What this guy learned about the Apple Watch after three days.
For the better part of the last century, crude oil prices have swung like a pendulum, pushing and pulling the fortunes of nations. More often than not, global supplies of the volatile commodity were controlled by the rulers of desert domains who would otherwise have been powerless had it not been for the oil that bubbled beneath their thrones.
That pendulum is on the move again, sending the price of oil cascading to less than $45 this winter from more than $100 a barrel last June, and it may fall further in the months ahead.
On the surface, this latest oil boom gone bust may feel like history repeating itself, but there is a vital difference this time: The center of the oil world has spun from the sands of Saudi Arabia to the shale oil fields of Texas and North Dakota, a giant new oil patch some wildcatters have begun to call “Cowboyistan.
”Put another way, the United States is overtaking the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries as the vital global swing producer that determines prices. That remarkable change has been building since 2008, as American shale fields accounted for roughly half of the world’s oil production growth while American petroleum output nearly doubled.
And shale production methods have proven highly adaptable to market conditions. Not coincidentally, nearly all the advantages of the price swing are moving in Washington’s direction.
Most American consumers and industries have benefited from a sharp drop in gasoline prices and other energy costs. And abroad, the economies of oil-producing adversaries like Russia and Venezuela are reeling.
Rene G. Ortiz, a former Ecuadorean oil minister who also once served as OPEC’s secretary general, noted that as recently as late 2008 and 2009, the last time oil prices slumped, OPEC cut oil production by four million barrels a day to support prices, and the move stabilized the market in a relatively short time.
“Why doesn’t Saudi Arabia think that couldn’t work again today?” Mr. Ortiz asked. “Because of the soaring U.S. production. Today’s OPEC is thinking about market fundamentals rather than manipulating the market because it doesn’t have the same power it once had.”
Last Nov. 27 was a turning point for OPEC at its meeting in Vienna. It was a turbulent session, though behind closed doors, where the firebrand oil ministers of Venezuela and Iran faced off with the dour Saudis and their Persian Gulf allies. The Venezuelans and Iranians, backed by Algeria, Nigeria and a few other countries that need every cent they can get from their oil exports, argued that OPEC should slash production to strengthen prices exactly as the cartel did when the crude price tumbled during the Asian financial crisis in the late 1990s, and again after the tech bubble popped in the early 2000s, and finally as it did again just six years ago.From CNN:
Americans see ISIS as a bigger threat to the United States than Iran, Russia, North Korea or China, according to a new CNN/ORC poll. Overall, 68% say ISIS is a very serious threat, compared with just 39% who say so about Iran, 32% about North Korea, 25% on Russia and 18% on China. Nearly 9 in 10 see ISIS as at least a moderately serious threat.The president sees ISIS as a minor threat that we could take out any time we want. The fathomless ignorance of President Obama -- the WSJ.
Apple will likely report a 2Q15 beat to consensus EPS of $2.14 this coming Monday [after market close, $2.15] on strong revenue growth (up 24% from last year) and margin trends (41.0% vs. 39.3% last year). The iPhone will be the primary focus as investors look for any indication of continued above average sales trends compared to previous iPhone cycles. While recent iPhone sales share in the U.S. and Europe appear slightly ahead of previous years, strong sales in China will be the primary driver behind 35% growth in iPhone unit sales. ]
In addition to earnings, Apple is expected to announce an updated capital return program.
The Mac and iPad are becoming less of a factor for earnings as those two product categories now represent a smaller percentage of Apple's overall business. It will be difficult to get Apple Watch sales expectations from guidance, but management may give commentary on how the Watch launch is proceeding. Similar to last quarter, the impact from a strong dollar will be reflected in management's revenue and margin guidance for 3Q15.Remember those big new rigs in the Bakken? Zacks reports:
Oil and gas drilling contractor Helmerich & Payne Inc. HP reported better-than-expected results for the second quarter of fiscal 2015 (three months ended Mar 31, 2015), owing to higher average rig margin per day from the company’s U.S. Land Operations unit. This was partially offset by lower demand for drilling activities following weak oil prices.
Quarterly earnings per share from continuing operations (excluding special items) came in at 96 cents, which surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 79 cents. However, compared with the year-ago adjusted profit, the results fell almost 34% from $1.45.Starbucks? Stunning:
In a report published Friday, Barclays analyst Jeffrey Bernstein commented on Starbucks Corporation's second quarter results, which were "stunning," led by upside to comps in the core Americas and U.S. Bernstein noted that Starbucks' second quarter Americas comp of 7 percent was above his expectations and consensus estimates of 5 percent.
The analyst added that comp growth was distributed across all dayparts, geographies and platforms (food and beverage), while demonstrating strong growth during peak times, which implies additional room for capacity.
Food contributed 2 percent to the comps (in-line with recent trends), while new premium beverage products drove average check growth.
Looking forward to fiscal 2016, Bernstein sees mobile order and pay being a "key initiative" to support accelerated comp growth. As such, the company can return to a "beat and raise" scenario in years past.