Posts

November 15, 2019

Global Market Comments
November 15, 2019
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:

(NOVEMBER 13 BIWEEKLY STRATEGY WEBINAR Q&A),
(FCX), (TSLA), (FXI), (SPY), (AAPL), (M), (BA), (TLT)

October 18, 2019

Global Market Comments
October 18, 2019
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:

(OCTOBER 16 BIWEEKLY STRATEGY WEBINAR Q&A),
(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 www.madhedgefundtrader.com , 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

September 16, 2019

Global Market Comments
September 16, 2019
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:

(MARKET OUTLOOK FOR THE WEEK AHEAD, or CHOPPY WEATHER AHEAD),
(SPY), (TLT), (FB), (GOOGL), (M), (C),
 (XOM), (NFLX), (DIS), (FXE), (FXI)

The Market Outlook for the Week Ahead, or Choppy Weather Ahead

When commercial pilots fly across the US, they often give each other a heads up about dangerous conditions so other can avoid them. “Chop” is a common one, clear air turbulence that appears on no instruments. Usually, a simple altitude change of a few thousand feet is enough to deal with the problem.

“Chop” is what we traders have had to deal with in the stock market a lot for the past 18 months ever since the trade war with China started. Look at the S&P 500 (SPY) and you see that we have been covering the same ground over and over again, much like trench warfare in WWI. Since April 2018, we have crossed the $270-$290 space no less than six times.

We are just now kissing the upper edge of that band. What happens next depends on your beliefs. If you think the trade war will end in the next month and we don’t go into recession, then the markets will break out to new all-time highs, blasting all the way up to $320. If you don’t, you want to be fading this move, unloading risk, and entertaining short plays.

I’ll let you decide.

As for me, I have been suspicious of this rally since it started the third week of August. It has been led by banks, energy, retailers, and all the other garbage with terrible fundamentals that have been falling for years. In other words, it is pure short covering. There is no net money coming into the market. In the meantime, technology has not fallen, it has ground to a halt awaiting the next flood of capital.

It was Apple (AAPL) day in Silicon Valley, with the world’s largest company rolling out a host of new services and upgrades. The new Apple TV Plus streaming service was the focus, coming out with a $5 a month price, easily undercutting Disney Plus (DIS) at $10 and Netflix (NFLX) at $15.

It is an in-between generation year, so we didn’t get anything big. But with 200 million iPhones needing replacement in coming years (AAPL) is still a good long-term hold. All eyes will be on the share buy backs.

The next antitrust assault on big tech arrived, with Facebook (FB) and Google (GOOGL) now in the sights of 49 US states. This will go nowhere as technology has been leading to lower prices, not higher ones. What is the monopoly value of a service that is given away for free? The choice is very simple: let the US continue to dominate tech, or let China take it over.

Job growth is slowing, and the belief that it has peaked for this cycle is growing. Job openings fell 31,000 in August to 7.2 million according to the Department of Labor. The big loss was in wholesale trade, the big gain in information technology. The economy is moving from old to new.

The John Bolton firing, the national security advisor, crushed oil as the chance of a major Middle Eastern war decline, knocking $1.50 off of Texas Tea. That negotiation with the Taliban didn’t go so well, with them blowing up our people while talking with Mike Pompeo. The risk is that Trump’s next national security advisor could be worse. That’s been the trend. The last national security advisor took money from the Russians.

Europe pulled out all the stops (FXE), renewing a stimulus program with massive quantitative easing. Euro interest rates also to be cut. Eventually, a lot of that money will end up back in the US, the only place in the world with decent investment returns. That’s why our stocks are now a few pennies short of a new all-time high.

We saw more of Trump talking up the market ahead of trade talks, with the administration considering half a deal on trade tariffs, while throwing technology under the bus with an intellectual property walkaway. Good for the Midwest, terrible for the west coast.

The bond market meltdown continued, with one of the sharpest collapses in history, down 11 points in a week, The ten-year US Treasury bond yield (TLT) has spiked from 1.44% to 1.90% in a week. Hope you got the rate lock on your refi last Friday. Long bonds had become the most overcrowded trade in a decade. Give it a month to digest, then take another run at the highs in prices, lows in yields.

China (FXI) bought ten shiploads of soybeans (SOYB), hoping for a positive outcome in the October trade talks. Or did they make the purchase to start the trade talks in the first place? Who knows? Price spikes 5%, at last! It’s why stocks are pushing to new all-time highs.

The budget deficit toped $1 trillion in the first 11 months of fiscal 2019, the highest since the financial crisis. Running deficits this big during peace time with 2% economic growth will leave us with no way to get out of the next recession. It’s setting up the most predictable financial crisis in history, the next one. It’s just a matter of time before the chickens come home to roost. By the time Trump leaves office, the national debt will have increased by $4 trillion, or 20%.

The Mad Hedge Trader Alert Service is treading water in this wildly unpredictable month.

My Global Trading Dispatch stands near an all-time high of 334.99% and my year-to-date remains level at +34.85%. My ten-year average annualized profit bobbed up to +34.35%. 

I’ll be running my 40% long in technology stocks into the September 20 options expiration because there is nothing else to do. After watching the bond market crater by 11 points, I could no longer restrain myself and stuck my toe in the water with a small long with yields at 1.90%. I may have to sweat a move to a 2.00% yield, but no more. I break even at 2.10%.

The coming week will be one of the biggest of the year, thanks to the Fed.

On Monday, September 16 at 8:30 AM, the New York Empire State Manufacturing Index is out.

On Tuesday, September 17 at 9:15 AM, the US Industrial Production is published.

On Wednesday, September 18, at 8:30 AM, August Building Permits are released. At 2:30 PM, the Federal Reserve announces its interest rate decision. If they don’t cut look out below?

On Thursday, September 19 at 8:30 AM, the Weekly Jobless Claims are printed. At 10:00 AM, Existing Home Sales are printed.

On Friday, September 20 at 8:30 AM, the Baker Hughes Rig Count is released at 2:00 PM.

As for me, my entire weekend is committed to the Boy Scouts, doing assorted public services projects with the kids, timing a mile run for the Physical Fitness merit badge, and cleaning up San Francisco Bay. Hopefully, I will get some time to review my charts. I usually look at 200 a weekend.

Good luck and good trading.

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

 

 

 

 

September 9, 2019

Global Market Comments
September 9, 2019
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:

(MARKET OUTLOOK FOR THE WEEK AHEAD, or SAVED BY A HURRICANE)
(FXB), (M), (XOM), (BAC), (FB), (AAPL),
 (AMZN), (ROKU), (VIX), (GS), (MS),

 

The Market Outlook for the Week Ahead, or Saved by a Hurricane

This was the week when the stock market was saved by Hurricane Dorian.

Why a hurricane?

Because it gave President Trump something else to Tweet about beside China and Jay Powell. The White House went totally silent, at least on matters concerning the stock market. There, the focus instead turned on whether Trump predicted Dorian was going to hit Alabama (it didn’t).

Thank goodness for small favors.

Instead, investors got to hear about progress was purported to be made on the China trade talks with a possible October meeting.

It all reminds me of the 1968 Paris peace talks, which I visited, where I remember Ambassador Avril Harriman storming out of the Majestic Hotel with a very stern expression on his face. They had just spent a year arguing with the North Vietnamese over the shape of the table (they finally settled on an oval).

Brexit finally started lurching towards its inevitable demise. Hard Brexit failed in Parliament, a disaster for Prime Minister Boris Johnson, whose own party and even his own brother voted against him.

Elections will follow which will finally plunge a dagger through the heart of Britain’s attempt to leave the European Community. If this happens, it will be a huge positive for risk markets globally. This is the beginning of the end. Get ready to buy the pound (FXB).

The bad news? Don’t count on this happening again this week, unless we get another hurricane. When a stock market rally is led by sectors with the worst fundamentals, like retail (M), energy (XOM), and banks (BAC), you want to run a mile. It means the rally was driven by short-covering, we are now at a market high, and the short players have a ton of cash.

I have been pounded with questions all week if the bottom is in and if it’s time to load the boat with tech stocks yet again. I have to answer with a firm “Not yet!” We still have three weeks to go in September with plenty of time for more volatility.

If the Fed cuts interest rates by 25 basis points, the Dow average could crater by 1,000 points. If they don’t cut, which I give a 50/50 chance, it will be down by 2,000 points.

They will be encouraged to cut by an August Nonfarm Payroll Report that came in at a tepid 130,000. The headline Unemployment Rate remained unchanged at 3.7%, a 50-year low. Average Hourly Earnings were an inflationary 0.4%, or 3.2% YOY. June and July were revised down.

The 2020 census was a big factor in August, where the US government hired 25,000 workers to prepare for next year. Without this, August would have come in at a weak 105,000 jobs.

Manufacturing hiring amounted to only 3,000, while Retail lost 11,000 jobs for the seventh consecutive monthly decline. The broader U-6 “discouraged worker” unemployment rate rose from 7.0% to 7.2%.

To demonstrate how much value you are gaining with this service, I generated the chart below. Since January 26, 2018 when the S&P 500 peaked, the total return has been zero, with a lot of heart-stopping volatility, including one 20% drawdown.

That has been the cost to the stock market of the trade war, which started only a few days later. The profit created by the Mad Hedge Fund Trader during the same period has been 58.97%.

You couldn’t even beat the Mad Hedge Fund Trader by pouring all your money into big technology stocks. Over the same time, Facebook (FB) fell 4.1%, Apple (AAPL) rose 21.7%, and Amazon (AMZN) by 22.2%.

The only way you could have topped my performance was to pour your life savings into Roku (ROKU), right when Amazon was about to put it out of business. Jeff Bezos partnered with Roku instead of delivering a 225% pop in the shares.

You might think such a performance is blown out of proportion, exaggerated, and fake. However, it is perfectly consistent with the numbers generated for the in-house trading books by senior traders at Goldman Sachs (GS) and Morgan Stanley (MS) where I come from.

In fact, during my day, if a trader earned less than 30% a year on his capital, he got fired or transferred over to covering retail accounts because the firm had so many better places to invest. They are also consistent with the performance of the top-end hedge managers, of which I used to be one.

Chinese Manufacturing Activity fell for four consecutive months taking the Purchasing Managers Index below a recessionary 50. If you wreck the economy of the world’s largest customer, the rest of the world goes into recession.

US Manufacturing hit a three-year low, the ISM Manufacturing PMI diving from an average 56.5 to 49.1 in August. Anything below 50 is a recession indicator. Hoping that China will bleed worse than us in a trade war is not a winning strategy. Stocks dove 300 points and the Volatility Index (VIX) shot up to $21 on the news. Avoid risk, as this is going to be a terrible month.

The prospect of a China meeting popped stocks 400 points, with an agreement to meet in October, citing progress on a phone call. Boy, I’m getting tired of this. When can we go back to looking at earnings, dividends, and book value?

The European Central Bank will almost certainly ease this week. It hasn’t worked for ten years so let’s try it again. They’re obviously not printing enough Euros. Overnight rates will fall from -0.4% to -0.6%. Some 30 billion euros a month will hit the economy in a new QE.

The Atlanta Fed downgraded the economy, cutting its Q3 GDP growth forecast from 2.0% to 1.5%. Expect a string of poor data points in the coming months as the delayed effect of an escalated trade war. However, the non-manufacturing service economy remains strong. That’s me, and probably you too.

The Mad Hedge Trader Alert Service has posted its best month in two years. Some 22 or the last 23 round trips, or 95.6%, have been profitable, generating one of the biggest performance jumps in our 12-year history.

My Global Trading Dispatch has hit a new all-time high of 334.48% and my year-to-date shot up to +34.35%. My ten-year average annualized profit bobbed up to +34.30%. 

Better yet, since July 31, we generated a 20% profit for the trade alert service while the gain in the Dow Average was absolutely zero!

I raked in an envious 16.01% in August. All of you people who just subscribed in June and July are looking like geniuses. My staff and I have been working to the point of exhaustion, but it’s worth it if I can print these kinds of numbers.

As long as the Volatility Index (VIX) stays above $20, deep in-the-money options spreads are offering free money. I am now 40% long big tech. It rarely gets this easy.

The coming week will be a snore, as it always is after the jobs data.

On Monday, September 9 at 11:00 AM, August Consumer Inflation Expectations are out.

On Tuesday, September 10 at 12:00 PM, the NFIB Business Optimism Index for August is released.

On Wednesday, September 11, at 8:30 AM, the US Producer Price Index is announced.

On Thursday, September 12 at 8:30 AM, the Weekly Jobless Claims are printed. At the same time, the US Inflation Rate is published.

On Friday, September 13 at 8:30 AM, the US Retails Sales are printed. The Baker Hughes Rig Count follows at 2:00 PM.

As for me, I’ll be driving up to Lake Tahoe to make final preparations for the October 25-26 Mad Hedge Lake Tahoe Conference. A record number of black bears have been breaking into homes this summer and I just want to make sure my lakefront estate is OK.

It seems that Airbnb tenants have been leaving trails of cookies to their front doors and painting their refrigerators with peanut butter so they can get better selfies with their ursine neighbors.

Not a good idea.

I’ll be avoiding Interstate 80. A truck carrying 1,000 live chickens crashed there yesterday and the California Highway Patrol was last seen chasing them down the freeway.

Good luck and good trading.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

August 19, 2019

Global Market Comments
August 19, 2019
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:

(MARKET OUTLOOK FOR THE WEEK AHEAD, or WHAT A ROLLER COASTER RIDE!),
(SPY), (TLT), (VIX), (VXX), (M),
(WMT), (FB), (AMZN), (GOOGL), (IWM)

The Market Outlook for the Week Ahead, or What a Roller Coaster Ride!

I like roller coasters. The Giant Dipper at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk is tough to beat, the last operating wooden coaster in the United States. And I’ll always have fond memories of the Cyclone at Coney Island in New York.

I especially liked this week in the financial markets, which provided more profitable trading opportunities, both on the long and the short side, that any other week of the past decade.

Perhaps the highpoint was on Thursday when I was staring at my screens watching ten year US Treasury bond yields (TLT) bottom at a near historic 1.46%, and my own Mad Hedge Market Timing Index plunging to a lowly 19.

Impulsively, I covered the last of my short positions and started piling on longs in the FANGs. The next morning, the Dow Average opened up 300 points. But then, it’s easy to be bold and decisive when you’re up 30% on the year, compared to only 11% for the Dow Average.

And guess what? The best may be yet to come!

As long as the Volatility Index stays over $20, you will be able to print all the money you want with options spreads. I’m talking 10%-15% A MONTH!

All eyes are now on September 1 when the Chinese announce their own retaliation to our tariff increase. Will they target ag again? Or does the bond market (TLT) take the hit this time (the Chinese government owns $900 billion worth of our debt).

And now for the question that everyone is asking: How far will the stock market fall in this cycle. We have already plunged 10% from the highs on an intraday basis. Could we drop another 10% in this period of high anxiety? Certainly. However, I tend to think it will be less than that.

The initial market pop on Monday came when the new Chinese tariffs were delayed, from September 1 to December 15, on some items. Tell me who saw this one coming. The potential costs of the tariffs are hitting the US more than China. It was worth a 550-point rally in the Dow Average. In 50 years, I’ve never seen such blatant market manipulation.

Gold hit a new six-year high, with the collapse of the Argentine Peso a new factor. A poor election result drove the beleaguered currency down 15% in one day, a massive move.

Now you have to worry about what’s happening in China AND Argentina. For the first time in history, gold now has a positive yield versus the Europe and the Japanese Yen, which both offer negative interest rates.

Hong Kong is becoming a factor driving US markets down. If there is a repeat if the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre where thousands died, global markets could collapse. The hit to growth will be more than it currently can stand in its present weakened state.

Inflation is taking off, with Core Consumer Inflation for July coming in at a red hot 0.3%, delivering the strongest two-month price burst since 2006. If it keeps up, you can kiss those future interest rate cuts goodbye.

Germany is in recession. That is the only conclusion possible when you see Q2 at -0.1% growth and the economy still in free fall. The ZEW’s figures regarding Germany yesterday were nothing short of horrific as the Economic Sentiment Index fell to -44. When you damage China’s economy, it puts the rest of the world into recession. The global economy has become so interlinked, it can’t become undone without another great recession.

Bonds rates bottomed yesterday, at least for the short term, the intraday low for the ten-year US Treasury yield hitting 1.46%. Welcome to inversion land, where long term interest rates are below short-term ones. Confidence in the economy is melting like an Alaskan glacier. But with three more 25 basis point rate cuts to come, an eventual break below 1.0% is inevitable. Watch for stocks to remake half their recent losses.

Consumer Sentiment cratered in August from 97.0 estimated to 92.1. And that was before the stock market sold off. Consumer spending remains strong. The last time it was this strong was at the market top in 2008, the market top in 1999, and the market top in 1987.

July Housing Starts plunged 4.0%, to 1.191 million units as homebuilders move into recession mode. Not even record low-interest rates can get them to stick their necks out this time. Those that did last time got wiped out.

It’s been pedal to the metal all month with the Mad Hedge Trade Alert Service, with no less than 31 Trade Alerts going out so far. Some 18 or the last 19 round trips have been profitable, generating one of the biggest performance jumps in our 12-year history.

Since July 12, we have clocked a blistering 15.15% in profits or $15,150 for the model $100,000 trading portfolio.

My Global Trading Dispatch has hit a new all-time high of 330.65% and my year-to-date shot up to +30.51%. My ten-year average annualized profit bobbed up to +34.20%. 

I have coined a blockbuster 12.18% so far in August. All of you people who just subscribed in June and July are looking like geniuses. My staff and I have been working to the point of exhaustion, but it’s worth it if I can print these kinds of numbers.

The coming week will be a snore on the data front. Believe it or not, it could be quiet.

On Monday, August 19, nothing of note is released.

On Tuesday, August 20 at 10:30 AM, we get API Crude Oil Stocks.

On Wednesday, August 21, at 10:00 the Existing Home Sales are published for July.

On Thursday, August 22 at 8:30 AM, the Weekly Jobless Claims are printed. The Jackson Hole conference of global central bankers and economists begins.

On Friday, August 23 at 8:30 AM the July New Home Sales are announced.

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

As for me, I will be attending the Pebble Beach Concourse d’Elegance vintage car show where I will be exhibiting my 1925 Rolls Royce Phantom I, the best car ever made.

I don’t mind the wooden brakes, but it’s too bad they didn’t make adjustable seats in those days to fit my 6’4” frame. However, its price appreciation has been better than Apple’s (AAPL) which I bought as a fixer upper in England during the 1980s for $20,000. My average cost on Apple is a split adjusted 25 cents.

My Rolls will be shown alongside James Bond’s 1964 Aston Martin which sold for $6.3 million, a 1939 Volkswagen Type 64 priced at more than $20 million, and a $13 million 1958 Ferrari 250 GT BBT.

And what am I doing next weekend? Taking the Boy Scouts to the Six Flags roller coaster farm in Vallejo.

Good luck and good trading.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Phantom I

 

1939 Volkswagen

 

1954 Ferrari

Emergency Notice on Macy’s Options Called Away

I have received emails today from several followers indicating that their short position in the Macy’s August 16 $23 put options have been called away. These are one leg of the Macys (M) August 2019 $23-$25 in-the-money vertical BEAR PUT spread which I recommended on August 6.

I am responding with an EMERGENCY ALERT because some brokers, notably Charles Schwab, are advising their customers exactly the wrong thing to do. They are telling their customers to take out a huge leveraged margin positions to cover a long position in Macy’s shares at $23 a share. YOU SHOULD NOT FOLLOW THIS ADVICE!

Instead, you should simply tell your broker to exercise you long Macy’s August 16 $25 put options to cover your short Macy’s August $23 put options and take home the maximum potential profit one day before expiration.

Your long Macy’s August 16 $25 put options more than covers any losses in the short Macy’s August $23 put options plus a handsome profit.

Remember, when you are short a put option and it get exercised against you or called away, you automatically own the shares. In the case of the Macy’s August 16 $23 put options, you now own 100 shares for each option contract you were short. Short 57 contracts means you are now long 5,700 shares, worth $91,200 shares in a plunging market.

Most of you have short option positions, although you may not realize it. For when you buy an in-the-money put option spread, it contains two elements: a long put and a short put. The short put can get assigned, or called away at any time.

You have to be careful here because the inexperienced can blow their newfound windfall if they take the wrong action, so here’s how to handle it.

Puts are a right to sell shares at a fixed price before a fixed date, and one option contract is exercisable into 100 shares.

Sounds like a good trade to me.

Weird stuff like this happens in the run-up to options expirations.

Ordinary shares may not be available in the market, or maybe a limit order didn’t get done by the stock market close.

There are thousands of algorithms out there which may arrive at some twisted logic that the puts need to be exercised.

Many require a rebalancing of hedges at the close every day which can be achieved through option exercises.

And yes, puts even get exercised by accident. There are still a few humans left in this market to blow it.

And here’s another possible outcome in this process.

Your broker will call you to notify you of an option called away, and then give you the wrong advice on what to do about it.

This generates tons of commissions for the broker but is a terrible thing for the trader to do from a risk point of view, such as generating a loss by the time everything is closed and netted out.

Avarice could have been an explanation here but I think stupidity and poor training and low wages are much more likely.

Brokers have so many ways to steal money legally that they don’t need to resort to the illegal kind.

This exercise process is now fully automated at most brokers but it never hurts to follow up with a phone call if you get an exercise notice. Mistakes do happen.

Some may also send you a link to a video of what to do about all this.

If any of you are the slightest bit worried or confused by all of this, come out of your position RIGHT NOW at a small profit! You should never be worried or confused about any position tying up YOUR money.

Professionals do these things all day long and exercises become second nature, just another cost of doing business.

If you do this long enough, eventually you get hit. I bet you don’t.