July 11th, 2014

Lists of “Value” Stocks Often Miss Target

image“After 5 years of a bull market, the only place left to invest is in value names”
“The best protection in this volatile market are value stocks”

But how reliable are these sorts of claims?  Those promoting the approach offer lists of stocks that are considered undervalued typically when they meet such financial criteria as low price/sales, low price/book value, or high, stable and growing dividends. However, they rarely attach timeframes or price targets.

So I decided to do some “back testing”.  By searching the term “value stock lists”, I gathered a small random sample of such lists published in 2012-13; stocks in these lists met one or more of criteria that qualifies them as “value stocks” at the time.  I then compared their stock price on the publication date with that of twelve months later; as a benchmark, those changes were compared with against the S&P 500 change over the same period.  These were selected at random and space limitations prevented including more, I suspect others would show similar results:

  • MagicDiligence.com: “Top 10 Dividend Yields, Lowest P/S, and Lowest P/B Stocks” – 1/5/2012: “Every so often, MagicDiligence compiles a list of Magic Formula® Investing stocks sorted by their dividend yield, price-to-sales ratio, and price-to-book ratio for investors that like to use those metrics. The result produces a list of attractive value stocks for additional research.” The top 10 in each of the three metrics were:
    Value MagicDiligence
  • Valueline: “Value Line’s 6 Safe Dividend Stocks” - 11/22/12 : “Value Line is an independent investment research and analysis company that has developed a safety ranking methodology which focuses on the long-term stability of company’s stock price and financial standing.  The fund invests in companies that carry Value Line’s ratings of 1 and 2, representing the most stable and financially-sound dividend-paying companies and higher-than-average dividend yield, as compared to the indicated dividend yield of the S&P 500 Composite Stock Price Index.”  The top picks were:Value - Valueline
  • Forbes: “Return To Value Stocks: Cisco And Three Others To Buy” – 10/7/13 : “At ValuEngine.com we show that 77% of all stocks are overvalued, 40.8% by 20% or more. 15 of 16 sectors are overvalued 13 by double-digit percentages, seven by more than 20%.  This week there are four Dow components on this week’s ValuTrader watch list.”  The list included:Value - Fobes
  • SeekingAlpha: “12 Large-Cap Stocks Selling Below Book Value” : “Price-to-book ratio is used to compare a stock’s market value to its book value and it is calculated by dividing the stock price by the book value per share. The higher the price-to-book ratio, the higher the premium the market is willing to pay for the company above its assets. A low price-to-book ratio may signal a good investment opportunity, as book value is an accounting number and rarely represents the true value of the company.”Value - SeekingAlpha
  • 24/7 Wall St.: “Value Search: Dirt Cheap Tech Stocks” – 7/10/10:…” when you get companies that trade under 10-times believable forward earnings expectations and which have low multiples of sales and even a low implied book value, this is where value investors tend to focus.  Whether a turnaround comes or not might not even matter if stocks get “cheap enough” for the value investors.”Value - 24x7

The hit rate (performance exceeding that of the benchmark S&P 500 Index) of the 60 stocks for this random sample of five lists was 50%, not much better than randomly selecting 60 stocks from any or combination of the major Indexes.

We’re continually subjected to academic studies purporting to show the failure of technical analysis.  For example, Stockopedia had a piece entitled “Technical Analysis? 5 Reasons To be Sceptical about Charting in which they quoted an academic study that back tested the effectiveness of “5000 technical trading rules” grouped into four categories:

  • Filter Rules – prices move of various percentages.
  • Moving Average Rules – prices move above or below a long moving average
  • Channel Break-outs – prices move above or below a channel (trading range)
  • Support or Resistance Rules – prices move a certain percentage above or below a maximum or minimum price a number of periods back.

;The study concluded that “no evidence that the profits to the technical trading rules we consider are greater than those that might be expected due to random data variation.”

I’ve now turn the tables and measured the effectiveness of some fundamental trading rules.  Although perhaps subject to criticism for being insufficiently rigorous, I convinces me that there is “no evidence that the profits to the fundamental trading rules are greater than those that might be expected due to random data variation“.

April 5th, 2013

Gold (GLD) in an “Indecision Zone”

I was recently accepted as a “columnist” for the subscription portion of SeekingAlpha.com, a well-respected stock-oriented editorial site, and quickly got my first submitted article accepted.  Much to my disappointment, however, my second submission was wrongly rejected, I believe.  The rejection notice stated:

As a fundamental investing site, Seeking Alpha doesn’t publish articles based primarily on Technical Analysis.  Feel free to post this piece to your instablog.  Thanks!

Sincerely Yours,

SA Editors

As you might expect, this response raised my blood pressure on several counts.

  1. First, I thought that I had summarized most of the fundamental arguments, bullish and bearish, covering the subject of the future direction of gold prices.
  2. Second, I can’t imagine any site that doesn’t take technical factors into account when presenting content about stocks, markets, commodities and forex can do so without including a heavy dose of technical factors and opinion.
  3. Finally, why isn’t there a site that features articles contributed by vetted contributors focusing on technically-based market and stock opinions?  It might even be called www.stockchartists.com

In any event, the rejected article appears below. What say you? Should it have been rejected? Would you be interested in reading or even contributing to a technically-based content market opinion site?

========================================================================

imageI know both the bull and bear fundamental arguments surrounding gold, you’ve heard alll of them before.

  • The Bulls point to the fact that gold is both a commodity used by industry and consumers and, perhaps even more so, a safe haven alternative for fiat money and store of accumulated wealth.
    • Central banks around the world flooding the market with currency that eventually will lead to inflation and rising commodity and gold prices
    • A fixed world-wide supply of gold in a world of ever increasing demand
    • Increased demand resulting from the growth of ETFs
    • Increased demand due to increased wealth from emerging market consumers
    • Increased demand from governments beginning to accumulate
    • Continued political uncertainty
    • Finally, the price of gold is still only around 70% of its inflation adjusted peak price of $2300 reached during the 1970′s energy crisis.
  • The Bear’s argue that the price of gold has quadrupled with only minor corrections from less than 50 in 2005 when the GLD ETF was first made available.
    • Hedge funds are reportedly unloading their large cache of GLD
    • There will be better places to invest your money than gold as stocks and commodities continue to reflect an improved economic environment
    • The bull market for gold paralleled the secular bull market for bonds therefore a reversal in fixed income secular trend will also lead to reversal in gold prices.
    • QE and monetary easing will end soon and the excess money supply that the Fed pumped into the economy will begin to be drained
    • Governments are actually unloading their gold hoards

Rather than trying to second guess the experts and come up with my own prediction of gold’s future direction, I believe price action and trend best represents the consensus of how the world’s investors actually act on their beliefs. There’s no question that the price of GLD has stalled but what isn’t as clear is whether this the beginning of a reversal leading to sharply lower prices or whether this period could be actually represent the end of a consolidation pattern.

In the chart below, there’s not question concerning the top boundary of the pattern … it’s clearly defined.  There are two possibilities, however, for the zone’s lower boundary. The blue dashed line assumes the zone is a descending triangle reversal top pattern while the green dashed line assumes the zone is a flag consolidation pattern. We will be left in the dark as to which pattern interpretation is correct until GLD declines to approximately 137, or down another 7.4%, at which point GLD will likely find some support.

It’s said that “the longer the pattern the stronger the trend out of that pattern”. If the price stabilizes around 137 and then reverses, a major bull move could be launched that could finally carry GLD substantially above its previous high of 182. But if it again fails after that reversal at around 150, or today’s price, then a reversal top would be confirmed leading to further declines possibly to under 100. GLD is clearly in an “indecision zone” (click on image to enlarge) and I would wait to make any further commitments either way (bullish long or bearish short) until investors drive the price out of the zone one way or another.

Bull and Bear Gold Case

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March 25th, 2013

The Known Stock Market World

imageI was asked to read Paul Farrell’s most recent blurb on the Wall Street Journal’s blog site Marketwatch.com entitled “New Critical Warning as 2013 shocker looms” in which he enumerates 6 new critical warnings, which added to the 7 he says were issued last year but to which there doesn’t seem to be a convenient link of the site.  This “critical warning” comes from Gary Shilling (the others came from Bill Gross, Nouriel Robini, Reinhart and Rogoff and Farrell himself.

Farrell clearly spells out that their vision of economic and market doom is rooted in their dislike and distrust for Fed Chairman Bernanke and his policies.  Is it professional jealousy?  Does it come from an contest between Keynesian and Austrian monetarist inside schools of economic philosophy?  In Farrell’s own words:

“Timing is critical at a turning point. We warned of the coming crash well in advance in 2008. We picked the bottom in March 2009. We are in the fifth year of an aging bull. These six Critical Warnings tell of a hard turning point dead ahead. Wake up. It takes time to restructure a portfolio. If you think you can do nothing and just wait for another year, you are like most investors: You just “can’t handle the truth.” Or you “have no idea what’s about to happen.” Or you believe “this time really is different.”

But the truth of the matter is that all these perma-bears have continually been calling for the market’s reversal and demise since last year, a 15% missed opportunity had you taken their heed and fled the market.  Was the turning point in 2012, in January 2013 or some undefined point in the future.  Why do these guys want us to sell equities?  Where do they want us to put our money?  Are they gold-bugs in disguise?

I’ve been reading much over the past couple of years from those who view a market reversal at the level of the previous all time high high as indisputable.  The reasons they offer could be technical, like Prechter’s obtuse Fibonacci reckoning, or fundamental economic, like those of Farrell, et al.  To me, it all sounds like a through-back to beginning of the Age of Discovery in the 1500′s when most believed the world was flat and you’d fall off if you sailed to the end.

1500 WorldYou could sail the Mediterranean Sea or Indian Ocean but sailing beyond the sight of land meant sure disaster.  It’s like the course the market’s followed since 2000, the Secular Bear Market seas.

Map of Known Stock Market

So long as we don’t venture outside the bounds, we know the landmarks, the levels at which the market pivoted in the past and has a probability of pivoting again in the future.  If the market reversed direction for a third time, we can guess, by looking at the above “map of the known stock market” where islands of rest might be and where it might reverse direction again.

But if half the stocks break into their own all-time new high territory and cause the index, by definition, to also begin to venture into uncharted territory then where will the first island be?  Where might we hit and wreck on a market/economic shoal or reef?

Bottom line: are you someone who has the confidence to sail where no one has ever sailed before to discover new lands and new wealth?

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February 14th, 2013

Earnings Guidance vs. Wall Street Expectations

imageWe’re driving home when my wife turns on her smartphone and begins checking her emails.  She comes across the latest issue of a fundamental newsletters to which she subscribes, Earnings Whispers, and begins reading aloud some of the results reported in it that day, February 5, 2013:

  • USANA Health Sciences Inc (USNA) said it expects 2013 earnings of $5.10 to $5.25 per share on revenue of $700.0 million to $720.0 million. The current consensus earnings estimate is $4.84 per share on revenue of $689.5 million for the year ending December 31, 2013.
  • HNI Corporation (HNI) said it expects a first quarter non-GAAP loss of $0.07 to $0.01 per share. The current consensus earnings estimate is $0.06 per share for the quarter ending March 31, 2013. However, the also company said it expects 2013 earnings of $1.25 to $1.45 per share. The current consensus earnings estimate is $1.40 per share for the year ending December 31, 2013.
  • AFLAC, Inc. (AFL) said it continues to expect 2013 earnings of $6.86 to $7.06 per share on a constant currency basis, but if the US Dollar/Japanese Yen averages 90, then it expects 2013 earnings of $6.37 to $6.57 per share. The current consensus earnings estimate is $6.68 per share for the year ending December 31, 2013.

Unable to focus on the important of the “news” because I was driving, I asked her to just forward that email to me so I could take a closer look later.  The next day, I attempted to make my way through as many of those “earnings guidance announcements” only to find that they made little sense, had little relevance and, I thought, were as virtually useless to me the next day as they had been the previous night.

Wall Street fails to acknowledge that earnings announcements and expectations are actually relative, comparative things: one isn’t correct and the other not, one isn’t bad and the other good …. in these cases, the only thing that can accurately be said is how one compares to the other.  It impossible to know whether a wide discrepancy between the number a company reports and the a “mathematical average” of the expectation of the Wall Street analysts who follow the company for various firms is due to gross miscalculation on the part of the analysts or performance on the part of the company.  I’ve always believed that a fairer, more accurate measure of performance is to compare the current results relative to the results in a comparative prior period.

The only reason, in my humble opinion, the media and Wall Street place so much emphasis on these comparison is to reinforce their sense of self-worth and to prop up the notion that stock prices are somehow precisely linked mathematically to the consensus and “accurate” view of the companies’ anticipated future results.  Furthermore, when there are differences between that consensus view and actual results (or the companies’ expectation of what those results will be) then “an perfectly efficient market” would instantaneously and correctly adjust the stock prices to those new “facts”. According to their view, every company somewhere has a hidden “fair value” that its stock is gravitating towards and supply, demand and momentum has nothing to do with it, if they exist at all.

Sixty-one companies announced some guidance on February 5:

Earnings GuidanceSome interesting facts about those announcements:

  • The market was in an uptrend for the five trading days prior to the 2/5 announcements and continued higher over the five days after.
  • The biggest reversal in direction was for stocks that were in a negative trend prior to Negative Guidance; 9 of 15 stocks traded higher over the 5 subsequent days for an average gain of 4.5%
  • Regardless of whether Guidance was Inline, Negative or Positive, 73.7% of the reporting stocks were higher five days later than on the day of the announcement.
  • The largest percentage (21%) of stocks that reversed trend down after announcing were actually stocks that gave Inline guidance.

Granted, five days before and after is arbitrary, a sample of 61 announcements is small but these results only confirm for me my decision basically to tune out, to mute, to ignore all the “Earnings Season” nonsense and to focus instead on what the big money is actually doing as reflected in longer-term stock charts.

 

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November 29th, 2012

Head-and-Shoulders Patterns: FDX Case Study

The key point in yesterday’s discussion of the GLD and AAPL head-and-shoulders patterns can be summed up in the post’s last paragraph:

“……. no matter how good these chart patterns may look a year from now, unless and until they cross their necklines, there’s no certainty today that they won’t fail to deliver.  While getting in early will produce a greater return, the trade entails significant risk that the stock actually winds up moving in the opposite direction.”

The point perhaps not made emphatically enough is that even though head-and-shoulders stock chart patterns appears on the surface to be similar to the results of a series of random coin tosses there is a major difference between the two should the price/value cross the neckline.  The result of coin tosses merrily continues on a random path, the path in the prices/values in stocks, indexes and commodities subsequent to a cross of the neckline usually becomes impacted by a feedback loop know as “momentum”.

When they see new highs or lows being set as the price/value crosses the neckline, investors expect, even anticipate, a continuation of the prevailing trend.  That predisposition causes them to place trades (either buy if a cross above or sell if a cross below the neckline) in anticipation of being able to close those positions some time in the future at a profit.  Coin tosses have no connection with the future but investors do.

The trading rule, therefore, is that investors should wait to commit to their prospective position until momentum is launched and the signal in the form of a neckline cross is evident.  [This presumes that a neckline is something obvious and concrete but that's the topic for the next post.]

Let’s look at another example of that trading rule.  One advisory service recently substantiated their large position in FDX (Federal Express) by arguing that FDX was restructuring their operations so that their Express division is “refined” and their Ground operation “will lead to better margins and more market-share take against UPS.”  Somebody has to perform good fundamental analysis but it’s not clear whether individual investors are equipped or has the time to uncover and evaluate such information.  Large institutional investors (what I call “the heard”) do and what we can do is to follow their footprints in their hunt for big game.

If only a small percentage of the herd know or arrive at the same conclusion as the above the FDX analysis then price action in FDX shares will not be impacted dramatically.  If the analysis is correct and is reflected in operating results, the rest of the herd will join the chase and price momentum will begin.  If its efforts, the FDX shares will languish at best and fall at worst.  I would want to buy the shares only after, and not before, sufficient numbers of investors begin to believe in the FDX transformation and the shares begin to rise.

FDX stock has been restrained from continuing its uptrend by a resistance trendline (“neckline”) for over 5 years.  It isn’t relevant to the trading strategy whether you envision an emerging inverted head-and-shoulder pattern (square 1) or the longer-term ascending triangle (square 2).  To believe the story, you have to “show me the money”. You need to see the shares cross above the resistance trendline (the “neckline”) to have confidence that the uptrend momentum is sufficiently sustainable before foregoing other opportunities and putting your good money into FDX stock.  As my slogan says, “fundamental analysis is subjective, momentum is a fact.”

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October 10th, 2012

Assessing Market Opportunities and Risks

It’s been some time since I last posted because, well, because there wasn’t much new or much positive to write about.  As a matter of fact, the last time I wrote about the market was on August 29 in “Every Trading Range Is Not a Reversal Top“; the market is a mere 1.56% above the level at that close.

I pretty much fully invested now; I like most of the stocks I own since I’ve been cleaning house as this bull run has progressed.  There are a ton of stocks that look like they, along with the over-all market are struggling to clear an intermediate sort of resistance level (the market Index may actually be stuck in the claws of a tiny “buyers’ remorse” correction after having barely crossed above that resistance at 1420-1425.

One must always evaluate the market in two ways : what are the upside opportunities and what sort of downside reversal risks are there.  When I step back today from the market’s day-to-day noise, I see upside potential to the 1567 all-time high level.  However, I also see what I hope will be only short-term obstacles.

My longer-term optimism comes from the fact that the market has steadily crawled up the lower boundary of an ascending channel emanating from last year’s low connecting with this year’s March low.  The parallel upper boundary of the channel conforms nicely.

Furthermore, this spring’s correction can be interpreted as a flag pattern.  Traditional chart reading rules of thumb suggest that the consolidation pattern will be approximately midway between the trough of the channel and the peak.  If that turned out to be true, then the peak should be somewhere in the 1600 area (1410/1125*1280), or not far from the all-time high.

The fly in that ointment is volume which just doesn’t seem to be cooperating so far.  Since 2011, the 50-dma of daily volume of the S&P 500 stocks has been trending lower (with the exception of last summer’s correction).  Even more ominous is the divergence that’s emerged between the Index levels and the on-balance-volume.  For those who need a refresher, OBV is Joseph Granville’s indicator in which volumes on up days are added and volumes on down days are subtracted from a rolling total.  A declining OBV indicates that volume on days when the market closes lower tend to exceed the volume on days when the market rises.  A divergence indicates that a rising market isn’t supported by adequate volume.

There’s sufficient cash on the sidelines waiting to be put to work and fixed income with it’s low rates isn’t the place to put it anymore.  ZeroHedge had an interesting piece this morning entitled “Are Businesses Quietly Preparing For A Financial Apocalypse?” about all the cash sitting on corporate balance sheets.  If the uncertainty coming from Presidential Election, Fiscal Cliff and continuing Eurozone saga then a good chunk of that money, both investor and corporate, could come into the stock market and make up for the volume drought.

While prices haven’t indicated a reversal process emerging yet, there sure are a lot of risks out there, both fundamentally and technically.

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September 12th, 2012

Fundamentals Trumped Technicals in XHB; Avoid Mistake in XLF

I could kick myself.  I allowed what people said was the fundamental realty get in the way of clear contrary picture in the charts and it cost me a bundle.  Not real dollars but only an “opportunity cost” for not having put my money to work there; but it hurt almost as much regardless.  I’m talking about the near perfect bottom reversal patterns that most home builders were building over the past three years and from which most broke out during the first quarter.

At the end of 2010, the home ownership affordability index (the number of Americans who could afford purchasing a home) was nearly the highest ever recorded.  According to a February 2011 RISMedia report:

“Nationwide housing affordability during the fourth quarter of 2010 rose to its highest level in the 20 years since it has been measured, according to National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index (HOI) data. The HOI indicated that 73.9% of all new and existing homes sold in the fourth quarter of 2010 were affordable to families earning the national median income of $64,400. The record-setting index for the fourth quarter surpassed the previous high of 72.5% set during the first quarter of 2009 and marked the eighth consecutive quarter that the index has been above 70%. Until 2009, the HOI rarely topped 65% and never reached 70%.”

And yet, most of the talking heads and business media throughout 2011 and 2012 continued to look at home prices and sales statistics and wonder whether and when housing would hit bottom.  For example, USNews on April 26 reported:

Is the housing market in good shape or is it retreating back into recession territory? That’s the question on many observers’ minds as they try to sift through several reports this week that gave a somewhat murky picture of the state of the housing market…..Just this week, the widely followed Case-Shiller Home Price Index showed that values continued to erode in many metropolitan areas, with prices falling to a near-decade low nationally. Several cities registered new post-crisis lows on the index, further evidence that the “housing market bottom” remains elusive.Sales of new homes also disappointed this week, dropping more than 7 percent in March after a healthy gain in February. Overall, sales are still way short of the 700,000 or so units experts consider evidence of a “healthy” housing market.

So I continued to be leery of the home building stocks even though I’d been following and writing about them for some time.  Way back in May 2011 I called homebuilders and financial stocks the economy’s missing fourth wheel saying “If you believe that these two sectors will be able to successfully cross their resistance hurdles and begin advancing to levels last seen in 2008 then you should be “all-in” believing the market will continue heading towards the all-time high.”  I reposted that blog in January 2012 saying “If those groups [homebuilders and financials] start advancing this time, the rest of the market may not be much far behind.”

I must confess I was scared off by the various fundamentalist-based talking heads who kept looking at the trees (i.e., home prices and sales statistics) and therefore couldn’t see the forest (gaining momentum in homebuilding stocks).  I should have stuck with the charts and jumped on the unbelievable, steady move in homebuilding stocks which are up 45% this year, about the most of any industry group:

Last month I wrote that money flow is beginning to be “directed into financial stocks gives hope that, absent a new major crisis (although our own Federal debt and budget debate is still looming on the horizon), the market will be able finally to continue to the previous all-time highs and ultimately break the grips of the 12- going on 13-year secular bear market.  A cross of the XLF above 16 will trigger for me the another clear indication that financials will begin leading the market higher.”  I can report that XLF is making progress in its base-building and edging closer to the breakout level:

I missed out on that very clear-cut opportunity but don’t plan to miss the new one in the financials.

 

August 16th, 2012

Scaling the Wall of Worry

Are we at a bullish or bearish pivot point?  If you’re looking for market advice from CNBC you’re looking at the wrong place.  The best way to get viewers is to create and stimulate controversy and that’s what CNBC does every single day.  You get a lot of different opinions but you can’t get just one straight opinion that you can act on.

A perfect example was how they juxtaposed, on two successive days earlier this week, Jeremy Segal of Wharton Business School articulating a bullish outlook followed the next day by Doug Kass of Seabreeze Partners pushing a bearish perspective today.  Interestingly, couched inside both opinions were opposing opinions on the impact of Romney’s selection of Ryan as his V.P. candidate:

  • First, they put on Jeremy Siegel who endorsed the Ryan selection because of Ryan’s budget-cutting efforts and suggested that, as a consequence, the market will advance to around 1500.
  • Kass came the next day suggesting than Ryan’s selection will lead to Obama’s reelection and driving the the market down to 1300 (interestingly, he started his pitch by using an invalid and inaccurate technical view  of the market) because of Ryan’s conservative history and his known hostility towards Bernanke.  Kass believes that the highs for the market have already been made.

So what is the average investor to do?  Which opinion should we embrace?  Or is watching merely a total waste of time.

If you’re obsessed with trying to guess the upcoming election’s impact on the market then you have to come up with answers to a series of difficult and highly subjective questions:

  • Is a Romney win looked on favorably or not? an Obama reelection?
  • Is the market already discounting the election of one or another candidate?
  • If there was a market bias towards one candidate vs. the other then would an upset create an adverse market reaction after the election?
  • How does control of Congress factor into the equation?
    • What if Congress is split?
    • What if Congress is controlled by the same party?
    • What if control of both houses goes to the opposing party?

And those are just the questions that easily roll off the top of my head.  Clearly spending much time trying to answer these questions is futile.  Making investment decisions today based on what you have figured out to be the correct answer to each of these questions is foolish.

There can only be four options that drive your investment decisions today based on your prediction of an event in a little more than 11 weeks.  Sell, buy, do nothing or ignore the  election and base your decision on what’s happening today.

My answer is always to “follow the herd” rather than make my own fundamental analysis.  I’m not proud; I want to do what the majority of the money sloshing around the market is doing today rather than trying to second guess whether they are right or wrong in going in the direction that they are.  I want to know how strong the market’s momentum is and the direction in which it’s driving.  As far as I’m concerned, there’s no doubt as to that answer.

For the first time since October 2009, the market next week as measured by an index of the 500 stocks comprising the S&P 500 Index will create a situation where the market’s current level will be above its average level over the prior 50 days  which will be higher than its level over the average of the prior 100 days which will be over the average of the prior 200 days.  Finally, they will all be higher than the market’s average level for the past 300 trading days.  The same will soon also be true for the index of stocks comprising the Dow Jones 30 Industrials and, for the Dow Theory followers, the DJ Transports.

On July 17, four weeks ago when the S&P 500 closed at 1357, I described the market’s consolidation flag and went out on a limb to say a cross above 1420-25 would lead to the market climbing to 1575.  Today, the market closed at 1415, or 4.27% above that July 17 close.  Hopefully, all the uncertainties and “Alerts” and “Breaking News” and “Earnings Season” jabbered about on CNBC didn’t scare you away from being in the market.  It didn’t scare the big money herd who have been accumulating stocks and, in the process, forcing prices higher.  They may reverse course but, I doubt it more ever day.

Come back often to check on the market’s progress.  Better yet, become a Member and see where I’m putting my money to take advantage of this advance … while it lasts …and the Industry Groups from which I select the stocks I buy.

August 3rd, 2012

PEP vs ZMH: Technical vs Fundamental Analysis

We’re all often warned that we should be carefully about information we find on the internet.  Sometimes it’s true, sometimes it’s strictly opinion, sometimes it’s offered with some ulterior motive and sometimes it’s just inaccurate opinion.  Take for example the daily email midday alerts from Cramer’s theStreet.com.  The one today included a piece entitled “Katz: Two Names Continue to Impress.  The headline worked because it caused me to open the link.

Katz leads off with the following statement:

“In the second quarter, I recommended PepsiCo (PEP_) and Zimmer Holdings (ZMH_). Both companies recently reported better-than-expected earnings for that quarter, but their stocks followed very different trajectories. PepsiCo shares rallied to a recent high of $72.76, while Zimmer’s share price declined a bit to $58.70 based on a modest revenue shortfall and some market-share loss in the U.S. I continue to like both names, with a particular emphasis on Zimmer in light of the stock’s recent price decline.”

Katz goes on to repeat each company’s fundamentals like products, market share, sales and earnings growths and dividends history.  While he likes PepsicCo from a fundamental perspective, he is disappointed in Zimmer’s financial performance and marginal market share erosion.

But comparing PEP and ZMH is truly like trying to compare an apple to an orange.  They are in radically different industry groups and their stocks have dramatically different volatility and dynamics.  The only thing linking them is the performance of the stock market (remember, “the stock market drives 50% of a stock’s performance”).  Since he mentions only in passing the stock performance of each and that’s essentially all that we’re interested in, I’ll offer the two charts (click on image to enlarge):

PEP

ZMH

What’s interesting about these two charts (as contrasted with the long-winded fundamental analysis presented in theStreet.com offering), is that:

  • The stock market action impacted both stocks similarly
  • Both stocks have completed a right triangle and currently are at the neckline
  • Where they differ significantly is in volatility.  As expected, PEP has been about half as volatile as ZMH, a trend that might be expected to continue as the market soon breaks into new high territory.

TheStreet.com piece states that “This is a free preview of commentary that originally appeared in Real Money – the premium investment information service from TheStreet that delivers investment strategies from a veteran team of Wall Street pros, including Jim Cramer.”

With information like that above, why would you want to subscribe to their service?  I, for one, would rather rely for my investment decisions on seasoned technical analysis.  By the way, if your bullish you’d put your money into ZMH and if bearish into PEP; at this stage of the market’s correction, my bet would be with ZMH

May 30th, 2012

FAST: Revisited

When I get disgusted about the market, frustrated that everything seems to be moving so slowly and despondent when charts fail to deliver as they promised, I turn to some prior posts and revel in those prognostications that worked out.  An example of one of those is the case of FAST (Fastenal) which I wrote about on February 4 in a piece entitled “Two views from the Heart and the Mind“.  The post was spurred by an analyst who indicated that FAST was over valued based on his analysis and he recommended it be sold; the previous FAST close was 48.30.

I took a different approach and looked at the very long-term chart for FAST and found that the stock was approaching the upper boundary of a 17 year ascending channel.  I concluded that

“An unequivocal ascending channel since 1994 with parallel trendlines and, yes, FAST is approaching the upper trendline.  If the stock continues to rise at its current rate then, after another 16% move higher, it will touch the upper boundary at around 56.  A slower ascent will allow a slightly higher touch point.  My conclusion is that one can get another 16% gain before the “overvaluation” becomes an issue.”

The chart I used was (click on images to enlarge):

Nearly four months have passed since that post and I must admit that we were both correct. FAST is currently at 44.60 so that other analyst was correct, the stock is down 10% since his call. However, I was correct also. FAST actually almost did touch the upper boundary; it hit a high of 55.05 on March 27, seven weeks after the above sell recommendation. That was a single point away from what I saw my target and 14.0% higher than the 48.30 sell recommendation price:

So when you begin to lose your confidence, you need some moral support, you feel like you’re being pulled in many directions in the battle of the bulls and bears, then it never hurts to look at your successes.  No one is going to give you moral encouragement, pat you on the back or give you that ego boost …. you have to do it yourself.

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