Posts

October 8, 2019

Global Market Comments
October 8, 2019
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:

(HOW TO GAIN AN ADVANTAGE WITH PARALLEL TRADING),
(GM), (F), (TM), (NSANY), (DDAIF), BMW (BMWYY), (VWAPY),
(PALL), (GS), (RSX), (EZA), (CAT), (CMI), (KMTUY),
(KODK), (SLV), (AAPL),

How to Gain an Advantage with Parallel Trading

One of the most fascinating things I learned when I first joined the equity trading desk at Morgan Stanley during the early 1980s was how to parallel trade.

A customer order would come in to buy a million shares of General Motors (GM) and what did the in-house proprietary trading book do immediately?

It loaded the boat with the shares of Ford Motors (F).

When I asked about this tactic, I was taken away to a quiet corner of the office and read the riot act.

“This is how you legally front run a customer,” I was told.

Buy (GM) in front of a customer order, and you will find yourself in Sing Sing shortly.

Ford (F), Toyota (TM), Nissan (NSANY), Daimler Benz (DDAIF), BMW (BMWYY), or Volkswagen (VWAPY), are no problem.

The logic here was very simple.

Perhaps the client completed an exhaustive piece of research concluding that (GM) earnings were about to rise.

Or maybe a client old boy network picked up some valuable insider information.

(GM) doesn’t do business in isolation. It has tens of thousands of parts suppliers for a start. While whatever is good for (GM) is good for America, it is GREAT for the auto industry.

So through buying (F) on the back of a (GM) might not only match the (GM) share performance, it might even exceed it.

This is known as a Primary Parallel Trade.

This understanding led me on a lifelong quest to understand Cross Asset Class Correlations, which continues to this day.

Whenever you buy one thing, you buy another related thing as well, which might do considerably better.

I eventually made friends with a senior trader at Salomon Brothers while they were attempting to recruit me to run their Japanese desk.

I asked if this kind of legal front running happened on their desk.

“Absolutely,” he responded. But he then took Cross Asset Class Correlations to a whole new level for me.

Not only did Salomons buy (F) in that situation, they also bought palladium (PALL).

I was puzzled. Why palladium?

Because palladium is the principal metal used in catalytic converters, which remove toxic emissions from car exhaust, and have been required for every U.S. manufactured car since 1975.

Lots of car sales, which the (GM) buying implied, ALSO meant lots of palladium buying.

And here’s the sweetener.

Palladium trading is relatively illiquid.

So, if you catch a surge in the price of this white metal, you would earn a multiple of what you would make on your boring old parallel (F) trade.

This is known in the trade as a Secondary Parallel Trade.

A few months later, Morgan Stanley sent me to an investment conference to represent the firm.

I was having lunch with a trader at Goldman Sachs (GS) who would later become a famous hedge fund manager and asked him about the (GM)-(F)-(PALL) trade.

He said I would be an IDIOT not to take advantage of such correlations. Then he one-upped me.

You can do a Tertiary Parallel Trade here through buying mining equipment companies such as Caterpillar (CAT), Cummins (CMI), and Komatsu (KMTUY).

Since this guy was one of the smartest traders I ever ran into, I asked him if there was such a thing as a Quaternary Parallel Trade.

He answered “Abso******lutely,” as was his way.

But the first thing he always did when searching for Quaternary Parallel Trades would be to buy the country ETF for the world’s largest supplier of the commodity in question.

In the case of palladium, that would be Russia (RSX) followed by South Africa (EZA), which together account for 74% of the world’s total production.

Since then, I have discovered hundreds of what I call Parallel Trading Chains, and have been actively making money off of them. So have you, you just haven’t realized it yet.

I could go on and on.

If you ever become puzzled or confused about a trade alert I am sending out (Why on earth is he doing THAT?), there is often a parallel trade in play.

Do this for decades as I have and you learn that some parallel trades break down and die. The cross relationships no longer function.

The best example I can think of is the photography/silver connection. When the photography business was booming, silver prices rose smartly.

Digital photography wiped out this trade, and silver-based film development is still only used by a handful of professionals and hobbyists.

Oh, and Eastman Kodak (KODK) went bankrupt in 2012.

However, it seems that whenever one Parallel Trading Chain disappears, many more replace it.

You could build chains a mile long simply based on how well Apple (AAPL) is doing.

And guess what? There is a new parallel trade in silver developing. For whenever someone builds a solar panel anywhere in the world, they are using a small amount of silver for the wiring. Build several tens of millions of solar panels and that can add up to quite a lot of silver.

What goes around comes around.

Suffice it to say that parallel trading is an incredibly useful trading strategy.

Ignore it at your peril.

 

 

 

October 7, 2019

Global Market Comments
October 7, 2019
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:

(MARKET OUTLOOK FOR THE WEEK AHEAD, or WILL HE OR WON’T HE?)
(INDU), (USO), (TM), (SCHW), (AMTD), (ETFC), (SPY), (IWM), (USO), (WMT), (AAPL), (GOOGL), (SPY), (C)

The Market Outlook for the Week Ahead, or Will He, or Won’t He?

Once again, the markets are playing out like a cheap Saturday afternoon matinee. We are sitting on the edge of our seats wondering if our hero will triumph or perish.

The same can be said about financial markets this week. Will a trade deal finally get inked and prompt the Dow Average to soar 2,000 points? Or will they fail once again, delivering a 2,000-point swan dive?

I vote for the latter, then the former.

Still, I saw this rally coming a mile off as the Trump put option kicked in big time. That’s why I piled on an aggressive 60% long position right at last week’s low. Carpe Diem. Seize the Day. Only the bold are rewarded.

Or as Britain’s SAS would say, “Who dares, wins.”

It takes a lot of cajones to trade a market that hasn’t moved in two years, let alone take in a 55% profit during that time. But you didn’t hire me to sit on my hands, play scared, and catch up on my Shakespeare.

I think markets will eventually hit new all-time highs sometime this year. The game is to see how low you can get in before that happens without getting your head handed to you first.

Last week saw seriously dueling narratives. The economic data couldn’t be worse, pointing firmly towards a recession. But the administration went into full blown “jawbone” mode, talking up the rosy prospects of an imminent China trade deal at every turn.

This was all against a Ukraine scandal that reeled wildly out of control by the day. Is there a country that Trump DIDN’T ask for assistance in his reelection campaign? Now we know why the president was at the United Nations last week.

The September Nonfarm Payroll Report came in at a weakish 136,000, with the Headline Unemployment rate at 3.5%, a new 50-year low.

Average hourly earnings fell. Apparently, it is easy to get a job but impossible to get a pay raise. July and August were revised up by 45,000 jobs.

Healthcare was up by 39,000 and Professional and Business Services 34,000. Manufacturing fell by 2,000 and retail by 11,0000. The U-6 “discouraged worker” long term unemployment rate is at 6.9%.

The US Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index collapsed in August from 49.7 to 47.9, triggering a 400-point dive in the Dow average. This is the worst report since 2009. Manufacturing, some 11% of the US economy, is clearly in recession, thanks to the trade war-induced loss of foreign markets. A strong dollar that overprices our goods doesn’t help either.

The Services PMI Hit a three-year low, from 53.1 to 50.4, with almost all economic data points now shouting “recession.” The only question is whether it will be shallow or deep. I vote for the former.

Consumer Spending was flat in August. That’s a big problem since the average Joe is now the sole factor driving the economy. Everything else is pulling back. Consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity, edged up 0.1% last month as an increase in outlays on recreational goods and motor vehicles was offset by a decrease in spending at restaurants and hotels.

The Transports, a classic leading sector for the market, have been delivering horrific price action this year giving up all of its gains relative to the S&P 500 since the 2009 crash.

Oil (USO) got crushed on recession fears, down a stunning 19.68% in three weeks. The global supply glut continues. Over production and fading demand is not a great formula for prices.

Toyota Auto Sales (TM) cratered by 16.5% in September, to 169,356 vehicles in another pre-recession indicator. It’s the worst month since January during a normally strong time of the year. The deals out there now are incredible.

Online Brokerage stocks were demolished on the Charles Schwab (SCHW) move to cut brokerage fees to zero. TD Ameritrade (AMTD) followed the next day and was spanked for 23%, and E*TRADE (ETFC) punched for 17. These are cataclysmic one0-day stock moves and signal the end of traditional stock brokerage.

The Mad Hedge Trader Alert Service has blasted through to yet another new all-time high. My Global Trading Dispatch reached new apex of 341.86% and my year-to-date accelerated to +41.72%. The tricky and volatile month of October started out with a roar +5.40%. My ten-year average annualized profit bobbed up to +35.06%. 

Some 26 out of the last 27 trade alerts have made money, a success rate of 96.29%! Under promise and over deliver, that’s the business I have been in all my life. It works.

I used the recession-induced selloff since October 1 to pile on a large aggressive short dated portfolio. I am 60% long with the (SPY), (IWM), (USO), (WMT), (AAPL), and (GOOGL). I am 20% short with positions in the (SPY) and (C), giving me a net risk position of 40% long.

The coming week is all about the September jobs reports. It seems like we just went through those.

On Monday, October 7 at 9:00 AM, the US Consumer Credit figures for August are out.

On Tuesday, October 8 at 6:00 AM, the NFIB Business Optimism Index is released.

On Wednesday, October 9, at 2:00 PM, we learn the Fed FOMC Minutes from the September meeting.

On Thursday, October 10 at 8:30 AM, the US Inflation Rate is published. US-China trade talks may, or may not resume.

On Friday, October 11 at 8:30 AM, the University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment for October is announced.

The Baker Hughes Rig Count is released at 2:00 PM.

As for me, I’m still recovering from running a swimming merit badge class for 60 kids last weekend. Some who showed up couldn’t swim, while others arrived with no swim suits, prompting a quick foray into the lost and found.

One kid jumped in and went straight to the bottom, prompting an urgent rescue. Another was floundering after 15 yards. When I pulled him out and sent him to the dressing room, he started crying, saying his dad would be mad. I replied, “Your dad will be madder if you drown.”

I never felt so needed in my life.

Good luck and good trading.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

August 6, 2019

Global Market Comments
August 6, 2019
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:
(I HAVE AN OPENING FOR THE MAD HEDGE FUND TRADER CONCIERGE SERVICE),

(DON’T MISS THE AUGUST 7 GLOBAL STRATEGY WEBINAR),
(HAVE WE SEEN “PEAK AUTO SALES”),
(GM), (TM), (F), (HMC), (TSLA), (NSANY), 

Have We Seen “Peak Auto Sales”?

There is no limit to my desire to get an early and accurate read on the US economy, which at the end of the day is what dictates the future returns on our investments.

I flew over one of my favorite leading economic indicators only last week.

Honda (HMC) and Nissan (NSANY) import millions of cars each year through their Benicia, California facilities where they are loaded on to hundreds of rail cars for shipment to points inland as far as Chicago.

In 2009, when the US car market shrank to an annualized 8.5 million units, I flew over the site and it was choked with thousands of cars parked bumper to bumper in their white plastic wrappings, rusting in the blazing sun and bereft of buyers.

Then, “cash for clunkers” hit (remember that?). The lots were emptied in a matter of weeks, with mile-long trains lumbering inland, only stopping to add extra engines to get over the High Sierras at Donner Pass. The stock market took off like a rocket, with the auto companies leading.

I flew over the site last weekend, and guess what? The lots are full again. Not only that, the trains lined up to take them away are gone. US Auto Sales peaked in October 2017 when they fell just short of a 19 million annualized rate. As of the end of June this year, they had fallen to a 15.1 million annualized rate. July is looking worse still.

And this is what I’m worried about. Auto Sales may not only be peaking for this economic cycle. They may be peaking for all time.

This is my logic.

As they slowly age, Millennials are about to become the principal buyers of automobiles. The problem is that Millennials are purchasing cars at a far slower rate than previous generations.

This is because they have a much higher concentration in urban areas where the cost of car ownership is the most expensive in history. $40 for parking for an evening? Give me a break. But good luck finding free on-street parking, and if you do, your windows will probably get smashed.

In cities like San Francisco, public transportation, bicycles, and electric scooters are the preferred mode of transportation.

It doesn’t help that this generation is shouldering the burden of the bulk of $1.5 trillion in student loan debt. When you owe $2,000 a month in interest, there is little room for a car payment, and you probably don’t have the credit rating to buy a car anyway.

When they do buy cars, all-electric is their first choice, if they can get access to overnight charging. A lot of companies are making this easy by offering free charging for electric commuters in corporate parking lots. This explains why Tesla (TSLA) has taken deposits from 400,000 for their low-end Tesla 3, which has a two-year waiting list for new buyers.

When Millennials do drive, such as on business, for weekend trips or summer vacations, they either rent or “share.” Driving around the city, you see cars parked everywhere with bizarre names like Upshift, Getaround, Zipcar, Turo, and Casual Carpool.

Indeed, Detroit takes the car-sharing threat so seriously that the Big Three have all bought into the technology, with General Motors taking a stake in Maven. (GM) plans to start its own peer-to-peer car-sharing service this summer.

This is all a mystery for my generation, which grew up tearing apart old cars and putting them back together. I spent a year trying to put the engine on my 1955 Volkswagen back together. When I gave up, I towed the car and a big box full of greasy parts to a local mechanic, a German Army veteran. When he finished, even he had four parts left over.

Do you know who believes my rash, possible MAD theory? Investors in auto stocks, one of the worst-performing sectors of the stock market this year. Shares like those of General Motors (GM) keep breaking new valuation lows.

What was (GM)’s price earnings multiple today? Try a miserable zero since the company loses money, one of the lowest of all S&P 500 stocks. Hapless portfolio managers keep getting sucked into the shares, which have become one of the ultimate value traps.

It is all further evidence that my cautious view on the US economy is correct, that multiple crises overseas are ahead of us, and that the stock market could drop 5%-10% at any time. The auto industry should lead the charge to the downside, especially General Motors (GM) and Ford (F).

As for Tesla (TSLA), better to buy the car than the stock.

Sorry, the photo is a little crooked, but it’s tough holding a camera in one hand and a plane’s stick with the other while flying through the turbulence of the San Francisco Bay’s Carquinez Straight.

Air traffic control at nearby Travis Air Force base usually has a heart attack when I conduct my research in this way, with a few joyriding C-130s having more than one near miss.

 

 

 

 

 

 

October 8, 2018

Global Market Comments
October 8, 2018
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:

(THE MARKET OUTLOOK FOR THE WEEK AHEAD, or GET ME OFF THIS ROLLER COASTER),
(THE INCREDIBLE FUTURE OF THE AUTOMOBILE),
(TSLA), (GM), (F), (TM)

September 27, 2018

Global Market Comments
September 27, 2018
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:
(HOW TO GAIN AN ADVANTAGE WITH PARALLEL TRADING),
(GM), (F),
(TM), (NSANY), (DDAIF), BMW (BMWYY), (VWAPY),
(PALL), (GS), (RSX), (EZA), (CAT), (CMI), (KMTUY),
(KODK), (SLV), (AAPL),
(TUESDAY, OCTOBER 16, 2018, MIAMI, FL,
GLOBAL STRATEGY LUNCHEON)

May 31, 2018

Global Market Comments
May 31, 2018
Fiat Lux

Featured Trade:
(MONDAY, JUNE 11, 2018, FORT WORTH, TEXAS, GLOBAL STRATEGY LUNCHEON),
(ARE WE SEEING “PEAK AUTO SALES”?),
(GM), (TM), (F), (HMC), (TSLA) (NSANY),
(TESTIMONIAL)

Time to Take Another Ride with General Motors

It is safe to say that all of the bad news is finally in the price at General Motors (GM).

In the wake of the latest batch of recalls, the total number of cars slated for mandatory repairs now equals virtually all of the company?s production of the last five years.

Woe to the outside supplier who provided those faulty, but cheap ignition switches to the beleaguered company! Penny wise, but 100 million pounds foolish!

What is more important is that ace mediator, Kenneth Feinberg, has finally come up with a number to offer the grieving families of the 17 who were senselessly killed driving GM?s deathtraps of yore. A fatality is now worth $1 million, and the company is offering as little as $20,000 for lesser accidents.

GM should put these numbers on their new car stickers.

In all honesty, this is just a ?feel good? gesture. The company that is actually responsible for these deaths went bankrupt in 2009, and the management long since sent into retirement to practice their gold swings. The new GM bears no legal liability whatsoever.

However, the company needs to preserve the value of its brand. The GM logo still goes out with every vehicle the firm manufactures. So, it will do the right thing for the victims.

Even if you apply these numbers to the much higher number of deaths claimed by plaintiffs? lawyers, more than 88, the total liability will not be enough to put a substantial dent in GM?s earnings. It is really just sofa change for them.

Many of the higher figures include drunk-driving deaths and fatalities of those driving at high speed without seatbelts. But every law school graduate out there is gunning for a piece of the action.

Don?t you just love America!

So all of this bad news is really good news in disguise. This will enable GM shares to catch up with those at Ford and Toyota, which have been on a tear this year. The industry seems poised to reach annual production of 17 million in 2014, an eight-year high. This will be great for profits for everyone.

I knew as much a few weeks ago, when I learned of massive insider buying of stock at GM all the way down to the middle management level. As has so often been the case this year, I waited for a dip that never came.

Now that the upside breakout is undeniable, I have to jump in. A share price appreciation up into the mid $40?s is in the cards.

The shares are starting from such a low base that even if a 5%-10% correction comes, the August, 2015 $32-$34 in-the-money bull call spread should be able to weather the selling. This strike combination particularly benefits from huge chart support at the 200 day moving average.

It doesn?t hurt that during the entire ignition crisis, GM?s market share actually rose. This was no doubt due to the heavy discount and attractive financing that was offered. What they?re losing in margin, they?re making up on volume.

Things are not so good that I am going to run out and buy a GM tomorrow. I am happy with my Tesla Model S-1, thank you very much.

GM 5-12-15

CorvetteTime to Take Another Ride with GM