A three-month grace period for consumer-oriented imports worked wonders on the market's mood yesterday, with nearly 90% of the market rebounding.
Admittedly, we love a day when the overwhelming majority of BMR stocks surge. But we suspect that this isn't really about the White House deciding to pause new tariffs on a lot of crucial Chinese products until December. Left to its own devices, the market normally delivers at least one up day of this magnitude every couple of weeks.
Instead, this really looks like Wall Street got too wrapped around fear in the face of declining interest rates, a strong domestic economy, and corporate earnings that are at worst flat (and in many corners of the market a whole lot better). Now that the tariff threat has receded for a bit, people who dumped their stocks probably feel more than a little sheepish. After all, before the trade war got hot again, the S&P 500 was chasing records 3% above where it is now. That was only a few weeks ago.
For that matter, several key stocks still have 10% or more to keep rallying before they recover levels we know they can reach. Look at Apple (AAPL: $209, up 4% this week) for an example of how this plays out. Last fall, the giant of Cupertino was racing up to $230 before tough trade talk fed into an even tougher iPhone upgrade cycle and blasted the stock. Here we are nearly a year later and Apple was back at $220 before the tariff threat escalated at the beginning of August. There's still a long way to go.
After all, tariffs are no real challenge for Apple. The company will find a way to source phones from approved trading partners as efficiently as possible. Phones assembled in China were under the shadow, but Taiwan, Vietnam, Korea and other countries have factories too. Even if there's a little drag from import fees, the company's notoriously price-tolerant fans would pay the surcharge.
Nonetheless, rolling back the tariff on phones made in China through mid-December gives Apple the best shot possible on boosting sales this season. Trade policy hasn't turned into a drag on the company's domestic numbers, at least in the crucial months after the new iPhone launches at the end of September. In that all-important holiday quarter, it's going to be business as usual.
We suspect that's why Apple got one of the biggest rallies on the S&P 500 yesterday, and the biggest in the Dow. What's important is that the sentiment that drove the stock lower has now swung in the other direction. And Tim Cook and company have an open field to do their best in the coming season.
Likewise, we don't see the logic in Dollar Tree (DLTR: $95, up 5%) keeping pace with Apple yesterday. While suspending tariffs on consumer products helps price-conscious Retailers like this keep their customers happy on products from China, that's really Walmart's problem. Dollar Tree doesn't sell a lot of clothes, iPhones or electronics. They sell personal care products, snacks, seasonal decorations, all of which management has worked hard to source from elsewhere in Asia as well as Latin America. As far as we were concerned, tariffs were a paper threat to this company. But at the end of the day we'll take the rally now that it's here.
We could go down the BMR list and come up with example after example of stocks that were unfairly beaten down by trade fears now rebounding to a more reasonable level. The real story isn't the tariffs. It's the mood swinging. In the next few months, we expect it to swing back and forth again and again. As long as the long trend behind the noise points up, BMR subscribers will reap the rewards.