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Weekly Newsletter, Saturday, 08/12/2006

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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

What A Week!

Oil prices spiked to $77.40 after BP announced it was shutting down 400,000 barrel per day production of the Prudhoe Bay field. The shutdown was not just temporarily but for as long as six months. Since that is high demand light sweet crude the price of oil shot higher with talk of $80-$85 just around the corner.

Before the week was out oil prices returned to their pre announcement level on a variety of news releases and odds are very good they are going lower. As of Friday night the UN had passed a resolution that could end the conflict in Lebanon and both countries are expected to sign it. This relieves the geopolitical concerns that Iran and Syria might become involved in the conflict.

BP announced late Friday that they were going to keep production from the west side of the field open and that would allow 200,000 bpd to continue flowing. BP had already purchased 4.5 mb of replacement oil from the Middle East to supply refineries on the west coast. This was in addition to the 70 million bbls already stored at the end of the pipeline ready to be transported to Washington and California refineries. Mexico and OPEC were quick to offer to supply additional oil to resolve any shortfall from the BP problem. Since Mexican production is declining very fast and they barely have enough to supply current contracts it is doubtful the offer was anything more than lip service. OPEC has no additional capacity of light crude so that was also a hollow offer.

Good news appeared to be breaking out all over with Nigeria reporting that production had been restored in one pipeline and Shell would resume pumping 173,000 bpd of light crude through that line. That brings the level of crude offline in Nigeria back down to only 620,000 bpd. That is 24% of the countries total production.

The drop in oil prices on Thursday was not related to the foiled terror plot as reported on TV. It was due to a dumping of gasoline contracts after Goldman Sachs announced new weightings for its GSCI futures index for Sept and Oct. They removed a substantial amount of gasoline prompting dumping in the gasoline market. The numbers highlighted in blue in the table below represent the changes in gasoline components. Obviously it was a significant change from the August weighting.

GSCI Commodity Index Weighting Change Table

There are no hurricanes on the horizon, gasoline demand should slow significantly over the next two weeks and gasoline inventories are +300,000 bbls over the five-year average. No challenge there. Oil inventories are also high despite the expected six-month drop of 200,000 bbls from the Alaskan slope. Current inventories of 332.6mb are 10.1% above the 5-year average heading into the demand slump. Israel and Lebanon should end the fighting soon and warm weather is nearly over. It sounds like the perfect storm for a drop in oil prices.

I have been saying oil prices would decline in late August for several weeks and yet new challenges continued to appear to support prices. I believe we are about to see that decline unless a string of hurricanes suddenly appears on the horizon. Using those assumptions I am adding some puts and closing some positions to clear the deck. We want to reload the boat on the dip with new positions and longer LEAPS.

Notice in the charts below that the spread between September and December futures has narrowed significantly. The abundance of oil is cooling expectations for winter shortages.

I am going to an energy conference all next week and should have some interesting news when I return. 78 energy companies will tell their story and their outlook for the future. Petrie Parkman & Co. will update everyone on their overall outlook for the industry and project supply and demand for the rest of the decade. It should be very informative. I will take good notes!


September Crude Futures - Daily

December Crude Oil Futures Chart - Daily

December Natural Gas Futures Chart - Daily

September Unleaded Gasoline Chart

 


Changes in Portfolio

New Plays
OIX $642.28 Oil Index Portfolio Hedge (new put)

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

OIX - $642.28 - Oil Index Portfolio Hedge

No Change in play. The OIX failed to maintain any gains for the week and should drop like a rock once oil prices begin to crater. I would continue to use the OIX as a hedge for any current positions but use the Sept 600 put OIX-UY instead of the initial strike.

Current recommendation: Buy above $600 using OIX-UY

Play description:

The CBOE Oil Index consists of 11 energy stocks of primarily integrated oils. The index reacts sharply to changes in the price of oil and gas.

The focus of this play is to hedge our current energy positions against a decline in oil prices as the summer draws to a close. Each reader will have to decide how many contracts needed to hedge their current positions. You do not want to be moving in and out of the OIX position given the relatively wide bid/ask spread.

A drop to $540 should double the premium paid and a drop to $500 should produce a $50 premium or $5000 per contract. At our entry price of $12.00 or $1200 that represents $3800 profit per contract. That would hedge several of our current positions very easily.

Index Components:

Position:

Sept $550 Put OIX-UJ @ $12.00, no stop.

BHI - $75.39 - Baker Hughes Intl ** Stopped @ $75 **

BHI took itself out of contention with a touch of our stop at $75 on Friday for a loss of -90 cents.

With our cost now at $2.60 we will not add any new insurance puts. We could end up doubling our cost without any real benefit.

Current recommendation: Hold

Earnings: July 28th, EPS $4.14, $1.4 billion

Company info:

Baker Hughes Incorporated (Baker Hughes) is engaged in the oilfield services industry. The Company supplies wellbore-related products and technology services and systems to the oil and natural gas industry on a worldwide basis, including products and services for drilling, formation evaluation, completion and production of oil and natural gas wells. Baker Hughes operates through subsidiaries, affiliates, ventures and alliances. It operates in three business segments: Drilling and Evaluation, Completion and Production, and WesternGeco. The Drilling and Evaluation segment consists of the Baker Hughes Drilling Fluids, Hughes Christensen, INTEQ and Baker Atlas divisions. The Completion and Production segment consists of the Baker Oil Tools, Baker Petrolite and Centrilift divisions. The WesternGeco segment consists of the Company's 30% equity interest in WesternGeco, a seismic venture with Schlumberger Limited. WesternGeco provides reservoir imaging, monitoring and development services.


Position: Jan $95 Call BHI-AS @ $6.20
Cost update: Closed short $100 Call, +0.90, cost = $5.30
Cost update: Closed long $80 Put, +2.70, cost = $2.60
Exit 8/11 at $75 stop @ $1.70, loss of -90 cents.


Additions 6/08 (closed 6/13)
Short: Jan $100 Call BHI-AT, entry $3.20, exit $2.30, +0.90
Long: Jul $80 Put BHI-SP, entry $4.30, exit $7.00, +2.70


Entry $85.24 (6/6)

ACI - $35.45 - Arch Coal Inc ** No Stop **

No change in play. Arch is bleeding with the rest of the coal community but we have a strong insurance position with the Sept $35 put to take advantage of any late August decline.

No stop on current insurance put. Hold for instructions.

Current Recommendation: Buy under $35

Earnings: July 21st, $69.6 million, $0.48 cents

Prior Commentary:

The CEO said in an interview on June 28th that a lot of legacy contracts were expiring soon and that had great implications for their bottom line. Arch saw profits jump 10-fold in the first quarter as new contracts took effect. He said coal would be so short that users would want to secure future contracts to guarantee supply. Coal prices have risen sharply since 2004 doubling in most US basins and tripling in some. Because Arch sells its coal under long-term contracts it has yet to see these prices. Customers of Arch had been locked in at 2003 prices. He said over the next three years the vast majority of their contracts would expire. He said Arch would be selective on which they would renew at current prices. With a strong balance sheet they can take a different view of sales. He said it was the best environment seen in over 20 years for coal. The US currently has 310 gigawatts of electric power and 50% is fired by coal. The US is adding 90 gigawatts with 20 GW being completed by 2010. This will consume another 65 million tons of coal or an increase of roughly 6.5% over current production not counting increases in other areas.

Company Info:

Arch Coal, Inc. operates as a coal producer in the United States. The Company's primary business is the production of steam and metallurgical coal from surface and underground mines throughout the United States, for sale to utility, industrial and export markets. Its mines are located in southern West Virginia, eastern Kentucky, Virginia, southern Wyoming, Colorado and Utah. As of December 31, 2005, it operated 21 mines, and controlled approximately 3.1 billion tons of proven and probable coal reserves. During the year ended December 31, 2005, the Company sold approximately 140.2 million tons of coal. The Company has three business segments, which are based on the low-sulfur coal producing regions in the United States, in which the Company has operations. These segments are the Central Appalachia region, the Powder River Basin and the Western Bituminous region. On December 31, 2005, the Company sold its 100% interest in Hobet Mining, Inc., Apogee Coal Company and Catenary Coal Company.


Position: Jan 2008 $50 LEAP Call YEP-AJ @ $4.20

Insurance Put 8/06
Position: Sept $35 Put ACI-UG @ $1.50

Entry $48.36 (5/31)

TIE - $25.83 - Titanium Metals ** Exit **

The stop loss was $25 and it closed at $25.83 after losing -$3 for the week. I am throwing in the towel to clear the way for new energy plays over the next few weeks.

Current Recommendation: Sell

Earnings: July 24th, +64%, $54.3M, 0.31 cents

Prior commentary:

Analyst Chris Olin of FTN Midwest Securities said this week that demand for TIE products will continue to surge through 2012. TIE is already at 88% capacity and has a backlog of $860 million in orders. Despite additional capacity plans by both TIE and ATI the market is expected to be undersupplied through at least 2010. Chairman Harold Simmons personally owned 2.6% of TIE shares as of March 31st but a holding company he controls owns 37.1% and SEC documents show that he and the company are aggressively increasing their positions. Boeing has orders for 393 of its 787 jumbo jet, which contains a high percentage of titanium components to keep the weight under control. Flight tests of the 7E7 Dreamliner showed it was still too heavy and suggests even more components will be switched over to titanium in the production fleet.

Company info:

Titanium Metals Corporation (TIMET) is a producer of titanium sponge, melted products and a variety of mill products for aerospace, industrial and other applications. For the commercial aerospace industry, the Company supplies titanium products to manufacturers of commercial airframes. Outside of aerospace markets, the Company manufactures a range of products for customers in the chemical process, oil and gas, consumer, sporting goods, automotive, power generation and armor/armament industries. Approximately 15% of the Company's sales revenue, during the year ended December 31, 2005, was generated by sales into industrial and emerging markets. TIMET markets and sells its products in the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Italy.

Position:
December $45 Call TIE-LI @ $5.70
Cost reduction: July $30 Put, -1.40, cost = 4.30
Exit 8/11 @ 45 cents, -3.85 loss

Insurance put: (closed 7/13)
July $30 PUT TIE-SF, 6/8 @ $2.00, exit 7/13 @ $3.40, +1.40


Entry $38.22 (5/28)

BHP - $41.07 - BHP Billiton Limited ** Exit **

I am throwing in the towel on BHP as well this week. It gave back all its gains from the prior two weeks and appears ready to breakdown under support at $40. The strike at its copper mine is weighing on the stock.

Current recommendation: Sell

Earnings schedule: Aug 23rd

Company Info:

BHP Billiton Limited is a diversified resources group. The Company is an exporter of metallurgical coal for the steel industry; an exporter of energy coal; a producer of iron ore, copper, nickel metal, manganese ore, primary aluminium and manganese and chrome ferroalloys. It also has substantial interests in oil, gas, liquefied natural gas (LNG), diamonds, silver and titanium minerals. BHP Billiton operates in seven segments: Petroleum (oil, natural gas and LNG), Aluminium (aluminium and alumina), Base Metals (copper, silver, zinc and lead), Carbon Steel Materials (metallurgical coal, iron ore and manganese), Diamonds and Specialty Products (diamonds, titanium minerals and metals distribution), Energy Coal (energy coal) and Stainless Steel Materials (nickel metal, and chrome and nickel ferroalloys).

BHP is the second largest global producer of copper, 3rd largest producer of nickel, 4th in uranium, 5th in aluminum and zinc. BHP is also the number one sea borne supplier of coking coal and manganese. BHP also produces oil and gas.

Breakdown trigger $46.75 hit 5/15
Position: 2008 $50 LEAP Call LPH-AJ @ $7.50
Cost update: Closed June $40 Put 6/12, -1.10, cost = $6.40

Insurance put:
Closed: JUNE $40 Put BHP-RH @ $1.50 (5/22), exit $2.60, 6/8
Position: Aug $35 Put BHP-TG @ $1.30 (6/12)

Entry $46.75 (5/15)

MDR - $47.70 - McDermott ** Stop loss $38 **

MDR posted earnings that showed a +59% growth in operating income and a +87% growth in order backlog. While it is hard to argue with numbers like that it is also hard to read MDR financials. They reorganized again and that made the numbers difficult for most to understand. Still, that backlog number is very strong. The BP disaster this week shows that the infrastructure tax must be paid and MDR is in the business of collecting that tax.

I am adding a put just in case we get a sector implosion over the next five weeks.

New Insurance Put:
Buy September $45 Put MDR-UI currently $1.40

Current recommendation: Buy @ $43

Earnings schedule: August 7th

Company Info:

J. Ray McDermott is a leading provider of engineering, procurement, construction, and installation services for offshore oil and gas field developments worldwide. McDermott International, Inc. is a leading worldwide energy services company. McDermott's subsidiaries provide engineering, construction, installation, procurement, research, manufacturing, environmental systems, project management and facility management services to a variety of customers in the energy and power industries, including the U.S. Department of Energy.

3:2 split on June 1st reduced the strike price by 1/3 and increased the contract size to 150 shares.

Position 2007 $70 LEAP Call OYZ-AN @ $8.50
Split into 2007 $46.66 LEAP OYZ-AX @ $5.66
or
Position 2008 $75 LEAP Call YAE-AO @ $12.50
Split into 2008 $50.00 LEAP YAB-AJ @ $8.33
Cost increase put close 6/26 +1.40, cost = $9.73


Insurance put:
Position: August $36.625 Put MHH-TV @ $2.00, 6/13,
closed .60 6/26, -1.40


Position: June $60 Put MDR-RL @ $1.25 (5/22)
Split into June $40 Put MHH-RH @ $0.83, expired worthless 6/16


Entry $44.02 (5/18)

PTR - $116.25 - Petrochina ** No Stop **

No change in play. New two-month highs this week. I am adding a put to protect against a drop in oil prices.

We have a 2008 LEAP and PTR could be $200 before expiration. As long as we maintain the positive trend the long-term price of oil should be our salvation.

New insurance put:
Buy Sept $110 Put PTR-UB currently $2.40

Current recommendation: Hold

Earnings schedule: August 24th according to Ameritrade

Prior commentary:

Petrochina is the fourth largest energy company in the world. It is a government monopoly but it acts like an independent. PTR is aggressively acquiring leases and rapidly expanding its drilling program. It currently has over 10.9 billion bbls of proven reserves and more than 44 TCF of gas. Warren Buffet owns $2.3 billion of PTR stock. It trades at less than $12 per BOE and has a 3.5% dividend yield. PTR owns 14,000 service stations and has 2,900 franchised stations. It is majority owned by China and has unlimited capital for expansion if China likes the deal. I expect several acquisitions by PTR over the next couple years but with a $208 billion market cap and China as the owner it will not be a target itself. China would never give up control of those oil assets. PTR saw its output rise +6.3% in Q1 to 267.7 million bbls when most companies were posting declines in reserves and production. Gas output rose +35.6%. PTR owns 75% of the oil and gas reserves in China and supplies 40% of its needs. This is as close to a permanent lock on a profit as we can get given the rapid growth of China's economy.

Cramer has been pounding the table on PTR saying it was not afraid to drill in communist countries, places torn apart by strife or run by two-bit dictators like Chavez or Morales. With the Chinese government and military behind it there is little chance of somebody trying to confiscate PTR assets.

Company info:

PetroChina Company Limited operates a range of petroleum and related activities through four primary business segments: Exploration and Production Segment, Refining and Marketing Segment, Chemicals and Marketing Segment, and Natural Gas and Pipeline Segment. The activities include the exploration, development, production and sales of crude oil and natural gas; the refining, transportation, storage and marketing of crude oil and petroleum products; the production and sales of basic petrochemical products, derivative chemical products and other chemical products, and the transmission of natural gas, crude oil and refined products, and the sales of natural gas.

Position: 2008 $120 LEAP Call LJC-AD @ $16.20
Cost adjustment: Close short Dec $115 call +1.30 = $17.50
Cost adjustment: Close long July $90 puts +3.00 = $20.50

Insurance combo: Closed
Short: Dec $115 Call PTR-LC @ $3.20, 6/13, exit $4.50, -1.30
Long: (2) July $90 Puts PTR-SR @ $3.70, 6/13, exit $0.70, -3.00


Insurance puts: (Closed 6/7)
Closed: June $105 PUT PTR-RA, @ $4.20 (5/22), exit 6/7 @ $4.30

Entry 5/14 $116.20

CSX - $58.96 - CSX Corp ** Stopped @ $59 **

CSX slipped to a new five-month low on the implosion in the transportation sector. That took us out at our $59 stop. Even the best stocks go down when their sector takes a -16% dump.

Earnings:

CSX Corp, posted earnings that beat the street by 51 cents and was +127% over the same quarter in 2005. They also announced a 2:1 stock split, a 10 cent post split dividend (+54%) and a $500 million buyback program over the next 12 months. They said business was so strong they expected to raise prices up by +6% this year and again in 2007. They did receive some insurance payments related to hurricane losses that inflated earnings slightly but were roughly equivalent to the profits they would have made without the hurricanes. The company said business was booming for as far out as they could see.

The insurance put is out of range but we will leave the profit stop on it just in case the market rolls over.

Current recommendation: Hold

Maintain a profit stop on the Aug $55 Put CSX-TK @ CSX $52

Earnings schedule: July 18th


Company Info:

CSX Corporation (CSX) based in Jacksonville, Florida, owns companies providing rail, intermodal and rail-to-truck transload services that combine to form transportation companies, connecting more than 70 ocean, river and lake ports. CSX's principal operating company, CSX Transportation Inc. (CSXT), operates the railroad in the eastern United States with approximately 21,000-mile rail network linking commercial markets in 23 states, the District of Columbia, and the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec. CSX Intermodal Inc. (Intermodal) is a coast-to-coast intermodal transportation provider, an integrated intermodal company serving customers from origin to destination with its own truck and terminal operations, plus a dedicated domestic container fleet. Containers and trailers are loaded and unloaded from trains, with trucks providing the link between intermodal terminals and the customer.


Breakout trigger $60.50 hit Apr-3rd
Position: 2008 $65 LEAP Call YYD-AM @ $8.30
Cost update: Closed June $65 put, +3.05, cost = $5.25

Insurance Put:
Position: August $55 Put CSX-TK @ .95 cents. 6/12
Maintain profit stop at CSX $52.

Insurance Put: (closed 6/08)
Closed: June $65 PUT CSX-RM @ $1.20, exit 6/08, $4.25, +3.05

Entry $60.50 (4/03)

BTU - $46.16 - Peabody Energy ** Stop loss $39 **

BTU is struggling and has nearly given back its gains from the prior week. $44 should be support followed by $40 and I am reluctant to add any new puts. They are very expensive and we have had rotten luck with BTU. I glanced at the national weather chart and there is hot weather everywhere except the northeast. I am hoping another week of inventory draws in natural gas will lift it off support. I did add a stop loss just in case.

Prior commentary:

BTU announced the acquisition of Australia's Excel Coal for $1.4 billion. The market liked the deal and BTU rose on the announcement. Excel is expected to boost its production from 5.6 million tons in 2005 to 15 million tons in 2007. BTU already produces about 60 million tons per quarter so at 2007 levels Excel will amount to about 6% of the 255 million ton total. The key to the equation is the distance from Australia to the high-demand markets like India and China as well as the volume of metallurgical coal Excel produces. If BTU is on the acquisition path James River (JRCC) and Foundation (FCL) have been rumored as targets as well as Massey Energy (MEE) and Consol Energy (CNX). Those would require a much stronger investment and face some regulatory hurdles.

We have been unbelievably unlucky on our insurance puts on BTU. Every one was filled near the highs for the day, low for BTU, and was followed promptly by a strong jump in BTU rendering our put worthless. I am hesitant to buy another one and I plan on selling an in the money calls when gas prices roll over. That collapse could last more than a month so we should be safe. I just want to get past the earnings before making any new moves.

Current recommendation: Buy over $40

Earnings schedule: July 20th

Company Info:

Peabody Energy Corporation (Peabody) is the largest 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.

Position: 2008 $55 LEAP Call LLW-AK @ $9.50
Cost increased 4/19 by +1.30 to $10.80
Cost increased 5/01 by +1.70 to $12.50
Cost increased 6/30 by +2.15 to $14.65

Insurance Put: (closed 6/30)
July $45 Put BTU-SI @ $2.40, 6/13, exit 6/30 @ .25, -2.15

Insurance put: (closed 6/9)
Closed: JUNE $52.50 PUT BTU-RT, @ $2.70 (5/22), exit $2.65, 6/8

April 8th covered call:
Sell June $60 Call BTU-FL @ $2.20, stopped $3.50, 4/19, -1.30

April 24th covered call:
Sell Sept $70 Call BTU-IN @ $4.20, exit $5.90 5/01 -1.70
Set stop loss at $67.50, hit 5/01
Set profit stop at $58.00, changed to 58.50 4/30

Entry $48.00 (3/07)

CCJ - $38.48 - Cameco ** No stop **

CCJ said last week it had borrowed uranium from some customers to sell to others. There is simply not enough to go around. Demand through 2009 is expected to be 50 million pounds. Unsold production is only 20-30 million pounds. The price of uranium is continuing to move higher and CCJ owns 20% of the market. I am surprised we have not seen a move to the upside. CCJ has been dormant for the last several months and I continue to believe it will catch fire eventually. Strong earnings, strong backlog, demand greater than supply, it should be rocketing higher. Spread the word!

I am not going to buy another insurance put yet. Strong support at $35 should last unless the market implodes again. Hopefully the correction is past and only aftershocks remain.

Current recommendation: Buy @ $35

Earnings: July 27th, +138%

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.

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.

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.

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

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

Pre-split average cost: $9.80
Post split position: (4) 2007 $40 LEAP ZBK-AH @ $4.90
Cost reduction: -.75 on 3/21, cost now $4.15

Additional Position: 2008 $40 LEAP LTA-AH @ $9.00 on 2/25.
Added after the 2:1 split on 2/24

Put insurance: (expired 6/18)
Position: June $35 PUT CCJ-RG @ 1.20 (5/22), expired -1.20

Monday Mar-20TH cost reduction strategy:
Sell the June $40 call CCJ-FH @ $1.75
Set a profit stop at $33.50, hit 3/21, exit $1.00, +0.75
Set a stop loss at $39.95

HAL - $33.87 - Halliburton ** Stop Loss $30 **

HAL is holding its gains from the prior week and volume is positive. I am still a believer over $30.

Current recommendation: Buy over $30

Earnings: July 21st, +44% or $0.55 cents

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.

Halliburton was awarded a two-year contract with Statoil worth $193 million for cementing, drilling and completion fluid. Statoil said they were the largest contracts of their type awarded in 2006. In addition to the initial term there are three two-year extensions, which should bring the final value to somewhere in the $1 billion range allowing for adjustments.

Current position:
2007 (2) $40 LEAP Call HAL-AH @ 5.63
Cost adjustment:
Closed July $32.50 Puts, -1.55, new cost = $4.08

Original Position: 2007 $85 LEAP Call VHW-AQ @ $9.80
Monday March 20th: Position change
Sold the 2007 $85 LEAP VHW-AQ, exit $4.25.
Bought the 2007 $80 LEAP VHW-AP, entry $5.70.

Our adjusted cost in the 2007 $80 LEAPS is now $11.25
The strike is lower and will split into (2) $40 LEAPS @ $5.63

Insurance Put: (5/22) Contracts doubled by 2:1 split (HAL-SS)
Position: July $65 Put HAL-SM @ $1.00, exit $2.55 7/21

Insurance Put: (7/23)
August $27.50 Put HAL-TR @ $.45

Entry $39.50 (2/06)

VLO - $64.83 Valero ** Exit **

VLO took a -$4 hit from Wednesday's high and I am exiting the play rather than add any insurance. We are up +$5 and I am taking the profit. We will reenter VLO again on the next dip and use a longer LEAP. Our 2007 has about run its course. With gasoline prices about to drop refiners should lead the drop.

Current recommendation: Hold

Earnings Schedule: August 1st

Commentary from 6/18

Petrie Parkman analyst Chi Chow produced a 20-page report on Valero explaining why VLO trades at a discount to its peers. He blames it on the Valero spending spree that put Valero on the top in the United States. Despite very strong profits it left little cash to return to shareholders in the form of stock buybacks so prevalent recently. Valero also had a change in management with founding CEO Bill Greehey passing the baton to Bill Klesse. Chow thinks this is a very positive shareholder development. Chow suggested Valero sell five refineries currently processing the expensive light sweet crude and running on tight margins. Chow said Valero could get up to $5.8 billion in after tax proceeds. He also said Valero could generate $550 million from selling its retail gas stations and focus only on the refining business. He said Klesse is a shareholder friendly CEO and total share repurchases as a result of those actions above could amount to as much as $11 billion or up to 22% of outstanding shares.

This would be huge news and rumor has it that Valero is considering dumping some refinery assets in order to concentrate on the more profitable sour crude operations. This would be a windfall for shareholders and I hope it comes soon!


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.

Valero posted a company update on their website in late June. As part of the presentation they project higher earnings than the First Call consensus. Gasoline margins ytd in 2006 are up significantly over 2005. They expect strong year over year comparisons for Q2. According to Valero the US supply of on-road diesel is shrinking and Valero's margins are expanding. Valero estimates crude supplies will have to grow by +1.3 mbpd annually through 2010 just to stay even with demand. They see increased demand for light sweet crude and limited supply. Because Valero refines mostly sour crude their margins are significantly higher than other refiners.

The complete presentation can be viewed here: Presentation

Merrill upped VLO to a buy on June 29th.

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
2/14 Cost increased by +0.15 on exited Mar-$45 put, now $1.75
4/11 Cost increased by +1.20 on CC stop loss, now $2.95
6/18 Cost increased by +1.50 on expired $55 put, now $4.45
8/11 Exit LEAP @ $9.60, +5.15 profit.

Insurance put:
Position: June $55 PUT VLO-RK @ $1.50 (5/22), expired worthless

Monday Mar-20TH cost reduction strategy:
Sell the June $67.50 call ZPY-FR @ $1.25, exit 2.45, 4/11, -1.20
Set a profit stop at $53.75
Set a stop loss at $64.50

Monday Feb-13th
Set profit stop on March $45 put at $48 on VLO, exit $1.05 2/14
Insurance Put: March $45 Put VLO-OI @ $1.20
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.

Monday July 24th:
August $60 Put VLO-UL @ $1.20


Entry $52.30 (12/16)

 


Leaps Trader Watch List

Drilling In Los Angeles

I got one of those spam emails this week about a company that used a secret X-Ray to find 688 million bbls of oil under a major traffic intersection in Los Angeles. I love to get these because I can normally find the name of the company in less than 10 min using Google and just the limited information they give in their spam to hook you.

The company was Plains Exploration and the X-ray was 3D seismic. The field was common knowledge and had been drilled for decades. It was not new information. Surprised?

However as I explored PXP I liked their story and their chart. We have played them before but not recently. They had fallen off my radar.

Next week I will listen to 78 companies tell their tale and I should have several new opportunities for us to consider.


Jim Brown
 

Dropped Entries

None


New Watch List Entries
PXP Plains Exploration

Current Watch List

CEO - CNOOC Limited

CNOOC Limited is a producer of offshore crude oil and natural gas and an independent oil and gas exploration and production company. It mainly engages in oil and natural gas exploration, development, production and sales. The Company has four major oil production areas offshore China, which are Bohai Bay, Western South China Sea, Eastern South China Sea and East China Sea. It is an offshore oil producer in Indonesia. The Company also has certain upstream assets in regions, such as Africa and Australia. As of December 31, 2005, it owned net proved reserves of approximately 2.36 billion barrels-of-oil equivalent (BOE) and its annual average net production was 424,108 barrels-of-oil equivalent per day (BOEPD).

CEO has been rather volatile over the last year but the 50-week moving average currently at $75 has been decent support. The June drop in oil prices saw CEO trade as low as $70. I want to target the $70 level on any future dip.

CEO does not have LEAPS so I am going to email everyone the play particulars depending on when that $70 level is hit. Currently December is the longest option series available. I am hoping before $70 is hit a new series in 2007 will be added.

I repeat, we will buy the dip sometime in August. Details to follow at that time.

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UPL - Ultra Petroleum

Ultra Petroleum Corp. (Ultra) 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 primarily in the Green River Basin of southwest Wyoming and Bohai Bay, offshore China. As of December 31, 2005, Ultra owned interests in approximately 148,007 gross acres in Wyoming covering approximately 230 square miles. The Company owns working interests in approximately 330 gross productive wells in this area and is operator of 53% of the 330 gross wells. Its domestic operations are focused on developing and expanding a tight gas sand project located in the Green River Basin in southwest Wyoming. During the year ended December 31, 2005, the Company's Wyoming production was approximately 87.4% of total oil and natural gas production on a thousand cubic feet of natural gas equivalent (MCFE) basis and 98.5% of the Company's estimated net proved reserves were in Wyoming on an MCFE basis.

Ultra has been extremely volatile for the last six months with the price of natural gas falling more than -50%. Ultra has current support at $50 but I would like to target something even lower if gas supplies hit a new record late in the summer. $40 would be my initial target depending on the price of oil and gas in September.

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SU - Suncor

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. During the year ended December 31, 2005, the Company produced approximately 206,100 barrels of oil equivalent (BOE) per day, comprised of 174,500 barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil and natural gas liquids and 190 million cubic feet per day (mmcf/d) of natural gas.

Suncor has performed better than the sector over the last month and appears to be holding above $75. I would normally like to target the 200-day average in the $71 range but June's low of $68 is slightly below that average. That makes $60-65 a more likely target as a retest of that June low.


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DO - Diamond Offshore

Diamond Offshore Drilling Inc. (Diamond Offshore) provides contract drilling services to the energy industry worldwide and is also engaged in deepwater drilling with a fleet of 44 offshore drilling rigs. The Company's fleet consists of 30 semisubmersibles, 13 jack-ups and one drillship. The Company's offers a range of services worldwide in various markets, including the deep water, harsh environment, conventional semisubmersible and jack-up markets. The Company provides offshore drilling services to a customer base that includes private and independent oil and gas companies and government-owned oil companies.

Diamond Offshore appears to have fallen out of favor with investors and has been on a steady decline since hitting $86 in early July. It has decent support in the $55-$60 range but we need to see a rebound appear before taking a position.

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SLB - Schlumberger

Schlumberger Limited (Schlumberger) is an oilfield services company, supplying technology, project management and information solutions. Schlumberger consists of two business segments: Schlumberger Oilfield Services and WesternGeco. Schlumberger Oilfield Services is an oilfield services company supplying a range of technology services and solutions to the international oil and gas industry. WesternGeco, 70% owned by Schlumberger and 30% owned by Baker Hughes, is an advanced surface seismic company.

SLB has decent support at $55 and again at $50. SLB said business was booming in its July earnings release and yet it still sold off. I would initially target $55 but would want to see some buyers appear before making an entry.

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WLT - Walter Industries

Walter Industries, Inc. (Walter) is a diversified company with seven operating segments: Mueller, Anvil, Industrial Products, Natural Resources, Homebuilding, Financing and Other. The Company's seven segments are further grouped into Water Products, Natural Resources, Homebuilding and Financing, and Other. The Water Products group, which consists of Mueller, Anvil and Industrial Products segments, manufactures water infrastructure and flow control products. The Natural Resources segment consists of coal mining and methane gas operations. Walter markets and supervises the construction of detached, single-family residential homes, primarily in the southern United States, through the Homebuilding segment. The Financing segment provides mortgage financing on such homes and purchases mortgages originated by others. The Other segment includes the manufacturing of foundry and furnace coke, slag fiber and specialty chemicals, as well as the Company's land division.

We are looking at Walter primarily for its coal and gas operations but water products is also doing well. Dragging WLT lower was the BTU warning and worries over its housing division. Strong support is $40 but like the others we want to see some buyers appear before we make an entry.

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PBR - Petroleo Brasileiro

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 and distribution. The Company operates 95 platforms for production (72 fixed and 23 floating), 16 refineries, 30.318 kilometers of pipeline and 6,154 filling stations spread across the national territory. In addition, to its position in Brazil, Petrobras is present in 15 countries, such as Angola, Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, the United States, Iran, Mexico, Nigeria, Paraguay, Peru, Tanzania, Uruguay and Venezuela. It also operates backup support of offices in New York, Tokyo, China and Singapore.

Petrobras has decent support at $85 and again at $80. I would like to see $80 again but we will monitor any drop for a hint of rebound. Try not to catch the knife.


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

SUN - Sunoco

Sunoco, Inc. (Sunoco), operates through its subsidiaries, as a petroleum refiner and marketer, and chemicals manufacturer with interests in logistics and cokemaking. The Company's petroleum refining and marketing operations include the manufacturing and marketing of a range of petroleum products, including fuels, lubricants and petrochemicals. Sunoco's chemical operations include the manufacturing, distribution and marketing of commodity and intermediate petrochemicals. The petroleum refining and marketing, and chemicals and logistics operations are conducted principally in the eastern half of the United States. Sunoco's cokemaking operations are conducted in Virginia, Indiana and Ohio. The Company operates in five business segments: Refining and Supply, Retail Marketing, Chemicals, Logistics and Coke.

SUN dipped to $63 last week before spiking back to more than $70 on acquisition news. Earnings are August 3rd. I would like to see them back at $60-$62 again but earnings will probably thwart that outlook.


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

FTO - Frontier Oil

Frontier Oil Corporation (Frontier) is an independent energy company engaged in crude oil refining and wholesale marketing of refined petroleum products. The Company operates refineries (the Refineries) located in Cheyenne, Wyoming, and El Dorado, Kansas, with a total annual average crude oil capacity of 162,000 barrels per day (bpd). Both of the Refineries are complex refineries, capable of processing heavier, less expensive types of crude oil, while producing gasoline, diesel fuel and other high-margin refined products. Frontier purchases crude oil to be refined and markets refined petroleum products, including various grades of gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, asphalt and other by-products. The Company focuses its marketing efforts in the Rocky Mountain region, which includes the states of Colorado, Wyoming, Montana and Utah, and in the Plains States region, which includes the states of Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, North Dakota and South Dakota.

FTO has support at $30 and that would be my initial target with risk to $25.

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HOC - Holly Corp

Holly Corporation is an independent petroleum refiner, which produces value light products, such as gasoline, diesel fuel and jet fuel. The Company owned and operated three refineries consisting of a petroleum refinery in Artesia, New Mexico that is operated in conjunction with crude oil distillation and vacuum distillation and other facilities (Navajo Refinery), refineries in Woods Cross, Utah (Wood Cross Refinery) and Great Falls, Montana (Montana Refinery). Holly Corporation has partnership interests in Holly Energy Partners, L.P., which acquires, owns and operates all of the refined product pipeline and terminally assets that support its refining and marketing operations in west Texas, New Mexico, Utah and Arizona, and a 70% interest in Rio Grande Pipeline Company. The Company deconsolidated HEP effective July 1, 2005. On March 2, 2006, the Company has entered into a definitive agreement with Connacher Oil and Gas Limited for the sale of the Montana Refinery.

Holly has support at $46 and I would take an entry there with risk to $40. However, we will wait for the next dip in oil prices to see if we might do better.

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PXP - Plains Exploration

Plains Exploration & Production Company (PXP) is an independent oil and gas company primarily engaged in the activities of acquiring, developing, exploiting, exploring and producing oil and gas properties in the United States. The Company owns oil and gas properties in six states with principal operations: the Los Angeles (LA) and San Joaquin Basins onshore California; the Santa Maria Basin offshore California; the Gulf Coast Basin onshore and offshore Louisiana, including the Gulf of Mexico, and the Val Verde portion of the greater Permian Basin in Texas. In April 2005, PXP acquired California producing oil and gas properties from a private company. In September 2005, the Company acquired Point Arguello Unit, Rocky Point development project and related facilities, offshore California, from subsidiaries of Chevron U.S.A. Inc. In May 2005, the Company closed the sale to XTO Energy, Inc. of interests in producing properties located in East Texas and Oklahoma.
 


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