Scott Martindale  by Scott Martindale
  President & CEO, Sabrient Systems LLC

Optimism reigns for the pandemic slowing and the economy reopening. And because stocks tend to be several months forward looking (and remarkably predictive, at that), April saw the best single-month performance for the S&P 500 in 33 years (+12.7%), while the Nasdaq saw its best month in 20 years (+15.4%). The S&P 500 Growth Index recorded its highest ever monthly return (+14.3%). In addition, gold and bitcoin have been rising as a hedge against all sorts of outcomes, including geopolitical instability, trade wars, de-globalization, unfettered monetary & fiscal liquidity (i.e., MMT), inflation, a weakening dollar, a “toppy” bond market, etc. (plus the periodic bitcoin “halving” event that occurs this week).

This impressive rally off the lows seems justified for several reasons:

  1. the coronavirus, as bad as it is, falling well short of the dire lethality predictions of the early models and our ability to “flatten the curve”
  2. massive monetary and fiscal policy support and the associated reduction in credit risk
  3. low interest rates driving retirees and other income seekers into the higher yields and returns of stocks
  4. household income holding up relatively well, as the main impact has been on lower wage workers who can’t work remotely (and government support should cover much of their losses)
  5. escalation of tensions with China seems to be “all hat and no cattle” for now, with a focus on economic recovery
  6. massive short covering and a bullish reversal among algorithmic traders
  7. the growing dominance and consistent performance of the secular-growth Technology sector plus other “near-Tech” names (like Facebook and Amazon.com)
  8. the steepening yield curve, as capital has gradually rotated out of the “bond bubble”

What the rally doesn’t have at the moment, however, is a strong near-term fundamental or valuation-based foundation. But although the current forward P/E of the S&P 500 of 20x might be overvalued based on historical valuations, I think in today’s unprecedented climate there actually is room for further multiple expansion before earnings begin to catch up, as investors position for a post-lockdown recovery.

In any case, it has been clear to us at Sabrient that the market has developed a “new normal,” which actually began in mid-2015 when the populist movement gained steam and the Fed announced a desire to begin tightening monetary policy. Investors suddenly become wary of traditional “risk-on” market segments like small-mid caps, value stocks, cyclical sectors, and emerging markets, even though the economic outlook was still strong, instead preferring to focus on mega-cap Technology, long-term secular growth industries, and “bond proxy” dividend-paying defensive sectors. And more recently, investor sentiment coming out of the COVID-19 selloff seems to be more about speculative optimism of a better future rather than near-term earnings reports and attractive valuation multiples.

In response, Sabrient has enhanced our forward-looking and valuation-oriented Baker’s Dozen strategy to improve all-weather performance and reduce relative volatility versus the benchmark S&P 500, as well as put secular-growth companies (which often display higher valuations) on more equal footing with cyclical-growth firms (which tend to display lower valuations). Those secular growth trends include 5G, Internet of Things (IoT), e-commerce, cloud computing, AI/ML, robotics, clean energy, blockchain, quantum computing, nanotechnology, genomics, and precision medicine. So, we felt it was necessary that our stock selection strategy give due consideration to players in these market segments, as well.

As a reminder, you can find my latest Baker’s Dozen slide deck and commentary on terminating portfolios at http://bakersdozen.sabrient.com/bakers-dozen-marketing-materials.

In this periodic update, I provide a market commentary, discuss Sabrient’s new process enhancements, offer my technical analysis of the S&P 500, and review Sabrient’s latest fundamentals-based SectorCast rankings of the ten US business sectors, and serve up some actionable ETF trading ideas. In summary, our sector rankings now look defensive, and our sector rotation model maintains a neutral posture as it climbs from the depths of the selloff. Meanwhile, the technical picture remains bullish as it continues to gather speculative conviction on a better future, although with elevated volatility amid progress/setbacks as the economy tries to gradually reopen in the face of an ongoing coronavirus threat.  Read on....

This year, the S&P 500 has greatly underperformed its average 18% return that it historically provides during the third year of a Presidential election cycle. But then, a lot seems to be different this year as correlations across most asset classes are high and prices are buffeted more by news events than fundamentals (which has made stock picking quite challenging).

Scott MartindaleAnxious bulls no doubt are looking for ways to rustle awake this sleepy late-summer stock market, before the bears stealthily bring it down. Investors’ focus has been on the Fed and what it might do next month, and Wednesday’s release of the July FOMC meeting minutes showed almost all the voting members supported no change in stimulus, with only a few hawks insisting that tapering should begin sooner.

smartindale / Tag: sectors, iShares, ETF, SPY, VIX, CSCO, WMT, AAPL, VMW, MA, PB, iyw, IYF, IYK, IYE, IYJ, IYZ, IYM, IDU, IYH, IYC / 0 Comments

Earnings reports on Wednesday from big banks like Goldman Sachs (Scott MartindaleGS) and JPMorgan Chase (JPM) were encouraging. And Apple (AAPL) got a much-needed boost from the top tech analysts. However, Goldman’s analysts tried to throw a wet blanket on the markets earlier this week with their expectation that earnings reports overall this year would be “uninspiring” and that equity returns this year likely will be only in the single digits.

smartindale / Tag: iShares, sectors, ETF, IYH, iyw, IYK, IYM, IYJ, IYE, IYF, IYZ, IDU, IYC, AAPL, GS, JPM, DVA, COO, CTSH, IT, SPY, VIX, DEF, NFO, KNOW, CSCO, FCX / 0 Comments

When something is confusing or incomprehensible, a person might say, “It’s all Greek to me.” Well, that’s exactly what investors have been saying for the past several days—in the market’s inimitable way. Despite promising economic and corporate news in the U.S., the headline risk from Europe has been just too much to bear. It is keeping the bulls at bay, and front and center for an encore performance is Greece.

smartindale / Tag: Tags: BXS, CSCO, DMD, ETF, FB, GRPN, IDU, iShares, IVR, IYC, IYE, IYH, IYI, IYJ, IYK, IYM, iyw, IYZ, JPM, linkedin, LNKD, NTES, sectors, SPY, VIX / 0 Comments

Proceed with Caution

david / Tag: BLL, CSCO, DIS, GAP, HPQ, IIVI, LKQX, sectors, SOLR, SPLS / 0 Comments

Stocks Seeking a Catalyst

by David Brown, Chief Market Strategist, Sabrient Systems

Today saw the S&P 500 continue to slide slowly from its recent three-and-a-half-year high. The index closed at 1329.47, down -0.62%.

david / Tag: AGP, AVT, CF, CSCO, DIS, PWER, sectors, VIX / 0 Comments

The market is off to a great start this week, powered by last week's momentum and further buoyed by a lessening of fears about Europe's sovereign debt. All the major indices are above their 50-day and 200-day moving averages, with the S&P 500 finally breaking out of the 1120 resistance level, closing today at 1141, a new 4-month high. As an interesting historical aside, the 1120 resistance level was first encountered way back in April 1998.

david / Tag: BBY, BJGP, CSCO, CVU, FDX, GME, HPQ, IBM, JPM, MA, OPLK, ORCL, RIMM, SCVL, TXN, WATG / 0 Comments