Showing posts with label EK. Show all posts
Showing posts with label EK. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Correlation Trades Breaking Down: Decoupling, Distress or Distribution?; Kodak Prepares for Bankruptcy

There have been, for many months, certainties in global markets from which investors and speculators could readily rely upon and profit from. The most obvious of these is the straightforward relationship of the Euro and US stocks.

Whenever the Euro was positive against the US Dollar, stocks would post gains as well. Euro down, stocks down. A simple trade for those speculators adroit enough to move money quickly in and out of currencies and stocks. It also created a very nice hedge for monied investors with a keen sense for geo-politics and the movement of money.

Another of these correlation trades has been in effect for years, even decades. when the Dollar Index (^DXY) moved higher, the price of a barrel of oil would go lower, since oil and almost all other major commodities are priced in dollars. A stronger dollar would thus buy more oil, or wheat, or soybeans, for instance.

Today, however, these two stalwarts of the inner, holistic trade deviated from their seemingly-predetermined paths. The Euro was off sharply, but stocks finished with modest gains or were flat, nonetheless. And the Dollar Index was up nicely, (80.097 +0.434 0.54%), but oil marched higher despite the obvious overpricing and general lack of demand over the past two weeks.

The oil moves could be partially blamed on the Iranians and Europeans. Europe has set the parameters for a complete embargo of Iranian oil. For its part, Iran says it doesn't need to sell oil to europe as it has many other trading partners, China being the largest. The Iranians also say they can effectively shut down shipments of oil from other countries by blocking the Strait of Hormuz, disrupting the free flow of energy from the region to Western nations.

While that's all well and not-so-good, it still doesn't explain the dislocation of the Dollars-for-oil trade and is entirely based upon speculation.

As for the Euro and US stocks, it wasn't a large move away from the direct correlation, but notable. Then there's silver and gold, the two precious metals that should always move in tandem, as they have for maybe thousands of years. Gold was up, silver down on the day, making silver, already a cheap cousin, even cheaper and wildly undervalued compared to gold, where the standard gold-silver ratio has traditionally been somewhere between 12:1 and 16:1, now stands at a stunning 55:1. It has been higher over recent years as gold shot up much faster than silver, but, if global tensions are accelerating, both metals should become good bets short term, though it stands to reason that silver would appreciate at a much faster rate, as it did in the first four months of 2011.

All of that implies that both the gold and silver (and not to mention stocks, commodities and currencies) markets aren't rigged, a condition that reams of evidence over many years say is so.

OK, then what's up with these markets if correlation trades, usually among the most reliable and steady, continue to break down? Is it decoupling for Europe, global distress or some technical distribution which the markets haven't anticipated from a zero interest rate policy and massive money printing (in shady but effective forms) by central banks around the globe? If oil goes up as the Dollar Index improves, so will stocks, and the precious metals will do whatever the manipulators deem necessary. It's not yet a trend, but bears watching, because decoupling often is a harbinger of even more fractured conditions in markets, which would make perfect sense in this mad world.

Something else bearing watching is the anticipated disappearance of the Kodak moment. The film maker has been on the ropes for years as the company failed to develop a strategy shifting from film cameras to digital photography, and the stock has suffered badly, losing almost all value over the past decade. A Wall Street Journal report today that the company was preparing to file a chapter 11 bankruptcy either this month or by early February should they not find buyers for their digital patents - valued, dubiously, at over $1 billion - sent shares plummeting.

Shares of Eastman Kodak (EK) finished the day down 0.18, to 0.47, a 28% decline. The company has also received a delisting notice from the NYSE, as the price of the stock has traded below $1 for more than a month, in violation of exchange rules.

That the company would eventually commit corporate hari-kari should come as no surprise. The stock traded as high as the low 80s in the late 1990s, and dropped permanently below 60 when the dotcom boom went bust in 2000-2001. Since then, the losses have mounted and the share price decline has been precipitous. This is a dead company without a product or strategy, which has wiped out its dividend, shareholders, and soon, pensioners, sure to be shuffled off to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, another backhanded bailout by the US taxpayer.

Dow 12,418.42, +21.04 (0.17%)
NASDAQ 2,648.36, -0.36 (0.01%)
S&P 500 1,277.30, +0.24 (0.02%)
NYSE Composite 7,612.15, -12.17 (0.16%)
NASDAQ Volume 1,654,986,250
NYSE Volume 3,553,585,250
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 2475-3130
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 102-34
WTI crude oil: 103.22, +0.26
Gold: 1,612.70, +12.20
Silver: 29.10, -0.48

Monday, October 3, 2011

Stocks in Panic Mode; Bankruptcy Lines Forming: High-Low Indicator at Extreme; Social Fabric Shredding

The Markets

Stocks began the fourth quarter the same way they ended the third, with waves of selling on fears of a Greek default and recession in the US and Europe.

After an initial lift from fair economic data, especially the ISM index posting a 51.6 number after a 50.6 reading in August and August construction spending showing a 1.4% gain, US stocks drifted lower throughout the day, with the final onslaught taking the S&P 500 to a close of 1099.21, the first time the widely-watched index closed below 1100 since September 8, 2010 (1098.87) and well below the recent low of 1120.76 (August 10). The S&P now stands (or slouches, as the case may be) less than nine points from official bear market territory, which would commence at 1090.89. The S&P is down 12.6% for the year.

The other major indices are also closing in on bear market territory. Another day like today would send the NASDAQ down more than 20% from its April 29 highs. The Dow Jones Industrials are faring best of the bad lot, though still just 375 points from marking a bear market.

Losses began overnight in Asian markets and cascaded through Europe and into the Americas. Most European bourses have been in bear markets for more than a few months.

News flows from Europe were not encouraging as the 17 countries which are backing Greek bailout funds met again on Monday but failed to come to an agreement on the second tranche of aid to the failing EU member.

That sent stocks into negative territory for the remainder of the session, closing at the lows of the day on very heavy volume in a broad decline. All 12 sectors were lower on the day, led by capital goods, financials and energy. WTI crude oil closed at its lowest price in over a year, fueling speculation that lower gas prices are on the way as weather cools and demand falls.

Dow 10,655.30, -258.08 (2.36%)
NASDAQ 2,335.83, -79.57 (3.29%)
S&P 500 1,099.23, -32.19 (2.85%)
NYSE Compos 6,571.45, -220.20 (3.24%)
NASDAQ Volume 2,523,549,250
NYSE Volume 6,714,723,500
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 772-5877
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 19-1405
WTI crude oil: 77.61, -1.59
Gold: 1654.40, +29.60
Silver: 30.33, +0.36

After the bankruptcy filing of Swedish automaker Saab last month signaled the coming onrush of large corporate bankruptcies, three companies have been making news on that front.

Eastman Kodak (EK), which has hired the law firm of Jones Day to explore "reorganization" possibilities, rallied back strongly after Friday's stock collapse. The company's shares are at a bargain-basement level of 1.34, a 77% gain on the day. Reports that creditors and investors are speaking to advisors have surfaced as the company continues to burn through $600-700 million annually off their broken business model, negatively impacted by the advent of digital photography.

Shares of American Airlines (AMR) were halted today amid rumors of bankruptcy filing. The oldest US legacy carrier lost 33% today, closing at 1.98.

The banking sector continues to be rocked by the continuing mortgage morass, new regulations and now, computer glitches. Bank of America's website and online banking functions were unavailable to millions of customers for a long time over the past few days, frustrating and infuriating its customer base just days after announcing that debit card users would face a five-dollar-per-month fee beginning in January for the privilege of spending their own money. Shares of the nation's largest bank closed down 59 cents, at 5.53, the lowest price since the depths of the financial crisis, when the stock closed at 3.12 on March 6, 2009.

Along with the S&P 500 breaking below 1100, the number of new lows today was a screaming signal to "get out of Dodge" as quickly as possible. Those 1405 new lows are at a level not seen since autumn of 2008, when the entire financial system was on its knees and needed a $700 billion "fiX" courtesy of a deal ripped from US taxpayers by then-Treasury Secretary (thief) Hank Paulson and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke. No other indicator has been as reliable or accurate in picking crashes than the New high - New low indicator. According to the indication that has been flashing for weeks, a major down-leg is about to commence, especially with the NYSE, Dow, NASDAQ and S&P 500 all closing below support levels during the recent two-month slide.

This is a potentially world-shattering situation that has been developing for not just the past two months, but over the past three years. Stocks could free-fall as financial institutions in Europe, Asia and in the US face severe liquidity and solvency issues and sovereigns are unable to save them this time, concerned, rightfully so, with their own continued existence. The level of public distrust has risen to unprecedented levels. Over 700 people were arrested in New York, trapped on the Brooklyn Bridge (see video below) by New York City police funded by JP Morgan Chase.

This is only the tip of the news iceberg the mainstream media doesn't want the US public to see, hear or read. Peaceful protests in Boston, New York, St. Louis and Kansas City have taken on new life, resulted in mass arrests and are a threat to the ruling elite.

The entire human population of the planet is teetering on the brink of mass rioting and localized anarchy.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Third Quarter a Stinker for Stocks; NASDAQ, SP Down 14%

The Markets

The third quarter officially ended today on September 30, and, unlike the usual quarter-ending, window-dressing ramp job, stocks suffered through their worst day of the week, in a month and quarter that was one of the worst of recent memory - and there have been some bad ones, recently.

The Dow Jones Industrials ended the quarter off more than 12%. The S&P and NASDAQ were rocked lower by 14%.

In simple terms, anybody in an index fund with $100,000 at the end of June, now has somewhere between $86,000 and $88,000. That may not sound like much, but $12-14,000 is roughly equivalent to the wages for a minimum-wage worker for a year. That's not a good sign for the bottom income earners in American society, because it means that the "wealth creators" so often cited by Republican office-seekers, have one minimum wage job less than they can create, should they now choose to part with some of that hard-earned (and easily lost) cash.

On the day, stocks started lower, stabilized, but fell off a veritable cliff into the close. There was no window dressing, no PPT push, no ETF re-balancing or anything to keep stocks afloat into the close. Nobody seemed willing to take significant positions in stocks, even though the 4th quarter is historically the best for stocks. The levels of gloom and doom rival those of the disastrous 4th quarter of 2008, when the global financial crisis was first realized and stocks gyrated lower and lower and lower.

Not only were stocks affected negatively during the month and quarter, but most commodities also fell by extraordinary percentages, especially gold and silver, which were whacked roughly 16 and 25% respectively. There was no place to hide for even the most conservative investors. Yields on Treasuries fell like rocks off a precipice. Bond yields for the 2-year, 5-year and 10-year note fell 40-45% in the quarter. The benchmark 10-year note closed out the quarter at a yield of 1.90%. The 30-year bond was the best performer of an ugly bunch, with yields falling only 35% since the end of June.

Crude oil was down 17% in the quarter, though gas prices at the pump have barely matched the decline. With gas prices nearly $4.00 a gallon at the beginning of summer, the average price - if 17% is the expected decline - should be around $3.35, though the AAA Fuel Gauge Report has the national average at $3.44. For perspective on how high real gasoline prices are, the price at the same time last year was a celebratory $2.69.

In company news, Eastman Kodak (EK), once a proud member of the Dow 30, fell 54% on the day amid reports that the company had hired the law firm Jones Day to discuss reorganization plans or a bankruptcy filing. Shares of Eastman Kodak dropped 91 cents to close at 0.78, an historic low.

Bank of America (BAC) plans to begin charging debit card users a $5 monthly fee in January, 2012, due to changes in the amounts banks can charge merchants per debit card use. BAC finished the day 23 cents lower, at 6.12.

Big corporate bankruptcies are dead ahead, likely to commence in the fourth quarter and accelerate through the first three quarters of 2012. Third quarter earnings reports kick off on October 11, when Alcoa (AA) reports after the bell.

Thank goodness for the baseball playoffs and football. Yeesh!

Dow 10,913.38 240.60 (2.16%)
NASDAQ 2,415.40 65.36 (2.63%)
S&P 500 1,131.42 28.98 (2.50%)
NYSE Compos 6,791.65 183.26 (2.63%)
NASDAQ Volume 2,081,539,875.00
NYSE Volume 5,323,945,500
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 1442-5118
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 31-515 (look out below!)
WTI crude oil: 78.65, -3.47
Gold: 1623.80, +7.90
Silver: 29.94, -0.73