A Bad Omen for Earnings Season?

07/10/2012 3:03 pm EST


Jim Jubak

Founder and Editor, JubakPicks.com

One of the stronger long-term stocks has sharply lowered its guidance, which means we could see a rash of it over the next few weeks, writes MoneyShow’s Jim Jubak, also of Jubak’s Picks.

This is what I’m afraid second-quarter earnings season is going to look like for even the best of companies: today, Cummins (CMI) lowered its guidance for second-quarter revenue to $4.45 billion. The Wall Street consensus was $5.07 billion in revenue before the announcement.

For the full 2012 year, the company said it now expects that revenue will be flat with 2011. The company had hung tough until today, saying previously that it expected revenue to grow 10% in 2012 from last year.

The stock was down 3.8% on the news as of 1:30 p.m. New York time. Shares of Cummins, a member of my Jubak’s Picks 12-18 month portfolio, are now down 28% from their March 19 high.

At the same time that it announced this bad news, the company did report that it would raise its quarterly dividend by 25%, to 50 cents from 40 cents a share. The dividend, equivalent to an annual yield of 2.16%, is payable on September 1 to shareholders of record on August 22. The company is scheduled to report earnings on July 31.

The problems that Cummins cited in lowering its revenue guidance aren’t anything unexpected to anyone following the slowdown in the global economy—slower than forecast sales trends for trucks and power generation equipment in the United States, Brazil, India, and China; and lower revenues once foreign currencies are translated into an appreciating US dollar.

What is new, however, is management’s admission that Cummins won’t be able to grow sales by 10% in this macro environment. I think we can expect more admissions like that this quarter from companies that had, as of last quarter, thought that they might be able to do OK even against the background of a slowing global economy.

Watch for earnings reports from companies such as Amazon (AMZN), IBM (IBM), Coach (COH), DuPont (DD), McDonald’s (MCD), and Precision Castparts (PCP) to see if even the most stalwart of growth companies are finally lowering guidance for 2012. (If they are, and if they drop on the announcement, you might think about picking up some shares, since the disappointment will take some of the current near-term risk out of the stock.)

Cummins remains one of my favorite long-term holdings, but I think the rest of 2012 could be unkind to the stock. So you could indeed wait before adding to or starting positions.

I’ve had a target of $145 on the shares for October 2012, but I’m reducing that today, July 10, to $130 by July 2013. The schedule depends on stabilizing (but not necessarily improving) economic growth in China and Brazil in the third quarter of 2012.

Full disclosure: I don’t own shares of any of the companies mentioned in this post in my personal portfolio. The mutual fund I manage, Jubak Global Equity Fund, may or may not now own positions in any stock mentioned in this post. For a full list of the stocks in the fund as of the end of March, see the fund’s portfolio here.

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