Option Investor

Daily Newsletter, Monday, 10/3/2016

Table of Contents

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

Market Wrap

Churning, Rotation, Preparation

by Thomas Hughes

Click here to email Thomas Hughes


The market continues to churn as we approach the return of earnings growth. The indices are, for the most part, moving sideways within narrow ranges pinpointed on the peak of the coming earnings cycle, as well as the next FOMC meeting and the presidential elections scheduled for early November. It's hard to say which event will break the market out of this trend, or even if they will, but for now those are the most likely catalysts. Today's action was light and to the downside but well within September trading ranges and without much conviction. Earnings news was light, economic data mixed.

International indices were a bit mixed but mostly up in the Monday session. Asian equity markets closed with gains in the range of 1%, a little weaker in the mainland Chinese market, with focus on a new Brexit deadlined issued by the British UK dominating headlines. The news is that there is now a timetable for the Brexit, at least a time by which to expect the invocation of Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, the official start of Brexiting. European markets were a little subdued, Germany was closed for a holiday, but largely moved higher, led by a 1.22% move in the FTSE.

Market Statistics

Futures trading indicated a slightly negative open all morning. There was very little new news to move the market this morning so trading was relatively calm. The indices were soft after the opening bell, opening with a loss and moving lower within the first minutes to set the early low before the fires half hour was up. The next hour saw the indices bounce to retest the opening price and then move lower to test the early low and move lower again. A third intrady low soon followed, itself followed by a small bounce that did little to regain the intraday losses, about -0.55%.

Economic Calendar

The Economy

Auto sales data was released intermittently throughout the day, the official sales numbers not released until mid-afternoon. Early indications showed a decline but not one as big as feared. Despite this fear of a sales peak persisted throughout the morning. GM -0.6%, Ford -7.7%, Fiat Chrysler -0.9%, Toyota the only one with gains, +1.5%, and Honday, -0.1%. The good news is that sales topped estimates. The official report shows a 17.76 annualized pace, above expectations and what could become a new record.

ISM and Construction Spending were both released at 10AM. September ISM Manufacturing was another positive for the day, climbing 2.1% to hit 51.5, a half percent better than expected. Gains were made in New Orders, Production and Employment suggesting a pick up of activity could be expected in the fourth quarter. New Order rose 6 points to 55.1, Production jumped 3.2 to 52.8 and Employment gained 1.4 to 49.7. Employment remains slightly contractionary.

Construction Spending fell -0.7% in August versus an expected gain of 0.2%, according to the Census Bureau. The drop brings the year over year total down to -0.3%, the first month of contraction in spending. The monthly decline was mostly due to non-residential spending, -1.1% versus a drop of -0.2% for residential. Year over non-residential spending has been lagging and is now down -1.3% versus a gain of 1.3% in residential spending.

Moody's Survey Of Business Confidence fell by a whopping -0.1% to hit 25.0. This is the lowest level since the end of August. Sentiment appears to be holding steady at current levels but remains well below the all time high set last year. Mr. Zandi says sentiment is consistent with a global economy expanding near its potential. Businesses are cautious about present conditions, as they have been for the past year or so, but remain optimistic about the future.

The blended rate of earnings growth for the S&P 500 in the 3rd quarter is now -2.1%. This is up a tenth from last week. There have been 18 reports so far, 15 have beaten on the EPS side and 11 on the revenue end. Seven more reports are due out this week, the season really gets underway next week with Alcoa and several of the big banks including scandal plagued Wells Fargo. While we can expect to see the blended rate improve over the course of the season how much is in question. Estimates for fully 10 of the now 11 S&P 500 sectors have been revised lower and 80 companies have issued negative guidance.

Looking forward outlook remain positive but continues to soften. Fourth quarter 2016 was revised lower by a tenth to 5.6%, full year 2016 was revised higher by a tenth but remains negative at -0.2% and full year 2017 was revised lower to 13%. The optimistic view is that the 3rd quarter will end with positive growth, leading us into a period of expanding growth beginning with the 4th quarter and extending into the next year. The pessimistic view is that earnings growth will not return this quarter and forward outlook will continue to erode.

Data is going to be on the heavy side this week. It's the turn of the month and the first week of a new quarter so lots of important monthly macro data and the last read in many cases for 2nd quarter activity. The highlight of course is the NFP report on Friday, along with unemployment and earnings figures, but there are many others.

The Dollar Index

The Dollar Index gained a quarter percent today but remains range bound, trading near the center of the range. The index continues to wind up within its narrowing range and will likely continue to do so until the FOMC meeting in just about 5 weeks. There are some other events which will likely drive volatility, the ECB meeting and BOJ meeting, but the FOMC meeting and possibly interest rate hike is the biggest risk to currency markets now. I expect to see the Dollar Index trend near $95.60 in that time. This week's NFP report could spark a move, if it is good/bad enough to truly change FOMC outlook. The CME Fed Watch Tool shows only an 11.4% chance of rate hike at the next meeting.

The Oil Index

Oil prices gained a little more than 1% today on remark between Iran's president and the president of Venezuela, basically to the effect that oil producing nations needed to band together to support prices. While bullish, the news has about as much impact on global oversupply issues as last week's OPEC deal so is likely to only provide support in the nearest of terms. Today's action was able to set a new 1 month high for WTI, just over $48.75, but prices remain below resistance and range bound.

The Oil Index held flat in today's session, despite the gain in oil prices. Today's candle is a small doji, possibly a hanging man, indicative of indecision. With the details of the OPEC deal so questionable, and supply still overshadowing supply, there is quite a lot for the market to consider. The Oil Index remains range bound but may be moving higher to test the upper boundary, near 1,175. A break above this level does not look likely at this time.

The Gold Index

Gold prices slipped today but held above critical support levels. Spot price fell about a quarter percent to hit $1,313 and are holding above $1,300. Gold, like the dollar, is trading in a tightening range that is most likely focused on the next FOMC meeting. Support is just above $1,200, resistance just below $1,350.

The gold miners were not so bouyant, the miners ETF GDX shedding more than -2.6% to trade just below the rising near-term support line I drew last week. The ETF may be breaking out of the current pattern but without a similar break in gold it is more likely testing for support. The indicators remain consistent with range bound trading, if also with a move to support. A break to the downside would be bearish for the sector and could lead the ETF down to $22.50 or lower.

In The News, Story Stocks and Earnings

Tesla made headlines today when it announced record deliveries and its best sales quarter ever. The company reported a roughly 70% increase in deliveries and a 37% increase in production over the previous month but did not raise guidance. Full year guidance was maintained but nonetheless investors were cheered. Shares of the stock rose more than 4.5% to trade at a 1 month high.

Deutsche Bank gave up some of the Friday gains but was able to hold above $12. Negotiations with the DOJ are ongoing, the inside scoop is that progress is being made but a deal is yet to come. Jamie Dimon, in a vote of confidence during a televised interview, said the bank should have no trouble overcoming its problems. Shares of the stock fell just over -1.25%.

Netflix rose more than 4% today on talks it is a takeover target for Disney. There is no official word yet on a deal, proposed deal or interest in a deal but speculation is running wild. Today's action took the stock up to a 4 month high, almost 5, on twice average daily volume.

The Indices

The indices posted declines nearly across the board today but there was one exception, the Dow Jones Transportation Average. The transports gained about 0.30% in a move that stopped short of my resistance line near 8,100 and the top of the 7 month trading range. The index may test, continue to test, resistance into the near term because momentum is still building. Otherwise, the indicators are bullish but still consistent with range bound trading. A break above the range would be bullish but it looks like it will hold for now.

The largest decline was posted by the S&P 500, about -0.33%, but it was not enough to break the index out of its new trading range. The broad market created a very small spinning top candle at the short term moving average, above the middle of the trading range, but it does not look very strong. Both indicators are bullish but also consistent with range bound trading so no break-out is expected tomorrow. Looking to the indicators MACD is only barely above the zero line, a sign of sideways trading, and stochastic is already rolling over to continue its trend through the neutral zone which is also indicative of sideways trading. The top of the range is near 2,180 the bottom is near 2,120 and both may be tested in coming weeks.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average made the next largest decline, just over -0.30%. The blue chips created a very small black candle, nearly a doji and the smallest daily range since volatility returned, under the short term moving average, the mid point of the trading range and my resistance line at the previous all-time high. The indicators remain consistent with range bound trading and may lead to a test of support near the 18,000 level. A break above mid-point resistance, 18,250, would be bullish but might only be near term in nature, the index returning to the top of the range near 18,500.

The NASDAQ Composite posted the smallest decline in today's session, only -0.18%. The tech heavy index was boosted by good news from Tesla and the Netflix rumor but not enough to break it out to new highs. The index created a very small white candle, spinning top in nature, near the top of the September range and above the short term moving average. The indicators are still consistent with range bound trading, but indicating a move lower within the range at this time. First target for support is the short term moving average, near 5,250, next target is just below that at a previous all time high. If these levels are broken a move down to 5,085 and the bottom of the September range is possible.

The indices are range bound and nothing changed about that today. The churn, dare I say sector rotation, is in full swing. The most likely target, time wise, for the range to be be broken for bulls or for bears is early November. That time frame is the peak of earnings seasons, it is when we have the election and its when the next FOMC meeting is scheduled.

What happens then is up for grabs but I think whatever happens, it'll be part of a process setting the market up for long term earnings driven gains going into 2017 and perhaps beyond. Before then, this week, trading ranges are likely to persist until Friday when there is a small chance they could be broken. The NFP report, labor/earnings data in general, could sway FOMC outlook and move the needle in terms of rate hike expectations and by extension the market. I remain cautious, collecting my covered calls and dividends, patiently waiting for the next big move to announce itself.

Until then, remember the trend!

Thomas Hughes

New Option Plays

Cutting the Cord

by Jim Brown

Click here to email Jim Brown

Editors Note:

Dish Network has just the thing for cord cutters. It is called Sling TV and they are increasing the available content to attract more viewers.


DISH - Dish networks - Company Profile

DISH Network Corporation provides pay-TV services in the United States. The company operates through two segments, DISH and Wireless. The company provides video services under the DISH brand. It also offers programming packages that include programming through national broadcast networks, local broadcast networks, and national and regional cable networks, as well as regional and specialty sports channels, premium movie channels, and Latino and international programming. In addition, the company provides access to movies and TV shows via TV or Internet-connected tablets, smartphones, and computers; and dishanywhere.com and mobile applications for smartphones and tablets to view authorized content, search program listings, and remotely control certain features. Further, it offers Sling TV services that require an Internet connection and are available on streaming-capable devices, including TVs, tablets, computers, game consoles, and smart phones primarily to consumers who do not subscribe to traditional satellite and cable pay-TV services. Additionally, the company operates Sling International that offers over 200 channels in 18 languages; and Sling domestic package that consists over 20 channels and tiers of programming, including sports, kids, movies, world news, lifestyle and Spanish language, and premium content, such as HBO. Further, it offers Sling Latino service; and satellite broadband services, wireline voice, and broadband services under the dishNET brand. Additionally, the company has wireless spectrum licenses and related assets. As of December 31, 2015, it had 13.897 million Pay-TV subscribers. Company description from FinViz.com.

Dish is gaining a significant number of views in the millennial generation that either have never had a cable subscription or cannot stand paying the monthly cable bills for what they believe should be free TV. They are also developing a large audience of Latino viewers with their various Spanish language channels. They also offer 18 other languages and more than 200 channels.

In early September, they gained the rights to about 800 sporting events offered by the six PAC 12 networks. Millennial's love to watch sports, especially when it is free or nearly free.

The online Sling TV offering is gaining market share with its skinny bundles including channel packages like HBO and Starz.

Over the last month the consensus earnings estimates for the current quarter have risen from 63 cents to 68 cents. Full year estimates have risen from $2.92 to $3.05.

Earnings Nov 7th.

Since they signed the sports deal on September 12th the stock has been in rally mode. Shares are closing in on resistance from June at $56.50 and should easily break through. The next resistance is in the $65 range.

Buy Nov $57.50 call, currently $2.45, no initial stop loss.


No New Bearish Plays

In Play Updates and Reviews

Window Undressing

by Jim Brown

Click here to email Jim Brown

Editors Note:

Portfolio managers were busy today removing the end of the quarter window dressing in preparation for establishing new positions on the next dip. The selling was minimal but it was broad based. Small caps sold off slightly more than large caps and that is surprising. Large caps appeared to be favored as the quarter ended.

The second half lows are typically made in the first 12 days of October so be prepared for an unexpected downdraft. Hopefully, this will be the year it does not occur but we cannot bet the farm on that possibility. The portfolio is showing a lot of relative strength and the only major move against us today was Signet with a rebound from the 3-year lows.

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

LULU - Lululemon Athletica

The long put position was entered with a trade at $60.92.

If you are looking for a different type of option strategy, try these newsletters:

Credit spreads and naked puts = OptionWriter

Long term option investments = LEAPS Investor

3-6 month Option Trades = Ultimate Investor

Iron Condors = Couch Potato Trader

Long and short equity trades = Premier Investor

BULLISH Play Updates

CLVS - Clovis Oncology - Company Profile


No specific news. Down slightly in a weak market.

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

FSLR - First Solar - Company Profile


No specific news. Down in a weak market.

Original Trade Description: September 28th.

First Solar, Inc. provides solar energy solutions in the United States and internationally. It operates through two segments, Components and Systems. The Components segment designs, manufactures, and sells solar modules that convert sunlight into electricity. This segment manufactures cadmium telluride and crystalline silicon modules for system integrators and operators. The Systems segment provides turn-key photovoltaic solar power systems or solar solutions, such as project development; engineering, procurement, and construction; and operating and maintenance services to utilities, independent power producers, and commercial and industrial companies. Company description from FinViz.com.

First Solar was the number one pick for a Clinton presidency. In the first debate, she advocated for installing "half a billion" solar panels to head off an impending energy crisis and reduce climate change.

After the debate Clinton was the assumed victor because of her calm, fact filled answers. Analysts have picked several stocks that would rise with a Clinton presidency and they were all up on Tuesday. Note that FSLR was in all four lists.

Deutsche Bank said buy FSLR, C, NFLX, UNH and FB.
Zacks said buy FSLR, LMT and PFPT.
Estimize said buy FSLR, UNH, FB, NFLX and CYBR.
InsiderMonkey said buy FSLR, CREE, TSLA, UNH and HUM.

I could not recommend FSLR on Tuesday because it was up 5%. The morning dip on Wednesday deflated the options and gives us an entry point. However, there is strong resistance at $39.50. I would like to see it move over that level before we jump in. A move over that level could generate significant short covering because FSLR was in a downtrend before the political lift.

Earnings are Oct 27th so we will be out relatively quickly. That is a week before the election and if Clinton is ahead in the polls the stock should still be rising. This could be a volatile position because of the political sound bites.

Position 9/29/30 with a FSLR trade at $40.00

Long Nov $42.50 call @ $1.95, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

IDCC - Interdigital - Company Profile


No specific news. Shares traded at a new intraday high but declined with the market.

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.

Update 9/28/16: In a study done by the EU Commission and IDCC they found the cost of rolling out 5G in all 28 EU member states could reach 56 bullion euros by 2020 and 141.8 billion annually by 2025. That is a huge amount of money that will be flowing into a hand full of companies including IDCC. The 5G standard is seen as 50 Mbps everywhere compared to the current 5-20 Mbps.

Earnings Oct 27th.

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

Position 9/27/16 with an IDCC trade at $78.65

Long Nov $80 call @ $2.90, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

LITE - Lumentum Holdings - Company Profile


Testing new high resistance at $42. Jefferies raised earnings estimates to $2.61 for the 2018 fiscal year, which is 14% above consensus. Revenue estimates rose to $1.29 billion and 11% over consensus.

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


Amazon announced a new P2 instance for the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2). The VM machines are powered by 16 Nvidia Tesla K80 GPUs. They also include up to 64 vCPUs with up to 732 Gb of host memory. These instances offer up to 60 times the processing power of prior P2 instances.

Nvidia hit a new intraday high but faded with the weak 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.

Update 9/28/16: Nvidia announced a new AI supercomputer chip called Xavier, which is designed for self-driving cars. The system-on-a-chip (SoC) integrates a new Graphics Processing Unit or GPU called Volta and a custom 8 core CPU along with a new computer vision accelerator. The processor will deliver 20 trillion operations per second while consuming only 20 watts of power. Nvidia already provides chips to Audi, BMW, Honda, Mercedes, Tesla and Volvo. On August 31st Nvidia and Baidu (BIDU) announced a partnership to make an autonomous car platform. Also today, the company announced a partnership with TomTom to develop artificial intelligence to create a cloud to car mapping system for self-driving cars.

Update 9/30/16: Bloomberg had a blurb earlier in the week saying Nvidia was hiring Apple engineers to work on new graphics for the Apple product line. Apple has always relied on imbedded Intel graphics chips but with the new demand of video editing and VR, that is no longer an option. They are going to have to upgrade to a more powerful video interface. That would be a big win for Nvidia and they would not be hiring Apple engineers unless there was some announcement coming.

Nvidia is the Intel of the future.

Position 9/19/16:

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

RGR - Sturm Ruger - Company Profile


FBI background checks rose from 1,853,815 in August to 1,992,219 in September. That was a 7.5% increase month to month. This compares to 1,795,102 in September 2015 or a +11% increase year over year. The data just came out and has not yet been picked up by the news services. Ruger shares declined -29 cents in the weak market.

Original Trade Description: September 27th.

We were stopped out of Ruger on a put position last week because shares appear to have bottomed on the escalation of rhetoric in the political campaign. Clinton is a rabid anti-gun politician and has even talked about gun confiscation like Australia did several years ago. She claims she is not anti-gun but no politician ever runs on that kind of platform. It is only after they get into office does their true feelings come out. Since Clinton has been in political over 30 years it is not hard to see what she has done in the past and read between the lines in this election year. Gun owners are not stupid. They realize a Clinton presidency and the Supreme Court appointments could dramatically change gun laws over the next four years. Every poll that shows Clinton gaining ground will send more buyers to gun stores and gun shows looking to add a couple of guns to their collection while they still can.

We are at the end of September and the FBI background checks will be released over the next few days. If they have risen as expected it will lift Ruger out of the 6-week decline.

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. August is typically a slow month for gun sales. The four best months of the year are September through December.

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 bottomed on September 20th at $54.41 and have risen to test $58 on Thursday in a bad market. Shares did decline at the close but only lost 13 cents. That is very good relative strength.

I am using the $60 strike instead of the $57.50 because it is cheaper and we will have less at risk if the FBI background checks are weak.

Position 9/30/16:

Long Nov $60 call @ $1.89, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

WDC - Western Digitial - Company Profile


RBC Capital raised the price target for WDC from $60 to $64 and reiterated an outperform rating. The analyst said earnings estimates for WDC are expected to continue climbing through the end of 2016.

Original Trade Description: September 26th.

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.

Update 9/27/16: Research company Cleveland Research said channel checks for WDC showed continued strong demand for the most common hard drives and a potential ramp in demand for the new 10TB Helium drive. There was also strong execution and pricing for NAND chips. Cleveland projected earnings of $6.60 in fiscal 2018 and a mid $70s stock price. Shares closed at $58 after a $1.85 gain.

The Helium 10TB drive is filled with helium instead of air. Helium is one-seventh the density of air and that allows the read/write heads to fly smoother and closer to the actual magnetic recording surface, contain more recording platters, consume less power and operate at a lower temperature. More than one million Helium drives have already been sold with a mean time between failure of 2.5 million hours. Quality is expensive with a $750 price tag.

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.

Position 9/27/16:

Long Nov $60 call @ $2.14, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

BEARISH Play Updates (Alpha by Symbol)

KR - Kroger Co - Company Profile


No specific news. Shares dropped to a new 2-year 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.

  Barclays said Kroger was facing its toughest pricing environment in 56 years. Heightened competition from Walmart and others has caused deflation in food prices.

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.

LULU - Lululemon Athletica - Company Profile


No specific news. Approaching support at $60 so I would expect some stagnation in the decline rate. Once under $60 shares should reach $55 rather quickly.

Original Trade Description: October 1st.

Lululemon athletica inc., designs, distributes, and retails athletic apparel and accessories for women, men, and female youth. It operates through two segments, Company-Operated Stores and Direct to Consumer. The company offers pants, shorts, tops, and jackets for healthy lifestyle and athletic activities, such as yoga and running; other sweaty pursuits; and athletic wear for female youth. It also provides fitness-related accessories, including bags, socks, underwear, yoga mats, and water bottles. The company sells its products through a chain of company-operated stores; outlets and warehouse sales; a network of wholesale channel, such as yoga studios, health clubs, and fitness centers; license and supply arrangements; and showrooms, as well as directly to consumer through lululemon.com and ivivva.com e-commerce sites. As of January 31, 2016, it operated 363 company-operated stores. Company description from FinViz.com.

Unfortunately for LULU the athleisure sector is seeing even more problems than the retail clothing sector in general. For Q2, the company reported earnings of 38 cents that matched estimates and revenue of $514.5 million that missed estimates slightly.

The bad news came from customer traffic and guidance. Same store sales fell to 5% compared to 5.9% estimates. LULU guided for Q3 earnings of 42-44 cents and analysts were expecting 44 cents. In the comparison quarter sales rose 17% thanks to new products And expanding menswear line. Unfortunately, consumers are no longer excited by the athleisure sector.

Mall shoppers are dwindling and LULU's high priced designer yoga apparel is too expensive for current consumer budgets. Abercrombie & Fitch, Gap, Macy's and Nordstrom's are all reporting declines in sales and closing stores. Everyone is fighting for that last consumer dollar and LULU is struggling to sell $100 yoga pants.

On Friday, Goldman Sachs cut its price target on LULU to $46 and reiterated a sell rating. The analyst believes the comps will decline to only 3% growth and full year earnings will drop to $2.28-$2.36 and analysts are expecting $2.51. He sees inventory turnover decelerating, weakening pricing power, slower traffic and slower online sales. The analyst expects LULU's core customer to branch out into less expensive competitive brands. Despite all the negatives LULU is still trading at a PE of 31 and far too high for the current outlook.

Earnings Dec 1st.

Shares crashed after the Q2 earnings to $66 where they held for three weeks. Multiple downgrades including the Goldman call last week have broken through that $66 support. Support from May is $60 and that is in danger of collapsing with $45 the next material target after a speed bump at $55.

Position 10/3/16:

Long Dec $60 put @ $3.40, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.
Short Dec $52.50 put @ $1.10, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.
Net debit $2.30

MBLY - Mobileye - Company Profile


No specific news. Still clinging to support.

Original Trade Description: September 27th.

Mobileye N.V., together with its subsidiaries, develops computer vision and machine learning, data analysis, and localization and mapping for advanced driver assistance systems and autonomous driving technologies primarily in Israel. It operates through two segments, Original Equipment Manufacturing and After Market. The company offers Roadbook, a localized drivable paths and visual landmarks using its proprietary REM technology through crowd sourcing; and proprietary software algorithms and EyeQ chips that perform detailed interpretations of the visual field to anticipate possible collisions with other vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists, animals, debris, and other obstacles. Its products also detect roadway markings, such as lanes and road boundaries, as well as barriers and related items; and identify and read traffic signs, directional signs, and traffic lights. In addition, the company provides enhanced cruise control, pre-lighting of brake lights, and Bluetooth connectivity, as well as related smartphone application. It serves original equipment manufacturers, tier 1 system integrators, fleets and fleet management systems providers, insurance companies, leasing companies, and others through distributors and resellers. Mobileye N.V. was founded in 1999. Company description from FinViz.com.

Mobileye was kicked to the curb by Tesla because their camera technology was not precise enough and was subject to errors from things like lightning flash, rain storms, fog and oncoming headlights. Analysts claim the location accuracy needs to be within 1.5 centimeters or about 0.6 inches. While I do not understand the need to be precise to within half an inch I would expect that to be on near objects with the size miss widening if the objects are farther away. For instance, a rifle bullet that misses the target by half an inch at 10 feet would be 15 inches off target at 100 yards. When your car is traveling at 60 mph any miss of that size could be an immediate challenge as in a car coming towards you in two-way traffic.

Tesla also said they were hard to work with because the company demanded all the sensor data received from their cameras could only be used by Mobileye. That would be like Intel claiming all the data on your PC belonged to them because the PC had an Intel processor.

Multiple car manufacturers including Tesla, Ford and Volvo have now moved away from Mobileye technology. The company replacing them is Nvidia with their Drive PX2 technology. Uber is now using an off the shelf camera that costs only $1 and image processing is done in the onboard computer.

Trip Chowdhry of Global Equities Research said the stock is worth $10 today but remains hyper inflated because it was an early leader in the mobile technology. He expects the stock to collapse within 6-8 months as more investors realize the company is being left behind.

Earnings Nov 3rd.

Shares have been falling from their high of $50 as the heated words between Tesla and Mobileye increase. When Mobileye learned it was being replaced they tried to stop Tesla from developing their own system and immediately halted any support for previously installed systems.

Position 9/28/16:

Long Nov $40 put @ $2.08, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

SIG - Signet Jewelers - Company Profile


No specific news. Minor rebound from Thursday's 3-year low.

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


The VXX was down in a weak market. That tells us there are new VXX lows in our future.

This is a long-term position and I will not be commenting on it on a daily basis. There is no news on the VXX since it is not a company.

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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