by phil - April 30th, 2012 7:55 am
Is this time going to be different?
Sure, why not? Don't let the fact that we had pretty nasty sell-offs the last 4 Mays dissuade you from being gung-ho bullish into this one – after all – it takes bulls and bears to make a market, doesn't it?
We've been prone to focusing on the negative lately – mostly because the positive is pretty much all you hear in the Corporate Media and we like to have balance. If they were too bearish, I'd make a bullish case but this weekend we focused on "Money, Power and Wall Street," and the deteriorating Global situation, which got no better this morning with Spain's -0.3% GDP Report, Eurozone Inflation above forecasts at 2.6%, the S&P downgrading 16 Spanish Banks, California's Tax Collections are running 26% behind schedule, gasoline is hitting record highs in Europe while Business Investment in Europe drops BELOW the 2008 lows:
Should we be concerned? Why should we be – look how high the market is! Doesn't that prove that everything is OK? It sure proved it in October of 2007, when the Dow was at 14,000 and it was still proving it on Monday, May 19th, 2008 – when the Dow was at 13,028 for the last time until March 13th of this year, when 200-point one-day pop sent us all the way to 13,177. We topped out around and fell all the way to 12,700 a month later but now we're back and THIS TIME IS DIFFERENT, right?
For one thing, the SNB spent $4.1Bn propping up the Euro in Q1 – that's a lot of money for a country whose entire GDP is just $500Bn! Fortunately for the Swiss, their insane money printing did cause their gold holdings to rise by $1.2Bn so their net loss in manipulating the Global economy was "only" $2.8Bn so I'm sure they can sustain this farce for another quarter or two if they wish.
Farce is too kind a description for the fraud being perpetrated by the Central Banksters, according to the Economic Policy Journal's Bob Wenzel, what had this to say in his speech to the NY Fed last week (the whole speech is a must read):
Under Chairman Bernanke there have been significant changes in direction
by phil - April 4th, 2012 8:38 am
I hate to say I told you so but…
Oh, who are we kidding? I could not be happier saying I told you so and neither could our Members as our "Sell in March and Go Away" strategy seems to have hit the nail on the head – and it's only April 4th!
Back then (2/24), we were still bullish but the plan was to let the rally run its course and cash out ahead of earnings and our plays from that Wednesday (2/22) which I posted right in the morning post for all to see, have performed very well, of course.
We had April SQQQ and DXD hedges that failed, of course, but those were paid for by the short sale of AAPL 2014 $300 puts for $15, which are already $10.75, so up 28% already on those pays for a lot of protection.
Another offset we had looked at was the short sale of FDX April $80 puts at $1.10, which expired worthless (up 100%). We also looked at longer-term put sales on SKX, with the Oct $12 puts fetching $1.55 per contract, now $1.25 (up 19%), and the T 2014 $25 puts at $2.15, now $1.75 (up 18%).
Along the same vein, the XOM 2014 $65 puts at $5, now $4.05 (up 19%) were sold to pay for the SU 2014 $25/37 bull call spread for $6 for net $1 on the spread. The bull call spread is still $6 but that's net $1.95 now – up 95% on the combo. Our other bullish play on oil was the USO June $40/46 bull call spread at $2, selling he SCO Oct $26 puts for $3 for a net $1 credit. The USO spread has fallen to $1.40 but the short SCO puts dropped to $1.65 a net gain of .75 – up a quick 75% on a fairly neutral oil play, which was BRILLIANT as it covered many, many of our aggressive oil shorts over the month that went VERY well.
Our other trade ideas from the morning post (and the logic and strategies are detailed in the post):
- AA 2014 $10 puts sold for $2, still $2 – even
- X at $28.49, selling Jan $25 calls for $8.50 and 2014 $20 puts for $2.95 for net $17.04/18.52
by phil - March 14th, 2012 8:10 am
Yesterday, we talked about the BS that is Fox News.
Ironically, some of the "news" outlets that generally carry my articles (who's names shall be protected because they are wimps) decided it was too controversial for their readers so we know that's not a topic we're allowed to discuss in America, for fear of being black-listed. Today we'll see if we can make it a two-fer in the Bracket of Evil, as I have a juicy resignation letter from Greg Smith of Goldman Sachs (thanks Rev Todd), who is no small player, but the head of the firm's US Equity Derivative Business in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Just a couple of excerpts:
I believe I have worked here long enough to understand the trajectory of its culture, its people and its identity. And I can honestly say that the environment now is as toxic and destructive as I have ever seen it. To put the problem in the simplest terms, the interests of the client continue to be sidelined in the way the firm operates and thinks about making money.
What are three quick ways to become a leader? a) Execute on the firm’s “axes,” which is Goldman-speak for persuading your clients to invest in the stocks or other products that we are trying to get rid of because they are not seen as having a lot of potential profit. b) “Hunt Elephants.” In English: get your clients — some of whom are sophisticated, and some of whom aren’t — to trade whatever will bring the biggest profit to Goldman. Call me old-fashioned, but I don’t like selling my clients a product that is wrong for them. c) Find yourself sitting in a seat where your job is to trade any illiquid, opaque product with a three-letter acronym.
I attend derivatives sales meetings where not one single minute is spent asking questions about how we can help clients. It’s purely about how we can make the most possible money off of them. It makes me ill how callously people talk about ripping their clients off. Over the last 12 months I have seen five different managing directors refer to their own clients as “muppets,” sometimes over internal e-mail.
by phil - March 2nd, 2012 8:18 am
Oil shot up to $110.55 yesterday.
The news was that a pipeline in Saudi Arabia had been attacked and oil had been running up all day into this "news," which, funnily enough, turned out to be fake. We caught the news at 3:05 in Member Chat (thanks Kustomz) and we had been waiting for oil to stop going up so we could short it. The turn came at the $110.50 in the Futures (/CL) and we caught a nice run down to $109 and I reiterated, at 3:36, with oil still at $109.88 my love for the USO April $40 puts, which were $1.08 at the time and finished the day at $1.15.
As Malsg pointed out in Member Chat: "The pictures of the fire are taken in daylight … but Saudi sunset was several hours ago … the oil market only stared going nuts after the close." A very good observation that gave us the resolve to stay short on oil – which is working out fantastically this morning as well.
We also grabbed an aggressive short spread on BNO, as it seemed the whole day's run had been BS, with traders in the know stocking up ahead of the fake news so they could unload barrels into the retail suckers who bought into the spike. Don't worry though – no one who bought oil up from $105 on Thursday to $109 ahead of the news will be arrested or even questioned – we'll just keep pretending the total farce of oil trading is a legitimate pricing mechanism, even though it costs people around the world hundreds of Billions of Dollars each year in excess charges (see "Goldman's Global Oil Scam Passes the 50 Madoff Mark").
Now, this is the part where I would usually point out how the economy is weaker than we think etc. but I'm not going to do that this morning because the S&P still over 1,360 and, if a stronger Dollar isn't going to stop this rally – nothing will. Even yesterday, I joked to Members that I wasn't going to highlight negative news items in red anymore as there was no such thing as bad news in this market.
As you can see from David Fry's SPY chart, we''re back testing the bottom of that channel today and, if we don't break down here, then we can…
by phil - February 22nd, 2012 6:27 am
We're still waiting for a clear signal.
The S&P is finally over our 1,359 level but, so far, has not stayed over that line for a full session and we need two sessions over the line to confirm it. However, I did promise not to be bearish if we're over 1,360 and I think I got it all out of my system in the last few posts, as well as last night and this morning's Member Chat, where I outlined my case for for the oil glut and the collapse of the EU, which will lead to the collapse of Asia and the US – but not today.
Today there is a ton of money sloshing around in the system and we are clearly in a massive technical rally, which may (or may not) end at any moment. We discussed our February trade ideas from our morning posts on Monday's morning so I won't rehash them here but I do want to take a look at ways to leverage some trades to take full advantage of this non-stop rally as we have VERY CLEAR stop lines (our 10% lines) where we'll have a clear signal to get out or cover if ANY of the major indexes fail.
As with our early February trade ideas, we can add one more bullish trade each day that we're over the line and cash out the older trades that go well in the money and, of course, accumulate some Disaster Hedges (20-30% of your unrealized profits into protective hedges is a good rule of thumb as well as the cheapest form of protection – STOPS!).
My favorite disaster hedges are playing for a correction in the Dow or the Nasdaq which, if you are a Dow Theorist, would seem very likely based on the chart on the left but, so far, nothing matters to the bulls – who have their story and they are sticking to it – regardless of those pesky facts. Sorry, that's a bit bearish (bad habit). Anyway, my favorite disaster hedges are:
SQQQ April $13/17 bull call spread for .70. This trade has a 471% upside potential by itself if SQQQ (currently $13.14) gains 30% by April expiration (58 days). That's a lot but SQQQ is a 3x ultra-short to the Nasdaq so a 10% drop in the Nas, back to 2,650…
by phil - July 4th, 2011 8:29 am
What a crazy couple of weeks.
Ka-ching is the word though as we did NOTHING – as planned back on the 18th, in our last update - as we expected the market to go down then up. On Friday, we took our short puts off the table as we expect there is a better than average possibility that we go back down again between now and expirations (15th), so we took our short-term winners off the table. The only move we did execute in the past two weeks, other than taking our virtual money and running, was the sale of 10 FCX July $47 puts for $1.21 ($1,120) on the 24th and those cashed out yesterday at .13, up $1,080 two weeks early so of course we take it off the table!
Our other short July puts that were cashed out were:
by phil - June 18th, 2011 8:26 am
Well, this is embarrassing…
When we set up this virtual portfolio on April 9th, the idea was to create a virtual portfolio for people like my Mom, who just became a widow, and so many of her friends, who need a relatively safe place to invest their money but would rather not live off the 6% returns generated by the typical retirement fund. Our primary goals in the virtual portfolio is A) Don’t Lose Money, which is Warren Buffett’s Rule #1 of investing and B) To generate a relatively steady monthly income of $4,000 against our $500,000 virtual portfolio (about 10% a year).
Despite the fact that we have allocated less than 40% of our cash, we have accidentally made WAY too much money already and this is NOT the lesson we are trying to teach! What happened is, this past couple of weeks, we had a really nice dip in the markets and our disaster hedges kicked in – as they are supposed to – but our other positions were already well-hedged and well positioned enough that they haven’t really lost anything so we ended up far, far ahead of the curve. While that’s a good thing, obviously, the danger here is getting the wrong idea. We got lucky – and one day we may get unlucky – so let’s keep ourselves grounded and people who are just catching up need to keep in mind that this is not meant to be a get-rich quick virtual portfolio.
If we made too much money on a dip – it’s because we were OVER-hedged and that’s something we will attempt NOT to do in the future. To some extent, it’s a discipline problem for me because I essentially BET that the market would go down and then I BET the market would go back up with our DIA adjustments (as well as overriding our original plan to stop out our new short puts with 30% losses). There was a logic to it because we were only about 25% invested so we had plenty of cash to layer in bullish plays if the market did go up and they we would have rolled our protective shorts (which would have been losing) up to cover. Instead, the shorts paid off and we didn’t have enough bullish positions to hurt us. As we get more invested, we won’t have the luxury…
by phil - January 20th, 2011 8:06 am
Just buy the f’ing dip.
That’s the great advice we had back on December 2nd, as it was pointed out by Captain Broccoli that we should just ignore all the so-called "facts" of the economy and "just borrow money at this ridiculous low interest rate and just buy the f’ing dip." "It’s not a pyramid scheme, you idiot," says the Captain – "It’s a dip buying scheme!" So far, on every little dip we have had since December 2nd – the Captain has had the winning strategy – do we dare ignore his sage advice today?
Yesterday we had the biggest pullback since November 23rd with the Russell and the SOX, two of our most over-extended indexes, falling 2.5% in a single day. The Russell essentially gave up an entire month’s worth of gains in a single day because, as I have warned you over and over and over until I myself was bored hearing it, it has been a low-volume rally and the pure physics of the situation means that, when people finally want to sell stocks, there aren’t enough buyers in the world to support the prices they have run up to.
The Shanghai, which we’ve been watching closely, dropped another 3% today to 4-month lows this morning. We did the chart of the Shanghai vs the Hang Seng on Friday, when I was droning on about how weak the real Global economy is and how dangerous inflation was looking and how the government was papering it all over, etc. Even so, I reminded Members in Chat that none of that reality mattered and we still had to buy the dips until it stopped working. Is today the day or have we finally reached the end of the gravy train?
We did some hedged buying on Friday with new long-term bullish trade ideas on AAPL, AET, BAC, GENZ and INTC (2) as well as shorter-term bullish trade ideas on CSTR (April) and ABX (quick 50% profit and done). We also had a short play on PCX (up huge already) and hedged with RKH Feb $85 puts at $1.15 (now $1.80, up 56%) and rolled our losing QID position in the $10,000 Virtual Portfolio to the Feb $10 calls at an average of $1.15 (now .90, down 22%). This is how we can be long-term bullish and short-term bearish. Buying the f’ing…
by phil - October 23rd, 2010 7:55 am
In uncertain markets, dividends can give you a critical investing edge.
As you can see from the chart on the left, just mindlessly investing in dividend-paying stocks can give you more than a 2:1 annual advantage in your investments.
Of course, here at PSW, we teach the art of selling options premiums – something that turns virtually any stock into a "dividend" payer. For example, MSFT is only a small, 2% dividend-payer but a fairly solid cash-machine of a stock that we don’t feel is likely to go bankrupt overnight so it makes for a nice safe staple in a long-term virtual portfolio. But MSFT is also a very poorly-run company that hasn’t grown in 20 years but we can make it a much more interesting stock by simply selling covered calls.
For example, in our August edition of Dividend Payers, we looked at MSFT for $24.23 and we sell the Sept $24 calls for .77. This lowered our effective basis to $23.46 and selling the call putus in no special danger – we simply agreed to sell MSFT for $24 on expiration day in September (the 17th).
The stock was called away from us, and we made a .54 profit or 2.3% of our net $23.46 cash investment in less than 30 days. That works out to a 26% annualized ROI and we had an opportunity (as we had expected) to buy the stock again and again at $24 on Oct 4th and 5th and sell the November $24 calls for .90 for a net $23.10 re-entry and ANOTHER 3.8% GAIN if we are called away at $24 or greater on Nov 19th. Doesn’t that beat waiting a whole quarter for your 1% dividend checks?
Of course, you can optimize all this with timing and we favor stocks that are on sale – this is just a very simple example of how our most basic options strategy can drastically boost your annual returns on any stock in your virtual portfolio.
Let’s say you don’t want to mess around with MSFT every month. You could have simply sold the 2012 $22.50s for $4.40 (also suggested in the August post), that dropped your net entry from $24.23 to $19.83 and getting called away at $22.50 would be a profit of 13.5% over 17 months PLUS you would be getting your…
by phil - July 21st, 2010 8:27 am
Wow, what a ride!
Bottoms WERE: Dow 10,200, S&P 1,075, Nas 2,200, NYSE 6,800 and Russell 620. As I said yesterday, "don’t forget there’s a 5% drop to support below these levels).
For now, we’ll be watching the 2.5% lines at Dow 9,945, S&P 1,048, S&P 1,145, NYSE 6,630 and Russell 605.
My working theory is RUT is weakest because they are getting killed by cut-off of unemployment checks. That means that an upside play on the RUT could go very well in case they extend benefits today. I like TNA $37 calls for $3.20 and IWM $63 calls at $1.25. These are risky of course because if the extension is defeated we could go further down so take quick profits off the table on half to make a buffer and make sure you do have some disaster hedges.
We bounced right off those 2.5% lines and got our $3 copper signal at 10:24 so we knew we were good to go as we took those calls plus GOOG, BAC, GS, QQQQ, IBM, TXN, AAPL, WFR and BIIB. Other than BIIB, which is a long-term spread, all of our shopping was done by noon and the rest of the day we just said "Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeee!" as the market went up and up and up – and they haven’t even extended the unemployment benefits yet!
I have been saying we need to keep an eye on copper $3 during this whole market breakdown as $3 copper is NOT the right price for a Global Depression, which is what the market has been pricing in and at 10:24 as copper hit our bull target, I said to Members: "Copper $3! That’s like the little snapping sound when the bear takes the bait in the bear trap." Now we are back testing our "bottoms" which, as I said yesterday, are really the middles of our 5% Rule range but our view of earnings season so far is that we shouldn’t be in the lower end of the range and the recent action, as I summed it up in yesterday’s post, was silly.