Why You Never Say Never In The Stock Market

Robert Downey Jr.

Investing may be your passion, but the process — the analytical process you need to find winners — should never fall prey to the trap of sentimentality, or worse yet, nostalgia.

This is where investing and art part ways.

As Americans we love our art, which in this modern world really means television.  With six-hundred channels to choose from we stalk our content with a retardedly keen eye, curating out that which resonates deepest in our soul, and throwing the rest away as if the chaff of the craft.

We binge watch our favorite shows, infusing an immediate and intense relationship with our favorite characters.  We love them — often more so than the material figures in our lives — exulting in their triumphs and despairing with their failures.  It is a part of our human condition, which forgets the line between art and reality.

Not so long ago I found myself in the restroom of an office building, standing in front of a waterless urinal which had recently been installed.  I turned to the right and remarked to my colleague standing next to me;

“Do they really expect these things to catch on?  The smell is awful.”

“Well they are supposed to cut down on water use.  It’s all a part of a drive to make the building more green,” he said.

“It sounds like they want to make it more yellow,” I replied, my Shakespearian wit going into overdrive.

“They’ll never go for it,” came the reply from my left.

“Who?” I said, turning to face the author of these comments

“The unions.  They will never go for it.  These waterless urinals mean no plumbing.  No plumbing, no work for the plumber’s union.  They will never go for it.”

The author of these comments was a forty-something man, who despite his scraggly beard, unkempt hair, and baseball cap pulled low across his brow, could not hide a somewhat boyish face.  There was a familiarity in his eyes that I could not immediately place.

“Right,” I said.  “The unions. They will never let them get away with this.”

“Besides,” he continued.  “They make the place smell like piss.”

We all laughed and small talk was exchanged as we washed our hands and made our way out into the hall.  Turning away from the stranger, I looked at my colleague and almost immediately, as he said, “Do you know who that was?” realized in fact who I had been talking to just a moment earlier about urinal politics.

“Luke Perry,” I said.

“Luke Perry,” he replied.

Imagine a time before the internet, before social media, and before six hundred channels of cable pumped content into our homes 24/7/365.  A time known as 1990, when there were only three and a half real television networks, and if you were on one of them with a hit show, you were a true superstar.

And Luke Perry was a superstar.  Playing the role of the ever brooding Dillon on the seminal show “Beverly Hills 90210,” he reached a level of fame that you could only imagine today if Robert Patterson and Justin Bieber were mutated in some horrible industrial accident into the cutest vampire pop star that ever lived.  It’s too dreamy to even imagine.

He was white-hot.  Every girl wanted to sleep with him and every boy wanted to be him.  But when his show ended, effectively so did his career.  Now he is the answer to a Trivial Pursuit question.   A Twitter punchline at best.

This is where art and investing reconnect.  Stars, once fallen, traditionally never rise again.  And stocks, particularly momentum stocks, once broken, do not return to their glory days.

The overwhelming exception to this rule seems to be $NFLX.  A stock which rose 600% in a little over two years and then lost 83% of it’s value in the following year.  This stock should, like Luke Perry’s career, be dead and buried.

History is full of momentum darlings that crashed and burned and have never recovered.  $CSCO, $BRCM, $BBRY, and $POT immediately come to mind.  That is the way it has always been.  Like a financial law.  So has it been written, so shall it be done.

But this bull market is changing the rules.  Stocks like $NFLX are not only resurrecting themselves, but surpassing their previous glory.  Look around.

$QCOM, a 90′s internet bubble casualty is getting dangerously near its all-time highs.  $TASR, a one-time momentum favorite in the early 2000′s is about 33% off its all-time high.  Doesn’t sound too impressive until you realize that from its peak at one point it had lost 99.992% of it’s value.

This market is so powerful that it has done the near impossible.  It has turned “Luke Perry” stocks into “Robert Downey Jr.” stocks.

I don’t know if this is a good sign or bad sign for the future prospects of this market, but it is sure more interesting to talk about than waterless urinals.

Brilliant stuff like this rains down like..well, rain, on my stream during the week. If you want to get wet, follow me on Twitter and StockTwits. You can also pick up my book Trading – The Best of the Best: Top Trading Tips For Our Times by clicking here.

Tweetlights Of The Week

Brilliant stuff like this rains down like..well, rain, on my stream during the week. If you want to get wet, follow me on Twitter and StockTwits. You can also pick up my book Trading – The Best of the Best: Top Trading Tips For Our Times by clicking here.

There Is Nothing You Can Learn From George Soros

Geroge Soros Market Wizard

Earlier this week the Irish Times ran a piece celebrating the 84th birthday of one of the most successful — and arguably, most well-known — investors of the last century, George Soros.  (Hat-tip to my friend Josh Brown).

Soros’ prowess in the markets is legendary, so much so that deconstructing his process in order to learn the secret to his success has become a cottage industry in financial circles.  In the world of  “Market Wizards,” Soros is Saruman.  Tolkien baby…look it up.

However, in the Times’ article, his son Robert demystified the source of the Elder Soros’ alchemy in such a simple and definitive way that it may drive market historians to acts of self-immolation.

Apparently It all comes down to a pain.  In the back to be specific.

According to his son, Robert, Soros’s trading was always influenced by more than reflexivity. “My father will sit down and give you theories to explain why he does this or that”, he once said, “but I remember seeing it as a kid and thinking, ‘Jesus Christ, at least half of this is bullshit’.

“I mean, you know [that] the reason he changes his position on the market or whatever is because his back starts killing him. It has nothing to do with reason. He literally goes into a spasm and it’s this early warning sign.”

Soros has admitted to relying greatly on “animal instincts”, saying the onset of acute pain was often “a signal that there was something wrong in my portfolio”.

His decisions, then, “are really made using a combination of theory and instinct”.

That’s right.  Though you and I did our damnedest to read between the lines and glean some sort of insight from The Alchemy of Finance in the 80′s and again with Soros on Soros in the 90′s, it was all for naught.  Now we know the true source of this modern-day Tim The Enchanter’s genius.  Monty Python baby…..look it up.

This revelation might tempt some of you to adopt the same market style as Mr. Soros, a view I wholeheartedly endorse, as long as the profile fits.  It’s easy to see if a spasm based methodology is right for you by answering a few simple questions.

  1. Are you a passionate student of the market?
  2. Are you open to considering a wide range of investment themes?
  3. Have you ever booked a $1 billion dollar single-day profit by breaking a sovereign bank?
  4. Did you marry a 41-year junior third wife on your $22 million dollar Westchester estate while Paul Tudor Jones and Julian Robertson looked on?
  5. Have you booked over $40 billion in cumulative profits?
  6. Do you have a full head of hair well into your eighth decade on this planet?

If you answered “Yes” to 5 out of 6 of those questions, then by all means, adopt the “discomfort” approach to your investments.  Let your back pain, your trick knee, or even your throbbing headache from the 13 Jack and Cokes you threw back at the bar last night be the guide to your entries and exits.

For the rest of us who move in more mortal circles we will try to use objective, data driven, risk averse methods to move our thousands, and if lucky, millions, in and out of the market.  We’ll try not to let our fear nor our greed drive our decision-making process, and ascribe that pain in our back simply to less than optimal ergonomic choices in our office furniture.

Brilliant stuff like this rains down like..well, rain, on my stream during the week. If you want to get wet, follow me on Twitter and StockTwits. You can also pick up my book Trading – The Best of the Best: Top Trading Tips For Our Times by clicking here.

What if everything your parents taught you were salty snack filled lies?

Bugles-50years-1You ever get the sense that your parents lied to you?  Not trivial lies about the Tooth Fairy or Santa Claus.  Serious lies.  Ones that have the potential to effect your health and well-being, as well as that of your children.

I get that sense every third Monday when I enter St. Columbine’s gymnasium cum bingo parlor.  My presence there is part of the price I pay for sending my kids to private school — mandatory volunteering for parents.

It’s not so bad.  The people who run it are the salt of the Earth and the elderly players who show up each week are charming in their own way.  But they are fucking liars.

Once they get behind the gymnasium doors they repudiate everything they taught their children while growing up.  I watch in horror each week as bag upon bag of dirty, salty, and often flaming hot lies spill forth from their backpacks and macrame’ shoulder sacks.

I was told growing up that junk food was bad for me.  That if I ate too much of it, my teeth would fall out. That I would get morbidly fat.  And at some point, my arterial veins would be so blocked up with plaque that my heart would explode out of my chest, knocking anyone in its path into unconsciousness.

Yet these folks, these bingo loving Baby Boomers, from the same generation as my parents, from start to finish, shove some of the most heinous crap down their gullets without even blinking an eye.  I’m talking the hard stuff.

They don’t just do Funyuns, they do Chile Limon flavored Funyuns.

Doritos?  Get the fuck outta here!  Nachos Pisco Habanero Rolled Doritos bitch!

If it ain’t Ranch Dipped, Flamin’ Hot, or Jacked, they don’t want to know about it.

In fact, even the most wholesome of snacks, Cracker Jacks, has been mutated into some perverted and “extreme” derivation.

Cracker Jacks — no, sorry, “Jack’D” with a capital “D” — now come in Cheddar BBQ, Zesty Queso, Spicy Pizzaria, and Buffalo Ranch flavors.

OH…..THE…..HUMANITY!!!  Let’s just admit it!  Al Qaeda has already won!

How many other mothers and fathers of Gen X’ers like me are meeting at bingo halls, craft fairs, and “wine tasting events” and secretly pounding down this crap?

All this stuff is bad, but the demon seed of this Snackocalypse is the one they call “Bugles.”

According to the General Mills snack blog — yes, you heard that right, the General Mills snack blog — Bugles were the first cone-shaped corn snack.  It’s origins pre-date the cell phone, personal computers, and even man’s landing on the moon.  From the blog;

Fifty years ago, Bugles was actually among a trio of new General Mills snacks that represented our entry into the snack food market. And we’ve never looked back, as our snack portfolio has since grown wider and more diverse.

Back then, Bugles’ snack siblings were Whistles – a cheddar-flavored corn product in the shape of a whistle and “taste like grilled cheese on toast, only crunchy”; and Daisy’s – a flower-shaped snack that had the flavor of “puffed popovers.”

While Whistles and Daisy’s went by the wayside within just a few years, Bugles outlasted them and many other snacks that General Mills introduced.

But as with all cutting edge innovations, technology drove the evolution of Bugles onward and upward over the ensuing years.

No longer must you be content with putting pedestrian style salted corn flavored cones on your fingertips. Now you can put Chile con Queso, Salt & Vinegar, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Sweet & Salty Caramel, and even Crazed Southwest Ranch style Bugles on your digits.  Yes, you heard me right.  Not regular Ranch, but CRAZED SOUTHWEST RANCH!  That’s crazy!

God only knows what style of Whistles and Daisies we would be enjoying right now had they survived?

It’s hard when you find out that everything you have been taught, every ounce of belief you held sacred is just a pack of lies, perpetrated upon you by those you trusted most.

Sure, my mom puts up a good front these days, stocking her pantry with low sodium Triscuits, organic gluten-free pretzels, and Popchips, but I’m no longer an extreme snack newbie.  If she suddenly starts hitting a pottery class or begins hanging out at the “senior center,” I’ll be watching.

Brilliant stuff like this rains down like..well, rain, on my stream during the week. If you want to get wet, follow me on Twitter and StockTwits. You can also pick up my book Trading – The Best of the Best: Top Trading Tips For Our Times by clicking here.

Insert Generic Robin Williams Tribute Here

Robin Williams

Robin Williams died this week.  He’s still dead.  It still sucks.  And like clockwork, the tributes poured in.

The most interesting one came from Jay Thomas.  You know Jay.  Don’t you?  Sure you do.  He played the beloved character Remo DaVinci for a season and a half on Mork & Mindy.

So basically, the sitcom equivalent of The Great Gazoo on The Flintstones.

Jay weighed in with this heartfelt quote:

“I don’t know anyone that knew Robin Williams. He kept you at bay.”

Cool. A keen insight from someone who knew Robin Williams as an intimate, a friend.  He continued;

“I don’t think I would have known Robin any better if we’d been pals for 30 years, than I did in the 3 years I spent with him.”

Wha…wha…what???

So Jay hasn’t seen Robin Williams for 30 years and yet he feels compelled to weigh in, not on only his death, but his ability to form lasting relationships.

Let’s do the math.  You don’t think anyone can really know Robin Williams Jay, but you haven’t known him for 30 years?

Here’s some more math.  The closer a friend was to Robin Williams, the less they have said about his passing.

Billy Crystal:  “No Words.”

Bobcat Goldthwait: “Thank you for all your love and kindness.”

Kevin Pollak: “1991, my first one-hour HBO stand-up special and my HERO and selfless friend did me a HUGE, unforgettable solid….”

Jay, here is a tip.  Next time the press approaches you to give a quote about a recently deceased icon whom you knew in passing, three decades ago, just say, “I’m sorry, I’m not qualified to comment.”

Choo, choo….choo, choo….

Hey, what’s that sound?  Looks like the train back to obscurity is leaving.  Hop on Jay!

And if you just have to shoot your mouth off, take a cue from Dana Gould on how to do it with class;

DanaRobin

Two years ago, I was performing at The Punchline in San Francisco, and Robin came to the show with our mutual friend, Dan Spencer.

This particular batch of material was the first time I had touched upon my then still-fresh divorce wounds, and big chunks of it were pretty dark. The next day, I got a text from a number I didn’t recognize. Whoever it was had obviously been to the show and knew my number, so I figured they would reveal themselves at some point and save me the embarrassment of asking who they were.

The Mystery Texter asked how I was REALLY doing. “You can’t fool me. Some of those ‘jokes’ aren’t ‘jokes.” By now I knew that whoever this was had been through what I was enduring, as no one else would know to ask, “What time of day is the hardest?”

He wanted to know how my kids were handling it, all the while assuring me that the storm, as bleak as it was, would one day pass and that I was not, as I was then convinced, a terrible father for visiting a broken home upon my children.

I am not rewriting this story in retrospect to make it dramatic. I did not know who I was texting with. Finally, my phone blipped, and I saw, in a little green square, “Okay, pal. You got my number. Call me. I’ve been there. You’re going to be okay. – Robin.”

That is what you call a human being.

Brilliant stuff like this rains down like..well, rain, on my stream during the week. If you want to get wet, follow me on Twitter and StockTwits. You can also pick up my book Trading – The Best of the Best: Top Trading Tips For Our Times by clicking here.

Fatherhood And The Volte-Face

Fatherhood is terrifying

Yesterday, after my morning super fatherhood ritual, which involves waking, dressing, and making breakfast for my kids, I hopped on Twitter.  The first thing I saw in my stream — a phrase I can never say without visions of urination — was this tweet from my good friend @chicagosean;

I had to laugh — out loud in fact — because it took me back to a time when I was afraid, nay, fucking terrified, of being a father.  Like South Central, fatherhood was a hood I wanted no part of.

I came to the daddy game late in life.  The average age for a first-time father in the US is 29.3 years old.  I was 38.

I was so unready, so unwilling, so in denial about being a father that when my wife informed me that her water had broken, I replied, “Are you sure?”

“Are your sure?” is a response that is dicey at best and incalculably dangerous at worst to lob back at any inquiry from you wife or girlfriend, even in the best of times.  But when you say it to your bloated, water retaining, nine-month pregnant, I-just-want-to-get-this-thing-out-of-me wife, hit the shelter boy cause she’s going nuclear.

Even in the hospital room I busied myself with anything, ANYTHING, that took my attention away from my impending fatherhood.  You know what I remember about my first child’s birth?  Trying to get a cell signal on my crappy flip phone so I could salvage a position I was underwater in on $AAPL.

“Hold on honey, I’m about to get filled on this!”

I wasn’t ready to be a father.  But guess what? I wasn’t ready to get married.  Or sell my company.  Or watch my father die.  Or any number of other major and/or minor life events. Who is?

Fatherhood is not the only thing you’ll question

There is no amount of preparation you can do to be ready for most of what life throws at you.  It’s perpetually the summer of your 9th birthday.  You are on the high dive, trying to figure out how you got there and if there is any way on God’s green Earth you can get down without looking like a pussy.  But you can’t.  So eventually you just do it.  You jump.  And you survive.

It should get easier, but it doesn’t.  So when I am facing another of life’s unsure challenges, I do something I like to call “historical projection.”

I pull something out of my history that I never thought I could do/survive/accomplish/get through, and then project into the future and remember that I did.  Like fatherhood. It’s a bit of cognitive dissonance, but it works for me.

I’ve got two kids now.  They seem well-adjusted.  I seem to be a good dad.  And despite all my trepidation, I think I have a handle on it.

Editors note: Check back with me in the teenage years to see if I am eating either my words or a bullet.

Brilliant stuff like this rains down like..well, rain, on my stream during the week. If you want to get wet, follow me on Twitter and StockTwits. You can also pick up my book Trading – The Best of the Best: Top Trading Tips For Our Times by clicking here.

Mad Max: Fury Road Trailer Drops At Comic-Con

The trailer for the fourth film in the Mad Max saga premiered yesterday at Comic-Con.  Original director George Miller is on board and I have to say, it looks like one remake/sequel that will hold up to its predecessors.  Check it out.

Brilliant stuff like this rains down like..well, rain, on my stream during the week. If you want to get wet, follow me on Twitter and StockTwits. You can also pick up my book Trading – The Best of the Best: Top Trading Tips For Our Times by clicking here.

When Billionaires Cry

unnamed

The Lund Loop is a once-weekly curated slice of what I am writing, reading, and hearing about in finance, tech, music, pop culture, humor, and the good life.  But no sports or knitting….ever!  You can subscribe for free by clicking here.

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Welcome back folks.  I know it’s been a tough week for all of us given the horrible news out of the Jay-Z-Beyonce camp but I appreciate you putting on a brave face and checking back in with the Lund Loop.

By the way, if you are getting this by mistake or no longer wish to receive the Lund Loop, be a sweetheart and refrain from reporting this email as “spam.”  Just click the “unsubscribe” button at the bottom of the page and I promise I will never darken your doorstep again. Thanks. Now let’s do this….

Writing:

Reading:

Hearing:

Short and sweet….

“Nobody solves poverty by going broke.”

-Adam Braun, founder of “Pencils of Promise” which has built over 200 schools in 3rd world countries.

—–

“People go where they grow.”

-Seth Godin on what attracts people to certain content or products.

—–

“Suicide.”

 -Marc Maron when asked by Norm Macdonald what other professional options he had before starting his podcast.

—–

“He was a natural movie star, not a natural actor. He had to learn that.”

-Scott Eyman, author of “John Wayne : The Life and Legend.”

—–

“Get up, do it, prove you can do it, then do something else.”

-Magician Lance Burton on how to keep people engaged.

Misc:

And finally….

  • When I die, turn me into one of these and then huck it at Justin Bieber/Kanye West/A random Kardashian/Anyone on “The View.”

Thanks for hanging in there with me.  Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter and if you liked The Lund Loop why not forward this email to a friend and tell them they can subscribe here.

See ya next week!

-B

Brilliant stuff like this rains down like..well, rain, on my stream during the week. If you want to get wet, follow me on Twitter and StockTwits. You can also pick up my book Trading – The Best of the Best: Top Trading Tips For Our Times by clicking here.

The Best Movie You’ve Never Seen – Over The Edge

In the early 70′s, driven by the lure of open space, the suburbs of California spread ever outwards.  New “phases” were built in a staggered cadence that often abutted completed and occupied new houses against the skeletons of homes still in progress.  These homes became the playgrounds — my playground — of bored and nihilistic kids who saw no charms in the nascent communities their parents had chosen to move to.

Take that narrative, throw in a soundtrack filled with songs by Cheap Trick, Van Halen, The Cars, and The Ramones, and you have a pretty damn good film called Over the Edge.  It also happens to be the first film that future star Matt Dillion, and future star-then-failure Vincent Spano appeared in.

Check out the trailer with it’s disturbingly Stepford Wives-type voice over.

In a sense, Over the Edge is to the West Coast what The Warriors is to the East Coast.  If you ever wanted to know what it was like to grow up in the 70′s in Cali, this is the movie to watch.

What you may have missed:

The Best Movie You’ve Never Seen – Sexy Beast

The Best Movie You’ve Never Seen – Pool Hall Junkies

The Best Movie You’ve Never Seen – Hollywood Knights

The Best Movie You’ve Never Seen – Gangster N0. 1

The Best Movie You’ve Never Seen – Get Carter

Brilliant stuff like this rains down like..well, rain, on my stream during the week. If you want to get wet, follow me on Twitter and StockTwits. You can also pick up my book Trading – The Best of the Best: Top Trading Tips For Our Times by clicking here.

CNBC Is Dead – Here’s Why Retail Investors Won’t Miss It

To those of you who have been loyal readers of this blog over the last few years it might be apparent that I have “slacked off” a bit in 2014.  And by slacked off I mean, barely blogged at all.

At the first of the year I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to begin writing for AOL’s Daily Finance and About.com’s Stock Guide, and I am just now starting to figure out an editorial schedule that will let me handle those obligations as well as post regularly here.

In the meantime, check out my piece on the death of CNBC for the retail investor.  Here’s a slice….

CNBC was never really a useful tool for the retail investor, but now it occupies an awkward space where it’s neither fast enough to compete with social media, nor deep enough (nor accountable enough) to compete with long-form digital content, and not accessible enough to compete with online personalities.

Advances in technology have finally revealed the dirty little secret about CNBC — and financial news television in general: Their shows are window dressing for clients in the offices of institutional investors, and obsolete badges of honor for financial pundits.

And if you get a chance, take a look at an “Intro to Technical Analysis” series I just finished.

Thanks for your patience while I get my shit in order.  I hope to be back in the groove of things here on StockTwits very soon.

Brilliant stuff like this rains down like..well, rain, on my stream during the week. If you want to get wet, follow me on Twitter and StockTwits. You can also pick up my book Trading – The Best of the Best: Top Trading Tips For Our Times by clicking here.