01-18-2019: Verso Corporation (VRS): Paper & Pulp Industry Struggles

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Recommendation

Verso Corporation

Verso Corporation (VRS) is in the weak paper and pulp products industry group, although it is one of the strongest performers in that group. The industry group as a whole struggles with environmental and sustainability issues, reforestation needs. Several major papaer and packaging companies have been under pressure and forced to restructure. VRS describes itself as "the leading (largest) North American producer of printing papers, specialty papers, and pulp."

The first thing to jump out at us reviewing this corporation was a bankruptcy that occurred in 2016. That put a gap in financial reporting which always messes up our standard formatted analyses, and can introduce errors in some financial data displays. The company was a spinoff from International Paper Co. that wanted to get rid of it, and sold it to "Apollo Management" for $1.37 billion. The Connecticut-based company became an Ohio-based comany, but kept the same managers for a time, who didn't do so well in a difficult environment. Apollo in our opinion is one of the worst management companies, having acquired a local fast food chain (Carl's Jr.) and proceeded to run it into the ground with very few customers left locally.

Verso has a very good website that well-describes its products, strategies and goals, and shows shareholder concern by including statements from management, a CEO Letter to shareholders, and the like often missing from other American corporation reports. The stock does not pay a dividend.

But in declaring bankruptcy, the corporation defaulted upon all its bonds, of which there were a considerable number, leaving shareholders penniless, and not only on its own bonds but on the bonds of another major corporation ("Newpage") that it acquired. This would make borrowing costs much higher for this corporation and trust level of shareholders down, and at least one class action lawsuit attorney at the door.

Despite all this, corporations under new management, as this one is, are sometimes able to turn the situation around, and this is a turnaround story after some years of losses. Two analysts are very favorable toward the stock and more importantly, Standard & Poor's gives it their highest rating. Other researchers in general are slightly positive on the stock, including the Val Idea "gurus." Projected earnings are slated to show a big jump in the coming fiscal year.

On the institutional front with institutions holding about 88% of the outstanding shares, instutions are net acquirers and the largest shareholder among them is Dimensional Fund Advisors (DFA) which we think is an extremely good sign.

As far as chart pattern goes, sentiment is reserved to negative on this stock still reeling from the bankruptcy and causing some investors to shy away. One might say, "The trust level is down." But a number of financial analyst reviewers classify the stock as "low risk" with reasonable accounting, including McLean which gives the stock the only "conservative" rating in the entire batch of paper and pulp stocks it reviews. Emergence from bankruptcy requires stocks to be more diligent in that regard.



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Bond Issue

Zenith normally credits a company with an extra point if it offers bonds as a way of raising capital. This corporation is a rare exception because of its bankruptcy, it apparentlyi not only defaulted upon all of its bonds but the bonds of its recent large acquisition were also in default or called in. This would make it much harder for this corporation to raise money through the sale of bonds in the future, and therefore we consider it a negative factor.

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Zenith Index

Under current market conditions, a Zenith Index Score of 1.20 or above is required for a positive rating on this factor. 1.21 -1.30 is considered acceptable, 1.30-1.40 is considered strong and
> 1.40 is considered exceptionally strong. Accounting statements in this section often contain mistakes, especially in earlier years' totals, but data is deemed sufficient for us to give a rating. More accurate financial statements follow in the next section.

Verso Corporation (VRS)                                   Exchange: NYSE
8540 Gander Creek Drive
Miamisburg, OH 45342             Sector: Basic Materials
United States                    Industry: Paper & Paper Products

Verso Corporation produces and sells coated papers in North America. It
operates through two segments, Paper and Pulp. The company offers coated
freesheet and coated groundwood, specialty, inkjet and digital,
supercalendered, and uncoated freesheet papers; and northern bleached
hardwood Kraft pulp to manufacture printing, writing, and specialty
paper grades, as well as to manufacture tissue products. Its paper
products are used primarily in media and marketing applications,
including catalogs, magazines, and commercial printing applications,
such as high-end advertising brochures, annual reports, and direct-mail
advertising; and specialty applications comprising flexible packaging,
and label and converting. The company was formerly known as Verso Paper
Corp. and changed its name to Verso Corporation in January 2015. Verso
Corporation was founded in 2006 and is headquartered in Miamisburg, Ohio.

Last Trade:  24.82                           52-Week Range:  34.60 -  13.84
Employees: 4,200                             Avg.Volume:     335,314 Shares

Corporate Governance:
Pillar scores are Audit: 1; Board: 10; Shareholder Rights: 6; Compensation: 7.
         (A lower number means less governance risk.)

EPS:  3.49    Dividend Amount: $ 0.00          Yield:  0.00%
             Ex-Dividend Date: N/A             Payout Ratio:   0.00

Key Statistics:

    Trailing P/E:   7.21              Forward P/E (est.):   4.36
                                           Target Price:  48.50

Qrtly Stock Price Growth (yoy):  38.97%               Beta:   0.00
Qrtly S&P Index   Growth (yoy):  13.40%        Short Ratio:   5.27%
    Qrtly Revenue Growth (yoy):  -6.86%         Shares Out:  34550000
   Qrtly Earnings Growth (yoy):   2.00%

          Book Value:  24.25                    Debt/Equity:  12.89%
    Price/Book Value:   1.04        Operating Profit Margin:   4.95%
         Price/Sales:   0.33                  Profit Margin:   4.61%
         Market Cap:     869,018,000       Return on Equity:  15.68%
    Enterprise Value:     983,490,000      Return on Assets:   4.66%

    Operating Cash Flow:    235,000,000
         Free Cash Flow:    163,620,000



Annual Income Statement:                          (All numbers in thousands)
  Period Ending                             12/31/2017  12/31/2016  12/31/2015

  Total Revenue                              2,461,000   2,641,000   3,122,000
  Cost of Revenue                            2,237,000   2,306,000   2,727,000
  Gross Profit                                 224,000     335,000     395,000

Operating Expenses:
  Research & Development                             0           0           0
  Selling, General & Administrative            106,000     138,000     162,000
  Non-Recurring Expenses                             0           0           0
  Other Operating Expenses                      -2,000       6,000      -5,000
  Total Operating Expenses                   2,450,000   2,600,000   3,134,000

Operating Income or Loss                        11,000      41,000     -12,000

Income from Continuing Operations:
  Total Other Income/Expenses Net              -49,000   1,085,000    -413,000
  Earnings Before Interest & Taxes              11,000      41,000     -12,000
  Interest Expense                             -38,000     -56,000    -270,000
  Income Before Taxes                          -38,000   1,126,000    -425,000
  Income Tax Expense                            -8,000     -20,000      -3,000
  Minority Interest                                  0 -80,008,000           0

Net Income from Continuing Op.s                -30,000   1,146,000    -422,000

Non-recurring Events:
  Discontinued Operations                            0           0           0
  Extraordinary Items                                0           0           0
  Effect of Accounting Changes                       0           0           0
  Other Items                                        0           0           0
  Net Income                                   -30,000   1,146,000    -422,000
  Preferred Stock & Other Adjustments                0           0           0

Net Income Avail to Common Shares              -30,000     -32,000    -422,000



Annual Cash Flow Statement:                   (All numbers in thousands)
  Period Ending                         12/31/2017    12/31/2016    12/31/2015

  Net Income                               -30,000     1,146,000      -422,000

Operating Activities:
  Depreciation                             109,000       150,000       250,000
  Adjustments to Net Income                -34,000    -1,320,000        38,000
  Changes in Accounts Recv'bls             -13,000        30,000        24,000
  Changes in Liabilities                    67,000        28,000       -91,000
  Changes in Investories                    60,000        16,000        15,000
  Changes in other Oper'g Acts             -15,000       -34,000       -89,000

Total Cash Flow f Operations               153,000        42,000      -266,000

Investing Activities:
  Capital Exenditures                      -40,000       -73,000       -64,000
  Investments                                    0             0             0
  Other Cash Flows fr Investing              1,000         1,000        -4,000

Total Cash Flows from Investing            -39,000        -9,000       111,000

Financing Activities:
  Dividends Paid                                 0             0             0
  Sale of Purchase of Stock                      0             0             0
  Net Borrowings                          -112,000        24,000       153,000
  Other Cash Flows fr Financing             -1,000       -55,000        -4,000

Total Cash Flows from Financing           -113,000       -31,000       153,000

  Effect of Exchange Rate Chg                    0             0             0

Change in Cash & Cash Equiv.                 1,000         2,000        -2,000



Annual Balance Sheets:                              (All Numbers in Thousands)
  Period Ending                          12/31/2017    12/31/2016    12/31/2015
Current Assets:
  Cash & Cash Equivalents                     7,000         6,000         4,000
  Short Term Investments                          0             0             0
  Net Receivables                           208,000       194,000       226,000
  Inventory                                 385,000       445,000       484,000
  Other Current Assets                            0  -500,060,992             0
  Total Current Assets                      600,000  -499,416,000       714,000

  Long-Term Investments                           0             0             0
  Property, Plant & Equipt                1,062,000     1,132,000     1,857,000
  Goodwill                                        0             0             0
  Intangible Assets                          34,000        40,000        38,000
  Accumulated Amortization                        0             0             0
  Other Assets                               22,000        18,000        64,000
  Deferred LT Asset Charges                       0             0             0

Total Assets                              1,732,000     1,855,000     2,710,000

Current Liabilities:
  Accounts Payable                          176,000       105,000       113,000
  Current Portion LT Debt                    60,000        28,000     2,879,000
  Other Current Liabilities                   3,000         9,000        12,000
  Total Current Liabilities                 365,000       281,000      3,259,000

  Long Term Debt                            130,000       265,000             0
  Other Liabilities                         491,000       539,000       626,000
  Deferred LT Liab. Charges                       0             0             0
  Minority Interest                               0   -80,008,000             0
  Negative Goodwill                               0             0             0

Total Liabilities                           986,000     1,085,000     3,885,000

Stockholder Equity:
  Misc. Options, Warrants                         0             0             0
  Redeemable Preferred Stock                      0             0             0
  Preferred Stock                                 0             0             0
  Common Stock                                    0   -10,001,000             0
  Retained Earnings                         -62,000       -32,000    -1,402,000
  Treasury Stock                            142,000       127,000      -103,000
  Capital Surplus                           666,000       675,000       321,000
  Other Stockhohlder Equity                 142,000       127,000      -102,000
  Total Stockholder Equity                  746,000       770,000    -1,183,000

Net Tangible Assets                         712,000       730,000    -1,221,000


Verso Corporation (VRS)                     [Indices near +3.0, near zero,
                                            or < zero bear special attention.]
P/E Ratio Tests:
P/E Ratio < 28?            3.0000          P/E Ratio > 5?             1.0000
P/E Ratio Vs Growth Rate:  0.9613          Forward P/E Ratio < 28?    3.0000
Price/Sales Ratio < 2.3?   3.0000          Inventory/Sales < 5%?      0.3196
Sales < $1 Billion?        0.4063          Operating Margin < 7.5%?   1.5152

Balance Sheet Tests:
Debt/Equity < 0.40?        3.0000          Long-Term Debt Service:    3.0000
LTD Being Reduced?         0.0000          Short-Term Debt Service:  -0.2895
Current Ratio > 2?         0.8219          Working Capital >= 1.5?    0.9247
Leverage Ratio < 20%?      0.9231          Debt/Assets < 1?           3.0000
Quick Ratio > 1?           3.0000          Inventory Turnover > 1?    0.1571
Share Equity Increase:     0.3179          Market Cap.< 1.5 Billion?  1.7261
                                           Intangibles < 3% Assets?   1.5282
Income Tests:
Profit Margin < 7.5%?      0.6147          EPS Annual Growth > 10%?   0.1067
Dividend Yield > 2.0%?     0.0000          EPS 3-yr Growth > 15?      2.1100
Enterprise Value/Revenue   0.3532          EPS Growth Consistent?     2.0000
Enterprise Value/EBITDA:   3.0000          Collection < 45 days?      1.4587
EPS Qrtly Growth > 10%?    0.0500          Gross Pft/Cur. LTD > 1?    3.0000
                                           Borrowing Int. Rate < 6%? -0.2053
Stock Performance Tests:
Volatility > 25%?          2.4000          % Held by Insiders < 5%?   0.5056
Beta > 1.25?               0.0000          % Held by Institut. < 50?  0.5814
50 Da MA > 200 Da MA?     -0.3227          % Held by Institut. > 30?  2.8667
52-Wk Change vs. S&P 500: -3.0000          Short Ratio > 5?           1.0540
Price/Book Value < 3?      2.9311          Short % of Float > 20?     0.2345
Return on Assets > 17%?    0.2741          Average Volume > 100,000?  3.0000

Cash Flow Tests:
Oper. C.F. > Lever'd C.F:  1.4363          Positive Free Cash Flow?   3.0000
Positive Oper. Cash Flow?  3.0000          Price to C.F.Ratio < 14?:  3.0000
                                           Cash Flow / Assets > 10%?  1.7610

VRS    Verso Corporation                   Overall Zenith Index:      1.3578


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Financial Statements

The year of bankruptcy (2016) put holes in some portions of the corporation's financial statements... this is not a reporting error.


VERSO CORP A  (VRS)                         INCOME STATEMENT

Fiscal year ends in December. USD in thousan         2012-12         2013-12         2014-12         2015-12         2017-12             TTM           

Revenue                                            1,474,612       1,388,899       1,296,613       3,122,000       2,461,000       2,626,000
Cost of revenue                                    1,272,630       1,179,085       1,176,002       2,727,000       2,237,000       2,289,000
Gross profit                                         201,982         209,814         120,611         395,000         224,000         337,000


Operating expenses
Sales, General and administrative                     74,415          73,777          69,945         187,000         106,000         103,000
Restructuring, merger and acquisition                 89,357           1,378         134,486          54,000           9,000           3,000
Other operating expenses                              28,821          99,381         -43,589         254,000         106,000         101,000
Total operating expenses                             192,593         174,536         160,842         495,000         221,000         207,000

Operating income                                       9,389          35,278         -40,231        -100,000           3,000         130,000
Interest Expense                                     135,461         137,728         142,331         270,000          38,000          41,000
Other income (expense)                               -49,181          -9,318        -173,382         -55,000          -3,000          24,000
Income before taxes                                 -175,253        -111,768        -355,944        -425,000         -38,000         113,000
Provision for income taxes                            -1,424            -562          -2,989          -3,000          -8,000          -8,000
Net income from continuing operations               -173,829        -111,206        -352,955        -422,000         -30,000         121,000
Net income                                          -173,829        -111,206        -352,955        -422,000         -30,000         121,000
Net income available to common shareholders         -173,829        -111,206        -352,955        -422,000         -30,000         121,000

Earnings per share
Basic                                                  -3.29           -2.09           -6.62           -5.19           -0.87            3.51 
Diluted                                                -3.29           -2.09           -6.62           -5.19           -0.87            3.49 

Weighted average shares outstanding
Basic                                                 52,850          53,124          53,293          81,295          34,432          34,500
Diluted                                               52,850          53,124          53,293          81,295          34,432          34,767

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


VERSO CORP A  (VRS)                         BALANCE SHEET

Fiscal year ends in December. USD in thousan         2013-12         2014-12         2015-12         2016-12         2017-12             

Assets

Current assets

Cash

Total cash                                            11,295           5,542           4,000           6,000           7,000

Receivables                                          104,498          87,740         226,000         194,000         208,000
Inventories                                          137,687         110,724         484,000         445,000         385,000
Prepaid expenses                                      20,621          10,812          32,000          20,000          14,000
Other current assets                                      50          60,964           5,000               0               0
Total current assets                                 274,151         275,782         751,000         665,000         614,000

Non-current assets

Property, plant and equipment
Gross property, plant and equipment                1,523,536       1,234,601       2,731,000       1,221,000       1,258,000
Accumulated Depreciation                            -780,590        -704,064        -874,000         -89,000        -196,000
Net property, plant and equipment                    742,946         530,537       1,857,000       1,132,000       1,062,000

Intangible assets                                     21,596          14,581          38,000          40,000          34,000
Other long-term assets                                59,859          56,611          64,000          18,000          22,000
Total non-current assets                             824,401         601,729       1,959,000       1,190,000       1,118,000

Total assets                                       1,098,552         877,511       2,710,000       1,855,000       1,732,000 

Liabilities and stockholders' equity

Liabilities

Current liabilities
Short-term debt                                       13,310          30,000       2,879,000          28,000          60,000
Accounts payable                                      88,412          62,814         113,000         105,000         176,000
Taxes payable                                              0           1,466           9,000           6,000           5,000
Accrued liabilities                                  122,335         154,299         174,000          59,000          55,000
Other current liabilities                                  0          51,830          84,000          83,000          69,000
Total current liabilities                            224,057         300,409       3,259,000         281,000         365,000

Non-current liabilities
Long-term debt                                     1,235,167       1,296,906               0         265,000         130,000
Deferred taxes liabilities                                 0               0           8,000               0               0
Pensions and other benefits                                0               0         587,000         515,000         472,000
Minority interest                                          0               0           8,000               0               0
Other long-term liabilities                           56,599          64,301          31,000          24,000          19,000
Total non-current liabilities                      1,291,766       1,361,207         634,000         804,000         621,000

Total liabilities                                  1,515,823       1,661,616       3,893,000       1,085,000         986,000 

Stockholders' equity

Common stock                                             533             534           1,000               0               0
Additional paid-in capital                           220,960         222,820         321,000         675,000         676,000
Retained earnings                                   -627,223        -980,178      -1,402,000         -32,000         -62,000
Treasury stock                                          -106            -164          -1,000               0               0
Accumulated other comprehensive income               -11,435         -27,117        -102,000         127,000         132,000
Total stockholders' equity                          -417,271        -784,105      -1,183,000         770,000         746,000
Total liabilities and stockholders' equity         1,098,552         877,511       2,710,000       1,855,000       1,732,000

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


VERSO CORP A  (VRS)                         Statement of CASH FLOW

Fiscal year ends in December. USD in thousan         2013-12         2014-12         2015-12         2016-12         2017-12             TTM           

Cash Flows From Operating Activities
Net income                                          -111,206        -352,955        -422,000               0         -30,000         121,000
Depreciation & amortization                          104,730          90,897         308,000               0         115,000         111,000
Amortization of debt discount/premium and is           5,970           8,716           9,000               0           9,000               0
Investment/asset impairment charges                        0           6,300               0               0               0               0
Deferred income taxes                                      0               0               0               0          -8,000               0
Stock based compensation                               1,805           1,756           3,000               0               0               0
Change in working capital                            -25,818          82,946        -140,000               0          99,000          44,000
Accounts receivable                                   -3,610          16,757          24,000               0         -13,000         -36,000
Inventory                                             -6,176          17,213          15,000               0          60,000          22,000
Prepaid expenses                                       5,177         -15,470         -15,000               0           6,000           4,000
Accounts payable                                      -8,059         -21,752         -91,000               0          67,000          52,000
Accrued liabilities                                  -13,150          86,198         -73,000               0         -21,000           2,000
Other non-cash items                                  -3,213         104,575         -24,000               0         -32,000         -41,000
Net cash provided by operating activities            -27,732         -57,765        -266,000               0         153,000         235,000

Cash Flows From Investing Activities
Investments in property, plant, and equipmen         -40,660         -41,963         -64,000               0         -40,000         -72,000
Property, plant, and equipment reductions             28,397             809               0               0               0               0
Acquisitions, net                                          0               0         128,000               0               0               0
Other investing activities                            -1,492          15,864          47,000               0           1,000          19,000
Net cash used for investing activities               -13,755         -25,290         111,000               0         -39,000         -53,000

Cash Flows From Financing Activities
Debt issued                                          145,000         433,449         723,000               0         186,000         409,000
Debt repayment                                      -153,501        -353,759        -570,000               0        -299,000        -590,000
Common stock issued                                        0             105               0               0               0               0
Common stock repurchased                                 -22             -58               0               0               0               0
Other financing activities                              -220          -2,435               0               0               0               0
Net cash provided by (used for) financing             -8,743          77,302         153,000               0        -113,000        -181,000

Net change in cash                                   -50,230          -5,753          -2,000               0           1,000           1,000
Cash at beginning of period                           61,525          11,295           6,000               0           6,000           9,000
Cash at end of period                                 11,295           5,542           4,000               0           7,000          10,000

Free Cash Flow
Operating cash flow                                  -27,732         -57,765        -266,000               0         153,000         235,000
Capital expenditure                                  -40,660         -41,963         -64,000               0         -40,000         -72,000
Free cash flow                                       -68,392         -99,728        -330,000               0         113,000         163,000
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________





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Average to Current P/E Ratios
              (VRS)     Verso Corp. Cl A

                               2013    2014    2015    2016    2017

          Annual Earnings:    -2.09   -6.62   -5.19   33.32   -0.87
Average Price During Year:     1.01    2.52    2.69    5.90   13.08

                P/E Ratio:     0.48    0.38    0.52    0.18   15.03

 Average 5-Year P/E Ratio  =   3.32
             Current Price =  25.23

Previous 5 Quarter Earnings:   0.12    1.04   -0.06    0.03    2.45

          Current Annualized (Last Four Quarters) Earnings =   2.42
                                                           ________
                                 Average PE / Current PE =     0.32
                                                           --------

                                      ...a number above 1.00 is good
                                                1.00 or below is bad


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Financial Ratios

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Intrinsic Value (DCF)

Intrinsic Value by Discounted Cash Flow Method:

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Fair Value Estimate:

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Analysts' Opinions

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Insider Activity

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Institutional Activity

Institutional Orders to Buy or Sell:

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Ownership:

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Sentiment

sentiment

Zenith uses the "sentiment" score above or below 50 to award a positive or negative point in the Decision Matrix.

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Short Interest Ratio

As the short interest rises as a percentage of average daily share volume (Days to Cover), this is considered a measure of negative sentiment. Similarly, a decrease in that percentage is considered positive sentiment.

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Management's Discussion of Results of Operations Excerpts

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Channeling Potential

 
The summary below includes a value for `Degree,' which refers on a
scale of 1 to 10 the range of a channel in the period under consi-
deration compared to the total range of price movement. It also looks
for the last closing price to be within the channel, otherwise zeroed.
The `Index' is the `Degree' weighted for volatility.  Generally, the
the higher the index, the more suitable is the stock for trading as
a `rolling stock' between channel high and low points.

Results for VERSO CORPORATION:
Symbol? VRS
Total Months Available:  15
       Months in Cycle?   4

Months Covered by Periods:  12

Period 1           Period 2          Period 3
   H1      L1        H2      L2        H3      L3
  19.75   13.84     31.79   18.54     34.60   20.73

RANGE   =  34.60  TO   13.84            Close =  24.82
CHANNEL =  20.73  TO   19.75           Degree =   0
Volatility =   3.95%                    Index =   0
Channel Chart



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MACD Histogram Divergence

The theory is that connecting the two most recent peaks or valleys of the MACD histogram will signal the direction of the next major move.



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Intraday Chart

2 Days:



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Val Idea

5 out of 8 favorable, (positive opinion.)

Val Idea


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Stock Consultant

Stock Consultant Stock Consultant


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Point & Figure Chart

P & F Chart


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Wall Street Analyzer



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Marketspace Chart

Marketspace Chart



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Time Series Forecast

Time Series 1 Time Series 2


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Neural Network Prediction

"Neurostock" can only track long trades. Therefore its performance, as tracked by itself on stocks which are consistently falling, may not appear as good as it could if each "sell" signal were a "short sale."

Neural Chart
Heading
Neural Trades Neural Prediction



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Ultimate Trading Systems

2 out of 3 of the ultimate systems favor an upmove.


System Below:
Short term outlook: Positive: Bright Green, Negative: Bright Red
Long term outlook: Postive: Dark Green, Negative: Dark Red.




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Recommendation

Decision Weighting Factors
FactorsWeighted Points
News + 1
Comparison - 1
Industry - 1
Bond Issue - 1
Zenith Index + 1
Non-GAAP vs. GAAP Earnings - 1
Cash Flow + 1
Average to Current P/E - 1
Ratios - 1
Intrinsic Value DCF - 1
Fair Value Estimator + 1
Projected Earnings + 1
Research Reports + 1
Analysts + 1
Executive Perquisites - 1
Insider Activity - 1
Institutional Activity + 1
Management Reporting + 1
Short Interest - 1
Sentiment - 1
Standard & Poor's + 1
MACD Histogram Divergence + 1
Val Idea + 1
Stock Consultant - 1
Point & Figure - 1
Wall Street Analyzer - 1
Marketspace Chart + 1
Time Series Chart - 1
Neural Network - 1
Stock Options - 1
Ultimate Trading Systems + 1
Total - 3
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