Tagged: value

Rotation

There’s a story going around about an epochal rotation from momentum (growth) to value in stocks. It may be a hoax.

I’ll explain in a bit. First the facts. It began Monday when without warning the iShares Edge MSCI USA Value Factor ETF (VLUE) veered dramatically up and away from the iShares Edge MSCI USA Momentum Factor ETF (MTUM).

CNBC said of Monday trading, “Data compiled by Bespoke Investment Group showed this was momentum’s worst daily performance relative to value since its inception in early 2013.”

The story added, “The worst performing stocks of 2019 outperformed on Monday while the year’s biggest advancers lagged, according to SentimenTrader. This year’s worst performers rose 3.5% on Monday while 2019’s biggest advancers slid 1.4%, the research firm said.”

A tweet from SentimenTrader called it “the biggest 1-day momentum shift since 2009.”

It appeared to continue yesterday. We think one stock caused it all.

Our view reflects a theorem we’ve posited before about the unintended consequences of a market crammed full of Exchange Traded Funds, substitutes for stocks that depend for prices on the prices of stocks they’re supposed to track.

To be fair, the data the past week are curious. We sent a note to clients Monday before the open. Excerpt:

“Maybe all the data is about to let loose. It’s just. Strange.  Fast Trading leading. ETFs more volatile than stocks. Spreads evaporating. Sentiment stuck in neutral. More sectors sold than bought….Stocks should rise. But it’s a weird stretch ahead of options-expirations Sep 18-20.  It feels like the market is traversing a causeway.”

That stuff put together could mean rotation, I suppose.

But if there was a massive asset shift from growth to value, we’d see it in behavioral change. We don’t. The only behavior increasing in September so far is Fast Trading – machines exploiting how prices change.

What if it was AT&T and Elliott Management causing it?

If you missed the news, T learned last weekend that Activist investor Elliott Management had acquired a $3.2 billion stake in the communications behemoth and saw a future valuation near $60.  On that word, T surged Monday to a 52-week high.

T is the largest component of the MSCI index the value ETF VLUE tracks, making up about 10% of its value.  ETFs, as I said above, have been more volatile than stocks.

Compare the components of MTUM and VLUE and they’re shades apart. Where T is paired with VLUE, CMCSA ties to MTUM, as does DIS.  MRK is momentum, PFE is value. CSCO momentum, INTC, IBM value. PYPL, V, MA momentum, BAC, C, value.

Look at the market. What stuff did well, which did poorly?

The outlier is T. It’s a colossus among miniatures. It trades 100,000 times daily, a billion dollars of volume, and it’s been 50% short for months, with volatility 50% less than the broad market, and Passive Investment over 20% greater in T than the broad market.

T blasted above $38 Monday on a spectacular lightning bolt of…Fast Trading. The same behavior leading the whole market.  Not investment. No asset-shift.

What if machines, which cannot comprehend what they read like humans can, despite advances in machine-learning, artificial intelligence (no learning or intelligence is possible without human inputs – we’re in this business and we know), improperly “learned” a shift from growth to value solely from T – and spread it like a virus?

Humans may be caught up in the machine frenzy, concluding you gotta be in value now, not realizing there’s almost no difference between growth and value in the subject stocks.

Compare the top ten “holdings” of each ETF. Easy to find. Holdings, by the way, may not reflect what these ETFs own at a given time. Prospectuses offer wide leeway.

But let’s give them the benefit of the doubt. What’s the difference between MRK and PFE? V, MA, and PYPL and C, BAC and, what, GM and DIS?

Stock pickers know the difference, sure.  Machines don’t. Sponsors of ETFs wanting good collateral don’t.  Except, of course, that cheap collateral is better than expensive collateral, because it’s more likely to produce a return.

Such as: All the worst-performing stocks jumped. All the best-performing stocks didn’t.

What if this epochal rotation is nothing more than news of Elliott’s stake in T pushing a domino forward, which dropped onto some algorithm, that tugged a string, which plucked a harp note that caused fast-trading algorithms to buy value and sell momentum?

This is a risk with ETFs. You can’t trust signs of rotation.

We have the data to keep you from being fooled by machine-learning.

Targeting Today

EDITORIAL NOTE: This edition of the Market Structure Map ran nearly a year ago, on May 30, 2012, right ahead of the NIRI National Conference, the IR profession’s annual gathering. We’re at NIRI again now, in sultry south Florida with our professional compatriots conferencing at the Westin Diplomat in Hollywood.  After spending several hours at the ModernIR booth, this still seems apropos. Catch you next week.  -TQ 

“So we should target value investors next week.”

Those eight words say much about IR today. I heard them on a weekly web meeting with a Nasdaq-traded company whose name most everybody knows. The point isn’t who said it. The idea applies to all of us. More in a moment.

First, at NIRI National next week I’m a panelist Monday along with Jason Lenzo, Director of Equity and Fixed-Income Trading at Russell Investments. Russell indices benchmark tomorrow for rebalancing, by the way. Our panel hits market structure and how it affects institutional trading and IR targeting today. Come ask tough questions.

Back to those words. There’s an action in them: Target. An audience: Value investors. A timeframe: Next week.

The kicker: This company is a growth story. What’s wrong with growth stories right now? Well, consider the environment. Yesterday, markets were briefly rattled by the Conference Board’s consumer confidence survey, which dipped more than expected. US stocks were up anyway, but not on growth. Money saw Chinese stimulus, Swiss capital controls to keep the franc from climbing, and rising yields on Spanish and Italian bonds as reasons to buy short-term shelters. US stocks.

Growth stocks, or value stocks?

Exactly.

Next week the situation might be wholly different. A growth story might indeed be a growth stock. Or a GARP stock. Stock and story are not the same, any more than summer and winter clothing at your favorite retailer are hot items simultaneously. Sure, it’s all clothing. But context matters. Got a tough environment? Inventory to move? You’re a value story. (more…)

“We determined that it was appropriate to re-examine the appropriateness of short sale price test restrictions.”

We copied that sentence from the SEC’s 334-page charter instituting Rule 201 amendments for short sales. While it’s amusing that the authors modified the word appropriate with the word appropriateness, what’s important is that the rule took effect yesterday, Feb 28. What is it and how might it impact investor relations?

It’s hard to summarize a document consuming 60% of a ream of paper in one sentence. But Rule 201 implements an uptick rule – which regulators removed as part of Reg NMS in 2007 – when securities drop 10% from the preceding day’s closing price. If that happens, an uptick rule will be enforced in which long sellers matching at the best bid or offer will be able to sell ahead of short-sellers, and shorts will only be able to sell if the price ticks up above the last bid.

The idea is that if long sellers get called up to the front of the line, it’ll promote investor confidence by reducing the severity of short-driven price swings. And it’ll improve market-efficiency by letting those with long positions off the boat, thus discouraging short sellers from trying to sink the boat. (more…)

How Quants Find Value

Prior to the 4th of July you might have heard us jeer, “That’s about as exciting as Iowa.”

Passing through last weekend, we had to concede that Iowa was in fact a place of surpassing and bucolic beauty, with its rolling corn-planted hills and manicured farms. The heartland at Independence Day reminded us that this land of ours and yours is jeweled.

Anyway, we’re a day late this week because it’s a long way from Bratenahl on Erie to the banks of the Platte.

Speaking of eerie, your management teams must be wondering what caused stocks to cross chasms today to the upside. Do you think investors suddenly decided stocks were cheap? To paraphrase Saturday Night Live…really? (more…)