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

Where the Stock Market Goes From Here

Monday, November 26th, 2012
By for Profit Confidential

Where the Stock MarketThere are a number of research firms reporting this morning on how U.S. Black Friday sales fared compared to last year. I have already seen conflicting reports among different sales-tracking research firms. But there is one company I usually follow.

Chicago-based ShopperTrak reported that Black Friday sales in the U.S. fell 1.8% from last year. In 2011, sales on Black Friday were 6.6% above those of 2010. (Source: ShopperTrak press release, November 24, 2012.) The much weaker sales this Black Friday (the U.S.’s biggest retail shopping day) are consistent with what I have been writing about in these pages about the U.S. economy slowing.

At a think tank we held this weekend on the stock market, a couple of individuals said they thought key stock indices like the S&P 500 would go on to new all-time highs. This thinking amazes me in light of the recent market sell-off.

I don’t think these investors realize what the real issue behind the market sell-off is. No, it is not the fiscal cliff. Investors are selling, pushing down stock prices, simply because the corporate earnings of public companies are worse than expected. If companies were reporting weaker earnings, they were reporting declining revenues (not sure which is worse). Look at these key stock indices. They are in sell-off mode.

NASDAQ, DJIA, and S&P 500

nasdaq djia sandp 500

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As the third-quarter corporate earnings reporting season comes to a close, expectations for the current quarter are turning bleak. The most basic thing that drives the stock market higher or lower is the future expectation of corporate earnings; if corporate earnings growth is not there, key stock indices decline in value.

Let’s look at a couple of examples of what I’m talking about:

Cisco Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ/CSCO) reported a third-quarter rise of 18% in its corporate earnings. That’s great, but at the same time, the CEO of the company mentioned that the economy is challenging. Cisco’s revenue edged up due to a company acquisition, but the revenues of its core business—the sale of switches and routers—each declined two percent. (Source: Wall Street Journal, November 13, 2012).

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE/WMT), another S&P 500 company, reported an increase in its third-quarter corporate earnings, but reported revenues were below what the market was expecting. In addition, the company decreased its full-year corporate earnings outlook and issued a forecast for the fourth quarter that disappointed analysts on Wall Street. (Source: Associated Press, November 15, 2012.)

There is a staggering amount of companies on the S&P 500 and other major key stock indices that have given warnings to investors about possible corporate earnings disappointments for this quarter.

No matter which sector or stock index I look at, there is a significant amount of weakness present in them. The risk in being involved in stock markets is increasing; fewer and fewer companies are looking like safe bets.

Key stock indices are shedding the gains they’ve accumulated since the beginning of this year. I expect the trend to continue. Until I see corporate earnings increase (which I don’t see happening for months), I don’t for a second believe that the stock market is heading to new highs. (Also see: Two More Key Indicators Turn Bearish on the Stock Market.)

Michael’s Personal Notes:

Let’s pause and reflect for a moment. What was the main issue that drove the U.S. economy into an economic downturn in 2008 (that is still taking its toll)? It was the collapse of the housing market. It crippled the U.S. banking system and brought a Great Recession into the U.S. economy that will be remembered for a long time to come.

Since then, the housing market in the U.S. economy has improved in small geographic pockets. But now, data are increasingly coming out suggesting more trouble ahead for the U.S. housing market.

According to RealtyTrac, foreclosures in the U.S. economy actually increased three percent in October compared to the previous month. The company also reported that one in every 706 houses in the U.S. economy was in the foreclosure filing process. (Source: RealtyTrac, November 13, 2012.)

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA), the agency which insures lenders against losses on their loans, is concerned about its reserves due to increasing mortgage delinquencies. The year 2013 could be the first time in 78 years that the FHA will need taxpayers’ money. The agency has 739,000 loans that are 90 days or more past due on hand—100,000 more than a year ago—representing 9.6% of all the loans it has guaranteed. The FHA has guaranteed $1.08 trillion worth of loans. (Source: Wall Street Journal, November 14, 2012.)

As I have been saying for some time now, my research shows it has been investors fuelling the housing market. Investors are buying troubled properties, fixing them up, and renting them out to tenants. The U.S. housing market, and the U.S. economy for that matter, will only start to bounce once there is an influx of real homebuyers. (Also see: Think There’s a Recovery in the Housing Market? Think Again.)

What He Said:

“I personally expect the next couple of years to be terrible for U.S. housing sales, foreclosures and the construction market. These events will dampen the U.S. economic picture significantly in the months ahead, leading to the recession I am predicting for the U.S. economy later this year.” Michael Lombardi in Profit Confidential, August 23, 2007. Michael was one of the first to predict a U.S. recession, long before Wall Street analysts and economists even thought it a possibility.

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  • Jacob

    economy and stock market could behave differently at times. more readings on your articles caused more confusion. In fact, my mind got clearer after ignoring you altogether.

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Michael Lombardi - Economist, Financial AdvisorMichael bought his first stock when he was 17 years old. He quickly saw $2,000 of savings from summer jobs turn into $1,000. Determined not to lose money again on a stock, Michael started researching the market intensely, reading every book he could find on the topic and taking every course he could afford. It didn’t take long for Michael to start making money with stocks, and that led Michael to launch a newsletter on the stock market. Some of the stock recommendations in Michael's various financial newsletters have posted gains in excess of 500%! Michael has authored and published over one thousand articles on investment and money management. Michael became an active investor in real estate, art, precious metals and various businesses. Readers of the daily Profit Confidential e-letter are offered the benefit of the expertise Michael has gained in these sectors. Michael believes in successful stock picking as an important wealth accumulation tool. Married with two children, Michael received his Chartered Financial Planner designation from the Financial Planners Standards Council of Canada and his MBA from the Graduate Business School, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, Scotland. Follow Michael and the latest from Profit Confidential on Twitter or Add Michael Lombardi to your Google+ circles

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