There are plenty of confusing headlines being disseminated these days regarding Washington’s plans to deal with the so-called “fiscal cliff.” The latest tidbits center on pushing back any actions until at least early next year. This lack of action amounts to kicking the can down the road, as has been the norm in Washington for the past several years. Let’s all hope some form of leadership emerges from either side on what can be done to avoid delaying the inevitable difficult tax and spending-related decisions. Remember, the markets tend to be at their worst when uncertainty reigns supreme.
Getting into today’s market action, we had another see-saw day of ups and downs. Troubling headlines in the Middle East aren’t helping matters, as new conflicts between Israel and Palestine are breaking out. Also, news of pasty maker Hostess shutting its doors and sending 18,500 people to the unemployment line cast a cloud on the already fractured jobs market.
As far as individual stocks were concerned, earnings remain the top market mover on Wall Street. Dell Inc. (DELL) and The J.M. Smucker Company (SJM) ended lower following both companies’ disappointing results. The companies are going in the opposite direction when you look at a long-term chart, with Dell continuing to lure in value buyers and pushing lower and lower, while J.M. Smucker shares are just off all-time highs. Elsewhere, Foot Locker (FL) delivered on another good quarter and in related news, Nike (NKE) shares rose partly off the Foot Locker report, but also on news the company is splitting its shares 2-for-1 next month and raising its dividend nicely (its yield still sits below 2% however). Finally, shares of W.W. Grainger (GWW) and Las Vegas Sands (LVS) saw a bounce on some positive Wall Street analyst commentary. Finally, Apple (AAPL) managed to squeeze out a gain after taking a trip down close to the $500 a share range.The Bounce Will Occur Right About…
It’s so predictable how the business media sees a straight down market and they frantically book every market “expert” they can find to talk about when the reversal will happen. Rather than getting into the fundamental reasons why some areas of the market are getting hit harder than others, the big prize will go to whomever called the bottom. This prize is all too appealing for even the brighter minds that actually say sensible things most of the time. They unfortunately get sucked into the media vortex of the “bottom call” prize.
All I can tell you is that unless you have been lured into buying the trading dips every other day (which had been working for months prior to September), it is likely many traders/individuals are now trapped in positions that have been hurt badly. I can tell you that many money managers may have even seen their year go red during the latest market swoon. For dividend investors, although some of the names we like have come down, the opportunity to pick up quality names at cheaper prices isn’t something investors looking to buy income-producing assets should be losing much sleep about. We have kept an extra-lean list of recommendations for quite a few months as our interpretation of what was in front of us made us want to focus on the higher quality, higher-yielding liquid names that we would want to own at lower prices if and when the fundamentals (earnings) reality was going to kick in.
In the meantime, pay little mind to the daily bottom-calling you have been probably watching all this week. This media hoopla should not distract you from the job of building long-term wealth by putting money to work in regular intervals and not trying to catch the 2 or 3 point bounce in the momentum names the business media knows gets trader types tuned in to watch.Looking Toward Next Week
Looking ahead to the next week for stocks, third quarter earnings will continue to come our way. On tap are results from the likes of Campbell Soup (CPB), Lowe’s (LOW), HJ Heinz (HNZ), and Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), just to name a few. Just a reminder, the market will be closed next Thursday for the Thanksgiving holiday, and Black Friday will be a half-day session (markets close at 1:00pm Est.) on what is normally among the quietest days of the trading year.