1,764.50 +6.99 (0.40%)
Pre-Market: 4:06AM EDT
|Bid||1,762.00 x 900|
|Ask||1,766.00 x 800|
|Day's Range||1,749.20 - 1,793.98|
|52 Week Range||1,307.00 - 2,035.80|
|Beta (3Y Monthly)||1.63|
|PE Ratio (TTM)||72.91|
|Earnings Date||Oct 24, 2019|
|Forward Dividend & Yield||N/A (N/A)|
|1y Target Est||2,303.69|
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- On paper, you could scarcely imagine two more different companies than WeWork and Saudi Aramco. The serviced-office startup is a notorious cash sink, while Saudi Arabian Oil Co. is a gusher of dollars. In retrospect, the canceled initial public offering by WeWork’s parent We Co. seems inevitable, given its $17.32 billion in net debt and negative free cash flow of $2.94 billion in the year through June. By contrast, Aramco’s $88.49 billion of free cash flow and $5.55 billion in cash net of debt suggest there’s still plenty to tempt investors.Yet the two abortive share sales have a core attribute in common. In both cases, powerful insider interest groups came to the process with an elevated idea of the valuation they could achieve, and backed away when reality refused to conform to their expectations. Bankers put the Aramco sale on hold last week after it became clear that international investors wouldn’t swallow the $2 trillion market capitalization Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman first laid out almost three-and-a-half years ago, Bloomberg News reported Friday, citing people familiar with the matter. A number closer to $1.5 trillion looked more viable, one of the people said, and even that reduced number was some way above the more realistic figures in the $1 trillion range calculated by my colleague Liam Denning.If writing off the equivalent value of Tesla Inc. was disappointing for WeWork and its key investor SoftBank Group Corp., it’s no surprise that Prince Mohammed is balking at seeing an Amazon.com Inc.-worth of value disappear at the click of a banker’s spreadsheet. Still, letting markets pass the verdict on valuation is what IPOs are meant to be about. If Prince Mohammed ever wants to get this share sale away, he should take their skepticism as a cue for reflection, not rejection.For one thing, valuations just aren’t what they were when the idea of an Aramco IPO was first mooted back in early 2016. On an enterprise-value-to-Ebitda multiple, major listed independent and state-controlled oil companies are running at about a 29% discount to the valuations they were enjoying in April that year, when Prince Mohammed first put a number on Aramco’s market cap. Aramco’s cash and debt holdings are nugatory next to its vast cash flows, so you can translate that into a roughly $600 billion discount off the equity value it might have got at the time. Value Aramco’s $216.6 billion in Ebitda on the median multiple of the major listed national oil companies and you’re looking at a number just shy of $900 billion.The problems are compounded by the way the IPO has been handled. One reason the state oil companies mostly trade at a discount to independent producers is the perception that their corporate governance is caught up in politics. Aramco is hardly immune: Just last month, Khalid Al-Falih was removed from the roles of Aramco chairman and Saudi Arabia’s energy minister in the space of a week. In the first role, he was replaced by Yasir Al-Rumayyan, a SoftBank director and the head of the country’s sovereign wealth fund, which will become Aramco’s largest shareholder once the IPO is completed. In the latter, his place was taken by one of Prince Mohammed’s half-brothers.Neither move suggests the sort of insulation from insider considerations that would convince shareholders to give a generous multiple to Aramco — and in terms of political risk, there’s the whole matter of a cold war with Iran, drone strikes on oil facilities, and Saudi Arabia’s position as the swing producer for the entire oil market to consider, too.Aramco has one giant advantage over WeWork. Thanks to those enormous cash flows, there’s really no reason that it needs an IPO. Without an infusion of investor cash, WeWork may struggle to make it through the next quarter. Aramco could, in theory, keep going in its current fashion for decades.The same can’t be said of the state with which it’s intertwined. The Saudi government needs an oil price of $78 a barrel to balance its budget, according to the International Monetary Fund, a level last seen in 2014. Running a fiscal deficit won’t be the end of the world, but in the long run the country still has a wicked problem. It must find a path to a sustainable economy in a world where its population is rising even as demand for oil must start to fall if the the worst effects of climate change are to be avoided.Aramco, which gives about half of its revenue back to the government in the form of taxes and royalties, is going to find itself on the front line of those challenges over the coming years. No wonder outside investors aren’t rushing to join the party.To contact the author of this story: David Fickling at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Matthew Brooker at email@example.comThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.David Fickling is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering commodities, as well as industrial and consumer companies. He has been a reporter for Bloomberg News, Dow Jones, the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times and the Guardian.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Twitch may just be Amazon’s best-kept secret. Here is how the esports streaming service makes money. Acquired in a 2014 bidding war with Google for $1 billion in cash, the gaming platform, and the social network continues to break its own high scores.
Earnings season is trundling on, and even though we got numbers from companies like JPMorgan Chase, Netflix and UnitedHealth Group last week, this week looks set to be even more exciting.
During the third week of October, Amazon Inc. (AMZN) stock rebound. Compared to week 1 and week 2, the third-week patterns were somewhat different.
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CBS and Viacom had news that Wall Street didn’t like—on page 117 of a 793-page document offering details about the companies’ merger. Management expects the combined company to produce less profit and lower cash flows than Wall Street anticipated.
About 12 per cent of the top 50 US stocks held as overweight positions by hedge funds and traditional mutual funds are owned by both sets of managers, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Savita Subramanian, head of US equity and quantitative strategy at BofA, said strong momentum effects in the US market were one possible explanation.
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Since he took the position of chief executive officer, Leafly has grown by more than 100 employees, moved to a new headquarters in Lower Queen Anne and opened offices in Texas and Washington, D.C.
Analyst Christopher Eberle reiterated a "buy" rating and a price target of $161 on Microsoft stock. He predicts that Azure could grow 61.6% in Q1.
(Bloomberg) -- Mark Hurd, who was chief executive officer of three major technology companies including Oracle Corp., has died. He was 62.Most recently Hurd was co-CEO at Oracle with Safra Catz where he focused on sales, marketing and press and investor relations, while she ran finances and legal matters. Oracle announced on Sept. 11 that Hurd had begun a leave of absence for unspecified health-related reasons and that Catz and Oracle Chairman Larry Ellison would assume his responsibilities during his leave. The company didn’t disclose a cause of death Friday.“It is with a profound sense of sadness and loss that I tell everyone here at Oracle that Mark Hurd passed away early this morning,” Ellison wrote in an online post. “Mark was my close and irreplaceable friend, and trusted colleague. Oracle has lost a brilliant and beloved leader who personally touched the lives of so many of us during his decade at Oracle.”Hurd began his career in 1980 as a salesman for National Cash Register Corp. (now NCR), before rising in the ranks to the CEO post. In 2005, he was hired away as CEO by Hewlett-Packard Co., then the world’s biggest personal-computer maker. Hurd joined Oracle as a co-president in 2010, after resigning from HP following a sexual-harassment probe. While an internal investigation didn’t find a violation of the company’s sexual-harassment policy, it concluded that he violated company standards by filing inaccurate expense reports to conceal a personal relationship with a contractor.During his Oracle tenure, Hurd produced solid revenue and profits as the Redwood City, California-based company’s stock price hit a historic high in 2019. He was also a key driver in Oracle’s turn from an old model of licensing software toward the use of cloud computing, a burgeoning business dominated by rivals Amazon.com Inc. and Microsoft Corp.When he hired Hurd, Ellison said, “There is no executive in the IT world with more relevant experience than Mark.” Ellison described Hurd’s dismissal by HP as the “worst personnel decision since the idiots on the Apple board fired Steve Jobs.”Transformed SalesforceHurd reshaped Oracle’s salesforce. Beginning in 2013, he implemented a “specialist” model that made each member an expert in a single product category. In that year alone, he hired more than 4,000 people to implement his idea.He also created the “Class of” program that was designed to inject a startup feel into Oracle. College graduates were hired for a dedicated program that prepared them to become Oracle’s future sales leaders.In 2014, Hurd and Catz were named co-CEOs, while Ellison continued to serve as chairman of the board, orchestrate management changes and develop products as chief technology officer.Hurd was regarded as the most media-friendly of the trio, frequently serving as the public face of the company to outline its goals. At the time Hurd and Catz were named CEOs, Oracle’s central business was selling software designed to run on gear owned by the customer and charging a license fee. Hurd was among those inside Oracle who saw the company’s future in cloud computing -- which would let customers rent software and run their data on servers owned by vendors such as Oracle. He predicted in 2015 that by 2025 all enterprise data would be stored in the cloud and that 100% of software development and testing would run through it.Today, the company is much less ambitious in its cloud efforts, and has been making smaller promises. In June, Oracle said it would partner with Microsoft, a decades-long rival, to connect the two companies’ cloud services, so customers can use Oracle databases or applications tied to Microsoft’s Azure cloud. While Catz said Microsoft, the world’s largest software maker, wanted an alliance to give clients access to Oracle’s AI-driven databases, the move was a concession—signaling Oracle knew it could no longer go at it alone.It’s now Catz who will have to go it alone, at least for now. Some analysts expect the company will move to appoint a new partner soon. “It’s much more manageable to have two CEOs, so we would be surprised if Oracle goes back to one CEO going forward,” said John Barrett, an analyst at Morningstar Investment Service. “The larger question is how Oracle will go about searching for the co-CEO role and how quickly they can find a successor.”The succession will likely come from within the company’s deep bench. One option is Jeff Henley, Oracle’s vice chairman and former chief financial officer, according to Abby Adlerman, CEO of Boardspan, which provides software and services to address board governance. “I think from a succession planning perspective, they are in a much better place than most companies. They have a lot of options.” Ellison will likely stay close and in the long term, “it’s a matter of if Safra wants to go at it alone. It’s such a big company that there was a reason for the co-CEO role.”Ellison has mentioned Don Johnson, head of Oracle’s cloud infrastructure division, and Steve Miranda, head of Oracle’s applications unit, as possible partners to Catz in the future.Growth StrategyHurd led the charge to make Oracle one of the dominant cloud players, investing heavily in research and development and acquisitions, such as the $9.3 billion purchase of NetSuite Inc., sometimes called the first cloud company, in 2016. Oracle also bought Eloqua Inc., a marketing software company, and Taleo Corp., which makes talent-management.He secured significant deals with AT&T Inc., Bank of America Corp., and Qantas Airlines to transfer their existing databases to the cloud through Oracle. By late 2019, Oracle served more than 420,000 customers in 195 countries and territories, he said.Hurd had gone on a similar acquisition binge at HP, managing about $24 billion in deals, including buying Electronic Data Systems (EDS), as part of a larger plan to diversify the computer maker.He was also a drastic cost cutter who was responsible for firing thousands of workers when he first took over as HP’s CEO and laying off thousands more after the $13.9 billion purchase in 2008 of a struggling EDS, a move many investors disliked.Still, under Hurd’s tenure, HP increased profits for 22 straight quarters, while its revenue rose about 60% and its stock price doubled, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. He also helped HP surpass International Business Machines Corp. as the largest computer maker by sales.There were some dark moments at HP too. In 2006, it was disclosed that Hurd had helped launch an investigation into internal leaks from the company’s board. Outside security consultants conducted surveillance on a journalist and HP board member, and used a subterfuge to acquire phone and fax records for HP employees, board members and journalists. The California attorney general’s office opened a criminal probe into possible privacy violations, and HP’s chairwoman at the time, Patricia Dunn, resigned her post when the scandal broke.For his part, Hurd defended the need to investigate company leakers, but claimed he didn’t know about the investigators’ tawdry tactics because he’d ducked out of a briefing on the investigation and, several months later, ignored a verbal and written summary of the leak probe.After Hurd was ousted following the sexual harassment probe in 2010, HP discontinued making smartphones and its tablet computer. Eventually it split into two companies, one focused on personal computers and printers and the other on software and services.Top CEODespite navigating several scandals, Hurd was lauded by the industry. In 2007, he was named one of Fortune magazine’s 25 most powerful business leaders. In 2008, the San Francisco Chronicle named Hurd CEO of the Year.“Saddened by the loss of Mark Hurd,” wrote Bill McDermott, who stepped down as CEO of SAP SE this month, on Twitter. “He was a self-made success in the industry & presided over mega accomplishments. While we competed vigorously in the market, we enjoyed professional respect. My heartfelt prayers are with Mark’s family on this solemn day.”Mark Vincent Hurd was born on Jan. 1, 1957, in New York and lived on the affluent Upper East Side of Manhattan. His Yale-educated father was a financier who moved the family to Miami while Hurd was in high school. His mother was a debutante.Hurd received a tennis scholarship to Baylor University in Waco, Texas, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1979.He was hired in 1980 as a junior sales person by National Cash Register in San Antonio. He eventually became president, chief operating officer and CEO of the maker of automatic teller machines and cash registers.Based on his NCR record, HP hired him in 2005 as its CEO and added the chairman title the following year.“Mark just blew everybody else out of the water,” said Tom Perkins, a former HP executive who interviewed Hurd for the CEO job.Hurd served on a number of corporate boards and was a Baylor University trustee since 2014.He was married to the former Paula Kalupa in 1990. They had two daughters, Kathryn and Kelly.(Updates with comments from analyst in 12th paragraph)\--With assistance from Nico Grant, Peter Waldman and Candy Cheng.To contact the reporter on this story: Patrick Oster in New York at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Jillian Ward at email@example.com, Andrew Pollack, Molly SchuetzFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Call it risk-off Friday. With huge uncertainty heading into the weekend on fronts from Brexit to the impeachment process to Syria, investors are dumping high-valuation tech shares.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- The New Yorker and the Atlantic have never been known for their business coverage, so when both magazines published long articles about Amazon.com Inc. in their current issues it signaled that something is in the air. That something is antitrust.More precisely, what’s in the air is the question of what the government should do to rein in the tremendous power of the big four tech companies: Facebook Inc., Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Apple Inc. and Amazon.Once the province of think tanks and law reviews, this topic has become such a public concern that 48 of the 50 state attorneys general are conducting antitrust investigations, presidential hopefuls are calling for tech giants to be broken up, and general interest magazines like, well, the New Yorker and the Atlantic are asking whether the companies abuse their market power. In this particular case, the magazines are asking it about Amazon.The Atlantic article is by Franklin Foer, who has long raised concerns about Big Tech. Five years ago, for instance, he wrote a cover story for the New Republic titled “Amazon Must Be Stopped.” It focused on Amazon’s dominance over the book business.This time around, he is writing about the unbridled ambition of Amazon’s founder and chief executive officer Jeff Bezos. (The new article is “Jeff Bezos’s Master Plan.”) “Bezos’s ventures are by now so large and varied that it is difficult to truly comprehend the nature of his empire, much less the end point of his ambitions,” Foer writes. He then goes through a list. Bezos wants to conquer space with his company Blue Origin. Bezos’s ownership of the Washington Post makes him a significant media and political figure. Bezos’s brainchild, Amazon, “is the most awe-inspiring creation in the history of American business.” And so on.He also points out that while critics fear Amazon’s monopoly power, the company is loved by consumers. “A 2018 poll sponsored by Georgetown University and the Knight Foundation found that Amazon engendered greater confidence than virtually any other American institution,” he writes. I have no doubt that this is true; Amazon’s obsession with customer service instills tremendous loyalty among consumers. It’s no accident that over 100 million people now pay the company $119 a year to be Amazon Prime members. That loyalty is also one reason taking antitrust actions against Amazon would be much more difficult than going after Facebook or Google. I’ll get to some other reasons shortly.Charles Duhigg’s New Yorker article “Is Amazon Unstoppable?” is both smarter about Amazon and more pointed about its power. Duhigg captures its relentless culture, comparing it to a flywheel that never stops. He described Bezos’s efforts to ensure that Amazon never loses the feel of a scrappy startup. The phrase that came to mind as I was reading Duhigg’s article was Andy Grove’s famous dictum: “Only the paranoid survive.”Duhigg is also interested in what Amazon’s critics have to say. Amazon paid no federal taxes last year. Amazon's work culture can be difficult for women who have children. Amazon’s warehouse workers are sometimes fired after being injured on the job. Amazon doesn't effectively police the sale of counterfeit goods on its site. (In the article, Amazon’s representatives deny these allegations.)Then there’s the fact that Amazon both serves as a platform for companies wanting to sell things and sells things itself. In other words, it competes with the same companies it enables. According to Duhigg, Amazon has been known to track items that do well, and then make its own version of the same item — which it then sells at a discounted price. (Amazon denies this, too.) Margrethe Vestager, the European Union’s commissioner for competition, told Duhigg that the practice “deserves much more scrutiny.”The story’s killer anecdote, at least as it concerns antitrust, is about Birkenstock USA LP’s experience with Amazon. Although Birkenstock sold millions of dollars of shoes using the Amazon platform, it was constantly hearing customer complaints that the shoes were defective. Why? Because, according to Birkenstock, Amazon allowed counterfeits to be sold on the site. Not only would Amazon not take down the counterfeit goods, but it also wouldn’t even tell Birkenstock who was selling them.Amazon also had stocked a year’s worth of Birkenstock inventory, which terrified the company. “What if Amazon decides to start selling the shoes for 99 cents, or to give them away with Prime membership, or do a buy-one-get-one-free,” wondered Birkenstock’s chief executive officer, David Kahan. “We were powerless.”Kahan’s complaints went nowhere. So he pulled Birkenstocks off Amazon. What did Amazon do? It solicited Birkenstock retailers, offering to buy shoes directly from them. Today, if you search for Birkenstocks on Amazon you’ll be deluged with choices even though the company itself refuses to do business with Amazon. I found a pair of Arizona oiled leather sandals — listed on Birkenstock's website for $135 — marked down to $60 on Amazon. Is it the real thing, or is it a counterfeit?The hard question: What do you do about this kind of behavior? On one extreme is the Democratic presidential candidate Senator Elizabeth Warren, who believes the most appropriate solution is to break up Amazon. At the other end of the spectrum, there are still plenty of antitrust economists who believe that if a $135 sandal is being sold for $60, that’s good for consumers. They argue that the government should just stay out of the way.I’m a proponent of breaking up Facebook, mainly because I believe if you force it to disgorge two of its prized platforms, Instagram and WhatsApp, you’ll instantly create serious competitors. That could help raise the bar on privacy, data usage and other concerns. But I’m not sure that would work with Amazon.For instance, if Amazon had to separate its highly profitable cloud service, Amazon Web Services, from its retail business the power dynamic between Amazon and the companies that use its platform would remain.What’s more, it’s harder to make a classic antitrust case against Amazon than it is against Facebook and Google. According to the research firm EMarketer Inc., Amazon is expected to account for 37.7% of all online commerce in 2019. By contrast, Google controls 89% of the search market.Still, for too many retailers, Amazon has the power to control their destiny, for good or ill. As the antitrust activist Lina Khan wrote in her now-famous 2017 article in the Yale Law Journal: “History suggests that allowing a single actor to set the terms of the marketplace, largely unchecked, can pose serious hazards.” I take that assessment to mean that government intervention at Amazon is needed.To my mind, the simplest and most sensible solution is from the economist Hal Singer: Don’t allow platform companies to favor their own products over competitors’ products. Singer calls this a “nondiscrimination regime,” and models it after the Cable Television Consumer Protection and Competition Act, which prevents cable distributors from favoring their own content over content from competitors. In that scenario, a company that felt it was being discriminated against by Amazon could bring a complaint to federal regulators just as cable stations can do now. This regime has worked well for the TV industry. It could work for Amazon, too.Secondly, the government should hold Amazon accountable for counterfeits. Counterfeiting is against the law, and although Amazon told Duhigg that it spends “hundreds of millions of dollars” on anti-counterfeiting efforts it’s no secret that many deceptively labeled goods are still sold on the site. (See, for instance, this recent Wall Street Journal story.) Companies like Birkenstock have a right to expect that a platform selling its products will rigorously police counterfeits — and will identify counterfeiters so manufacturers of authentic goods can take legal action.These are solvable problems. They don’t require extreme measures. What they do require is a government with the will to transform Amazon’s platform from what it is now, a vehicle that squelches competition, to one that lets competition flower.(Corrects paragraph eight to accurately describe the year in which Amazon paid no federal taxes and to more accurately describe the experiences of women with children who work for the company. Also changes language in paragraph eight to more accurately describe how effectively Amazon combats the sale of counterfeit goods on its site. Also corrects paragraphs 12 and 13 to accurately reflect pricing disparities between sandals sold on Birkenstock's website and those sold on Amazon.)To contact the author of this story: Joe Nocera at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Timothy L. O'Brien at email@example.comThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Joe Nocera is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering business. He has written business columns for Esquire, GQ and the New York Times, and is the former editorial director of Fortune. His latest project is the Bloomberg-Wondery podcast "The Shrink Next Door."For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
A finance professor made a startling discovery about the stock market: Over a 90-year span, 96% of all stocks collectively performed no better than risk-free 1-month Treasury bills. After analyzing the lifetime returns of 25,967 common stocks, Hendrik Bessembinder determined that just 1,092 of those stocks -- or about 4% of the total -- generated all of the $34.8 trillion in wealth created for shareholders by the stock market between July 1926 and December 2016. Even more striking, a mere 50 stocks accounted for well over one-third (39.3%) of that amount.But before we get to our profiles of the 50 best-performing stocks of all time, many of which are (or were) components of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, a word of caution. Accurately identifying the precious few "home run" stocks amid the many thousands of underachieving names is extremely difficult. It might be impossible. Your portfolio is more likely to suffer because you guessed wrong and failed to invest in the top long-term winners, says Bessembinder of Arizona State University's W. P. Carey School of Business.A better alternative to trying to find a needle in a haystack? To paraphrase Jack Bogle, the Vanguard founder and pioneer of index investing: Just buy the haystack. "The results reinforce the importance of diversification," says Bessembinder, "and low-cost index funds are an excellent way to diversify broadly."Take a look at the 50 best stocks since 1926. SEE ALSO: 101 Best Dividend Stocks for 2019 and Beyond
The Walmart (NYSE:WMT) stock price has risen 28% so far in 2019, reaching a new all-time high. But the rally of Walmart stock doesn't yet seem justified by the performance of its business.Source: Ken Wolter / Shutterstock.com Indeed, Walmart's growth this fiscal year, even after it raised its guidance a few months ago, hardly looks impressive. The company expects its annual earnings per share, excluding certain items, to be little changed versus last year's EPS.Losses from India's Flipkart, in which Walmart acquired a majority stake last year, are hurting its bottom line. Excluding those losses, the company's post-Q2 outlook suggests "mid-to high single-digit percentage"growth of its EPS for the full year.InvestorPlace - Stock Market News, Stock Advice & Trading TipsStill, Walmart stock is trading at about 24 times that EPS guidance. That's the stock's highest earnings multiple in at least a decade. And it can be argued that 24 times earnings for 8% or so growth is too expensive. * 7 Reasons to Buy Canopy Growth Stock In fact, I've expressed some skepticism towards the current valuation of Walmart stock. And I still don't feel compelled to buy WMT stock. But the case for buying Walmart stock at $120 is stronger than its headline earnings multiples might suggest. Still, buying WMT stock at its current levels requires trust not only in the company, but in the American economy. WMT Has Become a Better CompanyThe bullish view of WMT stock is that Walmart simply is a much better company than it's been in years. Its grocery business has been re-energized, and clearly has taken market share from the likes of Kroger (NYSE:KR) and Albertsons. Kroger is guiding for same-sales growth excluding fuel this year of 2%-2.25%. Based on Walmart's outlook.its U.S. business should come in closer to 3% growth,Meanwhile, Walmart has moved heavily into e-commerce, both through acquisitions and by expanding its own online business. Walmart's Marketplace is becoming a serious rival to Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN).And WMT seems to have finally cracked the code of the online grocery business, which had been a graveyard for capital going back to the failures of Webvan and Peapod in the beginning of the last decade.It's probably an exaggeration to call Walmart's efforts a turnaround. But it's easy to forget that Walmart's sales stagnated in the first half of this decade and so did the WMT stock price. The stock was dead money for about four years between 2013 and 2017. It's now risen 40% in the last two years, thanks to an accelerating top line and increasing confidence in its ability to grow its earnings going forward. The Story Sounds FamiliarWhat's interesting about Walmart stock at the moment is that its journey sounds similar to that of other U.S. large-cap consumer companies. McDonald's (NYSE:MCD) traded sideways from about 2012 through the end of 2015.Its future seemed at risk amidst the growth of "fast casual" competition and a focus on healthy eating. But CEO Steve Easterbrook, hired in early 2015, rolled out "all day breakfast", refranchised owned restaurants, and MCD stock doubled.Last year, Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG) stock was unchanged versus early 2013. The external pressures on it seemed intense, as private-label products sold at the likes of Walmart and Kroger were hurting PG's results. Neither an aggressive cost-cutting plan nor a move to sell off smaller brands had worked. But P&G finally managed to accelerate its revenue growth to 5%, excluding acquisitions, in fiscal 2019. PG stock, too has soared. It gained a whopping 75% from its 2018 lows before its recent pullback.What we've seen is that if a U.S. large-cap company can convince the market that it is well-positioned, its stock is going to climb. And it's likely to move farther, and often faster, than fundamental analysis might suggest. The WMT Stock Price Is Partially Built on TrustIf that trend holds for Walmart stock, it can rise well above its current level. But that's a big "if" for two reasons.First, in terms of the other large-cap stocks, the obvious worry is that their valuations have gone too far. Like WMT stock, PG, for example, trades at 24 times its earnings, and it's modestly growing. The valuation of many "safe" stocks, including WMT stock, look potentially stretched.Second, Walmart's strategy has to pay off. The long-running worry about WMT stock has been that its e-commerce and omnichannel growth will be good for sales - but won't necessarily boost its profits.The ability of Target (NYSE:TGT) to deliver bottom-line growth after spending billions on its omnichannel business likely eases that fear. Still, an investor buying WMT stock at $120 has to believe that its e-commerce growth will add to its earnings and not just its top line. The Case for Walmart StockThat said, an investor reasonably could see both risks as overdone. As far as valuation goes, it's clear that long-term interest rate expectations have come down. If Walmart can grow its earnings even 6% per year, while the ten-year U.S. government bonds yield less than 2%, investors are going to pay for that growth. 24 times EPS for a company that's growing at 8% sounds high to those of us who have invested for decades. But it may no longer be high.As far as the concerns about its omnichannel business go, the rebuttal is simple: it's working. Walmart is a legitimate rival to Amazon. The latter company is valued at almost $900 billion, and perhaps close to $500 billion excluding its Amazon Web Services business. In that context, is the $337 billion market capitalization of Walmart stock too high? An investor could quite easily argue that it's too low.Still, an investor needs to have a lot of trust in WMT stock to buy its at its highs. She needs to trust the company's strategy and the market. If that trust is justified, there's a path for WMT to follow MCD, PG, and other stocks higher.As of this writing, Vince Martin has no positions in any securities mentioned. More From InvestorPlace * 2 Toxic Pot Stocks You Should Avoid * 7 Reasons to Buy Canopy Growth Stock * 7 Restaurant Stocks to Leave on Your Plate * 4 Turnaround Plays to Buy Now The post At the Highs, Walmart Stock Comes Down to Trust appeared first on InvestorPlace.
One analyst just crowned the company “King of Cloud,” but others are starting to question the stock’s valuation.
Microsoft has a key ally in its fight for business as companies move more software to the cloud: the people who run corporate information-technology departments.
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Facebook's (FB) Watch to receive sports-related digital shows and content from recent partnership with Fox Sports amid the intensifying sports streaming battle.