Reward Investors with Innovation Instead of Stock Buybacks

Jun 8, 2023 | Bubble Monitor, No Bull Economics

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Unemployment claims surged to the highest level since October 2021, exceeding forecasts and sending stocks higher. Precursor to a Fed rate cut? Not likely, especially with a conflicting signal in the form of higher payroll data.

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Company Spotlight

While wholesale food supplier, Sysco Corp, has been using a lot of its cash for dividends & stock buybacks, the market has punished its stock relative to its peers who have been less generous to shareholders. Sysco could better serve shareholders by investing more in its own business.

  • Sysco’s financial performance benchmarks evenly against its peer group (Performance Food Group & US Food Holdings) in terms of sales growth, EBITDA margin & leverage levels.
  • All the same, Sysco enjoys greater scale & a significantly higher return on invested capital (ROIC) while also returning a lot more cash to shareholders as outlined below.
  • In any case, the market has punished SYY shares to the point that its EV/LTM EBITDA valuation has dropped from 19x in 2021 to 13x more currently (still slightly ahead of a 12x multiple for US Foods & 10x for Performance Food).   
  • This suggests that Sysco could do better for its shareholders by increasing its cash allocation towards capex (and away from dividends & buybacks) to leverage an ROIC which is 2x+ higher than its competitors. 

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Premium Posts

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Walmart’s 6/2/23 Special Call

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15 Second Posts

2Q23 Retail Same Store Sales

NoBull’s Retail Same Store Sales Report benchmarks 80+ large consumer retail companies by domestic same store sales including annual (2019 – 2022) and quarterly results (2Q22 to 2Q23).

Walmart Investor Presentation: Inflation Here to Stay

While general merchandise prices are lower y/y, they remain elevated compared to 2 years ago. As Walmart does not believe general merchandise and food (dry grocery) & consumable prices are ever going to completely disinflate, management suggests the need for a country-wide wage increase rebalancing.

Interesting Conversation with Fed Chair Powell

Okay, Powell didn’t actually take our call, but we offer a transcript of a potential discussion between the Fed Chair and John Q. Public. It’s very insightful, so please read on.

The Problem with Investment Diversification

Every investment advisor and business student knows that portfolio diversification is key to wealth building. Show me an investor who can beat the S&P 500 Index by buying a few handpicked stocks and I will show you a hedge fund manager in the making. However, there is a huge problem with this strategy that no one is talking about.

Part 3: Analyzing Performance of Low-Income Oriented Retail Companies

We created an index for the financial performance of 5 low-income oriented retail companies to assess the health of this demo. While we recognize that these companies have benefited from the trade-down of higher-income consumers, things look reasonable at least through calendar 2Q23. 

Part 2: Incremental Interest Payments Squeeze Disposable Income

In this post, we quantify the pressure on disposable income driven by credit card & auto loan payment increases since the onset of the Fed rate hikes in early 2022 in addition to the impact of the coming resumption of student loan payments in October 2023.

Part 1: Keeping an Eye on the Consumer’s Top-Line

The consumer’s top-line benefits from a high employment rate, generous raises, and a healthy savings rate which indicates an income surplus.

Teenage Wasteland No More

The American youth (15 – 24-year-old) unemployment rate makes our country look downright productive compared to the rest of the world!

The Fight for Global Manufacturing Gets Personal

Post-covid U.S. exports of goods & services have skyrocketed as American companies have worked hard to onshore their supply chains, providing them with products to sell overseas. Correspondingly, U.S. imports from China have fallen considerably since late 2022 after China’s extended covid lockdowns left their American customers without product to sell.  

China’s Deflation Looks Pretty Good Compared to U.S. Inflation

While the U.S. has been suffering from severe post-covid inflation, China’s prices have been spiraling lower. What’s up with that?

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