Posts Tagged ‘BRK.A’

Tempting Tuesday – As Usual

If it's Tuesday we must be bouncing!

Clearly, from the recent sell-off, we have a whole lot of bouncing to do.  Yesterday we failed our Must Hold lines on the Nasdaq, the NYSE and the Russell (the Dow never got there) and the S&P was briefly below 1,360 and recovered to end the day at 1,366 – still below our weak bounce level of 1,372.

That leaves us in the same place as we were on the 11th, when I titled the morning post – "Weak Bounces and Beige Books."  As we expected at the time, we made it to our 1,384 level on the S&P and then failed to hold it and now we come in for our 2nd tests of our 3 significant levels – 1,360, 1,372 and 1,384 – that's our range until it breaks and THEN we can make some directional bets.  

In this market chop, our best strategy has been to bet both ways and our virtual $25,000 Portfolio is now up about $16,000 for the year but that's nothing compared to our completely neutral FAS Money Portfolio, which has turned a $2,000 spread into almost $8,000 in profits in the same 4 months – just using our very simple strategy of selling premium on a regular basis:  

Last year's FAS Money Portfolio was also a great performer and it's a great time to get started following as the current position is down $706 so you sure didn't miss anything but a loss by taking up the current position.  It's a great exercise to set up a virtual portfolio and follow these trades along as we are constantly managing these positions to maximize the amount of premium we sell so it's a great practice portfolio for rolling and adjusting short positions, teaching you the value of BEING THE HOUSE!  

Woodstock for Capitalists: A Film About Warren Buffett, Charlie Munger, and Berkshire Hathaway Shareholders RallySpeaking of investing value – don't miss our contest to win 2 passes to Berkshire Hathaway's Annual Shareholder Meeting!  Hopefully we'll get a nice report from whoever wins – it's always good to get a little insight into what the Oracle of Omaha is thinking.  

My thinking is that – while our Virtual Portfolios are all performing very well this year – I still can't shake my overall feeling that the markets are very weak internally.  Today we are hoping that AAPL will save us (earnings…
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S&P Downgrades US to AA+ – Tied With Belgium!


Officials at ratings firm, Standard & Poor’s, said U.S. Treasury debt no longer deserved to be considered among the safest investments in the World.  S&P removed for the first time the triple-A rating the U.S. has held for 70 years, saying the budget deal recently brokered in Washington didn’t do enough to address the gloomy long-term picture for America’s finances. It downgraded U.S. debt to AA+, a score that ranks below Liechtenstein

S&P said "the downgrade reflects our opinion that the fiscal consolidation plan that Congress and the Administration recently agreed to falls short of what, in our view, would be necessary to stabilize the government’s medium-term debt dynamics." It also blamed the weakened "effectiveness, stability, and predictability" of U.S. policy making and political institutions at a time when challenges are mounting.

In other words, the ship is sinking and the captain and crew are doing nothing but rearranging the deck chairs.  S&P was supposed to release this report this afternoon (Friday) but the Treasury Department caused a delay by arguing the math the S&P was using (a $2Tn discrepancy).  At 8pm, the S&P decided the Treasury was wrong and went ahead and released the report, not only downgrading our Debt to AA+ but giving us a NEGATIVE OUTLOOK as well.  Now we have to contemplate what the effect of this change may be…

Let’s first keep in mind that this was expected.  In fact, it’s ridiculous how long it took for someone to downgrade us.  JPM estimates that $4Tn worth of treasuries are pledged as collateral by borrowers such as banks and derivative traders.  The change in status from one ratings agency is unlikely to trigger any immediate covenants (a primer on Sovereign Debt Ratings)  but it may take only one more before borrowers are required to come up with many, many Billions of Dollar of cash or securities to keep their creditors at bay – essentially – it’s a margin call on America!  

Well, I say this was expected but I mean by us.  We cashed out today (see morning post) but Little Timmy Geithner, who blew his chance this week to resign with America’s credit rating intact under his watch, was on Fox News in April SPECIFICALLY stating that there was "NO RISK" that the US could lose it’s AAA rating.  Read the article or watch the video –…
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Warren Buffett’s Secret to Making 100% a Year

I love the Berkshire Hathaway annual report!  

Especially Warren Buffett’s letter to shareholders.  The report gives us a great view of the overall economy from a man who has his finger in every pot and his letter to investors gives us a very good insight as to how things are going in the various sectors his operations cover.  Most importantly, what I have learned in my own 40 years or reading Mr. Buffett’s reports (my Grandfather was a shareholder) is what should shape any long-term investing strategy:  Patience and performance.  

I often preach to members the joys of letting gains compound and our $25,000-$100,000 Virtual Portfolio, which is currently at $27,531 (up 10%) after 4 weeks, is an exercise in how to quickly compound small gains over the course of a year.  Primarily, we try to follow Warren Buffett’s Number One Rule of Investing, which is: Don’t Lose Money.  Buffett’s Rule #2 is: See Rule #1 and like us, it’s not that nothing Warren Buffett ever buys loses money – it’s just that he doesn’t ever buy things he isn’t willing to stick with UNTIL they make money.  Sure we take a few losses along the road but, by being selective in our entries, we don’t discard stocks that we carefully selected just because the market temporarily disagrees with our valuations.  

In our $25,000 Virtual Portfolio, it’s only been a month so we’ve only closed our winners so far and they were SPWRA with a 100% gain (these are option trades), INTC with a 40% gain, NFLX with a 42% gain, EDZ with a 75% gain, XLF with a 15% gain, VIX with a 50% gain, USO with a 53% gain and XLE with a 5% gain.  In 19 trading day we have made 28 virtual portfolio moves (counting each leg) and, as I said, netted a 10% return to date.  Interestingly, we’ve been playing it very cautious as we still have over $18,000 of virtual cash on the sidelines, hoping for a sign to get a little more aggressive next week.  

How, you may wonder, are we going to get to $100,000 by December with just $27,531 in February?  THAT is the lesson Warren Buffett has to give us and that lesson is COMPOUNDING RETURNS!  Since 1965, Berkshire Hathaway has returned an overall gain of 490,409% to it’s shareholders.  $10,000 handed
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Smart Virtual Portfolio Management III – The $1,000,000 Virtual Portfolio (Members Only)

You can't lose what you don't have.

The reverse is true for people with Millions in a stock virtual portfolio.  Phil points out that the reson you don't run a large hedge fund trying to make 100% gains is that the people who invest in those funds are more interested in what we call "preservation of capital" rather than generating wealth.  Generally, the people who have $1M of investable cash to play the markets have already achieved a great deal of success, often by taking their own risks along the way.  For most of us, $1M is hard to come by and, while we want to put that money to work – we certainly don't want it wondering off and joining the circus.

As a high net-worth investor, you need to decide how to diversify your assets to suit your long-term goals.  We're not going to get into that here – let's just say that if you want to gamble and go for some of our "more exciting" plays, perhaps allocate a portion of the virtual portfolio to those.  Whether that's 5% or 10% or 30% is up to you but it is good to fence off your risk to a sensible, manageable amount that you really can afford to lose while keeping the bulk of your market allocation well diversified and well-hedged. 

I have my own 5% Rule.  Phil's famous 5% Rule deals with the predictable movement of stocks in their trading ranges but my 5% Rule, which Phil also agrees with is simply "Do not put more than 5% of your virtual portfolio in the stock of any one company! This is so much easier said than done for many reasons!!

[1] Transition to Large Numbers

Moving from a 5 or 6 figure account to a 7 figure account has a profound impact on many traders. In fact, our friend Dr. Brett refers to the effect “performance anxiety” can have on a virtual portfolio and notes that one of the causes is the responsibility felt by traders as larger dollar amounts are traded.  Phil advocates a system of "purging" Short-Term Virtual Portfolio gains when they gets too large and shifting money into safer investments in a Long-Term Virtual Portfolio – it is good to have a strategy for balancing out your holdings, not just target goals.

While it might be acceptable to put
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Monday Medical Miracle – Health Care Finally Passes

Paul Krugman summed it up nicely:

There is, as always, a tunnel at the end of the tunnel: We’ll spend years if not decades fixing this thing.

Love it or hate it, the US has just taken a big step towards nationalized health care so maybe now we can finally stop talking about it and move on with the investing!  I think medical devices (IHI) should do well with 32M new patients – that’s a play we made quite a while ago though and, like pretty much everything else in this market – they look a little toppy. 

As I noted in the Weekend Wrap-Up, we came to the decision to get back to cash on Friday, removing all uncovered bullish bets and adding our disaster plays, no longer hedges (as there’s not much to hedge) but as bets that the Global markets are due for a little correction at this point.  I’m already feeling good about the decision as the futures look awful this morning (8am) as the Hang Seng dropped 2% (437 points) and couldn’t get back over 21,000 during the session and has now given up all of March’s gains.  The Dow is still up about 400 points in March as well – hopefully our fall won’t be as violent as what the Hang Seng saw this morning.  India held up well, only losing 1% after Friday’s surprise rate increase. 

The Dollar was very strong after the Health Care vote and we’re sitting below $1.50 to the Pound and we’ve bounced off $1.35 to the Euro twice this morning – a break below there could get very interesting!  The Yen is staying down at 90.5 to the Dollar, which is a relief for Japanese exporters but I’m not sure they’ll hold 90 this week.  Copper broke below $3.40 on Friday – confirming our bearish turn and is at $3.32 this morning.  Gold once again is testing $1,100 and silver failed $17 at $16.82 with $16.50 being a bearish signal for metals.  Oil dropped all the way to $79.31 this morning and we’ll see if they can get back over $80 but we are going to be thrilled with our short plays (see wrap-up) in that sector

Risk aversion has come up after developments in India and Greece,” said Henrik Gullberg, a fixed-income strategist at Deutsche Bank AG in London. “Any exiting of the current accommodative policy stance
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Another Weak Weekly Wrap-Up

This is getting tedious!

We were bearish going into the week but not this bearish.  It is unusual though that we have a weekly wrap-up with nothing but negative plays as we did last week but there was nothing very positive in the outlook after the action of the week of the 16th through the 20th, pictured here on this chart.

As I said in the last Weekly Wrap-Up: "Of course nothing beats sector specific covers against your own mix of positions but we like using the DIA puts as general virtual portfolio coverage although, as I mentioned last week, both the DAX and the Qs may now have farther to fall."  The Qs ended up dropping 8.5% for the week while the DAX tumbled 6%, underperforming other global indexes as we had expected it would.  Our hedge play , the DIA June $77 puts, which we went with at $8.22 on Friday and half covered with March $75 puts at $3.85 ended up at $9.85 and $5.40, not much improvement but accomplishing it's goal of converting a net $6.29 entry into puts that are now 100% in the money to our net entry.  At this point, every point down on the Dow is a penny we realize in intrinsic value.  Per our original plan, the $75 puts can still be rolled to 2x the Apr $66 puts, now $2.32, allowing for our long puts to be $11 in the money against the puts we sold.  The reality is more complex than that as we day-traded the covers around and rolled up the longer puts but we went into this weekend with the same bearish half-cover, not wanting to take chances after Friday's poor performance.

On Monday morning, I was not at all enthusiastic about our prospects for the week as we had the Bernanke testimony Tuesday and Wednesday and Trichet started us off with a thud by stating: ""In recent weeks we have seen the first signs of falling credit flows.  An important part of this fall is demand-driven. However…there are indications that falling credit flows reflect also supply-side factors and tight financing conditions associated with a phenomenon of deleveraging.  If such a behavior became widespread across the banking system, it would undermine the raison d’etre of the system as a
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The Oracle Speaks – Words of Wisdom From Warren Buffett

Boy is this a tough market, even Berkshire Hathaway profits dropped 96%.

First of all, stop right now if you haven't read Warren Buffett's Chaiman's Letter in the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Report.  He can tell you a lot more about the state of the economy than I can.  Although I will go over some of the highlights of The Oracle of Omaha's 100-page report, you should read the whole thing – go ahead and read it, then come back – I'll wait… 

Berkshire Hathaway has produced a compounded annual gain in value of 362,319% since it's founding in 1964, about 10 times what you would have gotten investing in the S&P 500, roughly a 20% annual growth rate.  Included in that figure is a 9.6% decrease in book value last year, the first loss since 2001 and the second loss EVER.  The average S&P company dropped 37% of their book value in 2008 and this year is looking worse already.  "By the fourth quarter," says Mr. Buffett, "the credit crisis, coupled with tumbling home and stock prices, had produced a paralyzing fear that engulfed the country. A freefall in business activity ensued, accelerating at a pace that I have never before witnessed. The U.S. – and much of the world – became trapped in a vicious negative-feedback cycle. Fear led to business contraction, and that in turn led to even greater fear."

Buffett does not provide a positive outlook, he expects a rough 2009 and "for that matter, probably well beyond" but that does not shake his outlook that, over time, investments made today will pay off in the future.  He has a quote that is almost identical to one of mine: "Whether we’re talking about socks or stocks, I like buying quality merchandise when it is marked down."

Commentary on the housing market was: "The 1997-2000 fiasco should have served as a canary-in-the-coal-mine warning for the far-larger conventional housing market. But investors, government and rating agencies learned exactly nothing from the manufactured-home debacle. Instead, in an eerie rerun of that disaster, the same mistakes were repeated with conventional homes in the 2004-07 period: Lenders happily made loans that borrowers couldn’t repay out of their incomes, and borrowers just as happily signed up to meet those payments. Both parties counted on “house-price appreciation” to make this otherwise impossible arrangement work. It was Scarlett
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Zero Hedge

Dollar Struggles; More Losses Likely Before Better Demand is Found

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Submitted by Marc To Market.

The US dollar fell against most of the major and emerging market currencies for the second consecutive week.  The combination of market positioning, weak confidence that the Fed will hike rates this year, and the rise in some industrial commodities seemed to be the main drivers.  Technical considerations warn of scope for additional dollar losses in the coming sessions.  

Among the major currencies, the Australian and New Zealand dollars did best.  Both appreciated by about 4% against the greenback. The RBA signaled no strong urgency to cut rates again, and New Zealand drew succor from a recovery in milk prices.  

The yen was the weakest of the majors. It los...

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Phil's Favorites

Bernanke's Balderdash


Bernanke’s Balderdash

Courtesy of David Stockman

The US and world economies are drifting inexorably into the next recession owing to the deflationary collapse of commodities, capital spending and world trade. These are the inevitable “morning after” consequence of the 20-year global credit binge which has now reached its apogee.

The apparent global boom during that period was actually a central bank driven excursion into the false economics of household borrowing to inflate consumption in the DM economies; and frenzied, uneconomic investing to inflate GDP in China and the EM.

The common denominator was falsification of financial prices. By destroying honest price discovery...

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Market News

News You Can Use From Phil's Stock World


Financial Markets and Economy

Bond Funds Have Been Borrowing to Boost Returns (Bloomberg)

For more than two decade, Bill Gross did the seemingly impossible, according to Bill Gross.

Drug that rose 5,000% hasn't come down in price (CNN)

Remember the drug used by cancer and AIDS patients that skyrocketed from $13.50 to $750 a pill? Well, the price has yet to come back to earth.

The company still has not cut the price below $750 even thoug...

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Kimble Charting Solutions

Free Premium Trail Offer & Free Webinar Viewing Available Now!

Courtesy of Chris Kimble.


Ryan Detrick and I produced a webinar this week, covering some new indicators we created, which we shared publicly for the first time.

We also shared two new Buy & Hold indicators we created, as well as two short-term trades, that look goo...

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Chart School

Bulls Keep Buying Into The Close

Courtesy of Declan.

Good stuff for bulls as resistance levels get ticked off on the advance. There breathing room for many indices and a chance for consolidation. Nit pickers could point to light volume, but it would be hard for buyers to be coming in here given the sequence of gains.

The Nasdaq 100 still remains tagged to resistance. Can it break tomorrow or will sellers make an appearance. All I know is yet another short trade of mine is stopped out. I should add, I haven't touched my investment account. I would be looking to buy if I had the funds available.

The S&P made a decisive push past its 50-day MA. Next resistance is up at 2,044. Tech...

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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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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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Sector Detector: Searching for solid support in the face of global headwinds

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

Courtesy of Sabrient Systems and Gradient Analytics

Uncertainty about the health of the global economy led investors to flee U.S. equities during Q3, primarily driven by worries about China's growth prospects and the Federal Reserve’s decision to not raise rates. Sure, there are plenty of real and perceived headwinds, but on balance it seems that a recession here at home is not in the cards. And when you consider sentiment and the technical picture, it appears that a continuation of Friday’s bounce is in store. The question remains as to whether the seasonally strong Q4 will be able to propel the bulls through levels of resistance that have built up.

In this weekly update, I give my view o...

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Swing trading portfolio - week of October 5th, 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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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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Watch the Phil Davis Special on Money Talk on BNN TV!

Kim Parlee interviews Phil on Money Talk. Be sure to watch the replays if you missed the show live on Wednesday night (it was recorded on Monday). As usual, Phil provides an excellent program packed with macro analysis, important lessons and trading ideas. ~ Ilene


The replay is now available on BNN's website. For the three part series, click on the links below. 

Part 1 is here (discussing the macro outlook for the markets) Part 2 is here. (discussing our main trading strategies) Part 3 is here. (reviewing our pick of th...

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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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About Ilene:

Ilene is editor and affiliate program coordinator for PSW. She manages the site market shadows, archives, more. Contact Ilene to learn about our affiliate and content sharing programs.

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