NEW YORK (Real Money) -- Nobody likes spoilsports, least of all me. Yet that's exactly what we are getting after months and months of tranquility, and it is beginning to worry me.
In the span of the last few weeks, I have received a number of calls and way too many tweets from people who are complaining about small moves in stocks. One caller's very worried about the sudden 2-point swoon in Gilead (GILD). Another's upset about a buck-and-a-half decline in Celgene (CELG). Two Twitter followers feel scalded by a set of 20-cent and 30-cent declines in the stock of Rite Aid (RAD).
But yesterday took the cake when a 9-cent selloff in Globalstar (GSAT) caused a caller to be both apoplectic and scared.
OK, put aside the knowledge that Gilead and Celgene are up from $65 to $87 and $68 to $86, respectively, in a little more than three months. Overlook that Rite Aid is up 40% and Globalstar is up 132% this year!
Let's just deal with what kinds of stocks we are describing.
Much has been made, including by me, about Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen's recent foray into the stock market, the one in which the Fed, in a statement, talked about stretched valuations of small-cap biotech and social media stocks. Five months ago there were some ridiculous IPOs that came at too high prices -- nothing new there. It's been known to happen. Twitter (TWTR) went sky-high after the offering, not because of earnings, but because of enthusiasm.
But I think it is reasonable for people, including Yellen, to accept that there are stocks that are riskier than others. Unless the whole market turns risky, as it did in 1987 and 2000 when valuations for all the market and all of tech became absurd, you just have to accept that some people in certain stocks are going to get hurt.
In 1987, at the height of absurdity, largely influenced by aggressive overnight buying from Japanese investors who were gripped by a worldwide stock mania, the entire market traded at about 27 times earnings. We are now at 17 times earnings and 16 times next year's earnings. You can accept the risk at those levels, but you have to recognize that if there is ever a time for the Fed to use its margin rules to try to tame stock-wide speculation it was that one.
Same again in 2000, where there were many worthless IPOs trading in the tens of billions of dollars and a huge number of techs being valued north of $100 billion, many of them good companies that simply could not withstand price-to-earnings ratios of 40, 50, 70, even 80.
Again, that was a good moment for the Fed to cool things by causing the mania-artists to put up more money, as most of the foolish buying was done on margin.