Option Investor
Newsletter

Daily Newsletter, Monday, 9/26/2016

Table of Contents

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

Market Wrap

Presidential Debate 2016

by Thomas Hughes

Click here to email Thomas Hughes

Introduction

Amid economic earnings uncertainity the first, and maybe only, presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton dominated today's market. Many analysts are saying that the results could clinch the election and the odds seem to be in Trumps favor, providing he can hold himself together and not go "off-script". The broad market sold off, perhaps in a defensive gesture, but not hard and remains well within recent ranges. Volatility is also still will us, the VIX retreat to test support last week and has begun this week with a move higher.

International markets seemed to be just as interested in the debate as we. Indices around the globe pulled back by at least a full percent. Also on the radar is the Algiers OPEC meeting, happening as we speak, at which production caps and other supply limiting actions are expected to be discussed. Asian indices fell by roughly -1.5%, those in Europe in a little more. European indices were furthered impacted by news the EU would not be aiding Deutsche Bank in its negotiations with the DOJ.

Market Statistics

Futures indicated a negative opening all morning, the SPX set for a loss near -0.5%. These levels held all morning although there was choppiness to trading. The SPX opened with a loss near -8 points and quickly moved down to a morning low slightly more than -15 points. After an hour or so of sidewinding above the early low another intraday low was set just before noon, about -17 points for the SPX. Sidewinding resumed from that point and persisted for the next several hours. Afternoon trading was much the same, sideways drift with downward bias that resulted in several new intraday lows. By end of day the indices had lost nearly a full percent and closed near the lows of the day.

Economic Calendar

The Economy

No economic data was released before the opening bell. After the bell, at 10AM, we received the latest read on New Home Sales. New Homes Sales fell -7.6% from the previous month, a little less than expected, but remain up by more than 20% year over year. This month's data shows a slow down in growth of sales in the near term but ongoing strength in sales longer term. The current inventory of new homes remains low at only 4.5 months and a major factor hindering sales growth.

Moody's Survey Of Business Confidence fell -0.5% to 25.1. This is the lowest level in 4 weeks but relatively stable over the past 4 months. Looking at the charts it has taken a long time, almost a year exactly, but sentiment appears to have bottomed since falling from its peak. According to Mr. Zandi sentiment is stable and consistent with global economic growth. Caution remains in the near term, the longer term outlook remains positive. Of course, outlook was positive 6 months ago too and nothing has really changed since then.


Earnings season is slowly progressing. According to FactSet 9 S&P 500 companies have reported so far, 8 more are expected to report this week. Of those that have reported 6 have beaten earnings estimates and 4 have beaten revenue estimates, both below average. The blended rate for the 3rd quarter has fallen again, dipping to -2.3% and the lowest level for the series. At this level the index is still in position for the final earnings growth rate to turn positive, based on the averages, but could fall to levels, sub -4%, where that may not be possible. Of the 10, now 11, sectors of the S&P 500 all of them have been revised lower since the start of the quarter with 79 (15.8%) offering negative guidance.


Looking out to the end of the year and next year outlook remains positive but took another hit this week. Full year 2016 fell a tenth to -0.3% while full year 2017 fell three tenths to the lowest level since mid February, 13.1%. Fourth quarter 2016 also fell a tenth, to 5.7%. Based on these figures we are coming out of the earnings recession, even if 3rd quarter earnings come in net negative, so it looks like conditions are setting up for earnings driven rally.


The only economic release on the calendar for tomorrow is the Case Shiller 20 City Index, a non-mover for sure. Wednesday's data is a little better, Durable Goods. Thursday is weekly jobless claims, the 3rd estimate for 2nd quarter GDP and Pending Homes Sales. Friday caps the week with Personal Income and Spending, PCE Prices (an important Fed watched metric) and Chicago PMI. Next week is my favorite week of the month, economically, chock full of labor data (ADP, NFP) and more.

The Dollar Index

The Dollar Index fell today, shedding about -0.25%, but remains range bound and without direction. The index is trading just below the mid-point of the 3 month range with no indication of breaking out. The indicators are pointing lower at this time the index may drift that direction but without a change in fundamentals or at least some really game changing data it is most likely going to remain range bound. Next week could move the needle some, labor data is an important Fed metric, after that ECB, BOJ and FOMC meetings are the next potential catalysts. Kuroda at the BOJ said today they were ready to do what it takes to spur inflation but the market is not impressed with their currency weakening ability and the yen gained strength.


The Oil Index

Oil prices surged higher on hopes that OPEC would do something to support prices. The problem is that even if OPEC were to suspend production increases, production levels are already to high. Expect to see plenty of headline tomorrow and perhaps a little volatility. Today prices gained more than 3.5% to trade above $46. The move higher may continue if rumor and headline support it but resistance remains near $48.50 and $50. Looking back over oil prices over the past 2 months it appears they are winding up around the $45-$46 level into a narrowing range that may center on this OPEC meeting.

The energy sector was not moved by oil prices, perhaps seeing the move as one without legs to stand on. In any event, the Oil Index closed the day with nearly no movement to speak of after creating a small doji candle. The index is still trading below resistance at the middle of its range with indicators showing increasing weakness. Momentum is almost absent but stochastic continues to drift lower and has fallen below the lower signal line and suggest a weakness in the market and possible move down to test the lower boundary of the range, near 1,080. Resistance is the mid-point of the range, near 1,120, and the short term moving average.


The Gold Index

Gold prices held firm on a weakening dollar but is likewise range bound. Spot prices gained about a quarter percent intraday to trade near $1,344. Prices are likely to remain range bound while Fed uncertainty persists, and in the vacuum of other fundamental movers. Resistance is near the mid-point of the 3 month range. Near term it looks like prices are moving higher so a test of resistance is likely. A break above $1,350 would be bullish and could take prices up to test the top of the range near $1,385.

The gold miners held steady today as well. The Gold Miners ETF GDX fell but only about -0.04%. The ETF is sitting on top of the $26.70 level, a support level confirmed by last Wednesday's long white candle and the indicators. The ETF is also capped by resistance at the short term moving average. Of the two support looks stronger, it is located at a Fibonacci Retracement level of long term significance, so a break above the moving average could be imminent. If so the ETF could return to test resistance at the current long term high, near $32.


In The News, Story Stocks and Earnings

Shares of Twitter jumped for the second day in a row as new bidders enter the arena. Today's arrival, according to some sketchy reports, is Disney. Why Disney would want Twitter is beyond many analysts comprehension some see a benefit. Meanwhile, Twitter is getting downgraded based on low user growth and revenue outlook. Shares of the stock opened with a loss but moved sharply higher during the day to close with a gain near 0.75%.


Cal-Maine, one of the largest shippers of eggs in the country, reported earnings this morning before the bell. Results are not good and reflect a drastic correction in the prices of eggs following the recovery of chicken flocks post avian-flu outbreak. According to the report the company's average selling price for the quarter is down nearly 60% from its peak set a year ago. Quarterly revenue fell 60.7% resulting in a net loss of -$0.67 per share. Last year at this time the company was reporting a profit of $2.95. Shares of CALM fell more than -3% to trade just above support at the long term low.


Carnival cruise line reported earnings this morning described in the statement as best quarterly earnings in the company's history. Earnings beat expectations, revenue did not, and guidance was reaffirmed in-line with consensus. Sales were strong in the US and Europe with a good showing in all major sailing regions. Looking forward, the company has commissioned three new ships that should be on the seas in the next couple of years. Shares of the stock opened with a gain but fell hard during the day to close with a loss greater than -1.25%.


The Indices

Today's action was light considering the downward tilt to prices. The indices really only drift lower, slow sidewinding throughout the day and not really moving lower with confidence. The day's leader is a tie between the NASDAQ Composite and Dow Jones Industrial Average which both lost -0.91%. The tech heavy index created only a small black bodied candle but a bearish candle it is, moving lower extending the pull back from freshly set all time highs. The index is approaching potential support at the short term moving average, near 5,240, and may break through. The indicators are a bit mixed, bullish in the nearer term yet divergent and showing weakness in the longer, so support and its strength are questionable. A break below 5,240 could take the index down to 5,050 or lower.


The blue chips created a medium bodied black candle, moving down from recently broken support at the short term moving average. The index appears to be moving lower with near term target at 18,000. Despite the downward bias the index remains range bound over the short to long term. The indicators are a bit mixed on this chart too, consistent with range bound trading. A break below support would be bearish and could take this index down to 17,750 and a long term up trend line, well within the long term trading range.


The S&P 500 came in runner up today with a loss of -0.86%. The broad market created a medium bodied black candle moving down from the short term moving average and appears to be heading for support at 2,120. The indicators are mixed, consistent with range bound trading, so a break below support does not look likely.


Today's laggard is the Dow Jones Transportation Average with a loss of only -0.28%. The transports created a small doji candle sitting on the short term moving average, in the middle of the 3 month trading range. The index is firmly range bound, confirmed by the indicators, and appears to be going nowhere but sidways. Bottom of the range is 7,750, top of the range near 8,200. A break below the lower range limit would be bearish in the near to short term and could result in a pull back to 7,500 or lower.


The indices remain range bound, range bound and waiting for something to happen. That something may be tonight's debate, or the results of the debate but I don't think so. Politics are important and they will help direct market direction long term but nearer term we're still waiting on a questionable season of earnings, we're still waiting on the FOMC to greenlight the economy and we're still waiting on the actual election... all of which happen to coincide the first two weeks of November. Withg so much uncertainty I remain cautious in the near term, waiting for my long term signal for bullish entries.

Until then, remember the trend!

Thomas Hughes


New Option Plays

Stronger Together

by Jim Brown

Click here to email Jim Brown

Editors Note:

Western Digital bought SanDisk several months ago and the market was cool to the transaction. Now that estimates are rising they are rethinking their outlook.



NEW DIRECTIONAL CALL PLAYS

WDC - Western Digitial - Company Profile

Western Digital Corporation, together with its subsidiaries, engages in the development, manufacture, sale, and provision of data storage solutions that enable consumers, businesses, governments, and other organizations to create, manage, experience, and preserve digital content worldwide. The company's product portfolio includes hard disk drives (HDDs), solid-state drives (SSDs), direct attached storage solutions, personal cloud network attached storage solutions, and public and private cloud data center storage solutions. It provides HDDs and solid-state drives for performance enterprise and capacity enterprise markets desktop, and notebook personal computers (PCs). The company also offers HDDs embedded into WD, HGST, and G-Technology branded external storage appliances with capacities ranging from 500 GB to 24 TB, as well as using various interfaces, such as USB 2.0, USB 3.0, FireWire, Thunderbolt, and Ethernet network connections. In addition, it provides consumer electronics solutions, including DVRs, gaming consoles, security surveillance, systems, set top boxes, camcorders, multi-function printers, and entertainment and automobile navigation systems. Company description from FinViz.com.

Western Digital recently acquired flash memory company SanDisk and they are stronger together. The company recently raised guidance for the second time as the integration of the two companies is turning out to be a winning duo.

WDC raised revenue guidance for the current quarter to $4.45-$4.55 billion up from $4.4-$4.5 billion. Analysts were expecting $3.41 billion. Gross margin guidance rose from 32% to 33%. Q3 earnings guidance rose from 85-90 cents to $1.00-$1.05. Analysts were expecting 68 cents. The company said the product mix was improving with the addition of the SanDisk lines. They also said PC sales were improving, as did Intel, and that means more disk drives sold.

Earnings Oct 27th.

Shares spiked to $54 on the stronger guidance and then languished for a week before starting to move higher to start a new trend.

Buy Nov $60 call, currently $2.07, initial stop loss $53.65.


IDCC - Interdigital - Company Profile

Comments:

We were stopped out of this position on a big gap down open on Monday. This stock is very strong but it had built up a lot of profit since that dip to $69 in early September. The big $3 gap lower this morning was purely market related and the stock recovered $2.30 of that loss by the close.

Analysts continually talk positive about IDCC and I think we should give it another chance.

Original Trade Description: September 7th.

InterDigital, Inc. designs and develops technologies that enable and enhance wireless communications in the United States and internationally. It offers technology solutions for use in digital cellular and wireless products and networks, such as 2G, 3G, 4G, and IEEE 802-related products and networks. The company develops cellular technologies comprising technologies related to CDMA, TDMA, OFDM/OFDMA, and MIMO for use in 2G, 3G, and 4G wireless networks and mobile terminal devices; and other wireless technologies related to Wi-Fi, WLAN, WMAN, and WRAN. Its patented technologies are used in various products, including mobile devices, such as cellular phones, tablets, notebook computers, and wireless personal digital assistants; wireless infrastructure equipment comprising base stations; and components, dongles, and modules for wireless devices. As of December 31, 2015, it had a portfolio of approximately 20,400 patents and patent applications related to the fundamental technologies that enable wireless communications. Company description from FinViz.com.

IDCC does not make the equipment that uses its designs and patents. They lease those patents to other companies for annual royalty payments based on the volume of devices sold. This is a very lucrative business because they do not have the cost of production or the risk any specific product will not sell in the marketplace.

For Q2 they reported earnings of 48 cents that beat estimates for 26 cents. Revenue of $75.9 million was $300,000 short of estimates. They received an arbitration award of roughly $150 million from Huawei in the quarter that will be reported as income in Q3. They also announced a new multi-year patent agreement with Huawei for 3G and 4G units. They ended Q2 with $814 million in cash.

Update 9/8/16: The company issued revenue guidance for Q3 of $220-$225 million. This compares to Q2 revenue of $75.9 million. Quarterly revenues are volatile because they receive royalties on new products when shipped. For instance, a royalty on the iPhone 7 would show a monster jump in Q4 compared to minimal revenue in Q3.

Earnings Oct 27th.

IDCC is a member of the S&P-400 MidCap index.

With an IDCC trade at $78.65

Buy Nov $80 call, currently $2.50, initial stop loss $75.85.


NEW DIRECTIONAL PUT PLAYS

No New Bearish Plays



In Play Updates and Reviews

Unfortunate Series of Events

by Jim Brown

Click here to email Jim Brown

Editors Note:

Worries over a Lehman moment for European banks and the presidential debate combined to knock the markets back to lows from last week. This was an unfortunate combination of events. The markets gapped lower and then continued selling off to close on their lows. It was not stock specific but several recent gainers were hammered on instant profit taking.

The debate tonight could either accelerate the selling or reverse it depending on whether or not a clear winner emerges.

We were stopped out on IDCC on a $3 gap lower on no news. This was strictly reactionary and shares rebounded +$2.30 to close with only a 70 cent loss. I am going to add it back as a new play with an overhead entry point.



Current Portfolio


Stop Loss Updates

Check the graphic below for any new stop losses in bright yellow. We need to always be prepared for an unexpected decline.


Profit Targets

Check the graphic below for any profit stops in green. We need to always be prepared for a profit exit at resistance.




Current Position Changes


IDCC - Interdigital

The long call position was stopped out with a trade at $76.35.


ITW - Illinois Tool Works

The long call position was stopped out with a trade at $117.65.



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BULLISH Play Updates


CLVS - Clovis Oncology - Company Profile

Comments:

No specific news. Only a minor 32 cent decline, excellent relative strength.

Original Trade Description: September 13th.

Clovis Oncology, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company, focuses on acquiring, developing, and commercializing anti-cancer agents in the United States, Europe, and internationally. It is developing three product candidates, which include Rociletinib, an oral epidermal growth factor receptor and mutant-selective covalent inhibitor that is under review with the U.S. and E.U. regulatory authorities for the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer; Rucaparib, an oral inhibitor of poly polymerase, which is in advanced clinical development for the treatment of ovarian cancer; and Lucitanib, an oral inhibitor of the tyrosine kinase that is in Phase II development for the treatment of breast cancers. Company description from FinViz.com.

Clovis has been rising on the prospects for the drug Rucaparib. They reported last week the FDA was not planning on holding an advisory committee meeting to discuss the new NDA application. The FDA has accepted the company's NDA for accelerated approval and granted it a priority review. The FDA response is expected to be positive and is expected by Feb 23rd.

Clovis has several anti cancer drugs in final stages and the outlook is very positive. Just seeing that CLVS shares have not declined in the recent market drops is a very strong indication that portfolio managers are buying and holding.

Earnings Nov 3rd.

We have to use a January call spread because October is the only other series available and with Friday the expiration for September, the October premiums will collapse next week. The net cost is the same but with the January options, we have more flexibility in the weeks ahead.

Position 9/14/16

Long JAN $30 call @ $6.00, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.
Short JAN $40 call @ $3.31, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.
Net debit $2.69


IDCC - Interdigital - Company Profile

Comments:

Big $3 drop at the open on no news to stop us out. It was strictly market related. Barclays had a very positive article on why their guidance was conservative. I am putting this back on new play list for tomorrow.

Original Trade Description: September 7th.

InterDigital, Inc. designs and develops technologies that enable and enhance wireless communications in the United States and internationally. It offers technology solutions for use in digital cellular and wireless products and networks, such as 2G, 3G, 4G, and IEEE 802-related products and networks. The company develops cellular technologies comprising technologies related to CDMA, TDMA, OFDM/OFDMA, and MIMO for use in 2G, 3G, and 4G wireless networks and mobile terminal devices; and other wireless technologies related to Wi-Fi, WLAN, WMAN, and WRAN. Its patented technologies are used in various products, including mobile devices, such as cellular phones, tablets, notebook computers, and wireless personal digital assistants; wireless infrastructure equipment comprising base stations; and components, dongles, and modules for wireless devices. As of December 31, 2015, it had a portfolio of approximately 20,400 patents and patent applications related to the fundamental technologies that enable wireless communications. Company description from FinViz.com.

IDCC does not make the equipment that uses its designs and patents. They lease those patents to other companies for annual royalty payments based on the volume of devices sold. This is a very lucrative business because they do not have the cost of production or the risk any specific product will not sell in the marketplace.

For Q2 they reported earnings of 48 cents that beat estimates for 26 cents. Revenue of $75.9 million was $300,000 short of estimates. They received an arbitration award of roughly $150 million from Huawei in the quarter that will be reported as income in Q3. They also announced a new multi-year patent agreement with Huawei for 3G and 4G units. They ended Q2 with $814 million in cash.

Update 9/8/16: The company issued revenue guidance for Q3 of $220-$225 million. This compares to Q2 revenue of $75.9 million. Quarterly revenues are volatile because they receive royalties on new products when shipped. For instance, a royalty on the iPhone 7 would show a monster jump in Q4 compared to minimal revenue in Q3.

Earnings Oct 27th.

IDCC is a member of the S&P-400 MidCap index.

IDCC shares are moving slowly higher with very little volatility. They closed at a new high on Wednesday. I know the daily chart looks scary but the 90-min chart below shows the three weeks of consolidation after their Q2 earnings jump. That consolidation is breaking to the upside and given their guidance, I believe it has room to run. I am using an inexpensive option in case disaster strikes.

Position 9/8/16 with a IDCC trade at $73.25

Closed 9/26/16: Long Oct $75 call @ $1.60. Exit $4.20, +$2.60 gain


ITW - Illinois Tool Works - Company Profile

Comments:

No specific news. Shares gapped down with the market to stop us out for a minor gain.

Original Trade Description: September 12th.

Illinois Tool Works Inc. manufactures and sells industrial products and equipment worldwide. It operates through seven segments: Automotive OEM; Test & Measurement and Electronics; Food Equipment; Polymers & Fluids; Welding; Construction Products; and Specialty Products. The company distributes its products directly to industrial manufacturers, as well as through independent distributors. Illinois Tool Works Inc. was founded in 1912. Company description from FinViz.com.

In late July, ITW reported earnings of $1.46 that rose 12.3% and beat estimates for $1.40. Revenue of $3.43 billion beat estimates for $3.40 billion. ITW guided for Q3 earnings of $1.42-$1.52 compared to analyst estimates for $1.46. The company raised full year guidance for earnings by 10 cents to the $5.50-$5.70 range. Analysts were expecting $5.51 per share.

Earnings Oct 19th.

The stock jumped from $111 to $115 on the news and then traded sideways for two weeks on post earnings consolidation. In early August, the shares started a slow climb to hit $119 and a new high. Every day I thought about recommending ITW but I kept waiting for a pullback.

On Sept 2nd shares spiked to $123.50 on no news. That spike was erased and shares drifted back down to the prior consolidation range of $119 and held there for two days. The 9/9 crash knocked us out of our prior position and shares dipped to $114.91 on Monday the 12th. Real support is $114.50. I am going to recommend this position for a reentry on a dip to $115.50 on any further market weakness.

Position 9/13/16 with an ITW trade at $115.50

Closed 9/26/16: Long Dec $120 call @ $2.50. Exit $3.19, +.69 gain.


LITE - Lumentum Holdings - Company Profile

Comments:

No specific news. No decline in a weak market. Competitor Acacia raised guidance and that lifted the sector.

Original Trade Description: September 12th.

Lumentum Holdings Inc. manufactures and sells optical and photonic products for optical networking and commercial laser customers worldwide. It operates in two segments, Optical Communications and Commercial Lasers. The Optical Communications segment offers components, modules, and subsystems that enable the transmission and transport of video, audio, and text data over high-capacity fiber optic cables. It offers optical communication products, including optical transceivers, optical transponders, and supporting components, such as modulators and source lasers; modules or sub-systems containing optical amplifiers, reconfigurable optical add/drop multiplexers or wavelength selective switches, optical channel monitors, and supporting components; and products for 3-D sensing applications, including a light source product. This segment serves customers in telecom and datacom markets. The Commercial Lasers segment offers diode, direct-diode, diode-pumped solid-state, fiber, and gas lasers; and photonic power products, such as fiber optic-based systems for delivering and measuring electrical power. This segment serves customers in markets and applications, such as manufacturing, biotechnology, graphics and imaging, remote sensing, and precision machining such as drilling in printed circuit boards, wafer singulation, and solar cell scribing. Company description from FinViz.com.

In Q2 LITE reported adjusted earnings of 41 cents compared to estimates for 35 cents. Revenue of $241.7 million beat estimates for $238.4 million. The company guided to earnings of 40-46 in Q3 and revenue in the range of $245-$255 million. Both were slightly ahead of analyst estimates.

Raymond James upgraded the stock saying strong demand from new datacenter build outs and from China was pushing sales higher. The company only has two competitors, Finsar and Nistica, and they only compete in certain products. Raymond James believes LITE can increase sales in that category by 50% by year-end. Verizon's network upgrades are expected to supply $900 million to LITE over the next several years. Zacks also joined the upgrade club with a strong buy.

The stock is also getting a boost from the strong performance of Acacia (ACIA), which sells some similar products. The winning is rubbing off on LITE.

Shares made a new high at $37.82 on Friday morning and then dipped to $35.37 this morning before rebounding to close just under the prior high.

Position 9/13/16 with a LITE trade at $37.75

Long DEC $40 call @ $2.65, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.


NVDA - Nvidia Corp - Company Profile

Comments:

Digitimes said Nvidia will be supplying the processor for the new Nintendo NX game console. Nintendo said they expect annual production of the consoles to be about 10 million. This would represent a boost of about $400 million in annual revenue to Nvidia and more than $100 million in additional earnings of a 19% spike.

Shares declined only 61 cents in a bad market.

Original Trade Description: September 17th.

NVIDIA Corporation operates as a visual computing company worldwide. It operates in two segments, GPU and Tegra Processor. The GPU segment offers processors, which include GeForce for PC gaming; Quadro for design professionals working in computer-aided design, video editing, special effects, and other creative applications; Tesla for deep learning, accelerated computing, and general purpose computing; and GRID for cloud-based streaming on gaming devices. The Tegra Processor segment provides processors that integrate a computer onto a single chip under the Tegra brand name; DRIVE automotive computers, which offer supercomputing capabilities; and tablet and portable devices for mobile gaming under the SHIELD name. The company's products are used in gaming, professional visualization, datacenter, and automotive markets. It sells its products primarily to original equipment manufacturers, original design manufacturers, system builders, motherboard manufacturers, add-in board manufacturers, and retailers/distributors. Company description from FinViz.com.

Q2 earnings rose 800% to 40 cents and beat estimates for 37 cents. Revenue of $1.43 billion beat their own guidance of $1.35 billion they gave in Q1. Earnings in the year ago quarter were 5 cents and $1.15 billion. They hiked full year revenue guidance as well as the current quarter. They guided for Q3 revenue of $1.68 billion and analysts were only expecting $1.45 billion. During the first six months of 2016, they bought back $509 million in shares and paid $124 million in dividends. The company had $4.88 billion in cash at the end of Q2.

Earnings Nov 10th.

They recently released several new graphics cards that are twice as fast and 40% cheaper than the cards they are replacing.

Nvidia's Graphics Processing Units or GPUs have become more than just video chips. They have become supercomputing processors and can be packaged in large groups to parallel process monster datasets and computations that would have taken weeks with conventional chips. They are truly revolutionizing the processor industry.

The focus on Artificial Intelligence or AI, a lot of companies like Google and Amazon are turning to GPUs to handle the monster amounts of data they collect every day. Facebook already uses Nvidia M40 GPU accelerators to power its Big Sur machine learning computers. Those NVIDIA GPUs were specifically designes to train deep neural networks for enterprise data centers, and the company says they are 10-20 times faster than other network computers. Nvidia said their GPD powered machine learning computers can help train networks new things in just a few hours that would take days or weeks with less powerful systems.

The new P100 GPU is 12 times faster than the prior version and can provide more performance than "several hundred computer nodes" and up to eight P100s can be interconnected to provide previously unheard of computing power. The chips in the GPUs contain more than 15.3 billion transistors each and the largest chip ever built at 16 nanometer technology. That is twice as many as on Intel's biggest chips. The P100 delivers more than 10 teraflops of performance. One teraflop can process one trillion floating-point instructions per second and the P100 can do 10 teraflops or 10 trillion calculations per second.

The COSMOS weather forecasting application runs faster on the P100 than the 27 servers, running twin multicore processors each that were previously tasked with the project. Intel makes commodity processors for the millions of PCs and servers in the world. Nvidia is light years ahead of Intel in technology. Nvidia's data center revenue increased 63% in Q1.

Nvidia shares have been stair-stepping higher since January. That means they post solid gains for a month or so and then pause to consolidate with a minor retracement. They set a new high at $63.38 on August 12th, the day after their Q2 earnings beat. Shares have moved sideways for a month. Last week, when the extreme market volatility hit on the 9th, shares dropped from $63 to $57. Within 4 days, the stock was back at $63. I believe it it now poised to breakout now that the weak holders have been eliminated.

Position 9/19/16:

Long Nov $65 call @ $3.45, no initial stop loss.



BEARISH Play Updates (Alpha by Symbol)

KR - Kroger Co - Company Profile

Comments:

No specific news. New 52-week low.

Original Trade Description: September 24th.

The Kroger Co., operates as a retailer in the United States. It also manufactures and processes food for sale in its supermarkets. The company operates retail food and drug stores, multi-department stores, jewelry stores, and convenience stores. Its combination food and drug stores offer natural food and organic sections, pharmacies, general merchandise, pet centers, fresh seafood, and organic produce; multi-department stores provide general merchandise items, such as apparel, home fashion and furnishings, outdoor living, electronics, automotive products, toys, and fine jewelry; and price impact warehouse stores offer grocery, and health and beauty care items, as well as meat, dairy, baked goods, and fresh produce items. The company's marketplace stores comprise full-service grocery, pharmacy, health and beauty departments, and perishable goods, as well as general merchandise, including apparel, home goods, and toys. It operates under the banner brands, such as Kroger, Ralphs, Fred Meyer, King Soopers, etc., as well as Simple Truth and Simple Truth Organic brands. As of January 30, 2016, the company operated 2,778 retail food stores, including 1,387 fuel centers; 784 convenience stores; and 323 fine jewelry stores and an online retail store, as well as 78 franchised convenience stores. The Kroger Co. was founded in 1883. Company description from FinViz.com.

I wish I was writing a bullish play recommendation on Kroger but the chart is going in the opposite direction. They have so much going for them it is hard to understand the decline in the stock price. Hardly a week goes by that some broker does not reiterate a bullish rating on initiate a new one. Still the stock continues to fall.

I believe most are not aware of the new competition in the sector. The European discount grocer Lidl (Lee-dle) has established its U.S. headquarters in Arlington VA. They are planning store openings in Virginia, Maryland, NC and SC, Georgia, Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Those states are dominated by Kroger's various brands.

Lidl acquired the Harris Teeter Supermarket chain in NC in 2014 to get their foot in the door. The resulting performance of those stores convinced Lidl to go all out in an expansion phase.

Another German chain, Aldi, already has 1,400 discount grocery stores in the U.S. and plans to expand to 2,000 stores by 2018. That is a monster addition to the sector that is already scratching to make pennies on every item.

For Q2, Kroger posted earnings of 47 cents that beat estimates for 45 cents. That was a 6.8% increase over the comparison quarter. However, "due to continued deflation" the company lowered full year earnings guidance from $2.19-$2.28 to $2.10-$2.20 per share. Revenue of $26.565 billion rose 4% but missed estimates for $26.783 billion. Same store sales rose 1.7%. They guided for 0.5% to 1.5% for the rest of 2016, which was lower than Q2.

Earnings Dec 9th.

With Kroger warning about lower earnings I think we could see shares decline back to the $25 range. The stock made a monster move in 2014 and then traded sideways for 2015-2016. That sideways trend has now failed and there is a lot of blank space on this chart.

Position 9/26/16:

Long Jan $30 put @ $1.50, no initial stop loss.


RGR - Sturm Ruger & Company - Company Profile

Comments:

No specific news. Gun stocks seeing investor attention after daily shootings suggest more gun control talk ahead.

Original Trade Description: September 15th.

Sturm, Ruger & Company, Inc. designs, manufactures, and sells firearms under the Ruger trademark in the United States. It operates in two segments, Firearms and Castings. The company offers single-shot, autoloading, bolt-action, and sporting rifles; rimfire and centerfire autoloading pistols; single-action and double-action revolvers; and firearms accessories and replacement parts, as well as manufactures and sells steel investment castings and metal injection molding (MIM) parts. It sells its firearm products through independent wholesale distributors to commercial sporting market; and castings and MIM parts directly or through manufacturers' representatives. The company also exports its firearm products through a network of commercial distributors and directly to foreign customers comprising primarily of law enforcement agencies and foreign governments. Company description from FinViz.com.

In Q2, RGR reported earnings of $1.22 that beat estimates for $1.19. Revenue rose +19% to $167.9 million. The company said the new AR-15 clone, the AR-556 was responsible for one-third of all sales.

However, the pace of sales growth declined from the 26% rate in Q1. Ruger also surprised investors with a new CEO succession plan. The highly regarded Michael Fifer will retire in May and be replaced by the COO Christopher Killoy. The company had not mentioned a possible succession plan at the last shareholder meeting. Killoy is a good choice because he graduated from West Point and worked at both GE and competitor Smith & Wesson before joining Ruger as head of sales in 2003. He will only be the fourth CEO in Ruger's history.

The slowdown in sales growth was accompanied by a decline in background checks. FBI background checks slowed in August to only a 6% rise compared to 37% growth in July and 39% in June. The actual number of checks fell from 2.19 million in July to 1.85 million in August.

The gun makers have been posting some outstanding earnings thanks to rapidly rising gun sales only those sales are slowing now that Trump has pulled even or slightly ahead of Clinton. Trump is pro gun and Clinton is anti gun. As long as his numbers are improving, gun sales are likely to slow. However, should Clinton surge into the lead again, the numbers will rocket higher. Consumers are not going to spend hundreds of dollars to buy another gun if they think their gun rights will be safe for another 4 years. If Clinton surges into the lead again, they will be out in force buying those "extra" guns. The biggest surge will occur if Clinton wins the election on Nov 8th. At that point we want to be long every gun manufacturer and ammunition maker.

Earnings Nov 1st.

Ruger shares closed at an 8-month low on Wednesday. The rebound on Thursday was lackluster in a market were the Dow was up +200 points. With sales growth slowing and investors thinking the "bun boom" is over we could see Ruger retest the November lows at $48.

Position 9/20/16 with a RGR trade at $54.85

Long Jan $52.50 put @ $3.50, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.
Optional:
Short Jan $45 put @ $0.80, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.
Net debit $2.70


SIG - Signet Jewelers - Company Profile

Comments:

No specific news. Shares fell -3.3% to erased the unexpected spike from Friday.

Original Trade Description: September 20th.

Signet Jewelers Limited engages in the retail sale of diamond jewelry and watches. Its Sterling Jewelers division operates stores in malls and off-mall locations under the Kay Jewelers, Kay Jewelers Outlet, Jared The Galleria Of Jewelry, Jared Vault, Jared Jewelry Boutique, JB Robinson Jewelers, Marks & Morgan Jewelers, Every kiss begins with Kay, He went to Jared, Celebrate Life. Express Love., the Leo Diamond, Hearts Desire, Artistry Diamonds, Charmed Memories, Diamonds in Rhythm, Open Hearts by Jane Seymour, Radiant Reflections, Colors in Rhythm, Chosen by Jared, Now and Forever, and Ever Us names. As of January 30, 2016, this segment operated 1,540 stores.

The company's Zale division operates jewelry stores and mall-based kiosks in shopping malls under the Zales, Zales Jewelers, Zales the Diamond Store, Zales Outlet, Gordon's Jewelers, Peoples Jewellers, Peoples the Diamond Store, Peoples Outlet the Diamond Store, Mappins, Piercing Pagoda, Arctic Brilliance Canadian Diamonds, Candy Colored Jewelry, Celebration Diamond, The Celebration Diamond Collection, Unstoppable Love, and Endless Brilliance names. This segment operated 977 jewelry stores and 605 mall-based kiosks. Company description from FinViz.com.

In Q2, Signet reported earnings of $1.14, down from $1.28 and well below analyst estimates for $1.45. Revenue fell -2.6% to $1.37 billion and also missing estimates. Same store sales declined -2.3% system wide with sales at Jared down -7.6% and Kay Jewelers seeing a -0.5% decline.

The CEO blamed the drop in oil prices for the decline in jewelry sales. The company slashed guidance, cutting the earnings forecast from $8.35-$8.55 to $7.25-$7.55. They cut same store sales guidance from 2.0% - 3.5% growth to a decline of -2.5% to -1%.

Next earnings Nov 22nd.

Shares fell from $95 to $80 on the earnings news. After moving sideways for three weeks, shares began to fade last week and closed at a two year low today at $75.65.

Position 9/21/16 with a SIG trade at $75

Long Nov $70 put @ $2.43, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.


VXX - VIX Futures ETF - Company Profile

Comments:

No specific news. Big gap higher at the open on the gap lower in the markets. This is temporary.

This is a long-term position and I will not be commenting on it on a daily basis.

Original Trade Description: September 21st.

The VXX is a short term volatility product based on the VIX futures. As a futures product it has the rollover curse. Every time they roll to a new futures contract they have to pay a premium and that lowers the price of the ETF. It is a flawed product with a perpetual decline built in from the monthly roll over in the futures contracts.

As evidence of this flaw, they have now down four 1:4 reverse stock splits. The last four reverse splits occurred at $13.11 (11/2010), $8.77 (10/2012), $12.84 (11/2013), $9.52 (8/8/16). The prospectus says it can reverse split anytime it trades under $25 for a prolonged period and the splits will always be 1:4.

After the August split the ETF moved sideways for four weeks at $36. The volatility event on Sept 9th with the Dow falling -2.5% spiked the VXX from $33 to $42 in three days. That bounce has faded and it is almost back at $33. You are probably thinking, the $40 level would have been a good entry point and you are right in hindsight. However, with the market in danger of breaking down if the Fed had hiked rates, it was better to wait. Now there is nothing on the horizon to cause a spike other than normal market movement.

This is going to be a long-term position. I am not putting a stop loss on the position because long term the VXX always goes down. If we get another volatility spike we will buy another position at a higher level and then ride them both back down.

The market typically rises in late October and into the Thanksgiving weekend. A rising market reduces volatility.

I thought about using a spread to reduce the out of pocket costs. However, that means the strikes have to be relatively close together for the short strike to have any premium. Since the VXX could decline 10 points or more before December, that would limit our potential return to 3-4 points in a spread. However, if we do get a big decline we can spread out at much lower level to further increase our gains.

Position 9/22/16:

Long Dec $33 Put @ $4.20. No stop loss.




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