NEW YORK (
) -- Everyone knows Warren Buffett's old line about being greedy when others are fearful but pulling the trigger is a whole different matter.
, for example. After Friday's washout, the
began the day trading at a
, having pulled back roughly 10% from a near-term high of 1422 on April 2.
And that's almost exactly where it ended the day, adding a fraction of a point to close at 1278. Tobias Levkovich, chief U.S. equity strategist at Citigroup, observed Monday that equities typically don't get the benefit of the doubt when they get cheap.
"The investment community has on various occasions in the past few years seen markets on sale (in some instances, 50%-off type sales events) and yet few investors have dared step in and buy attractively valued merchandise," he wrote. "Indeed, it almost seems as if people will buymost goods and services when their prices drop but that does not happen in the case of equities with individuals generally recoiling when prices fall, waiting for some other brave soul to dip their toes in first."
The biggest fear right now is of a global economic slowdown stemming from a potential confluence of events -- the breakdown of the eurozone with Greece, Spain and Italy all suffering financial breakdowns of varying proportions, a hard landing for China, and the derailing of the U.S. economy's slow recovery by the resulting fallout. Against that backdrop, the valuation argument for buying stocks doesn't count for a whole lot and pointing second-quarter earnings seems silly.
Deutsche Bank though argued Monday that "not everything that can go wrong; will go wrong" and stuck with its year-end 2012 target of 1475 for the S&P 500, explaining that this view puts the risk of a major negative event that resets earnings expectations for corporate America at 15%.
"At under 1300, we believe the market is pricing an about even chance of that happening," the firm said. "Although the situation in Europe clearly warrants caution, in our opinion the risk of a credit crunch induced global recession is lower. Hence, we believe the 'Next 5%+' move from S&P's current price is more likely up."
In the near-term, beyond the always unpredictable headlines from Europe, the poor May jobs report has put speculation about QE3 back on the front burner, especially with
Chairman Ben Bernanke appearing before Congress this week, and Operation Twist winding down this month.
Credit Suisse went on the record on Monday as saying it expects the Fed to show its creative side later this month.
"Whatever the explanation for the job market's travails, in the eye of the market, theemployment figures clearly put the Fed back in play for a near-term easing operation, Tumultuous conditions in Europe only add to that perception," the firm said. "We would expect the Fed to ratify the market's expectations as soon as the June FOMC meeting, potentially with an innovative or surprising form of expansion or adjustment to their balance sheet. Operation
Twist in mortgages, Treasuries into mortgages, or some other innovative procedure are possibilities on the table."
UBS though questioned what kind of impact more quantitative easing could have at this point with interest rates already so low.
Although the May payroll report was much weaker than expected and followed on the heels of other disappointing payroll reports, we still do not see it as being sufficient for the Federal Reserve to move toward further easing at their June 19-20th FOMC meeting," the firm said. "Previously we had thought the Fed would attempt to keep what limited "powder" they had dry for use in an emergency. Now, after the recent sharp drop in yields, we ask a more basic question: What would be the point for the Fed to ease further?"
A cynic, of course, would say that the point of more easing is to keep the stock market afloat that much longer, buoying consumer confidence and theoretically helping the U.S. economy maintain its slow growth trajectory. Right now, the fearful still outnumber the greedy and it looks like it will take more central bank action -- both here and abroad -- to make equities look like a bargain again.
As for Tuesday's scheduled news,
Ulta Salon, Cosmetics & Fragrances
is slated to report its first-quarter results after Tuesday's closing bell. The average estimate of analysts polled by
is for earnings of 53 cents a share in the April-ended period on revenue of $473.9 million.
Ulta Salon has been one of the market's standout performers this year, rising more than 30% so far in 2012. The stock has pulled back along with the broad market though. As of Monday's close at $86.29, the shares had lost nearly 11% since hitting a 52-week high of $96.65 on April 19.
The sell side is mildly bullish ahead of this report with five of the nine analysts covering the stock at either strong buy (3) or buy (2), and the median 12-month price target sitting at $102.50, implying potential upside of 19% from current levels.
Ulta Salon's own outlook is for earnings of 46 to 48 cents a share on revenue ranging from $452 million to $460 million in the first quarter with same-store sales expected to increase 6-8%. The company is facing a high bar, given the appreciation in the stock price and the fact that it has an eight-quarter streak of beating expectations on the line with the average upside surprise coming in at 16%, so any missteps are likely to be severely punished.
Check out TheStreet's quote page for Ulta Salon for year-to-date share performance, analyst ratings, earnings estimates and much more.
The early earnings roster includes
United Natural Foods
Due after the bell are reports from
Bob Evans Farms
Christopher & Banks
Mattress Firm Holding
The economic calendar features the Institute for Supply Management's services index for May at 10 a.m. ET. The consensus estimate is for a reading of 53.1, according to
, down from 53.5 in April. A reading above 50 indicates expansion. Briefing.com's own expectation is for a reading of 52.
was weak after the bell following the coffee company's announcement of an agreement to acquire La Boulange Bakery, a private San Francisco-based bakery chain, for $100 million in cash.
Investors had bid up the stock in Monday's regular session after the company sent out a press release ahead of the close saying it planned to announce "an initiative to further strengthen Starbucks core U.S. retail business" later in the day, but the news apparently fell short of expectations. The stock was last quoted at $52.74, down 2.2%, on volume of more than 220,000, according to
Written by Michael Baron in New York.
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