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Toto, I’ve a Feeling We’re Not in Kansas Anymore?

Anyone who's a student of market history knows the current landscape is unlike anything we've seen and without precedent.
David Nelson, CFA CMT is the Chief Strategist of Belpointe Asset Management. He is a frequent commentator and guest on CNBC, Fox Business, Yahoo Finance and Bloomberg where he discusses markets, economics and individual securities. David founded his own investment firm, DC Nelson Asset Management, in October 2000. Prior to this, he was a portfolio manager at Lehman Brothers’ New York City office from 1997-2000. From 1995-1997, he played an active role in management at Morgan Stanley Dean Witter’s flagship New York City office. Previously, he was a Financial Consultant for Merrill Lynch. He is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) and Chartered Market Technician (CMT), designations issued solely by the CFA Institute and CMT Association.
David Nelson, CFA CMT is the Chief Strategist of Belpointe Asset Management. He is a frequent commentator and guest on CNBC, Fox Business, Yahoo Finance and Bloomberg where he discusses markets, economics and individual securities. David founded his own investment firm, DC Nelson Asset Management, in October 2000. Prior to this, he was a portfolio manager at Lehman Brothers’ New York City office from 1997-2000. From 1995-1997, he played an active role in management at Morgan Stanley Dean Witter’s flagship New York City office. Previously, he was a Financial Consultant for Merrill Lynch. He is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) and Chartered Market Technician (CMT), designations issued solely by the CFA Institute and CMT Association.

After having a weekend to reflect on the previous two weeks’ trading, I wanted to share a few thoughts as we head into the coming week. The panic selling we’ve seen in March was met last week by equally violent panic buying. Average daily price moves for the month averaged about 5%. That doesn’t happen unless fear is off the charts and investors have lost confidence in both market structure as well as economic principals.

When bond funds like AlphaCentric Income fall as much as 40% in just a couple of weeks, the wheels are coming off the wagon.

The VIX is of course a decent gauge of fear and is now living in the 60s, well above the teens we got used to for so many years. 61 is the new 13. Anyone who’s a student of market history knows the current landscape is unlike anything we’ve seen and without precedent.

Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore

With most of America resembling a Mad Max movie it feels like we’ve crossed into the land of Oz. We’re all looking to the Wizard to point the way home, but deep down we know its going to be harder than just clicking our ruby slippers.

Last week was an important low but not necessarily THE low. There are far too many unknowns. Deleveraging has played a major role in the decline as funds eliminate margin and some leveraged ETFs restructure. Over the weekend Direxion announced it is converting 3X levered ETFs to 2X. Investors have mixed views on them, but I find them toxic. They only serve to disguise short selling or putting your account on margin. Additionally, this episode is now a credit event that has spilled over to some parts of the financial sector exposed to the energy complex through revolving loans or credit default swaps.

China goes back to work

Over the weekend officials in China say their industrial complex is back up and running. The epicenter and effectively the heart of the crisis is open for business. With COVID-19 cases crossing 724,000 worldwide and your favorite news channel virtually reporting every death in real time, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking there’s no end in sight.

There’s of course another side to this story. Ultimately, the economy repairs and investors return but the larger question remains: what will victory look like and, more importantly, what will be the cost?

I know it seems hard to believe but, in the end, stocks will follow earnings. When investors understand what companies like Apple or Disney are going to earn over the next 12 months, they’ll be able to put an appropriate multiple on them and discount future earnings and cash flow. Without that information all we have is the chaotic trading as investors price in what they believe is the worst-case scenario.

Usually, when we get to the end of the quarter, we talk about the coming conference calls trying to discern which companies will meet or beat expectations. The guidance that follows on the conference call usually determines the next day’s trading. Guidance? There won’t be any on this next round of calls. CEOs have no better idea about what sales and earnings look like for the next quarter than you do.

Next week we have the usual basket of economic data but given last week’s monster 3.3 million claims number, all eyes will be on the end of week’s employment data. Claims are expected to add another 3.5 million to the unemployment rolls with some economists expecting 20 million or more in the weeks ahead. The GDP data will be equally frightening. More important is progress in minimizing the spread of the virus and the pace of economic normalization.

*At the time of this article some funds managed by David Nelson were long AAPL

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David Nelson is Chief Strategist for Belpointe Asset Management.

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Equities Contributor: David Nelson, CFA CMT

Source: Equities News