by phil - November 16th, 2012 8:32 am
Falling, falling, falling.
That's all the markets have been doing lately. As you can see from our Big Chart – it's been a pretty orderly sell-off according to our 5% rule with roughly a 4-5% drop during October with some consolidation, followed by a much steeper 4-5% drop after the election.
We're back to the point where we expect resistance at an 8% total drop as well as some bounce action where once again we'll be measuring for strong or weak bounces to determine whether or not we can get a turn again (our indicators kept us bearish last time). Regarding the current action, I said to our Members yesterday in Chat:
I think there is a lot of selling as people take capital gains while they can. I think that it's very possible that it's going to be very difficult to get a proper rally into the end of the year because there are plenty of people waiting for a rally to take their gains, whether through timing or position. The problem with this state of not knowing is it becomes prudent for people to hedge for the worst and, if someone had a 20% gain for the year and now it's 15% and they can take it off now and keep 12.75% (after 15% tax) vs possibly hitting another 5% drop and running down to 8.5% this year or possibly 7% (at 30%) if they wait until next year and there's no recovery (and the more the cliff looms the less likely recovery seems) then it almost doesn't make sense not to take the 12.75% and run. So that's very possibly the selling pressure we see and it may continue to be relentless into the end of the year unless there is some sort of resolution or delay to the cliff.
While we don't think the Fiscal Cliff will end up being a big deal – that doesn't stop others from panicking. This week we've been scooping up positions they have been running away from but, if we're going to have another leg down – we'll be needing those disaster hedges (see Wednesday's post) to keep us out of trouble. It doesn't take much to profit from a downturn, fortunately, when we use good hedges. On Wednesday I suggested the TZA April $17/24 bull call spread for $1.40, selling the $14…
by Option Review - June 27th, 2012 3:57 pm
Today’s tickers: ORLY, MRK & PCS
ORLY - O'Reilly Automotive, Inc. – Shares in auto parts retailer, O’Reilly Automotive, are facing double-digit declines today after the company cut its second-quarter same-store sales projection and said earnings for the quarter are likely to come in at the low end of their previously estimated $1.13 to $1.17 a share range. The stock is off the lows of the session, down 15.0% at $81.97 just before midday in New York after earlier sliding as much as 21.5% to an intraday and six-month low of $75.61. The sharp pullback in O’Reilly shares today appears to have attracted contrarian players to the front month calls. Traders positioning for the price of the underlying to rebound in the near term snapped up at least a few hundred calls at the July $80 strike for an average premium of $1.93 apiece this morning. The intraday improvement in the share price during the first half of the session now sees these calls changing hands at $4.30 apiece. Similar bullish positioning is building in the July $85 strike calls, as well. It looks like traders purchased roughly 600 of the $85 calls for an average premium of $0.65 apiece in the first few hours of the trading day, contracts that now tout an asking price of $1.65 each. Call buyers may walk away with big profits at expiration should O’Reilly Automotive’s shares continue to recover during the next few weeks. The front month calls expire the week prior to ORLY’s second-quarter earnings report on July 25th.
MRK - Merck & Co., Inc. – Call options on Merck & Co. are active today as shares in the drug maker tack on 1.7% to trade at a near multi-year high of $40.73. The stock has climbed roughly 10.0% since the first of the month. Substantial volume is building in the Aug. $42 strike call where approximately 20,000 lots changed hands by…
by Option Review - August 25th, 2011 2:20 pm
Today’s tickers: XLF, LIZ, MRK & PSS
XLF - Financial Select Sector SPDR ETF – The financials ETF popped Thursday morning on news Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway bought $5 billion worth of cumulative perpetual preferred stock in beleaguered U.S. lender, Bank of America Corp. The XLF’s morning rally gave way to losses in early-afternoon trade as heavy selling in Germany and soaring yields on Euro-area sovereign debt reminded markets that the crisis overseas may worsen. Shares in the XLF stand 0.50% lower on the session at $12.64, erasing earlier gains of as much as 4.95% to $13.33. Nearly 430,000 option contracts have changed hands on the Financial SPDR, with traders favoring puts over calls roughly 1.8 times to 1. Much of the heavy options volume resides in contracts expiring in the next few months, but longer-dated contracts attracted sizable interest, as well. Fresh positioning in the March 2012 $13 strike call and put options suggests some strategists expect shares in the fund to stagnate. Traders appear to have sold roughly 20,000 of the March 2012 $13 strike straddle to pocket average gross premium of $2.98 per contract. Straddle-sellers may be taking advantage of inflated levels of options implied volatility on the fund, which currently stands well above historical, as well as the time-rich premium built into the price of both the calls and the puts. Investors selling the straddle benefit from the roughly .07 of a penny daily decline in the value of the position, according to the roughly -.0035 reading of Theta on both the calls and the puts. Additionally, subsiding levels of implied volatility may lower the cost of buying back the straddle at some point ahead of expiration. In seven months time, when March expiration rolls around, traders walk away with the full amount of premium received on the straddle as long as shares in the XLF settle at $13.00.…
by phil - August 11th, 2011 8:30 am
Holy cow – when will it end?
As I mentioned yesterday, we were expecting a whipsaw after the morning sell-off and we played that perfectly with bullish trades on the DIA and OIH and, as we move up, we took bearish plays on GLL, TZA and QQQ. All good so far but then we did a little bottom fishing before wising up and shorting USO into the close – just in case. The futures were up 2% this morning at 5am and I had to warn our Members:
Overall, this is too weak to get us over the hump and we are going to have to lean a little more bearish unless we can follow Europe up 2.5% or more. Our charts will turn from "spiking low on volume" to "consolidating for a move below 20%" very quickly if we don’t gets something bullish going by tomorrow.
The Dollar was at 74.64 at the time and it’s only 75.04 now (7:50) but the futures have gone from up 2% to down 1% in less than 3 hours – that is insane! How are retail investors supposed to play this market? The average person does not have the stomach for watching their virtual portfolio’s value go up and down 5% a day – at some point they are all going to pull the plug and walk away. Of course, as I was saying yesterday – that’s just what the Banksters want you to do, assuming they know QE3 is right around the corner, accompanied by a 20%+ market rally into the year’s end.
Anyway, hope is NOT a strategy for the prudent investor so I published another set of Disaster Hedges this morning as it’s time to add a layer to our longer hedges (which are now deeply in the money). I hate to chase these plays but one thing we learned in 2008 is that there may never be a bottom (not in the short run) no matter how oversold you think things may be. Was the market wrong in 2008 to go below S&P 1,000? Well 3 years of subsequent trading seem to indicate that it was – but that did not stop us from dropping 33% lower, to 666 (the mark of the Blankfein!).
by Option Review - November 10th, 2010 4:22 pm
Today’s tickers: VIA B, BJ, MRK, EEM, PETM & C
VIA B - Viacom, Inc. Class B – Options on the global entertainment content company are active ahead of the release of the firm’s third-quarter earnings report before the opening bell tomorrow. Investors are establishing both bullish and bearish positions on Viacom using near-term put and call options. Viacom’s shares are currently up 0.15% at $38.09 with just fewer than thirty minutes remaining in the trading session. Traders fearing the price of the underlying stock could fall following earnings initiated bear put spreads. Put players picked up approximately 3,000 in-the-money puts at the November $38 strike for an average premium of $0.77 each, and sold about the same number of puts at the lower November $36 strike for an average premium of $0.14 a-pop. Average net premium required to purchase the spread amounts to $0.63 per contract. Thus, investors are prepared to profit, or realize downside protection, in the event that shares in Viacom fall 1.9% from the current price of $38.09 to breach the average breakeven point at $37.37 by expiration day. Maximum potential profits of $1.37 per contract are available if VIA’s shares plunge 5.5% lower to trade below $36.00 by November expiration. Meanwhile, investors taking bullish stances ahead of earnings looked to the November $39 strike to purchase approximately 1,600 calls for an average premium of $0.32 per contract. Call buyers profit if Viacom’s shares rally 3.2% to surpass the average breakeven price of $39.32 by expiration day.
BJ - BJ’s Wholesale Club, Inc. – Reports that the warehouse club operator is considering hiring an advisor to review options including a potential sale to a leveraged-buyout firm in a deal that could net as much as $3 billion sent shares flying higher today and drew speculators to the…
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 - June 6th, 2010 8:27 am
That is the per capita average GDP for the 6Bn ape-like creatures on this planet who have pockets and purses. Of the still hairy and pocketless apes, there are only about 1M left and they are mainly prisoners so we won’t be worrying about them but it would be nice to consider the plight of our ancestors once in a while… Anyway, so 6Bn of us fill in those last 3 images in the planetary labor pool with the vast majority of us STILL FARMING and, of course, a select group of us are still hunting and gathering and contributing very little to the GDP.
None of our problems are new – as noted in this 2005 cartoon:
The United States of America with it’s highly evolved population of shopoholics has a per capita GDP of $46,381 – VERY IMPRESSIVE but we rank 6th! Brunei does a little better than we do and Singapore is up at $50,523 (so let’s hear it for corporal punishment) and Norway (one of my top choices of countries to flee to when it all hits the fan) is at $52,561 but Luxembourgh ($78,395 – banking) and Qatar ($83,841 – oil) simply trounce us in earnings power per person. For those of you who like to think Capitalism is all about keeping score – they must be better than you because they make more money, right?
Below the US, per capita GDP drops off fairly quickly. Rounding out the top 10 are Switzerland ($43,007 – watches and more bankers), Hong Kong ($42,748 – don’t tell China!), Netherlands ($39,938 – legal drugs!), Ireland ($39,468 – free beer when on wellfare!) and Australia ($38,911 – beer comes in oil cans plus gigantic bouncing rats). 20th on the list is Germany at $34,212, Greece is 25th at $29,882 (but not for long), 30th is South Korea at $27,978, 40th is Slovakia at $21,245. Lithuania comes in at 50 with $16,542 (1 ahead of Russia) and it steadies out there with emerging market star Brazil in 75th place with $10,514 and, keep in mind – that is where you FINALLY get to the average leverl of economic activity for the world.
Another BRIC in the global wall is mighty China, with a per capita GDP of $6,567 for each of their 1.2Bn persons and India’s Billion people average out at less than half of that, at $2,941, ranking 128th and still ahead of 53…
by ilene - May 17th, 2010 1:19 pm
Pharmboy discusses Merck, Regeneron, and Vivus and maps out his plans for trading stock and options in these companies. - Ilene
Courtesy of Pharmboy
Hola fellow PSW subscribers! The week is finally over, and the fluctuations in the market is making many of us jittery. This write up has a few picks for all, one that is conservative, one a bit more risk, and a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants short.
First, let’s take a look at the pharma & biotech sector in comparison to the entire market. The Healthcare Spider (XLV) and now the Biotech Spider (XBI) are now under performing the market. The most logical explanation for this is the passage of the health care bill. If the reimbursement is less, pharma and its compadres will also collect less. Many of the companies have already factored in the hit to earnings, so it is known the ramifications going forward. Drugs will always be needed, as they are one of the scientific advances for extending life (which in turn makes medical care more expensive). The population is not getting any younger, so economies of scale will kick in and increase revenue, giving incremental increases in profit (if it is a well run company). So, on to the picks.
Figure 1. Comparison of XLI & XBI against major market indices.
Merck & Co. traces its origins to Friedrich Jacob Merck who purchased a drug store in Darmstadt, Germany in 1668; and Emanuel Merck who took over the store several generations later, in 1816. Emanuel and his successors gradually built up a chemical-pharmaceutical factory that produced — in addition to raw materials for pharmaceutical preparations — a multitude of other chemicals.
In 1891, George Merck established his roots in the United States and set up Merck & Co. in NY as the US arm of the family partnership, E. Merck (named for Emanuel Merck), which is now Merck KGaA. Merck & Co. was confiscated in 1917 during World War I and set up as an independent company in the United States. Between the wars and during World War II, the company was led by George W. Merck, who oversaw America’s germ-warfare research at Fort Detrick.
Figure 2. 2010 Merck stock price.
Merck has a broad therapeutic focus, with key products historically positioned within the cardiovascular (Zocor, Cozaar/Hyzaar), infectious diseases, endocrine, respiratory