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One Analyst Sees “Zero Terminal Value” Left In GameStop

Plus, the U.S. has taken China off of its list of currency manipulators ahead of the signing of the phase-one trade deal, earnings season has started, and there’s more bad news for Boeing.

Stocks opened near the flatline to start Tuesday with the Dow dipping 16 points, or less than 0.1%. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq both hovered just below the flatline.

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The U.S. said it will remove China from a list of currency manipulating countries yesterday ahead of this week’s signing of the “phase one” trade truce. “The Treasury Department has helped secure a significant Phase One agreement with China that will lead to greater economic growth and opportunity for American workers and businesses,” said U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. “China has made enforceable commitments to refrain from competitive devaluation, while promoting transparency and accountability.” In other trade war news, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer sent a letter to President Donald Trump this morning that expressed concern that a weak trade deal that fails to address “structural inequities” between the U.S. and China could harm American workers and businesses for years to come. Schumer has been one of the most supportive Democrats in Trump’s crackdown on China, but has accused the president of caving with the “phase one” deal. “By giving away leverage with a temporary deal of some reduced tariff in exchange for American goods and vague promises of reform, as China has made time and time again, these structural issues will only become more challenging to address in future negotiations,” Schumer wrote. “China pledging to make short-term purchases of American goods will not address the fundamental problems that undermine long-term U.S. economic opportunity, prosperity, and security.”

The Good: Earnings season kicked off this morning with solid reports from JPMorgan, Citigroup, and Delta. JPMorgan reported Q4 profit that rose 21% to $8.25 billion, or $2.57 per share, easily beating estimates. “JPMorgan Chase produced strong results in the fourth quarter of 2019, capping off a solid year for the firm where we achieved many records, including record revenue and net income,” CEO Jamie Dimon said in JPMorgan’s earnings release. “While we face a continued high level of complex geopolitical issues, global growth stabilized, albeit at a lower level, and resolution of some trade issues helped support client and market activity towards the end of the year.” Citigroup’s bond trading revenues jumped 49% year-over-year, and the bank said the strong results showed a recovery from the fourth quarter of 2018 alongside “strong performance, particularly in rates and spread products.” Citi CEO Michael Corbat also highlighted the bank’s Branded Cards business which saw revenues gain 10% to $2.4 billion. “The U.S. consumer franchise saw continued strong growth in Branded Cards and sustained its momentum in attracting digital deposits,” Corbat said in a statement. “Our earnings of $5 billion for the fourth quarter marked a strong finish to 2019.” And Delta reported $1.70 in per share earnings, smashing Wall Street estimates for $1.40 per share. “2019 was a truly outstanding year on all fronts – the best in Delta’s history operationally, financially and for our customers,” said Delta CEO Ed Bastian. “As we enter 2020, demand for travel is healthy and our brand preference is growing.”

The Bad: Wells Fargo said its Q4 profits fell as persistently low interest rates and litigation charges weighed on it. The bank’s quarterly profit showed a year-over-year decline of 53% to $2.87 billion, and saw litigation costs pushed up by 17% to $1.5 billion for its legal costs related to litigation stemming from its fake-account problems from 2016. New Wells Fargo CEO Charles Scharf said in a press release, “Wells Fargo is a wonderful and important franchise that has made some serious mistakes, and my mandate is to make the fundamental changes necessary to regain the full trust and respect of all stakeholders. …During my first three months at Wells Fargo my primary focus has been on advancing our required regulatory work with a different sense of urgency and resolve, while beginning to develop a path to improve our financial results.” 

And The Ugly: GameStop shares are down more than 14% after the videogame retailer reported holiday sales fell by 27.5% year-over-year. The company also lowered its outlook for a full-year same-store sales decline of between 21% and 19%, while it had previously anticipated “a decline in the high teens.” GameStop CEO George Sherman said in a press release, “While we expect the challenges that we faced in the fourth quarter to continue into fiscal 2020, we believe we have the right long-term action plans in place to optimize profitability and increase new revenue streams in advance of new console introductions for holiday 2020.” However, Benchmark analyst Mike Hickey said of the retailer, “Deteriorating financial momentum has accelerated, management appears to have abandoned accountability and we see zero terminal value” in GameStop. Hickey added that he expects “ongoing weakness over the next several quarters” as digital game distribution “cements its grip on player purchase behavior.”

And in ongoing bad news for Boeing, the company lost its title as the world’s largest platemaker to Airbus in the wake of the 737 Max scandal, marking Boeing’s biggest defeat in the 45-year duel between the two companies. According to a company statement released this morning, Boeing said it delivered just 380 jetliners last year, which was less than half of Airbus’s tally of 863 planes. Not only that, but the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee released excerpts of a text conversation between two Boeing employees discussing a request by Indonesia’s Lion Air for a simulator training for its pilots before flying the 737 Max the year before a Lion Air flight plunged into the Java Sea killing all 189 people on board. Boeing had convinced Lion Air that a simulator was unnecessary for the new 737 model. “Now friggin Lion Air might need a sim to fly the MAX, and maybe because of their own stupidity. I’m scrambling trying to figure out how to unscrew this now! Idiots,” a Boeing employee wrote in a June 2017 text message, to which another worker replied, “WHAT THE F%$&!!!! But their sister airline is already flying it!” And in one last blow for the morning, American Airlines announced that it is pulling the Boeing 737 Max from its schedules until early June, joining United Airlines, as the date for re-approval and certification for the plane continues to be uncertain.

Stocks We’re Watching

Cardlytics Inc (NASDAQ: CDLX): Cardlytics shares popped 25% yesterday after it reported preliminary fourth-quarter earnings results that crushed expectations. The purchase analytics company and loyalty program operator reported it expects Q4 revenue to come in at a range of between $68.5 million to $69.5 million, beating Street expectations for $59 million in sales. “We experienced strong growth in 2019, as illustrated by a meaningful acceleration in the back half of the year,” said CEO Scott Grimes in a statement. “We are pleased with the incremental budget expansions that contributed to our revenue performance in the fourth quarter, which is expected to be above our prior guidance.”

Jumei International Holdings (NYSE: JMEI): Shares of this Chinese retailer jumped 9.6% yesterday after CEO Leo Ou Chen offered to purchase all outstanding shares at $20 per share, representing 8.6% upside from the current price. If completed, Jumei would become a privately-held company, and the company has formed a special committee of the Board to consider the proposed buyout. 

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