Perusing the Stock Market for Trades

It’s looking like the stock market is very close to a breakout point from its trading range over the last three months. The S&P 500 Index has been bouncing between 1,000 and 1,120 during this period and, previously, any weekly upside would result in a similar kind of pullback in prices.

A key upward resistant level for the S&P 500 Index is 1,120. My best guess right now is that we’ll get a meaningful retrenchment soon. Only strong economic data would prevent this from happening. Of course, we’ll also soon be into another earnings season and corporate earnings are expected to be as equally robust as they were last quarter. From my perspective, I think the stock market is fairly valued at its current level. Any major acceleration in stock prices over the coming months will require meaningful growth in the economic numbers.

Perusing the stock market for trades, I think you want to be approaching this market as a value investor. There just isn’t the growth out there to be a momentum investor.

One company that I always like to keep an eye on is First Solar, Inc. (NASDAQ/FSLR). I last wrote about this Arizona-based solar panel manufacturer back in early July, and the stock recently experienced some renewed enthusiasm from investors.

This company sells its products all over the world; particularly in Europe, where there are a lot of government incentives for solar energy use. The stock was a spectacular wealth creator in 2007, then had the wind taken out of it in 2008. Ever since, the stock’s been trading in a range between $100.00 and $200.00 a share. That’s a big trading range, but all during this period, the company continued to grow at an impressive rate. While the numbers might not have been up to the hype, revenues and earnings have basically doubled in each of the last three years.

Currently, this stock is trading for just under $140.00 a share and seems fairly valued considering that a large number of Street analysts recently increased their earnings estimates for the company.

FSLR is the kind of stock that appeals to traders. Just in May, the stock dropped from $150.00 to $100.00 a share. Now it’s back up to $140.00 a share. Being highly liquid with a strong following from institutional investors, it’s easy to see why this stock has a strong following from position traders.

I don’t know where the broader stock market is going to go over the coming months. The case can be made for both the bears and the bulls. What I feel strongly about is approaching this market as a value investor. Because investment risk is still quite high in the current environment, you don’t want to overpay for anything.