S&P 500: Small caps diverge

The S&P 500 ($INX) remains bullish, with Trend Index holding above zero for over a year indicating tremendous buying pressure.

S&P 500

Narrow breadth is our main concern, with the Russell 2000 small caps ETF (IWM) diverging from the S&P 500 ($INX).

S&P 500 & Russell 2000 Small Caps


The market is growing risk-averse as the Fed starts to taper. But financial markets are still awash with cash.


Buying is likely to be concentrated in the heavyweights.

Apple (AAPL), Alphabet (GOOGL), Amazon (AMZN), Meta Platforms (FB), and Microsoft (MSFT)

Small caps could possibly accelerate into a down-trend but reversal of large cap indices is unlikely with so much liquidity.

A Tesla in the coal mine

All five US technology behemoths — Apple (AAPL), Amazon (AMZN), Alphabet (GOOGL), Facebook (FB) and Microsoft (MSFT) — show strong up-trends over the past 6 months, boosted by strong inflows from international investors who are giving the bond market a wide berth.


But the canary in the coal mine is Tesla (TSLA), the darling of retail investors and the largest holding in Cathy Wood’s ARK Innovation Fund (ARKK). TSLA encountered resistance at 700 and looks ready for another test of primary support. Breach of 550 would signal a primary down-trend.

Tesla (TSLA)

Trading at more than 17 times sales (TTM Q1 FY21), Tesla shows spectacular exponential growth in revenues over the past ten years. But investors should be wary of extrapolating that growth as heavyweights like Volkswagen, Ford and GM invest heavily in the EV space.

Tesla (TSLA)

Also, free cash flow is patchy, reaching $3.4 billion in FY20 on a levered basis.

Tesla (TSLA)

That starts to look anemic when one takes into account stock compensation of $1.7 billion — which does not affect cash flow but dilutes existing stockholders. Adjusted free cash flow, net of stock compensation, is $1.7bn. Against market cap of $621bn that gives an earnings multiple of 365 times!

Tesla (TSLA)

If we take adjusted free cash flow for the trailing 12 months to March 2021, of $1.4bn, that gives an even higher multiple of 443 times.


Valuations of stocks like Tesla (TSLA) are precarious and breach of primary support levels could spark a flurry of margin calls.


  1. Revenue and cash flows are from SeekingAlpha