


Brown-Forman-BFB reported third quarter revenues rose 1% to $911 million with net income and EPS each down 5% to $219 million and $.45, respectively. Year-to-date underlying sales growth of 2% was driven by Jack Daniel’s Ready-to-Drinks (RTDs), the continued international launch of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Apple and broad-based growth from Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey and Gentleman Jack. The company’s premium bourbons, led by Woodford Reserve and Old Forrester, maintained double-digit underlying net sales growth with growth in the tequila brands primarily driven higher by New Mix in Mexico. Year-to-date free cash flow increased 25% to $531 million, reflecting lower working capital requirements, with the company paying $253 million in dividends. Brown-Forman has paid cash dividends for 76 consecutive years with the dividend increased each year for the last 37 years. During the quarter, the company approved a $125 million capital investment to expand bourbon making capacity in Kentucky to meet anticipated future consumer demand. While near-term uncertainty remains due to the pandemic, the company is optimistic for the remainder of fiscal 2021 and beyond thanks to strong business and financial fundamentals.


Tuesday, March 2, 2021


Ross Stores-ROST reported fourth quarter revenues declined 4% to $4.2 billion with net income and EPS each dropping 48% to $238 million and $.67, respectively. Comparable store sales declined 6% during the quarter, reflecting the negative impact from the upsurge of COVID-19 during the peak holiday season. Lower traffic was incurred especially in California, the company’s largest state of operations, due to more stringent occupancy and operating hour restrictions. For the full fiscal year 2020, revenues declined 22% to $12.5 billion with earnings and EPS each down 95% to $85.4 million and $.24, respectively. Free cash flow increased 14% during the year to $1.8 billion with the company paying $101 million in dividends and repurchasing $177.7 million of its common shares. Ross Stores reinstated its quarterly dividend at a rate of $.285 per share reflecting the company’s strong cash position and management’s confidence in the company’s long-term prospects. For the first quarter of fiscal 2021, the company expects comparable store sales to be down 1% to down 5% compared to fiscal 2019, which management believes is a more relevant comparison given the extended closures in fiscal 2020 due to the pandemic. During the first quarter, EPS is expected in the range of $.74 to $.86, reflecting the deleveraging effect from the decline in comparable store sales, increased supply chain costs, higher wages and ongoing COVID-19 related expenses. With the continued roll out of vaccines, additional government stimulus and likely pent-up demand, Ross Stores expects comparable store sales to strengthen as they move though the year. However, earnings will continue to be affected by cost pressures and thus profitability is expected to be well below recent historical high levels. In fiscal 2021, the company expects to open 60 new locations consisting of 40 Ross Stores and 20 dd Discounts stores. Capital expenditures should approximate $700 million in 2021.

Monday, March 1, 2021


Berkshire Hathaway-BRKB reported the company’s net worth during 2020 increased 4% or $18.4 billion to $443.2 billion with book value equal to $287,031 per Class A share as of 12/31/20. Berkshire earned $42.5 billion in 2020, including $21.9 billion of operating earnings, $4.9 billion of realized capital gains, a $26.7 billion gain from an increase in the amount of net unrealized capital gains and an $11 billion loss from a write-down in the value of a few businesses, notably a $9.8 billion impairment charge related to Precision Castparts.


Berkshire’s four major equity investment holdings represent 68% of total equities, including American Express at $18.3 billion (down 3% in 2020 or $600 million), Apple at $120.4 billion (up 63% in 2020 or $46.7 billion), Bank of America at $31.3 billion (down 6% in 2020 or $2.1 billion), and Coca-Cola at $21.9 billion (down 1% or $200 million).


Berkshire’s revenues declined 4% during 2020 to $245.5 billion with operating earnings down 9% to $21.9 billion due to the adverse impact of the pandemic on operations especially in the manufacturing, service and retailing businesses. As the economy began to reopen in the second half of the year, these businesses experienced significant sequential increases in revenue and earnings as compared to the second quarter.


During 2020, Berkshire’s insurance underwriting generated $657 million in profits compared to $325 million in profits during 2019. Underwriting earnings from primary insurance offset underwriting losses from reinsurance. Underwriting results in 2020 reflected the effects of the pandemic, arising from premium reductions from the GEICO Giveback program, reduced claims for private passenger automobile insurance and increased loss estimates for certain commercial insurance and property and casualty reinsurance business. Insurance investment income declined 9% during the year to $5.0 billion, reflecting the significant decline in interest rates, resulting in lower interest income on substantial holdings of cash and U.S. Treasury Bills. Berkshire expects interest rates, which are historically low, to remain low. This will negatively affect earnings from fixed-income investments in 2021. As Buffett noted in the annual report with interest rates so low, bonds are not the place to be these days. Fixed-income investors worldwide face a bleak future. Dividend income increased 8% during the year due primarily to preferred dividends from the $10 billion investment in Occidental Petroleum. The float of the insurance operations approximated $138 billion as of 12/31/2020, an increase of $9 billion since year end 2019. The average cost of float was negative during 2020 as the underwriting operations generated pre-tax earnings of $838 million. This massive amount of float is expected to remain near its present level for many years.


Burlington Northern Santa Fe’s (BNSF) revenues declined 11% during 2020 to $20.2 billion with net earnings declining 6% to $5.2 billion reflecting the negative impact on volumes of the COVID-19 pandemic through the first half of the year. Volume was down at double-digit rates for industrial products and coal while agricultural products volume was up 4% for the year. Volumes sequentially improved and recovered overall to pre-pandemic levels by the end of the year. BNSF is an important part of the national and global supply chain. As an essential business, BNSF has continued to operate throughout the duration of the pandemic. However, the pandemic caused significant economic disruptions that adversely affected the demand for BNSF’s services. Berkshire believes BNSF’s fundamental business remains strong and has ample liquidity to continue business operations during this volatile period.


Berkshire Hathaway Energy reported revenues charged ahead 5% during 2020 to $21.0 billion. Net earnings rose 9% during the quarter to $3.1 billion reflecting increased tax benefits from renewable energy and increased earnings from the real estate brokerage business.


Berkshire’s Manufacturing businesses reported 2020 revenues declined 6% to $59.1 billion with operating earnings down 16% to $8.0 billion. The Industrial Products segment was especially hard hit with revenues down 16% and operating earnings plummeting 33%. Precision Castparts experienced lower sales across all its major markets due to the decline in aerospace sales related to the suspension of Boeing’s 737 Max aircraft and significant declines in the aerospace markets. The COVID-19 pandemic produced material declines in commercial air travel. Airlines responded by reducing and/or cancelling aircraft orders, which adversely impacted Precision Castparts’ business. The company is aggressively restructuring operations in response to the reduced volumes in the aerospace markets and reduced its workforce 40%. While restructuring actions are expected to contribute to improved margins in the future, Berkshire believes the effect of the pandemic on commercial airlines and aircraft manufacturers continues to be particularly severe. The level of aircraft production is currently expected to slowly increase beginning in the latter half of 2021. Berkshire took a non-cash $9.8 billion goodwill impairment charge related to Precision Castparts during the second quarter. Buffett acknowledged that he overpaid for Precision Castparts as he was too optimistic about the normalized profit potential of the company. Marmon and IMC also each reported a double-digit decline in pre-tax earnings during the year due to the pandemic. On a more positive note, both Building and Consumer products generated sales and earnings growth during the year thanks to growth at Clayton Homes, Forest River and Duracell.


Service and Retailing revenues declined 6% during the year to $75.0 billion with pre-tax earnings up 1% to $2.9 billion. The spread of COVID-19 had a significant negative impact on NetJets and FlightSafety operations due to lower demand for aviation services due to the pandemic. Thanks to strong demand for home furnishings along with lower costs at Berkshire Hathaway Automotive, Retailing operations reported increases in sales and earnings as stores reopened. McLane’s revenues decreased 7% during the year to $46.8 billion with pre-tax earnings declining 13% to $251 million reflecting an intensely competitive business environment which is expected to continue.


Berkshire’s balance sheet continues to reflect very significant liquidity and a very strong capital base of $443.2 billion as of 12/31/20, an increase of $18.4 billion during the year. Excluding railroad, energy and utility investments, Berkshire ended the year with $453.9 billion in investments allocated approximately 61.9% to equities ($281.2 billion), 4.5% to fixed-income investments ($20.4 billion), 3.8% to equity method investments ($17.3 billion), and 29.8% in cash and equivalents ($135.0 billion).


Free cash flow rose 18% during 2020 to $26.8 billion. During the year, capital expenditures declined 19% to $13.0 billion, including $9.8 billion in the capital-intensive railroad, utilities and energy businesses. Berkshire expects capital expenditures in 2021 to also approximate $9.8 billion for BNSF and Berkshire Hathaway Energy. During the year, Berkshire purchased a net $26.8 billion in Treasury Bills and fixed-income investments and sold a net $8.6 billion of equity securities, including the sale of all its airline investments, a sharp reduction in the Wells Fargo investment and the sale of several other bank investments. During the year, Berkshire invested $6 billion in five Japanese trading companies; more than $4 billion in a group of pharmaceutical stocks, including Merck and AbbVie; $4 billion in Chevron; and $8.7 billion in Verizon while adding several billion to the Bank of America investment. In July 2020, Berkshire Hathaway Energy reached an agreement with Dominion Energy to acquire substantially all of Dominion’s natural gas transmission and storage business. In connection with this transaction, on November 1, 2020, Berkshire paid $2.7 billion in cash and assumed $5.3 billion of Dominion debt. The acquisition of the remainder of the Dominion businesses is expected to close in early 2021. Smaller bolt-on acquisitions of $130 million were also made in 2020.


Berkshire revised its buyback policy which now permits Berkshire to repurchase shares at prices below Berkshire’s intrinsic value, as conservatively determined by Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger. During 2020, Berkshire repurchased a record $24.7 billion of its common stock. The share repurchases increased shareholders’ ownership in all of Berkshire’s businesses by 5.2%. These repurchases included 12,605,335 Class B shares acquired at an average price of $225.73 per share and 1,787 Class A shares purchased at an average price of $342,577 per share during December 2020. After year end, it appears Berkshire has acquired more than $4 billion of its common stock based on its lower share count on the 10-K as of 2/16/21. With Berkshire’s stock valuation still appearing attractively valued, we expect further share repurchases in 2021.


Maximus-MMS completed the acquisition of the Federal division of Attain, LLC for $430 million. Privately-owned Attain serves the U.S. Federal Government, with a strong reputation as an innovator with unparalleled technology services such as artificial intelligence and machine learning to support the mission-critical objectives of numerous federal agencies. The complimentary customer base of Maximus and Attain Federal offer meaningful opportunities for further expansion in the federal market. This business will be part of the U.S. Federal Services Segment and is expected to generate revenue of $120 million to $140 million for the remaining seven months of fiscal 2021. The transaction is expected to be slightly dilutive for fiscal 2021 and is expected to be accretive in fiscal 2022.


Regeneron-REGN announced detailed results from a Phase 2 proof-of-concept trial evaluating the investigational antibody cocktail REGN1908-1909 in cat-allergic patients with mild asthma. The trial met the primary endpoint of preventing early asthma reactions. The trial also met key secondary endpoints, including improved lung function and an increased amount of cat allergen that patients could tolerate following a single dose of treatment, from as early as the first assessment conducted at week 1.

Friday. Feb. 26, 2021


Johnson & Johnson-JNJ confirmed that the FDA Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) unanimously voted to recommend Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the company’s single-shot COVID-19 vaccine candidate. The next step in the process is for the FDA to decide whether to grant an EUA for Janssen's COVID-19 vaccine candidate. The recommendation of the FDA Advisory Committee is non-binding, and the final decision on authorization is made by the FDA. If authorized by the FDA, the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) will then provide a recommendation on the use and roll-out of the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine candidate. The company is prepared to supply its vaccine immediately upon EUA and expects to deliver enough single-dose vaccine candidate by the end of March to enable the full vaccination of more than 20 million people in the US. JNJ plans to deliver 100 mlllion single-dose vaccines to the US during the first half of 2021.


Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021


The TJX Companies-TJX reported fourth quarter sales declined 10% to $10.9 billion with net income and EPS both down 67% to $325.5 million and $.27, respectively. The fourth quarter results reflected the negative impact of temporary store closures due to the pandemic for about 13% of the quarter, primarily in Europe and Canada. This resulted in lost sales during the fourth quarter of about $1 billion and negatively impacted EPS by about $.18-$.21. Overall, open-only comp store sales decreased 3%, which was well above the company’s plan. During the quarter, TJX saw sales trends improve each month with positive comp store sales in January. HomeGoods double-digit comp store sales were especially strong as the store benefited from folks buying goods for their home due to remote working. Fourth quarter earnings results were also  negatively impacted by a higher tax rate and a debt extinguishment charge of $.18 per share as the company refinanced its debt to lower its borrowing costs.   For the full year, revenues declined 23% to $32.1 billion with net income and EPS each down 97% to $90.5 million and $.07, respectively. The lower sales for the year reflected the adverse impact of temporary store closures for approximately 24% of the year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. During the year, TJX’s free cash flow increased 40% to $4.0 billion as the company curtailed store openings due to the pandemic. In fiscal 2022, the company plans to open 122 new stores with capital expenditures planned in the range of $1.2 billion to $1.4 billion. The company ended the year with $10.5 billion in cash and is resuming its quarterly dividend at a rate of $.26 per share or 13% higher than the last dividend paid in March 2020. TJX currently has 690 stores that are temporarily closed due to government mandate in response to COVID-19. The company expects these stores to be closed for about 11% of the first quarter of fiscal 2022. Additional headwinds to fiscal 2022 results include continued COVID-19-related costs and higher freight, wage and supply chain costs. Due to continued uncertainty around the global pandemic, the company is not providing financial guidance for fiscal 2022.

Monday, Feb. 22,2021


Regeneron Pharmaceuticals-REGN and Sanofi announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the PD-1 inhibitor Libtayo® for the first-line treatment of patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer.  "The approval of Libtayo to treat first-line advanced non-small cell lung cancer with high PD-L1 expression means physicians and patients have a potent new treatment option against this deadly disease," said Naiyer Rizvi, M.D., Price Family Professor of Medicine, Director of Thoracic Oncology and Co-director of Cancer Immunotherapy at Columbia University Irving Medical Center.

Friday, Feb. 19, 2021


Johnson & Johnson-JNJ announced that Janssen-Cilag International N.V. has submitted for Emergency Use Listing (EUL) to the World Health Organization (WHO) for the investigational single-dose Janssen COVID-19 vaccine candidate. "Our filing with the World Health Organization marks another important step in our effort to combat COVID-19 and also in our unwavering commitment to equitable access," said Paul Stoffels, M.D., Vice Chairman of the Executive Committee and Chief Scientific Officer of Johnson & Johnson. "If we are to end the global pandemic, life-saving innovations like vaccines must be within reach for all countries."


Maximus-MMS announced that it is now supporting seven state vaccination programs with COVID-19 vaccine information and hotline services to answer common questions, address concerns about the vaccine, resolve complaints, and coordinate vaccination appointments. State programs include California, Colorado, New York, and the District of Columbia. As the nation’s largest engagement center provider for government programs, multiple states have entrusted Maximus to provide additional support for handling the unprecedented volume of vaccination requests, reduce caller hold times, and manage case backlogs. Maximus continues to play a vital role in helping states slow the spread of the pandemic and address public health needs.


Walgreens-WBA has provided more than 3 million COVID-19 vaccinations across long-term care facilities, as well as additional vulnerable populations prioritized by state and local jurisdictions. Additionally, the company has completed COVID-19 vaccine first-dose clinics in all long-term care facilities that selected Walgreens as a vaccine provider. In addition to supporting long-term care facilities, Walgreens began in-store vaccinations in 17 states and jurisdictions as part of the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program on Feb. 12. The company administered nearly all 180,000 doses of the first weekly vaccine allotment within three days. Beginning Feb. 25, Walgreens will receive a weekly allocation of more than 480,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses.


Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021


Hormel Foods-HRL reported first quarter sales rose 3% to a record $2.5 billion driven by sales growth in all four business segments. Brands such as SPAM, SKIPPY, Hormel Black Label, Applegate, Columbus and Jennie-O delivered exceptional growth during the quarter.  Net earnings and EPS each declined 9% to $222.3 million and $.41, respectively, reflecting incremental supply chain costs related to the pandemic. Free cash flow increased 27% during the quarter to $165 million with the company repurchasing $9 million of its common stock and paying $125.5 million in dividends, reflecting the company’s 370th consecutive quarter of dividend payments. During the quarter, the company announced the net $2.79 billion acquisition of the Planters snack nuts business, which is expected to close in the second quarter. The acquisition is expected to be financed through a combination of cash on hand, short-term debt and long-term debt. With the combined company’s strong cash flows, Hormel expects to repay significant amounts of the debt within 18-24 months while continuing to grow its dividend. Management is increasingly optimistic about generating sales and earnings growth in fiscal 2021 with the International segment expected to have a record year led by the continued strength in China, strides made in the global e-commerce business, a recovering foodservices business as restaurants open again and momentum in the deli and retail businesses. For fiscal 2021, Hormel expects sales in the range of $9.7 billion-$10.3 billion with EPS expected in the range of $1.70-$1.82. These results do not include the pending Planters acquisition.

Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021


Genuine Parts-GPC reported fourth quarter sales dipped less than 1% to $4.3 billion with net income from continuing operations and EPS more than doubling to $171.6 million and $1.18, respectively. On an adjusted basis, EPS was up 20% in the fourth quarter. For the full year 2020, revenues declined 6% to $16.5 billion with net income from continuing operations and EPS both down more than 70% to $163.4 million and $1.13, respectively. Excluding impairment, restructuring and other one-time items, adjusted EPS in 2020 was down less than 1% to $5.27. Automotive sales represented 66% of total sales in 2020 with industrial sales accounting for 34% of sales. By geographic region, North America accounted for 75% of sales with Europe comprising 15% of sales and Australasia 10% of revenues. While the pace of economic recovery slowed in the fourth quarter due to the spike in COVID-19 cases, the company reported its 13th consecutive quarter of gross margin expansion and continued cost savings. Free cash flow more than tripled during the year to $1.9 billion thanks to the sale of accounts receivables, improved working capital trends and lower capital expenditures. During the year, the company paid $453 million in dividends and repurchased $96 million of its common stock thanks to the robust cash flows. The company began 2021 with an excellent balance sheet, including a strong cash position and ample liquidity to support growth plans. Genuine Parts announced a 3% increase in its dividend for 2021 to an annual rate of $3.26 per share, marking the 65th consecutive year of increased dividends. The company has paid a dividend every year since going public in 1948 with the dividend currently yielding a solid 3.3%. Management expects a solid start to 2021 with strong automotive sales, continued industrial recovery and improvements in operations as the world recovers from COVID-19. Accordingly, Genuine Parts expects 2021 sales growth of 4% to 6% with profit margins expanding leading to EPS in the range of $5.55 to $5.75. Cash flow from operations is expected in the range of $1.0 billion to $1.2 billion with capital expenditures expected in the range of $275 million to $325 million for the year.


Tractor Supply-TSCO announced that it has entered into an agreement to acquire Orscheln Farm and Home in an all-cash transaction for approximately $297 million, net of acquired estimated future tax benefits of $23 million. Orscheln Farm and Home operates 167 stores located in 11 states: Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Indiana, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas, Kentucky, Illinois and Ohio. Tractor Supply’s preliminary estimates indicate the acquisition will be immediately accretive to earnings per share upon closing. The earnings accretion is anticipated to grow over time as planned synergies are achieved. Tractor Supply intends to fund the acquisition through existing cash on hand.


Under a new program from Mastercard-MA and Island Pay, the Bahamas Sand Dollar prepaid card gives people the option to instantly convert the digital currency to traditional Bahamian dollars and pay for goods and services anywhere Mastercard is accepted on the Islands and around the world. The digital Sand Dollar is issued by the Central Bank of The Bahamas and carries the same value and consumer protections as a traditional Bahamian dollar. The digital currency can be used to facilitate government disbursements, offer additional payment choices and build a more inclusive economy. In The Bahamas, there are 700 small islands and more than 5000 square miles of water. Cash money movement becomes costly, which makes a central bank digital currency (CBDC) a preferred digital payment in the region. In the future, the Sand Dollar will be offered to tourists. Island Pay’s technology platform, combined with Mastercard technology and wide merchant acceptance, has the potential to help reduce the operational distribution costs of cash and modernize the overall payments system in The Bahamas.

Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021


Hormel Foods-HRL announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire the Planters® snack nut portfolio from the Kraft Heinz Company. The proposed transaction is expected to close in the second quarter of calendar 2021.  The acquisition includes the Planters®NUT-rition®Planters® Cheez Balls and Corn Nuts® brands. Hormel Foods will acquire the business for $3.35 billion in cash in a transaction that provides a tax benefit valued at approximately $560 million, equating to an effective purchase price of $2.79 billion. The Planters® snack nut portfolio net sales were approximately $1 billion in calendar year 2020 and are expected to grow at the company's long-term organic growth target. Operating margins are expected to be accretive to the Grocery Products business in 2022 and enhance margins and cash flows for the total company. Hormel Foods expects to attain synergies of approximately $50-60 million to be realized by 2024. "The acquisition of the Planters® branded business further demonstrates our disciplined financial approach to M&A," said Jim Sheehan, executive vice president and chief financial officer of Hormel Foods. "We expect this acquisition will responsibly leverage our balance sheet and will not compromise our disciplined capital allocation policy, especially our commitment to dividend growth."



PepsiCo-PEP announced fourth quarter revenues popped 9% higher to $22.5 billion with net income up 5% to $1.8 billion and EPS up 6% to $1.33. PepsiCo ended the year on a strong note with the global beverage business having accelerated while the global snacks and food business remained resilient.  For the full year 2020, revenues rose 5% to $70.4 billion with net income down 3% to $7.1 billion and EPS down 2% to $5.12 reflecting the increased COVID-19 related costs. Return on shareholders’ equity in 2020 expanded to a tasty 52.9%. Free cash flow increased 18% to $6.4 billion during the year with the company paying $5.5 billion in dividends and repurchasing $2 billion of its common stock. PepsiCo announced a 5% increase in the dividend payment to an annualized $4.30 per share, which represents the 49th consecutive year of dividend increases. The company is not planning any large merger and acquisition activity or significant share repurchases in 2021. For 2021, PepsiCo expects a mid-single digit increase in organic revenue and a high-single digit increase in core constant currency EPS. Management assumes that vaccination efforts will accelerate during the year leading to gradual improvement in consumer mobility. At the same time, PepsiCo expects to sustain greater e-commerce activity due to more remote work arrangements.

Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2021


T. Rowe Price Group-TROW announced that its Board of Directors has declared a quarterly dividend of $1.08 per share payable March 30, 2021 to stockholders of record as of the close of business on March 16, 2021. The quarterly dividend rate represents a 20% increase over the previous quarterly dividend rate of $0.90 per share. This will mark the 35th consecutive year since the firm's initial public offering that the company will have increased its regular annual dividend.

In other news, T. Rowe Price reported preliminary month-end assets under management of $1.46 trillion as of January 31, 2021, which were relatively flat with year end.


Cisco Systems-CSCO reported second quarter revenues were relatively flat at $12 billion with net income and EPS each down 12% to $2.5 billion and $.60, respectively. These results reflect continued weakness in the enterprise (large company) segment as the pandemic continues to impact operations. Product revenue was down 1%, led by 10% growth in security products, with Service revenue up 2% during the quarter. Cisco continues to make progress on transforming to more software and subscription with 76% of software revenue sold as a subscription in the quarter. Revenue by geographic region was led by 2% growth in Europe and the Middle East. Free cash flow declined 4% during the first half of the year to $6.7 billion with the company paying $3 billion in dividends and repurchasing $1.6 billion of its common stock, including 19 million shares repurchased in the second quarter at an average price of $42.82 per share. Cisco also announced a 3% increase in its dividend, marking the 10th consecutive year of dividend increases. This reflects management’s confidence in future growth and the company’s financial strength with more than $30 billion in cash and investments on its quarter end balance sheet with $9.6 billion in long-term debt and $39.1 billion in shareholders’ equity. Cisco expects to close its acquisition of Acacia Communications for $4.5 billion in cash in the third quarter.  Cisco is seeing encouraging signs of strength across its business segments with its technology expected to be a powerful engine for economic recovery and growth. For the third quarter of fiscal 2021, management expects revenue growth of 3.5% to 5.5% with EPS expected in the range of $.64 to $.69.


Regeneron Pharmaceuticals-REGN 
and Sanofi today announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the PD-1 inhibitor Libtayo® as the first immunotherapy treatment indicated for patients with advanced basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and accelerated approval in metastatic BCC. "With today's approval, Libtayo is now approved for both advanced cutaneous squamous cell and basal cell carcinomas, building a strong foundation in dermato-oncology," said Israel Lowy, M.D., Ph.D., Senior Vice President, Translational and Clinical Sciences, Oncology, at Regeneron. "Beyond skin cancers, we also continue to investigate the potential of Libtayo in other difficult-to-treat cancers, starting with non-small cell lung cancer where an FDA decision is expected by the end of February."

Friday, Feb. 5, 2021


Regeneron-REGN reported fourth quarter revenues rose 30% to $2.4 billion with net income jumping 45% to $1.1 billion and EPS up 48% to $10.24. Fourth quarter EYLEA sales increased 10% to $1.34 billion with Dupixent sales, which are recorded by Sanofi, up 56% to $1.17 billion in the quarter. During the fourth quarter, the company signed a new agreement with the U.S. government to provide up to 1.25 million additional doses of the REGEN-COV antibody cocktail which is expected to be delivered by the first half of 2021 resulting in payments of up to $2.625 billion to Regeneron. For the full year 2020, revenues rose 30% to $8.5 billion with net income increasing 66% to $3.5 billion and EPS jumping 65% to $30.52. Return on shareholders’ equity was an impressive 31.8% for the year. The company generated $2 billion in free cash flow during the year and completed its $1 billion share repurchase program. Regeneron announced a new $1,5 billion share repurchase program which will be executed opportunistically when management believe the share prices is less than the intrinsic value of the business. The first priority in capital allocation is investing in research and development with 30 product candidates in clinical development to diversify the revenue and earnings stream and provide for long-term sustainable growth. In 2021, management plans to invest $3.0 billion to $3.175 billion in research and development.

Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021


Fastenal-FAST reported that January sales declined 3.2% to $448 million with average daily sales up 6.5% to $22.4 million on two fewer business days. Manufacturing sales increased 4.8% with non-residential construction sales down 8.9%. Safety sales were up 26.1% with fastener sales dipping 0.2% and other sales up 3.9%.


Alphabet-GOOGL and BNY Mellon collaborate to help transform U.S. Treasury Market settlement and clearance process. The Bank of New York Mellon announced a collaboration with Google Cloud to help market participants better predict billions of dollars in daily settlement failures, generate significant capital and liquidity savings, and unlock operational efficiencies. The initiative, which helps to extend BNY Mellon's growing portfolio of emerging technology capabilities, will leverage Google Cloud's data analytics, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technologies to develop new collateral management and liquidity solutions built on Google Cloud.


In other news, Google Cloud announced a new, multi-year, strategic partnership with Twitter. The company will deepen its initial work with Google and move its offline analytics, data processing, and machine learning workloads to Google's Data Cloud. This will allow Twitter to analyze data faster and improve the experience for people who use the service every day. Using Google's Data Cloud, Twitter will be able to democratize data access by offering a range of data processing and machine learning tools to better understand and improve how Twitter features are used.

 


Maximus-MMS reported first quarter revenue increased 15.6% to $945.6 million with net income up 9.1% to $64.1 million and EPS up 13.2% to $1.03. Growth was driven by new COVID-response work such as contact tracing, disease investigation, vaccination support, unemployment insurance support and other key initiatives. Year-to-date signed contracts as of 12-31-20 were $594 million with contracts pending (awarded but unsigned) totaling $1.1 billion. The sales pipeline at quarter end was $31.6 billion, comprised of $3.6 billion in proposals pending, $1.4 billion in proposals in preparation and $26.7 billion in opportunities tracking. Free cash flow increased 16% during the first quarter to $89 million with the company paying $17.2 million in dividends and repurchasing $3.4 million of its common stock. With a strong balance sheet and cash flows, liquidity is not a concern at the company. The capital allocation strategy is biased toward merger and acquisition activities to drive long-term organic growth while remaining committed to future dividends and opportunistic share repurchases. Based on recent awards, scope increases and contract extensions, Maximus raised their fiscal 2021 outlook for sales, earnings and cash flows with revenues now expected in the range of $3.4 billion to $3.525 billion, EPS expected in the range of $3.55 to $3.75 and free cash flow expected in the range of $310 million to $360 million.


Mastercard-MA SpendingPulse, which measures in-store and online retail sales across all forms of payment, reported that 2021 kicked off with retail gains across nearly all sectors and all 50 U.S. states. U.S. retail sales, excluding automotive and gasoline, increased 9.2% year-over-year, with online sales growing 62.1% compared to 2020. The momentum of a stronger-than-anticipated holiday season continued throughout the month, with consumer spending buoyed by an infusion of stimulus payments, particularly in the first two weeks of the year. Spending in and around the home remains a top consumer priority, with Furniture & Furnishings (+16.6%) posting its eighth straight month of solid gains. Home categories, along with Grocery, have seen some of the biggest category lifts following stimulus payments. Consumers are starting to refresh their wardrobes again with Specialty Apparel online sales up +52.5% in January. No sector has been a clearer bellwether of consumers’ mobility this past year than Gasoline sales, with negative year-over-year growth since mid-March 2020. While the declines eased over the summer months, Covid-19 restrictions as well as winter weather led to a further deterioration in gasoline demand in January. "We’re living in a digital world. For consumers, e-commerce has emerged as a lifeline and a lifestyle. January’s numbers are just further proof of this ongoing trend," said Steve Sadove, Mastercard senior advisor and former CEO of Saks, Inc. "A big, bright note from January is that consumers are spending. While we know that consumers are also saving their stimulus funds and paying down debt, these numbers show that stimulus is helping to boost sales for retailers around the country."

Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021


Cognizant-CTSH reported fourth quarter revenues declined 2% to $4.2 billion with net income down 20% to $316 million and EPS down 18% to $.59. These results include the exit of a large financial services engagement in Europe. For the full year 2020, revenues were relatively flat at $16.7 billion with net income down 24% to $1.4 billion and EPS down 22% to $2.57. Return on shareholders’ equity for the year was 12.8%. Free cash flow increased 38% to $2.9 billion with the company paying $480 million in dividends and repurchasing $1.6 billion of its common stock. The company recently announced a new $2 billion share repurchase program and increased its dividend for 2021 by 9%. In 2021, the company expects revenues of $17.6 billion to $18.1 billion, representing growth of 5.5% to 8.5%. Adjusted operating margin is expected to expand from 14% in 2020 to 15.2% to 16.2% in 2021, resulting in adjusted EPS of $3.90-$4.02.


Biogen-BIIB reported fourth quarter revenues declined 22% to $2.85 billion with net income plummeting 75% to $357.9 million and EPS falling 71% to $2.32. A $331 million fourth quarter operating loss was offset by $684 million in other income, thanks to gains booked on strategic equity investments. Global revenues for multiple sclerosis (MS) drugs dropped 24% from last year’s fourth quarter to $1.8 billion as Biogen’s principal MS drug, TECFIDERA, fell off the U.S. patent cliff.  Global sales of SPINRAZA, a treatment for spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), declined 8% to $498 million due to competition exasperated by COVID-19 as patients switched from Biogen’s drug that is injected into the spinal cord at specially equipped centers to competitors' oral treatments. Global sales of Biosimilars increased slightly from last year to $197 million. During the quarter, Biogen reported negative cash flows from operations of $367.1 million with $453 million in negative free cash flow, compared to positive free cash flow of $1.9 billion generated last year. For the year, Biogen reported revenues declined 6.5% to $13.4 billion with net income dropping 32% to $4.0 billion and EPS declining 21% to $24.80. During 2020, Biogen generated a healthy 37.4% return on shareholders’ equity and $3.8 billion in free cash flow, down 42% from last year. Biogen repurchased about 22.4 million shares of its shares during 2020 for $6.7 billion, or $298.17 per average share. Biogen ended the year with $3.4 billion in cash and marketable securities, $7.4 billion in long-term debt and $10.7 billion in shareholders’ equity. Looking ahead to 2021, management expects revenues in the $10.45 billion to $10.75 billion range, down 21% from 2020 at the mid-point, with non-GAAP EPS of $17.00 to $18.50, down 53% from 2020 at the mid-point.



The 3M-MMM Board of Directors declared a dividend on the company's common stock of $1.48 per share for the first quarter of 2021, an increase of 1 percent over the quarterly dividend paid in 2020. This marks the 63rd consecutive year 3M has increased its dividend. 3M has paid dividends to its shareholders without interruption for more than 100 years.


Private sector employment increased by 174,000 jobs from December to January according to the January ADP® National Employment Report™. "The labor market continues its slow recovery amid COVID-19 headwinds," said Ahu Yildirmaz, vice president and co-head of the ADP Research Institute. "Although job losses were previously concentrated among small and midsized businesses, we are now seeing signs of the prolonged impact of the pandemic on large companies as well."



Check Point Software-CHKP reported fourth quarter revenue rose 4% to $563.8 million with net income relatively flat at $271 million and EPS up 6% at $1.95. Business grew across cloud, network and remote access security with subscriptions revenue growth of 10%. This reflects the importance of cyber security during these unprecedented times. The global pandemic and accelerated digital transformation created security challenges across all types of organizations and increased demand for the company’s cyber security services and products. For the full 2020 year, revenues rose 4% to $2.1 billion with net income up $846.6 million and EPS up 10% to $5.96. Return on shareholders’ equity for the year was a strong 24.4%. Free cash flow increased 5% to $1.1 billion during the year with the company repurchasing 11.4 million shares of its common stock during the year for $1.3 billion or an average price of about $114 per share. Check Point ended the year with an outstanding balance sheet with nearly $4 billion of cash and investments, no long-term debt and shareholders’ equity of $3.5 billion. For fiscal 2021, revenues are expected to increase to a range of $2.080 million to $2.180 million with EPS expected in a range of $5.55 to $5.95. Earnings will be adversely impacted by increased investments in growth opportunities, a weaker dollar and lower interest income to the tune of about $.52 per share.

 

Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021


Alphabet-GOOGL reported fourth quarter results with revenues up 23% to $56.9 billion with net income jumping 43% to $15.2 billion and EPS up 45% to $22.30. For the full 2020 year, revenues rose 13% to $182.5 billion with net income up 17% to $40.3 billion and EPS up 19% to $58.61. Return on shareholders’ equity for the year was a solid 15.4%. This strong performance was driven by Search and YouTube as consumer and business activity recovered from earlier in the year. Google advertising revenue increased 22% in the fourth quarter, including 46% growth in YouTube ads. With consumers flocking to online shopping, advertisers are following them and increasing their advertising in a digital world. Google Cloud revenues increased 47% during the fourth quarter to $3.8 billion with full year cloud revenues growing 46% to $13.1 billion. The company ended the year with a $30 billion backlog for Google Cloud as companies are increasingly shifting their business to the cloud. A good example it the new strategic partnership Alphabet recently announced with Ford. The Google Cloud Platform will serve as Ford’s preferred cloud services provider. The tie-up includes plans for Google’s Android operating system to power all of Ford and Lincoln’s in-car infotainment systems by 2023. Alphabet’s free cash flow during the year increased 38% to $42.8 billion with the company repurchasing $31.1 billion of its common shares during the year. Alphabet ended the year with a fortress balance sheet with more than $157 billion in cash and investments, $25 billion in long-term debt and liabilities and $222.5 billion in shareholders’ equity.


In a pandemic year that no one will ever forget, UPS-UPS reported fourth quarte revenues rose 21% to a record $24.9 billion with growth across all business segments. Average daily volume increased 10.6% due to the best peak shipping season in corporate history as e-commerce sales increased significantly. Amazon is the company’s largest customer and accounted for 13% of total sales. Operating profit was up 1.6% to $2.2 billion with adjusted profit up 26%, which was much better than management expected. The company reported a fourth quarter net loss of $3.3 billion primarily due to a $5.6 billion non-cash pension charge and a $545 million impairment charge related to the decision to sell UPS Freight. The company plans to use the proceeds of the UPS Freight sale to pay down debt. For the full 2020 year, revenues increased 14% to $84.6 billion with operating profit relatively flat at $7.8 billion and net income and EPS each down 68% to $1.4 billion and $1.64, respectively, due to the charges. Free cash flow more than doubled during the year to $5.1 billion which includes $3.1 billion in pension contributions. UPS paid out $3.6 billion in dividends, an increase of 5.2% over the prior year. In 2021, the company plans to spend $4 billion on capital expenditures including a further investment in its vaccine distribution infrastructure. UPS has already delivered 36.5 million vaccines around the world. UPS expects to continue to increase its dividend in 2021 with no plans to repurchase shares. Long-term debt maturities of $2.5 billion during the year will be repaid when they come due to strengthen the balance sheet. While the company is not providing revenue or earnings guidance in 2021 due to the continued uncertainty around the pandemic, management does expect operating margins and return on invested capital to increase during the year.

Friday, Jan. 29, 2021


Gentex Corporation-GNTX reported record fourth quarter results with net sales accelerating 19% to $529.9 million, net income racing ahead 44% to $143 million and EPS jumping 49% to $0.58, the highest quarterly earnings in company history. Fourth quarter revenue growth was driven by a 14% increase in auto-dimming mirror unit shipments and strong advanced feature product mix. Unit growth was particularly strong for Full Display Mirrors® which grew at 96% and exterior auto-dimming mirrors, which increased 16%. This unit sale growth contrasts to the modest 3% growth in global light vehicle during the period. During the quarter, Gentex generated $120.7 million in free cash flow with the company repurchasing nearly $80 million shares at an average price of $31.82 per share. For the full year, Gentex reported sales declined 9% to $1.69 billion with net income falling 18% to $347.6 million and EPS dropping 15% to $1.41. Gentex shipped 1.053 million units of its Full Display Mirror® during 2020, a 42% increase compared to 2019, despite a 16% decline in global light vehicle production. In 2020 Gentex generated a 17.7% return on shareholders’ equity. Free cash flow of $412.8 million for the year declined 2% from 2019 due to the Covid-19 related reduction in overall business which compressed cash flows during the second quarter of 2020.  Gentex returned $405.7 million to shareholders during 2020 through share repurchases of $288.5 million at an average cost of $27.10 per share and $117.2 million in dividends. The company ended 2020 with $612.6 million in cash and investments, no long-term debt and $2 billion in shareholder equity. Looking ahead to the full 2021 year, Gentex expects revenue in the range of $1.94 billion to $2.02 billion with 2022 sales anticipated to increase 4% to 8% above the 2021 estimates.


Johnson & Johnson-JNJ reported that its vaccine candidate was 72% effective in the US and 66% effective overall at preventing moderate to severe COVID-19, 28 days after vaccination. It was 85% effective overall in preventing severe disease and demonstrated complete protection against COVID-19 related hospitalization and death as of day 28. The vaccine protected against severe disease across geographies, ages, and multiple virus variants, including the variant observed in South Africa. The single-shot is compatible with standard vaccine distribution channels providing important tool in pandemic settings. Johnson & Johnson intends to file for U.S. Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) in early February and expects to have product available to ship immediately following authorization. It expects to ship 100 million doses in the United States by April with one billion doses shipped worldwide by the end of the year. “Johnson & Johnson embarked on the global effort to combat the COVID-19 pandemic a year ago, and has brought the full force of our capabilities, as well as tremendous public-private partnerships, to enable the development of a single-shot vaccine. Our goal all along has been to create a simple, effective solution for the largest number of people possible, and to have maximum impact to help end the pandemic,” said Alex Gorsky, Chairman, Board of Directors and Chief Executive Officer, Johnson & Johnson. “We’re proud to have reached this critical milestone and our commitment to address this global health crisis continues with urgency for everyone, everywhere.”


Biogen-BIIB and Eisai announced the FDA’s 3-month extension of the review period for the Biologics License Application for aducanumab, Biogen’s treatment for Alzheimer’s disease. As part of the ongoing review, Biogen submitted a response to an information request by the FDA, including additional analyses and clinical data, which the FDA considered a Major Amendment to the application that will require additional time for review.

 

Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021


Tractor Supply–TSCO reported fourth quarter sales plowed ahead 31% to $2.88 billion with net income declining 5.7% to $136 million and EPS down 5% to $1.15. Excluding a $0.49 non-cash impairment charge for the Petsense business acquired in 2016, EPS increased 36% to $1.64. Comparable store sales increased 27.3% versus an increase of 0.1% in the prior year’s fourth quarter, reflecting continued COVID-19 related demand across all major product categories as customers focused on the care of their homes, land and animals. Average transaction count and ticket sprouted up 14.3% and 13.0%, respectively, on strong demand for everyday merchandise, including consumable, usable and edible products and robust growth for seasonal categories. All geographic regions had hearty comparable store sales growth. In addition, the company’s e-commerce sales experienced triple-digit percentage growth for the third consecutive quarter. The company opened 80 new Tractor Supply stores and 9 new Petsense stores during the quarter, ending the year with 1,923 Tractor Supply Stores and 182 Petsense stores. For the full year, sales increased 27.2% to $10.62 billion with net income up 33% to $749 million and EPS up 37% to $6.38. Excluding the fourth quarter Petsense impairment charge, EPS increased 47% from 2019. Comparable store sales increased 23.1% during 2020 versus 2.7% in 2019. During 2020, Tractor Supply delivered a bountiful 38.9% return on shareholders’ equity and generated $1.1 billion in free cash flow, up a fruitful 85% from last year. The company returned $517.6 million to shareholders through shares repurchases of $343 million at $100.88 per average share and $174.7 million in dividends. Tractor Supply ended the year with more than $1.3 billion in cash, $984 million in long-term debt and $1.9 billion of shareholder equity on its fertile balance sheet. Reflecting confidence in the business and its robust cash flow, Tractor Supply increased the dividend by 30% to $0.52 per share, thereby moving the payout ratio closer to the targeted 30%. Looking ahead to 2021, management expects net sales in the range of $10.7 billion to $11 billion on a 2% decline to a 1% increase in comparable store sales with EPS in the range of $6.50 to $6.90.


SEI Investments-SEIC reported fourth quarter revenue rose 5% to $443.7 million with net income dipping 2% to $125.9 million and EPS up 2% to $.86, reflecting steady recovery from the pandemic’s impact on the markets the company serves. For the full year, revenues rose 2% to $1.7 billion with net income down 11% to $447.3 million and EPS down 7% to $3.00. Operating expenses increased during the year due to increased consulting and personnel costs. Return on shareholders’ equity for the year was an impressive 25.7%. The company ended the year with a strong balance sheet with more than $890 million in cash and investments and minimal long-term debt. During the year, the company generated $410 million in free cash flow and returned $529 million to shareholders through dividends and share repurchases, including 8 million shares of common stock repurchased for $424.7 million at an average price of $53.04. As of 12/31/20, SEI managed, advised or administered approximately $1.1 trillion in assets, an approximate 12% increase over the prior year reflecting new business and market appreciation. This included $369 billion in assets under management and $787 billion in client assets under administration.


Mastercard-MA reported fourth quarter revenue declined 7% to $4.1 billion with net income down 15% to $1.8 billion and EPS down 14% to $1.78. These results reflected consumer spending challenges due to the pandemic especially with reduced travel spending. During the fourth quarter, cross-border volume declined 29%. Gross dollar volume grew 1% during the fourth quarter to $1.7 trillion with 4% growth in switched transactions.  For the full year, revenue declined 9% to $15.3 billion with net income down 21% to $6.4 billion and EPS down 20% to $6.37. Return on shareholders’ equity was 100% during the year. Free cash flow declined 11% during the year to $6.9 billion with the company paying $1.6 billion in dividends and repurchasing $4.5 billion of its common stock, including 3.1 million shares repurchased in the fourth quarter at a cost of $1.0 billion or an average price of about $322.58 per share. Mastercard has $9.5 billion authorized for future share repurchases. As effective vaccines begin across the globe, Mastercard sees consumer spending normalizing with some spending already returning to growth. Domestic travel is beginning to rise with cross-border travel expected to rebound sharply due to significant pent-up demand by consumers. Corporate travel is expected to come back more slowly as businesses increasingly use digital tools to conduct business.


T. Rowe Price-TROW reported fourth quarter revenue rose 18% to $1.7 billion with net income up 44% to $783.4 million and EPS jumping 49% to $3.33. For the full 2020 year, revenue rose 11% to $5.7 billion with net income up 11% to $2.4 billion and EPS rising 15% to $9.98. Ending assets under management increased 22% during 2020 to $1.47 trillion, which included net client inflows of $5.6 billion for the year and market appreciation. Return on shareholders’ equity in 2020 was an impressive 29.9%. T. Rowe Price ended the year with more than $4.2 billion in cash and discretionary investments and no long-term debt on its fortress balance sheet. During 2020, T. Rowe Price repurchased 10.9 million shares, or 4.6% of its outstanding shares, for $1.2 billion at an average price of $109.30 per share. In 2021, the company expects to spend about $265 million on capital expenditures with non-GAAP operating expense growth expected to range between 8%-12%.


Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021


Apple-AAPL reported a shiny 21% increase in fiscal first quarter revenue to a record $111.4 billion with net income increasing a delicious 29% to $28.8 billion and EPS increasing 34% to $1.68 on fewer shares outstanding. These excellent results were fueled by double-digit growth in each product category, which drove all-time revenue records in each geographic segment and an all-time high in Apple’s installed base of active devices to 1.65 billion, including 1 billion iPhones. iPhone sales increased 17% to $65.6 billion on strong demand for the 5G-enabled iPhone 12. Boosted by pandemic-driven demand and the innovative, in-house designed M1 chip, Mac sales jumped 21% to $8.7 billion and iPad sales surged 41% to $8.4 billion. Wearables, Home and Accessories rose 30% to $13 billion, another record, with this segment--created with the launch of the Apple watch in April 2015--now the size of a Fortune 120 company.  Services increased 24% to $16 billion as the number of subscribers surpassed management’s goal of 600 million subscribers at the end to 2020 by 20 million. By geography, Americas sales (42% of the total) increased 12%, Europe sales (25% of the total) increased 17%, Greater China (19% of the total) soared 57%, Japan (7% of the total) rose 33% and Rest of Asia sales (7% of the total) increased 11%. During the quarter, Apple generated $35.2 billion in free cash flow, up 24% from last year, with the company returning more than $28 billion to shareholders through dividend payments of $3.6 billion and share repurchases of $24.8 billion at an average cost per share of about $123.88. Apple ended the quarter with nearly $196 billion in cash and marketable securities, $99.3 billion in long-term debt and $66.2 billion in shareholders’ equity on its exceptionally strong balance sheet.


Stryker Corporation-SYK reported fourth quarter sales increased 3.2% to $4.3 billion with reported earnings and EPS declining nearly 22% to $568 million and $1.49, respectively. For 2020, Stryker’s sales decreased 3.6% to $14.4 billion with net earnings and EPS falling 23% to $1.6 billion and $4.20, respectively. By segment, Orthopaedics sales decreased 5.6% to $4.9 billion, primarily due to decreased unit volume and lower prices. MedSurg sales decreased 1.4% to $6.4 billion and Neurotechnology and Spine declined 4.7% to $2.9 billion, both being affected by decreased unit volume and lower prices. During 2020, Stryker generated a 12.2% return on shareholders’ equity and nearly $2.8 billion in free cash flow. The company returned $863 million in cash to shareholders in 2020 through dividend payments. Stryker ended the year with $3 billion in cash and investments, $13.2 billion in long-term debt and $13 billion in shareholders’ equity. In 2021, management expects organic net sales growth of 8% to 10% and adjusted EPS of $8.80 to $9.20. "In spite of COVID-19 outbreaks that intensified through the quarter, our teams showed good resilience and delivered a solid quarter of financial results," said Kevin Lobo, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. "As we saw with prior pandemic spikes, the impacts were strongest in the businesses linked to deferrable procedures, but as evidenced by our guidance for 2021, we are optimistic about our prospects for the future. The Wright Medical integration is off to a strong start and we continue to advance innovation across the company.”


Facebook-FB reported fourth quarter revenue rose 33% to $28.1 billion with net income up 53% to $11.2 billion and EPS up 52% to $3.88. For the full year, revenue rose 22% to $86 billion with net income jumping 58% to $29.1 billion and EPS rising 57% to $10.09. Return on shareholders’ equity for the year was a friendly 22.7%. Approximately 2.6 billion people use one of Facebook’s apps each day, an increase of 15% over the prior year. Facebook’s business benefited from two broad economic trends during the pandemic including the shift towards online commerce and the shift in consumer demand towards products and away from services. These shifts provided a tailwind to the company’s advertising business in the second half of the year. Free cash flow for the year increased 11% to $23.6 billion with the company repurchasing $6.3 billion of its common shares. Facebook’s Board of Directors recently announced a new share repurchase program of up to an additional $25 billion. The company ended the year with a fortress balance sheet with nearly $62 billion in cash and investments, $9.6 billion in long-term operating lease liabilities and $128.3 billion in shareholders’ equity. Facebook expects to face significant uncertainty as the company manages through several cross currents in 2021, including platform changes and increased competition from Apple and regulatory issues. Total expenses in 2021 are expected in the range o f$68-$73 billion, driven by increased investments in talent and continued growth in infrastructure costs such as data centers, servers and office facilities. In 2020, headcount increased 30% to 58,604 with capital expenditures of $15.72 billion. In 2021, capital expenditures are expected to increase to $21-$23 billion, including delayed expenditures from 2020 due to the pandemic. m


General Dynamics-GD reported fourth quarter revenue declined 2.7% to $10.5 billion with net income down 1.8% to $1.0 billion and EPS dipping 0.6% to $3.49. On a sequential basis, General Dynamics saw strong improvements in earnings, margins and cash flow from the third quarter with earnings and EPS each up 20% and operating margin up 90 basis points to 12.3%. For the full 2020 year, revenue declined 3.6% to $37.9 billion with net earnings down 9.1% to $3.2 billion and EPS down 8.2% to $11.00. Return on shareholders’ equity for the year was a sturdy 20.2%. Free cash flow increased 45% for the year to $2.9 billion with the company paying $1,2 billion in dividends and repurchasing approximately four million shares of its common stock for $587 million at an average price of $148 per share. As good stewards of General Dynamics’ capital, management’s capital allocation strategy is to 1) invest in the business, 2) increase the dividend in a sustainable manner, 3) repay debt and 4) repurchase shares. Orders remained strong across the company with a book-to-bill of 1.8-to-1 for the fourth quarter and 1.1.-to-1 for the year. Backlog grew 10% in the fourth quarter to a record high $89.5 billion due to key awards across the business segments. Gulfstream had the best order quarter for the year in the fourth quarter despite the pandemic with further orders expected as travel increases during the economic recovery. Management’s outlook for 2021 is for revenues to increase 3% to $39 billion with EPS in the range of $11.00-$11.05. Free cash flow is expected to increase in 2021 from already strong levels, which may lead to further dividend increases and share repurchases.


ADP-ADP reported fiscal second quarter revenues increased 1% to $3.7 billion with net income dipping slightly to $647.5 million and EPS increasing slightly to $1.51 on fewer shares outstanding. Economic activity continued to trend positively during the quarter with sequential employment improvement and reduced quarterly declines in U.S. Pays Per Control, an employee growth metric for a broad subset of ADP’s client base.  Record client retention supported steadily improving revenue, which, combined with continued cost control, resulted in earnings ahead of expectations. By business segment, Employer Services revenues declined 1% to $2.5 billion with new bookings declining 7%, in line with expectations. Interest on funds held for clients fell 23% to $105.4 million on a 50-basis point decline in average client funds yield and a flat Average Client Funds balance of $25.1 billion. PEO Services revenues increased 5% to $1.2 billion on a better-than-expected 2% decline in Average Worksite Employees paid to 571,000. During the first six months of fiscal 2021, ADP generated $1.1 billion in free cash flow, up 7.5% from last year with the company returning $1.26 billion to shareholders through dividend payments of $782 million and share repurchases of $475 million. ADP ended the quarter with $4.8 billion in cash and investments, $2 billion in long-term debt and $5.9 billion in shareholders’ equity on its strong balance sheet. Given the better-than-expected year-to-date performance, ADP upped its fiscal 2021 outlook with revenues expected to increase 1% to 3% (from down 1% to up 1% previously) and EPS down 2% to up 2% (from down 7% to down 3% previously).


Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021


Microsoft-MSFT reported fiscal second quarter revenue increased 17% to $43.1 billion with net income increasing 33% to $15.5 billion and EPS up 34% to $2.03. Revenue in Productivity and Business Processes was $13.4 billion, up 13%, driven by a 21% increase in Office 365 Commercial revenue, a 7% increase in Office Consumer products and cloud services revenue with continued growth in Office 365 Consumer subscribers to 47.5 million. LinkedIn revenue increased 23%, Dynamics products and cloud services revenue increased 21% on a 39% increase in Dynamics 365 revenue. Revenue in Intelligent Cloud increased 23% to $14.6 billion on a 26% increase in server products and cloud services revenue, driven by Azure revenue growth of 50%. Revenue in More Personal Computing increased 14% to $15.1 billion on a 10% increase in Windows Commercial products and cloud services, a 2% increase in search advertising, a 40% increase in Xbox content and a 3% increase in Surface revenue. During the quarter, Microsoft generated $12.5 billion in operating cash flow, up 17% year-over-year, driven by strong cloud billings and collections. Free cash flow increased 17% year-over-year to $8.3 billion. The company returned $10 billion to shareholders during the quarter, up 18% compared to last year’s second quarter. Microsoft ended the quarter with over $132 billion in cash and short-term investments, $55 billion in long-term debt and $130 billion in shareholders’ equity on its strong balance sheet. Looking ahead to the third quarter, revenues are expected in the $40.3 billion to $41.3 billion range, up nearly 17% from last year at the midpoint.


Starbucks-SBUX reported first fiscal quarter sales decreased 4.9% to $6.7 billion with net earnings decreasing 29.8% to $622.2 million and EPS declining 28.4% to $0.53. These results reflected the adverse impact of the pandemic with reduced customer traffic and operating hours and temporary store closures. Global comparable store sales declined 5%, driven by a 19% decrease in comparable transactions, partially offset by a 17% increase in average ticket. Americas comparable store sales decreased 6% while International comparable store sales decreased 3%, both driven by a decrease in comparable transactions. The company opened 278 net new stores during the quarter and ended the quarter with 32,938 stores, up 4% from last year. Operating margins decreased from 17.2% to 13.5% year-over-year primarily due to the COVID-19 pandemic, partially offset by labor efficiency and the impact of pricing in the Americas. During the quarter, Starbucks generated $1.51 billion in free cash flow and returned approximately $528 million to shareholders through dividends. Starbucks ended the quarter with nearly $5.3 billion in cash and short-term investments and $14.6 billion in long-term debt. Starbucks is providing fiscal year 2021 guidance, expecting EPS in the range of $2.42 to $2.62, revenue in the range of $28 billion to $29 billion, global comparable store sales growth of 18% to 23% and expects to open approximately 2,150 new stores. “Our results demonstrate the continued strength and relevance of our brand, the effectiveness of the actions we’ve taken to adapt to the changes in consumer behavior and the steadfast commitment of our green apron partners to serve our customers and communities. We remain optimistic about our robust operating outlook for fiscal 2021 as well as our ability to unlock the full potential of Starbucks to create value for our stakeholders,” said Kevin Johnson, president and CEO.


F5 Networks – FFIV reported fiscal first quarter revenues increased nearly 10% to $624.6 million with net income declining 11% to $87.7 million and EPS declining 13% to $1.41. Product revenues, which accounted for 46% of total revenues, increased 23% on a 70% jump in software sales with subscriptions now accounting for 77% of software sales. Services sales increased 1% to $336.6 million. Digital transformation and migration to multi-cloud environments accelerated by COVID drove F5 Networks’ sales momentum during the quarter.  By region, Americas sales (55% of the total) increased 14%, AMEA sales (26% of the total) increased 4% and APAC (19% of the total) increased 7%. By vertical, Enterprise sales accounted for 67% of total sales, Service Providers accounted for 14% and Government sales account for 18%, including 6% from the Federal government. During the quarter, F5 generated $132.7 million in free cash flow, up 9% from last year as a significant drop in capital investments more than offset lower income.  While no shares were repurchased during the quarter, the company remains committed to repurchasing $500 million of its shares during 2021 through an accelerated share repurchase program.  The company ended the quarter with $1.46 billion in cash and investments and $364 million in long-term debt on its weather-resistant balance sheet. For the second quarter of fiscal year 2021, F5 expects to deliver revenue in the range of $625 million to $645 million, up 9% from last year at the midpoint, with non-GAAP EPS in the range of $2.32 to $2.44, up 7% from last year at the midpoint.



Canadian National Railway-CNI reported fourth quarter revenue rose 2% to C$3.6 billion with net income and EPS each chugging 17% higher to C$1.0 billion and C$1.43, respectively. A strong finish to a challenging year was driven by momentum in volume demand that grew during the fourth quarter and continues to grow. Double-digit volume growth was experienced in the grain and fertilizer segment of the business with CNI generating 11 consecutive quarters of record grain shipments. For the full year, revenue declined 7% to C$13.8 billion with net income down 16% to C$3.6 billion and EPS down 14% to C$5.00 due to the adverse economic impact of the pandemic. Return on shareholders’ equity for the year was a solid 18.1%. Free cash flow increased 60% during the year to a record C$3.3 billion as capital expenditures were curtailed. With management increasingly optimistic about 2021, the company announced plans to invest C$3.0 billion in capital investments of which C$1.6 billion is planned toward track and railway infrastructure maintenance. Canadian National Railway is targeting to deliver EPS growth in the high single-digit range in 2021 with free cash flow in the range of C$3.0 billion to C$3.3 billion. Demonstrating confidence in the long-term financial health of the company, the Board of Directors announced a 7% increase in the dividend, which marks the 25th consecutive year of dividend increases, and plans to resume share repurchases in 2021 up to 14 million shares.


Johnson & Johnson-JNJ reported fourth quarter sales increased 8.3% to $22.5 billion with net earnings and EPS each decreasing 57% to $1.7 billion and $0.65, respectively, due primarily to nearly $3 billion in litigation expense. On an adjusted basis, earnings dipped 1% lower during the fourth quarter. For the full year, sales increased 0.6% to $82.6 billion with net earnings dipping 2.7% to $14.7 billion and EPS declining 2.1% to $5.51. By business segment, Pharmaceutical sales increased 8% to $45.6 billion driven by sales of Stelara, DARZALEX, IMBRUVICA, ERLEADA and TREMFYA. Medical Device sales decreased 11.6% to $23 billion due to the deferral of medical procedures as the result of the pandemic and Consumer sales increased slightly to $14 billion driven by Tylenol, PEPCID, ZYRTEC and LISTERINE mouthwash. During 2020, Johnson & Johnson generated approximately $20 billion in free cash flow and returned $10.5 billion to shareholders through dividends. Looking ahead to 2021, management expects sales to be in the $90.5 billion to $91.7 billion range, up 9.5% to 11%, with adjusted EPS expected in the $9.40 to $9.60 range, up 17.1% to 19.6%. “We continue to progress our COVID-19 vaccine candidate and look forward to sharing details from our Phase 3 study soon. Johnson and Johnson was built for times like these, and I am extremely confident in our ability to deliver lasting value and continued innovation in 2021 and for years to come,” said CEO Alex Gorsky. If the Phase 3 results prove successful, which should be disclosed early next week, JNJ is prepared to deliver 100 million doses of its vaccine by April in the United States alone. Approximately one billion doses will be delivered around the globe for the full year.

 


Raytheon Technologies-RTX reported fourth quarter revenues rose 40% to $16.4 billion with net income nosediving 88% to $135 million and EPS plunging 87% to $.10, reflecting the adverse effect of the pandemic on the aerospace sector. For the full year 2020, revenues were $56.6 billion with the company reporting a loss of $3.5 billion or ($2.29) per share. Due to the lower earnings, free cash flow declined 36% during the year to $2.5 billion with the company paying $2.7 billion in dividends. Backlog at the end of the year was $150.1 billion, including $82.8 billion from commercial aerospace and $67.3 billion from defense. Management’s outlook for 2021 is for sales of $63.4 billion to $65.4 billion with adjusted EPS of $3.40-$3.70. Free cash flow in 2021 is expected to increase to $4.5 billion. In December, the company authorized a $5 billion share repurchase program and plans to repurchase at least $1.5 billion of shares in 2021 while remaining committed to paying and growing its dividend. As the aerospace sector recovers, free cash flow should normalize in the $8 billion to $9 billion range. Air travel is not expected to return to the 2019 levels until 2023. With recent structural actions, Raytheon is well positioned for sustainable growth and profitability in 2021 and beyond and remains committed to returning $18 billion to $20 billion to shareholders in the next four years through dividends and share repurchases.


Regeneron-REGN reports positive interim data with REGN-COV antibody cocktail used as a passive vaccine to prevent COVID-19. “These data using REGEN-COV as a passive vaccine suggest that it may both reduce transmission of the virus as well as reduce viral and disease burden in those who still get infected," said George D. Yancopoulos, M.D., Ph.D., President and Chief Scientific Officer at Regeneron. "Even with the emerging availability of active vaccines, we continue to see hundreds of thousands of people infected daily, actively spreading the virus to their close contacts. The REGEN-COV antibody cocktail may be able to help break this chain by providing immediate passive immunity to those at high risk of infection, in contrast to active vaccines which take weeks to provide protection. There are also many individuals who unfortunately may be immunocompromised and not respond well to an active vaccine or are otherwise unable to be vaccinated, and REGEN-COV has the potential to be an important option for these individuals. Overall, the REGEN-COV development program has demonstrated definitive anti-viral activity and the collective data strongly suggest it can be effective both as a therapeutic and as a passive vaccine."

Regeneron and Columbia University have independently confirmed findings that REGEN-COV antibody cocktail retains its highly potent neutralizing capacity against the variants of the COVID-19 virus.


PepsiCo-PEP and Beyond Meat, Inc. announced they will form The PLANeT Partnership, LLC (TPP), a joint venture to develop, produce and market innovative snack and beverage products made from plant-based protein. The joint venture will leverage Beyond Meat's leading technology in plant-based protein development and PepsiCo's world-class marketing and commercial capabilities to create and scale new snack and beverage options. Financial terms of the partnership were not disclosed.


3M- MMM posted fourth quarter sales growth of 6% to $8.6 billion with net income and EPS increasing 43% to $1.4 billion and $2.38, respectively. Adjusted EPS increased 22% on a 250 basis point improvement in adjusted operating margin to 21.5%. During the fourth quarter, 3M delivered organic growth across all business groups and geographic areas even as the COVID-19 pandemic impacted 3M’s businesses in numerous ways. During the fourth quarter, end-market demand remained strong in personal safety, home improvement, general cleaning, semiconductor, data center and biopharma filtration. At the same time, several other end-markets continued to experience year-on-year declines due to COVID-19-related headwinds, including healthcare and oral care elective procedures, consumer electronics, hospitality, office supplies and healthcare IT. Total sales grew 12.7% in Safety and Industrial as the company ramped up respirator production capacity  to 2.5 billion units, a four-fold increase from 2019. Consumer segment sales increased 10.6%, Health Care sales increased 5.4% and Transportation and Electronics increased 2.3%. For the full year, 3M reported a slight increase in sales to $32.2 billion with net income and EPS increasing 18% to $5.4 billion and $9.25, respectively. Adjusted EPS dipped 1.5% to $8.74. During 2020, 3M generated a healthy 18.2% return on invested capital and robust free cash flow of $6.6 billion, up 23% from last year. This strong free cash flow enabled the company to reduce net debt by $4 billion during 2020 while investing in growth drivers and returning $3.8 billion in cash to shareholders. 2020 marked the 62nd consecutive year of annual dividend increases for 3M shareholders. Management resumed providing financial guidance with projected 2021 sales growth of 5% to 8%, EPS in the $9.20 to $9.70 range and free cash flow conversion of 95% to 105%.

Monday, Jan. 25, 2021


Bank of Hawaii-BOH reported fourth quarter revenues declined 4% to $164.8 million with net income and EPS each down 27% to $42.3 million and $1.06, respectively. For the full year 2020, revenues were relatively flat at $680.7 million with net income down 32% to $153.8 million and EPS down 31% to $3.86. Despite the many challenges faced during the year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, loan balances grew 8.6% in 2020 and deposit balances reached another record high--growing 15.4% aided by fiscal stimulus checks being deposited at the bank. Total assets expanded to a record high of $20.6 billion at the end of the year with overall asset quality remaining stable and capital and liquidity remaining strong. The bank’s efficiency ratio improved for the year to 54.9%. Due to low interest rates, the return on assets declined to .79%, the return on equity declined to 11.4% and the net interest margin declined to 2.73%. While the Hawaiian unemployment rate remains elevated due to the pandemic’s impact on tourism, the Hawaiian real estate market for single family homes is solid with the median sales price rising 5.2% to $830,000 during the year. Nearly 80% of the bank’s loan portfolio is secured with quality real estate. In-person branch transactions have fallen sharply due to the pandemic with digital only transactions now representing 31% of total transactions compared to 22% a year ago. As a result, the bank plans to close 12 in-store format branches and sunset 50 ATM’s in 2021 which will result in a $6.1 million one-time cost but result in $5.1 million in annual savings. There were no share repurchases in the fourth quarter, but the Board declared a $.67 per share quarterly dividend to be payable on March 12, 2021 maintaining its unbroken record of dividend payments. The dividend currently yields a solid 3.2%.


UPS-UPS has entered into a definitive agreement to sell UPS Freight to TFI International Inc. for $800 million. The decision to sell UPS Freight was reached following a thorough evaluation of the UPS portfolio and aligns with the company’s “better not bigger” strategic positioning. UPS and TFI International will also enter into an agreement for UPS Freight to continue to utilize UPS’ domestic package network to fulfill shipments, for a period of five years. The transaction is expected to close during the second quarter of 2021. UPS expects to recognize a non-cash, pre-tax impairment charge of approximately $500 million for the year ended December 31, 2020.

Friday, Jan. 22, 2021


Walgreens-WBA has administered more than 1 million COVID-19 vaccinations across long-term care facilities and other vulnerable populations identified as part of state and jurisdiction distribution plans.



General Dynamics Information Technology (GDIT), a business unit of General Dynamics-GD, announced that it has been selected as one of three prime contractors on the U.S. Department of State's Global Support Strategy (GSS) 2.0 indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract vehicle (IDIQ). The IDIQ, awarded in fourth-quarter 2020, has a total estimated value of up to $3.3 billion over a 10-year period. Under the contract, GDIT will deliver overseas consulate support services to the Bureau of Consular Affairs in support of visa application and issuance at U.S. embassies and consulates throughout the world.

Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021


Intel-INTC reported fourth quarter revenues declined 1% to $20 billion with net income dropping 15% to $5.9 billion and EPS down 10% to $1.42. For the full 2020 year, revenues rose 8% to a record $77.9 billion with net income dipping 1% to $20.9 billion and EPS up 5% to $4.94.  This was the fifth consecutive year of record revenues for Intel thanks to strong customer demand in the PC-centric business segment with fourth quarter PC unit growth up 33% led by record notebook sales. The company also achieved better-than-expected data-centric results, including record Mobileye revenues.  Return on shareholders’ equity for the year was a strong 25.8%, reflecting the underlying profitability of the business. Free cash flow increased 25% during the year to a record $21.1 billion with the company repurchasing 274.6 million shares of its common stock for $14.2 billion at a price of about $51.71 per share while paying $5.6 billion in dividends. Intel announced a 5% increase in the dividend for 2021 at an annualized rate of $1.39 per share. For the first quarter of 2021, Intel is forecasting revenue of $17.5 billion with an operating margin of 30% and EPS of $1.10. These results reflect the exclusion of the NAND memory business due to its pending sale. The exit of the NAND and McAfee businesses are expected to generate approximately $12 billion in proceeds.

Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021


UnitedHealth Group-UNH reported fourth quarter revenues rose 8% to $65.5 billion with net income and EPS each declining 38% to $2.2 billion and $2.30, respectively, due to rising COVID-19 costs. For the full 2020 year, revenues rose 6% to $257.1 billion, led by 21% revenue growth at Optum. Optum is expected to continue to generate doubled-digit growth in the years ahead due to the increase in the number of patients served and the range of healthcare services provided. UnitedHealth Group’s net income increased a healthy 11% to $15.4 billion with EPS up 12% to $16.88 in 2020.  Return on shareholders’ equity for the full year was a wholesome 22.5%, reflecting the company’s strong overall operating performance and efficient capital structure. Free cash flow increased 23% to $20.1 billion with the company paying $4.6 billion in dividends and repurchasing $4.3 billion of its common shares during the year. The company affirmed its 2021 guidance for revenues approximating $280 billion and net earnings of $16.90 to $17.40 per share, which includes about $1.80 per share in potential unfavorable costs related to COVID-19.  As healthcare normalizes, the company is entering 2021 with momentum and expects to emerge from this challenging time with a strong capital position which should enable continued dividend growth and share repurchases.


Fastenal-FAST reported fourth quarter revenues rose 6% to $1.4 billion with net income and EPS each fastening on 10% gains to $196.1 million and $.34, respectively. For the full 2020 year, revenue rose 6% to $5.6 billion with net income up 9% to $859.1 million and EPS up 8% to $1.49. Return on shareholders’ equity for the year was an impressive 31.4%. Free cash flow increased a strong 57% during the year to $933.7 million thanks to strong profits and working capital management. This enabled Fastenal to pay $803. 4 million in dividends, including a special $.40 per share dividend paid in December, reflecting the company’s high cash balances and favorable financial outlook. For 2021, Fastenal recently announced a 12% increase in its regular dividend to $1.12 per share on an annualized basis.  Fastenal is seeing improved industrial activity as the company exits 2020.

Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021


General Dynamics Information Technology (GDIT), a business unit of General Dynamics-GD, announced it has been awarded the United States Army Europe (USAREUR) Enterprise Mission Information Technology Services (EMITS) task order by the General Services Administration (GSA). The task order, awarded in fourth-quarter 2020, has a total estimated value of $695 million over a five-year period, inclusive of a three-month transition, one-year base period and four one-year options.

Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021


Walgreens-WBA is expanding its financial services offering in partnership with Synchrony and Mastercard-MA, as part of its ongoing commitment to offer differentiated healthcare services and benefits to customers. In the coming months, Walgreens will launch credit cards, issued by Synchrony, as well as a prepaid debit card, both of which will be powered by the Mastercard network.


T. Rowe Price-TROW reported preliminary month-end assets under management of $1.47 trillionas of December 31, 2020, representing a 21.8% increase over the prior year.


Intel-INTC announced that its board of directors has appointed 40-year technology industry leader Pat Gelsinger as its new chief executive officer, effective Feb. 15, 2021. Gelsinger will also join the Intel board of directors upon assuming the role. He will succeed Bob Swan, who will remain CEO until Feb. 15. Intel expects its fourth-quarter 2020 revenue and EPS to exceed its prior guidance provided on Oct. 22, 2020. In addition, the company has made strong progress on its 7nm process technology and plans on providing an update when it reports its full fourth-quarter and full-year 2020 results as previously scheduled on Jan. 21, 2021.

Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021


Regeneron Pharmaceuticals-REGN announced that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Defense (DOD) will purchase additional supply of the casirivimab and imdevimab antibody cocktail for use in non-hospitalized COVID-19 patients to meet the federal government's Operation Warp Speed goals. The government has said it will provide these doses at no cost to patients, though healthcare facilities may charge fees related to administration. Under the new agreement, the government will purchase all finished doses of the casirivimab and imdevimab antibody cocktail delivered by June 30, 2021, up to 1.25 million doses at a value of up to $2.625 billion. Under a previous agreement, Regeneron is already supplying doses to treat approximately 300,000 people, bringing the total potential purchase to over 1.5 million doses. "Patients in our antibody cocktail outpatient clinical trial experienced significant reductions in virus levels and required fewer medical visits for COVID-19, suggesting the therapy can help reduce the current burden on hospitals and healthcare systems," said George D. Yancopoulos, M.D., Ph.D., President and Chief Scientific Officer of Regeneron. "Additionally, as expected, the virus continues to mutate, with the possibility of developing resistance to any one antibody. The Regeneron cocktail of two antibodies, each targeting a different site on the virus, reduces the possibility of the virus becoming resistant."


Johnson & Johnson-JNJ CEO Alex Gorsky said that the company is in the “final stages” of analyzing the data from its 45,000-patient Phase 3 trial of the single-dose version of its vaccine. If positive, the results could accelerate the global Covid-19 vaccination effort, boosting the number of available doses to one billion this year and introducing a vaccine option that will be much easier for public health officials to handle.


Intel-INTC introduced four new PC processor families targeting business, education, gaming and mobile applications. It debuted more than 50 new processors as part of its 11th Gen Intel Core series. Intel also announced that has started production of its third-generation Xeon Scalable processors. The 10-nanometer processors, code-named Ice Lake, feature innovations that boost performance, security and operational efficiency within data centers.


Gentex-GNTX announced the acquisition of a new nanofiber sensing technology capable of detecting a wide variety of chemicals, from explosives to volatile organic compounds.  “Our new Vaporsens technology can be used in a wide variety of markets and industries, with potential applications for automotive, aerospace, agriculture, chemical manufacturing, military & first responders, worker safety, food & beverage processing, and medical – anywhere chemical sensing is needed,” said Neil Boehm, Gentex’s chief technology officer


Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021


F5 Networks-FFIV announced the acquisition of privately held Volterra, the first universal edge-as-a-service platform, for approximately $440 million in cash and approximately $60 million in deferred consideration and assumed unvested incentive compensation to founders and employees. The acquisition is expected to close in the first fiscal quarter. With the addition of Volterra’s technology platform, F5 is creating an edge platform built for enterprises and service providers that will be security-first and app-driven with unlimited scale. In connection with the transaction, F5 raised its Horizon 2 (fiscal years 2021 and 2022) and long-term revenue outlook, and reiterated its Horizon 2 operating targets, including its commitment to achieving double-digit non-GAAP earnings per share growth. The company also reiterated its commitment to return $1 billion of capital over the next two years, including the initiation of a $500 million accelerated share repurchase in fiscal year 2021. In addition, F5 released a preview of its first quarter fiscal year 2021 financial results stating it expects GAAP and non-GAAP revenue in a range of $623 to $626 million, driven in part, by approximately 68% GAAP, and 70% non-GAAP, software revenue growth.


Walgreens Boots Alliance-WBA reported fiscal first quarter revenues increased 6% to $36.3 billion with the company reporting a loss of $308 million or ($.36) per share compared to $845 million in profits or $.95 per share in the prior year period. These results included a $1.73 per share charge related to the equity earnings in AmerisourceBergen. Adjusted EPS decreased 11%, which was better than management expected but reflected the adverse impact of COVID-19 on financial results. Free cash flow increased 13% during the quarter to $764 million with the company paying $405 million in dividends and repurchasing $100 million of its common stock. The company announced plans to divest its pharmaceutical wholesale business for approximately $6.5 billion with plans to use the cash proceeds to accelerate its investment in the VillageMD full-service primary care clinics within its stores. First quarter results exceeded expectations, reflecting strength in Boots UK and Boots Opticians. While the second quarter is expected to see higher adverse impacts from COVID-19 due to rolling lockdowns and a weaker cough, cold and flu season, the company maintained its full year guidance of low single-digit growth in adjusted EPS on a constant currency basis. Through restructuring efforts, Walgreens expects to deliver in excess of $2 billion in annual cost savings by fiscal 2022.


Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021


Walgreens Boots Alliance-WBA and AmerisourceBergen announced strategic agreements under which AmerisourceBergen will acquire the majority of Walgreens Boots Alliance’s Alliance Healthcare businesses for approximately $6.5 billion, comprised of $6.275 billion in cash and 2 million shares of AmerisourceBergen common stock. Walgreens will be able to increase its focus on expanding its core retail pharmacy businesses, bringing even greater healthcare offerings to patients and customers and further accelerating its progress on its clear set of strategic priorities. In addition to this transaction, the two companies have agreed to strengthen their strategic partnership by extending and expanding their commercial agreements. Their U.S. distribution agreement will be extended by three years until 2029 and their partnership is being expanded to include a commitment to pursue additional opportunities in sourcing and distribution. Furthermore, Alliance Healthcare UK will remain the distribution partner of Boots until 2031. Together, these agreements are expected to create incremental growth, synergies and efficiencies. Effective from Walgreens Boots Alliance second quarter FY2021 earnings, the businesses sold will be classified as "businesses held for sale" with FY2020 revenues of approximately $19 billion, and adjusted EBITDA of approximately $540 million. Walgreens Boots Alliance expects FY2021 adjusted EBITDA to be in the range of $575 million to $580 million for these Alliance Healthcare businesses. The transaction will be slightly dilutive in the current financial year for Walgreens Boots Alliance but will be accretive longer-term.

 

Optum, a unit of UnitedHealth Group-UNH, and Change Healthcare, a health care technology leader, have agreed to combine. Change Healthcare will join with OptumInsight to provide software and data analytics, technology-enabled services and research, advisory and revenue cycle management offerings to help make health care work better for everyone. The agreement calls for the acquisition of Change Healthcare’s common stock for $25.75 per share in cash, or approximately $8 billion, and is expected to close in the second half of 2021. The acquisition is expected to be accretive to UnitedHealth Group’s net and adjusted earnings per share by approximately $0.20 and $0.50, respectively, in 2022, advancing strongly in subsequent years, inclusive of investments to accelerate technology, system and product integration and development activities to more quickly deliver the value of this combination to all health care system stakeholders.


Private sector employment decreased by 123,000 jobs from November to December according to the December ADP National Employment Report®. “As the impact of the pandemic on the labor market intensifies, December posted the first decline since April 2020," said Ahu Yildirmaz, vice president and co-head of the ADP Research Institute. "The job losses were primarily concentrated in retail and leisure and hospitality."

 

 

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