Posts

October 1, 2019

Global Market Comments
October 1, 2019
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:

(LAUNCHING THE NEW MAD HEDGE BIOTECH AND HEALTHCARE LETTER)
(THE NEW AI BOOK THAT INVESTORS ARE SCRAMBLING FOR),
(GOOG), (FB), (AMZN), MSFT), (BABA), (BIDU),
(TENCENT), (TSLA), (NVDA), (AMD), (MU), (LRCX)

September 10, 2019

Global Market Comments
September 10, 2019
Fiat Lux

SPECIAL ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE ISSUE

Featured Trade:
(NEW PLAYS IN ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE),
(NVDA), (AMD), (ADI), (AMAT), (AVGO), (CRUS),
 (CY), (INTC), (LRCX), (MU), (TSM)

New Plays in Artificial Intelligence

It’s been three years since I published my first Special Report on artificial intelligence and urged readers to buy the processor maker NVIDIA (NVDA) at $68.80.

The stock quadrupled, readers are understandably asking me for my next act in the sector.

The good news is that I have one.

For a start, you could go out and buy NVIDIA again.

With an explosive 50% annual earnings growth, a near-monopoly in super fast processors, and a huge lead over the competition, I think there is another double in the shares that could take the price up to a stratospheric $300. Its newest super-fast graphics card, the Turing, promises to be a real barn burner and dominate the industry yet again.

But I can do better than that.

The good news if you are new to this sector is that the entire AI space has started to broaden out to offer a host of investment opportunities beyond the tiny handful I first mentioned in 2016.

These include legacy chipmakers, survivors of the great Dotcom bust, whose shares have barely moved in years.

Yes, there is such a thing as a cheap AI stock. To find out who they are, read on.

The reason for the expansion of the AI sector is that practically overnight these ultra-sophisticated algorithms have become essential to any company that wants to survive in online commerce or stay in business….period.

Those of us who have been in this business for more than 15 minutes have seen this pattern before, and the resulting impact on share prices: the Boeing 707, the personal computer, Windows, the Internet, and the smart cell phone.

AI is everywhere.

In the old days, visiting a website and window-shopping their products was easy. You just clicked around a few times and then moved on to the next site.

Now if you click on a product once, that site will follow you around relentlessly for months, appearing in the margins of your emails, offering you endless discounts and special deals.

I bought a Dell computer six months ago, and it is still pounding away at me with better offers. I feel like such a dummy buying a machine at the first price asked.

That is all AI.

The auto industry is now a major growth industry for AI. Even a simple garden-variety vehicle needs 100 chips just to operate.

The gull-wing doors on my new Tesla Model X each has its own learning program. They never open the same way twice.

In fact, when I first picked up the car last year, the salesman warned by saying it would be “stupid” for the first 3,000 miles.

It had to “learn” how to drive before I let it attempt any sophisticated self-driving maneuvers, like backing into a parking space on a crowded street.

I let it park itself in my garage now. I have only had a heart attack once.

With US annual auto production at 16.7 million units annualized, and global car and commercial vehicle production at a record 94.64 million, that is a lot of processors.

I have been covering Silicon Valley since it was a verdant, sun-kissed peach orchard in Northern California.

I have to say that in the half-century that I have followed the technology industry, I have never seen the principals, gurus, and visionaries so excited about a major new trend like AI.

Asking if AI is relevant now is like pondering the future of Thomas Edison’s new electricity invention in 1890.

If you think that AI still belongs in the realm of science fiction, you obviously didn’t get the memo. It is all around us all the time, 24/7. You just don’t know it yet.

And here’s the rub.

It is impossible to invest purely in AI.

All-new AI startups comprise small teams of experts from private labs and universities financed by big venture capital firms like Sequoia Capital, Kleiner Perkins, and Andreeson Horowitz.

After developing software for a year or two, they are sold on to major technology firms at huge premiums. They never see the light of day in the form of a public listing.

Alphabet (GOOGL) acquired Britain-based Deep Mind in 2014. Later that year, Google’s AlphaGo program defeated the world’s top-ranked Go player.

In 2016, Microsoft (MSFT) purchased Equivio, a small firm that applies AI to advanced document searches on the Internet.

Amazon (AMZN) recently bought out Orbeus, a startup known for machine learning tools for image recognition.

Amazon’s Jeff Bezos now says that his Amazon Fresh home food delivery service is using AI to grade strawberries.

Really!

We’re not talking small potatoes here.

The global artificial intelligence market is expected to grow at an annual rate of 44.3% a year to $23.5 billion by 2025.

Nearly half of all applications now use some form of AI that by 2020 will earn businesses an extra $60 billion a year in profits.

And from what I have learned from speaking to the major players over the last few weeks, I am convinced that these are low numbers by an order of magnitude.

I have been following developments in artificial intelligence since the 1960s.

There were those feeble computer dating attempts in the early seventies where we all had to prepare IBM punch cards.

I was matched with an annoyingly aggressive bleach blonde real estate agent. (Really?). Her only real qualification was that she was female.

It took decades and tens of thousands of programming man-hours before IBM’s Deep Blue could become a chess grandmaster in 1996, defeating Gary Kasparov.

Big Blue’s latest effort came to us with Watson in 2007, an 85,000-watt behemoth with 90 servers and 15 terabytes of data, or three quarters of the content of the entire Library of Congress.

The machine can read a staggering 1 million books a second. IBM has so far poured $15 billion into the project.

In 2011, Watson defeated the top-rated Jeopardy game show contestant by answering the question “What city’s national museum lost the “Lion of Nimrod.” The answer was “What is Baghdad” (I knew that!).

Today, Watson is on loan to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where it has been deployed to cure cancer.

It took scientists a week to teach Watson how to read medical literature. In the second week, it read every paper published on cancer, some 25 million.

By the third week, it was proposing customized cures for advanced cancer patients, which achieved a 33% success rate.

After all, it can read all of the 8,000 cancer papers that are published every day from around the world IN SECONDS!

Scientists say that Watson has so far reached only 1% of its true potential.

It gets better than that.

A clinic can now biopsy your tumor, sequence its DNA, design a custom protein that will target and destroy your personal tumor, mass-produce it, inject it in your tumor, and cure you of cancer in a month.

This is being done with human volunteers in clinical trials NOW.

Expect this procedure to go retail and be made available to you in about five years. And by that, I mean cheap, locally available, and covered by your health insurance policy.

I believe that Watson and its future offspring will cure the major human maladies within a decade. My generation will probably be the last to suffer serious disease.

It isn’t just Watson that will take us the great leap forward in computing. By 2020, you will be able to buy a low-end laptop for $500 that can hold ALL KNOWLEDGE ACCUMULATED IN HUMAN HISTORY!

They better hurry. That body of knowledge is doubling every 18 months!

It is a key part of my argument that the US will enjoy a Golden Age and see a return of the “Roaring Twenties” during the 2020s.

If you have in any way been involved in the stock market for the past five years, AI has invaded your life.

High frequency trading and hedge funds now account for 70% of the daily trading volume on the major stock exchanges, and almost all of this is AI-driven.

Having spent my entire life trading stocks, I can confirm that in recent years the market’s character has dramatically changed, and not for the better. Call it trading untouched by human hands.

Algorithms are trading against algorithms, and whoever wins the nuclear arms race brings home the big bucks.

You used to need degrees in Finance and Economics, or perhaps an MBA, to become a professional fund manager. Now it’s a Ph.D. in Computer Science.

Remember the May 2010 flash crash when the Dow Average plunged 1,100 points in minutes wiping out $4.1 billion in equity value? AI’s fingerprints were all over that.

In 2016, the British pound lost 6% of its value in a mere two minutes, a move unprecedented in the history of foreign exchange markets. The culprit was AI.

Don’t expect the path forward to AI to be an easy one.

Indeed, the machines already have the power of life and death over all of us.

No less figures than Nobel Prize winner Dr. Stephen Hawking and Tesla’s Elon Musk have warned that computers and the Internet may have the power to pose a threat to human existence within a decade.

They are especially concerned about the militarization of powerful robots, something I know the US Defense Department is hell-bent on developing.

As I write this, the only thing preventing a drone attacking a village in Afghanistan is an Army corporal hitting a red button on a console in Nevada.

In the future, antivirus software won’t be needed to protect your computer. It will be essential to protect you FROM your computer.

You know that massive denial of service attack that hit the United States on October 21, 2016?

I asked one of my friends at security giant Palo Alto Networks (PANW) if it was the Russians again. He replied, “You better hope it’s the Russians.”

The implication is that the Internet may have launched the attack itself.

Now, about that stock recommendation.

Since we aren’t venture capitalists, we can’t buy into pure AI firms in their early stages. And I’m too old to get a Ph.D. in computer science.

We, therefore, have to be sneaky and get in through the back door via an indirect play which still has plenty of upside leverage.

My current favorite among the AI alternative stocks is Advanced Micro Devices (AMD).

If Intel only piques your appetite for AI stocks and you feel you need another serving, I have listed below ten names that will benefit mightily from this once-a-century opportunity.

AI Stock to BUY

Advanced Micro Devices (AMD)
Analogue Devices Communication (ADI)
Applied Materials (AMAT)
Broadcom (AVGO)
Cirrus Logic (CRUS)
Cypress Semiconductor (CY)
Intel (INTC)
Lam Research (LRCX)
Micron Technology (MU)
Taiwan Semiconductor (TSM)

If you’re really lazy, you can just buy a basket of semiconductor stocks through an industry-specific ETF.

The largest is the VanEck Vectors Semiconductor ETF (SMH), with $1.3 billion in assets under management. For a prospectus on the fund, please click here.

Or you could just stick with NVIDIA.

No matter how you want to slice and dice it, AI should be a dominant factor in your IRA, 401k, or benefit plan.

And you are a trader by nature, this will be a great sector to trade around.

As for your computer, you better start leaving it unplugged at night.

You never know.

 

 

 

 

 

 

She’s Smarter Than You Think

August 23, 2019

Global Market Comments
August 23, 2019
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:

(AUGUST 21 BIWEEKLY STRATEGY WEBINAR Q&A),
(FXB), (NVDA), (MU), (LRCX), (AMD),
 (WFC), (JPM), (BIDU), (GE), (TLT), (BA)

August 21 Biweekly Strategy Webinar Q&A

Below please find subscribers’ Q&A for the Mad Hedge Fund Trader August 21 Global Strategy Webinar broadcast with my guest and co-host Bill Davis of the Mad Day Trader. Keep those questions coming!

Q: Hey Bill, how often have you heard the word “recession” in the last 24 hours?

A: Seems like every time I turn around. But then we’re also getting a pop in the market; we thought it bottomed a few days ago. The question was: how far were we going to get to bounce? This is going to be very telling as to what happens on this next rally.

Q: Can interest rates go lower?

A: Yes, they can go a lot lower. The general consensus in the US is that we bottom them out somewhere between zero and 1.0%. We’re already way below that in Europe, so we will see lower here in the US. It’s all happening because QE (quantitative easing) is ramping up on a global basis. Europe is about to announce a major QE program in the beginning of September, and the US ended their quantitative tightening way back in March. So, the global flooding of money from central banks, now at $17 trillion, is about to increase even more. That’s what’s causing these huge dislocations in the bond market.

Q: If we’re having trouble getting into trades, should we chase or not?

A: Never chase. Leave your limit in there at a price you’re happy with. Often times, you’ll get done at the end of the day when the high frequency traders cash out all their positions. They will artificially push up our trade alert prices during the day and take them right back down at the end of the day because they have to go 100% cash by the close of each day—they never carry overnight positions. That’s becoming a common way that people get filled on our Trade Alerts.

Q: Will Boris Johnson get kicked out before the hard Brexit occurs?

A: Probably, yes. I’m hoping for it, anyway. What may happen is Parliament forcing a vote on any hard Brexit. If that happens, it will lose, the prime minister will have to resign, and they’ll get a new prime minister. Labor is now campaigning on putting Brexit up to a vote one more time, and just demographic change alone over the last four years means that Brexit will lose in a landslide. That would pull England out of the last 4 years of indecision, torture, and economic funk. If that happens, expect British stock markets to soar and the pound (FXB) to go up, from $1.17 all the way back up to $1.65, where it was before the whole Brexit disaster took place.

Q: Is the US central bank turning into Japan?

A: Yes. If we go to zero rates and zero growth and recession happens, there’s no way to get out of it; and that is the exact situation Japan has been in. For 30 years they have had zero rates, and it’s done absolutely nothing to stimulate their economy or corporate profits. The question then—and one someone might ask Washington—is: why pursue a policy that’s already been proven unsuccessful in every country it’s been tried in?

Q: Will US household debt become a problem if there is a sharp recession?

A: Yes, that’s always a problem in recessions. It’s a major reason why financials have been in a freefall because default rates are about to rise substantially.

Q: Given the big spike in earnings in NVIDIA (NVDA), what now for the stock?

A:  Wait for a 10% dip and buy it. This stock has triple in it over the next 3 years. You want to get into all the chip stocks like this, such as Micron Technology (MU), Lam Research (LRCX), and Advanced Micro Devices (AMD).

Q:  Baidu (BIDU) has risen in earnings, with management saying the worst is over. Is this reality or is this a red herring?

A: I vote for A red herring. There’s no way the worst is over, unless the management of Baidu knows something we don’t about Chinese intentions.

Q: When will Wells Fargo (WFC) be out of the woods?

A: I hate the sector so I’m really not desperate to reach for marginal financials that I have to get into. If I do want to get into financials, it will be in JP Morgan (JPM), one of my favorites. The whole sector is getting slaughtered by low interest rates.

Q: Any idea when the trade war will end?

A: Yes, after the next presidential election. It’s not as if the Chinese are negotiating in bad faith here, they just have no idea how to deal with a United States that changes its position every day. It’s like negotiating with a piece of Jell-O, you can’t nail it down. At this point the Chinese have thrown their hands up and think they can get a better deal out of the next president.

Q: Would you short General Electric (GE) or wait for another bump up to short it?

A: I would wait for a bump. Obviously—with the latest accounting scandal, which compares (GE) with Enron and WorldCom—I don’t want to get involved with the stock. And we could get new lows once the facts of the case come out. There are too many better fish to fry, like in technology, so I would stay away from (GE).

Q: How do you put stop losses on your trade?

A: It’s a confluence of fundamentals and technicals. Obviously, we’re looking at key support levels on the charts; if those fail then we stop out of there. That doesn’t happen very often, maybe on 10% of our trades (and more recently even less than that). Our latest stop loss was on the (TLT) short. That was our biggest loss of the year but thank goodness we got out of that, because after we stopped out at $138 it went all the way to $146, so that’s why you do stop losses.

Q: How about putting on a (TLT) short now?

A: No, I think we’re going to new highs on (TLT) and new lows on interest rates. We’re just going through a temporary digestion period now. We’ll challenge the lows in rates and highs in prices once again, and you don’t want to be short when that happens. The liquidity is getting so bad in the bond market, you’re getting these gigantic gaps as a global buy panic in bonds continues.

Q: Do you have thoughts on what Fed Governor Powell may say in Jackson Hole, and any market reaction?

A: I have no idea what he might say, but he seems to be trying to walk a tightrope between presidential attacks and economic reality. With the stock market 3% short of an all-time high, I’m not sure how much of a hurry he will be in to lower interest rates. The Fed is usually behind the curve, lowering rates in response to a weak economy, and I’m not sure the actual data is weak enough yet for them to lower. The Fed never anticipates potential weakness (at least until the last raise) so we shall see. But we may have little volatility for the rest of the week and then a big move on Friday, depending on what he says.

Q: What is your take on the short term 6-18 months in residential real estate? Are Chinese tariffs and recession fears already priced in or will prices continue to drop?

A: Prices will continue to drop but not to the extent that we saw in ‘08 and ‘09 when prices dropped by 50, 60, 70% in the worst markets like Florida, Las Vegas, and Arizona. The reason for that is you have a chronic structural shortage in housing. All the home builders that went bankrupt in the last crash has resulted in a shortage, and you also have an immense generation of Millennials trying to buy homes now who’ve been shut out by higher interest rates and who may be coming back in. So, I’m not expecting anything remotely resembling a crash in real estate, just a slowdown. And new homes are actually not falling at all. That’s because the builders are deliberately restraining supply there.

Q: What is a good LEAP to put on now?

A: There aren’t any. We’re somewhat in the middle of a wider, longer-term range, and I want to wait until we get to the bottom of that; when people are jumping out of windows—that’s when you want to start putting on your long term LEAPS (long term equity anticipation securities), and when you get the biggest returns. We may get a shot at that sometime in the next month or two before a year in rally begins. If you held a gun to my head and told me I had to buy a leap, it would probably be in Boeing (BA), which is down 35% from its high.

 

 

 

 

 

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)

August 5, 2019

Mad Hedge Technology Letter
August 5, 2019
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:

(THE CHINA TARIFF BOMBSHELL AND TECHNOLOGY),
(AAPL), (NVDA), (INTC), (MU), (WDC), (BBY)

The China Tariff Bombshell and Technology

With one little tweet, the state of technology and the companies that rely on the public markets that serve them went haywire.

U.S. President Donald Trump levied another 10% on the $300 billion that had not been tariffed up yet compounding the misery for anyone who has any vested interest in trade with mainland China.

The tariffs will take effect on September 1st.

How does this shake out for American technology?

Any brand tech name that has substantial supply chain operations can kiss their stay in the Middle Kingdom goodbye.

If management didn’t understand that before, then it’s clear as night that they need to shift their supply chain out of the reaches of the Chinese communist party.

The U.S. Administration tripling down on China being our archnemesis means that any sort of cross-border economic trade or cultural exchange will be viewed through the prism of warped geopolitics.

The U.S. President Donald Trump has in fact taken a page out of the Chinese playbook turning everything he sees and touches into a transactional tool for what he is pursuing at the time or in the future.

Specific companies facing the wrath of the tariffs are companies as conspicuous as Apple filtering down to the SMEs that make local business local.

Semiconductor chips are a huge loser in this new development as the price of electronic goods will rise with the tariffs.

If you want a name that lies in the heart of electronic consumer goods, then BestBuy (BBY) would encapsulate this thesis and unsurprisingly they were taken out to the back of the woodshed and taught a lesson dropping 10% on the news.

Any technology outfit that imports goods from China will be hit as well and this means semiconductor chips along the lines of Nvidia (NVDA), Intel (INTC), Western Digital (WDC) and Micron (MU) among others.

Chips are the meat and bones that go into end products like iPads and a slew of smart devices.

Demand will be hit because of the cost of producing these types of consumer products will rise.

The softness is showing up in the numbers with Apple’s iPhone revenue down 12% year-over-year.

Samsung of Korea also showed that this isn’t just an American problem with their semiconductor division’s operating profits down 71% year-over-year.

The Korean conglomerate is in a spat with the Japanese government over war crimes from the second world war causing the Japanese government to bottleneck the supply of chemicals needed to produce high-level semiconductor chips.

The export restriction will drag down SK Hynix display business who is one of the largest producers of DRAM chips and also a Korean company.

Consumers are also using their phones longer with Apple iPhone customers holding their device up to 4 years delaying the refresh cycle.

The company that Steve Jobs built will have to repurpose themselves for a brave new tech landscape that includes heavier regulation, trade tariffs, and device saturation.

When investors talk about the “low hanging fruit,” at this point, Apple isn’t one of them.

And if you think the services business is a cakewalk, ponder about how many apps and behemoths that spit out a whole lineup of apps.

Apple still has its ecosystem and should guard it with its life, this is the same ecosystem that can charge Google around $10 billion per year to slap on Google search as the primary search engine on Apple devices.

Expect tech to telegraph a deceleration in revenue for the last quarter and next year.

The tech environment is brittle at this point and uncertainty wafts in the air like a hot stack of pancakes.

 

 

July 16, 2019

Global Market Comments
July 16, 2019
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:

(THE BIGGEST TELL IN THE MARKET RIGHT NOW),
(GOOGL), (FRC), (PINS), (WORK), (UBER),
 (ADSK), (WDAY), (SNE), (NVDA), (MSFT),
(POPULATION BOMB ECHOES),
(CORN), (WEAT), (SOYB), (DBA), (MOS)

The Biggest “Tell” in the Market Right Now

I am constantly looking for “tells” in the market, little nuggets of information that no one else notices, but gives me a huge trading advantage.

Well, there is a big one out there right now. San Francisco commercial real estate prices are going through the roof, smashing new all-time records on a monthly, if not weekly, basis.

The message for you traders is loud and clear. You should be picking up the highest quality technology growth stocks on every dip for they all know some things that you don’t. Their businesses are about to triple, if not quadruple, over the coming decade.

Technology stocks, which now account for 26% of stock market capitalization, will make up more than half of the market within ten years, much of that through stock price appreciation. And they are all racing to lock up the office space with which to do that….now.

San Francisco office rents reached a record in June as the continued growth of tech — now turbocharged by nearly $100 billion in new capital raised in a series of initial public offerings — met a severe space crunch.

Asking rents rose to a staggering $84.16 per square foot annually for the newest and highest quality offices in the central business district and citywide asking rents for such spaces known as Class A are up over 9% from the prior year. The citywide office vacancy rate was 5.5% in June, down from 7.4% a year ago.

Demand shows no sign of stopping. Brokerage CBRE reported around 20 large tenants are seeking more space. Google and Facebook each want to lease as much as 1 million square feet in additional San Francisco office space — room for more than 6,500 employees.

Google (GOOGL) confirmed on Tuesday that it recently signed an office lease at the Ferry Building, its fifth expansion since 2018.

First Republic Bank (FRC) signed the biggest lease of the second quarter. It expanded by 265,000 square feet at 1 Front St. Financial firms and companies in other sectors continue to scrap with tech companies for space.

What’s the tech connection here? The bank’s expansion is fueled largely by the rise of tech. Its clients include wealthy tech employees, and it could benefit from the wave of local stock-market debuts — an example of how the booming tech sector also lifts the financial sector.

In addition, local Bay Area home prices could get a turbocharger by the fall when restrictions on stock sales expire for some companies that went public in the spring.

San Francisco companies that have gone public continue to grow by leaps and bounds. Pinterest (PINS), Slack (WORK), and Uber (UBER) also signed office leases this year with room for thousands of new employees.

Tech companies Autodesk (ADSK) and Glassdoor also signed deals at 50 Beale St. in the spring. In a sign of the city’s rapidly changing economy, old line construction firm Bechtel and Blue Shield, the legacy health insurer, are both moving out of 50 Beale St. Sensor maker Samsara, software firm Workday (WDAY), and Sony’s (SNE) PlayStation video game division also expanded.

Globally, San Francisco has the seventh-highest rents in prime buildings. It’s still behind financial powerhouses Hong Kong, London, New York, Beijing, Tokyo and New Delhi (San Francisco’s average office rents beat out New York.)

Downtown San Francisco’s office costs in top buildings, including service charges and taxes, are $130 per square foot, while Hong Kong’s Central district is the world’s highest at $322 per square foot.

Only a handful of new office projects are being built, and future supply is further constrained by San Francisco’s Proposition M which limits the amount of office space that can be approved each year. That is creating a steadily worsening structural shortage. Only two large office projects are under construction without tenant commitments.

Which tech stocks should you be picking up now? NVIDIA (NVDA) has recently suffered a major haircut, thanks to the trade war with China. Microsoft (MSFT) seems hellbent on making its way from $140 to $200 a share due to its massive expansion into the cloud.

 

 

Suddenly, it’s Getting Crowded in San Francisco