Option Investor
Newsletter

Daily Newsletter, Monday, 9/26/2011

Table of Contents

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

Market Wrap

Same Old Song, But Stocks Rise

by Todd Shriber

Click here to email Todd Shriber
Equities soared on Monday on renewed optimism that European policy makers are moving closer to a solution for the region's debt woes. The Dow Jones Industrial Average enjoyed its best one-day performance since August while all the other major U.S. indexes notched solid gains as well. Gold was once again taken to the woodshed.

Stats Table

I am sure I have said ''Call me skeptical'' more than once in recent months when it comes to Europe, but I see no reason to change my tune and I am fearful that Monday's action is just a repeat of the same sad, old song. Markets take a beating for a few days because of Europe then along comes a rally like we saw today because the folks in Brussels are suddenly closer to a solution.

I admit I have not been keeping track about how many times this situation has occurred in the past 18 months, but I do know this: It has happened enough that there is good reason to be skeptical. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me eight, ten or more times, and well, I am just going to be annoyed.

Greece teetering on the brink of insolvency erased $1 trillion in market value from U.S. stocks last week, according to Bloomberg, and one day of good cheer is not going to restore all of that $1 trillion.

In my humble opinion, the price action in gold might be a more accurate tell regarding just how fearful investors are these days. Global finance ministers met over the weekend and there was not much to emerge from those talks that makes Greece and the rest of Europe suddenly look more attractive. As the Wall Street Journal noted today following gold's 2.8% slide, investors may be treating a potential Greece default like the collapse of Lehman Brothers.

Translation: In the face of a default by Greece or any other Euro zone member, gold's safe have status will wilt as investors hoard cash. I will fess up to a bullish long-term view of gold and also say that I am long a gold ETF. That said, I think it is worth noting that one of the major catalysts behind gold's recent woes is hedge funds and other speculators selling gold futures contracts to cover other losing positions. That does not mean those guys (and gals) are bearish on gold. It means they need the cash to cover bad trades.

It should also be noted that Commerzbank said today there have been hardly any outflows seen from ETFs such as the SPDR Gold Shares (GLD) and the iShares COMEX Gold Trust (IAU).

Gold Chart

In stock-specific news, energy names were on the move today as West Texas Intermediate Crude futures continued to honor critical support at $80 per barrel. As I often say, we are not going to see a 270-point upside move in the Dow without the help of Exxon Mobil (XOM) and Chevron (CVX), the two largest U.S. oil companies.

The duo obliged with XOM gaining almost 3.5% and CVX tacking on 1.6%. ''We believe the cost structure of a company's current assets and the quality of a company's project line-up will differentiate it from other companies that have simply benefited from higher oil and gas prices. Exxon remains our preferred pick,'' Citigroup said in a research note.

Citi's bullish sentiment for integrated oil stocks did not stop there. The bank upgraded Occidental Petroleum (OXY) to ''buy'' helping the California-based company gain almost 7% in the process. The Energy Select Sector SPDR (XLE) popped 3.7% on volume that was well above the daily average. XOM, CVX and OXY account for about 38% of that ETF's weight.

XLE Chart

In what may considered a real surprise, Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway (BRK-A, BRK-B) announced it will embark on a share buyback plan. Remember that while Buffett is a big fan of buying dividend stocks, he is not a fan of paying dividends to Berkshire shareholders, nor is he a fan of repurchase plans.

Buffett practically bragged to Berkshire investors in his annual letter to shareholders in February that Berkshire has not spent a dime on dividends or buybacks over the past decade. Buffett has a nice problem: Berkshire is making too much money, if there is such a thing as too much money. The company's various businesses generate $1 billion a month in profits, according to Bloomberg, and finding uses for that cash is not as easy as some might think.

Berkshire said in a statement it will repurchase its shares at 110% of book value and not allow cash holdings to fall below $20 billion due to the buyback plan. I included the chart of Berkshire's Class ''B'' shares since most of us probably are not involved with the six-figure Class ''A'' shares.

Berkshire ''B'' Chart

Speaking of noteworthy investors, Carl Icahn was in the news today, but his headlines were not nearly as inviting as Buffett's. Consumer products giant Clorox (CLX) slid 4.3% on volume that was nearly 50% above the daily average after the activist Icahn said he is withdrawing a slate of directors he wanted to be placed on the Clorox board. Icahn also acknowledged that other large Clorox shareholders would not support his plan for a sale of the company.

Ichan made a bid for the maker of Hidden Valley Ranch salad dressings and its namesake bleach in July that was rebuffed. The reality is that bid was pretty much bluster and an attempt by Icahn to get Clorox rivals Procter & Gamble (PG) and Kimberly Clark (KMB) interested in the company.

Beyond that, Icahn seemed to be the only one that viewed Clorox as an acquisition target. Even though PG is almost 100 times larger than Clorox by market value, Icahn is the only one, at least recently, to tout the Dow component as a potential suitor for Clorox. Why sell in a depressed market? That is a fair question. When the dust settled on Monday, Clorox was trading at its lowest levels in a month. For those looking for a silver lining, Clorox now yields 3.6% and that is a lot better than what you will get on money markets or Treasuries.

Clorox Chart

Looking at the charts, support at 1120 for the S&P 500 did not come into play today as the lowest the broader market index traded was 11 points above that level. With Monday's close around 1162, the S&P 500 is still a fair bit removed from psychological resistance at 1200 and the 50-day moving average at 1210.

If we do see a bounce, it would be a positive sign for the 1150-1160 area to turn into new support. If support at 1120 does not hold, then a return to 1050 could be in the cards. From there, things turn really ugly as 860 could be the next stopping point.

S&P 500 Chart

All 30 of the Dow's constituents were higher today. Rare has been the day in recent months that we have seen that situation. Only Intel (INTC) and Home Depot (HD) gained less than 1%. I am trying to curb my enthusiasm, but it may prove encouraging that the Dow broke above resistance at 10,800 and closed above 11,000. Maybe 10,800 becomes new support, though for now, a firmer floor is 10,600. The Dow has almost 300 points of real estate before seeing next resistance.

Dow Chart

It was a strong day for the Nasdaq and the move above 2500 on the Composite was made all the more impressive by the fact that Apple (AAPL) was one just 16 Nasdaq 100 members to close in the red. With a market bounce, the Nasdaq could reclaim its 50-day moving average at 2574 and then take a shot at the September high of 2643. Support is 2465.

Nasdaq Chart

In the case of the Russell 2000, any gains is welcomed, but after the bruising the index has absorbed, it is going to take more than 13-point gains to generate much excitement. I still believe psychological resistance at 700 must be dealt with then the 50-day line at 721 before buyers start feeling comfortable with small-caps again.

Russell 2000 Chart

Monday was one of those days where I was reminded of the expression ''don't fight the tape.'' Heading into the day, I would have bet against a gain of this magnitude. With that, some of the indexes did conquer important technical levels today and if the news out of Europe improves, or least stays less bad, I would expect stocks, led by the more risky fare to rally. I know I beat up on Europe quite a bit in this space, but I really would like to see things come together on the sovereign debt front. That would be good news indeed.

Todd Shriber


New Option Plays

Healthcare Tech. & Beverages

by James Brown

Click here to email James Brown

Editor's Note:

Below is a list of potential candidates to add to your watch list:

BJRI, TWC, FDS, MON, TJX, and CLB.

- James


NEW DIRECTIONAL CALL PLAYS

Cerner Corp. - CERN - close: 71.30 change: +2.14

Stop Loss: 66.99
Target(s): 74.90, 78.50
Current Option Gain/Loss: Unopened
Time Frame: 3 to 4 weeks
New Positions: Yes, see below

Company Description

Why We Like It:
Shares of CERN continue to show relative strength. The stock rallied off its intraday low near $69.00 to set a new closing all-time high. We want to hop on board. this momentum stock. I am suggesting bullish positions now but only if CERN and the S&P 500 index both open positive tomorrow morning. If triggered we'll use a stop loss at $66.99. Our first target is $74.90. Our secondary target is $78.50. FYI: The Point & Figure chart for CERN is bullish with a $92 target.

*See Entry Point Details Above*

- Suggested Positions -

Buy the OCT $75 call (CERN1122J75) current ask $1.60

Annotated Chart:

Entry on September xx at $ xx.xx
Earnings Date 10/27/11 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 1.6 million
Listed on September 26, 2011


Hansen Natural Corp. - HANS - close: 90.45 change: +2.64

Stop Loss: 85.95
Target(s): 94.75, 99.00
Current Option Gain/Loss: Unopened
Time Frame: 3 to 4 weeks
New Positions: Yes, see below

Company Description

Why We Like It:
HANS is another momentum stock showing relative strength. Traders bought the dip three times in the last three days in the $88-86 zone. Today's close over round-number resistance at $90.00 looks like a new entry point. Now it is possible that the top of the recent gap down on September 21st near $91.00 could be resistance but if the stock market indices continue to rebound I would expect HANS to rally to new highs.

I am suggesting new bullish positions now but only if HANS and the S&P 500 index both open positive tomorrow. This stock can be volatile so we do want to keep our position size small. Our first target is $94.75. Our secondary target is $99.00.

*See Entry Point Details Above*

- Suggested Positions -

buy the OCT $95 call (HANS1122J95) current ask $3.30

Annotated Chart:

Entry on September xx at $ xx.xx
Earnings Date 11/03/11 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 1.5 million
Listed on September 26, 2011



In Play Updates and Reviews

Widespread Gains on Monday

by James Brown

Click here to email James Brown

Editor's Note:

It could be bargain hunting or just an oversold bounce but Monday saw widespread gains for the stock market.

All of our new or unopened bullish trades are now open. Some have already seen substantial improvement. Our SWK put play hit our new stop loss early this morning.

-James

Current Portfolio:


CALL Play Updates

Celgene Corp. - CELG - close: 63.10 change: +0.43

Stop Loss: 60.75
Target(s): 69.00
Current Option Gain/Loss: -1.9%
Time Frame: 3 to 4 weeks
New Positions: see below

Comments:
09/26 update: Our new trade on CELG is now open. The stock opened higher at $63.03 but shares quickly dipped back toward their trendline of higher lows before recovering. Volume was pretty light today. I would still consider new positions now. More conservative traders might want to wait for a breakout past the $64.00 level instead.

- Suggested Positions -

Long OCT $65 call (CELG1122J65) Entry $1.53

Entry on September 26 at $63.03
Earnings Date 10/27/11 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 4.0 million
Listed on September 22, 2011


Check Point Software - CHKP - close: 53.41 change: +0.54

Stop Loss: 50.80
Target(s): 55.75 , 57.75
Current Option Gain/Loss: -2.7%
Time Frame: 3 to 4 weeks
New Positions: see below

Comments:
09/26 update: Our CHKP trade is now open. The stock opened at $53.00 before dipping back toward technical support at its exponential 200-dma. Traders bought the dip again and the stock closed near its highs for the session. I would still consider new positions now.

Our targets are $55.75 and $57.75. More aggressive traders can aim higher.

- Suggested Positions -

Long OCT $55 call (CHKP1122J55) Entry $1.80

09/26 trade opened.

Entry on September 26 at $53.00
Earnings Date 10/20/11 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 1.6 million
Listed on September 20, 2011


Dollar Tree Inc. - DLTR - close: 77.48 change: +1.57

Stop Loss: 73.40
Target(s): 79.75, 82.50
Current Option Gain/Loss: Oct$77.50: -3.7% & Nov$80: +3.4%
Time Frame: 3 to 4 weeks
New Positions: see below

Comments:
09/26 update: DLTR displayed some relative strength this morning with a gap open higher at $76.51. The strong open and a positive S&P500 triggered our play. The stock ended the session up +2.0% near its highs from last week.

- Suggested Positions -

Long OCT $77.50 call (DLTR1122J77.5) Entry $2.70

- or -

Long NOV $80.00 call (DLTR1119K80) Entry $2.90

Entry on September 26 at $76.51
Earnings Date 11/17/11 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 1.7 million
Listed on September 24, 2011


Hewlett Packard - HPQ - close: 22.71 change: +0.39

Stop Loss: 19.75
Target(s): 29.50
Current Option Gain/Loss: - 7.0%
Time Frame: 3 to 4 weeks
New Positions: see below

Comments:
09/26 update: HPQ saw a strong open but then spent the rest of the day churning sideways. Given our longer-term time frame I would still consider new positions now. However, if you think the market bounce is going to roll over then I suggest waiting for a dip closer to $20.00 before initiating positions. Our multi-week target is $29.50.

- Suggested Positions -

Long 2012 Jan. $24 call (HPQ1221A24) Entry $2.14

Entry on September 23 at $22.52
Earnings Date 11/21/11 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 26.6 million
Listed on September 22, 2011


iPath Copper ETN - JJC - close: 43.27 change: +0.43

Stop Loss: 39.95
Target(s): 46.50, 49.75
Current Option Gain/Loss: Oct$45: +46.6% & Dec$45: +17.5%
Time Frame: 10 weeks
New Positions: Yes, see below

Comments:
09/26 update: Metal prices saw another spike lower on Monday morning but copper reversed higher before lunchtime. I warned readers that copper might see a morning spike down as investors react to the margin hike news. If you missed our entry point this morning (today's open $41.92) then I would still consider new bullish positions now.

Please note that we are raising our stop loss from $39.95 to $40.95.

Earlier Comments:
I'm setting our targets are $46.50 and $49.75. We prefer the December $45 calls but I'm listing October calls for more aggressive traders.

- Suggested Positions -

Long OCT $45 call (JJC1122J45) Entry $0.75

- or -

Long DEC $45 call (JJC1117L45) Entry $2.00

Entry on September 26 at $41.92
Earnings Date --/--/--
Average Daily Volume = 267 thousand
Listed on September 24, 2011


ishares Silver ETF - SLV - close: 29.77 change: -0.21

Stop Loss: 27.25
Target(s): 34.50, 37.75
Current Option Gain/Loss: Nov$32: +49.2% & Jan$35: +24.0%
Time Frame: 6 to 9 weeks
New Positions: see below

Comments:
09/26 update: Our SLV trade is off to a great start. I warned readers that the SLV could see a sell-off on Monday morning as investors react to the official margin hike news. Right on cue the SLV rebounded intraday. We were fortunate that the SLV did not hit our stop loss. Shares opened at $27.51, hit $27.41 at its lows, and then surged +8.65 to close near the $30 level on strong volume.

If you missed the entry point this morning I would still consider new positions now.

Earlier Comments:
Our targets are $34.50 and $37.75. We might consider a higher target for the January calls. Keep in mind that the 200-dma and the $38.00 level could be new resistance.

- Suggested Positions - (Small Positions)

Long NOV $32 call (SLV1119K32) Entry $1.36

- or -

Long 2012 Jan $35 call (SLV1221A35) Entry $1.58

Entry on September 26 at $27.51
Earnings Date --/--/--
Average Daily Volume = 24.4 million
Listed on September 22, 2011


Whole Foods Market - WFM - close: 71.57 change: +3.37

Stop Loss: 65.90
Target(s): 73.00, 77.50
Current Option Gain/Loss: OCT$70: +28.9% & NOV$72.50: +21.9%
Time Frame: 3 to 4 weeks
New Positions: see below

Comments:
09/26 update: WFM is off to a strong start. Our trade was opened this morning when WFM gapped higher at $69.10. Shares did fill the gap with a dip back to $67.73 before charging higher and closing up +4.9%. If there was something to complain about it would be the lack of volume on the rally. Technically the close over $70.00 is bullish.

Please note our new stop loss at $65.90.

- Suggested Positions - (Small Positions)

Long OCT $70 call (WFM1122J70) Entry $3.18

- or -

Long NOV $72.50 call (WFM1119K72.5) Entry $4.10

09/26 new stop loss @ 65.90

Entry on September 26 at $69.10
Earnings Date 11/02/11 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 2.2 million
Listed on September 22, 2011


Watson Pharmaceuticals - WPI - close: 71.36 change: +0.66

Stop Loss: 66.95
Target(s): 74.75, 78.50
Current Option Gain/Loss: Oct$75: - 5.0% & NOV$75: - 9.5%
Time Frame: 3 to 6 weeks
New Positions: see below

Comments:
09/26 update: Our new trade in WPI is open. Shares gapped higher at $71.26, filled the gap with a dip back to $70.30, and then rallied back toward its highs for the day. I would still consider new positions now. We have a stop loss at $66.95. More conservative traders may want to use a stop closer to $68.00 instead.

- Suggested Positions -

Long OCT $75 call (WPI1122J75) Entry $1.00

- or -

Long NOV $75 call (WPI1119K75) Entry $2.10

Entry on September 26 at $71.26
Earnings Date 11/01/11 (confirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 1.4 million
Listed on September 24, 2011


CLOSED BEARISH PLAYS

Stanley Black & Decker - SWK - close: 51.80 change: +1.27

Stop Loss: 51.25
Target(s): 50.25, 46.00
Current Option Gain/Loss: Oct$50: + 39.4%, & Oct$55: +38.4%
Time Frame: 3 to 4 weeks
New Positions: see below

Comments:
09/26 update: The stock market's widespread bounce on Monday fueled more short covering in SWK. The stock gapped open at $51.16 and quickly hit our stop loss at $51.25 in the first few minutes of trading.

- Suggested Positions -

OCT $50 put (SWK1122V50) Entry $1.90, Exit $2.65 (+39.4%)

- or -

OCT $55 put (SWK1122V55) Entry $3.90, Exit $5.40 (+38.4%)

09/26 stopped out at $51.25
09/24 new stop loss @ 51.25
09/22 new stop loss @ 52.25
09/22 1st target exceeded on gap down at $49.12
bid Oct. $50 put @ 3.12 (+64.2%)
bid Oct. $55 put @ 5.75 (+47.4%)
09/21 new stop loss @ 56.25

chart:

Entry on September 12 at $54.78
Earnings Date 10/18/11 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 1.8 million
Listed on September 10, 2011