13. Individual and sector market surprises.
"Those who are easily shocked should be shocked more often." -- Mae West
• Bank Stocks Fall -- Though bank stocks have been recent market leaders, the weight of a flattening yield curve, still-tepid loan demand and an implosion in the European banking system make the sector among the worst market performers. Moreover, a major cyber attack against Bank of America (BAC) that actually destroys a percentage of customer records further diminishes enthusiasm for the group.
• Twitter (TWTR) Feeding -- Carl Icahn, calling it his "new Netflix," discloses a 9.9% position in Twitter. This stimulates a bidding war between Google (GOOG) and Facebook (FB) to acquire the company. Google wins the battle and pays $60 a share for Twitter.
• Volatility Rising -- The (VIX.X) rises to over 30 in the second half of the year.
• Google Institutes a Share Buyback and Shaves Capital Spending -- After a lackluster performance in 2014, Google's management reverses course on its previously outsized capital spending program on non-core businesses and becomes more shareholder friendly. The company dials back spending and institutes a stock buyback program.
• Corporate Inefficiency in Large-Cap Technology Targets Activist Investors --- Two hedge funds establish a filing position in Cisco (CSCO) and force Chairman John Chambers out. The new CEO announces a large special dividend and a massive stock buyback and a cutback to the employees' too-generous stock option plan. More than 10% of the workforce is laid off and Cisco's shares soar. Several other tech companies are targeted.