The S&P 500 held once again at the 1350 level, and a "Rush to Risk" ended the shortened week at 1409, up more than 3% for nearly all indices and sectors. Where do we go now?
We have much to worry about. How big of an effect Hurricane Sandy will have on employment and spending statistics for the next few weeks, or even months, remains to be seen. Of course the rebuild, repair, and improvement phase will eventually lead to better numbers, but it will be hard to tell exactly what the figures over the next month mean.
Major European Union budget meetings have been reduced to "wringing of hands" over what to do with Greece, Spain, and Italy; and those gestures have been met with harsh criticism from Britain. Greece seems close to an agreement, but an even shorter haircut for current bondholders is being discussed. Spain's election ushered in a bigger majority for Catalonia secession, which could severely impact chances of a clean package for Spain. Italy continues to struggle. We think it's likely that solutions will be reached, no matter how hard to swallow.
Then we have the fiscal cliff issues. There will be a lot of argument and threats. Fed members are free to resume posturing. More than likely, concessions will be made by both sides and some issues will be kicked down the road. We can only hope that the agreements reached will be better than the current situation, and that they will satisfy the markets for the time being. The key will be whether or not we can avert a new recession and continue our slow recovery. We will not know that for months.
So caution currently defines our investment method. Retracements to 1350 in the S&P 500 should be considered buying opportunities, unless some of the aforementioned agreements are not reached or something dreadful comes along. But for now, Sandy is over, politics are on the backburner, we have a tenuous ceasefire in Gaza, and corporate America is laden with cash to spend IF the future threats dissipate enough to encourage business to resume growth.
The numbers for Black Friday, or what should probably be referred to as "Black Weekend," seem solid in the aggregate, but weak if one only focuses on Friday. Retail stocks were off today and may provide an opportunity for investors.
During this week a number of new economic numbers will be released, but they will likely be clouded by what was caused by Sandy and what wasn't. Those figures include the second estimate of third quarter GDP on Thursday and several additional measures of housing, which could be the key to resuming real growth. Consumer Confidence came in today at 73.7, beating expectations with the highest reading in four years.
In the meantime, we have included a few more attractive GARP stocks for you to consider below. All three have very attractive valuations and projected EPS growth rates. For example, KKR's five-year projected EPS growth rate of 47% can be bought for a forward P/E of 6.3.
Three Stock Ideas For This Market
This week, I used the GARP (Growth at a Reasonable Price) preset search in MyStockFinder. Here are three you may find interesting:
Questcor Pharmaceuticals (QCOR) - Heathcare
Tesoro Corporation (TSO) - Energy
Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. (KKR) - Financial
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.