Soft-Goods Sellers Have a Hard Landing

 | Oct 10, 2013 | 7:00 PM EDT  | Comments
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Stock quotes in this article:

ltd

,

gps

,

cost

,

rost

,

asna

,

ctxs

,

rt

,

tjx

L Brands (LTD) doesn't miss much. It missed today. Sent the stock down a couple of bucks. Gap Stores (GPS) had been doing well. But if you look at tonight's numbers, you are going to see a surprisingly negative report, even as the company did indicate when it reported last that traffic was week. No one knew it would be that weak, though.

Days like today are about all about the futures, not the future. Nothing keeps a stock up when its numbers aren't any good, as we saw with L Brands or with Citrix (CTXS). Or with Ruby Tuesday (RT), for that matter.

The futures tide does not lift all boats, and the big spike here makes me more nervous, not less. We borrowed a bunch of points ahead of earnings, and I think that we will have more disappointments than we have had in a long time. The comparisons are harder, the atmosphere very negative, and unless you are in oil and gas or aerospace here, I don't think you can blow the numbers away. That's fine if we hadn't just put on a couple of percent in the S&P 500, even as I know it just brought us back to where we were. It's not fine, given how much things ran and how insanely negative a government shutdown is for private businesses that will never be reimbursed.

Which is why I think the market's giving you still one more chance to reorient yourself toward international companies that can't be kept down by the U.S. -- there's a phrase you haven't thought about lately. You are getting a golden opportunity to get out of the stocks that can give you guide-downs, because they need consumer spending to be strong, and it most likely won't be.

Take Costco (COST). That plus-five number was initially viewed as disappointing. But not for long, given how poorly most are doing in the cohort, and it ran upon closer reflection from $110 to $115.

I think that Costco and perhaps Ross Stores (ROST) and TJX (TJX) and Ascena (ASNA), which I had on "Mad Money" tonight, will be fine. But anyone who does sell full-priced soft merchandise -- I still think hard goods are going well -- I think is a candidate to be sold down, maybe hard. That's what I would concentrate selling or buying puts on if we get day two of a short squeeze. It's just not worth taking the chance. 

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