Friday, August 31, 2007

Stock Performance By Day of the Month

Is there any stock market pattern based on the day of the month?

Some people speculate that towards the end of the month, money managers pile money into stocks at the end of the month to anticipate 401k and savings money coming in.

To test this theory, Kevin Haggerty and researched this.

What they did is choose stocks above the 200 day moving average from January 1995 to September 2006, and back-test if the stocks were held for five days. Seven million trades later, those at showed that yes, stocks above the 200 day moving average and held for five days towards the end of the month (23rd to 30th) have performed very well. Stocks above 200 day moving average held for 5 days during the beginning of the month did not do as well (3rd through 8th of the month).

This is a very interesting result, indeed. Money managers do appear to want to purchase stocks towards the end of the month. By the time the beginning of the month comes, those money managers have already spent their investment money.

Best Day of Month to Dollar Cost Average?

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Effects of Falling Rates and Inflation on the Stock Market

In a previous article, we examined the historical Price to Earning Ratios of the US large cap index, the S&P 500.

Now, let us examine how a falling interest rate environment or low inflation situation affect stocks, stock performance, and sector performance.

Effect of Inflation on Stock Performance

Crestmont Research provides very interesting information on Inflation and Price to Earnings Ratios from 1900 to 2006.

When we look at Inflation (as measured by CPI) ranges, we see the average PE:

  1. CPI Range (less than 0%): Average PE = 14
  2. CPI Range (0 to 0.99%): Average PE = 16
  3. CPI Range (1 to 1.99%): Average PE = 17
  4. CPI Range (2 to 2.99%): Average PE = 22
  5. CPI Range (3 to 3.99%): Average PE = 19
  6. CPI Range (4 to 4.99%): Average PE = 16
  7. CPI Range (5 to 5.99%): Average PE = 15
  8. CPI Range (6 to 9.99%): Average PE = 13
  9. CPI Range (10% or more): Average PE = 8

During times of low inflation, especially in the range of 2 to 2.99%, the US equity market supports a high PE ratio of 22. As we have deflation, or very high inflation, the average PE ratios are much less. The historic average PE ratio of the S&P 500 is 14 or 16 depending on how you calculate it.

In addition, the link above shows the general inverse relationship between inflation and stock prices. As inflation rises, stocks tend to fall. And as inflation drops from high levels (so long as there is no deflation), stocks tend to rise.

As of July 2007, the Inflation rate (through CPI) is 2.36%. Based on the chart above, this is a good inflation rate for Price to Earnings multiple expansion. As long as inflation remains contained, the outlook for US equities remains bright.

Effect of Falling Interest Rates on Stock Prices

The Fed, according to Fed Funds Futures, is likely to start cutting the Fed Funds Rate, currently at 5.25%.

How does a Falling interest rate environment affect stocks?

The Business Week magazine has an article showing the effect of falling rates and rising stock prices.

Since World War 2, the Fed has started rate cutting programs 10 times, and in the six month period after the first cut, the S&P 500 advanced by an average of 11%, two percentage points better than the average of 9% price increase in all years since 1945.

In the 12 months after the first rate cut, the S&P 500 gained an average of 18.6% and posted an increase in 9 out of 10 cases.

So for the most part, except for a few cases (such as the big drop in 2000-2002 due to excessive valuations of Nasdaq and S&P 500 stocks), falling interest rates are good for stocks.

Effect on Different Indices in a Falling Interest Rate Environment

Since 1945, during a falling interest rate environment, Growth and Blend methodologies in the S&P 500 returned 11%. Value stocks in the S&P 500 returned 7.9%. During a falling interest rate environment, large capitalization US growth stocks outperformed large capitalization US value stocks.

The small capitalization stocks as represented by the Russell 2000 or the S&P SmallCap 600 returned 7.8% six months after first interest rate decrease. However, this still underperforms the US Growth S&P 500 Index during a falling interest rate environment.

During a Falling Interest Rate Environment, it would be a good idea to invest in large cap growth stocks.

Effect on Sectors in a Falling Interest Rate Environment

Which sectors outperform and underperform during a falling interest rate environment?

According to Standard and Poors and the Business Week Article, these sectors performed in the six months after the first rate reduction (since 1945). The average percent change is listed:

  1. Information Technology: +21%
  2. Consumer Discretionary: +18%
  3. Industrials: +17%
  4. Consumer Staples: +14%
  5. Energy: +12%
  6. Health Care: +11%
  7. Materials: +11%
  8. Financials: +10%
  9. Utilities: +7%
  10. Telecom Services: +4%

During a Falling Interest Rate Environment, it would be a good idea to overweight Information Technology (Growth), Consumer Discretionary, and Industrials and underweight utilities and telecom services.

How I reallocated a portfolio to take advantage of the Falling Interest Rate Environment

Saturday, August 25, 2007

S&P 500 Returns by Day of Week 1962-2007

From 1962 to August 24, 2007, the S&P 500 returned different average daily returns based on the day of the week. The only negative day turns out to be Monday with a negative return of -0.044%. Wednesday turns out to be the largest percentage average daily gain at 0.087%.

From the same period, Tuesday seems to be the day with the largest average daily trading range with a range of 1.462%. Friday has the lowest average daily trading range of 1.407%.

The third chart shows relative volume. Since volume has increased greatly from 1962, we do not want to overweight the volume in the later decades. So to balance out volume, we use relative volume. We calculate relative volume by taking volume and dividing by the previous twelve months average volume.

The chart shows that Monday is the lowest volume day with 0.99 relative volume, and Wednesday is the largest relative volume day with a 1.12 factor.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Historical S&P 500 PE Ratios and Earnings (Aug. 15, 2007)

From 1988 to August 15, 2007, the average trailing Price to Earnings (PE) ratio of the S&P 500 was 22.7. As of August 15, 2007, the current trailing PE ratio of the S&P 500 is 16.3.

Since we are using the years 1988 to 2007, this overweights the great bull market of 2000 including the Bubble. According to Wikipedia, the average PE ratio of US Equity from 1900 to 2005 is 14 or 16 depending on how you calculate it.

When we look at quarterly earnings (as reported), we notice that earnings from 1988 to the peak of the bubble rose 3 times. From 2003 to 2007, earnings of the S&P 500 rose 5 times!

Yet, if we look at the historical PE, the S&P 500 PE is still a very reasonable 16, and if we look at forward (estimated) PE as of August 15, when the $SPX was 1406, we notice that the S&P 500 forward PE is a low 14.75. This would suggest that the S&P 500 has room to run.

At the moment, the Fed is likely to cut rates. In a falling rate environment, PE ratios can have even more room to expand.

There are also models which look at the yield on the ten year bond to estimate the PE ratio of the S&P 500.

The Ten Year Treasury Bond Yield ($TNX. Divide $TNX by 1000 to get Yield) is currently (August 24, 2007) 4.63%. To estimate the potential PE ratio based on that, we take the reciprocal of the yield, to get 1/.0463 = 21.6.

A low inflation rate is also good for stocks.

Based on all this, the S&P 500 may have room to run to the upside.

Latest S&P 500 estimates from Standard and Poors

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Will the Fed Cut Rates? How To Estimate Odds

Everyone is on Fed Watch. People are wondering whether the Fed will cut rates or not. Can we figure out the direction of interest rates?

We can.

The Chicago Board of Trade has an instrument called the 30 day Fed Funds Futures Contract. By looking at the prices of these Futures, we can better estimate the odds.

Getting Information about the Fed Funds Futures Contract

Here's the Current Chicago Board of Trade 30 day Fed Funds Future Contract.

We can also use's Fed Funds Futures Quotes.

As of this moment, using's quotes, September 7, 2007 shows 95.13 and October 7, 2007 shows 95.225. What you do is subtract that number from 100. September 7, 2007 will have the value (100-95.13) = 4.87% and October 7, 2007 has the value (100-95.225) = 4.775%. This is called the implied Fed Funds Rate on the Futures Contract.

The Current Fed Funds Rate is 5.25%. And since there is no September 7, 2007 meeting, it is better to look at the October 7, 2007 contract instead. So by October, the implied interest rate is 4.775%, so rate cuts are likely.

The next two Fed meetings are on 9/18/2007 and 10/30-31/2007.

How do you calculate probabilities?

There's a financial calculator online to help calculate probabilities:
Fed Funds Calculator

Rate Cut Probabilities on September 18, 2007 meeting

Using this calculator, and using the October 7, 2007 contract, we enter these values:

  1. 30 Day Federal Funds: 95.225
  2. Current Federal Funds Rate: 5.25%

With the numbers above, the Implied Interest Rate is 4.78% (by calculating 100-95.225).

If we enter the Expected Rate of 5.25% (no change)

In this scenario, the odds of rate cuts are:
1. 5.00% (0.25% cut): 190%
2. 4.75% (0.50% cut): 95%

So the market appears to be pricing in almost certainty that the Fed will cut either in September 2007 and further cuts after that are also almost certain.

As the Fed Fund Future changes, you can follow the process above to determine future probabilities.

More information on calculating Fed Funds:

1. Tony Crescenzi ( Contributor) article on Tracking The Market's Fed Expectations.

2. Cleveland Fed's Frequently Asked Question on Fed Funds Futures.

3. Chicago Board of Trade Fed Watch Page.

Strategic Portfolio Re-Allocation as Fed Cuts Rates (Aug. 21, 2007)

Fed expected to Cut

We've been experiencing a painful market correction centered around subprime problems, mortgages, and a US liquidity crunch. Because of all this, the Fed is now expected to cut the Fed's Funds Rate from 0.50% to 0.75% by First Quarter of 2008 from various sources.

Sector Rotation Model based on Fed Cutting Rates

When the Fed acts to raise or cut rates, we should act accordingly. These are important turning points. According to Standard and Poor's Sam Stovall's Sector Rotation Model, and Jim Cramer's Sector Rotation Model (Page 115 of his Jim Cramer's book: "Real Money: Sane Investing in an Insane World") as the Fed tightens or cuts rates, it is profitable to get out of certain sectors and into others.

In Jim Cramer's Sector Rotation Chart, we should be doing the following (Interpretation of the chart can differ depending on whether you look at GDP growth or look at the actions of the Fed):
1. Sell "smokestack" stocks such as Caterpillar (CAT), or 3M (MMM).
2. Sell metals and mineral stocks such as Alcoa (AA) or Newmont Mining (NEM)
3. Buy high multiple tech stocks such as Google (GOOG)
4. Buy Banks and Financials such as JP Morgan (JPM) or Wells Fargo (WFC)
5. Eventually, as the economy slows, buy Retailers.

However, there is another story that may conflict with the advice above: The Global Growth Story.

The Global Growth Story

Because emerging markets like China are growing fast, they need materials such as Copper, and industrial equipment like those made by Caterpillar (CAT). This goes against some of the advice based on the Sector Rotation model above.

I do believe the Global Growth Story is a multi-year/multi-decade long cycle.

Portfolio Strategic Repositioning

So what can we do to strategically position ourselves for the intermediate future?

I have several different portfolios with different styles (most are well diversified portfolios). However, in one of the portfolios, I apply a more concentrated method, and this is what I've been doing during the last month with this portfolio:

1. Sell Oil and Oil Services

Oil and Oil Services have not been doing well recently as crude prices have been going down and may settle in the $60 to $65 per barrel range. If we are to see an economic slowdown in the US, demand could weaken. Yes, over the long term, the global growth story needs oil. So while my concentrated portfolio has no oil, my long term diversified portfolios have sufficient exposure to this sector.

2. Sell Coal

Coal, as embodied by the stock Peabody Energy (BTU) has been going down. Peabody Energy reported reduced guidance because of delays in ramping production at recently acquired mines.

3. Sell Minerals

I took profits in Freeport McMoran (FCX) whose stock price had been dropping like a rock. Also, the Sector Rotation model above suggests that we do sell mineral stocks. However, I still believe in the Global Growth Story. I am looking for ways to get back into Freeport McMoran (FCX), a Gold and Copper company.

4. Sell Selected Financial Companies

Goldman Sachs (GS) is a quality company, but it had been dropping hard, and during the time when it was uncertain that the Fed was going to do anything, I had to sell Goldman Sachs in order to stop the freefall and to raise cash to purchase other securities. Some of Goldman Sach's Hedge Funds suffered big losses.

5. Reduce Emerging Market Wireless Telecom (Overweight to Neutral)

I still believe in the strength of Emerging Market Wireless Telecom especially companies such as Mexico's America Movil (AMX). I had overweighted America Movil, but I reduced it to a neutral position so I can invest in other names.

6. Hold Computer and Video Gaming Company

I am continuing to hold Gamestop (GME), a retailer of computer and video game consoles, equipment and software. Gamestop has been doing well, and is part of the great Computer and Video Game Cycle. This cycle will remain strong, and Jim Cramer even mentions this very positively in a discussion with's Michael Comeau.

7. Hold Infrastructure Company

Countries around the world needs infrastructure as they grow, and I continue to hold ABB Limited (ABB), a Swiss Infrastructure company providing power and automation technologies to utility and industry customers worldwide. Infrastructure is still needed around the world.

8. Overweight High Growth Tech:

Currently continuing to hold Google (GOOG), Apple (AAPL), and added Garmin (GRMN) and all have been doing well recently. These are the key high tech growth stories that can be owned for many years. They are the leaders, and innovators, and their forward PE ratio are all under 30 for their great growth. The sector rotation model also suggests this, and these stocks have held up well during the downturn and will do very well in the future.

9. Add Selected Financials with No Subprime Risk

After discovering that a financial company, Hudson City Bank (HCBK) had been holding up well during the most recent market correction where financial companies stock prices were being punished, I decided to look deeper. James Altucher, of pointed out a link to the Bergen Reporter. The article, written by Dunstan Prial, says that "Officials at Hudson City Savings Bank, Columbia Bank and Valley National Bank said fallout from the subprime mortgage crisis that has roiled markets in recent weeks has so far been minimal. The primary reason, said Hudson City Chief Executive Officer Ron Hermance, is smaller regional banks tend to hold on to the mortgages they generate instead of reselling them into so-called secondary markets, where they are resold as investment products." CNN even reports that Hudson City Bancorp is the Anti-Countrywide. Jim Cramer also is bullish on regional banks in this part of the cycle.

Hudson City Bank is also a fast growing bank with conservative lending practices. In a falling rate environment with many financials suffering from a liquidity crunch and subprime problems, Hudson City Bank (HCBK) stands to benefit.

10. Hold and Add to Cash Rich Companies with Great Investors

Leucadia (LUK) is a cash rich company run by two Guru investors, Ian Cumming and Joseph Steinberg. American Real Estate Partners (ACP) is a very cash rich Real Estate company that recently includes veteran activist investor Carl Icahn. In a cash strapped environment, whoever has cash holds a very valuable commodity. And if the allocator of Capital is a talented investor such as Ian Cumming, Joseph Steinberg, and Carl Icahn, who like to buy undervalued and distressed securities, then the return on investment is even better.

I continue to accumulate Leucadia (LUK) and have added a position in ACP (American Real Estate Partners). Both have held up very well during the market downturn and both will do well in this environment.

11. Hold Aerospace Company

The Aerospace Cycle is still strong. Boeing (BA) would be an obvious play, but I continue to hold Transdigm Group (TDG). Transdigm Group is a $1.8 Billion company, with a forward PE of 15.55, a five year estimated growth rate of 28.5% for a very low Price Earnings to Growth (PEG) ratio of 0.55, very cheap! (less than 1 is very cheap).

12. Hold Defense Play

The defense bull market is still there, and is levered more to government spending than consumer spending. Obvious names include Raytheon (RTN) or Lockheed Martin (LMT), but I prefer investing in Harris (HRS).

Harris (HRS) is a $7.7 Billion company that provides special equipment to the government and the military. They operate four segments, Government Communications Systems, RF Communications, Microwave Communications and Broadcast Communications. It has a forward PE of 15.11 and a five year estimated growth rate of 27% for a very low PEG of 0.56.

13. Hold Emerging Market Beverage Play

I continue to hold Wimm Bill Dann (WBD), a high growth diary and juice producer in Russia. This play should not have a large correlation with the US Financial situation and is more levered to the local Russian economy. Ratings often lists Wimm Bill Dann as one of its five top growing stocks.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Invest in Cash Rich Companies Run by Guru Investors

With the U.S. suffering a liquidity crunch, the advantage goes to companies with a lot of cash. When the allocator of this cash is a Great Investor who can properly find great values in distressed companies and often take controlling stakes in companies, the advantage is even greater.

There are two interesting companies that fit that mold, that are perfect for today's cash strapped market.

1. Leucadia (LUK)

Leucadia (LUK) is a company that many call a mini Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B), Warren Buffett's Company. Management is excellent, led by Guru Investor Ian Cumming and Joseph Steinberg. In 1978, Cumming and Steinberg banded together to take control of the company for $100,000 of their own money and $1.2 million from others to grow it to a $10 Billion company today. Both are still active in the company and as of 2007, Mr. Cumming is 65 and Mr. Steinberg is 63 years old.

Leucadia is a holding company that uses a deep value investing approach, buying distressed companies at discount prices, and sell them for profits.

Leucadia invests in a diverse group of companies from medical companies to manufacturing companies and often takes contolling positions in companies. The site shows a selection of companies that Leucadia invests in.

In a shareholder letter, Mr. Cumming and Mr. Steinberg say:
"We tend to be buyers of assets and companies that are troubled or out of favor and as a result are selling substantially below the values which we believe there are. From time to time, we sell parts of these operations when prices in the market reach what we believe to be advantageous levels. While we are not perfect in executing this strategy, we are proud of our long term record…. We believe we are conservative in our accounting practices and policies and that our balance sheet is conservatively stated. To mutilate a hackneyed phrase, we are old dogs and we can't learn new tricks-we believe the ones we learned over the last 30 years continue to work just fine."

The company's stock has held up very well despite the recent market correction, and it is near its all time high. In March 2007, they announced a stock buy-back program. Leucadia is going to join the S&P 500 index on August 24, 2007.

2. American Real Estate Partners (ACP)

Veteran activist Investor Carl Icahn is now bringing 10% of his fund public though American Real Estate Partners. American Real Estate Partners is a $6.6 Billion company that engages in the gaming, real estate and home fashion businesses in the United States. They own and operate gaming properties in Nevada such as the Stratosphere Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. The company has $3.4 Billion in Cash, more than 50% of its market capitalization.

On August 9, 2007, the company announced that it is acquiring $810 Million of Icahn Funds, a group of investment funds managed by Icahn, valued at $7 Billion. The deal also includes contingent earnouts up to $1.1 billion depending on the earnings of the fund management business.

Carl Icahn will also become chairman of American Real Estate Partners and chief executive of the Icahn management entities just acquired.

American Real Estate Partners now has a lot of cash, real estate properties, and a great investor in Carl Icahn. The stock has also held up well during the market correction.

Both Leucadia (LUK) and American Real Estate Partners (ARP) are well positioned cash rich companies and excellent management to take advantage of the current market situation in a cash-strapped environment.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Is the Correction Over? Possible Bull and Bear Scenario on S&P 500 (August 17, 2007)

What a week we've had! The stock market goes up and down many percent each day. On Thursday, August 16, 2007, the S&P 500 Index ($SPX) opened down near the expected intermediate bottom area of 1365 ($SPX bottomed at 1370). There was panic in the market. But towards the end of the day, the market had a massive rally to finish almost even.

Thursday appeared to be a capitulation ("I surrender!") bottom and the nice recovery helped solidify that. Friday continued the Fibonacci bounce to the 1440 (38.2%) to 1463 (50%) levels.

Fibonacci Theory says that the 38.2%, 50%, and 61.8% numbers occur all throughout nature, and also in stock charts. You can place a Fibonacci Grid (the five blue horizontal lines in the chart above) with all those numbers from a high to a low or from a low to high. Resistance and Support levels often occur at these levels. If other support and resistance levels, such as the moving average or horizontal or trend line resistance occurs at those areas, then the Fibonacci lines are valid.

During a market drop, after the market hits some sort of bottom, the market often bounces to one of the fibonacci levels. It should bounce to at least the 38.2% level (1441) which was already passed on Friday, August 17. If the bounce is strong, the stock or index could bounce to the 50% level (1463) or even 61.8% level (1485). Then, the stock or index would reverse after that retracement.

In the $SPX chart, there is also congestion around the 1463 level.

So from today onwards, I expect a bounce to reach somewhere around the 1463 level. Then, I expect $SPX to reverse.

V shaped market bottoms are not very stable. What often happens is that sometime later (possible a week or so after the first bottom is made), the stock or index would re-test the lows. In the chart above, I expect $SPX to re-test near the previous lows of 1370. But the $SPX could go down to 1365 or so and then recover, and still be a successful re-test.

Now at this point, there is no edge in determining whether the $SPX will break down and start a new lower trading range, or it will bounce off the previous lows and form some sort of a Bullish double bottom.

If it breaks below the previous lows on good volume, we could see a new lower trader range, the bearish case.

However, if the $SPX bounces off the previous lows, this is bullish. We tested the previous lows twice and succeeded, forming a bullish double bottom.

At this point, we don't necessarily go straight up. The $SPX will mostly take time to consolidate, and eventually settle around 1441 to 1485 trading range. This would be consistent with the congestion that occured earlier at those levels.

After sufficient time, (maybe in the November/December timeframe), the $SPX would break out from this trading range and start challenging the previous all-time highs as part of the seasonal 4th quarter rally.

Today's Chart

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Stocks Above 50 Day Moving Average after Drop Today (August 15, 2007)

The Stock market has been experiencing a correction, and the S&P 500 Index ($SPX) only has 7.6% of its stocks above the 50 day moving average. This is very low!

What are these stocks holding up?

I used Yahoo Finance and selected the larger capitalization stocks above the 50 day moving average and above a $4 Billion market capitalization:

  1. Procter and Gamble (PG)
  2. Cisco (CSCO)
  3. Pepsi (PEP)
  4. Ebay (EBAY)
  5. Alcan (AL)
  6. Las Vegas Sands (LVS)
  7. Kimberly Clark (KMB)
  8. Southern Co (SO)
  9. FPL Group (FPL)
  10. Celgene (CELG)
  11. Kellogg (K)
  12. Garmin (GRMN)
  13. Broadcom (BRCM)
  14. Macronix Intl (MXIC)
  15. Hilton Hotels (HLT)
  16. LG Philips (LPL)
  17. Biogen Idec (BIIB)
  18. Paychex (PAYX)
  19. Wrigley (WWY)
  20. Juniper Networks (JNPR)
  21. Wynn Resorts (WYNN)
  22. Lyondell Chemical (LYO)
  23. Nidec (NJ)
  24. Leucadia (LUK)
  25. Intuitive Surgical (ISRG)
  26. Intercontinental Hotel (IHG)
  27. Hudson City Bancorp (HCBK)
  28. American Real Estate (ACP)
  29. Amylin Pharma (AMLN)
  30. Waters Corp (WAT)
  31. Tim Hortons (THI)
  32. Dade Behring (DADE)
  33. Whole Foods Market (WFMI)
  34. Barr Pharma (BRL)
  35. Iron Mountain (IRM)
  36. Navteq (NVT)
  37. Dow Jones (DJ)
  38. Vertex Pharma (VRTX)
  39. Covance (CVD)
  40. Trimble Navigation (TRMB)
  41. Intersil Corp (ISIL)
  42. LDK Solar (LDK)
  43. Weight Watchers (WTW)
  44. Stericycle (SRCL)
  45. Hansen Natural (HANS)
  46. China South Air (ZNH)
  47. Checkfree Corp (CKFR)
  48. Chaparral Steel (CHAP)

I'm not surprised seeing consumer staples companies such as Procter and Gamble (PG) and Kellogg (K). I'm not surprised seeing healthcare stocks such as Celgene (CELG).

As many commentators have pointed out, technology can be good. Ebay (EBAY) is on the list, and Location Based Service stocks such as Garmin (GRMN), Navteq (NVT), and Trimble (TRMB) are good. I'm surprised that Broadcom (BRCM) is on the list.

I also noticed several resorts such as WYNN and Las Vegas Sands (LVS), most likely because of Macau presence and eased Macau rules, and that even in slowdowns, people can still gamble.

Hotels such as Hilton Hotels (HLT) and Intercontinental Hotel (IHG) are also on the list.

I'm surprised by Hudson City Bancorp (HCBK), a Financial. How is this surviving?

I'm also surprised by American Real Estate (ACP). How is this surviving in this market?

Lower Trading Range on S&P 500 after Today's Drop (August 15, 2007)

Today, Wednesday August 15, 2007, the S&P 500 ($SPX) dropped 1.39% to 1406.70. The $SPX dropped below previous good support of 1427, and that level is now resistance.

Where are the next more significant support levels on the $SPX?

In order to determine this, we have to take a 2 year view of the $SPX.

I put a Raff Regression Channel (orange uptrending three line channel) which shows the trend channel, and also the support and resistance levels. 1400 is a support level. The middle line also nicely marks resistance on the early August bounce.

I also put a Fibonacci Grid (five blue horizontal parallel lines) from the Late 2005 lows to the July 2007 highs. Fibonacci theory says that the numbers 38.2%, 50% and 61.8% show up in nature and in charts over and over again. If these lines coincide with other resistance levels (such as moving averages or horizontal resistance), the support levels and resistance levels defined by these lines are more valid.

In this case, $SPX has already gone below the 38.2% retracement (1410), and the next target zone is the 50% retracement of 1364. This 50% retracement level also coincides with horizontal resistance (previous low occurred around 1364 around March 2007), so we can have more confidence with this support level.

RSI, the Relative Strength Index, is still at 33 and has not gone down below 30. So we aren't extremely oversold according to that metric, though the Stocks under 200 Day Moving Average Metric ($SPXA50R), is a very low 34.20%. Numbers under 45% are usually signs that the end bottom could be near.

However, this is a fearful market, and I expect a new trading range between 1364 and 1427 on the $SPX.

Long Term Investor Suggestions

Over a very long time, stocks have outperformed bonds and inflation according to Professor Jeremy Siegel, author of Stocks for the Long Run. So it would be okay to be mostly invested in your discretionary portfolio.

However, rotate out of stocks that are not working, and rotate into stocks that are doing well and holding up well throughout this correction.

For those who want to Hedge without Put Options or Traders

If you want to hedge the portfolio without using Options, you can use Proshares ETFs. Proshares offers double short ETFs such as SDS. SDS is the Double Short S&P 500 ETF. If the S&P goes down 1x, SDS goes UP 2x. So as the market goes down, you profit using SDS. However, if the market goes up, you lose money with SDS.

In general, you would not want to hold SDS for a very long time. You can sell the SDS after it hits a target area, such as 1380 or 1365 on the $SPX.

For traders, once we get an idea where the intermediate bottom is, we can determine how to play a bounce. But we don't know exactly where the intermediate bottom is. Maybe 1365-1380 on the $SPX?

On, Roger Nusbaum writes about Hedging a Portfolio with Double Short ETFs.

Today's Chart with many of the the indicators above

Monday, August 13, 2007

Lessons Learned from the Last Bear Market

The Great Bubble ended in 2000, and the Great Bear Market of 2000 to 2002 ensued, and brutalized stocks and portfolios. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 38% from January 14, 2000 (11723) to October 9, 2002 (7286.27). The Nasdaq dropped even further, falling 78% from March 10, 2000 (5048.62) to October 9, 2002 (1114.11).

Investors and traders lost fortunes during this very difficult time.

Can anything be learned from this traumatic event? What lessons can we learn?

1. Valuation does matter.

During the Bubble which preceded the Great Bear Market, the valuations of large capitalization stocks especially tech stocks and tech stocks on the Nasdaq rose to unprecedented and astronomical levels.

Jeremy Siegel, in an article in the Wall Street Journal in March 2000 titled "Big-Cap Stocks are a Suckers Bet", says that of the 33 largest firms based on market capitalization (those with values greater than $85 billion), 18 of those were technology stocks, and their market weighted PE equaled 125.9. Mr. Siegel also notes that half of the large cap technology stocks had P/Es over 100.

Even if we look at the trailing PE of the more conservative of S&P 500 during the Bubble, we notice that the PE ratio went up to 35, when historical trailing PE is 14.1 and the trailing PE of the S&P 500 is 17.1 as of May 2007.

In addition, during this time, many people thought this was a different era, and that new methods were needed to justify the extreme valuations of tech stocks.

In 1999, Louis Corrigan writes about Michael Mauboussin in 1999, the head of value based research at C.S. First Boston. In this article, Louis Corrigan explains Mr. Mauboussin's position:

  1. "We disagree with the consensus view that hype and hysteria drive the highflying valuations of Internet stocks," Mauboussin writes in the introduction. "Like all businesses, Internet companies are valued on their ability to generate cash."

  2. "Mauboussin's work ultimately instructs investors to focus on FCF, to account for the whole cash economics picture."

  3. In Louis Corrigan's introduction to Mr. Mauboussin's work, Mr. Corrigan says:
    "Traditional metrics like book value, the price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio, or even the price-to-sales (P/S) ratio are of limited use in valuing start-ups. They are particularly worthless in examining Internet start-ups."

Even Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan repeatedly warned people of "irrational exuberance".

With unsupportable valuations, it was only a matter of time before the market corrected itself to more reasonable levels. Valuations, apparently, does (eventually) matter.

2. Buy and Homework not Buy and Hold

People at the time, had often learned to "Buy and Hold" but people misunderstood this and applied this to Dot-Com stocks and high flying tech stocks.

Professor Jeremy Siegel, economist and author of "Stocks For the Long Run"(1st edition published 1994), proclaimed that over the long term, stocks have nearly always outperformed bonds and inflation. And that even if you bought some of the most expensive stocks at the worst possible time (such as the "Nifty Fifty" growth stocks of the 1970s), you could still make money as long as you just hung on.

Of course, people who followed this strategy without regard to price suffered during the Great Bubble and Bear Market.

In an interview with Money Magazine in 2004, Jeremy Siegel responds to a few questions regarding this:

Q. In the 1990s a lot of people used your finding that stocks nearly always make money in the long run to justify some pretty aggressive investing. Did you feel like Dr. Frankenstein -- you know, like, "I've created a monster"?

A. [Laughs.] Somewhat. I worried that people would interpret my message as "Just buy stocks without any attention to price."

Now I wish that in the second edition of "Stocks for the Long Run" I would have warned much more loudly -- but at that point it wasn't as out of hand as it got. And I was speaking out in 1999 and 2000 against what was going on with Internet and technology stocks.

Still, if you ride the bubble up and down, you do darn well indexing the stock market in the long run -- about 7 percent annualized, after inflation. I never told people that there wouldn't be a bubble or a bear market. I just said that indexing has done well over time.

Q. Would you modify the message now?

A. I now think that you could do better. After what I saw in 2000, I concluded that by applying some common sense and reducing your exposure to the hottest sectors and stocks, you could pick up about half a percentage point more return, on average, each year. If you just stay away from these manias, you've got an edge.

At the top of the bubble, I moved away from tech stocks. I repositioned my-self. I still held money in an S&P 500 index fund, so I didn't entirely sidestep it, but I moved a lot into value. And boy did that help me on the downside.

Then I said, if I did that and it helped so much, let me explore whether staying away from wildly priced growth stocks is something that works over much longer periods of time.


Q. You observed in "Stocks for the Long Run" that investors could make money even if they bought the high-flying stocks of the 1970s at their peak. Now you're saying that investors shouldn't buy expensive stocks. A contradiction?

A. I'll tell you why it's not contradictory. Among the fast-growing stocks dubbed the Nifty Fifty, those in the cheapest 25 did much better than the more expensive half. I mention that in the third edition of "Stocks for the Long Run."

When people are paying 100 times earnings for big companies, you better watch out.

But right now growth stocks look cheap to me. You shouldn't be afraid to pay for growth. The average P/E ratio of what I call the El Dorados -- the 20 top-performing companies since the inception of the S&P 500 -- was a few points above the market's average.

But none had a P/E over 27. [The S&P 500's average P/E today is 20.]

That links well with my findings on the Nifty Fifty. The most expensive ones -- the tech companies like Polaroid, Digital Equipment, Texas Instruments, IBM -- didn't do well at all.

Among the Nifty Fifty companies, only Johnson & Johnson, in retrospect, deserved a P/E over 50. The key, and it's a theme I talk about again and again, is not wildly overpaying. You almost never want to pay over 30 times earnings.

After this Bubble, I understand perfectly well why Jim Cramer preaches "Buy and Homework" and not "Buy and Hold." Valuation does matter and holding absurdly overvalued stocks is not a good idea over the long term.

While some stocks recovered from the bubble, others, like some of the dotcom companies, are no longer in business, or their stock prices are more than 99% from their all-time highs.

One exception to "Buy and Hold" would be if an investor used very broadbased indexed funds or ETFs instead of individual stocks. More on this in the Diversified section below.

3. Markets can remain irrational for periods of time

Valuations of many tech and large cap companies were very expensive, and for a time, they became even more expensive. Markets can remain irrational for periods of time. And during this time, the largest gains in these stocks were made.

This is a very difficult time for all. Do you invest in a massively overvalued stock that keeps on going up? Or do you invest in value stocks and smaller capitalization stocks that were underperforming the market? During this period, those who were nimble enough to trade momentum, and get out at the top were rewarded, but many who learned "buy and hold" and applied it to overvalued tech stocks were badly burned.

Then there are those who avoided the whole bubble completely (and many were criticized for underperforming the "market" during that time) and invested in value oriented stocks and small and mid capitalization stocks and were greatly rewarded. The period from 2000-2007 favored small and mid cap stocks and value stocks.

4. Diversification is very important.

People learned that diversification is very important. If someone had ridden the dot-com companies from Bubble to Bear market, that person would have lost most of the value in their portfolio. If a person had diversified into small cap, mid cap and value stocks during this time, they would have lost less money and during the recovery, these stocks outperformed the Nasdaq and the S&P 500.

From March 1, 2000 to July 30, 2007 (Adjusted for dividends):

  1. Nasdaq: -46% (4784.08 to 2583.28)
  2. S&P 500: +6.87% (1379.19 to 1473.91)
  3. S&P Midcap 400: +92.37% (468.71 to 866.31)
  4. S&P SmallCap 600: +96.67% (219.57 to 413.86)

If an investor had an indexed portfolio of ETFs representing the S&P 500, the Midcap 400 and the Smallcap 600 and invested near the Bear Market Peak on March 2000, and held to July 2007, that person would have had a decent return because of the large gains in the Midcap and Smallcap Indices.

5. Diversify from your own company stock

People also learned that they needed to diversify away from their own companies stock. People were very bullish on their own stock. But when the Great Bear Market showed itself, many of those people were laid off at the same time their company stock started plunging. This was a bad combination. People need to diversify away from their own company stock!

6. Many people survived the Great Bear Market of 2000-2002

While many people suffered and lost their jobs during this painful time, many people have recovered from such a brutal Bear market. We are still here and we are the survivors.

What's a correction after you've experienced a very deep and painful Bear Market?

Thursday, August 9, 2007

How I'm Staying Calm during this Wild and Volatile Market Correction (Aug. 9, 2007)

I've seen investors go from euphoria as the the Dow passes 14,000 to panic and fear as the Dow has many down 300 days, and later get more excited as we have new rallies. As the market continues its correction (or bear market?), people are experiencing all sorts of emotions including fear. Even Jim Cramer on a "Stop Trading!" segment on CNBC shows his passion during a rant about the Fed.

Yet despite all this and the fact that I've lost some money recently, I've managed to keep my emotions in check. How am I doing this?

1. I believe in the long term power of stocks and the global growth story.

Over a long time period, investing in the stock market is a very good way to grow your money. Over the long term, stocks have returned around 10% per year. According to Schwab Center Research with data from Ibbotson Associates, the longer you hold stocks, the less chance you have of experiencing a negative return.

The table below represents the range of S&P 500 returns from 1926 to 2005. Total returns includes reinvestment of dividends. If you held the S&P 500 index for three years, your annualized return would range between 31.2% gain to a 27% loss. If you held the S&P 500 index for a period of 20 years, your annual return would range from a gain of 3.1% to a gain of 17.9%.

Chart Provided by Charles Schwab.

Stocks, over the long term, will do fine!

James Altucher writes about seven reasons to be bullish in this article, though some people would question if all those points remain true with the recent US credit crunch.

2. I've experienced many corrections before.

Having seen corrections before, I know that this too, will pass. If you look at charts from a longer time period, you'll notice that these corrections are just blips in a stock market whose very long term uptrend is up.

I've also incorrectly sold many of my stocks in my brokerage account during a market correction, only to see the market bounce back again and I had to repurchase a large portion of my portfolio. If I believe in the long term growth of the stock market, and the economy is not heading towards a recession or depression, why sell during a market correction?

3. I've experienced a Bear Market Before

I've experienced a Great Bubble and the Bear Market that followed it, and today's situation doesn't look like it at all. I remember the stock prices of many companies with NO EARNINGS went to the roof. I remember the PE ratios of companies like Yahoo (YHOO) go to astronomical heights during the Bubble.

Jeremy Siegel, in an article in the Wall Street Journal in March 2000 titled "Big-Cap Stocks are a Suckers Bet", says that of the 33 largest firms based on market capitalization (those with values greater than $85 billion), 18 of those were technology stocks, and their market weighted PE equaled 125.9. Mr. Siegel also notes that half of the large cap technology stocks had P/Es over 100.

Even if we look at the trailing PE of the more conservative of S&P 500 during the Bubble, we notice that the PE ratio went up to 35, when historical trailing PE is 14.1 and the trailing PE of the S&P 500 is 17.1 as of May 2007.

I also recently re-read an article about Michael Mauboussin in 1999, the head of value based research as C.S. First Boston. In this article, Louis Corrigan explains Mr. Mauboussin's position:

a. "We disagree with the consensus view that hype and hysteria drive the highflying valuations of Internet stocks," Mauboussin writes in the introduction. "Like all businesses, Internet companies are valued on their ability to generate cash."

b. "Mauboussin's work ultimately instructs investors to focus on FCF, to account for the whole cash economics picture."

c. In Louis Corrigan's introduction to Mr. Mauboussin's work, Mr. Corrigan says:
"Traditional metrics like book value, the price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio, or even the price-to-sales (P/S) ratio are of limited use in valuing start-ups. They are particularly worthless in examining Internet start-ups."

Does today's situation look anywhere close to the last Great Bubble and Bear Market?

4. I learned technical analysis.

If I didn't know technical analysis, I would be dependent on emotions and I would just go for an emotional rollercoaster.

Once I learned technical analysis, I'm able to take emotion out of the equation. I learned about trend lines, support levels, resistance levels, Fibonacci retracement, re-testing lows, and many other technical analysis concepts. Rather than just blindly follow the market and let my emotions contol me, I could analyze the chart and estimate how far a market could bounce and where potential bottoms may occur. When the market gaps down near a resistance area and then stages a late day massive rally, I know what that may mean.

With technical analysis, I could objectively look at the situation and not be a slave to my emotions.

5. I am hedging my portfolio using double short ETFs.

Recent innovations include Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) that short or double short different market indices. Proshares offers ETFs that short or double short the market. For example, if you buy the ETF SDS, and if the S&P 500 goes down 5%, then SDS will gain 10%.

With this new hedging tool, and with my knowledge of techical analysis, I could implement a hedging strategy without having to use Put Options. This hedging strategy is also good because it prevents me from having to get whipsawed as I try to sell my stocks during wild and volatile corrections, only to have to rebuy my much of my portfolio as the market goes up again.

(Link to article by Roger Nusbaum on regarding hedging using double short ETFs.)

As an example, in June 2007, the S&P 500 ($SPX) had fallen hard three straight days. There was a possibility that the $SPX could fall even further below the 50 day moving average. So as a hedge, I automatically set an order that if the $SPX goes a certain percentage below the support level (in this case, the 50 day moving average), I would automatically buy SDS.

As it turns out, the $SPX bounced from this level and rallied for almost two months. Then, in late July 2007, the market started to correct. But since my automatic order to buy SDS (remember, this is a double short S&P 500, meaning I profit twice when the S&P 500 index goes down once) was still active, I ended up with a profit.

Near this point, I started seeing the $SPX was getting very oversold. It was time to sell my SDS for a profit.

I then formulated a possible scenario of a bottom, and I expected a Fibonacci retracement bounce ranging from 38.2% to 50% to 61.8%.

Based on the expected Fibonacci retracement oversold rally bounce and expected re-test of lows, I decided to automatically buy SDS if the $SPX reaches 1500 which was triggered at the end of August 8. On August 9, 2007, the $SPX dropped big all the way to 1453. Again, I have SDS for a profit.

That's where we are now. I could sell SDS for a profit, and then, set an automatic buy if the $SPX goes a percentage below the previous low of 1427.

Because of all the factors above, I'm keeping my emotions in check, and looking at the market more objectively despite the wild and volatile nature of this market.

Stocks Holding Up Despite a Big Down Dow 387 Day (Aug. 9, 2007)

The Dow Jones went down 387 points today, for a loss of 2.83% to end at 13270.68. But despite this big drop, there are stocks which went up today.

Here are a few of those stocks on my screen that went up despite a big drop in the market.

1. Leucadia (LUK): (Up 6% today)

Leucadia (LUK) is a company that many call a mini Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B), Warren Buffet's Company. Management is excellent, led by Guru Investor Ian Cumming and Joseph Steinberg. In 1978, Cumming and Steinberg banded together to take control of the company for $100,000 of their own money and $1.2 million from others to grow it to a $10 Billion company today. Both are still active in the company and as of 2007, Mr. Cumming is 65 and Mr. Steinberg is 63 years old.

Leucadia is a holding company that uses a deep value investing approach, buying distressed companies at discount prices, and sell them for profits.

In a shareholder letter, Mr. Cumming and Mr. Steinberg say:
"We tend to be buyers of assets and companies that are troubled or out of favor and as a result are selling substantially below the values which we believe there are. From time to time, we sell parts of these operations when prices in the market reach what we believe to be advantageous levels. While we are not perfect in executing this strategy, we are proud of our long term record…. We believe we are conservative in our accounting practices and policies and that our balance sheet is conservatively stated. To mutilate a hackneyed phrase, we are old dogs and we can't learn new tricks-we believe the ones we learned over the last 30 years continue to work just fine."

The company's stock has gone up recently on good volume and is now very near its all time high. In March 2007, they announced a stock buy-back program.

2. Hansen Natural (HANS): (Up 1.43% today)

Hansen Natural is a $4.3 Billion Drink Company that specializes in the specialty Energy Drink Business. They have a forward PE of 23.44, a 5 year estimated growth rate of 28.59%, for a good PEG of 0.81 (less than 1 is good).

Hansen Natural (HANS) recently announced very good results, and JP Morgan analyst Dara Mohsenian said that catalysts include "improved distribution, contributions from the new Java Monster coffee drink, market share gains, entry into the on-premise market and international growth." Mohsenian also says that strong earnings growth "puts Hansen in a solid position to implement 16-ounce price increases if it chooses, which could be a very significant earnings per share driver" in an Associated Press article.

3. Central European Distribution Corporation (CEDC): (Up 2.51% today)

CEDC is a Polish Vodka producer and importer of other alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. The company is a $1.77 Billion company, with a Forward PE of 20.94, a five year estimated growth rate of 17.5% for a reasonable PEG of 1.19.

4. Middleby (MIDD): (Up 5.34% today)

Middleby is a $1.2 Billion company that designs, manufactures and sells cooking equipment and related products. The company has a forward PE of 21.06, a five year estimated growth rate of 18.5%, for a reasonable PEG of 1.13. It recently announced record earnings.

5. Allscripts Healthcare Solutions (MDRX): (Up 4% today)

Allscripts is a $1.44 Billion company that provides clinical software and connectivity and information systems for physicians. It has a forward PE of 32.07, a five year estimated growth rate of 30.44 for a reasonable PEG of 1.05. The company recently announced earnings.

6. Peabody Energy (BTU): (Up 3.17% today)

Peabody Energy is a $12.25 Billion US based Coal Company with a forward PE of 15.06, a five year estimated growth rate of 16.6% for a PEG of 0.91. The Coal sector has been beaten up recently, but a recent US Department of Energy report suggesting coal demand should increase this year is helping stocks in this sector.

7. Sirf Technologies (SIRF): (Up 4.28% today)

Sirf Technologies makes chips for the global positioning market. This $1 Billion company has a forward PE of 15, a five year estimated growth rate of 26.86% for a good PEG of 0.55 (less than 1 is cheap). The company has missed its quarter recently, and the stock is near its 52 week lows.

8. Stanley (SXE): (Up 2.61% today)

Stanley is a $500 Million company that makes information technology systems for the US defense and federal civilian government agencies. Forward PE is 19.11, five year estimated growth of 21.57%, for a good PEG of 0.89. On July 18, 2007, Navy announces a $23.1 Million Deal, where Stanley is one of the four military contractors which won the award.

9. Level 3 Communications (LVLT): (Up 4.87% today)

Level 3 is an $8.23 Billion company that is in the communications business in North America and in Europe. Among many telecom services, Level 3 also is in the fiber optic networking area.

Companies which show strength during big down days are companies you should watch out as they may lead the way when the market does come back.

(Do beware of short squeeze rallies though.)

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Informal Thoughts: Portfolio moves (August 8, 2007)

I'm going to start a new segment where I casually mention my thoughts regarding making moves in my portfolio(s) without worrying too much about organization.

I'm currently thinking of selling Shanda Interactive (SNDA). While I believe in growth in online gaming in China, I already have The9 Limited (NCTY), which is another Chinese Online Gaming Play. Shanda dropped 7.3% today on a strong up day. I see Shanda up 2.9% in after-hours.

But I'm thinking of rotating into other areas.

Some possibilities:

1. Add more to America Movil (AMX). Emerging Market Telecom has been doing great. I already have an overweight on America Movil and Emerging Market Telecom. Should I continue adding to it?

2. Add more Leucadia (LUK). Leucadia is an excellent company that many people call the mini-Berkshire Hathaway. It has excellent management, and recently jumped 7% on good volume to all-time highs. I've been holding on to this, and this company looks like a very long term holding. I'm not a deep value investor, so I'm giving the reins to the great management of Leucadia. I think this company will do very well.

3. Add more ABB (ABB). This is Swiss Infrastructure play is reasonably valued with respect to growth, near its all time high, and is part of the great Infrastructure Bull Market which is benefitting from great global growth.

4. Buy Finisar (FNSR). This is a speculative $4 stock that had been on a bullish ascending triangle pattern. While it has suffered from possible Nasdaq delisting, this stock may benefit from Cisco's (CSCO) good numbers as Cisco accounted for 22% of Finisar's sales last year. The stock jumped 11.88% today in a strong market and also because of an analyst upgrade. This stock is in the networking/optical networking area.

Running a Screen

In order to find more ideas, I'm also ran a stock screen:
  1. Stocks with Forward PE < 20

  2. Stocks with 5 year growth rate > 20

  3. Stocks over their 200 day moving average

This screen is similar but less restrictive than my Cheap Growth Ready to Breakout Screen.

I saw several oil services stocks like National Oilwell Varco (NOV), but I didn't feel like adding to this because I already had Ensco (ESV), an oil driller.

AMX showed up on the list again, and so did ABB.

Rio Tinto (RTP) showed up on the list, but I already had Freeport McMoran (FCX).

I see Telekomunikasi (TLK), but I already was overweighted in emerging market telecom. I see Vimpel (VIP), a Russian Wireless Telecom company, but do I really want another emerging market telecom?

I see Public Service Enterprise Group (PEG), but I don't feel like getting into the utilities sector (I already have a utility).

I see Cummins (CMI), a company which "engages in the design, manufacture, distribution, and servicing of diesel and natural gas engines, electric power generation systems, and engine-related component products worldwide." That's a possibility.

I see Satyam Computer Services (SAY), which an Indian outsourcing company. But do I want another Indian company? I already have an Indian company. But this may be worth a look.

One company that fascinates me in this list is Harris (HRS). They operate in four segments: "Government Communications Systems, RF Communications, Microwave Communications, and Broadcast Communications." The stock is also near its 52 week highs. This company is less levered to the US Credit Crunch, and its customers include the military and government who need this technology.

There's Gildan Activewear (GIL), which looks to have a great PEG, and BE Aerospace (BEAV), a beneficiary of the boom in aerospace. I also see Transdigm Group (TDG), which I already own and is part of the boom in aerospace.

There are many other companies in the list, but I think I have more than enough choices right now.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

S&P 500 To Remain in Trading Range? (August 7, 2007)

We've had quite some volatility recently. The Bollinger Band width of the S&P 500 ($SPX) is at a very high 156! I don't expect this kind of volatility to sustain itself. I estimate that the Bollinger Band Width will decrease, and the overall volatility will decrease for a while.

This means that the $SPX will most likely end up in a trading range, giving the market time to consolidate. On the low end, we can set 1427 as the support. On the upper end, we can set resistance to around 1492. This coincides with multiple attempts of the $SPX to break through it. It also is the 50% re-tracement from the recent July 2007 correction. If we have a stronger rally, we may reach the 61.8% retracement of the July 2007 correction of 1507.

From there, we could either break resistance and breakout of the trading range, or break support, and breakout to the downside.

Today's Chart of S&P 500 ($SPX)

The Chinese Online Gaming Boom

There's a boom in the video and computer gaming market. Gamestop (GME) the game retailer, has seen its stock soar thanks to the current video game cycle. Recently, Microsoft (MSFT), Sony (SNE), and Nintendo ( have released major next generation gaming consoles (Microsoft Xbox 360, Sony Playstation 3, and Nintendo Wii). Gaming software manufacturers such as Electronic Arts (ERTS) and Activision (ATVI) also benefit from this cycle. Even companies like Nvidia Corporation (NVDA), which offer programmable graphic processor technologies needed by game players, benefit.

However, the most intriguing and high growth area of this industry is the growth in online gaming, especially in China.

Online Gaming revenue in China, according to Wu Shulin, deputy Director of China's General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP), was $1.04 Billion at the end of 2006, and is expected to grow to $3.9 Billion by 2010. The Chinese economy is booming, the middle class is growing, and internet access, especially through internet cafes is growing, trends that are helping the gaming boom in China.

According to the US based market research company International Data Corporation (IDC), there are an estimated 31 million people playing games online in China. Many people, especially those between the ages of 18 and 30, can be seen in packed internet cafes playing online games till the early hours.

There are three main Chinese companies that can benefit from this trend:

1. The9 Limited (NCTY) is a $1.3 Billion Chinese company, with a forward PE of 17.5, a five year estimated growth rate of 25%, for a Price Earnings to Growth Rate (PEG) of 0.7, very cheap (less than 1 is cheap). The company has virtually no debt.

The Company primarily engages in the development of massively multiplayer online role playing games (MMORPGs) for Chinese online game players.

The9 also has the rights to bring Western games such as Blizzard Entertainment's very popular World of Warcraft Multiplayer Online Role Playing game to China. World of Warcraft in the West is part of Pop Culture as evidenced by being prominently featured in Comedy Central's (VIA.B) "South Park" show in an Emmy nominated episode about World of Warcraft. World of Warcraft is the most popular western MMORPG in Asia and the third most popular in China with peak concurrent users numbering 688,000 and revenues of $36.1 million in late 2006.

The9 also implemented a pay-for-time system in the game, differing from the monthly subscription method in other territories.

Electronic Arts (ERTS), the US electronic software producer, will own 15% of The9. As part of the deal, The9 will gain exclusive publishing rights for EA Sports FIFA Online.

2. Shanda Interactive (SNDA) is a $2 Billion Chinese company with a forward PE of 16.84, a five year estimated growth rate of 26.9% for a PEG of 0.62, again, very cheap (PEG less than 1.0 is cheap).

Shanda Interactive engages in development and operation of online games in China including Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games and Online Casual Games such as chess. Shanda maintains a large number of popular games produced by Western, Chinese, and Korean companies, with the Chinese and Korean games being the most popular.

In a recent China online gaming survey conducted by Piper Jaffray, 55 percent of respondents said they prefer Shanda's business model, in which users can play games for free and are charged to purchase virtual items within games. Shanda also tied with competitor The9 as the company in its market that offers the best games.

3. NetEase (NTES) is a $2.04 Billion Chinese company with a forward PE of 13, a five year estimated growth rate of 15% for a PEG of 0.86. the company has a low Total Debt to Equity Ratio of only 0.217.

The company has an online games business that focuses on massively multiplayer online role playing games by selling prepaid point cards to the end user. These cards could be distributed through wholesalers, internet cafes, supermarkets and other venues.

Netease manages Fantasy Westward Journey, the most popular online game in China in terms of Peak Concurrent Users.

The company also has a wide array of internet services outside of its online games business.

Online gaming in China has a bright future. Electronic Arts (ERTS) 15% stake in Chinese online Gaming Company The9 is evidence that US companies believe in the great growth in the Chinese Online Gaming Market. Why not follow Electronic Arts lead and invest in the growth area of the gaming industry: Chinese Online Gaming.

Friday, August 3, 2007

S&P 500 Chart Update after Big Drop Today (August 3, 2007)

On August 2, 2007, I said that the S&P 500 Index ($SPX) would bounce to at least 1484, a 38.2% retracement from the all time highs of 1556 on July 2007, to the recent bottom of 1440 late July 2007. However, the $SPX couldn't even bounce to the 38.2% retracement level. This is a sign of a very weak market.

I also said that after the bounce, the $SPX would re-test lows from 1437-1440, and we have to see how the $SPX behaves, whether it forms a double bottom, or break through support.

Today, August 3, 2007, the $SPX went down 2.66% to end at 1433.06. We have our answer: the $SPX fails the re-test of the lows. And support (1437-1440) is now overhead resistance.

Breaking the 1437 level is also not positive, since 1437 is a 61.8% retracement from the March 2007 lows of 1364 to the recent highs of 1556. I would have liked to see the 1437 line hold, but it didn't.

Next support areas are horizontal support at 1410, 1372 and 1362.

The $SPX is currently very oversold, with only 16.40% S&P 500 stocks above the 50 day moving average. Typically, numbers under 20% signals that we are near or at the bottom. Of course, oversold markets can remain irrational and continue to be more oversold. Next support level is 1410.

There are wild cards in the market. The Fed could cut rates, and impact the $SPX positively.

Also, there are sectors which are working better than others.

Perspective from 2 Year View

If we look at the 2 Year view, we can get a better perspective. We can set up a Fibonacci grid from the October 2005 lows to the July 2007 highs (Fibonacci means that certain numbers, such as 38.2%, 61.8%, and 50% occur very often in nature. And this can be applied to stock charts as well. This can aid in determining resistance and support levels). If we look at the 38.2% retracement, we find 1411, which coincides almost exactly to the 1410 level mentioned above when looking at the 6 month chart above. When we look at the 50% retracement, we find 1365, which coincides almost exactly to the 1362 level above when looking at the 6 month chart above. This is a good sign that the support resistance levels mentioned in the 6 month and 2 year charts are valid. (Valid means they are valid, but it doesn't mean that the support levels will always hold. Support levels can be breached, or stocks or indices could bounce at support levels).

Today's 6 month Chart of $SPX

Today's 2 year Chart of $SPX

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Updates to $SPX resistance level for rally (Aug. 2, 2007)

The Wednesday, August 1, intraday reversal of $SPX after hitting a low of 1439 combined with very oversold conditions are some reasons why we might get a more sustained rally.

Based on Fibonacci retracements from the recent highs (1555) to the recent low of 1439, the rally might go up to either 38.2% retracement, 50% retracement, or 61.8% retracement which would be 1484, 1497, or 1511 if the rally is really powerful. 1497 seems like a reasonable resistance level in the $SPX.

As I mentioned earlier, I expect a re-test of the $SPX lows from around 1437-1440.

From there:
1. $SPX could bounce off support and form a good double bottom.
2. $SPX could break through support and start new leg down.

This is a partner piece to the previous chart analysis.

Today's Chart

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Updated Possible $SPX Scenario (July 31, 2007)

The global markets seem to be selling off at a good rate, and the U.S. futures are down big. This could be an important day.

There is an updated $SPX (S&P 500 Index) chart above.

I expect some sort of a bottom at around 1437, which is the 61.8% retracement of the most recent year long run. This also coincides with horizontal support at around 1437-1440, so this would be a good support area. This might be a final capitulation.

Many different indicators such as the number of S&P 500 stocks above 50 day moving average are very low (18% right now), which suggests we are at, or near, at least a medium term bottom.

I then expect a bounce to the 50% to 38.2% retracement area from 1459 to 1482. 1482 might more likely target.

Since V-bottoms are not stable, I expect the market to re-test its lows of around 1437. At that point, $SPX could:
1. Form a double bottom as support holds.
2. Start a new leg down, which would be bearish.

The market may move very quickly and hit 1437 intraday, and even work its way close to the 50% retracement of 1459 all within a day.

This scenario is very similar to a scenario I came up with on June 7, 2007.
The June 7, 2007 Possible ABC Correction Scenario.

Today's Chart