Tag Archives: GE

Upcoming Earnings: Industrial Conglomerate GE Reports Friday Morning

Industrial conglomerate General Electric Company (NYSE: GE) is scheduled to report earnings before market open on Friday, Apr. 20.

CEO John Flannery has faced plenty of challenges since he took over in August 2017, working to streamline the massive company and improve transparency. In recent quarters, GE’s issues have been numerous and well publicized.

In the time that Flannery has been at the helm, GE has halved its dividend; it took a surprise $6.2 billion after-tax charge in Q4 2017 related to GE Capital’s insurance portfolio, while adding $15 billion to its reserves  for future payouts over the next seven years; and recently restated 2016 and 2017 financials, reducing earnings by $0.30 per share. The restated financials also included adjustments related to pensions, cash flows and income taxes.

Clearly, the company’s turnaround efforts, which include a multi-year plan to improve GE Power as well as exiting more than $20 billion worth of business over the next several years, are going to take time.

There have been some signs of progress from Flannery’s plan so far. When GE reported Q4 2017 results, it generated $9.7 billion in adjusted cash flow from operating activities for fiscal 2017, compared to guidance of $7 billion.

Since announcing plans to exit $20 billion in business, it has sold its industrial solution business in a $2.6 billion deal to ABB (ABB) and recently announced a $1.05 billion deal to sell healthcare IT businesses to private equity firm Veritas.  And Bloomberg reported that several companies are considering a bid for GE’s Jenbacher unit for more than $3 billion.

On tomorrow’s calls, analysts are likely to be digging in to get a better idea of restructuring progress.

GE Earnings

For Q1 2018, GE is expected to report adjusted EPS of $0.11 on revenue of $27.88 billion, according to third-party consensus estimates. In Q4 2017, revenue missed estimates, coming in at $31.4 billion versus expectations for $32.7 billion, and earnings also came up short by a penny at $0.27 per share after removing charges and one-time items.

GE previously lowered its earnings guidance for all of fiscal 2018 to a range of $1.00 to $1.07, but analysts seem to think that’s a little optimistic given they have an average estimate of $0.95. Out of 17 analyst ratings, earnings estimates range from $0.87 to $1.04 per share.

GE Options Trading Activity

Around GE’s upcoming report, options traders have priced in a 4.8% share price move in either direction, according to the Market Maker Move indicator on the thinkorswim® platform. Implied volatility was at the 76th percentile as of this morning. 

general-electric-ge-stock-chart-q1-2018.png
GE 1-YEAR CHART. GE shares have dropped from a 52-week high of $30.54 all the way to a new 52-week low of $12.73 on March 26. The stock has bounced a little bit off that level and has been trading around the mid-$13 range for the past few sessions. Chart source: thinkorswim® by TD Ameritrade.  Not a recommendation. For illustrative purposes only. Past performance does not guarantee future results.

In short-term trading at the Apr. 20 monthly expiration and the next several weekly expirations, a lot of the activity has been concentrated at the 14 strike for both puts and calls, just out of the money. At the May 20 expiration, trading has also been heavier at the 14-strike call, while activity on the put side has been mostly at the 13 and 14 strikes. 

Overall during yesterday’s session, trading was heavier on the call side, with a put/call ratio of 0.476.

Note: Call options represent the right, but not the obligation, to buy the underlying security at a predetermined price over a set period of time. Put options represent the right, but not the obligation to sell the underlying security at a predetermined price over a set period of time.

What’s Coming Up

Next week brings results from many of the largest companies in the tech sector:

Google-parent Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ: GOOGL) (NASDAQ: GOOG) reports after the close Monday, Apr. 23
Twitter (NYSE: TWTR) reports before market open Wednesday, Apr. 25 and Facebook, Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) reports after the close the same day
Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ: MSFT), Intel Corporation (NASDAQ: INTC) and Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) report after the close Thursday, Apr. 26

In addition to the tech-heavy week, some of the other companies on the docket are Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F), General Motors Company (NYSE: GM), Caterpillar Inc (NYSE: CAT), Boeing Co (NYSE: BA), Chevron Corporation (NYSE: CVX) and Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE: XOM). If you have time, make sure to check out today’s market update for a look at what else is going on.

Information from TDA is not intended to be investment advice or construed as a recommendation or endorsement of any particular investment or investment strategy, and is for illustrative purposes only. Be sure to understand all risks involved with each strategy, including commission costs, before attempting to place any trade.

For Tesla, Less Is More

Page 14 of Tesla’s (NASDAQ:TSLA) 2017 10-K states:

Segment Information

We operate as two reportable segments: automotive and energy generation and storage.

The automotive segment includes the design, development, manufacturing, and sales of electric vehicles. The energy generation and storage segment includes the design, manufacture, installation, and sale or lease of stationary energy storage products and solar energy systems, and sale of electricity generated by our solar energy systems to customers.

As stated, Tesla has two reportable business segments, the automotive segment and the energy generation and storage segment.

What does “Full Disclosure” mean to the SEC and to the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB, which governs the accounting standards that public companies must comply with)? It is a basic Generally Accepted Accounting Principle (GAAP). As stated on page 1,314 of “Intermediate Accounting by Kieso, Weygandt, and Warfield, 2010:

The full disclosure principle calls for financial reporting of any financial facts significant enough to influence the judgment of an informed reader.”

The same page also states:

For example, recently the SEC required companies to provide expanded disclosures about their contractual obligations. In light of the off-balance sheet accounting frauds at companies like Enron, the benefits of these expanded disclosures seem fairly obvious to the investing public.”

I’ve stated it a number of times and I’ve seen other posters on SA state the same thing, and that is that Tesla does not seem transparent enough with its financial reporting. That thought came into focus when I thought about the company’s reportable business segments. I knew there was a specific standard or two that governed segment reporting. So, I decided to research the matter and see what information was required to be reported and then compare that with what Tesla reported, as well as what other companies, with more than one reportable segment reported.

The accounting standard governing business segment reporting is Statement of Financial Accounting Standards (SFAS) 131: Disclosures About Segments of an Enterprise and Related Information. SFAS 131 replaced SFAS 14: Financial Reporting for Segments of a Business Enterprise in 1997. The reason for the updated standard on business segment reporting was because financial analysts found SFAS 14 inadequate. (See paragraphs 42 and after of the Standard). They wanted financial statement data to be disaggregated to a greater degree than required by SFAS 14.

With FASB changing over to the accounting standards codification (ASC), this standard is now ASC 280: Segment Reporting, but it’s the same content as SFAS 131. Because the content is identical, I will refer to text from SFAS 131, instead of ASC 280. The codification is harder to access because you have to register at FASB’s website, so I can’t link to the text with it, whereas SFAS 131’s text is readily accessible.

SFAS 131 requires that a public business enterprise report financial and descriptive information about its reportable operating segments. Operating segments are components of an enterprise about which separate financial information is available that’s evaluated regularly by the chief operating decision maker (CODM) in deciding how to allocate resources and in assessing performance. Generally, financial information is required to be reported on the basis that it is used internally for evaluating segment performance and deciding how to allocate resources to segments.

The reason that SFAS 131 was created was to:

Better understand the enterprise’s performance through expanded disclosures. Better assess its prospects for future net cash flows. Make more informed judgments about the enterprise as a whole.

It appears that Tesla meets the technical requirements of SFAS 131: Disclosures About Segments of an Enterprise and Related Information, but has failed to comply with the spirit of the standard. That’s my opinion after researching this subject.

SFAS 131 requires that a public business enterprise report a measure of profit or loss, certain specific revenue and expense items, and assets by segment. It also requires reconciliations of total segment revenues, total segment profit or loss, total segment assets, and other amounts disclosed for segments to corresponding amounts in the enterprise’s general-purpose financial statements. Information about the revenues derived from the enterprise’s products or services, about the countries in which the enterprise earns revenues and hold assets, and about major customers also is required to be reported, regardless of whether that information is used in making operating decisions.

An operating segment of an enterprise is defined by SFAS 131, paragraph 10 as:

10 …a component of an enterprise:

a. That engages in business activities from which it may earn revenues and incur expenses (including revenues and expenses relating to transactions with other components of the same enterprise).

b. Whose operating results are regularly reviewed by the enterprise’s CODM to make decisions about resources to be allocated to the segment and assess its performance, and

c. For which discrete financial information is available.”

Then paragraph 12 states:

12. The term chief operating decision maker identifies a function, not necessarily a manager with a specific title. That function is to allocate resources to and assess the performance of the segments of an enterprise.”

This means that the CODM, as defined in the previous paragraph, may be a group of persons and not just one person.

The following defines what a “reportable business segment” is which requires disaggregated segment reporting:

Quantitative Thresholds

18. An enterprise shall report separately information about an operating segment that meets any of the following quantitative thresholds:

a. Its reported revenue, including both sales to external customers and intersegment sales or transfers, is 10 percent or more of the combined revenue, internal and external, of all reported operating segments.

b. The absolute amount of its reported profit or loss is 10 percent or more of the greater, in absolute amount, of (1) the combined reported profit of all operating segments that did not report a loss or (2) the combined reported loss of all operating segments that did report a loss.

c. Its assets are 10 percent or more of the combined assets of all operating segments.

So, now we know what business segments are and which business segments must be reported separately from consolidated amounts.

I’m including here the SEC’s explanation of why it changed its guidance to conform to SFAS 131.

Let’s now examine, from SFAS 131, what is required to be disclosed by reported operating segments:

Disclosures

25. An enterprise shall disclose the following:

a. General information as described in paragraph 26

b. Information about reported segment profit or loss, including certain revenues and expenses included in reported segment profit or loss, segment assets, and the basis of measurement, as described in paragraphs 27-31

c. Reconciliations of the totals of segment revenues, reported profit or loss, assets, and other significant items to corresponding enterprise amounts as described in paragraph 32

d. Interim period information as described in paragraph 33.

26. An enterprise shall disclose the following general information:

a. Factors used to identify the enterprise’s reportable segments, including the basis of organization (for example, whether management has chosen to organize the enterprise around differences in products and services, geographic areas, regulatory environments, or a combination of factors and whether operating segments have been aggregated).

b. Types of products and services from which each reportable segment derives its revenues.”

Information about Profit or Loss and Assets

27. An enterprise shall report a measure of profit or loss and total assets for each reportable segment. An enterprise also shall disclose the following about each reportable segment if the specified amounts are included in the measure of segment profit or loss reviewed by the chief operating decision maker:

a. Revenues from external customers

b. Revenues from transactions with other operating segments of the same enterprise

c. Interest revenue

d. Interest expense

e. Depreciation, depletion, and amortization expense

f. Unusual items as described in paragraph 26 of APB Opinion No. 30, Reporting the Results of Operations – Reporting the Effects of Disposal of a Segment of a Business, and Extraordinary, Unusual and Infrequently Occurring Events and Transactions

g. Equity in the net income of investees accounted for my the equity method

h. Income tax expense or benefit

i. Extraordinary items

j. Significant noncash items other than depreciation, depletion, and amortization expense.

28. An enterprise shall disclose the following about each reportable segment if the specified amounts are included in the determination of segment assets reviewed by the chief operating decision maker:

a. The amount of investment in equity method investees.

b. Total expenditures for additions to live-lived assets other than financial instruments, long-term customer relationships of a financial institution, mortgage and other servicing rights, deferred policy acquisition costs, and deferred tax assets.

Now we come to a very important part of the standard. It’s this paragraph that seems to be a loophole for Tesla to circumvent what was intended by SFAS 131.

Measurement

29. The amount of each segment item reported shall be the measure reported to the chief operating decision maker for purposes of making decisions about allocating resources to the segment and assessing its performance. Adjustments and eliminations made in preparing an enterprise’s general-purpose financial statements and allocations of revenues, expenses, and gains or losses shall be included in determining reported segment profit or loss only if they are included in the measure of the segment’s profit or loss that’s used by the chief operating decision maker. Similarly, only those assets that are included in the measure of the segment’s assets that’s used by the chief operating decision maker shall be reported for that segment. If amounts are allocated to reported segment profit or loss or assets, those amounts shall be allocated on a reasonable basis.”

Are you still with me? It is a lot to digest. There is more, but I want to stop here and begin the analysis of Tesla’s disclosures. Tesla reports its business segment information under Note 23 of the 2017 10-K, pages 117 and 118:

Note 23 Segment Reporting and Information about Geographic Areas

We have two operating and reportable segments: (i) automotive and (ii) energy generation and storage. The automotive segment includes the design, development, manufacturing and sales of electric vehicles. Additionally, the automotive segment is also comprised of services and other, which includes after-sales vehicle services, used vehicle sales, powertrain sales and services by Grohmann. The energy generation and storage segment includes the design, manufacture, installation and sales of solar energy generation and energy storage products. Our CODM does not evaluate operating segments using asset or liability information. The following table presents revenues and gross margins by reportable segment (in thousands):”

Note on page 117 that Tesla’s “measure of profit or loss” which they use “for purposes of making decisions about allocating resources to the segment and assessing its performance” is Gross Profit.

At this point I have to ask: Really? You mean to say that Mr. Musk and Mr. Ahuja, or whoever the CODM is, meet with the people responsible for the two business segments to review operating performance and the only measure of profit or loss that they review is Gross Profit? Are you serious?

I mean, you have business segment operating expenses like:

Payroll for design, development, manufacturing, and sales. SG&A for both operating segments, like utilities, telephones both stationary and mobile, internet usage charges, and general office supplies for administrative employees and sales employees. Depreciation for general purpose office equipment like computers, printers, telephones, desks, chairs. Depreciation on the buildings that house administrative and sales employees. Amortization on computer software used to manage both segments. Marketing costs Other things I have not mentioned or thought of.

All of these costs can be easily identified with either the Automotive segment or the Energy Generation and Storage segment. I am certain that Tesla’s CODM reviews these business segment costs and reviews operating income or loss by business segment in order to assess operating performance for each segment. But, SFAS 131 doesn’t define what the term “a measure of profit or loss” is. Therefore, the Standard provides Tesla with a loophole whereby they are not required to disclose operating income or loss by business segment. As a consequence, in Tesla’s case the new Standard provides a loophole whereby less disaggregated financial information may be disclosed than the old one. That’s exactly the opposite of what was intended with the issuance of the new Standard.

To support my claim that Tesla’s CODM looks at details of operating performance on a segment level basis that go well beyond the Gross Profit level, Take a look at this article from October 25, 2017.

” Tesla said at the time of the acquisition it would cut costs by $150 million in the first full year after closing the deal, which will occur November 21, 2017. SolarCity cofounders Peter and Lyndon Rive have both left the company since it was acquired by Tesla. The Rives are cousins of Tesla CEO Elon Musk. “

The word “synergies,” however, means cost cutting, and at least some of the cost cutting will come in the form of layoffs.

Like all companies, Tesla conducts an annual performance review during which a manager and employee discuss the results that were achieved, as well as how those results were achieved, during the performance period. This includes both constructive feedback and recognition of top performers with additional compensation and equity awards, as well as promotions in many cases. As with any company, especially one of over 33,000 employees, performance reviews also occasionally result in employee departures. Tesla is continuing to grow and hire new employees around the world.”

SFAS 131 provides an example of Segment Information to be reported, in paragraph 122:

Diversified Company evaluates performance based on profit or loss from operations before income taxes not including nonrecurring gains and losses and foreign exchange gains and losses.”

Did you get that? The example in SFAS 131, itself, uses what to evaluate performance? Operating Income or Loss.

The example company also has a finance segment that meets the reportable segment criteria. Tesla has a finance division in its Auto Segment. That division doesn’t meet the reportable segment criteria? Interesting. Very interesting.

IMO, Tesla does, in fact, assess business segment performance at the operating income or loss level. My own accounting work experience tells me that. Common sense tells you that. I was born at night, but not last night. So, even though Tesla meets the technical requirements of SFAS 131, by reporting “a measure of profit or loss,” the company fails to comply with the very intent of the standard, in my opinion.

There’s another matter, also, the reporting of segment assets. Tesla doesn’t report their assets by segment, but only by a consolidated total. Again, it appears that Tesla meets the technical requirements of SFAS 131, but fails to comply with its spirit. Within Note 23 of the 2017 10-K, on page 117, Tesla states: Our CODM does not evaluate operating segments using asset or liability information.

Paragraph 29 of the standard states: “The amount of each segment item reported shall be the measure reported to the chief operating decision maker for purposes of making decisions about allocating resources to the segment and assessing its performance. “

So, with Tesla’s statement, they comply with the technical requirements of the standard since, according to the company, the CODM doesn’t evaluate operating segments using asset or liability information.

But, is it really true that Tesla doesn’t evaluate segment operating performance or the allocation of resources (assets) using asset information? Has Tesla consolidated SolarCity and reduced the amount of assets under its management, as a result? Yes, they have. Does Tesla continue to monitor and manage the amount of its assets, company wide? Obviously, they do. And what about “capex?” So if this isn’t reviewing resource allocation (assets) and making decisions about resource allocation (assets), then I’m from Mars. I think any public company manages the allocation of resources using asset information, as can readily be seen by the asset information provided by other enterprises with more than one segment. Ford (NYSE:F), GM (NYSE:GM), John Deere (NYSE:DE), GE (NYSE:GE), Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ), Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT), and every other company that I’ve researched, that has more than one business segment, provides operating income, asset information, depreciation, and other information by segment. But not Tesla. I find it hard to believe that Tesla doesn’t review and evaluate operating performance or resource allocation with asset information.

Let’s go on, now, and review a few other paragraphs of the standard.

32. An enterprise shall provide reconciliations of all of the following:

a. The total of the reportable segment’s revenues to the enterprise’s consolidated revenues.

b. The total of the reportable segments’ measures of profit or loss to the enterprise’s consolidated income before income taxes, extraordinary items, discontinued operations, and the cumulative effect of changes in accounting principles.

c. The total of the reportable segments’ assets to the enterprise’s consolidated assets.

d. The total of the reportable segments’ amounts for every other significant item of information disclosed to the corresponding consolidated amount.

All significant reconciling items shall be separately identified and described. For example, the amount of each significant adjustment to reconcile accounting methods used in determining segment profit or loss to the enterprise’s consolidated amounts shall be separately identified and described.

Tesla includes a reconciliation of its reportable segment revenues to consolidated revenues. But I don’t see a reconciliation of the reportable segments’ profit or loss to the consolidated income or loss before income taxes, extraordinary items, etc. And a reconciliation of the reportable segments’ assets to consolidated assets is missing.

Then there’s paragraph 38 about reporting revenues from external customers by geographic region, and long-lived assets by geographic region. Tesla complies with this.

Then there’s paragraph 39:

Information about Major Customers

39. An enterprise shall provide information about the extent of its reliance on its major customers. If revenues from transactions with a single external customer amount to 10 percent or more of an enterprise’s revenues, the enterprise shall disclose that fact, the total amount of revenues from each such customer, and the identity of the segment or segments reporting the revenues. The enterprise need not disclose the identity of a major customer or the amount of revenues that each segment reports from that customer.

Tesla doesn’t provide any information in this regard, so, apparently it doesn’t derive at least 10 percent of its revenues from just one customer.

So, that’s the standard and you can review it at FASB’s website here.

Let’s further evaluate the adequacy of Tesla’s disclosures about its business segments by revealing what was intended when SFAS 131 replaced SFAS 14.

First, let’s review the statements of the sole FASB Board Member (there are seven board members) who dissented from the issuance of SFAS 131:

This Statement was adopted by the affirmative votes of six members of the Financial Accounting Standards Board. Mr. Leisenring dissented.

Mr. Leisenring dissents from the issuance of this Statement because it does not define segment profit or loss and does not require that whatever measure of profit or loss is reported be consistent with the attribution of assets to reportable segments.

By not defining segment profit or loss, this Statement allows any measure of performance to be displayed as segment profit or loss as long as that measure is reviewed by the chief operating decision maker. Items of revenue and expense directly attributable to a given segment need not be included in the reported operating results of that segment, and no allocation of items not directly attributable to a given segment is required. As a consequence, an item that results directly from one segment’s activities can be excluded from that segment’s profit or loss. Mr. Leisenring believes that, minimally, this Statement should require that amounts directly incurred by or directly attributable to a segment be included in that segment’s profit or loss and that assets identified with a particular segment be consistent with the measurement of that segment’s profit of loss.

Mr. Leisenring supports trying to assist users as described in paragraph 3 of this Statement but believes it is very unlikely that will be accomplished, even with the required disclosures and reconciliations to the entity’s annual financial statements, because of the failure to define profit or loss and to impose any attribution or allocation requirements for the measure of profit or loss.

Mr Leisenring supports the management approach for defining reportable segments and supports disclosure of selected segment information in condensed financial statements of interim periods issued to shareholders. Mr. Leisenring believes, however, that the definitions of revenues, operating profit or loss, and identifiable assets in paragraph 10 of Statement 14 should be retained in this Statement and applied to segments identified by the management approach.

I concur with Mr. Leisenring. Without defining profit or loss, companies like Tesla can skirt the spirit and intent of the new standard, as we see being done in Tesla’s 10-K, in my opinion.

So, I have a question. Is there any “material” information which Note 23 of Tesla’s financials discloses that isn’t contained within its Consolidated Income Statement? Very little, in my opinion. The intent of SFAS 131 was that MORE disaggregated financial data would be disclosed than was disclosed under SFAS 14. That isn’t the case with Tesla.

Here is the intent of the new Standard, in paragraphs 42 through 45:

Background Information

42. FASB Statement No. 14, Financial Reporting for Segments of a Business Enterprise, was issued in 1976. That Statement required that business enterprises report segment information on two bases: By industry and by geographic area. It also required disclosure of information about export sales and major customers.

43. The Board concluded at the time it issued Statement 14 that information about components of an enterprise, the products and services that it offers, its foreign operations, and its major customers is useful for understanding and making decisions about the enterprise as a whole……

44. In its 1993 position paper, Financial Reporting in the 1990s and Beyond, the Association for Investment Management and Research (AIMR) said:

(Segment data) is vital, essential, fundamental, indispensable, and integral to the investment analysis process. Analysts need to know and understand how the various components of a multifaceted enterprise behave economically. One weak member of the group is analogous to a section of blight on a piece of fruit – it has the potential to spread rot over the entirety. Even in the absence of weakness, different segments will generate dissimilar streams of cash flows to which are attached disparate risks and which bring about unique values. Thus, without disaggregation, there is no sensible way to predict the overall amounts, timing, or risks of a complete enterprise’s future cash flows. There is little dispute over the analytic usefulness of disaggregated financial data. (Pages 59 and 60).

45. Over the years, financial analysts consistently requested that financial statement data be disaggregated to a much greater degree than it is in current practice. Many analysts said that they found Statement 14 helpful but inadequate. In its 1993 position paper, the AIMR emphasized that:

There is no disagreement among AIMR members that segment information is totally vital to their work. There also is general agreement among them that the current segment reporting standard, Financial Accounting Standard No. 14, is inadequate.

Then, paragraph 93 of SFAS 131 states:

Although this Statement requires disclosure of more information about an individual operating segment than Statement 14 required for an industry segment, ….”

Clearly, what was intended with the new Standard was more disaggregated data, not less. But, with Tesla, less is more. I give Tesla a grade of F for this section of their 10-K. Their Business Segments are something of a “black box” due to the lack of disclosure about them.

In Contrast, I present John Deere’s Disclosure Note on Reported Segments. It’s three pages long:



I’ll wrap up the article with this. Where’s the beef? When businesses become materially diversified, investors and investment analysts want more information about the details behind the consolidated financial statements. In particular, they want Income Statement, Balance Sheet, and Cash Flow information on the individual segments that compose the total income or loss figures.

Much information is hidden in the consolidated numbers. If an investor or an analyst has only the consolidated figures, he or she cannot tell the extent to which differing product lines contribute to the company’s profitability (or lack of), risk and growth potential. Earnings of the individual segments enable investors and the analyst to evaluate the differences between segments in growth rate, risk, and profitability, and to forecast consolidated profits. SFAS 14 was written to better serve the investor and analysts by requiring segmented information be made available, including operating income or loss and the assets contributing to that income or loss. SFAS 131 replaced SFAS 14 so that even more and better segmented data would be made available. Tesla defeats the purpose for which SFAS 131 was issued, since it provides less information about operating income and assets (no data) than it would have been required to report under SFAS 14.

In short, take away Note 23 of Tesla’s 10-K and little material information has been omitted, meaning Note 23 tells us little more about the business segments than if the Note were not present.

Disclosure: I/we have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.

I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

Additional disclosure: I may buy puts on Tesla when and if the price reaches $350
It is highly risky to short this stock. Please understand the risks fully before doing so.

8 Biggest Dow Losers So Far in 2018

Over the course of the past week’s five trading sessions, the Dow Jones industrial average dropped more than 1,400 points, the biggest weekly percentage loss in more than two years. Eight Dow component stocks are down at least 10% for the year to date and only six have been able to show a gain so far in 2018.

No one will be shocked to read that General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE) is the worst-performing Dow stock of 2018, down 25.1% as of Friday. The stock posted a new 52-week low Friday at $13.02. As the share price declines, investors worry more about the viability of GE’s dividend payments. At yesterday’s close the dividend yield is 3.41%. For the prior 12 months, GE shares have lost nearly 56% of their value.

Procter & Gamble Co. (NYSE: PG) has seen its share price drop by 17.38% to date in 2018. Shares lost nearly 4% last week and set a new 52-week low of $75.81 on Friday. The stock has long been a favorite defensive holding, and of the eight stocks on this list, its weekly loss was the second smallest. The stock’s dividend yield is 3.52%, and shares are down 16.4% for the past 12 months.

Walmart Inc. (NYSE: WMT) dropped 4.21% last week and shares are down 13.5% for the year to date. The company has been waging anear-life and death battle with Amazon that is both costly and only a moderate success. Walmart’s dividend yield at Friday’s close was 2.39%, and shares still trade up by over 22% over the past 12 months.

Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM) closed Friday down 12.85% for the year to date and down just under 3% for the week. That was the smallest weekly loss of any of the stocks on this list. Exxon was buoyed by last week’s5.6% boost to crude oil prices. The stock’s dividend yield was 4.14% at Friday’s close, and shares are down about 11% over the past 12 months.

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) has lost about 12.5% of its value since the beginning of the year. Last week’s dip of 4.67% didn’t help, but Verizon did manage to avoid setting a new annual low during the week. The company’s 5% dividend yield helps keep investors in the fold, and some encouraging words about Verizon’s 5G technology also helped moderate losses last week. The stock is still underperforming for the past 12 months, however, down 6.75%.

DowDuPont Inc. (NYSE: DWDP) has posted a year-to-date drop of about 11.5% after losing 7.2% of its value last week. Like Verizon, the industrial firm managed to avoid posting a new low last week, and the stock price is flat over the past 12 months. DowDuPont’s dividend yield was 2.32% at Friday’s close.

Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) dropped 6.42% last week to bring its year-to-date loss to 10.5%. Like P&G, this is another defensive stock that investors hold onto for its long history of dividend performance. At Friday’s closing price, the dividend yield for J&J is 2.64%, hardly a dazzler, but an amount that is a virtual lock to be paid. For the past 12 months, its shares have lost just 0.6%.

McDonald’s Corp. (NYSE: MCD) makes this list because its stock is down 9.96% for the year, close enough to 10% for us. Shares lost 4.55% last week, but has still has added just over 20% to its share price during the past 12 months. Not quite as sure a defensive play as P&G or J&J, McDonald’s pays a dividend yield of 2.55% and remains a favorite among some analysts.

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These Are the Only Dow Stocks Up for the Year

Fridays Vital Data: General Electric Company (GE), International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) an

U.S. stock futures are trading higher heading into the open, as Wall Street brushes off concerns about a government shutdown. The House provided a bit of confidence yesterday, after passing a one-month spending bill, but the measure has little support in the Senate.

stock market todayThe economic calendar is thin this morning, with only January consumer confidence data on tap.

Heading into the open, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures are up 0.11%, S&P 500 futures have added 0.08% and Nasdaq-100 futures have gained 0.26%.

Turning to the options pits, volume remained above average but dipped well below the recent flurry of activity. Overall, about 21.1 million calls and 16.7 million puts changed hands. The CBOE single-session equity put/call volume ratio rebounded to 0.56. The 10-day moving average held at 0.55.

Taking a closer look at yesterday’s options activity, General Electric Company (NYSE:GE) continued to draw heavy put volume amid a four-day losing streak. Meanwhile, International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM) call traders are being burned this morning by a post-earnings selloff. Finally, Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE:CAT) is trading ex-dividend today with third-quarter earnings on tap next week.

Friday’s Vital Options Data: General Electric Company (GE), International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) and Caterpillar Inc. (CAT)investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/01-19-2018-Top-Ten-Options-300×137.png 300w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/01-19-2018-Top-Ten-Options-65×30.png 65w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/01-19-2018-Top-Ten-Options-200×91.png 200w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/01-19-2018-Top-Ten-Options-400×182.png 400w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/01-19-2018-Top-Ten-Options-116×53.png 116w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/01-19-2018-Top-Ten-Options-100×46.png 100w,https://investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/01-19-2018-Top-Ten-Options-110×50.png 110w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/01-19-2018-Top-Ten-Options-78×36.png 78w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/01-19-2018-Top-Ten-Options-170×77.png 170w” sizes=”(max-width: 547px) 100vw, 547px” />

General Electric Company (GE)

GE stock is looking to bounce back this morning after suffering its largest four-day losing streak in eight years. GE is down more than 11% since announcing more than $11 billion in charges due to its long-term care insurance portfolio and the new U.S. tax laws.

The decline has sparked considerable options speculation for GE stock, which hasn’t left the top ten most actives list all week. On Thursday, volume rose to over 457,000 contracts, with calls managing to scrape together 52% of the day’s take.

Most of these appear to be closeouts, however, as the February put/call open interest ratio has risen from 0.58 on Wednesday to 0.67 today. However, at least on large block of calls appears to have been purchased yesterday.

According to Trade-Alert.com, a block of 10,480 March $19 calls crossed traded yesterday at 21 cents, or $21 per contract. The price was listed near the bottom of the March $19 call strike price range, but implieds rose nearly 1% when the trade crossed, indicating a buy to open.

International Business Machines Corp. (IBM)

IBM stock is trading more than 3% lower heading into the open as investors fret over the company’s cautious 2018 guidance. Ironically, IBM posted it’s first rise in revenue in five years. Adjusted fourth-quarter earnings came in at $5.18 per share as revenue rose to $22.54 billion. Analysts were expecting earnings of $5.17 a share on revenue of $22.05 billion.

However, IBM expects 2018 operating profits of $13.80 per share, below the consensus estimate of $13.92. “Tax will be a headwind in 2018 year-to-year,” said CFO James Kavanaugh.

Options traders appear to have been caught flat footed. Volume rose to 214,000 contracts yesterday, with calls making up 71% of the day’s take. What’s more, the February put/call OI ratio arrives at 0.71 after having declined from a reading north of 0.80 last month.

Judging from February OI levels, IBM could be stuck between $160 and $170 through February expiration. Both the $160 strike and the $170 strike are home to more than 8,000 contracts in February, with only the deep out-of-the-money $230 strike sporting a higher level of open interest (10,000 contracts).

Caterpillar Inc. (CAT)

Caterpillar stock trades ex-dividend on Monday, which means that the stock is in for a heavy influx of call volume. That trend started yesterday, as volume surged to 171,000 contracts, more than five times CAT’s daily average. Calls gobbled up 92% of the day’s take.

Shareholders of record as of the close today are eligible for a dividend payment of 78 cents per share on Feb. 20.

There is another reason for CAT options traders to ramp up activity, however. Caterpillar will release its fourth-quarter earnings report on Thursday, Jan. 25. Analysts are expecting a profit of $1.77 per share on revenue of $11.97 billion. The whisper number arrives at $1.88 per share.

As of this writing, Joseph Hargett was long on General Electric Company (GE) stock.

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10 Stocks That Could Surprise in 2018

The U.S. stock markets hit the jackpot in 2017, with all the major indexes up significantly — the S&P 500 gained 19% over the past year, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 25% and the tech-heavy Nasdaq was up an impressive 28% — making year-end assessments by investors a very happy occasion.

Amazingly, the U.S, markets ranked 39th out of 47 countries in 2017, making this past year a relative stinker compared to the rest of the world’s stocks.

Why the “down” year?

It’s possible that investors have figured out that U.S. stocks are overvalued relative to stocks in other countries. So, while U.S. markets underperformed on a comparable basis, it can always be worse, as Canada demonstrates.

In 2017, Canadian stocks gained just 6% on the year with energy companies providing a significant headwind to better performance. Here in the U.S., the major indexes are much less dependent on energy stocks, hence the higher returns.

Given the perception U.S. stocks are overvalued, how does one make money in 2018?

Buy several of these ten stocks that lost 20% or more in 2017.  My bet is that, like the Dogs of the Dow, they will surprise in 2018.

Stocks That Will Surprise in 2018: Under Armour (UAA) Stocks That Will Surprise in 2018: Under Armour (UAA)investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/uamsn-300×165.jpg 300w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/uamsn-55×30.jpg 55w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/uamsn-200×110.jpg 200w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/uamsn-162×88.jpg 162w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/uamsn-400×220.jpg 400w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/uamsn-116×64.jpg 116w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/uamsn-100×55.jpg 100w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/uamsn-91×50.jpg 91w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/uamsn-78×43.jpg 78w,https://investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/uamsn-170×93.jpg 170w” sizes=”(max-width: 728px) 100vw, 728px” />Source: Shutterstock

It’s interesting that John Schnatter, the founder and former CEO of Papa John’s Int’l, Inc. (NASDAQ:PZZA), stepped down toward the end of 2017. Yet, Under Armour Inc (NYSE:UAA) CEO and founder Kevin Plank had no such plans despite delivering a lump of coal in shareholders’ stockings.

Plank deservedly is on a list of “Worst CEOs” of the past year with Under Armour’s stock losing half of its value.

In early February, I suggested that Plank should move aside, hiring a more experienced direct-to-consumer retail executive who understands how to sell in an omnichannel world.

A couple of months later I proposed that Under Armour and Lululemon Athletica Inc. (NASDAQ:LULU) should join forces to deliver a more balanced business regarding men’s and women’s customer bases.

Personally, I believe both of these ideas are both valid. Furthermore, I see Lululemon’s CEO, Laurent Potdevin, as the perfect person to lead the merged organization.

Regardless of whether these two things come to fruition, I believe Under Armour can bounce back in 2018. 

Stocks That Will Surprise in 2018: Newell Brands (NWL)

Stocks That Will Surprise in 2018: Newell Brands (NWL)investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/nwlmsn-300×165.jpg 300w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/nwlmsn-55×30.jpg 55w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/nwlmsn-200×110.jpg 200w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/nwlmsn-162×88.jpg 162w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/nwlmsn-400×220.jpg 400w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/nwlmsn-116×64.jpg 116w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/nwlmsn-100×55.jpg 100w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/nwlmsn-91×50.jpg 91w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/nwlmsn-78×43.jpg 78w,https://investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/nwlmsn-170×93.jpg 170w” sizes=”(max-width: 728px) 100vw, 728px” />

Newell Brands Inc (NYSE:NWL) lost 29% in 2017 as it struggled to integrate the Jarden acquisition into its own business. This past year was the stock’s first significant annual loss since 2008 when it saw a drop of 59% due to the economic crisis.

Investors expected that the integration of Jarden would deliver sales growth and higher profits and neither of these has yet to materialize.

Its five-year restructuring process to save $1.3 billion by 2021 has saved $410 million through the end of Q2 2017. Although it’s going as planned, debt levels are still relatively high at $10.2 billion or 65% of its market cap. The company is on track to reduce its leverage ratio to 3.5 times or less by the end of 2019.

Newell has become home to a lot of brands that don’t have the scale to compete in a global world. Moving to four operating segments: Live, Learn, Work and Play, I see the company fine-tuning its focus in 2018 and beyond.

Newell stock hasn’t been this low since 2014. The transformation might be messy, but 2018 should see it turn the corner.

However, if you don’t have 2-3 years to wait for it to complete the restructuring, you’re best to look elsewhere.   

Stocks That Will Surprise in 2018: Mattel (MAT) Stocks That Will Surprise in 2018: Mattel (MAT)investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/matmsn-300×165.jpg 300w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/matmsn-55×30.jpg 55w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/matmsn-200×110.jpg 200w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/matmsn-162×88.jpg 162w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/matmsn-400×220.jpg 400w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/matmsn-116×64.jpg 116w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/matmsn-100×55.jpg 100w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/matmsn-91×50.jpg 91w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/matmsn-78×43.jpg 78w,https://investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/matmsn-170×93.jpg 170w” sizes=”(max-width: 728px) 100vw, 728px” />Source: Shutterstock

The bankruptcy of Toys “R” Us in 2017 says all you need to know about Mattel, Inc.’s (NASDAQ:MAT) past year. Therefore, it probably doesn’t come as a surprise to most investors that Mattel stock lost 41% of its value in 2017 and now sits 67% below its five-year high of $48.48.

Mattel’s situation has deteriorated to the point that it suspended its dividend in October to save cash and keep the business on a stronger financial footing. It also intends to look to boost its gross margin by focusing on fewer product offerings while cutting staff to lower its operating expenses.

While it’s tempting to look to a Hasbro, Inc. (NASDAQ:HAS) buyout to save the day, it’s very likely that Mattel’s going to have to innovate its way out of the mess it currently finds itself.

None of its major segments are growing, unlike with Hasbro, which has weathered the Toys “R” Us storm far better than Mattel. That said, Mattel’s long-term debt is still only 34% of its market cap which isn’t outrageous for a company its size. 

Don’t get me wrong, buying Mattel is a speculative buy at this point. I would wait for the company to announce its Q4 2017 earnings at the end of January before considering a purchase because it’s entirely possible it will test single digits before bottoming.

With Barbie, Hot Wheels and Fisher-Price, it has got a reasonable shot at a turnaround. 

Stocks That Will Surprise in 2018: Chipotle (CMG) Stocks That Will Surprise in 2018: Chipotle (CMG)investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/cmgmsn-300×165.jpg 300w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/cmgmsn-73×40.jpg 73w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/cmgmsn-55×30.jpg 55w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/cmgmsn-250×137.jpg 250w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/cmgmsn-200×110.jpg 200w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/cmgmsn-162×88.jpg 162w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/cmgmsn-160×88.jpg 160w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/cmgmsn-65×36.jpg 65w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/cmgmsn-100×55.jpg 100w,https://investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/cmgmsn-91×50.jpg 91w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/cmgmsn-78×43.jpg 78w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/cmgmsn-170×93.jpg 170w” sizes=”(max-width: 728px) 100vw, 728px” />Source: Mike Mozart Via Flickr

If it weren’t for bad luck, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. (NYSE:CMG), would have no luck at all.

I can remember how some analysts and investors were chastising Chipotle for going overboard on food preparation procedures after its E.coli outbreak a couple of years ago. 2017’s revisit of food safety concerns put the brakes on any chance for a recovery of its stock price which lost 23% in the past year.

Kyle Woodley, a former InvestorPlace editor and very astute investor, recently picked CMG as his “Best stock for 2018” suggesting profits and revenues are growing far more than most investors realize, and while his pick is speculative given the company’s history, the upside seems higher than the downside at this point.

I have to give former CEO and co-founder Steve Ells credit for stepping down in November as Chipotle’s chief executive. It’s never easy to admit that you’re not the one to lead your baby back from the wilderness, but shareholders ought to be thankful that Ells could see that a leadership change was necessary.

Who Chipotle hires as the man or woman to lead the company is critical to bouncing back in 2018. I think the board will make a smart choice with Ells’ input and it will be off to the races.   

It would not surprise me if a former McDonald’s Corporation (NYSE:MCD) executive were at the top of the list.

Stocks That Will Surprise in 2018: Sally Beauty (SBH) Stocks That Will Surprise in 2018: Sally Beauty (SBH)investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/sbhmsn-300×165.jpg 300w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/sbhmsn-55×30.jpg 55w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/sbhmsn-200×110.jpg 200w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/sbhmsn-162×88.jpg 162w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/sbhmsn-400×220.jpg 400w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/sbhmsn-116×64.jpg 116w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/sbhmsn-100×55.jpg 100w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/sbhmsn-91×50.jpg 91w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/sbhmsn-78×43.jpg 78w,https://investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/sbhmsn-170×93.jpg 170w” sizes=”(max-width: 728px) 100vw, 728px” />Source: Mainstream via Flickr (Modified)

At the end of November, I suggested that investors consider buying Sally Beauty Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:SBH) after dropping $3 in a month. Since then it’s up 18% and should the overall markets continue moving higher early in 2018, I expect SBH stock to do the same.

Sally Beauty’s stock lost 29% in 2017, the company’s third consecutive year of negative returns; it hadn’t had a breakout year since 2013 when it gained 28%. It is due.

Remember, Ulta Beauty Inc (NASDAQ:ULTA), one of specialty retail’s shining stars, also had a negative year in 2017. The coming year ought to be better for both companies.

While the jury is still out on whether the company can reignite sales, the lowering of the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21% should deliver about 36 cents per share in additional earnings.

The company’s biggest weakness has always been its level of debt — $1.8 billion or 75% of its market cap — so I’d look for some indication from SBH management that it is planning to deleverage its balance sheet.

If it does that, given its free cash flow generation, the sky’s the limit for its stock.

Stocks That Will Surprise in 2018: Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY) Stocks That Will Surprise in 2018: Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY)investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/bbbymsn-300×165.jpg 300w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/bbbymsn-55×30.jpg 55w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/bbbymsn-200×110.jpg 200w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/bbbymsn-162×88.jpg 162w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/bbbymsn-400×220.jpg 400w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/bbbymsn-116×64.jpg 116w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/bbbymsn-100×55.jpg 100w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/bbbymsn-91×50.jpg 91w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/bbbymsn-78×43.jpg 78w,https://investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/bbbymsn-170×93.jpg 170w” sizes=”(max-width: 728px) 100vw, 728px” />Source: Mike Mozart via Flickr

It wasn’t a good year for Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. (NYSE:BBBY), down 44% in 2017. For that matter, it hasn’t been a good decade, losing 2% annually for long-time shareholders.

Eventually, the tide’s got to turn, doesn’t it?

Well, probably not if it keeps delivering woefully poor earnings results like Q3 2017. On December 20, it announced that sales were flat year over year at $3 billion, earnings per share were virtually halved from 85 cents a year earlier to 44 cents this year and comparable sales decreased marginally by 0.3%.

Despite the deterioration in its earnings, the company still generates significant free cash flow. It currently is valued at four times operating cash flow, its lowest level at any time in the past decade and less than half its industry peers.

Yes, the various banners it operates under have seen attrition in both gross and operating margins, yet it’s still expected to earn $3 per share in fiscal 2017.

At seven times earnings, there might not be a better value play than BBBY at the moment.

Stocks That Will Surprise in 2018: Tanger Factory Outlet Centers (SKT) Stocks That Will Surprise in 2018: Tanger Factory Outlet Centers (SKT)investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/sktmsn-300×165.jpg 300w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/sktmsn-55×30.jpg 55w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/sktmsn-200×110.jpg 200w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/sktmsn-162×88.jpg 162w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/sktmsn-400×220.jpg 400w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/sktmsn-116×64.jpg 116w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/sktmsn-100×55.jpg 100w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/sktmsn-91×50.jpg 91w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/sktmsn-78×43.jpg 78w,https://investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/sktmsn-170×93.jpg 170w” sizes=”(max-width: 728px) 100vw, 728px” />Source: Shutterstock

Tanger Factory Outlet Centers Inc. (NYSE:SKT) is an owner of retail real estate focusing entirely on outlet centers. It owns 40 outlet centers in 22 states and another four in Canada. Together, these 44 outlet centers provide 15.3 million square feet for retailers to lease.

Interestingly, the company estimates that there are only 70 million square feet of quality outlet space in the U.S., suggesting Tanger has close to 20% of the country’s leasable outlet space.

That’s what Warren Buffett would call a wide-moat.

Conservatively financed, it has grown its enterprise value by 7.5% annually on a compounded basis since 2005. Also, it’s a prominent grower of its dividend, belonging to the S&P High Yield Dividend Aristocrat Index. In the past three years, it has grown its dividend by 12% annually.

Tanger is an income investor’s dream stock.

Since going public in 1993, it’s never had an occupancy rate lower than 96%, providing investors with considerable comfort that cash flow isn’t going to disappear overnight.

As CEO Steven Tanger likes to say:

“In good times people love a bargain, and in tough times, people need a bargain.”

That’s what makes its business model so strong.

Trading at levels not seen since 2011, I like SKT’s chances in 2018.

Stocks That Will Surprise in 2018: Acuity Brands (AYI) Stocks That Will Surprise in 2018: Acuity Brands (AYI)investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/ayimsn-300×165.jpg 300w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/ayimsn-55×30.jpg 55w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/ayimsn-200×110.jpg 200w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/ayimsn-162×88.jpg 162w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/ayimsn-400×220.jpg 400w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/ayimsn-116×64.jpg 116w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/ayimsn-100×55.jpg 100w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/ayimsn-91×50.jpg 91w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/ayimsn-78×43.jpg 78w,https://investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/ayimsn-170×93.jpg 170w” sizes=”(max-width: 728px) 100vw, 728px” />Source: Shutterstock

I recommended Acuity Brands, Inc. (NYSE:AYI) stock on two occasions in 2017.

The first time was in August when I picked Acuity Brands and seven other stocks whose share prices added up to $2,000. Although Acuity is known for its lighting solutions, the company is making a big push into the Internet of Things and while it’s early in that expansion, I can see it being just as successful.

In fiscal 2017 (August 31 year-end), Acuity earned $7.43 per share, 12% higher than a year earlier. With very little debt and steady free cash flow, it has the financial flexibility to drive future growth.

At the end of November, I suggested investors buy its stock on the dip around $160. It has since climbed 10% and is poised to move higher in 2018 on strengthening margins.

Long-term, Acuity might be one of the best stocks to buy on a significant downturn in its stock price.

Stocks That Will Surprise in 2018: Boardwalk Pipeline Partners (BWP)

 

testinvestorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/pipelinemsn-1-300×165.jpg 300w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/pipelinemsn-1-55×30.jpg 55w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/pipelinemsn-1-200×110.jpg 200w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/pipelinemsn-1-162×88.jpg 162w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/pipelinemsn-1-65×36.jpg 65w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/pipelinemsn-1-100×55.jpg 100w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/pipelinemsn-1-91×50.jpg 91w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/pipelinemsn-1-78×43.jpg 78w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/pipelinemsn-1-170×93.jpg 170w” sizes=”(max-width: 728px) 100vw, 728px” />Source: Maciek Lulko (Modified)

Like a lot of oil-related businesses, Boardwalk Pipeline Partners, LP (NYSE:BWP) had a dreadful year, down 23%, erasing a significant portion of the gains it made in 2016.

The operator of natural gas pipelines and storage facilities — in 2016, it transported 2.3 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and liquids — has been on a roller coaster ride the past few years. If oil and gas prices don’t remain where they currently are, investors can expect continued volatility in its stock price.

However, lower corporate and personal income taxes could result in a more buoyant economy. When people and businesses are more confident, they spend more money. Often, that spending comes in the form of automobile travel, which could put upward pressure on oil prices due to increased demand.

For those who aren’t so sure that oil and gas prices can go any higher, you might want to invest in Loews Corporation (NYSE:L), a holding company run by the Tisch family, which own 51% of Boardwalk’s stock.

Over the past five years, Loews’ stock has significantly outperformed BWP — 4% annually vs. -9% — although neither did anywhere close to the S&P 500.

In June 2017, I suggested that Loews take BWP private. Perhaps it will happen in 2018.

Stocks That Will Surprise in 2018: General Electric (GE) Stocks That Will Surprise in 2018: General Electric (GE)investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/gemsn-300×150.jpg 300w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/gemsn-768×384.jpg 768w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/gemsn-60×30.jpg 60w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/gemsn-200×100.jpg 200w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/gemsn-400×200.jpg 400w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/gemsn-116×58.jpg 116w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/gemsn-100×50.jpg 100w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/gemsn-78×39.jpg 78w, investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/gemsn-800×400.jpg 800w,https://investorplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/gemsn-170×85.jpg 170w” sizes=”(max-width: 950px) 100vw, 950px” />Source: Shutterstock

This last one must be considered the “Hail Mary” of the bunch. I don’t like General Electric Company (NYSE:GE) as a business or a stock because it’s squandered so much shareholder goodwill over the past 20 years by being the worst kind of industrial conglomerate, one that’s afraid of taking chances and is stuck in some time warp.

CNBC Mad Money host Jim Cramer, someone I generally respect, recently apologized to his loyal viewers for continuing to recommend GE stock despite its ongoing slide.

Cramer feels like GE could get it together under new CEO John Flannery. Therefore, he’s still not recommending investors sell the stock. I’m not as convinced. I believe GE’s business could be permanently broken.

In August, I predicted that GE stock would remain in the $20s for the foreseeable future. Since then, GE’s stock has dropped almost 30% on news the company’s problems are bigger than first thought.

That said, any obvious signs of life from GE as we make our way through 2018, should be good for a 5%-10% boost in its share price, perhaps more.

At these prices, GE could very well surprise in 2018.

As of this writing, Will Ashworth did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.

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