Black Is White, Up Is Down

 | Jan 06, 2012 | 11:22 AM EST
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It is truly a frontsie-backsie moment here in the stock market. We have the euro plummeting and we look the other direction, a car-wreck that's not producing an ounce of rubber-necking, let alone a 100 car pileup. We have a bank group with severe number cuts that doesn't collapse.

And today we have a remarkable group of companies rallying; companies that have been under attack from short-sellers for as long as we can remember and they are all rallying. First is Netflix (NFLX), which has been on a tear ever since the year began as if either the sellers have walked away or the short-sellers have decided not to press their luck just in case the streaming business has gained steam. Netflix has raised the capital it needs. Maybe the negative story isn't playing out any longer.

Then there are the for-profit schools that have been annuity shorts, meaning stocks that have gone down and down and down and have been short-selling bonanzas. Apollo (APOL), better known as owner of the University of Phoenix on line, simply didn't do as horribly as the bears thought it would. So the stock's running and taking up fellow traveler Devry (DV).

Then there's JCPenney (JCP), with its miserable same-store sales numbers yesterday, a stock that should have been down again, especially because Apple (AAPL) is rumored to be making a deal to put Apple stores in Target (TGT), not Penney. Significance? JC Penney is now being run by Ron Johnson, the architect of the incredibly successful Apple retail effort. What's happening with Penney stock? It's rallying. Smells like short covering to me.

Same with Best Buy (BBY). The company once again disappointed. But this time, unlike all of the other times, the stock's putting on, not shedding points. That's got squeeze written all over it.

Then, when you want to talk about beaten down, take a look at how Pulte's (PHM) doing. It's part of the resurgent homebuilding sector that has been taking a beating for ages. The shorts are declaring victory. They seem to be declaring victory in MetroPCS (PCS) and Frontier Communications (FTR), two road-kill names.

And finally, it's Amazon (AMZN), yes Amazon, that's ramping. This is a stock that has been a permashort ever since CEO Jeff Bezos went all spend to win, code for "lose money to take share." Maybe that phase is already done? Or maybe, just maybe, the decline from $240 to the mid $170s signals the win that the shorts wanted to badly.

All of these are mirror images of the selling we have seen in the utilities and other defensive winners from 2011. Everyone seems to want to lock in gains. The bad is trading higher, the FXE is being ignored. That's part of the odd, nutty action that defines the beginning of the year when themes change, views shift and short-sellers take profits.



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