Option Investor

Daily Newsletter, Monday, 05/09/2005

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Table of Contents

  1. Market Wrap
  2. New Option Plays
  3. In Play Updates and Reviews
  4. Options 101

Market Wrap



The markets traded a narrow range on very light volume in a quiet, listless session. For the first time in over a week, the previous day's low was broken, a lower low and lower high for the Dow. An end of session ramp job cleared the Friday highs for the S&P and Nasdaq, but the Dow failed to make it.

Volume breadth was positive for the session, with the NYSE leading the way, 3.39 advancing shares for each declining. On the Nasdaq, there were 1.73 advancing shares for each declining. Total volume was light, with combined Nasdaq and NYSE volume barely breaking 2.8 billion.

Daily Dow Chart

An end-of-session ramp closed the Dow less than a point off its 10384.86 high. The bounce from the 10320 low was sufficiently sharp to leave a bullish doji hammer. While there may well be followthrough tomorrow, the light volume and lack of drama don't fit the profile for a valid doji reversal, particularly because today's print reversed in the direction of the broader daily trend. The break of Friday's low was the first warning shot across the bow of the daily cycle upphase, and 10320 will be a key level to watch tomorrow. A break of that level could qualify as a bearish ascending wedge breakdown as well, projecting potentially to the low 10000's. To the upside, 10400 and 10440 are immediate resistance.

Daily S&P 500 Chart

The SPX added 7.49 to close at 1178.84, just off a session high of 1178.87. As with the Dow, the end of session ramp was the cherry on top, actually breaking Friday's high and qualifying today as a key outside reversal- the lower low was followed by a higher high. However, the light volume and the "reversal" in the direction of the broader trend are problematic to that interpretation. There's strong resistance to 1180, actually 1182, and while the daily upphase continues, it's approaching overbought territory. The 1186-90 zone should cap the current run if the bulls are able to clear immediate resistance from here. To the downside, a break of today's low on strong volume will set up the same wedge break noted on the Dow.

Daily Nasdaq Chart

The end of session ramp for the Nasdaq broke the Friday high, as it did on the SPX but failed to do on the Dow and QQQQ. The light volume made today a difficult session to read, and as with the SPX, the closing print at the 1979.67 is right on strong resistance of 1980. Above this level, the 1996-2000 and 2025 levels are next resistance, while the 1960 low is at trendline support. Below that level, the daily cycle upphase would be threatened.

Daily TNX Chart

Ten year treasury yields (TNX) melted up Friday following the release of the employment report, and while bonds did not fall apart today, the TNX did not give back any of its Friday gains. The daily cycle upphase, while slow in coming, is in full swing. The current TNX rally faces resistance at 4.3% followed by bollinger resistance at 4.37% and then the 4.4%-4.44% confluence. Support is at the 22 day EMA, followed by 4.22%-4.24%. For the day, the TNX added 1.2 bps to close at 4.278%.

The Treasury auctioned $28 billion in 13-week and 26-week bills, comprised of $15 billion in 13-week bills and $13 billion in 26-week bills. The 13-week auction generated a respectable 2.18 bids for each accepted, with a high-rate of 2.85%, while the 26-week bills fetched a bid-to-cover ratio of 2.32 and a high rate of 3.12%. Indirect bidders (foreign central banks) took $7.1 billion or 25% of the total.

Chart of Crude oil

Crude oil followed Friday's pattern today, trading an uneasy range bound chop only to rocket higher into the close, reversing an earlier loss to close 1.075 or 2.11% at 52.025 on the Nymex. On the daily chart, the bounce from 49 support has the oscillators turning up from their most recent downphase, and a close above 52 should be enough to generate preliminary buy signals in this timeframe.

The Bank of England's rate announcement was released at 7AM, with no change to the 4.75% rate for a 9th consecutive month. Analysts were expecting England's central bank to leave rates unchanged.

At 10AM, the Commerce Department released the lone economic report of the day, Wholesale Inventories for March. Wholesale Inventories grew 0.4% in the latest month, less than the 0.7% expected and February's 0.6% gain. Sales rose 0.2%, bringing the inventory-to-sales ratio to 1.19. The 0.4% reading was disappointing but still represents an 11% increase over March 2004's level. The inventory-to-sales level remains very low, slightly above the 1.14 low last year, suggesting a good balance between wholesale supply and demand currently.

In corporate news, Alcan (AL) announced earnings that rose from $106 million or 29 cents per share on revenue of $6.01 billion in Q1 2004 to $218 million or 58 cents on revenue of $5.17 billion in the current quarter. Based on current operations only, net EPS was 56 cents, meeting expectations, as did the $5.15 billion revenue figure. AL closed lower by 1.08% at 33.

Cellular distributor Brightpoint (CELL) reported earnings that rose from -$2.2 million or -11 cents per share on revenue of $440.2 million in Q1 2004 to $2.8 million or 16 cents per share on revenue of $485.6 million. The company cited growth in use of wireless devices, and estimates that the industry grew 20% during the quarter. CELL got smoked for a 6.62% loss at 18.77 on nearly 11 times its average daily volume.

On Friday night, Berkshire Hathaway (BRKA, BRKB) reported Q1 earnings that declined from $1.55 billion or $1,008 per share on revenue of $17.18 billion in Q1 2004 to $1.36 billion or $886 per share (basis BRKA shares) on revenue of $17.18 billion. The company's position in cash and cash equivalents from $40.9 billion in the year-ago quarter to $46.71 billion. The company also disclosed that an executive at General Re received a Wells Notice from the SEC, which is investigating some of the company's reinsurance activities and is considering filing civil lawsuits against that executive for alleged violations of securities laws. BRKA closed lower by $749 or 0.89% at $83,250.

Earnings season is winding down, but there was plenty of merger news today, with Duke Energy (DUK) announcing that will purchase Cinergy (CIN) in a $9 billion all-stock deal. Each share of CIN will be converted to 1.56 DUK shares, the equivalent of paying $45.80 for each CIN share, which places a 13.4% premium on DUK's closing price of $40.38 on Friday. The merger will resulted in the elimination of approximately 1500 jobs, roughly 5% of the companies' combined workforce. DUK's CEO will be chairman of the new company, and DUK announced that it intends to increase its dividend by 12.7%. Later in the session, Fitch blessed the deal, affirming DUK's and its subsidiaries' debt ratings, as well as those of CIN, at "stable." DUK closed lower by 1.84% at 28.82, while CIN gained 4.8% to close at 42.32.

Kirk Kerkorian's Tracinda made news again on the GM tape, filed a tender offer with the SEC for the acquisition of 28 million shares to add to its current 22 million shares of GM- a move that would bring its ownership to 8.84% of the company. The price per share is $31. Tracinda disclosed that it had begun acquiring shares in the open market in April. GM gained 1.85% to close at 31.33.

Tomorrow could be another quiet day, with no economic reports scheduled and only a 3-year note and 4-week bill auction from the Treasury. CSCO reports after the bell, with analysts looking for EPS of 22 cents and revenue of $6.16 billion. With volume so light during the past few sessions and no major scheduled data points until the CSCO release, we could be in for another snoozer. The cycle picture suggests that the daily cycle upphase in place for the past 2 weeks should begin running out of racetrack this week, and while the topping process is often a slow, choppy affair (as was the last daily cycle bottom), the low volume environment can encourage sudden spikes and gappy trading as we saw at today's close. Whatever happens, don't let boredom trick you into taking a position of which you're not confident. It's much easier to watch a sleepy range than to be grinding your teeth, obsessing about which way it might to break. With the market going on its 3rd consecutive light volume session and the indices walking up daily trendline support, chances are we'll get some direction (and volume) soon.


New Plays

New Option Plays

Call Options Plays
Put Options Plays

New Calls

Research In Motion - RIMM - cls: 70.02 chg: 2.08 stop: 66.85

Company Description:
Research In Motion is a leading designer, manufacturer and marketer of innovative wireless solutions for the worldwide mobile communications market. Through the development of integrated hardware, software and services that support multiple wireless network standards, RIM provides platforms and solutions for seamless access to time-sensitive information including email, phone, SMS messaging, Internet and intranet-based applications. RIM technology also enables a broad array of third party developers and manufacturers to enhance their products and services with wireless connectivity to data. RIM's portfolio of award-winning products, services and embedded technologies are used by thousands of organizations around the world and include the BlackBerry wireless platform, the RIM Wireless Handheld(TM) product line, software development tools, radio-modems and software/hardware licensing agreements. Founded in 1984 and based in Waterloo, Ontario, RIM operates offices in North America, Europe and Asia Pacific. (source: company press release)

Why We Like It:
It may be time to speculate on another leg higher in RIMM. The company put out a press release this morning stating that their Blackberry platform has surpassed the three million subscriber mark. The company's press release said the last six months saw more than one million new customers. Short-term technicals like the RSI and stochastics are bullish and its MACD indicator has produced a new buy signal (as of Friday). Now before we continue we feel the need to remind readers that RIMM can be very volatile and it tends to be boom or bust for option plays. This is a high-risk candidate and traders should plan their strategy accordingly. Not only does RIMM itself make this a high risk play but the NASDAQ, while inching higher, is still under resistance at the 2000 level and its 200-dma's. We suggest that readers use a trigger at $70.51 to open the play. We'll target a move toward the $76.00-77.00 range since the P&F chart shows resistance near $76.00. Our initial stop loss will be $66.85. This is a wide stop. More conservative traders should consider a tighter stop. Really conservative players probably want to consider NOT playing this candidate.

Suggested Options:
We are suggesting the June calls.

BUY CALL JUN 65.00 RUP-FM OI=3061 current ask $7.60
BUY CALL JUN 70.00 RUP-FN OI=7824 current ask $4.50
BUY CALL JUN 75.00 RUP-FO OI=7515 current ask $2.50

Picked on May xx at $ xx.xx <-- see TRIGGER
Change since picked: 0.00
Earnings Date 04/05/05 (confirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 1.7 million

New Puts

None today.

Play Updates

In Play Updates and Reviews

Call Updates

Avalonbay - AVB - close: 74.15 change: 1.41 stop: 69.49

AVB added another 1.9 percent on Monday and is nearing our target in the $75-76 range. Readers can prepare to exit. More conservative traders may want to exit early (like now). There is no change from our previous update on 05/08/05.

Picked on April 24 at $ 70.05
Change since picked: 4.10
Earnings Date 04/21/05 (confirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 345 thousand


Chubb Corp - CB - close: 84.05 chg: 0.50 stop: 79.49

Insurance stocks pretty much paced the market's rise today and CB followed suit after a brief dip toward $82.55. We see no change from our previous update on 05/08/05.

Picked on May 01 at $ 81.78
Change since picked: 2.27
Earnings Date 04/25/05 (confirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 1.2 million


Coventry Hlth Care - CVH - close: 69.61 chg: 0.09 stop: 66.99

We are a little surprised that CVH did not participate more in today's broad market gains. We remain on the sidelines waiting for CVH to breakout over resistance at the $70.00 level and hit our trigger/entry point at $70.51 to open the play. No change from our previous update on 05/08/05.

Picked on May xx at $ xx.xx <-- see TRIGGER
Change since picked: 0.00
Earnings Date 05/03/05 (confirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 973 thousand


Golden West Fincl - GDW - close: 64.55 chg: 1.61 stop: 60.95

Good news! GDW completely erased Friday's losses with a 2.5 percent gain on Monday. It would appear that the $62.50 level is holding up as short-term support. Our target is the $66.50 level but readers may want to consider an early exit anywhere above $65.00.

Picked on April 26 at $ 62.55
Change since picked: 2.00
Earnings Date 04/20/05 (confirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 1.3 million


Hovnanian - HOV - close: 54.21 chg: 0.32 stop: 49.99

Housing stocks continue to climb. We're a little concerned that volume is drying up as HOV inches higher but we remain bullish. No change from our previous update. This does look like a bullish entry point.

Picked on May 06 at $ 54.26
Change since picked: - 0.05
Earnings Date 03/02/05 (confirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 1.2 million


Invitrogen - IVGN - close: 76.32 change: 1.29 stop: 71.49

Support at the $75.00 level is holding. Readers can use today's bounce as a new bullish entry point. No change from our previous update on 05/08/05.

Picked on May 03 at $ 75.51
Change since picked: 0.81
Earnings Date 04/28/05 (confirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 888 thousand


Eli Lilly - LLY - close: 59.76 change: -0.42 stop: 57.49

Drug stocks started the session off weak but rebounded by the closing bell. LLY lagged the rebound and traded in a 50-cent range for most of the day. We will continue to watch the $58 and $59 levels as potential support but a bounce back above $60.00 could be used as a new bullish entry point.

Picked on May 04 at $ 60.15
Change since picked: - 0.39
Earnings Date 04/18/05 (confirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 4.7 million


Nucor - NUE - close: 53.65 chg: 0.13 stop: 49.95

We are still waiting for a breakout over resistance at the $55.00 level and its 100-dma. Our entry point is currently at $55.05. FYI: NUE's annual shareholder meeting is this Thursday.

Picked on April xx at $ xx.xx <-- see TRIGGER
Change since picked: 0.00
Earnings Date 04/21/05 (confirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 3.3 million


Reynolds American - RAI - cls: 79.12 chg: -0.97 stop: 77.95

Uh-oh! Shares of RAI lost 1.2 percent and lead most of the tobacco stocks lower on Monday. We were unable to find any specific news or catalyst for today's relative weakness. We remain on the sidelines waiting for RAI to trade at or above our trigger at $81.31.

Picked on May xx at $ xx.xx <-- see TRIGGER
Change since picked: 0.00
Earnings Date 04/27/05 (confirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 866 thousand

Put Updates

Lehman Brothers - LEH - close: 91.92 chg: 1.68 stop: 92.80

If you lean toward the conservative side of trading it may be a good time to consider an early exit in LEH. Currently the stock is still in its descending channel but today's news gave the stock a 1.8 percent lift. Word that E*Trade was considering an offer to take over Ameritrade sent all the brokers higher and the XBD broker-dealer index jumped 3.2 percent to breakout over its 50-dma. This does not bode well for our bearish LEH play. Currently our stop loss is at $92.80 just north of LEH's simple 50-dma. An early exit definitely looks tempting here.

Picked on April 29 at $ 89.45
Change since picked: 2.47
Earnings Date 03/15/05 (confirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 2.3 million


Marriot - MAR - close: 62.65 chg: 0.72 stop: 64.21

MAR is still bouncing toward its simple 10-dma. We're still watching the $63.00 region for short-term resistance. We are not suggesting new bearish plays.

Picked on April 28 at $ 63.37
Change since picked: - 0.72
Earnings Date 04/21/05 (confirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 1.2 million


Parker Hannifin - PH - close: 59.97 change: 0.22 stop: 62.01

No change from previous update on 05/08/05.

Picked on April 28 at $ 59.08
Change since picked: 0.89
Earnings Date 04/18/05 (confirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 1.2 million

Dropped Calls


Dropped Puts

Adobe Systems - ADBE - close: 58.67 chg: 0.97 stop: 60.01

We're calling it quits on ADBE. Today's gain out performed the NASDAQ and the GSO software index. The technical oscillators we cautioned about last week are now looking more bullish. While there is still overhead resistance near the $60.00 level we suspect that the odds are against us as bears here.

Picked on April 26 at $ 59.12
Change since picked: - 0.45
Earnings Date 06/16/05 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 3.3 million


CDW Corp - CDWC - close: 58.38 chg: 2.01 stop: 57.26

We have been stopped out of CDWC. This morning before the open analyst firm Raymond James upgraded CDWC from an "out perform" to a "strong buy" and raised their price target to $67.00. That sent CDWC gapping open to $57.78. Our stop loss was $57.26 so we're closing the play at today's open. After some initial volatility CDWC trended higher with the rest of the market and has broken through its multi-month bearish trend of lower highs.

Picked on April 24 at $ 55.68
Change since picked: 2.70
Earnings Date 04/19/05 (confirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 920 thousand

Options 101

Flying the Condor

The use of the bull and bear spread in tandem, to reduce net outlay and maximize a small to modest move in the right direction

The Theory behind the Practice

The condor spread is a spread that is used when you are anticipating a move in one direction but with some resistance as you ultimately go in that direction. The position is most easily identified by the fact that it is a combination of 4 transactions ( basically a bear and a bull spread with certain guidelines, which we will examine in detail later in the article.) The basic theory is to spend as little out of pocket as possible to put on the position, so if you are wrong, the loss of capital is minimal. However, if you get a slight movement or a slightly better than normal movement within the trading range you anticipate, you will actually net a better return then if you had purchased a long call outright. Additionally, your out of pocket cost would also be lower then a straight purchased. This is true even with the Condor's higher transaction costs. This Condor strategy is NOT for the high tech, super volatile stock option player, but could be if the trader has a good feel of support and resistant points for a greater volatile issue. However, the position of preference is a basic value or income stock, with the optimum being preferably an Index like the DJX, SPX or QQQ. For today's example will we be using the DJIA index. (DJX).

The Real World Example: Thursday, April 14, 2005 with DJX trading at 102.35
(just in case anyone doesn't know, the price of 102.35 corresponds to the DJIA number average EX. 10,235)

Figure 1: DJIA CHART

(For the sake of example all transactions are shown without commissions, which should be considered in an actual trade.

However careful consideration must be paid to the cost of transactions fees as the condor's cost of execution is higher then just about any other spread strategy.)

Now let's examine the strategy and compare it to a:
1. A Long Call Purchase
2. A Bull Debit Spread.
For this trade we will be putting on a minimum 10 contract position
(Please take note, that the Condor would not be an appropriate trade for transactions less then 10 contracts because of potentially prohibited fees due to the number of transactions involved (which is 4)
At he time of these transaction DJX was trading at 102.35 or Dow 10,235
The Long Call Purchase of the DJX 102 Calls was $2.50 ($250) per contract.
The Debit Spread consisting of:
Short DJX June 104 Call Credit $1.50
Long DJX June 102 Call Debit -$2.50 NET DEBIT 1.00 per contract ($100)

Now let's take a look at our comparison Condor play as follows:


If it looks a little intimidating, well it really isn't. Why?

It is nothing more then 2 spreads
1. Debit Spread DJX Jun 104 calls Credit 1.50
DJX Jun 102 calls Debit -2.50 NET DEBIT -$100
(Which is actually the same as our Debit Spread above.)

However, we have a little something extra; an additional Credit Spread
Consisting of:

2. Credit Spread DJX Jun 108 call Debit $0.30 ($30)
DJX Jun 106 call Credit $0.90 ($80) NET CREDIT of $50
So let's look at our three positions and see how much each position requires us to put up and to risk. Remember we are going to put on a minimum of 10 contracts for each of our comparative positions. (Remember earlier, if you are going to only buy several contracts, the Condor is NOT the trade for you, as some of your profit will have to go to additional transaction costs.)

So here are three (3) net positions for comparison:

#1 10 Long DJX Jun 102 Calls 10 X $250 = -$2,500 TOTAL NET DEBIT

#2 10 Short DJX June 104 Calls 10 X $150 = Net Credit $1,500
10 Long DJX June 102 Calls 10 X -$250 = Net Debit -$2,500

As you can see the normal Debit Spread costs us only 1/2 as much capital to put on as the Straight Long Call Buy. However, we know that the most we will receive from the Debit spread is a PROFIT of $1,000 (before we account for commissions) and if both sides get exercised we get hit with 2 commissions, which digs into our $1000 profit. Of course our long call has unlimited upside. Right! Not so fast, remember we are not looking for a big homerun we are looking for a trading range. So the use of the Long Call is not going to hit us the homerun that is why we are using the Condor as an alternative play for small move trades within trading ranges. We are just using the Long Call to show you the advantage of the Condor for trading range moves. Always remember the INTENT of your trade. So, here with the Spread you reduce you exposure in half, so you can make $1000 less commissions or loss $1000 plus commissions. With the long call you can lose $2,500 plus commissions and would need a move to DOW 10,450 to break even (and that still is not accounting for transactions costs.). Finally, that brings us up to our Condor position.

Scenario #3: The Condor

In comparing the Condor with the Long Call and the Debit Spread we find out that
If we put on the same 10-contract position with the Condor our net out of pocket is
Only $500. (Of course we have 4 transaction fees, but do the math. Even at $20 a trade (which is high for an internet trade), that would only be $80 in transaction fees added to our net TOTAL Debit. So the Condor trade would actually cost us Debit of $580 ($500 plus $80 transaction charges.). So in reality, if we added commissions across the board
The breakdown would look like this.

Comparison of out of pocket cost for net position:

1. 10 Long Call DJX Jun 102 = Total Cost $2,500 (plus $20 comm.) =

2. 10 Short DJX June 104 Calls 10 X $150 = Net Credit $1,500(plus $20 fee)
10 Long DJX June 102 Calls 10 X -$250 = Net Debit -$2,500 (plus $20 fee)


@ Because of the credit spread positions in the condor, there is a margin requirement of $200 per contract with is $2000 for 10, which is the minimum requirement for any margin account.

# Please notice there is no more exposure then the $580 risk for the condor, unless all 4 positions get exercised then there is an additional $80 transaction fee only so total worse call scenario for the Condor is a lost of $680 assuming a maximum of eight (8) transaction calls. That is still better by far then both the Long Call and the Debit Spread.

So as you can see the maximum out of pocket exposure is only $580 with the Condor
Almost 1/2 the exposure of the spread and nearly 5 times less exposure then the Long Call.

Now let us examine several scenarios assuming an expiration somewhere in a JIA trading range between 10,200 - 10,600.

First let's compare the possible outcomes of the Long Call and Debit Spread assuming most of the possibilities within our trading range of 10,200 - 10,600.

Figure 4: Profit and Loss - Long Call vs. Debit Spread vs. Condor

Please see Exhibit A for a better understanding as to how I arrived at the following net numbers for the Condor.

EXHIBIT A: Option Prices for each Strike Price for the Condor at Jun Expiration


As you can see the spread has a lower breakeven at around 103 or DJIA 10,300
The Long Call, however, needs to reach 104.5 before a breakeven point is reached.

In addition, the Debit spread remains more profitable until roughly 105.5 or DJIA 10,550.

Of course the Long call will then outperform the debit spread after DJIA 10,600.
But once again, that is at the very tip of our trading range. (Which will would be very lucky to get, and if you recall, isn't really our goal, since we are using the Condor to make nice gains on modest moves of the DJIA within our trading range

Now the Condor has only a $500 out of pocket expenditure unless you get exercised on all four (4) positions (then add $80 for 4 transactions)

Secondly, if you examine the chart above you will see that the Condor creates a greater net profit then both the Debit Spread and the Long Call if the DJIA closes at the. Jun expiration any wear between 10,201 through 10,599 (at 10,600 it is a breakeven with the Long call, but will have a slightly higher transaction charge). The Condor will also make a maximum of $1,500 if the DJIA closes anywhere BETWEEN 10,400 to 10,600. So you have a nice range to maximize your return. Even with the extra transaction charges connected with the Condor, it appears to be a far more conservative trade than either the Long Call or Debit Straddle, and offer s better on balance Risk/Reward Ratio then either the Long Call or Debit Spread

So the next time you consider a position where a stock or Index you feel will be trading in a technical range. The Condor should be given a strong consideration. Even with its slightly higher transaction costs, it offers a refreshing alternative to the tradition Long Buy and Debit Spread.

Today's Newsletter Notes: Market Wrap by Jonathan Levinson, Options 101 by Steven Gail, and all other plays and content by the Option Investor staff.


Option Investor Inc is neither a registered Investment Advisor nor a Broker/Dealer. Readers are advised that all information is issued solely for informational purposes and is not to be construed as an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy, nor is it to be construed as a recommendation to buy, hold or sell (short or otherwise) any security. All opinions, analyses and information included herein are based on sources believed to be reliable and written in good faith, but no representation or warranty of any kind, expressed or implied, is made including but not limited to any representation or warranty concerning accuracy, completeness, correctness, timeliness or appropriateness. In addition, we do not necessarily update such opinions, analysis or information. Owners, employees and writers may have long or short positions in the securities that are discussed.

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