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Will Antitrust Destroy Your Tech Portfolio?

In recent days, two antitrust suits have arisen from both the Federal government and 49 states seeking to fine, or break up the big four tech companies, Facebook (FB), Apple (AAPL), Amazon (AMZN), and Google (GOOG). Let’s call them the “FAAGs.”

And here is the problem. These four companies make up the largest share of your retirement funds, whether you are invested with active managers, mutual funds, or simple index funds. The FAAGs dominate the landscape in every sense, accounting 13% of the S&P 500 and 33% of NASDAQ.

They are also the world’s most profitable large publicly listed companies with the best big company earnings growth.

I’ll list the antitrust concern individually for each company.

Facebook

Facebook has been able to maintain its dominance in social media through buying up any potential competitors it thought might rise up to challenge it through a strategy of serial defense acquisitions

In 2012, it bought the photo-sharing application Instagram for a bargain $1 billion and built it into a wildly successful business. It then overpaid a staggering $19 billion for WhatsApp, the free internet phone and texting service that Mad Hedge Fund Trader uses while I travel. It bought Onovo, a mobile data analytics company, for pennies ($120 million) in 2013.

Facebook has bought over 70 companies in 15 years, and the smaller ones we never heard about. These were done largely to absorb large numbers of talented engineers, their nascent business shut down months after acquisition.

Facebook was fined $5 billion by the Fair Trade Commission (FTC) for data misuse and privacy abuses that were used to help elect Donald Trump in 2016.

Apple

Apple only has a 6% market share in the global smart phone business. Samsung sells nearly 50% more at 9%. So, no antitrust problem here.

The bone of contention with Apple is the App Store, which Steve Jobs created in 2008. The company insists that it has to maintain quality standards. No surprise then that Apple finds the products of many of its fiercest competitors inferior or fraudulent. Apple says nothing could be further from the truth and that it has to compete aggressively with third party apps in its own store. Spotify (SPOT) has already filed complaints in the US and Europe over this issue.

However, Apple is on solid ground here because it has nowhere near a dominant market share in the app business and gives away many of its own apps for free. But good luck trying to use these services with anything but Apple’s own browser, Safari.

It’s still a nonissue because services represent less than 15% of total Apple revenues and the App Store is a far smaller share than that.

Amazon

The big issue is whether Amazon unfairly directs its product searches towards its own products first and competitors second. Do a search for bulk baby diapers and you will reliably get “Mama Bears”, the output of a company that Amazon bought at a fire sale price in 2004. In fact, Amazon now has 170 in-house brands and is currently making a big push into designer apparel.

Here is the weakness in that argument. Keeping customers in-house is currently the business strategy of every large business in America. Go into any Costco and you’ll see an ever-larger portion of products from its own “Kirkland” branch (Kirkland, WA is where the company is headquartered).

Amazon has a market share of no more than 4% in any single product. It has the lowest price, and often the lowest quality offering. But it does deliver for free to its 100 million Prime members. In 2018, some 58% of sales were made from third-party sellers.

In the end, I believe that Amazon will be broken up, not through any government action, but because it has become too large to manage. I think that will happen when the company value doubles again to $2 trillion, or in about 3-5 years, especially if the company can obtain a rich premium by doing so.

Google

Directed search is also the big deal here. And it really is a monopoly too, with some 92% of the global search. Its big breadwinner is advertising, where it has a still hefty 37% market share. Google also controls 75% of the world’s smart phones with its own Android operating software, another monopoly.

However, any antitrust argument falls apart because its search service is given away to the public for free, as is Android. Unless you are an advertiser, it is highly unlikely that you have ever paid Google a penny for a service that is worth thousands of dollars a year. I myself use Google ten hours a day for nothing but would pay at least that much.

The company has already survived one FTC investigation without penalty, while the European Union tagged it for $2.7 billion in 2017 and another $1.7 billion in 2019, a pittance of total revenues.

The Bottom Line

The stock market tells the whole story here, with FAAG share prices dropping a desultory 1%-2% for a single day on any antitrust development, and then bouncing back the next day.

Clearly, Google is at greatest risk here as it actually does have a monopoly. Perhaps this is why the stock has lagged the others this year. But you can count on whatever the outcome, the company will just design around it as have others in the past.

For start, there is no current law that makes what the FAAGs do illegal. The Sherman Antitrust Act, first written in 1898 and originally envisioned as a union-busting tool, never anticipated anticompetitive monopolies of free services. To apply this to free online services would be a wild stretch.
 
The current gridlocked congress is unlikely to pass any law of any kind. The earliest they can do so will be in 18 months. But the problems persist in that most congressmen fundamentally don’t understand what these companies do for a living. And even the companies themselves are uncertain about the future.

Even if they passed a law, it would be to regulate yesterday’s business model, not the next one. The FAAGs are evolving so fast that they are really beyond regulation. Artificial intelligence is hyper-accelerating that trend.

It all reminds me of the IBM antitrust case, which started in 1975, which my own mother worked on. It didn’t end until the early 1990s. The government’s beef then was Big Blue’s near-monopoly in mainframe computers. By the time the case ended, IBM had taken over the personal computer market. Legal experts refer to this case as the Justice Department’s Vietnam.

The same thing happened to Microsoft (MSFT) in the 1990s. After ten years, there was a settlement with no net benefit to the consumer. So, the track record of the government attempting to direct the course of technological development through litigation is not great, especially when the lawyers haven’t a clue about what the technology does.

There is also a big “not invented here” effect going on in these cases. It’s easy to sue companies based in other states. Of the 49 states taking action against big tech, California was absent. But California was in the forefront of litigation again for big tobacco (North Carolina), and the Big Three (Detroit).

And the European Community has been far ahead of the US in pursuing tech with assorted actions. Their sum total contribution to the development of technology was the mouse (Sweden) and the World Wide Web (Tim Berners Lee working for CERN in Geneva).

So, I think your investments in FAAGs are safe. No need to start eyeing the nearest McDonald’s for your retirement job yet. Personally, I think the value of the FAAGs will double in five years, as they have over the last five years, recession or not.

 

 

 

 

September 6, 2019

Global Market Comments
September 6, 2019
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:

(SEPTEMBER 4 BIWEEKLY STRATEGY WEBINAR Q&A),
(INDU), (FXY), (FXB), (USO), (XLE), (TLT), (TBT),
(FB), (AMZN), (MSFT), (DIS), (WMT), (IWM), (TSLA), (ROKU), (UBER), (LYFT), (SLV), (SIL)

September 4 Biweekly Strategy Webinar Q&A

Below please find subscribers’ Q&A for the Mad Hedge Fund Trader September 4 Global Strategy Webinar broadcast from Silicon Valley with my guest and co-host Bill Davis of the Mad Day Trader. Keep those questions coming!

 

Q: If Trump figures out the trade war will lose him the election; will he stop it?

A: Yes, and that is a risk that hovers over all short positions in the market at all times these days because stocks will soar (INDU) when the trade war ends. We now have 18 months of share appreciation that has been frustrated or deferred by the dispute with China. The problem is that the US economy is already sliding into recession and it may already be too late to turn it around.

Q: Do you see the British pound (FXB) dropping more on the Brexit turmoil? Do you think the UK will stay in the EU?

A: If the UK ends Brexit through an election, then the pound should recover from $1.19 all the way back up to $1.65 where it was before Brexit happened four years ago. If that does happen, it will be one of the biggest trades of the year anywhere in the world, going long the British pound. This is how I always anticipated it would end. I was in England for the Brexit vote and I was convinced that if they held the election the next day, it would have lost. The only reason it won was because nobody thought it would— a lot like our own 2016 election. That brings Britain back into the EEC, saves Europe, and has a positive impact on markets globally. So, this is a big deal. Not to do so would be economic suicide for Britain, and I think wiser heads will prevail.

Q: Do you think it’s a good idea for Saudi ARAMCO to go public in Japan as reports suggest?

A: When the Arabs want to get out of the oil business (USO), (XLE), you want to also. That’s what the sale of ARAMCO is all about. They’re going to get a $1 trillion or more valuation, raising $100 billion in cash. And guess who the biggest investors in alternative energy in California are? It’s Saudi Arabia. They see no future in oil, nor should you. This is why we’ve been negative on the sector all year. By the way, bankruptcies by frackers in the U.S. are at an all-time high, another indicator that low oil prices can’t be tolerated by the US industry for long.

Q: Is it time to buy the ProShares Ultra Short 20 year Plus Treasury Bond Fund (TBT)?

A: No, not yet; I think we’re going to break 1.33% — the all-time low yield for the (TLT) will probably be somewhere just below 1.00%. We probably won’t go to absolute zero because we still have a growing economy. The countries that already have negative interest rates have shrinking economies or are already in recession, like Germany or Great Britain can justify zero rates.

Q: Are you going to run all your existing positions into expiration?

A: I’m going to try to—it’s only 12 days to expiration, and we get to keep the full profit if we do. As long as the market is dead in the middle here, there are no other positions to put on, no extreme low to buy into or extreme high to sell into. It’s a question of letting this sort of nowhere-trend play out, but also there’s nothing else to buy, so there is no need to raise cash. So, we’re 60% invested now and we’re going to try running as many of those into expiration as we can. Looks like all the long technology positions are safe (FB), (AMZN), (MSFT), (DIS). The only thing we’re pressing here are the shorts in Walmart (WMT) and Russell 2000 (IWM).

Q: Do you think it’s a good idea for Tesla (TSLA) to build another Gigafactory in Shanghai, China during a trade war? Will this blow up in Elon’s face?

A: I don’t think so because the Chinese are desperate for the Tesla technology and they just gave Tesla an exemption on import duties on all parts that need to go there to build the cars. So, that’s a very positive development for Tesla and I believe the stock is up about $10 since that news came out.

Q: Will Roku (ROKU) ever pull back? Would you buy it up here?

A: No, we recommended this thing last year at $40; it’s now up to $165, and up here it’s just wildly overbought, in chase territory. Of course, the reason that’s happening is that the big concern last year was Amazon wiping out Roku, yet they ultimately ended up partnering with Roku, and that’s worth about a 400% gain in the stock. You know the second you get into this, it’s over. There are just too many better fish to fry in the technology area.

Q: What happens if our existing Russell 2000 (IWM) September 2019 $153-$156 in-the-money vertical BEAR PUT spread Russell 2000 position closes between $156 and $153?

A: You lose money. You will get the Russell 2000 shares put to you, or sold to you at $153.00, which means you now own them, and you’ll get a big margin call from your broker for owning the extra shares. If ever it looks like we’re getting close to the strike price going into expiration, I come out precisely because of that risk. You don’t want random chance dictating whether you’re going to make money in your position or not going into expiration. If you’re worried about that, I would get out now and you can still come out with a nice profit. Or, you can always wait for another down day tomorrow.

Q: Is it time to get super aggressive shorting Lyft (LYFT) or Uber (UBER) when they openly admit that they won’t make a profit anytime in the near future?

A: The time to short Uber (UBER) and Lyft was at the IPO when the shares became available to sell. Down here I don’t really want to do very much. It’s late in the game and Uber’s down about one third from its IPO price. We begged people to stay away from this. It’s another example where they waited for the company to go ex-growth before it went public, but it didn’t leave anything for the public. It was a very badly mishandled IPO—it’s now at $31 against a $45 IPO price and was at a new all-time low just 2 days ago. You knew when they offered the drivers shares, the thing was in trouble. Sometime this will be a buy, but not yet. Go take a long nap first.

Q: Is the fact that rich people are hoarding cash a good indicator that a recession is approaching?

A: Yes, absolutely. Bonds yielding 1.45% is also an indication that the wealthy are hoarding cash from other investment and parking it in US treasury bonds. I went to the Pebble Beach Concourse d’ Elegance vintage car show a few weeks ago and all of the $10 million plus cars didn’t sell, only those priced below $100,000. That is always a good indicator that the wealthy are bailing ahead of a recession. If you can’t get a premium price for your vintage Ferrari, trouble is coming.

Q: Argentina just implemented currency controls; is this the start of a rolling currency crisis among emerging nations?

A: No, I believe the problems are unique to Argentina. They’ve adopted what is known as Modern Momentary Theory—i.e. borrowing and printing money like crazy. Unfortunately, this is unsustainable and results in a devalued currency, general instability, and the eventual hanging of their leaders from the nearest lamppost. This is exactly the same monetary policy that the Trump administration has been pursuing since he came into office. Eventually, it will lead to tears, ours, not his.

Q: Is the new all-electric Porsche Taycan a threat to Tesla?

A: No, it’s not. Their cheapest car is $150,000 and it gets one third less range than Tesla does. It’s really aimed at Porsche fanatics, and I doubt they will get outside their core market. In the meantime, Tesla has taken over the middle part of the electric market with the Model 3 at $37,000 a car. That’s where the money is, and Porsche will never get there.

Q: How will the US pull out of recession if the interest rates are at or below zero?

A: It won’t—that’s what a lot of economists are concerned about these days. With interest rates below zero, the Fed has lost its primary means to stimulate the economy. The only thing left to do is use creative means like feeding the economy with currency, which Europe has been doing for 10 years, and Japan for 30, with no results. That’s another reason to not allow rates to get back to zero—so we have tools to use when we go into a recession 12-24 months from now.

Q: What’s the best way to buy silver?

A: The ETF iShares Silver Trust (SLV) and, if you want to be aggressive, the silver miners with the Global X Silver Miners ETF (SIL).

Q: Have global central banks ruined the western economic system as we know it for future generations?

A: They may have—mostly by printing too much money in the last 10 years in order to get us out of recession. This hasn’t really worked for Europe or Japan, mind you, though who knows how much worse off they would be if they hadn’t. What it did do here is head off a Great Depression. If we go back to money printing in a big way, however, and it doesn’t work, we will not have prevented a Great Depression so much as pushed it back 10 or 15 years. That’s the great debate ongoing among economists, and it will eventually be settled by the marketplace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

August 27, 2019

Global Market Comments
August 27, 2019
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:

(FIVE STOCKS TO BUY AT THE BOTTOM),
(AAPL), (AMZN), (SQ), (ROKU), (MSFT),
(HOW TO EXECUTE A VERTICAL BULL CALL SPREAD)
(AAPL)

Five Stocks to Buy at the Market Bottom

With the Dow Average down 2,000 points in four weeks, you are being given a second bite of the apple before the yearend tech-led rally begins.

So, it is with great satisfaction that I am rewriting Arthur Henry’s Mad Hedge Technology Letter’s list of recommendations.

By the way, if you want subscribe to Arthur’s groundbreaking, cutting edge service, please click here at https://hi290.infusionsoft.com/app/orderForms/tl-sub

It’s the best read on technology investing in the entire market.

You don’t want to catch a falling knife, but at the same time, diligently prepare yourself to buy the best discounts of the year.

The China trade war has triggered a tsunami wave of selling, tearing apart the tech sector with a vicious profit-taking few trading days.

No doubt that asset managers are frantically locking in profits for the rest of the year and protecting ebullient performance from a first quarter to remember.

This week shouldn’t deter investors from picking up bargains that were non-existent since December because the bulk of the highest quality tech names churned higher with lurching momentum.

Here are the names of five of the best stocks to slip into your portfolio in no particular order once the madness subsides.

Apple

Steve Job’s creation is weathering the gale-fore storm quite well. Apple has been on a tear reconfirming its smooth pivot to a software services-tilted tech company. The timing is perfect as China has enhanced their smartphone technology by leaps and bounds.

Even though China cannot produce the top-notch quality phones that Apple can, they have caught up to the point where local Chinese are reasonably content with its functionality.

That hasn’t stopped Apple from vigorously growing revenue in greater China 20% YOY during a feverishly testy political climate that has their supply chain in Beijing’s crosshairs.

The pivot is picking up steam and Apple’s revenue will morph into a software company with software and services eventually contributing 25% to total revenue.

They aren’t just an iPhone company anymore. Apple has led the charge with stock buybacks and will gobble up a total of $150 billion in shares by the end of 2019. Get into this stock while you can as entry points are few and far between.

Amazon (AMZN)

This is the best company in America hands down and commands 5% of total American retail sales or 49% of American e-commerce sales.

It became the second company to eclipse a market capitalization of over $1 trillion. Its Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud business pioneered the cloud industry and had an almost 10-year head start to craft it into its cash cow. Amazon has branched off into many other businesses since then oozing innovation and is a one-stop wrecking ball.

The newest direction is the smart home where they seek to place every single smart product around the Amazon Echo, the smart speaker sitting nicely inside your house. A smart doorbell was the first step along with recently investing in a prefab house start-up aimed at building smart homes.

Microsoft (MSFT)

The optics in today look utterly different from when Bill Gates was roaming around the corridors in the Redmond, Washington headquarter, and that is a good thing in 2019.

Current CEO Satya Nadella has turned this former legacy company into the 2nd largest cloud competitor to Amazon, and then some.

Microsoft Azure is rapidly catching up to Amazon in the cloud space because of the Amazon-effect working in reverse. Companies don’t want to store proprietary data to Amazon’s server farm when they could possible destroy them down the road. Microsoft is mainly a software company and gained the trust of many big companies especially retailers.

Microsoft is also on the vanguard of the gaming industry taking advantage of the young generation’s fear of outside activity. Xbox-related revenue is up 36% YOY, and its gaming division is a $10.3 billion per year business.

Microsoft Azure grew 87% YOY last quarter. The previous quarter saw Azure rocket by 98%. Shares are cheaper than Amazon and almost as potent.

Square (SQ)

CEO Jack Dorsey is doing everything right at this fin-tech company blazing a trail right to the doorsteps of the traditional banks.

The various businesses they have on offer makes me think of Amazon’s portfolio because of the supreme diversity. The Cash App is a peer-to-peer money transfer program that cohabits with a bitcoin-investing function on the same smartphone app.

Square has targeted the smaller businesses first and is a godsend for these entrepreneurs who lack immense capital to create a financial and payment infrastructure. Not only do they provide the physical payment systems for restaurant chains, they also offer payroll services and other small loans.

The pipeline of innovation is strong with upper management mentioning they are considering stock trading products and other bank-like products. Wall Street bigwigs must be shaking in their boots.

The recently departed CFO Sarah Friar triggered a 10% collapse in share price on top of the market meltdown. The weakness will certainly be temporary, especially if they keep doubling their revenue every two years like they have been doing.

Roku (ROKU)

Benefitting from the broad-based migration from cable TV to online streaming and cord-cutting, Roku is perfectly placed to delectably harvest the spoils.

This uber-growth company offers an over-the-top (OTT) streaming platform along with the necessary hardware and picks up revenue by selling digital ads.

Founder and CEO Anthony Woods owns 21 million shares of his brainchild and insistently notes that he has no interest in selling his company to a Netflix or Apple.

Roku’s active accounts mushroomed 46% to 22 million in the second quarter. Viewers are reaffirming the obsession with on-demand online streaming content with hours streamed on the platform increasing 58% to 5.5 billion.

The Roku platform can be bought for just $30 and is easy to set up. Roku enjoys the lead in the over-the-top (OTT) streaming device industry controlling 37% of the market share leading Amazon’s Fire Stick at 28%.

The runway is long as (OTT) boxes nestle cozily in only 40% of American homes with broadband, up from a paltry 6% in 2010.

They are consistently absent from the backbiting and jawboning the FANGs consistently find themselves in partly because they do not create original content and they are not an offshoot from a larger parent tech firm.

This growth stock experiences the same type of volatility as Square.

Be patient and wait for 5-7% drops to pick up some shares.

 

 

 

 

 

 

You Have to Know Which Flowers to Pick

August 26, 2019

Global Market Comments
August 26, 2019
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:

(MARKET OUTLOOK FOR THE WEEK AHEAD, or THE TWEET THAT SANK A THOUSAND SHIPS),

(SPY), (TLT), (GOOGL), (FB), (DIS), MSFT), (WMT), (IWM)

The Market Outlook for the Week Ahead, or The Tweet that Sank a Thousand Ships

I always wondered who the enemy was. Now, I know.

Not only is Fed governor Jerome Powell responsible for the upcoming recession, I also heard he fixed the 1918 World Series where the Chicago White Sox deliberately lost.

And come to think of it, Jack the Ripper and D.B Cooper were never caught either. If Tweets are to be believed, the Fed now needs to seek guidance from the president before any subsequent policy decision.

It all reminds me of the last days of the Third Reich when Adolph Hitler was ordering into action divisions that no longer existed.

And I love all of it.

An 850 point top to bottom swan dive in the Dow Average vaporized all my short positions, which I had put on days ago for just this eventuality. It also allowed me to get back into Microsoft (MSFT) down $5, which I have been struggling to get back into for months.

My only miss of the month has been in Gold (GLD), whose move continues to be so parabolic that I haven’t been able to get you, or me, into it.

No doubt the administration will respond with another charm offensive, as this did this week, and ignite another ferocious short-covering rally.

The harsh truth is that confidence is eroding by the day. And the escalating talk of a recession can, in itself, cause a recession. So much depends on belief when share price earnings multiples are trading at a lofty 17X. But it is all looking increasingly like a little boy trying to head off a flood by holding his finger in a hole in a dike.

There’s no more waiting to see if the trade war escalates again on September 1. We already have the answer. It now appears we have instant escalation all the time with every Tweet. It’s not exactly what I want to bet my retirement fund on.

I have been getting questions as to why I have been adding long positions with the outlook so grim. For a start, these positions are all triply hedged.

I’m long a call against a short call with an identical maturity. I have low beta long positions hedged against high beta short positions. And finally, I don’t think we can break down below the 200-day moving average in the major indexes until the September 20 Fed meeting when they FAIL to cut interest rates again because the data isn’t there yet.

The net, net, net of all of this is that my portfolio can take a 1,000-point hit in the Dow Average and its no big deal.

And don’t forget. Ultra-low interest rates will put a higher floor under the market than we have seen in past selloffs.

I pray the insanity keeps up (did I hear a reference to the Messiah the other day?) because it is allowing me to ship out Trade Alerts as fast as I can write them.

Stocks rose briefly on German stimulus prospects. It’s an idea imported from America, heavy borrowing and massive deficit spending to float the economy. It’s just what the world needs, more freshly printed money, like the last $17 trillion worked so well.  It’s all confirmation that Europe is already in recession.

The US now has the world’s highest interest rates, at 3.60% for 30-year fixed-rate loans. Only the US offers loans of this duration, thanks to heavy government subsidies through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Floating rate loans in France are 1.39%, in Germany are 1.0%, Japan at 0.65%. In Denmark, banks will lend at a negative -0.50%. Yes, they will pay you to live in your house. But when you’re borrowing at -0.90% you can do that. Only China has higher interest rates, with an overnight at 4.60%. The irony runs deep.

Unsurprisingly, the Congressional Budget Office cut 0.3% off of its 2020 growth forecast and the US budget deficit will rise to a ruinous $1 trillion two years sooner than expected. Fading business investment and weakening consumer spending will be the problems. The trade war is also a drag. It’s funny how no one wants to spend in front of a recession.

“Mid Cycle Adjustment” is how the Fed described the last interest rates cut in minutes released on Wednesday. It makes further cuts less likely. So does a stock market trading 5% below all-time highs. They also mention the cut as an “insurance policy” not actually justified by the current economic data. Three weeks ago, the fed cut rates for the first time in a decade.

The Mad Hedge Trader Alert Service is posting its best month in two years. Some 22 of the last 23 round trips 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 334.61% and my year-to-date shot up to +34.47%. My ten-year average annualized profit bobbed up to +34.62%. 

I have coined a blockbuster 16.14% 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.

As long as the Volatility Index (VIX) stays above $20, deep-in-the-money options spreads are offering free money. I am now 80% invested, 60% long big tech and 20% short, with 20% in cash. It rarely gets this easy.

The coming week will be a snore on the data front. Believe it or not, it could be quiet, as we grind through the last week of the summer.

On Monday, August 26 at 8:30 AM, US Durable Goods for July are out.

On Tuesday, August 27 at 9:00 AM, we get a new S&P Case Shiller National Home Price Index for June

On Wednesday, August 28, at 10:30, we learn the EIA Crude Oil Stocks for the previous week.

On Thursday, August 29 at 8:30 AM, the Weekly Jobless Claims are printed. July Pending Home Sales are published at 10:00 AM.

On Friday, August 30 at 10:00 AM, the University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment is printed.

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

As for me, it will be a busy weekend with volunteer work at the Alameda Food Bank due and CPR training at the local fire department. I feel like I am getting my Eagle Scout rank all over again.

Good luck and good trading.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Time to Bring in the Heavy Guns

August 21, 2019

Global Market Comments
August 21, 2019
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:

(WHY YOU MIISED THE TECHNOLOGY BOOM AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT NOW),
(AAPL), (AMZN), (MSFT), (NVDA), (TSLA), (WFC), (FB)

July 26, 2019

Mad Hedge Technology Letter
July 26, 2019
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:

(WHY 3D PRINTING WILL BOOST THE AIRPLANE INDUSTRY),
(SSYS), (ETSY), (MSFT), (BA), (NFLX), (GE), (LMT)

Why 3D Printing Will Boost the Airplane Industry

If you need a new investment idea – here’s one.

3D printing.

Yes, the same 3D printing that was once considered a raging but hopeless fad.

A lot has changed since then.

Early adopters were largely cut down at the knees as they tried to traverse the rocky terrain from a niche market to going full out mainstream.

The teething pains echo bitcoin which was the fad of 2017, on the contrary, this technology it is built on is rock solid, yet the path to sustainability is littered with corpses.

Production complications and the lack of specialists in the industry meant that problems were rampant and nurturing an industry from scratch is harder than you think.

It is time to stand up and take notice of 3D printing, this time it is here to stay.

Certain tech companies love this technology.

Etsy (ETSY) e-commerce participants gravitate towards 3D printing because it gets firms from paper to the real world in a fraction of the time.

The cost of production doesn’t change whether you’re producing one item or a million because of the economies of scale.

The previous 3D printing bonanza was a frenzy and this corner of tech became known for the use of buzzwords representing the potential to reinvent the world.

With lofty expectations, there was a natural disappointment when outsiders understood growing pains were part of the critical evolution instead of a direct route to profits.

The initial goal was to democratize production which sounds eerily similar to bitcoins mantra of democratizing money.

The way to do this was to make it simple to produce whatever one wishes.

That would assume that the general public could pick up professional production 3D printing skills on arrival.

That was wishful thinking.

The truth was that applying 3D printers was time-draining and aggravating.

Issues cropped up like faulty first-generation hardware or software -problems that overwhelmed newbies.

Then if everything was going smoothly on that front, there was the larger issue of realizing it’s just a lot harder to design specific things than initially thought without a deep working knowledge of computer-aided software (CAD) design.

Most people know how to throw a football, but that doesn’t mean that most people can wake up one day in their pajamas and convince themselves they will be the next starting quarterback to lead an NFL team to the Super Bowl.

The high-quality 3D printing designs were reserved for authentic professionals that could put together complicated designs.

The move to compiling a comprehensive library will help spur on the 3D printing revolution while upping the foundational skill base.

Then there is the fact that 3D printing technology is a lot better now than it once was, and the printing technology has come down in price making it more affordable for the masses.

These trends will propel broad-based adoption and as the printing process standardizes, more products can rely on this technology from scratch.

The holy grail of 3D printing would be 3D printing on demand like Netflix (NFLX), but imagine this on-demand 3D printing would function to personalize a physical product on the spot.

Think of a hungry customer walking into a restaurant and not even looking at a menu because one sentence would be enough to trigger specific models in the database that could conjure up the design for the meal.

This would involve integrating artificial intelligence into 3D printing and the production process would quicken to minutes, even seconds.

At some point, crafting the perfect meal or designing a personalized Tuscan villa could take minutes.

The 3D printing industry is reaching an inflection point where the advancement of the technology, expertise, and an updated production process are brewing together at the perfect time.

The company at the forefront of this phenomenon is Stratasys (SSYS).

Stratasys produces in-office prototypes and direct digital manufacturing systems for automotive, aerospace, industrial, recreational, electronic, medical and consumer products.

And when I talk about real pros who have the intellectual property to whip out a complex CAD-based 3D design, I am specifically talking about Stratasys who have been in this business since the industry was in infancy.

And if you add in the integration of cloud software, 3D printing would dovetail nicely with it.

All the elements are in place to fuel this industry into the mainstream.

Take for example airplanes made by Boeing (BA) and Airbus, 3D printer-designed parts comprise only 0.1% of the actual plane now.

It is estimated that 3D printed design parts could consist up to 20% of the overall plane.

These massive airline manufacturers like Boeing (BA) have profit margins of around 15% to 20%, and carving out more 3D printer-designed parts to integrate into the main design will boost profit margins to up to 50%.

The development of the 3D printing process into aerospace technology is happening fast with Boeing inking a five-year collaboration agreement with Swiss technology and engineering group Oerlikon to develop standard processes and materials for metal 3D printing.

Any combat pilot knows who Oerlikon is because they are famed for building ultra-highspeed machines to shoot down, you guessed it, airplanes and missiles.

They will collaborate to use the data resulting from their agreement to support the creation of a standard titanium 3D printing processes.

Only last November, GE announced that GE’s Aviation’s GEnx-2B aircraft engine for the Boeing 747-8 will apply a 3D printed bracket approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for the engine, replacing a traditionally manufactured power door opening system (PDOS) bracket.

With the positive revelations that the (FAA) is supporting the adoption of 3D printing-based designs, GE is preparing to begin imminent mass production of the 3D printed brackets at its Auburn, Alabama facility.

Eric Gatlin, general manager of GE Aviation’s additive integrated product team gushed that “It’s the first project we took from design to production in less than ten months.”

Defense companies are also dipping their toe into the water with aerospace company Lockheed Martin (LMT), the world’s largest defense contractor, winning a $5.8 million contract with the Office of Naval Research to help further develop 3D printing for the aerospace industry.

They will partner up to investigate the use of artificial intelligence in training robots to independently oversee the 3D printing of complex aerospace components.

3D printed designs have the potential to crash the cost of making big-ticket items from cars to nuclear plants while substantially shortening the manufacturing process.

Further emphasis on cornering the North America aerospace market could cement this stock as a no-brainer buy of 2019 as the (FAA) embraces more of the technology opening up the addressable market for the active participants.

As it stands, Stratasys is the industry leader in this field, and placing best of breed tech companies into your portfolio will put you in better position to weather the squalls of the capricious tech sector.

The company is still relatively unknown even though it has been around for ages.

Stratasys is a company to put on your radar and remember this space as the 3D printing market blossoms.

It’s nonetheless still a speculative punt but a compelling part of the tech industry.