Global Market Comments
January 22, 2021
(JANUARY 20 BIWEEKLY STRATEGY WEBINAR Q&A),
(QQQ), (IWM), (SPY), (ROM), (BRK/A), (AMZN), NVDA), (MU), (AMD), (UNG), (USO), (SLV), (GLD), ($SOX), CHIX), (BIDU), (BABA), (NFLX), (CHIX), ($INDU), (SPY), (TLT)
Below please find subscribers’ Q&A for the January 20 Mad Hedge Fund Trader Global Strategy Webinar broadcast from Incline Village, NV.
Q: What will a significant rise in long term bond yields (TLT) do to PE ratios in general, and high tech specifically?
A: Well, the key question here is: what is “significant”. Is “significant” a move in a 10-year from 120 to 150, which may be only months off? I don’t think that will have any impact whatsoever on the stock market. I think to really give us a good scare on interest rates, you need to get the 10-year up to 3.0%, and that might be two years off. We’re also going to be testing some new ground here: how high can bond interest rates go while the Fed keeps overnight rates at 25 basis points? They can go up more, but not enough to hurt the stock market. So, I think we essentially have a free run on stocks for two more years.
Q: What about the Shiller price earnings ratio?
A: Currently, it’s 34.5X and you want to completely ignore anything from Shiller on stock prices. He’s been bearish on stocks for 6 years now and ignoring him is the best thing you can do for your portfolio. If you had listed to him, you would have missed the last 15,000 Dow ($INDU) points. Someday, he’ll be right, but it may be when the market goes from 50,000 to 40,000, so again, I haven't found the Shiller price earnings ratio to be useful. It’s one of those academic things that looks great on paper but is terrible in practice.
Q: Do you see any opportunity in China financials with the change of administration, like the (CHIX)?
A: I always avoid financials in China because everyone knows they have massive, defaulted loans on their books that the government refuses to force them to recognize like we do here. So, it’s one of those things where they look good on paper, but you dig deeper and find out why they’re really so cheap. Better to go with the big online companies like Baidu (BIDU) and Alibaba (BABA).
Q: Is it too late to enter copper?
A: No, the high in the last cycle for Freeport McMoRan (FCX) was $50 dollars and I think we’re only in the mid $ ’20s now, so you could get another double. Remember, these commodity stocks have discounted recovery that hasn’t even started yet. Once you do get an actual recovery, you could get another enormous move and that's what could take the Dow to 120,000.
Q: Do you see the FANGs coming back to life with the earnings results?
A: I think it'll take more than just Netflix to do that. By the way, Netflix (NFLX) is starting to look like the Tesla of the media industry, so I’d get into Netflix on the next dip. You could get a surprise, out-of-nowhere double out of that anytime. But yes, FANGs will come to life. They've been in a correction for five months now, and we’ll see—it may be the end of the pandemic that causes these stocks to really take off. So that's why I'm running the barbell portfolio and buying the FANGs on weakness.
Q: Are you recommending LEAPS on gold (GLD) and silver (SLV)?
A: Absolutely yes, go out two years with your maturity, you might buy 120% out of the money. That's where you get your leverage on the LEAPS. Something like a (GLD) January 2023 $210-$220 in-the-money vertical bull call spread and generate a 500% profit by expiration.
Q: Do you foresee a cool off for semiconductors ($SOX) even though there's been recent news of shortages?
A: No, not really. There are so many people trying to get into these it’s incredible. And again, we may get a time correction where we sideline at the top and then break out again to the upside. This is classic in liquidity-driven markets, which is what we have in spades right now. Thanks to 5G, the number of chips in your everyday devices is about to increase tenfold, and it takes at least two years to build a new chip factory. So, keep buying (NVDA), (MU), and (AMD) on dips.
Q: Where are the best LEAPS prospects (Long Term Equity Participation Securities)?
A: That would have to be in technology—that's where the earnings growth is. If you go 20% out of the money on just about any big tech LEAPs two years out, to 2023 those will be worth 500% more at expiration.
Q: What about SPACs (Special Purpose Acquisition Company) now, as we’re getting up to five new SPACs a day?
A: My belief is that a SPAC is a vehicle that allows a manager to take out a 20% a year management fee instead of only 1%. And it's another aspect of the current mania we’re in that a lot of these SPACs are doubling on the first day—especially the electric vehicle-related SPACs. Also, a lot of these SPACs will never invest in anything, but just take the money and give it back to you in two years with no return when they can't find any good investments…. If you’re lucky. There's not a lot of bargains to be found out there by anyone, including SPAC managers.
Q: Does natural gas (UNG) fall into the same “avoid energy” narrative as oil?
A: Absolutely, yes. The only benefit of natural gas is it produces 50% less carbon dioxide than oil. However, you can't get gas without also getting oil (USO), as the two come out of the pipe at the same time; so I would avoid natural gas also. Gas and oil are also about to lose a large chunk, if not all, of their tax incentives, like the oil depletion allowance, which has basically allowed the entire oil industry to operate tax-free since the 1930s.
Q: What about hydrogen cars?
A: I don't really believe in the technology myself, and when you burn hydrogen, that also produces CO2. The problem with hydrogen is that it’s not a scalable technology. It’s like gasoline—you have to build stations all over the US to fuel the cars. Of course, it produces far less carbon than gas or natural gas, but it is hard to compete against electric power, which is scalable and there's already a massive electric grid in place.
Q: If you inherited $4 million today, would you cost average into (QQQ), (IWM), or (SPY)?
A: I would go into the ProShares Ultra Technology ETF (ROM), which is double the (QQQ); and if you really want to be conservative, put half your money into (QQQ) or (ROM), and then half into Berkshire Hathaway (BRK/A), which is basically a call option on the industrial and recovery economy. I know plenty of smart people who are doing exactly that.
Q: Is it weird to see oil, as well as green energy stocks, moving up?
A: No, that's actually how it works. The higher oil and gas prices go, the more economical it is to switch over to green energy. So, they always move in sync with each other.
Q: I heard rumors that Amazon (AMZN) is likely to raise Prime’s annual fee by $10-20 a year in 2021. Will that be a catalyst for the stock to go higher?
A: Yes. For every $10 dollars per person in Prime revenue, Amazon makes $2 billion more in net profit. I would say that's a very strong argument for the stock going up and maybe what breaks it out of its current 6-month range. By the way, Amazon is wildly undervalued, and my long-term target is $5,000.
Q: Do you think that the spike in Apple (AAPL) MacBook purchases means that computers will overtake iPhones as the revenue driver for Apple in 2021, or is the phone business too big?
A: The phone business is too big, and 5G will cause iPhone sales to grow exponentially. Remember, the iPhones themselves are getting better. I just bought the 12G Pro, and the performance over the old phone is incredible. So yeah, iPhones get bigger and better, while laptops only grow to the extent that people need an actual laptop to work on in a fixed office. Is that a supercomputer in your pocket, or are you just glad to see me?
Q: Share buybacks dried up because of revenue headwinds; do you think they will come back in a massive wave, giving more life to equities?
A: Absolutely, yes. Banks, which have been banned from buybacks for the past year, are about to go back into the share buyback business. Netflix has also announced that they will go buy their shares for the first time in 10 years, and of course, Apple is still plodding away with about $100 or $200 million a year in share buybacks, so all of that accelerates. The only ones you won't see doing buybacks are airlines and Boeing (BA) because they have such a mountain of debt to crawl out from before they can get back into aggressive buybacks.
Q: Interest rates are at historic lows; the smartest thing we can do is act big.
A: That’s absolutely right; you want to go big now when we’re all suffering so we can go small later and run a balanced budget or even pay down national debt if the economy grows strong enough. The last person to do that was Bill Clinton, who paid down national debt in small quantities in ‘98 and ‘99.
Q: What do you think about General Motors (GM)?
A: They really seem to be making a big effort to get into electric cars. They said they're going to bring out 25 new electric car models by 2025, and the problem is that GM is your classic “hour late, dollar short” company; always behind the curve because they have this immense bureaucracy which operates as if it is stuck in a barrel of molasses. I don’t see them ever competing against Tesla (TSLA) because the whole business model there seems like it’s stuck in molasses, whereas Tesla is moving forward with new technology at warp speed. I think when Tesla brings out the solid-state battery, which could be in two years, they essentially wipe out the entire global car industry, and everybody will have to either make Tesla cars under license from Tesla—which they said they are happy to do—or go out of business. Having said that, you could get another double in (GM) before everyone figures out what the game is.
Q: Will you update the long-term portfolio?
A: Yes, I promise to update it next week, as long as you promise me that there won’t be another insurrection next week. It’s strictly a time issue. After last year being the most exhausting year in history, this year is proving to be even more exhausting!
Q: Do you see a February pullback?
A: Either a small pullback or a time correction sideways.
Q: Do you think the Zoom (ZM) selloff will continue, or is it done now that the pandemic is hopefully ending?
A: It’s natural for a tech stock to give up one third after a 10X move. It might sell off a little bit more, but like it or not, Zoom is here to stay; it’s now a permanent part of our lives. They’re trying to grow their business as fast as they can, they’re hiring like crazy, so they’re going to be a big factor in our lives. The stock will eventually reflect that.
Good Luck and Stay Healthy.
CEO & Publisher
The Diary of a Mad Hedge Fund Trader
Global Market Comments
May 11, 2020
(MARKET OUTLOOK FOR THE WEEK AHEAD, or THE NEXT GOLDEN AGE HAS ALREADY STARTED)
(TLT), (TBT), (SPY), (INDU), (VIX),
(DAL), (BRK/A), (LUV), (AA), (UAL)
I always get my best ideas when hiking up a steep mountain carrying a heavy backpack.
Yesterday, I was just passing through the 9,000-foot level on the Tahoe Rim Trail when suddenly, the fog lifted and the skies cleared. I was hit with an epiphany.
It was my “AHA” moment.
The next American Golden Age, the next Roaring Twenties, started on March 23.
However, you have to dive deep into investor psychology to reach that astonishing conclusion.
The conundrum of the day is why stocks are trading at a plus 30X multiple two months into a Great Depression. The economic data has been so horrific that the mainstream news has been reporting them.
Some 30 million unemployed on the way to 51 million? Those are Fed numbers, not mine (click here for the link ). Over 52% of small businesses going bankrupt in the next six months? A GDP that is shrinking at an amazing -40% annualized rate?
Yet, we have a Dow Average that has risen a breathtaking 38% in six weeks. The market has essentially dropped 38% and risen 38% over three months, with the Volatility Index (VIX) making a brief visit to the $80 handle.
To understand these massive contradictions, you have to understand what investors think they are buying. They are not hoovering up stocks that are cheap, offer value, or at the bottom of an economic cycle.
Instead, they are investing in a hope, a vision, an expectation that the coming decade will bring a major economic boom. Yes, they are buying my coming American Golden Age.
Only 10% of the value of a stock is reflected in current year earnings, according to Dr. Jeremy Siegal at the Wharton School of Economics (click here to go to the site). The other 90% is in the following nine years. Investors have written off this year’s earnings and are paying up for the following nine.
Long term followers of this newsletter are well aware of my approaching forecast of the next Roaring Twenties (click here for the link).
Except that this time we have a catapult, the pump-priming effects of the pandemic. The government has stepped in with $14 trillion worth of fiscal and monetary stimulus. Creative destruction is taking place at an exponential rate. Companies have to become hyper-efficient overnight or die.
It’s not rocket science. More than 85 million millennials are aging into their peak spending years, buying homes, cars, and all the luxuries of life. Every time this has happened for the past century, US economic growth leaped to 4%.
It happened in the 1920s, the 1960s, the 1990s, and is about to take place in the 2020s. And with each pop in growth, the stock market rises about 400%. Look at your long-term charts and you’ll see I’m dead right.
That takes us from the March 23 Dow Average low at 18,000 up to 72,000 by 2030, except that it’s a low number. Throw in the hyper-acceleration of innovation by the technology and biotech sectors, a Dow 120,000 is within reach.
You may recall that number from my marketing pitches, except that this time it’s happening. In a decade you are going to look like an absolute genius by following the recommendation of the Mad Hedge Fund Trader.
It also means that we may not see market corrections of any more than 10% this year. That would take us down to a Dow Average of 22,500, and an (SPX) of 2,600 in the coming months. That’s where you should jump in and buy with both hands. The only way I would be wrong is if the US epidemic explodes to unimaginable levels, which is not impossible.
Last week, U-6 unemployment rates exploding to a stratospheric 22.8%. The rate was far higher among high school graduates, but only 8% for college grads. Some 20.2 million lost jobs, ten times the previous record, and more than seen during the Great Depression. The BLS (click here) said the true figure was probably 5% higher due to counting anomalies and a huge backlog of data. And this is just the beginning. The good news is that next month, only 10 million jobs will be lost.
NASDAQ (QQQ) turned positive for 2020, and the followers who piled into tech LEAPS at the March bottom are eternally grateful. Tech and biotech are the only places to be. Everywhere else is a waste of time and money. The entire country is turning into a tech economy or going out of business. Buy tech on dips.
Warren Buffet sold all his airline shares, taking a major loss, including Delta (DAL), Southwest (LUV), American (AA) and United (UAL). The Fed’s $50 billion airline bailout blocked him from making a real killing. His Berkshire Hathaway (BRK/A) (click here) owned close to 10% of all of them. The complete collapse of tourism and business travel are the issues. He sees no recovery in the foreseeable future. They don’t call him the “Oracle of Omaha” for nothing.
US Auto Sales are down a mind-blowing -48% in April, the worst on record. Only 8.6 million cars were sold in the US against last year’s annual rate of 17 million. Toyota and Honda saw the biggest falls as their ships can’t unload due to lack of storage space.
The US Treasury will borrow $3 Trillion this Quarter to fund the massive bailout programs. Announced programs amount to 20 times the $789 billion 2009 rescue package, which Republicans opposed. I’m increasing my bond shorts. Sell short (TLT) again, even if we don’t get a decent rally. Oh, and Trump is threatening a default too. He doesn’t see the connection.
Bonds crashed on massive issuance, with the Treasury announcing a record 20-year bond floatation. Yields hit a one-month high. With the (TLT) down $18 from its recent high, I am taking profits on my bond shorts. I’ll be selling the next rally….again. This could be my core trade for the next decade.
Consumer Debt soared to $14.3 trillion in Q1, a new all-time high. A lot of people are living on their credit cards right now.
Trump threatens to cancel China trade deal, blaming them for Covid-19, sending stocks into a 400-point dive. The last time he did this, shares plunged 20%. It’s all part of an effort to divert attention from the administration’s disastrous handling of the pandemic. America’s Corona deaths are now 20 times China’s, and they are still an emerging nation. Just what we needed, a renewed trade war on top of a pandemic-caused Great Depression, as if the market needed more uncertainty. Sell rallies in the (SPY)
When we come out on the other side of this, we will be perfectly poised to launch into my new American Golden Age, or the next Roaring Twenties. With interest rates at zero, oil at $0 a barrel, and many stocks down by three quarters, there will be no reason not to. The Dow Average will rise by 400% or more in the coming decade.
My Global Trading Dispatch performance had one of the best weeks in years again, up a gob-smacking +6.46%. We are now only 0.65% short of a new all-time high.
My aggressive short bond positions came in big time on the back of theannounced $3 trillion in new debt issuance in Q2. Short bonds are far and away the better quality trade of buying stocks at these elevated levels.
May is up +6.46%, taking my 2020 YTD return up to 2.59%. That compares to a loss for the Dow Average of -13.43% from the February top. My trailing one-year return exploded to 43.77%. My ten-year average annualized profit returned to +34.14%.
This week, Q1 earnings reports continue, and so far, they are coming in much worse than the most dire forecasts. We also get the monthly payroll data, which should be heart-stopping to say the list.
The only numbers that count for the market are the number of US Coronavirus cases and deaths, which you can find here.
On Monday, May 11 at 10:00 AM, the April US Inflation Expectations are out. Caesar’s Entertainment (CZR) and Marriot International (MAR) report earnings.
On Tuesday, May 12 at 5:00 PM, the NFIB Small Business Optimism Index for April is released. Toyota Motors (TM) reports earnings.
On Wednesday, May 13 at 9:30 AM, the ever fascinating weekly Cushing Crude Oil Stocks is announced. Cisco Systems (CSCO) reports earnings.
On Thursday, May 14 at 8:30 AM, we get another blockbuster Weekly Jobless Claims. Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) reports earnings.
On Friday, May 15 at 7:30, AM the Empire State Manufacturing Index is published. The Baker Hughes Rig Count follows at 2:00 PM.
As for me, I’ll continue my solo circumlocution of the 160 mile Tahoe Rim Trail every afternoon in ten-mile segments. Why solo? Do you know anyone else who wants to hike 160 miles at 10,000 feet in two weeks?
CEO & Publisher
The Diary of a Mad Hedge Fund Trader
We Had a 3 Month Warning of the Pandemic and Did Nothing
Global Market Comments
April 28, 2020
(EIGHT "REOPENING" STOCKS TO BUY AT THE MARKET BOTTOM)
(UAL), (DAL), (UNP), (CSX), (WYNN), (MGM), (BRK/A), (BA)
With the massive technology rally off the March 23 market bottom, the risk/reward for entering new trades has dramatically shifted.
Back then. I was begging followers to load the boat with the best big tech and biotech & healthcare names with call options and two-year LEAPS (Long Term Equity Participation Securities).
One reader told me he bought Humana (HUM) call options for 70 cents and sold them for a breathtaking $30 for a profit of 4,280%! FedEx showed up with a bottle of single malt Glenfiddich Scotch whiskey the next day.
The times have changed. Many tech stocks are now only a few dollars short of new all-time highs, like Microsoft (MSFT) and Apple (AAPL), or are at all tie highs, such as Amazon (AMZN), Teledoc (TDOC), and Zoom (ZM).
What a difference 6,000 Dow points make!
As a result, it is far more interesting now to pick up stocks that currently look like potential chapter 11 candidates, but will likely prosper once the American economy starts to reopen. Call it my “Reopening Portfolio.”
You can buy any of the stocks below outright, sit on them, and probably reap a double over the next two years. However, if you are a much more aggressive kind of trader like me, then you might consider LEAPS, where 500%-%1,000% profits are possible.
The advantage of a stock or a two-year LEAPS is that if we get a second Coronavirus wave in the fall, which is highly likely, you can outlast any short term pain and still come out a huge winner.
Some of these names we sold short at the market top and made a killing. It is now time to flip to the other side.
I am often asked how professional hedge fund traders invest their personal money. They all do the exact same thing. They wait for a market crash like we are seeing now and buy the longest-term LEAPS (Long Term Equity Participation Securities) possible for their favorite names.
The reasons are very simple. The risk on LEAPS is limited. You can’t lose any more than you put in. At the same time, they permit enormous amounts of leverage.
Two years out, the longest maturity available for most LEAPS, allow plenty of time for the world and the markets to get back on an even keel. Recessions, pandemics, hurricanes, oil shocks, interest rate spikes, and political instability all go away within two years and pave the way for dramatic stock market recoveries.
You just put them away and forget about them. Wake me up when it is 2022.
I put together this portfolio using the following parameters. I set the strike prices just short of the all-time highs set two weeks ago. I went for the maximum maturity. I used today’s prices. And of course, I picked the names that have the best long-term outlooks.
You should only buy LEAPS of the best quality companies with the rosiest growth prospects and rock-solid balance sheets to be certain they will still be around in two years. I’m talking about picking up Cadillacs, Rolls Royces, and even Ferraris at fire-sale prices. Don’t waste your money on speculative low-quality stocks that may never come back.
If you buy LEAPS at these prices and the stocks all go to new highs, then you should earn an average 131.8% profit from an average stock price increase of only 17.6%.
That is a staggering return 7.7 times greater than the underlying stock gain. And let’s face it. None of the companies below are going to zero, ever. Now you know why hedge fund traders only employ this strategy.
There is a smarter way to execute this portfolio. Put in throw away crash bids at levels so low they will only get executed on the next cataclysmic 1,000-point down day in the Dow Average.
You can play around with the strike prices all you want. Going farther out of the money increases your returns, but raises your risk as well. Going closer to the money reduces risk and returns, but the gains are still a multiple of the underlying stock.
Buying when everyone else is throwing up on their shoes is always the best policy. That way, your return will rise to ten times the move in the underlying stock.
If you are unable or unwilling to trade options, then you will do well buying the underlying shares outright.
United Airlines (UAL) just raised $1 billion in a new equity issue to tide it over hard times. That is just a drop in the bucket for what it needs. It’s hard to imagine the company coming through the crisis without any government involvement. The most likely is for the feds to offer a big chunk of cash in exchange for a minority ownership. Around 35% might work, which is the portion the US Treasury of General Motors (GM) during the 2008-09 crash. Still, if you’re looking for a double in the shares, that just water off a duck’s back.
LEAPS: the January 21 2022 $45-$50 vertical bull call spread at a price of 83 cents delivers a 525% gain with the stock at $50, up 94.5% from the current level.
Delta Airlines (DAL) is Warren Buffet’s favorite airline, although he has been selling lately. All of the arguments above apply for this best run of US Airlines.
LEAPS: January 21 2022 $40-$45 vertical bull call spread at a price of 83 cents delivers a 502% gain with the stock at $45, up 98.8% from the current level.
MGM Resorts (MGM)
Yes, Las Vegas is reopening soon, but it certainly won’t resemble the old Vegas. (MGM) is the dominant hotel owner of the strip, owning the Bellagio, Mandalay Bay, Aria Resort, and MGM Grand hotels. It also has a China presence.
LEAPS: the January 21 2022 $25-$30 vertical bull call spread at 75 cents delivers 566% gain with the stock at $30, up 95.6% from the current level.
Wynn Hotels (WYNN)
We killed it on the short side with (WYNN), capturing an eye-popping 90% decline. (WYNN) is poised to lead the upturn. It has a major exposure in Macao, where China will lead any economic recovery.
LEAPS: the January 21 2022 $140-$150 vertical bull call spread at 90 cents delivers a 455% gain with the stock at $150, up 81% from the current level.
Union Pacific (UNP)
The reopening of industrial American means a resurgence of railroad traffic. These are not your father’s railroads. Over the last 30 years, they have evolved into highly efficient operators that offer the cheapest way far to over heavy good and bulk commodities, virtually turning into closet high-tech companies. (UNP) had the additional advantage in that as the country’s dominant East/West road, it stands to benefit the most from a recovery in trade with China. That is a likely outcome of any future administration.
LEAPS: the January 21 2022 $180-$185 vertical bull call spread at $1.40 delivers a 257% gain with the stock at $185, up 15.00% from the current level.
CSX Corp. (CSX)
Same arguments here, except that (CSX) wins on North/South trade, especially with Mexico. With a NAFTA 2 new trade agreement in place, this company benefits from an extra turbocharger.
LEAPS: the January 21 2022 $75.00-$77.50 bull call spread at 84 cents delivers a 495% gain with the stock at $77.50, up 16.27% from the current level.
Berkshire Hathaway (BRK/A)
Yes, they make more than sheets these days. Warren Buffet’s flagship holding company is the poster bot for industrial American. The shares are high priced, but after this 32% pullback, you may finally have a chance to get in.
LEAPS: the June 17 2022 $225-$230 vertical bull call spread at $2.61 delivers a 91.5% gain with the stock at $230, up 22.7% from the current level.
Boeing Co. (BA)
This has been the worst falling knife situation in the market for the last two years, cratering from $450 to $85, or down 81%. The decertification of the 737 MAX started the rot, and the grounding of its major airline customers was the coup de grace. This is another company that may require a government bailout and stock ownership, as it is a strategic national value. You may have to wait until the next administration as its Washington State location is currently politically incorrect.
LEAPS: the June 17 2022 $185-$190 bull call spread at $1.25 delivers a 400% gain with the stock at $190, up 47.8% from the current level.
Buy all eight of these and if they all work, your average return will be 411.4%.
Time to Swing the Ax
Global Market Comments
March 24, 2020
(TEN SIGNS THE MARKET IS BOTTOMING),
(FXI), (BRK/A), (BA), (DAL), (SPX),
(INDU), (UUP), (VIX), (VXX), (AAPL)
I spent the morning calling some big hedge fund friends asking what they are looking for to indicate the market may be bottoming. I’ll give you a warning right now. None of the traditional fundamental or technical measures have any validity in this market.
Markets will need to see at least one, and maybe all of these before they launch into a sustainable recovery. The good news is that several have already happened and are flashing green.
1) Watch New Corona Cases in China
The pandemic started in China and it will end in China (FXI). The president of China, Xi Jinping, has already announced that the epidemic is over and that the country is returning to normal. The country is donating thousands of respirators and millions of masks to Europe and poor countries all over the world. China was able to enforce a quarantine far more severe than possible in the West, such as using the army to surround 60 million people for a month. So, the results in the Middle Kingdom may not be immediately transferable to the US.
If we do get an actual fall in the number of cases in China, that could indicate the end is near. To keep track, click here.
2) Watch Corona Cases in Italy
Italy quarantined two weeks before California so we should get an earlier answer there. The numbers are reliable, but we don’t know the true extent of their quarantine. After all, this is Italy. Also, Italy has a much older population than the US (that Mediterranean diet keeps Italians alive forever), so they will naturally suffer a higher death rate. However, a decline in cases there will be proof that a western-style shelter-in-place order will work. To keep track, click here.
3) Watch Corona Cases in California
The Golden State was the first to quarantine ten days ago, so it will be the first American state to see cases top out. On Monday, we were at 1,733 cases and 27 deaths, or one in 1.5 million. However, it is a partial quarantine at best, with maybe half of the 20 million workforce staying home. When our cases top out, which should be the week of April 13, it could be an indication that the epidemic is flagging. To keep track, click here.
4) Watch Washington
Passage of a Corona Economic Recovery Bill could take place as early as Friday and could be worth $2 trillion. Add in the massive stimulus provided by the Federal Reserve, a large multiple of the 2008-2009 efforts, and $10 trillion is about to hit the economy. Warning: don’t be short an economy that is about to be hit with $10 trillion worth of stimulus.
5) Watch the Technicals.
Yes, technicals may be worthless now but someday in the future, they won’t be. The stock market has traded 20% below the 200-day moving average only four times in the last century. The Dow Average (INDU) was 32% below the 200-day moving average at the Monday low. The next rip-your-face off short-covering rally is imminent and may initially target that down 20% level at $21,496, or 18% above the Monday low.
6) Watch for the Big Buy
Value players are back in the market for the first time in six years, the last time the S&P 500 (SPX) traded at a discount to its historical 15.5X earnings multiple and are circling targets like hungry sharks. Watch for Warren Buffet of Berkshire Hathaway (BRK/A) to buy a large part of a trophy property, like a major bank or airline. He’s already stepped up his ownership in Delta Airlines (DAL). I’m sure he’s going over the books of Boeing (BA). Warren might even buy back his own stock at a discount to net asset value, down 31.4% in a month. Any move by Warren will signal confidence to the rest of the markets.
7) Watch the US Dollar
With US overnight interest rates having crashed by 1.5% in recent weeks, the US dollar (UUP) should be the weakest currency in the world. The greenback overnight became a zero-yielding currency. Instead, it has been the strongest, rocketing on a gigantic global flight to safety bid. When the foreign exchange rates return to rationality, the buck should weaken, as it has already started to do after last week’s super spike. A weak dollar will be good for American companies and their stocks.
8) Watch the (VIX)
We now know that the Volatility Index (VIX), (VXX) was artificially boosted last week by hundreds of short players covering positions with gigantic losses and going bust. Now that this is washed out, I expect volatility to decline for the rest of 2020. It has already fallen from $80 to $49 in days. This is a precursor to a strong stock market.
9) Watch the Absolute Value of the Market
There could be a magic number beyond which prices can’t fall anymore. That could be yesterday’s 18,000, 17,000, or 15,000. Some 80% of all US stocks are owned by long term holders who never sell, like pension funds, corporate crossholdings, or individuals who have owned them for decades and don’t want to pay the capital gains tax. When the ownership of that 20% is shifted to the 80%, the market runs out of sellers and stocks can’t fall anymore. That may have already happened. Similarly, a final capitulation selloff of market leaders, like Apple (AAPL) may also be a sign that the bear market is ending. (AAPL) is off 34.40% since February.
10) Watch John Thomas
I am watching all of the above 24/7. So rather than chase down all these data points every day, just watch for my next trade alert. I am confined to my home office for the duration, probably for months, so I have nothing else to do. No trips to Switzerland, the Taj Mahal, or the Great Pyramids of Egypt for me this year. It will just be nose to the grindstone.
Stay Healthy and we’ll back a killing on the back nine.
I asked Anthony Scaramucci, CEO and founder of Skybridge Capital, why we should attend his upcoming SALT conference point-blank.
“It’s going to be exciting,” he said.
“How exciting?” I enquired.
“I’ve invited former White House chief of staff General John F. Kelley to be my keynote speaker.” General Kelley, an old friend from my Marine Corps days, fired Anthony after only eight days on the job as Donald Trump’s Press Secretary.
“That’s pretty exciting,” I responded. “Humble too.”
This was the answer that convinced me to attend the May 7-10 SkyBridge Alternative asset management conference (SALT) at the Las Vegas Bellagio Hotel. You all know the Bellagio. That is the casino that was robbed in the iconic movie Oceans 11.
That is not all Scaramucci had to offer about the upcoming event, known to his friends since his college days as “The Mooch”.
Among the other headline, speakers are former UN ambassador Nikki Haley, AOL Time Warner founder Steve Case, artificial intelligence guru Dr. Kai-fu Lee who I have written about earlier, and Carlyle Group co-founder David Rubenstein.
SALT will give seasoned investors to update themselves on the hundreds of alternative investment strategies now in play in the market, raise or allocate money, meet fascinating people, and just plain have fun. Some SkyBridge services accept client investments as little as $25,000. Their end of conference party is legendary.
SkyBridge is led by Co-Managing Partners Anthony Scaramucci and Raymond Nolte. Ray serves as the Firm’s Chief Investment Officer and Chairman of the Portfolio Allocation and Manager Selection Committees. Anthony focuses on strategic planning and marketing efforts.
While I had “The Mooch” on the phone, I managed to get him to give me his 30,000-foot view of the seminal events affecting markets today.
The proliferation of exchange-traded funds and algorithms will end in tears. There are now more listed ETFs than listed stocks, over 3,500.
The normalizing of interest rates is unsustainable, which have been artificially low for ten years now. One rise too many and it will crash the market. The next quarter-point rise could be the stick that breaks the camel’s back (an appropriate metaphor for a desert investment conference).
However, rising rates are good for hedge funds as they present more trading opportunities and openings for relative outperformance, or “alpha.”
There has been a wholesale retreat of investment capital from the markets, at least $300 billion in recent years. The end result will be much higher volatility when markets fall as we all saw in the Q4 meltdown until this structural weakness has been obscured by ultra-low interest rates. The good news is that banks are now so overcapitalized that they will not be at risk during the next financial crisis.
Ever the contrarian and iconoclast, Scaramucci currently has no positions in technology stocks. He believes the sector has run too far too fast after its meteoric 2 ½ year outperformance and is overdue for a rest. Earnings need to catch up with prices and multiples.
What is Anthony’s favorite must-buy stock today? Berkshire Hathaway (BRK/A), run by Oracle of Omaha Warren Buffet, is almost a guarantee to outperform the market. Scaramucci has owned the shares in one form or another for over 25 years.
While emerging markets (EEM) are currently the flavor of the day, Anthony won’t touch them either. The accounting standards and lack of rule of law are way too lax for his own high investment standards.
SkyBridge is avoiding the 220 IPOs this year which could total $700 billion. Many of these are overhyped with unproven business models and inexperienced management. The $100 billion in cash they actually take out of the market won’t be enough to crash it.
SkyBridge Capital is a global alternative investment firm with $9.2 billion in assets under management or advisement (as of January 31, 2019). The firm offers hedge fund investing solutions that address a wide range of market participants from individual investors to large institutions.
SkyBridge takes a high-conviction approach to alpha generation expressed through a thematic and opportunistic investment style. The firm manages multi-strategy funds of hedge funds and customized separate account portfolios, and provides hedge fund advisory services. SkyBridge also produces a large annual conference in the U.S. and Asia known as the SkyBridge Alternatives Conference (SALT).
Finally, I asked Anthony, if he were king of the world what change would he make to the US today? “If I could wave a magic wand, I would reduce partisanship,” he replied. “It prevents us from being our best.” Will he ever go back into politics again? “Never say never,” he shot back wistfully.
With that, I promised to give him a hug the next time I see him in Vegas which I have been visiting myself since 1955 during the rat pack days.
To learn more about SkyBridge, please visit their website here.
To obtain details about the upcoming May 7-10 SALT conference at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas, please click here. Better get a move on. Their discount pricing for the event ends on March 15. Institutional Investors are invited free of charge.
Global Market Comments
May 2, 2019
(HEADED FOR THE LAS VEGAS SKYBRIDGE SALT CONFERENCE),
(NOTICE TO MILITARY SUBSCRIBERS),