Option Investor
Newsletter

Daily Newsletter, Monday, 11/6/2017

Table of Contents

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

Market Wrap

Quietly Making New Highs

by Thomas Hughes

Click here to email Thomas Hughes

Introduction

The markets continue to drift higher, quietly making new highs as merger news hits the market. Last week there were hints of a possibly Broadcom/Qualcomm deal, those hints were confirmed. Broadcom has made an unsolicited offer for its smaller rival. Today we hear of a possible sale of 21st Century Fox to Disney. The deal is as yet unconfirmed, merely news that talks were held, but would end up with Disney owning most of but not all of the company and specifically movie studios, what would be left is a Fox narrowly focused on news and sports.

Global indices were mostly flat. In Asia trading was muted as President Trump's multi-nation tour gets underway in true Trump fashion. The president is quoted both praising and criticizing the very leaders he is set to meet. The Shang Hai Composite led with a gain just over 0.5% while the Nikkei and Heng Seng each closed with a bare minimum of movement. In Europe markets were flat as well with indices evenly split between gainers and losers. Earnings were in focus, as was the rising price of oil.

Market Statistics

Futures trading was flat to negative for most of the early morning but gained a little going into the open. The open was calm and quiet; the SPX opened with a marginal gain, moved down to test support just below Friday's close and then bounced from there. The index crept higher throughout the morning and into late afternoon setting new all time highs along the way. The days action was light, moves were small and the indices ended the day closing with marginal gains.

Economic Calendar

The Economy

There was no economic data today and very little this week. Tomorrow is the NFIB survey, JOLTs and Consumer Credit, Thursday is jobless claims and Wholesale Inventories and then on Friday Consumer Confidence.

Moody's Survey of Business Confidence gained a half percent to hit 28.3 but remain low relative to the last year. Mr. Zandi takes note of recent weakness citing downturns in sales, hiring and investment that appear to be heaviest in the US. Despite this the index remains high relative to historic levels with a significant number of respondents optimistic about the next 6 months.


With 81% of the S&P 500 reporting the blended rate of earnings growth is now 5.9%. Of those who have reported 74% are beating on EPS and 66% are beating on the revenue end, both above average. To date there are 6 sectors producing growth, led by the energy sector, while 7 sectors have higher growth rates today than they were expected to have.


Looking forward double digit growth is still expected to return next quarter and persist through the end of 2018. Next quarter estimate has fallen a bit, to 10.4%, but full year 2017 estimate is rising on this quarters results. The first quarter estimate for next year edged up to 10.6% while the 2nd edged down to 10.2%. Full year 2018 estimate also edged down but remains strong at 11.0%.


The Dollar Index

The Dollar Index gave up some of its gains today but remains above the $94 support target and well above the recent lows. The index appears to be in reversal following the break of a head&shoulders reversal and is indicated higher. This reversal is driven by firming of FOMC outlook coupled with softened ECB, BOJ and BOE outlook that will likely persist into the next round of central bank policy meetings if not longer. New resistance is now at $95, a break of which would confirm continuation of the reversal with next upside target near $96.25. A fall back below $94 would be bearish in the near term and likely keep the index range bound in the near to short term.


The Gold Index

Gold prices firmed today as the dollar consolidated its gains. Spot price moved up a little more than 1% to move above $1,280. This move is potentially bullish but does still face multiple resistance targets on the way up to $1,300. The caveat is that there is little to support the move other than today's fall in the dollar, unless Trump's Asia tour or the Saudi corruption purge has put the market on edge.

The Gold Miners ETF GDX moved higher in today's action, gaining a half percent in a move up from the $22.50 support target. This move confirms support at the midpoint of the long term trading range and is confirmed by the indicators. The caveat is that today's move also met resistance at the moving averages which happen to be forming a bearish crossover. A move above the moving averages would be bullish but leave the index within its trading range, a failure to move above and/or fall below current support would be bearish.


The Oil Index

Bullish oil traders struck black gold today. The price of WTI and Brent both surged more than 3% to close at multi-year highs. WTI gained $1.74 to close near $57.50 and may continue higher on momentum alone. The move was set up by signs of market tightening and hopes of OPEC's extension of production caps. It was set off by this weekends crackdown in Saudi Arabia which has sparked some worry over possibly supply disruption.

The Oil Index gained more than 2% on the move in oil, creating a large green maribozu candle. This is a strong candle consistent with the underlying trend, current earnings, forward earnings outlook, rising oil prices and a shifting fundamental outlook. The indicators are both in support of the move as well as indicative of strength. MACD is moving higher following a bullish crossover while stochastic is doing the same and also showing strength with a bullish crossover of the upper signal line. Upside target is 1,300. The caveat is that this candle may also signal a euphoric top to the market, I would be cautious with new and current positions.


In The News, Story Stocks and Earnings

Broadcom officially offered to buy Qualcom for $70 a share in cash and stock. Holders of QCOM would get $60 per share and $10 in stock which was a 20%+ premium to the price just before the rumors hit the market last week. There is yet no response from QCOM but one is expected soon. Shares of the stock gapped up at the open and hit the $65 level before falling back from resistance.


Disney and 21st Fox are in talk that could lead to Disney owning most of Fox's studios, production facilities and content. The deal is seen as a big bonus for Disney as it would increase its production capabilities, bring a host of new content under its wings and eradicate a source of competition. So far now comments from either company. Shares of Disney gained more than 2% on the news and broke above the short term moving average.


Online auto dealer Truecar reported after the bell and disappointed the market. The company was able to deliver a 10% gain in YOY revenue but missed expectations. Adjusted EPS of $0.02 beat by a penny but was offset by weak forward guidance. Shares of the stock fell more than -13% in after hours trading.

Avis Budget reported after the bell and missed on the top and bottom lines. The company also gave weak forward guidance which drove prices lower in after hours trading.

AMC Entertainment beat on the top and bottom lines sending the stock higher immediately after the release. A few minutes later, after traders had a chance to read down and see weak forward guidance, shares fell close to -5%.

Weight Watchers beat on both the top and bottom lines with EPS beating smartly. On top of this forward guidance for the full year was raised to the high end of the previous range. Shares of the stock jumped more than 8% on the news.


The Indices

note-I've redrawn trend, support and resistance lines.

Today's action was not robust, the market did not surge higher but it did move higher and set new all time highs. With one exception, the Dow Jones Transportation Average. The transports fell more than -0.20% to create a small spinning top doji just above current support. The index has been drifting lower over the near term and is now in danger of making a deep/deeper decline. The index show small sign of support at this level but remain bearish and suggestive of lower prices. Additionally, the short term moving average is beginning to roll over and will act as resistance on any move higher. If resistance is confirmed the index could go as low as 9,500 and the long term moving average in the near to short term.


Today's leader was the NASDAQ Composite. The tech heavy index gained 0.32% to set a new all time high. Today's candle is small and green, edging up from last week's close, and is supported by the indicators. Both MACD and Stochastic are rising following bullish crossovers and suggestive of higher prices. Stochastic is showing some strength as well with a cross of the upper signal line by %D. Upside targets are 6,800 and 7,000.


The S&P 500 made the second largest gain, a modest 0.12%. The broad market created a small spinning top type candle but set a new all time high while doing so. The move was not strong but is supported by the indicators. Stochastic has already fired a bullish crossover and moved higher with today's action, MACD confirmed today with a crossover of its own. Upside targets are 2,600 and 2,660.


The Dow Jones Industrial Average posted the smallest gain, only 0.03%, and created a very small spinning top doji. It also set a new all time high. The index is drifting higher in line with underlying trends and supported by the indicators. MACD is showing a bit of weakness in the near term but strongly bullish in the long while stochastic is confirming trend with a bullish crossover above the upper signal line. Market action may not be vigorous but the signs all point to higher prices. Upside target is 24,000.


Today's action wasn't strong but it was bullish and set new all time highs for most of the market. That being said there is something troubling me. The transports persist in drifting lower and appear set to correct back to the long term moving average. This isn't a definite signal but it does suggest the broader market could correct as well. Considering that we are nearing the end of the earnings cycle there is a chance the market could enter a period of consolidation, rotation and/or correction in the lull between seasons. The good news is that such a consolidation is yet to materialize. I remain cautiously bullish for the near term, firmly bullish for the short and long term.

Until then, remember the trend!

Thomas Hughes


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New Option Plays

Post Earnings Dip

by Jim Brown

Click here to email Jim Brown

Editors Note:

Better than expected earnings created a huge spike in Seagate but that has now faded.



NEW DIRECTIONAL CALL PLAYS

STX - Seagate Technology - Company Profile

Seagate Technology plc provides data storage technology and solutions in Singapore, the United States, the Netherlands, and internationally. The company manufactures and distributes hard disk drives, solid state drives and their related controllers, solid state hybrid drives, and storage subsystems. Its products are used in enterprise servers and storage systems applications; client compute applications, primarily for desktop and mobile computing; and client non-compute applications, including various end user devices, such as portable external storage systems, surveillance systems, network-attached storage, digital video recorders, and gaming consoles. The company offers external backup storage solutions under the Backup Plus and Expansion product lines, as well as under the Maxtor and LaCie brand names available in capacities up to 120 terabytes. It sells its products primarily to original equipment manufacturers, distributors, and retailers. Company description from FinViz.com.

Earnings January 22nd.

Seagate posted earnings of 96 cents that beat estimates for 86 cents. Revenue of $2.63 billion beat estimates for $2.53 billion despite a 6% decline. The declared a quarterly dividend of 63 cents payable January 3rd to holders on Dec 20th. During the quarter they returned $350 million to shareholders through dividends and stock repurchases. Cash on hand was $2.3 billion.

The company said demand was increasing as the move to cloud storage was creating the need for massive amounts of data bandwidth, storage, manipulation and retrieval. The average storage per drive shipped was 1.7 terabytes with the average selling price $64 per drive. Hard drive storage is a commodity business where existing technology is competing on a byte per dollar basis and new technology is the only way to expand ASPs. Seagate is progressing in that battle with larger and larger drives that operate at faster speeds and last longer between failures. With many businesses moving to SSD storage, Western Digital has the lead there because of its partnership with Toshiba. However, Seagate just signed on to the consortium that is buying the other half of the Toshiba memory business that WDC does not own. This will enable Seagate to acquire memory for the lowest prices possible and compete with WDC in the SSD arena.

Seagate shares spiked from $35 to $40 on the earnings. They declined back to $36 where they found support and it appears a rebound has begun. Shares were already trending higher before the earnings and this could be an extension of that trend.

Buy Jan $39 call, currently $1.14, no initial stop loss.


NEW DIRECTIONAL PUT PLAYS

No New Bearish Plays



In Play Updates and Reviews

Momentum Fading

by Jim Brown

Click here to email Jim Brown

Editors Note:

Techs stocks posted gains again but the rest of the market appears to be slowing. The Dow gained 9 points and the S&P 3 points. There was definitely no excitement. The Nasdaq posted a decent gain but only four of the big caps had gains over $2. This is the week where post earnings depression should appear.



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


AXP - American Express
The long call position was entered at the open.

MU - Micron
The long call position was stopped at $42.85.

SLB - Schlumberger
The long put position was stopped at $65.65.



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BULLISH Play Updates

AABA - Altaba - Company Profile

Comments:

Oppenheimer raised the price target on Alibaba from $200 to $220 saying their recent earnings have made him more bullish on valuations. "Overall we believe Alibaba is uniquely positioned to benefit from the rise of the Chinese middle-class consumption."

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.

Update 11/2: 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.

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. New record high close.

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.


AXP - American Express - Company Profile

Comments:

No specific news. Fighting resistance at $96.50.

Original Trade Description: November 4th

American Express Company, together with its subsidiaries, provides charge and credit payment card products and travel-related services to consumers and businesses worldwide. It operates through four segments: U.S. Consumer Services, International Consumer and Network Services, Global Commercial Services, and Global Merchant Services. The company's products and services include charge and credit card products, as well as other payment and financing products; network services; expense management products and services; travel-related services; and stored value/prepaid products. Its products and services also comprise merchant acquisition and processing, servicing and settlement, merchant financing, point-of-sale marketing, and information products and services for merchants; and fraud prevention services, as well as the design and operation of customer loyalty programs. The company sells its products and services to consumers, small businesses, mid-sized companies, and large corporations through online applications, direct mail, in-house teams, third-party vendors, and direct response advertising. American Express Company was founded in 1850 and is headquartered in New York, New York. Company description from FinViz.com.

The company was founded in 1850. Did you really think a temporary blip from the change at Costco was going to impact them long term? Of course not although analysts were pretty negative for several months. Since that fiasco shares have recovered nicely and closed at a record high on Friday.

They posted Q3 earnings of $1.50 that beat estimates for $1.47. Revenue of $8.44 billion beat estimates for $8.32 billion. Revenues rose 9% and earnings rose 19%. They guided for full year earnings of $5.80-$5.90, up from prior guidance of $5.60-$5.80.

Earnings January 17th.

The CEO said "we are completing a two year turnaround ahead of plan with strong revenue and earnings growth across all our business segments. We added products and benefits, shown continued strength in acquiring new customers and expanded our merchant network. Loan growth continued to be strong and credit metrics were again in line with our expectations. We contained operating costs and reallocated a significant part of those savings to fund many of the initiatives that are driving growth across the business."

Shares have been moving mostly sideways with a slight upward bias the last 7 days but I believe they are about to break out for a new leg higher.

Position 11/6/17:

Long Jan $100 call @ $1.67, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.


COST - Costco - Company Profile

Comments:

No specific news.

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.

Update 11/2: 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.

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. Shares fell sharply at the open on news of the Broadcom offer for Qualcomm and that Intel was teaming up with AMD. We were stopped out for a minor gain.

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:

Closed 11/6: Long Jan $43 call @ $3.05, exit $3.55, +.50 gain.


PYPL - PayPal - Company Profile

Comments:

No specific news. New record high close.

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:

VIX up in a positive market and the Dow barely positive. Could we be approaching the end of the current rally?

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 492 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:

I said I was thinking about closing this position on Monday if the Dow kept climbing. The index only posted a 9-point gain today and 22 points on Friday. The option is only worth 36 cents today. With the Dow momentum slowing, I think we should hold it.

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.


OMC - Omnicom Group - Company Profile

Comments:

No specific news. Only a minor rebound from the 2-yr low close on Thursday.

Original Trade Description: Nov 1st.

Omnicom Group Inc., together with its subsidiaries, provides advertising, marketing, and corporate communications services. The company offers a range of services in the areas of advertising, customer relationship management, or CRM, public relations, and specialty communications. Its services comprise advertising, brand consultancy, content marketing, corporate social responsibility consulting, crisis communication, custom publishing, data analytics, database management, environmental design, financial/corporate business-to-business advertising, graphic arts/digital imaging, healthcare communications, and instore design services. The company's services also include direct, entertainment, experiential, and field, interactive, mobile, multi-cultural, non-profit, promotional, retail, search engine, social media, and sports and event marketing services; and investor relations, marketing research, media planning and buying, organizational communications, package design, product placement, public affairs, public relations, and reputation consulting services. It operates in North America, Latin America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Australia, China, India, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Singapore, and other Asian countries. Omnicom Group Inc. was founded in 1944 and is based in New York, New York. Company description from FinViz.com.

Omnicom reported Q3 earnings of $1.13 that beat estimates for $1.10. Revenue of $3.72 billion declined -1.9% and narrowly beat estimates for $3.71 billion.

Expected earnings Jan 16th.

Omnicom was the only advertising agency that posted decent earnings. Interpublic Group (IPG) and WPP Group (WPPGY) both lowered guidance as their biggest clients like McDonalds, Procter & Gamble, J&J, etc, all began to shrink advertising budgets. Amazon has turned into a seller of everything and companies like PG and JNJ are suffering from product price declines and less buying from normal wholesale customers.

McDonalds said this week they were going to review their $2 billion advertising budget and see how much they needed to divert to social sites like Instagram and Facebook. The advertising being served on Facebook does not need a multibillion dollar ad agency to place it. Everything is online and companies have instant access to more than 3 billion consumers between Facebook, YouTube and the Google Chrome browser. The historical advertising business is undergoing a revolution.

Shares of OMC have declined to a two-year low and with the other companies lowering guidance and Facebook posting blowout advertising numbers tonight, we could see lower lows on OMC.

Position 11//2/17:

Long $65 put @ $1.70, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.


PG - Procter & Gamble - Company Profile

Comments:

No specific news. New 52-week low close.

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 soared again to $57.60 intraday and the oil majors including SLB surged and we were stopped out on the put.

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.

Schlumberger reported earnings of 42 cents that matched analyst estimates. Revenue of $7.91 billion also matched estimates. The company warned that North American producers were reducing their capital expenditures because of the outlook for oil prices. We saw that confirmed last Friday when the active rig count declined 15 rigs for the week. The total has dropped -23 rigs in the last 3 weeks to the lowest leven since May 26th.

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:

Closed 11/6: Long Jan $60 put @ $1.42, exit .68, -.74 loss.




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