Sign up today for an exclusive discount along with our 30-day GUARANTEE — Love us or leave, with your money back! Click here to become a part of our growing community and learn how to stop gambling with your investments. We will teach you to BE THE HOUSE — Not the Gambler!

Click here to see some testimonials from our members!

Faltering Thursday – Rally Grinds to a Halt as We Wait for More Stimulus

Oil is back over $15.

As you can see from the chart, the number of people piling into the Oil ETF (USO) is skyrocketing as the price becomes an apparent bargain, now $2.50 but the ETF is broken and now it's a chicken and egg thing as the bargain-hunters buy USO and that forces USO to buy oil contracts which has NOTHING To do with the fundamentals of oil but drives up the price of oil briefly but USO MUST dump the contracts (as they don't take delivery) by the end of the month at any price and that dump has rules and those rules can then be taken advantage of by traders who profit off the rollover.  Given the situation – I think we'll have to dump out of USO for the duration – long before the month ends.  

Stock price graphsThe ETF is reverse-splitting 1 for 8 as of April 29th, so we'll have to be out by then as it's more likely than not that oil will plunge into negative numbers again at the May, taking USO down with it, no matter what price they reset it too.  So far, Trump has offered to buy 75M barrels of oil for the SPR and Trump has attempted to raise hostilities with Iran in attempts to boost the price of oil and it's working somewhat, with oil back to $15 but we just had a 25M barrel build in inventores yesterday so even if they fill the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to the brim – we still can't handle 4 more weeks of build like that!

Keep in mind the chart above represents all the storage in the US and we're only 20M barrels below the all-time high.  They may find SOME additional storage but it's doubtful they find 50M (10%) more barrels worth to take us up to 600M – there's a limit to how many broom closets refineries can fill up.  Even more immedite is the storage situation at the US's main hub in Cushing, OK, which has a very well-defined capacity of 80M barrels.  

Figure 2. Cushing, Oklahoma commercial crude oil inventories

At least, that's what it says on the tanks but the tanks aren't designed to operate 100% full so it won't be very long before we find out what the physical limit actually is.  It's like if you have an 8-ounce glass, if you actually put 8 ounces of water in it, it will spill out at the slightest movement so it's impractical to do so.  We've never gone much over 70Mb at Cushing, so this is going to get very interesting very soon and if Cushing can't take any more oil – it doesn't matter how much oil the rest of the country can store as Cushing is the hub that sends oil out to 40% of the other storage areas.  

We're already seeing half the oil rigs going off-line as they can't afford to operate anyway and 69% of the Fracking Rigs are off-line too – as they are the most expensive way to extract a barrel of oil which cost you $38.50 to pay someone to take it away on Monday - that's not a recipe for a successful business model, is it?

Figure 1. U.S. May 2020 Wesr Texas Intermediate futures contactDespite all the cutbacks in drilling, yesterday the US had a 15M barrel build in Crude, a 1M barrel build in Gasoline and a 7.9M barrel build in Distillates and another 1.7M barrel build in "Other Oils" according to the Petroleum Status Report.  That is WITH the export of 3.6M barrels per day of refined products to other countries and what happens when they run out of storage capacity too?   That oil can then back up and flood the US with millions more barrels than the rig shut-down will save.

In other words, it's best not to play oil at the moment as it's a broken market and, while it's tempting to guess what will happen next, you have a President willing to plunge our county into war with Iran in the middle of a pandemic in order to prop up the prices for his friends – that makes things very hard to predict.  

President Trump tweeted early Wednesday that he has directed the Navy to fire upon Iranian "gunboats" that "harass" U.S. ships, which drove oil higher and Gasoline Futures (/RB) through the roof (we're long) so thanks for that.  Former Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said the tweet likely does not change the rules of engagement because the Pentagon requires formal orders rather than "orders from Tweets."  The United States has not defined harassment as a "direct threat."  He posited that the president is "trying to distract from Covid-19."

While our 2 /RB long contracts are up over $9,000 each (stop at 0.725 goes up to 0.75 if we cross 0.775) that was a very obvious play from when gasoline plunged with oil on Monday but it's far too dangerous to bet on things in the middle of the channel – not with oil swinging from +$25 to -$35 in two days (and back to $15 now)!  

What is oil really worth?  Nothing if we're making more of it than we can use.  Unlike most commercial inventory, you can't have a 2 for 1 sale on oil to increase demand over the short run.  As noted in a very good Bloomberg article where the reporter attempted to purchase an actual barrel of oil – it's not something most people would want to do – at any price. 

That then brings us to the question of what stocks are really worth in a World where no one goes shopping or leaves their homes?  While we all HOPE this will be over soon – what if it's not?  I had a fun theory in yesterday's Live Trading Webinar that Netflix (NFLX) may have a broken model as they expect you to watch maybe 4 hours a day of shows and, by the time you watch 1,460 hours worth of content (1 year), they'll have some new content for you to keep you interested. 

But what happens to NFLX if you watch 16 hours of shows a day for 90 days?  That's 1,440 hours right there and now, in months 4-12, you find yourself looking at NFLX and saying "I've seen it all".  Not literally ALL of their content but all the content that YOU are even mildly interested in and, by then, you have checked and the rest of the shows clearly do suck and you can't believe your Mom even likes the one she said you "must watch" – what is wrong with her?

CoronavirusAnyway, Netflix's subscription model assumes there's always going to be something to keep you interest but there are no shows in production and no films being released and people are chewing through content at a ridiculous pace.  I think that makes it very, very hard to justify NFLX's current $185Bn valuation at $421 as they only made $2Bn last year and $700M last quarter in which they added 16M subscribers but, rather than be all excited about the additions – how about we consider that during a global pandemic in which 4Bn people can't leave their homes, ONLY 16M of them were finally pushed to sign up for NFLX.

Even if we assume NFLX makes $3Bn this year (up 50%) and $5Bn next year as we remain shut in forever and they never run out of content, etc… That's still pricing them at 37 times ridiculously optimistic forward earnings.  I think the run above $400 is ridiculous so for our Short-Term Portfolio, let's make the following play:

  • Buy 5 NFLX June $480 puts for $72 ($36,000) 
  • Sell 5 NFLX June $420 puts for $33 ($16,500) 
  • Sell 1 Sept $450 calls for $40 ($4,000) 

That's net $15,500 on the $30,000 spread so our break-even is right about $450 and anything below that will be profit.   The ordinary margin on the short call is just $3,737 so the market hasn't totally lost it's mind but we should set a stop on those short calls at $6,000, which would be over $450 as it wouldn't be worth the risk and then we'd have a net $21,500 cost on the $30 spread that we'd either adjust or give up on.

So a bit risky but fun to play! 

Be careful out there.  


Do you know someone who would benefit from this information? We can send your friend a strictly confidential, one-time email telling them about this information. Your privacy and your friend's privacy is your business... no spam! Click here and tell a friend!

Comments (reverse order)

    You must be logged in to make a comment.
    You can sign up for a membership or log in

    Sign up today for an exclusive discount along with our 30-day GUARANTEE — Love us or leave, with your money back! Click here to become a part of our growing community and learn how to stop gambling with your investments. We will teach you to BE THE HOUSE — Not the Gambler!

    Click here to see some testimonials from our members!

  1. Phil – oil


    Is there any way to play oil then?  Are any of the other ETF's better?  Not touching futures

  2. Good morning!

    (subbing in for 1020) (are you okay, 1020?)

  3. Good morning! 

    It's a lovely FREE MONEY day so no reason for the markets to sell off just yet but tomorrow is Friday and we don't want to get caught without more shorts so we are going to add to our SQQQ #2 position in the STP – as we discussed yesterday in the Webinar:

    SQQQ Short Call 2021 15-JAN 35.00 CALL [SQQQ @ $13.15 $-1.30] -65 3/9/2020 (267) $-52,650 $8.10 $-5.20 $-14.65     $2.90 $-0.58 $33,800 64.2% $-18,850
    SQQQ Short Put 2021 15-JAN 20.00 PUT [SQQQ @ $13.15 $-1.30] -15 1/17/2020 (267) $-6,900 $4.60 $6.65     $11.25 $0.45 $-9,975 -144.6% $-16,875
    SQQQ Long Call 2022 21-JAN 10.00 CALL [SQQQ @ $13.15 $-1.30] 105 4/14/2020 (638) $65,100 $6.20 $0.15     $6.35 $-0.50 $1,575 2.4% $66,675

    So we're going simply add 95 2022 $10 calls at $6 ($57,000 – because it's easier for me to do math with an even 200 longs) and we're going to sell 100 of the Jan (2021) $35 calls at $3 ($30,000) so for net $27,000 we're buying $110,000 more protection at $21 (a 20% drop in the Nasdaq) which brings us back to around $300,000 at $21 and another $150,000 at $26 (30% drop) and still room for another $180,000 at $35 but let's hope we never actually see that as the World would be ending.

    I think that's a fair trade for being able to leave our LTP positions on over the weekend!  

    Oil/Jeff – There's no good way to play oil other than XOM or VLO if you want to be bullish.  Both companies benefit from a rise in oil but also hedge and also benefit (to some extent) from low oil prices.  Not that they can't go down 50% but at least there's an actual company there while oil is simply a commodity where you are just gambling on the price others are willing to pay (like BitCoin) – the greater fool theory in action.  Don't be a fool.  

    Pity The Fool GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

  4. Good Morning.

  5. Good Morning Snow – Just enjoying a second cup of JO with the wife… :)

  6. The coffee is brought to you by these guys….


  7. I've made some $$ with UCO. Twice as nice and appears to behave better than USO…

    (they have already split)

  8. Mayor called reckless for urging Vegas to test reopening

  9. GOP Debt Hypocrisy

  10. 1020 — do they have the same issue as USO with the front month contracts?

  11. With lobbying push, gyms get on Phase One of Trump’s reopening plan

  12. China buys crude as prices collapse, adding to stockpiles

  13. jeffl – I don't think so, though I have been only trading the stock.

  14. Phil/Pharm/JNUG

    reverse spilt 1:10?


  15. (sorry for repost? having some issues)

    Phil / NFLX vs VIAC

    morning !  (thanks for the info on CARR – agreed) 

    Your NFLX post got me thinking and I wondered, purely from a sentiment standpoint about the potential problems and how they could impact VIAC. Both facing a complete halt in new productions, NFLX seems to have the larger back catalogue and more of a reputation for streaming. VIAC has lost sports, ad revenue has substantially dried up (all of my colleagues / competitors in advertising are running on fumes, as no new productions and the 'emotional music, "in times like these, we're here for you"' concept is already beaten to death). People cutting cable. 

    I fully appreciate VIACs survival track record, their sheer size – but the recent debt sales and huge layoffs have me worried.  

    I do remain bullish (sorry for talking in circles) but i wanted you to weigh in on why you think a company of this size and with this legacy would not be eaten up by value investors? why is it lagging on the hope rally?



  16. Biden was very good last night on James Corden but needs to not look so friggin' old!  

    He's 77, Trump is 73.  Elizabeth Warren is 70 – it would be nice to bring in some fresh young ideas like she has….  

    AOC is 30 – not even old enough to run for President yet. 

    Inside Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's Unlikely Rise | Time

    There's a reason the Republicans are spending a fortune and running CNBC's Michelle Caruso-Cabrera against here using the logic that now they have a woman with a Spanish name to throw at the district.  Smart!  

    JNUG/Pat – Another broken ETF that's splitting so they can keep attracting more money?  Yes, looks like it.  Personally, I'm still pretty happy with GOLD – our Trade of the Year.  

    Why play an ETF full of garbage when you can just pick one excellent miner?  

    VIAC/Potter – Well they took on debt at a bad time but they will survive it and, down the road, they are still a massive entity that will adapt with the times.  They don't own sports – they just broadcast them and they will broadcast something else at some point if they have to.  The fact that they can do mass layoffs and keep running is a plus (from a stock standpoint), not a minus – it's called "cutting expenses" and they have tons of assets they can sell in a real pinch but, holy crap, it's been 45 days and you want to call them dead?   


  17. ViacomCBS Inc. (NASDAQ: VIAC, VIACA) today announced that it would redeem all of its outstanding 4.30% senior notes due February 15, 2021 (the "4.30% senior notes") and all of its outstanding 4.500% senior notes due March 1, 2021 (the "4.500% senior notes"). The redemption date for the 4.30% senior notes is May 4, 2020 and the redemption date for the 4.500% senior notes is May 18, 2020.

    Earnings are May 7th, so we'll see. 

  18. Good morning, All! The webinar replays are now up!



  19. thanks Phil,  

    im a little confused on the redeeming notes concept.. what does that mean exactly

  20. USO Jun 2 puts are 0.20 and you can bet collapsing oil prices bankrupts this issue with a 10 to 1 payoff

  21. Phil – best hedge for protecting $500K in NYSE stocks through Sept?

  22. I am not dead, but been overwhelmed with work. So far, we have been lucky and in fact we are getting more deals than before because our application is made to facilitate remote work!

    If people are interested in the world of translation and how it is dealing with Covid-19, we have organized a 12-hour online conference to span the globe that is currently the largest in the industry so far. It's on Zoom where we had over 1000 people at 4:00 AM EST but you can stream from YouTube here -

  23. Speaking of Democrats the GOP loves to hate:


    Oh no, what a bad man!  

    Now THIS is leading! 

    Notes/Potter – They are just paying off outstanding debt early, probably they'll issue new, longer-term debt at better rates but it just shows they are getting on top of things and taking advantage.  

    USO/BDC – The split will make it strange and possibly hard to sell.

    Now, I don't want to be accused of being biased so here's Trump's side of the story.  He reports, you decide…

    States rushing to reopen are probably making a deadly mistake, experts warn


    By the end of the week, residents in Georgia will be able to get their hair permed and nails done. By Monday, they will be cleared for action flicks at the cineplex and burgers at their favorite greasy spoon.

    And it will almost certainly lead to more novel coronavirus infections and deaths.

    As several states — including South Carolina, Tennessee and Florida — rush to reopen businesses, the sudden relaxation of restrictions will supply new targets for the coronavirus that has kept the United States largely closed down, according to experts, math models and the basic rules that govern infectious diseases.

    “The math is unfortunately pretty simple. It’s not a matter of whether infections will increase but by how much,” said Jeffrey Shaman, a leading epidemiologist at Columbia University.

    There are no easy answers for the phase that comes next, especially with a continued lack of testingcontact tracing and detailed guidance from federal health agencies, disease experts said. Instead, every state will conduct its own improvised experiment with thousands of lives in the balance.

    Georgia, according to some models, is one of the last states that should be reopening. The state has had more than 830 covid-19 deaths. It has tested less than 1 percent of its residents — low compared with other states and the national rate. And the limited amount of testing so far shows a high rate of positives at 23 percent.

    On Monday, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) explained his decision to reopen tanning salons, barber shops, massage parlors and bowling alleys, saying: “I see the terrible impact of covid-19 on public health as well as the pocketbook.” 

    “We can’t wait until there’s a cure to this,” said Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R), who plans to reopen some businesses after a stay-at-home order expires Monday. “We can’t wait until every single person can get tested every single day to open up our economy.”


    “As a country, we’re unprepared not just logistically but mentally for this next phase,” said Michael T. Osterholm, a University of Minnesota infectious-disease expert. He worries most Americans do not grasp the long, hard months facing them and the likelihood of repeated surges of the virus.

    “For a while, people were told all we need is to get past the peak. Then, they started hearing all we need is testing. Meanwhile, the president keeps telling everyone that things are going to reopen in a matter of weeks,” Osterholm said. “The way you prepare people for a sprint and marathon are very different. As a country, we are utterly unprepared for the marathon ahead.”

    This is the central problem: The vast majority of Americans are still believed to be uninfected, making them like dry kindling on a forest floor. Barring a vaccine or treatment, the virus will keep burning until it runs out of fuel.

    Models suggest that opening prematurely increases the likelihood that communities will have to shut back down once infections reach a certain level, creating multiple open-shut cycles. Adding to those concerns, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday that a second wave of infections next winter would be even more devastating because it would coincide with flu season.

    A recent case study — published by the CDC — examined how a single patron infected nine others at an air-conditioned restaurant in China. The infected person, a 63-year-old retired woman, did not begin running a fever and coughing until after her lunch Jan. 24 at the Guangzhou restaurant. But over the next two weeks, it became apparent the virus had spread to four diners at her table and to five people sitting at adjacent tables roughly three feet away.

    Researchers studying the seating arrangements believe an air-conditioning unit propelled tiny viral droplets over distances that are normally safe between the tables.

    Milton said measures to make such a situation safe would include a ceiling fan paired with better air filtration and ultraviolet lights that kill germs. But he noted such measures would need to be designed to suit specific establishments.

    A study published in the journal Nature Medicine last week estimated that people infected with the novel coronavirus are contagious almost two and a half days before symptoms appear — and that peak contagiousness occurs about 17 hours before people start feeling sick. In a sample of patients from China, the study estimated 44 percent of cases spread from person to person before symptoms appeared.


    Given the dangers involved in reopening, what states desperately need are a warning system and suppression tool to prevent infections from cresting again into the deadly peaks the United States saw in March and April.

    But states are jumping into their experiments without the two tools deployed by almost every other advanced nation: massive testing and contact tracing.

    Similarly, local health departments, decimated by decades of budget cuts, lack the money and the hundreds of thousands of workers needed to trace and quarantine everyone who comes into contact with infected people.


    By pushing responsibility for the pandemic response and reopening onto the states, experts said, Trump has freed himself to play the role of criticizer-in-chief. Already, he is criticizing governors for not reopening immediately, but if cases rise uncontrollably, he can criticize state leaders for reopening too early or mishandling it.

    “It might be a clever and effective political strategy, but it leaves our country without any way to pull itself out of the current mess,” said Jeremy Konyndyk, who was in charge of U.S. foreign disaster assistance during the Obama administration.

  24. Phil – hedges

    I know you have gone over the hedging system 1000+ times… so my question is not directly about that.

    My portfolio got pretty destroyed and I'm working  back out of it mainly because my SQQQ hedge spreads didn't work — I was unable to cash out the long portions of them because of the insane margin requirements of keeping the short calls open so I had to liquidate some of my short put positions at a massive loss.  I tried to keep my positions and hedges 'proportional' to the portfolios but maybe there are different margin requirements (???) – because I sure thought I had ample cash to deploy or re-position as well but it was eaten up my all the increased margin requirements.  So here I sit — everyday trying to improve my current positions but I still need another way to hedge besides the SQQQ spreads because they were pretty useless to me as they didn't increase in value even as I had the 15/30 spread when SQQQ was at 29!

    Would it make sense to buy OTM long calls?  Like June 20's @ 1.20 and no spread so I could cash them on a sudden dip? Just thinking out-loud and trying to learn from my expensive mistakes…

  25. Should PSW be supporting this??

    BitChute is a video hosting service founded in 2017. It was created to allow video uploaders to avoid content rules enforced on other platforms, such as YouTube. The platform accommodates far-right individuals and conspiracy theorists; with the Southern Poverty Law Center saying the site hosts "hate-fueled material".Wikipedia

  26. jeffl – SQQQ hedges – I also got killed on the sqqq hedges.  TOS margin was over $3000/contract for a while for the short SQQQs so selling the long 15s didn't cover the margin required for the uncovered shorts.

  27. Hedge/Tangled – Well I just added the SQQQ so that's the one I like best at the moment. I doubt the NYSE falls without the Nas coming down too.  

    Glad to hear the business is still going, StJ – we are very fortunate to be able to do our jobs during this disaster.  

    SQQQ/Jeff – They are only protection against a move that goes down and STAYS down, they don't pay off in the short run.  The best thing you can do is to not take so much risk on the long side – especially if you don't have the margin.  Buying June $20s for $1.20 with SQQQ at $12.70 means that, unless the S&P falls 20% by June, you are out the $1.20 and that's fine, as long as your long positions will pay you more than $1.20 if the S&P does not fall 20% by June – otherwise – you're better off not playing at all!

    As we discussed in yesterday's Webinar, VIAC 2022 $10 ($8.50)/17 ($5.50) bull call spreads are $3 and VIAC is at $15.43 so they spread is $5.43 in the money and pays $7 (+133%) if VIAC is over $17 in Jan, 2022.  That spread requires no margin and has a net Delta of 0.77/0.62 so 0.15 per $1 move is 5% of the spread for each 6.6% move in the stock so it loses less on the way down and makes less on the way up – it hardly needs a hedge at all.  

    If you just play for simple things like that and don't mess around with risky, high-margin plays – then you have a very limited need to hedge and no need at all for margin and, unless I'm really out of touch – 133% in 20 months is still considered a decent return on your investment.

    IBM 2022 $110 ($22)/135 ($11) bull call spread is net $11 and is $11 in the money with a $14 (127%) upside potential.

    GOLD 2022 $17 ($12)/$25 ($8) bull call spreads are $4 and pay $8 (100%) and that spread is 100% in the money now.

    T 2022 $28 ($4.80)/$35 ($2) bull call spreads are $2.80 and pay $7 (+150%) at $35 and are $2 in the money.

    See, plenty of things to buy without margin.  

    BitChute/Edro – Well it's the first I'm hearing about it since it's just some platform Greg picked as a backup and I don't know if we are "supporting" them as I think it's a tool that we use for free, as do far-right whoevers and whatevers that are also found on YouTube and pretty much any place that allows free speech.  You've activated my long-dormant ACLU receptors because I used to work with those guys and it's always an ethical struggle but, on the whole, we're pretty sure we don't like censorship in any form and yes, that means you have to go to court defending the Nazi's right to march in Times Square but that is exactly the way in which we are NOT like them – they would not do the same for us.  You may take a lot of hard rights to the face when you turn the other cheek and you may even lose the fight – but the example you set for generations to come is what really changes the World.  

    TOP 25 FREEDOM OF SPEECH QUOTES (of 460) | A-Z Quotes

    Quotes about Right of speech (86 quotes)

    The New Home Of Intolerance To Free Thought And Free Speech ...

    Martin Luther King, Jr. quote: Curtailment of free speech is ...

    free speech - Quotations | WIST

  28. edro00 and jeffl

    I suffered a similar problem with margin increase.

  29. SQQQ/Edro – We knew they were going to raise the margin, that's why we had those QQQ hedges as an alternative.  But then we closed those out after the crash as we were under the impression the danger had mostly passed.  SDS is also a lower-margin solution to SQQQ but SQQQ still works best if you have the margin for it.  


    Hi Phil,

    You mentioned looking at 2X ETF's for hedge protection in one of the last posts from yesterday since TOS is making the 3X's to difficult to use. Any of the 2X's look appealing to mitigate/protect part of a portfolio?


    Phil March 11th, 2020 at 12:24 pm | (Unlocked) | Permalink 

    2x ETFs/Sun – While the 3x ETFs are fun, we can use options to leverage anything.  In the STP, we have the SQQQ Jan $25/35 bull call spreads at $2.50 so they make 300% on a 40% gain in SQQQ, which would be a 13% drop in QQQ.

    So now we look for a similar play in QQQ and it's at $197.30 and we could pick up the Jan $190 ($19.25)/175 ($13.75) bear put spreads for $5.50 and they pay $15 at $175 (10% drop) so to get $60,000 back (same as STP play) you need 40 contracts for $22,000 and then you can offset $7,000 of that with some short puts like 7 AAPL 2022 $160 puts for $10 ($7,000), which only require $5,000 in margin (but it would grow if AAPL goes down a lot).  

    That would be net $15,000 on the $60,000 spread so nice protection and you can also sell 10 QQQ April $175 puts for $5 ($5,000) to start knocking off the $15,000 cost.  I'd keep a stop on 5 of them at $7.50 and that would only cost you $1,250 and you could easily roll the rest – even in a 20% drop.

    Let's add that to the STP to compare it to our SQQQ spread.  

  30. Phil's spot on about BitChute… It's free, it's in addition to YouTube, and every so often YouTube goes on a kick about something and boots creators and drops videos and demontitizes, etc. and I wanted somewhere else public to drop the full videos.

    If anyone has any other suggested sites that fit my criteria (primarily public and free without many limits to file size, number of vids, etc), I'll gladly look into it…

  31. Notice how the RUT is catching up today with a 2.5% gain.  As I said, herky-jerky.  

  32. /CL at $17.50 but it's not helping USO too much at $2.77.  That's the problem, down 85% goes from $13 to $2 but then up 100% only goes from $2 to $4 – so USO is broken.  

  33. I expect to feel dumb when I hear the answer but I do not understand your SQQQ only works if it goes down and stays down.  You have a spread going out almost 2 years.  Seems very unlikely QQQ falls 20% and stays down for that long.  What am I missing?

  34. This is getting into Red versus Blue now. This country is being torn apart by these jackasses. Forget about the stock market, it's the country we have to worry about.

    Earlier on Wednesday, McConnell’s office had issued two press releases on his interviews on Fox News and Hugh Hewitt’s radio show. Both releases had sections on “Stopping Blue State Bailouts” and “Preventing Blue State Bailouts” that quoted the Republican leader’s complaints about assisting Democratic regions of the country amid the pandemic.

    Red states get bailed out every year by blue states who contribute more to the budget that they do! And when was the last time we heard people in blue states complain about the fact that hurricanes hit red states most of the time? Wow… #Bluxit!

    • Las Vegas Sands (LVS +11.0%) is the leading gainer in the casino sector after reporting solid Q1 results considering the circumstances.
    • "LVS’ 1Q wasn’t nearly as bad as feared despite significant shutdown and travel- related headwinds. More important were several encouraging discussion points on the future, including re-opening Macau in May, its balance sheet strength and liquidity, its ability in a near zero rev. environment to invest $3.7bn in growth capex, and, a new twist, an interest in considering accretive M&A opportunities," notes Nomura Instinet analyst Harry Curtis.
    • Curtis was referring to the below statement by Las Vegas Sands execs on the earnings conference call (transcript).
    • LVS: "We are looking to see high quality assets where they are in key markets where it may be cheaper to buy them to build, and you may find something that is attractive and fits into our overall strategy in the long run, and I think we're going to be very returns focused."
    • That M&A talk could apply to Wynn Resorts (WYNN +8.8%) and Melco Resorts & Entertainment (MLCO +5.4%), which feature plenty of high-quality casino assets.
    • Preliminary results from a New York State study showed a 13.9% incidence of COVID-19 antibodies in 3,000 samples representing a total population of 19.5M (implying ~2.7M people exposed).
    • The exposure rate jumped to 21.2% in New York City (implying ~1.8M people have been exposed).
    • MGM Resorts International (MGM +4.5%) expects Q1 net revenue of $2.3B, a 29% Y/Y decrease, due to the continued impact of the outbreak of COVID-19.
    • Sees net revenues at MGM China down 63% to $272M
    • The company expects quarterly operating income of $1.3B, compared to $370M in the prior year quarter, primarily driven by a $1.5B net gain related to the MGM Grand Las Vegas/Mandalay Bay real estate transaction.
    • Projects net income of $807M, including the gain, compared to net income attributable to MGM Resorts of $31M in last year quarter
    • Consolidated Adjusted EBITDAR decreased 61% to $295M, primarily attributable to the temporary suspension of casino operations
    • Regarding its Q2 dividend, management intends to recommend a nominal dividend of $0.01 per share or less
    • Press Release
    • Amazon (AMZN +1.5%) employees have used third-party seller data to develop competing products, according to WSJ sources.
    • Against Amazon's public policy, the employees created detailed reports using e-commerce platform data, including total sales, Amazon's profit on the sale, and how much the independent seller paid Amazon for advertising.
    • The WSJ viewed an employee-created report on car-trunk organizer company Fortem. The report included 25 columns of detailed sales and marketing information.
    • Amazon Basics launched similar trunk organizers last October.
    • Amazon's private-label business includes more than 45 brands and 243K products. The e-commerce giant says that private label accounts for about 1% of its $158B in annual retail sales.
    • Former execs say they were told that Amazon brands should account for more than 10% of retail sales by 2022.
    • Amazon says accessing data as described in the report violates its policies. The company has launched an internal investigation.
    • General Motors (GM +2.6%) plans to start calling in some workers to its U.S. factories next week to help prepare the sites for vehicle production again, according to Detroit Free Press.
    • GM is working with the UAW and government officials on safety protocols to lower the risk of exposure to the highly-contagious COVID-19. Underlining that concern, meat plants in the Midwest have reported outbreaks and deaths from COVID-19 over the last week.
    • GM and Ford (NYSE:F) haven't issued an official restart timeline yet for U.S. plants, while Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (NYSE:FCAU) says it intends to restart production on May 4.
    • European automakers are also slowly coming on line with limited production scheduled for the next two weeks at many sites that were closed due to the pandemic.
    • Amid the uncertainty brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, credit card companies are offering customers relief in the form of waiving fees and adjusting payment schedules, but they're also keeping a tighter rein on spending limits.
    • Discover Financial Services (DFS +0.8%) is tightening underwriting strategies for new accounts as well as credit line management, the company said in a filing late yesterday.
    • The company is also reducing its marketing activities amid the pandemic, which may hurt its ability to attract new customers and increase market share.
    • Meanwhile, Synchrony Financial (SYF +3.0%), which handles credit card programs for J.C. Penney, Gap, and American Eagle Outfitters, said in its conference call on Tuesday that it's using "internal and credit bureau triggers to dynamically reevaluate the customers' creditworthiness."
    • And it's using technology to watch out for "high risk behavior" in an effort to keep delinquencies under control.
    • General Electric (GE +3.6%) moves higher despite getting two analyst price target reductions, as a lot of bad news already is priced into the shares.
    • "Aerospace related headwinds in particular [are] an evolving headwind that could materially pressure results vs. our prior expectation," Citigroup's Andrew Kaplowitz says in maintaining his Buy rating but cutting his price target to $9 from $11, which would be ~40% above current levels.
    • "We remain confident in CEO Larry Culp's leadership and ability to drive significant changes across the company, but with external headwinds mounting, we simply see incremental near-term pressure on top-line and earnings as unavoidable," Kaplowitz writes, cutting his 2020 and 2021 EPS to $0.20 and $0.45 from $0.40 and $0.65, respectively.
    • UBS analyst Markus Mittermaier also cuts his price target to $9 (from $12) and keeps his Buy rating; he assumes a return to 2019 commercial air travel demand in 2024 and lowers his 2020 and 2021 EPS estimates to a respective $0.08 and $0.41.
    • GE's aviation business is "stalled but not broken," says Bank of America's Andrew Obin, noting it could take years for demand for new planes to recover but the aftermarket parts-and-service business – where profit is higher than for new engines – should rebound much faster.
    • April Kansas City Fed Composite Index-30 vs. -17 in March.
    • Manufacturing Index -62 vs. -18 prior.
    • “Regional factory activity continued to decline in April, with our composite index falling to the lowest level in survey history as firms continued to be negatively impacted by COVID-19,” said Wilkerson. “Many firms also reported employment changes in response to coronavirus.
    • Seagate's (NASDAQ:STXQ3 gross margins worried analysts, leading to a couple of price target trims.
    • Wedbush (Neutral, PT from $51 to $49) notes the low margin gains and the lack of a rebound, which "leads to longer-term questions around the potential leverage in STX’s model."
    • Loop Capital Markets (Buy, PT from $70 to $60) remains structurally positive on STX despite the coronavirus headwinds.
    • Analyst Ananda Baruah: "The non-bull thesis will be challenging to entirely dispute here given lack of GM (despite COVID costs) and the potential for substantive IT spending slowdown in 2H20."
    • STX shares are down 2.9% to $49.28.
    • Alcoa (AA +5.3%) advances following Q1 results and its plan to shut the remaining 230K metric tons of "uncompetitive" smelting capacity at its Ferndale, Wash., facility.
    • "With primary aluminum demand expected to fall 13% in the U.S. in 2020, a response from one of the major producers was what the market needed," CRU Group's Doug Hilderhoff tells Bloomberg, but more capacity cuts are needed to avoid an increase in stockpiles that could keep prices under pressure for "several years."
    • Analysts remain cautious on Alcoa amid tough aluminum market fundamentals; B. Riley FBR's Lucas Pipes thinks the company's Q1 results were positive but the outlook for the next few quarters remains challenging as the global aluminum supply response to the downturn in demand has been minimal.
    • Alcoa's earnings show a slowing cash burn, but the company still needs aluminum price improvements, which is a key driver for the stock, says BMO analyst David Gagliano, adding that the outlook for underlying metal prices is increasingly challenged.
    • 30-year fixed-rate mortgage average 3.33% for the week ending April 23, 2020, up slightly from 3.31% in the previous week and vs. 4.20% at this time a year ago, according to the Freddie Mac Primary Market Survey.
    • “Mortgage rates have stabilized over the last few weeks as the market searches for direction in the fog of economic data,” said Freddie Chief Economist Sam Khater.
    • And while financial markets initially rallied on Fed support and improve with the Senate's passage of new small business stimulus, “we continue to see a deep economic contraction amidst uncertainty about the recovery formation.”
    • 15-year FRM averages 2.86% vs. 2.80% a week earlier and 3.64% a year earlier.
    • 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable rate mortgage averages 3.28% vs. 3.34% in the previous week and 3.77% a year ago.
    • Amid an overall stock market rebound, mortgage REITs and most homebuilders are on the rise.
    • ReWalk Robotics (RWLK -13.0%) is down on more than double normal volume on the heels of its national agreements with two top health insurers in Germany establishing coverage of its ReWalk 6.0 exoskeleton system for spinal cord injury patients.
    • The company says it has 20 cases in the pipeline there as a result of these agreements.
    • The stock's action looks like profit-taking after yesterday's 35% jump. Despite the down move, shares are still up 153% this month

  35. Oh, no, Gilead didn't come up with a miracle cure (yet), so the market takes a dive.

  36. SQQQ/Tangled – We are expecting to be able to unwind the spread and take the profits and leave the short puts.  We can do that because we have a ton of cash in the portfolios to do it with.  If you CAN'T do that and you just have the spread and you can't unwind it, then it's only going to be effective if the Nasdaq goes down and stays down but that's reasonable as the spread is there to allow you to NOT stop out of your longs so, if you leave the spread and leave the longs, then either the longs come back over 2 years and you make money there or they don't come back and THEN you have the spread money.  Unwinding is MUCH better though.  

    Solutions are take shorter-term spreads or take calendar spreads like our 2022/2021 SQQQ spreads (the one we just doubled down on today).  Still though, if SQQQ spikes up, the first thing I'll do is sell half the calls and leave all the puts and if the margin requirement on the short $35s goes from the current $40 per contract to $3,000 per contract, it will require $300,000 in margin to make that adjustment.  

    Bluxit indeed!  

    GILD/Snow – Yeah, so silly.  

    LMT better not tell anyone they didn't get cold fusion on the first try…

    I have not failed, but found 1000 ways to not make a light bulb ...


  37. Phil SQQQ

    I guess I thought I had plenty of margin to make those adjustments and wiggle room -- my cash balance was 60% of my TOS liquidation value when this started but it wasn't enough.  I only held a few naked puts but in hindsight they were very damaging.  DFS, MIDD, AVGO (which killed me to sell at a loss because I knew it would bounce right back!) 

    I do have many of those positions (at lower strikes actually) so I have been re-adjusting as things go 

  38. Margin/Jeff – It was a ridiculous move when they jammed up the margin requirements – it's amazing how callously they treat their clients – and then they are shocked that you decide to move to another platform, as if you should somehow be loyal to them!

    Speaking of SQQQ, the 2022 $10s came down to $5.90 and now that we've topped out, the Jan $35s should be back at $3.

  39. These margin moves have been honestly ridiculous – some positions that were not at risk where the puts and calls are basically ATM exploded – that happened to Palotay and I with VXX. 

  40. China’s New Coronavirus Cases Spur Fresh Limits

  41. ‘Florida Is a Terrible State to Be an Unemployed Person’

  42. Death sentence

  43. Margin charges. Phil even with a BCS of T TOS charges margin. One BCS Jan22 they take 93.00 PM margin! The same I mentioned before even on stock holdings they charge you margin. I find this ridiculous.You buy 100 shares of T they charge 446.00 margin.

  44. Hi Phil,

    Phil have you ever noticed the margin requirements so skewed over this past six weeks before with TOS? Is there a better platform out there that you use or recommend? This seems to be a real negative factor in trying to set up worthwhile hedges for those of us with smaller portfolios. 

  45. What strange action.  

    Not sure if we went down on GILD failure or if it was because NYC said maybe 16% of the population is infected – either one is very bad.  Still, now we're heading up again.  

    TOS/Yodi – You have to make money somewhere on those "free" trades.  It's all sickening and now they are saying Schwab may discontinue ToS – that will leave us with just IB really to trade with.  At least they give you 5x margin…

    ToS/Scout – The same thing happened in 2008, it's not just ToS but a lot of us are on it so we complain about them but, when the VIX spikes to 70, the margins go crazy.  

    In a smaller portfolio, avoid naked puts and calls and concentrate on nice, boring bull call spreads like the ideas I noted above.  I know it's frustrating to take two years to turn $50,000 into $100,000 – even if things go great but, if you make 50% a year consistently for 20 years, you turn $50,000 into $166M and that should be enough to keep you ahead of inflation – no matter how "boring" it seems!

    The hardest thing I try to teach people is PATIENCE.  It doesn't seem very exciting to make 20% a year but, even that on $50,000 over 20 years is $1.9M – you just have to get through those first.

    That's the problem.  In two years (at 20%) you have $72,000 from $50,000 and you think you'll never retire without cutting corners and 2 years later it's $103,680 – only a double after 4 years – there has to be a better way!   4 years after that (2028) you have 214,990 and now you feel like you wasted a decade but in 2030 (year 10) you have another $100,000 already at $309,586 and 2 years later (2032) it's $445,805 and 2034 is $641,959, 2036 is $924,421 and, from there on, each year you are adding 4x what you started with.  If $50,000 is your salary and you want to retire on a full salary – you've already blasted past your goal!

    BUT, you have to sit through those first few, boring years.  I suggest getting a hobby that isn't trading while sticking to nice, boring trades!

    Patience by jn300 - Meme Center

  46. Everybody who uses TOS should email Schwab they will close their accounts if TOS vanishes.

  47. By Bill Gates

  48. TOS/Tangled – Count me in on that campaign.  

  49. Hee is the usual marketing reply

    We anticipate combining the best features and services of both firms. Details on exactly what that will include are not available at this time, but it is very possible we will adopt TD’s existing trade platform or combine the best of both worlds when the time comes.. But no real details just yet.

  50. Oddly they have no email contact.  Just phone or chat.

  51. The Bug/Phil – "NYC said maybe 16% of the population is infected " – umm, Phil, those are sero-studies, antibodies. It means maybe 16% of the population had the infection and now are immune to it. This is good news.

  52. Admin / videos -  I suggest Dtube. Crypto security for posting (can never be deleted technically), and videos can earn coins. The coins are pretty much worthless now, but crypto recurseively values itself (tl;dr crypto is worth more as the ocial group it represents grows). You getting something for free anyway.

    I don't know if Bitchute monetizes like youtube (?). 


    Airdrop coming for their new coin here (airdrop means free coins):

    Steem was something I liked in 2016 but like a lot of crypto didn't pan out. I put $700 worth of bitcoin into steem, which is now worth maybe $150, and BTC went to $7000 + forks. Oops. However, the steem concept is a good one (self monetizing content with no centralized authority) so worth keeping an eye on.

  53. I'm looking at some trade ideas still for low-margin accounts.

    In the LTP, we have WBA, which was added as a Top Trade Alert Idea right before the crash on March 2nd:

    WBA definitely belongs back in the LTP so let's:

    • Sell 10 WBA 2022 $45 puts for $7 ($7,000) 
    • Buy 20 WBA 2022 $40 calls for $9.65 ($19,300)
    • Sell 10 WBA 2022 $55 calls for $4.50 ($4,500)

    That's net $7,800 on the $30,000 spread so the upside is $22,200 (284%) but lots of room to sell calls on a bounce or, if things do get worse, we can sell more calls and roll the $40s lower.  Lots of options.

    As you know, WBA is one of my table-bangers that I keep repeating on as I think it's just a really good deal down here.  So far, it has held up pretty well against the crash and we did add to the position but we didn't roll the long calls as we were happy with the $55 target.  Now the LTP has this:

    WBA Long Call 2022 21-JAN 40.00 CALL [WBA @ $43.62 $0.31] 40 3/3/2020 (638) $35,800 $8.95 $0.43 $8.95     $9.38 $0.28 $1,700 4.7% $37,500
    WBA Short Call 2022 21-JAN 55.00 CALL [WBA @ $43.62 $0.31] -10 3/2/2020 (638) $-4,050 $4.05 $-0.38     $3.68 $0.21 $375 9.3% $-3,675
    WBA Short Put 2022 21-JAN 45.00 PUT [WBA @ $43.62 $0.31] -10 3/2/2020 (638) $-7,100 $7.10 $3.55     $10.65 - $-3,550 -50.0% $-10,650
    WBA Short Call 2022 21-JAN 52.50 CALL [WBA @ $43.62 $0.31] -30 4/20/2020 (638) $-12,900 $4.30 $0.10     $4.40 - $-300 -2.3% $-13,200

    So it's a $55,000 spread that's currently priced at net $9,975 and will make $45,025 (451%) on cash if WBA is over $55 in Jan, 2022.  According to TOS, ordinary margin required for the short puts is $3,573 and we collected $7,100 for them so it would have been foolish not to do it if we had buying power to spare.

    But, not selling the puts only increases your cost to $20,650 and it's still a $55,000 spread and you'd still have $34,375 (166%) of upside potential at the same $55 (and most of the money comes at just $52.50).   That's how you take the margin (and the downside risk) out of a trade.  It's the risk of the short puts that we mainly have to hedge from, not the vertical spreads so, if you don't have a high-margin account – DON'T TRADE THEM!  

    As noted above, simply making a 20% annual return on your money will let most people retire comfortably in 20 years so making 166% on part of your money in 2 years is going to rocket you well ahead of that curve.  Without the short puts, the risk is clearly defined and the net Delta of the $40/52.50 spread is 0.61/0.38 or 0.21 so if WBA drops 20% ($9), your $5 spread will drop $1.89.

    So you know that if you put $5,000 into 10 WBA 2022 $40/52.50 bull call spreads, if all goes well you will get $12,500 (+150%) back in 2 years and, if not, you can lose up to $2,000 (40%), which is a perfectly acceptable loss for a 1/20th allocation block in a $100,000 portfolio.  

    If you have 5 trades like that, you risk $10,000 (10% of the portfolio) and, if they all work out, you stand to gain $37,500 (37.5%) in two years so you can allocate 25% of your $100,000 to 5 trades and, if all goes well, you are at your 20% goal (ish) for years one and two.

    Of course, if things are going very well and your are in the money 6 months from now, THEN you can allocate another $25,000 to 5 more sensible trades and then you could be on track to make well over $50,000, still in 2 years, with only $50,000 of your $100,000 committed and only $20,000 at risk (though the first set should be stopped out better than even so you risk just $10,000 or less).

    Now, let's say things don't go well and the market drops 20% and you lose $10,000.  That is NO BIG DEAL because you still have $90,000 of buying power left (no margin) but stocks are 80% off so, hopefully you can get back on track putting $25,000 back to work and rising another $10,000 loss on a drop but then the market will be 40% on sale and you'll still have $80,000 to spend which means that with $20,000 (5, $4,000 allocation blocks) you can buy 10 WBA $25/37.50 bull call spread for $4 (guessing) and that will still make $7,500 in two years if the market ever comes back.  

    If all you do after losing $20,000 and rebuying on a 40% drop is re-allocate $20,000 and making $37,500, you'd still end up with $117,500 after 2 years and all you did, after surviving a 40% market drop – is push your retirement plan back 1 year.

    Slow and steady wins this race and the less money you have to play with, the more important that concept is!  

  54. Snow- you seem to be the resident virus expert so perhaps you can answer a question. 

    Not sure I understand the implications of the herd immunity concept. Just suppose, loosening some restrictions spreads the virus and some percentage will get sick but most will not. As long as the process is slow, medical facilities would not be overtaxed and eventually the virus runs out of new hosts to infect. Since there is no near term vaccine and treatment regimen uncertain where is the problem with this scenario? 

  55. Low margin – You can also sell a put spread instead of the naked put. At least it locks in the max margin.

  56. Clarify- other than the obvious downside of getting sick vs. perhaps not getting sick under a continued lockdown. 

  57. Antibodies/Snow – Oh, that is good news then.  If they are no longer contagious then they act as a buffer and it also means that A LOT of people get the virus and never even notice.  Bodes well for getting through this thing but still would be nice to wait out a proper quarantine until we have better tests, masks and tracking.  

    Still, I'm up for going to a ball game!  

    Thanks BDC.  Looks like those BitCoins are perking up again.

    Herd/Pstas – There is no problem with that concept, that's what "flattening the curve" is all about. The same amount of people get it but they get it over a period of time that the medical facilities can handle.  Of course, you are still sacrificing lives for the economy but that may be a bit of a false choice as it's very likely that everybody will eventually get it anyway (unless they want to live in a bubble) so it's just a matter of when.  

    Flatten the curve: How one chart became a rallying cry against ...

    The problem is the measures to flatten the curve, which we've been taking for 45 days, have only gotten us to (hopefully) the early middle of the blue zone at best so 45 more days and we've done our job but any time we let people go too early and we risk that big spike up (though that risk diminishes over time).  

    The Las Vegas mayor wants her town to be guinea pigs for the country – I say let them if they all want it.  Let the Government pay for a one-month stay in Vegas for all the people who want the country opened up (there are about 250,000 empty hotel room so 500,000 people at $200/night for 30 days = $3Bn, which we could just consider stimulus) and then we'll see how that works out for them.

    Put spread/Daveo – That can work too.  If you have margin, it's kind of a waste but, if you don't – then extra cash if it works.

    Going back to WBA, you could sell the $40 puts for $8 and buy the $30 puts for $4 and get net $4 in your pocket and you get to keep it if WBA is over $40.  You will, however, be charged $10 in buying power for the spread (assuming you don't have a margin account).   That's why I don't like them, now I'm risking net $6 to make $4 so now I have to be right 2 out of 3 times to make money.  I realize the risk is unlimited without the cover but those losses are far better covered by the vast majority of the times when we make $8 from the naked put vs the once in a while we have to pay $20 back.  

    Of course, the problem is, when you have a black swan event like this – then you have to pay off a lot of those bad puts at once.  

  58. WBA/Phil – I appreciate your explanations about WBA. I figured out the hard way that I should not be selling puts :-)    I also appreciate it when you point out, about a particular trade, that it is relatively safe and conservative.  I'm mainly interested in safe, conservative investments.  Please try to continue to comment on the safety/conservativeness of trades.  Sometimes (most of the time) I can't really tell how "safe" something is, and could use some help. Thanks!

  59. You're welcome Sag. Just stay away from non-blue chips and naked puts or calls.  As noted above, it's about picking stocks with good fundamentals and we can find a simple bull call spread that makes at least 50% almost any time we want and that's all you need to shoot for to build a portfolio.  

  60. The Bug/pstas – by no stretch am I a virus expert; I'm an epidemiologist who spent many decades teaching med school and stopping outbreaks – so I know epidemics, and a bit about viruses.

    First thing to understand, though, is that some – many? who knows? – people don't get sick because their innate immune system ( fights it off, even though they've never had The Bug before.

    Second, because of logistics like the dose of virus needed to acquire The Bug, and the dose of virus that sick people shed, each patient will in a naive population infect on average a certain number of other people, ranging from very low for something like Ebola or HIV to mid-range (flu, colds) to higher (measles) to ridiculously high (norovirus). The proportion needed for herd immunity depends on what I sort of explained in the previous sentence, which is Ro. Best estimates for Ro for sars-cov2 right now are running around 2.5. There's a way to calculate herd immunity ( from that, I think….yeah, here's a good article ( So it says for covid19 we need a herd immunity of 60%.

  61. The Bug/pstas – and what Phil said.

  62. Daveo/Phil — what would be the mechanics behind selling the put spread as opposed to naked?  If I have the naked WBA 2022 30 put @ 3.75  ($700 margin) – how would the put spread work on that?

  63. On the GILD trial: 

    Gilead warned that the post included “inappropriate characterisations of the study”.  “Importantly, because this study was terminated early due to low enrolment, it was underpowered to enable statistically meaningful conclusions,” it said. “As such, the study results are inconclusive, though trends in the data suggest a potential benefit for remdesivir, particularly among patients treated early in disease.”

  64. Thanks, Snow/Phil

    It will make an interesting academic/economic/financial study down the line to assess the financial cost of the shutdown vs. health outcomes, etc.