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Blog Archives

Here’s how it’s different this time

August 19, 2011
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Here’s how it’s different this time

How is 2011 different than 2008? As the financial press quotes “investment professionals” each and every morning on the front page of the WSJ or the TOP bloomberg story with mention of how dire the market and economic situation is, and how there are many similarities to the feel of 2008 – I thought it was a good time to highlight how things are actually different: 2008 vs 2011: 1)  In 2008, the housing market was imploding, which was a seminal event in terms of US household wealth destruction. House prices ran unabated (up) for three decades and were proclaimed to “never go down”. The value of the national housing stock is down 33% from the peak. The wealth destruction from leveraged ownership to housing has and is impacting...

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Down 419 but a surge higher at the close

August 18, 2011
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Down 419 but a surge higher at the close

From 3:45pm, in today’s darkest hour (for the market) when the S&P was bang on the lows,  we saw a glimmer of hope with a fast 135 point DOW rally in literally about 8 minutes. Calling a spade a spade, the market was soundly clobbered today. But an observation is that this is not a “financial crisis” or a market that is peering into the abyss (this was happening in 2008/2009). This market is down because we may be heading into another recession.   This recession will be very different from 2008-2009 and not as deep and the market pull-back won’t be as deep either. From the highs we are already down over 16% (so this is partially already priced in). I’ll just point out that the bear trade is...

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It’s Getting Real with the Recession Indicators

August 18, 2011
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It’s Getting Real with the Recession Indicators

What is the Philadelphia Fed Index? Why has it exacerbated the market’s sharp declines from the morning? (see previous post) In short, the measure is an activity-based survey. It isn’t an actual measurement of anything, other than how people feel or their sentiments on a given day. The survey-based results are indicating that we are currently in (or on the cusp of) a recession. Period. I feel it prudent to lift my “probability of a recession” up to 50%. Before I was thinking this was more of a 1-in-3 shot. There simply hasn’t been an instance in the past 40-years where this particular measure was -30 and we weren’t in, or about to enter, a recession. In the attached chart, the grey bars are recessions. We believe this survey...

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Morgan Stanley: “Dangerously Close to Recession”

August 18, 2011
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Morgan Stanley: “Dangerously Close to Recession”

Reasons for the weakness at the open: Morgan Stanley takes estimates from global GDP growth from 4.2% to 3.8% for 2011. Scary front page of the WSJ: “Fed Eyes European Banks” which is what they should be doing but it is still scary as presented. NTAP cut guidance last night and the stock is off 13%. They mention some orders slowing in July and macro concerns. Initial unemployment claims came in 408k, which still not indicative of a recession, or even a slowdown, the number of initial claims is up 9k from the 399k posted last week (which incorporate revisions). And for good measure, the French, Spanish, Italian, and German banks are all down some 3-7%. Tough markets to navigate. The primary investment focus is simply “recession” or “not...

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ICI Mutual Fund Flows – “A Waterfall”

August 17, 2011
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ICI Mutual Fund Flows – “A Waterfall”

ICI MUTUAL FUND FLOW HISTORY ICI mutual fund flows <click on the PDF link in red> for the equity asset class (Aug) were released today with an outflow of $23.5B which rivals the exit from the equities back in the depths of the financial crisis (late 2008). This is stunning, that investors would run for the exits so abruptly. While the analogies to 2008-09 abound we think there are “dramatic” differences. Our banking system is much better capitalized, households have de-leveraged, and the economy has shown no signal of imminent collapse. The good news – the data is reflective of what already happened, not what will happen! There is no predictive statistical significance between mutual fund flows and go-forward stock market returns. The relationship is spurious and as much...

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The US Economy – not as bad as the headlines (7 reasons why)

August 17, 2011
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The US Economy – not as bad as the headlines (7 reasons why)

While many pundits are talking about recessionary type conditions – we would like to point out that the actual environment is much better than this, and in many regards running at about the same pace now that we did in Q1. We acknowledge that GDP growth has disappointed this year, and has come in much lower than bullish forecasts from Wall Street banks like Goldman Sachs. Much of the delta in GDP has come from a push-out in the housing recovery as well as a slowdown in government spending. On the consumption and private sector side, things are hanging in. Some rays of light: 1)  Retail Sales are strong – the weekly sales surveys from Redbook and ICSC are running at the high growth rates of the year (exhibiting...

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German Economy – The End of Detachment

August 16, 2011
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German Economy – The End of Detachment

The German economy has been detached from other developed markets over the past year. Real GDP growth in Germany grew at 3.6% in 2010, and accelerated to 5.5% growth in the first quarter of this year. This morning, we learn that the initial estimate of Q2 GDP growth has fallen sharply to 0.5%. This is the weakest rate of growth since Q1 2009. While much slower GDP growth in the world’s 4th largest economy creates challenges, the abruptness of the decline may serve as a wake-up call to some of the aloof German politicians who seem to think that all of the problems around the rest of the developed world were unique to other places and that German was exempt because of superior fiscal policy choices over the past...

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Google (GOOG) to acquire Motorola – Investment Analysis

August 15, 2011
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Google (GOOG) to acquire Motorola – Investment Analysis

Google has announced an agreement to acquire Motorola Solutions (MMI) as they continue their push into mobile internet and mobile hardware. The deal was announced for $12.5B and shareholders of Motorola Solutions will receive $40 per share in cash. This is a cool 63.5% for shareholders of MMI relative to Friday’s closing prices. Larry Page and Patrick Pichette (Google’s CFO) did a quick conference call explaining the deal this morning. You can listen to the call over at Google’s investor relations site. The call didn’t say too much other than point out that the deal will be accretive (ex amortization of intangibles) immediately from the time it closes. This is because Google is funding the transaction with excess cash that is sitting on the balance sheet earning very low...

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Buy Dillard’s (DDS) – stock selloff overdone

August 12, 2011
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Buy Dillard’s (DDS) – stock selloff overdone

There is an opportunity right now to purchase Dillard’s (DDS) to earn outsized short-term returns. This post is different from a “focus investment” which is a much more in-depth analysis and suitable for longer-term investment. See the post on Guess (GES) with the attached PDF for a “focus investment” selection (we still like Guess btw). This trade idea is an observation on a market dislocation that we feel doesn’t make sense. Today we suggest buying shares of Dillard’s (DDS) which is down 17.5% on not beating expectations. The results at Dillard’s were not fundamentally bad. EPS were up from $0.10 last year to $0.32 this year (adjusted EPS). Same Store Sales trends remain healthy at Dillard’s (+6% for Q2) and the margins are expanding. The key quarter for full...

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“Risk On” – DOW surges 423!

August 11, 2011
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“Risk On” – DOW surges 423!

European banks, which were the cause of yesterday’s collapse all rallied today. CDS spreads in Europe all narrowed across the board, French and Italian sovereign debt rallied, Gold sold off 41 dollars (down 2.3%), earnings continue to be holding in relative to reduced expectations (Kohl’s, Cisco), the Bovespa rallied sharply, and the VIX went down all day. After an exhausting first 4-days of the week we have: 2-2 (in terms of terrifying market collapses vs euphoric booms). Again, this is just this week. If you need some water to mix with your alcohol IV, you aren’t alone.  Rubber match on Friday.    

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China Rate Hike Cycle Over?

August 11, 2011
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China Rate Hike Cycle Over?

                 The markets have been on edge like high-schoolers lining up prom dates. This type of volatility isn’t fun – the ups and downs. It weighs on professional investors, it interjects more emotion into the investment process, while elevating stress, and causing people to lose sleep. The above is natural as money is made or lost at an outsized pace in hourly timeframes. This phenomena is measured in the VIX index which has surged to over 40 this week (was 15-25 the majority of the past couple of years). I point out the above, because when you are stressed, tired, and emotional, you don’t think or research as clearly. Things get missed. There was some subtle news in the past week about August 10th being a key date for...

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France to be downgraded – it should be – it doesn’t matter

August 10, 2011
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France to be downgraded – it should be – it doesn’t matter

Rumors are swirling that France is about to be downgraded by Standard & Poor’s. We will state in advance that not only do we think that France should be downgraded, we think every nation that is rated “AAA” should now be rated “AA” on Standard & Poor’s definition of “AA”. There simply is no country which should have a higher sovereign credit rating than the US. No other nation has the world’s reserve currency or largest military – there for they are riskier. If the market sells off on any news related to France, we will take that opportunity to buy. French Government bonds are 3.10%. German Government bonds are 2.11% Italian Government bond are 5.10% (down sharply from last week) Spanish Government bonds are 5.01% (down sharply from...

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