The window closes fast. You have to move so quickly that your head spins. But if you are ready to pounce you can do it, you can land some good stocks at prices you shouldn't be able to get.
And this process plays out every day.
Let's start with the shutdown. Here's an event that used to kneecap the market as investors just simply decided that there is too much uncertainty. Will benefits be paid. Will rebate checks be late? Will the fits and starts crush the confidence of business? Doesn't a postponement to February 8 just fuel more worry?
Now, we have to understand that this is not a shutdown coupled with a debt ceiling morass, although these kind of events increase the guesswork of the economy and therefore, per se, are bad for business.
So the market opens lower today as investors digest the news and the implications.
And that was your first chance. Because as sad and as pathetic it is that the government balks at paying for the people in our armed forces-who make very little anyway, along with a host of other hurtful projections, it simply couldn't be related to the stock market. It was as if there is no cash nexus whatsoever. It simply can't be found.
I struggled to find anything that linked. Historically if we have a delay in refund checks from the IRS, definitely a possibility, it could cause weak year-over-year comparisons for companies like Dollar General (DG) , Advance Auto Parts (AAP) and Autozone (AZO) , to name a few companies that I would think would be impacted.
Let me caveat those though. I like them all. They have had nary a break in their rallies as the dollar stores have been able to beat Amazon (AMZN) at its low priced game and the auto parts enterprises are doing so well because of our harsh winter, at least, again, year over year.
In other words, if anything, the shutdown is giving you a brief chance to buy stocks of companies that could be hurt, but only in a brief way.
Next instance? Schlumberger (SLB) . You can't make up what happened here because it shows you, once again how brutally inefficient the stock market is.
Let me set the stage. The stock of Schlumberger had been on a tear, going from $67 to $78 as the price of oil climbed out of the $50s into the $60s. Now we know that the management of the biggest oil service company in the world, called the top in oil and then said last quarter that we had reached the bottom. Both precise and accurate.
Then, though the company reported its quarter and it was immediately met with selling because it wasn't the upside surprise some were looking for, although I don't know who that "some" is because Schlumberger doesn't miss and it doesn't blow out. It's got a tremendous handle on its long-term business.
The stock plummeted in thin before-market trading on that lack of a surprise and then to make matters worse, the company's CEO, the revered Paal Kibsgaard, said next quarter will be a tough one.
It got hit again by the hair-trigger fools.
Then out of seeming nowhere Kibsgaard said the second and third quarters would be very strong because the big nation state oil companies are going to have to come back, because Latin America is strong, because Russia and the Saudis are going to drill more and because the company bought a huge amount of horsepower from the beleaguered Weatherford that it needs to satisfy domestic clients.
Today Schlumberger competitor Halliburton (HAL) crushed the numbers and Schlumberger tacked on another three points.
You blinked, you missed it.
When Goldman Sachs (GS) reported last week I was astounded at how well its business has held up despite not having a huge deposit base to fall back on like its competitors and not having enough volatility to make its trading divisions earn their keep.
But talk about reinventing yourself, I saw this company literally reinvest itself in the mid 80s when municipals, which had been a monster profit generator, fell on hard times. Same with real estate. The company just put other divisions on overdrive and invented new products.
Do you think it will be any different this time? I don't think so. Yet the stock sells at just ten times earnings and is the cheapest I have ever seen it. Sure the company may not be able to buy back stock at the blistering pace it was doing because of some regulatory rules. Still, it's buyback has been so voracious that the company's retired more stock than any financial I follow.
My advice had been to wait two days as the insiders used a traditional open window to sell stock, a necessity given how much compensation is in Goldman stock, and then buy. That was the window. Boom! Now it's off to the races. I think that it's possible that Goldman Sachs could apply its amazing trading abilities to the non-dark, non-criminal side of crypto-currencies to be ready for the day when they are more mainstream. IF it happens the stock will be up 10% that day. If it doesn't? It's too cheap and too able to come up with another profit generator. Put it away.
For months I have been waiting for the e-sports Overwatch League, an Activision Blizzard (ATVI) production. There are big names owning teams. There are rabid fans. But the stock vacillated in the low $60s and shook out so many people who just said it can't be a big deal.
Now the league has begun and it is humming. It may not immediately be additive to numbers but the business is humming anyway. I can't tell you how many bulletins to club members of actionalertsplus.com we had to put out just to explain the power of this brand. But it's coming together. And it's just beginning after a long period of disbelief.
Finally not that long ago we got some gambling numbers out of Macau that didn't seem as robust as many thought they would be. Plus we had to endure endless stories about how the Peoples Republic was cracking down on ATMs at the casinos.
Even as we had done a lot of research to show that the high rolling casinos of Macau were unaffected by the slowdown, pushing the stock of Wynn Resorts (WYNN) hard after ten days of a meandering downward, investors refused to believe the facts.
Then today the company reported magnificent numbers and CEO Steve Wynn talked about how he needs more capacity for VIP gamblers, precisely the ones we said were still going to Macau. You had your chance. Wynn's stock ran up fourteen points on the obvious today, obvious to all but the people who stayed away because they didn't watch Mad Money or didn't read our recaps. I don't think it is done. The analysts will all have to raise numbers as many were surprised about the obvious, too.
Nevertheless, the window's basically closed. The stock's met the fundamentals and it has reacted accordingly.
Is it always this easy? I would contend it isn't easy at all. This is a market where you aren't getting the big buys on weakness. You are getting moments were certain stocks are weaker than they should be. That's what you have to concentrate on. You have to do the homework. You have to know that nothing's really wrong. And you have to say, "okay, take the plunge, betting it doesn't go down another five to ten percent."
Easy? How about one of the greatest high wire acts I have ever seen in the market, where the wire's thin, there is no net, and you only have a few seconds to think and walk at the same time.