Market Preview: Earnings from Retailers TJX, Target and Gap, and Housing Market Numbers in Focus

The market went on a wild ride this week, with investors trying to navigate the crisis in Turkey combined with some conflicting economic numbers in the U.S. Productivity and retail sales were strong, but he housing market may be starting to weigh on the economy. A dearth of inventory, combined with a flight to safety in the bond market, is driving down mortgage rates. Home buyers are finding it difficult to find homes to purchase, which is starting to negatively impact businesses around the housing sector. Think home remodeling companies, real estate agents, and mortgage brokers.

As investors catch up over the weekend with what is happening in Turkey and whether Elon Musk violated securities laws via social media, analysts are preparing for earnings next week from Estee Lauder (EL), BHP Billiton (BBL), TJX Companies (TJX), Lowe’s (LOW), Target (TGT), Gap (GPS), and Foot Locker (FL). The wave of retail earnings should give some indication of how consumers are feeling about the economy, after some surprisingly low recent consumer sentiment numbers.

The economic calendar is clear on Monday, but Tuesday investors will examine the Redbook weekly retail sales numbers juxtaposed with the retail earnings coming next week. Wednesday the market will focus on new mortgage applications and existing home sales numbers to determine what impact the housing market is having on overall economic health. The housing focus will continue on Thursday when new home sales numbers are released along with the FHFA House Price Index. Last month the index was up .2 percent. Thursday also sees the release of weekly jobless claims, and kicks off the Jackson Hole Annual Economic Symposium. Friday the focus will be on durable goods orders and any news out of the Jackson Hole gathering.

When Estee Lauder releases earnings on Monday analysts are expecting a slowing of both top and bottomline growth. Oppenheimer recently put out a note explaining their long-term upbeat stance on the stock, but warned of near term headwinds. Investors will be interested in any prognostication from management for direction headed into Q3. Investors will also hear from Sasol (SSL) on Monday. The company ran into power outage issues last quarter which impacted production and earnings. The company projected the second half of the year would be much better than the first, with rising oil prices aiding the bottom line. Analysts will not want a repeat of last quarter’s excuse-filled conference call.

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A Shocking Market Crash; Here’s What to Do

If you noticed American stocks selling off last week and you’re confused as to why, it’s because of an obscure corner of financial markets that might become one of the biggest stories of 2018: the Turkish lira.

Turkey’s Money Implodes

Where a dollar would get you less than four lira at the start of the year, it now gets you more than six lira—in other words, Turkey’s currency has lost nearly half of its value in 2018 alone!

This is something some investors need to fear a lot. And today I’m going to show you how to avoid being on the losing end of this crisis (including 11 funds you need to sell or avoid now, before they get crushed).

But first, let’s dig into what exactly is happening in the eastern Mediterranean.

Turkey Right Now

These kinds of moves in emerging market currencies aren’t all that unusual, but Turkey’s a special case.

Hardly a distant frontier, the country’s location, between the Middle East and Europe, makes it a key cultural and economic bridge. And Turkey’s economy has benefited; with a $10,800 USD per capita annual income (before the currency crisis), Turkey’s citizens were more prosperous than those of Russia, Mexico or even China—and its economy had been growing at a healthy rate since 2009.

But that’s changed, for a few reasons, including that Turkey’s central bank is not as autonomous as it should be or used to be, resulting in a mismanaged economy that’s turning from weakening growth to a potential mess of hyperinflation, along with slashed purchasing power for its citizens.

At this point, analysts broadly agree that the question of “if” Turkey faces a recession or depression has become a question of “when.” And that’s not good for a lot of banks.

The European Connection

Turkey’s economy is small, so the odds of its crisis spreading to the rest of the world are low. But Turkey has received a lot of credit from yield-starved European banks—and that makes Europe’s financial sector dangerous now.

Of course, the market knew this was going to happen long ago, which is why shares of Europe’s biggest banks are in the toilet.

Europe’s Banking Sector Is in Freefall

If Europe’s banks keep falling, this could result in less credit being available for European companies, which could stunt growth. There’s also a risk of European banks facing a panic that could spread to the continent’s economy as a whole. Americans should be cautious.

Conclusion: Avoid European banks and, just to be safe, European anything.

The Tide Turns on Emerging Markets

The Turkish situation is adding to emerging markets’ woes, too, and making 2018 a huge contrast to what we saw from these countries last year.

After years of lagging, foreign stocks, bonds, currencies and funds soared in 2017. Take, for instance, the BlackRock Enhanced Global Dividend Trust (BOE), one of my favorite picks last year:

BOE Is so 2017

This fund’s net asset value (NAV) grew so much that it paid out a $1.43 special dividend at the end of 2017, bringing its annualized yield to an eye-watering 18.3% for anyone who bought at the start of the year!

But all good things must end, and BOE has struggled due to a stronger dollar in recent months. As a result, it cut its dividend in July and may have to cut its payout again.

This isn’t a problem with just BOE—all global funds, whether they focus on bonds or stocks, have fallen in 2018, and those focused on emerging markets are doing even worse.

Take, for instance, one of the best emerging-market funds, the Templeton Emerging Markets Income Fund (TEI),which has a strong record of outperformance. In the last few days, its value has plummeted:

Turkey’s Crash Sideswipes TEI

Keep in mind that Turkey is a small portion of TEI’s portfolio, but that doesn’t matter. Totally unrelated currencies, like the Mexican peso, are losing value against the dollar alongside the Turkish lira.

Lira Catches a Cold; Peso Starts to Cough

The market is turning its back on emerging markets after 2017’s blowout performance. The conclusion for investors is pretty clear.

Conclusion: Avoid emerging market debt and stocks, as well as the funds that trade them.

The 11 Foreign-Focused Funds You Need to Avoid Now

With emerging markets particularly exposed to investor panic right now, all the specialty funds in the table below (including BOE and TEI) should be avoided. And that is a shame, because some have huge yields (up to 14%) and incredibly strong long-term returns.

And that means when the market’s panic has gone too far, they’re worth picking up. But we aren’t there yet. Until we get there, these 11 funds are kryptonite for your portfolio, and you should avoid them for now:

11 Lira Victims to Dodge

Until there’s more clarity from the Turkish government, its central bank, the IMF and European banks, these funds are suddenly up for some big potential losses. Avoid them for now.

4 Cheap “Red, White and Blue” Plays for 8.0% Dividends and FAST 20% Upside

Of course, I’m not going to leave you hanging here, by telling you what to avoid without showing you what to buyinstead.

And I’m not going to give you just ONE buy, either—I’m going to give you nothing less than my 4 top CEF picks right now!

Each of these 4 terrific high-yield funds focuses on the USA and, best of all, boasts a market price that’s way below its “true” value (that would be its NAV, financial-speak for what each fund’s portfolio is worth).

The takeaway? This completely abnormal price gap points to massive 20%+ price upside in the next 12 months!

PLUS, these 4 amazing funds also pay dividends 3 or 4 TIMES higher than your typical stock—up to 8.0%!

So you’re getting paid very handsomely while you wait for these funds’ discount windows to slam shut … and slingshot us to those huge 20%+ price gains.

Here’s a quick look at each of these hidden income (and growth) buys:

  • The real estate mogul: This fund has DOUBLED the market’s return since inception—including during the financial crisis—by investing in real estate, the very thing that caused the meltdown in the first place! It pays you 7.8% in cash today, and its silly discount points to a shockingly big price rise ahead.
  • The bond play with a fat 7.2% payout: This one trades at a totally unusual 14.9% discount to NAV. And it has something I love in a CEF: management with skin in the game. The team at the top includes a Wall Street vet with $250,000 of his own cash in the fund, so you can bet he’ll be working for you.
  • The perfect buy for rising rates: This one holds floating-rate loans, whose rates adjust higher with interest rates. If you want to hedge your portfolio against the Fed’s next move (and collect 6.4% in cash while you do) this fund is for you.
  • The preferred-stock player: Preferred stocks trade around a par value, like a bond, but pay outsized dividends, fueling this fund’s amazing 6.9% payout. Better yet, preferreds have gone on sale in the last few months, driving this fund to a rare discount—and giving us our in.

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Source: Contrarian Outlook 

Big Money Is Betting On A Big Move In Financials

I always find it fascinating to see what kind of big trades are being made in the options markets.  Some of the smartest strategists in the world use options markets as their playground, so generally speaking, you can assume a lot of research went into these blockbuster type trades.

It’s also interesting to guess what the goal of a particular block trade is.  Of course, we can never know for sure.  A trade could be a hedge or a speculative bet.  It could be part of a much larger strategy with multiple pieces in different markets and asset classes.  Unless you’re talking something like a covered call (which is self-contained), we can only make an educated guess as to what a trade’s purpose is.

Nevertheless, we can often glean important information about an asset or asset class from associated options action.   For example, when you see a large straddle being purchased, it can be a useful indicator that there’s going to be an increase in volatility or movement in the underlying instrument.

A (long) straddle is an options strategy where the trader buys a call and put at the same strike in the same expiration in an underlying asset.  By purchasing both the call and put, the trader is not reliant on the asset moving just up or just down.  The straddle allows the buyer to make money in either direction, as long as it has moved far enough from the strike.

Essentially, going long a straddle is a bet on volatility.  A buyer doesn’t have to be correct about a direction, just that the stock/ETF/etc. is going to be at a different spot than it is now.  (It’s typical for straddles to be purchased at the at-the-money price.)  Professionals will often hedge their straddle when it moves using stock.  However, there’s no reason you can’t just trade the straddle and let it ride.

Just this week, an interesting straddle hit my block trade screener which I believe is worth a second look…

A well-funded trader purchased the 28 strike January 2019 straddle (28 call plus 28 put) in the Financial Sector SPDR ETF (NYSE: XLF) for $2.51 per straddle with the stock at $27.75.  XLF is the most popular ETF for trading the financial sector.  It covers banks, insurance companies, investment companies, and a few other related industries.

This particular straddle shows that the trader likely is expecting financials to be in a very different spot in the next five months.  Of course a lot can happen in 5 months, and there’s a significant election day during that period where control of Congress will be decided.

At $2.51 per straddle, this trade will break even above $30.51 or below $25.49.  At expiration, if XLF is between those prices, the trade will lose money – although max risked is just the $2.51 spent on premium.

Still, the straddle was bought 5,000 times, which costs over $1.2 million dollars.  That’s no small amount being risked.  On the other hand, the trade will generate $500,000 in profit for every dollar above or below the breakeven points.

Besides elections, there’s also plenty of economic news and data expected in the coming months.  There will also be a handful of widely followed FOMC meetings where rate increases could occur.  In other words, there are a multitude of potential catalysts for an increase in volatility in the financial sector.

If you agree that XLF could be on the move for the remainder of the year, then this isn’t a bad way to position yourself.  $2.51 for a straddle is not an unreasonable price to pay with five months of time left until expiration.   Most importantly, you don’t have to pick a direction.

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Source: Investors Alley