GM all-electric Chevy Equinox goes on sale as the latest test for EV production and demand

GM’s 2024 Chevrolet Equinox EV during a media launch event for the vehicle on May 16, 2024 in Detroit.

Michael Wayland / CNBC

DETROIT — The Chevrolet Equinox has been a crucial part of General Motors’ lineup for two decades. The vehicle is a quintessential family hauler and a go-to car for people seeking an economical compact crossover for everyday driving.

GM is hoping the 2024 Chevrolet Equinox EV can do the same for its growing all-electric vehicle portfolio as it begins shipping the crossover to dealers amid slower-than-expected demand for EVs. The rollout marks the latest test for mass-market adoption as well as the company’s production of new “Ultium” EV technologies.

“It’s very important to us but, more importantly, it’s very important to customers and people who want affordability and electric vehicles,” GM President Mark Reuss told CNBC last week. “This is about $27,500 [including up to $7,500 in federal incentives] for an over 300-mile range car, which is right in the heart of everything.”

Offering a new EV for around $25,000 has long been a target for automakers such as GM, Tesla and others. The importance of such a vehicle has grown more apparent as Chinese automakers like BYD and Nio grow their sales of less expensive EVs outside of China.

The Equinox EV is launching with higher-priced models that start at roughly $43,000 to $51,100 (without any incentives). The entry-level Equinox LT model, starting at about $35,000, is expected later this year.

“The Equinox EV is the vehicle that’s really going to make a difference for a lot of customers that maybe previously haven’t been interested or looked at EVs,” Kathleen Murawski, marketing and advertising manager for gas-powered and Equinox EVs and Chevy Blazer EVs, told CNBC.

GM sells hundreds of thousands of gas-powered Equinox crossovers annually, including 212,701 last year. The crossover is typically one of GM’s bestselling vehicles and top five in sales for its segment, according to Autopacific.

Testing GM

The Equinox EV is GM’s new entry point for all-electric vehicles in the U.S. after the automaker discontinued the Chevy Bolt last year. It’s expected to be GM’s top-selling EV.

With such lofty sales expectations, it also will test the legacy automaker’s ability to successfully mass produce an Ultium-based EV following pricier vehicles such as the $110,000 GMC Hummer EV, $60,000 Cadillac Lyriq and a botched launch of the Blazer EV, starting at roughly $55,000, due to software issues.

“We’ve got the launch on this vehicle right. We’ve got the quality of this vehicle right. We’ve got the software of this vehicle right. We’re just super excited to see now where it goes,” GM President of Global Markets Rory Harvey told CNBC. “We think we’ve got a product that’s out there to win.”

The Equinox EV is arriving to market following the Blazer EV and alongside GM’s more than $96,000 Silverado EV RST. The company has already launched a work truck version of the Silverado EV.

The production ramp-up of GM’s new EV vehicles — using what the automaker calls its “Ultium” platform, batteries and other technologies — has been slower than the company and investors had expected. The Equinox will change that, according to GM North America President Marissa West.

“We’ve eliminated the production constraints, and now it’s about meeting the customer demand with the most affordable, longest-range vehicle on the market in the heart of our Chevrolet lineup, which is … the heart and soul of General Motors,” West said during an interview Monday.

Paul Waatti, director of industry analysis at AutoPacific, agrees. He called the Equinox a critical product for GM’s EV plans as well as a potential redemption opportunity for the company following its disappointing ramp-up of current Ultium-based products.

“GM is going to start to see real volume in their EV portfolio,” Waatti said. “It was a slow start, but now they’re going to have the big volume players in the mix. It’s really a turning point for GM.”

“[The Equinox is] undoubtedly the most significant Ultium launch for GM yet,” he added. “It might just be the most compelling EV on the market right now.”

Equinox EV

All of that being said, the Equinox EV is an Equinox in name only. It shares little to nothing with the traditional gas-powered vehicle, which the company redesigned to look more rugged for the 2025 model year.

The Equinox EV is wider and lower than the traditional crossover. It’s a result of GM’s Ultium EV platform, aerodynamics and other targeted features for the vehicle, including an up to EPA-estimated 319 miles of range on a single charge.

A standard front-wheel-drive Equinox EV has a 213 horsepower and 236 foot-pounds of torque, according to company estimates. GM says optional all-wheel-drive models have an estimated 288-horsepower and 333 foot-pounds of torque.

Outside of the U.S., the Equinox EV will be sold in Canada, Mexico, the Middle East and some South American markets such as Brazil.

GM’s 2024 Chevrolet Equinox EV (right) next to a gas-powered Chevy Equinox on May 16, 2024 in Detroit.

Michael Wayland / CNBC

Brad Franz, director of Chevy car and crossover marketing, said retaining the familiar names for the EVs was a “strategic decision” to leverage names people know and trust.

“The Chevy proposition here is these can make your life easier. Not only easier, but better,” he said Thursday during a media event. “How are we going to tackle that? We’ll start with just leveraging our brand reputation.”

Keeping the same names also aligns with the company’s target to exclusively offer EVs to consumers by 2035. While the automaker hasn’t shifted that goalpost in light of slower-than-expected sales of EVs, it has recently shifted its messaging to note the transition will be based on customer demand.

GM ranked fourth in U.S. market share of all-electric vehicles during the first quarter, representing 6.1% of new EVs sold, according to data provided by Motor Intelligence. Tesla, at 52.3%, is by far the leader in estimated U.S. EV sales, followed by Hyundai, including Kia, at 9.3% and Ford Motor at 7.5%.

Don’t miss these exclusives from CNBC PRO

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#allelectric #Chevy #Equinox #sale #latest #test #production #demand

Former hedge fund star says this is what will trigger the next bear market.

Much of Wall Street expects easing inflation, but an overshoot could dash hopes of a May rate cut, curtailing the S&P 500’s
SPX
waltz with 5,000, warn some.

Read: Arm’s frenzied stock rally continues as AI chase trumps valuation.

What might take this market down eventually? Our call of the day from former hedge-fund manager Russell Clark points to Japan, an island nation whose central bank is one of the last holdouts of loose monetary policy.

Note, Clark bailed on his perma bear RC Global Fund back in 2021 after wrongly betting against stocks for much of a decade. But he’s got a whole theory on why Japan matters so much.

In his substack post, Clark argues that the real bear-market trigger will come when the Bank of Japan ends quantitative easing. For starters, he argues we’re in a “pro-labor world” where a few things should be playing out: higher wages and lower jobless levels and interest rates higher than expected. Lining up with his expectations, real assets started to surge in late 2023 when the Fed started to go dovish, and the yield curve began to steepen.

From that point, not everything has been matching up so easily. He thought higher short-term rates would siphon off money from speculative assets, but then money flowed into cryptos like Tether and the Nasdaq recovered completely from a 2022 rout.

“I have been toying with the idea that semiconductors are a the new oil – and hence have become a strategic asset. This explains the surge in the Nasdaq and the Nikkei to a degree, but does not really explain tether or bitcoin very well,” he said.

So back to Japan and his not so popular explanation for why financial/speculative assets continue to trade so well.

“The Fed had high interest rates all through the 1990s, and dot-com bubble developed anyway. But during that time, the Bank of Japan only finally raised interest rates in 1999 and then the bubble burst,” he said.

He notes that when Japan began to tighten rates in late 2006, “everything started to unwind,” adding that the BOJ’s brief attempts [to] raise rates in 1996 could be blamed for the Asian Financial Crisis.

In Clark’s view, markets seem to have moved more with the Japan’s bank balance sheet than the Fed’s. The BOJ “invented” quantitative easing in the early 2000s, and the subprime crisis started not long after it removed that liquidity from the market in 2006, he notes.

“For really old investors, loose Japanese monetary policy also explained the bubble economy of the 1980s. BOJ Balance Sheet and S&P 500 have decent correlation in my book,” he said, offering the below chart:


Capital Flows and Asset Markets, Russell Clark.

Clark says that also helps explains why higher bond yields haven’t really hurt assets. “As JGB 10 yields have risen, the BOJ has committed to unlimited purchases to keep it below 1%,” he notes.

The two big takeaways here? “BOJ is the only central bank that matters…and that we need to get bearish the U.S. when the BOJ raises interest rates. Given the moves in bond markets and food inflation, this is a matter of time,” said Clark who says in light of his plans for a new fund, “a bear market would be extremely useful for me.” He’s watching the BOJ closely.

The markets

Pre-data, stock futures
ES00,
-0.41%

NQ00,
-0.80%

are down, while Treasury yields
BX:TMUBMUSD10Y

BX:TMUBMUSD02Y
hold steady. Oil
CL.1,
+0.79%

and gold
GC00,
+0.46%

are both higher. The Nikkei 225 index
JP:NIK
tapped 38,000 for the first time since 1990.

Key asset performance

Last

5d

1m

YTD

1y

S&P 500

5,021.84

1.60%

4.98%

5.28%

21.38%

Nasdaq Composite

15,942.55

2.21%

6.48%

6.20%

34.06%

10 year Treasury

4.181

7.83

11.45

30.03

42.81

Gold

2,038.10

-0.17%

-0.75%

-1.63%

9.33%

Oil

77.14

5.96%

6.02%

8.15%

-2.55%

Data: MarketWatch. Treasury yields change expressed in basis points

The buzz

Due at 8:30 a.m., January headline consumer prices are expected to dip to 2.9% for January, down from 3.4% in December and the lowest since March 2021. Monthly inflation is seen at 0.3%.

Biogen
BIIB,
+1.56%

stock is down on disappointing results and a slow launch for its Alzheimer’s treatment. A miss is also hitting Krispy Kreme
DNUT,
+1.99%
,
Coca-Cola
KO,
+0.24%

is up on a revenue rise, with Hasbro
HAS,
+1.38%
,
Molson Coors
TAP,
+3.12%

and Marriott
MAR,
+0.74%

still to come, followed by Airbnb
ABNB,
+4.20%
,
Akamai
AKAM,
-0.13%

and MGM Resorts
MGM,
+0.60%

after the close. Hasbro stock is plunging on an earnings miss.

JetBlue
JBLU,
+2.19%

is surging after billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn disclosed a near 10% stake and said his firm is discussing possible board representation.

Tripadvisor stock
TRIP,
+3.04%

is up 10% after the travel-services platform said it was considering a possible sale.

In a first, Russia put Estonia’s prime minister on a “wanted” list. Meanwhile, the U.S. Senate approved aid for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan.

Best of the web

Why chocolate lovers will pay more this Valentine’s Day than they have in years

A startup wants to harvest lithium from America’s biggest saltwater lake.

Online gambling transactions hit nearly 15,000 per second during the Super Bowl.

The chart

Deutsche Bank has taken a deep dive into the might of the Magnificent Seven, and why they will continue to matter for investors. One reason? Nearly 40% of the world still doesn’t have internet access as the bank’s chart shows:

Top tickers

These were the top-searched tickers on MarketWatch as of 6 a.m.

Ticker

Security name

TSLA,
-2.81%
Tesla

NVDA,
+0.16%
Nvidia

ARM,
+29.30%
Arm Holdings

PLTR,
+2.75%
Palantir Technologies

NIO,
+2.53%
Nio

AMC,
+4.11%
AMC Entertainment

AAPL,
-0.90%
Apple

AMZN,
-1.21%
Amazon.com

MARA,
+14.19%
Marathon Digital

TSM,
-1.99%
NIO

Random reads

Everyone wants this freak “It bag.”

Dumped over a text? Get your free dumplings.

Messi the dog steals Oscars’ limelight.

Love and millions of flowers stop in Miami.

Need to Know starts early and is updated until the opening bell, but sign up here to get it delivered once to your email box. The emailed version will be sent out at about 7:30 a.m. Eastern.

Check out On Watch by MarketWatch, a weekly podcast about the financial news we’re all watching – and how that’s affecting the economy and your wallet.

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#hedge #fund #star #trigger #bear #market

Why automakers are turning to hybrids in the middle of the industry’s EV transition

2023 Prius Prime on display, April 6, 2023.

Scott Mlyn | CNBC

DETROIT — As sales of all-electric vehicles grow more slowly than expected, major automakers are increasingly meeting their customers in the middle.

More and more companies are reconsidering the viability of hybrid cars and trucks to appease consumer demand and avoid costly penalties related to federal fuel economy and emissions standards.

The shifting strategies run counterintuitively to industrywide EV messaging of recent years. Many auto companies have begun to invest billions of dollars in all-electric vehicles, and the Biden administration has made a push to get more EVs on U.S. roadways as quickly as possible.

But hybrid vehicles — those with traditional internal combustion engines combined with EV battery technologies — could help the automotive industry lower fuel consumption and emissions in the short-term, while easing consumers into vehicle electrification.

Sales of traditional hybrid electric vehicles, or HEVs, such as the Toyota Prius, are outpacing those of all-electric vehicles in 2023, according to Edmunds. HEVs accounted for 8.3% of U.S. car sales, about 1.2 million vehicles sold, through November of this year. That share is up 2.8 percentage points compared with total sales last year.

EVs made up 6.9% of sales heading into December, or roughly 976,560 units, up 1.7 percentage points compared with total sales last year. Sales of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, or PHEVs, accounted for only 1% of U.S. sales through November.

“There’s been so much talk over the past few years about the move toward electrification and sort of forgoing hybrids, but … hybrids are not dead,” said Jessica Caldwell, Edmunds executive director of insights. “There’s a lot of consumers out there that are interested in electrification, maybe not ready to go fully electric.”

Hybrids can also cost less and relieve many concerns typically associated with EVs such as range anxiety and lack of charging infrastructure. The average hybrid this year cost $42,381, according to Edmunds. That’s below the roughly $59,400 average for an EV; $60,700 for a PHEV; and $44,800 for a traditional vehicle.

Morgan Stanley earlier this month said Toyota Motor, Honda Motor and Hyundai Motor, including Kia, account for 9 out of 10 hybrid sales in the U.S. Representatives for those automakers said they are actively attempting to increase production and sales of hybrid vehicles in the U.S.

“While the transition to full battery electric transportation will take time, hybrids and plug-in hybrids will play an equally important role in Kia America’s near and mid-term goals,” Eric Watson, vice president of Kia America sales, said in a statement to CNBC.

And other companies, such as the Detroit automakers, are following suit.

Detroit Three automakers

The Detroit automakers have varying strategies for hybrid vehicles.

Ford Motor offers PHEVs but is leaning into HEVs, announcing plans in September to double sales of the V-6 hybrid model during the 2024 model year to roughly 20% in the U.S. It’s part of Ford CEO Jim Farley’s plans to quadruple the company’s production of gas-electric hybrids.

Ford’s hybrid sales through November of this year are up 23% over the same period in 2022 to more than 121,000 units, or 6.8% of its total sales through that point. In comparison, Ford’s EV sales are up 16.2% to roughly 62,500 units, accounting for 3.5% of its total sales.

Battery breakdown

Both hybrids and plug-in hybrids have a traditional engine combined with EV technologies. A traditional hybrid such as the Toyota Prius has electrified parts, including a small battery, to provide better fuel economy to assist the engine. PHEVs typically have a larger battery to provide for all-electric driving for a certain number of miles until an engine is needed to power the vehicle or electric motors.

Chrysler parent Stellantis, for its part, is leaning on PHEVs for its electrification strategy, before introducing a host of EVs starting next year. The company is the top seller of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles in the U.S., and the vehicles accounted for about 10% of the company’s third-quarter sales, led by Jeep Wrangler and Grand Cherokee SUVs.

But General Motors isn’t ready just yet to alter its EV plans, which include a goal to exclusively offer all-electric vehicles by 2035.

GM led the way for plug-in electric vehicles with the Chevrolet Volt during the 2010s. The company discontinued the vehicle in early 2019, citing demand and cost concerns.

Since then, the automaker has not offered another hybrid vehicle in the U.S. other than the recently launched Chevrolet Corvette E-Ray, a hybrid version of the famed sports car. GM does offer hybrids, including PHEVs, in China.

2024 Chevrolet Corvette E-Ray hybrid sports car

GM

“We still have a plan in place that allows us to be all light-duty vehicles EV by 2035,” GM CEO Mary Barra said Monday during an Automotive Press Association meeting in Detroit. “We’ll adjust based on where the customer is and where demand is. It’s not going to be ‘if we build it they will come.’ We’re going to be led by the customer.”

Her comments come after GM President Mark Reuss told CNBC in August that he was “flexible” regarding hybrids as a way of meeting federal regulations.

“If it means we have to do that by law, then we have to do that by law,” he said. “If there’s regulations that get dealt on us, then we’re going to look at everything in our toolbox to meet them.”

Federal regulations

Major auto companies, including the Detroit automakers, were counting on EVs to assist in offsetting the emissions and low fuel economies of larger SUVs and trucks that can cost them hundreds of millions of dollars in fines by the federal government.

GM and Stellantis were forced to pay a combined $363.8 million in penalties for failing to meet federal fuel-economy standards for cars and trucks they produced in previous years, according to information published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in June.

Such fines would significantly increase under current proposals by the Biden administration to improve fuel efficiency of vehicles and move toward EVs, according to automaker lobbying groups.

The American Automotive Policy Council, a group representing the Detroit Three, earlier this year said the automakers would face more than $14 billion in noncompliance penalties between 2027 and 2032 barring significant changes to their fleets’ overall fuel efficiency. U.S. automakers have separately warned the fines would cost $6.5 billion for GM, $3 billion at Stellantis and $1 billion at Ford, according to Reuters.

NHTSA in July proposed boosting fuel efficiency requirements by 2% per year for passenger cars and 4% per year for pickup trucks and SUVs from 2027 through 2032, resulting in a fleetwide average fuel efficiency of 58 mpg.

With EVs playing a lesser role than anticipated to boost those fleetwide averages, hybrids could save automakers millions.

“Even without electric vehicles, there’s an expectation that electrification of an internal combustion engine is going to be necessary to meet regulations anyway,” said Stephanie Brinley, principal automotive analyst at S&P Global Mobility.

Industry leader

The resurgence of hybrids is especially important for Toyota. The world’s largest automaker is considered the pioneer of traditional hybrids, with the Prius.

The company ironically became a target of environmental groups last year for its strategy to move forward with a mix of hybrids, PHEVs and EVs, which critics viewed as a lack of commitment to an all-electric future.

Toyota’s argument at the time, and still, is that it’s meeting consumer needs and planning for a more gradual global adoption that will naturally include some markets shifting to EVs sooner than others.

The company further says it takes into account the entire environmental impact of producing EVs compared with hybrid electrified vehicles, arguing it can produce eight 40-mile plug-in hybrids for every one 320-mile battery electric vehicle and save up to eight times the carbon emitted into the atmosphere.

“People are finally seeing reality,” Toyota Chairman and former CEO Akio Toyoda, who has been heavily criticized for the slower approach on EVs, said in October regarding EVs, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda speaks during a small media roundtable on Sept. 29, 2022 in Las Vegas.

Toyota

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#automakers #turning #hybrids #middle #industrys #transition

‘The high for equities is not in,’ says technical strategist who unpacks the stocks to buy now.

Siegel argues that bonds, which have been giving stocks the shove, have proven to be a terrible inflation hedge, but investors have forgotten that given it’s 40 years since the last big price shock. “Stocks are excellent long-term hedges, stocks do beautifully against inflation, bonds do not,” he told CNBC on Tuesday.

Don’t miss: ‘Bond math’ shows traders bold enough to bet on Treasurys could reap dazzling returns with little risk

Other stock cheerleaders out there are counting on a fourth-quarter rally, which, according to LPL Financial, delivers on average a 4.2% gain as portfolio managers snap up stock winners to spiff up performances.

Our call of the day from Evercore ISI’s head of technical strategy, Rich Ross, is in the bull camp as he declares the “high for equities is not in,” and suggests some stocks that will set investors up nicely for that.

Ross notes November is the best month for the S&P 500
SPX,
Russell 2000
RUT
and semiconductors
SOX,
while the November to January period has seen a 6% gain on average for the Nasdaq Composite
COMP.
He says if the S&P can break out above 4,430, the next stop will be 4,630 within 2023, putting him at the bullish end of Wall Street forecasts.

In addition, even with 10-year Treasury yields back at their highs, the S&P 500 is still ahead this week and that’s a “great start” to any rally, he adds.

Evercore/Bloomberg

What else? He says “panic bottoms” seen in bond proxies, such as utilities via the Utilities Select Sector SPD exchange-traded fund ETF
XLU,
real-estate investment trusts and staples, are “consistent with a bottom in bond prices,” which is closer than it appears if those proxies have indeed bottomed.


Evercore/Bloomberg

Among the other green shoots, Ross sees banks bottoming following Bank of America
BAC,
+1.14%

earnings “just as they did in March of ’20 after a similar 52% decline which culminated in a year-end rally which commenced in Q4.”

He sees expanding breadth for stocks — more stocks rising than falling — adding that that’s a buy signal for the Russell 2000, retail via the SPDR S&P Retail ETF
XRT
and regional banks via the SPDR S&P Regional Banking
KRE.

The technical strategist also says it’s time to buy transports
DJT,
with airlines “at bear market lows and deeply oversold,” while railroads are also bottoming and truckers continue to rise.

As for tech, he’s a buyer of semiconductors noting they tend to gain 7% on average in November, and Nvidia
NVDA,
-2.88%

has been under pressure as of late. He also likes software such as Microsoft
MSFT,
+0.82%
,
Zscaler
ZS,
+0.66%
,
MongoDB
MDB,
+0.90%
,
Intuit
INTU,
-1.43%
,
Oracle
ORCL,
-0.05%
,
Adobe
ADBE,
+0.93%
,
CrowdStrike
CRWD,
+0.55%

and Palo Alto Networks
PANW,
+1.38%
.


Evercore/Bloomberg

“The strong tech will stay strong and the weak will get strong,” says Ross.

The markets

Stocks
SPX

COMP
are dropping, with bond yields
BX:TMUBMUSD10Y

BX:TMUBMUSD02Y
mixed. Oil prices
CL.1,
+1.82%

BRN00,
+1.69%

have pared a stronger rally after a deadly hospital explosion in Gaza City, with Iran reportedly calling for an oil embargo against Israel. Gold
GC00,
+1.84%

has shot up $35.

For more market updates plus actionable trade ideas for stocks, options and crypto, subscribe to MarketDiem by Investor’s Business Daily.

The buzz

Morgan Stanley
MS,
-6.02%

posted a 10% earnings fall, but beat forecasts, with shares down. Abbott Labs
ABT,
+3.12%

is up after upbeat results and aguidance hike and Procter & Gamble
PG,
+2.91%

is up after an earnings beat. Tesla
TSLA,
-0.89%

(preview here) and Netflix
NFLX,
-1.20%

(preview here) will report after the close.

Read: Ford CEO says Tesla, rival automakers loving the strike. He may be wrong

United Airlines shares
UAL,
-7.83%

are down 5% after the airline lowered guidance due to the Israel/Gaza war. Spirit AeroSystems
SPR,
+22.60%

surged 75% after the aircraft components maker announced a production support deal with Boeing
BA,
+0.88%
.

Housing starts came short of expectations, with the Fed’s Beige Book of economic conditions coming at 2 p.m. Also, Fed Gov. Chris Waller will speak at noon, followed by New York Fed Pres. John Williams at 12:30 p.m. and Fed Gov. Lisa Cook at 6:55 p.m.

China’s third-quarter GDP rose 4.9%, slowing from 6.3% in the previous quarter, but beating expectations.

Middle East tensions are ratcheting up with protests spreading across the region after a massive deadly blast at a Gaza City hospital, and airports evacuated across France over terror threats. President Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that “it appears as though it was done by the other team.”

Read: Treasury says Hamas leaders ‘live in luxury’ as it unveils new sanctions

Best of the web

Bridgewater says the market has entered the second stage of tightening

Why the FDA needs to halt Cassava Sciences’ Alzheimer’s clinical trials

Hail, heat, rot in Italy push France to top global winemaking spot

Attacks across Europe put Islamist extremism back in spotlight

The tickers

These were the top-searched tickers on MarketWatch as of 6 a.m.:

Ticker

Security name

TSLA,
-0.89%
Tesla

AMC,
-0.73%
AMC Entertainment

AAPL,
-0.39%
Apple

GME,
-1.20%
GameStop

NIO,
-2.99%
Nio

AMZN,
-1.10%
Amazon

PLTR,
-0.59%
Palantir

MULN,
-0.06%
Mullen Automotive

TPST,
-11.20%
Tempest Therapeutics

TTOO,
-8.20%
T2 Biosystems

Random reads

Loudest purr in the world. Congrats Bella the cat.

Asteroid sample offers window to ancient solar system

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Source link

#high #equities #technical #strategist #unpacks #stocks #buy

3 Key Relationships to Help Assess Market Direction

If you are finding yourself fluctuating between bullishness and bearishness, then congratulations! Hopefully, that also means you are waiting for certain signals to help you commit to one way or another.

Here are the signals we are waiting for before overly committing to a bias:

  1. As we wrote over the weekend, how the junk bonds (high yield high debt bonds) do independently, and how they perform against the long bonds (TLT).
  2. How the retail and transportation sectors do (along with small caps) as they represent the “inside” of the US economy.
  3. How DBA (ags) and DBC (commodity index) do relative to the strong dollar and higher yields.

The first chart shows you a sell signal mean reversion as far as the ratio between long bonds and junk bonds signaled. However, junk still outperforms long bonds — at this point, that says risk on, but a cautious risk on, with junk gapping lower and taking out summer lows (but holding March lows at 72.61).

Retail (XRT) had a solid reversal bottom last week. Now, it must clear last Friday’s highs and hold June lows… plus, XRT outperforms SPY right now.

Transportation (IYT) is now underperforming SPY. Although consolidating after breaking under the 200-DMA (green), it looks vulnerable. Could that change? A move over 235 would be a good start.

Looking at DBA, that whole commodities sector is outperforming the SPY. Makes you wonder what would happen if the dollar and/or yields soften.

Trading slightly below the July 6-month calendar range high, we anticipate DBA can continue higher, especially if price retakes the 50-DMA (blue line). DBC fell right onto support at its 50-DMA. Momentum also fell into support. Furthermore, DBA also outperforms SPY. This certainly makes the case for higher commodities and inflation as a trend again, especially if long bonds and the dollar soften.


This is for educational purposes only. Trading comes with risk.

For more detailed trading information about our blended models, tools and trader education courses, contact Rob Quinn, our Chief Strategy Consultant, to learn more.

If you find it difficult to execute the MarketGauge strategies or would like to explore how we can do it for you, please email Ben Scheibe at [email protected].

“I grew my money tree and so can you!” – Mish Schneider

Get your copy of Plant Your Money Tree: A Guide to Growing Your Wealth and a special bonus here.

Follow Mish on Twitter @marketminute for stock picks and more. Follow Mish on Instagram (mishschneider) for daily morning videos. To see updated media clips, click here.


Watch Mish and Nicole Petallides discuss how pros and cons working in tandem, plus why commodities are still a thing, in this video from Schwab.

Mish talks TSLA in this video from Business First AM.

See Mish argue investors could jump into mega-tech over value and explain why she is keeping an eye on WTI prices on BNN Bloomberg’s Opening Bell.

Even as markets crumble, there are yet market opportunities to be found, as Mish discusses on Business First AM here.

Mish explains how she’s preparing for the next move in Equities and Commodities in this video with Benzinga’s team.

Mish talks about the head-and-shoulders top pattern for the S&P 500 in The Final Bar.

Mish covers sectors from the Economic Family, oil, and risk in this Yahoo! Finance video.

Mish shares why the most important ETFs to watch are Retailers (XRT) and Small Caps (IWM) in this appearance on the Thursday, September 20 edition of StockCharts TV’s The Final Bar with David Keller, and also explains MarketGauge’s latest plugin on the StockCharts ACP platform. Mish’s interview begins at 19:53.

Mish covers 7 stocks that are ripe for the picking on the Wednesday, September 20 edition of StockCharts TV’s Your Daily Five, and she gives you actionable levels to watch.

Take a look at this analysis of StockCharts.com’s Charting Forward from Jayanthi Gopalkrishnan, which breaks down Mish’s conversation with three other charting experts about the state of the market in Q3 and beyond.

Mish was interviewed by Kitco News for the article “Oil Prices Hit Nearly One-Year High as it Marches Towards $100”, available to read here.

Mish covers short term trading in DAX, OIL, NASDAQ, GOLD, and GAS in this second part of her appearance on CMC Markets.

Mish talks Coinbase in this video from Business First AM!

Mish looks at some sectors from the economic family, oil, and risk in this appearance on Yahoo Finance!

Mish covers oil, gold, gas and the dollar in this CMC Markets video.

In this appearance on Business First AM, Mish explains why she’s recommending TEVA, an Israeli pharmaceutical company outperforming the market-action plan.

As the stock market tries to shake off a slow summer, Mish joins Investing with IBD to explain how she avoids analysis paralysis using the six market phases and the economic modern family. This edition of the podcast takes a look at the warnings, the pockets of strength, and how to see the bigger picture.

Mish was the special guest in this edition of Traders Edge, hosted by Jim Iuorio and Bobby Iaccino!

In this Q3 edition of StockCharts TV’s Charting Forward 2023, Mish joins a panel run by David Keller and featuring Julius de Kempenaer (RRG Research & StockCharts.com) and Tom Bowley (EarningsBeats). In this unstructured conversation, the group shares notes and charts to highlight what they see as important considerations in today’s market environment.


Coming Up:

October 4: Jim Puplava, Financial Sense

October 5: Yahoo! Finance & Making Money with Charles Payne, Fox Business

October 12: Dale Pinkert, F.A.C.E.

October 26: Schwab and Yahoo! Finance at the NYSE

October 27: Live in-studio with Charles Payne, Fox Business

October 29-31: The Money Show

Weekly: Business First AM, CMC Markets


  • S&P 500 (SPY): There are multiple timeframe support levels around 420-415.
  • Russell 2000 (IWM): 170 huge.
  • Dow (DIA): 334 pivotal.
  • Nasdaq (QQQ): 330 possible if can’t get back above 365.
  • Regional Banks (KRE): 39.80 the July calendar range low.
  • Semiconductors (SMH): 133 the 200-DMA with 147 pivotal resistance.
  • Transportation (IYT): 237 resistance, 225 support.
  • Biotechnology (IBB): 120-125 range.
  • Retail (XRT): 57 key support; if can climb over 63, get bullish.

Mish Schneider

MarketGauge.com

Director of Trading Research and Education

Mish Schneider

About the author:
Mish Schneider serves as Director of Trading Education at MarketGauge.com. For nearly 20 years, MarketGauge.com has provided financial information and education to thousands of individuals, as well as to large financial institutions and publications such as Barron’s, Fidelity, ILX Systems, Thomson Reuters and Bank of America. In 2017, MarketWatch, owned by Dow Jones, named Mish one of the top 50 financial people to follow on Twitter. In 2018, Mish was the winner of the Top Stock Pick of the year for RealVision.

Learn More

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UAW strike brings blue-collar vs. billionaire battle to Detroit

DETROIT — The United Auto Workers strike is bringing a blue-collar versus billionaire battle to the Motor City, just as UAW President Shawn Fain wanted.

The outspoken union leader has weaponized striking — historically a last resort for the union — after less than 24 hours into a work stoppage arguably better than any UAW president has in modern times.

It wasn’t by accident.

Fain, a quirky yet emboldened leader, has meticulously brought the UAW back into the national spotlight after decades of near irrelevance. He wants to represent not just union members but also America’s embattled middle class, which UAW helped create.

United Auto Workers union President Shawn Fain joins UAW members who are on a strike, on the picket line at the Ford Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Michigan, September 15, 2023.

Rebecca Cook | Reuters

To do so, he has leveraged a yearslong national labor movement and a growing disgust for wealthy individuals and corporations among many Americans — starting with his first time addressing the union’s more than 400,000 members during his inauguration speech in March.

“We’re here to come together to ready ourselves for the war against our only one and only true enemy, multibillion-dollar corporations and employers who refuse to give our members their fair share,” Fain said at the time. “It’s a new day in the UAW.”

Fain’s comments Friday morning as he joined UAW members and supporters picketing outside a Ford plant in Michigan — one of three facilities the company is currently striking — echoed everything he said during that first speech.

“We got to do what we got to do to get our share of economic and social justice in this strike,” Fain said outside the Ford Bronco SUV and Ranger pickup plant. “We’re going to be out here until we get our share of economic justice. And it doesn’t matter how long it takes.”

Fain’s upbringing plays into his strong unionism and religious beliefs, which he has growingly talked about with members as he emphasizes “faith” in the UAW’s cause. Two of his grandparents were UAW GM retirees, and one grandfather started at Chrysler in 1937, the year the workers joined the union. Fain, who joined the UAW in 1994, even keeps one of his grandfather’s pay stubs in his wallet as “a reminder” of where he came from. 

National media and others really started paying attention to Fain when he said the union would withhold a reelection endorsement of President Joe Biden, who has called himself the “most pro-union president in history.” Fain and Biden have spoken and met, but the union leader has not shown much support for the president. In response to comments by the president Friday, Fain said: “Working people are not afraid. You know who’s afraid? The corporate media is afraid. The White House is afraid. The companies are afraid.”

While many past union leaders have talked such talk, Fain has thus far delivered on his promises to members without batting an eye — causing General Motors, Ford Motor and Stellantis to go into crisis mode this week as the UAW follows through on that promise to members.

“We’ve never seen anything like this; it’s frustrating,” Ford CEO Jim Farley told CNBC’s Phil LeBeau Thursday as he criticized Fain and the union for what he said was a lack of communication and counteroffers. “I don’t know what Shawn Fain is doing, but he’s not negotiating this contract with us, as it expires.”

In a statement Friday, Ford said that the UAW’s partial strike at its Michigan Assembly Plant has forced it to lay off about 600 workers.

“This is not a lockout,” Ford said. “This layoff is a consequence of the strike at Michigan Assembly Plant’s final assembly and paint departments, because the components built by these 600 employees use materials that must be e-coated for protection. E-coating is completed in the paint department, which is on strike.”

GM CEO Mary Barra echoed Farley’s feelings Friday morning on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”

“I’m extremely frustrated and disappointed,” she said. “We don’t need to be on strike right now.”

Both CEOs said everything they could to indicate they believe Fain may not be bargaining in good faith without using those exact words, which could justify a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board.

The UAW in late August filed unfair labor practice charges against GM and Stellantis with the NLRB, alleging they did not bargain with the union in good faith or a timely manner. It did not file a complaint against Ford. GM and Stellantis have denied those allegations.

Ford CEO Jim Farley: No way we would be sustainable as a company with UAW's wage proposal

Several past union leaders and company bargainers who spoke to CNBC hailed the way Fain has been able to propel the UAW into the national spotlight, including pausing bargaining for a Friday rally and march with Sen. Bernie Sanders, the progressive lawmaker from Vermont. Sanders, whose surprise 2016 Democratic presidential primary win in Michigan helped cement his national prominence, has lent support to numerous labor movements around the country as he rails against the billionaire class.

“I think they’re just doing an outstanding job,” said respected former UAW President Bob King, who cited growing support for the union among the public and the union’s own members. “Both those measurements say that UAW communications has been outstanding.”

UAW members have taken notice — especially after many of them disdained union leadership during and after a yearslong federal corruption investigation that landed two past UAW presidents and more than a dozen others in prison.

“For all the years that I’ve worked here, it’s never been this strong,” said Anthony Dobbins, a 27-year autoworker, early Friday morning while picketing the Ford plant in Michigan. “This is going to make history right here because we are trying to get what we deserve.”

Dobbins, a UAW Local 600 union representative, balked at current record offers by the automakers that have included roughly 20% pay increases, thousands of dollars in bonuses, retention of the union’s platinum health care and other sweetened benefits.

“That’s not working for us. Give us what we asked for,” Dobbins said. “That’s what we want. We have to work seven days, overtime, just to make ends meet.”

United Auto Workers President Shawn Fain, center, poses with Anthony Dobbins, right, a 27-year autoworker, and others as the union pickets a Ford plant in Wayne, Michigan, Sept. 15, 2023.

Michael Wayland / CNBC

Key demands from the union have included 40% hourly pay increases; a reduced, 32-hour, workweek; a shift back to traditional pensions; the elimination of compensation tiers; and a restoration of cost-of-living adjustments. Other items on the table include enhanced retiree benefits and better vacation and family leave benefits.

Automakers have argued such demands would cripple the companies. Farley even said the company would have “gone bankrupt by now” under the union’s current proposals and members would not have benefited from $75,000 in average profit-sharing over the last decade.

Ford sources said the automaker would have lost $14.4 billion over the last four years if the current demands had been in effect, instead of recording nearly $30 billion in profits.

Such profits are exactly what Fain has said UAW members deserve to share in. But his strategy to get workers a larger piece of the pie carries great risks.

“This is not going to be positive from an industry perspective or for GM,” Barra said Friday.

Many outside the union believe if Fain pushes too hard, it could lead to long-term job losses for the union. A former high-ranking bargainer for one of the automakers told CNBC that it’s nearly guaranteed the companies cut union jobs through product allocation, plant closures or other means to offset increased labor costs.

“They’re going to have to pay up. The question is how much,” said the longtime bargainer, who agreed to speak on the condition of anonymity. “This ends up with fewer jobs. That’s how the automakers cut costs.”

Fain and other union leaders have argued that meeting the companies in the middle has led to dozens of plant closures, fewer union members and a growing divide between blue-collar workers and the wealthy.

So why not fight?

“This is about us doing what we got to do to take care of the working class,” Fain said Friday. “This isn’t just about the UAW. This is about working people everywhere in this country. No matter what you do for a living, you deserve your fair share of equity.”

GM CEO Mary Barra on UAW strike: We put a historic offer on the table

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Meta, Alphabet and 10 under-the-radar media stocks expected to soar

The media landscape is going through a difficult transition, and it isn’t only because streaming is such a tricky business.

Companies such as Walt Disney Co.
DIS,
Warner Bros. Discovery Inc.
WBD
and Paramount Global
PARA
have made heavy investments in streaming services as their traditional media businesses wither, only to find that it is harder than it looks to emulate Netflix Inc.’s
NFLX
ability to make money from streaming.

Some of the companies are also saddled by debt, in part resulting from mergers that don’t hold the same shine in the current media landscape.

Needless to say, this is the age of cost-cutting for Netflix’s streaming competitors and many others in the broader media landscape.

Below is a screen of U.S. media stocks, showing the ones that analysts favor the most over the next 12 months. But before that, we list the ones with the highest and lowest debt levels.

All the above-mentioned media companies are in the communications sector of the S&P 500
,
which also includes Alphabet Inc.
GOOGL

GOOG
and Meta Platforms Inc.
META,
as well as broadcasters, videogame developers and news providers.

But there are only 20 companies in the S&P 500 communications sector, which is tracked by the Communications Services Select Sector SPDR ETF
.

High debt

Before looking at the stock screen, you might be interested to see which of the 53 media companies are saddled with the highest levels of total debt relative to consensus estimates for earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) for the next 12 months, among analysts polled by FactSet. This may be especially important at a time when long-term interest rates have been rising quickly. Dollar amounts are in millions.

Company

Ticker

Debt/ est. EBIT

Total debt

Est. EBIT

Debt service ratio

Total return – 2023

Market cap. ($mil)

Dish Network Corp. Class A

DISH 1,245%

$24,556

$1,973

15%

-57%

$1,773

Madison Square Garden Sports Corp. Class A

MSGS 1,125%

$1,121

$100

-14%

-4%

$3,400

Paramount Global Class B

PARA 656%

$17,401

$2,654

-29%

-13%

$9,529

Consolidated Communications Holdings Inc.

CNSL 651%

$2,152

$331

-26%

6%

$441

TechTarget Inc.

TTGT 629%

$479

$76

16%

-36%

$788

Cinemark Holdings Inc.

CNK 616%

$3,630

$589

61%

81%

$1,908

Cogent Communications Holdings Inc.

CCOI 548%

$1,858

$339

-19%

27%

$3,388

E.W. Scripps Co. Class A

SSP 529%

$3,084

$583

80%

-42%

$552

AMC Networks Inc. Class A

AMCX 492%

$2,945

$599

26%

-29%

$357

Live Nation Entertainment Inc.

LYV 466%

$8,413

$1,805

135%

22%

$19,515

Source: FactSet

Click on the tickers for more about each company, including business profiles, financials and estimates.

Click here for Tomi Kilgore’s detailed guide to the wealth of information available for free on the MarketWatch quote page.

The debt figures are as of the end of the companies’ most recently reported fiscal quarters. The debt service ratios are EBIT divided by total interest paid (excluding capitalized interest) for the most recently reported quarters, as calculated by FactSet. It is best to see this number above 100%. Then again, these service ratios cover only one quarter.

Looking at the most indebted company by quarter-end debt to its 12-month EBIT estimate, it would take more than 10 years of Dish Network Corp.’s
DISH
operating income to pay off its total debt, excluding interest.

Shares of Dish have lost more than half their value during 2023, and the stock got booted from the S&P 500 earlier this year. The company has seen its satellite-TV business erode while it pursues a costly wireless build-out that won’t necessarily drive success in that competitive market. Dish plans to merge with satellite-communications company EchoStar Corp.
SATS
in a move seen as an attempt to improve balance sheet flexibility.

It is fascinating to see that for six of these companies, including Paramount, debt even exceeds the market capitalizations for their stocks. Paramount lowered its dividend by nearly 80% earlier this year as it continued its push toward streaming profitability, and Chief Executive Bob Bakish recently called the company’s planned sale of Simon & Schuster “an important step in our delevering plan.”

You are probably curious about debt levels for the largest U.S. media companies. Here they are for the biggest 10 by market cap:

Company

Ticker

Debt/ est. EBIT

Total debt

Est. EBIT

Debt service ratio

Total return – 2023

Market cap. ($mil)

Alphabet Inc. Class A

GOOGL 22%

$29,432

$133,096

711%

47%

$1,528,711

Meta Platforms Inc. Class A

META 47%

$36,965

$78,129

717%

137%

$634,547

Comcast Corp. Class A

CMCSA 266%

$102,669

$38,539

77%

33%

$187,140

Netflix Inc.

NFLX 197%

$16,994

$8,641

192%

41%

$184,362

T-Mobile US Inc.

TMUS 378%

$116,548

$30,838

32%

-5%

$156,881

Walt Disney Co.

DIS 263%

$47,189

$17,975

88%

-4%

$152,324

Verizon Communications Inc.

VZ 370%

$177,654

$48,031

36%

-11%

$140,205

AT&T Inc.

T 378%

$165,106

$43,681

31%

-20%

$100,872

Activision Blizzard Inc.

ATVI 93%

$3,612

$3,891

2159%

21%

$72,118

Charter Communications Inc. Class A

CHTR 434%

$98,263

$22,651

89%

23%

$62,380

Source: FactSet

Among the largest 10 companies in the S&P Composite 1500 communications sector by market cap, Charter Communications Inc.
CHTR
has the highest ratio of debt to estimated EBIT, while its debt service ratio of 89% shows it was close to covering its interest payments with operating income during its most recent reported quarter. Disney also came close, with a debt service ratio of 88%.

Charter Chief Financial Officer Jessica Fischer said at an investor day late last year that “delevering would only make sense if the market valuation of our shares fully reflected the intrinsic value of the cash-flow opportunity, if debt capacity in the market were limited or if our expectations of cash-flow growth, excluding the impact of our expansion were significantly impaired.”

Meanwhile, Kevin Lansberry, Disney’s interim CFO, said during the company’s latest earnings call that it had “made significant progress deleveraging coming out of the pandemic” and that it would “approach capital allocation in a disciplined and balanced manner.”

Disney’s debt increased when it bought 21st Century Fox assets in 2019, and the company suspended its dividend in 2020 in a bid to preserve cash during the pandemic.

When Disney announced its quarterly results on Aug. 9, it unveiled a plan to raise streaming prices in October. Several analysts reacted positively to the price increase and other operational moves.

Read: The long-simmering rumor of Apple buying Disney is resurfacing as Bob Iger looks to sell assets

The largest companies in the sector, Alphabet and Meta, have relatively low debt-to-estimated EBIT and very high debt-service ratios. Netflix has debt of nearly twice the estimated EBIT, but a high debt-service ratio. For all three companies, debt levels are low relative to market cap.

Low debt

Among the 52 companies in the S&P Composite 1500 communications sector, these 10 companies had the lowest total debt, relative to estimated EBIT, as of their most recent reported fiscal quarter-ends:

Company

Ticker

Debt/ est. EBIT

Total debt

Est. EBIT

Debt service ratio

Total return – 2023

Market cap. ($mil)

New York Times Co. Class A

NYT 0%

$0

$414

N/A

32%

$6,968

QuinStreet Inc.

QNST 18%

$5

$26

-153%

-35%

$513

Alphabet Inc. Class A

GOOGL 22%

$29,432

$133,096

711%

47%

$1,528,711

Shutterstock Inc.

SSTK 26%

$63

$241

39%

-20%

$1,502

Yelp Inc.

YELP 31%

$106

$344

78%

55%

$2,909

Meta Platforms Inc. Class A

META 47%

$36,965

$78,129

717%

137%

$634,547

Scholastic Corp.

SCHL 54%

$108

$201

319%

12%

$1,314

Electronic Arts Inc.

EA 73%

$1,951

$2,678

605%

-2%

$32,425

World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. Class A

WWE 93%

$415

$448

479%

66%

$9,455

Activision Blizzard Inc.

ATVI 93%

$3,612

$3,891

2159%

21%

$72,118

Source: FactSet

New York Times Co.
NYT
takes the prize, with no debt.

Wall Street’s favorite media companies

Starting again with the 52 companies in the sector, 46 are covered by at least five analysts polled by FactSet. Among these companies, 12 are rated “buy” or the equivalent by at least 70% of the analysts:

Company

Ticker

Share “buy” ratings

Aug. 25 price

Consensus price target

Implied 12-month upside potential

Thryv Holdings Inc.

THRY 100%

$21.11

$35.50

68%

T-Mobile US Inc.

TMUS 90%

$133.35

$174.96

31%

Nexstar Media Group Inc.

NXST 90%

$157.08

$212.56

35%

Meta Platforms Inc. Class A

META 88%

$285.50

$375.27

31%

Cars.com Inc.

CARS 86%

$18.85

$23.79

26%

Alphabet Inc. Class A

GOOGL 82%

$129.88

$150.04

16%

Iridium Communications Inc.

IRDM 80%

$47.80

$66.00

38%

News Corp. Class A

NWSA 78%

$20.74

$26.42

27%

Take-Two Interactive Software Inc.

TTWO 74%

$141.42

$155.96

10%

Live Nation Entertainment Inc.

LYV 74%

$84.79

$109.94

30%

Frontier Communications Parent Inc.

FYBR 73%

$15.24

$31.36

106%

Match Group Inc.

MTCH 70%

$43.79

$56.90

30%

Source: FactSet

News Corp.
NWSA
is the parent company of MarketWatch.

Finally, here are the debt figures for these 12 media companies favored by the analysts:

Company

Ticker

Debt/ est. EBIT

Total debt

Est. EBIT

Debt service ratio

Total return – 2023

Market cap. ($mil)

Thryv Holdings Inc.

THRY 227%

$433

$191

53%

11%

$730

T-Mobile US Inc.

TMUS 378%

$116,548

$30,838

32%

-5%

$156,881

Nexstar Media Group Inc.

NXST 358%

$7,183

$2,009

63%

-8%

$5,511

Meta Platforms Inc. Class A

META 47%

$36,965

$78,129

717%

137%

$634,547

Cars.com Inc.

CARS 223%

$451

$202

41%

37%

$1,253

Alphabet Inc. Class A

GOOGL 22%

$29,432

$133,096

711%

47%

$1,528,711

Iridium Communications Inc.

IRDM 306%

$1,481

$483

54%

-7%

$5,977

News Corp. Class A

NWSA 261%

$4,207

$1,611

109%

15%

$11,940

Take-Two Interactive Software Inc.

TTWO 272%

$3,492

$1,283

-40%

36%

$24,017

Live Nation Entertainment Inc.

LYV 466%

$8,413

$1,805

135%

22%

$19,515

Frontier Communications Parent Inc.

FYBR 453%

$9,844

$2,173

85%

-40%

$3,745

Match Group Inc.

MTCH 287%

$3,839

$1,337

540%

6%

$12,177

Source: FactSet

In case you are wondering about how the analysts feel about debt-free New York Times, it appears the analysts believe the shares are fairly priced at $42.60. Among eight analysts polled by FactSet, three rated NYT a buy, while the rest had neutral ratings. The consensus price target was $43.93. The stock trades at a forward price-to-earnings ratio of 27.7, which is high when compared with the forward P/E of 21.7 for the S&P 500
.

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#Meta #Alphabet #undertheradar #media #stocks #expected #soar

Why auto worker strikes against GM, Ford and Stellantis seem inevitable

Members of the United Auto Workers union hold a rally and practice picket near a Stellantis plant in Detroit, Aug. 23, 2023.

Michael Wayland / CNBC

DETROIT – United Auto Workers President Shawn Fain appears ready to fire up the picket lines.

The union’s bulldog new leader has repeatedly vowed to drive a hard bargain with Detroit automakers General Motors, Ford Motor and Stellantis in contract negotiations ahead of an expiration at 11:59 p.m. on Sept 14.

He’s maintained it’s a hard deadline that his leadership team does not plan to extend, like the union has in the past, and that he’s not afraid to take roughly 150,000 auto workers out of factories if necessary.

That — plus the revelation late Thursday that Fain and the union filed unfair labor practice charges against GM and Stellantis with the National Labor Relations Board, claiming the companies weren’t bargaining in good faith — makes a strike against one, if not all three of the automakers, increasingly inevitable.

Unlike prior union leaders, Fain is attempting to negotiate with all three automakers at once, refusing to select a “target” company to focus on while extending deals at the others. He’s also been far more confrontational with the automakers compared to previous union leaders, at times launching personal attacks on executives.

There’s a belief among some industry analysts and experts that a strike, or several, may be necessary to convince UAW members that the union leaders fought as hard as they could to reach the demands.

“I expect there to be a strike,” said Art Wheaton, a labor professor at the Worker Institute at Cornell University. “I think there’s a reasonable chance they strike Stellantis first and then give a couple more days for Ford and GM to give a better offer.”

Wheaton believes that a strike at Stellantis is nearly guaranteed with the sides as far apart as they are now. The union could use that work stoppage as a warning to GM and Ford to finalize their deals, he said.

“I think a strike is almost essential at Stellantis or they will never get a deal ratified,” Wheaton said. “Stellantis is picking a fight, saying, ‘Try me if you dare.'”

Strikes could take various forms, including a national strike, where all workers under the contract cease working, or targeted work stoppages at certain plants over local contract issues.

During a Facebook Live on Aug. 8, 2023, UAW President Shawn Fain

Screenshot

Prolonged strikes against all three of the automakers would be unprecedented and quickly impact the automotive supply chain, U.S. economy and domestic production.

The Biden administration has taken particular interest in the talks, including the appointment of longtime Democratic adviser Gene Sperling to monitor the situation for the White House.

Wall Street watching

Wall Street has warned of a potential work stoppage for several months, and investors have taken heed.

A brief survey of 99 investors by Morgan Stanley found 58% believe a strike is “extremely likely.” That’s followed by 24% who said it’s “somewhat likely.” Just 16% said a strike was unlikely, while 2% said it was “neither likely not unlikely.”

Industry and labor experts agree, and for good reason.

The impending contract deadline follows combative rhetoric by Fain and other union leaders; a years-long labor movement involving work stoppages, including the UAW; and ambitious demands by the union for 40% or more pay increases, retention of platinum healthcare and a 32-hour workweek.

Such demands aren’t typically made public or even fully reported until close to the end of the negotiations, in part as an effort to bargain in good faith but also to avoid setting expectations — either too high or too low — for UAW members, who need to ratify the contracts after the sides announce a tentative agreement.

“I’ve always said that the best way to reach agreements is to be negotiating with each other and not in the newspapers, TV or anywhere else,” said Dennis Devaney, senior counsel at Clark Hill who formerly served as a NLRB board member and attorney for GM and Ford. “I don’t think the public negotiation … is really going to move things along.”

United Auto Workers members on strike picket outside General Motors’ Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly plant on Sept. 25, 2019 in Detroit.

Michael Wayland / CNBC

o be clear, it’s not exclusively up to Fain to call for strikes. It’s up to the UAW’s 14-member International Executive Board (IEB), which Fain leads as president. The leaders, based on weighted votes, must approve such a work stoppage by a two-thirds majority vote.

Then there’s the question of how long a strike would last.

Of its surveyed investors, Morgan Stanley found the vast majority of respondents (96%) expected a potential strike to last longer than a week. Over a third (34%) expect the strike to last longer than a month.

A strike against GM in 2019 during the last round of contract negotiations lasted 40 days and cost the automaker $3.6 billion in earnings that year, GM reported at the time.

The UAW has more than $825 million in its strike fund, which it uses to pay eligible members who are on strike. The strike pay is $500 per week for each member.

Assuming 150,000 or so UAW members covered by the contracts, strike pay would cost the union about $75 million per week. A fund of $825 million, then, would cover about 11 weeks. One caveat: that doesn’t include health-care costs that the union would cover, such as temporary COBRA plans, that would likely drain the fund far more quickly.

Ratification

For much of the union’s history, it was largely expected that members would ultimately approve whatever deal was bargained and endorsed by UAW leaders.

However, in recent negotiations, that hasn’t been the case and the sides have needed to return to the negotiating table.

That was the situation two rounds of negotiations ago, in 2015, with then-Fiat Chrysler, now Stellantis, workers, who voted down a tentative agreement. That same year, GM skilled trade workers also voted against a tentative deal with the Detroit automaker, stalling ratification.

Typically, once a tentative deal is reached between the union and an automaker, the members of that automaker will then vote by local organization on whether to accept the tentative agreement and make it a contract. The whole ratification process can take about two weeks for each company.

“The UAW’s tentative agreement with an automaker is really a set of agreements—the main text, as well as appendixes for different aspects, such as pensions and retirement plans, health care benefits, supplemental unemployment benefits, profit sharing, personal savings plans, life and disability benefits, dependent care benefits, and salaried workers (for those who are also UAW-represented),” said Kristin Dziczek, automotive policy advisor for the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago’s Detroit branch, in a blog post.

In 2019, it took eight additional weeks to negotiate and ratify all three agreements once the first tentative agreement was reached following GM’s strike. The negotiations and ratification voting ended in early December.

Spokespeople for the automakers declined to comment directly for this article, but reiterated that their teams continue to bargain in good faith with the union in hopes of deals that benefit both sides.

– CNBC’s Michael Bloom contributed to this report.

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What Wall Street needs to know about UAW talks, a potential strike, and what it could all cost

United Auto Workers members on strike picket outside General Motors’ Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly plant in Detroit, Sept. 25, 2019.

Michael Wayland / CNBC

DETROIT – The Oracle of Omaha is cutting exposure to the U.S. automotive industry amid union negotiations — potentially for good reason.

Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway this week said it nearly halved its stake in General Motors in the second quarter. While the firm didn’t disclose its reasoning, the sale front runs what is expected to be a challenging end of the year for the U.S. automotive industry, plagued by contentious contract talks between the United Auto Workers union and GM, Ford Motor and Stellantis.

The talks, which cover nearly 150,000 U.S. auto workers, could cost the automakers billions of dollars in additional labor costs, work stoppages or, in a worst-case scenario, both.

New UAW leadership team has dubbed these talks the union’s “defining moment.” President Shawn Fain has already deployed harsh messaging and a few theatrics, including throwing contract proposals by Stellantis in a trash bin, and there’s been little to no talk about “give and take” or “win-win” deals.

“They’re ready to strike if a deal does not happen,” said Melissa Atkins, a labor and employment partner at Obermayer. “Going in with that mindset, I anticipate it being very contentious … and just given the history, there probably will be a strike.”

Aggressive efforts by the union are great for organized labor and the embattled UAW, which is attempting to regain its footing after a yearslong federal corruption probe landed several top leaders in prison for bribery, embezzlement and other crimes — but not for the companies or their shareholders.

Here are the numbers investors should know ahead of the expiration date for current contracts between the Detroit automakers and UAW at 11:59 p.m. ET on Sept. 14.

$80 billion

Contract proposals made by the UAW at this point would add more than $80 billion in labor costs for each of the biggest U.S. automakers over the length of the contract, Bloomberg News first reported earlier this month.

“One might think of these UAW contracts as a set of three large purchase orders to secure the labor needed to assemble future vehicles, parts, and components—contracts that are collectively worth roughly $70–$80 billion over the course of the next four years,” Kristin Dziczek, automotive policy advisor for the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago’s Detroit branch, wrote in a Wednesday blog post.

United Auto Workers President Shawn Fain greets workers at the Stellantis Sterling Heights Assembly Plant, to mark the beginning of contract negotiations in Sterling Heights, Michigan, U.S. July 12, 2023. 

Rebecca Cook | Reuters

The demands include a 46% wage increase, restoration of traditional pensions, cost-of-living increases, reducing the work week to 32 hours from 40 and increasing retiree benefits.

If the UAW gets those demands, without any changes to other benefits, the all-in hourly labor cost for the automakers would more than double from at least $64 per hour to more than $150 per hour, according to media reports.

That would be a significant increase over wage hikes seen during the previous four-year agreements, according to estimates from the Center for Automotive Research. The 2019 deals were projected to increase average hourly labor costs over the length of the contracts by $11 per worker for then-Fiat Chrysler, now Stellantis, and $8 per worker at GM and Ford.

Under the current pay structure, UAW members start at about $18 an hour and have a “grow-in” period of four years to reach a top wage of more than $30 an hour.

$5 billion

A work stoppage by nearly 150,000 UAW workers at GM, Ford and Stellantis would result in an economic loss of more than $5 billion after 10 days, according to Anderson Economic Group, a Michigan-based consulting firm that closely tracks such events.

AEG estimates the total economic loss by calculating potential losses to UAW workers, the manufacturers and to the auto industry more broadly if the sides cannot reach tentative agreements before the current contracts expire.

In another analysis, Deutsche Bank previously estimated that a strike would hit earnings at each affected automaker by about $400 million to $500 million per week of production.

Strikes could take several forms: a national strike, where all workers under the contract cease working, or targeted work stoppages at certain plants over local contract issues. A strike against all three automakers, as Fain has alluded to, would be the most impactful but also the riskiest and most costly for the union.

$825 million

The UAW has more than $825 million in its strike fund, which it uses to pay eligible members who are on strike. The strike pay is $500 per week for each member – up from $275 in 2022.

Speaking in front of a backdrop of American-made vehicles and a UAW sign, President Joe Biden, then a presidential candidate, speaks about new proposals to protect U.S. jobs during a campaign stop in Warren, Michigan, Sept. 9, 2020.

Leah Millis | Reuters

1.5 million

If the union decides to strike against all three Detroit automakers, production losses would quickly add up.

S&P Global Mobility estimates a 10-week strike would mean lost production of roughly 1.5 million units, according to an investor note from Mizuho Securities USA.

A 40-day strike against GM during the last round of negotiations in 2019 led to a production loss of 300,000 vehicles, the company said then. It also cost the automaker $3.6 billion in earnings, GM said.

Industry experts argue that a strike against all or any of the automakers would likely impact the operations and bottom lines of the companies more quickly than four years ago since the U.S. auto industry is still recovering from supply chain problems caused during the coronavirus pandemic.

Vehicle inventory levels for the automakers also are lower than they were heading into the talks four years ago.

Heading into 2019 contract negotiations, U.S. vehicle supply was 3.73 million — essentially enough units to last 86 days of selling under normal conditions at the time, according to Cox Automotive. The industry is currently just under 2 million units, with 56 days’ supply.

“In 2019, there was quite a slack in there. There’s almost no slack now,” AEG CEO Patrick Anderson said Thursday during a webinar with the Automotive Press Association. “If we are to get a strike, within the first week, the numbers start to get serious for each of the automakers.”

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Space Force raises the stakes as rocket companies compete for lucrative military missions

A Falcon Heavy rocket launches the USSF-67 mission on January 15, 2023 from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

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The U.S. military is raising the stakes — and widening the field — on a high-profile competition for Space Force mission contracts.

The Space Force plans to buy even more rocket launches from companies in the coming years than previously expected, granting more companies a chance at securing billions in potential contracts.

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“This is a huge deal,” Col. Doug Pentecost, the deputy program executive officer of the U.S. Space Force’s Space Systems Command, told reporters during a briefing this week.

Earlier this year the Space Force kicked off the process to buy five years’ worth of launches, under a lucrative program known as National Security Space Launch (NSSL) Phase 3. Now it’s boosting the scale.

The U.S. sees a rising impetus to improve its military capabilities in space, spurring the need to almost triple the number of launches in Phase 3 that it bought in Phase 2 in 2020.

“That just blows my mind,” Pentecost said. “We had only estimated 36 missions in Phase 2. For Phase 3, we’re estimating 90 missions.”

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In February, Space Force outlined a “mutual fund” strategy to buying launches from companies. It split NSSL Phase 3 into two groups. Lane 1 is the new approach, with lower requirements and a more flexible bidding process that allows companies to compete as rockets debut over the coming years. Lane 2 represents the existing approach, with the Space Force planning to select a set number of companies for missions that meet the most demanding requirements.

Pentecost said Space Force hosted an industry day in February to go over the program’s details and had 22 companies show up. Since then, Space Force made a number of adjustments to Phase 3. It has added more missions, introduced a price cap, expanded Lane 2, and has set an annual schedule for mission assignments.

The government weighs bids by a company’s “Total Evaluated Price” per launch. That’s split into “Launch Service,” meaning how much it costs to build and launch a rocket, and the “Launch Service Support,” which covers special requirements the military may have for launch. The Launch Service Support amount is capped at $100 million per year per company.

“We implemented some cost-constraining tools so that we don’t balloon. We don’t want [a situation where] everybody gets a mission — you get a mission, you get a mission, you get a mission — because then there’s no real competition,” Pentecost said.

“We do think that all of our industry partners want to be the number one guy, so we think that will provide competitive pricing to keep our costs down,” Pentecost added.

Widening Lane 2

While Lane 1 is expected to draw the largest number of bids and award 30 missions, Lane 2 is the big show.

With Lane 2, Space Force gives out the most valuable contracts to launch national security satellites with the highest stakes. 

“These are the ones that are a $1 billion [satellite] payload going to unique orbits,” Pentecost said.

Not only has Lane 2 seen an increase in how many missions are up for grabs — currently estimated at 58 launches, up from 39 in February — but Space Force also made the decision to expand the available slots for eventual awards to three companies, instead of limiting it to two.

Elon Musk’s SpaceX and United Launch Alliance, the joint venture of Boeing and Lockheed Martin, were assumed to be the two leading contenders for Lane 2, but now there’s a door open for another company like Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin.

Space Force will assign 60% and 40% of 51 missions to the top two bidders, respectively, and the remaining seven launches will go to the third-place bidder. 

Regardless of where a company ranks, it must demonstrate that it can meet all the Lane 2 requirements, which include having launch sites on both the east coast and west coast, and the ability to hit nine “reference” orbits with high accuracy several of which are much further from Earth than the low Earth orbit requirement of Lane 1.

Asked by CNBC how many companies are developing rockets that can meet those requirements by the deadline for launches, a Space Force spokesperson declined to specify, saying the military is “tracking several” that are “expanding their launch capabilities into most of these orbits.”

“We’re hoping that it’s not just ULA, SpaceX and Blue Origin competing for that, as there are others who have messaged interest in the past,” Col. Chad Melone, the chief of Space Systems Command’s Launch Procurement and Integration division, said during the briefing.

Securing supply

Space Force is introducing an annual Oct. 1 deadline for assigning missions to companies that have won a contract.

Pentecost explained the first assignments are up for grabs in October 2025, but noted contracts don’t guarantee assignments, which protects Space Force from delays companies may have in developing and flying rockets.

“You could actually have won the contract, that you’ve got this great plan on how you’re going to be flying by [fiscal year] 2027. But since you’re not flying yet, and I have a satellite that needs to fly in two years, we will not give you that mission — we will move it to the other guy,” Pentecost said.

Space Force aims to finalize its request for bidders by September and then have all the proposals in by December, to then award the contracts in October 2024.

Space Force officials said a big driver of that push is to “guarantee capacity,” as there are “a ton of other companies” trying to buy launches for satellites and Space Force needs to lock down its orders.

“We wanted to make sure that we essentially hedged against the launch scarcity that could happen because, if there’s a very large demand for launch and everyone is [buying], prices could be very high,” Melone said.

But despite that fear, Pentecost said 2026 “seems to be the sweet spot” when a number of companies’ rockets will be done with development and ready to fly. And companies that stay on track will have the upper hand in NSSL Phase 3.

“If you’re flying before that, or if your schedule is showing that you’re going to be flying before that, you will get significant strengths, which will put you in a better position to win the best provider or second best in this competition,” Pentecost said.

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