Apple, Facebook and Tesla flashing warning signs

Jeff Macke Yahoo Finance

Shares of Apple (AAPL) continued their ascent yesterday as enthusiasm over the company’s 9/9 “event” trumped a string of headlines that would have knee-capped a lesser company’s momentum. Apple has earned the benefit of the doubt when it comes to execution but the reputational teflon on display over the last week has been truly spectacular.

Ignore the 6-hour crash of iTunes or China Mobile stealing Apple’s thunder by apparently pre-selling two different sizes of the iPhone 6. The way Apple has tripped all over itself handling the iCloud hack that resulted in a deluge of very, very personal celebrity pictures was a quintessential Cupertino Reality Distortion.

First Apple fixed the glitch that allowed hackers to use so-called blunt force attacks (entering endless password guesses without blocking access). Next the company expressed its outrage over the attacks while simultaneously denying responsibility.

“Our customers’ privacy and security are of utmost importance to us. After more than 40 hours of investigation, we have discovered that certain celebrity accounts were compromised by a very targeted attack on user names, passwords and security questions, a practice that has become all too common on the Internet.”

Only Apple could get away with admitting it was vulnerable to the most basic form of password attack imaginable with such haughty indignation. As a kicker Apple then told developers of HealthKit apps to keep data out of iCloud. So iCloud didn’t have a problem and the imaginary flaw has now been fixed but not to the point that your health information is safe.

The only reasonable response was to bid the stock higher. Apple shares are now up over 9% since August 7th.

For those of a skeptical nature it’s worth noting that Apple is hardly alone. Fellow mega-cap tech darlings like Tesla (TSLA) and Facebook (FB) also made new highs yesterday and have been screaming higher on news ranging from minor (Tesla rose more than 5% on an upgrade) to non-existent (“Yay, Facebook!”).

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None of which is grousing from the sidelines. I’m lucky / dumb / crazy enough to own all three stocks. Because momentum. Remaining skeptical and long is one of the trickier balancing acts in all of finance. For help I reached out to Yahoo’s Mike Santoli to ask him for his take on a market where the trendy names move higher even on days where the broader market stands pat.

On Apple Santoli says the herd is shouting and it wants to be long. “Since April 23rd the stock is up 38%. Earnings forecast for the next fiscal year is up about 3%. Obviously people are saying ‘we’re just going to be paying more for every dollar of earnings Apple has because finally we can see a tangible product’.”

As for the rest of the tape Santoli says this hyper-focus on a few popular stocks is the type of behavior that comes closer to the end of a rally than the beginning. That’s not a “top” call. These things don’t come with an expiration date and being long in a blow-off top is quite lucrative. It’s simply an observation. Don’t revise your view of a company to justify the price action. If you’re chasing stocks that have rallied 20% you’re playing a momentum game.

You’ve heard it here before: you can try anything you want as long as you have an exit plan. Mine is to use trailing stops on momentum names. Tell us yours in the comment section.

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