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Morning Commentary

Different Kind of Accommodation

By Charles Payne, CEO & Principal Analyst
1/31/2019 9:40 AM

Question of the Week

Should the government step in to curb Amazon's insatiable business appetite and even consider splitting the company?

Post your answer below.

“My colleagues and I have one overarching goal: To sustain the economic expansion”

“The case for raising rates has weakened somewhat”

Jerome ‘Jay’ Powell

-Chairman, Federal Reserve Bank

The Federal Reserve gave Wall Street a great big hug yesterday, sending the market into overdrive and naysayers heading for the hills. The fact of the matter is Jay Powell tripped up this market and sent stocks through a trapdoor back in October. The continued efforts to clean up that mess are warranted in my upcoming book. In fact, I’m cheering the fact Powell recognized his mistake(s) and has worked overtime to make it right.

Moreover, there is enough fragility in the economy, especially in housing (mortgage applications were down again last week), which is lurching into a panic territory. The Fed should hike rates, according to the data, but the notion of being on autopilot was plain nuts. Powell also acknowledged the global economic slowdown on headwinds, including Brexit, trade war, and another shutdown.

On that note, Chairman Powell said the shutdown and the trade war haven’t had any material effects on the economy. That probably angered the financial media more than this new form of accommodation.

They ran their heads very hard against wrong ideas and persisted in trying to fit the circumstances to the ideas instead of trying to extract ideas, from the circumstances.

― Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

The Fed has a history of springing into action to save the economy and the stock market, mostly to preserve the wealth of the ultra-wealthy. It’s commonly referred to as being “accommodative.” This trick is usually done by adjusting rates lower. However, in recent years, the Fed has created a whole new set of “tools” to put fiat money into the system. 

Fast forward to last year.  Jay Powell comes into the job, thinking high and noble, and that he will find a way to trim the Fed’s balance sheet and engineer a soft-landing for the economy.  Until a couple of months ago, he was sure he was doing the right thing. So, what changed?  Was it public shaming from the Oval Office, or was it the free-falling stock market?

Maybe it was neither one.

Perhaps Powell & Co. extracted an idea from circumstances and realized they were too aggressive in the first place. I think that’s the real story, even if the media contradicts everything Powell said in that question-and-answer session. The Fed was clumsy, the economy is slowing, and there is enough fragility to justify a more deliberate approach to the rate policy.

Sometimes accommodation can mean just being cool.

Earnings Parade

Big earnings reports continued last night with Facebook (FB) being the most intriguing, considering recent business woes and never-ending scandals. The good news for the company, in addition to a big beat, is the needle on users that have begun to move again, after stalling for several quarters.

Active Monthly Users (quarter-to-quarter)

There were several other big beats and some results, which were mixed but still encouraging.  Nonetheless, Facebook will be the stock of the morning. Yesterday, the stock rallied hard despite the latest scandal, which probably isn’t a scandal, but management has made it too easy for the kind of pile- on that comes with each news story.

The top gainer in Communication Services (FB) is significantly more important to the sector than Alphabet (GOOGL), Netflix (NFLX), and Disney (DIS). If initial gains hold, it could be a huge session for the sector and the broad market.

In Technology, Microsoft (MSFT) edged lower, although cloud revenue was very impressive, considering a big slowdown in the Cloud at Intel (INTC) and Nvidia (NVDA). 

Then there’s Consumer Discretionary, which enjoyed a great session, led by Royal Caribbean Cruises (RCL) as the largest percentage gainer. However, Amazon (AMZN), which really moves the needle, will report earnings after the close. A big beat there will probably be enough to get major indices over the last remaining hurdles, and completely shift the urgency of being in the market rather than camping out on the sidelines.

S&P 500 Index


Communication Services (XLC)


Consumer Discretionary (XLY)


Consumer Staples (XLP)


Energy (XLE)


Financials (XLF)


Health Care (XLV)


Industrials (XLI)


Materials (XLB)


Real Estate (XLRE)


Technology (XLK)


Utilities (XLU)



Portfolio Approach

We took some profits yesterday not only in part to preserve large profits, but also to focus on value. The market is on the cusp of a big breakout, led by some of last year’s biggest losers, and now the biggest values. If you aren't a current subscriber to our Hotline service, call you r account representative or click here to get started today.

Communication Services

Consumer Discretionary

Consumer Staples












Real Estate











Today’s Session

Equities have been slipping this morning with mixed reactions to various earnings announcements.  All eyes are on Amazon and scuttlebutt on the U.S. – China trade talks (early this morning the word was China not budging on key issues).  Also, all eyes will be on the earnings from Amazon at the close of trading. The stock got hit three months ago when it offered lower 4 quarter guidance versus 2017 (they achieved 20% growth, but the year before, they achieved 30% growth).  

Is Amazon too Big?

Amazon has gained a reputation as an industry-killer with a veracious appetite, and no industry is too big or too small, including selling live Christmas trees.

With that in mind, many are saying something must be done to slow down this behemoth before the company puts too many companies out of business and too many people out of work.

That debate continued to rage last week after a report in the Wall Street Journal of Amazon plans to cut down on extra delivery fees to lure customers from FedEx and UPS, and now, many analysts are wondering if these giants can survive and which will eventually be bought by Amazon.

But is this just creative destruction that ultimately leads to better products and services for end-users, and is Amazon actually doing business a favor by sparking them to be better?

Amazon has been deadly in newer industries with smaller companies.

Web Printing

Amazon launched “Prints” on September 21, 2016, sending Shutter Fly shares down 14%.

Reaction to Amazon



Shutter Fly (SFLY)




Video Conferencing

Amazon announced video conferencing on February 14, 2017, sending shares of Log Me In down 9% and the stock never recovered.

Reaction to Amazon



Log Me In




Giant Slayer

But its Amazon’s move into larger multi-billion dollar industries with long established players that is rattling many in business and government about the company’s power to not just disrupt, but possibly destroy.


One the day of the Wholesale takeover, grocery stocks were rocked, including United Foods down 26% during the session

Reaction to Amazon



United Natural Foods (UNFI)



Kroger (KR)





On November 7, 2017, Amazon launched its furniture brand and Wayfair was hit 7% and William Sonoma 5%.

Reaction to Amazon



Wayfair (W)



William Sonoma (WSM)




On May 17, 2017, reports Amazon is interested in being a major player in the pharmaceutical world sent shares of Walgreens and CVS tumbling.

Reaction to Amazon



Walgreens (WBA)



CVS Health Corp (CVS)



Packet Delivery

Rumors of Amazon entering package delivery first reported on January 12, 2016, pressured shares of FedEx and UPS, and while both are higher since, they have significantly underperformed the market.

Reaction to Amazon



FedEx (FDX)



United Parcel Service (UPS)




America the Mightiest

Speaking of UPS, the company posted strong earnings driven by robust gains in America, where more customers chose the premium next day delivery service.

This has been a recurring theme all earnings season, the United States economy is being driven by American consumers remaining buoyant.


Absolutely yes. This makes ma bell look small for those that recall that.

David Howley on 1/31/2019 9:47:35 AM

Karin Pereira on 1/31/2019 10:09:01 AM
The 2 day prime delivery is key in keeping it's customers. Those that want to compete have to equal that - at first for free to gain leverage. Amazon has been an excellent catalyst for the consumer.

Patricia Heng on 1/31/2019 10:44:49 AM
We should let capitalism work. In time the system will adjust as it did for the industrial revolution and the information and technology revolution. For now Amazon is serving better for most people and isn't that what we are to do as people; to server others best? Other companies will have to adjust and adjust they will as some like Walmart and Target are doing. If and when people hurt, it is not because of capitalism, it is because of greed, envy, cheating and stealing for self-importance and self-interest. This is the best argument to correct everything and that is that man's heart must become more loving of God and others to provide better motivations toward God, people, and money. It is the love of money that is the root of evil. And who has the most money generally? The elites, and who are they, the leftists who are the least generous, the least charitable and the ones who are aggressive enemies of liberty and freedom of the people. People and children need to know who God is and why His Word, the Bible is such a storehouse of riches and such a treasure given us. Schools need to once again teach the Bible. Seminaries need to do a better job of training the clergy for most so called churches, are a spiritual waste land. As the churches go, so goes a nation. Look at our country as an example of that.

William L. Baumner III on 1/31/2019 10:52:36 AM
Large Corps have successfully meet Amazon's challenge. It's the smaller Co's that have been hurt the most.
So Restrict Amazon's new initiatives only if they compete against brand new start up's, post a certain date, and that remain below a simple formula of Gross Sales\Net Profit\Market Cap. Amazon won't care that much.

Mackcap on 1/31/2019 11:00:13 AM
Yes......They have become to powerful in all aspects of our lives. I don't trust them to use the amount of power they have appropriately by having so much personal information. If they haven't already reached the point of becoming to big to fail the are getting close.

Steve Wells on 1/31/2019 11:06:07 AM
I strongly believe in competition as the way to keep price and quality of product in line. However, it seems to me that Amazon got a lot of tax payer freebies to get to where it is. If true, all of that should be repaid at risky business rates and then level the playing without a lot of government intervention. One size fits all is never a good approach in my opinion.

Robert Clanton on 1/31/2019 11:11:51 AM
As a conservative; one of the biggest problems I see is Jeff Bezos and his hate of President Trump and he holds the bully pulpit as owner of the Washington Post.

Glenn Bogle on 1/31/2019 11:57:43 AM
Its really nuts and today a writer in the WAPO admits the media is hiring too many Trump haters. That's rich. Washington Post writer realizes national media are hiring too many anti-Trump people https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/columnists/washington-post-writer-realizes-national-media-are-hiring-too-many-anti-trump-people

Charles Payne on 1/31/2019 12:00:59 PM
No, let the market decide.

Bob on 1/31/2019 12:18:21 PM
Two principles, when applied in combination, are the key to success: Capitalism and the Golden Rule.

Bill Zilngheim on 1/31/2019 12:26:17 PM
the govt did that to MSFT and how long did it take the company to recover?

judith lundquist on 1/31/2019 12:29:55 PM
Jeff Bezos will SOON have a more "level playing field" upon which to base his aggressive, insatiable desire to dominate EVERY segment of the business world when his soon-to-be Ex-WIFE walks away with half (perhaps MORE??) of their (ahem) joint enterprise? Then again, let's see how "persuasive" and "accommodative" HE can be in convincing HER that his FUTURE intentions are "good." Therein, in my humble opinion, lies the future of Amazon...thank you very much. :-))

James Warlin on 1/31/2019 1:56:45 PM
lets see , hey want to take a company thats making it cheaper for the people to buy things and you want to have our politicians break it up , so that companys dont have to try to make things cheaper . Is that the american way? Didnt work for the guys that made buggy whips or the iceman or the milkman . please stop .i thought we broke them up when they overcharged because they had no competition and they could get away with it.i love getting things cheaper

john benanti on 1/31/2019 4:22:57 PM
No. Unless Amazon is operating out of bounds regarding US law. Other retailers over time had opportunity to retail as Amazons model. Well, look at Sears; they had a catalog of most goods over a 100 years ago. If they only knew. As long as competitive pricing across market indicators shows it's fair, and not being pushed artificially high, Amazon should not be treated like the "Robber Barron's" of yesteryear.

Mitchell Schiff on 1/31/2019 4:28:13 PM

Leonard P Porter on 1/31/2019 5:51:15 PM
I think Amazon may be performing a useful public service by testing the limits of the new technology... Isn't this how innovation get started...

Andrew B Newallo on 1/31/2019 6:31:09 PM
did the shooting in Aurora Il occur in a gun free zone again...

Tim McLaughlin on 2/16/2019 11:05:45 AM
Charles, remember Francis Newton Stacy said 25,000 was huge resistance & that we had to get a close above 25,781, then you can look for the stock market to go up to the next resistance level of 27,000!! She said "25,000 had to be in the rear view mirror".
Did we accomplish that with Friday's close of $25,883 ??

Mark Runkel on 2/17/2019 8:26:24 AM

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