The Secret Broker: Some notes on bottom-picking and what it means to be properly hammered
“And get yourself something” was what the new junior on the desk was told by a trader, as he went around the desk to get everyone’s breakfast order and was handed the company credit card.
It was a customary saying as he was the junior earning peanuts and we had all started out at this level.
He left the office with his order pad and appeared two hours later with cold coffee and soggy bacon rolls… wearing a new Parker jacket.
The trader did his nut and starting shouting and throwing cold bacon rolls at him. All he got in reply was: “You told me to get something so I brought myself a new coat.”
He had outsmarted the top trader on his second day and we all took him for a pint (including the trader, who saw the funny side) and he got quickly promoted.
We never really knew if he had misunderstood the saying.
Talking of which, I used a term in an earlier article, which some people seemed to like, so I thought some more ‘broker talk’ could be of use. Some you may know and some you may not and they are not in any order, as brokers prefer chaos and randomness, otherwise they would be called an analyst.
The term I am referring to was ‘Up by the escalator and down by the elevator’ and this week we saw a classic graph of this produced by Actinogen Medical (ASX:ACW), a biotech company whose phase II clinical trial failed.
As you can see from the graph, it slowly rose up the escalator and then came screaming down the escalator before the safety cable took grip:
‘Buy with your ears pinned back’ conjures up the image of your dog hanging out of the car window with the wind blowing back its ears. In trader terms that’s what it means, run as fast as you can to get to your screen and hit the buy button before anyone else can and be aggressive.
There was a time, believe it not, when mobile phones didn’t exist. We actually had to run to the office after a big fat lunch with a hot tip thank you, just to get in first. Very painful.
‘Hammered’ is normally a term associated with Friday afternoon drinks that lead into an early Saturday cab ride home but in this case it’s a term used when a broker cannot meet their settlement obligations. So the exchange steps in first thing the next day and closes all their open positions.
Think of Nick Leeson and Barings, the 200-year-old bank he managed to single-handedly blow up. His hammer hit the exchanges Nuclear Launch button.
’10 Bagger’ does not mean the amount of plastic bags you now need to remember to do a normal shop at Woolies. It’s for a person who expects to make 10 times their normal investment punt.
One bag of cash in and 10 bags of cash out, to carry to the bank. A very hard thing to do on the ASX, unless you can find some nice options, with the right amount of gearing.
‘Bed and Breakfast’. Not a one-night stand but it’s the term used for tax loss crystallisation. Ahead of the tax year end, you sell a stock you hold at a loss just before the close (bed) and buy it back just after the next day’s opening (breakfast).
You can write the loss against any gains, so you can fight to live another day. If the stock is suspended, just transfer it to the mother in law. And don’t sell on a Friday to leave yourself exposed over a weekend.
‘Full Moon Fever’. Ask anyone who works in a hospital on the nightshifts when a full moon is occurring, and they’ll confirm they are literally a nightmare.
Believe it – the same applies for Wall Street. A full moon has been known to create wild swings on the indices. If you can find an astrologer who is also a chartist, then you will see the effect.
Always fun if you have some option expiry contracts happening.
‘Bottom Picking’ is a classic term we would use when phoning up our posher clients, to explain that our firm has picked today as the bottoming out of a recent sharp fall.
“Morning Lady Fischer, our firm is recommending some bottom picking today.”
We all loved it and looked forward to sharp falls, so we could get some relief from the grief.
‘The trend is your friend’. Back to Bitcoin and the old flared trousers again.
If a trend is happening, go along for the ride… until your early Saturday morning cab driver starts telling you about crypto, lithium, cobalt or whatever trend you are currently now an expert in.
‘Sell in May and Go Away’ is more of a term for the European markets, as they head into summer and the busy horse racing calendar. In Australia, it would be ‘Remember the 15th December’ as everything closes down till Australia Day.
And finally, ‘Window Dressing’. David Jones used to pride themselves on their window displays, as would your communal fund manager.
That’s because if they can dress up a stock they hold, on the day that their Funds Under Management (FUM) fees are calculated, then create a bigger management fee. A little tickle here and a little tickle there, can add millions to their income.
A bit harder to do these days, as they are being watched and have been known to have been pulled up.
The Secret Broker can be found on Twitter here. Feel free to contact him with your best stock tips, to help finance his ongoing consumption of the very finest single malts and cuban cigars.