Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Street Scan

Billionaires are now Slumdog Millionaires because:

A. The credit markets remain frozen
B. The US economy is falling off the cliff
C. Corporate earnings are headed substantially lower (<$50 S&P 500 operating earnings)
D. The socialist programs of the Obama administration threaten capitalism as we know it
E. All of the above, and then some
from International Monetary Fund “Global Financial Stability Report (GFSR) Market Update”
January 28, 2009

“Until now banks have managed to obtain sufficient capital to offset existing writedowns, but that is mainly due to the massive public sector injections of capital in the fourth quarter. The worsening credit conditions affecting a broader range of markets have raised our estimate of the potential deterioration in U.S.-originated credit assets held by banks and others from $1.4 trillion in the October 2008 GFSR to $2.2 trillion. Much of this deterioration has occurred in the mark-to-market portion of our estimates (mostly securities)*, especially in corporate and commercial real estate securities, but degradation is also occurring in the loan books of banks, reflecting the weakening outlook for the economy.”
Aggregate assets in money market funds (institutional and retail): $4 trillion (approx.)
Total market capitalization of the S&P 500 as of March 9, 2009: $5.9 trillion
from Dave Rosenberg, North American Economist, Merrill Lynch
March 9, 2009

"Beige Book mentions nine positive areas
Even if we still do not see a bottom in sight just yet for the economy or the equity market, there are sectors that at least from a macro standpoint have a relatively firm underpinning even in the midst of this unbelievably severe recession and bear market phase. We have said it once and we will say it again, the Fed's Beige Book offers up the most timely and detailed information on sectors. The most recent report that was issued last week contained positive mentions on these nine areas of the economy:
􀂄 Food production
􀂄 Pharmaceuticals
􀂄 Apparel retailing
􀂄 IT services
􀂄 Biotech
􀂄 Aircraft manufacturing
􀂄 Fast food restaurants
􀂄 Discount stores
􀂄 Environmental services

Positives outperformed the market by 800 basis points
While these sectors, on average, were down 8% between the most recent Beige Book and the one that preceded it in early January, they collectively outperformed the market by 800 basis points.

21 negative sectors mentioned
At the same time, there were 21 sectors that received negative mentions in last week's Beige Book. They are listed below:
􀂄 Travel/tourism
􀂄 Education services
􀂄 Luxury goods (jewelry)
􀂄 Agri-business
􀂄 Banks
􀂄 Homebuilding
􀂄 Electronic equipment
􀂄 Computers
􀂄 Motor vehicles
􀂄 Staffing services
􀂄 Commercial real estate
􀂄 Rails/Trucking
􀂄 Furniture/Appliances
􀂄 Health care services (elective)
􀂄 Oil drilling
􀂄 Metals and mining
􀂄 Wood products
􀂄 Media services
􀂄 Petrochemicals
􀂄 Construction equipment
􀂄 Semiconductors

So, for every positive mention, there were more than two negatives. The S&P 500 sector equivalents, on average, declined 26% between the last two Beige Books, and underperformed as a group by 1,000 basis points."
email sent last night to "Kudlow Report" producer Donna Vislocky in response to Larry’s plea for bullish commentators:

“On tonight's program, Larry said his producers were having a hard time booking those who were bullish. Well, here I am.

As someone who is now 100% invested, I am at the opposite end of when I last appeared on your program in early 2007 when I was highly cautious. Today, however, the picture is swung completely to the other side of the pendulum.

Here are a few bullish reasons that I am more than willing to debate a bear:

1 - Investor psychology is so thick you could cut it with a knife. Too bearish now, just like they were too bullish two years ago.
2 - A mountain of cash sits in money market funds - nearly $4 trillion. The stock market value for the S&P 500 stands today at $5.9 trillion.
3 - Valuation levels in many areas are very attractive and any upside earnings surprise would drive stocks higher.
4 - Technical analysis has recently begun to generate some positive divergences - downward momentum pressures have diminished, divergences (emerging markets, for example) have, uh, emerged.

Moreover, as someone who has criticized mark-to-market since March of last year, I am in complete alignment with one of tonight's guests, Steve Forbes.”

*emphasis added

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