Synchrony Slips On Walmart Fears, Ag Stocks Ache from Soybean Fall and more…

The market continues to feel like the soccer ball in many of the World Cup final games. A star player kicks the ball to the far end towards your goal; euphoria ensues. The competing team heads the ball, and it volleys back too close to your goal; terror hits.

Unfortunately, there’s no 90 minute regulation time on the stock market when a winner is called. And I don’t expect the market to resolve its trepidation any time soon. While the averages steadily beat higher, the churning underneath remains.

I choose all stock recommendations for Profit Catalyst Alert using a mixture of valuation analysis and catalyst expectations. This combo should help insulate the drops in the stocks, but nervous investors are selling quickly and heartily on any whiff of bad news.

Take the move in Synchrony Financial (NYSE: SYF) last week. It dropped 7% in two days based on a Bloomberg story that Walmart (NYSE: WMT) is considering competing bids for its private label credit card when its current deal with Synchrony expires in 2019. More details on my thoughts on this drop below but I consider the move excessive based on the fact that this possibility is not a new development.

The good news is that these draconian drops provide attractive entry points in sectors that I’ve been watching for a while, but high valuations have dissuaded me. Such is the case with our most recent buy recommendation, Entegris (NSDQ: ENTG).

It is part of the semiconductor equipment group, and even though most of its revenue is not tied to new wafer build outs, sellers hit the stock. I am on the hunt for more names like this; great stocks knocked down by irrational fear.

Around the Portfolio:

AbbVie (NYSE: ABBV) provided an update on a Phase 3 trial using its cancer drug, IMBRUVICA, in new therapies where it does not currently have FDA approval. This particular study was for patients with an aggressive form of lymphoma. While the study did not show better results than current standards of care, it did show improvements in one subgroup, which warrants further research.

Separately, an AbbVie director made his largest insider purchase since January 2013. Glenn F. Tilton, who is the company’s lead independent director, paid $496,270 on June 27 for 5,400 shares, about $91.90 each. He now owns 39,735 shares.

Tariffs on soybeans continue to send agriculture stocks down. China’s soybean tariff went into effect last week, and soybean prices are feeling the pain. Also, the USDA released its monthly harvest inventory report on Friday, which showed soybean inventory levels up 14%.

As a reminder, soybeans are the U.S.’s leading agricultural export and China, our biggest customer. Stocks of agriculture equipment companies, including Agco Corp. (NSDQ: AGCO), Lindsay Corp. (NYSE: LNN) and Titan Machinery (NSDQ: TITN), all stocks with bearish put positions in the portfolio, traded lower.

The Lindsay Corp. put options expire in August and are just slightly profitable for us. I would like to see a more significant profit before selling them but will be watching them carefully as the expiration is relatively close. The Titan puts expire in September, and the Agco puts don’t expire until November, so those positions are not as time sensitive as Lindsay.

BJ’s Wholesale (NYSE: BJ) options started trading on July 12. To date, the volume has been light and the spreads incredibly wide. I’ll be watching and waiting for a good opportunity for a trade idea with the BJ’s options. (NSDQ: DESP) announced that Mike Doyle, the Company’s Chief Financial Officer, has tendered his resignation effective August 31, 2018. Doyle has been the company’s CFO since June 2013. While it is never the best news that a CFO is leaving, Doyle has been based in Seattle before, so the relocation explanation offered by the company makes sense.

It is an excellent sign that he is coming on the Board of Directors immediately following this departure. If any concerns regarding accounting issues existed, he would likely avoid that position.

The stock has been a real dog, but there have not been any updates from the company or in the sector. As I’ve noted before its trading seems correlated to the Argentine peso, which has been stable but not yet improving in the past few weeks. The company will announce earnings on or about August 16th. I expect the stock to rebound if the company makes estimates of $146 million in revenue and $.07. Both estimates look very reasonable to me.

Steven Madden (NSDQ: SHOO) saw a downgraded to Neutral at Wedbush. This downgrade is the best kind, as it is based entirely on valuation and included a hike to the analyst’s price target to $55 from $51.

Synchrony Financial dropped on news that Walmart is considering a bid from Capital One (NYSE: COF) to issue some of its private label credit cards. The move would end Synchrony’s 20-year run as exclusive issuer of Walmart cards.

As recently as mid-June CEO Margaret Keane highlighted Walmart as one of Synchrony’s best partnerships. When asked explicitly about customer renewals, this was her response:

“This is what we do. So I think that gives us a good competitive edge. I think in terms of renewals, what I would say, is we’re renewing all the time. It’s a very fluid process where we always have partners coming to us asking us for different things, and we’ll open up renewal discussion. With the renewals that we’re working on, we have great partnerships, great dialogue going on. And what we’re going to do is, we’re going to do the right thing for the company from a competitive perspective as well as a return perspective, and that’s what we’re always weighing out….And we have a pretty good track record of renewals. We feel good about our history, and that’s how we focus on this”

She’s not really showing her cards here, and it’s no surprise that competitors are eager to move in on a customer the size of Walmart. Although Walmart is a significant customer to Synchrony, it is one of three retailers (Lowe’s and JCPenney being the other two) that account for more than 10% of fees and interest. The timing of an announcement from Walmart is unclear.

Werner (NSDQ: WERN) dropped 5% on a downgraded to Underweight from Neutral at JPMorgan. Analyst Brian Ossenbeck believes consensus estimates look too high for 2019 unless the company can boost rates and productivity while growing its fleet. The analyst prefers U.S. Xpress Enterprises (NYSE: USX) to Werner, which he says offers a 50% discount with similar exposure and higher operating leverage.

I am reviewing estimates more closely but note the company has delivered consistently reliable results and is rumored to be in talks with United Parcel Service (NYSE: UPS) about a home delivery service to outsource delivery of bulky goods like furniture.

Stock Talk


Richard Jacobs

When you decide on an option play for BJ consider including a covered call since I bought the stock. Thanks.

Alex B.



It has been quite some time now since the last updates regarding SND. Are you still seeing pointers for holding this position? I am currently sitting at -67% on this stock. The movement the last weeks has been minimal but still in a downward momentum.

Feedback would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,
Alex B

Linda McDonough

Linda McDonough

Hi Alex,

Thanks for the question. Smart Sand continues to be lethargic. Morgan Stanley downgraded peer U.S. Silica (NSDQ: SLCA) recently due to “constraints in the Permian Basin”. The analyst is referring to a shortage of pipeline capacity to move oil out of that popular and prolific geography.

The problem for anyone supplying sand to the Permian drillers is that without any additional capacity to move oil out of the area, inventory is piling up and despite strong demand for the end product, these wells will have to slow production because there is nowhere to store the oil while they await pipeline capacity.

However, Smart Sand operates its mines in Wisconsin and primarily serves drillers in the Bakken region. The Bakken is near the Canadian border, hundreds of miles from the Permian Basin (Texas) where the bottleneck described above is happening.

As always, the stocks that don’t work demand more of my attention and yet I haven’t found any news specific to Smart Sand and its operating model that explains the weakness in the stock. This doesn’t help ease the pain of the stock being down 64% since my original recommendation but I am loathed to sell it here when the fundamentals appear sound.


Add New Comments

You must be logged in to post to Stock Talk