SAN FRANCISCO -- The
Dow Jones Industrial Average
held above 10,000
today after trading well below what is a key psychological and technical level for the index with the growing inferiority complex (to the
, of course).
After trading as low as 9942.78, the blue-chip proxy closed off 133.10 at 10,092.63.
The question, though, is whether today will prove akin to -- forgive me, military historians -- the bull market's
Dunkirk (where British troops avoided annihilation through a miraculous combination of luck and pluck) or the
Battle of the Bulge (which proved to be the German's last offensive gasp of WWII).
The Dow "is in a life or death struggle to hold above 10,000," Charles Payne, president and chief analyst at
Wall Street Strategies
wrote in an email to clients today. When the Dow held similar levels in mid-October "investors interpreted a buy signal and rallied the index higher over the next three months," he recalled. "So here we are once again at a pivotal juncture that could reverberate for months to come."
Todd Gold, technical strategist at
, said that 10,000 is "relatively significant" for the Dow and that today's comeback was (obviously) healthy. However, Friday's close is more important because if the Dow breaks 10,000 -- more specifically 9975 -- on a weekly closing basis, "I think a move to 9650 would be imminent. Beyond that, there's minor support at 9200," he said. "In order to make a real market call, I think we have to wait to see
what tomorrow holds."
(If tomorrow never comes, call
, c/o the
New York Mets.)
Beyond the Dow's internal machinations, a bigger issue is when -- if ever -- the blue-chip average's struggles impact the Nasdaq, whose megabull run shows no sign of slowing. The Comp finished up 67.19 today to 4617.52, yet another record.
Even "new era" devotees such as Robin Griffiths, chief technical analyst at
HSBC James Capel
, concede a Dow violation of 10,000 would damage investor sentiment for the (gasp!) tech stocks. (Griffiths espoused that view last
That relationship was evident today; the Comp's intraday low of 4495.20 coincided directly with the Dow's midafternoon nadir. As the Dow recovered, so too did the Nasdaq.
But Gold contends "the Comp is in great shape and should continue to work higher" almost regardless of what the Dow does. There have been some "minor negative divergences" in the give-me-tech-or-give-me-death index since 3,000, "and you see what's been going on since then," he said.
Only if the Comp broke 4000 would the technician even get a "little worried." Beyond that, he sees key support at 3750.
"The Nasdaq doesn't want to stop," he continued (sort of like the index itself). "People have come to grips that
groups like fiber optics and B2B have substantially more upside left in them. They're not worried about valuation or
do not care that this thing has gone up at the rate it has."
Bottom line? "It's tough to convince people to stay in
for two years when they can stay in
for two days and get the same return," the technician said.
In Gold, who recently replaced Peter Green -- now at
Gerard Klauer Mattison
, it seems like Gruntal's
Batman has found a Robin.
All Due Credit
I've been tardy in updating the quasi-regular
Report Card for this column's sources, and will get it "signed" by the TaskPater and delivered here soon. Meanwhile, recent events compel me to point out one student of the market who deserves extra credit.
Dec. 1, Frank Husic, managing partner of
Husic Capital Management
in San Francisco, forecast that shorting technology stocks was inadvisable.
Even firms "without dominant technology" and seemingly fading prospects such as
shouldn't be shorted because big foreign firms such as
were on the prowl for acquisitions, he said back then.
Yesterday, of course, Alcatel announced plans to acquire Newbridge Networks, whose stock rose from around 14 in early November to the mid-30s last week -- largely on anticipation of a buyout. It closed today up 4.3% to 33 3/8.
"It's another case of paying an enormous premium for a not great company," Husic said of Alcatel's $7.1 billion stock bid for Newbridge. "It's an old story.
Alcatel has got to do something to get themselves into today's world."
Cabletron Systems, meanwhile, announced on
Feb. 10 it was splitting into four independent operating companies. Today, the stock rose 20% to 43 1/2 after the company announced
Silver Lake Partners
will invest up to $200 million in Cabletron and the four spinouts. (Sounds like one of those '60s doo-wop groups.)
Silver Lake will purchase $65 million in Cabletron preferred stock, convertible into common at $40 a share. The group also acquired warrants for 250,000 shares of Cabletron common with a $45 strike price and agreed to take up to a 3% stake in each of the four operating units before their respective IPOs.
Silver Lake's principals include venture capital heavyweights
Integral Capital Partners
Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers
During a conference call today, executives from Cabletron and Silver Lake declined to give a specific timetable for when the units sidle up to the public trough.
Silver Lake principal David Roux (chairman of recent
) compared Cabletron's units to "four jetliners trying to take off from a busy airport."
Previously, Cabletron tabbed its network-management software unit,
Aprisma Management Technologies
, to be the first on the runway, with a registration filing as early as April. The other units are
, a provider of enterprise network solutions;
, which serves the infrastructure service provider markets; and
GlobalNetwork Technology Services
, a network consulting firm.
But Piyush Patel, Cabletron's chairman and CEO, said in the conference call the company is "looking at all four business to get to the sub-IPO point as fast as possible."
So maybe Husic didn't get the outcome
with Cabletron, but he's long the stock and not complaining.
But the hedge fund manager didn't follow his own advice when it came to Newbridge. He admitted being short the stock, although he claimed an accompanying long position in another telecom equipment provider (he wouldn't specify) minimized the damage.
"It's a big problem in running long and short portfolios -- it's hard to find anything to be short," he lamented. "You can't even short the crappy companies."
So the lesson from Husic's experience is: Do as I say, not as I do.
Aaron L. Task writes daily for TheStreet.com. In keeping with TSC's editorial policy, he doesn't own or short individual stocks, although he owns stock in TheStreet.com. He also doesn't invest in hedge funds or other private investment partnerships. He welcomes your feedback at