May 30, 2008

Market Comments for May 30, 2008

1) Crude stayed in a range of only $3 today, from $126-$129, so more people are talking about a top. Bonds were licking their wounds.

2) Another new word for the lexicon: ‘cocooning’. Because of high gas and food prices nobody has enough money to leave the house, so they are staying home, telecommuting whenever they can, and buying whatever they need on the Internet. Buy Amazon, Visa, Master Card, FedEx, and UPS. Go short theme parks, high end restaurant chains, hotel chains, and any company that relies on brick and mortar stores.

3) Best of Breed in the airline industry today is Southwest Airlines (LUV). The company hedged most of its fuel needs through 2012, when crude was at $51/barrel. Not only can the company still make a profit selling tickets for only $100, they can substantially expand their network while others are shrinking.

4) Dell earnings came in much better than expected and the stock jumped 8%. The Michael Dell turnaround is finally happening. The company is moving more aggressively into the consumer space inhabited by Apple and to the international area where, of course, everyone makes money.

5) The average discount on foreclosed homes nationwide is 23%. The best deals were to be had in Indiana where homes sold at a 42% discount to market value.
6) Had a sip of China Silk lately? China has become the 5th largest wine producer in the world, its chief growing area being on the same latitude as Napa Valley. Most of this is low quality bulk wine. China has the world’s fastest growing per capita wine consumption. My recollection is that this stuff is real rotgut, best used for salad dressing.

7) Starbucks has hedged 100% of its coffee needs in the futures markets for this year, about $320 million worth. Coffee has gone up 10% so far this year.

TRADE OF THE DAY

If you had sold the crude July $150 calls last week at $550 you would have covered them this morning at $110 for an eight day profit of $490,000. The hurricane season starts on Sunday and we are one storm away from a possible crude spike to $150 and a natural gas spike to $15. Hanging on to the last $110 in this trade would be imprudent from a risk/reward point of view. Remember, in this business, pigs get slaughtered. Time to say ?Thank you very much Mr. Market,? and move on to the next trade.

May 30, 2008

Market Comments for May 30, 2008

1) Crude stayed in a range of only $3 today, from $126-$129, so more people are talking about a top. Bonds were licking their wounds.

2) Another new word for the lexicon: ‘cocooning’. Because of high gas and food prices nobody has enough money to leave the house, so they are staying home, telecommuting whenever they can, and buying whatever they need on the Internet. Buy Amazon, Visa, Master Card, FedEx, and UPS. Go short theme parks, high end restaurant chains, hotel chains, and any company that relies on brick and mortar stores.

3) Best of Breed in the airline industry today is Southwest Airlines (LUV). The company hedged most of its fuel needs through 2012, when crude was at $51/barrel. Not only can the company still make a profit selling tickets for only $100, they can substantially expand their network while others are shrinking.

4) Dell earnings came in much better than expected and the stock jumped 8%. The Michael Dell turnaround is finally happening. The company is moving more aggressively into the consumer space inhabited by Apple and to the international area where, of course, everyone makes money.

5) The average discount on foreclosed homes nationwide is 23%. The best deals were to be had in Indiana where homes sold at a 42% discount to market value.
6) Had a sip of China Silk lately? China has become the 5th largest wine producer in the world, its chief growing area being on the same latitude as Napa Valley. Most of this is low quality bulk wine. China has the world’s fastest growing per capita wine consumption. My recollection is that this stuff is real rotgut, best used for salad dressing.

7) Starbucks has hedged 100% of its coffee needs in the futures markets for this year, about $320 million worth. Coffee has gone up 10% so far this year.

TRADE OF THE DAY

If you had sold the crude July $150 calls last week at $550 you would have covered them this morning at $110 for an eight day profit of $490,000. The hurricane season starts on Sunday and we are one storm away from a possible crude spike to $150 and a natural gas spike to $15. Hanging on to the last $110 in this trade would be imprudent from a risk/reward point of view. Remember, in this business, pigs get slaughtered. Time to say ?Thank you very much Mr. Market,? and move on to the next trade.

May 29, 2008

Market Comments for May 29, 2008

1) It was a day for the history books in crude. The day started out at $128. Weekly inventories had been anticipated to show an increase of 700,000 barrels, but instead, showed a decline of 8.8 million barrels, the biggest fall in 4 years! Crude lept to $133. Then the CFTC announced it had launched an investigation of oil price manipulation and crude fell $7 to $126. The July $150 calls I strongly recommended selling last week at $550 fell to $110. The hypothetical one week profit on this one trade would have been $490,000.

2) The collapse of the bond market this week has pushed the ten year Treasury note out of its one year trading range. Yields shot up from 4.03% to 4.15% overnight. The futures on the 30 year bond have fallen from 120 to 113.5 since March. I strongly recommended selling these then, and if you had done so, the profit would have been 32%. This is triggering a massive asset allocation trade out of bonds and commodities and into stocks and the dollar. The futures markets are now discounting a 60% chance of Fed interest rate increase by October.

3) I met with Richard Fisher last night, president of the Dallas Fed. He and I competed for an assistant secretary of the Treasury position during the Carter administration. He won, but wrote a nice review of my book. He is a well known inflation hawk and told me that interest rates will rise ‘sooner than people expect’. The next day bond prices cratered to a nine month low. He also told my son, who is graduating from the University of Santa Clara, that the best thing he could do is to leave the country and backpack around Asia, accumulating experience on which he can build a career.

4) Steve Balmer played golf with Jerry Yang last weekend. Draw your own conclusions.

5) Hedge funds are seeking out regional banks with the highest ratio of construction loans and shorting the stocks as these have the highest default rate in a recession. The biggest targets have been BB&T of South Carolina and Zions Bank Corp. of Salt Lake City, with 21% of their loan portfolios in construction. This is making construction loans harder to obtain.

6) Q1 GDP was revised up from +0.6% to +0.9%. Where is the recession?

7) 90% of the new electric power plants under construction in the US will be fueled by natural gas. This is why I am a long term bull on natural gas.

May 29, 2008

Market Comments for May 29, 2008

1) It was a day for the history books in crude. The day started out at $128. Weekly inventories had been anticipated to show an increase of 700,000 barrels, but instead, showed a decline of 8.8 million barrels, the biggest fall in 4 years! Crude lept to $133. Then the CFTC announced it had launched an investigation of oil price manipulation and crude fell $7 to $126. The July $150 calls I strongly recommended selling last week at $550 fell to $110. The hypothetical one week profit on this one trade would have been $490,000.

2) The collapse of the bond market this week has pushed the ten year Treasury note out of its one year trading range. Yields shot up from 4.03% to 4.15% overnight. The futures on the 30 year bond have fallen from 120 to 113.5 since March. I strongly recommended selling these then, and if you had done so, the profit would have been 32%. This is triggering a massive asset allocation trade out of bonds and commodities and into stocks and the dollar. The futures markets are now discounting a 60% chance of Fed interest rate increase by October.

3) I met with Richard Fisher last night, president of the Dallas Fed. He and I competed for an assistant secretary of the Treasury position during the Carter administration. He won, but wrote a nice review of my book. He is a well known inflation hawk and told me that interest rates will rise ‘sooner than people expect’. The next day bond prices cratered to a nine month low. He also told my son, who is graduating from the University of Santa Clara, that the best thing he could do is to leave the country and backpack around Asia, accumulating experience on which he can build a career.

4) Steve Balmer played golf with Jerry Yang last weekend. Draw your own conclusions.

5) Hedge funds are seeking out regional banks with the highest ratio of construction loans and shorting the stocks as these have the highest default rate in a recession. The biggest targets have been BB&T of South Carolina and Zions Bank Corp. of Salt Lake City, with 21% of their loan portfolios in construction. This is making construction loans harder to obtain.

6) Q1 GDP was revised up from +0.6% to +0.9%. Where is the recession?

7) 90% of the new electric power plants under construction in the US will be fueled by natural gas. This is why I am a long term bull on natural gas.

May 28, 2008

Market Comments for May 28, 2008

1) Crude plunged to $126? on rumors that Saudi Arabia is increasing production, then lept back up to $131.50. Another $6 range day. It was a great day to sell July 110 puts for $550 which expire in 13 trading days. More than 25% of global oil consumption is now subject to some form of government subsidy. As those subsidies come off (today Taiwan joined the club), we will start to see demand destruction for crude in earnest.

2) To produce one gallon of ethanol you need to consume 1,700 gallons of fresh water. The government is paying farmers 51 cents/gallon of ethanol to do this. One third of the US corn crop this year will go into ethanol production, while the poorest 10% of the world starves. This is why I hate ethanol, other than to drink it neat in its many forms.

3) UBS has banned employees of its private banking division from visiting the US for fear of prosecution by the IRS. One US citizen employed by the bank has already been arrested while home for a visit.

4) Durable goods for April came in at -0.5%, but ex transportation was up an amazing 2.5%. This shows how much of the economic slow down is being borne by the US car makers.

5) White House economic advisor Lazear predicts that the upsurge in oil price will cut 1.5% from US GDP growth this year.

6) Merrill Lynch predicts that Amazon will see 20% per year sales growth for the next 10 years. The company is the largest online seller, accounting for 6% of $135 billion of last year’s total online sales.

7) Ford announced that it is cutting 10-12% of its workforce. The stock has traded between $5-$9 over the last three months and last traded at $6.75. This is a great short crude play. If crude falls and the company brings out its new generation of hybrids and electric cars on schedule, you could get a double out of the stock. Kirk Kerkorian certainly thinks so.

8) There was a huge sell off in the bond market today as owners finally start to feel the chill wind of inflation down the back of their necks. The 30 year yield hit 4.04%, a new high for the year. I fervently believe that long dated US Treasuries are the world’s most overvalued asset.

May 28, 2008

Market Comments for May 28, 2008

1) Crude plunged to $126? on rumors that Saudi Arabia is increasing production, then lept back up to $131.50. Another $6 range day. It was a great day to sell July 110 puts for $550 which expire in 13 trading days. More than 25% of global oil consumption is now subject to some form of government subsidy. As those subsidies come off (today Taiwan joined the club), we will start to see demand destruction for crude in earnest.

2) To produce one gallon of ethanol you need to consume 1,700 gallons of fresh water. The government is paying farmers 51 cents/gallon of ethanol to do this. One third of the US corn crop this year will go into ethanol production, while the poorest 10% of the world starves. This is why I hate ethanol, other than to drink it neat in its many forms.

3) UBS has banned employees of its private banking division from visiting the US for fear of prosecution by the IRS. One US citizen employed by the bank has already been arrested while home for a visit.

4) Durable goods for April came in at -0.5%, but ex transportation was up an amazing 2.5%. This shows how much of the economic slow down is being borne by the US car makers.

5) White House economic advisor Lazear predicts that the upsurge in oil price will cut 1.5% from US GDP growth this year.

6) Merrill Lynch predicts that Amazon will see 20% per year sales growth for the next 10 years. The company is the largest online seller, accounting for 6% of $135 billion of last year’s total online sales.

7) Ford announced that it is cutting 10-12% of its workforce. The stock has traded between $5-$9 over the last three months and last traded at $6.75. This is a great short crude play. If crude falls and the company brings out its new generation of hybrids and electric cars on schedule, you could get a double out of the stock. Kirk Kerkorian certainly thinks so.

8) There was a huge sell off in the bond market today as owners finally start to feel the chill wind of inflation down the back of their necks. The 30 year yield hit 4.04%, a new high for the year. I fervently believe that long dated US Treasuries are the world’s most overvalued asset.

May 27, 2008

Market Comments for May 27, 2008

1) Crude fell $5. The July 155 calls I strongly advised you to sell at $550 last Wednesday, fell to $260. In the meantime, natural gas hit a new high of $12.20. This is a gain of 57% from my recommended entry level of $7.75 last January.

2) Short sellers are gunning for Lehman Brothers again, taking the stock down from $52 to $35 in only a few weeks. Their claim is that Lehman only avoided bankruptcy last March by greatly overvaluing $6.5 billion in CDO’s. The false accounting didn’t become obvious until the 10Q was filed last week. Trading in the $25, $20, and $15 puts has skyrocketed. The company is doing a great imitation of going to zero.

3) The US money supply M3 is now growing at a 16% annual rate, and monetary growth is even greater overseas, presaging a surge in dollar denominated asset prices. There are now two euros outstanding for every one dollar. Sounds like a great short euro argument to me.

4) The S&P Case-Shiller home price index fell -14.1% in Q1 YOY. The biggest falls were in Las Vegas -25.9%, Miami -24.6%, and Phoenix -23.0%. Only one market rose, Charlotte, NC, +0.8%, coincidentally the headquarters of rapidly growing Bank of America (BAC). At the peak of the 1990-91 S&L crisis, the index fell only 2.8% YOY. In absolute terms, house prices nationally are now back to 2002 levels. The turnover in the housing market is now so low that it is impairing recruiting, because people can’t sell homes to move to new jobs.

5) The cost of shipping a container from Shanghai to San Francisco has quadrupled from $2,000 to $8,000 in the past year. Hardest hit have been shippers of bulk commodities, especially unfinished steel.

6) The May consumer confidence index fell to the lowest level since 1992.

7) Residential real estate prices in Poland have started to fall. Interest rates have risen from 4% TO 6% in the past two years and the economy is now starting to slow. Poland has had the hottest real estate market in Europe, increasing at a 30% annualized rate since 2000.

8) A new term has entered the lexicon, the ‘staycation’. This is when people take their vacation at home because they can’t afford to go anywhere.

The last person to read this can be excused for slitting their wrists.

TRADE OF THE DAY

It’s time to buy the airlines which have fallen so much they are down to option value. United has done a swan dive for $48 to $5. In fact the whole industry is a great put on crude, which at $134 looks like it is topping out. Buy United at $7 (UAUA), American at $10 (AAR) Delta at $5 (DAL), Jet Blue at $3.75 (JBLU) and Continental at $12 (CAL). Avoid best of breed Southwest (LUV), which has not cratered because of intelligent low cost hedging of fuel costs through long dated crude futures contracts.

UAUA0526.png picture by sbronte

May 27, 2008

Market Comments for May 27, 2008

1) Crude fell $5. The July 155 calls I strongly advised you to sell at $550 last Wednesday, fell to $260. In the meantime, natural gas hit a new high of $12.20. This is a gain of 57% from my recommended entry level of $7.75 last January.

2) Short sellers are gunning for Lehman Brothers again, taking the stock down from $52 to $35 in only a few weeks. Their claim is that Lehman only avoided bankruptcy last March by greatly overvaluing $6.5 billion in CDO’s. The false accounting didn’t become obvious until the 10Q was filed last week. Trading in the $25, $20, and $15 puts has skyrocketed. The company is doing a great imitation of going to zero.

3) The US money supply M3 is now growing at a 16% annual rate, and monetary growth is even greater overseas, presaging a surge in dollar denominated asset prices. There are now two euros outstanding for every one dollar. Sounds like a great short euro argument to me.

4) The S&P Case-Shiller home price index fell -14.1% in Q1 YOY. The biggest falls were in Las Vegas -25.9%, Miami -24.6%, and Phoenix -23.0%. Only one market rose, Charlotte, NC, +0.8%, coincidentally the headquarters of rapidly growing Bank of America (BAC). At the peak of the 1990-91 S&L crisis, the index fell only 2.8% YOY. In absolute terms, house prices nationally are now back to 2002 levels. The turnover in the housing market is now so low that it is impairing recruiting, because people can’t sell homes to move to new jobs.

5) The cost of shipping a container from Shanghai to San Francisco has quadrupled from $2,000 to $8,000 in the past year. Hardest hit have been shippers of bulk commodities, especially unfinished steel.

6) The May consumer confidence index fell to the lowest level since 1992.

7) Residential real estate prices in Poland have started to fall. Interest rates have risen from 4% TO 6% in the past two years and the economy is now starting to slow. Poland has had the hottest real estate market in Europe, increasing at a 30% annualized rate since 2000.

8) A new term has entered the lexicon, the ‘staycation’. This is when people take their vacation at home because they can’t afford to go anywhere.

The last person to read this can be excused for slitting their wrists.

TRADE OF THE DAY

It’s time to buy the airlines which have fallen so much they are down to option value. United has done a swan dive for $48 to $5. In fact the whole industry is a great put on crude, which at $134 looks like it is topping out. Buy United at $7 (UAUA), American at $10 (AAR) Delta at $5 (DAL), Jet Blue at $3.75 (JBLU) and Continental at $12 (CAL). Avoid best of breed Southwest (LUV), which has not cratered because of intelligent low cost hedging of fuel costs through long dated crude futures contracts.

UAUA0526.png picture by sbronte

May 23, 2008

Market Comments for May 23, 2008

1) The markets are now totally fixated by oil. Every financial instrument, from equities, to bonds, to currencies, are now being driven by the price of crude. Every technical service I subscribe to are saying that all oil related investments are sells, including crude, oil major equities, oil services, ETF’s, and energy index funds. Alarm bells are ringing everywhere. The Dow had its worst week since February, falling from 13,100 to 12,400.

2) A record number of independent gas stations are going out of business as margins are crushed to record lows. About 10 cents/gallon for the price of gas is now going to credit card charges. Buy Master Card.

3) More than 50% of US government debt is now held by foreigners. Non US residents are now taking down 75% of each new bond issue floated by the government. This is a major factor in the continued weakness of the dollar.

4) The government says that miles driven by travelers in March declined by 4.3% YOY. This is the first March decline since 1979.

5) There are rumors that Belgian brewer Inbev is about to make a hostile takeover bid for Anhauser-Busch (BUD).

6) Existing home sales for April came in at -17.3%, the worst showing on record. The inventory of unsold homes rose from 11 to 11.2 months. Prices on the West coast fell 16.7% YOY.

7) GM stock hit a new 26 year low at $17.50. Gee, I wonder why?

8) Taiwan, Malaysia, and Indonesia announced that they are cutting domestic fuel subsidies in order to bring their gasoline prices in line with the world market.

TRADE OF THE DAY

The no brainer trade I recommended on Monday paid off. I suggested selling two of the June 118 bond calls for 32/64, or 1% of your capital. This position would have been profitable with a June futures expiration at all points below 118.5. Today those options expired worthless with the futures going out at 116 17/32.

May 23, 2008

Market Comments for May 23, 2008

1) The markets are now totally fixated by oil. Every financial instrument, from equities, to bonds, to currencies, are now being driven by the price of crude. Every technical service I subscribe to are saying that all oil related investments are sells, including crude, oil major equities, oil services, ETF’s, and energy index funds. Alarm bells are ringing everywhere. The Dow had its worst week since February, falling from 13,100 to 12,400.

2) A record number of independent gas stations are going out of business as margins are crushed to record lows. About 10 cents/gallon for the price of gas is now going to credit card charges. Buy Master Card.

3) More than 50% of US government debt is now held by foreigners. Non US residents are now taking down 75% of each new bond issue floated by the government. This is a major factor in the continued weakness of the dollar.

4) The government says that miles driven by travelers in March declined by 4.3% YOY. This is the first March decline since 1979.

5) There are rumors that Belgian brewer Inbev is about to make a hostile takeover bid for Anhauser-Busch (BUD).

6) Existing home sales for April came in at -17.3%, the worst showing on record. The inventory of unsold homes rose from 11 to 11.2 months. Prices on the West coast fell 16.7% YOY.

7) GM stock hit a new 26 year low at $17.50. Gee, I wonder why?

8) Taiwan, Malaysia, and Indonesia announced that they are cutting domestic fuel subsidies in order to bring their gasoline prices in line with the world market.

TRADE OF THE DAY

The no brainer trade I recommended on Monday paid off. I suggested selling two of the June 118 bond calls for 32/64, or 1% of your capital. This position would have been profitable with a June futures expiration at all points below 118.5. Today those options expired worthless with the futures going out at 116 17/32.