Broadly speaking, risk assets were not as dismal as equity markets today - holding on near the highs for much of the day. The late day surge higher in AAPL - that dragged everything higher - was a recoupling to risk-assets on the day as volume surged and average trade size picked up significantly. AAPL ended up at the record-high day's closing VWAP (around $672) perhaps suggesting some algo-driven liftathon to enable the bigger boys to exit the heavily-weighted-in-the-index name - and right in front of Bernanke's big day tomorrow, it seems odd - other than short-covering squeezes - to be positioning this heavily long. HYG once again soared (playing catch-up to HY credit spreads), VXX tumbled into the close as VIX dropped following the ESM decision (though was not as ebullient as stocks ahead of tomorrow's NFP). Treasuries just kept leaking higher in yield (now 5 to 30Y yields higher by 5-10bps on the weeks) - and crushing the spread to MBS. The USD was stable most of the day after early weakness, on EUR strength after the ESM decision, was unwound. A bump-and-dump in commodities ended generally unchanged aside from Silver which had its own mysterious flash-crash soon after the US day session close. Credit tracked stock generally on the day and was quiet. S&P futures take out (after-hours) the highs of the day/year/four-years (as contracts rolled). Need Moar QE.
Two weeks ago we reported that as the market's fascination with the "get poor quick" schemes known as 3x levered ETFs fades away, the time for the next logical step, the death of levered ETFs, has arrived when Direxion announced that it is closing 9 3x levered ETFs, among which the Direxion Daily Healthcare Bear 3X Shares (SICK) and Direxion Daily Agribusiness Bear 3X Shares (COWS). For those curious why everyone should be delighted that such uberlevered, gambling-enabling abortions as SICK COWS should always get the axe, here is a visual explanation from Nanex.
At last check, one of the final remnants of the second coming of the dot com bubble was trading down 15% after hours following its Q2 earnings report which while beating on the bottom line at $0.08/share (including a one time $0.04 gain) on expectations of $0.03, missed the top line forecast of $575 MM, instead reporting $568.3 MM in revenues. Also spooking the market is the company's Q3 revenue forecast of $580MM - $620MM vs estimates of $607.4 MM. Company also adds that "income from operations for the third quarter 2012 is expected to be between $15 million and $35 million, compared with a loss from operations of $0.2 million in the third quarter 2011." Considering the market cap is just shy of $5 billion one may be excused to ask just how the company will grow its net income to anything remotely resembling a rational valuation, even when taking that company's $1.2 billion cash, all of its as a result of fundraising. Finally, what would a GRPN release be without the now traditional recasting, adjusting, and otherwise proformaing of some historical core line times. Sure enough: "The second quarter 2012 marked the first time that direct revenue was material to the Company’s consolidated performance. As a result, beginning in the second quarter 2012, third party and other and direct revenue are presented separately. Third party revenue is related to the sales for which the company acts as an agent for the merchant. This revenue is recorded on a net basis. Direct revenue is related to the sale of products for which the Company is the merchant of record. These revenues are accounted for on a gross basis, with the cost of inventory recorded in cost of revenue." Uh... Ok. Have fun with that..
Since closing last night, the stock of Knight Capital has moved by nearly 100%, touching on under $2 in the after hours session, and now trading well over $3. The catalyst: a report by the WSJ that the firm has obtained a line of credit. Is this surprising? Not at all, and in fact is standard operating procedure by any firm which is buying hours of life in exchange for usurious lending costs. The lender is most likely a firm which will be a key participant in the forthcoming 363 asset sale, who has obtained a supersecured lien on all the firm's assets, and is also priming all of the other creditors of Knight. The question is whether the lender will be happy with what they find as a result of this 24 hour life line. If not - they simply pull the line of cash and the firm files. Think of it as an advance glance into Knight's books. And that glance will likely not reveal much. With rumors that even JPM has now ended lines with Knight, the New Jersey market maker is simply a closed box: no trades coming in or out, and only has housekeeping cash outflows on its books to keep its employees employed and systems running. We wish them luck. They will need it. None of this would have happened if, as we hoped 3 years ago, proactive steps had been taken to eliminate the threat of HFT.
After a brief spike higher (just to flush all those stops) in front of Draghi's 'dis-believe' press conference this morning, markets plunged. Some wanted more but algos tickled us up to VWAP into the close once again though we note that once there - volume and average trade size surged, allowing those bigger momo players a better exit than mere mortals. Equities and broad risk assets stayed in very close sync all day with cross asset class correlation surging systemically, VIX rose and fell on the day ending down 1.4 vols at 17.5% (after touching 19.25% after the European close) - but notably VIX is now more back in line with equity/credit implied values. The USD ends today up 0.8% on the week, and implicitly commodities tumbled (copper and oil down 3-3.5% on the week and gold/silver -2%). Treasury yields bounced higher as stocks nibbled back to VWAP into the close but ended down 2-4bps (long-end outperforming). All in all - no capitulation, but a broad based derisking that seemed to benefit from some pre-positioning in protection (and help from the VWAP algos twice). Wil tomorrow's NFP be good enough to be bad or bad enough to be good (high volume and low average trade size suggests few want to position for it too aggressively).
- Bundesbank Maintains Opposition to ECB Bond Buying (WSJ)
- Greek Budget Talks Stumble as EU Urges Samaras to Deliver (Bloomberg)
- Fortified by euro, Finns take bailouts on the chin (Reuters)
- China Job Market for Graduates Shows Stress on Slowdown (Bloomberg)
- China Exports Fade as Inflation Eludes Targets: Cutting Research (Bloomberg)
- Japan Falters as Ito Calls for Euro Buys to Rein in Yen: Economy (Bloomberg)
- Government weighs social insurance reforms (China Daily)
- Colombia’s Split Central Bank to Weigh First Rate Cut Since 2010 (Bloomberg)
The endless saga of the rental and streaming company, that once had a vendetta with Whitney Tilson until the latter finally threw in the towel after he first shorted then went long Netflix only to blow up on both occasions, continues, this time by plunging 15% after hours following a cut in guidance for Q3 and announcing it will likely once again have a loss in Q4.
UPDATE: Biggest down day in Faceplant since 5/29 (down 8%) to close at $28.25 on double recent volume.
This was the narrowest day's range in S&P 500 e-mini futures (ES) in over three months and volume was dismally slow as it clung to its 50DMA amid larger than normal average trade size. Elsewhere, markets were anything but dead. Commodities dipped and ripped with WTI breaking back over $88 on Saudi news and Silver/Gold/Copper all ending around unch on the day but leaking off their highs into the close (though well off lows). For a while 'bad was good' as the retail sales print prompted QE-on-esque trades with Gold up, USD down, and Treasury yields plunging to near-record-lows. FX and commodities appeared to catch up to stock's more sanguine view of things from Friday but once there, Treasury yields reversed and rose into the afternoon as EURUSD continued to rally back well into the green (repatriation?) dragging the USD down 0.25% from Friday's close. Credit notably underperformed equities on the day (with HYG stumbling into the close). It seems everyone is waiting with baited breath for Bernanke's speech tomorrow and VIX (which is back in line with realized vol for the first time in 5 months) limped higher by around 0.4 vols to 17.1%.
UPDATE: RIMM just opened at $7.5 from its $9 after-hours close before the halt - a mere 17% drop.
For any RIMM shareholders expecting a miraculous deus ex, somewhat like Europe's broker beggars who still are choosers, to come out of left field in today's earnings reports, there was nothing but epic disappointment.
- Revenues came in at $2.81 billion on expectations of $3.1 billion, and down from $4.91 billion a year prior
- EPS were $(0.37) on expectations of just a 7 cent miss.
- The outlook is just as horrible, with RIMM announcing it expects a Q2 operating loss
- It also see lower shipment volumes, and delayed the launch of Blackberry 10 to Q1 2013
- Finally, the firm will cut 5,000 jobs
If the stock isn't moving much it is because it has been halted since pre announcement. It will reopen at 4:40pm, probably between 10 and 20% lower.
If anyone is wondering why the darling stock of Bill Ackman and Whitney Tilson, for whom every collapse of JCP is a buying gift from god, namely JCPenney, is plunging after hours, it is because the company's president, Michael Francis, hired October 4, 2011, has just quit. To wit: "J. C. Penney Company, Inc. ("jcpenney") (JCP) today announced that Michael Francis will be leaving the Company, effective today. Chief Executive Officer Ron Johnson will assume direct responsibility and oversight of the company's marketing and merchandising functions." And to think that just 9 months ago the company CEO Ron Johnson announced, that "I am thrilled to welcome Michael to our team... He is an extremely talented executive with the vision and courage to re-imagine the department store experience. His ability to innovate and deep understanding of the industry will be invaluable as we set out to transform J.C. Penney into America's favorite store." And while his ability to do anything else appears to have been a dud, his ability to read the fine print in his contract, especially where it talks about his perks, was second to none. Because despite leaving just 9 months after his hiring, Francis is entitled to collect a whopping $9 million in pro-rated signing bonus (alongside $100,000/month in salary): all in all - a tidy package of $10 million for shooting the breeze while observing a sinking retail ship. Not bad for a company whose stock has just plunged to September 2010 levels.
News & headlines from the day
... is the news (which is not news, because as we had explicitly stated early this morning, Spain admitting it needs a bailout absent a new bailout plan in place, launches the country's bond yields into hyperspace) that had it hit 30 minute ago would have sent everything red for the day:
- Spain Resisting Conditions On Bank Bailout - EU Official, BBG
But why would this news, coming at nearly 11pm Spanish tim, have to come before the market close, when all of the day's gains would have been undone. Why indeed.
First the ECB kicked the stimulus junkies in the crotch in the after hours session, now the PBOC is about to eat their faces for breakfast as both rumors causing overnight and intraday stock ramps are systematically denied. From Bloomberg: "China has no plan to introduce stimulus measures to support growth on the scale unleashed during the depths of the global credit crisis in 2008 according to the nation’s state-run Xinhua News Agency. “The Chinese government’s intention is very clear: It will not roll out another massive stimulus plan to seek high economic growth,” Xinhua said yesterday in the seventh paragraph of a Chinese-language article on economic policy, without attributing the information. “The current efforts for stabilizing growth will not repeat the old way of three years ago." And with that the rug is pulled out from below anyone praying for non-Fed stimulus.
Sometimes, when one desperately chases alpha at any cost, all one needs to see is a somewhat credible asset manager, in this case Bill Ackman's Pershing Square, invest a massive amount of cash in a given company, to decide to invest alongside. In this case the company is JCPenney, and the amount in question invested by Ackman being $1.3 billion (at last check his third biggest positions after GGP and CP). Usually this strategy, elsewhere known as herding, 13F chasing, or alphacloning, works, until it doesn't. In the case of JCPenney it just didn't, after the company just blew up in real time dropping a tape bomb, missing on the top and the bottom, cutting the forecast, and for good measure also eliminating the dividend. End result: Ackman just lost nearly $200 million after the stock imploded by nearly 15% after hours, and all those who blindly piggybacked along without doing their homework (such as Whtiney Tilson whose 4th largest cash position is JCP), went for the ride.
Just because it is never boring after hours:
- MOODY'S DOWNGRADES ITALIAN BANKS; OUTLOOKS REMAIN NEGATIVE
EURUSD sliding... even more. But that's ok: at some point tomorrow Europe will close and all shall be fixed, only to break shortly thereafter. And now.... Margin Stanley's $10 billion collateral-call inducing 3 notch downgrade is on deck.