No Man's Land
Equities start the day higher as we continue to explore no man’s land. We’re just kinda stuck in an area between “things are getting a lot better” and “things are rapidly deteriorating”. Given the lack of fresh news we’re supernaturally focused on this “Trade War” thing (is supernaturally the right word there? Probably not. Whatever, I like it and I don’t have an editor). The problem with being this myopic is that we will consistently overreact to every single perceived change in tone. Huawei, a company that 99% of American’s don’t even know exists, has suddenly become the thermometer for how things are going. Are they banned from the United States? Sell stocks. Is the ban temporarily lifted? Buy stocks. What a joke. I said it in my last blog but economic tension between China and the US is probably the new normal (unless a market event changes that). That being said, can we briefly circle back on another topic? Earnings for Q1 actually beat, in fact they grew nearly 2%, and LPL points out that full year estimates are actually back on the rise. Now could tariffs change their course? Absolutely, and it’ll be imperative to read conference calls in Q2 to see what companies are doing to prepare for them. But you know what? Even in this time of heightened trade tensions there are companies out there executing on their business plans to the best of their abilities. All of the following are within 2% of a new 52wk high: CMG, LULU, V, PYPL, MCD, COST, and PEP. I could keep going but what I’m trying to say is this: doom and gloom about China / US relations isn’t going anywhere anytime soon but neither is the insatiable desire by U.S companies to succeed regardless of the macro environment.
We spent most of the morning trading higher because, like I’ve said in the past, markets trade on “better or worse” in the short run and the Huawei news was accepted as being slightly positive (though this story strikes me as being slightly negative so *shrug*). I actually feel bad for my business journalist friends right now. When the market is down they have to write “stocks are concerned about an escalation in the Trade War” yet when the market is up they write “stocks gained as fears of a worsening Trade War eased” and often times those two headlines are on BACK TO BACK days. Brutal. Maybe we should all stop obsessing over day to day headlines? Is that too much to ask? Hey, I have a question for you, has there ever been a single person who heard the sound of their own voice and said “oh yea, I love how I sound.” No right? Why do we all hate our voice so much? This really bothers me as I debate launching a podcast for Baird. Anyway, by lunch we trading up around 0.8% led by Materials, Tech, and Energy.
We saw a small selloff late in the session and a close at 2,864 +0.85%. So I asked my esteemed colleague Willie Delwiche what he’s looking at right now for a couple of reasons. 1) He’s a heck of a technician and 2) He tends to look at different things from me so hey, teamwork. First and foremost he pointed out the Valueline Geometric index which basically represents the median stock price in universe of roughly 1,700 names. It’s at its lowest level since January so more damage is being done under the surface than we might think if we only looked at SPX. Second, he pointed out the weakness in Semiconductors which is a pretty good leading indicator. Finally, he noted that breadth has really lagged in the S&P over the past few months and if that continues to deteriorate it might be troublesome for the bigger picture. Now he doesn’t strike me as outright bearish but one of the things I like about him is that he’s always on the lookout for things people might miss which could point to a broader weakening in the tape. I guess we’ll see how things evolve over the next few months but one thing’s for sure, trade tensions are not getting better so let’s see how the market adapts to that.
- What phase of investing are you in right now? As Josh notes, even the last phase can be really hard: “What ends up happening is that the person realizes they’ve gotten very good at saving and investing, but they’re not equipped emotionally to learn how to become good spenders. Believe it or not, this is one of the most significant challenges we run into with high net worth households we work with.”
- If you wanted to spend 10 minutes becoming a better investor / understanding how markets work you could do no better than reading every word of this article. Every word. How about this Q: “What’s the magic formula to investing?” A: “Diversification + Time + Luck”. So elegant in its simplicity.
- Look, I don’t do a lot of clothing recommendations because 1) I’m 45 and 2) I’m not exactly on the cutting edge of fashion but these might be the best work pants I’ve ever bought. Highly recommend (I imagine they are amazing for travel too). Shoutout to @jeffmacke for putting me into this trade
- This is crucial…CRUCIAL: The difference between good advice and effective advice. Good advice is everywhere. You don’t have to look very hard. People generally know what they have to do to improve their health, finances, or lifestyle. But knowledge alone is never enough to change behavior. Good advice tells you how to succeed at something while effective advice shows you how to succeed. Good advice is about tactics while effective advice helps you build systems.
- I say this every time I speak to our clients but STOP CHECKING YOUR STATEMENTS: If you’re checking performance of the stock market daily, chances are that you’ll see a loss about 50% of the time. If you check on it just once a year, that chance drops to about 25%. At seven years, the chance of seeing a loss drops to 1%.
- This has to be one of the most amazing things I’ve seen
- It’s like a Keurig…for soap. Seriously what the heck is this thing and who would buy it
- Eddie breaks it down like no other: “I want you to consider a hypothetical scenario. Let’s say you’re given two bits of information on a company from the future. First, you’re told that the company is about to release a product that will become a big hit. The technology is superior to what’s out there and the price is much cheaper. The public will love it. Secondly, the company operates in a country whose currency is about to appreciate against the US dollar. My question is, knowing just those two bits of information, is the stock a buy? (Bear in mind, this is just a thought exercise.)”
- Kids are now going to Youtube Summer Camp. “Wait, why am I suddenly talking like a YouTuber? Because today I’m going to tell you about YouTube summer camps for kids. No, not camps where kids watch YouTube all day. (What children watch on YouTube is another column entirely.) These are day camps where kids as young as 5 learn how to shoot videos, edit sound and create a personal brand to get them on their way to YouTube stardom. Anton here: you know what…. I don’t hate this. If it teaches kids to be creative and comfortable in their own skins then I’m all for it. Heck maybe it even doubles as a good way to teach public speaking?
- Mac and Masala. This could be legit
Tonight we’ll end with People being awesome! I love people, especially you because you invite me into your inbox and let me rant about markets / show you educational links and funny videos. I love you so much *SOBS*
Have a good night
Time For A Fresh Take
Equities start the day higher as we catch a little bounce from the “Sacking of Kings Landing” selloff. What an episode right? Had to be some of the best TV I’ve ever seen, just an emotional gut punch, and frankly a very appropriate lead in to a massacre in the market the very next day. So look, I needed a few days to let recent events sink in before I could give you a fresh update so here’s where I think we currently stand. It’s been proven that the statement “some kind of trade deal is going to be made because it’s in both sides best interest” is a really bad take. I’ve said it a few times here and in the media and it’s been shown to be demonstrably wrong. I also thought they’d kick the can on raising tariffs so I should probably be leaving international trade policy to my friend Dan Clifton at Strategas. That being said, I do love pontificating so here’s a fresh take: I think the only way China and the US come to some kind of deal is if the market forces them to, specifically thru some kind of negative credit/equity event. Oh and a 5% selloff isn’t said event, on average we see three 5% selloffs a year so that’s not what I’m talking about. We’d have to see some kind of flame out because absent that why would either side budge? If tariffs knock 20-25bps off US growth would that be enough to cave in on negotiations? I doubt it, and if the market just kinda grinds along all summer that wouldn’t be enough either (in fact it would likely embolden MORE tariffs). What I’m trying to say is that I’ve finally come to the realization that “trade war” headlines aren’t going away anytime soon, if ever, so stop randomly buying / selling based on tweets. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me…umm what is it now about 62 times we’ve heard “trade talks are going great!” …then shame on me.
Well, it turns out that the market stopped worrying about tariffs and a trade war all of 10 seconds into the session because we basically went straight up all day. People buying the dip? Sure. Was the market oversold? Maybe, the peak to trough decline yesterday was around 4.6% and downside volume swamped upside volume. Is Arya going to kill Dany? I don’t think so because that seems too obvious. If the stock market doesn’t experience that “event” you mentioned earlier will that embolden the administration to enact even MORE tariffs? Absolutely. What’s the right amount to pay a babysitter? Please weigh in here (I might blog on this topic, I’d love to know what people think in 2019. Feel free to @ me). Up 1.3% by lunch as the first meaningful dip of the year put up a better defense than the Golden Company. I don’t know, I guess I was really surprised by how strong the market was today; nothing has changed in the past 24 hrs. Maybe a 5% selloff was the correct discount for the current level of trade tension? Maybe I should stop using so many question marks in this blog?
We saw a small selloff in the afternoon and a close at 2,834 up 0.8% (late selling is always curious to me). Anyway, my friend @LJKawa wrote a great article today about tariffs and the market. Here’s the money quote: “The danger, though, is that American equities are caught in a so-called Minsky Paradox. Srinivas Thiruvadanthai, research director at the Jerome Levy Forecasting Center in Mt. Kisco, New York, mused about that earlier this year. The logic dictates that unless the market sells off, the president would feel confident in pushing forward with his trade offensive -- in turn raising the risk of an even bigger slide”. Look, I don’t know what the right answer here is. I want the US to protect its IP, I want our trade partners to treat us fairly, heck I think we all do. But ratcheting this thing up, which will happen if the market shrugs its shoulders, could lead to all kinds of crazy outcomes. Or maybe, like the Cold War, this stays with us for an indefinite amount of time and we just get used to it?
- I don’t do a lot of book recommendations (I should do more) but you’re gonna want to read the latest from Prof Galloway. The Algebra of Happiness.
- Todays must read article is a wonderful look at my Generation, Gen X, which kinda feels like the middle children of American history? “Like many things considered “cool,” Gen X is pretty exclusive. You had to be born between 1965 and 1980 to get in to this gloomy, goofy club of forgotten middle children, and only about 65 million of us were. (Both boomers, at 75 million, and millennials, at 83 million, far outnumber us.)”
- If someone tries to scare you by saying China will “sell their treasuries” thus harming the US…tell them they have no idea what they’re talking about: “That means the Chinese would need to exchange their dollars for some other currency — euros, pounds or even the yuan. Putting so many dollars on the foreign-exchange market would weaken the value of the dollar. The effect would be to drive up the price of foreign imports for U.S. consumers and drive down the price of U.S. exports. At some point, the dollar would get so weak that imports from China would be balanced by increased exports. The trade deficit with China would effectively be eliminated — one of Trump’s main goals”.
- Guess this guy’s tryout for Dude Perfect didn’t go so well
- Do you fancy yourself a market timer? Guess what, you have to be impossibly good at it to make it worth your time: “For example, missing a 10% drawdown by 60 trading days (3 months), only provides outperformance of 5% (on average) relative to Buy & Hold. Spending time and energy on such an endeavor may not be worth the hassle, especially if you are wrong. Lastly, there is one huge issue with market timing that I have ignored for this entire article. How do you know when a market decline will be 20% (or greater) before it happens? You don’t. You have to go off some feeling that this decline is “the big one” and not one of the smaller declines that happen more periodically”.
- Dear Millennials interested in a career as a Financial Advisor: We have all of the things mentioned in this article at Baird. Hit us up. By making small modifications to organizational structure and culture, recruiters and human resources professionals can attract and retain a new generation of employees. Below are three practical steps financial firms should take to appeal to millennial advisers
- Why do pictures like this freak me out so much?
- This probably hurt but how lucky was he?
- Think this would be a fun place to take a walk then eat sausage and drink beer? Yes please
I have two final links for you tonight because I love them both equally
First of all, if you are a painter, I think your job is safe from robots
Second, who doesn’t love a good fail video!!
Headline Driven Market
Equities start the day lower as we slip back into a headline driven market. It happens from time to time, usually revolving around some kind of scare (the European crisis, Ebola, Debt Ceilings), and it tends to dominate price action for an unspecified amount of time. The scare du jour is this escalation in Tariff / Trade War fears so if you’re pulling up the market and you see it +/- some crazy amount it’s likely the result of someone from China or the US saying something on Twitter. Let’s do a thought experiment shall we? What would we WANT to see happen in the near term? I guess it would be one of two things: 1) A grand deal that the market didn’t expect thus providing us with a really nice catalyst to global growth or 2) Friday to arrive and the US administration to say something like “China made a great step towards us so we’re going to delay increasing tariffs while this plays out” (i.e. kick the can). What would we NOT want to happen? The nuclear option: a full blown escalation in tariffs from both sides accompanied by a cessation in negotiations thus threatening the nascent recovery in global economic data. Yesterday’s selloff was about giving a higher weight to that last outcome, the market just doesn’t want to see the nukes fly. My gut tells me they’ll kick the can because that’s what politicians always do. But that doesn’t mean the other two can’t happen (Goldman wants you to worry *shrug*). I have no crystal ball here (neither does anyone else), the fact that these outcomes are so hard to weight is why the market is on edge, jittery, acting like it drank 4 double espresso’s and a red bull. I said it on Monday: we have to expect volatility will be increased in the short term while these negotiations play out, something this major can’t be easy.
The market spent most of the day zigging and zagging on trade headlines so I won’t make too much of random noise because nothing really happened. Speaking of noise, I feel compelled to weigh in on the chatter around BYND. If you don’t know what that is it’s a recent IPO, Beyond Meat, that has a pretty juicy looking product on their website. Now look, I don’t know anything about this company financials or whether it’s cheap or expensive or has a bright future or not, what I want to address is the notion that something like BYND signals a “bubble” because of how much it’s gone up since it started trading. Everyone loves to bring up the late 90s when they tell people they are worried about a bubble, it’s almost always cited when a company that hasn’t turned a profit does well from the get go. Nevermind the fact that back then there were like 10+ IPOs a day where the company went up something stupid like 200%+ because they delivered candy to you for free or they had a boatload of “clicks” on their website. BYND is an ESG friendly publically traded “pure play” on a new trend in the food space: alternative protein. That’s it. You know how many of those types of companies exist in the public markets right now? Very few. My view, and I could be wrong, is that it’s just supply and demand for a new type of company/product. Look, I don’t care what it does now, a week from now, or 10 years from now, I have zero view on this companies prospects, I just don’t want people to constantly throw around the term “bubble” because of one data point they cherry picked.
Allow me to end this somewhat loquacious blog with a thought from Ed Clissold of NDR, who I deeply respect as a US Market Strategist. He recently wrote a piece wondering if the market can handle some bad news. Here’s the money quote: “The quality of any pullback will determine if it is part of a topping process or a healthy reset before a push to new highs. The technical health of the market suggests the latter." Basically what he’s wants to see is if recent events manage to reduce excessive sentiment without doing too much technical damage to things like breadth and internals. If this uptrend is for real then it should be able to weather a batch of bad news, rely on its strong internals, and then continue higher. If not then maybe the ground it was built upon wasn’t that firm in the first place (something they and we watch for). I mean as of now the maximum drawdown in 2019 is only 2.48%, the lowest of any year in HISTORY, we really haven’t even tested this move off the lows yet!
Way too long of a blog tonight so I’ll skip to the big finish. I have 3 links for your viewing pleasure
The first is my favorite but it’s long. Someone reimagined the fight between Vader and Obi Wan on the Death Star in Ep 4. 6 mins long but absolutely amazing, I was riveted
The second is for my soccer peeps in Europe, especially my boy GK in London. A chilling rendition of “You Will Never Walk Alone” after an unbelievable victory.
The final link is something I’m going to teach my kids to do at their next swim meet.
Oh The Humanity
Equities start the day lower on the 82nd anniversary of the Hindenburg disaster. Appropriate right? A random trade war tweet by our President on Sunday night and I’m walking into work with futures down 1.5% saying “oh the humanity”. Remember last week when I said it was time to “nitpick” the market? Remember how we were soaring on good economic news, better than expected earnings, and a dovish Fed yet internals were a bit questionable and optimism was starting to reach excessive levels? Yea…we were due for some kind of “shock,” it just so happened to come from a tweet. By the way, don’t tell me you aren’t on Twitter. If you are in the Financial Services Industry and you ARENT on Twitter you basically stand the chance of missing critical market moving events in real time. You don’t have to tweet but you do have to listen to what is basically the tape now. JOIN TWITTER (then follow @bullandbaird). Anyway, the lazy take is that ramping up a trade war is bad for the market. I’ll admit that volatility and headline risk will increase in the short term and if this morphs into a full blown Trade War that’s just outright “maybe do some recon before flying your dragons into enemy territory” levels of bad. But maybe, just maybe, the right take here is that this will 1) keep the Fed on the sidelines 2) reduces optimism in the market 3) maintain a Wall of Worry and 4) test the notion that there are people on the sidelines ready to buy dips. My man Clifton @strategasrp says “it’s always darkest before the dawn” and he’s right. We’re in the endgame of negotiations now, maybe this forces China and the US to make a broad sweeping deal that surprises to the UPSIDE. Hey, you know what surprised to the upside? That episode of GoT last night, which was infinitely better than the Battle of Winterfell.
Most of the initial reaction today was positive….can you believe that? The low was made about 2 minutes into the session and by lunch we were down less than 1%. Why? Well, the notion of a “trade war” has been with us for over a year now, it’s not like the battle has just begun. “But Mike, if that’s the case then why were futures down 2% on Sunday night?” A) because people love to overreact and B) the market doesn’t react well to surprises. Like me, I don’t react well to surprises (can you name the movie?). It seems like we’re giving the benefit of the doubt to the process, that a positive outcome is more likely than a full blown trade war and that we just gotta get thru the endgame. Remember when Cap stood alone and all seemed lost? This process is probably harder than defeating Thanos but if it’s done the right way we could be looking at the next great catalyst. Frankly we’re lucky this news came out, there was nothing on the radar today. Earnings are basically over, the Fed is done for awhile, and there was no economic data. I mean I could’ve filled a blog with questions like “why not just fire those giant arrows at Dany and the 14 people standing there thus ending the war” or “why do I not own this” but instead we got something market related to talk about!!
We ALMOST got to green (the Rusk2 managed to) but in the end closed down 0.5% on a day that turned out far better than people thought it would be. Here’s the sitch, broken down as simple as I can make it: With respect to the market there’s nothing more powerful than an easy Fed. If the Fed is dovish that fact alone can outweigh many things including trade war rhetoric. We have an economy that is humming along, a stock market that is humming along (not without its faults though), and the Fed on our side. Those three things are likely worth more than the uncertainty around China / US relations. Speaking of that, let’s give the last sentence to my guy Voltaire: “Uncertainty is an uncomfortable position. But certainty is an absurd one.”
- Succinct Summation of the Day’s Events: markets never do what you think they’ll do, that’s why this game is so hard
- Liz Ann Sonders is always a good read:
- A new survey finds that 27% of “sports parents” are spending $500 or more each month on their children’s activitie. Suze Orman was just yelling at us to stop drinking $4 a day coffee so we can save money for retirement and now THIS? $6k a year on kids sports?
- How tech giants make their billions. See that giant blue circle on FB? They are selling you
- If you are an advisor you should probably be thinking about your website much more than you are: “This is no joke. I’m serious because it will help a lot of you reading this. Websites that are the same as everyone else’s fail to engage and waste the time and money of everyone involved. They shouldn’t exist. A bad website is worse than none. Instead, use the money on YouTube advertising and let’s hope the process of analyzing your Google ad spend leads to higher creativity”
- Fresh hot Spider Man trailer here! Movie looks really good
- I want everyone to digest this statement: “Millennials are following the pattern of previous generations,” says Michael Ward, an analyst with investment-research firm Seaport Global.
- Honey, let’s find the most beautiful place in Brazil and build a triangle on top of a shoebox.
- Just a bit of water, no biggie, should be able to drive thru it
- Check out your boy with Oliver Renick breaking down the day’s news
So I have two hard and fast rules. #1: I always tip street musicians. If someone is going to take the time to create music in public I plan on rewarding them (especially violin)
#2: I love the Irish, especially when they do card tricks while drunk. Love the Irish.
It's May Already?
Equities start the day higher as May begins! Can you believe it’s May already, how is that even possible? The phrase “the days go slow but the years fly by” couldn’t be more true (especially if you have kids). April though…WOW. Was that the best April of all time? Maybe, maybe not, but for pop culture it’s definitely in the running. Avengers Endgame plus the Battle of Winterfell? Forget about it. How much longer do I have to wait before I can spoil people on those two things? I’ll give you until Monday of next week before I fill this blog with references to how awesome fat Thor was and how boring Bran is. Ok, here is what we got for index returns in April: SPX +2.8%, Nasd Comp +3.4%, Rus2k +2.3%. The YTD returns are even meatier: SPX +17.5%, Nasd Comp +22%, Rus2k +18%. Stock Market Returns ASSEMBLE. Those are the best starts to the year in decades BUT (there’s always a but isn’t there) we need to start nitpicking. When our Thor takes the hammer from the past does that mean the Thor in that timeline…arrghh…man I wanna talk these movies so badly with you…focus Antonelli. While the market is currently trading at all-time highs there are things that are bothersome right now. My partner Willie points out that the # of stocks making new highs, while the market is making new highs, isn’t expanding like it did in previous breakouts. We’ve also got our eyes on optimism which is starting to surge. Not only that, we’re heading into one of the weakest 6 month stretches for the market (h/t RyanDetrick) so the conditions necessary for a correction are starting to add up. Look, when a market becomes overloved and the foundation it’s built upon isn’t all that strong a casual swipe from a Valryian blade can bring it down (I may need to buy this for my office). Now I’m not saying a correction HAS to happen but we need to be vigilant after such a strong move.
Lots of cross currents today between a Fed meeting and ongoing earnings. Apple said they experienced their worst ever drop in iPhone sales so the stock must’ve gotten killed right? Nope, +6% because people are starting to focus on their services (20% of revs, 33% of gross profit). How about this tidbit? AAPL trades at a lower PE than Proctor and Gamble (18 vs 25). Hey…here’s a question for you…do we need FAANG to rally for the market to rally? I argue no because FAANG is the product of a different era. Does anyone talk about PIIGS, The Nifty 50 or The 4 Horsemen anymore? Of course not. These companies all face their own idiosyncratic risks now, they aren’t bundled together in one giant acronym anymore. Which is FINE, we still want Tech to do well, we still want these companies to do well, all I’m saying is we don’t need the 5 names in FAANG to lead us anymore. In fact my good friends at Strategas have been monitoring the move in Financials which we’d LOVE to see lead.
The Fed announcement was basically inline with what the market expected but they did worry about inflation being a bit below their target. We churned up and down around the event but ultimately the Fed is being patient with rates and only time will tell if that’s the right stance. Nitpicking…you’re gonna see a lot of it over the next few months. We started the year 4 for 4 (every month has been positive) which has happened 15 times since 1950. Let’s end with this chart (also from my crew at Strategas) showing what happened in those years. Notice that every single one of them had some kind of drawdown averaging about -8%. We need to nitpick the market for signs of vulnerability; nothing goes up in a straight line other than my waist size.
- Instagram is the new mall! “Ever since Instagram first allowed brands to make shoppable posts, consumers have been asking for the same from influencers—from whom, after all, most Instagram users are getting their product recommendations. Now they’ll finally be able to buy everything their favorite creators recommend directly through their feed. Instagram will take a cut of every sale made through its platform, likely generating millions in new revenue” Here’s a question for you…what do you think is more valuable right now: A generic college degree or 150k followers in Insta? I think I know the answer…
- Really interesting tidbits in this article about advisors targeting younger clients
- Housel on the mind tricks we play on ourselves: “This is so powerful in investing.“The easy money has already been made” is only said by people who can’t remember how hard and uncertain it was to make money in the past. And those who think investing will be easy if you just have a long-term mindset ignore that the long run is just a collection of short runs, each of which has uncertainty, volatility, and decisions that have to be dealt with.”
- Volatility is actually your friend. This is an impt subject, I always try and relay this to our clients when I speak to them: For most individual investors, the real risk is not saving enough and not having it grow enough to cover future expenses during retirement. If running out of money is the true risk, then anything you do today that reduces your probability of growing your nest egg is causing that risk.
- Take a look at the average credit score in America (via FICO). The really bad recessions come when people are way over their skis with leverage / debt. Does the average American strike you as way over their skis with a score like this? (article here)
- Is this the most useless device ever? Does anyone need one of these?
- Speaking of needing, I need these ASAP
- Im quitting and becoming Spider Man
- If you aren’t listening to the Michael Lewis podcast I don’t even know what to tell you. Start with this one
- Headlines we DON’T WANNA SEE EVER “Major Wall Street banks are telling clients to be ready for a sudden rip higher in the market”
We’ll end tonight on some everyday trick shots from Dude Perfect. Next time I’m in COST with my wife I’m gonna try that cheese puff one not only because it looks cool but I’m dying for a giant container of cheese puffs.
Have a good night