Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Stock Buyback Rate Continues To Increase

S&P Dow Jones Indices recently reported stock buyback results for the fourth quarter of 2020 noting a 28.2% increase in the quarter versus the third quarter increase of 14.8%. This increase in buyback activity for S&P 500 companies follows a steep contraction in Q2 2020, i.e., $88.7 billion versus $198.72 billion in Q1 2020. Aggregate dividends paid in Q4 2020 increased to $118.84 billion versus $115.54 billion in the third quarter last year. Buybacks totaled $130.5 billion versus Q3 buybacks of $101.8 billion. This level of buybacks pushes the quarterly back amount above the dividends paid in the quarter as seen with the red and purple lines in the below chart.


Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Small Improvement In Small Business Optimism, But Large Positive Labor Market Signs

The March NFIB Small Business Optimism Index increased to 98.2 compared to the prior month reading of 95.8. The report notes seven of the 10 index components had improvements. However, the uncertainty component increased six points as business owners were more uncertain about whether this was a good time to expand and make capital expenditures.


Saturday, April 10, 2021

Positive Job Market Developments: Openings And Quit Rate Are Increasing

Earlier this week the February Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) was released showing job openings continued to increase. For the February period job openings equal nearly 7.4 million and is approaching the peak job openings level of 7.5 million reached in late 2018. This represents a positive sign that economic activity is increasing and businesses are experiencing increasing demand; hence, the need for more employees.


Thursday, April 08, 2021

Individual Investor Sentiment Is Elevated

The  American Association of Individual Investors reported a jump in bullish sentiment to 56.9%. This is the highest bullishness level since the reading reached 59.7% for the weekly reporting period ending January 4, 2018. As the below chart shows, higher levels of bullishness have a tendency to occur near market tops; however, the pullbacks can be brief or short lived. Also, bullish sentiment can get to higher levels as happened in 2003 when bullishness was reported in the low 70 percent level.


Saturday, April 03, 2021

So Far, A Better Year For The Dogs Of The Dow

In 2020 the Dogs of the Dow strategy significantly lagged the return of the broader S&P 500 Index. For the 2020 calendar year the Dow Dogs returned a minus 8% versus the S&P 500 Index return of 18.4%. Several factors led to the Dow Dog underperformance. First, the 2020 Dow Dogs held two energy stocks out of the total ten stock portfolio. Exxon Mobil (XOM) was down 36% and Chevron (CVX) was down 29% last year. In the technology space, the two Dogs were IBM and Cisco (CSCO), down 1.2% and down 3.5%, respectively. For 2021 though, the Dow Dogs have jumped out to a strong start up 12.0% versus the SPDR Dow Jones Industrial Average (DIA) up 8.9% and the SPDR S&P 500 Index (SPY) up 7.5% as seen in the below table.


Wednesday, March 31, 2021

A Change In Equity Market Leadership Is A Positive

One favorable aspect of the current equity market is the broader favorable performance across a wider range of asset classes and investment styles. I wrote about this in mid September last year and at the time raised the question whether this rotation or change in leadership had more room to run. The below chart clearly shows that a shift in leadership has carried through the first quarter of this year. The blue line on the chart represents the average total return of the six stocks, Facebook (FB), Amazon (AMZN), Netflix (NFLX), Google (GOOGL), Microsoft (MSFT) and Apple (AAPL). Collectively, these six stocks are trailing in performance relative to the other asset classes shown. Up until September though, the asset class returns were essentially reversed as seen in the second chart.


Tuesday, March 30, 2021

The Consumer Is Spending, A Major Driver To The Economic Recovery

As is often said actions speak louder than words and with the consumer at the moment, both survey results and spending activity are moving in the same direction. The consumer accounts for 70% of GDP or the economy, so as the consumer goes, so goes the economy. Today's Conference Board Consumer Confidence reading for March is reported at 109.7, up from 90.4 in the previous month. Consumer confidence has yet to reach the higher pre-pandemic level, but it is moving up from its low after not declining as much as it did during the financial crisis. CEO confidence on the other hand is near a record high.


Sunday, March 14, 2021

Oil Inventory Level Remains High Potentially Limiting Steeper Rise In Energy Prices

A number of factors will influence the price of oil over time, but the supply level and active rig count provide useful insight. Other variables come into play as well, like Middle East conflicts and the level of the U.S. Dollar. The price of West Texas Crude has increased from around $15 per barrel in April of 2020 to its current $66 per barrel. On the surface it seems oil inventory levels are at a sufficiently high level, as the green line in the below chart indicates, that oil prices should not continue to trend higher at a pace similar to the pace over the last year. With the rig count beginning to turn higher, additional oil supply will eventually find its way onto the market; however, there is a lag in oil production growth vis-à-vis rig count growth.


Sunday, March 07, 2021

Equity Market May Be Entering A Period Of Further Strength

Going back to 2016 I was writing about the current bull market that began in 2013 and how it resembled the bull market of the 1950's and 1980's. At the time of those earlier posts I certainly did not foresee the pandemic and a .5% yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury. Nonetheless, as this current recovery unfolds, a rise in the 10-Year U.S. Treasury yield has occurred and may continue. Higher interest rates in and of themselves are not necessarily a headwind for stocks though, especially when rising from a very low level.


Saturday, March 06, 2021

Earnings Growth Supports Strong Equity Market Advance

Fourth quarter 2020 earnings reports are nearing an end as 495 companies in the S&P 500 Index have reported results. Refinitiv's report dated March 5, 2020 notes results have come in better than history. Nearly 80% of companies have reported earnings above analyst estimates, exceeding the long-term average of 65%. Expectations for the next two quarters shows earnings growth accelerating with the second quarter 2021 estimate currently indicating growth of 51.2% on a year over year basis.