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Friday Already?

The Rise of The Four Day Work Week – Paul TaylorThe 4-day work-week.

I've long been an advocate for working 4, 10-hour days instead of 5, 8-hour days and, if this virus has taught us anything (other than the Government will print all the money you need), it's that work can be much more flexible than it has been.  Going back to the arbitray, rigid Monday through Friday, 9am to 5pm, spending two hours in rush hour traffic would be like going back to sharecropping at this point.  Having all 3-day weekends would greatly improve leisure travel for the struggling hotel and airline industries as well.

There are a lot of aspects of our work-life balance we'll need to rethink as we begin to normalize.  A lot of companies will be more inclined to let people work at home (which does not bode well for Commercial Real Estate).  The reality of the pandemic is that productivity is UP significantly since the pandemic started – in great part because so many people were laid off and the remaining workers were forced to pick up the slack and, for those of us who end up working CONSTANTLY from home – that's not necessarily sustainable but it clearly is possible.  

43% of the workers surveyed said they were more productive at home vs 15% who said they were less productive at home.  If we can just get those 15% to be honest with their bosses, the rest of us can keep working at home!  Now that the Zoom idiocy has died out, I think a lot of the productivity gain comes from having less meetings

How to Keep Dilbert Out of Your Office

President Biden had a useful meeting with President Xi this morning and that is perking up the markets and should get Gold (/GC) back over $1,800 along with rising copper as US/China tensions had been weighing on metals.  Xi largely blamed the U.S. for deteriorating ties but expressed optimism that the two powers could find ways to improve their relationship and work together on issues of global concern, including the Covid 19 pandemic, according to a readout of the call provided by the Chinese embassy in Washington.  

Despite largely contentious relations, the call Thursday night represented an attempt to maintain the relationship, a senior administration official said. The U.S. views competition with China as its top foreign policy concern but also wants to work on common interests—such as climate change—and not let matters spiral into direct conflict.  Biden is facing pressure from the business community to restart negotiations with China and cut tariffs on imports, saying they are a drag on the U.S. economy.

Barrick Gold (GOLD) was our 2020 Trade of the Year as we initiated that trade in November of 2019, when the stock was down at $17 and it was hitting $30 by August, miles ahead of schedule so we took it off the table.early.  

We added a new trade on GOLD in our Long-Term Portfolio back in February, when it was back under $20 and now it's back again so here's another great opportuntiy to play Barrick while it's cheap.  $19.50 is a $35Bn market cap for Barrick and they make about $2.2Bn per year but they are also a great hedge against inflation as they already own the gold (70M ounces) - they just have to dig it out of the ground – so they greatly benefit from higher prices. 

As a new trade on GOLD, I would go with the following spread:

  • Sell 20 GOLD 2023 $20 puts for $3.40 ($6,800)
  • Buy 50 GOLD 2023 $20 calls for $2.80 ($14,000)
  • Sell 50 GOLD 2023 $25 calls for $1.40 ($7,000) 

That is net $200 on the $25,000 spread so you have $24,800 (12,400%) upside potential if GOLD is over $25 in 16 months.  The worst case is you are forced to buy 2,000 shares at $20 and lose the $200 so net $20.10 would be the entry but then we would sell the 2024 or 2025 puts and calls for $4.20 and our basis would be net $15.85, which is 19% below the current price.   So, if you aren't EXCITED to possibly own 4,000 shares of GOLD for $15.85 - don't sell the puts, just the call spread can return 250% with no margin required.  However, if you REALLY wouldn't mind owning GOLD for the long-run, this is a fantastic way to start.

In our LTP, we are far more aggressive than that, with the 2023 $18 calls and no short calls yet (we are waiting for the next rally):

GOLD Short Put 2023 20-JAN 20.00 PUT [GOLD @ $19.69 $0.00] -20 1/8/2021 (497) $-7,400 $3.70 $-0.30 $-3.80     $3.40 $0.00 $600 8.1% $-6,800
GOLD Long Call 2023 20-JAN 18.00 CALL [GOLD @ $19.69 $0.00] 50 2/26/2021 (497) $21,250 $4.25 $-0.65     $3.60 $0.00 $-3,250 -15.3% $18,000

Speaking of runaway inflation, the PPI just came out and it's over 8% (8.3%) for the first time EVER and that's way up from 7.8% last month DESPITE Oil prices being almost 10% lower in July than August (they were blaming oil in July and saying it was "transitory").  If you think August was bad – wait until you see September as Natural Gas prices (/NG) are up 20% since August.  And, of course, Goods are up almost 13%, Services are holding the average down as wages lag finished products – but not for long!  

What inflation, right?  

Have a great weekend, 

- Phil


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  1. Good Morning.

  2. hi phil would you like oil short again if it hits 70 or close to it?



  3. 2024 LEAPS should be out soon (I think today or Monday)

  4. Good morning!

    /CL/Tommy – Sure, I like the short here again.  Another ship blocked the Suez canal but that's short-term, you have to be prepared for some pain if you are going to play though.


    Indexes dipping, not sure what particularly set them off:


  5. The Endless Digital Workday

  6. I think this is why the markets are falling today 

    Visa’s latest SMI reading indicates a pause in the recovery

    SAN FRANCISCO, September 10, 2021--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Visa (NYSE: V) today announced that the U.S. Spending Momentum Index (SMI) was 109.6 in August (seasonally adjusted), down 2.9 points from July. With the SMI reading still above 100, this signals that more consumers are still spending more than they did a year ago.

  7. 2024/RN – My favorite time of year!  


  8. SMI/Stock – Another economic negative.  I hate it when they just compare data to last year – doesn't tell us much.  What matters is if the positives this year fill out the negatives from last year:

    It does look like things will balance out but it's not what you'd call "growth" – just catching up.

  9. 2023 & 2024 options   I put my order in for Sept23  AAPL  $105 puts for $7.    waiting patiently 

  10. Blowing 4,500 is not a good way for /ES to end the week.  On a weekly candle, it's a simple rejection at the line.  

    A normal pullback at 4,500 from 3,000 would be 300 points (weak retrace) to 4,200.  More than 5% down from here. 


    the Sept 2023 $105puts  sold a test trade for $6.95

  12. now can get $7.05

  13. or maybe $8

  14. Phil / SBUX – this is really taking off in the last few days….  you se any reason….   I know colleges are opening up but I don't see any particular reason….

  15. SBUX has been strong all week 

  16. AAPL/Stock – That precedent will certainly ding AAPL's App earnings long-term but it's certainly not going to wreck the company.  Still, it's a good reason for people to take profits at the ATH.

    SBUX/Batman – Baird Outperforms for the sector:

  17. SBUX   I saw these trades on 9/9/21

    3000 April $100 puts sold to open for $2.80, shows confidence

    2000 June $115 calls bought for $12.25

  18. any takers on APD for an option play?

  19. yodi

    LIN is in the same business, I wonder why there is such a divergence? 

  20. wonder why Im posting so much today?  I got the Moderna vaccine booster yesterday.  I was planning on not feeling too good and decided to spend the day on the computer, but I feel fine except for a sore arm.   Walgreens turned me down, so I went on line for an appointment at CVS/Target and got right in. No questions asked. 

  21. LIN PE 50 UK copany ADP PE 30 US company better div.

  22. I like the LYB play from yesterday better than ADP.   Both industrials 

  23. Business idea: start-up company identifies behavioral genetic markers that make good traders (sell info to GS, JPM, hedge funds, etc). Land Your Next Job with a Cheek Swab (TM).

  24. LYB I like the div  4.8% of the stock PE 7.6 but high investment

  25. SBUX/Stock – Too expensive for me at $140Bn ($120) as they are only good for $4Bn in profits if all goes well – less than they made in 2018 ($4.5Bn), when people thought $60 was plenty to pay for the company.  Sales then were $25Bn and now $29Bn so up maybe 20% years but, without more profits – that's not actually a good sign. 

    APD/Yodi – I like those guys when they are cheap but $59Bn at $269 and they'll be lucky to make $2Bn is not cheap, just cheapER than it was…

    Vaccine/Stock – Why turned down?

    Markers/BDC – I think if that worked they'd be doing it already.  It's nature vs nurture and nurture is easier as you just need to throw some money at a truckload of kids right out of college, get them addicted to a ridiculous lifestyle that can't be supported any other way and then throw them all into a pit where 90% of them will be cut by the third year.  The survivors are your future trading stars!  

    Of course, now with Reddit and Robin Hood, we can get the kids started 10 years earlier.  

    Trading Cartoons and Comics - funny pictures from CartoonStock

  26. AAPL took in $60Bn in App Store revenues last year and I guess that means they kept $20Bn (they don't break down), which would be 1/4 of their profits.  Let's say this court case leads to them losing 1/2 of it – so it's a 12.5% hit to the bottom line  – potentially.  

    A federal judge on Friday said Apple could no longer force developers to use its payment system in their apps, a ruling that will allow companies to avoid Apple’s commission of up to 30 percent on some app sales.

    The decision could upend the economics of a $100 billion online market and is a major setback for Apple, which counts on revenue from its App Store to fuel its expansive profits. It is the latest but potentially most damaging loss for the company, which is facing increasingly pointed questions from regulators and politicians around the world about its business.

    The order came as part of the ruling in a prominent legal case between Apple and Epic Games, the maker of the popular game Fortnite that sued Apple last year over its App Store policies.

    In the ruling, Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers of U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California said that Apple violated California’s laws against unfair competition by banning app developers from directing customers to other ways to pay for their services. She ordered that Apple must start letting developers include links in their apps to other payment methods within 90 days. Apple could seek to block the order before then.


    But Judge Gonzalez Rogers ruled in favor of Apple on other counts, including that Apple did not have a monopoly in the market of mobile games. She also said that Epic breached its contract with Apple when it allowed Fortnite users to pay it directly, instead of via Apple, inside of its iPhone app last year.

    The ruling means that when customers sign up for a subscription or buy a digital service or item in an iPhone app, companies can now steer those customers to outside websites to complete the transaction. That would allow those companies to avoid Apple’s hefty commission on the sale.

    Apple is widely expected to ask a judge to keep the order from going into effect. Either company could also appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. In that court, a three-judge panel could review the decision, a process that could take a year or more. After a ruling there, Apple or Epic could appeal to the Supreme Court.

    The ruling allows both sides to claim a partial victory. Apple now has a court ruling that says it does not run a monopoly in an important digital marketplace, which undercuts its opponents’ efforts to claim that it violates antitrust laws. But Epic’s lawsuit could also force Apple to crack open its airtight iPhone software to create an avenue for developers to avoid its commission.

    The App Store generates nearly $20 billion a year for Apple, according to some estimates. The business has become such a cash cow because Apple has effectively forced companies to use its payment systems in exchange for access to the App Store, which is the only way to get an app on iPhones. That arrangement has allowed Apple to charge a commission on many transactions.

    Ha, got that right!

    The ruling on Friday is the latest development that cuts into that business model. Last month, South Korea passed a law that required app stores to allow customers to pay through multiple payment systems. Apple also a settled another lawsuit over its commission with a group of smaller developers. In that settlement, Apple paid $100 million and agreed to allow developers to tell customers in an email about other ways to pay for their services, outside of Apple’s payment systems.

    And last week, prompted by an investigation by the Japan Fair Trade Commission, Apple said it would allow a subset of apps known as reader apps, like Netflix and Spotify, to include a link within their apps directing users to external payment methods.

    But the order on Friday goes much further, because such reader apps account for very little of Apple’s App Store revenue, analysts have said. The order applies to all apps, and Judge Gonzalez Rodgers said that gaming apps accounted for 70 percent of the sales on iPhone apps.

    There are also other challenges ahead for Apple’s App Store. The Justice Department has opened an antitrust investigation into the business, and the Senate has introduced antitrust legislation aimed at promoting app store competition. The European Union, Britain and India also are investigating Apple’s App Store dominance. And Judge Gonzalez Rogers is set to hear another lawsuit from consumers that is seeking class-action status and claims that Apple’s App Store commission is illegal


    In her ruling, Judge Gonzalez Rogers said that she sided with neither company and that the market in question was digital mobile gaming transactions. In that market, she said, Apple does not have a monopoly.

    “While the court finds that Apple enjoys considerable market share of over 55 percent and extraordinarily high profit margins, these factors alone do not show antitrust conduct,” she said. “Success is not illegal.”

  27. Phil// so how much of apples earnings going to be affected by this ruling? And what is your new price target for 2023 n 2024?  Thanks

  28. Comment content omitted because it is too long.

  29. As noted above, Apps are 25% of total earnings and max impact I can imagine is 50%, which would be 12.5% of earnings but probably more like 7% so some sell-off is to be expected.



    • Gene Munster, managing partner at Loup Ventures, said Friday that an injunction forcing Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) to allow third-party payment systems for in-app purchases on its App Store represents only a "fractional headwind" for the tech giant.
    • Munster told CNBC that the iPhone maker will likely continue to receive its 30% cut of most purchases because consumers will still default to using the AAPL system.
    • Earlier on Friday, a California judge issued a permanent injunction forcing AAPL to let app developers direct their users to third-party payment methods outside the App Store ecosystem. The ruling came as part of Epic Games' antitrust case against AAPL.
    • The Loup Ventures managing partner argued that the typical consumer will continue to see value in using AAPL for payments because it offers convenience and security.
    • "I ultimately bet on humans being lazy and if the price is the same, they will likely just continue to transact on platform," he said.
    • Gaming stocks climbed after a California judge ruled that Apple (AAPL -2.5%) can't prevent game developers from using links that bypass Apple's App Store, where Apple charges 15% to 30% commissions on in-app purchases. The ruling came following a lawsuit from Epic Games, owner of Fortnite.
    • “This allows for companies to dramatically increase revenues and reduce their cost of goods,” said Dan Burkhart, CEO of Recurly, a subscription billing platform.
    • Gaming companies Zynga (ZNGA +8.6%), Activision (ATVI +3.3%), Electronic Arts (EA +2.8%), Roblox (RBLX +3.9%), Playtika (PLTK +5.9%), and AppLovin (APP +11.1%) are trading up on the news, while other companies, including Spotify (SPOT +3.0%), Match Group (MTCH +6.4%), Bumble (BMBL +7.5%) and Duolingo (DUOL +3.0%), that were previously forced to pay commissions to Apple for users to purchase in-app items on their iPhone apps are also on the rise.
    • Take-Two (TTWO -0.8%) shares are still down after the company announced Grand Theft Auto delays Thursday.
    • Apple (AAPL +0.3%) is looking to more than double its output of new TV shows and movies, to reach at least one release per week next year, The Information reports in an article suggesting Apple TV+ may be changing its reputation as a streaming "punchline."
    • It's also looking to spend at least $500 million marketing the service this year, according to the report.
    • As conversation swirls around which companies will be the must-haves in the household streaming budget – with focus settling on Netflix (NFLX -0.6%), Disney+ (DIS -0.2%) and Amazon Prime Video (AMZN -0.1%) – Apple TV+ has come off as a bit of an also-ran, notable for a viral comedy hit (Ted Lasso) and some prestige programming that's led many to believe it was looking to emulate HBO in brand quality.
    • But the subscriber numbers are "respectable," The Information notes: It had about 40 million subs at the end of last year, and about half of them are paying with the rest on free trial periods.
    • The ramp-up in content output and marketing is a definitive move from a TV service that has made some unusual steps so far: Notorious for strict control over its brand, it's made the Apple TV+ app available on multiple devices and even paid for a dedicated button on Roku remotes. Meanwhile, it's also decided not to make an inexpensive "dongle" type device commonly offered by other rivals, and won't advertise Apple TV+ on Facebook/Instagram, toward which Apple is hostile.
    • In any case, driving Apple TV+ growth is one key to efforts to build up Apple's growing services business. Inside the company, video entertainment is seen as a stand-alone business, according to the report – not a way to sell more Apple hardware (a view similar to that taken by Amazon over its Prime Video offering).

    Indexes struggled to make up ground but failing into the close so far.


    Never forget:

    Photos That Defined 9/11, and the People in Them—20 Years Later

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  30. Uranium stocks are jumping with prices at six-year highs

    • High demand for nuclear fuel is combining with bull market enthusiasm to boost uranium and associated stocks.
    • Spot uranium, which does not trade on the open market but by private contracts, hit $39 per pound this week, the highest price in more than six years.
    • The Global X Uranium ETF (NYSEARCA:URA) +9% is at its highest level since September 2014 and up nearly 50% since its late-August low.
    • Uranium plays Cameco (NYSE:CCJ) +7%, Energy Fuels (NYSE:UUUU) +10%, Uranium Energy (NYSE:UEC) +12%, Denison Mines (NYSE:DNN) +10% and NexGen Energy (NYSE:NXE) +6% are all rallying.
    • New reactors coming online as countries, especially China, look to cut carbon emissions and turn away from fossil fuels is boosting demand for yellowcake.
    • Global demand is expected to rise more than 25% to 206M pounds by 2030.
    • And the run in the past month has brought in lots of speculation cash.
    • "The reason for the (recent) surge is that a new trading vehicle, the Sprott Physical Uranium Trust Fund (OTCPK:SRUUF), has been accumulating pounds of uranium at a torrid pace," SA contributor Permanent Value wrote yesterday.
    • In August, Sprott filed to sell $300M in units backed by physical uranium and today it announced it is boosting that to $1.3B.
    • “Financial players are clearly accelerating price discovery, but this would not be occurring if there was not a fundamental and substantial deficit,” Canaccord Genuity analysts said, according to the FT.
    • Permanent Value also laid out the prospects for a market where a "squeeze of epic value" is brewing.
    • Intuitive Surgical (NASDAQ:ISRG) fell ~5.5% the most since January, with the sudden weakness in shares attributed to comments made by the company CEO at the Wells Fargo Healthcare Conference.
    • Social media posts point to an increasingly bearish outlook implied by the executives about the company’s prospects at the event, given the impact of COVID-19 and higher supply costs.
    • However, as the graph below indicates, the medical device maker has underperformed the broader market over the past thirty days as the pandemic's resurgence hurts recovery in hospital procedures.
    • Better-than-expected Q2 2021 earnings results posted by the company prompted many Wall Street analysts to lift their price targets on Intuitive Surgical in July.
    • However, many hospital and MedTech stocks came under pressure in early August when Texas governor Greg Abbott urged hospital operators to consider postponing certain elective procedures to accommodate the influx of COVID-19 patients. 
    • Hovnanian Enterprises (HOV +4.3%) shares are up as the company expects higher gross margins due to the falling price of lumber.  "We underwrote those recent acquisitions there were significantly higher lumber costs in effect at the time. As a result of the recent declines in lumber prices, we now expect even higher margins on those land parcels," said CEO Ara Hovnanian, adding that he thinks lumber prices will go even lower.
    • COVID-related supply chain disruption delayed the completion of some homes, resulting in revenue of $691M (+10% Y/Y) that was below company guidance of $700M to $750M. However, homebuilding gross margin increased 460 basis points to 22.1% and allowed the company to surpass its expected net income.
    • Demand for homes remains high as the dollar value of consolidated contract backlog, as of July 31, 2021, increased 41.8% to $1.75B compared with $1.23B as of July 31, 2020.
    • Guidance increased: The company now expects total revenues to be between $2.80B-2.85B from between $2.65B-2.80B and adjusted pretax income guidance is raised to between $175M-190M from $150M-170M. Additionally, gross margin is expected to stay strong at between 21.5% and 22.5% in the company's fourth quarter.
    • In the Q3 earnings call, executives said the falling lumber prices made them feel "comfortable" that they would meet their numbers.
    • Aamer Khan and Cyril Malak, co-founders of Qualivian Investment Partners, argued in a letter to investors that mega-cap stocks are actually undervalued compared to the rest of the S&P 500.
    • While they acknowledged that nominal price-to-earnings ratios for these stocks were higher than the average for the S&P 500, Khan and Malak said simple P/E failed to account for the significant growth rates achieved by names like Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOG)(NASDAQ:GOOGL).
    • Instead, they pointed to statistics indicating that Big Tech actually trades at a more modest valuation than the S&P 500 as a whole when projected growth rates are taken into account.
    • "Considering their potential earnings growth, the stocks seem undervalued vs. the index, which itself seems overvalued relative to its past long-term earnings growth rate," they said in a fund letter released this week.
    • For instance, in statistics provided by Qualivian, the PEG ratio — a statistic that divides the P/E ratio of a stock by the growth rate of its earnings — for the Big Tech names varies from 1.1x to 2.3x. Meanwhile, the figure for the S&P 500 as a whole sits at 2.7x.
    • Khan and Malak added that earnings at the major tech firms might be understated because of the way GAAP accounting principles handle investment spending.
    • "Their future earnings should easily outpace that of the S&P 500 while their valuation is at a modest premium on next year’s earnings and at a discount on earnings five years out," they said.
    • Looking at the performance of the mega-cap stocks in 2021 so far, GOOGL, MSFT and FB have outperformed the S&P 500 as a whole. Meanwhile, AMZN and AAPL have fallen short:

    • As cryptocurrency adoption continues to gain traction across the globe, the People's Bank of China ("PBOC") said it will steadily push forward with research and development of its digital yuan, ForexLive reports.
    • The digital yuan is a central bank digital currency ("CBDC") that is issued and regulated by the PBOC, whereas cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin ((BTC-USD -1.5%)) and Ethereum ((ETH-USD -4.1%)) are decentralized with no central regulatory authority.
    • El Salvador became the first country to adopt Bitcoin (BTC-USD) as legal tender, while Ukraine is the latest country to legalize and regulate cryptocurrency, CNBC reports.
    • China's digital renminbi is already in a trial stage and will be introduced at the upcoming Winter Olympics in Beijing, the Financial Times noted.
    • If digital asset adoption continues to expand, other central banks will face more pressure to "act now", especially since "stablecoins and cryptoassets are already here," the Financial Times reports, said Benoit Coeure of the Bank for International Settlements.
    • Traditional commercial bank models may also feel the need to get started on innovating digital asset products and services as client demand increases.
    • "But make no mistake: global stablecoins, DeFi platforms, and big tech firms will challenge banks' models regardless," Coeure said.
    • He argued that major central banks are acting too slowly to the challenge of BTC and other private digital assets. In March, the Federal Reserve's Jerome Powell said there's no rush to issue a CBDC, but then in May said the Fed would issue this summer a discussion paper on a potential U.S. CBDC.
    • Fed governor Christopher Waller is also " highly skeptical" of a CBDC.
    • Some depository institutions that are already involved with digital assets include Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS), Bank of America (NYSE:BAC), and JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM).
    • Earlier today, Swedish central bank governor Stefan Ingves said bitcoin may eventually collapse since "private money usually collapses sooner or later."



    • Without giving a specific timeline, the FDA says the agency intends to have pediatric COVID-19 vaccines available for the younger population in the coming months.
    • In a statement attributed to the acting FDA commissioner, Janet Woodcock, and Peter Marks, the director of its division tasked with vaccine approvals, the agency highlights the rigorous review needed before authorizing COVID-19 vaccines for children.
    • “We have to let the science and data guide us. The FDA is working around the clock to support the process for making COVID-19 vaccines available for children,” the officials said.
    • “Just like every vaccine decision we’ve made during this pandemic, our evaluation of data on the use of COVID-19 vaccines in children will not cut any corners,” they reassured.
    • The FDA statement comes amid a surge in child COVID-19 hospitalizations across the U.S. as schools reopen. As of last Tuesday, a record-high 2,396 children were hospitalized with COVID-19, CNN reported, citing data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HSS).
    • Currently, only the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer (NYSE:PFE)/BioNTech (NASDAQ:BNTX) has been granted the FDA’s emergency use authorization (EUA) for adolescents aged 12 – 15 years.
    • Their rival, Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA), has already filed for an EUA for adolescents with the U.S. FDA. All three vaccine makers are advancing studies targeting even younger age groups.
    • Clinical studies are also in progress to evaluate the COVID-19 vaccine from Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) in those aged 12 – 17 years.

  31. have a good weekend all.  

  32. Selling getting ugly into the close – not a good way to end the week but not much volume to it.

    Have a great weekend, 

    - Phil