Thursday Tidbits, February 23, 2012, Prescott, Arizona, USA
We made it back to our desk on Wednesday afternoon; after a long (expensive) cab ride from the Time Square Marriott Marquis (MAR) to Newark's Liberty Airport, a five-hour flight to Phoenix, and a two-hour shuttle up-the-hill to Prescott, we got home to a foot-high stack of snail mail. After having been gone for over two-weeks, other than the a bigger stack of bills, it seems that nothing has changed. The pretty-blonde-better-half was at her new in-town men's clothing store, the heir-to-the-mortgage was out on the golf course, and the dogs were sleeping in "dad's chair" in the master bedroom. We were actually lucky we were able to get into our Prescott home, thankfully the extra front door key was in it's secret hiding place, and the interior bolt wasn't set. It was also a good thing we remembered the security code, so as not to set off the blasting alarm and alert some rental-police.
So, nothing-much has changed on the homefront, and the markets have also stayed relatively steady, with the SPUs (/ESH2) moving from 1330 (2/8) to today's almost 1360, gold has also continued on it's strong path higher - going from 1735 to it's current 1784. We waved farewell to a couple of underlyings with the February expiry, and have surprisingly already covered some short March puts for a nickel. Apple (AAPL*) looks to open higher, but what else is new? Vivus (VVUS) looks to open up about 100% - so we are hope you are long the drug maker who got an FDA greenlight on their anti-obesity drug. The list of earnings being reported today is a long one, but most of the "biggies" have already announced, and the SPUs are actually looking more-or-less flat.
It was great seeing all of our friends at both the Orlando Money Show and the Trader's Expo in New York. The shows were extremely busy, with the TD Ameritrade (AMTD*) booth, as always, being the busiest in the exhibit hall. Our fancy dinners out with the team were at ridiculously crowded restaurants, and in spite of their mostly over-priced menus, the lines and the waits (despite reservations) were long. The only way to eat in any respectable time-frame at Junior's Deli in New York was to either wait for a spot to open at the counter or work your way back to their to-go counter at the back of the restaurant. A room service salad and sandwich, at both sites, carried mandatory 12% -14% additional charges for delivery or whatever, and added up to almost $50. And did we mention the room rates? Both hotels charged about $250 a night for the typical non-upgraded room, but with the various other fees and add-ons, the nightly rate touched 300 bucks. Exactly where do the room tax, city tax, and Osceola County Assessment fees go anyway?
Most of the folks we spoke to at the shows were very happy with the higher markets and impressed with the cool new stuff on the ever-changing thinkorswim from Ameritrade platform. A few further improvements were brought to light for both the software and the new web-based Trade Architect package. There is now a nice break (thank God!) until the Las Vegas show in May and June show in Dallas, but the next few months will certainly fly-by, as the markets determine where they will head leading into this spring and summer. It is anyone's guess as to when any kind of correction comes, but from these elevated heights, and in spite of all of the above mentioned high prices/corporate success stories, there will have to be some retracement before the seasons change. But don't bet the ranch!
“Writers really live in the mind and in hotels of the soul.” -- Edna O'Brien
(* = FHW position)