Option Investor
Newsletter

Daily Newsletter, Saturday, 3/28/2015

Table of Contents

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

Market Wrap

No Material Bounce. Should We Worry?

by Jim Brown

Click here to email Jim Brown

The Dow narrowly avoided five consecutive days of losses that would have been the longest losing streak since March of last year. Friday's +34 point gain was a struggle and were it not for a +26 point spike in the last 20 minutes of trading it would have been a lot closer to negative territory. The spike was due to a +6% gain in Intel at 3:45 which added +13 Dow points and stimulated some late day short covering.

Market Statistics

The Dow was relatively flat with only a 28 point range from noon until 3:35 and was hugging the flat line with about a 5 point gain. News broke that Intel (INTC) may be in talks to acquire Altera (ALTR) and both stocks shot higher along with the entire semiconductor sector. The semiconductor ETF (SMH) rallied +3.2% in the last 15 minutes of trading. The semiconductor ETF spiked because Intel is 17% of the SMH. The semiconductor sector declined -5% for the week despite the +2.8% gain on Friday. Altera rallied +28% and increased its market cap from $10.4 billion to $13 billion in a period of about 15 minutes. Neither company would comment about the rumor. The news at the close on a lackluster Friday helped the Dow avoid that fifth day of losses.



The morning economic reports depressed the markets with the final revision of the Q4-GDP missing estimates at +2.22% growth. This compares to the prior revision at +2.19% but well under the consensus forecast of +2.4% growth and +4.97% in Q3. The current Atlanta Fed forecast for Q1 GDP growth is only +0.2%, which is better than the -2.11% decline in Q4-2013 but still weak.

The consumer was the main driver of the Q4 gains with consumption rising +2.98% compared to +2.21% in Q3. Exports produced a -1.03% drag thanks to the strong dollar, inventories -0.10% and government spending added a -0.35% decline. Fixed investment spending added +0.72%. The Personal Consumption Expenditures index (PCE) showed deflation of -0.4% in Q4 compared to +1.2% inflation in Q3. Corporate profits declined -1.4% after a +3.1% rise in Q3.


The Atlanta Fed GDPNow forecast is dropping fast. As of march 25th it declined to forecast only +0.2% GDP growth in Q1. The consensus analyst forecast is +2.4% so there is still a lot of denial in the analyst community but the consensus is declining. Everyone is blaming the weather for the weak economy but that remains to be seen. Atlanta Fed Link


The regional and state employment report for February showed payrolls increased in 36 states, declined in 13 states and were unchanged in Wyoming. California, New York and Georgia posted the biggest gains and Connecticut, West Virginia and Rhode Island. Washington DC and Nevada had the highest unemployment and Nebraska the lowest. The report was a lagging report for February and was ignored.

The final reading for Consumer sentiment for March rose slightly from the original release of 91.2 to 93.0 but it was still down from the 95.4 in February and 98.1 in January. The present conditions component declined from 106.9 to 105.0 and the expectations component declined from 88.0 to 85.3.

Forty-four percent of survey respondents said their personal finances were better off than in March 2014 with 27% saying they were worse off. More than 49% felt their finances would not change in 2015 but the other 51% thought their incomes would rise later this year.


An indicator I don't mention much is the Weekly Leading Index. The index rose slightly from 131.2 to 131.6 but that is not the key point. The smoothed annual growth rate derived from the index is anticipating a -3.2% economic decline. The growth rate has been in decline for 23 consecutive weeks. However, it has improved from the -4.6% decline rate in the February 27th report. This suggests conditions are beginning to improve but they have a long way to go.

The economic calendar for next week is heavily weighted to Fed speakers. Now that the FOMC meeting is behind them and the quiet period has expired they are free to find a microphone and state their economic outlooks and the chances for a rate hike. For what should be a low volume trading week this produces a minefield of Fedspeak.

The three biggest reports for the week are the ADP Employment, Nonfarm Payrolls and the ISM Manufacturing. The other reports in green are of interest but rarely move the market unless they miss estimates badly.

There is a smattering of earnings but nobody that is likely to move the market if they miss estimates. Their stock will be crushed in the low volume but there should be little collateral damage.


Just before the bell on Friday Janet Yellen spoke in San Francisco and her remarks weighed on the markets in parts and lifted the market in others. Overall there was little impact but there may be a delayed reaction next week. She was still speaking at the close.

I am going to list the high points of the speech in short form rather than type it out.

"I expect that conditions may warrant an increase in the federal funds rate target sometime this year."

"What matters for financial conditions and the broader economy is the entire expected path of short-term interest rates and not the precise timing of the first rate increase."

"The return of the federal funds rate to a more normal level is likely to be gradual." And, "There will be no predetermined course of tightening."

"The actual path of policy will evolve as economic conditions evolve, and policy tightening could speed up, slow down, pause, or even reverse course depending on actual and expected developments in real activity and inflation."

She warned the Fed wanted to avoid the fate of central banks in Japan and Sweden that tightened too soon in their recoveries, resulting in disinflation and "appreciable economic costs."

The Fed "does not need to see an increase in core inflation BEFORE hiking rates." That sentence is the one that could have a delayed reaction on Monday. However, she later followed with this. "A significant pickup in incoming readings on core inflation will not be a precondition for me to judge that an initial increase in the federal funds rate would be warranted." She wants to have it both ways by saying she may or may not raise rates based on inflation.

However, she said the Fed "would be unlikely to raise rates if wage growth and inflation continued to decline."

"The economy is still weak by historical standards." And, "At this level of accommodation the economy should be booming." She was referring to a zero interest rate for more than six years and the lack of a strong rebound as seen in prior recessions.

”Dollar appreciation appears to be restraining net exports, low oil prices are prompting a cutback in drilling activity, and the recovery in residential construction remains subdued."

Progress on meeting our inflation goal is "noticeably absent." The weakness in inflation "likely reflects continuing slack" in labor markets.

The bottom line is that she wanted to make sure the market understood the Fed can now raise rates at any time but they are not obligated to raise rates based on the data. I know that sounds contrary to their supposed "data dependent" stance but it is all about flexibility. The Fed wants to inject some volatility into the bond market so rates will rise, or at least not go down. As long as investors are worried the Fed could raise rates the treasury yields will not go down materially. This is known as "talking up the rates."

The fear of the Fed has caused the biggest exodus of funds from the equity markets since 2009. So far this year $44 billion has flowed out of U.S. stock funds according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch. At the same time European funds have seen inflows of $46.6 billion and Japan $10.5 billion.

The driving force behind these moves is the strong dollar, weak euro and European and Japanese QE. Buy when euro denominated equities are low and the dollar is high. You get more bang for your buck and when the euro finally rallies and your investments will be worth more. At the same time the ECB QE is driving down interest rates into negative territory and that forces new money to flow into equities instead of bonds.

Most analysts believe the rush to European equities is about over. One of the most popular vehicles is the WisdomTree Europe Hedged Equity ETF (HEDJ). The ETF has risen +75% since the low in 2011 with an +18% spike in just the last three months. The herd has stampeded into Europe and now the rally is getting tired.


Investors are also leaving U.S. equities because earnings are crashing. S&P is now predicting a -5.6% decline in earnings for Q1. If that number holds it will be the first earnings decline since Q3-2012. Earnings are expected to decline -4.0% for Q2 and -0.8% for Q3. Since December 31st the estimate for Q1 earnings has fallen -8.2% and the biggest drop since Q1-2009.

Chart from Sam Stoval at S&P Capital IQ

For the full year the estimates are for a minor gain of +1.8% and a revenue decline of -3%. Of all the S&P-500 companies providing guidance for Q1, 84% have been negative.

This is even worse than the 81% in Q1 of 2014 when the Polar Vortex caused GDP to decline more than -2%. It is also well above the five-year average of 68% according to FactSet. Companies are blaming the strong dollar this year rather than the weather.

This potential profit recession or two quarters of declining earnings, with the markets at historical highs, is causing many investors to rethink their investment decisions. I have said many times that eventually fundamentals will matter and there is a good possibility we are approaching that point.

It is not that stocks are specifically overvalued. It is just that a continued price rise with declining earnings will make them overvalued. If a stock is earning $3.50 a year with a price of $50 that would be a PE of roughly 15. If the earnings declined to $2.50 that same PE would require that stock to decline to $37. If the stock did not go down the PE would then be calculated at 20 and would be seen by many as overvalued. With the markets hitting new highs a week ago stock prices were rising while earnings were declining. This means PE ratios were accelerating higher as fundamentals declined. This is a recipe for a correction. According to S&P the PE for the S&P-500 is now 19 and a five-year high.

I am not calling for a correction. I am only pointing out why some investors are raising cash to either seek safety on the sidelines, park it in treasuries or buy overseas equities.

The dip buyers were noticeably absent last week. The Dow lost more than -414 points and there was no material rebound. For any market watcher this should be troubling. The Dow closed just over support and the S&P closed right on the support of the 100-day average. When there is no material rebound after a big plunge it normally means there is more to come. However, with Yellen speaking at the close and Saudi Arabia and others bombing and planning on invading Iran backed Yemen I could see why dip buyers may have wanted to wait until Monday.

Stock news was fairly muted with most companies entering the quiet period ahead of earnings. Dow Chemical (DOW) said it was spinning off its chlorine business and merging it with Olin Corp (OLN), which will result in Dow shareholders owning 50.5% of Olin. The deal is valued at $5 billion. The new entity will have expected revenues of $7 billion. Shares of Olin spiked +14% on the news. DOW shares rallied +3%.


Carnival Corp (CCL) rallied +6% after posting adjusted earnings of 20 cents on revenues of $3.5 billion. Carnival said advance bookings for the rest of 2015 were ahead of the prior year and at higher prices. The company expects revenue to increase 3-4% in 2015 and 6.5-7.5% in Q2 alone. "We are experiencing an ongoing improvement in underlying fundamentals based on our successful initiatives to drive demand. We are also seeing results from our ongoing public relations efforts and creative marketing campaign designed to attract new customers to cruise." Their Super Bowl ad has exceeded 10 billion views to date.

However, unfavorable currency exchange rates reduced full year earnings expectations by $219 million or 28 cents per share. Carnival expects outbound cruise passengers from China to exceed one million for the first time and the company expects to book close to 50% of those passengers. Royal Caribbean (RCL) will get the rest. Carnival and Royal Caribbean are both adding ships and ports in China.


RBC Bearings (ROLL) signed a deal with Dover Corporation (DOV) to acquire the Sargent Aerospace & Defense business for $500 million. The acquisition will be financed with cash and senior notes and will close in Q1-2016. Sargent engineers specialized products for aircraft engines, airframes, rotorcraft, submarines and land vehicles. The company has revenues of $195 million. This is a big deal for RBC because it will add 25-35 cents to RBC earnings in the first year. Shares rolled to a +21% gain.


Shares of BioMarin Pharmaceuticals (BMRN) rallied +11% to $129 after Deutsche Bank said shares could move to $300 over the next year. The analyst said BioMarin had several promising drugs in the pipeline dealing with Hemophilia, muscular dystrophy, Pompe and Batten disease. The analyst said successful drug trials would put BioMarin into the sights of several larger companies that would want to add those drugs to their inventory. The analyst said in a "blue-sky" scenario where all the drugs were successful a merger valuation of $308 to $418 was possible. According to DB, "We believe that not everything in the pipeline needs to be successful to command an M&A premium."


Oxford Industries (OXM), owner of the Tommy Bahama, Lilly Pulitzer, Ben Sherman and Lanier Clothes brands posted earnings of $1.08 compared to estimates for $1.04. Revenue of $274.5 million matched forecasts. Shares spiked +19% because they raised guidance for the current quarter to earnings of $1.15-$1.25 when analysts were expecting only $1.02. Apparently business is booming.


The biotech sector had been under pressure for the last week with sharp declines in all the favorites in the sector. The biotechs declined -4.89% for the week even after the +2% rise on Friday. However, the 50-day average provided support once again and Friday saw significant short covering with the sector rising +2%. That was a perfect entry point for a speculative play. We launched a long position on the BBH in Ultimate Investor at the open on Friday. Whether that play will be a winner remains to be seen since one day does not make a trend.


The Dow transports also declined -4.89% for the week and with oil prices rising the odds are good they will decline some more. The support at 8600 is solid but probably doomed to fail. The slowing economy and rising fuel prices are going to be a serious headwind. The railroads are suddenly suffering from a huge surplus of railcars previously used to transport frac sand, well pipe and coal. You know about the decline in activity in the energy sector but the coal sector is also in a bear market. Arbitrary EPA rules are shutting down a significant number of coal fired electric generation plants and coal shipments are shrinking fast. The only transport sector prospering today is the airlines thanks to reduced capacity and rising prices.

The U.S. package delivery services index is at a six-month low with UPS and FDX leading the decline. Blame this on higher fuel prices and lower off season package shipments. Both carriers warned in January that shipments were down and the strong dollar was a problem.

The transportation sector has long been considered a leading indicator of economic activity. The Bureau of Transportation Statistics in the Dept of Transportation did a study showing over the last three decades a decline in the Dow Transports "led slowdowns in the economy by an average of 4-5 months." LINK HERE





Crude prices rebounded +4.3% for the week but that was after a -5.8% decline on Friday alone. At one point crude prices were up +9% for the week. Friday was profit taking after a strong run. The coalition headed by Saudi Arabia that is bombing and planning on invading Yemen caused a brief spike on worries that rebels would try and attack Saudi oil installations in retaliation or possibly close down the Bab-el-Mandeb strait between the Arabian Peninsula and Djibouti on the Horn of Africa. The name means Gateway of Anguish and 3.82 mbpd of crude oil flows through the 20 mile wide strait headed for the Mediterranean through the Suez Canal. However, cooler heads prevailed and the potential for rebels to actually close the strait is considered very unlikely. The bigger risk is that rebels would try to strike back against Saudi Arabia by attacking their oil facilities. However, those are also heavily guarded and with Saudi Arabia on a war footing I am sure they are even more secure.



Baker Hughes said active rigs declined only -21 last week to 1,048. That is the smallest decline in the last 16 weeks and suggests the worst may be over for the drilling sector. However, the oil majors have all projected active rigs cuts in their capex plans through July so I doubt there will be any rigs added at least until Q3 or even later. It all depends on oil prices and inventories. Currently there are 813 active oil rigs and 233 active gas rigs.

In 2008/2009 the rig count declined 18 consecutive weeks and fell -57% over a 41 week period. The current 16 week decline is the biggest in 30 years.

The U.S. added another 8.2 million barrels to raise inventories to 466.7 million and a new record. That is an increase of 84.2 million barrels or +22% in the last 11 weeks. Cushing Oklahoma, the delivery point for crude futures saw a gain of 1.9 million to 56.3 million barrels and also a new record. That puts Cushing at 80% of capacity and a level that is normally the maximum allowed in order to retain operational capability. Next week's inventory report will be interesting to see if they accepted more oil.


Markets

The S&P dropped below its 100-day average on Thursday and Friday but returned both days to close right on that support level. However, the lack of any material rebound on Friday suggests the average will fail and we could retest the 2040 support from mid March. The 150-day average is now 2028 and would be decent support if that 2040 level cracks. The worst case scenario would be a decline to the 1985 level and support from January. This would represent a significant breakdown from the March highs and a -6.2% decline from the 2117 high.

We have not had a 10% decline since 2011 and 3-5% declines have been common. While last week's decline may have seemed harsh we only declined -2.2% from the 2108 close on the prior Friday. That is only a minor dip in the overall market picture. As long as you are using stop losses and raising them on every move higher that is an acceptable loss. For the prior several weeks I warned repeatedly that the week after option expiration in March was typically negative. History did repeat itself and the average decline of -1.6% was only slightly exceeded.

At this point we should be very focused on the 2050-2040 level as an indicator of a larger decline in progress. In the current environment there is a good chance 2040 will be tested. That would be a speculative buy on any rebound from that level. Any further decline would be a shorting opportunity with a target of 1985-2000.


Apple (AAPL) appears to have fallen victim to the Dow curse. Tech stocks added to the Dow tend to decline over the next several weeks and Apple is on the verge of a two-month low. Apple ignored Friday's tech rally to give back another buck to close at $123.24. The natural target is the 100-day average at $117.


The Dow dipped to the March lows on Thursday but recovered to close above the 17,620 level from mid March. Friday's low was 17,630 so that support is still in play. The lack of any meaningful rebound on Friday suggests there may be more weakness ahead. If that level breaks I would expect to see support from January at 17,130 tested. This is not a bullish chart with a lower high and lower low even though the low was only intraday. The 100-day average has failed but the Dow is not normally reactive to averages.



The Nasdaq Composite is the only slightly bullish chart in the big cap group. The Nasdaq dipped to support at 4850 and immediately rebounded. This is a much higher level of support than the Dow and S&P are currently testing. You can thank the biotech sector for the rebound. As long as that 4850 level holds the other major averages should not decline much further. If the Nasdaq cracks I would expect downward acceleration on the Dow and S&P.

It was amazing to see the Nasdaq post a gain of +27 points on Friday with the number of big caps like Google in the losers list below.



The Russell 2000 imploded on Wednesday but recovered somewhat on Friday. The 1250 level is now resistance and 1230 is support. The small caps should continue to show relative strength as long as the dollar remains strong. If we see the Russell start to crumble we should head to the exits because the underlying story has changed.


Ok, the week after expiration is over and the next two days are the end of the month and quarter. Fund managers may have some extra cash to put back into the market but the key question is will they do it? With earnings plunging and declining economic strength the fundamentals don't support a bullish scenario. While that has not stopped many bull markets in the past the fundamentals will eventually matter. Once the herd turns bearish it could take a long time to resurrect the rally.

The percentage of stocks trading under their 200-day average has declined to 66.2% and on the verge of a two month low. This is important because it means market breadth is declining. The market was rising on fewer and fewer stocks and we may be quickly running out of leaders.


I would continue to be cautious this low volume, holiday shortened week. Wait for a clear buying opportunity and be conscious of the internals.

Random Thoughts

The Atlanta Fed may be projecting Q1 GDP of +0.2% but blue chip advisors are still in denial but they are starting to trim forecasts. Morgan Stanley cut their estimates from 1.2% to 0.9%. Barclays dropped their forecast from 1.3% to 1.2%. Macroeconomic Advisers cut their estimate from 1.5% to 1.2%. Goldman cut their forecast from 2.0% to 1.8%. JP Morgan whacked their estimates from 2.0% to 1.5% saying a decline in investment by oil companies could offset the benefits of higher consumer spending. (I said that nearly two months ago.)

Core business spending in this chart from the Fed is at the lowest point since March 2014 and is accelerating to the downside.



I didn't get the memo! Standard Chartered Plc analyst Paul Horsnell is predicting oil prices will rise to $90 a barrel in Q4. Bank of America analyst Francisco Blanch is predicting $58. Six months ago they were only $1 apart.

Energy analysts only have one thing in common today and that is confusion. Almost everyone failed to predict the decline in crude prices that began last July and now they are scrambling around trying to feed off each other's research to try and get the next call right.

Horsnell believes production is declining faster than everyone expects and will push prices higher once demand exceeds production. Unfortunately, I think Horsnell was smoking something funny when he made that prediction. U.S. production is still setting 35 year records every week but I do expect it to decline by the end of December. I just don' think it will decline that much. We could see a 350-500,000 bpd decline because shale wells deplete very rapidly. Producers will drill about 4,500 fewer wells in Q2 after a -3,000+ well drop in Q1. However, there are well over 1,000 wells that have been drilled but not fracked and will not be completed until prices rise. There are several offshore fields with major projects that will come online later this year with the potential for 100,000-150,000 bpd in new production.

Long term as in 12-18 months this will reduce U.S. production but we are only part of the problem. Every country on earth that produces oil is currently trying to maximize production in order to offset the lower prices. That is not going to stop. If Iran agrees to a nuclear deal there is widespread belief that they will immediately begin producing more oil even if the sanctions don't allow it. They will basically dare the U.S. to interfere.

Libya is going to get its rebel problem under control and they have 1.0 mbpd offline and ready to go to market once a truce is reached. Venezuela is signing a deal with China to provide $5 billion in capital to expand production. They can increase production very quickly if their government was not in the way. While it probably would not happen in any quantity in 2015 it would definitely appear in 2016.

I just don't see the reason for $90 oil in Q4. Demand would have to increase significantly over the normal 1.0 mbpd per year. Could it expand by 2.0 mbpd in 2015? I doubt it. With 1.5 mbpd of excess production today we are rapidly filling up storage capacity around the world. When that capacity fills up prices are going to go down.


Tax revenues for the first five months of Fiscal 2015 ending in February totaled a record $1,185,613,000,000 but the government still ran a deficit of $386,537,000,000. This is eventually going to kill us economically. Once the Fed begins to raise rates the interest on the national debt is going to rise from the current $300 billion a year to close to $1 trillion. When that happens we will be adding $1 trillion a year to the debt and it will only be a matter of time until the U.S. self destructs.

Some analysts believe the U.S. will soon issue 50 year bonds to refinance all its debt while rates are low. Considering that most of our current debt is in 2, 3, 7, 10 year increments that would be a wise plan. Once rates start higher the interest on those short term treasuries are going to explode higher. Of course the interest on a 50 year bond today would be double the rates the U.S. is currently paying so that would double the annual interest on the debt. While that is short term pain it would be long term gain as rates return to "normal" in the 4.5% range.

John Mauldin had an interesting article on debt this weekend. LINK HERE

Alan Greenspan, Fed Chairman for 19 years, warned last week that the $18.5 trillion in debt and $4 trillion in QE was going to be a disaster. He said the Fed will not be able to end the era of QE without "serious repercussions" and a "significant market event." He is predicting gold will go "measurably higher" as the dollar eventually collapses. Greenspan is saying that the dollar collapse is virtually inevitable at this point and that most Americans will be surprised and unprepared. A quadrupling of cost of living will cause rioting in the streets as people lose access to basic necessities. This will continue until the economy finds its way again.

A paper written by Joseph Sommer at the Federal Reserve specifically indicates that bank deposits are bank liabilities, which are clearly affected by a bankruptcy. Depositors are "loaning" the deposits to the banks and the banks can default on repayment in the event of a bankruptcy. When Cyprus banks had trouble a couple years ago they took customer deposits to bail them out of trouble. In Germany in July 2014 the government passed a "Bail-in Deposit Confiscation Plan." Canada is also putting laws in place to allow the confiscation of deposits to bail out the banking system. Australia, China, Italy, Japan and the UK are all preparing deposit confiscation plans.

Greek depositors have caught on to the potential for bank failures and deposit confiscation.

Bloomberg Chart

If you don't think we are heading into troubling times over the next decade you are not paying attention.


April has been the best performing month for the Dow since 1950. Over the last 20 years the Dow has posted gains 16 times with an average of +0.56%. Granted that is not much and only equates to about 90 points. The first trading day of April is the worst "post holiday" session of the year. However, the first two weeks of April are normally bullish with an average gain of +1.22%. The average gain for the first two weeks of the other 11 months is only 0.3%.

April is the end of the "best six months of the year" for the markets and May begins the "worst six months." I just call it the summer doldrums but numerous analysts have built very successful trading strategies around the best/worst six month periods. The "sell in May" strategy has a pretty good record but it is not infallible. With earnings plunging I would say we could have a head start on that worst six month period.


Since 2000 the cost of a 50 inch plasma TV has fallen from $20,000 to $550. No inflation there!


The S&P 500 has not had back-to-back gains since Feb 13-17. That's 28 straight days and the longest such streak in over 20 years. This has only happened twice since World War II. Hat tip to Eddy Elfenbein.


Since the Affordable Care Act was passed, 48 rural hospital hospitals have closed. Officials cite "declining federal reimbursements for hospitals" under the act as the principal reason for the recent closures. The law reduced payments to hospitals for uninsured patients but the hospitals still have to accept anyone that shows up for treatment.


The Fox broadcast network announced plans to bring back the X-Files with the original cast and series creator Chris Carter for a six show run with production starting later this year. The show was a cult favorite with a 9 year run that ended 13 years ago. The show won 16 Emmy Awards, five Golden Globes and a Peabody Award. David Duchovny is now 54 and Gillian Anderson is 46. The truth is out there!

 

Enter passively and exit aggressively!

Jim Brown

Send Jim an email

"The usual bull market successfully weathers a number of tests until it is considered invulnerable, whereupon it is ripe for a bust."

George Soros

 

 


Index Wrap

S&P and Nasdaq Potential Double Bottoms; RUT Rebounds First

by Leigh Stevens

Click here to email Leigh Stevens
THE BOTTOM LINE:

I thought the PRIOR (mid-March) major index lows were bottoms for various reasons, especially in the indices retracing 'nominal' 38% retracements (Nas Composite) or a common 50 per cent retracement before rebounds occurred in SPX, OEX, INDU and NDX.

That was then. Subsequent rallies then fell apart. However, potential bottoms have again formed in the area of prior lows in the S&P, Dow and Nasdaq. RUT performed most bullishly, rebounding from an up trendline and Closing back above its 21-day Average.

You'll hear talk related to Dow Theory that the Transportation Average (TRAN) is not 'confirming' the Dow Industrial Average (INDU) in a new high which is bearish. It's true that TRAN did not accompany INDU to a new monthly Closing high and that could be construed as a bear market sell 'signal'. However, it's also true that TRAN could go on to ALSO make a new Monthly Closing high over the coming few months.

TRAN does look like it's topped out for now as it's made repeated weekly highs in the same area over an 18-week time span. A TRAN weekly Close below 8580 would be bearish; until then I'm not drawing any conclusions about a possible start of a bear market. Friday's TRAN Close: 8700.

The other technical dynamic is another decline in bullish trader sentiment. Certain levels of bearishness/low bullish opinion tend to be associated with market bottoms. Stay tuned on this. In a contrary opinion sense this pattern forms the seeds of its opposite. Traders tend to be bearish at bottoms and bullish at tops. I'm not giving up on upside potential given the chart patterns seen below.

The S&P 500 Volatility Index (VIX):

The S&P 500 volatility Index fell to support in the 13 area, then rebounded. I consider VIX to be in a support zone at 12-13.

I suggested last week to buy VIX calls in the 12 area and to exit in the 16-17 area. Intraday, the VIX Index got up to 16.6 then fell back to 15.

No further recommendations. VIX looks to be in 'whip-saw' mode and a prolonged trend may not be in the cards any time soon.

The VIX DAILY chart:

MAJOR STOCK INDEX TECHNICAL COMMENTARIES

S&P 500 (SPX) DAILY CHART:

Speaking of being whip-sawed, the S&P 500 did not pierce its prior highs in the 2120 area, then saw heavy selling and buyers retreating by mid-week. This brought SPX back to the area of its prior lows; subsequent lows then formed over Thursday/Friday a bit above prior SPX bottom in the 2040 area.

Possible bullish price action not withstanding, CBOE equities put volumes increased relative to calls and pushed my CPRATIO ('sentiment') line lower into an initial bullish 'oversold' reading as noted with the green up arrow on the CPRATIO line. A personal favorite upside trend reversal 'set up' is when prices hold at or above prior lows, with traders turning more bearish.

Bullish action would be seen with a sustained move back above 2080 and the 21-day moving average. Next resistance is highlighted at 2100. Next up resistance wise are prior highs around 2120.

Support/buying interest in SPX looks like it would develop on pullbacks into the 2040-2033 zone. Fairly major support begins at 2020, extending to 2000-1980.

S&P 100 (OEX) INDEX; DAILY CHART

The S&P 100 (OEX) was bullish in my opinion a week ago but I also assumed the Index would hold above its 21-day moving average. NOT! When OEX retreated back below 920, heavy selling came in and buyers were scarce given the current market jitters. One of which, I consider meaningful; i.e., the trouble that manufacturers here have or could increasing have with a strong dollar.

I did well myself last time the Euro got well under a buck when I bought property in Europe then sold years later. The fact the Euro was then worth $1.30 was an added plus! I consider income derived from the UK or Europe to be a good currency 'hedge' but I worked out of London for several years and dealt with currency trading in my work so have the feel for it I suppose.

OEX resistance is seen in the 920 area with pivotal resistance at the 930-932. I should note here that 910 may offer near resistance. Near technical/chart support looks to come in at 900-898, extending to 893-890.

I anticipate OEX having upside potential from current levels but it also seems premature to suggest bullish strategies just yet given an unsettled Market, even though a potential double bottom is a potent bullish pattern.

THE DOW 30 INDUSTRIAL AVERAGE (INDU); DAILY CHART:

The Dow 30 (INDU) Average reversed lower after failing to pierce 18200 resistance. Now, NEAR resistance is highlighted in the 18000 area.

INDU also found recent support/buying interest back at its prior lows minus one brief dip to 17600. Chart support is highlighted at 17600, then at 17500.

Still bullish Dow stock patterns don't add up currently to more than about a third of the 30; i.e., stocks without the sharp retreats that others have seen over the past 1-2 weeks. Bullish longer-range uptrends remain mostly intact in: AAPL, DIS, GS, HD, JPM, MMM, NKE, PFE, TRV, UNH, and V.

I wrote last week that "technical resistance is suggested at the prior Dow intraday highs in the 18245-18288 zone. Assuming a decisive upside penetration above 18288-18300, a next advance could carry to the 18500 area which would begin fairly major resistance." A 18500 longer range upside target still looks possible but pivotal resistance is clear at 18200-18288.



NASDAQ COMPOSITE (COMP) INDEX; DAILY CHART:

The Nasdaq Composite (COMP) is mixed. While COMP rallied to a new high above 5000, this advance quickly reversed lower. The first Close below 5000 was a first warning of the sharp fall that followed. That said the decline didn't carry farther than the prior lows in the 4845 area at least not by much and only briefly.

I've noted support at 4850, extending to 4810. Overhead resistance is seen in the area of the 21-day moving average or 4950 currently. Key next resistance is again at, what else, but 5000 again. I continue to see COMP as capable of a further up leg but 5000 is a tough area to climb above for a sustained period. Some backing and filling may be ahead before another potential assault of 5000.

I'll note the same potential bullish 'contrary' influence of what I consider to be the start of extreme bearishness represented with my CPRATIO line and is highlighted with the green up arrow there; my same sentiment indicator displayed with the S&P 500 chart.

NASDAQ 100 (NDX); DAILY CHART:

The big cap Nas 100 (NDX) is mixed with a similar reason. Only in the case of the big cap Nas 100 there was not a move to a new high, but rather a potential double top. I believe this may be a temporary top but it's an important top nevertheless.

The key bullish influence in the chart is the potential second bottom made in the same area as was seen a couple of weeks prior. Assuming support in the 4300-4289 area continues to hold up, there potential for a re-test of resistance at 4400 or the area of the 21-day moving average. Next resistance then is highlighted at 4450, extending to the 4484 area.

Below 4300-4290 near support, I highlighted support at 4225 on the daily chart. But, we should consider next lower support as 4250-4225.

NDX might settle into a 4450-4290 trading range before it can bust out of this relatively tight range. A breakout could be to the downside as well as the upside, but I don't see tech selling to be that great. If AAPL saw a decisive downside penetration of 120-116, I'd believe in a possible sizable next down 'leg' ahead.

The NASDAQ 100 TRACKING STOCK (QQQ); DAILY CHART:

QQQ has the same 'mixed' pattern as the underlying NDX chart of course. A potential double bottom has set up but a move below 104-103.4 would call that into question.

Overhead resistance is at 107 and the 21-day moving average; next resistance is at 108, extending to 109-109.4

Volume picked up on the sell off but the On Balance Volume line has turned up, which might signal a turnaround but more action is needed to clarify the pattern.

I liked the buy side in QQQ stock in the 50% retracement area and still like this zone as a place to look at taking on bullish strategies. A Close below 103.4 would kick me out of any such trades however.

RUSSELL 2000 (RUT); DAILY CHART:

The Russell 2000 (RUT) pattern is bullish, notwithstanding the sell off from new highs above 1260. RUT's pullback was to an emerging up trendline and the most recent Close is back above resistance implied by the late-February highs.

The longer that RUT can trade above 1240, establishing a possible support base in this area, all looks ok for betting on some further upside in the Russell.

I've highlighted chart/technical support at 1220, with fairly major support noted in the low-1200 area. Near resistance is at 1260, extending to 1268 and next in the 1280 area.


GOOD TRADING SUCCESS!




New Option Plays

Buying The Dip In Healthcare

by James Brown

Click here to email James Brown


NEW DIRECTIONAL CALL PLAYS

Cardinal Health, Inc. - CAH - close: 90.09 change: +0.95

Stop Loss: 87.75
Target(s): To Be Determined
Current Option Gain/Loss: Unopened
Average Daily Volume = 1.7 million
Entry on March -- at $---.--
Listed on March 28, 2015
Time Frame: We might exit prior to CAH earnings
(potentially April 30th)
New Positions: Yes, see below

Company Description

Why We Like It:
The big healthcare names have shown significant relative strength over the last couple of years. That momentum has carried into 2015 and shares of CAH are outperforming the broader market with a +11% gain year to date.

You might have heard about CAH recently since the company made headlines in early March. Here's a brief description of the company, "Headquartered in Dublin, Ohio, Cardinal Health, Inc. (CAH) is a $91 billion health care services company that improves the cost-effectiveness of health care. As the business behind health care, Cardinal Health helps pharmacies, hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, clinical laboratories and physician offices focus on patient care while reducing costs, enhancing efficiency and improving quality. Cardinal Health is an essential link in the health care supply chain, providing pharmaceuticals and medical products and services to more than 100,000 locations each day and is also the industry-leading direct-to-home medical supplies distributor. The company is a leading manufacturer of medical and surgical products, including gloves, surgical apparel and fluid management products. In addition, the company operates the nation's largest network of radiopharmacies that dispense products to aid in the early diagnosis and treatment of disease."

Management has been doing a good job with the earnings game. The last three quarters in a row have seen CAH beat Wall Street estimates on both the top and bottom line. Their next report should be the end of April.

On March 2, 2015 CAH made the news with their $2 billion acquisition of Cordis. Here's an except from the company's press release:

Cardinal Health today announced plans to acquire Johnson & Johnson's Cordis business, a leading global manufacturer of cardiology and endovascular devices, for $1.944 billion in cash, or approximately $1.594 billion, net of the present value of tax benefits. The acquisition is expected to be financed with a combination of $1.0 billion in new senior unsecured notes and the remainder with existing cash. The transaction is expected to close in the United States and key non-U.S. countries towards the end of calendar 2015.
CAH is forecasting this acquisition will add more than $0.20 per share to the company's 2017 earnings. They expect synergies to be more than $100 million by the end of fiscal 2018.

CAH's chairman and CEO, George Barrett, commented on the acquisition,

"We are extremely excited about the acquisition of Cordis. This is a significant step forward in our cardiovascular strategy. Cordis brings with it a long and proud legacy of cardiovascular innovation. This move highlights our commitment to address a major pain point in healthcare systems through innovative new approaches to the management of physician preference items. This acquisition follows a sequence of strategic moves for Cardinal Health in the areas of cardiology, wound management and orthopedics. We are well-positioned to help customers standardize around mature medical devices, while bringing them innovative solutions around supply chain management, inventory optimization, and work flow tools and data to support the most effective management of the patient...

With an aging population and the accompanying demand for less invasive medical treatments, health systems around the world are searching for the best way to bring quality care to their patients in the most cost-effective way. The acquisition of Cordis reinforces our strategic position to address this need and strengthens an important growth driver in the Cardinal Health portfolio."

Moody's Investors Service, a credit rating agency, commented on the deal and said it would be credit positive for CAH. Meanwhile a couple of analyst firms upgraded their price targets on CAH following the story with new targets at $105 and $107.

Technically shares of CAH have been trading in a bullish pattern of higher lows and higher highs. Investors just bought the dip at $88.00 near its trend line of support. We want to hop on board and tonight we are suggesting a trigger to buy calls at $90.55.

Trigger @ $90.55

- Suggested Positions -

Buy the MAY $90 CALL (CAH150515C90) current ask $2.50
option price is a current quote and not a suggested entry price.

Entry disclaimer: To avoid an unfavorable entry point, we will not launch a new play if the stock gaps open more than $1.00 past our suggested entry point.

Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike

Daily Chart:



In Play Updates and Reviews

Stocks Bounce Into The Weekend

by James Brown

Click here to email James Brown

Editor's Note:

After a rough week for equities the U.S. market bounced on Friday. All the major indices closed in positive territory. Bonds rallied too while commodities posted declines.

IWM and JACK both hit our entry triggers.


Current Portfolio:


CALL Play Updates

iShares Russell 2000 ETF - IWM - close: 123.10 change: +0.78

Stop Loss: 119.65
Target(s): To Be Determined
Current Option Gain/Loss: -0.5%
Average Daily Volume = 32.7 million
Entry on March 27 at $123.05
Listed on March 26, 2015
Time Frame: Exit prior to May option expiration
New Positions: see below

Comments:
03/27/15: Right on cue we got a bounce in the IWM. Traders were slowly buying the dips all day long on Friday. However, it wasn't until right near the close that shares broke out above the $123.00 level and hit our entry trigger at $123.05. I would consider new positions at current levels.

Trade Description: March 26, 2015:
The IWM is the exchange traded fund (ETF) that mimics the small cap Russell 2000 index ($RUT). Last year we saw the Russell 2000 underperform its large cap rivals. The S&P 500 delivered a +11.5% gain in 2014 while the $RUT only rose +3.6%. The situation has changed this year. As of last week's high the $RUT was up +5.3% compared to a +2.3% gain in the S&P 500.

Investors have been drawn to small cap companies because they will endure the impact of a strong dollar better than the large caps. Many of the large cap S&P 500 companies are big multi-national firms. Almost 50% of revenues for S&P 500 components are overseas. Yet only 20% of revenues for Russell 2000 companies are outside the U.S. At the same time the U.S. economy, while growing slowly, is still growing faster than Europe.

Technically the IWM was holding up pretty well until Wednesday's market-wide plunge. Traders bought the dip today near its trend of higher lows. The point & figure chart for the IWM is still bullish and forecasting a long-term target of $154.00. We think stocks could see a bounce soon and the IWM could be a great way to play it. Tonight we are suggesting a trigger to buy calls at $123.05. We'll start this trade with a stop at $119.65.

- Suggested Positions -

Long MAY $125 CALL (IWM150515C125) entry $1.94

03/27/15 triggered @ 123.05
Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike

chart:


Jack in the Box, Inc. - JACK - close: 96.31 change: +1.06

Stop Loss: 93.85
Target(s): To Be Determined
Current Option Gain/Loss: -8.8%
Average Daily Volume = 616 thousand
Entry on March 27 at $96.25
Listed on March 24, 2015
Time Frame: 8 to 12 weeks
New Positions: see below

Comments:
03/27/15: The market's bounce on Friday allowed JACK to rebound as well. Shares hit our new entry trigger at $96.25. I would still consider new positions now but readers might want to wait for a rally past $96.75 before initiating positions.

Trade Description: March 24, 2015:
It's a burger-eat-burger world out there in the fast-food business. Jack in the Box is small fries compared to its larger rivals like McDonalds (36,258 locations) and Wendy's (6,515 locations). Let's not forget heavy weights like Taco Bell, Burger King, Subway, Dairy Queen, and a handful of pizza chains. JACK only has about 2,200 restaurants but it also has a secret weapon and that is the Qdoba Mexican Grill restaurant with about 600 locations. Chipotle Mexican Grill has almost 1,800 locations.

Some of that intense competition being felt by McDonalds and Chipotle Mexican Grill is coming from Jack in the Box and its Qdoba brand, which is growing sharply. A majority of their Qdoba franchisees own multiple stores with 10, 20 even 40 stores common. Enterprising business owners don't open additional stores if the original stores are not working. To have so many owners with high numbers of stores suggests the franchise is consistently profitable.

To be profitable they need solid customer traffic, good food and decent margins. Shares of JACK have been one of the best performers on the S&P over the last year because the company has been posting solid earnings and growth.

With analysts cutting earnings estimates for McDonalds and Chipotle because of competition in the sector it makes sense to look at what has happened at JACK. Over the last quarter and the last year not a single analyst has lowered their earnings estimates for JACK. According to Zacks there has been a noticeable trend of raising estimates. JACK is expected to grow +16% to +20% this year and in 2016. JACK has beaten earnings by an average of 6% over the last four quarters.

Because of the drop in gasoline prices consumers have more money in their pocket. Some of that money is going to end up in the cash registers at these fast food outlets. Customers are also trending towards healthier foods and away from the mass produced burgers and fries at McDonalds. Did you know there are 19 ingredients in McDonalds fries? Surely you didn't think they were just potatoes and grease? Restaurants like JACK and Chipotle are capitalizing on the healthy food craze. JACK store sales rose an average of 5.7% over the last three quarters but Qdoba sales rose +13% for the year and +7.7% in Q4. Zacks rates JACK as a strong buy.

The company plans to open 15 new Jack in the Box stores in 2015. They're also cashing in on Qdoba's success and planning to open 50 to 60 new Qdoba locations. That compares to just 12 new Jacks and 38 new Qdobas in 2014.

It's also worth noting that JACK has an active share buyback program and they reduced the share count by 10% over the last four quarters. Earnings growth rose +20% in Q3 after three years of consecutive earnings growth of more than 30%.

JACK's most recent earnings report was February 17th, when they reported their 2015 Q1 results. Analysts were expecting a profit of $0.87 a share on revenues of $461.2 million. JACK delivered earnings of $0.93 a share. That's a +24% improvement from a year ago. Revenues were up +4.1% to $468.6 million, above estimates. Their operating margins improved 1% to 19.3%.

Management expects same-store sales at Jack in the Box to surge from +0.9% a year ago to +5% to +7% in Q2. Qdoba same-store sales are forecasted to be in the +7% to +9% range. The company raised full-year 2015 guidance to $2.85-2.97 a share compared to Wall Street estimates of $2.84.

Shares of JACK surged on the earnings news and bullish guidance. Since the report that has been almost no profit taking. Now, after more than four weeks of consolidation, the stock looks poised to breakout past major, psychological resistance at the $100.00 mark. Tonight we're suggesting a trigger to buy calls at $100.25.

- Suggested Positions -

Long JUN $100 CALL (JACK150619C100) entry $3.40

03/27/15 triggered @ 96.25
03/26/15 strategy update: Move the entry trigger from $100.25 to $96.25, move the stop loss from $95.75 to $93.85
We will adjust the option strike to the 2015 June $100 call
Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike

chart:


Lennox International - LII - close: 110.52 change: +1.05

Stop Loss: 106.75
Target(s): To Be Determined
Current Option Gain/Loss: -25.5%
Average Daily Volume = 417 thousand
Entry on March 23 at $110.96
Listed on March 19, 2015
Time Frame: 8 to 12 weeks
New Positions: see below

Comments:
03/27/15: LII held up very well during the market's recent pullback. Shares continue to trade with a bullish trend of higher lows. The stock displayed relative strength on Friday with a +0.95% gain. I would be tempted to buy calls on this bounce.

Trade Description: March 19, 2015:
LII has been in business for over one hundred years. Lennox Intl. is part of the industrial goods sector. They offer residential cooling and heating products as well as commercial cooling and heating equipment. They are considered a global leader in the heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration markets. The residential business generates just over half of their annual sales.

The last couple of quarters have seen steady growth for LII. You can see the big gap higher in the stock price back in October 2014. That was a reaction to its Q3 earnings results. Their most recent report was February 2nd, 2015 where LII delivered its Q4 results.

Analysts were expecting a profit of $0.99 a share on revenues of $790 million. LII reported earnings per shares grew +32% to $1.02. Revenues were up +8.4% to $812.8 million, led by +13% sales growth in their residential segment.

Chairman and CEO Todd Bluedorn commented on his company's results,

"2014 was a year of strong growth and record profitability for Lennox International, led by 10% revenue growth at constant currency and 31% profit growth in our Residential business. In the fourth quarter, the company's momentum continued, with revenue up 10% at constant currency and total segment profit up 24%. Growth in the quarter continued to be led by Residential, with revenue up 14% at constant currency and profit up 57% from the prior-year quarter. In Commercial, revenue rose 8% at constant currency. Commercial profit was essentially flat with the prior-year quarter on headwinds from customer mix, foreign exchange, and investments related to our entrance in the VRF market. In Refrigeration, revenue was up 8% at constant currency. As expected, Refrigeration profit was down from the prior-year quarter by 45% due to the repeal of the carbon tax in Australia, North America product mix, and a negative impact from foreign exchange. We continue to expect Refrigeration revenue, margin and profit to be up in 2015 on continued growth in North America and improvement in Australia in the second half of the year. For the company overall in 2015, we expect another strong year of growth and record profitability, with strong cash generation for investments to drive growth as well as to return cash to shareholders."
Last year LII earnings rose more than +20% to $4.23 a share. They are forecasting $5.20-5.60 per shares in 2015 (+22.9% to +32.3%) versus Wall Street estimates of $5.42 per share.

Shares have been a steady performer the last few months with a bullish trend of higher lows and higher highs. The point & figure chart is bullish with a $140 target. Today shares of LII are hovering just below round-number resistance at $110. We are suggesting a trigger to buy calls at $110.25.

- Suggested Positions -

Long JUN $115 CALL (LII150619C115) entry $2.55

03/23/15 triggered on gap open at $110.96, suggested entry was $110.25
Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike

chart:


Nike, Inc. - NKE - close: 99.88 change: +0.55

Stop Loss: 97.40
Target(s): To Be Determined
Current Option Gain/Loss: Unopened
Average Daily Volume = 3.6 million
Entry on March -- at $---.--
Listed on March 26, 2015
Time Frame: 8 to 12 weeks
New Positions: Yes, see below

Comments:
03/27/15: Shares of NKE bounced on Friday, right on scheduled. However, the rebound stalled near round-number resistance at the $100.00 level. Our suggested entry point to buy calls is at $100.25. If the rally continues on Monday we should be triggered.

Trade Description: March 26, 2015:
In the athletic footwear and apparel industry Nike is the 800-pound gorilla with annual sales of more than $30 billion. According to the company, "NIKE, Inc., based near Beaverton, Oregon, is the world’s leading designer, marketer and distributor of authentic athletic footwear, apparel, equipment and accessories for a wide variety of sports and fitness activities. Wholly-owned NIKE, Inc. subsidiaries include Converse Inc., which designs, markets and distributes athletic lifestyle footwear, apparel and accessories, and Hurley International LLC, which designs, markets and distributes surf and youth lifestyle footwear, apparel and accessories."

The company's most recent earnings report was March 19th, after the closing bell. NKE reported its Q3 2015 results. Analysts were expecting a profit of $0.84 a share on revenues of $7.62 billion. NKE delivered a profit of +0.89 a share or +16% from a year ago. Revenues were up +7% to $7.46 billion. However, if you back out the currency headwinds, their revenues were up +13%.

The company reported sales growth across every geographical region. Their gross margins improved 140 basis points to 45.9 percent. Management said their online sales are soaring. Nike.com saw its revenues jump +42% last quarter.

The current quarter is NKE's 2015 Q4 (March-July) and the company said orders for Q4 in North America are up +15%, which is above analysts' estimates of +11.6%. Orders from China are up +11%, also above estimates. In the company's earnings release NKE said, "As of the end of the quarter, worldwide futures orders for NIKE Brand athletic footwear and apparel scheduled for delivery from March 2015 through July 2015 were 2 percent higher than orders reported for the same period last year. Excluding currency changes, reported orders would have increased 11 percent."

One big concern is the U.S. dollar. Sales in Europe were up +21% but when you factor in euro weakness and dollar strength that sales growth drops to +10%. The strength in the U.S. dollar is a major headwind but after NKE's Q3 results Wall Street feels that the company is managing the currency impact very well. The company is forecasting low double digit sales growth in the current quarter.

Wall Street applauded the results and shares of NKE gapped open higher on March 20th to hit all-time highs. There was a parade of bullish analyst comments. Several firms raised their price target on NKE. Here's a brief list of new price target: $106, $110, $115, $116.00. The point & figure chart is more optimistic as it is forecasting at $125.00 target.

Shares of NKE have seen some profit taking, which isn't a surprise considering the market's four-day decline. However, now that NKE has filled the gap, traders bought the dip. This could be an entry point. We are suggesting a trigger to buy calls at $100.25.

Trigger @ $100.25

- Suggested Positions -

Buy the MAY $100 CALL (NKE150515C100) current ask $2.49
option price is a current quote and not a suggested entry price.

Entry disclaimer: To avoid an unfavorable entry point, we will not launch a new play if the stock gaps open more than $1.00 past our suggested entry point.

Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike

chart:




PUT Play Updates

Alkermes plc - ALKS - close: 63.33 change: +0.39

Stop Loss: 67.65
Target(s): To Be Determined
Current Option Gain/Loss: +18.6%
Average Daily Volume = 1.26 million
Entry on March 25 at $64.90
Listed on March 23, 2015
Time Frame: exit PRIOR to May option expiration
New Positions: see below

Comments:
03/27/15: Shares of ALKS saw some volatility on Friday morning after Citigroup downgraded the stock to a "neutral". Shares gapped open lower but bounced near Thursday's intraday low. Fortunately the rebound struggled at very short-term resistance near $64.00. If this bounce continues I would watch for resistance at $65.00 and a failed rally near $65.00 could be used as a new entry point.

Tonight we are adjusting the stop loss down to $67.65.

Trade Description: March 23, 2015:
Biotech stocks have been some of the market's best performers, especially off the October 2014 lows. The group may have gotten ahead of itself with significant gains in recent weeks. The last couple of days the biotech ETFs are flashing what might signal a potential top. Meanwhile one stock that has been underperforming its peers is ALKS.

You might not be familiar with ALKS. The company is part of the healthcare sector. According to their marketing materials, "Alkermes plc is a fully integrated, global biopharmaceutical company developing innovative medicines for the treatment of central nervous system (CNS) diseases. The company has a diversified commercial product portfolio and a substantial clinical pipeline of product candidates for chronic diseases that include schizophrenia, depression, addiction and multiple sclerosis. Headquartered in Dublin, Ireland, Alkermes plc has an R&D center in Waltham, Massachusetts; a research and manufacturing facility in Athlone, Ireland; and manufacturing facilities in Gainesville, Georgia and Wilmington, Ohio."

The company's most recent earnings report was February 24th. They beat expectations on both the top and bottom line. Unfortunate for shareholders management lowered their 2015 revenue guidance. Since its report shares have broken down. The stock has seen a couple of analyst downgrades (or lowered price targets). The point & figure chart has turned bearish and is currently forecasting at $54.00 target.

You can see the gap down on the earnings news. ALKS struggled to rebound and when it did traders immediately sold the stock at resistance. Now it's on the verge of breaking down bellow support near $65.00. The $60.00 level is potential support but there is a chance shares drop toward their 200-dma closer to $55. Tonight we are suggesting a trigger to buy puts at $64.90.

I want to remind readers that biotech stocks can be volatile. We should consider this a more aggressive, higher-risk trade.

- Suggested Positions -

Long MAY $60 PUT (ALKS150515P60) entry $2.15

03/28/15 new stop @ 67.65
03/25/15 triggered @ 64.90
Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike

chart: