FAANG Stocks Floundering

INVESTOR’S first read.com – Daily edge before the open
DJIA: 26,652
S&P 500: 3,235
Nasdaq Comp.:10,461
Russell: 1,490
Friday July 24, 2020    8:44 a.m.
:   No post on Monday

November 15, 2019 (DJIA – 28,004)   I Called for a bear market to start in January, that the initial plunge would be 12%-18% – “straight down.” It started mid-February, dropped 16.3%, rallied then  plunged another 32.8%.
January 20, 2020 (DJIA:29,348) My blog,  “INSANITY,” projected a bear market decline of  30% – 45%. The DJIA plunged 38.4% in 21 days.
With the DJIA at 18,591, I wrote that , while I see lower prices later in the year, I expect a big rally with the upside potential of DJIA 22,037 (S&P 500 : 2,617).
With the DJIA at 23,942 (S&P 500) on April 15, I
called for  an end to  rally, up 29% but well short of how far the rally extended.  On May 18, I began to warn of  Bubble #2
NOTE: It is imperative that investors assess the level of risk they can  tolerate and be sure their level of cash addresses it now, so they are ready for the next leg down whether it comes tomorrow or months from now.   One other point, it is remotely possible President Trump will resign presumably for health reasons.  The impact on the market would be a big down for 90 minutes, then a very  sharp rally as the potential for long-lost unity in America would become a possibility.

     On July 14, I headlined, “Wall Street’s Darlings De-Fanged” after the prior day’s   outsized one-day reversal with the close at the day’s low for  of all but one.   It signaled exhaustion for the FAANG stocks: Facebook (FB), Amazon (AMZN), Apple (AAPL), Netflix (NFLX), Microsoft (MSFT), Tesla (TSLA) which was confirmed yesterday when they plunged.
Look for a spike down in each followed by a rally which must be read closely. Buying must be aggressive, or it signals serious weakness. The Street has been quick to jump on any pullback to buy these stocks. Failure now indicates the group is in line for a major consolidation/correction.
Near-term support must hold:
Facebook (FB): 223
Amazon (AMZN): 2,887
Apple (AAPL):363
Netflix (NFLX):466
Google (GOOG):1,486
Microsoft (MSFT):
Tesla (TSLA):1,407
Don’t believe our economy is in  dire straits ?
Walk around the block,
look to the right, look to the left.  Efficiency of getting anything done has ground to a halt. Communication sucks. The tempo of business muted.  Parents and consumers are afraid to go out. Stimulus money will be hoarded if not spent, who knows what to expect next ?  Dominos will be tumbling for a long time as the key interaction between businesses and consumers is disrupted.
Will the announcement of a treatment/vaccine help ?   Of course, but serious damage has been done to the economy and confidence  in institutions, employers and the government.
So why are stock prices more overvalued now than before COVID-19 struck ?
For one, the Street is looking beyond this crisis and economic woes to a recovery. For another, so many investment decisions are based on algorithms. It appears they aren’t programmed for an extended and severe recession/depression.
Bottom Line:
    Two weeks ago, I picked July 27 as the day that the big correction into the fall would begin. Admittedly, news could delay that. A stimulus package would be a life-saver for some, but would be an admission that  the economy is in very serious shape.
But this bubble is due to burst.
Recent headlines:
“Bear Market Rally Top Looms”  (July 9 )
Bubble Burst Looms !  COVID-19 Repeat”   (July 10)
One More Spike Before Fall Plunge”   (July 13)
“Wall Street’s Darlings De-Fanged”  (July14)
Vaccine – a Gamer Changer ?”   (July 15)
“Market Turns Down July 27”  (July 16)
One More Push Before a Crunch ?”   (July 20)
“Rally to Set Up Correction”   (July 21)
“At Some Point: Market to Open – No Buyers in Sight”   (July 22)
“Last Push Before Bubble Bursts (July 27 ??)  (July 23)


Thursday July 23, 2020 (DJIA: 27,005) “Last Push Before Flash Crash (July 27 ??)    The New York Weekly Economic Index (WEI) has stalled after a rebounding from depressed May/June levels, according to Axios Markets. The index covers daily and weekly consumer, labor and production  data and confirms bearish readings  compiled by Goldman Sachs, Jefferies and Oxford Economics..

Add to that, lower readings by the St. Louis Fed’s coincident employment and TSA checkpoint data and anyone paying attention has to be concerned that stock market valuations far greater than those in February before a 35% flash crash.

This doesn’t have to be complicated. This is Bubble #2, the first being a Fed-nurtured bubble between December 2018 and February 2020.

Bubbles expand until something pricks them or they burst on their own.
The S&P 500 was extremely overvalued in February before the COVID flash crash.
With corporate earnings down sharply and no assurance of a significant rebound in the future, the S&P 500 is so much more overvalued today.

Bottom Line:
       Flash crash #2 when the bubble bursts.  Expect Q2 earnings to be a better read than expected, but that is because they will be low-balled on the Street to create that effect.
The Fed, Administration and Street don’t want the party to end and will do all they can to prevent a sell off before November 3.
At some point, the market will open and there will be no buyers.
Why ? Because money managers will have difficulty justifying paying up for stocks, especially since they are well aware the future is bleak and uncertain. There is liability here.
Chief investment officer at UBS Ag, Mark Haefele, was quoted today by Bloomberg News saying, “As large asset allocators, when we look across, there are very few alternatives to equities right now.”

But at these levels, Cash is an alternative.

No,  cash doesn’t earn a return, but it protects portfolio values against losses and provides a reservoir to tap when the market is more reasonably priced.

      Risk of another flash crash is great enough to justify a cash reserve of 35% – 50%. or  more, depending on one’s tolerance for risk.

Wednesday July 21, 2020 “At Some Point: Market to Open – No Buyers In Sight”
    For most of the Street’s tech Sweethearts, also referred to as the FAANG stocks, July 13’s one-day reversal signaled a near-term top. The following day, I headlined “Wall Street’s Darlings De-Fanged.”
    Why on earth would I take on the tech stocks, the “buy ‘em and don’t look back” stocks ?  No one else is.
That huge July 13 spike up with a close at the low for the day was a warning signal for Facebook (FB), Amazon (AMZN), Apple (AAPL), Netflix (NFLX), Microsoft (MSFT), Tesla (TSLA). So far, that spike was the “top” for all but  Google (GOOG), which had its one-day reversal yesterday.
The tech cult runs deep, everyone loves a sure thing….until reality sets in.
As if I wasn’t looking for trouble on that score, I have been calling for a major correction starting July 27, fully aware a lot of things can happen on  that day and the days to follow.
     Well, if I am  crazy enough to do this every day before the open for 11 years  (very few do),  I must step up to the plate and take my cuts  even if risking a “whiff.”
 If the market were down 30% or more, I could be more optimistic  knowing the market was discounting  a host of adversity and uncertainty from a historically overvalued level.
On July 13, I called for, “One More Spike Before a Fall Plunge.” Since then, the market has risen until yesterday.
At some point (July 27), the market will open with no buyers in sight and whoosh, down it goes, a decline that depending on what new negatives hit it when it tries to rally, could pass 35% as memories of the February/March flash crash surface.
This time, the rebound would take a lot longer.
Tuesday July 21, 2020 (DJIA: 26,680) “Rally to Precede Correction”
Axios Markets’ Dion Rabouin claims Wall Street analysts are discussing the increasing possibility of a “blue wave” Democratic sweep of Congress and the presidency, that  Goldman Sachs, Societe General, State Street , TD Securities and UBS are preparing lists of Biden buys.
      I am not sure about that – a blue wave is not a certainty, says Ryan Detrick, senior strategist for LPL Financial.
Detrick notes that since 1928, the stock market has accurately predicted the winner of the presidential election 87% of the time when the S&P 500 was higher three months before the election, with the incumbent  party usually winning, when lower the  incumbents lost.
I am well aware investors tend to  vote their wallet. I also think the Fed, Administration (obviously) and Street are doing their best to prop the market up until November 3.
Bottom Line
If I am right about a major correction going into the November 3 election, the odds of winning favor the Democrats.
We are now getting the surge I referred to yesterday and on July 13 (“One More Spike Before Fall Plunge”). I expect it to carry through Friday with a decline starting Monday, July 27.
A lot  of good and bad can happen in this short interim to change that forecast.  I expect the $600/month to be extended over the weekend. That’s good for individuals but bad in that it would be an admission that the economy is in the very “deep stuff.”

Monday July 20, 2020 (DJIA: 26,671) “One More Push Before a Crunch”
Last Thursday, I reminded readers that on July 6, I warned of a market sell off this month, but after one more spike up before the plunge.
I picked July 27 as the day for the beginning of the plunge which could add up to a decline of 30% – 45%, as memories of the February/March flash crash re-surface.
My reasoning is simple.  In February, the S&P 500 was historically more overvalued that at any time in the past except for the 2000 dot-com bubble.
We have so many more problems today than we had in February, why should the S&P 500 sell within 5% of February’s level ?
Aided by a half dozen monster tech stocks, the Nasdaq Comp. is in a world of its own, most of them beneficiaries of the COVID-19 shutdown.
At some point, I expect the stock market to begin discounting the damage done by COVID and measures undertaken to counter it.
I think that has to happen soon, that’s why I picked July 27, right in the middle of Q2 earnings season.
We live in an unreal world, anything can happen, investors should prepare for the worst and be glad if  less than that happens.
I expect one more push up before the big crunch. Two things are certain – uncertainty and the bizarre.
Bottom Line:
The market will attempt to nice jump up  today, as I have expected before the beginning of a sell off. Q 2 earnings will be ugly, but the Street has likely low-balled projections enough it can report “better-than-expected” results.  What a con-job !   What an unreal world.

Friday July 17, 2020 – No post
Thursday, July 16, 2020  (DJIA:26,870) “Market Turns Down July 27.”   On July 6, I warned of a “Market sell off this month, plunge into year-end.”    In the interim I have called for “One more spike before the fall plunge.”
Today, a week from now, how about July 27 when earnings are pounding the turf ?”
“How far down ? 30%-45%”
“For how long ? Beyond November 3rd presidential election.”

Yesterday, a
MarketWatch headline  featured CNBC’s Jim Cramer’s call for a market top on July 28.  Referring to a Larry Williams chart, Cramer first sees the possibility of a 4% -5% spike before the market rolls over and heads down on  JULY 28th.
Well, you heard it here first !  It’s nice to know he is on the same page as I.
Bottom Line:
Between now and November 3, I expect more stimulus.  While that would help individuals, it would be further confirmation that our economy is in a lot more trouble than the Street believes (or admits) it is in now.
A lot can happen between now and July 27, but the bear market rally in the S&P 500, DJIA, NY Index, DJ Transports is stalling in an irregular sideways trading range, kind of like a long rotten limb of a tree that could snap at any time if given a little pressure.
This pattern resembles that of 2007 where we had irregularity, several breakouts on the upside, and two rally failures before the big plunge.
What will snap that “limb” ?
The realization that a “V” and stock market and economic recovery is going to be more like an “L.”
COVID-19 came at a time the economy was in its 11th year of expansion, a time when a recession was long overdue, more than two times the norm.  The economy was on the threshold of recession in Q4 2018, before the Fed came to the rescue with hype about the economy being “in a good place,” interest rate cuts and an unofficial QE.
COVID and measures to counter it, have had a severe impact on the economy BUT not the stock market – that has YET TO HAPPEN.
         But it will with a major slide into October/November. I picked July 27 as the start !!
Wednesday July 15, 2020 (DJIA: 26,642) “Vaccine -a Game Changer ?”
Of course !  The question is, how much is the expectation of a vaccine already priced in a market that is only 6% below the level where the devastation of COVID-19 triggered a recession and hammered the S&P 500 down 35.6% before the rebound ?
While the market is up sharply in futures trading before the open, it cannot afford another rally failure.  Buying the open is risky.

Reportedly, there are 150 vaccines under development. Monday, Pfizer (PFE) and BioNTech received FDA permission to fast track two candidates.
After the close yesterday, a drug developed by the National Institute of Health and Moderna, Inc. announced it will begin a 30,000 person final testing for an experimental vaccine that has demonstrated  the ability to produce what are called neutralizing antibodies in the bloodstream of 45 volunteers molecules key to blocking infection comparable to those found in COVID survivors. The government hopes to have results of tests by year-end.
Expect daily disclosures of efforts to develop treatments and vaccines. Expect these announcements to goose the market at times.
What does this mean for the market ?   Hope and frustration.
Hope for the obvious reason, frustration because test results may not be known for months and there is always the possibility a vaccine wont be available for distribution until well after that.
Bottom Line:

This is the spike I referred to Monday, the one that will lead to a peak from which the market will sell off into the fall.
Standing in the way will be the Fed, Administration and Wall Street and announcements about potential vaccines and treatments for COVID-19.
Even so, stock prices can only become so overpriced that buyers walk away, opening the door for a huge sell off.
The markets responded to a one-day reversal on the downside Monday with a one-day reversal on the upside.  The key will be whether the market can  sustain a follow through today, especially with  the tech stocks, which cannot afford another rally failure.
        Kind of like a tug of war over a stream where first one side gets their feet wet, then the other side.  The key is follow through.
We are right smack in the middle of Q2 earnings season. While they will be ugly, the Street has already low-balled projections in an effort to minimize their impact.
What to do:  The nimble and savvy, can play, but sit close to the exits. Newcomers seeking their fortune can play until they get wiped out.  The rest can raise a cash  reserve in line with their tolerance for risk.
July 14, 2020  (DJIA: 26,085“Wall Street’s Darlings De-Faang-ed”
BIG spike and reversal in the popular growth stocks yesterday.
Facebook (FB), Amazon (AMZN), Apple (AAPL), Netflix (NFLX), Google (GOOG), aka FAANG stocks, closed down for the day after huge spikes up early in the day, resulting in one-day reversals, generally a bad sign.
I had a little sparring session with the Seeking Alpha folks yesterday.  Seems like there is just a bit too much bravado about owning Apple, Netflix and the stay-at-home stocks that needed to be challenged.
There is a lot of human nature in this zoo. Any time someone feels it is safe to boast about owning a winner, the stock is due for a comeuppance.  Funny how that works.
Even so, yesterday’s blog, “One More Spike Up Before Fall Plunge, ” was referring to just  this kind of action, a big surge upward that fails to hold.
It will be important to see if these stocks can  press to new highs or if yesterday marked their all-time high.
I expect the same thing to happen to the rest of the market that happened to the  FAANG stocks, but less  dramatically.
I thought July 27 would be a good target date for the 30% – 45% slide to start, but there are a lot of balls up in the air – more stimulus, Fed/Administration/Street hype.  Lies about future earnings as Q2 reports hit the street. There is a presidential election in 18 weeks.
I am seeing the same cockiness, arrogance and denial now, that I have seen at the top of the last 14 bull markets, in varying degrees but more so in 1968 1973, 2000, and 2007.
Today’s market is different in that the Fed is trying to micro-manage it. I don’t think a bunch of corner-office bankers are smart enough to do that without creating chaos.  Markets should be allowed to find a level that discounts known and perceived positives and negatives, not micro-managed to accommodate a vision.
The result is a bubble with horrifying results when pricked. I believe the Fed was responsible for Bubble #1 between December 2018 and February 2020. I believe it is responsible for Bubble #2 between March 23 and today.
The Fed needs to be de-FAANG-ED.
Bottom Line:
The bulls won’t go gently. At some point here, today, tomorrow in a week, buyers will be a “no-show” – enter flash crash #2.
Monday July 13, 2020  (DJIA:26,085)“One More pike Before Fall Plunge”
Oh my, what a difference 11 years makes. If these guys would just walk around the block  and draw on common sense for arriving at decisions.
A Sunday Bloomberg article, “Wall street Forges a New Deal With Data in Coronavirus Age” highlights how far from common sense the Street has gotten.
Now the direction of the market will be decided by restaurant reservations on Open Table, TSA checkpoint data, international dining bookings, , COVID-19 reproduction rate, daily deaths, the positivity rate ( share of tests coming back positive), hospitalization and capacity rates, gasoline use data, traffic congestion, credit card usage, and yes,  Transport Authority turnstile entries.
How about the fact that a 6% decline in the S&P 500 does not come close to discounting what has happened, is happening and the damage it will cause in the future ?
The Nasdaq Composite is 3.8% above the February 19 level where the flash crash started ?  Granted, the index is hugely distorted by a handful of big-cap tech stocks,  but stocks were overvalued before the crash and are more so now with corporate earnings plunging and with little hope of a quick rebound.
        With all the uncertainty that bedevils this business, one thing is consistent –
Greed and fear.  Greed (and denial) at tops and fear at bottoms.
So, what will it take for the stock market to plunge ?
Humans being human.
Current fundamentals suck and the future is anyone’s guess.   It is difficult for money managers to justify investing at these levels faced with such overvaluation, adversity and untethered uncertainty.
        At some point  here,  fiduciary responsibility will override the urge to clip another percentage point or two for portfolios and buying will Vanish ergo a freefall as everyday selling finds buyers are a “no show.”
Memories of what happened in February/March with a  21-day 35.6% drop in the S&P 500 will resurface and sellers will  race to the exits adding to the initial plunge.
The result: a 30% – 45% plunge (starting July 27 ??) will occur heading into October.

Bottom Line:
Bear market bottoms are accompanied by gloom and doom, so much so, no one in their right mind can justify buying stocks based on current and potential developments.
Ironically, we have gloom and doom at a time the Nasdaq Comp. is hitting new highs  with the S&P 500 is within 6% of an all-time high.
Obviously, the Street is looking beyond the pandemic  crisis.  How far beyond is it willing to look ?   This looks like denial to me.  If several big hitters bail out, they all will bail out.
The Market Averages:  No matter how bad Q2 corporate earnings are, the Street will claim they are better than expected (SOP).  Will Companies return to a policy of guidance ?
In this environment, I expect one more push up before a sell off can occur, the DJIA rising above the spike on June 16 of 26,611  and the S&P 500 above June 9’s 3,222.   This is Wall Street’s definition of cognitive dissonance.
Friday July 10, 2020 “Bubble Burst Looms – COVID-19 Repeat ?”
The level of stock prices does not take into account the amount of short-and long-term damage that has been done to the economy, as well as the uncertainty that mounts as dominos tumble.
But stock prices are what the Street thinks they are until that changes.
As long as investors buy the favorites and don’t sell the also-ran stocks, the market will go up.
At some point, institutions will decide prices are too rich, cannot be justified , and they will stop buying. Since most track the same indicators they will all decide not to buy at roughly the same time, ergo a flash crash.
As stocks tumble, fear creeps in and other investors sell, driving stocks lower.
When ?
The Street’s infatuation with tech stocks and generally the big blues reminds me of 1970 -1974’s “one-decision” stocks, the “nifty fifty” buy ‘em and never sell them.
       At the time, I was head of Economic and Stock Market Studies for John Winthrop Wright’s Wright Investors’ Services.  We cranked out study after study detailing why those stocks were overvalued, and for a while it seemed that we were dead wrong, they kept becoming more and more overvalued.
It took the 1973 -1975 recession and bear markets (1973-1974) and (1976-1978) to destroy the myth of the Nifty Fifty.
Included where some that are no longer around: Eastman Kodak, Polaroid, Sears Ch.11), Burroughs, Int’l Tel.& Tel.,  Black&Decker, Int’l Flavors & Frag., Gillette (merged/acquired), American Home, Coca-Cola, IBM, Johnson& Johnson, Xerox, McDonald to mention a few.
Once out of institutional favor, it took 8 – 10 years for these stocks to recoup their peak losses.
The stock market is like a stormy sea – respect it !
The current buy-hold myth will find its way out the rear exit, in time.
There is a reason for the bromide, Buy Low, Sell High.” It vastly increases the odds of success.
The fact the S&P 500 was able to drop 35.6% in 21 days strongly suggests the market was overpriced in February, as it is again today in the midst of a recession and a scary future.
Fear like this is usually present at market bottoms not tops.
This is the “Sell High” part of the bromide, or at least raise cash to a level in keeping with one’s tolerance for risk.  It’s another man-made BUBBLE, and it will burst in spite of efforts by the Fed, Administration and Street to prop it up until after the November 3 elections.

George Brooks
Investor’s first read.com
A Game-On Analysis, LLC publication
Investor’s first read, is a Game-On Analysis, LLC publication for which George Brooks is sole owner, manager and writer.  Neither Game-On Analysis, LLC, nor George  Brooks  is  registered as an investment advisor.  Ideas expressed herein are the opinions of the writer, are for informational purposes, and are not to serve as the sole basis for any investment decision. References to specific securities should not be construed  as particularized or as investment advice as recommendations that you or any investors purchase or sell these securities on their own account. Readers are expected to assume full responsibility for conducting their own research pursuant to investment in keeping with their tolerance for risk.













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