Monday, April 27, 2020

Retest The March Low Or Not

The economic and equity market environment investors find themselves operating in today are different and more challenging than any environment they have likely faced in their lifetime. The steep market contraction from the February high was swift, i.e., declining 33.9% over a short 22 trading days, the fastest on record. With a nearly global economic shutdown due to mandatory stay at home orders, the economic growth rate, or should I write, contraction, is turning out to be severe. The CBO's estimate of U.S. second quarter GDP is for a contraction of nearly 40% at an annual rate. Over 26 million jobs have been lost in five short weeks, wiping out the job gains that were generated following the financial crisis of 2008/2009. So in the face of this poor economic data, will the equity market retest the March 23 low?

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Investor Bullish Sentiment Weakening

Until today I had been surprised individual investor sentiment was holding up at an elevated level. However, with the AAII Sentiment Survey release this morning, for the week ending 4/22/2020, bullish sentiment fell 10 percentage points to 24.9%. This is the lowest bullishness reading since October 10, 2020 when bullish sentiment was reported at 20.3%. A majority of the formally bullish respondents flipped to the bearish category this week, where it rose 7.3 percentage points to 50%.%.

The sentiment readings are contrarian ones and looking at them on their own, a further weakening would be one positive metric for higher equity prices.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Downside Earnings Revisions Tend To Peak Near Market Bottoms

It is not surprising company earnings revisions have been mostly downside revisions with most of the country/consumers sitting at home. What is noteworthy though is the upside to downside earnings revision ratio tends to bottom near equity market bottoms. During the 2008/2009 financial crisis, the revision ratio bottomed in late February and the S&P 500 Index bottomed a little over two months later. As the below chart shows, the current upside/downside ratio is lower than the ratio reached at the bottom of the financial crisis in 2008/2009.

Monday, April 20, 2020

The Current Market Like 1987 Or 2008/2009?

Investors and the market are entering peak earnings season and with futures down this morning, it seems investors may be facing a buy the rumor sell the news type of market. The crash in oil prices, with NYMEX crude down 35% to $11.77 per barrel, is adding to the negative market sentiment. Up until this peak earnings period for the first quarter, the S&P 500 Index rose over 28% off the March 23 low as of Friday's (4/17/2020) close. The speed of the market decline from February and the subsequent speed of the move higher seems at odds with the business environment facing companies. As is often said, the market is not the economy. Investors are now faced with answering the question of where the market is headed from here.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Equity Markets Defy Emotions

From February 19 to March 23 the S&P 500 Index went from trading at a record high to being down 30.75% for the year, all in the span of 23 trading days. The speed of the decline caught most investors by surprise. In the fifteen trading days since the March 23 low though, the Index is up 27.2% and regained 608 of the 1,148 points lost in the contraction. In spite of the strong recovery, a majority of S&P 500 stocks still trade far below their 50 day and 150 day moving averages. Only 31% of S&P 500 stocks are trading above their 50 day moving average and 21% are trading above their 150 day moving average.

Retest The Low Or Onto New Highs?

Of course March 23 is not even a month in the rear-view mirror, but the S&P 500 Index is up over 23% since the low on that date. Some have commented the market will retest that market low before achieving new highs while others say the Fed's intervention minimizes the likelihood of a retest. As time moves further past the March 23 day, it seems "the no retest" chorus is sounding more probable. Because I have a bit of a contrarian tilt in my viewpoints, maybe the no retest sound bite means just the opposite?

Thursday, April 09, 2020

Spring 2020 Investor Letter: The Bears Woke Up

The first quarter was an unprecedented one as the S&P 500 Index decline was the fastest 30%+ sell-off ever. The market ultimately fell 33.9% from February 19 to its low on March 23, just 23 trading days. This occurred on the back of a strong 2019 where the S&P 500 Index was up 31.5% for the year. A strong start was underway for 2020 with the S&P 500 Index up 5.1% through February 19. The COVID-19 virus pandemic puts individuals and investors in an environment that was unimaginable just a few weeks ago.

Tuesday, April 07, 2020

NFIB Survey: Small Business Survival At Risk

Small businesses (less than 500 employees) account for around 50% of total private payrolls. The broad virus initiated and widely mandated "stay at home" orders across most states are having an extreme negative impact on small businesses, all business for that matter. In today's NFIB Small Business Optimism release, the Optimism Index fell 8.1 points to 96.4, the largest decline in the survey's history. It should be noted most of the survey responses were obtained in the first half of March.