Global Market Comments
October 16, 2019
(A NOTE ON ASSIGNED OPTIONS OR OPTIONS CALLED AWAY),
(DECODING THE GREENBACK),
Global Market Comments
October 16, 2019
(A NOTE ON ASSIGNED OPTIONS OR OPTIONS CALLED AWAY),
(DECODING THE GREENBACK),
With stock market volatility greatly elevated and trading volumes through the roof, there is a heightened probability that your short options position gets called away.
If it does there, is only one thing to do: fall down on your knees and thank your lucky stars. You have just made the maximum possible profit on your position.
Most of you have short options position, although you may not realize it. For when you buy an in-the-money call option spread, it contains two elements: a long call and a short call. The short call can get assigned or called away at any time.
You have to be careful here because the inexperienced can blow their newfound windfall if they take the wrong action, so here’s how to handle it.
The 5:30 AM phone call was as shrill as it was urgent.
A reader had employed one of my favorite strategies, buying the Microsoft (MSFT) November 2018 $90-$95 in-the-money vertical call spread at $4.50.
He had just received an email from his broker informing him that his short position in the (MSFT) November $95 calls was assigned and exercised against him.
He asked me what to do.
I said, “Nothing.”
For what the broker had in effect done is allow him to get out of his call spread position at the maximum profit point 20 days before the November 16 expiration date.
All he had to do was call his broker and instruct him to exercise his long position in his November $90 calls to close out his short position in the $95 calls.
Calls are a right to buy shares at a fixed price before a fixed date, and one option contract is exercisable into 100 shares.
In other words, he bought (MSFT) at $90 and sold it at $95, paid $4.50 cents for the right to do so, his profit is 50 cents, or ($0.50 X 100 shares X 22 contracts) = $1,100. Not bad for a nine-day limited risk play.
Sounds like a good trade to me.
Weird stuff like this happens in the run-up to options expirations.
A call owner may need to sell a long stock position right at the close and exercising his long November $95 calls is the only way to execute it.
Ordinary shares may not be available in the market, or maybe a limit order didn’t get done by the stock market close.
There are thousands of algorithms out there, which may arrive at some twisted logic that the puts need to be exercised.
Many require rebalancing of hedges at the close every day, which can be achieved through option exercises.
And yes, calls even get exercised by accident. There are still a few humans left in this market to blow it.
And here’s another possible outcome in this process.
Your broker will call you to notify you of an option called away, and then give you the wrong advice on what to do about it.
This generates tons of commissions for the broker, but is a terrible thing for the trader to do from a risk point of view, likely generating a loss by the time everything is closed and netted out.
Avarice could have been an explanation here, but I think stupidity, poor training, and low wages are much more likely.
Brokers have so many ways to steal money legally that they don’t need to resort to the illegal kind.
This exercise process is now fully automated at most brokers, but it never hurts to follow up with a phone call if you get an exercise notice. Mistakes do happen.
Some may also send you a link to a video of what to do about all this.
If any of you are the slightest bit worried or confused by all of this, come out of your position RIGHT NOW at a small profit! You should never be worried or confused about any position tying up YOUR money.
Professionals do these things all day long, and exercises become second nature, just another cost of doing business.
If you do this long enough, eventually you get hit. I bet you don’t.
If you need a new investment theme – here’s one.
Yes, the same 3D printing that was once considered a raging but hopeless fad.
A lot has changed since then.
Early adopters were largely cut down at the knees as they tried to traverse the rocky terrain from a niche market to going full out mainstream.
Production complications and the lack of specialists in the industry meant that problems were rampant and nurturing an industry from scratch is harder than you think.
Believe me, I’ve been there and done that.
It is time to stand up and take notice of 3D printing, this time it is here to stay.
Certain tech companies love this technology like e-commerce company Etsy (ETSY) who focuses on personalized handcrafts.
The cost of production doesn’t change whether you’re producing one item or a million because of the economies of scale.
The previous 3D printing bonanza was a frenzy and this corner of tech became known for the use of buzzwords representing the potential to reinvent the world.
With lofty expectations, there was a natural disappointment when outsiders understood growing pains were part of the critical evolution instead of a direct route to profits.
The initial goal was to democratize production which sounds eerily similar to bitcoins mantra of democratizing money.
The way to do this was to make it simple to produce whatever one wishes.
That would assume that the general public could pick up professional production 3D printing skills on arrival.
That was wishful thinking.
The truth was that applying 3D printers was tedious.
Issues cropped up like faulty first-generation hardware or software -problems that overwhelmed newbies.
Then if everything was going smoothly on that front, there was the larger issue of realizing it’s just a lot harder to design specific things than initially thought without a deep working knowledge of computer-aided software (CAD) design.
Most people know how to throw a football, but that doesn’t mean that most people can be Super Bowl quarterback Tom Brady.
The high-quality 3D printing designs were reserved for authentic professionals that could put together complicated designs.
The move to compiling a comprehensive library will help spur on the 3D printing revolution while upping the foundational skill base.
Then there is the fact that 3D printing technology is heaps better now than it once was, and the printing technology has come down in price making it more affordable for the masses.
These trends will propel broad-based adoption and as the printing process standardizes, more products can rely on this technology from scratch.
The holy grail of 3D printing would be 3D printing on demand, but imagine this on-demand 3D printing would function to personalize a physical product on the spot.
Think of a hungry customer walking into a restaurant and not even looking at a menu because one sentence would be enough to trigger specific models in the database that could conjure up the design for the meal.
This would involve integrating artificial intelligence into 3D printing and the production process would quicken to minutes, even seconds.
At some point, crafting the perfect meal or designing a personalized Tuscan villa could take minutes.
The 3D printing industry is reaching an inflection point where the advancement of the technology, expertise, and an updated production process are percolating together at the perfect time.
The company at the forefront of this phenomenon is Stratasys (SSYS).
Stratasys produces in-office prototypes and direct digital manufacturing systems for automotive, aerospace, industrial, recreational, electronic, medical and consumer products.
And when I talk about real pros who have the intellectual property to whip out a complex CAD-based 3D design, I am specifically talking about Stratasys who have been in this business since the industry was in its infancy.
And if you add in the integration of cloud software, 3D printing would dovetail nicely with it.
All the elements are in perfect in place to fuel this industry into the mainstream.
Take for example airplanes made by Boeing (BA) and Airbus – 3D printer-designed parts comprise only 0.1% of the actual plane now.
It is estimated that 3D printed design parts could potentially consist up to 25% of the overall plane.
These massive airline manufacturers like Boeing (BA) have profit margins of around 15% to 20%, and carving out more 3D printer-designed parts to integrate into the main design will boost profit margins close to 60%.
The development of the 3D printing process into aerospace technology is happening fast with Boeing inking a multi-year collaboration agreement with Swiss technology and engineering group Oerlikon to develop standard processes and materials for metal 3D printing.
Any combat pilot knows who Oerlikon is because they are famed for building ultra-highspeed machines to shoot down, you guessed it, airplanes and missiles.
They will collaborate to use the data resulting from their agreement to support the creation of a standard titanium 3D printing processes.
GE’s Aviation’s GEnx-2B aircraft engine for the Boeing 747-8 is applying a 3D printed bracket approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for the engine, replacing a traditionally manufactured power door opening system (PDOS) bracket.
With the positive revelations that the (FAA) is supporting the adoption of 3D printing-based designs, GE has already started mass production of the 3D printed brackets at its Auburn, Alabama facility.
Defense companies are also dipping their toe into the water with aerospace company Lockheed Martin (LMT), the world’s largest defense contractor, winning a $5.8 million contract with the Office of Naval Research to help further develop 3D printing for the aerospace industry.
They will partner up to investigate the use of artificial intelligence in training robots to independently oversee the 3D printing of complex aerospace components.
3D printed designs have the potential to crash the cost of making big-ticket items from cars to nuclear plants while substantially shortening the manufacturing process.
As it stands, Stratasys is the industry leader in this field and if you believe in this long term then this stock would be for you.
It’s nonetheless still a speculative punt but a compelling pocket of the tech industry.
“Capitalism has worked very well. Anyone who wants to move to North Korea is welcome.” – Said Founder and Former CEO of Microsoft Bill Gates
Global Market Comments
October 15, 2019
(HOW TO HANDLE THE FRIDAY, OCTOBER 18 OPTIONS EXPIRATION),
(ONLY TEN MORE DAYS UNTIL THE MAD HEDGE LAKE TAHOE, NEVADA CONFERENCE, OCTOBER 25-26, 2019)
Followers of the Global Trading Dispatch have the good fortune to own THREE deep in-the-money options position that expires on Friday, October 18, and I just want to explain to the newbies how to best maximize their profits.
These involves the:
the Russell 2000 (IWM) October 2019 $137-$142 in-the-money vertical Bull call spread at $5.00
the Russell 2000 (IWM) October 2019 $153-$156 in-the-money vertical BEAR PUT spread at $3.00
the United States Oil Fund (USO) October 2019 $9.50-$10.00 in-the-money vertical Bull call spread at $0.50
The total profit on all three positions will increase the value of our $100,000 model trading portfolio by an impressive 4.55%, or $4,550. These positions only became possible due to the extreme volatility (VIX) seen in the market in October, thanks to trade war fears, euphoria, then feat again.
Given that all of these positions are 5% in-the-money or more, we have enough of a cushion to run these into the Friday option expiration.
Provided that we don’t have a monster “RISK OFF” move in the market this week (more failure of the China trade talks? War with Iran? A massacre in Hong Kong?) which causes stocks to collapse and volatility to rocket, these positions should expire at its maximum profit points. So far, so good.
I’ll do the math for you on the first Russell 2000 position. Your profit can be calculated as follows:
Profit: $5.00 – $4.45 = $0.55
(22 contracts X 100 shares per option X $0.55 net profit)
= $1,210 or 12.46% in 13 trading days.
Many of you have already emailed me asking what to do with these winning positions.
The answer is very simple. You take your left hand, grab your right wrist, pull it behind your neck, and pat yourself on the back for a job well done.
You don’t have to do anything.
Your broker (are they still called that?) will automatically use your long position to cover your short position, canceling out the total holdings.
The entire profit will be credited to your account on Monday morning October 21 and the margin freed up.
Some firms charge you a modest $10 or $15 fee for performing this service.
If you don’t see the cash show up in your account on Monday, get on the blower immediately and find it.
Although the expiration process is now supposed to be fully automated, occasionally mistakes do occur. Better to sort out any confusion before losses ensue.
If you want to wimp out and close the position before the expiration, it may be expensive to do so. You can probably unload them pennies below their maximum expiration value.
Keep in mind that the liquidity in the options market disappears, and the spreads substantially widen, when a security has only hours, or minutes until expiration on Friday. So, if you plan to exit, do so well before the final expiration at the Friday market close.
This is known in the trade as the “expiration risk.”
One way or the other, I’m sure you’ll do OK, as long as I am looking over your shoulder, as I will be, always. Think of me as your trading guardian angel.
I am going to hang back and wait for good entry points before jumping back in. It’s all about keeping that “Buy low, Sell high” thing going.
I’m looking to cherry-pick my new positions going into the next quarter-end.
Take your winnings and go out and buy yourself a well-earned dinner. Or use it to put a down payment on a long cruise.
Well done, and on to the next trade.
“Incentive structures work, so you have to be very careful about what you incent people to do because various incentive structures create all sorts of consequences which you can’t anticipate,” said Apple founder Steve Jobs.
Global Market Comments
October 14, 2019
(MARKET OUTLOOK FOR THE WEEK AHEAD, or UNICORNS AND CANDY CANE)
(AAPL), (FDX), (SPY), (IWM), (USO), (WMT), (AAPL), (GOOGL),
(X), (JPM), (WFC), (C), (BAC)
I have to tell you that flip-flopping from extreme optimism to extreme pessimism and back is a trader’s dream come true. Volatility is our bread and butter.
Long term followers know that when volatility is low, I struggle to make 1% or 2% a month. When it is high, I make 10% to 20%, as I have for two of the last three months.
That is what the month of October has delivered so far.
To see how well this works, the S&P 500 is dead unchanged so far this month, while the Mad Hedge Fund Trader alert service is up a gangbuster 10% and we are now 70% in cash.
While the market is unchanged in two years, risk has been continuously rising. That’s because year on year earnings growth has fallen from 26% to zero. That means with an unchanged index, stocks are 26% more expensive.
Entire chunks of the market have been in a bear market since 2017, including industrials, autos, energy, and retailers. US Steel (X), which the president’s tariffs were supposed to rescue, has crashed 80% since the beginning of 2018.
The great irony here is that while the Dow Average is just short of an all-time high, all of the good short positions have already been exhausted. In short, there is nothing to do.
So, the wise thing to do here is to use the 1,200-point rally since Thursday to raise cash you can put to work during the next round of disappointment, which always comes. If we do forge to new highs, they will be incremental ones at best. That’s when you let your passive indexing friends pick up the next bar tab, who unintentionally caught the move.
In the meantime, we will be bracing ourselves for the big bank earnings due out this week which are supposed to be dismal at best. JP Morgan (JPM), Wells Fargo (WFC), and Citigroup (C) are out on Tuesday and Bank of America (BAC) publishes on Wednesday.
That’s when we find out how much of this move has been about unicorns and candy canes, and how much is real.
Trump demoed his Own trade talks, creating a technology blacklist and banning US pension investment into the Middle Kingdom. He also hints he’ll take a small deal rather than a big one. Great for American farmers but leaves intellectual property and forced joint ventures on the table, throwing the California economy under the bus. I knew it would end this way. It’s very market negative. Without a trade deal, there is no way to avoid a US recession in 2020.
The Inverted Yield Curve is flashing “recession.” The three-month Treasury yield has been above the 10-year bond yield since May, and that always says a downturn is coming. The time to batten down the hatches is now.
US Producer Prices plunged in September, down 0.3%, the worst since January. It’s another recession indicator but also pushes the Fed to lower rates further.
Inflation was Zero in September, with the Consumer Price Index up 1.8% YOY. Slowing economy due to the trade war gets the blame, but I think that accelerating technology gets the bigger blame.
New Job Openings hit an 18-month low, down 123,000 to 7.05 million in August, as employers pull back in anticipation of the coming recession. Trade war gets the blame. The smart people don’t hire ahead of a recession.
FedEx (FDX) is dead money, says a Bernstein analyst, citing failing domestic and international sales. No pulling any punches, he said “The bull thesis has been shredded.” Not what you want to hear from this classic recession leading indicator. Nobody ships anything during a slowdown.
Loss of SALT Deductions cost you $1 trillion, or about 4% per home, according to an analysis by Standard & Poor’s. Quite simply, losing the ability to deduct state and local tax deductions creates a higher after-tax cost of carry that reduces your asset value. If you bought a home in 2017 you lost half of your equity almost immediately. The east and west coast were especially hard hit.
Fed to expand balance sheet to deal with the short-term repo funding crisis, which periodically has been driving overnight interest rates up to an incredible 5%. Massive government borrowing is starting to break the existing financial system. What they’re really doing is trying to head off to the next recession.
The Fed September minutes came out, and traders seem to be expecting more rate cuts than the Fed is. Trade is still the overriding concern. The next meeting is October 29-30. It could all end in tears.
Apple (AAPL) raised iPhone 11 Production by 10%, to 8 million more units, according Asian parts suppliers. Great news for its $1,089 top priced product ahead of the Christmas rush. It turns out that an Apple app is helping Hong Kong protesters manage demonstrations. I’m keeping my long, letting the shares run to a new all-time high. Buy (AAPL) on the dips.
The Mad Hedge Trader Alert Service has blasted through to yet another new all-time high. My Global Trading Dispatch reached new apex of +347.48% and my year-to-date accelerated to +47.24%. The tricky and volatile month of October started out with a roar +9.82%. My ten-year average annualized profit bobbed up to +35.64%.
Some 26 out of the last 27 trade alerts have made money, a success rate of 94%! Underpromise and overdeliver, that’s 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.
I used the recession fear-induced selloff after October 1 to pile on a large aggressive short-dated portfolio which I will run into expiration. I am 60% long with the (SPY), (IWM), (USO), (WMT), (AAPL), and (GOOGL). I am 10% short with one position in the (IWM) giving me a net risk position of 50% long. All of them are working.
The coming week is pretty non-eventful of the data front. Maybe the stock market will be non-eventful as well.
On Monday, October 14, nothing of note is published.
On Tuesday, October 15 at 8:30 AM, the New York Empire State Manufacturing Index is released. JP Morgan (JPM), Wells Fargo (WFC), and Citigroup (C) kick off the Q3 earnings season with reports.
On Wednesday, October 16, at 8:30 AM, we learn the September Retail Sales. Bank of America (BAC) and CSX Corp. (CSX) report.
On Thursday, October 17 at 8:30 AM, the Housing Starts for September are out. Morgan Stanley (MS) reports.
On Friday, October 18 at 8:30 AM, the Baker Hughes Rig Count is released at 2:00 PM. Schlumberger (SLB), American Express (AXP), and Coca-Cola (KO) report.
As for me, I’ll be going to Costco to restock the fridge after last week’s two-day voluntary power outage by PG&E. Expecting Armageddon, I finished off all the Jack Daniels and chocolate in the house. We managed to eat all of our frozen burritos, pork chops, steaks, and ice cream in a mere 48 hours. But that’s what happens when you have two teenagers.
Hopefully, it will rain soon for the first time in six months bringing these outages to an end.
Good luck and good trading.
CEO & Publisher
The Diary of a Mad Hedge Fund Trader
Is Waymo the real deal?
That is my takeaway from an analyst cutting the valuation estimate by 40% for Alphabet’s autonomous car subsidiary Waymo from $175 billion to $105 billion.
At $175 billion, investors were giving Waymo the benefit of the doubt plus a generous serving of hyperbole when this unproven technology has never in the history of mankind been monetized successfully before.
Well, $105 billion is a stretch in current times and that valuation might need to be revisited a few months down the line as well.
In a stock market that has frowned upon the waterfall of cheap money of late to fuel its absurd risk/reward strategies, Waymo’s haircut falls in line echoes the same parallels.
This current market climate is more about bulletproof balance sheets and the Waymos, Ubers and Lyfts of the world are getting a nice bench seat in the penalty box.
Today marked an even lower nadir with Uber Technologies Inc. announcing that it is on the verge of acquiring a majority stake in online grocer Cornershop, a deal designed to both extend its geographic reach and boost profits by commingling food delivery with rides.
Cornershop is a digital grocer in Santiago, Chile.
Yes, Chile, the country in South America.
It’s hard to believe that Uber must reach that far down the olive branch to grow.
Prepare yourself for anything like pig farms in Zimbabwe or plumbing businesses in Baku, Azerbaijan.
Who really knows anymore!
These types of exotic purchases are exactly what Mr. Market despises in a climate of negative tech earnings growth.
But I do believe Uber is at the point where CEO Dara Khosrowshahi must become the unlikely savior as the alarm bells are ringing with current Uber investors presiding over a calamitous decline in shares since the IPO.
It’s a rough one and tough sledding for tech executives in 2019.
And it’s no surprise why the number of fired tech CEOs has mushroomed from the CEO of eBay Devin Wenig to the fake tech CEO of office-sharing company WeWork Adam Neuman who spectacularly lost $3.5 billion of personal wealth in less than 30 days.
He is still left with $600 million but his story epitomizes the tech climate right now and there are no free lunches.
So is Waymo ready to deliver or is it a charade?
Waymo pinged an email to customers of its ride-hailing app that their next trip might not have a human safety driver behind the wheel.
The email, entitled “Completely driverless Waymo cars are on the way,” was sent to riders in Phoenix.
A geofenced area that covers several suburbs, including Chandler and Tempe, have a human safety driver behind the wheel and the grid-like setup makes it easy for self-driving technology to perform well.
Waymo has dabbled in Chandler, Ariz. in 2016 and has slowly built this program toward commercial deployment.
Recently, Waymo opened its second technical service center in the Phoenix area to serve a doubling of the fleet.
The general public has never gotten a taste of this technology and I bet it will be years before Waymo is ready and not the late 2019 and early 2020 projection they promised us a few years ago.
There are too many known unknowns that have yet to be solved such as what limitations Waymo will place on these rides.
Waymo is effective in controlled environments but thrown in the natural elements, nighttime, and unforeseen circumstances and the effectiveness deteriorates by orders of a magnitude.
I believe the hurdles relating to the commercialization and advancement of autonomous driving technology will keep slowing Waymo’s march towards success.
Analysts have underestimated how long safety drivers will accompany cars with the most likely outcome a broad-based delay of the rollout of autonomous ridesharing services.
Profitability has been vastly miscalculated as well.
Each driverless car unit is more expensive than first thought and will stay operationally loss-making for years longer.
The technology isn’t advancing at the rate it was when this technology was incubated, Waymo has clearly plateaued and there is a bottleneck in terms of meaningful solutions.
Alphabet has already invested deeply into driverless cars.
Not only them, but Uber already had spent over $1 billion on autonomous cars at the time they went public.
I won’t say this is a black hole of investment capital, but the losses will keep mounting for the next few years and there is no inflection point in sight.
Waymo will continue to be a drag on Alphabet’s earnings after there were such high hopes for the rapid deployment of self-driving cars.
There is a light at the end of a dark tunnel, but that light seems further away than ever.
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