Investors should excuse money managers who think -- Friday's rebound from near-disaster notwithstanding -- that the market's short-term prospects look about as good
Ted Kaczynski's social calendar.
It's just that despite the
Dow and the
Nasdaq's bounce from triple-digit losses Friday morning after
issued a third-quarter earnings warning, there's plenty of rough row left to hoe.
There are certainly more earnings disappointments lurking in the shadows. The euro had to be propped up by the U.S., Japan, England and Canada. And oil prices were still tipping at uncomfortably high levels and Saddam Hussein was agitating Kuwait. Oh yeah, and there's mutual fund selling to lock in tax losses for the year (fund managers have until Oct. 31 to do that), U.S. presidential election uncertainty and a G-7 meeting of finance ministers and central bankers this weekend.
"All these problems are coming together at the same time," says hedge fund manager Kyle Rosen of
Rosen Capital Management
. "We have six weeks to live through" until the elections.
What's It Going to Take?
That confluence of events -- plus the neutering of the
Fed until the November elections -- is likely enough to overshadow any potential fallout from the coming week's
Instead, all eyes will be trained on earning reports and on a vigilant watch for warnings. Last week,
Morgan Stanley Dean Witter's
third-quarter results disappointed investors, rattling the markets, then Intel's warning crushed them. It won't be easily forgotten.
"If Intel's not doing well," Rosen says. "Who is doing well? The market is very fragile now to begin with. There are deeper problems, especially with the euro."
Allan Meyers, a portfolio manager at the
, says he expects more of the same kind of hand-wringing, worry-wart trading until the end of the month, at least -- especially with money managers looking for some tax relief.
"Fund managers are going to be looking for losses to take on stocks that have been beaten down," Meyers says, pointing to stocks such as
, which his fund owns.
The euro crisis, some pros believe, gives companies that preannounced disappointing earnings a scapegoat. In future quarters, however, that euro impact may be more real.
Still, both Rosen and Meyers agree on the possibility that investors will be aggressively bottom-fishing and sifting through the rubble of Friday's disaster. "Every time the market's sold off recently, it's bounced back," Rosen says. Money managers, he says, don't want to miss potential gains, so they're more willing to jump back in.
Meyers admits to jumping back in on Friday to buy Intel on its 23% drop at Friday's open. "We bought a little bit of Intel. We liked it at 60, so we have to like it at 48," he says.
Other fund managers, Meyers says, were likely doing the same, and assembling hit lists of stock they were interested in. "Everyone's looking to buy companies that have been beaten up," he says.
Tech stocks aren't likely to be getting much love in the next few weeks. As a result of April's minicrash, they likely are among the losers that have to be sold off for tax purposes.
Meyers says he likes multinationals in consumer goods areas such as
, which he says seems to have managed its way through the bulk of the euro crisis.
Rosen says drug stocks make sense, but beyond that, he's very cautious.
Caution seems to be the catchphrase now. Will the intervention to save the euro work over the long term? What tech company will warn about earnings next? Saddam vs. Kuwait? Gore vs. Bush?
Those are more questions than most investors like, and more than the market can answer without some big moves.