Momentum in reverse (otherwise known as "thoughts for a volatile market")
: So much for this column's try at "going with the mo." (That was the sure sign, if I ever saw one, that this market was headed for trouble!)
On March 2, the day after my satirical "
throwing in the towel" column, I followed with another, headed, "
Going for the Mo: Where Will Investors Go Next?" I used it as an opportunity to check in with this column's most consistent hot hand, Scott Turkel of
in Connecticut, whose prior picks here (
TSI International Software
) had performed nothing short of phenomenally.
His list of faves at the time:
How've they done?
All but Informix (which is up about a point): Rotten. Centura, in fact, has been halved. So, did Turkel use the drop to buy more of
of those stocks?
Nope. Sold every single one. "The biz model here is twofold," he explained, "fundamental and technical, and the technical portion prevents me from getting emotional or falling in love or in hate with a name."
So, here's Intuit, which he owned at around 48 1/4, but won't touch here. "I love Intuit and I can't wait to buy it," he says. But his chart tells him not to, so he doesn't. Ditto for the rest of his picks, save for Sybase and Versant, which he isn't so sure he'd buy again at any price. Centura, for example, remains a favorite. He has visited the company, likes the CEO and CFO, and believes the stock trades at a "disconnect" to its fundamentals.
But like all traders, he's in the biz to make money. So, with his fund up 30% so far this year -- down from an earlier gain of 50% -- he's playing it safe and claims a "significant" portion of his portfolio (he wouldn't disclose the exact amount) is in cash, waiting for just the right opportunity to buy. "The fear factor is not so much
being there," he says, "but how much money you're willing to lose. This is the type of market where even the strong swimmers are getting sucked down the drain."
, impressed with my call on our weekend
show that the
would touch 4100 this week, wants to know when I would change my outlook. "In other words, now that both of your down targets have been hit (including the 4400 target of a few weeks ago), do you look for further weakness, or were you implying that 4100 would be the bottom?"
Matt, I don't know bottoms from tops. I know my gut, and right now, considering the number of geniuses that have been wrong, my gut is about as good an indicator as anything else out there. My gut thinks the Nasdaq will continue to see lower lows until there is a real washout. I mean, until it gaps down several hundred points for several days in a row -- enough to scare the daylights (and probably bankrupt) enough daytraders (especially those still heavily margined) to wring out the remaining excesses. Then you'll have to see the Nasdaq get boring -- so boring that the biz pubs will be running cover stories that say stuff like, "Nasdaq ... Yearning for the Good Old Days."
What nobody knows, however, is whether that "boring" period (thanks to technology) will be compressed into weeks or months rather than years. (A bear market
a day's drop of 20%.)
That said, the
Greenberg Garbage Index , which had jumped by more than 80% to its all-time high several weeks ago, is now up a mere 12%. (In theory, the higher the Garbage index goes, the greater the likelihood that a correction is imminent, because the index is filled with stocks that had no business rising in the first place.) The contra to that: The index's biggest winner is
, one of the longest-running favorites among shorts, which at 2 3/8 is up 183%. And one stock not on the list, our old nonfavorite
Lernout & Hauspie
-- one of this market's great "story" stocks -- continues to fly.
I'd say that when gravity catches up to both Lernout
CopyTele, then -- and only then -- will it be safe to go back in the water.
here yesterday on Pokemon and
4 Kids Entertainment
said that the stock had done a round trip from when it was first mentioned here -- going from around 20 to 90 to 20. Unfortunately, we didn't take into account the impact a September stock split had on the original price, so it should've been 10 to 90 to 20. Sorry.
Incidentally, prior to yesterday's item
(as in Mark, my assistant) had called 4-Kids execs to get their read on the Pokemon pontificating. The company never called back. So he called again yesterday and was told that the company had seen the item and wanted to respond and would get right back to us. It didn't.
Finally, Cisco kid:
"Just in case investors are feeling that the market has corrected itself and valuations are once again reasonable, consider the following," writes one valued source. "For half a trillion dollars, an investor could theoretically buy either 1)
or 2) the entire gas and electric utility industry in the U.S.
In the first case, the investor would be buying a company with trailing 12-month revenues of $15 billion. In the second case, he'd be getting an industry that is paying about $15 billion per year of cash dividends. Oh, and with option No. 2, he'd have about $100 billion left over to go buy something else."
Martha, can you believe it, the guy has lost his marbles ... talking gas and electric utilities!
Pass the scissors, please. (For clipping the coupons, you silly young-uns! Of course, if you don't have a clue what I'm talking about, you've probably also never seen a bear market!)
Herb Greenberg writes daily for TheStreet.com. In keeping with TSC's editorial policy, he doesn't own or short individual stocks, though he owns stock in TheStreet.com. He also doesn't invest in hedge funds or other private investment partnerships. He welcomes your feedback at
firstname.lastname@example.org. Greenberg also writes a monthly column for Fortune.
Mark Martinez assisted with the reporting of this column.