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Remember – on this site and in our virtual portfolios ALL trades that are discussed are VIRTUAL trades and all virtual portfolios kept are VIRTUAL portfolios.  While we do our best to track the performance of various trade ideas in order to better understand the results over time – it is for educational purposes only, in no way, shape or form should you consider these to be actual results and you should never execute any trade idea that is discussed here without consulting a professional financial adviser.

Trading Policies

Entering a position: I do not generally enter a position when momentum is taking it in the wrong direction or if the market/sector is moving the wrong direction.  I rarely take a full position right away (see article on Scaling In). Generally, out of the list I share with you, I look for ones that have been going the WRONG way and then (after I check news and other factors to make sure my assumptions weren't wrong) see if there is an opportunity to jump in as a contrarian once the wrong-way momentum seems to be slowing, getting my options cheaper than I originally planned.

When entering a position I generally have a goal, say 100 contracts that I want to buy for my watch price or less. I usually put in a bid a dime under the asking price and hope for a pullback on my first 10 contracts then wait to see which way they go. If it takes off the way I thought, I buy 10 to 30 more (depending on confidence, my target price, why it is moving (news)...) at which point I usually will wait a day to see where it shakes out.

If a position goes my way quickly, this method means I only get 1/2 or less of what I intended but the profits usually make up for it. If it goes my way slowly, I build into a full position over the next few sessions.

If a position goes against me quickly, I only lose say 20% of 10-30% of what I intended to bet so I'm not devastated. At this point it gets complicated because I rechart, recheck and generally rethink but sometimes I will wait a bit (an hour, a day, a week) and add to my position at the lower price, reducing my base cost.

As a rule of thumb, if I'm not willing to put in more money when I am 20% down then I kill the trade entirely. At that point, I either move on or target a new entry, perhaps at 50% down but with options I often need to move into the next bracket by then (like an LVS trade we made where I started with $50 puts, which got smoked, and ended up with 150% of my original target in $55 puts).

Always be aware of the premium you are paying for an option and how the time value of the premium deteriorates every day. If, for example, you buy TXN calls 1 month out for a $1 premium, you are automatically losing .05 per session in time value. Unless you have a very good reason to think the stock will gain more than .05 every single day for the next month, you are just letting money drip away from you!

My goal in buying an option is almost never to hold it to expiration. Generally, on short-time contracts, I am playing for a swing in the equity price (or just the implied volatility of the contract) that will net me 20%.

The 20% quick gain: If this is an equity trade, this is a 5% rule where I set a 4% stop but I almost never trade equities...

Once a trade nets 20%, I immediately set a stop at a 15% gain. Making 15% on a short trade is a lot of money!!! Whether you make $5 or .05 per contract, 15% is still 15% and you need to be able to live with that.

For the purpose of my picks, I generally have no interest in a position once it makes (or loses) 20%, the trade is over if it goes down from that spot!

If the contract keeps going up I will usually a stop at 20% of the profits. At this point I am done with the position and am actually anxious to get my money back so I can move on to another trade as I am unlikely to make another 20% on this one.

Depending on how I feel about the trade at, say 30%, I will often set a sell price at 35% and hope to cash out. It is similar to when I am losing a trade - I ask myself if I would put money in at this price? If the answer is no, then I sell to some other sucker asap!

The 50% gain: At a 50% gain, I am looking to get my cash out right asap. I often feel like a thief for making that kind of money so I look to absolve myself with cash! If the stock even twitches at this level I get out and, unless I am 100% confident in my position, I do not leave it open to chance in the overnights.

Almost without fail, once a position goes to a 100% profit I take 1/2 off the table and set a very tight stop (no more than 20% of the profits) on the balance. At that point it is free money and I may let it ride for some time unless I need the cash for a better opportunity.

Bracketing: If I am in a wildly successful position, say the CME $420s go from $5 to $12, I will look to take the profits and re-bet my initial amount ($5) on the next available bracket (probably the $440s by then). This is assuming, of course, that I would, in a vacuum, make that trade from scratch given the new circumstances. Again, this gives me a free ride with a 40% profit already cashed out and I can relax.

Also, the $440s will not deteriorate as fast as the $420s will if the stock moves the other way, ie. a $10 drop will only cost me half of my position in an out of the money call whereas it would have put me back to scratch had I kept my initial position.

Exiting a position: No one ever went broke taking a profit - or a small loss! Learning to lose is probably the most important part of trading. When I'm wrong, I'm wrong. I get out and move on, end of story.

Like many times in my dating life, I am looking to get out of a relationship with a stock almost from the minute I find myself in one! As soon as I take up a position (because I LOVE the opportunity), I immediately become hyper-critical of every little thing it does and I am looking to leave it for a newer, more attractive opportunity. Perhaps this is cruel but I've never gotten a late-night phone call from a stock asking why I left it so I assume it found another buyer as well...

In day trades I generally put in a sell order in as soon as I take the position. If the momentum is strong in my favor I may raise my stop but if I buy something at 10am and someone is offering me 20% more at noon, I tend to take it! That kind of action is usually what Mr. Greenspan calls "irrational exuberance."

I have bought a contract, sold it, bought it again, sold it and bought it again all in the same day on many occasions (you have to trade electronically to do this, brokers can't take it).

Just like a relationship, I find it is best to just end it, not drag it out. I usually offer up my whole sale amount right at the current ask, not bid and give it a little while. Never, ever, ever put in market orders. Never, ever, ever, ever...

Did I say Never? Never, ever, ever...

OK, moving on. Never put in market orders - THEY will steal your money every time. Set a price you are willing to buy or sell for and stick to it. If I want to buy INTC $20 calls for .35 I will usually bid .30 and see what happens. If I get it, I am already 17% ahead of where I would have been. After a while or a short while if the stock is moving on me, I will give up and pay the .35 but I will feel better about it as I know no one is giving the stuff away for less.

If I put an offer in for .35 and I don't get it and it goes to .45 and I put in .45 and I don't get that I usually wave bye bye as that train has left the station. You need to rethink what you were trying to do at that point because if I had bought it for .35 and it hits .50 that quickly, I am sure as heck gonna take my 40% and run! That means you may be the proverbial bag holder at this point.

The Valero Rule: Whenever I am going to make an oil trade, if I want to win, I strictly enforce the Valero Rule.

You may hear a rumor or you may see a price spike or you may have information but you will never have anything on the guys who trade this stock!

The rule is very simple:

Do not take a long position when VLO is going down.

Do not take a short position when VLO is going up.

To confirm the Valero rule and make a trade I usually look at XOM, a lagging indicator and the OGX, OIH and XLE, middle indicators of the whole market and, of course, the actual price of oil or the USO ETF. Additonal stocks in the group are CVX, CHK, SU, SLB. We also have guest slots depending on news.

When almost all of these stocks are moving positive, I am confident buying - when moving negative, I will short with a vengeance.

When Valero changes direction, take your bets off the table!!!

The price action of Valero is like a window into oil arbitrage as the company, a massive refiner, buys oil on the spot market, adds value to it and then sells the refined products on the open market.

One look at the stock's appreciation over the years tells you not only are they good at their jobs but they also seem to get better and better at it each year!

How do they know? I don't know, I just know that after obsessing on this for over a year I now just accept the fact that they are much better at this than I am so I follow the Valero rule pretty religiously. Whenever I make an oil trade or talk about one, I try to remember to say that it is subject to the Valero rule but now I will be able to point to the article rather than rehash the basics each time.

The Microwave Oven Theory of Behavior: I am going to tell you something that I feel makes me a good trader. It is a Nobel Prize quality theory, so make sure I get credit:

People love to make random decisions and stick to them like they were directly given it as a commandment!

How does this relate to microwaves? Well, aside from the fact that our brains are constantly being fried by the things every day (ever drive on the highway and see one of those dishes aimed right at you? Do you know birds die if they fly too close to them?), this is what I observe.

You put something in the microwave, say pizza, and you put in a time, say 3:33 (or maybe you are a whole number person and do 3 or 4 minutes). Now, unless you are a chain store pizza buyer your pizza slice is probably not always the same size or maybe it has different toppings etc but you probably put in the same number every time.

Axiom number 1: People tend to repeat behavior, especially if it was successful once.

So the light goes on and the little thing spins and you are either a watcher or a walker (as you may have guessed, I hit the button and leave the room) but either way you usually end up standing by the oven with 20 or 30 seconds to go waiting for it to stop.

Here's where the Nobel Prize committee has to recognize me:

Axiom number 2: Everyone likes to think they knew (not know) something.

Now you are standing there watching the pizza spin and looking at the timer.

You may think it is done.

You may know it is done (you see cheese boiling)

You may be hungry.

You may be in a hurry.

But you will wait and you will watch the little numbers count down until you hear that beep. Go on, try it - I dare you to open the door with 3 seconds left!

Axiom number 3: We stick to arbitrary prior decisions despite new information to the contrary.

You pick a random number of seconds to cook food and then, despite observations to the contrary or a change in the situation, you stick to your original decision - In fact you are trapped by it! It is very, very hard to ignore your own advice, even though you didn't intend it to be advice to your future self at the time - just a number you picked on a whim. Your future self always defers to you because he/she thinks you are (were) the greatest thing since sliced bread!

This is what happens to people just 3 minutes after a decision is made, what about trade decisions that are made days or weeks ago?

Ah hah, so it does go back to trading (I bet you thought I was losing it!)....

Rather than reresearch, reread, rethink, reexamine our targets, we tend to treat them as set in stone. Learning not to do this will make you a much better trader (and also help you to finally redecorate the living room or clean out your desk or whatever).

Old decisions were made by the old you. The new you has learned things since then (even if it was just 3 minutes ago). The new you is older and wiser and more experienced and has had the benefit of reviewing your GUESS (because that is all it was) in light of real world circumstances and the new you is ready to make a proper decision.

Often the new me can't imagine what the old me was thinking when I made a trade or set a target (or gave that girl my phone number) but since I know how often the old me makes mistakes, I have no problem overriding my decisions even if it means a complete reversal!

If you can do that, you can beat the market because 95% of the people you are trading against cannot let go of those arbitrary targets they set for themselves when circumstances were different.

When Google, for example is upgraded to $500 but it stutters at $480, SELL! Open the door and take the pizza, it's done!!! If it isn't (you take a bite and it's still a bit cold) then get back in.

That's right, the old me bought Google at $420 when an analyst said $490 and the stock went to $470 in 2 days and I feel like a genius so I start counting my $50 profit and thinking about what I will do with it.

The next day it flatlines at $468-$470 and volume drops but the old me said $490 and I was right before and I said I have another $20 coming to me....

This is terrible logic!!! Why are you listening to the old you? (I know, it sounds kind of schitzo) You've had 2 days of observation yet you are willing to ignore that in order to slavishly follow, not even what you thought, but what some analyst thought 2 days ago (and he was probably listening to the old him).

You are you from the future. Full of knowledge that the old you wishes he had at the time.

HOMEWORK: Watch Back to the Future part 2 where Biff steals the sports almanac and gives it to the old him. Listen to what he tells himself.

Also, watch Deal or No Deal (NBC) with the Microwave Theory in your hand and think about how you make decisions.


Market News

News You Can Use From Phil's Stock World


Financial Markets and Economy

Barclays bets on stock boom as world money growth soars (The Telegraph)

Barclays has advised clients to jump into world stock markets with both feet, citing the fastest growth in the global money supply in over thirty years and an accelerating recovery in China .

Ian Scott, the bank’s global equity strategist, said the sheer force of liquidity will overwhelm the first interest rate rises by the US Federal Reserve, expected to kick off next month.

The reason Pfizer doesn't have to care what politicians say about its $160 billion merger&nbs...

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Zero Hedge

Turkish Shootdown of Russian Jet: What You Need to Know

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Submitted by George Washington.

A U.S. official told Reuters that the Russian jet was inside of Syria when it was shot down:

The United States believes that the Russian jet shot down by Turkey on Tuesday was hit inside Syrian airspace after a brief incursion into Turkish airspace, a U.S. official told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Russia denies that the Russian fighter jet – which was bombing ISIS – ever entered Turkish air space, and has put out its ...

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Phil's Favorites

The only risk that counts


The only risk that counts

Courtesy of Joshua Brown, The Reformed Broker

If you’re a millennial, your definition of financial risk should be based entirely on the likelihood of losing your job or heading down the wrong career path. Stock market volatility should literally be the last thing on your mind.

Rob Arnott has made the case that the odds of you losing your job go up substantially when the stock market goes down, but it’s important that you separate the two things in your mind when putting away pre-tax money into a retirement account.

In fact, I would argue that stock market volatility should be embraced for the under 35 set. Ostensibly, you’ve got years (decades) of future accumulation ahead...

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All About Trends

Mid-Day Update

Reminder: David is available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.

Click here for the full report.

To learn more, sign up for David's free newsletter and receive the free report from All About Trends - "How To Outperform 90% Of Wall Street With Just $500 A Week." Tell David PSW sent you. - Ilene...

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Chart School

2-0 Bulls

Courtesy of Declan.

A second day for bulls to shine despite modest end-of-day gains. Some indices did better than others. The Russell 2000 was the key performer. It finished with a MACD trigger 'buy' and looks ready to outperform the Nasdaq 100.  This is an important development for bulls looking for more from other indices. A move to challenge - then break - its 200-day MA, would convert August-November action into a healthy basing action.

The Nasdaq registered higher volume accumulation as a brief sojourn below the 20-day MA was reversed. It's nicely set up for a push to new swing highs.


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Kimble Charting Solutions

S&P 500 – Dangerous for bull case, if prices turn weak here!

Courtesy of Chris Kimble.


The S&P 500 remains inside of a rising channel that has been in place since 2010. The 5-year trend is up.

The 5-month trend is a different story, at this time.

Over the past 5-months, the S&P 500 has created a series of “falling weekly closing highs,” which is represented by line (1) above.

The S&P is testing this falling resistance line at (2) above.

If weakness takes place at (2) above, at falling resistance, it would be concerning price action for the bullish case!


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Sector Detector: Bulls wrest back control of market direction, despite global adversity

Reminder: Sabrient is available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.

Courtesy of Sabrient Systems and Gradient Analytics

Some weeks when I write this article there is little new to talk about from the prior week. It’s always the Fed, global QE, China growth, election chatter, oil prices, etc. And then there are times like this in which there is so much happening that I don’t know where to start. Of course, the biggest market-moving news came the weekend before last when Paris was put face-to-face with the depths of human depravity and savagery. And yet the stock market responded with its best week of the year. As a result, the key issues dominating the front page and election chatter have moved from the economy and jobs to national security and a real war (rather than police ...

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Swing trading portfolio - week of November 23rd, 2015

Reminder: OpTrader is available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.


This post is for all our live virtual trade ideas and daily comments. Please click on "comments" below to follow our live discussion. All of our current  trades are listed in the spreadsheet below, with entry price (1/2 in and All in), and exit prices (1/3 out, 2/3 out, and All out).

We also indicate our stop, which is most of the time the "5 day moving average". All trades, unless indicated, are front-month ATM options. 

Please feel free to participate in the discussion and ask any questions you might have about this virtual portfolio, by clicking on the "comments" link right below.

To learn more about the swing trading virtual portfolio (strategy, performance, FAQ, etc.), please click here ...

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Digital Currencies

Bitcoin's Computing Network is More Powerful than 525 Googles and 10,000 Banks!

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Submitted by Reggie Middleton.

I've decided to build our startup - Veritaseum, a peer-to-peer financial services platform, directly on top of the Bitcoin Blockchain. Many queried why I would voluntarily give up a lucrative advisory and consulting business to chase virtual coins in cyberspace. That's exactly why I decided to do it. That level of misunderstanding of what is essentially the second coming of the Internet gave me a fundamental advantage over those who had deeper connections, more capital and more firepower. I was the first mover advantage holder.

You see, Bitcoin is not about coins, currency or price pops. It is a massive computing net...

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PSW is more than just stock talk!


We know you love coming here for our Stocks & Options education, strategy and trade ideas, and for Phil's daily commentary which you can't live without, but there's more! features the most important and most interesting news items from around the web, all day, every day!

News: If you missed it, you can probably find it in our Market News section. We sift through piles of news so you don't have to.   

If you are looking for non-mainstream, provocatively-narrated news and opinion pieces which promise to make you think -- we feature Zero Hedge, ...

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Whitney Tilson On LL, EXACT, And Martin Shkreli


Whitney Tilson On LL, EXACT, And Martin Shkreli

Courtesy of Value Walk

1) The shares of one of my largest short positions (~3%), Exact Sciences, crashed by more than 46% yesterday. Below is the article I published this morning on SeekingAlpha, explaining why I think it’s still a great short and thus shorted more yesterday. Here’s a summary:

  • The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force’s Colorectal Cancer Screening Draft Recommendation issued yesterday is devastating for Exact Sciences’ only product, Cologuard.
  • I think this is the beginning of the end for the company.
  • My price target for the stock a year from now is $3, so I shorted more yes...

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Baxter's Spinoff

Reminder: Pharmboy and Ilene are available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.

Baxter Int. (BAX) is splitting off its BioSciences division into a new company called Baxalta. Shares of Baxalta will be given as a tax-free dividend, in the ratio of one to one, to BAX holders on record on June 17, 2015. That means, if you want to receive the Baxalta dividend, you need to buy the stock this week (on or before June 12).

The Baxalta Spinoff

By Ilene with Trevor of Lowenthal Capital Partners and Paul Price

In its recent filing with the SEC, Baxter provides:

“This information statement is being ...

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Mapping The Market

An update on oil proxies

Courtesy of Jean-Luc Saillard

Back in December, I wrote a post on my blog where I compared the performances of various ETFs related to the oil industry. I was looking for the best possible proxy to match the moves of oil prices if you didn't want to play with futures. At the time, I concluded that for medium term trades, USO and the leveraged ETFs UCO and SCO were the most promising. Longer term, broader ETFs like OIH and XLE might make better investment if oil prices do recover to more profitable prices since ETF linked to futures like USO, UCO and SCO do suffer from decay. It also seemed that DIG and DUG could be promising if OIH could recover as it should with the price of oil, but that they don't make a good proxy for the price of oil itself. 


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Help One Of Our Own PSW Members

"Hello PSW Members –

This is a non-trading topic, but I wanted to post it during trading hours so as many eyes can see it as possible.  Feel free to contact me directly at with any questions.

Last fall there was some discussion on the PSW board regarding setting up a YouCaring donation page for a PSW member, Shadowfax. Since then, we have been looking into ways to help get him additional medical services and to pay down his medical debts.  After following those leads, we are ready to move ahead with the YouCaring site. (Link is posted below.)  Any help you can give will be greatly appreciated; not only to help aid in his medical bill debt, but to also show what a great community this group is.

Thank you for you time!

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About Phil:

Philip R. Davis is a founder Phil's Stock World, a stock and options trading site that teaches the art of options trading to newcomers and devises advanced strategies for expert traders...

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