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

Posts Tagged ‘S&P 500’

Stock Market Fake? Economic Growth Falls to Slowest Pace Since 2009

By for Profit Confidential

Eurozone Economic Growth PrecariousNot too long ago, I reported that Italy, the third-biggest economy in the eurozone, had fallen back into recession.

Now Germany’s economy is pulling back. In the second quarter of 2014, the largest economy in the eurozone witnessed a decline in its gross domestic product (GDP)—the first decline in Germany’s GDP since the first quarter of 2013. (Source: Destatis, August 14, 2014.)

And more difficult times could lie ahead…

In August, the ZEW Indicator of Economic Sentiment, a survey that asks analysts and investors where the German economy will go, posted a massive decline. The index collapsed 18.5 points to sit at 8.6 points. This indicator has been declining for eight consecutive months and now sits at its lowest level since December of 2012. (Source: ZEW, August 12, 2014.)

Not only does the ZEW indicator provide an idea about the business cycle in Germany, it also gives us an idea of where the eurozone will go, since Germany is the biggest economic hub in the region.

But there’s more…

France, the second-biggest economy in the eurozone, is also in a precarious position—and a recession may not be too far away for France.

After seeing its GDP grow by only 0.4% in 2013, France’s GDP came in at zero for the first two quarters of 2014. (Source: France’s National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies, August 14, 2014.)

France’s problems don’t end there. This major eurozone country is experiencing rampant unemployment, which has remained elevated for a very long time.

While I understand North Americans may not be interested in knowing much about the economic slowdown in the eurozone, we … Read More

Why You Shouldn’t Overhaul Your Portfolio Right Now

By for Profit Confidential

Stocks Rolling Over Signal TroubleBiotechnology stocks and the Russell 2000 began rolling over at the beginning of July, followed by transportation stocks at the end of the month.

It’s definitely a signal that the stock market is tired, but after such a strong breakout performance in 2013, the market still hasn’t experienced a material price correction in quite some time.

Second-quarter earnings came in mostly as expected and many blue-chip stocks sold off on good results, while companies backed existing full-year guidance. This happens often, as management teams try to make it easier for the company to “outperform” Street consensus. In a lot of cases, the only reason earnings per share advanced comparatively was increased share repurchases.

But it was mostly a decent earnings season and corporate balance sheets remain strong.

There’s not a lot of action to take in this market. Stocks have gone up tremendously and earnings are playing catch-up with valuations.

A little extra cash isn’t a bad thing with equities at their highs; however, finding good value with the prospect of growth in this market is becoming difficult.

I still think the domestic energy sector has a lot to offer investors, particularly those who are looking for income. Pipelines are a good business to be in as they throw off lots of cash and in many cases, revenues are not tied to the spot price of the underlying commodity.

With speculative fervor now reduced as evidenced by the trading action in biotechnology stocks, initial public offerings (IPOs), and select technology companies, it’s reasonable to expect the next couple of months to be pretty lackluster in terms of trading action. (September … Read More

What Sports and a Winning Portfolio Have in Common

By for Profit Confidential

Why a Good Defense Is Key in Both Sports and StocksIn sports, teams usually require strength from both the offensive and defensive players on a team. Without consideration for one or the other, it makes winning more difficult.

In hockey, for instance, you can form a highly offensive team that can score at will, but if that output dries up, then you run into problems. The old belief that a good defense wins championships is often valid.

This approach can also be used for the stock market, especially given the current situation in 2014, when trading is largely erratic and devoid of any strong sustainable direction.

Over the past four years, when the bull stock market was firing on all cylinders, just simply buying stocks was a no-brainer. The gains tended to come easily and quickly.

Yet here we are in what has been a frustrating year for the stock market after the stellar gains in 2013. In fact, just like my sports example, it’s time to review your defense and make sure you have set up the right formation in your portfolio should the stock market continue to waver.

We all kind of knew that it would not be easy for the stock market this year. At the beginning of the year, the negative start in January suggested that there was a 46% probability the stock market would decline this year, according to the Stock Trader’s Almanac.

So while the DOW and Russell 2000 are negative this year, there’s still a chance these key stock indices can rally and finish in the black by year-end. Considering that the S&P 500 is up about 180% since the beginning … Read More

My Poor Italy

By for Profit Confidential

Why This Stock Market Will Fall Like a RockThis morning came the news that Italy, a country very close to my heart (just look at my last name) and the third-biggest economy in the eurozone, is back in recession.

And Germany, the biggest economy in Europe, saw factory orders in June drop by the most since 2011.

While the financial media has taken the focus off the eurozone over the past couple of years, I have continued to tell my readers about how bad conditions are there. I have the pleasure to travel to the eurozone several times a year. I can tell you first-hand how people there are suffering. Outside of Germany and the smaller, rich countries, jobs in the eurozone are extremely hard to find and wages are very soft.

The European Central Bank’s move to bringing its overnight deposit rate to negative is obviously not having its desired effect of getting banks there to lend out more money. Many eurozone banks are in serious financial trouble. You can’t force a bank to lend money to its customers if the bank is concerned about its own financial health.

With about half of the S&P 500 companies deriving revenue from Europe, it is no wonder American corporations are having trouble increasing revenue. Last week, the eurozone introduced wide-ranging sanctions against Russia because of the Ukraine situation. Russia is Germany’s largest trading partner in Europe—obviously, eurozone companies will feel the pain of the sanctions imposed on Russia.

In the U.S., we were already dealing with an overpriced stock market—a market characterized by heaving corporate insider selling, too much bullishness among stock advisors, the VIX Index saying investors … Read More

The Problem With Reality in 2014

By for Profit Confidential

U.S. Economy Halfway to a Recession AlreadyEarlier this month, Jeremy Siegal, a well-known “bull” on CNBC, took to the airwaves to predict the Dow Jones Industrial Average would go beyond 18,000 by the end of this year. Acknowledging overpriced valuations on the key stock indices are being ignored, he argued historical valuations should be taken with a grain of salt and nothing more. (Source: CNBC, July 2, 2014.)

Sadly, it’s not only Jeremy Siegal who has this point of view. Many other stock advisors who were previously bearish have thrown in the towel and turned bullish towards key stock indices—regardless of what the historical stock market valuation tools are saying.

We are getting to the point where today’s mentality about key stock indices—the sheer bullish belief stocks will only move higher—has surpassed the optimism that was prevalent in the stock market in 2007, before stocks crashed.

At the very core, when you pull away the stock buyback programs and the Fed’s tapering of the money supply and interest rates, there is one main factor that drives key stock indices higher or lower: corporate earnings. So, for key stock indices to continue to make new highs, corporate profits need to rise.

But there are two blatant threats to companies in the key stock indices and the profits they generate.

First, the U.S. economy is very, very weak. While we saw negative gross domestic product (GDP) growth in the first quarter of this year, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) just downgraded its U.S. economic projection. The IMF now expects the U.S. economy to grow by just 1.7% in 2014. (Source: International Monetary Fund, July 24, 2014.) One more … Read More

Small-Cap vs. Big-Cap: The Real Winners in This Market

By for Profit Confidential

Why I'm Not Giving Up on Small-Cap StocksHealthy second-quarter results from technology and banks are helping to drive buying in stocks. On Tuesday, the S&P 500 traded at an intraday record and is again looking toward 2,000, while the blue-chip DOW is edging toward another record.

While we are hearing about how the S&P 500 will break 2,000 and the DOW will reach 20,000, we are not hearing much about small-cap stocks, which have been under some pressure this year after leading the pack in 2013.

The Russell 2000 is struggling after failing to hold above 1,200 on two occasions; it’s currently down about 0.66% this year and 4.6% from its record.

Russell 2000 Small Cap Index Chart

Chart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com

I recently read how the failure of the Russell 2000 to follow the broader stock market higher is a red flag that could warn of a pending correction in the stock market.

Now, while small-cap stocks are probably the most vulnerable to selling at this time, I don’t feel that it’s time to simply ignore this high-beta growth group and focus solely on big-cap stocks.

My thinking is that investors are simply dumping some risk from their portfolio after recording strong returns in 2013. It’s not that small-cap stocks are inferior to the S&P 500 companies. In fact, as long as the economy continues to grow, small-cap stocks will fare well.

You just need to have some patience and think longer-term, as some of these small companies will become big companies. Case in point: I highlighted touchscreen technology provider Synaptics Incorporated (NASDAQ/SYNA) in October 2013, when the stock was a small-cap at around $46.00. The stock has since nearly doubled … Read More

Setting Up for the Slaughter

By for Profit Confidential

Stock Market Valuations Touching Historical ExtremesInvestors poured $4.3 billion into the SPDR S&P 500 (NYSE/SPY) last week, an exchange-traded fund (ETF) that tracks the S&P 500. For the week, ETFs tracking U.S. equities witnessed the most inflows in the last four weeks. (Source: Reuters, July 17, 2014.)

And as investors continue to inject vast sums of money into the stocks, stock valuations are at historical extremes. When I want to see how expensive the stock market is getting, I look at the S&P 500 Shiller P/E multiple (the value of stocks compared to what they earn adjusted for inflation)…and it’s screaming overvalued.

In July, the S&P 500 Shiller P/E stood at 25.96. That means that for every $1.00 a company makes, investors are willing to pay $25.96. The stock market has reached this P/E valuation (25.96) only seven percent of the time since 1881.

The number suggests the stock market is overvalued by 57%, according to its historical average of 16.55. (Source: Yale University web site, last accessed July 18, 2014.) The last time the S&P 500 Shiller P/E was above the current level was in October of 2007—just before one of the worst market sell-offs in history.

But this isn’t the only indicator suggesting the stock market is overvalued.

Another indicator of stock market valuation I look at is called the market capitalization-to-GDP multiple. Very simply put, this indicator is a gauge of the value of the stock market compared to the overall economy. It has been a good predictor of where key stock indices will head.

At the end of the first quarter of this year, the Wilshire 5000 Full Cap Price Index … Read More

This Is Odd…

By for Profit Confidential

Demand for Stocks Outweighs Supply at This PointOne of the oddest things to happen with the stock market since it has recovered is that the number of shares trading hands each day has slowly disappeared.

In the table that I have created for you below, I list the trading volume for the S&P 500 for each June since 2009 and the percentage change in volume from the previous June.

Trading volume on the S&P 500 has dropped 60% since 2009!

Trading Volume, S&P 500, June of Each Year, 2009 – 2014

Year Volume (Shares Traded Per Month) Year-Over-Year % Change
June 2009 93,147,496,448
June 2010 91,971,043,328 -1.3%
June 2011 63,674,499,072 -30.8%
June 2012 59,703,365,632 -6.2%
June 2013 51,560,980,480 -13.6%
June 2014 38,765,629,440 -24.8%

Data source: www.StockCharts.com, last accessed July 1, 2014

What’s happening here? How can the stock market rise year after year if trading volume is down?

It’s very simple, but I’ll explain this new phenomenon in a moment. First, look at the chart of the S&P 500 below. Pay close attention to the volume at the bottom of the chart. As volume on the S&P 500 collapsed, the price of the index rose.

S&P 500 Large Cap Index Chart

Chart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com

Volume is collapsing because the number of shares companies have outstanding is being reduced at an accelerated rate. For example, in the first quarter of 2014, S&P 500 companies purchased $154.5 billion worth of their shares back (stock buyback programs). Over the trailing 12 months, S&P 500 companies purchased more than half-a-trillion-dollars worth of their own shares—$535.2 billion to be exact. (Source: FactSet, June 18, 2014.)

Add to the shrinking number of shares outstanding the fact that central … Read More

Small-Cap Industrial Play with Excellent Prospects into 2015

By for Profit Confidential

This Small-Cap Industrial Play Has Excellent ProspectsThe first-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) growth suggests some stalling in the economy, but this is expected to pass as we move forward into 2015 as the economic renewal picks up, which will generate a buying opportunity.

A small-cap stock I like as a buying opportunity and play on the economic renewal going forward is Horsehead Holding Corp. (NASDAQ/ZINC).

While the stock is up 70% from its 52-week low and has been easily outperforming the S&P 500 over the past year, I believe the stock still has decent upside potential and could be a buying opportunity, especially as the economy strengthens.

The company’s stock chart shows the steady upward trend in place since November 2012. Note the bullish golden cross with the 50-day moving average (MA) above the 200-day MA, as reflected by the blue oval. We are also seeing a bullish ascending triangle that could signal more gains ahead. A break at $18.00 could see a move to above $20.00, based on my technical analysis.

Horsehead Holding Corp Chart

Chart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com

Via its subsidiary Horsehead Corp., the company is a fast-growing producer of specialty zinc and zinc-based products made via the use of recycled materials.

In a move to improve output and efficiency, the company closed its old facility Monaca and opened a new facility named Mooresboro in North Carolina. The capacity at the new plant once it gets up to speed will be roughly 155,000 tons of zinc annually.

The opening of the new plant will aid the company in producing better fabricated steel products along with raw materials found in the manufacturing of rubber tires, alkaline batteries, paint, … Read More

Guess Who Is Pushing the Stock Market Higher Now

By for Profit Confidential

So That's Why Stocks Have Been Moving Higher…When I look at the stock market, I ask who in their right mind would buy stocks?

While key stock market indices creep higher, the fundamentals suggest the complete opposite. But despite valuations being stretched, insiders selling, corporate revenue growth being non-existent, and the U.S. economy contracting in the first quarter of this year, the S&P 500 is up seven percent since the beginning of 2014, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is getting closer to the 17,000 level, and the NASDAQ is back above 4,000.

As I have written before, a company can buy back its stock to prop up per-share earnings or cut expenses to improve the bottom line, but if revenue isn’t growing, there is a problem. In the first quarter of 2014, only 54% of S&P 500 companies were able to grow their revenue. (Source: FactSet, June 13, 2014.)

Going forward, things aren’t looking bright either. For the second quarter of 2014, 82 S&P 500 companies have already provided negative guidance for their corporate earnings. I expect this number to climb higher.

And consumer spending, the driver of the U.S. economy, is very weak, as evidenced by negative gross domestic product (GDP) in the U.S. economy in the first quarter of this year.

So if the overall environment is negative for the equities, who is buying stocks and pushing the stock market higher?

The answer (something I suspected some time ago): central banks are buying stocks.

A study done by the Official Monetary and Financial Institution Forum (OMFIF) called Global Public Investors 2014, states that central banks and public institutions around the world have gotten involved … Read More

How to Put Your Assets to Good Use in a Stalling Market

By for Profit Confidential

How to Profit in a Stalling MarketThe stock market appears to want to go higher, but it’s going to take a push by investors. While we could see the S&P 500 edge higher, I’m not convinced the gains will be that great unless the underlying stock market fundamentals improve.

I am talking about the economic renewal that appears to be stalling. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) slashed the country’s estimated gross domestic product (GDP) growth to an even two percent this year from the previous 2.8% in April. Growth in 2015 is expected to rise to three percent. These are OK numbers, but they’re not great and they indicate that the economy will likely struggle to find ground in the short-term. As far as the global economy goes, the World Bank cut its estimates, too.

Moreover, you also have the recent weaker-than-expected housing starts and building permits numbers. Both readings for May came in below both the estimates and the readings in April. The decline in building permits by 6.4% to below one million annualized units suggests there could be some stalling in the months ahead.

Geopolitically, you have the escalating conflict in Iraq and the continued standoff in Ukraine. Oil is above $107.00 a barrel and could head higher should the internal conflict escalate in Iraq and impact the flow of oil, which could affect global economic growth.

So here we have the stock market, namely the S&P 500 and the DOW, coming off record-highs.

If the stock market fails to find its footing (namely a fresh catalyst), we could see mixed and volatile trading in the months ahead as the stock market looks for … Read More

What the Collapse in Lumber Prices Means for Stocks

By for Profit Confidential

Why Are Lumber Prices CollapsingHistorically, the direction of lumber prices has led the direction of the stock market.

If lumber prices are rising, it suggests demand for lumber is increasing, more homes are being built, more construction is happening, and the economy is improving. The opposite is also true. Weak demand for lumber is a sign of poor economic growth.

At the very core, the direction of lumber prices can be considered as a leading indicator of the S&P 500.

With that said, please take a look at the chart below. On the chart, you will see the S&P 500 in black and the lumber prices in green. You will note that whenever lumber prices went down, the S&P 500 followed and also moved lower with one exception: the present time.

S&P 500 large Cap Index Chart

Chart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com

Since March of this year, lumber prices have fallen sharply, suggesting business activity in the U.S. economy is slowing down. But the S&P 500 is moving in the opposite direction! Lumber prices are going down and the S&P 500 is moving up? That never happens. This disparity is a sign of great concern.

You can add the disparity in the direction of lumber prices compared to the direction of the S&P 500 index to the long and increasing list of historical indicators now pointing to a market that is overbought and overpriced. If you continue to own equities, be wary of the increasing risks of the stock market…. Read More

Fear of Stock Market Declining Almost Non-Existent

By for Profit Confidential

Complacency of Investors Near Record LowThere’s one long-term investing adage that has shown a great amount of success over the years: buy when everyone is fearful and sell when optimism is over the top. This theory worked extremely well when key stock indices fell to their lowest levels. It worked in 1987, in 2000, and then in 2009—three of the greatest times to buy stocks in history.

With this in mind, take a look at the long-term chart of the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) Volatility Index (VIX) below. This index is often referred to as the “fear index” for key stock indices, since it is a gauge/measure of how fearful investors are about the stock market declining. The higher the index goes, the more fear in the market; the lower the index goes, the more optimism in the market.

 Volatility Index Chart

Chart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com

The VIX clearly shows investor concern about key stock indices declining, sitting close to the same point it was at back in 2007—just a few months before stocks started to collapse.

Aside from the VIX flashing red…there are two other key stock market indicators in the trouble zone.

According to the CNBC Market Insider Activity, insiders of companies on the key stock indices continue to sell billions of dollars worth of stock monthly. The sell-to-buy ratio—that is how many shares they sold compared to how many they bought—was 10 to 1 in May, meaning they sold 10 shares for every one share bought. (Source: CNBC Market Insider Activity, last accessed May 27, 2014.) Corporate insiders have been selling their shares at an accelerated pace for some time now.

And corporate earnings … Read More

About That Economic Mirage We Are Living Today

By for Profit Confidential

U.S. Economy Contracts in First Quarter of 2014. Someone Tell the Stock Market!Dear reader, yesterday we got the news that the U.S. economy “unexpectedly” contracted by one percent in the first three months of this year. This is the first time since the first quarter of 2011 that the U.S. experienced negative growth!

This news should come as no surprise to my readers, as I’ve been writing for months how my research shows the U.S. economy is slowing. Most obviously, U.S. companies had a terrible first quarter in respect to earnings growth. In respect to revenue growth, it’s nonexistent.

So why is the stock market rising? Well, it’s not really rising; it’s an illusion. Yes, we keep hearing in the news how the stock market is breaking to new highs. But if we look at the Dow Jones Industrial Average, it’s up only one percent so far in 2014. The Russell 2000 Index (a broader gauge of the market) is actually down 2.5% for the year.

And the money going into buying stocks is actually collapsing. In the first five months of this year, the volume on the S&P 500 was the lowest since 2007!

When you have a stock market rising on weaker and weaker trading volume, it’s a very dangerous stock market. In fact, in the last two months (April and May), there hasn’t been a day when volume on the Dow Jones Industrial Average was more than 500 million shares. In 2013, there were only seven days when the volume on the Dow Jones Industrial Average was less than 500 million!

The rising (or should I say “holding-its-own”) stock market has convinced the media, economists, government, and investors that … Read More

Why the Old Adage “Sell in May, Buy Back in October” Could Make Extra Sense This Year

By for Profit Confidential

How to Make Use of Your Holdings if Stocks Drift SidewaysAfter some bouts of selling in May, the stock market appears to be edging higher again as we are at the end of the trading month today.

As I said in January, it will not be easy to make money this year, given the cuts in easy money flowing into the capital markets. The S&P 500 is leading the pack with a 3.46% gain as of Tuesday. If you annualized the five-month return, the advance comes out at 8.3%. I expected to see the index advance about 10% to as much as 15% this year, so we may be lucky to reach the lower estimate if the stock market can manage to move higher. (Read about some dividend-paying stocks to boost your returns in “Five Dividend-Paying Stocks for When the Market Slides Lower.”)

Growth stocks, which were the Wall Street stars in 2013, are now the dogs of Wall Street, as investors shift their capital into lower-risk big-cap stocks. The NASDAQ is up a mere 1.45% this year, while the small-cap Russell 2000 is languishing with a 1.86% decline.

Now keep in mind that we are currently in the worst six-month period for the stock market from May to October, based on historical tendencies.

This doesn’t mean there’s no hope for the stock market going forward, but again, it won’t be easy. May is looking to produce a positive advance, so there’s some optimism.

What I think will likely continue to happen is the stock market will tread cautiously in the absence of any fresh new catalyst to entice investors to buy in.

We are entering into the … Read More

« Older Entries
Financial Reports
Enter your e-mail address to subscribe to
Profit Confidential — IT'S FREE!
Enter e-mail:
ALSO RECEIVE A FREE COPY of our exclusive report:
"A Golden Opportunity for Stock Market Investors"