Stocks closed unchanged this week, as Friday’s job report powered the major averages back from earlier declines, sparked by rumor that the Trump administration intends to restrict H1B1 visas in an upcoming Executive Order.
The exception to the recovery ralldy in stocks on Friday was the 2.15% drop in the DJTA, which fell 202.72 points to close the week at 9,241.56.
Those subscribing to the wisdom of Dow Theory may appreciate the contradiction of this week’s stock market action between the industrials and transportation stocks. Although the DJIA and DJTA have reaffirmed a bull market, post-election, I’d really like to see the DJTA catching up to the DJIA following a week like the one just past.
The VIX, after spiking rapidly at the open and throughout the day to as high as 12.9 on Monday, and again to as high as 12.99 on Tuesday, the VIX crashed to as low as an eye-popping 9.97 by Wednesday’s trade before rallying back to 10.97 by the close on Friday. Wow.
From the looks of Monday’s opening of VIX, I wasn’t the only one who found over the weekend the high-probability trade of a narrowing of the VIX and S&P500 this week. In my report of last week, I suggested to subscribers that shorting SPY and buying VXZ might be a very good idea after considering the technically overbought SPY and oversold VXZ.
Okay, here’s a trade you may want to consider. How about buying the VIX (VXZ) and shorting the SPY? Take the amount of the stake you want to play for this trade. As an example: $1,000. Instead of going long $500 on VXZ, and short $500 on S&P 500 (SPY), we should adjust for volatility to capture our intended play on the two ETFs narrowing.
For those acting on my find, congratulations. Monday’s and Tuesday’s big moves between the SPY and VXZ narrowed significantly without a hitch. And here’s an opportunity for me to not brag about this call, as some of you may expect, but an opportunity to add some insight for my readers as to the measured wording I often use in these report.
For example, in the opening of my suggestion regarding the SPY/VXZ trade, I stated, “Okay, here’s a trade you may want to consider. How about buying the VIX (VXZ) and shorting the SPY?”
Because the diversity of traders who subscribe to my newsletter vary greatly, longer-term traders won’t play the SPY/VXZ trade for a one or two-day score. To my very aggressive short-term traders, my suggestion to you may have translated to ‘jump on this trade my friend, now!’ Right? Keep this in mind for future reports.
Anyway, all I can say is, two subscribers out of more than two dozen emails I received about this call asked if I ever traced my family tree back to discover I’m a descendant of Nostradamus. Well, my response is borrowed from the great 16th century seer, himself, when he was quoted:
Although, my son, I have used the word prophet, I would not attribute to myself a title of such lofty sublimity. —Nostradamus, circa 1555.
Now, moving on with great humility, let’s talk about upcoming events that may jolt markets in a fashion not witnessed in almost a decade. I’m referring to the elections in The Netherlands and France.
In The Netherlands, the date March 15 should be emboldened on your calendar. That’s the date when the world will know if the Brexit/Trump populist movement has ‘legs’ beyond the Anglo/American ‘empire’.
Now, take heed to what I’m about to lay out regarding the upcoming political events in Europe, because the possibility of a world-shocking financial event may not come out of the Trump administration, Syria, South China Sea, or the Middle East, after all. Instead, the financial shock may come about from the growing populist uprising and the implications of this uprising on the European Union’s ability to save the euro currency from extinction.
Although I’ve mentioned the political scene in Europe as important in past reports, I want to reemphasize to my readers the importance of the two events scheduled to take place within the next 77 days.
Freedom party leader and Trump-like populist, Geert Wilders, is favored to be elected prime minister of The Netherlands on March 15. Why is this important? If Wilders wins, the pressure on France to join the populist movement may become too great to save the European Union from its deepening political and economic wounds sustained since the collapse of Lehman Brothers.
And in France, on April 23, National Front candidate for president of France (another Trump-like candidate), Marine Le Pen, will be on the ballot. Le Pen has led a crowded field of candidates to replace the unpopular socialist, Francois Hollande.
To the point: if France taps Le Pen as the next president of France, the European Union experiment is over. And who knows what will happen in the Forex? Because nothing of this scale has ever happened in my lifetime, I cannot even fathom all the possible outcomes in the markets if Le Pen is victorious.
This week, Le Pen has just increased her odds of winning the presidency in France, following a nationwide scandal erupting in France, involving Le Pen’s chief rival for France’s top political post, Francois Fillon, who has been accused of financial improprieties during his tenure as prime minister of France (2007-2012) under then-President, Nicolas Sarkozy.
Termed “Penelopegate” in reference to Fillon’s wife, Penelope Fillon, Francois Fillon is alleged to have funneled state funds to his wife in a ‘no show’ job scheme during his tenure as prime minister. Further evidence suggests that Fillon’s children also took part in the scheme.
The latest poll in France shows Le Pen with 27% support in a five-candidate race for the presidency, with the first round of the vote scheduled for April 23.
“Greert Wilders, who is running to lead the Netherlands, is going to win that election,” hedge fund manager and a frequent guest on Bloomberg and CNBC, Victor Sperandeo, said in an interview with King World News. “He was arrested for making the claim, in a nice way, that Muslims should stay in their own countries and not come to the Netherlands. So he is pissed off and so are many of the people in the Netherlands. And Wilders is going to win that election and get the Netherlands out of the EU.
“And over in France, Le Pen is now in the lead and she is going to win and pull France out of the EU. The euro is going to go away and each country will go back to their own currencies. So what is going to happen in the aftermath of this, Eric, is complete chaos and world depression!”
So many of you may now be wondering why I’m making a fuss about a hedge fund manager’s comments made during an interview on a notoriously apocalyptic website, King World News. I’ll tell you that, first, Sperandeo may turn out to be correct. And two, the Sperandeo interview is beginning to spread across the Internet, and may be the first interview in a huge series of ‘doom porn’ suggesting an imminent collapse of the EU, as we approach April 23.
Now, I’ll tell you what I really think about this latest ‘Chicken Little’ rendition of the next financial Armageddon. In short, Le Pen remains a long shot to win the presidency of France. Although Le Pen has a modest lead in the polls, April 23 is the date of the first-round of voting in France, the result of which will probably not take Le Pen to 51% of the vote needed to win the election on the first round.
In France, the expectation is, that five candidates from different parties will be on the ballot in April. If Le Pen does not receive a 51% majority, a runoff vote on May 7 takes place. Following the election results of April 23, each of the candidates who didn’t reach the no. 1 or no. 2 spots has traditionally appealed to their respective bases to then vote for one of the two remaining candidates. At that time, Le Pen’s chances for the presidency drop precipitously, with the latest poll revealing a 2:1 margin for ‘anyone’ but Le Pen for the May 7 vote. Sounds familiar? Anyone but Trump. Right?
Well, as we approach April 23, I’m positioning my bets with a Le Pen loss as my baseline case. If I’m correct, the US dollar tanks, and gold soars in an anti-dollar trade. If I’m wrong, gold soars as traders across the globe pour into the ultimate safe-haven asset: gold.
Now maybe you know why I started the this year’s reports with a prediction of a strong dollar-gold price during the first half of 2017. And as a reminder, my target price for dollar-gold is $1,325-50 per ounce as the printed high by the close of the first half of 2017.
Therefore, any trade you have on, or expect to take soon, that strong correlation (either positive or negative) between your trade and the dollar-gold price, you may want to take into consideration my thoughts about a Le Pen victory in May. And the only caveat to my prediction of a Le Pen loss is: as we approach the French elections, the political scenario may radically change, therefore, I will change. But until that moment, don’t tap into the media-driven hysteria I see coming out of the elections in The Netherlands and France. ‘Be cool’.
My final thoughts for the coming week are as follows: the interest rate market appears tamed for now, but the precious metals market is on the move. Dollar-gold has touched and settled on Friday on its resistance level of $1,220 per ounce. Let’s watch to see if gold breaks out this week. Maybe another shot-across-the-bow accusation by President Trump of currency manipulation waged at a US trading partner is all gold may need to break decisively above $1,220.
And for those who missed the SPY/VXZ trade last week, we’re approaching another potentially juicy SPY/VXZ spread trade this week as well. Keep your eyes on that trade, as another high-probability spread trade may appear during any part of the week.
Okay, let’s talk stocks. I want to provide updates to my Watch List. No trades were made this week.
This Week’s JBP Stock Ideas
Original report: 11/14/2016
On November 5, I alerted a Call position I took in TWTR at a strike price of $20.
To read my rationale for the Twitter Call, follow the link to my report: ‘Twitter Takeover Play’.
My bet with a Call option includes the possibility a suitor who can fix Twitter’s sluggish attempt to monetize the company may be announced by the expiration of my March 2017 Call.
At the close of Friday’s trade, the contract settled at $0.56. The option expires in 39 days.
I’ve been asked, from where do I expect a bidder for Twitter to come: Alibaba (BABA).
There was absolutely no stock-specific news worthy of discussion this week. The stock traded within a 4.8% range during the week, and was rejected by the 52-week moving average at $17.47 on three separate trading days after managing to close above the average on Monday.
No news of import about TWTR this week. At the close of Friday’s trade, TWTR closed down $0.67 (-3.88%) to $16.58 per share.
Short sales now stand at 7.46% of TWTR float.
Of amusement, however, those faithful followers of former-President Barack Obama (@POTUS) suddenly found out the Twitter handle,“@POTUS,” is an official Twitter account of the President of the United States when tweets from the Trump administration began passing through Twitter’s feed system on the @POTUS account. Ooops.
TWTR close down $0.01 for the week to settle at $16.57 per share, with no significant news other than the Jan. 23 announcement about Google’s purchase of Twitter’s development tools. No details about the sale were disclosed. The talk is, Twitter is streamlining its business as it continues its hopes for a suitor. If a suitor exists, no one appears to know or have seen anything. Hmm. There’s a lot of smoke in this trade, but no fire.
TWTR made a big move this week, up $1.04, on better-than-average volume, as traders appear to be buying into the earnings report scheduled for February 9.
Analysts expect Twitter to report earnings of $0.12 per share on revenue of $740 million. Revenue is expected to rise by 4.2%, y-o-y. Last year, Twitter reported an EPS of $0.16 on sales of $710 million.
ABOUT TWITTER (TWTR)
Twitter, Inc. operates as a global platform for public self-expression and conversation in real time. The company offers various products and services, including Twitter that allows users to create, distribute, and discover content; and Periscope and Vine, a mobile application that enables user to broadcast and watch video live. It also provides promoted products and services, such as promoted tweets, promoted accounts, and promoted trends that enable its advertisers to promote their brands, products, and services; and subscription access to its data feed for data partners.
KANDI TECHNOLOGIES (KNDI)
Original report: 12/17/2016
As I alerted on December 14, I bought 7,000 shares of KNDI at $5.44 per share.
Here’s why I bought the stock:
I have traded KNDI earlier this year for a nice profit. Since then, the stock has come down significantly from the $6 and $8 range, dropping to as low as $3.40 in mid-November amid concerns of a hold to incentive payments due from the Chinese government.
So, what was the result of the hold on the company’s subsidy payment from the Chinese government?
On November 9, Kandi released a compete earnings report disaster. Revenue crashed to $6.4 million during Q3, down from $50.5 million, or -87%, from Q3 of last year. The company cited a freeze of incentive payments as the reason for the decline.
Kandi’s primary business is selling electric-vehicle parts to an electric-car joint venture, Kandi Electric Vehicles Group Co., with automaker Geely Automobile Holdings (NASDAQOTH:GELYF). The partnership is heavily dependent upon subsidies from the Chinese government, whose economic development plans include the development of electric vehicles.
However, because of nationwide investigates by Beijing into fraud allegations across the industry, incentive/subsidy payments throughout the industry have been frozen until the government completes its investigations. In the case of Kandi Electric Vehicles Group, without government funding, only 184 units of EV products were sold in Q3, a 96.9% decrease, y-o-y.
In response to the dramatic drop to revenue during Q3, Kandi Chairman and CEO, Mr. Hu Xiaoming, stated, “China’s central government preceded a review on the subsidies paid to all the EV manufacturers, which caused the 2015 subsidy payments remain unpaid industry-wide. The delay in subsidy payment heavily impacted the Joint Venture’s production and sales, which resulted in a significant decrease in our EV parts sales.”
Hu further stated that Kandi had been working with government officials and expressed confidence that the subsidies will be coming “soon.”
Earlier, in September, five of Kandi’s rivals were fined and removed from the list of companies eligible for subsidies.
On 29 November, KNDI announced that its wholly-owned subsidiary Kandi Electric Vehicles (Hainan) Co. Ltd received a subsidy payment of RMB 100 million (approximately US$14.5 million) to support its research and development expenditures for a new model of electric vehicle. This news of a subsidy payment to one of Kandi’s subsidiary suggests to me that the subsidy payment to the joint venture may in fact be sent “soon.” Why would Beijing clear a Kandi subsidiary but not the partnership?
News on progress of new factory in Hainan:
In the last earnings call, the company announced the following:
“Our Hainan facility construction proceeds smoothly and we have started to install the equipment as scheduled. We also made progress on the designed product in Hainan’s factory. We expect this product could be well received by the market. With respect to the production license for the new energy vehicle, we have accomplished last or fundamental work. We made our endeavors in the application and hope to opt in the license within 2017.”
This news release clearly indicates progress is being made according to the company’s production plans. I am expecting news from the company at some time between now and mid-2017 regarding the vehicles expected to be produced at the plant.
On five separate days, from November 23 through to December 2, CEO/president Hu Xiaoming, 10% owner of Kandi Technologies Group Inc. (KNDI), purchased a total of 230,000 shares at a total transaction cost of more than $1 million. Hu’s purchase price range of $4.16 and $4.99 suggests to me the range of support for the stock will fall within this range and strongly suggests to me that Hu really does believe that the frozen subsidy payments due the company are, indeed, on the way.
With 15.91% of the stock’s float held short, any positive news may drive the price rapidly higher, similar to the 11% price spike on November 29, the day of the news release regarding subsidy payments received related to the Hainan facility.
Now trading at the $5 level, I will be looking for the next move to the $5.50 level. The next resistance level may be at $6.00.
In the meantime, there’s a lot of time for news to be released about the company’s frozen subsidy payments before the company reports Q4 earnings is released, scheduled for early March.
My question is: if the CEO has bet $1 million on a favorable outcome to Q4 and/or imminent news regarding the company’s frozen subsidy payments, why wouldn’t you follow the CEO with your own stake?
The latest inside purchase was on December 27, when CEO and President, Hu Xiaoming, bought another 57,060 shares at $5.15, for a total purchase price of $293,859. Xiaoming now holds 12,342,411, according to the SEC. That’s more good news.
There was a slight change to the stock’s short interest; it remains at a high rate of 15.92% of the stock’s float, slightly down from 16.02% of two weeks ago, but up from 15.2% at the close of trading on January 9. The short ratio has dropped slightly to 15.26 days, which is still a very high number of days to cover.
No company-specific news was reported this week. KNDI closed the week down $0.20 at $4.85 per share. Short interest climbed back to 15.91% of float, while the number of days to cover rose slightly to 15.28 days.
Kandi Technologies announced on Sunday (Jan. 22, just after the completion of my January 23 report) that the company’s Geely Global Hawk electric vehicle has been included in the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of the People’s Republic of China’s Directory of Recommended Models for Energy Saving and New Energy Vehicle Demonstration and Promotion. The directory for 2017 was released on January 23, 2017.
Interestingly, the stock closed down on the day of the release, and continued to sell off on Tuesday and Wednesday to as low as $4.20 per share during Wednesday’s trade, following Monday’s close below the stock’s 50-day moving average.
But on Thursday, KNDI opened higher and spiked to as high as $4.72, a 12.4% move higher within 24 hours. I suspect $4.25 is the level at which buyers will be coming in strongly.
Also, I noticed that the lower KNDI dropped, the volume started spiking. As the stock rebounded back to $4.40+, volume was more than four-times normal. That’s a good sign of support at $4.25.
KNDI closed the week at $4.50, down $0.35.
KNDI closed the week down $0.25 to settle at $4.25 per share. There was no company-specific news this week. Short interest settled at 16.2% short, with 15.14 day to cover.
Earnings are expected to be released on Wednesday, before the market open.
ABOUT KANDI TECHNOLOGIES (KNDI)
Kandi Technologies Group, headquartered in Jinhua, Zhejiang Province, is engaged in the research and development, manufacturing and sales of various vehicle products. Kandi has established itself as one of China’s leading manufacturers of pure electric vehicle (“EV”) products (through its joint venture), EV parts and off-road vehicles.
Initial report: December 14
On December 14, I bought 100,000 shares of LQMT at $0.196, and plan to increase my stake by an additional $30,000 in the future.
LQMT is a long-term trade, and has been a winner for me in the past. On November 1, I sold LQMT for a $4,300 profit from a two-month holding time period.
I now expect to be holding the newly-acquired shares for at least six months. My price target is $0.40, at minimum.
I attended the new CEO conference call on December 8 (after the close), and believe LQMT is a sleeping giant, with the potential to be profitable and to be listed on the AMEX in the coming years.
WHY I’M LONG LQMT
On March 10, Liquidmetal and DongGuan Eontec Co., Ltd. entered into an agreement, whereby Professor Yeung Tak Lugee Li, Chairman of DongGuan, agreed to purchase up to 405 million shares of LQMT stock for a purchase price of $63.4 million.
A term of the deal included the purchase of 105 million shares at $0.08 per share for a purchase price of $8.4 million, which did indeed happen on March 10. An additional term of the deal included the purchase of an additional 200 million shares at $0.15 per share for a purchase price of $30 million, and the purchase of 100 million shares at $0.25 per share for a purchase price of $25 million. In total, Mr. Li is eligible (board approved the agreement in May) to purchase 300 million shares for a purchase price of $55 million.
In addition, Liquidmetal issued a warrant for an additional 10,066,809 shares at an exercise price of $0.07 per share.
So, who is Professor Yeung Tak Lugee Li? He is the Chairman of DongGuan Eontec Co., Ltd., in China. The company symbol on the Shanghai Exchange is (SHE:300328.SZ), where the shares currently trade at (yuan)14.02, or $2.10 per share. The market capitalization of DongGuan Eontec is approximately $850 million, and is a highly profitable company, with net profit margins exceeding 10%. The company manufactures next-generation metals for other commercial enterprises involved with the production of consumer products, just as Liquidmetals is in the business of producing.
In 2012, Li founded Leader Biomedical.
In 2013, he acquired a majority stake in publicly-traded aap Joints, a division of aap Implantate AG in Berlin, Germany.
In 2014, Li acquired EMCM, a biomaterials contract manufacturer, from aap Implantate.
All of these companies that Li purchased are in the business of developing and manufacturing next-generation metals for commercial products. Therefore, my stake in LQMT is motivated by the modus operandi of Mr. Li taking control of LQMT with plans to move LQMT onto the AMEX.
On December 14, the company announced that it has named Professor Lugee Li as President and Chief Executive Officer of Liquidmetal Technologies.
“Professor Li has served as a member of the Company’s Board of Directors since March 10, 2016 and is the sole owner of Liquidmetal Technology Limited, a Hong Kong company that is the Company’s largest shareholder,” according to the news release. “Professor Li will not be taking any compensation as a result of his appointment as President and Chief Executive Officer.”
Now that Li has taken control of Liquidmetals, I expect rapid progress. This trade idea is very similar to FNMA, in that the stock is at an inflection point. Right now nobody is paying attention to the stock, just as no one was paying attention to FNMA when I bought 40,000 shares of the stock at $1.72.
With Li on board, I’m going to be patient with LQMT, as I expect the stock to start and stop until more news from the company begets more investors and liquidity moves to higher prices during the coming year.
The company issued a news release, stating “it has ordered its first amorphous metal molding machine from its Licensee, Eontec Co., Ltd. The machine design is based on a die casting platform and is complementary to the injection molding machine developed with Engel. Delivery of the machine is expected in March 2017.”
A company doesn’t order production equipment unless a market has been targeted, or has been penetrated through contingency agreements. Not unlike other micro-cap companies, Liquidmetals’ plans are opaque to investors, which is a good thing for those seeking to get into a stock at very low prices. The bad, of course, is the lack of information in order to make a judgment regarding the stock. But in my case, I attended the conference call held by the company’s new CEO in early December, so I’m as close to an insider without actually being one. Hang in with me on this stock; it’s doing fine.
There was no news to report this week, but the stock traded up $0.0133 to close at $0.2281, a 6.2% gain. So, I’m well into the ‘green’ with a 16.3% profit on this stock, after only 30 days of holding it.
There was no company-specific news this week. LQMT traded virtually unchanged to settle at $0.2280 on Friday.
LQMT rose $0.005 to close the week at $0.2330 per share.
The news this week took place on Wednesday (Jan. 26), when the company announced it had entered into agreement to purchase approximately 41,000 square feet of industrial space in Lake Forest, California for approximately $7.8 million. The company expects to finalize the purchase on February 17, 2017.
So, Liquidmetals is moving along, and probably will be making more announcements in the future regarding the company’s new facility.
More than 10 million shares traded this week, nearly triple last week’s volume.
It pays to participate in conference calls, because I think I nailed this stock. I believe the really big moves may be coming later.
The next level of resistance for LQMT is $0.25. If/when $0.25 is breached, $0.30 is the next price of significant resistance. The shorts have reached 15.91% of the stock’s float, which calculates to more than 14 days to cover. Hold onto your hats!
No news, and no move this week. LQMT closed unchanged this week.
ABOUT LIQUIDMETALS (LQMT)
Liquidmetal® Technologies researches, developments and commercializes amorphous metals. The company’s revolutionary class of patented alloys and processes form the basis of high performance materials in a broad range of medical, military, consumer, industrial, and sporting goods products. Discovered by researchers at the California Institute of Technology, Liquidmetal alloys’ unique atomic structure enables applications to achieve performance and accuracy levels that have not been possible before. As the company controls the intellectual property rights with more than 70 U.S. patents, these high performance materials are dramatically changing the way companies develop new products.
Source: Liquidmetals Technologies
FANNIE MAE (FNMA)
Initial Report: 01/09/2017
As loyal subscribers know, I made a killing on FNMA after selling out for a $12,800 profit on November 23 on a bet that a Trump victory at the polls would soar the stock. As a reminder to my long-term subscribers, read my article of a year ago, If Trump Wins The White House, FNMA Soars. In the article, I suggest that Trump, the businessman, fully understands the wrong perpetrated by the US government against stockholders of Fannie Mae. That’s not too hard to conclude, and is why the stock soared following his win at the polls.
From the article, follow the links, because if you do and read the supporting documentation of my article, you’ll come away with a firm grasp of the political and legal issues involved with FNMA and the stakes involved to traders of the stock.
Trump takes the oath of office on the 20th, so now what? As I see it, the issue of Fannie Mae’s future now becomes more of a political than a legal one.
Changing the structure of Fannie Mae may turn into a tough fight for Trump on Capitol Hill. The idea of a nearly eight-decade-long legacy government GSE being throw to the wolves (as Democrats might see it) will drain a lot of political capital that each president starts with when initially entering the Oval Office. FNMA is no Social Security issue, but it is huge, especially, with Democrats, and ranks as a high-profile political fight I expect between Trump and Democrats, for sure.
On the Republican side, throwing Fannie Mae to the wolves, if you will, represents the other side of a clear victory for one party over the other. A Republican dream is to allow the private sector to bid for tranches of Fannie Mae’s $5 trillion mortgage holdings. That’s huge business!
What would a privatization that do for mortgage interest rates?
Rates would soar, of course. In droves, potential homeowners would be shut out of the mortgage market, and the US economy would take a whopping hit. Oh, and the 30-year mortgage? Forget about it. The advent of the 30-year mortgage was facilitated by the mere existence of the GSE in the first place. Instead, a 15-year loan would probably become the longest fixed-term loan a borrower could achieve.
Now, picture a prospective homeowner, whose principal and interest payment each month would result to as much as 71% leap under a fully-privatized plan? At a 15-year mortgage term and a, say, 5.5% interest rate on a $170,000 loan, his payment would jump to $1,389 per month, from $811.
So, forget about that! A cold-turkey, fully-privatized plan won’t happen. Even the staunchest anti-Fannies would not vote for such a draconian plan. Under a scenario, even remotely close to this one, would quickly become Trump’s ‘Obama Care’.
So what is more likely to result as a compromise?
The most likely scenario is one that compromises between upholding stockholders’ rights and a fix to the impediments that already work. That’s where the expertise of Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Treasury, Steven Mnuchin, a Goldman Sachs alumnus, comes in, who stated on November 30 that he would like to see Fannie Mae privatized “reasonably fast.”
“We will make sure that when they are restructured, they are absolutely safe and don’t get taken over again,” he told Fox News. “But we’ve got to get them out of government control.”
Ah, so what do I read into Mnuchin’s comments? I think a recapitalization plan may be the settlement Trump and the Republicans hope to achieve, as a first step. That would delight the Democrats, but tick-off Republicans. So, what to do?
To get Republicans aboard a recapitalization plan, Mnuchin and Company may propose a “slow motion” to privatization plan, as I suggested, a plan of which may involve a decade-long unraveling of the implied government backing of mortgages.
A wrinkle to the slow-motion compromise may also involve a slow-motion recapitalization scheme for Fannie Mae, which may actually be the mechanism that facilitates an orderly unwinding of government control, similar to the present FDIC scheme of backstopping the banking system.
I’m aware that reserves at the FDIC are a joke, but this framework may be in Mnuchin’s head as part of a compromise between political parties and between plaintiffs and the FHFA in the ongoing lawsuits. Essentially, a deal may come down to a matter of initially and adequately funding an FDIC-like scheme to backstop the mortgage market, while at the same time let the taxpayer off the hook of Fannie’s balance sheet—in theory, of course. But that may be the pitch Mnuchin can make to both Republicans and Democrats, and may serve, too, as a great talking point for Republicans to make to their constituencies.
As investors of FNMA, there are many more scenarios that involved FNMA stockholders getting paid through a windfall deal (fast or slow) than scenarios that shaft stockholders.
Unlike the financial media hyping the Fannie Mae issue as the next Ali-Frazier fight (Am I showing my age?), as I see the political path to a profit buried in the FNMA trade, a Trump deal to unlock Fannie Mae’s balance sheet to settle lawsuits is doable. In that case, $4 for FNMA represents a potentially huge discount to its underlying value.
I’ll let you know what I decide to do about FNMA.
No news about FNMA. And if you look at the chart, FNMA’s range this week was the narrowest since mid-October. Boring.
FNMA traded in a range of $3.68 and $3.89 this week, and settled at $3.79, down a penny at the close of trading on Friday. Now that Donald Trump is officially the President of the United States, all shareholders await further word from the Trump administration regarding Washington’s role concerning Fannie Mae.
FNMA was up strong this week with a $0.38 gain to settle at $4.17 per share. Apparently, Pershing Square Capital’s Bill Ackman released an update to investors, in which he stated, “Despite significant share price appreciation in 2016, we believe the shares of a reformed Fannie and Freddie will be worth a multiple of their current price.”
I want to remind my subscribers that Pershing own $9 billion of FNMA; he’s almost betting the house on the outcome of the final disposition of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Ackman’s restatement of his optimistic thoughts on FNMA drove this stock this week.
FNMA rose $0.28 this week to close at $4.38 per share.
Mnuchin still not confirmed by Congress. I’m pretty sure this is weighing on FNMA.
ABOUT FANNIE MAE (FNMA)
The Federal National Mortgage Association (FNMA), commonly known as Fannie Mae, is a government-sponsored enterprise (GSE) and, since 1968, a publicly traded company. Founded in 1938 during the Great Depression as part of the New Deal, the corporation’s purpose is to expand the secondary mortgage market by securitizing mortgages in the form of mortgage-backed securities (MBS), allowing lenders to reinvest their assets into more lending and in effect increasing the number of lenders in the mortgage market by reducing the reliance on locally based savings and loan associations (or “thrifts”). Its brother organization is the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (FHLMC), better known as Freddie Mac.
Initial Report: 01/16/2017
As I alerted on January 12, I bought 3,000 shares of CROX at $7.07. My initial goal is to sell at around $8.50, which is a significant resistance level. I expecting to hold CROX for as short as a few weeks to as long as a few months.
Crocs is a play on a successful turnaround. After Q2 and Q3 showed a decline in revenue and gross margin, I’m anticipating Q4 to satisfy investors. The Q4 earnings report is expect on March 6, and the consensus forecast is for Crocs to earn $0.15 per share. If the company can reach the consensus of $0.15, an $8.50 price target price I’ve set for the stock may easily be reached.
After Blackstone Group came to the aid of Crocs to bring in experienced executives and, specifically, execs who specialize in turnarounds, I see absolutely no reason for this company to not ‘right’ itself. People love this brand much more than they hate it. That’s a good enough brand sentiment to raise the company’s Price/Sales back up to 1:1 from today’s 0.49:1. To me, the share price of CROX is much too low when taken within the context of an industry average Price/Sales of 1.67!
Remember, too, CROX used to be a $70 share price, 10 years ago. If progress is made at the company, more traders will no doubt see the potential I see in the company.
George Putnam of The Turnaround Letter likes CROX, too, stating in his analysis of CROX, “They [Crocs] are starting to get traction” from the new management team. Who’s George Putman? Since 1986, Putnam’s picks have averaged 11.4% gains per year! So, I’m in pretty good company on this pick.
Oh, and one last point. Ten institutional investors jumped on the stock during Q3, a quarter when the stock was trading at between $8 and $12 per share. Well, yours truly is in CROX at $7.07.
CROX traded strongly higher this week by $0.18 to close at $7.16 per share on very low volume. CROX ‘did me good’ this week, for sure.
The 52-week moving average calculates to $8.97 per share, and is descending. So, there’s still much room for the stock to move higher before encountering technical resistance.
The next ‘magnet’ price for CROX is $8.00. Shares held short reached 7.34% of float and 5.79 days to cover.
CROX closed at $7.22 per share, up $0.01 for the week, on relatively light volume. There was no news from the company, but there was a slightly interesting issue regarding the potential impact on Croc’s earnings, if President Trump manages to slap a 20% import tax on goods made in Mexico.
According to analysts, approximately 5% of Croc’s manufacturing is performed in Mexico. The impact to earning is estimated at $0.05 per share. Eh. A successful turnaround eclipses this news by a country mile, but nevertheless the point about the potential impact on Croc’s earnings due to its Mexican manufacturing operations is of interest anyway.
There was no change in the short position in CROX.
CROX dropped sharply this week by $0.45 to close Friday’s trade at $6.77 per share. After trading above its 50-day moving average on Wednesday for the first time since late November, strong selling came in on Thursday and Friday. I suspect traders aren’t ready to crash through the 50-day moving average to the upside until more evidence of a successful turnaround is in store for investors.
ABOUT CROCS, INC. (CROX)
Crocs, Inc., together with its subsidiaries, designs, develops, manufactures, markets, and distributes casual lifestyle footwear and accessories for men, women, and children worldwide. It offers various footwear products, including clogs, sandals, wedges, flats, sneakers, and boots. The company’s primary trademarks include the Crocs logo and the Crocs word mark. It sells its products in approximately 65 countries through domestic and international retailers and distributors, as well as directly to end-user consumers through company-operated retail stores, outlets, Webstores, and kiosks. As of December 31, 2015, Crocs, Inc. operated 275 retail stores; 98 kiosks and store-in-stores; 186 outlet stores; and 12 company-operated e-commerce Web stores. The company was founded in 1999 and is headquartered in Niwot, Colorado.
GROUPON, INC. (GRPN)
Initial Report: 01/16/2017
On Friday I alerted a purchase I made of 10,000 shares of GRPN at $3.54 per share. I really suspect that GRPN is running on, both a rumor circulating that Alibaba (BABA) is sniffing around the company with the idea of buy it, and the January Effect.
Who knows, maybe Alibaba will be the focus of a bunch of rumored takeovers this year. Alibaba was rumored to buy Twitter (TWTR), too. Remember?
But Alibaba’s 5.6% stake in GRPN is not a rumor, so Alibaba may in fact be shopping.
So far, GRPN’s 7.8% move higher this year is impressive, and probably has something to do with tax sellers in December picking the stock back up for a speculative play in 2017. But GRPN did get a nice shot in the arm to as high as $3.80 on the Alibaba rumor; so, I’m holding onto this potentially hot stock.
Okay, here’s the ‘skinny’ on GRPN. I believe that the rumor of Alibaba buying Groupon isn’t far-fetched at all. A takeover actually makes sense for Alibaba in a strategical sense, in that it’s well-known that Alibaba seeks to expand globally. And why not enter the largest economy of the world? The US.
Groupon’s US Q3 billings rose strongly by 6%, y-o-y, while the rest of the company’s business overseas stank to high heavens, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing for Alibaba. Alibaba may only be interested in the US market, anyway.
Look at it this way: Alibaba is looking at Groupon’s Price/Book of 0.66. And it appears that Groupon is truly turning around. The company’s earnings have been better than expected since Q3 of 2015, and in Q3 of 2016, 1.2 million net new customers were added to the company’s customer base. With approximately 30 million customers on Groupon’s books, Alibaba may be mighty tempted to buy this customer book on the cheap.
And finally, on a somewhat humorous note, Chairman of Alibaba, Jack Ma, met with president-elect Donald Trump on Tuesday. I can just imagine how that meeting went, as I can envision Ma asking permission of Trump to come into the US and buy an American company. As long as no one heard Trump bellow, “Okay, get ’em outta here,” I think we’ll be hearing more from Ma in 2017.
At the close on Friday, GRPN settled at $3.45 per share, down $0.13 for the week. There was no company-specific news this week. However, there’s an interesting article published on January 16 about Groupon, entitled, ‘Assessing Groupon’s Value to Alibaba’. It’s a good read.
In addition, the management buyback program established at Groupon may help buoy the share price from current levels. And take note of GRPN’s large short position of 10.87% of the company’s float.
GRPN traded flat this week to close at $3.45 per share on relatively light volume. The large short position of 10.87% of float was unchanged this week.
On Monday, Groupon settled legal action taken against the company regarding financial derivative issues. According to the company, the financial impact from this settlement will be negligible to earnings.
The company also announced its Q4 and full fiscal 2016 earnings report card will be released on Wednesday, February 15. I’ll be anxious to see how many more new customers the company added, and whether another surprise earning release is in store for me. Q3 2015 and Q3 2016 surprises to the upside in earnings and stock price may be a nice bonus to my bet of progress made in the company’s turnaround efforts.
GRPN close up $0.05 to settle at $4.50 per share. Short interest settled to 11.66% of the float, with 3.49 to cover.
There was no company-specific news to report this week.
ABOUT GROUPON, INC. (GRPN)
Groupon, Inc. operates online local commerce marketplaces that connect merchants to consumers by offering goods and services at a discount in North America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and internationally. It also provides deals on products for which it acts as the merchant of record. The company offers deals in various categories, including food and drink, events and activities, beauty and spa, health and fitness, home and garden, and automotive; and deals on various product lines, such as electronics, sporting goods, jewelry, toys, household items, and apparel, as well as provides discounted and market rates for hotel, airfare, and package deals. It offers its deal offerings to customers through Websites; search engines; and mobile applications and mobile browsers, which enable consumers to browse, purchase, manage, and redeem deals on their mobile devices, as well as sends emails to its subscribers with deal offerings that are targeted by location and personal preferences. The company was formerly known as ThePoint.com, Inc. and changed its name to Groupon, Inc. in October 2008. The company was founded in 2008 and is headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. Groupon, Inc. is a subsidiary of The Point, LLC.
The company has been in a turnaround phase following revelations in May 2016 that Lending Club CEO, Renaud Leplanche, had sold $22 million of loans to an investment bank, Jefferies, that did not match the client’s requirements, i.e., fraud. On May 16, the U.S. Department of Justice served a subpoena for records involving the company’s deal with Jefferies.
As a result, LC had lost nearly 57% of market capitalization from the scandal, but has since recovered much of the initial drop, rallying 67% from the May 17 low of $3.44.
But this ‘turnaround’ stock may be just beginning.
The company has regained confidence among its credit suppliers in the banking industry as a result of LendingClub improved internal controls, a new CEO, and continued leadership in this new industry segment.
But, of course, competitive forces have entered the mix for LendingClub. As peer-to-peer gains traction in the Internet lending space, many of the company’s competitors will most likely drop off from the race in this new and exciting form of lending. LendingClub, however, shines in this environment, as the company’s brand seeks to consolidate business left behind by fallen competitors.
The trade focuses upon, specifically, the upcoming company’s Q4 earnings report, scheduled for February 14. If past price action of stock may be used as my guide, I expect a pop in the stock leading up to earnings, and possibly more pops after the release on February 14. Here’s how LC moved following the last two earnings reports.
On August 8, 2016, LendingClub beat Wall Street estimates for Q2 2016 with a $0.05 per share net profit. Estimates ranged from a profit of $0.04 per share to a loss of $0.11. Traders reacted by taking LC to as high as $5.91 within five trading days from the low of $4.30 at the release, a 37.4% potential gain from a long position just prior to the report.
On November 8, 2016, Wall Street estimated LendingClub’s Q3 earnings per share would fall within a range of a loss of $0.04 per share and a loss of $0.08. LendingClub reported a loss of $0.09 per share.
However, better news was issued with the report, that included National Bank of Canada opening credit lines with LeadingClub worth $1.3 billion. As a result, the stock soared, moving up as high as $6.56 from the low of $5.30 prior to the earning report for a potential return of as high as 23.7% within five trading days.
I expect similar reactions by traders as we approach February 14. And now that LC has convincingly broken through its 50-day moving average (MA) to the bull side—and has had its 50-day MA this week make a bullish cross with the 200-day MA—the momentum in the stock has been to move higher, with the path of least resistance pointing to a possible test of the $6.58 high of September 19.
LC kicked higher by $0.39 (+6.78%) to close at $6.14 per share. It appears the move in LC coincided by a big move in bank stocks this week. The KBW Bank Index (BKX) rose sharply by 2.61% this week, taking LC with it, especially on Monday, when both securities rose sharply.
Other than that activity, no company-specific news was released about LendingClub.
I should also note LC’s large short position of 13.8% of the stock’s float. Earning are due next month, and what a nice short squeeze could come out of a good earnings report.
LC closed up $0.20 this week to settle at $6.34 per share. Short interest reached 14.89% of float (up from 13.8%), with 6.58 days to cover.
ABOUT LENDINGCLUB (LC)
LendingClub Corporation, together with its subsidiaries, operates as an online marketplace that connects borrowers and investors in the United States. Its marketplace facilitates various types of loan products for consumers and small businesses, including unsecured personal loans, super prime consumer loans, unsecured education and patient finance loans, and unsecured small business loans. The company also offers investors an opportunity to invest in a range of loans based on term and credit characteristics. It serves investors, such as retail investors, high-net-worth individuals and family offices, banks and finance companies, insurance companies, hedge funds, foundations, pension plans, and university endowments. LendingClub Corporation was founded in 2006 and is headquartered in San Francisco, California.
Until next time…
Trade Wise and Green!