Investors sent the stock market into a panic last week, selling their stocks after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke reported that free money and high liquidity are about to come to an end. Bernanke indicated that if economic data continue to improve, the Fed will begin pulling back on its $85 billion per month buying program, with plans to wrap it up entirely next year.
The Fed assumes that the economy is gaining strength and that the future outlook for stocks is inviting. Investors should consider the sell-off an opportunity to buy high-quality stocks that are leaders in their class, because the turbulence won’t last.
Two Town Crier “50” stocks made headlines last week.
• Adobe Systems Inc. (ADBE; $43.94) reported second-quarter profits that exceeded analysts’ estimates. Subscribers continue to sign up for Adobe’s cloud computing services, with the company adding 221,000 Creative Cloud subscribers last quarter for a total of 700,000.
Adobe forecast sales of $975 million to $1.03 billion and earnings of 29-35 cents a share for the current fiscal quarter.
According to company officials, 12.8 million customers are using Adobe’s desktop products, 8.4 million via suites that bundle programs and 4.4 million via individual tools. While Adobe predicts 4 million subscribers for its cloud service by the end of 2015, there is a potential market of 8 million creative professionals for the programs.
Adobe faces a fearsome competitor for cloud computing services in Oracle Corp., but many analysts are upgrading Adobe stock because of the potential for a billion-dollar recurring revenue stream. The mean target price for Adobe stock is $47.67 per share, with a high target of $58.
• Apple Inc. (AAPL; $403.18) officials announced last week that the company signed a contract with the Los Angeles Board of Education to provide iPads to every student on 47 campuses beginning in the fall – a $30 million commitment. The board voted unanimously to supply the iPads.
“The iPad rated the best in quality, was the least-expensive option and received the highest scoring by a review panel that included students and teachers,” said Jamie Aquino, the Los Angeles Unified School District’s superintendent of instruction.
Apple is expected to roll out new models in the fall, including the iPhone5S with new fingerprint technology and larger screens as well as a cheaper version in five to six colors to differentiate it from the more expensive models. The cheaper model is necessary to compete in China and India.
In its latest earnings report, Apple CEO Tim Cook revealed that the company would expand its share buyback program from $10 billion to $60 billion. Cook also reported a 15 percent increase in Apple’s dividend, bringing the quarterly payout to $3.05.
Apple’s revenue growth has declined from the plush days of 2010, when the company’s fortunes rode high on the sales of iPads and iPhones and its share price topped $700.
Today, just 75 percent of the 68 analysts covering Apple consider the stock a buy, with most concerned about the e-book price-fixing scandal and/or the U.S. International Trade Commission’s ruling that Apple violated Samsung patents.