Global Market Comments
October 21, 2019
(MARKET OUTLOOK FOR THE WEEK AHEAD, or THE FORK IN THE ROAD),
(SPY), (TLT), (WMT), (GM), (FXI), (NFLX)
Global Market Comments
October 21, 2019
(MARKET OUTLOOK FOR THE WEEK AHEAD, or THE FORK IN THE ROAD),
(SPY), (TLT), (WMT), (GM), (FXI), (NFLX)
I usually don’t pay attention to technical analysis. It is the last refuge of the inexperienced and the uneducated.
However, I don’t ignore it either.
And that sets of a quandary for investors today. For on the one hand, the economic data couldn’t be worse, pointing to a certain trade war-induced recession sometime in 2020.
On the other hand, look at the chart for the S&P 500 (SPY) below and you can see that stocks have been in a clear uptrend for 2 ½ months. Another few weeks, and we might see a breakout to new all-time highs. Or, we might get a false breakout driven by algorithms only and then collapse to new 2019 lows.
Welcome to my world.
While my recent track record may say otherwise, I actually don’t know what markets are going to do every day of every week. And when I don’t know what to do, I do nothing. That’s especially easy to do now with my Mad Hedge Market Timing Index at a dead on neutral position of 50.
Of course, the elevated level of share prices could be the result of ultra-low interest rates and a complete lack of viable alternatives. At 11.9% dividend yield, US stock are among the highest yielding financial instruments in the world. At this year’s 15% capital gain and they are especially compelling, particularly to the many foreigners earning negative interest rates.
In the meantime, I wait for the markets to tell me what to do. I’m basically looking for a higher high to sell into, or a lower low to buy.
The IMF Downgraded Global Growth, from 3.2% to 3% and trade gets the blame. At 2.5% growth, many major economies will be in recessions. Risks are to the downside. More than 90% of the Global Economy is Slowing. It’s the worst forecast since 2008.
Bank earnings were mixed, with JP Morgan taking the lead with record revenues and credit card revenues the big winners. Goldman Sachs (GS) looks awful due to failing mergers and acquisitions. Wells Fargo is worse. Trading revenues are the drag.
Retail Sales dove off a surprising 0.3% in September when a 0.3% jump was expected. The individual shopper has been the sole support of the economy this year and when they bail the stock market will hate it.
A Brexit deal is finally on the table, but will Parliament vote for it? I doubt it. If they do, it will be a huge “RISK ON” development. This just could be like Trump announcing another China trade deal. If Brexit lives, Scotland will almost certainly vote to leave the United Kingdom and join Europe.
US Housing Starts fell in September from a 12-year high, down 9.4% to 1.256 million units. The mid-Atlantic gets the blame. Land and labor shortages are a problem.
The GM Strike (GM) is settled and the union probably will vote for it. The strike has definitely been a drag on the US economy. Part of the deal involved closing three old high cost US plants. It’s tough to vote against economic reality.
China’s Economy (FXI) slowed to a 6% growth rate as the trade war drags on business there. That’s a 30-year low. Export demand for US products is plunging. Almost every economic indicator is in decline. Not only is China one of America’s largest customers, it is also Europe’s. The data definitely put the kibosh on the week’s rally.
Netflix soared on an earnings beat, soaring 9%. It looks like it is too early to write off the inventor of movie streaming. I guess a 20-year head start still counts for something. But I am staying away anyway.
I hate to be boring, but my Mad Hedge Trader Alert Service has scored yet another new all-time high. In fact, I have hit new highs almost every day for the last three months. Worse yet, my thesaurus is running out of metaphors for “new high.”
My Global Trading Dispatch reached new pinnacle of +349.64% for the past ten years and my 2019 year-to-date accelerated to +49.50%. The notoriously volatile month of October stands at a blockbuster +12.08%. My ten-year average annualized profit clawed its way up to +35.56%. If I make any more than this, no one will believe it, a frequent problem during my hedge fund days.
Some 28 out of the last 29 trade alerts have made money, a success rate of a stunning 96.55%! Under promise and over deliver, that is the business I have been in all my life. It works. This is rapidly turning into the best year of the decade for me. It is all the result of me writing three newsletters a day, and doing research for 12.
With my Mad Hedge Market Timing Index sitting around the neutral 50 level, there was very little to do this week but take profits on existing positions. Nothing like watching the money roll in. It’s like having a rich uncle write you a check once a month.
All I am left with after the October 18 option expiration is 80% cash and short positions in Wal-Mart (WMT) and the S&P 500 (SPY).
The coming week is pretty non-eventful of the data front. Maybe the stock market will be non-eventful as well.
On Monday, October 21 at 2:00 PM, the US monthly Budget Statement for September comes out, most likely showing a horrific $200 billion deficit.
On Tuesday, October 22 at 10:00 AM, Existing Home Sales are out for September.
On Wednesday, October 23 at 10:30 AM, EIA Energy Stocks are published.
On Thursday, October 24 at 8:30 AM, US Durable Goods are out. Weekly jobless claims are out at the same time.
On Friday, October 25 at 10:00 AM, the University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment is announced. The Baker Hughes Rig Count follows at 2:00 PM.
As for me, I’ll be driving up to Lake Tahoe to start organizing my October 25-26 conference, briefly stopping at Vacaville for breakfast at Mel’s Drive In and a top up charge for my Tesla Model X to make the climb over Donner Pass. First on the list is to unload there my five cases of vintage wine so it can adjust to the altitude.
Oh, and I haven’t had time for a haircut since I left for Australia four months ago. My kids are starting to call me a hippie.
The Mad Hedge Lake Tahoe Conference begins that night. Tickets are available by clicking here.
Good luck and good trading.
CEO & Publisher
The Diary of a Mad Hedge Fund Trader
If you’ve been living under a rock the past few years, the cloud phenomenon hasn’t passed you by and you still have time to cash in.
You want to hitch your wagon to cloud-based investments in any way, shape or form.
Microsoft’s (MSFT) pivot to its Azure enterprise business has sent its stock skyward, and it is poised to rake in more than $100 billion in cloud revenue over the next 10 years.
Microsoft’s share of the cloud market rose and is catching up to Amazon Web Services (AWS).
Amazon leads the cloud industry and still maintains more than 30% of the cloud market. Microsoft would need to gain a lot of ground to even come close to this jewel of a business.
Amazon (AMZN) relies on AWS to underpin the rest of its businesses and that is why AWS contributes 73% to Amazon’s total operating income.
Total revenue for just the AWS division is an annual $5.5 billion business and would operate as a healthy stand-alone tech company if need be.
Cloud revenue is even starting to account for a noticeable share of Apple’s (AAPL) earnings, which has previously bet the ranch on hardware products.
The future is about the cloud.
These days, the average investor probably hears about the cloud a dozen times a day. If you work in Silicon Valley, you can triple that figure.
So, before we get deep into the weeds with this letter on cloud services, cloud fundamentals, cloud plays, and cloud Trade Alerts, let’s get into the basics of what the cloud actually is.
Think of this as a cloud primer.
It’s important to understand the cloud, both its strengths and limitations. Giant companies that have it figured out, such as Salesforce (CRM) and Zscaler (ZS), are some of the fastest growing companies in the world.
Understand the cloud and you will readily identify its bottlenecks and bulges that can lead to extreme investment opportunities. And that’s where I come in.
Cloud storage refers to the online space where you can store data. It resides across multiple remote servers housed inside massive data centers all over the country, some as large as football fields, often in rural areas where land, labor, and electricity are cheap.
They are built using virtualization technology, which means that storage space spans across many different servers and multiple locations. If this sounds crazy, remember that the original Department of Defense packet-switching design was intended to make the system atomic bomb-proof.
As a user, you can access any single server at any one time anywhere in the world. These servers are owned, maintained and operated by giant third-party companies such as Amazon, Microsoft, and Alphabet (GOOGL), which may or may not charge a fee for using them.
The most important features of cloud storage are:
1) It is a service provided by an external provider.
2) All data is stored outside your computer residing inside an in-house network.
3) A simple Internet connection will allow you to access your data at anytime from anywhere.
4) Because of all these features, sharing data with others is vastly easier, and you can even work with multiple people online at the same time, making it the perfect, collaborative vehicle for our globalized world.
Once you start using the cloud to store a company’s data, the benefits are many.
Many companies regardless of their size prefer to store data inside in-house servers and data centers.
However, these require constant 24-hour-a-day maintenance, so the company has to employ a large in-house IT staff to manage them – a costly proposition.
Thanks to cloud storage, businesses can save costs on maintenance since their servers are now the headache of third-party providers.
Instead, they can focus resources on the core aspects of their business where they can add the most value without worrying about managing IT staff of prima donnas.
Today’s employees want to have a better work/life balance and this goal can be best achieved by letting them telecommute. Increasingly, workers are bending their jobs to fit their lifestyles, and that is certainly the case here at Mad Hedge Fund Trader.
How else can I send off a Trade Alert while hanging from the face of a Swiss Alp?
Cloud storage services, such as Google Drive, offer exactly this kind of flexibility for employees. According to a recent survey, 79% of respondents already work outside of their office some of the time, while another 60% would switch jobs if offered this flexibility.
With data stored online, it’s easy for employees to log into a cloud portal, work on the data they need to, and then log off when they’re done. This way a single project can be worked on by a global team, the work handed off from time zone to time zone until it’s done.
It also makes them work more efficiently, saving money for penny-pinching entrepreneurs.
In today’s business environment, it’s common practice for employees to collaborate and communicate with co-workers located around the world.
For example, they may have to work on the same client proposal together or provide feedback on training documents. Cloud-based tools from DocuSign, Dropbox, and Google Drive make collaboration and document management a piece of cake.
These products, which all offer free entry-level versions, allow users to access the latest versions of any document so they can stay on top of real-time changes which can help businesses to better manage workflow, regardless of geographical location.
Another important reason to move to the cloud is for better protection of your data, especially in the event of a natural disaster. Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on local data centers in New York City, forcing many websites to shut down their operations for days.
The cloud simply routes traffic around problem areas as if, yes, they have just been destroyed by a nuclear attack.
It’s best to move data to the cloud to avoid such disruptions because there your data will be stored in multiple locations.
This redundancy makes it so that even if one area is affected, your operations don’t have to capitulate, and data remains accessible no matter what happens. It’s a system called deduplication.
The cloud can save businesses a lot of money.
By outsourcing data storage to cloud providers, businesses save on capital and maintenance costs, money that in turn can be used to expand the business. Setting up an in-house data center requires tens of thousands of dollars in investment, and that’s not to mention the maintenance costs it carries.
Plus, considering the security, reduced lag, up-time and controlled environments that providers such as Amazon’s AWS have, creating an in-house data center seems about as contemporary as a buggy whip, a corset, or a Model T.
In a new study, 44% of Millennials plan to move out of the Bay Area in the “next few years.”
In the same study, 8% of Millennials will move out of the Californian tech peninsula within the next 365 days.
Tech companies are in serious danger of stagnating because they won’t be able to hire the talent needed to keep their companies afloat while the number of foreign HB-1 visas has dried up.
All of this could come home to roost and early cracks can be found in the local housing migratory trends.
The robust housing demand, lack of housing supply, mixed with the avalanche of inquisitive tech money has made living with a roof over your head a tall order.
The area has also become squalid like some third world countries due to the homeless problem that is growing faster than any software company.
Salesforce Founder and CEO Marc Benioff has lamented that San Francisco, where ironically he is from, is a diabolical “train wreck” and urged fellow tech CEOs to “walk down the street” and see it with their own eyes to observe the numerous homeless encampments dotted around the city limits.
The leader of Salesforce doesn’t mince his words when he talks and beelines to the heart of the issues.
In condemning large swaths of the beneficiaries of the Silicon Valley ethos, he has signaled that it won’t be smooth sailing forever.
He has also urged companies to transform their business model if they are irresponsible with user data.
The tech lash could get messier this year because companies that go rogue with personal data will face a cringeworthy reckoning as government policy stiffens.
I have walked around the streets of San Francisco myself.
Places around Powell Bart station close to the Tenderloin district are eyesores littered with used syringes that lay in the gutter.
South of Market Street (SoMa) isn’t a place I would want to barbecue on a terrace either.
Summing it up, the unlimited tech talent reservoir that Silicon Valley gorged on isn’t flowing anymore because people don’t want to live there anymore.
This is exactly what Apple’s $1 billion investment into a new tech campus in Austin, Texas, and Amazon adding 500 employees in Nashville, Tennessee are all about.
Apple also added numbers in San Diego, Atlanta, Culver City, and Boulder just to name a few.
Apple currently employs 90,000 people in 50 states and is in the works to create 20,000 more jobs in the US by 2023.
Most of these new jobs won’t be in Silicon Valley.
Jobs simply flock to where the talent is.
The tables have turned but that is what happens when the heart of western tech becomes unlivable to the average tech worker earning $150,000 per year.
Sacramento has experienced a dizzying rise of newcomers from the Bay Area escaping the sky-high housing.
Millennials are reaching that age of family formation and they are fleeing to places that are affordable and possible to take the first step onto the property ladder.
These are some of the practical issues that tech has failed to address, and part of the problem with unfettered capitalism which doesn’t consider quality of life.
No wonder why Silicon Valley real estate has dropped in the past year, people and their paychecks are on the way out.
Global Market Comments
October 18, 2019
(OCTOBER 16 BIWEEKLY STRATEGY WEBINAR Q&A),
(SPX), (C), (GM), (IWM), ($RUT), (FB),
(INTC), (AA), (BBY), (M), (RTN), (FCX), GLD)
Below please find subscribers’ Q&A for the Mad Hedge Fund Trader October 16 Global Strategy Webinar broadcast from Silicon Valley, CA with my guest and co-host Bill Davis of the Mad Day Trader. Keep those questions coming!
Q: How do you think the S&P 500 (SPX) will behave with the China trade negotiations going on?
A: Nobody really knows; no one has any advantage here and logic or rationality doesn’t seem to apply anymore. It suffices to say it will continue to be up and down, depending on the trade headline of the day. It’s what I call a “close your eyes and trade” market. If it’s down, buy it; if it’s, upsell it.
Q: How long can Trump keep kicking the can down the road?
A: Indefinitely, unless he wants to fold completely. It looks like he was bested in the latest round of negotiations because the Chinese agreed to buy $50 billion worth of food they were going to buy anyway in exchange for a tariff freeze. Of course, you really don’t get a trade deal unless you get a tariff roll back to where they were two years ago.
Q: Did I miss the update on the Citigroup (C) trade?
A: Yes, we came out of Citigroup a week ago for a small profit or a break-even. You should always check our website where we post our trading position sheet every day as a backstop to any trade alerts you’re getting by email. Occasionally emails just go completely missing, swallowed up by the ether. To find it go to www.madhedgefundtrader.com , log in, go to My Account, Global Trading Dispatch, then Current Positions. You can also find my newly updated long-term portfolio here.
Q: How much pain will General Motors (GM) incur from this standoff, and will they ever reach a compromise?
A: Yes, the union somewhat blew it in striking GM when they had incredibly high inventories which the company is desperate to get rid of ahead of a recession. If you wonder where all those great car deals are coming from, that’s the reason. All of the car companies want to go into a recession with as little inventory as possible. It’s not just GM, it’s everybody with the same problem.
Q: When does the New Daily Position Sheet get posted?
A: About every hour after the close each day. We need time to process our trades, update all the position sheets before getting it posted.
Q: What do you think about Bitcoin?
A: We hate it and don’t want to touch it. It’s unanalyzable, and only the insiders are making money.
Q: Are you predicting a repeat of Fall 2018 going into the end of this year to close at the lows?
A: No, I’m not. A year ago, we were looking at four interest rate increases to come. This year we’re looking at 1 or 2 more interest rate cuts. It’s nowhere near the situation we saw a year ago. The most we’re going to get is a 7% selloff rather than a 20% selloff and if anything, stocks will rise into the yearend then fall.
Q: Why are we trading the Russell 200 (IWM) instead of the ($RUT) Small Cap Index? We pay less commissions to brokers.
A: There’s more liquidity in the (IWM). You have to remember that the combined buying power of the trade alert service is about $1 billion. And that’s harder to do with smaller illiquid ETFs like the ($RUT), especially the options.
Q: If this is a “Don’t fight the Fed” rally for investors, where else is there to go but stocks?
A: Nowhere. But it’s happening in the face of an oncoming recession, so it’s not exactly a great investment opportunity, just a trading one. 2009 was a great time not to fight the Fed.
Q: Do you want to buy Facebook (FB) even though there are so many threats of government scrutiny and antitrust breakups?
A: The anti-trust breakups are never going to happen; the government can’t even define what Facebook does. There may be more requirements on disclosures, which means nothing because nobody really cares about disclosures—they just click the box and agree to anything. I was actually looking at this as a buy when we had the big selloff at the end of September and instead, I bought four other Tech stocks and (FB) had moved too far when we got around to it. I think there’s upside potential for Facebook, especially if we can move out of this current range.
Q: Would you sell short European banks? It seems like they’re cutting jobs right and left.
A: I always get this question after big market meltdowns. European banks have been underpricing risks for decades and now the chickens are coming home to roost. Some of these things are down 80-90% so it’s too late to sell short. The next financial crisis is going to be in Europe, not here.
Q: Is it time to short Best Buy (BBY) due to the China deal?
A: No, like Macys (M), Best Buy is heavily dependent on imports from China, and the stock has gotten so low it’s hard to short. And the problem for the whole market in general is all the best sectors to short are already destroyed, down 80-90%. There really is nothing left to short, now that all the bad sectors have been going down for nearly two years. There has been a massive bear market in large chunks of the market which no one has really noticed. So, that might be another reason the market is going up—that we’ve run out of things to short.
Q: Do you like Intel (INTC)?
A: Yes, for the long term. Short term it still could face some headwinds from the China negotiations, where they have a huge business.
Q: Would you buy American Airlines (AA) on the return of Boeing 737 MAX to the fleet?
A: Absolutely, yes. The big American buyers of those planes are really suffering from a shortage of planes. A return of the 737 MAX to the assembly line is great news for the entire industry.
Q: Do you like Raytheon (RTN)?
A: No, Trump has been the defense industry’s best friend. If he exits in the picture, defense will get slaughtered—it will be the first on the chopping block under a future democratic administration. And, if you’re doing nothing but retreating from your allies, you don’t need weapons anyway.
Q: Will Freeport McMoRan (FCX) benefit from a trade war resolution?
A: Yes, the fact that it isn’t moving now is an indication that a trade war resolution has not been reached. (FCX) has huge exposure to traditional metal bashing industries like they still have in China.
Q: Would you go long or short gold (GLD) here?
A: No, I’m waiting for a bigger dip. If you can get in close to the 200-day moving average at $129.50, that would be the sweet spot. Longer term I still like gold and it is a great recession hedge.
Good Luck and Good Trading!
CEO & Publisher
The Diary of a Mad Hedge Fund Trader
Global Market Comments
October 17, 2019
(UPDATING THE MAD HEDGE LONG TERM MODEL PORTFOLIO),
(USO), (XLV), (CI), (CELG), (BIIB), (AMGN), (CRSP), (IBM), (PYPL), (SQ), (JPM), (BAC), (EEM), (DXJ), (FCX), (GLD)
I rarely make changes to the Mad Hedge Long Term Model Investment Portfolio.
This is my shot at recommending portfolios of assets and individual stocks that investors never have to touch. You just put your money in, and don’t cash in until you hit your retirement age of 65 or 70.
After all, changes in the drivers of our $22 trillion economy rarely occur. Trends usually last for decades.
However, this year is completely different. The rate of change in the drivers of our economy is changing so fast that the whole idea of “long term” is becoming a distant relic. Not to update my portfolio would have been irresponsible.
So please find the new Mad Hedge Long Term Model Portfolio by clicking here. You must be logged into your account to gain access. There you can download an Excel spreadsheet containing the entire portfolio.
Here are my comments on the changes.
I have taken my energy weighting (USO) from 10% to zero. With falling demand and rising supply from fracking and alternatives, it is hard to see that any investment in the area will do well. When Saudi Arabia wants to get out of the oil business, as it was with its ARAMCO IPO, so do you. Eventually energy prices will approach near zero.
I am increasing my allocation to biotech healthcare (XLV) from 20% to 25%, which I believe will become one of the two dominant sectors of the 2020s. Scientific advancement is accelerating on all front, creating enormous profit opportunities. This is why I launched the Mad Hedge Biotech and Healthcare letter.
I am also increasing my weighting in technology from 25% to 30% as their share of the global economy expands significantly. I am changing the mix here, taking our holding in legacy IBM (IBM) and adding PayPal (PYPL) and Square (SQ), betting on the future of fintech.
I am maintaining my share of banks at 10%, betting on an eventual resurgence in interest rates and the growth of the US economy. JP Morgan Chase (JPM) and Bank of America (BAC) are looking good and are selling below book value.
I am keeping my international exposure at a low 10%. But I am doing a substitution, dumping Europe and adding the iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ETF. (EEM) has been down for so long that it has essentially already discounted the next recession.
As for bonds, I am cutting my allocation from 10% to zero. With a ten-year US Treasury bond yield at 1.72%, the risk/reward for this entire asset class on a long-term basis is terrible. Adding $1.5 trillion in new debt every year will come back to haunt this market.
I am cutting my short position into the foreign exchange market from 20% and flipping to a long of 10%. As long as the US has the world’s highest major currency interest rates, the downside will be limited. However, the end of the Brexit saga will also be hugely Euro positive.
Regarding commodities, I am keeping my 5% holding in Freeport McMoRan (FCX), which has already fully discounted the next recession. You need to have some cash in areas that will explode coming out the other side of the next short recession, and this is one of them.
I am also reentering the gold market on the long side with a 10% weighting. Gold (GLD) is a hedge against the next recession and is also a play on China moving a major portion of its reserves out of US Treasuries and into precious metals.
Staying out of agriculture completely has been one of the smartest things I have done in recent years. I have even stopped covering it in my newsletters. It has been a major trade war victim as I expected. But it is also suffering from hyper-accelerating technology, which is delivering ever large amounts of crops at very lower prices. Here zero stays zero.
So, that’s it. Make your reallocations and go back to sleep. I’ll wake you up at the end of 2020.
Energy – 0%
Healthcare – 25%
Technology – 30%
Banks – 10%
International – 10%
Bonds – 0%
Foreign Exchange – 10%
Commodities – 5%
Precious Metals – 10%
Agriculture – 0%
Total – 100%
“Artificial Intelligence is potentially more dangerous than nukes,” said Andrew McAfee of the MIT Center for Digital Business.
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