We know two things about the highly anticipated taper. Either the market reacts positively or negatively. Instead of trying to call the Fed, I'll use the event to measure the relative strength of a few companies who I've kept an eye on lately.
In a negative reactionary environment, we could see broad selling across the market, and perhaps across global equities as a secondary effect. This could also be enhanced if the Fed announces an accelerated road map of tapering. If this type of event occurs, expect the whole market to be red. Those stocks that fight the trend may be worth a second look.
Alternatively, If Ben calls a Taper Light (less than expected), then he could be turning an onside kick into a touchdown, and we could see a rally to new highs. Any red in this type of market is likely a big warning sign about a reduction in demand for the particular equity.
The government is widely expected to reduce purchasing at an 11.8% clip from $85 billion to $75 billion. The purchases are currently split between U.S Treasuries ($45 billion), and mortgage backed securities ($40 billion). Here's what I'm watching for in a few well followed equities.
Recent disappointment from its new iPhone launch helped move Apple (AAPL) shares down from over $500 to near $450. Meanwhile, activist investor Carl Icahn continued to repeat that the company was undervalued. Stock buybacks, large cash position and multiples are some of the reasons Apple may look attractive at these levels.
In a large move either way, I will be looking to see relative strength in Apple shares, and it may be a good time to consider purchasing. Read some of the reasons why in this article, iPhone Fingerprint Reader Means Government Business, where I discuss how the trade in program may help boost new phone sales and the product mix is shifting to enterprise/government customers.
LinkedIn / Pandora
These two social media/tech darlings announced secondary offerings recently. Any accentuated weakness in markets overall could have a hefty impact on share price.
9/3/13 - LinkedIn (LNKD) - $1B in Class A Shares
9/16/13 - Pandora (P) - 14 Million Share Sale
While Pandora is a great company, it recently warned on revenue growth slowing, and shares have had a much more volatile history compared to LinkedIn. Their latest secondary and announcement may lead to serious weakness in Pandora shares given a hefty tapering.
Social media stock lovers should hold on to their seats as the Twitter (TWIT) IPO has been filed. With less than $1 billion in revenue and valued at $10 billion or higher by share-holding venture firms, lucky retail investors may get the opportunity to buy in at 10x revenue or higher.
Tesla / GM / Ford
There's no better barometer for investor bullish sentiment than a good momentum stock like Tesla (TSLA). It is highly debated and trading can be volatile. We have seen some down days and increased scrutiny on Tesla as its value nears 50% of General Motors (GM). GM and Ford (F) reported their best August in many years, and share prices have reflected the growth. Don't forget, privately held and third of the "Big 3" in Detroit, Chrysler, is preparing its IPO too.
Tesla will likely move with the market (whether up or down), and I'd expect significant relative weakness to the indices in a negative environment, or equal strength in a strong environment. If the Taper does bring markets down, I'd hope to see companies like GM and Ford hold up better compared to other equities across many sectors.
Keeping an eye on the taper is a great way to understand our economic situation in the US and abroad. For investors and traders, it signals a changing economy and an opportunity to start, sell or re-allocate positions you've been watching for awhile. Balance your scale at $10 billion in tapering, and adjust accordingly when the Fed provides direction.
Additional disclosure: I may initiate a short position in TSLA or P over the next 72 hours.