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Rick’s Picks Weekend Edition

by Rick Ackerman on September 5, 2009 12:01 am GMT

Ultimate Bottom Lies Far Below

Because we never shared investors’ wild enthusiasm for Cerberus, its near-collapse in recent days hardly came as a shock. The once-huge private-equity firm specialized in distressed assets at a time when even the bluest of blue-chip companies – the name Lehman Brothers springs to mind – have fallen into mortal peril literally overnight. Cerberus’s biggest gambles were in GMAC and Chrysler. The latter company’s future looked as bleak to us five years ago as it did in May, when the automaker went belly-up. What could…

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Treasury Default Not So Unthinkable

Although we can be certain Americans and their government owe far more than they will ever be able to repay, the question of how this debt eventually will be discharged is the economic conundrum of the day. Some think hyperinflation is the only way out, since it would allowing debtors to repay all that they owe with worthless bank notes that would be in copious supply. However, this is hardly a solution, since those on the receiving end – i.e. the lenders — would be ruined, as would the bond markets, banks and all other…

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Bank Scare a Ruse to Shake the Tree

A run on a major U.S. bank?  Who could have been spreading such scurrilous rumors? They surfaced yesterday in the Rick’s Picks chat room, and elsewhere, not long after we’d done some personal banking ourselves in an online account at the very same bank. We experienced no delays or problems with the transaction, notwithstanding reports of a “default situation” and “elevated” buying of put options on the shares of the bank.  We were able to confirm that there had indeed been a flurry of put-buying, but the action was not so frenetic as to suggest that the bank was in any serious trouble.

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Surfing the Trend in Silver Wheaton

We occasionally recommend option trades designed so that even the village idiot could hope to make money on them. These minutely detailed “Pick of the Day” selections are intended to make back one’s annual subscription cost at the very least, but also to help traders get over whatever trauma they may have suffered trying to profit with puts and calls. This is quite a feat, even for us — and we’ve been at it for more than 35 years. Truth to tell, it…

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With $1000 Looming, Gold Fever Is Back

We’re no fans of head-and-shoulder formations, since they are everywhere the amateur chartist might want to find them. But there is something to be said for the bullish reverse head-and-shoulders pattern that gold futures have been tracing out for the last year-and-a-half. The pattern is shown in the chart below, and it is predicting that December Gold, which settled yesterday at 997.70, its highest close since February, is about to run up to $1060. Trouble is, just about everyone we know thinks gold is about to pop to 1060, give or…

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TODAY'S ACTION for Friday

Too Sexy to Pass Up

by Rick Ackerman on September 4, 2009 3:06 am GMT

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Rick's Picks for Friday
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All Picks By Issue:

SLW – Silver Wheaton (Last:13.04)

by Rick Ackerman on September 4, 2009 2:30 am GMT

All our ducks are in line now that we’ve successfully legged into the December 12.50-15.00 call spread eight times for a net CREDIT of 0.15 per.  The short sale of some December 15 calls for 0.45 yesterday morning clinched it, allowing us to capture premium in this series when the options were fat and juicy. Let’s put in a stink bid of 0.20 to cover the December 15s, good through Wednesday. It would be worth our while to get ’em in at that price if we can do so within the next few days. Our goal would then be to re-short them on  rally. _______ UPDATEWe weren’t able to cover the short December 15 calls, since they never traded below 0.35.  However, with the stock pushing toward $13 our position is looking better than ever.  We have a chance to make as much as $2120 with SLW trading $15 or higher at expiration, but even if SLW plummets we’ll still make at least $120.

DIA – Diamonds (Last:94.46)

by Rick Ackerman on September 4, 2009 2:49 am GMT

I usually ignore hot tips, but a pen-pal of mine, Phil C., sent me a breathless note predicting that the Dow would rally 100-150 points this morning, forming a top from which it will collapse when traders return after Labor Day.  Putting aside the details, this sounds so absolutely right to me that I’m inclined to speculate modestly.  Mr Market loves to spring dirty, nasty surprises whenever possible, and what could be nastier — or more surprising — than a tsunami to greet us as we return from summer’s final fling?  To get short, we can use the midpoint resistance at 95.07 shown in the chart, buying two September 93 puts (DAVUO) if and when the Diamonds get there. _______ UPDATE (11:52 a.m.): Stocks are only modestly higher today after an other-then-depressing unemployment report, so a short-squeeze to the levels where we’d wanted to get short seems unlikely. We’ll do nothing officially, but personally I’m going to take a couple of puts home with me over the weekend. My hunch is that the best prices of the day will obtain near the close. (Note: I bought some September 93 puts — DAVUO — for 0.86.)

SIZ09 – Comex December Silver (Last:16.130)

by Rick Ackerman on September 4, 2009 3:13 am GMT

The futures pushed slightly above a 16.265 pivot that had served as a short-term, minimum upside objective. The overshoot hints of further upside progress, presumably to the next Hidden Pivot resistance worth noting, 16.640.

$YHOO – Yahoo! (Last:42.71)

by Rick Ackerman on September 17, 2014 5:28 am GMT

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$SIZ14 – December Silver (Last:18.655)

by Rick Ackerman on September 16, 2014 1:25 am GMT

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$SLW – Silver Wheaton (Last:23.06)

by Rick Ackerman on September 15, 2014 6:06 am GMT

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GCZ14 – December Gold (Last:1237.60)

by Rick Ackerman on September 15, 2014 5:50 am GMT

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$DJIA – Dow Industrial Average (Last:17025)

by Rick Ackerman on September 12, 2014 12:01 am GMT

When a stock or an index takes a wicked dive, it often occurs after the particular vehicle has marginally exceeded some prior, significant peak. ‘Everyone’ turns bullish on the breakout, including bears prepared to cover on a hair-trigger signal, and that sets up the haymaker. Notice in the accompanying chart, however, that the record high recorded by the Dow on September 4 has led to no such plunge.  The high exceeded July’s record peak by 10 points, and that should have been enough to get bulls’ — and bears’ — juices flowing.  Instead, we’ve seen only a moderate pullback since then, leaving bears very much on the hook.  We could still see a collapse from these levels, particularly if there is unsettling news. But for the time being, bears shouldn’t get their hopes too high. We are short the Diamonds via some out-of-the-money put options just in case, but we may have to reshort if DIA breaks out to new highs. (Note: This tout is being written before Thursday’s close, since I will be away from the office later today.)

$TLT – Lehman Bond ETF (Last:113.11)

by Rick Ackerman on September 11, 2014 1:29 am GMT

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$+DIA – Dow Industrials ETF (Last:171.27)

by Rick Ackerman on September 5, 2014 3:58 am GMT

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$SNIPF – Snipp Interactive (Last:0.2562)

by Rick Ackerman on September 5, 2014 3:05 am GMT

I first touted Snipp Interactive back in January, when it was trading around 0.15. Although the stock subsequently fell to a dime, it has since rallied sharply, settling at 0.2562 yesterday. This is one of my favorite stocks, and I came away from a conference call with its CEO, Atul Sabharwal, eager to sing their praises. During that call, I hit Atul with my best idea, a sweepstakes-type promotion, but he was already three steps ahead of me, able to cite, for one, New York State’s rules and costs for exactly the type of marketing scheme I’d suggested.

Full disclosure: I hold 100,000 shares plus warrants to purchase another 50,000 shares.  But I hope that won’t discourage you from performing your own due diligence, since you are likely to be as impressed as I was when you find out what the company has been up to. For me, at least, Snipp (OTC: SNIPF) perfectly satisfies Peter Lynch’s rule that investors favor companies whose strengths and methods they can understand. Snipp does interactive marketing that allows clients to track results in real time. The results have been sufficiently impressive that the company has been attracting blue chip clients with little difficulty. Read more about SNIPP by clicking here.

From a technical standpoint, although the stock’s chart history is thin, it’s possible to project a near-term rally target of 0.2730. A tenet of Hidden Pivot analysis is that an easy move through such targeted resistance implies there is unspent buying power percolating beneath the surface. This is not a “hot tip;” indeed, Snipp’s story does not lend itself to the kind of hubris that will result in a $10 billion IPO. But it is an aggressive and imaginative pioneer in a rapidly developing niche, and its CEO has the kind of imagination, intelligence and energy that inspires confidence.

$+TSLA – Tesla Motors (Last:279.20)

by Rick Ackerman on September 3, 2014 5:30 am GMT

Tesla’s strong rally has turned the Oct 3/Sep 5 calendar spread into a solid winner. The spread is currently trading on a bid/asked of 4.50/5.07.  This means subscribers who bought the spread for as little as $1.00 last week could have quintupled their stake. The most paid for it would have been about 1.54. In any case, I’ll suggest offering half of the eight spreads to close today for 4.70. We’ll plan on rolling what’s left on Friday by covering (buying) back the September 5 300 calls we’re short and shorting the Sep 12 300 calls at the same time. ______ UPDATE (10:40 p.m. EDT): The stock’s push to an intraday high at 291.42 made the spread an easy sale for $5.00+, so I’ll consider the order filled.  Now, roll the four spreads that remain into the October 3 /September 12 calendar as detailed above. _______ UPDATE (Sep 7, 10:31 p.m.): The midway price on the spread intraday was 2.30. Imputing the premium to the four October 3/September 12 calendar spreads we now hold would zero out the initial cost of 1.54 and add 0.76 to the real-time value of the spread.  We’ll plan on rolling the spread again on Friday by selling the September 19/September 12 call spread (and thereby covering the short Sep 12 300s), but for now do nothing further. _______ UPDATE (Sep 15, 12:54 a.m.): I’ll use a 0.37 price, midway between the intraday high and low, as the spread price unless I hear from someone in the chat room who did better or worse. Imputing this new premium income to our Nov 22 / Sep 20 spread gives us a CREDIT cost basis of 1.13, for a guaranteed minimum profit on the position of $452. That would be in addition to whatever the Nov 22 calls fetch when we exit them.

+GDXJ – Junior Gold Miner ETF (Last:37.51)

by Rick Ackerman on September 2, 2014 12:03 am GMT

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This Just In... for Friday

About My Option Strategies…

by Rick Ackerman on September 4, 2009 12:01 am GMT

The following questions about my option strategies came up in the forum, but I am republishing them here because they may be of interest to a wider audience:

What is the advantage of going long one call, and then locking in a given spread via shorting another call, versus “locking-in” the spread by going long on puts instead?

My answer below is more generalized, but to address your specific point, we should prefer to “lock in” a profit by shorting a wasting asset rather than buying one ourselves.  For most option traders most of the time, shorting calls is MUCH more profitable than buying puts.  Indeed, in the several decades I have been trading options,  I cannot recall a instance when put buyers were happy for more than three consecutive days.  Even those who owned puts ahead of the 1987 crash had just two days of sheer bliss to get rid of them.

Is it that in the latter scenario, one is long twice, and can thus get screwed twice by the pros? I always thought the latter scenario would be a good one in cases of low implied volatility, where the loss on one is mitigated, and the gain in the other is increased when implied volatility rises during larger underlying moves. (That may just be retail-customer theory, which the pros have long beaten. But what do I know? I’m still waiting for someone to start offering straight options on the VIX. Thanks!

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The spreads I prefer are intended to provide a highly leveraged shot at big profits, but without the usual, horrendous time decay. This tactic is especially useful if we expect a stock to rise (or fall) over a period of several months. We also seek to take advantage of fleeting spikes that goose option volatilities to the moon. If, for instance, SLW opens on a gap this morning (it did), we may have a chance to short Dec 15 calls when they are hugely overvalued — sell them, perhaps, for even more than the 0.45 we’d intended. (They topped at 0.50 before receding with the tide.). And, of course, we do so with the expectation that Silver Wheaton will be strong in the coming months, but not so strong that the December 15 calls will go in-the-money. We may ultimately decide to exercise our December 12.50s, a step in building a long-term position. RA

The Real Unemployment Rate

by Rick Ackerman on September 4, 2009 4:38 am GMT

Were you aware that the Bureau of Labor calculates unemployment in various and sundry ways that are not shared with the press?  Neither were we — until we heard about ‘U-6,” which reckoned U.S. joblessness at 14.8 percent back in February.  We would assume it’s much higher now, but unfortunately February was the last month given.  Incidentally, if 1933’s rate of 24.7 percent had been calculated using today’s dubious metrics, it supposedly would have been lower by at least five to ten percentage points. Click here  for the link.


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The Hidden Pivot Webinar is one-day event is designed to teach you the risk-averse trading strategies Rick has taken to his seminars around the world. Once you have learned his proprietary secrets, you will approach trading and investing with enough confidence to make your own decisions without having to rely on the advice of others. The next Webinar will take place on October 16, 2014. For more information, or to register, click here.