Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Inane Forecasts On Business Cable Channels

I saw a couple of examples in the last 24 hours of some truly inane market and company forecasting on CNBC and Bloomberg.

Yesterday afternoon, Citigroup equity strategist Tobias Lefkovitch was on Bloomberg pontificating about equity market moves.

He followed an interview with a guy whose name I did not catch, but was something like 'Mark,' who is allegedly famous for making S&P Index top and bottom calls. According to the Bloomberg anchor/interviewer, the guy had correctly called the recent index bottom, around 1090, and top of a few days ago of 1255. The rest of the interview descended into fairly incomprehensible technical lingo. Even the anchor tried to sum up the guy's remarks in something resembling plain English. It left me wondering how many other market calls this guy has made that have been forgotten or ignored because they weren't correct.

Then Lefkovitch appeared. After discussing various topics involving sectors, the anchor, of course, asked the Citi strategist for his US equity outlook. Incredibly, Lefkovitch, after his own brand of obfuscation, finally uttered what I will try to closely paraphrase,

'So we're looking for equity markets to rise sometime in the next 12 months.'

That's it? Incredible.

Reminds you of the stopped watch aphorism, doesn't it? Just exactly what good is someone telling you that they expect the S&P to rise significantly sometime in the next 12 months?

For individual, self-directing investors, sure, that may offer hope that a continuously-long, dollar-averaged approach to S&P ownership will pay off, if they can remain patient. But for anyone purporting to follow even a semi-active equity strategy, it's a useless market call.

Sophisticated investors don't like to sit still for a year's worth of losses, in hopes that eventually things will turn around. They sure don't pay monthly management fees to professional managers for that sort of performance.

Makes you wish the Oracle of Delphi was still around, doesn't it? So that you could compare some of these so-called strategists' market calls with an appropriate peer?

My own take away is how desperate Bloomberg must be to fill air time that it invites these guys on to give nearly useless forecasts on market trends.

Then I watched a few minutes of CNBC's 9AM program, before Cramer's preening, self-congratulatory remarks turned me stomach enough to send me back to Bloomberg. Prior to that, he was extolling Boeing and ATI for what he forecasts as Boeing's coming seven-year fat phase. Never mind David Faber's sobering question regarding investors already discounting this outlook in the price of the equity. One wonders the same regarding ATI, Boeing's titanium alloy supplier.

For what its worth, Boeing has never entered my quantitatively-selected equity portfolios for over twenty years. It's just too erratic, with its boom and bust cycles and ruthless price competition with Airbus, and, prospectively, China's own budding airplane manufacturer.

Amazon's big earnings miss last night didn't faze Cramer. He praised Jeff Bezos for damning near term performance in order to continue building the world's largest online good provider. This morning, the company's equity price is down more than 10% as I write this at 10AM. It's been in some of my equity portfolios over the past year, but, as always, its performance will keep it there. Not promises of uncertain future developments.

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