Schaeffer's Outside the Box Blog
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Yesterday we learned that we are best advised not to tinker too much with our exchange-traded fund (ETF) positions. Today's "lesson?" Maybe we should ignore news altogether.

Chuck Jaffe on MarketWatch took on an interesting project in July. He took a snapshot of the MarketWatch front page at 5 p.m. each day. And here are some of the headers he found.

  • 'This is not an average, typical or normal bull market' [expert] says

  • Today's bubbles aren't like the famous bubbles of the past

  • If ever the stock market flashed a 'sell' signal, it's now

  • 'Rotten rotation' could signal bull market is living on borrowed time

  • [Expert]: U.S. stocks will be 'very disappointing' for 10 years

  • A stock correction is coming, then more years of gains; [expert]

  • [Expert] There's a big hole in the bull case for stocks

  • We're in the third biggest stock bubble in U.S. history

  • Not much fallout from Gaza, Ukraine? Wait a year, says [expert]

OK, those are some of the bearish ones. What about the flip side? Well…

I would have included something from an expert suggesting a big gain ahead, but there weren't any of those atop the pages I looked at (they could have been there at other times of day).

Well, if everyone's bearish, time to get bullish, right?

If only the markets were that easy.

I think, in reality, it's just the nature of the current media backdrop. The bear case is almost always intellectually more appealing. Saying stocks are going to continue to slowly grind higher sounds about as boring as … well … watching stocks slowly grind higher. Making a case for something different just plays better, and kind of puts a value-add to your opinion. I mean, who's paying to hear someone say "same old, same old?"

And calling a top and a trend change? Yowza -- if you time it right, you'll have instant financial TV and Twittersphere fame.

Speaking of Twitter, for whatever reason, it's a medium that's tended to attract more perma-bear (or, really, perma-skeptic) sorts than anything else. "Zero Hedge" is probably the most "famous," but there are plenty of others. And before Twitter, it was the financial blogs that tended to lean that way.

And don't forget, MarketWatch itself is looking for eyeballs. Bearishness just plays better.

I tend to view all this stuff in a contra lens. So, yes, hearing "everyone" is bearish would make me bullish. I just value indicators more if they are backed by actual numbers. Several of the people quoted above may read bearish, but in reality, they're not necessarily reallocating their money in any way. If they're all buying puts or CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) futures, then yes, I'd view that in a contra lens. Otherwise, I think it's more just the nature of beast.

Disclaimer: Mr. Warner's opinions expressed above do not necessarily represent the views of Schaeffer's Investment Research.


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Remember when everybody made fun of Snapchat for turning down Facebook Inc's (NASDAQ:FB) $3 billion offer? Well, funny story.

Snapchat Inc., the company that makes a mobile application for disappearing photo messages, is in talks with investors including Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. for a round of financing that may value the company at $10 billion, people with knowledge of the situation said.

The talks are ongoing and the terms of the funding may change, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the talks are private.

If the funding is completed, Snapchat would join a small group of technology startups that are valued in the eleven-digit range. Amid a Silicon Valley financing boom, companies including house-sharing app Airbnb Inc. and file-sharing company Dropbox Inc. have raised money at $10 billion valuations. In June, car-booking app Uber Technolgies Inc. [sic] raised $1.2 billion at a record-breaking valuation of $17 billion.

According to the post, people send more than 700 million "snaps" per day.

I'm not sure how you attach ads to something that disappears so quickly, but then again, I've never seen Snapchat, so I have no idea.

I do like the concept, though. Take my thought the other day that everyone loading up on puts and CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) futures into small dips didn't sound that bearish. If I could zap that 10 seconds after anyone read it, I could deny I ever said it!

I may be out of luck, though, as apparently, there is a free and cheap app that can capture and save images sent over Snapchat.

Clearly, Lenny Dykstra believes that we all have a Snapchat feature built into our brains that makes us forget his past history as a complete stock-market fraud (and a myriad of other offenses). He's apparently out of jail and back promoting his stock-picking "prowess."

Okay, seriously, about that Snapchat. If there's one thing 99.9% of us are unqualified for, it's putting the value of companies like this into perspective. On the surface, it sounds utterly ridiculous. But what do we really know? Smart people are banking serious money on it. It's going to go public at some point in the next few years, and then, we're going to make fun of the even nuttier valuation.

And then, we'll watch as there is over-demand on day one, and it goes even higher. Then, they'll list options three days later, and I'll surely write a post pointing out the difficulty in pricing implied volatility based on a few days of trading history. Yet, people will manage -- and then we'll start focusing on the next hot name in the pipeline, and comparing it to the 1999-2000 tech bubble.

So I say, let's change the whole cycle now. Let's list options before stocks go public! Snapchat July 2016 40-strike calls … what's the offer?

Disclaimer: Mr. Warner's opinions expressed above do not necessarily represent the views of Schaeffer's Investment Research.


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