It was a relatively quiet day in the market today which is more of a rarity than a downward sloping supply curve, a funny Adam Sandler movie, or a bad picture of Olivia Munn. The market was up though as pending home sales shot through the roof, of course now someone will have to go back and fix the fucking roof so the buyers won't back out, but those are just details. Home sales rocketed up 6% but the government first time home buyers tax credit ended in April so sales were likely more pulled forward than a lottery winner's payout or the keg tap at David Hasselhoff's house at breakfast. So while it is exciting that pending home sales went up, it's way too early to suck each other's dicks about it (though if you're Alice Eve and it's Money McBags dick, then it is never too early, or too often) as next month's sales should be down appreciably, like Steven Rattner's reputation or the mood at a suicide prevention hotline going away party. In other real estate news, mortgage applications fell for the 4th consecutive week and if you read the fucking analysis in the sentence directly before this, you will know why. And in the latest job report by some outplacement firm called Challenger, job cuts were just as bad as last month though 65% better than last year, so welcome to your new normal.
Also, Mr. Buffett went to Washington to meet with all of his GS cronies, I mean the federal government. Money McBags needs to stop getting those two confused. Buffett spoke to the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, or as it's more commonly known as "Huh?" after being subpoenaed to testify about the ratings agencies and their utter failure to do anythng but suck at their jobs like a one legged long jumper. While Buffett has been selling his shares of MCO, he is still their largest shareholder so his testimony was about as unbiased as Joe Francis testifying about age of consent laws. Honestly, Money McBags finds it strange that the FCIC would give a shit what Buffett has to say about the ratings agencies since he's not going to talk down his own book. It makes less sense than the Laffer Curve or Jennifer Connelly's acting career. And guess what? Buffett defended these assclowns who failed miserably at their jobs and served as bottom bitches for investment banks to manipulate the markets. To quote a CNBC article, Buffett said ratings agencies ""were wrong like everyone else" due to a widespread "bubble mentality" that believed housing prices couldn't crash". Wow. So let me get this straight, the ratings agencies who are paid NOT TO BE WRONG like everyone else because they are the SUPPOSED EXPERTS, fucked up just like everyone else. So riddle me this Mr. Oracle of Omaha, why the fuck would anyone pay these "experts" if they are providing the same information or reaching the same conclusions as everyone fucking else? WHAT THE FUCK ARE THEY EXPERTS IN? This is more perplexing than the fact that neither of the participants of Stocking-Huang wedding was stocking a "huang." Money McBags knows Buffett needs to keep MCO stock propped up so he can sell it, but there is absolutely zero reason for these ratings agencies to exist, at least under the current incentive system which is more screwed up than Tiger Woods' kids are going to be.
In international news, Japan's Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama resigned to spend more time cultivating his Pokemon collection. His term was the shortest by a Japanese Prime Minister since1994 when Mothra swooped down and carried then Prime Minister Tsutomu Hata back to Infant Island. With asian markets already more jittery than a nanny at Roman Polanski's house, a change in Japanese leadership brings more uncertainty than Jamie Lee Curtis' true gender. Japan has been mired in a decades long economic crisis stemming from a real estate bubble, low rates, and sites like the NSFW spankwire.com distributing their main export of bukakke films for free. Investors now must worry about how the new regime will handle the world’s largest public debt while securing investor confidence in Japanese issued bonds. Finally, european banks are moving money overnight to Europe's Central Bank at a record pace as they grow more fearful of write-downs and bad loans. Euro-zone banks are doing this as they apparently view counter party risk to be more dangerous than political support from John Edwards. Now look, Money McBags is no genius (though he is likely whatever is just one notch below genius), but if banks would rather earn fewer bps on overnight funds because they are worried about lending to other banks who may have lending problems, what does that say about their own fucking balance sheets? When Money McBags sees a CEO selling company stock, he stays away from that company and when he sees banks scared shitless of lending to other banks, he stays the fuck away from that financial system. It's like a canary in a coal mine or a turd in a punchbowl of turds.
In stock news, energy companies are rallying after being down 18% due to the Gulf oil spill and due to people realizing that their cars don't run on wind, the sun, or Heidi Montag's implants. Ford is moving up as well, as both GM and Ford reported stronger sales than analysts guessed. Ford's sales rose 22%, besting analyst guesses of 16% and GM sales rose 17%, besting analyst guesses of 6%. Driving the sales increases was the fact that people no longer care about driving shitty cars. With gas prices having hovered around $3 for a year and a half, SUVs are once again becoming popular buys with sales of Chevy's Equinox tripling and GM's Edge moving up 43%. This just proves that people are shorter sighted than Mr. Magoo without his glasses and are only setting themselves up for more pain when the gas market is remanipulated upwards. Finally, a UBS analyst who had a neutral on JPM for 5 years finally upgraded them to a buy. Money McBags would like to applaud this analyst who stuck to his guns despite JPM being the best run large cap consumer bank in the industry. For his next trick, the UBS analyst is going to pick up technology companies and slap a hold on AAPL until they can finally show the Street that the iPod is more than a trend.
In small cap news, CTGX is flying today despite no news and average volume. Money McBags has talked about CTGX many times on When Genius Prevailed and still believes they can earn ~$.75 in 2011 when electronic medical records take off. That would be 50% growth and the company is now trading at 11x that so it is still very cheap if you don't mind owning an illiquid company that is short term highly levered to IBM. Meanwhile, crappy casino operator ISLE announced earnings today and beat analyst guesses despite profit falling to $.15 per share from $.45 per share in last years' fiscal quarter as Red came up on the roulette wheel more times than they expected. Revenue was down 6% to $287MM but still beat analyst guesses of $260MM and those same analysts expected a $.08 loss per share for the simple reason that ISLE's casino's are more run down than Madonna's vagina and also smell a heck of a lot worse. The company managed to trim out $12MM of operating expenses for fiscal 2010 and for the fiscal year, they earned $175MM of EBITDA but they have only $90MM of cash and $1,200MM of debt which means they are trading at ~9x EV/EBITDA which is not that cheap for a debt ridden company relying on consumer spend (though to be fair, gambling consumer spend is inelastic to some degree, like Joan River's nose). The company isn't currently burning through cash and has a $300MM line, but they have casinos in every city to which you would never want to travel (Biloxi, Davenport, Natchez, etc.) and their properties tend to be the most run down casinos in those run down towns. Today is basically a classic short squeeze and Money McBags would avoid this stock like he avoids hitting on 16 when the dealer is showing a 4 and avoids betting on "don't come" in a craps game or a movie involving Hannah Hilton's face.