Option Investor

Weekly Newsletter, Saturday, 02/18/2006

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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

Target Hit!

The price of crude oil sank on Wednesday to $57.40 and hit our $58 target. This is where I expected support to appear but there were many other factors swirling as the week ended. March crude futures roll over next week and there was a long three day weekend looming on the calendar. Also, options expired on Friday. This provided the perfect excuse for those short to bail and take profits and the absence of selling allowed prices to rebound.

We may not have seen the end of this drop but I am betting if $58 is not it then $55 will be. That should give us a firm bottom although volatility could continue for several more weeks. Until traders begin to anticipate summer gasoline demand the prices could wander in the sub $60 range. Typically March brings buying as the cycle traders grab futures contracts ahead of the summer driving season.

We also have another OPEC meeting in March and Venezuela has already gone on record as demanding a production cut to firm prices. I expect several more voices to join the party between now and March.

OPEC lowered their demand growth forecast for 2006 to growth of +1.7 mbpd to a total demand of 84.64 mbpd for 2006. This is only slightly less than previously forecast and the difference is demand destruction from higher prices and from the hurricanes. They also forecast an increase in supply from non OPEC sources of +1.69 mbpd but figures also suggested a slight decline in OPEC output for the period. Yes, their numbers showed production from OPEC members could fall slightly in 2006. Kuwait has said that their biggest field has begun declining and Dubai has predicted their oil will run out by 2016. It is only a matter of time.

Saudi must be taking the decline of their fields seriously despite claims to the contrary in print. Saudi announced they planned to have 80 rigs active at the end of 2006. Since 1982 they have averaged less than 20 per year. In 1982 it rose to 30 but fell to only 4 in the late 80s. Since 2001 the rig count has averaged around 30 and as of January 2006 it is 50. 38 of those rigs were looking for oil and 12 for natural gas. Saudi production capacity is thought to be around 10.5 mbpd and it has remained at that level for several years. This is down from the 12.5 mbpd they produced in the past. Reviewing the 10 OPEC members Indonesia, Qatar, UAE and Venezuela has lost capacity over the last four years. Algeria, Iran, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria and Saudi have all posted minor capacity gains over the same period. Overall the OPEC 10 have lost 4.205 mbpd of excess capacity since 2002. Production either declined or exports increased. Including Iraq that number increases to -5.275 mbpd. Saudi apparently sees the writing on the wall and is racing to develop additional production from its existing fields by bringing in the 80 rigs. This is the action of a major oil supplier in panic mode. Ignore what they say in public and watch what they do in private. Saudi has a crash drilling program in progress and it is costing them hundreds of millions to drill those holes. If they really had an extra 2 mbpd of spare capacity as they claim in public they would not be racing the clock to drill more wells. Time is running short and I suspect the decline rates of their major fields just took a sudden jump higher.

We added several more plays last week on the sharp drop in oil but we missed several good ones. We missed PBR by 20 cents and BTU by 2.50 and PCU by 1.50. I am leaving them on the list just in case we get another dip in oil prices.

We were stopped out of HOC by 15 cents after an analyst downgraded the refining sector on the same day RIG warned. HOC has rebounded +4 from the drop but instead of just adding it back in as a new play I put it back on the watch list at the price we were stopped. ($56) If we get another entry we will be back in the position for about where we were stopped with no harm, no foul.

Next week the March contract rolls over and the April contract becomes the current month. March closed at 59.88 on Friday and April at 61.29. This suggests we will see some rising prices with the June contract currently at $63 and December over $65. Since this is the period for the demand drop the next few weeks are likely to be the lows for the year.

Natural gas prices refuse to move under $7 despite a very large surplus in storage. Several gas companies were in the news last week and two said they were buyers of reserves at anything in the $6.50 range or lower and would consider it a bargain. Gas prices have dropped so sharply they are running neck and neck with coal for electric generation. As emissions credits expire those marginal coal plants will begin fuel switching back to gas for summer electricity. It is only a matter of time before gas prices begin to rise again and I will look to add a couple gas plays over the next 2-4 weeks.

I am implementing a new process this week. Because of the number of plays in the portfolio I am only going to do individual updates on those with material changes or significant news. Everyone knows why we are playing energy stocks and news on individual stocks is very easy for individual investors to find. If there is no change other than price I will just say "no change" in the play description.

Until the summer ramp begins just keep adding to positions on any significant dip. Keep your stops wide enough to allow for $55 oil and just hope it does not appear unless you are shopping for bargains.

Stop losses, where applicable, will be left VERY loose due to the potential for oil to test $55-$58 range. If the stops are too wide for your risk profile please adjust them accordingly.

Natural Gas Chart - 30 min

Crude Oil futures Chart - Weekly


Changes in Portfolio

New Plays


Dropped Plays
HOC $59.62 Holly Corp ** Stopped $56.00 **

New Watch List Plays Triggered

Portfolio Listing & Top Picks

New Plays

Most Recent Plays

DO - $78.24 - Diamond Offshore Drilling ** Stop Loss $65 **

DO hit our $75 breakdown target on the 15th after the RIG warning. Thank you RIG. Support should be in the $70 range.

DO earnings were reported on the 9th and rose +767% to beat the street by +17 cents. Earnings for all of 2005 were $1.91 compared to a loss of -0.06 in 2004. Diamond predicted another great year in 2006.

Tuesday Feb-21st cost reduction strategy:

Sell the September $95 Call DO-IS currently $4.50
Set a stop loss on the call at DO $90
Buy back the call on a dip to $68.

Company Info:

Diamond Offshore Drilling Inc. engages principally in the contract drilling of offshore oil and gas wells. As of December 31, 2004, the Company had a fleet of 45 offshore rigs consisting of 30 semisubmersibles, 14 jack-ups and one drillship. Diamond offers a range of services worldwide in various markets, including the deep water, harsh environment, conventional semisubmersible and the jack-up market. Its principal markets for its offshore contract drilling services are the Gulf of Mexico, including the United States and offshore Mexico, Europe, principally the United Kingdom and Norway, South America, Africa and Australia/Southeast Asia. From time to time, its fleet operates in various other markets worldwide. Diamond provides offshore drilling services to a customer base that includes private and independent oil and gas companies and government-owned oil companies.

Position: 2007 $80 LEAP VCT-AP @ $10.00

Entry $75 (2/15)

RIG - $71.00 - Transocean Inc ** Stop Loss $65 **

We got our entry on Transocean the hard way. RIG gapped down to $74 from just over $78 after warning that earnings for the next two quarters would be lighter than expected. Higher maintenance costs and repairs due to the hurricanes would cost about $50 million in each of the quarters. In addition to the costs the loss of rental on the units being repaired was also a factor.

I believe RIG will rise again since they are so integral to the deep water drilling operations of many companies. They got hit and they have to pay the price to recover. The need to drill in deep water is not going away and will only intensify leading to higher rates in the future when the rigs are put back into service.

Tuesday Feb-21st insurance strategy:

Sell the March $75 Call RIG-CO currently $1.60
Set a stop loss at $74.95
Buy the May $65 Put RIG-QM currently $2.50
Set a profit stop on the put at $57
Once we get a bounce in RIG we will sell calls to
reduce the cost.

Company info:

Transocean Inc., formerly known as Sonat Offshore Drilling Inc., is an international provider of offshore contract drilling services for oil and gas wells, related equipment and work crews, primarily on a dayrate basis, to drill oil and gas wells. The Company operates with a particular focus on deepwater and harsh environment drilling services. The Company also provides additional services, including management of third-party well service activities. The Company's Transocean drilling segment consists of drillships, semisubmersibles, jackups and other drilling rigs.

Position: 2007 $80 LEAP VOI-AP @ $9.00

Entry $75.00 (2/14)

GI - $62.25 - Giant Industries ** Stop Loss $46 **

Giant declined on the same refinery downgrade that stopped us out of Holly last week. We got the $60 entry on Tuesday and GI rebounded shortly thereafter. The rebound to $63 gives us an opportunity to sell a call on this bounce to reduce our cost.

Tuesday Feb-21st cost reduction strategy:

Sell the June $75 Call GI-FN currently $3.20
Set a stop loss on the call at $73
Set a profit stop on the call at $52

Company info:

Giant Industries, Inc., through its subsidiary Giant Industries Arizona, Inc. and other subsidiaries, refines and sells petroleum products on the East Coast primarily in Virginia, Maryland, and North Carolina and in the Southwest primarily in New Mexico, Arizona, and Colorado, with a concentration in the Four Corners area where these states meet. Phoenix Fuel Co., Inc., another subsidiary, distributes commercial wholesale petroleum products primarily in Arizona. The Company has three business units: retail group, which operates service stations including convenience stores or kiosks; Phoenix Fuel, a commercial wholesale petroleum products distributor selling diesel fuel, gasoline, jet fuel, kerosene, motor oil, hydraulic oil, gear oil, cutting oil, grease and various chemicals and solvents, and refining group, which operates the Company's Ciniza and Bloomfield refineries in the Four Corners area of New Mexico and the Yorktown refinery in Virginia.

Position: Sept $65 Call GI-IM @ $8.50

Entry $60 (2/14)

HP - $64.88 - Helmerich Payne ** Stop loss $55 **

We were triggered on the HP position at $69 when RIG warned. They are in the same sector and the damage was brutal. HP has strong support at $60 that should halt the decline.

Earnings in January rose by +30% to $49 million compared to $17 million in the same quarter in 2004. It is all about day rates and HP commands some of the largest with their state of the art rigs. Unfortunately they were colored with the same brush as RIG on Monday.

Tuesday Feb-21st cost reduction strategy:
Sell the June $70 Call HP-FN currently $4.10
Set a stop loss on the call at $69.95
Set a profit stop on the call at $59

I suspect HP will decline to $60 and move sideways until RIG shakes off its weakness. After the premium declines on the short call we will buy it back for a profit.

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 seven international locations during the fiscal year ended September 30, 2005: Venezuela, Ecuador, Colombia, Argentina, Bolivia, Equatorial Guinea 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.

Position: Sept $75 Call HP-IO @ $7.20

HP Entry $69 (2/13)

NOV - $64.30 - National Oilwell Varco ** Stop Loss $53 **

Same story fourth verse. NOV fell with the sector even before the RIG warning and triggered our entry at $61.50 after the warning on the 14th. $60 is nearly -$18 off the Feb highs and should present very little risk. We will sell a short call to reduce it further.

Tuesday Feb-21st cost reduction strategy:
Sell the May $70 Call NOV-EN currently $3.60
Set a stop loss on the call at $69.95
Set a profit stop on the call at $58

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 workover 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 downhole 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 downhole, 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.

Position: Aug $65 Call NOV-HM $6.90

NOV Entry $61.50 (2/14)


Play Updates

Existing Plays

SUN - $77.09 - Sunoco ** Stop Loss $60 **

SUN rebounded nicely from our $72.51 entry last week. This rebound was due mostly to rising oil prices and the end of selling, which began on Feb-1st in SUN. Sunoco was the worst case of momentum profit taking in the sector with a -$24 drop from its Feb high.

Now that the selling has stopped and a minor rebound appeared we can sell a call to protect ourselves.

Tuesday Feb-21st insurance strategy:
Sell the May $90 Call SUN-EA currently $2.15
Buy the May $70 Put SUN-QN currently $3.00
Set a stop loss on the call at $89.
Set a profit stop on the put at $65.
Set a profit stop on the call at $70.

Original play description:

Sunoco has refining capacity of nearly 1 mbpd spread over five refineries and controls 4500 miles of pipeline and sells through 4528 retail outlets. They would make a very nice takeover target for Valero with a market cap of only $10.4 billion compared to $33 billion for Valero. Net income rose +61% in Q4 to $974 million. Valero made $1.35B for the same period.

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.

Position: 2007 $80 LEAP VUN-AP @ $8.70

Insurance strategy: See above

Entry $72.51 (2/12)

COP - $61.09 - Conoco Phillips ** No Stop **

No change in Conoco other than a nice rebound from $58 to $61.

Play description:

Conoco continues to hover in the $58-$60 range. This should be support as the acquisition of Burlington Industries approaches. The companies expect it to conclude in the first half of 2006. Burlington reported earnings that nearly doubled the prior year in Q4 and Conoco reported earnings that rose more than +50%. Together they should receive some synergistic benefits and increase shareholder value. Conoco is the most aggressive integrated oil company when it comes to adding reserves. They are not afraid to pay for them and they are clearly planning for the future.

Company Info:

Conoco Phillips 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 Conoco Phillips 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.

Position: 2007 $65 LEAP OJP-AM @ $5.00

Insurance Put: May $55 PUT COP-QK only if COP trades at $57.50

Entry $60.00 (02/08)

SU - $74.27 - Suncor Energy ** Stop loss $60.00 **

No change other than insurance strategy.

Tuesday Feb-21st insurance strategy:
Sell the March $80 Call SU-CP currently $1.35
Buy the March $70 Put SU-ON currently $1.55
Set a stop loss on the call at $79.95.
Set a profit stop on the put at $65.
Set a profit stop on the call at $68.

Play description:

Suncor is very active in the Canadian oil sands and has a strong plan to ramp production for the next decade. This is a very strong company in charge of their own fate. There are no OPEC concerns, no terrorists and no problems like Hugo Chavez. With the new government in Canada their business problems will likely ease instead of get worse.

I ate lunch with the Vice President of Suncore a couple months ago and he answered my questions very positively and with lots of confidence. I strongly believe this will be a good company for a long time. That does not mean profits cannot be hurt if we suddenly end up with an oil glut but that is not likely.

Company Info:

Suncor Energy Inc. (Suncor), formerly Suncor Inc., is a Canadian integrated energy company that explores for, acquires, develops, produces and markets crude oil and natural gas, transports and refines crude oil and markets petroleum and petrochemical products. Periodically, the Company also markets third-party petroleum products. Suncor also carries on energy trading activities focused principally on buying and selling futures contracts and other derivative instruments based on the commodities the Company produces. The Company has four principal operating business units: Oil Sands; Natural Gas; Energy Marketing and Refining, Canada, and Refining and Marketing, United States of America.

Position: 2007 $85 LEAP OYX-AQ @ $10.40 2/06
Position: 2007 $85 LEAP OYX-AQ @ $7.70 on 2/13, average cost $9.05

Insurance Put: See above

CCJ - $73.22 - Cameco ** Stop loss $55.00 **

So far, so good. CCJ has rebounded from $67 to $73 in a week and is poised to break that resistance at $73. Unfortunately we have a 2:1 split on Thursday. Normally there is some weakness after the split. It is my intention to double up the position once again with the $40 leaps next weekend. I do not want to do it on the day of the split but give it a day or so for premiums to settle.

Original Play Description:

We were triggered on the breakout at $72.50 on Monday and again on the $67 breakdown target on Wednesday. Each trigger was for a 1/2 position giving us a full position with an average cost of $9.80 each. That turned out to be the closing price on Friday so if you missed either opportunity you did not miss anything. We are going to add another full position after CCJ splits on Feb-23rd. I will email everyone with confirmation at that time.

This is my best single play in the list. Cameco just announced record earnings and raised their forecast for 2006 and beyond. They projected a +40% rise in revenue and a rise in margin from 23% to 28% for 2006. At the same time they announced a 2:1 split for Feb-23rd on the NYSE. They also raised the dividend to 32 cents from 24 cents payable on April 13th.

They also announced they were buying Zircatec for $108 million. Zircatec is a maker of nuclear fuel bundles for Canadian designed heavy water reactors. They said the acquisition would moderately boost 2006 earnings assuming no material changes in operations.

The combination of events including the purchase of Zircatec caused the stock to plunge from its all time high of $82.15 on Feb-1st to close at $69.97 on Friday Feb-3rd. That level remained support for the entire week through Feb-10th.

2:1 Split scheduled for Feb-23rd

Plan on doubling up with some $40 2008 LEAPS once the split occurs.

Company Info:

Cameco Corporation is engaged in exploring, developing, mining and milling uranium ore to produce uranium concentrates. The Company is also a commercial converter of uranium concentrates (U3O8) to UF6 (uranium hexafluoride), as well as a supplier of services to convert uranium concentrates to UO2 (uranium dioxide). Cameco, through its subsidiaries, has a 31.6% limited partnership interest in Bruce Power Limited Partnership, which operates six nuclear reactors in Ontario, Canada. Cameco also owns 53% of Centerra Gold Inc. (TSX: CG), a growth-oriented gold mining and exploration company engaged in the acquisition, exploration, development and operation of gold properties in Central Asia, the former Soviet Union and other emerging markets.

Breakout target $72.50
Position: 2007 $80 LEAP ZBK-AP 1/2 position @ $10.60 (2/06)

Breakdown target $67.00
Position: 2007 $80 LEAP ZBK-AP 1/2 position @ $9.00 (2/08)

Split target: Plan on adding another full position
2008 $40 LEAP after the Feb-23rd split. Target date is 2/27.

Put insurance: None today

HAL - $70.10 - Halliburton ** No Stop **

Halliburton weathered the drop in oil fairly well but we still got caught in the Monday spike to enter the position. The drop then set us back about -$2 on the LEAP. While I believe HAL will resume its upward trend once oil firms I am not recommending adding to the position to dollar cost average. Let's just sit on it and wait for a bottom to form.

Play description:

Halliburton is planning on spinning off KBR, its construction and engineering unit. This should produce a significant bounce in HAL stock. (KBR stands for Kellogg, Brown and Root) HAL is a very strong service company and should soar when it is no longer held in check by the sins of KBR.

2:1 Split scheduled for March 23rd.

Company Info:

Halliburton Company is an oilfield services company, and a provider of engineering and construction services. The Company provides services, products, maintenance, engineering and construction to energy, industrial and governmental customers. Its six business segments are Production Optimization, Fluid Systems, Drilling and Formation Evaluation, Digital and Consulting Solutions, collectively the Energy Services Group, and Government and Infrastructure, and Energy and Chemicals, collectively known as KBR. In August 2004, the Company sold its surface well testing and sub-sea test tree operations to Power Well Service Holdings, LLC. In January 2005, the Company emerged out of the chapter 11 proceedings and can operate the businesses without Bankruptcy Court supervision.

Position: 2007 $85 LEAP Call VHW-AQ @ $9.80

Insurance Put: None until after the split

Entry $79.00 (2/06)

KMG - $97.91 - Kerr Mcgee ** Stop Loss $91.50 **

Premiums have shrunk after the small bounce in KMG last week to $98. This is enough to allow us to make an insurance trade to protect us against any further drops in oil prices.

Tuesday Feb-21st insurance strategy:
Sell the April $105 Call KMG-DA currently $2.35
Buy the April $90 Put KMG-PR currently $1.80
Set a stop loss on the call at $104.95.
Set a profit stop on the put at $85.
Set a profit stop on the call at $93.

Company Info:

Kerr-McGee Corporation (Kerr-McGee) is an energy and inorganic chemical holding company whose consolidated subsidiaries, joint ventures and other affiliates (together, affiliates) have operations throughout the world. The Company's core businesses include exploration and production, and chemicals. Kerr-McGee's oil and gas exploration and production areas are onshore in the United States, in the Gulf of Mexico, the United Kingdom sector of the North Sea and China. In addition, the Company has exploration programs in Alaska, Brazil, Morocco, Bahamas and Benin. Kerr-McGee affiliates engaged in chemical businesses produce and market inorganic industrial chemicals, lithium-metal-polymer batteries and heavy minerals. On June 25, 2004, the Company completed a merger with Westport Resources Corporation. On March 8, 2005, the Company annonced its decision to proceed with the proposal to pursue alternatives for the separation of the chemical business, including a spinoff or sale.

Position: 2007 $115 LEAP Call OGM-AC @ $9.00

Entry $107.00 (2/06)

UPL - $57.42 - Ultra Petroleum ** Stop Loss $45.00 **

Nice bounce in UPL will allow us to take out insurance. Gas prices are going to fall before summer and that will be our signal to close the insurance positions.

Tuesday Feb-21st insurance strategy:
Sell the June $65 Call UPL-FM currently $4.20
Buy the June $55 Put UPL-RK currently $4.70
Set a stop loss on the call at $64.95.
Set a profit stop on the put at $50.
Set a profit stop on the call at $50.

Original play description:

Ultra was one of the few that did not get hit on Monday. The breakdown target at $62 was our trigger on Tuesday but unfortunately it was followed by a -$7 drop on Thursday. They announced earnings on Tuesday that beat the street but they were hammered on Thursday after announcing they entered into a pipeline agreement with Rockies Express Pipeline (REP) for $70 million a year for ten years starting in 2007. REP is obligated to build pipelines to southwestern Wyoming and transport 200,000 MMBtu per day of gas to connecting hubs for Ultra.

Ultra's finding and development cost for 2005 was $0.56 per MCFe and reserve replacement was 773%, both the best in the industry. Ultra has 17 years of drilling planned with 160 wells planned for 2006 in Wyoming alone. They produced 73.4 Bcfe of gas in 2005 which suggests the 200,000 MMBtu capacity being contracted above is only a portion of their expected Wyoming production. With Wyoming gas selling for more than $8 per MMBtu in January that represents $1.6 million in gas production through the pipeline per day or roughly $584 million per year. I would gladly pay $70 million for pipes to carry $584 million of gas to market.

Ultra ended 2005 with no debt. Their profit per MCFe was $6.94 in Q4. Net profit increased +111% in 2005, ROE was 55%. Proved reserves in Wyoming at the end of 2005 were 2.022 TCFe of gas, a +32% increase over 2004. Proved and probable reserves were 6.29 TCFe. This represents better than a 2000% increase in reserve growth since 1999. Ultra has more than 2877 scheduled wells to drill in Wyoming over the next 17 years.

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.

Position: 2007 $70 LEAP Call OZH-AN @ $10.70

Insurance Put: See above

Entry $62 (2/08)

HOC - $59.62 - Holly Corp ** Stopped $56.00 **

Holly crashed on the RIG warning and the downgrade of the refinery sector on the same day despite posting record earnings the day before. HOC has rebounded from $56 to nearly $60 since we were stopped out by 15 cents on Tuesday. I am going to add HOC as a watch list item at our stop price. That should get us back into the play for pretty close to a breakeven if it happens.

Company Info:

Holly is a very strong company despite its small size. It has a huge cash pile and no debt. The ratio of cash to equity is currently 67% and Holly is trading at only a 9 PE. The $2B company is a huge takeover target given its inland refineries and pipeline capacity. Forbes named it one of America's best managed companies with a five year annualized return of 80.7%, the best in the oil and gas industry.

Holly Corporation (Holly) is an independent petroleum refiner that produces and distributes high-value light products, such as gasoline, diesel fuel and jet fuel. As of December 31, 2004, the Company, through its principal subsidiaries, operated and managed three refineries located in Artesia and Lovington, New Mexico (operated as one refinery); Woods Cross, Utah (Woods Cross refinery), and Great Falls, Montana (Montana Refinery). Holly also holds ownership interests in Holly Energy Partners, L.P. (HEP), a limited-liability company that owns and operates pipeline and terminally ailing assets, as well as 70% interest in the Rio Grande Pipeline Company (Rio Grande). Rio Grande owns a 249-mile pipeline that transports liquid petroleum gases (LPGs) from West Texas to the Texas/Mexico border. During the year ended December 31, 2004, gasoline, diesel fuel and jet fuel (excluding volumes purchased for resale) represented 59%, 26% and 5%, respectively, of the refinery's sales volumes.

Breakout target $71.00
Sept $75 Call HOC-IO @ $7.20 (2/06)

Add a full position on Feb-13th
Sept $75 Call HOC-IO @ $4.40 (2/13), average cost = $5.80

Exit 2/14 $2.20, -$3.60, sometimes everything goes wrong.

Insurance Put: None

MTG - $62.80 - M.G.I.C. Investment Corp ** Stop $65.25 **

No change. Downtrend still in place.

Original play description:

MGIC provides mortgage insurance to lenders for borrowers with high loan to value ratios. The borrower pays the mortgage protection insurance premiums with their monthly payment. With the very high loan to value mortgages of the last couple years MGIC has a rising risk of default. Earnings were on Thursday and revenue fell -8% along with a net decrease in premiums received of -8.2%. New insurance written also fell. The percentage of delinquent loans at year-end rose to 4.52% from 3.99%.

I know several homeowners, three in the same block, that are only days/weeks away from foreclosure and everyone had taken advantage of the accelerating home values to refi, some more than once. Home values have fallen nearly -20% in this Colorado area despite what you read in the papers. The foreclosure boom is coming and MGIC will suffer.

Company Info:

MGIC Investment Corporation is a holding company that, through its wholly owned subsidiary, Mortgage Guaranty Insurance Corporation (MGIC), provides private mortgage insurance in the United States to the home mortgage lending industry. Its principal products are primary mortgage insurance and pool mortgage insurance. Primary mortgage insurance may be written on a flow basis, in which loans are insured in individual, loan-by-loan transactions, or may be written on a bulk basis, in which a portfolio of loans is individually insured in a single, bulk transaction. It is licensed in all 50 states of the United States, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. In addition to mortgage insurance on first liens, the Company provides lenders with various underwriting and other services and products related to home mortgage lending through other subsidiaries.

Positon: 2008 $65 LEAP Put YHM-MM @ $6.50
(No 2007 $65 put exists)

Insurance Call: None

Entry $67.22 (01/15)

VLO - $54.43 Valero ** No Stop **

No change in UPL other than a very nice bounce from $48 to $54.

Insurance commentary for Feb-12th
That was really UGLY. However, it worked out almost perfectly for our insurance coverage. We hit the profit stop of $54 on the $57.50 put on Thursday and that reduced our cost in the LEAP by -$3.10 !! Unfortunately that same put soared from $4.70 to $8.20 on Friday with the continued drop in VLO but we can't gripe. The insurance scenario we had in place over the last month has reduced our cost in the LEAP from $6.60 to $1.60 and we still have a March $45 put in place to protect us against a further drop. Set a $48 profit stop on that put and hopefully we can get our cost under a buck on the LEAP. I have complete confidence VLO will set a new high before the year is out and we will be sitting pretty!

Insurance commentary for Feb-6th
The insurance I recommended last week end worked perfectly. The gap open on Monday allowed us to sell the March $65 call for $2.70 assuming you waited for the initial gap open to slow or as much as $3.30 is you waited for the spike to cool. The same gap open pushed the protective put lower to a range of $1.45 to $1.90. Using an average price of $2.50 on the call and $1.60 on the put we ended up with a net gain of +0.90 cents and now have insurance of a March $57.50 put. That put is now worth $2.75 and the call $1.40. I am recommending we buy back the call on Monday at $1.40 and after our net gain of +90 cents on the initiation of the insurance position we now have a cost in the put of 50 cents. Should VLO continue lower we can sell the put for a profit to further reduce our cost in the LEAP. Target VLO at $54 to exit the put. Otherwise it will remain insurance until it expires.

Company Info:

Valero Energy Corporation (Valero) owns and operates 18 refineries having a combined throughput capacity, including crude oil and other feedstocks, of approximately 3.3 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 gasoline, 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.

Position: 2007 $60 LEAP Call VHB-AL @ $6.60
1/30 Cost reduced by spread on put/call -0.90, now $5.70
2/06 Cost reduced by -1.00 on closed call, now $4.70
2/09 Cost reduced by -3.10 on closed $57 put, now $1.60

Monday Feb-13th
Set profit stop on March $45 put at $48 on VLO

Insurance Put: March $45 Put VLO-OI @ $1.20 ** Still open **
Put entered on 12/27 when VLO traded at $51

Monday Feb-6th:

Close the March $65 Call VLO-CM @ $1.50, +1.00
Set a profit target on the March $57 put at $54, exit $4.70 (2/9)

Monday Jan-30th:

Sell March $65 Call VLO-CM @ $2.50 bid
Buy March $57.50 Put VLO-OY @ $1.60 ask
Set a stop loss on the call at $64. Profit stop at $54
Set a profit stop on the put at $52.

Entry $52.30 (12/16)

HW - $38.45 - Headwaters ** No Stop **

HW rallied to close at a new five month high on Friday and very close to our stop on the May $40 call. I considered closing it but it had only appreciated to a nickel more than we paid for it back in December. There is still the chance that HW will stall and if not we can still stop out of the call at $39.95. No change in the play. Maintain the stop loss on the call at $39.95.


Headwaters (HW) has a compound annual growth rate of more than +120% mainly because it deals with the ash left over from burned coal. Coal generates a lot of ash and it is a problem the electric generating plants have to deal with when these cold fronts really suck up their coal supplies. Headwaters has three separate businesses from that ash. They have a business that buys and sells it for various purposes. Second they have produced a bonding agent to that makes it easy to transport without blowing out of the rail cars. They sell this to others for profit. Third they have a patented process for converting this ash into a synthetic fuel, which is licensed to plants that actually do the conversion.

They also make building materials and a cement substitute that uses this ash to make concrete more durable. Considering the thousands of tons of ash generated each week this appears to be a gold mine for Headwaters. When electric plants fight the tons of daily ash Headwaters is there to help and converts that ash back to dollars. This sounds too good to be true and I think that was the real problem with the decline from $46 in August to the $30 level in October. The ramp from IPO in April from $30 to $46 and decline back to $30 is complete. Those that got in on the good IPO story took their profits as energy prices declined. Now may be the time to jump back on the coal train with Headwaters rather than Peabody.

Company Info:

Headwaters Incorporated is a diversified company providing products, technologies and services to the energy, construction and home improvement industries. Headwaters conduct its business primarily through four business units, including Headwaters Resources, Headwaters Technology Innovation Group (HTI), Headwaters Construction Materials and Headwaters Technology Innovation Group. In September 2004, the Company acquired Tapco Holdings Inc., a manufacturer of building products and professional tools used in residential remodeling and construction. In June 2004, the Company acquired Eldorado Stone, LLC, a manufacturer of architectural manufactured stone based in San Marcos, California. Eldorado Stone is being purchased from Graham Partners, a middle-market private equity firm. Eldorado Stone will be integrated into Headwaters' coal-based construction materials operations.

Position: 2007 $40 LEAP Call ZPP-AH @ $4.30

Dec-27th Insurance Combo:
Sell May $40 Call HW-EH currently $2.05, set stop at $39.95
Buy May $35 Put HW-QG currently $2.15

Entry $35.50 (11/22)

CHK - $29.74 Chesapeake Energy ** No Stop **

CHK bounced nicely with the sector but I fear that lower gas prices are just ahead. I am going to recommend selling another call to offset the premium decay. We still have an April $25 put and while I considered adding one at $27.50 I would rather just keep the premium from selling the next call.

Tuesday Feb-21st cost reduction strategy:
Sell the April $32.50 Call CHK-DZ currently $1.10
Set a stop loss on the call at $32.50.
Set a profit stop on the call at $27.

There was no insider trading over the last week. Evidently the insiders are still waiting for he spring demand drop for gas.

Meanwhile target $25 to sell the existing put.

Prior commentary:
The CEO said on Wednesday (2/01) that CHK is more likely a buyer of other companies and assets than a target of a takeover itself. He said there were many potential targets smaller than Chesapeake and the drop in gas prices made them attractive. He said gas prices should remain in the $7.50-$10.50 range the rest of the year. He did not expect any major to make a big play like Conoco did when it purchased Burlington late last year for $35 billion. He also said CHK's $2.2 billion acquisition of Columbia Natural Resources was going better than planned and the opportunity appears to be bigger than originally thought. McClendon said CHK had actively hedged its output when prices were higher and were profiting from the swings in prices. He said the plunge in gas prices was "fantastic" because it made acquisitions cheaper, stemmed demand destruction and gave consumers a break on their utility bills. CHK also announced the private placement of $500 million in 6.5% notes due in 2017. The proceeds would be used to pay off bank debt. What a deal! Gas will be $30 by then and the $500 million plus interest will be chump change.

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.

Position: 2007 $35 LEAP VEC-AG @ $4.00

Insurance Put:
April $25 CHK-PE when CHK traded at $28 on 11/07 @ $2.30

Covered Call 12/27:
Sold the April $35 Call CHK-DG currently $2.15
Set a stop loss on the call at $34.95, exit @ $2.70, -55, 1/30

Entry $29 (11/04)


Leaps Trader Watch List

Running out of targets

After the big profit warning from RIG last week almost the entire drilling and service sector hit our targets. Those that didn't barely missed.

I am adding a couple holders to the list as cheap plays that are immune to the daily fluctuations of individual names. The XLE is cheaper than the OIH with close strikes. It would be the bargain basement type of play with cheap options. The OIH tends to move in bigger ranges and therefore has more expensive options. Choose your poison but only one, not both.

I am adding Holly back to the list after being stopped last week by 15 cents. Dang it!

I thought we were going to get our Tenaris play but it rebounded just over $140 and we may have to wait several weeks for a repeat performance, if ever.

I am not moving the targets on the current plays due to the size of the portfolio. I only want additional positions if I can buy them right.

Jim Brown

Dropped Entries


New Watch List Entries
Oil Service Holders
XLE $53.01 Energy Select Spdr
HOC $59.62 Holly Corp

Current Watch List

TS - $153.82 - Tenaris

Tenaris S.A. is a global manufacturer of seamless steel pipes for the oil and gas industry and a global supplier of seamless steel pipes for process and power plants and for industrial and automotive applications. It is also a regional supplier of welded steel pipes for oil and gas pipelines in South America. Tenaris focus on providing end-user customers a service that integrates manufacturing, procurement, distribution and on-time delivery of products throughout the world. Incorporated in Luxembourg, the Company has manufacturing facilities in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Romania and Venezuela. It also has a proprietary global service and distribution network in over 20 countries. Tenaris' customers include many of the world's major oil and gas companies, as well as a large number of engineering and industrial companies.

Breakdown target $135.00
Buy Sept $150 Call TSW-IJ 1/2 position

This is a wild card shot. If we do get the drop I would love to buy the option but the options are expensive!


PBR - $91.21 - Petro Brasileiro

Low last week: $82.20 2/14

Petroleo Brasileiro S.A. - Petrobras (Petrobras) is a mixed-capital enterprise of which a majority of voting capital must be owned by the Brazilian Government. The Company is engaged in a range of oil and gas activities, which include segments such as exploration and production, refining, transportation and marketing, distribution, natural gas and power, international, and corporate. Besides the dominant market position in Brazil, Petrobras has oil and gas activities in international locations, with significant international operations in Latin America, the Gulf of Mexico and West of Africa. 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 $82.00
Buy 2007 $90 LEAP Call VDW-AR


SLB - $114.45 - Schlumberger Ltd.

Low last week: $111.05 (2/15)

Schlumberger Limited (Schlumberger) is an oilfield services company that supplies technology, project management and information solutions for the oil and gas industry. Schlumberger consists of two business segments: Schlumberger Oilfield Services and WesternGeco. Schlumberger Oilfield Services is an oilfield services company that supplies a range of technology services and solutions to the international petroleum industry. WesternGeco, jointly owned with Baker Hughes, is a surface seismic company. On January 29, 2004, Schlumberger completed the sale of its SchlumbergerSema business to Atos Origin. During the year ended December 31, 2004, Schlumberger completed the initial public offering of Axalto and no longer retains any ownership interest in this business.

Breakdown target $110.00
Buy 2007 $120 LEAP Call VWY-AD


BTU - $92.25 - Peabody Energy

Low last week: $83.50 2/14

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.

Breakdown target $81.00
Buy 2007 $90 LEAP Call ZZT-AR


PCU - $80.50 - Southern Copper Corp

Low last week: $76.50 2/16

Southern Copper Corporation, formerly Southern Peru Copper Corporation (SPCC), is an integrated producer of copper that operates mining, smelting and refining facilities in the southern part of Peru. The copper operations of the Company involve mining, milling and flotation of copper ore to produce copper concentrates, the smelting of copper concentrates to produce blister copper and the refining of blister copper to produce copper cathodes. SPCC also produces refined copper using the solvent extraction/electrowinning (SX/EW) technology. Silver, molybdenum and small amounts of other metals are contained in copper ore as by-products. Silver sold is recovered in the refining process or as an element of blister copper. Molybdenum is recovered from copper concentrate in a molybdenum by-product plant.

Breakdown target $75.00
Buy Sept $85 Call PCU-IQ


HOC - $59.62 - Holly Corp

Holly is a very strong company despite its small size. It has a huge cash pile and no debt. The ratio of cash to equity is currently 67% and Holly is trading at only a 9 PE. The $2B company is a huge takeover target given its inland refineries and pipeline capacity. Forbes named it one of America's best managed companies with a five year annualized return of 80.7%, the best in the oil and gas industry.

Holly Corporation (Holly) is an independent petroleum refiner that produces and distributes high-value light products, such as gasoline, diesel fuel and jet fuel. As of December 31, 2004, the Company, through its principal subsidiaries, operated and managed three refineries located in Artesia and Lovington, New Mexico (operated as one refinery); Woods Cross, Utah (Woods Cross refinery), and Great Falls, Montana (Montana Refinery). Holly also holds ownership interests in Holly Energy Partners, L.P. (HEP), a limited-liability company that owns and operates pipeline and terminally ailing assets, as well as 70% interest in the Rio Grande Pipeline Company (Rio Grande). Rio Grande owns a 249-mile pipeline that transports liquid petroleum gases (LPGs) from West Texas to the Texas/Mexico border. During the year ended December 31, 2004, gasoline, diesel fuel and jet fuel (excluding volumes purchased for resale) represented 59%, 26% and 5%, respectively, of the refinery's sales volumes.

Breakdown target $56.00
Sept $65 Call HOC-IM


OIH - $136.64 - Oil Service Holders (LEAP PUT SALE)

The Oil Service HOLDRS Trust issues depositary receipts called Oil Service HOLDRS, representing an undivided beneficial ownership in the common stock of a group of specified companies that, among other things, provide drilling, well-site management, and related products and services for the oil service industry. The Bank of New York is the trustee. The Oil Service HOLDRS Trust was formed under a depositary trust agreement dated February 6, 2001. The 18 issuers of the underlying securities represented by Oil Service HOLDRS, as of August 1, 2005, were Baker Hughes Incorporated, BJ Services Company, Cooper Cameron Corporation, Diamond Offshore Drilling, Inc., ENSCO International Incorporated, Grant Prideco, Inc., GlobalSantaFe Corp., Halliburton Company, Hanover Compressor Company, Nabors Industries Ltd, Noble Corporation, National Oilwell Varco Inc., Rowan Companies, Inc., Transocean Inc., Smith International, Inc., Schlumberger Limited, Tidewater Inc. and Weatherford International Ltd.

Breakdown target $127.00
BUY April $120 Put OIH-PD


XLE - $53.01 - Energy Select SPDR

The Energy Select Sector SPDR Fund (the Fund) is an index fund that seeks to replicate the total return of the Energy Select Sector Index of the Standard & Poor's 500 Composite Stock Index (S&P 500 Index). During the fiscal year ended September 30, 2004 (fiscal 2004), the Fund had a return of 48.27%, as compared to the Energy Select Sector Index return of 48.91% and the S&P 500 Index return of 13.87%. The Fund invests in industries, such as energy equipment and services, and oil and gas services, among others. In fiscal 2004, its top five holdings were Exxon Mobil Corp., ChevronTexaco Corp., ConocoPhillips Inc., Schlumberger Ltd. and Occidental Petroleum Corp.

Breakdown target $49.55
BUY 2007 $55 LEAP Call OJW-AC


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