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Weekly Newsletter, Saturday, 09/24/2005

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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

Ugly Week For Traders But Opportunity Ahead

What a week for trading. Buy and hold investors ended up about where they started with oil prices making a round trip from $63.50 last Friday to $68 on Wednesday and back to $64 at Friday's close. If you were trading the bounce there were some strong moves in many stocks. But if you were holding the week was a draw. Several of our stocks outperformed the market but we lost a couple coal plays, MEE and CNX when oil prices began falling. The cost of natural gas eased and with it the need to replace expensive gas with coal. At least that was the theory this week. With natural gas likely to explode higher very soon the coal buyers will be back.

I spent so much time covering the hurricane and its impact on oil in the market wrap I hate to repeat it all here. Some readers don't subscribe to both newsletters so I do need to cover some of the same ground. If you read the market wrap you can skip the next several paragraphs.

As I write this on Friday night 28% of the refining capacity of the U.S. is offline due to the hurricanes. 23% in anticipation of Rita and 5% is still offline for the next couple months due to Katrina. This is a huge amount of refining capacity to be down for any period much less 7-10 days. 19 refineries in Texas closed in advance of Rita rather than ride out the storm and take the additional risk of more severe damage.

99.1% of all Gulf oil is shut in according to the Minerals Management Service and 72% of all gas production. More than 4500 workers have been evacuated from the Gulf and 1200 rigs/platforms in Rita's path have been taken offline. Several of the pipelines from the Gulf have closed with the Colonial and Explorer running at reduced capacity on a contingency basis. The Louisiana Offshore Oil Port was closed on Wednesday in preparation for the storm and that represents a loss of 1.5mbpd in imported oil. So far the MMS estimates more than 50 million bbls of oil production has been lost from the combined impact of Katrina and Rita with more losses to come.

When Katrina veered east of New Orleans it took aim at about 50% of the more than 4000 rigs and platforms in the Gulf. When Rita veered east at the last minute and headed for Beaumont and Port Arthur it took direct aim at the other 50% not hit by Katrina. B/PA is also know as Petroleumville USA due to the high concentration of oil and chemical facilities. As of late Friday Rita is heading straight for that area.

RigLogix estimates that the same percentages of rigs will sustain severe to moderate damage as seen with Katrina and that represents 20+ rigs. Platform loss and damage could exceed 200+ locations of the 1200 in Rita's path.

RigLogix.com Rig Map with Hurricane Tracking

The downgrade of Rita to ONLY a Cat-3 hurricane seemed to produce relief in the investing community despite the fact that a Cat-3 storm still has sustained winds of 125-135mph. That is a far cry from Rita's original 175 mph with gusts to 212mph but still very damaging. A storm surge of 15 ft is expected and waves of 22ft are being tracked. 37ft of water and 135mph winds can move mountains as the Corp of Engineers are seeing in New Orleans. The levees broke again and New Orleans is again flooded. This will delay the recovery of the three refineries still offline there.

If you remember oil prices fell in advance of Katrina as it was downgraded just before going ashore. Somehow a downgrade appears to be a get-out-of-the-storm-free card for nervous investors. Those same investors may be jumping back in on Monday if damage is severe.

Either way there will be very serious gasoline shortages due to 28% of refining capacity being offline for 7-10 days. Most refineries in Texas went offline on Thursday and may not be back online until late next week. If they do not receive any damage they may still be at risk of no electricity. We know how fragile the electric grid can be during these storms. Since it has been 21 years since a material storm in Texas and 40+ years since a major storm there could be plenty of electric problems that have accumulated.

The Nymex has taken the unprecedented step of opening a special Sunday session this weekend to trade energy futures. The session opens at 10:AM on Sunday. This will allow traders to act on the earliest damage reports as they see fit. Unfortunately it means Monday will be a definite gap day. If you are holding options today you are hostage to the Monday gap and after a full day of futures trading the odds are very good we will either gap up strongly or down strongly depending on the damage. Odds are minimal we will open flat.

I am going to tighten the stops on the remaining plays but it is likely to do much good on a strong gap. We are at the mercy of Rita tonight. Since I am writing this on Friday you will already know the outcome by the time the newsletter is delivered on Sunday.

Also because of the strong possibility of a gap open I am not going to add a bunch of new plays to the watch list other than a couple with breakdown triggers just in case the gap is down. I definitely do not want to buy the top at this time in the cycle.

Oil prices are likely to decline regardless of any gap direction on Monday. Unless the western oil patch is wiped out the key is still refining capacity. With our capacity limited we are likely to see oil backup in the system until refiners catch up with supply. This should benefit companies like VLO, TSO, COP and SUN as refining profits will surge again on cheaper oil and more expensive gasoline. As long as gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and heating oil demand exceeds supply the end price will remain high even if oil prices decline. Oil has support at $63.50 but that would be easily broken on any good news from the Gulf on Sunday. Real support is still the 100-day average at $60. I would look to enter new positions at that level if possible. Once any post Rita volatility evaporates we will likely see a range bound market until heating oil supplies begin to dwindle then stock prices will begin to rise again. Gas stocks, ECA, CHK and UPL should continue to do well once the original hurricane volatility passes. Try to add to positions on any dip.

I would try to add to your BTU position on any weakness. Once nat. gas starts climbing coal will be right behind it.

Companies likely to benefit from any damage are HAL, SLB, NOV and BR.

This will be a week for traders more than investors so make sure you have a game plan in mind before the market opens on Monday.

Crude Oil Chart - Daily

Natural Gas Chart - Daily

I am also changing some of the chart views to a 30-min view from a daily. The energy stocks are so far above the daily averages they serve no practical purpose. I am going to show the charts with my personal averages of the 100/130 ema (avg high/low). Most of the energy stocks seem to respect these averages very well and I use them in my personal trading very profitably. The image below shows the setup in Qcharts.

Qcharts Average Setup

 


Changes in Portfolio

New Plays

None


Dropped Plays

New Watch List Plays Triggered

None


Portfolio Listing & Top Picks

New Plays

Most Recent Plays

No new plays this week

 

Play Updates

Existing Plays

FDG - $41.43 Fording Canadian Coal Trust ** Closed $39.25 **

That was an exciting week! FDG rocketed from just below $40 to $44 and made a round trip to $40. Another bounce only succeeded in just over $42. The reason for the drop was the announcement of the Q3 dividend or cash distribution of $1.80 per share (unit) to unit holders as of Sept-30th. As is normal with dividend trusts they react sharply to dividend payments. I did not realize we were that close to a dividend announcement when I initiated the play last week. Since there is the possibility of a further drop after Sept-30th I am closing the play today for a 50 cent loss. It appears I was snake-bit on this one beginning with the entry. I want to take my losses quickly and spend my energy on adding to the BTU position.

Company Info:

Fording Canadian Coal Trust (the Trust) is an open-ended mutual fund trust. The Trust does not carry on any active business. Distributions to Unitholders are facilitated by the Trust's investment in Fording Inc. The Trust holds all of the issued and outstanding Fording Common Shares, Fording Preferred Shares and Fording Subordinated Notes and does not own any other material assets. Through Fording Inc., the Trust holds a 62%-interest, declining to 61%, effective April 1, 2005, and to 60%, effective April 1, 2006, in the Elk Valley Coal Partnership and a 100%-interest in NYCO. The Trust uses the cash it receives from its investment in Fording Inc. to make quarterly cash distributions to its Unitholders. During the year ended December 31, 2004, the Elk Valley Coal Partnership accounted for 96% of the Trust's revenues and NYCO accounted for the balance.

MARCH 2006 $45 CALL FDG-CI @ $2.50

Entry $41.66 (9/14)

ECA - $54.35 Encana ** Stop Loss $52.00 **

Encana blasted off on Monday and followed through with a repeat performance on Wed and Thr. Profit taking took hold on Friday and ECA settled in to rest at $54. That is better than +$3 for the week and we can't complain. $53-53.50 is support and I would not hesitate to add to this position on any dip.

Company Info:

EnCana Corporation is an independent crude oil and natural gas exploration and production company. Its key landholdings are in western Canada, the United States Rocky Mountains, Ecuador, the United Kingdom central North Sea, offshore Canada's East Coast and the Gulf of Mexico. EnCana explores for, produces and markets natural gas, crude oil and natural gas liquids (NGLs) in Canada and the United States. EnCana is also engaged in exploration and production activities internationally including production from Ecuador and the United Kingdom central North Sea. EnCana has interests in midstream operations and assets, including natural gas storage, NGLs gathering and processing facilities, power plants and pipelines.

JAN 2007 $50 CALL ZBM-AJ @ $7.10

Alternate short-term entry:
Jan-06 $50 Call ECA-AJ @ $2.50

Entry @ $46 (8/29)

BTU - $80.83 Peabody Energy ** Stop Loss $76.50 **

Another big week for BTU and that was after a -$5 drop from the highs. No complaints here either. BTU announced a new mine in New Mexico and the opening of an office in China. BTU now claims to fuel 10% of U.S. electricity production and 3% of world electricity production. China is funding a $15 billion coal to gas/oil conversion project and BTU is the leader in the field. Power shortages in China require daily blackout periods and limit production shifts in factories to times when demand is weaker. Add to BTU positions on any dip above $76.50.

Company Info:

Peabody Energy Corporation (Peabody) is a private-sector coal company in the world. During the year ended December 31, 2004, the Company sold 227.2 million tons of coal. It sells coal to over 300 electricity generating and industrial plants in 16 countries. The Company owns, through its subsidiaries, majority interests in 32 coal operations located throughout all the United States coal producing regions and in Australia. Most of the production in the western United States is low-sulfur coal from the Powder River Basin. In the West, it owns and operates mines in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming. In the East, it owns and operates mines in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky and West Virginia. The Company owns four mines in Queensland, Australia. Most of the Australian production is low-sulfur, metallurgical coal. In addition to the mining operations, the Company markets, brokers and trades coal.

MAR 2006 $70 CALL BTU-CN @ $6.50
(no leaps)

Entry $67.25 (8/29)

CNX - $72.30 CONSOL Energy ** Stopped $73 **

An accident at a Virginia mine shut it down for several weeks. A skip hoist that halls 24 tons of coal to the surface from the bottom of a 1600-foot shaft broke last week. A full 24-ton bucket fell from the top to the bottom when brakes failed to hold it at the top. The drop propelled a counter balanced empty bucket back to the top at a high rate of speed which destroyed the mechanism at the top and allowed the empty bucket to also crash back to the bottom of the shaft. There were no injuries other than the shaft, buckets and lift mechanisms but the mine will have to be closed for several weeks while repairs are made. CNX is declaring Force Majeure on deliveries until the mine is reopened.

The news sent the stock price into a dive about as fast as that 24-ton bucket drop. We were stopped on the 20th when $73 was hit. Considering the meteoric rise the prior week we still exited with a nice profit.

Company Info:

CONSOL Energy Inc. is a multi-fuel energy producer and energy services provider that primarily serves the electric power generation industry in the United States. The Company has two principal business units, Coal and Gas. The principal activities of the Coal unit are mining, preparation and marketing of steam coal, sold primarily to power generators, and metallurgical coal, sold to steel and coke producers. As of December 31, 2004, CONSOL Energy produced high-British thermal unit (Btu) bituminous coal from 17 mining complexes in the United States and Australia. The principal activity of the Gas unit is to produce pipeline quality methane gas for sale primarily to gas wholesalers. The Company provides energy services, including terminal services, industrial supply services and coal waste disposal services. It is developing its land assets that it previously used primarily to support its coal operations.

JAN 2007 $70 LEAP CALL VTL-AN @ $9.40, exit $15.50, +6.10

Alternate short-term entry:
Jan-06 $70 Call CNX-AN @ $4.40, exit $8.10, +3.70

Entry $66 (8/29)

UPL $49.81 Ultra Petroleum ** Stop loss $46.50 **

Ultra was probably the strongest stock in the sector all week. After soaring to a new high at $53 on Thursday morning it did decline with the rest of the sector but only barely. Support appeared at $49.50 and would not break. Ultra is very strong in the gas sector and has operations in China. It is rumored that China may make a bid for that portion and it would be a plus for Ultra to sell that portion for a big profit and concentrate on the U.S. gas business. Buy UPL on any dip above $46.50.

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.

Jan 2007 $45 LEAP CALL OZH-AI @ $8.40

Alternate short-term entry:
March $45 Call UPL-CI @ $4.40

Entry $40.00(8.22)

MRO - $68.64 Marathon Oil ** Stop loss $65.50 **

Marathon also broke out to a new high at $72.66 but the selling was severe once oil prices began to fall. We finished with a gain for the week and with MRO back on uptrend support at $68.50. I hate to see that +4.50 spike erased but as long as the trend continues we can't complain. Note that it came to rest on the 100/30 averages.

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).

JAN-2008 $65 LEAP Call WXM-AN @ $6.50

Alternate short-term entry:
Jan-06 $65 Call MRO-AM @ $2.90

Entry $61 (8/22)

COP - $68.30 Conoco Phillips ** Stop loss $66.50 **

Conoco has been behaving very erratically but continues to move up the channel on the daily chart. It has not been respecting any average and jumping all over the charts. I believe traders are unsure how the hurricanes are impacting its refineries and how that will impact earnings. Look to add to positions at the bottom of the channel.

Company Info:

ConocoPhillips is an integrated energy company. The Company's business is organized into six operating segments. The Exploration and Production segment primarily explores for, produces and markets crude oil, natural gas, and natural gas liquids on a worldwide basis. The Midstream segment gathers and processes natural gas produced by ConocoPhillips and others, and fractionates and markets natural gas liquids. The Refining and Marketing segment purchases, refines, markets and transports crude oil and petroleum products. The LUKOIL Investment segment consists of the Company's equity investment in LUKOIL, an international, integrated oil and gas company. The Chemicals segment manufactures and markets petrochemicals and plastics on a worldwide basis. The Emerging Businesses segment encompasses the development of new businesses, including new technologies related to natural gas conversion into clean fuels and related products, technology solutions, power generation and emerging technologies.

JAN-2007 $65 LEAP CALL OJP-AM @ $7.50

Alternate short-term entry:
Jan-06 $65 Call COP-AM @ $4.40

Entry $63.50 (8/22)

CHK - $35.25 Chesapeake Energy ** Stop loss $33.50 **

CHK pulled back from a new high on Thursday and came to rest on the 100/130 averages as support. CHK is a strong gas play and should continue to rally on any increase in gas prices. It does have oil exposure and a sharp drop in oil could retard upward movement. CHK has very little if any exposure to the hurricane area.

Company Info

Chesapeake Energy Corporation is an oil and natural gas exploration and production company engaged in the acquisition, exploration and development of properties for the production of crude oil and natural gas from underground reservoirs and the marketing of natural gas and oil for other working interest owners in properties that it operates. The Company's properties are located in Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Kansas, Montana, Colorado, North Dakota and New Mexico. The proved oil and natural gas reserves as of December 31, 2004 were approximately 4.9 trillion cubic feet of gas equivalent (tcfe). At December 31, 2004, approximately 89% of the Company's proved reserves (by volume) were natural gas, and approximately 70% of its proved oil and natural gas reserves were located in the primary operating area, the Mid-Continent region of the United States, which includes Oklahoma, western Arkansas, southwestern Kansas and the Texas Panhandle.

JAN 2007 $30 LEAP CALL VEC-AF @ 4.90

Alternate short-term entry:
Jan-06 $30 Call CHK-AE @ $2.25

Entry $28.11 (8/28)

XLE - $52.54 Energy SPDR ** Stop Loss $51.00 **

The XLE is a slave to oil prices given the makeup of the 27 component stocks. The biggest is XOM and it is a pure oil price play. The index has exposure to damage in the Gulf but also to companies that would repair the damage. That is the problem with indexes, you get the good, bad and ugly all rolled into one.

SPDR Description:

The XLE SPDR is composed of 27 energy stocks and represents about 9% of the SPX. This is the 9% 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.

List of XLE components: XLE List

JAN 2007 $55 LEAP CALL OJW-AC @ $3.50

Alternate short-term entry:
Jan-06 $50 Call XBT-AX @ $2.45

Entry $49 (8/22)

MEE - $52.51 Massey Energy ** Stopped $53.00 **

The excitement over the Jana Partners Hedge Fund play has cooled and Massey fell back to earth. Jana had pressured Massey in the prior week to buyback a substantial number of shares and the stock rocketed from $51 to $57 on the news. Once the news turned stale we were stopped out for a small profit. MEE soared to $57 on Monday and retreated to $51 on Friday. That will give you ulcers if you are not a trader.

Company info:

Massey Energy Company (Massey) produces, processes and sells bituminous coal of steam and metallurgical grades of a low-sulfur content through its 22 processing and shipping centers, called resource groups, many of which receive coal from multiple coal mines. Massey operates 34 underground mines (four of which employ both room and pillar and longwall mining) and 15 surface mines (with seven highwall miners in operation) in West Virginia, Kentucky, and Virginia. Its steam coal is purchased by utilities and industrial clients as fuel for power plants. Its metallurgical coal is used to make coke for use in the manufacture of steel.

JAN 2007 $50 LEAP CALL VHK-AJ @ $9.00, exit $11.10, +2.10

Alternate short-term entry:
Jan-06 $55 Call MEE-AK @ $2.95, exit $3.90, +0.95

Entry $49 (8/22)

HP - $58.15 Helmerich Payne ** Closed **

HP retreated from its new breakout high as oil prices fell and Rita headed into the Gulf. HP has two rigs directly in the path of Rita and the stock fell back to support at $58 to wait. I am exiting this play for our minor $1.60 profit because of the lackluster performance. HP suffered severe damage to a rig by Katrina and another hit by Rita could cause earnings problems.

Company Info:

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.

MAR 2006 $60 CALL HP-CL @ $3.20, exit $4.80, +1.60
(no leaps)

No insurance due to cheap option

Entry (8/17) $54.00


 


Leaps Trader Watch List

Dropped Entries

None


New Watch List Entries

Current Watch List

VLO - $110.80 Valero

** Breakdown Target $108.00 & $106.00 **
** Breakout Target - none **

Valero Energy Corporation (Valero) owns and operates 15 refineries having a combined throughput capacity, including crude oil and other feedstocks, of approximately 2.5 million barrels per day. Valero produces environmentally clean refined products, such as reformulated gasoline (RFG), gasoline meeting the specifications of the California Air Resources Board (CARB), CARB diesel fuel, low-sulfur diesel fuel and oxygenates (liquid hydrocarbon compounds containing oxygen). It also produces conventional gasolines, distillates, jet fuel, asphalt and petrochemicals. Valero markets branded and unbranded refined products on a wholesale basis in the United States and Canada through a bulk and rack marketing network. It sells refined products through a network of more than 4,700 retail and wholesale branded outlets in the United States, Canada and Aruba. Valero's retail operations include approximately 1,500 company-operated sites that sell transportation fuels and convenience store merchandise.

Breakdown Target @ $108.00
BUY JAN 2006 $115 CALL VLO-AC

Add to position with a drop to $106.00

*************************

TSO - $67.20 Tesoro

** Breakdown Target $65.00 & $62.00 **
** Breakout Target - none **

Tesoro Corporation (Tesoro), formerly Tesoro Petroleum Corporation, is an independent refiner and marketer of petroleum products with two major operating segments, Refining and Retail. Through its refining segment, the Company manufactures products, primarily gasoline and gasoline blendstocks, jet fuel, diesel fuel and heavy fuel oils for sale to a variety of commercial customers principally in the mid-continental and western United States. It operates six refineries in the United States with a combined rated crude oil capacity of 558,000 barrels per day. During the year ended December 31, 2004, approximately 50% of the Company's total refining throughput was heavy crude oil. Its retail segment distributes motor fuels through a network of branded gas stations, primarily trading under the Tesoro and Mirastar brands. The Company markets its products to wholesale and retail customers, as well as commercial end users. On November 8, 2004, the Company changed its name to Tesoro Corporation.

Breakdown Target @ $65.00
BUY Feb 2006 $70 CALL TSO-BN

Add to position with a touch at $62.

*************************

PBR - $70.82 Petroleo Brasileiro

** Breakdown Target $68.50 & $66.00 **
** Breakout Target - none **

Petroleo Brasileiro engages in the exploration for oil and gas and in the production, refining, purchasing and transportation of oil and gas products. For the last quarter reported, net revenues increased 35% to $10.73B. Net income increased 53% to $2.05B.

Petroleo Brasileiro S.A. - Petrobras (Petrobras) is a wholly owned government enterprise responsible for all hydrocarbon activities in Brazil. The Company also has oil and gas operations in international locations, with the significant international operations being in Latin American countries. Petrobras is engaged in a range of oil and gas activities, which include segments like exploration and production; refining, transportation and marketing; distribution; natural gas and power; international, and corporate. During the year ended December 31, 2004, the Company had estimated proved developed and undeveloped crude oil and natural gas reserves of approximately 11.82 billion barrels of oil equivalent in Brazil and other countries..

Breakdown Target @ $68.50
BUY JAN 2007 $75 LEAP CALL VDW-AO

Add to position with a touch at $66.

*************************

STR - $83.87 Questar

** Breakdown Target $82.00 **
** Breakout Target - none **

Questar Corporation (Questar) is a natural gas focused energy company with three principal lines of business gas and oil exploration and production, interstate gas transmission, and retail gas distribution. Questar conducts most of its operations through its subsidiaries Questar Market Resources (Market Resources), Questar Pipeline Company and Questar Gas Company (Questar Gas). Market Resources is a sub-holding company that owns Questar Exploration and Production Company (Questar E&P), Wexpro Company (Wexpro), Questar Gas Management Company (Gas Management) and Questar Energy Trading Company (Energy Trading). Questar Pipeline provides interstate natural gas transmission, storage and gas processing and treating services. Questar Gas conducts retail natural gas distribution.

Breakdown Target @ $82.00
BUY APR 2006 $85 CALL STR-DQ
 

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