The S&P 500 is up almost 4% since the end of February. Those are good numbers in anyone’s book. But some stocks in the index are absolutely scorching the market. Take a look at: Nvidia (NVDA), Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), Conagra Foods (CAG), Dentsply Sirona (XRAY), and Chipotle (CMG). NVDA is up 24% since the end of February, while Chipotle is up 17% since then, and about 123% in the last year. All the stocks have positive drivers behind them.
FINSUM: If you are momentum investor, these stocks are certainly top picks.
We wanted to write an article about a new fund we discovered in our regular course of business, but that got us excited. One of our gripes with ETFs is that there always seems to be a dearth of ways to express short-term tactical opportunities, or own a fund that does so. That is why we were excited to find a fund in New York Life’s IndexIQ ETF lineup. The fund, the IQ Merger Arbitrage ETF (MNA), seeks to gain capital appreciation by buying companies that have had public takeover announcements. The fund also includes a short on global equities as a partial hedge. Merger arbitrage is a common hedge fund strategy.
FINSUM: This is one of those area where we often wish we had exposure, but don’t have the time to actually enact a strategy, so this IndexIQ fund is very useful. The fund has a 75 basis point expense ratio.
One of the big challenges in digesting earnings is trying to parse through what are and what are not material statements made by company executives on earnings calls. Executives at publicly traded companies have become experts at deflecting tough questions and use sophisticated and evasive language to obfuscate the direction of their companies. However, American Century Investments is debuting a new piece of language processing software which can intelligently understand the commentary and identify material versus immaterial statements, or what they call “BS”. The software is highly sophisticated in spotting not just key words, but patterns and relationships between statements. It cites four areas that can help it find BS: omission, “spin”, obfuscation, and blame.
FINSUM: This seems as though it could be a useful tool, especially as it is more sophisticated than just using key words (which people can easily adapt to).
It’s that time of year. Analysts from many banks are putting out their top picks for the year. The picks we are featuring focus mostly on the large cap space. The picks come from a range of different analysts and include: Google, Amazon, American Eagle, Broadcom, Deere, McDonald’s, Microsoft, and Salesforce.
FINSUM: Deere and McDonalds are interesting for us. Deere because farm equipment demand could be quite heavily impacted by US-China trade tensions, which makes this one a risky bet. McDonalds is a stock we are bullish on because of its menu changes and modernization efforts. We think it has a lot of business it can steal back from the likes of Shake Shack and Chipotle if it continues to make its menu fresher and more healthful and its store more appealing.
As analysts and the market try to sort out how the new division in Congress will play out in markets, one beneficiary is becoming increasingly clear. Aerospace analyst Ron Epstein of Merrill Lynch had this to say the day before last week’s election, “The change to Democratic control of the House is the best scenario for defense spending. It points to upside in the defense budget. Gridlock keeps budgets intact, and defense is a bipartisan issue”. That argument is a bedrock of the new view that defense stocks are likely going to surge in the new Congressional environment. Epstein points out that aerospace companies are simultaneously seeing commercial and defense businesses growing strongly.
FINSUM: Earnings seem like they will stay in very good shape for the defense sector, and because budget changes look unlikely, the whole industry seems to be in for smooth sailing.