Lombardi: Stock Market Commentary & Forecasts, Financial & Economic Analysis Since 1986

Dow Jones

The Dow Jones Industrial Average, or Dow Jones, is a weighted index representing the stock price action of 30 of the largest U.S. corporations. It is the world’s most widely followed stock market index. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was created on May 26, 1896 and is named after Charles Dow and Edward Jones. The earnings and revenues of large corporations are often leading economic indicators. Hence, economists often look at the Dow Jones Industrial Average as an indicator of economic activity. If the index is hitting new highs, economic activity can be expected to be brisk in the next six months. Comparatively, if the index is falling to new lows, poor economic times could lie ahead.

What the Fear Index Is Telling Us About Stocks Now

By for Profit Confidential

Why This Stock Market Rout Is Here to StayOver the past few months, I warned my readers the stock market had become a risky place to be. While I also suggested euphoria could bring the market higher than most thought possible—to the point of irrationality—the bubble has now burst. Key stock indices are falling and fear among investors is rising quickly.

Please look at the chart below of the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) Volatility Index (VIX). This index is often referred to as the “fear index” for key stock indices. If this index rises, it means investors fear a market sell-off. If it declines, investors are complacent and not worried about the stock market falling.

Volatility Index Chart

Chart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com

In just the last 18 trading days (between September 19 and October 15), the VIX has jumped 122% and now stands at the highest level since mid-2012. It has also moved way beyond its 50-day and 200-day moving averages, which shows strength and momentum to the upside from a technical perspective.

Sadly, the VIX isn’t the only indicator telling us that investors don’t want to be in the stock market. Below you’ll find the NAAIM Exposure Index chart, a measure of equity exposure of active money managers (the so-called smart money).

NAAM Exposuer Index Chart

Chart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com

Active money managers continue to reduce their exposure to equities as key stock indices fall. On September 2, 82% of their collective portfolios were exposed to the stock market. Now, it’s only 33%. This represents a decline of 60% in their equity market exposure.

On the fundamental front, the stock market is constrained as well. Each day, we are seeing deteriorating economic data … Read More

Why Stock Prices Will Continue to Fall

By for Profit Confidential

Stock Prices Will Continue to FallNow that the Dow Jones Industrial Average has fallen 1,035 points (six percent) from its mid-September peak, the question investors are asking is “how far will she go?” For small-cap investors, the drama is greater, as the Russell 2000 Index has fallen 12.5% from its July peak.

Since 2009, every market pullback presented investors with an opportunity to get back into stocks at discounted prices. Even some editors here at Lombardi Publishing Corporation see the recent pullback in stocks as an opportunity.

But what happens if it is different this time? How about if stocks just keep falling?

If you have been a long-term follower of my column, you know I have been adamant about an economic slowdown in the global economy.

And let’s face it: the American stock markets have been addicted to the easy money policies of the Federal Reserve, namely money printing and record-low interest rates. But that is all coming to an end now. The Fed will be out of the money printing business soon and it has warned us on several occasions that interest rates will need to rise.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is now (or should I say, is finally) warning about an economic slowdown in the global economy. In its most recent global growth forecast, the IMF said, “With weaker-than-expected global growth for the first half of 2014 and increased downside risks, the projected pickup in growth may again fail to materialize or fall short of expectation.” The IMF also said the global economy may never see the kind of expansion it experienced prior to the financial crisis. (Source: “IMF says economic … Read More

Why Stock Buybacks Will End Up Being a Terrible Investment for Companies

By for Profit Confidential

Great Stock Buyback MirageIn these pages, I have been very critical about stock buybacks by companies on the key stock indices. I see them as nothing more than a form of financial engineering used to manipulate per-share corporate earnings…and a bad investment for the companies buying their stocks back.

According to data compiled by Bloomberg and the S&P Dow Jones Indices, companies on the key stock indices are expected to spend $914 billion on share buybacks and dividends this year. Looking at it from their corporate earnings perspective, public companies will be paying out 95% of what they earn. (Source: Bloomberg, October 6, 2014.) Look at it this way: for every $100.00 of corporate earnings, they are paying out $95.00.

Almost $2.0 trillion has been spent by public companies on stock buybacks since 2009.

When companies increase buybacks, all else unchanged, they show an increase in their per-share corporate earnings. Some of the biggest names in key stock indices are doing this. FedEx Corporation (NYSE/FDX) was able to increase its per-share corporate earnings by seven percent, almost all directly related to its stock buyback program (reducing the amount of shares it has outstanding).

Why do I think stock buybacks are bad?

Over the past few years, companies on the key stock indices, by buying their own shares back and removing them from the market, have created a mirage that business is good because their stock prices are rising.

But business isn’t better. If the S&P 500 companies are spending 95% of their corporate earnings on share buybacks and dividends, it means they are spending very few dollars on growing their business.

According to … Read More

The Nine-Month Check-Up

By for Profit Confidential

Nine-Month Check-UpWith nine months behind us this year, today we look at how two popular forms of investment have done in 2014 and where I think they are headed for the remainder of the year.

Starting with stocks, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed yesterday up 2.8% for the year. Given the risk of the stock market, 2.8% is no big gain. I wrote at the beginning of 2014 that the return on stocks would not be worth the risk this year. I was on the money. When we look at the broad market, the Russell 2000 Index is down 5.4% for the year.

Going forward, as you know as a reader of Profit Confidential, I see stocks as risky. Plain and simple, stocks are overpriced in an environment where the Federal Reserve is putting the brakes on paper money printing and is warning that interest rates are going higher.

On a typical day, I see the Dow Jones up 100 points; the next day, it’s down 100 points. This is happening in an environment where trading volume has collapsed. I wouldn’t be surprised to see October deliver us a nasty stock market crash.

Moving to gold (and this is very interesting), gold is flat for the year in U.S. dollars. But if we look at gold in Japanese yen, gold is up 4.6% for 2014. If we look at gold in Canadian dollars, bullion is up 4.6% as well this year. And if we measure gold in euros, we find gold bullion prices are up 10.4% in 2014.

What explains this?

Yesterday, the U.S. dollar hit another six-year high … Read More

What This Company’s Earnings Say About the Broader Market

By for Profit Confidential

Company’s Earnings Say About the Broader MarketFedEx Corporation (FDX) just bounced off a new record-high on the stock market and is an important component of the Dow Jones Transportation Average.

In its fiscal first quarter of 2015 (ended August 31, 2014), the company’s sales and earnings surged. It was a great quarter and a strong indicator for the rest of the market.

Total revenues grew six percent to $11.7 billion. This may not sound like a lot of growth, but it is for such a mature enterprise in a very competitive industry.

But the big news was the company’s strong earnings growth. Net income grew 24% over the same quarter last year to $606 million. Diluted earnings per share grew 37% to $2.10, of which $0.15 per share of the total was due to share repurchases during the quarter. The company bought back 5.3 million of its own common shares in its fiscal first quarter and no shares remain now under existing repurchase authorization.

Each of the company’s three main operating divisions posted solid gains in revenues and operating earnings.

Higher rates are not affecting demand. In fact, FedEx is experiencing higher revenue per package including increases in residential and fuel surcharges, and this is going right to the bottom-line. And rates are going up by an average of 4.9% at the beginning of 2015 for FedEx Express, FedEx Ground, and FedEx Freight, which cover most of North America, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

What the company didn’t do in its latest earnings report was increase its existing financial guidance for fiscal 2015. But this isn’t unusual for management to underplay their expectations … Read More

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