by phil - April 25th, 2012 8:28 am
A meteoric 10% rise pre-market is being celebrated by the Global markets even though it's really only part of the way back to the $644 high that was, very recently, supposed to be a stepping stone on the way to $1,000. Are we really going to get all excited just because AAPL's earnings didn't suck? That seems kind of silly as I'm pretty sure they were never going to get to $1,000 by just earning $10 a share per quarter, were they?
I have nothing bad to say about AAPL. We were bearish on them at $640 but $550 was our buy target and we didn't take direct action on AAPL yesterday as we were worried they might disappoint so our 1:31 bullish trade idea for Members was the QQQ June $60/63 bull call spread at $2.35 and those should be well on their way to $3 this morning as the Qs are up 2% to $66 pre-market already.
I mentioned in yesterday's post that we had already played TQQQ (ultra-long Nasdaq) the day before and that one was the more aggressive May $103/110 bull call spread at $4, selling ISRG Jan $350 puts for $4.40 for a net .40 credit on the $10 spread. Any offset would do, of course but we REALLY wouldn't mind owning ISRG for $350 if it goes on sale (now $560) but, if not, we'll take the free money. As a 3x ultra, TQQQ will be up 6% this morning, already at our $110 goal and, if they can hold it, we're looking at a very nice 150% gain on just the bull spread with a 2,600% gain on the full spread – either way, not a bad way to play!
We had also taken the QQQ MAY $63/66 bull call spread at $1.90 on Monday and that deal was so good we didn't feel we needed an offset. That's the difference between catching the bottom, like we did on Monday and chasing a run, as we did with the Qs on Tuesday – the rewards of being contrarian investors!
One trade that may not be going well for us was the AAPL weekly $575 calls, which we bought for $20.75 against the sale of the May $590s for $22 for a net $1.25 credit. We didn't think AAPL would pop $600 so fast, so we're a…
by phil - April 24th, 2012 8:29 am
If it's Tuesday we must be bouncing!
Clearly, from the recent sell-off, we have a whole lot of bouncing to do. Yesterday we failed our Must Hold lines on the Nasdaq, the NYSE and the Russell (the Dow never got there) and the S&P was briefly below 1,360 and recovered to end the day at 1,366 – still below our weak bounce level of 1,372.
That leaves us in the same place as we were on the 11th, when I titled the morning post – "Weak Bounces and Beige Books." As we expected at the time, we made it to our 1,384 level on the S&P and then failed to hold it and now we come in for our 2nd tests of our 3 significant levels – 1,360, 1,372 and 1,384 – that's our range until it breaks and THEN we can make some directional bets.
In this market chop, our best strategy has been to bet both ways and our virtual $25,000 Portfolio is now up about $16,000 for the year but that's nothing compared to our completely neutral FAS Money Portfolio, which has turned a $2,000 spread into almost $8,000 in profits in the same 4 months – just using our very simple strategy of selling premium on a regular basis:
Last year's FAS Money Portfolio was also a great performer and it's a great time to get started following as the current position is down $706 so you sure didn't miss anything but a loss by taking up the current position. It's a great exercise to set up a virtual portfolio and follow these trades along as we are constantly managing these positions to maximize the amount of premium we sell so it's a great practice portfolio for rolling and adjusting short positions, teaching you the value of BEING THE HOUSE!
Speaking of investing value – don't miss our contest to win 2 passes to Berkshire Hathaway's Annual Shareholder Meeting! Hopefully we'll get a nice report from whoever wins – it's always good to get a little insight into what the Oracle of Omaha is thinking.
My thinking is that – while our Virtual Portfolios are all performing very well this year – I still can't shake my overall feeling that the markets are very weak internally. Today we are hoping that AAPL will save us (earnings…
by phil - April 10th, 2012 8:29 am
Bernanke gave a whole speech last night titles "Fostering Financial Stability" at the Federal Reserve's Stone Mountain, Georgia conference and didn't say one thing about more quantitative easing – not even a hint. Without an endless supply of MORE FREE MONEY from the Fed – what is going to hold our markets up at these inflated levels?
Goldman Sachs immediately covered their assets, putting out a note indicating "A number of factors reinforce our desire to be more cautious about the data in the near term:"
- First, our US forecast has continued to embody a relatively flat 2%-ish type GDP growth trajectory, so the notion that acceleration is now coming to an end is consistent with that forecast view.
- Second, we have become more confident that the weather has played an important role in some earlier data strength. The payback here may have begun, but there is probably more ahead. There is also rising focus on the US "fiscal cliff" at the end of this year, as Alec Phillips has described.
- Third, in the current post-bust setting, even modest slowing in growth feels more dangerous than normal. Fiscal policy is consolidating and conventional monetary policy has been exhausted in many places. And with plenty of leverage in parts of the global economy, slowing growth quickly also raises questions about debt sustainability in places. As a result, financial risks can re-emerge more quickly than normal as growth slows.
And, as pointed out by Business Insider – Goldman Sachs can't possibly be wrong. Not because they are smart, nor because they are amoral, evil, greedy, manipulative bastards (allegedly) – but because they talk out both sides of their Corporate mouth so they can always point back at something to "prove" they called it. Kind of like Cramer's daily flip-flop scam only with more people.
Business inside points out that while Jim O'Neill is on CNBC standing behind Peter Oppenheimer and Abby Cohen's bullish calls for the retail suckers who watch TV for investing advice, the official firm stance of David Kostin (Chief Equity Strategist) and Stuart Kaiser, who put out the above note – is, in fact, BEARISH.
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 13th, 2012 7:52 am
For once I have to agree with Fox (and thanks to D Virginia for the link):
With gas at $3.87 and over $4 in California, New York and Illinois, Fox news says other journalists don't check "the substance of the accusations against the President," the media needs to "look at certain claims and promises to see what the facts are behind them." And what are the facts that Fox News presents us with?
- Cal Thomas: "No President has the power to increase or to lower gas prices – Those are market forces."
- Neil Cavuto: "China and India are slopping up oil faster than we can these days and THAT is the not so sinister response to what's going on."
- Cheryl Casone: "At this point, it really is tough for this President, I have to be honest with you, because he really does not have any control over what's going to happen with the markets and with the economy and with oil prices and with supply and demand and gasoline – it really is out of this President's hands."
- Bill O'Reilly: "Yesterday oil hit a record high and politicians can't do anything about it."
- Joe D'Agostino (VP of NYMEX on O'Reilly): "The only thing we can do is start to use less energy."
- Bill O'Reilly: "If every American who owns an automobile or an air conditioner says "I'm going to use 10% less" – the prices then would fall… Politicians can't do this."
- News team: "Get rid of gas guzzlers, buy decent insulation for your house and tell your local, elected officials to get on the stick and do some more mass transit/infrastructure spending because those kinds of fixes that can really help Americans."
- News team: "Drilling an ANWR would reduce the price of oil by about 40 cents a barrel (1 penny per gallon) or maybe as much at $1.40 per barrel (3.3 cents per gallon)." "If we drilled in ANWR we would get 4% of our daily consumption in oil." "It would take 20 years for saving from ANWR drilling to be realized."
- O'Reilly: "So the next time you hear a politician say he or she will bring down oil prices, UNDERSTANT IT'S COMPLETE BS! If Americans want lower gas prices, cut back – that's what the candidates SHOULD be saying. Sell those SUV's, ride a bike when
by phil - September 21st, 2011 8:28 am
Strap in folks, it’s going to be another wild ride!
As you can see from Doug Short’s S&P chart,we are about to slam right into that collapsing 50-day moving average, now at 1,223.40 – right about where the S&P topped out on yesterday’s morning spike. Unfortunately, the Nasdaq topped out and headed down before the other indexes got a chance to complete their up cycle and the Dollar rose back over the 77.50 line and tanked the market – exactly as we predicted it would at the bottom of yesterday morning’s post.
Of course, I can’t MAKE these things happen – I can only tell you what’s going to happen and give you trade ideas to help you profit from it. I mentioned that we had picked up 10 DIA 9/30 $115.75 calls in our virtual $25,000 Portfolio at $1.05 on Monday and they topped out at $1.75 (up 66%) but we took a non-greedy exit at $1.45 in the morning spike (up 33%) and we switched to 20 QQQ 9/30 $57 calls at .45 in the afternoon sell-off. So, we made $350 off a $1,050 investment and then we spend $900 but now we have 20 contracts instead of 10 but we also have $450 in cash so now risking just $600 of our original investment on the much more volatile Fed day.
Another trade idea we like ahead of the Fed that’s still playable is 20 FAS weekly $13/14 bull call spreads at .38 ($760), selling 10 JPM Oct $28 put for .55 ($550) for net $210 invested on the 20 $1 spreads. The worst-case on this spread is owning JPM for net $28.10, which is 13% off the current price and the best case is a $1,790 profit (852%) in a week. That sounds like a lot but options let you do funny things like at 11:30 in Member Chat, we saw PCLN making new highs against news that we thought was not actually that good for them on closer examination. Our trade idea to take advantage of that was:
If you want to play PCLN bearish – it’s very risky but the weekly $565/555 bear put spread is $6 and you can sell the $565 calls for $4.70 for net $1.30 on the $10 spread. Oct $620s are $4.10 so your bet is
by phil - September 19th, 2011 8:04 am
Last Thursday, I said in the Morning Post:
We’ll certainly be angling to hedge back near neutral into the weekend. Next week is going to be a real thrill-ride as Greece boils over in the EU this weekend and Bernanke steps up to the plate on Wednesday.
In Member Chat on Friday we cashed out our FXI Oct $36 longs at $2 (up 117% in 2 days) in our $25,000 virtual portfolio (now over $80,000) – selling into the morning excitement and grabbed the QID Oct $44/47 bull call spread at $1.45, selling RIMM Oct $22 puts for $1.10 into the panic as a bullish offset. At net .35, it will be very easy to get a quick 100% or even 200% gain ahead of the Fed on the morning sell-off and we’ll be looking to cash out and switch horses if we can hold the same levels we held on Thursday, the same ones we were looking to break over on Wednesday (we did) – notably S&P 1,200 and Russell 700.
We are simply waiting on the Fed this week and little attention should be paid to any action in the markets as long as it stays within our range. What matters is the reaction to Wednesday’s FOMC statement at 2:15 and, between now and then, it’s all about Housing in the US, with the NAHB Housing Market Index this morning at 10 followed by Housing Starts and Building Permits tomorrow at 8:30 and then the MBA Mortgage Index Wednesday at 7am and, finally, Existing Home Sales at 10. After that the Fed has the floor and nothing really matters after that.
If Housing is bad, we are ready with IYR hedges in our Income Portfolio so we’ll be able to sell DIA puts to cover into the morning sell-off that we anticipated on Friday. We can also take advantage of the morning panic to short TLT again, as they should be flying over $113 again. Our last TLT spread was last Wednesday, where we sold the weekly $113 calls for .90 and bought the $114/112 bear put spread for $1.12 for net .22 and that one finished Friday at net $1.75, up 795% in two days – so you can why I’m excited to get another pop at it this morning!
Doug Short wrote an excellent article titled "Weighing the Week…
by phil - September 2nd, 2011 8:18 am
$30 Billion – that’s bound to get their attention!
According to the WSJ, the Federal Housing Finance Agency is set to file suits against more than a dozen big banks, accusing them of misrepresenting the quality of mortgage securities they assembled and sold at the height of the housing bubble. The suits, which are expected to be filed in the coming days in federal court, are aimed at Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank, among others, according to three individuals briefed on the matter.
The suits stem from subpoenas the finance agency issued to banks a year ago. If the case is not filed Friday, they said, it will come Tuesday, shortly before a deadline expires for the housing agency to file claims arguing the banks, which assembled the mortgages and marketed them as securities to investors, failed to perform the due diligence required under securities law and missed evidence that borrowers’ incomes were inflated or falsified. When many borrowers were unable to pay their mortgages, the securities backed by the mortgages quickly lost value.
Fannie and Freddie lost more than $30 billion, in part as a result of the deals, losses that were borne mostly by taxpayers. In July, the agency filed suit against UBS, another major mortgage securitizer, seeking to recover at least $900 million, and the individuals with knowledge of the case said the new litigation would be similar in scope.
Tim Rood, who worked at Fannie Mae until 2006 and is now a partner at the Collingwood Group, which advises banks and servicers on housing-related issues, agrees with what I told Members in last night’s chat:
"While I believe that F.H.F.A. is acting responsibly in its role as conservator, I am afraid that we risk pushing these guys off of a cliff and we’re going to have to bail out the banks again.”
In other words – MADNESS! What was the point of spending Trillions of Dollars bailing out the Banks if you are going to turn around and sue them for $30Bn and drop their stock price another Trillion, causing them to need another bailout?
Perhaps this is the denouement of a week of scary market rumors that seem to have been designed to stop the markets from breaking too high. We were speculating on this last night in Member Chat before this…
by phil - August 18th, 2011 8:02 am
Now THIS is an exciting ride. We had a great sell-off in the Futures this morning – the same Futures that I mentioned, in yesterday’s Morning Post, that we had shorted at S&P 1,200 and Russell 710 in a post I had titled "1,200 or Bust!" Of course we also called for our usual monthly oil short with the (/CL) Futures hitting $99 on yesterday’s inventory and now down to $86 (up $3,000 per contract).
Of course, for the Futures Impaired – we still have our straight USO Sept $32 puts at .90, which we whittled down to a .75 in yesterday’s Member Chat as well as the very lovely idea of the SQQQ Sept $25/28 bull call spread at $1 (spread with short RIMM Sept $22.50 puts to make it FREE) that I mentioned right in the 2nd paragraph of Tuesday’s post. Those were just the ideas we gave away for free! In Member Chat, yesterday’s morning Alert to Members was this:
As I said earlier, we like the Futures short at RUT (/TF) 710 and S&P (/ES) 1,200 but the big play today will be shorting oil (/CL) below the $88.50 line or, hopefully, below the $90 mark if they get that high. Expect the Dollar to re-test 73.50 and, if they hold it, then it’s a great time to hit the shorts but, with oil, we’re waiting on that inventory report at 10:30.
As an overall short on oil, the Sept $32 puts are down to .65 and .60 is a good spot to DD in the $25KP (10 more). AFTER that, with an average of .75 per contract, we want to consider rolling up to the Sept $33 puts, now .90 for .30 or less.
Another fun way to play an oil sell-off is the SCO Aug $53/54 bull call spread
by phil - August 10th, 2011 8:29 am
Kudos to Dylan Ratigan for losing his temper and telling the TRUTH:
Ratigan is everything a reporter used to be in the days when integrity mattered. He told CNBC to shove it rather than toe the line and push their snake oil and his show is a breath of fresh air in an otherwise stale media landscape. I love the way he sits there listening to the same political BS as we all do from his panel for 3 minutes and 45 seconds and then literally explodes in RIGHTEOUS anger. I often feel the same way and, as my Members know, I sometimes explode the same way but to see a host do it on TV (other than Jon Stewart) is just fantastic – it’s what this country needs if we are ever going to save ourselves – complete change in the system.
As Dylan says: "I have been coming on TV for 3 years doing this and the fact of the matter is that there is a refusal on both the Republican and Democratic side of the aisle to acknowledge the mathematical problem, which is that the United States of America is being EXTRACTED – it’s being extracted through banking, it’s being extracted through trade, and it’s being extracted through taxation and there’s not a single politician that is willing to step forward and deal with this."
Yesterday was a ridiculous day in the markets, with the Dow rising 250 points, then falling 500 points and then rising 800 points into the close for a net gain of 429 points on the day. We had a lot of fun trading it but it’s sad to see our markets trading like a 3rd World country. I have warned Members for years that: "If our government pursues Asian-style Central Banking policies they will subject our markets to Asian-style market swings" (see "Stock Market Crash – Year One in Review – The Gathering Storm"). In July of 2009 I warned:
Our stock markets have already started trading like those crazy Asian markets. Why? Manipulation is why. Control of the media by government and business allows focused messages to go out to the people so investors can be stampeded in and out of the markets at the will of the people who control the message.