Weekly Cycle: A negative turn?

Stock Market Outlook 05.07.2018

Each week, I review the market using my own set of information sources to gauge the market. While I’d prefer to be long-term investors and check the markets less frequently, I believe my skills in selecting enduring businesses for long-term success are lacking those of great investors.

Instead, I use a trend following strategy with regular weekly checkups for proper diligence. A weekly outlook provides relief from overreacting on a day-to-day basis, while still allowing for relative short term moves.

Index Performance & Technical Indicators

stock market technical indicators and performance 05.07.2018

  • S&P 500 (SPY) up slightly over last week
  • Cannabis (MJ) up over 10% over last 30 days
  • Tech (QQQ) up 3.5% in past week and 5.6% in last 30 days. Similarly, cybersecurity (HACK) is up over 6% in last 30 days.
  • VIX is 50% down over last 3 months and 50% up over last year
Technical Indicators

Based on data and info from TradingView (Click  for 30% off a pro subscription)

Scores based on the cumulative total of positive and negative technical indicators signals over three time horizons on Trading View. Scores are weighted by multiplying total as follows: daily (x 1) weekly (x 2), and monthly (x 3). 

  • Trading signals have turned overwhelmingly positive for wide, general indexes including SPY, VTI, VEA.
  • Tech index (QQQ) has improved significantly since last week
  • VIX has fallen further, with a negative score indicating bearish sentiment towards volatility
OldProf’s Risk Analysis

Each week OldProf takes a look at a variety of sources to gauge overall market risk on both a short and long-term basis. He tracks a handful of indexes, economic indicators from respected sources, and volatility indicators. His weekly updates include a discussion of events with potential to effect markets, as well as general insight. Highly recommended reading.

This week, OldProf indicates a negative turn for short term trading conditions, while the long-term outlook remains unchanged.


Short-term trading conditions have turned negative.

The long-term fundamentals and outlook are little changed. The long-term technical health is back to strongly bullish.

This comes despite genuine positive surprises in earnings reports:

Corporate earnings continue to exceed expectations. This is especially interesting because of the unusual pattern this quarter. Expectations were not reduced significantly before the reports. These are true surprises. FactSet calls it the highest beat rate since they began compiling data in 2008.”

He also discusses how volatility effects trading vs investing, mentioning:

if stocks declined another 14%, would it tempt you to buy? If so, get your shopping list ready. The forward P/E on the S&P 500 has gone from 18.6 to 16.

Most people focus on price, not value, so these “sideways corrections” often go unnoticed.

StockTrader Recap

Mark Hanna publishes a weekly Market Recap full of charts and insight on news and market trends at StockTrader.

This week, Hanna writes that short-term conditions have further worsened, with long-term conditions remaining positive.

The indexes continue to mark time range bound at lower levels (with moderately high volatility) which should be a concern for bulls until it changes. Unlike consolidation after a move up, this is consolidation after a selloff which is not usually bullish.

Short term: A lot of consolidation at lower levels. That is a concern for bulls. More tests of the 200 day moving average – also not great.

Long term: Still very positive for the “buy and never sell” crowd.

Technical Update

Hacked (subscription-only) publishes a weekly technical update on U.S. indices with a weekly analysis of the S&P 500, NASDAQ, and DJIA, as well as a general market outlook. Other posts include trade recommendations (stocks, crypto & forex markets), worldwide-market updates, ICO analysis, and much more.

This week, Hacked’s outlook is “Neutral with a bullish bias”, which is more positive than last week’s “bearish bias.” There’s short and long term concern if SPX and QQQ break immediate term supports, yet they write “Further bullish momentum likely in the short-term.” More info on support levels in the weekly update.

Articles of note
The biggest companies focus on Customer Experience

Ben Thompson writes on the differences between Apple and Amazon, two companies closing in on $1 trillion valuations.

I mean it when I say these companies are the complete opposite: Apple sells products it makes; Amazon sells products made by anyone and everyone. Apple brags about focus; Amazon calls itself “The Everything Store.” Apple is a product company that struggles at services; Amazon is a services company that struggles at product. Apple has the highest margins and profits in the world; Amazon brags that other’s margin is their opportunity, and until recently, barely registered any profits at all. And, underlying all of this, Apple is an extreme example of a functional organization, and Amazon an extreme example of a divisional one.

Despite those differences, there is a commonality in a focus on customer experience.

Both, taken together, are a reminder that there is no one right organizational structure, product focus, or development cycle: what matters is that they all fit together, with a business model to match. That is where Apple and Amazon are arguable more alike than not: both are incredibly aligned in all aspects of their business. What makes them truly similar, though, is the end goal of that alignment: the customer experience.

More VC love for Canada

Like Brad Feld, venture capitalist (and prolific blogger) Fred Wilson is very positive on Canada.

More importantly, the talent pool in Canada is rich. Canadians are well educated and there are a number of very strong engineering schools in Canada. All of our portfolio companies that have engineering teams in Canada claim they get higher quality and retention in those teams than the ones they operate in the US.

So I’m bullish on Canada and have been since we started investing here almost ten years ago. And unlike the US, Canada has the wind behind it’s back in tech right now.

Tesla is not a tech-company

Scott Galloway writes that Tesla is an automaker and shouldn’t be considered a tech company.

Tesla has an amazing product, but has been mistaken by investors as an internet firm. Tesla lacks the frictionless networking effects of a Google or Facebook and doesn’t have the Hermés-like margins of an Apple. Yet, it’s trading at a valuation more reflective of a firm that can scale like a Facebook or generate the profits of an Apple.

His outlook for the stock isn’t good:

This means by the end of the year Tesla analysts will begin wringing their hands over liquidity concerns and dilution. This fear, coupled with rising interest rates, could spook bondholders and result in the equity being the tail of the whip as enterprise value drops.

Lumber Gains

Howard Lindzon mentioned “peak lumber” in a recent post. Here are more numbers to show the change from Bill McBride at Calculated Risk.

Here is another monthly update on framing lumber prices. Early in 2013 lumber prices came close to the housing bubble highs – and now prices are well above the bubble highs.

Final Thoughts

Reports like this make me question living the SF Bay Area.

Let’s state it plainly: The Bay Area must increase its total housing stock by 50 percent over the next 20 years to bring affordability down to a reasonable level.

That’s certainly not going to happen. Even if it did, it’s hard to imagine transit would expand to accommodate that number of people.

Is the artisan trend a precursor to a Big Tech backlash?

In the Economist’s 1843 magazine, Ryan Avent writes about the resurgence of the “artisan” culture in Crafting a life:

Before the Industrial Revolution, the craft economy was simply the economy. Clothing, processed food, furniture, wood and iron tools were all made by hand, using simple equipment, one unique batch at a time. Artisans learned their trade through years of observing experts, within the family or in a structured apprenticeship. The quality of both the instruction and the finished products was highly variable. There was virtually no opportunity for mass education in trades, nor a chance for better producers to capture increased market share by scaling up production.

The Atlantic ran a similar piece recently Craft Beer Is the Strangest, Happiest Economic Story in America.

At the same time, the number of public companies has decreased and the “Big 4” tech companies make up 24% of the market cap of $SPY. Some amazing numbers, per Scott Galloway in Esquire:

Over the past decade, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google—or, as I call them, “the Four”—have aggregated more economic value and influence than nearly any other commercial entity in history. Together, they have a market capitalization of $2.8 trillion (the GDP of France), a staggering 24 percent share of the S&P 500 Top 50, close to the value of every stock traded on the Nasdaq in 2001.

How big are they? Consider that Amazon, with a market cap of $591 billion, is worth more to the stock market than Walmart, Costco, T. J. Maxx, Target, Ross, Best Buy, Ulta, Kohl’s, Nordstrom, Macy’s, Bed Bath & Beyond, Saks/Lord & Taylor, Dillard’s, JCPenney, and Sears combined.

Meanwhile, Facebook and Google (now known as Alphabet) are together worth $1.3 trillion. You could merge the world’s top five advertising agencies (WPP, Omnicom, Publicis, IPG, and Dentsu) with five major media companies (Disney, Time Warner, 21st Century Fox, CBS, and Viacom) and still need to add five major communications companies (AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, Charter, and Dish) to get only 90 percent of what Google and Facebook are worth together.

And what of Apple? With a market cap of nearly $900 billion, Apple is the most valuable public company. Even more remarkable is that the company registers profit margins of 32 percent, closer to luxury brands Hermès (35 percent) and Ferrari (29 percent) than peers in electronics. In 2016, Apple brought in $46 billion in profits, a haul larger than that of any other American company, including JPMorgan Chase, Johnson & Johnson, and Wells Fargo. What’s more, Apple’s profits were greater than the revenues of either Coca- Cola or Facebook. This quarter, it will clock nearly twice the profits that Amazon has produced in its history.

Will the trend of the big getting bigger continue? Or is there enough of a Big Tech backlash to make things start regressing to more normalized levels?

We’re certainly not making a call and will continue to look for further evidence.