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FedEx Stock Drop: Some Thoughts

The following is an amended version of the Sept. 16 Daily Contrarian. This briefing and accompanying podcast are released to premium subscribers each market day morning by 0700. To subscribe, visit our Substack.

Things went from bad to worse after the close yesterday, with a profit warning from FedEx (FDX). The company blamed macroeconomic weakness in Asia and Europe. Perhaps more importantly, its CEO told CNBC he expects a worldwide recession to ensue imminently. FedEx stock dropped by 20% overnight and continued to fall after the open.

What FedEx is saying is disconcerting on a number of levels. But a little perspective is required. First, it’s worth keeping in mind that companies are quick to blame extraneous factors when things don’t go their way. Okay, FedEx is certainly in a good position to speak to economic realities and there may very well be a lot of truth to them.

FedEx plane. Source: Wiki

But let’s not forget that the consumer data in the U.S. is (so far at least) not exactly confirming these reports. Maybe FedEx is in a better position where these numbers are concerned. Or maybe they’re just losing market share (like, hello, Amazon?) and looking for a boogeyman? Let’s not forget that these warnings used to be a regular occurrence from FedEx.

None of this is to say that the overall economic prospects are rosy. You have the Federal Reserve hellbent on raising interest rates to ward off inflation, supply chain issues, war in Europe, etc. etc. Those variables should come into play before too long whether we want them to or not.

As for FedEx, the company may face more secular concerns with its business. The stock appears cheap after this sell-off. But profits and cashflows appear to be a concern and yeah, market share. Is anybody even looking at that?

Not investment advice. Do your own research. Make your own decisions.

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Back to School

The following is an amended version of the Sept. 6 Daily Contrarian. This briefing and accompanying podcast are released to premium subscribers each market day morning by 0700. To subscribe, visit our Substack.

It’s Back to School week in the U.S. People are back from holiday. They may still be working from home but schools are back in session. In France they call this la rentrėe, the return.

Back to School sale at Walmart in Newburgh, N.Y. Source: Wiki
Back to School sale at Walmart in Newburgh, N.Y. Source: Wiki

Trading volumes should no longer be subdued this week. Major indexes in the U.S. are staring at three straight weeks of losses. The Nasdaq is actually down the last six days in a row. The energy crisis in Europe is a known event now, though there will likely still be shakeout like insolvencies that have maybe not been reckoned with.

Remember that a common trait of bear markets is to see a rally from futures and in the early trading hours that soon gives way to selling. We had that a couple of days last week and today (Monday) it is playing out again.

Having said that, the day-to-day movement is the domain of day traders, aka gamblers. We try not to get distracted by that. Has there really been something to reverse the negative sentiment? The Fed is still raising rates. Quantitative Tightening is here. The punch bowl is being removed from the party. Already has been, in fact.

Consumers are still going strong in the U.S., inflation or no. Anecdotally, your author visited a suburban Home Depot (HD) this Labor Day and found it packed with shoppers. See the instagram for more.

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Powell, European Energy Crisis Rattle Markets

The following is an amended version of the Aug. 29 Daily Contrarian. This briefing and accompanying podcast are released to premium subscribers each market day morning by 0700. To subscribe, visit our Substack.

Stocks sold off precipitously on Friday after comments from Fed Chair Jerome Powell at the Jackson Hole Symposium. Powell laid down the gauntlet on interest rates, saying the Fed was determined to keep raising them until inflation was under control. It turned into an ugly day, with the Nasdaq down almost 4%, S&P 500 declining 3.4%, and Dow Industrials by 3%.

Jerome Powell quote from Jackson Hole conference Aug. 26, 2022
Fed Chair Jerome Powell spoke these words at the 2022 Jackson Hole Symposium. Source: author via imgflip.com

European Energy Crisis

As you may know, energy prices have shot up throughout the continent. This is taking its toll on consumers, which will have an effect on corporations especially as the weather turns colder. Apparently 25% of the S&P 500 earnings come from Europe. There has been a lot of drama on Twitter about this, which leads one to believe it may turn out to be nothing.

The negative headlines are certainly coming fast and furious over this. No less an authority than Foreign Policy (hardly a click bait factory, at least not historically) informs us the crisis is worse than we think. Austria’s largest energy supplier has apparently become insolvent. You figure they won’t be the last. The crisis is apparently affecting glass production as well.

All the Sturm und Drang (German term loosely translated as ‘mad drama) aside, the situation in Europe absolutely bears watching.

The Bottom Line©

Remember that stocks and bonds very rarely sell off at the same time for very long. Eventually the cash that is generated needs to be put to work somewhere, even if it is in the relative safety of bonds. But with the Fed’s course (apparently) set “for some time” that is not very palatable right now. It will be interesting to see how these next couple of days play out in that regard.

Where Powell is concerned, it doesn’t look like we have any choice but to take him at his word for now. His comments on Friday clearly answered the question whether he was speaking for Fed interest rate policy at at the last FOMC meeting (he wasn’t) or just shooting off his mouth (he was). The market is playing along so far, at least judging by Friday.

The interest rate hikes have yet to be felt in much of the economy. In the U.S., malls, restaurants, shopping centers, and airports are crowded AF. Highways are clogged with traffic. The labor market is strong (we’ll find out on Friday how strong with the next round of non-farm payrolls). There are some indications that this is starting to turn, but you still have to go looking for these indications — they aren’t exactly jumping out at you.

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