We keep waiting for the big one. Waiting for the one that will send us down gigantically, that will silence the bull and bring on the bear. We parse every little word of every Fed official hoping for some clue that the kahuna is, at last, upon us.
But what if it already happened? What if we are already in a bear market for many, many stocks, and that the Fed tightens and there's not much more to it? What if we saw something akin to the lows last Tuesday -- I am not counting the ridiculous prints from Monday morning -- and what we ought to be thinking is, "Jeez, when will this unprecedented carnage -- in many ways worse that than of 2011 -- finally end?"
This weekend, as I perused the S&P's Daily Action Charts, I was struck by how we may be waiting for a level of destruction that has already occurred. These charts include the largest stocks in the S&P 500, plus the largest companies in the midcap index and some additional ones not yet in the index. I found myself counting how many had fallen hard this year, and next thing you know I couldn't put them all on one page or two or even three or four.
Check out these totals: 11 stocks have fallen more than 50%, 24 more than 40%, 23 more than 30%, 78 more than 20% and 104 more than 10%. That's 240 stocks that are in bear market territory or have traveled to it as of Tuesday.
The numbers understate the trashing. Many of these stocks have had incredible plummets from their 52-week highs, making these percentages seem benign. You could easily add another 100 to the down 10% if we look at Tuesday's close, and bump many more into the higher percentage brackets.
Now, it is true that there were sectors that didn't feel it as bad, and they are often talked about: some health care stocks, a small group of biotechs, a handful of retailers, and the obvious stocks like Netflix (NFLX) and Growth Seeker portfolio holding Amazon.com (AMZN) loom large. But after last week's lows, believe me, you don't find more than a couple of dozen stocks that are up more than 10%. That's stunning to me.
Plus, the stocks that are down 20% or more are true household names, companies: the big rails, the big truckers, a huge number of high quality industrials, utilities, media stocks, the works.
There are too many to list in the down 10% and 20% categories, but consider the 30% or more companies: Abercrombie (ANF), Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), Applied Materials (AMAT), Barrick Gold (ABX), Blackberry (BBRY), CenturyLink (CTL), Conoco (COP) ¿ which is held in the Dividend Stock Advisor portfolio -- Devon (DVN), Enerplus (ERF), Fuel Systems (FSYS), Genworth (GNW), Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), National OilWell (NOV), Navient (NAVI), PHH (PHH), SPX (SPW), Teradata (TDC), US Steel (X), Ultra Petroleum (UPL), United Rentals (URI), Whole Foods (WFM), WPX (WPX) and Yahoo! (YHOO).
More on this to follow.