Better Than Expected…

Q3 earnings reporting season has just begun and early on earnings are coming in better than expected. Almost 15% of the S&P 500 have reported their latest quarterly earnings and over 80% of that group have beat expectations. Included in this group that have already reported are Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX), Bank of America (NYSE: BAC), JP Morgan Chase (NYSE: JPM), and Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS) just to name a few. A look ahead to next week and hundreds of companies are set to report including but not limited to Halliburton (NYSE: HAL), TD Ameritrade (Nasdaq: AMTD), Biogen (Nasdaq:BIIB), Discover Financial Services (NYSE: DFS), Harley-Davidson (NYSE: HOG), McDonald’s Corp (NYSE: MCD), Proctor and Gamble (NYSE: PG), United Parcel Service (NYSE: UPS), Boeing Co (NYSE: BA), Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT). eBay (Nasdaq: EBAY), Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F), Las Vegas Sands Corp (NYSE: LVS), Microsoft (Nasdaq:MSFT), O’Reilly Automotive (Nasdaq:ORLY), Paypal Holdings (Nasdaq:PYPL), Spirit Airlines (NYSE: SAVE), Tesla (Nasdaq: TSLA), Xilinx (Nasdaq: XLNX), 3M Co (NYSE: MMM), Aflac Inc (NYSE: AFL), American Airlines Group (Nasdaq: AAL), Capital One Financial Corp (NYSE: COF), Citrix Systems (Nasdaq: CTXS), Deckers Outdoor Corp (NYSE: DECK), First Solar (Nasdaq: FSLR), Gilead Sciences (Nasdaq: GILD), Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV), T-Mobile (Nasdaq: TMUS), Twitter (NYSE: TWTR), Visa Inc (NYSE: V), Goodyear Tire & Rubber (NYSE: GT), Phillips 66 (NYSE: PSX), and Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE: RCL). Hundreds more companies are set to report but you get the picture.

So with earning reporting season kicking into high gear, let’s see how investors continue to respond. On the week the Dow Jones Industrial Average (chart) closed at 26770, the S&P 500 (chart) closed just under the 3000 mark, the Nasdaq Composite (chart) closed at 8089 and the small-cap Russell 2000 (chart) closed the week at 1535. With the exception of today’s pullback the aforementioned indexes have all been in a recent uptrend. I think it is safe to say that next week’s earnings results will play a role in the markets direction.

Good luck to all 🙂

~George

What Correction?

I think it’s safe to say that the bulls took back control of the stock market, at least for now. After what seemingly was the beginning of a meaningful market correction in late January, stocks closed the month of February at or near record levels. For the month, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (chart) finished up 3.96%, the tech focused Nasdaq (chart) closed up almost 5%, the broad based S&P 500 (chart) closed at a new record high of 1859.45 and was up 4.3% in February, and the small-cap Russell 2000 (chart) finished the month in the green by 4.6%.

So what changed from the apparent sell-off in late January to today? In my view, absolutely nothing. We still have a very accommodative Fed, interest rates remain near zero and a new Fed chairwomen that essentially emulates the former head of the Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke, and his policies. Hence, markets remain flush with cash with no where else to go but into higher yielding assets. This in my humble opinion is why equities snapped back from their January declines and why new highs are occurring. The bears are wondering how much longer can this go on without sparking a potential problematic inflationary environment. The bears are also growling about the bubbly type market we find ourselves in with valuations beginning to get stretched a bit and the apparent stratospheric $19 billion price tag that Facebook (NasdaqGS: FB) recently paid for the 55 employee app company WhatsApp. Then you have electric car maker Tesla this week receiving a price target boost from Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS) to $320 dollars, which is more than double what Morgan’s previous target price was. Other data supporting the bear thesis is margin interest remains at all time highs and the retail individual investor is coming back to life according to online trading discount brokers TD Ameritrade (NYSE: AMTD) and Charles Schwab (NYSE: SCHW) which are seeing a surge in trading activity. Some pundits argue that this is the type of market behavior that is conducive with market tops. All valid points. My take is both the bulls and bears have valid points, but personally I cannot bet against the power of the central bank and their incessant support of the markets. When and only when the asset purchase program concludes and when interest rates begin to rise, we can then have a different type of discussion.

That said, we can easily see pullbacks and corrective type actions in the marketplace like we witnessed in late January. When volatility does come back, I would expect a similar pattern of market participants coming in looking for potential bargains, and thus placing yet another floor under these markets. On the technical front, it appears that all systems a go with none of the key indices in overbought territory yet according to the Relative Strength Index (RSI) however, yesterday we did see a “quasi-reversal” of sorts in where we closed well below the sessions highs after the S&P 500 (chart) hit an all time intraday high. This reversal was apparently due in large part to the increasing tensions in the Ukraine late Friday afternoon, which is something I will pay close attention to next week.  In closing, whether you are bullish or bearish, make sure to always consider having protective stops in place with your positions which is designed to protect your portfolio against unexpected losses.

Have a great weekend 🙂

~George

Q4 Earnings Reporting Season Is Here…

And so far, it’s a mixed bag. As this earnings reporting season kicks into high gear, most of the banks that have reported so far have come in above consensus estimates with Citigroup (NYSE: C) being one notable exception. Citigroup did report a $2.69 billion dollar profit, however, this was below consensus estimates and the bank did cite weakness in their mortgage and fixed income divisions. The stock closed lower by over 4% on the day. Another sector that is being challenged so far this year is the retail sector, at least certain companies within the sector such as Best Buy (NYSE: BBY). Although Best Buy did not report their earnings, they did come out with their holiday same store sales today which were significantly below analysts’ expectations and the company lowered their guidance due to disappointing holiday sales. On that news, the street hammered Best Buy’s stock today sending its shares lower by $10.74 per share or almost 30% on over 85 million shares in volume. This type of massive volume compared to a typical volume day of around 6 million, could be considered a washout or capitulation type trading day, hence a potentially sharp bounce back and potential recovery in its share price? Let’s see how the next couple of trading sessions play out on Best Buy before we draw any conclusions on a potential snap back rally.

Now let’s take a look on how the key indices are faring so far this year starting with the Dow Jones Industrial Average (chart) which is down 1%, the Nasdaq (chart) is up 1%, the S&P 500 (chart) is essentially flat, and the small-cap Russell 2000 (chart) has gained about 1% since the beginning of the year. So as you can see, a mixed bag here as well with the benchmark indexes.

Looking ahead to tomorrow’s key earnings reports, we will hear from the likes of General Electric (NYSE: GE), Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS), Bank of New York Mellon Corp (NYSE: BK), and Schlumberger (NYSE: SLB) just to name of few. Next week we will hear from powerhouses International Business Machine (NYSE: IBM), Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ), Halliburton (NYSE: HAL), Abbot Labs (NYSE: ABT), Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold (NYSE: FCX), U.S. Bancorp (NYSE: USB), and Honeywell (NYSE: HON). Of course there are hundreds of other companies reporting next week as well, but I will be paying closer attention to the aforementioned companies due to their reach in the economy here and abroad.

I think this earnings reporting season will be scrutinized more than any other in recent years. Everyone wants to see top-line growth out of corporate America to confirm what the most recent economic data has revealed. With that said, and with what we have seen come out of certain slices of the retail sector, I am expecting a bumpy ride between now and the end of Q4 earnings reporting season. Good luck to all and make sure to consider having protective stops in your portfolios. The markets will be closed on Monday due to the MLK holiday.

Have a great holiday weekend 🙂

~George