by phil - May 27th, 2014 8:34 am
Not just from your holiday weekend but welcome back to the top of the S&P as we attempt our 7th breakout of the year. That's right, a month never goes by when we don't have a new rally that takes us back to the top of the channel, nor does a month go by when we don't re-test the bottom of the channel either – but let's ignore that as it's unpleasant.
Interestingly, as you can see from Dave Fry's S&P chart, there have only been 9 positive weeks out of 19 in 2014 but oh boy did they make them count – with almost every one of them setting a new record – before the selling resumed. Despite all these "records" being set, the average capital allocation strategy hasn't performed all that well in 2014, so far:
Thank goodness we're not pursuing any of those! Thank goodness also that we didn't give our money to any hedge fund managers, as hedge funds are off to their worst start of the year since the Financial Crisis. Not listed here is our "Be the House – Not the Gambler" strategy, which we will be reviewing live today at 12:15 EST in a Live Webinar (sign up here for free).
Selling risk to others in our Member Portfolios has given us 10%+ gains for year (so far). In fact, the only strategy we agreed with from the above chart was gold, which we bet heavily (along with DBA) at the beginning of the year. We were still knocking it out of the park in early May, with 40 of our 47 trade ideas in early may coming up winners already (see our May Trade Review).
Remember, this isn't about making good picks, per se – it's about having a good strategy that gives you a high probability of success – even when you are wrong about a trade. BEING THE HOUSE and selling risk (through options) to others is the closest thing we get to a "sure thing" in trading. It's not fast, it's not sexy - but it works!
by phil - May 1st, 2014 8:04 am
Why should we worry?
The Dow is at 16,580 so all must be well, right? The fact that we're up here on low volume and even lower earnings is just one of those nit-picky things that won't matter a year from now, when TA people use the movement to draw new, bullish trend lines.
That's what the Fed is controlling, they are painting charts in broad strokes to keep things moving along – even when they aren't.
Sure the US economy is only growing at a 0.1% annual pace and sure that's down shockingly from 2.6% last quarter but, hey, we EXPECTED to only grow at 1% – so it's ONLY a 90% miss – what, us worry?
The Fed says it's just bad weather slowing us down and, whether or not you believe that, they also promise to continue to stimulate the economy long after it is necessary. The Fed is like Santa Claus, only they don't have to put in any effort to make their toys, so Christmas comes 365 days a year for the top 0.01%. For the bottom 99.99% – well, it's 0.1% growth on the "trickle down" effect.
In fact, if you take out the Banksters, who are piling up the Fed's free money in their vaults and using it to manipulate the stock and commodity markets (and higher costs for Energy, Food and Health Care were the only reason our GDP wasn't -1% instead of +0.1%), then you can see that those companies not protected by the Fed are in big trouble.
Not since 1999 has there been less cash relative to debt in Corporate America. Yes, money is cheap, so why not borrow some but that money isn't being used to invest in plants, equipment or, God forbid, hiring and training more people – it's being used to buy back stock and pay out dividends to give the ILLUSION that earnings are improving, when it's actually only the share count that's being reduced.
by Option Review - July 25th, 2013 7:58 pm
Today’s tickers: OKE, STX & SPR
by phil - March 22nd, 2012 8:34 am
Do you REALLY think this will go on forever?
On the right is the AAPL quarterly chart but it could also be the quarterly chart of SHLD, NFLX, FOSL, STX or PCLN (Bespoke Chart), all of whom are up more than AAPL (which is up 50%) in 2012. We've discussed PCLN as one of my favorite shorts and we had a good discussion in Member chat last night comparing PCLN to EXPE, who drop the same amount of cash to the bottom line (before buybacks and dividends) but have just 1/8th of the market cap of PCLN.
Sure you can say that PCLN is twice as good as EXPE (it isn't, but you can say it) but can you say it's 4 times as good? How about 8 times? EXPE nets $500M a year – 8 times that is $4Bn – more money than the entire travel sector makes! How, exactly, will PCLN grow into that valuation? Eliminate all competition and then grow the sector by 50%? Well, that's pretty much what AAPL did but how many AAPLs can you have in one market?
THAT is the problem my friends. Aside from the macro concerns we discussed in yesterday's post, we have a sort of value mania that is driven by the very real success of one company, much the way we had a dot com boom in the late 90s driven by the very real success of just a few companies. Back then, everyone was the next QCOM, YHOO, MSFT, CSCO – whichever category you were supposed to be the best. Qualcomm, in fact, was the best performing tech stock of 1999, gaining 2,619% that year and finishing right about $100. By the end of July, 2002, they were trading at $10 but hey, what a ride!
In fact, here's the CNet story from Dec 29th, 1999 titled "Qualcomm Jumps on $1,000 Price Target" and coming on the heels of "Qualcomm to offer Net2Phone services in Eudora" it's no wonder people were super-excited! AMZN was "only" up 25% that year to $100 but Jeff Bezos was Time's Man of the Year and yes, their business has been growing at an amazing rate for the past 12 years and they have crushed their competition and dominated the sector – and gained less than 6%…
by Option Review - August 18th, 2011 4:11 pm
Today’s tickers: NRG, SCG & STX
NRG - NRG Energy, Inc. – The wholesale power generation company popped up on our ‘hot by options volume’ market scanner this morning due to heavier-than-usual trading traffic in its call options. Shares in NRG Energy, Inc. are down 2.7% at $21.66 in early-afternoon trade, outperforming the S&P 500 Index which is off 3.7%. Investors driving up September contract call volume on the stock do not expect shares in the Princeton, NJ-based company to rebound with any conviction ahead of expiration next month. Options players exchanged more than 4,700 calls at the September $23 strike against previously existing open interest of just 875 contracts. It looks like all of the contracts were sold at a premium of $0.50 each. Call sellers walk away with the full $0.50 in premium as long as the options expire worthless with shares trading below $23.00 at expiration. Selling spread to the September $24 strike where some 244 calls sold for a premium of $0.30 apiece. If these are naked shorts, traders face losses should the stock rally above the effective breakeven prices of $23.50 and $24.30 at expiration, respectively.
SCG - SCANA Corp. – The holding company for subsidiaries engaged in the generation and sale of electricity to retail customers is a bright spot in an otherwise dark day for equities. Shares in Cayce, SC-based Scana Corp. are currently up 1.5% at $39.18 after dealReporter cited industry sources that said the company may consider putting itself up for sale. One options strategist expecting shares in the name to rally in the months ahead initiated a debit call spread, buying 1,500 calls at the November $40 strike for a premium of $1.10 each, and selling the same number of calls up at the November $45 strike at a premium 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 Option Review - November 18th, 2010 4:25 pm
Today’s tickers: RF, YHOO, ORLY, CTV, HNZ, STX, SMH & GT
RF - Regions Financial Corp. – Bears are piling into put options on Regions Financial Corp. today after Fitch Ratings cut Alabama’s biggest lender by two levels to –BBB, citing concerns the firm may post additional losses. Regions’ credit rating was also downgraded two notches to Ba3 from Ba1 at Moody’s yesterday. Shares have been hammered lower over the past four weeks, and today declined as much as 7.22% to touch an intraday- and new 52-week low of $5.14. Today’s low of $5.14 marks a 46.5% decline since October 21, 2010, when shares touched an intraday high of $7.53. Investors expecting shares to extend losses over the next several months purchased large numbers of put options on the stock. Bearish players picked up at least 9,000 puts at the December $5.0 strike for an average premium of $0.28 each and purchased approximately 10,000 puts at the lower December $4.0 strike at an average premium of $0.20 apiece. Lower-strike put buyers are positioned to profit should Regions’ shares slide another 26% below today’s intraday low point of $5.14 to breach the effective breakeven point on the downside at $3.80 by expiration day in December. Pessimism spread to the January 2011 $4.0 strike where another 3,800 put options were coveted at an average premium of $0.20 a-pop. The surge in demand for put options coupled with growing uncertainty regarding the fate of RF’s shares going forward helped lift the stock’s overall reading of options implied volatility 27.4% to 90.77% by 3:50 pm in New York.
YHOO - Yahoo!, Inc. – Shares in Yahoo! are up 5.35% to $17.01 as of 2:40 pm in New York, but earlier rallied as much as 6.315% to hit an intraday high of $17.17. Call options on…
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 - July 22nd, 2010 8:27 am
Isn't this fun?
Up 200, down 200, up 200, down 200 - wash out your savings, rinse and repeat! What a total sham of a market we have these days with machines running us up and down on virtually no news at all. Yesterday they would have you believe that Ben Bernanke caused a sell-off. How ridiculous is that? He didn't say one thing that he didn't already say in the Fed Minutes that were released on the 14th, which were the notes from the meeting of June 23rd so for analysts to get on TV and say "the markets were concerned by the Chairman's comments" is beyond stupid – it's criminal negligence.
That's Can Not Be Correct and other media outlets are supposed to have something that is called a Public Trust, which means that broadcast licenses are a national resource that are meant to be used responsibly. I know, that almost sounds like a joke but it's not – we used to care about these things… Now the public is treated like cattle and is simply stampeded to the slaughterhouse at the whim of the media and the Big Money that pulls their strings and our equally puppet Government spend their days fighting over who gets to wear the captian's hat on the Titanic. Maybe it is a joke - too bad it's on us!
That's why we keep things light over at PSW – we know it's a crock but, as long as it's a crock we can figure out, we're happy. I mentioned yesterday that Tuesday morning's Alert to Members had 2 long plays on the Russell that made over 40% each in a day. Well yesterday we shorted the Russell at 9:42 with TNA $32 puts $1.60 and IWM $60 puts at $1.32. It wasn't as exciting as Tuesday but the TNA puts made $2 (25%) and the IWM puts performed much better, also hitting $2 for a 50% gain on the day. We have now learned that TNA and TZA, despite looking sexy, are not as good to play for direction as the IWM puts and calls. This is due to the wide bid ask spread and low liquidity, which means the Market Maker can rob you blind by stealing nickels and dimes from you every time you buy and sell – this is something you should always be aware of when trading options on ultra-ETFs.
by Option Review - May 18th, 2010 4:20 pm
Today’s tickers: V, MA, JPM, COF, EEM, STX, MDC, DPS, MYL & LEN
V – Visa, Inc. – Shares of the world’s largest payments network are down sharply by 7.75% to stand at $68.92 as of 2:55 pm (ET) after Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D – RI) suggested Monday that the U.S. should cap interest rates on credit cards. Other credit card companies such as MasterCard and Capital One Financial Corp. are also suffering significant share price erosion this afternoon. Bearish options investors flooded the May contract with pessimistic plays, while more optimistic traders appear to be positioning for a rebound in Visa’s share price by June expiration. Investors bracing for continued bearish movement in the price of the underlying stock picked up 3,600 now in-the-money puts at the May $70 strike for an average premium of $1.15 apiece. Buying interest spread to the lower May $65 strike where 1,400 puts were purchased at an average premium of $0.36 each. Finally, uber-bearish traders scooped up 1,290 puts at the May $60 strike – the lowest strike price currently available in the front month – for an average premium of $0.16 apiece. Investors long the May $60 strike puts make money if Visa’s shares plummet 13.15% from the current value of $68.92 to breach the average breakeven point to the downside at $59.84 by expiration on Friday. Bearish traders also ravaged May contract calls, selling roughly 7,000 lots at the May $75 strike to take in an average premium of $0.71 per contract. Investors also shed 2,000 calls at the May $70 strike to receive an average premium of $2.47 apiece. Call sellers retain the full premium received today as long shares of the underlying stock do not exceed $70.00 ahead of expiration. Finally, optimistic options investors are positioning for a rebound in the credit card company’s shares by purchasing 1,800 calls at the June $70 strike for an average premium of $4.71 each. Shares must rally 8.4% over the current price of the stock before June $70 strike call buyers start to make money above the average breakeven price of $74.71. Bullish call buying activity spread to the higher June $72.5 strike where 2,500 calls were picked up for an average premium of $3.64 per contract. Investor uncertainty, as measured by the overall reading of options implied volatility, is net up on Visa today with volatility rising 16.5% to 52.68% as…