Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Christmas in December: Fed Aftermath

Investors that held long positions as of 2:14 Tuesday should appreciate Mr. Bernanke's decisions. The interest rate cut catalyzed a rally that has now lasted two sessions and 3-4%.

I personally can thank him for some investing success. I had purchased September calls for Abercrombie (ANF) and Hovnanian (HOV) about a month ago, when they were both close to the respective strike prices (80 and 12.5). In the month, they were flat or down, and my options were going to expire worthless.

However, Mr. Bernanke came to the rescue and surprised the market with a 50 basis point cut. Both Abercrombie and Hovnanian shot up, and the contracts became in-the-money. (Interestingly, I half-jokingly predicted with almost 100% accuracy the Hovnanian gains; read my post here.)

Anyway, just because I should disclose this anyway, I sold my options in both Abercrombie and Hovnanian, and I sold my equity position in Hovnanian today with a well-executed stop-loss order. For the record, I still love the homebuilder's prospect's for the future; I will be looking for a lower reentry point sometime very soon. However, I feel the run-up to 15 was largely unmerited and a bit of a chain-reaction, so I'm currently waiting on the sidelines for things to settle down.

Thanks to Mr. Bernanke, my personal portfolio was up 10% on Tuesday, and I am now exactly even for the quarter. (Prior losses in Hovnanian, Syntax-Brillian, and others had hurt my performance).

Looking ahead, I am uncertain; the crystal ball that I used to predict the rally Tuesday is now out of commission. I watched Mad Money tonight for the first time in a while, and Cramer predicted that this is just the beginning of a huge bull market. I can't say that I agree with taht statement; with still-unresolved (and possibly still worsening) housing/credit problems in the United States and Europe, I don't think the world markets are financially sound enough to have an organic, fundamentally-based rally. The euphoria from the interest rate cuts may last a few more sessions, then people will probably start to profit-take.

My advice? Keep your eyes on the long-term prize. I'm long Toyota (it's the biggest position in my portfolio, at about 20% of assets). It is down a couple bucks from where I bought it in the middle of the summer, and frankly, I'm not too sure it's going to go up significantly anytime soon (due to the possibly-weakening economy, tight credit, etc). However, I'm 97% sure that in two or three years, based simply on fundamentals, Toyota could easily be a $200 stock.

Trying to profit from volatility is tempting, and if you succeed, congratulations. But if you look at the world's greatest investors - people like Warren Buffet - they seek out great values, and great companies, and reap great returns.

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