What’s in a Name Badge?
Since January 2013, name-badge sales at Imprint Plus anticipated the Dow’s performance by two months. Maybe it’s not just coincidence
May 6, 2017
Investors love simple formulations that purport to predict the stock market’s direction. The so-called Super Bowl and hemline indicators are well known because they’ve been right enough times to stoke interest, even if their success doesn’t pass statistical muster.
The newest predictor could be the humble name-badge indicator, based on sales of IDs and name badges for employees, typically new hires.
Imprint Plus makes name badges—some four million a year for more than 35,000 customers from diverse industries, mostly in the U.S. CEO Marla Kott says she noticed in January 2013 that Imprint’s monthly business wasn’t in sync with the Dow Jones Industrial Average headlines. Intrigued, she investigated.
Kott found that on a 12-month rolling basis, since January 2013, “our badge sales are two months ahead of the Dow’s performance.…For example, if we had a bad February, then things didn’t go so well for the Dow in April.”
This apparent correlation isn’t surprising, perhaps. Kott notes that Imprint’s business is tied to employment. If companies are anticipating growth, then they are hiring and giving their new employees new badges. And the Dow commonly moves on official jobs numbers. “Increased badge sales suggests hiring is going up,” she adds.
What do Imprint Plus sales say now? March volume was up, and that’s good for May, she says. April’s sales increased slightly, which would suggest modest gains for the Dow in June.
No one can say whether the name-badge indicator will stand the test of time. But it would seem to have more cred than Super Bowls and hemlines.
—Vito J. Racanelli