One of the hottest investment strategy themes over the past few years has been to invest in emerging markets. For years, these markets were very attractive to investors, as these economies tended to have much higher growth rates when compared to growth in the developed countries.
However, this investment strategy is now beginning to look questionable, as it appears that growth rates are much lower than many had expected.
The latest look at emerging markets from a fundamental standpoint comes from Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever PLC (NYSE/UL).
Polman stated that he believes that economically, these markets will continue to remain quite slow for some time, as these nations now need significant structural changes following their boom years. (Source: Bloomberg, December 2, 2013.)
This type of information is certainly a negative for any long-term investment strategy in the emerging markets. Structural reforms do not happen overnight; here in America, it’s obvious how slow and difficult it is to make any real structural changes.
For many, the investment strategy in emerging markets appears enticing because it seems so exotic. But comments such as those from the CEO of Unilever should be an eye-opener to these investors. Unilever obtains most of its revenue from emerging markets, so the company can feel the pulse of what’s really happening on the ground in these markets.
Frankly speaking, this isn’t a surprise to me; in these pages, I’ve mentioned seeing several warning signs that have alerted me to the weakness in not only the domestic economy, but the emerging markets as well.
Chart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com
The three-year chart above shows the activity of the … Read More
Let me begin by first stating this: I’m not going to talk about the Federal Reserve in any detail, or about the holiday shopping season and how it’s so important to the retail sector and the economy because these don’t seem to be of any great concern to the markets.
The reality is that both traders and investors appear to be really comfortable at this moment with the record-high levels in the stock market. Take a look at the multiple records recently set by the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average; you won’t see any sign of a pullback. Yet no one seems to care—even though this is all incredibly dangerous for the stock market.
This is simply not a normal trading environment for the stock market, since the Federal Reserve has largely been responsible for the record advances, as I previously discussed in this column on Friday.
A look at the CBOE Volatility Index (VIX), or the “fear index,” reveals the current multiyear low in the VIX, which we haven’t seen since 2007, prior to the subprime mortgage-driven stock market correction in 2008, The current low level of the VIX suggests that the stock market is relaxed and is not expecting any strong moves in either direction on the horizon. Looks like the market could be in for a surprise in the New Year.
Are traders simply too relaxed? The chart of the VIX below shows the big gaps between the VIX readings and the S&P 500.
In 2007, the VIX reading was below 10, but the S&P 500 didn’t begin to sell off until the VIX increased … Read More
Many times people ask me how I come up with my investment strategy.
Obviously, there is no one answer, but a common trick I use when developing any investment strategy is to look for areas where market sentiment still remains below peak optimism.
Following the tragic events of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster in Japan, market sentiment for uranium dropped, naturally. As Japan halted all nuclear power plants, shareholders adjusted their investment strategy to get out of uranium mining stocks.
Now, the time when market sentiment is about to shift for the uranium industry, I believe, is close at hand.
The reality for energy use over the next decade is that it will grow massively around the world. Nations like China and India cannot keep up with industrial demand for energy, which is now causing huge amounts of pollution.
Chinese authorities are aware of the polluting side effects of conventional energy sources, such as coal, and are building several new nuclear power plants, which is a much cleaner energy source. Market sentiment will continue to shift in favor of uranium as more nations realize that nuclear power will continue to be with us for some time.
Adjusting your investment strategy before everyone jumps on board is important. Even Japan is now conducting analysis to re-open 14 nuclear power plants, as five utilities within that nation are requesting these energy sources be put back online.
If you’re going to look for a uranium miner to add to your portfolio, one well-established and smooth-running company to consider is Cameco Corporation (NYSE/CCJ, TSX/CCO).
Chart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com
In the latest quarter, … Read More
Retailers are likely sitting on the edge as we head into the Thanksgiving weekend on Thursday, which means Black Friday is nearly here. The three days from Friday to Sunday are the most critical period in the shopping calendar for the retail sector, followed by “Cyber Monday” (the Monday after Black Friday when many retailers offer steep discounts online), which has historically been the biggest one-day online shopping event of the year.
So these four days are make-or-break for some retailers. What happens during these days could also help dictate what happens in December and 2014. And of course, what happens with consumer spending and the retail sector will dictate the gross domestic product (GDP) growth.
Yet while I was previously more positive towards the retail sector, I’m beginning to have some doubts. Not only am I worried about the weak jobs market, but confidence levels aren’t exactly high now, either. Currently, I expect the retail sector will face greater headwinds in December and early into 2014.
The reality is that the average consumer is uneasy about their economic situation, so they are nervous and hesitant to spend. This will impact the fourth-quarter GDP and make it much more difficult for investors to play the retail sector.
Retail sales advanced for the second straight month in October; albeit, at a muted pace, but it was still nonetheless better than what the market watchers expected. Sales on an ex-auto basis increased 0.5% in October, above the 0.4% Breifing.com estimate and in line with September’s reading. It was also the second straight up month for the retail sector.
But despite these advances, … Read More
The more I view this stock market, the more nervous I get. While Wall Street gets set for some terrific year-end bonuses and investors take some amazing gains off the table, I’m sensing some euphoric buying in numerous areas of the stock market.
We saw what happened to hydrogen-cell car maker Tesla Motors, Inc. (NASDAQ/TSLA), as the high-momentum stock rocketed to $194.50 on September 30. The euphoric buying was clearly overdone and set for a nasty decline as short-sellers jumped in. Fast-forward nearly two months, and the stock has plummeted 38%, sitting at the $120.00 level as of Friday. And while some are blaming multiple engine fires in several Tesla cars, the reality was the stock simply accelerated much too fast on the chart to levels that were clearly unsustainable. Even now, trading at 80 times (X) its estimated 2014 earnings and with a price-to-earnings growth (PEG) of 11, the valuation is obscene.
Areas that I view as having some excessive run-ups and valuation in the stock market include the Internet services and social media sectors, which include such stocks as Facebook, Inc. (NASDAQ/FB), Twitter, Inc. (NYSE/TWTR), and Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ/NFLX). These high-momentum stocks are excessively priced by the stock market, so investors should be wary of chasing them higher. As an alternative investment strategy, wait for the stock to come to you; in other words, wait for weakness in the stock market and for prices to decline before jumping into these investment areas.
The cloud services area in the tech sector has also seen some massive advances to the point where there is so much hype built into the … Read More