Friday, December 18, 2015

Weekly Update: Another, Better, Black Friday!

Wow! Two Black Fridays in one season! And while everyone marveled at the deals to be had on that fateful day after Thanksgiving, the second one, yesterday, was really the one to behold!

I had only a single meeting yesterday so I got to sit back and watch sellers slash their prices in a most desperate fashion. The sales were utterly ridiculous! Well, ridiculous compared to what they were charging the day before. Yep, the stock store decided to throw up a surprise sale and blow out its inventory at whatever prices it could fetch.

I mean Apple was going for $106; it was like $115 just the other day---back in April you had to pay $134. Crazy! There was a fire sale on Disney as well; $107 a share! It was $114 day before yesterday! Back in August you couldn't get any for less than $122! Again, crazy!

So a couple of Apple's component suppliers lowered their earnings guidance---fanning those flames of fear that smart phone growth in China may be waning. Add to that the fact that those who chart the share price find it breaking some "resistance level" and you'd think the whole world forgot about how the whole world will be buying (and, not to mention, upgrading) smart phones far into the future. Check it out:     click to enlarge

Smart phone growth emerging mkts

And Disney, geeze! Star Wars is about to demolish every movie-going record known to man. Imagine the franchise to come! And, Friday at least, its shareholders freaked out over one analyst's downgrading of the shares and assigning them a $90 price target. This particular bloke believes ESPN subscribers (a serious source of revenue for Disney) are about to unplug in droves. I don't know, but I'm more than happy to hold the stock and wait and see. I'm thinking the force will be with Disney for years to come.

So what gives? Those smart phone concerns weren't conjured up yesterday, we've heard that argument for months. Same for the ESPN worries. Well, like I said in yesterday's commentary, Friday was messy: I suggested that during the season of low trading volume (the Christmas season) prices can range in a big way, and that that was a reasonable explanation for the depth of Friday's decline. Well, I gotta completely take that one back: In the two hours following yesterday's audio, volume absolutely exploded! I mentioned that, at the time of my recording, Facebook had traded 7 million shares, while its average daily volume of late has been 27 million. Well, by the end of the day it had traded a total of 36 million shares. The commodity stock I mentioned (which happened to be Freeport-McMoRan) ended up trading more than twice its daily volume. 96 million shares of Apple changed hands versus average daily volume of 46 million. And Disney shares traded at 3-times their normal pace. So, no, yesterday wasn't about lack of attention after all.

So what was it? Did the "market" suddenly change its mind about what the Fed rate hike means going forward? Too soon to tell (although I would classify the week's action by sector as being somewhat defensive [as in fear of an economic slowdown]). Was it oil? Well, I heard that a lot yesterday, but no, not in my opinion. Was it because it was a big options/futures expiration day? Maybe a bit. Tax loss selling? Yeah, some of that I suspect. Technical (charts) weakness? Yep, there was definitely some of that.

Jim Cramer had an interesting take that hadn't occurred to me. He's thinking it was hedge funds making good on an avalanche of redemption requests. Here's from
Jim Cramer could only explain the decline of the averages on Friday as a repercussion of being in the heart of liquidation season.

Liquidation season occurs when clients of poorly performing hedge funds ask for their money back. It tends to occur at the end of a quarter or year. In response, hedge funds must sell stocks in the open market to raise the money that needs to be returned to investors.

That means if a hedge fund performed poorly this year; it is probably flooded with liquidation requests right now. In fact, there have been more failed hedge funds this year than any time since 2008.

Hmm... that is interesting... I do know that anyone who had the "good fortune" to have been able to hire a David Einhorn or Bill Ackman (modern legends in the hedge fund business), to name only two, at the beginning of this year are less wealthy on paper far into the double digits (percent-wise) versus where they started when they joined the elite. So Cramer---himself being a former hedge fund manager---indeed may be on to something.

Oh well, all I know is that today some really lucky folks bought some really good companies on the cheap and, assuming they're really patient, are likely to one day be really happy they did. Really...

On that note---after hitting you with four commentaries in the past three days---I'm going to let you off easy and close up for the weekend. Plus, I'm saving up for the year-end letter(s)...

Hope you're thoroughly enjoying your loved ones this holiday season!

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