This could prove to be one the most interesting market weeks of the year, assuming the market ever opens. Talk about uncertainty! We can add "Frankenstorm" to the litany of other uncertainties such as the election and its impact on a functional Congress, and the ongoing concerns in Europe, the Middle East, China, and Japan. As we wrote yesterday, adding to the uncertainty is this week's spate of new economic numbers to add to last week's generally positive economic reports that included much better Durable Goods Orders, as well as improved New Home Sales, Initial jobless Claims, advance Q3 GDP, and Michigan Sentiment.
Of course, last week's market was quite negative over some high-profile earnings shortfalls and several bleak forecasts. Large cap value was the worst style/cap, off 1.74%; while small cap value was a surprising best-of-the-worst at -0.64%. Maybe it was because many small caps are not impacted by a weak Europe or a slowing China. Another surprise was technology, leading the sectors at -0.25% (probably recovering from some of its huge losses from the week before). Energy took its turn being the worst at -2.1%, based on concern about global growth.
Yesterday, Personal Income was better-than-expected, and Personal Spending was even better, rising 0.8%, rather than the expected increase of 0.6%. Of course, with the market closed, no one knows how it would have reacted, although Europe fell on global concerns as well as fear of the damage toll from Frankenstorm.
Today, Case Schiller was better than expected, as the housing market continues its slow recovery. Wednesday, we get the ADP employment report and Chicago PMI. Thursday, we get Initial Jobless Claims, Construction Spending, Auto and Truck Sales. Finally, on Friday, we get the Payroll report, the monthly Unemployment Report, and Factory Orders.
So by Friday, we will know much more about the final storm damage toll, and we'll have a host of new economic reports and corporate earnings reports, which despite the unpleasant ones, still have demonstrated almost the same percentages of earnings surprises as the past few quarters, albeit against lowered earnings. The disturbing note is the continued increase in revenue misses and negative forward guidance. In our opinion, the numbers of negatives have not been as bad as expected before the quarter started.
If the majority of the large uncertainties settle on the positive side, it is likely the market will move sharply higher, probably surpassing September's high. If most settle on the negative side, expect a retest of 1375 in the S&P 500 or worse. If the uncertainty remains, we expect the market to churn along aimlessly through the year's end. If the market opens tomorrow as expected, it is likely to be quite volatile in first few hours -- it's best to be patient in your trades. The Fed has stated they will be ready to provide liquidity to the financial market as needed after trading resumes. Below are three stocks for your consideration:
Allstate Corporation (ALL) reports earnings tomorrow after the market close. It's expected to report 606% gain over last year's quarter from $0.16-$1.13. The majority of the analysts covering ALL have revised their earnings estimates upward in the last 30 days, bringing the average estimate up from $0.85 -- a 32% increase. While ALL does have significant exposure to the Eastern seaboard, it's worth considering buying it on a dip tomorrow. Frankenstorm could prove to provide a good entry point.
MetLife, Inc. (MET) also reports earnings tomorrow of $1.28, up 15% from the $1.11 reported one year ago. Again, most of the analysts covering MET have revised their earnings estimates upward in the last 30 days. As it is in the life insurance business, it won't likely see any negative reaction from the storm. And considering the strength of the financial sector, MET looks like a good investment.
United Therapeutics Corporation (UTHR) is expected to report earnings of $1.26, down -8.7% from $1.38 a year ago. UTHR took a 16% drop after the FDA rejected an oral version of its treatment for pulmonary arterial hypertension, already in use in injectable forms. We think the sell-off was overdone, and considering UTHR's excellent forward EPS growth rates (5-year of 22%) and the litany of diverse drugs it has in its pipeline, it might be a good time to pick up this high-growth drug manufacturer.