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

Posts Tagged ‘S&P 500’

Why the Stock Market Just Doesn’t Make Sense Anymore

By for Profit Confidential

Clear Signs Stock Market Acting IrrationallyThe concept of corporate earnings being the single biggest factor that drives key stock indices like the S&P 500 higher has been thrown out the window.

While I continue to see analysts issue buy recommendations for the S&P 500, the fact of the matter is that profits at companies that make up the S&P 500 are declining. For the first quarter of 2014, corporate earnings for the S&P 500 companies are actually expected to decline by 1.6%. (Source: FactSet, April 11, 2014.) That’s the biggest drop in public company profits since 2009!

But the stock market doesn’t care if corporate earnings are declining…just like it doesn’t care if interest rates are rising. These are clear signs the market is acting irrationally—an indicator of a stock market bubble.

Just look at what happened with The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE/KO). This well-known S&P 500 company reported that its first-quarter 2014 corporate earnings declined by eight percent and revenues dropped four percent compared to the same period one year early. (Source: The Coca-Cola Company web site, last accessed April 15, 2014.)

But the market took Coca-Cola’s stock price higher on the bad results!

Below is the chart of Coca-Cola’s stock price, just as the markets opened (circled area) after the company reported its poor corporate earnings results. The stock gapped up 2.8%! This confirms my take that the fundamentals don’t count anymore to investors.

Coca Cola Co ChartChart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com

At the end of the day, all of this seems too familiar to us. This is what we have seen prior to other stock market sell-offs: investors discounting all forms of time-proven stock market valuations because … Read More

The Economy: What Will Break the Camel’s Back This Year

By for Profit Confidential

Baltic Dry Index Collapses Again; Not a Good Sign for EconomyThe International Monetary Fund (IMF) has lowered its growth forecast for the global economy. It says the world economy will now grow by 3.6% in 2014 and 3.9% in 2015; it grew at three percent in 2013. (Source: International Monetary Fund, April 8, 2014.)

I see the IMF forecast on global growth as being far too optimistic. In fact, I think we’d be lucky to get three percent growth in the global economy this year. Key indicators I follow suggest demand in the global economy is close to outright collapsing.

Consider the chart below of the Baltic Dry Index (BDI). This index tracks the shipping prices of dry goods in the global economy. If it declines, it suggests global demand is declining. The BDI has plunged more than 48% since the beginning of the year, pointing to slow growth for the global economy ahead.

Battic Dry Index Chart Chart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com

Manufacturing is another indicator of demand in the global economy that we follow. If manufacturing activity increases, it means demand is increasing and that consumers are buying more. Sadly, global manufacturing is suggesting an economic slowdown is the most likely scenario ahead.

The JPMorgan Global Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index declined to its lowest level in five months in March. (Source: Markit, April 1, 2014.)

Adding to the misery, most economic hubs are telling the same tale.

The eurozone is still in trouble; the European Central Bank is contemplating its own quantitative easing program as Italy just reported its highest unemployment rate ever recorded. China is pumping out weak economic data. Japan’s economic slowdown isn’t taking any break despite the central bank … 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

One-Third of S&P 500 Companies Report No Revenue Growth

By for Profit Confidential

Why This Is Such a Risky Stock MarketThose who follow the stock market closely know that on days when we hear the chairwoman of the Federal Reserve speak and she mentions something about “easing” or how the central bank will continue to use its “extraordinary measures” for a long period of time, the stock market jumps.

I’ve talked about this phenomenon many times in these pages. Another example of this happened on March 31, when the Fed chairwoman spoke in Chicago. Please see the chart below. It’s a minute stock chart of the S&P 500. I’ve circled a rough area around the time when Janet Yellen spoke.

 SPX S&P 500 Large Cap Index ChartChart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com

As she spoke more of that “easing” talk, the stock market jumped, as usual.

So it has come to the point where the stock market rises when it hears the Fed will keep interest rates artificially low for a prolonged period of time and when a poor jobs report comes out (like last Friday morning’s), saying jobs have been created in spite of the fact that there is a heavy concentration of jobs growth in low-paying sectors and millions of people have given up looking for work.

In other words, we have reached the point where the stock market takes any news as a reason to move higher; this is characteristic of a market top.

When we look at the fundamentals of the stock market, we see companies in the S&P 500 are using financial engineering to boost per-share earnings. These companies have bought back their shares and have been cutting costs to boost profits as revenue growth just isn’t there anymore.

The proof? In the … Read More

Significant Divergence Between Copper Prices and Stock Market Not to Be Ignored

By for Profit Confidential

Two Leading Indicators Warn of a Stock Market TopIn the midst of all the optimism we see towards key stock indices these days, there are two leading indicators that are flashing warning signals. They say, “Be careful, and don’t get caught up in the euphoria.”

Let’s start with the amount of money investors are borrowing to buy stocks…

Margin debt, the amount of money borrowed to purchase stocks, is one of the leading indicators of where key stock market indices will go. Historically, the higher margin debt gets, the more risk for key stock indices. This indicator predicted the top of the stock market in 2007 and the Tech Boom top of 2000.

As it stands, margin debt on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) is at its highest point ever recorded—$451 billion. (Source: New York Stock Exchange web site, last accessed March 25, 2014.) Sadly, this fact continues to be ignored by stock advisors. Yes, investors have borrowed almost half a trillion dollars to buy NYSE-listed stocks!

Another key indicator that suggests key stock indices are stretched is copper prices.

Since the beginning of the year, copper prices have plunged lower. What’s interesting about this is that copper prices usually top before the key stock market indices do; they usually bottom before stocks as well. In the chart below, I have plotted copper prices (black line) over the S&P 500 and circled areas where copper has acted as a leading indicator of key stock indices.

SPX S&P 500 Large Cap ChartChart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com

Copper prices topped in 2007 before key stock indices did. Then in 2009, they bottomed out well before the S&P 500, about three months earlier. Then in 2011, … Read More

Have I Got a Deal for You! The Stock Selling at 573 Times Earnings That Just Keeps Rising

By for Profit Confidential

Have Stock Market Investors Lost Their MindsStock market valuations are severely stretched by historical standards. Earnings multiples and other financial ratios no longer make sense. But despite this, investors are still buying.

I continue to preach: the days left in the stock market’s rise are numbered.

As I see it, excessive speculation rules the stock market right now. And that is dangerous because investors are making decisions that they shouldn’t be making. Irrationality is growing. Those who say the stock market will decline, like me, are few and far between.

Investors are putting big money into companies that are nowhere near being profitable.

Just look at Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ/AMZN), a component of the S&P 500. According to bigcharts.com, Amazon.com stock is selling at 573 times its earnings! Since the stock market rally that began in 2009, the stock price of this online retailer has climbed more than 800%.

The price-to-book ratio of Amazon.com (that is the ratio of market value of the company compared to its book value) stands at 17.38. (Source: Yahoo! Finance, last accessed March 24, 2014.) The price-to-book ratio for Amazon.com’s sector—online retailers—is 11.0. (Source: New York University Stern School of Business web site, last accessed March 24, 2014.) By this measure, Amazon.com is overvalued by almost 60% compared to its sector average.

But Amazon.com is just one example of an overpriced stock; there are many other companies in the S&P 500 that don’t make sense as an investment, unless you are playing the “greater fool” theory. That’s when you buy a stock not because it pays a good dividend or because it makes a lot of money, but because the next guy … Read More

NASDAQ, Russell 2000 Signaling Buying Opportunity Ahead?

By for Profit Confidential

Why I'm Concerned About the Stock Markets Near-TermFolks, I’m beginning to get somewhat concerned about the stock market in the near-term. I’m not saying the stock market is going to crash, but there are some technical indications of a possible correction or adjustment in the near-term.

The S&P 500 recently traded at a new intraday record, but the key stock market indices have declined in three of the last four sessions. What makes matters worse is that the downward slide in the stock market was associated with higher-than-average trading volume, which is a bearish indicator in technical analysis, as it suggests a pick-up in selling momentum.

We all know that momentum can be good or bad depending on which way the stock market is going and whether you long or short the stock market.

What concerns me is not only what’s happening in Crimea and the concerns regarding the Federal Reserve’s recent actions, which I have previously discussed. (Read “The Stock Market Needs to Do This in 2014 Before I Invest More in It.”) Rather, what really concerns me is that we are now seeing a breakdown on the charts of the momentum technology stocks that had helped to drive up past euphoria in the stock market. We are seeing many of the high-momentum stocks fall by 10% or more. This suggests fragility and a potential downward slide coming up for the broader stock market.

Also, the disappointing initial public offering (IPO) debut of King Digital Entertainment plc (NYSE/KING) Wednesday was a red flag; it suggests that the IPO market may be losing some of its recent appeal or that traders are simply nervous about … Read More

Time for Investors to Create an Exit Strategy?

By for Profit Confidential

Should You Be Considering an Exit Strategy at This TimeWe have Russia annexing Crimea from Ukraine and interest rates set to float higher sometime in early 2015, but the S&P 500 continued to edge up to another record-high on Friday.

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen is continuing to pull back on the quantitative easing that the former chair, Ben Bernanke, put in place. By year-end, the bond buying will likely be eliminated as the central bank allows the economy to try to stand on its own two feet. Of course, if everything goes well, Yellen also plans to begin ratcheting up interest rates as soon as early 2015. This could impact the stock market.

The upward move in interest rates and the elimination of quantitative easing means the easy money that had been pumped into the economy by the Federal Reserve will come to an end. This is concerning for the stock market, as the easy money has largely been the key reason why we are in the fifth year of this superlative bull stock market.

While it’s enticing to sit on all of the gains achieved so far, you should also be conscious of the profits made and should look at several risk management strategies.

The most important lesson is to take some money off the table and avoid soaking a possible downdraft in the stock market that could severely reduce your gains.

Making sure you have an exit strategy is paramount at this time.

I fully expect another downside move in the stock market sometime in the upcoming quarters. (Read “Stock Market Setting Up for Its Next ‘Fire Sale’?”)

You can also set a … Read More

Just How Stupid Do Public Companies Think Investors Are?

By for Profit Confidential

When All Else Fails to Explain Declining Earnings, Blame the WeatherAccording to FactSet, between January 1 and mid-March of this year, 195 of the S&P 500 companies have used the word “weather” in some manner in their conference calls. This is 81% higher than the same period a year ago, when 108 of the S&P 500 companies used the term “weather” in their conference calls. (Source: FactSet, March 14, 2014.)

Public companies in key stock indices are preparing investors for poor first-quarter earnings by saying poor (extra cold) weather conditions this year are putting a damper on sales.

Take FedEx Corporation (NYSE/FDX) as an example of the many companies on key stock indices blaming the weather for dismal corporate earnings. While presenting its most recent quarterly corporate earnings for the three months ended February 28, the CEO of the company said, “While severe winter weather often affects our (fiscal) third-quarter results, the impact from multiple severe storms and frigid temperatures was significantly more pronounced this year and we are reducing our full-year earnings per share guidance as a result of the weather impact.” (Source: “FedEx Corp. Reports Third Quarter Results,” FedEx Corporation, March 19, 2014.)

How can you lay blame on one quarter’s “bad weather” for the entire year’s earnings performance? The way I look at it, the “weather” is just a “blame factor” for companies in key stock indices that are facing earnings growth issues.

Stock analysts have really been busy lowering their corporate earnings expectations for companies in key stock indices. In the first quarter of this year, on average, analysts expect the corporate earnings of the S&P 500 companies to increase by only 0.3%. At the end … Read More

My Top Investment Strategy for a Stalling Stock Market

By for Profit Confidential

How to Guarantee a Selling Price for Your StockThe current stock market sentiment is bullish and based on the charts, there are indications that the market wants to go higher, especially technology and small-cap stocks.

The S&P 500 is eyeing another record-high and it may just reach it by the time you read this.

While stock market investor sentiment continues to display bullish new highs and new lows, there’s also a sense that the road to higher gains will not be an easy path.

The economic renewal is maintaining a muted pace, in part due to the harsh winter conditions, but what if the economy was actually showing signs of slowing?

Jobs growth in February improved over January, but the jobs market still has not reached a level of self-sufficiency without continued help from the Federal Reserve via low interest rates.

What I expect, after looking at the stock market indices, is that we will likely see new records broken on the horizon. (Read “Why I Believe the S&P 500 Could Easily Reach 2,000 in the Upcoming Months.”) However, the advance will be more hesitant than in 2013 and the past years, since the current bull market is into its fifth year and is very much absent of a major stock market correction, based on my technical analysis.

Given this, I’m somewhat nervous, but there are alternative investment strategies you can consider at this time.

If you feel the stock market may pause and trade in a sideways range through the spring and summer months, you may look at writing covered call options on some or all of your existing long positions that have associated options…. Read More

Why Investors Shouldn’t Overlook This Emerging Market

By for Profit Confidential

Three Ways to Profit from Brazil's Growing EconomyThe stock market continues to want to go higher despite the lack of any major new catalyst and the renewed tensions in the Crimea region of Ukraine.

Yet despite the bullish sentiment at this time, the gains have been much more difficult to come by, as I had predicted at the beginning of the year. This year clearly won’t be a repeat of 2013.

Now, the move of the S&P 500 to 2,000 may still occur later this year, but for greater price appreciation potential, you should look to add positions in regions around the world that are currently struggling but offer above-average longer-term potential.

Here I’m talking about the emerging markets, where we are seeing a clear buildup in wealth and consumer spending. In my view, China remains at the top of the list. (Read “Investment Opportunities in Depressed Chinese Stocks.”) Of course, the stalling economic recovery in the country despite economic growth being above 7.5% has made it more difficult to be a believer in the Far East. But its time will come again, and you will want to be there when it does.

You may be hearing pundits saying to avoid the emerging markets, but I would disagree. Yes, the emerging markets are struggling now, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look for a potential buying opportunity there.

Take a look at the iShares MSCI Emerging Markets chart below, which shows the recovery from the lows in 2004 and the successive low in 2009. The index is currently moving sideways due to the uncertainties in the emerging markets, but it appears to be showing … Read More

Two Most Important Charts on Stocks You Will See This Year

By for Profit Confidential

What a Bubble Looks LikeThis month marks the fifth year of the rally in stocks that started in March of 2009. Back then, the Dow Jones Industrial Average traded as low as 6,400 and uncertainty was severe. In the midst of all this, a buying opportunity of a lifetime was born. I told my readers to buy close to when the market bottomed in March of 2009.

Five years later, the opposite is happening. I continue to believe the stock market is reaching a top; I continue to tell my readers stocks are very risky. The upside potential for the stock market is diminishing and the risks of a severe downside move are increasing: preserve your capital is my message now.

From March of 2009 to the end of February 2014, the S&P 500 has gone up about 155%. Other indices like the Dow Jones Industrial Average and NASDAQ Composite have shown similar—if not better—performances.

But as key stock indices soar, we are seeing the fundamentals that traditionally drive stocks higher weaken. Corporate insiders are dumping stocks at an alarming rate; corporate earnings growth has dropped to its slowest pace since 2009; the Volatility Index is near the low it was at just before stocks collapsed in 2007; and margin debt on the NYSE has reached a record high—all very bearish factors.

And from a technical point of view, something interesting has also happened on the key stock indices. Below is the weekly chart of the S&P 500.

$ SPX S&P 500 Large Cap Index Chart

Chart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com

Since the beginning of 2012, there hasn’t been any major correction or pullback in the stock market and trading volume has steadily … Read More

Stock Margin Debt Reaches Record-High, Surpassing 2007 Pre-Crash Level

By for Profit Confidential

Proof Stocks Are Near Their TopAs key stock indices like the S&P 500 make new highs, bullishness increases almost daily, and stock advisors are saying buy more.

I am not surprised by this. All of these irrationalities tell us something very important: the bear is doing a great job of luring investors back into stocks as it gets ready to take their money away once again.

Dear reader, heed the warning signs of a market top…

Those who are very close to the companies in key stock indices are selling their shares at an extreme pace. According to CNBC, in February, insiders sold $5.3 billion worth of shares and bought roughly $268 million worth of shares; for every one dollar of stock they bought in February, they sold about $20.00 worth. (Source: “Insider Activity and Concentration by Industry,” CNBC web site, last accessed March 5, 2014.)

According to the Vickers Weekly Insider Report, corporate insiders are more bearish on the stocks of the companies they work for today than at any other time since 2007. (Source: MarketWatch, March 4, 2014.)

But insider selling activity isn’t the only indicator that worries me about the direction of the key stock indices. We see problems in corporate earnings, as well.

The number of companies warning about their corporate earnings for the first quarter of 2014 continues to increase. So far, 84 companies on the S&P 500 have issued negative guidance about their first-quarter 2014 corporate earnings. (Source: FactSet, February 28, 2014.) Remember: corporate earnings, at the core, are what drive the key stock indices higher. Even analysts aren’t very optimistic about corporate earnings; they are expecting first-quarter … Read More

Why I Believe the S&P 500 Could Easily Reach 2,000 in the Upcoming Months

By for Profit Confidential

S&P 500 at 2,000 and Buying Opportunity on the WayIt’s amazing how the stock market can easily reverse course from bad to good and vice versa. When the threat of Russia invading Crimea picked up, the stock market retrenched; but it didn’t last long, as the subsequent withdrawal of Russian troops led to a stock market in the following days that drove the S&P 500 to yet another record-high and the NASDAQ to its highest point in 14 years. Now whispers of 5,000 are being heard. (Read “Where to Find the Best Buying Opportunity in This Stock Market Going Forward.”)

As I said in a previous column, the retrenchment in the stock market presented a buying opportunity; although, it’s too bad the selling didn’t last longer.

The Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) Volatility Index (VIX) continues to hover in the mid-teens, where it was throughout the majority of 2013 when the stock market boomed. The current relatively low reading in the VIX suggests the stock market will likely head higher, which means investors should stay put and add on weakness.

A look at the S&P 500 shows a likely break at 1,900 this week if the bulls can hold on, and it will just be a matter of time before we see the index take a run at 2,000, which I surmise could happen sometime in the second half of the year; however, it could occur in the next couple months, if the bulls decide to drive the buying and if the economic renewal continues worldwide. A move to 2,000 would represent only a 6.38% advance from the prevailing level at around 1,880 as of last Friday. … Read More

If This Indicator Turns, the Stock Market’s in Trouble…

By for Profit Confidential

Factors Now Creating a Positive Backdrop for This Stock MarketWith the stock market jittery due to geopolitical events, its underlying strength is highlighted by the relative outperformance of the NASDAQ Composite, the Dow Jones Transportation Average, and the Russell 2000. If these indices are doing relatively better than the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average, then there is still an underlying strength to a market that hasn’t experienced a material correction for far too long.

The stock market has done a very good job of recovering from January’s sell-off. Certainty from the Federal Reserve, fourth-quarter earnings results that were modest but mostly met expectations, and strong corporate balance sheets are providing a decent fundamental backdrop. The stock market can have another decent year if it isn’t sidetracked by some sort of lasting shock.

The other indicator that is not directly related to the stock market but certainly is worth taking note of is the spot price of oil. Oil prices have been holding quite solidly above the $100.00-per-barrel level.

Stronger oil prices are a reflection of their own specific fundamentals, but they’re also a barometer or gauge on the part of speculators regarding future economic activity. The spot price has brought back a lot of oil stocks that recently sold off and valuations are creeping up close to previous levels (which was very expensive for Bakken oil stocks).

I maintain a positive outlook for the stock market given current fundamentals and recognize, of course, that geopolitical events can turn investor sentiment on a dime. If the stock market were to experience a substantial price correction right now, I would view it as a buying opportunity.

Earnings estimates for … Read More

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