Option Investor

Weekly Newsletter, Saturday, 08/13/2005

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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

Time To Take Profits?

That is a really tough question and one I am not sure how to answer. I must have gotten a dozen emails this week asking if we should pocket some of the cash we are holding. This is where emotion meets reality.

Emotionally I would love to hold on to them with a target of $73 given the amassing of fundamental reasons for a continued spike in oil. However, despite the overwhelming reasons to stay invested there are just as many reasons to pull the ripcord and bail out. We should not have sellers remorse in taking a $12 profit in APC or COP. VLO is nearing $14. We have nursed those positions for months and I would hate to see them turn to dust on some serious profit taking.

While the longer term reasons for a continued ramp in oil are very strong there is also uptrend resistance at $68. We are very close and I am sure you noticed that most energy stocks did not participate in the continued rally in oil on Friday. Traders are getting nervous. Hedge funds need to pocket some profits to keep their investors in the fund. The same goes for the stodgy old mutual funds who are riding the coat tails of the aggressive players.

I have to admit when oil spiked to $66 on Thursday morning I bailed on a bunch of short-term positions. When it continued up on Friday I was ready to back into the kicking machine until I noticed that the majority of stocks were not participating. My favorite momentum stock, Valero, continued to hit new highs and tacked on another buck. My favorite trading stock, AHC, got positively crazy with a +2.68 gain. Those were the exceptions to the rule.

Now I have to decide if the group reluctance to follow oil higher was just profit taking ahead of the weekend or the leading edge of a bigger dip next week. With oil up +7% for the week there is a good chance there will be a strong dip soon. Since the majority of the stocks only lost a few cents each I am not really too worried yet. Storm clouds are gathering in the Caribbean and there is no shortage of negative events in the sector.

The last day of trading for the September contract is August 22nd and I am wondering if we are going to see a short covering spike to the moon or some serious profit taking ahead of the event. I am betting that there are more traders just along for the ride than those who want to take delivery of the product. That suggests we will see profit taking by the end of the week.

When the August contract (CL05Q) ceased trading on July 20th we saw a -2.20 drop to $56.20. This was in addition to a weeklong weakness starting at $61. I don't know about everyone else but a $5 drop is a serious drop. It would make a good buying opportunity but it would also erase a lot of profit.

August expiration on CL05U chart

We are talking about changing the format of this newsletter from LEAPS to an Energy newsletter. This would allow for a broader range of strategies in addition to the leaps and allow for things like a mass exit ahead of a contract expiration date. Many LEAP traders don't want to exit short term due to the higher tax implications. Traders on the other hand just want to take profits over and over again. If we change the format we can offer both. Let me know how you feel about this topic. Send me your comments to Jim at Option Investor.

After that long explanation we are back at the decision point again. Take profits or let it ride? The July dip to the August contract expiration was a two-month low and a perfect entry point for new positions. Compounding this problem is the exact opposite in the July contract (CL05N), which expired on June 21st. It saw strong buying right into expiration as shorts got squeezed for an additional +$7. The June contract (CL05M) fell -$7 in the last nine days of trading into the May-20th expiration. That was also a two-month low and a perfect entry point.

July expiration on CL05U chart

June expiration on CL05U chart

All expirations on CL05U chart

I bet you are really confused now. It appears there is a high directional coefficient attached to the contract expiration and the difference has been nearly a $14 spread depending on the direction. About the only thing that is clear to me is that we are likely going to be highly directional beginning on Monday and it is a coin flip for direction. With the propensity for traders to short new highs I am hoping there are a lot of them who have to cover next week. We closed right at the high for the day and the month and there are no signs of weakness. You would think that at least some traders looking to bail next week would have headed for the exits at the Friday highs and never looked back. We did not see any evidence of that happening. Over the last ten months we have seen an upside bias into the expiration eight times and a downside bias twice.

This give me a positive bias for next week but I am going to hedge my bets by tightening all the stops and we will take profits only if forced. Using this same logic a short squeeze next week could take us to $75. That would setup an even stronger potential for profit taking once the September contract expired. For that reason I am going to target $73 oil as our exit point. If we are lucky enough to get the upside flip instead of the downside dip I want to exit our big winners at $73. I will note in the individual play narratives which ones to exit.

December Natural Gas Chart - Daily


Changes in Portfolio

New Plays


Dropped Plays


New Watch List Plays Triggered
UPL $42.03 Ultra Petroleum
NOV $60.13 National Oilwell Varco

Portfolio Listing & Top Picks

New Plays

Most Recent Plays

UPL - $42.00 Ultra Petroleum ** Stop loss $37.00 **

The breakout trigger was hit at $38.75 on Monday at the open and it never looked back. Resistance appeared at $42.50 after a very strong run and several positive news announcements during the week. After their presentation last week there will be a lot of buyers waiting on any dip.

Ultra Petroleum is ultra strong. I sat in for their presentation last week in Denver and they have so much good news it was hard for them to fit it into a 30 min slot. They are concentrating their efforts on the Pinedale Anticline in the Green River Basin in Wyoming. They have over two thousand well sites plotted and they just announced on Wednesday that they got a reduced acreage approval for 10-acre spacing on a portion of this lease. They will be applying for 10-acre on the rest and this will double potential well sites. This is a very productive formation with an almost 100% completion rate. This company is minting money and ramping up to drill even faster.

Company Info:

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.

2007 $40.00 LEAP Call OZH-AH @ $8.90

Entry $38.75 (8/08)


NOV - $60.13 National Oilwell Varco ** Stop loss $55.00 **

We got the breakout trigger on Wednesday after a minor dip to $58 and a nice bounce back to $61. Thursday and Friday were flat with support appearing at $60. This company is very strong with revenue doubling in their most recent earnings report on Aug-5th. Their guidance was very strong for 2H-2005 and beyond. The company merged with Varco back in March and the synergies are very good. After a period of post merger consolidation over the spring the trend has picked up substantially.

Company info:

National-Oilwell Varco Inc., formerly National-Oilwell, Inc. designs, manufactures and sells systems, components and products used in oil and gas drilling and production, as well as distributes products and provides services to the exploration and production segment of the oil and gas industry. The Company's Products and Technology segment designs and manufactures complete land drilling and work over rigs, as well as drilling-related systems on offshore rigs. Non-capital revenue sources within its Products and Technology segment include drilling motors and specialized down hole tools that are sold or rented, spare parts and service on the large installed base of its equipment, expendable parts for mud pumps and other equipment and smaller down hole, progressive cavity and transfer pumps. Company's Distribution Services segment provides maintenance, repair and operating supplies and spare parts to drill site and production locations throughout North America and to offshore contractors.

FEB 2006 $60 CALL NOV-BL @ $6.00
(no leaps)

Entry $59.50 (8/10)

Play Updates

Existing Plays

SUN - $64.18 Sunoco Inc. ** Stop Loss $63.00 **

SUN rebounded from the Tuesday dip to a new high and gave up only a minor amount of ground on Friday. With refinery margins growing and capacity at 100% their profits should continue to rise. After two weeks of consolidation after their 2:1 split they should be ready to run if oil continues higher.

Company Info

Sunoco, Inc. operates through its subsidiaries as a petroleum refiner and marketer, and chemicals manufacturer with interests in logistics and coke making. 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.

Buy Jan-2006 $65 Call SUN-AM currently $5.30

Insurance Put: None

Entry @64.18 (8/08)

SWN - $57.21 Southwestern Energy ** Stop $53.50 **

SWN rallied to a new high on Thursday but gave up ground on Friday. It appears to be still consolidating from the +7 point gain in late July. The next break over $58 could start another run. With December natural gas over $10 this is another cash machine.


SWN earnings grew +29% as reported on July-26th. Production rose +19%.

Company Info

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.

2006 MARCH $60 CALL SWN-CL @ $6.30
(no leaps)

Entry (8/05) $53.50

RRC - $34.27 - Range Resources ** Stop Loss $31.00 **

After threatening to drop RRC last week from lack of movement it caught fire and sprinted +$3 to a new all time high. Maybe I should have spoken harshly a little sooner. There was nothing in the news but the spike came after a bout of selling on Tuesday. Looks like somebody was leaning on it and they ran out of stock.


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 - $72.30 - Apache ** Stop Loss $69.00 **

Apache is another one I should have threatened earlier. After talking about dropping it APA sprinted to a new high just under $73 and then held its gains on Friday. I raised the stop to just under the last dip and hopefully next week will take us out of danger.


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 - $63.76 EOG Resources ** Stop loss $61.00 **

EOG finally found some traction and moved over the dip consolidation and is preparing to tackle the resistance high at $65. The uptrend has resumed and any positive oil move next week could produce a breakout.


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 $45.11 Encana Corp ** Stop Loss $43.50 **

ECA soared to another new high with oil prices on Thursday and held its gains into Friday's close. ECA is buying back debt at a rapid pace from strong profits from natural gas sales. I raised the stop on ECA to $43.50 now that we are out of the three weeks of congestion. I don't want to go back.


Encana soared to a new three-week high at $43.20 after 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 $63.44 Marathon Oil ** Stop Loss $60.50 **

New highs all week and very close to a new high at the close on Friday. Marathon has respected the 100-ema all month and I am placing the stop just under that level in case of a drop in oil. MRO is one of the strongest stocks in the portfolio and we have over $5 of profit accumulated.


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:

It appears Chevron will end up with Unocal and that leaves CNOOC 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 position:

2007 $55 LEAP Call VXM-AK @ $7.90

No put insurance

Entry $54.74 (6/27)

CHK - $29.06 Chesapeake Energy ** Stop $27.50 **

CHK is wedging up at $29.50 as though preparing for a breakout and I am ready. We have seen nearly two weeks of consolidation after the post earnings spike. Time to move higher and resume the uptrend. I raised the stop just in case the expiration dip appears.


CHK earnings more than doubled in the past quarter due to increased production and higher oil/gas prices. Production jumped by +31% from the prior quarter. They also said since the end of Q2 they had acquired 33 mcfpd of gas production and 113 bcf of proved reserves along with 181 bcf of unproven reserves.

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 - $89.42 Anadarko Petroleum ** Stop $87.50 **

** Target September Oil at $73 to exit **

APC has been fighting congestion between $85 and $90 for over a month. We have a lot of profit in APC and I do not want it to evaporate. Due to the lack of a recent trend I am tightening the stop to $87.50 and putting a sell target on it if September crude hits $73. If we get a breakout I will cheer but I will also exit on a breakdown.


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 - $66.59 Conoco Phillips ** Stop $63.00 **

** Target September crude at $73 to exit **

COP is pressing its current high and showing no weakness but it has been over four weeks since there was any real profit taking. July 14th was the last material pause. I raised the stop to $63 to protect our $11 of profit. We held this over a 2:1 split so that profit is actually double that since we have twice as many contracts. I do not want that to evaporate!! COP is taking no prisoners and I hope the trend higher continues.


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 - $83.78 Occidental Petroleum ** Stop $80.75 **

** Target September crude at $73 to exit **

OXY closed only 26 cents away from a new high on Friday and appears to have resumed its upward trend. We have nearly $10 of profit in this position and I raised the stop to $80.75 in case of disaster. Exit the position with crude at $73.

Company Info

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 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.

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.

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.

2007 $70 LEAP Call VXY-AN @ $10.00

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

Entry $68.00 (4/19)

XLE - $50.15 Energy SPDR ** Stop $48.50 **

The XLE has really taken off since the dip on the 5th. XOM appears to no longer be holding it back and strong gains by the drillers are pushing it higher. I raise the stop to $48.50 but I am not going to target an exit like the individual stocks. I am hoping strength in some will offset weakness in others and allow us to continue this position. We are up +$7 (125%) already and the fundamentals are positive for an index play.

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 - $93.95 Valero Energy ** Stop $87.00 **

** Target September crude at $73 to exit **

VLO is our most profitable position with +$13.50 in gains. It is moving almost vertically and with the pressure on the refiners there should be no reason for a drop other than simple profit taking. The chart is looking VERY extended but we know the reason why. I did not move the stop quite as close as the others in hopes we can continue the ramp. I am suggesting targeting September crude at $73 for an exit.


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 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 - $62.29 Chevron Texaco ** Stop loss 60.50 **

** Target September crude at $73 to exit **

Chevron was the official winner of the Unocal deal and payment will be consummated next week. CVX has moved higher on the stronger oil now that the deal is done but I am cautious that we could have some post deal backlash. I am putting a stop at $60.50 to keep us from backsliding into negative territory. We baby sat Chevron for four months while the deal was cussed and discussed and it wandered around in the mid $50s. I want to avoid a repeat.


Chevron rallied to a new short term high at $58.41 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.

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.

2007 $60.00 LEAP Call VCH-AL @ $5.60
2007 $57.50 LEAP Call VCH-AY @ $6.70
UCL 2007 $60 LEAP Call VCL-AL @$6.60, exit at $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, exit at 15 cents (8/10)

Entry $56.67 (04/07)


Leaps Trader Watch List

I am not going to spend much time here today since I spelled out my expectations in detail in the opening commentary. I do not want to add any new positions unless we buy them right. For that reason I am going to leave only HP and TLM as potential candidates. I did adjust the entry point on TLM slightly.

I also changed the incorrect symbols from last week. Thank you John for giving me the heads up.

I changed the strike on the HP option for a better return if we get triggered.

I would actually hate to be triggered on these positions because it would mean a lot of lost profit on the other existing positions. But, you have to play the cards you are dealt.

Good luck!

Dropped Entries


New Watch List Entries


Current Watch List

TLM $47.70 Talisman Energy

** Breakout target - None **
** Breakdown target $45.00 **

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 $50 CALL TLM-AJ ** Change from last week **
(no leaps)


HP - $58.00 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 MAR 2006 $60 CALL HP-CL currently $5.10
(no leaps)


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