Today’s video is Microsoft Shows Priced to Perfection Risks. This quarter, the company reported Tuesday, Azure, its cloud services flagship, grew revenue by 30% last year. While a 30% growth rate would be a great for many companies, Wall Street and analysts were disappointed in this news from Microsoft. This is the “priced to perfection” problem. Although the company beat earnings estimates, beat revenue estimates, and showed 30% growth in a key part of the company, the stock went down. Maybe a $3 trillion market cap on Microsoft is a lot of weight to push up hill. We could see more of this during this earnings season as Amazon, Apple and Meta release their own reports. The “Magnificent Seven” that were responsible for most of the 24% gain in the S&P in 2023 are beginning to wobble. My hope was for more market leaders to emerge but that doesn’t seem to be happening. I don’t expect “wobble” to cause anything that terrible in the market, but a sideways move is likely as investors ponder their next move.
It is perhaps too early to draw meaningful conclusions, but Microsoft’s failure to jump in after-hours trading on better than expected earnings sure seems like more evidence that this is a market priced to perfection.
Here are the first 8 picks for my GREATER Growth Stocks Special Report. More on the way.
Hedge funds are unwinding some of their overweight positions in technology stocks after their concentration in the sector reached record levels, according to Goldman Sachs. Net selling in tech, media and telecom stocks last week was the most since July, Goldman Sachs wrote in a note today. Information Technology (XLK) and Communication Services (XLC) were the most net sold sectors, Goldman said. And, among subsectors, sales of software stocks, chips and chip equipment and interactive media and services “were by far the most net sold.” The outweighed buying in IT services and media.”
On Monday Nvidia (NVDA) hit an all-time high. For 2023 through November 17, Nvidia and the other 6 stocks in the Magnificent Seven–Apple (AAPL), Alphabet (GOOG), Microsoft (MSFT), Amazon (AMZN), Meta (META), and Tesla (TSLA)–have gained more than 70%. The other 493 stocks in the Standard & Poor’ 500 are up 6% for that same period.
I’m trying to decide if we’re watching a legitimate rally or a classic bear trap. If this rally is real, and likely to run for a while, investors should be putting cash to work even at market highs. If it’s a bear trap-you know one of those upward moves designed to pull in cash from the sidelines just before green turns to red in the market, then you ought to be using this moment as a selling opportunity, taking profits, and building cash for better barging down the road. A new survey by Goldman Sachs shows concentration in big tech stocks is at a record high. What does that mean?
Investors see a ton of third-quarter earnings reports this coming week with news from Microsoft, Amazon, Meta Platforms, and Alphabet quite capable of moving the entire market. We’ll also get more consumer company (Coca-Cola and Kimberly-Clark for example) reports to show whether last week’s higher revenue but lower volume pattern continues. And Wall Street is expecting negative new from oil companies ExxonMobil (XOM) and Chevron (CVX) when they both report on Friday.
So what do you do with your portfolio for the rest of 2023? And what’s your best strategy to be prepared for 2024? In Part 1 of this Special Report I laid out the 10 developments that I thought would drive the financial markets for the rest of 223 and into 2024. Today, in Part 2, I’m going to give you the first 2 of 10 moves to take–with as much detail and as many specifics as possible–that you should be making now to position your portfolio for the uncertainties of the last quarter of 2023.
Notes You Need for September 25: MSFT market fuel, cost of car ownership, Goldman fine, Micky Dee franchise fees up, CSCO buys SPLK
I haven’t done one of these in a while, but I think that this current market is throwing up lots of hints that might contribute to an investing thesis but that don’t deserve a full post. So here I go with Notes You Need again.
This isn’t the quarter I expect from a stock trading at a record, all-time high. Today, after the close, Microsoft (MSFT) reported fiscal fourth-quarter adjusted earnings of $2.69 a share. That exceeded Wall Street estimates of $2.55 a share.Revenue rose on 8% to $56.2 billion Wall Street analysts had expected $55.5 billion. For the fiscal 2023 year revenue grew by just 7%. That was the lowest annual growth since 2017.
I think a well-constructed portfolio should resemble an onion. (Yes, to continue the analogy, it may make you cry in the short term, but the end result after cooking time is yummy.) At the center of that onion is a core built of stocks with extremely high, risk-adjusted potential rates of return. These stocks won’t deliver the kind of huge gains you can reap from investing in a risky bet–if everything turns out right for that company and its stock. But neither are they likely to crash and burn because something goes wrong at the company. These core portfolio stocks will drop if the market as a whole heads south, but they will drop less and recover faster. These aren’t buy-and-forget, or hold-forever stocks. They can soar to unreasonable valuations at times and an active investor should take profits at some point of overvaluation. (I did a YouTube video recently (you can find it on any of my sites) on when to sell a very overvalued Nvidia, for example.) And they can trade at big discounts to fair value (which is, of course, when the steely-eyed among us will buy) because management has made a mistake or between the industry in which they do business is slumping, or because the market for the company’s goods and services has taken an unexpected direction. At that point, you’ll need to consider selling or adding to your positions depending on your analysis of how long the damage might last and how bad it is. But the point of this core to your stock portfolio is that these are companies that will deliver index-beating results with relatively small risks. Which will enable you, the investor, to plan how to achieve your financial goals with relatively less worry and uncertainty. So, without further ado, here’s my list of 10 stocks for a core portfolio–with the very important “whys” for each pick.
Artificial intelligence really is a paradigm-breaking, transformative technology. Right now, investors are so enthusiastic about the sector, especially the obvious leader Nvidia (NVDA), that we’re looking at a potential bubble that will collapse with much gnashing of teeth and I-told-you-so “wisdom” casting doubt on the reality of the entire endeavor. I think a bubble is indeed possible. Nvidia did trade at a trailing twelve-month price-to-earnings ratio of 196 on May 31, after all. But I think you do want to own the sector now–because the breaking of the bubble, if it does break is, in my opinion, two quarters or more away. And you want to own the sector for the long run–say, 10 years or more–because it is such a game changer for so much of the economy. But what to own? I’ve put together a list of the 10 stocks that I think are the best way to participate in the AI gold rush.