Last October, among the various statements by Hugh Hendry at the annual Buttonwood gathering was this blurb by the man who is otherwise a big fan of physical gold: "I am long gold and I am short gold mining equities. There is no rationale for owning gold mining equities. It is as close as you get to insanity. The risk premium goes up when the gold price goes up. Societies are more envious of your gold at $3000 than at $300." Vivid imagery aside, he was spot on as the GDX tumbled 30% since then. Yet with the gold miners now universally abhorred and hated by virtually everyone, has the time come to take advantage of the capitulation? That is the question posed by John Goltermann of Obermeyer Asset Management, a firm better known for its deeply skeptical view toward Apple express as part of its April 2012 letter, and which also ended up being spot on. Goltermann says: "Whatever the reason, the underperformance of the mining shares in the last 18 months has been significant. At this point, because of the price divergence, the valuation disparity, and general capitulating sentiment, there doesn’t seem to be a case for selling mining shares. Given the valuations, we are evaluating whether it is appropriate to add to the position. The negative sentiment towards gold could continue for a time, but as economist Herbert Stein cautions, “If something cannot go on forever, it will stop.” When price divergences like this occur, they usually self-correct. In the interim, there is a strong case that gold mining stocks are cheap and that much bad news is priced in." Then again, as Hendry said, it may just as well be insanity.
How Many Constitutional Freedoms Do We Still Have?
Across the universe of hedge funds that Goldman Sachs covers, the net long exposure to the market reached a record-breaking 52% in Q4 2012 - the most bullish level on record. It would appear, as we noted here, that the 2-and-20 crowd of alpha generators have merely been corralled into beta-chasers as, just as they did in the run-up to the 2007/8 highs, their exposure is mirroring the broad market performance. It strikes us that a 'hedge' fund should, in general, be contrarily reducing exposure as the market rises but with turnover of all positions also at record lows it would appear the managers have set out their chips and are all holding on - as the reality of relative returns (in a fickle investing environment) trump absolute returns. Despite low turnover, hedge funds notably reduced holdings of underperforming long-time favorites Apple and gold (lowest holdings since the crisis began) while raising allocations to rallying Financials. Seems like deja vu to us?
- China drains cash to curb liquidity (FT) - no longer just a New Year issue...
- Hilesnrath speaks (but nobody cares anymore) - Fed Split Over How Long To Keep Cash Spigot Open (WSJ)
- Chasm opening between weak French and strong German economies (Reuters)
- JPMorgan Said to Seek First Sale of Mortgage Bonds Since Crisis (BBG)
- China's Bo Xilai not cooperating on probe, been on hunger strike (Reuters)
- Fed minutes send warning on durability of bond buying (Reuters)
- Sony Seeks an Extra Life in New PlayStation 4 (BBG)
- Rajoy pledges fresh round of reforms (FT) - and by reforms he means kickbacks?
- Doubts loom over eurozone recovery (BBG)
- China Extending Zhou Stay Seen as Aid to Financial Overhaul (BBG)
- King Pulls Out Stops to Energize Economy in Carney Handover (BBG)
- Central Banks Discussed Nominal GDP Targets at G-20 (Businessweek)
- Grand Central Owner Opposes IPO of Empire State Building (BBG)
Quarter after quarter we would recap the hedge fund world's infatuation with one stock and one stock alone: Apple. This inverse-mormon love affair hit its peak in the quarter ended September 30, when a record number of hedge funds were invested in AAPL stock. This was also the quarter when AAPL hit its all time high price and has since proceeded to slump by nearly 40% in four short months. Which was to be expected: hedge fund hotels always become flaming death traps when the sucker rally finally ends and what so many mistook and goalseeked for fundamentals, ended up being merely euphoria and momentum chasing as one after another marginal buyer put their money into a stock that seemingly could do no wrong or so we were told day after day. As of December 31, AAPL is no longer the darling of hedge fund groupthink. In its place we have a new hedge fund hotel. Presenting: AIG, which with 80 hedge funds reporting it as a Top 10 holding (compared to GOOG with 73, and AAPL with 67), is now the stock that has suckered in the most hedge fund capital, and where any future growth will depend solely on pulling incremental dumb money in.
First it was Walmart letting the truth finally slip last Friday when a leaked memo showed recent sales are a "total disaster." Today, as anyone who has looked at AAPL premarket quotes will surmise, it's Apple's turn, following a report in the FT that FoxConn, the world's largest contract electronics manufacturer, "has imposed a recruitment freeze across almost all of its factories in China 5th as it slows production of Apple's iPhone." It is not an internal memo, but in this particular case actions speak even louder than leaked words: 'The suspension in hiring by China's largest private sector employer, and the biggest assembler of Apple products, is the first search countrywide move since the 2009 downturn, prompted by the financial crisis. It underscores the weakening demand for some Apple products, Which has put pressure on the American company's battered share price. "Currently, none of the plants in mainland China have hiring plans," said Liu Kun, a company spokesman at Foxconn's largest manufacturing facility in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen." So first Walmart, the world's largest private sector employer with over 2 million workers, and now FoxConn, the world's largest tech-focused employer with 1.2 million workers, is also realizing what a cashless, consumerless "recovery" means, regardless whether it is due to Apple or not. And the markets still continues to wave it off as one off events.
- Office Depot Agrees to Buy Officemax for $13.50/Shr in Stock
- Bulgarian Government Resigns Amid Protests (WSJ)
- Rome will burn, regardless of Italian election result (Reuters)
- Abe Says No Need for Foreign Bond Buys Under New BOJ Chief (BBG)
- Rhetoric Turns Harsh as Budget Cuts Loom (WSJ)
- Muddy Waters Secret China Weapon Is on SEC Website (BBG)
- Business Loans Flood the Market (WSJ)
- Staples May Be Winner in Office Depot-OfficeMax Merger (BBG)
- Fortescue Won't Pay Dividend, Profit Falls (WSJ)
- Key Euribor rate on hold after rate cut talk tempered (Reuters)
- FBI Probes Trading in Heinz Options (WSJ)
- Spain Said to Impose Yield Ceiling on Bond Sales by Regions (BBG)
- BOK’s Kim Signals No Rate Cut Needed Now as Outlook Improves (BBG)
- Here comes the replay of 2011 as China starts the counter-reflation moves: China Central Bank Reverses Cash Pump (WSJ)
- Security group suspects Chinese military is behind hacking attacks (Reuters)
- Iceland Foreshadows Death of Currencies Lost in Crisis (BBG)
- China Allows More Firms to Sell Mutual Funds to Bolster Market (BBG)
- Uncertainty looms for Italians (FT)
- Forget the big comeback; Detroit focuses on what can be saved (Reuters)
- SAC’s Cohen May Face SEC Suit as Deposition Hurts Case (BBG)
- Hollande wrestles with austerity demands (FT)
- Obama Golf With Woods in Florida Risks Muddling Messsage (BBG)
- Simpson and Bowles to Offer Up Deficit (WSJ)
- Aso Says Japanese Government Not Planning Foreign Bond Buys (BBG) - ... until it changes its tune once more
- Abe to Decide on Bank of Japan Governor Nomination Next Week (BBG)
The S&P 500 represents the broad US equity market. It is the bogey for countless herding asset managers and is seen as the professional's index as opposed to retail's Dow. But, a scratch under the surface of the magnificent 500 company index shows it to be extremely top-heavy. From Intel to Apple, the following 10 companies represent over 20% of the 500 name index - and these 20 stocks account for 42% of all S&P 500 margin.
And by "you", we mean of course the average American worker, who according to the Census Bureau averaged a full-time income of $4,400 per month, and whose plight has been documented extensively as making less and less on an inflation-adjusted basis every year, having an ever older average age, putting off retirement indefinitely, and whose lifestyle continues to deteriorate in line with the progressive elimination of the US middle class. But for every million or so disenfranchised workers, there are a few hundred lucky ones, in this particular case interns who work at companies that pay better than the average American worker. So if you are tired of making next to minimum wage, here is your chance to start afresh as an intern with zero experience at one of these 25 companies, while probably making more than the current jobs pays.
Keep your eyes on the prize. The important part of the G20 statement had nothing to do with currency wars.
Bottom line? $100 an hour is the minimum wage for a person with a family in NY. The Prez is offering $9.
One of the fundamental creeds held by the proponents behind every new technology and gizmo market, including cell phones, smart phones, tablets, Sony Walkmen, 8-tracks, VHS tapes, juice extractors, tape rewinders, etc., is that their growth rate (and by implication the consumers' discretionary income), is completely dissociated with gravity and will grow at a far faster pace than global economic growth virtually in perpetuity. This is the case until empirical evidence reminds them, and everyone else, that gravity eventually always wins. Which is precisely what happened with global mobile phone sales, which in 2012 posted their first decline since the cataclysmic 2009. Gartner reports that the global cell phone market declined by 1.7% in 2012, down from 1.78 billion devices sold in 2011 to 1.75 in 2012. "Tough economic conditions, shifting consumer preferences and intense market competition weakened the worldwide mobile phone market this year," the report says.
One of the recurring memes of the now nearly 4 years old "bull market" (assuming the recession ended in June 2009 as the NBER has opined), is that corporate profits are soaring, and that despite recent weakness in Q4 earnings (profiled most recently here), have now surpassed 2007 highs on an "actual" basis. For purely optical, sell-side research purposes that is fine: after all one has to sell the myth that the US private sector has never been healthier which is why it has to immediately respond to demands that it not only repatriate the $1+ trillion in cash held overseas, but to hand it over to shareholders post-haste (see recent "sideshow" between David Einhorn and Apple). However, a problem emerges when trying to back this number into the inverse: or how much money the US government is receiving as a result of taxes levied on these supposedly record profits. The problem is that while back in the summer 2007, or when the last secular peak in corporate profitability hit, corporate taxes peaked at well over $30 billion per month based, the most recent such number shows corporate taxes barely scraping $20 billion per month!
In Case The Mainstream Media Didn't Get The Memo, I Crush The Apple Reality Distortion Field On CNBCSubmitted by Reggie Middleton on 02/13/2013 10:19 -0500
Oh, this 35% Apple correction, drop in margins, increase in competition and decrease in competitiveness of products is a temporary thing. Seriously!!! That Reggie guy shouldn't even be allowed on TV. Really!!!