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Daily Market Update – January 16, 2014 (Close)
After some nice, but expected, earnings from JP Morgan, Wells Fargo and Bank of America, comes Citigroup to put a damper on the whole thing.
Morgan Stanley reports tomorrow, but isn’t likely to follow along the same path, although it, too, is an example of a high beta big money center bank and could easily have a magnified response to its earnings report. It certainly has seen its share of share gains and has something to give back in the event of disappointment, but it has an essentially different business model from some other sector mates.
At the very least it did get caught up in today’s Citigroup induced downdraft, but not enough to make it an appealing earnings related trade.
Magnified responses may be a theme this earnings season as fundamentals may get more scrutiny and there are lots of stocks that have enjoyed significant climbs in the past 15 months, as the market has carried many along for the ride.
Goldman Sachs, which used to be a favorite of mine, also reported earnings this morning. It usually makes large moves in the days before earnings and then immediately upon the news, but this time was different. It essentially did nothing, but it was mixed news that greeted the street, so perhaps a flat reaction could be justified and even be interpreted as a positive sign of a discerning, rather than emotional market.
The high beta names are going to be especially vulnerable, as Best Buy demonstrated this morning, giving up about 9 months worth of gains in the pre-market.
Lately, both the after-hours and pre-open markets have underestimated the extent of the damage, whereas in the past it was often a place to pick up relative bargains in the aftermath of people over-reacting to bad news and having price moves magnified by low volume and wider than normal spreads.
Seeing some of these big drops it is certainly tempting to want to pick up shares, but that’s where the question of “value trap versus value” enters the picture. For many high beta stocks, especially those that have never demonstrated the ability to recover from a significant price decline, they really need to prove that the fabled story isn’t finally over.
Next week, besides being a holiday shortened trading week is one that has little meaningful economic news scheduled to be released, but will be a busy one for earnings and is more likely to give us some information regarding the economy than the big money center banks are able to do.
Hopefully the next two trading days will allow a good mix of assignments and rollovers, as there may be plenty of opportunity ahead to start thinking about whether some new lower stock prices represent value or trap.
The challenge, as always when a monthly cycle approaches its end, is to get out of the process intact and be able to move forward. With more and more stocks now beginning to offer expanded weekly options there is less need to be so heavily loaded at a monthly option expiration date, such as this Friday.
Instead, the monthly options may wind up being more strategic choices to allow the cushion of time when earnings are due to be announced or when trying to capture a dividend.
Ideally, I would like to see a fairly even distribution of expiration dates between any given day and the coming monthly expiration, but that still proves to be a challenge that is in part dictated by such things as availability and the timing of earnings and dividends, but it would be a nice way to spread risk out in a market that may be prone to sudden moves.
Hopefully, those sudden moves will wait a bit. For now, steady seems to be a nice way to go.
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