JT’s DAILY (WEEKLY as of 12/9/2013) BLOG for Month Of February 2018

Note: All previous month's posts are available in the archives, as noted above. 

All postings for the month are available here, sorted in descending order - i.e. most recent at the top.

1st Posting for Week Beginning Tuesday 02/20/2018

Posted Monday 02/19/2018 06:00 AM

Starting with Friday February 9, the Dow Industrials Index has gained six days in a row, recovering over 1300 points, as well as closing above the symbolic 25000 level the past two trading days. The crypto currencies have similarly stopped declining, with Bitcoin regaining the$10000 level by the end of last week.  Volatility remains high, and the declines could resume at any time, but for the moment, Armageddon has been canceled, or at least postponed.

As we move past the beginning of the year, the dividend cycles resume their usual regularity. Stocks on my lists scheduled to go ex-dividend next week are as follows, with yield as of Friday’s close indicated.

Horizon Technology Finance (HRZN), 2/20/2018, 10.75%. HRZN is a monthly payer.

Boardwalk Pipeline Partners L P (BWP), 2/21/2018, 3.59%.

Main Street Capital (MAIN), 2/21/2018, 6.17%. MAIN is a monthly payer.

Hershey Co (HSY), 2/22/2018, 2.60%.

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), 2/22/2018, 3.59%.

Diebold Nixdorf (DBD), 2/23/2018, 2.52%.

General Electric (GE), 2/23/2018, 3.23%. GE holds on to the money for a while, the shareholders won’t receive their dough until 4/25/2018. As far as I know, GE is the record holder for quarterly payouts when it comes to the elapsed time they take to make good on their dividend commitment.

Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), 2/26/2018, 2.56%.

NextEra Energy (NEE), 2/26/2018, 2.54%.

For completeness, two stocks I follow went ex-dividend recently but were not listed in my recent weekly updates. This can happen when a firm announces just before the ex-dividend date, since I only scan for ex-dividend dates once a week. The two stocks are:

Buckeye Partners L P (BPL), ex-dividend date 2/16/2018, yield 10.13%.

Senior Housing Properties Trust (SNH), ex-dividend date 1/26/2018, yield 9.56%.

All 19 stocks listed last week as scheduled to report did so as expected. See last week’s posting for the names and dates. Rather than repeat here information that is abundantly available elsewhere, I point the reader desiring specifics to the firms’ press releases, available on their web sites, compilations of articles on brokerage web sites, the financial press web sites, or my preferred resource, Seeking Alpha. In many cases a transcript of the earnings teleconference with analysts is available on Seeking Alpha.

As for the week coming up, another 19 firms I track are scheduled to report, listed as follows by date.

2/19/2018

Pan American Silver (PAAS).

2/20/2018

Crestwood Equity Partners L P (CEQP), Duke Energy (DUK), Walmart (WMT).

2/21/2018

Southern Co (SO), Energy Transfer Partners L P (ETP), Energy Transfer Equity L P (ETE), Noble Corp PLC (NE), Realty Income (O).

2/22/2018

Newmont Mining (NEM), SCANA (SCG), Welltower (HCN), Windstream Holdings (WIN), Alliant Energy (LNT), Hercules Capital (HTGC), Main Street Capital (MAIN).

2/23/2018

Entergy (ETR), Public Service Enterprise Group (PEG).

Ratings on my stocks from last week are listed following. Note my usual admonition applies, which is that I list these as being of interest, not as actionable advice.   

Buckeye Partners L P (BPL) was reiterated at Buy at Stifel.

Cisco Systems (CSCO) was upgraded to Buy at Nomura.

General Electric (GE) was reiterated at UnderWeight at JP Morgan.

Pepsico (PEP) was reiterated at Positive at Susquehanna.

Total S A (TOT) was upgraded from OutPerform to Strong Buy at Raymond James, and from Equal Weight to OverWeight at Morgan Stanley.

Annaly Capital Management (NLY) was upgraded from Sell to Neutral at Compass Point.

Southern Co (SO) was reiterated at UnderWeight at Morgan Stanley.

3M Co (MMM) was upgraded from Hold to Buy at Deutsche Bank.

Statoil (STO) was upgraded from UnderWeight to Equal Weight at Morgan Stanley.

Cisco Systems (CSCO) was reiterated at Buy at Citigroup.

Emerson Electric (EMR) was upgraded from Sector Perform to OutPerform at RBC Capital Markets.        

Diebold Nixdorf (DBD) was upgraded from Hold to Buy at Lake Street.

Valero (VLO) was upgraded from Neutral to Buy at Citigroup.

Hershey Co (HSY) was resumed at Neutral AT JP Morgan.

Diebold Nixdorf (DBD) was reiterated at OverWeight at JP Morgan, and OutPerform at Credit Suisse.

Pepsico (PEP) was reiterated at OverWeight at JP Morgan.

General Mills (GIS) was upgraded from Hold to Buy at Jeffries.

HCP Inc (HCP) was reiterated at buy at Stifel.

Digital Realty (DLR) was upgraded from Neutral to Buy at Stifel.

Pepsico (PEP) was downgraded from OutPerform to Inline at Evercore ISI.

Merck (MRK) was reiterated at Market Perform at Leerink Partners.

Merck (MRK) was reiterated at OutPerform at Credit Suisse and BMO Capital.

Tanger Factory Outlet Centers (SKT) was downgraded from Inline to UnderPerform at Evercore ISI Group.

Eaton (ETN) was initiated at UnderWeight at Barclays.

Emerson Electric (EMR) was initiated at OverWeight at Barclays.

Kellogg (K) was reiterated at Neutral at Piper Jaffray.

3M Co (MMM) was initiated at UnderWeight at Barclays.

General Electric (GE) was initiated at Equal Weight at Barclays.

Cisco Systems (CSCO) was reiterated at Hold at Stifel.

Waste Management (WM) was upgraded from Market Perform to OutPerform at Raymond James.

DrPepper Snapple (DPS) was downgraded from Buy to Hold at Jeffries.

Kimco Realty (KIM) was downgraded from Buy to Neutral at BofA/Merrill.

Cisco Systems (CSCO) was reiterated at Buy at Argus.

Well, back to the main topic, the state of the market. Is the dip really over, or is another big drop coming? Frankly, I’m surprise by the quick rebound. The first couple of days I figured were just a “dead cat bounce”, but 6 days in a row, with over 1300 Dow points gained, seems like much more than that. Still, I believe the market is fragile, and it wouldn’t take much to bring on another swoon. Other than REITs and BDCs, there isn’t much available currently at a bargain price, although most stocks are off their recent highs before the big drop. My take is, I’ll have to see much lower prices to be tempted to buy, because with the increase in volatility, I believe better prices will be available in the near future.

JT

1st Posting for Week Beginning Monday 02/12/2018

Posted Sunday 02/11/2018 06:00 PM

The Dow Industrials Index has declined over 2400 points since the closing high of 1/26/2018, with a little over half of that occurring in the week just ended. This was with mostly positive economic readings over the time period. Market volatility has returned with a vengeance after a lengthy period of being nonexistent. The reason most pundits are touting is the prospect of rising interest rates and the out-of-control deficits. While I more or less concur, I believe the extreme partisanship and disfunction in Washington is also a factor.  

Meanwhile, dividends continue to be paid. Stocks on my lists going ex-dividend in the very near future are as follows, with ex-dividend date and current yield indicated:

Welltower (HCN), 2/12/2018, 6.37%.

Valero (VLO), 2/12/2018, 3.69%.

HCP Inc (HCP), 2/14/2018, 6.54%.

MicroSoft (MSFT), 2/14/2018, 1.98%.

Exelon (EXC), 2/14/2018, 6.37%.

Gladstone Investment (GAIN), 2/15/2018, 7.63%. GAIN pays monthly.

Emerson Electric (EMR), 2/15/2018, 2.92%.

Chevron (CVX), 2/15/2018, 3.99%.

3M Co (MMM), 2/15/2018, 2.44%.

Duke Energy (DUK), 2/15/2018, 4.79%.

Unilever (UL), 2/15/2018, 3.14%.

Royal Dutch Shell (RDS.B), 2/15/2018, 5.85%.

Pitney Bowes (PBI), 2/15/2018, 6.15%.

Southern Co (SO), 2/16/2018, 5.35%.

United Parcel Service (UPS), 2/16/2018, 3.33%.

Spectra Energy L P (SEP), 2/16/2018, 7.08%.

All 15 stocks listed last week as scheduled to report did so as expected. See last week’s posting for the names and dates. Rather than repeat here information that is abundantly available elsewhere, I point the reader desiring specifics to the firms’ press releases, available on their web sites, compilations of articles on brokerage web sites, the financial press web sites, or my preferred resource, Seeking Alpha. In many cases a transcript of the earnings teleconference with analysts is available on Seeking Alpha.

Earnings season continues, with another 15 firms I follow scheduled to report in the week ahead, listed as follows by date:

2/12/2018

Boardwalk Pipeline Partners L P (BWP).

2/13/2018

Ares Capital (ARCC), Diebold Nixdorf (DBD), HCP Inc (HCP), Pepsico (PEP).

2/14/2018

Dr Pepper Snapple (DPS), Annaly Capital Management (NLY), CenturyLink (CTL), Cisco Systems (CSCO), Martin Midstream Partners L P (MMLP).

2/15/2018

Kimco Realty (KIM), MFA Financial (MFA), Waste Management (WM), Digital Realty (DLR), Spectra Energy (SEP), Stag Industrial (STAG).

2/16/2018

Coca Cola (KO), Iron Mountain (IRM), J M Smucker Co (SJM).

Ratings on my stocks from last week are listed following. Note my usual admonition applies, which is that I list these as being of interest, not as actionable advice.   

Vodafone (VOD) was upgraded from Add to Buy at Numis.

Eaton (ETN) was upgraded from Hold to Buy at Stifel.

Kellogg (K) was initiated at Buy at Pivotal Research Group.

ExxonMobil (XOM) was reiterated at Neutral at Credit Suisse.

Blackstone Group L P (BX) was downgraded from OverWeight to Neutral at JP Morgan.

Freeport McMoRan (FCX) was reiterated at Hold at Stifel.

Blackrock Capital Investment (BKCC) was upgraded from Neutral to OverWeight at JP Morgan.

ExxonMobil (XOM) was downgraded from OverWeight to UnderWeight at Barclays.

MicroSoft (MSFT) was reiterated at Buy at Argus.

Sysco (SYY) was reiterated at Buy at Pivotal Research Group.

McDonalds (MCD) was reiterated at Neutral at Citigroup.

Hercules Capital (HTGC) was upgraded from Hold to Buy at Sandler O’Neill.

Chevron (CVX), Dr Pepper Snapple (DPS) were both upgraded from Equal Weight to OverWeight at Barclays.

Hershey Co (HSY) was reiterated at Buy at Argus.

Merck (MRK) was reiterated at Market Perform at Leerink Swann.

ExxonMobil (XOM) was downgraded from OverWeight to UnderWeight at Barclays.

Nucor (NUE) was reiterated at Equal Weight at Morgan Stanley.

Kellogg (K) was reiterated at Neutral at Credit Suisse.

Sysco (SYY) was reiterated at Buy at Loop Capital and BofA/Merrill.

Diebold Nixdorf (DBD) was initiated at Neutral at DA Davidson.

Hercules Capital (HTGC) was upgraded from Neutral to OutPerform at Wedbush.

Gladstone Investment (GAIN) was upgraded from Neutral to Buy at Ladenburg Thalmann.

Cisco Systems (CSCO) was initiated at Buy at Goldman.

Chevron (CVX) was upgraded from Market Perform to OutPerform at Wells Fargo.

Merck (MRK) was reiterated at Equal Weight at Morgan Stanley.

Plains All American Pipeline L P (PAA) was reiterated at Hold at Stifel.

Kellogg (K) was initiated at Buy at Pivotal Research Group.

Exelon (EXC) was reiterated at Equal Weight at Morgan Stanley.

Plains All American Pipeline L P (PAA) was reiterated at Neutral at BofA/Merrill.

Apollo Investment (AINV) was upgraded from Market Perform to OutPerform at Wells Fargo.

Plains All American Pipeline L P (PAA) was upgraded from Neutral to Buy at Seaport Global Securities.

Total S A (TOT) was reiterated at OutPerform at Cowen.

Chevron (CVX) was upgraded from UnderPerform to Sector Perform at RBC Capital Markets.

Emerson Electric (EMR) was upgraded from Neutral to OverWeight at JP Morgan.

Kellogg (K) was reiterated at Buy at Citigroup.

PennantPark (PNNT) was upgraded from Neutral to Buy at Ladenburg Thalmann.

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) was upgraded from Reduce to Hold at Kepler.

ConocoPhillips (COP) was reiterated t Buy at Citigroup.

Exelon (EXC) was reiterated at OverWeight at KeyBanc.

NuStar Energy L P (NS) was reiterated at Neutral at Citigroup.

Total S A (TOT) was upgraded from Market Perform to OutPerform at Bernstein.

Investors continued to be re-introduced to volatility last week, with two of the five days experiencing declines exceeding 1000 points on the Dow Industrials Index. The general consensus seems to be that it was time for a pullback, as prices were nearing “bubble” territory, at least on the favored sectors. Energy, particularly MLPs, and REITs certainly weren’t among the favored groups, but they declined as well, presenting some reasonable buy prices. But don’t expect a quick rebound, these sectors are not favored for valid reasons. The larger question, is this the start of a 2008-2009 style collapse, or more of a 1987 style V-shaped major but brief drop, remains unanswered. While there are many opinions, few are treating this as the beginning of Armageddon, observing that the economy is doing well, and has actually improved over the last year. Still, some of the most seasoned and trusted observers warn that all is not well, with public and private debt at all-time highs, and Federal deficits getting worse instead of better during these “good” economic times. The Fed is the wild card here, with stated plans to increase interest rates and reduce the Fed balance sheet simultaneously, in an effort to return to normalcy, coming at just the wrong time, or at least coming too rapidly if now is the right time. My advice remains the same as last week, with one further comment – don’t be in too big of a hurry to take advantage of today’s “bargains”. I’m not sure that this is a time to automatically “buy the dip”.

JT    

1st Posting for Week Beginning Monday 02/05/2018

Posted Sunday 02/04/2018 06:00 AM

Last week stocks registered a decline for the first time in a while, as evidenced by a decline in the Dow Industrials of over 1000 points over the five days, punctuated with a 666 point decline on Friday. Some pundits posited that Friday was caused by a fear that the Fed will more aggressively raise rates and take other hawkish actions in response to the positive Jobs report on Friday. Maybe that was a factor, but I believe the deteriorating political situation and the possibility of a constitutional crisis is having more of an effect than most realize. The current situation is reminiscent of the 70’s crisis, only more serious. Perhaps the market is starting to wake up to the reality of the situation.

Through it all, my dividend payers just keep on paying dividends. Stocks on my lists going ex-dividend in the very near future are as follows, with ex-dividend date and current yield indicated:

Magellan Midstream Partners L P (MMP), 2/5/2018, 5.14%.   

American Midstream Partners L P (AMID), 2/6/2018, 13.17%.

Crestwood Equity Partners L P (CEQP), 2/6/2018, 8.41%.

Martin Midstream Partners L P (MMLP), 2/6/2018, 12.23%.

Intel (INTC), 2/6/2018, 2.52%.

NuStar Energy L P (NS), 2/7/2018, 12.96%.

Archrock Partners L P (APLP), 2/7/2018, 8.22%.

Energy Transfer Partners L P (ETP), 2/7/2018, 11.23%.

Energy Transfer Equity L P (ETE), 2/7/2018, 6.71%.

Amerigas Partners L P (APU), 2/8/2018, 8.07%.

Smucker J M Co (SJM), 2/8/2018, 2.48%.

American Electric Power (AEP), 2/8/2018, 3.66%.

Statoil (STO), 2/8/2018, 3.44%.

Blackstone Group L P (BX), 2/9/2018, 6.01%.

ConocoPhillips (COP), 2/9/2018, 1.92%.

ExxonMobil (XOM), 2/9/2018, 3.46%.

Welltower (HCN), 2/12/2018, 6.00%.

Valero (VLO), 2/12/2018, 3.38%.

All 18 stocks listed last week as scheduled to report did so as expected. See last week’s posting for the names and dates. Rather than repeat here information that is abundantly available elsewhere, I point the reader desiring specifics to the firms’ press releases, available on their web sites, compilations of articles on brokerage web sites, the financial press web sites, or my preferred resource, Seeking Alpha. In many cases a transcript of the earnings teleconference with analysts is available on Seeking Alpha.

Earnings season is upon us once again, as 4th quarter results continue to be posted.  As for the week ahead, another 15 firms are scheduled to report, listed as follows by date:

2/5/2018

Sysco (SYY)

2/6/2018

Emerson Electric (EMR), Plains All American Pipeline L P (PAA), Gladstone Investment (GAIN).

2/7/2018

Apollo Investment (AINV), Exelon (EXC), Sanofi (SNY), PennantPark Investment (PNNT), Prospect Capital (PSEC), GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).

2/8/2018

Kellogg (K), Medical Properties Trust (MPW), Phillip Morris (PM).

2/9/2018

Buckeye Partners L P (BPL), Ventas (VTR).

One thing earnings season brings are lots of analyst upgrades, downgrades, initiations / resumptions of coverage, and reiterations of ratings, as analysts digest the latest earnings reports. Hopefully they are digging into the just-released details and looking past the usual positive spin from management in the conference calls and presentations. Ratings on my stocks from last week are listed following. Note my usual admonition applies, which is that I list these as being of interest, not as actionable advice.      

Kinder Morgan Inc (KMI) was upgraded from Hold to Buy at Argus.

Unilever (UN, UL) was upgraded from Hold to Buy at Investec.

Pepsico (PEP) was initiated at Hold at SunTrust.

Pfizer (PFE) was reiterated at Hold at SunTrust.

Digital Realty (DLR) was upgraded to Neutral at UBS.

DrPepper Snapple (DPS) was downgraded from OutPerform to Market Perform at Wells Fargo.

Intel (ITC) was resumed at Buy at Citigroup.

General Electric (GE) reiterated at Hold at Stifel.

Cisco Systems (CSCO) was initiated at Hold at Loop Capital.

Digital Realty (DLR) was reiterated at OverWeight at Barclays.

Colgate Palmolive (CL) was downgraded from OutPerform to UnderPerform at Exane BNP Paribas.

General Dynamics (GD) was reiterated at Buy at Buckingham Research.

Hershey Co (HSY) was reiterated at Neutral at Susquehanna.

Colgate Palmolive (CL) was reiterated at Neutral at Citigroup.

McDonalds (MCD) was reiterated at OutPerform at Telsey Advisory Group, and at Buy at Nomura.

Nucor (NUE) was reiterated at OutPerform at Credit Suisse.

Sysco (SYY) was reiterated at Buy at Loop Capital.  

Pfizer (PFE) was reiterated at Neutral at Credit Suisse, at OverWeight at Morgan Stanley, and at Market Perform at Leerink Swann.

DrPepper Snapple (DPS) was reiterated at Buy at Stifel.

MicroSoft (MSFT) was reiterated at Buy at Stifel, and at OutPerform at BMO Capital Markets.

Enterprise Products Partners L P (EPD) was reiterated at Buy at Stifel.

AGNC Investment (AGNC) and Annaly Capital (NLY) were both upgraded from UnderPerform to Neutral at BofA/Merrill.

DrPepper Snapple (DPS) was upgraded from Hold to Buy at Gabelli & Co.

AT&T (T) was reiterated at Hold at SunTrust.

Pepsico (PEP) was reiterated at Neutral at Credit Suisse.

American Electric Power (AEP) was initiated at Buy at UBS.

ConocoPhillips (COP) was reiterated at OverWeight at Barclays.

Entergy (ETR) was initiated at Neutral at UBS.

Hershey Co (HSY) was downgraded from OutPerform to Neutral at Credit Suisse, was reiterated at Equal Weight at Barclays, and at UnderWeight at Morgan Stanley.

Alliant Energy (LNT) was initiated at Neutral at UBS.

Altria (MO) was reiterated at OverWeight at Piper Jaffray.

NextEra Energy (NEE) was initiated at Buy at UBS.

Public Service Enterprise Group (PEG) was initiated at Neutral at UBS.

AT&T (T) was reiterated at Neutral at BofA/Merrill.

Chevron (CVX) was upgraded from Hold to Buy at Societe Generale.

AGNC Investment (AGNC) was reiterated at Equal Weight at Barclays.

Duke Energy (DUK) was initiated at Buy at UBS.

Exelon (EXC) was initiated at Buy at UBS.

Magellan Midstream Partners (MMP) was reiterated at Equal Weight at Barclays, and at Buy at BofA/Merrill.

MicroSoft (MSFT) was reiterated at Equal Weight at Nomura, and at OverWeight at Morgan Stanley.

NuStar Energy L P (NS) was downgraded to Neutral at UBS.

SCANA (SCG) was initiated at Sell at UBS.

Southern Co (SO) was initiated at Neutral at UBS.

United Parcel Service (UPS) was reiterated at UnderWeight at Morgan Stanley.

To recap the prior week, there is no doubt that fear and volatility have come back into the picture after a long absence. The question is, was this just a brief, cameo appearance, or the start of a long series of frequent appearances? The latest issue of the free email newsletter from economist John Mauldin outlines some storm clouds gathering akin to some notable prior periods of market turmoil, though he definitely is not a “doom & gloom” prognosticator. In fact, he doesn’t expect anything too severe coming this year, he just outlines some concerns that are likely to impact the markets over the next few years, and suggests that investors need to determine their strategy now for dealing with the volatility and a decline when it comes. I heartily concur. My own game plan is a higher than normal cash position, diversification, a portfolio of solid dividend-paying blue chips, and some alternative holdings, such as a cache of mint condition Silver Eagles. I’ll bet some citizens of Venezueula wish they had used their Bolivars to buy some silver or gold coins a few years ago.

JT                                                                               

1st Posting for Week Beginning Monday 01/29/2018

Posted Sunday 01/28/2018 05:30 PM

Another week, another closing high for the Dow Industrials, and as well as most, if not all, general indexes. The bears have either gone into hiding or have been converted, as stocks just keep on going up. The political rancor continues, but it doesn’t seem to have any effect on the market. 

This week’s list of stocks I follow that are going ex-dividend soon is much more encouraging than last week, with 16 payers identified, as follows:

Conagra Brands (CAG), formerly ConAgra Foods, 1/29/2018, yield 2.23%.

Enterprise Products Partners L P (EPD), 1/30/2018, yield 5.84%.

AGNC Investment (AGNC), 1/30/2018, yield 11.02%. AGNC pays monthly.

Plains All American Pipeline L P (PAA), 1/30/2018, yield 5.27%.

Enerplus (ERF), 1/30/2018, yield 0.28%. ERF pays $0.0081 CAN monthly.

Tanger Factory Outlet Centers (SKT), 1/30/2018, yield 5.38%.

STAG Industrial (STAG), 1/30/2018, yield 5.47%. STAG pays monthly.

Alliant Energy (LNT) 1/30/2018, yield 3.32%.

Kinder Morgan (KMI), 1/30/2018, yield 2.66%.

Prospect Capital (PSEC), 1/30/2018, yield 10.53%. PSEC is a monthly payer.

Realty Income (O), 1/31/2018, yield 4.83%. As everyone knows, O pays monthly.

Paychex (PAYX), 1/31/2018, yield 2.91%.

Williams Partners (WPZ), 2/01/2018, yield 5.57%.

Pfizer (PFE), 2/01/2018, yield 3.65%.

Norfolk Southern (NSC), 2/01/2018, yield 1.94%.

Magellan Midstream Partners L P (MMP), 2/01/2018, yield 4.92%.

All 16 stocks listed last week as scheduled to report did so as expected. See last week’s posting for the names and dates. Rather than repeat here information that is abundantly available elsewhere, I point the reader desiring specifics to the firms’ press releases, available on their web sites, compilations of articles on brokerage web sites, the financial press web sites, or my preferred resource, Seeking Alpha. In many cases a transcript of the earnings teleconference with analysts is available on Seeking Alpha.

As for the week ahead, another 18 firms are scheduled to report, listed as follows by date:

1/29/2018

Potlatch (PCH).

1/30/2018

McDonalds (MCD), Nucor (NUE), Pfizer (PFE).

1/31/2018

Enterprise Products Partners L P (EPD), Pitney Bowes (PBI).

2/01/2018

Altria (MO), Blackstone Group L P (BX), ConocoPhillips (COP), Eaton (ETN), Hershey Co (HSY), Magellan Midstream Partners L P (MMP), Royal Dutch Shell (RDS.A, RDS.B), United Parcel Service (UPS), Valero (VLO).

2/02/2018

Chevron (CVX), ExxonMobil (XOM), Merck (MRK).

Another batch of upgrades / downgrades on my stocks came out last week, as follows:

Royal Dutch Shell (RDS.A, RDS.B) was reiterated at OutPerform at Cowen.

Freeport McMorAn (FCX) was downgraded from Sector OutPerform to Neutral at CIBC.

American Electric Power (AEP) was upgraded from Neutral to OutPerform at Macquarie.

Public Service Enterprise Group (PEG) was upgraded from Neutral to OutPerform at Macquarie.

Verizon (VZ) was upgraded from Sector Perform to Sector OutPerform at Scotia Howard Weil.

General Electric (GE) was downgraded from Buy to Neutral at BofA/Merrill.

Southern Co (SO) was downgraded from Buy to Neutral at Mizuho.

3M Co (MMM) was initiated at Neutral at UBS.

McDonalds (MCD) was reiterated at Buy at Nomura.

Chevron (CVX) was reiterated at Neutral at Credit Suisse.

Duke Energy (DUK) was upgraded from Neutral to OutPerform at Credit Suisse.

Ensco (ESV) was downgraded from OutPerform to Neutral at Macquarie.

Sanofi (SNY) was downgraded from Equal Weight to UnderWeight at Barclays.

Eaton (ETN) was initiated at Neutral at UBS.

General Electric (GE) was initiated at Neutral at UBS.

MicroSoft (MSFT) was reiterated at Buy at Stifel.

MicroSoft (MSFT) was reiterated at Neutral at JP Morgan.

Intel (INTC) was reiterated at Buy at Stifel, Mizuho, and Needham.

Raytheon (RTN) was reiterated at Buy at Stifel.

Crestwood Equity Partners L P (CEQP) was upgraded from Equal Weight to OverWeight at Capital One.

Intel (INTC) was upgraded from Neutral to OutPerform at Credit Suisse.

CenturyLink (CTL) was upgraded from Sector Perform to OutPerform at RBC Capital Markets.

Novartis (NVS) was reiterated at Market Perform at Leerink Swann.

General Dynamics (GD) was reiterated at OutPerform at Wells Fargo, and at Neutral at Citigroup.

Norfolk Southern (NSC) was reiterated at OutPerform at Cowen.

General Electric (GE) was reiterated at Buy at Citigroup.

Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) was reiterated at Hold at Stifel.

Kimberly Clark (KMB) was reiterated at Sell at Citigroup.

MicroSoft (MSFT) was initiated at Buy at Nomura.

ExxonMobil (XOM) was reiterated UnderWeight at Morgan Stanley.

Norfolk Southern (NSC) was upgraded from UnderPerform to Sector Perform at RBC Capital Markets.

ConocoPhillips (COP) was reiterated at Equal Weight at Morgan Stanley.

Chevron (CVX) was reiterated at OverWeight at Morgan Stanley.

Valero (VLO) was reiterated at Neutral at Citigroup.

3M Co (MMM) was upgraded from Neutral to Buy at Hilliard Lyons.

Statoil (STO) was upgraded from UnderPerform to OutPerform at Credit Suisse.

 I made one trade this past week, buying back my June 2018 SO call, strike price $50, for 15 cents, having sold it on October 9, 2017 for $1.60. Net gain after commissions $129.55, with no cash at risk, just my 100 SO shares. If I could do that well on an option trade more often, I would be doing well indeed. At least I took advantage of last fall’s price run-up in Southern Co (SO) without giving up my shares. This was as close to “free money” as one is likely to find in the stock market. It’s great when it works! 

JT