by Option Review - January 17th, 2013 1:52 pm
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 phil - November 14th, 2012 8:31 am
What was that mess yesterday?
As you can see from David Fry's SPY chart, we went up and finished down but the volume was a bit lower to the upside than the sell-off into the close. MSFT and INTC led us to the downside – no surprise really as we discussed both this weekend as Dow components to avoid in the current cycle.
There was no significant economic data, just the usual nonsense about Greece and, of course, the drumbeat of fear regarding the US fiscal cliff that the MSM is banging 24/7. "What's up with that fiscal cliff" is now how 90% of my conversations begin with anyone who knows what I do for a living.
I now find that it's easier to say "Oh, we're all totally doomed" than to explain why we're not because when, for example, I say this to one of my Mother's friends – they nod wisely and agree with me while, if I try to explain why they shouldn't worry so much – they get all confused and then say to my Mom – "I thought he was supposed to understand the stock market."
I guess I should have tried this with my children. Rather than sitting up for 15 minutes or so explaining why there are not monsters under their bed – I could have just agreed with them and said "Yep, big hungry ones!" Maybe they'd never sleep again but at least I'd sound knowledgeable about monsters and the imminent dangers they posed to sleeping children.
Stocks are now at 3-month lows and it's been a month since we strung together 2 up days in a row (Oct 15-17) with the S&P falling from 1,470 on Oct 5th to yesterday's low of 1,371 fir a 99-point drop in 25 trading sessions (6.8%) – losing an average of 4 S&P points a day with 1,360 being our Must Hold line on the Big Chart. The S&P and the NYSE are both, so far, holding their lines (NYSE is 8,000) and they are our broadest indexes but we're pretty close to having to layer our disaster hedges as we cross those -7.5% lines.
The S&P was at 1,440 when we put up our latest round of disaster hedges on the 20th of October. Before that, we had just been using TZA as our primary hedge –…
by phil - October 18th, 2012 8:03 am
EU leaders are meeting in Brussels today and tomorrow.
For anyone who's been paying attention for the last two years – that's usually not a good thing and, as we noted yesterday, it was a strong Euro and a weak Dollar that was driving our little rally. The Dollar bottomed out at 79 and the Euro topped out at $1.314 and the Euro's strength sent the Yen back up to 79.30 to the Dollar (weaker) and that led to a 2% Nikkei rally last night. As you can see from the chart on the right, the S&P for the week is 1% behind UK and Germany and 2.5% behind France and Italy (+4%) and Spain (+7%) – so we have a lot of catching up to do if this rally is real and sustainable.
Still, I sent out an Alert to Members early this morning noting that the Global Markets were holding up well as of 6am and that was encouraging. Yesterday we discussed taking advantage of the run-up in the Russell to make a TZA hedge to lock in some of our gains (see main post) but we still haven't covered XLF (target $16.50 – see Dave Fry's chart) and we're still bullish on AAPL as well. We cashed that ISRG play, as planned for $9 on the spreads (200x = $1,800), spending .30 x 200 ($60) to buy back the callers so that, with the $200 we were paid to take the position is just short of our $2,000 goal at net $1,960 – not bad for a day's "work".
In Member Chat this morning, we discussed GOOG's outlook for earnings this evening and decided they were more likely topping than popping so we have that risk to the Nasdaq for tomorrow. IBM was an 80-point drag on the Dow yesterday but it did manage to finish flat and advancers led decliners on the NYSE by 2:1 so the conditions are still there for a rally and hopefully what we have here a a pause that refreshes and not a triple top from the mid-September highs.
The Nasdaq and the Russell are, in fact, in downtrending channels and, for the Nasdaq, their fate rests on GOOG tonight and AAPL next Thursday – but it's still a long way back to the highs at 3,200.
by phil - October 11th, 2012 8:19 am
"We don't see the focus on poverty as about charity, but rather about investment in future growth."
World Bank President Jim Yong Kim outlined his vision of what the multilateral lender should do, focusing sharply on cases of significant poverty. Dr. Kim said economic-growth expectations were being scaled back everywhere but that he was determined to prevent the substantial gains made by emerging economies over the past decade from being wiped out. "Every country has to look at its public spending and see what works," he said.
The World Bank had their annual meeting in conjunction with the IMF in Tokyo this week and Dr. Young's message is no longer the opposite of Christine LaGaurd's, who has essentially come around to thinking that austerity is no longer the answer – pushing for debt write-downs for Greece, Portugal and Spain as well as backing Greece's request for two more years to meet its fiscal targets. “We will spare no time, no effort to actually do as much as we can in order to help Greece,” Lagarde said. The fund’s purpose is “to make sure that Greece is back on its feet, that it can one day return to markets, that it doesn’t have the need for constant support.”
Meanwhile, Spain was downgraded to one notch over junk (BBB-) with a negative credit watch by S&P last night but it was more of a "buy on the news" event this morning as it's certainly not a shocker that Spain's paper is worthless without the ESM backing. Yields on 10-year Spanish bonds shot up 9bps to 5.89% but stopping short of 6% was considered a positive. Spain is the poster child for the idiocy of using austerity to combat debt (ie. the Romney plan) as squeezing the economy by cutting Government spending has actually worsened the country's fiscal position, which has led to calls for greater austerity but these calls come from bankers and bondholders – who just want to get paid, no matter the long-term damage done to the borrowers.
“There is no chance that Spain will hit its targets,” said Megan Greene, director of European economics at Roubini Global Economics LLC, “The deficit targets are economic suicide.’ “Even as you cut, the gap between spending and revenue collection keeps getting larger,” said Jonathan Tepper, a partner at research firm Variant Perception. “We’re…
by phil - October 10th, 2012 8:44 am
$76,103 – That's not sales, that's profit!
Every minute of every day, AAPL is making $76,103 (at $40Bn a year) on the sale of $316,120 worth of products. No company on Earth comes close to that kind of metric and, overall, the stock's performance clearly indicates that but, if you listen to the MSM, you would think AAPL is finished.
We had a nice, in-depth discussion about AAPL in Member Chat this morning and we not only concluded it's still a buy but we came up with a lovely spread that has the potential to turn $3,000 into $45,000 between now and Jan 2015 if AAPL simply holds $600 – needless to say we're very proud of that as it's always nice to have a trade or two in your portfolio that returns 1,500% and we rarely get a chance to do them with a blue-chip stock like AAPL.
Note in the above chart, that AAPL is still a relative outperformer this year – shown priced against HPQ, DELL, INTC, IBM, CAT and ISRG – all good companies that have simply failed to keep up. We also like HPQ at this level, now $14.30 as their REDUCED guidance has them earning $3.62 per share next year after earning $4.05 this year and that's still 25% back on your money, which sure beats TBills and we're not even counting the $18Bn in cash they have on hand, which is quite a lot when you consider that their entire market cap is now just $28Bn. Small wonder HPQ spent $9Bn buying back their own stock last year, when it was priced 100% higher.
HPQ is a pretty good candidate for a buy/write, where we Buy the stock for $14.30 and Write 2014 $15 puts and calls (sell short) for $5.50 and that nets $8.80 on the trade and, if HPQ is below $15 in Jan 2014, then another round of shares will be put to you at $15 for an average entry on 2x of $11.90, which is 17% below the current price and, if HPQ is over $15 in 16 months, then you get called away at $15 for a $6.20 profit on cash (75%). Buy/writes are our favorite tools for making long-term entries – see "How to Buy a Stock for a 15-20% Discount."
by phil - October 3rd, 2012 8:18 am
1,440 – Again.
That's right, we have made not one inch of progress since we had the same exact title in last Wednesday's post, when I said: "This is the part where the MSM begins to realize that Manufacturing is slowing down, stimulus won't create jobs, earnings are not going to be as good as expected, Europe is not fixed, housing is not as strong as expected andthe stock market is being manipulated. Yep, all the stuff I've been telling you for months." Our plan was to buy into the dip and that's what we've been doing the past week as our short-term virtual portfolios are now much more bullish than they were a week ago.
As you can see from Dave Fry's weekly SPY chart, we're still in an uptrending channel and still over the major support line at 1,420 and we tested 1,430 at the end of last week but have, so far, held 1,440 this week.
Last week we were all worried about Spain because they were rioting in the streets and this week we are all worried about Spain because they haven't requested a bail-out yet. "Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose," as they say in the country next to Spain…
In Member Chat last Wednesday, we took advantage of Oil Futures (/CL) testing $90 to go long and by the end of the week it was back to where we liked to short it at $93 and this morning, ahead of inventories, oil is at $91.22 but we're not long today as we don't expect the bulls to have much to get excited about but, if we get a dip to $88.50 that holds – we'd like to go long there. As you can see from this USO chart – we're pretty well stuck in the channel but the bottom is about $89 so I'm thinking a build this morning takes us just below the $33 line on USO.
AAPL was at $666 last Wednesday and they closed at $665 yesterday but we've worked ourselves into a more bullish position there (we had several long-term bullish trade ideas on AAPL in Member Chat that day). XLF was holding $15.50 and we went longer there – now $15.69. We added QQQ Oct $70s at .30 and yesterday we had the chance to add them again…
by phil - September 12th, 2012 8:27 am
Europe is getting a $650,000,000,000 bailout!
The German courts approved the ESM and the markets are up almost half a point in all the excitement. Stimulus really works, doesn't it? As I have been saying, all this stuff is baked in – the only shocker you'll see is if Uncle Ben fails us – again – tomorrow. For those of you with very short attention spans, he just failed to provide QE3 at Jackson Hole two weeks ago but the markets have rambled higher, unperturbed, because he didn't say he WOULDN'T give us QE3.
What should really worry the bulls this morning is that the Dollar dipped all the way to 79.64 on this fantastic news out of Germany and all the futures managed was to get back to yesterday's highs. Oil had a good old time rocketing to $98 but has already crossed our shorting spot at $97.50 (/CL) and we'll likely take the money and run on any turn back up and short them again AHEAD of inventories, which should show a nice build as the shipping channels re-open.
As noted in Member Chat this morning (among many other things), there are over 600M barrels on order at the NYMEX and as of the 20th, 165M of those barrels have to be rolled to the next 3 months that already have over 500M barrels on pretend order so we can expect some real scrambling out of oil longs between now and next Thursday (we're short on oil with SCO Oct $37 calls, now $2.45 in addition to our Futures targets).
What's keeping oil prices from tanking (also discussed this morning) is another round of "Israel Willl Attack Iran By Lunch" articles that seem to crop up every time NYMEX traders find themselves faking demand for more contracts than they can comfortably unload. Usually, that number is 500,000 contracts (1,000 barrels per contract), not 600,0000 and usually the new month they are rolling into only has 40M open barrel orders – not stuffed with 110M barrels already like January is.
Clearly demand for crude has fallen off the cliff – as evidenced by the chart on the right which illustrates how a combination of the recession and Obama's rising CAFE standards are causing a very steady drop in US demand by as much as 2Mbd less than we used in 2007.
by phil - September 5th, 2012 7:49 am
What a day yesterday. The Dow dropped over 100 points from the open but then, at 2 pm, a miracle occurred and we recovered almost all of our losses in just 30 minutes. We had similar action on the S&P and, as TA guru Dave Fry commented:
Our crack addicted trading desks believe in the Bernanke Put and the global central bank put. It’s quite apparent reading the news from China this morning as pundits were universally calling for more PBOC stimulus—it’s QE contagion. Moody’s cut their European outlook to negative which must be viewed two ways: Moody’s gets no respect and it means more QE.
Speaking of which the ECB is rumored to be launching “unlimited” bond buying (QE) with “conditions” (whatever those might be). The bond buying is said to be 0-3 year maturities with the implication being the problems of austerity and debt would beClouseau-like “sol-ved” during that period. Given that sort of optimism you’d not be incorrect in assuming the ECB will need a bailout itself down the road.
As you can see from Dave's SPY chart, the real volume for the day came to the downside while more volume sold off into the close than took us up in the afternoon.
That's the beauty of the HFT algos – they punch the market up all afternoon and then dump it on the mutual funds that come in after the bell and buy (for you – you retail sucker) at the day's closing prices. Pump and dump – that's the game the big boys get to play every day and it's clear as a bell that yesterday was dump, pump and dump with 2-3 times more volume selling that buying.
That's why this chart of On Balance Volume has such a massive divergence, again, much like the one that led to a 20% drop in the market last year that "no one saw coming." OBV measures buying and selling pressure as a cumulative indicator that adds volume on up days and subtracts volume on down days – clearly SOMEONE is fleeing this market and has been since late July. Keep in mind it was Operation Twist that "saved" us last fall and we're up a solid 27% from 1,100 on the S&P but, when we get in on ridiculous moves like we had yesterday – how can we trust…
by Option Review - August 28th, 2012 5:18 pm
Today’s tickers: SPY, MCP & JNPR
SPY - SPDR S&P 500 ETF – A massive bearish spread initiated in the final hours of the trading session on Monday afternoon suggests one big options market participant is prepared for a roughly 8% pullback in the S&P 500 Index during the next few months. Shares in the SPY, an exchange-traded fund that tracks the performance of the S&P 500 Index, slipped to an intraday low of $140.97 earlier today after consumer confidence fell the most in 10 months, but have since recovered to stand 0.10% lower on the session at $141.40 as of 11:30 a.m. ET. The large, approximately, 100,000-lot Nov. $130/$140 put spread purchased Monday for around $2.47 per contract makes money if the price of the underlying slips 2.7% to breach the average breakeven point on the downside at $137.53. Maximum potential profits of $7.53 per contract are available on the position in the event SPY shares drop 8% to settle at or below $130.00 at November expiration. The strategy could be looking ahead to the meeting of central bankers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming; betting the markets may be disappointed in what Bernanke and others have to say as the U.S. settles in for the long weekend. Additionally, with the S&P 500 Index having traded up to its highest in four years on an intraday basis last week, the spread may simply be locking in recent gains to protect against any bumps in the road, central bank-related or otherwise, that could trip up the market in the next few months.
MCP - Molycorp, Inc. – Shares in Molycorp are up 11.5% today at $10.61 after the rare earth metals mining company announced Monday it began operations at its Mountain Pass mine in California. Weekly call options on Molycorp are seeing the most volume in the first half of the trading session, with the Aug. 31 ’12 $10 and $11 strike calls changing hands more than…