Weak May Housing Data

Earlier this week, we highlighted the fact that mortgage activity had fallen off a cliff due to a historic rise in rates. This is an important factor to keep in mind as the housing market tends to be a strong leading indicator for recessions, as every recession besides the COVID crash since the early 1960s has been preceded by a pronounced decline in Housing Starts. Although the NAHB index has already rolled over substantially, Housing Starts and Building Permits are yet to drop on a trailing twelve-month basis. However, the data has been showing signs of weakness, as we have now seen two consecutive months of declines in permits and a significant month-over-month fall in starts.

The table below breaks down this month’s report by type of unit and region and shows both the month-over-month and year-over-year changes. Contrary to what we saw last month, Housing Starts moved higher in the Northeast and Midwest on a m/m basis, while the South and West saw dramatic declines. On a y/y basis, only the Northeast (smallest of the four regions) saw starts move higher. In aggregate, Housing Starts fell by 14.4% month over month and 3.5% year over year. Although multi-units fell more than single units, the decline was substantial for both. In terms of permits, there was no positivity in sight, as every region saw m/m declines. This is not a positive sign for future starts data, as permits must be issued before starts can occur. In aggregate, Building Permits fell by 7.0% month over month, driven by a massive decline in the Northeast.

Housing Starts and Building Permits

For the first time since February of 2021, the 12-month average of Housing Starts declined on a m/m basis. A rollover in this figure tends to be a strong recession indicator, which based on prior history would suggest that the economy is not yet in a recession. If this data continues to weaken, though. recession alarms will start ringing.

Housing Starts

The charts below show the rolling 12-month average for Housing Starts and Building Permits since 2010 on both an overall basis (top chart) and for single-family units specifically (bottom chart). Overall, the 12-month average for headline starts and permits has experienced headwinds as of late with the rate of increase for both slowing down and starts actually showing a slight decline.  The trend for single-family units, however, is much more divergent as permits have already started to roll over after peaking last summer while single-family starts have essentially leveled off during that same span. . Click here to become a Bespoke premium member today!

Housing starts and building permits

Single Family Starts and Permits

Biggest Decliners Since 6/7

There’s been no hiding from pain in equity markets since last Tuesday (June 7th). As mentioned in our Morning Lineup today, the S&P 500 is on pace to decline by 1%+ on four consecutive days, and if we hold onto these levels through the close, the index will have dropped over 2% for three consecutive days. This period of weakness comes on the back of another hotter than expected CPI print, continued disruption from the war in Ukraine, and a 10-year yield healthily above 3%. As of midday, the Russell 3000 was down 9.5% since the close on 6/7 and 22% YTD.

As is the case for every pullback, long-term investors should look for beaten-down names with solid growth runways. The first step of this process is to recognize which names have pulled back the most and then begin looking for diamonds in the rough. The table below shows the 18 Russell 3000 members who are down more than 25% since 6/7 with a market cap of at least $1 billion. For the entire Russell 3000, the average stock in the index is down 24.4% YTD (median: -24.3%) and 10.44% since 6/7 (median: -9.86%).  Narrowing that field down to stocks with market caps of at least $1 billion, the average stock is down 17.4% on a YTD basis (median: -20.5%) and has traded down by 10.3% since 6/7 (median: -9.8%).

Biggest Stock Declines

The exposures of these 18 stocks are quite mixed, as the list includes both pandemic darlings (i.e. Opendoor- OPEN, DocuSign- DOCU) and some of the biggest pandemic era decliners (i.e. Carnival- CCL) and Royal Caribbean-RCL). On a median basis, these stocks trade 4.5 times sales and are expected to see revenue increase by 38.6% over the next twelve months. Of these 18 names, Beam Therapeutics (BEAM) is expected to see the largest sales decline (-38.7%) and Norwegian Cruise (NCLH) is expected to see the largest increase (449.8%). Relative to sales, BEAM is the most expensive at 37.4 times LTM sales and OPEN is the cheapest at 0.3X.

Individual stock performance since 6/7 does appears little correlated to YTD performance. As shown, only 8.1% of the variation in the percent change since 6/7 can be explained by YTD performance. Click here to become a Bespoke premium member today!

YTD Performance vs % Change Since 6/7


Massive Sector Performance Spreads

There’s no questioning that the equity market has been extremely volatile this year. So far in 2022, the S&P 500 has averaged an absolute daily move of 121 basis points (bps). Although the broader index has been incredibly weak over the last 100 trading days (down 17.1%), performance among individual sectors has diverged widely, as Energy has gained 50.7% while the Communication Services sector has declined 32.0%. The 82.7 percentage point performance spread between the two sectors is one of the highest on record. Only July of 2009 and March of 2000 saw higher readings.

Since 1990, there have only been six times in which the best-worst 100-day performance spread crossed above 70 ppts for the first time in at least 50 trading days. This tends to occur amidst a volatile market environment. In the late 90’s, investors flooded into technology stocks while dumping ‘traditional’ stocks, which led to the Technology sector outperforming Energy by 70.2 percentage points in a 100-trading day span ending on 1/28/1999. When the dot-com bubble began to burst, the inverse occurred, and Materials outperformed Technology by 71.3% in the 100 trading days ending 3/9/2001. Coming out of the Global Financial Crisis, the Financials sector roared off of a depressed base, leading to outperformance against the Communication Services sector of 89.7 ppts. In late February of 2021, the Energy sector began to bounce back after the demand shock in the industry began to abate, while the Utilities sector remained relatively weak, leading to a 100-day performance spread of 71.1 ppts. This year, the sky-rocketing price of oil has propelled energy stocks higher while the Communication Services sector has been hampered by concerns that a peak demand environment was reached in 2020 and 2021 while valuation multiples have simultaneously contracted (largely due to the Fed’s hawkish pivot) pushing the 100-trading day performance spread out to 82.7 ppts.

As investors, we must remain forward-looking. So, what typically happens after dramatic performance spreads are reached between the best and worst sectors? It’s a small sample size, but based on the previous five occurrences, investors should consider rotating out of the best performing sector (which in this case would be Energy) after the spread hits 70 percentage points and move into the worst performing sector (Communication Services).

Three months after these occurrences, the worst-performing sector over the prior 100 trading days has booked a median gain of 12.1%, which is nine ppts better than that of the best performing sector.  Six months later, the median performance of the worst-performing sector in the initial 100 trading days outperformed the best performing sector by 15.5 ppts. Interestingly, twelve months later, the best performing sector in the initial 100 trading days regained the lead over the worst-performing sector outperforming on a median basis by a margin of 17.2% to 8.3%.  In terms of consistency, three and six months later, the previously worst performing sector outperformed the best performing sector three out of five times, but a year later, the previously best performing sector outperformed the worst-performing sector four out of five times.  Click here to become a Bespoke premium member today!

S&P 500 forward performance... Can energy keep it up?

LIKS Report: 5/23/2022

Bespoke’s Little Known Stocks (LIKS) report highlights a company that may not be on the traditional radar of most investors. In this report, we provide an in-depth analysis of the little known stock, including industry insights, growth lever analysis, insights to the competitive landscape, equity performance, relative valuation, operational efficiency, pros & cons, and more. This week’s report is about a discount retailer that has the ability to benefit as household discretionary budgets compress.

Stock Ideas, Small Cap Stocks

As always, this report is for informational purposes only and is not a recommendation to buy or sell any specific securities.  Investors should do their own research and/or work with a professional when making investment decisions.  Highlighting a stock doesn’t mean we are bullish or bearish on it.  Our goal is simply to provide readers with facts to help them make informed decisions rather than just opinions.

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