by phil - October 14th, 2011 8:34 am
Can we end the week with a bang for a change?
Google had tremendous earnings last night (10% beat) and that has the Futures flying (along with AAPL’s IPhone 4S release, which has, as usual, lines around the block to buy their product on the first day). We already made some quick futures money in Member Chat, shorting the Nas (/NQ), Dow (/YM) and Oil (/CL) at 6am in Member Chat. Why go short – just because we had a silly pre-market run-up and we wanted to lock in gains – now it’s 7:30 and we’re done – waiting and seeing how things go into the open.
Futures trading is very useful for locking in pre-market gains but you have to be very careful or it’s just as easy to blow them and, as we demonstrate in Las Vegas Sunday Night – the futures markets are clearly a load of manipulated BS – especially in thin after-hours and pre-market trading. Fortunately though, that’s fine with us as one of the main lessons at PSW is "We don’t care IF the market is rigged, as long as we can figure out HOW the market is rigged and place our bets accordingly."
The news we didn’t want to risk the futures on comes up at 8:30, as we get the Retail Sales Report for September and not much is expected after a very weak August, where Auto Sales really dragged us down with a 0.2% drop and there was nothing sexy about the other items either. Still, one thing people fail to grasp when looking at these charts is that the numbers are in MILLIONS, not thousands – so August 2011 was $389,502,000,000 in total sales and up $26Bn from last August. That’s a pretty healthy pace of $4.6Tn in just Retail and Food Services – what recession?
As you can see from David Fry’s chart, we probably need to work off some overbought conditions before we can have a proper rally. Also, in an early Alert to Members this morning, we looked over our updated Big Chart and determined it was very unlikely that we will hit the levels we need to go bullish into the weekend so we are already planning to short the Nasdaq into the morning pop to put us neutral into the weekend with a 15/15 allocation (short-term positions, of course). …
by phil - October 13th, 2011 8:24 am
Wheeeee, what a ride!
I hate to say I told you so but I did tell you so in yesterday’s morning post when I said: "Not to be cynical but, if you are going to have some Slovakian Government officials torpedo a vote that will tank the markets – isn’t it a good idea to run them up first and bring in a bunch of suckers to sell to? We remain a bit skeptical until we get back over our "Must Hold" levels and hold them for more than a day." As you can see from David Fry’s chart, a little cynicism is a good thing in these markets as the Slovakian vote was delayed again and the FT rumor popped the day’s bubble.
We discussed shorting oil at $86 (now $84) and gold at $1,695 (now $1,670) as good plays off the morning pump and, as usual, shorting TLT was a winner but now we’re near their theoretical support by the Fed so we’d rather see a run-up to $120 before we play them again. At 1pm, we have a 30-year note auction of just $13Bn but, as I pointed out to Members in Chat, this makes $52.5Bn of 30-year borrowing since August 15th – that’s not even two months!
Who can keep funding this kind of debt load? And it’s not just the US that’s borrowing at an ever-increasing pace – the EU is borrowing as much as we are and Japan is borrowing and Russia is borrowing and Brazil and India are borrowing – Africa would borrow if anyone would lend it to them and our NAFTA buddies, Canada and Mexico, who also borrow about $50Bn a year to fund their own deficits.
How is it possible, a logical person may ask, for almost every single country in the World to run a deficit at the same time? Either A) China has so much of a surplus that they are funding everyone else or B) Everyone is printing money 24/7 to pay bills they don’t have the income for and, if B is the case – where’s the inflation? Is it really possible that, on a planet with a $60Tn GDP and a $4Tn annual deficit (and yes, half of it is ours!) that prices go up less than the 6.66% (why does that number come up so often) printing of…
by Option Review - October 5th, 2011 2:34 pm
Today’s tickers: TBT, RIMM & CE
TBT - ProShares UltraShort 20+ Year Treasury ETF – The huge run-up in bonds with greater than 20 years remaining to maturity may pull back by the end of the year, by the looks of a massive bullish options position on the TBT today. The TBT, an exchange-traded fund that corresponds to twice the inverse of the daily performance of the Barclays Capital 20+ Year U.S. Treasury Bond Index, rose 1.7% in early-afternoon trade to $19.12 perhaps on the release of some much-needed scraps of positive economic data out today. A number of large blocks of call options changed hands on the TBT this morning across multiple expiries. The traders responsible for the prints mostly purchased the contracts to position for shares in the TBT to rise, and bonds to fall. The largest transaction on the fund today was the purchase of a massive call butterfly spread in the December contract. The call ‘fly involved the purchase of 15,500 calls at the Dec. $22 and $28 strikes, combined with the sale of 31,000 calls at the Dec. $25 strike, all for a net premium of $0.26 per contract. The spread positions the investor to pocket maximum potential profits of $2.74 per contract in the event that shares in the TBT surge 30.75% over the current price of $19.12 to settle at $25.00 at expiration in December. The investor starts making money if the price of the underlying tops the effective breakeven price of $22.26 by expiration day. The rise in the TBT to $25.00 would roughly correspond to an 11.0% move lower in the TLT, which mirrors the daily performance of the same underlying Index of 20+ Year U.S. Treasury Bonds, to $108.00. Shares in the TBT last traded around $25.00 on August 31.…
by phil - September 26th, 2011 8:27 am
Up, up and away!
As I mentioned in Friday’s morning’s post, we did a lot of bottom-fishing on Thursday as we began to develop Disaster fatigue with long plays on XLF at $11.50, shorting TLT at $123, shorting VXX at $49.50, TNA at $34.50, BRK.B at $65, AA at $10.20, VLO at $19, IMAX at $15.75, BA at $58.32, AGQ at $170, CHK at $27.50, DIS at $30.14 and ABX at $47.50. They were hedged, of course and, for the most part, you still had a nice chance to make those entries on Friday – but not so much this morning as the futures are up about 1.5% already (7:30).
Friday morning, in my Alert to Members, I reminded them that BCS looked like an excellent VALUE to me, no matter what the PRICE was ($8.75 after hitting $8.40 the day before) and this morning, that PRICE is up well over 10% in EU trading. Did the VALUE of BCS change materially over the weekend? Of course not, certainly not by the $4Bn their market cap gained – like the song, the VALUE remains the same – only the highly variable price of a share of BCS is undergoing ch-ch-changes…
I pointed out similar hedged, long-term plays could be made on GS ($94), MS ($13), BAC ($6) and C ($24). Of course we hedged them per our discussion in the morning post (TZA was our morning choice but we’re out over 650 on the RUT) but then we went long on EWG (Germany) again with the very aggressive Oct $16,18 bull call spread at $1.30, offset by the sale of the $17 puts for .90 for net .40 on the $2 spread. 10 of those in our virtual $25,000 Portfolio cost $400 and can return $2,000 in less than 30 days if EWG is over $18 and, guess what – they’re over $18 this morning!
Another bullish bet we placed was USO Nov $28/30 bull call spread at $1.30, selling the $27 puts for $1.10 for net .20 on the $2 spread with a 900% upside if USO simply doesn’t drop from where it is now. That’s what’s nice about options – you don’t need the market to go up to make money good money. On this trade idea, your worst-case scenario is owning USO at net $27.20, about 10% lower than it…
by phil - September 23rd, 2011 8:35 am
What a disaster!
Of course, that’s why we have Disaster Hedges, right? August 11th was the last time we did a "Hedging for Disaster" post which included a LONG trade idea on gold that’s done now (we’re short) after gaining over 300%. We’re a little mixed in our results on the other hedges but that means we can SWITCH HORSES – from the trades that have already worked to the ones that haven’t yet. That’s how we cash out our winners on a regular basis – it’s the pony express of investing. Our other Disaster Hedges from that post were:
- DXD Oct $23 calls at $2, selling Oct $27 calls for $1.15 and the Oct $19 puts for .70 for net .10. That spread is currently -.05 so down 150% so far and a nice horse to switch to, offering a .05 credit on the $4 spread.
- FAZ Oct $65 calls at $22, selling Oct $72 calls for $20 and selling JPM 2013 $20 puts for $2.05 was a net .05 credit as a backstop to our long financial plays. FAZ is now at $71.34 and the October FAZ spread is now $3.70 but the JPM puts are now $3 so net .70 is only up 1,500% so far. Should the financials stay low, we get the full $7 from the spread and we’re obligated to buy JPM for $20 (now $29.27) in 2013.
- SDS Sept $26 calls at $3.20, selling Sept $32 calls for $1.65 and selling VLO Jan $15 puts for $1.20 for net .35. SDS is only at $25.73 so far (not a disaster yet) and the spread is now net $1.25 and the short VLO puts are .17 so net $1.08 on this one is up 208% and we’re not even at goal – that’s pretty good! Note the spread is LOWER than when we started so this can also be used as a fresh horse with a different offset, like X Jan $15 puts for $1.20 for a net .05 trade.
- TBT was stopped out with a small loss at $24 (fortunately). My comment at the time, with TBT at $24.88 was: "Keep in mind though, that the Fed has said rates will stay low through 2013 so it would be wise to uses stops on the puts, at least, if TBT fails to hold $24!"
by phil - September 5th, 2011 7:54 am
Thank goodness the US is closed!
Europe is down a whopping 3.5% (so far) this morning, opening in free fall after Asia opened down about 2% on the average (but finishing at the day’s lows). Gold flew up to $1,906 before calming down but oil is down to $84.82 at 6:45 am as the Dollar tests it’s highs of 75.15 on the Euro’s fall to $1.41 and the Pound testing $1.61. Any thoughts that the BOJ was done manipulating the Yen are now officially out the window as the Dollar/Yen is STILL 76.80 (around 128.50 on FXY), the same place it’s been since August 8th!
When the World’s 3rd largest economy is manipulating it’s currency on a daily basis, of course the Global markets are going to be thrown into chaos. Every day the BOJ tries to debase their currency they must buy other currencies or foreign stocks or gold or silver or oil – ANYTHING BUT YEN to make the Yen less valuable as compared to another relative basis.
Even so, it’s not working and Japan’s new finance minister said this morning that he will try to forge a consensus among the Group of Seven leading industrialized countries that "excessive yen rises" won’t benefit the world economy when finance officials meet in France later this week. "I am hoping to see us develop a common view that excessive yen rises, as shown by facts and processes in the past, do not necessarily have a positive impact on the global economy," Mr. Azumi told reporters, referring to Friday’s planned meeting of G-7 finance ministers and central bank chiefs in Marseille, France. "At this exchange rate, it is becoming impossible for crucial parts of Japan’s export industry to make profits," he said.
Asian shares were already following US financials downhill on overblown fears of the FHFA lawsuit (see FHFA Friday). I say overblown because the first bank sued, ING, already settled for .20 on the Dollar so banks are reacting as if they already lost $30Bn when it’s much more likely this will all get washed away for $6Bn, or about 2 day’s worth of profits (4%). We’ve already seen the banking community write down over $1Tn in losses and survive to screw us over another day – do we really think this little wrist-slap will end them or is this just another example of retail suckers…
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 13th, 2011 7:57 am
Riders on the storm
Into this house we're born
Into this world we're thrown
Like a dog without a bone
An actor out alone
What a crazy couple of week's we've been having! Very fortunately, in last month's update of our virtual income portfolio, we had already cashed out $33,084 – more than enough to take us through our first 8 months (our planned $4,000 a month to live on). We did that using just $200,000 of our $1M in buying power ($500,000 portfolio), staying very conservative and waiting for a bigger dip than the one we had had in June.
Well, here we are! We are now 10% below June's bottom and we did do a little bottom fishing, adding positions in WFR, SONC, IMAX, VLO, OIH, TBT and HOLI – positions we'll be reviewing below. To a large extent, we followed the strategy I called "Don't Just Do Something, Stand There" during this sell-off although it was (and still is) a nail-biter as we tested my August 2nd prediction of the "worst-case" scenario of a 20% drop from the top.
We stuck to our guns this week and had a lot of fun playing the wild gyrations with our short-term betting but the Income Portfolio is an exercise in managing a "low-touch" portfolio – one that does not require us to make daily adjustments. I am aware that can be frustrating for people who stare at the markets every day but that is what our short-term trade ideas are for in Member Chat. That goes for people who are retired or semi-retired too. You don't HAVE to play every day – or any day for that matter but you do need to…
by phil - August 11th, 2011 7:30 am
We took our last round of disaster protection back in early July and almost all of those trades are well in the money.
Since you know I am a big fan of taking cash off the table in either direction, let’s not be greedy and look at ways to "roll" our downside protection into new downside plays so we can set SENSIBLE stops on our now deep in the money short plays (very similar to our Mattress Strategy). Keep in mind that this is the biggest market decline we’ve had since last Summer, so adding a layer of protection here doubles our returns if this is the first leg of a major sell-off, or it gives us a smaller hedge that we can roll up later while we take our bigger hedges off the table. As I have to say WAY too often to members – It’s not a profit until you cash it in!
Hedging for disaster is a concept I advocated during another "recovery," in October of 2008, where we made our cover plays to carry us through a worrisome holiday season and into Q1 earnings – "just in case." That "just in case" saved a lot of virtual portfolios! The idea of disaster hedges high return ETFs that will give you 3-5x returns in a major downturn. That way, 10% allocated of your virtual portfolio to protection can turn into 30-50% on a dip, giving you some much-needed cash right when there is a good buying opportunity. At the time, I advocated SKF Jan $100s at $19. SKF hit $300 around Thanksgiving and those calls made a profit of over $280 (1,400%), so putting even just 5% of your virtual portfolio into that financial hedge would give you back 75% of your virtual portfolio when you cash out.
Keep in mind these are INSURANCE plays – you expect to LOSE, not win but, if you need to ride out a lot of bullish positions through an uncertain period, this is a pretty good way to go. We cashed out our bullish $25KP positions by July 28th, (our active virtual portfolio) with the S&P at 1,340 and, since then, I’ve had a very hard time making long-term bullish picks. I want top put up a Buy List but it’s still too risky – this will be step 1 though – protect first, then buy! Once we cash…