The March quarter was filled with all sorts of things -- from harsh winter weather to political items, and even the 2014 Winter Olympics -- as well as weaker-than-expected guidance from a number of companies. All of that weighed on the stock market during the quarter, with most of the major indices in the red in late January.
The market rebounded in February and March, but during the last few weeks, most of those market gains have been erased. As we closed the books on the March quarter and opened them for the June one, the tale of the tape is not in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, nor the S&P 500, but in the Nasdaq Composite Index. Even there, however, the index is down only 1.49% in 2014, but there are far steeper declines in many of the all-too-recent need-to-own stocks that powered strong returns in 2013. Examples of those recent high fliers include online e-tailer Amazon.com (AMZN), social media giant Facebook (FB), light emitting diode chip and lamp company Cree (CREE), e-health companies such as Cerner (CERN) and cybersecurity companies like Imperva (IMPV).
One of the dangers that individual investors face is being caught, if not trapped, in the headlines, and that often leads to paralysis.
That's why I use the thematic approach to investing -- it puts the puzzle pieces together in a cohesive way and helps me craft an investable signal instead off a wash of noise. That same signal not only identifies winning candidates, but it also helps sidestep the shares of companies that are being left behind. After all, picking one winning stock is great, but if you also pick up a poor investment along the way, it's going to dilute your returns.
Despite the headlines that can fan the flames of emotion and result in sloppy selling, we have to let the data talk to us. I know it can be tough when the talking heads are spouting off about how bad it is, but remember their job is to grab your attention, not to help make you money. But looking at the data, as the impact of the harsh winter weather recedes, we are already seeing evidence that its effect was a temporary one. Snapshots from both Markit Economics and the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) on the domestic manufacturing economy in March and April painted an improved picture compared to those for February and January. Similarly, March and April auto and truck sales climbed compared to February, and I'd remind you those sales were better in February than January. I expect we will see the housing market rebound as well in the April data, then strengthen further in the coming months.
Chris Versace is the editor of PowerTrend Brief — a FREE, weekly electronic newsletter. He also writes PowerTrend Profits, a paid monthly newsletter that helps individual investors profit through buying shares of companies poised to win big in the 8 PowerTrends, as well as writes the PowerTrader trading service that seeks to deliver short-term gains using stocks, ETFs and options. Chris has been ranked an All Star Analyst by Zacks Investment Research.