Thursday, August 25, 2016
18 years in Wall Street, left after finding out it was all horseshit. Founder/ Master and Commander: iBankCoin, finance news and commentary from the future.
Joined Nov 10, 2007
13,831 Blog Posts

Here’s Why Saudi Arabia is Trying to Bankrupt America’s Oil Industry

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Everyone hates Russia. They have nuclear weapons. They bomb our ISIS allies in Syria. They refuse to be ruled by friendly globalist oligarchs. They displaced actual nazis in the Ukraine. And, they have a lot of oil and have been punching our terrorist factory country, Saudi Arabia, in the face with a steroid induced vigor–by stealing market share from China.

“There’s a market-share battle going on mainly among the Middle East producers and Russia,” Olivier Jakob, managing director of Petromatrix, said by phone from Zug, Switzerland. “Rivals are making a big push into China.”

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So pray tell me, if you were a Saud King, lamped up in your harem– wondering about how to fix your countries great oil problem– what would you do?

Wouldn’t you try to recapture the glory days of when George Bush was President of America–when your agents were permitted to blow up skyscrapers with airplanes to induce an oil shock, by which you would profit, handsomely, through a near monopoly of America’s oil markets? After the great spike in oil prices, however, devils in the Bakken shale, and other American locales, started to exhibit sentimental feelings of capitalism.  They drilled like motherfuckers and made America a great oil producing nation. Your Saudi Kingdom was turning to shit, right before your very eyes. Market share losses were both abundant and rampant in both of your core markets. The future looked grim.

The only logical thing to do was to manipulate oil prices lower, in order to bankrupt the marginal players in America, which would then allow you to take back share, without even having to crash airplanes into buildings.

This, however, has not worked out according to plan–as American ingenuity and an instinct to survive, have made this process tumultuous for the House of Saud.

This is an ongoing struggle and the end of the story hasn’t been written yet.

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The Mall is Dead Thesis Lives! $EXPR Shattered into a Thousand Pieces After Dreadful Earnings Report

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Lululemon is not a mall based story. Their nonsense is in the streets, with the rest of the normal retail stores. Macy’s is in the mall and they’re getting hammered. Express is in the mall and their stock just died.

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Although not a very large cap name, this is a big deal for retail. Anyone who ventures out into shopping malls knows that there’s an Express in almost every single one of them. It is the barometer for the layman, semi-retarded, consumer–in search of stylish wares at reasonable prices. I once made the mistake of buying denim from there and ended up looking like an actual clown when I wore it.

In the conference call, the company cited (courtesy of Briefing.com):

1) challenging store traffic

2) an increased assortment of merchandise that resulted in a lack of clarity and skewed too young.

Co is adjusted merchandising target and looking to resonate better with consumers

Traffic will remain a headwind

Mens outperformed but womens but both were negative

Co has ~550 stores and just under 100 outlets (targeting 140-150 outlets in a few years)

Look at these fucking numbers.

Reports Q2 (Jul) earnings of $0.13 per share, $0.04 worse than the Capital IQ Consensus of $0.17; revenues fell 5.8% year/year to $504.8 mln vs the $520.81 mln Capital IQ Consensus.

Comparable sales (including e-commerce sales) decreased 8% vs. guidance for a mid single digit decline, compared to a 7% increase in the second quarter of 2015. E-commerce sales declined 7% to $70.1 million.

Total inventory was down 6% with retail inventory down 9%.

Merchandise margin declined by 200 basis points driven by increased markdowns on clearance items as we focused on positioning our inventory for the fall season. Buying and occupancy as a percentage of net sales rose by 120 basis points. In combination, this resulted in a 320 basis point decline in gross margin, representing 29.9% of net sales compared to 33.1% in last year’s second quarter.

Co issues downside guidance for Q3, sees EPS of $0.09-0.15 vs. $0.32 Capital IQ Consensus; comps negative high single to low double digits.
Co issues downside guidance for FY17, lowers EPS to $1.00-1.14 from $1.41-1.54, excluding non-recurring items, vs. $1.46 Capital IQ Consensus; lowers comps to negative high single digits from low to mid single digits.

“I am disappointed with our second quarter performance as sales and earnings were below our guidance, reflecting challenging store traffic. This was compounded by a lack of clarity across the assortment. We believe we have identified the necessary actions to position Express to regain momentum and we are moving on them. Our fall assortment is more cohesive across our wearing occasions, clearly identifying the important trends, and we are aggressively pursuing several marketing initiatives focused on driving new customer acquisition and retention. In addition, we are pleased with our overall inventory position as we begin the fall season.”

Shares are being shattered this morning, off by 25%.

Other mall based retailers are heading lower too, namely GES and ANF.

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Commodities Hammered: Rate Hike Jitters

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This is the stupidest shit of all time. How many faux rate hikes do we need to endure before people finally realize the Fed cannot hike? I’ll play along. Don’t worry.

Yesterday’s housing numbers were so terrific, investors are anticipating a rate hike, especially ahead of Yellen’s speech at Jackson Hole–later this week. Futures are mildly higher, so there’s no immediate risk to equities. After all, the economy is great. However, the specter of higher rates has people curiously selling off commodities, en masse.

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Also curiously, that same tentativeness is not being found in the bond market safe havens–with TLT still straddling record high territories at $140. It’s worth noting, there haven’t been any meaningful pullbacks in either the utility or REIT sectors–making the sell off in commodities all the more beguiling!

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Cramer Hits New Record Low: Chinese Manipulation of Market ‘Got the Job Done’

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When I started the business in ’97, people suspected markets were rigged. Order books were regularly subjected to front running. Not held orders were ignored and wide spreads raped people with the sort of malice you’d expect in a third world nation. But, for the most part, if you were buying big companies and had a decent enough time horizon, making money wasn’t so hard.

Since the great recession of 2008, everything changed.

At first, they tried to tell us they weren’t manipulating markets and were instead experimenting with capital in order to save the world. No one really knew what was going on, so we accepted it on face value. We had to save the world. I got it.

But now, more than 8 years after the fact, we don’t even hide the manipulation. The media tries to sell it to us like it’s part of the game. Sure, it’s fucking normal for the Bank of Japan to create money out of thin air, buying up ETFs, placing themselves as the top shareholder in dozens of NIKKEI 225 index member companies.

This video, performed by Cramer, struck me as especially egregious. In it, he gleefully praised the Chinese manipulation of their markets, citing their egregious actions–such as arresting short sellers– and saying ‘it got the job done.’

Really, Cramer. Have you fallen that far that you cannot see the folly in your own, demented and distorted, version of the world?

Shameful.

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IPOs Are Smoking Fucking Hot

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Let me preface everything that I say here with the fact that I am actively ignoring the melt up and will continue to do so–because I refuse to play in a rigged game. Granted, this leaves me out in the cold like Fred Flintstone, while the rest of you do blow with Dino and Wilma. Like any good Doctor, I endeavor to do no harm, using that as my credo as I navigate markets with a snarky disposition.

Having said that, the true barometer of any good bull market is the health of its IPO market. Last year, the IPO market was dreadful, littered with stupid shit like ETSY–regularly blowing people to smithereens, Fred Wilson style. But this year, its been good–real good.

Using the IPO screen in Exodus, the following stocks are crushing the market over the past month. Overall, the median return for IPOs, over the past 3mos, is upwards of 11%. That number is much higher for the anointed few.

TEAM +29%

SUPV +21%

TWLO  +38% over the past month (shout out to Option Addict on this one)

SQ +31%

RRR +18%

ACIA +239%

CCRC +56%

PEN +42%

Look for a slew of IPOs to come public in September, once the junior traders are slapped fucking stupid off the trading turrets, making room for the true bosses coming back from a summer of narcotic induced sauntering.

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Mylan’s CEO, Heather Bresch, Enjoyed a 671% Spike in Compensation After Epipen Price Gouging

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Since 2007, when Mylan acquired the life saving allergy drug called Epipen, the company has been on a mission from hell to gouge desperate patients who need the drug to survive. More than that, its executives have also lavished themselves with gratuitous compensation hikes, reminiscent of the days when Marie Antoinette famously suggested the starving ham and eggers outside the castle gates be fed cake to subside their anguish.

From 2007-2016, Mylan’s CEO, Heather Bresch, enjoyed a 671% pay hike, from $2.4m to $18.9m. Also, their President and COO, Rajiv Malik and Anthony Mauro saw their salaries increase 11% and 13.6%, respectively, in the year 2008 alone.

Over the same time period of Heather’s exorbitant lifestyle upgrade, the price of the Epipen increased 461% from $56.64 to $317.82. From the fourth quarter of 2013 thru 2016, Mylan jacked up the price of Epipen by 15% every other quarter.

How nice of them.

Shareholders have done very well, magnificently so. The stock has risen from $13 to $47 over the same time period.

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Wait, it gets better.

Like any good executive worth his/her salt, the company sought out to expand the usage of the Epipen. After all, people needed it. Kids needed it, to live. So they ramped up their lobbying efforts, dramatically, spending $1.2m in 2008, up from $270k, to ‘convince’ officials to see things their way.

Shortly thereafter, the FDA changed its recommendation that two Epipens be sold per package, allowing them to sell one at a time, and that it be prescribed to ‘at risk’ patients only.

In 2013, congress passed a law that required Epipens be stocked in public schools, all the while Heather and Co., like the true robber barons they are, price gouged and injured the American tax payers, while endangering the lives of those who needed the drug to survive by making it unaffordable.

Crony capitalism.

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Sanford Bernstein: Passive Investing is Worse Than Marxism

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You’d expect an advisory firm to shit on index ETFs in a report saying they’re worse than Marxism. Index ETFs have only grown in popularity thanks to the underperformance of professional asset managers. There is, however, a much graver threat to our form of crony capitalism that is rarely discussed, one that the eggheads from Bernstein skipped over.

In a note titled “The Silent Road to Serfdom: Why Passive Investing is Worse Than Marxism,” a team led by Head of Global Quantitative and European Equity Strategy Inigo Fraser-Jenkins, says that politicians and regulators need to be cognizant of the social case for active management in the investment industry.

“A supposedly capitalist economy where the only investment is passive is worse than either a centrally planned economy or an economy with active market led capital management,” they write.

Fraser-Jenkins notes that the rise of indexing should theoretically entail that stocks tend to move in the same direction more often (though such a simple relationship isn’t necessarily borne out by the data), and cites research indicating that “if the correlation of stocks increases then that impedes the efficient allocation of capital. That is, there isn’t as big of a difference in capital expenditures on a sector by sector basis than what would be expected based on relative profit growth.

The social function of active management, in a capitalist society, is that it seeks to direct capital to its most productive end, facilitating sustainable job creation and a rise in the aggregate standard of living. And rather than be guided by the Invisible Hand and profit motive, capital allocation under Marxism is conducted by an oh-so-visible hand aimed at producing use-values that satisfy each member of the society’s needs. Seen through this lens, passive management is somewhat tantamount to a nihilistic approach to capital allocation.

“The commonality between both active market management and the Marxist approach is that in both cases there are a set of agents trying – at least in principle – to optimize the flows of capital in the real economy,” writes Fraser-Jenkins.

Bernstein’s team isn’t asking for governments to bail out active managers, but merely advises that lawmakers and regulators “may wish to consider the broader benefits of a functioning active asset management industry to society as a whole so that when policy initiatives are undertaken they do not explicitly undermine active management.”

Let’s talk about Serfdom, Fraser-Jenkins. While SPY or QQQ ETFs might muddy the waters, lumping in great companies with shitty ones, there is a much greater, invidious, force out there that is misallocating capital on an unprecedented and monumental scale. It’s called QUANTITATIVE EASING.

I discussed this last night, in a missive against the BOJ. The ETFs are merely the vehicle towards  the socialization of markets. QE, or the creation of money for the explicit purpose of manipulating markets, is the fuel.

There cannot be a market if the game is rigged. With the ECB and the BOJ artificially causing yields to drop, we are bearing witness to a melt up in equities, driven by passive investments in major ETFs, as investors search for yield. In Japan, their schemes are far more advanced and egregious, as previously noted. While the existence of index ETFs might be inconvenient for the asset management industry, its deleterious effects on capitalism pales in  comparison to the degenerate central bank schemes of QE.

Get real Bernstein.

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Enemy Reporters at $NYT Hacked By Russian Devils

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CNN is reporting that “Russian Intelligence” has hacked into email addresses at some prominent reporters at the enemy news organization, dubbed The New York Times.

I am not sure whatever the fuck CNN is talking about, in regard to Russian hackers. They also blamed the Russians for the DNC Leaks, which wasn’t a hack, but a fucking leak. Conveniently, CNN leaves out the part that the founder of Wikileaks, Julian Assange, said Seth Rich was the leaker and the Russians had nothing to do with the matter.

The narrative out of the White House and the Clinton camp, which is basically synonymous, is to blame Russia for just about everything. If in fact you do not agree with this assertion, speaking to a vast Russian conspiracy to take down America, then you’re a fucking Russian spy.

McCarthyism is alive and well.

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Housing Stocks Roar Because HOUSING BOOM

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The median return for the housing sector is +6% this year. Over the past two years, however, the sector is down by 8.8%, in spite of record low interest rates and record high stock prices.

Today Toll Brothers came out with better than expected results and truly lauded the state of the residential market in their call.

Contracts grew in every region; virtually every metric improved Y/Y. TOL saw sequential improvement throughout Q3 and August reservations were up 23%.

  • Repurchased ~3.7 mln shares at $26.33/share ($97 mln), representing ~2% of outstanding shares. Will opportunistically buy back stock
  • Still bought $459 mln in land, mostly in California; now has 48K lots owned/optioned
  • Margin reduction a result of some higher margin City Living property deliveries being pushed out into FY17.
  • Not seeing any softness in luxury home market.
  • No change in appetite from foreign buyers (low to mid-single digit mix)
  • High end of NYC market is fine. Remains bullish in California, well positioned. Ivy Zellman said co is ‘kililng it.
  • California, Vegas, No. Virginia, NJ/PA, Seattle, Dallas, Raleigh all strong; both coasts going well.

As a result, shares of many homebuilder stocks are rising.

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According to Exodus, valuations for the sector haven’t been this attractive since 2007.
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But that was a different story back then, wasn’t it? Homies were crushing numbers and trading like internet stocks, because of the housing bubble. Aside from the luxury market, there isn’t a bubble in real estate anymore. If your home is priced in the $300k-$999k range, values haven’t moved in years.

Having established those points, this is an intriguing sector to be long, if you believe the economy will improve and the Fed might hike rates over the next 12 months. Typically, the specter of higher rates coerces people into buying, in order to lock in rates.

Home ownership is at 50 years lows, as the younger class of vagabonds rent inside of filthy and disgusting urban centers. But there’s always a counter-balance and I am sure some of these punk kids, once properly employed, will venture out into the suburbs for a cleaner and better life. They’ll buy a home, and a few fucking dogs, and live happily ever after.

Seasonally speaking, September is the worst time to own the sector, which means it might be a good time to buy dips.

While everyone seems to be focused on the caprices of Amazon and Exxon shareholder behavior, there is a whole sector of economically sensitive stocks out there–trading at historically low valuations, that are now moving to the upside.

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Bank of America Releases Their Absurd Top 10 Reasons Why Stocks Should Drop

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I’m wondering why they only published 10 reasons why stocks should correct from current levels and not 11 or even 15? These lists are usually concocted by infantile baboons.

Positioning
The most hated rally since the great pyramid building craze in ancient Egypt has a lot of shorts throwing in the towel. Investors are becoming increasingly bullish, which of course is bearish, because the layman is a moron.

Economic Surprises
Investors have become super complacent, playing with dynamite sticks inside gunpowder factories, always a bad idea.

Valuations

Shit is expensive and that might provide someone, somewhere, with a reason to sell.

Elevated Expectations
Every one is very sanguine about QE and an economy that can sail smoothly into the sunset, as indicated by the VIX.

Growth

Growth is essentially non existent and expectations can easily fall short, leading to harrowing declines.
China

The Chinese economy, as measured by the PMI, is contracting. Therefore it is a headwind and a risk.

Credit and Leverage

Credit and leverage are high because we’re all degenerates. The lack of credit is mostly widely found in the energy sector.

“Leverage is high and credit is slowly tightening, while appetite for equity issuance may also be drying up,” she writes, highlighting high levels of indebtedness among S&P 500 companies once financials and tech are removed from the equation.

Elections
Donald Trump is a yuuuge risk to the globalization narrative.
The Fed

The Yellen Fed is lost at sea.

Seasonality
September is a dreadful month for stocks. October is renowned for market crashes. Enjoy.

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