A Few Irrational Moves on Wall Street Today

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over daily movements, we do like to keep an eye on market changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

Some very intelligent individuals may still argue that the markets are rational, but each and every day we can easily find a number of stock moves that can be chalked up to irrational thinking. A number of those moves are due to irrational behavior in the past and the current day's price change is investors realizing the previously made mistake and fixing the miss pricing today, while other times the irrational behavior is happening today as a stock will move dramatically lower or higher because of a small and none materialistic change of some sort. The length and severity of these irrational moments can be days, weeks, months, or simply hours.

But noticing them and learning from them can help you become a better investor for a number of different reasons. First and foremost is that when you understand these types of things happen to other stocks, then you will be somewhat prepared when they happen to stocks you own and hopefully you won't fall prey to the irrational behavior but be able to take advantage of it. This is the next reason.

Buying shares when the market has mispriced them on the low end is the best time buy. These "buying opportunities" are essential to maximizing your investment returns and overtime will help your portfolio grow to its full potential.

So let's take a look at a few stocks that displayed some irrational behavior today.

Shares of TripAdvisor (NASDAQ: TRIP  ) rose 3.11% while Orbitz Worldwide (NYSE: OWW  ) increased by 7.82% today. The moves higher come after neither company reported earnings. News pertaining to the stocks were limited to the companies being mentioned a few times since Expedia (NASDAQ: EXPE  ) reported earnings yesterday after the closing bell and shares rose more than 18% today. While Expedia had a great quarter in which revenue and earnings per share both beat estimates, the idea that this is somehow a good thing for TripAdvisor or Orbitz is mind-boggling, but that is exactly what seems to have happened today.

Hence, the irrational move here is that investors got excited about the travel industry and pushed shares of TripAdvisor and Orbitz Worldwide higher for no factual reason today. While TripAdvisor is in the travel industry, it doesn't do the same things as Expedia, so there should be very little crossover. As for Orbitz, it is expected to report its own earnings on November 5 and if it disappoints, shares will likely be down more than double digits after today's irrational rally.  

As we move on to the next irrational move of the day, I want to make it clear that the fact that the shares fell is not irrational. Instead, it is the amount in which they fell that is irrational. Shares of Avon Products (NYSE: AVP  ) fell a mind-blowing 21.87% today. The reason for the decline is that it reported earnings today, which missed expectations as revenue shrank in North America and sales reps declined by 16%. Furthermore, it informed investors that regulators and the Department of Justice declined the $12 million settlement amount management had offered to end the bribery investigation. The company has been contacted by the SEC since the offer was rejected and given a proposed settlement amount much larger than what Avon previously offered to pay. Furthermore (and the most concerning) was that management went further to say that its "earnings, cash flow, liquidity, financial condition, and ongoing business would be materially adversely affected" if the Department of Justice sought a similar penalty amount to what the SEC proposed.  

 As I mentioned, the fact that shares fell is completely understandable, but after reading everything that the company tossed onto investors' laps today, what's irrational is that anyone would buy shares of this stock today and that a 20% move seems to be a little weak. Not only is the company seeing sales decline and the number of sales reps shrinking at an alarming rate, but it is under investigation by a number of legal and regulatory entities that seem to have a legitimate case since Avon at one time was willing to pay $12 million to end the investigation. On top of that, management fells that if both the SEC and DOJ propose similar penalties, the company will be "materially adversely affected." While we still don't fully know what the SEC asked for or what the DOJ will be looking for, this is not likely going to turn out well for Avon and as the earnings release indicated, the company is not firing on all cylinders. 

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