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Morgan Stanley downgrades high flying chip sector to sell: ‘Indicators are flashing red’

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A technician inspects a 300mm silicon wafer at the Applied Materials Maydan Technology Center in Santa Clara, California.

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

A technician inspects a 300mm silicon wafer at the Applied Materials Maydan Technology Center in Santa Clara, California.

Semiconductor stocks have soundly outperformed the market for years, but Morgan Stanley is now warning the red-hot sector has topped out.

The firm lowered its rating to cautious from in line for the semiconductor industry, citing rising chip inventory levels. The cautious ranking is Morgan Stanley’s lowest rating and means its analyst believes the sector will underperform the market over the next 12 to 18 months.

“The semiconductor cycle is showing signs of overheating. … Cyclical indicators are flashing red and any contraction in lead times and/or demand slowdown could lead to a significant inventory correction,” analyst Joseph Moore said in a note to clients Thursday. “Furthermore, elevated inventory and stretched lead times leave no margin for error as any lead time adjustment or demand slowdown could drive a meaningful correction. Risk/reward is the poorest it has been in 3 years.”

The iShares PHLX Semiconductor ETF is up 12 percent year to date through Wednesday compared with the S&P 500’s 7 percent return. Moore noted the PHLX Semiconductor Sector Index is up about 200 percent over the last five years compared with the market’s nearly 70 percent gain.

The analyst said inventory levels at chip distributors are at a 10-year high.

As a result, Morgan Stanley’s median earnings per share estimates for chip stocks are 2 percent below the Wall Street average for the second half of this year and 4 percent below the consensus for 2019.

“Given the risks we see to semiconductor companies from an overheated semi cycle, we have been conservative in our estimates for broad-based companies,” Moore said.

In terms of individual stocks, the firm is lowering its rating to equal weight from overweight for Applied Materials. Morgan Stanley also reduced its rating to underweight from equal weight for On Semiconductor.

— CNBC’s
Michael Bloom
contributed to this story.



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Three options strategies for the week: August 20

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The “Options Action” traders share three options trading strategies to kick off the week.

Dan Nathan recommends a call spread in Alibaba.

Mike Khouw recommends a put spread in the Energy ETF

Mike Khouw recommends an iron condor strategy in the Russell 2000 ETF

Trader disclosure: On July 17, 2018, the following stocks and commodities mentioned or intended to be mentioned on CNBC’s “Options Action” were owned by the “Options Action” traders: Dan Nathan is long XLF Sept put spread. Dan is long CAT put spread. Dan is long QQQ Sept put spread. Dan is long SMH Oct put spread. Carter disclosures not available. Long S&P, HAL. Bearish on TSLA.



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cornhole wants to make it to the big leagues

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Ankit Mittal, of Ellicott City, Md., tosses a bean bag as his friend Shean Flynn, of Newport News, Va., waves his Terrible Towel as the two were playing Corn Hole while enjoying tailgating before the game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Washington Redskins at FedEx Field in Landover, Md.

Ricky Carioti | The Washington Post | Getty Images

Ankit Mittal, of Ellicott City, Md., tosses a bean bag as his friend Shean Flynn, of Newport News, Va., waves his Terrible Towel as the two were playing Corn Hole while enjoying tailgating before the game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Washington Redskins at FedEx Field in Landover, Md.

Every day after he leaves his job as a warehouse general manager, Cody Henderson runs up to three miles. Then, he sets up cornhole boards and practices throwing beanbags for a couple hours, focusing on timing, balance and precision.

“It helps a lot with the endurance and mental game,” Henderson, 27, told CNBC. “If you can sit there and not get bored in a quiet area for two or three hours, you are really going to set yourself up to succeed on the pro level.”

Succeed he has. Henderson, who lives in Jackson, Ohio, is the top-ranked player out of the 20,000 pros in the American Cornhole League (ACL). He says he earned between $20,000 and $25,000 in prize money last year. He’s peaking just as the sport is surging in popularity.

While cornhole is generally thought of as a beanbag tossing game played at family gatherings or tailgate parties, it’s gotten so big that players like Henderson are making their way to ESPN. During last year’s The Ocho, a one-day event for alternative sports on ESPN 2, the Championship of Bags was the most viewed competition.

In the 18 to 49 age group, more peopled watched cornhole on that day than the competing game coverage of Major League Baseball, the WNBA or the final stage of the Tour de France, according to Sports Media Watch.

For Henderson, cornhole requires 20 hours a week of training and tournaments on weekends. Still, he said most people don’t take him seriously when he says he plays professionally.

“They’ll say, ‘Oh yeah really?’ and just change the subject,” he said. “When people were seeing me on ESPN, everyone’s attitude changed.”



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TiVo falls on report Amazon is developing live TV recording device

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TIVO, Inc. gave a way free TIVO (DVR) Digital Video Recorder, boxes to thousands of happy Comcast Cable customers, who also donated a toy or clothing for charity outside their corporate headquarters.

Kim Kulish | Corbis | Getty Images

TIVO, Inc. gave a way free TIVO (DVR) Digital Video Recorder, boxes to thousands of happy Comcast Cable customers, who also donated a toy or clothing for charity outside their corporate headquarters.

Shares of TiVo fell as much as 10 percent in afternoon trading Friday following a Bloomberg report that Amazon is eyeing a live TV recording device.

TiVo pared losses and closed just 4 percent down at $12.20. The drop extends a challenging run for TiVo, which is now off 20 percent in 2018 and 30 percent in the last 12 months.

Amazon is known to scare investors and send stocks tumbling with news of a planned entrance into a new industry. Earlier this week, movie theater stocks dropped on a report that Amazon is considering a bid for Landmark Theaters.

Representatives for Amazon and TiVo were not immediately available to comment.



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