by phil - May 15th, 2012 7:05 am
Here we go again!
It was only last Tuesday we were watching that 1,360 line on the S&P but, at the time, we were looking for it to hold as we finished last Monday at 1,370 – in a totally fake pump into the close. Even early Tuesday morning, the Futures were being pumped up to reel in the suckers but I warned in the morning post:
There is no particular reason for the move, other than this being Tuesday in a manipulated market. Neither oil ($97.38) or gold ($1,628) or copper ($3.71) or silver ($29.73) or even gasoline ($2.97) give any indication of consumer demand for commodities. "Fixing" the charts does not mean you have fixed the economy!
We all know what happened next – we failed to hold that 1,360 line on the S&P as the Euro failed to hold $1.30 and Greece was unable to form a coalition government (we also had disappointing Retail Sales numbers) and this morning (6:45) oil is $94.74, gold is $1,558, copper is $3.53, silver $28.23 and gasoline is STILL $2.97.
The last thing we should do is complain about gasoline prices – we still pay 1/2 of what Europe does and even China is paying $5.31 a gallon – 25% more than the US average $4.19. At this point, gas prices are the only commodity not falling down and that's because they are the easiest to manipulate – the last bastion of the speculator – if you will.
With that mythical summer driving season on the way, even we stopped shorting oil at $94 and gasoline is now a joke at $2.97 as that's $124.74 per barrel – a 33% per barrel mark-up at retail. At the pump, $4.19 a gallon means you are paying $175.98 at the pump – that's an 87% mark-up! Actually, we shouldn't look at it as 87%, that's misleading – when oil was $60 per barrel, gasoline was $1.85 at the pump and that was $77.70 and the refiners were making very good money. Why would it cost $81.98 to refine and retail a $94 barrel of oil when it only costs $17.70 to refine and retail a $60 barrel of oil? See – it's a rip-off! Somebody, somewhere is massively screwing you over – that much should be obvious to even a Republican Senator.
by phil - April 17th, 2012 8:27 am
Wheeeee, what a ride!
As you can see from David Fry's chart of the SPY, we're all over the place but, notably, there's a method to the market's madness as high-volume selling is followed by low-volume buying – allowing the funds to dump out onto the retail bagholders at top dollar while the carnival barkers in the MSM tell the sheeple to buy those f'ing dips.
Cramer said, in last night's show, that the Dow is composed of big international companies that were finally able to break free from concerns over Europe’s debt crisis. For the entire month of April, these stocks were held hostage to the Europe’s debt troubles. Cramer said most of these companies have no real ties to Europe, though, so the fears are overblown.
We ended up with what amounted to a frontsie-backsie day where all of the last month's winners, stocks that were unaffected by the weak euro and the miserable European stock markets, got pummeled, while the losers that had become risk free shorts because of an expected European decline were actually able to rally.
What a moron! Seriously – "frontsie-backsie"??? I guess he needs to treat his audience like they are 2 because bigger kids might realize that telling investors to ignore Europe would be just as idiotic as an Asian or European carnival barker telling the rubes over there to ignore America when making investment decisions. Is it really possible, in this day and age, that people still believe America is immune to what is happening in the rest of the World?
Look at the downtrend in the Global Commodities Index – do you think you are immune from that? I guess, to some extent we are, because CNBC's sponsors continue to use any excuse to pump up the PRICE of commodities, no matter how much DEMAND falls off (see yesterday's chart on gasoline volume consumption).
As Fundamental investors, we can often be a bit ahead of the curve but we find the market usually catches up to reality at some point. Cramer and his ilk know they can fool all of the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time (known as their "core audience") but even the mighty Corporate Media can't fool all of the people all of the time.
by Option Review - September 28th, 2011 2:15 pm
Today’s tickers: FSLR, DBC, CDE & SNDK
FSLR - First Solar, Inc. – Put options are active on the world’s largest maker of thin-film solar modules this morning, with shares in the Tempe, Arizona-based company falling as much as 8.35% to touch an intraday low of $66.23. Shares fell after analysts at Cantor Fitzgerald lowered their 2011 EPS estimates for First Solar, cut their target share price to $55.00 from $88.00, and reiterated a ‘Sell’ rating on the stock. A debit put spread initiated in the December contract may yield maximum potential profits to one bearish trader if shares in FSLR drop to $55.00 at expiration. It looks like the trader purchased 2,000 in-the-money puts at the Dec. $70 strike for an average premium of $11.50 each, and sold the same number of puts at the lower Dec. $55 strike at an average premium of $4.83 apiece. Net premium paid to initiate the spread amounts to $6.67 per contract. The investor profits at expiration in December if shares in First Solar fall 4.4% off today’s low of $66.23 to breach the effective breakeven point on the spread at $63.33. Maximum potential profits of $8.33 per contract are available to the trader should shares plunge 16.95% to trade below $55.00 at December expiration. Options implied volatility on the stock is up 10.05% at 85.13% as of 12:30 pm EDT.
DBC - PowerShares DB Commodity Index Tracking Fund – Shares in the PowerShares DB Commodity Index Tracking Fund, an ETF that tracks the performance of the DBIQ Optimum Yield Diversified Commodity Index Excess Return, are down slightly by 0.20% to stand at $27.05 this morning. The price of the underlying has fallen 10.5% since the start of September, but options activity on the fund today suggests at least one strategist may benefit from…
by phil - February 5th, 2011 6:14 am
Here we are again!
The last time I wrote a Breakout Defense article was back on December 11th when I said: "Wow! I mean wow! Will this market ever go down? My mother called me this morning and she’s raising her GDP outlook for 2011 too – that’s how crazy things have gotten out there. I’m just waiting for the Pope to come out and tell us to buy CMG and Netflix and THEN we’ll know it’s a sign." Clearly, my Mom and the Pope nailed it as the the Dow is up another 500 points (4.3%) since then and CMG made a comeback yesterday and is a bit higher than Dec. 10th's finish at $238.22 and NFLX is well above $194.63 so the infallibility streak continues for the pontiff!
As with last time, I would urge you to spend some time reading (and now viewing) David Fry's market commentary over at ETF digest. Dave's take on the IWM, which we have been playing this week, is that it is still rolling over and that investors should not be fooled by the Dow. I'm not here to debate the points – this is an article about what we can do to make sure we don't miss the rally train if it does leave the station and, like last time, it's very easy to set aside a small amount of capital into highly leveraged trades like this, which can make excellent returns on even small rises in the market. On the whole, I remain cautious and still believing that we may be in a blow-off top but we have plenty of bearish short-term bets and we need some balance – just in case…
We had just a 4.3% gain since our December picks and check out this performance on those already:
- FAS Apr $20/25 bull call spread paired with the sale of the April $21 puts for net .15, now $3.98, up 2,553%.
- DBC Apr $27 calls at $1, now $2.05 – up 105%
- 4 DBC Jan $22/27 bull call spread paired with the sale of the 3 USO 2013 $30 puts for net $170, now $740 – up 335%
- DBC Jan $26/30 bull call spread paired with the sale of
by phil - January 7th, 2011 8:29 am
I don't know what the Jobs will be but I'm betting on disappointment.
I had said to Members yesterday that I liked the Jan QQQQ $56 puts at .77 and the Weekly (next week, not today) QQQQ $56 puts at .53 as good ways to play a jobs miss. My comment in Member Chat was that I felt the ADP figures pushed expectations up significantly higher and now we would be much more likely to disappoint with almost any number short of 250,000 jobs added.
The key is the seasonal adjustments but there was already some very disturbing jobs numbers in the Gallup Poll, which came out last night and showed unemployment RISING from 9.3 to 9.6% in December and, even worse, the number of Underemployed workers shot up from 18.5 to 19%, just 0.5% lower than we were in January of last year.
Gallups Job Creation index showed no improvement in December but it is holding +10, which is the best net level we've had since October of 2008. So we have ADP going one way, yesterday's unemployment numbers were flat and Gallup says things are getting worse. 8:30 will be very interesting indeed.
While we wait for the number, let's take a look at last week's post to see how things are tracking. Monday morning I mentioned we liked FCX short at $120 (a trade that was reiterated Tuesday morning) as we felt the run in copper was overdone. It was a rough week but FCX is down at $116 now so we're on track at the moment of course we took a spread in chat, which was the Feb $119/110 bear put spread at $3.60, selling the Jan $120 calls for $3.60. That spread is now $4.60 and the calls have dropped to $2.30 for a nice net $2.30 gain already.
I said that $90 was already ridiculous for oil and we shouldn't go any higher. We picked up the USO Feb $40 puts on Tuesday morning in Member Chat at $2.10 and those are now $3.70 so a nice $1.60 gain there, which is about the same as if we had just shorted the stock as it dropped from $39 that…
by phil - January 6th, 2011 7:29 am
Russell 8-0-0, Russell 8-0-0! Wherefore art thou Russell8-0-0? Deny thy dollar and refuse to fall, or, if thou spike not, be but consolidating at resistance and I’ll happily Capitulate….
If it's good enough for fair Juliet, it's going to have to be good enough for us as the Russell finally makes it over our 800 target – the last barrier that was keeping us on the bearish side. Above these lines – it's time to stop worrying and love the rally as we romanticize the deadly combination of QE2 the Obama tax cuts as: "A pair of star-crossed lovers take their life, whose misadventured piteous overthrows doth with their death bury their parents’ strife."
Of course Willie Shakespeare has nothing on Jimmy Cramer, who's pearls of wisdom are also sure to be repeated centuries from now. Last night the Bard of Wall Street sang a veritable sonnet in praise of the stock market and foretold a tale of woe for anyone dumb enough to take profits into this rally:
We got the correction this morning, Dow fell 35 points… Today's action was proof positive that you need to stop worrying and learn to love corrections… What scares me, and what should scare you, is that if you sell your stocks here, you won't be able to get back in. You should be worried about stocks getting away from you, because I think we can be on the verge of something big – something very positive. FORGET the fact that stocks have run up a lot in the last 6 months. For more than 10 years, this market has done nothing, THAT is the most important frame of reference…
What's changed? We are finally starting to see big breakouts from a slew of breakouts from several large cap companies including: CAT, UTX, FCX, SWK, CBE, ETN, CSX, UNP and so many other big industrials. Ladies and gentlemen, we have waited over a decade for this move and what do people want to do now that it has arrived? They want to sell! That's right, they want to sell. That's right. They want to dump the stocks (sell button sound effect) because they are up
by phil - December 28th, 2010 8:24 am
Looks like we picked the wrong week to short FCX!
Copper hit a new all-time high in Shanghai this morning (as the guy who owns 90% of London's closed for the holiday exchange supplies sold it to himself for more money than he did yesterday) and gold is back at $1,400 in the futures and that should give us a better entry on FCX puts than we expected for round 2 but Paul Krugman has me worried now that maybe commodity prices are just high because the World hasn't got enough of them to go around. Usually Paul and I agree but i think he may be discounting the effect of a 10% decline in the dollar a little too much – which is understandable as he is still arguing for more stimulus while I'm arguing that the way they are stimulating now is causing this problem and can not and should not be sustained.
Still, we have to be pragmatic. That's why, this weekend, I posted our "Secret Santa Inflation Hedges for 2011" as a follow-on to the "Breakout Defense – 5,000% in 5 Trades or Less" ideas of the 11th and, in the week between the two, we had bullish bets on HMY, XLF, CAKE, TNA, IWM, CCJ, CHK, EXC, TNA, XLF, UNG, GLD, AAPL, GLW, TOT and AXP – which I had mentioned on the 19th in the weekend post "It's Never too Early to Predict the Future." Just because I think there's going to be a disaster doesn't mean we can't go with the flow while we wait, right?
We don't have to like the market to buy it above our breakout lines but we do need to keep in mind that this is a very thin rally that is very likely nothing but window dressing aimed at dragging money off the sidelines so the IBanks who have been propping up the markets can, once again, stick the retail shareholders with the bag as they load up on puts (watch the VIX to confirm) and crash the markets once again. I've seen it happen in 1999, I saw it happen in 2008 and, both times, the rally lasted longer than seemed logical but the smart play was to hit and run – not to leave your money on the table but…
by phil - December 25th, 2010 4:30 am
I hope you got everything you wanted this holiday season and, most importantly, I hope you had time to spend with your family. I'm waiting for mine to wake up – waiting for my children to come out of their rooms so I can videotape (gosh I'm old, there's no tape anymore) them in those first moments of Christmas morning – how can I not be of good cheer anticipating that?
It occurred to me, though, that I have something I can give you. Not peace on earth but perhaps peace of mind heading into the New Year – a way to help insure some future prosperity with a few inflation-fighting stock picks that can brighten up your virtual portfolio, which also can be used to help balance the budget against unexpected cost increases.
This isn't an options seminar or one about risk or leverage – these are just a few practical ideas you can use to hedge against inflation as it may affect your everyday life using basic industry ETFs and some simple hedging strategies to give you an opportunity to stay ahead of the markets if they keep going higher.
Idea #1 – Hedging for Home Price Inflation
Let's say you have $20,000 put aside for a deposit on a home but you're not sure it's the right time to buy. On the other hand, let's say you are worried that home prices will take off again (I doubt this but you never know). XHB is the homebuilder's ETF, currently at $17.46 and they bottomed out at $7.77 in 2009 and were in the $40s back in 2006.
You can sell 20 contracts of the XHB 2013 $14 puts for $1.70 each ($3,400) and that obligates you to buy 2,000 shares of XHB at $14 (20% off the current price) and you can use that money to buy 30 2013 $15/18 bull call spreads for $1.40 ($4,200) so another $800 out of pocket and you have 30 $3 contracts for net $800 that pay back $9,000 if XHB simply gains .54 by Jan 2013. These bull call spreads, however, do not pay off early – the ETF needs to be above $18 at Jan 2013 options expiration day (the 18th).
by phil - December 13th, 2010 8:14 am
Wheeee, everything must be great!
We are crushing our levels as the market flies ever higher. Our 11,500 target on the Dow looks sure to be tested and we're already flipping bullish with our "Breakout Defense" trades, in which our goal is to make 5,000% in 5 trades or less. We are not ashamed to jump on the bullish bandwagon – if they are giving away money, we'll stand in line with everyone else, only we'll take a larger share – thank you very much. We certainly know how to use leverage just like a Bankster – we have a spread and we're not afraid to use it!
Speaking of Banksters, the must-read article of the weekend is the NY Times piece that goes into surprising details of secret bank meetings that are regularly held in NY where the Gang of 12 (just 9 of them) do their best to manipulate the derivatives market, influence regulations and regulators and, of course, crush their competition. The article even goes so far as to name my old friends at ICE as possibly maybe having something to do with these shenanigans and I am SHOCKED at these allegations as the good people at ICE were so good about telling me how I had things all wrong when I made similar statements last year (which I now legally know cannot be proven and therefore must not be true).
And thank goodness that the commodity and derivatives clearinghouse that was founded by Big Banks and is controlled by Big Banks cannot be proven to be operating in favor of Big Banks because we wouldn't want to think that the Big Banks had some preferential treatment (beyond the access to the discount window and the TARP money and the POMO money, etc.) – that would just be unAmerican. By unAmerican, I mean the old America that they write about in the Declaration of Independence and the original Constitution, of course – not the Corporate Kleptocracy this country has developed into. Under the new guidelines, leveraging your influence and having the government rob the people to increase your profits on which you don't pay taxes is the very definition of patriotism, isn't it?
by phil - December 7th, 2010 8:29 am
Thank you Republicans!
The party of fiscal responsibility has strong-armed the President and what little is left on the Democrats in Congress to extend the Bush Tax cuts for another two years at a cost of "just" $830Bn to the little people who still have to pay taxes. They accomplished this by allowing the Democrats to extend $56Bn of additional unemployment relief to the 2M families who were cut off on Friday and were about to go their first week without checks with just 17 shopping days left until Christmas. Of course, the Democrats don't just bend, they BREAK and the Republicans also got a 30% reduction in the estate taxes that are projected to cost an additional $66Bn to the people who don't have $5M estates. Merry Christmas, rich folks – Lloyd bless us, everyone!
"But Phil," you may ask "who actually does pay taxes?" When your deficit is about as high as your net collections – the answer is: No one really – or no anyone who matters, anyway. As I've often told you, our Corporate Overlords actually pay just 2.4% of our GDP in taxes, just $138Bn last year which was less than the $6Tn in bailouts they collected by a factor of 43 – no wonder they are doing so well! As you can see from the chart, Estate and Excise taxes are barely a point on the graph and Individual income taxes are barely 6% while Employment Taxes have jumped from 1.5% of GDP in 1950 to 7.5% today – that's a 400% increase but don't worry, it only affects your first $106,800 in income – after that, ZERO! That way, if you earn $1M, the jump in payroll taxes from $1,250 to $6,250 is just 0.5% of your income vs the 5% increase borne by a person earning $100,000 or less.
Imagine if all 140M US workers were given an even $6,000 break ($840Bn divided by 140M) on their take-home pay by just eliminating those SS deductions (it's not like they'll ever get that money back anyway)? Why everyone would immediately be taking home $500 more per month. Of course we know that the poor people would only "waste" it on food, shelter and clothing so our wise government has guided the bailout to the places it will…