Another factor particularly in the United States
Another factor, particularly in the United States, has traditionally been hurricane season. In fact, hurricane season is largely how Brian Hunter made such a killing in 2005—specifically, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the epic one-two punch that knocked down gas production in the Gulf of Mexico from about 10 to 4 billion cubic feet per day (bcf/d). Ironically, the hurricane season is also what brought Hunter down. In May 2006, US meteorologists predicted another “very active” season, with eight to ten hurricanes. The trader figured he could reprise his performance the previous year, and he was confident enough to leverage his positions heavily—that is, he used a lot of borrowed money to place his bets. As the summer wore on, however, the hurricane season was proving to be an unusually quiet one, and storage levels of natural gas—another factor that influences price—were rising. By late September, the price had plummeted, nearly halving its value in three months. Amaranth was bleeding money, as the fund’s margin requirements—the money its lenders could ask to back its positions—ballooned with every stumble in price. Lesson 2: Choose carefully the data on which you base your investment decisions. Depending on some numbers is a gamble. Take Hunter’s bet that the 2006 hurricane season would generate the storms to boost natural gas prices: he based his position on data he couldn’t analyze directly—the meteorological prediction of eight to ten hurricanes, with at least a few of Category 3 or higher. As it turned out, not a single hurricane that year blew ashore in the United States. Before we recommend a company to invest in, we put it through the analytical wringer based on the Casey 8 Ps: People, Property, Phinancing, Paper, Promotion, Politics, Push, and Price. Instead of just tracking how the stock has performed in past and current market conditions, we dig deep into what makes it move, what could make it move, and why. If a company makes it through this kind of direct, nuts-and-bolts analysis, we’re confident that we’ve gleaned the best insights possible into its prospects as a moneymaker for us. One company has done just that, and made it past all our investment filters. We know the management team very well, and everything they told us was confirmed through our research and analysis. On September 5, 2014, we recommended a company in the Casey Energy Report, and we’re now sitting on a 100% gain (those who follow the world of energy will remember that it was a 75% gain just last week). There is a reason why this company is Doug Casey’s biggest bet of the year… and why we’re still pounding the table. From our numbers, there is significantly more room for the stock to run up. To find out what stock this is, sign up for the Casey Energy Report at no risk with our full money-back trial guarantee. If you don’t like the portfolio or don’t make money on it—or our superstar pick—over the first three months, just cancel your subscription and we’ll issue a prompt refund, no questions asked. We’re that confident. Sign up today to start getting outsized profits in the energy sector. When someone tries to corner a commodity, he makes use of the anonymous nature of futures trading. The person accumulates a large position that calls for delivery in a particular month and waits until the delivery date. The person on the other side of the futures trade has the contractual obligation for delivery, but most of the time the contracts are settled beforehand. This is not the case when someone tries to corner the market. The buyer of the contracts waits until very close to the delivery date and states that he wishes to take delivery. The party who is committed to make the delivery must now choose to either pay the charges for delivery or buy back the contracts at a large premium. This can be a sleazy move. Probably one of the most famous stories of cornering a market gone wrong is the Hunt Brothers and their quest for silver dominance. In 1979, Nelson Bunker Hunt and William Herbert Hunt, sons of Texas billionaire H.L. Hunt, attempted to corner the silver market. By 1980, they amassed half of the world’s deliverable silver supply, causing the price to rise from $1.95 per ounce to $49.50 per ounce. This brought everyone out of the woodwork. Old mines were revived, silver coins were being melted down, and Grandma’s silverware was being peddled. Things were still going well for the Hunts… until “Silver Thursday.” On Thursday, March 27, 1980, a sharp fall in silver prices caused worldwide panic, and the Hunts were hit with a $100 million margin call. Silver prices dropped by 50%, and the Hunts were unable to come up with the dough. Nelson was forced to declare bankruptcy and was subsequently convicted for manipulating the market. He famously told his sister, “I was just trying to make some money.” You would think cornering markets is something of the past, considering how large and global the commodities market is. But this hasn’t stopped traders in their crazy quest. Not surprisingly, those who have tried have failed spectacularly. One trade that comes to mind is that of Brian Hunter, who went from small-time Albertan to one of the most envied traders on Wall Street. In 2005, Brian Hunter was on top of his game and one of the world’s top traders, ranking 29th out of 100 on a list published by the now defunct Trader Monthly. Hunter, 32 at the time, was paid out an estimated $100 million and generated over $1 billion in profits for his fund, Amaranth Advisors, betting on natural gas futures. Just one year later, Brian Hunter made the news again, this time for losing a staggering $6.5 billion and earning the honor of having the greatest trading loss of all time (it has since been topped twice over during the 2008 financial crisis). He rocked the financial world and earned himself a permanent spot in the history books. As it happens, Brian Hunter can teach us some lessons to apply to our investment strategy. Lesson 1: The natural gas markets are unpredictable. A host of factors can move natural gas prices, and these factors can work in concert or alone. One is seasonality: demand for gas typically peaks during cold winter months, with another, smaller peak in summer when air conditioners are working hard.