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

Posts Tagged ‘S&P 500’

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

Biotechs, Small-Caps, and IPOs: Making Sense of This Peculiar Stock Market

By for Profit Confidential

This Year's Peculiar Market Short Exuberance RiskThe spot price of oil has been eerily steady for quite some time; this is quite unusual for the world’s most traded commodity.

It’s been a peculiar year in capital markets, and there’s definitely an uncertainty in sentiment, especially in the equity market with no real trend for investors to latch onto. It makes me think that equity investors should be proactive now and take a hard look at their portfolios for investment risk.

Speculative fervor has been reduced and while small-cap stocks, initial public offerings (IPOs), biotechnology stocks, and super-high-valued stocks have taken it on the chin, this is not unreasonable for the longer-run trend in equities.

The Dow Jones Transportation Average just hit another record-high and its long-term chart, while impressive, actually looks kind of scary. The capital gains are tremendous since the March 2009 low, which begs the question as to when it’s going to reverse.

Historically, most of the average’s declines have come in the form of short bursts of downside, peppered by several multiyear periods of non-performance.

The stock market is highly unlikely to break down without a commensurate move in transportation stocks. But there is clearly room for downside in these share prices. Delta Air Lines, Inc. (DAL) has doubled in value since just last September.

Caution. Caution. Caution. If you eliminate the bubble capital gains produced by stocks comprising the S&P 500 index during the late 1990s and their price recovery during the mid-2000s, the long-term chart still reveals an incredible performance. The crash of 1987 now looks like a blip. The 100-year chart of the S&P 500 is featured below:

S&P 500 Large Cap Index Chart

Chart Read More

Stock Market Overvalued by 55%?

By for Profit Confidential

Why It Feels Like 2007 All Over AgainOne of the oldest and most reliable ways to assess the value of the stock market is to look at its price-to-earnings (P/E) multiple. This multiple measures how much investors are willing to pay for each dollar of earnings. P/E multiples of 15 mean investors are willing to pay $15.00 for every one dollar of earnings.

When we look at the Shiller P/E multiple, it’s yelling, “The stock market is overvalued!” Shiller’s P/E multiple (adjusted for inflation) stood at 25.61 for the S&P 500 in April. (Source: Yale University web site, last accessed May 13, 2014.)

Looking at Shiller’s P/E multiple for the S&P 500 companies on a monthly basis since 1881, it has only been above 25.61 eight percent of the time. Looking at the historical average, the present value of the Shiller P/E multiple suggests the stock market is overvalued by 55%!

Despite the market being overvalued, the number of bullish stock advisors continues to increase while bearish advisors are declining in numbers (which is negative for the stock market, as it always does the opposite of what is expected of it). Not many seem to be worried about a broad market sell-off (it’s another negative when investors become so complacent).

In the chart below, you’ll see the performance of the S&P 500; below it, you’ll see the results of a recent Investors Intelligence Advisors’ Sentiment Survey, with the bulls represented by the green and the bears in red. (Source: Investors Intelligence, last accessed May 12, 2014.)

s&P 500 Large Cap Index Chart

Chart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com​​​​

You will see from the chart above that those who were bearish (red) on the stock … Read More

Multi-Month Price Consolidation in the Cards

By for Profit Confidential

How Profit Choppy Market HighThere still is no real trend in the equity market. One day, stocks sell off big-time; the next, the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average hit new record-highs.

This is a very tough market to figure; anything can happen when monetary policy is highly accommodative.

A lagging NASDAQ Composite isn’t a worry. Neither is the Russell 2000 index. Stocks won’t come apart so long as so many large-caps are pushing their highs.

And not all technology stocks are retrenching, either. Some of the old technology bellwethers are actually doing quite well these days. Microsoft Corporation (MSFT) is trading right at a multiyear high, with a 2.8% dividend yield and a forward price-to-earnings ratio of approximately 14.

Even Intel Corporation (INTC), which is having a pretty tough time generating much in the way of top-line growth, is recovering on the stock market and is very close to breaking out of a multiyear price consolidation. Intel currently offers a 3.4% dividend yield and is not expensively priced.

One day, stocks are reacting to geopolitical events in Ukraine; the next, it’s Chinese economic data, then it’s mergers and acquisitions…

If anything, the reaction to first-quarter earnings was pretty muted. But even though the beginning of the year started out with considerable downside, stocks recovered strongly after policy reassurance from the Federal Reserve. While the action’s still choppy, underlying investor sentiment is holding up.

This is a market that continues to favor existing winners, but not necessarily at the speculative end. (See “Risk vs. Reward: Is It Time to Cash Out of This Bull Market?”) The reticence that launched blue chip … Read More

The Only Place to Put New Money in Today’s Economy

By for Profit Confidential

Invest New Money During a Stock Market's HighA lot of stocks are rolling over, breaking their 50- and 200-day simple moving averages (MAs). This is a tired market that could very well consolidate or correct right into the fourth quarter.

And the economic data has been softer, as well. Throw in geopolitical tensions with Russia and we have the makings of a material price retrenchment.

There’s still resilience, however, in some of the most important stock market indices. Stocks composing the Dow Jones Transportation Average are holding up extremely well, especially compared to the Russell 2000, the NASDAQ Biotechnology index, and the NASDAQ Composite index itself.

While the main market indices are mostly flat on the year, I don’t think investors can expect any capital gains until perhaps the fourth quarter.

From my perspective, relative price strength in the Dow Jones industrials, transportation stocks, and most of the S&P 500 index means that the longer-run uptrend remains intact.

With speculative fervor still coming out of initial public offerings (IPOs) and select biotechnology stocks, this action is an indicator of a tired market that’s long in the tooth, as investors are clearly less willing to speculate on those stocks that don’t offer income or relative safety in their earnings.

Risk aversion won’t kill a secular bull market. But it does mean that risk-capital opportunities are a lot less plentiful. Currently, among speculative stocks, one of the only sectors still experiencing decent price action is oil and gas drilling and exploration.

This is still a market that I think favors existing winners—blue chips, in particular. (See “Top Stocks for the Coming Correction.”)

These are the stocks to … Read More

When the Cows Go Out for Slaughter a Second Time

By for Profit Confidential

When the Cows Go Out for Slaughter a Second TimeDid you see this story in the Wall Street Journal last Friday?

“Retirement investors are putting more money into stocks than they have since markets were slammed by the financial crisis six years ago… Stocks accounted for 67% of employees’ new contributions into retirement portfolios in March… That is the highest percentage since March 2008…” (Source: Wall Street Journal, May 2, 2014.)

You read that right. With stocks at a record-high (and valuations stretched), retirees are pouring back into stocks. Are they getting ready to get slaughtered again? I believe so.

If you are a long-term reader of Profit Confidential, you know my take: the “bear” has done a masterful job at convincing investors the economy has recovered and the stock market is a safe place to invest again. Meanwhile, nothing could be further from the truth.

We are living the slowest post-recession recovery on record. And that recovery has been manipulated by the tampering of the Federal Reserve. You see, the Federal Reserve played a key role in driving the key stock indices higher. In 2009, in the midst of a financial crisis, the central bank started printing money and buying bonds. This resulted in lower bond yields. Those who had money in bonds, who had essentially paid nothing, moved into stocks.

And those record-low interest rates enabled companies in the key stock indices to borrow money and issue new equity, using the money to buy their own stock, thus pushing up per-share corporate earnings.

The end result? 2013 was a banner year for stocks on the key stock indices. But as 2014 came around, we began … Read More

Five Dividend-Paying Stocks for When the Market Slides Lower

By for Profit Confidential

Five Dividend Stocks  Replace Growth Stocks Turbulent TimesThere is clearly some selling capitulation towards the technology and small-cap stocks at this time. Following the run-up in 2013, we are now seeing the selling action picking up towards the higher-beta stocks. The S&P 500 and DOW may be looking fine, but the growth-oriented NASDAQ and Russell 2000 are showing added stock market risk. (Read “NASDAQ, Russell 2000 Signaling Buying Opportunity Ahead?”)

It’s time to unload some of your riskier holdings and look at some of the dividend-paying stocks that would likely provide more of a buffer against the current negativity in growth stocks.

Below, I have listed five dividend-paying stocks that are worth a look, especially if the overall stock market slides lower.

In the investment management sector, Och-Ziff Capital Management Group LLC (NYSE/OZM) pays out an impressive dividend yield. The company runs money from pension funds and other areas. In the fourth quarter, Och-Ziff beat the Thomson Financial consensus estimate by $0.32 after reporting a dividend of $1.15 per diluted share versus the consensus $0.83 per diluted share. According to the company, its assets under management have increased to $42.7 billion as of April 1, 2014.

Also in the investment area, Fortress Investment Group LLC (NYSE/FIG) has about $61.8 billion in assets under management as of the end of December. Fortress also pays out dividends of $0.32 annually for a yield of 4.4%.

For you pet owners, you are probably familiar with PetMed Express, Inc. (NASDAQ/PETS), the largest pet pharmacy in the United States selling prescription and non-prescription pet medications along with other health products. The company pays out a quarterly dividend of $0.17 … Read More

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