Is AAPL the next AOL, and is Tim Cook the next Thorsten Heins? It all depends on China: if the world's most populous nation can get its stock market, its economy and its currency under control, then this too shall pass. The problem is that if, as many increasingly suggest, China has lost control of all three. At that point anyone who thought they got a great deal when buying AAPL at $92 will have far better opportunities to dollar-cost average far, far lower.
It has hardly been a secret that the unprecedented level of pollutants in the Chinese air would impair life expectancy and lead to extensive health problems, but even we were surprised to find out the quantification of China's air problem: according to one study, an average of 4,000 people a day are killed in China, as a result of the dense smog.
Welcome to the new normal... The "if we build it (and offer credit to anyone who can fog a mirror), they will come" economy. While LeBeau and his cronies are cock-a-hoop over auto sales (no matter how those sales are achieved), it seems the carmakers are way ahead as the value of cars on the sidelines (inventories) has never, ever, been greater than now.
With both channel stuffing and subprime out of the window if only for the time being, GM, whose China sales are falling off a cliff, had to come up with some urgent source of end demand. And thanks to recently disclosed data, we now know that "once a Government Motors, always a Government Motors", because just the first quarter of 2015, the average annual increase in sales to Uncle Sam, aka the Government was a whopping 24%, just about 100% higher than GM's headline rate of sales increase!
Sometimes I wish I could just passively accept what my government monarchs and their mainstream media mouthpieces feed me on a daily basis. Why do I have to question everything I’m told? Life would be much simpler and I could concentrate on more important things like the size of Kim Kardashian’s ass... The willfully ignorant masses, dumbed down by government education, lured into obesity by corporate toxic packaged sludge disguised as food products, manipulated, controlled and molded by an unseen governing class of rich men, and kept docile through never ending corporate media propaganda, are nothing but pawns to the arrogant sociopathic pricks pulling the wires in this corporate fascist empire of debt.
For many, if not most, companies and especially retailers, the great wildcard that is the "massive" Chinese market with the potential of hundreds of millions of buyers in the country's nascent middle class, has been a slam dunk when it comes to boosting stock prices. After all, what can go wrong? America's largest retailer was one of those hoping to capitalize on just this shareholder euphoria for Chinese exposure, and just like everyone else, it milked its Chinese exposure for many years. And then, unexpected everything did go wrong: as Bloomberg explains, "After years of heralding China as one of its best markets, Wal-Mart in August said its performance there was among the worst in its major countries." How is that possible? Read on to find out how Wal-Mart fabricated, lied and misled investors for years using every single trick in the book and then some.
Moments ago, GM was pleased to report that its dealers delivered 226,819 vehicles in the United States in October leading to "the company’s best October sales in seven years." But it could have been much worse if GM had not resorted to its favorite sales "boosting" gimmick: channel stuffing. Indeed, as GM reported, in October, total units at dealer lots, rose to 792,489, or a whopping 94 days supply, up from 753, 928 (81 days) in September, and up a whopping 8.9% from the 728K in October of last year, when, again, sales were only 0.2% lower. This was the biggest one month jump in "dealer stuffed" vehicles since November of 2013.
The good news about this particular banana republic: everything else may be imploding, but at least still has bananas.
"I will not be purchasing any further GM vehicles since GM does not stand behind vehicles when a serious malfunction occurs... My children and I could have been fatally injured due to the disintegration of the brake line."
If there was some hope that in April the trend of the US adding low-quality (as in low-paying) jobs may finally be coming to an end, this came to a quick end in May, when more than half of the 217K jobs added were in the lowest paying sectors. Specifically: Education and health: +63K; Leisure and Hospitality: +39K; Temp Help Services: +14K. These three lowest paying categories amount to 116K, or well over half of the total jobs gains.
Here is a verbal account of precisely what happens when domestic car-makers overestimate the purchasing power of the US, and clog channels to an epic extent. In this case, we refer to the recently launched GM Cadillac ELR, launched to much aplomb just five months ago as a competitor to the Tesla Model S for a $76,000 price point (above Tesla's $70,000), has been a complete disaster. And how is GM dealing with this latest sales disappointment (which struck even before all the recent recall scandals had hit)? Why by jamming dealers with an unprecedented 725-day supply, or exactly two years worth of cars!
In the past several years, one of the topics covered in detail on these pages has been the surge in such gimmicks designed to disguise lack of demand and end customer sales, used extensively by US automotive manufacturers, better known as "channel stuffing", of which General Motors is particularly guilty and whose inventory at dealer lots just hit a new record high. But did you know that when it comes to flat or declining sales and stagnant end demand, channel stuffing is merely the beginning? Presenting... Where the World's Unsold Cars Go To Die
As usual, there was the now traditional book-cooking going on at GM, which only managed to "beat" estimates thanks to the tried and true gimmick of channel stuffing. Indeed: after hitting an all time high of 815K cars parked at dealer lots last month, in April GM's channel stuffing rose to a fresh all time high of 826K, in effect suggesting that had it not been for the extra 11K parked but "sold" cars, GM sales would really have been up just 2.3% Y/Y, missing estimates, and down 13K from March. Hardly the picture of health the fudged data makes it out to be.
While the topic of HFT-assisted "price discovery" has been beaten to death on these pages, and courtesy of Michael Lewis is now a household, and soon FBI, topic, what is more notable is that in addition to a better than expected jump in March car sales, GM also confirmed that the post-bankurptcy company has never had a greater difficult in liquidating warehoused inventory. As the chart below shows, dealer inventory of GM autos on US lots, aka Channel Stuffing, just rose to a new all time high, of 815,492 units, up from 805,769 last month, and up 15% from the 743.8K units parked at dealer lots a year ago. So 15% increase in unpurchased inventory vs a 4% increase in sales. Someone smarter than us can probably do the math here.