LA: How far can this go?

By Jani Ziedins | Weekly Analysis

Jan 27
S&P500 weekly at end of week

S&P500 weekly at end of week

Look Ahead

Four-weeks into the year and money managers are already behind the eight-ball.  As for AAPL, there are plenty examples of everyone’s favorite stock losing its mojo and trading sideways for years at a time.  Will this be AAPL’s fate?

MARKET BEHAVIOR

The market has been up every week this year.  Quarters often exhibit a consistent personality and so far this is starting out as a bullish quarter.  This would suggest the rally has legs and any dip should be considered a buying opportunity.

MARKET SENTIMENT

A lot of money managers are already behind their benchmarks and we are just a few weeks into the new year.  Last year was a difficult year for big money and this year is not starting out any easier.  At the end of 2012 many traders were reluctant to buy the Fiscal Cliff drama and chose the more conservative route of sitting it out.  That would have been a smart move if the market imploded, but it didn’t and instead shot up aggressively, leaving many traders behind.

From the first day of the year these under-invested managers were already lagging their benchmarks.  Rather than chase too-far, too-fast, they waited for the inevitable pullback.  But while they’ve been waiting, the market has continued higher, putting on even more pressure.  Things got even worse last week when AAPL imploded, but the indexes held firm.  AAPL is the single largest holding by most money managers and this put them even further behind the indexes.  It is already shaping up to be a cruel, cruel 2013 and the year is only beginning.

Why all this matters is money managers are faced with a major dilemma, keep waiting for the pullback at the risk falling even further behind, or bite the bullet and jump on board the bandwagon.  This is “deja vu all over again” as most money managers were stuck in this same place last January.  As long as traders are waiting for the pullback, it won’t happen and that is why the market continues rallying.  Once these guys reach their breaking point and jump on the bandwagon, the market will run out of new buyers and we nose over.

TRADING OPPORTUNITIES

Expected Outcome:
We have not seen any real selling in 12-trading sessions and the biggest down day of the year is a modest 0.32%.  For those brave enough to buy the Fiscal Cliff paranoia and stick through to0-far, too-fast, it’s been a fantastic start to the year.  While the market cannot go up every day, any weakness should be looked at as a buying opportunity.  I would be reluctant to buy here, but if the market dips for a day or two, that is an invitation to join the rally

Alternate Outcome:
While the trend is clearly higher, we could breakdown at any time if a nasty headline spooks the market or we simply run out of buyers.  Rallies always end, but typically they go further and longer than most expect.  We might see a dip to support this week, but don’t expect the market to breakdown.  Smart money is buying the weakness, not selling it.

AAPL weekly at end of week

AAPL weekly at end of week

INDIVIDUAL STOCKS

There are a lot of people defending the intrinsic value in AAPL and if it was a great buy at $550, then it is a steal at $450.  And while they might be right, the market doesn’t agree and we all know what happens to traders who argue with the market.

There are plenty of examples of iconic businesses with great growth, but their stock price stagnated for a decade.  MSFT is well off it’s all-time highs and has been dead money for over a decade.  Same exact thing from CSCO.  WMT finally regained its 2000 high thirteen-years later.  SBUX peaked in 2006 and didn’t regain that level for five more years.  Even AAPL traded sideways for over a decade after surging 700% between 1985 and 1987.  Without a revolutionary new product, expect AAPL to join the ranks of has-beens, at least in traders’ eyes.

The question any AAPL owner needs to ask is how long are they willing to hold to get their money back. No doubt we could see a bounce back to $500 and that would make for a great short-term swing-trade, but any strength in AAPL should be sold.  MSFT, WMT, CSCO, and SBUX were great companies with strong growth and industry leading profitability,  but that didn’t prevent the stock from stagnating for long stretches.  There is a lot of profit to be made swing-trading AAPL, but buy-and-hold investors are not going to see new highs any time soon.

Stay safe

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About the Author

Jani Ziedins (pronounced Ya-nee) is a full-time investor and writer who has successfully traded stocks and options for more than a decade. He earned a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the Colorado School of Mines and an MBA and M.S. Marketing from the University of Colorado Denver. His prior professional experience includes manufacturing engineering at Fortune 500 companies, structural engineering, small business consultant, collegiate instructor, and managing investment real estate. He is now fortunate enough to trade full-time from home, affording him the luxury of spending extra time with his wife and two young children.