The major stock indices were up Monday afternoon amid some optimism surrounding the initial trade deal between the U.S. and China. The deal could be signed at a meeting in November, although that's not a guarantee at this point.
|Index||Change at 2:10 p.m. EDT|
|Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI)||0.17%|
|S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC)||0.68%|
|Nasdaq Composite (NASDAQINDEX:^IXIC)||0.89%|
Two stocks that were handily beating the market on Monday were Halliburton (NYSE:HAL) and Coty (NYSE:COTY). Halliburton signaled that more cost cuts were on the way, and Coty announced a plan to possibly divest a major business.
Halliburton plans cost cuts as sales sink
Oil field service giant Halliburton didn't have a great third quarter. Revenue tumbled 10% year over year to $5.55 billion, driven by a 21% decline in North America. Lower activity and pricing challenges weighed on the company's North American results, leading the top line to miss analyst expectations by $270 million.
Despite the weak sales, shares of Halliburton were up 7.3% at 2:10 p.m. EDT as the company detailed its plan to slash costs. "We're reducing costs. You've seen us do this before," said CEO Jeff Miller during the earnings call.
Halliburton expects to achieve around $300 million in annualized cost savings over the next few quarters, although that number is not yet finalized. This will help offset continued declines in customer activity in all basins in North America. "Feedback from our customers leads us to believe that the rig count and completions activity may be lower than in the fourth quarter of last year," Miller said.
Cutting costs can help slow the profit decline Halliburton experienced in the third quarter. Earnings per share came in at $0.34, in line with analyst estimates but down 32% year over year. While tumbling profits should concern investors, the heavy focus on cost cutting was enough to ease concerns for now.
Coty exploring options
On Monday, beauty company Coty announced plans to explore strategic options for its professional beauty business. The goals are to boost shareholder value, reduce complexity, knock down debt, and increase its focus on fragrance, cosmetics, and skin care. The stock had surged 13.5% by 2:10 p.m. as investors cheered the news.
Coty's recent results have failed to impress. Total revenue was down 8% in the most recent quarter, and the professional beauty business suffered a 7% sales decline. In fiscal 2019, professional beauty accounted for 21% of Coty's total revenue.
Coty has determined that the future growth opportunities for the professional beauty business "lie increasingly outside the Company's core strategic focus." For that reason, the company is considering a divestiture of the professional beauty business. Any proceeds will be used to pay down debt and return cash to shareholders.
Coty's debt load is significant. At the end of fiscal 2019, the company's debt totaled more than $7.6 billion. With annual adjusted EBITDA of $1.33 billion, the net debt-to-adjusted EBITDA ratio currently sits just above 5.5. Following a potential divestiture, the company will aim to bring that ratio down to 3.
While this move won't fix weak sales in the consumer division, investors clearly see it as a step in the right direction for the company.