Being an equity bear has been brutal for, oh, nearly eight years now. With the S&P up about 250% since bottoming in March 2009, equities have been, on the whole, raging higher, with some sectors in particular benefiting tremendously from the Trumpgasm. One area, though, seems to be recognizing a bitterly cold chill of reality, and that is retail.
Not everything retail is weak, of course, Amazon has had an astonishing run (and we’ll see if it holds together when they report next week), and some stocks such as Autozone (AZO) and O’Reilly Auto Parts (ORLY) have cranked out multi-hundred percent gains for years now. But many retail companies, particularly those having to do with clothing, have been getting whacked. Take, for instance, Abercrombie & Fitch, which I’ve picked on endlessly: it is actually lower than it was at the greatest depths of the financial crisis. For how many stocks could you make that statement?