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POMO Pump Rescues Stocks Again But Risk-Assets Fade

In the old days, it was Fed via POMO to stocks; but given the new normal, now we have levered POMO to rescue us via vol compression and yet again - today saw risk-assets sliding all night (though admittedly only around 0.5% off highs) only to be rescued by a vol-compressing equity push that started the moment POMO finished. HY credit was tinkered with in the last hour to keep things afloat and of course AAPL soared into its earnings report. The debt-ceiling vote did little to maintain risk-on as CAD weakness (BoC holding off from rate hikes) pulled the USD higher, and hurt risk-on commodities - as Oil plunged on the day. Treasury yields continued to fall - entirely ignoring stocks once again - even though stocks caught down to risk early and ended at new five-year highs on the Dow (thanks almost entirely to IBM). So low volume in stocks (AAPL decent volume), low average trade size in S&P futures, and a disconnected equity market from bonds and FX once again... eyes down for an Apple full-house...

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Netflix Beats, Guides Higher As Free Cash Flow Implodes

One look at the headline numbers, and of course the short interest of Netflix, and one can see why the stock is being squeezed by nearly 30% after hours:

  • Q4 Revenue: $945 MM, Exp. $934 MM
  • Q4 EPS of $0.13, Exp. $(0.13)
  • Q4 domestic contribution margin 18.5%, up from 16.4% in Q3 and 10.9$ in Q4 2011
  • Total domestic subscribers 27.15 MM, paying subs: 25.47 MM
    • Forecasts 28.5MM-29.2MM domestic subscribers in Q1
  • Sees Q1 Revenues of $1.004 billion to $1.031 billion
  • Domestic DVD subs dropped from 8.61 to 8.22 while generating $254MM in revenue and $128MM in profit

In fact, all is either just a little bit better or much better if one looks at the projection set... until one looks at the actual Cash generated by the Business. Behold the Free Cash Flow as reported by the company... no, not AMZN, although it may well be its small cousin.

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What The World Is Thinking Ahead Of Apple's Earnings

With minutes to go, this is what the world (according to the Google machine) is thinking ahead of Apple's earnings... and what the market expects...

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HSBC Leaving Even Ordinary Street Robbers Disappointed Now?

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AAPL - The 'Other' Great Rotation

Much was made of the first two days of this year as indicative of the great 'meme' that every sell-side rep and commission-taking asset manager has pumped investors full of - the 'great rotation' is here. Finally, rates were rising, growth was here, money on the sidelines was moving, and the supposedly 'dumb money' was rotating from bonds to stocks. However, that is not what happened now is it? 10Y yields are now practically unchanged on the year - even as stocks continue to be bid - with the major divergence beginning on January 11th. There is, however, an alternate 'great rotation' that appears just as powerful - that of covering idiosyncratic AAPL longs and rotating into systemic long equity positions (or covering AAPL-hedging short equity index positions). We suspect, given the volume shifts below, that much of the mysterious buying power in S&P 500 futures is indeed beta-hedge unwinds from massively over-exposed AAPL longs unwinding. With AAPL's earnings due tonight, perhaps this 'rotation' will be over.

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Track All The World's Billionaires In Real Time

While we know that most of the world's billionaires are currently holed up in Davos, Bloomberg has created a visual extravaganza for tracking the great and good of our fair world. The real-time billionaire tracker maps the world's richest people to their country of citizenship, industry, gender, age, and source of wealth. We assume this is the new deal target for our administration - how long before we see these headshots on the back of a set of playing cards?

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A Clinton Scorned - "What Difference Does It Make"

Hell hath no fury... After an extensive 24,500 word hearing, it would appear we are not really any closer to knowing who knew what when and why we weren't told. However, while the invisible hand of the word-cloud fairy found it useful to highlight the words 'People', 'Think', and 'Know', perhaps it was Hilary's infuriated outburst (clip below) when pressed on what happened that sums it all up in her eyes: "What Difference Does It Make?" It seems that once again 'they' know what is best for us to know and not know... But perhaps the only relevant statement in the entire theatrical presentation was the following: "we don't have assets of any significance right now on the African continent. We're only building that up," which perhaps has something to do with this...

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David Einhorn's Q4 Letter

Two days ago we presented the complete hedge fund performance for 2012, in which it was clear that David Einhorn's Greenlight had a Q4 that did not go quite as expected, primarily as a result of AAPL plunging in the quarter, and his hated GMCR soaring, leaving his fund with a 8% return for the year (and -5% for the quarter), well below the general market and some of his far more vocal hedge fund peers. Those curious just what it is that caused this underperformance, here is the complete Greenlight Q4 letter discussing not only why Einhorn is doubling down in AAPL, why he still likes Marvell, Computer Sciences and Vodafone, as well as his continuing negative outlook on Iron ore, and the Yen. He closed out positions in WLP, MCO, DIA, ITX and PBI. In summary: "At quarter end, the largest disclosed long positions in the Partnerships were Apple, Cigna, General Motors, gold and Vodafone Group. The Partnerships had an average exposure of 114% long and 70% short."

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Stocks Rise As House Kicks Debt Ceiling Can To May 19; IBM Accounts For 76 Of 73 Up Dow Jones Points

No sooner had the House got its 212 votes to pass (with 109 Democrats voting against) the debt-ceiling extension "No Budget, No Pay" bill then Silver and US equities began to rise. At the same time, WTI started to crack lower. Now it is over to Harry Reid and the promised 'smooth sailing' through the Senate. As a reminder for all those ebullient Dow watchers, IBM's gains today account for 76 Dow points - which means the remaining 29 names of the Dow are -3 points! The brief risk-on rally is already fading...priced-in? or doesn't matter?

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Webcast Of House Vote To Temporarily Suspend Debt Ceiling - UPDATE: Bill Adopted


The House is now debating the "No Budget, No Pay" Delay-and-Pray bill debt-ceiling-extension and is due to vote around 1230ET. As CSPAN notes, the deal would raise the government's current $16.4 trillion debt limit until May 19. In exchange, the House and Senate must pass a budget resolution by April 15 or place members' salaries in an escrow account until the chamber acts. The bluff-calling continues...

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Russia Accuses West Of Arming Mali "Al-Qaeda" Rebels

Define irony? Here is one, or rather two, tries. Back in the 1970s, it was none other than the US that armed the Taliban "freedom fighters" fighting against the USSR in the Soviet-Afghanistan war, only to see these same freedom fighters eventually and furiously turn against the same US that provided them with arms and money, with what ended up being very catastrophic consequences, culminating with September 11. Fast forward some 30 years and it is again the US which, under the guise of dreams and hopes of democracy and the end of a "dictatorial reign of terror", armed local insurgents in the Libyan war of "liberation" to overthrow the existing regime (and in the process liberate just a bit of Libya's oil) - the same Libya where shortly thereafter these same insurgents rose against their former sponsor, and killed the US ambassador in what has now become an epic foreign policy Snafu. But it doesn't end there as according to Russia, it is the same US weapons that were provided to these Libyan "freedom fighters" that are now being used in what is rapidly becoming a war in Mali, involving not only assorted French regiments, but extensive US flip flops and boots on the ground. "This will be a time bomb for decades ahead."

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Assistant Attorney General Admits On TV That In The US Justice Does Not Apply To The Banks

MARTIN SMITH: Is that really the job of a prosecutor, to worry about anything other than simply pursuing justice?

LANNY BREUER: Well, I think I am pursuing justice. And I think the entire responsibility of the department is to pursue justice. But in any given case, I think I and prosecutors around the country, being responsible, should speak to regulators, should speak to experts, because if I bring a case against institution A, and as a result of bringing that case, there’s some huge economic effect — if it creates a ripple effect so that suddenly, counterparties and other financial institutions or other companies that had nothing to do with this are affected badly — it’s a factor we need to know and understand.

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Why Steve Cohen Is In Davos

Those wondering if Steve Cohen is attending the most epic of "economic forum" boondoggles elsewhere known as Davos (where for some reason Derek Jeter is present and accounted for) was just to get a hot tip, or to interact with the Swiss branch of Gerson-Lehrman, the one where not every conversation is being recorded by the feds, the answer is neither. The man, whose fund as most by now have been made aware is one turned informant away from greeting the men in gray coats on its front porch at 72 Cummings Road, is in Davos to learn about... "Resilient Dynamism."

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Money Cannot Buy Growth

Since Alan Greenspan became the Fed chairman in 1987, there has been a policy consensus on the primary role and effectiveness of monetary policy in cushioning an economic downturn and kicking it back to growth. Fiscal policy, due to the political difficulties in making meaningful changes, was relegated to a minor role in economic management. Staving off crisis and reviving growth still dominate today's conversation. The prima facie evidence is that the experiment has failed. The dominant voice in policy discussions is advocating more of the same. When a medicine isn't working, it could be the wrong one or the dosage isn't sufficient. The world is trying the latter. But, if the medicine is really wrong, more and more of the same will kill the patient one day. The global economy was a debt bubble, functioning on China over-borrowing and investing and the West over-borrowing and consuming. The dynamic came to an end when the debt crises exposed debt levels in the West as too high. The last source of debt growth, the U.S. government, is coming to an end, too, as politics forces it to reduce the deficit. Trying to bring back yesterday through monetary growth will eventually bring inflation, not growth.

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Guest Post: What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Uber-bullishness is the order of the day in the markets. Last week we noted that the DJIA has climbed to a new post-2007 high. And now, the “fear index” VIX is hitting lows (as we discussed in depth last night). This implies that the market has become dangerously euphoric, and that risk is being improperly priced. The last time VIX fell to an all-time low and market-confidence hit an all-time high, it presaged a financial crisis. This time may not be so different.

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