Equities spent the morning trading an uncertain range in the aftermath of October's option expiration while Wilma made landfall in Florida as a Category 3 hurricane. There were no major earnings surprises, though additional volatility was contributed by the announcement of Ben Bernanke as outgoing Fed Chairman Greenspan's successor.
In the final hour of the morning, President Bush announced that he has chosen Chairman of the administration's Council of Economic Advisers to replace Alan Greenspan as Fed Chairman when he concludes his 18-year term on January 31, 2006. The President's nomination requires ratification by the Senate, and Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, Richard Shelby, R-Ala., was on the tape today, saying that the nominee "is an eminently qualified and superb choice for the nomination of Federal Reserve chairman."
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Bernanke had served as a Fed Governor for three years prior to his appointment to the White House in June. He has been criticized for comments considered bearish to the dollar, and praised for his insistence on greater transparency for the Fed, including the publication of quantitative inflation targets, a measure that Greenspan has opposed.
The announcement resulted in mostly directionless churning within Friday's ranges, with treasuries generally weaker as yields rose, and equities bouncing off their intraday lows to set new highs. Those moves strengthened into their respective closes, with bonds finishing near their lows and equities running to new highs.
It was a lighter volume day than we had on Friday, still strong however, and volume breadth was overwhelmingly in favor of advancing volume- +5.56:1 on the NYSE and +4.29:1 on the Nasdaq.
Daily Dow Chart
A higher high and higher low gave the daily cycle upphase what it needed after stalling on Friday's closing print. The Dow closed 2 points off its 10387 high but failed to exceed last week's high. The downtrend from September has yet to be violated, but another day like today would change that. Confluence resistance is in play to 10410, above which is the 10450 intersection of the declining resistance line off the Sept high and the broken support line off the May lows. 10200-10220 is immediate support below the 10300 fib line.
Daily S&P 500 Chart
The SPX gained 19.79 to close at 1199.38, .01 off the day high. More bullish than the Dow, the SPX took out last week's high. The launch came off a higher low at 1179. Resistance is at 1200-1205, while 1190 is now support, followed by 1180 and 1176. The daily cycle upphase has plenty of room to run, while descending trendline resistance from the September high is at 1218.
Daily Nasdaq Chart
The Nasdaq didn't have as great a day as its peers percentage-wise, but the rise has been stronger since last week and the bounce has already chewed through first confluence resistance at 2100. The Nasdaq added 33.62 to close at 2115.83, closing .02 below the session high. 2120-25 is next resistance, followed by confluence and trendline resistance starting at 2140. 2100 and 2080 are now support- the session low was 2083.
Daily TNX Chart
The Treasury auctioned $36 billion in 13- and 26-week bills today, with indirect bidders (foreign central banks) purchasing $8.3 billion of the total, just below their usual 25% participation. The 13-week bills sold for 3.85% with a yield of 3.942%, 2.11 bids tendered for each accepted. The $16 billion in 26-week bills sold for 4.065% yielding 4.208%, with a 2.15 bid-to-cover ratio.
Treasury bonds had been generally weak this morning, but they got weaker following the announcements of Bernanke's nomination. As noted above, Bernanke has been criticized in the past for making statements considered bearish to the world's reserve currency, most famously in his November 21, 2002 speech titled "Deflation: Making Sure 'It' Doesn't Happen Here" accessible at http://www.federalreserve.gov/boarddocs/speeches/2002/20021121/default.htm. As discussed in the Market Monitor, it's difficult to predict what would be the effect of a "printing press" offensive against deflationary forces, though higher asset prices comes quickly to mind. Would foreigners sell off or at least slow their purchases of US dollar-denominated debt instruments, or would they join the "hot" new printed money chasing asset prices higher (including treasury bonds)? The market responded with higher equity prices and lower bond prices, arguably an inflation trade, but crude oil, gold and the CRB all finished in the red. The story will obviously be more complicated than that, and in the absence of a clear intermarket relationship, it's far safer to follow the individual charts.
On the daily chart of the ten year note yield, we see that the TNX reversed its Friday losses and rose to test the broken daily cycle proxy trendline from below. A daily cycle downphase is in progress from the recent 4.5%+ high, but so far 4.4% continues to act as strong support. Ten year note yields finished +5.6 bps at 4.446%, a +1.28% change for the day.
Daily Chart of Crude oil
Hurricane Wilma, one of the strongest hurricanes ever recorded in the Atlantic, wrought destruction on the Yucatan Peninsula during the weekend, and continued on to Florida Sunday night, making landfall this morning as a Category 3 hurricane around Cape Romano, near Naples. Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach received the strongest winds, sustained at speeds as high as 125 mph, while gusts exceeding 74 mph struck the Florida Keys. Eqecat estimated that Wilma would cost insurers between $2 billion and $6 billion, while AIR worldwide put the range at $6 billion to $9 billion and Risk Management Services at $6 billion to $10 billion. Reuters reported that this hurricane season has now exceeded the records set in the early 1930s, and has become the busiest since records began 150 years ago, as tropical storm Alpha was named on Saturday. Alpha has reached the Dominican Republic and Haiti, but is expected to weaken as it leaves those countries.
Crude oil finished lower by 40 cents at 60.225, off an end-of-session high of 60.50 and an earlier low of 59.35, while natural gas gained .06 to close at 13.225, 5.5 cents off the high. The latest figures from the Minerals Management Service has nearly 68% of daily Gulf of Mexico oil production shut in, and 55% of natural gas output- a minimal increase from Friday's pre-Wilma figures.
On the daily chart of crude oil, we see a broad descending channel to coincide with the current daily cycle downphase, and a so-far tractionless bounce off the 59+ low. If the bears can take out 61, a possible bull wedge break would target the 67-68 area, while a whipsaw down here would target the 58.50 confluence and channel support area.
European Russia was the latest country to report a confirmed outbreak of bird flu, 250 miles southeast of Moscow in Tambov. The bird flu has now been reported in 4 Asian countries as well as Britain, Russia, Turkey and Romania. Britain discovered the virus in a dead parrot on Friday. The bird had been in quarantine, and therefore did not jeopardize Britain's disease-free status.
There were no economic data released today, but earnings were fast and furious. Merck (MRK) reported Q3 profits which rose from last year's Q3 $1.33 billion or 60 cents on sales of $5.54 billion to $1.42 billion or 65 cents per share on sales of $5.42 billion. The company attributed the decline in sales revenue to its withdrawal of Vioxx. Estimates were EPS of 62 cents on $5.45 billion revenue. MRK expects to earn $2.477-$2.51 per share for the full year net of a one-time tax-related charge, and disclosed that it has no reserves for a negative outcome in the Vioxx litigation, and that such could have a material adverse impact on the company. MRK gained 3.13% to close at 27.
Kimberly-Clark (KMB) reported Q3 net imcome which fell from $441.3 million or 89 cents on sales of $3.78 billion to $325.3 million or 68 cents per share on sales of $4 billion. Net of charges, the company earned 95 cents, meeting estimates, while beating on the sales figure by $1 million. The company expects EPS of 94-96 cents for Q4, with analysts expecting 97 cents. KMB closed +2.15% at 58.04.
Johnson Control (JCI) announced Q4 earnings which rose 4% to $283.8 million or $1.45 per share on revenue which rose 7.2% to $6.9 billion, below expectations of $7.07 billion. The company earned $1.5 per share net of one-time tax-related charges, beating expectations by 1 cent. The company cited a 37% increase in sales of power solutions and expects sales to rise another 15% in 2006. JCI closed +3.92% at 68.45.
In other news, Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) has announced that its Personal Products Co. has agreed to purchase Gillette's Rembrandt oral care brand of products, which is owned by PG. No terms have been announced for the transaction, which is expected to close in Q4. Rembrandt includes mouth rinses and teeth whitening products. JNJ lost .11% to close at 64, while PG rose .53% to close at 55.10.
American Express (AXP) reported a Q3 profit that rose from $879 million or 69 cents per share on revenue of $5.48 billion to $1.03 billion or 82 cents on revenue of $6.07 billion. Earnings from continuing operations were 69 cents per share, beating expectations by a penny Revenue came in light, however, with analysts looking for $7.46 billion. Amex credit card spending increased by 18%, with 5.7 new cards issued in the past year and double-digit spending increases by cardholders. AXP gained 5.07% to close at 49.54.
After the close, Pitney Bowes (PBI) reported a profit of $144.3 million or 62 cents per share, or 66 cents net of restructuring charges compared with 63 cents in the year ago quarter. These results met expectations. PBI closed lower by .15 at 41.54. Aflac (AFL) reported net income up from 57 cents or $293 million to 90 cents or $455 million in the current quarter, a 55% gain. Operating earnings beat expectations by 2 cents, coming in at 66 cents on revenue that rpse 11% to $3.7 billion.
TXN reported record revenue that rose 10% from the year-ago quarter, with record gross and operating margins. Orders rose 24% from the year-ago quarter, revenue coming in at $3.59 billion, beating First Call estimates for $3.55 billion. EPS was 38 cents, including a 3 cent expense for stock-based compensation and 1 cent charge for higher than expected taxes. The EPS number missed First Call estimates by 2 pennies while beating the year-ago quarter's 32 cent result. TXN closed +.40 or 1.31% at 30.92, and traded -3.74% at 29.38 as of this writing.
Tomorrow kicks off the week's economic data with Existing Home Sales and Consumer Confidence, followed by the weekly EIA petroleum report on Wednesday, Durable Orders, Initial Claims, the Help Wanted Index and New Home Sales on Thursday, followed by the Q3 GDP, Michigan Sentiment and the monthly Employment Report on Friday. The key question is whether today's gains were news/noise-related, or whether they're sustainable. While I have my doubts about a continued equity rally alongside a rally in yields, such would certainly not be without precedent, and I'm taking my own advice against overthinking these intermarket relationships. The daily cycle has room to run higher, and while the weekly cycles suggest that the year highs will not be tested, there's no need to guess that far ahead. The first step for bulls is to break the downtrend from September's high. How equities perform at those levels will give us our first clue as to what the remainder of the year holds. So far, it's a bounce within a downtrend.
SurModics - SRDX - close: 43.37 chg: +1.14 stop: 39.99
Another day, another gain for SRDX. The stock just marked its fifth straight gain in a row. The stock is looking overbought here and we're planning to exit on Tuesday afternoon at the close to avoid holding over the Wednesday afternoon earnings report. More conservative traders may want to tighten their stops to breakeven. Our target for SRDX is the $44.50-45.00 range.
Picked on October 18 at $ 40.95
Target Corp - TGT - close: 55.22 change: +0.58 stop: 52.49
Retail stocks enjoyed the markets widespread rally on Monday but TGT's participation seemed half-hearted. Shares of TGT spent most of the day churning sideways. Tomorrow might be different. After the bell tonight the company announced that its October same-store sales would probably fall in the upper half of its 3%-5% projections. Today's bounce might be a new entry point but we would not be surprised to see shares retest the $54.00 level and its 50-dma as support again.
Picked on October 19 at $ 54.01
Broadcom - BRCM - close: 43.25 chg: +0.80 stop: 45.01
Traders need to stay nimble here. Our use of a trigger may have backfired. We did not want to suggest shorts after Friday's big day because normally a bearish engulfing candlestick pattern needs to produce some confirmation. We suggested a trigger at $41.95 as a way to try and catch any bearish follow through to Friday's sell signal. Unfortunately, the market's rally today has put us on the defensive. Shares of BRCM dipped to last Wednesday's low this morning before bouncing and the stock bounced pretty strongly. We would not suggest new plays at this time and if the SOX semiconductor index trades over the 450 level we'd probably suggest exiting BRCM early to avoid further losses.
Picked on October 24 at $ 41.95
(What is a strangle? It's when a trader buys an out-of-the-money (OTM) call and an OTM put on the same stock. The strategy is neutral. You do not care what direction the stock moves as long as the move is big enough to make your investment profitable.)
AmerisourceBergen - ABC - cls: 75.80 chg: +0.74 stop: n/a
ABC continues to trade near the pivotal $75.00 level but we would not suggest new strangle positions at this time, unless shares pull back again closer to the $75 mark (within 25 cents). Investors looking to initiate strangle positions will want to do so before the company's earnings report in early November. The options involved in our previously suggested strangle is the November $80 call and the November $70 put.
Picked on October 16 at $ 74.81
Administaff - ASF - close: 40.34 change: +0.94 stop: n/a
The market rally on Monday is lending more strength to ASF's bullish trend. The stock broke out above the $40.00 level with a strong 2.3% gain. ASF remains near the $40.00 level and we would still consider launching new strangle positions with the stock within the $41-39 range (although we'd prefer the 40.50-39.50 range). The options we are suggesting for the strangle are the November $45 call and the November $35 put. Try and keep your investment under $1.80. Our plan is to exit if either option hits $2.75 or more.
Picked on October 23 at $ 39.40
Genentech - DNA - close: 86.95 chg: +1.91 stop: n/a
Biotech stocks rallied very strongly today and DNA joined them with a 2.2% gain. Today's move has pushed the stock above its simple 100-dma and more importantly outside our entry window to initiate new strangle positions. We are no longer suggesting new plays and have moved into a wait-and-see mode. If DNA does move back toward the $85 mark before its earnings report traders can try and open new positions. The options in our suggested strangle are the December $95 call and the December $75 put. We plan to exit if either options rises to $4.50-5.00 or more.
Picked on October 20 at $ 84.83
eBay Inc. - EBAY - close: 39.42 chg: +0.13 stop: n/a
EBAY slipped lower this morning but managed a bounce near its 100-dma and 200-dma near $38.25. The market's strength helped push EBAY back over the $39.00 level late in the day. We are not suggesting new strangle positions but if EBAY traders much nearer to the $40.00 mark readers might want to consider it. The options in our suggested strangle are the November $45 call and the November $35 put. If either option rises to $2.00 or more we'll exit.
Picked on October 18 at $ 40.42
General Dynamics - GD - cls: 118.58 chg: +2.04 stop: n/a
GD turned in a pretty nice bounce today pushing the stock back into its previous trading range. We are not suggesting new plays at this time. Our strangle involves the November $125 call and the November $115 put. We plan to sell if either option rises to $4.00 or more.
Picked on October 09 at $119.59
Harman Intl - HAR - cls: 104.95 chg: +2.91 stop: n/a
Shares of HAR are bouncing again and look poised to re-challenge resistance near $110.00. We are not suggesting new strangle positions. Our strangle involves the November $110 call and the November $90 put. We plan to exit if either option rises to $6.00 or more.
Picked on October 18 at $100.80
ITT Industries - ITT - close: 112.85 chg: +2.35 stop: n/a
Monday's market rally helped push ITT to a new relative high from its recent consolidation around the $110 level. We are no longer suggesting new strangle positions for this play. Our current strategy involves the November $115 call and the November $105 put. We'll plan to exit if either option rises to into the $4.50-5.00 range.
Picked on October 20 at $109.96
Kos Pharma - KOSP - close: 60.31 chg: +1.28 stop: n/a
KOSP rebounded back above the $60.00 mark and spent the second half of the day churning sideways in a narrow range between 60.10 and 60.43. This consolidation offered readers another entry point to launch new strangle positions. Once KOSP trades outside the $60.50-59.50 range we would not suggest new positions. The options we like for a strangle are the November $65 call and the November $55 put. We'll plan to exit if either option rises to $5.00 or more.
Picked on October 20 at $ 59.80
Legg Mason - LM - cls: 109.70 chg: +4.10 stop: n/a
LM produced a big move higher today. The stock surged 3.88% to out perform its peers in the broker-dealer sector. The stock's big move almost pushed the November $110 call side of our strangle to our target of $5.00. Currently the November $110 call is trading at $4.60bid/$4.70ask. Of course that could easily change tomorrow. LM is due to report earnings before the opening bell. Wall Street is looking for profits of $0.97 a share. If LM fails to deliver the stock could plummet. If LM does deliver there could be a morning spike higher, which could be our opportunity to exit on the call side. Be ready!
Picked on October 12 at $102.59
Loews - LTR - close: 91.93 change: +1.99 close: n/a
Wow! Shares of LTR almost gapped outside our suggested entry window to launch a strangle position. Shares opened at $90.50 and later traded back down to $90.45 before pushing higher into the afternoon. We would not suggest new plays at this time although readers can keep an eye on the stock for a pull back entry point close to $90.00 before the company's earnings report due out this Thursday. The options in our strategy are the December $95 calls and the December $85 puts. We'll plan to exit if either option rises to $5.00 or more.
Picked on October 23 at $ 89.94
O'Reilly Auto. - ORLY - close: 26.91 chg: +0.11 stop: n/a
Tomorrow is the big day. ORLY is expected to report earnings after the closing bell tomorrow. Wall Street estimates are at 37 cents a share. We're not suggesting new strangle positions but the sideways action does make for a tempting entry point. Traders can still try and launch a strangle before the close tomorrow but we'd only consider it if shares traded closer to $27.50 (within 20 cents). The options in our strangle are the November $30 calls and the November $25 puts although now December strikes are available and traders might want to think about playing Decembers instead. We'll plan to sell if either option rises to $1.75 or more.
Picked on October 09 at $ 28.23
Verifone Holdings - PAY - cls: 22.20 chg: +0.99 stop: n/a
PAY is starting to see more momentum. The stock is up five days in a row and today's gain was more than 4.6% on strong volume. The stock is challenging resistance near $22.50. We're not suggesting new strangle plays at this time. The options in our suggested January strangle are the January $17.50 puts and the January $22.50 calls. We plan to sell if either of these hits $4.50 or more. We also suggested an alternative, more aggressive, November strangle with the November $17.50 puts and the November $22.50 calls. We would sell if either of these hits $2.00 or more.
Picked on October 12 at $ 19.98
P.F.Chang's - PFCB - close: 50.93 chg: -0.01 stop: n/a
Wow! PFCB could not breakout over the $52.00 level despite the roaring rally across the rest of the market. Looks like no one is interested in placing any more bets before the company's earnings report on October 26th. We are not suggesting new plays unless PFCB trades back into the 50.40-49.60 range. Our suggested strangle is with the November $45 puts and the November $55 calls. We'll sell if either option rises to $2.50 or more.
Picked on October 20 at $ 49.99
Cardinal Health - CAH - close: 64.97 chg: +0.91 stop: 61.95
The big rally in the markets helped lift CAH to a new one-year high. The stock looks poised to breakout over the $65.00 level and its MACD has produced a new buy signal. Our update on Sunday suggested that we exit on Monday if the stock produces any strength. We're going to follow that suggestion and close the play. More aggressive traders might want to keep the play open for another day and exit on Tuesday afternoon before the close. CAH is due to report earnings on Wednesday morning.
Picked on September 25 at $ 61.95
Teleflex Inc. - TFX - close: 66.45 chg: +0.96 stop: 68.01
The bounce today in shares of TFX had a lot of volume behind it. That's normally not a good sign if you're bearish. We're suggesting that readers exit early. The stock will probably bounce higher if the major indices continue to rally and earnings for TFX are expected on Wednesday.
Picked on October 13 at $ 66.49
E*trade Financial - ET - close: 18.49 chg: +0.61 stop: n/a
Target achieved. The broker-dealers turned in a very big day. The XBD index added just over three percent and shares of ET out performed its peers with a 3.4% rally on strong volume pushing the stock to a new all-time high. The November $17.00 call in our strangle hit our target in the $1.60-2.00 range. The $17 call is currently trading at $1.60bid/$1.70ask. This marks a 60% rise in value from our investment, plus we still have November $15 put that we would let expire since it is virtually worthless (and should ET suddenly crash before it expires we'll cash in on the put too but not likely).
Picked on October 16 at $ 16.28
When you sell covered calls and are either exercised or not, what are your real returns versus your annualized returns.
If we are going to compare, lets compare apples to apples, not apples to oranges.
The Theory Behind the Practice
So you decide you would like to buy stock and sell covered call options against the stock you own. Great idea! But when you calculate your return and tell a friend what that rate of return is, be sure you give him both sides of the equation. For too long covered call writers figure out there rate of return based on the premium they received for that call option and the price they paid for the underlying stock. On the other hand if the stock is exercised or called away at a higher price they calculate the increase in the stock price and the premium they received to calculate their return. That is great; the only problem is they need to look at it not only as their actual return, but what that return would be if it were annualized. Lets take a look at several examples, one with the stock being exercised and the other scenario with the stock not being exercised and its rate of return calculated against the price originally paid for the stock.
FIGURE 1-1: HERE ARE EXAMPLES OF SEVERAL PRICED STOCKS PURCHASED AND SOLD WITH A HYPOTHETICAL OCTOBER EXPIRATION (24 DAYS AWAY). THE EXAMPLES INCLUDE THE STOCK BEING EXERCISED AND AN EXAMPLE WITH THE OPTION EXPIRING WORTHLESS.
If you notice on all the transaction that the rate of return was based on a 24 day cycle. However rates of return are usually related based on an annualized yield. Hence, the returns above need to be converted to annualized returns so that we may compare apples to apples and oranges to oranges. It really isnt fair to say that example one nets a 3.00% return or even when the October 45 call is exercised that the return is only 15.50%. Now lets look at what these returns actually annualize out to being.
The Real World
In the real world there is no way to compare a return like the 24 day options above with another competing vehicle whose rate of return is based on an annualized basis, except to convert the 24 day return to an annualized yield.
Simply take 24 days (the length of these options) and divide that into (365 days) 365 divided by 24. 365/24. That gives you 15.208. Now multiple 15.208 times the 24-day yield and you get the ANNUALIZED RATE OF RETURN. (See FIGURE 2-2 below for a comparison.
FIGURE 2-2: 24-DAY OPTION CYCLE RETURN VERSUS ANNUALIZED RETURN.
What a significant difference in return analysis. Even when we do not get exercised the rate of return annualized is overwhelming.
The Bottom Line
The moral of this story is very simple, if you are going to compare yields of a covered call writing strategy with other investment vehicles that you annualized yields, you need to calculate the numbers using annualized yields so that you can compare APPLES to APPLES and really get an idea of what type of returns you are actually annualizing. This was when you look at your true rate of return in relationship to how long you actually held the investment strategy, you will have a comparative time frame to utilize for the comparison.
Until Next Time
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.
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