Insights & Advice

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Markets Tread Water

Volume was thin, volatility high, and despite all the excitement over the LinkedIn IPO, the averages finished little changed from the levels of last week. This is a market that requires patience and fortitude.

LinkedIn IPO connected investors with big bucks

By now, you probably have had your fill of LinkedIn stories. For those who haven’t caught up, all you need to know is that the professional networking company went public on Thursday at $45/share and proceeded to more than double by the end of the day. It now has a valuation greater than one third of the companies that make up the S&P 500 Index, making billionaires of its founder and many of its staff.

A few analysts expect LinkedIn’s IPO to be just a taste of things to come. The big four in this space– Facebook, Groupon, Twitter and Zynga– haven’t set a date for accessing the public markets but are all making noises that suggest future IPOs. Some hope that LinkedIn will revitalize the IPO market, which has been lackluster at best so far this year.

 Other analysts fret that the overnight $9 billion market capitalization of LinkedIn is reminiscent of the companies that went public during the Dot Com boom. And we all know how that turned out. I suspect that, like the stock market in general, the price action of LinkedIn simply reflects the fact that too much money is chasing too few investments led by the “hot money” folks who have abandoned commodities and are looking for the next big play.

At some point rational behavior will prevail and LinkedIn will trade at a valuation that will better reflect its fundamentals. Until then, I will watch the show from the sidelines.

As for commodities, the prices of silver, gold, grains and base metals are trading like yo-yos in the hands of elephants. In the energy space, oil is fast closing in on $95/BBL. Don’t try to be a hero and trade these price movements. Leave that to the professionals, who, by the way, are losing as much as they’re making in these markets. There will come a time when commodities finish falling. Usually, prices will tend to flatten out and volumes dry up at the bottom. That will be the time to look at these investments once again.

In the meantime, the dollar’s strength is hurting U.S. stocks as is Euro land’s continued difficulties with the PIGS economies. Friday it was the turn of the Greeks, whose sovereign debt rating was reduced further to “B +, highly speculative”. It appears that default is inevitable for Greece, (something I predicted would happen over a year ago). The trick will be to engineer a default without actually labeling it as such, something bankers and politicians are quite adept at doing after the last few years.

As for the markets, they remain in up trends. The “sell in May and go away” crowd would have you abandon the markets until October. Although the May Play works some of the time, I don’t believe this year will be one of them. Stick with the markets and have patience.

Posted in A Few Dollars More, At the Market