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Testy Tuesday – Trouble at Dow 34,000?

What a run we've had! 

The Dow is up almost 100% from last year's low at 18,200 and we are 12.5% higher than the record high of just under 30,000 – right before the market plunged 35% in March of last year.  It's very hard to do the math on where we SHOULD be as we began stimulating the economy on March 27th of last year when the CARES Act sent $1,200 checks (with Trump's name on them) to 162M Americans.  

We also gave a weekly bonus of $600 to what became close to 20M unemployed people – that added $12Bn/week to the economy and then in December, that was extended and another $1,200 went out to every taxpayer under the Consolidated Appropriations Act and, more recently, in March, it was the American Rescue Plan with $1,400 checks for everyone.   

Then there was another couple of Trillion in Fed Asset Purchases and a couple of Trillion worth of Government Aid to business…. All in all, $6Tn of our $20Tn GDP (30%) has been stimulus so that's about 30% more earnings for companies than has been realistic during the pandemic.  Of course, now things are getting back to "normal", hopefully – but what is normal now?  It's pretty much impossible to believe that 2021 will be 12.5% better than 2019 was for the S&P 500 or the Wishire 5000 but that's where we're priced – to perfection and beyond.  

We'll see how Q1 Earnings look but we have a Global Chip Shortage that's certainly being felt in many industries and the virus is still ravaging parts of the World, especially South America and India, where they had 259,167 new cases yesterday alone.  Still not as bad as the US peak of 300,669 that we hit on Jan 8th, towards the end of the Trump error.  Yesterday, the US had "only" 70,355 new cases and "only" 483 people died vs 3,895 people who gave their lives for Trump on January 8th – so things can get better rather quickly but Modi is still in office in India and, so far, doesn't seem like he's going to make the changes needed to curb the virus there.

As you can see, even at India's pace, it's going to be very hard for any country to catch the US, where 10% of our population has had Covid with 2% of those people (so far) dying of the disease.  Hopefully, we've put the worst of it behind us but what if we haven't?  Are you going to travel to India this summer?  How about Brazil, France, Russia, or Europe or South America?  Are you sure your vaccine shot will work against their strains and how long will that shot keep you immune?

How are things back to "normal" if we can't even anwwer those questions?  Are we going to take cruises?  Are we going to sit in crowded movie theaters where someone is coughing after we've eaten in a crowded restaurant?  Stadiums for concerts, sports, comedy clubs, casinos – buses…   The list goes on and on for things that are not likely to be normal for the summer of 2021 so how, exactly, are we 12.5% better off than we were in 2019?

Back to normal may be possible going forward but 12.5% better than normal is simply not realistic at the moment, so I'd knock that off the market right away and that brings us back to the 200-day moving average at Dow 30,000 – a 10% drop from where we are now.  

IBM, our 2019 Stock of the Year, knocked it out of the park on earnings yesterday with $17.7Bn in Revenues and $1.77/share in Profits, which is nice but how much did IBM make in Q1 of 2019?  $1.78/share – and that was the weakest quarter in a year when they made $10.60/share  Revenues in March of 2019 were $18.2Bn and IBMs stock price was $131, now it's $136 and actually quite a bargain compared to most of the market (we got out at our $150 target at the time).  

You should be looking at all your portfolio stocks like this and determining whether, in more rational times, people would have paid this much money for them given their current ability to return capital because, in the end, that's what it all comes back to – eventually.  Still, as Keynes used to say "The market can remain irrational longer than you or I can remain solvent" and that was from bitter experience as Keynes went broke betting the market would eventually do the rational thing.  

On Thursday we added more hedges to protect our long positions and there is NO WAY I would be playing long positions at the moment if we didn't have them very well-hedged.  

Be careful out there!  


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  1. Good Morning.

  2. Phil

    Any Trade in these ETFs


    The iShares Global Infrastructure ETF (IGF

    Global X U.S. Infrastructure Development ETF (PAVE,

    FlexShares Stoxx Global Broad Infrastructure Index Fund (NFRA,

  3. Iron Ore Giants Challenged in Race to Meet China Demand

  4. Greetings from the State of Emergency that is Minnesota now.

    It is a pretty nice place to live unless you are not white.

    There is a used car lot near me that was robbed in the latest unrest. The owner

    kept the keys on a hook in the office, some helped themselves. The intersection now has Humvees

    and Soldiers on the roof. I am all for keeping peace, protecting people, property and protesting.

    I do have mixed feelings about what such a militarized presence will do. There have been some

    very surprising incidents with the press as well. We should figure out an easy way to identify the press.

    See the link regarding a call with our leaders, these are things that should not happen in our free society.

  5. MO got an other knock on smokless cigarettes, down to 45.95 possible an other buy for some.

  6. Good morning and wheeee!  

    Thank goodness because I was losing my ass on those /YM shorts but only down $3,600 now (it's all relative).  33,719 is break-even and back to short there and tight stop on the rest as I'm lucky to be even.

    Always remember in Futures trading – not losing is as good as winning!

    ETFs/QC – Well, of the group, IGF hasn't really popped over their old levels and you would think $2Tn on Infrastructure would do that eventually.  Of course this is GLOBAL infrastructure, not US infrastructure so maybe these companies won't be very directly affected by our stimulus:

    Name Symbol % Assets
    Aena SME SA AENA.BC 5.32%
    Enbridge Inc ENB.TO 4.98%
    NextEra Energy Inc NEE 4.69%
    Transurban Group TCL.AX 4.41%
    Atlantia SpA ATL.MI 4.02%
    TC Energy Corp TRP.TO 3.40%
    Getlink SE GET.PA 3.03%
    Enel SpA ENEL.MI 2.98%
    Iberdrola SA IBE.BC 2.96%
    Auckland International Airport Ltd AIA.NZ 2.81%

    To properly analyze the opportunity, you need to look into each of these companies and determine how much of their revenue comes from the US or if any other countries they service have significant Infrastructure bills in the works but most countries constantly do infrastructure – so it's not a big spending priority outside the US so I don't know that, just because the ETF has the word "Infrastructure" in it – that it's the best way to play.

    So, check out the specifics of the other two and let me know what you think and we can see if there's enough value left over to make a good play or if you are just overpaying for a move that's already been stampeded into as this bill certainly isn't a surprise to anyone at this point.

    Minnesota/Randers – I feel for you.  

    Minnesota Calls National Guard to Quell Violent Protests in Minneapolis |  Voice of America - English

    Feds arrest man for alleged role in fire at Minneapolis Police Department  precinct - ABC News

    Police Shooting of Black Man in Minnesota Sparks Protests | Politics | US  News

    How horrible to have your home turned into a nightmare like this.  Not a good precedent to having the President characterize the Press as enemies of the state for the last few years – I'm not sure they want to walk around with scarlet letters identifying themselves.  Did you see the article above on the anti-protesting law Florida passed – things are really going off the rails.  

    Republicans are calling it an anti-riot bill. The reality is that it’s anti-democratic, anti-public safety, and anti-American.

    The bill’s combination of breadth and vagueness ensures maximal impact on freedom of expression. Its definition of a “riot”, for example, means a person engaged in peaceful protest could still be charged with a felony if other people in the same assembly were arrested for destruction of property or assault on a police officer. Its “intimidation” provisions are so broad, they could be used against sports fans who chant at the opposing stands. 

    The bill also enhances penalties for attacks on “monuments”, effectively handing pieces of brass memorializing slaveholders full state protection. And then there’s the “Free Pass for Vehicular Manslaughter” provision, which shields counter-protesters from civil liability for killing someone with their vehicle. It should be noted, of course, that social justice protesters have been attacked by drivers over 100 times (and counting) just since last summer.  Additionally, protesters won’t be eligible for bail until their first court appearance — and it’s now a felony to block a roadway. 

    Republican-controlled legislatures have passed similar anti-protest bills in Oklahoma, South Dakota, North Dakota, and Tennessee  Republicans are eyeing over 300 measures to restrict access to the ballot in all but seven states in the Union. Georgia was the first, most high-profile effort, and it certainly won’t be the last. 

    And, meanwhile – as I predicted for the "low-tax" states:

    Just before midnight, DeSantis reveals he’s signed $1 billion tax on consumers

    Budgets have to be balanced, you pay those taxes one way or the other.

  7. Don't forget the Apple Event at 1pm, EST.  

    Wheee on /CL too:

    That's a nice dunk! 

  8. My first Apple:

    Attachment Image

    Cost me about $3,000 with the printer but I had an extra, external floppy drive so I could spell check without having to switch disks – luxury….

  9. BIG/Phil – I missed the entry last week, but the stock has since fallen somewhat. Would you adjust the spread you suggested then?


  10. Phil,

    I did see that Florida law. There  are some hard decisions for Governors these days. He does appear to be leading the crazy train off the tracks.

  11. BIG/Hwt – Well they did take a bad fall since.  Our LTP trade is still essentially flat:

    BIG Long Call 2023 20-JAN 45.00 CALL [BIG @ $63.37 $-2.28] 15 4/14/2021 (640) $45,000 $30.00 $-5.40 $30.00     $24.60 $-2.26 $-8,100 -18.0% $36,900
    BIG Short Call 2023 20-JAN 65.00 CALL [BIG @ $63.37 $-2.28] -15 4/14/2021 (640) $-30,000 $20.00 $-4.50     $15.50 $-1.56 $6,750 22.5% $-23,250
    BIG Short Put 2023 20-JAN 40.00 PUT [BIG @ $63.37 $-2.28] -15 4/14/2021 (640) $-8,400 $5.60 $-0.35     $5.25 $0.06 $525 6.3% $-7,875
    BIG Short Call 2021 16-JUL 75.00 CALL [BIG @ $63.37 $-2.28] -5 4/14/2021 (87) $-2,350 $4.70 $-2.28     $2.43 $-0.70 $1,138 48.4% $-1,213

    We'll collect all of the $75 calls and we can sell more if they fail $60 and then we'd take advantage of the drop to roll the 2023 $45s down to the $40s or $35s for 0.50/$1 or less.  From scratch, you can take the $35 ($30)/55 ($19) bull call spread at $11, paying $1 more to be $10 more in the money and sell the 2023 $40 puts for $5.25 and the Oct $70s for $6.20 – that should net out about the same but with a much lower spread.

    Florida/Randers – Oddly enough, it was mostly the Trumpies who were protesting recently.

  12. BIG down almost 5% now.  No particular reason.

    • BofA Securities clients were net sellers of stocks to the tune of -$5.2B last week as the S&P (SP500) (NYSEARCA:SPY) and Dow (NYSE:DOW) (NYSEARCA:DIA) hit all-time highs.
    • The outflows were the biggest seen in five months and the fifth-largest on record, while the 4-week moving average of flows turned negative for the first time since mid-February.
    • "Retail clients were the only buyers last week, while institutional and hedge fund clients sold," BofA strategists led by Jill Carey Hall write in a note today. "Retail clients have been buyers for the eighth straight week, while hedge fund clients sold for the third straight week."
    • "Buybacks have been muted the last few weeks in the quiet period ahead of earnings results, and YTD cumulative buybacks are +9% from levels at this time last year (but -5% vs. 2019 levels). While we expect a modest boost to EPS growth from buybacks this year, cash deployment strategies may shift more toward capex."
    • Seven of 11 S&P sectors saw outflows, with cyclicals the biggest drivers.
    • The pause in yields has interrupted the momentum of the reflation trade.
    • Consumer Discretionary (NYSEARCA:XLY) saw the most outflows. Industrials (NYSEARCA:XLI) and Financials (NYSEARCA:XLF) also saw selling.
    • "Despite the recent drop in rates, high and low duration-exposed Comm. Svcs. – which is the most crowded sector by active funds – continued to see outflows for the 10th week in a row," BofA says.
    • Defensives saw buying, with inflows in Consumer Staples (NYSEARCA:XLP), Healthcare (NYSEARCA:XLV) and Real Estate (NYSEARCA:XLRE).
    • The pause in bullishness may be welcome to LPL Financial, which sounded concerns about "peak optimism" among sentiment measures.

    • Regulators in the U.S. and Switzerland have requested more information from Credit Suisse (CS -3.7%) in recent days about additional stock sales associated with the collapse of Archegos Capital, the Wall Street Journal reports, citing people familiar with the matter.
    • The additional sales could lead to further losses beyond the $4.7B it already disclosed early this month, one of the people told the WSJ. Any additional losses are expected to be small by comparison.
    • Credit Suisse had sought to exit positions in ~$4B of stock related to Archegos, including a sale as recently as last week, according to people familiar with the trades.
    • In addition to information on the sales and potential losses, regulators are also asking questions about how the bank is managing its exposure to Archegos.
    • The WSJ couldn't determine which U.S. regulators are requesting the information. The U.S. SEC started an investigation into Archegos in March.
    • In its reporting, the WSJ found that Credit Suisse ignored warnings signs for years before Archegos and Greensill Capital imploded.
    • Famed investor Bill Miller said the General Motors (NYSE:GM) is very attractive. Miller also likes Vroom Inc. (NASDAQ:VRM) and Desktop Metal (NYSE:DM).
    • Miller sold GameStop (NYSE:GME) earlier this year when it was in the $70s.
    • Miller said the SPAC "game" is largely winding down.
    • Miller says bitcoin is digital gold.
    • Miller is speaking in a CNBC interview
    • Yesterday's passage of the SAFE Banking Act, seen as a boon to federal cannabis legislation as it allows multi-state operators  to do business with U.S. financial institutions, is not helping MSOs' share prices today.
    • They are all down in afternoon trading.
    • U.S. multi-state operators this afternoon: Trulieve Cannabis (OTCQX:TCNNF) -2.3%; MedMen Enterprises (OTCQB:MMNFF) -4.2%; Curaleaf Holdings (OTCPK:CURLF) -3.9%; Green Thumb Industries (OTCQX:GTBIF) -2.4%; Cresco Labs (OTCQX:CRLBF) -0.6%; Acreage Holdings (OTCQX:ACRHF) -2.4%; Harvest Health & Recreation (OTCQX:HRVSF) -3.8%.
    • iPad Pro update: The in-house M1 silicon is now also in the iPad Pro models. The eight-core CPU offers 50% improved performance compared to the previous generation.
    • The appearance of the iPads remains essentially the same, but the devices gain Thunderbolt and USB-4 charging support for faster transfer times.
    • The lineup now includes a 2TB storage option. And there's now 5G.
    • Apple says the new iPads can run Pro Display XDR at full 6K resolution.
    • The all-new ultrawide camera has a 12mp sensor with 120-degree field of view and includes the Center Stage automatic panning feature.
    • iMac update: The first iMac redesign in nearly a decade builds the system around Apple's in-house M1 silicon launched for Macs late last year, starting the supplier breakup process with Intel.
    • The front features narrower bezels around the 4.5K 24-inch Retina display but there's still the metal chin at the bottom. The display has 11.3M pixels and 500 nits of brightness.
    • The back comes in a variety of colors, a nod to the G3 iMacs launched in 1998.
    • The new iMac also includes a 1080p FaceTime HD camera, studio-quality mics, and a six-speaker sound system. TouchID also comes to the desktops for the first time.
    • Orders begin on April 30 with availability in the second half of May and prices start at $1,299 for the 7-core GPU model.
    • Aple TV update: The next generation of Apple TV 4K has an A12 Bionic chip, supports high frame rate HDR on par with game consoles, and a redesigned remote. Price is $179 for 32GB or $199 for 64GB.
    • Apple's (AAPL -1.3%) "Spring Loaded" event kicks off with podcast subscriptions to take on Spotify (SPOT -3.7%) and the launch of the Bluetooth-enabled tracking tags AirTags, which compete with Tile.
    • Apple Card will now allow partners and spouses to build credit equally through the account. The Card can also be used by any family member over the age of 13 with the option for spending limits and controls.
    • Apple Podcast's app gets a redesign that includes a new channels section for searches and recommendation. There will also be Podcast subscriptions, which will offer ad-free listening, early access, and will launch in 170 regions and countries next month. No other details were provided.
    • The iPhone 12 lineup gets a mention to update the available colors with a new purple option.
    • Apple finally launches AirTags, which allows users to find tagged lost items using the "Find My" app. Pricing is $29 or a four-pack for $99. Orders open this Friday and shipments start on April 30.
    • The event is ongoing and updates will appear at the top of the post.

    Nothing very exciting from that Apple event.

    • Hedge fund Marshall Wace, which reportedly has $1b long and short exposure to SPACs, believes the SPAC bubble may not end well.
    • “The SPAC phenomenon will end badly and leave many casualties,” Paul Marshall, co-founder of the hedge fund, told investors in a newsletter, according to a Bloomberg report. 
    • The hedge fund owns or has owned "almost every SPAC" on the long side, though is now betting on the short side.
    • “We have increasing exposure on the short side as the SPACs go ex-deal and the low caliber of the deals, and even the potential for bezzle, becomes apparent,” he said.
    • Marshall's warning comes after a report last week that hundreds of SPACs could be delayed over new SEC accounting discussion.
    • Marshall is not the first to warn on SPACs. About a month ago, billionaire investor Barry Sternlicht said the SPAC market is '"a lot out of control."
    • Last month, the WSJ reported that SPACs are catching the attention of short seller.
    • Clean Energy Fuels (CLNE -17.2%) could close below $10 for the first time since January as Raymond James turns bearish, downgrading shares to Underperform from Market Perform as investors have gotten "carried away by headlines over substance" and the new pact with Amazon lacks "substance."
    • Clean Energy shares soared as much as 26% yesterday before pulling back to close 6.3% higher, after the company announced a fuel supply agreement with Amazon and said it issued Amazon warrants to by up to 53.1M shares, which would represent 27% of shares outstanding.
    • Ray Jay analyst Pavel Molchanov says yesterday's rally is "the latest instance of sentiment-driven multiple expansion with minimal read-through for profitability."
    • On Amazon's receiving warrants to buy 53M CLNE shares at $13.49, Molchanov poses the question: "A non-exclusive supply deal pertains to 8% of Clean Energy's stations – is that worth 27% dilution?"
    • Clean Energy Fuels has a massive market opportunity ahead, but the company has failed to produce profits or even improve margins over time, Dan Strack writes in a neutral analysis published on Seeking Alpha.
    • Bank of America keeps a Buy rating on both Altria (MO -3.5%) and Philip Morris International (PM +2.6%) after factoring in reports that the Biden Administration plans to reduce nicotine levels. The firm notes the multi-year path for a regulatory framework and reminds that the FDA first announced plans in 2017 to look at nicotine regulations. It is also unclear if heating sticks would be included in any nicotine reduction plan.
    • BofA on Philip Morris: "The FDA's plan for tobacco and nicotine regulation was said to serve as a multi-year roadmap to better protect kids and significantly reduce tobacco-related disease and death. We believe that PM has one of the strongest growth profiles among its tobacco/staples peers, with the potential for upside driven by its commitment of shifting smokers to potentially less harmful alternatives."
    • BofA on Altria: "MO has a long history of adapting to changes in US regulatory landscape. We positively view MO's efforts to bulk up its exposure to non-combustible nicotine products in recent years and its 10-yr vision to 'Moving beyond smoking' which includes responsibly leading the transition of adult smokers to a non-combustible future."
    • Yesterday: Tobacco stocks fall on widely-anticipated move by Biden Administration to cut nicotine levels in cigarettes.

    If there's less nicotine per cigarette, won't people just smoke more cigarettes?

    Survey shows many cigarette smokers still clueless about severity of toxic  chemicals being inhaled, including formaldehyde and arsenic -

    • The Federal Reserve is committed to keeping any overshoot of its 2% inflation goal within limits, Fed Chair Jerome Powell told Senator Rick Scott in a five-page letter dated April 8, Reuters reports.
    • "We do not seek inflation that substantially exceeds 2%, nor do we seek inflation above 2% for a prolonged period," he said in the letter.
    • In recent months, Powell has repeatedly said that the central bank will let inflation run "moderately" above its target to make up for years of undershooting it. He also expects any acceleration in inflation to be "transitory".
    • The letter, apparently, didn't calm Scott's fears of rising inflation. "The data is clear that inflation is rising, and Chair Powell continues to ignore this growing problem," Scott's office said to Reuters in an email.
    • "Senator Scott remains concerned about the impact inflation will have on low and fixed-income American families, like his growing up. He is calling on Chair Powell to wake up to this threat, lay out a clear plan to address rising inflation and protect American families," the email went on to say.
    • Inflation that's too low limits the Fed in what it can do through controlling the federal funds rate target, Powell explained in the letter.
    • Earlier today, Procter & Gamble said it's raising prices on staples in September and yesterday Coca-Cola's CEO said  it will boost prices to cope with higher commodity costs, sparking concern that higher prices won't be temporary.
    • Church & Dwight (CHD +2.7%) has initiated a voluntary recall of select vitafusion gummy products after the company's investigation of two consumer reports identified the possible presence of a metallic mesh material in certain product lots.
    • The lots being investigated were manufactured in a four-day period between October 29 and November 3, 2020.
    • The company said that it is not aware of any reports of consumer illness or injury to-date, but warned that ingesting a metallic material, in some cases, could lead to damage of the digestive tract.
    • The products that are being recalled were distributed to in-store and e-commerce retailers from November 13, 2020 through April 9, 2021.
    • 3iQ, the Canadian digital asset management fund, has gained authorization from the Dubai Financial Services Authority to list the first bitcoin-based fund in the Middle East.
    • The fund will be listed on the Nasdaq Dubai and is expected to be listed this quarter.
    • In an interview with Reuters, Frederick Pye, chairman and CEO of 3iQ, stated: “We believe that this is the opportune moment to expand this unique investment opportunity into the Middle East region.”
    • The cryptocurrency marketplace has seen growing demand, with bitcoin investors worldwide wanting to be involved in the space. 
    • Bitcoin (BTC-USD), which saw a significant selloff over the past weekend, is still +91.68% year-to-date and is trading +0.33% on the day.
    • SOS (SOS -3.3%) entered into an agreement to purchase 575 cryptocurrency ETH mining rigs and is expected to obtain ~400 GH of ETF hash rate; rigs are expected to be delivered on or about Apr. 30, 2021.
    • Despite global mining equipment shortage, the company has been able to secure mining capacity.
    • "We are optimistic about the future of cryptocurrencies and Ethereum in particular. This is part of our overall strategy to develop blockchain-based environments and services and which will be a core part of our growth in 2021 and beyond," CEO Mr. Yandai Wang commented.
    • Last week an SOS subsidiary announced intentions to acquire majority equity interests in three U.S.-based power plants.

    Hayek must be spinning in his grave!  

  13. Hi Phil:  I forget which weekly webinar but recently you mentioned that TD Bank did not have options that go out beyond 1 year.  I do see that they go out to 2023?  Forgive me if I heard incorrectly.  Thanks.  

  14. TD/Hicket – Well that's new.  That makes them playable then.  

    TD is at $65 and that's $120Bn in market cap and last year they dropped $12Bn to the bottom line so that's 10x BUT not really as that's $10Bn Canadian Dollars while their market cap is in US Dollars – you have to be careful with that stuff.  I think you need about 100,000,000 CAD for one USD or something like that – I was very drunk last time I was in Canada so perhaps I was over-tipping.  Yes, Google tells me you get 0.7913 USD for a CAD so we discount earning 20% and the p/e becomes 12 – still not bad but now we have to remember that our stock is subject to currency fluctuations BUT, since Canada is resource rich and the US is printing money on trees they import from Canada – the currency has a chance to go in our favor and boost our stock as well.

    As you can see, TD is in the high end of the range and it pays a $2.52 (3.84%) dividend so I think, for the LTP, we can just promise to own the stock for net $50 by selling the 2023 $55 puts for $3.50 so, if we sell 10 of those for $3,500 it's almost as good as the dividend if the stock stays above $55 and, if not, we know we'll be happy to add a bull call spread and roll the short puts lower

    Net $51,500 is 1/2 of an LTP allocation block so let's say they drop 20%+ to $50 – we won't mind owning them and we could then spend maybe $10,000 on 20 bull call spreads like the $40($26)/60 ($8.50) bull call spread though never for that net ($17.50) but the $60 ($8.50)/80 ($1.50) bull call spread is $7 so hopefully we can pull off the spread for $10 IF the stock drops 20%.  If not, well then the short puts will expire worthless and we keep the $3,500 – hard to lose….

  15. Wall Street closes lower as virus spike hits travel stocks