The Daily Dose: Lessons From the Execs

 | Feb 11, 2014 | 10:30 AM EST  | Comments
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It's no-news Tuesday -- that is, until Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen says one wrong word that she'll ultimately regret for the rest of the year. In any case, given my preview of Yellen's testimony Monday, I thought now would be a good time to help you take your focus off the new Fed chief for just a few minutes.

Life Tips From Execs

I've been interviewing a number of executives of late -- folks who lead some of the most household of brands -- and from these I have gleaned a number of tips. Here are some of them.

• If you live in a state of chaos and disorganization, expect that to show up in your financial results or personal bank account. On the flip side, I have been very impressed by how organized these execs have been. They answer the phone at the precise hour I've scheduled with them, and when I ask them to send me further information, they send it promptly.

• When you discuss the company you work for, describe your team's efforts in terms of how they contribute to the whole, rather than talk negatively about any individual person or your team. I have certainly been able to spot the great team players from the mediocre ones by their rhetoric here.

• Always evolve in your use and knowledge of technology -- and that doesn't solely mean downloading zillions of free apps. A significant number of execs are heaping new technology on older employees and expecting them pick it up and drive efficiency, without offering them the proper training. Do yourself a favor: If you feel you're falling behind here, find five geeky tech bogs and read them once a week.

Stock Spotlight: Tempur Sealy

I have long been a vocal critic of the Temper Pedic/Sealy (TPX) combination. In fact, my firm, Belus Capital Advisors, slapped a Sell rating on this name last year -- and it was one of our best recommendations for most of 2013. My sixth sense is that this stock is headed for a bout of weakness following the Feb. 6 earnings report.

There are two key considerations here. First, the core Tempur business continues to be swallowed up by intense competitive heat from new market entrants. Second, the Street is too optimistic on the performance of Sealy going forward. It operates at well below total company profit margins, and it too is dealing with competitive pressures. Despite the housing recovery, bedding sales have been very disappointing, and I don't see how that will change for the better in a land of higher interest rates, which have slowed down home sales.

Two Charts to Stalk Right Now

Ideally, if iShares Dow Jones U.S. Basic Materials (IYF) and iShares MSCI Emerging Markets Index (EEM) are to once again return to the bull camp, they should recover their respective 50-day moving averages on decent volume. (IYF is in blue on the chart below, EEM is in brown, IYF's 50-day line is in lime green, the Dow industrials is in red and the S&P 500 is in dark green.)

I am also stalking FedEx (FDX) (in lime green on the chart) and UPS (UPS) (in blue), two stocks that have unperformed the broader market since the start of the correction Jan. 15. This performance somewhat confirms our need to look out for disappointing domestic macroeconomic data. The Dow is in dark green and the S&P is in brown.

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