Tuesday, May 31, 2011

New Highs - Netflix and Blogsy ($NFLX)

This is a test of the new version of Blogsy for the iPad, while at the same time watching $NFLX go to new highs.

As you know, Netflix is a stock I passed on because I thought that web companies faced the challenges of the low barrier to entry by other start ups, in addition to big companies using big dollars to compete. For example, Netflix streams movies. Heck, that's easy. Anyone can do it, right?

Well, others have tried. Apple TV and Google TV and Roku and... Well, Netflix is at new highs and we're all subscribers, right? Who has an Apple TV? Anyone, anyone Buehler?

Also testing the new version of Blogsy for the iPad, which allows you to upload pics from your iPad to the blog.

Fire, Brimstone, a Missed Rapture, and the Dow Down -2%

For all the weeping and gnashing of teeth, the Dow was down 1.9% in May.  $$

imageGranted, it was the first negative month in six months.  But it wasn’t THAT negative, right?

Yes, I raised some cash right after the open.  But after a mid-day swoon, the market ended up near the highs of the day.  Reason du jour?  A Greece bail out plan!

Another one?

Yes!  Another one!  Or the same one!  Or the old one revised!  Who knows!?!?

Maybe it’s just the last day of the month after the Memorial Day weekend.  Quantifiable Edges takes a look at a bullish Memorial Week and June 1 combined.

Anyway, the market did move up out of the down trend we’ve had in May, and it looks rather bullish, no?

Housing Still Crashing

imageBut just how much house you’ll be able to buy when houses cost $0!

Yes, housing prices still falling.  Here’s a column saying that prices need to keep falling.

Well, people still owe a lot on houses, and spending this money on mortgage payments instead of at casinos and strip clubs is holding this economy back!

Okay, that was joking a little.  But I heard a radio show not too long ago where a guy just quit making house payments. He had been living in his house for over a year without making any house payments at all, and the bank didn’t (or couldn’t) foreclose because of whatever laws were in place for the real estate crash.  He said, paraphrasing, “It’s amazing how much money I have, now that I don’t have to make that house payment.”

Yeah, really.


Selling Stocks, Raising Cash $$

Sold stocksI sold some stocks and raises cash this morning just after the open $$.

No contacts or reading glasses on, either!

I have been thinking about it for a while and the gap open gave me a good price. We are not that far from the highs, and I still think the summer correction is on. Gary Kaltbaum asks if the market is going to go back to recent highs. I think so. Just not yet.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Monday Night Futures

monday night futuresThe market has been closed for what seems like forever. That's what a 3-day weekend does!

The futures are looking up for tomorrow. A lot can change, but looks like we're going to start the last day of the month with a gain. Of course, we know that the last day of the month and the first few days of the new month tend to be positive. Looks that's going to hold true tomorrow.

But much can change overnight. Maybe some folks with "sell at the open" orders will jinx it.

For me, I'm thinking about using any strength this week to lighten up.

I'm kind of wishy washy about it as of now.

This has been one of the coolest Memorial Day weekends here in Sacramento. No need for a pool party. Snow up in the mountains. And this week will be more of the same.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Rivercats at Aces

In Reno and at the Sacramento Rivercats at Reno Aces game. Very cold. Snow. Rain. Slushy stuff.

You get the idea.

Stocks - The Week After Memorial Day $$

renoInteresting article from Quantifiable Edges $$ that reviews market performance from the Tuesday after Memorial Day through the close on Friday. Since 1983, it's been a bullish week.

I was thinking, hmm... why? Well, when you think about it, the holiday occurs on the last monday of the month. We know that there tends to be a bullish bias in the last day or so of the month through the first few days of the new month due to payroll money being dollar-cost averaged into the market, as well as mutual fund managers buying winning stocks ahead of month-end reporting. (Thanks, Norm Fosback).

Meanwhile, stocks are close to their 50dma, and we could bounce up. We could also see some selling if the 50dma doesn't hold. We've also seen four consecutive weeks where the markets have closed lower. Although, last week we rallied late and it was very close. The market also appears to be in a trading range the past few months.

Cross currents, right?

I remain conservatively invested. Low beta stuff, some oil and some cash. I'm thinking about lightening up and raising cash soon. Really. Will I do it? I have a couple of days to think about it.
Might head to Reno tomorrow. You can't believe the weather here. It's usually in the upper 80's this time of year. Today? 60's and cooling off, wind, rain, and snow up in the mountains. Otherwise, I might have gone to Reno today!

The funny thing about the picture, is that many of the casinos have shut down. Fitzgeralds, the Flamingo... gone! I think the California Indian Casinos are killing them!!!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Google Wallet and the Mark of the Beast ($GOOG)

google wallet The Rapture didn't happen 5/21, but have you noticed Google Wallet? ($GOOG). Cashless society? Mark of the Beast?

I'm going to talk about this from an investing point of view. I was just watching Bulls and Bears this morning, and Gary B. Smith recommended Google as his pick of the week, and projected some hefty gains in the stock price due to the addition of Google Wallet. I think it's a compelling angle. The idea is that you can pay at retailers, vending machines, etc., using your cell phone. Google will have an app that is tied into your credit card and you just waive your cell phone at cash registers to pay for stuff.

I'm guessing that the business model for Google that as you pay for stuff, the credit card company gives Google a kickback. After all, credit cards charge vendors a small fee for the convenience and safety of consumers using credit cards instead of cash.

But thinking about security, what about people losing their cellphones or hackers figuring out how to create devices that use other people's credit card numbers?

Wouldn't it just be easier if, instead of a cellphone, you just had a NUMBER ON YOUR HAND OR FOREHEAD? Or a chip, that had your unique ID number, and that you COULDN'T BUY OR SELL WITHOUT THE NUMBER?

Okay, I've left the investing angle a paragraph ago, so I'll slow down.

Obviously, with the fiscal and debt crisis around the world, you can certainly envision a time where the world has to regroup with regards to their currency and debt. I'm not predicting the End Times, but certainly the technology is getting to the point where we really don't need to lug around cash. We're not quite there, but close.

Friday, May 27, 2011

#91: iPhone Stock Picking Apps; Sell in May

The Market and iPhone Stock Picking Apps $$!

  • The stock market was down for the fourth week in a row.  $$ You probably didn’t notice it, as we’ve had a few days of rallies to soften the blow.  For the week, the Dow down .6%, the SP500 down .2%, and the Nasdaq down .2%
  • For today, the market advanced.  The University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index rose to 74.3, above the 70 estimates.  Hey! Gasoline prices came down a bit!  That’s more spending money for proms, Father’s Day, and social networking IPOs!
  • But, do you really need to watch the charts when you have a free app that tells you when to buy and sell, short and cover?  There’s an app for that!  Stock Mentor!


  • It’s tough to argue with a 3-month track record!  It looks like it just goes long or short the SP500.  Eh, I downloaded it!  Free!  Why not?
  • Or Stock Genie 2?  This one gives you daily stock picks, long or short, with stop loss numbers, short-term goals and long-term goals.  Just pick how much money you want to make!








  • Stock Genie 2 It’s only $2.99.  How much is Revshark charging you again?
  • The first rule of Stock Genie 2, is that you don’t talk about Stock Genie 1.  I don’t know, but Stock Genie 2 is a curious title.  Makes me wonder a bit about the first version, you know?
  • But check the review by “Helpless User:” “This app actually makes money. More you use it more money you make.  Stock predictions are right most of the time.  A ‘must have’ …. app.”
  • All right.  I don’t know how these will do over time, might be fun to follow for a bit.
  • TGIF!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Freescale IPO up 1.8%

Freescale $FSL IPO $FSL - Freescale - had their IPO today. How'd they do? Well, the IPO priced at the low of their lowered IPO range at $18. By the end of the trading day, the stock was up 1.8%.

Not horrible. Who wouldn't want to make 1.8%? But certainly a little flat compared to last week's $LNKD, eh?

I was just reading about $FSL, and they had gone public and then private again, before going pubic again today. It could be that this just isn't sexy enough. Maybe if they had a website that had a social networking aspect, like tagging photos or something, the stock would have gone up 100%. But they don't. (At least, I don't think they do).

It will be interesting to see how Freescale will do going forward. I fully expect LinkedIn to be grounded. But it could be that Freescale is appropriately priced.

But I bet the insiders with the biggest number of shares wish they had a photo-tagging website with Facebook integration or something.

I think the fish are still biting for the sexy IPOs.

Late Market Thoughts

The stock market heads into Memorial Day weekend, fighting to break a three-week losing streak. I wrote the other day that while many holiday weekends see a stock market bump heading into the weekend, Memorial Day has tended to be flat. Although, we have rallied the past couple of days ahead of the unofficial weekend of summer.

After the weekend, we hit the first of the month pattern. Money flows into 401(k) plans and such from payroll, and tends to keep a bid under the market.

Once again, the market may give folks yet another chance to lighten up ahead of summer. The market has basically been trending sideways for awhile now!

I remain long, in low-beta stuff, with some oil and some cash. No changes.

I've been playing with Amibroker and a new trading system that is more short-term in duration. More to come...

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

What? Freescale Semiconductor IPO Pricing Below Expectations?

Hold your horses!  Last week’s $LNKD IPO was hot, and now $FSL is pricing below expecations?


No positions…  More on Freescale Semiconductor here.

Lets see if the fish are bitin’…

Mark Haines

imageToday we awoke with the sad news that CNBC anchor Mark Haines had passed away.

When I flipped on the TV this morning, I saw the CNBC round table going over the news that Mark Haines had passed away.  My deepest sympathies go out to his family, friends and coworkers.

My sympathies also go out to everyone who watched Mark Haines every morning and delivered financial stories, from the stock market bubble, 9/11, bear markets, real estate bubbles, Greenspan, Bernanke, and all the rest that impacted our lives.

I thought CNBC was very classy to invite the cast and crew that had sit side by side with Haines over the years, and spend some time remembering and sharing stories with all of us.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Stock Market and Memorial Day Weekend

stock market memorial day How does the stock market do around Memorial Day?

Great column from CXO. You know, I like to look at the historical patterns around election cycles, seasons, beginning of month, end of month, options week, and holidays. Memorial Day is on deck, and this is a great look at what the market tends to do around the unofficial beginning of summer.

Some holidays are better than others... Historically, anyway.

Notice the screen cap using the new version of the Opera Mini browser for the iPad? A little quicker speed due to compressing data. And if you're worried about limited data, it's worth taking a look at.

The Evil Oil Speculators

oil speculators Evil Oil Speculators get the blame for manipulating oil prices - for 2008. And remember, that was the era of "drill baby drill" and one of the factors that led the US into a recession.

With oil prices again hitting consumers in the wallet, President Obama is again looking for a scapegoat in the Evil Oil Speculators.

Are they to blame this time?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Stocks Trying to Pare Losses

Stocks rebound Stocks trying to rebound a bit and there is still some time left.

But it is a day where the NASDAQ is leading the SP500, and the SP500 is leading the Dow. That is typical trending action when the market is in an uptrend or downtrend. The most volatile sectors lead the way.

Just had a burrito here on the left coast. I think the prices are up a bit at my favorite cantina!

Market Sheds Risk

Stock fearWell, fear is returning to the markets. Yes, sell in May seems to be working again. Getting the blame? Greece! But it's the same old, same old, right? We have known about this for awhile. Greece spends a lot of money that it doesn't have. That never ends up well.

Maybe that's a lesson for the US. And California. I know - nobody wants their benefits taken away. But if we don't stop it, the markets have a way of stopping it for us.

The stock market is shedding risk today. I still think we are just having a correction and it will be frustrating for a while. The comments I made in the "sell in May" Audioboo/podcast are stll what I believe. The market gave folks another chance to lighten up last week.

I remain in low beta stuff, some oil and some cash.

Friday, May 20, 2011

#90: The Rapture, LinkedIn, Social Security and Medicare, Israel

#89: Sell In May - Summer Stock Trading Range

TGIF Randomosity (and the Rapture)!

  • The Dow down for third week in a row.
  • imageHow’d $BKS do? Up about 30% on the takeover news.  The rapture came a day early for the Barnes and Noble shorts.
  • The reason du jour for the market swoon?  Consumer demand may be weakening.  No secret, right?  We’re spending more on gasoline, which leaves less to spend at the stores.  And retailers were smacked. 
  • imageThe Gap ($GPS) was down over 17%.  They blamed rising sourcing costs (cotton) and the Japan earthquake, and warned that it doesn’t know how it can pass the rising costs to consumers.
  • Yesterday, President Obama told Israel that the country had to pull back to the 1967 boundaries.  Netanyahu ruled that out today in his visit with Obama.
  • Just a reminder, the Rapture is tomorrow.
  • Did you know that the Investors Intelligence survey, a benchmark measure of bulls vs. bears, shows the least number of bulls since last October.  The Dow was 1500 lower then.  So how does that line up with the fish-are-biting bullishness in the IPO market?
  • Florida and Texas compete for “most job friendly state.”  California nowhere to be found…

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Thursday IPO Chugging Randomosity

  • imageInvestors are lining up for their turn at the IPO bong hits.  Chugging $LNKD feels so smooth going down.
  • Shares of LinkedIn had been priced at $14.50 a share on SecondMarket in April of last year, rising to $25 a share by December, and reaching $35 by March of this year. Initially priced at $45, shares of LinkedIn jumped to $94.25 by the close of their first day of trading on the New York Stock Exchange.
  • I saw Ben Stein recommend $EWJ on one of the Fox Business Shows (Cavuto).  Japanese stocks up two days in a row.  I kind of think it’s a good long term play, but I’d be tempted to swing trade it.
  • $BKS, Barnes and Noble, up 24% afterhours on news that Liberty Media Corp offered to buy the company.
  • Haley Reinhart sent home on American Idol.  It’s an all-country finale.
  • By the way, the rapture is this Saturday, May 21st, according to the work of Harold Camping.  "We know without any shadow of a doubt it is going to happen," he said.  Now, I’ve read enough to know that the Bible says something to the effect that No Man knows the day or hour.  So, I have a hunch this prediction will add to the scrap heap of other predictions.
  • Sign of the end times for a bull market is crazy-ass IPOs, and mergers and acquisitions near bull market high prices.
  • I keep thinking I’m going to get even more conservative in my portfolio, and raise some cash.  The market seems to be giving us another chance to lighten up before the summer.

LinkedIn: $LNKD - Moonshot IPO

LNKD "Houston, we have lift off." LinkedIn ($LNKD) debuts today and now has the valuation worth more than the European Union.

Just kidding about that. But imagine if Greece could have sunk their entire treasury into the IPO at $45. All their financial troubles would be over.

Or Governor Jerry Brown of California. Same deal. "We found a solution to the deficit crisis: Social networking IPOs."

You've heard of LinkedIn, right? It's the place you go to find former coworkers, send them a message, and they email back, "I don't check LinkedIn very often. Friend me in Facebook."

Anyway, the stock is ripping today. The fish are biting. Reminds me of 1999-2000. Back then I had access to a few IPOs before they opened and it was Rip City. While it lasted.

I really don't know the business model of LNKD. Hopefully they have some way of making money off of businesses or advertising. Because just being a middleman, a redirect to Facebook, doesn't seem like a long term strategy.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Market Top? Check the Indicators!

Great column from Mark Hulbert that takes a look at market topping indicators. Looks like we're about there.

In addition to the indicators identified there, remember that we sometimes see increased mergers and acquisitions, as well as IPO activity. Under the covers, the stocks that lead up can't seem to push up anymore ($AAPL).

With all that said, the market held the 50dma and had a strong bounce today. Things are holding up so far. We are in options week. We are in the month of May heading into the weaker Summer season with the market near it's bull market highs. But you kind of have to be thinking, in the back of your head, if the market is giving folks another chance to Sell in May and Go Away.

Phew, work is kicking it to me this week. Know what I mean?

Who Uses LinkedIn? (The New Miracle IPO: $LNKD)

LinkedIn is going to IPO tomorrow as $LNKD. Shares were projected at $32-35, but will go for about $45.

And then it gets interesting.

I'm not sure I'm a believer in the website. I haven't been there in quite a long time. I suppose somebody must be using it. It sure doesn't seem to have the social aspect to it that Facebook has. Maybe job searchers use it, or folks trying to find former coworkers.

My experience was that I signed up on LNKD, found a few folks I used to work with, sent them a message, and they all replied "I hardly check here, go to my Facebook page."

But I wish LNKD well! I'm sure the IPO will be a big hit tomorrow. It doesn't pass my Peter Lynch "Buy what you know" test, because I don't know folks who spend any time on it.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Tuesday Randomosity

  • Nice bounce back late in the day for the market. I think lots of stuff close to the 50dma, plus or minus. Feels like it's a make or break moment. Options expiration week tends to see some pretty wild swings. I wouldn't be surprised to see a bounce. I remain long in low beta stuff, some oil (ouch) and some cash.

  • DELL PC sales fall 8%, but the company reported record revenues as the PC upgrade cycle continues. Stock up over 4% after hours. My biggest fear is that the tablets will overwhelm the big PC makers. Initially on the consumer side, and eventually on the corporate side.

  • George Soros dumps $800 million worth of gold in the first quarter. Sweet move by the Puppet Master. My guess is that he was selling a lot of that gold to his puppets.

  • Dividend stock battle: $T vs. $VZ. Who comes out on top, ATT or Verizon?

  • Kind of strange that Dell moves up after hours today, following yesterday's HP spanking.

  • The bill to raise taxes on big oil slows down. Of course, the tax subsidies really "spread the wealth" and keep gasoline prices down. Eliminating the tax breaks means that oil companies will have to raise the price of their product, or cut the cost of labor.

  • Did you know that there is going to be a new Charlie's Angels starring Rachael Taylor, Annie Ilonzeh and Minka Kelly? Filmed in Miami? Really.

The Mortgage Crisis Investigation

Mortgage crisisThe investigation into the mortgage crisis continues, as the government looks for a scapegoat. Maybe they should look in the mirror.

I know there are so many details and specifics piled onto this crisis. But the story gets down into the weeds so quickly, that it's easy to miss what started the problem.

It's like looking at the Mississippi River in Louisiana, and forgetting that it actually starts as a trickle of water further up north.

The bottom line is that banks made loans to people who never had a chance of making monthly mortgage payments. That's it. Without those bad loans, none of the rest of it happens.

Didn't the government mandate that banks make those loans?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Monday Randomosity

  • Ominous cloud: $HPQ is down nearly 5% afterhours. “Watch every penny and minimize all hiring.” Yikes. That’s not what we like to hear.
  • Warren Buffet buys 216,000 shares of $MA in the first quarter. Gee, wouldn’t it be nice to have know that in last year’s fourth quarter?
  • Donald Trump will not run for President. Phew, I don’t know what I’d do Sunday nights without the Celebrity Apprentice! Besides, isn’t President Obama a shoe-in for re-election? C’mon. He is. That’s why we’re getting the retreads running on the GOP side. The Bob Dole or John McCain types. The GOP is not going to run a strong candidate until 2016.
  • Did you read where the US and Pakistan are going to cooperate on terror targets? Yeah, like they’re our “partners.” C’mon. Really? I suppose everyone is trying to save face. But I think Pakistan is part of the problem, not part of the solution. Of course, keep your friends close and your enemies closer, right?
  • California tax revenues come in higher than projected, but Governor Jerry Brown still wants to raise taxes on the middle class via sales tax and the DMV car fees. I think the plan was to pay for half of the debt with cuts, and the other half with tax hikes. But now that tax revenues are up, CA doesn’t need the tax hikes. The budget can be balanced by the spending cuts alone. If high taxes were the answer, CA wouldn’t have a problem as the state is near the top-taxed state in the US.

Stocks Crater

Stock marketThe Nasdaq led to the downside today as stocks plummeted because (Pick no more than 2):

1. European debt. There goes Greece, again. Oh, and Portugal, too.

2. The arrest of the head of the IMF, Dominique Strauss-Kahn. Seems like he is alleged to have chased an employee down the hall, and sexually assaulting her.

3. RIM recalling 1000 playbooks. Seems like there is a problem with the operating system that prevents users from setting up the device.

4. Oil falls below $98 a barrel, as all this nonsense about a "summer driving season" is a bunch of, uh, nonsense. Gasoline fell 3-cents a gallon. If you fill up with 15-gallons, that's $.45. Now take that to Nordstrom's and spend, spend, spend!

5. US debt ceiling reached, again.

6. $50 LED 100 watt lightbulbs. Hey, nobody said environmentally friendly = cheap.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

When Defensive Stocks Run...

defensive stocksOne of the first signs of a stock market correction (or worse) is when the leading stocks stop going up, and the defensive stocks start going up.

Here we have defensive stocks making their move while other more volatile sectors are struggling.

Managers who run mutual funds have the mandate to be fully invested. As the market moves up, the hot sectors and volatile stock names make huge gains and funds try to buy as much as possible. But when things take a turn for the worse, these volatile sectors and stocks will correct more than more boring stocks. The manager who must remain fully invested will sell the volatile companies and buy the boring, defensive companies.

Back from Reno! Big storm up the mountains, so came home a little earlier than planned. I wanted to play defensive and not risk the high-volatile driving in a foot of snow. Since this is Spring, sometimes these storms lead to worse traffic as folks aren't prepared.

Social Security and Medicare: The Money is Running Out

social security and medicare Bad news from Social Security and Medicare, the money is running out earlier than expected. The new numbers? Social Security date is 2036 and the Medicare date is 2024.

Whoa, Muck! That's like a million years away!

From an investing stand point, it is really sad that workers pay 12.4% into Social Security over their working years and get so little in return. Imagine your portfolio if you had invested 12.4% of your income into the total stock market index fund from age 18 to 67. You'd have a lot more money than Social Security will pay you.

There will be those who suggest that the employers pay half of that 12.4%. However, it is important to remember that employers don't ever pay taxes; employers collect taxes. The taxes employers pay are a result of charging higher prices for goods and services, or paying less money in wages and benefits to employees. Social Security taxes are your 6.2% plus the 6.2% the employer extracts from you via lower wages and higher costs.

Others may suggest that Social Security is an "insurance" program for old age. Most investment advisors would suggest that using insurance as an investment vehicle is poor financial planning.

The country faces retiring baby boomers and the inability to keep promises made from an inadequate and poorly planned savings plan called Social Security. In order to fix it, promises have to be broken. Either benefits will be reduced or taxes will be increased. Perhaps the benefits will be means tested, and those who are wealthy will be excluded.

Whatever the solution is, I believe most of us would have been much better off investing that 12.4% of wages in the Wilshire 5000 from ages 18-67.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

In Reno!

I'm in Reno for a few days...

Seems like Blogger has been down a bit the past couple of days. The last few posts didn't make it!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Sell in May DOGPILE!

Sell in maySell in May is so obvious now - (How obvious is it?), that the USA Today has an article on it!

Ah, not that the market has totally collapsed beneath our feet, but sure feels different.

Maybe all the attention to sell in May could be a glaring contrarian alert, though. Just throwing that out there.

I remain long in low beta stuff and a collapsing oil stock, and some cash. Totally out of the day trades for now

At the local Indian Casino! Up!

Stocks Fall on Oil Inventory

The market indexes off about 1% around the board today. Getting the blame? Oil prices are falling, due to increasing oil and gas inventories. Commodities also joined the selling parade.

Overall, this is good for consumers, right? Previously, I noted that the demand for fuel was falling, even as households were spending more and more on gasoline as a percentage of their monthly budgets. Here is some news that consumers are about to get a break on the amount being spent at the pump. Yes, that means more money to spend on clothes, cheesecake, and iTunes.

There is an "on the other hand," here. That is, that the reason the demand for fuel is declining is because the economy is slowing and consumers are tightening their belts. The GDP came in at a revised 1.8%, and that put a damper on the economic mood.

The final thought is that since it is May, the market is going down no matter what reason we give.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Tuesday Randomosity

  • Today's reason du jour for the stock market advance? Dip buyers! Really. Seems like, according to Yahoo Finance, that after a few days down, folks just can't help themselves and they buy stocks.

  • Oh, and Microsoft buys Skype. This may have been a bigger deal a few years ago. I'm thinking Face Time does the same sort of things, and is more convenient. Just saying.

  • Disney has poor 2Q because of downtime in Japan theme parks and Mars Needs Moms. Hey, it was the stock that could do no wrong. And this is one of those companies that could directly be hit by consumers paying more at the pump for fuel, too.

  • Romeo out on Dancing with the Stars. Hmm, I thought the Karate Kid Ralph Macchio would be out next...

  • Google launching cloud-based music service. Hmm. Well, it's not a fresh idea, but if it's incorporated into Android correctly, it'll be a hit.

  • House Speaker John Boehner says that tax hikes are off the table. Non-starter. Won't happen. Read his lips. You get the idea. Well, that ought to shore up the dollar, eh? Republicans remove tax hikes, while Democrats remove spending cuts. Lah, lah, lah, lah, life goes on.

Late night at the office, so I didn't work out tonight. Started week 13 of weights last night. Just didn't have time or energy after work today. That kind of day...

How to Spot a Market Top

lady gaga farmville Hot to spot a top: Lady Gaga on Farmville. Could a peak be more obvious?

It's difficult to be a contrarian when everyone seems to be on the bandwagon. But, the next thing you know the sidebar ads have been replaced with ads for silver coins. People quit their jobs to day trade. Maybe Fonzie jumps a shark. Erin Burnett leaves CNBC for CNN. Or maybe Lady Gaga releases new songs on Facebook.

It sure seems cool, but there is something wrong. It just doesn't make sense anymore.

US Post Office Needs a Debt Ceiling

Post office US Post Office loses $2.2 billion dollars. Anyone care?

Let's face it, the Internet and cell phones have killed the Post Office. Is the Post Office even relevant anymore as a 6-day a week operation? Would anyone mind if it went to a M-W-F operation?

Monday, May 09, 2011

Who is Going to Replace Erin Burnett on CNBC? (Randomosity…)

  • Today is the day Erin Burnett didn’t show up to work at CNBC. She’s gone.  History.  She’s off to some other network that I’m not even sure is in my ATT U-verse subscription plan.  While we wish her well, who will CNBC replace Erin Burnett with?  Some blonde with an Australian accent?
  • How about replacing Erin Burnett with someone who has a Korean accent and English subtitles, like Korean pop singer Lee Hyori?

  • Or, former Lakers coach Phil Jackson?  (Not pictured)  Hey, if Phil was Erin’s replacement, we may see the game plan change a bit.  Maybe if the market is heading down, Rick Santelli would throw an elbow into Jim Cramer’s mug.
  • Today’s reason du jour for the stock bounce?  Rebound in oil (and commodities).
  • Yeah, silver up 5%.  BOING!  The reason stated is US dollar weakness and the fear of European debt.  Why not evil speculators here?  Heck, everyone is blaming the speculators for the high oil prices, which is ridiculous for a global commodity that trades 80million barrels a day.  But silver, that doesn’t do anything but look pretty, jumps 5%?  Yeah, Evil Silver Speculators!
  • Will Brian Shaw be the next coach of the Los Angeles Lakers?  Yikes. 
  • Market thoughts… Still long the low beta stuff, some oil and some cash.

Will the EPA Make Natural Gas More Expensive?

imageThe story of the tainted drinking water near the natural gas wells could mean higher prices.  $UNG  $CHK

Natural gas has been seen as America’s hope for a cleaner transportation fuel, in addition to its use for creating electricity and home uses.  America has plenty of untapped natural gas wells, and the process of fracking (injecting chemicals in the rocks) can produce even more.

But here come the environmentalists and the lawyers trying to make a buck filing environmental lawsuits.  (Neocon talking point alert!)

If I had to make a guess, this kind of activity will decrease the exploration and production of new natural gas sources, driving up the costs of existing resources.  (And maybe cause us to increase, or not decrease, the use of coal).

We just saw what happened to oil after the BP oil disaster and the restrictions on US off-shore drilling.  Oil prices and gasoline prices have sored.

Are we about to see the same in Natural Gas?

Disclosure:  Long CHK.


Hey, I don’t want methane coming out of my water faucet, either!  But this is one of those stories that resonates with folks, and can have legs.  Even if down the road studies reveal that there is very little risk associated with the process.

Just as nuclear power = China Syndrome and “blinky” from The Simpsons, natural gas could = fire shooting out of the water faucet.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Your Monthly Gas Bill - Up!

Monthly gas bill Your monthly gas bill! Good column from CNN. $$

So the amount households are spending to fuel up their cars is 9% of the family budget. And that's double from a few years ago.

Bottom line is that when folks are spending money on fuel, they are spending less at the stores. This is like a tax hike in Main Street.

And this is why President Obama is now talking about gasoline and Evil Big Oil companies non-stop. He knows 2012 is coming up quickly and he doesn't want to ignore this hot-button issue.

We are also seeing less demand for fuel. As costs rise, we cut back. Still, fuel prices are becoming a larger percentage of our budgets.

Oil shocks usually lead to recessions and stock market corrections. Is that what we are seeing take shape now?

On the other hand, it's Saturday night and once again I am at the local Indian casino. No sign of a recession here. Maybe with a somewhat better economy, folks are spending a little more. At least at the slots!

I'm up a little. Taking a mocha break.

Saturday Randomosity

  • Gas prices hurting folks. Seeking a scapegoat, President Obama blames "Big Oil" instead of his own energy policy. Or lack thereof. He urges foreign countries to increase oil output, while prohibiting domestic companies from doing the same.
  • Jim Rogers says the commodities bull market will continue, with corrections along the way. Rogers has nailed the commodities move.
  • The Mad Hedge Fund Trader went short this past week. So you know.
  • How lazy is my Saturday? Caught up with Stargate Universe, and watched Star Wars Episode 1. Now, Episode 2. LAZY!
  • Jeff Pierce's market signals on the verge of turning. So you know.
  • By the way, I don't know these folks who are timing the market. But I do enjoy reading things from their point of view, as I like to time the market as well.
  • Bike ride time!

Friday, May 06, 2011

TGIF Randomosity

  • image244,000 jobs added last month!  But the unemployment rate went up to 9%.  Hmm… Well, “they” say that the reason the unemployment rate went up because folks got up off the sofa and went and looked for work.
  • Fannie Mae asking for another $8.5 billion.  What’s the definition of insanity?  Isn’t it “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result?”  So, here we have them asking for money again.  I wonder what we’ll do, being insane and all…
  • I don’t get the folks asking for proof that Osama bin Laden is really dead.  I think they got him.  I’m certainly glad they killed him and dumped the body in the sea.  The last thing anyone needed was a lengthy trial where he could have spouted his nonsense.  Or a burial site that gets treated like holy ground.  We did the right thing.  Dead and gone.
  • Talk about your contrarian results, Thor gets good reviews.
  • “The makers of 3D Sex and Zen: Extreme Ecstasy are presenting Singapore with a heavily self-censored release with more than 18 minutes of the completed film cut…”   Hmm, I don’t know why that one got my attention.  You?  “Edge of the bed action.”  Whoa, Nellie.
  • Jacob Lusk booted from American Idol and blames Jimmy Iovine.  Heck, blame the lousy singing.  That was long overdue.  I was amazed Lauren was in the bottom two.  I still think the finale is between Lauren and Scotty.  They seem to have the most talent.  Although, Haley seems to be stepping it up recently.  IMHO, of course.

#87: Oil and Silver Crash! Sell in May, the Black Box

Thursday, May 05, 2011

The Commodities Crash!

The CNBC iphone and ipad app has a column up on the Commodities Crash. Basically, "stuff" is falling out of bed here.

commodities crash

I'm sure the column is up on the normal CNBC website, which is why I provided the link. But if you have an iPad or iPhone, the app is pretty good.

Anyway, isn't it amazing how quickly oil and the metals have fallen? It's the kind of action that's more than just a one-day wonder. It's like a free fall collapse. Like the game has changed.

I'm reading on some of my favorite sites about how now is time to ultra-short the metals, especially Silver. Hey, that would have been great before this week started, but now? Yes, if the trend has changed there is plenty of room to the downside. But... Wow.

That's my thought. Oil is heading down. I'd think gasoline prices will follow. And right ahead of summer. Who would have thought? Of course, this could mean that the market is starting to price in a slower economy...

I'm still in low beta stuff and some oil, with some cash.

After this down week, tomorrow may see some folks book some gains and send the market higher. If we do get a bounce, I wouldn't blame anyone for "selling in May."

Thursday Randomosity

  • Chinese IPOs falling flat.  $RENN and $NQ falling flat this week.
  • Oil falls $10 and falls below $100 a barrel. A 9% drop today!    Basically, this is reflecting a drop off in demand, as I mentioned in the podcast/audioboo yesterday.  Folks are spending money on other stuff and ridesharing (or something).  Maybe it’s the unemployment going up again that is taking cars off the roads.
  • Unemployment claims reach 8-month high.  Yeah, a 23% spike in unemployment applications.
  • Meanwhile, silver is already about $16 off it’s high – $50.
  • Bottom line, there has been a big drop in commodities this past week.
  • The funny thing, sorta, is that this week was supposed to be bullish, right?  First week in May during the third term of the Presidential cycle.  Nope.  Hey, it’s just a trend, not a sure thing.
  • Sell in May seems to be working.
  • One curious thing is that the Nasdaq is outperforming the DOW.  Usually, the NDX leads the Nasdaq, the Nasdaq leads the SP500, and the SP500 leads the DOW – in both directions.  So it’s a bit strange that the DOW is leading here.
  • Lakers down 0-2.  It looks ugly for them.  They should’ve easily won game 1, but didn’t.  Dallas took game 2.  Now it’s off to Dallas.

I'm Daytrading Today

In what may be signs of a market top, I'm day trading two stocks today. $$

I don't do this often. But I think it's a gambling bug combined with some cash on the sidelines. It's a bit frustrating getting .01% in money markets so I feel compelled to do something. It's a small, very small, percentage of the portfolio. Just playing for a few percent gain.

I'm not going to mention the stocks because that won't help anyone. And that's not what this website is about. Folks can listen to Cramer for stock picks. He gives a lot of them! Lol.

I have one loser very close to a stop and one winner that's doing well. Probably a little under water overall so far.

If I only was comped a drink, this would be exactly like a casino...

I've eased back on the pics lately. I know.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

There are no Green Jobs

Since Obama's started his presidential campaign through now, he has promised "green jobs."

Guess what? There are no green jobs.

The link is to an ABC story that details the training programs that aren't leading to green jobs. The jobs just don't exist. Plus the programs that do place people are placing many of them in other kinds of jobs that have nothing to do with being green.

I think this gets back to the problem that the whole idea of green energy lacks substance. For all the talk of solar and wind energy, there just isn't enough of it to make a difference.

I wonder how many jobs would have been created if the restrictions on oil exploration and drilling would have been lifted?

Yes, I know we need do research and try to figure out what the next energy sources will be. But in the meantime, we have to also consider our existing needs today, and not just 20-40 years out.

I don't want to get too political on this, because whenever "green jobs" are mentioned, people choose sides quickly. I just want to focus on the reality of the situation where we're seeing high fuel prices and tight energy supplies impact people negatively. The economy is fragile, and oil shocks tend to lead to recessions.

#86: Dunkin' Donuts IPO, Clearwire, Gasoline Demand Falling, Digital Media Subscripitions

Weak Data Part Deux

imageAgain with the weak data as the reason du jour for the stock market selling.  Sigh.  And I was going to blame the Sacramento Rivercats losing to the Salt Lake Bees 8-1 this afternoon.

Which is where I was.

Anyway, the story is that the number of companies coming in with weaker data is on the rise. Some of that I blame on higher energy prices.  When folks spend more money on gasoline, they spend less money elsewhere.  It’s not just fuel, grocery prices are up, too.

As I mentioned in the Podcasts (Audioboos), I definitely respect the historical trends in the market, such as the seasonal pattern for the strong months vs. the weak months.  I also have a “Black Box” timing system that I respect, but have to be on the look out for false signals.

My data isn’t available yet for the Black Box, so stay tuned for more on that.


Mid-80’s.  Sunshine.  Baseball.  A sack of peanuts.  And a few beers.  Nothing weak about that.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Seasonality: There's Always a Reason

Here we are at the beginning of May, and suddenly people are noticing that "Hmmmmmm," earnings are coming in a little weak.

Well, it has been a mixed bag of economic news. The recent GDP number came in at 1.8%. Gas prices continue to climb. Apple and Exxon are making billions. It seems consumers are burning a lot of fuel driving around from Apple store to Apple store, trying to find an iPad 2.

So, the reason du jour for today's market action is weak earnings. But we've seen week earnings over the course of this earnings season, and it didn't matter until now.

What's different?

It's May! It's Sell in May and Go Away!

Okay. It's more complicated than that. It's an extended market, looking to a couple quarters down the road when the Fed starts to remove Quantitative Easing from the system. It's a market starting to wonder about year over year earnings comparisons with consumers spending more for fuel and having less to spend at stores and restaurants.

Whatever it is, it is.

And it just happens to be May.

Taking a night off from working out. Did a lot of cycling over the weekend and yesterday. Yesterday started week 12 of my bodybuilding routine and had a great workout. Feeling a little spent and sore today, so giving the body a rest before hitting it again tomorrow.

Just sharing, but the 12-week routine has been great. If you're not hitting the weights, give it a try. See HomeGymFitness on YouTube for motivation and some ideas. Or read the Challenge Yourself book by Clarence Bass.

#85: Sell in May and Go Away?

Sluggish Tuesday

The market is having another sluggish day, as interest rate hikes and the end of the Fed’s easing cycle weighs on investor’s minds.

Or so goes the reason du jour.

India hiked rates .5%, and Thomas Hoenig of the KC Fed said maybe it was time to unwind the easing policy.

As I type, gold, silver and oil are down.

Sears ($SHLD) is down. I won’t buy Sears stock for the simple reason I never shop there. The best place to park at malls is near the Sears, because that’s the least crowded lot!
Starting to feel like Sell in May?

I don’t day trade often, but am a little today. I’m not going to tout the name here, but I just wanted to note that today was a day I’m trying to spice things up. It’s a week away from earnings and already has a big short position as the stock as moved up a bit. It’s been volatile today. So, this could be a little spicy. Just noting it down in case I need to review in the future reasons why NOT to day trade.

Monday, May 02, 2011

...And Gas Prices Continue to Climb

gas prices Gasoline prices continue to increase.

Many thought that the death of Osama Bin Laden, or Usama Bin Laden for the Fox News readers, would help to bring down oil prices down. Initially, this happened. But oil prices rebounded as the day went on.

The thought is that just because Osama is dead, it doesn't mean that terrorism is over. In addition, there are some other issues facing the economy.

First, oil prices are determined by supply and demand. Even though some of the economic numbers have come in a little murky lately, the GDP is not negative. The economy is sluggish at 1.8%, but it is positive growth. In addition, world economies are doing better as well.

Next, the Federal Reserve is keeping interest rates low and continuing with Quantitative Easing. This is putting pressure on the dollar. Oil is denominated in dollars. In addition, the annual deficit is $1.6 trillion, while the US debt is over $14 trillion dollars. This also puts pressure on the dollar. Again, oil is denominated in dollars.

There is talk about "oil speculators" driving the price of oil up. But there are over 80 million barrels of oil consumed a day. And these folks are really betting against the economic policies of Obama, Geithner, and Bernanke. It's been the right environment to make money in commodities. In addition to oil, just look at the price of gold, silver, cotton, sugar, etc.

Is there anything on the horizon that could bring down the price of oil and gasoline? Absent a recession?

#84: Osama bin Laden, Stocks Yawn, Economy and Oil

Osama Bin Laden Dead, Stocks Look to Future

Stocks slip I’m not going to say that “efficient market theory” had the Osama bin Laden killing baked into the cake, but the overall market reaction was nothing. After the President announced that Osama bin Laden was killed, the market futures were up and many expected that we’d see a big gap up at the market open. Eh, didn’t really materialize. Sure, we were up, but soon came floating back down.

Maybe it is because the war on terror is larger than Osama. No doubt, there will be others who take his place. In addition, this won’t change the way we now conduct business. Homeland Security will still exist, and we will all have to continue go through airport security screenings.

Nevertheless, we should feel a little better that Osama is dead and for the US troops who took him down.

The market continues to look to the things that matter for the economy. The stock market is near bull market highs, and investors are right to be a little nervous. High energy prices are impacting consumers’ ability to spend on other things. The GDP is sluggish. Unemployment remains high and the jobless numbers seem to have taken a turn for the worse.

In addition, we have the calendar and market seasonality. Who hasn’t heard about “sell in May” the past few days?

As of the weekend, the total return for the SP500 had been about 9%.

Hey, I think it’s great Osama bin Laden is DEAD. I think it’s great we flew into Pakistan and got him. I’d like to see the video on YouTube. It must have been incredible.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Osama Bin Laden Dead and the US Stock Market Reaction on Monday

Osama bin Laden is DeadOsama bin Laden is dead.


Congratulations to the US troops in the field and to President Obama.

I expect the stock market reaction will be quite positive to this event. While we may face some reaction from the forces of terrorism, this is a major victory for the US and our allies and friends around the globe.

Maybe the reaction in the gold and silver market won't be as good. This could reduce the risk premium built up in the metals. But at the same time, it's not like the US fiscal policy is in order as the dollar could continue to decline in all the stimulus and easy Fed policies.

But for a moment, at least this evening, this isn't about stocks. This is about good winning over evil.

God bless America.


Obama Has a Little Fun at Trump’s Expense

Actually, this is the video from the 2011 White House correspondents’ dinner.

I thought the bits were pretty good.

This is a light-hearted event, so even though there are economic issues facing the country, I think it’s nice to take a break and laugh at ourselves from time to time.