Friday’s three big stock charts focus on stocks that look a bit wobbly at the moment. That seems fitting because the broad market suddenly looks that way as well.
It’s not time to panic yet. The S&P 500, for instance, is down half a percentage point for the week after closing Friday at an all-time high. Still, the index has finished in the red for three consecutive sessions, and the same has been true for the Dow Jones Industrial Average.
In this week’s trading, there’s a case for at least modest caution. The impeachment inquiry in the House of Representatives is kicking off a year of political news served to a sharply divided populace. Valuations look stretched in some sectors of the market. Earnings this week have not been impressive, particularly on the retail front. A whiff by Home Depot (NYSE:HD) raises concerns about the key construction sector, while department stores Kohl’s (NYSE:KSS) and Macy’s (NYSE:M) declined ahead of a compressed holiday shopping season.
Again, a sell-off isn’t necessarily imminent, but the market suddenly seems more uncertain than it has at any point in the last few months. Friday’s big stock charts look at stocks in a similar situation. All three have done reasonably well of late. But both technically and fundamentally, there’s a real possibility that all three could pull back.
Micron Technology (MU)
- The technicals look concerning for several reasons. MU stock has broken out to the downside of both a sideways triangle and a longer-term ascending narrowing wedge. Both moves usually are bearish and signal further weakness ahead. Combined with low volume and the recent dip below the 20- and 50-day moving averages, and MU stock at the moment seems to have a clear path to the 200 DMA closer to $42, about 7% further downside.
- There’s also the fact that the rest of the semiconductor sector mostly has soared. Advanced Micro Devices (NASDAQ:AMD) has broken out. Nvidia (NASDAQ:NVDA) has gained over 40% since early August. Meanwhile, Micron stock and fellow memory play Western Digital (NASDAQ:WDC) are moving in the wrong direction. Investors are buying chip stocks — just not memory chip stocks. Indeed, WDC’s bearish chart was highlighted in this space last week, and it’s kept slipping since. MU stock looks like it’s on a similar path.
- Fundamentally, MU stock is cheap enough if earnings are at a bottom. But there’s some indication that memory pricing isn’t set to revert quite as quickly as bulls hope. The recent weakness in Micron stock may be a reflection of that realization, and it might be a harbinger of more disappointment ahead.
International Paper (IP)
There have been quite a few beaten-down potential value names like International Paper (NYSE:IP) that have rallied of late. AT&T (NYSE:T) might qualify, even if its rally admittedly began in December. IBM (NYSE:IBM) has had a few bounces. Kohl’s stock gained nicely before wiping out after earnings this week. Rite Aid (NYSE:RAD), which had fallen over 90% in three years, has almost doubled from summer lows.
There are other examples as well that show what looks like a shift from growth to value that began in late August. But many of those names have weakened of late, and the second of our big stock charts suggests IP might be next:
- IP stock stalled out before returning to past highs at $48, creating a narrowing wedge pattern of lower highs. Shares now are below the 20-day moving average, with the 200DMA and 50DMA next up.
- Moving out to the weekly chart, the same trend seems to hold. IP stock remains in a downtrend that commenced at the beginning of last year.
- Fundamentally, IP stock admittedly looks more attractive. The forward price-to-earnings multiple looks cheap at under 12x. A 4.6% dividend yield could draw income investors, particularly with 10-year Treasuries yielding under 2%.
- But these high-dividend value stocks too often have been value traps in this market. IBM and KSS have provided negative total returns over most holding periods. Even AT&T stock has underperformed the market including dividends and the recent rally. It does seem like stocks like IP drew in investors looking for value at the end of the summer — and that those investors may have realized that a cheap multiple and a high dividend alone aren’t enough. There’s some evidence in the chart that IP may resume the downward trend of other potential yield traps.
Electronic Arts (EA)
The range keeps narrowing for video game developer Electronic Arts (NASDAQ:EA). That usually suggests a breakout in one direction; at the moment, the third of Friday’s big stock charts does lean bullish, but the fundamentals raise some concern:
- EA stock definitely has a setup that could lead to a bullish breakout. A move back above $100 would break the sideways wedge. Unsurprisingly given trading since February, moving averages are tightly grouped, and they could provide support in coming sessions. Low volume is a concern in terms of expecting anything like a parabolic move higher, but EA stock has ground in the right direction since late July and there’s some evidence on that chart to suggest that trend can continue.
- At the same time, however, the technicals highlight a fundamental issue: EA stock desperately needs a catalyst, as I wrote this week. Its core franchises all are long in the tooth. ‘Battle royale’ game “Apex Legends” has disappointed after an auspicious beginning, and the new “Star Wars” game looks well-reviewed but not big enough to move the needle. The fundamentals too don’t yet suggest a compelling case for EA stock unless and until something changes.
- That said, there are worse plays in this market — and it’s possible that both technically and fundamentally EA stock is in a better position than it might first appear. EA stock is cheap enough to rally. Peers Take-Two Interactive (NASDAQ:TTWO) and Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ:ATVI) both have had breakouts of their own in 2019; Electronic Arts stock might be ‘due’ to follow. If investors are seeking value in a market just off all-time highs, but worried about weaker names and/or leveraged balance sheets, a stock like EA could be just what they’re looking for, with or without a near-term catalyst.
As of this writing, Vince Martin has no positions in any securities mentioned.