Scott Martindaleby Scott Martindale
President, Sabrient Systems LLC

The escalating trade standoff with China, an increasingly hawkish Federal Reserve, and the impending mid-term elections finally took a toll on investor psyche, creating a rush to the exits in October as concern rises about the sustainability of the ultra-strong corporate earnings given China’s key role in global supply chains. Even some sell-side analysts have seen fit to slightly trim Q4’s strong earnings estimates. Nonetheless, the month ended with an encouraging rally from deeply oversold technical conditions. Overall, Sabrient’s model continues to suggest that little has changed with the positive fundamental outlook characterized by solid global economic growth, strong US corporate earnings, modest inflation, low real interest rates (despite incremental rate hikes), a stable global banking system, and historic fiscal stimulus in the US (especially corporate tax cuts and deregulation) that is only starting to have an impact on all-important capital spending. Also worth mentioning are the Consumer Confidence Index, which rose to its highest level in 18 years, and the Small Business Optimism Index, which continues with the longest streak of sustained optimism in its 45-year history.

Although the S&P 500 managed to plod its way upward during the summer and hit new highs well into September, a dramatic risk-off defensive rotation commenced in mid-June reflecting cautious investor sentiment, which disproportionately impacted Sabrient’s cyclicals-heavy portfolios. But this was not a healthy rotation. In fact, I wrote during the summer that the market wouldn’t be able to move much higher without renewed breadth and leadership from cyclicals. But instead of a risk-on rotation to recharge bullish conviction, we got a big market sell-off in October. Notably, such a pullback is normal in mid-term election years, but what is also normal is a strongly positive market move over the course of the 12 months following the mid-terms.

Last week’s fledgling recovery rally from severely oversold technical conditions showed promising risk-on action – and some relative performance catch-up in Sabrient’s portfolios. Thus, while the aggregate earnings outlooks for companies in the cyclical sectors and smaller caps have held steady or in many cases improved, shares prices have fallen dramatically, making the forward P/Es in these market segments much more attractive, while forward P/Es in the defensive sectors have become quite pricey.

Getting the uncertainty of the mid-term elections behind us should be good for investor sentiment. So, I think the correction lows are in – barring a massive “blue wave” in which Democrats take over both houses of Congress or a total breakdown in the China trade talks. Also, companies are coming out of their reporting-season blackout windows so that they can resume their massive share buybacks, further goosing stock prices. All told, I anticipate a risk-on rotation spurring a year-end rally that should treat our portfolios well.

In this periodic update, I provide a market commentary, offer my technical analysis of the S&P 500, 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 remain bullish, while the sector rotation model has been forced into a defensive posture due to the recent correction. Read on...

The Wall of Worry just keeps adding more bricks. Although there has been much talk about the impact of low oil prices on the U.S. high yield debt market and by extension the U.S. banks that did the lending, the bigger worry now is the stability of the European banking system. It is like 2011 all over again. Also, there continue to be signs of an insidious corporate “earnings recession.” Such headlines add to the steady stream of “worry bricks” that have so confounded disciplined fundamental investors for at least the past seven months or so.

Stocks saw elevated volume and volatility last week, and the 100-day simple moving average on the S&P 500 proved to be the proverbial line-in-the-sand for bullish investors. I opined last week that the market seemed to have sufficiently cycled back down to oversold territory, so with a little more technical consolidation and successful testing of nearby support levels, the next move higher could easily commence at any time. So, the question remains as to whether that was the big new buying opportunity, or whether more backing-and-filling is needed.

Scott MartindaleThe sudden bearish turn last week in the market -- after hitting new highs the prior week -- has come fast and furious as selloffs are wont to do. And the pullback might have further still to go. But there are several reasons to expect a stabilization or bounce during this holiday-shortened week, and in any case I still expect that it eventually will turn out to be a great buying opportunity leading to higher prices later in the year.

smartindale / Tag: sectors, iShares, ETF, SPY, VIX, iyw, IYH, IDU, IYJ, IYE, IYK, IYC, IYZ, IYM, IYF, TFX, EIX, GAS, CELG, VMW, AXE, SOXX, BBH, FXU, FTEC, FHLC, FUTY, FSTA, FENY, FIDU, NFLX, DDD, ACT, JAZZ / 0 Comments

david trainerHigh dividend yields are not enough to warrant investing in the utilities sector.

Too many investors put their hard-earned money in utility stocks with the assumption that relatively high-yielding dividends from stable business make a good investment.

The real question that investors in any equity security must ask is: does my expected return from a stock justify the risk of investing in it?

dtrainer / Tag: DPL, FUI, FXU, IDU, PEG, PSCU, PUI, RYU, UPW, VPU, XLU / 0 Comments

ETF Periscope: Oil Speculators Get Spanked. Or Did They?

by Daniel Sckolnik of ETF Persicope

“It is better to travel well than to arrive.” -- Buddha

Watching crude oil take a serious plunge this week gave motorists a reason to cheer, but left oil traders with a strong, queasy feeling.

Well, at least some of them.

daniel / Tag: Crude Oil, DJIA, ETF, FXU, IAT, IEA, IYM, IYZ, NYMEX, RGI, RTL, S&P 500 Index, SPX, Strategic Petroleum Reserve, XLK, XLU / 0 Comments

Could I Interest You In a Slightly Used Parthenon?

by Daniel Sckolnik of ETF Periscope

“I do not believe in a fate that falls on men however they act; but I do believe in a fate that falls on them unless they act.” -- Buddha

daniel / Tag: DJIA, ETF, EU, European Union, FXU, Greece, IAT, IMF, IYM, NASDAQ, RTL, S&P 500 Index, SPX / 0 Comments