Posts

June 8, 2018

Global Market Comments
June 8, 2018
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:
(LAST CHANCE TO ATTEND THE TUESDAY, JUNE 12, 2018,
NEW ORLEANS, LA, GLOBAL STRATEGY LUNCHEON),
(JUNE 6 BIWEEKLY STRATEGY WEBINAR Q&A),
(TLT), (TTT), (TBT), (AMLP), (IBB),
(SPY), (SDS), (SH), (GS), (BAC)

A Chat With Berkshire Hathaway?s Warren Buffett

Sometime in the early 1970?s, a friend of mine said I should take a look at a stock named Berkshire Hathaway (BRKA) run by a young stud named Warren Buffett.

I thought, ?Why the hell should I invest in a company that makes sheets??

After all, the American textile industry was in the middle of a long trek toward extinction that began in the 1920?s, and was only briefly interrupted by the hyper prosperity of WWII. The industry?s travails were simply an outcome of ever rising US standards of living, which pushed wages, and therefore costs, up.

It turns out that Warren Buffett made a lot more than sheets. However, he is not a young stud anymore, just an old one, like me.

Since then, Warren?s annual letter to investors has been an absolute ?must read? for me when it is published every spring.

It has been edited for the past half century by my friend, Carol Loomis, who just retired after a 60-year career with Fortune magazine. (I never wrote for them because their freelance rates were lousy).

Witty, insightful, and downright funny, I view it as a cross between a Harvard Business School seminar and a Berkeley anti establishment demonstration. You will find me lifting from it my ?Quotes of the Day? for the daily newsletter over the next several issues. There are some real zingers.

And what a year it has been!

Berkshire?s gain in net worth was $18.3 billion, which increased the share value by 8.3%, and today, the market capitalization stands at an impressive $343.4 billion. (Sorry Warren, but I clocked 30% last year, eat your heart out).

The shares are not for small timers, as one now costs $214,801, and no, they don?t sell half shares. This compares to a 1965 per share market value of $23.80, and is why the media are always going gaga over Warren Buffett.

If you?re lazy and don?t want to do the math, that works out to a compound annualized return of an eye popping 21.6%. This is why guessing what Warren is going to do next has become a major cottage industry (Progressive Insurance anyone?).

Warren brought in these numbers despite the fact that its largest non-insurance subsidiary, the old Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad (BNSF) suffered an awful year.

Extensive upgrades under construction and terrible winter weather disrupted service, causing the railroad to lose market share to rival Union Pacific (UNP).

I was kind of pissed when Warren bought BNSF in 2009 for a blockbuster $44 billion, as it was long my favorite trading vehicles for the sector. Since then, its book value has doubled. Typical Warren.

Buffett plans to fix the railroad?s current problems with $6 billion in new capital investment this year, one of the largest single capital investments in American history. Warren isn?t doing anything small these days.

Buffett also got a hickey from his investment in UK supermarket chain Tesco, which ran up a $444 million loss for Berkshire in 2014. Warren admits he was too slow in getting out of the shares, a rare move for the Oracle of Omaha, who rarely sells anything (which avoids capital gains taxes).

Warren increased his investment in all of his ?Big Four? holdings, American Express (AXP), Coca-Cola (KO), IBM (IBM), and Wells Fargo (WFC).

In addition, Berkshire owns options on Bank of America (BAC) stock, which have a current exercise value of $12.5 billion (purchased the day after the Mad Hedge Fund Trader issued a Trade Alert on said stock for an instant 300% gain on the options).

The secret to understanding Buffett picks over the years is that cash flow is king.

This means that he has never participated in the many technology booms over the decades, or fads of any other description, for that matter.

He says this is because he will never buy a business he doesn?t intrinsically understand, and they didn?t offer computer programming as an elective in high school during the Great Depression.

No doubt this has lowered his potential returns, but with the benefit of much lower volatility.

That makes his position in (IBM) a bit of a mystery, the worst performing Dow stock of the past two years. I would much rather own Apple (AAPL) myself, which also boasts great cash flow, and even a dividend these days (with a 1.50% yield).

Warren will be the first to admit that even he makes mistakes, sometimes, disastrous ones. He cites his worst one ever as a perfect example, his purchase of Dexter Shoes for $433 million in 1993. This was right before China entered the shoe business as a major competitor.

Not only did the company quickly go under, he exponentially compounded the error through buying the firm with an exchange of Berkshire Hathaway stock, which is now worth a staggering $5.7 billion.

Ouch, and ouch again!

Warren has also been mostly missing in action on the international front, believing that the mother load of investment opportunities runs through the US, and that its best days lie ahead. I believe the same.

Still, he has dipped his toe in foreign waters from time to time, and I was sometimes quick to jump on his coattails. A favorite of mine was his purchase of 10% of Chinese electric car factory BYD (BYDDF) in 2009, where I have captured a few doubles over the years.

Buffett expounds at great length the attractions of the insurance industry, which today remains the core of his business. For payment of a premium up front, the buyers of insurance policies receive a mere promise to perform in the future, sometimes as much as a half century off.

In the meantime, Warren can invest the money any way he wants. The model has been a real printing press for Buffett since he took over his first insurer in 1951, GEICO.

Much of the letter promotes the upcoming shareholders annual meeting, known as the ?Woodstock of Capitalism?.

There, the conglomerate?s many products will be for sale, including, Justin Boots (I have a pair), the gecko from GEICO (which insures my Tesla S-1), and See?s Candies (a Christmas addiction, love the peanut brittle!).

There, visitors can try their hand at Ping-Pong against Ariel Hsing, a 2012 American Olympic Team member, after Bill Gates and Buffett wear her down first.

They can try their hand against a national bridge champion (don?t play for money). And then there is the newspaper-throwing contest (Buffett?s first gainful employment).

Some 40,000 descend on remote Omaha for the firm?s annual event. All flights to the city are booked well in advance, with fares up to triple normal rates.

Hotels sell out too, and many now charge three-day minimums (after Warren, what is there to do in Omaha for two more days other than to visit PayPal?s technical support?). Buffett recommends Airbnb as a low budget option (for the single shareholders?).

I was amazed to learn that Berkshire files a wrist breaking 24,100-page Federal tax return (and I thought mine was bad!). Add to this a mind numbing 3,400 separate state tax returns.

Overall, Berkshire holdings account for more than 3% of the total US gross domestic product, but a far lesser share of the government?s total tax revenues, thanks to careful planning.

Buffett ends his letter by advertising for new acquisitions and listing his criteria. They include:

(1) ?Large purchases (at least $75 million of pre-tax earnings unless the business will fit into one of our existing units),

(2) ?Demonstrated consistent earning power (future projections are of no interest to us, nor are ?turnaround? situations),

(3) ?Businesses earning good returns on equity while employing little or no debt,

(4) Managemen
t in place (we can?t supply it),

(5) Simple businesses (if there?s lots of technology, we won?t understand it),

(6) An offering price (we don?t want to waste our time or that of the seller by talking, even preliminarily, about a transaction when price is unknown).

Let me know if you have any offers.

To read the entire history of Warren Buffett?s prescient letters, please click here: http://www.berkshirehathaway.com/letters/letters.htm.BRKA

BYDDF

IBM

 

Warren Buffett

Perfect Storm Hits the Banks

There is no better sight to a hungry trader than blood in the water.

?Buy them when they?re cryin? is an excellent investment strategy that always seems to work.

There are rivers of tears being shed over the banking industry right now.

Federal Reserve officials openly told investors that after the December ?% rate hike that they would continue to do so on a quarterly basis. Only weeks later, a collapse in the stock market shattered this scenario to smithereens.

I doubt we?ll see any more Fed action in 2016.

This caught investors in bank shares wrong footed in a major way.

But wait! It gets worse!

Among the largest holders of American bank shares are the Persian Gulf sovereign wealth funds, including those for Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates, my old stomping grounds. Pieces of me are still there.

The collapse in oil prices (USO) has put their budgets in tatters and they now have to sell stock to fund wildly generous social service programs. The farther Texas tea drops, the more shares they have to sell, and at $26 a barrel they have to sell bucket loads.

Had enough? There?s more.

The junk bond market (JNK) and oil company shares are suggesting that up to half of all American oil companies will go bankrupt sometime this year, mostly small ones. It all depends on how long oil stays under $40.

Unfortunately, the oil industry has been the most prolific borrower from banks for the last decade. The covenants on many of these loans require borrowers to pump and sell oil to meet interest payments NO MATTER THE PRICE! It?s a perfect formula for maxing out production and selling into a hole.

So fear of widespread energy defaults has also been dragging down bank shares as well.

Some of the moves so far in this short year have been absolutely eye popping. Bank of America (BAC) has plunged 31% from its recent high, while Citibank (C) is down 32% and JP Morgan is off 19%. Basically, they all had a terrible year just in the month of January.

Bank shares have been beaten so mercilessly that they are approaching levels last seen at the nadir of the 2009 financial crisis.

Except that this time, there is no financial crisis, not even the hint of one. For the past seven years, banks have been relentlessly raising capital, reducing leverage, and growing BIGGER.

They proved last time that they were too big to fail. Now they are REALLY too big to fail. Default rates aren?t even a fraction of what we saw during the bad old days. Energy industry borrowing is only a tenth the size of bank home loan portfolios going into the crisis.

Blame the Dodd-Frank financial regulation bill, which requires banks to hold far more capital In US Treasury bonds (TLT) than in the past, which by the way, are doing spectacularly well.

Blame ultra cautious management.

Whatever the reason, Big US banks are now solid as the Rock of Gibraltar.

Which means I?m starting to get interested. Interest rates don?t go down forever, nor does the price of oil. And scares about loan defaults are being wildly exaggerated by the media, as always.

But there is more than one way to skin a cat.

All of these companies issue high yield preferred stock with exceptionally high dividends. For example, Bank of America issued 6.2% yielding paper as recently as October. It is paying something like 8% now.

Since these securities are stock, you get to participate in price appreciation when the panic subsides. A guaranteed 8% return, plus the prospect of substantial capital appreciation? Sounds like a pretty good deal to me.

Google bank preferred shares and you will find an entire world out there of specialist advisors, dedicated newsletters and even day trading and hedging recommendations.

One thing to keep in mind here is that you should only buy ?non callable? paper. This prevents issuers from stealing your paper when better times return to cut their interest payouts.

There is another way to play this beleaguered sector.

You can buy the iShares S&P US Preferred Stock Index Fund ETF (PFF), which owns a basket of preferred stocks almost entirely made up of bank shares. As of today it was yielding 5.62%. To visit the fund?s website, please click link: https://www.ishares.com/us/products/239826/ishares-us-preferred-stock-etf.

BAC2-3-16

C 2-3-16

JPM 2-3-16

PFF 2-3-16

ATM-CrashTime to BUY?

Bank of America is Breaking Out All Over

In view of the blockbuster October nonfarm payroll report, and the collapse of the bond market that followed, it is time to take a cold, steely eyed look, and the financials, especially Bank of America (BAC).

What did the stock do? It rocketed by 6.5%, along with the rest of the market, hitting four month high of $18.09. I hate it when that happens, being right on the fundamentals, and wrong on the market timing.

You are getting the reaction that the bang up Q3 earnings report should have delivered, just one week late. The shares appear to be taking a run at a new multi year high.

It was a stellar report, with earnings beating expectations handily on both the top and the bottom lines. Expenses are in free-fall, and the company?s cost of funds is plummeting, as lower cost deposit surge.

Analysts were blown away when they saw after tax profits come in at $4.5 billion, producing a diluted earnings per share of $0.37. The company returned a staggering $3 billion to shareholders in the form of dividends and an aggressive share buy back program.

Every major business segment showed big year on year improvements, including consumer and business banking. Global wealth and investment management knocked the cover off the ball.

The sudden burst of market volatility gave a nice push in income to the global banking division.

Deposits from mobile banking jumped. Average deposits are up 4%. Subterranean interest rates kept income there flat.

Given the bank?s tremendous upside leverage, many analysts are now pegging the stock with a $30 handle.

There is another play here. (BAC) is highly geared to raising interest rates, which will enable them to lend money out at higher interest rates, increasing their spread. Think of it as long dated put option on the iShares Barclays 20+ Treasury Bond ETF (TLT).

That is not a bad position to have on board, given that we probably put in a multigenerational spike in bond prices last week.

Because of the bank?s long and well-publicized problems with regulators dating back to before the 2008 financial crisis, (BAC) became toxic waste for many portfolio mangers.

The end result of that has been to make the best-run banks in the industry also the cheapest.

I have a feeling that I will be visiting the trough here often, and generously.

BAC 11-6-15

C 11-6-15

XLF 11-6-15

Bank of America - ATMTime to Visit the ATM Again

The Bull Market is Alive and Well

It?s fall again, when my most loyal readers are to be found taking transcontinental railroad journeys, crossing the Atlantic in an a first class suite on the Queen Mary 2, or getting the early jump on the Caribbean beaches.

What better time to spend your trading profits than after all the kids have gone back to school, and the summer vacation destination crush has subsided.

It?s an empty nester?s paradise.

Trading in the stock market is reflecting as much, with increasingly narrowing its range since the August 24 flash crash, and trading volumes are subsiding.

Is it really September already?

It?s as if through some weird, Rod Serling type time flip, August became September, and September morphed into August. That?s why we got a rip roaring August followed by a sleepy, boring September.

Welcome to the misplaced summer market.

I say all this, because the longer the market moves sideways, the more investors get nervous and start bailing on their best performing stocks.

The perma bears are always out there in force (it sells more newsletters), and with the memories of the 2008 crash still fresh and painful, the fears of a sudden market meltdown are constant and ever present.

In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.

What we are seeing unfold here is not the PRICE correction that people are used to, but a TIME correction, where the averages move sideways for a while, in this case, some five months.

Eventually, the the moving averages catch up, and it is off to the races once again.

The reality is that there is a far greater risk of an impending market melt up than a melt down. But to understand why, we must delve further into history, and then the fundamentals.

For a start, most investors have not believed in this bull market for a nanosecond from the very beginning. They have been pouring their new cash into the bond market instead.

Now that bonds have given up a third of 2015?s gains in just a few weeks, the fear of God is in them, and dreams of reallocation are dancing in their minds.

Some 95% of active managers are underperforming their benchmark indexes this year, the lowest level since 1997, compared to only 76% in a normal year.

Therefore, this stock market has ?CHASE? written all over it.

Too many managers have only three months left to make their years, lest they spend 2016 driving a taxi for Uber and handing out free bottles of water. The rest of 2015 will be one giant ?beta? (outperformance) chase.

You can?t blame these guys for being scared. My late mentor, Morgan Stanley?s Barton Biggs, taught me that bull markets climb a never-ending wall of worry. And what a wall it has been.

Worry has certainly been in abundance this year, what with China collapsing, ISIL on the loose, Syria exploding, Iraq falling to pieces, the contentious presidential elections looming, oil in free fall, , the worst summer drought in decades, flaccid economic growth, and even a rampaging Donald Trump.

We also have to be concerned that my friend, Fed governor Janet Yellen, is going to unsheathe a giant sword and start hacking away at bond prices, as she has already done with quantitative easing (I?ve been watching Game of Thrones too much).

This will raise interest rates sooner, and by more.

Let me give you a little personal insight here into the thinking of Janet Yellen. It?s all about the jobs. Any hints about rate rises have been head fakes, especially when they come from a small, anti QE Fed minority.

When in doubt, Janet is all about easy money, until proven otherwise. Until then, think lower rates for longer, especially on the heels of a disappointing 173,000 August nonfarm payroll.

So I think we have a nice set up here going into Q4. It could be a Q4 2013 lite--a gain of 5%-10% in a cloud of dust.

The sector leaders will be the usual suspects, big technology names, health care, biotech (IBB), and energy (COP), (OXY). Banks (BAC), (JPM), (KBE) will get a steroid shot from rising interest rates, no matter how gradual.

To add some spice to your portfolio (perhaps at the cost of some sleepless nights), you can dally in some big momentum names, like Tesla (TSLA), Netflix (NFLX), Lennar Husing (LEN), and Facebook (FB).

TLT 9-15-15

TLT 9-15-15

KRE 9-15-15

John ThomasYou Mean it?s September Already?

The November Nonfarm Payroll Report is a Game Changer

Finally, the economy is starting to deliver the blockbuster numbers that I have been predicting all year.

The 321,000 gain in the November nonfarm payroll on Friday wasn?t just good, they were fantastic, truly of boom time proportions. It was the best report in nearly three years. The headline unemployment rate stayed at 5.8%, a seven year low.

It vindicates my ultra bullish view for the US economy of a robust 4% GDP growth rate in 2015. It also makes my own out-of-consensus $2,100 yearend target for the S&P 500 a chip shot (everybody and his brother?s target now, but certainly out-of-consensus last January).

There has been a steady drip, drip of data warning that something big was headed our way for the last several months. November auto sales a 17 million annualized rate was a key piece of the puzzle, as consumers cashed in on cheap gas prices to buy low mileage, high profit margin SUV?s. The Chrysler Jeep Cherokee, a piece of crap car if there ever was one, saw sales rocket by a mind-boggling 60%!

It reaffirms my view that the 40% collapse in the price of energy since June is not worth the 10% improvement in stock indexes we have seen so far. It justifies at least a double, probably to be spread over the next three years.

It also looks like Santa Claus will be working overtime this Christmas. Retailers are reporting a vast improvement over last year?s weather compromised sales results. A standout figure in the payroll report was the 50,000 jobs added by the sector. This is much more than just a seasonal influence, as FedEx and UPS pile on new workers.

The market impact was predictable. Treasury bond yields (TLT) spiked 10 basis points, the biggest one-day gain in four years. My position in the short Treasury ETF (TBT) saw a nice pop. Unloved gold (GLD) got slaughtered, again, cratering $25.

Stocks (SPY) didn?t see any big moves, and simply failed to give up their recent humongous gains once again. A major exception was the financials (XLF), egged on by diving bond prices. My long in Bank of America (BAC) saw another new high for the year.

All in all, it was another good day for followers of the Mad Hedge Fund Trader.

To understand how overwhelmingly positive the report was, you have to dive into the weeds. Average hourly earnings were up the most in 17 months. The September payroll report was revised upward from 256,000 to 271,000, while October was boosted from 214,000 to 243,000.

Professional and business services led the pack, up a whopping 86,000. There are serious, non minimum wage jobs. Job gains have averaged an impressive 278,000 over the last three months.

The broader U-6 unemployment rate fell to 11.4%, down from 12.7% a year ago. Most importantly, wage growth is accelerating, and hours worked are at a new cyclical high.

In view of these impressive numbers, it is unlikely that we will see any substantial pullback in share prices for the rest of 2014. For that, we will have to wait until 2015.

 

TLT 12-5-14

GOLD 12-5-14

SPY 12-5-14

BAC 12-5-14

Rosie the Riverter

A Special Note on Exercised Bank of America Options

This morning, Bank of America paid out a five cent quarterly dividend, which works out to an annualized yield of 1.18% and the shares will open this morning trading ex.

For those of you who have wisely followed my Trade Alert to buy the Bank of America (BAC) December, 2014 $15-$16 vertical bull call spread, good for you. As of last night, you were showing a profit of 0.88% on the position.

However, there is a chance that the short side of the trade, the December, 2014 $16 calls were exercised against you before the opening this morning. If that is the case, you would have been informed by your broker by email and immediate action is required on your part to avoid unnecessary risk.

The options traded on US exchanges and referred to in my Trade Alerts are American style, meaning that they can be exercised at any time by the owner. This is in contrast to European style options, which can only be exercised on the expiration day.
The vertical option spreads that I have been recommending for the past year are composed of a deep in-the-money long strike price plus a short portion at a nearer money strike price.

When stocks have high dividends, there is a chance that the near money option you are short, the December, 2014 $16 calls, gets exercised against you by the owner.

This requires you to deliver the stock equivalent of the option you are short, plus any quarterly dividends that are due. Don?t worry, because your long position perfectly hedges you against any principal risk in this situation.

However, you will be liable for the five-cent dividend, which works out to $5 for every call option you are short. If you executed the full 110 contracts recommended in my Trade Alert that works out to $550 (100 shares per option X $.05 dividend X 110 contracts).
You then need to email or call your broker back immediately informing him that you want to exercise your remaining long option position to meet your assigned short position.

This should completely close out your position and leave you with about half your remaining profit. This is not an automatic process and requires action on your part!

It also means that you get your margin back, plus your profit, the next day, and don?t have to run the position another two weeks into expiration. That means you are free to use the money to put on new trades.
Assignments are made on a random basis by an exchange computer, and can happen any day. You may get exercised, or you may not. Exercise means the owner of the option that you are short completely loses the entire premium on his call.

Dividends have to be pretty high to make such a move economic, usually at least over 3% on an annual rate. But these days, markets are so efficient that traders, or their machines, will exercise options for a single penny profit.

In fact, there are now some dedicated hedge funds and independent individual options traders that specialize in buying up calls the day before and ex dividend day to capture a tiny 29 basis point gross overnight profit. That is before execution expenses.

It hardly seems worth it to me, but I guess what they lack in size, they make up in volume. Hey, you do what you can do to earn a living.
Surprise assignments create a risk for option spread owners in a couple of ways. If you don?t check your email every day, you might not be aware that you have been assigned.

Alternatively, such emails sometimes get lost, or hung up in local servers or spam filters, which occasionally happens to readers of my own letter.

Then, you are left with the long side deep out-of-the-money call without on offsetting short position. You are now unhedged. This means you will have a substantially higher margin requirement, and is the equivalent of going outright long the stock in large size.

Suddenly, you are playing a totally different game, and not one I recommended. If the stock rises, then you could be in for a windfall profit. But if it falls, you could take a big hit. Guess which way the stock usually goes.

Better to completely avoid this situation at all cost and not take the chance. You are probably not set up to do this type of trading.
If you don?t have the cash in your account to cover this, you could get a margin call. If you ignore this call as well, your broker will close out your position at market without your permission.

It could produce some disconcerting communications from your broker. They generally hate issuing margin calls, and could well close your account if it is too small to bother with, as they create regulatory issues.
In order to get belt and braces coverage on this issue, it is best to call your broker and find out exactly what are their assignment policies and procedures. Believe it or not, some are still in the Stone Age, and have yet to automate the assignment process or give notice by email.

An ounce of prevention could be worth a pound of cure here. You can?t believe how irresponsible some of these people can be. The phone calls are free.
Consider all this a cost of doing business, or a frictional execution cost. In-the-money options are still a great strategy. But you should be aware of all the ins and outs to get the most benefit.

Good Luck and Good Trading
John Thomas

 

BAC 12-2-14

 

 

John Thomas

The Yearend Melt Up Has Started!

Any doubts that my bullish call on global risk markets would play out as promised were blown away on Friday.

That was when the central banks of China and Europe delivered a surprise, one two punch of monetary stimulus for their own troubled economies. The quantitative easing baton has successful been passed from America?s Federal Reserve to central bankers abroad.

The net net for you and I is that stocks and the dollar will continue to appreciate.

Specifically, China came out of the blue with a 0.4% interest rate cut, thus stimulating the world?s largest emerging market.

Then the European Central Bank?s president, Mario Draghi, said he would take whatever steps necessary to return the continent to a 2% inflation rate, up from today?s 0.40%. Unbelievably, Spanish ten-year bond yield fell below 2% in a heartbeat and German ten year funds pierced 0.80%.

For good measure, the Japanese central bank then chimed in, boosting the country?s money supply growth by 33% as promised earlier. Saying is one thing, but doing it is much better, especially when it carries a radical tinge.

The measures make my 2,100 target for the S&P 500 by the end of December a pretty safe bet. Look for a tedious, prolonged sideways grind, followed by rapid headline driven pop. Easy entry points will be few.

It really is one of those ?Close your eyes and buy? type of markets. I doubt we get pullback of less than 3% in the major indexes this year. Volatility will remain muted. All the black swans of landed.

It gets better.

This kind of market action could continue for another three years. After the ?Great Recession?, we are now witnessing the ?Great Recovery?. That means returning to a 3% or better GDP growth rate and 10% annual corporate earnings increases.

Add in 2% a year in dividend yields, and you get a (SPY) that rises by 10% a year. Look at the 100-year average gain for stocks and it comes in remarkably close to this number. Factor in an earnings multiple increase from the current 16, and they will rise faster.

This is all Goldilocks on steroids. Interest rates, the cost of labor, energy, and commodity price inputs stay low, earnings rise, and everybody else in the world sends their money here because it is the best bet going.

I all works for me, and I hope, you too!

John Thomas - BeachIt All Works for Me!

The Correction is Over

5%. A lousy 5%.

That?s all we managed to clock in the latest correction in the greatest bull market of all time.

It?s not the 6% hickey we had to endure in February, nor as modest as the 4% setback in August. Call it a middling type correction, a kind of correction light. The buyers do still have itchy trigger fingers.

All it took to bring it to an end was a September nonfarm payroll that blew the socks off the forecasts of most analysts, coming in at a positively steroidal 248,000. It?s like they?re finally hiring again.

That is, unless you just graduated from college with a degree in English, Sociology, or Political Science, and are lugging $100,000 in student loans. Coders everywhere are writing their own tickets.

The headline unemployment rate plunged from 6.1% to 5.9%, an eight year low, and the broader U-6 figure is closing in on 10%.

Even more impressive were the back month upward revisions, which were enormous. July was boosted from 212,000 to 243,000, and August was goosed from 142,000 to 180,000.

The hiring was across the board, with professional & business services, retail, health services, and even construction leading the way.

What all of this means is that the freshly updated 4.4% Q2 GDP growth rate isn?t some cockamamie government concoction, but is, in fact real.

More amazing is that we are seeing these blistering numbers against a background of non-existent inflation, even deflation, if the August -0.1% Consumer Price Index is to be believed.

That gives my friend, Federal Reserve governor Janet Yellen, a blank check to keep interest rates lower for longer than anyone believes possible.

Without the inflation bogeyman, you might as well keep rates at zero forever. Personally, I am in the 2016 camp before we start to see interest rate rises.

All this means it is back to the races for the stock market, with an (SPX) bull?s-eye of 2050-2100 now in the cards. However, we?re not going there in a straight line.

I expect more of a sideways wedge formation developing first over the coming month where we see successive higher lows and lower highs. When we reach the apex of the triangle it will be bingo!, and a blast off to new all time highs.

Of course, you can?t go to the races without a program. So make your choices carefully, as the kind of corrections of the type we have just seen often herald sudden sector rotations.

I think financials are the place to be, especially if my prediction that interest rates are bottoming proves correct. That?s why I knocked out a Trade Alert to buy Bank of America (BAC) last week (click here for the editor?s cut). Conveniently, it jumped 5% the next day. I have a pleasant habit of doing that with (BAC).

I am not dishing out a positive view on risk assets because I live in LaLa Land (I only grew up there), am a perma bull, or like drowning myself in the punch bowel (at least not since college). For me, it?s all about the numbers.

Here?s a list of figures to show, not that shares are cheap or how expensive shares are, but how moderately priced they are:

1) With a price earnings multiple of 17X, we are smack in the middle of a 10-25X historic range.

2) The dividend yield for stocks is at 1.9%, compared to only 1.1% at the 2007 top.

3) Cash reserves per S&P 500 share are a rich $443, compared to only $353 seven years ago.

4) Corporate debt to assets is a mere 23% versus 32% 2007.

I could go on and on, but you see my point. This bull market has years to go before it even flirts with becoming truly expensive, unless you own Tesla (TSLA), according to Mr. Elon Musk.

I think the way to trade this market is to reserve the daily newspapers only for lining the bottom of a birdcage, and to hit the mute button on your TV.

That way you won?t hear about the Ebola Virus, ISIL, the Midterm Elections, the war in the Ukraine, and all the other bogus reasons to sell stocks we are bombarded with daily.

Did I mention that the $20 per barrel plunge in the price of oil we have just seen amounts to one of the largest tax cuts in history for the economy?

See, I always write more interesting economic pieces while watching Men in Black. I think the 6,800-foot altitude here at Lake Tahoe helps too.

 

Inflation

Future Inflation

Unemployment Rate

Men in Black - Jones-SmithSo Inspiring!

Mad Hedge Fund Trader Tops 30% Gain in 2014

It looks we are going to have to start watching the appalling Zombie shows on TV and in the movies. That is so we can gain tips on how to survive the coming Apocalypse that will unfold when the Ebola virus escapes Texas and spreads nationally.

I?m not worried. I?m actually pretty good with a bow and arrow.

Thank you United Airlines!

I happy to report that the total return for my followers so far in 2014 has topped 35%, compared to a pitiful 1% gain for the Dow Average during the same period.

In September, my paid Trade Alert followers have posted a blockbuster 5.01% in gains. This is on the heels of a red-hot August, when readers took in a blistering 5.86% profit.

The nearly four year return is now at an amazing 157.8%, compared to a far more modest increase for the Dow Average during the same period of only 37%.

That brings my averaged annualized return up to 39.7%. Not bad in this zero interest rate world. It appears better to reach for capital gains than the paltry yields out there.

This has been the profit since my groundbreaking trade mentoring service was first launched in 2010. Thousands of followers now earn a full time living solely from my Trade Alerts, a development of which I am immensely proud.

It has been pedal to the metal on the short side for me since the Alibaba IPO debuted on September 19. I have seen this time and again over four decades of trading.

Wall Street gets so greedy, and takes out so much money for itself, there is nothing left for the rest of us poor traders and investors. They literally kill the goose that lays the golden egg. Share prices have nowhere left to go but downward.

Add to that Apple?s iPhone 6 launch on September 8 and the market had nothing left to look for. The end result has been the worst trading conditions in two years. However, my double short positions in the S&P 500 (SPY) and the Russell 2000 (IWM) provided the lifeboat I needed.

The one long stock position I did have, in Tesla (TSLA), is profitable, thanks to a constant drip, drip of leaks about the imminent release of the Model X SUV. The Internet is also burgeoning with rumors concerning details about the $40,000 next generation Tesla 3, which will enable the company to take over the world, at least the automotive part.

Finally, after spending two months touring dreary economic prospects on the Continent, I doubled up my short positions in the Euro (FXE), (EUO).

Those positions came home big time when the European Central Bank adopted my view and implanted an aggressive program of quantitative easing and interest rate cuts. Hint: we are now only one week into five more years of Euro QE!

The only position I have currently bedeviling me is a premature short in the Treasury bond market in the form of the ProShares Ultra Short 20+ Treasury ETF (TBT). Still, I only have a 40 basis point hickey there.

Against seven remaining profitable positions, I?ll take that all day long. And I plan to double up on the (TBT) when the timing is ripe.

Quite a few followers were able to move fast enough to cash in on the move. To read the plaudits yourself, please go to my testimonials page by clicking here. They are all real, and new ones come in almost every day.

Watch this space, because the crack team at Mad Hedge Fund Trader has more new products and services cooking in the oven. You?ll hear about them as soon as they are out of beta testing.

The coming year promises to deliver a harvest of new trading opportunities. The big driver will be a global synchronized recovery that promises to drive markets into the stratosphere by the end of 2014.

Global Trading Dispatch, my highly innovative and successful trade-mentoring program, earned a net return for readers of 40.17% in 2011, 14.87% in 2012, and 67.45% in 2013.

Our flagship product,?Mad Hedge Fund Trader PRO, costs $4,500 a year. ?It includes?Global Trading Dispatch?(my trade alert service and daily newsletter). You get a real-time trading portfolio, an enormous research database, and live biweekly strategy webinars. You also get Jim Parker?s?Mad Day Trader?service and?The Opening Bell with Jim Parker.

To subscribe, please go to my website at?www.madhedgefundtrader.com, click on ?Memberships? located on the second tier of tabs.

 

TA Performance 201410

John ThomasWaiting for a High Level Contact