Option Investor

Daily Newsletter, Wednesday, 02/21/2001

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The Option Investor Newsletter                Wednesday 02-21-2001
Copyright 2001, All rights reserved.                        1 of 1
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MARKET WRAP  (view in courier font for table alignment)
        02-21-2001        High      Low     Volume Advance/Decline
DJIA    10526.60 -204.30 10746.20 10520.30 1.20 bln   1079/2018
NASDAQ   2268.94 - 49.41  2353.51  2257.15 2.01 bln   1146/2608
S&P 100   647.60 - 13.76   663.61   646.27   totals   2225/4626
S&P 500  1255.27 - 23.67  1282.97  1253.16           32.5%/67.5%
RUS 2000  483.51 -  7.63   491.16   482.89
DJ TRANS 2944.47 - 32.99  2977.01  2938.84
VIX        29.41 +  1.91    29.65    27.11
Put/Call Ratio      0.72

Missed it by six!

Can you spell o-v-e-r-s-o-l-d? The Nasdaq has dropped -300 points
in the last three trading sessions hitting a two year closing low.
The Dow has broken out of the recent bullish wedge and is now in
danger of breaking January lows. Support for both indexes has now
disappeared and traders are fearful that new lows are in our future.
This has caused bargain hunters to wait patiently on the sidelines.
The normal end of day bounce, which you would expect after such big
drops, failed to appear.

It was a grim day after the CPI report came in at twice the
expected number. The headline number was +0.6%, double the +0.3%
expected. The core rate was only +0.3% but exceeded the +0.2%
estimate. Energy prices were a significant factor but the Fed
has not reacted to that component significantly in the past.
The big jump was the largest gain since March-2000. The
possibility of stagflation appears to be growing and most
analysts feel the lack of growth is more dangerous than the
risk of inflation. Still traders were not happy and ran for
cover yet again.

A major impact to the Nasdaq drop was Nasdaq:SUNW which was hit
with a downgrade from Merrill Lynch. Merrill lowered its rating
to neutral and dropped its earnings estimates by about a nickel
going forward. "Economic softness is accelerating non-economic
trends that threaten Sun and raise the likelihood that numbers
may need to again be reduced," Merrill said in a research note.
"Channel inventories are at a three year high, more used equipment
from dead dot.coms is coming, and enterprises have enough CPU
capacity from past aggressive purchases," it said. "Storage
spending remains strong," Merrill said. "Sun not only misses
this revenue but also runs the risk of losing account control
as storage vendors gain influence. Poor storage execution appears
to be coming home to roost." Just another friendly love note?
Nyse:IBM also announced a new line of storage products which
will compete with SUNW and Nasdaq:EMC.  EMC fell -$6 in regular
trading but was still falling in after hours to a low of $39.25
or almost a -$10 drop. SUNW has a quarterly analyst conference
call at 4:30PM ET on Thursday where it is expected to warn going
forward. SUNW dropped another -$3 today to another 52-week low
of $18.75 in after hours.

Intel, Nasdaq:INTC, fell to within 75 cents of its 52-week low
of $30 after more negative comments about PC sales in general,
the economic outlook and a semiconductor index that rolled over
on a +50 point morning gain. Nasdaq:CSCO lost another dollar to
another 52-week low of $25 as the comments from their CEO continued
to weigh on the networking sector. Nasdaq:JNPR was one of the few
networkers to show a gain. Up +$6 intraday but it only managed
to eke out a fractional showing at the close.

Brocade, Nasdaq:BRCD, announced earnings after the close and
beat the street by a penny but warned that "We are seeing the
effect of a softening economy" and guided analysts lower for
the future. They implicated Nasdaq:EMLX as part of the problem
saying that some of their large customers were delaying orders.
Brocade had been quiet on the EMLX warning until today. EMLX
fell another -$4 to $28 in after hours trading after BRCD used
their name in disgust. EMC was also hit by the BRCD warning as
well as NTAP which compete in the storage business.

Retailers Wal-Mart, Nyse:WMT, and Home Depot, Nyse:HD, lost their
15 minutes of fame and both dropped over $3 as the retail sector
came under fire today. With sector rotation that used to take
weeks, now taking only hours, the retailers were tossed aside
as old news.

Coke, Nyse:KO, and Procter & Gamble, Nyse:PG, said today that
they were going to create a $4 billion company that would use
Coke's global distribution system to spur sales of the companies'
juices and snacks. Coke would gain access to new consumer food
ideas and PG would gain Coke's 16 million global distribution
points. Analysts thought KO gave away too much and investors
knocked -3.55 of its stock while PG gained +1.00.

The big news was the massive support failure of both major indexes.
The Dow fell to the lowest close since January-12th at 10526.
Support at 10700 and 10600 failed to even slow down the index
as 22 of the 30 stocks lost ground. The major losers were AXP
-2.01, C -2.90, KO -3.55, HD -3.14, IBM -3.90, JPM -2.60, WMT
-3.19. The Nasdaq did not fare any better with many of the leaders
taking serious hits. ADBE lost -4.19, BEAS -3.94, CHKP -5.44, CIEN
-5.69, JDSU -2.63, QCOM -4.25, SUNW -2.63, VTSS -4.63, VSTR -3.38.
The Dow had been building a large bullish wedge since the middle
of September but the breakout came to the downside instead of the
upside. Next support for the Dow is at 10500, only -20 points
below today's low. Below 10500 we could free fall to our 12 month
support of 10300 with only a brief pause possible at 10400.

The Nasdaq closed within three points of a new two year closing
low at 2268. The previous closing low was 2265 on March 3rd 1999.
It also came within 6 points of the 12 month intraday low of 2251
from Jan-3rd. The two year intraday low is 2235 on that same March
3rd of 1999. Support at 2300 held until after 12:00 but downgrades
on JDSU and SUNW along with the plummeting Dow finally pushed the
index to the days low of 2257. There was no end of day bounce and
after the Brocade earnings warning and the continued sell off of
the generals in after hours, there is likely to be another dip at
the open as well. A dip to under 2200 would take us all the way
back to 1998 for comparisons. Dec-31 of 1998 had an intraday low
of 2165 and the first day of 1999 dipped to 2192. The Nasdaq is
now down -55% from the March highs of last year and all the gains
from the Internet bubble have evaporated. Almost $4 trillion in
market cap has been trimmed from the Nasdaq.

Now, where will it stop? Nobody knows but the general consensus
of opinion is very soon. Most professional traders claim they
have shorted everything they can short and most institutional
traders claim they have sold everything they have to sell. Granted
the sources for this information are biased and prone to exaggeration
but the sentiments are the same as we hear on the retail side.
Today was closer to a capitulation event than yesterday but still
not a classic example. Closing on the low of the day would indicate
there could be more tomorrow. Also the volume was still lighter
than a normal "bottom" day. I believe a strong dip on Thursday
could produce the sell reflex that is needed to trigger the
expected trading rally. If we can just get the shorts to cover
it would be a huge bounce as we have seen before.

I see two scenarios, maybe three. The BRCD warning knocked the
Nasdaq futures to -40 in after hours. Every Nasdaq general I
looked at had fallen further after the close. This would indicate
a drop at the open. Any drop from here would put us under the
2251 prior intraday low and could trigger the "double bottom"
buyers. If there is enough of a bounce to trigger short covering
then we could easily gain +100 points or more as others see the
volume and jump in. Is this wishful thinking? Could be but it is
my wish! The other option is enough fear of a recession that
traders simply ignore any sub 2251 bounce and stay on the
sidelines waiting for the next Fed rate cut or a clear bottom.
If the bottom on the opening dip does not hold through Friday
then the shorts will load up again and something in the 2000
range would not surprise me.

Now there is a wild card in both of those scenarios. There is
an increasing call and even a demand for an intra-meeting rate
cut. It would not surprise me to see the Fed come riding in
to the rescue like they did on Jan-3rd when the Dow was at
10581 and the Nasdaq 2251. Those numbers take on a entirely
different perspective as we revisit them two months later. Every
-100 points the market drops just adds to the drop in consumer
confidence. Greenspan has said the confidence number must be
controlled or it will become a death spiral for the economy.
If consumers pull in their horns and start stashing money under
their mattress for a rainy day instead of spending it on
consumables then a real recession is just around the corner.
It is Greenspan's job to bolster that confidence and put a floor
under the stock market which is the most visible indicator of
economic stability for the common citizen. Every investor who
received a 401K statement which looked more like a 201K
is seriously considering a different investment strategy for
2001. If these investors move their remaining capital into
another vehicle like bonds, money markets, tax free funds or
even REITs then the stock market will suffer the loss. Alan
has to stem that tide of defections and his time is running
out. March 20th is too late. He needs to act now. When he
does, that will be the wild card that could turn the market
around again. How about it AL? About 10:00 Thursday morning
would work just great for me!

Enter passively, exit aggressively!

Jim Brown

Spring Options Workshop and Bootcamp
April 5th-9th, Denver Colorado

OptionInvestor is proud to announce our third annual Spring
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Steve Nison, the worlds foremost expert on Candlestick charting.
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The detailed schedule will be posted in about two weeks. There
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on the Nightly Business Report discussing his Annual
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MSFT - Microsoft Corp $56.25 +0.38 (-1.06 this week)

Microsoft is the #1 software company in the world.  They
develop, manufacture, license, and support a broad range of
software products including Windows operating systems, server
applications, the popular MS Office suite, and a Web Browser.
As most of you know, the company is presently involved in
anti-trust issues with the government.  CEO and co-founder,
Bill Gates still owns 15% of Microsoft.

We're in the midst of a bloodbath as the NASDAQ hit lows not
seen in almost two years.  And to boot, Sun Microsystems'
downgrade by Merrill Lynch today only made things worse.  But
yet, we remain optimists at OI.  While there's no arguing that
the market sentiment is very anti-tech at the moment, we believe
there is a light at the end of the tunnel; particularly in the
case of MSFT.  Take a look at the stock's chart and you can
visually confirm its strength and buoyancy during these
turbulent and uncertain times; especially considering the CPI
numbers.  We're expecting the $55 level to continue to provide
bottom support and thus, be a launching pad on the rebound.  If
you chose to enter prior to a convincing breakout however, keep
stops tight!  As a whole, the software sector is rather weak
with other software stocks such as ACRU, ADBE, and BEAS sagging,
but then there's also other bright spots like Intuit (INTU),
which posted better-than-expected 2Q earnings and gained
16% on the day.  As for MSFT, look for a solid bounce off the 5-
dma ($57.30) followed by a move through the 10-dma ($58.95) and
the $60 resistance to confirm an uptrend.  You might consider
selling into strength as MSFT approaches the 200-dma ($64.68).
This formidable line of opposition recently halted other
rallies.  In the news today, Microsoft announced it settled a
1998 antitrust suit with Bristol Technology Inc.  Although terms
were not officially disclosed, there are whispers of a $4.8 mln

BUY CALL MAR-50 MSQ-CJ OI= 1270 at $7.50 SL=5.25
BUY CALL MAR-55*MSQ-CK OI= 7996 at $3.88 SL=2.50
BUY CALL MAR-60 MSQ-CL OI=27032 at $1.44 SL=0.75
BUY CALL APR-55 MSQ-DK OI=25672 at $5.50 SL=3.50
BUY CALL APR-60 MSQ-DL OI=21772 at $2.88 SL=1.50



ADBE - Adobe Systems $30.06 -4.19 (-6.25 this week)

A long-time leader in desktop publishing software, ADBE
provides graphic design, publishing, and imaging software
for Web and print production.  Offering a line of application
software products for creating, distributing, and managing
information of all types, the company generates nearly 75% of
sales through publishing software products such as Photoshop,
Illustrator, and PageMaker.  Its Acrobat Reader, which uses
portable document format (PDF) is popping up all over the
Internet, as businesses shift from print to digital

The bears are rejoicing as selling pressure in all things
Technology has driven ADBE to a new 52-week low, fractionally
above $30.  In less than a month, the desktop publishing leader
has given up more than half its market cap, and is showing no
signs of reversing the trend anytime soon.  If anything, the
downtrend that has been in place since November is getting
steeper as the NASDAQ threatens to drop to its lowest level in
more than 2 years.  The negative news continues to flow and
even the strongest Technology stocks are being beaten up on a
daily basis.  As cheap as these stocks appear on a historical
basis, there simply is no reason to buy with a lack of forward
visibility amid an environment where the Fed is seen to be too
slow to soften its position on interest rates.  After stumbling
to a new 52-week low today, ADBE is at risk of breaking the
$26-27 support level.  Although daily Stochastics are deep in
oversold territory, that doesn't mean the stock needs to recover
anytime soon, and with the lower Bollinger band at $16.16, there
is still room to fall.  Adding to the bearish outlook is the
volume trend which has been increasing for the past week and a
half, hitting 11.2 million shares today, more than double the
ADV.  In the absence of any good news or a positive move in the
NASDAQ, the new stock should continue to deteriorate.  Given the
sharp increase in selling volume this afternoon, conservative
investors can initiate new positions on a drop through the $30
level, while keeping an eye out for a possible bounce near the
$26-27 support level.  More aggressive traders can look to enter
on a failed rally, so long as the rollover occurs below our $34
stop level.

BUY PUT MAR-35 AEQ-OG OI=1946 at $6.58 SL=4.50
BUY PUT MAR-30*AEQ-OF OI=1034 at $3.50 SL=1.75
BUY PUT MAR-25 AEQ-OE OI= 229 at $1.38 SL=0.75


TIBX - TIBCO Software Inc $15.50 -4.25 (-7.56 this week)

TIBCO Software is a leading provider of real-time infrastructure
software for the Internet and enterprise that enables business
to dynamically link internal operations, business partners and
customer channels.  The company's flagship solution,
ActiveEnterprise, facilitates this business process integration
by connecting applications, web sites, databases and other
content sources using patented technology called The Information
Bus (TIB).  Its software has since been adopted in a wide range
of industries from high-technology manufacturing and
telecommunications to retail and e-business.

Tibco Software revolutionized trading on Wall Street in the mid-
1980's, but the stock itself isn't faring too well nowadays.
After going public in July 1999 and having a phenomenal run up
to $147 in March 2000, TIBX never recovered from this summer's
doldrums.  The wobbly markets, weakness in the software sector,
and its own momentum driving the share price lower, it now
appears TIBX is on the way to single digits.  Even positive
analyst coverage from some of the more influential firms like
Salomon Smith Barney and CSFB this month couldn't give TIBX a
much needed boost.  The company's CEO also tried to soothe
investors concerns, but to no avail.  This week, TIBX lost
another whooping 33%, or $7.56 amid robust trading.  Today's
volume was 1.8 times the ADV as TIBX hit a new 52-week low
($15.06) in the late afternoon.  The negative bias across the
broader market is an obvious catalyst, so of course pay
attention to overall market sentiment in combination with the
stock's direction before beginning new plays.  Because of the
inexpensive share price and the risk of buyers stepping in on a
rally, we have a stop in place at $18.  Although, it still may
be viable to consider entries at the 5-dma ($21.88) proximity
amid a high-volume rollover scenario.

BUY PUT MAR-25.0 PAV-OE OI= 97 at $10.63 SL=7.50
BUY PUT MAR-22.5 PAV-OX OI=222 at $ 8.25 SL=5.75
BUY PUT MAR-20.0*PAV-OD OI= 45 at $ 6.25 SL=4.25



AES - call play
Adjust from $56 up to $57

MO - call play
Adjust from $45 up to $47

SDS - call play
Adjust from $57 up to $58

LH - call play
Adjust from $141 up to $144

NETE - put play
Adjust from $56 down to $54

QLGC - put play
Adjust from $50 down to $46

GS - put play
Adjust from $102 down to $98

ABGX - put play
Adjust from $34 down to $33

BBOX - put play
Adjust from $55 down to $53


CIEN $71.63 -5.69 (-11.00) The tech carnage continued to wreck
havoc across the NASDAQ and CIEN felt the pain.  The share price
fell another 7.4% on 1.5 times the ADV.  In the absence of a
much hoped for rebound today combined with the indisputable
violation of our $78 stop, we have no choice but to drop CIEN
from our call list.

CTX $41.78 -1.98 (-2.72) Profit takers showed up this week at
the $45 level and booked recent gains.  Today's move was rather
extreme for CTX, falling 5%.  It appears that after last week's
news that homebuilders were off to a strong start in January,
investors sold on the news.  Our stop at $43 was overtaken today
by the wave of selling, resulting in a drop tonight.

LOW $54.31 -3.99 (-2.19)  LOW saw liquidation all day as the
stock plunged from $58 until the close.  Volume was relatively
lighter than the past two weeks, but the 7% slide is no less
painful.  With concerns over consumer sentiment already abound,
this morning's stronger-than-expected CPI re-ignited fears of
inflation.  Retailers across the board felt the pain, and LOW
violated our stop of $57.  We are dropping it from the call list

SGR $49.50 -2.20 (-2.54)  SGR fell today along with other business
cycle sensitive issues after the stronger-than-expected CPI.  Given
potential inflationary worries and slowing economic growth,
investors ponder whether the Fed will cut rates prior to their
March 20th meeting.  These concerns over the Fed wringing its hands
about inflation versus a slowing economy brought negative sentiment
to SGR.  The stock slipped below our stop of $50 and we must drop
it this evening.

CPN $44.24 -1.46 (-3.00) CPN fell today on news about the
California energy situation.  Duke Energy said that it would not
sign long-term contracts to provide power unless the state
guarantees that it will get paid.  On February 7th, CPN signed
a 10-year deal valued at $4.6 billion.  Duke also stated that
they feel California seemed to be losing its sense of urgency in
regard to solving the energy crisis.  This raised concern in the
market that payments will not be guaranteed amid uncertainty in
the solution.  CPN felt the selling pressure and close under our
stop at $45.  While the stock very well rebound, we must drop it


BRCD $44.69 -0.19 (-8.56) As the NASDAQ attempted to recover
this morning, BRCD gave aggressive investors one last entry
opportunity as the stock traded up to nearly $51 by lunchtime.
As the markets began their long afternoon slide, BRCD went
along for the ride, falling to close very near where it ended
the day yesterday.  We've gotten a nice ride from the play, but
as we mentioned last night, it is time to move on.  BRCD
announced earnings tonight after the close, and with BRCD
beating estimates by a penny, the near-term trading direction
will likely be determined by the tone of the company's
conference call this afternoon.  Judging by the -$8 drop in
the after-hours session, it was not well received, giving an
extra burst of profits to those who decided to take on the
added risk of holding over the announcement.


Gauging A Recovery
By Mary Redmond

While the stock market seems to be poised in suspended
animation, we may need to look at the bond market for clues
as to the progression of the recovery in progress.  Specifically,
the spread between Treasuries and high yield debt has a
significant impact on the stock market, as well as the entire

In his December speech, Chairman Greenspan stated that the
Federal Reserve must intervene when banks and the capital markets
start to become so risk averse that companies cannot obtain
financing for expansion.

In fact, we have swung the pendulum from a propensity toward
excessive risk in the last few years to the excessive caution
we have been experiencing in the last several months.  During
1999 and early 2000, it was so easy for small companies to issue
new shares that over $350 billion in IPOs were issued.  Not only
did this drain liquidity from the market, but now individual and
institutional investors have found that many of these stocks are
currently in critical need of additional financing which they are
unable to obtain.  This can lead to additional risk averse

The equity IPO market has been in a serious bear market since
last fall, and shows few signs of recuperating.  Only a few
IPOs have been successfully issued in 2001.  Since the majority
of IPO buyers are institutions, this can indicate a high level
of caution and selectivity among institutional buyers.

However, the credit spreads are gradually starting to narrow.
Several companies have been able to issue substantial debt
offerings since the Fed's rate cuts, which would have been
impossible with the yields we saw last fall.  While this is
an optimistic sign, we may need to realize that credit spreads
may have further to go before a true recovery is complete.

The graph below shows the approximate historical credit spreads
compared to the S&P 500.  The worst spread in recent history
occurred during the 1991 recession.  Following the Federal
Reserve's rate increases, and subsequent rate decreases in
the 1994-1995 period, the credit spreads narrowed to a level
of approximately between 400 and 500 basis points.  Risky
high yield bonds paid about 400 to 500 basis points above

Last fall, before the Fed's rate cuts, credit spreads had
widened to at one point over 800 basis points.  High yield
debt interest payments rose to over 12 to 13%.  Investors
in the credit markets became more selective and discriminating,
since this yield generally implied a default rate of about
9%, which is historically very high.  This credit crunch
practically cut off the life line to many rapidly expanding
telecom stocks, which rely heavily on the corporate debt
markets.  Since the Fed cut rates by 100 basis points, high
yield debt rates have fallen by nearly 200 basis points.
Ideally, we would like to see spreads fall even further, to
the levels we experienced from 1995 to 1997.

When we see credit spreads narrow further, as long as other
macroeconomic factors remain benign, and inflation is under
control, this could be the sign that the recovery is well
underway.  At that point, companies could more freely borrow
money to finance their expansions.  The customers of companies
like Cisco and Nortel could start ordering more equipment,
which could lead to company managements revising their
expectations upward.

However, there are profitable trades which can be made in both
calls and puts.  While put players may have found it easy to
profit in the last weeks, call plays have occurred in certain
sectors and circumstances.

For example, AES has been bucking the trend of the overall
market in the last few weeks, as the energy sector has come
into favor.  AES and CPN have attracted investor interest as
the California energy crisis intensified, and the increasing
demand for energy has become apparent.  In addition, the
stock reported excellent earnings and several analysts have
upgraded both AES and others in its sector in the last few

A daily chart pattern of AES shows a stock in a strong upward
trend, with a bullish wedge developing with resistance at the
$60 level.  After watching the stock's pattern closely, it
was apparent that AES had fairly low sensitivity to weakness in
the Dow and Nasdaq.

A possible entry point occurred when the stock spiked out of
the Bollinger bands when viewed on a 15 and 30 minute chart.
This occurred in combination with the other technical indicators
moving up.  While it is unclear if the stock will have sufficient
strength to break out of the bullish wedge, the position offered
a profit opportunity for aggressive traders

Since this type of market is riskier than one which is in a
clearly defined rally, traders might want to get in and out of
positions quickly.  One of the most accurate short-term tools
for gauging a daily oversold and overbought condition is the
new Nasdaq Volitility Index(VXN.X or $VXN).

The VXN has a much wider range than the VIX, however, if you
watch the VXN compared to the action of the QQQ, you will see
that over the last month, a buying level has occurred when the
VXN spikes out of its Bollinger bands to the upside, which has
usually occurred around the 66 level, and a sell indicator
has occurred when the VXN spikes out of the Bands to the downside,
which has occurred around 62.

The is not completely failure proof, but for a range bound market,
it has had a high level of accuracy in the last couple of weeks.
For example, on Wednesday morning, following the release of the CPI,
an entry point for QQQ calls occurred, when the QQQ dropped to $51.
However, at this point, the VXN remains in the high range and we
will have to wait and see how much longer the Nasdaq and QQQ can
remain in this oversold condition.

Why put all your risk into one stock when you can play the
index instead?

Learn how to invest in the OEX, QQQ, and SPX.  Get intraday
market updates, plays, education and daily commentaries by
those who know.

Sign up for a two week free trial and see for yourself at


SDS - SunGard Data Systems Inc. $59.16 +0.91 (+1.90 this week)

SunGard is a global leader in integrated IT solutions and
eProcessing for financial services.  SunGard is also the pioneer
and a leading provider of high-availability infrastructure for
business continuity.  SunGard provides a wide range of modular,
best-of-breed financial software solutions that are integrated
using standard message protocols and SunGard integration
technologies to form highly scalable, web-enabled enterprise

Most Recent Write-Up

SDS continued to display relative strength in a market that is
not necessarily friendly to anything tech-related.  However, SDS'
strength is not isolated; several of its competitors traded higher
during Tuesday's tough session for the tech sector.  SDS' relative
strength should bode well going forward if the Nasdaq and broader
tech sector rebounds.  Having said that, the most prudent strategy
would be to wait for an advancing Nasdaq in conjunction with
strength in competitors such as FISV before entering new SDS
positions.  If you get confirmation early Wednesday morning, new
positions can be added at current levels, thereafter traders might
look to take some profits as SDS approaches $60.  Low volume
pullbacks can be pursued conservatively, but be aware that we've
raised our protective stop to $57 and would drop coverage on SDS
if the stock closed below that level.


SDS has been a strong performer, and although it finished higher
on the day, resistance at $60 has been established.  The stock
bounced from $58 this morning and ran straight to $60.  There
very well may be a pullback tomorrow that can provide entry.
Look for a bounce from intraday support at $58, and possibly
another run at $60.  A break above resistance at $60 on strong
buying volume would also provide a nice entry point.  Continued
selling in SDS along with a recovering NASDAQ might be rotation
and a sign to pass.

BUY CALL MAR-55 SDS-CK OI=1419 at $5.00 SL=3.25
BUY CALL MAR-60*SDS-CL OI= 228 at $2.00 SL=1.00
BUY CALL APR-55 SDS-DK OI= 804 at $6.50 SL=4.75
BUY CALL APR-60 SDS-DL OI= 348 at $3.75 SL=2.00



Retesting the lows...and is the worst yet to come?

Stocks moved lower today as additional signs of inflation weighed
heavily on investors.  The despairing corporate earnings outlook
added to recent concerns about the effects of a slowing economy,
effectively ending any hopes of a near-term rebound in technology
shares.  New economic data also showed an unexpected increase in
January consumer prices, pressuring traders with indications that
inflation may be increasing despite lagging growth.  The Labor
Department reported a 0.6% climb in the consumer-price index for
January, well above the 0.3% rise that analysts were expecting.
The latest price data augmented last week's producer-price index,
which also showed signs of inflation and troubled investors.  On
the bright side, much of the increase in the CPI was due to a rise
in natural gas prices, which have since deflated and experts noted
that the FOMC has said the slowing economy, not inflation, is its
primary near-term concern.  The real problem is that traders are
worried that the central bank might not reduce interest rates by
the expected half-percentage point at its upcoming policy meeting.
With the NASDAQ now firmly reestablished in a downtrend, the fact
that we will soon be hearing another round of mediocre earnings
announcements makes this outcome seemingly unbearable.   The one
ray of hope comes from the contrarian viewpoint, which suggests
that when conditions appear to be at their worst, that's a "buy"
signal that can't be overlooked.  I, for one, would entertain
almost any reason for a recovery at this point...

Summary of Previous Picks:

NOTE:  February prices as of Friday's Expiration

Covered Calls: (Margin would double the listed Monthly Return)

Stock  Strike Strike Cost   Current Profit  Monthly
Symbol Month  Price  Basis  Price   (Loss)  Return

CTLM    FEB    35    34.06  37.31    $0.94   5.2%

ERTS    MAR    45    42.88  47.25    $2.12   5.0%

Positions closed: FTE, ADI, EMLX

Naked Puts:

Stock  Strike Strike Cost   Current Profit  Monthly
Symbol Month  Price  Basis  Price   (Loss)  Return

CTLM    FEB    35    33.94  37.31    $1.06  18.7%
UHS     FEB    80    78.95  85.15    $1.05  12.9%
CMVT    FEB    90    88.81 103.75    $1.19   9.5%
IDTI    FEB    35    34.44  41.88    $0.56   5.1%

BRKS    MAR    30    29.31  36.63    $0.69   8.3%
ERTS    MAR    40    39.12  47.25    $0.88   8.0%
AEOS    MAR    45    43.94  56.88    $1.06   6.9%
SEIC    MAR    75    73.94  83.63    $1.06   5.3%
DIGL    MAR    35    33.56  27.56   -$6.00   0.0% Closed

Positions closed: VSTR, EMLX, FTE, ADI

Sell Strangles:

Stock  Strike Strike Cost   Current Profit  Monthly
Symbol Month  Price  Basis  Price   (Loss)  Return

VECO    FEB    30    29.06  49.44    $0.94   7.3%
VECO    FEB    95    96.13  49.44    $1.13   8.7%

AFFX    FEB    50    49.19  62.31    $0.81   7.4%
AFFX    FEB    97.5  98.31  62.31    $0.81   7.4%

AFFX    FEB    52.5  51.81  62.31    $0.69   9.4%
AFFX    FEB    85    85.69  62.31    $0.69   9.4%

VECO    FEB    35    34.50  49.44    $0.50   8.0%
VECO    FEB    80    80.63  49.44    $0.63  10.0%

CHKP    FEB    80    79.25  90.19    $0.75  11.5% Adj 3-2 split
CHKP    FEB   113.3 114.00  90.19    $0.67   9.4% Adj 3-2 split

MUSE    MAR    40    38.94  50.06    $1.06   7.8%
MUSE    MAR    95    96.06  50.06    $1.06   7.8%

Naked Calls:

Stock  Strike Strike Cost   Current Profit  Monthly
Symbol Month  Price  Basis  Price   (Loss)  Return

OSIP    FEB    85    86.13  47.88    $1.13   8.6%
BRCD    FEB   135   136.25  53.25    $1.25   7.4%
CIEN    FEB   145   146.00  82.63    $1.00   6.2%
MYGN    FEB   100   100.69  62.00    $0.69   6.1%

BEAS    MAR    80    80.94  45.81    $0.94   8.3%

Credit Spreads:

Stock  Pick    Last     Position   Credit    C/B    G/L   Status

CMVT  $121.63 $103.75 FEB95p/100p  $0.75   $99.25  $0.75   Exp
ITG   $45.81   $51.80 FEB35p/40p   $0.69   $39.31  $0.69   Exp
CEPH  $58.50   $58.50 FEB75c/70c   $0.38   $70.38  $0.38   Exp
IMPH  $55.94   $56.25 FEB45p/50p   $0.75   $49.25  $0.75   Exp

NBR   $62.30   $57.90 MAR50p/55p   $0.60   $54.40  $0.60   Alert

Positions closed: A-FEB45p/50p - Murphy's Law rebound on Friday
to $50, NUFO-FEB40p/45p

Debit Straddles:

Stock  Pick    Last     Position   Debit    G/L    Status

ASFC  $55.91  $54.38   MAR55c/55p  $4.38   $-1.57   Open
FAST  $57.69  $56.94   MAR60c/60p  $5.50   $-0.62   Open

Positions closed: AC-FEB55c/55p, reached profit target, $0.75
(30%) gain.

New Candidates:

This following group of plays is simply a list of candidates to
supplement your search for profitable trading positions.  As
with any investment, you must decide if the selections meet your
criteria for potential plays.  Only you can know what strategies
are suitable for your skill level, risk-reward tolerance and
portfolio outlook.  In addition, we recommend that you avoid any
strategy or technique in which you are not completely comfortable
with the potential loss, the necessary adjustments and the common
entry-exit strategies.  (We monitor the positions marked with ***).


BULLISH PLAYS - Covered Calls, Naked Puts, & Combinations

CCMP - Cabot Microelectronics  $91.19  *** Technicals Only! ***

Cabot Microelectronics (NASDAQ:CCMP) is a supplier of slurries
used in chemical mechanical planarization, or CMP, a polishing
process used in the manufacturing of integrated circuit devices.
The company has also begun selling new slurries for polishing of
the magnetic heads and the coating on hard disks in hard disk
drives.  In addition, it recently began limited production of
CMP polishing pads for customer evaluation and qualification.

We originally found this position while scanning for charts of
bullish issues with favorable option premiums.  Unfortunately,
there is little reason to explain the strength of the stock,
considering the bearish market conditions.  A Goldman Sachs
analyst recently raised her 2001 EPS estimates for CCMP, based
on the company's stellar earnings report.  Cabot announced that
revenues for the quarter increased 97% to $68 million while net
income for the quarter increased 206% over the prior year.  The
company benefited from revenue growth across all applications
and regions, and the outlook for the production of advanced IC
devices remains strong overall.  CCMP officials anticipate that
2001 revenues will increase in excess of 50%, with earnings
between 16% and 18% of revenue, due to slightly higher growth
and slightly lower costs for the overall year.

Based on the current price of the underlying issue and its
recent technical history, these positions offer reasonable
speculation for traders who are bullish in the semiconductor
equipment industry.

CCMP - Cabot Microelectronics  $91.19

PLAY (sell covered call or naked put):

Action    Month &  Option  Open     Closing  Cost     Monthly
Req'd     Strike   Symbol  Interest Price    Basis    Return

Sell Call MAR 70   UKR CN  10       24.00    67.19     5.5% ***
Sell Call MAR 75   UKR CO  44       20.25    70.94     7.6%

Sell Put  MAR 60   UKR OL  130       1.13    58.87     7.7% ***
Sell Put  MAR 65   UKR OM  154       1.88    63.12    12.4%
Sell Put  MAR 70   UKR ON  128       2.88    67.12    18.0%
Sell Put  MAR 75   UKR OO  110       3.88    71.12    21.2%



INTU - Intuit  $38.00  *** Solid Earnings! ***

Intuit (NASDAQ:INTU) offers a variety of small business, tax
preparation and personal finance software products and related
products and services that enable people and small businesses to
revolutionize how they manage their activities.  The company's
products and services include QuickBooks, Quicken, TurboTax,
ProSeries and Lacerte desktop software products, as well as an
expanding array of Internet-based products including QuickBooks
Deluxe Payroll service, QuickBooks Internet Gateway services,
the Site Builder website tool, Quicken TurboTax for the Web,
Quicken.com, Quicken Loans and QuickenInsurance.  Intuit offers
products and services through four principal business divisions:
Small Business, Tax, Consumer Finance and International.

Intuit shares rallied today after the personal-finance software
maker posted quarterly earnings that beat consensus expectations,
despite slowing sales of its core accounting software product.
The company reported second-quarter earnings of $104 million, or
$0.48 a share, which compared favorably with quarterly earnings
of $91 million, or $0.44 a share, a year earlier.  Analysts had
expected earnings of $0.45 a share for the quarter and after the
announcement, Salomon Smith Barney raised its investment rating
on the company to "outperform."  A Prudential Securities analyst
also reiterated his "strong buy" rating on the stock, saying that
he believes investors who aggressively purchase Intuit shares
will be rewarded.  Our outlook is not quite as optimistic, but we
do think that the opportunity to own this issue near the target
cost basis is favorable, considering the fundamental outlook for
the company.

INTU - Intuit  $38.00

PLAY (sell covered call or naked put):

Action    Month &  Option  Open     Closing  Cost     Monthly
Req'd     Strike   Symbol  Interest Price    Basis    Return

Sell Call MAR 35   IQU CG  18700     4.75    33.25     7.0% ***

Sell Put  MAR 30   IQU OF  1138      0.62    29.38    10.0% ***
Sell Put  MAR 35   IQU OG  1790      1.81    33.19    17.1%



NOC - Northrop Grumman  $94.82  *** New Trading Range! ***

Northrop Grumman (NYSE:NOC) is an advanced technology company
operating in the Integrated Systems and Aerostructures (ISA),
Electronic Sensors and Systems (ESS), and Information Technology
(IT) segments of the aerospace and defense industry.  The ISA
segment includes the design, development and manufacturing of
aircraft and aircraft subassemblies.  The ESS segment includes
the design, development, manufacturing and integration of
electronic systems and components for military and commercial
use.  Logicon, the Company's IT segment, includes the design,
development, operation and support of computer systems for
scientific and management information.

Northrop Grumman shares continued to move higher today, after
the aerospace company announced that its Oceanic and Naval
Systems business unit had been awarded a $22 million contract
by the U.S. Naval Sea Systems Command, to provide shipboard
radar systems.  The contract is just one is a slew of recent
awards and the news confirms SG Cowen's recent comments that
Northrop Grumman is well positioned to absorb policy changes
under President George W. Bush's administration.  Northrop,
which makes the B2 bomber and combat radar systems, is expected
to benefit from a shift in the U.S. military's focus to naval
forces from infantry and land-based systems.  In addition, the
proposed merger with shipbuilder Litton Industries (NYSE:LIT)
is considered a good strategic fit, strengthening the company's
defense electronics and information technologies while boosting

Technically, NOC is resuming its Stage II climb, moving above
resistance (September - October highs) to a new two-year high.
The buying pressure also continues to increase, suggesting the
upside momentum will continue.

NOC - Northrop Grumman  $94.82

PLAY (aggressive - bullish/credit spread):

BUY  PUT  MAR-85  NOC-OQ  OI=63  A=0.35
SELL PUT  MAR-90  NOC-OR  OI=34  B=1.00



NVDA - Nvidia  $56.00  *** Positive Outlook! ***

Nvidia (NAADAQ:NVDA) designs, develops and markets 3D graphics
processors, graphics processing units and related software that
set the standard for performance, quality and features for every
type of personal computer user, from professional workstations to
low-cost PCs.  The company's 3D graphics processors are used in a
wide variety of applications including games, the Internet and
industrial design.  Its graphics processors were the first to
incorporate a 128-bit multi-texturing graphics architecture
designed to deliver to users of its products a highly immersive,
interactive 3D experience with compelling visual quality, with
realistic imagery and motion, stunning effects, and complex object
and scene interaction at real-time frame rates.  The company sells
its products to major OEMs such as Compaq, Dell, Gateway, Hewlett
Packard, IBM, micronpc.com, NEC, Packard Bell and Sony and add-in
board manufacturers such as ASUStek, Creative Labs, Elsa, Guillemot
and Leadtek.

Nvidia recently reported favorable profits, announcing quarterly
earnings of $0.38 a share, a penny higher than analysts expected.
For the fourth quarter of fiscal 2001, revenues increased to $218
million, compared to $128 million for the fourth quarter of 2000,
an increase of 70%.  In the conference call, Nvidia President and
CEO Jen-Hsun Huang announced that the company's next push would be
into supplying the mobile computing market with 3D graphics chips,
currently a nonexistent part of its revenue mix.  He also said
that the second half of 2001 would be when the first returns from
the Microsoft Xbox are recognized, a positive boost to the bottom
line.  Investors applauded the news and NVDA has now reversed its
downtrend, jumping back above its 150 dma on heavy volume and
taking out the January high in the process.  The bullish activity
suggests additional upside movement in the future and traders can
speculate on that outcome with these conservative positions.

NVDA - Nvidia  $56.00

PLAY (sell naked put):

Action    Month &  Option  Open     Closing  Cost     Monthly
Req'd     Strike   Symbol  Interest Price    Basis    Return

Sell Put  MAR 40   UVA OH  2007      0.75    39.25     8.3% ***
Sell Put  MAR 45   UVA OI  2288      1.44    43.56    14.8%
Sell Put  MAR 50   UVA OJ  752       2.75    47.25    19.0%



WPI - Watson Pharmaceuticals  $55.98  *** Bullish Breakout? ***

Watson Pharmaceuticals (NYSE:WPI) is engaged in the development,
production, marketing and distribution of branded and off-patent
pharmaceutical products.  WPI's products include therapeutic and
preventive agents sold by prescription or over-the-counter for
the treatment of human diseases and disorders.  Watson has grown,
through internal product development and synergistic acquisitions
of products and businesses, into a diversified pharmaceutical
company that currently markets over 100 branded and off-patent
products.  The company is also engaged in the development of
advanced drug delivery systems, primarily designed to enhance the
therapeutic benefits of pharmaceutical products, both to expand
Watson's own product line and under collaborative agreements with
other parties.

Watson Pharmaceuticals has a number of positive factors working
on its behalf, the most favorable of which appears to be the
potential for reform of a key generic drug law.  Members of both
houses of Congress are planning to re-introduce legislation to
update the 1984 law that governs generic competition and that
activity is seen as a positive move for stocks in this group.  In
addition, generic drug companies continue to enjoy a favorable
industry environment and valuations in the sector are reasonable.
Over the next few years, patents on a number of brand-name drugs
will expire and the generic drug segment is expected to realize
significant upside earnings growth.  Traders who agree with a
positive outlook for the industry and WPI can speculate on its
short-term movement with this conservative position.

PLAY (conservative - bullish/credit spread):

BUY  PUT  MAR-45  WPI-OI  OI=14   A=0.30
SELL PUT  MAR-50  WPI-OJ  OI=238  B=0.80
INITIAL NET CREDIT TARGET=$0.55-$0.60  ROI(max)=12%


Neutral Plays - Straddles & Strangles

CERN - Cerner  $56.25  *** Premium Selling! ***

Cerner (NASDAQ:CERN) designs, develops, markets, installs and
supports information technology, and content solutions for
healthcare organizations and consumers.  These solutions are
capable of being implemented on an individual, combined or
enterprise-wide basis and are accessible over the Internet by
consumers, physicians, and healthcare providers.  The company's
integrated suite of solutions enable healthcare providers to
improve operating effectiveness, reduce costs, and improve the
quality of care as measured by clinical outcomes.  Cerner's
solutions are designed to provide useful health information and
knowledge to care givers, clinicians, and consumers with the
appropriate management information to healthcare administration
on a real-time basis, allowing secure access to data by clinical
and administrative users in organized settings of care and by
consumers from their home.

Cerner is an excellent candidate in the premium-selling category
of options trading.  The issue has robust option premiums, a
relatively well-defined trading range and a high probability of
remaining between the sold (short) strike prices.  The company
has already announced earnings for the quarter and officials are
comfortable with consensus estimates for the coming year.  In
addition, the maximum price target for the issue (among brokers)
is $65 and no news announcements or major events are expected
before the March options expire.  Based on historical analysis
of option pricing and the underlying stock's technical history,
the issue meets our criteria for a favorable credit strangle.

CERN - Cerner  $56.25

PLAY (aggressive - neutral/credit strangle):

Action    Month &  Option  Open     Closing  Cost     Monthly
Req'd     Strike   Symbol  Interest Price    Basis    Return

Sell Put  MAR 45   CQN OI  23        0.81    44.19     8.9%
Sell Call MAR 65   CQN CM  132       1.19    66.19    10.5%

- or -

Sell Put  MAR 50   CQN OJ  100       1.75    48.25    12.9%
Sell Call MAR 60   CQN CL  575       2.75    62.75    16.9%



SDS - Sunguard Data Systems  $59.03  *** Too Far, Too fast? ***

SunGard Data Systems (NYSE:SDS) provides integrated technology
solutions, principally proprietary software and application
services to the financial services industry; and business
continuity and Internet services, comprised of high-availability
infrastructure, Web-hosting, co-location, outsourcing and remote
access computer services.  In addition, the company provides a
workflow management system that increases business efficiency
and flexibility in managing healthcare insurance organizations,
and an automated mailing-services business.

The recent rally in SDS began early in February when the maker
of software systems for financial services companies posted a 37%
increase in fourth-quarter income.  The profits exceeded most
analyst's expectations and the upside surprise came amid growth
in the company's investment support systems, business and also
Internet services segments.  Investors reacted favorably to the
news, driving the issue well out of its recent trading range to
a new all-time high.  Now it appears that the stock is slightly
overbought and with the potential for future volatility and the
discounted option prices, we can speculate conservatively on the
future movement of the issue.

PLAY (conservative - neutral/debit straddle):

BUY  CALL  MAR-60  SDS-CL  OI=228  A=$2.05
BUY  PUT   MAR-60  SDS-OL  OI=16   A=$2.90


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