November 27, 2009

Stock Market Crash Round Two?

At the bottom of this post I compare the chart of the 1929 crash and rebound to the 2008 crash and this rebound.

So, the US equities markets have rallied tremendously off the March lows as fear quickly turned to greed. I mean what else really justifies such an optimistic view of US economic and corporate performance going forward. Housing has been in a recession? depression since 2005. What has enabled the consumer to spend for the last 20 odd years? That's right rising home prices. But hey government is committed to softening the fallout. So we get flat growth probably instead of total chaos in housing and the economy.

For atleast 2 years people have been calling for a bottom in housing and real estate in the US. It hasn't come. Is it really any surprise when even today big banks are still dumping residential for fractions on the dollar? Acres of land in Charlotte that once sold for over $2 million dumped for $300,000? This bubble hasn't fully popped I don't think.

I live in Charlotte North Carolina and housing is as bad as ever if not even worse I think. This state like many other states are in bad financial condition. North Carolina is desperate for tax revenues. So desperate not that many months ago they were going to pass a bill to tax online transactions. The kind of affiliate revenue Amazon offers to webmasters who use Amazon links on their sites. I used to use Amazon affiliate links. Not anymore because Amazon ceased doing business in all of North Carolina even before they could get the tax in place.

I made a brief thesis that the market seemed out of whack with even best case recovery over the future.

This is not just another little recession. The economy is not going to blast to new heights any time soon. Forward valuations look more like a regular old recession is about to end I feel. The consumer is different now. The consumer is saving more now and deleveraging the last 15-20 years of insanity. This could take some time I believe.

The question I have been asking myself is just how long can the government spending and low rates continue to have a positive effect on the economy without bankrupting us in the long-term if it is not to late already. Could the FED and government stimulus actually work? They certainly had an effect in the past. But just how bad is the recession/depression? It's not easily overcome right?

Could I be wrong? Yeah. Is this a hard view to still hang on to after the market run? Yes and no. No, because I'm usually a skeptic and pretty cynical even for my age. These viewpoints be it fortunate or unfortunate turn out to be right a lot especially in the world of investments and economics.

On the other token questioning the soundness of this recovery? and historical stock market recovery has definitely made me hesitant to make some trades even though I had to dismiss the fundamentals to be long biased since around April or May. The technical picture was pretty sound especially after the attempts to correct failed and the market kept breaking to new highs. I'll be a perma-bull as soon as housing shows a clear bottom.

The question I have here now that the Dubai bubble is fully bursting is how safe is China and Asia's real estate sector? On valuation alone Chinese equities don't seem like a bubble to me atleast comparable to 2007. However, banks are a big, big part of the Shanghai Composite. This could be devastating if their banks are leveraged. Of course real-estate in China would have to collapse. I don't follow China that closely to know if there are bubble conditions in real-estate there. Maybe someone reading this could point me to a fairly reputable source if they know more on this. I think it would be hard, for me atleast to make a call on housing or real estate in China because it's harder for me to gauge a bubble vs equities and considering they actually do have a seemingly healthy economy and rapid population growth.

Indices are encountering some trend line resistance. If the next wave or healthy consolidation is to come it will possibly be very soon.

These might be two of the scariest charts right now. There is a very similar spike/pipe bottom that happened in the 1929 bottom and uncanny resemblance in the bounces. Even on the rebound percentages from bottom. That's 1929 on top and 2008-09 on bottom.

And notice the failed signal we had in June and July were the market rally looked like it was going to end but just continued upward.

Whether or not such a rapid decline will come so fast I think at the very least a short pull-back is in the works. This support trend line will have to be tested again. I wouldn't be surprised to see some window dressing by institutions as they try and lock in these yearly gains.

Not a good technical picture on the Russell 2000 small-cap index. This gap down from the Dubai news spooked the market or atleast gave good enough reason to sell. Such a gap at these levels does not look good for the time being.

I've been watching this bull-trap play out in financials since it happened. The possibility of it playing out fully and the financials breaking down is looking very high here now with this gap down and shooting star day.

full disclosure: no positions

November 22, 2009

Net-Net Update

I was looking at Boss Holdings BSHI.ob a couple different times over the past year and a half or so. The stock continued to trade very thin and decline. I just found out that back in late August they announced they were going to go private and cash out holders of less than 100 shares at $7.65. I think this may already be finished. I don't know.

All my posts on BSHI

full disclosure:no position

November 16, 2009

Warren Buffett's Big Bet With Burlington Northern

So, I imagine everyone knows Warren Buffett bought Burlington Northern recently and the media has spun it as wholly positive and a bullish bet on the economy of the United States. I'm going to look at this in a different angle and in a more skeptical and realistic fashion. Buffett says,"I basically believe this country will prosper and you’ll have more people moving more goods 10 and 20 and 30 years from now, and the rails should benefit. It’s a bet on the country, basically."

Let's start with the good things. I think it was definitely a good buy for the long-term. A classic Buffett moat company. A safe, smart move. But I think this could be a clue to the macro as well because Buffett is very keen on the macro economy. I'm not sure that I buy the argument that this is a big bet on the economy of the United States though. Right now the railroad gets only about 30% of its revenues from shipping consumer products. "Its next most important segment was coal, followed by industrial products like farm equipment, lumber and chemicals. It also hauls corn, wheat and soybeans, much of it exported to China."1

The media spin on it however is it's a bullish bet on the economy. I think it is a bet on future trends. None of them on a stronger United States economy. It just looks more like a bet on commodities, the fact that the dollar will be very weak, that people will be alive and eating in the future, the fact that oil prices will sky rocket over coming decades and that Canada will probably be stronger than the United States economically.

What is the way to ship if oil exceeds $140 a barrel? It sure isn't trucks or planes. The fact that rails take away from them doesn't seem particularly good, just that they will. This may be a bit of a stretch but buying a railroad seems more like a doomsday economic hedge than a hope that the economy will be strong. Shipping coal and necessities is pretty much a given. And you can't ignore a healthy demand from Canada next door.

Where's the leveraged bet on the consumer? Are you telling me from the extremely low valuations from the biggest stock market crash of his career and the worst economic crisis since the early 1900s that Buffett couldn't find a company any more correlated to the consumer? This is supposed to be an "all-in" bet right? Remember the consumer is the U.S. economy with consumer spending comprising over 70% of GDP. If the consumer does well so will the economy. And this railroad is the best deal he could find to "bet" on the economy? Give me a break media.

A bet on the economy is buying a company related to the housing industry or a service company.

I heard Buffett say he thinks this country will prosper in the future. Prosper isn't that strong a word though really. Buffett is an extremely candid guy to say the least. Why wouldn't he have said do extremely well or better than ever. He was saying this in the heart of the panic of 2008 and 2009 but I think one has to be skeptical of the context of those statements possibly because he is one of the most important statesman.

A low dollar and high fuel prices makes railroads an alternative for shipping to Canada and across the country. In that case it is a strong bet on Canada's economic future. I think that Canada will possibly be doing better than the US because they have the oil, healthier banks and financial institutions and more stable currency.

1. Yahoo! news

another source

full disclosure:no position in BRK-A,BRK-B,BNI

November 12, 2009

Small-Cap Stock MSN

Emerson Radio MSN is still doing very well and just reported second quarter results which were pretty good from looking over the press release. Quarterly revenue wasn't that great but overall on the year they are doing well. The stock only has a market cap of about $50 million and being a small-cap this size there probably isn't a line of institutions ready to pile on. I think it could continue to trade higher slowly though as it has all year.

In the next couple days though I think it could pull-back toward the upper bollinger band like it did after the last huge pop.

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full disclosure:no position