I always know I’m on to something when I get a barrage of hate mail. Actually, “hate mail” is a bit anachronistic. These days, hating is done via snarky Twitter posts and comments at the bottom of articles (take a look at this StockTwits exchange as a rather tame example).
While this is not quantifiable by any stretch, I do view it as something of a contrarian indicator. Investors only feel compelled to write hate mail when they feel insecure and have allowed their emotions to take control. In these cases, it’s generally safe to take the other side of the bet.
At any rate, I’ve taken a fair bit of abuse for the comments I made on JC Penney (JCP) in an interview on Thursday. I noted that while CEO Mike Ullman is making a heroic effort to save the company—even putting a million dollars of his own money into the stock—it’s almost certainly too late. Same-store sales picked up last month, but the year-ago comps were abysmal and the company made no mention of its margins. Gross margins have been in free fall for the past year…before the Black Friday discounts started.
But the most distressing aspect for a value investor is that JC Penney has already posted its best real estate properties as collateral in return for much needed short-term financing. Penney is an unprofitable retailer burning through its cash with little left to pawn. It’s time to go short.
Action to take: Short JC Penney at above $8. Plan to take profits at $4.00 or lower. Cover your short if the stock rises above $10.
This article first appeared on TraderPlanet.
Charles Lewis Sizemore, CFA, is the editor of Macro Trend Investor and chief investment officer of the investment firm Sizemore Capital Management. Click here to receive his FREE weekly e-letter covering market insights, global trends, and the best stocks and ETFs to profit from today’s exciting megatrends.