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Thursday Thump


That was nasty!  Not really bad in the big picture but for those with a short-term view of the markets, that was a scary little dip today.  Canaries are dropping like flies and, to further puree a metaphor, we have a full-fledged flame-out on our Nasdaq engine and the SOX drive is shot!

Well that's OK, the manual says: "In case of Nasdaq engine failure switch to the Transport drive."  What?  Down 16 you say?  How about the backup Russell engine?  Fell apart at 780?  OK – time to panic! (just a little).

We did hold our senior index levels today!  But when you're driving with 7 major tracking indices and you have a blowout on on 3 of them, you'd better schedule a pit-stop fast and rotate your positions or you may crash and burn on the next curve!

Hard to get enthusiastic isn't it?

I can forgive the Dow, the S&P and the NYSE – they are dragged down by the commodity sector but the other indexes are supposed to provide some sort of leadership and they have really fallen apart.  Blame Bernanke for being a downer this morning, warning congress that "that rising entitlement spending could create a "vicious cycle" of rising debt and interest payments and an eventual fiscal crisis."  Not exactly a tune you want to whistle is it?

Oil was no help today, falling so hard, so fast that it made investors think something was wrong with the global economy, despite CPI and PPI evidence to the contrary.  IBM's net was up 11% but it sold off, Apple was up 48% but it sold off, Merrill Lynch was up 68% but they sold off…  Hey – I found one!  BK's earnings were up 300% – all the way to $1.79Bn and their stock actually went up:  .69!  That's almost 2%!!!

2%???  The market cap of BK is $30Bn and they earned almost $2Bn in one quarter and, other than the little gap up this morning, they flatlined too!  Something is just not quite right here.  Are people bailing on the markets or are stocks, which are up an average of 20% since last January, simply being pinned down into the expiration of many long-held January leaps?  We'll have a clearer picture on Monday!


Today's crude inventory report was a total disaster for the energy sector.  We had an overall build of 11 Million barrels of crude in a single week.  To put this in perspective, on weeks where the draw is just 500Kb over, oil can spike up $1-2.  An 11Mb build, at this time of year, can only mean demand has fallen off a cliff AND supply is still rising.

The chart on the left is meant to illustrate how we will run out of oil and has some very conservative supply numbers YET IT STILL SHOWS MASSIVE SUPPLIES OF OIL THROUGH 2020!

Folks, we've been lied to by energy traders (T Boone), Investment Bankers who fund mega-mergers between commodity companies (GS), our government (Halliburton) and of course, CNBC (Convincing Neophytes to Buy Crude) who have engaged in a 7-year campaign to drive the price of the second most abundant liquid on earth up 600% since 1999. 

Now this bubble is bursting the same people who were running around with pins poking at housing are all just shocked and amazed that maybe something that was as recently as 2002, profitably delivered for $20 a barrel, just might not suddenly be worth $80 or $70 or $60 or, maybe not even $50 a barrel 5 years later.

Anyway, so that being said, we're already below my target for the week of $50.79 and we did take some more off the table today as the NYMEX boys whittled 45,000 more contracts off the February expiration and the urgency to sell may have been abated for the week.

The dollar went nowhere again as nothing Bernanke said was very encouraging (perhaps it was his comment that the US has $38 Trillion in unfunded long-term debt obligations – making us the GM of nations) but gold decided not to wait and fell back $5 to $628.


We continued to lighten up on positions today, with good timing as the markets turned choppy.  Our energy puts are making up for our tech calls but we are reaching our tolerance limit if the slide of the Nasdaq continues.

It was a very busy day and the many moves we made are logged under today's "Virtual Portfolio Moves" and the highlights were:

AMZN Feb $37.50 puts (12/29) came off the table at $2.40 (up 60%) as we are not leaving winners on the table in a choppy market.

I wasted $1.60 on the IBM $100s at the bell.  I took the bet as a craps roll and it worked out about as well as most craps rolls do!  It doesn't do any good to play the earnings when good earnings are being ignored!

We called the bottom on the IGW Feb $65s at .20 but the SOX gave us little reason to feel confident about this one.

Finally a jackpot on LVS!  1/2 of the Mar $95 puts (1/16) were taken off the table at $4 (up 57%) so we could lower the basis of the Mar $85 puts and let the rest ride in style.

Half of the OII Apr $40 puts (12/18) were taken off the table at $4.10 (up 273%) as this one has proven too bouncy even for a longer play! 

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  1. Forum – When I click on a post subject in the forum, it takes me to a reply page, it dose not show the original post at all

  2. Phil,

    Is it good to buy Feb 130 calls OIH.
    which month call I need to sell to cover so that my basis cost is not expensive..
    Currently Feb 130 call is @4.10

  3. Phil, what is your thoughts on RSH? I was thinking of getting some July 20 Puts.

  4. Any thoughts on why/how TRGL was able to withstand this drop in oil prices and appreciate over the past few months?

  5. Hi Phil and Members,

    Having a hard time following all of the option trades. . Still too new I guess. Do you recommend a good book or website to explore options further?

    Thanks, John

  6. Thought I would copy this over here to hopefully aid some persons new to the field:

    Be careful with tax guidance on the internet….this is not a solicitation for services nor to be considered the literal listing of all pertinent tax laws and regulations involving trading securities. As always consult your CPA or financial professional before you act on any tax/investment statements.……

    If you are day-trading you should consider filing an election by 4-15 for the year election is effective i.e. 4-15-07 for 2007. This states you are (more or less) a professional trader/broker/investor and allows you to report all the activity from your profession (trading) on Sch C (report of business income/loss by an individal). Any expenses incurred (Phil’s fee for example) can be deducted as a business expense as well. If you have a large enough loss that results in an NOL on the current 1040 you are filing you can carry that loss back 2 years and receive a refund for taxes paid. You can elect to forgo the carryback and simply carry the loss forward to offset future year tax liabilities (forgot how many years it can be carried forward but think at least 5 yrs(?)). The election also relieves you from having to calculate the wash sales adjustment. (a stock sold and repurchased in a 30 day period for a loss…results in a limitation of the loss until the repurchased stock is sold). You are also not subject to the 3000 LTC loss limitation.

    Now the negative, you must do a mark to market adjustment on 12-31 each year. This results in recognizing any unrealized gain or loss you might have. Example, you hold 100 shares of AAPL at a cost of 50 from a 10-15-07 purchase. On 12-31-07 AAPL is selling for 75. You report the ordinary gain of 25/shr on the 1997 tax return on schedule C. Your basis in the 100 shrs of AAPL is now 75/shr. That’s one reason for alot of end of year activity often labeled tax selling. You also have to file a form 3115 (change in method of accounting) which is a biatch. You cant take advantage of the lower LTCG tax rates as you as a pro only incur ordinary gains and losses. Yet another reason for end of year activity as pro traders are trying to offset their ordinary income that will be tax effected soon with some deductions (losses). If you keep good records of your gains and losses you shouldnt have to scramble at the end of the year.

    In general, if you have W-2 earnings I would not advise the election unless you are prepared to prove to the IRS your trader status, as they will pronounce it a hobby (even though it may be an expensive one!) which imposes loss limitations (up to the amount of the gross income typically – just like gambling losses).

    Just remember for you first time pro traders file by APRIL 16, 2007 (the 15th is on a Sunday) to be in effect for 2007 and must be filed by that date EVEN IF you extended your personal income tax return (1040).

    CPA’s….just gotta love’em lol

  7. Interesting with RIMM, this week while the stock has continued to go down, the OBV has steadily increased.. Pretty bullish sign.

  8. Why do I think the following will translate to a positive for the HB’s somehow….”Pulte Homes Inc. Thursday evening cut its view for the fourth-quarter, and now sees the per-share result from continuing operations ranging from a loss of 5 cents to income of 5 cents. Previously, the Bloomfield Hills, Mich.-based home builder had expected per-share income at the lower end of a range from 30 cents to 70 cents. Pulte said it now expects fourth-quarter impairments and land-related charges of $330 million to $350 million, or 83 cents to 88 cents per share. The company had previously expected $150 million in impairments and land-related charges.” AAPL beats estimates convincingly and stock get’s thrashed due to chrystal balls not being clear and PHM misses estimates by 90-95%. Want to bet the air ball thrown up by PHM is shrugged off and stock declines slightly for only a few hours because the future for HB’s is so bright theory is utilized?

  9. AAPL: Where was this guy when we needed to him:

    “Apple stock has some downward pressure in early trading today since the company also announced a forecast below analysts expectation for next quarter but let’s see… The iPod is the ultimate killer computer appliance, the company just announced and demonstrated a cell phone that makes the rest look line tin cans and string, and Mr Steve has a device that delivers everything you could ever want right to your television screen. It’s quaint to think Apple used to be just a little niche computer maker. Let’s just say these earnings numbers are more evidence that Apple is changing the game to their advantage. For now that is…”


  10. karmcon,

    LOL… Both Prof and I are waiting for those HBs to fall off a cliff. Noticed that PHM was down 3% AH, but you know how this earnings stuff can be!

  11. Phil, I bought july ibm 100 calls for 5.60 prior to earnings. Any ideas or strategies to reduce the cost basis. thanks.

  12. HB’s have been able to mask the downturn in units sold by raising prices to offset. Now that prices have flattened or declined the unabridged results will be more enlightening. Just looking at PHM EPS for fye 12-06 will be almost 50% less than fye 12-05! One time charges will not be able to explain those results. :mrgreen:

  13. AAPL/MOT/NOK/PALM/RIMM/et al –

    So LG is selling a rebranded version of the LG KE850 (you know the “twin” of the iPhone). It’s the LG Prada.

    See for some blurb-age or|NEWS%5EPRE|MENU_20328_PRE|MENU.jhtml for the press release.

    Details of the LG KE850 weren’t previously released; however, with details of the Prada phone now available we now know more about the LG KE850.

    1) It’s derived from the Synaptics Onyx technology
    2) It’s a triband 900/1800/1900 GSM/EDGE phone (remember that the iPhone is quadband (850/900/1800/1900))
    3) It’s got a 3″ screen (iPhone 161 pixel-per-inch 3.5″ screen)
    4) It’s only a 2 megapixel camera (same as the iPhone)
    5) It’s both an audio and video player. With support for WMA and RA which the iPhone might not have.
    6) It’s a tiny bit smaller than the iPhone in length and width (see the 3″ versus 3.5″ screen).
    7) It has 8 megabytes internal memory (yes, MEGAbytes) but an SD slot.
    8) It has viewers for most Office formats (which Apple will all but certainly have but admittedly hasn’t announced0
    9) No WiFi support listed

    And, oh yes, it’s launching at 600 euros (call it $775).

    Big advantage that it’s launching in late February and available in GSM Asian markets in late March. A Korean version is expected to launch in Q2.

    A Korean launch implies CDMA/W-CDMA/probably UMTS.

    I contend that this sequencing somewhat confirms the thesis that I put forth earlier about the iPhone being a product line with several variations coming to market. Although I don’t much like their coming to market in February.

    Finally, US availability is likely still a ways away since none has been announced and no apparent paperwork is on file with the FCC (which has a lovely online search capacity that is constantly searched by phone fans). Also you really need to launch quadband to have an international GSM/GPRS/EDGE phone that works in the US (the US uses 850 extensively outside core metropolitan areas).

    Adding quadband is a pretty simple matter of engineering…so long as the right chipset is available. Kind of odd they launched without it.

    Finally, assumedly the LG version will be cheaper than the Prada version. But it’s nice that they’re launching something that requires an additional 4/8 GB (aka $100/$200) to match up *and* they’re launching at $775 versus the iPhone’s $499/$599.


  14. Try for the LG link above since it got mangled.


  15. i know we get your political insights for free
    but my goodness--chavez believes in what he is doing

    phil--i am embarrassed

    so did hitler!!!

    and he was tons smarter

    oh well if you could just fix it so everything
    did not fall off the right side of the page

  16. John, to learn the basics of options trading, go here:

    This is a site run by the options industry council which offers an online options course, free, and easy to use. It’s pretty well put together and should be a good start.

    Good luck, and take your time. Rushing into a trade you don’t understand is a good way to get clobbered , so read and study first.

    THEN trade.

    Good fortune to you,


  17. Google’s promotion of Checkout taking a toll

    SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) — Google Inc.’s hard-charging promotion of its Checkout online-payment feature is hurting the company, analysts and Internet-industry watchers said Wednesday and Thursday
    But the promotions are likely nicking Google’s bottom line to some degree, Bear Stearns analyst Bob Peck said Thursday. Peck doesn’t venture to guess what Google’s spending to showcase the feature, but describes the Checkout efforts as having a “negative impact” on its fourth-quarter financials, which the company reports Jan. 31.


  18. rein, I think all these “imitators” will actually help Apple. Nobody’s product will be as cool, that’s pretty much a guarantee, but they validate the form factor and design idea.

  19. AAPL – Okay, this is just cheating…

    The Dow Jones Newswires shows me the headline “Barclays Global Investors Cuts Apple Stake To 3.74%”
    “Barclays Global Investors reported Thursday that it has cut its stake in Apple Inc. (AAPL) to 3.74%, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.”

    But, according to that information had been disclosed sometime prior to September 30!

    Oh well, I guess it makes for better headlines…but the use of present tense in that reporting strikes me as disingenuous at best and manipulative at worse.


  20. Cris, now let’s give LG some credit; they were working on their product for quite awhile (and received industry awards for it back in December).

    The LG Chocolate was arguably among the most innovative designs last year, certainly at least among the more popular. The LG KE850 would have met nothing but raves but for the iPhone’s timing. It’s just unfortunate for LG that their come-to-market window got crushed by the iPhone news.

    But I mentioned the Prada news because of the market confirmation/validation factor. And I hope they sell a million ’cause if they can get $775, surely AAPL can get $499. ;-)

    And LG and Samsung and Sony Ericsson are also seemingly demonstrating that it’s possible to target the higher end of the market and let Motorola and Nokia fight it out for the $20 phones.


  21. More bad news for big oils?

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The new Democratic-led House of Representatives passed legislation on Thursday aimed at “Big Oil” that would roll back some industry tax breaks and force energy companies to pay more drilling royalties, valued at $14 billion over 10 years.

  22. Forum – I’ll have Jared check, I never use it myself…


    OIH – answered in prev post.


    RSH – one of the few stocks that went up yesterday! Something is going on there, I wouldn’t bet against them right now.


    TRGL – small E&P companies with high growth and low production costs (ie. not deepwater, not shale) can still operate very profitably at $40 a barrel. The ones that can drill the most are the ones that will get the most funding as they can’t rely on high prices so expanding production output will be rewarded by investors, even as prices decline.


    Learning – I’m working on getting an educational component on this site – hopefully soon. I’m sure the other members would have good suggestions as it’s been a long time since I’ve looked at educational sites.

    More than anything else though, I recommend learning by doing if you can afford it as a “practice” account is no subsitute for the real thing. Even trading a single contract will give you a real (and often hard) lesson on what really happens to your money on an options trade.

    Money management is more important than options strategy – see the strategy section above and, also, as a new member, I would suggest you go back a few weeks and sequentially read through the comments as you’ll see what real traders go through with real posiitons – and we often have some pretty intense strategy discussions!


    PHM – sadly Karm you are right but that is solidifying my LEAP theory for the week – as I said in yesterday’s comments, there are many, many, deep in-the-money calls on Dow and S&P stocks and very deep in the money puts on HBs so it makes sense for Fundies knock them down as far as possible into this particular expiration.

    That would explain why up is down and down is up this week. We won’t know until next week if I’m right but it’s the simplest explanation for this completely irrational response to some of these earnings.


    IBM – Ouch! I feel your pain – although mine is total and you’re will only be about 25%! At a point like this you need to think about what will make you happy. You have another 2 earnings reports to go and they are firing on all cylinders so, as long as they hold the 5% rule, you may want to just gut it out waiting for a bounce.

    Just like I say “always sell into the initial excitement” you should never sell into the initial panic. There is one big exception to that – if you think it’s bad enough that you need to get out – you often get a better price right at the open as you’ll find many people are in denial and will pay for the expected bounce.

    So, if you think you would be glad to walk away from this now with a 15% loss, rather than wait a week or a month (or never) for this to turn around – then put a sale in at the open for $4.75, sometimes you get it (and sometimes you regret it when you do – but so far, not with Apple!).


    HB – as I said with LEN, I don’t see how a $300M write off on $9Bn worth of land can be construed as a one-time write-off. Perhaps it’s the first of many but figuring out what these guys own and don’t own is almost impossible as they have land, options on land, options on other people’s options on land, land that is in process, land in development, land that is part of the home inventory….


    LG phone. Doesn’t hurt Apple (but may be percieved to), just proves everyone thinks there’s a market for $1,000 phones.


    Chavez – that’s not fan mail from me, I was simply stating that in the context of his socialist agenda, I don’t think it’s a scam to enrich himself – as it is for many dictators. And yes, Hitler didn’t try to enrich himself either (and again, I mean to excess, although he allowed rampant corruption underneath him) – that’s why it was so hard to appease him, Europeans weren’t sure how to deal with someone who didn’t want money.


    AAPL/Barclays: Apple opened the year at $75 and the Jan ’07 $75 calls were about $10 so $85 is just about the right price to make them expire even. Of course most apple shareholders would have sold $80 or $85 calls to pick up an extra 10%. If you look at the Jan open interest list you’ll see what a stunning amount of in-the-money options there are – 350,000 between $75 and $95 and a whopping 200,000+ below $75! So thats 55,000,000 shareholder worth $4.7Bn that have a vested interest in Apple going as low as possible into this expiration.

    If I sold you an Apple $75 leap last year for $22 and I have a fund that needs to stay in Apple – if I get called away at $96 I have to rebuy at $96 or buy you out for $21 to keep my shares (which I may need to do for tax reasons). Far better for me to push the price down if I can (and believe me they can) so I can buy you back for less. Also, since I KNOW Apple is worth $110, then it’s worth me selling off 20% of my holdings to get the price down to $85, maybe $80 so I can buy back 30% (incresing my net position 10%) at the lower price and again reaping a nice return for the year on Apple.

    Not that that would ever happen as fund managers are the most ethical people on the planet and would never attempt to manipulate a stock price for their own gain….


    MOT – looks like the missed lowered expectations:sales were up 17% but net down 48% – that’s a nasty headline!


    $14Bn over 10 years should be a relief! What about the back taxes and royalties?

  23. The Wall Street Journal reports investors are trying to figure out which companies will be hurt most if oil stays down amid a relatively warm winter and ample global supply. “Some oil shares have held up better than expected,” says Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at Harris Private Bank. “But profit expectations are getting slashed.” He says Hess (HES) is vulnerable because it historically has been sensitive to crude-oil prices but lately its shares have held up surprisingly well. Among larger oil companies, ConocoPhillips (COP) could be hurt if oil prices keep tumbling, some investors say. Others say that oil-service companies, like Tidewater (TDW) could be risky. In previous oil downturns, drilling-co stocks have been hit because they operate with a high degree of operating leverage, or their earnings are most sensitive to moves in oil prices. Larger drilling companies include Grey Wolf (GW), Rowan Cos. (RDC) and Nabors Industries (NBR).


  24. iPhone price includes a (big?) carrier subsidy – the LG quoted price DOES NOT – it will be half that if you sign up to a 2 year contract.

  25. Huge news for Boeing:

    Northrop Grumman/Airbus to drop thier bid for the air refueling tanker:

    UPS cancelling order for 10 A380 Superjumbos -

    PARIS ( Reuters) – Package delivery company United Parcel Service Inc. is expected to cancel an order for 10 freighter versions of the Airbus A380 superjumbo plane next week, French newspaper Les Echos said on Friday without citing sources.

    For its part Airbus, owned by aerospace group EADS, could announce it will first focus on solving its problems with the passenger version of the A380 and await better times for it to produce a cargo version, Les Echos said.

    But Airbus said it had no information on the reported plans ”I have no information along that line,” a spokeswoman said.

    Wiring installation problems have delayed deliveries of the double-decker plane by an average of two years, with the first delivery now due in late 2007 to Singapore Airlines, and led EADS to issue its third profit warning in less than a year on Wednesday.

    A cancellation by UPS would follow a similar decision by its main rival FedEx Corp. which in November became the first company to cancel an A380 order, citing delivery delays.

    UPS already said last year it was in no rush to decide on whether it would go ahead with the order as it had enough other planes scheduled for delivery over the next two years to cover its immediate needs.

    Airbus shares closed at 24.07 euros on Thursday.

    Malaysia on Thursday lifted the threat of canceling an order worth $1.8 billion at list prices for A380 superjumbos by national carrier Malaysia Airline System. The world’s largest jetliner has 555 seats.

  26. Question for the tech savvy;

    I downloaded IE 7 on my desktop and now it want load a web page, says no connection or bad address. It shows a connection in the task bar and the router is sending a signal to my laptop. Any thoughts?

  27. Close IE7, then open again, maybe.

  28. phil do you think goog will follow in ibm and aapl course

  29. Alf T, I had rebooted several times to no avail, tried once more and it worked? Thanks.

  30. AAPL close today? $87.5 or 85 bucks, or 90?

  31. Digger, Buy a Mac Bro.

    We need the help to get us up to that 1.7B number for next qtr. LOL


  32. O.K. here’s one for the crew… Is MOT gonna get pounded when they report? or does the fact that most all of the Jan open interest is out of the money make that unnecessary. Seems like if this is a REAL tech meltdown they’ll get sold either way. I’m thinking they won’t


  33. BA – the only reason Airbus isn’t getting more cancellations is because Boeing is capped out on production. If one supplier doesn’t seem to be able to deliver your plane as promised in 2009, it doesn’t do you any good to jump to another supplier who is booked up through 2011 unless you know for sure that Airbus will totally blow the delivery.

    What’s happening now is the guys who have clout to promise BA MANY years worth of orders are getting squeezed in while anyone who wants small quantities of cheap planes is sitting around with Airbus (plus some guys who are too big for Boeing to accomodate, who are in major trouble for choosing the wrong supplier).


    GOOG – see my general mornng comments – we have to wait until next week to see what’s really going on.


    APPL – if my manipulation theory holds up – $84.95 or lower

  34. digger, I see that you’re operational on IE7 (I use it, too – same initial problem)… I had to temporarily shut off firewall for a ten minutes while the thing did something nefarious in the background. No issues since, other than getting used to it. LOL.

    But this kind of thing seems to be quite common for me now. Just FYI.

  35. Phil,

    As a quick daytrade, would be it worth buying some January 90 Puts this morning? My guess is they will squeeze the shorts to 90 bucks, and then reverse it lower. . Thought about pulling the trigger if it hits 90, before reversing.. Still new at this, so I might be way out in right field. .

  36. Shoot, I was 50 cents shy. . .$89.47 on AAPL, it could be a headfake however and head higher yet