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

Posts Tagged ‘gold’

My Simple, Safe Investment Strategy for Playing Risky Stocks

By for Profit Confidential

Here's a Strategy to Play Momentum Stocks While Limiting RiskThere’s some hand-holding required out there in the stock market. We have seen destruction in the momentum biotech and Internet stocks that have corrected by more than 30%.

Now we are hearing some analysts on Wall Street saying to jump back in—but I’m hesitant at this juncture, as the downward risk is likely not over yet.

The reality is that, given the superlative gains recorded in 2013 by many of these biotech and technology momentum stocks, you shouldn’t be surprised to see the current malaise.

The fact that many of these highflying stocks in the stock market have more than doubled in a year should be a red flag. My simplest advice is to wait for the selling to subside in the stock market before you jump into these stocks.

You also need to be careful when hearing the bullish comments by Wall Street firms on these momentum stocks. Many of these firms have investment banking relationships with these stocks; it’s only natural to support your clients in the bad times.

Don’t get fooled by the stock market rhetoric. Instead, take a prudent approach to the stock market.

You don’t want to be caught exposed on this stock market unless you are fine with losing money should the selling intensify. Like I wrote at the beginning of the year, making money on the stock market will not be easy this year and capital preservation should be your objective.

Now, if you are willing to risk some capital and feel a stock market bottom is near, then what I suggest you do is consider using call options as a risk … Read More

Stock Market Setting Up for Extended Break?

By for Profit Confidential

Soft Q1 Suggesting Market Set for Extended BreakThe S&P 500 index really hasn’t done much since the beginning of the year but churn…but then again, why shouldn’t it?

For stocks, 2013 was an exceptional year. If we get another positive year on top of dividends, then it’s total gravy.

The capital gains over the last several years have been highly unusual, representative of the gains often seen after a major financial crisis.

There are no bandwagons to jump on in this stock market. Investor sentiment finally had a bit of an awakening over the last several weeks. Big investors booked some profits after the big price recovery in February, which occurred because of verbal reassurances by the new Fed chair, Janet Yellen. If there wasn’t further hand-holding from the Fed, stocks likely would have continued January’s sell-off into a full-blown correction, helped by events in Ukraine.

I’m of the mind that the stock market may take an extended break over the next two quarters, as it’s so often done in the past—probably more of a price consolidation over a correction; top-line growth is still pretty modest.

I’m still a big fan of dividend income and also a higher weighting given to cash within a portfolio context. Very little stands out in this stock market as an exceptional buy. There are some exciting innovations in the marketplace, but valuations for many of these stocks are still way off the charts.

Precious metals continue to prove themselves as an unreliable asset class. Spot prices are stuck and all-sustaining mining costs per ounce are still going up. It’s a tough road ahead for precious metals stocks.

But this is … Read More

Why the Fed Will Have to Get Back into the Paper Money Printing Business Soon

By for Profit Confidential

U.S. Economic GrowthIn the early days of the 2008 financial crisis, the Federal Reserve said, “Job losses, declining equity and housing wealth and tight credit conditions have weighed on consumer sentiment and spending. Weaker sales prospects and difficulties in obtaining credit have led businesses to cut back on inventories and fixed investment.” (Source: Federal Reserve, March 18, 2008.) As a result of this, the central bank came up with the idea of printing paper money to stimulate the economy; thus, “quantitative easing” was born.

Five years later, the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet has grown to $4.2 trillion. We also saw the U.S. government increase spending to stimulate the U.S. economy after the Credit Crisis of 2008. The U.S. national debt skyrocketed from around $9.0 trillion back then to over $17.0 trillion today.

With all this money being created (by the Fed) and borrowed (by the government), the logical assumption is that there’s finally economic growth in the U.S. economy.

Wrong!

Paper money printing by the Federal Reserve and out-of-control spending by the government hasn’t really given much of a boost to the U.S. economy (aside from the stock market bubble it has created). Problems still persist. The amount of paper money that has been printed out of thin air is huge—an unprecedented event in American history.

Now that the Federal Reserve is putting the brakes on quantitative easing (it will print less money each month), will we see businesses pull back on capital spending? Of course we will. When money is tight, businesses pull back on research and development, expansion, and acquisitions.

Consider this: since December of last year to this past … Read More

How to Play an Upside Breakout in Oil Prices

By for Profit Confidential

Oil Prices Are So Dependent on RussiaOil prices could be setting up for an upside break if the situation in Crimea intensifies and a military conflict emerges between Russia and Ukraine over the rights to Crimea.

Since the price of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude broke out to over $100.00 a barrel in early 2011, oil prices have done very little, trading largely in a sideways channel with support in the $80.00 level and resistance around $110.00.

The global economic renewal has helped to support oil prices in spite of the continued stalling in China. Return to growth in the eurozone is also adding some support, but for oil prices to shoot higher, there really needs to be a geopolitical event, such as what we are seeing in Crimea. Of course, don’t forget the Middle East, which still has its major issues, especially with the speculation that Iran is building nuclear-enabled weaponry.

Light Crude Oil ChartChart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com

There’s also the crazy dictator of North Korea, Kim Jong-il, who has continued on the same path his father was on, isolating the country. His testing of several missiles earlier this week into South Korea was just another signal that he craves attention.

At the end of the day, to make money in oil will largely be dependent on the hot spots of the world.

While I doubt Russia will launch a military assault on Ukraine, you never know with President Putin. If this should happen, oil prices would vault higher to above $110.00 a barrel, and likely maybe even higher toward the $150.00 level, last reached in 2008 prior to the subprime crisis.

So while oil prices could ratchet … Read More

Why Is the U.S. Dollar Collapsing in Value All of a Sudden?

By for Profit Confidential

Whey the Fed May Need to Reverse its Decision to Cut Back on Money PrintingWhen news first broke from the Federal Reserve that it would slow down the pace of its quantitative easing program, the consensus was that the U.S. dollar would start to rise in value as the Fed would be printing fewer new dollars and actually eliminating all new paper money printing by the end of 2014.

But the opposite has happened.

Below, I present the chart of the U.S. Dollar Index, an index that compares the value of the dollar to other major world currencies.

US Dollar Index - Cash Settle (EOD) Ice ChartChart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com

As the chart clearly shows, the dollar started on a strong downtrend in July of 2013. When I look at the dollar compared to individual currencies like the euro and British pound, the picture looks even worse.

The common belief since the Credit Crisis of 2008: when there’s uncertainty, investors run towards the safety of the U.S. dollar. But something started to happen in mid-2013. Despite China’s economic slowdown, despite the situation with Russia and Ukraine, and with the Federal Reserve cutting back substantially on its money printing program, one would think the U.S. dollar would rally in value—but the opposite is happening.

Two reasons why the greenback is falling in value so fast:

First, world central banks have been slowly selling the U.S. dollars they keep in their reserves, as the percentage of world central banks that use the dollar as their reserve currency has fallen from more than 70% in the year 2000 to just over 60% today.

Secondly, with the Japanese and Chinese reducing the amount of U.S. Treasuries they buy and with the Federal Reserve reducing the paper … Read More

How Gold Has Caught Me by Surprise

By for Profit Confidential

How Tensions in Crimea Are Changing My Gold Investment StrategyI must admit that I’ve been somewhat caught off guard by the strong rally in gold so far in 2014. The yellow ore has been on a nice upward push towards the $1,400-an-ounce level; it could even take out this level and head towards some tough resistance around $1,425–$1,450.

While the rally appears to be holding, I still only view the yellow precious metal as a trade, and not a buy-and-hold for investors at this time. I would be selling into further weakness if you are holding gold or any related stocks.

What I think is driving the upward move in gold prices is the associated cautious moves in the stock market and the geopolitical tensions triggered by the situation in Crimea. If stocks can regain their enthusiasm, I would expect a retrenchment in the precious metal as money is shifted out. (Read why I feel stocks are heading higher in “Why I Believe the S&P 500 Could Easily Reach 2,000 in the Upcoming Months.”)

My past contention was that gold was a trading opportunity. Back in late 2013, I saw a bearish “head and shoulders” formation on the chart, after which prices fell towards support at $1,200. The oversold nature was supportive of a bounce on the charts, but the gains so far this year have been much more than I would have expected, largely due to the uneasiness in equities so far.

The precious metal could see more buying should the tense situation in Ukraine and Crimea escalate following the vote on Sunday that could lead to Crimea separating and joining Russia. While there has yet … Read More

Former Momentum Stocks Signpost to Sell?

By for Profit Confidential

Price Momentum Suggests Portfolio RebalancingA good amount of speculative fervor has come out of this market so far this year, but there’s still quite a bit of valuation froth around.

Across the board, 3D-printer stocks have come back. 3D Systems Corporation (DDD) still boasts a trailing price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio of around 150.

Tesla Motors, Inc. (TSLA) is still going strong. It’s one of few super-hyped stocks that made a strong recovery in January after a material sell-off months before. (See “Buy High, Sell Higher: Top Investment Strategy for Buoyant Markets?”) The position just bounced off $265.00 per share. Next year, Wall Street estimates the company will do more than $5.0 billion in sales.

Looking at the stock market currently, there’s a lot of indecisiveness and geopolitical events are overshadowing the action.

Watch large-cap biotechnology stocks (or the NASDAQ Biotechnology Index) for their trading action specifically. This group of stocks reaccelerated strongly in February and is very much overdue for a material correction.

I’ve noticed several key momentum stocks within the group have started rolling over. This should be a strong contributing indicator to the short-term action unrelated to specific events happening in Ukraine.

Gold is holding up well with the geopolitical tensions, and oil prices are too, but to a lesser degree.

Stocks are due for a break. What looked like the makings of a material correction in January, equities reversed direction after the Federal Reserve, once again, reiterated its willingness to be highly accommodative to capital markets.

This kind of market (after such a strong 2013 for stocks) warrants a significant degree of caution. I wouldn’t be jumping onto any bandwagons. … Read More

Reaching the Point of Maximum Optimism

By for Profit Confidential

Bear Market Twists News to Lure in More InvestorsThis past Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 175,000 jobs were added to the U.S. economy in the month of February. (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, March 7, 2014.)

The way the media reported it…

“Friday’s jobs market report caught the market by surprise,” was what most media outlets were telling us via their untrained reporters. The expectation was an increase of 149,000 jobs in February (after a dismal December and January jobs market report) and so the usual happened—stocks went up and gold went down on a jobs market report that was only slightly better than what was expected.

The consensus, from what I read, is that the jobs market in the U.S. economy is getting better. Of course, I think of this as hogwash. And as I’ll tell you in a moment, this is the kind of misinformation that is characteristic of what happens in a bear market in stocks, not a bull market.

Within February’s jobs market report, we find:

The long-term unemployed (those who have been out of work for six months or more) accounted for 37% of all the unemployed in the U.S. economy. The longer a person is unemployed—likely because that person has not been re-trained for the jobs market—the less likely it is that person will eventually find work.

Today, once a person becomes unemployed in the U.S. economy, that person remains unemployed for an average of 37 weeks! This number remains staggeringly high. Before the financial crisis, this number was below 15 weeks. (Source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis web site, last accessed March 7, 2014.)

When you have a … Read More

The Great Social Media Stock Bubble of 2014

By for Profit Confidential

Allan Greenspan Be Bearish on the Stock Market Right NowA few days ago, I woke up to news that reminded me of the “Dot-com Boom” of the late 90s and early 2000. I’m sure you remember those days—the days when any company with “.com” attached to it received a lot of attention….and a high stock price. Investors bought these stocks without any concern for non-existent revenues; forget earnings.

These days, social media stocks are the new “dot-com” wonders. We recently heard that Facebook Inc. (NYSE/FB) bought “WhatsApp,” an instant messaging application for smartphones, for $19.0 billion. The valuation doesn’t make much sense; the company has only 50 employees, 460 million monthly users, and no clear business model.

Last year, we saw Twitter, Inc. (NYSE/TWTR) do an initial public offering (IPO). On its very first day of trading, the stock price increased by more than 70%. This company lost more money in 2013 than it did in 2012. Twitter’s loss per share in 2013 amounted to $3.41 compared to a loss of $0.68 in 2012. (Source: Twitter, Inc., February 5, 2014.) But investors shouldn’t fear; in the last quarter of 2013, hedge funds got into the game and bought Twitter’s stock.

Dear reader, I’m not saying Facebook or Twitter is a sell. What I am saying is that the behavior we see on the key stock indices, especially for social media stocks, is not sustainable. It resonates with what we have seen in the past—investors pouring money into companies with no business model to generate profits.

In Allan Greenspan’s past words, key stock indices are showing signs of “irrational exuberance.”

I’m concerned about the big picture for key stock … Read More

The Last Group of Burgeoning Stocks

By for Profit Confidential

The Income Stocks Investors Now CraveQuite a bit of speculative fervor has been zapped out of this market, which is helpful for the longer-run trend.

With the exception of biotechnology stocks, trading action has softened in initial public offerings (IPOs), 3D (three-dimensional) printer stocks, cloud software stocks, and even a lot of restaurant stocks that only recently were very hot.

The stock market is just a continuing cycle of fluctuating investor sentiment. Valuations among junior energy producers got really excessive last year and the entire group now seems to be in consolidation.

Gold and silver stocks appear to have been toast for a while. As is always the case in resource investing, even the best growth stories can’t generally get their share prices moving if the underlying commodity price is stagnant. Precious metals stocks have always traded in manias, and this is not likely to change.

In a slow-growth environment, dividend income is key. And after an exceptional year like 2013, it may just be the only rate of return to be had.

But like so many large-cap stocks last year, some of the best dividend payers have already gone up tremendously. There isn’t a lot of value for an equity buyer these days.

One specific sector that continues to be relatively hot is the master limited partnerships (MLP) of energy companies. There is very good yield to be had from this sector in addition to the potential for capital gains. There have been countless new listings of these securities, and the North American production boom is the reason.

One firm that illustrates the combination of capital gains and income that can be found … Read More

Uncertainty in Emerging Markets Creating Certainty in Only One Market

By for Profit Confidential

This Is the Only Play that Will RewardFasten your seatbelt, dear reader. We’re in for a global financial crisis, a currency fiasco, and a stock market collapse all in the same year!

I’m being too bearish? Not after you read this…

In their search for economic growth in 2009, the Federal Reserve and other major central banks in the global economy started lowering interest rates and printing paper money.

While the central banks of the world wanted economic growth, they inadvertently created the “trade” for big investors like financial institutions and banks. I talked about this last Friday. (See “Stock Market: The Great Collapse Back to Reality Begins.”)

The “trade” had investors borrowing money from low interest rate countries and buying bonds in high interest rate countries, pocketing the spread. In the world of finance, this is often referred to as the “carry trade.” It works as long as the currencies of the low interest rate country and the higher interest rate country stay stable.

But now, the “trade” is backfiring as the currencies of emerging markets go into free fall.

China, the biggest economy in the emerging markets and second-biggest in the global economy, got most of the “trade” money. According to the Bank for International Settlements, in 2013, foreign currency loans and borrowing by Chinese companies from other countries was close to a trillion dollars. In 2009, it was only $270 billion. (Source: Telegraph, February 1, 2014.)

European banks have the biggest exposure to emerging markets, having lent them $3.0 trillion. Breaking down this number even further, British banks have loaned $518 billion to the emerging markets; Spanish banks come in second … Read More

Stock Falling, but Rich Still Spending; My Top Luxury Stock Play

By for Profit Confidential

Why This Luxury Retailer Is Simply the BestThe stock market is in turmoil and looking for help from buyers. While some are calling for investors to run to the exits, I look at weakness and market chaos as a buying opportunity.

It’s simply unrealistic to think that all stocks deserve to fall during a market adjustment like what we are seeing at this time. There are good companies out there that will stage a strong rally when the tide in the stock market turns.

In the retail sector, we saw a gasp of air from troubled J. C. Penney Company, Inc. (NYSE/JCP), as the former retail sector and Wall Street darling struggles to stay afloat. With about $2.0 billion or so of liquidity left, it’s going to be a race against the clock. J. C. Penney reported a 3.1% jump in comparable-store sales during the holiday shopping season, which is a good result for this turnaround play. (I’d rather stick with these two contrarian retail sector plays, though, which you can read about in “These Retail ‘Screw-ups’ Could Turn Things Around This Year.”)

My top luxury play in the retail sector, as many of you know, is Michael Kors Holdings Limited (NYSE/KORS).

In November 2013, I wrote, “The chart of Michael Kors shows the steady upward trend in the stock since the beginning of 2012. There is some congestion and resistance at this time…but we are seeing a bullish ascending triangle and a possible upside breakout on the horizon, based on my technical analysis.” The stock was up 20% Tuesday morning. (Read “My Favorite Pick Among the Luxury Brand Stocks.”)

It’s obvious why … Read More

The Supply Shortage in the Gold Pits No One Is Talking About

By for Profit Confidential

Four Reasons Why Gold Prices Are Headed Higher in 2014Is it just me, or are the banks, who’ve never really cared about the direction of gold bullion, turning outright negative on the precious metal?

• A research paper by Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (NYSE/CM), known as CIBC for short, said “Gold has been dented in recent quarters by an absence of inflation, greenback strength and investors’ rotation into stocks to capitalize on an expected pick-up in growth… As implied by our 2014-end target of $1,000 per ounce, we nonetheless continue to feel the metal still has further to fall in the next year or so.” (Source: CIBC, “Commodities: Warmer Growth to Heat Up Resources Next Year,” December 2, 2013.) In other words, CIBC’s opinion is similar to that of analysts at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (NYSE/GS), who also believe gold bullion prices will fall to near the $1,000 level this year.

• A forecast from Bank of America Merrill Lynch (NYSE/BAC) said, “Gold values will be hurt by Fed tapering, a resurgent U.S. dollar and a lack of investor interest in the metal. We expect gold to drop to $1,100 an ounce at some point in 2014…” (Source: Bank of America Merrill Lynch, “BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research 2014 Year Ahead Outlook,” December 10, 2013.)

• UBS AG (NYSE/UBS) cut its 2014 gold bullion forecast from $1,325 to $1,200 an ounce. The bank said, the “struggle for gold not only rests with the predominant selling, but with limited positive catalysts looking forward, gold is unlikely to regain its former appeal.” (Source: Market Watch, “UBS cuts 2014 forecast for gold and silver,” December 3, 2013.)

I believe these … Read More

The Only Way I’d Invest in Gold in 2014

By for Profit Confidential

Why I’m Not a Gold Bug in 2014Despite all of the talk about China and India buying lots of gold (high demand) and how the precious metal is a limited resource (limited supply), I still do not like the commodity as a buy-and-hold investment at this time.

Yes, China and India love their gold, which is used for jewelry and prestige. But unless the speculators and traders jump aboard, I just don’t see why anyone would want to buy right now.

As I said in previous commentaries (see “Should Investors Hold Out for $1,300-an-Ounce Gold Before Investing?”), gold, in my view, isn’t an attractive buy-and-hold investment at its current levels around $1,235 an ounce; to me, the yellow metal looks interesting as a buy on a decline to the $1,200-an-ounce level or below, when traders can enter and sell on rallies.

The key driver of prices—inflation—is not an issue at this point, so this precious metal becomes a less interesting buy with no real reason to hedge.

Global inflation continues to be benign. In China, inflation is hovering around the three-percent level. India is experiencing inflation above seven percent, but its impact on the global economy is minimal. In the eurozone, inflation came in at 0.8% in December, according to Eurostat, which is well below the two-percent target.

The volatile Middle East is also absent of any major geopolitical risk at this time, which drives down the demand for safe haven assets such as gold.

Until we see a rise in global risk and inflation, I doubt any upside moves in the yellow metal will be sustainable.

Even with the low relative value of the … Read More

Where the Gains Will Be in 2014

By for Profit Confidential

New Year to Be Bullish for Stock Market InvestorsIn 2013, the Federal Reserve gave stock market investors some of the easiest gains in history as a result of its quantitative easing. Now, as we move into 2014, while I believe it will likely be another up year for the stock market, I doubt the gains will be as good as last year’s.

Let’s take a look at the situation in 2014.

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke will be gone in a few weeks and in will come Janet Yellen, another dovish banker who loves to use easy monetary policy to drive the economy. This implies that the tapering process could be slow and could take into 2015 to complete—good news for the stock market.

But the reality is that the unprecedented flow of the Fed’s easy money into the stock market over the last four years is a thing of the past. The flow of money will now depend on the rate of economic renewal and, more specifically, the jobs market and whether the rate of job creation continues to move along at a steady pace.

Since the announcement of the Fed’s $10.0-billion-a-month cut in bond buying (which I believe is a sensible move at this point, given the current economic renewal and jobs market growth), some uncertainty has been removed from the stock market; as a result, the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) have reached record highs. (See “Fed’s Move to Taper the Right Choice for the Stock Market in 2014?”)

If the economy continues to strengthen, jobs are created, and the Fed tapers slowly, the stock market could be rewarded for the … Read More

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