I’m going to stir the pot a bit this week. You know my mantra: no one can predict the market, the price of a stock, a bond or an index. But sometimes… there’s just that feeling right? So recently, my husband sent me two articles that contradict each other and I thought we could have some ‘fun’ dissecting them. I know everyone is waiting with baited breath for the market to make up its mind, so we can move on to more important things. Because so far, I’d call this the year of the Sidewinder.
In the first one, Morgan Stanley analysts believe the stock market is showing ‘signs of exhaustion’ and in the absence of a jump start, there could be a correction. Sooooo, despite some ‘solid readings’ on the 4th GDP (predictive) and overall positive earnings, the DJA, S&P and Nasdaq have all faced ‘downward pressure’. And even though Amazon had a strong quarter, and very strong 2nd quarter GDP numbers, they’re wondering what investors have to look forward to now? [How about a stronger second half of the year? Hint: They have to make predictions to get the traders to make their moves – especially the smaller traders]
I found the second article to be a little more intriguing… and falls into the Holy Moly! Wouldn’t that be schweet! category.
The S&P 500 is about to do something it hasn’t done in a midterm election year since Dwight D. Eisenhower occupied the Oval Office. It’s on track to end July in the green after a positive April, May and June. And apparently, that’s a rare bullish sign, according a chief investment strategist at Raymond James.
Going back decades where the market has been up in April, May, June and July, there have only been two instances, in 1954 and 1958, when the market – after a soft first part of August – rallied sharply into year-end.
In 1954, from the end of July through to the end of December, the S&P 500 rallied 16.5 percent. Over that same period in 1958, the index surged 17 percent. The strategist, Jeffrey Saut, expects a similar pattern this year. He sees the S&P 500 regaining records set in January and ending north of 3,000. A move to at least 3,000 represents 7 percent upside from current levels.
The S&P 500 had a weak start to August in both 1954 and 1958, falling by more than 1 percent in over one week both years. Saut sees a weaker start to August this year, as well.
“The crack in the FANG stocks … and the fact that the small caps have broken down in the charts … and the fact that our measurement of the market’s internal energy was pretty much used up led us to believe that you could get some weakness in the first part of August,” said Saut. “The setup would be for a strong recovery into year-end.” [What? Ok, I’ll take it.]
First off, bet you didn’t know there’s a new index, eh? The FANG. An acronym coined by the TheStreet’s own (and infamous) Jim Cramer. It refers to the market darlings: Facebook, Apple Inc., Amazon.com Inc, Netflix inc., and Alphabet Inc.’s Google. It will also include Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., Baidu Inc., Nvidia Corp, Tesla and Twitter. Given their size, performance and innovation, the FANG stocks are among the most widely traded stocks. The combination of the index’s stocks has returned 28.44% annually since September, 2014. They outpace the Nasdaq’s 14.89% and S&P 500 index’s 16.8% gains during the same period.
Yes, there’re all already in our portfolios. No, don’t run out and buy individual stocks for your retirement. See paragraph two above… and cautionary note to self: don’t get rationally irrational.
Back to data: The S&P 500 has seen a disappointing few final days of July – Netflix and Facebook tanked post-earnings. Both tech companies are one half of the FANG stocks. It could have been worse, said Saut, and the fact it was fairly isolated is a bullish sign, too. [Hmmmm…. FB losing $20 BILLION equates to bullish?!] But wait! There’s more.
“While the money is coming out of the Facebooks and Twitters of the world, and the Intels of the world, it’s finding other ways to invest,” he said. “A few years ago in the tech carnage, if Facebook would’ve coughed up a hairball like it [just] did, the whole market would’ve imploded. And that just didn’t happen last week.”
Facebook has lost one-fifth of its value over the previous three sessions, beginning last Thursday, while the XLK Technology ETF has dropped nearly 5 percent. The S&P 500 has held up fairly well with just a 1.5 percent decline. But perspective is everything. Facebook’s price right now is $171.88. Multiplied by 2.4B shares outstanding, gives it a market share of (drum roll) $412,800,000,000,000. That’s a lotta scoots.
And then, there’s Apple Inc., on its way to being the first trillion-dollar company. (More on this in another weekly.) It has a competitor; can you guess who?
Suffice it to say: tax and regulatory reform has had a major impact on companies wanting to grow, products being designed and launched, new companies going public, and millions of jobs coming on line. In fact, a recent WSJ article titled “Employers Eager to Hire Try a New Policy: “No Experience Necessary” – Inexperienced job applicants face better odds in the labor market as more companies drop work-history and degree requirements.” There are now more jobs than we have people to fill them.
All of which makes me very optimistic… and not exhausted at all. A company you’ve probably never heard of, right here in Columbia, just went public. And they’re growing rapidly worldwide and are projected to rake in over $320M this year. You never know where the next big invention, innovation, or service will come from. And an unfettered free market lifts all boats.
Your take away: the market will continue to move upward overall, with occasional dips and curves. I’ll bet on Adam Smith’s “Invisible Hand” any day over Wall Street’s punditry. So stay invested, disciplined and positive.
Oh… and this will probably help too: my economic guru buddies who are rarely wrong have reviewed the full GDP report. They tell us that it will almost certainly be revised upward to 4.5%.
They say signs in the report point to another 4% GDP for the 3rd quarter. If that pans out, we are in an HISTORIC Reagan-like economic turnaround.
Here’s one detail you might not hear on the news: as of Friday, 246 of the 500 S&P companies have reported earnings that can only be called “stunning” results. Eighty-six percent of the companies reporting have beaten Wall Street estimates, with average EPS growth of 27.1%.
And THAT should make you smile.