On Friday, in the weekly Friday Tricks and Trends post exclusive to my subscription site JubakAM.com http://jubakam.com/2016/02/friday-trick-or-trend-a-pattern-in-a-pattern-less-market-its-called-a-consolidation/ I argued that there’s actually a pattern to this seemingly patternless market. It’s called “consolidation” and it’s characterized by extreme volatility and rotation among sectors as traders look for leadership in market where the old leadership has broken down. A consolidation is also characterized by selling of high-PE, high momentum stocks that were winners in the last upwardly trending market. Certainly traders and investors could see that today, February 8, as the NASDAQ Composite moved back toward a bear (down 18% from its high as of the close) and as stocks such as Facebook (F), Netflix (NFLX), and Amazon (AMZN) continued to sell off.
This morning I added a post summarizing technical analysis from Chip Anderson’s Chartwatchers newsletter at StockCharts.com that reached a similar conclusion from a different angle. Anderson’s conclusion is that we’re in what he calls a “rounding top” with stocks in a range of 16500 to 16000 on the Dow Industrials and looking like they’re going to test 16,000. There’s important support at 15,500 but after that things get rocky.
In other words both methods say we’re not in a bear yet, could maybe not get to a bear, and that the next few weeks are going to be an important test.
That’s what I’m working on at my subscription JubakAM.com site. I think there’s some value to you in passing on the direction of my thinking about the market on that site. Hope so anyway.
Of course, there’s an ulterior motive to sharing this with you: If you decide that you’d like more of my thoughts on the market in my JubakAM.com posts, I’m hoping that you’ll subscribe to my site at JubakAM.com for $199 a year. (By the way, you can get a full refund during the first seven days if you change your mind for any reason.)
Beginning at the end of last week and into the weekend JubakPicks.com wasn’t loading especially well. I was getting the page only on about one of five tries.
I think we’ve fixed the problem. Turns out somebody was trying, via a robot program, to scrape all the content from JubakPicks to their own site. When the software at Amazon Web Services, our hosting service, prevented that, the result was something equivalent to a denial of service attack.
I think that’s fixed as of this a.m.–until the next “event” in the wonderful world of the Internet.
On Thursday, January 28, Alibaba Group Holding (BABA), reported December quarter earnings of 73 cents a share beating the consensus estimate of 70 cents a share. Revenue climbed 35% year over year to $5.36 billion, above the estimate of $5.08 billion.
In today’s (February 8) trading the New York traded ADRs (American Depositary Receipts) were off another 2.46%% at the close. Alibaba ADRs are off 24.8for 2016 to date.
Welcome to the wonderful world of Alibaba, which is a the same time one of the world biggest and fastest growing e-commerce companies–and a trading vehicle for anyone who wants to buy or sell China. This year selling China has been a big play as Shanghai stocks have sunk into a bear market and are very close to giving back 50% of all the huge gains in the rally that peaked in June 2015. And that has pretty much overwhelmed the growth that Alibaba has recorded.
It’s way easier said than done to advise you to look past the short-term volatility in China’s markets–Hey, Shanghai is up 100%, down 50% regularly, it seems–and remain focused on Alibaba as it extends its grip on China’s domestic markets and breaks into overseas economies. But Alibaba is down 12.19% since I added it to my Jubak’s Picks portfolio at $76.25 on October 26, 2015, and with growth in China’s economy slowing, you certainly shouldn’t overlook Alibaba’s role as the easiest way to buy and sell China for many investors.
As of today, though, I think the Shanghai market at 2763 on the Shanghai Composite is relatively close to a (perhaps temporary) bottom at 2500. (That level is likely, in my opinion, to bring out support from the People’s Bank. The People’s Bank will probably withdraw cash from the financial system after the Lunar New Year holiday ends this week. That could be tricky.) I’m keeping Alibaba in my Jubak’s Picks portfolio with a target of $95 a share and also adding the ADRs to my long-term Jubak Picks 50 portfolio in the emerging markets trend silo with a timeliness rating of Good to Buy Now. (And even better in a week or so.)
Alibaba’s quarterly report wasn’t perfect. Gross merchandise value, an important measure of the value of the stuff that Alibaba moves through its various e-commerce sites grew by just 14% year over year at the Taobo Marketplace and by 37% at the somewhat smaller Tmall. That worked out to a total increase of 23% year to year, less than analysts had expected. If you were looking for signs that Alibaba was slowing along with the Chinese economy–and many traders and investors were–this is where you could find it.
But other growth metrics that I think have more significant long-term effects pointed in strongly positive directions. Active buyers in China grew to 407 million in 2015, a 22% year over year growth rate. Gross merchandise value via mobile climbed 99% year over year to 68% of total Chinese gross merchandise value for Alibaba. Gross margin climbed to 68.3%, up 46 basis points from the prior quarter, but down 2.98 percentage points year over year. That is to be expected as Alibaba spends more to expand into international markets and further into rural China–operating expenses climbed 16% year over year.
International revenue grew by 14% but at just $97 million retail business revenue from international markets remains a tiny percentage of overall Alibaba revenue. Cloud computing, another important future business (ask Amazon.com,) grew by 126% year over year but still made up just 3% of total revenue.
Your timing decision on buying Alibaba depends on your sense of when the current bear in Chinese stocks will end–and how long it might be until we get the next downward trend in Chinese markets. The adjustments necessary to move China from an export to a consumer driven economy will take more than a few months. But I think Alibaba will be a key part of this adjustment and of the expansion of e-commerce across Asia.
The weeklong Lunar New Year holiday starts in China on February 8. This isn’t do or die for Macao casinos but it would sure be nice to see traffic to the Macao properties of Las Vegas Sands (LVS), Wynn Resorts (WYNN) and most especially MGM Resorts International (MGM), since I own those shares in my Jubak Picks portfolio, pick up during this holiday. What I’d particularly like to see is a pick up in VIP and other big stakes gambling because that would indicate that wealthier Chinese have decided that going to Macao isn’t going to put them on the radar screens of Chinese anti-corruption investigators. A high roller trip to Macao has been a black mark almost as large as the purchase of a Rolex or anything from Louis Vuitton.
We won’t know the details on the make up of traffic to Macao until the holiday is over but pre-holiday traffic has been up over last year. Total visitors to Macao climbed 5% from the pre-holiday week in 2015 and the number of visitors to Macao from mainland China was ahead by 11% from the pre-holiday week in 2015.
We’re looking ahead to the Year of the Monkey so we should be prepared for tricks (and for being pelted with rotten fruit.) A Year of the Monkey can come in one of five varieties. 2016 is a Year of the Fire Monkey who is ambitious and adventurous, but also irritable.
In absolute terms the addition of 151,000 jobs to the U.S. economy isn’t a great number. It was below expectations from economists surveyed by Bloomberg for 190,000 jobs and it was a big drop from the 262,000 jobs created in December and the 280,000 added in November.
But in the context of a bond market that had just about concluded that the Federal Reserve couldn’t afford to raise interest rates even once in 2016, 151,000 is enough. Especially when you add in strong growth in hourly earnings and a drop in the official unemployment rate to 4.9%, the lowest level since February 2008.
Some doubt about the Fed’s moves for 2016 crept back into the market this morning, As of 10:20 a.m. New York time the yield on the U.S. 10-year Treasury had climbed 3 basis points–not much but any move upward breaks, so far, the recent trend downward. (And remember bond prices go down when yields go up.) The U.S. dollar was up 0.4% against the 10 currencies tracked in the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index.
The most important number in this morning’s report from the Labor Department, in my opinion, was the gain in hourly earnings. Average hourly earnings rose 0.5 percent from a month earlier. That took the year over year increase to 2.5%. That follows a 2.7% year over year growth rate for average hourly earnings in December. The two back to back readings of 2.5% and 2.7% certainly suggest that moderate wage growth is now the rule. That in turn is positive news from the Fed’s efforts to get inflation to 2% and gives the central bank some reason to believe that another interest rate increase won’t completely derail inflation or the economy.
I think these numbers are likely to leave the Fed very cautious. The Fed’s Open Market Committee doesn’t meet until March 16 so Janet Yellen & Co. will have February data and a look at early March numbers before they need to decide anything. There’s still a way better than even chance in my books that the Fed will opt to gather another month of data, which would put off the decision until the April 27 meeting or, since the April meeting doesn’t currently include a press conference in its schedule (and the Fed likes to make moves in interest rates at meetings with press conferences,) the June 15 meeting.
None of today’s news or my speculation above suggests that the Fed will aggressively raise interest rates in 2016–the earlier suggestion of four rate increases in 2016 still seems unlikely. But today’s news does introduce an element of uncertainty into a bond market that had been increasingly convinced that 2016 was “one-or-none.”
The “one or none” trade includes a little more risk this moaning