Thursday, April 30, 2009

Markets Rise Despite Swine Flu Scamdemic

The 'Helicopter Economics Investing Guide' is meant to help educate people on how to make profitable investing choices in the current economic environment. In addition to the term helicopter economics, we have also coined the term, helicopternomics, to describe the current monetary and fiscal policies of the U.S. government and to update the old-fashioned term wheelbarrow economics.

Our Video Related to this Blog:

U.S. stock indices were all up over 2% yesterday despite the increasing hysteria about a swine flu pandemic. The market was clearly not buying that story, nor should you (more below). The markets were giddy over comments coming from the Fed meeting yesterday. The Fed said the rate of the economy's decline had slowed considerably. It further stated that it would consider additional funding for its programs if necessary. Expect the printing presses to be running full time well into the future with bail outs needed in the insurance industry, commercial real estate and for state and local governments. And don't forget that we will be bailing out Mexico too, probably sooner than later thinks to the recently totally unjustified brouhaha over swine flu.

Rarely if ever have I seen more irresponsibility on the part of the medical authorities and media than in the handling of the current swine flu outbreak. Coverage seems much worse than during the outbreak in 1976, when 200 people were sick with swine flu and one person supposedly died from it. That swine flu outbreak started at an U.S. army base at Fort Dix, New Jersey. The first person to have been identified with swine flu, was the only recorded fatality (it is not clear from the available information that other causes of death could be ruled out). Four other army recruits had to be hospitalized. However, it turns out that 500 other soldiers at the base tested positive for swine flu, but didn't even become sick. Somehow, the U.S. government used this data to justify spending $135 million on a large-scale immunization program, which had to be halted once it was realized that people were dieing and being horribly crippled - from the vaccine! No swine flu epidemic ever materialized.

The facts of today's swine flu outbreak also tell a very different story than the one you are hearing from the media. The glaring front page headline in a major newspaper yesterday, "Swine Flu, Why You Should Worry" is typical of what the public has seen and heard and which have caused needless panic throughout the world. In reality, NOT ONE PERSON outside of Mexico has died from swine flu (how many have died inside Mexico may also have been grossly exaggerated). But what about the reports of the first American death, even mentioned in this blog yesterday? Well, it turns out the unfortunate toddler who died after two weeks in a Houston hospital came from Mexico. His parents claim he only became sick once they crossed the border and arrived in Brownsville, Texas. The toddler also had other significant health problems, which the medical authorities refuse to reveal. Without knowing what these were, it is impossible to say if he actually died from another medical condition or swine flu.

It needs to be kept in mind that the symptoms of swine flu are identical to other types of flu and similar to many other illnesses as well. Swine flu can only be identified by viral typing, something the Mexicans didn't have the ability to do during the beginning of the outbreak. They had to send samples to the United States. As of April 26th, only 18 cases of swine flu had been confirmed in Mexico by viral typing, yet the media reported 160 people dead from swine flu there (how did they know this?). Not only is it quite possible many of these people actually died from something else, it is the logical conclusion if you consider that there aren't any deaths elsewhere. As for the viral typing that has been done in the United States on suspected cases, a large majority of the tests have come back negative for flu. Of the few that were positive, twice as many indicated already known forms of the disease and not swine flu.

By every measure so far, the current version of swine flu seems to be the mildest form of influenza that has ever existed. No deaths in the U.S. versus 36,000 a year from other flu related illnesses and 7 hospitalizations versus the usual 114,000 annual number (thats 0.006%). Yet, that's not how the medical authorities have reacted. They have done everything possible to fan the flames of panic among a naive and gullible public (and increase their budgets - the federal government has already promised $1.5 billion). The New York City Health Commissioner, Thomas Frieden, stated that there were many hundreds of school children in the city with suspected cases of swine flu (that word suspected got buried in the coverage). Health and Human Services Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, warned that the child who died in Houston would not be the first death in the U.S. form swine flu. Perhaps she's planning an airlift of the seriously ill from Mexico? You got to find some way to spend that $1.5 billion.

NEXT: Market at Key Resistance; Scamdemic Update

Daryl Montgomery
Organizer,New York Investing meetup
http://investing.meetup.com/21

This posting is editorial opinion. Like all other postings for this blog, there is no intention to endorse the purchase or sale of any security.





Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Stupidity Pandemic; U.S GDP Tanks

The 'Helicopter Economics Investing Guide' is meant to help educate people on how to make profitable investing choices in the current economic environment. In addition to the term helicopter economics, we have also coined the term, helicopternomics, to describe the current monetary and fiscal policies of the U.S. government and to update the old-fashioned term wheelbarrow economics.

Our Video Related to this Blog:

The handling and coverage of the current swine flu outbreak has lots of lessons for investing. While the word pandemic is constantly being used by medical authorities for the spread of the flu, the only pandemic that seems to exist is the stupidity in handling and reporting the problem. No realistic concept of probability is being utilized in the amount of attention being paid to this incident. The same problem causes bad investing decisions. Meanwhile, the U.S. GDP figures were released this morning and the 6.1% decline was much worse than analysts had expected.

In my experience, doctors generally have a poor sense of probability and they also tend to be bad investors. The complete lack of context and statements from the medical establishment about the swine flu outbreak vividly illustrate this. Flu of some sort is omnipresent in the U.S and it is a major cause of mortality with an average of 36,000 flu related deaths annually in the 1990s. The very young, the old and the immune compromised are particularly at risk. By any statistical measure, the numbers for the recently discovered swine flu are insignificant. It has only gotten any attention at all because a new strain has been identified. Until an infant death was reported today in Texas, the mortality of this flu outside of Mexico was zero and it would be reasonable to conclude that this new flu is much less risky than the ordinary strains we have to deal with every winter. The U.S. medical establishment's record of handling of swine flu in the past is also rather tarnished to say the least. A vaccine to prevent it in 1976 (the disease never really showed up despite dire warnings of impending peril - there were only 200 cases and one death) killed and crippled far more people than those who got the disease. It was thought at the time that the deadly 1918-1919 flu pandemic was swine flu. It was not, it was a type of avian flu.

Probability always needs to be taken into account when deciding what action to take. Worrying about risks that are minimal are a waste of time. People make the same mistake when investing. Their view of risk in the market tends to be highest at the bottom when this risk of losing money is actually minimal and lowest at the top when the risk of losing money is the greatest. Successful investors look for opportunities where the probability of winning is over 50% (if it is under 50% you are gambling and not investing). The higher your chances of winning are above the 50% level, the better. Over time, you will ultimately make money with this strategy, just as gamblers ultimately lose because they deal with probabilities of less than 50%.

The GDP report this morning was dismal to say the least. Analysts had expected a drop of 4.9% and the number came in at 6.1%. The drop in Q4 2008 was 6.3%. This is the first time since the deep recession of 1974-1975 that GDP has declined three quarters in a row. Highlights from the report: Exports collapsed 30 percent, the biggest decline since 1969, the decline reduced GDP by a record 4.06%; Investment by businesses tumbled a record 37.9 percent in the first quarter, while residential investment dived 38 percent; Business inventories plummeted by a record $103.7 billion in the first quarter and this lowered GDP by 2.79%. Consumer spending supposedly rose by 2.2% from the very depressed levels at the end of last year. I am skeptical of this however, but then again I am skeptical of many things - and for good reason.

NEXT: Markets Rise Depsite Swine Flu Scamdemic

Daryl Montgomery
Organizer,New York Investing meetup
http://investing.meetup.com/21


This posting is editorial opinion. Like all other postings for this blog, there is no intention to endorse the purchase or sale of any security.










Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Markets Catch Swine Flu

The 'Helicopter Economics Investing Guide' is meant to help educate people on how to make profitable investing choices in the current economic environment. In addition to the term helicopter economics, we have also coined the term, helicopternomics, to describe the current monetary and fiscal policies of the U.S. government and to update the old-fashioned term wheelbarrow economics.

Our Video Related to this Blog:

The only pandemic that you need to worry about right now is that global markets are being infected by swine flu hysteria. The Asia markets sold off last night, Taiwan and Hong Kong for the second day in a row with both down 1.9%. The Nikkei dropped 2.7% and South Korea's Kopsi was off 3%. As I write this, major European markets are down between 2.1% and 2.8% and S&P futures are down 1.8%. Oil if falling from the above the 50 level again (this has become a recurrent pattern as of late). Most amazingly, gold is down about $20 in the futures market, even though the price of gold should go up during a crisis (is this telling us something about the Fed meeting taking place this week?).

The media's handling of the swine flu news is incredibly irresponsible and outrageous (keep this in mind when reading financial news which is not handled that much differently). You would think that another Medieval Black Plague was about to strike. Just as in investing reporting the facts get buried amid the hype and the news deviates significantly from reality. So far, it doesn't look like there are any deaths outside of Mexico. While flu has been found in 40 people in the U.S. who had traveled to Mexico, the cases seem relatively mild and this seems to be true in other countries as well. The disease seems to be one thing in Mexico, but quite another outside of Mexico. This is a huge inconsistency that doesn't make sense, so there is obviously more to this story than is being reported, or perhaps it would be more accurate to say, less to the story.

So far the most damaged stock groups from the Swine flu news are airlines and hotels. AMR, UAUA, and LCC were all down in the double digits yesterday. They are still not buys however since they were already overextended on the upside when they began selling off. They would have to have about 4 serious days of selling to make them interesting for other than day trading purposes. Anti-viral biotechs were the big winners, most going up well into the double digits. Expect them to come right back down once the crisis blows over. At that point they might be longer term buys. If you want to take a look: BCRX, BTAHY/BTAHF, GNBT, HEB, NVAX, PPHM, and VICL. Only very experienced traders should play with these stocks.

Wall Street reaction to the swine flu is as would be expected. Hearing the word swine, the usual suspects have answered the call. One market analyst is out on the net with a statement that the market could drop 15% (if this turns out to be as bad as SARS that is - it won't be, the two aren't comparable at all). One oil analyst has come out with a prediction that oil will go back to $33 a barrel because air travel is likely to have a huge drop. My guess is this is all going to be much ado about nothing. Even though the swine flu may disappear, don't assume the swine on Wall Street will have done the same. You always need to worry about them.

NEXT: The Stupidity Pandemic; U.S. GDP Tanks

Daryl Montgomery
Organizer,New York Investing meetup
http://investing.meetup.com/21

This posting is editorial opinion. Like all other postings for this blog, there is no intention to endorse the purchase or sale of any security.





Monday, April 27, 2009

Buy When There's Flu in the Streets

The 'Helicopter Economics Investing Guide' is meant to help educate people on how to make profitable investing choices in the current economic environment. In addition to the term helicopter economics, we have also coined the term, helicopternomics, to describe the current monetary and fiscal policies of the U.S. government and to update the old-fashioned term wheelbarrow economics.

Our Video Related to this Blog:

Reports of a possible flu pandemic are permeating media coverage today. This news caused a significant sell off in the Taiwan and Hong Kong markets last night where memories of SARS are fresh on everyone's minds. While I have frequently criticized the media for their irresponsible coverage of the stock and commodity markets, coverage of medical issues seem to be even more problematic. As usual, instead of a responsible recitation of the facts with the logical conclusions that can be drawn from them, media reports are geared toward sensationalism meant to panic the public (when you really should panic, silence or boosterism from the mainstream media is much more likely).

The first thing that needs to be considered is that a major influenza epidemic in the summer is highly unlikely, if not impossible. Recent studies indicate that flu is most contagious under dry conditions at 20 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 6 Celsius). This is why flu epidemics take place in the winter and not the summer. In the case of the 1918 pandemic, flu broke out early in season in September and October. This took place at the end of World War I when there were large concentrations of military personal confined in close quarters (ideal for spreading disease). Examining a map of the disease's spread in the U.S. flu seems to have started in port cities and around military bases. There was a small initial outbreak of flu in the spring of that year which the authorities ignored. The disease then became dormant in the summer as should have been the case. Since we are already at the end of April, weather conditions favorable to flu are quickly dissipating. This gives the authorities plenty of time to react (it is already known that antivirals are effected in combating this new incarnation of the flu and the U.S. has large amounts of these in storage). None of the small number of cases identified in the U.S. so far have been fatal and all but one person with the flu travelled to Mexico (the exception was the wife of someone who travelled to Mexico).

How does this affect your investments. It depends on when you think the news will become better. It took quite awhile before the news coverage on SARS indicated the problem had passed. In this case, the news is likely to shift to a more positive tone or disappear in a relatively short time. The market sell offs that take place during medical panic should be bought into just like those that take place because of market panics. There was already likely to have been some selling this week as is. So if this blows over quickly, look to Friday as a possible good rally day.

The important take away is that markets will sell off because of panic inflamed by the mainstream media. Often, as in this case with this new version of the flu, the media blows everything out of proportion because hype sells papers and gets big viewing audiences. Unfortunately, it can loose you money if you sell into the panic instead of buying into it. Buying high quality goods at fire sale prices is always a good way to make money and this should never be forgotten by any investor.

NEXT: Markets Catch Swine Flu

Daryl Montgomery
Organizer,New York Investing meetup
http://investing.meetup.com/21

This posting is editorial opinion. Like all other postings for this blog, there is no intention to endorse the purchase or sale of any security.








Friday, April 24, 2009

The Gold is in Eastern Capitalism

The 'Helicopter Economics Investing Guide' is meant to help educate people on how to make profitable investing choices in the current economic environment. In addition to the term helicopter economics, we have also coined the term, helicopternomics, to describe the current monetary and fiscal policies of the U.S. government and to update the old-fashioned term wheelbarrow economics.

Our Video Related to this Blog:

The head of China's State Administration of Foreign Exchange stated last night that China's gold reserves were 1054 metric tons, up substantially from previously reported levels. Purchasing gold, along with a whole host of commodities including oil and copper, seems to be China's strategy for getting rid of some of its almost $2 trillion worth of foreign reserve holdings (about half of which are in U.S. dollars). In separate news, a report by Deutsche Bank now predicts that China's GDP will be bigger than the U.S. GDP by the early 2020's. Based on recent reports of U.S. government chicanery in the manipulation of the financial system, capitalism seems to be disappearing in the U.S while it's on the increase in Communist China.

I have long predicted that the Chinese would be increasing their gold reserves, which are paltry compared to the current size of their economy. China also needs to diminish its foreign exchange holdings before the paper that its holding seriously devalues. These efforts have only just begun. Despite buying gold and stockpiling commodities, China's foreign reserves were up slightly to $1.954 trillion at the end of Q1 2009 from $1.946 trillion at the end of Q4 2008. In order to actually diminish its paper holdings, China is going to have to ramp up gold and commodity purchases substantially from recent levels. The implications are bullish for the commodity markets to say the least. China is not the only economy with small gold reserves and large foreign exchange holdings either, the Gulf Oil states fit this description as well. They also have good reason to be buying gold.

As China rises because it is becoming more capitalistic, the U.S. economy is heading down because of it is becoming less so. For anyone who doubts that the U.S. is turning into an authoritarian socialist state where the government calls the shots and no free is left in free enterprise, I suggest you read recent reports about the Bank of America and Merrill Lynch merger. It was arranged by Fed Chair Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Paulson (both Republicans and appointed by a supposedly conservative Republican president). When Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis tried to back out of the deal when he realized it could take his company down, Bernanke and Paulson told Lewis he and the board of Bank of America would be removed if he didn't go along with what the government wanted (recall that the CEO of General Motors was recently ousted and think about the implications for a moment). Lewis also claims Bernanke and Paulson directed him to lie to Bank of America shareholders, who remained uninformed about the actual state of things when they had to vote to approve the Merrill takeover. The government which is supposed to protect shareholders has obviously become one of their biggest enemies. We have pointed this out a number of times in this blog. Unlike the press, which is reporting this story now, the New York Investing meetup has been warning about this for over a year and a half.

Given the current state of affairs, no one should be surprised that China will over take the U.S. economically in as little as 10 years or so - at least based on official government figures. Keep in mind that the U.S. has overstated its GDP for many years and China may have been understating its GDP during its rapid growth phase. Investors needs to keep an eye to the East as economic power shifts there. The U.S. is now at a similar point historically that Great Britain was after World War I. Britain's world dominance was on the wane, while the more rough and tumble capitalistic U.S. was on the rise. Instead of facing this reality and making changes, the British engaged in denial and this assured their fall. The U.S is doing the same thing right now.

NEXT: Buy When There's Flu in the Streets

Daryl Montgomery
Organizer,New York Investing meetup
http://investing.meetup.com/21

This posting is editorial opinion. Like all other postings for this blog, there is no intention to endorse the purchase or sale of any security.





Thursday, April 23, 2009

IMF Notices Recession; Possible Sovereign Defaults

The 'Helicopter Economics Investing Guide' is meant to help educate people on how to make profitable investing choices in the current economic environment. In addition to the term helicopter economics, we have also coined the term, helicopternomics, to describe the current monetary and fiscal policies of the U.S. government and to update the old-fashioned term wheelbarrow economics.

Our Video Related to this Blog:

In what could only be described as 'you heard it here last' news, the IMF (International Monetary Fund) has just released a report that predicts the deepest global recession since the Great Depression. What caused this great revelation is a mystery. Perhaps they finally started reading last years papers and realized all the economic news around the world was bad. We'll probably never know. Meanwhile, U.S. News and World Report has complied a list of countries in danger of default - and get this, Argentina is on the list. Well, that is a shocker! A country that has defaulted on its debt over and over and over again is at risk of defaulting again. Who could have predicted it?

I have often said economists are the last people to know about a recession. Apparently, international economists take this concept to an extreme. While anyone who doesn't live in a cave has realized for at least a year that there have been serious global economic problems (the New York Investing meetup itself predicted recession in December 2007), the IMF has finally come out with a prediction of global contraction in 2009. They are predicting a 1.3% drop overall and a 3.8% drop for the advanced economies. The IMF is also predicting that the major economies will have budget deficits of 10.5%. Who the money is going to be borrowed from when almost every government has a big deficit was not in the report (they should have just included a picture of a big printing press). The current IMF forecast is the fifth downgrade for global growth in a little over 6 months. Thank you IMF for that timely update.

As for the risk of sovereign defaults, this is based on information from the ratings agencies S&P and Moody's, the people who gave subprime loan securities triple A ratings (well, there's no question that they're on top of things). Pakistan, which already defaulted 6 months ago is in danger of defaulting again. The usual Eastern European suspects, the Ukraine, Belarus, and Latvia aren't in good shape either (and you could probably add three to four more countries in the region). Closer to home, Mexico is in danger of default. It is only a question of when and not if for a possible Mexican default. Mexico gets a significant percentage of its federal revenues from the rapidly declining Cantarell oil field and its budget problems are only going to get worse. The U.S. will have no choice but to bail out Mexico. The IMF will take the lead for the other countries (picture that printing press again). Countries not on the list include Greece, Portugal, Spain and Ireland. Well, maybe next year.

As an investor you should be concentrating only on what is likely to happen sixth months in the future. News that everyone already knows is irrelevant because it has already been priced into the market. That doesn't mean that the mainstream media won't announce it in blaring headlines or give it dramatic coverage. You need to ignore all of these superficialities. You also need to consider whether or not you are the last to hear the news. If a stock price has already been going up long before some good news has been officially announced, you can be pretty assured that lots of other people knew what was going on long before you did.

NEXT: The Gold is in Eastern Capitalism

Daryl Montgomery
Organizer,New York Investing meetup
http://investing.meetup.com/21

This posting is editorial opinion. Like all other postings for this blog, there is no intention to endorse the purchase or sale of any security.





Wednesday, April 22, 2009

If It's Wednesday, It's the Oil Storage Report

The 'Helicopter Economics Investing Guide' is meant to help educate people on how to make profitable investing choices in the current economic environment. In addition to the term helicopter economics, we have also coined the term, helicopternomics, to describe the current monetary and fiscal policies of the U.S. government and to update the old-fashioned term wheelbarrow economics.

Our Video Related to this Blog:

Every Wednesday at 10:30AM the EIA (Engergy Information Agency) releases it oil inventory report for the U.S. This not only includes the oil at the NYMEX storage facility at Cushing Oklahoma (actually down two weeks ago, although the drop didn't get press attention), but oil at refineries, oil just arriving by ship, etc. It also includes the oil in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which is not available for general use except during an emergency. Media coverage has continually reiterated that there is a 'glut of oil' and that we are 'drowning in oil' even though there is only approximately 18 days of oil in storage (this fact remains unmentioned).

While you will continually see references in the media to the drop in global demand for oil, you will see far fewer references to falling supply. In many articles you won't see this key piece of information mentioned at all. World demand is estimated to have fallen from 87 to 84 million barrels a day because of the current economic decline. However, OPEC alone has cut daily production by over 3 million barrels. The decline in usage may also be overestimated. A report out of China, currently the worlds second largest oil consumer, today indicated that year over year demand for oil in March dropped a "whopping" 0.25% (you would need a magnifying glass to notice the change).

Falling oil production isn't just the result of evil plotters and maldoers like OPEC as the American press would have you believe, but is being caused by oil being depleted from major fields. Both North Sea and Mexican oil production are falling rapidly simply because the oil is running out. Production in the Cantarell field in Mexico, the second largest in the world, is dropping by 15% a year. This is one of the major sources of oil for the U.S. As early as five years from now, the oil being pumped from Cantarell may be so little that there will only be enough for internal use in Mexico. This will make the U.S. even more dependent on oil from our "friends" in Venezuela and the politically unstable corruptocracy of Nigeria. Even worse, the recent drop in oil prices has caused a number of production projects to be cancelled and this will add to the inevitable oil squeeze that will be taking place in the next few years.

The oil report today indicated more oil in storage than the consensus estimate. Oil, the commodity, went down on the news. Some oil stocks such as PDS and HTE are doing exceptionally well today however. The seasonals for oil are bullish at until at least June, and maybe into the summer, and there is likely decent money to be made until then in the short term. While a price pull back this fall/winter is probable because of seasonal patterns, that should be considered a major long term buying opportunity.

NEXT: IMF Notices Recession; Possible Sovereign Defaults

Daryl Montgomery
Organizer,New York Investing meetup
http://investing.meetup.com/21

This posting is editorial opinion. Like all other postings for this blog, there is no intention to endorse the purchase or sale of any security.





Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Look for the Gaps

The 'Helicopter Economics Investing Guide' is meant to help educate people on how to make profitable investing choices in the current economic environment. In addition to the term helicopter economics, we have also coined the term, helicopternomics, to describe the current monetary and fiscal policies of the U.S. government and to update the old-fashioned term wheelbarrow economics.

Our Video Related to this Blog:

Gaps, in more ways than one, are the key to making money in this market. Gaps in logic of the media coverage and gaps in stock charts. We are at the peak of first quarter earnings season this week and you are seeing one media report after another with glaring headlines about how earnings are down for major companies as if somehow this is a surprise. What exactly was the press expecting to happen during the worst economic downturn since the 1930s? I am actually surprised that earnings are not down much more. The news is also leading to stock prices that gap up and down - sometimes two or three times in a week. This amount of choppy trading is unusual, but is great for making money trading, since gaps frequently get filled shortly after they are made.

Today we had earnings from big caps United Technologies (UTX), Dupont (DD) and Caterpillar (CAT). Earnings for United Technologies were down 28% and my reaction in contrast to the media's was, "Is that all?". Highly cyclical DuPont's earnings were down 59% and Caterpillar had a loss because of write offs. All of these stocks had have significant drops from their highs with CAT having fallen around 75% just in the last year alone. All in all, I would say the market has been anticipating a lot of bad news for a long time and has priced it into these stocks (and almost every other stock in the market for that matter). But does the media report, 'things not so bad, considering'? Not at all. The press coverage reads like the funeral scene from a Greek tragedy. You will also not read in most of the reports that these stocks are well off their lows. Why is that if things are going to be so bad in the future - the only thing the market cares about?

Hysterical media coverage is leading to short term panic selling on many stocks (and sometimes panic buying is taking place by the contrarians who are seeing the incredible bargains being made available). This has created very choppy charts that are filled with gaps. Unless you have a breakaway gap - a sudden move up (or down) to a new trading range, gaps usually get filled in the short term. When a stock has gapped down, it is likely to fill the gap on the upside later, so you can buy and wait for this to happen (two gaps down is an even better deal, usually rare, but common these days). I have also seen two or three gaps up. The stock is likely to fall and fill these gaps - and then you buy for usually handsome profits.

Helpful advice on making money in the market will almost never appear in the media (it is likely an accident if it does). What investors are more likely to get is this quote that appeared today from Noriel Roubini: "For people who say there are green shoots, I see only yellow weeds frankly," Roubini said from a conference in Hong Kong Tuesday. "It's not a true recovery. It's just a bear-market rally, it's a suckers rally." Roubini is an economist and not an expert on the stock market, so why is he being quoted. Has he ever made any money trading stocks? My guess is no.

NEXT: If It's Wednesday, It's the Oil Storage Report

Daryl Montgomery
Organizer,New York Investing meetup
http://investing.meetup.com/21

This posting is editorial opinion. Like all other postings for this blog, there is no intention to endorse the purchase or sale of any security.





Monday, April 20, 2009

Nasdaq Confirms Double Bottom - 200 Day MA Next

The 'Helicopter Economics Investing Guide' is meant to help educate people on how to make profitable investing choices in the current economic environment. In addition to the term helicopter economics, we have also coined the term, helicopternomics, to describe the current monetary and fiscal policies of the U.S. government and to update the old-fashioned term wheelbarrow economics.

Our Video Related to this Blog:

On Friday Nasdaq confirmed it made a double bottom in November and March. While this doesn't mean that we are out of the woods yet, it is another positive sign for continual bullish market action for the next several weeks. The other market indices have not created any recognizable bottoming pattern, although it looks like reverse head and shoulders patterns are in formation. Look for the market indices to go to their 200 day moving average, always a major area of resistance in a bear market rally. A move down when that point is reached is almost inevitable, although some minor piercing on the upside is possible.

Nasdaq's high after the November sell off was 1666. This is the neckline for a possible double bottom. Nasdaq then hit a slightly lower low in early March than it had in November (a double bottom with the second bottom lower is a more bullish pattern). Its high on Friday was 1682, above the neckline. No matter how visible the double bottom is on a chart, the pattern isn't completed until the neckline is broken. This is a buy signal. You would now like to see prices higher than 1682 being reached in the next several days for more confirmation.

The 200-day moving averages should now act as magnets for the market indices. For Nasdaq, the 200-day is currently 1780, less than 100 points higher. For the Dow, it is 9210 and for the S&P 500, 980. All of the 200-day moving averages are falling, so keep this in mind. My current guess is that they will all have to be hit. If this is the case, the Nasdaq is likely to go above its 200-day, while waiting for the more laggardly Dow and S&P 500 to catch up. The tech heavy Nasdaq has been leading the market on the upside for sometime now. If you look at charts for individual tech stocks, you will see many bottomed in November and didn't come close to making a new low in March.

At the moment, the stock charts are much more bullish than the picture being painted by the financial media. The charts tell you what people are actually doing in the markets, while the mainstream media usually tells you fanciful stories of what it thinks is happening, and even then it's mostly only half the story. Most people let the media guide their investing decisions, either consciously or unconsciously - and most people never make any money in the markets. The two are not unrelated.

NEXT: Look for the Gaps

Daryl Montgomery
Organizer,New York Investing meetup
http://investing.meetup.com/21

This posting is editorial opinion. Like all other postings for this blog, there is no intention to endorse the purchase or sale of any security.





Friday, April 17, 2009

Bull Markets Climb a Wall of Worry

The 'Helicopter Economics Investing Guide' is meant to help educate people on how to make profitable investing choices in the current economic environment. In addition to the term helicopter economics, we have also coined the term, helicopternomics, to describe the current monetary and fiscal policies of the U.S. government and to update the old-fashioned term wheelbarrow economics.

Our Video Related to this Blog:

An old market adage from the 1800s is that bull markets climb a wall of worry. At almost every step of the way (except at the end), there is substantial hand wringing about stocks being over priced, overbought, overextended and ahead of themselves. You will hear and read over and over again how current prices are not justified and the rally has gone way too far. Despite all the numerous reasons cited, most of which seem quite reasonable, stock prices continue to go up and up. Based on these criteria, we are currently in major bull market.

This type of opinion for stocks has been pervasive in the mainstream financial media from almost the beginning of the current rally (the oil market is even worse, with a constant barrage of negative headlines and news of impending price collapses that are supposedly going to take place any moment). It has however reached new heights in this rally with the CEO of NYSE Euronext giving a public interview stating the current rally is likely to run out of steam and stocks return to their previous lows. Considering the NYSE Euronext makes its money on the amount of trading that takes place, widely publicized comments from its CEO to talk down the market and discourage people from trading are a bit curious to say the least. There is definitely more to this story than meets the eye.

As we pointed out in the blog a few days ago, the big money in rallies like the current one is made by buying very low-priced stocks with good fundamentals. A case in point would be diamond company Harry Winston (HWD). While the media was telling you to stay out of the market, you could have almost doubled you money in this stock in less than two weeks. The stock is indeed now overextended, but should offer some opportunity for buying it on a drop later next week or even earlier the following week. While oil the commodity is moving sideways, a number of oil stocks are moving up. We mentioned in this blog drillers was the place to look, one the best deals seems to be Precision Drillers (PDS). A few shippers, also mentioned here as a place to look, have had explosive rallies in the last couple of days.

If you have a longer term perspective, media coverage can actually be very helpful. Just look for stocks that they are bashing. One of the best examples I have ever seen of this was in an article published in yesterday's IBD ("Bottom Fishing Can Land a Smelly Catch"). While every point made in this article applies to HWD (try to find an IBD stock that went up a 100% in the last two weeks - don't bother looking, there aren't any), the article is actually about MEMC Electronics (WFR). While most of the article bashes WFR as one of the worst stocks in the world, a careful reader would note that WFR had similar problems in 2001 to those that it has today and it was selling as low as $1.05 at that time. Within 6 years, WFR went up to $96.08. So you could have made 95 times (or 9500%) your investment by buying the stock when things looked worse. But don't worry, IBD is doing its best to make sure you don't fall into that trap again!

NEXT: Nasdaq Confirms Double Bottom - 200 MA Next

Daryl Montgomery
Organizer,New York Investing meetup
http://investing.meetup.com/21

This posting is editorial opinion. Like all other postings for this blog, there is no intention to endorse the purchase or sale of any security.





Thursday, April 16, 2009

Economic Statistics are Yesterday, Stock Prices are Tomorrow

The 'Helicopter Economics Investing Guide' is meant to help educate people on how to make profitable investing choices in the current economic environment. In addition to the term helicopter economics, we have also coined the term, helicopternomics, to describe the current monetary and fiscal policies of the U.S. government and to update the old-fashioned term wheelbarrow economics.

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The Fed Beige book was released yesterday and the media reported that it saw a glimmer of hope for economic recover in the U.S. That glimmer is not yet showing up in the economic statistics, which are gloomy worldwide not just in the U.S. However the economic statistics are backward looking and usually dated on top of that by the time they are released. While the report may say March, those numbers really might be from February (or even January). Reports of Q1 activity might actually be data from Q4 at the end of the previous year (this became glaringly obvious in the 3rd quarter of 2005 when hurricane Katrina devastated the U.S. economy and the GDP figures for the quarter then came out higher than had originally been expected, but the 4th quarter GDP was much lower). People get confused when the stock market is already going up when the news is at its worse, but this makes perfect sense. The economic news you are seeing may be from two quarters in the past, while the market is being priced for what it it thinks is going to happen two quarters in the future. When making investing decisions you too should always look forward.

To make investing even more difficult for the average investor, the media constantly inaccurately states that the stock market (or oil market or some other market) can't go up until the economy improves. Historical analysis indicates that this is simply not true. Liquidity drives stock prices. The more money available for buying stocks, the more the market goes up - and this can happen when the economy stays in bad shape for a long time. Liquidity almost always revives the economy as well so eventually a recovery takes place there too (a hyperinflationary depression would be the one exception). The amount of liquidity being pumped into the financial system currently is massive by any historical standard. This is going to be reflected in the stock market first and much later on at Starbucks, where you will be paying $50 for a cup of coffee.

No matter how bad things are, markets also can't go down forever. Eventually there comes a point where everyone who is going to sell has sold. When that happens one little piece of even insignificant good news can drive the market up suddenly and sharply (look for this behavior in the natural gas market in the future). This type of rally is short-covering or if it takes place around an important support level (it doesn't have to) will be called technical. For extremely oversold markets like the one we have now, a rally to the 200-day moving average is common. You should certainly consider taking profits around that level. Also watch for stocks or sectors with a lot of stocks that manage to break through and stay above the 200-day. These are the leaders for the future.

History (something completely unknown to most U.S. financial reporters) tells you a lot about how to successfully make money in the market. Go back and read the news from June 1932. You will see the worse economic news imaginable. The U.S. economy and banking system were in total collapse. And the banking crisis didn't finally bottom until the spring of 1933, when many insolvent banks were closed down during the banking holiday, and the system wasn't stabilized until the implementation of deposit insurance in 1934. Should you have bought stocks in July 1932? If you did, you would have made around 100% in a few weeks.

NEXT: Bull Markets Climb a Wall of Worry

Daryl Montgomery
Organizer,New York Investing meetup
http://investing.meetup.com/21

This posting is editorial opinion. Like all other postings for this blog, there is no intention to endorse the purchase or sale of any security.





Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Deflation Boogieman, Oil and Intel

The 'Helicopter Economics Investing Guide' is meant to help educate people on how to make profitable investing choices in the current economic environment. In addition to the term helicopter economics, we have also coined the term, helicopternomics, to describe the current monetary and fiscal policies of the U.S. government and to update the old-fashioned term wheelbarrow economics.

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The PPI report yesterday and CPI report this morning both indicated deflation - at least in the headline numbers. PPI was down 1.2% and CPI down 0.1%. The core rates were flat and up 0.2% respectively. Falling energy prices, and falling food prices as well this month, are responsible for the "deflation" that is being reported by the government. NYMEX oil prices meanwhile closed yesterday in New York at $49.41, but were once again above $50 again in European trading this morning (the weekly storage report is out today at 10:30AM New York time). Oil is well off the $33 low being reflected in recent inflation statistics. Tech bellweather Intel released earnings last night and there was actually some good news in the numbers. The CEO also blatantly stated the PC market had bottomed. Apparently traders don't believe him though since the stock had a big drop in the aftermarket.

We have covered many times in this blog how the U.S. government manipulates the inflation statistics to lower the reported inflation rate, so you should always add a few percent to whatever numbers it releases. We have also demonstrated several times how falling oil prices are almost solely responsible for the recent drop in U.S. inflation rates (falling oil along with drops in other commodity prices were the key components of the deflation that took place in Japan in the late 1990s and early 2000s as well, but you will never see this mentioned in media reports). The U.S. government reported this morning that year over year headline CPI is down 0.4% - the first annual decline since 1955 - but the core rate is up 1.8%. Yesterday, the headline PPI was reported down 3.5% since last year, the largest decline since 1950. Gasoline and food prices were down over 13% and even food prices supposedly dropped (something I haven't noticed in the real world).

Considering the light sweet crude oil is already around 50% above its February low, the days of the current "deflation" may be numbered (and of course the U.S. is printing new money at an outstanding rate to make sure they are). During the entire time that oil prices have rallied, the mainstream media has continually stated that the price can't go up until the economy recovers and demand for oil increases (neither has occurred, yet prices have risen) . A quote from an article this morning, "Demand will have to come back before you see the oil price move up from $50 in a sustained way." You can find very similar statements when oil was at $40 and yet the price rose to $50. My guess is you will see similar statements at $60 and probably $70 as well. Interestingly, the people being quoted in the articles today are different from the people that have been quoted, and who have been continually wrong, during the last few months. Is the mainstream financial press actually starting to realize that their credibility is damaged when they continue to quote a source that has been wrong a few dozen times in a row? Perhaps, although you should note that the quotes themselves that contain the inaccurate information are not changing, just the people they are attributed to.

Finally, Intel earnings last night were significant. While they don't exactly indicate that the global economy is running on all cylinders, they do indicate that tech spending is not collapsing. It is also unusual for a CEO of a major company to state so blatantly an opinion of overall market conditions. So why isn't the market giving his bullish comments any credibility? My feeling is that it is because tech spending in the U.S. may not have bottomed. However, the U.S. is not the center of world when it comes to technology spending (and many American traders have yet to realize this). The market for computers in East Asia became twice as big as the market in North America long ago. If demand for tech is picking up in Asia, the market could have indeed be turning around.

NEXT: Economic Statistics are Yesterday, Stock Prices are Tomorrow

Daryl Montgomery
Organizer,New York Investing meetup
http://investing.meetup.com/21

This posting is editorial opinion. Like all other postings for this blog, there is no intention to endorse the purchase or sale of any security.





Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Rallies Make You Rich, No Matter What the Type

The 'Helicopter Economics Investing Guide' is meant to help educate people on how to make profitable investing choices in the current economic environment. In addition to the term helicopter economics, we have also coined the term, helicopternomics, to describe the current monetary and fiscal policies of the U.S. government and to update the old-fashioned term wheelbarrow economics.

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While the major indices were flat yesterday a lot was going on below the surface in the market. Oil went on another incredible roller coaster ride, opening way down, getting close to even and then closing with smaller losses. It's back above the breakout point again in European trading this morning. A lot of small cap stocks, including some oil and gas drillers and producers, had major rallies yesterday however. In fact, the beaten down inexpensive under $5 stocks - the ones that almost every financial advisor tells you categorically to avoid are the stars of this rally. This is nothing new, its always the case in short-covering, technically based rallies.

Oil is repeating the behavior pattern at $50 that took place when it traded around $40. It went above $40 and was driven back below it over and over again. The oil "experts" were repeatedly quoted in the media that a price over $40 couldn't be justified. Oil would then go below $40 and would shortly thereafter bounce right back above it. It then shot up to $45, which the "experts" said was too high. It then promptly went to $50. Yesterday was the 4th time light sweet crude was driven below the key $50.50 breakout point. This morning in European trading it shot back above it. The market has continually shown that the oil "experts" the mainstream media quotes are wrong. Nothing succeeds like failure in financial media coverage however (much like in Washington, D.C.). The media seems to seek out "experts" who have never made a correct prediction in their entire careers.

The "experts" will also tell you not to buy stocks under $5 and stocks that have had huge price drops because they are unsafe. Better to stick with 'sure things' like Enron and those Bernie Madoff funds instead. When the market has has a major drop, buying low-priced, beaten down stocks are the key to making the most money in the rally that follows. Just make sure the company is financially viable - a current ratio around 2.0 and positive operating cash flow are the signs the company is likely to continue its operations. Low or no debt is even better, but not necessary. Running out of cash and failure to make debt payments is what drives companies into bankruptcy. On a fundamental basis, you can find a number of low-priced stocks that have very low price earnings ratios, price to book values well below one and even with price cash flow ratios below one (the price is below the amount of cash generated for the most recent year). There are also stocks with real dividends above 20%. These stocks are major bargains by any criteria. Oil and gas, coal (even in its bright, shiny form), and shipping are the richest source of these stocks. There are a few bargains in technology as well.

Yet is the mainstream media telling you to buy, buy, buy? Not at all. It is filling you with fear and telling you this is a suckers rally. Every rally is actually a suckers rally however. In a bull market, the suckers are the people who buy and then hold. In a bear market, its the people who sit on the sidelines and don't buy at the bottom or close to the bottom or even after the market is off the bottom because the financial media is warning them about losing money. If you are doing this, just remember every major financial publication had nice things to say about Enron. How much money do you think you'll make if you follow the investment advice of those people?

NEXT: The Deflation Boogieman, Oil and Intel

Daryl Montgomery
Organizer,New York Investing meetup
http://investing.meetup.com/21

This posting is editorial opinion. Like all other postings for this blog, there is no intention to endorse the purchase or sale of any security.





Monday, April 13, 2009

It's Not the News, It's How the Market Reacts to the News

The 'Helicopter Economics Investing Guide' is meant to help educate people on how to make profitable investing choices in the current economic environment. In addition to the term helicopter economics, we have also coined the term, helicopternomics, to describe the current monetary and fiscal policies of the U.S. government and to update the old-fashioned term wheelbarrow economics.

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At the moment, world stock markets are acting more like bull markets than bear markets. In a bear market all news is bad and in a bull market all news is good. There is still plenty of really bad news out there about the economy and corporate earnings - and the media is flooding the airwaves and using a lot of ink on stories of bad news, more bad news and still more bad news. The average investor will act like a deer caught in the headlights frozen in inaction. Meanwhile stock prices keep going up and up because professional traders are buying. What the market does is the only thing you should pay attention to. If any of the reporters writing these stories actually knew anything about making money in the stock market, they would be successful traders making a hundred times more money than they do as reporters.

Last week Alcoa (AA) offered a perfect example of the bull market reaction to news. Earnings were not just bad as everyone thought they would be, but were even worse than expected by 3 to 5 cents (depending on which analyst survey you looked at). The stock actually opened up the next morning and then settled down for a small loss on the day. I had sold out my position (purchased off the bottom) in anticipation the earnings would be worse than expected. However, since the market obviously didn't care about that, I bought the stock right back the next day (at the market, I don't take the risk of not getting a good bargain by setting limit orders). Alcoa then had a big rally on Thursday. When a stock goes up like this on bad news, it indicates all the bad news has already been priced in. When that happens the price can only go up. You didn't read about that in the mainstream press however. All you saw was negative coverage of how poor the aluminum business was last quarter even though the market couldn't care less what happened last quarter.

As we detailed in last weeks meeting, the press has been not just irrelevant when it comes to the coverage of the oil market, but out and out misleading about the actual state of affairs. The oil bears have managed to drive the price of light sweet crude below the 50.50 breakout point 3 times so far. I have bought more oil related stocks at each point (Recently I started purchasing drillers which are usually the last to rally). Nymex oil closed the trading week at $52.24 on Thursday. The media is doing its best again today to highlight the negative view on oil. The IEA, International Energy Agency, is now predicting that global oil demand will fall 2.4 million barrels a day this year. Media stories didn't mention any statements from the agency concerning predictions on supply (which is falling rapidly). Meanwhile Iran's oil minister, a source that would not have any credibility with U.S. readers, released a statement that the price of oil should go to $75 to $80 a barrel and the media highlighted this. In response, renowned oil "expert" Victor Shum, a source that should have no credibility with U.S. readers, said, "nobody, even in OPEC, expects the price [of oil] to get to $75 this year". Obviously, Mr Shum doesn't follow the New York Investing meetup. If he did, he might improve the accuracy of his forecasts.

People don't make money in the stock market because they focus on the irrelevant - and the mainstream media is more than willing to help you do this. Pay attention to what the market is actually doing if you goal is to make money investing. Then you need to take action. If a consumer goes shopping and sees an incredible bargain at 90% off, they don't usually say I'll come back next week to see if its 95% off or I'll come back and get it in a couple of hours when I'm done with my shopping (lots of luck that it will still be there). People do this with stocks all the time though and this is one of the major reasons the average person has trouble making money investing.

NEXT: Rallies Make You Rich, No Matter What the Type

Daryl Montgomery
Organizer,New York Investing meetup
http://investing.meetup.com/21

This posting is editorial opinion. Like all other postings for this blog, there is no intention to endorse the purchase or sale of any security.





Thursday, April 9, 2009

Fed Minutes Take Oil on Roller Coaster Ride

The 'Helicopter Economics Investing Guide' is meant to help educate people on how to make profitable investing choices in the current economic environment. In addition to the term helicopter economics, we have also coined the term, helicopternomics, to describe the current monetary and fiscal policies of the U.S. government and to update the old-fashioned term wheelbarrow economics.

Our Video Related to this Blog:

It would be easy to get whiplash watching the oil market these days. The news was grim early in the morning yesterday with blaring headlines of oil falling below $48 a barrel in anticipation of a bad news oil storage report at 10:30AM. Storage however turned out to be below expectations and oil started rallying immediately. NYMEX oil got to over $51 a barrel mid-day, rising above the key breakout point around $50.50. Then late in the afternoon the minutes from the last Fed meeting were released and even though they should be taken about as seriously as a Mel Brooks movie, oil nosedived on the Fed's gloomy outlook for the economy. In the end oil was up 23 cents, closing at 49.38, though today in mid-session European trading it's above $51 again.

The price of oil was weak early Wednesday because of a report Tuesday evening from industry group, the American Petroleum Institute, that indicated there was 6.9-million-barrel build in storage.This report is not terribly reliable because it is not comprehensive and submitting data is voluntary. The government's EIA report that came out the next morning, painted a very different picture of the oil market. Oil in storage rose 1.7 million barrels, much less than the 2.3 million barrels that analysts had predicted. Distillates, which include heating oil and diesel, fell by 3.4 million barrels versus expectations of a drop of only 600,000. Gasoline demand was reported as being 0.2% below a year ago (if demand was 100 a year ago, it is now 99.8). While the drop in U.S. gasoline demand is something you would need a magnifying glass to see, the mainstream media has continually reported it as collapsing and falling off a cliff or words to that effect.

Despite the bullish tone of the storage report, oil (and most of the rest of market) sold off big time when the meetings from the Fed's March meeting were released in the late afternoon. The Fed, which didn't see the Credit Crisis coming, miscalculated it at every twist and turn, and didn't foresee the recession, is now gloomy for the next two years going forward. Sure they were wrong over and over and over again, but now they know what's going on. The minutes also indicate the Fed is worried about deflation even though it is stated in the same minutes that they are printing new money like no tomorrow. Worrying about deflation under such circumstances is like worrying about being attacked by Big Foot while walking through Central Park. The probability is somewhat less than zero.

While gasoline demand in the U.S. is flat, it should be rising in China. For the last three months cars sales in China have exceeded car sales in the U.S. Year over year, car sales are down 37% in the U.S., but up 5% in China. China is on its way to becoming the number one auto market and the number one energy user. Oil demand is shifting from North America to East Asia while the ability to produce oil is declining 6% a year by some estimates. There are even predictions out there of an oil price spike as early as later this year. While I don't necessary believe it will happen that soon, it will indeed happen as some point.

NEXT: It's Not the News, It's How the Market Reacts to the News

Daryl Montgomery
Organizer,New York Investing meetup
http://investing.meetup.com/21

This posting is editorial opinion. Like all other postings for this blog, there is no intention to endorse the purchase or sale of any security.





Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The News is Bad ... Time to Buy

The 'Helicopter Economics Investing Guide' is meant to help educate people on how to make profitable investing choices in the current economic environment. In addition to the term helicopter economics, we have also coined the term, helicopternomics, to describe the current monetary and fiscal policies of the U.S. government and to update the old-fashioned term wheelbarrow economics.

Our Video Related to this Blog:

In the New York Investing meetup last night, we had a talk on media manipulation of the news in the oil market. The news reported is almost completely negative and is contradicted by the facts. Under such circumstances, it's not surprising investors who rely on the news make bad investing decisions. The headlines today will likely turn out to be another great illustration of this point. When I turned on my computer this morning, there was an unrelenting barage of negative headlines. My initial reaction was that I had better buy quickly after the market opens to take advanatage of this.

What impression would these headlines make on you?

- "Stock Futures Fall on Earning Worries"
-" World Markets Track U.S. Lower Amid Earnings Fears"
-"Oil Falls below $48, Following Stocks Down"
-"Sharp Forecasts Bigger Loss Amid Global Slowdown"

The unrelenting picture of danger and risk painted by the media will keep the average investor far away from the market - and he or she will not make money as a result.

The news is also not actually as bad as the headlines indicate either, but you have already been put into a certain mindset before reading the article (assuming you do, many floor traders only see the headlines). For instance, how bad were the stock futures that were down on earning worries? A quote from the article: "Ahead of the market's open, Dow Jones industrial average futures fell 42, or 0.5 percent, to 7,720, ... Standard & Poor's 500 index futures fell 3.40, or 0.4 percent, to 810.60, while Nasdaq 100 index futures were unchanged at 1,280.75." A more accurate headline for this story might be: "Despite Earnings Worries Market Having Trouble Selling Off". Don't hold your breath in waiting for headlines that provide an accurate picture on what is going on though, it's not going to happen.

Alcoa supposedly set off these earnings worries the media is reporting today. It earnings were a few cents below expectations. Nevertheless, the stock is having trouble selling off in premarket trading. This is extremely bullish and is another piece of evidence that all the bad news has been priced into the stock. That's not the slant in media reports however. Today's stories are emphasizing how bad things were LAST quarter. The market doesn't care about this. It is interested in what is going to happen two or three quarters in the future. If the stock goes higher, the market is optimistic about the future - and its only the market's opinion you should care about if you want to make money.

NEXT: Fed Minutes Take Oil on Roller Coaster Ride

Daryl Montgomery
Organizer,New York Investing meetup
http://investing.meetup.com/21

This posting is editorial opinion. Like all other postings for this blog, there is no intention to endorse the purchase or sale of any security.





Tuesday, April 7, 2009

How to Handle Earnings Season

The 'Helicopter Economics Investing Guide' is meant to help educate people on how to make profitable investing choices in the current economic environment. In addition to the term helicopter economics, we have also coined the term, helicopternomics, to describe the current monetary and fiscal policies of the U.S. government and to update the old-fashioned term wheelbarrow economics.

Our Video Related to this Blog:

Earnings season officially begins today with Alcoa's earnings after the bell. While some company earnings are released every day, there is a huge bulge of announcements in the two weeks following the 7th of the month at the beginning of a quarter. Dow component Alcoa kicks off this period. While earnings are likely to be almost universally bad this doesn't mean that stock prices will go down. They may indeed go up.

Everything is relative on Wall Street. Any information that is known or suspected has already been incorporated in the price of a stock. Since the market overall fell from October 2007 to March 2009, a lot of bad news is reflected in current stock prices. So much so that anything short of a declaration of bankruptcy will be bullish for some stocks. The mainstream media will not emphasize this however and as it is doing today will write articles how earnings will be bad for last quarter. Since this is already known, your reaction should be that everyone already knows that so why are you wasting my time telling me about it. Only if earnings are worse than expected are they likely to be negative for stock prices (for more than a day or so).

If you are holding company stocks like Alcoa (AA), you have two choices. You can sell before the earnings announcement and buy back after or just hold through it. This decision isn't always clear cut. Having bought AA just off the bottom and having a nice profit it in in just a short time, I chose to sell it with the intention of buying it back. The market has had a sharp up move in the last 3 weeks and it vulnerable to a drop this week in general, so AA's earnings are coming out during a period of weakness. The market reacted quite negatively (at least for a short time) to Chalco's (the Chinese Aluminum company) earnings and negative description to the aluminum industry several days ago, so it is not unreasonable to assume a short negative reaction for Alcoa as well. Of course, Alcoa could surprise on the upside, it which case I would wait a few days for a pull back to buy it.

In general, I am still looking to buy beaten down stocks in a some commodity sectors (not copper since is has rallied since last fall, I also sold my FCX holding recently) and a technology stock here or there and will view a drop on earnings as an opportunity to get a good price. The market is filled with under priced bargains at the moment (some stocks are even selling for less than their yearly cash flow). You should look at anything that will do well in a high inflation environment and avoid the financial sector, where a low price these days usually indicates cheap goods as opposed to a bargain. It is important to know the difference.

NEXT: The News is Bad ... Time to Buy

Daryl Montgomery
Organizer,New York Investing meetup
http://investing.meetup.com/21

This posting is editorial opinion. Like all other postings for this blog, there is no intention to endorse the purchase or sale of any security.






Monday, April 6, 2009

Geithner Talks, Market Drops ... Again

The 'Helicopter Economics Investing Guide' is meant to help educate people on how to make profitable investing choices in the current economic environment. In addition to the term helicopter economics, we have also coined the term, helicopternomics, to describe the current monetary and fiscal policies of the U.S. government and to update the old-fashioned term wheelbarrow economics.

Our Video Related to this Blog:

Treasury Secretary Geithner appeared on Face the Nation on Sunday. Stocks in the U.S. are selling off this morning (even though there was a decent rally in Asia last night). Stock selling seems to be the most likely response whenever Geithner speaks and anyone long the market should worry whenever Geithner's mouth is about to open. The interview dealt with the administration's latest imbroglio, the attempt to force GM into bankruptcy and how well the various current bank bailouts are going. Geithner did state, "we want greater lending". He didn't come up with any reason why this might happen.

When Geithner was asked whether the government will force banks to sell their toxic assets to improve conditions for lending, he said that "banks have a large incentive to clean up their balance sheets." A news item released in Europe (please note that this news was not originally published in the U.S.) last Thursday certainly brings that into question. It was reported that a number of large banks including Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and JP Morgan Chase were considering buying toxic assets to be sold by rivals under the U.S. Treasury’s latest one trillion bailout plan. The purpose of this plan is of course to get toxic assets off the bank's books. Nothing in the law apparently said the banks couldn't participate in the this free money government give away. So of course, they want the goodies too. The result of this congressional oversight could be a huge amount of government spending that results in just moving the toxic assets around the banking system instead of getting them out of it. Geithner also made it very clear in the interview that Treasury's "obligation is to apply the laws passed by Congress".

As for GM, Geithner stated multiple times that "GM is going to be part of this country's future." He followed up with "We want to see a strong automotive industry emerge from this recession," , and added that the government must be sure that GM "can emerge strong enough without having to have government help on an ongoing basis." As to whether GM will have to file for bankruptcy protection, Geithner said "there's a range of options. They've made some progress on restructuring but they're not there yet." What was not stated in the interview is what would the costs be of GM going bankrupt versus it being bailed out.

Bailing out GM will probably be many, many times cheaper than letting it go bankrupt. But hey, when dealing with taxpayer money, why not consider the most expensive option possible. The much higher costs of not bailing out GM are a consequence of the government already having bailed out the banks and the need to increase those bailouts if GM fails. Although the auto companies have been badly managed for years, the idea that the U.S. government knows better about how the auto industry should be run is ridiculous. How they've handled the bank bailouts is a good indication of just how much the government knows about anything to do with business.

NEXT: How to Handle Earnings Season

Daryl Montgomery
Organizer,New York Investing meetup
http://investing.meetup.com/21

This posting is editorial opinion. Like all other postings for this blog, there is no intention to endorse the purchase or sale of any security.





Friday, April 3, 2009

U.S. Unemployment Rises to 15.6%

The 'Helicopter Economics Investing Guide' is meant to help educate people on how to make profitable investing choices in the current economic environment. In addition to the term helicopter economics, we have also coined the term, helicopternomics, to describe the current monetary and fiscal policies of the U.S. government and to update the old-fashioned term wheelbarrow economics.

Our Video Related to this Blog:

The Jobs Report was out this morning and it was pretty gloomy. While the headline number indicated that unemployment rose to 8.5%, a more accurate number is 15.6%. The second figure includes many (but not all) discouraged workers, those who have looked for work in the last year, but not during the last month, and part-time workers who wish to work full-time. It is the 15.6% figure that you should compare to the approximately 25% unemployment rate at the bottom of the Depression in the 1930s.

The initial read for March was a loss of 663,000 jobs (close to economists predictions of 654,000). There will be two revisions for this number in May and June and expect both of them to be down, although the worse and worst figures will get no press and the BLS is well aware of that. January's number, originally reported as a loss of 598,000 jobs, had its second revision down today and the number is now a loss of 741,000. So far, there has been a loss of 3.7 million jobs in the U.S. economy in just the last six months. Expect this number to be even lower after all the revisions have been done.

Last month every sector except health care had job losses. In previous Jobs Reports since the Credit Crisis began, government and education have supposedly added jobs. Manufacturing continues to be decimated with a loss of 126,000 jobs in March. The Obama goal of driving GM into bankruptcy should help make these numbers even worse in the future. Professional and Business Services, which held up much longer than Manufacturing, had a loss of 133,000 jobs last month. Retail lost 48,000 jobs (and is very vulnerable to much greater losses). Despite all the bailout money, Financial Services still lost 43,000 jobs. Construction lost 161,000 jobs and with a commercial real estate collapse just beginning unemployment there could rise much higher. Not only were a lot of jobs lost last month, but the average workweek fell to a record low as well.

The stock market is selling off slightly so far on the employment news, which is not surprising considering the big rally in the last two days. The positive reaction of stock markets globally at the beginning of the quarter should help carry the current rally for another month or two, although after a big surge, sideways trading or selling for awhile is inevitable. Whether the rally can survive into the third quarter is problematical. For the moment, investors should keep in mind the old stock market adage from the 1800s - 'sell in May and go away'.

NEXT: Geither Talks, Market Drops .... Again

Daryl Montgomery
Organizer,New York Investing meetup
http://investing.meetup.com/21

This posting is editorial opinion. Like all other postings for this blog, there is no intention to endorse the purchase or sale of any security.





Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Bull Heard Around the World

The 'Helicopter Economics Investing Guide' is meant to help educate people on how to make profitable investing choices in the current economic environment. In addition to the term helicopter economics, we have also coined the term, helicopternomics, to describe the current monetary and fiscal policies of the U.S. government and to update the old-fashioned term wheelbarrow economics.

Our Video Related to this Blog:

Almost every market throughout the world rallied on April 1st. In the morning (New York time) things didn't look promising. While most Asian markets had closed up nicely, all European bourses were down well into their trading day. Stocks in New York then gapped down sharply. Within a relatively short time, both New York and Europe reversed and then closed with good numbers. Today has been even more bullish. In Asia, the Hang Seng rose over 1000 points, closing up over 7%. The Nikkei went up over 4%. The Dax in Germany closed up more than 6%.

The European rally was helped by the ECB cutting interest rates by 25 basis points to 1.25%. They are also considering buying up toxic assets which the Fed in the U.S. has been doing for sometime now. At the G20 meeting in London, France and Germany pursued stronger financial regulation aimed at tax havens, hedge funds and rating agencies. European leaders said they had no need for stimulus plans because their more generous welfare systems kick in automatically with benefits for more people as the economy deteriorates. Obama kept emphasizing that 'we are all in this together'.

Meanwhile in the U.S., the financial accounting standards board FASB gave companies more leeway when valuing assets and reporting losses, providing a potential boost to battered banks' balance sheets. The mark to market system, will now be replaced with a mark to fantasy system. FASB made its move because of pressure from Capitol Hill. Our elected representatives are demanding rules that help companies mislead investors. In case you had any doubt whose side they are on, it should be pretty obvious with this action. If this was actually something that worked, Enron would managed to have avoided imploding and still be in business because it lied about its financial numbers. The banks may be able to carry on however since they have an apparently unlimited supply of freshly minted federal money available for continually bailing them out. Of course, like every other free lunch program the Feds have come up with, the costs for this one will be heavy indeed.

Money has flowed into stocks globally in the last two days and this indicates the big money is supporting the current rally - at least for awhile. The media has been filled with reports in the last week about how the rally was going to end any moment and investors had better get out. When it comes to deciding whether or not to listen to some know nothing windbag media pundit or the market, always chose the market. There is still a lot of danger in the financial system however with a lot more blow ups awaiting us. Enjoy the party while it lasts, but don't stay too long. The U.S. Employment Report tomorrow may trim the sails of this rally temporarily.

NEXT: U.S. Unemployment Rises to 15.6%

Daryl Montgomery
Organizer,New York Investing meetup
http://investing.meetup.com/21

This posting is editorial opinion. Like all other postings for this blog, there is no intention to endorse the purchase or sale of any security.






Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Surgery Done by a Bull in the China Shop

The 'Helicopter Economics Investing Guide' is meant to help educate people on how to make profitable investing choices in the current economic environment. In addition to the term helicopter economics, we have also coined the term, helicopternomics, to describe the current monetary and fiscal policies of the U.S. government and to update the old-fashioned term wheelbarrow economics.

Our Video Related to this Blog:

Today is the beginning of the spring quarter and the new fiscal year in Japan. Last night, most of Asia rallied and the Nikkei was up smartly (the Nikkei never hit a new low in the market sell off this spring by the way). A bailout plan in Taiwan for semiconductor manufacturers was bullish for tech stocks throughout the region. A Chinese manufacturing report was dismal, although off the low established last November (when the prices of many commodities also bottomed). European bourses are down this morning and the U.S. market indices gapped down after gapping up yesterday. The market is worried about the G20 Meeting tomorrow and the Jobs Report on Friday. The U.S. government possibly forcing GM into bankruptcy has also reared its ugly head again as well.

The government's current handling of GM is incredibly destructive economically. News has been leaked that Obama thinks a 'surgical bankruptcy' is the best option. If so, that surgery is being conducted by a bull in a China shop. A recapitulation of what is going on:

1. The U.S. Economy has been losing its manufacturing base for the last 30 years and has moved increasingly to a FIRE (Finance, Insurance, Real Estate) economy and this has led to the current implosion of our financial system.
2. Instead of trying to revive manufacturing, the government is trying to drive a top manufacturer into bankruptcy - and somehow this is going to improve things.
3. Sales for automakers are down as much as 50% year over year because of the economy. The U.S. government then tells reluctant car purchasers that we are trying to drive GM out of business and make them worry that if they buy a GM car they will ever be able to get it fixed (this may not be realistic, but it is something that will give the consumer pause and hurt GM sales even more).
4. No one knows how many credit default swaps there are on GM bonds, but the number is probably substantial. A bankruptcy would put them in the money and require that they be paid off. Most of them would have been sold by insurance companies and brokers that are already getting government bailouts and this will require more bailout money (probably many times what it would cost to bailout GM) to make up for the losses.
5. The U.S government just spent $5 billion bailing out auto part suppliers and is undermining that bailout if it forces GM into bankruptcy.
6. There are a large number of current and former employees of the auto industry, its suppliers, its shippers, etc that will be negatively affected by this action.
7. The GM announcement stopped a nascent stock market recovery in its tracks, wiping out billions more from retirement portfolios. The Dow was up over 20% (technically a new bull market) and the government apparently couldn't wait to drive it right back into bear market territory. Treasury Secretary Geithner already caused a major market sell off previously with his handling of Citigroup. If the Obama administration's goal is to keep stock prices down, they are achieving outstanding success.

While I am not a fan of bailouts, I am even more opposed to incompetent business practices combined with unlimited government stupidity. As we have said in this blog before you can bailout no one or you can bail out everyone, but doing some bailouts and not others produces the worst results. What the Obama administration is doing with GM makes no sense on any level - and it does not bode well for the handling of economic matters going forward.

NEXT: The Bull Heard Around the World

Daryl Montgomery
Organizer,New York Investing meetup
http://investing.meetup.com/21

This posting is editorial opinion. Like all other postings for this blog, there is no intention to endorse the purchase or sale of any security.