Back to School Blues for Costco, Wal-Mart
Retailers brace for fall, in both senses of the word.
Hello from New York, where, for my trading dollar, Obama's SPR speech seems more MacGuffin than genuine catalyst for a $5 drop in crude. True, a guy with a slightly better than 50/50 shot of becoming President in 6 months said that it might be a good idea to release a day's worth of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Stop me if you've heard me say this 9 or 10 thousand times before, but assets with broken uptrends find excuses to sell-off. Commodities have been getting pounded all day long. Pick a rumor or reason for the beatings, but they were happening well before Senator Obama's speech - and they continue to happen as I type.
Here's what I'm watching when I'm not yelling at my television (as opposed to later, when I will be yelling on my television):
- Raise a glass and pass the gold phone! US Steel (X) is now trading below where it closed the day before announcing record earnings and spiking 20 points.
- I initiated a small short position in Toyota Motors (TM) today after blathering about the idea for a couple of weeks - and 6 or 7 points. Suffice it to say, it wasn't the most disciplined trade in history but the more I look, the less positive I am about the prospects for Japan's finest automaker. And, no, Crude Oil finding excuses to go lower doesn't much change my outlook for Toyota or any of the other autos.
- Want me to name some names on the aforementioned commodity whacking? How about Arch Coal (ACI), or Massey (MEE)? Like US Steel, both Arch and Massey just reported earnings, spiked higher and are now lower than they were when they shared the good news.
Buy the dips (if you choose), but the charts are frightening. The companies aren't scheduled to beat estimates again for almost 3 more months. I'd find that combination "troubling" from a bullish perspective.
- Which is the cheaper pun opportunity: FreightCar America (RAIL) derailing on an earnings miss or ag stocks like Mosaic (MOS) and Agrium (AGU) getting plowed under?
- It was a trick question, Minyans. Today's cheapest pun is 3 months of gains in Potash (POT) going up in smoke as of today's losses. Potash is down a skunky 50-plus points - nearly 25% since it hit all-time highs just prior to the first day of summer.
Perhaps colleges restarting later this month will boost the stock.
- The New York Times (NYT) noticed over the weekend that the cost of shipping goods was impacting retailers and, by extension, consumers. While such an observation might seem a bit of a no-brainer, it's worth keeping in mind as we brace for retail earnings this month.
For my money, I'm long the Costco (COST) dip (the company warned this would happen, because of higher costs) and Wal-Mart's (WMT) cost-controlling bad self. That's as far as I dare go in the retail space. Back to school may help Potash (if only in a snarky way) but it'll do nothing good for retailers, even with low expectations beaten into the stocks.
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