On Friday's trading, the highlight was definitely on Apple Inc. (AAPL) and Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN), which both missed the earning expectations. Surprisingly, AAPL managed to hang above $600 while AMZN gained 3% at the time of writing. This leads me to wonder if there is too much optimism in the market.
For 2012, I believe the U.S. Presidential Election will be the most important event for the stock market and might be the turning point for the market. With Chairman Bernanke's QE infinity on the table, I really wish there were still something more powerful left from Fed. So far, President Obama indeed did a great job for investors by pumping up the Dow Jones Industrial Average from sub-7000 to current 13,000+ with Fed's QEs. However, ironically, the unemployment rate had changed from 7.8 since January, 2009 (President Obama took the office on January 20, 2009) to current 7.8, as of the last data provided by Bureau of Labor Statistics for September, 2012. Yes, from 7.8 to 7.8. It's a fact and one can always argue that it is back down from 10.0 since October, 2009, or one can say it's improving and worst is over. But the truth is, one has to decide for him/herself and take care of one's own wallet. For me, it appears that economy is really not going anywhere other than the increased corporate profit due to continuous cost cutting and inflated stock price due to printed money. I really do not see the fundamentals for the stock price to go up continuously at this moment.
Nonetheless, I believe there will be another last bull run before the U.S. presidential election (mainly due to investor sentiment and political reasons), which might be followed by a quick, short after-party, then we will have to face and deal seriously with the U.S. fiscal cliff, slowed economy, and unemployment.
While trying to be as optimistic as I can, I still cannot find one big reason to cheer for my 2013 investments. To stay focused, I go back to my fundamental rule for investing: cash flow. While my specialty is in options trading, I had published 3 solid cash flow companies with options strategy on Seeking Alpha in past few days. Below I will summarize these 3 stocks for investors and traders who are concerned about the uncertain economic environment but still want to generate certain cash flow. No, we do not time the market, but we prepare for it.
1) The Coca-Cola Company (KO): the world's largest non-alcoholic beverage company. Currently trading at $37.09 with 2.75% dividend and P/E of 19.36. A solid company in the consumer defensive sector and a well-known consumer brand name. "In this time of the uncertain economic environment and global economic slowdown, KO will continue to be the safe haven for its investors with its strong competitive advantage, healthy cash flow, efficient management, and optimistic international growth potential in the long-term," as quoted from my latest article on KO. In the short-term, KO is under some selling pressure and long-term investors can take this opportunity to establish long-term positions.
2) Vodafone Group PLC (VOD): the second-largest wireless company in the world with 45% stake in Verizon Wireless. Trading at $27.64 on Thursday's close with 5.37% dividend yield and P/E of 12.73. VOD is the top company in the communication services sector. "While VOD's fundamentals remain strong and its dividend is highly secured, the short-term selling pressure might be continued for a while. Technical traders might want to wait for the trend to turn bullish before setting up the long position," as quoted from my published VOD article. For long-term investors, it will be a good time to consider adding more positions when the price starts to settle.
3) Southern Company (SO): one of the most widely held stocks in the U.S. in the utilities sector. SO generates and distributes electricity to more than 4.4 million customers in the Southeast. As of Thursday's closing, SO is trading at $46.23 with 4.24% dividend and P/E of 18.61. "While we are optimistic about SO's long-term outlook with its consistent dividend, we are waiting to see if SO can hold above its 50-MV average. If SO can stabilize above 50-MV, it will be a good opportunity for investors and traders to take a look at this stock as a long-term cash flow play," as quoted from my last SO article.
From consumer defensive to the electricity sector, above are my top 3 defensive picks for 2013. More details can be read here: 1) Coca-Cola: Open Happiness Through This Options Play With 33% Profit Potential ; 2) Vodafone Group: Cash Flow Still King; and 3) Southern Company: When Options Connect With The Top Utilities Company.
Again, investors and traders are encouraged to do their own research and analyze independently. Above is just the sharing of my preparation toward the upcoming economic and political uncertainty. Things definitely won't look good when the party is over and when everyone has left.