Stock Bulls Remain Optimistic As Data Indicates a Slowdown in Manufacturing Inflation

Stock bulls remain extremely cautious but a bit more optimistic as data indicates a slowdown in manufacturing inflation. The Producer Price Index rose +11% year-over-year in April, higher than expected but a meaningful pullback from March’s +11.5%. Producer prices lead consumer prices, so the report is a good sign overall, though investors, as well as the Fed, will need to see a couple more months of declines before declaring that inflation is indeed cooling.

Inflation

Economists also warn that goods inflation may be coming down because consumer demand is shifting more to services, meaning high prices could simply be moving from one part of the economy to another. The latest data shows services prices are rising at the fastest rate in three decades with airfare leading the way. Even if inflation has peaked, the question now is, how long will it remain elevated?

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell cautioned yesterday that he can’t guarantee the central bank can deliver a so-called “soft landing” for the economy, pointing to the tight labor market and ongoing supply chain dislocations. Powell also stressed that other “huge events” are playing important roles right now, including Russia’s war in Ukraine, that are beyond the Fed’s control. Powell made the comments after being confirmed by the Senate for a second 4-year term.

The central bank’s target inflation rate is still a “flexible +2%” but several officials have indicated that the new normal might be more in the +2.5% to +3% range. One of the main gauges (but not the only one) the Fed uses to determine the rate of inflation is the Core PCE Prices Index, which for March was running at +5.2%. The April read is due out on May 27, which is a couple weeks ahead of the Fed’s next meeting on June 14-15.

Data to watch

Consumer data recently has been sending mixed signals that are hard to interpret. Sentiment has been mostly falling since the start of the year but consumer spending has not shown any signs of pullback.

Next week, investors get an update on how spending is holding up via April Retail Sales on Tuesday. A slew of fresh housing data next week will provide a deeper look at how substantially higher mortgage rates might be impacting the market. The NAHB Housing Market Index for May is out on Tuesday, followed by April Housing Starts on Wednesday, and April Existing Home Sales on Thursday.

Several key earnings are on the calendar next week as well, including Home Depot and Walmart on Tuesday; Cisco, Lowe’s, Target, and TJX Companies on Wednesday; Applied Materials, Palo Alto Networks, and Ross Stores on Thursday; and Deere & Co. on Friday.

Palo Alto Networks Secures Big Money

And the military-focused cybersecurity company could bounce higher given the current geopolitical tensions. But another likely reason is Big Money lifting the stock.

So, what’s Big Money? Said simply, that’s when a stock goes up in price alongside chunky volumes. It’s indicative of institutions betting on the shares.

Smart money managers are always looking for the next hot stock. And Palo Alto Networks has many fundamental qualities that are attractive.

This sets up well for the stock going forward. But how the shares have been trading points to more upside. As I’ll show you, the Big Money has been consistent in the shares.

You see, fund managers are always looking to bet on the next outlier stocks…the best in class. They spend countless hours sizing up companies, reading reports, speaking to analysts…you name it. When they find a company firing on all cylinders, they pounce in a big way.

That’s why I’ve learned how critical it is to gauge Big Money demand for shares. To show you what I mean, have a look at all the Big Money signals PANW has made the last year.

The last few months have seen Big Money activity, too. Each green bar signals big trading volumes as the stock ramped in price:

Source: www.mapsignals.com

In the last year, the stock attracted 19 Big Money buy signals. Generally speaking, recent green bars could mean more upside is ahead.

Now, let’s check out technical action grabbing my attention:

Outperformance is important for leading stocks.

Next, it’s a good idea to check under the hood. Meaning, I want to make sure the fundamental story is strong too. As you can see, Palo Alto Networks has been growing sales at double-digit rates. Take a look:

  • 1-year sales growth rate (+24.9%)
  • 3-year sales growth rate (+23.3%)

Source: FactSet

Marrying great fundamentals with technically superior stocks is a winning recipe over the long-term.

In fact, PANW has been a top-rated stock at my research firm, MAPsignals, for years. That means the stock has buy pressure, strong technicals, and growing fundamentals. We have a ranking process that showcases stocks like this on a weekly basis.

PANW has a lot of qualities that are attracting Big Money. It’s made this list three times since 2014, with its first appearance on 10/06/2014…and gaining 457.21% since. The blue bars below show the times that Palo Alto Networks was a top pick:

Source: www.mapsignals.com

It’s been a top stock in the technology sector according to the MAPsignals process. I wouldn’t be surprised if PANW makes additional appearances in the years to come. Let’s tie this all together.

The Bottom Line

The Palo Alto Networks rally could have further to go. Big Money buying in the shares is signaling to take notice. Shares could be positioned for further upside. Given the historical gains in share price and strong fundamentals, this stock could be worth a spot in a growth-oriented portfolio.

Disclosure: the author holds no positions in PANW at the time of publication.

Learn more about the MAPsignals process here.

Disclaimer

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