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Wednesday: An AAPL a Day Keeps the Bears at Bay

$11.5 Billion Dollars.

Or, what's known as a slow quarter for Apple (AAPL), who beat lowered expectations (they guided down $9Bn for the year back in January) on $58Bn in sales, which were down $3Bn from last year.  So we have $3Bn less Sales and $2.3Bn less Net Income and the stock is up 33% from last April.  

Apple is a bit different from most stocks as it was stupidly cheap last April and we have a substantial long on them in our Long-Term Portfolio and our Options Opportunity Portfolio and we even have short AAPL puts in the Short-Term Portfolio, where we sold the 2021 $170 puts for $22 back on November 20th, which was like getting $22,000 NOT to buy AAPL for $170 at this point, with Apple expected to open over $210 this morning.

We just reviewed the Options Opportunity Portfolio in the April 18th Morning Report and our AAPL trade at the time was net $38,525, up from a $12,500 entry back on Jan 3rd but we wanted to be a bit more conservative so we called for the following adjustment:

  • AAPL – There's no sense having $120 calls that are so deep in the money so we're going to cash those in for $85 ($85,000) and add 20 of the June 2021 $180 ($42)/220 ($23) bull call spreads at $19 ($38,000) and we'll roll our 10 short 2021 $185 calls at $36.50 ($36,500) to 10 short July $200 calls at $11 ($11,000) so we're taking net $21,500 off the table and we still have an $80,000 potential spread 1/2 covered by short calls. 

Now, had we left it alone, as of yesterday, the options spread looked like this:

AAPL Short Put 2021 15-JAN 195.00 PUT [AAPL @ $200.67 $0.00] -5 11/13/2018 (625) $-13,000 $26.00 $-5.00 $-26.00     $21.00 $0.00 $2,500 19.2% $-10,500
AAPL Long Call 2021 15-JAN 120.00 CALL [AAPL @ $200.67 $0.00] 10 1/3/2019 (625) $37,500 $37.50 $45.20     $82.70 $0.00 $45,200 120.5% $82,700
AAPL Short Call 2021 15-JAN 185.00 CALL [AAPL @ $200.67 $0.00] -10 1/3/2019 (625) $-12,000 $12.00 $22.25     $34.25 $0.00 $-22,250 -185.4% $-34,250

Essentially, the net was about the same (about $1,000 lower) but the effect of our changes gave us this:

AAPL Short Put 2021 15-JAN 195.00 PUT [AAPL @ $200.67 $0.00] -5 11/13/2018 (625) $-13,000 $26.00 $-5.00 $-69.50     $21.00 $0.00 $2,500 19.2% $-10,500
AAPL Long Call 2021 18-JUN 180.00 CALL [AAPL @ $200.67 $0.00] 20 4/18/2019 (779) $84,000 $42.00 $-1.83     $40.18 $0.00 $-3,650 -4.3% $80,350
AAPL Short Call 2021 18-JUN 220.00 CALL [AAPL @ $200.67 $0.00] -20 4/18/2019 (779) $-47,000 $23.50 $-1.13     $22.38 $0.00 $2,250 4.8% $-44,750
AAPL Short Call 2019 19-JUL 200.00 CALL [AAPL @ $200.67 $0.00] -10 4/18/2019 (79) $-11,000 $11.00 $-1.83     $9.18 $0.00 $1,825 16.6% $-9,175

The new trade is net $15,925 and we took $21,500 off the table so it's the same $37,425 but now, at $220 on AAPL, we cash out $80,000 for $42,575 more as opposed to making just $20,000 more on the original 10 calls.  The $180/220 spread is also safer in a downturn (what's that?) than the deep-in-the-money $120 calls and, of course, we'll take less of a hit from the short July $200 calls than we would have from the short $185 calls.  

It's always good to look over your trades before earnings and think about ways you can tweak them.  In this case, we would have been happy to add to our trade if AAPL had a poor report and turned lower but, as it stands, we'll just have to wait to collect the rest of our $80,000 as Apple moves over the $1Tn mark once again.  That's right, by the way, the above trade is net $15,925 cash ($13,226 ordinary margin is required on the short puts) and will be worth $80,000 if AAPL is over $220 in Jan, 2021 so I guess I would say it's still good for a new trade as the upside is $64,075, which is a 400% gain in 20 months – not bad for leftovers!  

Considering that our Options Opportunity Portfolio had a starting base of $100,000 back on Jan 2nd of last year, $64,075 is a 60% gain between now and Jan 2021 on that one trade.  As I talked about on the Hemp Boca Radio Show yesterday, that's how we make these outsized portfolio gains – NOT by gambling on momentum stocks but by taking perfectly reasonable value plays in blue chip stocks and using options to leverage the conservative returns.  Your worst case is you end up owning a blue chip stock – in this case it would be 500 shares of AAPL at $195…

AAPL should give the Nasdaq a boost this morning but we're still not back to 8,000 on /NQ (the 100) and 7,800 is the 20% line on the Nasdaq so we'll be watching that closely as well as the 1,600 line on the Russell (/RTY) and, maybe, S&P 3,000 if all goes very well.  Unfortunately, I can't see topping all those major lines without a pullback (Dow 26,750 will be in play as well) and this is a textbook 20% run for the year so even a weak retrace would bring us down 4% with a strong retracement giving us an 8% dip before we can consolidate for a move higer.  

As the volume has been very, very low during this rally – I think it's far more likely we see S&P 2,800 tested again before we see 3,000 broken – the question is, what catalyst will it take to turn this market bearish?  This afternoon we have an FOMC statement and, since no one expects them to raise rates again in 2019, any language in that direction could cause a bit of selling.  

Image result for trading trap cartoonOn the other hand, the US and China are making nice trade noises and, although a trade deal will only put us back to where we were before all this started – it's still being taken as a reason to rally.  In our Portfolio Review (members only) I noted that the urge to cash out is growing very strong as our gains have been RIDICULOUS and can't possibly keep going at this pace but, then again, there's my Apple trade – how can I let trades like that go?  

This is the trap we fell into in 1999 and 2007…


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  1. Timing the market is not easy:

    December sure feels like a great buying opportunity now that we can look back on the outcome but it didn’t feel like it to many people at the time. Stocks could have kept right on falling, making any purchases at the time feel like they would have been ill-advised.

    That’s why you don’t overthink these things. When stocks are down and you have many decades of investing ahead of you, buying is almost always going to be a good decision.

    I would add, as long as you are buying quality companies! Some stocks are down for a reason!

  2. The value of Disney:

    Someday in the future, however, the cost of capital will rise. We don't know when, but we know it will happen. And when that happens, the balance of power in the stock market will dramatically shift, favoring firms that can self-fund operations via internally generated cash flow. Firms like Disney.

  3. Good morning, All!

    It's webinar day! Join Phil at 1pm here:

  4. FYI… In the hemp boca vid… Phil's segment is around the 24 minute mark. 

  5. Good Morning!

  6. Good morning! 

    Maduro still in power and oil is popping this morning.  /NG too so fine with me!  

    API showed a 6Mb build in oil and down 1M in Gasoline and up 2M in Distillates so we'll see what EIA says but a build like that can send us back to $62.50 but now it won't take much to "beat" terrible expectations so I'd have to say it's too tricky to play at the moment.  

    Copper took a dive – that's interesting.

    Seems like those two are based on some downgraded economic demand data.

    I like shorting /YM if it crosses below 26,650 and /ES below 2,950.

    S&P/StJ – I have been giving that some thought lately and the reason SPY beats most traders is because SPY is constantly dumping stocks that lose value and adding stocks that gain value.  It doesn't have any sentiment – it simply dumps under-performers and adds performers on a regular basis.  That's why it's very hard for stock-pickers to beat the S&P – it's not a static index, as most people think of it.

    As to timing – we were BUYBUYBUYing in December – again because we're VALUE investors and that's exactly what we do – we buy when things are cheap but that strategy doesn't work unless we also SELL when things are expensive and, as is now my theme for the week – things are getting expensive!  

  7. TEUM  – Up 18 % since Friday.  Covered a little more.

  8. S&P / Phil – Good point and someone actually calculated what happened with the original S&P companies over the years:

    Siegel provides a list of the original 500 companies in the S&P 500, as well as how they had performed up until the book was written (i.e., from 1957-2003).


    It looks a lot like a bell curve, but with one giant exception: There are a whole list of companies that went to zero. This does not occur with a normal distribution.

    Over this same period, the S&P 500 earned an annual return of 10.8%. In other words, 215 companies did better than the whole index. 285 did worse.

  9. Barr faces brutal hearing after Mueller revelation

  10. Big build in /CL

  11. TEUM/Albo – Nice call on them!  The magic beans are sprouting….

    S&P/StJ – That's what I mean.  Everyone tries to simplify things by saying "active is better" or "passive is better" but the truth is somewhere in between as SPY isn't actually passive.  Not surprising that, given 45 years, 10% of the companies go BK.  It is surprising how few did better than 15%, up 6x in 40 years shouldn't be that difficult but, again, you are getting into stocks AFTER they've already made gains big enough to be included in the S&P 500 so it's hard to get into big winners using that subset.  

    Oil even worse than API but not too much damage:

    • EIA Petroleum Inventories: Crude +9.9M barrels vs. +1.5M consensus, +5.5M last week.
    • Gasoline +0.9M barrels vs. -1.0M consensus, -2.1M last week.
    • Distillates -1.3M barrels vs. -0.2M consensus, -0.7M last week.
    • Futures -0.34% to $63.69.

    LOL on consensus.

  12. AAPL is going to start squeezing shorts if it pops $213.  

  13. By the way, we just covered AAPL in the Fund, had 100 longs and only 40 shorts, now 80 short calls covering as that is just too much money to leave on the table.

  14. Applechatter .. I took a bit of a chance and bought back my 20 AAPL short 2020 190c's yesterday for $22.4 (sold them at $21.8 May '18) as AAPL was down before earnings. Today they are up around 30 and I now have the 20- $150 2020 longs uncovered  :)

    Still have my 20 2021 140c's, short 10 – July 195c's which in hindsight I should have also bought back yesterday, but you never know (although it IS AAPL!).


  15. The Microbots Are on Their Way

  16. U.N.C. Charlotte Shooting Leaves 2 Dead and 4 Wounded

  17. Vigil planned after 2 killed, 4 wounded in campus shooting

  18. William Barr is in deep trouble

  19. Wing walker AAPL In the heat of the day sell the 140 hold the 150 against your 10 Jul 195 which still have Just under 2 $ of premium  and set up a now BCS Jan 21 as Phil suggested. AAPL will possible come down a bit after the inicial run.

  20. I don't know what country we leave in anymore. According to AG Barr, if you feel that you are being unfairly investigated, you should be allowed to obstruct an investigation and if they can't find any evidence to charge you because you obstructed, then it shows that you were right to obstruct.

    That a good defense strategy and I am sure will be the basis for many convictions for obstructions being overturned including Clinton's impeachment! What a joke…

  21. ARCC

    Ares Capital beats by $0.06  (17.67)

    Reports Q1 (Mar) earnings of $0.48 per share, $0.06 better than

     the S&P Capital IQ Consensus of $0.42.

    Stock is yielding 9%.  

    Back in February they raised the dividend by 7.6%.


  22. Oil failing $63!  

    AAPL/Wing – It's hard for me to figure out what you have from your narrative.  I'm guessing you have 20 2020 $150 calls and 20 2021 $140 calls and 10 short July $195s but it baffles me why you need two paragraphs to write what can clearly be described in about 50 characters (the way you've seen me describe things over 1,000 times) to turn things into a guessing game – especially when there are tens of thousands of Dollars at stake in a misunderstanding.  Anyway, assuming that's your position, as I said, we don't look a gift run in the mouth but, on the other hand, why be so deep in the money?   

    So I would cash the 2020 $150 calls at $65.50 ($131,000) and the 2021 $140 calls at $77.50 ($155,000) and pick up 50 of the JUNE 2021 $180 ($50)/220 ($28.25) bull call spreads for $21.50 ($107,500) and I'd roll the short July $195 calls at $21 ($21,000) to 20 short Aug $210 calls at $12.35 ($24,700) so, all in all, you'd be taking $182,200 off the table but you'd still have a $200,000 spread that's mostly in the money 40% covered by calls that, if all goes well, will let you collect about $25,000 for another 5 quarters ($125,000) so hopefully $325,000 more to collect and $182,200 to diversify with.  

    If AAPL goes up, you just roll the short calls (and you can certainly afford to buy more longs) and if AAPL goes down, you can sell puts and widen the spread by rolling the calls $10 lower for $5 whenever there's an opportunity.  Don't forget, 2022 will be out soon and you can always buy a higher spread with just some of the $182,000 you'll have in your pocket.

    Obstruction/StJ – I just can't even believe what is happening in this country.  It's the lack of outrage that bothers me the most.

    Meanwhile, FTR getting crushed as CC fails to inspire confidence:

    • Frontier Communications (NASDAQ:FTR) has sunk 26.8% on heavy volume after missing profit expectations, wiping out some $80M in market cap and adding fuel to bearish sell-siders for their negative takes on the company.
    • The decline today has erased gains of 43% that the stock made since the end of March.
    • "Continued customer losses remain a concern and represent a key headwind to the company's transformation initiatives," says Goldman Sachs' Brett Feldman, who's keeping a Street-low price target of $1.50 … still 28.6% below today's sharply lower price. (h/t Bloomberg)
    • Guggenheim is also still at Sell, noting revenue was weaker than expected and challenges both in the consumer and commercial sides of the business.
    • Earnings call slides
    • Earnings call transcript

    On the whole, we're back to our net $2.15 commitment (see yesterday's notes) and I don't think they'll be showing any signs of a turnaround this year so certainly not one we'll see a quick fix on.

    Still, in the OOP, we have flat out 6,000 shares at $3.47 so our choices are take a loss or DD and most likely we'll DD with another 6,000 at $2.10 (not today) and that makes our average $2.785 so, if we cover with the 2021 $3 calls at 0.85, we lower our base to $1.935 with the call-away at $3 so that's most likely our next move and the $3 puts can be sold for $1.60 and if we sell 60 of those that knocks our net down to $1.135 with a call-away at $3 and worst case is owning 18,000 shares at $1.67 ($30,060), which brings us down to even GS's most bearish target.  

    Even assuming that happens to us, if we can sell $2 calls for $1, our net drops to 0.67 with a $2 call away on 18,000 shares and we'd only be in for $12,060 after all that hand-wringing so, given that's our Future – I feel good about doubling down now rather than taking an $8,300 loss giving up, right?  On the whole, we're only risking another $4,000 loss to keep things alive (assuming they don't go BK faster than we can sell the calls).  

    Wow, almost Webinar time already! 

  23. Hey Phil that WAS my brief concise version (only 4 lines)   ;-)

    Thanks for the good suggestions – and Yodi.

    Concerned that if I sell both long calls now (2020 20-$150c and 2021 20-140c) it will trigger a large cap gains tax. Any good ways to alleviate this .. say hold one set until next yr?


  24. Powell not getting a good reaction as he brings up risk factors.  

    Keep in mind AAPL is adding 100 points to the Dow (and other indexes) so -40 points is really -140 (0.5%) so the markets are weaker than you think.  

    If the volume is high, I'd say funds are using AAPL strength to cover their tracks as they dump other stuff.

    • The FOMC, as expected, leaves the Fed Funds rate target range at 2.25%-2.50%.
    • The decision was unanimous.
    • Keeps outlook language the same in that the committee will "be patient as it determines what future adjustments to the target range for the federal funds rate may be appropriate."
    • Notes that "overall inflation and inflation for items other than food and energy have declined and are running below 2%."
    • Chairman Jay Powell's press conference is set for 2:30 ET. Live broadcast here.
    • "Economic growth and job creation have somewhat stronger than we expected," Fed Chairman Jerome Powell says in his opening comments for the press conference.
    • For March through December core inflation was at or close to 2%,  and at March fell to about 1.6% inflation for the past 12 months.
    • Powell says the committee feels that "transitory factors may be at work," in keeping inflation down. They see core inflation returning to 2% "over time."
    • Furthermore, he says risks to economic growth "have moderated somewhat."
    • Joseph Brusuelas, chief economist for RSM, comments that his base case is for no policy move until 2021.
    • Update at 2:46 ET: When asked about the potential for a rate cut, Powell won't rise to the bait, adding that financial conditions and vulnerabilities haven't changed a lot. "On balance, vulnerabilities are moderate," he said.
    • Update at 2:43 PM ET: In a technical move, the committee also trimmed the IOER to 2.35%; "It's a technical fix; it has no implication for policy," Powell said.
    • Update: On the Fed's balance sheet, the FOMC won't make a quick decision as it examines the composition of the balance sheet.
    • Check here for updates.
    • Live feed of press conference here.
    • Mondelez International (MDLZ +2.3%) appears to be the latest food/beverage company looking to add CBD products to its lineup.
    • CEO Dirk Van de Put says Mondelez will need clarity from the FDA before moving forward with adding a cannabis compound to either new or existing food items.
    • Lyft (NASDAQ:LYFTloses its challenge to NYC's $17.22/hour requirement for ride-hail drivers.
    • Lyft and competitor Juno filed the challenge in January arguing a utilization rate calculation embedded into the law will unfairly benefit Uber due to its larger market share.
    • Judge Andrea Masley says the suit isn't sufficient to overturn the rule.
    • Gannett (NYSE:GCI) — in the middle of a proxy challenge from activist investor MNG — is up 3.9% today after topping profit expectations in its Q1 report.
    • Revenue fell 8% to $663.4M, and that led to an operating loss that swelled to $6.4M from a year-ago loss of $339,000. But EBITDA rose 15% to $63.3M, and EBITDA margin rose to 9.5% from 7.6%.
    • Same-store operating revenues fell 9%. Total digital revenues hit $245.8M, or 37% of the total.
    • Revenue breakout: Advertising and marketing services, $365.2M (down 11%); Circulation, $252.7M (down 5.2%); Other, $45.5M (down 1.3%).
    • Revenue by segment: Publishing, $579.2M (down 9.3%); ReachLocal, $97.2M (up 0.7%).
    • EBITDA by segment: Publishing, $81.4M (up 4.7%); ReachLocal, $7.6M (up 22.9%).
    • For the full year, it's reiterating guidance for revenues of $2.74B-$2.81B (vs. consensus for $2.77B); EBITDA of $285M-$295M; and capex of $50M-$60M excluding real estate.
    • Previously: Gannett beats by $0.04, misses on revenue (May. 01 2019)
    • Press release
    • Gold miners likely will see an increase in buyout deals in the near future amid a fight to attract a shrinking pool of investment capital, Iamgold (IAG -3.1%) CEO Stephen Letwin says.
    • Dealmaking largely was dormant in the gold sector in recent years as companies focused on cutting costs, but "there are too many mid-tier miners. The capital pool is shrinking," Letwin said today at the Mines & Money conference in New York.
    • The CEO said IAG gets "a lot of interest" from Chinese investors but otherwise declined to comment about any potential deals that could involve his company.
    • Letwin also does not see gold prices rising sharply in the near future due to the continuing strength of the U.S. economy.
    So only 10 years until 630,000 workers get fired?  Amazon warehouses far from full automation
    • Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZNsays the tech for fully automating a single order is at least a decade away.
    • Scott Anderson, director of Amazon Robotics Fulfillment, during a warehouse tour for journalists: “In the current form, the technology is very limited. The technology is very far from the fully automated workstation that we would need."
    • Anderson says Amazon is exploring a variety of technologies to automate packing orders into boxes, but it won't happen anytime soon.
    • The comments come as labor groups and others criticize the tech giant for warehouse working conditions and increasing reliance on automation.
    • Walt Disney (DIS -0.1%) notes a new foreign milestone for its smash Avengers: Endgame,saying early estimates for today's May 1 holiday in China have a gross of 500M yuan (about $74M), bringing the cumulative China gross to 3.1B yuan ($463M).
    • That makes the film China's highest-grossing foreign film ever, surpassing The Fate of the Furious (from 2017, the eighth film in that franchise).
    • The film drew another $105.3M internationally on Tuesday, bringing the overseas take over $1B and the cumulative global gross to $1.48B as of yesterday.
    • Australia's iron ore exports rebounded in April after production was hit by a cyclone in the previous month, but the surge in shipments was not enough to offset declining volumes from Brazil ever since January's tailings dam disaster.
    • Australian exports totaled 69.1M metric tons in April, up 20% from 57.5M mt in March as shipments were disrupted by the cyclone, which closed ports and slowed mining operations in Western Australia state.
    • Brazilian iron ore shipments totaled 97.2M mt in the first four months of this year, down 13% from 111.9M mt in the same period in 2018; from 30.1M mt January, Brazil production has dropped steadily to 24.9M mt in February, 23.5M mt in March and just 18.7M mt in April.
    • Royal Caribbean (RCL +7.2%) rides higher after topping estimates on both lines of its Q1 report.
    • Net yields were reported at 7.2% during the quarter vs. +6.1% consensus and Royal Caribbean's guidance range of +5.5% to +6.0%.
    • Looking ahead, Royal Caribbean expects Q2 EPS of $2.45 to $2.50 vs. $2.48 consensus and full-year EPS of $9.65 to $9.85 vs. $9.94 consensus.
    • Sector peers Carnival (CCL +1.5%) and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH +4.8%) are also higher on the day.
    • Previously: Royal Caribbean Cruises beats by $0.20, beats on revenue (May 1)
    • Cameco (CCJ -2%) is lower after reporting an adjusted $33M Q1 loss compared with an adjusted $23M profit in the year-ago quarter.
    • CCJ says total Q1 revenues fell 32% Y/Y to $297M, with uranium sales sliding 17% to $207M while fuel services sales rose 30% to $83M.
    • The company sold 4.8M lbs. of uranium, down from 6.6M lbs. a year ago, with an average realized price of $42.80/lb., down from $54.13/lb. in the same quarter last year.
    • "Our results reflect the outlook we provided for 2019 and the normal quarterly variation in contract deliveries, which are weighted to the second half of the year," CEO Tim Gitzel said.
    • Havertys Furniture (HVT -16%) slides after missing Q2 estimates by a wide margin.
    • Comparable sales fell 4.7% during the quarter after analysts expected a small gain of 0.8%. Comparable written sales were down 2.0% in the period.
    • CEO update: "Our first quarter sales fell short of our expectations. The tariff imposition has been disruptive, particularly to our important motion upholstery category and some key dining and bedroom collections. Our merchandising and supply chain teams, along with our suppliers, have worked to reach a more predictable flow of goods which we expect will be normalized by the end of the second quarter."
    • Looking ahead, Havertys expects gross profit margins of about 54.6% for the full year.
    • Previously: Haverty Furniture misses by $0.10, misses on revenue (April 30)
    • An EU trade lawyer fired withering put-downs at U.S. claims for damages due to subsidies for Airbus (OTCPK:EADSY +0.2%) in a recording of a dispute hearing made available by the World Trade Organization.
    • He described some U.S. claims in the case as “frankly childish” and said some of the data appeared to have been provided Boeing.
    • Following almost 15 years of litigation at the WTO, both planemakers were found to have received illegal subsidies. Each side now wants to gain the upper hand by winning the right to trade sanctions to compensate for economic damage.

    • Curaleaf Holdings (OTCPK:CURLF) announces a deal to purchase the the cannabis business of Cura Partners (owners of the Select brand) in an all-stock deal valued at just under $1B.
    • Based in Portland, OR, Select's THC products are sold in more than 900 retailers in states like CA, AZ, OR, and NV.
    • Curaleaf will issue about 95.6M shares to Cura owners as consideration.
    • Source: Press Release

    This is what's stuck in my head:

  25. AAPL/Wing – You need to check with tax adviser but what if you sold the 2020 $160 calls and 2021 $150 calls to cover and recovered almost all the money and left the $10 spreads?  Should be no margin on the remaining spreads and gains remain long-term.  With that much money in play though, you should look into forming an LLC, Family Office or electing trader status so you don't have to worry about that sort of nonsense.  

  26. I think Powell was very rational.  Market didn't like it too much but nice, balanced view is comforting to me.

  27. Down and down into the close – not pretty. 

  28. Using weakness in IIVI to add to position.


    II-VI misses by $0.03, reports revs in-line; guides Q4 EPS in-line,

     revs below consensus.


    Still holding a FNSR position.

  29. And without AAPL, this would have been a very ugly day!

  30. The Fed Is the Bubble

  31. Personal Income Declining in US

  32. 300 points is plenty on /YM – don't be greedy!  

  33. "Annaly Capital (NYSE:NLY) slips 1.0% in after-hours trading after pre-announcing a quarterly dividend of 25 cents per share, down from its prior dividend of 30 cents, for Q2 and for the rest of 2019."

  34. Still a 10% dividend on them. Should not hurt much…