November 26, 2019

Global Market Comments
November 26, 2019
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:

($INDU), (EK), (S), (BS), (CVX), (DD), (MMM),
 (FBHS), (MGDDY), (FL), (GE), (TSLA), (GM)

What Happened to the Dow?

When I joined Morgan Stanley some 35 years ago, one of the grizzled old veterans took me aside and gave me a piece of sage advice.

“Never buy a Dow stock”, he said. “They are a guarantee of failure.”

That was quite a bold statement, given that at the time, the closely watched index of 30 stocks included such high-flying darlings as Eastman Kodak (EK), Sears Roebuck & Company (S), and Bethlehem Steel (BS). It turned out to be excellent advice.

Only ten of the Dow stocks of 1983 are still in the index (see tables below), and almost all of the survivors changed names. Standard oil of California became Chevron (CVX), E.I du Pont de Nemours & Company became DowDuPont, Inc. (DD), and Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing became 3M (MMM).

Almost all of the rest went out of business, like Union Carbide Corporation (the Bhopal disaster) and Johns-Manville (asbestos products), or were taken over. A small fragment of the old E.W. Woolworth is known as Foot Locker (FL) today.

Charles Dow created his namesake average on May 26, 1896, consisting of 12 names. Almost all were gigantic trusts and monopolies that were broken up only a few years later by the Sherman Antitrust Act.

In many ways, the index has evolved to reflect the maturing of the US economy, from an 18th century British agricultural colony to the manufacturing powerhouse of the 20th century, to the technology and services-driven economy of today.

Of the original Dow stocks, only one, US Leather, vanished without a trace. It was the victim of the leap from horses to automobile transportation and the internal combustion engine. United States Rubber is now part of France’s Michelin Group (MGDDY).

American Tobacco reinvented itself as Fortune Brands (FBHS) to ditch the unpopular “tobacco” word. National Lead moved into paints with the Dutch Boy brand. It sold off that division when the prospects for leaded paints dimmed in 1970 (they cause mental illness in children).

What was the longest lived of the original 1896 Dow stocks? General Electric (GE), originally founded by light bulb inventor Thomas Edison. It went down in flames thanks to poor management and was delisted in 2018. It was a 122-year run. Today, it is one of the great turnaround challenges facing American Industry.

Which company is the American Leather of today? My bet is that it’s General Motors (GM), which is greatly lagging behind Tesla (TSLA) in the development of electric cars (90% market share versus 5%). With a product development cycle of five years, it simply lacks the DNA to compete in the technology age.

What will be the largest Dow stock in a decade? Regular readers already know the answer.



Sears: Not the Path to Wealth and Riches


Me Not Buying Dow Stocks in 1983

November 4, 2019

Global Market Comments
November 4, 2019
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:

(GM), (BA), (MSFT), (SPY), (TLT), (TSLA), (AMZN)

November 1, 2019

Global Market Comments
November 1, 2019
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:

(SQ), (CCI), (SPG), (PGE), (BA), (MSFT), (GOOGL), (FB), (AAPL), (IBB), (XLV), (USO), (GM), (VNQ)

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 21, 2019

Global Market Comments
October 21, 2019
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:

(SPY), (TLT), (WMT), (GM), (FXI), (NFLX)

The Market Outlook for the Week Ahead, or The Fork in the Road

I usually don’t pay attention to technical analysis. It is the last refuge of the inexperienced and the uneducated.

However, I don’t ignore it either.

And that sets of a quandary for investors today. For on the one hand, the economic data couldn’t be worse, pointing to a certain trade war-induced recession sometime in 2020.

On the other hand, look at the chart for the S&P 500 (SPY) below and you can see that stocks have been in a clear uptrend for 2 ½ months. Another few weeks, and we might see a breakout to new all-time highs. Or, we might get a false breakout driven by algorithms only and then collapse to new 2019 lows.

Welcome to my world.

While my recent track record may say otherwise, I actually don’t know what markets are going to do every day of every week. And when I don’t know what to do, I do nothing. That’s especially easy to do now with my Mad Hedge Market Timing Index at a dead on neutral position of 50.

Of course, the elevated level of share prices could be the result of ultra-low interest rates and a complete lack of viable alternatives. At 11.9% dividend yield, US stock are among the highest yielding financial instruments in the world. At this year’s 15% capital gain and they are especially compelling, particularly to the many foreigners earning negative interest rates.

In the meantime, I wait for the markets to tell me what to do. I’m basically looking for a higher high to sell into, or a lower low to buy.

The IMF Downgraded Global Growth, from 3.2% to 3% and trade gets the blame. At 2.5% growth, many major economies will be in recessions. Risks are to the downside. More than 90% of the Global Economy is Slowing. It’s the worst forecast since 2008.

Bank earnings were mixed, with JP Morgan taking the lead with record revenues and credit card revenues the big winners. Goldman Sachs (GS) looks awful due to failing mergers and acquisitions. Wells Fargo is worse. Trading revenues are the drag.

Retail Sales dove off a surprising 0.3% in September when a 0.3% jump was expected. The individual shopper has been the sole support of the economy this year and when they bail the stock market will hate it.

A Brexit deal is finally on the table, but will Parliament vote for it? I doubt it. If they do, it will be a huge “RISK ON” development. This just could be like Trump announcing another China trade deal. If Brexit lives, Scotland will almost certainly vote to leave the United Kingdom and join Europe.

US Housing Starts fell in September from a 12-year high, down 9.4% to 1.256 million units. The mid-Atlantic gets the blame. Land and labor shortages are a problem.

The GM Strike (GM) is settled and the union probably will vote for it. The strike has definitely been a drag on the US economy. Part of the deal involved closing three old high cost US plants. It’s tough to vote against economic reality.

China’s Economy (FXI) slowed to a 6% growth rate as the trade war drags on business there. That’s a 30-year low. Export demand for US products is plunging. Almost every economic indicator is in decline. Not only is China one of America’s largest customers, it is also Europe’s. The data definitely put the kibosh on the week’s rally.

soared on an earnings beat, soaring 9%. It looks like it is too early to write off the inventor of movie streaming. I guess a 20-year head start still counts for something. But I am staying away anyway.

I hate to be boring, but my Mad Hedge Trader Alert Service has scored yet another new all-time high. In fact, I have hit new highs almost every day for the last three months. Worse yet, my thesaurus is running out of metaphors for “new high.”

My Global Trading Dispatch reached new pinnacle of +349.64% for the past ten years and my 2019 year-to-date accelerated to +49.50%. The notoriously volatile month of October stands at a blockbuster +12.08%. My ten-year average annualized profit clawed its way up to +35.56%. If I make any more than this, no one will believe it, a frequent problem during my hedge fund days.

Some 28 out of the last 29 trade alerts have made money, a success rate of a stunning 96.55%! Under promise and over deliver, that is the business I have been in all my life. It works. This is rapidly turning into the best year of the decade for me. It is all the result of me writing three newsletters a day, and doing research for 12.

With my Mad Hedge Market Timing Index sitting around the neutral 50 level, there was very little to do this week but take profits on existing positions. Nothing like watching the money roll in. It’s like having a rich uncle write you a check once a month.

All I am left with after the October 18 option expiration is 80% cash and short positions in Wal-Mart (WMT) and the S&P 500 (SPY).

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

On Monday, October 21 at 2:00 PM, the US monthly Budget Statement for September comes out, most likely showing a horrific $200 billion deficit.

On Tuesday, October 22 at 10:00 AM, Existing Home Sales are out for September.

On Wednesday, October 23 at 10:30 AM, EIA Energy Stocks are published.

On Thursday, October 24 at 8:30 AM, US Durable Goods are out. Weekly jobless claims are out at the same time.

On Friday, October 25 at 10:00 AM, the University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment is announced. The Baker Hughes Rig Count follows at 2:00 PM.

As for me, I’ll be driving up to Lake Tahoe to start organizing my October 25-26 conference, briefly stopping at Vacaville for breakfast at Mel’s Drive In and a top up charge for my Tesla Model X to make the climb over Donner Pass. First on the list is to unload there my five cases of vintage wine so it can adjust to the altitude.

Oh, and I haven’t had time for a haircut since I left for Australia four months ago. My kids are starting to call me a hippie.

The Mad Hedge Lake Tahoe Conference begins that night. Tickets are available by clicking here.

Good luck and good trading.

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







October 18, 2019

Global Market Comments
October 18, 2019
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:

(SPX), (C), (GM), (IWM), ($RUT), (FB),
 (INTC), (AA), (BBY), (M), (RTN), (FCX), GLD)

October 16 Biweekly Strategy Webinar Q&A

Below please find subscribers’ Q&A for the Mad Hedge Fund Trader October 16 Global Strategy Webinar broadcast from Silicon Valley, CA with my guest and co-host Bill Davis of the Mad Day Trader. Keep those questions coming!

Q: How do you think the S&P 500 (SPX) will behave with the China trade negotiations going on?

A: Nobody really knows; no one has any advantage here and logic or rationality doesn’t seem to apply anymore. It suffices to say it will continue to be up and down, depending on the trade headline of the day. It’s what I call a “close your eyes and trade” market. If it’s down, buy it; if it’s, upsell it.

Q: How long can Trump keep kicking the can down the road?

A: Indefinitely, unless he wants to fold completely. It looks like he was bested in the latest round of negotiations because the Chinese agreed to buy $50 billion worth of food they were going to buy anyway in exchange for a tariff freeze. Of course, you really don’t get a trade deal unless you get a tariff roll back to where they were two years ago.

Q: Did I miss the update on the Citigroup (C) trade?

A: Yes, we came out of Citigroup a week ago for a small profit or a break-even. You should always check our website where we post our trading position sheet every day as a backstop to any trade alerts you’re getting by email. Occasionally emails just go completely missing, swallowed up by the ether. To find it go to , log in, go to My Account, Global Trading Dispatch, then Current Positions. You can also find my newly updated long-term portfolio here.

Q: How much pain will General Motors (GM) incur from this standoff, and will they ever reach a compromise?

A: Yes, the union somewhat blew it in striking GM when they had incredibly high inventories which the company is desperate to get rid of ahead of a recession. If you wonder where all those great car deals are coming from, that’s the reason. All of the car companies want to go into a recession with as little inventory as possible. It’s not just GM, it’s everybody with the same problem.

Q: When does the New Daily Position Sheet get posted?

A: About every hour after the close each day. We need time to process our trades, update all the position sheets before getting it posted.

Q: What do you think about Bitcoin?

A: We hate it and don’t want to touch it. It’s unanalyzable, and only the insiders are making money.

Q: Are you predicting a repeat of Fall 2018 going into the end of this year to close at the lows?

A: No, I’m not. A year ago, we were looking at four interest rate increases to come. This year we’re looking at 1 or 2 more interest rate cuts. It’s nowhere near the situation we saw a year ago. The most we’re going to get is a 7% selloff rather than a 20% selloff and if anything, stocks will rise into the yearend then fall.

Q: Why are we trading the Russell 200 (IWM) instead of the ($RUT) Small Cap Index? We pay less commissions to brokers.

A: There’s more liquidity in the (IWM). You have to remember that the combined buying power of the trade alert service is about $1 billion. And that’s harder to do with smaller illiquid ETFs like the ($RUT), especially the options.

Q: If this is a “Don’t fight the Fed” rally for investors, where else is there to go but stocks?

A: Nowhere. But it’s happening in the face of an oncoming recession, so it’s not exactly a great investment opportunity, just a trading one. 2009 was a great time not to fight the Fed.

Q: Do you want to buy Facebook (FB) even though there are so many threats of government scrutiny and antitrust breakups?

A: The anti-trust breakups are never going to happen; the government can’t even define what Facebook does. There may be more requirements on disclosures, which means nothing because nobody really cares about disclosures—they just click the box and agree to anything. I was actually looking at this as a buy when we had the big selloff at the end of September and instead, I bought four other Tech stocks and (FB) had moved too far when we got around to it. I think there’s upside potential for Facebook, especially if we can move out of this current range.

Q: Would you sell short European banks? It seems like they’re cutting jobs right and left.

A: I always get this question after big market meltdowns. European banks have been underpricing risks for decades and now the chickens are coming home to roost. Some of these things are down 80-90% so it’s too late to sell short. The next financial crisis is going to be in Europe, not here.

Q: Is it time to short Best Buy (BBY) due to the China deal?

A: No, like Macys (M), Best Buy is heavily dependent on imports from China, and the stock has gotten so low it’s hard to short. And the problem for the whole market in general is all the best sectors to short are already destroyed, down 80-90%. There really is nothing left to short, now that all the bad sectors have been going down for nearly two years. There has been a massive bear market in large chunks of the market which no one has really noticed. So, that might be another reason the market is going up—that we’ve run out of things to short.

Q: Do you like Intel (INTC)?

A: Yes, for the long term. Short term it still could face some headwinds from the China negotiations, where they have a huge business.

Q: Would you buy American Airlines (AA) on the return of Boeing 737 MAX to the fleet?

A: Absolutely, yes. The big American buyers of those planes are really suffering from a shortage of planes. A return of the 737 MAX to the assembly line is great news for the entire industry.

Q: Do you like Raytheon (RTN)?

A: No, Trump has been the defense industry’s best friend. If he exits in the picture, defense will get slaughtered—it will be the first on the chopping block under a future democratic administration. And, if you’re doing nothing but retreating from your allies, you don’t need weapons anyway.

Q: Will Freeport McMoRan (FCX) benefit from a trade war resolution?

A: Yes, the fact that it isn’t moving now is an indication that a trade war resolution has not been reached. (FCX) has huge exposure to traditional metal bashing industries like they still have in China.

Q: Would you go long or short gold (GLD) here?

A: No, I’m waiting for a bigger dip. If you can get in close to the 200-day moving average at $129.50, that would be the sweet spot. Longer term I still like gold and it is a great recession hedge.

Good Luck and Good Trading!

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





Yes, I Still Like Gold