A Sell The News Environment?

We are almost at the midway point of earnings reporting season and it appears that we are in a “sell the news” type environment. Amazon (Symbol: AMZN), Intel (Symbol: INTC), Bank of America (Symbol: BAC) JP Morgan Chase (Symbol: JPM) are amongst other high profile companies that have smashed it out of the park with their latest quarterly earnings reports and yet the market does not seem to care. At best stocks have gone sideways with breakout moments only, only to find themselves priced back where they started before their earnings reports. One could say that stocks have already priced in their respective growth and the markets seem to agree. To close out the month of April, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (chart) closed at 24,163, the S&P 500 (chart) finished the month at 2648, the Nasdaq Composite (chart) closed at 7066 and the small-cap Russell 2000 (chart) settled at 1542.

As mentioned above, we are around the mid-point of the season and there are still hundreds of companies that are set to report their earnings this week which includes the likes of: Apple (NasdaqGS: AAPL), Devon Energy Corp. (NYSE: DVN), Gilead Sciences Corp. (NasdaqGS: GILD), Snap Inc (NYSE: SNAP), Avis Budget Group (NYSE: CAR), Caesars Entertainment Corp (NYSEL CZR), CVS Health Corp. (NYSE: CVS), Estee Lauder Companies Inc. (NYSE: EL), Holly Frontier Corp. (NYSE: HFC), Mastercard Inc. (NYSE: MA), MetLife Inc. (NYSE: MET), Yum! Brands Inc. (NYSE: YUM), Avon Product Inc. (NYSE: AVP), CBS Corp. (NYSE: CBS), Ferrari NV (NYSE: RACE), Kellogg Co. (NYSE: K), Shake Shack Inc. (NYSE: SHAK), Sprouts Farmers Market Inc. (NasdaqGS: SFM), Weight Watchers International Inc. (NYSE: WTW), Celgene Corp. (NasdaqGS: CELG) and Cheniere Energy Corp (NYSE: LNG). These are just a few of the names that report this week and as you can see there is a wide variety of companies that could potentially move the market from its most recent sideways action. Good luck to all 🙂

~George

 

Big Time For Big Tech!

Large cap tech stocks have taken center stage this earnings reporting season big time! Absolute blowout earnings reports came in from Amazon (NasdaqGS: AMZN), the parent company of Google, Alphabet (NasdaqGS: GOOGL) and the elders of the group Intel Corp (NasdaqGS: INTC) and Microsoft (NasdaqGS: MSFT). These tech titans are the latest reason for the Nasdaq (chart) and S&P 500 (chart) to reach and close at record highs yet again. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (chart) and the small-cap Russell 2000 (chart) are also within striking distance of their all times highs. Market observers have attributed the strength in stocks this year to a continuing low interest rate environment and the upcoming new tax policy from the Trump administration. This I get, however, no one can deny the growth that is happening in the tech world as well as other sectors of the economy.

The one note of caution I have here is the exuberant environment we find ourselves in with record highs happening weekly and in some instances daily. Yes earnings reporting season so far has been stellar but let’s not forget that we have not seen price to earnings ratios this elevated in quite some time. The question that now comes to mind are the markets and the aforementioned stocks finally at fair value? Especially as the p/e’s increase and as we approach a much higher interest rate environment over the next two years. We have been in such an accommodative monetary state for almost a decade which without a doubt has been the catalyst for equities and indexes and now the federal reserve here in the U.S. is reversing course. One of the groups that get the most affected in a higher interest rate environment are growths stocks like the aforementioned tech titans.

I am not suggesting that these stocks will not continue their upward trajectory, but I am making note and will be paying closer attention to the overall price to earnings ratios of the indexes and of high growth stocks in general as p/e’s continue to elevate. Good luck to all 🙂

~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 🙂

~George

Stocks Go On A Wild Ride!

As the new year begins to unfold, volatility has taken command! Yesterday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (chart) had a 424 point intraday swing, an intraday move not seen in quite sometime. Volatility continued to surge this morning as stocks opened down sharply by weaker than expected retail sales for the month of December, and JP Morgan (NYSE: JPM) announcing weaker than expected quarterly results. So is this the new norm? Investors and especially traders have been waiting a long time to see volatility come back into the market and they may have just gotten what they have been expecting. For years, stocks have been in a low vol environment thanks in part to the Federal Reserve’s easy monetary policies. Now that those policies have and are winding down, it’s no surprise to me that volatility has picked up. Furthermore, now that we are have entered into Q4 earnings reporting season, I expect that volatility will remain elevated and possibly increase.

Companies that are scheduled to report their earnings results are over the next week are; Citigroup (NYSE: C), Intel (NasdaqGS: INTC), Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS), Delta Airlines (NYSE: DAL), International Business Machines (NYSE: IBM), Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS), Netflix (NasdaqGS: NFLX), American Express (NYSE: AXP), eBay Inc. (NasdaqGS: EBAY), Starbucks (NasdaqGS: SBUX), Verizon Communications (NYSE: VZ), General Electric (NYSE: GE), Honeywell International ( NYSE: HON) and McDonald’s Corp (NYSE: MCD) just to name a few.

More now than ever I will be focusing on “top-line” growth of corporate America to see if this most recent sell-off poses a buying opportunity. If the top-line of companies do not begin to grow in a meaningful way, I would expect the selling pressure to continue. Good luck to all 🙂

~George

Bank Stocks Finally Catch A Bid!

As earnings reporting season kicks into high gear one of the sectors that are surprising investors to the upside are the banks. Citigroup (NYSE: C) started things off yesterday reporting an adjusted earnings per share of $1.24 compared to the $1.05 most analyst’s were anticipating. This earnings beat has lifted Citigroup’s stock over 3% the past two days. This morning Goldman Sachs Group (NYSE: GS) also announced an unexpected profit of $2.04 billion dollars or $4.10 per share while analysts were expecting earnings of $3.05 a share. This beat sent Goldman’s shares up 2% this morning although there could be a short term technical hurdle in the $171.oo range (chart) that GS may face. Back in mid-June, Goldman had a high of $171.08 before losing 5.5%. Goldman’s shares have since rebounded back to the $170 zone. Should GS be able to break through the $170 zone, it could very well test its 52 week high of $181.13. If it cannot break through this short term resistance zone in a meaningful way, then a possible re-test of the mid-June lows could occur (chart). Also reporting this morning before the market opened was JP Morgan Chase (NYSE: JPM). JP Morgan reported an earnings beat of $1.46 compared to $1.29 per share most analysts were expecting. This unexpected earnings beat sent shares of JP Morgan Chase (chart) up more than 2% in early morning trading. Whether or not this is a short term bounce or the beginning of a new trend for the banking sector has yet to be seen. I would suspect that the banking pundits will want to see a widening of yield spreads before they get too bullish.

After the bell, the focus will turn to the tech sector. Both Intel (NasdaqGS: INTC) and Yahoo (NasdaqGS: YHOO) will report their quarterly results. Intel has been on a tear gaining over 20% since mid-May (chart). In my humble opinion, Intel is really going to have to crush their numbers and up forward guidance in order for their stock to keep rising here in the short term. Yahoo on the other hand seems to be trading on what Alibaba’s valuation will come out as when they go public in the near future. Two other bellwether tech stocks Ebay (NasdaqGS: EBAY) and Google (NasdaqGS: GOOGL) will report their quarterly results tomorrow and Thursday respectively. So as you can see there are trading opportunities abound, however, my preference is to wait to see how companies report before making any trading or investment decisions. I do think this earnings reporting season will dictate how the overall markets will fare in the second half of this year. So far so good in this reporting season, but there are hundreds of companies yet to report so let’s not draw any significant conclusions. Also, please remember it is good practice to consult with a certified and trusted financial advisor(s) before making any adjustments to your current portfolio or making any investment decisions for that matter.

Good luck to all 🙂

~George

Q1 Earnings Reporting Season Saves The Day, So Far…

Last week the Dow Jones Industrial Average (chart), the Nasdaq (chart), the S&P 500 (chart) and the small-cap Russell 2000 (chart) all went into a tailspin closing lower by 2.4%, 3.1%, 2.6% and 3.6% respectively. Fast forward to this week as earnings reporting season shifted in to high gear and we have a different story. For this holiday shortened week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (chart) finished up 2.38%, the Nasdaq (chart) closed up 2.395%, the S&P 500 (chart) gained 2.7% and the small-cap Russell 2000 (chart) closed the week up 2.38%.

So why the reversal? Simply put and for the most part, corporate earnings are coming in better than expected. At the beginning of the week Citigroup (NYSE: C) posted better than expected results on net income of $3.94 billion up from $3.81 billion in Q1 2013. This was after Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC) posted a sharp rise in its net income in comparison to last year’s quarterly results. Also this week, Johnson and Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) reported a net income of $4.4 billion an almost 8% increase over the same period last year. The Coca-Cola Co. (NYSE: KO) reported their Q1 earnings booking 44 cents share which is what the street expected as global sales volume rose 2%. Furthermore, Intel (NasdaqGS: INTC) reported 38 cents a share in earnings which came in 1 cent above what analysts expected, this was enough to send Intel to fresh 52-week highs.  Yet another impressive earnings report came out of flash based data storage firm SanDisk (NasdaqGS: SNDK) which surprised the street and reported record Q1 results of $1.44 per share leapfrogging street estimates of $1.25 per share. This was enough to send the shares of the company up over 7% in today’s trading session.

As previously mentioned, earnings reporting season kicked into high gear this week and next week we go into overdrive. At the beginning of this upcoming week, we will here from Halliburton (NYSE: HAL), Wynn Resorts (NasdaqGS: WYNN), AK Steel (NYSE: AKS), Amgen (NasdaqGS: AMGN), Bank of New York Mellon (NYSE: BK), Cree Inc. (NasdaqGS: CREE), Discover Financial Services (NYSE: DFS), Gilead Sciences (NYSE: GILD), Juniper Networks (Nasdaq: JNPR), Intuitive Surgical (NasdaqGS: ISRG) and United Technologies Corp (NYSE: UTX). Mid-week earnings will come out of tech behemoth Apple (NasdaqGS: AAPL), Biogen Idec (NasdaqGS: BIIB), Delta Airlines (NYSE: DAL), Dow Chemical (NYSE: DOW), F5 Networks (NasdaqGS: FFIV), Facebook (NasdaqGS: FB) and Qualcomm (NasdaqGS: QCOM). Closing out the week we will hear from 3M Company (NYSE: MMM), Amazon (NasdaqGS: AMZN), American Airlines (NYSE: AAL), Chinese search engine Baudi (NasdaqGS: BIDU), Cabot Oil & Gas (NYSE: COG), Celgene Corp (NasdaqGS: CELG), Eli Lilly and Company (NYSE: LLY), General Motors (NYSE: GM), KLA-Tencor (NasdaqGS: KLAC), Microsoft (NasdaqGS: MSFT), United Parcel Service (NYSE: UPS) and Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F). Of course there are hundreds of others reporting their earnings next week so we will see if the market continues to rebound from its mini sell-off earlier in the month. Good luck to all.

The markets will be closed tomorrow in recognition of Good Friday and both Paula and I wish everyone a very safe and healthy holiday weekend 🙂

~George

 

Back on track…

Despite some market jitters and a pullback in June, stocks are right back in bull mode with the Dow and S&P closing at new highs. For the week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (chart) closed up 2.17%, the S&P 500 (chart) +2.96%, the Nasdaq (chart) +3.47% and the small-cap Russell 2000 (chart) closed the week out up 3.10% also closing at an all time high. These impressive weekly gains were spurred on by Ben Bernanke’s reassurance that the fed’s easy monetary policies will continue for the foreseeable future.

Once again the mettle of the market will be tested this week with Q2 earnings reporting season kicking into high gear. Here are some of the companies that will report their second quarter results: Citigroup (NYSE: C), Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO), Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS), Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ), The Charles Schwab Corporation (NYSE: SCHW), Yahoo (NasdaqGS: YHOO), Bank of America (NYSE: BAC), American Express (NYSE: AXP) and Ebay (NasdaqGS: EBAY), International Business Machines, (NYSE: IBM), Intel (NasdaqGS: INTC), United Health (NYSE: UNH), Google (NasdaqGS: GOOG) Blackrock (NYSE: BLK), Microsoft (NasdaqGS: MSFT) and Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS).

So as you can see, next week’s earnings reports will take center stage and should guide our markets as we continue to go through the summer months. I look for volatility to increase which is typical with earnings reporting season. Good luck to all.

Have a great week 🙂

~George

Chalk one up for the bears…

Stocks notched their worst performing week since the beginning of the summer. For the week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (chart) closed down 2.07%, the Nasdaq (chart) -2.94%, the S&P 500 (chart) -2.21% and the small-cap Russell 2000 (chart) closed out the week down 2.35%.

This upcoming week promises to be a doozy with Q3 earnings reporting season kicking into high gear. The following is a list of some of the high profile companies that are scheduled to report; Citigroup (NYSE: C), Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS) Coca-Cola ( NYSE: KO), International Business Machines (NYSE: IBM) , Intel (NasdaqGS: INTC), CSX Corp. (NYSE: CSX), Bank of America (NYSE: BAC), US Bancorp (NYSE: USB), American Express (NYSE: AXP) and tech titans Ebay (NasdaqGS: EBAY) and Google (NasdaqGS: GOOG).

With last week’s market performance and lack thereof, the question I am now pondering is whether or not this earnings reporting season will be the catalyst to take the markets down further? Even with last week’s 2% pullback, the bellwether indexes are still up double digits on the year. There indeed could still be more room to the downside, however, I would expect that key technical levels would support any meaningful pullback. Let’s take a look at the S&P 500 (chart). The first level of support appears to be in the 1400 zone and then the 1370 area which happens to be the 200-day moving day average for the S&P. By no means am I suggesting that these levels will be reached, all I am saying is if Q3 earnings reporting season comes in weaker than expected, we could see a continuation of last week’s pullback.

Good luck to all.

Have a great week 🙂

~George