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Hilton, Toll, Vale, Xilinx and Arista highlighted as Zacks Bull and Bear of the Day

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For Immediate Release

Chicago, IL – March 19, 2019 – Zacks Equity Research Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. (HLT - Free Report) as the Bull of the Day, Toll Brothers, Inc. (TOL - Free Report) as the Bear of the Day. In addition, Zacks Equity Research provides analysis on Vale (VALE - Free Report) , Xilinx (XLNX - Free Report) and Arista Networks (ANET - Free Report) .

Here is a synopsis of all five stocks:

Bull of the Day:

Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. isn't afraid of Airbnb as it continues to launch new hotel brands. This Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) is expected to grow earnings by the double digits in both 2019 and 2020.

Hilton is a hospitality company with 16 brands covering more than 5,600 properties in 113 countries and territories. It operates a popular loyalty program, Hilton Honors, with more than 85 million members.

Another Earnings Beat in Q4

On Feb 13, Hilton reported its fourth quarter results and blew by the Zacks Consensus Estimate for the 10th quarter in a row.

Earnings were $0.79 versus the consensus of $0.69.

System-wide comparable RevPAR rose 2% for the quarter and 3% for the year. It saw strength in the international hotels, particularly in Europe.

It also launched a new luxury collection brand, LXR Hotels & Resorts, in the quarter. Currently LXR Hotels has only one open location, in Dubai, but will be launching its second property, The Biltmore in Mayfair London. Both of these hotels were conversions.

In the fourth quarter, Hilton opened 142 new hotels totaling 22,500 rooms. For the full year, it opened over 450 new hotels. Conversions from non-Hilton brands made up nearly 25% of the new rooms opened during the year.

Hilton also expanded to 8 new countries and territories in 2018.

Analysts Bullish on 2019

Hilton gave guidance of system-wide RevPAR of between 1% and 3%.

Earnings, adjusted for special items, is projected to be between $3.66 and $3.78.

This was well above consensus of just $3.10.

Therefore, it's not surprising that the analysts all raised their estimates following the report. 8 estimates were raised in the last 2 months which pushed the Zacks Consensus up to $3.76 from $3.10. That's at the high end of the company's guidance range.

It's also a 34.7% increase in earnings.

Analysts are bullish on 2020 too. 5 estimates were raised since the report for 2020 with the Zacks Consensus jumping to $4.17 from $3.64. That's another gain of 11%.

Shares Up Big in 2019

Like many stocks, Hilton shares have surged 20.1% year-to-date. But on a 2-year basis, the shares have been trading in a narrow trading range.

Can they break out?

They're not cheap, with a forward P/E of 22.8.

However, the company is shareholder friendly. It pays a dividend, currently yielding 0.7%.

It's also buying back shares. To date, it has purchased $2.8 billion in shares and still has another $408 million remaining on its program.

Travel is still hot. For those looking for experienced players in hospitality, then Hilton is one to keep on your short list.

Bear of the Day:

Toll Brothers, Inc. is dealing with big uncertainty in the home buying market. This Zacks Rank #5 (Strong Sell) was only recently able to give guidance for the quarter, and not the year.

Toll Brothers builds luxury homes in the United States. It serves move-up, empty-nester, active-adult and second home buyers as well as renters in urban and suburban markets.

It operates in 22 states and the District of Columbia.

Beat Again in the Fiscal Fourth Quarter

On Feb 26, Toll Brothers reported its first quarter fiscal 2019 results and beat the Zacks Consensus by 13 cents. Earnings were $0.76 versus the consensus of $0.63.

It was the fifth beat in a row.

Home sales revenue were up 12% to $1.32 billion as home building deliveries jumped 8% to 1,530.

Net signed contracts fell 31% to $1.16 billion with contract units down 24% to 1,379.

It blamed the fall in contracts on three things: difficult year-over-year comparison, a lack of current inventory in certain locations and the industry-wide slowdown that began in the second half of 2018.

Won't Guide for the Full Year

It did see improving demand trends during the month of February, but it wasn't enough to convince the company that the worst was over.

It would only offer guidance for the second quarter, and not the entire fiscal year.

It expects deliveries between 1,650 and 1,850 units with an average price of between $860,000 and $890,000.

Gross margins are expected at about 23.1%, that's up from 22.5% in the year ago quarter.

As a reminder that this isn't anything like the 2008 slowdown and that the home builders are much better managed, Toll's CFO, Martin Connor, stated, “Our balance sheet remains solid. We ended our first quarter with total liquidity of $1.9 billion, including over $800 million of cash and cash equivalents and $1.12 billion available under our revolving bank credit facility. We finished the quarter with a book value per share of approximately $33."

Estimates Slashed

The analysts didn't like what they heard so they erred on the side of caution and cut full year estimates.

6 estimates have been cut in the last month for fiscal 2019, pushing the Zacks Consensus down to $4.48 from $4.70 during that time. That's an earnings decline of 4.8% as it made $4.71 last year.

6 estimates have also been cut on 2020 at the same time. The Zacks Consensus Estimate has fallen to $4.52 from $4.88 in the last 30 days.

Add Juice to This Script: Global Week Ahead

In the Global Week Ahead, focus on the money. Central Bank money, that is.

First quarter earnings projections and GDP growth rates out there aren’t pretty.

But Bulls! Do not panic. And Bears? Do not celebrate. It has already come to pass. The Money Gods introduced some crafty stage theatrics. The Deus Ex-Machina already proceeded to shower the global growth stage with more juice.

Deus Ex-Machina translates to “God from the Machine”

"Machine," in this case, refers to the crane that held a god over the stage in ancient Greek and Roman drama.

The literary device of Deus Ex-Machina means to solve a seemingly intractable problem in a plot -- by adding in an unexpected character, object, or situation.

Deus Ex-Machina twists often have the sense of being quite contrived. It seems like the author resorted to something he or she did not set up properly plot-wise.

That is clearly the case with 2019. No one wanted weak fundamental data. Every one got weak fundamental data.

A mid-week FOMC meeting kicks off the central bank money festivities

On Wednesday, the FOMC’s latest Summary of Economic Projections is likely to tamp down the “dot plot.” This shows Fed Funds rate projections. Still, it would be a surprise to see all FOMC policy hikes removed for 2019.

Want Powell’s main message after the policy statement? It won’t be a surprise. His statement should be the FOMC doesn’t think it is done hiking. But it is nearing “the neutral rate” and remains “patient” towards timing its next move.

  • Greater intrigue surrounds what the Fed does about its huge balance sheet.
  • After Powell & Co. finish up late on Wednesday, there is the usual flurry of secondary global monetary policy decisions elsewhere—
  • In Europe, the Bank of England (there is a +0.75% policy rate here), Norges Bank (+1.0%), Russia (+7.75%), and the Swiss National Bank (-0.75%) issue monetary policy decisions. Expect no policy change.
  • In Asia, Bank Indonesia (+6.0%), the Philippines’ Central Bank (+4.75%), Taiwan’s Central Bank, and the Bank of Thailand (+1.75%) are players. Again, expect no change.
  • In Latin America, watch Brazil’s SELIC rate (6.5%). Once again, expect no change.

No money act looks meaningful this time around. Juice has already been added to the 2019 plot.

I have said it before, and I will say it again. You and I trade in a tidy fishbowl, not in the raging open ocean. That is my idiom for the deus ex-machina.

Next, I list Reuters’ five big world market themes. These are the ones most likely to dominate the thinking of investors and traders in the Global Week Ahead.

I re-ordered them, to show the relative importance for equity markets.

(1) FOMC Meeting Ends Wednesday

U.S. unemployment is plumbing its lowest level in half a century, wages are ticking up but the Federal Reserve, meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday, is not poised to snatch away the proverbial punch bowl.

On Wall Street at least, the Fed’s dovish 2019 conversion is paying off: The S&P 500 is up about 6 percent since the Fed’s Jan 30 meeting signaled it was putting in abeyance a tightening policy that began in 2015.

Labor shortages notwithstanding, the slowing economy is keeping prices in check, giving the central bank leeway to stand pat on interest rates after hiking four times in 2018. Compared to the Fed’s 2 percent inflation target, producer inflation was up 1.9 percent in the year to February, while consumer inflation rose just 1.5 percent to its smallest annual gain in 2 1/2 years.

The next reading of the Fed’s preferred inflation measure, the core personal consumption expenditures price index, is due on March 29. But that gauge rose 1.9 percent year-year in December.

Already, money markets are building in some easing in 2020. By then, the Fed should have completed a review of how it manages its policy mandate of keeping prices stable and employment high.

(2) Is Europe’s Economy Bottoming?

It’s been a rough old time for Europe’s economy, with momentum steadily waning last year even as the United States powered ahead. Growth warnings issued by the OECD and the European Central Bank have rattled investors further this year, as they try to assess what kind of toll the Eurozone has suffered from trade wars, Brexit and Italian debt concerns.

But finally! There are some signs the nasty surprises are fading. Citi’s well-known economic surprise index — a gauge showing how much economists have been over- or underestimating economic performance compared to what indicators actually deliver — now shows a cross-over between the Eurozone and the United States.

That means negative surprises from economic indicators in the world’s top economy have worsened dramatically in recent weeks. Eurozone data misses, meanwhile, have been less bad than previously recorded.

Whether this run continues or not will become evident in coming days. First up on Tuesday, comes Germany’s ZEW economic index. Purchasing manager indexes, a crucial forward-looking gauge, will be released on Friday from the United States, the Eurozone and Japan.

(3) Where Does Japan’s Economy Go from Here?

To many economists, the Bank of Japan’s forecasts have long seemed to be on the optimistic side. The key difference in views was the global outlook. Well, the world economy is slowing down and even if Japanese companies are awash with cash and no major central bank runs a looser policy than the BOJ, the No. 3 economy is still feeling the pinch.

What’s worse, inflation encounters less resistance on the downside than it does on the upside. So the BOJ is well and truly in a corner. There was little it could do at its March meeting save keeping policy unchanged and tempering its economic outlook predictions. But might the BOJ be forced to resort to further policy easing? That question is being asked of the ECB too, while central banks elsewhere — from Australia to the United States — may also have to cut rates.

Upcoming data on Japan’s trade and price growth will help investors determine what happens next. Policymakers will also be hoping for a resolution soon to the U.S.-China trade dispute. The data could intensify the debate on whether the BOJ’s dogged adherence to a 2 percent inflation target means anything — finance minister Taro Aso predicted “things could go wrong” if the BOJ hung on to that goal.

(4) A Third Try at Brexit

If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again. And again and again. The UK Parliament has voted to extend the March 29 exit date but Prime Minister Theresa May is still hoping to railroad lawmakers into approving the EU divorce deal she’s negotiated. The unpopular agreement has already been heavily rejected twice but prospects of a long delay or even another referendum that may reverse Brexit could well swing eurosceptic Tories over to her side. So a third “meaningful” vote, dubbed MV3, is planned for the coming week. If that fails, well, MV4 is already being touted.

There is, of course, no guarantee an exasperated EU will play ball — all 27 remaining members have to agree the extension. And there are doubts a three-month delay will break the deadlock. If MV3 fails, the EU’s March 21 summit will be key, first to see if it agrees an extension and second, whether it presses Britain for a delay of one year or more.

With the parliamentary votes, meaningful or otherwise, grabbing the limelight, there’s probably not much the Bank of England can add at its meeting on March 21. It’s already said no-deal Brexit is a bad idea; any clarity on its policy intentions is likely only after the manner and timing of Brexit becomes evident.

(5) The Boeing Crisis

President Trump has told Boeing to “figure it out fast.” That’s probably good advice for the company, a long-standing stock market darling that’s lost almost $28 billion, or 13 percent of its value, since the March 10 Ethiopian Airlines’ crash.

The disaster has prompted country after country into grounding Boeing’s fleet of 737 MAX aircraft — the model involved in the Ethiopian crash and another recent one in Indonesia. Possible links between the accidents have rocked the aviation industry, scared passengers worldwide, and left the company scrambling to prove the safety of its best-selling model that was intended to be the standard for decades.

Before the crash, Boeing was the seventh most valued stock on the Dow Jones, but it’s fallen to 14th. Its shares hit record highs just a week before the crash, having risen a stunning 52 percent since the end of December. They are still up almost 20 percent year-to-date.

So what’s next? Moody’s reckons Boeing will overcome the near-term challenges. The question for investors is whether the share price slide takes into account the damage to the bottom line and potential legal exposure. Analysts will be assessing the possible fallout; chances are, some earnings downgrades will start coming through.

Top Zacks #1 Rank (STRONG BUY) Stocks—

(1) Vale: Yes, it is actually on our #1 list. But the weekend’s court order shutting more of its iron ore mines should take the stock down.

I see a Zacks VGM score of A too. That’s just more good stock fundamentals to ignore, when the actual company is struggling.

(2) Xilinx: There will be a big Micron EPS report after the market close on Wednesday, March 20th. This is the top semiconductor stock at the moment.
However, it has a Zacks VGM score of F.

(3) Arista Networks: This is a $22B market cap stock in the hot communication components industry. It is worth checking out. The share price is a mind-boggling $296, though.

You are coming late to the party. The Zacks VGM score is D.

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