Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Gold Price Ratio Suggests Recession Looming, Target TGT Underperforms & Growth Stocks Nasdaq AFCE, ALXN

Relative to the United States, Canada has higher wages, higher fuel prices, stronger unions, and higher distribution costs and that often leads to higher retail prices.  Target Canada will open its first 124 stores in 2013 but it won't be an easy transition; The Canadian dollar is at a low right now (95.0c US) which compounds the problems Target will face in adjusting its prices to Canadian expectations.  Since launching in select markets earlier this year a new problem has cropped up :  consumer satisfaction dipped below 30% in August (vs May).

Target (nyse:tgt) Underperforming

Latest quarterly profit -13% weighed down by Canadian operations (expansion costs).  As of quarter-end Canada is home to 68 locations with another 56 to open by year-end.  Canada accounted for $275 million of the company's $17,120m sales this quarter but Canadian performance still not up to par.  Total North American sales were suppose to be up 2% this quarter not the realized 1.2%.  Earnings at 96 cents a share ($611m vs $704m last year) a cent below expectations.

Recession Looming ?

Signs certainly suggested it on Friday when growth in silver and gold prices contrasted with next to no change for the primarily industrially used platinum group metals. 

So far in August (1-20) investors extracted $30.3 billion from US bond mutual funds which amounts to the highest monthly outflow in 19 years.  Markets both domestic and international have benefited from the US Fed bond buying program which was originally instituted to help keep mortgage interest rates down, however what the Fed is now saying is that, even after its eventual exit from the program, short term rates shouldn't go up even though long term rates will.

The Fed purchases $85 billion worth of bonds each month - half mortgage bonds half treasury notes, as a sort of quantitative easing.  Because the Fed isn't being clear on when it will stop buying mortgage bonds, interest rates are gradually moving up consquently people wanting to buy homes are doing so before the expected spike in rates (July sales of existing homes +17.2% versus last year).  30-year fixed rates - May 1 : 3.35% ; August 23 : 4.58% highest since July 2011 ; 15-year rate @ 3.6%.
Unemployment remains a problem, it was as high as 8.2% in July.  Also, jobs numbers (+170th last month) are weak - most of the new jobs are part time and not specialized;  In June for example 400,000 people with college degrees lost jobs while 250,000 people without college degrees got jobs.  Another sign pointing to a weak economy - average age of vehicles on the road now 11.1 years, the highest on record.