Monday, June 17, 2013

Trend Trading Vs. Value Positioning Into Technology & Metals -

Speculation Versus Investing

Last month's newsletter—Follow The Money Flows—Or Lead?—dispelled the notion of the Sell In May And Go Away trade being anything more than a recent coincidence. This month we'll touch on short-term Trend Trading versus longer-term Value & Growth Investing.

While a company's business values and growth fundamentals tend to drive mid to long-term share prices, short-term industry sentiment and general market behaviour can distort current prices greatly. Efficient Market theorists might disagree but I believe this emotional fear/greed factor is why there are always mispriced market opportunities—presuming a reasonable investment time horizon exists.

Popular short and near-term trading tactics for additional gains are anticipating Sympathy Plays and Sector Rotations—where traders switch from stocks that have recently moved to related stocks and sectors that have not kept pace. The concept is fairly simple, when a leading name's stock pops on good news—e.g. Better-Than-Expected Earnings—quickly find similar stocks within that business sector, or look for the next sector that might start to play on similar news.

Momentum surfing tends to run for a few days but then gives back some of the gain. These plays can have several up-phases—with frequent corrections—that together can take weeks, months or longer to fully develop. Recently we have seen sector rotations with sympathy plays back into Mortgage, Social Sites, Transportation, Chinese stocks to even Solar—Biotech and Pharma have been hot all year.

There can even be rotations within a single sector—e.g. transportation—with Shipping stocks hot in April while Trucking was more in-play last month. Market money flows change quickly, and to help identify the Market's Pulse live—the sector groups and stocks in-play at any moment—see our homepage's Filtered Mid-Day Market Movers, and subscribe to our free Weekend Recap newsletter.

While this type of speculation keeps Day-Traders and their e-brokers busy, I doubt that they are any further ahead overall by flipping several related names compared to just holding the leading stock play. Keep in mind that while frequent day trading has grown and has added to market liquidity, institutional investors are still key in moving share prices. They tend to put stock supply away, whereas day traders—by definition—return their shares to the float before the market's close.

Also consider that major stock price moves often happen overnight—in reaction to news released after the main markets have closed. In other words Stock Gaps attempt to factor-in news before the market reopens—which day traders will have missed. Don't get me wrong, I have no problem with day trading—just when speculation is confused with investing, or brains with a bull market.

Next Trends? Look For Value And Growth—Mega-Cap Technology & Mining

When a beaten-down sector finally begins a new up-trend, the first clear up-move tends to be the biggest. However, it's getting difficult to find a sector that hasn't played this year. The only remaining sectors that I can find, that haven't really participated and may be due, are commodities—especially metals and mining—and large-cap technology—specifically semiconductor chips and computers.

Sector rotation has mostly ignored leading mega-cap Dow (DJIA) components (NASDAQ: INTC) Intel Corp., (NASDAQ: CSCO) Cisco Systems and (NYSE: HPQ) Hewlett Packard. Unlike most other Dow stocks, all three are still closer to their 10-year lows than their all-time highs. From a value perspective, Intel has a P/E Multiple of only 12 with a substantial 3.61% Dividend Yield, Cisco's P/E is 13 and yields 2.82%, while Hewlett shows negative trailing earnings but still pays 2.35%.

Like fuelled rockets on the launch-pad that pay more than 10-year Treasuries while you wait, today these stocks get cited more as Dogs Of The Dow value plays rather than the high flyers they were back in the dot-com days. Back then their P/Es were in the triple digits with no dividend payout.

These companies still dominate their business sectors, with lots of capital muscle to innovate or grow through acquisition. Granted these are huge companies now, but they'll still get their due if/when tech gets hot again—when these leaders may be the first to finally breakout of decade long trading ranges!

On the other hand, many commodities have not just fallen behind the market's bullish pace, they are just down—period. No sector has been beaten-down as much lately as the mining group—lead by the recent plunge in Gold prices. In our February 4th newsletter—after 16-months of gold's correction—we noted, "a break below gold's $1,600/oz. base might signal a Bearish Reversal, whereas a break above gold's upper $1,800/oz. resistance level might signal a Bullish Continuation—like it did in 2006 and 2008. Whichever way gold moves to eventually break from its pattern could be dramatic—typically wider bases mean bigger moves."

This appears to have been spot on—or maybe $1,550 was the magic trigger—resulting in heavy gold ETF selling that promptly bungee jumped gold prices down over $200 to a low of $1,321.50 an ounce in April. The bounce resulted in gold recovering to the high $1,400's—on the back of strong physical buying—but now gold seems stuck in the high-$1,300s to low-$1,400s and technically directionless.

The problem with trying to predict gold's bottom is that new bottoms can always emerge. Even so, Gold Bugs should be asking if this is just an even more undervalued situation—created by short-term negative sentiment over unfounded worries. I highly doubt that this the end of gold's long-term secular bull-market—more likely that money flows have temporarily rotated to better performing equity markets. If so—when the U.S. markets hiccup—gold could rebound in a heartbeat.

Again we need to look at the value and growth fundamentals of why gold was a good investment in the first place. Gold was going up because it is a proven store of value against economic risks—i.e. Hyperinflation. With the world's currencies ongoing Debase-Race—with Europe's banks a mess and Japan's Yen printers now in overdrive as well—has anything really changed? Also consider the effect of lower gold prices on supply—with most all-in production costs around $1,200 an ounce today.

A recent Casey Research article—Gold Stock Sellers Remorse—shows the widening gap between GDP and debt and how Central Banks in emerging countries had bought almost a million ounces of gold last month. Further, when prices fell off a cliff in April, physical volume on the Shanghai Gold Exchange quadrupled. This is opposite the behaviour expected if gold's bull-market is done.

In February we compared the major North American indexes to several major gold and other metals producers—to demonstrate relative value. Here they are again, with February's trailing 12-month P/E shown first and then today's next to it:

Dow Industrials 15.37 / 16.47, Dow Transportation 18.47 / 21.26, Dow Utility 21.94 / 25.44, Nasdaq-100 16.64 / 18.55, S&P-500 17.92 / 18.28, S&P/TSX Composite 25.60 / 25.60, Russell-2000 31.24 / 59.12. Today's higher P/Es suggest that markets are more expensive then in February.

Barrick Gold (NYSE: ABX)(TSX: ABX) 9.50 / N/A, AngloGold Ashanti (NYSE: AU) 12.10 / 6.65, Gold Fields Ltd. (NYSE: GFI) 9.60 / 2.95, Harmony Gold Mining (NYSE: HMY) 8.20 / 5.16, IAMGOLD Corp. (NYSE: IAG)(TSX: IMG) 8.10 / 8.50, Compania de Minas Buenaventura S.A. (NYSE: BVN) 8.60 / 7.72, Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold (NYSE: FCX) 11.10 / 9.66, BHP Billiton (NYSE: BHP) 13.60 / 10.88. Today's lower P/Es suggest these stocks are even cheaper now.

Major miners were relatively inexpensive compared to North American indices back in February. Today this value gap is even wider as indices are more expensive—and miners are even cheaper. The Casey article showed how stock prices overshoot during crashes—with gold stocks now even cheaper than dirt! The example was (NYSE: GG)(TSX: G) Goldcorp, with the market's price per tonne of gold ore being $10.26, versus Topsoil, Compost and Mulch at $31.74, $49.59 and $88.16 respectively.

Contrarian Non-Gold Metals Play

Those convinced that the economic recovery is real, and sustainable—although not convinced of the value in owing Precious Metals—might instead look to infrastructure plays and Specialty Metals that have been beaten down. (NYSE: AA) Alcoa is the world's leading producer of primary and fabricated Aluminium, world's largest miner of Bauxite and refiner of Alumina, and a Dow 30 stock since 1959.

Alcoa is a bet on real industrial growth returning to America and the world's economies, and with this higher aluminum prices. Alcoa's trading range was $25-$40 for a decade prior to the Great Recession—now $8.12 per share. However, just because Alcoa's share price is historically low—marginally above its 2009 low of $4.97—does not mean it's a value play. Alcoa's P/E is high at over 35, and its dividend is low at only 1.47%.

Competitive pressures—i.e. Chinese producers—have squeezed Alcoa's market share, revenue and earnings. With a market cap under $9B—less than 1/3 of the second-lowest cap Dow stock—and with last month's Moody's credit downgrade, many are questioning Alcoa's status as a Blue Chip industrial. Most suggest (NASDAQ: AAPL) Apple Inc. or (NASDAQ: GOOG) Google Inc. as replacements.

While I get that Google is a blue chip company from its dominance in Internet Search—and in ad-serving—is it really a bellwether of how the economy or stock market is doing? How long can Apple continue to out-innovate the competition—to hold on to its iThingys high prices, profit margins and market share? Aluminum prices and Alcoa's shares are down, but neither is going the way of the Buggy Whip anytime soon—Contrarian Cyclical Trends suggest both are ugly enough to love again.

Small To Mid-Cap Specialty Metals

Prices for Rare Earths have suffered with other metals. We follow leading companies like (NYSE: MCP) Molycorp, which controls world-class light/heavy resources and produces high-purity custom engineered REE products. MCP's market-cap is now just over $1B at $5.69 per share and continues to test April's double-bottom chart lows at around $5—with a 52-week high/low of $23.29/$4.70. For a background on these strategic metals and the key players, see our Research menu and Rare Earths tab.

The only small-cap mining areas that have seen much excitement this year are Graphite and Uranium exploration. The graphite market is specialized with only a few players to focus on. Over the summer we hope to share a report about Graphite, Graphene and their unique properties and growth opportunities—including some of these companies.

Since the March 2011 record 9.0 earthquake and tsunami at Fukushima Japan—and the resulting Daiichi Nuclear Plant accident—we have been tracking beaten-up U3O8 prices and major producers shares for signs of their next cyclical up-trend. As a mined metal, uranium has suffered a further whammy—dismal financing options for mining markets in general. However if you research past the media's sound-bites, you will see why U3O8 may be better positioned than any other metal right now!

Uranium's dominant demand is for nuclear reactors, meaning that it's really a reliable, efficient, and environmentally safe energy play—cheap and with strong long-term growth fundamentals. We have shown how the world's U3O8 demand continues to build—already exceeding mined supply—while at the same time low prices force mines to close, and Russia ends its HEU supply of ~24M/lbs. annually.

Mining companies and even Developing Nations are adapting via creative financing. Last month Rosatom—Russia's state owned nuclear company—now offers a special package deal to finance, build and operate nuclear power plants. Similar to its arrangement with Turkey for four reactors, Egypt and South Korea have signed memorandum of understanding for nuclear cooperation.

While junior exploration is risky, there is nothing like a new discovery to ignite interest in a metal or an area play—even in the worst of mining environments. For months we have provided updates about (TSXV: FCU) Fission Uranium and (TSXV: AMW) Alpha Minerals' success in expanding their PLS high-grade uranium joint venture in the Athabaska Basin—rewarding shareholders nicely so far.

Uranerz Energy Corp. Update

Our favourite uranium value and growth plays are in between the Junior Explorers and Major Producers—companies with an established resource in a safe mining jurisdiction, and with the management skills, financing and permits in place to bring a mine into production. Development Plays are small enough that drill results can still impact share prices meaningfully, while also large enough to provide more certainty and safety—advanced projects are generally easier to finance.

Our featured uranium company continues to be (AMEX: URZ)(TSX: URZ) Uranerz Energy Corp.—which is developing its first ISR mine in Wyoming. As a company synopsis, I'll quote a recent Energy Report interview entitled Transformative Energy Technologies: Michael and Chris Berry.

"This company is a near-term uranium producer in Wyoming, and is particularly attractive due the fact that it is essentially derisked. Uranerz is exceptionally well managed and could be generating cash flow within a year. The company is fully permitted, has offtake agreements in place and should be receiving a $20M loan from the Wyoming Industrial Development Revenue Bond Program. The tolling agreement in place with Cameco Corp. (TSX: CCO)(NYSE: CCJ) is another positive attribute for Uranerz. Given that the Russians (JSC Atomredmetzoloto or ARMZ) have taken Uranium One Inc. private, Cameco may look to consolidate the Powder River Basin in Wyoming and integrate Uranerz into its operations there."

On June 7th Uranerz announced the completion of a $US6M short-term note financing. Instead of waiting for its $20M Wyoming state government loan to be fully processed, this bridge financing allows the company to commence drilling both of their required Deep Disposal Wells now!

Click the video screen below for a recent interview with Uranerz Energy's CEO Glenn Catchpole—or visit

Uranerz Energy has a market capitalization of $93M at its current price of US$1.20 per share. On June 10 Dundee Securities updated their URZ target to $2.65; last month Haywood Securities updated their URZ target to US$2.80.

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