[Stock Market] The Great Humiliator Strikes Again.

Adam Rifkin -4K ((no email))
Mon, 13 Dec 1999 22:05:09 -0800 (PST)

I just wanted a sample of this newsletter pickled in space and time so
we can one day go back and grin about it as indicative of an era. I
wonder how many person-hours this year were wasted thinking about stock
prices (and, was it more or less than the amount of person-hours lost
due to Microsoft product-induced crashes and/or features?). It's ironic
that technology has created productivity efficiencies and, since nature
abhors a vacuum, that extra free time is now spent figuring out ways to
make money off the very technology that gives us the extra free time.

Even Rohit is wasting brain cells following crummy stocks under the
assumption that a PE less than 6 is a good thing from an old dead white
guy (e.g., Fisher/Graham) viewpoint, rather than seeing that number for
what it really is: an indication that no Big Money wants to touch this
stock. Price to earnings ratios have shifted from a measure of a
company's value to a gauge of a stock's relative popularity. Kids
frantically buying and selling Pokemon cards on eBay are training for
life in a debt-driven consumption society, in which pieces of paper with
cool-sounding names on them have become consumer goods in and of
themselves. [One ongoing joke is that Amazon isn't in the book business
or even the e-commerce business; rather, it is simply in the business of
selling stock, having perfected the business model that in turn launched
a thousand ships in search of the next great river through which the
money will flow. Vulture capitalists will turn down projects that seek
to change the world in favor of projects that endeavor to be
buzzword-compliant, to involve people who have played this shell game
before, and to go out of their way to tickle the fancies of the greater
Fools. The magic number that makes a VC's eyes light up like a pinball
machine still seems to be Dr. Evil's favorite: "one beeelyun dollars". :]

I do wonder how many people expecting the market to do such-and-such
[remember a FoRKer's prediction less than a year ago that after the Dow
hit 9600, it would then do an about-face and return to 6400?] will be
disappointed when it does precisely the opposite. Great Humiliator,
indeed! Here, I'll let you know EXACTLY when the bubble is going to
burst: 364 days after *I* take a job with any company that is paying me
mainly in stock options [me to potential employer: "Err, can I get those
options as puts instead of calls, please?" :]. The reason of course
being that everyone BUT me (and possibly Rohit?) has profitted
handsomely from the stock compensation packages of the 1990's, so in
essence we represent the absolute last ones into the pool. So the rest
of you can breathe easy that you're safe for at least another year, give
or take the post-January liquidity dry-up and the potential havoc it may
or may not be planning to wreak on the otherwise slap-happy drunken orgy
that is 1999's Nasdaq. [Talk about a self-recursive bubblehater's worst
nightmare: the NYSE and Nasdaq taking THEMSELVES public next year?! Oh,
the humanity!] By the way, before you ask: yes, I am fully invested.
But no, it's not enough money to make a lick of difference one way or
t'other. -- A.

> The Option Investor Newsletter Monday 12-13-99
> Posted online for subscribers at http://www.optioninvestor.com
> Also provided as a service to The Online Investor Advantage

> Published three times weekly, Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday evenings
> ************************************************************
> MARKET WRAP (view in courier font for table alignment)
> ************************************************************
> 12-13-99 High Low Volume Advance Decline
> DOW 11192.59 - 32.11 11250.39 11162.31 977,610k 1,230 1,847
> Nasdaq 3658.41 + 37.93 3668.16 3597.98 1,584,533k 2,038 2,163
> S&P-100 763.13 - 0.36 767.21 759.00 Totals 3,268 4,010
> S&P-500 1415.22 - 1.82 1421.58 1410.10 44.9% 55.1%
> $RUT 470.39 + 3.67 470.39 466.33
> $TRAN 2895.98 + 21.04 2912.53 2873.67
> VIX 23.60 + 0.71 23.85 22.16
> Put/Call Ratio .40
> *************************************************************

> The Great Humiliator strikes again!

> What is The Great Humiliator? It's a nickname for the markets
> coined by Ken Fisher, one of the longest running columnists in
> Forbes Magazine, and son of the legendary investor, Phil Fisher.
> Here it is in his own words from an issue of Forbes Magazine:

> "Well, the market's prime goal is always to embarrass as many
> people as possible. It can probably best do that now by rising
> smartly for several years, surprising and convincing everyone
> that we really are in a new era and stocks can never again fall
> big. For the Great Humiliator to fulfill its goal, it must
> simply move in ways that surprise. A 1998 bear market won't
> surprise half the forecasters. A modest rise won't surprise many
> folks either. But three more years of up market is inconceivable
> to almost everyone I hear or read. So, to me, it's most likely.
> Folks forget, and I've used this many times over the years: The
> stock market simply does not fall in the third year of a
> President's term. The third year is 1999. The fourth year of a
> President's term is almost as consistent historically. So, if,
> as I suspect, 1998 rewards, the Great Humiliator is set for a
> three-year run that will surprise everyone."

> Prescient? You bet, since he penned these words nearly two years
> ago in the January 12, 1998 issue. Even now, nobody expects this
> market to go higher. You can't open a trade publication or turn
> on airwaves without hearing someone say how "overbought" the
> "inflated" "bubble" is getting. Compared to what?

> Briefing.com notes in a recent article that stocks have already
> gone through three phases. In the first phase from 1760-1960's,
> we actually bought stock for appreciation based on increasing
> dividends. In the second phase from the 1960's to the 1990's, we
> turned to earnings growth as the key to appreciation. From 1995
> to October 1999, revenue growth was the key to picking a winner.
> Now, there appears to be a new "paradigm" (tongue and cheek, of
> course) that dictates we should buy because the price is rising!
> Dividends, earnings, and revenue have all been replaced by simply
> price. Need evidence? Briefing.com also notes, "after all, 289
> stocks have doubled in the last four weeks. Nearly half, 128 of
> them, have negative revenue growth rates! But they have rising
> stock prices." (!!!)

> Lots of investors have hit that wall of amazement too. For the
> last two months, they (us too) have been waiting for the elusive
> pullback to bring things back into kilter (relatively speaking).
> What's the reason for "waiting"? Not to hunker down and wait out
> the impending gloomy storm to come, but so we can buy into the
> rally on a dip! Therein lies the key. The waiting pre-supposes
> we all have cash to put to work; not just us, but the money
> managers and institutions as well. That is in fact the case.
> Plenty of money is still looking for a home thanks to the robust
> economy. This two-month rally is all about liquidity! As long
> as we keep seeing the "buy the dip" mentality, upward progress
> should continue in the indices, especially the tech heavy NASDAQ.

> Now don't take this the wrong way. We are not saying to mortgage
> the estate, back up the truck, and buy all you can. There will
> be corrections along the way since nothing goes up (or down) in a
> straight line. The market internals certainly tell a negative
> story. While a rising tide may float all boats, some recent
> floaters were taking on lots of water. Here's a list of today's
> big point losers. Red Hat (-26.56); Whittman Hart (on merger
> news with USWB, -24.75); VA Linux (-19.06); Andover Net (-15.50);
> Akamai (-15); Juniper (-14.38); i2 technologies (-13.69);
> Commerce One (-12.38); JDS Uniphase (-10.19); Brocade (-6.38).
> Big point gainers were led by none other than Qualcomm (+26.06)
> on a spectacular breakout with volume (5.9 mln shares) that
> finally (after three anemic weeks) exceeded the ADV (5.7 mln
> shares) and Foundry Networks (+26.25). They were closely
> followed by Broadvision (+22.63), Internet Capital Group
> (+22.50), E.piphany (+19.88), CMGI (+17.56 - earnings Wednesday),
> Inktomi (+10.50), and Sycamore Networks (+10.38). You can see,
> there's a lot of volatility in backing up the truck for high
> flyers. We must still pick our plays carefully since the rallies
> are relegated to the top tier in a few select categories, the
> categories of which are under rotation almost weekly. Based on
> the above, looks like the Linux crowd moved to Internet backbone
> issues - a fickle bunch we are.

> And so it appears that the humiliation will continue.

> So what exactly happened today? Lets start with the DJIA. Xerox
> warned investors after the close last Friday that they would miss
> $0.67 estimated earnings by 40%, citing product mix, currency
> exchange loss, Brazilian weakness, and other company specific
> items. XRX actually closed up today at $21.13 from a low on
> Friday of $19, but their problems are far from over and will
> likely continue into the next two quarters. Thankfully, the
> problems were just company specific and didn't rub off on the
> rest of the markets. Retailers though came to life on news that
> last week's sales (brick's and mortar and e-tailers) were
> substantially ahead of sales at the same time last year. You
> might have already guessed that Wal-Mart (+4.62, 67.88) and Home
> Depot (+3.75, 92.75) went on to set new all time highs today.
> The whole index didn't fare as well. The DJIA closed down 32
> points at 11,192. If it weren't for a bunch of "sell on close"
> orders hitting the floor in the last 7 minutes of trading, the
> DJIA would have closed in the "plus" column. Pharmaceuticals is
> one of the sectors losing the most ground today on fears that
> their pipelines would come up a bit empty. About those negative
> internals we spoke of earlier? Decliners outpaced advancers 3:2,
> with 472 new lows stomping on 87 new highs. 551 mln shares
> traded down, while just 389 mln traded up. Volume was a hefty
> 977 mln shares, which tells us there was still a whole lotta
> buyin' goin' on, despite the loss.

> All gloom and doom? Cheer up! Even the all encompassing Russell
> 2000 was up today (+3.67 to 470.39). That indicator represents a
> composite of 2000 stocks indicating the even some of the small-
> caps are moving. The good news is that the NASDAQ did even
> better.

> With the NASDAQ 100 undergoing revision on December 20, there
> will be some new winners added to the index, while others will
> get the boot. Wouldn't it be great to know who the additions are
> and maybe plan some plays around them? You are in luck! The
> following are the new additions: MEDI, DISH, MFNX, PMCS, ADLAC,
> to be de-listed are ANDW, ADSK, CBRL, CATP, EFII, FAST, FHCC,
> execute a trade, do your homework. They may not all go up due to
> their size or further revision to the list. In a strange twist,
> though not unexpected in a market where only price seems to
> matter, most of those to be de-listed moved up today.

> In addition to the proposed NASDAQ 100 revisions, INTC showed up
> on the radar today because Prudential downgraded the issue to an
> Accumulate from a Strong Buy and moved the price target down from
> $90 to $84. You think Intel got a major haircut on the news?
> Nope, it was up today by $1.81 and also (fortunately) didn't rub
> off on the rest of the market. In the continuing saga of "Tale
> of Two Markets", 11 issues finished up compared to 10 down. New
> highs beat new lows 301 to 143, while up volume was nearly twice
> the down volume with almost 1.6 bln shares traded.

> What happens for the rest of the week? The CPI figures will be
> released tomorrow, wherein the expectation is for a .2% rise.
> Retail sales will also be posted tomorrow. The expectation is
> for a .5% increase, and only .4% excluding autos. Perhaps the
> fear of what these numbers will contain drove some into the "sell
> on close" mode on the NYSE. We think the figures will be benign
> and a real non-event. Nonetheless, we need to pay attention to
> them for indications of the market's reaction. One hiccup could
> be the catalyst for a downdraft. Wednesday, we have the Business
> Inventories and Industrial Production figures, followed on
> Thursday by initial jobless claims. Oracle and Best Buy report
> earnings tomorrow, followed by CMGI (split candidate) on
> Wednesday. Be aware of sympathy plays in either direction. The
> big message? Based on previous valuations, the market is itching
> for a correction. However, based on current liquidity, as long
> as you choose your plays carefully, the winners should continue
> to be met with buying activity on any dips. Yes, a reversal will
> happen sometime, but we don't know when, and intend to take
> advantage of the opportunity this narrow market has given us.
> Use volume, coupled with support and resistance as your guide,
> and remember to sell too soon. (Whew! We got through this
> without saying "new record for the NASDAQ".)

> Buzz Lynn
> Research Analyst

> ***********
> ***********

> The Fabulous Fabs
> By S.P. Brown

> Focusing on core competencies and outsourcing everything else
> seems to be the rage in business management these days. More
> and more companies are taking a critical look at their business
> operations and coming to the conclusion that not everything has
> to be done in-house.

> The semiconductor sector, in particular, has embraced this
> growing trend towards outsourcing non-core activities. Some of
> the more well-known names in the semiconductor sector, names
> like PMC-Sierra (PMCS) and Rambus (RMBS), operate today under
> what is known as a "fabless business model." In other words,
> they outsource their chip fabrication operations to third party
> vendors and focus on product design and marketing instead.

> These fabless operators have garnered a lot of Wall Street
> attention this year. So much so, that many of these lean-
> running fabless semiconductor companies are trading near their
> all-time highs.

> But while many people have focused on the advantages of those
> companies that outsource their semiconductor manufacturing,
> fewer have focused on the companies that actually do the
> fabricating. After all, someone still has to put the chips
> together.

> That's quickly changing. The fabs, those companies that
> actually manufacture the chips, are emerging as a very strong
> growth industry within the semiconductor sector. The market
> leaders in this industry are Taiwan Semiconductor (TSM), United
> Microelectronics, and Chartered Semiconductor (CHRT). All are
> located in Southeast Asia, which should come as no surprise
> given the regions comparative labor-cost advantage to the rest
> of the world.

> It's easy to see why demand for the fab companies' services are
> growing strong. For a new semiconductor company, the option of
> purchasing or building a multi-billion dollar fabrication
> facility usually isn't an option at all; the cost is too
> prohibitive.

> What's more, with the growth in specialized applications on a
> chip, no single semiconductor company can provide an all-
> encompassing product line. For example, integrated circuits
> for digital handsets, the DSPs, are enormously different than
> those used in a personal computer.

> This is were the fabs step in. With their manufacturing
> expertise, these companies have emerged as a reliable and cost
> effective alternative to in-house manufacturing.

> There services are limited to the fabless companies, either.
> Motorola (MOT) announced that while they are currently
> outsourcing about 5 percent of semiconductor production, they
> expect to increase that number to 50 percent over the next few
> years. MOT has realized that their core strength is in design
> and marketing rather than manufacturing. So rather than spend
> the money required to upgrade their existing facilities, they
> would rather spend that money on research and development.

> Of course, a good thing rarely goes unnoticed for long by Wall
> Street's omniscient glare. The stocks for the two leading
> publicly-traded fabs, TSM and CHRT, have outperformed the
> broader market this year. TSM is up 230 percent year-to-date
> versus the S&P 500's relatively languid year-to-date run of 15
> percent, while CHRT, which began trading on 10/29/99, is up 60
> percent.

> With overall market growth forecasts being as bullish as they
> are - the semiconductor market is expected to grow at a 20
> percent annual clip through 2001 - companies like TSM and CHRT
> stand to benefit tremendously from the growing trend towards
> fabrication outsourcing.

> ****************
> ****************

> GE - General Electric $148.81 +1.81 (+1.81 this wk.)(+11.69)

> One of the most profitable companies in the world, General
> Electric has been able to make money in all kinds of different
> industries. The company is engaged in developing, marketing
> and manufacturing of a wide variety of products involved in
> generation, transmission, distribution and utilization of
> electricity and other goods. It produces aircraft engines,
> transportation equipment such as locomotives, appliances (both
> kitchen and laundry equipment), lighting, generators and
> turbines, nuclear reactors, medical imaging equipment, and
> plastics. GE is also a large player in the financial services
> field as well as information services. With ownership of NBC,
> General Electric is one of the largest broadcasters in the
> world. With this diversity and reach, it is no wonder
> they count their profits in the billions.

> GE is the largest capitalized stock on the U.S. exchanges.
> Because of this fact it is a very widely held stock. This fact
> is important to understanding why GE's stock might be a strong
> performer in the next couple of weeks. The biggest news item
> influencing our decision to profile GE has not been announced
> yet. The Board of Directors are meeting on December 17th. It
> is widely anticipated that GE executives will spread a little
> holiday cheer by announcing the first split of the company's
> stock over two years. GE shareholders have had an excellent
> year. A stock split would be the star on top of the Christmas
> tree. The main question that remains is whether the Board will
> decide to split 2:1 or 3:1. GE typically has announced good
> news in December. The shares of GE have done very well this
> year, trading over 50 points higher than last January's low of
> $94. Because of this we anticipate very little selling pressure
> on the stock for the rest of December. Why take a profit and
> pay tax on it in April when you can wait till next year to take
> a profit and delay paying taxes until April of 2001? Technically,
> GE had an excellent week. Since July, GE's stock has broken
> above six double tops. The stock is in a very strong up trend,
> and on Thursday it broke into new high ground again. With the
> lack of overhead resistance and possible good news coming we
> feel GE has a chance to continue rising. Support is at the
> recent breakout point of $141. A more cautious investor may
> try and wait to see if there is any market weakness next week
> and attempt to add a call position at the support point. More
> aggressive investors can buy calls on any strength.

> From the NBC news desk, well actually from many sources, GE
> announced that it had received a $1.98 billion Air Force engine
> contract on Tuesday. Also in the news, GE was named the world's
> most respected company for the second straight year in a
> worldwide survey of chief executive officers conducted for the
> Financial Times. GE Chief Executive Officer Jack Welch, who
> probably voted for himself and his company, was selected as the
> world's most respected business leader in the survey. Further
> proof that GE is perhaps the most ubiquitous company in the
> world, last week the National Christmas tree was lit up with
> 70,000 GE lights.
> BUY CALL JAN-140 GE-AH OI=5664 at $12.13 SL= 9.50
> BUY CALL JAN-145*GE-AI OI=5925 at $ 8.88 SL= 6.75
> BUY CALL JAN-150 GE-AU OI=6605 at $ 6.38 SL= 4.25

> SELL PUT DEC-140 GE-XH OI=3349 at $ 0.54 SL= 0.00
> (See risks of selling puts in play legend)

> Picked on Dec 9th at $143.56 P/E = 47
> Change since picked +5.25 52-week high=$149.25
> Analysts Ratings 9-10-1-0-0 52-week low =$ 86.19
> Last earnings 10/99 est= 0.79 actual= 0.80
> Next earnings 01-20 est= 0.92 versus= 0.80
> Average Daily Volume = 4.99 mln
> Chart = http://quote.yahoo.com/q?s=GE&d=3m

> *******************
> *******************

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> ***********
> ***********

> This newsletter is a publication dedicated to the education
> of options traders. The newsletter is an information service
> only. The information provided herein is not to be construed
> as an offer to buy or sell securities of any kind. The
> newsletter picks are not to be considered a recommendation
> of any stock or option but an information resource to aid the
> investor in making an informed decision regarding trading in
> options. It is possible at this or some subsequent date, the
> editor and staff of The Option Investor Newsletter may own,
> buy or sell securities presented. All investors should consult
> a qualified professional before trading in any security. The
> information provided has been obtained from sources deemed
> reliable but is not guaranteed as to accuracy or completeness.
> The newsletter staff makes every effort to provide timely
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My friend says we're like the dinosaurs, and here we are doing ourselves
in faster than they ever did.
-- Porno for Pyros, "Pets"