Standouts and Big Letdowns — It’s Tough to Figure Out this Market

stock market performancesA case can be made for the stock market to rise or fall from current levels. It’s a crapshoot. But, there are some very good performances taking place in this market and most of them have been in large-cap stocks.

Some of the biggest names you know are actually doing very well right now and they fully expect to keep doing well into next year. Some of the names include DuPont, Caterpillar, IBM, Kraft Foods and Coca-Cola. McDonald’s just hit a new 52-week high and is up almost 40% in the last 12 months, while paying a three-percent dividend.

Clearly, the action in the broader market reflects the action in the economy. Some companies are doing well, while others are not. Some industries are holding up, while others continue to have difficulty generating any growth. What’s surprising to me is that these standout performances on the stock market are not in technology, but rather old-school names that have been around for ages. IBM is being saved by its services business, while the rest of Silicon Valley is struggling. I expected much better things from Microsoft, Intel, Hewlett-Packard and Oracle. Earlier in the year, I predicted that large-cap technology would be a real leader. Clearly, this hasn’t happened at this time.

Of the strong stock market performances being achieved by the companies mentioned above, all have very significant international operations, with most of their growth coming from Asia. Without China and India, earnings at these companies would not be nearly as robust.

I’m still very wary of the current state of the equity market and I continue to feel like we’re in one big trading range around Dow 10,000. Trading action over the last several months has been volatile and on low volume. The market could correct at any moment.

Sometimes, the equity marketplace gets tired of its own sentiment and just decides to change direction because it can. There’s a lot of money floating within the system and most big equity funds get paid to buy stocks. Investor sentiment has been changing so fast lately that index traders are probably having a very difficult time making any money. From my perspective, the trend is definitely not your friend in this market.