The Best Quarter For The Major Averages In Decades!

We just witnessed the best quarter in the major averages in decades. Yes folks it is hard to believe that stocks are performing the in way that they are with all things considered. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (see chart here) is trading near the 26,000 level, the S&P 500 (see chart here) is trading this morning at the 3,120 level, the Nasdaq Composite (see chart here) is back over the 10,000 mark and the small-cap Russell 2000 (see chart here) is trading in the 1,450 zone.

The strength of stocks in general is one for the ages. I don’t think anyone would of thought that the markets would continue to show this type of resilience especially with the backdrop of our current unemployment picture and with Covid continuing to run rampant. The only logical reason as to why the Dow Jones Industrial average is not sub 20,000, has to be the continuing liquidity that is coming into the markets provided by Federal Reserve and the government stimulus packages that have launched since the crisis began. Of course there are select tech and pharmaceutical companies that are directly benefiting from the new world we find ourselves but I didn’t expect to see such a wide swath of stocks doing well in this current environment.

Now that the 3rd quarter of the year has begun I think all eyes will begin to focus on second quarter earnings results which kicks off next week. What’s even more important in my eyes is the energy, spirit and guidance that comes out of companies during their earnings conference calls. I am expecting companies to either pull their future guidance or lower earnings expectations, we shall see. Another catalyst that I expect to play a role in how the markets will fare here in Q3 is how the Presidential polls continue to unfold. Currently Joe Biden has a double digit lead over Donald Trump. Some pundits are saying that the markets are beginning to price in a Biden win. Candidate Biden has already stated that he will raise the capital gains and corporate taxes should he become President. If this is the case, higher taxes would negatively affect net earnings but this scenario could be offset by other positive geo-political factors should Biden win.

Good luck to all ūüôā

~George

Earnings And The Fed!

Stocks took off this week and we can blame earnings and the Fed! Now that we are fully into earnings reporting season the investors so far have liked what they see. Couple that with the Federal Reserve coming out on Wednesday stating that the central bank is “changing its tune” on interest rates, and you have a one-two bull market punch. Also on Wednesday, Fed Chairman Powell stated “the case for raising rates has weakened somewhat” and that the Federal Reserve will be more patient toward further rate hikes. Stocks rallied hard on the Fed’s new position along with stronger than expected earnings reports that are coming in from corporate America. For the month of January, The Dow Jones Industrial Average (see chart here) is up over 2000 points, the S&P 500 (see chart below) is also up over 200 points, the Nasdaq Composite (see chart here) is up 800 points and the small-cap Russell 2000 (see chart here) closed out the month of January up 175 points. January 2019 has been one of the best performing months in years.

Let’s take a look at the technical shape of the markets from a moving averages perspective. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (chart) has just broken through its 200-day moving average, while the S&P 500 (chart) and the Nasdaq Composite (chart) are both sitting on its 100-day moving average and the small-cap Russell 2000 (chart)is not too far behind. There are still plenty of earnings reports that will be released over the next few weeks and to me this is the remaining catalyst that could drive stocks higher here in the short term. Let’s keep in mind there are still other catalysts on the horizon that could put the brakes on this most recent rally with the government having yet another deadline to reach a deal on border security and of course the looming tariff deal with China. If one or both of these deals do not get done, I think we will be having a different conversation in March. Until then, let’s enjoy the current wave of positive news and market action and then see what kind of adjustments that would possibly need to be made. Good luck to all ūüôā

~George

S & P 500 - Paula Mahfouz

 

An Earnings Bonanza!

Earnings reporting season is now in full swing and so far the numbers are not too shabby. A couple of earnings standouts so far are Netflix (NasdaqGS: NFLX) and Boeing (NYSE: BA). Netflix saw subscriber and revenue growth both exceed analyst’s expectations and their stock has skyrocketed since their earnings release last week. Boeing which reported before the bell yesterday also knocked the cover off the ball as the company nearly doubled its net income from the prior period a year ago. A company doubling its net income may not sound like a lot, but when you go from $1.63B in net income to $3.13B that is clearly moving the needle in a fascinating way. Boeing shareholders were also rewarded yesterday as the stock traded north of $350.00 per share hitting all-time highs. I am just highlighting a couple of standouts so far with hundreds of companies set to report over the coming days and throughout the next few weeks.

After a 2 day mini sell-off to start the week the key indexes did bounce back yesterday and resumed its  uptrend. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (chart) closed the month of January above 26,000, the S&P 500 (chart) closed out the month at 2823.81, the Nasdaq Composite (chart) closed at 7411.48 and the small-cap Russell 2000 (chart) closed at 1575. Even with the first noticeable sell-off earlier in the week the aforementioned indexes did have a stellar performance in January gaining more than 5% on the month.

I will say this, earlier in the week and for the first time in almost 2 years the market did feel vulnerable and the sell-off felt a bit different than recent pullbacks. Pundits are suggesting that interest rates may be playing a role in the volatility for the first time in years. I have been tracking the yield on the U.S. 10 year Treasury Note (Symbol: TNX) and for the first time in a long time the yield exceeded 2.7%. A break above 3% for an extended period of time could cause volatility to continue in stocks and may be the very first catalyst to put the brakes on this almost decade long bull run. Let’s see how the rest of earnings reporting season plays out and how interest rates fare in February before we can draw any type of conclusion. Good luck to all ūüôā

~George

Is It Time To Hedge?

As we remain in one of the strongest bull markets ever, is it time to hedge? Whoever has tried to short the market this year or for that matter the last nine years understands this has not been an effective strategy to say the least. However, as we are now entering the height Q3 earnings reporting season and as I mentioned in my previous blog implementing a hedge strategy could provide continuing beta should the bull market carry on yet offer profits in the event stocks or indexes go down. The strategy I am referring to is an options strategy called a “straddle”. A straddle is when an investor buys a call and a put option with the same strike price and expiration date with the selected strike price as close as possible to the current stock price of the underlying asset. Let’s take Intel as an example: Intel (NasdaqGS: INTC) closed on Friday at $39.67 and is scheduled report their earnings results on October 25th. Taking a look at the November $40 strike price on Intel, the call option is approximate $0.83 per contract and the put option is approximately $1.34 per contract. So if an investor/trader decides to put a straddle on Intel at this particular strike price, the total cost of the straddle is $2.17. You arrive at this number by simply adding up the cost of the put and call option. Where you profit from this trade is if Intel trades north or south of $40 by more than the total cost of the trade and before expiration.

One of the reasons why straddles can be effective during earnings reporting season is that earnings can be a huge catalyst for stock price movement. This especially rings true when a company surprises to the up or downside. With a straddle it does not matter which direction the underlying asset moves, so long at it moves greater than the total cost of the straddle. The risk with the straddle is if the underlying asset does not have a big move in either direction before the straddle expires. Options do have an expiration date so you have to make sure that the catalyst occurs before the expiration date and even then allow yourself time for the full potential to play out. I also look for the historic movement of a stock or index to see if it does move greater than the cost of any given straddle regardless of a “catalyst”. That said, options and options strategies are extremely risky and volatile and you should always consult with a certified financial planner before considering any new strategy. Good luck to all ūüôā

~George

Record Closing High For The S&P 500!

Despite choppy trading for most of the week and weak economic data being released, the S&P 500 (chart) closed the week out at a record closing high of 2122.73. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (chart) is now only a mere 16 points away from its all-time high of 18,288.63, the Nasdaq (chart) appears to be closing in on its record high of 5119.83 and the small-cap Russell 2000 (chart) is attempting to claw its way back to record territory.

I thought you were supposed to “sell in May” and go away? Apparently not! However, I will say this, these records that are occurring are happening on lighter volume than I would want to see to validate the most recent price action. Nonetheless, you cannot deny the incessant strength that the markets are showing. Not less than two weeks¬†ago it appeared that we might of been en route to the 10% correction or so that had been chattered up by the pundits. In early May, the S&P 500 (chart) had breached its 50-day moving average only to snap back and set a new record closing high yesterday.

Speaking of the moving averages, the aforementioned key indices are now comfortably trading above their 50-day moving averages with the exception of the small-cap Russell 2000 (chart). The Russell yesterday did closed right at its 50-day. We will see next week if this index¬†can join the other major averages and reclaim its 50-day moving average and close in on its record high. Now let’s take a look at the Relative Strength Index which another favorite technical indicator of mine. The RSI is a technical indictor that demonstrates whether or not a index or stock is oversold or overbought, click here for the complete definition of the RSI. Even though we are at record highs, none of the major averages are in overbought territory according to the RSI. Add to the mix that next week will lead up to Memorial Day weekend and volumes should begin to decrease, I do not see any major catalyst that would¬†interfere with the most recent upward trend of the market.

Speaking of Memorial Day, both Paula and I wish everyone an upcoming safe Memorial Day holiday weekend and let’s not ever forget all who had bravely served our country.

~George

First Half Of The Year In The Books, And The Bull Keeps Running…

After gaining 30% or so in 2013, the markets continue to be on one of the most impressive bull runs in modern history. Here is how the four key indices closed out the first half of 2014: The Dow Jones Industrial Average (chart) finished up 1.5%, the Nasdaq (chart) gained 5.5%, the S&P 500 (chart) advanced 6.1% and the small-cap Russell 2000 (chart) closed out the first half of 2014 up 2.6%. Looking back to the market lows of early 2009, these aforementioned indices have tripled or better in price, which is simply stunning.

I think now is as good a time than any to¬†begin to take a look at how the major averages can continue to rise in spite of almost tripling over the past 5 1/2 years. What could¬†be the catalyst(s) going forward? It’s no secret that the Federal Reserve is scaling back¬†its asset purchases and are scheduled to be finished by year-end, so no surprise there. This in fact is where the bear camp is growling that the end of the Fed stimulus¬†program could¬†be the catalyst to end this historic bull run. What about corporate earnings?¬†In my humble opinion, herein lies the single most important catalyst that will either add fuel to this incessant bull run or put the brakes on it. If it’s the latter, this could also create¬†the first real correction in stocks, something that hasn’t occurred in years.

Investors will not have to wait too much longer for Q2 earnings reporting season is upon us. The first key earnings release that has economic implications will be Alcoa (NYSE: AA) which is due to report next Tuesday after the close. I will be very interested to see the top-line growth of Alcoa which will certainly shed some light as to the health of the global economy. Investors have been bidding up Alcoa most of the year in anticipation of an expanding global backdrop. Another economically sensitive stock at least as it pertains to the consumer is Family Dollar Stores (NSYE: FDO). Family Dollar is scheduled to report their quarterly results next Thursday before the market opens. Then by mid-July we will be in high gear to hear how corporate america fared in Q2. The week of July 14th, earnings are scheduled to come out of American Airlines (NYSE: AAL), American Express (NYSE: AXP), Blackrock ( NYSE: BLK), Citigroup (NYSE: C), Whirlpool Corp (NYSE: WHR), JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM) Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS), Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ), Intel (NasdaqGS: INTC), Yahoo (NasdaqGS: YHOO), Bank of America Corp (NYSE: BAC), Ebay (NasdaqGS: EBAY), U.S. Bancorp (NYSE: USB), Yum Brands (NYSE: YUM), Baker Hughes Inc (NYSE: BHI), UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH),  Blackstone Group LP (NYSE: BX), International Business Machine (NYSE: IBM), Google (NasdaqGS: GOOGL), Bank of New York Mellon Corp (NYSE: BK) and General Electric (NYSE: GE) just to name a few. As you can see, I think it is safe to say that by the middle of July or so we will have a pretty good idea of how corporate America is faring.

Please note that in recognition of¬†the 4th of July holiday, the markets will be closing at 1pm E.S.T.¬†on Thursday and is closed on¬†Friday the 4th. Both Paula and I wish everyone a very safe and happy 4th of July ūüôā

~George

 

It’s parabolic!

Stocks remain on fire in January as most of the major averages are hitting multi-year highs, and in some instances all time highs! For the week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (chart) closed up 1.8%, the Nasdaq (chart) +0.48%, the S&P 500 (chart) +1.14% and the small-cap Russell 2000 (chart) finished the week higher by 1.39% and closing at an all time high. Once the S&P 500 was able to breakout and remain above the 1475 level, which had been a major resistance level, the money that had been sitting on the sidelines seemingly went to work. Also there has been a slow rotation out of bond funds and into stocks.

One would thing that a pullback of some sort is in the cards for equities. However, with earnings reporting season coming in better than expected so far, and the debt ceiling issue being pushed out, we may very well continue to see this upward trajectory for stocks at least in the short term. There could be one catalyst that may give the market a pause and that is next weeks jobs report. If the employment picture continues to remain weak, I would think that this could be a reason for stocks to take a breather.

In addition to the January jobs report released next week, we will also get earnings reports out of Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT), Yahoo (NasdaqGS: YHOO), Ford (NYSE: F), Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN), Facebook (NasdaqGS: FB), Mastercard (NYSE: MA) and ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM) just to name a few. Good luck to all.

Have a great weekend ūüôā

~George