Option Investor
Newsletter

Daily Newsletter, Saturday, 5/27/2017

Table of Contents

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

Market Wrap

Quiet Market

by Jim Brown

Click here to email Jim Brown

The Dow traded in only a 42-point range and the S&P in a 5-point range ahead of the holiday weekend.

Weekly Statistics

Friday Statistics

The S&P and Nasdaq succeeded in remaining positive and both made new closing highs. The Dow declined nearly 30 points intraday but rebounded to end with only a 2-point loss. Volume was very light at 5.2 billion shares. That was the lowest volume since December 29th.


The economic reports were about as lackluster as the market. The first GDP revision for Q1 was slightly better than the +0.7% growth in the first release. The revision raised that number to 1.15% thanks to a 1.85% contribution from fixed investments. Inventories removed -1.07% and government -.2%. Consumption contributed 0.44% but was way down from the 2.4% contribution in Q4. This is why retailers had such a bad Q1. Consumers were not consuming. Corporate profits declined -1.2% in Q1 after a +0.5% rise in Q4.


The Atlanta Fed real time GDPNow forecast for Q2 fell from 4.1% to 3.7% after the forecast for real residential investment growth declined from 8.3% to 3.1% because of the two housing reports last week. Both came in less than expected. Because this is a real time number, it vacillates with every economic report that impacts GDP. I am sure everyone would be happy with a 3.7% quarter but we have a long way to go before that number is finalized.


The Durable Goods Orders for April declined -0.7% after a +0.7% rise in March. This was the first decline in five months. Orders for core capital goods were flat and nondefense capital goods declined -1.9%. Total shipments declined -0.3%. This report was ignored.

The final consumer sentiment revision for May declined from 97.7 to 97.1 but that was still slightly better than the 97.0 in April. The present conditions component declined from 112.7 to 111.7 and the expectations component rose from 87.0 to 87.7. This report was about as lackluster as Friday's stock market. However, sentiment remains at its highest levels since before the financial crisis.


The economic calendar for the holiday-shortened week is very active. This is payroll week and the holiday pushed the ADP report to Thursday so the big numbers will be back to back this month with the Nonfarm Payrolls on Friday. The ISM Manufacturing Index is also on Thursday.

There are a lot of reports but those listed above are the most important. The Fed Beige Book on Wednesday is expected to say growth remains moderate. They are running out of ways to say "no change but the outlook is good."

President Trump returned to Washington on Saturday and he probably wishes he could spend a couple more weeks overseas. His return will put the Russian collusion headlines back in the news and his son in law, Jared Kushner, is going to be in the hot seat. Apparently, he met with the Russian ambassador and tried to organize some secret back channel communication method that could not be overheard by U.S. security agencies. This is just unsubstantiated headline fodder at present but he has said he would cooperate with the investigation. As President Trump's top adviser and family, it would be ugly if he has done something illegal with Russia. I am only reporting this here because we have gone a week without any presidential headlines impacting the market and that threat will be back next week.


The Q1 earnings cycle is over. There will be a few stragglers but very few. For Q1 earnings rose 15.4% with 489 S&P companies reporting. Of those there were 75.1% who beat on earnings and 62.5% that beat on revenue. There were 77 companies issuing negative guidance and 37 with positive guidance. The forward PE is now 17.9. Only 6 S&P companies report earnings this week.

Broadcom (AVGO) and Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) will be the most watched companies. Palo Alto Networks (PANW), Ciena (CIEN) and VMWare (VMW) will be the second string.


Big Lots (BIG) was the only major company reporting on Friday. They had earnings of $1.15 compared to estimates for $1.00. Revenue of $1.30 billion barely missed estimates for $1.31 billion. Same store sales fell -0.9% and missed estimates for an increase of +0.9%. They guided for full year earnings of $4.05-$4.20, up from $3.95-$4.10. They guided for Q2 earnings of 58-63 cents and analysts were expecting 57 cents. Shares rose 3% on the news.


The big stock moves came from earnings reporters after the close on Thursday. Veeva Systems (VEEV) reported earnings of 22 cents that beat estimates for 18 cents. Revenue of $157.9 million also beat. Shares spiked 8% on the news.


Ulta Beauty (ULTA) shares spiked 9% after reporting earnings of $1.91 that beat estimates for $1.79. Revenue of $1.31 billion beat estimates for $1.28 billion. Revenue guidance for Q2 was in line with analyst estimates at $1.27 billion. Shares completely erased their three declines from early in the week and closed at a new high.


Costco (COST) reported earnings of $1.59 that beat estimates for $1.30 and year ago earnings of $1.24. Revenue rose 8% to $28.22 billion. That missed estimates for $28.6 billion but shares rose anyway because of the strong earnings. Same store sales rose 5% compared to expectations for 4%. They just paid a $7 special dividend in May and that accounts for the drop in the stock price.


Marvel (MRVL) beat on earnings on Thursday and was upgraded by Oppenheimer from neutral to buy on Friday. Storage revenue rose to 53% of total and networking to 25% and expected to move higher with a "multitude of new products" hitting the market. Wireless revenue is expected to rise 30% with a new wave of technology being implemented.


Web.com (WEB) spiked 9% on Friday after a Reuters report they were buyout talks with private equity firms. Sector related domain name seller GoDaddy.com (GDDY) was also up. They have been seeking an acquirer ever since they went public. The activity in the private equity space is almost at a feeding frenzy with new rumors or deals announced every week. WEB has a market cap of only $1 billion and revenue rose from $543 million in 2015 to $710 million in 2016. That kind of early stage growth is attractive to PE firms.


I do not want my commentary to turn into the weekly update on Nvidia (NVDA) but they cannot stay out of the headlines. Recently Softbank bought a 4.9% stake worth $4.1 billion making them the 4th largest holder. News broke this week their new $100 billion Vision technology fund is thinking about increasing that stake. They said they would raise the stake over time and begin to work more closely with Nvidia on future developments. That prompted Nvidia to note in a regulatory filing that Microsoft has the right of first refusal to buy the shares if another company tries to acquire more than 30% of Nvidia. I do not think that was public knowledge or maybe everyone had just forgotten it. I looked up the top holders and Microsoft was not listed. The list is a who's who of big names. The top ten includes FMR, LLC, Vanguard Group, BlackRock, State Street, JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley.

Noted investor Louis Navellier said on Friday that Nvidia is going to $300 over the next couple of years because their technology is far ahead of Intel and Qualcomm. That would be more than a 100% gain from here.

I have had NVDA in the LEAPS Newsletter portfolio for a long time and I keep waiting for a decent pullback to add it to some other newsletters. Unfortunately, there has been no pullback. Options are so expensive you cannot just buy them outright.


Amazon is poised to beat Alphabet to the $1000 level after gaining $39 during the week. On Thursday, the stock topped at exactly $999 and on Friday at $998.65. Clearly, there are sellers waiting at that $999 level. GOOGL peaked at $996.39 on Friday so the race to $1,000 is neck and neck. Amazon's market cap is approaching $500 billion. Analysts now believe Amazon has more than 80 million Prime members and everything it is doing is geared to generating more Prime subscribers.

Amazon opened a brick and mortar bookstore in NYC but everyone that has been there called it a Prime Store. The only books for sale are best sellers or books rated 4 stars and above by Amazon customers that have read the book. They have a "page turner" section where books are ranked by how fast readers on a Kindle turn the pages signifying an interesting read. There is more space dedicated to the Echo, Kindles, Fire tablets, etc than there is for books. Amazon is trying to hook customers into their eco system where they will become long time customers. It will also propel Jeff Bezos into the position of the world's richest man.



While the U.S. markets have been wandering sideways over the last several months the overseas markets are on fire. The iShares Asia ETF (AIA) is up 26% since December. That low was on worries President Trump was going to enact harsh trade policies. As it became apparent that was not going to happen, the Asian market exploded higher. That was also the peak in the dollar. As the dollar declined on lowered expectations for policy action, it helped power the Asian markets.

The European markets are also soaring after the post election bottom. The Brexit is no longer expected to cause a major upheaval in European economics and the falling dollar has lifted those markets as well. The VGK ETF is also up 26% since the election.




OPEC announced they were going to extend the current production cuts through March 2018. The instant the Saudi Oil minister announced that to the press the oil market began to collapse. Crude prices fell -5% on Thursday because that news was already priced into the gains over the prior two weeks. Traders were hoping for deeper cuts and longer cuts, both of which had been teased by several ministers from OPEC countries over the prior week. It is dangerous to over promise and under deliver.

The production cuts are a good thing and they will succeed in reducing global inventories. Wood Mackenzie said at the current rate inventories are declining 700,000 bpd and global demand is expected to rise 1.2 million bpd in 2017. The combination of those two events over the next nine months is expected to bring reduce global inventories by more than 300 million barrels. Analysts believe we could see $60 oil in Q3/Q4 as the summer driving season helps to increase short-term demand.


The decline in oil prices in early May slowed the reactivation of rigs. Only 2 oil rigs were activated last week along with 5 gas rigs. The seven new rigs tied for the lowest per week since the 2 rigs on March 3rd. The week of May 5th also had 7 rig activations. Since the beginning of February, drillers have reactivated 196 rigs.


U.S. production rose 15,000 bpd last week to 9.32 million bpd and the highest level since the 8.428 million bpd low on July 1st last year. By the end of July, the U.S. will have added one million bpd in production and by year-end, we could reach a new peak over the 9.61 million bpd high set on June 5th, 2015.

Gasoline demand has been weak in 2017 but it could set a new record next week. Demand was 9.7 million bpd last week and the record was 9.815 million bpd on June 17th, last year. With mild temperatures and the holiday weekend driving, everyone should be going somewhere this weekend. There is a delay of one week in the EIA numbers below so this graphic is current as of the 19th.


Markets

The S&P closed at a new high for the second consecutive day. The 2,400 level that took so long to break through should now be support and a springboard for higher highs. The next material resistance is 2,435 and then 2,445. The S&P took three months to consolidate the post election gains and break through that 2,400 level first hit on March 1st. There is a saying in the trader community, "The wider the base, the higher in space." That means the longer the index/stock takes to consolidate and then finally break through a critical level the farther the breakout will go before failing.

The ideal situation would be for the S&P to pause and fall back to retest 2,400 as support and then rebound to make new highs again. That would give investors confidence in the rally and give them a chance to enter new long positions.

You may remember my constant warning from late April about filling gaps. The larger the gap the more likely they are to be filled. Note that the dip the prior week completely filled the short squeeze gaps from April 24/25th. Gaps are almost always filled.


The Dow did not post a gain on Friday but more importantly, it held the gains from Thursday that propelled it well over 21,000. The index is only 35 points away from a new closing high and that could come at any time. Support is well back at 20,900 and once over the prior high at 21,115 it will be in blue-sky territory.



The Nasdaq closed at a new high despite the relatively small 5 point gain. The index is over long-term resistance and as long as the FAANG stocks continue making new highs, the Nasdaq will also be making new highs. Support is well back at 6,000 and testing it again would be very traumatic.




The small cap stocks are definitely lagging. The Russell is well below its highs and well below resistance at 1,400. The impending Russell rebalance is probably weighing on the index. The first rebalance list drops on June 9th and that could produce another selling dip as stocks leaving the index are sold.


The markets continue to defy problems of all types and unending analyst warnings of a clear and present danger. Paul Singer, CEO of Elliott Management, said in his most recent note to investors, "We think that the low-volatility levitation magic act of stocks and bonds will exist until the disenchanting moment when it does not. And then all hell will break loose." A couple weeks ago, the fund raised $5 billion in less than 24 hours for use when the market turmoil hits.

Singer said they used all the remaining capital they had to invest during the financial crisis and also raised an additional $800 million. Singer said they could have deployed 10 times that amount in what turned out to be an amazing opportunity. This time he is planning on being ready with that $5 billion in a market volatility fund. Singer believes the market will react badly if President Trump is unable to pass tax reform, health care and deregulation as he promised.

So far, the market has survived a large number of potential crisis points and investors seem unconcerned about the potential for future problems. Until the market becomes concerned, we should continue to follow that trend higher. There will come a moment when the trend ends but it could be weeks or months into the future. As long as the economy does not tank and earnings growth is in double digits, that covers over a lot of political problems.

If last week was the calm before the storm, I do not see the storm clouds. However, it is the sudden storms that we do not see approaching that cause the most trouble.



Random Thoughts


Investors rushed back to the bullish camp after an 8.9% drop in bullish sentiment the prior week, we saw a 9% rebound last week. The declines in the neutral and bearish camps mirrored the gains the prior week. How quickly traders jump on and off the fence.

Last week results


Thank a shale oil driller for your cheap gasoline this weekend. The AAA said the average price for gasoline on Friday was $2.37 per gallon. The low prices are due to the surplus of ultra light shale oil that best suitable for refining into gasoline. The average gasoline price over the last five years is just over $3 per gallon. Refiners processed 17.3 million bpd of oil last week and the second highest ever based on EIA data that began in 1982.

Recent Memorial Day prices:

2011 $3.81
2012 $3.65
2013 $3.63
2014 $3.66
2015 $2.74
2016 $2.32
2017 $2.37


Only five stocks have contributed 50% of the recent S&P gains. Those stocks are Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft and Alphabet. Together they have a combined market cap of nearly $3 trillion. In 2016, they generated $555 billion in revenue and more than $94 billion in earnings and they will do considerably better in 2017. Those five stocks have gained a total of 636 points since the election and represent 50% of the S&P gains.

FB $39
AAPL $49
MSFT $13
AMZN $285
GOOGL $250


Bitcoin rose more than 12% on Thursday alone to an all time high of $2,791.70. The spike in price came on rising demand out of Asia. Bitcoin is the ideal method of transferring money out of a country without being traced. The high did not hold and it fell $315 to close lower. Bitcoin began the month around $1,250 but the WannaCry malware demanding payments in Bitcoin started a rush to accumulate some of the electronic currency as an emergency precaution. Some companies were actually buying Bitcoin as insurance. If they were hacked and files encrypted they could have the Bitcoins on hand to quickly pay the hackers.

In Thursday's spike 31% of the purchasers of Bitcoin used Japanese yen, 16% Chinese yuan and 12% Korean won. Since the Japanese government authorized Bitcoin as a legal payment, the yen trade has been strong. Over the prior weekend, more than 50% of the trades were in Yen.

Currently the number of Bitcoins is limited to 21 million by the software used to generate (mine) them so the price could continue to move higher indefinitely. Source

The first known use of Bitcoins in commerce was May 22nd, 2010 when Laszio Hanyecz paid 10,000 Bitcoins to buy two Papa John's Pizzas worth $25. Obviously, this was back before the concept had caught on and they were cheap. At today's Bitcoin prices those would be some expensive pizzas. Now, May 22nd has become known as Bitcoin Pizza Day. Today more than 70,000 merchants accept Bitcoins. Source



 

Enter passively and exit aggressively!

Jim Brown

Send Jim an email

 

"Every generation has its defining works. More than 300,000 people worked to put a man on the moon. Millions of volunteers immunized children around the world against polio. Millions of more people built the Hoover Dam and other great projects.

These projects did not just provide purpose for the people doing those jobs, they gave our whole country a sense of pride that we could do great things.

Now it's our turn to do great things. I know, you are probably thinking: I don't know how to build a dam or get a million people involved in anything.

But let me tell you a secret: no one does when they begin. Ideas don't come out fully formed. They only become clear as you work on them. You just have to get started."

Mark Zuckerberg


 

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Index Wrap

New Leg Higher?

by Jim Brown

Click here to email Jim Brown
The S&P finally broke through 2,400 and could be poised to move higher.

It is amazing how fast market internals and market sentiment can change. Normally it takes some big catalyst to reverse a market trend but we did it last week on almost no news and weakening economics. The only three factors actually impacting the market were earnings, politics and the Fed.

The Fed discussed a plan to let their $4.5 trillion balance sheet roll off as treasuries matured and to halt the process of replacing those matures treasuries with new purchases. They will have a cap to prevent the portfolio from declining to quickly. For instance if they have $40 billion in treasuries maturing in a quarter they may cap their replacements at $20 billion. That means $20 billion would mature and disappear and the Fed would purchase $20 billion in new treasuries to replace the other $20 billion that matured. This would start the process in unwinding the QE process but it would take a long time for it to have any real impact. The projected slow and steady pace was pleasantly received by the market.

The lack of any political firestorms aided in lifting the market. After the last several weeks where political headlines had a depressing influence, it was a relief to avoid those disturbances.

Earnings were still the biggest mover with Q1 in the bank with 15% growth and the next three quarters also expecting double-digit growth.

These factors allowed the indexes to rebound from the sharp decline the prior week. The MACD sell signal on the S&P was reversed and there was no follow on selling after the big Wednesday decline.

The S&P has broken out above resistance at 2,400 and long-term uptrend resistance if around 2,450.



The following chart I built a year ago projecting the potential breakout from the consolidation pattern on the S&P. At the time I projected a S&P target of 2,458 and we are nearly there. This was calculated by adding the points in the consolidation range to the top of the range. In theory, a breakout should move that number of points above resistance. I have changed nothing on the chart since May of 2016.


The Dow has broken over strong resistance at 21,000 but has yet to break out to a new high over 21,115. That would be the all clear signal for the broader markets to run higher. The MACD sell signal has been reversed and many of the Dow components have seen a significant improvement in their individual charts. The outlook for the Dow is now positive if it can move over 21,115.


The Nasdaq indexes are both in breakout mode and over long term uptrend resistance. The MACD is reversing but not yet back in bullish mode. The minor gain on Friday was the result of weekend event risk and very low volume.


The most bullish chart of the week is the cumulative advance/decline line on the S&P. There was a clear breakout and even the MACD is accelerating higher. This is a major change in the market internals since the Wednesday crash the prior week. The dip was bought and market breadth expanded significantly. The A/D line on the Dow also improved but not as much as the S&P.



Despite the improvement on the market breadth on the S&P the bullish percent index failed to recover and actually declined slightly from the prior week. This is a slow moving chart. The point and figure charting system on which this is based is a slower reacting system in both directions. It is intended to give longer term directional signals.


I view the improving A/D line on the S&P as significant. If the S&P can move higher from Friday's close, it would trigger another round of short covering from the unbelievers and some price chasing by portfolio managers caught looking the wrong way with expectations May would be the start of the worst six months strategy. By failing to continue the Wednesday decline they were caught either short or in cash and any continued rise will force them to change their market posture.

If the Dow can move over 21,115 we should be in good shape to extend the rally assuming the political headlines don't tank the market again.

Enter passively and exit aggressively!

Jim Brown

Send Jim an email


New Option Plays

Develop This

by Jim Brown

Click here to email Jim Brown

Editors Note:

Application developers around the world will be focused on Apple in June. The Worldwide Developers Conference or WWDC begins on June 5th for five days.


NEW DIRECTIONAL CALL PLAYS

AAPL - Apple Inc - Company Profile

Apple Inc. designs, manufactures, and markets mobile communication and media devices, personal computers, and portable digital music players to consumers, small and mid-sized businesses, and education, enterprise, and government customers worldwide. The company also sells related software, services, accessories, networking solutions, and third-party digital content and applications. It offers iPhone, a line of smartphones; iPad, a line of multi-purpose tablets; and Mac, a line of desktop and portable personal computers. The company also provides iLife, a consumer-oriented digital lifestyle software application suite; iWork, an integrated productivity suite that helps users create, present, and publish documents, presentations, and spreadsheets; and other application software, such as Final Cut Pro, Logic Pro X, and FileMaker Pro. In addition, it offers Apple TV that connects to consumers' TV and enables them to access digital content directly for streaming high definition video, playing music and games, and viewing photos; Apple Watch, a personal electronic device; and iPod, a line of portable digital music and media players. Further, the company sells Apple-branded and third-party Mac-compatible, and iOS-compatible accessories, such as headphones, displays, storage devices, Beats products, and other connectivity and computing products and supplies. Additionally, it offers iCloud, a cloud service; AppleCare that offers support options for its customers; and Apple Pay, a mobile payment service. The company sells and delivers digital content and applications through the iTunes Store, App Store, Mac App Store, TV App Store, iBooks Store, and Apple Music. It also sells its products through its retail and online stores, and direct sales force, as well as through third-party cellular network carriers, wholesalers, retailers, and value-added resellers. Company description from FinViz.com.

The eyes of the world will be focused on Apple in two weeks as it updates application developers on all the new features and software in its various products. This covers the iPhone, iPads, Macs and Watches. Apple routinely tries to keep from giving away its best secrets but it is impossible for developers to develop unless they know what they are developing. There are always leaks. This typically provides a boost to Apple shares.

Apple reports earnings on August 1st. That is getting close to the normal September announcement date for the iPhone 8. If the buzz from the developers conference is good we could see shares rise into that earnings report.

Shares have been flat for the last three weeks despite the constantly rising Nasdaq. The WWDC could be the catalyst that lifts Apple shares out of this consolidation pattern.

I am using the August strikes so the earnings expectations will keep the premium inflated. I do not plan on holding over earnings. We will exit in July or earlier depending on how the stock reacts to the WWDC news.

The August strikes are expensive so I am recommending a spread.

Buy Aug $155 call, currently $5.05, initial stop loss $148.85
Sell short Aug $165 call, currently $1.72, initial stop loss $148.85
Net debit $3.33.


NEW DIRECTIONAL PUT PLAYS

No New Bearish Plays



In Play Updates and Reviews

35 Points

by Jim Brown

Click here to email Jim Brown

Editors Note:

The Dow traded flat for the day but closed only 35 points below a new high. The Nasdaq and S&P did close at new highs in a very low volume market. There was nothing to be gained by watching the market on Friday. There were very few big winners or losers. Everyone was headed for the beach.

The Russell 2000 continues to be the weakest link and that is not a good sign for next week. It is always possible a big cap rally can drag the small caps higher but we have not seen that lately.



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


BA - Boeing
The long call position was entered at the open.

IWM - Russell 2000 ETF
The long call position was stopped at $136.85.



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

ATVI - Activision Blizzard - Company Profile

Comments:

No specific news. Minor decline from the new high. Give the recent gains it was time for a pause.

Original Trade Description: May 22nd.

Activision Blizzard, Inc. develops and publishes games for video game consoles, personal computers (PC), mobile devices, and online social platforms. The company operates through three segments: Activision Publishing, Inc., Blizzard Entertainment, Inc., and King Digital Entertainment. The company develops, publishes, and sells interactive software products and entertainment content through retail channels or digital downloads; and downloadable content. It also publishes subscription-based massive multiplayer online role-playing games; and strategy and role-playing games. In addition, the company maintains a proprietary online gaming service, Battle.net that facilitates the creation of user generated content, digital distribution, and online social connectivity in its games. Further, it engages in creating original film and television content; and provides warehousing, logistics, and sales distribution services to third-party publishers of interactive entertainment software, as well as manufacturers of interactive entertainment hardware products. The company serves retailers and distributors, including mass-market retailers, consumer electronics stores, discount warehouses, game specialty stores, and consumers through third-party distribution and licensing arrangements in the United States, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Malta, Mexico, the Netherlands, Romania, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom. Activision Blizzard, Inc. was incorporated in 1979 and is headquartered in Santa Monica, California. Company description from FinViz.com.

Activision reported Q1 earnings of 56 cents, up 17%. Sales rose 19% to $1.73 billion. Activision had originally guided for 25 cents and $1.55 billion. Analysts were expecting 22 cents and $1.1 billion so it was a major blowout. For the full year, they raised guidance to 88 cents and $6.1 billion, up from 72 cents and $6.0 billion.

Blizzards's monthly active users rose to 431 million. King Digital has 342 million active users. The new Overwatch game was the fastest Blizzard title to hit 25 million registered players and now has more than 30 million. Revenues from in game purchases rose 25% driven by World of Warcraft and Overwatch customization features.

Activision is a powerhouse with rapidly rising revenue and multiple game titles arriving in the coming months.

Earnings August 3rd.

Shares dropped sharply with the market last Wednesday and have already rebounded to close at a new high today.

Position 5/23/17:

Long August $60 calls @ $2.66, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.


BA - Boeing - Company Profile

Comments:

Tom Cruise said he was planning on filming a new Top Gun movie in 2018. Since the F-14 is no longer flown and the F-35 is not yet available for its film debut, Boeing will probably receive a major public relations bonanza with the F/A-18 Super Hornet in the title role. If it stars in the movie it would be a major advertising win because the capabilities will be shown all around the world and that could generate additional orders.

Boeing received a new $58.6 million contract to demonstrate a new generation of technology to intercept and destroy multiple missiles fired at the USA. This is a result of the accelerated missile testing currently in progress in North Korea. The technology is called the Multi-Object Kill Vehicle (MOKV). Basically, it would be one missile that would be launched at an incoming swarm of hostile missiles. As the MOKV nears the intercept point it would itself launch multiple interceptors and each would be directed to a different target by the radar and communication systems on the MOKV. Instead of firing one missile from the ground to target one incoming missile, the MOKV would be like launching a launching pad of missiles to a predetermined location and then having it attack the swarm on its own. This is not going to be cheap technology.

Boeing also said it won a $89 million contract from the Navy to incorporate the Block II Infrared Search Track System in the F/A-18 E/F aircraft.

Original Trade Description: May 25th.

The Boeing Company, together with its subsidiaries, designs, develops, manufactures, sells, services, and supports commercial jetliners, military aircraft, satellites, missile defense, human space flight, and launch systems and services worldwide. It operates in five segments: Commercial Airplanes, Boeing Military Aircraft, Network & Space Systems, Global Services & Support, and Boeing Capital. The Commercial Airplanes segment develops, produces, and markets commercial jet aircraft for various passenger and cargo requirements; and provides related support services to the commercial airline industry. This segment also offers aviation services support, aircraft modifications, spare parts, training, maintenance documents, and technical advice to commercial and government customers. The Boeing Military Aircraft segment researches, develops, produces, and modifies manned and unmanned military aircraft, and weapons systems for global strike, vertical lift, and autonomous systems, as well as mobility, surveillance, and engagement. The Network & Space Systems segment researches, develops, produces, and modifies strategic defense and intelligence systems, satellite systems, and space exploration products. The Global Services & Support segment provides integrated logistics services comprising supply chain management and engineering support; maintenance, modification, and upgrades for aircraft; and training systems and government services that include pilot and maintenance training. The Boeing Capital segment offers financing services and manages financing exposure for a portfolio of equipment under operating and finance leases, notes and other receivables, assets held for sale or re-lease, and investments. The company was founded in 1916 and is headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. Company description from FinViz.com.

Boeing dipped last week after the test flights for the 737-MAX were halted temporarily. Boeing is expecting to begin deliveries of that model later this month. The problem was a low pressure disk in the LEAP-18 engine built by CFM International. That is a joint venture between GE and France's Safran. The halt was only a day before Boeing announced they were resuming flights of the planes without the LEAP-18 engines. CFM said the problem would be fixed within "weeks" because an alternate supplier was increasing production of the specific part. That problem has already been forgotten.

Boeing has dozens of projects underway and the biggest backlog of plane orders in history. The 787 Dreamliner is already on its third revision. The first plane was the 787-8 then there was the 787-9 and now the 787-10. The 787-8 was barely profitable because of higher than expected production costs. However, the improved 787-9 and 10 are highly profitable and in high demand. The delivery mix fell to only 25% model 8s in Q1. Currently there are 672 Dreamliners on order and only 89 are for the model 8. By the time the planes are actually built that will probably decline much further. Orders being transferred from airlines to leasing companies are typically upgraded to the more desirable models because the leasing companies want the longest lasting, fully featured models so the lease rates remain higher longer. The newest version the 787-10 already has 169 orders and it costs $40 million more than the model 8 but only costs a couple million more to produce. Analysts believe Boeing's profitability will rise $1.5 billion on this order shuffle alone.

Boeing got another windfall when Trump was elected and suddenly took an interest in producing more F-18 Hornet's than F-35s. Boeing was only expected to produce 5 Hornets this year with a big order for F18 Growlers filling out the production line. The Growlers are the radar jamming planes that protect a flight of fighters. In the budget that was just passed, an additional $1.1 billion was allocated for 14 additional F-18s in this year. Trump had asked for 24 but Congress only approved 14. There will be a lot more in the budget for 2018. The F-18 is the workhorse of the Navy and many of their older planes are reaching the 6,000 flight hour maximum threshold. That means the Navy will need hundreds over the next several years to replace the aging aircraft. Boeing expects the production line to increase to 3-4 per month starting in 2020. Boeing expects another 100 planes to be ordered over the next five budget cycles and possibly more as the military scales down requests for F-35s in favor of the much cheaper F-18s. Boeing has an enhancement called Block III that basically gives the F-18 the networking capability of the F-35. They envision a stealthy F-35 entering hostile airspace and doing reconnaissance and then transmitting back threat and target information to the heavily armed F-18s to actually carry out the attacks. Over the last five years, the Navy has requested five times as many F-18s as F-35s. A F-18 costs $75 million and F-35 $121 million.

Boeing said on any given day 2 out of every three F-18 planes are out of commission waiting for repairs. Planes have been flown hard in the post 9/11 world with multiple theaters of war and planes down for a single part end up getting cannibalized for other parts to keep the remaining planes flying.

Boeing will also profit from the $110 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia and the escalation to $350 billion over the next decade.

All of this means Boeing is going to remain highly profitable for a very long time and this is just two production lines of the dozens of products being manufactured by the company.

Earnings July 26th.

Shares made a new high on May 9th at $187 before dropping back to $182 on the market decline. That drop has been erased and shares are poised to break out to a new high and probably begin a new leg even higher.

Options are expensive so I am recommending a spread.

Position 5/26/17:

Long Aug $190 call @ $5.15, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.
Short Aug $200 call @ $1.79, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.
Net debit $3.36.


CVX - Chevron - Company Profile

Comments:

BNP Paribas downgraded Chevron from hold to sell. They lowered the price target to $100 and blamed the downgrade on weaker cash flow generation. I think this analyst was smoking something illegal when he made this call. Chevron spent nearly $100 billion over the last five years in developing projects and those are starting to come on line now. Chevron's capex is dropping sharply because all the projects are completed. This will be a cash-generating machine in future quarters. Shares declined 39 cents.

I am not putting a stop on this or closing the position because the option price collapsed when crude declined and there is nothing to be gained by closing the position. There are still three weeks until expiration.

Original Trade Description: April 16th.

Chevron Corporation, through its subsidiaries, engages in integrated energy, chemicals, and petroleum operations worldwide. The company operates in two segments, Upstream and Downstream. The Upstream segment is involved in the exploration, development, and production of crude oil and natural gas; processing, liquefaction, transportation, and regasification associated with liquefied natural gas; transportation of crude oil through pipelines; and transportation, storage, and marketing of natural gas, as well as operates a gas-to-liquids plant. The Downstream segment engages in refining crude oil into petroleum products; marketing crude oil and refined products; transporting crude oil and refined products through pipeline, marine vessel, motor equipment, and rail car; and manufacturing and marketing commodity petrochemicals, and fuel and lubricant additives, as well as plastics for industrial uses. It is also involved in the cash management and debt financing activities; insurance operations; real estate activities; and technology businesses. Further, the company holds interests in power plants, as well as operates geothermal plants; and engages in the transportation of refined products primarily in the coastal waters of the United States. The company was formerly known as ChevronTexaco Corporation and changed its name to Chevron Corporation in 2005. Company description from FinViz.com.

Chevron is one of the U.S. energy majors with billions of barrels of reserves. The company pays an annual dividend of $4.32 or 4.07% yield. They are totally committed to preserving and raising the dividend. This makes them a top pick by nearly every major analyst.

Chevron is coming out of a major project cycle where they spent over $25 billion a year on capex building out monster projects. Now that the projects are nearly complete and ramping up production, the company can reduce its capex significantly and still increase production as those projects come online.

Chevron has amassed a two million acre position in the Permian Basin with 9 billion barrels of reserves. The company is currently operating 11 rigs in the Permian and will be adding 9 more in the coming months. They plan on ramping up their Permian production from the current 80,000 bpd to 700,000 bpd over the next few years. Chevron's Permian acreage is said to be worth more than $43 billion. It was acquired in pieces at much lower prices by predecessor companies over the last several decades. The Permian was never a big focus for Chevron as they concentrated on megaprojects elsewhere. They are increasing spending in the Permian by $2.5 billion in 2017. They are not hedging their oil production because they believe prices will rise.

Earnings on April 28th are expected to be a miss because of the sharp decline in oil prices in March. This is expected to lower earnings and force misses for the major producers. Since this is a well-known fact, I suspect it it being priced into the stock ahead of the report.

Thursday's decline of 3% put the stock right at light support at $106. If this level fails, there is strong support at $100.

Oil prices should begin to rally any day now. Refinery utilization of back over 90% and it is time to begin pushing summer blend fuels into the distribution system. We should begin to see inventory declines every week and that should last through July. August is normally when crude prices top out. OPEC should extend the production cuts because they are right on the edge of a reduction in inventories and an extension would guarantee it.

Chevron shares should rebound with crude prices. If they were to surprise with earnings, shares should rebound quickly.

The option is cheap and we are going to hold over the earnings report.

If the market tanks at the open on Monday, please do not enter this position until the S&P is positive.

Update 4/19/17: Chevron shares crashed with the entire energy sector after a nearly $2 drop in crude prices on weak inventory numbers from the EIA. WTI only declined -1 million barrels and gasoline rose 1.5 million compared to an expected decline of -1.6 million. The EIA said gasoline demand was down -0.8% from the same period in 2016.

Update 4/22/17: Chevron lost a court case in Australia for $260 million. The case ruled on the deductibility of interest on a $2.5 billion loan made from the parent company between 2003-2008. Chevron Australia paid 9% interest on the loan from Chevron and the parent company borrowed the money at a lower rate. The court said Chevron Australia could only deduct the interest at the parent's borrowing rate. Chevron said they would appeal.

Update 4/24/17: Chevron said it was selling its assets in Bangladesh to Himalaya Energy. No price was given but Bloomberg said the fields were worth about $2 billion. Chevron is planning on selling $10 billion in non-core assets in 2017. Himalaya is owned by a consortium of Chinese state owned firms. Bangladesh has a right of refusal on any deal and they said they were not done with their evaluations yet. The three fields held in the Chevron subsidiary produce 720 million cubic feet of gas and 3,000 barrels of condensate per day.

Update 4/28/17: Chevron reported earnings of $1.41 compared to estimates for 86 cents. The Chevron number did have a $600 million gain from the sale of an upstream asset so it is not really apples to apples comparison. Revenue of $33.4 billion missed estimates for $34.9 billion. Operating costs declined 14% and capex spending will be down more than 30%. Oil production rose 3% and full year growth is expected to be 4-9%.

Udate 5/15/17: Chevron said they had taken Train 1 of the massive Gorgon LNG plant offline for a month to do some maintenance. The plant cost $54 billion to build and has 3 trains that can produce 15.6 million tonnes of LNG per year.

Position 4/17/17:

Long June $110 call, currently $1.45. See portfolio graphic for stop loss.


FB - Facebook - Company Profile

Comments:

Facebook is hosting an invitation only Health Summit for pharmaceutical marketers on June 6th. This is part of their push to get them to advertise on Facebook. Previously Google and Twitter had hired large teams to work with drug companies but Facebook has been behind the curve. Pharma has a lot of money to spend and therefore the push to attract them.

Original Trade Description: May 17th.

Facebook, Inc. provides various products to connect and share through mobile devices, personal computers, and other surfaces worldwide. Its solutions include Facebook Website and mobile application that enables people to connect, share, discover, and communicate each other on mobile devices and personal computers; Instagram, a mobile application that enables people to take photos or videos, customize them with filter effects, and share them with friends and followers in a photo feed or send them directly to friends; Messenger, a messaging application to communicate with people and businesses across platforms and devices; and WhatsApp Messenger, a mobile messaging application. The company also offers Oculus virtual reality technology and content platform, which allow people to enter an immersive and interactive environment to play games, consume content, and connect with others. Company description from FinViz.com.

Facebook also blew away earnings estimates and they are growing earnings at the fastest rate of any of the FAANG stocks. They have multiple revenue streams and sites like Instagram and WhatsApp that are just starting to accelerate earnings. They said Instagram had reached 50,000 advertisers. Facebook's problem is they do not have enough page views to monetize despite the 1.9 billion users. They have more advertisers than they have space.

Earnings August 2nd.

Facebook had been moving sideways since hitting the $153 high post earnings. Volatility was low and investors were just waiting for a market dip so they could get a better entry point. Share fell to uptrend support at $145 and even if they due decline further there is strong support around $140.

Update 5/18/27: Facebook was fined $122.4 million by EU regulators for giving them false information in the WhatsApp acquisition process. The EU asked how many WhatsApp users were also Facebook users and the company said it did not know and did not have way of matching the usernames. A year after the acquisition Facebook launched a service that did match users and the EU said they had the capability all the time.

The company also announced a new effort to reduce "clickbait" headlines and punish websites that continually publish fake news. I hope they are successful.

Update 5/19/17: Facebook is going to live stream 20 Major League Baseball Friday night games. The company also said it was adding an "Order Food" option to let some users order, pay and have food delivered or be available for pickup. The service works with restaurants that use Delivery.com or Slice.

Update 5/22/17: Facebook shares were weak after the BROWSER bill was introduced in the House. Websites and browsers must get explicit permission from users in order to collect and use personal data including browser history, search terms, cookies, etc. They also cannot deny you the use of their program if you decline to give them permission to use your data. While the bill has little chance of passing it was a wet blanket on Facebook today.

Update 5/24/17: Reuters reported that Facebook has signed content deals with Vox Media, Buzzfeed, ATTN, Group Nine Media and others to begin creating shows for its upcoming video service. They are going to develop both short and long form content with ad breaks included. The first scripted shows will be up to 30 min which Facebook will own. The second tier will be shorter scripted and unscripted shows with episodes lasting 5-10 minutes.

Position 5/18/17:

Long Aug $150 call @ $4.90, no initial stop loss.


IWM - Russell 2000 ETF - Company Profile

Comments:

The Russell did not rally on Friday. It traded down intraday to stop us out for a minor gain. The lack of excitement in the Russell is going to be a major drag on the broader market.

Original Trade Description: May 17th.

The iShares Russell 2000 ETF seeks to track the investment results of an index composed of small-capitalization U.S. equities.

The Russell 3000 is the top 3,000 investible stocks in the U.S. The Russell 1000 is the top 1,000 stocks by market cap and the Russell 2000 is the next 2,000 stocks by market cap. The Russell 2000 is commonly called the small cap index but it has a large number of midcap stocks as well.

The Russell 2000 imploded with a 39 point, -3% decline to 1,355. There is strong support at 1,344. "IF" the market rebounds as I expect the Russell is likely to rebound strongly now that all the stop losses have been hit.

The corresponding level on the IWM is $134 with the ETF closing at $134.89 on Wednesday. This support has held since January despite six intraday penetrations that were immediately bought.

Position 5/18/17:

Closed 5/26/17: Long July $136 call @ $3.08. exit $3.54, +$.46 gain.


MCD - McDonalds - Company Profile

Comments:

No specific news. Shares closed at a new high but only a minor gain. The big news is that it did not decline in a weak market.

Original Trade Description: May 3rd.

McDonald's Corporation operates and franchises McDonald's restaurants in the United States, Europe, the Asia/Pacific, the Middle East, Africa, Canada, Latin America, and internationally. The company's restaurants offer various food products, soft drinks, coffee, and other beverages. As of December 31, 2016, it operated 36,899 restaurants, including 31,230 franchised restaurants comprising 21,559 franchised to conventional franchisees, 6,300 licensed to developmental licensees, and 3,371 licensed to foreign affiliates; and 5,669 company-operated restaurants. McDonald's Corporation was founded in 1940 and is based in Oak Brook, Illinois. Company description from FinViz.com.

McDonalds is surging because they have overhauled their menu, offered breakfast all day, shifted to fresh beef, mobile ordering, delivery with UberEats, kiosks AND they are selling coffee for $1 and specialty drinks for $2. That is vastly lower than Starbucks and it is helping them steal market share. People stopping by to pick up a cheap coffee tend to order a snack as well. Who can resist adding an Egg McMuffin to go with that coffee.

McDonalds reported better than expected earnings and raised guidance. They reported $1.47 compared to estimates for $1.33. Revenue of $5.68 billion beat estimates for $5.53 billion. Same store sales rose 1.7% compared to expectations for an 0.8% decline. Global sales were up 4%.

Earnings July 25th.

Goldman has had a neutral rating on them forever but upgraded the fast food giant today to a buy with $153 price target. Goldman admitted they were late but said there was still plenty of time given the improved metrics. Goldman cited McDonald's "Experience of the Future" plans for mobile ordering and kiosks and said the expanding delivery options could expand revenue.

McDonalds closed at a new high today in a weak market.

Update 5/4/17: McDonalds said it was adding Signature Crafted Recipes to its stores in Florida and would be adding 5,000 workers to handle the volume.

Update 5/15/17: McDonald's Bar-B-Que opened on May 15th, 1940. The store closed and was later reopened in 1948 with only 9 items on the menu. Hamburgers were 15 cents, cheeseburgers 19 cents and cokes/coffee were 10 cents. Today, McDonalds serves 77 million customers a day. Short history of MCD in pictures The stock celebrated today with a new high.

Update 5/18/17: McDonald's added 1,000 additional restaurants to its McDelivery program utilizing UberEATS food delivery service. They had been testing at 200 stores in Florida since January. Apparently, McDonalds customers are loving it.

Update 5/22/17: The Chicago Tribune said restaurants offering the delivery service were seeing a surge in large orders. People are ordering the 40-piece Chicken McNuggets in quantity as well as the Big Mac and Chicken McNuggets Meal Bundle. That is 2 Big Macs, a 20-piece McNugget, 3 medium fries and 3 beverages for $14.99, which were also being ordered in quantities. When you think about it, if you are having friends over, ordering multiples of those deals gives everyone a choice and plenty to eat. Having UberEats deliver it is simpler than having someone gather up everyone's orders and money and then driving to McDonalds, waiting in line and then waiting while they put together your large order. If you can get it all home without spilling french fries and soda all over your car you are very lucky. This is another reason why McDonalds sales are going to rise in the coming quarters.

Position 5/4/17:

Long July $145 call @ $1.67, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.


NFLX - Netflix - Company Profile

Comments:

Piper Jaffray reiterated an overweight rating this morning but raised the price target from $166 to $190. The analyst said Netflix probably low-balled the company's 2020 earnings expectations by as much as half. The analyst said it the international viewers grow as well over the next 10 quarters as the last 10 then expectations could be 100% too low. They believe Netflix could have 180 million international subscribers by 2020. Jaffray said the total addressable market of broadband viewers could be more than 765 million by 2020.

MKM Partners also raised their price target from $175 to $195.

The highly anticipated fifth season for House of Cards is only a week away and shares typically rally on the releases. The next two weeks could see shares rise.

Original Trade Description: May 17th.

Netflix, Inc., an Internet television network, engages in the Internet delivery of television (TV) shows and movies on various Internet-connected screens. The company operates in three segments: Domestic Streaming, International Streaming, and Domestic DVD. It offers members with the ability to receive streaming content through a host of Internet-connected screens, including TVs, digital video players, television set-top boxes, and mobile devices. The company also provides DVDs-by-mail membership services. It serves approximately 100 million streaming members in 190 countries. Netflix, Inc. was founded in 1997 and is headquartered in Los Gatos, California. Company description from FinViz.com.

Netflix posted blowout earnings and shares rocketed higher to hit $161 on Monday. I have been waiting for three weeks for a pullback. Analysts are projecting higher highs with the high price targets at $175. There have been continuous rumors that either Disney or Apple will try to buy them not only to acquire the platform but to keep the other company from acquiring it. Both have said they want to have a big presence in streaming. Tim Cook just said it last week. Both have the cash and Disney has billions of dollars in content it can immediately add to the platform.

Netflix is expected to add 3 million subscribers in Q2. They are testing higher prices in Australia to see what price levels will cause subscriber flight. Once they figure it out you can bet they will apply it to the rest of their 100 million customers. That is instant profit. Bumping rates by $5 gets them another $500 million a month in revenue.

They announced with earnings they were finally entering China through a partnership with the largest existing streamer in China. This is one more step to a full release in the future.

Update 5/18/17: The FCC voted 2-1 to roll back the 2015 net neutrality order from President Obama. Some say this will impact major internet users like Netflix. However, the company said last month that elimination of the order would not have any impact on their business because they were big enough and had a broad enough customer base that ISPs would not try to slow down their streaming traffic. The order prevented ISPs from charging for faster bandwidth for heavy users. Netflix is responsible for 40% of the internet traffic in peak hours.

Update 5/22/17: Netflix expects to have 102 million subscribers by the end of Q2 with 51.45 million in the U.S. and 50.49 million internationally. Three years ago the company only had 11 million international subscribers. They expect international numbers to exceed U.S. subscribers by the end of the third quarter. With international subscribers growing roughly 3 million per quarter they should reach 100 million in 2020 as acceptance continues to grow. That puts them on track for 200 million total subscribers by 2025.

Earnings July 17th.

We have to use a spread because options are still expensive.

Position 5/18/17:

Long July $160 call @ $6.45, no initial stop loss.
Short July $175 call @ $2.16, no initial stop loss.
Net debit $4.29.


OA - Orbital ATK - Company Profile

Comments:

No specific news. Minor decline in a weak market. Now testing new high resistance at $102.50.

Original Trade Description: May 24th.

Orbital ATK is a global leader in aerospace and defense technologies. The company designs, builds and delivers space, defense and aviation systems for customers around the world, both as a prime contractor and merchant supplier. Its main products include launch vehicles and related propulsion systems; missile products, subsystems and defense electronics; precision weapons, armament systems and ammunition; satellites and associated space components and services; and advanced aerospace structures. (Company supplied description.)

The company reported earnings on May 11th of $1.23 that missed estimates for $1.39. The miss was due to a surprise hike in the tax rate that analysts were not expecting. There was an event two years ago that caused a lower tax rate in the year ago quarter. Analysts factored in that repeat rate without realizing it was a one-time event. Revenue of $1.085 billion beat estimates for $1.083 billion.

Revenue in the Flight Systems Group, Defense Systems Group and Space Systems Group was up between 4.6% and 5.2%. Order backlogs at the end of the quarter were up 12% to $9.8 billion. Total backlogs including options and indefinite quantity contracts were $14.8 billion.

The company guided for 2017 earnings of $5.80-$6.20 and revenues of $4.550-$4.625 billion. Free cash flow is expected to be $250-$300 million.

Earnings August 10th.

Today Orbital received a $76 million order for 50 caliber ammunition from the U.S. Army. Orbital operates the Lake City ammunition plant for the military under an $8 billion facilities management contract. Last month they announced a $92 million order for 5.56mm and 7.62mm ammunition. Since taking over the plant they have produced more than 17 billion rounds of small caliber ammunition. They also received a $53 million contract to produce 120mm and 105mm ammunition including the new M1002 and M724A2 rounds for howitzers and tanks. To date they have produced more than 5 million rounds of large caliber ammunition.

Orbital ATK’s Defense Systems Group is an industry leader in providing innovative and affordable precision and strike weapons, advanced propulsion and hypersonics, missile components across air-, sea- and land-based systems, ammunition and related energetic products.

Shares broke over resistance at $99.75 today on the award win. With the emphasis on higher defense spending and a war fighter now in charge of the military, we can expect future orders to continue. Add in their missile systems, space launch systems, etc and Orbital is a good candidate to play this sector.

Position 5/15/17:

Long Aug $105 call @ $2.60, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.


VAR - Varian Medical - Company Profile

Comments:

No specific news. Minor gain but a new high.

Original Trade Description: May 20th.

Varian Medical Systems, Inc. designs, manufactures, sells, and services medical devices and software products for treating cancer and other medical conditions worldwide. It operates through two segments, Oncology Systems and Imaging Components. The Oncology Systems segment provides hardware and software products for treating cancer with radiotherapy, fixed field intensity-modulated radiation therapy, image-guided radiation therapy, volumetric modulated arc therapy, stereotactic radiosurgery, stereotactic body radiotherapy, and brachytherapy. Its products include linear accelerators, brachytherapy afterloaders, treatment simulation, verification equipment, and accessories; and information management, treatment planning, image processing, clinical knowledge exchange, patient care management, decision-making support, and practice management software. This segment serves university research and community hospitals, private and governmental institutions, healthcare agencies, physicians' offices, oncology practices, radiotherapy centers, and cancer care clinics. The Imaging Components segment offers X-ray imaging components for use in radiographic or fluoroscopic imaging, mammography, special procedures, computed tomography, computer aided diagnostics, and industrial applications. It also provides Linatron X-ray accelerators, imaging processing software, and image detection products for security and inspection purposes. This segment serves original equipment manufacturers, independent service companies, and end-users. In addition, the company offers products and systems for delivering proton therapy; and develops technologies in the areas of digital X-ray imaging, volumetric and functional imaging, and improved X-ray sources. The company was formerly known as Varian Associates, Inc. and changed its name to Varian Medical Systems, Inc. in April 1999. Varian Medical Systems, Inc. was founded in 1948. Company description from FinViz.com.

Drugs are not the only opportunity to rid yourself of a terrible disease. Varian produces multiple products for discovering and targeting cancer. They are the sector leader in imaging and radiation therapy.

Varian reported earnings of 89 cents that beat estimates for 88 cents. Revenue of $655 million beat estimates for $643 million. They guided for ful lyear earnings of $3.56-$3.64 per share.

Earnings July 26th.

On May 6th, the company announced a "game-changing treatment platform" to combat the cancer challenge. (their words) The new Halcyon system is an entirely new device that "simplifies and enhances virtually every aspect of image-guided volumetric intensity modulated radiotherapy (IMRT). This new treatment system is designed to expand the availability of high quality cancer care globally and help save the lives of millions more cancer patients." The new system requires only 9 steps compared with the 30 treatment steps required by current generation equipment. "Halcyon is well suited to handle the majority of cancer patients, offering advanced treatments for prostate, breast, head & neck, and many other forms of cancer." Press Release

The company demonstrated the new device to packed crowds at the ESTRO 36 conference in Vienna on May 8th. Shares spiked $4 on the announcement.

ASCO is about cancer treatment and the conference begins on June 2nd for four days. While the drug community will be getting plenty of press, the Varian equipment should also be benefitting from the headlines.

The market decline knocked $2 off Varian shares and gave us a buying opportunity.

Update 5/24/17: Varian announced it was going to install its first Proton Therapy System in Thailand. The first one in a country is always the hardest. The order will be booked in this quarter's earnings. Shares rallied to close right on resistance at $96.75 but a breakout is imminent.

Update 5/25/17: Varian will be hosting multiple events at the ISRS meeting in Switzerland from May 28th - June 1st. They will be demonstrating their leading edge radiosurgery systems for cancer treatment.

Position 5/22/17:

Long August $100 call @ $2.00, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.


$VIX - Volatility Index - Index Description

Comments:

Intraday low at 9.65 and close at 9.81. Very close to new 24 year closing lows.

The May 8th close at 9.77 was the lowest close since December 1993. That is a 24 year low!!

This is a July call. We have plenty of time and the odds of a market sell off over the next 2.5 months are close to 100%. The VIX cannot go much lower but it can go a lot higher.

While holding the VIX call is an insurance play for us, I hope we are never in a position to profit from it. That would mean a lot of our long positions would be under water or stopped out.

Original Trade Description: Jan 26th

The VIX is a computed index, much like the S&P 500 itself, although it is not derived based on stock prices. Instead, it uses the price of options on the S&P 500, and then estimates how volatile those options will be between the current date and the option's expiration date. The CBOE combines the price of multiple options and derives an aggregate value of volatility, which the index tracks.

The VIX closed at 10.63 and very close to record lows. You have to go back to June of 2014 for a lower recent close at 10.28. Before that, you have to travel back in time to Feb-2007 for a close at 10.05. The next lowest close was 9.48 in Dec-1993.

The point here is that volatility is near record lows only reached four times in the last 23 years. That qualifies for an abnormal event. I believe it is time we bought some VIX calls. The odds of the VIX remaining this low for the next two months are about as close to zero as you can get.

There is a very old saying in the market. "When the VIX is high, it is time to buy. When the VIX is low, it is time to go." You cannot get much lower than this.

The VIX is telling us that everyone expects the market to continue moving higher. Nobody is worried that some unexpected headline or event is going to trigger a significant market decline. When nobody expects an event is when we should be the most concerned.

Update 5/1/17: The VIX made a new intraday low at 9.90 and closed at a 10-yr low at 10.11. The government shutdown has been avoided according to reports out of Washington and that helped to deflate the VIX. Marine Le Pen is rapidly gaining on Macron in the French election runoff for next Sunday. She gained 6 points in two days to 41% in the recent polls compared to Macron's 59%. If she can gain another 6% early this week then the entire event risk scenario comes back into play with a potential come from behind win.

Position 3/30/117
Long July $14 call @ $2.55, no stop loss.
Added 5/9/17: Long July $14 call @ $1.60, no stop loss.
Average cost now $2.07.

Previously Closed 2/1/17: Long March $12 call @ $2.60, exit $2.50, -.10 loss.
Previously Closed 2/22/17: Long March $12 call @ $1.75 adj, exit $1.65, -.10 loss.
Previously Closed 4/10/17: Long Apr $13 call @ $2.30, exit $1.80, -.55 loss.



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