Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.
The housing industry may have been the bane of the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) yesterday, with pending home sales dropping for a fifth straight month, but it came to the rescue of the market today and helped push the S&P higher once again.
We received a nearly overwhelming amount of homebuilder and construction data today, including building permit figures for September and October (if you recall, the government shutdown stopped the reporting of September's permit data), as well as the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index.
Building permits for September and October demonstrated respective month-over-month growth of 5.2% and 6.2% and handily surpassed economists' expectations, signaling that consumer and enterprise builders anticipate the construction market will remain robust with lending rates skirting near-historic lows.
In addition, the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index for the nation's 20 largest cities demonstrated a year-over-year price increase of 13.3%, which was also ahead of expectations. Homebuilders have done a relatively good job of keeping inventory under control, which has kept prices up despite mortgage loan originations dropping significantly since May.
If there was one downside report today, it was the consumer confidence reading for November falling to 70.4, from an October reading of 72.4 and below expectations. This suggests the holiday season could be tough for retailers.
Despite a more skittish consumer, the S&P 500 still advanced fractionally by 0.27 points (0.01%) to close at 1,802.75, just a hair from a new all-time high.
Topping the charts today was China-based online advertising company 58.com (NYSE:WUBA) which jumped 14.3% after two brokerage firms initiated coverage on the company. 58.com, which is often compared to Craigslist and has only been publicly traded for about a month, started with a rating of outperform at Pacific Crest with a $41 price target (23% upside from yesterday's close), and started with a buy rating at Citigroup with a price target of $48.10 (44% upside from yesterday's close). I can understand why investors are excited about an online classified website in rapidly growing China, but at more than 20 times sales and without trailing profits I might wait for a pullback before I share in this bullishness.
3-D printing and on-demand parts service provider Voxeljet (NYSE:VJET), which also very recently went public and has been extremely volatile of late, surged 14% despite a lack of company-specific news. 3-D printing of any form has been a hot topic recently as it holds the potential to dramatically transform the way businesses cycle through prototypes and innovative new ideas. While these printers cost a lot up front, they could also wind up saving large industrial companies a boatload of time and money over the long run. The downside, of course, is that many of these 3-D printing companies are brutally overhyped at the moment, and most don't have the bottom-line figures to support their lofty valuation. With Voxeljet trading at more than 400 times forward earnings, you may want to wait for an even more substantial pullback than we saw last week before considering pulling the trigger.
Finally, cloud-based human resource software applications provider Workday (NYSE:WDAY) vaulted 12.7% higher after reporting better-than-expected third-quarter results. For the quarter, Workday delivered a huge 76% increase in revenue to $127.9 million, with a narrower-than-expected loss of just $0.12 per share. By comparison, Wall Street anticipated revenue of $117.8 million and an EPS loss of $0.17. Workday also boosted its fourth-quarter guidance between $4 million and $9 million above estimates and received a handful of price-target bumps from analysts. Not to sound like a broken record, but this would be today's third instance of rapid growth with little bottom-line substance. Although businesses can find value in optimizing their workforce to decrease costs in today's environment, it's a bit worrisome that Workday continues to rise without turning in profitable quarters. Until Workday pushes into the black, I'd suggest sticking to the sidelines.
Fool contributor Sean Williams has no material interest in any companies mentioned in this article. You can follow him on CAPS under the screen name TMFUltraLong, track every pick he makes under the screen name TrackUltraLong, and check him out on Twitter, where he goes by the handle @TMFUltraLong.
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