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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.

$GCZ14 – December Gold (Last:1283.60)

by Rick Ackerman on August 1, 2014 2:30 am GMT

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$ESU14 – Sep E-Mini S&P (Last:1927.50)

by Rick Ackerman on August 1, 2014 1:42 am GMT

Yesterday was the first time in recent memory that many of those who ‘bought the dip’ got creamed.  Traders should keep in mind that every bearish target implies a potentially profitable short with-the-trend as well as a bottom-fishing opportunity at the target.  In a bear market, the best place to initate the short will often be on the retracement rally to the midpoint pivot rather than at the conventional point ‘x’ of the downtrend.  This will hold true for the longer time frames as well.  Assuming we’ve entered a bear market, corrective rallies will tend to fail at their midpoint pivots, and ABCD downtrends to reach or exceed their ‘D’ targets.  My experience with the dot-com boom-and-crash is that heightened volatility makes swing highs and lows even more predictable than wafting rallies or sideways chop.

Concerning this vehicle, most immediately, the night shift has pushed the futures to the exact midpoint resistance (p) of  the minor abc uptrend shown. If  p holds, this would be as expected. As I’ve implied above, bear markets tend to produce corrective rallies that get no further than p. Night owls may not get much movement in off-hours trading, but the moves themselves will be more predictable and reliable than what you’re used to.

$NFLX – Netflix (Last:431.51)

by Rick Ackerman on July 28, 2014 4:32 am GMT

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As GDXJ was working its way south from around $43, my bearish forecast called for a washout low at exactly 40.42, a Hidden Pivot support of great clarity. I’d suggested buying down there ‘aggressively’ and with an ‘absurdly’ tight stop-loss.  This advice would have paid off handsomely for anyone who followed it, since the stock trampolined 64 cents yesterday off an actual low of 40.43, a penny from my target. Since a subscriber reported doing the trade as advised, I’m establishing a tracking position for the further guidance of all who may have gotten long. (He reported having bought 1000 shares off a 40.44 bid, but I’ll assume a more conservative 400 shares.)  Accordingly, I’ll recommend exiting half the position on Friday’s opening if you haven’t done so already.  We’ll impute any profits thereof to the cost basis of the 200 shares that will remain. _______ UPDATE (July 27, 9:48 p.m. ET): Exiting 200 shares on Friday’s 41.20 opening leaves us with a tracking position of 200 shares whose imputed cost basis is 39.66.  Exit another 100 shares on today’s opening and tie the rest to an impulse leg-based stop-loss on the 15-minute chart.  At the moment, that would imply bailing out on an uncorrected dive touching 41.73. ______ UPDATE (July 28, 11:46 a.m.):  We got sleazed when DaBoyz opened the stock on the so-far low  of the day, 42.40.  The good news is that such shakedowns usually occur because the smart money is trying to buy the stock.  In any event, I am tracking a 100-share position with an effective cost basis of 37.25.  For the time being, let it run. _______ UPDATE July 29, 7:23 p.m. EDT): Let’s turn the position into a covered write if GDXJ slips beneath 42.25 today (see inset, a new chart).  Specifically, you should short one August 16th 41 call for each hundred shares you own. Don’t simply bang out a sale on the bid when the stock hits 42.24, since you could get clipped for as much as 0.20-0.25 on the spread that way.  Instead, you should be deliberate and relaxed about the short sale of the call, since we are in the catbird’s seat and have little to lose by taking in some option premium at this point.  Shoot for a price midway between the bid and offer, and don’t rule out the possibility that GDXJ could snap back above 42.25 even in the process of breaking down. _______ UPDATE (July 30, 2:32 p.m.): _______ UPDATE (2:30 p.m. EDT):  I’ve yet to hear from anyone, but a ‘relaxed’ short could have been done anywhere between 2.03 and a current bid/offer of 2.45/2.90.  I’ll use a cost basis 2.55, about midway between, unless I hear otherwise.

$+PCLN – Priceline (Last:1238.98)

by Rick Ackerman on July 24, 2014 12:54 am GMT

A subscriber reported success yesterday legging into the 1340/50/60 August 16 call butterfly that I’d advised. He did so 32 times at no cost, as suggested, but it took a $10 move in the stock between legs to get filled so advantageously. His maximum profit would be $32,000  with the stock trading at 1350 come August 16.  Since he owns the position without cost, no loss is possible even if PCLN should all to zero or rally to $1000. We’ll do nothing further for now, but I’d suggest that those of you who were unable to buy the spread keep trying.  We’ll shoot for a partial profit if the stock rallies $40-$50 in the next few weeks but otherwise do nothing further. I’ve reproduced a chart that shows why our expectation of a $120 rally from current levels, to a 1358.18 Hidden Pivot target, is not exactly farfetched.  To that end, a pop above the 1270.59 midpoint pivot would be most encouraging. ______ UPDATE (July 28, 7:46 p.m. EDT): Yesterday another subscriber reported legging into ‘free’ butterfly spreads as suggested. Keep trying for at least one more day if you haven’t yet acquired a stake, since the spread will remain cheap as long as PCLN doesn’t blast off.

$+TLT – Lehman Bond ETF (Last:115.40)

by Rick Ackerman on July 23, 2014 5:36 am GMT

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$EURUSD – Euro/USD (Last:1.33950)

by Rick Ackerman on July 23, 2014 12:01 am GMT

I haven’t tracked currencies that closely, but because they tend to move very precisely to Hidden Pivot targets, traders should consider exploiting them whenever possible. Notice how EUR/USD has broken beneath a midpoint Hidden Pivot at 1.34841 after noodling around near that pivot for a few hours on Thursday. This suggests that it is bound for D=1.34197, at least.  You can bottom-fish there with a stop-loss as tight as 3-4 ticks.  Notice as well that there are two slightly higher possibilities for point ‘A’.  The correction targets they yield lie, respectively, at 1.34114 and, worst case, 1.33992.  I expect these numbers to work very precisely, so use them in whatever way suits you best.  Note as well that a last-gasp rally to p=1.34738 after EUR/USD has fallen a bit would be short-able. _______ UPDATE (July 24, 5:35 p.m. EDT):  Yesterday’s short-squeeze feint topped precisely at a midpoint Hidden Pivot (see inset, a new chart) that was originally support but which is now resistance. This price action confirms the pattern we’ve chosen as well as its ‘D’ target at 1.34197. At least one subscriber has confirmed getting short in the chat room.  _______ UPDATE (July 27, 10:43 p.m.):  Friday’s low occurred at 1.34206 — 0.00009 above our 1.34197 target.  Shorts should have covered there, but if you were able to bottom-fish the low and catch a piece of the 144-tick rally that ensued, please let me know in the chat room and so that I can establish a tracking position for your further guidance. _______ UPDATE (July 30, 2:43 p.m.): The futures have breached the lowest of the targets I’d provide from the lesser charts. This implies that a bigger-picture target at 1.32091 is in play. The chart(see inset, a new one) shows this.

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The Dollar Index turned higher yesterday an inch from a correction target that had been three weeks in coming (see inset). This portends a bullish change for the intermediate term.  The actual target is 79.74, and there is always a chance it will be breached. If so, there’s an alternative target at 79.62, but if it fails as well, especially without a fight, the implication would be more slippage to as low as  78.91, where a key low recorded in early May would thereupon beg to be tested. _______ UPDATE (11:17 p.m. EDT): Yesterday’s low occurred at 79.74 exactly. If the dollar is about to reverse and move higher, it will have to happen here, and now. _______ UPDATE (July 9, 2:33 a.m. ET): The dollar rallied strongly for a few days, but it is still not out of the woods because the move narrowly failed to clear an important ‘external’ peak at 80.38 recorded on 6/26. _______ UPDATE (July 16, 6:55 p.m.): DXY came within an inch of a clear and important Hidden Pivot rally target at 80.60 yesterday (see inset, a new chart). However, it will have to push past it to imply that the rally from the July 1 low (which had been predicted to-the-penny) is more than just a flash-in-the-pan. _______ UPDATE (July 30, 2:53 p.m.): 81.85, here we come!! (See inset, a new chart.)


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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