Still Some Standouts

 | Oct 22, 2012 | 7:41 AM EDT
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To listen to the dialogue is to think, somehow, that the world came to an end because of earnings last week. But I think that's in large part because of the companies that caught our eyes more than the companies that actually reported.

I am not disputing some high-profile misses. Google (GOOG) had given you no sign that it was struggling with mobile and mobile advertisers. None. I repeat, none. Its acolytes, those close to the company, gave us no insight whatsoever that it was meeting with resistance and that advertisers are balking even for mobile search ads.

IBM (IBM) did deliver in the same fashion that it has delivered since $125 -- I am not kidding; go back and look -- but it gave soft linear commentary so that doomed the stock.

Chipotle (CMG) is mortal. It's been mortal. The stock price is adjusting for it.

Abbott (ABT) had a nasty miss and a new drug rejection, both unusual, although that stock has a habit of trading down after earnings. 

These are all high-profile names -- names that are at the tip of every investor's tongue.

Yet, they do not define what's been happening in October. In fact, any perusal of the charts shows many sanguine lessons, with whole groups standing out, they just happen to be very boring groups.

First, there are the insurers, and they are a marvel. Travelers (TRV) put it into focus, but we have major price premium price increases kicking in across the board. It finally might be time to really get in big for Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A/BRK.B). I wish Robert Benmosche had said nothing about the government and AIG (AIG), because that stock has been powering higher on a belief that the government wouldn't be selling any time soon because of a lockup that doesn't expire until after the election. The major property and casualty players such as Chubb (CB) are acting extraordinarily well.

Oil and gas stocks have been tearing of late. Just an amazing move. The charts for the drillers and the oils are quite firm and weren't dinged at all last week.

The banks look to be stabilizing and ready to go higher on any notice.

Retail is split, but not all bad by any means.

The miners and minerals barely went down. Stocks such as Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold (FCX), Nucor (NUE) and Southern Copper (SCCO) are doing amazingly well.

The telcos, led by Verizon (VZ), were very good, as were the utilities, some of which are making giant bases, including Exelon (EXC), and I think can rally for ages. 

Even the industrials are not uniformly bad. I am not going to take my cue from Parker-Hannifin (PH), as that compnay has missed too often. General Electric (GE) simply wasn't nearly as bad as the commentary.

Which leaves tech. This sector, which is 20% of the S&P 500, including 5% Apple (AAPL), is way too big vs. its fundamental secular decline. We are seeing a wholesale revaluation of that group lower, and that's gut-wrenching because it's just not finished.

And if Apple reports a good number and it lifts the group, that's one more chance to slam it because the zero-sum is still very much in force.

Just think of it like this: Do you care more about Chipotle than Chubb? Of course.

But should you?

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