(LAUNCHING THE NEW MAD HEDGE BIOTECH AND HEALTHCARE LETTER) (THE NEW AI BOOK THAT INVESTORS ARE SCRAMBLING FOR), (GOOG), (FB), (AMZN), MSFT), (BABA), (BIDU), (TENCENT), (TSLA), (NVDA), (AMD), (MU), (LRCX)
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A better headline for this piece would be “The Future of You,” as artificial intelligence is about to become so integral to your work, your investment portfolio, and even your very existence that you won’t be able to live without it quite literally.
Well, do I have some great news for you. A blockbuster book about the state of play on all things AI was released in September last year, and I managed to obtain and read a copy before it was released. The title is AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order by Dr. Kai-Fu Lee.
The bottom line: The future is even more unbelievable than you remotely imagined. We are in the very early days of this giant megatrend, and the investment opportunities will be nothing less than spectacular.
And here is a barn burner. The price of AI is dropping fast as hundreds of thousands of new programmers pour into the field. Those $10 million signing bonuses are about to become a thing of the past.
Dr. Lee is certainly someone to take seriously. He obtained one of the first PhDs in AI from Carnegie Mellon University. He was the president of Google (GOOG) China and put in stints at Microsoft (MSFT) and Apple (AAPL). Today, he is the CEO of Sinovation Ventures, the largest AI venture capital firm in China, and is a board director of Alibaba (BABA).
AI is nothing more than deep learning, or super pattern recognition. Dr. Lee dates the onset of artificial intelligence to 1952 when an IBM mainframe computer learned to play checkers and beat human opponents. By 1955, it learned to develop strategies on its own.
Dr. Lee sees the AI field ultimately divided into two spheres of dominance, the U.S. and China. No one else is devoting a fraction of the resources needed to become a serious player. The good news is that Russia and Iran are nowhere in the game.
While the U.S. dominates in the original theory and algorithms that founded AI, China is about to take the lead in applications. It can do this because it has access to mountains of data that dwarf those available in America. China processes three times more mobile phones, five times more Internet customers, 10 times more eat-out orders, and 50 times more mobile transactions. In a future where data is the currency, this is huge.
The wake-up call for China in applications took place two years ago when U.S. and Korean AI programs beat grandmasters in the traditional Chinese game of Go. Long a goal of AI programmers, this great leap forward took place 20 years earlier than had been anticipated. This created an AI stampede in the Middle Kingdom that led to the current bubble.
The result has been applications that are still in the realm of science fiction in the U.S. The Chinese equivalent of eBay (EBAY), Taobao, doesn’t charge fees because its customer base is so big it can remain profitable on ad revenues only. Want to be more beautiful in your selfies sent to friends? A Chinese app will do that for you, Beauty Plus.
The Chinese equivalent of Yelp, Dianping, has 600,000 deliverymen on mopeds. The number of takeout meals is so vast that it has been able to drop delivery costs from $6 a meal to 60 cents. As a result, traditional restaurants are dying out in China.
Teachers in Chinese schools no longer take attendance. Students are checked off when they enter the classroom by facial recognition software. And heaven help you if you jaywalk in a Chinese city. Similar software will automatically issue you a citation with a fine and send it to your home.
Credit card fraud is actually on the decline in China as dubious transactions are blocked by facial matching software. The bank simply calls you, asks you to look into your phone, takes your picture, and then matches it with the image they have on file.
Dr. Lee sees AI unfolding in four waves, and there are currently companies operating in every one of these (see graph below):
1) Internet AI
The creation of black boxes and specialized algorithms that opened the door to monetizing code. This was the path for today’s giants that dominate online commerce, Google (GOOG), Amazon (AMZN), JD.com (JD), and Facebook (FB). Alibaba (BABA), Baidu (BIDU), and Tencent followed.
2) Business AI
Think big data. This is the era we just entered where massive data from online customers, financial transactions, and healthcare led to the writing of new algorithms that maximize profitability. Suddenly, companies can turn magic knobs to achieve desired goals, such as stepping up penetration or monetization.
3) Perception AI
Using trillions of sensors worldwide, analog data on any movement, facial expression, sound, and image are converted into digital data and then mined for conclusions by more advanced algorithms. Cameras are suddenly everywhere. Amazon’s Alexa is the first step in this process, where your conversations are recorded and then mined for keywords about your every want and desire.
Think of autonomous fast food where you walk in your local joint and it immediately recognizes you, offers you your preferred dishes, and then auto bills your online account for your purchase. Amazon has already done this with a Whole Foods store in Seattle.
4) Autonomous AI
Think every kind of motion. AI will get applied to autonomous driving, local shuttles, factory forklifts, assembly lines, and inspections of every kind. Again, data and processing demand take an enormous leap upward. Tesla (TSLA), Waymo (GOOG), and Uber are already very active in this field.
The book focuses a lot on the future of work. Dr. Lee creates a four-part scatter chart predicting the viability of several types of skills based on optimization, compassion, creativity, and strategy (see below).
If you are a truck driver, in customer support, or a dishwasher, or engage in any other repetitive and redundant profession, your outlook is grim. If you can supplement AI, such as a CEO, economist, or marketing head, you’ll do fine. People who can do what AI can’t, such as teachers and artists, will prosper.
The Investment Angle
There have been only two ways to invest in AI until now. You can buy shares in any of the seven giants above whose shares have already risen for 100- or 1,000-fold.
You can invest in the nets and bolts parts providers, such as NVIDIA (NVDA), Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), Micron Technology (MU), and Lam Research (LRCX), which provide the basic building blocks for the Internet infrastructure.
Fortunately for our paid subscribers, the Mad Hedge Trade Alert Service caught all of these very early.
What’s missing is the “in-between companies,” which are out of your reach because they are locked up in university labs or venture capital funds. Many of these never see the light of day as public companies because they get taken over by the tech giants above. It’s effectively a closed club that won’t let outsiders in. It’s a dilemma that vexes any serious technology investor.
When quantum computing arrives in a decade, you can take all the functionality above and multiply it by a trillion-fold, while costs drop a similar amount. That’s when things really get interesting. But then, I’ve seen trillion-fold increases in technology before.
I hope I live to see another.
Personally, I Prefer the Original
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Below please find subscribers’ Q&A for the Mad Hedge Fund Trader August 21Global Strategy Webinar broadcast with my guest and co-host Bill Davis of the Mad Day Trader. Keep those questions coming!
Q: Hey Bill, how often have you heard the word “recession” in the last 24 hours?
A: Seems like every time I turn around. But then we’re also getting a pop in the market; we thought it bottomed a few days ago. The question was: how far were we going to get to bounce? This is going to be very telling as to what happens on this next rally.
Q: Can interest rates go lower?
A: Yes, they can go a lot lower. The general consensus in the US is that we bottom them out somewhere between zero and 1.0%. We’re already way below that in Europe, so we will see lower here in the US. It’s all happening because QE (quantitative easing) is ramping up on a global basis. Europe is about to announce a major QE program in the beginning of September, and the US ended their quantitative tightening way back in March. So, the global flooding of money from central banks, now at $17 trillion, is about to increase even more. That’s what’s causing these huge dislocations in the bond market.
Q: If we’re having trouble getting into trades, should we chase or not?
A: Never chase. Leave your limit in there at a price you’re happy with. Often times, you’ll get done at the end of the day when the high frequency traders cash out all their positions. They will artificially push up our trade alert prices during the day and take them right back down at the end of the day because they have to go 100% cash by the close of each day—they never carry overnight positions. That’s becoming a common way that people get filled on our Trade Alerts.
Q: Will Boris Johnson get kicked out before the hard Brexit occurs?
A: Probably, yes. I’m hoping for it, anyway. What may happen is Parliament forcing a vote on any hard Brexit. If that happens, it will lose, the prime minister will have to resign, and they’ll get a new prime minister. Labor is now campaigning on putting Brexit up to a vote one more time, and just demographic change alone over the last four years means that Brexit will lose in a landslide. That would pull England out of the last 4 years of indecision, torture, and economic funk. If that happens, expect British stock markets to soar and the pound (FXB) to go up, from $1.17 all the way back up to $1.65, where it was before the whole Brexit disaster took place.
Q: Is the US central bank turning into Japan?
A: Yes. If we go to zero rates and zero growth and recession happens, there’s no way to get out of it; and that is the exact situation Japan has been in. For 30 years they have had zero rates, and it’s done absolutely nothing to stimulate their economy or corporate profits. The question then—and one someone might ask Washington—is: why pursue a policy that’s already been proven unsuccessful in every country it’s been tried in?
Q: Will US household debt become a problem if there is a sharp recession?
A: Yes, that’s always a problem in recessions. It’s a major reason why financials have been in a freefall because default rates are about to rise substantially.
Q: Given the big spike in earnings in NVIDIA (NVDA), what now for the stock?
A: Wait for a 10% dip and buy it. This stock has triple in it over the next 3 years. You want to get into all the chip stocks like this, such as Micron Technology (MU), Lam Research (LRCX), and Advanced Micro Devices (AMD).
Q: Baidu (BIDU) has risen in earnings, with management saying the worst is over. Is this reality or is this a red herring?
A: I vote for A red herring. There’s no way the worst is over, unless the management of Baidu knows something we don’t about Chinese intentions.
Q: When will Wells Fargo (WFC) be out of the woods?
A: I hate the sector so I’m really not desperate to reach for marginal financials that I have to get into. If I do want to get into financials, it will be in JP Morgan (JPM), one of my favorites. The whole sector is getting slaughtered by low interest rates.
Q: Any idea when the trade war will end?
A: Yes, after the next presidential election. It’s not as if the Chinese are negotiating in bad faith here, they just have no idea how to deal with a United States that changes its position every day. It’s like negotiating with a piece of Jell-O, you can’t nail it down. At this point the Chinese have thrown their hands up and think they can get a better deal out of the next president.
Q: Would you short General Electric (GE) or wait for another bump up to short it?
A: I would wait for a bump. Obviously—with the latest accounting scandal, which compares (GE) with Enron and WorldCom—I don’t want to get involved with the stock. And we could get new lows once the facts of the case come out. There are too many better fish to fry, like in technology, so I would stay away from (GE).
Q: How do you put stop losses on your trade?
A: It’s a confluence of fundamentals and technicals. Obviously, we’re looking at key support levels on the charts; if those fail then we stop out of there. That doesn’t happen very often, maybe on 10% of our trades (and more recently even less than that). Our latest stop loss was on the (TLT) short. That was our biggest loss of the year but thank goodness we got out of that, because after we stopped out at $138 it went all the way to $146, so that’s why you do stop losses.
Q: How about putting on a (TLT) short now?
A: No, I think we’re going to new highs on (TLT) and new lows on interest rates. We’re just going through a temporary digestion period now. We’ll challenge the lows in rates and highs in prices once again, and you don’t want to be short when that happens. The liquidity is getting so bad in the bond market, you’re getting these gigantic gaps as a global buy panic in bonds continues.
Q: Do you have thoughts on what Fed Governor Powell may say in Jackson Hole, and any market reaction?
A: I have no idea what he might say, but he seems to be trying to walk a tightrope between presidential attacks and economic reality. With the stock market 3% short of an all-time high, I’m not sure how much of a hurry he will be in to lower interest rates. The Fed is usually behind the curve, lowering rates in response to a weak economy, and I’m not sure the actual data is weak enough yet for them to lower. The Fed never anticipates potential weakness (at least until the last raise) so we shall see. But we may have little volatility for the rest of the week and then a big move on Friday, depending on what he says.
Q: What is your take on the short term 6-18 months in residential real estate? Are Chinese tariffs and recession fears already priced in or will prices continue to drop?
A: Prices will continue to drop but not to the extent that we saw in ‘08 and ‘09 when prices dropped by 50, 60, 70% in the worst markets like Florida, Las Vegas, and Arizona. The reason for that is you have a chronic structural shortage in housing. All the home builders that went bankrupt in the last crash has resulted in a shortage, and you also have an immense generation of Millennials trying to buy homes now who’ve been shut out by higher interest rates and who may be coming back in. So, I’m not expecting anything remotely resembling a crash in real estate, just a slowdown. And new homes are actually not falling at all. That’s because the builders are deliberately restraining supply there.
Q: What is a good LEAP to put on now?
A: There aren’t any. We’re somewhat in the middle of a wider, longer-term range, and I want to wait until we get to the bottom of that; when people are jumping out of windows—that’s when you want to start putting on your long term LEAPS (long term equity anticipation securities), and when you get the biggest returns. We may get a shot at that sometime in the next month or two before a year in rally begins. If you held a gun to my head and told me I had to buy a leap, it would probably be in Boeing (BA), which is down 35% from its high.
https://www.madhedgefundtrader.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/john-telescope-e1503946045827.jpg328400Mad Hedge Fund Traderhttps://www.madhedgefundtrader.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/cropped-mad-hedge-logo-transparent-192x192_f9578834168ba24df3eb53916a12c882.pngMad Hedge Fund Trader2019-08-23 01:02:022019-10-14 09:40:44August 21 Biweekly Strategy Webinar Q&A
Below please find subscribers’ Q&A for the Mad Hedge Fund Trader June 12Global Strategy Webinar with my guest and co-host Bill Davis of the Mad Day Trader. Keep those questions coming!
Q: Do you think Tesla (TSLA) will survive?
A: Not only do I think it will survive, but it’ll go up 10 times from the current level. That’s why we urged people to buy the stock at $180. Tesla is so far ahead of the competition, it is incredible. They will sell 400,000 cars this year. The number two electric car competitor will sell only 25,000. They have a ten-year head start in the technology and they are increasing that lead every day. Battery costs will drop another 90% over the next decade eventually making these cars incredibly cheap. Increase sales by ten times and double profit margins and eventually, you get to a $1 trillion company.
Q: Beyond Meat (BYND)—the veggie burger stock—just crashed 25% after JP Morgan downgraded the stock. Are you a buyer here?
A: Absolutely not; veggie burgers are not my area of expertise. Although there will be a large long-term market here potentially worth $140 billion, short term, the profits in no way justify the current stock price which exists only for lack of anything else going on in the market. You don’t get rich buying stocks at 37 times company sales.
Q: Are you worried about antitrust fears destroying the Tech stocks?
A: No, it really comes down to a choice: would you rather American or Chinese companies dominate technology? If we break up all our big tech companies, the only large ones left will be Chinese. It’s in the national interest to keep these companies going. If you did break up any of the FANGS, you’d be creating a ton of value. Amazon (AMZN) is probably worth double if it were broken up into four different pieces. Amazon Web Services alone, their cloud business, will probably be worth $1 trillion as a stand-alone company in five years. The same is true with Apple (AAPL) or Google (GOOG). So, that’s not a big threat overhanging the market.
Q: Is it time to buy Salesforce (CRM)?
A: Yes, you want to be picking up any cloud company you can on any kind of sizeable selloff, and although this isn’t a sizeable selloff, Salesforce is the dominant player in cloud plays; you just want to keep buying this all day long. We get back into it every chance we can.
Q: Do you think the proposed merger of United Technologies (UT) and Raytheon (RTN) will lower the business quality of United Tech’s aerospace business?
A: No, these are almost perfectly complementary companies. One is strong in aerospace while the other is weak, and vice versa with defense. You mesh the two together, you get big economies of scale. The resulting layoffs from the merger will show an increase in overall profitability.
Q: I had the Disney (DIS) shares put to me at $114 a share; would you buy these?
A: Disney stock is going to go up ahead of the summer blockbuster season, so the puts are going to expire being worthless. Sell the puts you have and then go short even more to make back your money. Go naked short a small non-leveraged amount Disney $114 puts, and that should bring in a nice return in an otherwise dead market. Make sure you wait for another selloff in the market to do that.
Q: What role does global warming play in your bullish hypothesis for the 2020s?
A: If people start to actually address global warming, it will be hugely positive for the global economy. It would demand the creation of a plethora of industries around the world, such as solar and other alternative energy industries. When I originally made my “Golden Age” forecast years ago, it was based on the demographics, not global warming; but now that you mention it, any kind of increase in government spending is positive for the global economy, even if it’s borrowed. Spending to avert global warming could be the turbocharger.
Q: Why not go long in the United States Treasury Bond Fund (TLT) into the Fed interest rate cuts?
A: I would, but only on a larger pullback. The problem is that at a 2.06% ten-year Treasury yield, three of the next five quarter-point cuts are already priced into the market. Ideally, if you can get down to $126 in the (TLT), that would be a sweet spot. I have a feeling we’re not going to pull back that far—if you can pull back five points from the recent high at $133, that would be a good point at which to be long in the (TLT).
Q: Extreme weather is driving energy demand to its highest peak since 2010…is there a play here in some energy companies that I’m missing?
A: No, if we’re going into recession and there’s a global supply glut of oil, you don’t want to be anywhere near the energy space whatsoever; and the charts we just went through—Halliburton (HAL) and so on—amply demonstrate that fact. The only play here in oil is on the short side. When US production is in the process of ramping up from 5 million (2005) to $12.3 million (now), to 17 million barrels a day (by 2024) you don’t want to have any exposure to the price of oil whatsoever.
Q: What about China’s FANGS—Alibaba (BABA) and Baidu (BIDU). What do you think of them?
A: I wanted to start buying these on extreme selloff days in anticipation of a trade deal that happens sometime next year. You actually did get rallies without a deal in these things showing that they have finally bottomed down. So yes, I want to be a player in the Chinese FANGS in expectation of a trade deal in the future sometime, but not soon.
Q: Silver (SLV) seems weaker than gold. What’s your view on this?
A: Silver is always the high beta play. It usually moves 1.5-2.5 times faster than gold, so not only do you get bigger rallies in silver, you get bigger selloffs also. The industrial case for silver basically disappeared when we went to digital cameras twenty years ago.
Q: Does this extended trade war mean the end for emerging markets (EEM)?
A: Yes, for the time being. Emerging markets are one of the biggest victims of trade wars. They are more dependent on trade than any of the major economies, so as long as we have a trade war that’s getting worse, we want to avoid emerging markets like the plague.
Q: We just got a huge rebound in the market out of dovish Fed comments. Is this delivering the way for a more dovish message for the rest of the year?
A: Yes, the market is discounting five interest rate cuts through next year; so far, the Fed has delivered none of them. If they delayed that cutting strategy at all, even for a month, it could lead to a 10% selloff in the stock market very quickly and that in and of itself will bring more Fed interest rate cuts. So, it is sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy. The bottom line is that we’re looking at an ultra-low interest rate world for the foreseeable future.
Good Luck and Good Trading.
John Thomas CEO & Publisher The Diary of a Mad Hedge Fund Trader
https://www.madhedgefundtrader.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/john-thomas-6.png387291Mad Hedge Fund Traderhttps://www.madhedgefundtrader.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/cropped-mad-hedge-logo-transparent-192x192_f9578834168ba24df3eb53916a12c882.pngMad Hedge Fund Trader2019-06-14 02:02:482019-07-17 10:25:01June 12 Biweekly Strategy Webinar Q&A
Ratcheting up the trade tensions, China is pulling the trigger on retaliatory tariffs on $60 billion worth of U.S. goods, just days after the American administration said it would levy higher tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods.
American President Donald Trump accused China of reneging on a “great deal.”
The mushrooming friction between the two superpowers gives even more credence to my premise that hardware stocks should be avoided like the plague.
I have stood out on my perch in 2019 and proclaimed to buy software stocks and if you need one name to hide out in then I would confidently choose Microsoft (MSFT).
Microsoft has little exposure to China and will be rewarded the most on a relative basis.
The last place you want to get caught out is buying hardware stocks exposed to China and Apple is quickly turning into the largest piece of collateral damage along with airplane manufacturer Boeing.
Remember that 20% of Apple’s revenue comes from China and Apple bet big to solidify a complex supply chain through Foxconn Technology Group in China.
When history is recorded, CEO of Apple Tim Cook not hedging his bets exposing Apple’s revenue machine could go down as one of the worst ever managerial decisions by tech management.
The forced intellectual property transfers in China from western corporations was the worst kept secret in corporate America.
Being an operational guru as he is, and the hordes of data that Apple have access to, this was a no brainer and Cook should have mitigated his risks by investing in a supply chain that was partially outside of China, and not incrementally spreading out the supply chain through other parts of Asia is coming back to bite him.
China’s most recent tariffs will come into effect on June 1, adding up to 25% to the cost of U.S. goods that are covered by the new policy from China’s State Council Customs Tariff Commission.
The result of these newly minted tariffs is that importers will probably elect to avoid absorbing the costs themselves and pass the price hikes to the consumer sapping demand.
The American consumer still retains its place as the holy grail of the American economic bull case, but this will test the thesis.
For the short term, it would be foolish to hang out to Chinese companies listed in New York through American depository receipts (ADR) such as JD.com (JD), Alibaba (BABA).
Baidu (BIDU) is a company that I am flat out bearish on because of a weakening strategic position versus Alibaba and Tencent in China.
Even with no trade war, I would tell investors to short Baidu, and the chart is nothing short of disgusting.
Wei Jianguo, a former vice-minister at the Chinese Ministry of Commerce who handled foreign trade, said to the South China Morning Post that “China will not only act as a kung fu master in response to U.S. tricks but also as an experienced boxer and can deliver a deadly punch at the end.”
It is clear that any goodwill between the two heavyweight powers has evaporated and the hardliners inside the communist party pulled all the levers possible to back out at the last second.
Many of us do not understand, but there is a complicated political game perpetuating inside the Chinese communist party pitting reformists against staunch traditionalists.
This is not only Chairman Xi’s decision and appearing weak on the global stage is the last concession the communist government will subscribe to.
Along with the iPhone company, semiconductor stocks will be ones to avoid.
The list starts out with the chip companies leveraged the most to Chinese revenue as a proportion of total sales including Qualcomm (QCOM) with 65% of revenue in China, Micron (MU) who has 57% of sales in China, Qorvo who has half of sales from China, Broadcom who has 48% of sales from China, and Texas Instruments rounding out the list with 43% of total revenue from China.
The first 5 months of the year saw constant chatter that the two sides would kiss and makeup and chip stocks benefitted from that tsunami of positive momentum.
The picture isn’t as pretty when you flip the script, and chip stocks could suffer a gut-wrenching summer if the two sides drift further apart.
After Microsoft, other software names I would take comfort in with the added bonus of strong balance sheets are Veeva Systems (VEEV), PayPal (PYPL), and Adobe (ADBE).
The new tariffs will burden American households to up to $2 billion per month going forward, and new purchases for discretionary items like extra electronics will be put on the back burner extending the refresh cycle and saddling chip companies and Apple with a glut of iPhone and chip inventory.
Buy software companies on the dip.
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