Archive for 2008

Weekly Wrap-Up

What a great week that was!

Unlike the Fed rallies, where the gains came so quickly we got blown out by our callers, this was a nice, manageable run-up followed by a good, sensible consolidation that was nearly perfect for our virtual portfolios.  We took a cautious stance into the weekend with 3/4 covers on most of our positions as we have a ton of profits to protect and it doesn't pay to be greedy in this market but, so far this weekend (other than a strange move by the DOE that makes it seem like they are worried about something) the news looks pretty tame.

  • Our $10,000 Virtual Portfolio has just one uncovered position, TWX and is now up to $14,695 and still a week shy of it's second month (started 2/19).
  • The $25,000 Virtual Portfolio also started on 2/19 and is back on track with $33,952, a 36% gain and just 3 of 11 positions are naked, also protecting profits after a very nice week.
  • The Short-Term Virtual Portfolio was an underperformer for the week, gaining just 14% because we took MASSIVE hits on our protective DIA puts as well as our oil puts.  That's the price we pay for trying to balance the virtual portfolios but it's to be expected as those DIA puts are our biggest winners in the down market weeks and I do sleep better on the weekends knowing we have a buffer.  This is the first week we've really regretted our insurance and the insurance is still there – these are just unrealized losses.  The virtual portfolio overall is up 225% for the year and MOST of those gains are from DIA puts, you can't win them all!  We have 33 open positions with just 14 naked calls overbalanced by 9 naked puts of greater value as we're really protecting the LTP. 

    • Note that our STP is back to 80% cash though so, when I say we are bullish, we are bullish WITH THE POSITIONS WE HAVE, not all gung-ho bullish overall.  Still cautiously optimistic on the whole.
  • The Long-Term Virtual Portfolio was the star of the show this week with an explosive 24% gain (making a neat double for the year so far) as we had let the STP carry the burden of protecting our long positions into the weekend and

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“Rumor has it” in Friday full of scuttle-driven volume

Today’s tickers: MER, CCU, ATI, MAR, ELX, MOS, CEPH



MER- Yesterday’s comments from CEO John Thain about Merrill Lynch’s capital adequacy coincided with what we termed a “self-congratulatory” mood for bank and brokerage stocks as Senate lawmakers listened to a play-by-play rundown of last month’s Fed-underwritten sale of Bear Stearns. Today, the market’s sway has turned from the self-congratulatory to the self-critical, with calls from a former UBS-insider urging the Swiss bank to consider a breakup, and a Financial Times interview with former Citigroup exec John Reed lamenting the various M&A moves that created that banking behemoth. It’s from that perspective that we consider the option action in Merrill Lynch, whose shares are trading 1.7% higher at $46.69. With more than 89,000 option contracts in play, it’s conspicuous to us that 3 times as many puts trading as calls, suggesting a high degree of “second-guessing” the current direction of the share price. For clues on the mood ahead of Merrill earnings, we look to the May contract, where it appears that the sale of out-of-the-money puts at the May 37.50 for $2.14 would have represented a funding vehicle for the purchase of puts at the 45 strike for $4.32. The resulting long put spread, initiated with a debit of $2.18, presupposes a decline for Merrill Lynch shares below the $42.82 level, but remaining above the 52-week low of $37.25.



CCU- A date has been set for the New York City courtroom showdown between two private equity companies and a Citigroup-led consortium of banks over the mutinied funding of the LBO of radio operator Clear Channel. While Clear Channel shares advanced 1% to $28.65 on news that the case was on the court docket for May 5, option traders took the opportunity to accumulate defensive positions in the May contract. Calls at the May 32.50 strike sold for $2.00 apiece on volume of more than 23,000 lots – well exceeding open interest, and possibly indicative of a trader looking to take premium to fund costlier defensive plays in the puts. Similar sentiment was in evidence in what looked like a 10,000-lot spread between strikes 25 and 32.50 in the May contract. The trader in this case would likely have bought the higher-strike puts for $5.77, locking in the right to sell Clear Channel shares for $32.50 by May expiration, but would have sought to limit…
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Friday Already?

This has been an exciting (and profitable) week already!

This morning we get the dreaded jobs report but expectations are so low (-50,000) that it will be fairly shocking if we miss so let’s assume we come in a little better (also 20,000 GM workers are on strike and "off payroll" so let’s be careful of the data we do see), what kind of rally can we get?  Anything positive going into the weekend will be a good thing but especially a move in the Nasdaq, which is making stunning improvements on the weekly chart that have been ignored in most media coverage.  That’s why we are long on tech, short on oil at the moment.

I mentioned in yesterday’s wrap-up that GS is on the warpath again and the financials are in for another round of downgrading each other but the SEC has put a muzzle on the hyenas so there is not as much out there to fuel a downside panic as usual.  If we can get past the job report, we should see a little dollar strength and a lot of scrambling as bets will have to shuffle back to the industrials as well as the retail sector.

ANF has been consolidating on the $76 line for 3 months and looks ready to pop but earning are not until May 16th so I like the August $80s at $6.50, selling the Apr $80s for $1.45 on the assumption they don’t break out early and then moving to a 1/2 sell of May calls so let’s take 5 of those in the $25KP and wait until EOD to cover if we do get a pop on the jobs numbers.

The Hang Seng was closed for a holiday today and the Nikkei gave back 96 points but held 600 of the week’s 700 point gain and, more importantly, held 13,000 with no difficulty (now 13,293).  India was not so lucky as inflation fears and a slowing economy (welcome to the club!) caused them to post a 900-point drop for the week after today’s 450-point loss.  The Sensex is down 25% from it’s median high of 20,000 and it not looking like a good place to put money to work.  As I said earlier in the week, this is good for US markets!

UBS, who has written down $38Bn worth of assets, may be breaking up
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Thursday Wrap-Up

No thump on a Thursday?  That’s great!

Back on Wednesday morning, after Tuesday’s massive gains, I said: "We don’t know what will happen today but holding 75% of yesterday’s gains would be just great and anything else will be a bonus for the day, it’s all up to Bernanke this morning and we’ll have to stay light on our feet but there is not much market moving news this morning other than a strong quarter from BBY, which should be a nice boost for the electronics sector and, hopefully the semis."  Well, we got exactly what I was looking for, good consolidation and SOX leadership with a huge breakout well above our 350 line, now 370.

The dollar has weakened slightly, which has been supporting commodity prices and I don’t think we’re going to get through 72.50 (20% below our median top of 90 in ’05 and ’06) without some catalyst – something I was expecting this week but clearly we are not getting.  This has allowed oil to hold $100 for the week but Wednesday’s 8Mb build in crude will not be the last as nervous speculators continue to rush barrels to market before the bottom falls out.  Priced in Euros, you can see that oil is in a more pronounced downtrend and we have seen late session sell-offs at the NYMEX in 3 of the past 4 days.  There is a lot riding on defending $100 for oil and we have several bets on that they will not be able to keep it together for 2 more weeks.

Gold traders are much smarter than oil traders and they have been selling off fast as gold traders tend to anticipate currency moves in advance while energy traders are always hoping that there’s a catastrophe right around the corner that will justify the extra 40% they paid for their oil.  Here’s an interesting chart of oil priced in gold – notice how it’s run back up to December highs already, if gold doesn’t turn up and support oils move, $100 is very unlikely to hold.  Oil fell 15% from its December highs and has no real support above $88 if they fail at $100 so let’s keep an eye on gold $900 as a make or break for crude as much of the hot speculation money in oil now is as a relative inflation hedge.…
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While homebuilders show signs of light, darkness still visible for retail



XRT- While today’s Bernanke utterance (see below) – under oath and overdue – signaled an “all-clear” to traders in homebuilder options to begin betting on a turning point in the sector, a look at the activity in the SPDR S&P Retail ETF indicates that the market may have yet see the deferred bottom in that pocket of the economy. Components of the sector ETF include a fine swatch of swanky and semi-swanky retail names (J. Crew, Ann Taylor, Tiffany), grocers (Supervalu) as well as the odd computer games retailer (GameStop). While shares edged .69% to $33.61 this afternoon, an increase in its option trading volume to nearly 15 times the normal level appeared squarely localized in September 32 puts. A 10,000-lot long position at this strike – equivalent to nearly 20% of the XRT’s total open interest – was entered earlier today for $2.75, with a buyer of this strike looking for a retest of the January 15 low of $29.10. It is worth noting in this regard that as the prior low was reached on back of the critical holiday shopping season for retailers, this next would-be bearish jag would follow on the heels of the back-to-school season. Option traders hold more than twice as many put positions as calls.

MAS- This afternoon’s option volume also suggests that rumblings of a recovery may be premature in the home fixtures segment. This follows on from recent comments from the head of paintmaker Sherwin-Williams, whose bleak view of the outlook for the home improvement sector a couple of weeks back led to a run on June puts forecasting a break of the 52-week low by that month. Masco, the maker of plumbing and architectural fixtures, faces a similar predicament, with fully 78% of its revenue originating in the U.S. This utter dependence on the state of the homebuilding market explains in short order the fact that option traders hold 4 times as many put positions as calls, a proportion that has remained largely static this year. Despite a 1% gain in its share price to $21.01, option traders sent put volume to its highest in 2 months, where it looks like positions at the April 20 put strike were closed and rolled into the July contract at the same strike for $1.75. Implied volatility has…
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Thursday Morning

While we are hoping for a "No Thump Thursday" we certainly aren't counting on it.

We were able to spot the EXACT top of the market yesterday by following my 10:36 instruction: "If GM is going up then the market is going up, good rule of thumb for the day as there is NO justification for putting a penny into that company."  GM was indeed an excellent leading indicator for the Dow, turning down sharply at 12:04 and heading into a confirmed downtrend at 12:20.

The Dow topped out at 12,695 yesterday but we covered into the last stage of the rally based on my 11:26 strategy: "Market looking hesitant here, smells like profit taking to me and post Bernanke was a disaster last time so make sure everything is at least 1/2 covered (and I remind you that my uncovered 1/2 is covered by Index puts) and let the market prove to us that it’s a mistake but tomorrow is Thursday and then it’s Friday (weeks are funny that way) and there is NO way we are going naked into the weekend so a cover now is a good thing."

Staying ahead of the market is a good thing, we had extensive discussions over the past two days about rolling and adjusting callers and having those skills allows us to make an educated guess once in a while without too much fear of "missing" a rally.  As I said the other day, Tuesday WAS the rally, it's the same rally we've now had in 4 of the past 5 weeks so how many times are we going to let greed overtake our good sense and simple pattern recognition?

We took our first puts of the week in the afternoon, lots of oil puts as $105 was ridiculous (I mean really, are we having the first recession in history where demand for commodities goes up?) and I was very relieved to move mainly to cash in our small virtual portfolios with the 25KP now at $34,000 with $18,000 in cash and the $10KP at $14,400 with $8,500 in cash.  This is a huge relief coming off our worst start ever for our small virtual portfolios!

Now we're back in "wait and see" mode for the market.  I will be sad to have to cover more of…
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Wimpy Wednesday Wrap-Up

"This is the way the world ends/Not with a bang but a whimper" – TS Elliot

"It’s possible first half of this year will be slightly contractionary" - Ben Bernanke, 12:20 today

Let's admit it, Ben Bernanke is not a guy that inspires confidence

Napoleon, who I quoted the other day as saying: "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich" also said: "A leader is a dealer in hope."  Ben Bernanke, as a typical extension of this administration, is no dealer in hope.  Our current economic crisis is primarily a crisis of confidence (consumer confidence is at depression-level lows) but it stems from a crisis of leadership.

How did this happen to us?  I'll tell you but many of you are not going to like it:

On October 16th 1962, John F Kennedy introduced the Kennedy Act, aimed at stopping the abuses of the oil companies by removing the distintion between repatriated profits and profits re-invested abroad, aimed to curb the tax abuses that were routinely pracitced by the industry.  On January 24th, 1963, Kennedy presented a bill to congress that affected not only the companies with overseas investments, but all companies which, in one way or another, benefited from the privileged status of the oil industry. It called into question both the principle and the rates of the fiscal privileges, the improper use of tax dollars, and the depletion allowance. If adopted, it would undermine the entire system upon which the Oil Empire was based.   The bill was blocked and Kennedy continued to push it but was murdered before he could get it pased.

Another President attempted to stem the tide of big oil and stop America's dependence on foreign oil saying:

"What I have to say to you now about energy is simple and vitally important.

"Point one: I am tonight setting a clear goal for the energy policy of the United States. Beginning this moment, this nation will never use more foreign oil than we did in 1977-- never. From now on, every new addition to our demand for energy will be met from our own production and our own conservation. The generation-long growth in our dependence on foreign oil will be stopped dead in its tracks right now

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As Bernanke cues recession, homebuilders call volume suggests a coda

Today’s tickers: RYL, XHB, QQQQ, RIMM, CROX, MU, ING, KLAC

RYL- This morning’s testimony by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, speaking before a congressional joint committee, brought surprising, if tacit, validation that the U.S. economy is indeed staring a dramatic slowdown full in the face over the first half of this year – this amid continuing shrinkage in homebuilding, consumer spending and employment. While the admission – which did all but call a spade a spade before a litany of recessionary cues for the U.S. – led to some profit-taking in U.S. stocks on back of yesterday’s orgiastic gains, it barely crimped the bullish tone to homebuilding stocks. Indeed, it would seem that where Bernanke’s testimony today represented the “cue” to an era of U.S. recession – traders in the homebuilding complex saw a “coda.” For that we turn to options of Ryland Group, the U.S. homebuilder with a pronounced presence in the Southeast and Texas (the Lone Star state, which in January of this year ranked third in the nation in terms of subprime foreclosures, represents fully a quarter of Ryland’s revenues.) With shares up 3.25% to $36.55 this morning, Ryland calls are trading at their heaviest volume since October 31, 2007, with heavy buying at the April 32.50 strike for $4.20 apiece indicative of a confident expectation of continued upside. The trader may have funded this purchase via the sale of out-of-the-money calls in the October contract at the 42.50 strike. Interestingly, the proportion of puts to calls in Ryland – which now stands at 2-to-1 in favor of the puts – made that shift to the defensive in early November, just after its last big gulp of call volume.

XHB- Today’s rally among homebuilders extended to shares of the SPDR S&P Homebuilders ETF, of which Ryland is a component. With shares up more than 3% to $24.20, the 32,000-plus options on the ETF actively deployed by traders made one of the most active tickers on our platform in early market action. Here we observed notable action in the June contract, where it appears that a cautiously bullish trader entered a 6,750-lot collar at the 20 and 28 strikes. The lower strike represents a protective put position against an undue jag lower for homebuilders, while the higher strike call is the price at which the trader would willingly part with a long position in the…
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Which Way Wednesday? Fed Edition!


At 9:30 am, right when the market opens, we will get a copy of Uncle Ben's prepared statement and then we have 3 hours of grilling, including another episode of "When Ron Paul Attacks" as the Fed Chair will be grilled on the BSC bail-out and whether or not we're in a recession

On the bright side, we have some indication by Paulson that the administration may bend on a proper housing bail-out and Bernanke has already backed Barney Frank (and me) on the idea of a true mortgage reduction program that will preserve the integrity of the housing market (and the dollar) rather than just repackage debt for the umpteenth time.

So far, in pre-market trading, things are looking very good, we got a mild ADP payroll report (non-farm payrolls UP 8,000)and the market seems still willing to interpret anything that is not very bad as good and the futures shot positive on the release.  I'm baffled by this as I will point out that the report shows a loss of 58,000 manufacturing jobs, the 19th consecutive monthly decline, a loss of 77,000 total "goods producing jobs" (Ford) that were replaced by 85,000 "service sector" jobs (McDonald's).  One job does not equal another and we need to come up with a better measure of jobs performance than one that treats all forms of employment equally.

Also interesting in the report is that large businesses (over 500 employees, the kinds that have health care and 401Ks and opportunities for advancement) dropped 52,000 workers while businesses with fewer than 50 workers hired 55,000 people.  Again, these are not really good trade-offs!  Not only that, but New York is already bracing for massive lay-offs in the financial industry so we can look forward to the next jobs report in which 50,000 white-collar financial professionals become $8 per hour Wal-Mart greeters and are treated like they are fully employed by our Government, who we hire to lie to us like this.

I mentioned yesterday that Europeans are betting heavily on Obama and I'm starting to think they may be right, Hillary is starting to look desperate and is starting to get downright weird, challenging Obama to a "bowl-off, a bowling night, right here in Pennsylvania, winner take
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Tuesday Top Off

Well that was just fantastic!

I said to members at the day’s end that we should probably just cash out and call it a week and the Fast Money crew agreed with me with Dylan saying "Basically it was a great year today, so we’re going to take the show off the air and we’ll see you in ’09."  I felt like chicken little telling people to take the money and run on our April calls but this was indeed all of the gains we hoped to get by expiration day and we do not look gift horses in the mouth.

Our Day Trade Virtual Portfolio, for example, gained $50,000 yesterday just 2 days before its 1-month anniversary.  As we started with just $100,000 on March 3rd, despite the fact that we had a 118% gain on the weekend, adding another $50K in 2 days NEEDS to be enough to satisfy you.  When you have a good month’s worth of gains in a single day, you can’t look to do it again the next day, more often than not, that is the road to ruin.  We actually took a $12,000 paper loss by covering our Google longs too early but I will sleep a lot better knowing that a position that now makes up 75% of our remaining contracts is 40% covered.

Again, we made $22K on Google alone in the DTP and we covered it by selling $30,000 in pure premium by selling into the rally so Google has to go up ANOTHER $20 in two weeks before we even give our caller his money back – that’s another day like today LOCKED IN while protecting ourselves against a full retracement of today’s gains.  You can’t afford to be greedy in this market, we worked too hard to get into a position to make money to simply gamble it away once we make it.

So I apologize in advance if it turns out I was too bearish into the close but, as I said at the close, even if we get another 400-point day and run to 13,000, that would only make me turn bearish as it’s too much, too fast and we’d end up shorting and, if we get a nice gentle move up from here, we have loads of time to manage our callers.

We accomplished our mission on the $10KP and have no April calls left, the $25KP just has…
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Zero Hedge

World Trade War I: US Asks South Korea To Join Anti-Huawei Campaign

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

The bilateral trade war between the US and China is gradually becoming a global trade war of global geopolitical and commercial dominance between the US and Chinese spheres of influence.

Shortly after the two largest mobile phone companies in the UK decided against launching Huawei-built 5G phones this morning, and roughly around the time a bevy of Japanese tech and telecom companies including ARM Holdings, Panasonic and SoftBank all imposed a boycott on supplying Huawei with mission critical components joining Australia, and New Zealand as major US allies to end commercial relat...

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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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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.

Market Shadows >>