Archive for 2008

Weekly Wrap-Up

It's my birthday weekend so I'm going to keep this short and sweet:

I was too bullish this week, I underestimated the resiliency of oil and the lingering panic that is gripping the markets, especially in the financial sector.  As a fundamental analyst, one of my weaknesses is getting ahead of the curve so I tend to see bottoms and tops early, which is salvagable with our stop, drop and roll strategy on longer options but not at all helpful on our short-term bullish positions so next week is either going to be great for us or a disappointment we have to roll into May to salvage what we can.

We made great progress from last week in our flexible virtual portfolios:  The Short-Term Virtual Portfolio gained 9%, the Long-Term is up 8% as another round of our callers bit the dust, our Day Trading Virtual Portfolio was a home run with a 34% gain on the week, benefitting from the risks we took on AAPL and GOOG, which also rocketed the Complex Spreads Virtual Portfolio up 24%.  Other than Google and Apple, what these virtual portfolios all had in common was the flexibility to flip negative, something we lacked in our smaller virtual portfolios.

Our Stocks Virtual Portfolio dropped 2% but the $10,000 Virtual Portfolio fell back to $10,543, down 6% for the week and the $25,000 Virtual Portfolio fell back to $25,227, a nasty 18% drop on the week as we put more cash to work while getting murdered on our positions in BA, CROX, MDT and NDAQ, all of which I still have hope for.  We still have $6,000 in cash but we will need that to adjust ourselves if the sell-off continues next week.

Last week we were optimistic DESPITE the fact that I used this picture of the Titanic to summarize our position.  I've given up on this administration doing the right thing but my optimism stems from the fact that the balance of power has shifted to the G7, who will now be able to force Bush to do something about the dollar and take some action to actually fix the housing crisis that doesn't involve just throwing more money at rich people.

I had not counted on how stubborn the White House could be as the dollar dropped 2% on another demonstration…
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Trading The Trends

How many times have you traded stocks that you felt were oversold, but you just weren’t convinced the downtrend was over?  How many times have you seen a stock or an index drop further before hitting a bottom and racing back up again?  And how many times have you profited from such moves?

In this article, one of the many strategies that takes advantage of such expectations is discussed – the non-standard put calendar.

Before introducing the non-standard put calendar, let’s first review quickly the standard put calendar. In a standard Put Calendar, a long put option is purchased out-of-the-money, typically with 45-120 days of time value and a short put option is sold at the same strike price in the current month (expiration month).

The expectation when entering a put calendar is that a stock will remain relatively flat or ideally will drop a little in price.  If the stock were to fall to – but not below - the strike price of the put options by expiration, then the short put would expire worthless and the long put would gain in value.  Hence, both options would produce a profit. 

More often than not, you will find when buying one option and selling another, that only one of the two options makes money.  While this may be true also for the put calendar, if the stock remains flat (resulting in some loss in the long option due to time-decay and a profit in the short option as it expires worthless) or if the stock rises (in which case the long put loses value due to stock appreciation while the short put profits in such instances), the strategy offers the potential to make outstanding percentage returns if the stock should fall slightly.

The standard put calendar is structured such that the long put always protects the short put in the event that a sharp decline in stock price materializes.  This is due to the fact that the long put is placed further out in time.  The worst-case condition for a put calendar is that a stock moves up or down by a huge margin before we can take any action to modify the structure of the trade to the new trend.  In short, gaps up or down are going to work completely against the strategy and much of the debit spent on the overall position is in jeopardy at such times.

While…
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Weekend Reading – Always in Progress!

Forbes is picking up on my premise that US equities are the least sucky place to put your money in 2008.

This article points out that: "The blue chip Dow Jones Industrial Average and the large-cap Standard & Poor's 500 both have lost much less than their major European and Asian counterparts of late, suggesting that the five- or six-year run in which foreign bourses routinely thrashed the S&P and the Dow has ended."

"The international [outperformance] was a great story, but it's over," says Alec Young, S&P's international equity strategist, who notes that U.S. stocks now represent 41.3% of world stock market capitalization, up from 40% at the end of the year.  While other global markets are breaking throught the 20% zone (something we have been tracking on the Big Chart all year), signaling a bear market, the US keeps bouncing off the line, consolidating around 15% declines.

Forbes echos my sentiment with this: "Either the equity markets are in complete denial, and U.S. markets will soon face a major crash, or maybe, just maybe, great U.S. companies that are not home builders or financials or purveyors of overpriced consumer junk are quietly selling excellent products and services around the world and are still making good money."  The article claims that $9 out of every $10 from US fund investors went into international equities last year but I find that very hard to believe.  If true, it would be possible to see a shocking, major reversal of fortune as money gets repatriated back to the states.

==============================================================

Wheat has gone from $4.05 in July '06, to $4.88 in July '07 to $10.68 this month.  How did that happen?  Was there a surge in demand, did farmers stop planting wheat?   Was there a drout?  No, none of those things.  What happened is the same thing that happened in the energy markets in 2001, when trading restrictions on oil and natural gas were lifted – The Commodity Futures Trading Comission (who answers to the White House) opened the markets to unlimited trading by giant hedge funds last year!  This happened at the same time that Bush rolled out his "energy plan" to turn food into fuel.

"It is estimated that $8 billion has flowed into ag futures since the start of the year,” said Joe Hampton, President of…
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When Whitney Attacks – Part 2

I have gotten a ton of mail regarding my recent article "When Whitney Attacks" mainly from a rabid assortment of her supporters.

I do apologize to Ms. Whitney as it does turn out that CIBC divested her division to Oppenheimer so she is now an Oppenheimer analyst who only used to work (as of last November) for CIBC.  It may not sound like a big deal to you but it seems to be vitally important to others (like Toronto's Globe and Mail) that this fact be ironed out lest my entire defense of the financial sector be deemed invalid.

Perhaps they are touchy about the fact that I pointed out that foreign banks, in addition to the usual suspects, stand to benefit from CitiGroup's troubles, last I heard they did all compete in the international markets and CitiGroup was, and still is at the moment, the 800-pound gorilla of the financial industry.

Rather than allow this to degenerate into a war with the Whitney camp, I'm just going to make a simple case for CitiGroup (most data from Yahoo Finance and Investools) as an example of how this bank bashing has gone too far:

CitiGroup has $2.1 Trillion in assets and some of those assets are in the dreaded "sub-prime" category.  The company wrote down $1.56Bn in Q3 '07 in CDOs and an additional $1.35Bn of "leveraged finance commitments."  This dropped Q3 net income to "just" $2.2Bn on $43.2Bn in sales vs. $5.5Bn earned in Q3 '06.  In November, CEO Chuck Prince resigned and was replaced by Vikram Pandit and I predicted at the time that they would throw the kitchen sink into Q4 so they could put it all behind them and the bank indeed came through, writing down $18Bn worth of debt, turning Q4 into a $9.8Bn loss. 

At the time, CitiGroup said their total exposure to sub-prime was $55Bn, INCLUDING $43Bn of CDOs.  Remember this is out of $2,100 Billion in total assets!  While all this was going on, Citi's business was going gangbusters, with 5% growth in overall revenues, led by a 29% growth in International revenues – beating out competition like… oh, let's say CIBC.

As a rapidly expanding bank, Citi finds themselves vulnerable to the old Mr. Potter attack strategy of fomenting panic in the markets as the bank has a very high, but usually manageable lone/deposit ratio:…
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TGIF!

Wow, the end of another wild week in the markets!

It's been a rocky one for us as we got a little too bullish and have been punished for it but I still believe that THEY are not going to let the dollar fall to 70 and we will have a Deux ex machina come down from the heavens and save the markets.  While I realize that this is not the kind of solid fundamental reasoning that is going to help you sleep well at night with your open calls under your pillow, I have to view this very much like when I have to tell my children there are no monsters in the closet.  How do I show you no monsters? 

As I mentioned in last night's article, it is very easy to scare investors by telling them that horrors await them at every corner.  This is the type of thing rich people like to tell poor people while they buy up all of their assets.  Believing there are no monsters requires the same act of faith that believing that there are angels entails as neither one is very likely to pop out from under your bed on the average evening but why are we, as a society, so much more willing to believe in bad things than good?

Dr. Brett has written exensively on the subject so I won't get into it here but I will say, very simply, that as a fundamental analyst – we are way past the point of reasonable concern about the markets and the financials in particular.  BSC did not fall apart over fundamentals, Bear has a good, old fashioned run on the bank that turned them from solvent to insolvent in a matter of just seven days. 

Any bank is subject to a liquidity crisis if more than 10% of the investors, if only 5% of the investors, ask for their money back because it just isn't readily on hand.  As Jimmy Stewart points out at the Baily Building and Loan when the townsfolk are panicked into demanding their money back by the evil Mr. Potter (who just so happens to look just like our Treasury Secretary!): "you're thinking of this place all wrong. As if I had the money back in a
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Thursday Thump – When Whitney Attacks!

OK, even I forgot the Thursday Thump rule this week!

We felt a little silly very soon after the open and covered up a little more as we had gone out on a limb Wednesday expecting a bounce.  Fortunately, we did get a huge jump at the open, which minimized our damages but we are still woefully under covered if the market doesn't come back as we elected to leave ourselves half covered in hopes that today marked the short-term bottom.

We can blame $108 oil and Meredith Whitney for today's drop as both looked very scary to the majority of holdings.  Oil stokes inflation fears while Ms. Whitney threatens severe deflation for your virtual portfolio: ""The best-case scenario is that financial firms take the pain quickly and purge assets from their balance sheets. That could bring stock valuations down by as much as 50%, which would be enough so that you could legitimately buy long-term positions," says Whitney.

Make no mistake about it, Whitney is not saying another 15% down from the 35% the financial sector has already fallen, she is saying that the average bank, which was worth $100 last year and is now trading at $65, is really worth just $32.50.  It amazed me that this woman is being treated as some kind of genius by the media as she met her husband in 2004 on TV as she made a bearish call on C then, when it was trading at $50, a level that held for 3 years.  So NOW Ms. Whitney is right and she is using her 15 minutes of fame to attack all things financial, single handedly causing a world-wide sell-off.

It should not be lost on readers that Meredith Whitney is an analyst for CIBC, the CANADIAN Imperial Bank of Commerce, a group that benefits tremendously from a weak US dollar and weak US financial markets.  Her report on CitiGroup cost the bank $15Bn in market cap yesterday, more than the $13.5Bn she predicts they will write down in her doom and gloom (and admitedly worst-case) scenario.   With the bank trading at just 6 times earnings, it should take a loss of $90Bn to have that sort of effect but investors are in the mood to panic and Whitney is one very scary lady!

I find it very interesting that she is…
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Sprint’s decline draws call-buyers…and is Diebold due for a fall?

Today’s tickers: S, DBD, VRSN, CFC, XLF, MER, C, SIRI, URBN, OVTI

S – Shares in Sprint led telecom sector losses with a 1.6% decline to $6.47 on the fairly paltry news catalyst of a poor WiMax technology rollout in Australia. Implied volatility in Sprint options has shown hair-trigger sensitivity – to wit, an analyst downgrade two weeks ago sent shares down 10% and implied volatility up past the 90% mark – and today’s implied volatility reading at 94.6% is even higher (up 21% from yesterday, in fact). Measure this up against the degree of fluctuation to which Sprint shares have already shown a capacity, and you have an option market that’s pricing in about 14% more price risk to Sprint shares over the next month than they have already shown historically…on no news catalyst? Today, as was the case earlier this month, we see option traders taking the opportunity of a down day for shares and an upward spike in implied volatility to buy front-month calls. Perhaps the sense is that barring any significant news catalyst, Sprint shares – having dwindled from a 52-week high of $23.34 – have digested all the bile the market could possibly fling at them. This time the buying interest is at the April 7.00 call line. More than half today’s active volume in Sprint options appears centered at this strike, where the buying volume is more than triple the prior open interest, and where traders are paying about 45 cents for the right to buy Sprint shares at $7.00 by April expiration.

DBD -From pregnant chads to put spreads…option activity in Diebold, the producer of ATM cash machines as well as those notorious automatic voting terminals, ticked our market scanners owing to an increase in trading volume to 30 times the normal level. This occurred against flat share price action at $37.00. Earlier this month, Diebold shares posted a 61% gain over the course of a single day after the company’s board uniformly rejected a $40-per-share takeover bid from United Technologies as “too low.” Shares have come off about 1.6% in the interim, but it looks like some option traders are banking on a drop below the $30 line by May – possibly on expectation that no new bid will be forthcoming. Today’s volume appears centered in 12,000-lot put spreads, with a trader buying the May 30 put for $1.00…
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Thrill a Minute Thursday

Strap on your safety belts, here we go!

It’s going to be a wild day as the panic is being shoved down our throats with the WSJ leading things off with rumors of a hedge fund collapse at JWM Partners, which is headed by the John Meriwether, the guy who busted Long-Term Capital Management and gave us our first great hedge fund crisis

Aside from the fact that I find it impossible to feel sorry for people who give money to the same guy, WORKING IN THE SAME OFFICES, that caused a global financial panic in 1998 with his stupendous losses – this is also not news, just an expected side-effect of the municipal bond markdowns and it would be a bad idea for investors to pull out now but you don’t get that impression from the Journal, which takes several opportunities to remind readers that Monday is the deadline to request capital withdrawals.

We expected today to be a bad day since the weekend as we have the GDP report, which, of course, shows 0.6% growth as it’s the same number as we got in the last 3 preliminary reports so why would it change? 

In addition to Meredith Whitney’s gloom and doom prophecies yesterday, Paulson decided it would be a good time to threaten the finanicals with greater scrutiny and David Merkel wrote an excellent summary of the current financial environment so I’ll keep quiet about it and move on to today’s business but we went with XLF calls amid all the carnage and picked up more C as it all just seems cheap to me.

Asia was mixed this morning with Hong Kong up just 47 points and the Nikkei down 102, still pretty much mirroring the Dow but the Shanghai Composite dopped a whopping 5%, bringing mainland China’s market down to the lowest point since April 9th, with all of last year’s gains being erased.  PTR fell 8.3% despite another huge jump in oil and China Pacific fell another 7.5% as Baoshan Iron blew earnings and dropped 9%.  China Construction Bank fell 5.5%, Air China dropped 9.1%, Ping An Insurance fell 6.1% and China Shenhua Energy dropped 9.8%.  You would think something like this would be bigger news over here, but I have yet to hear a word about it on CNBC or any television station.

Remember folks,…
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Wednesday Wrap-Up

Oh no – ORCL missed revenuse by $40M out of $5,420M expected!

This is the same nonsense that has been driving the markets for two days.  Q3 earnings are up 30% and in-line with estimates.  Listening to the conference call, the company is expecting total revenue to be up about 16% for their Q4 (May) with $6.7Bn in revenues and they see new software revenues up 10-20% and CFO Catz said "there could be upside guidance but the company wants to be cautious in the current market environment."  The guidance also does not included the acquisition of BEAS.

Catz said customers got more cautious in the third quarter. “Deals took longer than anticipated at the end of the quarter," she said. Catz said it “wasn’t just banks…not just financial services or any one industry. We saw a few things just get delayed a little bit…in some cases it did not make our cut-off.”  People, people – this is NOT a reason to take a company down 10% after hours!

That’s pretty much how the day went, led by a fresh round of panic in the financial sector, an attack that is being led by Oppenheimer’s Meredith Whitney who has slashed her estimates on C, BAC, JPM and WB this morning and is now after MER and UBS as well.  Whitney is another type of oracle, who forsees financial doom with write-downs of $13.2Bn at Citibank alone and $50Bn of write-downs for the sector. "Many expected the fourth quarter to be the ‘kitchen sink’ for the industry," Whitney wrote in her report (which is from last week but is being made into "news" today. "First-quarter results (will) be a rude awakening."  Whitney is the same analyst who went after Citigroup in October and I agreed with her then as I had been calling the financials a house of cards since August but now she has gone too far.

First of all $50Bn in writedowns is NOTHING in the grand scheme of things.  We already knew there was more to come as we are nowhere near my mid-range prediction of $400Bn in total write-downs and if it’s $50Bn in Q1 and $35Bn in Q2 and $20Bn in Q3 and $10Bn in Q4 then we are right on the button and well on our way to recovery.  Really folks, how does Ms. Whitney think we get to $400Bn in write-downs?  SOMEBODY has
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Sprint’s decline draws call-buyers…and is Diebold due for a fall?

Today’s tickers: S, DBD, VRSN, CFC, XLF, MER, C, SIRI, URBN, OVTI

S – Shares in Sprint led telecom sector losses with a 1.6% decline to $6.47 on the fairly paltry news catalyst of a poor WiMax technology rollout in Australia. Implied volatility in Sprint options has shown hair-trigger sensitivity – to wit, an analyst downgrade two weeks ago sent shares down 10% and implied volatility up past the 90% mark – and today’s implied volatility reading at 94.6% is even higher (up 21% from yesterday, in fact). Measure this up against the degree of fluctuation to which Sprint shares have already shown a capacity, and you have an option market that’s pricing in about 14% more price risk to Sprint shares over the next month than they have already shown historically…on no news catalyst? Today, as was the case earlier this month, we see option traders taking the opportunity of a down day for shares and an upward spike in implied volatility to buy front-month calls. Perhaps the sense is that barring any significant news catalyst, Sprint shares – having dwindled from a 52-week high of $23.34 – have digested all the bile the market could possibly fling at them. This time the buying interest is at the April 7.00 call line. More than half today’s active volume in Sprint options appears centered at this strike, where the buying volume is more than triple the prior open interest, and where traders are paying about 45 cents for the right to buy Sprint shares at $7.00 by April expiration.

DBD -From pregnant chads to put spreads…option activity in Diebold, the producer of ATM cash machines as well as those notorious automatic voting terminals, ticked our market scanners owing to an increase in trading volume to 30 times the normal level. This occurred against flat share price action at $37.00. Earlier this month, Diebold shares posted a 61% gain over the course of a single day after the company’s board uniformly rejected a $40-per-share takeover bid from United Technologies as “too low.” Shares have come off about 1.6% in the interim, but it looks like some option traders are banking on a drop below the $30 line by May – possibly on expectation that no new bid will be forthcoming. Today’s volume appears centered in 12,000-lot put spreads, with a trader buying the May 30 put for $1.00…
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Zero Hedge

Visualizing How Much Oil Is In An Electric Vehicle?

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

When most people think about oil and natural gas, the first thing that comes to mind is the gas in the tank of their car. But, as Visual Capitalist's Nicholas LePan notes, there is actually much more to oil’s role, than meets the eye...

Oil, along with natural gas, has hundreds of different uses in a modern vehicle through petrochemicals.

Today’s infographic comes to us from American Fuel & Petrochemicals Manufacturers, and covers why oil is a critical mate...



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Phil's Favorites

Assange's new indictment: Espionage and the First Amendment

 

Embed from Getty Images

 

Assange’s new indictment: Espionage and the First Amendment

Courtesy of Ofer Raban, University of Oregon

Julian Assange, the co-founder of WikiLeaks, has been charged by the U.S. Department of Justice with a slew of Espionage Act violations that could keep him in prison for the rest of his life.

The new indictment expands an earlier one charging Assange with conspiring w...



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Insider Scoop

Jefferies Sees 60-Percent Upside In Aphria Shares, Says Buy The Dip

Courtesy of Benzinga.

After a red-hot start to 2019, Canadian cannabis producer Aphria Inc (NYSE: APHA) has run out of steam, tumbling more than 31 percent in the past three months.

Despite the recent weakness, one Wall Street analyst said Friday that the stock has 30-percent upside potential. 

The Analyst

Jefferies analyst ...



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Kimble Charting Solutions

DAX (Germany) About To Send A Bearish Message To The S&P 500?

Courtesy of Chris Kimble.

Is the DAX index from Germany about to send a bearish message to stocks in Europe and the States? Sure could!

This chart looks at the DAX over the past 9-years. It’s spent the majority of the past 8-years inside of rising channel (1), creating a series of higher lows and higher highs.

It looks to have created a “Double Top” as it was kissing the underside of the rising channel last year at (2).

After creating the potential double top, the DAX index has continued to create a series of lower highs, while experiencing a bearish divergence with the S...



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Chart School

Brexit Joke - Cant be serious all the time

Courtesy of Read the Ticker.

Alistair Williams comedian nails it, thank god for good humour! Prime Minister May the negotiator. Not!


Alistair Williams Comedian youtube

This is a classic! ha!







Fundamentals are important, and so is market timing, here at readtheticker.com we believe a combination of Gann Angles, ...

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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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Biotech

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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ValueWalk

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

Excerpt:

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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OpTrader

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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Promotions

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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