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The Super Bowl ad line-up deflates bullish investor expectations

Stocks are down slightly as U.S. traders try to get their minds around the implications of extreme leftists taking power in Greece. We've got a busy week so I'm going to go ahead and spoil the suspense: it doesn't matter what Greece does. Greece was scary in 2011 and 2012. Today problems at the Greek system at UVA matters more to your long-term investing health.

To get the market's field position out of the way, the S&P 500 (^GSPC) dropped about half a percent Friday in relatively subdued trading. We're still in a trading range. That's not so bad considering almost 20% of the 500 biggest stocks in our world have now reported and the results have been fairly terrible.

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That's rearview mirror stuff. Let's look ahead because we've got real things to think about this week. In the next three days we have earnings from Microsoft (MSFT), Apple (AAPL), Yahoo (YHOO) [our parent company] and Facebook (FB). Friday has the highly anticipated Shake Shack IPO and Sunday of course the fate of your investing future will be determined by the FedEx (FDX) sponsored Super Bowl XLIX.

Two indicators to watch regarding the matchup of the equipment cheating New England Patriots and the oft-suspended Seahawks. Neither of them have anything to do with morality. The first is the Super Bowl Indicator; a hoary bit of market dumbness with a greater than 80% success rate. The specific "rule" is that when NFC teams -- considered part of the original NFL -- win it's good for markets. It's the dumbest thing I've ever heard and its been right more than 80% of the time. That includes last year when the market rose more than 15% from the Seahawks win through the end of the year. In fact, the last time this silly "tell" failed was 2008 when the Patriots and their deflated balls lost to the underdog Giants yet stocks rose 39% anyway.

But that's just data mining. The indicator that matters more to me are the companies advertising during this year's game. Traditional advertisers are balking at ponying up $4.5 million for 30 seconds. Of the 11 car companies that advertised last year 6 are stepping out entirely. In their place are 15 new advertisers including a do it yourself website maker and Loctite, a 53 year old glue company spending its entire ad budget in one shot.

This is the most new advertisers since the dot-com Super Bowl of 2000. Suffice it to say hail Mary Super Bowl advertising of the late 1990s and 2000 didn't do any more for companies like Just for Feet and PetSmart (PETM) than last year's great RadioShack (RSH) ad did to save that company.

When capital is cheap enough for underfunded companies to think it's rational to spend their whole ad budget on the Super Bowl it suggests a certain misallocation of optimism in the system. Whatever it says sociologically from an economic perspective it hasn't been good. A year after the 2000 Dot Com Super Bowl advertising for the big game was time for one of only 14 times in the last 50 years and stocks were on their way to getting folded in half.

That may not be an investment thesis but it is yet another reason to root against the Pats and consider hedging your portfolio by taking the Seahawks and the 2 points.

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