Thursday, January 22, 2009

Extreme Opportunities to Make or Lose Money

Today's market is full of opportunities to make money or rather to lose them. Just remember: The market always makes the biggest group of people lose the largest amount of money to allow a few to get obscenely rich at the same time.

For your own good, you should always avoid the biggest crowd, and go to quiet secret places few noticed, it's true for making money and for life in general. Imagine you are at a place with hundreds of thousands of people. There is imminent danger and there are only two bridges leading to safety. One is narrow and in terrible shape. Another is big and in solid shape. Which one would you rush to? I would rather foolishly run to the dangerous one, knowing that all the smart folks will rush to the safer bridge, and collapse the safer bridge due to the sheer weight of the big crowd. That's the philosophy of life.

Read my previous analogy using Noah's Ark. Safe havens, by definition, must be narrow and can not accommodate too many people. If a perceived safe place can accommodate every one, then it is a death trap! The biggest presumed safe haven today, and hence a death trap, is the US Treasury Bonds market. There is an imminent danger in the TB market. People invested in treasuries have already lost big time, without realizing it. The bridge is perfectly safe, until one last person step onto it, and then it collapses suddenly under the collective weight.

Like the bridge, the TB market could collapse merely because there are too many investors in TBs for the perceived safety. The problem is when these people want to unwind their positions, who is going to buy? Whoever want to buy TBs have already done so! In 10 years you will be paid back the principal amount, but maybe not the purchase power. I suspect that government of China or Japan may have utilized recent US Treasury Bonds frenzy to quietly unload their overly too large US Treasury Bonds holdings which are otherwise impossible to unload. It's purely just my speculation with no evidence that I know.

Always avoid the big crowds! Last year when I suspected the big crowd had arrived, I called for folks in coal stocks like JRCC, ACI, ANR, BTU, CNX, MEE, to take profit. The timing was perfect as JRCC peaked just one day later after my article was published on Seeking Alpha.

Recently I was alerted that the dry bulk shipping stock DRYS was too crowded with too high a daily volume. My initial entry into the shipping sector was perfectly timed near the bottom, and I picked the best one to buy at that time, DRYS. But when I became cautious as the sentiment in DRYS was too high. So I switched from DRYS to EXM, another dry bulk shipper, as I believe EXM presented a much better valuation now. Read also David White's take on EXM.

Then, on Jan. 22, 09, DRYS dropped $4.01 on some "bad" news, even as the BDI surged up 5% that day. The news was out before the market open, but it turned into a total panic only in the last hour of trading. I think DRYS was overly punished by the news which isn't so bad after all. DRYS is over sold here. But EXM is still a better buy, from the valuation point of view. Unfortunately Mr. George Economou, the CEO of DRYS, will continue to disturb investors' perception of the company, regardless whether any of his private dealings are appropriate or not. I would rather stick with a company clean of such doubts.

In a previous article, I recommended shorting three stocks which are related to discretional consumer spending, and hence vulnerable during hard times: Coca Cola (KO), Pepsi (PEP) and Colgate (CL). All three are down from when I recommended the shorts. These stocks are not very volatile, and do not have too much short interests. So they are nice long term shorts if you hate volatility.

Along the thinking of discretional spending, I would now recommend shorting Apple (AAPL), and a recent high flier PALM. The current valuation of AAPL is just ridiculous. It is based on the hope of continued fast growth of AAPL's earnings, which is unrealistic. How many more iPhones can AAPL sell, before the market is saturated? The recent hype of PALM is a joke. They have a nice product which may be better than iPhone, but so what? I would rather buy a proven and established product, than something un-proven and non-established. Google (GOOG) is probably a good short, too. GOOG's income mostly comes from web advertisements. When companies are struggling to cut cost, they do not have much appetite spending money on advertisements. These three might not be immediate shorts amid recent earnings announcements. But watch closely for good short entries.

Stillwater Mining (SWC) continues to be my most favorite stock to hold. I firmly believe there is an undisputable bullish case for the precious metal palladium, and hence for SWC. I have yet to analyze North American Palladium (PAL)'s recent announcement for a comment. But SWC is a better value with much higher ore grade and a much bigger mineral reserve. Read about the palladium bullish case.

In short term, the dry bulk shipping sector is the best to be in. The global trade has not and can not come to a complete halt. The shipping industry is capable of adjusting to lowered demand quickly. But think about it: Trillion dollars of government spending is going to be a much bigger demand on physical goods and commodities, than your $200 weekly grocery shopping. There is a chance shipping can even reach new highs.

The unique nature of shipping supply and demand is that when demand is high, it's hard for supply to catch up, because you can not build new ships fast enough, or make the ship sail fast enough to meet the demand. On the other hand, when the demand is weaker, the industry CAN respond promptly to reduce capacity to meet lower demand, by canceling new ship orders, speed up scrapping of old ships, lay up ships for longer period of maintenance, or simply sail slower to save fuel cost and make fewer port calls. All those adjustments are happening right now so in short term, dry bulk shipping is very bullish. All of these shipping stocks are good buys: EXM, DRYS, EGLE, NM, TBSI, GNK and OCNF.

Full Disclosure: The author is heavily invested in SWC and shipping stocks EXM, EGLE, TBSI, as well as hold PAL and cobalt stock OMG. I have no positions on other stocks mentioned in the article.


JJ2000426 said...

Look at SLV's silver bar list, a big suspicion immediately raises up.

The bar serial numbers are listed in alphabetical order. On first page the bars are from "AMAX INC.".

I have never heard there is a "AMAX INC." involved in silver bullion manufacturing. Search the web and it does not exist.

On the other hand, there is a big brand name silver company called A-Mark, or AMARK. It's such a big name that SLV has got to at least have some silver bars from AMARK.

Search the bar list, there is no AMARK or A-MARK!!!

I think they screwed up big time. The bar list looks just so fake.

Anonymous said...

Hmm. There's Cyprus Amax Minerals which is a gold miner, but it's not listed here as a NYMEX-approved brand of bullion:

COMEX list, anyone.

If they are listing bars made by a non-existent company, doncha think that the instis who give them 50,000 ounces at a time to create a basket of shares would notice ... or care?

Good thing i sold all my SLV today at $11.80 !!!!