December 30, 2019

Global Market Comments
December 30, 2019
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:

(XLV), (XPH), (XBI), (IMB), (GOOG), (AAPL), (CSCO), (BIIB)

October 28, 2019

Global Market Comments
October 28, 2019
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:

(BIIB), (IBB), (TSLA), (VIX), (BA), (AMZN), (AAPL), (MSFT), (GM)

The Market Outlook for the Week Ahead, or Don’t Fight the Fed

Don’t fight the Fed.

That was the overwhelming message of the market last week as it ground up to a new intraday all-time high. The economy may be going to hell in a handbasket. But as long as the Fed keeps lowering interest rates, stocks will go up, kicking and screaming all the way. It’s that simple.

America’s central bank will get its next chance to cut rates on Wednesday at 2:00 PM from the current overnight rate of 2.00%.

The big question is: Will the curse of the Fed continue? For the last two times the Fed lowered interest rates, substantial stock market selloffs ensued, the last one reaching a 7.5% haircut. We will know shortly.

The Mad Hedge Lake Tahoe Conference held last weekend was a blowout success, with a great time had by all. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect, with the lake waters calm and crystal clear. A day of market insights were delivered by me and Mad Hedge Technology Letter author Arthur Henry.

The only drawback was that several guests were prevented from going home by mandatory evacuations of several Bay Area cities and the closure of Interstate 80 going back to San Francisco. A handful (including me), had no electric power to return to when they got home.

I’ll share with you the most disturbing chart of the entire day showing the S&P 500 (SPY) has been grinding up to new highs, earnings forecasts have been absolutely falling off a cliff. Clearly, with the Volatility Index (VIX) back down to the lowly $12 handle, this is a market that is cruising for a bruising….someday.

Brexit failed again, taking the quagmire into its fourth year. An EC deal is postponed until January 31, but they’re really not interested at all. British pounds collapsing, creating a new “RISK OFF” leg worldwide. Prime minister Johnson has lost 5 consecutive parliamentary votes, an all-time record. When will he get the message?

US Capital Investment has ground to a halt, with business fixed investment down 1% YOY.  No one knows where to put their money, inside the US or not, so they’re doing nothing until it is sorted out. Call me when its over.

Biogen (BIIB) exploded to the upside on its FDA application for its new Alzheimer’s drug. Written off for dead six months ago, the company secretly kept working on Aducanumab until today’s blockbuster announcement. The drug reverses amyloid plaques thought responsible for Alzheimer’s. The stock is up an incredible 38% and has even dragged up the biotech ETF (IBB) 3%. Buy (BIIB) on dips.

Boeing soared on accelerated production timeline for 2020. Good thing I bought it just recently. The stock had been severely oversold on a $45 dive in two days. Buy (BA) on the dips.

The trade war is back in business with the Chinese demanding a total end to tariffs before any big ag buys. The rumors knocked stocks back on their heels. The Middle Kingdom also takes issue with recent Pence comments about basketball. Trump is definitely cornered. The trade war pain has gone global, with Europe taking the biggest hit. Some 40% of Germany’s GDP comes from exports. Growth will be on the skids for the next two years, even if a deal is done tomorrow.

Tesla shocked, bringing in a profit for only the third time in company history, and causing the stock to soar $55. The 100,000-unit production target within yearend looks within reach. Most importantly, they opened up a new supercharger station in Incline Village, Nevada! Tesla is now America’s most valuable car maker, beating (GM). The ideological Exxon-financed shorts have been destroyed once and for all. Buy (TSLA) on dips. There’s a ten bagger in this one.

Amazon put out a gloomy Christmas forecast on the back of a disappointing earnings report, crushing the shares by 7%. Looks like the trade war might cause a recession next year. Q3 revenues were great, up 24% to an eye-popping $70 billion. Good thing I took profits on the last option expiration. Poor Jeff Bezos, the abandoned son of an alcoholic circus clown, dropped $7 billion in net worth on Thursday. Buy (AMZN) on the dips.

The safest stock in the market, Microsoft, says it’s all about the cloud. Azure revenues grew a stunning 59% in Q3. (MSFT) is now up 37% on the year. Keep buying every dip, if we ever get another one.

Apple stock soared to new all-time high, taking the market cap just short of $1.1 trillion. iPhones are now less than 50% of total sales. The company is firing on all cylinders. My target is $200. Buy (AAPL) on dips.

Existing Home Sales dropped, down 2.2% in September to 5.38 million units. It’s shocking given the incredibly low level of interest rates. A shortage of supply?

This was a week for the Mad Hedge Trader Alert Service to stay level at an all-time high. With only one position left in Boeing (BA), not much else was going to happen.

My Global Trading Dispatch reached new pinnacle of +349.47% for the past ten years and my 2019 year-to-date accelerated to +48.42%. The notoriously volatile month of October stands at a blockbuster +11.91%. My ten-year average annualized profit held steady at +35.24%. 

With my Mad Hedge Market Timing Index sitting around the neutral 62 level, it is too close to neutral to do anything dramatic.

The coming week is pretty non eventful of the data front. Maybe the stock market will be non-eventful as well.

On Monday, October 28 at 8:30 AM, the September Chicago Fed National Activity Index is published. Alphabet (GOOGL), and AT&T (T) report.

On Tuesday, October 29 at 9:00 AM, we get a new S&P Case Shiller National Home Price Index for August. Amgen (AMGN) and Pfizer (P) report.

On Wednesday, October 30, at 8:30 AM, the first read on US Q3 GDP is announced. At 10:30 AM, EIA Energy Stocks are published. Then at 2:00 PM, we obtain the FOMC interest rate decision. Apple (AAPL) and Facebook (FB) report.

On Thursday, October 31 at 8:30 AM, Weekly Jobless Claims are out. US Steel (X) reports.

On Friday, November 1 at 8:30 AM, the October Nonfarm Payroll Report is released. AbbVie (ABBV) and ExxonMobile (XOM) report.

The Baker Hughes Rig Count follows at 2:00 PM.

As for me, I’ll be driving back home from Lake Tahoe. I wonder if I’ll make it.

Good luck and good trading.

John Thomas
CEO & Publisher
The Diary of a Mad Hedge Fund Trader










October 23, 2019

Global Market Comments
October 23, 2019
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:

(BIIB), (IBB), (NOVN), (ROG),

Biogen’s Huge Discovery

It is the sort of development that most Biotech investors only dream about. It also shows what’s possible in biotech investing, which is occurring with increasing frequency.

Biogen shares (BIIB) have exploded to the upside on its FDA application for its new Alzheimer’s drug. Written off for dead six months ago, the company secretly kept working on Aducanumab until today’s blockbuster announcement.

The drug reverses amyloid plaques thought responsible for Alzheimer’s. This could eventually cure tens of millions of Alzheimer’s sufferers and maybe even myself someday. The stock is up an incredible 40% today and has even dragged up the biotech ETF (IBB) an impressive 3%.

Way back in March, we saw a huge flop for Biogen (BIIB) as the biotech company supposedly shut down research for Alzheimer’s treatment: aducanumab (BIIB037) on the failure of a stage 3 trial. This announcement was a curveball for its shareholders as the drug was touted as a potential groundbreaking miracle treatment with sales pegged at the tens of billions.

Biogen has for some time made Alzheimer’s experiments the epicenter of their new drug pipeline. It also offers a multiple sclerosis treatment called Tecfidera.

Generic competition has been hot on its heels and shareholders can expect a number of patent challenges in the next few years. This would undoubtedly lead to a fall in sales soon especially with the recent crackdown on the skyrocketing prices of meds.

To combat these looming challenges, Biogen has shifted its focus on Spinraza which has been beating expectations since its release three years ago. Set to exceed the $2 billion in sales mark, this spinal muscular atrophy drug has been dominating the rare disease market for quite some time.

This reign might not last long though as Novartis AG (NOVN) and Roche Holding AG (ROG) are gunning to release their own version of the drug by 2020 or 2021. This means Biogen would once again see another blockbuster drug go flat.

How does Biogen plan to deal with the backlash?

If history is any indication, then investors can expect Biogen to start looking into acquiring medium-size biopharma firms as soon as possible. Since the company closed 2018 with $3.5 billion in cash along with $5.3 billion in its free cash flow, a buyout is a viable solution at the moment. However, the biotech giant can only afford one.

The medium-sized biopharma firms speculated to be under consideration include ACADIA Pharmaceuticals, Biohaven Pharmaceutical Holding Company, and Alder Biopharmaceuticals. However, Neurocrania Biosciences and Sage Therapeutics are said to be potential frontrunners for a Biogen takeover.

While a lot of investors would understandably be wary of another risk from Biogen, Neurocrania and Sage could be promising targets for the biopharma giant.

Neurocrania has been raking in huge profits from their blockbuster tardive dyskinesia drug Ingrezza since gaining FDA approval in 2017. In fact, annual sales of this product has reached $410 million in 2018.

Aside from their success with Ingrezza, Neurocrine has taken the first step towards gene therapy via their collaboration with Voyager Therapeutics. Just this month, Neurocrine has invested $165 million to commence the process of coming up with a treatment drug for Parkinson’s disease.

Another good option is Sage as the company also focuses on neurology, which means their goals could align with Biogen’s. The recent approval of Zulresso makes Sage the first company to provide treatment for severe postpartum depression.

While the Alzheimer’s debacle can be overwhelming, Biogen’s fundamentals remain attractive. In terms of revenue estimates, the company is anticipated to report a 2.2% increase this year or up to $13.75 billion. Meanwhile, growth for earnings per share is projected to be at 9.4% or up to $28.67 from its current EPS of $21.58.






October 17, 2019

Global Market Comments
October 17, 2019
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:

(USO), (XLV), (CI), (CELG), (BIIB), (AMGN), (CRSP), (IBM), (PYPL), (SQ), (JPM), (BAC), (EEM), (DXJ), (FCX), (GLD)

March 25, 2019

Global Market Comments
March 25, 2019
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:
(SPY), (TLT), (BIIB), (GOOG), (BA), (AAPL), (VIX), (USO)

The Market Outlook for the Week Ahead, or Game Changer

“When the facts change, I change. What do you do sir?” is a famous quote from the great economist John Maynard Keynes which I keep taped to the top of my monitor and constantly refer to.

The facts certainly changed on Wednesday when the Federal Reserve announced a change in the facts for the ages. Not only did governor Jay Powell announce that there would be no further rate increases in 2019.

He also indicated that the Fed would end its balance sheet unwind much earlier than expected. That has the effect of injecting $2.7 trillion into the US financial system and is the equivalent of two surprise interest rate CUTS.

The shocking move opens the way for stocks to trade up to new all-time high, with or without a China trade deal. Only the resumption of all-out hostilities, like the imposition of new across the board 25% tariffs, would pee on this parade.

As if we didn’t have enough to discount into the market in one shot. I held publication of this letter until Sunday night when we could learn more about the conclusion of the Mueller Report. There was no collusion with Russia and there will be no obstruction of justice prosecution.

However, the report did not end the president’s legal woes as it opened up a dozen new lines of investigation that will go on for years. The market could care less.

At the beginning of the year, I listed my “Five Surprises for 2019”. They were:

*The government shutdown ended and the Fed makes no move to raise interest rates

*The Chinese trade war ends

*The US makes no moves to impeach the Trump, focusing on domestic issues instead

*Britain votes to rejoin Europe

*The Mueller investigation concludes that he has an unpaid parking ticket in
NY from 1974 and that’s it

Notice that three of five predictions listed in red have already come true and the remaining two could transpire in coming weeks or months. All of the above are HUGELY risk positive and have triggered a MONSTER Global STOCK RALLY

Make hay while the sun shines because what always follows a higher high? A lower low.

The Fed eased again by cutting short their balance sheet unwind and ending quantitative tightening early. It amounts to two surprise interest rate cuts and is hugely “RISK ON”. New highs in stocks beckon. This is a game changer.

Bonds soared and rates crashed taking ten-year US Treasury bond yields down to an eye-popping 2.42%, still reacting to the Wednesday Fed comments. This is the final nail in the bond bear market as global quantitative easing comes back with a vengeance. German ten years bonds turn negative for the first time since 2016.

Interest rates inverted with short term rates higher than long term ones for the first time since 2008. That means a recession starts in a year and the stock market starts discounting that in three months.

Interest rates are now the big driver and everything else like the economy, valuations, and earnings are meaningless. Foreign interest rates falling faster than ours making US assets the most attractive in the world. BUY EVERYTHING, including stocks AND bonds.

Biogen blew up canceling their phase three trials for the Alzheimer drug Aducanumab. This is the worst-case scenario for a biotech drug and the stock is down a staggering 30%. Some $12 billion in prospective income is down the toilet. Avoid (BIIB) until the dust settles.

Europe fined Google $1.7 billion, in the third major penalty in three years. Clearly, there’s a “not invented here” mentality going on. It’s sofa change to the giant search company. Buy (GOOG) on the dip.

More headaches for Boeing came down the pike. What can go wrong with a company that has grounded its largest selling product? Answer: they get criminally prosecuted. That was the unhappy news that hit Boeing (BA), knocking another $7 off the shares. It can’t get any worse than this, can it? Buy this dip in (BA).

Indonesia canceled a massive 737 order for 49 planes, slapping the stock on the face for $9. Apparently, they are unwilling to wait for the software fix. Buy the dip in (BA).

Oil prices hit a new four-month high at $58 a barrel as OPEC production caps work and Venezuela melts down. At a certain point, high energy prices are going to hurt the economy. Buy (USO) on dips.

The CBOE suspended bitcoin futures due to low volume and weak demand. It could be a fatal blow for the troubled cryptocurrency. Avoid bitcoin and all other cryptos. They’re a Ponzi scheme.

Equity weightings hit a 2 ½ year low as professional institutional money managers sell into the rally. They are overweight long defensive REITs and short European stocks. Watch out for the reversal.

December stock sellers are now March buyers. Expect this to lead to a higher high, then a lower low. Volatility is coiling. Don’t forget to sit down when the music stops playing.

Volatility hits a six-month low with the $12 handle revisited once again down from $30. (VIX) could get back to $9 before this is all over. Avoid (VIX) as the time decay will kill you.

Weak factory orders crush the market, down 450 points at the low. Terrible economic data is not new these days. But it ain’t over yet. Buy the dip.

The Mad Hedge Fund Trader was up slightly on the week.  That’s fine, given the horrific 450 point meltdown the market suffered on Friday. We might have closed unchanged on the day but for rumors that the Mueller Report would be imminently released.

March is still negative, down -1.54%.  My 2019 year to date return retreated to +11.74%,  boosting my trailing one-year return back up to +24.86%. 
My nine-year return recovered to +311.88%. The average annualized return appreciated to +33.71%. I am now 40% in cash, 40% long and 20% short, and my entire portfolio expires at the April 18 option expiration day in 14 trading days.

The Mad Hedge Technology Letter used the weakness to scale back into positions in Microsoft (MSFT), Alphabet (GOOGL), and PayPal (PYPL), which are clearly going to new highs.

The coming week will be a big one for data from the real estate industry.

On Monday, March 25, Apple will take another great leap into services, probably announcing a new video streaming service to compete with Netflix and Walt Disney.

On Tuesday, March 26, 9:00 AM EST, we get a new Case Shiller CoreLogic National Home Price index which will almost certainly show a decline.

On Wednesday, March 27 at 8:30 AM, we get new Trade Deficit figures for January which have lately become a big deal.

Thursday, March 28 at 8:30 AM EST, the Weekly Jobless Claims are announced. We also then get another revision for Q4 GDP which will likely come down.

On Friday, March 29 at 10:00 AM, we get February New Home Sales. The Baker-Hughes Rig Count follows at 1:00 PM.

As for me, I’m praying that it stops snowing in the High Sierras long enough for me to get over Donner Pass and spend the spring at Lake Tahoe. We are at 50 feet for the season, the second highest on record.

Good luck and good trading.

John Thomas
CEO & Publisher
The Diary of a Mad Hedge Fund Trader








January 10, 2019

Global Market Comments
January 10, 2019
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:

(SPY), (UUP), (FXE), (FXY), (FXA), (AAPL), (GLD), (SLV), (FCX), (SOYB), (USO), (MU), (NVDA), (AMD), (TLT), (TBT), (BIIB), (TSLA)

January 9 Biweekly Strategy Webinar Q&A

Due to technical problems, I was unable to read your questions. However, I was able to get a print out after the fact.

Below please find subscribers’ Q&A for the Mad Hedge Fund Trader January 9 Global Strategy Webinar with my guest and co-host Bill Davis of the Mad Day Trader.

Q: Is the bottom in for stocks?

A: It is for six months to a year. A price earnings multiple at 14X seems to be the line in the sand. The Christmas Eve massacre, which took us down to a (SPY) of $230, was the final capitulation bottom of the entire down move. We may try a few more retests of the lows on bad tweets or data points. But from here on, you’re trying to buy the dip. That’s why I cut my vacation short a week and issued eight emergency trade alerts, five for Global Trading Dispatch and three for the tech letter. By the way, I hope you appreciate those trade alerts because I had to call back staff from vacations in four different countries to get them done. But it was worth it. We’ve had the strongest start to a New Year in a decade, up 5.75%. We made back all our Q4 losses in two days!

Q: Is the strong dollar play (UUP) over? Is it time to start buying Euro (FXE) and Yen (FXE)?

A: Yes, it is. The Fed flipping from hawk to dove sounds the death knell for the dollar. With the expansion of the yield spread between the buck and other currencies stopped dead in its tracks, a massive short covering rally will drive the currencies higher. That’s why I bought the Euro on Monday for the first time in more than a year (FXE). The Japanese yen where the biggest shorts has already moved too far, up 8%. That’s where hedge fund typically finance positions because yen yields have been at zero forever.

Q: How about the Aussie (FXA)? Do we have a shot now?

A: I think so. But the bigger driver with Aussie is the trade war with China. That said, I believe that will get resolved soon too unless Trump wants to run for reelection during a recession. The Aussie also has relatively high-interest rates so it should soar.

Q: Is the government shutdown starting to hurt the economy?

A: Yes, it is. Estimates on the damage the shutdown is doing range from 0.5% to 1% a week. That means at a minimum of 20-week shut down cuts 2019 GDP growth by 1%. If your assumption for growth this year is only 2%, that brings us perilously close to a recession. However, with the big stock market rally of the past week investors clearly believe the shutdown will be over in a week. Buy “Wall” stocks.

Q: What’s the biggest risk to the market now?

A: Companies announced great earnings in October and the stocks promptly collapsed. Q4 earnings start in a few weeks, except this time, the earnings will be smaller. The big one, Apple (AAPL) is reporting on January 29 and will be especially exciting since they already announced a major disappointment. If we get a repeat, you could get another meltdown in February just like we saw last year.

Q: Do you still like gold (GLD)?

A: I did in Q4 as a hedge for a collapsing stock market. Now that stocks are on fire again, I think gold and silver (SLV) will take a rest. You’re not going to get a serious move in gold until we see higher inflation and that is a while off.

Q: Is the bear market in commodities over?

A: I think so, with a flattening interest rate picture and a weakening dollar, the entire commodity complex is looking better. That includes copper (FCX), energy (USO), and the ags (SOYB). What do you buy in an expensive market? Cheap stuff, and all of these are at seven-year lows. I think people are ready to give paper assets a rest. All we need now for these to work is inflation. My cleaning lady just asked for a raise so there’s hope.

Q: The semiconductors have just had a good move. Is it time to get in?

A: You want to buy the semis, like Micron Technology (MU), NVIDIA (NVDA), and Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) when they’ve just had a BAD move. Market conditions have improved, but not to the extent you want to buy the most volatile stocks in the market. That said, if we get another crushing move in February you might dip your toe in with some semis on capitulation day. If you want to buy semis in this environment, you might have a gambling addiction.

Q: If the Fed has stopped raising rates, are you still bearish on the (TLT) and bullish on the (TBT)?

A: I think what governor Jay Powell’s dovish comments will do is put bonds in a six-month range, say 2.45%-3.0% in yield. All of my future bond alerts will trade around those levels. In the option world, we will be setting up a short strangle, betting that interest rates don’t move out of this range for a while. In that case, our two bond positions will be OK, with the nearest money one expiring in only seven trading days.

Q: Is it too late to get into biotech (BIIB)?

A: No, along with technology, biotech will be one of the two leading sectors in the entire market for the next ten years. However, me being an eternal cheapskate, I want to get in again on a decent dip. This is the industry that will cure cancer over the next decade and that will be worth a trillion dollars in profits.

Q: You’ve kept us out of Tesla (TSLA) for a couple of years. Is it time to go back in?

A: I think I would. If production can ramp up from 7,000 to 10,000 a week, the stock should do the same. The ten-year view for this stock is that it goes from today’s $330 to $2,500. That said, this is a notorious trading stock so it is very important to buy it on a dip. Wait for the next tweet from Elon Musk.

Q: If we enter a bear market in May 2019, what would be the appropriate long-term investments at that time?

A: Nothing beats cash, especially now that you are actually getting paid something decent. You can find cash equivalents now yielding all the way up to 4%. In a bear market, stocks either go down a lot, or a whole lot, so there is nothing worth keeping. The only reason to stay in is to avoid a monster tax bill (my cost on Apple is 25 cents) or you still work for the company.