Archive for March, 2013

  • The Howling Fat Men of the Coen Brothers
    , March 29th, 2013 at 3:41 pm

  • First-Quarter Market Performance
    , March 29th, 2013 at 2:31 pm

    Here’s how different sectors performed during the first quarter of 2013. I also included the S&P 500 Total Return.

    Sector Market Cap (bil) Index Q1 Gain
    Energy $1,526 583.98 9.57%
    Materials $480 247.52 4.17%
    Industrials $1,413 361.89 10.08%
    Cons Disc $1,625 420.27 11.76%
    Cons Staples $1,532 410.47 13.77%
    Health Care $1,752 533.42 15.22%
    Financials $2,226 245.41 10.92%
    Info Tech $2,519 483.34 4.21%
    Telecom Svc $415 158.01 8.20%
    Utilities $490 198.69 11.84%
    S&P 500 $13,979 1,569.19 10.03%
    S&P 500 Total Return 2,770.05 10.61%
  • CWS Market Review – March 29, 2013
    , March 29th, 2013 at 7:42 am

    “See, the stock market only deals in facts, in reality, in reason, and the
    stock market is never wrong. Traders are wrong.” – Jesse Livermore

    Ladies and gentlemen, it finally happened. Write down this date: Thursday, March 28, 2013, A.D. That’s the day the S&P 500 finally (finally!) closed at a new all-time high. The official close was 1,569.19, which breaks the old record of 1,565.15 set on October 9, 2007. That was 1,997 days ago. It’s hard to believe that it took us five-and-a-half years to get back to the peak of the bubble. Of course, maybe we’re lucky. The Dow didn’t break its 1929 peak for more than a quarter of a century.

    Now that the first quarter is on the books, our Buy List gained 8.01%, which trails the S&P 500’s gain of 10.02% (dividends not included). I’m happy with the gain, but my competitive spirit doesn’t like losing to the market. We’ve beaten the market for six years in a row, and I’m confident we will do so again in 2013. As always, patience and discipline are our keys. Speaking of which, later on I’ll talk about DirecTV ($DTV), which suddenly sprang to life after traders ignored a blow-out earnings report.


    Measured from its low close on March 9th, 2009, the S&P 500 has now gained an amazing 131.95%. If we include dividends, investors have made 152.96%, and our Buy List has done ever better. Over the last two weeks, the index had a heck of a frustrating time lurching past the goal line. On seven of the ten days before Thursday, the S&P 500 had gotten above 1,560 during the day but had never broken 1,565. Early in the day on Thursday, the S&P 500 even went up to 1,565.14, just a measly 0.01 away from the previous high, before retreating. We didn’t break though the magic market number until about 30 minutes before the close. I should add that trading volume has been pretty tame this week. I think a lot of traders are getting a head start on the three-day weekend.

    In this week’s CWS Market Review, I want to take a look at the upcoming first-quarter earnings season. For several months, analysts have been paring back on their forecasts for Q1, but we’ll get to see the results soon. Investors need to understand that earnings season is Judgment Day for Wall Street, and that’s when we learn who’s been performing well and who hasn’t.

    What to Expect This Earnings Season

    The market is closed on Friday for Good Friday, so that means that Thursday was the final trading day of the first quarter. Overall, it was a very good quarter for the stock market. I’m pleased to say that T.S. Eliot had it wrong. Far from being the cruelest month, April has been pretty good for investors. The Dow has risen for the last seven Aprils in a row. Let’s hope we can make it eight, but that will depend on earnings season.

    According to the numbers from S&P, Wall Street expects the S&P 500 to report earnings of $25.51 for the first quarter. Just to be clear, that’s the index-adjusted number (every point in the S&P 500 is worth about $8.9 billion).

    Nine months ago, Wall Street was expecting earnings of $27.71 for Q1. It’s interesting that the market has climbed more than 15% since then, even though earnings estimates are 7% lower. I think this is less due to the market’s overvaluation of today and more because of the big undervaluation of last summer. If you recall, traders were extremely nervous about events in Europe. You can really see how much Mr. Draghi’s famous promise to “do whatever it takes to preserve the euro” comment changed the market’s sentiment.

    If Wall Street’s forecast is correct, then Q1 earnings will represent an increase of 5.2% from the first quarter of 2012. It will also break the two-quarter streak of profit declines. Lakshman Achuthan of the Economic Cycle Research Institute got a lot of attention recently when he made a bold forecast that the U.S. is in a recession. Achuthan was criticized by most sensible analysts and I, too, think he’s way off base. But one of his reasons was that back-to-back quarters of earnings decline often line up with recessions. Well, it looks like this time will be an exception.

    The earnings outlook appears to be changing. Wall Street currently expects earnings to accelerate for the rest of this year, meaning the rate of growth will itself increase. I continue to be a bit skeptical of exactly how strong this re-acceleration will be. A lot of this depends on our friends from Europe. Some areas are already showing improvement. Right now, the analyst community expects full-year earnings for the S&P 500 of $111.16. That would be a healthy 14.80% increase over 2012. Furthermore, the Street expects the S&P 500 to rake in $124.77 for 2014, which would be a 12.24% increase over this year. Breaking out some math, this means that the S&P 500 is going for just over 12.5 times next year’s earnings. That’s quite attractive, compared with a 10-year Treasury that fetches you a puny 1.85%.

    This favorable math isn’t exactly a secret. Over the past few days, some of the big-name firms on Wall Street have been raising their year-end targets for the S&P 500. Bull markets tend to do that. Morgan Stanley just raised their target from 1,434 to 1,600. Goldman raised their target by 50 points to 1,625. Deutsche Bank increased theirs from 1,600 to 1,625.

    Of the ten S&P 500 sectors, the largest growth is expected to come from the financials. Profits for the financials are expected to rise by 19.08%, which is more than double their closest rival (consumer discretionary at 6.52%). This is good news for our financial stocks like JPMorgan ($JPM) and Wells Fargo ($WFC). Wall Street expects JPM to report earnings of $1.38 per share, which is a 16% increase over last year’s Q1. Remember, of course, that JPMorgan has made a nice habit of trouncing Wall Street’s forecasts. For last year’s Q2, they beat analysts by more than 70%! The Street expects 88 cents per share from Wells, which would be a 17.3% increase over last year. Both WFC and JPM remain very good buys.

    Buy DirecTV up to $59 per Share

    In mid-February, DirecTV ($DTV) had a great earnings report. The satellite TV company crushed earnings by 42 cents per share. Unfortunately, traders were spooked by an earnings charge due to the currency devaluation in Venezuela. I thought that was pretty minor stuff, but it was enough to bring the stock down below $48 per share. I’ll never understand traders. DTV’s earnings report was about as good as it could be. Sure enough, once all the suckers got cleared out, the stock started to rally. The shares also got a bump after the company wisely pulled out of the bidding for Vivendi’s Brazilian division. Now we’re sitting on a rather nice gain. On Thursday, DTV got as high as $57.64. DirecTV continues to be an excellent stock. I’m raising my Buy Below to $59 per share.

    Before I go, I want to name some of the stocks that look especially good on our Buy List. First is Harris ($HRS). Its solid dividend is ideal for conservative investors. HRS is a buy up to $53. Bed Bath & Beyond ($BBBY) continues to look very good. The home-furnishings store will report earnings on April 9th. That will be for their important fourth quarter, which ends in February. I’m raising my Buy Below on BBBY to $65. There’s no news on Nicholas Financial ($NICK). Don’t be alarmed by the volatility here. Traders are going on absolutely nothing. I’ll let you know once there’s real news. Let me put in a final word for boring old Microsoft ($MSFT). Business is improving, and the 3.2% yield ain’t bad. MSFT is a solid buy up to $30.

    That’s all for now. Remember, the stock market is closed on Good Friday, and Monday is the start of Q2. Next week, we’ll get a look at the ISM report for March. The report for February was surprisingly good. The ADP jobs report will come out on Wednesday. Then, next Friday, the government releases its big jobs report. Wall Street forecasts that 185,000 jobs were created in March. Be sure to keep checking the blog for daily updates. I’ll have more market analysis for you in the next issue of CWS Market Review!

    – Eddy

  • Morning News: March 29, 2013
    , March 29th, 2013 at 7:20 am

    Cyprus President Confident Crisis ‘Is Contained’

    Norms on Baguette Size to Windows Choking France, Report Says

    Japan’s Jobless Rate Up To 4.3%; Prices, Manufacturing Fall

    Cyberattacks Seem Meant to Destroy, Not Just Disrupt

    Economy Up 0.4% in Fourth Quarter

    Jobless Claims Rise, But GDP Data Shows More Growth

    U.S. Clean-Gasoline Rule Opposed by Oil Group Said Near

    Amazon Buys Book-Recommendation Site Goodreads

    Sprint Nears a U.S. Deal to Restrict China Gear

    Amazon, Overstock Lose Challenge to N.Y. Web Sales Tax

    Underappreciated Consumer Stars In S&P 500 Rally

    Should the Government Finance New-Energy Technologies?

    Is Steven A. Cohen Buying Off The U.S. Government?

    Joshua Brown: The Lurkers of Wall Street

    Phil Pearlman: 2nd Quarter Outlook: Waiting for Godot…

    Be sure to follow me on Twitter.

  • We’re an All-Time High
    , March 28th, 2013 at 4:01 pm


  • Q4 GDP Growth Revises to +0.4%
    , March 28th, 2013 at 11:33 am

    When the initial report on fourth-quarter GDP came out, Wall Street was shocked to learn that it was -0.1%. The economy actually got smaller. One month later, the report was revised to +0.1%. Today it was revised again, this time to +0.4%.


  • Morning News: March 28, 2013
    , March 28th, 2013 at 11:08 am

    S&P 500 Breaks Above Record High

    Jobless claims rise, but GDP data shows more growth

    Angry Cypriots withdraw bank deposits

    US economy grew at 0.4 percent rate in 4Q, slightly better than last estimate

    OECD predicts stronger global growth

    RIM Swings to Black, Sells a Million Z10s

    Duncan Hines parent Pinnacle’s shares jump in market debut

    Freddie Mac: 30-year fixed mortgage rate at 3.57%, up slightly

  • Red Hat Drops After-Hours
    , March 27th, 2013 at 5:37 pm

    Last month, I listed eleven stocks to sell right now. One of the eleven was Red Hat ($RHT).

    At the time, Red Hat was going for $55.33 which I thought was very over-priced. The stock closed today at $49.97. But after the close, the company reported earnings of 36 cents per share which was six cents more than expectations. Revenue, however, fell short of expectations.

    In after-hours trading, the stock was as low as $42.80 although it’s currently down 5.4% to $47.28 per share.

  • Riverbed Technology Below $15
    , March 27th, 2013 at 3:27 pm

    Riverbed Technology ($RVBD) recently gave guidance that didn’t impress investors. As a result, the shares have dropped down to a good price. The company sees Q1 earnings between 23 and 24 cents per share on revenue of $257 million to $266 million.

    Here’s how Riverbed describes itself:

    Riverbed delivers application performance for the globally connected enterprise. With Riverbed, enterprises can successfully and intelligently implement strategic initiatives such as virtualization, consolidation, cloud computing, and disaster recovery without fear of compromising performance. By giving enterprises the platform they need to understand, optimize and consolidate their IT, Riverbed helps enterprises to build a fast, fluid and dynamic IT architecture that aligns with the business needs of the organization.

    Here’s a look at RVBD’s stock along with its earnings-per-share:


  • The Shrinking Stock Market
    , March 27th, 2013 at 12:19 pm

    Since 2000, the U.S. stock market has been shrinking. USA Today has some numbers:

    The Wilshire 5000 index is a market measure of all the U.S.-based firms that have shares that can be traded. For decades, it’s been a proxy for the size, breadth and value of the entire stock market.

    But even the Wilshire 5000 can’t maintain enough companies to reach its namesake number. There now are 3,678 companies in the index, is down by more than a third in a decade and off by nearly half from its level in 2000, says Wilshire Associates.

    The number of publicly traded companies always ebbs and flows, but the current number has fallen steadily since at least 2000. At 3,678, the number of companies available for the public to invest in is much closer to the low of 3,069 in February 1971 than to the high of 7,562 in July 1998. Granted, there are thousands of stocks traded on “Pink Sheets” and other lightly or unregulated markets, but the Wilshire 5000 only includes those that trade on an exchange such as the New York Stock Exchange or Nasdaq.

    It’s not just a blip with the Wilshire 5000. The total number of listed securities trading on the Nasdaq OMX and NYSE Euronext exchanges was 4,916, according to the World Federation of Exchanges. The number of listed securities on these two critical exchanges has fallen every year since 2009 and is down 32% since 2000 and 39% from the recent peak in 1997. Making that more troubling: That number includes listings that aren’t companies, such as exchange-traded funds, which have soared in popularity.