September 10, 2019

Global Market Comments
September 10, 2019
Fiat Lux


Featured Trade:
(NVDA), (AMD), (ADI), (AMAT), (AVGO), (CRUS),
 (CY), (INTC), (LRCX), (MU), (TSM)

August 23, 2019

Global Market Comments
August 23, 2019
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:

(FXB), (NVDA), (MU), (LRCX), (AMD),
 (WFC), (JPM), (BIDU), (GE), (TLT), (BA)

February 22, 2019

Global Market Comments
February 22, 2019
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:

(NVDA), (MU), (AMD), (LRCX), (GLD), (FXE), (FXB), (AMZN),

February 20 Biweekly Strategy Webinar Q&A

Below please find subscribers’ Q&A for the Mad Hedge Fund Trader February 20 Global Strategy Webinar with my guest and co-host Bill Davis of the Mad Day Trader. Keep those questions coming!

Q: If there is a China trade deal, should I buy China stocks, specifically Alibaba?

A: To a large extent, both Chinese and US stocks have already fully discounted a China trade deal, so buying up here could be very risky. The administration has been letting out a leak a day to support the stock market, so I don’t think there will be much juice left when the announcement is actually made. The current high levels of US stocks make everything risky.

Q: Is it time to buy NVIDIA (NVDA)?

A: The word I’m hearing from the industry is that you don’t want to buy the semiconductor stocks until the summer when they start discounting the recovery after the next recession (which is probably a year off from this coming summer). The same is true for Micron Technology (MU), Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), and Lam Research (LRCX).

However, if you’re willing to take some heat in order to own a stock that’s going to triple over the next three years, then you should buy it now. If you’re a long-term investor, these are the entry points you die for. Looking at the charts it looks like it is ready to take off.

Q: Should I be shorting the euro (FXE), with the German economy going into recession?

A: No. We’re at a low for the euro so it’s a bad time to start a short. It’s interest rates that drive the euro more than economies. With the U.S. not raising interest rates for six months, maybe a year, and maybe forever, you probably want to be buying the currencies more than selling them down here.

Q: Would you buy the British pound (FXB) on Brexit fears?

A: I would; my theory all along has been that Brexit will fail and the pound will return to pre-Brexit levels—30% higher than where we are at now. I have always thought that the current government doesn’t believe in Brexit one iota and are therefore executing it as incompetently as possible.

They have done a wonderful job, missing one deadline after the next. In the end, Britain will hold another election and vote to stay in Europe. This will be hugely positive for Europe and would end the recession there.

Q: What do we need to do for the market to retest the highs?

A: China trade deal would do it in a heartbeat. If this happens, we will get the 5% move to the upside initially. Then we’re looking at a double top risk for the entire 10-year bull market. That’s when the short players will start to come in big time. You’d be insane to new positions in stocks here. There is an easy 4,500 Dow points to the downside, and maybe more.

Q: Do you think earnings growth will come in at 5%, or are they looking to be zero or negative?

A: Zero is looking pretty good. We know companies like to guide conservative then surprise to the upside; however, with Europe and China slowing down dramatically, that could very well drag the U.S. into recession and our earnings growth into negative numbers. The capital investment figures have been falling for three months now. US Durable Goods fell by 1.2% in January.

This explains why companies have no faith in the American economy for the rest of this year. This was a big reason why Amazon (AMZN) abandoned their New York headquarters plans. They see the economic data before we do and don’t want to expand going into a recession.

Q: When will rising government debt start to hurt the economy?

A: It already is. Foreign investors have been pulling their bids for fear of a falling US dollar. They have also become big buyers of gold (GLD) in order to avoid anything American, so we have a new bull market there. In the end, the biggest hit is with business confidence.

Nothing good ever comes from exploding US deficits and companies are not inclined to invest going into that. That is a major factor behind the sudden deterioration in virtually all data points over the past month.

Good Luck and Good Trading
John Thomas
CEO & Publisher
The Diary of a Mad Hedge Fund Trader

January 28, 2019

Mad Hedge Technology Letter
January 28, 2019
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:

(XLNX), (LRCX), (AMD), (TXN), (NVDA), (INTC), (SOXX), (SMH), (MU), (QQQ)

January 28, 2019

Global Market Comments
January 28, 2019
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:
(SPY), (TLT), (FXE), (MSFT), (AAPL),
 (PG), (F), (LRCX), (AMD), (XLNX)

The Market Outlook for the Week Ahead, or It’s Finally Over

Last week, I was too busy to cook dinner for my brood, so I ordered a pizza delivery. When an older man showed up with our dinner, I told the kids to tip him double. After all, he might be an unpaid federal air traffic controller.

It is a good thing I work late on Friday afternoon because that’s when the government shutdown ended after 35 days. The bad news? The government stops getting paid again in only 18 more days. If you have to travel, you better do it quick as the open window may be short.

The most valuable thing we learned from all of this is that the weak point in America is the airline transportation system which relies on 4,000 flights to get the country’s business done.

Having once owned a European air charter company, I could have told you as much was coming. Every nut, bolt, and screw that goes into a US registered aircraft has to be inspected by the federal government. They are painted yellow when viewed which is called “yellow tagging”. No inspection, no screw. No screw, no airplane. No airplane, no flight. No flight, no economy. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen a $30 million aircraft grounded by a failed 50-cent part.

And here’s what most investors don’t get. We lost 75 basis points in GDP growth from the shutdown. We may lose another 75 basis points restarting. And if you lose 1.50% from a post-Christmas period that is normally weak anyway, Q1 GDP may well come in negative. Hello recession!

We won’t know for sure until the first advanced estimate of Q1 GDP from the US Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis is published on April 26. That’s when the sushi will hit the fan. That, by the way, is perilously close for the May 10 prediction of the end of the entire ten-year bull market.

How did investors fare during the shutdown? We clocked the best January in 32 years with the Dow Average up 7.55%. Maybe the government should stay closed all the time!

It is not like the government shutdown, the fading Chinese trade talks, and the arrest of the president’s pal were the only things happening last week.

A slowing China is freaking out investors everywhere. Even if a trade deal is cut tomorrow, it may not be enough to pull the economy out of a downward death spiral. Look out below! A 6.6% growth rate for 2018 is the slowest in 30 years.

Existing Home Sales were down a disastrous 6.4%, in December and 10% YOY, the worst read since 2012. The government shutdown is made closings nearly impossible.

The EC’s Mario Draghi said there would be no euro rate rises until 2020 and the US bond market took off like a rocket. Another point or two and we’ll be in short selling territory again. Don’t count on Europe to pull us out of the next recession. Whoever came up with the idea of putting an Italian in charge of Europe’s finances anyway? Like that was such a great idea.

Procter & Gamble (PG) beat with an upside earnings surprise. It must be all those people buying soap to wash their hands of our political system. But Ford (F) disappointed, dragged down by weak foreign earnings. The weakest big car company to get into electric cars is really starting to suffer. The last of the buggy whip makers is taking a swan dive

The semis have bottomed in the wake of spectacular earnings reports from (LRCX), (AMD), and (XLNX). The great artificial intelligence play is back in action after a severe spanking. I never had any doubt they would come back. Now for an entry point.

Farmers are leaving crops to rot in the field as the trade war with China destroys prices and the Mexicans needed to harvest them are trapped at the border. There’s got to be an easier way to earn a living. Avoid the ags and all ag plays. Short tofu stocks!

Investors are now sitting on pins and needles wondering if we get a repeat of the horrific February of 2018, or whether so far great earnings reports will drive us to higher highs. Earnings tail off right when the next government shutdown is supposed to start so our lives will be interesting, to say the least.

My January and 2019 year to date return soared to +7.24%, boosting my trailing one-year return back up to +30.23%. 

My nine-year return climbed up to +308.14%, a mere 1.72% short of a new all time high. The average annualized return revived to +33.61%. 

I have been dancing in between the raindrops using rallies to take profits on longs and big dips to cover shorts.

I started out the week using the 4 1/2 point plunge in the bond market (TLT) to cover the last of my shorts there, bring in a whopper of a $1,680 profit in only 13 trading days. To quote the Terminator (whose girlfriend I once dated, the Terminatrix), I’ll be back.”

I used the big 500-point swoon in the Dow on Monday to come out of my (SPY) short at cost. An unfortunate comment on interest rates by the European Central Bank forced me to stop out of my long in the Euro (FXE), also at cost.

That has whittled my portfolio down to only two positions, a long in Microsoft (MSFT) and a short in Apple (AAPL). As a pairs trade you could probably run this position for years. I am now 80% in cash.

The goal is to go 100% into cash into the February option expiration in 14 trading days, wait for a big breakout, and then fade it. Essentially, I am waiting for the market to tell me what to do. That will enable me to bank double-digit profits for the start of 2019, the best in a decade.

The upcoming week is very iffy on the data front because of the government shutdown. Some government data may be delayed and other completely missing. Private sources will continue reporting on schedule. All of the data will be completely skewed for at least the next three months. You can count on the shutdown to dominate all media until it is over.

Jobs data will be the big events over the coming five days along with some important housing numbers. We also have several heavies reporting earnings.

On Monday, January 28 at 8:30 AM EST, we get the Chicago Fed National Activity Index.

 On Tuesday, January 29, 9:00 AM EST, the Case Shiller National Home Price Index for November is released.  The ever important Apple (AAPL) earnings are out after the close, along with Juniper Networks (JNPR).

On Wednesday, January 30 at 8:15 AM EST, the ADP Private Employment Report is announced. Pending Home Sales for December follows. Boeing Aircraft (BA) and Facebook (FB), and PayPal (PYPL) announce.

 Thursday, January 31 at 8:30 AM EST, we get Weekly Jobless Claims. We also get the all-important Consumer Spending Index for December. Amazon (AMZN) and General Electric (GE) announce.

On Friday, February 1 at 8:30 AM EST, the January NonFarm Payroll Report hits the tape.

The Baker-Hughes Rig Count follows at 1:00 PM. Schlumberger (SLB) announces earnings. Home Sales is released. AbbVie Inc (ABBV) and DR Horton (DHI) report.

As for me, I will be celebrating my birthday. Believe me, lighting 67 candles creates a real bonfire. I received the best birthday card ever from my daughter which I have copied below

Good luck and good trading.

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








Buy Dips in Semis, Not Tops

Don’t buy the dead cat bounce – that was the takeaway from a recent trading day that saw chips come alive with vigor.

Semiconductor stocks had their best day since March 2009.

The price action was nothing short of spectacular with names such as chip equipment manufacturer Lam Research (LRCX) gaining 15.7% and Texas Instruments (TXN) turning heads, up 6.91%.

The sector was washed out as the Mad Hedge Technology Letter has determined this part of tech as a no-fly zone since last summer.

When stocks get bombed out at these levels – sometimes even 60% like in Lam Research’s case, investors start to triage them into a value play and are susceptible to strong reversal days or weeks in this case.

The semi-conductor space has been that bad and tech growth has had a putrid last six months of trading.

In the short-term, broad-based tech market sentiment has turned positive with the lynchpins being an extremely oversold market because of the December meltdown and the Fed putting the kibosh on the rate-tightening plan.

Fueled by this relatively positive backdrop, tech stocks have rallied hard off their December lows, but that doesn’t mean investors should take out a bridge loan to bet the ranch on chip stocks.

Another premium example of the chip turnaround was the fortune of Xilinx (XLNX) who rocketed 18.44% in one day then followed that brilliant performance with another 4.06% jump.

A two-day performance of 22.50% stems from the underlying strength of the communication segment in the third quarter, driven by the wireless market producing growth from production of 5G and pre-5G deployments as well as some LTE upgrades.

Give credit to the company’s performance in Advanced Products which grew 51% YOY and universal growth across its end markets.

With respect to the transformation to a platform company, the 28-nanometer and 16-nanometer Zynq SoC products expanded robustly with Zynq sales growing 80% YOY led by the 16-nanometer multiprocessor systems-on-chip (MPSoC) products.

Core drivers were apparent in the application in communications, automotive, particularly Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) as well as industrial end markets.

Zynq MPSoC revenues grew over 300% YOY.

These positive signals were just too positive to ignore.

Long term, the trade war complications threaten to corrode a substantial chunk of chip revenues at mainstay players like Intel (INTC) and Nvidia (NVDA).

Not only has the execution risk ratcheted up, but the regulatory risk of operating in China is rising higher than the nosebleed section because of the Huawei extradition case and paying costly tariffs to import back to America is a punch in the gut.

This fragility was highlighted by Intel (INTC) who brought the semiconductor story back down to earth with a mild earnings beat but laid an egg with a horrid annual 2019 forecast.

Intel telegraphed that they are slashing projections for cloud revenue and server sales.

Micron (MU) acquiesced in a similar forecast calling for a cloud hardware slowdown and bloated inventory would need to be further digested creating a lack of demand in new orders.

Then the ultimate stab through the heart – the 2019 guide was $1 billion less than initially forecasted amounting to the same level of revenue in 2018 – $73 billion in revenue and zero growth to the top line.

Making matters worse, the downdraft in guidance factored in that the backend of the year has the likelihood of outperforming to meet that flat projection of the same revenue from last year offering the bear camp fodder to dump Intel shares.

How can firms convincingly promise the back half is going to buttress its year-end performance under the drudgery of a fractious geopolitical set-up?

This screams uncertainty.

Love them or crucify them, the specific makeup of the semiconductor chip cycle entails a vulnerable boom-bust cycle that is the hallmark of the chip industry.

We are trending towards the latter stage of the bust portion of the cycle with management issuing code words such as “inventory adjustment.”

Firms will need to quickly work off this excess blubber to stoke the growth cycle again and that is what this strength in chip stocks is partly about.

Investors are front-running the shaving off of the blubber and getting in at rock bottom prices.

Amalgamate the revelation that demand is relatively healthy due to the next leg up in the technology race requiring companies to hem in adequate orders of next-gen chips for 5G, data servers, IoT products, video game consoles, autonomous vehicle technology, just to name a few.

But this demand is expected to come online in the late half of 2019 if management’s wishes come true.

To minimize unpredictable volatility in this part of tech and if you want to squeeze out the extra juice in this area, then traders can play it by going long the iShares PHLX Semiconductor ETF (SOXX) or VanEck Vectors Semiconductor ETF (SMH).

In many cases, hedge funds have made their entire annual performance in the first month of January because of this v-shaped move in chip shares.

Then there is the other long-term issue of elevated execution risks to chip companies because of an overly reliant manufacturing process in China.

If this trade war turns into a several decades affair which it is appearing more likely by the day, American chip companies will require relocating to a non-adversarial country preferably a democratic stronghold that can act as the fulcrum of a global supply chain channel moving forward.

The relocation will not occur overnight but will have to take place in tranches, and the same chip companies will be on the hook for the relocation fees and resulting capex that is tied with this commitment.

That is all benign in the short term and chip stocks have a little more to run, but on a risk reward proposition, it doesn’t make sense right now to pick up pennies in front of the steamroller.

If the Nasdaq (QQQ) retests December lows because of global growth falls off a cliff, then this mini run in chips will freeze and thawing out won’t happen in a blink of an eye either.  

But if you are a long-term investor, I would recommend my favorite chip stock AMD who is actively draining CPU market share from Intel and whose innovation pipeline rivals only Nvidia.




October 5, 2018

Global Market Comments
October 5, 2018
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:

(SPY), (VIX), (VXX), (MU), (LRCX), (NVDA), (AAPL), (GOOG), (XLV), (USO), (TLT), (AMD), (LMT), (ACB), (TLRY), (WEED)

September 13, 2018

Global Market Comments
September 13, 2018
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:
(BABA), (BIDU), (TCTZF) (MU), (LRCX), (KLAC), (EEM),
(FXI), (EWZ), (SOYB), (CORN), (WEAT), (CAT), (DE),