Sell in May and go away. It looks
like we are the only folks with that aphorism in mind this year.
Wachovia is buying (for $6.8 billion) AG Edwards, the St Louis
based brokerage house, at the top of the market. As with all the companies
being acquired this year we wonder what these buyers were thinking in 2003 when
the current crop of buyout candidates were priced at half or less of their
higher overnight with Shanghai up
1.4% and many European bourses are up over 1% at .
Treasuries are flat ahead of GDP data release at
and Oil is down what it was up yesterday and Gold is up $3 in early NYC
First Quarter Preliminary GDP annualized was up 0.6% revised from
1.3% and with the core PCE (inflation) at 2.2%. Jobless claims for the latest
week were 310,000.
The press release on GDP
economy grew at a 0.6% annualized pace in the quarter, revised down from the
initial estimate of 1.3%, the government said in its second estimate of
quarterly gross domestic product. It was the slowest growth since late 2002."
Another agency of the Federal Government
is reporting that home prices rose, albeit at a 0.5% rate, in the first quarter
of 2007. So maybe we should take the GDP numbers with many grains of salt.
prices increased 0.5% in the first quarter, the slowest quarter-to-quarter
price gain in 10 years, the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise
Oversight reported Thursday. The OFHEO price index shows home prices are up
4.3% compared with a year earlier, the smallest gains in 10 years. Price
appreciation has slowed sharply from a 13.7% year-over-year gain in 2005."
The gurus are saying a weak
economy is good because the Fed will have to lower interest rates. Our take is
that as long as the stock markets are strong there is no way the Fed will lower
But we are in a momentum market
where bad news is good and good news is even better news. That is what yesterday’s
action was all about. That and the fact that it is month end.
stated in yesterday’s post that the transaction tax on Chinese stocks was 0.3
Yuan. The increased tax is 0.3% of the value of the transaction according to
the NYT. If the U.S. imposed such a tax the budget deficit would disappear. By
the way there is a rule in China
that the share price of any individual stock can only drop by 10% in one
retail milk prices have increased about 3 percent, or roughly a dime a gallon,
this year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. But University
of Illinois dairy specialist
Michael Hutjens forecasts further increases of up to 40 cents a gallon for milk
over the next few months and up to 60 cents for a pound of cheese. Hutjens and
others said higher gasoline prices have increased the costs of moving milk from
farm to market, and corn — the primary feed for dairy cattle — is being gobbled
up by producers of the fuel-additive ethanol. The USDA projects that 3.2
billion bushels of this year’s corn crop will be used to make ethanol, a 52
percent increase over 2006.
Ethanol has increased the average American's grocery bill $47 since July, and IowaStateUniversity
A taxi medallion which represents
the right to drive a taxi in NYC recently changed hands at $600,000. The first
taxi medallions were sold in 1937 for $10. As recently as 2001, taxi medallions
changed hands for $200,000. There are almost 12,000 taxi medallions for NYC.
When will the MERC begin trading
futures on NYC taxi medallions?
Stifel Nicklaus and Raymond
James which are two other regional brokerages are both up 7% in price today
in response to the buyout bid for AG Edwards. This mimic buying is a good
indication of a speculative market.
Gold closed up $7 at the sign of the devil $666.70. Oil gained 51 pennies to $64. Treasuries were lower with the two-year
at 4.91% and the ten-year at 4.89%.
European bourse indexes closed higher with many up over 1%. Mexico
was higher but Brazil was lower.
The DJIA closed down 7 points at 13625. The S&P 500 gained 1 point to 1531 and the NAZZ jumped 12 points to 2604.
Breadth was 5/4 positive and volume
New highs expanded to 560 and there were 60 new lows.
May you have a good night.
30 May 2007 Daily Comments
Asian contagion is on the
loose again this morning as Shanghai
sneezed and European and the US.
Markets caught the drift. Shanghai
was down 6.5% overnight supposedly in response to the tripling of the stock
transaction tax from .01 to .03 Yuan by the Chinese stock authorities in a bid
to cool stock market speculation. They succeeded at least for a day.
The rest of Asia
was lower and European bourses are lower by over 1% at .
measures are going to open down about 0.5%. Treasuries have a bid and Gold is
down $2 while Oil is up 30 pennies.
The 20 day moving average on the
S&P 500 is 1510 and it held at the down opening. That is bullish. After an
hour of trading stocks have now recovered and are trying to reach positive.
With month end upon us it will take another big downer in Shanghai
tonight (tomorrow) to move U.S.
stocks substantially lower before Friday and the Employment report.
Four of the 11 stocks Jim
Cramer recommended on his CNBC program "Mad Money" on Tuesday touched
52-week highs on Wednesday.
The momentum stocks are now the
stocks designated as takeover targets by gurus who suggest that LBO firms will
be interested. We are not entranced.
Today’s rally after last night’s
drop in Asia is giving us a chance to sell some more
We are going to take some more money off
the table today by selling Motorola, Gap, Sprint and GE. Sprint and Gap are LBO
This will raise a good deal of
cash. We would rather take our small amount in the market out early than late.
Why are we selling those
stocks? First of all, all stocks are anchovies. We have done well over the
last ten years trading stocks and going to cash when we perceive risk in the
market place. Currently, we perceive risk. The popularity of all forms of
gambling and the idea that poker is not a game of chance but a scientific
enterprise has permeated our culture. We laugh at the fact that 200,000 folks a
day are opening stock trading accounts in China
but we don’t bat an eye when Jim Cramer suggests a stock and it goes up 10% in
We have seen it all before from
Joe Granville to Dan Dorfman to Jim Cramer; from
Jimmy Ling and Charles Bludhorn to the Hunts; From
Penn Square, to Drexel and Mike Milken, to Long Term
Capital; from the creation of Gulf & Western to the Gold bull market of the
late 1970s to real estate and movie limited partnerships and annuities in the
early 1980s, to the 1987 Crash and junk bonds and the failed buyout of United
Airlines at $180 per share in October 1989, to internet stocks, and now to
every company with cash flow as a buyout target. Folks do make money. And
one person wins the World Championship of Poker.The other 10,000 who
entered lose all their money.
Sprint is undervalued in
relation to VZ and AT&T but it is not overvalued in relation to its own
earnings and revenues. Sprint is undervalued only if an LBO firm buys it. And
we don’t like the fact that S is borrowing money to repurchase shares when it
already has $20 billion in debt.
Motorola is in play
because Icahn owns shares and everything he buys goes
up—until it doesn’t. If he didn’t own it MOT would be selling at $15.
GE is cheap relative to
other big cap stocks. But the big cap boom may have run its course as the
momentum folks look elsewhere. And GE has been a source of cash for large
institutions for the past few years as it was extremely over owned during the
Jack Welch era. We have an idea that he picked Immelt
as CEO so that he wouldn’t be out performed. And he left Immelt
with a stock at 25 time earnings that should sell at 15 times earnings.
The Gap is a
buyout/recovery candidate. We don’t know what the Fishers will do. They control
the company and think that they themselves made it great. They didn’t, Mickey Drexler did. As with Motorola and Sprint and GE we are
hoping to buy shares of GPS at lower prices later this year.
Gold ended down $5 at $658
in NYC. Oil rose 32 pennies to $63.57. Treasuries were flat at
day’s end with the two-year at 4.89% and the ten-year at 4.88%.
European bourses recovered
most of their losses by their
close as the U.S.
markets rallied. Brazil
was up 1.4% and Mexico
was 1.9 % higher.
There was a record closefor
the DJIA and the S&P 500 just made it to a new all time record.
No such luck on the NAZZ as it is at 50% of its all time high. Folks aren’t
worried about the Gulf War games. Heck, most don’t even know they are
occurring. By today’s action the big boys and girls are saying China
will be higher tonight. And it is month end.
The DJIA gained 110 points
to close at 1330. The S&P 500 was up 12 points to 1530 and the NAZZ
gained 20 points to 2592.
Breadth was 2/1 positive
on the NYSE and 5/4 positive on the NAZZ and volume was active.
There were 315 new highs
and 95 new lows.
29 May 2007 Daily Comments
The prince and princess are
arriving today for the rest of the week and so we will be in and out. Moreover
as we begin the day our phone system is out but the message service is taking
calls and so we will return them as soon as the phones are working.
Consumer Confidence in May was 108 versus 106 last month.
mixed overnight with Shanghai up
over 1.5%. Europe is mixed and Oil is down over $1 with
Gold up $3. Treasuries are weaker.
As the end of May and time to go
away approaches we want to continue raising cash. There are rumors that Boston Scientific is going to have some more bad news for
its Taxus stent. We own for a trade and for the longer term its best
possibility is as a takeover target. That won’t happen until the stent
controversy is resolved. We are going to take our 40
pennies loss and move on.
The Chinese government has
sentenced the head of its Drug and Food agency in China
to death for corruption. And in Japan
a department minister committed suicide after being called to testify about
some funny stuff that went on is his department. In the U.
S. such officials either become lobbyists or
For the last two weeks the DJIA
has usually opened higher only to slip into negative territory after a few
hours of trading. This action is a distinct departure from the action of the
rally since the March lows. Whether it represents the pause that refreshes or….
only time will tell.
By the by, breadth remains 2/1
positive at 11am and the S&P 500 and NAZZ are higher as the DJIA is lower.
Smaller cap stocks may be playing catch up.
As the end of May approaches we
are seeking to eliminate trading positions that haven’t worked and want to own only
stocks we would add to at lower prices. We may yet sell everything and wait for
autumn but we aren’t there yet.
Oil ended down $2.05 at $63.15. Gold was up $2 to $663. Treasuries
closed a tick lower with the two-year at 4.89% and the ten-year at 4.88%.
European bourses closed mixed and Brazil
were both 1% lower.
The DJIA closed up 8 points at 13515. The S&P 500 was up 2 points at 1517 and the NAZZ gained 13 points to 2570.
Breadth retreated to 3/2 positive for the day and volume was moderate.
There were 295 new highs and 75 new lows.
25 May 2007 Daily Comments
The markets are
closed Monday in observance of Memorial Day so our next post will be Tuesday
The S&P 500 closed on its 20 day moving average on Thursday night.
This morning's rally off that close is important to show that the 20 day moving
average will hold as support. The break in February into mid March in the major
indexes occurred immediately after the S&P 500 failed to hold its 20 day
The Gap beat estimates by a penny. Hooray.
Asian markets were mostly lower
except Shanghais which recovered Thursday’s small loss. European bourses are down
small at . Treasuries are flat
and Gold is up a couple of dollars and Oil is up 50 pennies.
There were $480 billion in
leveraged loans last year and this year there will be substantially more. That
is one reason why stable interest rates are so important to stocks.
We are selling
Micron Tech for a scratch. When the shares broke down a few weeks
ago on the news of the sale of converts and the covered call strategy we said
that we would eliminate the position when the shares recovered to the point we
could exit without a loss. We are at that point.
The takeover rumors for Micron
persist but as we said yesterday we don’t think the company would have just completed
the convertible note financing if they were in talks. Of course a hostile bid
may be in the works. We bought the shares for a trade and the trade didn’t
work. Happily we didn’t lose any dollars for the experience.
Dow Jones has traded over $55 per share three times in the last 25
years. The first time was 1987, the second time was 2000 and this year is the
Existing Home Sales were down 2% in April which suggests that yesterday’
New Home Sales 16% increase was probable influenced by home builders giving
deals to buyers as the 10%drop in the median sales price of the new homes
At least 20 sub prime lenders
have filed for bankruptcy protection in the last few months.
And who said all the Neanderthals are dead?
From Reuters we learn that
Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma has blocked a Senate Resolution to honor Rachel
Carson who wrote the book Silent Spring.Sen. Tom Coburn derailed approval of a
Senate resolution honoring the life of Carson,
whose 1962 book "Silent Spring" warned of the dangers posed to
wildlife and humans by the pesticide DDT and who is credited with inspiring the
modern environmental movement. "Rachel Carson's work both directly and indirectly
created a climate of hysteria and disinformation about the impact of DDT on the
human populations," said John Hart, a spokesman for Coburn, in explaining
why the Oklahoma Republican withheld his support for the plan to honor her."Obviously
her central claim about what it does to ecosystems was largely correct,"
Hart said by telephone. "But her approach was consistent with a lot of environmental
rhetoric which tends to sensationalize the facts." Sen. Ben Cardin, a
Maryland Democrat who planned the Senate honor for Carson and expected an easy
approval in time for what would have been her 100th birthday, was taken by
surprise by Coburn's decision to block it."Rachel Carson has been an inspiration to a generation of environmentalists,
scientists and biologists who made a difference and changed the irresponsible
use of pesticides," Cardin said in a telephone interview. "Honoring
her 100th birthday should not be controversial. I wanted to share
that with our country." Originally developed as a powerful multi-species
pesticide, DDT was used in World War Two to clear South Pacific islands of malaria-causing
insects for U.S.
troops and in Europe as a de-lousing powder.Carson
described how DDT enters the food chain and accumulates in the fatty tissues of
animals, including humans, causing cancer and genetic damage. Her book is
credited with the U.S.
decision to ban the chemical in 1972, though the World Health Organization
approved it last year for use indoors to fight malaria.
We sold our J Crew position
for a $3 per share two week profits.
Oil ended up $1.02 at $65.20. Gold
gained $2 to $655 in NYC. Treasuries
were quiet with the two-year at 4.85% and the ten-year at 4.86%.
Europe reversed as the U.S.
markets rose and European bourses closed mostly higher as did Mexico
The DJIA gained 70 points to end at 13510. The S&P 500 was up 10 points at 1517 and the NAZZ gained 22 points to 2560.
Breadth was 2/1 positive. Volume
was holiday light.
There were only 160 new highs and 95 new lows.
24 May 2007 Daily Comments
The WSJ reports that Goldman Sachs has created a marketplace to trade
unregistered securities. Because the shares of the companies traded are not registered
with the SEC only large hedge funds and financial institutions may trade them.
This strategy fits in nicely with
the LBO firms taking companies private. Fees for hedge funds and LBO firms are
based on the value of assets and the increase in the value of assets; and so it
is much more convenient to have a marketplace where the holder of the security determines
the value of the security rather than have a public marketplace determine the
Using private valuations to
determine performance assures a consistent increase in asset values as so
insures that fees continue to increase.
The casino is expanding just as Las
Vegas continues to expand. Now the big boys and girls
are creating a poker table where only those with a $100,000,000 or more can
Once again the markets have
reached a level that when we are visiting with folks the first question is,”
what should I buy”, and the second question is, “how long will it last”. Our
answer to both is usually, “the last times we were asked these same questions
was 1999. Before that it was 1987 and before that it was 1972”.
was lower and Shanghai dropped
0.5%. As the Chinese would say, “Greenspan who?”
European bourses are fractionally
lower and Gold is off $2 while oil is down 40 pennies.
Treasuries are slipping lower in
price on a firm Durable Goods report for April of up 1.5% ex transportation and
up 0.6% ex defense and a revision higher of March’s Durable Goods number to up
5% from up 3.5%.
Jobless claims were up 15,000 to
311,000 for the latest reporting period.
The NYT had a story last week about
some folks who had credit card debt with Sears on which they were paying 32%.
They also had a savings account which had about as much money in it as the
Sears credit card debt and was paying them 4%. Go figure.
The story also told of the folks
using a debit card in which they exceeded the money in their account and so had
to pay overdraft charges of $32 on each of seven transactions. They had used
the debit card so as not to run up their credit card debt. Unfortunately the
husband didn’t know that the wife had written a check drawing their balance
down at the same time he was using the debit card. He only bought $200 worth of
goods and the overdraft charges were $234.
The charges that banks are making
on these transactions are unconscionable as is a 32% interest rate.
With all the talk of Murdoch buying Dow Jones for his new cable financial
show to help it compete with CNBC we are at a loss why the talking heads don’t mention GE as a prospect for purchasing DJ.
CNBC is profitable for GE and DJ reporters appear regularly on CNBC. It would
be a perfect fit and GE has $11 billion from the sale of its Plastics division.
They could offer the same price as Murdoch and beat him at his own game.
New home sales for April were up 16% when only up 2% was expected
and that has given home building stocks some hope. That is the largest jump in
14 years 9but from a distressed level). And, the average price of a home last
month decreased to $299M, from $324M in March. The median price was $229M,
lower than $257M in March.
The DJIA moved strongly higher in
the first hour of trading but as it ahs the last three days it is now losing
steam and heading back down to even. Breadth is positive but not by much.
Treasuries are higher in yield and
the yield curve is almost positive. It is positive on the two-year to ten-year
but the five-year is still lower than the two-year. A positive yield curve is
when longer maturity bonds yield more than shorter maturity bonds.
"Implied options volatility
exploded in Micron Technology today
as call buyers piled in on unconfirmed rumors emerging about a possible buyout
or merger at the firm," said Andrew Wilkinson, senior market analyst at
Interactive Brokers Group. Micron said it does not comment on rumors or
Micron just sold convertible debt
and purchased capped calls at a cost of $190 million so we don’t think there is
a buyout. But time will tell. We may be gone by that time.
Today’s market action in the DJIA
is known as an Island Reversal. That occurs when the DJIA opens above last
night close, goes to a new high and then closes lower on the day. That is at
least a short term negative.
We do think that the big boys and
girls are saving their buying for next week which is month end.
With the Monday holiday traders
will be heading out tonight and during the day tomorrow and so the odds are
that the down trend for the last four days will continue tomorrow.
Oil closed $1.25 lower at $64.25 in NYC. Gold also dropped $8 to $654 and Treasuries slipped with the two-year at 4.85% and the ten-year at
4.89%. The thirty-year is at 5.03%.
European bourses closed lower as did Mexico
The DJIA lost 85 points to 13440. The S&P 500 dropped 15 points to 1506 and the NAZZ was off 40 points to 2537.
Breadth was 3/1 negative and volume
There were 225 new highs and 95 new lows.
Please have good night.
23 May 2007 Daily Comments
mixed overnight with Shanghai up
over 1%. Since January 2006 the Shanghai Index is up almost 250% and for the
year 2007 to date the Index is up 47%.
European bourses are mostly
higher and Gold is flat with oil up a few pennies. Treasuries have a small bid.
Talbot’s earnings were in line and going forward guidance was cautious.
The shares are up $1 in the early going.
Investors’ Intelligence numbers are unchanged with bulls at 54% and
bears at 20%.
Monday and Tuesday were the first
consecutive down days for the DJIA since March.
1527 is the all time closing high
on the S&P 500. 1554 is the all time intra day high on the S&P 500. The
S&P 500 is trading at 1529 at .
Alan Greenspan, who now has a
consulting agreement for big bucks with PIMCO Advisors, spoke today in Madrid
and it was reported and said that he sees a dramatic drop in the Shanghai
market. That comment has caused the U.S.
markets to pause and move lower. We wonder who knew Alan was going to say this.And of such meaty analysis are market corrections
Reuters reports that Sprint is up on takeover speculation
because of the large valuation gap between
what Sprint is valued in the marketplace and the value at which Alltel is being acquired. (We opined
this last week.)
Sprint shares have risen 6 percent since Alltel announced its deal late
Sunday. Such investor expectation will continue to boost the stock, analysts
said. But several industry experts said they doubted private equity buyers
would have the appetite for Sprint, the No. 3 U.S wireless provider, whose
market value is close to $62 billion. UBS analyst John Hodulik raised his share
price target for Sprint to $23 from $20 due to investor hopes that the company could
be next on the block. "While we continue to believe it is unlikely that a
deal for Sprint Nextel will materialize in the near term, we expect ongoing
speculation to provide support to the stock," Hodulik said in a note to
clients e-mailed on Wednesday. ….. Steve Clement of Pacific Crest Securities
said that investors may be looking at Sprint's lower valuation, which has diminished
due to poor subscriber growth in recent quarters, as a cheap way to bet on the
next big deal. "I think that's
probably a pretty fair way of looking at it," he said. "There's a
pretty substantial valuation gap between the purchase price of Alltel and where
Sprint trades. *****
There can’t be any self interest
involved in this warning, can there?
Boeing Co.'s BA arms chief warned on Wednesday against cutting U.S.
military spending to create a "peace dividend", and said
Congressional moves to scale back funding for one of the company's high-profile
programs could eat into sales for this year and next. Boeing, the Pentagon's
No. 2 supplier, will get about half of its $65 billion revenue this year from
its defense unit, which makes jet fighters, missiles, satellites and a range of
Oil ended the day up 26 pennies at $65.77. Gold gained $3 to $652 in NYC and Treasuries lost their bid and closed lower in price on the day with
the two-year at 4.84% and the ten-year at 4.86%.
European bourses closed higher. They closed before Uncle Alan spoke
his words of doom. Brazil was lower and Mexico
was higher at the bell.
The DJIA dropped 15 points to end at 13525. The S&P 500 failed to close at a new high again today. It was down
2 points at 1522. The NAZZ lost 8
points to 2580.
Breadth was a little less than 5/4 negative at the bell and volume was active.
There were 480 new highs and 70 new lows.
Have a good night.
22 May 2007 Daily Comments
mostly higher overnight except Hong Kong and European
bourses are higher at . Oil is
down a few pennies but still above $66 and gold is unchanged at $663. Treasuries
There wasn’t much on the news
front overnight and, with the DJIA down yesterday and the waning of the expiration
blues, today may give an indication of whether the bulls need a rest or are
ready to continue their assault into unknown territory.
Intel is at $22.90. If it can move up through $23.25 and the
markets stay benign then the next stop could be $30.
The WSJ reports today that some
folks are taking out nine year car loans. The WSJ also says: Last year, about 29% of car buyers who
traded in a vehicle to buy a new one owed more on their car loans than their
cars were worth, compared with 20% five years earlier. *****
There is a fellow on TV saying
that railroads are no longer a cyclical industry. We think that a logical
corollary of the statement would be that cyclical industries that ship by rail
are no longer cyclical. It is always different this time until it isn’t.
Oil ended the day down $1.36 at $64.91. Gold was off $4 at $659 and Treasuries
gave ground with the two-year at 4.84% and the ten-year at 4.83%.
European bourses closed higher as did Mexico
The DJIA dropped 3 points on the day to end at 13540. The S&P 500 was down 1 point to 1525
and the NAZZ gained 10 points to
Breadth improved all day and was 2/1 positive at the close. Volume
There were 410 new highs and 60 new lows.
21 May 2007 Daily Comments
Asia was higher overnight as is
Europe at midday. Treasuries are again higher in yield and Gold is off $4 while
Oil is $66.
Goldman Sachs and TPG are buying Alltel
for $27 billion including debt.
Alltel has 11 million
wireless subscribers and revenues of $8 billion. Including debt the buyout
price is $27 billion.
Sprint has 41 million
wireless subscribers and $42 billion in revenues. Including debt Sprint is
priced at $80 billion.
Sprint shares would be priced at
$50 to match the Alltel buyout price on a Price/revenues or price/subscribers
At noon the S&P 500 is at a
new all time high and Oil is over 466. Treasuries are now flat on the day.
From minyanville.com we
learn that the all time closing high on the S&P 500 was 1527. And last
Friday marked 1527 days since the S&P 500 began its rally in March 2003
from under the 800 level.
Oil ended up $1.34 at
$66.28 in NYC. Gold gained $2 to $663. Treasuries were flat on the day with the
two-year at 4.81% and the ten-year at 4.79%.
European bourses closed
mostly lower while Mexico and Brazil were higher.
The major measures retreated in
the final hour of trading and the DJIA was unable to hold its gains.
The DJIA closed down 15
points at 12540. The S&P 500 gained 2 points to finish at 1525 and
the NAZZ was up 18 points to 2575.
Breadth was 2/1 positive
and volume was active.
There were 555 new highs
and 75 new lows.
18 May 2007 Daily Comments
If you’ve been wondering what
Exxon has been doing with all its profits instead of building refineries this
article in Business Week explains:
Asian markets were mostly lower
in a small way overnight and European bourses are mostly higher in a small way
at . Treasuries are flat and
gold is up $2 while Oil is touching $65 in the early going in NYC.
Microsoft is spending $6 billion to buy a company that creates and
measures web ads.
GE is selling its Plastics division for $11 billion to some Saudi
folks according to the WSJ. This price is more than expected.
Merrill raised Intel to
a buy from neutral.
The University of Michigan Sentiment Index was
88.7 in May versus 87.1 in April. We aren’t sure whether this is the final,
preliminary or in between measure since we wanted to get this news to our
readers as quickly as possible.
Stocks are higher this morning
and Treasuries are weaker.
Micron issued the convertible notes with a conversion price of $14.13
and an interest rate of 1.875%. MU is also spending $131 million to enter
capped call contracts with the underwriters. In effect Micron is paying 25%
future interest to borrow money at 2%. Nuts.
is giving LBO folks Blackstone $3
billion with which to play.
Gasoline supplies are down 5%
from a year ago. But there are no lines at gas stations or stations without
gas. There are only higher prices.
And soon there will be a way to play the other big casino
in the world, China.
Scheduled to Launch May 20, 2007 In response to a growing need for a product
offering 24-hour access to the Chinese equity markets, CME is introducing CME
E-mini® FTSE®/Xinhua® China 25 Index futures. The
FTSE/Xinhua China 25 Index is
comprised of 25 of the largest, most liquid “red-chip” and “H-share” Chinese
companies listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
With its launch, this contract will be the only futures product to provide
efficient, 24-hour, global electronic access to the Chinese equity markets. *****
closed up $5 at $662 and Oil was up
14 pennies to 465 in NYC trading. Treasuries
closed higher in yield with the two-year at 4.81% and the ten-year at 4.80%.
European bourse indexes were up large fractions to over 1% higher as
were Brazil and Mexico.
The DJIA gained 80 points to end at 13556. The S&P 500 was up 10 points to 1523 and the NAZZ rose 20 points to 2558.
Breadth was 3/2 positive and volume
There were 390 new highs and 125 new lows.
And the casino is closed for the
17 May 2007 Daily Comments
For those who use snail mail please note that it costs 41
pennies to mail a letter now.
We are back from our quick trip
to Kansas. Western
Iowa and eastern Kansas
were under water last week and there still were standing pools of water in the
low lying fields. And a lot of the fields were too wet yet to have been planted
We also saw a lot of fields where
trees had been cleared this winter to open up more space for planting corn. It
is of note that most of the erosion preventing tree plantings and contour
stripping of the mid 20th century era have now been removed. As we were driving
clouds of topsoil blew across Interstate 80 obscuring vision.
When we reached the old family
farm we tried to drive down the gravel road to where it lay. Unfortunately
years of wind erosion had mixed about four inches of topsoil in with the gravel
and because of the recent rains the seeming gravel road became a track of mud.
And we became mired in the mud, in the middle of nowhere. The view was
beautiful but unfortunately we couldn’t enjoy it as visions of hours walking
through mud and yuck to find help entered our consciousness. Luckily, the AWD
Volvo came through as we made one last attempt to extricate our selves. And so
we learned our final lesson from Mother: never drive on gravel roads in Kansas
after a six inch rain.
The markets were volatile during
the three days we were traveling. On Tuesday the S&P 500 was up 12 points
in the morning only to close 2 points in the red. And on Wednesday the opposite
occurred. This action is a change in the trend from the last many months and
may be signaling a change in market direction. Or then again it may just be
noise in the unrelenting move higher. Time will tell.
Although some of the economic
news has been mellow, jobless claims were again under 300,000 and Treasuries continue
to move higher in yield as they have all week with the two-year now at 4.76%
and the ten-year at 4.74%.
Oil remains in the $62 range
although as we all know gasoline continues its inexorable push higher for the
summer driving season. Those poor oil companies continue to have trouble
getting enough refining capacity on stream.
Gold has lost some steam in the
last few weeks and now is down around the $660 level. Foreign markets are mirroring
the U.S. markets
and were higher overnight in Asia and are higher today
While we were away the Investors Intelligence numbers showed a
decline in Bears to 19.6% and a rise in Bulls to 54.3%.
On Monday, Cerberus, an LBO firm, announced the purchase of Chrysler for $7.6 billion plus $18
billion in pension liabilities and we don’t know how much debt.
That price for Chrysler is chump
change for the rumor that Cerberus is also thinking of buying BCE, Canada’s largest telephone company, for $32
billion plus debt. Maybe they are doing that buy to balance the much more
speculative Chrysler buy.
There have been $1 trillion in
buyouts and stock buybacks in the last 18 months. Since the market value of the
S&P 500 is about $13 trillion (remember that 2% or less of outstanding
shares trade on any given day) this represents a significant amount of stock
removed from the public markets and traders suggest that the removal presages
higher stock prices as demand for stock confronts less supply.
Micron Technology is going to sell $1.5 billion in convertible
notes and on that news the share price is off 4% today. MU is going to do some
fancy stuff called capped calls to reduce dilution but the fact is that they
are borrowing money with the share price on a low. That is not favorable to us
who own the stock. There will be some noise around the shares for a week or so
as arbs and traders play their games and then the share price may recover a bit.
We may move on if we are able to exit at no loss.
The WSJ has a story today about
the reduction of use of stents in the last month and that news is hitting Boston Scientific. We don’t think the
stent stuff both coated and not is new news. We are going
to hold and add as appropriate.
We bought a few
shares of J. Crew for the Model Portfolio and some other accounts at
a share price under $39. We will be adding to other accounts over time. We
owned the shares at $25 last year and sold around $29 and have been hoping for
the share price to come back down to that level again. Unfortunately, JCG has
been doing a bang up job selling clothing and the street has taken notice. And so we are repurchasing in smaller amounts
at higher prices with room to add more on any general market sell off.
hopefully we’ll have as much luck with this purchase at a higher than sale
price as we did with The Gap back in
the 1980's when Mickey Drexler was building it as he is J Crew now.
Leading Indicators for April were down 0.5%.
Recently, Warren Buffet has been
buying railroad stocks as has Carl Icahn. Warren
is very rich and a very good investor and so folks and traders are piggy
backing on his purchases and running the price of rail stocks higher. Most of them
are now or three times higher share price than they were a few years ago. So
are the folks who bought them then smarter than Buffet? And are the folks who
sold them then the same folks who are buying them now?
In the old days, when we began our investing/trading career, railroads
used to sell at 6 times earnings when times were good for them. Now they sell
at fifteen times earnings. The same metric applied to banks. The question
always is will the old valuation metrics ever return? Or is it different this
We remember when interest rates
were 20% and gurus scoffed at the idea that 5% interest rates would ever return.
Today and tomorrow are expiration
days for the monthly Triple Witching and so what occurs today with the major
market measures may be reversed tomorrow or Monday or never.
Gold ended at $657 down $4. Oil
was up $2.42 at $64.97 in NYC. Treasuries
closed higher in yield with the two-year at 4.78% and the ten-year at 4.76%.
European bourses closed mostly higher as did Mexico
The DJIA lost 13 points to 13472. The S&P 500 dropped 2 points to 1512 and the NAZZ which has been a bummer all week (down 20 points on both
Monday and Tuesday) lost 9 points to close at 2539.
Breadth was 3/2 negative and volume
There were 307 newhighs and 150 new lows.
And the casino will be open
tomorrow to close out the games for the week.
11 May 2007 Daily Comments
We will be out of
the office and there will be no posts until Thursday May 17. We are heading off
to the family plot in Kansas to fulfill our mother’s final wish. Keep the faith.
lower overnight as is Europe a . This time foreign markets are following the U.S.
markets. Gold is up $3 in early NYC trading and Oil is above $62.
The Producer Price Index for April was up 0.7% and ex the essential of
food energy was unchanged. Year over year the PPI is up 3.2% and ex the
essentials it is up 1.5%. Retail sales
were down 0.2% in April and ex autos Retail sales were also unchanged. The tame
inflation data has placed a bid in Treasuries.
The major measures have opened
higher and breadth is 2/1 positive. The dip buyers are back.
All the gurus are a twitter over
the lousy retail store sales numbers of yesterday for the Month of April. Off
month retail sales are only important to traders. Fourth quarter retail sales
in November, December, and January are what make or break the year for
ALLSTATE is not going to insure any new property in California
after July 1. It seems that if the fires continue they may have to pay on
policies. And of course that wouldn’t be good for profits. We thought that was
what insurance was all about. Silly us.
Gold ended the day up $5 at $672. Oil gained 60 pennies to $62.40. Treasuries gave up their gains today and closed lower in price with
the two-year at 4.71% and ten-year at 4.68%.
European bourses recovered into the close on the back of the higher
open in New York and almost all
closed higher on the day. Mexico and Brazil
were both up over 1%.
Traders seemed to begin the
week-end early on Friday afternoon but a flurry in the final half hour enabled
the major measures to regain their early morning momentum.
At the bell the DJIA was up 115 points at 13330. The S&P 500 bounced off its 20 day
moving average and closed 15 points higher on the say at 1506. The NAZZ gained 28 points to 2562.
Breadth was over 2/1 positive and volume was moderate.
There were 235 new highs and 90 new lows.
We’ll be back on Thursday next. We
hope the casino can keep spinning without us.
If you want to refresh your memory about the history of
the Iran/Iraq/Sunni/Shiite/Middle East Imbroglio we have a complete review at :
lower overnight as is Europe at . US futures are indicating a lower opening. Gold is
down $7 at $675 in early NYC trading and Oil is up 35 pennies. Treasuries are
Jobless Claims dropped below 300,000 to 297,000.
Same store retail sales numbers
are lower than expected in many cases. Gap
same store sales were down big-time for the month of April but for the quarter
the negative comps this year were better than the negative comps last year.
Whole Foods reported less than warnings of 32 pennies then analysts
expected 36 pennies and the share price is off 10% as a result. The FTC is also
going to do an in depth review of the proposed Wild Oats purchase. The reality
is that if WFMI doesn’t purchase Wild Oats someone else will or OATS will go
down the tubes.
Last Quarter the announcement of
the OATS purchase masked the miss on earnings and so this quarter the analysts
have discovered that this is a transition year for WFMI and are lowering their recommendations.
We made a relatively small investment in shares last month at $45 in our
larger/aggressive accounts and are inclined to buy more after the dust settles
from this round of disappointment if the share price moves below $38.
We think the franchise over the
long term is worth the short term pain and the share price is becoming more
reasonable on a P/E basis but still is not value cheap. The multiple on WFMI is
now 30X which is down from 50X last October.
Talbot’s same store sales were down 3.5% and that is a not good but
better than we expected.
The Bank of England raised its benchmark interest rate 25 bps to 5.50%.
That is the highest rate in six years.
At two hours into today’s trading
session and it looks like there is some real selling occurring. The DJIA is
down 90 points.
Oil closed up 26 pennies at $61.81. Gold was down $15 to $667 in NYC trading. Treasuries were firm with the two-year at 4.68% and the ten-year at
European bourses closed lower and Mexico
and Brazil were
After being down 120 points at the DJIA and other stock measures could
not improve into the close.
The DJIA lost 148 points to end at 13214. The S&P 500 dropped 20 points to 1491 and the NAZZ lost 43 points to 2533.
Breadth was more than 3/1 negative
and volume was active.
There were 260 new highs and 115 new lows.
Tomorrow should be interesting.
9 May 2007 Daily Comments
mostly higher overnight with Shanghai
making it above 4000 for the first time. We read a report that said that 1.5
million new brokerage accounts were opened in China
last week. Welcome to capitalism and cycles. When the down cycle eventually
arrives will there be another revolution?
mixed at and Gold and Oil are
up small in the early going in NYC. Treasuries have a bid ahead of the Fed
announcement at today.
A couple in Hong Kong
fortuitously purchased 400,000 shares of Dow
Jones in the days before the takeover was announced. They sold the day
after the announcement for an $8 million profit. Unfortunately the spoil sports
at the SEC are investigating and won’t give them their money. The SEC is also looking
into the increase in option trading in the days before the announcement.
Investors Intelligence now has 54% bulls (up from 51%) and 20%
bears (down from 24%). It is a truism that as markets rise more folks become
bullish and less bearish. When there is no one left to buy...
Blackstone Group is considering a
$30 billion bid for Alltel the phone
provider in the Midwest. Blackstone wants s to take it
private. That bid would value Alltel’s 12 million wireless subscribers at $3000
Sprint’s wireless subscribers are
being valued at $2000 per subscriber in the market place.
Cisco’s earnings were up in the latest quarter but management
caution going forward has pushed the share price down $1.50 in the early going.
We don’t like not
owing Intel and so we are repurchasing the shares we sold on the first day of May.
We are paying up 40 pennies for the shares. We are encouraged by HPQ’s
announcement yesterday that computer and server sales were strong.
As the price of premium gas goes
thought the $4 level Crude Oil inventories continue to rise. But the well-run
oil companies can’t seem to refine enough oil into gasoline to keep the prices
down. Of course we don’t see any lines or out of gas signs at gas stations so
could it be speculation and collusion that is keeping prices high?
By the by, we remain cautious
because there are no real values now, just relatively cheaper stocks and stocks
we think might play catch up to their overvalued brethren and sistern.
In the announcement the Fed remains stressed its preoccupation with inflation. And with
that comment stock measures gave up their gains and Treasuries weakened.
The downturn in stocks was short
lived and entering the final hour of trading the DJIA is up 50 points and
breadth is turning positive.
Gold finished down $5 in NYC trading at $683. Oil lost 70 pennies to $61.50 on the supply info of today. Treasuries closed lower with the two-year
at 4.73% and the ten-year at 4.67%.
European bourses were mostly higher and Brazil
and Mexico were
The DJIA gained 54 points to close at 13364. The S&P 500 was up 5 points to 1512 and the NAZZ rose 5 points to 2576.
Breadth moved from negative to 3/2 positive in the final hour and volume was moderate.
There were 440 new highs and 80 new lows.
And tomorrow the big boys and
girls will be playing bingo with the monthly same store sales numbers for
8 May 2007 Daily Comments
lower overnight except Shanghai
which was up 2%. European bourses are lower at
and U.S. stocks
are going to open a bit lower. Gold is off a couple of dollars and oil is up a
few pennies. Treasuries are flat.
Hewlett Packard raised guidance on strong PC and server sales and
is up a dollar.
The NYT has a story today on sub
prime mortgage lenders filing bankruptcy. In the story there is one sentence
that is a gem:
Officials at mortgage companies and Wall Street banks acknowledge that
it may be too dangerous to allow
borrowers with weak credit who are financing 100 percent of a home’s purchase
price to borrow without documentation of their income.
With stocks opening lower today
we’ll get an idea of how much strength is left in the bulls. A pullback today would not be untoward; in
fact, it would be healthy from a technical view for the markets. But the markets
have been in a runaway phase and who knows how long it will last.
Cisco reports earnings after the close today and the Fed meet tomorrow on interest rates.
Gold Ended down $4 at $687. Oil
gained 76 pennies to $62.25. Treasuries
European stock markets closed lower as did Mexico
The DJIA and S&P 500 traded in negative territory all day but tried
to make it higher in the final hour. They didn’t but then maybe today was the
down day for the week. At the bell The DJIA
was down 3 points to 13309.The S&P 500 was down 2 points on the
day at 1507 and the NAZZ gained 1
point to 2571.
Breadth was 3/2 negative and volume was moderate.
New highs contracted to 285 and new lows expanded to 80.
The Fed speaks at to the big boys and girls and all the
traders in the casino.
7 May 2007 Daily Comments
Major Asian markets were higher
overnight except India.
European bourses are mostly higher at .
Gold is up $2 at $691 and Oil is lower for the sixth straight day at $61.97.
Treasuries are a tad weaker as the trading day begins.
Alcoa has made a hostile $27 billion bid for Alcan in a battle of the aluminum giants and the takeover news of
Boston Scientific is getting a minor pop today as Johnson &
Johnson withdrew a new coated stent from trials because the stent wasn’t any
more efficacious than the Taxus stent made by BSX.
Alcoa is up a couple of dollars (when usually the acquirer’s stocks
falls when a bid is made) because speculators think that the Alcan bid was a
ploy to prevent a takeover bid for Alcoa itself. We are in that kind of market
which reminds of the speculation in the late 60s when all the conglomerators
were buying up companies.
Timberland put itself up for sale last year and jumped to $32 on
the news. Nothing has occurred on that front for the last many months and earnings
have been punk. As a result the shares have dropped to under $26 and at that
level we bought shares for a trade in our very largest account last week. Today
TBL jumped $1 on twice its recent daily volume. Someone must have begun a
Adjustments by the BLS for phantom Birth/Death assumptions added
315,000 new jobs to the jobs report last month. Without those additions the
jobs report would have been a negative 200,000.
Consumer Credit expanded over $13 billion in March when an expansion
of $4 billion was expected.
Oil ended the trading day in NYC at $61.54 down 39 pennies. Gold gained $1 to $691 and Treasuries
were flat with two-year at 4.67% and the ten-year at 4.63%.
European bourses closed mixed and Mexico
were fractionally lower.
The DJIA gained 45 points to 13310. The S&P 500 was up 4 points at 1509 and the NAZZ dropped 2 points to 2570.
Breadth was positive on the NYSE and negative on the NAZZ and
volume was moderate.
There were 460 new highs and 66 new lows.
And the casino will be going for
25 of 28 higher DJIA finishes tomorrow.
4 May 2007 Daily Comments
There are reports that Yahoo and Microsoft
are in talks about MSFT acquiring YHOO. The share price is up $4.50 and we sold our shares. The price being reported is $50 billion.
That works out to $36 per share and we sold at $33.10 for a nice two week
trading profit. The deal is not certain and we bought YHOO for a trade to $30
and so we are delighted to get an extra $3 per share.
We also sold UPS
from our larger accounts for a small profit in our quest to raise a bit more
Asia was lower
overnight but European bourses are higher at .
Treasuries have a bid on the back of a weak Employment Report of 88,000 new jobs created in April. Gold is up
$2 and Oil is off a few pennies in the early going in NYC.
As gasoline prices top $3 per
gallon Oil futures dropped $1.33
today in NYC to close at $61.86. Gold
gained $5 to $689 and Treasuries
were better with the two-year at 4.67% and the ten-year at 4.64%.
European bourses closed higher and Brazil
were also up.
The DJIA gained 25 points to close at 13265. The S&P 500 rose 3 points to 1505 and the NAZZ gained 6 points to 2571.
Breadth was positive and volume
There were 490 new highs and 70 new lows.
The big boys and girls will be
concentrating on the Kentucky Derby tomorrow to satisfy their need for action.
3 May 2007 Daily Comments
If you bought the S&P 500 on September 7, 2000 today you are
finally back to even on your investment.
higher overnight and Europe is lower at . Gold is up $3 and Oil is back to $64. Treasuries
Jobless claims dropped 20,000 to 305,000 in the latest week.
The ISM Non-Manufacturing Index was 57 for April versus 52 in March.
Non-Farm Productivity was up 1.7% in the first quarter according to
the Labor Department. Unit Labor Costs
were up 0.6%. The first number was higher and the second lower than expected.
Those two numbers which represent strength coupled with the lower jobless
claims number and the ISM Index have caused Treasuries to weaken in early
issued a wring this morning and the shares are down 7%. The shares have been
trending lower for some time and the company ahs obviously missed the market
for the last 6 months. TLB is now priced at less than sales and 50% of the
shares are - and have been since its public offering years ago - closely held
by some Japanese folks. TLB can be a falling
knife when it sells off like this and so we are buying gingerly.
In the past when this has occurred we ought too rapidly and didn’t have the
staying power to wait for the eventual recovery in sales and price. Hopefully
this time will be different. Our initial purchases were in our largest accounts
several days ago and we are adding to those positions and also initiating some
new positions in other large/aggressive accounts.
Oil ended at $63.19 down 49 pennies. Gold jumped $9 to 684. Treasuries
were lower in price with the two-year at 4.70% and the ten-year at 4.67%.
European bourses were mixed while Mexico
were both up over 1%.
The DJIA gained 25 points to 13237 to close higher for the 22nd
out of 25 days. It is now up 30% from its low last August.
The S&P 500 rose 6 points to 1501 and the NAZZ gained 7 points to 2565.
Breadth was positive and volume
There were 415 new highs and 60 new lows.
And there is one more day at the
casino this week.
2 May 2007 Daily Comments
higher overnight and Europe is mixed at . Treasuries are flat, Gold is down $4
and Oil is of a few pennies at $64.15.
Traders are concentrating on the Employment Report on Friday.
The rally yesterday was mixed but
the bulls showed that they haven’t given up just yet. According to our tech
guru the S&P 500 was in a short term buy set up on the close last night.
Investors Intelligence has 52% bulls and 24% bears.
Factory Orders for March were up 3.1% versus 2.2% expected.
Treasuries are off a tick on the news.
The New York Post says that The Gap is considering firing some folks to
help the bottom line.
European bourses closed higher with London
up over 1%. Mexico
was up over 1% and Brazil was also higher.
Gold lost $2 to finish at $675. Oil was down 90 pennies to $63.55. Treasuries were slightly lower with the two-year at 4.64% and the
ten-year at 4.64%.
The DJIA gained 80 points to 13215. The S&P 500 rose 10 points to 1496 and the NAZZ was up 26 points to 2558.
Breadth was better than 2/1 positive and volume was active.
There were 395 new highs and 70 new lows.
And it is only three days till
the Kentucky Derby.
May Day 2007 Daily Comments
was lower overnight and London is
lower at . Many foreign markets
are closed for May Day. Gold is down $2 and oil is softer at $65.58. Treasuries
Circuit City withdrew guidance going forward saying it wasn’t
selling large screen TVs and Liz Claiborne
had terrible numbers and is trading down 20% from last night’s close. Gurus are
suggesting that these two events are an indication that retail is in trouble.
We don’t know. We do know that we
aren’t surprised about CC since they
fired all their good salespeople to save money and now are reaping the harvest
of that misguided action.
We are going to raise some cash
today. The stock markets are extended and their inability to close higher yesterday
on the last day of the month is indicative of a tired bull. We are sellingKraft, Intel, Fifth Third and Verizon for gains and Pfizer for a small loss.
The ISM Manufacturing Index was 54 for April versus 51 expected. ISM Prices Paid was 73 versus 67
expected. Treasuries are lower on the news.
Pending home sales for March were
down 5% versus February 2007 and 10% versus March 2006.
News Corp is making a $60 bid for Dow Jones. The Alien, as Mike Ryoko used to
call him, wants to control all the media in the world. And the fat lady is at
Oil ended down $1.20 at $64.51. Gold lost $7 to $676 and Treasuries
were lower but better near the close with the two-year at 4.63% and the
ten-year at 4.64%.
The DJIA recovered today and closed up 68 points at 13131. The S&P 500 was up 4 points at 1485 and
the NAZZ gained 5points to 2530.
Breadth was positive on the NYSE and negative on the NAZZ for the
day and volume was active.
New lows (150) exceeded 100 for the first time in a while. New highs were 215.
And the casino is open for gaming
as usual in the AM.
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