The week started off poorly with a Goldman downgrade of Citigroup. Things went further downhill from there. Lowe's, Target and Freddie Mac added to negative tone. We got a little positive blip in October housing starts but the housing market remains far underwater. The Fed released the minutes from their last FOMC meeting and surprised investors by revealing the decision to lower rates was "close". They also provided an economic forecast for 2008 that predicted slower growth due to continued financial market turmoil.
All in all, this week was pretty much like the last few weeks: volatile and in the end, depressing for investors.
Against this backdrop, there has been a higher level of trading in the TradeRadar portfolio and the holdings have changed quite a bit. There were a number of disappointments delivered by TradeRadar stock picks, stops were hit and we have ended up with a more bearish set of investments. Let's look at what happened to these stocks, why we sold or bought and what has happened since. The following comments cover the last month or so of portfolio activity.
Stocks or ETFs we sold --
Starbucks (SBUX) - This was a pick based on a TradeRadar BUY signal. We hit our stop and sold with a 6% loss well before the latest earnings report drove the stock down even further. As Starbucks often does, they put up decent numbers in terms of same store sales and profitability but for the first time they announced that there were fewer transactions per store. Investors took this to mean growth in the US was maxed out and dumped the stock. The stock is no longer in the BUY zone. Thank goodness for the stop we set at $26.
Qualcomm (QCOM) - stopped out during a market downdraft back on October 19 for a loss of a few per cent. The stock had been on a losing streak in terms of of its legal woes. Since that time, QCOM has fallen sharply and rebounded sharply. It has had a few legal opinions go in its favor and recent earnings were robust with decent forward guidance provided by management. Still, as of this week, it is pretty much at the same level where we sold it.
Cisco Systems (CSCO) - Cisco delivered another excellent earnings report but indicated sales to US corporations were "lumpy." This comment precipitated a sell-off in tech stocks and initiated the first leg down of our current market downturn. We hit a stop and ended with a double-digit profit. Great company - hate to see it leave the portfolio. This is one to keep an eye on.
China Automotive (CAAS) - here is another stock pick based on the TradeRadar BUY signal. Here again, year-over-year earnings were great but looking at the sequential numbers, investors worried growth was slowing instead of picking up. Add to this the Chinese government's attempts to slow the economy and reduce lending and suddenly the Chinese automotive market doesn't look so hot. The stock hit a stop and we took a modest loss.
ProShares Ultra Technology ETF (ROM) - this ETF was a victim of the Cisco effect mentioned above. When tech stocks plunged, it fell through our stop and we only managed a small gain.
Big Band Networks (BBND) - with the stock apparently going nowhere and a big loss incurred, this is a good time for tax related selling. So it leaves the portfolio and provides a painful lesson on why stops are essential. We threw away a double-digit gain on this one.
Stocks or ETFs we bought --
PowerShares DB Oil Index ETF (DBO) - picked as a somewhat emotional reaction to high heating oil prices. Still, the trend has been up and looks to continue that way for a while. We have been keeping a tight stop on this one and indeed got stopped out once (with a profit) and decided to buy it again when it resumed its upward climb.
ProShares UltraShort Financial ETF (SKF) - at the time I bought this ETF the question was: will financials keep falling? So far the answer is yes.
SanDisk (SNDK) - Yes, I bought SanDisk again. There were no TradeRadar signals. Saw it had hit a low from which it has rebounded in the prior two years and read that the SIA expected sales of flash memory to grow 20% next year. The stock has not performed well thus far as there is lingering fear of pricing pressure in the NAND flash market.
ProShares UltraShort FTSE/Xinhua China 25 ETF (FXP) - this ETF was bought based on a TradeRadar SELL signal on another ETF, the iShares FTSE/Xinhua China 25 Index (FXI). On both the daily and weekly TradeRadar charts, FXI is a sell and FXP is a way to short the index.
Stocks or ETFs we have continued to hold --
ProShares UltraShort Real Estate ETF (SRS) - continues to perform strongly as REITs continue to weaken.
ProShares UltraShort QQQ (QID) - we bought this ETF quite a while ago, during a downturn back in the first half of 2007. This proved to be way too early. In any case, having previously reduced the position we have now added to the position and are holding it as a proxy for a falling tech sector. Recently, it has moved up nicely but is still under the price where we initially bought it. Averaging the two positions, we are at least getting closer to a break even point.
Generex Biotechnology (GNBT) - bought this a long time ago. As its products gain acceptance and government approval in various countries, the stock bounces up and then settles back. A small investment we are patiently waiting for. I like the pattern it is setting lately of higher highs and higher lows.
Disclosure: as of this writing author is long DBO, SKF, SNDK, FXP, SRS, QID, GNBT
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