Getting It Completely Wrong

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Includes: ANF, CSCO, DD, DOW, EBAY, JPM
by: George Acs

Summary

Pollsters and bookies were on the wrong side of public opinion this week and markets were taken by surprise.

It's difficult to know where the confidence originated, but there will likely be considerable uncertainty in the coming week and weeks.

The fear of missing out on a market rally may have given way to simple fear, but panic never appeared, so I'm not expecting a reflex bounce higher on Monday.

A week ago, the world was getting ready for what all the polls had been predicting.

Only those willing to book bets seemed to have a different opinion.

Polls indicated that Great Britain was going to vote to leave the European Union, but those willing to put their money where their mouths were, didn't agree.

Then suddenly there was a shift, perhaps due to the tragic murder of a proponent of keeping the EU intact.

That shift was seen not only in the polls, but in markets.

Suddenly, everyone was of the belief that British voters would do the obviously right thing and vote with their economic health in mind, first and foremost.

The funny thing is that it's pretty irrational to expect rational behavior.

In a real supreme measure of confidence, just look at the 5 day performance of the S&P 500 leading up to the vote.

click to enlarge) Click to enlarge

Although, if you really want to see what confidence looks like, just look at the gap higher to open Thursday's trading, as voting had already started "across the pond."

A rational person might wonder how in the world such confidence could be inspired. Not only confidence that British citizens would vote to stay in the EU, but that the preceding day's gains were but a prelude to more gains, rather than the prelude to the "sell on the news" phenomenon.

That could all only be explained by the often irrational action provoking "fear of missing out."

Certainly, Great Britain's electorate would choose to stay in the EU for fear of missing out on all of the wonderful economic benefits ahead and investors feared missing out on the party that would ensue.

What they should have feared was the arrogance that allows you to get it all wrong.

Besides, if the bookies can get it wrong, what chance do mere mortals have?

With a 4 day advance of 2%, that left the S&P 500 up a whopping 3.4% for the year, that is, until traders realized that they all got "it" wrong.

By "it," I mean the only thing that mattered at all during 2016.

In general, the only thing that does matter is whatever occurred most recently. Nothing prior to the "Brexit" is important any longer, just as that very same vote may become an ancient and irrelevant memory in just a few days as we now start worrying about the recession that J.P. Morgan economists first put on the radar screen about a month ago.

For the bookies out there, the chance of a recession in the coming 12 months was put at about 35% at that time. I may not have learned a lesson about unwarranted confidence, but I feel pretty certain that those odds may have climbed a little in the past day or so.

Following Friday's debacle in the European Union and the fears of other member nations considering the same referendum, in addition to Scotland putting its own breakaway referendum back on the table, there may be turmoil and uncertainty for a while.

The big question is whether with stocks now sitting at the level at which they started the year, it is time to scoop up some bargains after those big one day declines?

I certainly don't have the confidence to do so.

As usual, the week's potential stock selections are classified as being in the Traditional, Double Dip Dividend, Momentum or "PEE" categories.

The one thing you may be able to say about Friday's sell off, if you absolutely have to find a positive spin, is that it wasn't really marked by panic.

Neither was there any half hearted attempt at a rally.

Those intra-day rallies often suck people in under the pretense that everything was simply an over-reaction and everything is all right now.

I'm not expecting any kind of a meaningful bounce higher as we get ready to trade the new week and am not particularly anxious to hunt for bargains.

It might have been easier to consider doing so if "Brexit" had some certainty about its short term impact, but also if there was some certainty that other member nations wouldn't be lining up to consider their own version of an EU exit.

Where I may be willing to venture is where dividends are forthcoming this week, particularly if Friday took a potentially unwarranted toll on a company's share price.

The two that come to mind very quickly are Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO) and Dow Chemical (NYSE:DOW).

Cisco may have actually received some good news late in the week as the International Trade Commission ruled that some of its patents were infringed upon by a competitor. That initial ruling actually came in February and may have already been discounted in Cisco's price, but the issuance of a "cease and desist" order to the competitor may help moving forward.

Nonetheless, after Friday's decline, Cisco shares are at about the mid-way point between its recent high and recent low and for me, that is often a good point to consider entry.

With the ex-dividend date upcoming on the first trading day of the following week, which will be a Tuesday, due to the Fourth of July holiday, I would consider the sale of extended weekly call options if purchasing shares and perhaps attempting to get 2 weeks of premium even if shares are lost to early assignment.

Dow Chemical didn't really get much in the way of good news or any bad news on Friday. it merely went along for the ride lower.

That ride lower does have several minor areas of price support beneath it and shares have traded very steadily for the past 3 months. I tend to like Dow Chemical when it is range bound.

It generally offers an attractive option premium while doing so and if also capturing the dividend, it can pay to wait.

Among the issues ahead that many have been waiting for is a decision over the proposed complex transaction with DuPont (NYSE:DD). While there isn't much too about anything getting in the way of the proposed deal, I think that Dow Chemical is not trading at a level that has any deal premium incorporated into the share price.

I believe that whatever the outcome, Dow Chemical shares are poised to go higher, so I would consider this as a longer term holding and I already do have shares that fall into the longer term category.

Just as with Dow Chemical, I wrote about eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY) last week.

There had been lots of speculation that eBay was among those stocks that had substantially more to lose than many others in the event of a vote to leave the European Union.

In this case, they got it right and shares tumbled nearly 7% on Friday, although they were down only 3% for the week.

Only 3%. That's the kind of week it was.

Now that the immediacy of the shock may have passed, this may be one position that I might have a hard time passing up.

There's no dividend to entice anyone, but it has traded very well for the past 4 months in its current range, as it now sits near the bottom of that range.

As it has historically, eBay has provided a very nice option premium, despite the fact that it tends to trade for prolonged periods in a tight range, occasionally punctuated by moves such as experienced on Friday.

Those moves help to keep those premiums healthy and attractive.

Finally, I'm not certain that Abercrombie and Fitch (NYSE:ANF) has necessarily done anything really wrong, certainly not by their historical standards of poor behavior and execution, to have warranted such a large decline in the past 2 months.

I continue to hold a single lot of much more expensive shares as shares now sit at a 2 year low.

With the ex-dividend date having been earlier this month, my inclination would be to consider a position through the sale of out of the money puts. While I might not mind taking ownership of shares at a lower price, this is definitely a position that i would prefer to rollover, if faced with assignment of shares.

I'm pretty confident of that.

Traditional Stocks: eBay

Momentum Stocks: Abercrombie and Fitch

Double-Dip Dividend: Cisco (7/5 $0.26), Dow Chemical (6/28 $0.46)

Premiums Enhanced by Earnings: none

Remember, these are just guidelines for the coming week. The above selections may become actionable - most often coupling a share purchase with call option sales or the sale of covered put contracts - in adjustment to and consideration of market movements. The overriding objective is to create a healthy income stream for the week, with reduction of trading risk.

Disclosure: I am/we are long ANF, DOW, CSCO.

I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

Additional disclosure: I may buy/add shares or sell puts in ANF, CSCO, DOW and eBay