Friday, June 27, 2008

Free Wet Seal Tank Top

Of all my stocks that are getting pummeled recently in this crappy market, Wet Seal (WTSLA) has been doing alright. They recently had some deal going on with some young teen music duo called Prima J. Anyway, the company is giving away free tank tops sporting the newly coined term, "Chilosa." While I won't have any use for this, I thought that maybe some of you might (for your kids).

Here's the link to the online coupon: Free Chilosa Tank Top from Wet Seal.

Taking My Lumps

Sold off the American Eagle Outfitters (AEO) trading position for a 12% loss. I was wrong, and so that's that.

Anyway, off to Vegas today. Time to forget about the brutal week I've had in the markets and do some relaxing... and pokering.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Quick Update

Market's been brutal lately, but today's slightly positive for me. Today's move hardly helps, but I guess every little bit counts. Picked up a block of American Eagle Outfitters (AEO) at 16.01. As much as retailers are hurting, I don't quite believe that AEO should be trading where it is trading, especially when considered relative to its peers. Anyway, this is a medium-sized position, and I will play it by ear. If it moves quickly against me, I am ready to take my losses.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Bomomo: Abstract Art Maker

My friend sent me this link to an online tool to create abstract art called Bomomo. I played with it a bit, and I created a few pieces. Only one of them was to my liking. I also performed some color adjustment, and I think it worked out well.

Here is the original version followed by the final one after I tweaked the colors a bit. It's pretty cool how the colors dramatically change how the piece is perceived.

And, here's the same image after running it through an edge detector. Pretty cool looking.

The Godfather

Every now and then I mention how I hang out with the Godfather. Most of you have no idea who he is, and that's not a good thing. I'm correcting that by putting up a picture of him. Don't cross him. You just might wake up next to a horse's head.

Quick Update

Sold all of the remaining Wynn Resorts (WYNN) at 88.35. This batch of shares resulted in a small profit of $1.05 (including the premiums for the covered calls sold). I guess small profit is better than any loss.

Vitus and the Weekend

Over the weekend, I had a pretty busy time. While I mostly hung out with JC, there was a little bit of everything. First, there was a failed attempt to get Mexican food... so, we settled for In 'n Out. Then, there was a quick shopping trip to pick up some stuff for the birthday dinner event, which went fairly well. Finally, yesterday, my cousin (another JC) and her friend and Barber went to play some bocce ball. Our team started off really strong, then we almost lost the game, but we were able to pull through.

Mixed in there some was also a fair bit of running, which I'm getting a bit better at doing. We mostly ran late at night, so there were some random wild animals to be seen. There was a deer (which, I missed), a screech(?) owl, and also an opossum. Screech owls are pretty loud... at first I didn't know what the heck was making the sounds, but then the owl flew out.

Anyway, we also caught a movie on cable called Vitus. It's basically about a super genius kid that is an incredible pianist. His parents really push him to be great, and as you can imagine, this leads to some complications. In any case, the story is decent with a few unexpected paths. I can't say that most of the twists aren't predictable, but in the end, it was still an entertaining movie and one that I would recommend for most people.

Friday, June 20, 2008


Today sucked. The market went down huge, and I basically had 100% of my positions in the red. I really should learn to short more, but I try not to trade too much, and I generally don't short for the longer-term. Maybe I need to rethink that at some point.

Anyway, at least the weekend is here... some peeps are coming in this weekend. There's a birthday party celebration thing for my uncle tomorrow night, so there should be some good seafood to be had.

And, all options sold expire worthless today, which is only a very minor consolation given how badly beaten up various positions have gotten since the covered calls were sold. The plan is to get rid of Wynn early next week... with some luck, I should be able to get out above my effective cost basis of 87.30. The GE position I picked up for the buy-write trade I am likely going to keep, which adds more shares to my existing GE position. Too bad for me, since GE has taken a serious pummeling over the last few months.

Glad that it's Friday. I need to chill a bit. I didn't quite get my fill of relaxation in Tahoe last weekend.

Okay, time to wrap up here at work and then head to the airport. Have a nice weekend, and if you got hurt today, then I hope that you subscribe to the 'misery loves company' school of thought.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Quick Update

Added to Glatfelter (GLT) today at 14.50. The position is fairly large now after quite a few purchases starting in March 2007. The cost basis of the shares now sits in the low 14's.

--- Edit #1 ---

The market was down today, and most holdings fell... no biggie, that's just the way things work usually. But, one thing was a bit odd with Wet Seal (WTSLA) today. It was trading lower for pretty much all of the last half of the trading session, when in the last 5 minutes of trading, it spiked higher on decent volume.

I consolidated some Time and Sales data, so here it is:

Time - Volume Weighted Price - Volume
3:56-3:57PM - $4.819 - 5000
3:57-3:58PM - $4.831 - 800
3:58-3:59PM - $4.883 - 78103
3:59-4:00PM - $4.908 - 46460
4:00-4:01PM - $4.962 - 113413

No idea if it matters much, but I suppose it's better to see a last minute spike up than a last minute sell-off. I guess we'll see what happens tomorrow.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Quick Update

Yes, I'm a market addict. I'm back on the top of this hill accessing the internet near the registration office.

Anyway, I just sold June $95 Calls (UWYFS) on Wynn Resorts (WYNN) for $0.90 apiece, which is covered by the entire remaining trading position. This brings the cost basis on the remaining shares down to $87.30.

Well, that's enough of the market for this morning... time to go to the lake. The plan for the morning is to rent one of those SeaDoo personal watercrafts and just have some fun. Later, everyone.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Lake Tahoe

So, here I am sitting high up on some mountain accessing the free wi-fi up here in South Lake Tahoe. Went on a pretty nice hike earlier in the day... went out to Fallen Leaf Lake and Lily Lake. These lakes don't touch Lake Tahoe, but they're connected by streams of some sort, I think. I've been to Tahoe plenty of times, but this was the first time I'd ever gone out this way.

Here are a few pictures I took while I was out there hiking around.

This one is of Lily Lake. It was really serene, and there weren't many people out there. Definitely a nice isolated spot.

Here's a random shot near Fallen Leaf Lake.

And, here's some waterfall nearby.

Good thing I didn't get attacked by wild animals... here's a coyote.

I might go play some cards tomorrow. I lost a chunk of change last night playing some -EV games (Blackjack and Pai Gow poker). Okay, it's getting scary up here. I'm outta here.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Quick Update

Sold half Wynn Resorts (WYNN) at $91.20 for a $3 gain... not too large percentage-wise, but in absolute terms it was decent. The position was a bit large, so I figured I had better lighten up. As for the rest of the shares, I might sell calls on them at some point, but for now I'm just going to hang on for the ride.

Defending My Word Cubes Crown

I'm going to toot my own horn here... I just got notification confirming me as the official winner of the June '08 Word Cubes tournament. Top prize was a tidy $789, which should cover the expenses of my upcoming Vegas trip.

The game at the bar is played on one of those touch screen kiosk machines, so it helps to have quick hands as well as the ability to use both of them. And, while I've never found an exact version (with same scoring rules and bonuses), here's an online version of the basic game.

Happy Friday the 13th!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Quick Update

Market tanked pretty hard yesterday, and as expected, most of my positions were clobbered. The Wynn Resorts (WYNN) trading position actually held up amidst the market sell-off, and closed up for the day.

Today, the market started off really strong, but then the rally fizzled. Fortunately, it was still a very good day for me. My portfolio gets a huge boost whenever Wet Seal (WTSLA), the largest holding, moves up a significant amount. I'm still waiting for mid-$5's to $6 before I sell off another chunk of that one.

Anyway, on a different note, I don't put very much weight on insider selling, but I believe that insider buying is worth keeping an eye on. Today, I noticed that a new SEC filing for Wynn regarding insider buying was posted up. It looks like one of Wynn's directors, Alvin Shoemaker, picked up a thousand shares at $88.68 yesterday. I hope this bodes well for the near-term, because this is a substantial trading position for me, as I've already stated in my original posting.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Catching Falling Knives -- A Trade

Picked up a piece of Wynn Resorts (WYNN) at 88.20. This is purely a trade. I don't intend to hold this for that long. I'll likely be out of it before the end of this month. Let me say that I really don't follow technicals much, because I'm sure that all the technician types out there think I'm a nut trying to buy a stock that is in a bit of a free fall. Shares have fallen 20% in less than a month.

I can't call the stock cheap, but I also don't quite believe that size of a haircut is justified based on a decrease in activity due to fuel and economy problems or on new fears related to the increases in their Macau operation costs due to larger junket commissions. Maybe there are other factors, but based on watching this stock in the recent months, it seems that these two factors are responsible for the most recent leg down.

It's a big enough piece that I will have to be careful and keep a watchful eye. Anyway, I guess that's all for now.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Weekend in LA

I was down in LA over the weekend... I mostly kicked it with the JC and my sister, but I also got a chance to meet up with Duke, and some other peeps, including the Godfather.

Anyway, on Saturday morning, a bunch of us went to the Royal/T in Culver City. It's an art place that recently opened up a cafe. The cafe is inspired by the maid cafes in Japan, but apparently it's not anything close to the real thing. Maid cafes of Japan cater mostly to the anime geek subculture and also other fetishists, and they really pamper you. At this place, it was mostly bubbly personality waitresses dressed up in maid outfits.

The food was nothing to really write home about, but I heard the teas were excellent. I had a small taste, and I would have to agree. Anyway, there was a lot of interesting art, including quite a few Louis Vuitton art pieces by Takashi Murakami. After reading a bit about him, I have to say that his art definitely fits the venue.

Here's a pic of some of the art that was there.

The next night, JC and I went to Shiro in South Pasadena. They are famous for their signature dish, which is a whole sizzling catfish served in ponzu sauce and cilantro. Before I get to the food pics, let me just say that the service was excellent, and the ambience was nice.

We started with a shared appetizer, the Chinese Ravioli Stuffed with Shrimp in a Shiitake Mushroom Sauce. This dish was absolutely delicious. It was so rich and so creamy. It was just warm goodness all over. If I could eat this as a main course, I totally would. It was really that good... makes me hungry just thinking about it.

JC had New Zealand Lamb Chops with Mint and Garlic. I had a small taste, and I have to say it was very good. Nothing extraordinary, but it was definitely well prepared and tasted great.

I am not usually a catfish fan, but I figure it would be a shame if I didn't go for their signature dish. So, I ordered up the extra large catfish. It was excellent. The sauce and the cilantro went very well together, and the ginger that they stuffed between the meat really added to the flavor. I can understand why people rave about it, because I don't think I've ever had catfish that tasted this good before. It was also a good amount of food, so I definitely left there feeling quite full.

And, finally, here's the restaurant's popular dessert. It is a sweet dessert made of wonton skins and yuzu custard, topped with poached pears and also included some fresh berries. It was a bit sweet for me, but anyone that loves sweet desserts is sure to love it. I liked it, but I can't say it's my favorite, but I am the wrong person to ask about it, since it's just not the type of dessert I prefer.

Anyway, here's the final photo.

So, Sunday rolls around, and a few of us went to the Baja Cantina for some drinks. That place is always packed when we drive by it, and none of us had ever been there. It was pretty chill, and the margaritas were tasty. Other than that, it was just a pretty normal place to have a drink not too far from the beach.

And, then... the weekend ended.

MMA for Bugs

If you like Mixed Martial Arts, you might also be interested in the arthropod equivalent. I am now presenting to you the coolest set of MMA videos ever... Japanese Bug Fighting!

Some of the coolest matches involve some really nasty looking centipedes. Anyway, here's one of a mantis fighting a spider.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Quick Update

Market is selling off pretty good today. Last couple of days were awesome for the Wet Seal (WTSLA) with shares closing at $5 yesterday, but it's selling off a fair bit today along with the entire market. Today, Credit Suisse reiterated their Outperform rating and increased their target price to $6.

A snippet from their report:

With Wet Seal’s recent top line momentum in this challenging retail environment, we have further confidence that the co. has earnings upside driven by expense initiatives and easy sales and gross margin comparisons (especially in 2H08). Trading at 10x our F09E (and even less when considering the $1-$2/share in cash/NOL), the stock is attractively valued.

Also, I realized I neglected to mention this, but not long ago, I averaged down on Citigroup (C) and my updated cost basis is 22.60. I am not looking to add any more to that one. I'm willing to hold it for a while. Today's not so good though, as now it's trading in the 20.30's.

--- Edit #1 ---

The pain is over... for now. What a sick sell-off. Not cool when oil spikes like it did, and the jobs data hurts instead of helps. Brutal day for me. The Seal gave back most of its gains from the last two sessions. At least it's up for the week, moving from 4.48 to 4.65.

All but one of my holdings was red today. Talk about swimming in a sea of blood. The one bright spot was Manitowoc (MTW), which managed to go up by about two-thirds of a percent.

Anyway, not a good way to end the week, but it is what it is. Have a nice weekend.

--- Edit #2 ---

If I'm going to give an update, I might as well update on everything.

Stifel Nicolaus started Mattel (MAT) at a Buy and Hasbro (HAS) at a Hold.

They say that the toy industry, while mature, is profitable with generally favorable underlying trends, including modest pricing leverage, share gains, improving demographics in the U.S., as well as opportunities in emerging markets. The research note mentions that these should lend support to low to mid single digit revenue growth for industry participants. Specifically to Mattel, the analyst says that the company is well-positioned to benefit from in the preschool category over the longer term and that its profit margins are expected to rebound going forward. They also mention the company’s operating leverage being significant.

The board at General Electric (GE) authorized the quarterly dividend today. The ex-dividend date is June 19, which is two days prior to the options expiration. Given how much GE has fallen since we entered our buy-write position, the dividend date doesn't really play much of a role any more. Anyway, I'm out of here (for real this time).

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Guess I Should Cash Out

The Guess? (GES) earnings roulette trade I made has paid off handsomely. Got in at 37.98 with less than 15 minutes before the market closed yesterday, and just now I exited at 42.67 for a lovely 12.3% gain. Even for a small position, that's a good chunk of change. Yay!

It looks as though the large short interest was causing a bit of a squeeze in the stock. So, I probably could have put in a trailing stop of some sort for even more gains, as now the shares are up above $43. But, I'm not that greedy. So I took profits while the taking was good.

And, at least for now, the Wet Seal (WTSLA) is moving higher for an added portfolio bonus. Anyway, have a great day!

--- Edit #1 ---

Well, the day got real good with the Seal closing at the high of the day... $4.77. This is a real nice surprise given that teen retailers are generally lower today. And, the broader market (S&P 500) is flat. Gotta love it.

The only real stinker for me today was Citigroup (C). Might need to throw in the towel on at some point, but I remain hopeful that this financial sector trouble will pass.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Earnings Roulette

Pretty steep mid-day sell off in the market today. Too bad I didn't hold onto any Lehman (LEH) shorts. I only fooled around a little with small shorts over the past few trading days, but didn't make a killing or anything.

Anyway, since I'm in the gambling mood...

Picked up a small piece (tiny, actually) of Guess? (GES) at 37.98 ahead of today's earnings announcement. I believe there's a fair chance that it will move higher just based on the current pessimistic view. I would think that even a neutral report would push it higher, but I obviously don't feel that strongly about this hence the size of the trade.

Current estimates are for $0.46 on revs of $451.6MM in Q1, and $0.47 on $456.3MM revs in Q2.

If this turns out to be a J. Crew (JCG) earnings call, then I lose... simple as that.

--- Edit #1 ---

Looks like GES came in well ahead of the Q1 estimates. $0.51 EPS on $465.7MM. Also, it seems that their guidance is in line for Q2.

Shares are trading above $40 now. So, barring a disaster on the actual call, looks like I'll be getting out of this one for a small, but decent, gain.

Binaural Recording

Okay, this is just freaking cool. You need headphones, and don't worry it's not some weird prank thing with loud noise to scare you. This is a special type of recording method called binaural recording that apparently dates back to the late 1800's.

Anyway, turn up your sound a little bit and put on headphones. Close your eyes when you listen to the recording. It really is amazing.

The algorithm used for this particular recording is called Cetera.

Here's the audio in YouTube video format. Remember, close your eyes and use headphones.

And, here's one that tries to demonstrate the difference between stereo and binaural.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Patrick McGovern

So, before today, I didn't really know much about Patrick McGovern. He's not a household name despite being one of the richest people in the world. He is the founder of International Data Group, and he seems like a fascinating character in addition to being a straight up badass.

Anyway, I read the transcript of interview with him from August 2000. I thought it was interesting, so I figured I'd share: PATRICK J. MCGOVERN ORAL HISTORY.