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Stock futures gain as Lowes and Home Depot lead pre-market higher

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Stock futures are posting gains to start the week off on a bullish note as home improvement retailers Lowes Companies (NYSE:LOW) $42.50 and Dow component Home Depot (NYSE:HD) $28.32 edge up 2-3% in pre-market trading.

Lowe's (LOW) said it sees profits for the year coming in 1.7% ahead of the consensus estimate from the retail analysts on the heels of the U.S. housing and refinance boom. Pre-market action has LOW rising 2.3% to $43.50.

The outlook is bolstering stock in rival retailer Home Depot (HD) in early dealings. HD is up 3.3% at $36.81 on the ECNn.$29.28

The 11th hour drama underway at United Airlines Corp. (NYSE:UAL) $2.95, which Sunday announced 9,000 job cuts and aircraft delivery deferrals among other steps to secure a loan guarantee, did little to impact sentiment in the early going.

UAL shares edged up on the restructuring plan and last changed hands at $3, up a cautious 5 cents on Instinet in London. European airline stocks were up, in line with the markets.

Telecom stocks rose in Europe after Nokia's (NYSE:NOK) $18.21 CEO Jorma Ollila said in an interview with the Financial Times that there is "good chance" the handset market volumes will grow 10- 15% a year over the next three years. Nokia was up 0.6% on the New York ECNs to $18.33.

Vodafone Group (NYSE:VOD) $18.60, the world's largest mobile network operator, rose 2.6% in London. Nokia was up close to 2% in Finland. Still Ollila declined to comment on a specific estimate for industry handset sales next year. The handset maker is expecting 400 million units sold this year.

In a separate report, JP Morgan Securities in London said Nokia's market share appears to have declined by close to 3% points in China in October to 22% verses the third quarter and that rival Motorola (NYSE:MOT) $9.04 is estimated to have had a 25% share in October.

In U.S. telecoms, shares of Dow component AT&T (NYSE:T) $13.86 fell 3.3% in early dealings after Lehman Brothers downgraded the stock to an "underweight" due to the ultimate wind-down of the Consumer biz, which should occur by the end of 2003; firm sees nothing that can reverse the trend-like declines in rev and EBITDA at Consumer that would otherwise leave the unit at EBITDA breakeven by 4th quarter of 2003.

Healthcare provider Tenet Healthcare (NYSE:THC) $16.33 is gaining 92 cents to $17.25 after a weekend article in Barron's where Delta Partners manager Charles Jobson has been averaging down in Tenet. The hedge fund manager, whose fund is up 25.5% this yr, began buying THC when it first broke $28 and has been buying it more aggressively at $14-$15. "However bad it can get, it can't get as bad as the decline in the share price suggests. The stock is absurdly cheap." Jobson is also bullish on PacifiCare (PHSY) $31.92 as a turnaround play.

Also, THC issues the first in a planned series of letters to investors. THC states that its top priorities include reviewing pricing strategies and developing a new and sustainable approach to pricing. States that it expects the previously announced audit by the Office of Audit Services to take several months. Discloses that the SEC has opened an informal file on Tenet.

S&P futures (sp02z) are gaining 7.3 points at 916.20, while NASDAQ futures (nd02z) are higher by 12.5 points at 1,078. Dow futures (dj02z) are gaining 59 points at 8,625.

Fair value for the S&P 500 today is $0.18. That price will not change during the session. HL Camp & Company has their computers set for program buying at $1.38 and set for program selling at $-1.28. Fair value for the NASDAQ-100 today is $1.75.

If you would like more information on fair value and buy/sell program premiums and their uses, feel free to visit HL Camp's site at http://www.programtrading.com.

Jeff Bailey

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