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Random Thoughts: Markets Posture Into Earnings Season


Fundamentals loom large on the horizon.


Editor's Note: Todd posts his vibes in real time each day on our Buzz & Banter.

It's been one of those days when I can't seem to catch up to myself; meetings, conference calls, contract negotiations, management decisions, board responsibilities, charity planning -- and that's just the last five minutes!

I am calling a personal time-out so I can turn my attention to the tape and share my fare for those who care.

In no particular order:
  • I'm intrigued by Michael Comeau's Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) vibe -- that Sheryl Sandberg would have highlighted mobile if mobile was moving in the right direction -- but I'm not betting against the company down here. I sold my stock at $22-half on Monday (vs. cost basis of $20) and I'm conscious that $19 is the 50% retracement of the corporate "life-cycle" price. In short, I'm a buyer on dips but I'm not sure I wanna be there for earnings.
  • On the heels of the "Romney Pop" this morning, I would offer that smaller government could -- and indeed should -- ground Helicopter Ben, whose term ends January 14 (Mitt is on record saying that he would get rid of Bernanke). In other words, be careful what you wish as it pertains to a business-friendly environment given the structural implications.
  • This environment is begging folks to overtrade, which often leads to "death by 1,000 paper cuts." Don't fall into that trap; there are 1,000,000 traders standing in a circle shooting at each other. Sometimes it's best to let the dust settle before pulling your six-shooter.
  • The technical setups recently flagged remain in flux (no signals yet) and the price action feels like posturing in front of the earnings avalanche. As I said earlier in the week, enjoy the quiet because it's not gonna last long.
  • What technical setups? Glad you asked. The first is the S&P (INDEXSP:.INX) trend channel remains in place, per the chart below.
  • Ditto the potential Head & Shoulders in the NDX (INDEXNASDAQ:NDX) which "triggers" below NDX 2770 (that would "work" 100 handles lower) and will invalidate above NDX 2830. This is the fatal flaw of technical analysis; the setup is "better" with higher prices and "worse" with lower prices.
  • The final chart is the S&P vs. the CRB (commodities). Note the correlation, as well as the recent divergence. If history is a guide, either commodities need to ketchup (higher) or the S&P will come for sale (or both).
  • The high-beta realm -- Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), LinkedIn (NYSE:LNKD) -- are holding their bid today. These fliers are usually the performance-anxiety vehicles for those chasing the year-end carrot, so keep that in the back of your mind if you're in this space.
  • I sold half my Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) on Wednesday, which leaves the remaining half with a stop below $7.65 (my entry). Stick and move, punch and duck.
  • I'm told by a high-level source that many of the trainees in analyst programs at top-tier firms are working their butts off....on building business plans that have nothing to do with finance!
  • If true, this is consistent with two articles from the MV archive: State of the Art (written in 2006 about the inevitable changes at financial service firms), and The Millennials Cometh! (shared earlier this year after the YPO Silicon Valley trip).
  • Festivus 2012 is Friday December 7. To see pictures of previous events, click here. To register for this year's soiree, click here. To inquire about having your firm sponsor the event -- you're a reflection of the company you keep as we do our part to help the kids -- please contact me directly. Every little bit helps!
  • I am heading to DC tomorrow for an IN-N-OUT YPO conference. I expect to be back by 3:00 p.m. but by the time I get to a turret, the tape will have likely closed. Just giving you the heads up as communication is the key to any successful relationship (or that's what my shrink used to tell me before I stopped talking to her).
  • Thanks a bunch, and I'll see YOU over on the Buzz! (Click here for a free two-week trial!)

Twitter: @todd_harrison

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