Weekend Update – January 20, 2013

Stocks should never be boring.

People do stupid things when they’re bored.

Trust me, I know. If I were a betting person I would bet that you know that to be true, as well.

After starting with a more than 4% gain in the S&P 500 in the first week of 2013, the subsequent two weeks have been incredibly boring.

When over the course of five trading days the S&P closes at 1472 on four of those days, there’s something missing. In my case, it was trading.

As someone who sells covered options, I love that the concept “reversion to the mean” seems to be realized with great regularity. But if there wasn’t lots of intervening noise from Point A right back to Point A, there wouldn’t be much of a market for buying the options that I was so intent upon selling. Boring markets are an anathema and together its accompanying low volatility conspire to reduce the joy of selling options by increasing risk taking in order to meet income targets from having sold option contracts.

This past week was one of those weeks when the intra-day action was in a state of deep hibernation for much of the time. For me the pinnacle came on Wednesday, but as it would turn out that was wholly appropriate, as Jane Wells, of CNBC pointed out that was “National Do Nothing Day.” She explained the “holiday” in her blog and if you look at the associated video, you can even catch a glimpse of me (want even more?). Somehow, everyone got back to work on Thursday and the market showed some vestiges of past life and excitement, just in time to plan for an upcoming week highlighted by high profile earnings reports.

That should be exciting. Apple (AAPL), Google (GOOG), IBM (IBM) and much more.

For as long as I’ve been selling options, I did find the timing of Google’s earnings release interesting. Of course, nothing could be as interesting as Google’s last quarter, when it blamed RR Donnelly (RRD) for having released earnings 3 hours earlier than anyone expected or wanted. This time, however, instead of reporting earnings at the close of trading on the Thursday prior to the last day of the monthly option cycle, Google is actually releasing earnings on the first day of the new monthly option cycle.

I’ve always liked the former timing. Now, selling deep out of the money weekly puts on Google shares in anticipation of 5-10% moves in either direction will have too much time to trade on such things as merits and other non-emotional and highly charged issues. Although it’s not on my list this week there still may be good reason to make it happen.

Although this week the potential selections are still categorized as being either Traditional, Momentum, Double Dip Dividend and Premiums Enhanced by earnings, at the moment, in my mind I’m categorizing them as either being Exciting or Boring (see details).

Capital One Finance (COF) has been on my radar screen for a couple of months, but got too expensive on the week that I had initially thought of making the purchase. After getting hit badly on Friday on disappointing earnings, it is right at the price target that had appeal for me in November. The very recent weakness in credit card titans Visa (V) and MasterCard (MA) are felt even more by those that incur credit risk, but Capital One is here to stay.

Starbucks (SBUX) although also reporting earnings this coming week and having a premium enhanced by the prospects of a significant reaction to earnings, has been a good and steady position to own and sell options upon for the past 6 months. I especially look forward to Howard Schultz’s post-earnings interviews. No one knows the marketplace better than he does. Even when the shares are punished after earnings he has credibility and clarity that restores confidence.

Not that I would condone doing so, but for many a cup of coffee and a cigarette go hand in hand. Lorillard (LO) has just concluded its share split and offers an attractive option premium with relatively little undue risk, besides to one’s health and well-being.

Anadarko (APC) is
one of those positions that pains me a bit, having happily owned it several times in the past few months. Despite in now trading $5 above my last purchase price and having lost it to assignment, it continues to look attractive, both on the basis of the potential for price appreciation and its option premium. If you never knew joy you would never know pain.

Freeport McMoRan (FCX) continues to be my favorite pick for 2013. The materials sector was a bad under-performer this past week, but I continue to labor under the thesis that China will be forced to expand its GDP more than may be healthy in order to maintain domestic peace during political transfer. We can worry about the effect of over-expansion some other time. In the meantime, Freeport also reports earnings next week, but will do so before the first trade of the week is made.

AIG (AIG) is probably my single most mentioned stock and the one that I most often regret for not having purchased. Over the past month or so I’ve been heeding my own advice and keeping shares on a revolving door basis. As long as they trade in a tight range, even if assigned, it has been worthwhile to repurchase shares.

Baidu (BIDU) is another stock that I’ve owned several times over the past few months. Despite it’s torrid run to $110, I think that there are still opportunities, particularly in selling deep in the money call options. After all, if you can still achieve a 0.5% or higher gain for a week of holding those shares before losing them to assignment at a lower price, is that not better than the S&P 500 is able to do on most weeks?

I haven’t owned shares of Citibank (C) since before the 10:1 reverse split. There’s something unsettling about a bank that trades with a beta of nearly 2, but I think the future is bright as far as price support goes, as there is increasing discussion about the value of Citibank’s component parts. That is very much the same kind of talk that has spurred price appreciation of Bank if America (BAC). While rediscovering price stability, Citibank continues to offer an attractive call premium and makes the risk-reward equation skew toward reward.

What can anyone say about Apple ? I certainly haven’t been shy about expressing my bearish opinion on shares and to the increasingly adverse external environment to which the company was subject. Apple reports earnings after Wednesday’s market close. Although I don’t believe that it will test a support at $425, I do believe that there are opportunities to either sell deep in the money calls or sell deep out of the money puts. If I’m wrong, I will be left owning shares for the first time since $450. It would be as if almost nothing had happened in-between. With so many people now piling on and blasting Apple, it’s beginning to look better and better.

Western DIgital (WDC) is just another of those exciting stocks. I’m not really certain why that’s the case, as the product isn’t terribly exciting and is hard to differentiate from a commodity. It too, reports earnings on Wednesday if you have the stomach for even more excitement.

I don’t look at charts very often or in great depth, but Mellanox Technologies (MLNX) will definitely get your attention if you like charts with slopes approaching infinity. Mellanox makes some very sudden and pronounced moves. With earnings coming up on January 23, 2013 another vertical move may be awaiting anyone with incredible risk tolerance. Since even 20% moves aren’t unheard recently for this semiconductor design and sales company, the option premiums are priced accordingly. Among the caveats is that only month long option contracts are offered and that may be a very long time to sit on a roller coaster. I’m currently looking at selling puts as being more appealing and in the event that Mellanox surprises with an upside move after earnings, I would vacate the position as fast as humanely possible.

Finally, Williams-Sonoma (WSM) is the sole dividend play this week. It too has been bruised by the market’s reaction to its earnings. Somehow Williams Sonoma has the ability to withstand the economy and even when things look grim for the consumer it just keeps on going. It’s a place where you can escape the cares of the real world and pamper yourself before returning to reality. It’s not a terribly exciting stock, but after a week of potentially lots of excitement a little serenity may be a good thing.

Traditional Stocks: Anadarko, Capital One Finance, Lorillard

Momentum Stocks: AIG, Baidu, Citibank, Freeport McMoRan

Double Dip Dividend: Williams Sonoma (ex-div 1/23)

Premiums Enhanced by Earnings: Apple (1/23 PM), Mellanox (1/23 PM), Starbucks (1/24 PM), Western Digital (1/23 PM)

Remember, these are just guidelines for the coming week. Some of the above selections may be sent to Option to Profit subscribers as actionable Trading Alerts, most often coupling a share purchase with call option sales. Alerts are sent in adjustment to and consideration of market movements, in an attempt to create a healthy income stream for the week with reduction of trading risk.


Weekend Update – January 13, 2013

Your portfolio is your Preidential Cabinet.

In a week when the biggest story was the signature of the man selected by President Obama to succeed Timothy Geithner as Treasury Secretary it’s not too surprising that not much happened in the markets.

After more than a 4% gain the prior week a breather was welcome., as shares assigned from my portfolio must have felt as if they had outstayed their welcome.

They hadn’t, but sometimes it’s just time to leave.

The week was a busy one in Executive Office politics as it was the time honored tradition of appointed cabinet officials knowing that it was time to leave . The week demonstrated a strategy to fill cabinet positions that many are finding to be uncomfortable. Some people like the security that comes with known names and entities, while others relish in the unknown and “out of the box” thinkers..

Professional sports is like the former. How else can you explain the consistent recycling of proven losers, while promising new leaders go languishing as they await an opportunity to strut their stuff and lead their teams to victory?

As opposed to the process of assembling a Presidential cabinet under George W. Bush when every face was a very hackneyed and familiar one, this week’s events were quite the opposite, as the choices ranged from the unknown to the disliked. Norv Turner may have qualified for an appointment in the Bush Administration, but not here and not now.

What could confidently be said about Jack Lew, the Treasury Secretary designee, is that his signature suggests that he would be comfortable working together with Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke and add a few extra “zeroes” to the money supply. After all, why stop at just a Trillion Dollar Coin? It’s like 5 minute Abs.

President Obama’s cabinet during his first term was noted for its infrequent turnover and familiar names. That’s how my portfolios used to be and I can’t necessarily complain about its performance. The portfolio was always comprised of well known names, never any speculative issues and they all stayed a long time, through good and bad performance, then good performance and then bad performance, again and again.

As Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis announced her departure, ostensibly lured by an irresistible Herbalife (HLF) ethnocentric marketing campaign, Raymond LaHood is one of the few leftovers and he should stay just for the humorous name.

That’s not a good enough criterion for stocks, though. These days, I like rapid turnover, but still only have comfort with familiar names. I too may have chosen Donald Rumsfeld, but likely would have been a little distressed if he had not departed within 40 days, or so. I like a portfolio that is more of a sleep-over than a relationship.

After veering significantly from last week’s script in an effort to find lots of replacements for assigned shares, I’m again faced with needing lots of replacements, but at least this past week the overall market wasn’t terribly difficult to top. Think of it as having to find a replacement for Treasury Secretary John Snow. Henry Paulson was pretty good in his own right, but by comparison he really shined.

Still, the challenge of finding potential candidates that aren’t at or near 52 week highs is difficult. Normally, my list is comprised of the same old and reliable names, but this week there are some newcomers that hopefully will get a chance to strut their stuff and then be gone before outwearing their welcome. That’s especially on my mind this week as a number offer only monthly option contracts. I tend to be more willing to consider those stocks in the final week of a monthly cycle, but if they’re not assigned that starts preparing the way to push the 40 day envelope.

As usual, stocks are categorized as either being Traditional, Momentum, Double, Dip Dividend or PEE (see details). As earnings season goes into full gear this week there were actually a large number of candidates to consider for earnings related trades, but often the best opportunities come with some of the lesser known or higher flying names than with the button down early reporters.

I’m not certain that I know anyone that would admit to having, much less using a Discover credit card. I still spend a good portion of my time trying to find a place that will allow me to decide between my Diners Club or Discover. Yet Discover FInancial (DFS) is a reasonable alternative to Visa (V) and MasterCard (MA). Although Discover has outperformed its more respected cousins in the past year, it has greatly under-performed in the past month.

DuPont (DD) used to be one of my favorites. That was back in the days when there were no weekly options, it had an artificially high dividend and great option premiums. These days, I’m not quite as enthused, as the years have taken their toll. But during the last week of an option cycle? Why not? Besides, with all of the portfolio new comers, it’s good to have a familiar face or two to keep things grounded.

Speaking of grounds, Starbucks (SBUX), although higher than the last time I owned it, just a few months ago, appears to be running on all cylinders. I’m not certain that anyone knows and understands his company as well as Howard Schultz understands Starbucks. Even in the face of a negative earnings report two quarters ago, Schultz effused so much confidence in responding to the market’s reflexive response to “bad” news, that you had to be inspired about the company’s prospects.

These days, I’m not certain that I should still categorize AIG (AIG) along with my other “Momentum” stocks. Its option premiums are less and less like those of others in that category. AIG is a stock that I often wish I had read my own weekly words and bought much more frequently than I had done. Along the lines of inspiration, every time I see its CEO, Robert BenMosche on air, I think that he is truly a hero of American business and finance. Instead of remembering the villains, we should laud the heroes.

US Steel (X) could be one of my newcomer stocks this week. I don’t have any particular thesis. I simply like the premium, but am respectful of the risk. US Steel does report earnings on January 29, 201 and am not certain that I would want to be holding shares going into earnings. Since it does trade a weekly option, there would be at least two escape opportunities prior to earnings.

Yahoo! (YHOO) is another stock that I haven’t owned in a while, having waited for its return to $16. Following its drop this past week I feel a bit more comfortable considering a purchase after its resurrection.

Footlocker (FL) is another one of the new comers that doesn’t necessarily inspire me on the basis of any underlying theme. Like Us Steel it has a nice option premium, but only trades a monthly option. The upcoming dividend may tip the scales for me as the stock hasn’t had the same kind of run-up that its products should equip the owner for.

Lowes (LOW), for all of its commendable performance, is a stock that I only look toward as it approaches its ex-dividend date. It too offers only a monthly option, but like Foot Locker, going ex-dividend in the final week of the monthly option cycle makes ownership more palatable.

eBay (EBAY) is another stock that I own too infrequently. That may change as it’s come over to the weekly options family. It reports earnings this week and will likely be as good as its PayPal division allows it to be. It’s no longer the highly volatile stock of yesterday, but still offers a reasonable risk-reward ratio in the same 5% range on strike price.

Having missed the entire move in the entire housing sector doesn’t preclude entry, it just includes risk. Lennar (LEN) will report earnings this coming week and I expect a break in its upward trajectory. In the past its shares have not over-responded to earnings news, so the risk reward may be present at the 5% level, rather than the 10% level that I often find comfort in. If prices hold up prior to earnings release and I can obtain a 1% premium for selling a put at a strike 5% below the current price or selling an in the money call at a similar strike, this may be a good candidate for a short term dalliance.

Traditional Stocks: Discover Financial, DuPont, Starbucks

Momentum Stocks: AIG, US Steel, Yahoo!

Double Dip Dividend: Foot Locker (ex-div 1/16), Lowes (ex-div 1/18)

Premiums Enhanced by Earnings: eBay (1/16 PM), Lennar (1/15 AM)

Remember, these are just guidelines for the coming week. Some of the above selections may be sent to Option to Profit subscribers as actionable Trading Alerts, most often coupling a share purchase with call option sales. Alerts are sent in adjustment to and consideration of market movements, in an attempt to create a healthy income stream for the week with reduction of trading risk.

Stunning Reversals

I’ve never made any secret of the fact that I don’t read very much.

My daily ritual of reading DIlbert and The New York Times Obituaries was recently complemented with James Altucher’s blog. I actually thought long and hard about whether to refer to it as being in “complement” to or in “supplement” of my daily activities and realized that there really wasn’t a word to convey both impacts.

I’ve linked to it a couple of times and bored readers of this blog have clicked on that link, which has also activated a small hidden webcam near their laptops, in addition to any resident webcams you they already have.

I like my fuzzy clandestine streaming to be in 3-D.

For those who read this blog on a regular basis it doesn’t come as a surprise that I don’t read much. In fact, there’s really not a strong body of evidence that I even read my own blog, much less proof-read it.

And forget about reading for the sake of getting my information right.

OxymoronsWhen I was younger, I was horrified to find some ham in our refrigerator since it’s not Kosher, as you may be aware.

My mother, in response to my pointing this out to her, said “if it tastes good, it’s Kosher.”

What a great philosophy.

I use that philosophy with my supportive facts. If I believe them to be true and accurate, then they’re true and accurate.

A “Kosher pig” is an example of an “oxymoron” until some moron ruined it about a decade ago with the discovery of a species of pig in some god-foresaken rainforest that might just satisfy all of the criteria necessary to be considered Kosher.

I wrote about Oxymorons a few months ago, but with an emphasis on the “moron.” The thought was rekindled a few days ago reading one of Altucher’s blog entries.

He was asking whether there could really be anything such as an amicable divorce.

In a world of delusion there probably exists such an entity, but then again delusion and the real world are themselves mutually exclusive.

In the real world you end up in “divorce court,” which, wouldn’t you know it, is itself an oxymoron. Just for fun, see if you can find all of the highlighted and hidden oxymorons in today’s blog’

Today, I watched what was called by many a “stunning reversal” in the price of silver.

In fact, they were correct as silver one upped gold and not only cut its earlier steep losses, but ultimately had a nice gain at the end of the day.

One of the things that I’ve come to like are “tag clouds.”

For someone who doesn’t like to read, tag clouds are just great, unless you get bogged down by the concrete concept of tagging a cloud. Or having physical contact with an etheral concept.

Thinking too much isn’t an oxymoron, it’s just an impediment sometimes.

Through the tag cloud by simple virtue of font size, boldness or color, you can immediately know what’s important to the author. You may not know whether it’s love or hate, but at least you know about the intensity of the apathy.

In my case, the tag cloud lets you know that I have some recent passion about silver, more specifically in the prospects of silver prices doing poorly, as I own the leveraged silver ETF that appreciates in value as silver prices drop.

Before I owned the shares my interest in silver was neglible, other than as an historically important treatment for gonorrhea and vampires, as well as syphilitic vampires. You would have known that as the words silver, gonorrhea, syphilitic and vampires never appeared in the blog’s tag cloud.

During the course of the day as the Dow closed up 135, at its high for the day, the ProShares UltraShort Silver ETF closed down $2 from its intra-day high. That drop represented about a 12% move, which was of course exaggerated compared to the actual movement of the underlying metal, due to the leverage.

Think of leverage as being a financial tag cloud, only in reverse. The less you put on the line, the bigger the potential risk or reward.

In that way, think of Jon Corzine as being about 13 times larger than the most leveraged ETF currently approved for trading. The difference being that the leveraged ETF is typically highly sector focused and doesn’t require much in the way of thought process.

Math? Yes.


Well as Dennis Gartman might say. Thought on and thought off.


On the other hand, under Corzine the focus was placed on an aspect of finance for which resident expertise at MF Global Financial was missing. Yes, that’s right. Your local MF Global Financial knew nothing of international currencies and swaps.


Actually, to be totally fair, both are exceptionally intelligent morons, based on my archival research.

“Stunning reversal” doesn’t really qualify as an oxymoron in the classic sense, although there are many variety of “Oxymora,” but just like doing a treatise on what makes something funny is immediately not funny, so too is an encyclopedic look at Oxymora less than intellectually amusing.

No one should ever be surprised by “stunning reversals.”

Have you ever been to a 25 year high school reunion? Just look at the gut of the guy that was on an athletic scholarship.

Have you ever looked at every stock chart ever?

Unlike last month and the one before that, so far during this entirely unsatisfying January options cycle, I haven’t had the opportunity to benefit from the recurrent big spikes in silver prices.

In those months, just as today, the stunning reversals were predictable. What was certainly unpredictable was the inability of thr talking heads to portend the past.

And so here we are, about to enter the last trading day of 2011 and very possibly having survived the single most roller coaster year ever in trading.

True, we didn’t have a “flash crash” nor did we have any memorable declines or rises, but that’s only because there were so many.

And just like a roller coaster you end up exactly where you started, just feeling a bit more queasy for having been intimately involved in the sausage making process.

But man, is that sausage “damned good” or what?




Check out Recent PortfolioTransactions


Crappy Stocks

This is yet another in a series of unsolicited blog submissions from George Pick, who is currently serving as an advisor to the Herman Cain Adultery Campaign.

During lapses in medication dosing he finds the time to write and peer through neighborhood windows. Today’s blog was clearly written during a period of delusion.

Thank the Lord for laptops….what we do without them?

What a great world we live in. Offices, who the heck needs them?

Why do they call it traveling when you are immersed in the morning rush hour and standing perfectly still? The last time I remember being that still was when my 5th grade teacher Mrs. Chivis yelled at us “clasp your hands and sit still” and it scared the crap out of this 10 year old.

Teacher, teacherAs her bifocals were keenly balanced on the perch of her nose and, of course, that long chain anchored those bifocals, I remember thinking “if only they had laptops in these glory days.”

I could have wrapped up my 5th grade education with an on-line course and sent the ole battle axe a packin. I never did find out what her first name was. She will always be Mrs. Chivis who scared the crap out of me.

I guess you could have labled me CRAPPY STOCK. I think she did……

Time out for an Egg Cream break with 2 pretzel rods…..O.K. I’m back….

I am sitting in my antique style chair at my desk with my trusty laptop

Wat a buy the chair was $649. and the desk was $1200. I got them both at a tent sale for $170.  Floor samples. I just love a great buy. It’s thriling to know that you didn’t screw up, you actually got a well thought out bargain, sorta like a crappy stock.

It’s thrilling when you buy a crappy stock and it soars. Ya know the kind of crappy stock that Cramer would not give a mention to, nor would it ever make the 8 o’clock hour on CNBC.

Who buys that crap anyhow?

So I bought this stock called ZOOM. Admitedly I am not a long term investor. Just do not trust the economic volatility in today’s world, but I do trust a penny stock?

What am I thinking? Mrs. Chivis should have had me wrapped a little tighter. What a crappy stock.ZOOM is. but who cares if it makes a whole bunch of coin,.or in this case a whole lot of Benjamins…

” Wanna be ballers, shot-callers It’s all about the Benjamins baby Brawlers — who be dippin in the Benz wit the spoilers It’s all about the Benjamins baby”

O.K. I’m back…..

I wrote an in-depth post on a forum that I frequent and clearly explained my logic. Funny, though how child molesters aren’t that interested in stock picks.

One response yearned for a clear explanation of my sanity. “Do you realize the crap this company distributes” asked one poster?

Yes I realize, .the kind that just paid me a huge return. Who cares what they make? I am not touting their product, I am not getting into a long term relationship. Heck we are not even dating. This is just dinner and a movie and hopefully a happy ending.

I am not an options guy. Not good at it. I leave that for brilliant minds like my friend the TheAcsMan.

What I like is a great buy…PERIOD.

A great buy is a great buy, no matter how you twist it.

What constitutes a great buy? When the value of the item you are buying outweighs the dollar amount spent on the item.

Pretty simple…

I look for reversals that are forming. Chart patterns that show signs of breakouts. I.love to find 50 Moving Averages’s crossing 200 day Moving Averages to the up side.

Cup and handles.

52 week lows reached because of some analyst downgrade.

You get the picture.

So I proceeded to buy my bargain on Monday at $0.93 and by Wednesday it hit $1.60.

That’s what we technicians would refer to as a “lucky call.”

I need to check with Chase to see if they have a money market that pays that type of interest on my money, or that minds that there’s white powder coatiing my deposits.

What a crappy stock

I think it is a great stock and it is reaching that 90 cents level again as I write this useless information.

Alex I will take useless information for $1000 please..

And by the way dinner and the movie was a perfect date and YES, a happy ending was in order….

“Enormous cream, forest green — Benz jeep for my team so while you sleep I’ma scheme (that’s right)”

O.K. I’m back.

I love not having to drive my car to an office. I owe that to people named Gates, Jobs.and too many more to mention. The great innovators of this generation. Because of their brain power and consistent commitment to create,  I can take my laptop to the crapper and purchase a crapy stock

All while I am taking a crap.on the crapper.

Somebody save me.

Did I just pay homeage to those brilliant minds or scar their memories forever?.

Who gives a crap?

And talking about crap, how about esearch in Motion? .I lost some Benjamins on that one. I got out quick and shaved my losses. Could the analysts have madee up their freakin’ minds? Is it a buy or a sell?

Break up the company and sell the parts. Change management. Make a WHITEBERRY so it looks like an iPhone.

Hey RIMM, wake the F**k up. It’s 2012 you fell asleep and the world has changed.

Sorry, I know NO emotions when it comes to stocks. No personal involvement. Just dinner and a movie and hopefully a happy ending. I couldn’t help myself.. I dated RIMM and.I usually do not date that type but I had to stay and see if I could eventually receive that happy ending.

Well I didn’t .

NO happy ending.  Paid for three dinner dates and still no happy ending so decided to cut her loose and date within my limited capabilities.

So the question is which stock is a CRAPPY STOCK?

ZOOM with a happy ending or RIMM with no happy ending.

“You …You got what I need…but you say he’s just a friend yeah you say he’s just a friend….You..You got what I need….”

O.K. I’m back….

Kimberly Clark.

Can you say that again?

Kimberly Clark. Sounds so wholesome. The type of girl you take home to meet your parents.No happy ending, but she will put a smile on your face.

Sncere, wants the best for you and is always consistent. Looks like she just fell out of a J.CREW catalogue.

Certainly not a CRAPPY STOCK, but I have to look deep inside my soul.

OK. not so deep.

I am not that deep of a soul and by my standards of weighing values I guess I am what I am.

I just want a happy ending when paying for dinner and a movie. A bit chauvanistic,  but stress release is imperative to my stability which in turn has a profound effect on my sanity.

Not RIMM type of crappy, but ZOOM type of crappy-happy..

Although if I purchased RIMM @$13. and it went back into the 20’s, 30’s.and then all the way back to the $70’s, I could eliminate the “CR” and replace it with an “H” and RIMM could be a crappy-happy…happy ending kind of a date.

But you know how it goes.

You start dating again and all is well and then you get blind sided. But it is hard to fathom that the stronghold it had on the corporate world has slipped through their sleepy minds. Perhaps management needs happy endings to stimulate their thought process. Kimberly Clark is a great date and even a better long term relationship. Perhaps marriage would be a good dividend, but I like my crappy-happy stocks….

Back in May I believe it was Cramer who touted Motricity at $30 or so and then admitted that he had made a mistake.

Does Cramer get …..?

Never mind.

Then a Motley Fool article said “sell and stay far away.” I think it was a December article.

So who’s right ?

In my view neither was right, but hey that’s just me. Instead of “buy” and “don’t buy” when is somebody going to look at any item and say “O.K. I did my research so how do I play this to my advantage?”

I purchased MOTR at close to its 52 week low. Then December 23 it gained 22% …..CRAPPY STOCK.

28% of the 33 million share float is short., but Carl Icahn has supported MOTR with a $20 million investment and owns 15% of the company, and yes there is another person with the same last name that is an insider.

It is going through some executive changes and probably a short squeeze. It has been in a tight channel since August and the broke out of the channel to the short side and reversed in the past few days with increased volume.

Is the short squeeze on? We shall see. Just watch the volume as it tells the story…..


My thinking is there are no crappy stocks. Only people that enter and exit a stock at the wrong time. Bit if crappy stocks keep giving me high returns with no marital obligations and all the baggage that is attached, I will keep dating with some dinner and a movie.

And that movie better COME with a HAPPY ENDING….

” But this ain’t a joke, I want you to know that Tech ninna is never pretending.. Alone in my bed, a gun to my head, asking WHERE IS MY HAPPY ENDING? “

“Clasp your hands together.” I wonder if Mrs. Chivis is out there reading tonight?



If for some bizarre reason you feel a need to read George Pick’s previous guest blogs

Quiero Taco Bell

Who Needs Friggin’ Options?



Check out Recent PortfolioTransactions


The Smartest Guys in the Room?

Let’s climb into the “Wayback Machine” and travel to a place that I like to call February 2007.

Back then, I was just getting started with managing some of my own investments.  I had decided to finally start putting my money where my theories were and focused on putting some 401(k) rollover funds to work.

Since the rest of my investments were sitting with my trusty broker, with whom I’d had a 25 year history, I thought that regardless of my personal mis-steps, I’d still be in reasonably good shape.

But barely 6 months later I was looking to rework my entire portfolio by putting my own stamp on all of its holdings.

To remind past readers, or just to inform new ones, the decision to do so came only after the unexpected death of my broker. The happy  25 year run that took us from E.F. Hutton to Paine Weber and stops in-between suddenly ended

Back in early 2007 I was far more discerning when I made my stock purchases, only because the portfolio that I was managing was relatively small. Since I was selling call options on all of the holdings and needed to do so in a sufficiently large quantity to offset bid and ask discrepancies, my self managed portfolio wasn’t entirely diversified and could easily suffer from the kind of hiccoughs that can be so common.

At that point, I already owned shares in those triple digit darlings Google and MasterCard, and Apple was soon to join them. Back then, there was no shortage of triple digit stocks.

That changed.

With some money in hand following the sales of Intel and Dell Computer (see why I hate Tech stocks), I was trying to decide between purchasing from between two more triple digit darlings:

Empty Parking LotsSears Holdings or Goldman Sachs.

Goldman was at about $215 and Sears was nearly $190 at the time.

It was never really a fair fight. Goldman always had the inside track.

No, not because Eddie Lampert, the Chairman of Sears Holdings and allegedly the next incarnation of Warren Buffett, was a Goldman alumnus, but because the Goldman CFO was a high school classmate of mine.

Easily the smartest guys in any room.

You may know some of the story as it all infolded between February 2007 and December 2011. If you don’t know the story, take a moment to check your brokerage statements.

You know, the ones that you were afraid to open.

The smartest guys in the room have seen their ups and downs over the past few years.

Today came news that 120 Sears and K-Mart stores were going to be closed.

People still marching on Wall Street would like to do the same with Goldman Sachs.

For me, the sure sign that something was amiss at Sears was when I noticed that Dick Bove was sporting a Sears necktie. To those more analytically inclined, the message was already clear when the aerial photographs of the Sears’ parking lots during the holiday season were indistinguishable from the parking lots of an Orthodox Jewish synagogue on Yom Kippur.

Don’t get that?

Alright, how about it was indistinguishable from the New York Mets’ parking lot in October.

But anyway, back to 2007 and with a decision to be made, I bought shares of Goldman Sachs and have held shares nearly continuously since that time, albeit in varying amounts as the term “dollar cost averaging” took on great meaning with Goldman, as did the expression “Value trap?”

Just to put things into perspective, Goldman is now trading below $95, although to its credit, no one has yet had their names qualified as being a “convicted felon.”

Without giving too much information away, over the years, I’ve generated about $35,000 in options premiums from my shares and have also had some capital gains as shares were assigned. Remember, I like to practice sacrifice of young children to protect the older ones and I rarely practice what Baruch preached, so while I currently have losses on existing shares, they’ll be on paper unless someone can take them out of my cold grasp.

If there really was a reason behind the decision to choose Goldman over Sears, it’s been lost to me, but I know that there really never was a reason, so I’ll go with the high school thing.

Maybe it was just cultural. Goldman, Sachs or Sears.

Mind you though, the argument for going with Sears was compelling and as they say at politically correct competitions “there really are no losers here.”

Other than investors.

It seemed as if hardly a day went by that we didn’t hear how Eddie Lampert was this generation’s Warren Buffett, despite the fact that Warren Buffett is still this generation’s Warren Buffett.

The strategy also sounded great. Look, he’d spent no money at K-Mart and made everyone that had faith gazillions of dollars.

Blue light specials? Gone. Why pay extra for the blue tinted light bulbs?

Then, he got Sears Roebuck to overpay for K-Mart, demonstrating what morons the Sears Board of Directors really was, making it all that much easier for Lampert to complete his swoop and pick up Sears on the cheap and transform it into Sears Holdings.

Besides, everyone knew that it was all about the real estate, anyway.

Genius. Pure inspired genius.

Yeah, that was yet another example of “crowd think.” Everyone piled on to the genius behind cornering the valuable real estate.

If you ever stepped foot into a Lampert era Sears, you realize that they were ghost towns, but that was clearly part of the brilliant Lampert strategy.

After all, why get bogged down with pesky things like inventory and customers when you want that “valuable” real estate to sell. Those things only get in the way.And surely, as loathe as I am to look at, much less use charts, see how well that strategy paid off? After all, everyone knows that an empty house sells much more readily and at a better price than a lived in and furnished house.

Chart: GS vs SHLD and SP 500

Sorry about not flipping the chart right side up.

I know even less about real estate than I do about stocks, but closing 120 stores probably isn’t going to do much good for business real estate values.

What did I tell you? The guy’s a genius.

The fact that a few weeks ago every analyst was blasting Best Buy for having retail outlets that were too large probably wasn’t terribly good news for the world of business real estate either.

I don’t know what my personal outcome would have been had I purchased those Sears shares back when they still had some appeal.

I never look back and play the “what if” game. That can be particularly psycholgically destructive of you’ve ever suffered assignment of shares, such as Visa or even Green Mountain after unexpected and significant price rises.

Although Sears is down about 83% from that day back in 2007, Goldman is down about 56%.

I suppose either way you could make it up on volume, but it seems ironic to introduce a retail concept to a guy who has been lambasted for not being a retailer, yet having the “cajones” to think he could run Sears.

By the same token, Goldman was about as far from the retail brokerage business as you can get, so maybe volume isn’t the way to go.

That’s why I’m not sitting in the room with those smart guys.

But I least I have the inventory to furnish the room.

Check out Recent PortfolioTransactions