62 episodes

Alpha Trader taps into topics and trends offering in-depth analysis of the market from the perspective of a trader. Hosted by former Seeking Alpha VP of Content Aaron Task and Seeking Alpha Managing Editor of News, Stephen Alpher, the show will feature discussions of the latest news and regular guests from among the smartest traders in the market today.

Alpha Trader Seeking Alpha

    • Investing
    • 4.0 • 5 Ratings

Alpha Trader taps into topics and trends offering in-depth analysis of the market from the perspective of a trader. Hosted by former Seeking Alpha VP of Content Aaron Task and Seeking Alpha Managing Editor of News, Stephen Alpher, the show will feature discussions of the latest news and regular guests from among the smartest traders in the market today.

    Bitcoin wins institutional acceptance, supplants gold - Dan Held joins Alpha Trader

    Bitcoin wins institutional acceptance, supplants gold - Dan Held joins Alpha Trader

    This week's Alpha Trader podcast features hosts Aaron Task and Stephen Alpher talking Bitcoin (BTC-USD) with Dan Held, an old hand in cryptocurrency, who is currently growth head at crypto exchange, Krakenfx.
    Held has been in Bitcoin since it was $10, so what does he think about this year's run that has taken its value north of $18K, and how does it differ from the crypto's other major bull markets? Institutional acceptance of Bitcoin is the key, says Held, noting not just hedge fund legends like Paul Tudor Jones and Stanley Druckenmiller as new hodlers (particularly Jones), but Rick Riedler, the CIO of fixed income for the world's largest asset manager, BlackRock.
    One hedge funder not yet convinced is Ray Dalio, who is of an open mind on Bitcoin, but wonders if governments could just ban it at some point. "You can't kill an idea," says Held, who addressed that very issue in a tweetstorm late last week. The very nature of Bitcoin and de-centralization, he says, makes it highly difficult for governments to outlaw it, even if they wanted to. Held suspects that if Dalio takes the time to further study Bitcoin, he'll become as big of a fan as some of his institutional brethren.
    Held also addresses Bitcoin as "Gold 2.0," i.e. similar but way better than gold (XAUUSD:CUR) in terms of being a hedge against money printing and an overreaching government. He reminds that Bitcoin's supply can never exceed 21M - increasing prices may result in increased attention, but it doesn't result in boosted supplies. The exact opposite is the case with gold - higher prices almost assuredly bring about higher supplies. Also, Bitcoin by its nature can be explicitly verified with very little effort. Gold? Do you fancy carrying a spectrometer around? Never mind the ease with which Bitcoin can be held in our own personal custody and transported.
    There's plenty more, including a discussion of Ethereum (ETH-USD), the "religion" of Bitcoin and why it's a good thing, and Held's thoughts on Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto.
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    • 43 min
    Value's time arrives - Eddy Elfenbein joins Alpha Trader

    Value's time arrives - Eddy Elfenbein joins Alpha Trader

    This week's Alpha Trader podcast features hosts Aaron Task and Stephen Alpher speaking with Eddy Elfenbein, portfolio manager of the AdvisorShares Focused Equity ETF (CWS), and editor of the must-read Crossing Wall Street blog. His Buy List of 25 stocks - it only gets changed once per year on January 1 - has a 14-year compounded gain of 309.6% vs. the S&P 500's 247.1%.
    One of the key questions before the court is whether - after all these years of underperformance - value is finally having its day vs. growth. This time is real, argues Elfenbein, noting value has been outperforming since September. The initial boost for value was thanks to market shudders post-Labor Day that drove high-fliers like Tesla (TSLA) sharply lower. More recently, the positive news about vaccines has investors selling work-from-home plays, and buying re-opening/value sectors like financials, travel, energy, and mall REITs.
    Turning to stocks he owns, Elfenbein says Disney's (DIS) investment in streaming has paid off. The company surprised all by turning a profit in Q3, with a whopping 73.5M streaming subscribers. Disney, says Elfenbein, is now a streaming service a la Netflix (NLFX), but with amusement park and film production businesses on the side. The stock's been on a big run of late - rising about 20% just this month - but Elfenbein would be a buyer right now all the way up to $150 (shares closed at $144.67 on Monday).
    More generally, Elfenbein loves companies with a strong market niche and strong competitive advantage. Other names on the Buy List are Aflac (AFL), which does about 75% of its business in Japan and has lifted its dividend every year for decades. Another stock is Moody's (MCO), with Elfenbein noting the only thing better than a monopoly is a near-monopoly - and Moody's fits that description.
    There's plenty more, including Charlie Munger making the bull case for Disney as only Charlie Munger can, why Elfenbein is a big fan of Ross Stores (ROST) despite its lack of online presence, and just a taste of a preview of what changes he might be making to his Buy List in December.
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    • 39 min
    Vaccine developments knock election news off front page - Scott Martin joins Alpha Trader

    Vaccine developments knock election news off front page - Scott Martin joins Alpha Trader

    This week's Alpha Trader podcast features hosts Aaron Task and Stephen Alpher talking with Scott Martin, head of research at Kramer Capital Research.
    What might have been an episode focusing on the ramifications of last week's elections instead was dominated by Monday morning's vaccine update - Pfizer and BioNTech announcing positive preliminary data for their Covid-19 candidate. That news sent the Dow higher by more than 5% and the S&P 500 more than 3.5% at the time of recording. The Nasdaq - which housed many of the pandemic-favorite, work-from-home names - was in the red.
    Martin reminds that the Pfizer news might not be the golden bullet that ends the pandemic, and suggests the market may be over-reacting (indeed, by the close on Monday, the S&P had more than halved its early gain and the Nasdaq closed down 1.5%). He also notes that e-commerce isn't going away. A stock like Chewy (CHWY) - which fell nearly 12% on Monday - might be thought of as a pandemic stock, but it's really the future of pet supplies. Investors who missed the rip this year might be getting a buying opportunity.
    Treasurys are trash, says Martin. Why lock in an (inflation-adjusted) loss, says Martin, when names like Pfizer (PFE), General Mills (GIS), Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) - practically as safe as the government - yield plenty more?
    Getting to an election-related idea, the hosts and Martin discuss how to play the potential national de-criminalization of cannabis. Stay away from the growers, says Martin, as that's a commodity business. Instead, look for ways to invest in the consumer angle - gummies, edibles, soaps. Procter & Gamble (PG), Unilver (UL), General Mills may all get involved. As for pot names, Martin has been and continues to be a fan of Aphria (APHA) - medicinal, growing market share, into conventional pharma sales in Europe, and nearing profitability. Under any circumstances, Martin believes marijuana investments should be minor positions around one's major holdings.
    Listen to or subscribe to Alpha Trader on these podcast platforms:

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    Google Play

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    • 26 min
    Uncertainty to last long beyond Election Day - Steve Sosnick joins Alpha Trader

    Uncertainty to last long beyond Election Day - Steve Sosnick joins Alpha Trader

    This week's Alpha Trader podcast features hosts Aaron Task and Stephen Alpher talking the day before the election with Steve Sosnick, chief strategist at Interactive Brokers.
    There's at least a modest amount of conventional wisdom out there that volatility (VIX) - which has been elevated for several weeks and spiked dramatically higher during last week's big market selloff - will return to normal levels after the election. After all, despite a lot of dramatic chatter, there's every reason to believe we'll know the winner of the presidential election, and the majority in Congress soon after. That means markets can start discounting a big fiscal stimulus, and there's still the Fed at ZIRP for as far as the eye can see.
    Steve Sosnick would take exception to that thinking. First, he's not positive a stimulus will be agreed upon if the government remains divided. Stimulus is clearly more likely in the event of a "Blue Wave," but the inauguration isn't until Jan. 20 - it could be months before any money flows from this.
    And concerning that Blue Wave, stimulus fans may want to be careful what they wish for, says Sosnick. A Biden-led government is likely to raise capital gains taxes, and thus investors' first reaction to the news next week (should that come to pass) might be to sell.
    Sosnick's suggestion for those wanting to sell some volatility is to have a look at put options on the VIX in March, for instance. By the middle of 2021's Q1, there will surely be a lot more visibility on stimulus, and a Covid vaccine and/or treatment. Volatility should be down, and those puts will rise in value.
    There's plenty more, including why Sosnick thinks the Fed is nervous, but not enough to explore the "nuclear options" like negative rates or outright purchases of common stocks.
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    • 45 min
    Handicapping election scenarios - Scott Bauer and Chris Zaccarelli join Alpha Trader

    Handicapping election scenarios - Scott Bauer and Chris Zaccarelli join Alpha Trader

    This week's Alpha Trader features hosts Aaron Task and Stephen Alpher talking with Scott Bauer, CEO of Prosper Trading Academy, and Chris Zaccarelli, chief investment officer at Independent Investor Alliance.
    First up is Bauer, who in two previous appearances on Alpha Trader made prescient bullish calls on gold (last November) and mega-cap tech (last July). He remains bullish on both, though cognizant that Covid and election news could provide some volatility.
    Try to look past that, says Bauer, and remember 1) the Fed has assured zero rates for well into the future, and 2) there's going to be a fiscal stimulus deal of some sort, whether it comes in the lame duck session, or early 2021. Also consider the chance that a vaccine and/or effective treatment becomes available, and we have a third prong of the argument for higher share prices.
    Bauer's a Chicago guy, so of course the conversation moved towards the subject of volatility. Volatility (VIX) has come down of late, but remains elevated, and probably about where it ought to be given all the news out there (and potential for even more news), says Bauer. Should the election be calmly settled next Tuesday night though, there's potential for a crash in the VIX.
    Zaccarelli has similar thoughts to Bauer on volatility, but is a bit more wary that we're going to wake up next Wednesday morning to a nicely settled election result. It's not enough to make him bearish, but he is advising clients to reduce risk by taking some money out of the hot-handed growth names, and putting it into some blander value plays. Think financials (NYSEARCA:XLF), industrials (NYSEARCA:XLI), and materials (NYSEARCA:XLB), instead of tech (NYSEARCA:XLK) and communication services.
    Investors should also consider the upside surprise of a "blue wave" in the election. Yes, there may be higher capital gains taxes and corporate taxes, but the extent of how those might hurt stock prices isn't assured. Instead, investors may want to focus on just how big of a fiscal stimulus package might get passed early next year if the Democrats control Congress and the White House (remember 2009).
    There's plenty more, including Bauer's super-simple explanation about how to interpret the VIX in terms of stock market movement, and Zaccarelli's argument for why energy (NYSEARCA:XLE) is very much not a buy even at these low levels.
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    • 55 min
    Massive opportunity in 'digital transformation' - Jon Markman joins Alpha Trader

    Massive opportunity in 'digital transformation' - Jon Markman joins Alpha Trader

    This week's Alpha Trader podcast features hosts Aaron Task and Stephen Alpher talking (mostly) tech with Jon Markman, founder and president of Markman Capital Insight.
    Before getting into individual stock picks, Markman first looks at the big picture: Going back about 80 years, whenever the Fed steps in to put the brakes on a bear market, one should expect the averages to go up five times over the following ten years. The Fed helped end the bear market, says Markman, on March 23 this year. Applying that 5x multiple to what the Dow (DJI) and the Nasdaq (COMP) were that day leads to 91,000 on the Dow and almost 34,000 on the Nasdaq in roughly 10 years.
    Before considering that extreme, consider that the S&P 500 (SP500) bottomed in 2009 at 666. Markman's target then for that index was 3,330, which was hit late in 2019.
    This, of course, doesn't mean that there will be any number of scares and sizable corrections along the way. These should be thought of as buying opportunities, particularly for those companies leading and benefitting from the "digital transformation," which Markman defines as the use of data and software to build new business models.
    A great example of this is Netflix (NFLX), which over two decades went from being a mail-order DVD business to offering bits of data in the cloud. Tap an image on your electronic device of choice, and the show begins. The company has 193M customers, a $234B market cap, and a stock that's up something like 15,000% over 20 years - all from harnessing the digital revolution.
    As you might imagine given the major wave he's talking about, Markman doesn't have a ton of interest in Netflix's earnings this week. Over the next 10-20 years, Netflix and others leading the digital revolution - think Amazon (AMZN), Peloton (PTON), and Zoom Video (ZM) to name just three - are all going to be multi-baggers (though Peloton and Zoom might be due for a correction).
    Now the above are very well-known (and hot) names. Maybe not as well-known, but with an equally great opportunity, is a player like Schrodinger (SDGR), a company delivering healthcare using digital tools. Another digital healthcare play is
    For those wishing to ride the digital revolution, but undecided about which horse to ride, Markman suggests Visa (V) and Mastercard (MA) as - more than any other companies - perfectly levered to e-commerce and the transformation of money to software.
    Other digital transformation long ideas discussed in the podcast, include The Trade Desk (TTD), a platform for the buying and selling of digital ad inventory, and enterprise workflow platform operator ServiceNow (NOW). Both have eye-popping charts, but massive opportunity over the next decade still awaits.
    We couldn't let Markman go without comment on two tech megacaps - Microsoft (MSFT) and Apple (AAPL). He's a fan of Microsoft, giving its post-Ballmer management kudos for moving the focus of the company away from selling devices and instead selling into the high-margin areas of digital space. He's not bullish on Apple though, worried about waning iPhone sales, and questioning the ability of the company to replace that revenue with other devices and services.
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    • 40 min

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