When I’m looking for signals of a bottom in any sector, first and foremost will be the technicals, followed by rallies on bad news. Long before companies get back on track financially, their stock charts will have already had a big run as most of the bad news was built in. As a distant secondary indicator, I like to keep tabs on the insider buying habits of key executives, particularly the CFO and CEO.
These insiders know their company better than anyone and if they’re making a large bet, there is good reason to assume the prospects for the company in the future are bright. The financials have been beaten mercilessly here in 2008, with several big banks trading in single digits. Who would have thought that a Wachovia (WB) would be trading under 10 or that a Washington Mutual (WM) would hit nearly $3 bucks a share. Time will tell if those moves down were warranted, but many of these banks were well overdue for massive snap back rallies and rally they did. Many have doubled in just 5 to 6 trading days, including banking behemoth Wachovia (WB) which despite recording record losses, job cuts and a huge dividend cut, rallied again as traders bet on "the worst is over".
Also betting big on the company is new CEO Robert Steel which took over just about a month ago to inherit a mess he must feel he can clean up. Just hours ago, he made 3 large purchases of Wachovia stock totaling more than $10 million. That’s one heck of a gutsy move and it will probably pay off in a few years, but I always wonder what these guys are thinking when they’re timing their trades. I realize they aren’t technical analysts but with that kind of money on the line, maybe you should consult with one! Your stock has doubled in little over a week. Why not wait a few days for the short covering to diminish and the longs to lock in their profit and save yourself a few million?
At any rate, it’s a good sign for Wachovia over the long haul and financials do appear to be bottoming out, but I’m waiting for at least a 50% retracement of this move in financials to do some shopping
Disclaimer: no position in Wachovia, but may trade it at 10 or lower.