by Phil Davis - June 23rd, 2011 8:28 am
Well that didn’t take long, did it?
On Tuesday I suggested selling into the day’s rally, saying: "so it’s back to cash as we wait for the crash" and it wasn’t a very long wait as the Greek euphoria wore off quickly and there was nothing from yesterday’s FOMC statement (see Member Chat for details) or Bernanke’s press conference that was supportive for the bulls. In fact, I sent out a Member Alert on the Fed statement right at 12:38 warning: "Dollar poking back over 75 but little reaction overall but this is bearish with the Fed recognizing inflation in their changed language (no QE3)." That led us to grab the QQQ weekly $55 puts at 12:39 for just .30 and they finished the day up 55%.
Of course we had to shake off the fake rally first as the markets topped out around 2:20 but, fortunately, we called that right too as I said to Members: "Fake rally – Sure, what do the minutes say that is bullish? The Fed recognized that inflation is taking hold, they do not intend to extend QE2 and they are downgrading their view on the economy. WHERE’S THE BEEF?" In that comment we also hit the SCO July $46/50 bull call spread at $2, selling USO Aug $35 puts for .96 for a net $1.04 entry on the $4 spread. With USO taking a dive today (but just down to $36.50), SCO should be flying well over $50 – see how that works?
Of course our real play of the day was my morning call to short oil again as they tested the $95 line. At 2pm in Member Chat, ahead of The Bernank (and again at 2:31, while he was speaking), I reiterated the Futures Short to Members at the $95.50 line and we got a drop all the way to $94 last night but it didn’t stop there and this morning we’re down to $92.50.
I don’t advocate holding oil Futures overnight so we’ll just call that a $1.50 win on 345,000 contracts for $517.5M of potential gains so congrats to those who got their share (at a rate of $1,500 per contract!) as we continue to stick it to the bastards at the NYMEX by calling their bluff when they pretend to want to buy barrels for inflated prices.
by Phil Davis - January 1st, 2011 8:28 am
I am still trying to get more bullish.
I was thinking about writing something cute like I resolve to get more bullish but that would be wrong. I try, in my own humble way, to "get" the market right. That means I am not bullish or bearish but Truthish (to further botch Stephen Colbert’s use of the word) and, as Buddah says: "There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting." Confucious reminds us that there are three methods by which we may learn wisdom: "First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest."
In that spirit, we will spend the day in reflection so that we are better able to start on that long road to the truth so that we will be better able to imitate the things that will work in the year to come while trying to avoid making mistakes that will give us bitter experiences.
This post is not about me – We had a fantastic year and I’ve already given some outlook for 2011 back on the 19th in that weekend’s "It’s Never too Early to Predict the Future" and our current position is short-term bearish in the Jan-April time-frame, looking for a pullback to at least 1,200 on the S&P and possibly back to 1,150.
After that, we are expecting a return to steady gains but without the irrational exuberance we’re currently experiencing. So no, I am not bearish – I simply think we’ve gotten ahead of ourselves. Since we don’t know where the rally train will stop, we have our "Breakout Defense – 5,000% in 5 Trades or Less" from Dec 11th, which were a set of very bullish, highly levered plays where a little bet can pay off a lot if we simply hold our long-established breakout levels.
How much is "a lot"? Well my GE trade idea, for example, was to sell the 2013 $12.50 puts for $1.10 (net $1.15 in ordinary margin according to TOS) and to use that money to buy the 2012 $17.50/20 bull call spread for .95, which was a net .15 credit on a $2.50 spread that was on the money at the time. GE has gained about .75 since the 11th and…
by Option Review - October 26th, 2010 4:04 pm
Today’s tickers: RIMM, CAH, AVNR, HRBN, ANF & ADBE
RIMM - Research in Motion Ltd. – Investors are crowding the options arena on the Blackberry maker today with shares in Research in Motion rising as much as 9.5% earlier this afternoon to an intraday high of $56.62. The price of the underlying stock climbed the most in more than 10 months after an analyst remarked that the company’s Playbook tablet computer could give rival Apple Inc.’s iPad a run for its money. Shares are currently up 6.2% to stand at $54.94 with 45 minutes remaining before the final bell. November contract call options are by far the most active. Volume generated in near-term out-of-the-money calls today trumps previously existing open interest levels in all cases. Investors are buying more of those OTM calls than selling, but we will have to wait to see how open interest levels shift tomorrow to determine what portion of today’s activity represents intraday moves as compared to positions held by investors overnight. Bullish traders are also selling put options at the November $52.5 and $55 strikes, which suggests they expect shares to stay afloat, at least through expiration next month. Optimistic options players also made their mark in longer-dated contracts. Some investors initiated bull call spreads, buying approximately 2,000 calls at the December $65 strike for an average premium of $0.79 each, and selling about the same number of calls at the higher December $75 strike for an average premium of $0.21 apiece. Call spreaders are poised to profit should RIMM’s shares jump 15.8% over today’s high of $56.62 and trade above the average breakeven price of $65.58 by December expiration. Maximum potential profits of $9.42 per contract are attainable if the Blackberry producer’s shares rally 32.5% in the next couple of months to trade above $75.00 by expiration day. The Canada-based firm’s shares last traded above $75.00 back in March of 2010. Investors exchanged more than 296,000 option contracts on Research in Motion before 3:30 p.m. in…
by Option Review - September 29th, 2010 6:23 pm
Today’s tickers: MON, EWZ, XLB, HPQ, V, BCSI & SLB
MON - Monsanto Co. – Shares of the maker of genetically modified seeds seemed to be recovering at the start of the current session following Tuesday’s horrendous performance wherein the stock fell as much as 9.80% from an intraday high of $52.64 to a low of $47.50. MON’s shares managed to rebound 4.50% off Tuesday’s low of $47.50 to briefly touch an intraday high of $49.62, although the rally proved to be short-lived and shares are down 1.00% at $48.25 as of 3:15 pm ET. Though MON was unable to keep hold of earlier gains, one contrarian player is optimistic that Monsanto’s shares will reverse course and head back up by November expiration. The investor purchased a call spread, buying 5,000 calls at the November $55 strike at a premium of $0.85 each, and selling the same number of calls at the higher November $60 strike for a premium of $0.27 apiece. Net premium paid to establish the transaction amounts to $0.58 per contract. Thus, the investor is ready to make money should Monsanto’s shares surge 15.20% over the current price of $48.25 to surpass the effective breakeven point on the spread at $55.58 by November expiration. Maximum potential profits of $4.42 per contract are available to the bullish player if MON’s shares jump 24.35% to trade above $60.00 by expiration day.
EWZ - iShares MSCI Brazil Index ETF – Investors are placing near-term bearish bets on the Brazil fund this afternoon by selling calls to finance the purchase of put spreads in the October contract. The large pessimistic plays could be the work of traders hedging long positions or the mark of outright bearish bettors expecting the price of the underlying fund to slip lower ahead of expiration next month. Shares of the EWZ, an exchange-traded fund designed to replicate the price and yield performance of publicly traded securities in the aggregate in the Brazilian market – as measured by the MSCI Brazil Index, rallied…
by Option Review - September 28th, 2010 4:25 pm
Today’s tickers: CVS, DRIV, AVP, WAG, ADBE, PHM & COP
CVS - CVS Caremark Corp. – The better-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings report from Walgreen Co. this morning helped CVS’s shares higher during the trading session. Shares rallied as much as 3.365% to rein in an intraday high of $31.64. The increase in the price of the underlying stock inspired one options player to extend bullish sentiment on the stock by initiating a calendar roll. It looks like the investor purchased 10,000 calls at the November $30 strike at a premium of $1.11 each back on September 17, 2010, when shares were trading around $29.72 each. The surge in shares since the purchase bumped up premium on those now in-the-money calls, which the investor sold today for a premium of $2.09 apiece. Net profits on the sale amount to $0.98 per contract. Next the investor renewed optimism on CVS by purchasing a fresh batch of 10,000 calls at the higher January 2011 $32 strike at a premium of $1.64 a-pop. Profits on the new position are available to the trader if CVS’s shares jump 6.3% to surpass the effective breakeven price of $33.64 by expiration day in January.
DRIV - Digital River, Inc. – It looks like an investor expecting Digital River’s shares to remain range-bound through November expiration sold a strangle in the second half of the trading session. Shares of the provider of a variety of marketing solutions and services increased more than 5.50% this afternoon to touch an intraday high of $33.34. The strangle-strategist appears to have sold 2,500 calls at the November $35 strike for a premium of $1.35 each, and sold the same number of puts at the lower November $28 strike at a premium of $0.525 apiece. Gross premium pocketed on the transaction amounts to $1.875 per contract. The trader keeps the full amount of premium received on the strangle play if DRIV’s shares trade within the boundaries of the strike prices described through expiration day. The short positions in both call…
by Phil Davis - September 24th, 2010 8:33 am
What a fun day for debate!
Former Fed Chair, Paul Volcker went way off-script in Chicago yesterday and "moved unsparingly from banks to regulators to business schools to the Fed to money-market funds during his luncheon speech. He praised the new financial overhaul law, but said the system remained at risk because it is subject to future “judgments” of individual regulators, who he said would be relentlessly lobbied by banks and politicians to soften the rules."
Banking — Investment banks became “trading machines instead of investment banks [leading to] encroachment on the territory of commercial banks, and commercial banks encroached on the territory of others in a way that couldn’t easily be managed by the old supervisory system.”
Financial system — “The financial system is broken. We can use that term in late 2008, and I think it’s fair to still use the term unfortunately. We know that parts of it are absolutely broken, like the mortgage market which only happens to be the most important part of our capital markets [and has] become a subsidiary of the U.S. government.”
Risk management — “Markets that are prone to excesses in one direction or another are not simply managed under the assumption that we can assume that everybody follows a normal distribution curve. Normal distribution curves — if I would submit to you — do not exist in financial markets. Its not that they are fat tails, they don’t exist. I keep hearing about fat tails, and Jesus, it’s only supposed to occur every 100 years, and it appears every 10 years.”
The recession — “It’s so difficult to get out of this recession because of the basic disequilibrium in the real economy.”
This afternoon, Richmond Fed President Jeffrey Lacker will speak in Kentucky (his hometown) on "Reflections on Economics, Policy and Financial Crisis!" and it always makes me nervous when Fed Presidents put exclamation marks on the word "crisis" so we’ll be paying attention to that one. After market hours, at 4:30, Uncle Ben comes to the plate with "Implications of the Financial Crisis for Economics," which sounds like a snoozer but that’s three Fed guys in a row saying "crisis" in the same day – I don’t like it!
by Option Review - September 23rd, 2010 4:19 pm
Today’s tickers: CECO, ROST, LSI, ADBE, AVNR, PNC & ODP
CECO – Career Education Corp. – Shares of the for-profit provider of education geared toward career-oriented disciplines rallied as much as 10.9% during the session to secure an intraday high of $23.00 on analyst reports stating the industry is likely to rebound as bearish investors close out short positions. Options traders employed a mix of bullish and bearish strategies on the stock ahead of the release of the Education Department’s timeline for regulations on for-profit education industry firms tomorrow. One cautious investor prepared for CECO’s shares to falter ahead of October expiration by purchasing a ratio put spread. The options trader picked up 500 puts at the October $22 strike at a premium of $1.15 each, and sold 1,000 puts at the lower October $19 strike at a premium of $0.20 apiece. The net cost of the transaction amounts to $0.75 per contract. The investor is poised to profits should Career Education’s shares fall 7.6% from today’s high of $23.00 to breach the effective breakeven price of $21.25 by expiration day next month. Maximum potential profits of $2.25 are available to the trader if CECO shares plummet 17.4% to settle at $19.00 at expiration. In contrast, bullish players looking for a near-term rally picked up roughly 3,200 calls at the October $23 strike for an average premium of $1.02 each. Investors make money if shares gain 4.4% to surpass the average breakeven point at $24.02 by October expiration. The most optimistic traders purchased approximately 1,000 calls at the October $25 strike for an average premium of $0.43 a-pop. Call buyers at this strike stand ready to profit should shares surge 10.55% and exceed the average breakeven price of $25.43. Options implied volatility on stock is up sharply ahead of the Education Dept. announcement, and currently stands 11.6% higher on the day at 61.28%, as of 3:40 pm ET.
ROST – Ross Stores, Inc. – Shares of the operator of off-price retail apparel and home accessories stores increased as much as 2.3% during the trading session to secure an intraday high of $56.12. Ross Stores appeared on our scanners due to near-term activity in call options. It looks like the majority of trading in October contract calls is the work of one investor booking profits and rolling a previously purchased chunk of calls to a higher strike price. The investor likely…
by Option Review - March 24th, 2010 4:30 pm
Today’s tickers: SMH, X, WMT, SYMC, MOS, SKS, GE, GENZ, DVN & ADBE
SMH – Semiconductor HOLDRS Trust – Massive bearish positioning on the Semiconductor HOLDRS Trust, which holds shares of common stock issued by 20 different companies engaged in the semiconductor business, indicates shares of the underlying stock may be set to tumble lower ahead of expiration day next month. Shares of the SMH are down 2.40% to $27.92 with thirty minutes remaining in the trading session. It appears one investor purchased 50,000 put options at the April $27 strike for an average premium of $0.41 per contract. Such a large stake in bearish put options suggests the purchaser is perhaps paying for the privilege of securing downside protection on a long underlying stock position. If this is the case, the put contracts yield protection should shares of the SMH trade beneath the effective breakeven price of $26.59 ahead of expiration. Of course, it is also possible the trader does not currently own shares of the SMH. In this scenario the investor makes money if shares fall another 4.75% below the current price to breach the breakeven point on the puts at $26.59. The sudden flurry of options activity on the Semiconductor HOLDRS Trust lifted the overall reading of options implied volatility 7.8% to 26.35%. SMH-investors exchanged more than 131,900 contracts this afternoon, which represents nearly 72% of total existing open interest of 183,473 contracts.
X – United States Steel Corp. – Shares of iron and steel producer, United States Steel Corp., rallied 0.65% during afternoon trading to $63.75. Bullish traders anticipating continued share price appreciation for U.S. Steel purchased out-of-the-money call options in the October contract. Nearly 5,600 calls were coveted at the October $75 strike for an average premium of $4.68 apiece. Investors holding these call contracts stand ready to accrue profits if shares of the underlying stock surge 25% to surpass the effective breakeven share price of $79.68 ahead of expiration day in October. We note that U.S. Steel’s share price last traded above $80.00 during the final days of September 2008.
WMT – Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. – The largest retailer on the planet experienced a slight pullback in the value of its shares this afternoon perhaps on news the firm may sell $2 billion of 5- and 30-year senior notes. Shares edged 0.40% lower during the session stand at $55.68. Options traders expecting lower volatility…
by Option Review - December 16th, 2009 4:04 pm
Today’s tickers: UNH, F, EZCH, FBP, XOP, F, BMY, KFT, UNT, TIVO, ADBE & AMED
UNH – UnitedHealth Group, Inc. – Bullish investors stampeded the health and well-being company in late afternoon trading with shares up 3% to a new 52-week high of $32.25. Frenzied call activity on the stock drove option implied volatility up sharply by 19.5% to 45.17% from an intraday low of 37.37%. One investor was ready for the rally today, and banked profits on a previously established call position. The trader likely purchased about 20,000 calls at the now deep in-the-money December 23 strike price for a maximum premium of 3.00 per contract back on October 8, 2009, when UNH shares were at $24.13. Today the trader sold the calls for an average premium of 8.95 each. It looks like the investor took in net profits on the sale of at least 5.95 per contract for a total of $11.9 million. Next, it appears the trader extended bullish sentiment on the stock by establishing a larger call position. A big chunk of 30,000 calls were picked up at the now in-the-money January 31 strike for an average premium of 2.20 each. Thus, the trader breaks even on the new position if shares surpass $33.20 by expiration next month. Other bullish traders initiated call spreads on the stock. One UNH-bull bought 5,000 calls at the in-the-money January 31 strike for about 2.12 apiece, and sold the same number of calls at the higher January 34 strike for 70 cents premium each. The net cost of the spread amounts to 1.42 per contract and yields maximum potential profits of 1.58 apiece if shares rally up to $34.00 by January’s expiration day.
F – Ford Motor Co. – A late afternoon, large-volume put spread on the U.S. automaker is likely the work of an investor locking in gains enjoyed during Ford’s recent share price rally. Shares reached a new 52-week high of $9.64 during the trading session. The option trader looked to the March 2010 contract to purchase 18,000 puts at the March 9.0 strike for 62 cents apiece, spread against the sale of the same number of puts at the lower March 7.0 strike for 16 cents premium each. The net cost of the protective play amounts to 46 cents per contract. If the investor is indeed holding a long position in the underlying, the value of that…
by Phil Davis - October 11th, 2009 8:21 am
I’ve been beefing up our bullish plays on the Watch List.
If we’re going to get more bullish I thought it would be a good time to look for some bullish premises so we don’t feel totally silly paying 20-year high p/e’s for the S&P 500. Obviously, our main hope is that the stocks we buy will grow into their earnings so the next month’s worth of reports will be key. The bar for corporate earnings is still set at very easy to beat levels yet, like this limbo-playing child, when they announce their beats of very low expectations we’re going to get all excited and tell them how great they are doing.
The problem is, these are not kids who we hope may grow up one day to be President or CEOs of major companies. these ARE CEOs of major companies and they are being paid top salaries for top performance and we, the stock purchasing public, are paying top dollar for what should be SPECTACULAR performance, not beating 75% off last year’s earnings by a penny!
When I am being asked to buy IBM back at it’s all-time high or AMZN or BIDU or AM, PALM, NFLX, PCLN, URBN, UHS, CERN, CREE, GMCR, CY, SWM, TRLG, BKE, etc – then their performance better look like this:
Nothing against those particular companies, any individual company can be exceptional and beat the market, but - Are the companies we’re buying really doing exceptional things or are have we just developed such ridiculously low expectations that we have been psychologically conditioned (and Wall Street firms employ armies of behavioral psychologists for a reason) to treat these stocks and the CEOs who run them like our children? If your child was the child in the above picture and I asked you for $20 to see her limbo show – you might pay it. If it’s not your child though, would you even consider making an afternoon of it? No, of course not, for good money you expect to see the cool fire guy at the top of his game and that is what you should expect from companies trading at or near all-time highs – NO LESS!
I love President Obama but he was just given a Nobel Peace Prize simply for not being President Bush – low expectations! On Sept 17th, PALM announced that it lost 10 cents a share, not losing the 25 cents expected and gave lowered guidance for Q3. The non-adjusted…