Scott Martindaleby Scott Martindale
President, Sabrient Systems LLC

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite indexes both hit new all-time highs this week on strong breadth, and all the major indexes appear to be consolidating recent gains before attempting an upside breakout. P/E multiples are expanding, particularly among large caps, as stocks rise despite a temporary slowdown in earnings growth. Why are investors bidding up stocks so aggressively? They have stopped looking over their shoulders with fear and anxiety and are instead focused on the opportunities ahead. And on that horizon, recession fears are falling, optimism regarding a US-China trade resolution is rising, US and Chinese economic data are improving, corporate profits are better than expected, and the Fed has agreed to step out of the way. All of this reduces uncertainty that typically holds back business investment. Stocks valuations are forward looking and a leading economic indicator, so they already seem to be pricing in expectations for stronger economic growth in the Q3, Q4, and 2020.

I said in my commentary last month that I thought we may see upside surprises in Q1 and Q2 earnings announcements, given the low bar that had been reset, and indeed we are seeing higher-than-average earnings beats – including big names like Apple (AAPL) and Facebook (FB), among many others – as half of the S&P 500 companies have reported. Moreover, the recent legal settlement between Apple and Qualcomm (QCOM) was a big positive news story that should now free up both companies to focus on 5G products, including step-function upgrades to smartphones, tablets, and computers, as the critical race with China for 5G dominance kicks into high gear.

Looking ahead, there are plenty of mixed signals for the economy and stocks – and no doubt the pessimists could fill a dossier with plenty of doom and gloom. But I think the pessimism has been a positive in keeping stocks from surging too exuberantly, given all the positive data that the optimists can cite. And on balance, the path of least resistance for both the economy and stocks appears to be upward. I think bond yields will continue to gradually firm up as capital rotates from bonds to equities in an improving growth and inflation environment, stabilizing the dollar (from advancing much further), while reducing the odds of a Fed rate cut in 2019. A healthy economy helps corporate earnings, while a dovish Fed keeps rates low and supports equity valuations. And as the trade war with China comes to resolution, I expect corporations will ramp up capital spending and guidance, enticing idle cash into the market and further fueling bullish conviction. Rather than an impending recession, we may be returning to the type of growth and inflation we enjoyed just prior to the tax reform bill, which would provide a predictable environment for corporate planning and steady (but not exuberant or inflationary) corporate earnings growth.

This should bode well not only for Sabrient’s Baker’s Dozen portfolios, but also for our other growth and dividend-oriented portfolios, like Sabrient Dividend and Dividend Opportunity, each of which comprises 50 growth-at-a-reasonable-price (aka GARP) stocks paying an aggregate yield in excess of 4% in what is essentially a growth-and-income strategy, and perhaps our 50-stock Small Cap Growth portfolios. As a reminder, I am always happy to make time for conversations with advisors about market conditions and our portfolios. We are known for our model-driven growth-at-a-reasonable-price (GARP) approach, and our model is directing us to smaller caps, as many of the high-quality large caps that are expected to generate solid earnings growth already have been “bid up” relative to small caps.

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 also maintains a bullish posture. Read on…

Scott Martindaleby Scott Martindale
President, Sabrient Systems LLC

You might not have realized it given the technical consolidation in March, but Q1 2019 ended up giving the S&P 500 its best Q1 performance of the new millennium, and the best quarterly performance (of any quarter) since Q3 2009. Investors could be forgiven for thinking the powerful rally from Christmas Eve through February was nothing more than a proverbial “dead cat bounce,” given all the negative news about a global economic slowdown, the still-unresolved trade skirmish with China, a worsening Brexit, reductions to US corporate earnings estimates, and the Fed’s sudden about-face on rate hikes. But instead, stocks finished Q1 with a flourish and now appear to be poised to take another run at all-time highs. The S&P 500, for example, entered Q2 less than 4% below its all-time high.

Overall, we still enjoy low unemployment, rising wages, and strong consumer sentiment, as well as a supportive Fed (“Don’t fight the Fed!”) keeping rates “lower for longer” (and by extension, debt servicing expenses and discount rates for equity valuation) and maintaining $1.5 trillion in excess reserves in the financial system. Likewise, the ECB extended its pledge to keep rates at record lows, and China has returned to fiscal and monetary stimulus to revive its flagging growth stemming from the trade war. Meanwhile, Corporate America has been quietly posting record levels of dividends and share buybacks, as well as boosting its capital expenditures – which is likely to accelerate once a trade deal with China is signed (which just became more likely with the apparently-benign findings of the Mueller investigation). In addition, the bellwether semiconductor industry is presenting a more upbeat tone and an upturn from a cyclical bottom (due to temporary oversupply), while crude oil has broken out above overhead resistance at $60.

On the other hand, there is some understandable concern that US corporate earnings forecasts have been revised downward to flat or negative for the first couple of quarters of 2019. Of course, it would be preferable to see a continuation of the solid earnings growth and profitability of last year, but the good news is that revenue growth is projected to remain solid (at least 4.5% for all quarters), and then earnings is expected to return to a growth track in 2H2019. Moreover, the concurrent reduction in the discount rate (due to lower interest rates) is an offsetting factor for stock valuations.

All of this leads me to believe that economic conditions remain generally favorable for stocks. In addition, I think we may see upside surprises in Q1 and Q2 earnings announcements, especially given the low bar that has been reset. But it also may mean that investors will become more selective, with some stocks doing quite well even if the broad market indexes show only modest growth this year.

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 and the technical picture suggests an imminent upside breakout, while the sector rotation model maintains its a bullish posture. Read on…

Scott MartindaleStocks continue to hold up like troopers even though bulls have lost some traction, perhaps due to a combination of the summer doldrums and overbought technical conditions that have them biding time until the next setup for a run at new highs. To be sure, bears are AWOL and missing their opportunity to create some fear and ignite a correction.

smartindale / Tag: SPY, VIX, IYF, iyw, IYJ, IYZ, IYC, IYK, IYH, IDU, IYM, IYE, FTEC, FIDU, FNCL, FUTY, FENY, FHLC, XSD, FXR, KIE, SWKS, NXPI, RTN, ALK, FITB, ETF, iShares, sectors, SectorCast / 0 Comments

Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your self confidence.” -- Robert Frost

Right now, it looks like it would take a major downside event to prevent the major indices from having a swimmingly good year.

daniel / Tag: SPX, DJIA, NASDAQ, COMP, VIX, VXX, KIE, FXO, XLF, IYF, VFH, volatility, CBOE, Fear Index / 0 Comments

An idea is a point of departure and no more. As soon as you elaborate, it becomes transformed by thought.” — Pablo Picasso

Last week saw investors exposed to a broad swath of noise from a number of diverse sources, and the bottom line was that Wall Street pretty much ended the week close to where it had begun.

daniel / Tag: SPX, DJIA, NASDAQ, COMP, KIE, FXO, IYF, XLF, VFH, FXI, China / 0 Comments

It was another week of wild mood-swings on Wall Street, as Ben Bernanke seemed to be intent on roiling the markets. Deliberate or not, the effect was the same, as investors seemed hesitant to jump in on the dips with the same enthusiasm that they have for the majority of the year so far. The question is, will the volatility express continue to barrel through the summer vacation months?

daniel / Tag: DJIA, COMP, SPX, VIX, VXX, KIE, FXO, IYF, XLF, VFH, volatility, FED, BERNANKE, fear gauge, Chicago Board Options Exchange / 0 Comments

The last couple of weeks has seen Wall Street moving in something of a sideways trend, though that hardly indicates the increased level of intraday volatility that the equity market has been experiencing since the last week of May. Will it be more of the same for the coming week? Bet on it . . .

daniel / Tag: DJIA, COMP, SPX, VIX, KIE, FXO, IYF, XLF, VFH, volatility, FED, Federal Reserve Bank, BERNANKE / 0 Comments

The VIX is looking a little bit jumpy as of late, perhaps reflecting something of a rising wariness among investors in terms of risk.

Can the Bulls be standing on something of a slippery slope, about to slide towards a trend reversal? Or is it just a seasonal thing, with investors tightening up their portfolios prior to summer?

 

daniel / Tag: DJIA, COMP, SPX, VIX, KIE, FXO, IYF, XLF, VFH, PSP, WMT Volatility, FED, Federal Reserve Bank, BERNANKE / 0 Comments

"If you simply try to tell the truth you will, nine times out of ten, be original without ever having noticed it." -- C.S. Lewis

Another week, another victory lap for the Bulls.

Anyone notice a pattern here? Technically speaking, at least, that pattern is a solid uptrend, with nary an imminent level of resistance close to the horizon.

daniel / Tag: DJIA, COMP, SPX, KIE, FXO, IYF, XLF, VFH, PSP, M, WMT, financial sector, consumer sentiment, Retail Sector, Eurozone, China, Syria / 0 Comments

“All generalizations are false, including this one.” -- Mark Twain

For those investors who may have been feeling a tad complacent due to the recent record highs of several of the major indices, last week probably served as a reminder that high volatility is always just a shout away from knocking the market down a notch or three.

daniel / Tag: KIE, FXO, IYF, PSP, VFH, DJIA, COMP, SPX, VIX, AAPL, financial sector, Eurozone, CBOE, SP 500 Index, China / 0 Comments

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