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 24th, 2012 8:32 am
AAPL is a total disaster.
There's no denying it now, they had their IPad Mini event yesterday and investors charged out of the stock, dropping it from a high of $633 (which is already 10% off the Sept highs) to close at $613 and that was finally weak enough to get us to capitulate and roll back our AAPL positions to longer-term trades that have less upside but, more importantly, less downside as we are no longer confident they'll be able to turn it around on Friday.
Notice how silly it seems to talk about how poorly AAPL is performing when the chart on the right pretty clearly indicates it's the greatest stock on Earth but that would be the logical conclusion for a company that's on track to earnings $43Bn this year, which is $81,811 a minute – more even than what they were tracking to make last month, when I set out bottom target at $600 (and that spread is an even better buy now) AND, only 68% of what they are projected to make next year!
We didn't really think it would hit $600 – that was our worst-case but here we are – at the worst case and, since we are no longer able to say with conviction that it can't get any worse, we had to back our short-term plays to something that buys us more time. In that same post we liked HPQ at $14.30 and at least they are holding that line and we also had a nice spread on that stock in the same post, which is still holding up as a new spread.
In that post I mentioned (as usual) our primary hedge being TZA and the straight-up April $15 calls mentioned there have gone up another .40, from $2.50 to $2.90 off our $2.10 entry (up 38%) – not bad against just a 15-point drop in the Russell (down 2%).
Yesterday, with our hedges already in place (see last Wednesday's TZA hedge and this Monday's DIA hedge) we had the luxury of doing some bottom-fishing yesterday with long trade ideas on TIVO at $9.78, USO at $31.75, AAPL at $623, CMG at $238 and our last trade idea for the day was SQQQ at $41.20 (that one, of course, is another hedge – always look for BALANCE!) – just…
by phil - October 19th, 2012 8:30 am
25 years ago today, the market fell 22%.
You never know what's going to panic the markets – since then we've had many other sudden corrections like Black Friday just 2 years later and Black Wednesday in September 1992, we've had the dot.com collapse and 9/11 and whatever you call 2008 and recently we had Dubai and Greece leading to sudden crashes and the ubiquitous flash crash and whatever happened last August (Europe again).
So stock markets are dangerous places to keep your money, on the whole. That's why TZA (ultra-short Russell) is our primary hedge in the Income Portfolio and, as I mentioned in last Wednesday's post, should the S&P fail to hold 1,440, then the Dow has little support all the way down to 13,295 as well. Just this Tuesday, I reiterated a TZA spread Members could use for general portfolio coverage:
Ultra hedges/Bdon – You just can't beat TZA at $15. The Jan $12/15 bull call spread is $1.50 so 100% upside if TZA simply doesn't go any lower. If they do go lower, you can sell the April $11 puts, now .50 for $1 (the Apr $12 puts are .92) before your $1.50 is even out of the money and then you'd be in the Jan $12s at net .50 and worst case is you get assigned at net $11.50 in April but, of course, you can roll or simply accept the assignment and cover and then you have more long-term protection.
We like to buy our protection when the market is going up – it's cheaper that way! TZA was at $14.75 at yesterday's close and the Jan spread was still about the same $1.50 but it's $2.75 in the money – all we need is for TZA to not go down (Russsell not to go up) and we make a tidy profit. That's a good way to hedge because the only way that hedge loses money is if the market breaks higher.
We're not turning bearish yet but, as we're seeing some pretty serious misses (GOOG and CMG yesterday, for example) and some pretty strong reactions to those misses – it is a good time to make sure people do remember the value of hedging. If nothing else, it's a piece of mind that lets us ride out these dips without worry. Also, of course, it's good to…
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 17th, 2012 7:31 am
Let's not make this more complicated than it needs to be.
A weak Dollar lifts the markets and, this morning, the Dollar fell from 79.50 at yesterday's close to 79 at 6:45 and that's why, despite earnings disappointments from both INTC and IBM, the Futures are up slightly 3 hours before the open. As you can see from the chart on the right, to say there's a strong inverse correlation between the Dollar and the S&P is quite the understatement. Over the longer run – the effect tends to wash out but, over the short run, it's an almost perfect match.
Of course, this also has a very direct effect on commodity pricing and part of the reason for the Dollar's big sell-off last night was the much-better-than-last-time performance of Barack Obama in the second Presidential Debate as the future of the Fed and all that free money hangs in the balance.
After the first debate, two weeks ago, Romney clearly won and has made it known that he will kick both Big Bird and Big Ben to the curb as soon as he gets in office – that sent the Dollar up from 79.10 to 80.21 (up 1.4%) last week and dropped the S&P from 1,460 to 1,430 (2%). After last night, Romney looks to be back off the table and that leaves the Dollar to resume it's downward slope – giving another lift to the markets.
At the same time, Moody's left Spain's credit rating above junk this morning and that's lifting the Euro to $1.31 and the Pound is moving in lock-step at $1.61 BUT the Yen dropped 0.5% to 78.63 and it's not likely the BOJ will let the Dollar slip below 79 as that makes Toyotas and Sonys more expensive just ahead of the holidays. Also, the Nikkei finally got back to 8,850 last night and you know they hate to lose that line.
So get set for some heavy-duty Global Market Manipulation by our Central Banksters as everyone but Europe tries to race for the bottom. Europe, interestingly enough, doesn't mind a strong currency as they are fuel and goods importers and most of the goods they export are "luxury" class and less susceptible to currency fluctuations. With strong intra-zone trading the backbone of the EU economy, it doesn't matter where the Euro is trading from that perspective either and, of…
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 - September 14th, 2012 8:28 am
$85Bn a month!
Oh boy was I wrong when I said Ben Bernanke wasn't crazy enough to ease into a bull market. Yesterday, he exercised the full power of the Federal Reserve to confiscate your wealth and hand it over to the bankers. That's right, by engaging in what many consider reckless money-printing practices and announcing there is no end in sight, Bernanke caused the Dollar to fall below 79, down from 84 (6%) before all this QE talk began.
That's like taking all $100Tn worth of US Assets – everything you worked for your entire life – and just devaluing them by 6%. Many of our Conservative friends decry the 1% tax on wealth imposed by the French – but at least they are honest about it. At least they debate it and vote on it. Not Bern Bernanke – the Federal Reserve Chairman simply decrees that you will contribute 6% of your dollar-denominated assets towards more bank bail-out and there's no cut-off if you are below the top 2% – this is a confiscation from every man, woman and child in America.
How far down will Dr. Bernanke take your Dollars? That's the beauty of it – there's no limit! He warned Corporate America yesterday that he will continue to give them FREE MONEY as long as they keep refusing to hire more workers. The less American workers they hire – the more money he will give them. Sure, they can hire and spend overseas (most are) because that won't affect US unemployment rates but, if they start hiring Americans – THAT's when he will begin to take away the punch bowl.
See how this scam works?
It is hard to see how another round of QE would help the economy. Long-term interest rates are already at historic lows. With rates this low, even if QE put effective downward pressure on rates — a dubious proposition — the economy would be unlikely to benefit. If a 3.5% mortgage rate is of little consequence, there is no reason to believe that a 3.4% or even 3.3% rate would suddenly produce results.
Nor would quantitative easing result in a burst of money creation, as per traditional monetary policy, because the Fed now pays a quarter-point interest on excess bank reserves. With little growth in the demand for…
by phil - September 7th, 2012 8:30 am
This rally is never going to end!
Just look at this chart – we're breaking every level. THIS time is different – not only are we going to go on to 1,450, we're going to 1,500 and 1,550 and then 1,600 and then we're going to 1,700 and 1,800 and 1,900 and then we're going on to take on 2,000 – yeeeeeergh!
Sorry, I was channeling my inner Dean… Now that I've calmed down, I realize that this chart that got me so excited was actually the chart from March 5th and, as you can see from my end of February headlines like "Sell in March and Go Away," "This is the End – But For Who?" and "Fake-Out Thursday (March 8th) – Dollar Sacrificed on an Altar of Lies" – where I pointed out that rumors of more Fed easing (by John Hilsenrath of the WSJ, of course) had dumped the Dollar to 79 and that was accounting for the 1% gain in the S&P that day so – don't be fooled!
The ECB had just dropped $712,800,000,000 in fresh stimulus on the 29th and I asked "Will Another $712Bn Buy Us Another Day at 13,000?" Was I early? Yes. Did we miss the end of the rally? Yes. In fact, our $25,000 Portfolio at the time was so bearish, we were down almost $8,000 with huge bearish bets like 10 Short XRT March $55 calls, 10 short GLL March $17 puts, 10 April SCO 31/39 bull call spreads and 10 SCO short March $34 puts, 5 short FAS $88 calls, 5 March TZA $18 calls, 10 short SQQQ June $14 puts, 40 USO April $40 puts, 5 short FAS March $75 calls, 10 long FAS March $85 calls and 10 short FAS March $89 calls (a bearish spread), 10 TLT March $114/115 bull call spreads and 10 DIA March $129 puts.
The only bullish play we had at the time in our virtual portfolio was DMND, where we had 4 hopeless June $29 calls which we lucked out on when they spike on rumors in mid-March. Every other bullish position had been dumped and we were practically 100% bearish because the rally, at that point, seemed totally ridiculous. Just a months later, the Portfolio turned around and was up $8,000 and by May…
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…