They Run The Bulls in Pamplona!

Equities start the day higher as they run the Bulls in Pamplona! If I was a better writer I would look back in history and see how many times we closed in the green this week but that requires about 10 minutes of research and I can’t be bothered. What’s up everyone….what did I miss? A sideways market mired in a weak sauce trade war, rife with overvalued stocks late in the cycle? Check. A flattening yield curve, tariffs, political wrangling over a random lawyer from Yale, plastic straws, and football coming home to England? Check. Sounds like we got ourselves an exciting summer. So hey…are you worried about any of that? Yes? Then welcome to the wonderful world of investing where worrying happens 95% of the time (the other 5% is when you should really fret). I’ve seen this insane market both rise and fall on Tariff tweets. I’ve seen it fret over China selling its Treasuries, Trump insulting our allies, and Elon Musk putting up a tent to make 5k cars. That's JUST HOW IT WORKS, there is no steady state, this train will never pull into a station and make you feel comfortable about owning stocks. Thankfully earnings are upon us so we are about to get a fresh look at Corporate America.  Our economy continues to suggest positive but modest growth which is consistent with single digit top line growth from S&P companies. Is a “Trade War” problematic?  Of course it is, in fact you could argue that the biggest threat to the market comes from stupidity of policy (is that a term?  It should be). I’ve been in the camp that the market will resolve higher, not lower, and I remain in that camp even with all the noise swirling around us. There’s juice left in this orange, don’t throw it out yet!

After the open we banged our heads on 2800 which, for now, remains the most important level in stock market history. If we can manage to break that and hold a retest, one could argue that we’ve finally crossed that bridge… over… trouuubbled water….I WILL EASE YOUR MIND (you’ll sing it all day).  No economic data to speak of, Trump was on a plane to Europe so no tweets to speak of, may as well do a breakdown of winners and losers. Dr. Pepper Snapple (ticker used to be DPS) completed their merger with Keurig and jumped 11%! Apparently they are now called Keurig Dr Pepper (new ticker symbol KDP) instead of Dr Pepper Snapple so sorry Snapple lovers, no one cares about you anymore. Actually can we just rename the company please? Call it Fizzy Caffeine, or Weaksauce coffee, or 23 flavors but really tastes like cherries mixed with prune juice. COST hit another new all-time high because AMZN isn’t selling 32 lbs of Nutmeg and Kirkland branded wipes. Other winners PEP, WYNN, SO, MU, and PG. Losers were HTZ, CERN, BIIB, CMG, and TPX. Why is there always a mattress store across from a mattress store? In fact why are there so many mattress stores, I mean I’ve bought one in the past 10 years. Hey Bezos, head on over to mattress town if you’re looking to disrupt another slow lumbering consumer segment. By lunch we were still solidly south of the 2,800 Maginot line going nowhere fast.

The rest of the day brought nothing special as we closed at 2,793, up 0.3%. So close…we are so close to greatness we just need that one push which hopefully comes from bank earnings on Friday. I wanted to end on an interesting question posed on TWTR. The $AAPL app store is celebrating its 10th year of existence so someone wondered “what is the app that most changed your life the most in the past decade”. I thought about it for a while, looking for something profound to say but I think the answer is quite simple. It’s either iMessage or Google Maps. We have the ability to speak to anyone in the world instantly without dialing a phone and hoping it connects. We can do this from anywhere including 30k feet above sea level and get instantaneous responses (well except for my wife who literally never answers). That app is a game changer for human global communication. We also have the ability to go anywhere on the planet and never get lost. Do you know how many times I’ve pulled out my phone to find a client office or wander in a place I’ve never been without having to worry about it? Too many to count. Those two apps truly made the world a better place. 

Final Score:  Dow +58bps, S&P500 +35bps, Nasdq +4bps, Rusk -53bps

News Highlights:

We are going to end with people being awesome because I desperately need some inspiration in my life right now.

Have a good night.  

74th Anniversary of D-Day

Equities start the day higher on the 74th anniversary of D-Day. Before I walked the halls of the University of Chicago to learn about numbers I spent four undergraduate years studying history (remember when parents only had to pay for 4?). For some reason I’ve always been fascinated with the past and no period of time intrigued me more than World War 2. Every June not only do I re-read Stephen Ambrose’s wonderful D-Day book but I read my original copy of the letter Eisenhower sent to the troops before they embarked to my children so they remember what happened on that day (I treasure that thing so much, I bought it at an antiquity store in Maine). The stakes were so impossibly high for our entire planet that no amount of exaggeration can possibly do it justice. I submit to you that June 6, 1944 was not only the most important day of the 20th century but it was one of the most important days in human history. The first waves to land at Omaha beach were from the Able and Baker companies of the 116th regiment, 29th infantry division and they were filled with young Americans sent to destroy a global menace. Most of them were just boys, barely older than my son, and they were FAR from home. Within minutes of landing in the Dog Green sector Able Company lost almost every single member including 19 men from a small town in rural Virginia. Some died on the water, some died on the beach, but the unit was effectively annihilated. If I could travel back to the past for even one minute I would head to that beach and I would kneel next to one of those men dying in the sand, I would cradle him in my arms and whisper in his ear “I know you are scared and want to go home but know this: you saved the world. You made it safe for countless generations including mine.  My children’s names are William and Katherine and you made their future possible.  In the next few hours soldiers from Allied nations will take these beaches and kill those who felled you, then they will march across Europe and wipe this blight from the history books. For as long as mankind walks the Earth it will be grateful to you and those who died fighting for its freedom. Rest now, be at peace.”

After the open we did our absolute best to continue this mini run we are on. The S&P, Nasdaq, and Russell2k have all been up 3 days in a row so we did our best to defend that. Zero economic data to speak of so let’s talk about dem stocks. $UAA is on a gigantic tear! The company formerly left for dead in the Fall of 2017 is up 65% YTD!! Not only that, it has a gap on the chart which requires another 15% move to fill! Steph Curry’s for everyone! TSLA gained 9% which made it stormy in Shortsville, EFX ripped 6% so I guess people have moved on from the whole “leak all our info onto the internet” thing, and banks did well because yields finally perked up. Losers…..let’s see…losers were FSLR and SPWR because solar stocks like to struggle from time to time (-4.5%), BF/B fell 6% because investors are bracing for tariffs on Jack Daniels. How stupid is that? Sigh. I’d be so mad if I lived in Lynchburg. Finally we have FAST which dropped 4% on slowing sales growth. By lunch we were trading on the highs and I was watching one of my favorite hotels in the world burn down. The poor Mandarin Oriental in Knightsbridge….sigh. By the way, I’m in London next week so we’re doing this recap from the road British style! Warm beer and mediocre weather for days!! (I actually love London, it’s the second best city in the world to Sydney, which is probably tied with Melbourne for my favorite. So maybe it’s the 3rd best. I’m not sure how the math works out here but we should move on)

The afternoon saw fresh highs as we put the rockiness of Feb-May further into the rear view mirror! Look what happens when we stop fretting over tweets and VIX ETFs and elections, we get that sweet sweet upside driven by 3.8% unemployment, 57 ISMs, 128 consumer confidence, 62.7 Chicago PMIs, near 700k New Home Sales, and double digit EPS growth for quarters to come. Markets correct thru time or price, we needed to reboot that late 2017 early 2018 rocket ship and it looks like we just did thru a bit of both. I bet we hit 2,800 this week and make a new all-time high by the end of June at the latest. One final snippet about D-Day: the logistics of it were so massive it was akin to moving every man, woman, and child in the cities of Racine, Kenosha, and Green Bay WI, WITH THEIR CARS, across Lake Michigan in one night. How crazy is that? I can barely pack my car in one night to drive to Chicago. The world will never see anything like that ever again. 

Final Score:  Dow +139bps, S&P500 +85bps, Nasdaq +67bps, Rus2k +68bps

I have two links to end on tonight which I think are appropriate.

The first one is the wonderful Hymn to the Fallen written by John Williams which was made for Saving Private Ryan.

The second is an inspirational video that those who died on D-Day would want us to watch.  5 mins long, don’t miss it.

Have a good night 

Another Glorious Summer Week!

Equities start the day higher on another glorious summer week! I love June, the weather isn’t too hot, the drinks can’t be too cold, and kids are finally starting their summer breaks. Allow me to relay a quick story from the weekend hence. My daughter is a precocious 10 years old and as a budding young tween she does her best to drive me absolutely insane. Her bedroom always looks like the clothes return counter at any major department store: socks here, shirts there, shorts hanging off a dresser. I stood at the top of the stairs and yelled at her to “come up and clean or else you get no iPad for a week” (this is like the nuclear option for a tween). Of course she ignored me because why wouldn’t she but as I stood there contemplating how to throw all her stuff out the window I realized I found my market metaphor. Last week the media screamed and yelled about Italian Elections, Trade Wars, and Tariffs yet the market ignored it. I actually submit to you that the selloff surrounding Italian debt / politics was the dumbest thing since the Ebola mania of 2014. Italian politics has been messy since the Renaissance so if that was your big catalyst you need to read more books. Look, I’ve been on record saying that all this sideways grinding would resolve itself higher and I still maintain that view. We had a solid jobs report last week and all the other economic indicators like ISM Manuf, Chicago PMI, Housing Starts, etc all point to the same story we’ve been reading for years:  slow steady growth where the stock market works. Remember, investing isn’t about you vs the stock market it’s about you vs YOURSELF. Don’t let random noise knock you off your path and if your daughter doesn’t clean up her room in a timely manner just change the wifi password. Boom!!

After the open we saw plenty of new all-time highs from such fan favorites as AAPL, AMZN, NFLX, MSFT, V, and MA. Large cap tech continues to lead the way and anyone doubting that has had their PnL summarily executed. How about V and MA though, those two stocks blow my mind. They, along with companies like AMZN, are in my “you use this every single day, why don’t you own it” portfolio (better known as my “K.I.S.S fund”. I mean look at these charts, secular growth at its finest! “Hey hon, we buy everything from museli to pencils on AMZN all while using our MasterCard debit card, maybe we should buy the stock?”   “Nah, let’s just speculate on some biotech trying to cure gout in pigs, that’s our ticket to riches!”.   Sigh.  There wasn’t much news, other than Trump saying he can pardon himself, so the tape coasted on momentum gained last week. Winners were SO MANY RETAIL STOCKS.  Let’s hear it for Komp and Altschwager!!! UAA, TGT, ULTA, KSS, M, LB, hit up my guys to talk about it.  Losers were NKTR, BHGE, NFX, WYNN, and a whole slew of energy names as Crude fell back under $65. Two biggest pain trades of the past month: Short UST and Long Oil  (TBT And USO as a proxy for those). Sucked everyone in at the top and SMACKED them in the face. By lunch I was bummed about the future of tech as one of $AAPL’s big announcements at their WWDC conference was “MeMojis” Yep, smartest people in the world working in one of the most vibrant communities on the planet in a company worth nearly $1T and Me-freaking-mojis pop out. Great, now all the people I wanna block will send me talking pictures of their face (they did announce group Facetime video calls so that might be cool).

The rest of the day brought nothing fresh and exciting but we did see fresh all time closes in both the Ru2k and the Nasdaq composite. That’s two of the 3 major indices (no one is watching the Dow, stop it) that have now put the misery of February and March behind them. Will the S&P follow suit?   It’s hard to imagine a world where both of those make new highs and $SPX doesn’t but crazier things have happened. If you managed to keep your cool among all the things that have happened in the past few months then I tip my cap to you.  Behavior is the #1 thing you can work on to be a better investor and as people worried about VIX ETFs and Italian 2 years I hope you were taking long walks listening to Yacht Rock on Sirius XM. Who doesn’t love 70s and 80s soft rock!!! There’s a warm wind blowing the stars around….and I’d really love to see you tonight….(yea I went there) 

Final Score:  Dow +72bps, S&P500 +45bps, Nasdaq +69bps, Rus2k +34bps

Volume was perfectly average. News Highlights:

Tonight we’ll end with a child’s slide in Japan. I’d love to see this thing during recess!!

Have a good night


Can You Blame People For Selling A Bit?

Equities start the day lower for a whole host of reasons so let’s poke fun at them shall we? SPX has been up for 4 days in a row and the DJIA has been higher for 8 sessions in a row so can you blame people for selling a bit? I mean maybe they have Lamborghini payments or Amex payments after they went on a trip to the Portland wine country with friends who all like to drink nice wine from 9am to Midnight and eat dinners where they serve foam and goat eggs. Wait, where was I going with this? Yields are still grinding higher and the 10yr hit its highest level since 2011. Should you be worried about that? I’ll say yes, but not “keep you up at night” worried. As all good finance geeks know, in the present value calculation interest rates are in the denominator so it’s not like we want them to rip higher. HD reported its first top line miss in a while and blamed “weather”. Now I’m as cynical as the rest, when some random retailer that no one shops at anymore says “it rained too much so we whiffed” I just shake my head and mock them on TWTR. But as @jeffmacke pointed out, we legit had one of the worst April’s on record, I shoveled 8” of heavy wet snow after Easter for crying out loud. I’m gonna go ahead and say no one was buying begonias or potting soil in April. Maybe a few people in San Diego but I haven’t dug that far into the report. Look, let’s end on a positive note. The Rus2k is dangerously close to printing a new all-time high and breadth continues to be in the bulls favor. Grind higher, pause, take a breath, start again. We’d all be happy with that kind of price action in May.

After the open, we spent most of the day struggling with rising 10yr yields. Housing stocks? Shewacked. REITS? Smizacked. Utilities? Slamacked. 3.07% by lunch had the entire market like “where do I go from here?” But it wasn’t a wholesale disaster; while rate sensitive stuff acted poorly other sectors of the market actually did fine. The Russell 2000 flirted with green most of the session while Financials led the way for the obvious reason. HD only fell 1.6% so my faith in the investing public going beyond headlines has been reaffirmed, Tesla lost 2.6% after saying they were shutting down Model 3 production for a few days (man the Bears are gonna eat this up) and other than every single homebuilder losers were CELG, TAP, NVDA, and A which fell the most in 13 years. #ThingsCEOsNeverWannaHear. Ok what else moved? UAA actually fought with MAT for the top spot in the S&P and a lot of smart technicians I follow are looking at this one closely. Turnaround stories can take a long time to play out but risk reward (based on the chart) has people perked up (my guy Altschwager rates outperform). By lunch we sat on 2,708 down 78bps. You know what stock hit an all-time high today? Best Buy. $BBY. I swear 3-4 years ago the place was a ghost town filled with CDs, DVDs, and 14 vacuums. I would’ve shorted it thinking “AMZN killed this place” and lost all my money. Kudos to the mgmt team for their strategic planning and execution.

The afternoon saw 10yr yields hit 3.08% so I guess the Fed is now rewarding savers!!! Yay!! We can finally put that stupid criticism to rest. Today was awful for anyone running a risk parity fund but come on, how many people are actually doing that and reading this recap? 0 or 0? We closed at 2,709 down 77 bps as we grapple with ever higher rates. Look, none of us are re-fi’ing again for a long time, get used to the fact that rates have bottomed and the Fed no longer cares what we think. Can stocks do well in rising rate regimes? @econompic shows we can so let’s stop doing this knee jerk reaction thing. Thanks. 

Final Score:  Dow -78bps, S&P500 -68bps, Nasdaq -81bps, Rus2k flat (this is good)   

News Highlights:

We’re going to end tonight on some of the best sleight of hand I’ve ever seen.

Have a good night

The Most Critical Day In Market History Is Upon Us

Equities start the day higher as the most critical day in market history is upon us!! Wait, is that really true?  Not really but I needed a hook to keep you reading, sorry. We are at the top of this “triangle” that everyone’s been talking about for a month so if you believe stocks penetrating an imaginary line on a chart is important you’ve come to the right place!! But what’s the narrative around this breakout? Has anything meaningfully changed with all those headwinds I’ve been prattling on about? Not really, they are all still with us, but right now they’ve taken a back seat because that’s just how markets work. Things matter until they don’t. There isn’t a person on the planet that knows exactly why we are breaking out of this sideways malaise and that’s ok (@ryandetrick even labeled it the “Charlie Brown shirt bottom”.  If you’re always on the hunt for clarity you’re going to be sadly disappointed because frustration and angst is the price we pay to invest in stocks. The notion that earnings were “as good as it gets” was a popular theme for about a week, now no one mentions it anymore. What’s the new theme going to be?  Stick around and we’ll create one ourselves. When I write this blog I do it for “edutainment”. I want you to come here and learn a thing or two about markets all while laughing at my final link and awful grammar. Josh Brown says you are what you read:  “A delicate balance is required – pay some attention but not too much. Read the news but don’t get carried away in thinking that a reaction to the news is necessary”. That’s right, I 100% agree. Come here, read a bit about the market but don’t feel like you need to rush out and make a trade. Most of the time we are just swinging around like a kid on a playground blissfully enjoying our lives so don’t make this more complicated than it is. Understanding this game is a lifelong pursuit and hopefully you spend 3 to 4 minutes of your day with me so we can do it together.

After the open Maverick chased Jester above the hard deck as the S&P went ballistic.  Up 1% to 2,723 in pretty much a straight line. What about other indices though? We talk about the S&P way too much so let’s look at the NASDAQ and the RUSSELL2000. Both back near all-time highs but the move in Small Caps is particularly juicy.  To have them lead the way higher would be fantastic from an overall breadth / momentum point of view because we won’t have to hear the bears say “it’s only AAPL and AMZN”  Ok, let’s switch gears here for a second and talk about TWTR.  The President of the United States announced the location of his NK summit on Twitter. TWITTER. A potentially world changing historic event between two nations and it wasn’t announced at a press conference or on a major news website. TWITTER. Like if we find a way to lasting peace with NK are they going to have to print out that Tweet and put it into the Smithsonian? Imagine if FDR announced the Pearl Harbor attack on Snapchat (actually ignore that, only millennials would’ve found out). What an amazing time to be alive, if you truly want to sit front row to breaking news you gotta be on TWTR and you have to follow @bullandbaird (so so shameless). Winners CTL, EVHC, DISCA, CAH, and Emrging Mkts (EEM). Losers FTI, M, COTY, BKNG, and LB. Have you looked at LB lately? Did Victoria Secret start selling dot matrix printers instead of bras? The fall from grace (down 68% from its high) has been absolutely breathtaking (Baird rates outperform). 

We saw a small profit taking move late in the afternoon but eventually bounced back to close near the highs, 2,722, up 0.9%. The VIX has been crushed back to 13 and the question now is “has the correction run its course?” Sentiment has been reigned in, valuations have dipped, and the euphoric move on January seems a lifetime ago. What I’d really like to see is a return to the boring grind of 2017, an air of normalcy where FB isn’t shooting itself in the foot, Trump isn’t slamming one of our greatest companies, and the CFO of CAT isn’t being misunderstood.  If that happens then yea, I think the correction is over and we can start to push back towards the high in a “non-spikey” way (January was ridiculous). Today is Baird’s Annual Meeting so I’m going to leave this here desk and head over to a giant arena where I’ll spend a few hours talking with the best people on the planet.   I’ll tell you what, working for a small financial services firm that has a laser focus on clients and a management team committed to REAL VALUES is refreshing in this day and age. I hope they don’t lay me off because of MIFID, I have such big plans for this place.  

Final Score:  Dow +80bps, S&P500 +94bps, Nasdaq +89bps, Rus2k +48bps

News Highlights:

Gotta jet so watch people hurt themselves.   We’ll switch back to inspirational videos next week.

Have a good night