Tagged: Macro Focus Investing

Macro Factors and IR

Congratulations, IR profession! It’s happened.

One of our ranks stepped up to the stock-exchange rule-filing plate, planted, and cracked that fastball out of the park. Thank you, Katie Keita, for commenting on the Nasdaq’s proposal for ETF sponsors to pay market-makers.

I hope it’s a trend. Your stocks underpin everything else. These are your markets.

More on that later. But speaking of trends, yesterday the dollar rose and stocks fell. When the greenback gains on other major currencies, things valued in dollars often decline. Stocks are stores of value, and value ebbs or flows according to the measuring tape – currencies. The dollar fell in April (after an early buck spike garroted equities), so stocks rose proportionally. Then as April ended, the dollar strengthened on mounting global worries (especially from Europe). Stocks shrank. It’s a macro effect that trumps stories.

How should you view macro factors from the IR chair? “Macro factors” is jargon for “how appraisers view the global neighborhood.” There was a good article on the Big Picture (page R9, “How the Big Picture Affects Stock Picks”) in the Wall Street Journal Monday May 7. Writer Suzanne McGee says macro factors shouldn’t make investors reflexive but can’t be ignored either.

You’re not investing, of course. But you’re selling to investors. If your target market is influenced by macro factors, and you’re not, you may be striking discordant notes. (more…)

You Can Change the World

At county fairs when I was a kid you could buy a “Shoshoni Weather Gauge,” which hawkers said could forecast the weather like an American Indian.

It was a rock tied with a leather strand to a wooden stand. The instructions said: “If rock is wet, it’s raining. If rock is dry and hot, it’s sunny. If rock is cold and covered with fluffy white layer, it’s snowing.”

Similarly, I saw this in a recent Bloomberg article: “The best way to keep pace with the S&P last year would have been a strategy that rotated between sectors based on the macro headlines,” said David Spika, fund manager at Westwood Holdings in Dallas.

That sounds a lot like “if rock is wet, it’s raining.” The elegance of simplicity notwithstanding, how do you distinguish the IR chair and your company’s shares in a market moving on whether the rock is wet or not?

One argument says you change your focus. Deemphasize the capital markets and instead get baptized in Dodd-Frank, proxy evolution, say-on-pay and myriad others rules and regulations oozing like molasses through public capital markets. Become a compliance concierge. Well and good. But you’ll be competing with internal and external legal counsel for thought leadership, and I find that the advantage lawyers have is they have law degrees. (more…)

IR Pros Must Know Macro Factors

We were sitting on the porch in the shadow of the American flag Sunday September 11 when fighter jets streaked and thundered so low that all of Denver shook. We caught glimpses of pairs of F-15s and F-16s, afterburners hot. Later, we read that warplanes from Denver escorted two flights with suspicious passengers aboard. But the ten-year memorial passed in peace.

Speaking of thunderous roar, I attended the jam-packed NIRI Rocky Mountain Chapter’s kickoff session today. Nasdaq chief economist Frank Hatheway offered a thoughtful and statistical look at the market. He joked that when he first prepared slides two weeks ago, the trends were improving but he’d had to change his comments to reflect reality.

Dr. Hatheway launched his talk by comparing stock indices with VIX volatility, Treasury yields, oil prices and gold. He observed that investor-relations professionals today need to develop a level of understanding of these “macro factors” – benchmarks of group behavior across asset classes (clients, we include a Macro Factors segment on page two of your Market Structure Report). (more…)

High Correlation in Stocks

While Irene splashed Wall Street, we Coloradans reveled in the ridden glory of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge. The 500-mile route hosted 130 of the world’s top cyclists including Tour de France winner Cadel Evans and both runners-up, Luxembourgers Andy and Frank Schleck.

We were there, clanging bells and hooting our hearts out. Here is winner Levi Leipheimer readying for the time trial that put him in yellow. The peloton left Avon here for Steamboat, and Levi is visible midway in yellow. At the finish, some 250,000 jammed downtown Denver for the epic, lapping conclusion. We are proud of American cycling and our state’s awesome organizational effort.

Speaking of peloton, Wall Street Journal reporter John Jannarone wrote Monday in the Heard column called “Traders Seek Salvation from Correlation” about how stocks race in formation. It’s among the best pieces we’ve seen on modern trading. Jannarone says that S&P 500 stocks show 80% correlation in the past month, meaning eight in ten move synchronously.

This is a source of distress for IR folks trying to distinguish a strong company story from the herd. We’d argue that rather than slamming the collective IR noggin into the burgeoning brick wall of macro-focus investing that you instead track program trading and establish what level is acceptable – and use it as an IR success measure. We wrote about this last week, so we won’t retrace the trodden path.

Why a mirror image across so much of the market? One driver Jannarone posits is Exchange-Traded Fund investing. According to Credit Suisse, these drive some 30% of daily stock volume. Jannarone also notes that trading in S&P 500 E-mini futures contracts is more than four times the combined daily volume of the two biggest S&P 500 ETFs, the SPDR, and iShares S&P 500 Index ETF. (more…)

Why Franklin Templeton Likes HFT

Last week in Miami, I took part in a panel discussion about modern trading realities. The weather Thursday was like it is in Denver now, about 60 degrees. Those of you south or north who need to warm up, come visit. I clocked some hours on the bike Saturday and Sunday. It wasn’t sunburn weather, but on bikes in December at 5,000 feet? Life’s good.

Getting back to trading, how come some investors rail at churn trading, while others love machine intermediation? Somebody must be wrong, right? (more…)