Archive for 2007

Monthly Mop-Up – March Madness Edition

What a wild month that was!

You have to be flexible to stay on top of this market and last Thursday I quoted James Baldwin, who warned us not to cling to our hates and "to deal with the pain.This led to a timely reversal in attitude and some very good cover taking as we traded our way out of what was (the week of the 23rd) our worst week of the year.

Would you believe the Dow finished the month UP 90 points?  It sure doesn't feel that way but part of that is because we had an annoying oil and commodity led rally starting on the 19th, just as we decided to adopt a more bearish outlook.

Still we finished the month with a nice recovery after having STP drop 10% as our oil and index puts went the wrong way on the sudden "recovery."  With a month to go there was no need to panic out of our April puts last week and we took the opportunity to deploy some cash on some very well covered calls (28 out of 54 closed positions) with 17 of the 24 puts being our "mattress plays" it means that we played both sides of the fence quite well in this week's action.

Our 54 closed positions had an average return of 42% this week but the gain on cash was 56%.  This was huge because we began the week with $405K in short-term positions, cashed out $550K with a $199K gain and left $338K on the table.  This accomplished our whole game plan of moving to mainly cash (although we didn't think we'd do it by making more!) and cutting back on our close positions.

Unlike the earlier part of the month we did not sell a lot of positions as we were well enough hedged that we didn't need to make too many new spreads.  Other than our COP covers plays, there were no particularly overweighted positions – our TSO $95 puts got heavy as we doubled and doubled and doubled but we were amply rewarded for our troubles as our biggest loser turned into our biggest gainer with a 35% return on what turned out to be a heavy position.  Now we are sitting on a double on our TSO $100 puts on what is currently my favorite
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Friday Virtual Portfolio Moves

Posted March 30, 2007 at 9:54 am | Permalink (Edit)
  • LEND – Stopped out at $9.75
  • MT May$55s for $1.55

    • selling the $52.50s for $2 or better by but definately by EOD

Just to save time, setting 20% of profit or 20% of total stops on all Apr/May calls right here – I want to get out of a bunch of stuff and I will see where I end up later to see which way I need to cover.

  • Taking the TSO $100 puts for $2.75
Posted March 30, 2007 at 10:13 am | Permalink (Edit)
  • RIMM $130 puts at $2.78
Posted March 30, 2007 at 10:17 am | Permalink (Edit)
  • VLO $65 puts (now $1.35) when VLO gets close to $66
Posted March 30, 2007 at 10:21 am | Permalink (Edit)

Time to start easing into the mattress plays. We lost Google, Apple about to go red, GS following with the BKX…

GE negative, MSFT barely up, SHLD turned down, SNDK red – SOX to follow…

  • DIA Apr $124 puts (DAWPT) at $1.35, .15 trailing stop
  • SPY Apr $142 puts (SFBPL) at $1.40, .15 trailing stop
  • QQQQ Apr $43 puts (QQQPS) at $1.45, .15 trailing stop
  • IWM Apr $80 puts (IOWPB) $1.45, 15 trailing stop
Posted March 30, 2007 at 11:20 am | Permalink (Edit)
  • TSO – second round of $100 puts at $2.05
    •  (this is 2/10 = 40 in this one for me)
  • COP – $70s for .80 for upside protection

Posted March 30, 2007 at 11:34 am | Permalink (Edit)

Level 2 mattress plays on – sadly!

  • DIA Apr $123 puts (DAWPS) at $1.25 .15 TStop 
  • IWM Apr $79 puts (IOWPA) $1.25 stop at $1.50 (.10 trail)
  • SPY Apr $141 puts (SFBPK) at $1.40 out around $1.75 (same as yesterday (and the day before), these had the best leverage) 

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TGIF – EOQ Edition

Bye bye Q1 – we will not miss you!

At least I hope we don’t, it would be a shame if we have to look back on this Q as "the good old days" but I am now haunted by the last picture on yesterday’s post.

It’s all about the crops report today and anytime I have an excuse to post my all-time favorite video link I sure will.  This time it’s not FCOJ that’s got everybody’s attention but CORN, which we talked about on Tuesday, when George Monbiot pointed out: ""biofuels would set up a competition for food between cars and people. The people would necessarily lose: those who can afford to drive are, by definition, richer than those who are in danger of starvation."

We already know that North Koreans are starving and you may think it can never happen here but, interestingly, under the current administration, our legally mandated 3-year supply of "reserved foodstuffs" has dropped to just 15.7 pounds per person, down from an already paltry 77 pounds in 2003 when the government did what it always does when we reach economic crisis levels – they stop measuring!  So we have no idea how close to starvation we are in this country but I know I’ll be visiting Costco this weekend and picking up some soup…

Spending and income were up and inflation was down a bit, so everything is coming up roses this morning (or, more accurately, coming up corn).  Corn planting was higher than expected at the expense of soybeans but, on the whole, this should give a boost to the markets.  I’m going to be taking the opportunity to follow one of my main rules of investing – "When in doubt, sell half" to lighten up on calls so expect a lot of position paring as I am still gravely in doubt.  If I’m wrong, so what?  We’ll have cash to buy things next week.

We’re going to also be having a little biotech party today as our CEGE Jan $5 leaps (.45) should get a boost.  This was a peripheral play for those of us who couldn’t get in on DNDN where I called for this complicated spread:…
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Not So Thrilling Thursday Wrap-Up – Oil Shock!

Dow up 48 points!  Woo hoo, party time, excellent…

Dr. Brett would probably know the proper term for this but it seems to me we are suffering from EXTREMELY low expectations, like a torture victim who falls in love with their captors because they don't beat them quite so hard on Thursdays.

As you can see from the video, like all things on this planet, it all comes back to Kevin BaconMuch like every other actor in the universe is tied to Kevin Bacon, every stock in our little universe is tied to oil and once again our captors at the NYMEX put the screws to us by driving oil up $1.95 in yesterday's trading.

Oh, I should specify that the May contract went up $1.95 as 245M barrels changed hands leaving 361Mb scheduled for May delivery, 7Mb LESS than Tuesday, when oil was $4 cheaper.  Wow, that demand is just soaring isn't it?  As usual all this ridiculous pumping is being done for your viewing pleasure as somehow the July traders only have $1.30 worth of worry that Iran is going to start WWIII and Oct traders are only willing to pony up .97 and by next December there is just .34 being added to the price of oil so I guess the world will be full of peace and happiness by then.

Patty Hearst helped the SLA rob a bank two months after her kidnappingFor the second day in a row, contracts longer than 2009 are heading down in price – apparently we will have taken over Iran by then (although that plan isn't running quite so smoothly in Iraq is it?).  But, just like Patty Hearst, we are willing to do join the party and drink the Kool Aid as the financial media goes on an all-out campaign to tell us that all is well while oil prices climb back to record highs.

Our own GAO jumped on the fear-monger bandwagon yesterday by releasing what some might call an "ill-timed" report (but T. Boone would probably call "perfectly timed") that postulates that IF we were to enter a period of peak oil (the whole concept is subject to debate) THEN the US is poorly prepared

Well, DUH!  Al Gore's been telling us to start getting prepared since we elected him VP in 1992 and then when we elected him President (by popular vote, which…
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Thursday Virtual Portfolio Moves

Posted March 29, 2007 at 9:58 am | Permalink (Edit)
  • UNH - Let’s take out the $55 caller for .60
  • $10KP - Lets buy 10 UNH $55s for .60
Posted March 29, 2007 at 10:18 am | Permalink (Edit)
  • TSO $95 puts – in at $1.50, stop at $1.25

Don’t forget it’s prom day for DNDN. You can buy the stock for $5.22, sell the $5 calls for $1.35 and the $5 puts for $1.55 for a potential gain of $2.68. I think they’ll get the approval and, even if they don’t, the stock is not likely to go to 0 right away but the calls will so you can buy them out and the $5 puts on the news maybe even and take a $2 hit on the stock – it’s not a worst case but it’s the most likely worst case.

Posted March 29, 2007 at 10:37 am | Permalink (Edit)
  • CHK $30.00 puts CHK-PF for .25 as a mo play
    • just a craps roll.
Posted March 29, 2007 at 10:57 am | Permalink (Edit)

Critical failure on SOX, reinitiating mattress plays from yesterday! Same stops!

  • DIA Apr $123 puts (DIAPS) at $1.25 stop at at $1.60 
  • QQQQ Apr $44 puts (QQQPR) DD at .90, .10 trailing stop.
  • IWM Apr $79 puts (IOWPA) $1.30 stop at $1.55 (.10 trail)
  • SPY Apr $141 puts (SFBPK) at $1.25 out at $1.75 (same as yeserday, these had the best leverage) 
Posted March 29, 2007 at 11:20 am | Permalink (Edit)
  • BA – selling the $90s for $2
Posted March 29, 2007 at 11:29 am | Permalink (Edit)
  • CEGE Jan $5s are .45
Posted March 29, 2007 at 11:46 am | Permalink (Edit)
  • $10KP- WCI Jun $22.50 puts need to have $2.25 stop.
Posted March 29, 2007 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

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Thursday Morning

Release the T. Boone!

That's right, whenever they need a Super-Mega Oil Pump they roll out the big guns and no one shoots their mouth off better than that impartial predictor of peak oil – T. Boone PickensMr. T has 59,800 Google pages devoted to his bi-monthly statements that oil will go to $100 – yet EVERY SINGLE TIME he says it, CNBC (Criminal Narrators Boosting Crude) treats it like it's a story!

Who better to give viewers a "fair and balanced" perspective on energy investing than a man who made $1.6Bn last year on oil and gas plays?  Logic would dictate that he probably didn't make that much money by tying up just a few million dollars in the energy sector so T. Boone is probably the world's single largest Roach in the Energy Motel yet the wheel him out on CNBC (Criminal Narrators Boosting Crude) whenever they have problems making a technical, like yesterday's failure to break away from $64.

This is a man who, last April, said $5 a gallon gas would be a good thing for America.  What a patriot!  A patriot, who, by the way gave $5M in "soft money" to launch "Swift Boat Verterans for Truth" in the last election.  Could it be a coincidence that he's back just when SU, his largest single holding failed to break over $77 after a DB upgrade?  Yesterday SU gapped over the descending 200 dma at $75.32 and holding that level is critical to establishing a better chart pattern so keep that in mind as they run his clip 20 or 30 times today.  SU MUST have oil over $55 to be competitive with other energy producers, $40 oil would cost that company half it's market cap at least.

As Options Sage pointed out in comments this morning, what can we really expect from "Financial News" when our regular news is such a joke?

Don't despair though, the government is cracking down.  TXU "may" be fined $210M for manipulating Texas's electricity market in 2005.  Additionally the company is charged with overcharging customers by 4%, adding $80M to their $2.4Bn in profits for 2006.  "The $210 million payment recommendation was based on Potomac's analysis, which found that TXU — the biggest utility in the
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Wednesday Wrap-Up

This morning I said: "Today we will be happy to avoid a triple digit Dow drop."

Well aren't we lucky to finish down just 96.93!

It's funny, I don't feel happy though…  Perhaps I should have aimed higher or perhaps I was right and we WILL be happy.  The mood was very sullen in our member chat today – no one wanted to talk about stocks so we ended up solving the Iran hostage crisis (they'll be home by Easter).  Ben Bernanke had no Easter cheer for Congress as he said "risks to the economy have grown, especially from business investment and housing."

In a very Greenspan-like mastery of Fed doublespeak, Bernanke was able to say that the Fed's outlook hasn't changed but the risk of those outlooks being wrong have drastically changed.  In other words, we're not changing our official stance but the forecast isn't worth the dollars its written on!  "We are looking for a bit more flexibility given the uncertainties that we are facing and the risks that are occurring on both sides of our outlook," Bernanke testified.

Ben also gave little hope for the easing everyone was counting on in last week's "rally" as he said "Our policy is still oriented toward control of inflation which we consider at this time to be the greater risk…  Recent inflation readings have been elevated and the scarcity of skilled workers and accelerating labor costs pose a risk to inflation." 

What I really objected to was this statement: "Although the turmoil in the subprime mortgage market has created severe financial problems for many individuals and families, the implications of these developments for the housing market as a whole are less clear."  Allow me to clear that up for you Ben:

  • 10% of all mortgages are sub-prime, affecting about 2M homes.
  • Home prices are going down, not up, putting these mortgages "under water."
  • 20% of these mortgages are moving to default, and that's with rates under 7%.

    • That's 400,000 homes that will be empty in about a year.
  • The 80% that haven't defaulted aren't all doing great, just not bankrupt yet

    • If just 1/4 of those people are forced to sell, that's another 400,000 homes on the market this

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Wednesday Virtual Portfolio Moves

Posted March 28, 2007 at 9:52 am | Permalink (Edit)

I’m selling the VLO $65 puts for $1.44 against my $55 puts as a mo play into inventory but I’m only looking to make .20-.30 to offset my loss on the $55s

Posted March 28, 2007 at 10:15 am | Permalink (Edit)

Oops there goes my poor VLO putter… Taking out 1/2 at $1.20

Posted March 28, 2007 at 10:33 am | Permalink (Edit)

Mo plays

  • TSO $95 puts for $1.90
  • XOM $75 puts are a buck

Oops, drawdown is VERY disappointing!!! Totally out of oil calls.

Posted March 28, 2007 at 11:10 am | Permalink (Edit)
  • MSFT $27.50s as mo here .70, .55 stop (.15 tstop).
Posted March 28, 2007 at 12:08 pm | Permalink (Edit)
$10KP – LEND – offering $3 to take out my $7.50 caller again
Posted March 28, 2007 at 12:24 pm | Permalink (Edit)
  • GOOG June $490s for $12.85
    •  sell $470s at no less than $11.25 ($2 trail)
  • AAPL – selling the May $100 puts for $7.80
    •  will buy the May $95 puts for $5 if it goes the wrong way but will wait as long as possible.
Posted March 28, 2007 at 12:32 pm | Permalink (Edit)
  • GM – done with $32.50 puts at $1.55
Posted March 28, 2007 at 12:59 pm | Permalink (Edit)
  • XTO $55 puts for $1.30, stop at $1.15.
  • MRO $100 puts for $1.50, stop at $1.25
Posted March 28, 2007 at 1:44 pm | Permalink (Edit)
  • TRMP  $20s at .45
Posted March 28, 2007 at 2:05 pm | Permalink (Edit)

S Jan $20s were picked up last week for $1.80, I’m taking another round at $1.55, I think this was a bottom.

Posted March 28, 2007 at 2:23 pm | Permalink (Edit)

VLO $65 puts all the way back to $1.90, that’s good enough for me, setting $1.85 stop on half (.10 T) and $1.75 stop on the rest (.25T) – always nice to make money both ways on the same day!



Wacky Wednesday Morning

Now we get to see what the markets are really made of as we should pretty much test all our levels today.

I think even if Bernanke wants to blow his credibility and tell Congress everything is fine today, the sting of last night's oil shock and the Beazer investigation will be very hard to shake off.  Today we will be happy to avoid a triple digit Dow drop

Andrew Coffey from MN1 just turned me on to an excellent show called Wall Street Warriors, which you can watch online.  It's a great behind the scenes look at the people behind the trades.  I especially like the guy who's proud of the fund he manages that bases investment decisions on the migratory patterns of elephants…

Asian markets are migrating South with the Nikkei and the Hang Seng in triple digit retreat.  North Korea has millions of people starving during a food shortage due to a combination of a poor harvest and the fact that other countries have pulled back the bulk (75%) of their aid as our man Kim has done everything he could to make people hate his country.  "We are losing the fight against hunger in North Korea", WFP Director Banbury told a news conference. "If donors do not respond to the request, millions of people are going to go hungry."

The rest of Asia is doing quite well as the Asian Development Bank raised it's overall growth forecast .5% to 7.6% and cut expectations for inflation but that is based on an oil price target of $57, questionable today.  "Markets have moved to reprice risks, but calm could yet give way to less settled conditions," ADB President Haruhiko Kuroda said in the publication. "If asset prices get badly punctured and reversals occur, the chill would be widely felt."  That has got to be the worst positive spin I've ever heard…  "With these high growth rates, we're seeing a surge in housing and equity prices," ADB's chief economist, Ifzal Ali, said. "We're seeing fast credit expansion, rising prices of goods, particularly food items."  OK, now I think they're just messing with us – this sounds like an economic report from September 1929!

Europe is flat and dull this morning ahead of the US open but it won't take…
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Tuesday Tear-Down

I’m not sure how much it matters what happened today as so much is happening after hours.

Iran didn’t fire a missile at an American ship.  This rumor seems to have started on the NYMEX, either before or after oil futures shot up to $68 in after hours trading.  You can tell a market rumor because there is no mention of it anywhere in Google, other than the denial I linked to.  Hopefully this is a sign of the desperate height of manipulation and not the beginning of another round of fear mongering that will take us through hurricane season with $100 oil.

Something that is true, and all over Google, is the FBI investigation of Beazer Homes.  A spokesman for the FBI’s Charlotte field office, said the inquiry involves "fraud in general" and more specifically is related to corporate, mortgage and investment issues.  My older readers will remember BZH as my most hated stock of late 2005 when the darn thing would not go down, prompting me to say on 1/20/06: "BZH is my personal Moby Dick as it refuses to die."  As is often the case, we were just a little ahead of ourselves on that one!

Image and video hosting by TinyPicThe most interesting thing I read today was George Monbiot’s take on BiofuelsThis administration is pushing biofuels over conservation, looking to replace 24% of our fuel consumption by 2017 when raising the mileage requirements of passenger cars to 25 mpg would accomplish the same thing in just 18 months.  The problem with that plan?  No one makes any money from conservation.  Monbiot points out that "biofuels would set up a competition for food between cars and people. The people would necessarily lose: those who can afford to drive are, by definition, richer than those who are in danger of starvation."

Gosh it’s always something isn’t it?

Something is bothering consumers as confidence levels dropped to 107.2, down from 111.2 in February and slightly below the 108 that was expected and consumer stocks led the markets lower along with transports which, after tonight, may have good reason to lead the markets lower.  As I said just yesterday, the energy markets are now prospering at the expense of the entire economy as they now require a flow of capital that cannot be satisfied outside of crisis spending.  Money that flows into energy is being
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Phil's Favorites

Overpriced tech IPOs sell grand visions but aren't worth their valuations


Overpriced tech IPOs sell grand visions but aren't worth their valuations

rblfmr /

Courtesy of John Colley, Warwick Business School, University of Warwick

The year of the tech IPO is 2019. Uber went public on May 10 with a US$82.4 billion valuation. Fellow ride-sharing app Lyft floated in March with a U$24 billion valuation and Pinterest had a US$10 billion IPO in April...

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Zero Hedge

Futures Slides As Trade Tensions Escalate

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

S&P futures were lower on Wednesday as investors sought safety in bonds, the Japanese yen and Swiss franc in muted trade amid renewed worries over the U.S.-China spat after reports Washington is considering cutting off the flow of American technology to as many as five Chinese companies including Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology, the world's largest supplier of video surveillance products, expanding the US crackdown on China beyond Huawei to include world leaders in video surveillance. The dollar and 10Y yield were unchanged ahead of today's FOMC Minutes.


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Kimble Charting Solutions

Emerging Markets About To Submerge If 3-Year Support Breaks?

Courtesy of Chris Kimble.

Are Emerging Markets about to “Submerge” and head a good deal lower? What they do at (3) will go a long way in answering this question!

Emerging Markets ETF (EEM) has been lagging the broad market for the past 15-months. They hit their 50% retracement level of the last year’s highs and lows and falling resistance at (2) recently. The weakness of last has EEM trading below its 200-MA line.

EEM has spent the majority of the past 3-years inside of rising channel (1), which reflects that this trend remains up. The weakness of late has it testing the bo...

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Insider Scoop

Amgen To Buy Danish Collaborator Nuevolution For $167M

Courtesy of Benzinga.

Amgen, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMGN) took a logical step forward in buying a preclinical biotech it has been collaborating with since 2016. 

What Happened

Amgen announced Wednesday an agreement to buy Copenhagen-based Nuevolution for $167 million.

Th... more from Insider

Chart School

Weekly Market Recap May 18, 2019

Courtesy of Blain.

China – U.S. trade talk continued to dominate the week.   A heavy selloff Monday was followed by 3 up days, with Friday moderately down.

On Monday, Chinese officials announced retaliatory tariffs against the U.S., hitting $60 billion in annual exports to China with new or expanded duties that could reach 25%.

Then on Wednesday:

The Trump administration plans to delay a decision on instituting new tariffs on car and auto part imports for up to six months, according to media reports.


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Digital Currencies

Cryptocurrencies are finally going mainstream - the battle is on to bring them under global control


Cryptocurrencies are finally going mainstream – the battle is on to bring them under global control

The high seas are getting lower. dianemeise

Courtesy of Iwa Salami, University of East London

The 21st-century revolutionaries who have dominated cryptocurrencies are having to move over. Mainstream financial institutions are adopting these assets and the blockchain technology that enables them, in what ...

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DNA as you've never seen it before, thanks to a new nanotechnology imaging method

Reminder: We are available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.


DNA as you've never seen it before, thanks to a new nanotechnology imaging method

A map of DNA with the double helix colored blue, the landmarks in green, and the start points for copying the molecule in red. David Gilbert/Kyle Klein, CC BY-ND

Courtesy of David M. Gilbert, Florida State University


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More Examples Of "Typical Tesla "wise-guy scamminess"

By Jacob Wolinsky. Originally published at ValueWalk.

Stanphyl Capital’s letter to investors for the month of March 2019.

rawpixel / Pixabay

Friends and Fellow Investors:

For March 2019 the fund was up approximately 5.5% net of all fees and expenses. By way of comparison, the S&P 500 was up approximately 1.9% while the Russell 2000 was down approximately 2.1%. Year-to-date 2019 the fund is up approximately 12.8% while the S&P 500 is up approximately 13.6% and the ...

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Members' Corner

Despacito - How to Make Money the Old-Fashioned Way - SLOWLY!

Are you ready to retire?  

For most people, the purpose of investing is to build up enough wealth to allow you to retire.  In general, that's usually enough money to reliably generate a year's worth of your average income, each year into your retirement so that that, plus you Social Security, should be enough to pay your bills without having to draw down on your principle.

Unfortunately, as the last decade has shown us, we can't count on bonds to pay us more than 3% and the average return from the stock market over the past 20 years has been erratic - to say the least - with 4 negative years (2000, 2001, 2002 and 2008) and 14 positives, though mostly in the 10% range on the positives.  A string of losses like we had from 2000-02 could easily wipe out a decades worth of gains.

Still, the stock market has been better over the last 10 (7%) an...

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Mapping The Market

It's Not Capitalism, it's Crony Capitalism

A good start from :

It's Not Capitalism, it's Crony Capitalism


The threat to America is this: we have abandoned our core philosophy. Our first principle of this nation as a meritocracy, a free-market economy, where competition drives economic decision-making. In its place, we have allowed a malignancy to fester, a virulent pus-filled bastardized form of economics so corrosive in nature, so dangerously pestilent, that it presents an extinction-level threat to America – both the actual nation and the “idea” of America.

This all-encompassing mutant corruption saps men’s souls, crushes opportunities, and destroys economic mobility. Its a Smash & Grab system of ill-gotten re...

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Swing trading portfolio - week of September 11th, 2017

Reminder: OpTrader is available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.


This post is for all our live virtual trade ideas and daily comments. Please click on "comments" below to follow our live discussion. All of our current  trades are listed in the spreadsheet below, with entry price (1/2 in and All in), and exit prices (1/3 out, 2/3 out, and All out).

We also indicate our stop, which is most of the time the "5 day moving average". All trades, unless indicated, are front-month ATM options. 

Please feel free to participate in the discussion and ask any questions you might have about this virtual portfolio, by clicking on the "comments" link right below.

To learn more about the swing trading virtual portfolio (strategy, performance, FAQ, etc.), please click here ...

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Free eBook - "My Top Strategies for 2017"



Here's a free ebook for you to check out! 

Phil has a chapter in a newly-released eBook that we think you’ll enjoy.

In My Top Strategies for 2017, Phil's chapter is Secret Santa’s Inflation Hedges for 2017.

This chapter isn’t about risk or leverage. Phil present a few smart, practical ideas you can use as a hedge against inflation as well as hedging strategies designed to assist you in staying ahead of the markets.

Some other great content in this free eBook includes:


·       How 2017 Will Affect Oil, the US Dollar and the European Union


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About Phil:

Philip R. Davis is a founder Phil's Stock World, a stock and options trading site that teaches the art of options trading to newcomers and devises advanced strategies for expert traders...

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About Ilene:

Ilene is editor and affiliate program coordinator for PSW. She manages the site market shadows, archives, more. Contact Ilene to learn about our affiliate and content sharing programs.

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