Friday was a day that most market watchers would just a soon forget.
It was the day that the concerns over the Covid-19 Virus in China really began to be felt in the market. For the second day stocks finished the trading session lower. With the Tech heavy NASDAQ especially hard hit, falling nearly 1.8%.
The concern here is that there will be a supply chain interruption for those companies with major production facilities in China. This group would include both the technology sector and the pharmaceutical sector of the market. Together these two sector represent a major driving force for this Bull Market. Lose the momentum here, and the overall direction of the market may be called into question.
So it's against this gloomy background, that something extraordinary happened. A company that has been relegated to the financial backwater lately scored a major gain on Friday.
And it's not just because of what you read in the headlines. John Deere and Company, the old line maker of those distinctive green and yellow tractors, reported solid, if not spectacular earnings.
But what's noteworthy here was the reaction of Wall Street. They reacted as if Deere and Company had won the World Series. Upon the open, traders bid the stock up 10%, on a day when the rest of the market was down. And when all the shouting was done, Deere closed the day up a very respectable 7% on 3 times its normal volume.
Now the analysts were quick to point out that the reason for this strength in Deere was the 4% rise in earnings. But, at the risk of being the curmudgeon here, I need to point out that this was in spite of a 6% decline in Deere.
No, its tough times for Deere right now, those floods in farm country have taken a big toll out of Deere's profitability. And construction and forestry aren't performing too well either.
There's something else at work here. And I think it may become a trend. You see John Deere has no exposure in Asia. Although they have plants around the world, throughout America's and Europe, they have no exposure whatsoever in Asia.
And this is a very big attribute when the Street is beginning to take notice of the Coronovirus: Covid-19.
Daily we are inundated with the growing numbers of infections and death. It is a drumbeat that can't help by influence investors. And here is a company, Deere, that has about as little exposure to the heart of that epidemic as is possible in this modern global economy.No plants in Asia is about as good as it gets for investors seeking to diversify away from China.
The question arises: whether this will become a trend among individual investors and money managers? In addition to all the other types of diversification, will geographic diversification now become a central goal of prudent asset allocation?
When I was young, there was a big campaign to promote American made products. The campaign urged us to: look for the made in the USA Label.Perhaps with this pandemic, we are seeing the opposite now. A move to look for labels that say NOT made in China.