Michael Lombardi Predictions

Michael Lombardi Predictions – April 2012 Devastating for Retailers

Just how bad is it getting out there?

There is no question that the U.S. east coast just experienced the warmest winter in decades. And, as a result, shoppers who were normally held back by cold weather were free to visit their favorite local store to shop and the retail sector welcomed them with open arms.

As strong retail sales—when compared to the previous year when we actually had a winter—rolled in during January, February and March of this year, some were claiming that this was proof of consumer confidence…that the economic recovery finally had some traction…that the retail sector looked great.

That theory hit a roadblock this past April. The retail sector missed sales estimates for the first time in five months this April (source: Reuters, May 3, 2012).

Also in April, McDonald’s Corporation (NYSE/MCD), the world’s largest fast food chain, came in with weaker than expected same-stores sales. The company says the weak sales reflect a difficult economic environment with challenged consumer confidence.

In Europe, Germany was supposed to have escaped recession…

But retail sales in Germany fell at the fastest rate in April in over 18 months (source: Markit Economics, April 27, 2012). Operating margins were under pressure in the retail sector and retailers felt they needed to provide deep discounts to get sales going. Not a good sign of consumer confidence in Germany.

In France, retail sales plunged to their lowest level on record in April (they started keeping records only in 2004). Oddly enough, this was the biggest falloff in 18 months and the retail sector in France had to discount, which squeezed margins; certainly not the backdrop for strong consumer confidence.

In Italy, retail sales fell at the second-highest year-over-year annual rate in history in April. The retail sector laid off a record number of employees in the month as well.

With these pressures, the eurozone retail sales figures fell to their second-lowest level on record, continuing a trend of falling retail sales that has been in place since June 2011. The retail sector continues to suffer in the eurozone from disappearing consumer confidence.

The U.S. is off to a weak start in the second quarter, as highlighted by the retail sector. Without real disposable income growth, consumer confidence and retail sales will continue to come under pressure.

Meanwhile, Europe’s retail sector is living through difficult times, as the economic slowdown there is gaining traction on the downside. The winds of recession are slowly crossing the Pond.

Michael’s Personal Notes:

Germany has lost its dance partner…

Francois Hollande is France’s first elected socialist president in 17 years. He has stated that he will reduce the government’s budget deficit while increasing taxes and increasing spending. He believes he can eliminate the budget deficit by 2017.

Just the kind of guy France needs…

Because of the European economy’s recession, France’s budget deficit is already worse than it was a year ago because of lower tax revenue. Hollande wants to spend €20 billion to get the economy going, lower the retirement age back to 60, and raise taxes on businesses and the rich.

The problem is that Hollande doesn’t spell out how France is going to pay for this spending and how he will be able to increase spending and reduce the budget deficit at the same time.

Let’s get real…

The wealthy and corporations in France are going to have little incentive to invest and create jobs if they know their tax rates are going to rise. Their profit margins are going to be squeezed by higher taxes.

These “disincentives” to business come at the worst possible time for France, which needs to create jobs in order to grow with the European economy’s recession hanging over them.

Hollande wants to meet with the Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel, to ratify the European fiscal pact, which focuses on austerity measures and reducing budget deficits through fiscal discipline. (I’m sure Merkel can’t wait to have a serious discussion with France’s new leader.) Hollande has explicitly said he will not go along with the fiscal pact of reducing budget deficits unless there are growth provisions added to it to help the European economy.

Over the past few years, it was France’s previous president, Nicolas Sarkozy, who agreed with Merkel regarding the fiscal pact and budget deficits. He convinced the other European members to go along, while the European economy was falling into a recession.

Even if Merkel and Hollande come to some agreement on the fiscal pact, the big test is just a few months away—this summer.

Hollande will present his budget and how he plans to reduce the budget deficit while increasing spending. If the bond market is not convinced by his policies, I believe interest rates on France’s bonds will rise to the levels currently seen in Italy and Spain.

To make things worse, the rating agencies may threaten further downgrades if Hollande’s policies don’t bring down the budget deficits.

Who will buy France’s bonds if interest rates rise, as its budget deficit policies are not seen as attainable by the bond market? With the European economy in a recession, it will have to be Germany that helps France out in some capacity. But now that France no longer wants to play by Germany’s rules, will Germany help?

Back at the ranch, America is far too complacent about the crisis situation in Europe. China’s economy is slowing. Japan is printing money again. What a mess. But have no fear; the Dow Jones Industrial Average is back at 13,000!

Where the Market Stands; Where it’s Headed:

Last year, I made a crazy prediction that stocks would start to fall in mid-April of 2012. I was two weeks too early. Since the beginning of May, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has lost about 500 points…four percent gone, very quickly.

As the stock market continues to fall, get ready for QE3. I bought more gold-related investments earlier this week.

What He Said:

“As a reader, you’re aware I’m not a Greenspan fan. In the years that lie ahead, I believe we (and our children) may pay dearly for the debt bubble Greenspan created during his tenure as head of the U.S. Federal Reserve.” Michael Lombardi in PROFIT CONFIDENTIAL, March 20, 2006. Michael started talking about and predicting the financial catastrophe we began experiencing in 2008 long before anyone else.

Stock Market & Gold: An Opportunity Like We’ve Never Seen Before?

By Michael Lombardi, MBA

I’m so excited this morning; I can hardly control my excitement.

Being the type of person who looks at the glass half-full as opposed to half-empty, I see yesterday’s sell-off in most investment categories as presenting investors with huge opportunities for profit.

Let’s start with the stock market: Since August, there have been five breakdowns by the Dow Jones Industrial Average to the 10,500 level. Subsequent to each of the downside moves, the stock market has rallied. As of last night’s close, the Dow Jones Industrials are selling at only 12.2 times this year’s earnings! The Dow Jones Industrials offer a dividend yield today of 2.9%—trumping most other forms of investment in respect to income.

The stock market is severely oversold; there is great value in stocks.

Moving to precious metals, the big correction in gold and silver I have been predicting and warning about is on! Finally, gold’s back under $1,700 an ounce. Finally, silver is back under $33.00 an ounce.

If you believe that the world’s financial problems will go away, if you believe that the U.S. will get out from under its mountain of debt, sell your gold.

On the other hand, if you recognize that gold bullion has risen $397.00 an ounce in the past 12 months (31%) and investors are finally taking some profits off the table, if you believe that the world’s economic problems will only get worse, that the U.S. will continue piling on the debt, that U.S. dollars will continue to be printed at a rate that spurs inflation (all the stuff I believe), then you might want to take this opportunity to buy more gold investments (like I am).

Global Stocks Enter Bear Market,” said the headline on a Bloomberg news story yesterday. Investors are panicking again and stock advisors are at the most bearish level in months. When you see this amount of negativity, stocks usually go the other way and climb the wall of worry higher. Stock market rallies end when investors are most optimistic, not when they are as pessimistic as they are today.

Michael’s Personal Notes:

Shares of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE/BRK-A) are trading at $100,000 for the first time since the beginning of 2010. I believe there are two reasons this is happening and I don’t believe the price action of Berkshire stock is indicative of the future of general stock prices.

First of all, the company’s reinsurance units have taken a hit. Japan’s earthquake in March and the U.S. windstorms this year have resulted in Berkshire Hathaway Reinsurance Group taking a loss in the first half of 2011.

Secondly, as the company has grown so much, it’s just getting tougher to make deals with big returns. Most of Buffett’s bets have been secure ones: buying preferred shares of big companies and getting a small of amount of warrants as a bonus. The bigger Berkshire has become, the more difficult it has become to make deals where the eventual returns are substantial. Berkshire will be hard pressed to find a deal like Coca-Cola again.

Where the Market Stands; Where it’s Headed:

Despite yesterday’s sell-off in stocks, I believe we continue to be in a bear market rally in stocks that started in March of 2009. Yes, the rally has been long and is getting tired, but I believe the bear market rally has more upside potential left.

What He Said:

“Partying Like a Drunken Sailor: The party continues. Stocks are making new highs and people are spending like there is no tomorrow. Why? I really don’t know. Big (cap) stocks, they just continue going up. Wall Street bonuses are at record levels. Popular consumer goods are flying off the shelves. Designer clothes, fast and expensive cars, restaurants with one-hour waits…people are spending in America today at an unbelievable clip. 1932, 1933…who remembers those years? The depression of the 1930s was the biggest bust of modern history. 2005, 2006, 2007…welcome to the biggest boom of the same period. When will it all end? Soon, my dear reader. Soon.” Michael Lombardi in PROFIT CONFIDENTIAL, February 7, 2007. Michael started talking about and predicting the financial catastrophe we began experiencing in 2008 long before anyone else.

Gold & Silver Setting up for an Attractive New Entry Point

By Mitchell Clark, B.Comm.

An opportunity is now being created in precious metals if the current correction continues. Most precious metals have been falling in price, as financial markets continue to reassess the expectations for economic growth. With lower expectations for global economic growth, the demand outlook for raw materials and spot prices are also going down.

The price of gold has, in my mind, been worthy of a correction for quite some time now. In fact, I think it would be a very healthy development for the long-term trend. It wouldn’t surprise me if the spot price of gold were to retreat and consolidate around the $1,600 level. It’s trading around $1,700 now and $1,600 should provide a good base.

Perhaps an even better commodity to concentrate on would be silver. This precious metal is more useful in terms of its industrial uses and many argue that it hasn’t kept up with the spot price of gold and could therefore be a better trade. The spot price of silver just broke the $37.00-per-ounce level and there’s no reason why it won’t retreat further to the $30.00-per-ounce level if the current trend in capital markets continues.

This is a very difficult stock market and individual investors are loath to participate. While expectations for the future continue to be reduced, the fundamentals for gold and silver remain mostly intact and are therefore worthy of new positions when spot prices find a new base.

It’s a wait-and-see stock market and a wait-and-see spot price market for precious metals. I think the focus for speculative investors should be on gold and silver and that risk-capital investors will have an attractive new entry point very soon.

As for the rest of the stock market, share prices remain very vulnerable before third-quarter earnings season begins. Over the last little while, equity investors have had to endure tremendous shocks to the system: sovereign debt problems in Europe; the downgrade of U.S. sovereign debt; natural disasters in Japan; no improvement in housing prices; and no improvement in employment…the list goes on. I think it’s fair to say that the equity market has held up quite well all things considered.

What we know is that mature economies are now in a period of very little to zero growth over the next 12 months. We also know that developing economies are slowing down and the probability of another recession is going up. The trading action in financial and commodity markets reflects falling expectations for economic growth and an expansion in the time horizon for recovery. Predicting outcomes in this environment is a crapshoot—nobody knows how or when the economy will get better.

With belt-tightening going on at the individual consumer level and at the government level in virtually all mature economies, we should be in a slow growth environment for quite a long time.