A Deep Post-Decline Analysis Part 3

 | Feb 25, 2013 | 11:00 AM EST  | Comments
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We've got a bunch of stocks that I would describe as "on the precipice" that could go either way. You could argue that I am being wishy-washy even labeling stocks this way, but recall that the Fed Chief does speak Tuesday and these stocks would be ripe to knock over if the testimony leaves you cold.

First up is Bank of America (BAC). The stock of BofA does not look like the regionals. It is a sink or swim moment for the bank and if Bernanke delivers I would buy some. There are a ton of retail companies that report this week, so keep in mind that the following are all at levels that could precipitate a big win or a big loss, notably Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY), which has given you several weak reports of late, Nordstroms (JWN), which, like Toll Brothers, I felt was poorly reported on as it says it will emphasize growth in Nordstrom's lower-priced outlets, which I thought just represented good business sense. Ross Stores (ROST) and Urban Outfitters (URBN) seem hanging on by a thread, yet Ross reported a pretty darned good quarter and Urban reported a stupendous one even as some analysts detected a weakness in the Anthropologie line.

Even as I mentioned the housing-related stocks as having nice charts, two stocks I am worried about, chart-wise, are Pulte (PHM) and Toll. I don't know what gets them moving again except Bernanke, who, if he says he had to keep rates low because of fears of sequester and higher gasoline, could ignite a next leg up for two very strong stocks over the last 18 months, even if they have been exceptionally weak as of the latest trading.

With the BP trial starting today you can understand how that one certainly fits on the precipice and you would need a settlement to define the upside. Devon (DVN), on the other hand, seems poised for another breakdown. I guess anything's possible with that stock, but it did have about the worst quarter of any of the major oils when it reported last week.

Be careful of the refiners. Valero's (VLO) coming close to the edge and this group has had a remarkable run, perhaps too remarkable. I find it worrisome and it is the leader of the band.

Let's put in Caterpillar (CAT) and Deere as players on the edge, two that have given weaker outlooks of late and may be hostage to China and a reduction in crop prices. Mosaic's (MOS) in the same boat and, to me, seems just too difficult to buy because the rest of the ag cohort is most definitely in the doghouse.

Which brings me to the final grouping, the Brokedown Palace stocks that don't just seem vulnerable to further downside but are in pathological downturns.

First, is the aforementioned ag cohort, with Potash (POT) and CF (CF) just looking hideous. You want a Mosaic or an Agrium (AGU) in that instance? I will take a pass. The second, very worrisome group, to say the least, is the miners. Hard to be worse than Freeport (FCX), except Barrick Gold (ABX) and Newmont (NEM). After a bottom breather, one that proved to be false, the coals are rolling over again and that chart of Peabody (BTU) is just hideous. Two tech stories are worth noting: EMC (EMC), which did not report all that great a quarter but didn't break down at that time, and Lexmark (LXK), which could be taking heat from a newly-rejuvenated HP.

Finally I am struck by how hideous some retailers are right now, starting with Coach (COH). I have to tell you that Coach is one of those stocks that seem too cheap to ignore, but I lack a catalyst to turn it around. Then there is Chico's (CHS) and Limited (LTD), two formerly strong stories that seem to be getting their butt kicked. I heard someone on CNBC last week saying this is the level to buy Limited and it has been a long-term winner, so perhaps that can reverse the torturous decline.

So, you can see that there's plenty to like after the pullback, but a host of problem stocks remain. I am, like the old days, using them as a jumping off point, but remember I can't short stocks for Action Alerts so I don't have as good a grip on the short side for the stocks that are clearly broken and seem to be headed lower.

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