Option Investor
Newsletter

Daily Newsletter, Wednesday, 2/9/2011

Table of Contents

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

Market Wrap

Bulls Take A Break...Sort Of

by Todd Shriber

Click here to email Todd Shriber
It was not the most eventful of days as stocks traded lower for most of Wednesday, save a for late day uptick that pared losses on the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 and helped the Dow Jones Industrial Average scratch out its eight consecutive up day. Despite closing lower, the Russell 2000 did find its way to a new 52-week high today.

Stats Table

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke was on Capitol Hill today telling members of the House that the U.S. economy is improving, but that U.S. firms still are not ratcheting up hiring of new staff. That would seem to be an obvious statement in the wake of last Friday's disappointing jobs report and it would also seem obvious to say that the economy needs more folks employed, and at good wages I might add, to truly blossom. For those that believe equity markets are forward looking indicators, then it can be argued that higher payrolls and more robust GDP growth are not too far off.

While today obviously is not Monday, there was a ''Merger Monday'' feel to Wednesday's trading, at least among the companies that operate the world's major securities exchanges. The headlines that got the ball rolling came from outside the U.S. as the London Stock Exchange Group offered to acquire TMX Group, the operator of the Toronto Stock Exchange, for $3.2 billion. LSE's offer values TMX at about 6% above where the shares closed on Tuesday, not a rich premium, but any ensuing drama in this deal promises to flow from other sources.

I echo the sentiments of a Bloomberg News piece that said the deal could face opposition from Canada's government. Remember, it was just a few months ago that Canadian authorities put the kibosh on BHP Billiton's (BHP) $38.6 billion hostile bid for Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan (POT). No, Potash did not want to sell itself to BHP and we can only speculate that had BHP raised its offer, a deal would have been reached. The folks in Ottawa said the deal was not beneficial to Canada. Now our neighbors to the north are faced with another opportunity to show the world their market is not closed to foreign investors seeking acquisitions.

The LSE/TMX news trickled over to the U.S. where shares NYSE Euronext (NYX) were halted for a little while for news pending. The news, originally reported by a German investment newsletter, is that Deutsche Borse AG is in advanced discussions to acquire NYSE Euronext in all-stock deal that would create the world's largest exchange operator.

The combined organization would be home to publicly traded companies worth about $15 trillion, or 28 percent of global stock-market value, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Deutsche Boerse's offer is believed to value the owner of the New York Stock Exchange at 10% above Tuesday's closing price of just over $33.

This latest wave of consolidation in the exchange business should not come as a surprise. Traditional exchanges, both in the U.S. and abroad, have been losing market share for years to electronic exchanges and consolidation is viewed as the best way of boosting their business prospects and their bottom lines.

The combined organization would be home to publicly traded companies worth about $15 trillion, or 28 percent of global stock-market value, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. NYSE Euronext investors apparently liked the news.

NYSE Euronext Chart

In earnings news, shares of Coca-Cola (KO) gained less than half a percent after the world's largest soft drink maker said its fourth-quarter profit more than tripled to $5.77 billion, or $2.46 per share, from $1.54 billion, or 66 cents per share, a year earlier. Excluding one-time items, the Dow component earned 72 cents a share, meeting the consensus estimate. Revenue surged 40% to $10.49 billion, topping the consensus estimate of $10.16 billion.

Global beverage volume rose 6%, but North America was the real story on that front with 8% volume growth. Apparently, consumers are not taking a break from soda, but they are embracing the more healthy variety (if there is such a thing). Atlanta-based Coca-Cola said Coke Zero posted double-digit volume growth for the 19th straight quarter.

The company reported its biggest volume gain in Eurasia and Africa, which rose 14%. Latin America posted a 5% increase, while Europe climbed 2% and the Pacific 1%, according to the Associated Press. At the end of the third quarter, Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway (BRK-A) owned 200 million shares of Coca-Cola.

Coca-Cola Chart

Shares of OpenTable (OPEN) rose slightly after the online restaurant reservations firm said its fourth-quarter profit jumped 65% to $5.1 million, or 21 cents per share, from $3.1 million, or 13 cents per share, a year earlier. Excluding one-time items, the company said it earned 33 cents a share, topping the 22 cents analysts were expecting. Revenue rose to $30.8 million. Analysts were forecasting $30.3 million.

The stock touched an all-time high of $86.20 today before settling at $85.85. That is a fact worth noting if you were a believer in OpenTable from its infancy. Personally, I am neutral and hold no positions, short or long in this name, but I can remember when the company went public in May 2009 that there were a fair amount of skeptics. I even remember getting some crazy emails saying the stock was worth shorting or buying puts on.

Fast-forward almost two years and California-based OpenTable has risen over 400% from its IPO price of $20. That performance sharply bests Nasdaq darlings Amazon (AMZN) and Google (GOOG) and is on par with Apple (AAPL).

OpenTable Chart

Speaking of Nasdaq darlings, or in this case, a former one, Cisco Systems (CSCO), the world's largest provider of networking gear, reported fiscal second-quarter results after the close today, but the problem was not those numbers, it was the company's outlook.

For that quarter, Cisco said it earned 37 cents a share, excluding one-time items while analysts were expecting 35 cents. Revenue rose to $10.4 billion, beating the consensus estimate of $10.2 billion. Cisco posted gross margins of 62.4% while the Street was expecting 63%. That is disappointment Number One. Number Two comes from Cisco's fiscal third-quarter guidance of 6% profit growth while the Street was expecting 8%.

CEO John Chambers said the company is in a ''period of transition,'' but investors' patience for this period may be wearing thin. Cisco has $40 billion in cash and will start paying a dividend this year and that might keep some value hunters interested in the name, but Cisco's lack of focus appears to be hurting the company in the near-term. If it is value you are after, it looks like Cisco will be offering better prices at the open tomorrow as the shares are down 7% in the after-hours session as of this writing.

Cisco Chart

Looking at the charts, the S&P 500 was able to hold above old resistance at 1320 today and even at its lowest point of the day, the index did not drift too far away from that important level. The 1335-1340 area could prove to be resistance as those are heights the S&P 500 has not seen since 2008. Support is moving higher, but for now is 1290-1300.

S&P 500 Chart

Eight straight gains for the Dow could mean a pullback is in the offing, but it is doubtful that it will be too deep. The chart here is simply a thing of beauty and resistance probably will not be an issue until 12,450-12,500. If 12,150 does not hold as support in the event of a pullback, then next support would be 12,000, but I think that may be a stretch.

Dow Chart

I doubt that Cisco alone will be enough to shave nine points off the Nasdaq and take it down to first support at 2780, but it is worth noting that Nasdaq futures were trading lower after Cisco's earnings announcement. If 2780 is violated, then 2765 could be the next stop. If the bulls can regain control here, 2810 is next resistance.

Nasdaq Chart

Is the Russell 2000 back to its role as a leader? I am starting to think the answer to that question is a resounding yes. As I noted earlier, the Index made a new 52-week high today and despite the small loss, is above the 807 resistance area. Almost 16 points remain between the Russell's current resting point and next resistance.

Russell 2000 Chart

In closing, I would not be alarmed by Wednesday's lackluster action. Mergers and acquisitions activity is obviously alive and well and the January/February time frame is once again proving rewarding for income investors with a healthy amount of dividend increases. 3M (MMM) and Polo Ralph Lauren are among the more noteworthy dividend raisers in the last two days. These are anecdotes that bode well for more upside.

Speaking of upside anecdotes, I certainly would have delivered this on Monday, my usual day for the wrap, as it would have been more appropriate the day after the Super Bowl. Alas, here it is for Wednesday consumption, but it is no less compelling: When the Green Bay Packers win the Super Bowl, the average gain for the S&P 500 from the trading day following the game through the end of the year is 16%, according to Bespoke Investment Group. Too bad the Pittsburgh Steelers did not win. The S&P 500 gains an average of almost 19% when that team hoists the Lombardi Trophy.


New Option Plays

Depression Is Over

by James Brown

Click here to email James Brown

Editor's Note:

Yesterday I mentioned NKE and BHP as potential bullish candidates. NKE is being added to the newsletter tonight. Be careful with BHP. It looks like they report earnings on Feb. 15th and naturally I would not want to hold over the report.

- James


NEW DIRECTIONAL CALL PLAYS

Nike Inc. - NKE - close: 87.25 change: +0.54

Stop Loss: 83.85
Target(s): 88.00, 89.90
Current Option Gain/Loss: Unopened
Time Frame: 4 to 8 weeks
New Positions: Yes, see Trigger

Company Description

Why We Like It:
NKE is finally recovering from its post-earnings depression. The stock was depressed for several weeks and suffered a -12% correction before finally reversing a couple of weeks ago. The stock has now broken out above resistance in the $84-85 zone and its 50-dma. We don't want to chase it here.

I am suggesting we buy calls on a dip at $85.25. If triggered we'll use a stop loss at $83.85. Our targets are $88.00 and $89.90.

Trigger @ $85.25

- Suggested Positions -

Buy the March $85 calls (NKE1119C85) current ask $3.70

- or -

Buy the April $90 calls (NKE1116D90) current ask $1.76

Annotated Chart:

Entry on February xxth at $ xx.xx
Earnings Date 03/17/11 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 2.2 million
Listed on February 9th, 2010


In Play Updates and Reviews

Stocks Pause on Inflation Fears

by James Brown

Click here to email James Brown

Editor's Note:

Inflation remains a popular topic on Wall Street. Grain commodities were on the rise. Stocks trended lower after hitting new two-year highs yesterday. There is little change on our play list. However, our time frame on the WYNN has changed drastically. The company now expects to report earnings tomorrow night. We need to exit tomorrow at the close.

-James

Current Portfolio:


CALL Play Updates

Caterpillar Inc. - CAT - close: 99.79 change: -0.82

Stop Loss: 93.90
Target(s): 99.90, 104.00
Current Option Gain/Loss: Unopened
Time Frame: 4 to 6 weeks
New Positions: Yes, see trigger

Comments:
02/09 update: CAT underperformed the DJIA today with a -0.8% decline. Shares remain very short-term overbought and we'd like to see the dip continue. Right now I am aiming to buy calls at $96.50. Our targets are $99.90 and $104.00.


The Point & Figure chart for CAT is bullish with a $112 target.

Trigger @ 96.50

Buy the March $100 calls (CAT1119C100) current ask $2.92

Entry on February xxth at $ xx.xx
Earnings Date 04/21/11 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 6.2 million
Listed on February 5th, 2010


Coach Inc. - COH - close: 57.41 change: +0.20

Stop Loss: 53.49
Target(s): 58.50, 62.00
Current Option Gain/Loss: +57.1%, and +111.7%
Time Frame: 4 to 6 weeks
New Positions: see below

Comments:
02/09 update: COH eked out another gain after hitting $57.80 intraday this morning. There is no change from my prior comments. Our first exit target is $58.50. I would still consider new positions on a dip back toward $55.00. Keep in mind that the $60.00 level could end up being round-number, psychological resistance.

- Suggested Positions -

Long the 2011 March $55.00 calls (COH1119C55) Entry @ $2.10

- or -

Long the 2011 March $57.50 calls (COH1119C57.5) Entry @ $0.85

02/08: New stop loss @ 53.49

Entry on February 7th at $55.35
Earnings Date 04/20/11 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 4.1 million
Listed on January 31st, 2011


Costco Wholesale Corp. - COST - close: 74.67 change: +0.08

Stop Loss: 72.95
Target(s): 79.75
Current Option Gain/Loss: Unopened
Time Frame: 3+ weeks
New Positions: Yes, see Trigger

Comments:
02/09 update: COST spent the day churning sideways between $74 and $75. There is no change from my prior comments. I would be tempted to buy calls right now but COST has significant resistance near $75.00 dating back to early 2008. The old high was $75.23. I am suggesting we use a trigger to buy calls on a breakout at $75.50. If triggered our target is $79.75. However, we will plan to exit ahead of COST's early March earnings report. That gives us three or four weeks.

The Point & Figure chart for COST is bullish with an $88 target.

Trigger @ 75.50

- Suggested Positions -

Buy the March $75 calls (COST1119C75) current ask $1.39

Entry on February xxth at $ xx.xx
Earnings Date 03/02/11 (confirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 5.8 million
Listed on February 7th, 2010


Donaldson Company, Inc. - DCI - close: 59.73 change: -0.20

Stop Loss: 57.40
Target(s): 62.50, 64.75
Current Option Gain/Loss: Unopened
Time Frame: 4 to 6 weeks
New Positions: Yes, see trigger

Comments:
02/09 update: DCI is still building steam under resistance at $60.00. There is no change from my previous comment. I am suggesting a trigger to buy calls at $60.35. If triggered we'll use a stop at $57.40. Our targets are $62.50 and $64.75. We will plan to exit ahead of the late February earnings report.

Trigger @ 60.35 (Small Positions)

- Suggested Positions -

Buy the 2011 March $60 calls (DCI1119C60) Current ask $1.75

02/05 Switched from puts to calls. Trigger @ 60.35

Entry on February xxth at $ xx.xx
Earnings Date 02/23/11 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 208 thousand
Listed on January 31st, 2011


Fastenal Co. - FAST - close: 62.68 change: +0.14

Stop Loss: 58.70
Target(s): 64.75, 67.25
Current Option Gain/Loss: Unopened
Time Frame: 4 to 6 weeks
New Positions: Yes, see Trigger

Comments:
02/09 update: FAST extended its gains to five days in a row (and up seven out of the last eight sessions). The stock looks a little overbought here. We want to see a pull back.

I am suggesting we wait for a dip and use a trigger at $61.00 to open bullish call positions. If triggered we'll use a stop loss at $58.70. Our targets are $64.75 and $67.25. FYI: The Point & Figure chart for FAST is bullish with a $73 target. Readers may want to keep in mind that the most recent data listed short interest at 11.4% of the 132 million-share float.

Trigger @ 61.00

- Suggested Positions -

Buy the March $60 calls (FAST1119C60) current ask $3.30

- or -

Buy the March $65 calls (FAST1119C65) current ask $0.75

Entry on February xxth at $ xx.xx
Earnings Date 04/12/11 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 1.0 million
Listed on February 8th, 2010


PACCAR Inc. - PCAR - close: 50.84 change: -0.65

Stop Loss: 49.45
Target(s): 53.85
Current Option Gain/Loss: - 6.6%, and -28.5%
Time Frame: 2 to 3 weeks
New Positions: see below

Comments:
02/09 update: PCAR underperformed on Wednesday with a -1.2% decline. Readers could buy calls on this dip or wait for a pull back closer to the $50.00 mark. Our exit target is $53.85. This should be a short-term trade. Aggressive traders could use February calls. I'm listing both February and March. Just remember that Februarys expire in two weeks.

Note: A lot of the option strikes are odd. PCAR must have had some sort of dividend.

Open Small Positions Now

Long the February $49.70 call (PCAR1119B49.7) Entry @ $1.50

- or -

Long the March $55 call (PCAR 1119C55) Entry @ $0.35

Entry on February 7th at $50.60
Earnings Date 04/20/11 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 2.9 million
Listed on February 5th, 2010


CBOE Market Volatility Index - VIX - close: 15.87 change: +0.06

Stop Loss: N/A
Target(s): 24.00, 28.00
Current Option Gain/Loss: -53.1%
Time Frame: 4 to 6 weeks
New Positions: see below

Comments:
02/09 update: Wednesday was a quiet day for the VIX with the index bouncing along the 16.00 level. I have been suggesting that we could open new positions near the 15.50 area. Now we have a new low as a reference point and traders could place their stop loss under 14.86. Officially we don't have a stop loss on this aggressive, speculative trade. I would start with very small positions.

Earlier Comments:
Just because the VIX bounced near the 15.00-15.50 level in the past doesn't mean it can go crashing through it but that would be a good area to speculate on a rebound. I will point out that between 2005 and 2006 the VIX was pretty much dead, limping along the 10.00 area for two years.

We have two targets to take profits at 24.00 and at 28.00.

- Suggested Positions -

Long the 2011 March $22.50 calls (VIX1116C22.5) Entry @ $1.60

Entry on January 26th at $17.00
Earnings Date --/--/--
Average Daily Volume =
Listed on January 25th, 2010


Wynn Resorts - WYNN - close: 121.53 change: +1.35

Stop Loss: 115.80
Target(s): 129.00, 135.00
Current Option Gain/Loss: - 7.2%
Time Frame: -- time is up --
New Positions: see below

Comments:
02/09 update: Warning! The time frame on our WYNN trade just changed today. Previous data listed WYNN's earnings report around Feb. 24th. Suddenly the company is expected to report earnings tomorrow (Feb. 10th) after the market's closing bell. Aggressive traders might want to risk holding over the report. We do not want to hold over the announcement. Thus, we need to plan on exiting this position tomorrow (Thursday) at the close.

- Suggested Positions -

Long the March $130 calls (WYNN1119C130) Entry @ 2.75

02/09 Time frame changed. WYNN updated their earnings release date. Prepare to exit tomorrow on Feb. 10th at the closing bell
02/08 New stop loss @ 115.80, triggered at $122.00

Entry on February 8th at $122.00
Earnings Date 02/24/11 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 2.0 million
Listed on February 3rd, 2010


PUT Play Updates

Citrix Systems - CTXS - close: 65.17 change: -0.50

Stop Loss: 68.05
Target(s): 60.10, 58.00
Current Option Gain/Loss: -89.4%, and -50.0%
Time Frame: 2 to 3 weeks
New Positions: Yes, see below

Comments:
02/09 update: CTXS is still slowly fading lower after Monday's failed rally but I remain very cautious here. No new positions at this time. Our initial plan was to start with small (half-sized) positions to limit our risk.

- (small positions) -

Long the Feb. $60 PUTs (CTXS1119N60) Entry @ $0.95

- or -

Long the Mar. $60 PUTs (CTXS1119O60) Entry @ $2.00

02/05 Adjusted stop loss to $68.05

Entry on January 31st at $63.43
Earnings Date 01/26/11
Average Daily Volume = 3.2 million
Listed on January 29th, 2010


Google Inc. - GOOG - close: 616.50 change: - 1.88

Stop Loss: n/a
Target(s): n/a
Current Option Gain/Loss: see below
Time Frame: 1 month
New Positions: No

THIS IS A STRANGLE TRADE (not a simple put play)

Comments:
02/09 update: This sideways drift in GOOG has killed our strangle play. At this point our strangle trade is dead in the water and has very little hope before expiration.

No new strangle positions at this time.

STRANGLE TRADE: Buy an out of the money CALL and PUT

STRANGLE #2 (February) initial cost $15.10, currently: $0.45 (-97.0%)

2011 February $680 call (GOOG1119B680) Entry @ $6.20

- AND -

2011 February $580 put (GOOG1119N580) Entry @ $8.90

01/22: Exit the January strangle at the open.

Entry on January 20th at $626.77
Earnings Date 01/20/11 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 3.4 million
Listed on January 19th, 2010


iShares Russell 2000 Index - IWM - close: 80.87 change: -0.36

Stop Loss: --.--
Target(s): 75.00
Current Option Gain/Loss: -100.0%
Time Frame: 1 to 2 weeks
New Positions: see below

Comments:
02/09 update: There is no change from my prior comments on this IWM put play. Our put has evaporated with the breakout higher. The trend in the IWM is back to being bullish. I'm more interested in launching call positions at this time.

Our put play has been dead for a couple of days now so we'll ride it out through expiration and see what happens.

I am not suggesting new bearish plays at this time.

Small Position only

Long the 2011 February $77 puts (IWM1119N77) Entry @ $1.65

02/03 Remove the stop loss
01/29 New stop loss @ 80.25

Entry on January 20th at $78.14
Earnings Date --/--/--
Average Daily Volume = 38 million
Listed on January 19th, 2010