I thought we’d never see “Merger Monday” again, the concept. But now, the unthinkable happened, the zombie phrase has walked back into the scene. Like in the bubble days of 2007: the big numbers were there, the deal exuberance, the craziness, the hoopla.
Signs of the entire industry in a heap of trouble are everywhere. Rumors just bubbled up that Dell would axe 25% of its global sales staff – over 9,000 souls. HP is sacking 34,000. PC shipments, including laptops, have been awful for three years in a row.
Hidden in the middle of the 25-page minutes of the last meeting, under the most wooden and convoluted prose, the Fed issued a doozie of a warning: it fretted about financial stability. It named soaring forward P/E ratios, stock buybacks, margin credit, and leveraged loans.
Corporate earnings season has been a doozy before it even got started. The well-scripted song and dance, designed to pull a bag over investors’ heads, works marvelously: stalled revenues and earnings propel stocks higher. But the shenanigans are bumping into limits.
Plug Power soared 68.4% in the first two trading days this year. Not because it got a buyout offer but because it made another one of its promising announcements. The stock is up by a factor of seven since July to close at … $2.61. Down from $1,500 in March 2000.
Nothing could have been a more pungent metaphor for the current investment climate than the headline, “Macau gambling revenue hits record $45 bn in 2013.”
Apparently, it has been impossible to sell Greece any weapons at all, not even a water pistol, without bribing officials at the Defense Ministry. But it takes two to tango. And in holier-than-thou Germany, the defense industry has been all too eager to dance with Greece.
There have been three mega-crashes in my investing lifetime, and three concurrent peaks in margin debt. In April, margin debt broke the record set in 2007 and has continued to rise. Over the last three months, it has soared 10.9%. Are we there yet?
Blowback: What’s rising for US tech companies like a pile of fuming manure? The costs of working hand-in-glove with the NSA to build a seamless, borderless, indiscriminate spy dragnet. Now add an all-American cost to the pile: class-action lawsuits.
The government spy-services marketplace, part of Big Data, is juicy. Investors clamor to get in on it. Scores of startups have sprung up. The hottest one is Palantir. Its valuation jumped 50% in three months – to $9 billion! Its technologies, designed for the CIA to track terrorists, have transitioned to track you and me.