Canada Banks

A recent Seeking Alpha post walked through TD, RY and BNS valuation and investment thesis.  I have owned RY and BMO since before 2010 and added BNS recently.  My positions are less than they were as part of portfolio-wide rebalancing in early 2018.  I use these stocks as one of my 4 pillars long dividend oriented portfolio (income growth).

The post

Strategy Tranparency – CY

I have followed Cypress Semi (CY) for some time.  Currrently, I am long $14 calls that will probably evaporate valueless.  But, CY is doing something that merits pointing out.  They are in the midst of what they are calling “Cypress 3.0” – a business transformation that was probably not all voluntary.

In a recent analyst meeting the CEO talks about the strategy and their expected results.  His remarks:

(Quote) “And obviously for a meaningful size revenue from that, it’s not going to move the needle in ’18 and ’19, but think about in the ’20 as those things get deployed as that connectivity happens, and when you have a software-as-a-service than that starts to be almost an annuity as you go through it and that will start diversifying our revenue stream while maintaining a big focus on because we need good connectivity on the silicon side in order to enjoy this seamless connection on the software, both of those together are what’s going to enable that power of cross-selling.”

I appreciate the fact that he is willing to talk long term outcomes of the strategy without too much visible anxiety of short term expectations.  Transparency of strategy outcomes in longer term timeline is refreshing.  I will keep watching and along with MRVL, CY is a top IOT narrative connectivity watch list item.

Data size, quality, machine learning and Apple

A conceptual inference struck me the other day as I was considering buying additional Apple stock for my ‘invest and almost never sell’ portfolio – there’s a 5-10 year horizon for this capital.  This go around I sold PUT on Apple stock and if it gets assigned, I will be content – there is no FOMO as i can repeat this.  But maybe in the inference path I used will be helpful for thinking about weighing investments leveraging competency in machine learning which I believe will be a major investment thesis over my target time horizon – 5-10 yrs.

Here are my assumptions wrt machine learning capabilities

  • The larger the data set available for the machine learning and correction, the more accurate the machine learning – basically the faster and better it learns and is then able to execute
  • The cleaner the data set the more efficient, effective and timely the same machine learning

If you buy those, then looking at Apple there a couple of like companies with such a broad and large data set that can be leveraged to provide better and better (i.e., demanded) user services and products, e.g., Apple, Amazon, Google, Microsoft are the most relevant.  There are others that may have large data sets but I do not think they have the same breadth and quality, e.g., Facebook, Comcast, ATT, Verizon.

Apple’s data may not be the largest, but i think it is the most controled and hence the cleanest.  Microsoft is probably the second cleanest data set but not as broad across device types, usage models and connectivity modes.  While Google and Amazon probably have the largest and most diverse data sets, neither have the same control over data quality that Apple and Microsoft have.

Based on this inference thread and my current position in Apple, I will continue to add to my position until the narrative changes or my allocation of Apple exceeds 10% of my managed portfolio.  Microsoft will be added to my target list with an upcoming deep dive on 5-10 year investment thesis and entry.

Strategy Clarity

There are two companies that I am currently invested in – I own shares in both companies, and will most likely increase holdings over the next 12 months.  Both companies met w/ analysts recently and both had very clear strategy narratives, imho.  They were explicit, easy to understand and map to my IOT product experiences.

Marvell Technology Group – MRVL

  • Here is their earnings conference call transcript 
  • Here is a recent analyst update

Adesto Technologies Corporation – IOTS

The key things that surfaced for me were the following:

  1. How their product portfolio can leverage greater BOM coverage w/ same sales calls
  2. How their sales strategy stair-steps into more complex, higher margin (takes patience)
  3. How they understand the long design times and ‘designed in’ timelines in the non-consumer IOT markets

I like both of these companies for long-term investments 5-10 years. 

Covered Calls for Income

I looked at some scenarios based on current prices as of Friday, Nov 2 to identify if there is a compelling covered call platform to derive medium risk income.  I selected 3 companies that I would consider owning for their long term prospects, but would not cry a river if the position was taken at a profit:  HBAN, CY and NOK.  Other criteria included:  a good dividend, predictable, sufficient option volume and stable pricing over the next 3-6 months (as the market goes so will these).

Here is the simple comparison

Price at analysis 14.29
Cost basis
500 @ 14.29 ($7145)
1. $14 Call Dec 21, 2018 $0.62
a. Outcome with 500 shares (5 contracts)
i. A - Calls sold but not assigned - $310 gross (4.3%)
ii. B - Calls sold and assigned - $155 gross (2.1%)
2. $15 Call Dec 21, 2018 $0.25
a. Outcome with 500 shares (5 contracts)
i. A - Calls sold but not assigned - $125 gross (1.7%)
ii. B - Calls sold and assigned - $480 gross (6.7%)
Price at analysis 13.51
Cost basis
500 @ 13.51 ($6755)
1. $14 Call Dec 21, 2018 $0.60
a. Outcome with 500 shares (5 contracts)
i. A - Calls sold but not assigned - $300 gross (4.4%)
ii. B - Calls sold and assigned - $545 gross (8.0%)
2. $15 Call Dec 21, 2018 $0.27
a. Outcome with 500 shares (5 contracts)
i. A - Calls sold but not assigned - $135 gross (1.9%)
ii. B - Calls sold and assigned - $1424 gross (21.0%)
Price at analysis $5.80
Cost basis
1000 @ 5.80 ($5800)
1. $5.00 Call Dec 21, 2018 $0.85
a. Outcome with 1000 shares (10 contracts)
i. A - Calls sold but not assigned - $850 gross (14.6%)
ii. B - Calls sold and assigned - $0 gross (0.0%)
2. $6.00 Call Dec 21, 2018 $0.17
a. Outcome with 1000 shares (5 contracts)
i. A - Calls sold but not assigned - $170 gross (2.9%)
ii. B - Calls sold and assigned - $320 gross (5.5%)

The CY purchase and $15 Call with these assumed prices appears the best idea.  This idea fits my objectives of increasing greatest cash flow in worst case scenario (i lose the position) as well as the probability of losing the position (lower w/ CY @ $15) … not a recommendation to execute this trade, but a look at how it might be done and how I came up with the idea.

Extended Hours Poaching

A recent experience and additional observations have created a very jaundiced view of a group of traders who take advantage of less experienced folks.  They are poachers with all the negative connotations of that term.  Let me explain with an example

I had a short position in RUTH.  I stupidly placed a stop lost / limit order to protect my capital from a price increase above my limits.  I absent-mindedly left that stop loss order open over night … it was snapped up first thing when market opened at about $0.25 above the next trade.  I looked at RUTH trading history and there are several of these very odd very early trades way above the market … Poachers taking advantage of stupid people like me.

Not to self:  Never leave stop loss orders open overnight and especially in thinly traded stocks like RUTH.

Trading Tides Have Turned

After a very difficult trading month so far in October and a couple of interesting SA posts (Jeff Miller’s weekly trading post) and a new author for me posted I have finally figured out a way to describe the change:  the tides have turned and the winds have shifted.  Mary Poppins like …

Previously, the trading tides were pushing upward so trades were easily identified with consolidation at support points and falls from strong resistance.  The winds were blowing upward so lower values on dips made sense … and consolidation support points held – they were the floor. 

It seems that the tides have turned now after watching support levels break down consistently … the dips are now hard to stop (supports are like false bottoms).  The trading tactic now looks to be waiting for consolidation bottoms and upward lifts with volume and strength through weak resistance points.   This may reduce potential gains on the upside (longs) … shorts are also complicated as there are no support levels below (what can i logically expect for exit and profit)?

While I fully admit that i am not an expert technician and use fundamental DCF valuations as the filter for my trades, for me at least, the tides have turned.

Money flows from oil

A provoking post on Seeking Alpha this morning that prompted deep thinking on the money flows from the large changes in oil prices over the last 5 years.  The basic gist which totally makes sense is that the oil profits are not as important as the consumers’ total cost for oil.  The lower their costs, the more they spend elsewhere in the economy.  The inference then is that higher oil prices are totally deflationary – they reduce broader consumer purchasing … it doesn’t really matter if the oil profits end up in US, Canada, Russia or Arabian Peninsula.

It’s Oil Stupid

An End to US$ as Global Currency?

I have been talking about this for several months, maybe even a year or so, but not to the technical depth that these two people are this past week.  I think this is worth considering and baking into your long-term risk management variables.   My pontifications have been more cultural evolution derived but these guys are helping me understand the investment implications.  

JP Morgan analyst is quoted within the below

Heisenberg on Seeking Alpha

2nd Qtr GDP

GDP ‘3rd’ estimate was released this morning.  One paragraph i found most interesting:  “The acceleration in real GDP growth in the second quarter reflected accelerations in PCE, exports, federal government spending, and state and local government spending, as well as a smaller decrease in residential fixed investment. These movements were partly offset by a downturn in private inventory investment and a deceleration in nonresidential fixed investment. Imports decreased after increasing in the first quarter.”

I bolded the points i focused on.  Government spending was a key catalyst in the figures – debt spending in great degree (?)

Full report is here:

Declining Bank Assets

This post by a followed article is a good read, and rather than comment on the details (you can read it) … i’ll ask some questions

Eric Basmajian on SA today


  • Is college debt for ages 25-35 having an impact on additional debt assumption?
  • What is the driver behind the decline – Banks unwillingness to lend, or debtors unable to take on more (other than credit cards)?

This was an interesting look an another indicator that suggests the economic growth continues to deaccelerate.

3 must reads for the week

Rather than comment on different articles this Sunday, i will point them out and make a point

i do not think there’s a needed order to read – but read the comments

Point – risks continue to grow globally across mutliple asset types.  there are short term plays but they contain complex variables and winning hands are beyond average investors (myself included).  i am comfortable with my recent moves taking more and more capital out of equities and placing in short-term treasuries (<6 months).  Might i miss out another 5% of S&P upward melt?  sure … but as somebody posted last week (can’t remember who):  i want a return OF my capital, not just a return ON my capital.

Reminder:  i’m semi-retired with short runway to acquire additional capital

How daily news distorts

I woke up early this morning and reviewed overnight market results and became momentarily optimistic … maybe all this trade tension has released, and we can go back to normal investing / trading.

Alas … that’s how daily news distorts things and invites us to relase our well thought out strategies.  I am often reminded of something smart people taught me long ago:  a single or couple of data points do not make a trend.  Plans and strategies are based on a set of clues (trends) not single data points.

Here is the key single data point that i found burried in daily update:  “China’s Shanghai Composite climbed to a 2-week high on signs that state-sponsored funds entered the market and bought blue chip stocks.”  – that diffused some of my news based optimism earlier.

My bearish move money to Treasuries and wait for better value entry points (in US and Asia) remains intact.

Here’s another post on the topic of government intervention

SA Author (Thomas) Points to Bain & Co Post

In the not too distant past, I worked on a large corporate project w/ Bain & Co, so a SA post from Brad Thomas (Mr. REIT) caught my attention.  Knowing Bain’s basic methodology is not necessary to undertstand this article

Segment profit pools and differentiation are the critical elements here from an investment analysis perspective.  I will be using this in my portfolio 2.0 (or 2025 Portfolio) exercise targeting first on two segments:  Global telecom (Canada and India) and IOT low-power connectivity solutions.  These are both foundational elements in my 2025 Portfolio. 

A subsequent post in October will build out the other elements in 2025 Portfolio, and how that construct will be used.

Late Cycle Stimulus – SA commentary

I’m back after vacation …

One of my favorite SA authors posted a great summary of Jeff Gundlach’s recent webcast, and it is definitely a good read.  there was one point that i think is critical for non-investors (or investors who know and care about others)


“Meanwhile, the threat that tariffs will eventually push up consumer prices in the U.S. only adds to the case for preemptive rate hikes. Goldman’s Jan Hatizius released a note this week that carried the title: “More growth, more tariffs, more hikes”. Whether or not the Fed will reach the end of the road in terms of their capacity to raise rates sometime in 2019 is the subject of vociferous debate and I won’t broach that subject here. For our purposes, the point is simply that piling stimulus atop a late-cycle dynamic forces the Fed into hawkishness.

That’s dangerous because it has the potential to create a false sense of confidence among, for instance, small-business owners, who may not appreciate the finer points of what’s going on. On Tuesday, the NFIB said small-business confidence (as measured by their optimism index) hit the highest level in its 45-year history in August.”