Why Are Financial Stocks So Weak?

Stock and ETF charts in this post are powered by MarketSmith.

I keep getting the questions “why are financials so weak” and “shouldn’t bank stocks be outperforming in a rising interest rate environment”?

Not all rising interest rate environments are good for financials. Banks tend to borrow on the short-end of the yield curve and lend on the long end. Their margins expand when long-term interest rates rise faster than short-term interest rates. The opposite has been happening in for most of 2018. In fact, the 10-2-year yield spread has been declining since 2014.

There are many other factors that impact financials’ margins. For example, if you look at JPM’s chart below, you will notice that the decline in the 10-2-year yield spread hasn’t really affected their profitability. JP Morgan’s earnings have increased by 50% since 2014. For the same period, its stock has appreciated 79%, not counting the dividends.

Overall, financials as a group have been showing relative weakness for most of 2018. With a relative strength of 52, the SPdr Financial ETF, XLF is right in the middle of the stack. $24-25 seems like a logical level of potential support. A move above 28.50 would be a bullish development.

Momentum Monday – Stocks Under Pressure

Charts in this post are powered by MarketSmith.

Everyone makes money in a bull market. Not everyone keeps it when the inevitable correction comes. 5% to 10% pullbacks while the major stock market indexes are above their 200-day moving averages are normal and happen at least once a year. A 5% pullback in an index might mean a 20-50% quick decline in most momentum stocks. As hedge fund manager David Tepper likes to remind us “There are times to make money and there are times not to lose money. The key is to wait. Sometimes the hardest thing is to do nothing”.

We cover the following tickers: QQQ, FB, SPY, GOOGL, AAL, GS, ETSY, TWLO, IQ, etc.

Disclaimer: everything on this show is for informational and educational purposes only. The ideas presented are not recommendations to buy or sell stocks. The material presented here might not take into account your specific investment objectives. I may or I may not own some of the securities mentioned. Consult your investment advisor before acting on any of the information provided here.

About GE and the 52-week Low Rule In A Bull Market

Charts in this post are powered by MarketSmith.

GE has just lost its spot on the Dow 30. Walgreens will replace it. This should not come as a big surprise. Its stock has been in a disarray for quite some time. It is down about 60% for the past 18 months.

You would not believe how many people told me they were buying GE at 25, 20, 18, and 15 because “it has become very cheap and it will come eventually back”. Maybe, it will recover to all-time highs one day. Maybe, it will take many years to do so and you will get tired of waiting.

Not all individual stocks recover from a big drawdown. Many remain dead money for decades to come. There is a big difference between individual stocks and stock indexes.

Indexes usually come back because they are diversified and they cut the losers (remove stocks which market cap has fallen below a threshold level) and add potential winners (add stocks which market cap has risen above certain threshold level). The current minimum threshold for the S&P 500 is $6.1 Billion.

The most popular stock indexes in the U.S. are basically long-term trend following systems in disguise. I sometimes joke with passive investors (indexers) that they are actually trend followers who don’t want to pick stocks.

Buying 52-week lows in a bear market is understandable if you are a value investor. Most stocks take a big hit during market corrections and the good is thrown out with the bad.

Buying stocks making 52-week lows in a raging bull market is a completely different story and it often doesn’t end well. If a stock keeps plunging while the rest of the market is advancing there’s is usually something very wrong with it and it is likely to continue lower. You can save yourself a lof headaches if you ignore the 52-week low list during bull markets.

Most people will be better off waiting for a beaten-up stock to build a new base and break out to new 52-week highs before they enter. A new 52-week high in a crushed stock might still mean 50% below its all-time highs.

When you buy a new 52-week high in a heavily neglected stock, you achieve two things: you have momentum on your side and you have plenty of people who don’t believe in the stock, which is good because those same people are a future source of demand.