Option Investor

Daily Newsletter, Thursday, 08/31/2006

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Table of Contents

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

Market Wrap

Holiday Weekend Starting Early

The total volume today (3.9B) was light and the trading range (DOW swung a total of 45 points) was puny. I'd say traders decided today was a good day to take off and start their weekend early. Also, with tropical storm Ernesto headed for the east coast, and likely to spoil the weather for the weekend, there are probably many who want to start their holiday weekend early before it gets washed out. Whatever the reason today was a very slow and listless day and provided next to nothing to trade. Even day traders had little to scalp. Options traders have only seen time bleed away from their positions. If you're trading credit spreads this is of course good news. If you're trying a directional trade then you're likely disappointed with this market.

The past two weeks has seen a very flat market. The S&P 500 has moved a grand total of 17 points in that time and each day has been full of choppy price moves. It could be consolidating for a big move higher after Labor Day or it could be finishing its choppy move higher through the summer. For a while I was thinking we could see the S&P 500 challenge its May high just below 1327 (closed today just under 1304). That's not far away and entirely possible but I'm beginning to think the rally won't be able to push up quite that high before it rolls back over. A post-Labor Day push higher to try to run the bears out of the park is a possibility but it's starting to look to me like it will be the bulls who will be run out of the fields.

If you look at the summer rally in 2002 you will see a similar pattern--a 3-wave bounce that was followed by a strong sell off in Sept/October to new lows (below July's). The August 2001 rally completed on September 1st which was the Friday before the holiday weekend. This year's pattern is very similar but a little larger time frame (so it's a fractal). This leaves us with a setup that is very similar and the short term charts suggest we could see a high tomorrow that sets up a down September. As I'll show in the charts we have some bearish ascending wedges with negative divergences. While these can always be overcome with new buying pressure after the holiday, the higher-odds play should be to the short side soon.

A trader friend (thanks John) sent this to me: "I read an article the other day by a guy who had done extensive research on the Crash of 87. He was pointing out how the chart pattern on the DOW was almost identical to the chart pattern today. It formed a big W (much like we have since May 10th). Coincidence? Maybe, and maybe not.

I've shown charts in the past that show the close correlation between consumer confidence and the stock market. This of course makes sense (to me) since the buying and selling in the market is driven by human emotion (and not such funnymentals as P/E ratios, interest rates, GDP or other such measures). When people get into a sour or fearful mood, they sell; when they feel good, they buy. And these mood swings run in cycles. Unfortunately for us we have a Fed who keeps chasing this and changing interest rates up and down when in fact all they're doing is chasing the economy up and down while thinking they're controlling things. But I digress. My point is that with consumer sentiment dropping there's a very good chance the stock market will follow.

As most of you know, I've been very bearish the housing market, and stocks, since last summer. I think the move down is only beginning to accelerate. I came across a chart showing the tight correlation between housing and the S&P 500. This chart is from 1996 to the present:

NAHB Housing Market Index and the S&P 500, 1996-2006

This chart is downright scary (for bulls, whereas bears are likely licking their chops at this chart). Since last summer we've seen the housing index crash lower and if that orange line (S&P 500) follows then we're sitting on the edge right here. The stock market is normally about 12 months behind the moves in the housing market (as indicated on the chart--S&P 500 "lagged 12 months") and the housing index peaked last July. I look at this chart and combined with many other signs that I'm seeing in the market right now I'm strongly suggesting that people protect their long positions--get out (flat), buy protection (put options) or get short. I think selling covered calls right now is foolish since the loss on your long positions will far outweigh any puny gains you make on your short call position. Bears on the other hand may want to get out the good china and silverware, fine linens and a good bottle of wine. Steak tartar is about to be served.

Before getting to the charts let's review today's economic reports since it was a fairly busy morning. The unemployment claims continued to stay flat--they fell by 2,000 to 316K but in actuality they were up 3,000 from last week's 313K before that number was revised higher to 318K. The 4-week average of continuing claims rose to its highest level, up 13,500 to 2.48M, since the end of February. The Help-Wanted index continues to inch lower. It dropped to 32 in July vs. 34 in June.
The deterioration in the job environment is felt by many to be good for the Fed since they'll feel less inclined to increase rates (I'm not so sure about that).

Personal income and spending numbers were released and showed income was up +0.5% which was expected and is a drop of 0.1% from June. Spending was up +0.8% which also was expected and was double June's 0.4%. It was the highest level since January. The higher spending vs. income led yet again to a negative savings rate which has been negative for 16 consecutive months. As Sherry Cooper, chief economist for BMO Nesbitt Burns said, the increase in spending "should prove to be short-lived, as the recent rapid deterioration in consumer confidence, sluggish job growth and the steadily weakening housing sector crimp spending going forward." A slowing in consumer spending would obviously have a negative impact on our economy which is so dependent on consumer spending.


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Consumer prices increased at a slower rate. The combination of the increase in consumer spending and the core inflation rate rising only +0.1% in July (smallest gain since December) sparked more discussion about a Fed on hold with interest rates (and sparked a rally in bonds, drop in yields). But core prices are up +2.4% for the past year which is the largest gain in 11 years. It's also higher than what the Fed wants to see (1-2%). So the moderating inflation data got people thinking the Fed could be done raising rates. The report "will convince some that core inflation is coming under control," said Stephen Stanley, chief economist for RBS Greenwich Capital. "Don't count on it." Stanley also mentioned that Dallas Fed President Jeffrey Lacker
had mentioned "until core prices are consistently rising 0.1% or less each month, the Fed is, not out of the woods yet."

The Chicago purchasing managers' index (PMI) stayed relatively flat at 57.1 vs. July's 57.9. The measure of production was 61.7% which was a slight drop from July's 64.1%. New orders were down to 59.6% from July's 60%. Prices paid also pulled back while inventories increased.

Factory orders declined -0.6% which is a drop from +1.5% in June. The drop was attributed to a 10.1% decline in transportation orders (orders for civilian aircraft dropped 10.6% and orders for ships and boats dropped 57%). Excluding those transportation orders, factory orders rose 1.1%. Shipments of factory goods were unchanged in July while inventories rose, the 9th increase in the past 10 months and is not what producers want to see. For the latest example of this, see the housing market.

None of these reports was market moving, except for brief buying or selling spurts. As mentioned at the beginning of this report the market was pretty much on hold today. Let's see how it fits in the larger picture.

DOW chart, Daily

The new highs over the past month are weaker in breadth and volume and it's not what the bulls want to see here. This lack of strength at new highs is creating an ascending wedge and these patterns are typically bearish. We've seen countless times in the past where price came roaring out of these to the upside but those times tended to be consolidations after a strong rally. In this case we have a bounce that appears more as a correction to the May-June decline than a consolidation of any rally. An ascending wedge in the larger pattern is more bearish than bullish here. If the bounce is a correction of the May-June decline then the 78.6% retracement should be the limit for the bounce. That's at 11462 and would be a slight over-throw above the top of the wedge. I'm not sure it will make it up to that level but I'd look it over carefully for a short play setup.

SPX chart, Daily

The SPX is also near to completion of an ascending wedge and the top of it is near the downtrend line from March 2000 (remember way back then?) through this past May's high at about 1314. The internal wave count inside the wedge is about complete and just a small move higher should complete it. The fact that it's so close to this downtrend line while completing the wave pattern is a strong indication to me that it's about done rallying. There are not many times when I'll pound the table for a play but this is one of them. It doesn't mean I'm right but I really like this setup for a long term short play. Back up that truck and get shorty for what I think will be a good ride on the southbound train. Just be smart and use good money management and risk management. The usual warnings go here, you know, such as don't play in traffic, don't eat yellow snow, use appropriate stop losses and position sizes, etc.

Nasdaq chart, Daily

The COMP is also nearing a wall of resistance. It could be the wall of worry for the bulls to climb but that's not how I'd bet it here. Fib and trend line resistance between 2194 and 2237 (QQQQ 39-40) is an area I'd watch carefully for short plays.

SMH index, Daily chart

The semis have been rallying strongly and this index is the one holding me back from going crazy on short plays. While this looks very close to finishing the rally up from the July low, its rally looks impulsive (5-wave rally). That would mean it's only due a pullback to correct that rally which would then be followed by another strong rally. I'll have to see what kind of decline we get and then assess whether or not it's corrective (in which case expect another rally leg) or impulsive (in which case expect lower). For now SMH has stiff resistance from here (34) up to 36. Between the 50% and 62% retracements, the 200-dma and the downtrend line from January, that's quite a wall for the bulls to overcome and it's highly unlikely this rally leg has much more life left in it.

BIX banking index, Daily chart

The banks look like they're about to roll over. But the bears have strong support they'll have to break--the 50-dma, uptrend line from last October and then the 200-dma in the 373-378 area will be difficult to break through. Needless to say, if price breaks below 373 then the bears will rule. But until then we'll have to see who the stronger side is.

Securities broker index, Daily chart

The brokers have been leaving lots of negative divergences after failing retests of the uptrend line. It's now fighting to hold onto the 50 and 200-dma's. A break down through this support zone would obviously be bearish and is what I think will happen.

Most of us are now seeing lots of reports on the housing market. As sellers wake up to the fact that their house is not selling for 20% more than last year's price they're lowering their prices. Now many are beginning to recognize that the values are actually starting to drop. We're seeing some very creative sales efforts. The new home market is cratering. Toll Brothers, the builders of McMansions, stated that they're experiencing "the biggest slump in US housing in the last 40 years." Mr. Toll says he has never seen a slump unfold like the current one. I've been saying for well over a year that it will be different this time. The fact that we've had such a huge run-up in prices on a national level (actually global) we would see a massive correction the likes that no one alive today has ever seen. It's happened before but not since the 1800's. The loss of wealth due to the dot.com bust will be a mere blip compared to what will be felt from the loss of wealth due to a housing market crash (yes, I said crash).

The lack of home appreciation, rising interest rates on adjustable rate mortgages and home equity loans and rising energy prices will all have a negative impact on consumer psyche and cause many to close their wallets. Savings rates might actually turn positive again. The lack of home sales will ripple through our economy that is only now beginning to register. The home industry has been responsible for some 30% of new jobs created. The lack of sales in consumer durables (appliances, furniture, etc.) will only add to the woes felt by those who are tied to a growing housing market. We're first seeing the speculators leaving the market and their panic will lead to further depression of prices. Foreclosures are on the rise; more houses on the market. I could go on but you get the point. A real estate correction on a national (global) scale will be very negative for our economy. Those who have been saying we'll have a soft landing have not reviewed history.

U.S. Home Construction Index chart, DJUSHB, Daily

While the housing index could bounce a little higher it's also equally likely that the sideways consolidation has completed with this week's little rally. This should continue to stair-step lower.

Oil chart, September contract, Daily

Oil has hit a level (near $69) that should provide some support. I'm not sure we'll see a strong bounce or something that goes more sideways. I'm expecting more of a sideways consolidation if we've seen a major high for oil. That sideways move followed by another push lower would give us an impulsive 5-wave move down and would be a strong signal that we've seen the high in oil for a very long time. A slowing economy supports this interpretation.

Oil Index chart, Daily

With the drop in oil it's now looking like the stocks are following. As expected the 50-dma did not offer support. This index should drop relatively quickly to the 600 area before finding support. That, and the 200-dma just below it, should eventually break but they will certainly provide at least some temporary support.

Transportation Index chart, TRAN, Daily

If the transports can get another leg up in its bounce then it should be able to test its 50 and 200-dma's. That would be tough resistance especially since the 50 will soon be crossing the 200 if price stays down. It's equally possible that we'll see a sideways consolidation rather than a higher bounce.

U.S. Dollar chart, Daily

The current consolidation in the US dollar should lead to another leg down. I expect the 50-dma to continue to hold it down. Still looking for the $83 level to get tested.

Gold chart, October contract, Daily

Gold remains trapped in its sideways triangle and a break of either side should be the direction that you'll want to play it for the next several months. I show a depiction for a downside resolution since that's the way I'm leaning here. But until we get the break it's best to watch and wait.

Results of today's economic reports and tomorrow's reports include the following:

Tomorrow is a busy day for economic reports, several of which could be market moving. I'm looking for an upside resolution to the sideways consolidation that the market has been in so watch for that possibility tomorrow once these reports are out of the way. Bad news will be good news and good news will be good news. The pundits will spin their reports to make it look like they know what they're talking about.

SPX chart, Weekly

With a daily chart that looks near complete for the rally leg up from July, and completing a 3-wave corrective bounce from the June low, this weekly chart also supports the view that we should be getting ready for another leg down. A drop to the October 2005 lows (DOW 10200 and SPX 1170) should be the next move and it should happen relatively quickly. If you find that hard to believe go back and look at that chart I showed in the beginning of this report that compare the SPX to the housing index. The decline is coming.

For tomorrow, other than a very quiet summer Friday, a day before a long weekend, I'm looking for a bullish day. Depending on how high it gets I'll be looking for a high to be put in place tomorrow or early next week. DOW 11455 and SPX 1314 are two numbers to keep an eye on. The techs might be a little stronger relatively speaking. If we do get the rally you might want to think about selling some credit spreads and let the long weekend work its magic on those.

This market has been cruel to day traders and that may not change tomorrow. Wait for the rest of the traders to return next week and hopefully you'll get some good bearish plays in. In the meantime continue to keep your powder dry and wait for better evidence that we've made some kind of high. I'm hoping by this time next week that we might have some early signals in that respect. If I'm right about the next decline you'll have plenty of time to grab a short play off the first big bounce. We don't need to be heroes and catch the tippy top. It's fun when you do but usually costly trying to find it. Let the market pull back then bounce and then we'll identify some good short entries that should be good for a multi-week short play. Good luck in the next week and I'll see you back here next Thursday, or on the Market Monitor tomorrow.

New Plays

New Option Plays

Call Options Plays
Put Options Plays
Strangle Options Plays

New Calls

Southern Peru Copper - PCU - close: 92.32 chg: +2.50 stop: 88.99

Company Description:
Our mining operations are located in Peru and Mexico. We own and operate four open pit mines and three metallurgical complexes that make SCC a fully integrated copper producer with significant byproducts of molybdenum, zinc and precious metals. (source: company press release or website)

Why We Like It:
Copper miners are on the move today. The price of copper itself was moving higher on news that a labor strike in Chile might be ending soon. Meanwhile news of a merger between gold miners GG and GLG also contributed to strength in the mining sector. Shares of PCU are in the process of breaking out from a three-week sideways consolidation pattern. The new relative high today actually produced a new triple-top ascending buy signal on the P&F chart. We are suggesting new call positions in PCU with the stock above $91.00 although more conservative traders may want to wait for a new move over $93.10 (Thursday's high). Our target is the $98.00-100.00 range. Please note that we're also adding PD, another copper mining stock, to the play list. We would suggest you choose to play just one not both stocks in the same sector.

Suggested Options:
We are suggesting the October calls.

BUY CALL OCT 90.00 PCU-JR open interest=355 current ask $6.90
BUY CALL OCT 95.00 PCU-JS open interest=319 current ask $4.50

Picked on August 31 at $ 92.32
Change since picked: + 0.00
Earnings Date 07/26/06 (confirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 1.5 million


Phelps Dodge - PD - close: 89.50 change: +2.03 stop: 86.75

Company Description:
Phelps Dodge is one of the world's leading producers of copper and molybdenum and is the largest producer of molybdenum-based chemicals and continuous-cast copper rod. The company employs 14,500 people worldwide. (source: company press release or website)

Why We Like It:
We are adding PD for the same reasons we're adding PCU (see play above). The stock is moving higher on a rise in the commodity, which is rallying on news that a labor strike in Chile may be ending soon. The M&A activity between two gold miners today also contributed to bullish sentiment. Technicals are improving with the bounce this past week but we want to see a breakout over $90.00 first before we open plays. We're suggesting that traders use a trigger to buy calls at $90.55. If triggered our target is the $97.50-100.00 range. Please note that we're also adding PCU, another copper mining stock, to the play list. We would suggest you choose to play just one not both stocks in the same sector.

Suggested Options:
We are suggesting the October calls. Just a reminder - you, the individual trader, should decide which month and strike price best suits your trading style and risk.

BUY CALL OCT 85.00 DPB-JQ open interest=17872 current ask $8.40
BUY CALL OCT 87.50 DBP-JY open interest= 6936 current ask $6.90
BUY CALL OCT 90.00 DBP-JR open interest=13909 current ask $5.60
BUY CALL OCT 95.00 DBP-JS open interest=12326 current ask $3.30

Picked on August xx at $ xx.xx <-- see TRIGGER
Change since picked: + 0.00
Earnings Date 10/25/06 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 6.7 million

New Puts

EOG Resources - EOG - close: 64.82 chg: -0.37 stop: 66.55

Company Description:
EOG Resources, Inc. is one of the largest independent (non-integrated) oil and natural gas companies in the United States with proved reserves in the United States, Canada, offshore Trinidad and the United Kingdom North Sea. (source: company press release or website)

Why We Like It:
EOG is testing significant support. The end of the summer driving season, the technical breakdown in crude oil, is weighing on the oil sector. The recent weakness has pulled EOG down to a pivotal level. EOG has found support near $64.00 over the last two months, which coincidentally is now bolstered by a rising trendline of support on the stock's Point & Figure chart. Trading over the last several weeks has also produced a bearish head-and-shoulders pattern with the neckline at the $64.00 level. If EOG breaks under $64.00 it would also produce a triple-bottom breakdown sell signal on the P&F chart. We want to catch the breakdown so we're suggesting a trigger to buy puts at $63.85. Our target is the $57.50-55.00 range. The biggest risk we see with this play is the situation with Iran. The country has defied the U.N.'s demand to stop enriching uranium. The next move by the U.N. is supposed to be sanctions. We do not know how the world, the markets, Iran and more importantly crude oil prices will react to sanctions actually being applied. The rhetoric that is sure to come from Iran if sanctions are used could push oil higher, which would be risky for a put play on any oil stock. Furthermore, if there is any military action against Iran (and probably coming out of Iran) then oil should significantly spike higher, which again would put this play in danger!

Suggested Options:
We are suggesting the October puts.

BUY PUT OCT 65.00 EOG-VM open interest=4595 current ask $3.70
BUY PUT OCT 60.00 EOG-VL open interest=6433 current ask $1.80

Picked on August xx at $ xx.xx <-- see TRIGGER
Change since picked: + 0.00
Earnings Date 10/31/06 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 3.4 million

New Strangles

None today.

Play Updates

In Play Updates and Reviews

Call Updates

The Andersons - ANDE - close: 41.01 chg: +1.25 stop: 37.49

ANDE is finally showing some strength. After a week of flirting with a breakout over resistance at $40.00 the stock finally produced some real gains with a 3.1% rally and a new six-week closing high. The move over $40.25 was a new entry point to go long/buy calls. Our target is the $44.50-45.00 range.

Picked on August 28 at $ 40.26
Change since picked: + 0.75
Earnings Date 10/27/06 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 900 thousand


AstraZeneca - AZN - close: 65.14 change: +0.33 stop: 59.95

AZN also continued to trek higher. We were a little concerned that the $65.00 level might offer round-number resistance but shares managed to post another 0.5% gain and close above the $65 mark. We remain somewhat cautious since AZN looks short-term overbought so we're not suggesting new plays at this time. Everything else looks pretty bullish and the up tick in volume over the last three days is a positive sign. More conservative traders might want to take some profits as AZN nears $65. Our target is the $68.00-69.00 range.

Picked on August 20 at $ 62.99
Change since picked: + 2.15
Earnings Date 10/26/06 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 1.1 million


Cameco - CCJ - close: 40.95 change: +1.32 stop: 37.95

Shares of CCJ produced a bullish breakout over round-number resistance at the $40.00 level on Thursday. We see the move over $40.00 (and 40.50) as a new entry point to buy calls. Some merger and acquisition news in the metals and mining sector may have helped fuel the rally in CCJ. The companies making headlines were GG and GLG. Goldcorp (GG) offered $8.6 billion in stock to buy rival Glamis Gold (GLG). Our target for CCJ is the $44.50-45.00 range.

Picked on August 22 at $ 40.33
Change since picked: + 0.62
Earnings Date 07/28/06 (confirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 1.9 million


Cognizant Tech. - CTSH - close: 69.91 chg: -0.69 stop: 68.45

We continue to urge caution on CTSH. On Tuesday the stock produced an intraday spike higher and hit our trigger to open the play but shares reversed on us. The move looked like a failed rally/bull trap. Today's failed rally near $71.26 and its slip back under the $70.00 level is bad news. The technical indicators are starting to roll over into bearish signals, especially the MACD on the daily chart. We seriously considered closing the play right here. However, there is still a chance that CTSH will bounce from its six-week trendline of support near $69.00. More conservative traders may want to tighten their stops. We would wait for a move over $71.50 before considering new call positions. Our target is the $76.50-77.50 range.

Picked on August 29 at $ 71.55
Change since picked: - 1.64
Earnings Date 11/01/06 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 1.4 million


Cymer Inc. - CYMI - close: 41.15 chg: -0.29 stop: 39.95

The SOX semiconductor index felt some profit taking today after a three-day winning streak. Shares of CYMI followed with a pull back of its own following a failed rally near $42.00 and its exponential 200-dma. We are still on the sidelines. Our trigger to buy calls is at $42.55. If triggered our target is the $47.00-48.00 range.

Picked on August xx at $ xx.xx <-- see TRIGGER
Change since picked: + 0.00
Earnings Date 10/24/06 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 1.0 million


Freeport McMoran - FCX - close: 58.21 chg: +1.13 stop: 53.95

FCX displayed some relative strength on Thursday with a 1.97% gain. News that Goldcorp (GG) was buying Glamis Gold (GLG) for $8.6 billion helped fuel a rally in the gold miners. Today's rise in FCX is a technical breakout over the top of its recent trading range and resistance at $58.00, which can be used as a new entry point to buy calls. Our target is the $62.50-63.00 range. Traders should also note that we do expect some short-term resistance near $60.00 and a retest of the 100-dma, once broken as resistance, should act as support.

Picked on August 23 at $ 57.51
Change since picked: + 0.70
Earnings Date 10/17/06 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 5.1 million


MicroStrategy - MSTR - close: 91.20 chg: -0.61 stop: 88.99*new*

We are still seeing a lot of mixed signals with MSTR. The stock's six-week trend is up and shares have broken out from its three-month bearish channel a couple of weeks ago. Yet MSTR is struggling to build on the technical breakout and momentum indicators are growing weaker. The MACD on the daily chart is nearing a new sell signal. We suggest that traders be careful here. We're not suggesting new positions with MSTR under its 200-dma (currently 92.28) or its 100-dma (currently 93.20). We will try and reduce our risk by adjusting the stop loss to $88.99. Short-term we're expecting a dip back toward $90.00. Currently our target is the $98.75-99.00 range.

Picked on August 16 at $ 92.05
Change since picked: - 0.85
Earnings Date 10/27/06 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 431 thousand


Piper Jaffray - PJC - close: 58.58 change: +1.06 stop: 53.99*new*

PJC continues to rally following the bullish breakout yesterday. We remain bullish but we're not suggesting new positions at this time. The next level of overhead resistance appears to be the 100-dma near round-number resistance at $60.00. Our target is the $59.90-60.00 range. We're going to raise our stop loss to $53.99.

Picked on August 20 at $ 55.70
Change since picked: + 2.88
Earnings Date 10/18/06 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 300 thousand


FreightCar Amer. - RAIL - cls: 58.20 chg: +0.82 stop: 54.95

Entry point alert! The Dow Jones transportation index is still consolidating sideways but the railroad index managed a bit of an oversold bounce today. Strength in the railroads probably helped shares of RAIL to add 1.4% and breakout over technical resistance at its 100-dma and 200-dma. We see the move as a new entry point to buy calls. More conservative traders may want to wait for a move over $60.00 before initiating plays. Our target is the $64.50-65.00 range.

Picked on August 20 at $ 59.13
Change since picked: - 0.93
Earnings Date 10/26/06 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 475 thousand


Ryland Group - RYL - close: 42.67 change: +0.36 stop: 39.95

We do not see any changes from our previous updates on RYL. Shares continue to consolidate sideways and we're waiting for a bullish breakout above resistance at the $45.00 level. Currently our trigger to buy calls is at $45.15. If triggered then our target is the $49.90-50.00 range.

Picked on August xx at $ xx.xx <-- see TRIGGER
Change since picked: + 0.00
Earnings Date 10/18/06 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 1.7 million


United Ind. - UIC - close: 53.87 change: +0.07 stop: 49.45

Hmm... the rally in shares of UIC might be running out of breath. The stock is up significantly from its August lows and nearing resistance at the $55.00 level. The next move might just be a dip back toward the 10-dma (currently near 51.75). If you're looking for a new entry point wait and watch for a pull back. The $50.00 level, bolstered by the simple 200-dma, should also offer support. We have two targets on UIC. Consider selling half or more of your position at our first target in the $54.75-55.00 range. Our secondary target is the $57.50 level. The P&F chart points to a $64 target.

Picked on August 27 at $ 51.77
Change since picked: + 2.10
Earnings Date 08/01/06 (confirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 198 thousand


VF Corp. - VFC - close: 69.89 change: +0.30 stop: 68.45

We are a little bit surprised by VFC's performance on Thursday. As of Wednesday's close the stock look poised to move lower. Fortunately, there was no follow through on what looked like a bearish reversal. That doesn't mean we're not out of the woods yet. We suspect that the relatively good same-store sales numbers that came out today may have propped up shares of VFC. Aggressive traders might want to adjust their stop wider so the stop is under the 50-dma. We are not suggesting new plays at this time and would wait for a move past $70.35 before considering new positions.

Picked on August 30 at $ 70.25
Change since picked: - 0.36
Earnings Date 10/18/06 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 567 thousand

Put Updates

Boeing - BA - close: 74.90 change: -0.12 stop: 78.05

There was some excitement today about which companies might win the lucrative deals to build NASA's next manned space exploration vehicles. Yet even with all the headlines shares of BA are still under performing the market. The stock produced a failed rally pattern under its simple 10-dma. This looks like a new entry point to buy puts although if you're entering plays here you may want to use a tighter stop loss. We continue to target the $70.50-70.00 range.

Picked on August 10 at $ 75.75
Change since picked: - 0.85
Earnings Date 10/25/06 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 4.2 million


Chipotle Mex Grill - CMG - close: 49.34 chg: -0.92 stop: 52.55

CMG displayed relative weakness on Thursday with a 1.8% decline. The move follows yesterday's failed rally and the move under $50 could be used as a new entry point to buy puts. More conservative traders may want to still wait for a drop under $49 before opening new plays. We are targeting a decline into the $45.50-45.00 range.

Picked on August 09 at $ 50.28
Change since picked: - 0.94
Earnings Date 10/30/06 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 414 thousand


Intuitive Surgical - ISRG - cls: 94.40 chg: +1.99 stop: 96.05*new*

It might be time to start thinking about an early exit in ISRG. The stock's rally today was just a little too optimistic for us even though ISRG failed to breakout over the $95.00 level. More conservative traders may want to exit early right now to prevent or limit losses. We're going to tighten our stop loss to $96.05 and considering ISRG's normal volatility we could be stopped out pretty easily. We're not suggesting new positions at this time.

Picked on August 10 at $ 94.90
Change since picked: - 0.50
Earnings Date 10/25/06 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 1.1 million


Johnson Controls - JCI - close: 71.93 chg: +1.63 stop: 75.51

Uh-oh! Bears and put holders might be in trouble here. The overall pattern in JCI remains bearish but the stock has been holding above support at the $70.00 level. What concerns us today is Thursday's bullish engulfing candlestick pattern (bullish reversal). Volume came in a little bit higher than what JCI has seen lately and the short-term technical indicators, all near oversold levels, are hinting at a move higher. We're going to keep the play open but readers need to know that JCI could easily rally back toward the $75.00 level, which we anticipate will be new resistance. If you don't want to endure that kind of volatility then consider an early exit, especially if JCI trades over $72.00 or $72.50 tomorrow. Our target is the $68.50-67.50 range. The P&F chart, with its triple-bottom breakdown sell signal, points to a $61 target.

Picked on August 22 at $ 72.96
Change since picked: - 1.03
Earnings Date 10/19/06 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 1.3 million


Radian Group - RDN - close: 59.88 chg: -0.07 stop: 61.51

The path of least resistance appears to still be down for RDN. However, the stock is still clinging to support near $60 and its 200-dma (near 59.50). We remain on the sidelines and we are still suggesting a trigger to buy puts at $58.99. If triggered our target is the $55.15-55.00 range. We do not want to hold over the mid October earnings report.

Picked on August xx at $ xx.xx <-- see TRIGGER
Change since picked: + 0.00
Earnings Date 10/18/06 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 722 thousand


Transocean Inc. - RIG - cls: 66.75 chg: +0.98 stop: 70.25

Crude oil futures are trying to bounce from their lows of the week. Iran's refusal to comply with the U.N.'s August 31st deadline to stop enriching uranium has kept something of a floor underneath the price of oil. Yet this has failed to stop the profit taking in the oil sector this week. Shares of RIG managed a 1.49% bounce from its test of support near $65.00. We are not suggesting new plays at this time. The stock has already hit our conservative target at $65.25 multiple times. Our secondary, aggressive target is the $61 level. Currently the P&F chart points to a $49 target.

Picked on August 07 at $ 69.49
Change since picked: - 2.74
Earnings Date 08/03/06 (confirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 6.4 million

Strangle Updates


Dropped Calls


Dropped Puts

Burlington Nor.SantaFe - BNI - cls: 66.95 chg: +1.94 stop: 70.25

Abandon ship! Or in this case the railroad! Yesterday we warned readers that BNI was poised for a breakout either direction. Well today was it. The stock rose 2.9% and broke out over resistance at the top of its bearish channel. We are suggesting that traders exit immediately. Truly nimble traders may want to consider buying calls and putting a stop loss under $64.00.

Picked on August 08 at $ 68.06
Change since picked: - 1.11
Earnings Date 10/24/06 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 2.7 million

Dropped Strangles



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