Global Risks

  • 31 Jan
    Industrials are rebounding; could OSK be a good opportunity?

    Industrials are rebounding; could OSK be a good opportunity?

    As the market has rebounded from the end of December until now, the Industrial sector has rebounded from declines around 25% to reclaim about half of the distance lost as measured by the S&P 500 Industrial Sector SPDR (XLI) since the beginning of the year. At the beginning of the week, you might have thought that this was a sector to stay away from after 600-lb. gorilla Caterpillar Inc. (CAT) cited lower demand in China as cause for missing forecasts in their latest earnings report. You might want to stay away from CAT for the time being; but I think there are better opportunities to be had by focusing on stocks that aren’t as broadly exposed to global risk. More →

  • 14 Dec
    Why the S&P 500 could be past the “last gasp” stage of a long bull market

    Why the S&P 500 could be past the “last gasp” stage of a long bull market

    2018 has marked a very interesting year for the stock market. After a year of practically uninterrupted increases in stock prices in 2017, where every small dip in price provided a new opportunity to jump back in and made the market look like easy money, 2018 has been anything but predictable. Geopolitical concerns like Brexit, trade tensions between the U.S. and its largest trading partners, and speculation about the sustainability of historically low interest rates and global economic health have all had their day in court. More →

  • 20 Sep
    Want to get defensive? D is an undervalued Utility stock you should pay attention to

    Want to get defensive? D is an undervalued Utility stock you should pay attention to

    A basic tenet of economic and market analysis asserts that the longer a bull market lasts, the more likely it becomes to experience a significant reversal. It may seem strange to some to be writing about a potential downturn when most reports indicate that the U.S. economy continues to be healthy and strong; but one of the early indications that a significant shift from expansion to contraction, and consequent bearish conditions in the financials market often comes when risks begin to increase and appear in unexpected areas.

    One of those risks comes from the simple, extremely extended state of the current market and U.S. economy, which is now well into its ninth year and beginning to move into historically unprecedented territory. No bull market lasts forever; it will inevitably shift to the bearish side just as bearish markets will eventually, and inevitably swing back to the upside. Another potential risk that most did not anticipate before the beginning of 2018 was the threat of global trade war; and yet the Trump administration announced a new set of $200 billion worth in tariffs against China. And while the government continues to negotiate with Canada and the European Union, it is also true that tariffs against those governments and Mexico persist as the U.S. maintains its hard line. The effects of tariffs against those countries, and the retaliatory tariffs they have imposed on the U.S., still hasn’t been seen, but that doesn’t mean the threat isn’t real, only that it could take longer to become apparent.

    A smart investor takes steps to stay engaged in the market while bullish conditions persist, while at the same time looking for ways to minimize risk exposure. One method is to focus on industries whose businesses aren’t subject to the same cyclicality most pockets of the economy experience. One of those industries is the Electric Utilities industry, where the largest and most-established companies continue to maintain healthy revenue streams even when the economy suffers. The industry has been one of the strongest performers in the market of late, increasing about 15% from a February bottom and staging what is now an intermediate upward trend from that point.

    One of the largest players in the industry is Dominion Energy Inc. (D), a company that has followed that broader trend to an increase of about 12% over the same period. The really interesting part of this stock’s story is that despite its bullish performance so far this year, the stock remains significantly undervalued, offering a sizable value-oriented opportunity over the long term on a high-dividend stock with a solid financial base.

    Fundamental and Value Profile

    Dominion Energy, Inc., formerly Dominion Resources, Inc., is a producer and transporter of energy. Dominion is focused on its investment in regulated electric generation, transmission and distribution and regulated natural gas transmission and distribution infrastructure. It operates through three segments: Dominion Virginia Power operating segment (DVP), Dominion Generation, Dominion Energy, and Corporate and Other. The DVP segment includes regulated electric distribution and regulated electric transmission. The Dominion Generation segment includes regulated electric fleet and merchant electric fleet. The Dominion Energy segment includes gas transmission and storage, gas gathering and processing, liquefied natural gas import and storage, and nonregulated retail energy marketing. As of December 31, 2016, Dominion served utility and retail energy customers, and operated an underground natural gas storage system with approximately one trillion cubic feet of storage capacity. D’s current market cap is $46.2 billion.

    • Earnings and Sales Growth: Over the last twelve months, earnings increased by more than 23% while revenues posted an increase of almost 10%. In the last quarter, earnings declined 24% versus the quarter prior, while revenues dropped about 11%. The company operates with an impressive margin profile, with Net Income running at about 22.5% of Revenues for the last twelve months, and 14.5% in the last quarter.
    • Free Cash Flow: D’s free cash flow has been negative for more than four years, but has been increasing steadily since mid-2016, when it bottomed at more than -$2 billion to its current level at about $110 million in the last quarter. That’s a positive increase of nearly $1.9 billion, or 95% in the last two years. Negative free cash flow generally isn’t a positive, but it also hasn’t been unusual for the industry in the last few years. The more important point is the upward direction D’s free cash flow trend.
    • Debt to Equity: D has a debt/equity ratio of 1.6, which is higher than I normally prefer to see, but is also not unusual for utility stocks. The company’s balance sheet demonstrates their operating profits are more than adequate to service their debt.
    • Dividend: D pays an annual dividend of $3.34 per share, which translates to an annual yield of about 4.72% at the stock’s current price. That’s better than the average yield of the S&P 500 or even of 30-year Treasury notes, which investors also like to gravitate to when they perceive greater risk in the marketplace.
    • Price/Book Ratio: there are a lot of ways to measure how much a stock should be worth; but one of the simplest methods that I like uses the stock’s Book Value, which for D is $30.65 per share and translates to a Price/Book ratio of 2.3 at the stock’s current price. Their historical average Price/Book ratio is 3.36, which suggests the stock is trading right now at a discount of about 46%, and that puts the stock’s long-term target at nearly $103 per share. That is well above the stock’s all-time high, reached earlier this year a bit above $85 per share, but is also makes that high – which translates to a long-term upside opportunity of more than 20%.

    Technical Profile

    Here’s a look at the stock’s latest technical chart.


    • Current Price Action/Trends and Pivots: The red diagonal line measures the length of the stock’s downward trend from December 2017 to its low in June of this year; it also informs the Fibonacci trend retracement lines shown on the right side of the chart. Since finding that bottom at around $61.50, the stock has increased about 15%. Since August, the stock has moved into a narrow, sideways range that technical traders like to consider a consolidation range. Support is around $70, and resistance is about $72.50.
    • Near-term Keys: The thing about a narrow trading range such as that maintained right now by D is that it makes defining technical signal points pretty easy. A break above $72.50 could mark an interesting opportunity to buy the stock or to work with call options for a short-term bullish trade, while a drop below $70 could provide a good opportunity for a bearish trade by shorting the stock or working with put options. If you like the stock’s value proposition right now, the sideways range also provides a good opportunity to take a long position and take advantage of the passive income offered by its healthy dividend yield.

  • 17 Sep
    Trade fears mean BWA is STILL a screaming buy

    Trade fears mean BWA is STILL a screaming buy

    The Trump administration’s aggressive trade policies with its partners have had global markets on edge for months. And even as headway is being made with Mexico, and pressure is intensifying on Canada to sign the agreement to redo NAFTA by the end of the month, and talks continue with the European Union, concerns and worries persist in particular over how quickly any kind of deal can or will be made with China, America’s largest trade partner. Those concerns have kept pressure on global markets, which also means that stocks in industries that are the most directly impacted by tariffs have experienced the greatest volatility. Stocks in the auto industry, or related to it, for example are among the ones that have seen the biggest swings in price.

    BorgWarner Inc. (BWA) is a good example. While the stock is down about 13.3% year-to-date, it’s actually down a little over 28% since reaching an all-time high in mid-January. I first wrote about this stock a month ago, with the stock at practically the same price it is at right now. That is one of the things that makes the stock interesting right now; while trade war fears have persisted since early spring, the stock has stabilized since July in the mid-$40 range. That has opened an interesting technical opportunity on a fundamentally very solid stock, since the longer the stabilization range holds, the more likely it is to break out of it and rally back to the upside.

    BWA’s fundamental profile is better than many of its brethren in the Auto Components industry, with good cash flow, conservative debt levels and operating margins that have actually improved over the last year despite increasing price pressures. Those pressures include exposure to foreign trade risk, but that is an element that up to this point has yet to be actually be felt. It is true that the stock isn’t immune to the potential long-term effects of trade conflict, but it is also true that most of those effects for now are inferred. If Canada yields as many seem to expect to pressure from the U.S. and from Mexico to join their agreement, look for the market to respond positively, with momentum swinging in favor of the Trump administration versus the E.U. and China. Either way, at its current prices, BWA offers an incredibly attractive value proposition right now.

    Fundamental and Value Profile

    BorgWarner Inc. is engaged in providing technology solutions for combustion, hybrid and electric vehicles. The Company’s segments include Engine and Drivetrain. The Engine segment’s products include turbochargers, timing devices and chains, emissions systems and thermal systems. The Engine segment develops and manufactures products for gasoline and diesel engines, and alternative powertrains. The Drivetrain segment’s products include transmission components and systems, all-wheel drive (AWD) torque transfer systems and rotating electrical devices. The Company’s products are manufactured and sold across the world, primarily to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) of light vehicles (passenger cars, sport-utility vehicles (SUVs), vans and light trucks). The Company’s products are also sold to other OEMs of commercial vehicles (medium-duty trucks, heavy-duty trucks and buses) and off-highway vehicles (agricultural and construction machinery and marine applications. BWA’s current market cap is $9.4 billion.

    • Earnings and Sales Growth: Over the last twelve months, earnings increased by almost 23% while revenues posted an increase of nearly 14%. In the last quarter, the increase in earnings was more modest at a little over 7%, while sales declined by 3.24%. The company operates with a narrow margin profile, with Net Income running at only about 5% of Revenues for the last twelve months; however this measurement nearly doubled to 10% in the last quarter.
    • Free Cash Flow: BWA’s free cash flow is healthy, at a more than $515 million. While the number declined since the beginning of the year, it has increased since late 2015 from only about $150 million.
    • Debt to Equity: BWA has a debt/equity ratio of .52. This number reflects the company’s manageable debt levels. The company’s balance sheet indicates operating profits are sufficient to service the debt they have.
    • Dividend: BWA pays an annual dividend of $.68 per share, which translates to an annual yield of about 1.5% at the stock’s current price.
    • Price/Book Ratio: there are a lot of ways to measure how much a stock should be worth; but one of the simplest methods that I like uses the stock’s Book Value, which for BWA is $19.41 per share and translates to a Price/Book ratio of 2.31 at the stock’s current price. Their historical average Price/Book ratio is 2.96. That suggests the stock is trading right now at a discount of a little over 28%, and that puts the stock’s long-term target above $57 per share. Additionally, the stock is currently trading more than 78% below its historical Price/Cash Flow ratio. The stock’s all-time high was reached in mid-January of this year at around $58, which means projecting a 75% increase in the stock may be speculative, especially under current market conditions; however it also suggests there is a good argument for the stock to retest its highs, especially if the broader market can maintain its long-term upward bullish strength.

    Technical Profile

    Here’s a look at the stock’s latest technical chart.


    • Current Price Action/Trends and Pivots: The red diagonal line measures the length of the stock’s downward trend from mid-April to its bottom in July of this year; it also informs the Fibonacci trend retracement lines shown on the right side of the chart. The stock found major support, and the end of its downward trend around $42 in early July, and has used that price area as a pivot low support point on multiple occasions since then. The top end of its range since then is around $46 per share, and the stock would need to break above that level to stage a legitimate trend reversal, with incremental resistance points around $48 and $50.
    • Near-term Keys: If you’re a short-term trader looking for a good opportunity with this stock, a good signal to buy the stock or to work with call options would come if the stock breaks above $46 per share. The stock’s current support at around $42 per share also marks an important signal point for a potential bearish set up, as a break below that point would be a good time to consider shorting the stock or working with put options. If you’re willing to work with a long-term time horizon, and you don’t mind the potential volatility that could come with continued market uncertainty and trade concerns, its current price also offers an excellent starting point for a long-term, value-based opportunity.

  • 08 Aug
    The S&P 500 is about to hit a new all-time high. How much upside can you expect?

    The S&P 500 is about to hit a new all-time high. How much upside can you expect?

    Since the beginning of July, the market has shown quite a bit of bullish momentum. As of this writing, the S&P 500 (SPY) has rallied more than 150 points from a pivot low in late June in the 2,700 area – a total gain in a little over a month of 9%. The index is now poised to match, and quite possibly exceed the highs it reached in late January. For most technical traders, a new high marks a break above resistance that should give the market momentum to keep pushing even higher. If you’re not the type of person, however to simply “leap before you look,” then like me, you want to try to figure out how much room is left.

    How much upside remains in the market isn’t an easy question to answer, simply because nobody can make anything more than a semi-educated guess about future events – or the way the investing world will interpret them. The same technical traders who look for new all-time highs to extend trends even further also like to use historical price action to come up with estimates. Economists and fundamental investors try to use geopolitical and macroeconomic data and events to identify keys and trends. I hesitate to say that any one approach is better than another. Instead, I like to consider a combination of a couple of different technical techniques, along with economic and, yes, even geopolitical conditions to try to come to my own opinion.

    I spent some time this morning going over some of that data, and here’s what my early conclusions are. Keep in mind, these are just a few of my own best attempts to make a semi-educated guess, so you can take it or leave it as you wish.

    Some Fuzzy Math

    I’ll start by giving you a look at a technical chart of the S&P 500.


    There are a couple of elements of this chart that I think are useful right now. The first is the Relative Strength (RSI) indicator shown in the lower portion of the chart. RSI is a sentiment and momentum indicator that oscillates between upper and lower extremes to gauge a trend’s strength and give traders a way to estimate the likelihood the trend will continue or reverse. At the upper extremes (above 70), reversal risk to the downside is increased, while at the lower extremes (below 30), the opposite is true. The other element that comes into play about RSI is that stocks will often continue to follow their current trend even as RSI hovers near, or even beyond extreme levels. That reality is what makes RSI interesting to me right now. Even as the S&P 500 is pushing near to the all-time high it set in January of this year, RSI remains just a little below its uppermost extreme. It has also managed to oscillate within its upper and lower extremes since that high was reached in January, with its general pattern of highs and lows since April closely approximating the pattern of the index. That is a confirmation of the market’s trend over the last four months, and the fact that the indicator still hasn’t pierced its upper extreme band suggests there could be more room to run.

    At this point, it’s worth taking a moment to discuss a basic tenet of trend-based analysis. Trends tend to move in what I like to think of as stages. Typically speaking, most long-term trends can be broken into three different stages. Stage 1 is the earliest portion of a trend, when the market begins to reverse from an extreme or high or low. That’s the hardest stage to recognize, simply because it moves against the grain of the current longer trend, when most people will simply see that counter move as a minor correction or pullback within that trend. Stage 2 is the longest portion of a trend, and the area where the most money is likely to be made. It’s where the new trend is easiest to identify, and so more and more investors jump on board in that direction, making it easier and simpler to maintain. Stage 3 is the latest stage of the trend, and what I like of as the “last gasp” stage of that long-term trend. There is often still quite a bit of room to move along the trend in this stage, and so this stage can still yield very profitable results; but it also means that reversal risk is greatly heightened during this stage.

    The challenge about the stages of a trend is predicting how long any given stage will last. Stage 2 can last 4 to 5 years in many cases, while Stages 1 and 3 are usually considerably shorter. The problem is that word – usually. I’ve been saying the market is in Stage 3 of its long-term upward trend for more than two years, which is undoubtedly longer than that stage should last. I maintain that attitude, however, simply because I think it is smarter to estimate conservatively; plan for the best, but be prepared for the worst. That means that I want to recognize and take advantage of upside opportunity when it’s there, but be ready and positioned to react quickly and effectively when the market reverses back the other way.

    If you operate on the idea that the market is in Stage 3, any upside that remains should be somewhat limited. That is where the “291.78 Total Distance” estimate I highlighted on the chart comes into play. Some people will take the total distance of the last market correction to estimate how far the market’s new opportunity will be after a new high is reached. I think it’s reasonable to use the total distance as a reference point, but I prefer to think in somewhat more conservative terms.

    Another technical method of market analysis that I have learned to appreciate over the course of my years in the market is Fibonacci analysis. It’s pretty fascinating to see how market trends, and their swings from high to low correspond with Fibonacci mathematics. Those calculations can also be used to estimate a market’s extension of a trend. Here’s what we get if we apply the .618 Fibonacci ratio to the total distance of the market’s correction from January to April of this year:

    291.78 X .618 = 180.32

    We can add this number (roughly 62% of the total size of the correction) to the last market high to get an estimate of how much further the market could run if the resistance from that high is broken.

    2,872.87 + 180.32 = 3,052.87

    180.32 / 2,872.87 = 6.27% total upside

    Forecasting broad market upside of about 6% if the market makes a new high seems like a pretty conservative estimate; if it is even remotely close to correct, that should translate to some pretty healthy gains on individual stocks. How long that kind of a run will take is anybody’s guess. I decided to look back at the last two bull markets to gauge how long Stage 3 of their respective long-term trends lasted.

    The bull market that ran from 2002 to 2007 hit a high point in October 2007 before beginning its reversal; the “last gasp”, final stage of that five-year trend began in August, meaning that Stage 3 in that case covered about a two-month period of time. Prior to that, the March 2000 high that marked the end of the “dot-com boom” started its “last gasp” push in February of the same year. Saying the market could move about 6% in one to two months isn’t unreasonable given the increased level of volatility we’ve seen from the market this year; but I also think it’s useful to think about how long it has taken the market to recover from its latest correction (assuming, of course, that a new high is actually made). The bottom came in April, so a conservative estimate could suggest that it may take between 2 to 4 months. That certainly implies the market’s trend could last through the rest of the year, or possibly even longer since my estimate intentionally errs on the conservative side.

    There are some important elements from a fundamental and economic view that I think support the idea the market has some room and reason to run a little longer. Earnings continue to come in generally strong, and most economic reports (jobs, housing etc.) are also showing pretty broad-based strength. A healthy economy should generally lend itself well to continued strength in the stock market. While interest rates are rising, the Fed has maintained a conservative pace and degree of those increases, and the economy seems to following that lead pretty well. As they currently stand, interest rates remain historically low despite the increases we’ve seen so far. That is also a positive, bullish indicator.

    There are risks to my forecast. Frankly, many come from the geopolitical arena at this stage. Trade war concerns are still on everybody’s mind, and the Trump administration’s reimposition of economic sanctions on Iran could put a cap on oil supply that could drive oil prices near to their historical highs. While corporate earnings have yet to really show a negative impact from tariffs between the U.S. and its trading partners, more and more CEO’s are starting to cite tariffs as a risk. If that risk starts to manifest itself in an actual deterioration of revenues, and of earnings, the market can be expected to react negatively. Increased oil prices, at the extreme, could have the net effect of muting demand for a wide range of goods all over the globe. Real estate prices in many parts of the U.S. have also been showing some remarkable increases over the last year or so as well, while wage gains have generally been quite muted; at some point, those increases, along with increasing interest rates could very well put home ownership – a big indicator of broad economic strength – out of the reach of the average working person.

    Is there good upside left in the market? I think there is. I also think we have to be careful to factor risk into our evaluation and our investment decisions. Be conservative and selective about how you jump into a new opportunity, and plan ahead about how long you intend to stay or how much gain you want to chase. Put a plan in place to limit your downside risk if you’re proven wrong and the market turns against you, and limit the size of the new positions you take.

  • 15 Jun
    U.S.-China trade war could really hurt WMT

    U.S.-China trade war could really hurt WMT

    This morning marked the opening of yet another chapter in the drama that is U.S. trade diplomacy. The Trump administration announced this morning that U.S. Customs and Border Protection will begin to collect tariffs on the first $34 billion worth of Chines imported goods on July 6. This is the next step in the implementation of duties first announced in March of this year on approximately 1,300 different finished goods imported to the U.S. by its largest trading partner. The final $16 billion of a proposed $50 billion total of tariffs is still under review.

    This is a clear escalation of the two nation’s ongoing trade dispute, and not surprisingly China responded quickly, saying that they will act quickly to “take necessary measures to defend our legitimate rights and interests.” They have previously threatened their own set of tariffs on a wide ranging list of U.S. product ranging from soybeans and meat to whiskey, airplanes and cars.

    It’s one thing to watch the news and listen to talking heads wring their hands and bemoan the negative effects that an extended trade war would have on economic growth. And that’s not to say that they’re wrong; over the long-term, a trade war could bleed into virtually every part of the U.S. economy. Keep in mind that virtually every kind of finished product uses steel or aluminum, which is the basis for the first round of tariffs that Trump first started talking about three months ago. The real question for the average American is where those negative effects are most likely to be seen hitting their wallet. I think one of the first, and most vulnerable places can be found not far from where you live. Walmart Inc. (WMT) sources 75% of its merchandise from China, and that puts one of the largest retailers in the country literally on the cutting edge of what is happening right now.

    This isn’t an unrealistic argument; one of the ways WMT has always differentiated itself from its competitors is as the low-cost leader for consumers. The longer a trade war takes to find a resolution, the more their costs on the vast majority of goods that fill their shelves are going to rise. As you’ll see below, WMT simply doesn’t have much ability to absorb those costs to keep them from passing through to their customers. That begs a question that only each customer can answer: if that item – whether it be a shirt, a power tool, a toy, or an electronic gadget – that you’re used to getting from WMT costs 25% or more than it used to, are you going to be more or less likely to buy it?

    Current consumer trends suggest that in the case of luxury items – say, an $80 shirt – a lot of consumers that are already willing to pay that much for a shirt will probably also pay $90 to $100 for the same item. That is usually less true when the conversation shifts instead to bargain-priced items, like a $20 shirt. That puts WMT in the very difficult position of watching its operating margins erode even more by absorbing increasing costs to keep sales high or pass those costs to their customers, who may simply choose not to make the same purchases they used to. Neither scenario works out very favorably for the company’s bottom line.

    Fundamental and Value Profile

    Walmart Inc., formerly Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., is engaged in the operation of retail, wholesale and other units in various formats around the world. The Company offers an assortment of merchandise and services at everyday low prices (EDLP). The Company operates through three segments: Walmart U.S., Walmart International and Sam’s Club. The Walmart U.S. segment includes the Company’s mass merchant concept in the United States operating under the Walmart brands, as well as digital retail. The Walmart International segment consists of the Company’s operations outside of the United States, including various retail Websites. The Sam’s Club segment includes the warehouse membership clubs in the United States, as well as The Company operates approximately 11,600 stores under 59 banners in 28 countries and e-commerce Websites in 11 countries. WMT has a current market cap of $246 billion.

    • Earnings and Sales Growth: Over the last twelve months, earnings increased by 14%, while sales grew a little over 4%. It’s hard for a company to grow earnings faster than sales, and generally not sustainable over time. I do take the difference, however as a good sign that management is doing a good job of maximizing their business operations. Diving a little deeper, however provides a good look at the reason you should be concerned about increasing costs from tariffs on Chinese goods. As of the company’s last earnings report, WMT had more than $500 billion in revenue, with net income of almost $9 billion. Net income is calculated by subtracting the costs of doing business from revenues, which it means it provides the baseline for the earnings per share number you and I use to measure a stock’s profitability. Comparing net income to total revenues gives you an idea about what kind of profit margin the company is working with. For WMT, that number is only 1.77%, a very low number that implies they work with very narrow operating margins.
    • Operating Trends: WMT has been doing a great job of growing revenues, and since late 2014 they’ve grown from about $470 billion to their current level of a little over $500 billion. Over the same period, the reverse is true about their net income, which has dropped more than 50% from a high a little above $17 billion to just under $9 billion currently. That negative trend is also reflected in the decline of net income as percentage of revenue, which was about 3.6% at the end of 2013 but, as already observed is now only 1.77%. The company’s margins have already been under considerable pressure for some time, which further bolsters the argument they just don’t have a lot of wiggle room to work with.
    • Debt to Equity: the company’s debt to equity ratio is .46, which is low and should generally be quite manageable. WMT has also done a good job decreasing their total long-term debt since the first quarter of 2014, from more than $45 billion to a current level of about $29.4 billion.
    • Dividend: WMT pays an annual dividend of $2.08 per share, which translates to an annual yield of 2.49% at the stock’s current price.
    • Price/Book Ratio: there are a lot of ways to measure how much a stock should be worth; but one of the simplest methods that I like uses the stock’s Book Value, which for WMT is $26.44 per share. At the stock’s current price, that translates to a Price/Book Ratio of 3.15. This is below the industry average, which is 4.0, but inline with the stock’s historical average, which to me suggests the stock is fairly value right now, with limited upside potential in the long-term.

    Technical Profile

    Here’s a look at the stock’s latest technical chart.

    • Current Price Action: The stock has declined from a high around $110 in January to its current level around $83. That’s a drop of more than 25%, which at first blush might look pretty good for a stock that a lot of value investors would say has a lot of stickiness; that is, they will continue to generate high revenues even if a healthy economy begins to struggle, because consumers will continue to spend their money there. That is a true statement when it comes to WMT, but as observed above, I think the risk comes from what will happen as their costs increase. Will they continue to generate attractive profits, or will their margins erode? The risk is much higher they will erode.
    • Trends and Pivots: I’ve drawn two lines to illustrate where I think the stock’s real downside lies right now. The horizontal red line is just below the stock’s current level at about $82 and appears to be acting as good support right now. The horizontal blue line is drawn at the stock’s multi-year low, which was reached in February of last year at around $66. The red bidirectional arrow emphasizing the $16 per share difference between the stock’s current price and that low point is, I think a clear indication of investor risk right now. That’s a downside risk of just a little less than 20% right now. I also see little reason – fundamental or technical – to suggest the stock should reverse the intermediate-term downward trend anytime soon, which means that risk right now is much higher than any potential reward.
    • Near-term Keys: Watch the stock’s movement carefully over the next few days. A move to $90 would mark a reversal the intermediate trend’s downward strength and would act as a good signal point for a good bullish trade, either by buying the stock or working with call options. On the other hand, a drop below $82 would mark a major support break, with a drop to the aforementioned $66 level likely before any new significant support is reached.

  • 21 May
    Here’s Why You Should Stop Chasing Returns & Focus On Managing Risk Instead

    Here’s Why You Should Stop Chasing Returns & Focus On Managing Risk Instead

    • Despite rising inflation, copper prices have been declining.
    • Higher interest rates are putting pressure on emerging markets and their $19 trillion of debt.
    • However, the best investing opportunities usually arise when things aren’t good.


    I was really bullish on copper when it was around $2 per pound a year ago, but now I’m not that bullish anymore as it is above $3. More →

  • 14 May
    Can You Hear The Economic Warning Bells Ringing?

    Can You Hear The Economic Warning Bells Ringing?

    A quick investment perspective on the current economic news will give us insight into what to do with our portfolio, what the best risk reward portfolio allocation is at this point in time, and what one can expect to happen.

    I’ll look at U.S. economic data, emerging market yields, and touch on Italy which is becoming a bigger and bigger risk.

    Economic Data – Strong, But Also Weak

    The headline consumer price index came in at 2.5% which is good, but might lead to higher interest rates which is a dance that has to stop at some point. More →

  • 18 Dec
    There Are Big Global Risks Out There – Here’s How To Invest For Them

    There Are Big Global Risks Out There – Here’s How To Invest For Them

    If there’s one thing that I’ve learned from my research on financial markets, it’s that you always have to expect the unexpected. Nothing is linear, everything works in cycles and what monetary policy makers say is usually wrong.

    Last week when the FED raised interest rates, Janet Yellen said: “We’re in a synchronized expansion. This is the first time in many years we’ve seen this.”

    That might be true, but the fact is that every economy today is a global economy and the global economy isn’t synchronized. At some point, it will crack somewhere as it always does. The important thing for us is to be prepared for something like that and to see how to best position our portfolios for the consequences that a financial shock might create. More →

  • 23 Nov
    The Stock Market Will Crash In 2018 – Here’s What Could Trigger It

    The Stock Market Will Crash In 2018 – Here’s What Could Trigger It

    • All indicators show a stock market crash is imminent, but what will the trigger be?
    • I’ll discuss what can happen and how bad it could get.
    • As for the timing of it, the best thing is to be prepared for anything.


    To see whether the stock market will crash in 2018 or not, we have to first see what makes a stock market crash and the best way to do that is to look at the 2001 and 2008 market crashes because the financial environment prior to those crashes resembles the current market environment. More →

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