How to Lose Money

I?m really glad I watched the Super Bowl yesterday. Not only was it a great warm-up for next year?s championship game, which will be in my hometown of San Francisco. I also witnessed the worst coaching call in football history.

The Seattle Seahawks had the game in the bag. All they had to do was move the ball one foot over two tries at the goal line. Instead, they passed? Too bad I wasn?t able to find a bookie to take a last minute six-figure bet. I expected New England to win.

I have to tell you that I sympathize with Seahawks Coach Peter Carroll. For I sent out one of the worst recommendations in trading history with my BUY of master limited partnership Linn Energy (LINE) on December 1.

I then proceeded to break every rule in the trader?s handbook on how to manage this position. The errors were so many that I have to list them:

1) I scored the instant profit I was looking for, making 80 basis points within two days. I didn?t take it. Instead I got greedy, hanging on for more. It never showed.

2) I then ignored my own stop loss at $15, even though most of you bailed out then and there.

3) I then committed anther sin, waiting for the units to get back to my cost to get out, even though I constantly admonish followers never to do this. The market doesn?t care what your cost is. The market is the market. It has zero memory, and could care less who you are.

4) There were several substantial rallies that I could have sold into for a much smaller loss, to $14.80, $11.90 and $11.70. I didn?t. The ?getting out for even? syndrome strikes again.

5) I expected oil to bottom out in the low $60?s, which was much lower than most people?s targets. It didn?t. Instead, it dropped another $20 to the $43 handle. Once there is a glut of oil, there is no place to put it, as all storage is full, so it always plunges lower than you expect. With more oil industry experience than most traders, I already knew this. But I ignored the writing on the wall.

6) I waited for a yearend short covering rally to take me out of the position. It never showed. Instead, it went down faster, hitting a new five year low of $9.30.

7) I waited for a New Year rally to take me out. Ditto.

At this point, (LINN) is acting like a classic busted stock. Even though oil has bounced back by a hefty 15% in recent days, (LINN) has barely moved. If you throw good news on a stock and it doesn?t move, it is time to say hasta la vista baby.

For more depth on the grim outlook for Texas tea, please read my recent piece, ?More Pain to Come in Oil? by clicking here. Now is not the time to maintain an aggressive long in energy.

I?m sure (LINN) will come back some day, as it is well managed. In fact, it might even be the big trade of the year. But this could happen in months, or even years. And if you haven?t noticed, the name of this service is the Diary of a Mad Hedge Fund Trader, not the Diary of a Mad Long Term Investor.

Where I live, long-term is a long-winded way of saying “wrong”.

LINE 2-2-15

WTIC 1-30-15

USO 2-2-15

Pete CarrollCan I Interest You in Some Linn Energy?