The market had trouble finding a direction for most of the day as news is thin and the summer is beginning so most volume is moving to the Hamptons where portfolio managers can sip on lemonade, listen to yacht rock, and denigrate the poor all while ignoring the economic data which has been so lackluster that it is in line for its own NBC prime time sitcom (tentatively titled: Just Dilute Me!). There was one bit of macro data released today which was about as encouraging as the letter "L" is to Jackie Chan on a read through script and helped send the market tumbling end of day. Purchases of existing homes fell last month and somehow analysts are surprised about that since reading comprehension is not one of their strong suits and thus they missed the part about the government tax credit running out and sales being pulled forward like Eddy Curry's pay check. Home sales dropped 2.2% from last month despite near record low mortgage rates and falling prices and are now starting to roll over and play dead like a trained circus dog or Brittany Murphy. The best part is that the National Association of Realtors is blaming part of the drop on a processing delay which is holding up 180k mortgages as apparently the red "Rejected" stamp has run out of ink. Analysts guessed sales would be up 5.5% to 6.12MM homes which was such a close guess that it only missed by a nut hair, that is if the nut hair belonged to a brontosaurus, and not any brontosaurus, but a brontosauros with elephantitis of the nuts. But hey, maybe the 180k "processing" hold up was real (though something smells fishier about it than Paris Hilton's penis flytrap after pissing out a Long John Silver's fish taco platter with extra tartar sauce because Money McBags doesn't remember hearing about any processing holdups when 7MM+ mortgages, or 25%+ more than last month, were being processed monthly in 2005, but whatever). Anyway, if we assume the hold up was real and add the 180k home sales that were delayed due to "processing" to the monthly figures, exisiting home sales would have been up .8% which is still way fucking short of the 5.5% increase analysts guessed. And making it even worse is that analysts used a lower number to build their forecasts as last month's sales were just readjusted upwards to the 579k number so analysts were actually forecasting greater than 6% growth. Money McBags hasn't seen a miss this bad since Men Who Stare at Goats (and really, that movie was so fucking awful Money McBags wanted to stare in to the fucking sun so his retinas would burn and thus he wouldn't have to watch the whole movie) or any economics paper released by Art Laffer. With the expiration of the government tax credit, the real question is if home sales are merely taking a breather after an artifically pulled forward sales surge or if the housing market is about to take another dip and send the economy back to it's bad place.
In international news, Britain released a new emergency budget which includes an additional 17B Euro of budget cuts (25B Euro in total, or about what Money McBags would pay Britain for a chance to have Lucy Pinder and Nikkala Stott star in his personal home movie "The Mystery of Bonehenge"). The cuts are aimed at stricter rules for what qualifies someone to get disability pay (simply listening to Madonna's music will no longer be considered a disability, though listening to it and liking it will remain a sign of real impairment as only the auditorily challenged can bear that shit), a freezing of welfare benefits, an increase in the value added tax from 17.5% to 20%, a new tax on banks, and the biggest revenue generator will be a fine levied on those with crooked teeth. In other international news, the yuan fell back a bit after yesterday's rise as the Chinese government is determined not to let it appreciate too quickly for fear of losing a large part of their manipulated competitive advantage. Chinese state owned banks are now buying up dollars to either prevent a rapid yuan appreciation or to have more worthless paper to burn to keep warm when fiat currencies fail and the world reinstitutes the barter system.
In stock news, Walgreens announced a crappier than expected quarter and is trading down as if it spilled 1B tons of oil in to the Gulf. The stock was down 7% after revenues rose 6% and earnings came in at ~$.53 taking out one-time charges which was $.04 below analyst estimates. Speaking of Gulf oil spills, BP was down another ~3% today because it still has not hit zero (and yes, Money McBags is going to use that same joke every day until BP is actually at zero which will be sometime between tomorrow and when investors get their heads out of their asses). And finally, AAPL is up today because in direct opposition to BP, it hasn't reached infinity yet. AAPL's price target was raised by Deutsche Bank to $375 based on their new iPhone 4 release, the continued strong sales of the iPad, and a need to publish research to get portfolio managers to trade with Deutsche Bank.
In small cap news, WGO sold off hard on no news that Money McBags could find other than perhaps people realizing that paying more than 30x for a company in a declining industry with an expensive discretionary consumer product and a fleet of cheaper alternatives, is probably not the best thing to own. Shit, Money McBags would rather own NTZ which might be the worst idea for a business right now (high end furniture in Europe), worse than even selling ice to eskimos, unfunny jokes to Jay Leno, or panties to Britney Spears. The difference between NTZ and WGO of course is that NTZ is trading like it is a stupid fucking business while WGO is trading like it is selling super powered iPhones which give off pheremones to attract Aubrey O'Day rather than $100k gas guzzling unnecessary RVs. After last Q, Money McBags hesitantly raised his WGO top end target to $9 from $7.50, so there is still plenty of room for the stock to go down. In other small cap news NTRI has continued to try to make a run. Money McBags wrote about them after thier last Q and they remain a very interesting watch list name as the company has a ton of earnings power, trades like a momentum name, and just put up a quarter of positive new customer growth which fuels their sales. It's still a bit early for this company as they keep fucking up their ad spend and their affiliate program sucked a donkey dick (which was certainly pleasurable for Eeyore, yet did nothing for investors) to the tune of a $3MM charge last Q, so management clearly needs to figure out how to better execute (perhaps they should ask the state of Utah for ideas) but it's trading inline-ish with peers, has a nice dividend, and if they can put up a good next Q should have significant upside. The only problem is Money McBags doesn't have a lot of faith that next Q will be good and he doesn't gamble (unless he is in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, his apartment, the car, etc..), so he is not going to buy. Money McBags prefers more certainty than he has for NTRI right now so while it has a number of things going right, Money McBags would still just be guessing at their next Q. One data point is good, two are better, three is a trend, and four is time to think about selling. We're at the first data point now, so do your due dilligence.