IS THIS THE BUFFETT-BOTTOM?

Warren Buffett said he was buying stocks this past week. Should you? Well, it depends. If you buy stocks on a regular basis as part of a disciplined strategy - say in your 401(k) plan - then keep buying. The idea of buying stocks over the long haul is not only to buy when the market is soaring, but more importantly, to also buy when the market is falling. The key element is your time horizon. If you don't need the money for the next 5-10 years, then you stay invested and keep buying.

Here's the problem. Fewer and fewer of Americans buy and hold. We've seen many of our strongest companies buckle. Most financial companies have been brought to their knees during this financial crisis and the crisis is threatening to take many other sectors with it. American International Group (AIG) was thought to be a darling among Wall Street analysts. We don't need to detail the woes of AIG, just suffice it to say that no company is immune to failure. So if you're of the buy-and-hold mentality, remain diversified.

I am not of the buy-and-hold mentality and never will be. Technical analysis is where it's at. When the first signs of technical weakness appear, beware. Let sectors regain relative strength before committing back into the group. This very simple strategy avoids major carnage and it's the major carnage that wrecks portfolios, not the minor losses from timing a trade incorrectly.

Charts 1 and 2 below highlight, in hindsight, two major sector breakdowns in our market over the last few years. Both are heavily responsible for the technical damage the entire market is suffering right now.

We need housing to begin to show signs of improvement before the major indices are likely to recover.

While I have tremendous respect for Warren Buffett as an investor, he will admittedly tell everyone that he can't time market bottoms. I will wait for more technical signs before becoming aggressive.

Over the course of the last 3-4 weeks, the only trades that Invested Central has considered have been ETFs and they've been few and far between. Options expiration and max pain provided some super opportunities last week as the number of net in-the-money puts was 3 to 4 times the amount we had ever seen before. Coincidentally (sarcasm intended), the market soared on Monday and gapped up on Tuesday and we headed for the exits. We are 100% in cash at the moment and plan to stay that way in the near-term as the gyrations in the market are nauseating.

During markets like this, capital preservation is Job #1 for traders.

Happy trading!

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