My friends at Stocktwits have been doing an incredible job building a community of thoughtful, active, spirited investors who congregate online each day to exchange ideas. What's great about Stocktwits [well, one of the many great things], is that it's a true meritocracy. The conversation is organic and people's acumen is judged in real time. But it doesn't matter if you come to the site as an enterprising college student or a bored house wife or a professional trader. If you've got good ideas and are willing to share them, you will flourish. If you are closed minded or unwilling to share your perspectives, you will quickly be forgotten.
Howard, Soren and Phil are working hard to keep Stocktwits from being consumed by the trappings of scale. As new members flock in, the signal to noise ratio can become hard to manage and one of the ways they're doing this is by keeping a tight lid on speculative penny stocks. No pink sheet or bulletin board companies are on the system, which automatically gives them a leg up from many of the other stock-related communities out there.
But last week an interesting conversation evolved from Howard's worry that stocks trading below $5 should be excluded from the system. Historically, I could understand the merits of that viewpoint. After all, many institutional funds have long been unable to invest in sub-$5 stocks for fear of liquidity and market manipulation.
So while Howard's premise was predicated on sound historical empiricism, it unfortunately was impractical in today's historically damaged market.
Why? Because as I type this 44 of the 500 constituents in the S&P 500 are trading below the $5 threshold.
|AIG||American Int'l. Group||$ 0.42|
|ETFC||E*Trade Financial Corp.||$ 0.80|
|ODP||Office Depot||$ 1.05|
|THC||Tenet Healthcare Corp.||$ 1.11|
|GNW||Genworth Financial Inc.||$ 1.21|
|DYN||Dynegy Inc.||$ 1.30|
|ACAS||American Capital, Ltd.||$ 1.35|
|HBAN||Huntington Bancshares||$ 1.46|
|C||Citigroup Inc.||$ 1.50|
|F||Ford Motor||$ 2.00|
|FITB||Fifth Third Bancorp||$ 2.11|
|AMD||Advanced Micro Devices||$ 2.18|
|GM||General Motors||$ 2.25|
|CIT||CIT Group||$ 2.45|
|JNY||Jones Apparel Group||$ 2.69|
|MBI||MBIA Inc.||$ 2.74|
|JDSU||JDS Uniphase Corp.||$ 2.76|
|CBG||CB Richard Ellis Group||$ 2.89|
|LSI||LSI Corporation||$ 2.90|
|DDR||Developers Diversified Rlty||$ 2.95|
|NOVL||Novell Inc.||$ 3.16|
|EK||Eastman Kodak||$ 3.19|
|MU||Micron Technology||$ 3.22|
|GCI||Gannett Co.||$ 3.24|
|S||Sprint Nextel Corp.||$ 3.29|
|XL||XL Capital||$ 3.31|
|Q||Qwest Communications Int||$ 3.39|
|RF||Regions Financial Corp.||$ 3.42|
|MOT||Motorola Inc.||$ 3.52|
|WYN||Wyndham Worldwide||$ 3.69|
|HST||Host Hotels & Resorts||$ 3.70|
|TLAB||Tellabs, Inc.||$ 3.80|
|IPG||Interpublic Group||$ 3.81|
|BAC||Bank of America Corp.||$ 3.95|
|MTW||Manitowoc Co.||$ 4.10|
|NYT||New York Times Cl. A||$ 4.13|
|TER||Teradyne Inc.||$ 4.13|
|JBL||Jabil Circuit||$ 4.14|
|CBS||CBS Corp.||$ 4.27|
|JNS||Janus Capital Group||$ 4.41|
|GT||Goodyear Tire & Rubber||$ 4.44|
|MI||Marshall & Ilsley Corp.||$ 4.58|
|SLM||SLM Corporation||$ 4.60|
|JAVA||Sun Microsystems||$ 4.68|
Source: Standard & Poors
When 9% of the de facto blue chip equity index are below a given threshold, you have to throw out a lot of the rules we used to hold as truths.
But this is just one arbitrary measure of many that hints at the degree of market degradation we're experiencing. Remember, it wasn't long ago that a company had to maintain a market capitalization of more than $5 billion to be included in the S&P 500. Then it was lowered to $4 billion. And then it was lowered again to $3 billion in December.
Why do I bring this up? Because as I type this, I calculate 139 S&P 500 stocks that are BELOW the $3 billion market capitalization threshold. Tough times continue. When we can't even maintain listing requirements for more than a few MONTHS, how can we possibly and credibly argue that any metric like "trough earnings" on said index are relevant to finding a bottom?
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Disclaimer: At the time of writing, the author or firms affiliated with the author maintained a long position in SDS, as well as long positions in several underlying constituents of the S&P 500. The author and the firm reserve the right to alter their investment positions at any time in the future. The content on this site is provided as general information only and should not be taken as investment advice. Content should not serve in any way as a recommendation to buy or sell any security or financial instrument, or to participate in any particular trading or investment strategy. The ideas expressed on this site are solely the opinions of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the opinions of firms affiliated with the author. Any action taken as a result of information or analysis on this blog is ultimately your responsibility. Consult your investment adviser before making any investment decisions.