Option Investor

Daily Newsletter, Monday, 11/06/2000

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The Option Investor Newsletter                   Monday 11-06-2000
Copyright 2000, All rights reserved.                        1 of 1
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MARKET WRAP  (view in courier font for table alignment)
        11-06-2000        High      Low     Volume Advance/Decline
DJIA    10977.20 +159.30 11006.50 10810.00  927 bln   1419/1384
NASDAQ   6416.21 - 35.37  3480.01  3412.98 1.61 bln   1803/2140
S&P 100   755.44 +  3.74   759.14   752.77   totals   3222/3524
S&P 500  1432.19 +  5.50  1438.46  1427.72           47.8%/52.2%
RUS 2000  503.96 -  3.79   508.86   503.49
DJ TRANS 2793.22 + 31.47  2807.89  2754.62
VIX        27.03 +  0.72    31.04    26.35
Put/Call Ratio      0.66

Waiting For A Reason

The bulls ran rampant in the Dow while others waited for
guidance from Cisco and results from the election.  The Dow
Jones Industrial Average ($INDU) staged yet another impressive
rally today ahead of Cisco's earnings and election results.
The decline in oil prices over the weekend induced a broad
rally in cyclicals, transportation, retail, and financial
shares as inflation concerns eased.  Meanwhile in the drug
sector, shares of pharmaceutical makers surged higher on
the prospects of a Bush victory, which added to the INDU's

Despite the triple digit gains in the INDU, the index failed
to close above the 11,000 level.  The INDU has attempted to
eclipse the key resistance level on three occasions in the
last five trading sessions with little success.  However, the
fact that the INDU at least peaked its nose over 11,000 had
many traders cheering.  The keys for the INDU going forward
will be a continued ease in energy prices, a strength in the
euro, and an ease by the Fed.  Of course, the aforementioned
events are all closely tied to one another.  Nonetheless, the
INDU's recent advance has many on Wall Street feeling upbeat.
At least a lot more than was the case in mid-October.

The obvious resistance level for the INDU is 11,000.  And, if
the INDU can settle above that level, it could very well
retest its early September highs near the 11,400 area.  But,
a pullback is not out of the question with the election upon
us.  If Bush is elected, we may experience a pullback in shares
that have rallied ahead of the actual election results, such
as pharmaceuticals.  If a pullback is, in fact, in order, the
INDU is likely to retest the 10,800 support level.

The tech-heavy NASDAQ took the opposite path ahead of Cisco's
earnings report as traders remained uncommitted.  However, while
hardware and network-related shares struggled, the chip sector
rallied for the third consecutive day, which buoyed the NASDAQ.
The Philly Semiconductor Index ($SOX) finished modestly higher
with a 0.7% gain.  Although the gains were small today, the
SOX's string of rallies signals movement back into the chip
sector, which is definitely adding to the bulls case.

The key level for the NASDAQ Composite (COMPX) is the 3,500
resistance area.  The COMPX attempted to settle above 3,500 on
three consecutive occasions in mid-October with no success.
The COMPX is once again approaching the key 3,500 resistance
level, with many market participants looking, and even hoping,
for a breakout.

The much awaited third-quarter earnings report from Cisco
Systems was next to pristine.  The company reported its usual
penny better than estimates with a profit of 18 cents per
share.  The company also recorded an amazing $6.52 billion in
revenues - well above the high-end of estimates.  Shares of
Cisco were all over the map in after hours trading as the
company's conference call played on.  John Chambers, CEO of
Cisco, guided analysts to even higher estimates for next year,
which boosted the stock from its after hours lows.  The
market's reception of Cisco's report and Chambers' guidance
will set the tone for trading in the tech sector tomorrow.
Of course, a few upgrades and upbeat analyst comments wouldn't
hurt!  At the time of writing, shares of Cisco traded around
$54.50 in after hours.

The previous mentioned rally in the INDU was, in part, induced
by a retreat in energy prices.  The price of crude oil continued
lower today as recent production hikes and uncertainty over the
upcoming OPEC meeting were factored into the market.  Commodities
traders will key in on the OPEC meeting scheduled for November
12th for signs of continued production hikes, along with the
American Petroleum Institute's report on refinery supplies
scheduled to be released tomorrow.  The relief in the price of oil
was clearly evident in the Dow Jones Transportation Average ($TRAN)
today, with major airlines benefiting.  A continued decline in
the cost of energy will aid the equity markets into the end of the

The other "e" word, which has plagued the market, went the opposite
way of the bulls' wishes today.  The European Central Bank (ECB)
intervened in the slumping euro currency for the second time in as
many trading sessions today.  Despite the ECB's purchasing of euros
in the open market last Friday and again today, the currency slid
lower indicating the ineffectiveness of the bank's attempts to
boost its sagging currency.  Because of the euro's decline, exports
into the region remain costly for local businesses.  The effects of
the slumping euro have been felt by huge multinationals such
as Dell Computer, among many others.  Once the euro stabilizes, in
conjunction with continued relief in energy costs, the bears will
be out of reasons to sell this market.

And what would be a Monday without an earnings warning in some
shape or form?  The unlucky company was VA Linux (LNUX), who
warned that its third-quarter loss would be greater than
previously anticipated.  The company told analysts this morning
it would lose between 14 to 16 cents per share, a far wider loss
than First Call's previous 9 cent loss estimate.  VA Linux blamed
its shortfall on a slowdown in spending from its dot com
customers.  The company's warning deflated the recent rally in
Linux-related stocks as Red Hat (RHAT) fell in sympathy.
Coincidentally, I reviewed VA Linux's prospects in my Ask The
Analyst column over the weekend.  I had suggested the company's
prospects were turning more bullish with the recent IBM contract
to supply software services.  Well, I was wrong!  But, I also
suggested to listen closely to the company's guidance during its
upcoming earnings release.  And, that guidance came ahead of
schedule in the form of a warning this morning.  Shares of VA
Linux finished down 42% to $17.38.

In other earnings-related news, there are still a small number of S&P
500 companies that have not reported third-quarter results.  Among
the remaining companies scheduled to report this week include
include Dell Computer, Protein Design Labs, Walt Disney, and The
Gap.  A positive surprise from any of the aforementioned could give
an added boost to their respective sectors.

On to more positive news, it would appear the return of the IPO is
upon us.  Although the equity markets have not been the most
favorable over the past two months, several high-profile public
offerings are expected to go off this week.  The most highly
watched debut will be that from the Silicon Valley-based Transmeta
(TMTA).  The investment bankers bringing Transmeta public raised
the offering price last Friday as an indication interest in the
IPO is on the rise.  The consortium of bankers bringing Transmeta
public raised the initial offering price from the $11 to $13 range
up to the $16 and $19 area. It's bullish to see Wall Street return
to the IPO market with interest and may confirm the prospects for
a year-end rally.

After the election and reception of the Cisco earnings tomorrow,
Wall Street will turn its attention to the PPI report scheduled to
be released on Thursday (the same day of Dell's earnings report).
The Fed will continue to monitor for signs of wholesale inflation
in the form of the PPI report.  The report is expected to reveal
a pullback in energy prices and confirm the threat of inflation
remains in check.  After the surge in energy prices in September
which lead to a spike in the PPI, analysts are expecting prices
to rise by a benign 0.2% during the month of October.  Nonetheless,
Wall Street will want confirmation that inflation remains subdued.

The reasons to buy into the market may soon become compelling
enough for the institutional money mangers to put the hoard of
capital to work they have been sitting on.  According to Trim
Tabs, a mutual fund monitoring group, the inflow of capital into
equity funds reached $11 billion in the five days ended November
3rd.  To put it into perspective, only $1 billion of capital
flowed into equity funds during the entire month of October.
We may have seen some of that capital already put to work last
week, but there's still some money on the sidelines waiting to
buy into the market.  The trading should be exciting tomorrow
as the election results filter out and into the market.  Once
the election is behind and the new president elected, the
reasons to buy may begin to outweigh the reasons not to buy.

Make sure to look for the new additions to OptionInvestor.com
today.  We've included a new play in today's newsletter, along
with updates on selected plays.  As the week progresses, we'll
be introducing the new and exciting features that Jim detailed
in his Sunday Market Wrap.

Eric Utley
Assistant Editor

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AKAM - Akamai Technologies $56.50 +2.56

Akamai is the leading Content Delivery Service Provider serving
over 2,800 customers worldwide.  Akamai has the broadest
deployment of servers for content, streaming media, and
applications delivery with more than 6,000 servers in 54
countries directly connected within 335 different tele-
communications networks.

An old favorite has finally made its way back to our call list.
Akamai Technologies has suffered pains of being an Internet
company in this volatile market.  The stock has traded down
from the $300 level in early March to the current discounted
price of $56.50.  We are looking at AKAM now as potentially
making a turn for higher ground.  Today was the first day
the stock closed above the 50-dma (currently $55.17) since
mid-July.  The reason for the recent trend upwards is a string
of positive news announcements which culminated in an analyst
meeting on Friday.  The company announced new contract wins
with companies such as Intel, Doubleclick and Telefonica.
They also pointed out that margins are coming in better-than-
expected and that actual earnings are in the forecast.  This
helped convince First Union Securities to initiate coverage
with a Strong Buy rating on Monday.  The volume was strong
on the breakout over the 50-dma this afternoon despite the
Nasdaq weakening.  Look for the volume and price to continue
to rise to reinforce the momentum building in this play.

***November contracts expire in 2 weeks***

BUY CALL NOV-55*RUG-KK OI=1025 at $4.88 SL=2.75
BUY CALL NOV-60 RUG-KL OI=1242 at $2.81 SL=1.50
BUY CALL DEC-55 RUG-LK OI= 179 at $8.63 SL=5.75
BUY CALL DEC-60 RUG-LL OI=1250 at $6.38 SL=4.50

Average daily volume = 2.29 mln


MERQ $126.06 (+13.63)  A positive news released this morning
helped push the shorts out of the play this morning.  And we
all know what happens when the shorts get squeezed as the
stock blew up on higher than average volume.  Fortunately, our
well-placed stop kicked in during the first ten minutes of
trading at $115 and we were able to avoid most of the pain.
It is best to get out quick when you are short a stock as
popular as MERQ has been for the bulls this year.


LVLT - put play
Adjust from $48 down to $41

BRCD - call play
Adjust from $215 up to $229

ADBE - call play
Adjust from $72 up to $79

RIMM - call play
Adjust from $95 up to $99


Credit Spreads: Wealth Without Unlimited Risk?
By Austin Passamonte

Does a trading strategy exist that allows you to quantify
potential profit returns, methodically build wealth over time and
limit risk to precious capital? Yes there is!

Credit spreads. A term that sends numerous option traders into
yawning spasms of sheer boredom. Why would anyone want to apply
this method of investing? Yes the proper term is investing,
something most option traders do too little of.

Guessing market direction and buying calls or puts is not option
investing; it is option speculating. We have the chance to make or
lose vast sums of money in the process and one is easier to
accomplish than the other. You can guess which is which.

Switching gears for a moment, have you ever marveled at the sheer
business genius concept behind insurance companies? I mean, that
industry is designed not to fail over the long term based on the
law of large numbers science and power.

Take your auto insurance company for instance; can you think of a
more profitable venture with less risk? They write policies on a
vast number of all makes, models and types of vehicles across the
spectrum. Not to say all insurance policies are equal. One type of
car may statistically hold less risk of accident or theft versus
another and each has a policy cost that reflects this risk. Based
on numerous factors including car and driver, no two policies are
exactly alike.

Insurance companies can and do pool common-risk policies into one
large group and resell them to other companies in order to divest
risk. By the time enough policies are written, pooled together and
held until expiration an overall profit is about guaranteed.

Not to say that none of these are collected on. Far from it. We
know for a fact that accidents happen and coverage gets put to the
insurance company who wrote the policy. That is a fact of life and
cost for doing business.

However, total premiums collected offset all pay-outs issued when
time takes over the equation. More different policies written add
higher odds of guaranteed returns.

Insurance companies try to cap their risk by selling policies with
maximum pay-out value. In other words if disaster strikes and
policies get cashed against the writer, they have limited total
loss and will survive and prosper long-term in spite of this.

What does that have to do with credit-spreads? Everything. This
trading method can be set up in the exact same approach writing
policies on a cross section of autos, people or any other groups
of similar risk items can be. Might that be of interest to you?

Let's begin from the beginning. Credit spreads are option plays
where one contract at a certain strike is sold short for a price
while another is bought long to cap maximum risk to the credit
spread seller. The option sold is closer to the money and more
valuable than the respective option bought to cap maximum risk.
This creates a net-credit in one's trading account.

Although we use the term "capped risk" that is not entirely true.
If one trades American-settled options (most equity options and a
few indexes) the possibility exists of being assigned the short
option without the long option being offset to end the play.
Should the market make a large move against the remaining option
prior to notification, losses can exceed the expected.

There are different scenarios that can occur against American
style options (most equity and some index options) beyond the
scope of this article or my further explanation. Just be aware
that risk is involved with any option strategy and credit spreads
are not completely exempt.

Therefore, a margin-account is required by brokers to ensure those
trading this method are able to withstand such unusual but
possible occurrences. This requirement varies between brokers and
it is important that you communicate directly with prospective
brokers to decide which if any are best for you.

Using quantitative software programs or option calculators, we can
insert a combination of figures and data to identify potential
credit-spread plays that place the odds of success in our favor.
However, we must manage these trades on a somewhat frequent basis
in order to operate profitably over time.

When we sell a credit spread into the market it is commonly done
by selling one option short near the current "bid" while buying
the other leg near the current "ask". A debit-spread is just the
opposite and a value "spread" exists between a credit spread and a
debit spread of the exact same strike parameters.

This value bid/ask spread between each is how market makers
survive living on the mean streets of the Hamptons. A credit-
spread is offset through buying it back as a debit spread and the
difference enables our market makers existence. Make sense?

Options are typically priced using the Black-Scholes model. That
means we should be able to buy & sell 100 exact-same option plays
and break even at the end before commissions. In reality the odds
are tilted against us due to option value skews in the market.

This means that on average over time, if we sold 100 of the same
parameter ten-point (intrinsic value by expiration) spreads for a
net-credit in our account for 3.5, they should have roughly 65%
probability to expire worthless depending on time left until
expiration. It also has a 35% probability to expire in the money
up to maximum of 10 points.

Various software programs equate these parameters differently and
there is plenty of gray area in between but this is a start.

That varies widely due to current and future volatility, time left
until contract expiration and other factors as well. We can use
this basic information to place odds of success within our favor
regardless of the actual specifics.

There are many ways to execute & manage credit spreads that work.
I prefer two basic approaches with different agendas.

We can use credit spreads for purely directional trades or a more
horizontal method of systematic high-percentage wins. My personal
preference are the two approaches we'll discuss in detail over the
course of this series.

The first method is to use credit spreads to catch major turns in
the market without the need for pinpoint entry precision. We can
be a bit early or late to catch a significant market move without
missing solid to maximum returns in the process. This is a
superior approach for the majority of traders who cannot watch
live market action each session. We have aggressive and more
conservative decisions to make concerning which strikes to sell,
how far out in time to go and when to buy-close the play.

Our second choice is to create a credit-spread strategy that is
geared towards winning a very high percentage of small-return
trades while cutting short the respective small number of large-
loss trades on the other side. This approach works regardless of
market behavior and is oblivious to underlying symbols used for
the trade.

Which method is best? Neither, of course. Both work very well
during all market conditions with slight adjustments to each
approach. Directional credit spreads might be easier to use during
trending markets while horizontal credit spreads are easier to
execute during flat markets. Each approach merits a complete
discussion in itself to cover all the intricacies in detail. We
will do so over the next two visits within this space together.

For those to this trading method I strongly suggest reading up on
the basics offered through many excellent trading books in print.
Veterans of credit spreads have yawned their way to this point but
we hope to share some ideas over the next two or three articles
and welcome input as always to provide nuggets of useful ideas as

That's it for the broad basics; next edition we'll cover the art
of using credit-spreads for easy high-odds entry to profitable
plays during market trends. Looking forward to our time spent
together then & Best Trading Wishes.

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ITWO - I2 Technologies $174.75 (+4.31 last week)

ITWO is a global provider of intelligent eBusiness solutions for
supply chain management and enhanced business applications.  On
June 12, 2000 ITWO merged with Aspect Development (ASDV) to
create one of the largest software providers for eBusiness and
eMarketplace solutions.  TradeMatrix, its Internet marketplace,
provides an open digital community powered by i2's advanced
optimization and execution capabilities that help manufacturers
plan production and other related operations.  Clients include
3M, Compaq, Ford and Nokia.

Most Recent Write-Up

I2 Technologies is a solid performer and a company that forms
the backbone of the electronic marketplace.  It's strategically
positioned to survive any Internet controversy.  Last month the
company reported blow out 3Q earnings, coming in two pennies
ahead of the consensus estimates at $0.12.  The top line
revenues rose a substantial 118% to $319.5 mln from $146.3 mln a
year ago and easily surpassed the expected $264 mln to $285 mln
range.  The BoD also announced a 2:1 stock split payable on or
around December 5th, pending shareholders' approval.  A
shareholder vote is scheduled for November 28th.  It also hit
the press last week that ITWO, along with 12 other equity
partners, are merging two purchasing exchanges: AirNewco and
MyAircraft and creating a single enterprise for the $500 bln
aviation industry.  In recent times, ITWO mounted a steadfast
recovery following the tech carnage.  Coming off the October
26th low of $145.70, ITWO has since captured $24.69, or 17% in
gains.  Going forward, look for ITWO to stretch higher ahead of
the proposed stock dividend.  As we saw during Wednesday's
session, there is resistance at the $180 level.  Modest traders
may want to buy into strength as ITWO moves through this
resistance level.  The 5 and 10 DMA lines at $168 also serve as
solid launching points on the climb.  If you choose to take
entry on a downdraft, keep it above the $160 mark as we'll exit
the play on any close below that level.


Shares of ITWO are setting up for a breakout above the $180
resistance level.  The stock attempted to eclipse $180 today,
but fell back as the NASDAQ weakened.  Aggressive traders
might look for a positive tech sector early Tuesday morning
and consider taking entries on a move above $175.  The more
conservative approach would be to wait for the break above
$180 on high volume.  Additionally, a bounce off major
support at $170 might provide an entry should ITWO pull back.

***November contracts expire in 2 weeks***

BUY CALL NOV-170 QYI-KN OI= 542 at $12.75 SL= 9.75
BUY CALL NOV-175*QYI-KO OI= 315 at $10.13 SL= 7.00
BUY CALL NOV-180 QYI-KP OI=1413 at $ 7.75 SL= 5.75
BUY CALL DEC-175 QYI-LO OI=  40 at $19.25 SL=13.75
BUY CALL DEC-180 QYI-LP OI=  86 at $17.00 SL=12.25

Picked on Oct 31st at   $170.00    P/E = N/A
Change since picked       +4.75    52-week high=$223.50
Analysts Ratings    13-20-4-0-0    52-week low =$ 34.75
Last earnings 09/00   est= 0.10    actual= 0.12
Next earnings 01-16   est= 0.15    versus= 0.10
Average Daily Volume = 4.46 mln


I Hope You're Ready...
By Robert Norman

About 10 days ago I was urging OIN subscribers who prefer to play
in an up market to be preparing for a better market.  The Nasdaq
was 3400 on the day the article was published and I was saying
that the market wouldn't go down forever!  I questioned subscribers
and asked if the Nasdaq went down to 3,000 or below what would you
buy?  Do you have a list prepared?  Well two days later the Nasdaq
hit 3081!  What were you buying?  At the end of the article I said,
make your list of stocks and wait for a big up day on the Nasdaq
with big volume.  That happened on October 26th, the day we hit
3081.  There was a huge reversal on heavy volume.  The Nasdaq
closed that day at 3272, a 191-point reversal on heavy volume.
Then I said wait for a follow-through day, it should come 3 - 4
days after the initial up day.  Well on October 31st we got it!
The Nasdaq vaulted up 5.6%; its' 10th biggest percentage gain on
record!  Volume grew to 2.1 billion shares!   The session looked
like a classic follow-through confirmation, a signal that hasn't
missed the beginning of a major market advance.  First the Nasdaq
shot up well over 1% and volume was 23% higher.  The session was
clearly powerful.  Finally the follow-through fell on the fourth
day of the rally - perfect.  It's finally a good time to play
bullish strategies again.  Don't go crazy - be methodical, use
stops, and as always sell too soon!  For the people who called and
emailed, I appreciate all of your comments and suggestions.  Yes,
I will try to write more articles!  Many of these people now have
lists in place and are already making good profits.
Congratulations and way to be proactive!  Look for my upcoming
article on naked puts.  Assuming Tuesday goes well it will be time.

Robert L. Norman
V. P., Investments
J. Michael-Patrick, LLC
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