Option Investor
Newsletter

Daily Newsletter, Thursday, 11/2/2017

Table of Contents

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

Market Wrap

Jerome Powell Nominated FOMC Chairman

by Thomas Hughes

Click here to email Thomas Hughes

Introduction

The market held steady awaiting Trumps nomination for FOMC chair and was not surprised when Mr. Powell walked out with the President. Powell has been a member of the committee since 2012 and largely expected to continue the works of the Yellen Fed. In terms of policy he is viewed as slightly dovish. In other news the Trump Tax Plan was finally revealed to mixed applause, and earnings keep rolling in. There is not expected to be major opposition to his confirmation.

Asian indices closed the day mixed. The Nikkei led with a gain near 0.5% while most other indices fell to close with losses in the range of -0.10% to -0.40%. Trading was affected by yesterday's FOMC policy statement, earnings and anticipation for today's BOE meeting and expectations for news on US tax reform and Trumps FOMC pick. European indices were much the same. Most indices closed with modest losses with one standout, the FTSE, posting gains. The FTSE rose on the BOE decision to raise rates for the first time in 10 years. Within the report comments led traders to believe future rate hikes would be gradual and likely at a pace below previous expectations.

Market Statistics

Futures trading was flat and mixed all through the early session. The SPX opened flat and then traded sideways for a few minutes before making a sharp move lower. This move took the index down to the daily low, near 2,566 and -12 from yesterday's close, before bouncing back to near break even by 12/30. The market trend sideways from there up to and into the final 20 minutes of trading when a late day rally spurred the index up to close with no gain and no loss.

Economic Calendar

The Economy

Challenger, Gray & Christmas released the monthly report on lay offs this morning. The read came in at 29,831 and down -10.5% from last month. This read is down -3% from last year, the year to date read is down -25% from the same period last year and at a 20 low. Health and Services led with cuts, the primary reason given was cost cutting which accounts for more than 62% of total cuts this year. The hires figure came in well below expectations at 37,387 but remains strong on a year to date and full yea basis. Year to date hires are up 25% over last year in the same period and up 20% versus the full year 2017 with two months left to go.


Initial claims fell -5,000 to 229,000, the last week's figure was revised higher by 1,000. The four week moving average fell -7,250 to another new 44 year low. On a not adjusted basis claims rose 0.4% versus an expected 2.1% and are down -12% YOY. There is special note in the report this week. Backlogs of claims in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands are now being processed and will negatively impact the data over the next few weeks. Regardless, this week's figures are in line with long running trends and consistent with labor market health.


Continuing claims fell -15,000 to hit 1.884 million and a new 44 year low. The four week moving average of claims also fell to hit 1.895 million and a new 44 year low. Not much to say about that other than it's in line with long running trends and consistent with labor market health.

The total number of claims rose 35,318 to hit 1.632 million. This gain is as expected and in line with seasonal trends. Looking forward we can expect this figure to move higher into the end of the year as seasonal hires are laid off and business address labor oriented budgetary issues. If seasonal trends remain intact the peak should come in around 2.5 million and in the first week of the new year.


Productivity and Labor Cost data was released at 8:30AM alongside the jobless claims. Productivity rose by 3%, a tenth hotter than expected and the strongest gains in 3 years. The gains were made on a 3.8% increase in output, a 0.8% increase in hours worked and a 3.5% gain in wages. Labor costs rose in relation to productivity by 0.5% but remains down on a year over year basis.

The Dollar Index

The Dollar Index held steady in today's trade. In the early part of the session traders were waiting for Trump's FOMC pick, in late day trading market participants breathed a sigh of relief his pick is not expected to rock the boat. Today's action did test support at the $94 resistance-turned-support and confirm it, if on light volume and tepid action. The indicators remain bullish and suggestive of higher prices. With the ECB, BOJ and BOE all backing down from inflation targets and the FOMC on track to raise rates in December divergence as returned to the market. This could continue to drive a wedge between the dollar and the basket of world currencies, and drive the Dollar Index higher with it. Upside target is near $96.50 in the near to short term.


The Gold Index

Gold prices also held steady in today's action, posting a loss of -0.02%. The metal remains below resistance at $1,280 and poised to move lower on a strengthening dollar. Tomorrow's NFP could be the data to do it. It is expected to be strong at 325,000 new jobs. Downside targets remain near $1,265 and $1,250.

The Gold Miners ETF GDX moved up to close with a gain near 0.44% but price action was tepid and sideways on the week. The ETF is consolidating above a potential support level while in a near term down trend within the greater long term trading range. The ETF is also below resistance targets but with mixed indications from MACD and stochastic. MACD momentum is bearish but weakening while stochastic has fired a bullish crossover, both consistent with support. The caveat is that the prevailing trend is down, albeit within a trading range, and the indicators are set up to fire a bearish crossover. A move below $22.25 would be bearish for the near to short term with target near $21. A move up and above $22.85 could be bullish but would face resistance at both the short and long term moving averages.


The Oil Index

Oil prices moved up again as a slowly tightening oil market is support by OPEC compliance with current production cuts and hopes the cartel will expand and extend those cuts. WTI rose by 0.85% to close near $54.75 and a new long term high. Prices are likely to continue creeping higher into the near term, a break above $55 would be bullish and could lead to a sharp increase on speculative positioning.

The Oil Index continues to rise supported by rising oil prices, forward earnings outlook and improvement in forward earnings outlook due to rising oil prices. The index gained another 0.87% today and looks like it will easily hit my target near 1,300. The indicators are now both bullish, showing bullish crossovers, and in confirmation of the continuation.


In The News, Story Stocks and Earnings

Details for the Trump Tax Plan were released today to mixed applause. For the most part market participants view the cuts as a positive with some minor grumblings about detail from proponents. Opponents are primarily democrats. In a nutshell the plan proposed to make the corporate tax rate 20%, immediately and permanently. It also proposes to allow repatriation of offshore earnings at the rate of 12% (cash) and 5% (other assets). The child tax credit is raised to $1,600 from $1,000, the estate tax exemption is doubled, property taxes are deductible up to $10,000, 401(k) and IRA deductions remain and tax brackets are reduced to 4. In the press conference several proponents alluded to the possibility most Americans would be now be able to file taxes on a card the size of a post-card. Shares of H&R Block fell hard on the news.


Starbucks reported after the bell and fell short of expectations. The company missed on both revenue and earnings (EPS was in line but the market was surely expecting a beat) leaving investors feeling cold. The company also reported it would be selling its Tazo Tea brand to Unilever in efforts to focus on a single tea strategy utilizing the flagship Teavana brand. Other metrics falling short of expectations are global comps and US comps, all of which leading to a -5% decline in after hours trading.


Apple also reported after the bell and they beat on the top and bottom lines and smartly. The company reported revenue of $52.6 billion, up 12.3% from the previous year and more than $1.8billion above expectations. EPS of $2.07 beat by $0.20 and helped alleviate concerns of slower iPhone sales. Shares of the stock jumped 3% to set a new all time high.


Late in the after-hours a WSJ report reveals that stalled Sprint/T-Mobile merger talks were back on, sparking a rally in shares of Sprint.

The Indices

The indices wobbled a little in early trading, regained their footing ahead of Trump's FOMC pick and then rallied into the close. Most indices closed with marginal moves with one stand out. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed with a gain of 0.34% and set a new all time high. The index is moving up on earnings, economics and earnings expectations; today's move is supported by the indicators. Upside targets are 24,000 and 24,500 in the near to short term.


The S&P 500 also closed with a gain but did not set a new all time high. The index created a small hanging man type doji to the side of yesterday's candle and hanging just below the current all time high. Price action looks a little iffy but generally bullish, as do the indicators. Momentum persists in bearishness but is very weak and consistent with market consolidation while stochastic is firing a trend following bullish crossover. Upside target of 2,580 has been reached, next targets are near 2,600 and 2,660.


The NASDAQ Composite posted the smallest decline, -0.02%. The index created a small bodied green candle with visible lower shadow suggestive of support at current levels. Price action over the past couple of days is a bit mixed but holding at/near the all time high and supported by the indicators. Both MACD and stochastic are moving higher following bullish trend following crossovers and indicative of rising prices. Upside targets are 6,800 and 7,000 in the near to short term.


The Dow Jones Transportation Average brings up the rear in today's action with a loss of -0.05%. The transports created a medium sized hammer doji just below the short term moving average in evidence of support at this level. The indicators persist in bearishness and are convergent with this low, however weak, and suggest support will be tested again. Support is near 9,700, a break below there would be bearish with target near the long term moving average.


Price action was a bit mixed today, as it has been over the past two weeks, but is still generally bullish and hanging at/near all time highs. Now that we've seen the details for Trump's Tax Plan the next hurdle(s) will be getting it through the House and Senate, no small feat. Until then the market will continue to focus on earnings, the economy and forward earnings expectations, all of which are positive and trending higher. I remain bullish and looking for higher prices in the near to short term.

Until then, remember the trend!

Thomas Hughes


New Option Plays

Tough Week

by Jim Brown

Click here to email Jim Brown

Editors Note:

This was the last major week for the Q3 earnings cycle and there are a lot of conflicting internals. The A/D line on the S&P has been dead flat for the last week and the Nasdaq and S&P are struggling to hold their gains while the Dow is surging. Eventually they will all agree on a direction and since there are about 3,000 more stocks in the S&P and Nasdaq than the Dow, I would believe their market direction indicators rather than the 30 Dow stocks. I researched charts for about 2 hours tonight but there was nothing screaming buy me. The market is too calm despite the mixed indexes. I am recommending we wait until Monday before adding additional risk.



NEW DIRECTIONAL CALL PLAYS

No New Bullish Plays


NEW DIRECTIONAL PUT PLAYS

No New Bearish Plays



In Play Updates and Reviews

Confusing

by Jim Brown

Click here to email Jim Brown

Editors Note:

The market does not seem to want to decline despite a lot of negative internals. The Dow declined more than 80 points at the open and the S&P futures were down -11 overnight. The day started negative but recovered when the tax proposal did not have any hidden bombs and President Trump nominated Powell to be the new Fed chairman and the market liked that news.

The S&P closed only fractionally higher and the Nasdaq closed negative. That conflicts with the Dow's 81-point gain. Apple's $5 gain in afterhours should add about 32 Dow points assuming there is no post earnings sell the news event there.



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


OMC - Omnicom Group
The long put position was entered at the open.

BA - Boeing
The long call recommendation has been cancelled.



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

AABA - Altaba - Company Profile

Comments:

Alibaba reported an outstanding quarter with a 61% rise in revenue. They raised guidance for 2018 for a 49-53% rise in revenue, up from prior guidance of 45-49%. Their cloud computing business revenue rose 99%. Earnings of $1.29 bear estimates for $1.04. Revenue of $8.29 billion beat estimates for $7.86 billion. Monthly actuve users rose 3.8% to 549 million. The current quarter is going to show explosive growth given the expanded Single Day promotion.

Shares spiked on the earnings but faded to close with a $1.27 loss that translated into an 8 cent loss for AABA.

Alibaba's new Global Shopping Festival is coming on November 11th and that will produce a lot of headlines in the days ahead of the event. In 2016, they sold $17.7 billion on that day, up 32% from the prior year. With 549 million active customers, they could do well over $20 billion this year.

Original Trade Description: October 18th.

Altaba Inc. operates as a non-diversified, closed-end management investment company in the United States. Its assets consist primarily of equity investments, short-term debt investments, and cash. The company was formerly known as Yahoo! Inc. and changed its name to Altaba Inc. in June 2017. Altaba Inc. was founded in 1994 and is based in New York, New York. Company description from FinViz.com

Altaba owns a 15% stake in Alibaba, currently worth about $70 billion. They hold a stake in Yahoo Japan currently worth $7.7 billion. They have $130 million in investments. They have a $740 million stake in Excalibur, a unit of the new company that holds all the Yahoo patents that were not sold to Verizon. The company has $12 billion in cash. They recently announced a $5 billion stock buyback and the company has committed to returning nearly all the cash in the bank plus any thrown off by the investments, to the shareholders.

Owning Altaba is just like owning Alibaba only without the expensive options and a lot less volatility. We get the other parts for free. Obviously Altaba is reactive to Alibaba movement so there will still be some volatility, it is just comes with a lower risk.

Alibaba is growing much faster than Amazon and they have a larger market with 4.5 billion consumers in Asia.

Alibaba reports earnings on Nov 2nd and Altaba reports on Nov 29th. Because of the lower volatility and cheaper option prices, we can own AABA over the BABA earnings and profit from any post earnings gains.

Last week Alibaba said it was going to spend an additional $15 billion over the next three years on research. They already spend $3 billion and have more than 25,000 engineers on the payroll.

The new effort will create the Alibaba DAMO Academy, short for Discovery, Adventure, Momentum and Outlook. The academy will set up labs in China, USA, Russia, Israel and Singapore and fund collaborations with universities. They plan to explore AI, IoT, quantum computing, visual computing, machine learning and network security.

BABA shares fell $6 on the announcement because of the impact to profits. AABA shares followed Alibaba shares down and they bounced today off the 30-day average, which has been strong support. If the trend holds, this should be a buying opportunity.

I am using the Jan options so there will still be earnings expectations in the premium when we exit.

Position 10/19/17:

Long Jan $70 call @ $3.10, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.


ADI - Analog Devices - Company Profile

Comments:

No specific news. The company revised the earnings date to Nov 21st.

Original Trade Description: Sept 30th.

Analog Devices, Inc. designs, manufactures, and markets a portfolio of solutions that leverage analog, mixed-signal, and digital signal processing technology, including integrated circuits (ICs), algorithms, software, and subsystems. It offers data converter products, which translate real-world analog signals into digital data, as well as translates digital data into analog signals; high-performance amplifiers to condition analog signals; and radio frequency ICs to support cellular infrastructure. The company also provides MEMS technology solutions, including accelerometers used to sense acceleration, gyroscopes to sense rotation, and inertial measurement units to sense multiple degrees of freedom. In addition, it offers isolators for various applications, such as universal serial bus isolation in patient monitors; and smart metering and satellite applications. Further, the company provides power management and reference products; and digital signal processing products for high-speed numeric calculations. Its products are used in electronic equipment, including industrial process control systems, medical imaging equipment, factory automation systems, patient monitoring devices, instrumentation and measurement systems, wireless infrastructure equipment, energy management systems, networking equipment, aerospace and defense electronics, optical systems, automobiles, and portable electronic devices. The company serves clients in industrial, automotive, consumer, and communications markets through a direct sales force, third-party distributors, and independent sales representatives in the United States, rest of North/South America, Europe, Japan, China, and rest of Asia, as well as through its Website. It has a collaboration with TriLumina Corp. to provide illuminator modules for automotive flash LiDAR systems. Analog Devices, Inc. was founded in 1965. Company description from FinViz.com.

Expected earnings Nov 29th.

ADI is a 52-year-old chip company. Yes, they had chips in 1965. The company is doing great and tends to make chips nobody else is making and that gives them an edge. They reported Q2 earnings of $1.26, which rose 54% snf beat analyst estimates at $1.15. Revenue of $1.43 billion rose 65% and beat estimates for $1.40 billion.

They guided for the current quarter for earnings of $1.29-$1.43 and analysts were only expecting $1.25. Revenue guidance was $1.45-$1.55 billion and analysts were expecting $1.46 billion.

Shares gapped up on the late August earnings then worked through the post earnings depression cycle before moving higher. They closed at a new high on Friday.

Last week IBD raised their composite rating from 93 to 96, which means ADI is outperforming 96% of all stocks in terms of fundamental and technical stock ranking criteria. The stock has an EPS rating of 97 with moderate institutional buying over the last several weeks.

I believe the breakout will continue and we could see $90+ before earnings in November. Options are still cheap because ADI is not a high profile stock.

Position 10/2/17:

Long Dec $90 call @ $1.95, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.


BA - Boeing - Company Profile

Comments:

We were looking for some post earnings depression to give us an entry at $253 but there is no depression in Boeing. Shares rallied $4.13 today and I am cancelling the recommendation.

Original Trade Description: October 28th.

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.

Business is booming. Boeing finalized a $13.8 billion order with Singapore Airlines last week. The order is for (20) 777-9 and (19) 787-10 planes. The rumor that will never die surfaced again and that being an Amazon order for (100) 767 freighters. This first appeared in March and keeps resurfacing. Amazon's leases for its current (40) 767 freighters do not expire until 2023. That means there is no rush to order more since it would take years for Boeing to make them but still deliver before 2023. There is another rumor that surfaced last week that Amazon is shopping for financing/lease arrangements for (400) 767s to be delivered over the next ten years. Boeing went to its managers and workers last week to see what would be needed to "significantly" boost production rates for a large and important customer. Boeing is rumored to be looking at a doubling of the production rate. They currently produce (2) 767s per month and they are planning on raising this to 4 per month from January 2020 through January 2021 then slowly scale back to 2 per month by 2025. This would seem to indicate a 40-60 plane order from a single customer for delivery in 2021. Shares closed at a new high.

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.

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.

Boeing recently upgraded their forecast for plane demand from China. The company now predicts China will buy 7,240 planes, up from 6,810 in the prior forecast. The value of these planes will be more than $1.1 trillion. The period covered is 2016 to 2036. China is expected to be 20% of the global demand for aircraft over the next 20 years. Boeing said the rapidly growing middle class and the continued economic growth in China would fuel the growth of airline travel.

Boeing raised its 20-year target on deliveries to Southeast Asia by 460 planes saying demand should exceed 4,210 new planes worth $650 billion. Boeing said Southeast Asia was the fastest growing market in the world and 10% of the global market.

Boeing reported a 7.4% rise in Q3 deliveries due to the high demand for the 737 jetliners. Boeing delivered 202 planes in Q3 compared to 188 in the year ago quarter. Of that total 145 were 737s, up from 120 last year. The 787 Dreamliners slipped 1 to 35 and 777s fell from 22 to 16. Boeing has delivered 554 planes in 2017 and expects to deliver 760-765 for the year. They received 127 new orders in Q3.

For Q3 they reported earnings of $2.72 per share that beat estimates by 7 cents. Revenue was $24.31 billion, which also beat estimates. They guided for the full year for earnings of $9.90-$10.10, ten cents higher than prior guidance. They repurchased $2.5 billion in shares in Q3. Their order backlog is $474 billion for nearly 5,700 commercial planes.

The Commerce Department said orders for commercial aircraft surged 30% in September.

Shares declined with the Dow after earnings. Since they are up roughly 80% for the year, it is understandable they needed to rest. There is support at $253 and again at $234. If the Dow declines next week I would like to enter this position on a touch of initial support.

Recommendation cancelled.


COST - Costco - Company Profile

Comments:

Costco reported a 10.1% increase in sales for October to $10.02 billion. For the first 8 weeks of their fiscal 2018 sales have risen 11.3% to $19.87 billion. Same store sales for that 8-week period was +8.1% in the USA, +9.0% in Canada, +9.3% international. Companywide comps sales were +8.3% with a 32.2% in ecommerce sales. I can't wait to see the Whole Foods comp sales numbers but I doubt Amazon will break them out. There is ZERO impact on Costco from the Whole Foods/Amazon acquisition.

Original Trade Description: October 14th.

Costco Wholesale Corporation, together with its subsidiaries, operates membership warehouses. It offers branded and private-label products in a range of merchandise categories. The company provides dry and packaged foods, and groceries; snack foods, candies, alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages, and cleaning supplies; appliances, electronics, health and beauty aids, hardware, and garden and patio; meat, bakery, deli, and produces; and apparel and small appliances. It also operates gas stations, pharmacies, optical dispensing centers, food courts, and hearing-aid centers; and engages in the travel businesses. In addition, the company provides gold star individual and business membership services. As of August 28, 2016, it operated 715 warehouses, including 501 warehouses in the United States, Washington, District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico; 91 in Canada; 36 in Mexico; 28 in the United Kingdom; 25 in Japan; 12 in Korea; 12 in Taiwan; 8 in Australia; and 2 in Spain. Further, the company sells its products through online. Company description from FinViz.com.

We all know the story. Amazon bought Whole Foods and Costco shares lost over $30. Fast forward three months and Costco reported strong earnings but analysts still believed Whole Foods was going to kill them. Shares fell $13.

Let me put this in caps. IGNORE WHOLE FOODS. They are an entirely different business model and even with Amazon behind them, they are no threat to Costco. Costco operates 741 retail warehouses, each 4 times bigger than a Whole Foods store. Whole Foods only has 346 stores. At Costco you can buy food, diamond rings, cameras, large screen TVs, clothing, drugs, discount eye glasses, GE appliances, cruises to anywhere in the world and caskets among thousands of other items. Whole Foods has food.

Costco reported earnings of $2.08 that beat estimates for $2.02. Revenue of $42.3 billion beat estimates for $41.55 billion. Those numbers were up from $1.77 and $36.56 billion in the year ago quarter. US same store sales were up 6.5% and online sales were up 30%. There was NO weakness from the Whole Foods acquisition.

Paid memberships rose 274,000 to 18.5 million. That equates to an addition of 16,000 per week. Business members had a 94% renewal rate and Gold Star members an 89.3% renewal rate. They ended the quarter with $5.78 billion in cash, up more than $1 billion from the year ago quarter.

Costco rolled out a free two-day delivery service for orders over $75 with same day delivery at 376 stores through Instacart.

Shares were knocked for a loss despite the strong results because analysts are still only looking at the surface comparisons between Whole Foods and Costco. The decline stopped at $155 and did not even come close to strong support at $155. The weakness lasted five days.

On Friday, JP Morgan released the results of a recent survey showing Costco grocery prices were a whopping 58% cheaper than Whole Foods. JP Morgan said Whole Foods and Costco actually have very little in common other than a few grocery items and Costco wins hands down.

That report lifted Costco shares by $2.63 on Friday but the stock has a long way to go to recover lost ground.

I looked at the December option with only 48 days left because it was cheaper but I chose the January option with 97 days left because it expires after their January 4th earnings and will retain its premium better. We can always buy time but we do not have to use it.

Update 10/18: Reuters released a survey of 8,600 online shoppers and 75% said they never or rarely by groceries online. While that should have been negative to Amazon and the Whole Foods purchase, it weighed on COST as well because of their efforts to accelerate their online business. Amazon fell $12 on the news.

Update 10/20: Oppenheimer reiterated an outperform rating and $185 price target. They listed 5 reasons why Costco is still a buy. Management optimism, credit card change is over, the new delivery options are just starting, IT investments over the last several years are paying off and costs are declining, improved advertising showing the extended benefits of being a member.

Position 10/16/17:

Long Jan $165 call @ $3.85, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.


MU - Micron Technology - Company Profile

Comments:

No specific news. Micron shares are still holding the gains from the Samsung spike.

Original Trade Description: October 9th.

Micron Technology, Inc. provides semiconductor systems worldwide. The company operates through four segments: Compute and Networking Business Unit, Storage Business Unit, Mobile Business Unit, and Embedded Business Unit. It offers DDR3 and DDR4 DRAM products for computers, servers, networking devices, communications equipment, consumer electronics, automotive, and industrial applications; mobile low-power DRAM products for smartphones, tablets, automotive, laptop computers, and other mobile consumer device applications; DDR2 and DDR DRAM, GDDR5 and GDDR5X DRAM, SDRAM, and RLDRAM products for networking devices, servers, consumer electronics, communications equipment, computer peripherals, automotive and industrial applications, and computer memory upgrades; and hybrid memory cube semiconductor memory devices for use in networking and computing applications. The company also provides NAND Flash products, which are electrically re-writeable, non-volatile semiconductor memory devices; client solid-state drives (SSDs) for notebooks, desktops, workstations, and other consumer applications; enterprise SSDs for server and storage applications; managed multi-chip package products; digital media products, including flash memory cards and JumpDrive products under the Lexar brand name. In addition, it manufactures products that are sold under other brand names; and resells flash memory products that are purchased from other NAND Flash suppliers. Further, the company provides 3D XPoint memory products; and NOR Flash, which are electrically re-writeable and semiconductor memory devices for automotive, industrial, connected home, and consumer applications. Company description from FinViz.com.

Micron is on a roll. Analysts are targeting $50 by the end of December despite the monster gain so far in 2017. Memory is in short supply and prices are rising monthly. The rapid escalation of cloud technology is demanding hundreds of thousands of servers per quarter, millions of disk drives and untold numbers of PCs, phones, tablets and IoT devices.

For Q2, they reported earnings of $2.02 compared to estimates for $1.84. Revenue rose 90% to $6.14 billion and analysts were expecting $5.97 billion.

For the current quarter, analysts are expecting $2.14 in earnings on a 60% increase in revenue. They are likely to beat those estimates.

Despite the strong earnings and forecasts, the company trades at a PE of 8.7 when the S&P is trading at 18.0. This is a monumental mismatch and suggests investors will be racing to buy this undervalued stock.

Shares spiked on earnings and ran up to $40.50. There was a three-day decline of about $1 to consolidate those gains and the stock surged again to close at a new high on Monday. I was hoping for a deeper pullback to buy but it never happened. If we do not buy this breakout, we could still be waiting after it runs up another $5.

I am using January options to capture the earnings expectations in December.

Update 10/10/17: Shares of Micron rallied more than $1 in the regular session but fell $2 in afterhours. The company announced a $1 billion secondary offering after the close. The proceeds will be used to pay off debt including $476 million of 7.5% secured notes and various other notes and credit lines. This should be positive for Micron because interest costs will decline but it will add approximately 25 million shares to the float.

Update 10/11/17: Shares rebounded from the $2 selloff in afterhours to close down only 37 cents. Summit Redstone said buy the dip because the secondary offering to pay off debt was an exercise in value creation. The analyst has a $51 price target. Instinet reiterated a buy rating and $45 target. Wells Fargo reiterated a buy rating and $45 target. Credit Suisse reiterated an outperform rating and $50 target.

Update 10/12/17: Micron priced its $1.2 billion, upsized secondary, at $41 after the close on Wednesday. Shares had closed at $41.61 and dipped today to close at $40.50. Barclay's boosted their target price from $40 to $60 saying DRAM demand looks good through 2018. Demand should remain high and supply should remain tight. Needham, Rajvinda Gill has a price target of $76. Let's hope he is right.

Update 10/18/17: Micron said it was retiring $2.25 billion in debt that carried interest rates of 7.5% and 5.25%. The secondary offering last week will provide most of the funds with the rest paid out of cash on hand. Shares posted a nice gain on the news and have almost recovered the $42 highs before the secondary was announced.

Update 10/20/17: Deutsche Bank reiterated a buy rating. UBS reiterated a buy rating and raised his price target from $39 to $53. UBS said Micron would be cash positive in 2018. The analyst no longer sees DRAM prices declining in 2018 as previously forecast.

Update 10/24/17: David Einhorn's Greenlight Capital took a new position in Micron saying investors are under appreciating the dynamics of the current memory cycle.

Update 10/31/17: Shares soared after Samsung reported earnings and said supply og DRAM and NAND memory would continue to be tight through 2018. That means higher prices for all memory makers. Samsung posted a 200% increase in profits on a 30% increase in revenue.

Position 10/10/17:

Long Jan $43 call @ $3.05, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.


PYPL - PayPal - Company Profile

Comments:

PayPal is going to launch a digital payment service in India next week. That is a market with 1.324 billion consumers. That should give PayPal a boost in revenue over the next year.

Original Trade Description: October 25th.

PayPal Holdings, Inc. operates as a technology platform company that enables digital and mobile payments on behalf of consumers and merchants worldwide. It enables businesses of various sizes to accept payments from merchant Websites, mobile devices, and applications, as well as at offline retail locations through a range of payment solutions, including PayPal, PayPal Credit, Braintree, Venmo, Xoom, and Paydiant products. The company's platform allows consumers to shop by sending payments, withdraw funds to their bank accounts, and hold balances in their PayPal accounts in various currencies. Company description from FinViz.com.

They reported Q3 earnings of 46 cents, up 32%, that beat estimates for 44 cents. Revenue of $3.24 billion, up 21% and beat estimates for $3.17 billion. They guided for the current quarter for earnings of 50-52 cents and full year earnings of $1.86-$1.88. Mobile payment volume rose 54% to about $40 billion. Total payments rose 31% to $114 billion. Free cash flow rose 36% to $841 million and they have $7.1 billion in cash. They added 8.2 million active accounts with net new actives up 88%. They now have 218 million active customer accounts with 17 million merchants. They processed 1.9 billion payments, up 26%.

Q4 revenue is expected to rise 20-22% to $3.570-$3.630 billion. Paypal said payment platform Venmo was on track with expectations. The platform processed $9.1 billion in payment volume, a 93% YoY increase.

Expected earnings January 18th.

The company recently announced partnership deals with Baidu, Bank of America, Visa, JP Morgan, Facebook and Apple. They have changed their focus from disruptor to partner where they can process more transactions through the partners. The Baidu partnership will connect them to 700 million Chinese shoppers and 17 million Paypal merchants. The deal with Apple to allow Paypal in the iTunes store, AppStore and Apple Music will connect them to more than 1 billion IOS devices worldwide. The Facebook partnership gives them access to 2.01 billion users.

Pacific Crest Securities said their market cap of $85 billion does not make them too big to be acquired by a larger bank. Even Amazon has been mentioned as a possible acquirer.

In mid August Paypal said it was acquiring Swift Financial, a small business lender and the transaction would close by the end of 2017. No terms were given. This will extend Paypal's reach for financing services. Paypal already has a working capital unit since 2013 and they have loaned more than $3 billion to small businesses.

Thanks to recent agreements with MC/V, users will be able to transfer money directly from their accounts to credit/debit cards, which will become a big selling point. The new "Pay with Venmo" platform that will allow users to make purchases at retail locations is in test mode with Lululemon, Athletica and Forever 21 already accepting those payments. This is turning into another big revenue stream for Paypal.

Shares posted an 81% gain on Wednesday when the market was down on much needed profit taking. Investors looking for a buying opportunity are going to be left behind.

Position 10/26/17:

Long Jan $72.50 call @ $2.95, see portfolio graphic for stop loss


VIX - Volatility Index - Index Profile

Comments:

No material move in a mixed market.

If we ever hit that exit target at 16 it means we are probably going to lose other long positions. This is insurance against that potential decline.

This is the fourth longest period in history of the markets without a 5% decline. While it does not look likely today, it could happen at any time. It has been 482 days since a 5% decline.

Original Trade Description: July 12th.

The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX Index) is a key measure of market expectations of near-term volatility conveyed by S&P 500 stock index option prices. Since its introduction in 1993, the VIX Index has been considered by many to be the world's premier barometer of investor sentiment and market volatility. Several investors expressed interest in trading instruments related to the market's expectation of future volatility, and so VX futures were introduced in 2004, and VIX options were introduced in 2006.

The VIX closed at a 24-year low on July 14th at 9.51. The index has been spending a lot of time under 10 over the last three months and this is highly abnormal. The VIX typically trades up to 20 or more three times a year or more. That has not happen since the days before the election. This period of abnormal volatility WILL eventually end.

With the Trump administration getting more desperate to achieve some legislative goals there is always the risk they will go to extremes to get them accomplished. Add in the unknown but rapidly expanding Russian probes and anything is possible. We saw the Dow fall triple digits intraday on just the release of 5 emails from Trump Jr. If the probe actually uncovered something material, it could cause a major market meltdown.

The debt ceiling and the budget expire on Sept 31st. If Congress cannot get a budget passed and raise the debt ceiling, the government would shut down on October 1st. We have seen this before. The last time it happened the U.S. lost its AAA credit rating and the market declined sharply for more than a week.

What about North Korea? Military force could be used at any time but North Korea seems dead set on testing another nuke and expanding its ICBM tests. If fighting breaks out between the U.S. and North Korea it would cause a significant market decline because of the geopolitical concerns and the potential loss of life in Seoul, South Korea.

Even if none of those events occurred, there is always the risk of a 10% market decline just because we have not had one in a very long time. With August and September the worst months of the year for the market, the potential for a correction this year could be higher than normal. The Nasdaq is already up 18% and the Dow 9% for the year. The FAANG stocks are at record highs, which many say are unsupported by fundamentals.

There are so many potential opportunities for a market disaster. It only makes sense to take out some protection while the volatility is at record lows. I am recommending a November call to get us past the Aug/Sep period and the potential for a debt ceiling event in early October.

Position 7/20/17:

Long Nov $15 call @ $1.85, no stop loss, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.



BEARISH Play Updates (Alpha by Symbol)

DIA - Dow SPDR ETF - ETF Profile

Comments:

The Dow fell over 80 points at the open and rebounded to close with an 81-point gain. If the direction does not change by Monday, I will close the position on Tuesday.

Original Trade Description: October 21st.

The SPDR Dow Jones Industrial Average ETF Trust seeks to provide investment results that, before expenses, correspond generally to the price and yield performance of the Dow Jones Industrial Average. The DJIA is the oldest continuous barometer of the U.S. stock market, and the most widely quoted indicator of U.S. stock market activity.

I am going to make this as simple as possible. The Dow is extremely overbought. It is due for a rest. There are 12 Dow components reporting earnings this week. Volatility will occur but we do not know in which direction. Since all the Dow gainers are already up strongly over the last several weeks, there is a good chance we could see some declines.

This is highly speculative. I am using November options because they are cheap but they will require a substantial move in the next ten days or they will decay quickly. This will be a quick trade.

Buy Nov $232 put, currently $1.86, no initial stop loss.


PG - Procter & Gamble - Company Profile

Comments:

No specific news. Minor decline and back to the lows.

Original Trade Description: October 28th.

The Procter & Gamble Company provides branded consumer packaged goods to consumers in the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, Europe, the Asia Pacific, Greater China, Latin America, India, the Middle East, and Africa. The company's Beauty segment offers hair care products, including conditioners, shampoos, styling aids, and treatments; and skin and personal care products, such as antiperspirant and deodorant, personal cleansing, and skin care products. It markets its products under Head & Shoulders, Pantene, Rejoice, Olay, Old Spice, Safeguard, and SK-II brands. The company's Grooming segment provides shave care products comprising female and male blades and razors, pre- and post-shave products, and other shave care products; and appliances that include electric razors and epilators under the Braun, Fusion, Gillette, Mach3, Prestobarba, and Venus brands. Its Health Care segment offers toothbrushes, toothpastes, and other oral care products; and gastrointestinal, rapid diagnostics, respiratory, vitamin/mineral/supplement, and other personal health care products under the Crest, Oral-B, Prilosec, and Vicks brands. The company's Fabric & Home Care segment provides fabric enhancers, laundry additives, and laundry detergents; and air care, dish care, P&G professional, and surface care products under the Ariel, Downy, Gain, Tide, Cascade, Dawn, Febreze, Mr. Clean, and Swiffer brands. Its Baby, Feminine & Family Care segment offers baby wipes, diapers, and pants; adult incontinence and feminine care products; and paper towels, tissues, and toilet paper under the Luvs, Pampers, Always, Tampax, Bounty, and Charmin brands. The company sells its products through mass merchandisers, grocery stores, membership club stores, drug stores, department stores, distributors, baby stores, specialty beauty stores, e-commerce, high-frequency stores, and pharmacies. The Procter & Gamble Company was founded in 1837 and is based in Cincinnati, Ohio. Company description from FinViz.com.

P&G survived a proxy fight from activist investor Nelson Peltz but that does not mean their problems are over. Peltz said, "I believe that there is a direct correlation between how poorly a company is doing and how big of a fight they put up." Peltz estimated the company spent $100 million in their fight to keep him off the board. He said that is a lot of money for a company to spend to keep a knowledgeable investor from seeing the real numbers inside the company. Peltz has not conceded and an official recount of the votes is being conducted.

PG reported adjusted earnings of $1.09 that beat estimates by a penny. Revenue of $16.65 billion rose only 1% and missed estimates for $16.69 billion. Revenue from their grooming business has declined for three consecutive quarters. Peltz believes the entire company is in decline and they are massaging the numbers to put some lipstick on the pig. That only works for a short time.

Earnings January 19th.

Shares have declined $5 since the Oct 18th earnings and they are on the verge of breaking below 52-week support at $86. If the market is going to weaken on post earnings depression after this week, PG could be a leader to the downside given the negative analyst views.

Position 10/31/17:

Long Jan $85 Put @ $1.88, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.


SLB - Schlumberger - Company Profile

Comments:

No specific news. Crude oil prices are still holding over $54 but SLB shares are falling again.

Original Trade Description: October 23rd.

Schlumberger Limited supplies technology products and services to the oil and gas exploration and production industry worldwide. Its Reservoir Characterization Group segment provides reservoir imaging, monitoring, and development services; wireline technologies for open and cased-hole services; slickline services; exploration and production pressure and flow-rate measurement services comprising surface and downhole services; software integrated solutions, such as software, consulting, information management, and IT infrastructure services; consulting services for reservoir characterization, field development planning, and production enhancement; and petrotechnical data services and training solutions, as well as integrated management services. Its Drilling Group segment designs, manufactures, and markets roller cone and fixed cutter drill bits; supplies drilling fluid systems; provides pressure drilling and underbalanced drilling solutions, and environmental services and products; mud logging services; land drilling rigs and support services; and well planning and drilling, engineering, supervision, logistics, procurement, contracting, and drilling rig management services, as well as bottom-hole-assembly, borehole-enlargement technologies, impact tools, tubulars, and tubular services. Its Production Group segment provides well services comprising pressure pumping, well cementing, and stimulation services; coiled tubing equipment; well completion services and equipment that include packers, safety valves, and sand control technology, as well as completions technology and equipment; artificial lifts; and integrated production and production management services. Its Cameron Group segment offers integrated subsea production systems; surface systems; drilling equipment and services; and valve products and measurement systems. Company description from FinViz.com.

The company said the already week offshore sector was also declining because offshore drilling/production is not profitable at $50 oil. This sector will continue to decline until oil prices rebound over $75 sometime in 2019 according to best estimates.

Schlumberger said production growth was slowing faster than expected. That means less cash flow for producers and another decline in rig counts. The company said customers were reducing their forecasts for prices and activity for 2018 and future revenue and profitability was likely to decline.

Shares fell $2 post earnings to $62 but the odds are very good we are going to see lower lows as the energy companies report disappointing earnings and guidance in the weeks ahead.

Earnings January 19th.

Position 10/24/17:

Long Jan $60 put @ $1.42, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.




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