• 25 Jan
    ALLY: do solid fundamentals make it worth its current price?

    ALLY: do solid fundamentals make it worth its current price?

    One of the interesting things to observe in the economy during the late upward stages of an economic cycle is consumer lending. A struggling economy usually prompts the Federal Reserve to lower interest rates in an effort to encourage more business activity. Lower interest rates mean cheaper borrowing for businesses and individuals. For the purposes of today’s spotlight, I want to focus on the consumer side of that dynamic. More →

  • 12 Nov
    Want to bet on financials? C isn’t a smart gamble yet

    Want to bet on financials? C isn’t a smart gamble yet

    One of the rising concerns that has helped keep the market on edge for the last couple of months now is the spectre that since interest rates are likely to keep rising, economic growth in the United States will inevitably have to slow or, worse reverse into a new recessionary cycle. I do think that it is true that the longer the latest expansionary cycle – which could begin to stretch into an unprecedented full decade in the next few months – continues, the more likely a new extended downward cycle becomes. That doesn’t mean the end is near, or that we know when that reversal will come; it just means that a cycle, by definition has a beginning and an end, and that in a market economy, every bullish cycle eventually and inevitably turns bearish, and every bearish cycle eventually and inevitably turns bullish.

    One of the real tricks to being able to keep your money working for you no matter what the broader economy and market’s trend is doing is being able to recognize that opportunities exist in every kind of cycle. I was reminded about that recently while listening to a few analysts talking about current market conditions. The discussion closed with the moderator asking these experts where each one thought some of the smartest places to put their money right now would be. It wasn’t too surprising when a couple of them singled out the financial sector.

    The premise is simple enough: rising rates are good for fixed-income investors, because they can get a higher yield on “safer” investments like bonds and short-term instruments. That’s usually just one piece of positive news for banks, as they see increased volume in bond purchases as well as flows into shorter-term instruments like money markets, Treasury bills, and certificates of deposit. That also gives them more money to offer to borrowers at higher interest rates, which often means that while other parts of the market are experiencing turbulence and increased volatility, financial stocks like banks become part of the “flight to quality” that are often typical of the end of a bull market.

    It is a bit of a double-edged sword, however; rising interest rates can only continue for so long before the economy inevitably begins to slow, because at some point interest rates become high enough that borrowing becomes prohibitively expensive. In the financial crisis that triggered the last recessionary cycle from 2008 to 2009, the store was made even worse by the realization that mortgage companies and banks had over-leveraged themselves with subprime loans – loans that charged higher interest rates to borrowers with poor credit quality. The problem was that when the economy began to slow, these loans became almost completely non-productive. The federal government took steps in the years following to regulate subprime lending more closely, and so there isn’t likely to be the same kind of risk now that existed ten years ago. Even so, it is a cautionary tale worth noting, because the truth is that even banks, insurance companies and investment institutions remain at risk when the economy slips into recessionary conditions.

    If you want to watch the financial sector right now, it’s smart to keep a cautious eye, and to look for stocks that represent an excellent value. Citigroup Inc. (C) is a good example; since hitting a 52-week high at nearly $81 in late January of this year, the stock began an extended slide downward, falling all the way to the $65 level by the beginning of July. It stages a short-term bullish trend from that point, rallying to around $75 in late September before dropping back to a new 52-week low around $63 in late October. As of this writing, the stock is back around $65 price level – a price that might offer a tempting opportunity for somebody looking for a good value play in the financial sector. But is C really a stock that is worth investing your hard-earned dollars right now? You decide.

    Fundamental and Value Profile

    Citigroup Inc. (Citi) is a financial services holding company. The Company’s whose businesses provide consumers, corporations, governments and institutions with a range of financial products and services, including consumer banking and credit, corporate and investment banking, securities brokerage, trade and securities services and wealth management. The Company operates through two segments: Citicorp and Citi Holdings. Citicorp is the Company’s global bank for consumers and businesses and represents its core franchises. Citicorp is focused on providing products and services to customers and leveraging the Company’s global network, including various economies. As of December 31, 2016, Citicorp was present in 97 countries and jurisdictions, and offered services in over 160 countries and jurisdictions. Global Consumer Banking (GCB) provides traditional banking services to retail customers through retail banking, including Citi-branded cards and Citi retail services. C has a current market cap of $165.5 billion.

    • Earnings and Sales Growth: Over the last twelve months, earnings increased 22.5%, while sales increased almost 10%. Growing earnings faster than sales is difficult to do, and generally isn’t sustainable in the long-term; however it is also a good indication of management’s ability to maximize their business operations. The company’s Net Income versus Revenue tells an interesting story, since over the last twelve months it was actually -5.4%, but in the last quarter improved to more than 18.5%, pointing to major improvement in the company’s margin profile.
    • Free Cash Flow: C’s Free Cash Flow is strong, at more than $21.5 billion. This is a number that has increased throughout 2018, but before that point had declined from a high in late 2015 of about $65 billion.
    • Debt to Equity: C has a debt/equity ratio of 1.32, which appears high, but it should be noted that most banks carry higher debt levels as a normal course of their business. It should be noted that despite the high debt/equity ratio, the company’s cash and liquid assets are more than 3 times higher than the total amount of long-term debt on their balance sheet.
    • Dividend: C pays an annual dividend of $1.80 per share, which at its current price translates to a dividend yield of about 2.73%.
    • Price/Book Ratio: there are a lot of ways to measure how much a stock should be worth; but one of the simplest methods that I like uses the stock’s Book Value, which for C is $69.58 per share. At the stock’s current price, that translates to a Price/Book Ratio of .94, which at first blush seems very low; however, the stock’s historical average is only .8. The stock is also trading about 22% above its historical Price/Cash Flow ratio. Together, those two measurements put the stock’s fair value at somewhere between $52 and $55 per share, which is well below the stock’s current price. The stock would actually have to drop below $45 to be considered a useful discount relative to its historical Price/Book value.

    Technical Profile

    Here’s a look at the stock’s latest technical chart.


    • Current Price Action/Trends and Pivots: The chart above displays the stock’s price action for the last year. The decline from the stock’s September peak at about $75 marks a decline over the past six weeks or so of about 12% at the stock’s price as of this writing. It has strong support between $63 and $65 per share, while near-term resistance should be seen around $69, with $72 and $75 acting as secondary resistance points if the stock can begin to stage a bullish rally.
    • Near-term Keys: A short-term trade right now is pretty speculative on this stock, no matter whether you want to trade the bullish side by buying the stock outright or to start working with call options. A bearish trade also is a very low probability proposition right now given the stock’s current support level; the only decent signal on this side would come if the stock break below $65. In that case, the next likely support level would be in the $57 to $58 range, so there could be an interesting opportunity to short the stock in that case or work with put options. While the company has some interesting fundamental strengths, I think that it remains a bit expensive right now, even with the stock’s current decline for most of the year. I wouldn’t really be very interested in working with this stock unless and until it drops into the $44 to $45 range. That would take a decline from its current price of a little more than 30%, which really the biggest reason I don’t think this is a risk worth taking right now.

  • 27 Aug
    SYF lost Walmart credit cards – is that really a bad thing?

    SYF lost Walmart credit cards – is that really a bad thing?

    If you’ve applied for a credit card at a retail store such as Walmart, Target, or even J.C. Penney, you’ve actually become a customer for a business like Synchrony Financial (SYF), a leading provider of store-branded credit cards. More →

  • 08 Nov
    Is Everything Now Too Big To Fail?

    Is Everything Now Too Big To Fail?

    • Today, we’ll discuss how the “too big to fail” concept has evolved since it was first used back in 1984.
    • The U.S. stock market to pension funds relation shows that even the stock market is simply too big to fail.
    • In Europe, the situation is even worse. Everything there is too big to fail, from countries to corporations to junk bonds.


    “Too big to fail” is a concept that you probably recognize from the 2009 financial crisis when many corporations, particularly financial institutions, were considered too big to fail due to the negative impact their demise would have on the whole economic system.

    In order to prevent massive negative effects on the economy, and also to prevent a 1930s depression-style situation, governments intervened and bailed out the distressed assets. More →

  • 08 Aug
    Are Stocks & Bonds In A Bubble? Sven Thinks So…

    Are Stocks & Bonds In A Bubble? Sven Thinks So…

    • Earnings have been growing in the last 12 months, but haven’t grown that much over the last 20 years.
    • Even the Swiss central bank owns almost $3 billion worth of Apple’s stock.
    • After the dot-com and the housing bubbles, school books will talk about the central bank bubble in the future.


    All we see right now is the stock market continuing to go up. The S&P 500 is already up 9.7% year to date, and there is no sign that the trend might weaken or reverse. Over the last 8 and a half years, the index is up 242%. More →

  • 28 Dec
    2017 Looks Like Another Excellent Trading Year

    2017 Looks Like Another Excellent Trading Year

    • Rebalancing your portfolio between sectors and markets should lower your risks and increase your returns in 2017.
    • 2016 is an excellent example of how such a strategy works when the general stock market is overvalued.
    • Things like avoiding REITs in August 2016 or entering metals will be easy to spot and act upon, even in 2017.

    Approaching The Current Market Risk Reward Puzzle

    A recent Wall Street Journal article raised the question of whether investors looking to get into the market now are too late for the Dow 20,000 party. Many investors watched the 7-year stock bull market from the side-lines after they got burned during the latest financial crisis and didn’t overcome their anxiety and invest again. The article suggested that investing now is a good thing to do if you are a long-term investor. More →

  • 27 Sep
    Should You Worry About What’s Happening With Deutsche Bank?

    Should You Worry About What’s Happening With Deutsche Bank?

    • European stocks pushed global markets down after the German Chancellor said they will not help Deutsche Bank if it fails.
    • Europe still offers too much risk for the expected return.
    • In this article we’ll share two critical things you have to think about in order to weather all possible storms.


    After a long and quiet summer, stocks are showing increased volatility. Last week’s FED decision not to increase interest rates has quickly been forgotten as markets try to digest news from Europe where increased fears over capital requirements for Deutsche Bank, which sent European markets down on Monday.

    In this article, we’ll assess the depth of the issue and look for the real reasons behind the European 2% market move on Monday morning. More →

  • 01 Jun
    It’s Just Money: Is it Time to Think About Investing in Banks?

    It’s Just Money: Is it Time to Think About Investing in Banks?

    • Banks have excellent fundamentals and low valuations.
    • Increased interest rates mean increased spreads and higher profits.
    • Complying with Basel guidelines lower the risks of another financial crisis.


    Since the great recession investors have been wary of investing in financials as the bankruptcies, bailouts and layoffs left a big mark. This article is going to shed some light on the current banking situation to see if the 2009 debacle was a once in a century happening, or if there are still inherent risks for the US banking sector. More →

    By Sven Carlin Banks Investiv Daily