by phil - May 9th, 2014 8:29 am
Look at the Russell!
Look at the Nasdaq! Are you seriously still holding onto your Dow, S&P and NYSE stocks? That's exactly what people did in 2008, when they were so used to the markets being saved whenever they dipped, that they ignored all the warning signs – until it was too late.
I know that I've been sounding like a broken record and you can call me Chicken Little but cut me a little slack as we are protecting profits here.
We have 5 virtual porfolios we track for our Members and the $100,000 Butterfly Portfolio is up 19.4% ($19,000), the $500,000 Long-Term Portfolio is up 9.6% ($48,000), the $100,000 Portfolio is down 5.8% ($5,800), the $500,000 Income Portfolio is up 6.4% ($32,000) and our $25,000 Portfolio is up 15.4% ($3,850). Overall, that's a gain of 8.8% on $1.225M deployed in 4 months.
The Short-Term Portfolio is a hedge to the Long-Term Portfolio, so we haven't cashed those in but the Income Portfolio doesn't have an external hedge, so we moved to cash on that one last month (BEFORE the Nas and Rut started crashing off decade highs) and the Butterfly Portfolio is self-hedging while the $25KP has just one position left.
Perhaps I'm wrong and the Nasdaq and the Russell will recover and the other indexes will all move up to new highs. Even if they do, our worst case is we miss a bit of a rally. If we're breaking out to new all-time highs from here – there will be plenty of money to be made. BUT – if I'm right and the market drops 5-10%, then our taking 110% off the table at the top means that when we buy stocks again at 90%, we are buying 120% of what we could have bought had we not wisely cashed out in the rally.
The REWARD for being cautious is owning 20% more shares if we're right, owning maybe 2.5% less shares if we're wrong or owning the same amount if the market stays flat. It doesn't take a degree in statistical analysis to see why I…
by Option Review - December 18th, 2012 1:54 pm
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 Option Review - September 7th, 2012 4:22 pm
Today’s tickers: CMG, SWHC & MIPS
CMG - Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. – Traders who initiated bullish bets on burrito maker, Chipotle Mexican Grill, on Thursday are sitting on serious overnight paper profits this morning, with shares in the restaurant operator up as much as 6.75% to hit $322.74 in the first half of the session. Some strategists hungry for an end-of-week rally in CMG looked to the weekly options contracts that are now in their final day of trading. Call open interest at the Sep. 07 ’12 $300 strike increased by 773 contracts since the prior session to total 1,501 contracts, with the majority of the fresh interest initiated by buyers paying an average premium of $0.30 per contract on Thursday morning. At the time of purchase, the calls were out-of-the-money given the underlying share price of roughly $294.00. But, by the close of trading on Thursday, the call options were squarely in-the-money with the stock ending the session at $302.33. The rally in CMG shares yesterday lifted premium on the calls to around $3.40 each by the end of the day, an 11-fold increase over the $0.30 per contract paid by early-bird buyers on Thursday morning. Fast forward to Friday morning; the sharp rally in Chipotle shares now has those $300 strike weekly calls deep in-the-money with a bid/ask spread of $22.20/$23.20 as of 11:30 a.m. in New York. Selling-to-close the positions now at $22.20 would make for overnight gains of around 7,300%. Traders could also decide to roll the calls out to maintain upside exposure in the name, or may hold the contracts through expiration and take delivery of the stock at an effective price of $300.30 a share. Like-minded bulls that purchased upside calls in the newly issued Sep. 14 ’12 expiration weekly options yesterday are seeing big gains in the value of their positions, as well.
by phil - August 8th, 2012 8:30 am
After hitting our lines ON THE BUTTON across the board (see yesterday's perfect predictions), we're taking a little pre-market tumble this morning led lower by our favorite short – PCLN, which has negotiated their way to a 15% drop on an earnings miss that didn't surprise any of our Members as it's been a focus short of ours for ages and is in both of our $25,000 Portfolios as well as our Long Put List with the Oct $540 puts, which we rolled into from the $510 puts for a net of $7.
With PCLN dropping to $575 pre-market, we won't do as well as we did on CMG last month (another focus put of ours) but we should get about $25, which will add, at 5 contracts, $9,000 to our $25KPs! When asked why we were shorting PCLN in yesterday's Member Chat, my response was:
Because the exchange rate sucks for one thing (PCLN is very big in Europe), because a great Q is priced in as PCLN has zoomed up with EXPE from last Q but are now outpacing EXPE (who are a much better company) by 20% over the past year. Also, PCLN has been diversifying into regular travel and cannibalizing their own business and, of course, because PCLN has a p/e of 30, which is a good 50% above the rest of the sector.
That pretty much sums up PCLN's earnings report. They are not a terrible company, they were simply over-priced into earnings and we took advantage of it. Now that we've had our little correction, we're moving on. We pressed our bearish bets yesterday as we expected a rejection at our Must Hold levels and my comment to Members on the way up was: "If you are going to be bearish – days like this are when you dig in your heels and shore up your positions – not the day you capitulate!"
As you can see from Dave Fry's SPY chart, the "rally" looks a lit less impressive if you notice the volume, which is lower now than it was before we went off the cliff in May or August or July of last year. Traders never seem to learn that these resistance lines are very hard to cross when there is a lack of participation but it's not because of any…
by phil - July 23rd, 2012 8:25 am
How great is this? We flipped bearish on Wednesday's poor Beige Book outlook (not to mention drought concerns and Hugh Hendry's warning that "Bad things are going to happen") and Thursday we noted it was looking a little too much like last July, where we fell off a cliff right after options expiration and my very appropriate comment at the end of Thursday morning's post was:
Clack, clack, clack – like a roller coaster going up in the dark, we don't know when we'll get that big "wheeee" but we do know it's coming!
Fortunately, we did not wait with our Long Put List going out in the Thursday Morning Alert to Members at 10:18, with all bearish trade ideas that included these gems:
- AMZN Oct $180 puts at $2.75, still $2.75 – even (all as of Friday's close)
- CMG Sept $350 puts at $5, now $35 – up 600%
- DIA Dec $117 puts at $2.50, now $2.80 – up 12%
- ISRG Jan $350 puts at $1.70, now $5 – up 194%
- MA Jan $290 puts at $2.85, now $3.40 – up 19%
- SPY Oct $120 puts at $1, now $1.15 – up 15%
- V Jan $100 puts at $2, now $2.30 – up 15%
- XRT Jan $53 puts at $2, now $2.20 – up 10%
So a couple of big winners already and, of course, we're done with those (see Stock World Weekly for more trade ideas) and the way we work our Long Put List is to take those winners off the table and utilize our "fresh horses" for the next leg down. Don't worry, we won't run out, there are 13 more picks on deck for our Members with AMZN (above) our top choice for this week (also featured with a slightly different trade in SWW).
Even our aggressive oil puts should be doing well in our small portfolios as well as our bullish VXX trade and, of course, our EDZ and TZA hedges as China dropped 600 points this morning and the Russell is testing our 775 target already. Things may be worse than we thought they were going to be as 775 may not hold on the RUT and that breakdown can lead us to test our -5% lines on the Russell (760), Nasdaq (2,850) and the…
by Option Review - July 20th, 2012 1:54 pm
Today’s tickers: CMG, N & SUN
CMG - Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. – Lower-than-expected second-quarter sales reported by the operator of fast-casual Mexican food restaurants on Thursday sent shares in Chipotle Mexican Grill down as much as 24% on Friday to $307.20 and sparked frenzied trading in the options. The high-flying stock had been up roughly 20% year-to-date as of the close of trading yesterday. Chipotle options saw both bullish and bearish trading this morning, with volume topping 105,000 contracts as of 11:35 a.m. ET versus the stock’s average daily options volume of 14,547 contracts. Traders positioning for shares to extend losses snapped up weekly puts, paying an average premium of $12.55 per contract for around 2,000 of the July 27 ’12 $315 strike contracts. Bearish activity spread to far out-of-the-money puts expiring in August, with upwards of 1,000 contracts in play at each of the Aug. $295 and $300 strikes. Meanwhile, traders with an appetite for a Chipotle rebound in the near future purchased upside calls. The Aug. $350, $355 and $360 call options each traded more than 1,100 times in the first couple of hours of the trading session, while the Aug. $420 strike call changed hands around 1,400 times. Traders that appear to have purchased most of these call options stand ready to profit in the event Chipotle’s stock reverses course ahead of expiration.
N - NetSuite, Inc. – The software company popped up on our ‘hot by options volume’ market scanner this morning due to heavier than usual activity in the August expiry puts. Shares in NetSuite are down 6.6% on the session to stand at $50.05 as of midday in New York. The San Mateo, California-based company is scheduled to report second-quarter earnings after the final bell next Thursday and it looks like some strategists are picking up puts in preparation. Options volume is heaviest at the Aug. $45 strike where upwards of 2,100 puts changed hands versus open interest…
by phil - May 17th, 2012 8:04 am
What a week to do an IPO!
Will Facebook save the markets tomorrow with a successful roll-out of the largest IPO of all time or will it be the straw that breaks the camel's back, with a disappointing open that sends the Nasdaq off a cliff along with their entire over-priced sector? Either way – this is going to be fun.
We can argue the merits of Facebook's value (or lack thereof) all day long but, scam or not, it's very likely FB will set off a buying frenzy in the space and we finish the week off with a bang. If that doesn't happen – I will be very, very bearish but from what I'm hearing and the way they are extending the offer and raising the price – it's way oversubscribed. Also, we have to consider that people are cashing out 1-5% of their holdings to raise cash for FB on Friday – sure it's moronic, but that's what people do so you have to put yourself in a position of someone who wants to put 5% of your portfolio in to Facebook (the way you wish you had put 5% into Google at $80 when they IPO'd) tomorrow – what would you be doing with the rest of your portfolio today?
Meanwhile, the rest of the World is falling apart with Europe turning sharply lower as Spain sells bonds at record high yields (5.106% for 4-year notes) this morning after announcing that their Q1 GDP was -0.4% at the same time as Moody's indicates they will be cutting the credit ratings of 21 Spanish Banks this evening AND, to top it all off – there is a run on Bankia, which Spain nationalized last week – with $1.3Bn pulled from accounts this past week! This sent Spain's markets down 1.6% and Italy (who is next) fell 2%, sending the Euro down 1% to $1.2668 and the Pound followed it down to $1.5832 (while EUR/CHF holds steady at 1.2009 in the most blatant currency manipulation ever witnessed).
Wow – that's a lot of bad stuff! Maybe too many bad things – as in a bit suspicious that all this bad stuff happens at once – as if maybe someone WANTS to force a panic bottom? If so, I applaud them – we certainly needed to shake things up a little…