Option Investor

Daily Newsletter, Monday, 09/08/2008

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Table of Contents

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

Market Wrap

Market Wrap

Market Wrap

If I were to actually leave the house tonight and someone asked me how my day was I would say one word and one word only; volatile. If you dont watch TV or listen to the financial news channels on XM or Sirius satellite then you might not realize that the Dow, S&P and NYSE all had stellar days for one main reason. That reason is that the Fed/Treasury department decided to go into the mortgage business. The government will be backing the conservatorship with about $100 billion for Fannie Mae and Freddie MAC, each.
"Standard & Poor's Ratings Services said that it affirmed its long-term 'AAA' and short-term 'A-1 ' senior unsecured debt ratings on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The outlook is stable. At the same time, we lowered our risk-to-the-government standalone issuer credit ratings on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to 'R' (regulatory supervision) from 'A-' and withdrew the ratings. We have also revised the CreditWatch listing of the 'BBB ' subordinated debt ratings on these entities to positive from negative. In addition, we lowered the preferred stock ratings to 'C' from 'BBB-' and removed the ratings from CreditWatch with negative implications. The subordinated debt and preferred stock ratings were originally placed on CreditWatch Aug. 26, 2008... We believe the government has now clearly reinforced its support of the two government-sponsored enterprises. The government's action underscores the importance it places on the GSEs, as well as its apparent belief that their mortgage franchises are viable and critical to the financing of the U.S. mortgage market and the overall economy."
The credit risk to the government may have been reason the markets sold off from their gap up opens.

In other financial related news Ambac Financial Received Regulatory Approval to Support Obligations of Its Investment Agreement Business. ABK announced that Wisconsins Office of the Commissioner of Insurance has approved up to $1 billion in future inter-company asset sales and secured lending transactions between Ambac Assurance and its Investment Agreement business affiliates.

Washington Mutual (WM) confirmed today that Alan H. Fishman has been appointed chief executive officer and has joined WM's Board of Directors. In addition, WM announced that it has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the
Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS) concerning aspects of the bank's operations. WM fell 6%

Altria Group (MO) and UST, the maker of smokeless tobacco products, have announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement for MO to acquire all outstanding shares of UST. Under the terms of the agreement, shareholders of UST will receive $69.50 in cash for each share of common stock held. The transaction is valued at approximately $11.7 billion, which includes the assumption of approximately $1.3 billion of debt.

Boeing (BA) advanced 0.85 to $63.84 even though the company announced that it was unable to reach a labor agreement with the machinists union. 26,800 have gone on strike.

The Internals

The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) advanced 134.86 on 1.3 billion shares traded today. There were 1,793 advancing issues versus 998 decliners. The NYSE had 58 new 52 Week highs and 142 new 52 Week lows. One the Nasdaq Composite index there was a total of 2.6 billion shares traded on 1,726 advancing issues. In addition, there were 1126 decliners today. The COMP had 76 new highs and 142 new 52 week lows.


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Crude oil closed down a little today at $106.23 but traded within a $4 point range. In early trading the commodity was higher. Even though the current track is for Ike to run through the Gulf oil patch, it appears that the market is going to wait on the next hurricane before bidding up the price of oil. The strengthening dollar continues to give support to the decline in the commodity complex. The Eurodollar futures are currently at 1.4122, which is almost 20 cents per Euro lower.

S&P 500

As mentioned in last Wednesdays commentary, I pointed out that the 38.2% Fibonacci retracement had been the magnet for the price action of late and that a break of the 50% would cause the picture to turn ugly. In addition, 1260 was the first support level with a target low of about 1240. The SPX broke lower through the 50% retracement level and violated the 78.6% level on Friday before bouncing higher to close just below the 61.8% Fibonacci level (1224). I also pointed out that the RSI hadnt signaled anything other than consolidation and was looking as though the momentum was downward. In addition, the slow Stochastics had crossed below the moving average which generally signals that the direction is to the downside. Thursdays decline and Friday mornings follow through confirmed the slow Stochastics indication. The RSI and Slow Stochastics both broke below their respective oversold barriers. By Fridays close, they both had emerged from oversold territory to confirm that a bounce was due. That is the past and the future indication is that there is still upside momentum from both the Slow Stochastic and RSI. The Slow Stochastic has crossed above the moving average which usually indicates upside momentum. The SPX broke above the 21 day exponential moving average (EMA) intraday but ended lower at 1267. The SPX did close above the 8 day EMA which closed at 1265. With the SPXs 8 day EMA lower than the 21 day EMA the moving averages are currently indicating weakness. In addition, the Bollinger bands have expanded greatly to acknowledge the increased volatility in the SPX. Last week, the main concern was that the upper band was curling downward and had served as a resistance level for the SPX on Wednesdays high. It is amazing how often the pinching of the Bollinger bands is followed by a sharp move in the direction of the momentum (Stochastics in this case).

Last week the 50 day simple moving average (SMA) was the dynamic support level that held up as the support on Wednesday. However, the SPX closed just below the 50 day SMA (1268.6) today. The trend, as indicated by the 89 and 200 day SMA, is still very much down. Once the 89 day begins to curve upward the trend will become upward. There is still quite a bit of resistance at 1300 and also at 1315 from both the August price highs and the 89 day SMA. The ADX and Money Flow index are both indicating nothing. The ADX generally indicates that a trend is in place when the indicator is above 15 and increasing. The support is from Fridays low of 1217 and July 15th low at 1200.

Russell 2000 (RUT)

The RUTs relative strength has continued through the recent overall volatility. Even the 8 day EMA maintained above the 21 day EMA. The RUT advanced up 14 points to 732. The upper Bollinger band is declining while the lower band is moving upward. The pinch of the bands may be indicating some future volatility in the RUT just it did in the SPX. The main difference in the two indices is that the RUT has upside momentum as indicated by both the Slow Stochastics and RSI. The Slow Stochastics is about to move up through the moving average which will confirm the upside momentum. The RSI hasnt confirmed the upside momentum until the RSI breaks above the recent high from 9/3. As of the close, the RUT closed above both the 8 and 21 day EMAs.

The ADX is indicating consolidation because the indicator is less than 20 and declining. The Money Flow index has continued to decline while the RUT is consolidating. The Money Flow is basically indicating a stealth sell off. On Thursday, the RUT remained above the 200 day SMA but closed below the 89 day SMA. Fridays low violated the 50 day and 89 day SMA intraday but was able to close above both averages. If we are using the 89 day SMA as the trend indicator, then the RUT is currently on an uptrend. Support is from the 200 day SMA and then Fridays low. A break of either would signal another sell off. A break above 755 and then 765 is the signal for a new upside move. Otherwise, the RUT will remain in this consolidation phase; which may happen while the SPX and NDX find their footings.


I want to spend a little time on the NDX since it is showing quite a bit of weakness. The RUT, which is comprised mostly of small capitalization stocks, has been receiving more money flow while the NDX is being distributed. For instance, the NDXs Money Flow index above peaked at 80 in August and bounced from about 25 on Friday. While the market closed down today the Money Flow increased a little. In addition, the low price of 1734 filled in the March gap at 1750 today. One issue in the above chart is that the ADX is above 20 at 21.09 and moving upward. The ADX is representing that the NDX is in an established trend. Therefore, the ADX is suggesting that the downtrend is alive while the Money Flow is indicating that the NDX is near a low. There is the other gap at 1706 from March 17th that may need to be filled prior to any move to the upside. If there is a move upward, todays high of 1797 will be the first resistance level. The next level of resistance is at the 50 day SMA (1859 and declining). Moving averages provide dynamic support and resistance where price levels remain fixed.

The Consumer Staples (XLP) sector has remained the leader of the pack in relation to relative strength among the S&Ps sectors. The trade has been long the XLP and short the Energy or Basic Materials (XLE or XLB) sectors. The Consumer Discretionary (XLY) sector is another strong sector that has come from energys weakness. But consumers arent running out to buy fancy purses and clothes as fast as they buy the necessities. The XLY (shown below) broke and closed above its 200 day SMA today. The Money Flow index appears to have hit a bottom. ADX has not yet confirmed a new uptrend. Finally, the price needs to break and close above $32 in order to establish some follow through.

Earnings and Economy

As a card player, the only interesting stock reporting earnings tomorrow is Shuffle Master (SHFL). I dont think Cramer even knows half of these stocks.

Last week I wrote about the EPS trade with Take Two Interactive (TTWO) as the example. There must be some additional news expected or surrounding the stock because the Implied Volatility only dropped 10% from last week. On the next one, I will send out an update the next evening on how the trade works and how to manage the risks with position sizing and trade allocations.

There are only two major economic reports due out tomorrow including the Pending Home Sales and the July Wholesale Inventories. The market is expecting further weakness in pending home sales from Julys 5.3% increase. August was a slow month for a lot of my Realtor friends. I play in a weekly poker game that at its peak the majority of the players had some involvement in Real Estate or mortgages. I believe that almost all of them have now switched to different industries, thus giving up. There is one individual I am waiting for to switch careers before calling a capitulation bottom.

Open Interest

The September open interest will only be valid for use until this Friday when I will begin to use Octobers option open interest. The NDX shows peak open interest at the 1700 strike price. There are 17,605 contracts open at that strike. There should be substantial support at 1700 from the open interest and the price gap at 1706 finally getting filled. There is some resistance at the 1850 call option strike price. However, the peak is at 1950 with 18,481 contracts open. With only two weeks left, the 1850 strike price is the only resistance level I expect to see come into play. But you never know.

The SPX posts its strikes in $5 increments. There is usually a lot of open interest at the $25 points. The peak open interest on the puts is at the 1250 strike price with 246,199 contracts. After that, the 1225 strike price comes in with some high open interest that could come in with some backup. On the upside, there is resistance at the 1275 Calls with 89,191 contracts. The peak open interest is at 223,427 on the 1300 Call Strike price. Therefore, there is some serious resistance above.

Good trading to all!

The Contrarian

The CBOE Equity Put/Call Ratio

This is just a brief update to notify everyone that the 10 day moving average of the CBOE Equity Volume Put/Call ratio have closed back above the 20 day moving average as of Fridays close. The 10 day moving average had dipped to 0.683 on Wednesday and closed up to 0.708 on Friday. The signal is still Neutral as I am waiting 10 day moving average to close above the 20 day moving average for a second day in a row. Basically, it appears that the call buying bulls are peaking and /or not that many portfolio managers are protecting their portfolios positions with equity puts. Before switching to a Negative bias, I would like to see the 20 day moving average begin to move up as well. I will be sending out an update on Wednesday if not earlier. SIGNAL: NEUTRAL BIAS

The CBOE Volatility Index ($VIX)

Peaks in the 10 day moving average of the CBOE Volatility Index generally signal points of inflection that provide better long entry points where lows in the 10 day moving average suggest that investors are more complacent. Just to review the contrarian concept, when a majority of investors are overly complacent, the markets are generally near a high and vice versa on scared investors. The use of moving averages provides more confirmation and therefore arent as timely as using the actual $VIX readings.

The chart above shows that the 10 day moving average has crossed above the 20 day moving average on Thursdays close. Therefore the signal is being moved to a Negative bias. The moving averages represent the trend and the trend confirmation. The current trend shows that volatility is advancing from relative low range of 20. Our signal will become Neutral once the moving average curls over or reaches up to the July high of 26. Trade adjustments to reduce positive deltas may be done on market advances that pull the $VIX down near its 20 day moving average. Spikes up to over 26 may be short term buys while an exhaustive move up to the upper Bollinger band at 29 30 would provide a higher probability long entry/short exit. SIGNAL: NEGATIVE BIAS

Investors Intelligence

While the website for Investors Intelligence refer to the indicator as a poll of Investment Advisors the results from the polls reflect the sentiment of investment newsletter writers. There is a poll of actual investors sentiment; I have been using the Investors Intelligence indicator for almost ten years. The long term tendency is to trade long at points in which there are greater Bears than Bulls and to trade short at points in which the Bulls out number the Bears. Historically, long trades are best when the Bearish sentiment number is above 45%. Short trades are best when the Bullish sentiment exceeds 55%. However, there can be divergences in the polls and the Spread between the two polls can provide relative levels to trade. For instance, long trades have been most prevalent when the Spread is near or below 0. Short trades are best when the spread reaches above 30.

The report that was released last Wednesday shows that the level of Bullish advisors decreased 1.5% to 37.8%. While the level of Bearish newsletter writers in increased a little to 40% from 39.3%. The spread decreased a little to minus 2.2%. We would normally move the signal to a Negative bias on the initial reversal that we saw last week but there was some concern that the move was premature. The slight decrease in the curve is somewhat flat which may indicate the trend in sentiment of newsletter writers may be reversing back toward positive territory. But this is the second week that the Bearish newsletter writers have increased. SIGNAL: SLIGHTLY NEGATIVE BIAS

The Contrarian Trade

I wanted to take this opportunity to update the position of the trade. As the Contrarian indicates the signal is now at a Neutral with a slight Negative bias. Therefore, we should adjust the positions Delta down ward. Below is a screenshot of the current profit/loss line and risk analysis. Notice that the Delta is at 42.22 on the center row. The current profit is at about $560 on the position. The max profit is $2,900.

At some point we want to close out the 1350/1360 Credit Call Spread and sell a spread closer to the current price. Since we established resistance at 1330, we can sell the September 1330/1340 Call Credit Spread. If the sentiment is indicating that the market is near a top then we want to give the current position more room to the downside by closing out the 1235/1225 Put Credit spread. We can do each of these adjustments this by creating two spreads (one credit and one debit) or create a trade called a condor. See the chart below.

Both positions are trading at $0.40 per contract. The difference is that one is a debit and the other is a credit. Therefore, the trade will only cost commissions. Spend some time looking at the P/L plots and how the adjustment affects the break even points and the shape of the current curve. The Theta on the original position is currently at $141 per day while the new position is at $220 per day. The increase is from selling the calls closer and only slightly moving the puts. We might want to stand ready to adjust the strikes below the 1200 support level on any sign of weakness. Finally, the Delta was adjusted to down to 18 from 42.22.

Robert J. Ogilvie

New Plays

Most Recent Plays

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New Option Plays
Call Options Plays
Put Options Plays
Strangle Options Plays
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New Calls

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New Puts

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New Strangles

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Play Updates

Updates On Latest Picks

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Call Updates

Freeport-McMoran - FCX - cls: 72.06 change: -1.85 stop: 69.19

We cautioned readers over the weekend to keep an eye on the U.S. dollar and how it might affect commodities and thus shares of FCX. The dollar did surge higher and FCX dipped to $70.11 before bouncing. More conservative traders might want to raise their stop closer to the $70.00 mark. If the dollar continues to fly higher FCX could easily stop us out. We have two targets. Our first target is $79.75. Our second target is $84.00.

Picked on September 06 at $ 73.91
Change since picked: - 1.85
Earnings Date 10/23/08 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 11.2 million


Jones Lang - JLL - close: 52.02 chg: 1.04 stop: 49.95 *new*

Target achieved. As expected almost anything related to financial stocks were strong this morning. JLL hit $55.08 before paring its gains. Our initial target was $54.95. Shares dipped back to $50.40 before bouncing higher this afternoon. We are raising our stop loss to $49.95. Our second target is $59.00. FYI: We would consider this a more aggressive play because option volume is light and the option spreads are wide.

Picked on September 06 at $ 50.98 /1st target hit 9/8/08
Change since picked: 1.04
Earnings Date 10/30/08 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 705 thousand


Kohls - KSS - close: 53.86 change: 2.82 stop: 49.15

Retail stocks were some of the best performers today. KSS did gap higher at the open. After the midday pull back shares soared to their best levels. Closing at its highs for the day is normally a bullish sign for the next session. Our first target is $55.00. We're considering a second, higher target. The P&F chart is bullish with a $62 target. As expected the move over $53.00 has produced a new P&F chart buy signal.

Picked on September 06 at $ 51.04
Change since picked: 2.82
Earnings Date 11/13/08 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 7.6 million


CBOE Volatility Index - VIX - close: 22.64 chg: -0.42 stop: n/a

The VIX moved lower given the optimism today. A lot of folks think this bounce in the market is going to be short-lived. Another bounce in the VIX might be an entry point to buy calls. Our target is the 29.75 mark but readers might want to consider scaling out of positions in the 28-29 region.

Picked on August 03 at $ 22.57
Change since picked: 0.07
Earnings Date 00/00/00
Average Daily Volume = x million

Put Updates

Air Products - APD - cls: 87.33 change: 0.12 stop: 90.55

There was a strong open for APD and shares spiked to $89.93 before failing. We cautioned readers over the weekend to expect a rally back toward $90. This move looks like another failed rally. We remain bearish. APD has already exceeded our $87.00 target. Our secondary target is $84.00. The Point & Figure chart is bearish with a $73 target.

Picked on August 31 at $ 91.85 *target hit 87.00 on 09/04/08
Change since picked: - 5.03
Earnings Date 10/22/08 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 1.8 million


Jacobs Engineering - JEC - cls: 61.91 chg: -2.66 stop: 68.55*new*

JEC gapped open and spiked to $67.44 before immediately fading. The stock closed down about 4%. We are adjusting our stop loss to $68.55. Our target is $60.50. We are adding a secondary target of $56.50. Expect a bounce near $60.00 and be sure to take some money off the table at our first target. FYI: The Point & Figure chart is bearish with a $47 target.

Picked on September 04 at $ 66.90 *triggered
Change since picked: - 4.99
Earnings Date 11/05/08 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 1.6 million


Millicom Intl. - MICC - cls: 75.28 chg: -0.58 stop: 80.51

The early morning rally in MICC quickly faded. This could be a new entry point for put positions. The MACD on the daily chart has produced a new sell signal. The P&F chart is bearish with a $63 target. Our target is $75.05. Our second target is $72.50.

Picked on August 28 at $ 78.58 *1st target hit 09/03/08
Change since picked: - 4.79
Earnings Date 10/23/08 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 1.0 million


Roper Industries - ROP - cls: 58.04 chg: 1.82 stop: 60.05

Shares of ROP were upgraded to a "buy" this morning and that helped send shares to an intraday high of $60.00. Unfortunately for the bulls the rally quickly evaporated but the afternoon bounce lifted ROP to a 3% gain. Look for this bounce to fail again in the $59-60 zone and then use the failure as a new entry point for puts. Our target is $54.25. FYI: The Point & Figure chart is bearish with a $45 target but the P&F chart also shows some support near $53.00.

Picked on September 03 at $ 58.19
Change since picked: - 0.15
Earnings Date 10/23/08 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 664 thousand


Unibanco - UBB - close: 109.57 chg: 0.91 stop: 115.05

The rally in financials lifted UBB to $114.91 and it immediately failed under resistance near $115 and its 10-dma. This looks like another bearish entry point to buy puts. However, readers should keep in mind that no one knows how long the strength in financials might last. We have two targets. Our first target is $100.50. Our second target is $92.50. The Point & Figure chart has produced a brand new triple-bottom breakdown sell signal with a $92.00 target - a target that will probably move lower. The stock can be volatile so readers should consider this a higher-risk play.

Picked on September 04 at $108.82
Change since picked: 0.75
Earnings Date 11/06/08 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 1.5 million

Strangle Updates

(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.)


Lehman Brothers - LEH - close: 14.15 chg: -2.05 stop: n/a

It was a tough day for LEH. The stock painted a big bearish engulfing candlestick and lost 12%. There was constant talk of how potential suitors and investors are pulling away from LEH. Plus, there was news today that some top executives were leaving the company. We are quickly running out of time. We have less than two weeks left before September options expire. LEH needs to do something quick. We need to see LEH significantly above $24.00 or under $10.00. The options we suggested were the September $24.00 calls (LYH-IR) and the September $10.00 puts (LYH-UB). Our estimated cost is $2.15. We want to sell if either option hits $3.50 or higher.

Picked on July 27 at $ 17.05
Change since picked: - 2.90
Earnings Date 09/18/08 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 63 million

Dropped Calls

Cleveland Cliffs - CLF - close: 76.85 chg: -5.28 stop: 75.69

Another major gain in the U.S. dollar hit the commodity stocks hard. Shares of CLF dipped to $75.22 intraday hitting our stop loss at $75.69, which was just under Friday's low. Adding more turmoil to the mix was news that CLF is asking shareholders to vote against a proposal by its largest shareholder, Harbinger Capital Partners, who wants to raise their stake in CLF from 15.6% to 33.3%. Harbinger wants to vote against CLF's pending acquisition of Alpha Natural Resources (ANR).

Picked on September 06 at $ 82.13 /stopped out 75.69
Change since picked: 0.00
Earnings Date 10/30/08 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 4.4 million


Prudential Fincl. - PRU - cls: 84.92 chg: 6.18 stop: 74.99

PRU looked poised to move higher but we weren't expecting shares to gap open higher at $84.44. This morning the stock was upgraded to an "out perform", which helped exacerbate the move higher. We were targeting a move to $84.75. PRU hit $87.21 intraday. We're not claiming a win given the gap open. We would still keep an eye on PRU as the $80 level should now be support.

Picked on September 06 at $ 78.74 gap open 84.44
Change since picked: 6.18
Earnings Date 10/29/08 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 4.0 million

Dropped Puts

Deutsche Bank - DB - close: 86.13 change: 3.42 stop: 86.05

The FRE/FNM news came out after the bell on Friday. We knew that financials were going to act bullish on Monday but there wasn't much we could do. DB has some short-term resistance near $87.00 and the stock gapped open at $86.77 but then failed twice near $86.85. The opening trade was above our stop loss at $86.05 so the play is closed.

Picked on September 04 at $ 81.97 /stopped 86.77 gap higher exit
Change since picked: 4.16
Earnings Date 10/30/08 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 995 thousand


L-3 Comm. - LLL - close: 105.23 chg: 2.59 stop: 105.05

Widespread market strength on Monday helped lift LLL to $105.60. Our stop loss was hit at $105.05. The last few sessions have seen a major whipsaw in shares of LLL. The stock rose more than 2.5% today but traders should note that volume was extremely low. LLL currently has resistance in the $106.00-107.00 zone.

Picked on September 04 at $102.00 *stopped $105.05
Change since picked: 3.23
Earnings Date 10/23/08 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 1.0 million

Dropped Strangles


Today's Newsletter Notes: Market Wrap and The Contrarian by Robert Ogilvie and all other plays and content by the Option Investor staff.


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