Table of Contents
Leaps Trader Commentary
The two-day dip in oil stocks as the calendar turned over was brief and shallow. Visions of real profit taking giving us an entry into a couple energy positions were dashed by the comments from the OPEC Secretary about $80 oil. Immediately stocks roared off to new highs as out entry targets were left in the dust.
However, there was one good side to the flurry of oil news. Chevron Texaco was rumored to be on the acquisition trail for Unocal. CVX stock was not exactly hammered for a loss but it did fail to follow the others higher and that may be the best entry we are going to get. I am going to hold my nose and jump on the train this weekend. Chevron is cash rich, has very little debt and trades at a PE of 11. Even if they did bid high for Unocal that oil in the ground will be worth about twice today's price before they can get it out.
The Jobs report was favorable to bonds and that knocked interest rates back off their highs and gave new life to the homebuilders. TOL and RYL both returned to their highs, which means a ripe PE of 10 for TOL. The homebuilders should be seen as land banks and just like oil they are not making any new land.
Unfortunately the tech sector is feeling unloved with all the money going to commodities and housing. Our tech plays are languishing and with Intel and the three dwarfs, TXN, XLNX and ALTR, all issuing mid quarter updates next week it may be time to consider an exit. I am going to drop the LEAP call on IBM and continue holding the April $90 put.
I dropped the Apple Leap Put idea last week after getting several negative emails and AAPL fell from $44.50 to $41.25 on Thursday. Friday saw a small rebound but the trend may have changed. I had several readers' email that they had taken the play anyway and were looking for guidance on an exit. I would exit on a touch of the 100-day average currently $33 but it might converge with the price just over $35. Just keep an eye on it.
I am still hesitant to add any new plays given the weakness in the Nasdaq. The stocks that I would like to buy are too high and need to pull back and the tech sector is still telegraphing weakness ahead. I will continue to be selective until the time is right and then back up the truck.
Changes in Portfolio
Portfolio Listing & Top Picks
CVX - $61.71 Chevron Texaco ** Stop Loss $58 **
Chevron Texaco and its various divisions are engaged in petroleum, chemical and coal mining operations. Revenue rose +28% in 2004 to $155 billion with net earnings rising +73% to $13 billion. CVX pays an annual dividend of $1.60 or 2.62%. They currently have about $7 billion cash on hand and could easily finance any acquisition they desired. According to Multex their PE as of Friday's close was 9.99, which was -20% lower than the same time last year. It is lower because earnings are accelerating faster than price.
Chevron is being rumored as a buyer for Unocal but the prospect of a bidding war with China or other major oil companies has pressured the stock for the last week. Regardless of the price paid the oil in the ground is sure to double in value before they can produce it. This is why there is likely to be a bidding war.
Proven reserves are far easier to produce quickly than suspected deposits that require years of drilling experimental wells in sometimes harsh environments. Unocal has extensive holdings in Indonesia and in the Gulf of Mexico. Not exactly prime locations but far easier to develop than the Falklands or the North Sea.
The options are extremely cheap relative to the potential thanks to the worry over the potential Unocal bid. Also, the $62 level is resistance dating back a year. I hesitate to buy resistance but the insurance put is cheap.
Buy 2006 $65 LEAP Call WCH-AM currently $3.40
Place a stop on the calls at $58.00
Entry $61.71 (03/07)
EBAY - $41.66 ** No stop **
EBAY traded sideways again for the second week and is following the weakness in the Nasdaq and the Internet sector. $41 appears to be support and $43 resistance. No change in outlook.
Ebay is the only net stock that will consistently continue to improve earnings long term. Their model is self-perpetuating and will continue to grow and expand as they move into other countries. Ebay dropped in January when they said they were going to spend more money on expanding their business. As an investor that is what I would want them to say but the massive profit accumulated in the stock over the last year was too much for traders to risk. There was a substantial drop from which Ebay is just now beginning to recover.
Ebay split 2:1 on the 17th of February and there was very little post split depression. I believe the retail traders picked up the slack and were happy to buy Ebay at $42 rather than the $100+ from early January.
Buy 2006 $45 LEAP Call YRL-AI @ $5.00
Entry $42.24 (02/28)
TOL $90.00 Toll Brothers ** No Stop **
Toll Brothers blew away earnings and raised estimates and the entire sector benefited. Our entry worked out well and we are already profitable with the spring buying season just ahead. I am sure we will see some eventual profit taking but we are in a good position already to weather any storm.
Toll Brothers is unique in that it does not just build homes. This gives them a broader revenue base than many other builders and should insulate them from any softness ahead.
Toll Brothers overview: Source - company press release.
Toll Brothers, Inc. is the nation's leading builder of luxury homes. The Company began business in 1967 and became a public company in 1986. The Company serves move-up, empty-nester, active-adult and second-home home buyers and operates in 21 states.
Toll Brothers builds luxury single-family detached and attached home communities, master planned luxury residential resort-style golf communities and urban low-, mid- and high-rise communities, principally on land it develops and improves. The Company operates its own architectural, engineering, mortgage, title, land development and land sale, golf course development and management, home security, landscape, cable T.V. and broadband Internet delivery subsidiaries. The Company also operates its own lumber distribution, and house component assembly and manufacturing operations.
2006 $85.00 LEAP Call YKW-AQ @ $11.60
Entry $84.10 (02/20)
RYL - $70.75 Ryland Group ** No stop **
Ryland returned to its highs on Friday after a weak of easing on higher interest rates. No challenge here, just profit taking at new highs.
Ryland is one of the countries largest homebuilders and was recently added to the S&P-500. Ryland currently builds in 27 markets across the country and also acts as a mortgage lender. Net income has increased +400% over the last four years and estimates are continuing to increase but RYL trades at a PE of only 10. Ryland sold 16,880 homes in 2004, which was an increase of 1,683 over the prior year.
They recently announced 13 new planned communities around Las Vegas, currently the fastest growing market in the U.S.
2006 $70 LEAP Call YRX-AN @ $7.90
Entry $65.00 (02/11)
PCAR - Paccar Inc $76.28 ** Stop loss $73.00 **
PCAR has broken over strong resistance at $75 and our next target here is even stronger resistance at $80. Two months of consolidation appear to be over and a positive Nasdaq would definitely help.
Paccar is the number two maker of heavy-duty trucks with two of their major brands being Peterbilt and Kenworth. Paccar produced a company record of 124,000 trucks in 2004 as healthy freight volume pushed demand. Earnings were announced on Feb-1st and revenue increased +44% and earnings +52%. The company said sales continue to be strong with an expected 15% jump in total truck sales in the U.S. in 2005 and a +5% jump in Europe. Market share in North America increased to +24% on heavy-duty trucks and 9.4% on medium duty vehicles.
Paccar had risen from $52 last January to $81 at the close of 2004. Like all the other winners they were hit hard by profit taking and knocked back to $68.50 on Jan-28th. After two weeks of sideways consolidation they have started to move higher once again. This is a stable company with very strong earnings and growth and should be a target of fund managers once the techs move into overbought territory. $70 appears to be holding as support and hopefully a launching point.
2006 $70.00 LEAP Call YYQ-AN @ $8.80
Stop loss $73.00
Entry point $71.80 (02/07)
ADSK - Autodesk Inc $29.14 ** Stop loss $27.50 **
Autodesk is stuck in an increasingly narrow range with a minor bias to the sell side. Our stop is -1.50 from the current price and I am willing to hold as long as support at $28.50 holds.
Autodesk is the worlds biggest software design maker and the stock has made quite a few investors a lot of money. In 2004 the stock rose from $12 to $39 for a +209% gain. Needless to say the company was hammered once the calendar expired and it dropped to a low of $26 on profit taking. On January 24th, the low for the current market and after a 33% January drop the company was downgraded on valuation my Banc of America. BAC was late to the party but ADSK saw another -12% drop on the news. Smith Barney retaliated that the concerns over share price had already been factored in with the January selling and suggested there was upside potential.
In November ADSK raised guidance for 2006 above analysts estimates and nothing has change from the company. A string of positive press releases continue to paint a picture of business is booming. Earnings are Feb-22nd so we do have event risk but I would like to think the risk is to the upside. The 100-day average has proved to be support in January as is did last August.
Autodesk does not have leaps. Since the normal time in a leap trade is only about two-three months I decided to enter the play with the July $32.50 call instead at $3.20. It is cheaper than a leap and plenty of time to play. The July $30 call is only $4.40 and it is already $1.33 in the money.
I am not going to recommend an insurance put because of the cheap calls. The closest strike at $30 makes the March put $1.60. I can't see paying $1.60 to insure a $3.20 position.
July $30.00 Call ADQ-GF @ $4.40
No insurance put
Stop loss $27.50
Entry point $31.33 (02/07)
DGX - Quest Diagnostic $100.29 ** Stop loss $96.00 **
Quest finally closed over $100 and we could be looking at a breakout from four weeks of consolidation. A move up from here could be very strong as shorts cover over $100.
Quest announced a +21% increase in earnings in January and soared from $89.50 to just over $96 in a week. Instead of consolidating those gains it just keeps moving higher. We entered DGX on Jan-21st as it was moving lower and touched support at the 100-day average at $90. Three days later the rocket ride began from $89. The trick now is to stay far enough away from the price to keep from getting stopped but not give back all of our gains.
Quest Diagnostics Incorporated is the nation's leading provider of diagnostic testing, information and services, providing insights that enable healthcare professionals to make decisions that improve health. The company offers the broadest access to diagnostic testing services through its national network of laboratories and patient service centers, and provides interpretive consultation through its extensive medical and scientific staff.
Quest Diagnostics is also the leading provider of esoteric testing, including gene-based medical testing, and provides advanced information technology solutions to improve patient care. (Source DGX)
2006 $95 LEAP Call YFK-AS @ $6.40
Entry $91.00 (01/21)
IBM - IBM $92.35 ** LEAP Call Dropped **
IBM is not showing any strength and big cap techs are slowly sliding into oblivion. I am dropping IBM as a call but keeping the insurance put with a target of $88 for an exit.
2006 $100 LEAP Calls WIB-AT @ $5.00, exit $2.80, -2.20
Entry $94.00 (01/13)
ADBE - Adobe Systems $63.82 ** Stop $60.00 **
Adobe finally found a bid and is back near its recent highs. We need a break over $65 to get the shorts moving again. A positive Nasdaq would really help.
Adobe is the king of the document and image business and continues to announce new products. The company announced earnings in December that rose +33% and beat estimates. Income for the year rose +69% on a +29% increase in revenue. Adobe affirmed guidance for 2005 and the stock has been beating the Nasdaq in percentage gains. In 2004 the stock rose +60%. Since they have already announced earnings we have very little event risk over the next month.
I recommended the February $55 put as insurance at 80 cents. That gave us six weeks for the Q1 earnings to cycle and for ADBE to pick a direction. If we are not profitable by Feb-18th expiration we will close and take our lumps.
Jan-06 $60 LEAP Call WAE-AL @ $7.50
Added new insurance on Feb-22nd
Stop loss $60.00
Entry $58.78 (01/09)
SYMC $21.22 Symantec - Veritas ** no stop **
SYMC is slipping and showing no signs of a rebound. I am still not worried despite the confirmed downtrend because of our in the money April $22.50 put. Put this one on the back burner and forget it.
We have a good position here with strong support at $20 and an April $22.50 insurance put. Very little risk and plenty of potential.
I believe that the SYMC/VRTS merger is a match made in heaven and analysts will come to that view as more plans are announced. The companies have no overlapping products but all their products are perfect fits for the others. With one company having anti-virus, data security, backup, recovery and storage management it puts the other stand-alone companies in a very difficult position. EMC and QLGC both fell in the storage sector and Mcafee was crushed in the anti-virus sector.
There is no stop on this position. With the 2007 LEAP Call any minor dips will not result in a material drop in the leap. The April $22.50 insurance put will protect us from any potential disaster. For me this is a buy and forget play.
2007 $25 LEAP Call OBL-AE @ $6.30
Entry $25.37 (12/19)
XLE - S&P Energy SPDR $44.91 ** Stop loss $42.00 **
Unbelievable! The XLE continue to make new highs almost daily and we are $10 away from our insurance put at $34. I would consider that a lost cause but well worth it. If profit taking ever appears it could be VERY sharp. With oil rising I am going to keep tightening the stop in order to take us out on the next dip. However, the dip this week was to $43 and I would like to stay just under that new support level.
I instituted a stop because the March insurance put at $34 is so far away from the current price. We are up +$7 on the 2006 LEAP and I don't want to give it back. The $34 put is now worthless and I have no hopes of it ever being close to the money again. I consider it insurance well spent.
The XLE SPDR is composed of 27 energy stocks and represents about 8% of the SPX. This is the 8% that helped push the SPX to the current levels with the rise in oil over the last year. In fact the XLE has far exceeded the SPX in performance over the past year.
2006 $35 LEAP Call WHA-AI @ $3.60
Drop insurance: March $34 Put XLE-OH @ $1.00
Entry $35.55 on 12/12
Leaps Trader Watch List
The oil stocks are listed for reference because the actual prices are so far away from where I would like to get an entry. I am hoping for a sharp correction when it comes and the spring demand slumps.
COP - $112 Conoco Phillips
Conoco is my first choice for an oil stock once the current trend eases. I would like to get an entry around the 100-day average now at $91 but rising. This has been a good support level in the past.
OXY - $73.69 Occidental Petroleum
OXY would be my next choice with the same 100-day average as an entry point. That is currently $59.
WMB - $19.18 Williams Companies
Williams would be my cheap leap candidate due to its low price. Target a drop back to $16 and the 100-day average.
FDX - $99.53 Federal Express
Target $96.00 for an entry on the next pullback.
2006 $100 LEAP Call WFX-AT target $6.50
SMH - $34.03 Semiconductor Holders
Target $33.00 for entry on a dip
2006 $35.00 LEAP Call YRH-AG currently $3.70
JNPR - $21.27 Juniper
Watch Juniper for an entry at $20 but no strikes yet. We want to see a base built or at least some evidence it is not going lower.
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