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Friday Follies – Still 2,200 After All of a Year

"Four in the morning

Crapped out, yawning

Longing my life away

I'll never worry

Why should I?

It's all gonna fade" – Paul Simon

That pretty much sums up the market recently as we wrap up an entire year of the Russell 2000 running along the same 2,200 line for what is now the 12th month.  There is a certain point at which you stop saying it's consolidating for a move up and start saying we're clearly over-valued at this level.

"When I think back on all the crap I learned in high school

It's a wonder I can think at all

"If you took all the girls I knew when I was single

And brought 'em all together for one night

I know they'd never match my sweet imagination

Everything looks worse in black and white"  – Paul Simon

We've been getting that kind of action from the other indexes since November and 2022 may indeed be the year we went nowhere, but that will certainly beat the alternative (a major correction) after climbing 120% on the Russell since early 2016.  The S&P too was down at 2,000, so it's up 135%, Dow 16,000 to 36,100 is up 125% and the Nasdaq is up from 4,400 to 15,740 – that's a 257% run.  

Interestingly the Nikkei is "only" up 100% and the Euro Stoxx Index is up just 43% and Germany's DAX is up just 60% so we have to ask ourselves – are US companies totally superior to other companies or are the US exchanges just ridiculously overvaluing their components?  I'm sorry to say but the odds strongly favor the latter.

So that brings us back to our Short-Term Portfolio (STP) and, as we noted yesterday, it gained $55,485 in the slight dip since our December 14th review while our Long-Term Portfolio (LTP) has gained $100,000 so we're up $155,000(ish) in less than a month and we could just as easily lose it so the thing to do now is LOCK IT IN WITH HEDGES!

We already have $525,000 worth of hedges against a 20% drop in the market in our STP (see Dec 14th review) and, as a rule of thumb, we like to spend about 1/3 of our unrealized gains to hedge.  Yesterday however, in our live Member Chat Room, we pulled $120,000 out of our AAPL position and moved it to a better-protected spread – so we don't have to be as aggressive in our adjustments.

  • NFLX – Will expire worthless in 14 days.
  • SQQQ – Will expire worthless in 14 days.  
  • W – It's a $150 short put and W is at $174 so I think we have a  good chance of collecting that $29,300.  This is a leftover hedge from a short position we have and we thought W was silly at $350 but $150 seems OK, so we don't see any reason to pull it. 

  • AVGO – Finally pulled back a bit.  The long put was pure speculation and a total bust ($950 loss) but it's the short call we sold for $21,650 that we really care about and anything under $663 in April will be a profit.  Looking a little safer now than it was at the beginning of the week.  

This is the burden of being a Fundamental Investor.  We decided AVGO is NOT worth more than $620 so, just because it went over $620, didn't mean we were going to back off our assertion.  It's very hard to play with conviciton like this but we took the short on 12/15 (after being burned on our original) and pretty much caught the dead top – I hope.  

  • CMG – Wow, those $1,500 puts are not too far out of the money but only 14 days to go.  They are leftover from a spread and we already cashed the rest so there's nothing to save here.  The short calls are in good shape and we can only hope we get lucky and CMG falls another $200 this month.

  • SQQQ – This is a 3x inverse ETF on the Nasdaq so, if the Nasdaq falls 20%, SQQQ should go up about 60% to $10.46 and we have 200 long $5 calls that would be worth about $109,200.  The short March calls will almost certainly go worthless and we can put a stop on them at 0.50 ($5,000) which then allows us to be more aggressive and buy 100 2024 $5 calls for $3.15 ($31,500) and sell 100 June $10 calls for 0.85 ($8,500) so for net $23,000, we are buying $100,000 more of potential protection.  
  • The stop on the March $12s means we remove the cap on 100 of the longs, allowing us to benefit from a more than 20% drop in the index.  Of course, if the index falls 10%, we simply add more hedges along the way.

  • TQQQ – Already in the money is not a good sign for the Nasdaq!  The short $130 puts we sold should expire worthless but TQQQ is also a 3X ETF so I'm not comfortable selling more short puts as a 60% drop in TQQQ would take them down to about $60.  The $200/150 spread is at $65,000 out of a potential $100,000 so $45,000 more protection left if the Nas simply stays below the current level (and these 3x ETFs decay over time as well, which is why we like them as hedges).  Notice we only paid net $29,400 for the spread.  

  • TZA – We bougtht back 50 of the 2023 $50 calls in the last review to get a bit more aggressive.  At $28.27, a 60% bump in TZA would take us to $45.23.  The 2023 $20 calls are now $227,000 and we'd love to cash that out so here we'll set up for that in the future by adding 200 of the 2024 $30 ($12.50)/$45 ($10) bull call spreads at $2.50 ($50,000).  We don't NEED them, so try not to pay more than $3 at most.  That gives us another $300,000 worth of protection and, more importantly, if we get a spike in TZA that we feel will reverse, we can easily take 1/2 (100) of the 2023 $20s off the table.
  • Having done this (and spending more cash than we planned today), we'll be looking for any good reason to cash those 100 2023 $20s to put $100,000 back in the cash pile.

  • UNG – I'm very pleased with that one.  The STP also has side bets, usually based on news catalysts.  We have a very nice gain for the first month (out of 4) after spending net $200 on the $10,000 spread.  All UNG had to do was hold $12 into spring.  Again, it's those annoying Fundamentals we like to play…

So we ended up spending $73,000 – about 1/2 of our unrealized gains for the month, but we added $400,000 of additional protection and we plan on getting at least $100,000 back from the old TZA longs.  Now we are clearly over-hedged but that's great because it means we get to go shopping again, buying longs to balance out – just in time for earnings season.  

Aren't hedges great?

"When you're down and out
When you're on the street
When evening falls so hard
I will comfort you
I'll take your part
Oh, when darkness comes
And pain is all around
"Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down" – Paul Simon

Have a great weekend, 

- Phil


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  1. Good Morning!

  2. AAPL/Phil  Saw your note about AAPL, wanting to adjust my position also.

    Thinking I could move to a partial $160/200 spread, take some off the table, what would you suggest?

    155 '24 $130 calls ($32.9)

    -40 '24 $180 calls ($32.5)

    -5 '23 $140 puts ($24.6)

    (How was Spiderman?)


  3. Good morning!  

    I am leaving by 1pm – off to Orlando.   Will mostly be off on Monday too.

    AAPL/Wing – That's super-aggressive.  The $130s are $55 and you can trade those in with a $342,550 profit for $852,500.  For simplicity sake, best to buy back the short $180 calls at $28 ($112,000) while they have a slight profit.  At $175 I like the 2024 $160 ($37.50)/200 ($20.50) bull call spreads at $17.50 – 200 of those is $350,000 out of the net $740,500 you would be taking off the table and you can sell 1/4 (50) of the April $175 calls for $9.60 ($48,000) with 7 more of those sales to look forward to ($336,000).  So now just net $302,000 for the new $800,000 spread and potentially $336,000 in income while you wait and, if you want to work back down to the 2044 $155s, just use the money from each successful short call sale to push the long calls lower.  If anything drastic happens, you have $438,500 back in your pocket.

  4. Phil/AAPL-


    As a new trade, would you suggest this same spread with a put sale?

    2024 $160 ($37.50)/200 ($20.50)

  5. Happy Friday Phil!.  On the webinar this week, you had mentioned to remind you about SOFI.  Interested to hear your thoughts on it.  It's seems to be pretty popular and expected to bring banking into the modern age.  If we buy into the hype……what kind of play would you structure for it?

  6. Exploding growth: Autonomous delivery market set to take off

  7. Natural gas bans are new front in effort to curb emissions

  8. Phil / VIAC – taking off…. pretty significant buying….  I see no news on this do you?  

    lots of articles  of them selling assets and possible buy out but Northern really…. wondering if my thoughts on banks dumping shares to clear books makes more sense now… anyway starting to cover some positions…

  9. Wing. / AAPL – what was your original position?

  10. Unable to Get Covid-19 Tests, Americans Go to Work, Get on Flights

  11. Wall Street profits on Zillow’s woes by gobbling up starter homes, investigation finds

  12. AAPL/Ravi – I'd rather do it with 1/4 short calls (as above) and, if AAPL takes a nice dip – then sell some puts to balance.

    SOFI/Ult – I think the trick for them is whether or not they get their bank charter, which will lower their loan costs.  Overall, this is still just a startup, with just 2,937 Members.  While it is interesting, $14 is still $11Bn for the company with less than 1Bn in sales and losing $425M in 2021.  Next year, they hope for 50% more sales and they'll only lose $250M so maybe break-even in 2023 if things go perfectly.  I just don't see the point of giving anyone money for 3 years to break even (if things go well).  You should at least be able to see some upside potential somewhere down the road, right?  

    VIAC/Batman – See, this is what kills me.  We're talking about whether or not to buy SoFi for $11Bn when VIAC is $22Bn.  It will take SOFI 20+ years to catch up to VIAC in revenues and profits – maybe.   Now everyone is jumping on my premise that under $40 they are a buyout opportunity:

    ViacomCBS: A Deal Waiting To Happen

    Buy ViacomCBS Before Everyone Else Does

    ViacomCBS: Buy The Streaming, Get The Legacy Business As A Gift

    Holy crap those Nasdaq shorts did well!   /GC moving up too:

    /CL came back down – still have 4 short and 1 long /SI is all I caught at $22.

    I'm outta here so I guess I'll leave those cooking.

    Have a great weekend, everyone!

    - Phil

  13. AAPL/Batman  Ah well my 'original position' would be the 2017 $90/120 spread that I saw Phil announce as his trade of the year on BNN's Moneytalk in late 2014. As a very early Apple owner and fan, and 'casual' options trader, I immediately pressed Record on my PVR and the rest is history ..  ;)   But seriously it's a moving target as I have always maintained  positions in AAPL since then, often with positions that end up looking 'messy' to Phil's eye. In this case I bought back a lot of (ALL) my short covers at the end of 2021 to push my cap gains back down to earth and hopefully take advantage of the upward momentum by rolling out in 2022. I did have '23 $130s, rolled out to '24s (for about even) and something like this before buying the shorts back last year:

    155 AAPL '24 $130c ($32.9)

    -25 '24 $170c ($22.6)

    -40 '23 $160c ($20)

    -5 '23 $140p ($24.6)


  14. Wing.  / aapl   Thanks for the history.   very interesting approach.   Congrats on the gain. !!!

  15. VIAC volume nearly 2x above average. Amen!

  16. Today was a lot worse than it seemed as a big dollar drop masked the poor performance: