First Quarter Earnings
In the week ahead we expect earning reports from a well-rounded group of companies that represent or impact every aspect of our economy. This will give us a clear indication of the underlying health of the economy, impact of the virus, and how companies see themselves performing for the rest of the year.
The top items we are keeping an eye on this week are:
- Q1 Earnings Performance v. Analyst Earnings Expectations – This is a cornerstone of every quarter regardless of what is happening economically. These numbers will be interesting to watch as we were just over halfway through the quarter before shutdowns began.
- Projected Impact of Virus Shutdown – How do companies believe their businesses will be impacted by the virus going forward? The data these companies are seeing daily from their customers will give us a clear indication of the future economic impact to both companies and the economy at large. Many economists are projecting a 10% - 20% decrease in the GDP of the U.S. Economy – this data segment will help us better dial in the true impact economically.
- Strength of the Prudently Run Business – One major trend during this period has been the strong stock performance of companies with massive amounts of cash being held on their balance sheet. For example – AAPL and GOOGL have hundreds of billions of dollars sitting in cash. With so much current uncertainty these large cash positions protect the ability of the company to operate, increase production in rapid order upon reopening, and potentially acquire future growth engines. These are companies that we have leaned into from an investment standpoint over the last 6 months and potentially continue to utilize as a hedge against market volatility going forward.
What's going on with OIL??
The oil industry has been a topic of much speculation recently which many clients asking, "Why have the last few weeks been so crazy with oil?" and "Is now a good time to invest in oil?"
Historically speaking the oil industry has been made of massive companies who run the industry. Look at this chart breaking down the evolution of the sector from the days of Standard Oil to present:
Although much could be written on this topic, my purpose for today is to hit on the key drivers of the oil market both over the last few months and provide future expectations going forward.
- Supply & Demand – The recent shutdown has created a glut of oil due to the drastically reduced day to day functioning of the global society. Due to this glut, oil producers have rapidly filled up a large majority of the available storage facilities nationwide. Currently oil tankers are anchored at ports around the world with no location to offload their cargo.
- International Oil Conflicts – In recent months, Saudi Arabia and Russia have been in a stand-off regarding oil production and pricing. Both nations' economies and political peace is dependent on the production of oil, which is why we have seen both countries take hard line positions. As a result, both nations were slow to cut their production, which increased the overall supply of oil that is expected to hit the market in May/June. Both nations have cut production in recent weeks in an attempt to stabilize prices. Time will tell if this effort has the effect intended.
- Futures & Options Trading – This is the source of the negative price point for oil. The May options contract hit -$37.60 on April 20th setting the lowest price for oil in history. Simply stated – professional traders for the most part had already moved their oil holdings out into future months, thus protecting themselves from massive losses. This created very low trading volume in the May contracts, which in turn meant that no large buyers were stepping up to stop the falling price of oil.
So, is this a good time to invest funds into oil or oil specific companies now that prices and valuations have fallen? Our advice has been and will continue to be the following for the time being:
- Do not invest your Retirement funds or funds needed for short-term savings at this time.–Over the past few years we have purposefully limited exposure to the oil sector in our clients' portfolios due to our belief that there is very little room for growth in this sector. There is far too much uncertainty (both economically and politically) and volatility to have a highly concentrated position with funds that you will need down the road. If you are determined to invest in this sector utilize funds that you do not need for a future goal and understand that there is strong potential that you may lose money.
- Think Long Term – There are several major headwinds facing the oil industry. Large amounts of debt, increasing government regulation, heightened global and local competition, etc. While there is nothing wrong with trying to find a great deal on an investment in the oil sector, make sure that you go into the investment with eyes wide open as to the uphill battle ahead.
- Identify Best In Class Companies – We have advised targeting companies in the oil sector that have run their businesses conservatively both from a financial and production standpoint. Companies such as BP and Exxon have highly leveraged balance sheets due to their dependence on debt to pay their dividends and grow their production. Focus on companies that have lower debt balances, strong cash flows, and diversified business lines.
Creekmur Wealth Advisors may be reached at 866-358-4441 or Info@Creekmurwealth.com.