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Weekly Newsletter, Sunday, 07/31/2005

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Table of Contents

  1. Commentary
  2. Changes in Portfolio
  3. Portfolio Listing
  4. New Plays
  5. Existing Plays
  6. Watch List

Leaps Trader Commentary

December Oil Hits $63

After the drop last week to $58 the oil bears had begun to crawl out of the forest. They were quickly sent scurrying back to their dens as multiple news items provided strong support.

Earnings from energy companies were spectacular to say the least. Many posted earnings in the 30% to 50% range with several turning in a 100% increase in profits. With the rest of the S&P averaging 9.8% it proved once again that energy is where the action is once again.

Add in strikes, fires, drops in inventory levels and an admission by Chevron that proven reserves were down -11% from 2004 levels and the stage is set for a classic Q3 feeding frenzy. Those investors seeing the obvious signs are buying every dip and several energy stocks hit new highs again last week.

Alas, regardless of how sweet 50% or better earnings can be many traders took profits and moved on to find greener pastures. Well, maybe not greener pastures but at least a different trade. Profits are not profits until the position is closed. That is fine for us as it offers yet another entry point for some of the high flyers.

The high flyer for the week was not a current play. HP, not the computer company but Helmerich Payne, soared from $50 to near $58 on strong earnings. Needless to say option premiums are excessive. We will wait for it to pull back to the 100-day average on the 30 min chart for a potential entry. Fueling the rise in drillers was news that new rigs were being commissioned by all companies, some with three-year contracts in place before the rig is even built. The gold rush is on for the drillers and historically the cycle runs about two years before oil companies give up in disgust from too many dry holes. Oil over $60 is causing those previously risk adverse companies to place large bets again.

There was a fire at the BP Texas City refinery, the third largest in the U.S., and another on a BP rig in the North Sea. A third fire hit at a Murphy Oil refinery in Louisiana and the combined news sent oil soaring on Friday. Analysts fear that refineries are being pressed too hard to pump out products with capacity utilization reaching 97-98% with no room for down time for maintenance. A major refinery outage could easily produce severe shortages of products within the U.S.

All of this brings us back to the current portfolio and where to go from here. I plan on exiting most of the LEAPS in late Q3, early Q4 once the heating oil demand spike has passed. Until then I still expect prices to continue higher. We may have another week of price pressure as traders take earnings profits but I would view it as another buying opportunity.

I am dropping XOM this week as a non-performer after they failed the earnings test. How a company with $30 billion in cash and 26 billion bbls of reserves can fail earnings is unbelievable. XOM missed estimates by a penny despite turning in an amazing $5.8 billion in profits for the quarter. It said share buybacks in the current quarter could reach $5 billion. That is all great but when you have 6.5 billion outstanding shares it did not move the stock. XOM closed at the low for the week at $58.81 and only 31 cents above our stop. XOM is a great company generating fantastic earnings but it is so big it can't get off the couch much less spring higher.

Natural Gas futures rallied to close at $8.94 on Friday and just a heat wave away from a new all time high over $9.00. The gas shortage is going to hit the U.S. hard if the hot summer continues and a cold winter hits those depleted supplies of natural gas. Chesapeake said last spring that we were only hours away from a gas shortage several times over last winter. As more gas fired electric plants are built the demand will continue to grow faster than the supply.

What we need next week is a new hurricane or some event to give oil one more boost. We need some catalyst to slap new life into the energy stocks and produce a snap back from their post earnings swoon. Hopefully there are funds waiting to put next weeks new money into these stocks on the dip. Next week is contribution week for funds and all should be receiving new cash.

December Crude Chart - Weekly

December Natural Gas Chart - Daily

 


Changes in Portfolio

New Plays

None



Dropped Plays
KWK $43.90 Quicksilver ** Stopped $41.50 **
XOM $58.81 Exxon Mobil ** Dropped **

New Watch List Plays Triggered

None



Portfolio Listing & Top Picks


New Plays

Most Recent Plays

No new plays this week.
 


Play Updates

Existing Plays

KWK $42.29 Quicksilver ** Stopped $41.50 **

It has been a long time since we were stopped out on an energy play. KWK had three days of sudden selling without any news. In retrospect I probably had the stop too close but the new drop confirmed a new downtrend. We got out cheap with only a 75 cent loss so at least it was a painless exit. Wonder if this means their earnings on Tuesday are going to stink?

Earnings due Tue August 2nd after the close.

Company info:

Quicksilver Resources Inc. (Quicksilver) is an independent oil and gas company engaged in the exploration, acquisition, development, production and sale of natural gas, crude oil and natural gas liquids (NGLs) primarily from unconventional reservoirs, such as fractured shales, coal beds and tight sands. Quicksilver's operations are concentrated in Michigan, Indiana/Kentucky, Texas, the Rocky Mountains, and the Canadian province of Alberta. At December 31, 2004, Quicksilver had estimated proved reserves of 968 billions of cubic feet of natural gas equivalent (Bcfe). Approximately 92% of its reserves were natural gas, 77% were classified as proved developed. Approximately 62% of the estimated proved reserves are located in Michigan.

Breakdown Target
BUY Dec 2005 $45 CALL KWK-LI @ $3.50, stopped 7/28 @ 2.75, -.75

No insurance put

Entry $42.50 (7/18)

RRC - $30.49 - Range Resources ** Stop Loss $28.50 **

RRC reported earnings that increased 117% on production that rose 28%. Nobody can argue with those results but the stock price remained range bound between $30-$31. Seems spectacular earnings were already priced into the stock. Funds looking for a stellar performer could be looking for RRC when new money arrives next week. RRC is expensive at a PE of 35 but only has 86 million shares outstanding. What is 100% growth worth?

Company info:

Range Resources Corporation (RRC) is an independent natural gas and oil company engaged in the exploration, development and acquisition of oil and gas properties, primarily in the Southwestern, Appalachian and Gulf Coast regions of the United States. As of December 31, 2004, RRC has proved reserves of 1.18 trillion cubic feet (Tcfe) of natural gas equivalent, of which 81% natural gas; 64% is proved developed reserves, and 77% operated with a reserve life of 14.9 years. The Company owns 2,428,000 gross (1,890,000 net) acres of leasehold plus over 400,000 royalty acres. RRC has a multi-year inventory of drilling projects that includes over 5,000 identified drilling locations. On June 23, 2004, RRC purchased the 50% of the remaining Great Lakes that it did not own. In December 2004, RRC also purchased additional Appalachian properties through the purchase of PMOG Holdings, Inc, a private company, or Pine Mountain.

Dec 2005 $30 CALL RRC-LF @ $2.90

Entry $30.50 (7/13)

APA - $68.40 - Apache ** Stop Loss $65.00 **

APA posted earnings that rose 54% at $1.76 but missed analyst's estimates for $1.84. APA said production increased 6% to 470,000 bbls per day. Apache said aggressive drilling programs in Cnanad, Egypt, the North Sea and Australia point to continued production growth in the second half of 2005. After spiking to a new high at $71.22 the price fell to $67.75 on the earnings miss. A slight rebound was sold on Friday but it remained above it's lows for the week. We were initially filled on a gap open above $70 so the decline puts us into a negative position. There is no insurance put and the stop remains $65.

Company info:

Apache Corporation is an independent energy company that explores for, develops and produces natural gas, crude oil and natural gas liquids. In North America, the exploration and production interests are focused in the Gulf of Mexico, the Gulf Coast, the Permian Basin, the Anadarko Basin and the Western Sedimentary Basin of Canada. The Company has interests in seven countries, such as the United States, Canada, Egypt, Australia, the United Kingdom, China and Argentina. Its segments are the United States, Canada, Egypt, Australia, North Sea and Other International. On August 20, 2004, Apache signed a definitive agreement to acquire all of Anadarko's Gulf of Mexico-Outer Continental Shelf properties (excluding certain deepwater properties). During the year ended December 31, 2004, the Company participated in drilling 1,913 gross wells, with 1,735 (90.7%) completed as producers.

JAN 2008 $75 LEAP CALL YWA-AO @ $13.70
(no 2007 $75 or $80 LEAP)

Entry $70.50 (7/12)

EOG - $61.04 EOG Resources ** Stop loss $57.00 **

EOG posted earnings that rose 74% and raised its production targets for the rest of 2005 to 15.5% from 13.5% due to better than expected output for the first six months. EOG management emphasized the strong growth outlook throughout its core operating regions excluding the Barnett Shale play. Unfortunately Smith Barney and Banc America cut them to a hold because there was a lack of significantly positive news. Say what? Earnings rose 74% and production targets raised are not significant items? The stock was hammered from $66 back to $59 but has mounted a steady two-day rebound. Can you say "entry point?"

Company Info

EOG is engaged in the exploration, development, production, and marketing of natural gas and crude oil, primarily in major producing basins in the U.S., as well as in Canada, Trinidad, the United Kingdom North Sea and, from time to time, select other international areas. At December 31, 2004, EOG's total estimated net proved reserves were 5,647 billion cubic feet equivalent (Bcfe), of which 5,047 billion cubic feet (Bcf) were natural gas reserves and 100 million barrels (MMBbl), or 600 Bcfe, were crude oil, condensate and natural gas liquids reserves. At such date, approximately 50% of EOG's reserves (on a natural gas equivalent basis) were located in the United States, 25% in Trinidad, 24% in Canada and 1% in the United Kingdom North Sea. EOG's operations are all natural gas and crude oil exploration and production related. (source EOG)

Joe Allman, natural gas analyst at RBC Capital Markets said EOG and companies like them generate a 30% to 50% rate of return on assets. Sometimes even 100% on certain projects. EOG grew 30% in 2004.

EOG finished first in an investor relations survey by Greenwich last week. Rounding out the top five were Noble Corp, Carnival, Dell and UTX.

2007 $60.00 LEAP Call OAC-AL @ $9.50

No insurance put

Entry $59.00 (7/05)

ECA $41.45 Encana Corp ** Stop Loss $39.00 **

Encana soared to a new three-week high at $43.20 on Thursday on earnings that rose 78% to 73 cents per share but fell -6 cents short of analyst's estimates. The stock sold off slightly on profit taking after the company said higher costs due to a wet spring delay on bringing new wells online. A shortage of drilling rigs and production equipment also contributed to the delay of bringing new wells online. Encana said it had ordered 27 new rigs built to their specifications that would resolve these types of shortages. Rig costs have skyrocketed for leased rigs due to competition for available inventory and the demand for increased drilling. At $41 we are right at our entry point and a 78% grower will be in favor for the next rebound.

Company Description:

ECA owns the largest independent gas storage network but that is not the primary focus of its business. ECA has been divesting itself of non-core assets in an effort to focus on its main business. It will divest itself of the gas network either through a competitive bid or IPO by early 2006. This represents a major cash generation point for ECA and they will use the cash to acquire more reserves. This is the kind of story we want in our LEAPS portfolio. Unfortunately ECA does not have leaps and we will have to use the Jan-06 calls. That should get us through the Fall demand cycle and allow us to take profits ahead of the spring dip.

Company info:

With an enterprise value of approximately US$44 billion, EnCana is one of North America's leading natural gas producers, is among the largest holders of gas and oil resource lands onshore North America and is a technical and cost leader in the in-situ recovery of oilsands bitumen. EnCana delivers predictable, reliable, profitable growth from its portfolio of long-life resource plays situated in Canada and the United States. Contained in unconventional reservoirs, resource plays are large contiguous accumulations of hydrocarbons, located in thick or really extensive deposits, that typically have low geological and commercial development risk, low average decline rates and very long producing lives. The application of technology to unlock the huge resource potential of these plays typically results in continuous increases in production and reserves and decreases in costs over multiple decades of resource play life. (source Encana)

Encana does not have leaps so we are going to use the January-06 calls. The demand cycle runs through November giving us plenty of time to rotate out and reenter on the spring demand dip.

JAN 2006 $45 CALL ECA-AI @ $2.70

Entry $42 (7/05)

MRO $58.38 Marathon Oil ** Stop Loss $56.00 **

MRO posted profits that nearly doubled with $1.92 per share compared to $1.02 in the same quarter in 2004. Analysts had expected MRO to earn $1.57. Revenue rose to $12.09 billion. MRO said Q3 earnings would dip slightly due to hurricane shut-ins in the Gulf. Traders evidently did not care and MRO hit a new high at $59.12 on Friday. I raised the stop to $56.

Takeover speculation:

Only one company will end up with Unocal and that leaves the other hungry and looking for other targets. XOM also has nearly $30 billion in cash and needing to make an acquisition. Marathon is one of the largest remaining independents and a likely target due to its diverse operations. MRO has several large properties in Asia and within China's sphere of influence.

Company Info:

Marathon Oil Corporation (Marathon) is engaged in worldwide exploration and production of crude oil and natural gas. It operates through three segments: exploration and production (E&P), which explores for and produces crude oil and natural gas; refining, marketing and transportation (RM&T), which refines, markets and transports crude oil and petroleum products, and integrated gas (IG), which markets and transports natural gas and products manufactured from natural gas, such as liquefied natural gas (LNG) and methanol. The Company's principal operating subsidiaries are Marathon Oil Company and Marathon Ashland Petroleum LLC (MAP). During the year ended December 31, 2004, the Company's worldwide liquid hydrocarbon production averaged 170,000 barrels per day (bpd) and sales of natural gas production, including gas acquired for injection and subsequent resale, averaged 999 million cubic feet per day (mmcfd).

On Thursday (June 30th) MRO completed acquisition of $3.7B in properties from Ashland Inc (ASH). Asland owned 38% in Marathon Ashland Petroleum (MAP) and two other businesses. ASH fell -$11.72 on the deal which represented the payment from MRO to Ashland and Ashland shareholders of stock and cash. Ashland applied $2.5B of the proceeds to payoff debt.

Current entry:

2007 $55 LEAP Call VXM-AK @ $7.90

No put insurance

Entry $54.74 (6/27)

CHK - $26.11 Chesapeake Energy ** Stop $24.50 **

CHK has not yet announced earnings but it set a new high on Friday as strong earnings from others in the sector and gas futures nearing a new high powered the stock higher as well. Cramer is also pounding the table on CHK calling it the best of breed.

CHK is our low dollar entry into the energy market. With natural gas prices continuing to rise it means money in the bank for CHK. Much of the electricity generated over the summer for cooling the south will be produced with CHK gas.

EARNINGS Due Aug-4th after the close

Company Info

Chesapeake Energy Corporation is the third largest independent producer of natural gas in the U.S. Headquartered in Oklahoma City, the company's operations are focused on exploratory and developmental drilling and producing property acquisitions in the Mid-Continent, Permian Basin, South Texas, Texas Gulf Coast and Ark-La-Tex (including the Barnett Shale) regions of the United States.

Chesapeake Energy derives 90% of its revenues from natural gas. They are very aggressive about replacing reserves and will capitalize on the continued increase in prices. Gas prices have soared in the U.S. due to the addition and conversion of electric plants to the cleaner fuel. Several times over the last winter the gas levels supplying those plants dipped to dangerous levels. The demand is increasing faster than supply and the production peak is now estimated to be 2007. Prices are going to continue higher, much higher and Chesapeake is positioned to benefit.

This summer much of northern California will get its electricity from gas due to a drought in the northwestern hydro-electric grid. Generation levels will be below normal and natural gas is the fall back fuel.

2007 $20 LEAP Call VEC-AD @ $4.00

Insurance put:
July $17.50 CHK-SW @ 90 cents, expired worthless

Entry $19.00 (05/13)

APC - $88.48 Anadarko Petroleum ** Stop $83.00 **

APC reported a 25% jump in earnings but production fell as it sold off non-core assets. APC has been restructuring to devote all its efforts to its main business of exploring and producing oil and gas. Production on current assets increased 10% for the period. Sales of non-core assets allowed it to pay off $1.4 billion in debt and reduce interest expenses -24% for the period. It also used the proceeds to buy back 1.4 million shares in July. APC has another $300 million of shares remaining to complete its $2 billion share buyback. APC came close to a new high on Friday at just over $90 so it appears investors applaud the APC efforts.

Company Info

Anadarko Petroleum Corporation's mission is to deliver a competitive and sustainable rate of return to shareholders by developing, acquiring and exploring for oil and gas resources vital to the world's health and welfare. As of year-end 2004, the company had 2.37 billion barrels of oil equivalent of proved reserves, making it one of the world's largest independent exploration and production companies. Anadarko's operational focus in North America extends from the deepwater Gulf of Mexico, up through Texas, Louisiana, the Mid-Continent, western U.S. and Canadian Rockies and onto the North Slope of Alaska. Anadarko also has significant production in Algeria, Venezuela and Qatar, and exploration or production positions in several other countries.

Anadarko has just completed a restructuring program and raised estimates on May-2nd. They expect output to rise 5% in 2005 and costs to be below industry trends. S&P is estimating $8.55 for earnings in 2005 and a price target of $85.

APC signed a new pipeline deal in late June to accommodate 750 mcfpd from its Bear Head terminal currently under construction. APC announced last week it is on track to meet its annual production growth target of 5% to 9% per year through 2009. APC said it had identified 2.1 boe of additional resource potential. Half of the new resources are already on APC properties under development.

2007 $75 LEAP Call OCP-AO @ $10.10

Insurance Put
June $65 APC-RM @ $0.85, expired worthless

Entry $70.50 (5/04)

COP - $62.59 Conoco Phillips ** Stop $57.50 **

COP posted earnings of 51%, $3.14 billion, $2.21 per share and easily beat analyst estimates of $2.02. COP is the nations third largest oil company and an aggressive grower of reserves. The CEO said they were not seeing any reduction in demand. COP produces 1.7 mbpd with capacity utilization at 97% and refineries near full capacity. COP is working on a $9 billion capital improvement program over five years including $3 billion to upgrade refineries to process sour crude. He said that crude deliveries around the globe were becoming increasingly sour as sweet crude becomes scarcer. Those refiners who have to chase the dwindling supplies of sweet crude will pay constantly higher prices and see margins shrink. COP said they see stronger production for the rest of 2005 with about a 4% increase. COP has increased its share of Lukeoil to 12.6% and plans to increase it to 20% soon.

COP is one of the fastest growers on the planet despite its size. It is my number one oil pick for buy and holders. While XOM and BP are shrinking COP is growing.

Company Info

COP has been aggressively purchasing assets around the globe and especially in Russia. Putin has said repeatedly that COP assets and agreements are not at risk and that COP is a partner with Russia in producing their oil.

On July 1st COP and Russia's Lukoil finalized a joint venture to develop energy fields in Artic Russia as part of a broader strategic alliance. COP has very good contacts in Russia and has been mentioned several times by Putin as a strategic partner. COP owns 12.6% of LUKOIL and has been approved to buy up to 20%.

2:1 Split on June 2nd gave us 2 of each.

(2) 2007 $50 LEAP Call OJP-AJ @ $7.88

Insurance put:
(2) June $50 COP-RJ @ $1.08, expired worthless

Entry (4/18 $49.00)

OXY - $82.28 Occidental Petroleum ** Stop $77.50 **

OXY rallied to a new high near $84 on Monday and managed to hold that level most of the week despite being an early reporter. Only profit taking on Friday managed to push it for a loss. Ironically on Friday OXY announced it had been given approval to resume operations on its historical contract in Libya. It was forced to abandon operations when sanctions were imposed in 1986 due to the Pan-Am bombing. OXY expects to be producing up to 15,000 bbls per day by year end from the Libyan fields. It also won contracts on new blocks in a January auction along with COP and AHC.

Company Info

OXY blew out the stops and rallied to a new high at Friday's (7/22) close after announcing earnings of $3.78 that more than doubled the prior year's number at $1.46. $1.66 of that headline number was special items and gains on the sale of assets. Profits from exploration and productions fell short of analyst's aggressive estimates but were still very strong.

S&P reiterated its bullish outlook on OXY given the additions in the Permian Basin, recovery of its Lybia assets and the Oman contract award. Things seem to be going very well for OXY.

OXY declared a quarterly dividend of 31 cents in early May and appointed former U.S. Secretary of Energy, Spencer Abraham, to their board. Earnings in 2004 were a record $2.6B and as the CEO pointed out on Friday it was more than a billion more than they earned in 2000. Not a bad growth record. Q1 earnings were up 74% over Q1-2004.

OXY reported earnings on April 26th of $2.16 per share compared to estimates of $1.99. OXY said it had higher than expected production, strong pricing and record chemical sales. Still it failed to produce the blowout earnings of COP due to hedging.

OXY reported an agreement with Oman to invest $2B in the Mukhaizna oil field and upgrade production from 10,000 bbls per day to 150,000 per day. I would happily invest $2B once to get $3B return per year. Good job!

OXY is the 239th largest company in the world and an oil giant.
Occidental's principal activities are to explore for, develop, produce and market crude oil and natural gas. The operations are carried out through two segments: Oil and Gas and Chemical. The Oil and Gas segment develops, explores for, produces and markets crude oil and natural gas. The Chemical segment manufactures and markets basic chemicals. The company operates primarily in the United States, Qatar, Yemen, Colombia, Oman, Pakistan, Canada, Russia, Ecuador and the United Arab Emirates.

2007 $70 LEAP Call VXY-AN @ $10.00

Insurance Put:
June $65.00 OXY-RM @ $1.40, expired worthless

Entry $68.00 (4/19)

XOM - $58.81 Exxon Mobil ** Dropped **

I bailed on XOM after it missed earnings and said production fell -4% year over year. If you have nearly $30 billion in the bank and 26 billion bbls of reserves how can you fail? You can fail to impress investors and rest on your butt while other more eager companies are stealing your cheese. They have the capability of making vast amounts of money as evidenced by the $7.64 billion in profits for this quarter but they are content to buyback shares rather than go out and aggressively acquire assets like COP and OXY.

Company Info

XOM has larger reserves and more cash than any other oil company. They have to find something to do with their $30 billion and it will either be returned to the shareholders or used to buy more reserves.

XOM is the largest oil company in the world and while it has the largest reserves it also has the highest overhead cost.

2007 $60 LEAP Call ODU-AL @ $6.70, closed @ $6.32, -38 cents

Loss including the expired put = $1.58

Insurance Put:
July $55 Put XOM-SK @ $1.20, expired worthless

Entry $58.00 (4/19)

XLE - $47.60 Energy SPDR ** Stop $44.75 **

Despite the decline in XOM, the largest component, the XLE rallied to a new high on Friday at $48.48 before succumbing to profit taking into the close. The drillers and gains in other big oils helped overcome the 20% weighting of XOM. Let's hope XOM finds a support level soon and becomes a neutral influence on the XLE.

Company Info

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.

I chose a leap close to the money because there was no material price difference for the Leaps $2-3 away. Insurance is cheap and I expect this to be a very long-term play.

2007 $40 LEAP Call ORJ-AN @ $5.60

Insurance put:
June $39 Put XLE-RM @ $1.35, expired worthless

Entry $39.75 (4/18)

VLO - $82.78 Valero Energy ** Stop $77.00 **

VLO posted its highest profit ever of 3.06 per share and said the rest of 2005 and 2006 would be better than ever. The CEO said demand for refined products had never been stronger and was growing. Their margins grew to $9.61 per bbl compared to $1.61 in Q2-2004 due to their ability to refine sour crude. He said the presence of very high margins in the middle of the summer proved how strong the demand was and how tight refining capacity was at full speed. He predicted a loss of 500,000 bbls of production by other refineries in 2006 when higher sulfur restrictions come into play. This will put additional pressure on refineries that can refine the heavy crude and make demand for light sweet crude even more excessive. VLO is positioned to profit from this change and will see volumes increase dramatically with its acquisition of Premcor.

VLO remains in the best position to profit given their ability to refine the heavy sour crude currently available in the market. As prices rise on distillates VLO will continue to gain margin against other refiners.


Company Info

VLO has been weak since the announcement it was buying Premcor. This should be a very good deal for them and the combined companies will control a large portion of the refinery business. Think of it as a buying opportunity.

Valero is the largest independent refiner in the U.S. and one that has made the switch to the higher profit margins of sour crude. Oil prices are generally quoted using the West Texas Light Sweet price. The sour crude sells for significantly less and will become the dominant variety as oil supplies dwindle. Sour crude has been running about $10 a bbl under sweet crude. Valero is seeing even bigger discounts from less desirable grades from Mexico and Alaska. It costs more to process the sour crude and fewer refineries can handle it. This forces the price of that sour crude lower. Finished gasoline is priced basically on the price of a barrel of sweet crude. This means the same gas Valero produces from cheaper sour crude sells for the same price as the gas produced from sweet crude. This enables Valero to capture a significant profit margin. They had a record year in 2004 due in part to their ability to process the cheaper grade of oil. The company has already said 2005 profits will be higher in 2005 even if margins narrow for others.

Company website: http://www.valero.com/About Valero/

Valero reported earnings on April 21st of $1.92 that more than doubled the prior year of $.91 cents. VLO fell slightly in trading because analysts had estimates of $1.97. Shucks, they missed estimates by a nickel but more than doubled last year. Let's sell them. Duh! They rebounded as eager traders rushed into the gap and they closed at $74.86 on Friday, more than $5 above the earnings dip at $69.55.

Valero announced on June-30th it was going to retire the Diamond Shamrock brand and put up Valero signs at its 2,900 Shamrock stations. This will give the Valero brand and image a huge boost since few if any consumers know Valero owned the chain. Valero has gone from a single refinery with 170,000 bbls of output to 14 refineries and 2.5 mbpd of output and 4,700 retail stores over just a few short years. It will become the largest refiner in the nation when it completes its acquisition of Premcor later this year.

2007 $75 LEAP Call VHB-AO @ $14.10

Insurance put:
June $60.00 VLO-RL @ $2.05, expired worthless

Entry $68.00 (4/15)

CVX - $58.01 Chevron Texaco ** No stop **

Chevron rallied to a new short term high at $58.41 on Friday after posting earnings of $1.76 that beat estimates of $1.69. That high did not last long after investors read that Chevron's production fell -15% in the U.S. and -2% internationally. Also weighing on the stock was rumors CNOOC were going to raise their bid to as much as $20 billion just before the August 10th shareholder vote. I have mixed emotions about continuing to hold Chevron but a successful Unocal bid should improve its outlook substantially. An unsuccessful bid should relieve pressure on the stock price. This puts us into a holding pattern until after the 10th.

We have the Sept $55 put and we will be selling it once the vote has passed. Target $53 to sell the put on any dip.

Company Info

Chevron will likely sell off about $3 billion in non-core assets once the Unocal deal is consummated. The main asset Chevron wanted was the 1.7 billion barrels of proven reserves and tens of thousands of acres of additional leases still to be explored. Chevrons current average cost of produced crude is $27. After selling the non-core assets they will end up with the Unocal proven reserves at about $9 a bbl plus billions in other assets like gas fields, power plants and joint ventures around the world. This was a very sweet deal for Chevron even at the raised price.

The Unocal leap was actually triggered when the price hit $59 on the announcement. With UCL trading at $58.74 at Friday's close there would not have been any material movement. Because any Unocal leap will eventually end up being a Chevron leap I am electing to use the previously recommended Chevron leap as the actual position. I am using Friday's close for the entry price.

2007 $60.00 LEAP Call VCH-AL @ $5.60
2007 $57.50 LEAP Call VCH-AY @ $6.70
Reference:
UCL 2007 $60 LEAP Call VCL-AL @$6.60

We held both CVX and UCL leaps when the buyout was announced. I dropped the UCL listing as a duplicate to focus on the eventual merged company.

Insurance Put:
June $55 Put CVX-RK @ $1.65, expired worthless

New Put 6/19
Sept $55 Put CVX-UK @ 0.95

Entry $56.67 (04/07)


Leaps Trader Watch List

Yes, UPL at $38 after missing our entry point two weeks ago. Dang it! I guess it is better to miss a strong one than catch a weak one like KWK last week. At least the loss on UPL is only lost gain rather than actual lost money.

As we enter the post earnings swoon I am going to keep the watch list very skinny. I am removing BP based on its recent comments and volatility. I am adding HP, SWN and SUN with breakdown targets only. I am not interested in buying the top at this point in the cycle.

SUN is a unique situation. They are currently $125 but have a 2:1 split scheduled for Monday. They also have earnings due out August 3rd on Wednesday. I want to take a chance and buy the $65 LEAP when it begins trading. I can't find it on any split calendar but the Sunoco press release specifically says it will begin trading at the new price on Monday.

http://www.sunocoinc.com/shareholder/divsplitdistf.htm

When it starts trading, BUY IT!
 

Dropped Entries
BP $65.99 BP, PLC

New Watch List Entries
HP
$57.10
Helmerich Payne
SWN $55.08 Southwestern Energy
SUN $125.60 Sunoco, Inc. (2:1 split scheduled for Monday)

Current Watch List

UPL - $37.87 Ultra Petroleum

** Breakdown Target $36.50 **
** Breakout Target - none **

Ultra Petroleum Corp. is an oil and gas company engaged in the development, production, operation, exploration and acquisition of oil and gas properties. The Company's operations are focused in the Green River Basin of southwest Wyoming and Bohai Bay, offshore China. During the year ended December 31, 2004, it owns interests in approximately 166,974 gross (92,997 net) acres in Wyoming covering approximately 260 square miles. The Company owns working interests in approximately 241 gross productive wells in this area and is operator of 41.5% of the 241 gross wells. Through Pendaries Petroleum Ltd., it is active in oil and gas exploration and development in Bohai Bay, China. The Company also owns interests in 15,518 gross (14,652 net) acres in Pennsylvania, as well as interest in approximately 720 gross (320 net) acres and interests in three productive wells in Texas.

Breakdown Target
BUY 2007 $37.50 LEAP Call OZH-AU

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TLM $43.70 Talisman Energy

** Breakout target - None **
** Breakdown target $41.50 **

Company info:

Talisman Energy Inc. (Talisman) is an independent international upstream oil and gas company whose main business activities include exploration, development, production, transporting and marketing of crude oil, natural gas and natural gas liquids. The Company's operations, during the year ended December 31, 2004, were conducted principally in four geographic segments: North America, the North Sea, Southeast Asia and Algeria. The Trinidad Angostura project began production in January 2005. Exploration is being advanced in other areas outside the principal geographic segments, including Alaska, Colombia, Qatar and Peru. During 2004, total production averaged 438 million barrels of oil equivalent per day (mboe/d) and the Company exited the year producing 452 mboe/d in December. In 2004, the Company drilled 641 successful wells.

Breakdown Target
BUY Jan 2006 $40 CALL TLM-AH

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HP - $57.10 Helmerich Payne

** Breakdown Target $54.00 **

Helmerich & Payne, Inc. is primarily engaged in contract drilling of oil and gas wells for others. It is also engaged in the ownership, development and operation of commercial real estate. The Company is organized into two separate operating entities: contract drilling and real estate. The Company's contract drilling business is composed of three business segments: United States land drilling, United States offshore platform drilling and international drilling. The Company's United States land drilling is conducted primarily in Oklahoma, Texas, Wyoming, Colorado, and Louisiana, and offshore from platforms in the Gulf of Mexico and California. The Company also operated in eight international locations during the fiscal year ended September 30, 2004: Venezuela, Ecuador, Colombia, Argentina, Bolivia, Equatorial Guinea, Chad and Hungary. In addition, the Company is providing drilling consulting services for one customer in Russia. Its real estate investments are located in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Breakdown Target
BUY JAN 2006 $60 CALL HP-CL currently $4.70
(no leaps)

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SUN - $125.60 Sunoco Inc. (2:1 Split scheduled for Monday)

Sunoco, Inc. operates through its subsidiaries as a petroleum refiner and marketer, and chemicals manufacturer with interests in logistics and cokemaking. Sunoco's petroleum refining and marketing operations include the manufacturing and marketing of a range of petroleum products, including fuels, lubricants and some petrochemicals. Sunoco's chemical operations consist of the manufacturing, distribution and marketing of commodity and intermediate petrochemicals. The Company's operations are organized into five business segments: refining and supply, retail marketing, chemicals, logistics and coke.

SUN has scheduled a 2:1 split as of Monday August 1st. Once it trades at the new price I want to enter the LEAP. Premiums should drop dramatically and new players enticed by the lower share price should appear.

BUY the $65 2007 LEAP when it begins trading on Monday.

No symbol yet. Look for the new symbol on CBOE on Monday.

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SWN - $55.08 Southwestern Energy

** Breakdown Target $53.50 **

Southwestern Energy Company is an integrated energy company primarily focused on natural gas. Through its wholly owned subsidiaries, the Company is engaged in natural gas and oil exploration and production business. It operates principally in three segments: exploration and production, natural gas distribution and marketing. The Company's exploration and production activities are concentrated in Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, New Mexico and Oklahoma. It's wholly owned subsidiary, Arkansas Western Gas Company, referred to as Arkansas Western, operates integrated natural gas distribution systems in northern Arkansas. The Company provides marketing services in each of its core areas of operation through its gas-marketing subsidiary, Southwestern Energy Services Company.

Breakdown Target
BUY 2006 MARCH $60 CALL SWN-CL currently $6.40
 


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