Recent Posts

Nucor Corporation (NUE): Gauging Upside/Downside Against Our Already Aggressive $10+ EPS Forecast For CY21

After raising estimates for the current quarter and year to reflect the better-than-expected mid-quarter guidance issued by the management team last week, we examined some of the larger NUE portfolio drivers, looking to gauge the upside and downside risk as it relates to two major issues: (1) the sustainability of the Section 232 trade protections during a new period of US Presidential leadership; and (2) the upside bias associated with the release of a large infrastructure bill. Starting with a $10.00+ and $8.28/share earnings forecast for CY21 and CY22, respectively, already well above consensus, we calculated roughly $1.75-2.00 of potential earnings upside associated with surging demand for niche carbon steel products dedicated for large-volume public construction projects. Conversely, we assume there to be $1.40-1.50/share of earnings dilution risk should President Joe Biden rescind Section-232 trade protections. This implies a +30% risk/reward profile. Continue reading

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12:50 AM

The Titanium Snapshot (ATI, HAYN, CRS)

We are not picking up any new market intelligence this month to suggest there is an upward bias to earnings expectations for the specialty materials peer group. Last month, we raised near-term forecasts to reflect the better-than-expected nickel-based alloy and jet engine demand trends. However, we see few similarities in the titanium space as volume growth is holding in negative territory and contacts are still forecasting negative full-year growth. The main difference between this market and other alloys is the excess inventory held by the aero supply chain which could push the recovery starting point 6-9 months to the right (for companies levered to commercial airframe applications). Continue reading

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10:45 AM

Steel: Adjusting Ratings, Raising Price Targets and Revising Estimates Following Strong Survey Results

We rearranged the steel coverage group investment ratings to account for recent trading strength, the divergence between the closing prices and price targets, and higher earnings outlook(s). Today’s actions were triggered by the better-than-expected carbon steel survey results and review of future market drivers. Among the major changes, we upgraded Nucor (NUE) after considering the new earnings outlook and the rising potential for a stimulus trading boost. At the same time, we lowered STLD and RS to OUTPERFORM (versus Strong Buy) following the recent surge in trading. While still positive on these two names, we would be less aggressive. Finally, we referred to the surprising level of bullishness building throughout the channel and strong survey data points. The most interesting takeaway involved steel contacts raising their year-end HRC price forecast by $100-125/ton. Continue reading

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6:04 PM

Specialty Materials: Increasing Estimates On The Premium Alloy Suppliers Levered To Jet Engine

Positive data points and contact commentary collected during quarterly checks on the specialty materials group serves as the key catalyst behind the upward estimate revisions we applied to certain names within our coverage universe. Today, we raised estimates on Allegheny Tech (ATI) and Haynes International (HAYN) to reflect the upward bias associated with enhanced aerospace and turbine sales exposure. Continue reading

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10:31 AM

Allegheny Technologies (ATI): Upgrading The Shares To A Hold As GE Provides Early Jet Engine Supplier Optimism

We are upgrading the shares of Allegheny Technologies (ATI) to a HOLD. After speaking with industry contacts and reviewing aerospace OEM production schedules, we believe earnings estimates are more likely to move higher from the current point. Despite our concerns regarding the extended valuation, we decided to move to a neutral position on the shares as we can no longer identify a “smoking gun” that could push the stock price meaningfully lower. Continue reading

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8:50 AM

Haynes International (HAYN): Another Weak Report But An Inflection Point May Finally Be On The Radar (Recap)

The HAYN management team is echoing a similar sentiment as most of its direct competitors: While most of the operating results reported this month have been underwhelming and CY21 earnings expectations are generally subdued, the specialty materials peer group seems to be approaching a point of stabilization. Companies levered to the premium alloys expect an inflection point to develop within the next 2-3 quarters with the titanium turn seen lagging by 1-2 quarters. Continue reading

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8:30 AM

Allegheny Technologies (ATI): The Company Closes Out CY20 With A Fourth-Straight Earnings Beat (Recap)

Allegheny Technologies (ATI) reported an adjusted 4Q20 earnings loss of $0.33/share, which exceeded consensus expectations on better-than-expected AAS segment results, stabilized jet engine demand, and portfolio reshaping (Tier4: -$0.40; Street: -$0.36). CEO Bob Wetherbee and his leadership team were highly focused on portfolio optimization and their aggressive efforts started to bear fruit, clearly demonstrated by four consecutive quarterly EPS beats (against the COVID-19 market backdrop). Continue reading

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1:20 PM

Aerospace: Submitting Our Industry Flight Plan For 2021

Ahead of the quarterly updates set to be released by several aerospace-levered companies over the next few weeks, and the swearing-in of President Joe Biden, we are submitting our Aerospace Flight Plan For 2021, broadly defined as an industry preview and data point refresher. The intention of this report is to provide a simple listing of industry headlines expected to materialize over the next twelve months that could sway investor sentiment or become a catalyst for estimate revisions on individual companies. We sat down over the weekend and updated our industry models to fully reflect our increasing conservative macro-outlook and to match some of the new data points provided by channel contacts. Continue reading

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1:04 PM

The Boeing Company (BA): Downgrading To Underperform On Commercial Aircraft Demand And Balance Sheet Concerns

We downgraded the shares of The Boeing Company (BA) to UNDERPERFORM this evening following a thorough review of important macro drivers and the secondary data collected from our aero supplier surveys. Ahead of the company’s 4Q earnings update, scheduled for late-January, we believe BA shares could dip below $200 should the investor focus shift to a muted earnings growth outlook and balance sheet stress. Coincidently, we are also less-bullish on our beloved Cleveland Browns heading into the Sunday playoff game, but we digress… Continue reading

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4:47 PM

Allegheny Technologies (ATI): What Are The Odds The Dreamliner Turns Into A Supplier Nightmare?

We lowered earnings estimates for two of The Boeing Company suppliers potentially over-levered to the Dreamliner program: Allegheny Technologies (ATI) and Hexcel Corporation (HXL). The shares of both companies have traded higher over the past few months, but the valuation looks overextended to us. We remain particularly guarded on the ATI due to the enhanced program leverage. Our UNDERPERFORM rating includes a revised target price of $11/share (up from $8), reflecting about 40% downside versus the Thursday close. Continue reading

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9:52 AM

Hexcel Corporation (HXL): What Are The Odds The Dreamliner Turns Into A Supplier Nightmare?

We cannot recall another time during our long history in sell-side research when the best idea highlighted from our coverage was: investors should avoid the entire peer group right now. Ultimately, we deemed it more appropriate to shift the note topic to the new developments detected in our propriety channel checks that may be interpreted as bearish by investors. We lowered earnings estimates for two of The Boeing Company suppliers potentially over-levered to the Dreamliner program: Hexcel Corporation (HXL) and Allegheny Technologies (ATI). Continue reading

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8:19 AM

Steeling The Signals: December Update

Broad-based indications of strength are evident throughout the steel channels and there appears to be increasing probability of upward movement in spot market prices (looking out 3-4 quarters). The contact narrative shifted to the unusual carbon sheet and plate supply constraints, heading into a normally seasonal-slow demand period, and future production deficit anxieties.
Nucor Corporation (NUE) issued earnings outlook that may be considered disappointing by The Street. Management provided a 4Q20 EPS guidance range of $1.02-1.07. The language within this morning’s release regarding Steel Mill trends aligns with the feedback collected from our checks. We also heard from Steel Dynamics (STLD) today, which issued an adjusted 4Q20 guidance range of $0.80-0.84, beating expectations. Continue reading

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12:43 PM

The Titanium Snapshot – December Update

Feedback coming out of the specialty materials channel supports the bearish call we are making on the global titanium market and selected companies within the specialty materials peer group. Bottomline, raw material providers, mill contacts, metal distributors, fabricators, and premium forgers are all voicing concerns about an extended period of end-demand weakness, a difficult CY21 environment, operating inefficiencies, and destabilized pricing environment.

Names within in our coverage universe with titanium leverage include Allegheny Technologies (ATI), Howmet Aerospace (HWM), Carpenter Technology (CRS) and Haynes International (HAYN). Continue reading

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2:10 PM

Steel Dynamics (STLD): The Opposite of SteelMageddon – Raising Estimates and Target Price

What is the opposite of Steelmageddon? Whatever word just popped into your head is probably the best way to describe current domestic steel industry fundamentals. Following a closer look at the drivers behind the carbon flat rolled markets, and communicating with several channel contacts, we decided to increase our carbon sheet price forecasts and the estimates on STLD. Continue reading

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9:52 AM

Aerospace: The Runway To Recovery Will Be Long And Bumpy For Upstream Suppliers

Consensus estimates still look aggressive, in relation to fundamentals, for aerospace suppliers levered to premium forge, composite materials, metal fabrication, and raw materials. We believe the tier-3/4 peer group may still be 4-5 quarters away from an inflection point, which could be followed by muted demand in CY22 regardless of the COVID-19 vaccination outcome. After updating various industry models, we generated a CY21 baseline growth forecast for upstream aero suppliers at down 12-13% for CY21. We also lowered estimates on Allegheny Tech (ATI) and Hexcel Corp (HXL) this morning, after completing this market analysis and reviewing the negative survey data points referenced in this report. Continue reading

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8:32 AM

Haynes International (HAYN): We Are Not Ready To Clear The Shares For Takeoff; Initiating Coverage With A HOLD

Today, we are formally initiating coverage on Haynes International (HAYN) with a HOLD rating. While we certainly understand the initial exuberance around the aerospace suppliers and specialty materials peer group, following Monday’s vaccination news, we caution investors that underlying fundamentals are still quite weak. We prefer to wait for evidence of better titanium and nickel-based alloy trends before turning more constructive on this company or the peer group. Continue reading

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8:37 AM

The Boeing Company (BA): 3Q20 Results Were Generally In-line, But CY21 Visibility May Be Waning

Despite a relatively solid earnings update, which beat our forecast for the first time in four quarters, we are unable to construct a convincing bull-case argument. We ultimately came away with from yesterday’s update with limited earnings and FCF visibility, still digesting the conservatism embedded in management’s commentary. While there were no formal changes made to aircraft build rates, downward adjustments seem almost inevitable against the backdrop of waning demand. Continue reading

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7:58 AM

Reliance Steel & Alum (RS): One Of The Names That Could Really Surprise To The Upside Next Week

We like the set-up for Reliance Steel & Aluminum Co (RS) heading into next week’s earnings report and reiterate our OUTPERFORM recommendation on the shares. After reviewing all key portfolio drivers, we see very high probability of a 3Q20 earnings beat (and favorable guidance) primarily driven by ferrous and nonferrous metals pricing strength, healthy shipment levels, a tolling recovery, and improved cost position. Continue reading

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6:23 AM

Aerospace: Airbus Is Not Budging On The A320

The Airbus management team appears to be sharing their production strategy and updated aircraft build schedules with suppliers this week, which includes an intention of holding the A320 rate steady at 40/month (well into 2021). Granted, there is lingering contact apprehension about the global airline operator willingness to accept these new jets (during the slow season), but today those comments were drowned out by the collective sound of channel relief. As we reported last week, […]

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3:35 PM

Nucor Corporation (NUE): Solid 3Q Guidance Without Much Help From Carbon Sheet Or Plate

Nucor Corporation (NUE) kicked off the mini-earnings preview period by issuing a 3Q20 earnings outlook that crushed expectations. Yesterday, the management team offered an EPS guidance range of $0.50-0.55, considerably better than the $0.37 consensus forecast, citing continued strength in Downstream Product volumes/margins and better-than-expected carbon bar and beam mill shipments. Continue reading

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9:00 AM

Allegheny Technologies (ATI): Initiating Coverage With An UNDERPERFORM Recommendation

We are initiating formal coverage on the shares of Allegheny Technologies (ATI) with an UNDERPERFORM recommendation and twelve-month target price of $8. While we are somewhat intrigued by the long-term value associated with: the calculated portfolio firepower (during periods of cyclical strength); recent market share gains; and the cost reduction measures implemented by the management team, we could not ignore the pronounced weakness in commercial aerospace demand and historically weak survey results in 2H20. Continue reading

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7:00 AM

Hexcel Corporation (HXL): A Risky Long Without Stabilization, A Riskier Short With Vaccines

We are moving the investment rating on Hexcel Corporation (HXL) to a HOLD, conceding to a limited number of catalysts looking out 3-4 months. Consistent with views expressed in a recently issued Boeing (BA) upgrade note, we no longer expect valuations and/or investor sentiment around the aerospace peer group to be determined by changing fundamentals. Instead, the trading momentum will most likely be dictated by headlines, with emphasis placed on COVID-19 vaccination updates and/or reported changes to the MAX approval timeline Continue reading

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9:00 AM

Hexcel Corporation (HXL): Results Were Disappointing And This Might Not Be The Bottom For Aero Suppliers

Hexcel Corporation (HXL) kicks off what is likely to be considered an awful earnings week for most aerospace suppliers and the specialty materials group. Not only did the company’s 2Q20 EPS results, reported last night, fall well below expectations due to the pronounced commercial aerospace sales demand weakness and strong inventory headwinds, but we expect any forward-looking commentary to remain guarded. Conservatism would align with the new feedback coming out of the aero channel over the past two weeks. Continue reading

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5:00 PM

Steel: Demand Strength Justifies Increase Attempt, But Supply Is Coming – Oh Dear…Born

There appears to be early support for the latest mill price increase attempt on carbon sheet. After reviewing some of the signals coming out of the steel channel this week, we expect at least one-half of the attempted +$40/ton spot adjustment to stick. For the first time since January, our survey is showing a real demand push, in addition to the modest customer sourcing panic developing in the MW region. Continue reading

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9:00 AM

Steel Dynamics (STLD): Sometimes Mixed Is Good – Upgrading The Shares To A Hold

We are upgrading the shares of Steel Dynamics (STLD) to a HOLD rating as the shares have surpassed our previously-issued twelve-month target price of $27, falling 16% since the early-June downgrade (to underperform). The aggressive trading reaction to carbon scrap price headlines released earlier in the week could be the “final shoe to drop” in the metals & mining space. Continue reading

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9:00 AM

Reliance Steel & Alum (RS): Initiating Coverage With An OUTPERFORM Rating

We are starting formal coverage on Reliance Steel & Aluminum (RS) with an OUTPERFORM recommendation and twelve-month target price of $101/share (suggesting roughly 9% upside versus Wednesday’s closing price). Against the backdrop of relatively cautious near-term expectations for the carbon steel group, driven by weak survey results and falling prices, we believe RS is positioned to meet or beat consensus expectations for CY20 on market share improvements, cost reduction efforts and early upward momentum for nonferrous metals. Continue reading

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9:00 AM
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