Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Motion Is Not Movement: Risk Appetite Still Unchecked

Despite sporting an above large cap P/E (19.1 times versus 12.6, estimated for 2011) and despite having an exceptionally optimistic consensus earnings estimate for 2012 (27.3% versus 9.3%) and despite facing the heightened risk of an era of diminished US consumer demand (which is the primary business space small companies operate in), the emboldened bottom up crowd (see yesterday's comment re the bottom up idol, Warren Buffett) joined by the who-cares-what-direction-the-market-moves-just-as-long-as-the-market-moves momos remain fairly sanguine as they have yet to show any meaningful and sustained reduction in their risk appetite. To see this clearly, just look at the accompanying chart illustrating the performance of the small caps (IJR) versus the large (SPX) and mega caps (OEF) over the past 2 years.

While there have been relatively brief periods of reduced risk appetite (when small caps underperform their larger cap brethren (bottom portion of the accompanying chart), the cumulative result still remains fairly rosy.

Investment Strategy Implications

Today's big market move is yet another example of a point I have made on numerous previous occasions: large moves within trading ranges mean nothing. It is only when the current first wave of the bear (my view) or the bull market correction (bulls view) resolves itself with a clear downside or upside break AND is accompanied by confirming action from other indices that the true trend will be exposed.

One early sign would be if there is or is not a change in the risk appetite investors and their momo cohorts. And that would reveal itself in the relative performance of the small caps. Telescoping that performance into today's action: OEF -2.11%, IJR -2.62%. Applying the point made re the range bound market to todays' performance: motion is not movement. Unless and until this changes on a sustained basis, the risk appetite remains unchecked.

Motion is not movement. In fact, motion often resembles commotion.

Note: Accounts managed by Blue Marble Research presently hold a long/short position in the above mentioned issues and their inverse comparables.

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