Maybe the Fed's right to be cautious despite what we see as some very strong numbers out of housing and construction. I say that because Ford's (F) guide-down is rather dramatic, even if Mark Fields, the CEO, said he was going to revise guidance on Mad Money less than a month ago.
Yep, you had to wonder why General Motors' (GM) and Ford's stocks haven't been going anywhere and today we found out, which is that business has turned soft, at least for Ford. (Hats off to Real Money Pro's Doug Kass for his peak auto thesis.)
Now, it's a whole host of negatives that hit Ford, including the residual value of used cars. But I think the real takeaway here is that Wall Street keeps shadow-boxing with the consumer. Trying to guess where she is strong and where she is weak has become almost an impossibility. She was buying cars aggressively. Then she cooled. She was buying on Amazon (AMZN) -- we find out more tonight -- and then it looks like she went back to the mall, at least you would think so judging by the rally in the retail stocks. We thought she was spending her money at restaurants but we have heard nothing but downbeat chatter out of that group.
The only thing that's been consistent is that she loves a bargain, which is why Ross Stores (ROST) , TJX TJX, Dollar Tree (DLTR) , Dollar General (DG) and Walmart's (WMT) stocks have all been going higher. Home spending has remained strong, too, as we heard recently from Masco (MAS) (plumbing and cabinets) and Stanley Black & Decker (SWK) (tools).
It doesn't matter though. Today Ford's news is trumping everything because autos are such a big part of the economy and because "everyone" thought that with SUVs doing well because of cheap gasoline and the F series selling well because of sheer popularity that it was Ford's time. Why else offer a special dividend?
But the reality is here: sales have stalled. It doesn't fit the thesis and it is the first big disappointment of the earnings season, enough of a disappointment that it is even stinging Action Alerts PLUS holding Facebook FB as it pulls down the entire stock market.