Italian banks are falling hard this morning.
Following news that Mario Monti will be resigning, Italy's 5 largest banks are falling 6-7% and that's dragging the whole Italian market down 3.7% this morning and that's putting a drag on Europe and the US futures so it's a rough start to the week already – and we haven't even gotten out of the gate yet. As you can see on Dave Fry's DIA chart, we have a clear line at 13,146 to watch and that 50 dma has to hold to keep us bullish.
There's not a lot of data to guide us this week but we do have a Fed meeting on Wednesday where it's expected that the FOMC will increase monthly QE purchases from $40Bn to $85Bn per month to make up for the expiration of Operation Twist as it winds down at the end of the month. Bernanke will give a press conference at 2:15 on Wednesday and Thursday we'll see how he does as we sell both 7 and 30-year notes in the afternoon.
We'll also get the Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index at 9:45 on Thursday and that will either confirm or deny Friday's awful Consumer Sentiment numbers and Friday we get CPI and Industrial Production but, on the whole, not a very big data week and our expectations are that we do drift higher ahead of the Fed – although the drag from Europe might make that tough today.
Of course, the Fiscal Cliff conversation will still dominate the markets. John Boehner met with the President in DC this weekend but neither one is talking about what actually happened – although Saturday Night Live seems to have captured the public's disgust with the whole process quite nicely this weekend.
Making fun of this manufactured crisis is a good sign – it means the public is ready to move on and hopefully the markets will stop running up and down 1% every time someone drops a cliff rumor. We need a little bit of stability if we're going to bring investors back off the sidelines before the end of the year – time is certainly running short for a "Santa Clause Rally."
AAPL took another hit from analysts this morning with Jefferies cutting their price target to $800 from $900 on concerns of slowing IPhone growth and declining margins. Jefferies predicts "just" 60M IPhones will be sold in Q4 and just 25M IPads in Q1 of 2013. Sure $800 is about 50% HIGHER than AAPL is currently trading but that won't stop people from selling it off today on the "downgrade." We still love selling the 2015 $400 puts for $52 as the best way to establish a long-term position in AAPL (at net $348, a 34% discount to the current price) – taking advantage of the current price silliness.
Speaking of price silliness – IMAX is pretty cheap again at $21.15 with a lot of strong movies coming out for the holidays. They also announced a deal to begin putting theaters in Brazil and last week, at an investor conference, they outlined their plans for China expansion so I like selling the Jan 2014 $17 puts for $2.30 and buying the Jan 2014 $15/20 bull call spread for $2.80 and that's net .50 on the $5 spread with a 900% upside if IMAX simply holds $20 for the year. Worst case on this trade is you end up owning 1x for net $17.50, which is still 17% off the current price and THAT's the way to buy a stock!
If you want to make $9,000 with a trade like that, you just have to work it backwards and see that you'll need 20 contracts (100 shares each) that come out to $5 so you need to spend $1,000 in cash to buy 20 of the spreads and that obligates you to buy 2,000 shares of IMAX at net $17.50 ($35,000) but, of course, ordinary margin would hold at most $17,500 and TOS says the margin on the short puts is just $5,800 plus the $5,600 cash required for the spread so it's $11,400 of cash and margin required to make $9,000 (78%) in 12 months – not too bad… We'll add that trade to our Income Portfolio and see how it goes.
The key to trades like that is to pick a stock, like IMAX, that we really, Really, REALLY would actually like to own long-term at $17.50. That means there's no downside to us – especially if $35,000 is a relatively small allocation in our portfolio and if, for example, IMAX fell to $12 we'd be happy to double down (+$24,000) and end up owning 4,000 shares for $59,000 or $14.75 each. As I often say to Members – if you don't want to own 4,000 shares of IMAX at $14.75 – why on earth would you be buying 1,000 shares at $21.15? Buy stocks you love and you will be a happier investor.
We'll be doing a bit of year-end bargain hunting in Member Chat over the next few weeks as we look for some nice 2013 opportunities to roll our closing 2012 positions into. Hopefully, at some point, the Fiscal Cliff will be resolved and the markets will take off but, if not – well that's why we're trying to stick to stocks that we'll be happy to buy more of if they get cheaper – especially if they get cheaper over panic relating to an artificial financial construct that isn't likely to go unresolved for very long.