Friday, March 12, 2010

3/12/10 Midday Report: Macro data sending more mixed signals than a drunk married co-worker at a holiday party

The market was down in the morning with conflicting economic data having been released.  Retail sales increased in February by .3% which easily beat estimates of a .2% decline (though the difference is so insignificant it could be contributed to a rounding error or some d-bag buying that one extra pair of Joes Jeans).  Excluding auto sales, retail sales were up .8% which should give investors confidence that people will still buy shit even though they can't get jobs (and snowstorms in the Northeast didn't stop people from continuing to run down their savings either).   Alternatively, making matters worse was the University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index coming in below expectations.  The index came in at 72.5 (not 72.4 or 72.6 for those of you scoring at home) and was below last month's 73.6 and expectations of 74.  Look, Money McBags continues to be befuddled by what any of those numbers mean.  How much worse is 72.5 than 74?  Really?  If the number had been up just an additional 1.5 points then the market would have been fine.  The consumer sentiment number seems more fictitious than Larry Craig's wife and more preposterous than someone with a constipation fetish (and I'm pretty sure that guy is not a mathematician even though he apparently likes to work things out with a pencil).  So retail sales were good, but consumers apparently feel bad about spending on shit they can't afford.  Welcome to America, no go buy a flat screen (that you can't afford).

In other news, apparently Janet Yellen, the current president of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco (where everyday is funday) is set to take over for Donald Kohn as Ben Bernanke's #2 in charge after a strong showing in the swim suit competition.  It was neck and neck between Yellen and Federal Reserve Bank of Boston president Eric Rosengren until Rosengren went for the hail mary by breaking out a thong and prancing down the runway to the Go-Gos "We've Got the Beat."  In the end (both literally and figuratively), the thong worked against him.  Yellen is said to be in favor of low rates, economic stimulus, and long walks on the beach.  In her free time she studies the labor markets, authors economic texts, and makes a mean peach cobbler.  She is also married to a Nobel Prize winning economist who won the award for his work on assymetric information, though he clearly understood the work better than the Nobel judges (and for you non-economics geeks out there, trust me, that was hella funny).  So welcome to the job Janet, working directly under Benny B should be quite an experience, just ask Mrs. Bernanke (Oh! drumshot please).

In stock news Schwab warned that Q1 will fall short of Q4 as trading volume in February was down 14% and the company now expects to earn around $.10 per share which is below estimates of $.15.  Most troubling is that trading volume was down despite February being the first month of lowered prices for small investors.  This either says that trading is inelastic (which it is) and thus they should raise their prices (oligarchy be damned) or they should just keep prices where they are and start a monthly contest to stimulate trading.  Money McBags would propose a contest where each time a trade is made, that person should get an entry in to an end of month drawing with the prize being a momentum day trading session with CNBC's Amanda Drury where she'll interpret your bollinger bands and show you how your wiener process can cause her some brownian motion (and yes Money McBags used that joke the other day, but it needed to be said twice).  Look Money McBags knows Schwab has to lower prices in order to be competitive with other online brokers to bring customers in, not to actually stimulate trading, but still, the whole industry needs to either just make trading free, or stop lowering prices in their poorly played game of chicken.  Online brokers are so bad at game theory they must think the Prisoner's Dilemma is whether the prisoner should pick up the soap or not once he has dropped it in the shower.  In other news, POT raised their Q1 earnings guidance from $.70-$1.00 per share to $1.30-$1.50, well ahead of analysts $.94 estimates.  The increased guidance was caused by a rebound in potash demand and higher-than-expected margins in nitrogen and phosphate, or to put it more simply, more people were buying the shit out of POT's nutrients at much higher prices.  Money McBags has owned POT for quite some time as a way to diversify his portfolio (he found that simply reading The Biography of Frederick Douglass to his portfolio was not an effect diversyfing tool, though it did increase his portfolio's empathy) so he'll take the increased guidance.

In small cap news WILC finally placed their 3MM shares to raise $20MM of cash to go with the $26MM of cash they already have while diluting shareholders by 15% (or about what the stock is down today).  The offering price was $6.05 so Money McBags is a fucking idiot for not selling yesterday when he told all of you readers he was a "Vern Troyer taint hair" away from selling.  This company is Biz-fucking-zarre.  We might as well hold on now until the phone call so Zwi can share his wisdom with us as to why a $70MM market cap company needs almost $50MM in cash and perhaps he'll also let us know why he includes discontinued operations in his quarterly earnings summaries.  Money McBags is less happy about this share offering price than when he found out that that no talent assclown Mario Lopez was boning this chick (and Money McBags would love to be saved by her bells).  IMAX is also trading down today after their big Q yesterday which may have triggered a momentary short squeeze while also likely triggering a few cases of epilepsy in those who actually sat through Avatar in 3D.

Money McBags is short on time today and will likely be short on time next week but will still try to pump out a daily market update.  Stock analysis may just be lagging.  Either way, join Money McBags on twitter and enjoy the weekend.

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