This Week in Barrons – 8-2-2015:
“How can I make money in the stock market?”
From the e-Mail bag:
Most of the email that I receive asks me a variation of the following 2 questions: (a) “How do I make money in the stock market?” and (b) “What is the performance of your TIPS section?” In order to answer (a) – allow me to defer to the Univ. of Chicago professor Harold Pollack, who when asked that question – wrote this answer on the front side of the 4x6 index card shown above:
- #1. “Max your 401(k) or equivalent employee contribution.” That is to say, if anyone wants to give you ‘free money’ – take it – assuming you have first paid off any high-interest consumer debt. If your company doesn’t offer a matching 401(k) – then a Roth IRA may be your best alternative.
- #2. “Buy inexpensive, well-diversified mutual funds such as Vanguard’s Target 20xx funds.” I personally prefer index funds, but Vanguard’s target-dated funds contain just a few asset classes and are certainly better than loaded, actively managed funds.
- #3. “Never buy or sell an individual security. The person on the other side of the table knows a lot more than you do.” Now maybe the person on the other side of the table is smarter than you or maybe they aren’t, but it’s unlikely that you know anything that isn’t already factored into the current stock price. Therefore, you often have no competitive advantage buying or selling a particular security.
- #4, 5 & 6. “Save 20% of your money. Pay your credit-card balance in full every month. Pay attention to fees and Avoid actively managed funds” – are all great rules to follow!
- #7. “Make your financial advisor commit to a fiduciary standard.” Most financial advisors are NOT required to act in a fiduciary capacity with their clients. They are not required to disclose conflicts of interest or even recommend investments that are in their clients' best interests — only those that are ‘suitable’.
I would then have added the following on the back of this index card:
- #8. Vote for people who will let you keep more of your own money.
- #9. If you have to choose, make saving for your retirement a higher priority than saving for your kid’s college education.
- #10. Finally, investing is NOT about hitting home runs, but rather singles and doubles. Singles and doubles will serve you well in the long run, and will help you to avoid making big mistakes.
In terms of (b) the performance of the TIPS portfolio, it varies but for the past 6 months it has been averaging between 16% and 21% per MONTH. That is a non-compounded return, and the vast majority of that has been accomplished via selling Iron Condors (40 to 90 days out) on the SPX at a Delta 0.14 or less.
Many of you have written asking whether NOW is the time to buy gold, silver or even NUGT (the triple leveraged ETF focused on the miners). Because of gold’s most recent collapse, most of the ‘gold bugs’ are trying to either rework their models or have abandoned gold altogether. The gold ‘buy signal’ will be a combination of the following 2 items: (a) Gauge the sentiment, and when the last gold bull has ‘left the building’ – then it’s time to buy. And (b) let’s see what side John Paulson and David Einhorn (two hedge fund managers known for their bets on gold) are on when they disclose their metal’s positions on August 14th. As for NUGT (which has lost over 70% of its value over the past 3 months), I would wait until the price of gold has turned the corner.
Finally, during this past week I received emails asking for my opinion on ‘Selfie Sticks’. Two 2 recent surveys (completed in April 2015) have concluded that: people who post selfies on social networks are more likely to exhibit ‘the dark triad’ of personality traits. That ‘dark triad’ consists of:
- Narcissism (extreme self-centeredness),
- Machiavellianism (extreme manipulation of others), and
- Psychopathy (acting impulsively with no regard for other people’s feelings).
These finding are supported by a recent study in the Journal of Social Networking that found that the more people changed their social networking profile picture, the more likely they were to exhibit narcissistic (extreme self-centeredness) traits. The study also concluded that there was a definite positive correlation between narcissistic behavior and the time people spend on Facebook tagging and commenting on photos.
- July saw a small bounce in most stocks and bonds, but that masked some severe divergences such as: Commodities being down 12.6%, Gold being down 6.6%, and the Emerging Markets accelerating their decline to the tune of being lower by 6.2%. This only serves to confirm the ‘global economic slowdown’ hypothesis.
- Historically a precursor to a severe market decline has been: high valuations, weakening momentum, and overly bullish sentiment. That is the environment in which we find ourselves in today.
- 2nd Quarter GDP came in at 2.3%, proving that we’re living through the WEAKEST economic recovery ever recorded – with a 10-year GDP growth averaging a mere 1.4%.
- 2nd Quarter Wage Growth came in at 0.2% - the weakest since 1982.
- 2nd Quarter Home Ownership was at its lowest level since 1964.
- 2nd Quarter U.S. corporate revenue growth was a NEGATIVE 3%. This confirms that China’s and emerging market’s slowing growth rates are taking their toll on U.S. corporations.
In so far as the Indexes are concerned:
- The DOW Industrials are seeing some consolidation around the 17,600 to 17,800 levels. I am looking to these levels to show me either real selling or real buying going forward.
- The NASDAQ (NDX) is in a range between 4,550 and 4,650. Technology is really the ONLY growth sector; however, the markets must come to terms that sometimes price out paces real growth. The index looks a little over-heated when measured against the other indices, and I suspect some volatility in the near-term.
- The S&P Index (SPX) is in a range between 2,100 and 2,130. We could see some moves up into the 2120 - 2130 area, but that will be fought with selling pressure. There could be short-term support buyers at the 2100 level, but failing that would mean a drop to 2080 and then 2040.
- The Russell Small-Cap Index (RUT) is in a range between 1,220 and 1,240. It seems that the Russell is pricing in concerns of a rate hike coupled with strong dollar related deflation. A move and close above 1240 on some volume would mean that concerns are starting to fade. I keep watching the RUT for general market order flow, and lately it’s looking weaker than the DOW or S&P would have us believe.
The question is – what’s next? Are we going to challenge the all-time highs again, or are we rolling back down some? Since February, we have crossed the S&P 2100 line (up and down) over 45 times, and we just crossed it again (to the upside) last week. But from that 2100 level, there are only 30 more points left before you run into the "all-time' highs – and that's been a brick wall. My guess is that they try and get us higher early in the week, fail at the 2030 level, and then trade sideways and lower for a while.
In fact, I could easily be convinced that the short-term ‘TOP’ in the market was set back in May. Without some new form of QE or some other nation blowing up, we seem to have run out of gas. Sure there will be fits and starts, but it looks like the May highs are going to hold. I think we see sideways to down movement – especially heading into the fall. I know that sounds ridiculous because every time we've had reason to fall in the past – the FED would come rushing in to save the day. But without some new form of stimulus, I think we could be looking at something nasty shaping up. My boundaries are still the same: 2130 on the upper end and 2040 on the lower end. If I’m wrong and the market vaults for ‘new highs’ – breaking over 2130 for several days – then I’ll need to ‘flip’ and go considerably longer. However, it’s my opinion that the most money will be made on the ‘short side’ of this market moving forward.
In the beginning of July, I suggested taking longer-term positions in 5 stocks. One of those stocks was a Coca-Cola bottler (CCE). At the time I recommended buying the January $45 calls for $2.60. This week Coca-Cola started acquiring more of CCE and those calls (30 days later) are now almost 300% higher – worth $7. My other tips at that time were:
- Mondelez (MDLZ) BUY the Dec. $40 Calls @ or under $2.80 / now 200% higher at $5.60.
- Time Warner (TWX) BUY the Jan. $90 calls @ or under $4.00 / now $3.50.
- Molson Coors Brewing (TAP) BUY the Jan. $90 calls @ or under $1.40 / now $1.10.
- And Analog Devices (ADI) BUY the Dec. $70 calls @ or under $3.00 / now $0.75
Therefore, TWX, TAP and ADI are still buyable, and at better prices.
The TIPS portfolio has (for the past 6 months) increased in value by an average of 18% per MONTH. That is a non-compounded return, with the vast majority of those gains coming from SELLING Iron Condors (40 to 90 days out) on the SPX at a Delta 0.14 or less.
I’m currently holding:
- IWM – SOLD the August 112 / 114 to 132 / 134 Iron Condor,
- MDY – SOLD the Sept 245 / 250 to 285 / 290 Iron Condor,
- NDX – SOLD the SEPT $4875 / 4900 Call Credit Spread for $2.95,
- RUT – SOLD the August 1140 / 1150 to 1330 / 1340 Iron Condor,
- SPXPM – SOLD – Iron Condor – SEPT @ 1885 / 1890 to 2200 / 2205,
o SOLD – Iron Condor – Aug2 @ 2025 / 2030 to 2150 / 2155,
o SOLD – Iron Condor – Aug @ 2025 / 2030 to 2160 / 2175,
o SOLD – Iron Condor – Aug4 @ 1950 / 1955 to 2150 / 2155,
o SOLD – Iron Condor – Aug4 @ 1995 / 2000 to 2170 / 2175,
o SOLD – Iron Condor – Sept1 @ 1925 / 1930 to 2165 / 2170,
o SOLD – Iron Condor – Sept1 @ 1955 / 1960 to 2175 / 2180,
o SOLD – Iron Condor – Sept1 @ 1990 / 1995 to 2155 / 2160
o SOLD – Iron Condor – Sept2 @ 1925 / 1930 to 2180 / 2185,
o SOLD – Iron Condor – Sept @ 1845 / 1850 to 2190 / 2195,
o SOLD – Iron Condor – Sept @ 1870 / 1875 to 2215 / 2120,
o SOLD – Iron Condor – Sept @ 1925 / 1930 to 2215 / 2120,
o SOLD – Iron Condor – Sept4 @ 1900 / 1905 to 2175 / 2180,
o SOLD – Iron Condor – Sept4 @ 1900 / 1905 to 2210 / 2215,
o SOLD – Iron Condor – Oct1 @ 1895 / 1900 to 2210 / 2215,
o SOLD – Iron Condor – Oct1 @ 1905 / 1910 to 2210 / 2215,
o SOLD – Iron Condor – Oct1 @ 1915 / 1920 to 2200 / 2205,
o SOLD – Iron Condor – Oct2 @ 1850 / 1855 to 2185 / 2190,
o SOLD – Iron Condor – Oct2 @ 1910 / 1915 to 2205 / 2210,
o SOLD – Iron Condor – Oct4 @ 1825 / 1830 to 2200 / 2205,
o SOLD – Iron Condor – Oct4 @ 1885 / 1890 to 2220 / 2225.
To follow me on Twitter.com and on StockTwits.com to get my daily thoughts and trades – my handle is: taylorpamm.
Please be safe out there!
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