by Option Review - January 27th, 2014 4:05 pm
by phil - December 10th, 2012 8:24 am
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.…
by phil - November 16th, 2012 8:32 am
Falling, falling, falling.
That's all the markets have been doing lately. As you can see from our Big Chart – it's been a pretty orderly sell-off according to our 5% rule with roughly a 4-5% drop during October with some consolidation, followed by a much steeper 4-5% drop after the election.
We're back to the point where we expect resistance at an 8% total drop as well as some bounce action where once again we'll be measuring for strong or weak bounces to determine whether or not we can get a turn again (our indicators kept us bearish last time). Regarding the current action, I said to our Members yesterday in Chat:
I think there is a lot of selling as people take capital gains while they can. I think that it's very possible that it's going to be very difficult to get a proper rally into the end of the year because there are plenty of people waiting for a rally to take their gains, whether through timing or position. The problem with this state of not knowing is it becomes prudent for people to hedge for the worst and, if someone had a 20% gain for the year and now it's 15% and they can take it off now and keep 12.75% (after 15% tax) vs possibly hitting another 5% drop and running down to 8.5% this year or possibly 7% (at 30%) if they wait until next year and there's no recovery (and the more the cliff looms the less likely recovery seems) then it almost doesn't make sense not to take the 12.75% and run. So that's very possibly the selling pressure we see and it may continue to be relentless into the end of the year unless there is some sort of resolution or delay to the cliff.
While we don't think the Fiscal Cliff will end up being a big deal – that doesn't stop others from panicking. This week we've been scooping up positions they have been running away from but, if we're going to have another leg down – we'll be needing those disaster hedges (see Wednesday's post) to keep us out of trouble. It doesn't take much to profit from a downturn, fortunately, when we use good hedges. On Wednesday I suggested the TZA April $17/24 bull call spread for $1.40, selling the $14…
by phil - October 24th, 2012 8:32 am
AAPL is a total disaster.
There's no denying it now, they had their IPad Mini event yesterday and investors charged out of the stock, dropping it from a high of $633 (which is already 10% off the Sept highs) to close at $613 and that was finally weak enough to get us to capitulate and roll back our AAPL positions to longer-term trades that have less upside but, more importantly, less downside as we are no longer confident they'll be able to turn it around on Friday.
Notice how silly it seems to talk about how poorly AAPL is performing when the chart on the right pretty clearly indicates it's the greatest stock on Earth but that would be the logical conclusion for a company that's on track to earnings $43Bn this year, which is $81,811 a minute – more even than what they were tracking to make last month, when I set out bottom target at $600 (and that spread is an even better buy now) AND, only 68% of what they are projected to make next year!
We didn't really think it would hit $600 – that was our worst-case but here we are – at the worst case and, since we are no longer able to say with conviction that it can't get any worse, we had to back our short-term plays to something that buys us more time. In that same post we liked HPQ at $14.30 and at least they are holding that line and we also had a nice spread on that stock in the same post, which is still holding up as a new spread.
In that post I mentioned (as usual) our primary hedge being TZA and the straight-up April $15 calls mentioned there have gone up another .40, from $2.50 to $2.90 off our $2.10 entry (up 38%) – not bad against just a 15-point drop in the Russell (down 2%).
Yesterday, with our hedges already in place (see last Wednesday's TZA hedge and this Monday's DIA hedge) we had the luxury of doing some bottom-fishing yesterday with long trade ideas on TIVO at $9.78, USO at $31.75, AAPL at $623, CMG at $238 and our last trade idea for the day was SQQQ at $41.20 (that one, of course, is another hedge – always look for BALANCE!) – just…
by phil - October 19th, 2012 8:30 am
25 years ago today, the market fell 22%.
You never know what's going to panic the markets – since then we've had many other sudden corrections like Black Friday just 2 years later and Black Wednesday in September 1992, we've had the dot.com collapse and 9/11 and whatever you call 2008 and recently we had Dubai and Greece leading to sudden crashes and the ubiquitous flash crash and whatever happened last August (Europe again).
So stock markets are dangerous places to keep your money, on the whole. That's why TZA (ultra-short Russell) is our primary hedge in the Income Portfolio and, as I mentioned in last Wednesday's post, should the S&P fail to hold 1,440, then the Dow has little support all the way down to 13,295 as well. Just this Tuesday, I reiterated a TZA spread Members could use for general portfolio coverage:
Ultra hedges/Bdon – You just can't beat TZA at $15. The Jan $12/15 bull call spread is $1.50 so 100% upside if TZA simply doesn't go any lower. If they do go lower, you can sell the April $11 puts, now .50 for $1 (the Apr $12 puts are .92) before your $1.50 is even out of the money and then you'd be in the Jan $12s at net .50 and worst case is you get assigned at net $11.50 in April but, of course, you can roll or simply accept the assignment and cover and then you have more long-term protection.
We like to buy our protection when the market is going up – it's cheaper that way! TZA was at $14.75 at yesterday's close and the Jan spread was still about the same $1.50 but it's $2.75 in the money – all we need is for TZA to not go down (Russsell not to go up) and we make a tidy profit. That's a good way to hedge because the only way that hedge loses money is if the market breaks higher.
We're not turning bearish yet but, as we're seeing some pretty serious misses (GOOG and CMG yesterday, for example) and some pretty strong reactions to those misses – it is a good time to make sure people do remember the value of hedging. If nothing else, it's a piece of mind that lets us ride out these dips without worry. Also, of course, it's good to…
by phil - October 18th, 2012 8:03 am
EU leaders are meeting in Brussels today and tomorrow.
For anyone who's been paying attention for the last two years – that's usually not a good thing and, as we noted yesterday, it was a strong Euro and a weak Dollar that was driving our little rally. The Dollar bottomed out at 79 and the Euro topped out at $1.314 and the Euro's strength sent the Yen back up to 79.30 to the Dollar (weaker) and that led to a 2% Nikkei rally last night. As you can see from the chart on the right, the S&P for the week is 1% behind UK and Germany and 2.5% behind France and Italy (+4%) and Spain (+7%) – so we have a lot of catching up to do if this rally is real and sustainable.
Still, I sent out an Alert to Members early this morning noting that the Global Markets were holding up well as of 6am and that was encouraging. Yesterday we discussed taking advantage of the run-up in the Russell to make a TZA hedge to lock in some of our gains (see main post) but we still haven't covered XLF (target $16.50 – see Dave Fry's chart) and we're still bullish on AAPL as well. We cashed that ISRG play, as planned for $9 on the spreads (200x = $1,800), spending .30 x 200 ($60) to buy back the callers so that, with the $200 we were paid to take the position is just short of our $2,000 goal at net $1,960 – not bad for a day's "work".
In Member Chat this morning, we discussed GOOG's outlook for earnings this evening and decided they were more likely topping than popping so we have that risk to the Nasdaq for tomorrow. IBM was an 80-point drag on the Dow yesterday but it did manage to finish flat and advancers led decliners on the NYSE by 2:1 so the conditions are still there for a rally and hopefully what we have here a a pause that refreshes and not a triple top from the mid-September highs.
The Nasdaq and the Russell are, in fact, in downtrending channels and, for the Nasdaq, their fate rests on GOOG tonight and AAPL next Thursday – but it's still a long way back to the highs at 3,200.
by phil - October 17th, 2012 7:31 am
Let's not make this more complicated than it needs to be.
A weak Dollar lifts the markets and, this morning, the Dollar fell from 79.50 at yesterday's close to 79 at 6:45 and that's why, despite earnings disappointments from both INTC and IBM, the Futures are up slightly 3 hours before the open. As you can see from the chart on the right, to say there's a strong inverse correlation between the Dollar and the S&P is quite the understatement. Over the longer run – the effect tends to wash out but, over the short run, it's an almost perfect match.
Of course, this also has a very direct effect on commodity pricing and part of the reason for the Dollar's big sell-off last night was the much-better-than-last-time performance of Barack Obama in the second Presidential Debate as the future of the Fed and all that free money hangs in the balance.
After the first debate, two weeks ago, Romney clearly won and has made it known that he will kick both Big Bird and Big Ben to the curb as soon as he gets in office – that sent the Dollar up from 79.10 to 80.21 (up 1.4%) last week and dropped the S&P from 1,460 to 1,430 (2%). After last night, Romney looks to be back off the table and that leaves the Dollar to resume it's downward slope – giving another lift to the markets.
At the same time, Moody's left Spain's credit rating above junk this morning and that's lifting the Euro to $1.31 and the Pound is moving in lock-step at $1.61 BUT the Yen dropped 0.5% to 78.63 and it's not likely the BOJ will let the Dollar slip below 79 as that makes Toyotas and Sonys more expensive just ahead of the holidays. Also, the Nikkei finally got back to 8,850 last night and you know they hate to lose that line.
So get set for some heavy-duty Global Market Manipulation by our Central Banksters as everyone but Europe tries to race for the bottom. Europe, interestingly enough, doesn't mind a strong currency as they are fuel and goods importers and most of the goods they export are "luxury" class and less susceptible to currency fluctuations. With strong intra-zone trading the backbone of the EU economy, it doesn't matter where the Euro is trading from that perspective either and, of…
by phil - October 11th, 2012 8:19 am
"We don't see the focus on poverty as about charity, but rather about investment in future growth."
World Bank President Jim Yong Kim outlined his vision of what the multilateral lender should do, focusing sharply on cases of significant poverty. Dr. Kim said economic-growth expectations were being scaled back everywhere but that he was determined to prevent the substantial gains made by emerging economies over the past decade from being wiped out. "Every country has to look at its public spending and see what works," he said.
The World Bank had their annual meeting in conjunction with the IMF in Tokyo this week and Dr. Young's message is no longer the opposite of Christine LaGaurd's, who has essentially come around to thinking that austerity is no longer the answer – pushing for debt write-downs for Greece, Portugal and Spain as well as backing Greece's request for two more years to meet its fiscal targets. “We will spare no time, no effort to actually do as much as we can in order to help Greece,” Lagarde said. The fund’s purpose is “to make sure that Greece is back on its feet, that it can one day return to markets, that it doesn’t have the need for constant support.”
Meanwhile, Spain was downgraded to one notch over junk (BBB-) with a negative credit watch by S&P last night but it was more of a "buy on the news" event this morning as it's certainly not a shocker that Spain's paper is worthless without the ESM backing. Yields on 10-year Spanish bonds shot up 9bps to 5.89% but stopping short of 6% was considered a positive. Spain is the poster child for the idiocy of using austerity to combat debt (ie. the Romney plan) as squeezing the economy by cutting Government spending has actually worsened the country's fiscal position, which has led to calls for greater austerity but these calls come from bankers and bondholders – who just want to get paid, no matter the long-term damage done to the borrowers.
“There is no chance that Spain will hit its targets,” said Megan Greene, director of European economics at Roubini Global Economics LLC, “The deficit targets are economic suicide.’ “Even as you cut, the gap between spending and revenue collection keeps getting larger,” said Jonathan Tepper, a partner at research firm Variant Perception. “We’re…
by phil - October 10th, 2012 8:44 am
$76,103 – That's not sales, that's profit!
Every minute of every day, AAPL is making $76,103 (at $40Bn a year) on the sale of $316,120 worth of products. No company on Earth comes close to that kind of metric and, overall, the stock's performance clearly indicates that but, if you listen to the MSM, you would think AAPL is finished.
We had a nice, in-depth discussion about AAPL in Member Chat this morning and we not only concluded it's still a buy but we came up with a lovely spread that has the potential to turn $3,000 into $45,000 between now and Jan 2015 if AAPL simply holds $600 – needless to say we're very proud of that as it's always nice to have a trade or two in your portfolio that returns 1,500% and we rarely get a chance to do them with a blue-chip stock like AAPL.
Note in the above chart, that AAPL is still a relative outperformer this year – shown priced against HPQ, DELL, INTC, IBM, CAT and ISRG – all good companies that have simply failed to keep up. We also like HPQ at this level, now $14.30 as their REDUCED guidance has them earning $3.62 per share next year after earning $4.05 this year and that's still 25% back on your money, which sure beats TBills and we're not even counting the $18Bn in cash they have on hand, which is quite a lot when you consider that their entire market cap is now just $28Bn. Small wonder HPQ spent $9Bn buying back their own stock last year, when it was priced 100% higher.
HPQ is a pretty good candidate for a buy/write, where we Buy the stock for $14.30 and Write 2014 $15 puts and calls (sell short) for $5.50 and that nets $8.80 on the trade and, if HPQ is below $15 in Jan 2014, then another round of shares will be put to you at $15 for an average entry on 2x of $11.90, which is 17% below the current price and, if HPQ is over $15 in 16 months, then you get called away at $15 for a $6.20 profit on cash (75%). Buy/writes are our favorite tools for making long-term entries – see "How to Buy a Stock for a 15-20% Discount."
by phil - October 4th, 2012 8:32 am
What a debate last night!
One of the candidates will lower taxes for the middle class and small businesses while slamming shut loopholes on the rich and Big Business, limiting their deductions and raising taxes if needed, he will provide national health-care and concentrate on jobs, punishing outsourcers and educating US workers to get them on the path to full employment. The other candidate is already President. Romney now claims there will be no 20% tax cut for the rich – I assume his rich backers assume he's lying to get elected (lying doesn't bother them) and President Obama was in no way prepared to debate the guy who showed up yesterday and he lost the debate in an embarrassing fashion.
From a market perspective, we were playing the weakness as nervousness ahead of the debates and accumulating long positions as planned yesterday. Oil blew past the $88.50 target I set in yesterday's morning post – all the way to $87.70 before finally bouncing back and hitting our target again overnight (now $88.64). That drop from $91.22 in the Futures was good for $3,500 per contract in the Futures but, of course, we were done being short, as planned at $88.50 and in fact made a couple of bullish trades – long on USO at $33 (as planned) and short on SCO at $44. We'll see how they work out today but up at the open is a good sign.
HPQ was irresistible as it tested $15 (long-term positions) and BBY gave us a good entry again at $17.50. We made a quick 50% on the TNA weekly $61.50 calls, which we grabbed for $1 in our $25,000 Virtual Portfolio at 10:09 in Member Chat and we caught a nice move up to $1.50 not even 30 minutes later as our 838 line (weak bounce) on the Russell continues to hold.
Our bullish stance on AAPL finally paid off as the stock went from $660 to $672 at the close – hopefully $680 is next. Gasoline only got to $2.75 (we were hoping for $2.70) but is back to $2.86 already in pre-market trading (/RB).
As you can see from Dave Fry's Russell chart, we're still in a bullish consolidation – just below our breakout level and today, so far, we don't have rising Dollar headwinds to hold us back…