“The entire market is trading like a biotech stock,” said Steve Weiss, a portfolio manager.
Today’s tech newsletter might be the most important one you will ever read.
It’s my job to pinpoint exactly what is going on in tech and disburse this information in a way that readers can take advantage of.
The tech market is all about striking when the iron is hot.
The five largest stocks in the S&P 500, Microsoft, Amazon, Apple, Google, and Facebook have accrued a combined valuation that surpasses the valuations of the stocks at the bottom 350 of the index.
This means that if you weren’t in tech the past few years, chances are that your portfolio significantly underperformed the broader market.
Even in August 2018, many active managers could have thrown in the towel and said the late economic cycle was way too frothy for their taste and time to take profits.
Little did they know that betting against it would equate to self-firing themselves because to retrieve the same type of performance would have meant staying in tech through the coronavirus scare.
Many in the trading community would even go as far as to say to wait for the bear market, then big tech would get hammered first and deepest because of their lofty valuations.
These tech companies were in for a rude awakening and shares had to consolidate, right?
Well, anyone who doesn’t live under a rock is seeing the exact opposite happen with Amazon, Microsoft, and Apple valuated above $1 trillion and still soaring as we speak.
This goes to show that betting against something because they are “too expensive” or “too cheap” is a fool’s game.
Just take oil that many retail investors bought because they came to the conclusion that oil could never go below zero.
Then playing oil through an ETF with massive contango means that the index is likely to go down even if the price of oil is up.
Not only do investors bear insanely high risk in these trading vehicles, but also a systemic risk of oil ETFs blowing up.
Oil is cheap, and it can get cheaper, while tech is expensive and can get a lot more expensive.
Until there are structural changes, there is no point to bet on a sudden reversal out of thin air.
Betting against things that an individual perceives as unsustainable and secretly hoping that they cannot continue to go on is probably the worst strategy that I have ever heard of in my life.
The reality is that these things are sustainable and tech shares will keep moving higher uninterrupted until they don’t.
Active managers are the ones who set market prices and they help the momentum accelerate in tech with full knowledge that if they miss out, there is likely no other solution to hit yearend targets.
What active manager doesn’t want their year-end bonus?
Even analyze the value investors who in a normal world would not even consider tech companies because they avoid the traditional “growth” profile.
Funnily enough, these “value” investors have Microsoft in their portfolios now even though it is not even close to a value stock.
So what has Microsoft accomplished recently?
CEO of Microsoft Satya Nadella has rebuilt a company Microsoft that is now equal in value to The Financial Times Stock Exchange 100 Index, the share index of the 100 companies listed on the London Stock Exchange with the highest market capitalization.
That’s right, one American company is just as valuable as the top 100 public companies in England.
An even broader view of tech would give us an even more stunning snapshot of tech showing that the Top 5 tech stocks are now worth more than the entire developed stock market outside the U.S. such as Europe, Canada, Japan, Hong Kong combined.
Then take into consideration that these companies are on the cusp of penetrating high margin industries like medicine and healthcare which will translate into another golden decade of accelerating revenue and elevated profits relative to the rest of the S&P index.
The U.S. is a place where unfettered capitalism is promoted and implemented, and tech’s outperformance manifests itself by underscoring the winner-takes-all mentality.
Americans like winners and the rules are no different in corporate America.
These 5 tech names have contributed 23% of the gains in the past month and until they falter, there will be no tech sell-off.
Global Market Comments
April 24, 2020
(APRIL 22 BIWEEKLY STRATEGY WEBINAR Q&A),
(SPY), (INDU), (GILD), (NEM), (GOLD), (USO),
(SOYB), (CORN), (SHOP), (PALL), (AMZN)
Below please find subscribers’ Q&A for the Mad Hedge Fund Trader April 22 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: Will Trump louse up the recovery by bringing people back to work too soon?
A: Absolutely, that’s a risk. Georgia is reopening in a couple of days, which is purely a political decision because all of the scientists have advised against it. If that creates a secondary Corona wave, which we will know in a few weeks, then no one else is going to reopen early and the depression instantly goes from a three-month one to a six or nine-month one. Nobody wants tens of thousands of deaths on their hands. If we do reopen early, it could create a secondary spike in cases and deaths that hit around the Fall, right before the election. That is absolutely what the administration does not want to see, but they’re pursuing a course that will almost guarantee that result, so I wouldn’t be traveling to the Midwest anytime soon. Actually, I’m not going to be traveling anywhere because all the planes are grounded. Trump’s strategy is that Corona will magically go away in the summer, and those are his exact words.
Q: What is the Fed’s next move?
A: I don’t think they will go to negative interest rates. The disruptions to the financial system would be too widespread. Nobody is having a problem borrowing money right now unless they are in the housing market and that is totally gridlocked. Probably, the best thing is to expand QE and keep buying more fixed income instruments. They are essentially buying everything now, including mortgage-backed securities, junk bonds, securitized student loan debt, and everything except stocks. Today, we heard that the FHA is now buying defaulted mortgages which account for 6% of all the home mortgages out there, so that should help a lot in bringing the 30-year mortgage rate back in line with the 10-year, which would put it in the mid twos. So, more QE is the most likely thing there.
Q: What do you think of Remdesivir from Gilead Sciences (GILD)? Is it a buy at current levels?
A: We recommended this six months ago with our Mad Hedge Biotech & Healthcare Letter and got a spectacular result (click here for the link). This is a broad-spectrum antiviral that worked against MERS and SARS. We think it’s one of many possible treatments for the Coronavirus but it is not a vaccine. Buying the stock here is downright scary, up 30% since January. We love biotech for the long term, but this is a terrible entry point for Gilead. If it drops suddenly 10-20% on this selloff, then maybe.
Q: You seem very confident we’re going lower again. I’m reminded of the December selloff of 2018 where we saw a very quick recovery and a lot of people were shut out.
A: The difference then is that we didn’t have a global pandemic which has killed 47,000 Americans and may kill another 47,000 or more before it’s all over. And I think it’s going to take a lot longer for the government to reopen the economy than they think. And corporate share buybacks, the main driver of the bull market of the past decade, are now completely absent.
Q: You seem to prefer spreads to LEAPS. Is that the only strategy you use?
A: I’m not putting long term LEAPS (Long Term Equity Participation Securities) in the model portfolio because they have two years to expiration, and I don’t want to tie up our entire trading portfolio in a two-year position. So, we are doing front months in the model trading portfolio, but every week I’m sending out lists of LEAPS for people to buy on the dips. Of course, you should go out to 2022 to minimize your risks and you should only buy them on the down 500 or 800-point days. Put a bid in on the bid side of the market (the low side of the market), and if you get a sudden puke out, a margin call, or an algorithm, you will get hit with these things at really good prices. That is the way to do long term LEAPS.
Q: Why do you think the true vaccine is a year off?
A: If you took Epidemiology 101, which I did in college, you’ll learn that when you have a very large number of cases, the mutation rate vastly accelerates. My doctor here in Incline Village tested blood samples he took in northern Nevada in December and found that there were two Coronavirus variants, two different mutations. So, if there are only two, we would be really lucky. The problem is that these diseases mutate very quickly, and by the time you get a vaccine working, the DNA of the virus has moved on and last year’s vaccine doesn’t work anymore. That’s why when you get a flu shot, it includes flu variants from five different outbreaks around the world every year, and I’ve been getting those for 40 years, so I already have the antibodies for 200 different flu variations floating around my system as antibodies. Maybe that’s why I never get sick. They have been trying to get an AIDS vaccine for 40 years, and a cancer vaccine for 100 years, with no success, and it would be a real stretch for us to get a real working vaccine in a year. The best we can hope for is antivirals to treat the symptoms and make the disease more survivable.
Q: Long tail risk for long term portfolios?
A: The time to buy your long-term tail risk hedges, or the ledges of long term extremely unlikely events, was in January. That’s when they were all incredibly cheap and they were being thrown away with the trash. Now you have to pay enormous amounts for any long-term portfolio hedges. It’s kind of like closing the barn door after the horses have bolted, so nice idea, but maybe we’ll try it again in another ten years.
Q: Should I buy gold options two months out or through gold LEAPS?
A: I would do both. Buying gold two months out will probably make more money faster, but for LEAPS—let’s say you bought a $2,000-$2,100 LEAPS two years out—the return on that could be 500-1000%, so it just depends on how much risk you were willing to take. I would bet that the LEAPS selling just above the all-time highs at $1,927 are probably going really cheaply because people will assume we won’t get to new all-time highs for a while and they’ll sell short against that, so that may be your play. You can get even better returns on buying LEAPS on the individual gold stocks like Newmont Mining (NEM) and Barrick Gold (GOLD).
Q: How soon until we take a profit on a LEAPS spread?
A: Usually if you have 80% of the maximum potential profit, that’s a good idea. You typically have to hang out for a whole year to capture the last 20% and you’re better off buying something else unless you have an idea on how to spend the money first—then you can sell it whenever you have a profit that you are happy with. I know a lot of you who bought the 2-year LEAPS in March on our advice already have enormous profits where you’ve made 500% or more in four weeks. If you bought the 2021 LEAPS, I would roll out of those here and then buy the two-year LEAPs on the next selloff to protect yourself against a second Corona wave. Take some good profits, roll that money into longer two-year LEAPS.
Q: There seems to be a real consensus we will retest the lows. Is it possible that the low we recently had was actually a retest of the 2018 lows?
A: We actually got well below the 2018 lows, and with all of the stimulus out there now, I don’t see us going back to 18,000 in the Dow (INDU), 2,200 in the SPY, unless things get worse— dramatically worse, like a sudden spike in cases coming out of the Midwest (that’s almost a certainty) and the south. They opened their beaches and essentially created a breeding ground for the virus to then return to all the states from the visiting beachgoers. So, everyone’s got their eyes on this combined $14 trillion of QE and stimulus and they don’t want to sell their stocks now, so I don’t see a retest of the lows in that situation. I would love it if we did, then that would be like LEAPS heaven, loading up on tech LEAPS at the bottom. But even if we go retest the lows, the tech stocks aren’t going back to the lows—too many buyers are under the market.
Q: Are you using the 200-day moving average as a top?
A: That’s just one of several indicators; it’s almost a coincidence that the 200-day is right around 300 in the (SPY)’s, but also we have earnings multiples at 100-year highs—that’s another good one. And margin requirements have been greatly increasing. Any kind of leverage has been stripped out of the system, you can’t get leverage (even if you’re a well-known hedge fund) because all lenders are gun-shy after the meltdown last month, so you’re not going to be able to get that kind of leverage for a long time. And you can also bet all the money in the world that companies are not buying their stocks back, and that was essentially the largest net buyer of stocks for the last decade in the market, some $7 trillion worth. So, without companies buying back stocks, especially in the airlines, $300 in the (SPY) could be our top for the next month, or for the next six months.
Q: With Goldman Sachs forecasting four times the worst case of the 2008 great recession, will stocks not retest the market?
A: No. Remember, the total stimulus in 2009 was only $787 billion. We’re already at $6 trillion and $8 trillion in QE so we have more than ten times the stimulus that we had in 2009; so that should offset Goldman’s worst-case scenario. And they’re probably right.
Q: Why are you not shorting oil here?
A: The (USO) was at $50 three months ago, it’s now at $2. I don’t short things that have just gone from $50 to $2. And even though there’s no storage at this price, you want to be building storage like crazy, and it doesn’t take very long to build a big oil storage tank. Another outlier out there is that the US government could step in and buy 20 million barrels to top up the strategic petroleum reserve (SPR). Buying it for free is probably not a bad idea and then sell it next time we go to $20, $30, or $40 a barrel. The other big thing is that the government is mad not to impose punitive import duties on all foreign oil. Any other administration would have already done that long ago because oil prices are destroying the oil industry. But a certain president seems to have an interest in building hotels in the Middle East, and I think that’s why we don’t have import duties on Saudi oil—pure conflict of interest.
Q: Will Coronaviruses be weaker or stronger?
A: We just don’t know. This is a virus that has been in existence for less than a year; most diseases have been around for hundreds of years and we’ve been researching them forever, this one we know essentially nothing. Best case is that it goes the route of the Spanish Flu, which mutated into a less virulent form and just went away. The Black Plague from the Middle Ages did the same thing.
Q: Thoughts on food inflation going forward?
A: Food prices are collapsing and that’s because all of the distribution chains for food are broken. Farmers are having to plow food under in the field, like corn (CORN), soybeans (SOYB), and fruit, because there is no way to get it to the end-user or to the food bank. Food banks are struggling to get a hold of some of this food before it’s destroyed. I know the one in Alameda County, CA is calling farmers all over the west, trying to get truckloads of just raw food sent into the food banks. But those food banks are very poorly funded operations and don’t have a lot of money to spend. In California, we have the national guard handing out food at the food banks but there is not enough—they are running out of food. Long term, agriculture is a big user of energy. They should benefit from low oil prices, but it doesn’t do any good if they can’t get their product to the market. Look at any food price and you can see it’s in free fall right now caused by the global deflation and the depression. By the way, the same thing happened in the Great Depression in the 1930s.
Q: Would you short Shopify (SHOP)?
A: No. Shopify is essentially the mini Amazon (AMZN) and has a great future; they are basically having a Black Friday every day. It’s also too late to buy it unless we have a big dip.
Q: Would you include Palladium (PALL) in your precious metals call?
A: No. Palladium especially went into this very expensive, and they are dependent on the car industry for catalytic converters, which has just fallen from a 16 million unit per month to 5 million on the way to zero. Don’t go with the alternative white metals at this time.
Q: What’s your favorite 10 times return stock?
A: Tesla, if you can get it at $500. It’s already delivered me two ten-time returns, and I’m going to go for another tenfold return on a five-year view.
Good Luck and Stay Healthy
CEO & Publisher
The Diary of a Mad Hedge Fund Trader
Global Market Comments
April 23, 2020
(HOW TO FIND A GREAT OPTIONS TRADE)
This company is “handling Black Friday traffic every day” during the era of Covid-19 and it “won’t be long until traffic has doubled or more.”
Those were words right out of Shopify’s CTO (Chief Technology Officer) Jean-Michel Lemieux while having one of the best seats to the biggest migration from offline to online in human history.
Investors are out there scrounging for the best coronavirus tech stocks, there never has been a time when losers lose more than ever, and winners win more than ever.
Take a look at Shopify (SHOP) if you want to associate yourself with the great coronavirus tech stocks.
The name does exactly what it sounds like and shares have almost doubled in the past 30 days to $600 per share.
In short, Shopify is a cloud-based commerce platform for small and medium-sized businesses in Canada.
Shopify was founded in 2004 by Tobias Lütke, Daniel Weinand, and Scott Lake after attempting to open Snowdevil, an online store for snowboarding equipment.
Lütke decided to do it himself after he was unable to find the right snowboarding gear online and launched it after two hasty months of development.
The platform grew wildly and was named Ottawa’s Fastest Growing Company by the Ottawa Business Journal in 2010.
Like so many other tech companies, the success was parlayed into more funding with $7 million from an initial series A round of venture capital financing in December 2010 and another Series B round raised $15 million in October 2011.
By 2014, Shopify supported 120,000 online retailers and was doubling revenue every year.
Most people don’t know this, but they have been public since 2015 and became so successful that Amazon integrated with them to allow merchants to sell on Amazon from their Shopify stores.
The stock exploded 10% on this news and they have been largely unstoppable as Canada’s go-to online platform even licensing out the software for online cannabis sales in Ontario when the drug was legalized in October 2018.
Shopify’s software was also integrated with in-person cannabis sales in Ontario when it is legalized in 2019.
They have really touched on many bases and pivoted nimbly when they announced that 5,000 staffers would work remotely from home due to the global pandemic.
Shopify keeps marching towards profits and not even a pandemic can knock them off their perch.
Shopify has two routes of making money – subscription fees and transactional fees for services like payments or shipping.
Transactional fees are part of its merchant solutions segment and connected to merchants’ success incentivizing merchants to sell more.
Growth has been breathtaking with compound 65% annual growth rate (CAGR) since 2015 and its merchant solutions segment growing faster at a 76% CAGR.
Shopify management projected first-quarter revenue to increase 38% year over year and 2020 full-year growth at 42% to $2.145 billion, but that was in February before they could take into consideration a world that involves online buying first.
59% of total revenue are fees tied to merchants’ sales and volume has mushroomed.
The company will smash revenue projections and even though valuation is sky-high, the momentum suggests that shares will go higher.
Buyers should wait for the next big dip as the next entry point into Shopify.
Global Market Comments
April 22, 2020
(THE MAD HEDGE DICTIONARY OF TRADING SLANG)
Global Market Comments
April 21, 2020
I spent the day trying to charter a 500,000-tonne oil tanker.
If I had found one, I could have bought oil at the close of the market today at negative -$37.78 a barrel and then immediately resold it for June delivery for $21, generating an instant $57.78 a barrel profit. At 7.33 barrels a metric ton that gives me a $211 million profit. All I have to do is keep the oil for a month. Big hedge funds are doing this right now.
When I toured Australia in February, I warned investors that crude would fall from $80 to $10 by 2030, which many called extreme. I warned them to get out of all energy investments immediately, as I have done with you for the past several years. It is an industry that is going the way of the buggy whip maker.
Instead, we saw a move from $80 to negative -$37 in two months. They must think I’m some kind of idiot, clueless about the functioning of this important commodity market, despite having invested and worked in the industry for five years.
Of course, the wild prices are a product of the futures market, where financial derivatives outnumber the underlying physical market by 100 to one. Anyone who buys here today has to take delivery by 2:30 EST on Tuesday. With all the world’s storage and shipping already committed that is impossible. You literally can’t give oil away right now.
All transportation use of oil has virtually ceased. Most airlines are grounded, no ships are sailing, and nobody is driving anymore. Of the world’s potential daily oil supply, we have crashed from 100 million b/d to 65 b/d in two months. It is a move unprecedented in history.
Throwing gasoline on the fire are 16 supertankers which sailed from Saudi Arabia but for which there are no buyers.
This panic is happening in the face of Cushing, Oklahoma’s storage capacity which is now at 61 million barrels and could be at its limit of 78 million barrels in a couple of weeks. Then where does the Texas tea go?
Since June futures are still trading at $21, I believe this carnage is due to the future expiration and should pass in a few days. But unless more storage shows up out of the blue, or the industry shuts in production of 35 million b/d, the Armageddon in the futures market will become a monthly affair.
All eyes are now on the United States Oil Fund (USO), which liquidated all its May oil contracts two weeks ago to avoid precisely this kind of debacle. All longs were rolled forward to June contracts, which expire on May 19, and into July.
(USO) now owns one-third of all June oil contracts. Some $1.5 billion poured into the (USO) last week, which then immediately dropped in value by half.
I know this sounds insane, but if you bought the (USO) at the Monday close of $3.75 and it returns to the $5.00 where it was trading last Thursday and oil was trading at $25 you should be able to make a quick 33% on your money in a few days.
I wouldn’t let this trade grow hair on it. I’ll be selling on the first rally. That’s why I’m only going with a 5% position instead of the usual 10%. Now is not the time to get greedy in the oil market.
Eventually, supply and demand will come into balance from a combination of production cuts and demand increases from a recovering global economy. Best guess is that happens in July or August at the earliest. OPEC has already cut production by 10 million barrels a day for two months and 8 million b/d for the rest of the year. After that, oil could trade back as high as $40 a barrel.
If oil stays this low for too long, the geopolitical implications are immense. There will be a second Russian Revolution, which depends on crude sales for 70% of total government revenues.
Saudi Arabia will go up in flames and the royal family will flee to Geneva, Switzerland where their money is, leaving 34 million citizens to perish. What population did the country support before the post-war oil industry took off in 1950? About 4 million. I remember Saudi Arabia in the 1960s and it was not a pleasant place. People walked barefoot on 150-degree sands.
But I diverge.
At some point, another trade of the century on the long side of oil is out there. But the price of being early is high.
A “BUY” Signal?
I will explain to everyone why a wonky side effect of coronavirus is supercharging the 5G revolution.
Market valuations reflect the state of expected future cash flows in a company.
Under this assumption, some could argue that most tech companies with staying power are almost a good buy at any price.
No brainers would include a list of Microsoft, Amazon, Apple, and Netflix.
The health scare and the carnage associated with it have brought forward the tech industry as a whole to the forefront of the global economy.
When you mix that with the Fed hellbent on saving everything that has a heartbeat, it sets up conditions for heavy buying in an industry that is going to be king of the global economy anyway.
It is not a question of if, but when and the health phenomenon has accelerated the dramatic migration to tech by showing how business will be conducted in about 15 years.
The change took place in a blistering 4 weeks.
The clearest signal of who is really calling the shots in the equity market is looking at which companies are dragging it up.
Technology is shouldering the responsibility of the equity market by outperforming the broader market with many software companies’ share price higher than before the crisis.
For every Amazon or Microsoft, there is also a Macy’s or JC Pennys showing that this is really a stock pickers market.
We have not only learned that tech companies are critical to our functioning as a society, but that large tech companies will be even more central than before even if they are currently losing gross revenue.
The relative gains to tech stemming from the coronavirus is equal or greater than an innovation of a game-changing product and will double the effect of 5G.
We are setting up for the Golden Age of 5G with tech poised to invade even more of the broader equity market.
One rough estimate notes that the 5G industry is expected to add about $40bn in incremental revenue to the semiconductor industry, add 5X growth in mobile data monthly traffic by 2024, and a $4.2tn boost to global economies from revenue streams connected to 5G in the next ten years.
I do agree that currently, the network effect is working in reverse order, but the positive force multiplier, when the economy is riding high again, cannot be emphasized enough.
Digital revenue streams will effectively be pumped into every nook and crevice of the digital economy because of current modifications to the business environment.
When business does come back online, investors of physical assets will sell what they can at discounted prices to get into the digital ecosystem causing asset prices to explode as investors chase prices to the sky.
Do you remember commercial real estate guru and Colony Capital’s CEO Tom Barrack?
The company hoped to sell as much as 90% of its $20 billion property portfolio of hotels, warehouses, and other commercial real estate by the end of 2021.
They are also another big investor in nursing homes.
A real-estate pioneer who founded Colony in the early 1990s and is the firm’s chief executive and executive chairman, Barrack said he wanted to go “all digital.”
Rejigging the 29-year-old investment company represented an extreme response to the way technologies have been dismantling cash flow for most every type of commercial real estate, and Barrack was met with fierce backlash from entrenched stakeholders regarding the new direction.
Commercial real estate and hotel operators have had to fight against the triple whammy of office sharing WeWork, short-term hotel platform Airbnb, and the coronavirus – a lethal three-part cocktail of malicious forces to the “traditional” model.
The coronavirus has proven Barrack was spot-on with his synopsis, but he wasn’t able to get rid of Colony’s inventory of commercial real estate in the expeditious way he desired.
Other companies have taken a direct hit like 24-Hour Fitness who are pondering filing for bankruptcy, but I could say the same for a slew of companies like Colony Capital.
Another key manifestation of the current economic malaise is that regulators, antitrust, tax, foreign and all of the above are less likely to disrupt big tech companies moving forward considering they may be the only ones able to get us out of a similar crisis in the future.
Government officials will be under rapid pressure to boost GDP levels and crimping big tech is counterintuitive to this overall goal.
I don’t agree with the glass half empty crowd who believes Amazon needs to be clamped down because of dominating retail during the time of the virus – if Amazon didn’t exist, the panic could have accelerated to an uncontrollable level creating anarchy in the streets.
The big boys have pushed soft power as a legitimate policy tool with Apple sourcing over 20 million face masks and is now building and shipping face shields.
Big tech is becoming like a mini-government in its own right.
Granted that thousands of bankruptcies from restaurants, nail salons, and yoga studio will be swept into the dust bin of economic history, but once the next iteration of the economic cycle turns up, tech is about to go gangbusters in a way many never thought imaginable.
Then if you bake a little 5G into the pecan pie, investors are justified to be salivating about the tech industry’s prospects.
Any deep-pocketed investors should be cherry-picking every quality 5G tech play possible because they will be the most supercharged sub-sector of tech once the economy is reset.
Any long-term investor with a pulse should buy Crown Castle International Corp. (REIT) (CCI) on any and all dips.
They are the largest owner of cell towers owning over 40,000 in the U.S.