Wednesday, August 27, 2014

"Return to Behemoth Stocks"

In 1999-2000 the breadth kept shrinking until in the last few weeks before the ensuing 78% NASDAQ collapse the market was reduced to a handful of megacaps.
From The Aleph Blog:
Somewhat less than three years ago, I wrote two articles on Behemoth stocks [one, two], which I define as stocks with over $100 Billion of market cap.  Today I want to revisit those stocks, and those that have joined them.  The last time I wrote, there were 39 of them actively trading on US Exchanges.  Now there are 61, for a difference of 22.  24 stocks are new, and two have dropped out.  Let start with those two:
  • Vodapone plc [VOD] sold off its interest in Verizon Wireless to Verizon, creating a lot of value, and returned a lot of capital to shareholders.  For those of us who were shareholders, I can only say, great job.  You made Verizon pay up, and you didn’t blow all of the new free capital on suboptimal projects.
  • The stock price of Vale, SA [VALE] has gone down considerably (~40%).  China is no longer a giant vacuum cleaner for minerals The pace of China’s expansion has slowed, and that has had an impact on base metals producers like Vale.
This highlights three things:
  • In a bull market, once you are big, you tend to stay there.
  • If you want to create value for shareholders as a behemoth, you need to take radical actions that sell off parts of the company, and return capital to shareholders.  Managements should think, “How can we reorganize the company such that each component part will be better managed, and lines that we aren’t so good at are sold off.”
  • In general, these companies are too large to be taken over; change must come from within.  Activists will only succeed if the managements let them.
Now let’s look at the new companies, which fall into six main groups: Consumer Oriented, Banks, Pharmaceuticals, Information Technology,  Industrials, and  Internet....MORE
See also: 
The Day the NASDAQ Died
Humble Pie (sung to the tune of American Pie)

A long, long week ago
I can still remember how the market used to make me smile
What I'd do when I had the chance
Is get myself a cash advance
And add another tech stock to the pile.
But Alan Greenspan made me shiver
With every speech that he delivered
Bad news on the rate front
Still I'd take one more punt
I can't remember if I cried
When I heard about the CPI
I lost my fortune and my pride
The day the NASDAQ died 
So bye-bye to my piece of the pie
I poured my paycheck into Datek
Now my cash account's dry
It's just two weeks from an all-time high
And now we're right back where we were in July
We're right back where we were in July
Did you buy stocks you never heard of?
Q COM at 150 or above?
'Cos your plumber told you so
Now do you believe in Home Depot?
Can Wal-Mart save your portfolio?
And can you teach me what's a P/E ratio?
Well, I know that you were leveraged too
So you can't just take a long-term view
Your broker shut you down
No more margin could be found...