Category Archives: Stocks

There Is Just One Thing Preventing Elon Musk’s Vision From Coming True: The Laws Of Physics

When Elon Musk stepped on stage at Tesla’s product-launch event earlier this month, he knew the market’s confidence in Tesla’s brand had sunk to an all-time low since he took over the company a decade ago. So, he resorted to a tactic that should be familiar to anybody who has been following the company: Shock and awe.

While the event was ostensibly scheduled to introduce Tesla’s new semi-truck – a model that won’t make it’s market debut for another two years, assuming Tesla sticks to its product-rollout deadline – Musk had a surprise in store: A new model of the Tesla Roadster that, he bragged, would be the fastest production car ever sold.

Musk made similarly lofty claims about the battery life and performance of both vehicles. The Tesla semi-trucks, he said, would be able to travel for 500 miles on a single charge. The roadster could clock a staggering 620 – more than double the closest challenger.

There was just one problem, as Tesla fans would later find out, courtesy of Bloomberg: None of it was true.

In fact, many of the promises defy the capabilities of modern battery technology.

Elon Musk knows how to make promises. Even by his own standards, the promises made last week while introducing two new Tesla vehicles—the heavy-duty Semi Truck and the speedy Roadster—are monuments of envelope pushing.

To deliver, according to close observers of battery technology, Tesla would have to far exceed what is currently thought possible.

Take the Tesla Semi: Musk vowed it would haul an unprecedented 80,000 pounds for 500 miles on a single charge, then recharge 400 miles of range in 30 minutes. That would require, based on Bloomberg estimates, a charging system that’s 10 times more powerful than one of the fastest battery-charging networks on the road today—Tesla’s own Superchargers.

The diminutive Tesla Roadster is promised to be the quickest production car ever built. But that achievement would mean squeezing into its tiny frame a battery twice as powerful as the largest battery currently available in an electric car.

These claims are so far beyond current industry standards for electric vehicles that they would require either advances in battery technology or a new understanding of how batteries are put to use, said Sam Jaffe, battery analyst for Cairn Energy Research in Boulder, Colorado. In some cases, experts suspect Tesla might be banking on technological improvements between now and the time when new vehicles are actually ready for delivery.

“I don’t think they’re lying,” Jaffe said. “I just think they left something out of the public reveal that would have explained how these numbers work.”

While Jaffe seems inclined to give Tesla the benefit of the doubt, there’s little, if anything, in Musk’s recent behavior to justify this level of credulity. In recent months, Musk has repeatedly suffered the humiliation of seeing his lies and half-truths exposed. For example, the self-styled “visionary” claimed during the unveiling of the Model 3 Sedan that he would have 1,500 copies of the new model ready for customers by the end of the third quarter. Instead, the company managed a meager 260 models as factory-line workers at its Fremont, Calif. factory struggled to assemble the vehicles by hand as the Model 3 assembly line hadn’t been completed.

https://i0.wp.com/www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user245717/imageroot/2017/11/20/2017.11.25batterychart.png

Increasingly agitated customers who placed deposits with Tesla back in March 2016 have begun asking for refunds, only to be chagrined by the company’s sluggish response. While nobody in the mainstream press has (somewhat bafflingly) made the connection, Tesla revealed earlier this month that it burned an unprecedented $1.4 billion of cash during the third quarter – or roughly $16 million per day – despite Elon Musk’s assurance that Tesla had its “all-time best quarter” for Model S and X deliveries.

https://i0.wp.com/www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user245717/imageroot/2017/11/20/2017.11.25teslacashflow.png

And let’s not forget the fiasco surrounding Tesla’s autopilot software. Musk has repeatedly exaggerated its performance claims. And customers who paid more than $8,000 for a software upgrade more than a year ago have been repeatedly disappointed by delays and sub-par performance.

https://i2.wp.com/www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user245717/imageroot/2017/11/20/2017.11.25batterydensity.png

Musk’s exaggerations about the Tesla Roadster were particularly egregious.

Tesla claims that its new $200,000 Roadster is the quickest production car ever made, clocking zero to 60 in 1.9 seconds. Even crazier is the car’s unprecedented battery range: some 620 miles on a single charge. That’s a longer range than any battery-powered vehicle on the road—almost twice as long as Tesla’s class-leading Model S and Model X.

To achieve such power and range, Musk said the tiny Roadster will need to pack a massive 200-kilowatt-hour battery. That’s twice the size of any battery Tesla currently has on the road. Musk has previously said he won’t be making the packs bigger on the Model S and Model X because of space constraints. So how can he double the pack size in the smaller Roadster?

BNEF’s Morsy has a twofold answer. First, he expects Tesla will probably double-stack battery packs, one on top of the other, beneath the Roadster’s floor. That creates some engineering problems for the battery-management system, but those should not be insurmountable. Still, Morsy said, the batteries required would be too large to fit in such a small frame.

“I really don’t think the car you saw last week had the full 200 kilowatt hours in it,” Morsy said. “I don’t think it’s physically possible to do that right now.”

Is it possible that, thanks to incremental improvements in battery density and cost, Musk somehow manages to hit these lofty targets? Perhaps, though, as Bloomberg points out, the fact that Musk is basing these claims on a set of projections that haven’t yet been realized is hardly confidence inspiring.

To be sure, there’s an important caveat to Musk’s claims. While they may be staggeringly exaggerated, there’s still the possibility that incremental improvements in battery technology will make these targets more feasible by the time the models hit the market.

Again, Musk may be banking on the future. While Tesla began taking deposits on the Roadster immediately—$50,000 for the base model—the first vehicles won’t be delivered until 2020. Meanwhile, battery density has been improving at a rate of 7.5 percent a year, meaning that by the time production starts, packs will be smaller and more powerful, even without a major breakthrough in battery chemistry.

“The trend in battery density is, I think, central to any claim Tesla made about both the Roadster and the Semi,” Morsy said. “That’s totally fair. The assumptions on a pack in 2020 shouldn’t be the same ones you use today.”

However, in its analysis of the feasibility of Musk’s claims, Bloomberg overlooked one crucial detail: Back in August, the company’s veteran director of battery technology, Kurt Kelty, unexpectedly resigned to “explore new opportunities,” abruptly ending a tenure with the company that stretched for more than a decade, and comes at a critical time for Elon Musk.

Kelty’s resignation – part of an exodus of high-level executives that is alarming in and of itself – hardly inspires confidence in Tesla’s ability to innovate. We’ve noticed a trend with Tesla: The more the company under delivers, the more Musk over promises.

In our opinion, this is not a sustainable business strategy.  

Source: ZeroHedge

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What Was Going On With MGM Resorts In September, Just Before The Terrorist Attack?

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On Tuesday, September 5th, 2017,  the board of MGM Resorts International decided to approve a $1 billion share repurchase program. At $17.7 billion today, the program represented a significant portion of its current market cap. By the end of the week, MGM’s CEO, James Murren, had coolly divested himself of 80% of the shares he owned in his company. The divestment came just days before the ex-dividend date on September 8th, 2017.

The sales were originally disclosed in a document filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Murren had previously divested 57,269 shares on July 31st and August 9th, 2017.

It’s currently unclear why Murren chose to sell when he did. To date, MGM’s stock has not experienced a significant decline in value due to the repurchasing program. It could be interpreted to run against the company’s interests for the CEO to convey a sense of urgency in the selling of his shares by disposing of them immediately after the commencement of his company’s share repurchase program. It’s also strange that the CEO of a company would sell more than half of their stake (let alone 80%) in the company that they represented.

Mr. Murren and his fellow board members were not the only speculators who were bearish on MGM’s prospects. Billionaire investor George Soros also bought $42 million worth of puts on the company, according to SEC filings from mid August.

That point being made, it needs to be asked why any profit-oriented CEO of any company would sell 80% of his personal stake in his own corporation, especially after he thought it was in the business’ best interest to initiate a massive share repurchase program which one would theoretically assume to reduce the number of shares in the company and increase the price of each share, ceteris peribus.

Why would the individual with the most information about the company sell 80% of his shares immediately after the commencement of a program that most would consider positive for the stock? Shouldn’t he want to hold on to his shares? Is there something he knew, that others didn’t, that lead to so much movement in such little time? What a week!

On September 5th, 2017, 18 analysts were bullish on MGM, 1 had a hold rating, and 1 had a sell rating. Taking the events of September and October into consideration, has MGM’s picture heading forward improved, or worsened?

… and finally, should James Murren’s membership on the DHS Infrastructure Advisory Council mean anything to investigators and shareholders?

By William Craddick | Disobedient Media

Fed Warns Markets “Vulnerable to Elevated Valuations” [charts]

Hussman Predicts Massive Losses As Cycle Completes After Fed Warns Markets “Vulnerable to Elevated Valuations”

Buried deep in today’s FOMC Minutes was a warning to the equity markets that few noticed…

This overall assessment incorporated the staff’s judgment that, since the April assessment, vulnerabilities associated with asset valuation pressures had edged up from notable to elevated, as asset prices remained high or climbed further, risk spreads narrowed, and expected and actual volatility remained muted in a range of financial markets…

According to another view, recent rises in equity prices might be part of a broad-based adjustment of asset prices to changes in longer-term financial conditions, importantly including a lower neutral real interest rate, and, therefore, the recent equity price increases might not provide much additional impetus to aggregate spending on goods and services.

According to one view, the easing of financial conditions meant that the economic effects of the Committee’s actions in gradually removing policy accommodation had been largely offset by other factors influencing financial markets, and that a tighter monetary policy than otherwise was warranted.

Roughly translated means – higher equity prices are driving financial conditions to extreme ‘easiness’ and The Fed needs to slow stock prices to regain any effective control over monetary conditions.

https://i2.wp.com/www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/08/14/20170816_FOMC11.png

And with that ‘explicit bubble warning’, it appears the ‘other’ side of the cycle, that Hussman Funds’ John Hussman has been so vehemently explaining to investors, is about to begin…

Nothing in history leads me to expect that current extremes will end in something other than profound disappointment for investors. In my view, the S&P 500 will likely complete the current cycle at an index level that has only 3-digits. Indeed, a market decline of -63% would presently be required to take the most historically reliable valuation measures we identify to the same norms that they have revisited or breached during the completion of nearly every market cycle in history.

The notion that elevated valuations are “justified” by low interest rates requires the assumption that future cash flows and growth rates are held constant. But any investor familiar with discounted cash flow valuation should recognize that if interest rates are lower because expected growth is also lower, the prospective return on the investment falls without any need for a valuation premium.

At present, however, we observe not only the most obscene level of valuation in history aside from the single week of the March 24, 2000 market peak; not only the most extreme median valuations across individual S&P 500 component stocks in history; not only the most extreme overvalued, overbought, over bullish syndromes we define; but also interest rates that are off the zero-bound, and a key feature that has historically been the hinge between overvalued markets that continue higher and overvalued markets that collapse: widening divergences in internal market action across a broad range of stocks and security types, signaling growing risk-aversion among investors, at valuation levels that provide no cushion against severe losses.

We extract signals about the preferences of investors toward speculation or risk-aversion based on the joint and sometimes subtle behavior of numerous markets and securities, so our inferences don’t map to any short list of indicators. Still, internal dispersion is becoming apparent in measures that are increasingly obvious. For example, a growing proportion of individual stocks falling below their respective 200-day moving averages; widening divergences in leadership (as measured by the proportion of individual issues setting both new highs and new lows); widening dispersion across industry groups and sectors, for example, transportation versus industrial stocks, small-cap stocks versus large-cap stocks; and fresh divergences in the behavior of credit-sensitive junk debt versus debt securities of higher quality. All of this dispersion suggests that risk-aversion is rising, no longer subtly. Across history, this sort of shift in investor preferences, coupled with extreme overvalued, overbought, over bullish conditions, has been the hallmark of major peaks and subsequent market collapses.

The chart below shows the percentage of U.S. stocks above their respective 200-day moving averages, along with the S&P 500 Index. The deterioration and widening dispersion in market internals is no longer subtle.

https://i0.wp.com/www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/08/14/20170816_huss.png

Market internals suggest that risk-aversion is now accelerating. The most extreme variants of “overvalued, overbought, over bullish” conditions we identify are already in place.

https://i1.wp.com/www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/08/14/20170816_huss1_0.png

A market loss of [1/2.70-1 =] -63% over the completion of this cycle would be a rather run-of-the-mill outcome from these valuations. All of our key measures of expected market return/risk prospects are unfavorable here. Market conditions will change, and as they do, the prospective market return/risk profile will change as well. Examine all of your investment exposures, and ensure that they are consistent with your actual investment horizon and tolerance for risk.

Source: ZeroHedge

It’s Over For Tech Start-ups

It’s over for tech start-ups — just look at today’s earnings reports

  • Blue Apron and Snap had disappointing earnings reports on Thursday.
  • Both companies have been targeted by one of the Big Five — Blue Apron by Amazon, Snap by Facebook.
  • Start-ups and investors should look to the margins, or prepare to face the tech giants.

Two newly public tech companies reported earnings on Thursday, and both were ugly for their investors.

Meal-kit preparer Blue Apron missed earnings expectations by a wide margin in its first earnings report since going public in late June. It reported a 47 cent per share loss instead of the expected 30 cent loss, blaming high customer acquisition costs and staffing a new distribution plant in New Jersey.

The stock dropped 17 percent and is now trading at about half its IPO price.

In its second earnings report as a public company, Snap disappointed Wall Street with its user growth numbers for the second consecutive time and fell short on earnings.

The stock dropped about 17 percent after hours. It’s now off about 33 percent from its IPO price.

Blue Apron and Snap have a lot in common. They’re consumer focused. They have devoted followers. They’re losing money hand over fist.

And both were targeted directly and aggressively by two of tech’s biggest companies.

Between the time Blue Apron filed for its intial public offering, on June 1, and when it went public, on June 28, Amazon announced that it was buying Whole Foods. The speculation that Amazon would use the purchase to improve its home delivery service sent demand for Blue Apron’s IPO down, and the company slashed its IPO range from $15-$17 down to $10-$11.

Then, reports emerged that Amazon had already launched a meal kit, which was on sale in Seattle.

In the case of Snap, it was Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg and company had been fighting to blunt Snap’s growth ever since its co-founder, Evan Spiegel, rejected his buyout offer in 2013. It began to see progress with the launch of Instagram Stories in August 2016, which duplicated Snapchat’s own Stories feature. Over the next year, it gradually copied nearly every major Snapchat feature in its own products.

Less than a year after launch, Instagram Stories has 250 million daily users and is growing at a rate of around 50 million every three months. Snap has 173 million and grew only 7 million during the quarter.

The experiences of these companies are discouraging for start-up investors and founders who dream of someday creating an Amazon or Facebook of their own.

The five big tech companies — Alphabet (Google), Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Microsoft — have attained unprecedented wealth and power, with trillions of dollars in combined market value and tens of billions of dollars in free cash flow.

They also need to satisfy Wall Street’s appetite for growth, which means they have to get new customers or earn more money from existing customers, quarter after quarter, year after year. One way to do that is to expand into new markets.

https://sc.cnbcfm.com/applications/cnbc.com/resources/files/2017/08/10/SNAP_chart.jpeg

They’ll gladly outspend their smaller competitors on product development and hiring while undercutting them on price.

That doesn’t mean curtains for Blue Apron or Snap. Both companies could come up with a leapfrog innovation that catapults them (for a while). Young nimble companies overtake older and slower companies all the time — that’s how the Big Five started. Microsoft disrupted IBM. Google and Apple disrupted Microsoft. And so on.

But companies and tech investors need to be wise about the risks of betting on upstarts that are going up against these giants.

If you hope to make money through online advertising, you’ll be challenging Google and Facebook. If you’re doing anything in e-commerce, logistics or delivery, you’ll run into Amazon. In cloud computing, get ready to see Amazon, Microsoft and Google. If you’re building hardware, Apple likely stands in the way.

It might be better to focus on the niches that the Big Five don’t yet dominate. Their health-care efforts are still in early stages, and none is playing heavily in financial tech, drones or robotics. Microsoft’s power in enterprise software is blunted to some degree by other old giants like IBM, Oracle and SAP, plus newer players like Salesforce.

It’s always been hard to build a successful start-up. With the increasing dominance of the Big Five, it’s harder than ever.

By Matt Rosoff | CNBC

 

Tech-Wreck Continues – FANG Stocks Tumble Below Friday Flash-Crash Lows

It’s not over…

Felix Zulauf (via Barron’s round table)

Do you have any specific investment picks for the second half?

I don’t. Investors should tighten risk-management strategies to their portfolios. I expect the FANG stocks and the Nasdaq to have a big selloff. They could easily fall 30% or 40%. But I don’t want to end my Roundtable career on a bearish note. [Zulauf announced at the January Roundtable that he is “retiring” from the panel after this year.]

Once the bear market is over and the recession or economic crisis passes, stocks will go up again.

FANG Stocks just took out Friday’s flash-crash lows…

https://i2.wp.com/www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/06/11/20170612_fang4_0.jpg

Source: ZeroHedge

FANGs Flash Crashed – Worst Day Since Election

FANG Stocks: Coined by CNBC business pundit Jim Cramer, the term refers to four publicly-traded tech giants Facebook Inc. (FB), Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN), Netflix Inc. (NFLX), and Google (GOOGL), which is now Alphabet Inc. All four of the companies are online or tech-centric, command massive market shares in their respective industries and are valued and traded at very high prices.

The sudden rotation out of growth/momentum stocks, highlighted earlier, sure escalated quickly…

… With growth getting dumped…

https://i1.wp.com/www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/06/07/20170609_EOD4.jpg

… and AMZN flash-crashing:
https://i2.wp.com/www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/06/07/20170609_AMZN.jpg
Some zoomed in context:
https://i0.wp.com/www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/06/07/20170609_AMZN1.jpg
Even AAPL got hammered:
https://i0.wp.com/www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/06/07/20170609_AMZN2.jpg
In fact, all the FANG stocks were in trouble, on their biggest down day since the election:
https://i0.wp.com/www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/06/07/20170609_EOD3.jpg

BofA: This Entire Rally Has Been Institutions Selling To “Animal Spirited” Retail Investors

Important considerations for those who acquire and leverage real estate with financial market assets.


Another paradoxical observation emerges when combing through the latest Bank of America data.

First, as discussed earlier today, while a net 48% of surveyed fund managers had an allocation to equities in March, the highest in two years, this flood into stocks has taken place even as the highest number of respondents since 2000 admitted stocks were overvalued.

https://i1.wp.com/www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user5/imageroot/2017/03/20/bofa%20valluation.jpg

That was one part.

The other part is that while fund managers respond that they are loading up on stocks, what they are doing is very different, and as BofA’s Jill Hall reported overnight, the bank’s clients sold stocks for the fifth consecutive week led entirely by institutional clients.

According to the report, last week, during which the S&P 500 climbed 0.2% (but remained below its early-March highs), BofA clients were net sellers of US equities for the fifth consecutive week, in the amount of $891MM. ETFs continued to see muted inflows, while single stocks saw outflows. There was one smallchange: unlike the previous four weeks, when sales had been broad-based across client groups, net sales last week were entirely due to institutional clients, while private clients and hedge funds were net buyers for the first time in five and seven weeks, respectively. These two groups had been the chief buyers of equities post-election prior to the recent selling streak. In other words, while previously the great rotation was out of institutions and hedge funds to “animal spirited” rich retail investors, last week hedge funds joined the buy parade, perhaps pressured by a need to catch up to their benchmark at quarter-end, and buy any overvalued garbage they could find.

More Details:

  • Clients were net sellers across all three size segments last week. Buybacks by corporate clients slowed from the prior week’s levels, and year-to-date continue to track their lowest of any comparable period since 2013.
  • Biggest buying of Health Care stocks in over a year
  • Clients sold stocks in eight of the eleven sectors last week, led by Consumer Discretionary and Industrials (which have both seen net sales for the last five weeks). Real Estate-the worst-performing sector in March-continues to have the longest selling streak (for seven consecutive weeks).
  • And amid the Fed rate hike last week, Utilities saw their biggest sales in three months. Health Care stocks saw the largest net buying, with the biggest inflows since last January and the first positive flows in six weeks, driven by institutional clients. This sector saw the greatest outflows of any sector in 2016 and has seen the second-largest outflows (after Discretionary) year-to-date.
  • Bearish sentiment, light positioning and attractive valuations are several reasons we are positive on Health Care stocks, where we see political risks as overly discounted. Other sectors which saw inflows last week were Materials and Telecom, where flows into Materials were the largest since last February.

Other notable flows: Broad-based sales of Disc. & bond proxies

  • Hedge funds, private clients and institutional clients alike were net sellers of Consumer Discretionary stocks last week-which typically underperform during tightening cycles-along with stocks in the bond-proxy sectors of Utilities and Real Estate. No sector saw net buying by all three groups.
  • Hedge funds’ net buying last week was spread across five cyclical sectors, while private clients’ net buying was entirely in ETFs and Financials stocks last week.
  • Pension fund clients were net sellers of US stocks for the second straight week, led by sales of ETFs and Real Estate stocks. Their biggest purchases last week were of Energy stocks. For more details, see Pension fund flows.

Finally, here is the breakdown of institutional, HF and retail client flow prior to US election through present. What it clearly shows is that the whole rally has been one “great rotation” from selling institutional investors to buying “animal spirited” retail traders.

https://i2.wp.com/www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user5/imageroot/2017/03/20/bofa%20clients%20sales.jpg

And when institutions sell enough, the bottom from the market is pulled, retail panics to sell as the S&P tumbled, institutions reload, and the whole cycle repeats. 

Source: ZeroHedge


110-Day Streak Is Over – S&P Drops 1% For First Time Since October

The S&P 500 is down over 1% this morning. While in the old normal that would be nothing much to note, in the new normal, this is the biggest drop since October 11th!

https://i2.wp.com/www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/03/21/20170321_1106.jpg

The 110-day streak without a 1% drop is over… this was the longest streak since May 1995

https://i0.wp.com/www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/03/21/20170321_1101.jpg

Below is a look at historical streaks of trading days without a 1%+ decline going back to 1928:

https://i1.wp.com/www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/03/15/20170319_china1.jpg

VIX topped 12.5 for the first time since february and is breaking towards its 100DMA…

https://i1.wp.com/www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/03/21/20170321_1107.jpg

And for those expecting The Fed to step in and save the day… Don’t hold your breath!

And sure enough,

https://i1.wp.com/www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2017/03/21/20170321_1108.jpg

Source: ZeroHedge