As the holiday season gets underway, investors may be looking to play the retail space as consumers start on their shopping lists. But is has the Consumer Discretionary sector already baked in those prices? We asked Toni Turner of TrendStar Trading Group for her thoughts here.
EQ: Last week, the market experienced a significant dip on Thursday after failing to break the all-time high, but seems to have regained its upward direction. Is this a good sign from a technical standpoint?
Turner: Yes, it did move higher on Friday after the big downdraft on Thursday. It held in a very narrow range on Monday, but of course, the bond market was closed. On the daily chart of the S&P 500, last Thursday was a pretty violent move down on increasing volume. I’ve seen those large bearish engulfing candles before in markets that are overstretched, such like this one is. While those big red engulfing candles may not mark the top, it usually indicates that the bears are waking up and coming out of their caves.
EQ: From a fundamental standpoint, the market still seems to be pretty optimistic for the intermediate-to-long-term outlook, but short term, we may be susceptible to a bit of a technical pullback here. Is that normal behavior for a market trading at these levels?
Turner: Yes, it is. Our market moves in cycles, and no price goes straight up forever, or straight down forever either. Sentiment reading show the ratios of bulls to bears topped at 3.5-to-1. That’s the Investors’ Intelligence poll, and typically when ratios get to that level, it has coincided with market pullbacks and corrections. Also, mutual funds are showing a stampede into equities funds and out of bond funds. So it looks like the retail traders are moving back into the market. To me, those are all signals to raise my stops on my long positions.
EQ: Is now a good time to start focusing closely on the retail sector and the ETFs in that space?
Turner: Interestingly enough, the Consumer Discretionary sector thrives during the period of Oct. 28 to April 20. So that’s winter to early spring, and peaks just before the equities markets top out in May. If we look at Consumer Staples, which is also retail, it usually does well from April 23 to Oct. 27. So it’s the opposite of Consumer Discretionary.
As well, a very typical retail sector trade would be to buy retail stocks on Labor Day and then sell them before Thanksgiving. However, if you look at the most popular retailers, their best growth quarter is the fourth quarter. So, I like to hold companies like Macy’s, Inc. (M) or Nordstrom, Inc. (JWN) up to their earnings reports that typically come out in January. While I hold up to those reports, em, I don’t always hold through them. I like to play the anticipation more than the reality.
EQ: So the best of breeds in this space have a bit more of a shelf life?
Turner: I find they do. It doesn’t mean it’s always smooth sailing by any stretch, however. Retailers can put out very surprising numbers, especially with same-store sales numbers issued monthly. And, there a re a lot of variables that affect retailers’ numbers, such as the price of gasoline and the weather. So for them, it’s not just about earnings. Still, Macy’s and Nordstrom are two retailers that I definitely enjoy playing—and I enjoy shopping there too!
EQ: What are some other sectors or industry groups that look interesting to you?
Turner: Right now, I’m watching the regional banks and the SPDR S&P Regional Banking ETF ($KRE). It popped up higher on Monday, and does that many times when interest rates rise because that gives regionals banks a bit of a boost. It popped up Friday, and pulled back a bit on Monday. I also be interested in looking at the SPDR S&P Insurance ETF ($KIE). Although it’s made great gains recently, many times insurance companies stand to profit interest rates go higher.