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% a year for their troubles.
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 that was on the money at the time. GE has gained about .75 since the 11th and…
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 was already following your newsletter for quite some time) I find it hard for me to BUY PREMIUM. Over time, I’ve realized that buying the
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…
by phil - April 25th, 2010 8:29 am
I’m sorry, I am trying so hard to get bullish but it’s not working…
My only solution is to, as we often joke, switch off my brain and stop reading the news (listening to it is great as everything is coming up roses in TV-land) and ignore the now-exposed shenanigans on Wall Street (why should I worry about my investments just because the people running the game are up on fraud charges?) and for goodness sakes don’t even look at something as depressing as "The Economic Elite vs. the People of the United States of America," neither Parts 1-3 or Parts 4-6 because that can lead to thinking and thinking makes it REALLY hard to go to sleep at night with your money riding on the top of an 80% market while gold is trading at $1,150 an ounce because of overwhelming global instability and a total lack of faith in the global financial markets.
Yep, if we don’t think about all that stuff and focus on the good stuff, like the fact that Unemployment is only 3% for those of us who earn $150,000 a year (for the poor it’s 31%), and 93% of our virtually fully-employed analysts predict the S&P will finish the year even higher (although not too much higher) with only Andrew Garhwaite of Credit Suisse in need of an "attitude adjustment" with his puny target of 1,175, which is 32 points lower than Friday’s close. Fortunately, enlightened analysts like Deutsche Bank’s Binky Chad think we can still squeeze another 100 points out of this rally (about 10%) although Goldman Sachs is wimping out at 1,250, their partner in "whatever you want to call it", JP Morgan is up at 1,300. So it’s BUYBUYBUY from the gang of 12 and we’ll be whipping Andrew into shape by the next report or he may find himself the fall guy for the next scandal…
Oops, sorry, I wasn’t supposed to mention the scandals as that’s not really a buying premise unless of course you look at the sheer volume of things the IBanks were getting away with and then look at the virtual nothing that is being done about it and then we can conclude there is no reason they can’t pump this market back up to Dow 14,000 because we already know it was such total BS last time, when we dropped 50% like…
by Option Review - March 30th, 2010 6:43 pm
Today’s tickers: V, RDC, VALE, EEM, STX, XRT, FXI, VZ, IPI & MMM
V – Visa, Inc. – Call options on credit card company, Visa, Inc., are in high demand today by investors who appear to be expecting a sharp rally in the price of the underlying stock by April expiration. Visa’s share price increased 0.85% to $91.00 in afternoon trading. Bullish options players purchased about 4,000 calls at the April $95 strike for an average premium of $0.60 apiece. Call-buyers at the April $95 strike stand ready to accrue profits if Visa’s shares rise 5% to surpass the effective breakeven price of $95.60 by expiration day in April. Other optimistic options traders picked up approximately 5,000 calls at the higher April $100 strike for an average premium of $0.15 each. These investors make money if shares of the underlying stock surge 10% to exceed the breakeven price of $100.15 by expiration.
RDC – Rowan Companies, Inc. – Shares of the onshore and offshore contract drilling company leapt up 6.4% to briefly touch a new 52-week high of $29.40 in afternoon trading perhaps on news Rowan has “made no change in plans to shed its onshore oil and gas drilling business and LeTourneau Technologies Inc. manufacturing unit to focus on offshore projects.” Rowan’s shares are still net up for the session by 1.95% to $28.17 as of 2:50 pm (ET). Bullish options traders scooped up nearly 8,000 call options at the April $30 strike for an average premium of $0.45 per contract. Call-buyers are positioned to make money if Rowan’s shares jump 8% from the current value of $28.17 to breach the breakeven point at $30.45 ahead of April expiration day. Investors exchanged more than 25,500 contracts on the stock throughout the session, which represents 46.75% of total open interest on RDC of 54,546 lots.
VALE – Vale S.A. – Covered-call selling on Brazilian iron ore producer, Vale S.A., indicates one investor is expecting shares of the underlying stock to continue to rally to new highs for the year through May expiration. Vale’s shares gained 2% earlier in the current session to attain a new 52-week high of $32.66, exceeding yesterday’s new high of $32.00. The so-called buy-write strategy observed today took place at the May $33 strike where one optimistic individual shed 10,000 calls for a premium of $1.33 apiece. At the same time, the investor purchased an equivalent…
by phil - January 19th, 2010 8:08 am
"There is no pain you are receding
A distant ship’s smoke on the horizon.
You are only coming through in waves.
Your lips move but I can’t hear what you’re saying.
When I was a child
I caught a fleeting glimpse
Out of the corner of my eye.
I turned to look but it was gone
I cannot put my finger on it now
The child is grown,
The dream is gone.
but I have become comfortably numb." – Pink Floyd
I have a theory that the markets (and the American people in general) aren’t irrational, they are simply shell-shocked after suffering a very traumatic group financial experience…
To be shell-shocked is to be "mentally confused, upset, or exhausted as a result of excessive stress" and the most common symptoms are: Fatigue, slower reaction times, indecision, disconnection from one’s surroundings, and inability to prioritize – That certainly sounds like our Congress doesn’t it? Combat stress disorder was first diagnosed in WWI, when 10% of the troops were killed and 56% wounded – far worse than had been experienced in previous wars. Our current financial crisis has similarly affected more people than any previous crisis with almost everyone knowing someone who is bankrupt or lost their jobs or homes and almost no one escaped the carnage of the downturn without some financial damage.
Combat fatigue may go a long way to explaining the severe drop-off in volume that has plagued the markets since March, with participation now down to 25% of where we were last January and that leaves us open to the blatant sort of market manipulation that Karl Denninger caught last week as well as the usual nonsense we get daily from HFT programs that drive the market with such precision that we are able to tell how the day is going to go by simply checking our hourly volume targets. Here’s a clip from CNBC where a floor trader discusses market manipulation as a fact of trading (2 mins in).
As Nicholas Santiago points out on In The Money Stocks, "January is usually a very high volume month, yet it has started off the New Year even lighter than the last two months of 2009. Light volume markets are very difficult to short. Hence the old saying, ‘never short a dull market’." Not only is the market volume…