Will this week’s earnings reports confirm the prevailing view of a deteriorating economy? And what action should you take before your stock reports earnings? MoneyShow’s Tom Aspray suggests some simple steps and weighs in on three companies that report this week.
Last Friday’s late reversal in the stock market led to more light selling in Monday’s reduced holiday trading. More gloomy forecasts on the economy from the IMF hit the financial press Tuesday, as they warned "Risks for a serious global slowdown are alarmingly high."
This adds to the investor nervousness as we start the earnings season. Alcoa (AA) customarily kicks off earnings after today's close.
No matter what financial press you may read or TV channel you may watch, there is clearly a divergence between stock prices and the prevailing view of the economy. I discussed this in more detail last Friday.
This does not make the decision any easier for those investors whose companies are scheduled to report earnings in coming weeks. Do you sell before the earnings in fear of an earnings miss, or hold on to the stock in the hope that the report will exceed investor expectations?
I would argue that even the most basic technical analysis can give you a better chance of making the right decision than hope or fear. An interesting example is the widely held Kinder Morgan Energy Partners (KMP), which a leading Web site noted in July “ has missed analyst estimates for four quarters in a row.”
The earnings misses started during the second quarter of 2011, as KMP closed on July 30, 2011 at $70.49. With KMP’s close Monday at $85.79, it has gained 21.6% over the past 14 months.
A look at the monthly chart of KMP shows that it has continued to make higher highs and higher lows since November 2009, when KMP moved above the 2008 highs. It would take a drop below the May 2012 low of $76.65 to change the major uptrend.
For those who want to do more detailed analysis, I favor relative performance, which compares a stock’s performance to the S&P 500. Stocks that are weaker than the overall market tend to be sold more heavily when they miss earnings than those which are acting stronger than the market.
The monthly relative performance analysis of KMP shows that it has formed higher highs and higher lows (line b) since it completed a bottom formation in 2008 (line a). A change in this pattern would warn of a future price decline.
So what about this week's earnings—are there any stocks you should be selling before they report?
Chart Analysis: The outlook for Alcoa (AA) has not changed much in 2012, as the weekly chart shows the sharp slide in prices from March through December 2011.
NEXT: Will Thursday Bring Good News for These 2 Stocks?