Seeking Alpha

Year-To-Date And November 2019 Market Review

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Includes: AAPL, AMLP, AMZN, APC, ASHR, BA, BKR, BNO, BYND, CLB, CLF, CMCSA, CSCO, CVX, DIA, DIS, EEM, EFA, FB, FCX, FFTY, FNV, FR, FTI, FXI, GDX, GDXJ, GLD, GOLD, GOOG, GOOGL, GS, HAL, HD, HP, INTC, IPO, IWD, IWF, IWM, IWN, IWO, IYR, MCD, MMM, MSFT, MT, NBR, NEM, NOV, NUE, OIH, OXY, PEP, PG, PTEN, QQQ, RIG, SEA, SLB, SLV, SPG, SPY, STLD, TLT, UNH, USO, UTX, V, VNO, WE, X, XES, XLE, XLU, XME, XOM, XOP
by: KCI Research Ltd.
KCI Research Ltd.
Contrarian, Deep Value, long/short equity, portfolio strategy
Summary

34 different market indexes and ETFs are ranked by their year-to-date performance to show what is outperforming and what is underperforming.

Growth equities continue to dominate performance in 2019, continuing their streak of 12 years of outperformance.

The magnitude that favored trades and investments have been pursued has created a historically bifurcated market marked by both extreme overvaluation and undervaluation.

Author's Note: This is an abridged version of an article released to members of The Contrarian.

Introduction

This is an entry in a regular series that looks at monthly price action, via monthly charts, to present a longer-term perspective for a selected number of market barometers.

Right now, we are now monitoring a selected list of 34 indexes and baskets of equities on a monthly basis to try to improve our big-picture view of the market.

The story of 2019 thus far, and really the story of the past decade, has been the dominance of growth equities, which have surged higher post the 2015/2016 market correction, after a brief capital rotation in 2016 from which we benefited greatly, and which have dominated the past 12 years of price action in U.S. equity markets. It is not an exaggeration to say that the current dominant run of growth over value exceeds what we witnessed from 1990 to 2000.

Year-To-Date Customized Performance Rankings Through November Of 2019 and Monthly Returns

1. The Renaissance IPO ETF (IPO) gained 5.9% in November and is now up 35.3% year to date.

(Source: Author, StockCharts.com)

The strength of the post IPO market, which has seen some wild price action in 2019 - think of Beyond Meat (BYND), which is still up over 200% from its IPO price, after being higher by over 800% at one juncture - suggests that capital is still flowing, particularly to growth-oriented equities.

2. The Invesco QQQ ETF (QQQ) gained 4.1% in November, and QQQ is now up 33.8% YTD.

(Source: Author, StockCharts.com)

Somewhat unbelievably, Apple (AAPL), the largest market-capitalization equity in the U.S. stock market, saw its shares gain 4.1% in November, and Apple shares are up a remarkable 72.0% YTD.

The top ten holdings in QQQ and their YTD performance are listed as follows:

  1. Apple, 11.7% weighting, 72.0% YTD gain
  2. Microsoft (MSFT), 11.4% weighting, 51.2% YTD gain
  3. Amazon (AMZN), 9.1% weighting, 19.9% YTD gain
  4. Facebook (FB), 4.8% weighting, 53.8% YTD gain
  5. Alphabet Class C (GOOG) 4.6% weighting, 26.0% YTD gain
  6. Alphabet Class A (GOOGL), 4.0% weighting, 24.8% YTD gain
  7. Intel (INTC), 2.9% weighting, 26.8% YTD gain
  8. Cisco Systems (CSCO), 2.3% weighting, 7.5% YTD gain
  9. Comcast (CMCSA), 2.3% weighting, 31.6% YTD gain
  10. PepsiCo (PEP), 2.2% weighting, 25.7% YTD gain

Honestly, I had to double check that PepsiCo was the tenth-largest holding in QQQ, and yes, that is the case (no pun intended).

3. Continuing the growth theme, the iShares Russell 1000 Growth ETF (IWF) gained 4.4% in November, and IWF is up 32.1% YTD.

(Source: Author, StockCharts.com)

Looking at the chart above, IWF is not overbought on a relative strength basis, which is an interesting observation with the run that growth stocks have had this year.

4. Next on the list is the VanEck Vectors Gold Miners ETF (GDX), which declined -3.8% in November, yet is still up 28.4% YTD in 2019.

(Source: Author, StockCharts.com)

Newmont (NEM), Barrick (GOLD), which I have written about previously publicly and privately, and Franco-Nevada Corp. (FNV) are the three largest holdings of GDX, and they are higher by 14.9%, 25.1%, and 41.4%, respectively, in 2019.

5. After a brief interlude with GDX sneaking into the top performance rankings, back to the growth leaders. The Innovator IBD 50 Fund (FFTY) checks in at fifth place in our customized barometer rankings, up 6.3% in November and higher by 27.7% YTD.

(Source: Author, StockCharts.com)

Growth ETFs comprise 4 of the 5 leaders in 2019 performance in our customized performance rankings of selected market barometers.

6. Right behind FFTY is the venerable S&P 500 Index (SPY), which gained 3.6% in November and is now higher by 27.5% in 2019.

(Source: Author, StockCharts.com)

Pretty remarkable bull market run in the S&P 500 Index since March 2009.

7. After being in the top three in our customized performance rankings for most of the year, the iShares U.S. Real Estate ETF (IYR) has started to stumble a bit on a relative basis, losing -1.2% in November, bringing its YTD gain to a still robust 27.1%.

(Source: Author, StockCharts.com)

Personally, I am bearish on REITs.

Why? Well, they have had a terrific run for roughly two decades now, and they have been bolstered by seemingly ever-lower long-term interest rates.

This inebriating combination has caused REIT investors to drink the proverbial "Kool Aid", ignoring the real headwinds, including prices bid up by WeWork (WE), as the proverbial stream of cheap capital funds business models that would not otherwise exist. Ultimately, a material move higher in sovereign long term would potentially unwind a lot of the frothy price action in REITs - at least, that is my perspective.

Again, this is coming from someone who bought First Industrial Realty Trust (FR) near its lows in 2009, someone who invested in Vornado (VNO) near its lows at the same time, and someone who has studied Simon Property Group (SPG) extensively, so I am not just relying on how out of favor REITs were in the late 1990s and how in favor they are today.

8. Junior precious metals equities, as measured by the VanEck Vectors Junior Gold Miners ETF (GDXJ), fell less than their larger-cap peers in November, declining -2.7% (to GDX's -3.8% decline). However, they still trail their larger-cap peers in YTD performance, gaining 26.2% to GDX's 28.4% gain.

(Source: Author, StockCharts.com)

My comments on GDX above apply to GDXJ. The only thing I will add is that normally in a precious metals bull market, the smaller-capitalization companies lead the way, and thus far, we have not really seen that typical level of outperformance.

9. In ninth place in our customized performance rankings through month-end November 2019 is the Deutsche X-trackers Harvest CSI 300 China A-Shares ETF (ASHR), which finished down -1.2% for November, yet is still higher by 25.8% YTD.

(Source: Author, StockCharts.com)

Chinese mainland stocks are handily outperforming their Hong Kong counterparts in 2019. Depending on how the U.S. trade war with China resolves and depending on what happens in the course of the Hong Kong protests, one could make the case that the relative opportunity is in FXI right now.

10. Smaller-cap growth stocks, as measured by the iShares Russell 2000 Growth ETF (IWO), trail their larger-cap peers YTD, gaining 25.6% to IWF's 32.1% YTD gain. However, they did outperform in November, gaining 5.8% (IWF gained 4.4% in November).

(Source: Author, StockCharts.com)

Growth is performing value across the board YTD in 2019, including smaller- and larger-capitalization equities.

11. The iShares Russell 1000 Value ETF (IWD) finished higher by 3.1% in November 2019. Year to date, IWD has now gained 22.9%, which is a very healthy gain, yet it trails the iShares Russell 1000 Growth ETF by a significant margin (IWF has gained 32.1% YTD).

(Source: Author, StockCharts.com)

Growth stocks have outperformed value equities ever since 2008, inclusive of 2008, so that streak continues. Bigger picture, we are due for a growth-to-value reversion to the mean trade that is bigger than the one experienced from 2000 to 2007.

12. Interestingly, the bluest of the blue chips, represented by the Dow Jones Industrial Average ETF (DIA), is behind the total returns of QQQ (33.8%) and SPY (27.5%), posting a year-to-date gain of 22.8% after rising 4.1% in November 2019.

(Source: Author, StockCharts.com)

As one of the larger component weightings of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, Boeing (BA) shares have hurt DIA on a relative basis in 2019, though BA shares did rally 8.4% in November, increasing their YTD gain to 16.2%.

3M Company (MMM) has also been a notable drag on the DIA's YTD performance, with MMM shares down -7.9% YTD, after their 3.8% advance in November 2019.

The top ten positions in the Dow Jones Industrial Average and their year-to-date performance are listed as follows:

  1. Boeing, 8.5% weighting, 16.2% YTD gain
  2. UnitedHealth Group (UNH), 6.3% weighting, 13.8% YTD gain
  3. Apple, 6.2% weighting, 72.0% YTD gain
  4. Home Depot (HD), 5.8% weighting, 13.8% YTD gain
  5. Goldman Sachs (GS), 5.3% weighting, 35.2% YTD gain
  6. McDonald's (MCD), 4.9% weighting, 11.6% YTD gain
  7. Visa (V), 4.5% weighting, 40.8% YTD gain
  8. 3M, 4.1% weighting, -7.9% YTD loss
  9. Microsoft, 4.1% weighting, 51.2% YTD gain
  10. United Technologies (UTX), 3.6% weighting, 42.5% YTD gain

Frankly, I was surprised Walt Disney (DIS), whose shares have gained 39.1% YTD, was not a top-ten DJIA holding.

13. Smaller-capitalization stocks have lagged their larger-cap peers YTD, with the iShares Russell 2000 ETF (IWM) gaining 22.0% YTD through November 2019, trailing the performance of SPY (up 27.5% YTD).

(Source: Author, StockCharts.com)

IWM did outperform in November 2019, up 4.1%, ahead of SPY, which gained 2.6% for the month.

14. Defensive stocks have shined for much of 2019, contrary to the strong performance in the overall market that has gotten stronger as the year has gone by. Utility stocks, as measured by the Utilities Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLU), have been one of the star performers of defensive-oriented equities. However, XLU struggled in November 2019, losing -1.9%, bringing its year-to-date gains to 21.9%.

(Source: Author, StockCharts.com)

The relative struggle in November performance, when other defensive-oriented equities struggled too, brought XLU down from 4th place in these relative performance rankings at the end of September to 14th place at the end of November.

15. $WTIC crude oil prices (USO) gained 1.8% in November 2019, bringing their YTD gains to 21.5%.

(Source: Author, StockCharts.com)

The strength in crude oil prices has largely not translated to gains in energy equities, with one-off exceptions like Anadarko Petroleum (APC), which was purchased after a bidding war between Chevron (CVX) and Occidental Petroleum (OXY). More on the underperformance of energy equities later in these performance rankings.

16. Similar to their price pattern over the past decade, developed international market equities, as measured by the iShares MSCI EAFE ETF (EFA), have lagged their U.S. equity counterparts. For the month of November, EFA gained 1.1%, bringing its YTD gain to 18.5%.

(Source: Author, StockCharts.com)

There remains a lot of catch-up potential, or decline less potential (depending on your personal view of the markets), in international equities compared to their U.S. counterparts.

17. The iShares Russell 2000 Value ETF (IWN) gained 2.2% in November 2019, bringing its YTD gains to 18.0%.

(Source: Author, StockCharts.com)

Bigger picture, value continues to trail growth (12 years running inclusive of 2008), and IWN is due for a period of outperformance compared to IWO.

18. Somewhat amazingly, with the remarkable strength in U.S. equities, U.S. long-term bond prices, as measured by the iShares 20+ Year Treasury Bond ETF (TLT), are higher by 17.9% YTD in 2019, even after a minor -0.4% loss in November 2019.

(Source: Author, StockCharts.com)

A majority of investors and traders have held on to defensive, yield-oriented investments, which is articulated by the price performance of TLT, creating somewhat of a paradox, where higher-than-expected economic growth, which I believe is on the horizon, could be negative for many yield-oriented investments.

Building on this narrative, both German 10-Year Treasury Yields and U.S. 10-Year Treasury Yields have quietly put together three consecutive months of gains.

(Source: Author, StockCharts.com)

Bigger picture, I think a historic capital rotation is on the horizon, and that is why I am short TLT via long puts as a large position in my personal portfolio.

19. Gold, as measured by the SPDR Gold Trust ETF (GLD), lost -3.2% in November 2019, bringing its YTD gain to 13.7%.

(Source: Author, StockCharts.com)

Specific to GLD, the bigger picture is that the fear trade is unwinding. However, precious metals, and precious metals equities, which both soared from 2000-2011 and then have struggled, should both benefit from the "love" trade (read inflation) at some point in the future, though I think other commodity sectors will benefit to a greater degree over our relevant time frame.

20. The Baltic Dry Index, which had surged earlier in 2019, has come back down to earth, losing -19.2% in November 2019, bringing its YTD gain to a positive 13.3%.

(Source: Author, StockCharts.com)

There is an innate cyclical nature to shipping rates and shipping stocks (SEA), which can partially be seen in the chart above.

21. $BRENT crude oil prices (BNO) gained 1.5% in November 2019, bringing their YTD gain to 12.4%.

(Source: Author, StockCharts.com)

$BRENT oil price gains trail $WTIC oil price gains YTD, with $WTIC up 21.5% and $BRENT higher by 12.4%. The outperformance of $WTIC over $BRENT continued in November.

22. Emerging market equities, as measured by the iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (EEM), lost -0.1% in November 2019, bringing their YTD gains to 9.7%.

(Source: Author, StockCharts.com)

The relative and absolute performance of emerging market equities is another example of how the equity rally in 2019 has generally been led by defensive and yield-oriented investments (remember, the large-cap growth leaders are the longest-duration assets).

23. The iShares Silver Trust ETF (SLV) declined -5.9% in November 2019, bringing its YTD gain to 9.6%.

(Source: Author, StockCharts.com)

Silver has underperformed gold. When the precious metals and precious metals equity rally really gets into gear, the opposite will be the case.

24. Base material stocks, as measured by the SPDR S&P Metals and Mining ETF (XME), had a strong November, gaining 5.1% to bring YTD gains to 7.9%.

(Source: Author, StockCharts.com)

Standout performers included ArcelorMittal (MT), whose shares rose 15.5%, U.S. Steel (X), whose shares were higher by 14.4%, Steel Dynamics (STLD), whose shares gained 11.1%, Cleveland-Cliffs (CLF), whose shares gained 10.5%, and Nucor (NUE), whose shares advanced 4.7% (NUE shares are not too far away from their 2018 highs).

25. Hong Kong-based China large-cap equities, as measured by the iShares China-Large Cap ETF (FXI), lost -0.5% in November 2019, bringing their YTD gains to 5.8%.

(Source: Author, StockCharts.com)

China's official PMI has turned higher alongside the upturn in the Caixin PMI, perhaps foreshadowing an environment where global economic growth, led by emerging markets, and China specifically, exceeds expectations.

26. Large-cap energy stocks, as measured by the Energy Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLE), which is dominated by the weightings of Exxon Mobil (XOM) and Chevron, gained 1.6% in November 2019, bringing the YTD gain for XLE to 5.4%.

(Source: Author, StockCharts.com)

Chevron has outperformed Exxon in 2019, gaining 12.0% compared to XOM's 4.7% gain. Both have underperformed $WTIC and $BRENT, which are higher by 21.5% and 12.4% respectively.

27. The $CRB Index lost -0.1% in November 2019 and is higher YTD by 4.0% YTD in 2019.

(Source: Author, StockCharts.com)

Commodities have been the forgotten asset class in this more than decade-long bull market.

As a result, they trade at unbelievably cheap absolute and relative valuations.

(Source: Author, StockCharts.com)

Looking at the chart above, I cannot really believe how far it has gone or how big the relative and absolute opportunity is today.

28. As commodities have struggled since 2011, the U.S. dollar has surged higher over this time frame. This gain in the dollar has been somewhat muted in 2019, yet the U.S. Dollar Index is still higher by 2.6% YTD, after gaining 1.1% in November.

(Source: Author, StockCharts.com)

Looking at the chart above, there is a massive negative divergence in the U.S. Dollar Index, as the $USD did not make new highs when everything suggested it should, including sovereign bond yields.

29. Copper prices have gained 0.9% in November, bringing their YTD gains to 1.2% in 2019.

(Source: Author, StockCharts.com)

Freeport-McMoRan (FCX), my favorite undervalued play on copper, gained 15.9% in November, bringing its YTD gain to 12.4%.

Along with the strength in basic material stocks (see XME and steel stocks above), the price strength in copper equities suggests that the manufacturing sector is indeed poised for an upturn.

30. MLPs, as measured by the Alerian MLP ETF (AMLP), declined -6.1% in November, bringing their YTD losses to -2.4%.

(Source: Author, StockCharts.com)

Pipeline equities have struggled in 2019, caught up in the downturn in energy equities, or at least that is the common refrain. Personally, as someone with a lot of experience in this group, I think there is a bigger development, which is that the pipeline sector, which is dependent on energy volumes, is beginning to question the production growth, that has always been touted as a given.

Thus, while there is definite price damage, we really have not seen a panic yet like we saw in late 2015 and early 2016 in the MLP sector (see monthly chart above).

31. Oil service stocks, as measured by the VanEck Vectors Oil Services ETF (OIH), gained 5.0% in November 2019, bringing their YTD losses to -16.7%.

(Source: Author, StockCharts.com)

Schlumberger (SLB), the largest oil services provider, saw its shares rise 10.7% in November, Halliburton (HAL), the second-largest oil services provider, saw its shares gain 9.0% in November, and Baker Hughes (BKR), the third-largest services provider, saw its shares gain 5.6% for the month. Year to date in 2019, SLB shares are up 4.6%, HAL shares are down -19.1%, and BKR shares are higher by 7.6%.

32. Natural gas prices declined -13.4% in the month of November, bringing their YTD losses to -22.4%.

(Source: Author, StockCharts.com)

Personally, I think the opportunity in natural gas and natural gas equities is the best relative and absolute opportunity in the entire stock market right now.

Bigger picture, the holy grail of investing is finding long-term equities that you can hold, that will compound your capital over many years. Personally, I think the best natural gas equities today present a historic opportunity in this regard.

33. Smaller-capitalization energy & production companies, as measured by the SPDR S&P Oil & Gas Exploration & Production ETF (XOP), lost -3.6% in November and are now down -22.5% YTD.

(Source: Author, StockCharts.com)

Compared to their large-cap peers, which have been buoyed by passive index and ETF flows, along with the fund flows of dividend growth investors, small-cap E&P stocks have struggled mightily. However, this is where the better relative opportunity is, by far, in my opinion.

34. The last place in our customized list of relative performance belongs to the SPDR S&P Oil & Gas Equipment & Services ETF (XES), which gained 2.2% in November, yet is down -23.4% YTD in 2019.

(Source: Author, StockCharts.com)

The top-ten holdings in XES along with their YTD performance are listed as follows:

  1. National Oilwell Varco (NOV), 5.6% weighting, -11.7% YTD loss
  2. Halliburton, 5.3% weighting, -19.1% YTD loss
  3. Baker Hughes, 5.3% weighting, 7.6% YTD gain
  4. Core Laboratories (CLB), 5.3% weighting, -23.7% YTD loss
  5. Patterson-UTI Energy (PTEN), 5.1% weighting, -12.6% YTD loss
  6. Helmerich & Payne (HP), 5.1% weighting, -12.6% YTD loss
  7. Schlumberger, 4.9% weighting, 4.6% YTD gain
  8. Transocean Ltd (RIG) 4.7%, weighting, -28.3% YTD loss
  9. Nabors Industries Ltd (NBR) 4.5% weighting, 4.2% YTD gain
  10. TechnipFMC PLC (FTI), 4.3% weighting, -1.5% YTD loss

Energy service stocks, E&Ps, and basic material stocks are the three richest fishing grounds in the market right now, from my perspective, so this is where you want to spend your research budget, in terms of both time and dollars, to find undervalued equities with superior return potential.

Closing Thoughts - Remarkable Year and Bifurcation Grows

Growth investing has dominated market price action and performance in 2019, with an undertow of market participants clinging to yield-oriented and defensive investment vehicles, which have performed remarkably well given the broader price performance in the financial markets.

Will investors finally abandon their fear/safety investments and embrace economically sensitive stocks?

This is the key question, going forward, in my opinion. The answer to this question has the potential to herald a historic capital rotation, bigger than even the one we witnessed from 2000 to 2007.

Hold on to your hats and expect the unexpected, as the in-favor stocks today are trading at rare historical heights, with Procter & Gamble (PG) being a perfect example of what happens when the stock market cycle is not in sync with actual fundamental performance, while the out-of-favor equities have rarely been more loathed, or fundamentally undervalued, presenting the perfect storm of a contrarian opportunity.

In closing, investors who can embrace shunned economically sensitive assets, when almost all market participants are buying quality, and defensive assets, front-running the passive and ETF flows and preparing for a downturn is perhaps the perfect storm of a contrarian opportunity. Adding to the narrative, almost all investors outside of the hallowed dividend growth favorites have become traders, and this short attention span volatility is leading to significant opportunity.

Disclosure: I am/we are long I AM/WE ARE LONG SPECIFIC TO NAMES MENTIONED IN THIS ARTICLE CLF, GOLD, HAL, MT, OXY, SLB, STLD, AND X, AND XOM. SPECIFIC TO NAMES MENTIONED IN THIS ARTICLE, I AM SHORT PG, SPY, IN A LONG/SHORT PORTFOLIO, AND TLT VIA PUT OPTIONS. 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: Every investor's situation is different. Positions can change at any time without warning. Please do your own due diligence and consult with your financial advisor, if you have one, before making any investment decisions. The author is not acting in an investment adviser capacity. The author's opinions expressed herein address only select aspects of potential investment in securities of the companies mentioned and cannot be a substitute for comprehensive investment analysis. The author recommends that potential and existing investors conduct thorough investment research of their own, including detailed review of the companies' SEC filings. Any opinions or estimates constitute the author's best judgment as of the date of publication, and are subject to change without notice.