Has there ever been a more ill-timed example of the curse of the Barron's cover than this?
Apple's shares broke below $100 in pre-market trading as analyst downgrades and further component producer outlook reductions weighed heavily on the "no brainer." It appears increasingly likely that Tim Cook's "rescue" email to Cramer on August was perhaps not the entire truth.. and the market is trading back to levels it first crossed in August 2014 (i.e. unchanged in 16 months). Of course, amid this carnage this morning, AAPL attempted to save the day and issued a quick statement proclaiming January 1st as the biggest App Store spending day in history... for now the stock is not excited about that.
Moments ago, the BB- rated Valeant debt "story" went from bad to worse, when S&P just revised its outlook to negative citing "Risks To Growth" adding that its "negative rating outlook reflects risks to our base case expectation that Valeant can sustainably grow revenue and EBITDA, given the potential reputational, legal, and regulatory risks the company is facing."
If Valeant had hoped today's previously announced 8:00 am conference call, which is supposed to explain its relationship with Philidor and its network of pharmacies in general or, as the company put it, "to lay out the facts including allegations made against our company regarding our relationship with Philidor and R&O, our accounting practices, and channel stuffing that contain numerous errors, unsupported speculation and incorrect interpretations of facts and circumstances", would come and go and the price of VRX stock would promptly surge right back to $200, it was due for a very rude awakening when not one but two pieces came out once again slamming the company's business practices, and leading to even more questions about potential fraud at the increasingly more Tyco-esque roll-up.
With default risk soaring, and Ackman's dreams dissolving, Valeant Pharma is crashing again today (halted three times and down over 28%) following a report by Citron Research that claims to have a "smoking gun" on the company's activities, claiming Valeant is using pharmacies related to Philidor to store inventory and record the transactions as sales.
What may be the worst month in Volkswagen's corporate history is about to get a cherry on top, when the CEO of Volkswagen of America CEO Michael Horn is set undergo the Kangaroo Court treatment, when he testifies before a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee investigating last month's admission the company had installed on-board computer software designed to cheat on government emissions tests in nearly 500,000 of its four-cylinder "clean diesel" cars starting with the 2009 model year.
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.