Table of Contents
Leaps Trader Commentary
Crude oil inventory levels fell -7.6 million barrels last week and distillates fell -2.1 million barrels. Gasoline rose +3 million barrels. The price reaction to the news was delayed but eventually rose to the high for the week at Friday's close. We knew oil inventories were going to fall because the Houston ship channel had been fogged in for most of the week. No ships equals no imports. This will probably be corrected next week when all those ships backed up in the Gulf manage to get in and unload their cargo.
Catching up on the shipping backlog is only a temporary fix. In just the last three weeks inventories have fallen -17.8 million barrels and -57.1 mb since the highs last summer. Oil inventories are now 8.8% lower than their year ago levels and at the lowest level since early 2005. The four-week moving average of imports has fallen from 10.6 mbpd in May to 9.7 mbpd. This drop has continued even after OPEC supposedly raised exports on Nov-1st. OPEC ministers are already talking about raising production quotas again when they meet in February.
The biggest boost to prices came with the Personal Income and Spending data out on Friday. Spending rose 1.1% for the biggest increase since July-2005. Fears of a consumer recession immediately dissipated. Consumers apparently are getting used to $3 gasoline and demand, even though lower than in the same period in 2006 is still strong. Once past the holiday season prices are expected to rise again. This is a vicious cycle of price hikes then a plateau while consumers recover from sticker shock and become accustomed to the higher levels then the next price hike appears. I believe we will see $4 gas in 2008 and $5 gas in 2009. Would that change your driving habits?
Brian Hicks, manager of the Global Resources Fund just raised his forecast for average oil prices in 2008 to $85, up from $70 in 2007. Goldman Sachs just raised their estimates for all of 2008 to $95 from $85 and expects demand in the second half of 2008 to accelerate faster than OPEC supplies will increase. Even the EIA is getting with the current view and just raised their estimates to $84.93 for 2008. That is up from $80 just a month ago. All of these firms believe we will see peak prices over $100 in 2008. The consensus for a peak is somewhere in the $120 range, higher if we have a bad hurricane season or a geopolitical event. Eric Bolling, a major energy trader at the Nymex said conditions that led to a record-breaking year will likely persist over the next 12 months at least. A weak dollar, strong global economy and China growing at 13%. It is the perfect storm for crude demand. Eric sees prices hitting $120 or even $130 on any specific event. He thinks $4 gasoline by summer driving season is very possible. Stephen Leeb of Leeb Capital Management also expects oil over $100 saying, "OPEC did not hike at the December meeting because they don't have much more capacity to sell. OPEC has become accustomed to high prices and they will not let prices fall even if they had additional production to sell.
The IEA just raised their estimates for demand growth in 2008 to an increase of 2.1 mbpd. This upward revision was based on the increased need for petrochemical feedstocks in the Middle East and Asia. It also INCLUDES the possibility of recession problems in the U.S. and over OECD countries. If no recession appears the demand would be even higher. The OPEC economists are more bearish due to predictions of harsher economic problems in North America. They are only expecting an increase in global demand of 1.3 mbpd. It should be noted that these are "politically correct" forecasts reflecting the goals and biases of those organizations.
The IEA said global oil production increased in November by 55,000 bpd to 86.5 mbpd because of increased production in Mexico, China and Brazil. The agency also said OPEC production fell by 180,000 bpd. Remember, OPEC was supposed to raise production in November by 500,000 bpd. Platts disagreed with the IEA decline case saying that OPEC managed to hold production level with October while showing only a slight increase and nowhere near the 500 Kbpd expected. We already know that the UAE suffered a drop of 400,000 bpd due to maintenance problems. That was only temporary and they are back online now. The IEA said OECD inventories fell by 22.5 million barrels in October.
With the UAE back online and a surprising increase in production from Iraq we should have enough oil temporarily without an OPEC increase in February. The improving security situation in Iraq has led to an increase of 400,000 bpd in production. Iraq, with no OPEC quota is now producing nearly 2.5 mbpd according to Baghdad officials. Of that production they are exporting around 2 mbpd. If there was suddenly a unified peace in Iraq they could easily increase production to 5 mbpd within 5-7 years. They have the reserves but not the atmosphere to encourage outside firms to come in and drill the wells and build infrastructure.
Syria has gone from exporter and is now a net importer of oil. Unfortunately like many other countries it subsidizes the public consumption of fuel and is now paying a huge sum to keep fuel products cheap. Syria, like others caught in the same trap, is afraid that removing the subsidies will fuel inflation and spark discontent among people used to cheap oil products. China, Iran, Iraq and many others all face the same problem. As oil prices continue to rise these countries are going to be forced to raise prices and face the internal upheaval it will cause.
The airline industry cut its profit forecasts for 2008 by a third due to soaring prices for jet fuel. At least they will be able to get it in 2008. Wait until 2011 and fuel will be rationed to those flying the most needed routes.
Oil tanker rates have quadrupled over the last month as demand for safer tankers rose after the South Korea tanker collision. Exxon is still fighting to have the $5 billion fine reversed from the Exxon Valdez spill 18 years ago. Nobody wants that kind of exposure today.
Saudi Arabia is spending $600 billion to diversify their economy with many projects underway. Those projects include building aluminum, chemical and plastics plants and those will consume large quantities of oil. How much Saudi exports will drop once this building binge is over remains to be seen but analysts expect it to be a large amount. Lehman expects new oil demand in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE and Qatar will increase by more than 200,000 bpd in 2008. That means either a drop in exports or significant new production that will never leave home.
The Mexican Oil Ministry said oil exports would decline to around 289,000 by 2016, from their 1.7 mbpd today, if there was not a significant increase in funds for exploration. The Ministry said Mexico had insufficient funds to invest in exploration and production. Mexico relies on oil exports for 40% of its budget. Falling production has crimped that budget and the country has to decide if they are going to cut social programs and explore for oil or continue to siphon off more funds as supplies dwindle.
Greenspan may be seeing the light. In a speech last week regarding the rise in energy costs part of his explanation was "the global oil supply is peaking lower and sooner than had been contemplated earlier." Maybe he was paying attention to the real world.
Another person finally seeing the light was Rodney Andrews, Executive Director of Kentucky's Center for Applied Energy Research. While addressing Kentucky lawmakers last week he said, "What we need to realize is whether peak oil production is here or is comingisn't really the question. The problem is that our share of what's available is going to continue to decrease because the rest of the world is demanding more and is willing to pay more for it or at least more than we ever have."
For the end of year renewal effort I have written a 100-page update to my ongoing peak oil view. In addition to that effort we located a professionally produced video explaining the peak oil problem and we are giving that away free with a renewal. I strongly recommend you get this video and pass it around to all your friends. View trailer here: http://tinyurl.com/yryu6s
January Natural Gas Futures Chart - Daily
January Gasoline Futures Chart - RBOB Daily
Changes in Portfolio
Portfolio Listing & Top Picks
If you are looking to add another position this is my top ten list for this week. The target prices listed would be the ideal entry points for these stocks today. There is no assurance any stock will ever return to these support levels and you will need to make your own decision about an entry point above these levels. I believe these stocks have the best potential this week. The list will change from week to week based on technicals, fundamentals, crude prices and market action. The list is not sorted in any particular order.
I booted Core Labs and Shaw Group and added Fluor and Transocean.
The yellow means they are very close to those entry levels and green means they are at the target level.
Most Recent Plays
BHI $82.20 - Baker Hughes
A continuation of last week's dip triggered the breakdown entry at $80 on no news. There is no reason for BHI to be falling other than the drop in natural gas drilling in Canada. The tax change has taken many potential well sites off the market. That is now old news and $20 ago in price when BHI was $100. The current support at $80 should be reasonably strong.
Baker Hughes Incorporated supplies products and technology services, and systems to the oil and natural gas industries worldwide. It operates in two segments, Drilling and Evaluation and Completion and Production. The Drilling and Evaluation segment provides products and services used to drill and evaluate oil and natural gas wells. Its products include drilling fluids, completion fluids, drill bits, and fixed-cutter polycrystalline diamond compact bits. This segment also offers fluids environmental services; drilling and evaluation services, which include directional drilling, measurement-while-drilling, and logging-while-drilling services; and formation evaluation and wireline completion, and production services. The Completion and Production segment provides wellbore construction, cased-hole completions, sand control and wellbore intervention solutions, as well as offers oilfield chemical programs for drilling, well stimulation, production, pipeline transportation, and maintenance programs. The segment also provides electrical submersible pump systems and progressing cavity pump systems. In addition, the company offers permanent monitoring systems and chemical automation systems. Baker Hughes offers its products primarily through its sales organizations, as well as through supply stores, independent distributors, agents, licensees, or sales representatives. The company was founded in 1972 and is headquartered in Houston, Texas.
Breakdown target: $80 Hit 12/17
Position: 2009 $90 LEAP Call VBH-AR @ $8.40
DNR $28.76 - Denbury Resources
Denbury Resources split 2:1 on Monday and dropped to $26.34 by day's end. The pre-split breakdown entry trigger was $53 or $26.50 post-split. The Monday afternoon dip triggered that entry. The post split option (no LEAPS) is the June $30 call option DNR-FF. I let this split slip up on me but the outcome was the same. We got an excellent entry and the stock is already up nearly 10% from that level.
Denbury Resources, Inc. engages in the acquisition, development, operation, and exploration of oil and natural gas properties in the Gulf Coast region of the United States, primarily in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Texas. It holds interests in the Barnett Shale area in north central Texas; land and marshes of south Louisiana; and carbon dioxide reserves in the east of the Mississippi river. As of December 31, 2006, the company had 721 gross oil producing wells and 402 gross natural gas producing wells; and approximately 126,185 MBbls of proved oil reserves and 288,826 MMcf of proved natural gas reserves. Denbury Resources was founded in 1951 and is headquartered in Plano, Texas.
Breakdown trigger: $53, post split $26.50 hit 12/17
Position: June $30 Call DNR-FF @ $2.25
CSR $22.16 - China Security & Surveillance Technology
This company got a lot of buzz when it came public but faded fast. That fade is rapidly disappearing and a break over $24 could be the beginning of a strong run. The correction in the Asian markets should end with the end of 2007. Once into 2008 we should see another rocket ride higher on Chinese stocks.
China Security & Surveillance Technology, Inc. (CSST), formerly known as Apex Wealth Enterprises Limited, is a holding company that owns two direct subsidiaries, China Safetech Holdings Limited and China Security & Surveillance Technology (PRC) Ltd. The Companys primary business operations are conducted through its indirect subsidiaries Golden Group Corporation (Shenzhen) Limited (Golden) and Shanghai Cheng Feng Digital Technology Co. Ltd. (Cheng Feng). Goldens business is focused on manufacturing, distributing, installing and maintaining security and surveillance systems in China. Cheng Fengs business is focused on the manufacturing, marketing and sales of security and surveillance related hardware, as well as the development and integration of software. CSST generates revenues primarily through the installation of security and surveillance systems, and sales of security and surveillance products.
Breakdown trigger: $21.00 hit 12/20
Position: Jun-08 $25.00 Call CSR-FE @ $3.00 (no leaps)
VLO $70.72 +4.07 - Valero Energy
Nice breakout by Valero over the last week. I had emailed investor relations at Valero about the exact processing capability for different kinds of crude. I received a nice email from Andrew Ray, Senior Manager of Investor Relations, stating that, "Valero sources feedstocks from around the world. In general terms, we run about 1/3 heavy sour crudes, 1/3 medium/light sour crudes and 1/3 light sweet crudes." This gives them the capability of having crude supply regardless of what is impacting a particular type or supply. My thanks to Mr. Ray for helping out with our understanding of Valero's position in the industry.
Position: $70 LEAP Call VHB-AN @ $9.20
FLR $144.80 +.95 - Fluor Corp
Fluor rallied on news they completed negotiations on a $1.4 billion improvement to the Virginia highway system. They will engineer and construct 13 miles of toll way and operate it for the next 80 years with a 10% ownership interest. This is why I like these engineering and construction firms. They have exposure to the oil and gas industry but also to other sectors that provides us with downside protection if the energy sector takes a breather. Technically FLR made a nice bounce off support at $135 on Tuesday and rebounded +$10 to close the week.
Breakdown trigger: $145 Hit 12/13
Position: 2009 $160 LEAP Call XOB-AL @ $22.30
RIG $143.92 +7.92 - Transocean Inc
Transocean exploded +7 points on Friday alone as shorts raced to cover. Cramer was pounding the table on RIG early in the week and pointing out that the majority of Transocean's rigs were contracted through 2010 with a bunch already contracted through 2012. Those contracts expiring are being resold at higher prices. Now that Nov bought Grant Prideco (GRP) the number of competitors just decreased by one. Friday's close was an all time high. I am canceling the secondary trigger at $120 as no chance in hell of being hit.
Breakdown trigger: Hit 12/4 @ $130
Position: 2009 $140 LEAP Call VOI-AH @ $15.80
JEC $96.33 +1.02 Jacobs Engineering Group
Still holding the high ground and only a couple bucks from a new high. Jacobs should benefit from markup week since a lot of funds own it and they want to look like wizards when their year-end statements are printed. Expect JEC to find some buying interest before the year is out.
Breakdown target: $80.00 Hit 11/12
Position: APR 2008 $90 Call JEC-DR @ $6.50
COP $86.71 +3.42 Conoco Phillips *** Stop Loss $74.00 ***
Moving up to 10-week highs on no news. Warren Buffett must be buying again.
Breakdown target: $80 hit 11/12
Position: 2009 $90 LEAP Call OJP-AR @ $8.60
CNQ $70.89 +2.51 Canadian Natural Resources
No news but another 4-week high. No complaints.
Entry 11/29: $66
Position 11/29: 2009 $90 LEAP Call OKR-AR @ $6.50
CLB $123.05 -.27 Core Labs
CLB holding over support on no news. CLB appears to have found a bottom from its recent slide and hopefully that $116 level will be a base to launch a new rally in January.
Breakdown Trigger: $130 11/12
Position: 2009 $140 LEAP Call ZYM-AH @ $21.30
FTI $56.13 -1.61 FMC Technologies *** Closed ***
FMC is still holding over support at $54 but the momentum is just not returning. I am kicking it out to concentrate on our better positions.
Breakdown Trigger: $57 hit 11/12
Position: APR $65 Call FTI-DM @ $4.75, exit $2.45, -2.30
PBR $113.20 +5.87 Petrobras *** Stop Loss $92 ***
Outstanding recovery from the Monday market driven low at $100. This is only about $5 from a new high. PBR is getting a lot of positive press from major analysts. Citigroup upgraded them to a buy from hold on Thursday. Petrobras said it was in talks to buy the 50% of Astra Holding's refinery interests in Pasadena Texas that it did not already own. Petrobras currently has 130,000 bpd of refining capacity outside Brazil and it targeting 400,000 bpd by 2012. Petrobras plans to upgrade the Texas refinery to process the heavy crude Petrobras has in excess. Petrobras also bought last month a refinery in southern Japan from Exxon. It is still looking to boost capacity in Europe and the United States. This is a wise move on the part of Petrobras because it provides them a guaranteed outlet for their oil.
LEAPs Alert Entry 11/12 @ $95
Position: 2009 $90 LEAP Call VDW-AR @ $17.10
Position: 2009 $110 LEAP Call XVQ-AB @ $10.00
Alert on 11/2 recommending an immediate entry into the $110 LEAP. The prior recommendation had been calling for an entry into the $90 LEAP on a dip to $80. The correct LEAP for the current position is the $110 LEAP.
SGR $59.55 -.26 Shaw Group *** Stop Loss $55 ***
Support at $58 failed to hold and Shaw fell all the way to $52 on Tuesday and triggered our stop at $55. I would still be a buyer of this stock and if you were lucky enough not to have your stop set I would continue to hold it with a new stop at $55. The selling was way overdone and due to some insiders selling stock. I suspect there was also some tax selling in progress.
LEAPs Alert Entry 11/12 @ $61
Position: 2010 $70 LEAP Call YCW-AN @ $20.40 exit $14.20 12/18
FWLT $165.15 +5.35 - Foster Wheeler
Closing in on the highs again with a Friday sprint to $165. There was no news.
The board approved a 2:1 split subject to shareholder approval around January 8th.
Breakdown trigger: $135 hit 11/06
Position: 2009 $150 LEAP Call ZHF-AW @ $29.10
PTR $179.40 -2.41 - PetroChina *** Stop Loss $170 ***
Please tell me the drop in PTR is over! After losing $30 in a little more than 8-days it appears a bottom has formed at $175. We came very close to being stopped at $170 on Thursday with a dip to $170.73. Friday saw a rebound to nearly $180. Hopefully that +$10 is a start towards the New Year. These stocks could see some end of year selling and I believe that, along with the Asian correction, is what has caused the pain.
Breakdown trigger $194.32 Entered on rebound from $190 on 11/08
Position: 2009 $220 LEAP Call ZJK-AZ @ $32.20
XOM - $93.43 +2.25 Exxon Mobil
I am amazed by the resilience of Exxon. With no specific news it rambled to a new 6-week high on Friday. This company has 6-billion shares outstanding but it is still moving higher. This proves to me that funds are looking for a safe haven with high liquidity and XOM definitely fills that bill.
Breakdown trigger: $88 Hit 11/01
Position: 2009 $100 LEAP Call ODU-AT @ $7.90
CAM - $95.00 -.71 Cameron International *** Stop Loss $88 ***
Stock split next Friday and CAM is holding above support. In fact we just saw another perfect example of a support hold at the 100-day average. I dropped the stop price to $88 ahead of the split.
2:1 Stock split 12/28 to holders of record on 12/17
Breakdown target: $95 Hit 10/30
Position: 2009 $100 LEAP Call OKA-AT @ $18
SLB $94.64 +.07 - Schlumberger *** Stop Loss $87 ***
No specific news but +$5 rebound off the Monday lows. Support at $90 is still holding.
Breakdown target: $95.00 hit Oct-22nd
Position: 2009 $100 LEAP Call VWY-AT @ $15.60
CVX $94.04 +2.02 - Chevron
No specific news but Chevron broke out to a new 3-month high and is only $2 below an all time high. Somebody thinks oil is going higher.
Breakdown trigger: $87 hit Oct-22nd
Position: 2009 $100 LEAP Call VCH-AT @ $6.40
OII $68.47 -.95 Oceaneering International *** Closed ***
We had a nice +9 rally and then it gave it all back. The former strength in OII has failed. I am taking my hit now and making room for somebody with momentum. No news or reason for the drop.
Earnings Nov-1st: +40%
Breakdown trigger: $72 hit on Oct-22nd
Position: APR $80 Call OII-DP @ $5.40, exit $3.70
NOV $72.78 -4.59 - National Oilwell Varco
Monday was a real shock. NOV announced it was buying Grant Prideco (GRP) for $7.5 million. The analysts loved it but like in any acquisition the buyer gets hammered. That $10 drop lasted four days and Friday saw a +3 rebound to $73. NOV said the acquisition would be accretive immediately and the deal should close in Q2. I did see one note that NOV came in dead last in customer satisfaction while GRP came in at or near the top in nearly every category. That suggests NOV is going to get better not worse. The analyst said Smith International (SII) could benefit from the satisfaction play since they are a competitor in drill pipes and bits.
Breakout Trigger: $80, hit 10/11/07
Position: 2008 May $90 Call NON-ER @ $7.20
MDR - $59.38 +1.84 McDermott Intl *** Stop Loss $45 ***
No news for McDermott but it continues to hold at resistance at $60. A move higher here could trigger additional buying.
Earnings: Nov 8th, +37%
Breakout trigger: $53, hit 9/20
Position: 2009 $60 LEAP Call OYZ-AL @ $9.00
UPL $68.63 -.81 - Ultra Petroleum *** Closed ***
I like UPL for many reasons but none of them are moving the stock. With gas levels in storage are 9% to 11% over the 5-year average the price on natural gas is at risk. The long range weather forecast called for a warmer than normal winter and we are burning winter days off the calendar at a rapid clip. We have a 100% gain in UPL and I want to take it rather than wait for disaster.
Breakdown target: $52.50 Hit 8/30
CHK $39.09 +.88 Chesapeake Energy
CHK is the opposite of UPL. CHK is actively trying to buy new acreage and drill new wells in new plays. The CEO is buying stock in the open market almost every week while the directors of UPL are selling. CHK is not setting the world on fire in terms of stock price but there is enough activity under the hood that it could move progressively higher even in the face of weak gas prices.
Earnings: Nov 7th -34%, beat by 3 cents.
Position: 2010 $35 LEAP Call WZY-AG @ $6.60
HP $39.01 +2.65 Helmerich & Payne *** Stop Loss $29.50 ***
HP closed at a new all time high on Friday. The article below has really
energized the stock. This article is about companies using HP rigs to drill 20
wells per pad to cut down on costs.
Position: Jan 2009 $35 LEAP Call ZQA-AG @ $4.50
BHP - $70.69 -.38 BHP Billiton ** Stop Loss $65.00 **
Would somebody please shoot that deal talk in the head and lets get on with business. On the positive side BHP/BP announced that production in the Atlantis field in the Gulf had been increased and additional wells will continue to be brought onstream over the nest 6-12 months. It is expected to reach peak capacity during that period. Peak is expected to be 200,000 bpd of oil and 180 million cubic feet of gas per day. BP owns 56% and BHP 44%. Water depths in the field range from 4,400 ft to 7,100 ft. BHP has overcome many technical challenges associated with Atlantis being the deepest moored oil and gas facility in the world. BHP's cost to get to production start is estimated at $1.63 billion.
Breakdown target: $55 hit 8/15/07
Position: 2010 $70 LEAP Call LPH-AN @ $9.00
RIMM $118.63 +12.65 Research in Motion *** Covered Call ***
Blowout sales of 3.9 million Blackberry phones and a 100% increase in earnings. I seriously doubt we will see $100 again.
Alert entry 11/12 @ $102.60
Covered LEAP Call:
LONG RIMM @ $102.60
LVS - $108.00 -9.70 Las Vegas Sands *** Closed ***
Competition in Macau from the new MGM casino and protestors demanding democracy have colored the Sands a dark shade of red in the -$12 loss over the last 7 days. I never expected to be forced to close a covered call play with this kind of metric but this shows how things change.
Covered LEAP Call
LONG: 100 Shares LVS @ $117, exit $107.69, -9.31
ETFC $3.60 -0.27 E*Trade Financial *** Covered Call ***
Etrade said customer cash balances rose 14% in November to $33 billion. Etrade made the announcement as they were touting their "win-back" plan to get customers to come back to Etrade.
LONG: ETFC @ $4.13
Profit if called: Premium 1.45 + appreciation .87 = $2.32
Leaps Trader Watch List
Current Watch List
MTW - Manitowoc
MTW continues to raise estimates saying its crane division could see 20% growth in 2008. Nice rally already so we want to buy on a pullback.
The Manitowoc Company, Inc. is a diversified industrial manufacturer in three principal markets: Cranes and Related Products, Foodservice Equipment and Marine. The Crane business designs, manufactures and markets a line of crawler cranes, mobile telescopic cranes, tower cranes and boom trucks. Foodservice business is a manufacturer of cold side commercial foodservice products. It designs, manufactures and markets product lines of ice making machines, walk-in and reach-in refrigerators and freezers, fountain beverage delivery systems and other foodservice refrigeration products. Marine segment provides new construction, shiprepair and maintenance services for freshwater and saltwater vessels from four shipyards. On January 3, 2006, The Manitowoc Company, Inc. acquired ExacTech, Inc. On May 26, 2006, it acquired McCanns Engineering & Mfg. Co. and McCanns de Mexico, S.A. de C.V. In July 2007, it acquired Shirke Construction Equipments Pvt. Ltd.
Breakdown trigger: $44
Buy 2009 $50 LEAP Call VMT-AJ
MOS - Mosiac Co
Strong rally and I am hoping we see some tax selling once 2008 arrives. Not an energy company but a fertilizer company that could reap a major boost in profits from the new Energy bill and the rise in ethanol production.
The Mosaic Company (Mosaic) is a producer of phosphate and potash combined, as well as nitrogen and animal feed ingredients. The Company operates its business through four business segments: phosphates, potash, offshore and nitrogen. The Phosphates segment operates mines and concentrates plants in Florida that produce phosphate fertilizer and feed phosphate, and concentrates plants in Louisiana that produce phosphate fertilizer. The Potash segment mines ad processes potash in Canada and the United States and sells potash in North America and internationally. The Offshore segment produces and markets fertilizer products and provides other ancillary services to wholesalers, cooperatives, independent retailers, and farmers in South America and the Asia-Pacific regions. The Nitrogen segment consists of its equity investment in Saskferco and Mosaics nitrogen sales and distribution activities.
Breakdown trigger: $75
Buy 2010 $90 LEAP Call LXW-AR
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