Steady in June despite trade war rumblings and another rate hike
Despite headwinds from the specter of a looming trade War with China, a hike in interest rates and domestic political fervor over immigration policies, US markets, in what is historically a flat month, managed to eke out a slight gain in June, +48 basis points for the S & P 500. Many of these elements are negatives for large caps but could serve to benefit the performance of domestic small caps. The Singular Research coverage list performed in line with major domestic equity indices for the month of June.
Our top performers for June were: 1) Salem Media +35.5% bolstered from The District Court ruling clearing the humungous At&t- Time Warner merger. 2) Harvard Biosciences (HBIO) drawing renewed investor interest with analyst’s increased estimates for 2019, and 3) NV 5 Inc. (NVEE) benefiting from and improving outlook for domestic engineering & construction activity in 2018.
Our worst performers for June were: 1) Anika Therapeutics (ANIK) which received a setback from results in clinical tests on its Cingal product, 2) Wisdom Tree Investments ( WETF) suffering from market perceptions possible continuing outflows from its currency sensitive funds that are negatively correlated with the dollar, since this is a short call it is actually a positive refund for investors and : 3) Huttig Building Products ( HBP) disappointing investors hoping for a quicker resolution to its search for a new CFO.
In June we dropped coverage on : 1) Gray TV ( GTN) as its acquisition announcement of Raycom created a huge move up in price that nearly equally our 12-month target and : 2) Stamps.com (STMP) which reached out price target of $275 . Thus it has appreciated over 300% since we incepted coverage nearly 3 years ago.
Finally, we want to thank our loyal clients for their strong support and confidence over the last twelve years.
Singular Research Staff
Singular Research Director’s Letter : May 2018
Earnings surprise and positive guidance drive upside surprises.
May proved to be a good month to hold and stay. The Singular coverage list had a good month, up 3.3% outperforming the S&P but lagging the Russell 2000 which was up nearly 6%.
The month was dominated by the close of a very strong earning season where aggregate S&P earnings were up nearly 23%. The other dominant trend was small caps began to pull away from their big cap brethren. We believe this outperformance is well supported by economic fundamentals. Small caps are more domestic focused and thus less vulnerable to International political- economic headwinds, also they seem to be benefiting from lower corporate tax rates and slightly rising interest rates due to lower levels of debt and previous inability to benefit from Financial engineering that buffeted big caps.
Finally, and possibly most significantly small caps tend to perform well when small business confidence increases. The index of small business confidence is at its highest level in over a decade.
Our top performers for the month were lead by Olympia Financial (OLY). Olympia up 24.6%. It benefited from a strong earnings report and is supported by an attractive dividend yield of over 5%. Salem media followed with a 20.6% return, rebounding from an extreme oversold position condition. Investors also are starting to look towards the 2018 midterms and the increased ad revenue that will generate for the company. Nmi Holdings improved 20.2% this stock is benefiting from the strong economy and prospects for longer and improved housing starts this year.
Our worst performers to were led by EVIO, Inc, a Cannabis testing company, down 29.4% due to a disappointing earnings report. Harvard Bioscience followed with a negative 23.5% return caused by profit-taking from its run of nearly a hundred percent over the last two very months. Our third-worst performer was Biolase down 23.4% impacted by the departure of its CEO.
In May we initiated coverage on two new names. We started Wisdom tree Investments (WETF) with a sell due to its exposure to currencies and increased competition. We launched Cordoba Minerals (CDB) with a buy as we believe the prospects of this Canadian Resource company for the development and discovery of copper and gold are bright in the years ahead.
Finally, we want to thank our loyal clients for their strong support and confidence over the last twelve years.
Singular Research Director’s Letter : April 2018
The U.S Equity markets are not getting any much credit from the tax cuts yet this year. Earnings will be up a record 21%, the best showing in many years. We will focus on revenue growth in the quarter ahead as well as estimates and guidance. Investors are trying to figure out what the real rate of earnings growth is at this point counter balanced against rising interest rates. It looks like the peak for operating margins is in as real growth is lower margin vs financially engineered eps growth.
The” FANG “, continues to bang earnings growth as well as rank among the top spending corporations with lobbyists in DC as forward-thinking monopolists are paving the way for future growth, evidenced by the recent Facebook testimony in front of Congress. Where is the outrage? Where are the new proposals to protect our privacy? Facebook. will still be allowed to self-regulate. What would you pay for 20 to 25% earnings growth for the next five – ten years with virtually no competition. Certainly, more than the 20 to 30% premium the “FANG” is trading to the market right now.
Earnings are to the upside with q3 expected to be up over 20% as well. Valuations are not crazy either at a slight premium to the five-year average and historical average. Interest rates are still below average. But the market seems fairly valued and higher earnings are needed to propel the market higher from this level. Is the Fed neutral, based on money supply growth and GDP growth this seems to be the case. Should we worry that the spread between the two year and ten-year government bond is narrowing down to 40 basis points? Usually this is a strong indicator that a recession on the horizon. Meanwhile, the leading economic indicators continue to edge higher, a very good sign for the economy and the market.
In summary, it might be good to hold in May and go play. It looks like the market is going to have to grind it out until it has for evidence that there is solid earnings growth ahead into early 2019. Also, the mid-term elections in November will start to become an overhang and provide another potential negative for the market. Another key question, will the market normalize and take the benefit of the tax cut and reinvest into the real economy or continue to engage in financial engineering via share buybacks and M&A.
Don’t get faked out, Stay long.
April’s top performers combined were an eclectic bunch with varied influences likely contributing to outperformance. General Finance (GFN) posted a strong q1 and raised estimates slightly. EVIO Inc, (EVIO) was a new initiation with favorable news on growth plans, and Huttig Building Products, Inc. ( HBP) bounced back from an extreme oversold condition.
The worst performer list had was led by LSI Industries (LYTS), hit with a surprise resignation of its CEO, followed by NMI Holdings (NMIH), suffering from some surprising price cuts by a competitor that spooked the market on the outlook for future margins, and closely followed to the downside by Salem Media( SALM), as investors continued to abandon a sector perceived to be another casualty of technological disruption and an aging audience.
We are excited to announce new coverage on EVIO Inc. (EVIO). EVIO Inc. is a leading provider of quality control testing, consulting and advisory services to the cannabis industry. The company owns 9 laboratories serving five states in the US – California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Oregon and Florida. At Singular Research, we continue to seek out investment ideas that have minimal to no Wall Street coverage to add alpha for our active institutional following. We thank our clients for your support of independent equity research.
Singular Research Summer Solstice 2018 Conference, Philadelphia PA
Singular Summer Solstice 2018 Conference
July 19th, 2018
“The only performance-based conference in the small and micro-cap space –
supported by unbiased research since 2004.”
Summer Solstice 2018 Conference
Singular Research Director’s Letter : March 2018
Tough Talk Reverses Rebound
After experiencing an impressive bounce from the prior month’s sell-off, equity markets staged a short-lived rebound that was squelched by fears of a trade war between U.S and China. Although the trade banter has simmered, new anxiety has arisen regarding higher secular inflation and aggressive moves by the special council against Trump. Moving into April, market participants await q1 eps reports to match vs. high expectations as the apex of good news on earnings is feared while eps growth vs. rising rates battle continues.
March’s top performers were led by eps beaters and a couple oversold bouncers. As our coverage list and the R2K showed a positive divergence from a decline of over 3% in the S&P 500. Will this become a trend? Too early to detect a change in leadership as of press time. NV 5 Corp. (NVEE), up 28.9% in March, blew away our estimates and CEO Dickerson Wright attested to the strongest operating environment he has witnessed in many cycles. Trecora Resources, (TREC), recovered from a plant shutdown and benefited from a strong lift in operations to beat eps estimates by a wide margin. A-Mark Precious Metals Inc, (AMRK) aided by increased concerns of trade wars and a subsequent increase in market volatility, posted a 10% gain in March.
The worst performer list was largely impacted by disappointing eps reports and/ or guidance. NMI Holding, Inc, (NHIM) was hit by market fears of higher rates and an imminent peak in housing starts. Salem Media (SALM) continued to battle a secular decline in industry fundamentals while it struggles to beat estimates. Acme United (ACU), our inaugural pick , at $9 when we incepted over twelve years ago, while continuing to execute its successful growth plan over the long term, has experienced some occasional bumps, including some execution adjustments as it transitions to online marketing.
In March, we dropped coverage on Vasco Data Services, (VDSI), as it continued to struggle with a transition from a hardware to a software based business model , missing estimates consistently over the last twelve months. We initiated coverage of Olympia Financial, (OLY.to) an Canadian based financial services company with a diversified array of growing products and services with a Buy-Long term rating.
At Singular Research, we continue to seek out investment ideas that have minimal to no Wall Street coverage to add alpha for our active institutional following. We thank our clients for your support of independent equity research.
Lawrence Kudlow to Become Trump’s White House Economic Adviser
Robert Maltbie & Singular Research for appointment to Trump team. Watch “Larry Kudlow interview Sept 22, 2016 : “How to Grow Again” on YouTube.
Singular Research Director’s Letter : February 2018
After a near two year hiatus, with the VIX trending at the historical low end of 11-14 bp level, volatility exploded after an employment report showed higher than expected wage growth, pointing to higher interest rates. All the leveraged short vol funds took a huge hit that send shock waves into the broader equity market, creating the first 10% sell-off since early 2016. Better than expected earnings and upward revisions and positive economic news led the markets to recoup to only a 3-4% down draw for February.
February’s top performers combined good eps reports with lower valuations to buck the stiff sell–off. Our top performer was NMI Holdings, Inc.( NMIH) + 8.17%, a mortgage insurer riding the housing recovery. Hennessy Advisors Inc. (HNNA) +4.36%, an undervalued micro-cap posted good earning while our analyst increased his price target . New York Times Co. ( NYT), a short call went against the grain, posing an earnings beat extending the Trump Bump to readership growth.
The worst performers list had some large down draws. Led by Huttig Building Products, Inc. (HBP) -27 %, this suffered from an unexpected departure of its CFO. Next in line was Anika Therapeutics Inc. (ANIK), -22%, hit by tepid guidance and the retirement of its CEO and founder. Finally, dropping over 17%, A-Mark Precious Metals, Inc. (AMRK) missed estimates due to the low volatility in metals, combined with higher than expected acquisition costs.
We are excited to announce new coverage on LSI Industries Inc. (LYTS), a designer of LED indoor and outdoor lighting systems servings retail and industrial sectors. LYTS posted a better than expected quarter last month, led by a new management team and new product offerings. Also, we launched coverage on Full House Resorts Inc. (FLL), a micro-cap Hotel and Casino resort operator that trades at a significant discount to its peers and is also in the process of a major turnaround. At Singular Research, we continue to seek out investment ideas that have minimal to no Wall Street coverage to add alpha for our active institutional following. We thank our clients for your support of independent equity research.
Singular Research Director’s Letter : January 2018
Out of the Box Hot!
As the adage goes, as goes January as will be the year. Thus, we remain encouraged, hoping earnings can continue to lift already lofty valuations. Indeed, aided by lowered corporate tax rates and lessened regulatory burdens, we have much too support encouraged animal spirits. Still, we suggest selectivity and valuation vigilance as the FED is looking to renormalize the rate environment with the hint of perhaps, several hikes in 2018, suggesting a possible push-pull between higher rates vs. higher earnings.
Meanwhile, small caps continue to lag as investors still favor large cap and accompanying ETF’s extending last year’s leadership forward into 2018 thus far.
For the top performing companies in January on the Singular Research coverage list, a common theme was biotech, led by HBIO, ANIK & IGXT. Harvard Bioscience (HBIO) announced a major acquisition that should lift growth prospects and margins while shedding a low margin, underperforming division. Whereas Anika Pharmaceuticals, lacking an apparent fundamental catalyst, seems to have benefited from a rebound in the Biotech sector spurred by investor allocation to ETF’s. Transcat, (TRNS), got a nice boost from beating estimates from the 2 analysts (including Singular) that follow it.
The worst performing stock on the Singular coverage list during January was by our wrongheaded short call on New York Times, (NYT), which continues to delight with its digit revenue growth results spurred by a long-lived Trump bump. Clear One (CLRO) endured profit taking reaction from a 25% up move in December. It remains an attractive long-term value still trading around book value. Arlington Asset Investment Corp. (AI), surprised the street with better than forecast results and rebounded from an oversold condition that took it below NAV to a 5 year low.
We continue to work on new ideas and plan to launch coverage in the coming weeks on one or several new names. At Singular Research, we continue to seek out investment ideas that have minimal to no Wall Street coverage. We thank our clients for your support of independent equity research.