On Viacom, Corrections Corp. and the August Lag

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Friday, August 19, 2016

Uh… OK… This is exactly what I feared would happen on a date like August 19th… We’re discussing the stock market — its trends, its distractions… and… WHAT?

The Fed has already tipped its hand that it won’t raise interest rate prior to the General Election in November. The last of the major retailers have reported Q2 earnings, wrapping up another season until mid-October. The market hit new all-time highs only to get cold feet at the lofty heights… Alright — let’s start there.

Futures are down this morning, after an early-week market boost to new highs. With a lack of major catalysts like econ data or activities across the globe, the S&P 500 is down 5 points ahead of the bell, the Dow -43 points and the Nasdaq -10.5. However, these are relatively better than the earlier reads of -7.75, -61 and -16, respectively.

Oil prices are down a tad in the pre-market, but both WTI and Brent are up relative to recent weeks: in fact, Brent crude oil is still above $50 per barrel and the WTI is +$48. Oil prices had been lagging in the sub-$45 range for awhile, and energy concerns affect almost every other industry, as we saw when oil prices slumped to $25 per barrel.

Also, the Viacom VIAB saga look to be coming to an end, with the Sumner Redstone faction on top. Without getting into family affairs, we see COO Tom Dooley stepping up as interim CEO (replacing Philippe Dauman, who leaves with a $72 million parachute), and the board member shake-up looks to result thusly: 5 new board members will be added as 3 others will step down. Viacom shares are up 2% in the pre-market, but shares of the large-cap entertainment firm are still down 46% over the past 2 years.

The Gap GPS beat earnings again, as was expected, but by a sole penny. Guidance was downbeat, however, and shares are down 3% prior to today’s opening bell.

Also, Corrections Corp. CXW is seeing a bounce-back following a major announcement by the federal government to move away from profit-based prison companies. After dropping nearly 35% as President Obama put pen to paper in this case, shares have gained back around 10% as details begin to be hashed out.

Mark Vickery
Senior Editor

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