1 C
New York
Thursday, March 30, 2023


Monday Morning

Wow, the last week of January already?

This year is already flying by and we're heading into a February with just 19 trading days so just 39 trading days until March options contracts expire – how's that for perspective?  Let's keep that in mind with the VIX still near 50 as these fat premiums may not last forever so we may want to move away from February sales early, especially in cases where we get a near double for selling 39 days vs. the 19 days that remain in the current expiration period

We have to consider – what would it take for the markets to get MORE volatilie?  Last week was devoid of data but this week will be exciting with Existing Home Sales and Leading Economic Indicators at 10 this morning, Case/Shiller and Consumer Confidence tomorrow, Crude Inventories and the Fed on Wednesday, Durable Goods and New Home Sales on Thursday and Friday we finish the week with Chicago PMI, Michigan Sentiment, Employment Cost Index and the Advance Q4 GDP – which will make everything else irrelevant so strap in for a wild ride!

We also have earnings from about 1/3 of the S&P 500, highlighted this week by CAT, HAL, MCD and AXP today; DAL, BTU, X, VLO, VZ & YHOO tomorrow; T, BA, COP, GD, LM, PM, ALL, BXP & SBUX Wednesday; MO, BUD, CL, EK, F, OSK, RDS.A, TXT, UA, AMZN, SPWRA and YRCW Thursday and XOM, CVX, HON and PG on Friday.  XOM and CVX together on Friday (15% of the Dow weighting) have me really, really, REALLY worried that we'll get a -5% GDP along with poor earnings from them and people are going to act like the world is ending so it's going to be a tricky play this week but lots of fun playing the ultras.

After not hitting our levels last week we shifted to Neutral at 2:21 on Friday and picked up DIA puts for protection and we are sincerely hoping that this down 7% (so far) January market is not the much-discussed "January effect" as, statistically, January is THE BEST month of the year for the markets.  It would be quite a feat to just get the markets back even in the next 5 days, let alone come up with a finish that would be encouraging for the rest of the year.  Many companies that have reported so far have been hit by the violent swings in currency and commodity prices with many airlines taking hits on fuel hedges while COP, for example, is taking a $33Bn reserve write-down and CVX has warned that it's Q4 earnings will be "significantly lower."  KFT is taking $140M in hedging losses this Q and GIS marked down $269M of commodity hedges they took at the height of the Ag bubble.

I was discussing how currencies hit the big international players this weekend with some investors and we used the example of TM, who may have priced a car for sale at $26,000, which was 3M Yen in October but, by the time the car is sold in January $26,000 is just  2.3M Yen, over 20% less then TM planned to collect.  If they spent 2.5M yen building and shipping the car and expected to make a 20% profit on the final sale – they are going to have a problem and this certainly isn't the market environment to mark the car up another 20% on this end.  This is the reason the Nikkei is off 14% this month as the Japanese market is very export-focused.  The dollar has been strong but still losing ground to the Yen, which is seen as the safest global currency at the moment. 

Of course no currency is "safe" as gold (I believe I may have mentioned gold before) is flying past $900 as investors look for REAL safety as opposed to the very imaginary safety of fiat currency, no matter what country is issuing the paper.  I won't get into it here as we are already big into gold but Adam Hamilton wrote a great article on Inflation and the Money Supply this weekend that is a must read – especially for those of you who think keeping it on the sidelines is going to protect you!  The government is trying to keep a lid on gold prices and the US mint suspended and then resumed only limited sales of gold coins and has halted new production.  Dennis Gartman agrees with my general strategy of hedging with GLD and agrees we should not go too crazy, as it would be nice if we're wrong and sad if we hit my $1,500 target (at $2,000 we go short).

Speaking of out of control inflation, an inflated money supply and insane levels of government spending – It looks like FRE and FNM need another $50Bn or so this quarter (ah yes, it has already been 3 months since we last bailed them out).  Foreclosures are kicking up and, much to my chagrin, the government still hasn't done anything to stop the actual bleeding at the homeowner level so: "Their losses are going to be much higher than anyone anticipated,” said Paul Miller, an analyst with FBR Capital Markets in Arlington, Virginia. “The more and more that people are digging into these virtual portfolios, they’re finding out the more and more these guys were doing subprime and Alt-A loans and classifying them as prime." The companies have posted five consecutive quarters of losses totaling $68.4 billion combined. The Federal Housing Finance Administration seized their operations in September amid concern from regulators that the government-sponsored enterprises may fail in the worst housing slump since the Great Depression but virtually nothing has been done to actually address the problem by the outgoing (thank goodness!) administration.

Speaking of companies that are being rocked by housing, CAT just reported a 20% miss and guided down 20% for 2009 and is taking a 20% hit pre-market and will be laying off 20% of their workforce.  We took the $34 puts for $1.83 on Friday but it looks like we should have taken Komatsu's warning more seriously as our net $32.17 entry target may not be low enough for a CAT entry.  Fortunately they have now put March contracts up and we should get a near even roll to the March $30 puts and, despite to poor outlook, I do like this 5% dividend payer (6%+ at this level) for a sub-$30 entry.  As an exporter, CAT was hit by the strong dollar as well, getting less of them back in exchange for foreign currencies.  It's very possible that a hedged entry into CAT would be nice this morning but we'll have to wait and see where it shakes out in this morning's trading before committing to ownership so stay tuned in member chat as we'll watch this one closely – it could be a great chance to get into a stock that should directly benefit from infrastructure building at a time of maximum panic – very much on-target with the way we're lookng to play this earnings cycle…

Again XOM buyers seem to be in la-la land as XOM is still strong pre-market but CAT was also hit hard by cutbacks in machine sales to commodity producers.  We'll see on Friday but we are short XOM at $80 long-term.  Another intersting macro to watch is a glut of shipping vessels hitting the water in 2009 as the 3-year building cycle of jumbo vessels that began in 2006 begins to increase capacity at perhaps the worst possible time.  The new ships are 30% larger in capacity than Panamax tankers, holding 13,800 house-sized containers and STX Shipbuilding has plans for a 22,000 container ship.  The rate for shipping a container from Asia to Europe has fallen from $3,000 last year to $300 plus the $500 fuel service charge – also down from last year.  Compare that to what your local movers charge you! 

Asia was mostly closed today (lunar new year) and the Nikkei loast about a point on thin trading.  Still, that is a 3-month low in Japan and SNE has already warned ahead of earnings this week with not much expected from the auto industry to cheer things up.  China denies manipulating their currency, which is interesting since the government sets the official exchange rate which, to the untrained observer, would pretty much be the definition of manipulation.  LEH's assets go on sale in Japan this week and that will be an interesting auction as real estate prices in Japan could not (seemingly) get any lower. 


Europe, on the other hand, is up about a point as the World economic leaders begin to gather in Davos for the annual World Economic Forum.  Financials led the gains as BCS jumps nearly 50% as they move up their reporting date to 2/9 and CEO Varley pre-reported that the bank "will report a profit before tax for the year well ahead of the consensus estimate of £5.3 billion ($7.4 billion)."  They also said the bank's capital resources are "well in excess" of regulatory requirements, creating a "large performance cushion" for the bank.  So we go from a run on the bank rumor to a run on the bank's shares in just 7 days!

We're waiting to see if Geithner finally gets confirmed today as that should give us a boost and we should also be getting some more stimulation commitments this week, also good fuel to move us up despite some scary earnings reports but I will be very, very, VERY concerned about Friday so we'll be paying careful attention to energy earnins this week to try to get a clue on XOM and CVX on Friday.  Also, don't forget to keep an eye on rates today as the US has to find buyers for over $100Bn worth of notes at two auctions



Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Kudlow’s becoming as much as a blowhard as Rush.."Washington hates drug companies….they might just nationalize the whole kit and kaboodle"

IBM / XOM / CVX – now carries 24% weighting in the Dow.  GE is only 1.2%!

ibm keeps some pretty good economic forecasters on staff and if they see something so bad to justify an immediate  10% layoff and if the market ignores the short term benefit  from the layoffs and instead focuses on the ibm bad forecast that justified the layoffs then the dow could take quite a kick down!!

CHK  I’ve got 1/2 covers with Feb 12.5…not much premium left…should 2X roll to Feb 15s?

Phil/Money Indicator:  The Fed didn’t give us the money.  They gave it to the banks.  And the banks are sitting on most of it.  They are still in a defensive posture.  As in building their capital and lowereing their risk exposure.  That money won’t flow out to the public.  It will trickle out.  So, it might be good news for the banks, but not much else. 
Had breakfast with a friend of a friend who owns a commercial construction company.   He said is bank is killing him.  Lowering his line of credit on a almost weekly basis.  He said he can barely concentrate on running his company because he’s worried about his cash supply.  The banks seem indifferent about pushing companies under and are intent on defending their own selves, even if it means taking a hit on a certain smaller default then being exposed to a potential larger one.  Very defensive.  And not a positive statement.  They are hunkering down.

UK just closed up 3.6% (149pts) @4202. Not a bad day , lead by Barclays up 69%. (Although they only reiterated the statement they made last Thursday !)

IBN – Announced earnings Sat and with Monday being a trading holiday in India the Indian Markets reaction to it will be tomorrow. Growth was much smaller than the 30%+ in past few years and non-performing loans (they are supposed to have most of Indian Banks) grew.
If you own the stock as I do (basis below $15), analyze and perhaps buy downside protection…eg. Feb $15 calls are about $2

MSFT   Think it’ll make it back to $18.50 this week?

IBN – If you do not own the stock, a buy-write at this point is probably a good one. Buy the stock around here at $15 and sell the $15 call for $1.9. Good return for 2 weeks if called away.

Hi Phil,
I picked up the AAPL pre-earning play you recommended selling Feb 80 puts and calls against Apr 80 puts and calls.  Is it time to adjust, or best to wait for the remaining $2.30ish in premium to decay?  Thanks.

Phil: AAPL covers feb 80 running low on premium: 1.15$ which is 10 %,
have 1/2 cover with feb 80 and 1/2 cover with feb 85,
looks like not much to do at this time.

Matt Ref banks. They do what they supposed to do: A. Watch for their own interest; B. Restrict loans when collateral is going down with value. It is self reinforcing spiral, when we break out of it banks may change their posture. Banks should not be charity or “patriotic” business. I am not expressing value judgment.

Phil: how does QLD look to sell 3/4 cover and maybe make some $ ?  feb 26/27 ??
its turning.

News seems to be S&P / Moody’s weighing downgrade of PFE.

Bro, this guy’s company is making money.  Since when is ‘lending’ money to someone considered charity?  Since when is lending money patriotic?  He said he’s talked to other banks but as soon as he says he’s in the construction business they aren’t interested.  Banks can’t turn their backs on an entire industry.  Most of his money comes from commercial maintenance contracts.  He doesn’t build houses.  But it doesn’t matter to the fat cat bankers.  They just get scared and say no.  They’ve gone from giving money to everyone to giving money to only a select few.  It’s a knee jerk over reaction.  Unless they know more about their situation then they are letting on about.
Here’s one:  What company that charges $3 to use an ATM (which saves them money by not hiring a teller) still lose money?  BAC.  That’s who.  They are terrible.  And just what was Thain thinking when he had his office decorated??!!  What an idiot.  What arrogance.  What a pu$$y!

"Unless they know more about their situation then they are letting on about." 
“There is no means of avoiding the final collapse of a boom brought about by credit (debt) expansion. The alternative is only whether the crisis should come sooner as the result of a voluntary abandonment of further credit (debt) expansion, or later as a final and total catastrophe of the currency system involved.”
— Ludwig von Mises 


Phil, ITMN has 300% VOL, would you recommend a play?  could it be possible that they may be in play which caused this high VOL(so I wouldn’t want to sell the calls)

have a number of feb shorts which are down to 10 % of premium left, (the others are 15plus all thye way to 100%).
GE 16 put
aapl 80 call
uyg 5 put
ibm 85 call,
I suppose you would  just set a tight stop but not yet close wityh 10 % premium left ?

Phil: SKF earlier: were you selling or buying ?

Phil – Ref Banks.
So, if you are right, banks should be making a lot of money.

Phil I agree about Kudlow (nails on a chalkboard).
But now to listen to a blithering idiot like John Kerry is just as bad; as if he knows anything about the banking system.

Sue:  Senator, one of the criticisms of your op-ed is that there wasn’t a lot of meat on the bones.  
Ha… that was priceless.

I don’t care what party is in power, Congress is truly incompetent and bound to screw things up badly.

Phil, I think you might have got that one right.  It’s this guy’s ‘marginal’ account thats getting fooled around with by the bank.  They know he can’t weather the storm without credit.  He holds land in downtown Richmond.  They could be after that.  But, I don’t know if it’s possible for them to get at that the way the deed is held.  But maybe.  I certainly would not put stealing land beyond the capacity of a bank.  And while banks don’t need to be ‘Patriotic’.  They sure as hell shouldn’t be ‘Unpatriotic’ and take advantage of people while they’re down.  There are good reasons why I think banks are bad businesses!

Phil: DIA is up, your comment ??
I have DIA puts in 2 accounts:

protective apr83 puts, covered fully with feb 84
trading account: apr83 puts, covered with feb83, but in addition some naked puts feb 83.

I wonder what you suggest ? TXS, for the DIA puts I always need your help.

VLO   I wonder the best way to fix this position.   I’m not worried about the put, but I thought I’d put my whole position.
-1 Feb 22 Put
– 2 Feb 22 Calls, -1 Feb 24 Call
+ 2 Mar 15 Call, + 1 Jan 17.5 Call
I guess the easiest thing to do is to roll the Feb 22 –> Feb 24 and pay for it by rolling the Mar 15 –> Mar 17.5.   I’d put them in to more premium and still have decent downside protection.   I was wondering if you see something better.   Regardless of my caller situation, what do you think about rolling my calls Mar 15 –> Jan 17.5 even.   Giving up $2.50 in strikes for 10 months of time doesn’t seem bad, especially since it is for free.  

Phil/XOM – a friend in the industry working for a competitor of XOM says that XOM is actually prwetty good compared to others, in terms of operating margins.  I haven’t looked at the numbers myself, but he is not as gloomy as you are on XOM.

GE Mar 12.5 calls and puts — argh, keep trying to get filled at 2.95, 2.9, 2.8, but premiums keep collapsing. Should I just take what I can get (2.67-2.7?).

ajaytoo if you still like the entry, do half!

Phil – Banks. If the market value of assets decline, banks cannot put more of these assets on their books. This is a policy problem, banks –as is shown in their performance, are in the hole as rest of us, so they should stop digging. Banks may have a visibility to both sides of a deal, I mean they see books of business that wants to borrow, and books of the borrower’s customer. If they see problems they prefer leave some change on a table and not to make loans. Please note that there are many loans made, there is boom in refinancing. Banks don’t want to do it b/c significant percentage of those who re-finance are defaulting. So, the fee based business is good, but banking – not so much.

Naked puts or spreads on X might be an interesting play.
$22.50 puts are .75/.80
That’s a long way down for X.  Would you own X for less than $22, even w/ bad earnings ?

SLG earnings tonight.   I like them long.

SKF.  I would like to point out that SKF is now green today.  It is also up 12-13 off the intraday lows.
Yet, the OTM calls, such as the 280’s I had sold; are still down $2 from Friday.
Gotta luv that.  Shows what kind of decay these will have; also the near impossibility for SKF to get that high.

Cap, good work on SKF, it is pretty unbelievable what fear people have.  Even if SKF spikes, it will not last at such high levels.

the market just doesn’t like anything the Obama administration is saying-hopefully they come up with something

Closed SKF going to take a gample on UYG now…

Phil: have trouble understanding the 12:26 comment on GE:
I have hedged stock position, now only (no callers left) with feb 18 putters, this one is DITM at 3.9$ ( base is 1.49$),
flying back jargon: you mean will not until OPEX move up ??
so you say: roll to march 12.5 ( 2x 1.56$= 3.12$),
covered by 5$ puts is the same $15 downside:: do not understand thsi.
Please clarify.

Cap: as I missed selling the 125 put, maybe I can sell soonn the 200 call ???

This looks like a good time today RMM

I sold a 290 and a 310 call

Made 7.5 % on selling SKF 210 in 5 min.

At least this afternoons drop means there can be a hockey stick finish !

Stay Connected


Latest Articles

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x