Thursday, April 30, 2009

HSX: Week of May 1, 2009

Summer is here! At least in the movies. Blockbuster season is about to start! Get your Summer 2009 Blockbuster Warrants!

But first, the weekend. Let's get the small stuff out of the way first, shall we? An indie animated movie called Battle for Terra (TERRA) is being released, and someone's going to lose money. Probably the people who financed it: "indie" and "animation" is usually not a good combination. It's about cute aliens facing evil humans, who are trying to take over their planet. How low are the expectations? HSX didn't even float options. It reached a high this year of H$8.83, and is down today to H$6.49. Oh that's not good. There are some recognizable names in the voice cast, which is not surprising. This is a no-lose deal for someone like Brian Cox or Amanda Peet. They can do the work in just a couple of days, get paid maybe $100,000, and then walk away. Since you can't see them, no one will associate them with it if it's a flop. Not a bad deal. For whoever is making the movie, you can get a decent number of names for a fraction of what Brad Pitt's agent would make on a live action movie. Critics are actually somewhat favorable, with a 58% rating on So maybe there's hope. But maybe not. It is coming out on 3-D, but even kids can see through a gimmick.
Stock: Short

Matthew McConaughney in a romantic comedy - sound familiar? Yes, but: toss in the classic Dickens tale about three ghosts haunting someone to get them to change their ways, and you have "Ghosts of Girlfriends Past" (GHOGP), about one of those guys who loves and leaves 'em and his inability to commit. Quite the high concept we have going here. Maybe not. Stock is at H$48.34. about a buck and a half off the high. Movement has been moderately upward. Jennifer Garner brings some adult sensibility and a touch of class. But she is - quite literally - in the "girlfriend" role. Of course, so are several other actresses, all of whom get to wreak some havoc on Mr. McConaughney. For this movie to work, it has to attract a fair share of women. I'm not so sure on that score. The reviews are not bad - they're terrible. 10% on rottentomatoes? Haven't seen that in a while. The strike price is H$15, which it could crack easily if the stock price is accurate. It needs to make about $18 million to hit the stock. Call is H$4.47, but down. Put is around H$1, also down. The options are clearly following the stock. For this movie to work, it has to attract a certain percentage of professional women, who tend to have a certain degree of sophistication. I think this is the moment when Matthew McConaughney becomes a parody of himself. My guess is that he has jumped the shark.
Stock: Short
Call: Short
Put: Long

And then, of course, we have the movie millions have been waiting for, the chance for so many people to have fun with the X-Men movies again, after the disaster that was X-Men 3. Shudder. Wolverine (WOLVE) tells the story of how the guy with the funky fingers got the way he is. Woo hoo! Sign me up! The stock is trading at $H225, mostly up in recent weeks. Strike price is $H80, right about where it should be. Call is actually down today, but that's because it was above H$9. The put, interestingly enough, is not underwater, but is at H$2.52. Someone's taking some risks. The strike price predicts a stock price of $H216, so they're fairly close. The call predicts a price of about $H240. So, let's see, what does this movie have going for it? A huge fan base from the first movie, a wildly popular movie star, and the first big action blockbuster of the summer. Other than that, not much. One of the main villains is Liev Schreiber, who used to be cast as the sensitive Jewish guy. We're a long way from the days of Woody Allen meeting cute with Diane Keaton. Of course, we're also a long way from the days of Moshe Dayan, so maybe the movies are catching up with the reality of the Middle East. As for the details of this movie: it's at 42% on (as if that matters). How wide is it being released? How wide can you get? Try 4,000+ screens.
Stock: Long
Call: Long
Put: Short

Update Sunday night: It was a good weekend for predictions here at TEQP. I just about nailed everything, except the Put on GHOGP. TERRA was, in fact, a bomb, Matthew McConaughey survived, but not by much, and WOLVE did, in fact, bust wide open. WOLVE dropped by about H$8 on Friday morning, which I usually take as a sign that the stock is going to adjust downwards. This time I stuck with it, and boy am I glad I did - it adjusted up by H$17. Feels good.

And for your viewing pleasure, ladies and gentlemen, the mascot of the University of Michigan:


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