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How one stock ultimately could be responsible for killing the bull market

MarketWatch logo MarketWatch 7/10/2019 Shawn Langlois
a group of people on a beach: Boeing 737 MAX aircraft parked at Southern California Logistics Airport.© Getty Images Boeing 737 MAX aircraft parked at Southern California Logistics Airport.

Stocks rallied Wednesday thanks to Fed Chairman Jerome Powell’s signaling a likely interest-rate cut later this month. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq both broke into record territory, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average snapped a three-day losing streak.

But one stock could single-handedly throw cold water on the recent market strength, warns strategist Bill Blain of London-based Shard Capital, which oversees more than $1 billion in assets.

“I am concerned the market is underestimating just how bad things could go for Boeing,” he warned in his morning note on Wednesday. “When it does, the whole equity market will knee-jerk aggressively, triggering pain across all stocks.”

Boeing’s (BA) stock, the largest component of the Dow, was down slightly at last check and is hovering around where they began the year. The shares are down about 7% since the second 737 Max crashed on March 10.

“That’s pretty stable for a company that could be in serious trouble from a host of demand issues (ie not selling many planes,) regulation, legal (lots of people going to sue), cash, a loss of confidence, and a growing perceptions the company lost sight of safety in search of profit,” Blain explained.

He went into the specific Boeing issues to paint what he believes to be a bleak picture, not only for the stock, but for the rest of the market as well. 

Related video: Will Boeing recover from the 737 Max crisis? (provided by Business Insider)

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For one, he says, it’s unlikely that the 737 Max, with its inventory piling up in airport parking lots, will get back in the air this year. “Boeing is hemorrhaging cash to build an aircraft no-one can fly — not a great strategy,” Blain wrote.

So, the company’s trying to rush deliveries of other aircrafts to make up for it.

That, however, has presented its own issues, including problems with 787 Dreamliners, which the New York Times reported are suffering from “shoddy production and weak oversight” at Boeing’s Charleston factory.

Read:What investors should really obsess over with the 737 Max

Another problem is the manufacturer’s approach of upgrading its old aircraft instead of designing new ones.

“It made commercial sense for Boeing to keep upgrading and upscaling the [737],” Blain said, “because it kept the factories delivering and they could tell regulators it was just an upgrade not a new design saving billions on testing and training.”

But that led to cost-cutting that compromised the 737 Max.

“Boeing must rue the day they didn’t go with completely new design — which would have been hugely expensive and killed the stock performance of recent years — but would have left Boeing dominating the larger aircraft space and reaping the kinds of returns it could have made on the Dreamliner,” he wrote.

So what’s it all mean for investors?

“The likely trigger for a market shock will be a ‘no-see-em,’” Blain predicted. “Something so obviously hidden in plain sight it catches us completely and painfully by the short and curlies.”

And that trigger, he says, could be Boeing.

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