Bullseye Brief presents three thematic, actionable investment ideas every other week. My goal is to help identify only those opportunities most worthy of your time… by analyzing data, distilling complexity and sharing insights from a deep network of experts. I love what I do and invite you to join me.
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Adam Johnson

Adam Johnson anchored several business programs at Bloomberg Television over five years, interviewing CEOs, heads of state, and Nobel laureates. His daily video investment blog, Insight and Action was sponsored by a major U.S. lender. Previously he managed global risk assets for ING Furman Selz and Louis Dreyfus, trading oil futures, listed equities and equity options. Adam began his career at Merrill Lynch with a degree in economics at Princeton.


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We’re All Renters

Manufacturing Goes Ridesharing

  • US companies spent a total of $52B renting heavy equipment in 2018, a new all-time high
  • Rental demand for new and used equipment is forecast to continue growing 5-6% annually through 2021
  • Three companies control nearly one-quarter of the entire US market for rental equipment

My grandfather never had a mortgage. He never made a car payment either. He paid cash for everything, and he certainly never rented. How times have changed. Neary one-third of the cars in this country are leased, and the average term is only 36 months. Apple now finances iPhones with an automatic trade-in option every two years, and Rent-the-Runway ensures you can look fabulous without ever having to wear the same outfit twice. You might be inclined to label this consumerism run amok, where lack of commitment drives needless demand and leads to wasteful spending. You might also call smart allocation of resources, since you pay for only what you want, and you get the very latest every time. It’s good for renters, but it might be even better for companies who own the stuff. They receive income when they rent, ensure their products last longer and claim accelerated depreciation on the purchase. Call it the new ownership paradigm, and a way to bet on the economy. If you think the current expansion will last longer expected, buy shares in the country’s largest lessor of heavy equipment.


February 09, 2019

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Meet Me at the Altar

Media Merger-in-Waiting

  • Viral hits from Netflix and Amazon up pressure on established studios to create compelling digital content
  • Big media courts new media and consolidates well-known “trophy properties” to capture viewership
  • One perennial media takeover candidate again makes headlines as company boards discuss options

Think you know media? Think again. In the past twelve months we’ve seen marriage, divorce and some very creative coupling. AT&T and Time Warner are one. Disney made its move on FOX. Hollywood is courting Amazon, and the total number cable customers calling it quits rises to 33 million, one-tenth of the US population. As 2019 begins, even besties like the New York Times need to try harder. If I don’t get an email directly from editors, or see a story link in my Twitter feed, I won’t go there. Newbies are getting dumped too. BuzzFeed, HuffPo, and Vice have all announced layoffs… it’s tough out there. Maybe this is why two of the best-known media properties in New York are resuming couples’ therapy after last year’s failed courtship. They literally grew up together in the 80s, and they probably ought to be together. Where there’s a will, there’s a way…  and I’m betting on magic. Meet me at the altar?


February 09, 2019

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What If I’m Wrong?

Our Recession Playbook

  • Sentiment-based data has fallen significantly compared to hard economic data is recent weeks
  • Forward earnings guidance suggests a soft patch in Q1 followed by gathering momentum into Q2/Q3
  • The US economy is still expected to expand 2-3% in 2019 despite slowing global growth

People have called me bullish, too bullish, and way too bullish… but so far I’ve been right. Buying stocks in the hole during December was unequivocally the correct decision, and my portfolio has risen accordingly. At some point however, the bears will be right and I will be wrong. No economy expands indefinitely, and no stock market follows a straight line higher. The two operative questions we need to anticipate… What causes the economy to contract? (which presumably causes earnings to decline and stocks to fall)… When will the market start sniffing this out? These are challenging questions to answer, but better to address them now in calmer seas with the wind at our back. Make no mistake, I am still bullish and I see plenty of opportunity to make money being long stocks in 2019… but nothing lasts forever. I’ll sleep better knowing what to look for on the horizon, with a plan in my pocket.


February 09, 2019

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11.1

As in seaborne imports of cars and trucks arriving at US ports decline 11.1% YoY in January.
#TariffsAreReal

24

As in the NY Fed’s probability of recession this year rises to 24%, the highest since 2009 as yield curves continues to flatten.
#ThatsStill3To1Against

27,000,000,000

As in Amazon’s new HQ in NYC is expected to generate $27B in tax revenue for the city through 2045, but local politicians want to scuttle the deal over $3B in near-term tax breaks they call too generous.
#CuttingYourNoseToSpiteYourFace

img-1

“A win on infrastructure will require real investment, not budgetary gimmicks as in years past.”
— American Trucking Association CEO Chris Spears on apparent bipartisan support to repair roads and bridges following the State of the Union.
#LowHangingFruit

“Baring any material negative development on the trade front, we see the March 2019 quarter as marking the bottom of the cycle. ”
–Microchip Technology CEO Steve Sanghi providing another data point in the ongoing debate about whether semiconductors have bottomed.
#I’mLong

“We believe Barbie and Hot Wheels brands will remain the driving forces behind Mattel’s top line.”
–Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Caitlin Noselli as shares surge 30% in one day on strong earnings.
#OldSchool