The broad market made a 30 point gain from yesterday's close but weak oil prices took there toll leaving the market flat to negative for the day.
The broad market made a 30 point gain from yesterday's close but weak oil prices took there toll leaving the market flat to negative for the day.
The market tried to bounce from support in today's action but was just not able to hold the gains. The day started well, futures were showing a positive open and that turned out to be the case. After the open the indices moved higher, adding more than 1% to yesterday's close, only to fall back to break even by the close.
The fact that the market was able to make gains at all in today's session is a positive, buyers are in the market and they seem willing to bid up the price. The negative is that oil prices remain weak and are continuing to weigh on sentiment and the broader market in general. Eventually energy prices will stabilize but it doesn't look like it will be anytime soon.
Because today's market action was basically flat there are no changes to the portfolio. Keep a close on eye on stops and be prepared for more volatility tomorrow and into the end of the week.
Current Position Changes
FL - Foot Locker
The Foot Locker call was opened today. Entry trigger was $64.75.
The QQQ call was opened today.
Stop Loss Updates
Check the graphic above for any new stop losses in bright yellow.
We need to always be prepared for an unexpected decline.
BULLISH Play Updates
FL - Foot Locker - Company Description
Shares moved higher today, again on no news, but were capped by the short term moving average. Despite hitting short term resistance the entry trigger price was reached resulting in a buy.
Entry price for Mar $70 call is $1.05
Original Trade Description: February 3rd.
Foot Locker is a specialty athletic retailer with more than 3,400 stores in 23 countries and it a leading provider of athletic shoes. February is kickoff month for Foot Locker and they run a series of new ads on TV ahead of the March Madness.
This year the ads will feature comedian Kevin Hart in both Foot Locker and Kids Foot Locker promotions. In Q3 same store sales rose +8% and retailers for sports apparel reported a good holiday season. Foot Locker reports earnings on March 4th.
Nike and UnderArmour already reported strong earnings. UnderArmour reported a record quarter claiming accelerating sales of athletic footwear were growing market share and profitability. Nike reported earnings that increased 21.6% at 90 cents that were 5.1% above consensus. That was the 14th consecutive quarter that Nike has beaten estimates.
The country is currently undergoing a "social fitness" phenomenon with sales of sports watches and fitness training products exploding. Millennials, those born between 1980-2000, have changed the landscape of retail. They now represent 25% of the population. Millennials are far more health conscious than boomers and tend to try lots of different activities unlike boomers that stuck to 1 or 2 sports. Boomers played golf or tennis. Millennials are cyclists, runners, basketball players and any number of other active sports. They are not golfers. Each of these sports requires different shoes. This is where Foot Locker shines in providing a wide range of affordable shoes and athletic apparel.
Foot Locker should have a good quarter when they release earnings next month. With the Foot Locker commercials in February plus the Super Bowl and the build up to March Madness, investors will think of Foot Locker and shares should rise.
With a FL trade at $64.75:
Buy March $70 call, currently $2.65, initial stop loss $66.45
IYT - Dow Transports ETF - Company Description
The transports continue to lead the broader market. Today the IYT moved above the short term moving average only to fall back below before the close. There are no changes at this time but I may raise the stop if it falls below $122.50
Original Trade Description: February 8th
The Dow Transports typically lead the Dow industrials. The transports have been weak because of the slowdown in the manufacturing sector, competition in the airline sector and slowing rail traffic due to the weak shipments of coal and oil field equipment.
For some reason the transports quit declining about three weeks ago about the time oil prices appeared to have bottomed. Now with analysts extending their estimates for low oil prices into 2017 the transports are starting to rise again. Summer is a very busy time for airlines and with low oil prices, their profits should be much stronger even with the added competition.
The transports are very oversold. In Monday's market drop the IYT shares barely moved and ended the day down -38 cents. If we are looking at a potential rebound in the market the transports could lead because of their severely oversold position. The individual stocks have been crushed since early December. The Dow Transports declined -31% off their highs to the January lows.
This is a play on a rebound in the transportation sector. While I admit the fundamentals are still weak the IYT has refused to dip below support for three weeks and set a new high for 2016 last Thursday. This relative strength in a very negative market suggests investors are making their bets there is a rally in the future.
Buy March $130 call, currently $2.15, initial stop loss $118.75
PG - Procter & Gamble - Company Description
Proctor & Gamble gave up some of the gains it made yesterday but closed above our entry price. Declining momentum may become an issue and will need to be watched. The stop was raised with yesterday's play updates so be sure to update your accounts.
Original Trade Description: February 5th
Procter & Gamble was started in 1837 and has grown to be an international company with hundreds of brands that are household names. This includes products like medicines, diapers, toothpaste, mouthwash, soap of all types, toilet paper, razors and hundreds more. There is not a person in America that does not have at least one P&G product in their home today and most probably have dozens.
They reported Q4 earnings in January of $1.12 that rose +37% on a currency neutral basis. Revenue was $16.9 billion. Revenue declined -9% due to an 8% impact from the strong dollar and a 3% impact from reorganizing in Venezuela as a result of their economic collapse.
P&G saw operating cash flow of $4.5 billion, up +117%. They repurchased $2 billion in stock and paid $1.9 billion in dividends in the quarter.
The guided for flat to low single digit growth in 2016 after an expected 7% drag due to currencies and a continued 3% drag from Venezuela. Absent Venezuela and currencies they could see high single digit revenue growth despite the weakness in the global economy.
In 2016, they expect to pay additional dividends of $7 billion and repurchase another $8 billion in shares.
Everybody knows P&G. This is a no brainer play. P&G has relative strength to the market and no material impact to its operations from the economy. P&G is recession proof because their brands are used every day by everyone.
This is a technical setup with PG shares about to break over resistance at $81. Earnings are a long way off on April 26th. If the market continues lower, we have the protection of relative strength. If it moves higher we should see PG shares retest resistance at $85 or even higher. The December 2014 high was $94.
Position 2/8/16 with a PG trade at $81.50
Long April $82.50 call @ $1.93, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.
KR - Kroger - Company Description
Prices moved higher today closing the gap opened on Monday but fell back to near break even before the close. The company is due to report in earnings in a couple of weeks; the entire sector is expected to show a 3-5% increase in sales ex-gasoline. Whole Foods reported after the bell foreshadowing what we can expect from Kroger; beating expectations and raising guidance. No changes today.
Original Trade Description: January 28th
Kroger is a retail grocery chain with $108 billion in sales in 2014. In Q3, 2015 their same store sales comps rose +5.4% without factoring in gasoline. They have recently been adding service stations to their offerings. They operate 2,774 supermarkets, 148 with in store clinics, 786 convenience stores, 1,330 fuel centers and 326 Fred Meyer jewelry stores in the USA. In all they have more than 161.3 million square feet of operated retail space. They have 37 food-processing plants, 27 dairies, 6 bakeries and 36 distribution centers.
While most people know them as a grocery store they are much more. They operate those grocery stores under many name brands, more than two dozen, as a result of the acquisition of regional chains. They also operate multi-department stores like a small Walmart or Target.
They have more than 422,000 employees and operate in 34 states. They filled 175 million prescriptions in 2014 worth over $9 billion. Kroger earned $3.223 billion in profits in 2014.
Where Kroger is kicking butt is their new organic product lines. They are significantly cheaper than Whole Foods Markets (WFM), Fresh Market (TFM) and Sprouts Farmers Markets (SFM). They are able to compete with Walmart on organics and private label brands because they own their own food processing and distribution centers. They have dozens of store brands than encompass nearly every isle in the stores from frozen pizzas, vegetables, fruit, toilet paper, snack chips and salsa to a complete customer deli in their larger stores. Their private label organic produce covers 60% of their produce department. Their Simple Truth Organic brand is now the largest natural food brand in the USA.
While Kroger has been outperforming the other grocery and fresh food stores their shares took a hit in early January when a division president, Lynn Gust, president of the Fred Meyer division retired after 45 years. He started out as a package clerk in 1970 and rose up through the ranks to be named president and then led the division to more than $10 billion in annual sales.
At the same time Credit Suisse lowered their rating on Kroger because of deflation risks. The deflation risk means prices for products are going to continue lower. However, I view that as a positive. Kroger's costs are going down but the price of their products do not have to go down in lock step. This is a profit opportunity for Kroger. The analyst also said fuel prices will eventually rise and that will take money out of consumer's pockets. Since that will happen across the board to all grocery stores it makes sense to own the one that is making money on gasoline with their 786 convenience stores regardless of the prices.
Shares declined from $43 in early January to $36 on the Wednesday crash. This is long term support and shares are very oversold. Earnings are March 3rd and I expect the stock to rebound, assuming the market cooperates. With support at $36.50 and the stock at $37.81 I view this position as very limited risk unless the overall market crashes.
Shares have consolidates over the last year after a monster rally from $17.50 in early 2014.
Earnings March 3rd. We will exit before earnings.
Long April $40 call, entry $1.05. No stop loss because of the cheap option.
QQQ - Nasdaq 100 ETF - Company Description
The Q's moved higher today as well, closing a gap opened on Monday, only to fall back at the close. This is a purely technical play and continues to look like a good one. Current lows are bouncing from a long term resistance level with highly divergent indicators consistent with a rebound to the short term moving average.
Trigger price was reached resulting in a buy. Entry price for QQQ Mar $100 call is $2.05.
Original Trade Description: February 8th.
This is purely a rebound play and not based on fundamentals. The major large cap stocks in the Nasdaq 100 have been crushed and the $NDX had declined -411 points at today's lows, down from 4,300 the prior Monday. This is a -9.5% drop and represents a severely oversold market.
I warned in my weekend Option Investor commentary that we we could expect some follow through on Monday as portfolio managers who missed the Friday reaction drop hit the sell button today. I also mentioned the potential for those managers that did raise cash on Friday to come back to today with a calmer mind and start bargain hunting.
The afternoon rebound suggests those bargain hunters appeared and once the smoke clears we could see a major short squeeze.
Buy March $100 call, currently $2.02, stop loss $94.25, just under today's lows.
THO - Thor Industries - Company Description
Thor continues to test support. Support appears strong, probably due to strong earnings and sales in prior quarters. Earnings are due in about 3 weeks, if they miss or fail to inspire this play may get reversed. Until then the technicals and outlook remain positive, no changes to position.
Original Trade Description: January 29th, 2016:
Thor designs and manufacturers recreational vehicles for the U.S. and Canada. Some of its brands include Airstream International, Flying Cloud, Land Yacht, Eddie Bauer, Interstate and AutoBahn class B motorhomes. They have dozens of other brands in the conventional travel trailers and fifth wheels.
You would think that motorhomes would be a tough sell in the current economy. We know that Harley Davidson (HOG), Polaris (PII) and Arctic Cat (ACAT) have been having some challenges. That is not the case for Thor. Towable RV sales in the U.S. hit a record high in 2015.
In the last quarter, Thor reported earnings of 97 cents, up from 73 cents. Revenue rose +11.7% to $1.03 billion. Profit margins rose from 12.8% to 14.8%. They have $180 million in cash and no debt. They pay nearly a 3% dividend.
At the end of October Thor's backlog in orders for towable RV units was $710 million. The order backlog for motorized RVs was $341 million. With total backlogs of more than $1 billion and headed into the RV selling season, Thor is positioned to capitalize on price increases, margin expansion and even more sales.
Earnings are March 3rd.
Shares collapsed with the market in early January and bottomed the prior week at $48. Despite market volatility last week, they have been moving steadily higher. I am recommending the March options and we will exit before earnings.
Position 2/1/16 after a THO trade at $52.75
Long March $55 call @ $1.15, no stop loss because of the cheap option.
BEARISH Play Updates (Alpha by Symbol)
AMBA - Ambarella - Company Description
Small rebound in Ambarella today, no change to position.
Original Trade Description: January 27th
Ambarella develops full motion HD video chips for video capture, sharing and display worldwide. The system on a chip handles HD video, audio, image processing and system functions on one chip. Their largest customer is GoPro.
GoPro (GPRO) reported two weeks ago that holiday sales have been dismal and would report Q4 revenue of $435 million, down -31% from the year ago quarter. Analysts were expecting $512 million and that number had already been lowered by analysts fearing sales were declining.
GoPro said it was cutting 7% of its workers and would incur up to $10 million of restructuring expenses in 2016.
Ambarella shares tanked along with GoPro despite having numerous other customers that also buy their chips. Unfortunately, GoPro is their biggest customer by far. In the prior quarter, Ambarella missed estimates for "near-term headwinds" which translates to "GoPro cameras are not selling." This means the current quarter that they will report on March 3rd is not likely to be any better. There is probably an earnings warning lurking in the near future.
GoPro is being hampered by a flurry of new competitors at cheaper prices. This means competition is only going to get worse and GoPro has already cut its prices twice in the last 3 months. All of this means GoPro is losing market share and that means fewer Ambarella chips will be needed.
With Apple shares crashing and estimates for Q1 iPhone sales declining by about 20%, this is going to put a cloud over the entire personal electronics market.
Ambarella is not overpriced with a PE of 13. They are just too reliant on GoPro for the majority of their revenue. If Ambarella could accelerate some purchases by their other customers, the stock would recover quickly. Apparently that is not yet happening and shares are about to decline to an 18-month low under $35.
Earnings March 3rd.
Long March $32.50 put @ $1.78, initial stop loss $41.55
BABA - Alibaba - Company Description
A small bounce in Alibabay today. Exit target stands, no change to stop.
Original Trade Description: January 29th.
This Chinese retailer reported earnings of 73 cents that beat estimates for 70 cents. Revenue of $5.33 billion also beat estimates for $5.08 billion. However, gross merchandise volume rose only 23% to $149 billion and the slowest growth in more than three years. Alibaba has 80% market share in China and they are starting to see the impact of the economic slowdown.
Shares declined after the earnings on Thursday and then declined again on Friday. If it were not for a burst of short covering at the close, they would have ended in the red in a very strong market. They gained only 11 cents on the short covering.
Shares have been declining since mid December when the Chinese economics and equity markets began to weaken further. Investor sentiment is fading as continued questions over accounting issues cloud their results.
It is not that investors are terribly disappointed in Alibaba. They are worried more about China's economic direction with multiple CEOs including Howard Schultz at Starbucks saying China sales are slowing. Add in the constant accounting rumors and investors are leaving the stock.
Shares bumped up against a solid top in Nov/Dec and then faded in January. The stock is about to experience a death cross of the 50-day below the 200-day average. I am looking for a retest of support at $57 from September.
The low last week was $65.34. I am recommending a put position with a trade at $64.85.
Position 2/2/16 with a BABA trade at $64.85:
Long March $65 put @ $3.90, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.
BABY - Natus Medical - Company Description
BABY tried to bounce today but met resistance at $35. The stock looks like it is setting up for the next big drop we've been anticipating.
Original Trade Description: February 4th.
Shares of BABY spiked higher on the 27th when they posted a 27% increase in earnings but revenue only rose +6.4% and failed to meet their projections. They guided for $100 million and came close at $99.951 million so rounded up they did hit their target. However, investors sold the stock almost immediately and the stock has continued slowly lower.
There is nothing wrong with the company. They are transitioning away from selling devices and systems as their primary revenue and more to supplies and services as a continuing revenue source. Once you sell a hospital a bunch of devices it will be years before they buy again. By moving into the supplies area they will develop a constant revenue stream as those supplies are consumed.
One of their products is called NicView that allows families and friends to view the babies over the Internet while they are in the neonatal intensive care units. More than 80 hospitals now have that installed.
They guided for Q1 to revenue of $86.5-$97.5 million, down slightly from Q4 and earnings of 34-35 cents. Full year revenue guidance was $445-$455 million and also down from the Q4 run rate. Earnings are good but that slowing revenue is a challenge.
Earnings are April 27th.
I like Natus as a company. I wish their stock was rising so I could play it on the upside. However, shares are struggling to hold over $34. If this level breaks the next support is in the $25 to $28 level.
With the biotech sector very weak and expected to get weaker I am afraid it is going to rub off on Natus and we will see that breakdown.
Position 2/5/16 with a BABY trade at $33.50
Long April $30 put @ $1.15. No stop loss because of the cheap option.
HPQ - Hewlett Packard - Company Description
HP continues to drift lower ahead of earnings.
This is a long-term play to hold over the Feb 24th earnings. Earnings news by other companies will be the driver over the next several weeks.
Original Trade Description: January 25th
Back in October Hewlett Packard spun off its enterprise server business into Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) and the old Hewlett Packard that sells PCs and printers remained (HPQ). The problem with this spinoff is that the enterprise company is where the profits are. The PC business has been declining for years and that is why HP split the two entities.
Since the spinoff at $14.75 in October the HPQ shares have been in decline. They closed at a new low on Monday. I see no reason where HPQ should rally in the near future. PC sales are still expected to decline in 2016 only at a slower pace. There is nothing to produce excitement in the PC company.
In theory we could probably just buy a cheap put and sit on it but HPQ has earnings on February 24th. I expect those earnings to be disappointing. However, you never know if they will pull a rabbit out of the hat and announce something that powers the stock higher. This is why I am recommending a strangle rather than just a straight put play.
HPQ shares closed at $9.49 on Monday and halfway between the $9 put and $10 call. I am recommending the April strangle so we can benefit from the long-term trend if HPQ continues to decline. If earnings disappoint we could see HPQ at $5 by then.
Earnings are February 24th.
Long April $9 put @ 41 cents, no stop loss.
Long April $10 call @ 50 cents, no stop loss.
JUNO - Juno Therapeutics - Full Company Description
JUNO fell more than -1.7% today and is moving in our direction once again. No changes.
Original Trade Description: January 22nd
Juno is a biopharmaceutical company that develops cell based cancer immunotherapies. Juno has been very active in buying up its competitors. On January 11th the company announced the acquisition of AbVitro for $125 million. That is their third acquisition in 12 months. However, Illumina (ILMN), ten times larger than Juno, is also on the same track and announced a similar acquisition on the same day.
Juno claims there is more than enough room in the space for both Juno, Illumina and Celgene (CELG) another competitor in the space. Apparently investors are not convinced. Shares of Juno have been in decline since early December and they hit a post IPO low last week. The rebound was lackluster and in a good market on Friday, they only gained 8 cents.
Update 1/26/16: The National Institute of Health (NIH) researchers published a study showing off-the-shelf T-cell therapy could induce remissions in patients with advanced blood cancers. This new "allogenic" T-cell therapy study represents a competitive threat to therapies from Juno, Kite and Novartis.
Earnings are March 17th.
Long March $27.50 put @ $1.75, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.
VXX - iPath S&P 500 VIX Futures ETN - ETF Description
The VIX fell from what has become a lower peak, it looks like volatility may have decided to come down to reality, no changes to this position.
Original Trade Description: January 16th
At the risk of stating the obvious, the last two weeks in stocks have been brutal. Investors have taken a risk-off attitude and sold just about everything. The small cap Russell 2000 index is already down -11% in the first ten trading days of 2016. The NASDAQ composite is off -10%. The S&P 500 has declined -8%.
The New Year has suffered a parade of negative headlines from disappointing economic data both in the U.S. and China. China devaluating its currency. N. Korea claiming to have hydrogen bombs (several times worse than normal nukes). Crude oil crashing into multi-year lows. Plus falling sentiment for corporate earnings, which are expected to be negative two quarters in a row.
No one wanted to be long over the three-day weekend, which helped drive stocks even lower on Friday. The S&P 500 dipped to 15-month lows before paring its losses on Friday. The fact that Friday was also options expiration just added to the volatility.
Stocks normally don't move that fast in a straight line for very long. Markets a very oversold and way overdue for a bounce. The rebound could show up this week. One way to play it is the volatility indices. The VXX follows the iPath S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures Index. When investors panic volatility spikes but these are almost always short-term events. You can see on the long-term weekly chart below these spikes always fade.
Tonight we are suggesting put options on the VXX to capture the decline as volatility fades again and it will sooner or later. We are betting on sooner. We want to buy the March $23 puts at the opening bell on Tuesday.
Long March $23 Put @ $2.41, no stop loss
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