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Random Thoughts: Q4 Arrives With a Bang!


Looser grips relax risk parameters.


Editor's Note: Todd posts his vibes in real time each day on our Buzz & Banter.

It's a beautiful autumn morning as fund managers relax their risk grip after a very intense weekend.

I'm not referring to stresses associated with NFL fandom -- or PeeWee football for that matter, despite our first game (and our first win!) -- I'm talking about the third-quarter investment letters that were written and mailed by fund managers. Who shall live and who shall die has been determined by who has bought and who has sold -- and that's only gonna get more acute as year-end dances closer to reality.

At the center of this week's great debate was whether the recent slippage was a healthy retracement -- and we bounced right where we had to -- or the beginning of the "denial" phase of the bear case. While we won't know without the benefit of hindsight, we must position ourselves based on the here and now, decisions that are easier said than done.

I enter a fresh five-session set with balanced and measured risk. I'm long (half of my original) Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) common with a cost basis of $20 and a stop below recent lows, I have slimmed QQQ (NASDAQ:QQQ) December out-of-the-money puts (bought with the underlying at QQQ $68.30), a snivlet of Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) November out-of-the-money puts (bought when the stock traded $760) and a smallish oh-by-the-way Research in Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) upside bet (bought at $7.65; stop below recent lows).

This positioning is entirely more palatable than the one-way bet that I sweated out before getting bailed out. I was too big -- I know this because I was watching every tick -- and it was a lesson, which is pretty crazy considering I've been trading 22 years and should have learned that lesson long ago.

Ah, the travails of being a human being rather than a black box.

Random Thoughts:
  • It's never wise to mess with Mother Nature or free markets!
  • We highlighted this puppy last week but lest you missed it, there's a Head & Shoulders formation forming on the Nasdaq 100 (INDEXNASDAQ:NDX) that "works," if triggered, to NDX 2675 (head minus shoulder, minus shoulder). We would need to break NDX 2770ish for it that to happen, but we should keep it on our radar we dance to the music.

  • Just when you thought the world's wildest reality show couldn't get any better, I'll draw your attention to the S&P (INDEXSP:.INX) trend channel that's been in place since the spring low. If we break that level -- note there was one false breakdown earlier this year -- a technical picture points toward SPX 1350.

  • If you haven't noticed, social mood is devolving around us. It's a race against the clock: Save the system or reach the tipping point if we're not already there. Social moods and risk appetites shape financial markets, so this discussion is fair game.
  • On the "other side" of that trade, we've secured the same bands for Festivus 2012 to benefit The Ruby Peck Foundation for Children's Education. If you like Journey or U2 -- or helping less fortunate children -- this is the gig for you! Please join us in giving back and have a great time doing it!
  • Finally, happy birthday, Minyanville! We turned 10 years old today, and I would be remiss if I didn't thank all you for being part of such a special community!

Twitter: @todd_harrison

Follow Todd and over 30 professional traders as they share their ideas in real-time with a FREE 14 day trial to Buzz & Banter.
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Position in FB, RIMM, QQQ, GOOG

Todd Harrison is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Minyanville. Prior to his current role, Mr. Harrison was President and head trader at a $400 million dollar New York-based hedge fund. Todd welcomes your comments and/or feedback at

The information on this website solely reflects the analysis of or opinion about the performance of securities and financial markets by the writers whose articles appear on the site. The views expressed by the writers are not necessarily the views of Minyanville Media, Inc. or members of its management. Nothing contained on the website is intended to constitute a recommendation or advice addressed to an individual investor or category of investors to purchase, sell or hold any security, or to take any action with respect to the prospective movement of the securities markets or to solicit the purchase or sale of any security. Any investment decisions must be made by the reader either individually or in consultation with his or her investment professional. Minyanville writers and staff may trade or hold positions in securities that are discussed in articles appearing on the website. Writers of articles are required to disclose whether they have a position in any stock or fund discussed in an article, but are not permitted to disclose the size or direction of the position. Nothing on this website is intended to solicit business of any kind for a writer's business or fund. Minyanville management and staff as well as contributing writers will not respond to emails or other communications requesting investment advice.

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