Scott Martindale  by Scott Martindale
  President, Sabrient Systems LLC

July was yet another solid month for stocks, as the major market indexes eclipsed and held above psychological barriers, like the S&P 500 at 3,000, and the technical consolidation at these levels continued with hardly any give back at all. But of course, the last day of July brought a hint of volatility to come, and indeed August has followed through on that with a vengeance. As the old adage goes, “Stocks take the stairs up but ride the elevator down,” and we just saw a perfect example of it. The technical conditions were severely overbought, with price stretched way above its 20-day simple moving average, and now suddenly the broad indexes (S&P 500, Dow, Nasdaq) are challenging support at the 200-day moving average, while the small cap Russell 2000 index has plummeted well below its 200-day and is now testing its May low.

For the past 18 months (essentially starting with the February 2018 correction), investor caution has been driven by escalating trade wars and tariffs, rising global protectionism, a “race to the bottom” in currency wars, and our highly dysfunctional political climate. However, this cautious sentiment has been coupled with an apparent fear of missing out (aka FOMO) on a major market melt-up that together have kept global capital in US stocks but pushed up valuations in low-volatility and defensive market segments to historically high valuations relative to GARP (growth at a reasonable price), value, and cyclical market segments. Until the past few days, rather than selling their stocks, investor have preferred to simply rotate into defensive names when the news was distressing (which has been most of the time) and then going a little more risk-on when the news was more encouraging (which has been less of the time). I share some new insights on this phenomenon in today’s article.

The market’s gains this year have not been based on excesses (aka “irrational exuberance”) but instead stocks have climbed a proverbial Wall of Worry – largely on the backs of defensive sectors and mega-caps and fueled by persistently low interest rates, and mostly through multiple expansion rather than earnings growth. In addition, the recent BAML Global Fund Manager Survey indicated the largest jump in cash balances since the debt ceiling crisis in 2011 and the lowest allocation ratio of equities to bonds since May 2009, which tells me that deployment of this idle cash and some rotation out of bonds could really juice this market. It just needs that elusive catalyst to ignite a resurgence in business capital spending and manufacturing activity, raised guidance, and upward revisions to estimates from the analyst community, leading to a sustained risk-on rotation.

As a reminder, I am always happy to take time for conversations with financial advisors about market conditions, outlook, and Sabrient’s portfolios.

In this periodic update, I provide a detailed 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 look neutral to me (i.e., neither bullish nor defensive), while the sector rotation model retains a bullish posture. Read on…

Scott Martindale

As earnings season gets underway with mixed results but a generally positive trend, Wall Street analysts are coming out with upgrades and downgrades to earnings estimates that are significantly impacting our sector rankings this week.

Scott Martindale

The market twice threatened to pullback over the past week, but each time it resumed its methodical upward trajectory. The S&P 500 set a new intra-day 52-week high on Monday, and then set another 52-week closing high on Tuesday. Sabrient’s SectorCast-ETF model shows little change from last week, with Healthcare on top, again followed by InfoTech and Consumer Discretionary.

Scott Martindale

As the market continues its slow but steady march further into overbought territory, Sabrient’s SectorCast-ETF rankings are holding steady. Energy, Healthcare and Financials still look undervalued, while Telecom, Industrials, and Materials look overvalued.

Scott Martindale

The market has gone straight up over the past week since beginning the month of March by breaking through its 50-day moving average. The top and bottom of Sabrient’s SectorCast-ETF rankings look pretty similar to last week, although there has been some shuffling as Energy takes the top spot and Healthcare re-emerges in the top two.

Scott Martindale

Well, I’ve been writing in this column that the market has been signaling that it wants to breakout to the upside, and it finally broke back above its 50-day moving average as we began the new month. Sabrient’s SectorCast-ETF rankings are mostly holding steady, with Financials, Energy, Healthcare, and InfoTech still showing the best fundamental valuations.