Aug. 16, 2002 — With five straight weeks of shrinking “net float” to back him up, Charles Biderman feels comfortable predicting that the market upturn is for real this time.
“Absent some exogenous shock to the system,” — say, a bank failure, financial distress for a major trading partner, or war — Biderman proclaims that “I think we’ve bottomed.”
The basis for this optimism is a series of liquidity measures that Biderman’s company, TrimTabs Investment Research, has followed since 1987, and that he believes have a good track record for predicting significant market turns.
These measures include the cash component of corporate takeovers recently announced; the cash component of completed acquisitions; new corporate announcements of stock buy-backs; new equity offerings; insider selling, and estimates of mutual-fund flows.
By applying a formula that incorporates the first five of those data, Biderman’s firm calculates what he refers to as the trading float of shares — a measure of the change in the total value of stock that is actually in circulation. New offerings and insider selling tend to increase the float, while announced buy-backs and acquisitions tend to reduce the float, or even push it into negative territory if the volume exceeds new offerings and insider sales.
This trading float of shares, or net float, can be seen as a leading indicator of market trends — generally bullish when it is negative for more than a few weeks, and bearish when it is positive.