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Stop this stock market. I want to get off!


The gut-wrenching gyrations on Wall Street make me think of a roller coaster I used to ride when I was a teen: The Great American Scream Machine.

The ups and downs of the market are whipsawing investors to the point where it feels like you need to take a motion sickness pill before looking at a stock chart.

Case in point? There’s now a group of nearly 100 high profile companies in the Russell 3000 index that Bespoke Investment Group has dubbed the “50/50 Club.” The stocks are both down 50% from their 52-week highs AND also up 50% from their 52-week lows.

That’s volatility with a capital V.

You probably won’t be surprised to learn that one of the most prominent companies on this list is GameStop, which has become the quintessential meme stock.

GameStop has been boosted by fans on social media who believe in new management’s turnaround strategy but also pushed lower by short sellers who question the company’s valuation.

Shares are down about 65% from their peak but still remain more than 4,400% off their 52-week low.

“If the performance of GameStop this year has shown us anything, it is that it’s been a crazy year for the stock market,” the Bespoke analysts noted in a report about the 50/50 stocks.

But GameStop isn’t the only well-known stock that’s been bungee jumping this year.

Media giants ViacomCBS and Discovery, which were dragged down by the implosion of prominent family office Archegos Capital Management, are also on the 50/50 list. (CNN owner AT&T announced earlier this month that its WarnerMedia unit will merge with Discovery.)

Covid-19 vaccine maker Novavax, software firm and bitcoin bull MicroStrategy, online insurer Lemonade, e-commerce clothing company Stitch Fix, Bed Bath & Beyond and LaCroix owner National Beverage are some of the other companies in the 50/50 group.

These stomach-churning moves may be unsettling. But investors need to get used to them. High profile stocks are going to continue to get whipsawed.

“There are so many retail investors in the market,” said Matt Stucky, equities portfolio manager at Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management Company. “There has been more episodic volatility that has captured a lot of attention.”

Inflation worries aren’t helping either. Investors are alternating between fears that the Federal Reserve will taper bond purchases and raise rates sooner than expected and hopes that more vaccinations and people returning to work will lead to sustained economic and profit growth.

“The period we are in is so unprecedented because of the magnitude of last year’s market drop and the rebound in the past few months. It doesn’t surprise me to see weird numbers with some individual companies,” said Michael Reynolds, vice president of investment strategy at Glenmede.

“The volatility also shows how difficult it is to predict economic variables and earnings,” Reynolds added. “We’re on a path to some semblance of normalcy … but there will be hiccups.”

Apple’s rivals may never be able to catch up to its new chip

Early in the testing phase of Apple’s M1 chipset, the processor was installed in a batch of Mac computers and given to staffers working on applications that demanded heavy processing power.

It was the first time Apple had made its own chip for any of its computers, shifting away from years of using a one-size-fits-all option from Intel.

After multiple teams tested the devices for a few hours while working on tasks, they reported lightning-fast performance but nearly all flagged an apparent problem. The MacBook Pro’s battery indicator, featured on the upper right hand corner of the computers, was broken. It had barely moved despite running power-hungry programs, the company told my colleague Samantha Murphy Kelly.

The gag, of course, is that the battery indicator was working just fine. The M1 chip was so efficient, according to Apple, that it showed no real strain — one of several major selling points for products that now carry the chip.

On Friday, the company launched its first iMac desktop and iPad Pro line with M1 (the M1 MacBook Air, 13-inch MacBook Pro and Mac mini shipped late last year). Early reviews applauded the models for unmatched speeds, long-lasting batteries and better graphics, all due in part to the processor.

Now, Apple has a big advantage over its competitors.

“The main reason it’ll take other PC vendors a while to catch up to Apple is because most of them don’t control the whole stack of hardware and software,” said Jitesh Ubrani, a research manager at market research firm IDC. “This tight integration between the two is Apple’s main advantage.”

Up next

Monday: Earnings from Lordstown Motors

Tuesday: US new home sales; Consumer confidence data; Earnings from AutoZone, Intuit, Nordstrom, Toll Brothers and Urban Outfitters

Wednesday: EIA crude oil inventories; Earnings from Abercrombie & Fitch, Dick’s Sporting Goods, American Eagle, Nvidia and Williams-Sonoma

Thursday: US unemployment claims; Earnings from Best Buy, Dollar General, Dollar Tree, Medtronic, Costco, Dell, Gap and Salesforce.

Friday: US personal income and spending; PCE Price Index; Earnings from Big Lots

Article Topic Follows: Biz/Tech

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