Stocks Will Open Lower, but Bulls May Regain the Ground

The S&P 500 index gained 0.08% and it closed at 4,662.85 on Friday after bouncing from the daily low of 4,614.75. The broad stock market’s gauge remained above its Jan. 10 local low of 4,582.24. It continues to trade within an over two-month long consolidation. Late December – early January consolidation along the 4,800 level was a topping pattern and the index fell to its previous trading range. This morning the market is expected to open 0.9% lower so we may see an attempt at breaking below the 4,600 level.

The nearest important resistance level is at around 4,680-4,700. On the other hand, the support level is at 4,580-4,600, marked by the recent local low. The S&P 500 is still trading within a medium-term consolidation, as we can see on the daily chart (chart by courtesy of http://stockcharts.com):

Nasdaq 100 Bounced from 16,000 Resistance Level

The technology Nasdaq 100 index remains relatively weaker than the broad stock market. On Jan. 10 it fell to the local low of 15,165.53. The Nasdaq 100 was almost 1600 points or 9.5% below the Nov. 22 record high of 16,764.85. Last week it bounced from the 16,000 level and it went closer to the local low again. It still trades along the September’s local high, as we can see on the daily chart:

Apple Extends its Consolidation

Recently, Apple stock broke below its two-month long upward trend line after reaching the new record high of $182.94. So far, it looks like a downward correction and the nearest important support level is at $165-170, marked by the previous highs and lows. The stock trades within an over month-long consolidation of around $170-180.

Is this a medium-term topping pattern? It’s getting very hard to fundamentally justify the Apple’s current market capitalization of around $3 trillion.

Conclusion

The S&P 500 index is expected to open 0.9% lower this morning following global stock markets’ weakness amid Russia-Ukraine tensions and worse-than-expected economic data releases. So the market will get close to the recent local lows and the support level of around 4,580-4,600 again. There have been no confirmed short-term positive signals so far. However, we may see another intraday rebound later in the day. The quarterly earnings releases remain a bullish factor for stocks.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • The S&P 500 will likely get back to the 4,600 level this morning; later we may see another intraday rebound.
  • In our opinion no positions are currently justified from the risk/reward point of view.

Like what you’ve read? Subscribe for our daily newsletter today, and you’ll get 7 days of FREE access to our premium daily Stock Trading Alerts as well as our other Alerts. Sign up for the free newsletter today!

Thank you.

Paul Rejczak,
Stock Trading Strategist
Sunshine Profits: Effective Investments through Diligence and Care

* * * * *

The information above represents analyses and opinions of Paul Rejczak & Sunshine Profits’ associates only. As such, it may prove wrong and be subject to change without notice. At the time of writing, we base our opinions and analyses on facts and data sourced from respective essays and their authors. Although formed on top of careful research and reputably accurate sources, Paul Rejczak and his associates cannot guarantee the reported data’s accuracy and thoroughness.

The opinions published above neither recommend nor offer any securities transaction. Mr. Rejczak is not a Registered Securities Advisor. By reading his reports you fully agree that he will not be held responsible or liable for any decisions you make regarding any information provided in these reports. Investing, trading and speculation in any financial markets may involve high risk of loss. Paul Rejczak, Sunshine Profits’ employees, affiliates as well as their family members may have a short or long position in any securities, including those mentioned in any of the reports or essays, and may make additional purchases and/or sales of those securities without notice.

 

In The Spotlight – Big Wall Street Banks as the Main Power in S&P 500

Banks’ earnings

Big Wall Street banks are in the spotlight right out of the gate with Goldman Sachs set to release results before markets open. They will be followed by Bank of America, Morgan Stanley, and U.S. Bancorp tomorrow (Wednesday). Bank results got off to a mixed start on Friday. JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, and Wells Fargo all topped profit estimates for Q4 but JPMorgan and Citi delivered disappointments in other areas.

In particular, investors are nervous about higher expenses that cut into Q4 profits for both JPMorgan and Citi and which both banks forecast would continue to weigh on results in 2022. JPMorgan and Citi also saw -11% decreases in trading revenue, with fixed income trading down by double digits for both.

There are also signs of slowing loan growth that some analysts worry is an early sign of slowing consumer demand for big-ticket items as inflation continues to climb. While banks will eventually benefit from higher U.S. interest rates that are anticipated in the year ahead, a big pullback in consumer lending is a threat to some of the more lofty Wall Street expectations had for the sector in 2022.

Global economy

Globally, not a lot changed over the extended weekend. China might have provided a bit of a surprise with additional monetary easing into a struggling GDP and sagging real estate prices. It’s worth noting, Omicron has now been detected in Beijing for the first time, just three weeks before the city is due to host the Winter Olympics. Now the Chinese are shutting down and suspending the sale of Olympic tickets to the public.

Tensions remain heated between Hong Kong activists and Chinese government officials. North Korea launched its fourth missile test this month. After North Korea’s missile test last week, the US announced sanctions on eight North Korean and Russian individuals and entities for supporting North Korea’s ballistic missile programs.

Tensions between the U.S. and Russia seem to be headed in the wrong direction with Russia over the weekend moving troops and equipment into Belarus for joint military exercises.

The so-called “Allied Resolve” drills are set to take place near borders with NATO members Poland and Lithuania, as well as Ukraine where Russia has maintained its alarming military presence.

Most U.S. military experts don’t really think Russia has any real intentions of invading Ukraine or any other EU country. However, Western countries also have increased their military presence along borders and other strategic locations which increases the chances that a broader conflict could “accidentally” be sparked.

Europe’s gas supplies are also at risk as Russia continues to dangle the threat of cutting them off. Most of the tension stems from Russia’s demand that former Soviet countries be barred from entering NATO, something the U.S. and other NATO allies have refused.

In the USA, we are heading deeper into earnings season and investors are going to be paying close attention to costs and expenses. As I mentioned, late last week, JPMorgan warned that higher expenses and higher spending on hiring in 2022 could create some headwinds.

Looking ahead, it will be interesting to see how many executive teams start providing guidance and warnings that corporate expenses are rising faster than anticipated and what if any damage will be due to profit margins?

Remember, some companies have said they are passing the additional rising costs on to the consumer while other companies are eating a majority of the higher expenses in an attempt to gain more market share.

How the stock market decides to differentiate the strategy and style could greatly impact money flow and valuations. Goldman Sachs, J.B. Hunt, Charles Schwab, Citrix, Concentrix, and Interactive Brokers report earnings today.

Data to watch

Tomorrow we have Alcoa, Bank of America, Kinder Morgan, Morgan Stanley, Procter & Gamble, and United Airlines.

Thursday we have American Airlines, Baker Hughes, Netflix, and Union Pacific.

Then next week we have big names like Apple, Boeing, Caterpillar, McDonalds, Microsoft and Verizon reporting earnings.

Let’s also not forget next week we have the first Fed FOMC meeting of the new year.

With the U.S. Federal Reserve getting ever closer to implementing its first rate hikes, which most anticipate will begin in March, investors are growing less enchanted with some of the high-growth and momentum stocks that saw outsized share price gains last year.

This trend is most evident in the tech-heavy Nasdaq where nearly half of the index’s stocks have fallen by -50% from their recent peaks. The Nasdaq itself is only down by about -7% from its most recent record high. The selloff has been very much concentrated in highly-leveraged companies that have yet to deliver a profit, as the prospect of higher rates reduce future profit potential. Earnings results from these high-fliers will likely be harshly scrutinized as Wall Street tries to separate the “wheat from the chaff,” so to speak.

On the economic data front, Empire State Manufacturing and the NAHB Housing Market are today’s highlights.

For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.

QQQ: The Downside Risks on the Nasdaq Seem Exaggerated

The performance of the Nasdaq now encompasses a higher degree of volatility as seen by the 5.5 to 9% corrections in the Invesco QQQ Trust (QQQ) which has now become the new normal in a macroeconomic environment where hawkish Fed hiking interest rates is seen as being unfavorable to high-valued and unprofitable tech stocks.

Source: Initial chart from Trading View

For investors, QQQ tracks the Nasdaq-100 Index which features Apple (APPL), Alphabet A (GOOGL), Alphabet C (GOOG), Microsoft (MSFT), NVIDIA (NVDA), Meta labs (FB), Amazon (AMZN), Tesla (TSLA), Adobe (ADBE) and PayPal (PYPL). These are the main holdings out of a total of 102.

Assessing the risks

There are certainly risks in 2022 in the context of being invested in tech equities, but, I would like to bring to the attention of investors that despite all the volatility, QQQ has gained 6%, and this shows that the market’s repositioning (amid the rotation from growth to value names) does not seem commensurate with the forthcoming pace at which interest rates will increase.

Exploring further, trades are no longer crowded as in 2021 as people look for income or other asset classes to diversify. However, this diversification away from tech seems not to have hit QQQ’s main holdings which constitute 52.73% of the portfolio. As per my observation, this has been the case from April through December this year when most of the market gains were just from AAPL, MSFT, NVDA, TSLA, and GOOGL.

Source: Ycharts.com

Given the fact that the rotation has lacked in breadth, I see the corrections in tech as a rather muted market reaction, and this also prompts me to discard fears that tech stocks will suffer in the same way as during the bursting of the Internet bubble back in 1999-2000. At that time, in the first phase of the bear market, the large-caps names were doing fine but a large percentage of Nasdaq’s other components crashed by more than 50%. Ultimately, all the components crashed.

However, that was a completely different Nasdaq with the top stocks of the time being Cisco (CSCO) followed by Microsoft then Intel (INTC), or from the networking, software and semiconductor sectors respectively. Today, it is more about social media, online advertisement, internet marketplaces, electric cars, the cloud, smartphones, and virtual reality. In short, tech is now fully integrated into all spheres of economic and social life compared to twenty-two years ago.

Considering the inflation factor

Moderating slightly, QQQ’s other holdings seem to be impacted as investors become more selective, putting more emphasis on quality (free-cash-flow, balance-sheet, economic moat, etc) and valuations. Still, here also, rising inflation, currently at above 7% compared to 3.75% in 1999-2000 could prove to be more difficult for value stocks like banks as their customers suffer from rising prices and are faced with the rising cost of doing business. For this matter, as shown in the chart below, Bank of America (BAC) and Berkshire (BRK.B) saw a more pronounced dip in their total return level in August 2008 than Apple or Microsoft when inflation was above 5%.

https://static.seekingalpha.com/uploads/2022/1/14/49663886-16421719831560977.png

Source: Ycharts.com

Industrials are also likely to suffer from soaring raw material and labor costs. As for tech, they should better withstand high inflation with their ability to make use of software, AI, and automation tools more rapidly than companies from other sectors of the economy. These tools enable them to reduce operating costs and better circumvent wage inflation. Examples are FinTechs like PayPal’s (one of QQQ’s current underperformers) ability to reduce money transfer fees for customers compared to traditional banks and companies making use of cloud-based collaboration instead of having to invest in costly infrastructure.

Tech should continue to outperform as digital transformation enablers

Furthermore, with relatively less dependency on physical interactions caused by variant-related uncertainty, tech stocks are less likely to see a reduction in profitability. Here, some will note that Apple’s revenue share from its App Store ecosystem is increasing more rapidly than for devices and Tesla is considered as an internet-of-cars company.

Historically, as shown in the chart below, big tech’s gross profit margins have either increased or remained constant during the last five years, which include 2021, a year characterized by rapidly rising inflation.

https://static.seekingalpha.com/uploads/2022/1/14/49663886-16421723117351067.png

Source: Ycharts.com

Thus, inflationary pressures grappling the economy as from 2022 is likely to put valuations on the backstage, with tech, especially the more profitable ones, likely to continue seeing positive returns. This said tech remains highly dependent on semiconductors, a sector that needs to be watched closely for some short term pain when some of the big names report earnings on the last week of January. Finally, looking at the performance of the Nasdaq in 2020 and 2021 when it gained 43.64% and 21.39% respectively, even a 10-12% gain in 2022 would put it in positive territory.

Disclosure: I am long Apple. This is an investment thesis and is intended for informational purposes. Investors are kindly requested to do additional research before investing.

The SPYX ETF is a Cheap Way to Get into ESG and Delivers a Better Performance Than the S&P 500 Too

Have you ever been stopped by a building? This building literally stopped me in my tracks as if it was trying to tell me something. It is the Oasis Hotel Downtown in Singapore with its entire 27-floor external facade wrapped in a natural vine-covered sunscreen. It also has four lush sky terraces, but these are not only for decoration purposes or demonstration of some green slogan, but serve some real purpose as they allow for good cross ventilation in a mostly hot tropical country and ultimately reduce overall energy cost.

This photograph taken on July 23, 2021 shows a view of the Oasis hotel in Singapore. - Green spaces have also been shown to improve health and...

Source: gettyimages.com

There are other green buildings around the world that have adopted principles of circularity, using recycled materials and green technologies for building design. These show us that ESG (Environmental Social and Governance) principles are not just about replacing fossil fuels with renewables or electrifying the whole fleet of internal combustion engines to electric vehicles or EVs. Neither is it just about investing massively in solar panels, whose production has often been highlighted by ecologists as being highly carbon-emitting due to the factories which produce them consuming coal.

For this matter, ESG is also about achieving better energy efficiency and cutting down on stocks that own oil reserves, instead of heavily relying on the success of solar or wind stocks at generating more revenues. For this particular purpose, there is the SPDR S&P 500 Fossil Fuel Reserves Free ETF (SPYX), one of SSGA’s thematic ESG funds.

The SPYX

The ETF tracks the S&P 500 Fossil Fuel Free Index, whose objective is to allow climate change-conscious investors to align the core of their investment strategy with their values by eliminating companies that own fossil fuel. Consequently, the main holdings which find their way in SPYX’s portfolio are the U.S. large-cap equities like the big tech names as per the table below.

Source: ssga.com

Additionally, the lists also include companies operating in the Financials, Healthcare and Consumer Discretionary, Material, and Industrial sectors. There are also REITs. Further down the list of the fund’s 489 holdings (of which just 23 are shown above), there are energy plays and utilities too, but which do not own fossil fuel or coal reserves for chemical byproducts, residential use, or pharmaceutical purposes. There is also Marathon Petroleum (MRP) which provides exposure to oil refining but has also entered into a joint venture for the production of soybean oil.

Better performance compared to the S&P 500 despite excluding oil giants

Oil giants with reserves are excluded from SPYX as the environment increasingly starts to surface during shareholders’ meetings of energy companies. At the same time, more stringent measures are continuously being applied by the U.S. authorities to tackle the climate change problem which has resulted in billions of dollars of losses in the last five years.

Now, to be realistic, policy decisions especially those related to renewables are subject to change with the different Presidential administrations and this may lead some investors to doubt the long term success of SPYX, especially given the fact that it relies on corporations’ green mandates instead of investing in building up solar capacity like the Invesco Solar Portfolio ETF (TAN) which bears an expense ratio of 0.66%.

Well, a look at the chart below shows that not only that the SPYX (in blue) has outperformed the SPDR S&P 500 ETF (SPY), with the gain in performance gradually increasing over the last five years, irrespective of what U.S. President was in charge.

Source: Trading View

Scanning the industry, there are other ETFs adopting the same strategy like the Etho Climate Leadership U.S. ETF (ETHO) which has produced roughly the same five-year gain as SPYX, but, the former charges an expense ratio of 0.4%. On the other hand, SPYX charges just 0.2% and suffers from relatively less volatility.

The rationale for SPYX instead of investing in individual names

Each of the fund’s holdings has its own way of contributing to the reduction in the use of fossil fuels with many having committed to carbon neutrality by 2050 as part of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

While for Tesla (TSLA), its electric vehicles are proving handy to replace internal combustion vehicles consuming fossil fuels, Amazon (AMZN), through its online market place helps to reduce carbon footprint by enabling people to purchase goods without having to make the move to distant stores. As for Pfizer (PFE), it has a climate action plan aimed at obtaining sustainable energy accreditation for its administrative office buildings and using renewables.

Finally, even if you are a dedicated activist ESG investor, it will take considerable time to screen the list of 2400 names on the NYSE to choose an appropriate one. In this context, SPYX composed of essentially the same stocks as in the S&P 500 index funds, except for fossil fuel reserves owing ones, constitutes a valid option unless you have already zeroed in on a particular “green” name.

Disclosure: I am long Apple. This is an investment thesis and is intended for informational purposes. Investors are kindly requested to do additional research before investing.

 

SPXU: Harnessing Volatility in The S&P 500, to Short the Market With a Three Times Inverse ETF

Fed Chairman’s Powell reassuring statement on Tuesday and inflation figures for 2021 being in line with estimates on Wednesday seem to have appeased bearish sentiments resulting in the S&P 500 rising.

However, there are many different elements that are likely to impact stocks, such as the continuation of the economic recovery, corporate earnings, inflation, supply chain concerns as well as the likelihood of the Omicron variant stressing hospital services. These should result in continued volatility episodes as seen in the S&P 500 ETF Trust ETF (SPY) which tracks the S&P 500 index.

https://static.seekingalpha.com/uploads/2022/1/12/49663886-16420000045920553.png

Source: fxempire.com

In such conditions, people are normally risk-averse, or avoid trading and prefer to wait for some relative calm before looking at stocks. This is the case for most of us, but, there is another option which is to trade the volatility using a tool like the ProShares UltraPro Short S&P500 (SPXU) which inversely tracks S&P 500 at -3 times its daily performance.

This calls for enticing gains as a 5% fall in the SPY can “theoretically” bring you 15% gains, but my own experience has taught me that just putting money in the SPXU at the first sign of a market downturn is unproductive. Instead, I use the chart below which shows the performance of the ProShares ETF from January 2020 to date. It includes the spring 2020 crash subsequent to the World Health Organization declaring Covid to be a pandemic.

Investors will notice that I have calculated the amplitude obtained by subtracting SPXU’s daily low from the daily high. Then I converted the resulting value as a percentage that more vividly represents the volatility induced in the ProShares ETF’s through its daily variations.

Here, the March (spring) 2020 crash resulted in gains of over 30% but this was achieved over a period of many weeks. The second noteworthy point is the above-10% differences which, after occurring four times from June 2020 to February 2021, ceased till November last year.

https://static.seekingalpha.com/uploads/2022/1/12/49663886-16420000046728988.png

Source: Chart built by author with data from finance.yahoo.com

Then, came the December 1 market downturn, induced mostly by tech stock aversion, as investors increasingly rotated into value names. To be realistic, this high-volatility episode may prove to be a lone occurrence, but forthcoming events should constitute catalysts for further fluctuations.

First, the earnings season is to be kicked off by banks on Friday this week, and with investors having already placed a lot of expectations on the financial sector as the main beneficiary of the economic recovery and this, thanks to rising interest rates allowing an increase in net interest margins on loans.

This expectation may suffer if megabanks like JPMorgan Chase (JPM) Citigroup (C) and Wells Fargo (WFC) fail to provide any upside surprises in their fourth-quarter earnings reports. Others like the Bank of America (BAC) and Morgan and Stanley (MS) will follow suit. Then, it will be the turn of the big techs with Microsoft (MSFT) on Jan 25 and Apple (APPL) on Jan 29, with analysts being keen to observe for any effects caused by the semiconductor supply crunch.

Second, there is the VIX (Volatility indicator) also referred to as the “index of fear” whose methodology is based on the stocks forming part of the S&P 500. Higher is the VIX, more are volatility risks, and from its high of 35, the indicator is currently at around 18. Given that this figure is far from the VIX’s above- 85 spike during the spring 2020 market crash, a major downside does not seem imminent, but a near-20 value signifies that volatility is persisting.

This signifies that we are in an environment conducive for gains through the SPXU.

Pursing on a cautionary note, I deliberately used the word theoretically above when mentioning possible gains with the SPXU. In this case, a 5% loss in the SPY will not convert into a 15% gain in the SPXU as some percentage points will be lost due to the compounding effect which is a specific feature of highly leveraged ETFs. The net gain will ultimately depend on the degree of fluctuations (volatility) during the trading period. This discrepancy is evident in the one-week performance chart below where a -1.39% loss of the SPY has not translated into a 4.17% (1.39 x 3) gain in the SPXU, but only a 4.15% gain.

https://static.seekingalpha.com/uploads/2022/1/12/49663886-164200000530492.png

Source: Trading View

Considering the long term, due to the leverage, the ProShares fund has delivered a 55% loss and thus, a buy-and-hold strategy is to be avoided, and it is preferable to use this market shorting tool for the least amount of time possible, preferably one day as per the prospectus. This said I have held it for up to five days after gaining some experience selling it at a loss due to the unpredictability of the market. Looking at portfolio protection, some investors also use the SPXU as a hedging tool to gain from a falling S&P 500. Thus, by hedging, these investors hold on to their stocks instead of passively selling them and taking profit in the expectation of an elusive market crash.

Finally, my advice is to wait for the VIX to go above 20 before placing your bet, and this should happen this week or the next. Also, patience, rigorous monitoring and being prepared to exit with a loss are key ingredients for shorting the market.

Disclosure: I/We are long Apple. This is an investment thesis and is intended for informational purposes. Investors are kindly requested to do additional research before investing.

S&P 500: Bulls Are Coming Back?

The S&P 500 index gained 0.92% yesterday, as it got back above the 4,700 level. The broad stock market’s gauge extended its advance following Monday’s upward reversal from the local low of 4,582.24. It was a dip-buying opportunity, however the short-term advance still looks like an upward correction within a new downtrend. The broad stock market continues to trade within an over two-month long consolidation. Late December – early January consolidation along the 4,800 level was a topping pattern and the index fell to its previous trading range.

On Dec. 3 the index fell to the local low of 4,495.12 and it was 5.24% below the previous record high. So it was a pretty mild downward correction or just a consolidation following last year’s advances.

The nearest important resistance level is at 4,700-4,720 and the next resistance level is at around 4,750. On the other hand, the support level is at 4,650. And the important support level is now at 4,580-4,600, marked by Monday’s daily low. The S&P 500 is close to its November-December local highs again, as we can see on the daily chart (chart by courtesy of http://stockcharts.com):

Apple Bounced From the $170 Price Level

Last week, Apple stock broke below its two-month long upward trend line after reaching the new record high of $182.94 on Tuesday. So far, it looks like a downward correction and the nearest important support level is at $165-170, marked by the previous highs and lows. The stock trades within an over month-long consolidation of around $170-180.

Is this a medium-term topping pattern? It’s getting very hard to fundamentally justify the Apple’s current market capitalization of around $3 trillion.

Conclusion

The S&P 500 index is expected to open 0.4% higher this morning following the Consumer Price Index release which was slightly higher than expected at +0.5% m/m. So the broad stock market will retrace more of the recent declines. However, we may see a profit taking action later in the day.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • The S&P 500 extended its short-term uptrend yesterday. It may be still a correction within a downtrend or some further consolidation along the 4,700 level.
  • In our opinion no positions are currently justified from the risk/reward point of view.

Like what you’ve read? Subscribe for our daily newsletter today, and you’ll get 7 days of FREE access to our premium daily Stock Trading Alerts as well as our other Alerts. Sign up for the free newsletter today!

Thank you.

Paul Rejczak,
Stock Trading Strategist
Sunshine Profits: Effective Investments through Diligence and Care

* * * * *

The information above represents analyses and opinions of Paul Rejczak & Sunshine Profits’ associates only. As such, it may prove wrong and be subject to change without notice. At the time of writing, we base our opinions and analyses on facts and data sourced from respective essays and their authors. Although formed on top of careful research and reputably accurate sources, Paul Rejczak and his associates cannot guarantee the reported data’s accuracy and thoroughness. The opinions published above neither recommend nor offer any securities transaction. Mr. Rejczak is not a Registered Securities Advisor.

By reading his reports you fully agree that he will not be held responsible or liable for any decisions you make regarding any information provided in these reports. Investing, trading and speculation in any financial markets may involve high risk of loss. Paul Rejczak, Sunshine Profits’ employees, affiliates as well as their family members may have a short or long position in any securities, including those mentioned in any of the reports or essays, and may make additional purchases and/or sales of those securities without notice.

For High-Growth Tech Lovers, the Trend Indicates That it is Time to Consider Value-Oriented ETFs

Also, subtracting 2% due to “positive sentiment” induced by the Santa Claus rally, it can be inferred that the index actually fell by more than 8%. At the same time, a look at the S&P 500 (in orange) which holds more than 28% of technology assets exhibits a more neutral position, while the Dow Jones Industrial average (in blue), up by 1.52% indicates that the more cyclical names are being prioritized by investors, as potential beneficiaries of the economic recovery.

https://static.seekingalpha.com/uploads/2022/1/9/49663886-16417501192287376.png

Source: Trading View

Going further in the past, the weakness in tech started from the second quarter of 2021 when it became evident that the Fed was adopting a more hawkish tone and bond yields were on the rise. However, the adverse market conditions for technology were masked by the gains from these six most popular stocks, namely, Tesla (TSLA), Apple (AAPL), Microsoft (MSFT), NVIDIA (NVDA), Meta Labs (FB), and Google (GOOGL). Now, with the Nasdaq bearing a P/E ratio of 28, tech valuations remain high compared to the broader market, and the weakness in richly-valued high-growth names in the technology sector should continue, perhaps in the same way as during the Internet bubble of 1999-2000.

Growth to value rotation

Now, moving away from high-growth tech names to lower-valued cyclical names reminds us that the “rotation from growth to value”, which some analysts were invoking in 2021, has gained momentum. For investors, rapidly growing tech stocks with their high R&D and sales expenses primarily focus on growth while value names are more conservative in spending and lay more emphasis on profitability.

To further verify whether the growth to value shift is really happening, I make a comparison between growth and value ETFs as per the chart below. In this case, the iShares Edge MSCI USA Value Factor ETF (VLUE) and the Vanguard Value ETF (VTV) are both up by 5.6% and 3.9% respectively, while the Schwab U.S. Large-Cap Growth ETF (SCHG) and the Technology Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLK) are down by more than 3% each. This one-month performance confirms that value is up, while growth/technology is down.

https://static.seekingalpha.com/uploads/2022/1/9/49663886-16417501193779671.png

Source: Trading View

Looking ahead, in view of the uncertainty associated with Covid variants, supply chain issues, and inflationary concerns in the first half of 2022, there is no guarantee that the current trend favoring value will continue, but, at the same time, we cannot remain insensible to the new market regime. Moreover, for those who have been used to investing in growth made relatively easy due to the momentum induced by the mighty Nasdaq, it may prove difficult to screen the market for high-quality value stocks with appropriate free-cash-flow, balance-sheet, and valuations metrics.

The value-oriented ETF rationale

Hence, it is precisely for these tech investors that investing in value-oriented ETFs where the fund managers select the best stocks, makes sense.

In this respect, VTV with an expense ratio of 0.04% and paying dividends at a yield of 2.15% holds mostly Financials (22%), Healthcare (18.5%), and Industrials (14%) stocks as part of total assets. Finally, for tech lovers, better performing VLUE, with 30.85% of IT exposure, and paying a 2.41% dividend yield at an expense ratio of 0.15% is a better choice.

Disclosure: I am long XLK.

 

S&P 500: Consolidation and a Mild Reaction to the Jobs Data

The S&P 500 index lost 0.1% on Thursday, Jan. 6, as it fluctuated following the Wednesday’s sell-off of almost 2%. The market reached new local low at 4,671.26 before bouncing back closer to the 4,700 level. So it traded almost 150 points below the Tuesday’s record high of 4,818.62. The recent consolidation along the 4,800 level was a topping pattern. And the market got back to its November-December trading range.

On Dec. 3 the index fell to the local low of 4,495.12 and it was 5.24% below the previous record high. So it was a pretty mild downward correction or just a consolidation following last year’s advances.

The nearest important resistance level is now at 4,700-4,720, and the next resistance level remains at around 4,750. On the other hand, the support level is now at 4,650, marked by some previous local highs. The S&P 500 remains close to the November’s-December’s consolidation local highs, as we can see on the daily chart (chart by courtesy of http://stockcharts.com):

Apple Price Broke Below the Trend Line

Apple stock broke below its two-month long upward trend line on Wednesday after reaching the new record high of $182.94 on Tuesday. So far, it looks like a downward correction and the nearest important support level is at $165-170, marked by the previous highs and lows.

Is this a medium-term topping pattern? It’s getting very hard to fundamentally justify the Apple’s current market capitalization of around $3 trillion.

Conclusion

The S&P 500 index is expected to open 0.2% lower today. So the volatility is on the light side after the mixed monthly jobs data release from this morning. We may see some more short-term fluctuations and possibly an intraday upward correction.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • The S&P 500 fluctuated following its Wednesday’s sell-off.
  • Jobs data release was mixed and rather neutral for the markets.
  • In our opinion no positions are currently justified from the risk/reward point of view.

Like what you’ve read? Subscribe for our daily newsletter today, and you’ll get 7 days of FREE access to our premium daily Stock Trading Alerts as well as our other Alerts. Sign up for the free newsletter today!

Thank you.

Paul Rejczak,
Stock Trading Strategist
Sunshine Profits: Effective Investments through Diligence and Care

* * * * *

The information above represents analyses and opinions of Paul Rejczak & Sunshine Profits’ associates only. As such, it may prove wrong and be subject to change without notice. At the time of writing, we base our opinions and analyses on facts and data sourced from respective essays and their authors. Although formed on top of careful research and reputably accurate sources, Paul Rejczak and his associates cannot guarantee the reported data’s accuracy and thoroughness. The opinions published above neither recommend nor offer any securities transaction. Mr. Rejczak is not a Registered Securities Advisor. By reading his reports you fully agree that he will not be held responsible or liable for any decisions you make regarding any information provided in these reports. Investing, trading and speculation in any financial markets may involve high risk of loss. Paul Rejczak, Sunshine Profits’ employees, affiliates as well as their family members may have a short or long position in any securities, including those mentioned in any of the reports or essays, and may make additional purchases and/or sales of those securities without notice.

 

S&P 500 In an Uncharted Territory, But Is Sky the Limit?

The broad stock market index gained 0.64% on Monday, Jan. 3, as it retraced most of the recent decline from last Thursday’s record high of 4,808.93. Yesterday the index fell to the local low of 4,758.17, before advancing almost 40 points. The S&P 500 index remains way above the local highs from November and December. Stocks broke above the consolidation and we had a quick Santa Claus rally. The broad stock market’s gauge continues to trade within a short-term consolidation. For now, it looks like a relatively flat correction within an uptrend.

On Dec. 3 the index fell to the local low of 4,495.12 and it was 5.24% below the previous record high. So it was a pretty mild downward correction or just a consolidation following last year’s advances.

The nearest important resistance level remains at around 4,800-4,810. On the other hand, the support level is at 4,740-4,750, marked by the previous highs. Recently the S&P 500 broke above its two-month long consolidation, as we can see on the daily chart (chart by courtesy of http://stockcharts.com):

Apple’s Market Cap Tops $3 Trillion

Apple stock reached the new record high of $182.88 yesterday, as it broke slightly above the Dec. 13 high of $182.13. The stock remains above its two-month long upward trend line. There have been no confirmed negative signals so far, however, the market may be trading within a medium-term topping pattern. It’s getting very hard to fundamentally justify the Apple’s current market capitalization of around $3 trillion.

Conclusion

The S&P 500 index is expected to open 0.3% higher this morning, but we may see some short-term uncertainty and a further consolidation along the 4,800 level. There have been no confirmed negative signals so far.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • The S&P 500 will likely extend its short-term consolidation along the 4,800 level.
  • In our opinion no positions are currently justified from the risk/reward point of view.

Like what you’ve read? Subscribe for our daily newsletter today, and you’ll get 7 days of FREE access to our premium daily Stock Trading Alerts as well as our other Alerts. Sign up for the free newsletter today!

Thank you.

Paul Rejczak,
Stock Trading Strategist
Sunshine Profits: Effective Investments through Diligence and Care

* * * * *

The information above represents analyses and opinions of Paul Rejczak & Sunshine Profits’ associates only. As such, it may prove wrong and be subject to change without notice. At the time of writing, we base our opinions and analyses on facts and data sourced from respective essays and their authors. Although formed on top of careful research and reputably accurate sources, Paul Rejczak and his associates cannot guarantee the reported data’s accuracy and thoroughness. The opinions published above neither recommend nor offer any securities transaction. Mr. Rejczak is not a Registered Securities Advisor. By reading his reports you fully agree that he will not be held responsible or liable for any decisions you make regarding any information provided in these reports. Investing, trading and speculation in any financial markets may involve high risk of loss. Paul Rejczak, Sunshine Profits’ employees, affiliates as well as their family members may have a short or long position in any securities, including those mentioned in any of the reports or essays, and may make additional purchases and/or sales of those securities without notice.

 

Sector Themes In Play In The Markets For 2022

Years like 2021 saw a solid broad-based performance in many stock market sectors. Relatively simple approaches such as Indexing and Sector Rotation did well. But with macro changes in play and many uncertainties for 2022, we may very well see broad indexes underperforming while individual sectors dominated by a few stocks really shine.

Dips will continue to be bought unless something significant changes. But let’s not forget that we’re long overdue for a substantial correction. Significant risk catalysts are:

  • Fed actions.
  • International conflicts (i.e., Russia and China).
  • Pandemic developments that are not currently known.

There’s always the risk of the unknown – the literal definition of a “Black Swan” event. We shouldn’t get too complacent, knowing that we may need to get defensive to protect capital suddenly. When it’s time to be defensive, let’s not forget that CASH IS A POSITION!

Sector theme DRIVERS FOR 2022

Many uncertainties about Covid and the lingering effects on the economy remain. Inflation has roared back to 30-year highs. Strong employment numbers and consumer spending are fueling significant growth in corporate earnings. We also have a shift in bias at the Fed on interest rates and quantitative easing. These are the “knowns” and are theoretically priced in.

For these reasons and more, we should expect more of a “Stockpicker’s Market” in 2022. Certain sectors will do well and weather corrections better than the broader markets.

Even short-term traders can gain an edge by paying attention to what sectors are strongest. Traders tend to benefit most from playing the strongest stocks in the strongest sectors for bullish trades and choosing the weakest stocks in weaker sectors for bearish trades. That “tailwind” can make a significant difference in results.

Let’s look at some sector themes and individual names to keep an eye on in 2022.

ECONOMIC NORMALIZATION

A long-anticipated return to a “normal” economy will continue to be a theme — we just don’t know if that will be Post-Covid or Co-Covid. Or when. Air travel, theme parks, hotels, cruise lines, etc., have all suffered in the persistent Pandemic. What does seem to be changing is the idea of a “new normal” where virus variants may be with us for years to come. We will adjust socially and economically to that for the foreseeable future. DAL, UAL, LUV, AAL are airlines to watch, and the JETS ETF may be a good way to play a general recovery in this sector.

5G INTERNET

The much-hyped rollout of 5G network technology had its share of setbacks and technology disappointments. But 2022 should see the 5G deployment start to take off as technical issues are worked out, and the promise of widespread coverage with transformational performance becomes real. In the background supplying the 5G infrastructure are AMD, QCOM, ADI, MRVL, AMT, XLNX, and KEYS. Along with infrastructure and testing companies, shares of major carriers T, TMUS, and VZ languished for much of the second half of 2021 and looked poised for recovery in the coming year.

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

In all its various forms (including autonomous vehicles), AI will remain a developing trend. Big players in the space to watch include MSFT, AMAT, GOOGL, NVDA, AAPL, and QCOM.

EVs and AUTONOMOUS VEHICLES

Electric Vehicles (EVs) are nearing an inflection point where widespread adoption is poised to take off. Technology and cost competitiveness has improved where some EVs will reach price parity with their traditional internal combustion counterparts.

While there are many smaller players in the EV space, automotive stalwarts F, GM, and TM are investing very heavily. TSLA has been grabbing the headlines, but many others want to stake out their territory in the space, including whole tiers of manufacturers and infrastructure enablers like WKHS, XPEV, NKLA, and CHPT.

MATERIALS and MINING

Gold, silver, and related miners underperformed for much of 2021 and now look poised for a recovery year as inflation, and monetary concerns grow. GLD, SLV, GDX, GDXJ, SIL, SILJ look good as both longer and mid-term plays. Metals and miners may get hit initially with a significant downturn in stocks but could ultimately demonstrate their safe-haven potential.

Specific to the growth in EVs, battery technology, etc., copper, lithium, and related basic materials should see stronger demand ahead. FCX looks particularly interesting as a dual play on gold and copper. LIT may be a good ETF play on lithium battery technology.

SEMICONDUCTORS

The market for chips is primed for exponential growth. EV’s have about ten times the number of specialty semiconductors as conventional vehicles. AI, crypto, 5G, mobile devices, and ubiquitous computing should drive growth in the semiconductor sector for some time to come.

REAL ESTATE

Real Estate and Homebuilders should continue to do well while employment numbers remain strong and if interest rates don’t rise too quickly. The inventory shortage in most real estate markets will likely persist well into the new year.

Storage REITs like PSA, LSI, and CUBE have been big winners in the Covid economy and still have room to run.

SUMMARY

Many sectors still look bullish after gains in 2021. But there are “storm clouds” on the horizon, and we must not take future performance for granted.

Lastly, one of the simplest ways to assess how sectors are measuring up is to watch the charts for the S&P SPDR series sector ETFs and a few others. Here are some notable ones to watch:

https://www.thetechnicaltraders.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Dec-31-article.png

These can give us a good starting place to look for leading stocks in winning sectors as the year unfolds.

Let’s remain vigilant for possible market corrections and may the wind be at our backs!

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MANAMA Stocks Should Continue to Empower SPY, VOO and QQQ till 2024 and Beyond

These are Microsoft (MSFT), Apple (AAPL), NVDIA (NVDA), Amazon (AMZN), Meta Platforms (FB) and Alphabet (GOOG) which I have aggregated under the acronym of MANAMA. Three of the ETFs which own them are the SPDR S&P 500 Trust ETF (SPY), Invesco QQQ ETF (QQQ) and the Vanguard S&P 500 ETF (VOO).

https://static.seekingalpha.com/uploads/2021/12/30/49663886-16408833269688747.png

Source: Prepared by author

The funds hold these mega-cap tech stocks as part of their top holdings, with the exact percentage held out of total assets held varying and depending on the objectives of the individual fund managers. Looking at the last one-year period, the three have delivered performances of above 28%, with the SPY and VOO gaining 28.54% and 28.59% respectively, slightly outperforming QQQ at 28.31%. Now, the fact that SPY and VOO, despite holding companies in the non-tech sector like pharmaceuticals and financials have managed to deliver such gains normally associated with QQQ would tend to show that in addition to their individual portfolio specifications, they have also benefited from the “MANAMA factor”.

https://static.seekingalpha.com/uploads/2021/12/30/49663886-16408833273404047.png

Source: Trading View

For this matter, both SPY and VOO are passive ETFs with expense ratios of just 0.09% and 0.03% respectively, far below the tech-heavy QQQ’s 0.20%.

The case for technology

One certainty is that tech has been growing since man invented fire and tools, and will continue to grow as long as he inhabits the earth. Starting with Microsoft, its current CEO Satya Nadella has successfully transformed his company from a traditional software company to one whose revenues are based on the cloud, and this, despite embracing the SaaS (software as a service) model after Amazon. The latter, known primarily for its online marketplace, continues to grow at a frantic pace. After having been the first to market the commoditized cloud services since 2006, Jeff Bezos’ company now aims to provide private 5G services with its usual “as-a-service” approach as well as launch its own constellation of communications satellites.

Now, the market size for 5G and related services should grow from $53 billion in 2020 to $249 billion by 2026, whereas for cloud computing, it should reach  947 billion from 445 billion in 2021. This rapidly expanding market should also benefit Google, with its AI focus.

As for Facebook, its name change into Meta Labs marks a shift in its CEO’s vision of the future, namely from a social networking company to one which is increasingly oriented towards virtual reality. Also, knowing Mark Zuckerberg failed attempt to launch a cryptocurrency sometime back, it is highly probable that FB will most likely acquire one of these blockchain-powered metaverse projects like Sandbox or Decentraland where goods ranging from virtual land to digital art are being exchanged for millions of dollars.

As for Apple, with its smartphone and forthcoming augmented reality devices, it should play a key role in the transition from the metaverse to the physical world and vice versa.

Metaverse demand and huge addressable markets

Now, in order to build smartphones, 5G equipment, electric cars, or cloud, you need powerful chips, produced by the likes of NVIDIA. The company through its GPU-based processors has a niche position among gamers as well as Bitcoin miners. This is a company that has been very innovative in the type of chips it produces and is expected to benefit significantly from metaverse demands as evidenced by its share price surging higher as shown in green (in the chart below), with the start of the surge coinciding with Facebook’s change of name.

https://static.seekingalpha.com/uploads/2021/12/30/49663886-16408833275020514.png

Source: Trading View

In this respect, the global metaverse revenue opportunity could approach $800 billion in 2024 compared to about $500 billion in 2020, out of which $400 billion would be made of online games and the rest by opportunities in live entertainment and social media. Interestingly, one company which should benefit as people’s purchasing habits evolve into more “experiential events” is Amazon, which only saw only a 3.79% appreciation this year.

Valuations and key takeaways

Consequently, with addressable markets in their areas of operations expanding rapidly and big techs having the cash to make acquisitions to power on with growth, I see share prices continuing to rise well into 2024. As for valuations, I foresee a 25% upside for SPY, VOO, and QQQ by the end of next year, based on the forecast of analysts at Wedbush Securities, according to whom the NASDAQ will reach 19,000 by the end of 2022, on grounds that mega-caps benefiting from continued tech spending as there is more focus on digital platforms, both for work and entertainment purposes.

Finally, the first part of 2022 should be volatile for stocks in general due to inflationary pressures and this is likely to impact valuations, but I am positive on tech generally, more specifically on MANAMA’s stocks as they take on the task of converging our physical and virtual worlds through an evolution as to the way we interact socially, purchase goods, work and entertain ourselves.

 

ProShares to Launch New Metaverse ETF Tracking Industry Heavyweights Meta, Apple, and Nvidia

ProShares, an investment firm renowned for launching the Bitcoin Futures ETF in the U.S., has now set its sights on the fast-evolving Metaverse universe.

In a December 28 filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), ProShares declared its intention to launch a new metaverse-focused ETF. Dubbed the ‘ProShares Metaverse Theme ETF,’ the product will focus on tracking the Solactive Metaverse Theme Index (SOMETAV).

The index reflects the performance of multiple public companies offering metaverse-related products and services. It features some top-weighted stocks such as Apple, Meta, and Nvidia.

SOMETAV also tracks the performance of companies operating in online gaming, the creative economy, and the manufacture of metaverse-related devices such as V.R. headsets.

The ETF prospectus from ProShares highlights the growing popularity of the metaverse, an online virtual world that has become a key buzzword in recent months.

Big Companies Are Jumping on the Metaverse Train

The rapidly evolving metaverse trend has attracted some big names over the past few months. In October, social media giant Facebook rebranded to Meta, citing its ambition to create a virtual environment offering gaming and NFT trading features.

More recently, several prominent asset managers have decided to capitalize on the booming metaverse sector, which analysts from Reports and Data estimate could hit $872 billion in 2028.  Last month, metaverse appetite hit new heights as two Canadian firms launched two ETF products based on the emerging virtual world on the same day.

Meanwhile, the Roundhill Ball Metaverse has enjoyed tremendous success with the launch of its ETF, drawing in a staggering $916M from investors since June. Proshares now looks set to become the latest entity to join the metaverse sector, assuming financial regulators green light their ETF filing.

Metaverse: The Next Big Tech Platform

Per a recent Bloomberg report, the metaverse industry has reached $2.2 billion in a few months and is estimated to become an $800B industry. Some analysts view the metaverse as the next big tech platform that could propel the crypto industry to new heights.

The metaverse creates an online 3-D virtual environment that merges virtual, augmented, and physical realities into one immersive platform. The emerging world promises to transform virtual social experiences, e-commerce, gaming, NFT trading, and much more.

One expert points to recent developments in the metaverse universe as a sign that the sector is well primed to evolve and grow. Todd Rosenbluth, the director of ETF research at CFRA, told Bloomberg:

“I don’t know if the Metaverse theme has legs, but investors believe in it. Given the success of the ETF META, we are likely to see more products come to market that offer a unique twist on this long-term theme.”

S&P 500: Will Rally Continue?

The broad stock market index lost 0.10% on Tuesday, Dec. 28, as it fluctuated following the recent record-breaking rally. The broad stock market is now way above its local highs from November and December. Stocks broke above the consolidation and we had a Santa Claus rally. The new record high is at 4,807.02. Now we may see a consolidation or a downward correction. The S&P 500 index is expected to open 0.1% lower this morning.

On Dec. 3 the index fell to the local low of 4,495.12 and it was 5.24% below the previous record high. So it was a pretty mild downward correction or just a consolidation following this year’s advances.

The nearest important resistance level remains at around 4,800. On the other hand, the support level is now at 4,740-4,750, marked by the previous highs. The S&P 500 broke above its two-month long consolidation, as we can see on the daily chart (chart by courtesy of http://stockcharts.com):

Nasdaq 100 Remains Below the November High

Let’s take a look at the Nasdaq 100 chart. The technology index is relatively weaker than the broad stock market’s gauge as it is still trading below the Nov. 22 record high of 16,764.85. The recent rally in stocks was driven by a handful of stocks and the technology stocks were just retracing their recent declines. However, the Nasdaq 100 broke above the resistance level of 16,400.

Apple’s Market Cap Gets Close to $3 Trillion Again

Apple stock got back close to its Dec. 13 record high of $182.13. The nearest important resistance level is at $180-182. The stock remains above its two-month long upward trend line. There have been no confirmed negative signals so far, however, the market may be trading within a medium-term topping pattern. It’s getting very hard to fundamentally justify the Apple’s current market capitalization of around $3 trillion.

Conclusion

The S&P 500 index will most likely fluctuate following the recent record-breaking rally. We may see some profit trading action and a consolidation along the 4,800 level. There have been no confirmed negative signals so far. However, there are some short-term overbought conditions.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • The S&P 500 will likely fluctuate following the recent rally. We may see a consolidation or a downward correction at some point.
  • In our opinion no positions are currently justified from the risk/reward point of view.

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Thank you.

For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.

Paul Rejczak,
Stock Trading Strategist
Sunshine Profits: Effective Investments through Diligence and Care

* * * * *

The information above represents analyses and opinions of Paul Rejczak & Sunshine Profits’ associates only. As such, it may prove wrong and be subject to change without notice. At the time of writing, we base our opinions and analyses on facts and data sourced from respective essays and their authors. Although formed on top of careful research and reputably accurate sources, Paul Rejczak and his associates cannot guarantee the reported data’s accuracy and thoroughness. The opinions published above neither recommend nor offer any securities transaction. Mr. Rejczak is not a Registered Securities Advisor. By reading his reports you fully agree that he will not be held responsible or liable for any decisions you make regarding any information provided in these reports. Investing, trading and speculation in any financial markets may involve high risk of loss. Paul Rejczak, Sunshine Profits’ employees, affiliates as well as their family members may have a short or long position in any securities, including those mentioned in any of the reports or essays, and may make additional purchases and/or sales of those securities without notice.

 

Invest Into Apple (AAPL) With Over 50% Upside Based On Point & Figures Chart

In order to predict the upside of Apple, it is essential to conduct the Wyckoff method for phase analysis to judge if the price structure is ready to enter into the markup phase. Else, one could be buying in the trading range and get trapped for months if not years. Next, Point and Figures (P&F) chart will be adopted for price target projection in Apple.

Wyckoff Method – Phase Analysis

Since the swing low formed in March 2020, Apple had an impressive rally and ended with a parabolic run up with a buying climax (BC) on September 2020 followed by a change of character or an automatic reaction (AR), which defined an up-sloping trading range subsequently. Refer to the chart below:

The uptrend of Apple since last year March has been stopped by the change of character down wave. It has been consolidating within the up-sloping range until the breakout on November 2021, which is part of the sign of strength (SOS) rally.

The sign of strength rally is the final test before the markup phase. In mid of December 2021, a pullback with increasing volume as a backup action (BU) could potentially stop the SOS rally for now and into a trading range between 168-182. The increasing of volume suggested presence of supply and is likely required to be tested.

It is essential for the SOS rally to be successful without failing back below the range. Should Apple commit above 160-167 while the backup action is unfolding, the bullish structure is intact.

There are a lot of nuances in interpreting the supply and demand from the volume together with the price action. Feel free to watch the YouTube video find out how to use price volume analysis on the top 10 stocks of S&P 500.

Apart from using the Wyckoff methods to analyze stocks, monitoring the market insights such as the market breadth is a must in order to understand the overall health of the stock market as a top-down approach.

Click here to visit TradePrecise.com to get additional market insights in email for free.

After using the Wyckoff methods in terms of the phase analysis and the price volume analysis, we know that Apple’s accumulation structure is near completion. Now is the time to use Point and Figure chart for price target projection.

Apple (AAPL) Price Prediction with Point and Figures Chart

The Point and Figure chart is a powerful tool for price target projection, which it measures if there is enough “fuel in the tank” for the stock price to rally up, based on the Wyckoff’s law – Cause and Effect.

The causes built within the accumulation structure is to be reflected in the price as the effects, which can be illustrated in the Apple’s Point and Figure chart below:

The accumulation structure is divided into 4 segments where we can use each segment to project different price target for Apple. The first target of 159 has been hit, followed by 192 and 216. A maximum target of 282 can be projected based on an aggressive count.

For the Point and Figures price target projection to remain valid, price monitoring for Apple is still required for example, AAPL needs to commit above 160 for the accumulation structure to stay intact.

Should the bullish structure for Apple retain, there is still 57% upside ahead based on the maximum price target of 282.

Antitrust Battle Against GAFAM

Powerful big technology companies such as Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft have significant market share and influence on the economy. The five biggest tech companies make up 22.9% of the S&P 500. In recent years, the dominance of big tech stocks has resulted in large gains to shareholders. Considering the antitrust battle that began to take hold in July 2020, along with the projected rise in interest rates, share trading may be on the decline. The antitrust topic’s central question is to what extent do these companies wield too much power and hone monopolistic practices in the marketplace?

Big tech companies tend to control all modern technology components, which keeps other firms out of the marketplace. These anti-competitive practices manifest themself in social media, e-commerce, internet search, cloud services, and app stores. Antitrust laws provide an equal playing field for businesses that operate in a similar industry while limiting the power of big companies over their competition.

Core U.S. antitrust law was created by three pieces of legislation: the Sherman Anti-Trust Act of 1890, the Federal Trade Commission Act, and the Clayton Antitrust Act. The tech sector is now seeing the greatest antitrust test since 1998, and it is unclear how stock trading will respond to it.

Europe vs GAFAM: How the Battle Against Big Tech Unfolded So Far

Alt Text: The digital giants are regularly criticised for dominating the market by elbowing out rivals

https://gadgets.ndtv.com/internet/features/google-apple-facebook-amazon-microsoft-big-tech-curb-battle-europe-hearing-antitrust-2605654

Google and App Monetization

Alphabet, Google’s parent (GOOG), faces three pending lawsuits. The most recent one might make it harder for it to monetize some of its apps. However, antitrust legislation is unlikely to hurt the company and improve stock trading. Alphabet’s primary business is Google, which accounts for nearly all the company’s revenue. Therefore, Alphabet could unlock revenue from its non-Google businesses if antitrust pressure increases. Alphabet could also split its businesses and give stockholders shares of new companies.

Amazon and E-commerce

Amazon (AMZN) has attracted significant regulatory investigations since 2020. As recently as in September 2021, Washington, D.C., expanded its antitrust lawsuit against Amazon to challenge the online retailer’s agreements with wholesalers, or first-party sellers, in addition to third-party sellers. Amazon could potentially be broken down into smaller businesses. These might include online retail, cloud services (Amazon Web Services), transport (Flex and trucking), and media (Prime Video and MGM).

Despite this, it has been argued that Amazon will continue to trade higher. If Amazon split and the smaller companies became dividend-paying stocks, then investors would still be attracted to it and benefit more than if Amazon remained as one company.

Facebook and Social Media

Meta Platforms, formerly known as Facebook (FB), was sued in 2020 for buying up competitors Instagram and Whatsapp. It was argued that Facebook had a “personal social networking” monopoly. However, recently, a federal judge shut down the antitrust case against Facebook, who said there is no universally agreed-upon definition of personal social networking service. The result was a devastating blow to antitrust enforcement. It caused the Facebook stock to jump and its market share to exceed $1 trillion.

Apple and Vertical Integration

Apple (AAPL) currently maintains vertical integration over its technology. For instance, Apple controls the iPhone itself, the operating system, and the app store. It is even considered a “warm and fuzzy monopolist” since it does not have the same negative perception as the rest of big tech. Apple has blocked out competition from entering the market. Consumers see that Apple’s exclusive control is a threat to the economy as other business investment is pushed out. This might be harmful to share trading.

Apple still faces antitrust action in the coming years, which could impact the company’s share trading. Namely, several countries have already proposed laws targeting App Store practices or are investigating potential violations of their competition rules. These include but are not limited to the European Union, the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, Japan, South Korea, and Australia. While these actions can make Apple pay fines, it will likely not cause Apple to overhaul its practices. On December 8th, Apple won its appeal to delay implementing the court order that would allow apps to link out to other payment methods. There is a lot to be done to force big tech companies like Apple to change.

Microsoft

Despite being the world’s dominant operating system and second in cloud market share behind Amazon, unlike the rest of big tech, Microsoft (MSFT) has not engaged in antitrust practices. Therefore, the legislation has not impacted share trading, and the stock has continued to perform well.

The Bottom Line

Despite widespread and global anti-regulation enforcement efforts, there is still a long way to go to reign in the power of big tech companies. These companies are dealing with pending lawsuits and will continue to face lawsuits in the coming years. These companies will likely find a way to continue to be the most potent companies even if they lose cases. They will still find ways to be profitable and incentivize stock traders to invest in their company.

 

META: Specifically for Metaverse Exposure but Not Yet Convincing

After Mark Zuckerberg renamed Facebook to Meta Platforms (FB), the metaverse has suddenly become a hot topic with search interest on Google Trends peaking at a value of 100, signifying immense popularity. However, there is currently no universally accepted definition of the metaverse apart from some key words like “virtual reality”, or “advanced Internet”. Learning from Blockchain’s world where there are already metaverse projects like Sandbox where land can be exchanged against payments of millions of dollars, it could be defined as a virtual universe with a functional economy.

Of course, this definition is not straightforward and to be frank, no one knows exactly what shape the metaverse will take. But, for investors willing to invest hard-earned money in ETFs like the Roundhill Ball Metaverse ETF (META), it is important to understand which sectors are most likely to benefit. Some use cases are already being proposed such as attending a virtual concert, taking an online trip or creating digital art in the form of blockchain-powered NFTs or Nun Fungible Tokens.

Now, these applications will require a lot of computing power due to increased utilization of artificial intelligence and augmented reality (“AR”). At the same time, for communication purposes, there will be requirement for next generation Wi-Fi and 5G. Roundhill Investments does list some sectors like Compute, Networking, Virtual platforms, Interchange standards, etc from where they choose companies to be included in their fund, but for illustration purposes, I provide a chart which I recently used it in an article on VanEck Semiconductor ETF (SMH).

Description: https://responsive.fxempire.com/v7/_fxempire_/2021/12/word-image-274.png?func=cover&q=70&width=436

Source: Chart prepared by author using data from IEEE Spectrum and augmented to highlight metaverse demand

This chart basically shows semiconductor revenues per sector (with most coming from computing at 34.5%), but, since I have highlighted the technologies needed to build the metaverse, I use it to explore how META’s holdings fit the “meta” investment rationale.

The META rationale

First, META tracks the Ball Metaverse Index, the first index designed to track the performance of the metaverse.

Second, the ETF’s main holding is NVDIA (NVDA) at 8.34% of total assets, also happens to constitute a significant chunk of SMH’s basket. Now, as a designer of graphics processing units for the gaming and Bitcoin markets, this chip play whose products are vital for computing should be one of the main beneficiaries as a building block for everyone’s “virtual space”. Additionally, NVDIA is a system-on-a-chip unit’s provider for the mobile computing and the automotive industry.

Third, there is FB itself, and with more than 2.9 billion users as at the third quarter of 2021, and its success as a highly addictive social networking brand, there is no doubt that it will profoundly change our lives by rendering more virtual than ever, helped by a Covid-induced restriction in physical interactions.

https://static.seekingalpha.com/uploads/2021/12/26/49663886-16405745860315373.png

Source: RoundHill Investments

As for software plays like Microsoft (MSFT), Autodesk (ADSK), Unity Software (U), the metaverse is already proving to be a game-changer for working from home due to Covid. Continuing along the same thought process, instead of seeing their colleagues on a video call screen, employees could join them in a virtual office. Here, one of the main benefits of the metaverse is believed to be “presence,” meaning the feeling of physically engaging places and characters instead of looking at them through a laptop or smartphone screen.

Coming to Apple (AAPL), it has one of the world’s largest AR platforms with hundreds of millions of AR‑enabled devices, as well as thousands of related apps on the App Store. Now, one of the essential building blocks of the metaverse is interoperability whereby users must be able to move throughout the metaverse, while effortlessly make the transition to the physical world. For this purpose, they need AR devices which are supported by Apple’s iPhones. There is also an analyst forecasting that Apple’s “mixed reality headset will come out in the late 2022 or early 2023”, with the Apple Glasses to follow in 2025.

Apple should also benefit through its gaming division just like Roblox (RBLX), an online game platform which allows users to play games created by other users. In a metaverse scenario, one can envisage players retaining their avatar while hopping from one game to another or even a virtual shop for purchasing purposes, regardless of the brand of the user’s device.

After painting an enthralling picture of META, I now address some pain points.

META’s shortcomings

Since the concept of metaverse is relatively new, there will be many use cases that will arise in the future, but the space is also likely to be under intense regulatory scrutiny as lawmakers become wary of the power of big techs at extending their control on our social lives to a further degree through virtual reality. Governments may for example restrict the number of hours we can spend in the metaverse just like China is restraining the number of hours children can play games. Furthermore, Apple with its IOS operating system is only a part of the global smartphone ecosystem and it will have to be a metaverse which also encapsulates the Android operating system by Google (GOOG) with its brand of AR. META certainly includes the Android play, but only at a paltry 1.71% of holdings.

Pursuing further, META does include pioneers in content, commerce, and social for the metaverse, such as Sea (SE), Amazon (AMZN) and Snap (SNAP), and I also noted that it includes web infrastructure companies like CloudFlare (NET). On the other hand, I noted the absence of wireless plays from its portfolio. Also, the fund managers do not mention Industrial 4.0 applications, namely 3D printing which is crucial to allow transition from the virtual to the physical world.

Looking for further support from the share performance side, despite all these hot talks about the metaverse and META having already crossed the $900 million in total assets under management within six months, it managed to produce a meager 2.59% gain during this time. This is dwarfed by SMH or even the Technology Select SPDR ETF (XLK), with both these two funds producing above 17% gains in the same time period.

https://static.seekingalpha.com/uploads/2021/12/26/49663886-16405745860053453.png

Source: tradingview.com

This calls for a dose of realism.

Conclusion

There is no doubt that META is an innovative ETF with its index consisting of a tiered weight portfolio of globally-listed companies who are actively involved in the metaverse, but this whole concept is still new and rapidly evolving. I also like the fact that Roundhill Investments have also included companies like Block (SQ) and Electronics Art (EA), thus showing their perfect understanding of the Blockchain side of things.

Still, I am not convinced as to the percentage of asset held for each stock. Now, as an actively managed fund charging 0.75% in fees, the portfolio is likely to see rapid changes, but at this stage, it is preferable to wait. Finally, those who want early metaverse exposure, both SMH and XLK can be considered as proxy ETFs for this purpose, and come at lower expense ratios of 0.35% and 0.12% respectively.

Disclosure: I am long XLK.

NUGO: Growth Has a New ETF

I came across the Nuveen Growth Opportunities ETF (NYSEARCA:NUGO) while reading a report by ETFGI, an independent research and consulting provider providing insights on the entire global industry of ETFs and ETPs listed globally. Also, out of the top 10 most active funds by net new assets, NUGO, which had been incepted only on September 27, gathered $1.63 billion, representing the largest individual net inflow. It outperformed many well-established names like the SPDR Blackstone/GSO Senior Loan ETF (SRLN) with inflows of only $562.16, coming at second place.

https://static.seekingalpha.com/uploads/2021/12/26/49663886-16405368201872425.png

Source: Table prepared with data from etfgi.com

Interestingly, NUGO also beat the newly incepted ProShares Bitcoin Strategy ETF (BITO) which garnered a lot of media attention lately, and, tellingly, the above figures predate the volatility period engulfing crypto-currencies, signifying that they were benefiting from relatively higher inflows than currently.

The reason for NUGO’s higher inflows

Investigating further as to why NUGO collected as much as 34.5% (1,632/4,731) of the top-ten list of money inflows, the main reason was Nuveen’s parent company, TIAA moving funds from the “$13.7 billion” TIAA-CREF Large-Cap Growth Index fund to NUGO. This strategic re-allocation of assets to NUGO reflects Nuveen’s outlook on areas of opportunity in global equities and is aimed at improving risk-adjusted returns and enhancing retirement outcomes for investors.

Taking a bird’s eye view, EFGI’s report also mentioned that actively managed funds in these two investment vehicles (ETFs and ETPs) brought net inflows of $63.72 billion from the start of the year to November 2021, compared to only $33.06 billion for the same period in 2020. This represents nearly a 100% increase.

Now, these actively managed funds generally carry a higher expense ratio or the fees charged by the fund managers compared to more passively managed funds like for example, the SPDR S&P 500 ETF (SPY). My reason for considering SPY is that it shares some common holdings with NUGO like Microsoft (MSFT), Apple (AAPL), Tesla (TSLA), and Meta Platforms (FB) as shown in the table below with SPY to the right.

https://static.seekingalpha.com/uploads/2021/12/26/49663886-1640536820367116.png

Source: Table prepared from nuveen.com and ssga.com.

Coming to the expense ratio, as an active fund implying more work to rebalance the portfolio, NUGO carries an expense ratio of 0.55% compared to only 0.09% for SPY as a passive ETF. The latter comprises 505 holdings with an AUM of $442.6 billion, a huge amount when compared to NUGO’s total net assets of only $3.3 billion. Also, SPY comes with a 1.22% dividend yield whereas NUGO has not announced any distributions yet.

Looking at NUGO’s performance and risks

Still, for growth-oriented investors who pay relatively less attention to quarterly dividends, two key factors remain performance and risks. For this purpose, I analyzed the three-month performance of SPY and NUGO and found that the latter lived up to “growth” wording in its name by delivering better performance, at 7.76% compared to 7.38% for the SPDR ETF. Now, some may affirm that this 0.38% underperformance is not much given SPY’s much lower fees.

However, as seen by NUGO’s chart in orange below, it delivered intermediary performances of up to 11%-12% on two occasions in November whereas SPY was mostly stuck around the 7% mark. More importantly, this performance has been delivered at a lower degree of volatility with the orange chart not descending below SPY’s green chart during abrupt market fluctuations as was the case in mid-November and the beginning of December.

https://static.seekingalpha.com/uploads/2021/12/26/49663886-16405368204352078.png

Source: tradingview

This is explained by the fact that NUGO charges higher fees and seeks long-term capital appreciation through a concentrated growth portfolio primarily investing in U.S. stocks with market capitalizations of at least $1 billion. The investment team also looks for metrics like attractive earnings growth, strong relative valuation, attractive cash flows, and significant long-term returns.

Furthermore, unlike traditional ETFs NUGO makes use of a “proxy portfolio”, instead of publishing its portfolio holdings on a daily basis. Instead, it discloses the daily holdings of a portfolio transparency substitute (which the fund managers refer to as the “Proxy Portfolio”). This is designed to reflect the economic exposure and risk characteristics of the actual portfolio on any given trading day, allows for the efficient trading of Fund shares, and shields the identity of the Fund’s full daily portfolio holdings.

Conclusion

Looking ahead, the volatility grappling the market is likely to continue in the first quarter of 2022 due to inflationary pressures becoming more evident. To this end, one of NUGO’s constituents, payment processor MasterCard (MA) has taken a hit recently on concerns of rising COVID cases causing a dent in travel and related services. This is due to people tending to swipe their cards more often when changing destinations, thus generating transaction income for MasterCard. Now, the fact that many flights have been canceled on both sides of the Atlantic as Omicron spreads rapidly means less transaction revenue.

Still, I see the exposure to semiconductor names like NVIDIA (NVDA) to be a huge positive for NUGO due to the usage of chips in everything from datacenters, solar panels, electric vehicles, 5G, and crypto mining activities. Along the same lines, that 12% exposure to Microsoft (MSFT), on which most Wall Street analysts are very bullish and forecasting a 10% upside is another positive for the Nuveen ETF which should make it to the $29-30 level by the third quarter of 2022 as inflation fears subside gradually. Finally, I am also bullish because of the massive reallocation of assets being directed towards NUGO from Nuveen’s parent company I evoked earlier.

 

Earnings Calendar Quiet Next Week: What to Expect in the Markets in 2022

With stocks heading into what has historically been a good time of year for stocks, investors will carefully monitor the latest news on the rapidly spreading Omicron coronavirus variant to see how it affects the U.S. economy and company earnings in 2022. The following is a list of earnings slated for release December 27-31, along with a few previews. Although next week’s earnings are unlikely to have much of an effect on major market movements, it is sufficient to gauge investors’ sentiment.

Earnings Calendar For The Week Of December 27

Monday (December 27)

TICKER COMPANY EPS FORECAST
QIPT Quipt Home Medical $0.01

 

Tuesday (December 28)

TICKER COMPANY EPS FORECAST
CALM Cal-Maine Foods $0.28
NEOG Neogen $0.17

 

Wednesday (December 29)

TICKER COMPANY EPS FORECAST
FCEL Fuelcell Energy $-0.02
NG Novagold Resources $-0.03

 

Thursday (December 30)

TICKER COMPANY EPS FORECAST
CRON Cronos Group $-0.09
IBRX ImmunityBio $-0.2
SAFM Sanderson Farms $3.8
MKC McCormick $0.8

 

Friday (December 31)

No major earnings are scheduled for release.

What to Expect in the Markets in 2022

The year 2021 is drawing to a close and analysts and investors are already looking forward to the year 2022. In a year in which the S&P 500 has returned more than 15% for the third straight year, investors have to wonder whether there will be any more upside in the stock market over the coming year.

“We expect solid economic and earnings growth in 2022 to help U.S. stocks deliver additional gains next year. If we are approaching—or are already in—the middle of an economic cycle with at least a few more years left (our view), then we believe the chances of another good year for stocks in 2022 are quite high. We believe the S&P 500 could be fairly valued at 5,000–5,100 at the end of 2022, based on an EPS estimate of $235 for 2023 and an index P/E between 21 and 21.5,” noted Ryan Detrick, CMT, Chief Market Strategist, LPL Financial.

“Prospects for above-average economic growth and accompanying earnings gains in 2022 point to another potentially good year for stock investors. While the pandemic is not completely behind us as the COVID-19 Omicron variant spreads rapidly (though with a high proportion of mild cases), and there are several other risks to watch, particularly inflation, stocks have historically done well in mid-cycle economies. We do not expect 2022 to be an exception,” LPL Financial’s Detrick added.

According to a stockmarket.com report, three FAANG stocks will be closely watched next year. In the context of the broader stock market’s recovery, tech stocks are once again in focus. Among the most successful stocks in the sector, the FAANG stocks shine brightest as S&P 500 companies with a tech component make up a large portion of the index. In case you’re not familiar, this group of stocks includes Meta Platforms (formerly known as Facebook), Amazon, Apple, Netflix, and Google’s parent company Alphabet will be in focus in 2022.

“More volatile equity markets in 2022: At face value our global macro forecasts suggest a continued benign backdrop for equities in 2022 with strong nominal (and real) GDP growth, moderating inflation through the year and no rate hikes from any of the G3 central banks. However, underneath the surface we think there are a number of reasons to suggest that global equities’ serene progress over the last 18 months will become somewhat more volatile going forward as earnings growth slows, bond yields rise, and corporates continue to juggle the challenges of disrupted supply chains and elevated input costs. We think that these issues weigh most heavily on the US equity market but are more optimistic elsewhere, especially in Europe and Japan, where our risk/reward frameworks still look quite appealing,” noted Michael J. Wilson, equity analyst at Morgan Stanley.

“Underweight US stocks: Slower EPS growth and higher starting valuations versus global peers leave us underweight the S&P, where our target of 4400 implies 5% downside potential. Risk/reward looks more appealing for Europe and Japan: We are overweight Europe and Japan (8% and 12% upside potential, respectively), where we see the best EPS growth for 2022 and where valuations have already reset to more attractive levels. We remain neutral on EM and China for now. Recommendations: Potential for sector and style dispersion feels more limited than usual. We are overweight financials across all regions and positive on energy in Europe and EM. Consumer discretionary is a high-conviction underweight in the US,” Morgan Stanley’s analysts added.

We wish you a happy, healthy New Year!

Business People are Leaving Lucrative Jobs to Join the Cryptocurrency Space

Recent times have seen professionals leave lucrative employment to join the blockchain industry. Major U.S. banks like JP Morgan generate more money than ever before, yet finance veterans are ‘unsettled and uneasy.’ Digital currencies are also becoming increasingly popular among software engineers as a way to make money online.

Wall Street Peer into the Crypto Ecosystem

Goldman Sachs boss David Solomon counts the company among America’s most profitable public companies. The bank head gave the statement on a gathering for retired partners. However, Geoff Boisi, a seasoned mergers banker, noticed how quiet the excitement was.

The typical noises of Wall Street’s backslapping and toasts have died away near the conclusion of yet another financial year. They’ve been silenced by the aftereffects of nearly two years of a worldwide pandemic and the suspicion in an era of enormous disparities.

Industry workers feel that tasks are never-ending, that problems are brewing, and that the genuine adventure is elsewhere. The recent gains of wealthy traders and dealmakers are being outshined by the spectacular riches touted by cryptocurrency enthusiasts, fintech experts, and meme stocks.

Additionally, there’s the gnawing feeling that the financial sector is benefiting from the mayhem unleashed by Covid-19. J. Christopher Flowers, a prominent Wall Street investor, says it this way: Wall Street understands that much of the windfall is coming from “speculative nonsense.”

 The Financial Culture Shift

Financial gains have shifted from traditional entities to the crypto industry. In a new era, high-end financial executives have left notable positions for a goldmine lying with cryptoassets. One of the most significant issues is that bankers are preoccupied with wealth rather than significance.

According to Red-Horse Mohl, for a century, Wall Street has been devoid of a sense of community engagement and sustainability. Finance executives are well aware that widening income disparity is a problem, but they can’t seem to stop it from getting worse.”

As a result, most investors have abandoned the stock market and concentrated on the crypto sector, which provides financial equity. For example, after leaving her position as a vice president of Amazon’s cloud computing unit, Sandy Carter began working for a crypto technology firm. She soon provided a link to the company’s open positions.

Within two days, she claims that more than 350 people – many of the leaders in the internet business sector – had clicked on the link to apply for employment at Unstoppable Domains. The exodus of CEOs and engineers from cushy posts at Google, Amazon, Apple, and other large tech firms is part of a more significant trend.

They suggested that the next big thing is crypto, with a catchall category that includes digital currencies like Bitcoin and NFTs-based items. Now Silicon Valley is flooded with tales of individuals holding massive cryptocurrency holdings.

Amazon Could Be The First Among FAAMG to Launch a Crypto Token

A recent Amazon advert has got the crypto world buzzing. The retailer advertised for a lead position in digital currencies and blockchain. The news excited crypto enthusiasts who couldn’t stop speculating on the move’s meaning. Some went as far as suggesting that Amazon teased its entry into the crypto space.

This development saw the firm scramble for a clarification. It refuted that it was entering the crypto sector. But Its denial did little to quell the growing speculation. If anything, it left more answers than questions. Chief among these questions is what the idea means for Amazon’s crypto interests.

It poses questions about the retailer’s crypto push compared to other FAAMG members. The other members of the quintet are Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, and Google. Could some factors give Amazon the advantage over them in their bid to launch crypto tokens? This article assesses why Amazon could become the first of the FAAMG to launch a crypto token.

How Could Amazon Become the First FAAMG to Issue a Crypto Token?

The growth of crypto payments has sent many industry players back to the drawing board. They’ve had to reconsider placing cryptocurrencies in their operations. The FAAMG quintet hasn’t lagged in this either. That said, in the crypto adoption race, Amazon seems to have the edge over the other four. Here are the top reasons why it could pioneer in launching a crypto token.

It Has a Functioning Digital Asset Already

Amazon isn’t a newbie in the crypto sector. Its interest in the area goes back to 2013. Then, the company launched AmazonCoins, a virtual currency used by its customers. Can use them to buy Kindle-based apps and games.

The token goes for about $0.01 and has wide acceptance within Amazon’s ecosystem. Should the company decide to issue a native token, it already has a prototype to work with. Developing a token is a time-consuming venture. So since Amazon has a functional currency in use, transforming it into a token will be effortless. Unlike the rest, Amazon wouldn’t have to start from scratch.

It’s a Trusted Global Brand

According to a recent Morning Consult study, Amazon is the fifth most trusted brand in the world. Although Google and Microsoft ranked ahead, they’ve faced accusations of data mining. Facebook also continues to face the same allegations.

Amazon may also mine data, but in contrast, it allows users greater freedom in what they’d want to share. One of the cryptos’ selling points is confidentiality. On this score, it’s easy to see why the public would accept Amazon’s token compared to the rest.

Its AWS Platform is a Key Player in the Crypto Space

Another factor playing to Amazon’s advantage is its Amazon Web Service (AWS). AWS is the firm’s computing arm providing BC service known as the managed blockchain. Many global firms have been renting access to the network rather than building their own.

AWS is a perfect fit for launching the Amazon token should the company decide to do so. For one, it’s a proven BC system backed by the trust of thousands of global firms. So, it makes total sense that deploying a crypto token would be an easy thing to do.

Amazon’s Deep Involvement with Ethereum

The firm is already a key player in the crypto universe. Amazon supports a quarter of the global Ethereum (ETH) workload. This is a justifiable fact as ETH is second only to Bitcoin (BTC) in market share. But ETH is more than a currency; it’s a whole financial ecosystem.

Other players in the industry are still developing their BCs. ETH is evolving to include more functionalities. And with it, so has AWS’ significance within the crypto space. When Amazon launches its token, it’ll use AWS’ experience and reputation. It will thus reach the masses.

Amazon is Investing in its Blockchain and Crypto Teams

Amazon’s advert came out as a dead giveaway on its crypto project. Why else would they want to hire for such a position? Again, it follows CoinDesk’s February report on Amazon’s “digital currency” project in Mexico. Furthermore, the firm has in the recent past announced over 70 openings for BC experts. What’s clear is that Amazon is beefing up its BC and crypto teams. It’s doing so to make its presence in the crypto space permanent.

It Holds Patents to Crypto Domains

In 2017, Amazon acquired three crypto-related domains. These are:

  • AmazonEthereum.com
  • AmazonCryptocurrency.com
  • AmazonCryptocurrencies.com

It has also indicated an interest in Proof of Work and Merkle Trees cryptosystems. The move gives it a head start over the other four.

Amazon Has an Extensive Network of Loyal Customers

Statista reports by Q1 2021, Prime – its premium membership platform -had 200 million members. The membership renews at $119 annually. Members enjoy certain privileges from the retailer. Besides their loyalty, prime members are early adopters. Thus, they will readily embrace an Amazon token upon launch.

It Has Always Been an Industry Disruptor

Amazon has a reputation for disrupting industries. And AWS has enabled firms to cut third parties from their functions. There’s no reason why it can’t use the platform for its crypto offering.

What Do The Developments at Amazon Mean?

Despite Amazon denying that it’ll be accepting cryptos, their statement speaks otherwise. The emphasis, in their view, is the denial of the timeline. It isn’t their interest in accepting cryptocurrencies. Major tech companies are growing their interest in cryptocurrencies. And there’s no doubt that Amazon will embrace them sooner or later too.

The Drive is Reputational

Here, there are several points worth mentioning. First, it’ll install crypto payments or tokens in its cloud and intellectual products.

Banks provide major online stores with quite favorable terms. So, crypto payments do not solve any of their most pressing problems. Accepting crypto for such e-commerce platforms is more reputational than economic.

Amazon is Creating its Ecosystem

Secondly, Amazon is more interested in accepting payments through its token. That is, they’re creating their ecosystem within the existing platform. The ecosystem is already there, and the token will fit in easily. It’s easy to assume that Amazon’s plans to accept crypto payments extend into BTC and ETH at most. But not the whole list of cryptocurrencies, as City AM had reported.

Are There Downsides To Amazon’s Crypto Entry?

Amazon’s entry into crypto is good, even commendable. But it may not be without its downsides. The firm has come in for criticisms on how it operates.

Firstly, critics speak of its monopolistic tendencies. In the past, it has used patents as an anti-competitive measure. A monopoly with the might that Amazon has would spell disaster for the crypto space.

Secondly, it has previously practiced price discrimination. It apologized and offered refunds for affected customers following the fiasco. There’s no telling if the firm won’t go back to the same discriminatory measures.

Final Thoughts

When you’re Amazon, the public scrutinizes your every move. It wouldn’t matter even if it’s filling up an opening in one of your departments. Recently the firm announced that it was recruiting a blockchain and crypto lead. The successful candidate would drive the retailer’s vision and strategy in that space. The news sent the crypto world into a frenzy speculating on what the move meant.

So, Amazon denied that it was preparing to accept crypto payments. But the denial did little to quell those speculations. Some crypto enthusiasts contend that Amazon is coy about its crypto interests. They pointed out that it can’t lag as other tech giants embrace the technology.

Further, they posit that it has a headstart over the other members of the FAAMG in the race for crypto adoption. For now, let’s wait and see what Amazon’s next move will be. But, what’s not in doubt is that its adoption of cryptos is a matter of time.