Large Cap Tech LEAPS on August 31

The following is a list of the current base prices of AAPL, GOOG, MSFT and a few others for comparison including a possibly interesting play with HPQ as well followed by various January 2014 calls.

The mathematical dissection of which options have the best value compared to expected volatility I don’t think gives much of an incremental advantage in selection.  I’ve chosen for example 100 point increments in the strike prices of similarly priced GOOG and AAPL which demonstrates a bit more expected volatility in Apple than Google.

Apple, Google and Microsoft are in the very unusual situation of having immensely strong technological positions and insane amounts of cash.  Hewlett Packard anyone else with a scent of exposure to the PC market (DELL obviously) is also trading at historically low P/E ratios.  It is hard to imagine situations outside the more dire macroeconomic scenarios where both of these companies emerge as big losers (though a re-elected Obama administration that steps up taxation and doesn’t enable a repatriation of foreign cash holdings is sufficiently dire for them to wildly appreciate.)  The asymetric upside is good growth and increasing P/Es could lead to one or both doubling.

Of the three I would feel most comfortable with GOOG as a buy-and-forget play now which is of course an option.  Their market lock in feels strongest with the most innovative (most productive?  We’ll see) R&D and promising new fields to come.

One another play would simply be to get NASDAQ 100 calls.  The grossly undervalued large caps included the above named as well as CSCO and QCOM add up to approximately 50% of the index, though you get BIDU and WYNN and other plays that are not as salient to the thesis: do you feel lonely in the QQQ, Kraft Foods?   There are a number of companies in the index such as Amazon (3.5% of the index and IMHO grossly overvalued) The QQQ closed at 68.16 today; this idea train has already left the station this year but probably plenty of track ahead:

Chart for PowerShares QQQ (QQQ)

This looks a touch ahead of itself going into a volatile September; still, QQQ Jan 14 LEAPS now:

70 – 5.92

80 – 2.29

90 – 0.63

100 – 0.13

This strategy would have fallen short in companies like Microsoft and Oracle and others in the lost decade of stocks 2002-2012 but as the economy generally picks up and if Europe were to return from the brink would pay off big.  For my current positions short S&P if there is a steep downturn in September I would pull the trigger on a strategy such as this.

Position Update August 30

Well as feared the Russians were coming, and wiped out my short grain position.  A pretty bad loss whose saving virtue was sticking to stop loss plan and indeed getting short the S&P at 1406 which I’m ahead on, and even going long — though a smaller number of contracts of soybeans at 1733 which is now up a solid 1%.

I added this morning to it at 1746 which knock wood appears to be the low of the morning and moved up a stop to 1736.xx.  This is an awfully tight stop but the soybean supply/demand situation is not as bearish as with wheat or even corn with murmurs of $25 soybeans.   They look really good right now, and the thesis is after all is to trade into breakouts and let it ride:

I have also added a small position in Live Cattle at 125.575.  Here is the six month chart.  Barron’s wrote about Live Cattle in late January and I’ve kept my eye on it since, with another brief small trade earlier, and appears to be poised for a robust technical formation (similar to Cotton right now at 77 which I may nibble in as well)

I feel comfortable even if just slightly ahead on soybeans & S&P but is this an internal trading signal that there is little consternation or just a false hope generated from relief after the surge in wheat and soybeans that knocked me for a loop?

On the stock side, large cap tech and ZNGA under 3 among others still looks insanely cheap but I am waiting for a downswing or the S&P at least to head back to 141x before putting on a position like that.

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