Don't you feel like the market is a rerun of
The Six Million Dollar Man
, the ABC television
series starring Lee Majors that aired in the mid-1970s? You know, the one that had the voice-over intro that went something like this:
Steve Austin. Astronaut. A man barely alive. We can rebuild him.
The premise of the show, which had a lot of success, was that an astronaut test pilot, Steve Austin, was critically injured in an airplane crash. The Office of Scientific Investigations rebuilt him with bionic legs, a bionic arm, and a bionic eye. They then sent the bionic man on missions of national importance that required his newly specialized skills and bionic strengths.
I'm guessing that perhaps at least one of the
governors is a fan of 1970s television, heard the voice-over late one night while pondering some testimony from a high-tech CEO, remembered the premise, and said, "Yeah, that's it. The stock market is like Steve Austin. It can be rebuilt. But not with a puny $6 million. We're talking big bucks, baby." And that's how the market was saved! (Just wait till this governor sees Lindsay Wagner in reruns of
The Bionic Woman
. That's when the sparks will fly.)
With bionic legs, the market jumps over any and all problems. With its bionic arm, it clubs anyone or anything standing in its way with overbought or overvalued arguments. And lastly, with its bionic eye, the market is able to see and avoid any obstacle in its path. Whadda market! Forget reruns of
The Six Million Dollar Man
because it's starting to feel
all over again.
Here's why. In one of my meetings the other day I got an earful from a client/contact who revealed that "the buy side just wants to buy stocks. Period. They're calling sell-side analysts with the following premise: How can I own this stock? Tell me why I can own it. Show me why I can buy this stock. Find a way this stock can go higher." Our client/contact then went on to say "any and all near-term info has been fully discounted and funds are working with
earnings for 2003. No one wants to hear 'Business is bad. Don't buy this stock.' "
What's curious about this "sentiment" insight is that, right here, the buy side is correct -- stocks are mostly working higher, are generally ignoring bad news, and pullbacks are light. What's also curious about sentiment is that as a potential contrary indicator it really only works well when it gets to extremes. Right here the pitch is not yet feverish enough to have a major market effect.
However, I don't think that the next corrective phase will be a market corrective phase -- i.e., a broad setback. Rather, I think that any correction will take the form of one group/one stock at a time and have a rotational aspect to it. Kind of like what occurred during the May, June, and July periods in 2001.
Here are a few stocks we're watching that I think will provide clues:
- Omnicom Group (OMC) - Get Report: OMC is up 45% since Sept. 21, has moved above its downward sloping 200-day moving average, and its 50-day moving average is now turning upward. But the stock is into big resistance (anything above $90 since December 1999 has been a sale) from late 1999 to May 2001. I still think it's going to be a good idea to reduce this stock anywhere in the $90s. The ability of OMC, which should benefit from any pickup in advertising spending, to improve will go a long way toward telling me how long any market move will last.
General Electric (GE) - Get Report: GE is up 45% since Sept. 21 but is still below its downward sloping 200-day moving average. GE's got a lot of resistance before it reaches $45 (see July 2001) so GE's ability to push onward will give some insight as to any market push higher. GE is my market bellwether and it is very (!) unlikely that risk will grow unless GE fails.
Micron Technology (MU) - Get Report:
Check out my recent column for more semi detail, but suffice it to say that when compared with its 50-day moving average since 1994, the Philadelphia Stock Exchange Semiconductor Index, or SOX, has risen only at a rate faster than current results two times. Through Nov. 13, MU had risen 89% since its intraday low of $16.39 on Sept. 26, but since then the stock is off a little. For more sentiment insight, please note that the semis are the only group (!) anyone really cares about because: (a) if the semis work, cautionary statements are superfluous and (b) if the semis don't work, well, nothing does. MU is my technology bellwether.
John Roque is the technical analyst at Arnhold & S. Bleichroeder, a New York-based investment brokerage firm specializing in Europe and the U.S., and a frequent guest on CNBC. At time of publication, Roque had no position in any of the securities mentioned in this column, although holdings can change at any time. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks. He appreciates your feedback and invites you to send it to