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Daily Newsletter, Monday, 06/12/2000

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The Option Investor Newsletter                  Monday  06-12-2000
Copyright 2000, All rights reserved.
Redistribution in any form strictly prohibited.

Posted online for subscribers at http://www.OptionInvestor.com
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MARKET WRAP  (view in courier font for table alignment)
******************************************************************
       6-12-2000           High     Low     Volume Advance Decline
DOW    10564.20 -  49.90 10652.60 10564.20   758,275k 1,402  1,481
Nasdaq  3767.91 - 106.96  3892.05  3767.88 1,280,486k 1,530  2,563
S&P-100  774.25 -   5.45   774.25   774.25    Totals  2,932  4,044
S&P-500 1446.00 -  10.95  1462.95  1446.00            42.0%  58.0%
$RUT     508.51 -  14.55   523.79   508.20
$TRAN   2781.50 -   8.67  2815.90  2779.40
VIX       25.37 +   0.18    25.94    24.82
Put/Call Ratio       .48
******************************************************************

No Investor Commitment Keeps Prices in Flat to Down Mode

Not a day for the record books, but certainly one for the 
hammock, investors sent stocks mostly lower today as earnings 
warnings sounded in the technology, raw materials, and retailing 
sectors.  Today's losers include one of Jim's "big ones that got 
away", MSTR, not to mention CTXS, BCC, HD, HLIT, and INKT .  The 
price of oil surging over $31 per barrel and the Justice 
Department's refocus of its anti-trust guns from Microsoft to 
MasterCard didn't help either.  The latter isn't as big of a deal 
in the immediate picture.  Still, what the heck happened?

Starting with MSTR (-23.31, $38.88), Merrill Lynch submarined 
this recently re-floated boat by blasting last week's financing 
hype and noting that it sees no change in the fundamentals or the 
financing of the company.  It noted too that customers were 
holding back from purchases pending more clarity on their 
accounting issues.  Ouch!  Recall that it was news of MSTR 
receiving a new round of financing that popped the stock back 
over $60 last week.  

Not to be outdone, CTXS delivered the Street its biggest 
disappointment by announcing before the markets opened today that 
they would not come close to meeting estimates of $0.21.  Instead 
look for $0.09-$0.11.  The announcement certainly helps explain 
why their CFO didn't show for a Paine Webber Tech and Growth 
conference last week.  Short sellers moved on his no show.  Even 
if he'd attended, it would have been tough to dodge the hard 
questions in that environment.  Prudential downgraded the issue 
from Accumulate to Hold with a price target of $20.  While no 
honor to hold the title, CTXS was the most heavily traded issue 
today on the NASDAQ at nearly 95 mln shares.  It may be ugly for 
them, but those of you in put plays should be partying hardy 
after today.

And speaking of conferences, HLIT too sank its own battleship by 
noting at a CBIC Open Markets conference that AT&T, one of its 
largest customers was spending less money on its cable products 
as a percentage of revenues.  Wait a minute, isn't growing 
revenues and less reliance on a single customer a good thing?  
Maybe so, but apparently HLIT did not drive home the point to 
investors' satisfaction.  It might not have mattered anyway as 
investors lately are prone to shoot first and ask questions 
later.  (Aside from HLIT, it bolsters the notion that T has an 
execution problem that it isn't likely to fix soon.)  The buzz 
also had current earnings estimates coming down as a result of 
its Divicom purchase from CUBE.  HLIT said there is no news from 
their end to warrant or justify the drop.  Nonetheless, shares 
finished down $18.69 at $38.75 on volume of 28 mln shares, more 
that 12 times their ADV.

OPEC too chimed in, sending oil traders running straight to the 
bank.  Oil inventories are still sinking despite a reported 
production increase.  The trouble is nobody knows how much extra 
production is going on just yet, and based on the stockpile 
decrease along with OPEC's refusal to announce a boost in 
production until their June 21st meeting, we are witnessing a 
short-term spike in the price of oil.  The perceived effect is 
that it's inflationary and may keep the scales tipped in favor of 
more interest rate hikes by the Fed.  That's great news for oil 
traders, but lousy for those looking for signs that the Fed won't 
hike rates again at the next FOMC meeting.  Paying over $2 per 
gallon of gas in the Midwest isn't good either.

Also on the natural resource front, Boise Cascade warned last 
Friday that it would fall short of earnings too - $0.76 rolled 
back to less than $0.52.  It cited slowing wood product and paper 
sales.  While you might think "big deal, it's just a wood and 
paper company", think of the implications.  The Office Max's and 
Staples of the world are buying less paper.  Not only that, with 
home sales slowing, builder's aren't buying as much raw material; 
neither are home improvement outlets like Home Depot or Lowe's 
(HD was downgraded by ING Baring and another brokerage today on 
softer sales fears).  Retailers like TGT, KMT, CC and WMT have 
already been punished in anticipation of a slowdown.  Hello?  The 
slowdown is here!  And with raw material suppliers just starting 
to report weaker earnings, it will take some time to work to the 
top levels of the economy.

So while investor's mistakenly focus on the Fed's next interest 
rate move, the bigger picture is that a slowdown is in place and 
we aren't looking yet for a return to the robust markets of 
February and March, as earnings will likely continue to come in 
weak throughout more sectors.  Fiber optics may escape punishment 
now and may pay less of a price later on, but that sector too 
will be like Atlas shrugging the weight of the investment world 
on their collective shoulders.  

If you doubt it, just fast forward in your mind to June 29th 
after the next FOMC meeting.  Any increase in rates will be a 
negative for the economy as we still have four of the last six 
rate hikes left to filter through, plus the new one Alphonso the 
Great (Greenspan) announced yesterday (remember, in your mind).  
Voila' - reduced profits.  

Next scenario. . .it's June 29th again, and Alphonso pronounces 
"no rate increase".  Party hats and horns?  Don't bet on it.  
That lack of action will likely also come with an implied 
statement that while inflation is under control, recent hikes are 
slowing the economy.  Voila' - again, reduced profits.

The common element here is reduced profits, which is never good 
for equity prices.  This will be redundant from the weekend Wrap, 
but it bares repeating.  If profits are falling, equities cannot 
rise.  Perhaps that's why Merrill Lynch advised clients today 
that they were moving their model portfolio from 5% cash 
allocation to 0%, and placing that cash in bonds, not equities.  
While we would all like earnings season to prop up the prices, it 
didn't work last quarter and likely won't this quarter either.  
Therefore it behooves us to become good stock pickers looking for 
good entry points.  If you missed Jim's Options 101 titled "Entry 
Point, Entry Point, Entry Point" from yesterday, we strongly urge 
you to review it again.  That is your best defense against Mr. 
Market, and in determining your financial future.  

That's the big picture.  How about the immediate trading future?

Lest we sound like growling bears, it was not all bad news today.  
GLW lit up traders' screens with a bunch of green (+$18, $230) 
after it pre-announced earnings that would exceed the Street's 
estimate of $0.69 with a whopping $0.78 to $0.80 figure.  No 
longer casserole-dish maker to the world (that division purchased 
by Borden in 1998), GLW holds the majority of fiber optic cable 
market share now.  To say that business is growing like a weed 
would be an understatement.  Other stocks including JDSU (+$5, 
$115.56), SDLI (+$11.97, $261.97), NEWP ($+5.75, $85.50), and 
FIBR (+$9.39, $68.15) all moved up in sympathy.  Because this 
sector is in the sweet spot in the Internet/bandwidth revolution, 
it is not seeing the slowdown that is clearly visible in the B2C 
Internet sector.

Barely noticed by the mainstream press, we were also glad to see 
an old favorite QCOM, finally get a foothold in China.  China's 
number three wireless company, China Unicom will adopt QCOM's 
third generation CDMA technology - to which we say smart move.  
QCOM gained $2.63 to close at $81.69.  Anyone notice that QCOM 
has been climbing steadily over the last seven days, whereas the 
rest of the market has declined slightly?  The sellers appear to 
be gone.  Keep this one on your radar - we will too.

Oops, in all the excitement, we almost forgot to report the 
score.  So here goes.  The Dow finished down 49 at 10,564 on the 
second weakest volume day of the year - 774 mln shares.  
Advancers were about even with decliners (1404 and 1488, 
respectively) while 66 new highs edged out 47 new lows.  
Nonetheless, traders favored down volume today at 401 mln shares 
vs. 323 mln for up volume on the NYSE.  Weak volume is indicative 
that traders and investors both lack any sort of conviction for 
raising prices.  The compressing trading range between 10,800 and 
10,300 is still compressing with lows staying flat at 10,300.  We 
had hoped that the Dow might find some support today at 10,600, 
but the lack of it tends to make us think we'll test interim 
support at 10,400, then perhaps a bounce to 10,600 just based on 
the technicals.  For what it's worth, the line connecting the 
highs meets the line connecting the lows on roughly (surprise!) 
June 28th at approximately the 10,500 to 10,600.  Can you say 
sideways trading? 

Speaking of sideways, despite a 107-point loss today, the NASDAQ 
has held a mere 163 point trading range for the last seven days 
trading between 3730 and 3893.  Take out last Wednesday's morning 
dip and the range shrinks to just 133 points.  We can't remember 
when that last happened, but it makes trading dull, dull, dull.  
On such a flat day, it's no surprise that new highs were almost 
dead even with new lows, 78 to 64.  Still, for those who can't 
sit still without trading, this is a punishing time - just ask 
us!  Anyway, the NASDAQ finished down 107 to close at 3761, its 
low of the day on under 1.3 bln shares.  Weak volume and a 
declining finish aren't a good sign for tomorrow's open.  We've 
been pretty vigilant about reminding ourselves of the possibility 
of testing the gap from two weeks ago as it was bound to happen 
soon.  We just don't know when.  So keep your eyes on the 3725 
level.  If we get a bounce from there, NAZ could move back up to 
retest 3875, but the stronger sentiment and technical picture 
point to a retest of 3600.  Today's down volume smashing up 
volume by almost 3:1 lends support to that likelihood.  Be ready.  

In short, to us this feels like that weightless feeling you get 
as the roller-coaster car slows at the top of the track.  It's 
likely investors will bide their time until the FOMC meeting 
despite retail numbers tomorrow and the CPI figures Wednesday, 
both of which should shoe a slowing economy.  While we couldn't 
hazard a guess over the weekend which way the market will move, 
today's action has us leaning toward the downhill side.  Of 
course, no sooner do we say that, then the market taps the low 
end of the range and begins to move upward again continuing the 
rangebound trading pattern.  As I mentioned last week, while Jim 
is saying, "sell too soon", I'm sticking with "don't buy too 
soon" a bit longer.

Buzz Lynn
Research Analyst



**************
TRADERS CORNER 
**************

More On Stochastics
By Austin Passamonte

To be honest I was a bit surprised at the amount of feedback
last week’s little blurb on stochastics generated. Seems like
more than a few traders rely on this tool in some form or 
fashion. Here’s a letter I’d like to share with you:

Austin, 
You're right on the money! It's so nice to have you confirm 
my trading strategy almost exactly. I've been very successful
using candlesticks, stochastics, AND Bollinger Bands. 

I find setting the preferences on the stochastics to 10,(3),5 
really smooth it out. Stochastics are my primary indicator on 
longer term charts like the daily or 60 minute. Short term I 
watch for the %K to cross the %D outside the 80/20% lines as a 
leading indicator. If I'm in doubt then I wait for them to cross
the 80/20% lines. But long term sometimes they can cross at or 
near the 80/20 and still give a good reversal signal. I find 
this to be a very reliable indicator when trading tops and 
bottoms. 

I use 20,2,close on the Bollinger Bands. When the candles 
penetrate and then pull back from the Bands and the other two 
indicators you mentioned are positive, it's sure to be a 
tradable reversal. I've got several filters to prevent false 
readings, place stops, etc. It's not cut and dry unfortunately.
It requires a feel that one gets after months of watching and 
paper trading. 

Thanks for your column. It's very informative and I always 
learn something. (Mike M.) 

Well Mike, thank you for educating me! I’m going to try those
10/5 settings and see what happens vs. 14/3 standard. Your note
also makes several valid points we should elaborate on.

First of all, no technical indicator I’m aware of will stand
alone and let us trade for high profits. I guess that’s why 
there are so many of them... who’d need a plethora if any one
worked 100%. This is a great example of several tools used
together effectively.

I wholeheartedly agree with the part about things not being
cut & dry. Technical analysis is as much art as science. It
does take experience over time to develop a feel for how each
indicator behaves in order to accurately predict what may 
happen next.

By his admission, Mike uses stochastics as a crossover buy/
sell signal with favorable results. I tend to use them as a
market barometer. Daily chart signals show possible tops or 
bottoms in the current direction for markets moving sideways. 
The hint of such a move makes me aware of the given equity’s 
“temperature” and I watch closely for further symptoms from 
there. This chart of the Dow from last Thursday’s close is a 
prime example. I captured it and wrote these words prior to
Monday’s market open. Let’s see if we are confirmed our
remiss in our outlook later:

(Daily chart of Dow after Thursday 6/8 close)

 

The recent rally we’ve enjoyed has shown strength in the NASDAQ 
but hinted at weakness in the Dow. The major index dropped from
a high of 10,823 to close at 10,670, a loss of 153 points from
the true range of the day. This led to the loose formation of 
an “Evening Star” pattern if you squint a little. (The candle 
from Wednesday isn’t a doji, but is engulfed by Thursday’s 
bearish candle. Work with me here, please!)

The same market behavior caused both stochastic lines to bounce
off the 80% mark and turn ever-so-slightly down. Even though 
Nasdaq continued to show strength I’m not totally sold on the
summer rally sprouting long legs. Had stochastics rose above
that 80% mark and flat-lined awhile the market would of course 
been putting in higher highs itself. If this reading is true in
front of the PPI release, it shows anxiety is still alive & well
out there.

Such a brief period of time stochastics spent near 80% may mean
any correction could also be short-lived and smaller than the 
last. The longer this indicator remains buried in an extreme 
zone the more extreme moves are to the opposite when reversal 
occurs.

Please understand that I really want this rally to exist but
If the emperor has no clothes on let’s face it; the fat guy is 
naked and that’s just the way it is. Can you see why I’m leery
of a full-blown, extended rally right now?

(Daily chart of Dow after Monday’s close)

 


(Daily chart of NASDAQ, Monday’s close)

 


We can clearly see how the markets have behaved since 
Thursday’s close. Has any of our foresight come to fruition? 
You decide.

I also use stochastics to enter/exit trades with 10-minute 
charts as well. If I have some call options near or at my 
purchase range I often wait for the slow bar to hit 15% or less 
before entering my buy order. By the time it executes the fast 
line probably hit bottom or turned to move up, getting me in 
near the low of that time frame and hopefully for the day. 

Puts are the exact opposite. I want that slow bar near or at 
90% before I click the order. This seems to give me the best 
chance of buying near the highs for the day during normal 
market conditions, whatever that is lately. This tactic is 
out the window during major capitulation.

I sell options when the fast stochastic line hits near 100% 
for calls and near 0% for puts. Watch this stochastic behavior 
on a 10-minute chart tomorrow and see how price action halts 
immediately after the line hits these extremes. That doesn’t 
mean the move is over for the session but if you want out 
near that price right now you’ll notice it almost always hits 
the maximum for that market when using this method. Don’t trade
it before you verify for yourself, but I’m pretty sure I know 
what you’ll see.

The other indication I use stochastics for is divergence warning.
If stochastics on an hourly or daily chart are making new lows
prior to the last time they were down to this level but the 
underlying isn’t making lower lows, that’s a bullish signal.

By the same token, when stochastics are oversold above recent
highs but the underlying isn’t rallying higher in price, it’s
probably time to exit or go short. Candle formations and Moving
Average behavior will confirm or dismiss this early signal 
most of the time. Let’s cover additional filters elsewhere but
do research this divergence action yourself in the market of 
your choice. It’s a powerful indicator that works a majority
of the time when confirmed.

I hope this helps you sift out some good use of stochastics
in your market analysis. Looking forward to our visit 
tomorrow!


Watch for those turning points,
Contact Support



**********************
PLAY OF THE DAY - CALL
**********************


EXDS - Exodus Communications $92.75 -3.63

Exodus provides Internet system and network management solutions 
for enterprises with mission-critical Internet operations. They 
have pioneered the Internet Data Center (IDC) market and is one 
of the leading providers of Internet server hosting to the 
growing number of companies using the Internet.  At present, 
Exodus also has twenty Internet Data Centers where clients store 
their servers in secure vaults.  Clients include CBS Sports, 
eBay, Lycos, Yahoo!, MSNBC, and Hewlett-Packard. 
 
Most Recent Write-Up

The dynamic momentum that thrust EXDS upwards over the past 
couple weeks got a shot of adrenaline on Wednesday.  Exodus 
announced that its shareholders approved an increase in 
authorized shares to 1.5 bln and confirmed a payable date of 
June 20th for a 2:1 stock split.  This gives us just six more 
sessions to make our trades.  If you want to open new positions 
there's light support at $92, then $90, but confirm a bounce 
with volume first.  A break over the 50-dma ($91.59) is a 
bullish sign and may signal the start of a profitable split run.  
Once we see the upside of Friday's intraday high tackled 
($98.75), then resistance lies at the sometimes illusive $100 
level.  Because life isn't always fair, we can't rule out the 
possibility of a pullback, so take precautions or be on the 
sidelines if EXDS dips under $90.  A slide back to old 
resistance at $80 near the 10-dma ($81.28) isn't out of the
question in an uncertain market.  The next week, however, should
fare well with Friday's economic data further indicating a
benign outlook.  So if all the stars move into alignment and 
the momentum continues to mount, you'll want to look for an 
exit no later than the split date.  OIN never recommends 
holding over the event as the risk of a depression far 
outweighs the potential gains. 
 
Comments

EXDS gave us the entry poiont we were looking for today as we 
would like to see another push in this split run.  Most important, 
will be to confirm the market direction before entering this 
play.  The Nasdaq is stuck in a tight range and could move in 
either direction.  Support looks good around $88.

BUY CALL JUL- 85 DUB-GQ OI= 730 at $13.50 SL=10.00
BUY CALL JUL- 90*DUB-GR OI= 930 at $11.25 SL= 8.75
BUY CALL JUL- 95 DUB-GS OI= 646 at $ 9.13 SL= 7.00
BUY CALL JUL-100 DUB-GT OI=1884 at $ 7.00 SL= 5.25
BUY CALL SEP-100 DUB-IT OI=1103 at $15.50 SL=12.25

Picked on May 28th at    $62.00    P/E = N/A
Change since picked      +27.19    52-week high=$179.63
Analysts Ratings     22-9-0-0-0    52-week low =$ 17.75
Last earnings 03/00   est=-0.26    actual=-0.23
Next earnings 07-21   est=-0.24    versus=-0.14
Average Daily Volume = 7.92 mln
/charts/charts.asp?sysmbol=EXDS



***********
IN THE NEWS 
***********

When Is A Sale a Sale?
By  S.P. Brown

There’s an old axiom in finance that says the higher the account 
is on the income statement, the harder it should be to manipulate.
In other words, revenues should be less susceptible to accounting
manipulation than net income because there are no accounts that 
drop into revenues like there are into net income. 

Of course, the operative word here is “should.”  Many analysts
are looking at revenues more closely, particularly in light
which torpedoed the stock from a high of $333 March 10 
to just $19 two months later.   

MicroStrategy’s problems began in late March when the company 
announced that it would have to revise its 1999 and 1998 revenues
and operating results to conform to SAB 101, a Securities and 
Exchange Commission revenue recognition bulletin.  The bulletin 
states sales shouldn't be recognized until product installation 
is complete and the company has a reasonable expectation of full
payment.  

So, instead of reporting revenues of $205.3 billion for fiscal 
year 1999, MicroStrategy announced that figure would be restated 
to $155 million.  Investors didn't respond kindly to the news.  
In a single day, the stock tanked from $226.75 to $86.75.

Accounting for revenues seems simple enough.  After all, isn’t 
selling a product just a matter of delivering the goods in 
exchange 
for cash or a receivable?  If only it were that easy.  

Accounting, just like any other business practice, is open to 
interpretation.  Here’s a simple example of a sales transaction, 
along with the number of ways the transaction can be accounted 
for.

On January 1, a firm receives a purchase order from a customer 
for $20,000.  The firm delivers $15,000 of the order in March 
and the remainder in April.  Furthermore, the order is invoiced 
in April and paid in May.  Now for the $20,000 question, how 
should revenue be recognized?

The truth is, there is no hard and fast rule.  One option might 
be for the firm to record the $20,000 revenue in the month the 
two extreme possibilities, with the former being the most liberal 
and the latter being the most conservative.  

A third option might be to record the $20,000 revenue when the 
order is invoiced in April, while a fourth option might be to 
record the revenue when the goods are delivered, $15,000 in 
March and $5,000 in April.

However, the preferred recognition method would be to recognize 
the revenue when the goods are delivered in March and April. 
Since payment is not received until May, a receivable would 
then be established in March and April for $15,000 and $5,000, 
respectively.  

That was a relatively straightforward example; however, the 
art of revenue recognition can be a lot subtler.  Looking at 
MicroStrategy again, the company was basically booking 
revenue upfront for sales of software packages that included 
a long-term servicing element.  

SAB 101 nixed that convention, so MicroStrategy was forced 
to restate revenues and recognize revenue during the length 
its contracts, instead of recognizing revenue immediately.    

Don’t think, though, that liberal accounting conventions 
are reserved for high-tech neophytes.  Back in 1984, the 
personal computer boom was just starting to erode the role 
of Big Blue’s mighty mainframe business.  IBM’s 
return-on-equity (ROE) hit 27 percent that year before 
plunging to 10 percent by 1989 and disappearing altogether 
in 1991 and 1992 amid huge losses.  

So what did Big Blue do, it headed for the accounting 
department.  The company’s 1984 annual report showed that 
it began overhauling its accounting practices to spread the 
costs of its factories and other investments far into the 
future, instead of recording them in the short term.  

What’s more, the company took to recognizing its leases 
as “sales-type” leases, which enabled the company to record 
the entire life of the lease as revenues in the first year.  
In contrast, the more conventional operating lease method 
recognizes revenues as they actually flow each year.  

The convention worked for a while, but by early 1994, IBM’s 
stock was languishing at $20 a split adjusted share.  By then, 
no accounting convention could conceal the company’s 
operational problems.   

Now, on the other side of the spectrum is Microsoft (MSFT), 
which is often accused of being too conservative in its 
accounting practices.  The software giant has been criticized 
for excessive use of a liability account known 
as “deferred revenue.”  This account is used to book revenues 
on which payment has been received but for which no product 
has yet been delivered.  If used imprudently, the deferred 
revenue account can understate revenue and overstate 
liabilities.  

Okay, so when should a company recognize revenue? 

The Statement of Financial Accounting Concepts (SFAC) 5 
specifies two conditions that must be met for revenue 
recognition to take place.  These conditions are (1) 
completion of the earnings process and (2) its realization 
or assurance of realizability.

To satisfy the first condition, the firm must have provided 
all, or virtually all, of the goods or services for which 
it is to be paid, and it must be possible to measure the 
total expected cost of providing the goods or services; 
that is, the seller has no significant contingent obligation.  
If, for example, the seller was obligated to provide future 
services but was unable to estimate the cost of doing so, 
this condition would not be met.  

As for the second condition, realization refers to quantifying
 the cash or assets to be received for product or services 
provided.  Reliable measurement encompasses the realizability 
of the proceeds of sale.  If the seller were unable to make a 
reasonable estimate of the probability of nonpayment, 
realization would not be assured, and the second condition 
would not be satisfied.  

Obviously, the SFAC 5 rule is open to wide interpretation, 
which means, in reality, an investor is dependent on 
management conservatism and integrity.  

Still, if you’re going to value a company based on revenue 
growth, it’s worth understanding how the company books 
revenue (that means reading the income statement footnotes), 
for nothing will trash a company’s stock faster than a 
forced restatement of prior-period financials.   



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