Thursday, April 30, 2009

Chrysler starts from scratch?

Some memorable moments with Chrysler.

Long ago, before my mom and stepfather split, he tooled around the streets of Honolulu in a muscle car -- a white Chrysler with a black top. Drove her crazy. He didn't care. It was 1970, gas was cheap and most American men loved to burn rubber in their U.S.-made burners.

In the mid-1990s, Chrysler fell on bad times and merged with Daimler, a company I'd never heard of. That day, I bought my first stock: C. Bought at 40 on the news and sold at 46, did it all over the phone. (I was a day or so away from trading online on my fancy new computer.) That same day, I bought C again, this time at 43, and sold again at 46. It was too easy, but it was real.

Today, Chrysler is officially part of Fiat, or is it the other way around? It's called a surgical bankruptcy and Obama blames the greedy of hedge funds and bondholders for this drastic measure.

Fiat? An old friend from the basketball days at Ala Wai Park, Eric, drove around in a red Fiat. Tiny little thing and he drove it like time was ticking down for every second he spent in that car. Maybe three of us could fit in it. I haven't seen many Fiats in Honolulu since. Talk about an instant speeding ticket waiting to happen. Red.

I haven't bought Chrysler stock in all these years. But I do like my Ford shares. While the rest of the market is schizo, F just moves up or down (mostly up lately) in an orderly way. Like a stately grandfather surrounded by a dozen of his most hyper grandkids. He's just smiling and having fun. Ford will survive as America's only automaker. Besides, they make the Mustang. Coolest American car out there.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

You snooze, you lose

Just back from a work assignment. Sunny Manoa, where the league chiefs meet every few months. On the way to lunch -- couldn't decide between cashew nut chicken (Bangkok Chef) or rib-eye steak (Ducky's), so i got both.

Somewhere between here and there, I realized why Jim Cramer was so weary of DNDN (though he supposedly is bullish now). Cramer used to work at Goldman Sachs, and he was a successful hedge-fund manager. He probably knows tons of those traders and managers, and the scheme that knocked 45 percent off DNDN's price yesterday (Tuesday) before the company's Provenge presentation at AUA was something that Cramer, and even Guy Adami and Pete Najarian of Fast Money know quite well.

Collusion. Backhanded dealing. Whatever it's called, they recognize the fingerprints. That's why they're all so, so quiet about something that rocked the market on national TV, so to speak. Cramer railed against naked shorting on Monday, calling out the SEC (again) and demanding that the uptick rule be revised in full (not watered down). I agree with him on that, but when these Wall Street guys go quiet on something like the manipulation of DNDN's stock, it feels a lot like a gag order. Or like being in a witness protection program. Nobody wants to spill the beans.

I was worn out last night, fell asleep on the couch and didn't wake up until about 4:30 a.m. -- an hour after the open. I have no idea how DNDN traded in premarket, but it opened at 27.02 and rose to 27.40 while I caught my Z's. Unfortunately, it was down to 25 by 4:30 and I watched. No stop-loss order. No way. But when I left to go work, it was down to 24ish and later closed at 22.94.

Should I have sold at 27? Yeah, and I might have done that if I'd gone to my bed and set the alarm for premarket. It would've made my late buys yesterday (at the 24 range) profitable.

Should I have sold at 25? In hindsight, yes, even if I plan to buy and hold DNDN shares. Sell at least half, look for more pullback to get shares cheap. Instead, I held on to most of the shares, hating the droppage and thinking about going back to sleep. Staring at the real-time quote is meaningless unless there's a purpose or plan to sell today.

I did sell a couple hundred shares at 23.95 (break even), which gave me a little cash to look at LVS, which popped big (with the rest of the market). Too bad I sold my LVS at 7 last week. I plan to build that position back up bit by bit. Same with ATVI, which I re-bought today after Goldman Sachs called it a buy. Unfortunately, I bought at 11.15, near the top, and it sold off to 10.73 by the close. GS targets ATVI for 14. Maybe GS had a lot of dead money in ATVI and used the new target to unload the shares.

Turns out, I should've bought LVS, which ran from 6.98 (yesterday) to 7.40 (open) to 7.72 (close). LVS flirted with 8 for awhile and is there in after hours. I'm aiming for a re-entry but not at 8.

More and more, I'm apt to leave shares alone, especially if they're my long-term favorites. I will not sell my AAPL shares again. Not selling F, which rose to 5.45 (5 percent).

It's a trader's market, like it or not, and there's no way to deny that selling DNDN at 27, then re-entering at 23 (or lower) is fiscally responsible and prudent. Of course, nobody knows for sure at 27 whether DNDN will pull back big. Good rule of thumb will be to sell 1/3 or 1/2 at the top (above 26) and expect to trade shares short term on pullbacks and spikes. It happens with all good and great stocks, including AAPL.

Holding DNDN is stressful, no question. Part of that is because I am committed to holding a core position long term. If I were trigger happy and simply trading all the shares all the time, it wouldn't be stressful at all. I have to measure that element -- stress -- as a factor in the equation. After all, I'm not a robot. And I really needed some sleep early this morning.

The other reason DNDN stresses me is the way the MMs and hedge funds manipulate it, as yesterday showed. In the back of my mind, I can't help wondering if I'll come home one morning to find the price leveled down to 5 bucks because of another sick scheme.

I still think DNDN survives the gauntlet of haters and arrives at 40, maybe 45, as analyst David Miller predicts. It won't happen this week, apparently (rim shot).

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A clearer picture of Dendreon's wild day

At Business Week.

Dendreon: Breakthrough and more craziness

Fool me once, shame on you.

Fool me twice, shame on me.

That echoed in my mind when, wouldn't you know it, bizarre behavior surrounded DNDN this morning (HST). The stock plunged, as I considered selling my shares, from 24 to 12 literally in 5 seconds. Might have been 3 ticks. I panicked and hit the sell button, and then the stock completely froze -- halted by NASDAQ. Could've been for the Dendreon news conference or because of the illegitimate move that turned caused the 45-percent drop.

As of this minute, an hour later, that "glitch" (some think it was an orchestrated bear/short raid) is being investigated by NASDAQ. Someone might be in trouble ...

It was the worst and the best, sorta, in a matter of minutes. Because my sell order was stuck in the "halt", I called my broker and eventually they found my order and cancelled it for me. Had they not, it would've executed on the open -- probably in after hours (post-conference) or in the morning. Who knows what the price would be? I didn't want to let the panic sell leave me with a huge loss ESPECIALLY BECAUSE DENDREON ANNOUNCED TREMENDOUS NEWS about its prostate cancer immunotherapy treatment. It's a major medical breakthrough years in the making.

My heart broke two years ago when the FDA rejected the treatment, but this time around, with more than 500 subjects responding positively to Provenge -- no deaths -- and longer survival rates, this is a winner. And even if the corrupt FDA shoots it down again, I'm holding on to these shares.

If it pops to 25, 30 or higher, I'll trade half and use the other half as a core position. This is, even after all these years of struggle, a giant in the making. Mitch Gold finally done it!

Still an hour or so left in the session, but I'm exhausted. Heading out the the Leeward Coast to cover a tournament. Too bad CNBC doesn't have a radio channel. No Bloomberg Radio here.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Wish List

For core holdings:

AAPL (tech/retail/electronics)
AMZN (retail)
ATVI (gaming)
AXP (credit card)
BIDU (China/search/advertising)
F (possibly the lone US automaker by 2010)
FLS (infrastructure)
GOOG (search/advertising)
GS (financial)
LVS (casino)
MCD (dining/international)
NTES (China/gaming)

Not so crazy now

It wasn't very long ago when I was willing to go fairly large on a daytrade and ride a skeptical, paranoid market with a sturdy surfboard known as FAZ. I mean, it was high risk, high reward and I made some dollars -- then gave most of it back being inexperienced with the incredible speed that it can change direction.

Today, I just watched as FAZ moved now and then. The sentiment in the market wasn't totally fearful, so it's much tougher to gauge the direction on an uber-short ETF like that. The market was mostly sideways today. So instead of trying to dip in and out in a tough environment, I put small orders in for some stocks I like both short and long term: AAPL, ATVI, DNDN and F. Of the three, DNDN is a real crapshoot and I will probably bail out before they announce the precise results of Provenge testing after the bell tomorrow.

BAC got to 9.29 in the morning, but I didn't sell (break even would be 9.35) so I'm holding that bag. Chief exec Ken Lewis could be canned any day now, which might kick start the stock. I don't see it as a long-term hold either way.

AAPL is money. Golden. I'll keep adding little by little for a core holding. ATVI, Activision Blizzard, is responsible for the cultish, zombie-like behavior of gamers everywhere, including my nephew, who is addicted to Call of Duty 4 online. It has powers we can only imagine. The stock has been pinned in the 10 range for awhile. Could be time for a run.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Quants? Arh?

The way program trading works is ... I don't know. Do I work for the Lime Group?

My search for the roots of quant program trading, or whatever people like to call it, began today. I'm interested because the stock market has spiked up enormously in the final minutes of six of the last eight sessions. It's all because of program trading. The monster titan of such things is Lime Group and here's a story that touches on what Lime is about. Quite interesting and varied, and somehow I'm not surprised that the founder has a passion for improving his city. In fact, the story notes that he's a friend of Enrique Penalosa, the former mayor of Bogota who was featured on E2, one of my favorite TV programs.

Anyway, I may hate it when program trading causes one of my stocks to freefall, and I may love it when program trading causes one of my stocks to spike up. It is what it is and I want to know more about it. Program trading was just 5 percent of the NASDAQ volume a decade ago. Now it is 40 percent. That cannot be ignored.

From a DVD to your hard drive?

Sounds illegal, right? Might not be soon.

Real Networks has a device -- taken off the market soon after distribution -- that can supposedly transfer DVD data to your computer. Amazing. If the media giants win their lawsuit, though, RNWK will remain a 2-dollar stock.

More details here.

You like your Netflix?

DVDs delivered to your front door, practically, but downloads to your computer?

When the CEO of Netflix was on 60 Minutes a couple of years ago, I was impressed. NFLX seemed it would dominate its space for a long time, even with Blockbuster and every other movie and game rental company.

There's been so much about NFLX in the news lately. News, hype, drivel, froth. Whipped cream in the world of media downloads/streaming channels, and what a hugely insane world that is. Think Napster. Making real money. So how can NFLX not been a buy? Could it still be a buy?

Frankly, as I dig a little, I will not expect to buy any NFLX. The two or three weeks after earnings aren't always the best time to chisel into a stock as swing traders cash in and look for the next hot one. Then again, if mutual funds start pouring back into the market, they could take a lot of stocks skyward just on sheer volume.

Here's a starting point, perhaps. Should Netflix worry about Comcast? I dunno. Read the link.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Ford Friday

I got stopped out of my F shares, much to my disappointment. I probably set the stop-loss price too close and I'm just hoping I can get shares on Monday at a similar price (5.18-5.24). Why Ford? It's about value. It's about many things, and they're mostly favorable and similar in some ways to LVS -- except that Ford may have more upside.

Aloha Friday

If you missed it, here are a couple of pertinent pieces written today. One, by the blatantly honest Jeff Macke, takes a look at Las Vegas Sands, which closed the week at 7.44. That gives me a quite voluptuous paper profit so far. Just wish I'd had more cash on Wednesday when I got a few shares.

The other piece is by Ken McCullough, whom I had never heard of, but his perspective is interesting. It's about groupthink and Cramer and Kass and whether the retail investor needs a shepherd to read the market's fickle ways.

As for my trading, I was quite aesthetic yesterday, quite as a monk in a cave. Watching but quiet. Today was the opposite. With Fed stress-test news out, the financials were all over, up and down and I made back all that I'd lost (on paper) with my STUPID, overly expensive buys of BAC and FAS early in the week. Then my stop-loss orders kicked in and left me at break-even instead of a tidy profit, leaving me to doubt the process. Why?

Both stocks had rallied huge and were a good 25 to 30 cents above my entry points -- and stop-loss prices -- when the market makers decided to alter the market. They dove all the way down and cleared out my sell orders, and probably thousands of others, before taking the price back up from whence they came.

Dirty m*******f*****kers.

Now I know better. When my stocks have exploded and I'm tracking them closely -- I actually moved up my limit sell orders twice during today's rally before switching to trailing stops -- it's an absolute must to make the stops real tight, as close as possible to the current price. Don't get me wrong: I'm glad and thankful as heck that I'm not thousands of dollars underwater anymore. But tight stops would've netted me a decent profit after all that struggle.

Anyway, I netted positive for the day after that horrendous Monday. Tweaking along the way, that's what has to be done.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Tying down loose ends

It's a must. Two of the past three days have been the biggest trading losses for me in the past month. Otherwise, most trades have been wins. One huge reason was the 6-week bull run from the market's bottoms. Another reason was selectivity, something I had more of before this week.

The biggest reason, though, is that I didn't use stop-loss sell orders on trades for BAC and FAS. That takes consistency and discipline. I used them earlier in the day (losses on FAZ), but simply acted the dunderhead later. Chances are that the two stocks will swing back up and I'll break even. Nothing is guaranteed, though. That's why trailing stops are key.

Also added a few LVS shares at 5.77 in after hours yesterday. I missed a chance to get them on Tuesday at 5.07 in AH after learning about some positive news. Trading above 6 in premarket today. Adami says it should be above 8.50. We'll see.

Stress test results for financials tomorrow. Stress for shareholders, too. In a perfect world, I'll be out of financials by then.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Stopped out of C at 3.19. Oh well. Can't force it.

Also got into FAZ at 10.45 and was stopped out at 10.38. This market doesn't know which direction it wants to go. I think traders are just worn out by everthing.

C breeze

Thought I'd stay out until near the close, but I'm back in at 3.23.

C leveled off in the 3.20 range, where I sold it (smart move to avoid downside risk), then showed a decent head-and-shoulders on the chart, decent move on MACD. I do want this in my portfolio as long as the financial environment is leaning positive. But I also have a trailing stop-loss sell (2 percent) at 3.18 just in case.

If C can move to 3.28 or 3.33, I might take the nickel or dime profit.

He who fight and run away
Live to fight another day

- Bob Nesta Marley

Stop in the name of love

Stop-loss sell order kicked in on my FAS at 7.34 and C at 3.20.

Profit of 15 cents/share. Nice little profit for a two-hour daytrade. Probably should've sold near the high of 7.54.

C was a quick profit of 23 cents and 5 cents. High was 3.28. Never had two stop-loss sells happen in a 5-minute period before. Pretty cool. A lot more orderly, too.

In/out FAZ, In C

Tried to play FAZ during Geithner's talk with Congress, but got stopped out at 12.02 with a 3-percent loss.

Got in, however, Citigroup at 2.96 and 3.15. Market is in the green and financials are bouncing back. C is battling at 3.15.

Wash out

Four great trades. One bad one.

Four trades of FAZ in premarket netted nice gains, the best I've had in two hours work.

Then, that buy at 13.33 after I was surprised to find I'd accidentally sold at 13.24 ... that came back to haunt me. I didn't set a stop loss sell order like I should have, and it slid all the way to 12.25 at blazing speed. I had to sell at market, which I never do, and it sold at 12.14. Killed me. As an ETF, FAZ moves faster than any stock I've ever seen.

Practically wiped out my gains for the day.

A. Don't buy so high, regardless of momentum.

B. Put in the stop loss order no matter what. Had I done that around 12.90, my loss would've been pretty minimal. Too much thinking, not enough discipline.
Now I'm pooped and frustrated with myself. Market was negative before bell, which helped FAZ, then rallied (financials did some running up), but now the market is slightly negatoid again.

Next time I have a big profit, I'm going out for a walk. A long walk.

Epilogue: I mentioned that I should've set a stop-loss sell order, but there is no such thing available in premarket and after hours.

Doh! Getting rocked by RIMM

Accidentally sold FAZ at 13.24. Hit the wrong button and went to pee. I got a profit out of it, but I didn't want to sell immediately!

Back in at 13.33, watching with a microscope.

Magnifying glasses

I have to watch really close now. Back in FAZ at 12.85 and 13.03. It kept going right up to 13.42, still premarket.

Might just be a huge selloff in financials once the bell rings in 30 minutes. That would be good for FAZ.

Ring the register

Out of $FAZ in premarket at 12.40. Of course, it's riding up more now to 12.50. Ouch.

I got my profit, though. Puts a dent in that loss yesterday. Ooh, FAZ now at 12.60.

Kass zeroes in

Doug Kass is one of the most unbiased people in the stock world, a writer and trader, a bull or bear, depending on the circumstances. He's gone bearish just a tad lately, but that follows his call for the recent bullish run little more than a month ago. Kass wrote about stocks that he views as long-term anchors, 50 of them, here.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Holding on

FAZ never took a breather after hours and ran to 11.89. BAC closed at 8.02, but plunged in AH to 7.78. C plunged to 2.85 AH. I decided to hold my FAZ overnight. If the financials gap up tomorrow, I might go long C or BAC. They have major problems, but profits -- particularly with BAC -- are not an issue. C has a conversion (preferred to common shares) value of 3.25, which will probably stick, making 2.85 a good value price.

Or maybe just sell at the open and stay in cash. If, by some zany twist of fates (plural), FAZ will be one of the stocks that helps me recoup what I lost today. It's not out of the realm of possibility. FAZ was 115 five weeks ago.

Green Pond

Yes, green.

Not for the day, of course, but in my new trade.

This is not how I pictured the day to progress. I am now short. Never before, might never again. But I'm short and making money. Incredible.

After unloading my portfolio -- wisely, too, since BAC (8.07) has slipped another 15 cents since my sell -- I finally realized that FAZ would've been my perfect hedge starting in premarket today, or even after the opening bell. I passed up a buy at 10.95 or so and it kept inching up as BAC continued to sink. I finally mustered up some nerve and got in at 11.25, where it meandered for awhile before running up. The final 20 minutes or so, it leaped to 11.71. I added more at 11.67.

The financials could get a boost somehow tomorrow morning, but I'm thinking shorts will pile on again plus there will be more panic/surrender selling. I have a stop loss order in at 3 percent, which still puts me at a very small loss at 11.28 and 11.35.

FAZ, like FAS (long financials) are hyper, steroid financial stocks, so it can reverse super fast. If I can sell FAZ close to 11.67 in after-hours trading, I'll do it.

I know enough about Citigroup and Bank of America now to realize that one or both could actually go under, or possibly break up, once they run out of cash. And if they don't run out of cash, they'll probably have no other choice but to convert that TARP money into shares, which will dilute the share price and drive it down -- making more profit for FAZ owners.

I have to say this, too: I have always hated taking out loans, hated credit cards, which is why I can't stand it when people overdo things and get into massive debt. It's a major reason why the economy tanked -- we Americans hated to save, unlike other nations (Japan, for one). The economy tanking did none of us any good, savers or not.

Anyway, with that perspective on credit lines and markets, it's no wonder I never shorted financials sooner. With BAC and C talking about bad loans and worsening credit situations, it's almost a no-brainer.

Red Sea

Thick red.

One month's gains mostly wiped out in one day. It's one thing to know a day of reckoning is coming. After six straight weeks to the upside, the market was due for a selloff. But I wasn't prepared. I was heavily long in BAC going into today's earnings report. Never had a chance. It traded above 11 in early premarket, the one mere mortals like me can't trade in. Otherwise, I would've sold.

By the time BAC was sellable in premarket (2 a.m. HST), it was below 10 and sinking. That would've been the right time to get out with a small loss, but I was confident it would bounce back, especially when the new was out that it beat earnings by a wide margin, 44 cents to 5 cents. Didn't matter. So many negatives in the economy -- bad jobs numbers (unemployment) didn't help -- and the stock couldn't find its footing. I sold BAC for a major loss at 8.22. Also sold my little CROX position at 1.83 and the rest of my C at 2.92.

All in all, my 31 percent gain for the past month has been reduced to rubble. I'm now up 7.6 percent. OK, what's the analysis and lesson?

A. When there's a gap down in premarket, sell off some (or all) of the position. More so when the market is due for a correction, and all those quant programs unloaded -- not just financials, but almost everything -- in the way that's reminiscent of selloffs during the past several months. (I had planned to sell the position on a gap up or neutral, so it should be the same on a gap down unless I'm holding AAPL maybe.)

B. In lieu of a manual sell order, put in stop loss sell orders. Simple.

C. Hedge best as possible. With financials, that would've been a long position in FAZ, which is up 24 percent today. FAZ, the short-financials stock on steroids, was 8.90 yesterday but opened today at 9.94 and climbed up, up, up. It's at 11.10 now.

D. The next time the market is up six weeks in a row, I'll go 100 percent cash. Daytrades only, no swinging.

E. If a long is feasible, then stick with the best stocks -- not risky ones like financials. AAPL, again (with earnings due this week), would be a candidate before and during a correction (on a pullback). AAPL is at 119 now, down from 123 one session ago.

Though today's huge loss hurts, I know this bear market will turn for good eventually. I've proven to myself that making profits in a bull market, or at least a bear-market rally, will happen. I'm just thankful that I'm still ahead and I'll be ready with cash when the right time comes.

It wasn't all that great even before today. Though I was up 31 percent, I had left a lot of profit on the table. Had I played things perfectly (I know, never happens), I would've been up 77 percent until today. In five weeks.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

In honor of Call of Duty addicts

Such as my nephew.

One of my favorite writers, Rick Aristotle Munarriz, may have convinced me about Activision Blizzard. I'm taking a close look at ATVI in the morning after I sell BAC (probable). ATVI raised earnings estimates on Thursday from 63 cents to 73 cents per share, and the stock popped at the open, sold off and rallied before Friday's close. It hit a high of 10.89, a low of 9.99 during those two sessions, and closed at 10.57. It's traded between 9 and 11 for the past month.

With the Co's guidance -- earnings will be out in two weeks (May 4), this is ultimately a potentially great trading stock. If ATVI pulls back to 10.25 or lower, I'm probably in. All I want are dimes. Quarters would be nice. It could just boost over 11 real quick. Wouldn't surprise me. How many companies are increasing profits in this recession?

I've seen how people get addicted to Call of Duty (quite a series, people play online day and night) and Guitar Hero. Might as well profit off their addiction.

Why not ERTS? Madden retired, there's nothing "hot" in the pipeline. Electronic Arts is a cold fish right now, which is sad but I'm going to make some money rather than worry about ERTS.

Beanieville bulls update

One of my favorite blogs, Beanieville, was bullish on several stocks on April 3. Here's a look at how they've fared since.

AAPL +7.3%
AMZN even
AKAM +2.3%
AZO +4.6%
BIDU +12.3%
CRM +3.6%
FSLR +7.3%
GOOG +6.3%
MA -5.7%
NTES +11.6%
SNDA +13.7%
SPWRA +10.2%
STP +5.4%
V -3.3%
VMW +9.6%

Overall, on a weighted scale, these stocks are up 5.7%. Not bad for just two weeks! I like most of these, too, especially AAPL, BIDU, FSLR, GOOG, SPWRA, V and VMW. Not holding any of these yet, though. The risk/reward in these stocks is pretty favorable, held down only by the credit card guys (MA, V), and they'll recover eventually.

Purple and green fever

Amazing to see ETFC on the rise.

Of all the loan-heavy financials ravaged over the past several months, E-Trade had a clear shot at bankruptcy. Quite sad for what was once a rip-roaring company that relied on brokerage fees to make a big name for itself.

Well, in early March, with the toxic-asset problem on fire, ETFC hit an intra-day low of 0.59. That was just about the time I re-entered and started trading again. I recall taking a peek at the stock price once, had no interest whatsoever. Preferred to buy AAPL instead.

Well, ETFC is up to the 2.50 range now, riding the coattails of the financial sector. But more than that, their loan problems are being worked out. Supposedly, E-Trade will be able to get, at least in theory, 100 percent of the loans back through a third party. That's more than enough to perk up my interest, but I'm not convinced it's fact until I see it.

As for the stock itself, it has a life of its own. The run for sub-1 buck to 2.50 needs a pit stop, but I'll be watching for a pullback and possible entry point to start swing trading ETFC. At its one-year peak, ETFC traded in the mid-20s with volume less than 10 million shares per day. The past week, it had several sessions of volume in the 45-55 million share range. Could be a short squeeze, but it's still worth watching.

I'd be happy to trade it several times for 10-cent gains.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Beanie's Golden Rules

Great, common-sense rules about trading from Beanieville.

Now, these rules aren't original, nor are they guaranteed to do anything. But applying them has helped me, and ignoring them has cost me money.

In addition to these Golden Rules, I'd add two absolutely important words: stop loss.

Looking forward to Monday, cutting losses early, making lots of ties, small wins and allowing those big runners to ring up my account with lots of green.

Friday, April 17, 2009

BAC it up

Added a trunk full of BAC shares before the close (10.92). Could unload them in premarket on Monday, pre-earnings, similar to today's early trade with C. I don't expect it to sink during premarket and the opening hour after the bell like C, but it could happen. Easily.

Mastery is tough to attain

A last little vent about the C trades.

Wednesday to Thursday, a beautiful run from 3.80 to 4.10. It wouldn't stay at 4.10 long at all, dropped back to 4.02-4.05 range and I held out an extra hour, two hours to get my 4.10 sell point. Victory.

Later, I took a small win in C for 7 cents. Two wins in two days.

Today, it was the overnight gap from 4.05 to 4.38. Awesome. Not the 5.00 or 6.00 that some people fantasized about, but they were not being realistic.

Three nice wins in a row on C. Then I screwed up the streak by letting a small win turn into a big loss, entering at 3.92, passing the sell at 3.99 and losing at 3.70.

Stick to the game plan. Must stick to the game plan. Take the 5-cent win always, especially when the price has fallen almost a dollar from the premarket high. This was not one of them and that lack of reasoning and logic cost me a chunk.

Out of C with loss

Three sins of trading: greed, pride and stupidity.

I got back in, as I wrote earlier, at 3.92. It ran to 3.99 almost immediately and I assumed it would run to 4.50. This is a major mistake, to imagine that I can project or predict anything in the market. It should always be about the price action, the reality of numbers, and not my feeble imagination or worse, hope.

It was a frog-in-a-pot-of-water syndrome from there, the water starting to boil without me noticing the danger. Citigroup shares trickled lower and lower, actually surging back up to 3.90 momentarily. I thought I had a sell at 3.92 (for a tie) execute, but a minute or so later I realized that it was not so. In 30 seconds, C dropped to 3.82 and has been meandering in the 3.70s. After it sank below 3.70, I put in a sell order at 3.70. Then I forgot about it.

The order executed for a loss of 22 cents, wiping out a large portion of the gains I made in premarket (+33 cents). Lesson here? Leave well enough alone, set tight stop losses and get out with small losses.

In the 3.90s and 3.80s, I was thinking 4.50 -- greed.
I could've gotten out with a tie or small loss, but I refused -- pride.
And not executing to protect myself -- stupidity.

C is now trading around 3.75, staying well below 4 on options expiration day. I have my long-term shares, but I won't be going back in for a swing trade.

Snooze done

Didn't plan on it, but I crashed out around 30 minutes into the session. Same old, on the couch, in front of the TV. But I was in good shape actually. I knew that C would dip to an intra-day low at the 60-75 minute area. And it did, all the way to 3.55. Ouch.

I was asleep and got up about two hours in. Look at the chart and it was on a run back up and I grabbed shares at 3.92. Big battle between sellers and buyers there for awhile, but now it's at 3.99 and cutting into positive side of its MACD. I still wouldn't be surprised if C returned to the 4.50 level at least once today. Who knows? Might just take the nickel gain here.

Out in premarket

Wasn't a perfect trade, but profit is profit.

Citigroup announced earnings at -18 cents per share, which is a huge beat on the estimate of -34 cents. The stock ran up to 4.88 (from 4.01) in premarket -- the one that us common folks don't trade in before 2 a.m. Hawaii time.

By the time us regular people had access to trade C, it was at 4.50. I waited. Then it slipped suddenly to 4.40, 4.36 and I semi-panicked, selling the swing shares at 4.38. That's a gain of 33 cents, a huge profit. Of course, C then ran straight back up to 4.43 or so.

I told myself, no sense taking chances. Never know how vicious the selloff could be now or after the opening bell. I told myself, take the profit and look for a great re-entry point later. Might be a lot of trades on the swing side in C today. That's just fine. I'll be wide awake and observing its every move.

That last decision I made yesterday to not sell that swing position paid off. This time, gut instinct prevailed. I'm not in a rush to get back in, though. A premarket trade for the amount of shares I want is forking expensive.

Smile, Pupule. You made some money and it's only 2:16 a.m.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Mind over matter?

There are percentage plays and there is gut instinct.

I have to say, gut instinct doesn't usually pan out in the free market. That's why numbers rule, and I like numbers. I got out of Citi twice in the last two sessions with profits, the kind that could sustain a household if it came so consistently over time. I know, regardless of how good or bad tomorrow's earnings report is, C could hit a low and recover -- because Uncle Sam has said that the major banks will not be permitted to close shop.

Yet, I had my cursor on the sell order button at 1:59 HST for my swing position, which is essentially 3/4ths of my total shares in C. The thought was that the remaining shares would be "free," the assets that are house money. Worst-case scenario, I still break even. Best case, make money without risk. It was the smart thing to do, minimizing risk on one of the two most beaten-down bank stocks going into tomorrow morning.

I pulled back, though, after mulling over it for 30 minutes, watching the after-hours trade dangle from 4.02 to 4.06 to 4.13 and finally, between 4.09 and 4.12 in the last several minutes. I know the Fed is being held more accountable for its strategy to save the financials, and in essence, the foundation of the economy -- avoiding the potential disaster of unprecedented foreclosures. That's the main reason I kept those shares, even though by selling them after hours I would've secured yet another profit and decent gain (five to eight cents a share) in a short 2-3 hours.

Gut instinct and a bit of logic went into this decision, though I hope to say later that almost all my trades were based on logic. Pure logic. I'm up 32 percent in the past month, ahead like many traders and investors in this bullish run. It could evaporate real quick come 2:30 a.m. Hawaii time. Or it could run loose like a federally-protected entity probably should.

Back in C

Earnings report by Citi tomorrow morning.

After selling my swing position at 4.10, I got back in at 4.05. Sounds like a few pennies difference, but price is a big deal. Every cent and dollar counts.

Waiting on the report is not going to be fun. All the major financials have beaten estimates so far. Obama says the Fed will not let the major banks fail. Time will tell. Might sell the swing position in after-hours if I can get 4.10, nickel profit.

Out of C

Closed the swing trade for 30-cent gain.

Tempting to stay in (already have a long-term position), but I wanted to lock in profits. Bought a big position at 3.80 yesterday, sold at 4.10. Had to hold out quite awhile for those last 5 cents. Big difference.

I actually missed two opportunities for gains and swing trades earlier (between 4.02 and 4.09) but that's history.

Might re-enter C at 4.05. Earnings out in the morning. Big risk, big reward maybe. Or buy a little more BAC, which reports on Monday.

Lunchtime dips?

It seemed to me that stocks dip between 11 a.m. and noon (EST), particularly in Citigroup, so I did a little checking.

Friday, April 10: 11 am 2.92, 12 pm 2.94

Monday, April 13: 11 am 3.41, 12 pm 3.39

Tuesday, April 14: 11 am 4.43, 12 pm 4.29

Wednesday, April 15: 11 am 3.75, 12 pm 3.67

Thursday, April 16: 11 am 4.01, 12 pm ?

I don't have data before Friday the 10th, but this shows that for at least the last five sessions, C has suffered during lunch hour. Could be a coincidence, but at the very least, it might not be a good idea to buy during the hour until it's closer to noon. It's 11:08 a.m. Eastern time, so this test is in action. C is trading at 4.02, trading kind of orderly so far today.

Citi earnings are out tomorrow morning, coming off today's earnings report from JP Morgan ($.40 per share vs. $.32 expected). That didn't upset the market, but didn't stoke a fire, either. Earnings might be playing a factor in this slight change of pattern.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Citi vs. Dendreon

I once held a sizable position in DNDN. Sizable for me, I should note. Everything looked great. Prostate cancer treatment like nothing before. All that stood between Dendreon, prolonging the lives of patients and a tidy profit was the FDA panel. I loaded up. The panel shot Dendreon down.

That was two years ago, and to see DNDN shares shoot from 7 to 20 (and back down to 17ish today) is amazing. I'm glad for the company and especially for the patients. I'm also stoked for the longs who hung in there when all seemed ridiculous and hopeless, even. Looking back at DNDN two years ago is almost like Citigroup this week, going into Friday's huge earnings conference. C has detractors, like DNDN did. More so, C has been shorted incredibly, just as DNDN was back then.

The biggest reason why this situation is different, though, is that the Fed is on Citi's side. Back in 2007, the Fed (FDA) was corrupt (yes, I said it) and anti-Provenge to the nth degree. I got over it, but I ain't going to lie. There was ample reason back then to approve Provenge.

This time, with Citi, there's an economy and the White House weighing in. I've been in and out of C since 1.70, and at 3.97 today (4.13 after hours), I won't be going anywhere aside from a day/swing trade here and there. Golden rule: do not bet against the Fed.

Hello BAC

Rollin' with Bank of America.

In at 10.19, near the day's high for BAC. The stock ran big a few days ago, pulled back recently and gapped down big to 9.67 today. With JPM reporting in the morning, BAC and C have a chance to gap up large.


Back in C at 3.80.

Plan was to get back in at 3.74 (like earlier), but when C pulled back it was to 3.75, then ran to 3.83. Doh.

JPM earnings out in the morning (unless CNBC is right and that's out after the bell). This re-entry could turn into an overnight hold.


Out of C (swing trade).

Got in at 3.74 a while ago, sold at 3.81 a minute ago. If I can keep a disciplined plan of attack on the long-term and short-term mechanics, this should be profitable and fun. That was fairly easy money for a 90-minute trade.


I wear them every day, but it's been years since I dipped into CROX.

Bought a few shares at 1.91 today. The stock is up 12% already today, finally breaking out. I used to own shares back in the 60ish range. Saw it run up 25% or so, but never hit the sell button and finally got out at break-even.

CROX proved to be a small-time stock, but it is certainly worth more than 2 bucks a share. Staying power of the product tells me that. Back when it was at its highs, I did some research and found that the CEO and some of the board came from another company that had a similar pattern, jumping from 11 to 44 in a two-year span.

CROX duplicated that run-up ... and collapse. If I can get 50 cents on this trade, I'm good.

Thing for the swing

Back in a swing trade with Citi. At 2.74. Lunch-time malaise may be over. What's different between now and the sell a little while ago? Larger bids coming in for C.

When I stepped outside after waking up today, I thought about the long-term hold as the bass line and the swing-trade position as the rhythm. Ha. Pain shook me out of most of those shares.

If JP Morgan reports later today (instead of tomorrow) as CNBC says, this gets more intense.

On the bright side

A profit is a profit.

Always an odd feeling to wake up when you don't even remember going to sleep. But there I was, on the couch, TV still on and it was already 4 a.m. The market had opened and shares of Ciitgroup were down to 3.80 or so. It was surprising because in premarket, somewhere around 1 or 2 a.m., C was at 4.17. I don't count on the price that early, but...

But the stock is being played so closely by the market makers. It was locked between 3.81 and 3.83 for what seemed like hours. I contemplated selling, but with the market slightly in the green, I waited. It was the frog in a pot of water effect, the heat slowing getting hotter until the frog was being boiled alive without knowing it. C dropped a tiny bit at a time, and when it got to 3.75, I decided to sell about 3/4ths of my stake. Problem was, it would dip another cent or two each time I chased it down until finally, my sell price of 3.67 was hit. It was almost by accident; at 3.64, I said screw it and tried to cancel the order outright, but came back to me.

All of this is gibberish. I thought I would ride this position up or down as a core holding, longer term (not long term necessarily). Maybe trade around it with another position. But I couldn't stand the thought of losing all of my (paper) profit after seeing it fall from yesterday's high of 4.48. The people who sold at the open yesterday was a lot smarter than me. C drops big time after every short squeeze. Add in options expiring this Friday and it was, still is possible that the price could be driven down to 3.00 by then.

Anyway, I feel somewhat relieved to have locked in some profit. The rule still applies, though: it's about the numbers, and more than that, the percentages. When C was at 4.40, or 4.35 (when I was awake), it was too big a gain to ignore. I simply refused to think it would drop below 4 again.

For now, it's a lunchtime malaise (11:24 EST). I could possibly add shares above the price I sold at. But the guys who sold yesterday (Tuesday) on the spike, anticipating no real news for at least two more days ... I could've and should've seen that probability, too.

I need to decide what my pain threshold will be. I slept through the first 40 minutes today while C dropped to 3.51. Didn't bother me at all in my unconscious state. Then I wake up and basically get shaken out of a chunk of my shares. I even considered adding a few shares, not selling, at 3.82. Can I actually play it long term and short term? I thought I could.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

View from the sideline

Dow -137 and S&P 500 -17 to 841.50 this morning. No surprise. Whether this is a bear market rally or not, it still needs a pit stop now and then. Breadth was against the bulls, no sense fighting the tape and forcing a trade to work. Wouldn't work without a ton of luck. I sat and watched after I sold WFC. That turned out positive since WFC closed at 18.22, almost a dollar below my exit point.

C hit 4.48 within an hour after the opening gap, but steadily slid as buyers walked out and sellers remained. I had chances to sell a portion at 4.35 and especially 4.25. C closed at 4.01 and is trading a few cents less in afterhours. Should I have sold near the high? Maybe. But this is clearly a core holding. Instead of swing trading another stock, I could do that with C, which normally has a somewhat consistent trading range intra-day. With a swing position, I would've sold above 4.35, bought back at 4.05, sold at 4.15. A 10¢ gain would've been sufficient as a goal. A lot of would-shoulda-coulda beens.

Bottom line: No bad buys today, i.e. chasing up. Chasing WFC last week turned out to be a tie. (I had chances yesterday to sell at a decent profit but held. Today I waited for it to move up so I wouldn't take a loss.) I left LVS and DNDN alone after their big gap ups. ONTY, the sympathy play to DNDN, was at 2.80 earlier and I passed. Lack of liquidity, wide spreads. Kind of like EBAY at the beginning, but worse in many ways. Closed at 3.01 on 231,000 shares traded.

BAC, like most of the financials, was down. Dropped 8.4% to 10.09, no surprise after running up 60% in the previous two days. How does BAC slide while C finishes up 5.5%? Citi had not run as far as BAC, plus there had to have been more short covering in C today; 1.2 billion shorted shares do not convert in just a day or two. Options expiry is this Friday, when C is expected to report.

Theory #1: WFC (Thursday) and GS (Monday) announced early to separate themselves from other financials. Whether they know what the other banks have or not, they believed in their numbers so strongly that they wanted to establish their positions as Alpha Dogs, preferring not to be lumped in (as if!) with JP Morgan (reports in two days) and Citigroup (Friday).

Theory #2: Obama and Geithner "requested" that leading financials -- after studying the stress-test results -- open the earnings season with their surprise announcements. This shook out most of the shorts and created the most impact on a wounded public. Both WFC and GS had similar "margin of victories" by more than doubling the estimates for EPS.

Theory #3: The White House recently (as in 3-4 weeks ago) hired a Citigroup executive. WFC shareholder Warren Buffet is a pretty close friend to Obama and the administration. Why wouldn't it be hard to believe that all of this is orchestrated by a maestro or two. Or three.

I have no problem with it. The game is what it is. Players who adjust to the officiating and rules will make money. Those who whine from their soap boxes will miss opportunities. My theories are crazy, but there might be a thread of truth in there somewhere. Obama has the people's faith, but even he couldn't stop today's selloff.

Punting WFC

Of course, as soon as I sell, WFC runs up a bit.

Sold my shares at 19.12 after seeing it dip to 18.33 earlier. Choppy, down market overall, but WFC has been churning through this 19 area for a few days now. I have some freed-up cash now, but it's slim pickins.

C is doing well, up to 4.48 earlier and holding strong in the 4.40 area despite the market. Watching LVS, DNDN (talk about an old heartbreak), BAC and something called ONTY, which could be a sympathy play to DNDN's prostate cancer drug.

A force of nature

Monday, Apr. 13, 2009
First, it was just your average post-market rundown.

Maria Bartiromo on CNBC chatting away with a few forgettable guests. Then her eyes got big. Something came across her desk. Breaking news. Goldman Sachs has announced earnings. HAAH? Wasn't that supposed to happen in the morning before the bell?

Goldman Sachs, $3.39 a share, more than doubling on expectations -- much like Wells Fargo did on Thursday. Holy crap. Of course, GS didn't have a perfect situation, but it was pretty close considering the TARP situation and all those details. GS announced, as expected, a secondary offering of shares, and yet the stock dropped only 2 bucks to 128 in after-hours trading. Amazing. Only a royal stock like GS could get away with that.

Online, hordes of haters surfaced, questioning Goldman's profitability, making accusations of shady accounting. All I kept thinking was, 'Didn't you guys KNOW Goldman would kick ass? How could you be surprised? This is Goldman Sachs, the Don Corleone of Wall Street.'

I'm all for perfect ethical behavior on Wall Street, but nitpicking over every little thing is really too much. My perspective is simple: I don't have to like a company's product and/or services to try and make a few bucks by trading its stock. Whether it's tobacco, alcohol, guns, whatever -- if it's a good trade, I want to be in it early. All the sermonizing and self-righteousness is silly. I can't do it. Too distracting. I like numbers. When I handle them properly and with the right timing, numbers are my friend and puts money in my piggy bank.

Anyway, Goldman's stock sat, but Citigroup's shares erupted on thin trading in after-hours. It closed strong at 3.80, then fluttered higher to 4.30 before closing at 4.20. It'll be interesting to see where it opens at the bell. I'll be watching closely, though. I'm up 25% in C for one day, have no plan to lose profits. But I'm going to be patient. If it won't be necessary to sell C, I won't.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Second wave

7:35 a.m.
Citigroup powering through 3.50. Remarkable.

After laboring through 3.45 for a better part of the morning (well, it's 1:35 p.m. in NYC), C is blasting off again. So is WFC, which slid back after gapping down and pushing up (and slipping to 19).

Still watching GS, BAC and LVS. My long-term wish list includes AAPL, but it's up to 120 again. GS earnings report before the bell tomorrow sets the tone. Even if Goldman announces dilution (to raise funds to offset TARP), C might not get hit hard; Citigroup has already announced plans to reverse split the stock, so there won't be any further (proposed) dilution. It's already factored into the stock price.

Strong opening hour

Haven't gone long GOOG yet. No need to. In fact, I'd go long AAPL first. For now, an hour into today's session, C is up 12% to 3.42. Serious resistance at this level, but no complaints from me. It moved fluidly, not the usual million-share blocks on either side to slow it down.

WFC gapped down with the rest of the market (Dow -77 points), but is back at break-even (19.60). BAC is still moving, now at 10.31.

LVS hit 5.00 earlier. I sold it on Thursday at 4.45. I didn't know Steve Wynn would interview on 60 Minutes over the weekend. If I had some extra cash, I'd look for a pullback on LVS and maybe BAC. But I'm up 9% so far. With GS reporting tomorrow, I'm not looking to sell C or WFC yet.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Google is killing print media?

So should journalists maybe hedge a bit and go long GOOG?

Look, I'm not advocating joining the enemy, but there's something to be said for If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. If Google (or whomever) costs me my job one day, I want to skim all I can off their darned back.

Here's a little piece about how 'Google stole control over content distribution.'

Le Beanieville Index*

Last week, one of my favorite bloggers, Beanieville, went bullish with his favorite stocks for the next run up. Here's a look at those stocks, their closing price that day, Friday's price and the percentage move since.

Beanieville's Bulls
AAPL 115, 119.57 +4%
GOOG 369, 372.50 +1%
VMW 28, 30.01 +7.2%
AMZN 78, 79.77 +2.3%
CRM 37, 37.40 +1.1%
AKAM 20, 20.20 +1%
BIDU 187, 190.32 +1.8%
SNDA 42, 46.41 +10.5%
NTES 27, 28.45 +5.4%
AZO 159, 161.72 +1.7%
V 60, 58.79 -2%
MA 173, 172.46 -0.3%
FSLR 134, 142.05 +6%
SPWRA 24, 26.04 +8.5%
STP 14, 14.40 +2.9%

Average: +3.4%

Why do I keep track? I like Beanieville's picks, for the most part. I've traded in and out of STP and will probably continue to do so later. I like just about all the stocks on his bull list, particularly AAPL, GOOG, VMW, BIDU, AMZN and FSLR (along with STP). This is one of the gauges I can use to see where the better entry points were, or have yet to come.

Friday, April 10, 2009

It's a small world

Anything Nike takes me back to the old days. So does minimum wage, and there the two become an issue in one.

CNBC is running its Nike special/doc right now. They run their in-house docs on holidays like today. Nike was the only shoe I could wear for basketball that fit well and didn't cause injuries. I don't know why. Maybe my feet were screwed up after years of playing on the asphalt, but I still won't wear any other basketball shoe. (Not that I play any more.)

So Nike has a history of exploiting Third World laborers and responded by becoming the gold standard. Nike built housing, provided education and even meals for its factory workers. But, like any free-market Goliath, wages are dictated by local economy. Workers living in rising-inflation times are simply going to struggle. They go on strike. Part of me feels for them. Another part of me thinks, go to college and study for another line of work. That's a choice, not a destiny, if you are content to work in a factory.

Anyway, one thing about Nike shoes will never die: collectors. I've never been one, but I confess that the ‘Iolani Classic shoe was styling. I'd still grab a pair if I saw them. Too bad they sold out at the tournament. The other Nike I like is the black, green and yellow one that came out a few years ago. Simple and bold.

But my point is this: as long as there's a market for $100 shoes (or $1,500 soles), the free market will prevail and there will be factory workers getting pissed about being paid pennies, comparatively, to the value of their product. What goes around comes around, though. Niketown in Waikiki is going to shut down soon.

Disciplined shopping? Ugh

Little bit of fatigue and a little bit of quiet time game me a chance to review transactions of the past month. Not that many, in hindsight. Prolific daytrader I am not. Nine wins, two defeats, two ties. Purposely didn't look into scale of victory/loss as much as whether I took profits or cut off losses methodically rather than emotionally. I've gotten better in that regard.

Didn't note this the other day, but I'm still thinking about it. I haven't lost in Citigroup (yet) because of the financials' bull run and my patience. The stock is up to 3.04 now, a shade under my average cost basis. But I'd have been better off by not buying above 3 -- the higher end of its trading range. After I bought a different points above 3, C dove back down as low as 2.32. So even though I'd bought C beforehand as low as 1.70, the lesson was lost on me. Now I wonder if I've repeated history with my buys of Wells Fargo at 18.93 and 19.30. Though I firmly believe WFC should be a 25-30 stock, that's no reason to pay a higher price rather than wait for a better one. Even as financials report in the coming week, I never gave the price a chance to pull back. It could come down to 17.42 (as it did intraday on Friday). Maybe 16.

Will it get that low? I doubt it. Revenues of $20 billion for Q1 in a reviving Cali real estate market are real. WFC should trade well above its Wednesday closing price of 14.89. Maybe it'll be stuck between 17 and 20 for awhile. But one other thing concerns me. One of my favorite bloggers, Beanieville, shorted WFC on Thursday at 18.03. Now, that's a good price, I thought, to go long. Funny? Maybe. I was sleeping while the stock dropped to 18 and below, or I would've bought some there. So, either Beanieville is right or I'm right.

Maybe we'll both be right. Maybe WFC has to bottom out at 16 before surging into the mid-20s. I hate to lose.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

How the Bears went silent

Henry Blodget's look at how the worst bear markets ended. Cool charts.

More monster madness

Nothing convinces quite like big numbers. That's why I took my new cash (from the LVS 'tie') and added more shares of WFC in afterhours at 19.30. The stock dipped to 17.42 during the morning due to profit-taking, which happens when a stock is up 25-30%.

With a little freed-up cash, WFC is a solid move. Not as risky as BAC, which already ran 37% today without substantial news. Come Monday, the hedge and mutual funds might start backing up their trucks now that they have real numbers from WFC to work with. Sure it would've been nice to add more at 17.42, but 19.30 (and my earlier purchase at 18.93) will be in the rear-view mirror sooner rather than much later.

Citigroup closed at 3.04. Nice push over 3.00 in the final hour or so. I didn't sell a share. So, why not diversify, or at least venture into another financial? Google reports next week and Apple will likely be hot going into earnings. VM Ware is tempting, too. But the financials have tail winds: 1. New York Times report today was bullish on first-quarter profits, 2. Wells Fargo pre-announced that earnings will be $.55 per share (exceeding expectations of $.26), 3. Goldman Sachs leads off the financials' earnings reports on Tuesday. (That's Ricky Henderson in his prime stepping to the plate with the sacks filled.)

All will be fresh and tasty food for thought when Monday morning arrives.

No dice

Out of LVS at 4.45 for a tie. At this price, it's already 10% up today, but it was a calculated risk on my part to see if it would get back to 5.00 (which it hit on Monday).

No question, I'll use the new cash to get into another financial. Maybe GS. Maybe BAC, which ran from 9.40 to 9.78 in the past 10 minutes. Might hit 10 before close. Crazy, but BAC has quite a bit in common with Wells Fargo ... Tempting to buy more C, but I'm overweight there. C is finally topping the 3.00 mark (3.02) again.

Banking on Vegas, Macao

Wind back the clock a bit to 4:40 a.m. HST.
Las Vegas Sands (LVS) was available at 4.45
Bank of America (BAC) was at 8.48.

I opted to "diversify" even with short-term trades and picked up a few shares of LVS. (I already have shares of Citigroup and Wells Fargo.)

Fast-forward more than 4 hours. LVS is hovering at 4.46. BAC surged and is at 9.35.

Crud. Not complaining, but I'll keep an eye on this. Might be a lesson to it. When one sector has such bullish news from premarket on, I might approach things a little differently next time.

In for now

Back in WFC at 18.93 ... not the ideal entry point, but I'm willing to chisel in and accumulate. Once the institutions pile in, it will be at 18 no more.

Also dipped into LVS at 4.45, which is off its recent high around 5. (I stayed at The Venetian once and indulgent as that was for a working trip, how can I forget?)

Hated to see STP trading at 14.50 earlier -- after I sold yesterday at 12.95. Oww. But if I can make it up by staying fluid and trading the next day in an up market, it should balance out enough. Minimizing risk versus making a profit.

C is nowhere near its premarket level (3.05) and has been in a rut between 2.92 and 2.94 for most of the morning. Are the MMs sitting on C? Who knows? Tempted to sell a big chunk of shares here for a 8.5% gain (from yesterday).


I sold my position in WFC yesterday at 14.70. It closed at 14.89.

This morning, WFC announced record profits for Q1, beating expectations. They weren't even supposed to announce today. The stock is trading in premarket at 18.06. My action yesterday cost myself a pretty mean profit.

Yeah, this sucks. But I move on. Plus, financials were all up early on a New York Times report. Citigroup is up a bit to 2.80.

Of course, I'm not surprised that WFC is making bank, so to speak. Buffett's no liar. I just didn't expect it this SOON. Something to be said for leaving good enough alone. Still might be an acceptable re-entry point this morning. Or afternoon.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Clean the wound now or ...

Phil Pearlman with a great piece about the psychology of trading, particularly the act of taking small losses quickly before they morph into killing defeats. There is, more than ever, a real psychology (and I say it's dysfunctional often) to the market. But actual trading? Pearlman breaks it down quite simply.

My interpretation of his explanation is that we'd be better off thinking like Spock -- not Dr. Benjamin Spock, but Mr. Spock of the U.S.S. Enterprise. Logical and mechanical action based on thinking clearly -- leaving emotion completely out of the equation.

Play List

Note to self: Stocks to watch for short-term trades tomorrow (Thursday)...

WFC > Upside value.
VMW > Ruler of its kingdom.
STP > Solars rallied on Wednesday, STP rules China.
GS > Earnings out Tuesday, pimp of Wall St.
AMZN > Retail doing well so far this week.
AAPL > Retail doing well, Apple is grand poobah.
GOOG > On a pullback.
RT > Huge move today (positive guidance), but might pull back and rise one more time, a la RIMM.

Pre-holiday ride?

Who knows? Tomorrow, pre-holiday, likely to be lighter in volume than normal. Some stocks could shift up and down like Taz or Road Runner. Might be harder to get the price you want. Though I sold my WFC today (small position), I'm still looking to trade it. I like the company, toxic assets and all, and have confidence that the balance sheet will work itself out in the long run. Or so says the Oracle.

WFC has traded between 14 and 17 for a month or so now, which kind of pinpoints me as a chicken for jumping out today at 14.70 (closed at 14.88). Really, shouldn't anyone be buying WFC below 15 and selling above 16? Yeah. Of course. But I don't trust this market. I don't trust the programs that sell millions of shares by the minute, whether it's Wells Fargo or Citigroup (especially) or any other entity.

Tomorrow, I'd like to ride WFC between 15 and 16, no question. I'll even take a gain of $.50. Until the financials start reporting on Tuesday (Goldman Sachs), it will remain choppy. Maybe go long on GS Monday.

So long STP

My sell order on STP at 12.95 got hit while I was on the phone. It was at 12.80 when I made the order, so that's a pleasant surprise. Sure, it could go back over 13, but I'm not willing to play with the risk of the market falling on its face in the final hour. Friday's a holiday, which means tomorrow could be really flaky out there.

I got a minor profit in STP, missing out on last week's run to 14. It's all froth in this area since STP was at 6 two weeks ago. I do like green tech, but at the right price and when the currents are more stable. Right now, things are pure whitewash. I'd rather have some cash and be fluid.

WFC is down to 14.51. Glad I got out.

Aloha WFC

Media pounding us with bad news (Fed minutes report). One thing I'll never like about media, particularly TV, is the tone and method of blowing things out of proportion. As if they were tasked with the duty of scaring the public to death. Can't fight that. So rather than wait for WFC shares to keep dropping, I sold at 14.70 with a very minor profit. I can get back in when the media and the market are more rational and a little less hysterical.

I actually got a more normal night of sleep. Didn't get up until 7:30 or so, and by then C had dropped from a high of 2.84 to 2.76, now trading at 2.72. I would probably have sold at 2.81 and taken the nickel gain. I'm not married to the thing. I'll take a dime or nickel any time now. It's just choppy seas until the financials report. Then it gets better or worse.

If I'd been as practical last week, I would've sold WFC at 16-plus.

Have a limit order to sell STP at 12.95. Currently at 12.86.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Not a day trader, but ...

Even in the midst of an ugly tape, overwhelming bearishness today, Citigroup was probably a missed opportunity as a daytrade. Really.

C opened way down, 10¢ down at 2.62, but the push from Jim Cramer and Marc Saber got shares back in the green within 30 minutes. 2.72, the previous closing price, might have been a fair entry point. From there, it kept going straight up, all the way to 2.89. Exit point? 2.80, I think, which would've been 3% down from the day's high. That would've been a fairly safe, executable gain of 8¢.

Pennies? Not really. That would've been a fairly decent profit for one day in my perspective. C washed out the rest of the day, somewhat flat, and closed at 2.76 while the Dow was down 200 or so points.

To yo-yo in and out takes freed-up cash, which I don't have because of my horrible habit of chasing. I considered getting out of STP (down big today), but thought better of it. Also thought about dumping WFC, which was near break-even for the day until the final hour. Tomorrow's another day. Always a good time to rethink, regroup and be ready.

Cramer: C worth $4

Even $10 if allowed to unwind, but he says that's not likely. Hmm, Cramer plus Faber ... C trading at 2.79 (up 2.5%) while Dow is down 171 points. Oddly delicious.

Faber vs. Soros

Marc Faber sees a 10% pullback before another bullish run. George Soros says Planet Earth is doomed.

Who's right? If Faber is right about the run and his prediction of Citigroup at $5 soon, I'll be a little better off.

Must buy Stadium Bowl-O-Drome.
Must buy Stadium Bowl-O-Drome.
Must buy Stadium Bowl-O-Drome.

Kass still forsees S&P 1050 this summer

Though the "easy money" has been made by those wiser than I, Doug Kass thinks the rockets are still revving up for more in this bullish run.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Kass: Balance trumps outdated buy-and-hold

OK, so I'm nothing close to a genius, but even I knew that long both long term and short term simultaneously in a choppy market can be a great thing. Doug Kass explains in his articulate, seasoned way, as only a savvy master can.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Analysis at Tickerville

Interesting commentary at Tickerville. Site is clean looking, classic and all, but it's the commentary I enjoy. Are they right or wrong? Who knows? Check it out and see for yourself.

Citigroup up in Tokyo on Monday. Yum yum.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Analyst: Google should pay dividend

Not just a dividend, but one worth $60/share.

He actually makes sense. Instead of buying YouTube (bleeding hundreds of millions annually) or Twitter (no revenue), this analyst recommends paying out an annual $60/share dividend. His points make a lot of sense. So much sense, it'll never happen.

Friday, April 3, 2009

The Bear is dead?

Still have my Apple withdrawls, but it's getting better.

Instead of trying to micromanage and weave in and out of the market today, I let my trades sit. C, STP and WFC struggled to tread water for a good part of the day. So did the market. But all three wound up positive. C moved from 2.74 to 2.85. STP went from 13.95 down to 12.62 back up to 14.00. WFC from 15.33 to 16.34. No complaints here.

I scribbled down a projection yesterday of a 20% gain for this trio within the next three weeks.

2.72 (Apr. 2)
3.26 (Apr. 18, after 1Q earnings)

13.95 (Apr. 2)
16.74 (Apr. 18)

15.33 (Apr. 2)
18.39 (Apr. 18)

Too optimistic? Maybe. Too pessimistic? Maybe. By the time Citigroup reports, most of the big boys in the financial sector will have reported. I think Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and others will report on the positive -- not perfect -- side of the ledger. I may wind up selling most or all of my C shares before earnings (Apr. 17). But I'm convinced and have been for the past few days that selling at a loss this early would not be prudent. I didn't sell at 2.32 and I'm not selling at 2.85. Ideally, I'll keep a small position after taking profits by the 18th.

Suntech Power really might be strictly for daytrading. Had I sold near 14, I could've bought back in at 13 for the ride back up. This is not going down very much despite the huge rally in the past week. There are 30 billion reasons in China why the nation's top solar company will thrive from the subsidies and stimulus money. Not a tough hold.

WFC? The 'W' could stand for wacky. Stock has made drastic turns up and down between 13 and 17 in the past two weeks. It's just strange to recognize that a bank stock is being played by daytraders, hedge funds, whomever. I'm fine holding these shares. Just might daytrade all or most of the shares, though, with this volatility.

The jobs/unemployment report this morning did have an impact for a half-day. Maybe it bought buyers some time to get in, if Cramer is right and we're in a new bull market. I'm not quite as optimistic, but this is no bear market either. I'll be content to stay long with 25% of my portfolio and use the rest as a trading vehicle.

I still want them Apples.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Google loves Twitter, Google loves Twitter...

Twitter and Google. A match made in tech nerd heaven? Rumor is the two entities, one a monster and the other a tiny little baby, are close to finalizing a deal.

Apple withdrawl

I use Apple product(s) daily. Have been since around 2003 or so. Never looked back. Yet, I've sold shares of AAPL only to have seller's regret (as opposed to buyer's remorse). A couple of years ago, I bought AAPL at 93, sold at 92 out of impatience, and the stock proceeded to roar all the way to 200.

Yesterday, I sold AAPL at 106 after buying at 95 just one week earlier. Today, AAPL ran to 114, and that was before RIMM beat earnings expectations after the bell. I'm not arguing that taking profits is bad. But I definitely need to regroup and commit to building core positions as I trade short term in others.

I do feel crummy about not having a position in AAPL. Seeing AAPL in the portfolio has such a psychological impact. Morale, a boost to morale. AAPL was up 3.7% today; STP, which I bought with my AAPL proceeds, rose 10.8%. It's counter to what Phil Town preaches -- buy great stocks low and let them work for you. Oh well. Maybe STP will turn out to be as great as AAPL. Anything close with a great return, I can live with.

Is the run done? LVS is a gamble

Up close, too close to the fire, it's always disappointing not to register profits while the market is spinning and springing up and down. But given time, there's a better perspective. I don't feel bad about holding C, STP and WFC for more than a day or week or month.

I liked Las Vegas Sands more than a year ago, almost two. I never bought any -- it was pricey with a high of 138 in November of 2007. The foray into Macao (along with competitor Wynn) was a big question mark. Today, the question is whether the run is done for LVS, which hit a low of 1.38 last month, but has since run to 4.40 after the CEO bought $7.7 million of stock. Barron's played it up yesterday, noting that the CEO bought shares at 2.95.

Now that it's up 50% since Tuesday, I can't touch this. But if the economy truly is recovering, if the recession really is over, then LVS is not a 4-dollar stock. Or is it? Even at this bottom-of-the-barrel level, LVS is trading at 29 times future earnings. Yoikes. The Co is also strapped for cash.

People like to gamble and I don't see LVS going out of business, so I'll keep close watch. This might've been more of a yes/buy below 2 or 3. Tomorrow's unemployment numbers might just knock a lot of stocks down to buyable levels again.

Ray Guy should be in the Hall

Sometimes, all you can do is punt. Particularly if you're as stubborn and greedy as I am. I was up 9% before pre-market today. Citigroup and Wells Fargo were buoyed by the impending news of new mark-to-market relaxation (alleviating the harm from toxic assets). Suntech Power was hoisted up by the solar sector in general, which had been injected (or will be, I should say) by major subsidies and stimulus from China's government, as well as the Fed in the U.S.

Yep, though my brain was scrambled and I could barely keep my eyes open at the opening bell, 3:30 a.m., I knew I could just sell most of my trades. But my average cost for C, which started at 1.70, is now 3.05 (as a result of chasing last week), and when the stock opened at 2.97, I waited for a run past my average cost. I wanted to at least break even -- I refused to "lose". Preposterous, yes, but that's a weakness of mine. Rather than work within the moment -- and take a significant profit off the table -- I let it sit there. I fell asleep on the couch briefly.

I woke up and C was waffling between 2.88 and 2.92. That lasted about 15 or 20 minutes. Plenty of time to put in a sell order. I waited. I fell asleep again. When my eyelids opened, C was at 2.78. Talk about hating. Who was hating Citigroup? Didn't the mark-to-market vote work in favor of the banks? Who was hating me? Easy: me. But I'm not so hard on myself anymore. I was just concerned that shares would dip below yesterday's closing price (2.67). With the Dow up 250 points, the market makers kept C above 2.72. After Obama spoke from the G-20 summit in London, the Dow was up 300 points and C is now seemingly stable at 2.77 with less than an hour left in the session.

C could falter in the coming two weeks, with only an uptick rule vote next week, and a slew of earnings reports out. Citi doesn't report until the 17th -- after some major banks report. Could be ugly. Could be good.

But what's keeping me optimistic enough is that STP continues to trade well, now up 11% to 14.03. WFC isn't doing bad either, up almost 7% to 15.47. I feel justified in buying STP (and selling AAPL, which is up 4.6% to 114) and not selling WFC. I feel OK holding any of the three for more than a week, maybe a month. But the reality is, I have to take profits and I didn't do that while it was still dark outside. My punts have to be with just cause. Any team that punts as often as I do is not going to score points.

Bears still growling, but this market has horns

There's no point in debating the merits of whether this is a doomed (bear market) rally or the start of a new bull market.

With just about every stock on steroids this morning (pre-market), it is what it is at this moment. You can either stay in bed and get those z's or get up and make some cash. Staying too bullish can hurt, just the same being too bearish. It is always worth hearing a counterpoint. Doug Kass was right all along about the decline of the market. (He went bullish a few weeks ago.) Then there's an unyielding perspective of continued misery from Merrill's David Rosenberg. The instability of the housing market, he says, will continue to thwart any rebound by the economy and market.

So be it. My only concern this morning is if and when to take profits on C, STP and WFC. Though the mark-to-market vote is a few hours away -- odds are the FASB votes yes for change -- there's nothing wrong with taking profits rather than risk watching it blow away like dust should something unforseen occur. Up 9% today already (before pre-market).

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Johnny Cash's 'ode' to GM

In wake of GM's troubles, this song from the Man in Black seems a bit goofy, funny and maybe a little bit morbid.

More Sun Power

Chiseled in for more shares of STP at 12.57. I know it could easily give back its gains -- Suntech Power was at 10 just a few days ago and hit a low of 5.09 in early March -- but I like the support here. China's clean energy plan is not going to be tossed for a long, long time. There are 30 billion reasons why. The nation has a horrifically high carbon emission rate and is very early in its development of green tech. STP, the best solar power company in the People's Republic, could be 20 by year's end. Or more. I don't think it'll approach the all-time high (85 in late 2007) any time soon. Realistically, 20 can happen, maybe 25.

Two 'S' words in play here: Subsidy and Stimulus.

Big brother + clean energy

Chiseling my way in to a position on STP. Waited and got a few shares at 12.70, saw it drop instantly to 12.55, and now it's at 12.82.

Guess I should've chiseled for a few more at 12.55. Egad. As always, it's tough to bet against Big Brother, i.e. China's new plan to develop clean energy.

More Apples later

Sold a decent position in AAPL at 106.75 (+11.00). I've sold AAPL before only to regret it later. This time, it has less to do with Apple (recession-proof for the most part) and more to do with freeing up some cash to explore solars. STP is running again (was up 7% earlier today) and stands to double (re: China stimulus/renewable energy plan) before Apple does. STP opened at 11.57 and hit 12.68 this morning. (Now at 12.39.)

Still feels wrong, though, to let go of any AAPL shares. Still want to build a core position eventually.