Monday, June 12, 2017

What Happened Friday? A Shaky Trend Is Developing

Strangely enough, the skyrocketing NASDAQ took a serve turn for the worse on Friday, dropping a massive 113 points at the same time the Dow was setting a new record with an 89-point gain and the NYSE Composite tacked on 65 points.

What drove the NASDAQ to its knees on Friday were the stocks known as FAANGs - Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and Google - taking hits to their massively-overvalued share prices.

Here's the ugly reality
Facebook (FB) -5.11 (-3.30%); Apple (AAPL) -6.01 (-3.88%); Amazon (AMZN) -31.96 (-3.16%); Netflix (NFLX) -7.85 (-4.73%); Alphabet (parent of Google) (GOOG) -33.58 (-3.41%).

One-day, three-to-five-percent declines in any equity is usually a big deal. Having all of these institutionally-widely held stocks take a nosedive like that on a single day is a large, red, flashing warning sign that something is fundamentally wrong with the market, the economy, maybe even the world.

These shares weren't dumped all at once because somebody was taking profits. Volume was three times normal. Everybody was booking gains, and probably with good reason. The price/earning ratios for these tech darlings are unsustainable. Netflix leads the way with a P/E of 204, followed by Amazon, at 184, according to Yahoo Finance. Google seems modest by comparison, at 32. Facebook is 38, and Apple looks downright cheap with a P/E around 17.

So, only two of these stocks are wickedly overpriced, using standard metrics, but they all suffer some similar characteristics: They are all tech companies, based on the West coast, run by billionaire founders (excepting Apple, though Tim Cook was surely an heir apparent to Steve Jobs). The only other company that comes to mind with these characteristics is Microsoft (MSFT). The company founded by Bill Gates took a pretty good hit on Friday, down 1.63 (-2.27%).

Does this suggest that the "big one" is about to shake out the left coast, battering California from LA to San Jose with aftershocks up the coast to Seattle? And just how would anybody know that? OK, that theory falls into the category of tin-foil hat conspiracy theory, but, if Cali shakes, rattles and rolls someday soon, Money Daily will take credit for calling it (that's a joke, son).

Outside of Friday's tumult, general economic data has not been encouraging. First quarter GDP was 1.2% (second estimate), which is pretty close to stall speed. The US - and largely the global - economy has been anything but robust since the Great Financial Crisis (GFC) of 2008-09. Captains of finance at places like the World Bank, the Fed, ECB, and elsewhere have been touting "recovery" for eight years, wherein none, in fact, has occurred, unless one peers only at stock charts all day. While stocks have soared on easy money accommodation, he same cannot be said of Main Street's outlook. Retail stores are closing everywhere in America, small business has already been dumped into the trash bin of history, and new company creation has hit a 27-year low. Additionally, the Fed is hell-bent on raising rates for the second time this year when the FOMC meets on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week.

What's troubling about the fall of the FAANGs is that these companies have largely benefitted off the backs of consumers, monopolizing markets and cannibalizing profits to the C-suite executives. Now, the largest shareholders - pension, mutual, and hedge funds - may be taking their money elsewhere, either to cash, bonds, or, maybe just to more stolid, established, dividend-paying stocks. It's tough to know, groupthink among the elites being difficult to gauge or define.

Whatever the case, with the smallish losses on the Dow and S&P earlier in the week followed by a fallout in the most speculative stocks establishes a trend, which, for now, we can only identify as "shaky."

With most stocks and indices hovering near all-time highs, shaky is not a word one would normally associate with risk-taking. The time to run is when the avalanche is first seen at the top of the mountain, not when it barrels into the lodge.

At the Close, 6/9/17:
Dow: 21,271.97, +89.44 (0.42%)
NASDAQ 6,207.92, -113.85 (-1.80%)
S&P 500 2,431.77, -2.02 (-0.08%)
NYSE Composite: 11,744.73, +65.78 (0.56%)

For the Week:
Dow: +65.68 (0.31%)
NASDAQ: -97.88 (-1.55%)
S&P 500: -7.30 (-0.30%)
NYSE Composite: +26.03 (0.22%)
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