by phil - March 19th, 2012 8:23 am
We are still trying to get more bullish.
Over the weekend we set a new, higher set of levels for our Big Chart on the assumption that our breakout levels hold up and our new Must Hold lines become Dow 13,600 (not there yet), S&P 1,360, Nasdaq 3,000, NYSE 8,000 and Russell 800, which means it's now up to the Dow and Nasdaq to continue to show leadership if we're going to be having a rally good enough to get us to add our next 10 bullish plays.
I already added 2 aggressive upside trade ideas on XLF and SPY in the weekend post and last week we already looked at WFR, X, BAC, GLW, BBY, CHK, AAPL, AA, and BA but we also added a new Long Put List (Members Only), which had 19 stocks that we thought were good downside horses to ride if, per chance, we fail to hold 3 of our 5 breakout levels.
It shouldn't be too much to ask – IF this is a real bull market. We've been extremely skeptical up to this point and, Fundamentally, I still have my doubts but Technically, we can't keep fighting the tape so were drawing a line in the sand for Mr. Market to cross and, if it does so, we're happy to play along. If it fails to do so, however, well – we've already made those bets!
Our aggressive take on the Dow is the result of analyzing the 5 components that were replaced since the crash with MO and HON thrown out for BAC and CVX in Feb of 2008, AIG replaced by KFT in Sept 2008 and C and GM replaced by CSCO and TRV in June 2009, causing a massive distortion in the index, meaning 16,000 is the old 15,000, possibly even lower:
The Nasdaq is similarly distorted by AAPL, who are up 500% since 2009 and when a stock that is 11.5% of an index is up 500%, that stock alone causes the index to go up 57.5%, which is why we now call it the AAPLdaq. The AAPLdaq itself is "only" up 100%, which means the ENTIRE rest of the index is lagging with a 42.5% contribution – those who tell you that tech is somehow loved again are fooling themselves…
by phil - March 7th, 2012 7:52 am
Was that it?
On February 24th I wrote "TGIF – Sell in March and Go Away?" and I laid out my case for why I thought we were going to fall off the table in March and we have, indeed, fallen right off the table right on schedule since then. I said that Friday, that the post was intended as a bookend to my September 30th bottom call as I felt that we had captured all of the upside we were likely to see off the "good news" that Greece was "fixed" and the economy was "improving."
I'm not going to say anything bad about the economy here, I'll let Michael Snyder do that with his "15 Potentially MASSIVE Threats to the US Economy over the next 12 Months" – I think he pretty much covers it! 8 trading days ago (2/24), we had two short trade ideas in our Morning Alert to Members, they were:
- SQQQ April $13/17 bull call spread at .70, still .70 (even)
- DXD April $13/15 bull call spread at net .55, now .70 – up 27%
In Member Chat that day, Exec asked if I was getting bearish and my response was:
Bearish/Exec – Are you kidding, this is me painting a sunny picture! Give me a few drinks and I'll tell you how off the rails the Global Economy is right now… Do you know how much Kool Aid I have to consume not to scream short on every single stock I see. CAT $116, CMG $386, DIA $130, GMCR we already did at $70, IBM $200, KO $70, MA $415, MCD $100, MMM $88, MO $30, MON $80, MOS $59, OIH $45, PCLN $593 (did them too), QQQ $64, SPY $137, TM $85, USO $41.50 (got 'em), UTX $84, V $117, WYNN $119, XOM $87, XRT $59 (got 'em) – and that's just off my watch list of stock I like to buy when they're cheap! We are not just priced for perfection, we are priced for perfection plus a return to full employment a forgiveness of all debts without write-downs and inflation without rising interest – we are priced for Nirvana!
by phil - February 20th, 2012 6:37 am
Why do we scream at each other
This is what it sounds like
When doves cry – Prince
It's no coincidence that this week we will be hearing from Fed Governors Kocherllakota (1pm Tues), Hoenig (12:30 Weds), Plosser (1:30 Weds), and Bullard (9:15 Thurs) ahead of our 2-Year Note Auction (1pm Tues), 5-Year Note Auction (1pm Weds) and 7-Year Note Auction (1pm Thursday) as the Fed needs to bring out 4 of it's 5 most hawkish members to talk up the Dollar (by talking down QE3) to keep those rates paid as low as possible for Treasury.
Once the Hawks drive the rates down and the notes are sold, the Doves will once again be released to talk them back up by extolling the glories of QE3 – completely reversing whatever was said before just as the Hawks will once again be called upon to reverse what the Doves say at a later date – when they need rates to come back down. The joke of it all is that traders will react to each statement, every time, as if it's a "game changer" and adjust their positions to reflect the new reality of the moment. It reminds me of a quote from Orwell's 1984:
As soon as all the corrections which happened to be necessary in any particular number of The Times had been assembled and collated, that number would be reprinted, the original copy destroyed, and the corrected copy placed on the files in its stead. This process of continuous alteration was applied not only to newspapers, but to books, periodicals, pamphlets, posters, leaflets, films, sound-tracks, cartoons, photographs – to every kind of literature or documentation which might conceivably hold any political or ideological significance.
Day by day and almost minute by minute the past was brought up to date. In this way every prediction made by the Party could be shown by documentary evidence to have been correct, nor was any item of news,
by phil - February 8th, 2012 5:16 am
78.50 on the Dollar!
The Yen finally got back to 77 and EUR/CHF back to 1.21 so my theory that the BOJ has given up on the Dollar and moved to boosting the Euro is playing out nicely.
This does not make me more bullish (expecting falling Dollar to boost the markets) because, in the grand scheme of things, this is kind of like now there are two kids building a sand wall on the beach instead of one – sure it will last longer than the wall just one kid was building but, eventually, the tide will get it anyway or, as Jimi Hendrix said more poetically: "Castles made of sand, fall in the sea, eventually."
Once you start messing around with Forex markets, you are messing with major macro forces that are hard to control. Japanese banks have $7.5Tn of Japanese bonds at 1% – what happens to the value of those bonds if the BOJ does push the Yen down 10%? Who takes that $750Bn hit? What if rates go up to 2% – what's the value of the bonds then? Who will bail out the Japanese Banks when they have a multi-Trillion Dollar (several hundred Trillion Yen) hole in their balance sheets? Do Japanese spreadsheets even have room for Quadrillions? They are going to need it!
Then there's this Bloomberg article on the Central Banks, who have doubled their balance sheets since 2006 to $13.2Tn but, magically, have caused no inflation (according to Ben Bernanke – not according to people who actually buy food and stuff). China is now sitting on $4.5Tn of other people's TBills (mostly ours) and that's up $1.5Tn in a year. The ECB is right behind them with $3.6Tn and another $1Tn supposedly coming in the next EFSF round and the Fed has $2.9Tn plus whatever nonsense they are running off book.
So, how is it that WE are the bad currency here? If the Dollar is a problem, then China, who's GDP is only about $8Tn (optimistically, possibly $5.5Tn depending on who's measuring) is almost as insane as Japanese bankers and maybe more so as they are betting on our country's ability to pay and maintain the value of the Dollar (already a fail, right?). I suppose no one can ever recognize losses and just carry more and more junk…
by Option Review - December 19th, 2011 2:42 pm
Today’s tickers: MO, NSC, STJ & JNS
MO - Altria Group, Inc. – Bullish activity in Altria Group call options this morning indicates shares in the cigarette maker, which today rallied 1.7% to a new three-year high of $29.63, may have more room to run in 2012. Investors dabbling in February 2012 contract calls on the Richmond, Virginia-based Company may be prepping for the stock to hit new highs following the company’s fourth-quarter earnings report on January 26. Options volume on Altria Group is heaviest at the Feb. 2012 $31 strike, where more than 3,000 calls changed hands against zero open positions. It looks like most of the call options were purchased for an average premium of $0.16 apiece. Call buyers stand prepared to profit should shares in the tobacco products provider climb 6.1% to top $31.16 at expiration day in February. Philip Morris International, Inc.’s shares too are in rally-mode today, though activity in February 2012 contract calls on the cigarette seller may not be the work of a bullish player. The purchase of 3,000 Feb. 2012 $80 strike calls on Philip Morris would have tended to suggest optimism on the tobacco Company; however, it appears the options were likely tied to the sale of stock in a position that may be profitable if shares in PM decline.
NSC - Norfolk Southern Corp. – A large put credit spread on the rail transportation provider signals the stock is unlikely to crash in the near future. Shares in Norfolk Southern Corp. are bucking the broader market decline today, trading 0.40% higher on the session at $70.09 just before 1:00 PM on the East Coast. The strategist responsible for the sizable spread appears to have sold 13,750 puts at the Jan. 2012 $65 strike at a premium of $0.65 each, and purchased the same number of…
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 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…
by phil - August 14th, 2010 3:43 am
Talk about feeling outnumbered!
As the guy in Airplane kind of said – "Looks like I pricked the wrong week to get bullish!" Of course, as I often tell people I am neither bullish nor bearish – I'm rangeish – and our range is the 5% band between around Dow 10,200 and S&P 1,070, which takes us as low as Dow 9,690 and S&P 1,016 and as high as Dow 10,710 and S&P 1,123 before I really "flip flop" my positions. Despite the fact that this is the range we predicted last October and is the range we've been in (other than a brief trip to 11,200, which we shorted the hell out of) all year – people still seem to find it necessary to call me either bullish or bearish as we navigate the channel.
I suppose I have been HOPEFUL for the month (now heading into day 14) that we will finally make a little progress and establish a higher floor at our usual mid-points while, at the same time, the MSM have decided that we are all going to die. That does make me kind of bullish by comparison doesn't it? We are mainly in cash and we are well hedged to the downside so, unless we are REALLY heading much, much lower, there is little profit in speculating to the downside, other than our quick trades. As PT Barnum once said:
"A man who is all caution, will never dare to take hold and be successful; and a man who is all boldness, is merely reckless, and must eventually fail. A man may go on "’change" and make fifty, or one hundred thousand dollars in speculating in stocks, at a single operation. But if he has simple boldness without caution, it is mere chance, and what he gains to-day he will lose to-morrow. You must have both the caution and the boldness, to insure success."
Balance is the key to long-term success and we've had many conversations about that in Member Chat. Our goal is to be neither bullish or bearish but rather to sell premium to both the bulls and the bears when conditions permit us. As Ravalos said Friday in Member Chat:
"Ever since I became member (actually before I became member I
by phil - June 26th, 2010 12:35 pm
Finally a chance to buy again!
The problem with hitting the dead bottom with our June 7th Buy List is there haven't been any good entry opportunities since for new Members. Now we are back down to about the bottom of the "flash crash" (S&P 1,065) and it does look like we may be forming another bottom. right about where we were when I wrote on June 6th "The Worst-Case Scenario: Getting Real With Global GDP!" where I pointed out: Things are just simply not bad enough to sit on our hands with a big pile of cash.
I am still not advocating going over a 25% commitment to long-term positions so PLEASE - keep that in mind at all times - our buying premise is that we have cash (with a target of staying at least 75% cash right now) and we will need more disaster hedges if we can't hold this week's lows. If we have a 2% hedge in place now that pays 10% on a market drop of no more than 20% below where we are now, then we can expect to have 10% of our money from that hedge to pay for any stocks that are put to us and, if we are only allocating 20-25% of our cash to buy round 1 here, then logically, that extra 2% we're putting up as insurance will pay for half of an unexpected drop. If we get less confident in holding our levels, then we can up our hedges.
That means, if we spent $25,000 to buy round 1 of stocks and $5,000 of insurance that pays 500% if we hit our assignment area (down 20%) and we are assigned a basked to stocks, which force us to double down, then the $25,000 we need to double down with will come from our insurance hedge and that means we'll be in 2x the stock for $30,000 with $75,000 more cash on the side (assuming it was a $100K Virtual Portfolio).
Let's keep this example dead simple and say we buy the SPY for $106.82 and let's say we buy 300 shares for $32,000. Now we cover that with the sale of the March $103 calls for $12 and the $95 puts for $6 and that nets out to $88.82 ($26,346) and our upside at $103 is $14.18 ($4,254 or 13%). We are committed to owning 600 shares of SPY at the $88.82 we paid…
by Option Review - June 9th, 2010 5:59 pm
Today’s tickers: BP, ALKS, MO, NFLX, APC, MDCO, LVS, TIVO, CAR, MDRX & XLK
BP – BP PLC – Options volume on beleaguered oil company, BP PLC, is fast approaching 750,000 contracts, fueling a more than 79.7% upward shift in the stock’s overall reading of options implied volatility to a 5-year high of 120.96%. Utter pandemonium erupted in BP options after the firm’s shares plunged 16.00%, crashing straight through the now defunct 52-week low of $34.15, to touch an intraday and new 5-year low of $29.13. Catalysts for the squall are not difficult to come by with analysts suggesting an increased probability BP will cut dividends to help pay for the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. The first half of the trading day was relatively calm with shares increasing 1.62% over the opening price of $33.90 to an intraday high of $34.45. But, by noon time on the east coast, BP’s shares had already begun their descent. Options activity on the stock can easily be described as frenzied as volume continues to grow in both call and put options across multiple expiries. Investors are displaying a slight preference for put options, with roughly 1.35 put contracts exchanged to each single call option in play thus far in the trading day. Put buyers are out in full force, scooping up at least 1,600 of the bearish contracts at the June $17.5 strike for an average premium of $0.25 apiece. Buying interest in the front month is heaviest in now in-the-money puts at the June $30 strike where more than 43,000 contracts changed hands by 3:05 pm (ET). Investors buying these contracts now face an asking price of $2.85 apiece. Other pessimistic players cast doubts for a near-term recovery by selling call options. Less than 60 minutes remain in the current trading session. Option volume on BP has surpassed 710,000 contracts and continues to steadily rise.
ALKS – Alkermes, Inc. – A three-legged bullish options combination trade enacted on biotechnology company, Alkermes, Inc., this afternoon indicates long-term optimism by one savvy strategist today. Alkermes’ shares are up 1.10% to $11.00 as of 3:12 pm (ET), but earlier rallied more than 4.75% to touch an intraday high of $11.40. The bullish player essentially sold short a chunk of put options in order to finance the purchase of a debit call spread in the November contract. The trader picked up 5,000 calls at…