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The FANG Fantasy

With the “FANG” trade getting long in the tooth, so to speak, Wall Street analysts are now scrambling to formulate new acronyms to accommodate the most robust names in Big Tech today. FAANG, FAAA, FAAMG and now FANTASY have been brought forward adding companies like Microsoft, Tesla and Nvidia to the original FANG Fab-Four of Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google.

As market warning signs so, they don’t get better than this. Widely…

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Admin

Finding High Quality Companies 'Today'

We are having a hard time finding high-quality companies at attractive valuations.

For us, this is not an academic frustration. We are constantly looking for new stocks by running stock screens, endlessly reading (blogs, research, magazines, newspapers), looking at holdings of investors we respect, talking to our large network of professional investors, attending conferences, scouring through ideas published on value investor networks, and finally, looking with frustration at our large (and growing) watch list of companies we’d like to buy at a significant margin of safety. The median stock on our watch list has to decline by about 35-40% to be an attractive buy.

But maybe we’re too subjective. Instead of just asking you to take our word for it, in this letter we’ll show you a few charts that not only demonstrate our point but also show the magnitude of the stock market’s overvaluation and, more importantly, put it into historical context.

Each chart examines…

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Admin

A Big Move Lies Ahead

Past tense; that is.  A big move is coming in the S&P 500 and it will take everyone’s breath away. Simply put: The S&P 500 has traded in a multi-year consolidation range with a high of 2134 and a low of 1810. A breakout or breakdown out of this range could result in a measured technical move of the height of the range, i.e. 2134 – 1810 = 324 handles. Consequently a break toward the upside would target 2458 (15% above all time highs) and conversely a breakdown would target 1486 and represent a 30.4% correction off of all time highs.

I’ve outlined the bear arguments in detail in Feeding the Monster, so I won’t bother rehashing them here. However, in analyzing the larger market structures an interesting duality is emerging: A fight for control…

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Admin

Earnings Growth Likely Peaked In Q1

Note: The following is an excerpt from this week’s Earnings Trends report. You can access the full report that contains detailed historical actuals and estimates for the current and following periods, please click here>>>

Here are the key points:

•    The Q1 earnings is effectively over now, with results from 492 S&P 500 members already out. Total earnings for these companies are up +13.5% from the same period last year on +7.2% higher revenues, with 72.6% beating EPS estimates and 65.2% beating revenue estimates.

•    These results represent a notable improvement over what we have been seeing from the same group of companies in other recent periods. While growth reached the highest level in more than 5 years, a bigger proportion of companies have been able to beat estimates,…

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Admin

The Big Picture

First and foremost let me point out that Ray Dalio, founder of investment firm Bridgewater Associates, has joined Twitter so I encourage you to follow him here.  Secondly I suggest you grab a cup of coffee or maybe the entire pot as he gradually lays out what he sees ahead for the market.  Enjoy!

Big picture, the near term looks good and the longer term looks scary. That is because:

  1. The economy is now at or near its best, and we see no major economic risks on the horizon for the next year or two,
  2. There are significant long-term problems (e.g., high debt and non-debt obligations, limited abilities by central banks to stimulate, etc.) that are likely to create a squeeze,
  3. Social and political conflicts are near their worst for the last number of decades,…

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Admin

Advertisers want alternatives to Facebook and Google

While Google and Facebook are the undisputed advertising leaders online, companies are increasingly looking for other digital ways to spend their marketing budgets, according to advertising and public relations company WPP CEO Sir Martin Sorrell.

"What our clients want and what our agencies want is more competition of the space, anything that gives more competition to the duopoly of Facebook and Google," Sorrell said to CNBC.

The two tech giants account for about 75…

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Admin

Biosimilars could save the US billions of dollars

The US pharmaceutical industry is on the brink of a new ecosystem — but it's not taking off as smoothly as expected.

Up until the past few years, biologic drugs made from living cells didn't face competition once they lost patent protection. That's been changing with the introduction of drugs called biosimilars. But their rollout hasn't exactly been the game-changing experience some had expected.

"We believe that biosimilars will capture meaningful market share, but the disappointing commercial success so far with less than $2 billion annual sales illustrates that the bar is high," Morgan Stanley analysts said in a report on Wednesday. That's in large part because of the economic challenges that biosimilars face, the report says. 

Biosimilars are a bit more complicated than your average competing medicine: Unlike generics for…

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Admin

Autonomous Cars And Second Order Consequences

Grab a cup of coffee, sit back and absorb this piece which I believe, will blow your mind.  I had read a good deal on self-driving cars and the implications of what lies ahead but this piece by Ben Evans has completely re-written my belief of what life will be in ten years.  Wowsa!   I know what I'll be dreaming about tonight. *lol*  Enjoy-

There are two foundational technology changes rolling through the…

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Admin

What Are The 7 Signs Of A Bear Market?

Wall Street pros say bull markets don’t die of old age. But after eight years of rising stock prices, being on the lookout for signs of a market peak makes good financial sense.

No bull lasts forever. Good times eventually are followed by bad ones, as investor euphoria gives way to fear and despair. The performance history of the Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index drives home the point: The 12 bull markets since the 1930s have all been followed by bear markets, or downturns of 20% or more, according to S&P Dow Jones Indices. The average bear market decline is a sizable 40%. Then there’s the mega-bears like the 2007-2009 rout during the financial crisis that knocked the S&P 500 down 57% and the nearly 50% slide after the internet stock bubble burst in 2000.

The current bull run, the…

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Admin

Iff you're hesitant to make stock purchases at these levels, you're not alone.

Last week I updated the Warren Buffett yardstick, market cap-to-GNP. The only time it was ever higher than it is today was for a few months at the top of the dotcom mania.

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Admin

S&P500 Highest Forward P/E Since 2004 But Oh, That Rule 20

I found this interesting (the rise) however I have my own reservations because of the possible change in rates and inflation in 2017.  When inflation rises, interest rates also normally rise to maintain real rates within an appropriate range. PE ratios need to decline to reflect the increase in the earnings discount rate. Another way to look at it is that equities then face more competition for money from fixed income instruments. The cost of equities must therefore decline to keep or attract investors.  Then there is the Rule of 20 to consider.  Rule of 20 equals P/E + long term interest rates (average of 10 and 30 yr bond rates).  If at or below 20 minus…

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Admin

The Fiduciary Rule Genie Is Already Out Of The Bottle

Rules and regulations exist to let us know what behaviors we should expect from the people we do business with. Sometimes, good sense or social convention overtake these rules — and they don’t matter so much. Just about everyone wears seat-belts these days (we all know how much they improve our odds of survival in an accident); the ranks of underage smokers have plummeted (it’s no longer cool). Once the toothpaste is out of the tube, as they say, there’s no cramming it back in.

Such is the case with the Department of Labor’s fiduciary rule. On Friday, President Trump asked the Labor Department to review the rule, which requires brokers working with retirement savers to put the interest of their clients ahead of their own. After years of work on it, the regulation was finalized last year by the Obama administration.

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Admin

President Donald Trump signs an executive order aimed at reducing regulations at the White House earlier this week. In a high-profile attack on growth-killing red tape, President Donald Trump this week ordered that any agency issuing a new rule find two to repeal.

He will likely discover that the only thing harder than getting something done in Washington is getting it undone.

Vast swaths of rules are untouchable because Congress ordered them to be written or the president himself demanded them. Finding rules to repeal is a tedious and time-consuming affair that usually yields tiny savings, mostly in reduced paperwork. Ultimately, rules are passed because they have benefits, from cleaner air to fewer terror attacks, that voters or presidents aren’t willing to forgo.

The first president to tackle the leviathan was Jimmy Carter who proposed a “regulatory budget” to limit the financial burden of new rules. Every…

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Admin

S&P500 Earnings With Trump Over The Shoulder

Before I present the insight on expected earnings ahead, there is one point I wish to make; that being Trump.  If you're not following our President elect on Twitter, you should get with it now.  Some may say it's not "Presidential" to be on TWTR but our commander and chief does what he wishes, and he wishes to scare whomever he can.  At the very least, throw him up as a column on TweetDeck and watch the charts fly when he mentions a name. 

Now while AMZN and GM were formerly expecting good growth in 2017, you will notice that both are now on Trumps radar for taxation and import/export fees which explains their recent trading action.  There seems to be no love lost between AMZN owner Jeff Bezos.  Even Trumps …

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Admin

Wall Streets Top Picks For 2017 With Trump

We are into the homestretch of 2016, and the markets have seen strong upside this year, benefiting from the domestic economy's resilience and the election of Donald Trump.

With just four sessions to go, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has been a up a solid 14.4 percent, the S&P 500 has risen 10.8 percent and the NASDAQ Composite is 9.1 percent higher — with all the three major averages trading off their all-time closing highs.

Among the ten S&P sectors, eight have been in the green. Old economy stocks such as energy, material, industrial, financial, utility and telecom are all up by double-digit percentages. Technology stocks are also up decently. However, the healthcare sector has taken a hit.

Though…

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Admin

Is The Fed About To Experience A Repeat Of 2016?

In the most recent Summary of Economic Projections, Fed officials penciled in three 25bp rate hikes for 2017. The reality, however, could be very different. We all remember how “four” became “one” in 2016. The median dots are neither a promise nor an official forecast. As 2016 progressed, forecasts associated with a lower path of SEP “dots” evolved as the consensus view of policymakers. Will the same happen this year? I don’t think so; it is hard to see the Fed on pause for another twelve months.

As a starting point, I think it best to assume the US economy is near full-employment. But the US economy was near full-employment at this time last year as well. I think the key difference between then and now is that then the after-effect of the oil price slide and dollar surge placed a drag on the US economy sufficient to ease hiring pressure. At the same time, labor force participation perked up, setting the stage for a flat unemployment rate for most of…

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Admin

It's Not What You Think. Market Myths Debunked

"A lie told often enough becomes the truth" - Vladimir Lenin

Imagine for a minute you lived centuries ago when people believed the earth was flat, or the earth revolved around the sun, or that planets were Gods, or that disease was angry spirits or supernatural powers. You'd have an explanation for everything ... only it would be wrong. And that "wrongness" would stand in the way of true understanding and true progress until they were discarded as falsehoods.

And so it is with the Stock Market. Let me explain.

First, let me be perfectly clear. I'm a statistician so I'm not referring to philosophical or political or gut feelings or anything other than Statistical Misrepresentations. Fact, not opinion.

I can hardly go a day without reading…

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Admin

The Run In Small Caps. Will It Continue In 2017

The stock market went on quite a tear in the 3+ weeks immediately following the election, with the month of November especially beneficial for small-cap stocks.

Before delving into what it all might mean for small-cap investors, here's a quick rundown to help contextualize just how dynamic a month it was:

  1. This was the best November in the history of the Russell 2000 Index. featuring its highest monthly return since October 2011 when small-caps were just emerging from a precipitous decline.
  2. The performance spread between…

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