Whirlpool Corporation (WHR), Saia Inc (SAIA), AEP Industries (AEPI): Stocks Showing Serious Bubble Symptoms

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“Maybe history does not repeat, but it certainly rhymes!”

-Mark Twain

The market’s present status quo is one of omnipresent exuberance, characterized by an overall bullish investing mood and supported by the Dow, DAX and other indices continuously hitting record highs. Ever since the trough of March 2009, the only direction for markets has been up and counting. With the VIX around 11, i.e. the lowest level since December 2006, investors are being lulled into safety and risk taking.

Whirlpool Corporation (NYSE:WHR)

Neither earlier nor the most recent economic data confirm the much anticipated and hoped for recovery, but this does not seem to spoil investors’ appetite in the least nor hamper the continued upsurge of bourses worldwide. Even the worrying fact that margin lending has now reached an alarming record high of $384 billion compared to prior highs of $381 billion back in July 2007, and similar levels in early 2000 before ending the dot.com and housing bubbles with a loud bang and sizable declines, does not seem to scare anybody in the context of the ongoing revelry.

How can one stay sober in a time of increased expectations when the best is yet to come?

The plot thickens

Most recently, various experts have started outdoing one another in predicting new highs for the markets. One of the first augurs to point to heaven was Asoka Woehrmann, Co-CIO of Deutsche Bank’s asset & wealth management, predicting the DAX would reach 9,200 by year’s end. Adding to that he proclaimed that, “while I had been skeptical all the time before, this time I know it’s for real!” Sounds a bit like, “this time it’s different,” does it not?! Then, revered professor of finance, Jeremy Siegel, sees a continuation of the uptrend and the Dow hitting 17,000 for 2013. And, to top it all off — surprise, surprise — renowned and at times prescient, Nouriel Roubini aka Dr. Doom, has miraculously turned into a Dr. Boom forecasting the markets to continue their ascent. Not only has the professor cum turncoat become a market bull, now he even confirms a time corridor of precisely two years of perfect bliss before a serious downturn ensues.

This actually means that you will be able to put your money in stocks, your mind at ease and enjoy watching them increase your net worth. It really does not get better than that! Somehow this is reminiscent of many a Chinese retail investor’s stern belief during the 2007 bull market that the Chinese stock market cannot and will not go down, simply because “the government and the party said so.”

There you have it: a banker (an expert at investing OPM, i.e. Other People’s Money, not his own) and two brilliant economists (theoretically and conceptually that is), reassuring the gullible investing public that the very best is yet to come.

Have you ever been wondering why these experts could never be bothered to monetize their sagacity and wisdom about the markets in practice? Why is it that, instead of entertaining the media and followers, they do not simply start their own hedge funds to rake in gazillions in the process? Whenever you get overall consensus is when it gets dangerous, really dangerous. New record highs continuously perpetuating emotional hype & euphoria force rational analysis and sober decision making to take a back seat. Before waiting for the tide to recede and see who is naked, let’s be preemptive by looking at:

Select stocks with serious bubble symptoms

Whirlpool Corporation (NYSE:WHR) is a leading home appliance & tool company that has won the title of most admired company in the home furnishing and equipment category as per FORTUNE’s 2013 ranking. It just got an upgrade to “Hold” from “Sell” by S&P Capital IQ. Just how you can “Hold” something after you have “Sold“ it, well, is again another story…

Saia Inc (NASDAQ:SAIA) is a company that provides trucking and logistic services across the United States. It has just declared a 3-for-2 stock split in order to make its stock more affordable to the investing public.

Snap-on Incorporated (NYSE:SNA) is an appliance & tool company, a manufacturer and marketer of diagnostic equipment, repair information and solution systems for professional users.

What do these companies share in common, apart from being cyclicals that move in tandem with an expanding and contracting economy?

They all are trading around all-time, multi decades’ historical highs, outperforming the S&P by a super large margin during the last 12 months.

WHR  + 108.3%

SAIA  + 143.0%

SNA   +   56.4%

S&P   +   26.9%

While this is not too surprising given the general, broad upsurge of the markets, it is very interesting to search for the exact reasons behind these mighty outperformances.

Top line development

Company REV2008 REV2012 VARabs VARrel REVQ1-12 REVQ1-13 VARabs VARrel
Whirpool 18,907 18,143 -1,764 -  4.1% 4,348 4,248 -100 - 2.3%
Saia 1,030 1,099 + 69 + 6.6% 269 274 +   3 +1.8%
Snap 2,853 2,938 + 85 + 2.9% 735 742 +   7 +0.9%

Unit: $million

Share appreciation

Company PRICE2008 PRICE2012 VARabs VARrel PRICEQ1-12 PRICEQ1-13 VARabs VARrel
Whirpool $ 81.6 $101.8 +$20.2 + 24.7% $76.8 $118.0 +$41.2 +  54.0%
Saia $ 12.0 $  23.0 +$11.0 + 92.0% $17.1 $ 34.8 +$17.7 +104.0%
Snap $ 39.4 $  79.9 +$39.6 +100.5% $61.0 $ 82.7 +$21.7 +  35.5%

The YTD 05/13 prices attained even higher record highs at $128, $47.8 and $91 respectively.

Fundamental growth and share prices grossly out of sync

As is very obvious, there is a huge discrepancy between real top line growth rates and share price appreciation. During the past, long four and a half years, these companies produced negative or dismal growth at best. The latest quarterly numbers show even lower growth rates. Let me rub it in: These companies have basically grown by zero, zilch, nada, null, ноль, 零! Yet, at the same time, their shares increased in value by double, even triple digits. During the last business year this huge gap continued to widen even further!

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