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....

Scott MartindaleStocks continued last week to seek some firmer footing, as prices found some support and volatility hit some resistance, and a flight to safety of global capital benefited long-term Treasury bonds -- the very assets that are supposed to be selling off in a secular “Great Rotation” into equities.

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Scott MartindaleWell, Fed Chairman Bernanke has proved me wrong by dipping his toe into the dreaded tapering of QE3. In retrospect, I suppose he preferred to take this first step on his own rather than put the onus (and any associated fallout) on the back on his successor.

smartindale / Tag: sectors, iShares, ETF, SPY, VIX, iyw, IYF, IYM, IYK, IYC, IYZ, IYE, IYJ, IDU, IYH, MA, PRU, GOOG, SNDK, KBWD, TDIV, OSIS, ULTA, JAZZ / 0 Comments

Scott MartindaleThe stock market’s technical consolidation continues, and in fact anyone who missed last week’s entry point for the widely-anticipated year-end rally is getting another shot at it. The S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrials both lost round-number support again this week at 1800 and 16,000, after briefly recovering them from last week’s pullback.

smartindale / Tag: sectors, iShares, ETF, SPY, VIX, MA, FB, GOOG, SLH, AMG, AMP, iyw, IYF, IYK, IYJ, IYH, IYC, IYM, IYE, IYZ, IDU / 0 Comments

Scott MartindaleAs stock traders take a break for Thanksgiving, all the major averages have hit new highs after breaking through psychological resistance levels, including the S&P 500 at 1800, Dow Jones Industrials at 16,000, and NASDAQ at 4000. Tech stocks were the big leaders on Wednesday after a strong earnings report from Hewlett-Packard (HPQ).

smartindale / Tag: iShares, sectors, ETF, SPY, VIX, MPC, HPQ, iyw, IYF, IYE, IYM, IYZ, IYJ, IYH, IYK, IYC, IDU, BLK, AWH, WDC, GOOG, JAZZ, GNW, ALK, NXPI / 0 Comments

Scott MartindaleThe U.S. stock market has been reluctant to provide eager bulls with a tasty entry point ahead of the much anticipated year-end rally. Although the major indexes have seen fit to consolidate a bit and work off some of their overbought conditions, bulls have hoped for a something more substantial. But very few holders are selling these days.

smartindale / Tag: iShares, ETF, sectors, EEM, TLT, SPY, VIX, IYF, iyw, IYK, IYC, IYH, IYM, IYE, IYJ, IDU, IYZ, GOOG, MDSO, ASPS, V, TDIV, QABA, HOLX, TSLA, SZYM, JAZZ, STX, AL, ALK, GNW, NXPI / 0 Comments

Scott MartindaleLike any superhero or action movie star who relies upon a “trusty sidekick,” Mr. Market stays strong, confident, and bold with the Federal Reserve at his side. Chairman Bernanke (and heir apparent Janet Yellen) firmly believes that the wealth effect provided by rising stock and housing markets is essential for maintaining consumer spending and corporate earnings growth.

smartindale / Tag: iShares, sectors, ETF, SPY, VIX, IBM, iyw, IYF, IYK, IYJ, IYE, IYZ, IDU, IYC, IYH, IYM, KBWI, IXN, GOOG, CVLT, SBNY, RE / 0 Comments

Thunder is good, thunder is impressive; but it is lightning that does all the work.” — Mark Twain

If you go by Wall Street’s scorecard, the economy seems to be going gangbusters, as evidenced by the upward trajectory of the major equity indices.

daniel / Tag: SPX, DJIA, NASDAQ, COMP, GOOG, AMZN, EBAY, PCLN, YHOO, CRM, NFLX, AKAM, LNKD, FB, consumer sentiment / 0 Comments

I am always doing that which I can not do, in order that I may learn how to do it.” -- Pablo Picasso

So now the fun really begins.

That is, if you consider fun the sort of thing that happens when Wall Street has way too much information to process in a very short period of time.

daniel / Tag: VIX, VXX, FDN, DJIA, SPX, COMP, GOOG, AMZN, EBAY, PCLN, YHOO, CRM, NFLX, AKAM, FB, LNKD / 0 Comments

You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. -- Henry David Thoreau

Well, that party didn’t last long, and the hangover was on the nasty side.

Wall Street had a few days to entertain a little early-week exuberance as a couple of Fed-centric news cycles spurred the equity market towards yet another round of record highs. That exuberance, however, was severely “tapered” when a conflicting message from another Fed officer sent the market reeling towards steep losses, cutting into its midweek gains.

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