Option Investor

Daily Newsletter, Thursday, 10/27/2016

Table of Contents

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

Market Wrap

Decent Earnings, Weak Market

by Thomas Hughes

Click here to email Thomas Hughes


Despite a raft of positive earnings reports the indices continue to tread water. Early morning action included a number of earnings beats along with positive economic data that helped to support the market but support it is about all that it did. Today's action was yet another day of listless, directionless, sideways consolidation within the recent ranges and it doesn't look like tomorrow will be any different. There was a fair amount of after hours action though, earnings from Google and others, so I do expect to see some big moves in individual stocks if not in the indices themselves.

International markets were a bit mixed as well. Asian indices fell for the most part, about -0.50% on average, as weakness in oil prices pressured the market lower. European indices were just as choppy by closed mixed with indices hovering around the break-even line.

Market Statistics

Early morning action saw futures rise, indicating a slightly positive open for the US market. These levels held throughout the morning as earnings and economic data was released. The indices opened with small gains across the board but, also across the board, began to fall within the first 5 minutes of trading. By 10:15 most had fallen below break even, led by the SPX -0.25% decline, and proceeded to move sideways from there. A small rally was able to form, just before noon, and drove the indices back to just above break-even but not much higher. These levels held for about a half hour until they fell back to just below break even. Sidewinding continued for most of the afternoon until about 3:15 when the indices (most of them) fell back to the low of the day.

Economic Calendar

The Economy

Economic data leads off with initial jobless claims which fell -3,000, better than expected, to hit 258,000. The previous week's figure was revised up by 1,000, the four week moving average came in at 253,000, a gain of 1,000 from last week's revised number. This makes the 86th week of claims below 300,000, the longest streak since 1970. On a not adjusted basis claims rose by 1% versus an expected rise of 2.2% and are down -3.7% year over year. In terms of labor trends, this data remains consistent with ongoing labor market health.

Continuing claims fell by -15,000 to hit 2.039 million, the lowest level for this metric since June of 2000. The four week moving average of continuing claims also fell, by -6,250, to hit 2.051 million, the lowest level for this metric since July of 2000. Continuing claims is a long term down trend and making new lows, consistent with ongoing labor market health and improvements.

The total number of Americans claiming unemployment benefits fell by -3,202 to hit 1.744 million, a new long term low. The decline is as expected, consistent with long term labor market improvements and seasonal trends. The rate of decline has slowed noticeably this week, there may be only another week if that until this metric bottoms out. The next seasonal move here will likely be an uptick in claims that lasts into the first part of next year, the key to watch for will be the peak which should top out in the 2.667 million range.

Durable Goods orders data was released at 8:30AM as well. The headline decline of -0.1%, the first decline in 3 months, offset by more positive internal data. Ex-transportation orders climbed +0.2%, ex-defense up +0.7%. Shipments gained 0.8%, driven by transportation, the 5 month of increase in the last 6. Unfilled orders fell however, clearing some of the back log, led again by transportation and the 5th month of decline. Inventories are up 0.1% on increases in machinery. Capital goods orders are up also, 1.5%, with a 2.2% increase in shipments. August data was revised higher.

Pending Home Sales data was released at 10AM and came in more than double the expectation, up 1.5%. The index came in at 110 and is up 2.4% year over year, the 22nd out of 25 months of year over year increases. Sales were strongest in the west, followed by the south, driven by strong demand. Lawrence Yun, NAR economist, says low inventory persists and may continue to drag on sales and lift prices.

The Dollar Index

The Dollar Index firmed on today's data, rising near 0.3% to close at a new 9 month high. Today's action is a move up from the $98.65 support level, tested over the past few days, and signals a likely continuation of the near term up trend. The indicators have weakened somewhat, consistent with a possible top or consolidation, but have not yet signaled reversal. Positive GDP data tomorrow, strong data next week, and FOMC outlook could easily spark another wave of upside momentum. Next upside target is near the $100.50 level, a full retracement of the first-half-2016 bear market. If support fails, at the $98.65 level, the index may find support at $98.

The Oil Index

Oil prices were choppy in the early part of the day, up to and until a new rumor hit the market. The latest news, cited as coming only from a "source", alleges that OPEC told Russia it is willing to cut its production levels as much as 4% from the cap imposed last month. If true it could help alleviate over supply conditions but more than likely not as 4% only brings the target OPEC output to 31.25 million barrels a month, the level at which OPEC first proposed to freeze production. WTI gained a little more than 1.5% to trade up to and test resistance at the $50 level. In the near term rumors, hopes and news may help support prices, longer term the supply/demand situation remains skewed toward supply.

The Oil Index rose about 0.75% in today's action but remains constrained by resistance. The index is trading at/near the top of a 7 month trading range and does not look like it wants to break out. This may change by tomorrow however as reports from Exxon, Phillips 66 and Chevron are on tap. If today's report from ConnocoPhillips is any indication the reports should be good. The caveat is that Connoco reported an increase in production that doesn't bode well for forward oil prices.

The Gold Index

Gold prices held steady in today's session despite a rising dollar. Physical demand driven by festival demand in India is helping to support prices. Spot gold held near the flat line in a choppy session, just above $1,265, and may remain trapped in a narrow range for the next 4 trading days, until next Wednesday and the FOMC meeting.

The gold miners came under pressure again today as low gold prices hurts forward outlook. Some of the miners have reported, decently, but with spot prices off their most recent highs by 5% next quarter and next year earnings growth is questionable. The miners ETF GDX fell nearly -2% in today's session, moving down from the short term moving average, and set a new 2 week low beneath the 38.2% retracement level and support target. The indicators are retreating from a peak, consistent with a test of resistance within the near term down trend, and may lead the ETF down to retest support near $22.50. A break below this level would be bearish and could take the index down to $20 or lower.

In The News, Story Stocks and Earnings

Today was the busiest day of the Q3 earnings cycle with dozens of reports before and after the bell. Early morning news was dominated by reports by ConnocoPhillips, Tesla and Twitter among others. ConnocoPhillips reported an adjusted net loss of -$0.66, slightly better than expected and better than last year. Results were driven by cost efficiencies, a reduction in capex and the rebound in oil prices. Full year guidance is positive, production outlook was raised while capex was lowered, which helped lift the stock nearly 6.5%. In terms of forward earnings outlook the energy sector is expected to lead the market next year with YOY growth in excess of 300%.

Tesla reported earnings after the bell yesterday and was the subject of much discussion today. The company reported what looked to be a decent report, they posted a profit, but details within have left many analysts less than bullish. There is concern over the Model 3 launch slated for next year as well as the efficacy of the Solar City merger. Another concern is that this quarters results are due more to balance sheet manipulation than true strength in sales. Shares gapped up in the overnight session, opening this morning with a gain of 5%, only to sell off during the session on 5X average daily volume.

Twitter reported before the bell and beat by a penny. The bad news is that the company still posted a loss. CEO Jack Dorsey says the product is "revolutionary" but I and most of the market says, so what? They still haven't found a way to really monetize their traffic and the user base is just too small. Shares of the stock did more higher on the news, about 3%, but sold off during the day leaving them flat for the day and the week. At best I think Twitter a takeover target but based on recent activity it looks like nobody really wants to buy it.

After hours earnings action was quite busy and delivered a mixed bag of results.

Amazon missed earnings expectations by a large margin on revenue slightly above forecast. The company announced that sales were up 29% along with more than 3 dozen new product features launched during the quarter. Forward guidance is calling for a 17% to 27% increase in the next quarter, slightly below expectations. Shares of the stock fell -5% on the news.

ABC, parent of Google, beat on the top and bottom lines, barely, and announced a $7 billion stock buy back plan.

Expedia missed on the bottom line but beat revenue expectations, both down from the same period last year. The bad news is that bookings were light although next quarter outlook is promising. Shares of the stock were a bit volatile following the news but eventually move up by more than 6%.

LinkedIn beat EPS and revenue estimates smartly. The street was calling for EPS near $0.80, actual is $1.18. The strength is driven by a 23% increase in total revenue, an 18% increase in members and a 26% increase in marketing revenue. Shares of the stock moved up marginally in the after hours.

The Indices

Today's action was nothing more than a continuation of recent trading ranges. For the most part price action was to the down side, led by the NASDAQ Composite, but not all indices posted a loss. The Dow Jones Transportation Average closed with a gain near 0.6%, closing above the short term moving average. Despite this gain the index remains firmly trapped within its 8 month trading range and does not look like it is ready to break out. The indices continue to weaken indicating a possible move lower to test for support. If the index does move lower the bottom of the range is near 7,750 although support may be reached before then. The top of the range is near 8,150.

The tech heavy NASDAQ Composite fell about -0.65%, dropping from the short term moving average and closing just below my near term support target at the previous all time high. Today's candle is a medium size black candle confirming downward bias within the near term trading range. The indicators are mixed but remain consistent with range bound trading so it doesn't look like any kind of strong move is gearing up. If the index continues lower it may find support at 5,150 or 5,100, if not a move down 5,000 is possible.

The S&P 500 closed with a loss of -0.30%, creating a smallish black bodied candled. Today's action was light but moved down from the short term moving average and looks like it will continue downward to test support at the bottom of the trading range. The indicators are mixed as to direction but firmly consistent with range bound trading so a move below the bottom of the range does not look likely at this time. Support target is 2,120 and will likely hold into the near term.

The blue chip Dow Jones Industrial Average closed with a loss near -0.16%, creating a small black bodied candle within a very narrow trading range. Today's action moved down from the short term moving average but does not look like it will move much lower. The range has been holding for many weeks and will likely continue to hold at least until the FOMC meeting and more likely until the election in 2 weeks. The indicators remain consistent with range bound trading and support this view. A break outside of the range, when it comes, may be strong and likely lead to a pronounced market movement into the end of the year.

The market remains range bound. We are approaching the end of the 8th week of range bound trading, a period which began at the start of the fall trading season and likely to end with the election, if not with the FOMC meeting. Where the market goes from here is hard to say but based on economic trends, current quarter earnings, next quarter and next year earnings outlook if there is a pull back, dip to support, correction or other bear market activity it will most probably be another buy-on-the-dip opportunity within a larger, secular, bull market. I remain cautious in the near term, FOMC and election risk force me to, but I see the makings of a great rally in the works so am bullish for the longer term.

Until then, remember the trend!

Thomas Hughes

New Option Plays

Trading Rationally

by Jim Brown

Click here to email Jim Brown

Editors Note:

Many times, we have to look through the fog of war that envelops the market and make a rational decision. Tonight is one of those times. In the play update section I outlined the collapse in the Russell 2000 well below critical support, which is a screaming sell signal. However, the S&P and Nasdaq futures are strongly positive in the overnight session. I believe we are going to see a potential window dressing short squeeze at the open or else the futures are going to reverse overnight and follow the Russell 2000 lower. Regardless of what happens, the odds for a volatile and unpredictable Friday are very high. I am passing on adding any new positions today. There is no reason to jump into an irrational and potentially volatile market.


No New Bullish Plays


No New Bearish Plays

In Play Updates and Reviews

Investor Confusion

by Jim Brown

Click here to email Jim Brown

Editors Note:

The Dow failed at the 18,250 resistance once again but it also failed to retest support at 18,100. The Russell 2000 is screaming sell. The Dow remained in its recent range between 18100-18250 but the Nasdaq has now given back all its gains for the week and the Russell 2000 imploded.

The big caps in the Dow managed to hold on to only a minor decline but this may be temporary. The Nasdaq sank to an 8-day low but the biggest problem was the collapse in the small caps. The Russell 2000 closed well below critical support at 1,200 to post a -1.2% decline. That is the third consecutive day the Russell has posted a decline in the 1% range. The failure of that support is a screaming sell signal but the overnight futures are saying the opposite. The S&P futures have been up +5 points for most of the session and remain stubbornly over the 100-day EM average. The futures are telling us there may be a short squeeze at the open on Friday.

Amazon missed estimates on earnings an fell to $770 from the $818 close. That should be negative for the Nasdaq but the Nasdaq futures are up +13. I looked at all the afterhours gains and while there are several stocks with $3-$5 gains there are others with equal losses. I do not see the reason for the Nasdaq futures to be strongly positive.

The only answer I can come up with is now that GOOGL, AMZN, EXPE and AMGN earnings are over, portfolio managers may be preparing to load up on window dressing stocks on Friday. Time will tell.

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

BIG - Big Lots

The long put position was entered at the open.

QQQ - Nasdaq 100 ETF

The long call position was stopped out in the market decline.

SWHC - Smith & Wesson

The long call position was stopped out on a change in poll numbers.

WOR - Worthington Industries

The long call position was stopped out in the market decline.

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

COST - Costco - Company Profile


No specific news. Only a 12-cent decline in a weak market. Good relative strength.

Original Trade Description: October 4th.

Costco Wholesale Corporation, together with its subsidiaries, operates membership warehouses. The company offers branded and private-label products in a range of merchandise categories. It provides dry and institutionally packaged foods; snack foods, candy, tobacco, alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages, and cleaning and institutional supplies; appliances, electronics, health and beauty aids, hardware, and garden and patio; meat, bakery, deli, and produce; and apparel and small appliances. The company also operates gas stations, pharmacies, food courts, optical dispensing centers, photo processing centers, and hearing-aid centers; and engages in the travel business. In addition, it provides gold star (individual) and business membership services. As of October 29, 2015, it operated 690 warehouses. Company description from FinViz.com.

Costco reported earnings last week of $1.77 compared to estimates for $1.73. Revenue of $36.56 billion barely missed estimates for $36.81 billion. Same store sales, excluding gasoline, rose 2% in the USA, +5% in Canada and +1% internationally. Overall sales rose +3%.

For the full year same store sales were up +4%. Membership fees rose from $785 million to $832 million. The company said some of its increased profitability came from the lower fees it was paying to Visa compared to the prior payments to American Express. There were initial problems in the conversion and some customers were angered leading to weaker sales in the prior two quarters. That is now over and customers are coming back.

The earnings were Friday and shares spiked to $154 on the news. Post earnings depression appeared along with a weak market over the last two days. I believe Costco will rebound into Black Friday because this is the strongest quarter. They typically sink into the September earnings and then rally into December.

The plan is to buy calls now and exit around Black Friday. The December calls are cheap and any rally should lift the stock back to $160-$165. I am not putting a stop loss on this position because of the potential for market volatility over the next two weeks.

Position 10/5/16:

Long Dec $155 call @ $2.76, no stop loss.

DISH - Dish Networks - Company Profile


No specific news. Good relative strength.

Original Trade Description: October 3rd.

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.

Position 10/4/16

Long Nov $57.50 call @ $2.43, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

HON - Honeywell - Company Profile


No specific news. Company is presenting at a Goldman Sachs conference on Nov 3rd.

Original Trade Description: October 15th.

Honeywell International Inc. operates as a diversified technology and manufacturing company worldwide. Its Aerospace segment offers aircraft engines, integrated avionics, systems and service solutions, and related products and services for aircraft manufacturers and operators, airlines, military services, and defense and space contractors, as well as spare parts, and repair and maintenance services for the aftermarket. This segment also provides auxiliary power units; propulsion engines; environmental control, connectivity, electric power, flight safety, communication, navigation, radar, surveillance, and thermal systems; engine controls; aircraft lighting products, as well as wheels and brakes; advanced systems and instruments; and turbochargers, as well as management, technical, logistics, repair, and overhaul services to original equipment manufacturers in the air transport, regional, business, and general aviation aircraft; and automotive and truck manufacturers. The company's Home and Building Technologies segment offers environmental and energy, security and fire, and building solutions. Its Safety and Productivity Solutions segment provides sensing and productivity Solutions, and industrial safety products. Its Performance Materials and Technologies segment provides catalysts and adsorbents; equipment and consulting services for the petroleum refining, gas processing, petrochemical, and other industries; and automation control, instrumentation, software, and services for the oil and gas, refining, pulp and paper, industrial power generation, chemicals and petrochemicals, biofuels, life sciences, metals, minerals, and mining industries. Company description from FinViz.com.

On Oct 7th, Honeywell shares collapsed from $116 to $105 after the CEO warned that profits would be below guidance and they lowered guidance for the rest of 2016. The CFO said on the conference call, "In the third quarter, we continued to see slow growth across much of our portfolio." Declines in the emerging markets and the oil industry have crimped demand for business aircraft and helicopters, hurting Honeywell's unit that sells jet engines, cockpit controls and aerospace parts.

The company preannounced earnings of $1.60 compared to prior guidance of $1.67-$1.72. For the full year they lowered their forecast by 6 cents to $6.64 per share. The company is in the middle of a reorganization process that will increase profits in the future.

After the stock was crushed by the warning, the CEO appeared on CNBC and said the warning was not received in the way he thought it would be. "I gave credit for people understanding what our long-term profile was. I was wrong. I could have done a significantly better job of communicating this story. We tried to do it in the context of 2017 is going to be good, but it seemed to get totally lost" in the headlines.

The CEO went on to explain that the hiccup in Q3 was minor in the bigger picture given the businesses they just sold in September and the organizational restructuring currently in progress. They only cut full year earnings by 6 cents and will still produce earnings of $6.64 or better. Also the changes in progress will allow Honeywell to grow earnings by 10% or more in 2017. That adds another 66 cents or more to an already robust earnings picture.

He said he was "astounded by the reaction" to the minor cut in earnings. He went on to say that while the business jet business was lagging, the aerospace business was still doing well and should not have been lumped into the warning. He also said the energy business had bottomed in Q3 and would be improving in Q4.

Basically the CEO took a giant step by going on CNBC and saying he was wrong in how the lowered earnings estimates were portrayed and he did a good job of explaining that the weakness was much narrower than presented and the outlook for 2017 was outstanding.

Shares spiked on the news but faded slightly into the close as the market faded. Their formal earnings will be on Oct 21st and I am sure they will take great pains to present a rosy picture.

I am recommending a December call to get us through what is normally the best six weeks in the market. We will hold over those Oct 21st earnings.

Update 10/21/16: Honeywell reported earnings of $1.67 that beat estimates for $1.60. Revenue of $9.8 billion also beat estimates for $9.77 billion. They guided for the current quarter to earnings in the range of $1.74-$1.78 and analysts were expecting $1.75.

Position 10/17/16:

Long Dec $110 call @ $2.51, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

LB - L Brands - Company Profile


No material movement. The company will host an investor day on November 1st and everyone can listen/watch on the LB.com website.

Original Trade Description: October 24th.

L Brands, Inc. operates as a specialty retailer of women's intimate and other apparel, beauty and personal care products, and accessories. The company operates in three segments: Victoria's Secret, Bath & Body Works, and Victoria's Secret and Bath & Body Works International. Its products include loungewear, bras, panties, swimwear, athletic attire, fragrances, shower gels and lotions, aromatherapy, soaps and sanitizers, home fragrances, handbags, jewelry, and personal care accessories. The company offers its products under the Victoria's Secret, Pink, Bath & Body Works, La Senza, Henri Bendel, C.O. Bigelow, White Barn Candle Company, and other brand names. L Brands, Inc. sells its merchandise through company-owned specialty retail stores in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, which are primarily mall-based; through its Websites; and through franchises, licenses, and wholesale partners. As of January 31, 2016, the company operated 2,721 retail stores in the United States; 270 retail stores in Canada; and 14 retail stores in the United Kingdom. It also operated 221 La Senza stores in 29 countries; 125 Bath & Body Works stores in 30 countries; 19 Victoria's Secret stores in 7 Middle Eastern countries; and 373 Victoria's Secret Beauty and Accessories stores, and various small-format locations in approximately 75 countries. Company description from FinViz.com.

In early October LB said same store sales for the five weeks ended on Oct 1st, rose 3% and beat expectations. Total net sales for September rose $971.4 million. Same store sales were flat at Victoria Secret but rose 9% at Bath& Body Works.

The company said they are emphasizing pink active bras and the sports collection for October. They guided for comps to increase in the low-single digits for October.

With analysts expecting a decent earnings report on November 16th and shares rising, we could see a decent gain over the next three weeks. Resistance is $73.50 and again at $75.

This is a short-term play and we will try to get in and out quickly. I am using the December strike so there will be some earnings expectation premium left when we exit.

Somebody recently bought 2,300 November $75 calls for as much as $1.80. That is a pretty expensive bet that shares will rise.

Position 10/25/16:

Long Dec $75 call @ $1.65, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

NVDA - Nvidia - Company Profile


Last week we learned that Tesla would be using Nvidia's self driving chips in all future cars. This week Nvidia said they would be providing the complete Drive PX 2 chipsets so revenue per car could be in the $800-$1000 range.

Shares gave back $1.50 today but it was purely market related.

Original Trade Description: October 19th.

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.

On September 28th, 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.

On October 3rd, 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.

Update 10/20/16: Tesla announced the decision to equip all new cars with complete self driving hardware and technological components. Nvidia is the chosen partner to provide the Drive PX chipsets, which retail for $250-$300 each. If Tesla goes with the super high performance Titan GPU at $1,200 each that would equate to $1 billion a year in revenue for Tesla.

Update 10/27/16: Nvidia said they would be providing the complete Drive PX 2 chipsets so revenue per car could be in the $800-$1000 range.

  Microsoft announced a new Windows 10 Surface Studio that includes a desktop PC and 28 inch ultra-high resolution monitor powered by Nvidia graphics chips.

Nvidia is the Intel of the future.

Nvidia shares have been stair-stepping higher since January. They peaked at $69.70 on October 4th. When the stock rolled over on the 6th we were stopped out of a prior position. Nvidia has a habit of surging $5-$7 then resting for a couple weeks. The decline from the October 4th peak touched $63.70 on the 13th and shares have been moving sideways with a slight upward bias. I think they could be getting ready for another move higher as we head into earnings.

I am a firm believer that Nvidia will beat on earnings. I am going to recommend that we hold over the event but I will give everyone fair warning a couple days before so you can make your own decision.

Position 10/20/16:

Long Dec $70 call @ $2.90, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

QQQ - Powershares QQQ ETF - ETF Profile


The NDX/QQQ gave back their gains for the week to stop us out at $117.85. The anticipated window dressing by portfolio managers has failed to appear.

Original Trade Description: October 17th.

PowerShares QQQ, formerly known as "QQQ" or the "NASDAQ- 100 Index Tracking Stock", is an exchange-traded fund based on the Nasdaq-100 Index. The Fund will, under most circumstances, consist of all of stocks in the Index. The Index includes 100 of the largest domestic and international nonfinancial companies listed on the Nasdaq Stock Market based on market capitalization.

The QQQ dipped to support at $116 on Thursday. Shares rebounded in the Friday short squeeze but closed at the lows for the day. On Monday the ETF faded with the market ahead of earnings from IBM and Netflix. After the Netflix earnings, the QQQ traded up slightly in afterhours.

Of all the companies reporting over the next couple weeks the tech sector has the best chance of posting positive earnings. That should make the Nasdaq/QQQ a little stronger than the broader market.

While there is no guarantee the market will follow traditional seasonal trends, Monday was the first day of the six best weeks of Q4 in normal years. End of fiscal year window dressing by funds occurs between now and the year end on October 31st. There is a possibility the election could damage this normal seasonal cycle if portfolio managers are too confused to know how to invest depending on which candidate wins Wednesday's debate.

If that is the case, the most likely action will be for managers to throw all their excess cash into big cap tech stocks as a way to be fully invested but also have limited risk. They can exit those positions quickly once we are in November.

This is a play on the expected relative strength of big cap tech stocks over the next six weeks.

Position 10/18/16 with a QQQ trade at $117.50

Closed 10/27/16: Long Dec $119 call @ $2.54. Exit $2.01, -.53 loss

SWHC - Smith & Wesson - Company Profile


No specific news. New USA poll had Trump up by 2 points. Gun stocks were hit and we were stopped out for a 20 cent loss.

Original Trade Description: October 18th.

Smith & Wesson Holding Corporation manufactures and sells firearm products and accessories. The company operates in two segments, Firearms and Accessories. It offers handguns, including revolvers and pistols; long guns, such as sporting, bolt action, and single shot rifles; hunting rifles; black powder firearms; handcuffs and restraints; and firearm-related products and accessories. The company also provides accessories, such as reloading, gunsmithing tools, gun cleaning supplies, tree saws, shooting and field rests, gun vises, hearing protection, ammo tumblers, and vault accessories. It sells its products under the Smith & Wesson, M&P, Thompson/Center Arms, Caldwell Shooting Supplies, Wheeler Engineering, Tipton Gun Cleaning Supplies, Frankford Arsenal Reloading Tools, Lockdown Vault Accessories, Hooyman Premium Tree Saws, BOG-POD, and Golden Rod Moisture Control brands. In addition, the company engages in selling parts of other brands; operates a private law enforcement training facility. It serves gun enthusiasts; collectors; hunters; sportsmen; competitive shooters; individuals desiring home and personal protection; law enforcement and security agencies and officers; and military agencies. The company markets products through independent dealers, large retailers, in-store retail channels, and range operations utilizing consumer-focused product marketing and promotional campaigns; social and electronic media; and in-store retail merchandising systems and strategies. It also operates Websites; and online retail stores that sells hunting and shooting accessories, branded products, apparel, and related shooting supplies. Company description from FinViz.com.

I have written about Clintons potential attacks on firearms and gun owners multiple times. She has pledged to issue an executive order implementing various types of gun control in her first 100 days in office. She has also vowed to nominate antigun judges to the Supreme Court in an effort to rewrite firearms laws as cases are presented to the court. She wants to restrict purchases, eliminate concealed carry, close gun shows, eliminate quantity purchases of ammo and ban modern sporting rifles, etc.

Since Clinton surged in the polls on Trump's Access Hollywood comments, gun manufacturers shares have found a bottom and begun to rise again. The closer we get to the election the more the firearms issues will be in the press. If she is elected there will be a flood of purchasers rushing to acquire guns before she can issue her executive order.

Earnings December 1st.

  Gun stores are starting to advertise their "Pre Hillary" sales. Link

I am going out to January on this option and if she is elected, we will hold over the December earnings because guidance should be off the chart.

Position 10/19/16

Closed 10/27/16: Long Jan $28 call @ $1.35, exit $1.15, -.20 loss.

WOR - Worthington Industries - Company Profile


No specific news. A victim of the small cap crash. We were stopped out at $47.25 for an 85 cent loss.

Original Trade Description: October 12th.

Worthington Industries is a leading global diversified metals manufacturing company with 2016 fiscal year sales of $2.8 billion. Headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, Worthington is North America's premier value-added steel processor providing customers with wide ranging capabilities, products and services for a variety of markets including automotive, construction and agriculture; a global leader in manufacturing pressure cylinders for industrial gas and cryogenic applications, CNG and LNG storage, Cryogenic transportation and storage and alternative fuel tanks, oil and gas equipment, and consumer products for camping, grilling, hand torch solutions and helium balloon kits; and a manufacturer of operator cabs for heavy mobile industrial equipment; laser welded blanks for light weighting applications; automotive racking solutions; and through joint ventures, complete ceiling grid solutions; automotive tooling and stampings; and steel framing for commercial construction. Worthington employs approximately 10,000 people and operates 80 facilities in 11 countries.

Worthington is a "value added" steel processing company. To put that into english it means they take steel and form it into products they can sell. They do not make the steel, they just turn it into something useful. Between 2009 and 2015 they acquired 18 companies, each with a special niche in the market, in order to broaden their product offerings and increase the size of their customer base.

As steel prices strengthen, the products Worthington makes will become more valuable and their product margins will increase. In a commodity market where the raw material is cheap, every product made from that material is also under price pressures. The growth in global auto sales is good for Worthington as is the growth in the aircraft industry, ship building, energy, construction and manufacturing of all types that requires steel parts.

In their recent quarterly earnings they reported $1.03 per share and easily beating estimates for 77 cents. Revenue declined -3% to $737.5 million and missed estimates for $742.8 million. They blamed the weaker revenue on the weak oil and gas sector. Shares spiked 8% on the news despite the revenue miss.

Earnings Dec 28th.

Shares have moved sideways with a minor uptrend bias since the Sept 28th earnings spike. After two weeks of consolidation, they should be ready to start a new leg higher, market permitting.

Position 10/13/16:

Long Dec $50 call @ $2.05, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

BEARISH Play Updates (Alpha by Symbol)

BIG - Big Lots - Company Profile


No specific news. Decent drop on the first day for this position.

Original Trade Description: October 26th.

Big Lots, Inc., operates as a non-traditional, discount retailer in the United States. The company offers products under various merchandising categories, such as food category that includes beverage and grocery, candy and snacks, and specialty foods departments; consumables category, which comprises health and beauty, plastics, paper, chemical, and pet departments; soft home category that consists of home decor, frames, fashion bedding, utility bedding, bath, window, decorative textile, and area rugs departments; hard home category, including small appliances, table top, food preparation, stationery, greeting cards, and home maintenance departments; and furniture category consisting of upholstery, mattress, ready-to-assemble, and case goods departments. It also provides merchandise under the seasonal category that includes lawn and garden, summer, Christmas, toys, and other holiday departments; and electronics and accessories category, including electronics, jewelry, hosiery, and infant accessories departments. The company operates 1,449 stores in 47 states. Company description from FinViz.com.

For Q2, the company reported earnings of 52 cents compared to estimates for 45 cents. Revenue of $1.2 billion missed estimates for $1.22 billion. For the current quarter they guided for a profit of 1 cent to a loss of 4 cents. That is not exactly a stellar performance.

Revenue growth in Q2 slowed from the 3% in Q1 quarter to a -0.5% decline in Q2. Same store sales only rose +0.3%. Big Lots warned Q4 comps would be "flattish" and leaving the door open for a decline. They revised down full year revenue guidance to only 1-2% growth. The admitted online sales were only about 4% of the total and there was limited inventory online. That is not what investors wanted to hear.

Earnings Dec 2nd.

Shares collapsed to plateau about $47 in September. In October that plateau declined to $44.50 and this week that level has now broken. With the market weakening there is less tolerance for companies that are not performing. Shares are near a 9-month low.

Position 10/27/16:

Long December $42.50 put @ $2.10, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

VXX - VIX Futures ETF - Company Profile


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.

YHOO - Yahoo - Company Profile


No specific news. Constant rehash of the Yahoo EVP comments from earlier in the week. Shares now testing support.

Original Trade Description: October 15th.

Yahoo! Inc., provides search and display advertising services on Yahoo properties and affiliate sites worldwide. The company offers Yahoo Search that serves as a guide for users to discover information on the Internet; Yahoo Mail, which connects users to the people and content; and Yahoo Messenger, an instant messaging service, which enables users to connect, communicate, and share experiences in real-time. It also provides digital content products, including Yahoo News, which gives users to discover, consume, and engage around the news, content, and video; Yahoo Sports, which serves audiences of sports enthusiasts; Yahoo Finance that offers a range of financial data, information, and tools; Yahoo Lifestyle to engage users passionate about style and fashion; and Tumblr, which provides a Web platform and mobile applications on iOS and android to create, share, and curate content, as well as Tumblr messaging that enables users to engage with other users that share their same interests and passions. Company description from FinViz.com.

After a lengthy process Yahoo agreed to be bought by Verizon for $4.8 billion. However, after the deal was done, Yahoo announced it had a serious cyberattack with data from over 500 million users stolen. This was not told to the potential buyers during the bidding process. The bidders were told there had been various attacks over the years but it was presented as a routine event that all online websites have to fight.

When it was disclosed a couple months ago that the attack happened in 2014 and involved more than 500 million accounts, that caused Verizon to take a second look and they are currently trying to decide on whether to back out of the deal or offer something significantly less. There are multiple class action suits against Yahoo for not guarding customer information. With 500 million accounts, even a $20 per account fine or settlement would cost them $10 billion and more than twice what Verizon agreed to pay. The announcement of the attack constitutes a material adverse change or MAC that allows Verizon to walk with no penalty.

On Friday, Yahoo announced they were not going to hold a conference call or the normal webcast of the earnings after the close on Tuesday because of the intense discussions with Verizon.

I view the odds of a Verizon backing out of the deal as very high. They were already paying about $1 billion more than the next highest offer. Now they are faced with potentially inheriting a $10 billion problem if they conclude the deal. Even if it was only $5 billion or even $2 billion, it makes the deal very uneconomical.

If Verizon walks, Yahoo shares will return to $30 or lower very quickly because nobody else is going to step up and assume that liability either. It would mean Yahoo will have to go it alone and the stock could be trashed.

Update 10/18/16: Yahoo reported revenue that fell -14% to $857 million. This is the fourth consecutive quarter that revenue has fallen more than 10%. They beat on earnings with 17 cents compared to estimates for 11 cents but did it on major cost cutting with the termination of 2,200 employees or one-fifth of its workforce. Verizon signaled last week it was reconsidering the acquisition because of the damage from the cyber attack. The decision to complete the deal or back out should be made over the next 2-3 weeks. Yahoo did not hold a conference call in order to avoid having to answer questions that might stir up more objections by Verizon.

Update 10/26/126: Verizon executive, Marni Walden, said Verizon was taking an in-depth look at how the Yahoo cyber attack occurred and what risk Verizon would have from continuing the acquisition. They would have an answer within 60 days. She said the deal still makes sense strategically BUT we have to be careful about what we do not know. The deal was tentatively still on track but the impact of the breach was "material" and still a big unknown. Use of the word material refers to a possible "material adverse change" or MAC clause in the contract that would allow Verizon to walk from the deal. With 500 million accounts hacked, a $20 fine on each account would be $10 billion and more than twice the $4.8 billion sales price.

This is a speculative position. We do not know what is going to happen or in what time frame. Do not enter this position with money you cannot afford to lose.

Position 10/17/16:

Long Jan $40 put @ $1.90. See portfolio graphic for stop loss.

If you like the trade setups you have been receiving and you are on a free trial then now is the time to subscribe. Don't wait until you miss a newsletter to decide you want to take the plunge.

subscribe now