Option Investor
Newsletter

Daily Newsletter, Sunday, 5/31/2015

Table of Contents

  1. Leaps Trader Commentary
  2. Portfolio
  3. New Plays
  4. Play Updates
  5. Watch

Leaps Trader Commentary

The Greek Story Heats Up

by James Brown

Click here to email James Brown

Stocks ended the holiday-shortened week on a sour note. Worries about the Greece situation are rising as the country is quickly running out of time to work out a deal with its creditors. Early last week Greece warned they could miss their next debt payment. That was just one factor in Tuesday's sharp decline. Believe it or not but better than expected economic data in the U.S. on Tuesday also contributed to the market's sell-off. Investors were interpreting stronger economic numbers as potential fuel for the Fed to raise rates. It looks like Tuesday's outbreak of improving economics was quickly washed away by disappointing economic results the rest of the week.

All of the major U.S. indices posted losses for the week. Nearly all of the industry groups posted declines as well. One exception was the semiconductor industry. The SOX index rallied +3.5% thanks to M&A news and speculation. Avago (AVGO) announced a $37 billion deal to buy Broadcom (BRCM). There are also rumors that Intel (INTC) might buy Altera (ALTR) for $15 billion. Theses headlines boosted semiconductor stocks.

Crude oil was another exception. A rally in the U.S. dollar last week pressured commodities lower. Somehow crude oil eked out a gain after a volatile week of trading. Oil had plunged to new six-week lows on news that Iraq's oil exports could surge +26% in June. Then suddenly oil reversed higher after the weekly Baker Hughes rig count showed another decline. The combined oil and gas count showed another 10 rigs were shutdown. We've fallen from 1,931 in late 2014 to 875 active rigs today.

Economic Data

U.S. new home sales rose +6.8% in April to an annual pace of 517,000. The March reading was revised higher from 481K to 484K. Plus the National Association of Realtors said their pending home sales index rose +3.4% in April to the highest level in nine years. This index is up +14% from a year ago. The Northeast region saw the biggest improvement with a +10% surge in contracts signed to buy an existing home.

Unfortunately the Chicago PMI has retreated back into contraction territory. Numbers below 50.0 suggest economic contraction and May's reading dropped from 52.3 to 46.2. Economists were expecting 53.0. This is the third time in the last four months that the Chicago PMI has been under 50.0. The most recent report showed the employment component falling to its lowest level since April 2013.

Another disappointment was the consumer sentiment numbers. The initial May reading on consumer sentiment was 88.6. The final sentiment reading had improved to 90.7 but that's still a drop of -5.2 points from April and a six-month low.

Speaking of lows, the Q1 GDP estimate on U.S. growth was revised down from +0.25% to -0.75%. It's the first time the GDP number has been negative since the first quarter of 2014 when GDP fell -2.1%. This is also the third time since the current economic expansion began back in June 2009 that the U.S. economy has contracted.

There are still plenty of analysts that expect the economy to bounce back in the second quarter and the average estimate is around +2.0% growth. That's significantly higher than the Atlanta Fed's current estimate of only +0.8% growth in the second quarter. If the Q2 number surprises to the downside we could actually be in a recession, which is technically two negative quarterly GDP readings in a row.

Overseas Economic Data

The United States is not the only country with a receding economy. Canada just reported its Q1 GDP plunged from +2.2% growth in the fourth quarter to -0.6% growth in the first quarter. It was the first negative reading since Q2 2011 and the worst drop since 2009.

Looking east toward Asia the country of Japan said their monthly household spending numbers plunged from +2.4% in March to -5.5% in April. Their industrial production numbers improved from -0.8% to +1.0% last month. Traders in Japan are ignoring some of the disappointing economics. The Japanese NIKKEI index is up 11 days in a row, which is the longest winning streak in 27 years.

The Chinese stock market is showing a lot more volatility. The Shanghai Composite is up +140% in the last twelve months. Months ago the rules changed that allowed more and more people to open up brokerage accounts. Money has been flooding into the Chinese market. Margin debt in the Chinese market hit a record two trillion yuan last week. Suddenly stocks reversed. On Thursday morning three brokerage firms raised their margin requirements and the Chinese Shanghai index plunged -6.5% in one session. The market lost another -4% on Friday before paring most of its losses for the session. Imagine how U.S. investors would feel if we saw the NASDAQ composite plunge -500 points to 4,500 in less than a day and a half.

Greece

Most of the news out of Europe last week was focused on Greece. There was a three-day G7 meeting for finance ministers in Germany. U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew was there. He warned that Europe is risking a global market "accident" if they let Greece default. Mr. Lew said, "There is great uncertainty in there at a time when the world needs greater stability and certainty."

Early last week Greece warned they may not be able to make their debt payments to the IMF in June. This weakened equity markets in both Europe and the U.S. However, by the end of the week, Greece's Economy Minister Giorgos Stathakis said they will make the next payment of 304 million euros on Friday, June 5th. Unfortunately there is no clarity on how the country will make the rest of its 1.5 billion euros worth of payments to the IMF due in June. They have a €300 million payment due on June 12th, a €558 million payment due on June 16th, and a €335 million payment due on June 19th. Plus, they owe another €6 to €7 billion (with a B) to the ECB in July and August.

Comments from International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde helped generate concern when she said it is possible for Greece to leave the Eurozone.

Derick Halpenny, an analyst at Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi, commented on the idea of Greece leaving the euro and said, "[it] would probably mark the beginning of the end of the single currency. In an instant the euro would change from an irreversible single currency to some form of exchange rate mechanism that countries can abandon. Once a template for departure is set, a cloud of uncertainty would persist for a very long time."

Analysts at Bank of America Merrill Lynch and at the Royal Bank of Scotland have expressed their opinions that if Greece misses a payment to the IMF it does not automatically mean a technical default or an immediate exit from the euro. Greece would probably have a grace period (I have heard a one month and a two month grace period) to catch up on their debt payment. They would likely need to implement capital controls to stop depositors from pulling money out of Greek banks and crashing the system.

They may be too late on that last point. Private citizens have been pulling money out of Greek banks for months. They only reason they're still open (the banks) is due to help from the ECB. Deposits have fallen about 100 billion euros.

Bloomberg Chart of Greek bank deposits





Major Indices:

The S&P 500 index snapped a three-week winning streak with last week's -0.88% decline. Year to date the index is up +2.3%. It's also back below prior resistance at the 2,120 level.

If the 2,100 mark and its 50-dma fail to hold up as support then we can look for a drop toward likely short-term support at 2,080. Below that the 200-dma near 2,040 should offer some support.

Five-Day chart of the S&P 500 index:

chart of the S&P 500 index:

Wednesday's rally in the NASDAQ composite set a new 15-year closing high above the 5,100 level. Too bad it could hold these gains. The NASDAQ ended the week down -0.38%. This puts the year to date gain at +7.0%.

The 5,100 area is round-number resistance. If this index does manage to rally we can look for additional resistance near 5,150 and 5,200. On the other hand, if the market retreats, then 5,000 and the 4,900 levels are potential support.

chart of the NASDAQ Composite index:

The small cap Russell 2000 index also broke a three-week winning streak with last week's decline. The index lost -0.45% but it looks like it's trying to hold support near 1,240. Obviously this level didn't hold on last Tuesday's spike lower. There is clearly a trend of lower highs. Bears could argue that May's failure near 1,260 is a new lower high.

I wouldn't be too quick to call a top in the $RUT. The big drop in the last week of April did do some technical damage but the trend on the $RUT isn't completely broken.

The next couple of weeks could determine its direction. The 1,260-1,280 zone is overhead resistance while the 1,200-1,220 region should offer support.

chart of the Russell 2000 index



Economic Data & Event Calendar

It is the first week of a new month and that means lots of economic data both here in the U.S. and abroad.

Big reports overseas include the Eurozone PMI data, the ECB's interest rate decision and the ECB President's press conference. Late in the week will bring the Eurozone GDP estimate and an OPEC meeting.

Here at home investors will be focused on the labor market. The ADP report comes out on Wednesday and economists are expecting an improvement from April's +169,000 private sector jobs to rise to +192,000 in May. Current estimates on the government's nonfarm payroll number are around +220,000 new jobs.

- Monday, June 1 -
Personal Income & Spending
ISM index
Eurozone PMI data

- Tuesday, June 2 -
Factory Orders
Car and truck sales

- Wednesday, June 3 -
ADP Employment Change Report
ISM Services index
Federal Reserve Beige Book report
ECB interest rate decision
ECB President Mario Draghi press conference
Eurozone services PMI
Eurozone retail sales

- Thursday, June 4 -
Bank of England interest rate decision

- Friday, June 5 -
OPEC meeting
Eurozone GDP estimate
Nonfarm Payrolls (jobs) report
Unemployment rate

Looking Ahead:

The month of June does not have the best record for stock market performance. If you were going to take a month off from active trading then this would be the month choose. June is the worst month of the year for the big cap indices. The first day of the month has an abnormally high history of being negative.

If you do a little digging you'd find that the Dow Jones Industrial Average has been down eight out of the last ten Junes. The NASDAQ composite is down seven out of the last ten with an average decline of -0.9%. The S&P 500 is down six out of the last ten with an average loss of -1.3%.

Looking at the big picture we see the U.S. economy and the Chinese economy are both slowing down. Japan and Europe's economies are growing very, very slowly but they are showing improvement after big declines last year. Of course Japan and Europe have both launched massive QE programs to try and stimulate their economies and drive their currencies lower to fuel exports. China is also trying to stimulate their economy. The U.S. is the only one that's actually looking to tighten monetary policy and raise interest rates.

The good news is that the Federal Reserve is aware that the global economy is impacting the U.S. Chairman Yellen recently said, "If foreign growth is weaker than anticipated, the consequences for the U.S. economy could lead the Fed to remove accommodation more slowly than otherwise." Translation: the fed will delay raising rates.

I suspect the next two or three weeks will be all about Greece. They claim they will make their debt payment on June 5th but what about the next week or the week after that? They need a deal or they will default by the end of summer and we could see them leave the Eurozone before the year is over. The good news is that the global banking system has had years to prepare for a potential Greek exit so it would be a lot less damaging today than a few years ago. However, a Grexit could still generate huge volatility in both the bond and equity markets.

~ James







Portfolio

Portfolio Update

by James Brown

Click here to email James Brown


Current Portfolio


Portfolio Comments:

The markets retreated last week. Rising worries over the situation in Greece are generating volatility. The U.S. had some better than expected economic data on Tuesday last week and that was interpreted negatively since it could be fuel for the Fed to raise rates.

The market looks poised to sink again this week.

The TM trade was closed on May 26th.

We want to exit our AMBA trade immediately on Monday, June 1st.

I have updated stop losses on GILD and SBUX.

Disclaimer: At any given time the author may have positions in any or all of any companies mentioned in the Leaps Newsletter.

--Position Summary Table--
Table lists Directional CALL or PUT/LEAPS only.
Insurance puts, if applicable, are not shown.

Red symbol/name represents a play or option position exited or closed this week.




New Plays

Focus On Greece Getting Sharper

by James Brown

Click here to email James Brown


- New Trades -


Editor's Note:

(May 31, 2015)

The S&P 500 index is only about 1.3% away from a new all-time high. The NASDAQ composite is less than 1% from a new 15-year high. Yet the tone on Wall Street is anything but bullish.

On a short-term basis the U.S. indices look like they could retreat this week. Yet bigger picture the trend is still higher.

The weakness this past week had a lot to do with questions over the future of Greece in the Eurozone. The focus on Greece will only get worse. They have very big debt payments to make every week in June. The size of their debt payments skyrocket in July and August. The next few weeks could be critical for Greece. The uncertainty generates a lot of volatility both in Europe and U.S. markets.

I am not adding any new trades tonight. I am adding DNKN and FEYE to the watch list. Both stocks have been outperforming and look poised to keep that trend alive.



Play Updates

AMBA Looks Overbought

by James Brown

Click here to email James Brown

Editor's Note:

The stock market's widespread decline last week was very apparent across our active candidates. Virtually all of our plays followed the market lower.

AMBA was an exception and shares look very short-term overbought. We want to exit our AMBA play on Monday morning before they report earnings on Tuesday.


Closed Plays


Our plan was to exit the TM trade on Tuesday morning (May 26th).



Play Updates


Apple Inc. - AAPL - close: 130.28

Comments:
05/31/15: AAPL lost about $2.25 for the week after two weeks of gains. I don't see anything about last week that should make us change our strategy. Although more conservative investors will definitely want to consider raising your stop loss.

I am not suggesting new positions in AAPL at this time.

Trade Description: November 2, 2014:
Love it or hate it AAPL always has Wall Street's attention. It has a cult-like following. The company's success has turned AAPL's stock into the biggest big cap in the U.S. markets with a current valuation of more than $633 billion.

The company is involved in multiple industries from hardware, software, and media but it's best known for its consumer electronics. The iPod helped perpetuate the digital music revolution. The iPhone, according to AAPL, is the best smartphone in the world. The iPad helped bring the tablet PC to the mass market. The company makes waves in every industry they touch with a very distinctive brand (iOS, iWork, iLife, iMessage, iCloud, iTunes, etc.) and they've done an amazing job at building an Apple-branded ecosystem. Now they're getting into the electronic payments business with Apple Pay.

The company's latest earnings report was super strong. AAPL reported its Q4 (calendar Q3) results on October 20th. Wall Street was expecting a profit of $1.31 a share on revenues of $39.84 billion. The company delivered a profit f $1.42 a share with revenues up +12.4% to $42.12 billion. The EPS number was a +20% improvement from a year ago. Gross margins were up +1% from a year ago to 38%. International sales were 60% of the company's revenues.

AAPL's iPhone sales exceeded estimates at 39.27 million in the quarter and up nearly 16% from a year ago. The only soft spot in their ecosystem seems to be iPad sales, which have declined several quarters in a row. The company hopes to rejuvenate its tablet sales with a refresh of the iPad models. More importantly AAPL management raised their Q1 (calendar Q4) guidance as they expect revenues in the $63.5-66.5 billion in the quarter. Recent news would suggest that AAPL might deliver an incredible 50 million iPhone 6s in 2014. That's not counting their new iPhone 6+.

The better than expected results and bullish guidance sent the stock to new highs. The rally has created a quadruple top breakout buy signal on its point & figure chart that is currently forecasting at $133 target. Yet we do not want to chase AAPL here. The stock is up $12 from its October low. We do want to be ready if shares see a pullback.

Tonight I am suggesting a buy-the-dip trigger to buy calls at $103.50 with a stop loss at $98.90. (We amended the buy-the-dip trigger to $111.00 on Nov. 30th).

- Suggested Positions -
DEC 09, 2014 - entry price on AAPL @ 110.19, option @ 9.55
symbol: AAPL160115C120 2016 JAN $120 call - current bid/ask $15.95/16.10

04/27/15 AAPL crushes earnings estimates (again)
04/12/15 new stop @ 118.00
03/01/15 Caution: AAPL could be poised for a pullback. Consider taking profits now and then re-enter this trade later.
02/22/15 new stop @ 114.00
02/15/15 new stop @ 109.50
12/09/14 triggered on gap down at $110.19, trigger was $111.00
11/30/14 raise the buy-the-dip entry trigger to $111.00
11/16/14 raise the buy-the-dip entry trigger to $108.00
Adjust the strike price to the 2016 Jan $120 call.
Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike

Current Target: To Be Determined
Current Stop loss: 118.00
Play Entered on: 12/09/14
Originally listed on the Watch List: 11/02/14


Adobe Systems - ADBE - close: 79.09

Comments:
05/31/15: ADBE has spent the last few days bouncing between $79.00 and $80.50. Shares ended on a down note with Friday's -1.1% decline. Odds are growing that we will see ADBE drop toward what should be support in the $77.00-77.50 area. We could wait for this dip and launch new positions there.

Trade Description: May 3, 2015:
ADBE is in the technology sector. According to the company's website, "Adobe is changing the world through digital experiences. Content built and optimized with Adobe products is everywhere you look — from websites, video games, and smartphones to televisions, tablets, and beyond. Adobe® Creative Cloud® software offers the most innovative tools for creating digital media, while Adobe Marketing Cloud delivers groundbreaking solutions for data-driven marketing. Our leadership in these two emerging categories, Digital Media and Digital Marketing, provides our customers with a real competitive advantage, positioning Adobe for continued growth well into the future. As one of the largest software companies in the world, Adobe achieved revenue of more than US$4 billion in 2013."

The company's most recent earnings report was March 17th. Results were $0.44 a share, which was five cents better than expected. Revenues were up +10.9% to $1.11 billion, also above expectations. The company continues to see success with their subscription model and added 517,000 new creative cloud subscriptions, a +28% improvement from a year ago.

Technically the stock is in a long-term up trend. Shares just spent the last few weeks consolidating sideways and looks ready for the next move higher. A rise past $78.00 would generate a new buy signal on the point & figure chart.

I am suggesting we wait for ADBE to close above $77.75 and then buy calls the next morning with a stop loss at $71.85. More conservative investors may want to wait for ADBE to close over short-term resistance at $80.00 as an alternative entry point for bullish positions.

- Suggested Positions -
MAY 15, 2015 - entry price on ADBE @ 80.00, option @ 4.60
symbol: ADBE160115C85 2016 JAN $85 call - current bid/ask $3.85/4.00

05/15/15 trade begins. ADBE opens at $80.00
05/14/15 triggered. ADBE closed @ $79.43, above our trigger of $77.75
Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike

Current Target: To Be Determined
Current Stop loss: 71.85
Play Entered on: 05/15/15
Originally listed on the Watch List: 05/03/15


Akamai Technology - AKAM - close: 76.27

Comments:
05/31/15: Uh-oh! I'm worried about our AKAM trade. The stock has been consolidating sideways the last several days. Yet Friday's drop is a new two-week low. I suspect shares could be headed toward the $73-74 area. Watch for the 50-dma or the March peak to offer some support.

I am not suggesting new positions at this time.

Earlier Comments: March 8, 2015:
If you surf the Internet then you're probably seeing content delivered by AKAM's technology. They help customers speed up online content and have a fast-growing security business.

The company is part of the technology sector. They provide cloud services for delivering content across the Internet. Customers include 47% of the Global 500 companies.

AKAM describes itself as "the global leader in Content Delivery Network (CDN) services, Akamai makes the Internet fast, reliable and secure for its customers. The company's advanced web performance, mobile performance, cloud security and media delivery solutions are revolutionizing how businesses optimize consumer, enterprise and entertainment experiences for any device, anywhere."

Last year was a strong one for earnings and revenue growth. AKAM beat Wall Street estimates on both the top and bottom line the past four quarters in a row. They raised guidance twice. AKAM's average revenue growth last year was +24.5%. Their most recent report was on February 10th where AKAM delivered a profit and revenue number above expectations. Several analyst firms raised their price target on AKAM following its Q4 results.

Management hosted an investor day in late February. They expect sales growth to be in the high teens for 2015. They forecasting sales to hit $5 billion by 2020 compared to about $2 billion in 2014. AKAM reported that their cyber security business is surging with +191% growth last year.

This week AKAM disclosed in their 10-K filing that they were conducting an internal probe into their sales practices in a foreign country. They didn't say which country. This is a potential risk if the U.S. government decides to do their own investigation but the stock didn't really react that much to the news.

It is worth noting that there has been some speculation that AKAM is a buyout target. One analyst suggested that Amazon.com (AMZN) could be a suitor.

After a big rally in February the upward momentum in AKAM has stalled. Shares look like they could see a correction lower. If that occurs then prior resistance near $65.00 should be significant support. We want to be ready to take advantage of the weakness.

Tonight I'm suggesting a buy-the-dip trigger to buy calls if AKAM dips to $65.25. We'll start this trade with a stop at $59.75.

- Suggested Positions -
MAR 25, 2015 - entry price on AKAM @ 71.50, option @ 4.15
symbol: AKAM160115C80 2016 JAN $80 call - current bid/ask $4.75/4.95

05/17/15 new stop @ 71.75
05/02/15 new stop @ 69.00
03/25/15 Triggered at $71.50
03/22/15 Strategy update: Move the buy-the-dip trigger to $71.50, move the stop loss to $67.90, adjust the option to the 2016 Jan. $80.00 call
Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike

Current Target: To Be Determined
Current Stop loss: 71.75
Play Entered on: 03/25/15
Originally listed on the Watch List: 03/08/15


Ambarella, Inc. - AMBA - close: 90.21

Comments:
05/31/15: AMBA was the big winner last week with a surge to new highs.

I am suggesting an immediate exit on Monday, June 1st. AMBA has earnings coming up on Tuesday, June 2nd, after the closing bell. The company has a history of beating earnings estimates. However, I'm concerned that after a $20.00 rally in the last three weeks (from $70 to $90) that it doesn't matter what AMBA reports the stock could be sold as traders take profits.

I am suggesting an immediate exit now to lock in potential gains. Obviously we risk losing out on any post-earnings rally if shares spike higher.

I'd rather exit now and we can put AMBA back on the watch for another entry point after it corrects lower.

- Suggested Positions -
MAY 18, 2015 - entry price on AMBA @ 79.86, option @ 7.40
symbol: AMBA160115C90 2016 JAN $90 call - current bid/ask $12.10/13.10

05/31/15 prepare to exit immediately
05/24/15 new stop @ 73.75
05/18/15 Trade begins. AMBA opens at $79.86
05/15/15 Triggered. AMBA closed at $79.86, above our trigger of $77.50
Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike

Current Target: To Be Determined
Current Stop loss: 73.75
Play Entered on: 05/18/15
Originally listed on the Watch List: 05/03/15


Anthem Inc. - ANTM - close: 167.85

Comments:
05/31/15: News that Humana (HUM) had put itself up for sale sparked a widespread rally among the healthcare insurance names. ANTM broke out from its recent trading range and surged to new highs.

More conservative investors may want to raise their stop loss. I am not suggesting new positions at this time.

Trade Description: May 10, 2015:
The Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare) was first feared by healthcare companies. Now they have embraced it. Obamacare has definitely been good for ANTM with waves of new enrollees.

ANTM, previously known as Wellpoint, is in the healthcare sector. According to the company, "Anthem is working to transform health care with trusted and caring solutions. Our health plan companies deliver quality products and services that give their members access to the care they need. With nearly 71 million people served by its affiliated companies, including more than 38 million enrolled in its family of health plans, Anthem is one of the nation’s leading health benefits companies."

ANTM has raised its guidance the last four quarters in a row! Their most recent earnings report was April 29th. ANTM delivered their 2015 Q1 results of $3.14 per share. That was 45 cents above estimates. Revenues came in below expectations but traders didn't care because ANTM raised their guidance above Wall Street's estimate.

Now analysts are starting to raise their price targets on the stock. Shares have broken out of a multi-week consolidation pattern. ANTM is poised to rally through resistance near $160.00 and hit new all-time highs.

Tonight I am suggesting we wait for ANTM to close above $161.00 and then buy calls the next morning with a stop loss at $152.00.

- Suggested Positions -
MAY 18, 2015 - entry price on ANTM @ 162.00, option @ 7.95
symbol: ANTM160115C170 2016 JAN $170 call - current bid/ask $9.75/12.70

05/24/15 new stop loss @ 154.75
05/18/15 trade begins. ANTM opens at $162.00
05/15/15 Trade is triggered. ANTM closes above our $161.00 trigger
Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike

Current Target: To Be Determined
Current Stop loss: 154.75
Play Entered on: 05/18/15
Originally listed on the Watch List: 05/10/15


Ashland, Inc. - ASH - close: 127.40

Comments:
05/31/15: ASH spent another week churning sideways between $126 and $129. I'm still cautious on this trade and more conservative traders may want to just abandon ship and exit early now.

No new positions at this time.

Trade Description: April 12, 2015:
ASH is in the basic materials sector. The XLB materials ETF is up +2.3% this year. Shares of ASH are outperforming their peers with a +8% gain in 2015.

According to the company, "Ashland Inc. (ASH) is a global leader in providing specialty chemical solutions to customers in a wide range of consumer and industrial markets, including architectural coatings, automotive, construction, energy, food and beverage, personal care and pharmaceutical. Through our three commercial units - Ashland Specialty Ingredients, Ashland Performance Materials and Valvoline - we use good chemistry to make great things happen for customers in more than 100 countries."

Looking at the last couple of earnings reports ASH has been beating estimates on the bottom line. Their most recent report was January 26th where ASH reported a profit of $1.46 per share on revenues of $1.39 billion. Earnings beat estimates by four cents while revenues were down -2.9% from a year ago thanks to foreign currency headwinds (i.e. impact of the strong dollar). Management said that last quarter their strongest growth was in many of the company's higher-margin products.

Technically shares have been building on a bullish trend of higher lows. The point & figure chart is very bullish and forecasting a long-term target of $200 a share.

The all-time high was set on March 2nd, 2015 at $130.66. Tonight I am suggesting we wait for ASH to close above $130.75 and then buy calls the next morning with a stop loss at $124.75.

- Suggested Positions -
MAY 12, 2015 - entry price on ASH @ 127.49, option @ 4.00
symbol: ASH160115C140 2016 JAN $140 call - current bid/ask $3.10/3.40

05/12/15 Trade begins. ASH gaps lower at $127.49
05/11/15 Triggered. ASH closed at $131.52, above our trigger of 131.25
05/10/15 Adjust entry trigger to a close above $131.25 (was 130.75)
04/26/15 Do not open positions if ASH gaps open above $132.50
Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike

Current Target: To Be Determined
Current Stop loss: 124.75
Play Entered on: 05/12/15
Originally listed on the Watch List: 04/12/15


Tableau Software - DATA - close: 113.21

Comments:
05/31/15: The rally in DATA paused with shares consolidating sideways in the $110-115 zone the last few days.

I don't see any changes from my recent comments. If the market accelerates lower we could see DATA drop sharply. Thus more conservative traders may want to use a higher stop loss. I am not suggesting new positions at this time.

Trade Description: April 26, 2015:
The market for analyzing big business data is growing fast. DATA is leading the charge. According to the company, "Tableau Software (NYSE: DATA) helps people see and understand data. Tableau helps anyone quickly analyze, visualize and share information. More than 26,000 customer accounts get rapid results with Tableau in the office and on-the-go. And tens of thousands of people use Tableau Public to share data in their blogs and websites."

The last couple of earnings reports have been very impressive. DATA released their Q3 results on November 5, 2014. Results were 12 cents above estimates with revenues up +71% to $104.5 million, also above estimates.

Their Q4 results came out in early February. Analysts were expecting a profit of $0.11 a share on revenues of $122.58 million. DATA delivered $0.42 a share with revenues up +75% to $142.9 million. In the fourth quarter they added 2,600 new customers. They closed 304 transactions worth more than $100,000, a +70% improvement from a year ago.

Christian Chabot, Chief Executive Officer of Tableau. "In 2014, we experienced the strongest demand we've seen in our history, as the move to agile analytics grows faster than ever."

Management offered earnings guidance that was in-line with Wall Street estimates but they see revenues coming in above expectations.

Wall Street is bullish and the last couple of weeks have seen new price targets at $115 and $127. The point & figure chart is forecasting at $117.00 target.

DATA has been talked about as a potential take over target and that might be why their options are so expensive. DATA's next earnings report is coming up on May 7th. More conservative traders may want to sit this one out until we see how the market reacts to DATA's Q1 results.

I am labeling this a more aggressive play because shares can be volatile with multi-point single-day moves. Tonight we want to buy calls on a dip at $100.00.

- Suggested Positions -
APR 27, 2015 - entry price on DATA @ 100.00, option @ 12.10
symbol: DATA160115C110 2016 JAN $110 call - current bid/ask $15.70/17.00

05/24/15 new stop @ 102.75
05/17/15 new stop @ 97.40
05/10/15 new stop loss @ 94.75
05/08/15 the stock soars to new highs in reaction to earnings and a couple of upgrades.
05/07/15 DATA delivered better than expected earnings and raises guidance above Wall Street expectations
04/27/15 triggered @ $100.00
Remember, this is a higher-risk trade. Consider small positions to limit risk.
Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike

Current Target: To Be Determined
Current Stop loss: 102.75
Play Entered on: 04/27/15
Originally listed on the Watch List: 04/26/15


iShares MSCI Germany - EWG - close: 29.11

Comments:
05/31/15: The EWG was hammered lower last week thanks to rising worries about the Greece situation. Shares gapped down on Tuesday and ended the week at new two-month lows. If the $29.00 level breaks the next support level is $28.50 and its simple 200-dma.

If you read tonight's market commentary then you know that the next three or four weeks are crucial for the Greek story. Expect shares of EWG to remain volatile over this time.

We should assume that if Greece does leave the euro or defaults on its debt that this trade gets stopped out due to volatile movement in the European markets.

FYI: I want to remind readers that this is ETF is not hedged against weakness in the euro. The trend is up but its performance will lag the major European markets. You could look at hedged European ETFs but many of them have very low volume and do not have options (especially LEAPS). If you're curious check out these symbols: HEWG, DBGR, DXGE. Be sure to do your homework.

Earlier Comments: February 22, 2015:
The EWG is an exchange traded fund (ETF) that mimics the MSCI Germany index. This includes small, mid, and large-cap companies.

The U.S. market has enjoyed several years worth of QE programs that helped fuel market gains. Now that the U.S. QE program is over Europe is about to start on their own QE program. The European Central Bank (ECB) will start its quantitative program in March this year. The central bank will purchase about €60 billion a month through September 2016 but they've already announced that they will extend this deadline if they need to.

This is significant. After years of promising to do something about the Eurozone economy and fight the threat of deflation the ECB is finally acting. They might be too late to fend off deflation but investors seem to have hope that Europe can turn things around.

Germany should be a prime beneficiary of this program. The ECB's QE will continue to pressure the euro lower and that makes Germany's exports more competitive. Investors are have already starting betting on an improvement in the Germany market with a significant bounce in the EWG.

Today the EWG has broken through technical resistance at its simple 200-dma. Now it's about to challenge resistance near the $30.00 mark. Tonight I am suggesting investors wait for the EWG to close above $30.00 and then buy calls the next morning with a stop loss at $26.85.

FYI: If you want a broader European ETF I did consider the VGK but about half of its holdings are British and Swiss companies and may not see the same benefit from a weaker euro.

- Suggested Positions -
MAR 23, 2015 - entry price on EWG @ 30.24, option @ 1.95
symbol: EWG160115C30 2016 JAN $30 call - current bid/ask $1.00/1.05

05/10/15 new stop @ 28.40
03/23/15 Trade begins. EWG opens at $30.24
03/20/15 EWG closed @ $30.26, above our suggested entry: a close above $30.00
Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike

Current Target: To Be Determined
Current Stop loss: 28.40
Play Entered on: 03/23/15
Originally listed on the Watch List: 02/22/15


iShares MSCI Italy Capped ETF - EWI - close: 15.56

Comments:
05/31/15: The EWI fared a lot better than the EWG. Shares still saw a big gap down on Tuesday but they pared their losses for the week. The bullish trend of higher lows remains in place.

Investors should be aware that regional elections inside Italy this weekend could generate volatility in the EWI on Monday.

No new positions at this time.

FYI: This EWI trade suffers the same risk that the EWG trade does. If Greece ends up leaving the Eurozone or defaults on its debt it will generate significant market volatility in Europe. I would expect EWI to hit our stop if we do see a Greek exit.

Trade Description: April 5, 2015:
Italy could be on the brink of an economic turnaround. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that Italy could escape from its chronic economic fatigue. The country's economic growth has been slowing down for years with growth falling from +2% in the 1980s to +1.4% in the 1990s to just +0.6% in the 2000s. The country has averaged -0.5% growth since 2010.

The situation appears to be changing. Markit's manufacturing PMI data for March hit 53.3, an 11-month high. Numbers above 50.0 suggest growth. UniCredit is forecasting Italian GDP growth of +0.2% in Q1 2015, which would snap the country out of its three-year recession.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has upgraded their forecast on Italy for 2015 and 2016. They now see growth of +0.6% in 2015 and +1.3% in 2016.

The combination of lower oil prices and a weaker euro to boost exports should boost European economic growth. Plus, the European Central Bank (ECB) just launched a 60 billion euro QE program in March 2015 that will last at least through September 2016 or longer if they don't hit their 2% inflation target.

Investors know that QE helped fuel a multi-year rally in the U.S. stock market and they are expecting a similar reaction in the European stock markets.

The EWI could be a way to play it. This is an ETF that mimics the MSCI Italy 25/50 index. Underlying stocks are traded on the Milan stock exchange. It's one of the most liquid ETFs focused on Italy.

Technically the EWI appears to have formed an inverse (bullish version) of a head-and-shoulders pattern. It's also on the verge of breaking out past its simple 200-dma. Tonight I am suggesting investors wait for the EWI to close above $15.25 and then buy calls the next morning.

Warning: The biggest risk is probably a Greek exit from the Eurozone. Negative headlines that suggest the Greek might exit could generate a lot of volatility in the EWI.

- Suggested Positions -
APR 07, 2015 - entry price on EWI @ 15.31, option @ 2.35
symbol: EWI170120C15 2017 JAN $15 call - current bid/ask $1.65/2.00

05/17/15 new stop @ 14.70
05/03/15 new stop @ 14.40
04/07/15 trade begins. EWI opens at $15.31
04/06/15 EWI closed @ 15.29, above our trigger of $15.25
Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike

Current Target: To Be Determined
Current Stop loss: 14.70
Play Entered on: 04/07/15
Originally listed on the Watch List: 04/05/15


Facebook, Inc. - FB - close: 79.19

Comments:
05/31/15: FB's performance continues to disappoint. The bounce from its early May lows is fading. Shares look like they could retest support in the $77.00 area.

I am not suggesting new positions at this time.

Earlier Comments: March 22, 2015:
Facebook probably needs no introduction. It's the largest social media platform on the planet. As of December 31st, 2014 the company reported 1.19 billion monthly active users and 890 million daily active users. If FB were a country that probably puts them as the third most populous country on the planet (behind India and China).

This past week the company announced a new mobile payment service through FB's messenger app. The new service will compete with similar programs through PayPal, Apple Pay, and Google Wallet.

The announcement combined with a broad market rally helped fuel a +7% gain in FB's stock last week. FB's market cap has risen past $230 billion making it the tenth largest company in the S&P 500.

Growth has been phenomenal. According to IBD, FB's Q4 earnings were up +69% form a year ago. Revenues were up +49%. Wall Street is expecting FB's profit to rise +12% in 2015 and +32% in 2016.

Technically shares of FB have broken out from a very significant consolidation pattern. The point & figure chart is bullish and forecasting at $96.00 target. I think it will go higher. After a five-day run we do not want to chase it here. I'm suggesting a buy-the-dip entry trigger at $82.00 with a stop loss at $74.75.

- Suggested Positions -
APR 01, 2015 - entry price on FB @ 81.00, option @ 4.92
symbol: FB160115C90 2016 JAN $90 call - current bid/ask $2.84/2.86

04/23/15 Q1 earnings report
04/01/15 triggered @ 81.00
03/29/15 move the buy-the-dip trigger from $82.00 down to $81.00
Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike

Current Target: To Be Determined
Current Stop loss: 74.75
Play Entered on: 04/01/15
Originally listed on the Watch List: 03/22/15


Gilead Sciences - GILD - close: 112.27

Comments:
05/31/15: Biotech stocks continue to show relative strength. Although the group, including GILD, was not immune to the market's sharp decline last Tuesday. Fortunately traders bought the dip and GILD rebounded to new multi-month highs.

Tonight we will raise the stop loss to $104.00.

The stock is up sharply from its $100 low in early May. I am not suggesting new positions at this time.

Trade Description: May 3, 2015:
GILD seems to be everyone's favorite biotech stock. I only hear bullish opinions about the future of the company, and for good reason. They have some pretty amazing treatments with products for HIV/AIDS, liver diseases, oncology, cardiovascular, respiratory, and more. GILD has essentially revolutionized how we treat major diseases like HIV and Hepatitis C.

According to the company website, "Gilead Sciences, Inc. is a research-based biopharmaceutical company that discovers, develops and commercializes innovative medicines in areas of unmet medical need. We strive to transform and simplify care for people with life-threatening illnesses around the world. Gilead's portfolio of products and pipeline of investigational drugs includes treatments for HIV/AIDS, liver diseases, cancer and inflammation, and serious respiratory and cardiovascular conditions."

Last year (2014) everyone has been raving over GILD's hepatitis C treatment called Sovaldi. Hepatitis C is a form of viral hepatitis that causes chronic inflammation of the liver. About 185 million people currently suffer with hepatitis C. Previously the most common treatment for hepatitis C had serious side effects and was less than 50% successful. GILD changed that with their Sovaldi drug that not only treats the symptoms but actually cures the patient. The company has drawn some negative publicity over the cost since GILD charges $84,000 for a 12-week course of Sovaldi in the United States. The fact that 80% to 90% of patients who take Sovaldi are cured is a major milestone.

The Financial Times noted that before Sovaldi the impact of hepatitis C in the U.S. took a heavy toll on the healthcare system. The disease can lead to liver failure and cancer, both of which cost significantly more than Sovaldi's $84,000 price target. Hepatitis C is the leading cause for liver transplants in the U.S., which can cost a minimum of $145,000. One consulting firm estimated that the annual cost of hepatitis C to the U.S. healthcare system was going to surge from $30 billion to $85 billion in the next twenty years. Sovaldi has the potential to change. that.

The company is a cash machine. Their Q2 2014 revenues soared +136%. Q3 revenues were up +117%. Q4 2014 sales were +134%. They also announced a $15 billion stock buyback program.

GILD's most recent earnings report was their 2015 Q1 announcement on April 30th. Wall Street was expecting a profit of $2.32 per share on revenues of $6.89 billion. GILD delivered $2.94 per share with revenues rising +51.9% to $7.59 billion. Management then raised their 2015 sales forecast from $26-27 billion to $28-29 billion.

Technically shares of GILD have been consolidating sideways under a trend of lower highs for months. The last half of April appears to have produced a bullish breakout but GILD still has resistance in the $106 area. Tonight I am suggesting we wait for GILD to close above $106.50 and then buy calls the next morning.

- Suggested Positions -
MAY 15, 2015 - entry price on GILD @ 109.05, option @ 7.75
symbol: GILD160115C115 2016 JAN $115 call - current bid/ask $8.15/8.30

05/31/15 new stop @ 104.00
05/15/15 Trade begins. GILD opens at $109.05
05/14/15 Triggered. GILD closed @ 108.74, above our trigger of $106.50
Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike

Current Target: To Be Determined
Current Stop loss: 104.00
Play Entered on: 05/15/15
Originally listed on the Watch List: 05/03/15


iShares US Home Construction ETF - ITB - close: 26.62

Comments:
05/31/15: New home sales surged +6.8% in April to an annual pace of 517,000. That was better than expected. The latest pending home sales numbers hit a nine-year high. The residential real estate market in the U.S. is hot. Yet the ITB is not performing.

I am growing concerned about this trade. More conservative investors may want to abandon ship. Odds are good we'll see the ITB retest recent support in the $26.00 area soon.

I am not suggesting new positions at this time.

Earlier Comments: January 11, 2015:
The ITB is an exchange traded fund that mimics the Dow Jones U.S. Select Home Construction Index. The top 12 holdings are DHI, LEN, PHM, TOL, NVR, HD, TPH, LOW, RYL, SHW, KBH and MTH.

This index has been stuck in a trading range for years. That looks like it's about to change. Have you looked at a chart of the 10-year bond yield lately? Bond yields are going lower. That's going to pressure mortgage rates lower and that's bullish for home sales. This past week saw 30-year mortgage rates dip below 3.6%. That's a 19-month low.

If that wasn't enough of a tailwind President Obama wants to help. On January 7th the White House announced plans to reduce the government mortgage insurance premiums in an effort to boost home ownership. Another positive for the homebuilders is the U.S. Federal Reserve. We just had two fed governors come out last week saying they think the Fed should hold off on raising rates. The longer the Fed waits to start raising rates the better it will be for homebuilders.

Currently the ITB appears to be breaking out past major resistance and closed at multi-year highs. I'd like to see a little bit more follow through. Tonight I'm suggesting we wait for the ITB to close above $27.00 and then buy calls the next morning with a stop loss at $23.95.

- Suggested Positions -
FEB 11, 2015 - entry price on ITB @ 27.09, option @ 1.70
symbol: ITB160115C30 2016 JAN $30 call - current bid/ask $0.60/0.90

05/31/15 the ITB is not performing well. Investors may want to consider an early exit.
03/01/15 new stop @ $25.45
02/11/15 trade begins. ITB opens at $27.09
02/10/15 ITB closes at $27.10, above our trigger at $27.00
Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike

Current Target: ITB @ TBD
Current Stop loss: 25.45
Play Entered on: 02/11/15
Originally listed on the Watch List: 01/11/15



Level 3 Communications - LVLT - close: 55.48

Comments:
05/31/15: LVLT eked out a gain for the week but shares remain stuck in this $54-57 trading range. Last week Goldman Sachs started coverage on LVLT with a "buy" rating and a $67.00 price target.

More conservative traders may want to raise their stop loss. I am not suggesting new positions at this time.

Earlier Comments: December 28, 2014:
LVLT is a communication services company. Their marketing material describes LVLT as "Level 3 Communications, Inc. is a Fortune 500 company that provides local, national and global communications services to enterprise, government and carrier customers. Level 3's comprehensive portfolio of secure, managed solutions includes fiber and infrastructure solutions; IP-based voice and data communications; wide-area Ethernet services; video and content distribution; data center and cloud-based solutions. Level 3 serves customers in more than 500 markets in over 60 countries over a global services platform anchored by owned fiber networks on three continents and connected by extensive undersea facilities."

They just recently completed a merger with TW Telecom. Earnings have been improving. LVLT has beaten Wall Street's earnings estimates the last three quarters in a row. Technically shares have been outperforming the broader market. The NASDAQ composite is up +15% in 2014 while LVLT is up +50%. The point & figure chart is bullish and forecasting a long-term target at $75.00.

Currently shares of LVLT are hovering just below key resistance at the $50.00 mark. I am suggesting we wait for LVLT to close above $50.50 and then buy calls the next morning with a stop loss at $45.45.

- Suggested Positions -
MAR 04, 2015 - entry price on LVLT @ 54.71, option @ 3.90
symbol:LVLT160115C60 2016 JAN $60 call - current bid/ask $2.90/3.10

05/10/15 new stop @ 51.45
04/29/15 Better than expected earnings
04/12/15 Caution! LVLT looks weak. A breakdown under $53.00 probably portends a drop to support at $50.00
03/04/15 trade begins. LVLT opens at $54.71
03/03/15 Triggered. LVLT closed at $54.90, above our trigger of $54.50
02/22/15 Strategy update: Wait for LVLT to close above $54.50, then buy calls the next morning with a new stop at $49.45. Adjust the option strike to 2016 Jan $60 call
02/08/15 Adjust entry point strategy: Buy calls on a dip at $50.75 with a stop loss at $46.25. Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike

Current Target: LVLT @ TBD
Current Stop loss: 51.45
Play Entered on: 03/04/15
Originally listed on the Watch List: 12/28/14


MasterCard Inc. - MA - close: 92.26

Comments:
05/31/15: MA's recent performance would suggest the correction is not over. The stock is down three weeks in a row. While it's not down much in those three weeks it is still sliding. Last week's bounce attempt failed at the simple 10-dma. I suspect we will see MA dip toward round-number support near $90.00. Consider waiting for a bounce from $90 before considering new bullish positions.

Trade Description: May 3, 2015:
We are adding MA back to the watch list. Here's our recent watch list play description from April:

Do you have a credit card? How about a debit card? Odds are you do. About 70% of Americans have a credit card and many have more than one. Inside the United States there are over 500 million credit cards between American Express, MA, and Visa. There's more than 1.12 billion globally (not counting the U.S.). There's also another 572 million MA or Visa debit cards in the U.S. (MasterCard has more than 144 million). Not counting America there are more than 1.2 billion debit cards around the world.

Now what if you could charge a small percentage for consumers using their plastic every time they make a purchase? That's MA's business model. As of 2013 their market share of global transactions (credit or debit) was about 27%. They are the second biggest credit and debit card company behind Visa (V). According to the company, "MasterCard (MA), www.mastercard.com, is a technology company in the global payments industry. We operate the world's fastest payments processing network, connecting consumers, financial institutions, merchants, governments and businesses in more than 210 countries and territories. MasterCard's products and solutions make everyday commerce activities – such as shopping, traveling, running a business and managing finances – easier, more secure and more efficient for everyone."

MA has been delivering steady growth. They reported their Q3 results on October 30th with earnings up +19% from a year ago to $0.87 a share. That beat estimates. Revenues were up +12.8% to $2.5 billion, also above expectations. The bullish trend continued when MA reported its 2014 Q4 results on January 30th. Earnings per share soared +32% from a year ago to $0.69 and revenues grew +13.6% to $2.42 billion. Both metrics were above Wall Street expectations.

The company did warn that the surge in the U.S. dollar was impacting results but they still see strong single-digit revenue growth for 2015. They reaffirmed +20% earnings growth.

Meanwhile one of MA's biggest rivals, American Express (AXP), is not having a good year. AXP lost its exclusive deal with Costco (COST) last month. This deal generated 20% of AXP's loans and about 10% of their annual card growth. AXP is also losing its partnership with JetBlue (JBLU). AXP's losses will likely be MA's and Visa's gain.

Recently MA announced it had signed a 10-year deal with Citigroup. Not only is Citigroup one of the biggest banks on the planet they are the largest credit card issuer in the world. The press release states "Citi will begin aligning the company's consumer proprietary credit and debit portfolios to the MasterCard network in 2015." One analyst has already opined that the deal should provide a "decent tailwind for EPS growth" (for MA). Speaking of opinions, a couple of analysts at Nomura believe that MA is cheap at current valuations and could be seen as safe haven investment given their steady earnings growth.

"Despite a mixed global economy, we delivered solid results for the quarter and for the full year in 2014," said Ajay Banga, president and CEO, MasterCard. "This year is off to a good start with several new wins, as well as renewals of some important customer agreements, with more in the pipeline. Looking ahead, we will continue to be at the forefront of our industry by driving payment innovation with solutions such as MasterPass, and by increasing electronic payments usage globally as demonstrated by our significant expanded acceptance footprint across Africa."

Shares of MA look like a potential trade again. The company recently reported earnings on April 29th. The beat estimates on the bottom line with a profit of $0.89 per share. Revenues were only up +2.7% to $2.23 billion, which was below expectations. Part of the challenge were currency headwinds.

Wall Street seems to think that MA will do well in spite of the tough business environment. The spike higher on April 22nd was news that the country of China was going to open up their market to foreign companies. Previously companies like MA and Visa could only do business in China by partnering with a domestic firm (China UnionPay). Now the Chinese government is opening up the bank card-clearing market to foreigners. This is huge. The Chinese market for this business was $6.8 trillion in transactions last year. Now MA gets a chance to compete for its share of this business.

Shares of MA still have resistance near $93.00. We want to see MA close above $93.25 and then buy calls the next morning with a stop loss at $88.00.

- Suggested Positions -
MAY 11, 2015 - entry price on MA @ 93.48, option @ 5.95
symbol: MA160115C95 2016 JAN $95 call - current bid/ask $4.90/5.10

05/11/15 trade begins. MA opens at $93.48
05/08/15 triggered with a close @ $93.51 (above $93.25)
Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike

Current Target: MA @ TBD
Current Stop loss: 88.00
Play Entered on: 05/11/15
Originally listed on the Watch List: 05/03/15


Nike, Inc. - NKE - close: 101.67

Comments:
05/31/15: Ouch! It was an ugly week for NKE. Shares are down five days in a row. The stock started to bounce on Friday after tagging its simple 50-dma near $101.

The weakness in NKE seemed to be related to the FIFA soccer scandal. The U.S. led a crackdown on corruption among FIFA officials. According to the WSJ the Justice Department's 161-page indictment referenced a "multinational sportswear company headquartered in the United States". NKE says they are cooperating with officials but the company nor any of its employees have been charged with any criminal activity.

The FIFA story does cast a shadow over NKE but I would still be tempted to buy calls if shares can close above $103.00 again.

Earlier Comments: March 29, 2015:
In Greek mythology Nike is the winged goddess of victory. It's an appropriate brand name for the American athletic wear giant. Nike is the 800-pound gorilla in the industry with annual sales of more than $30 billion.

If you're not familiar with the company, "NIKE, Inc., based near Beaverton, Oregon, is the world’s leading designer, marketer and distributor of authentic athletic footwear, apparel, equipment and accessories for a wide variety of sports and fitness activities. Wholly-owned NIKE, Inc. subsidiaries include Converse Inc., which designs, markets and distributes athletic lifestyle footwear, apparel and accessories, and Hurley International LLC, which designs, markets and distributes surf and youth lifestyle footwear, apparel and accessories."

The company's most recent earnings report was March 19th, after the closing bell. NKE reported its Q3 2015 results. Analysts were expecting a profit of $0.84 a share on revenues of $7.62 billion. NKE delivered a profit of +0.89 a share or +16% from a year ago. Revenues were up +7% to $7.46 billion. However, if you back out the currency headwinds, their revenues were up +13%.

The company reported sales growth across every geographical region. Their gross margins improved 140 basis points to 45.9 percent. Management said their online sales are soaring. Nike.com saw its revenues jump +42% last quarter.

The current quarter is NKE's 2015 Q4 (March-July) and the company said orders for Q4 in North America are up +15%, which is above analysts' estimates of +11.6%. Orders from China are up +11%, also above estimates. In the company's earnings release NKE said, "As of the end of the quarter, worldwide futures orders for NIKE Brand athletic footwear and apparel scheduled for delivery from March 2015 through July 2015 were 2 percent higher than orders reported for the same period last year. Excluding currency changes, reported orders would have increased 11 percent."

One big concern is the U.S. dollar. Sales in Europe were up +21% but when you factor in euro weakness and dollar strength that sales growth drops to +10%. The strength in the U.S. dollar is a major headwind but after NKE's Q3 results Wall Street feels that the company is managing the currency impact very well. The company is forecasting low double digit sales growth in the current quarter.

Wall Street applauded the results and shares of NKE gapped open higher on March 20th to hit all-time highs. There was a parade of bullish analyst comments. Several firms raised their price target on NKE. Here's a brief list of new price target: $106, $110, $115, $116.00. The point & figure chart is more optimistic as it is forecasting at $125.00 target.

Shares of NKE have seen some profit taking, which isn't a surprise considering the market's recent decline. However, now that NKE has filled the gap, traders jumped in to buy the dip. The stock looks poised to breakout past round-number resistance at $100.00 (again). Tonight I am suggesting investors wait for NIKE to close above $101.00 and then buy calls the next morning with a stop loss at $94.45.

- Suggested Positions -
MAY 11, 2015 - entry price on NKE @ 102.42, option @ 4.20
symbol: NKE160115C110 2016 JAN $110 call - current bid/ask $4.35/4.50

05/31/15 NKE down last week on rumors it might be involved in the FIFA scandal
05/11/15 trade begins. NKE opens at $102.42
05/08/15 Triggered with a close @ $102.44 (above 102.00)
05/03/15 move the stop loss from 95.75 to 97.45
04/12/15 Strategy update: adjust the trigger to a close above $102.00 and the stop loss to $95.75 (from a close above $101.00 and a stop at $94.45)
Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike

Current Target: NKE @ TBD
Current Stop loss: 97.45
Play Entered on: 05/11/15
Originally listed on the Watch List: 03/29/15


Starbucks Corp. - SBUX - close: 51.96

Comments:
05/31/15: SBUX continues to show relative strength. The stock briefly tagged a new record high on Friday. Shares are now up three weeks in a row. I would not chase SBUX here. The $52.00 area is still potential resistance.

We will raise the stop loss to $48.25.

Trade Description: April 26, 2015:
SBUX shares are soaring to new all-time highs.

The world seems to have an insatiable appetite for coffee. Starbucks is more than happy to help fill that need. The first Starbucks opened in Seattle back in 1971. Today they are a global brand with locations in 66 countries. SBUX operates more than 21,000 retail stores with more than 300,000 workers.

A few years ago Business Insider published some facts on SBUX. The average SBUX customer stops by six times a month. The really loyal, top 20% of customers, come in 16 times a month. There are nearly 90,000 potential drink combinations at your local Starbucks. The company spends more money on healthcare for its employees than it does on coffee beans.

The company's earnings results were only mediocre most of 2014 year. You can see the results in SBUX's long-term chart below. After incredible gains in 2013 SBUX has essentially consolidated sideways in 2014. The good news is that looks the consolidation is over.

Five-Year Plan

Late last year SBUX announced their five-year plan to increase profitability. Here's an excerpt from a company press release:

"The seismic shift in consumer behavior underway presents tremendous opportunity for businesses the world over that are prepared and positioned to seize it," Schultz said (Howard Schultz is the Founder, Chairman, President, and CEO of Starbucks). "Over the next five years, Starbucks will continue to lean into this new era by innovating in transformational ways across coffee, tea and retail, elevating our customer and partner experiences, continuing to extend our leadership position in digital and mobile technologies, and unlocking new markets, channels and formats around the world. Investing in our coffee, our people and the communities we serve will remain at our core as we continue to redefine the role and responsibility of a public company in today's disruptive global consumer, economic and retail environments."

"Starbucks business, operations and growth trajectory around the world have never been stronger, and we are more confident than ever in our ability to continue to drive significant growth and meet our long term financial targets," said Troy Alstead, Starbucks chief operating officer. "We have more customers visiting more stores more frequently, both in the U.S. and around the world, than at any time in our history. And we expect both the number of customers visiting our stores and the amount they spend with us to accelerate in the years ahead. With a robust pipeline of mobile commerce innovations that will drive transactions and unprecedented speed of service, Starbucks is ushering in a new era of customer convenience. We believe the runway of opportunity for Starbucks inside and outside of our stores is both vast and unmatched by any other retailer on the planet."

The company believes they can grow revenues from $16 billion in FY2014 to almost $30 billion by FY2019. To do that they will expand deeper into regions like China, Japan, India, and Brazil. SBUX expects to nearly double its stores in China to over 3,000 locations in the next five years

They're also working hard on their mobile ordering technology to speed up the experience so customers don't have to wait in line so long at their busiest locations. This will also include a delivery service.

Part of the five-year plan is a new marketing campaign called Starbucks Evening experience. The company wants to be the "third place" between home and work. After 4:00 p.m. they will start offering alcohol, mainly wine and beer, in addition to new tapas-like smaller plates.

The company recently launched its first ever Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room in Seattle, near their iconic first retail store. The new roastery is supposed to be the ultimate coffee lovers experience. CEO Schultz said they will eventually open up about 100 of these Starbucks Reserve locations.

SBUX is having a pretty good 2015 so far with the stock up +26%, outperforming the broader market. A lot of this gain was thanks to a post-earnings pops. SBUX reported its Q1 2015 results on January 22nd. Adjusted earnings, backing out one-time charges, were $0.80 a share. That's in-line with estimates. Revenues were up +13.3% to $4.8 billion, also in-line with estimates. It was a very strong holiday period for SBUX thanks in part to astonishing gift card sales. The amount of money loaded onto SBUX gift cards during the holidays surged +17% to a record $1.6 billion. One out of every seven Americans received a SBUX gift card. The company also saw significant growth overseas with its China and Asia-Pacific business soaring +85% to sales of $495 million. Their mobile transactions have reached seven million transactions a week. Investors applauded the news anyway and sent SBUX soaring to new all-time highs the next day.

That whole scenario just happened again on Friday with the company delivering exceptional growth. SBUX reported its Q2 (2015) on April 23rd. Earnings of $0.33 a share were in-line with estimates. Revenues were up +17.8% to $4.56 billion, slightly above expectations. It was their strongest growth in four years. Customers are responding well to new drink options and an updated food menu. They're also developing new delivery options, mobile pay options, and alcoholic drinks available at select locations.

Worldwide same-store sales grew +7%. This was significantly above estimates. It also marked the 21st consecutive quarter where SBUX's comparable store sales were +5% or more.

The company issued mixed guidance. The stronger dollar is having an impact. They see fiscal 2015 results in the $1.55-1.57 range. That compares to Wall Street estimates for $1.57 per share. However, the company's revenue estimates are more optimistic. They're forecasting +16-18% sales growth into the $19.1-19.4 billion zone compares to analysts' estimates of $19.1 billion.

The stock market applauded SBUX's results and shares popped to new highs. We do not want to chase it. Shares will likely fill the gap from Friday morning. Tonight I am suggesting a buy-the-dip trigger at $50.00. More nimble traders may want to consider a trigger closer to $49.70 instead.

- Suggested Positions -
APR 28, 2015 - entry price on SBUX @ 50.00, option @ 1.59
symbol:SBUX160115C55 2016 JAN $55 call - current bid/ask $2.19/2.26

05/31/15 new stop @ 48.25
04/28/15 triggered @ 50.00
Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike

Current Target: SBUX @ TBD
Current Stop loss: 48.25
Play Entered on: 04/28/15
Originally listed on the Watch List: 04/26/15


SolarCity Corp. - SCTY - close: 60.12

Comments:
05/31/15: Buckle your seat belt. SCTY looks poised to correct lower. Shares underperformed the market on Friday with a -2.85% decline and a drop toward round-number support at $60.00. If this decline continues I would expect SCTY to dip toward its 50-dma near $57.43. Currently our stop loss is at $57.40.

No new positions at this time.

Trade Description: May 10, 2015:
SCTY is the largest solar panel installer in the U.S. The company has grown thanks to its business model that leases the solar panel system to homeowners over a twenty year period instead of a large upfront cost in the $20K to $30K range. Meanwhile margins have improved as the price of solar panels plunged -80% in the last few years.

SCTY currently has more than 217,000 customers. They are aiming for one million customers by the middle of 2018. The company's most recent earnings report was May 5th. The company reported a loss of $1.52 per share, which was better than Wall Street's estimate for a loss of $1.60 per share. Revenues were up +6.3% to $67.5 million, which was +17% above analysts' estimates. The company added 28,000 new customers last quarter.

Bears will argue that the company's costs and expenses are soaring. That's true. SCTY has boosted its sales force by almost 90% in the last year. Their sales and marketing expenses grew from about $47 million a year ago to $86.7 million.

The company is forecasting they will install 180 megawatts of solar systems in the second quarter. They're aiming for 920MW to 1,000 MW for all of 2015. They just recently expanded into New Hampshire, which is their 17th state for residential installations. There is talk that SCTY could expand overseas in the next year or two.

One analysts just raised their price target on SCTY to $99.00 per share. The point & figure chart is forecasting at $92.00 target. The last several days have seen shares of SCCTY consolidate sideways in the $58-62 zone. A breakout here could spark the next leg higher. I am suggesting we wait for SCTY to close above $62.50 and then buy calls the next day with a stop loss at $57.40. However, please note that I am putting a condition on this trade. We want to see SCTY close in the $62.50-64.00 range. If SCTY spikes higher and closes above this region then no trade. We'll re-evaluate next weekend.

- Suggested Positions -
MAY 15, 2015 - entry price on SCTY @ 62.62, option @ 5.40
symbol:SCTY160115C70 2016 JAN $70 call - current bid/ask $3.70/4.80

05/31/15 Caution! SCTY looks weak and poised to breakdown under $60
05/15/15 trade begins. SCTY opens at $62.62
05/14/15 triggered. SCTY closed @ $62.72, above our trigger of $62.50
Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike

Current Target: SCTY @ TBD
Current Stop loss: 57.40
Play Entered on: 05/15/15
Originally listed on the Watch List: 05/10/15


Textron Inc. - TXT - close: 45.22

Comments:
05/31/15: TXT spent most of last week churning sideways inside the $45-46 range. Based on Friday's display of relative weakness (-1.58%) it would appear the correction is not over yet. The next support area is probably the $43-44 zone. Our stop loss is at $42.40.

I am not suggesting new positions at this time.

Earlier Comments: February 15, 2015:
TXT is in the industrial goods sector. They deal mostly in the aerospace industry. According to the company, "Textron Inc. is a multi-industry company that leverages its global network of aircraft, defense, industrial and finance businesses to provide customers with innovative solutions and services. Textron is known around the world for its powerful brands such as Bell Helicopter, Cessna, Beechcraft, Hawker, Jacobsen, Kautex, Lycoming, E-Z-GO, Greenlee, and Textron Systems."

The earnings picture last year was mixed. Better than expected results and bullish guidance helped power a big rally last October. Their most recent earnings report was January 28th. TXT's earnings of $0.76 a share were up +26% from a year ago but 1 cent worse than Wall Street estimates. Revenues were up +16.8% to $4.1 billion, also below estimates.

It's interesting how TXT missed Wall Street's earnings estimates on both the top and bottom line and management lowered their guidance for all of 2015. Yet the stock did not sell off. Normally an earnings miss or weak guidance would spark significant selling. Instead investors just calmly bought the dip and now TXT is breaking out to new multi-year highs.

If bad news like that can't shake the stock lower then the path of least resistance is definitely higher. The last couple of months look like a significant consolidation pattern and now TXT has produced a bullish breakout past resistance in the $44.00-44.50 zone. The point & figure chart is bullish and forecasting a long-term target at $67.00.

Tonight I am suggesting small bullish positions if TXT can close above $45.10. Wait for shares to close above this level and then buy calls the next morning.

- Suggested Positions -
FEB 25, 2015 - entry price on TXT @ 45.30, option @ 3.00
symbol: TXT160115C50 2016 JAN $50 call - current bid/ask $1.65/1.80

05/03/15 new stop @ 42.40
04/12/15 new stop @ 41.85
02/25/15 trade begins. TXT opens at $45.30
02/24/15 TXT closed @ $45.33, above our trigger of $45.10
Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike

Current Target: TXT @ TBD
Current Stop loss: 42.40
Play Entered on: 02/25/15
Originally listed on the Watch List: 02/15/15




CLOSED Plays


Toyota Motor Corp. - TM - close: 137.89

Comments:
05/31/15: TM's attempt at a bounce failed at resistance near $140.00 and its 50-dma. In last week's newsletter we decided to exit this trade on Tuesday morning. TM opened at $138.47 on May 26th. The bid on the option was $11.65 (+33.1%).

- Suggested Positions -
DEC 02, 2014 - entry price on TM @ 126.56, option @ 8.75
symbol: TM160115C130 2016 JAN $130 call - exit $11.65 (+33.1%)

05/26/15 planned exit on Tuesday morning
05/24/15 prepare to exit immediately (Tuesday morning)
04/26/15 new stop @ 136.40
03/22/15 new stop @ 133.45
03/15/15 new stop @ 129.00
03/03/15 U.S. sales +13.3% in February
02/22/15 new stop @ 127.25
02/15/15 new stop @ 124.50
02/04/15 TM delivers better than expected earnings results and raises guidance
12/07/14 new stop @ $119.00
12/02/14 trade begins. TM opens at $126.56
12/01/14 trade is triggered. TM closes at $124.94, above our 124.00 trigger
Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike

Chart

Current Target: TM @ TBD
Current Stop loss: 136.40
Play Entered on: 12/02/14

Originally listed on the Watch List: 11/30/14



Watch

Donuts, Ice cream, & Cyber Security

by James Brown

Click here to email James Brown


New Watch List Entries

DNKN - Dunkin Brands Group

FEYE - FireEye, Inc.


Active Watch List Candidates

ADI - Analog Devices Inc.

ATVI - Activision Blizzard Inc.


Dropped Watch List Entries

None.



New Watch List Candidates:

Dunkin' Brands Group - DNKN - close: 53.36

Company Info

Investors appear to be in the mood for donuts this year. Shares of DNKN are significantly outperforming the broader market with its stock up about +26% year to date versus the S&P 500's +2.3% gain.

The company is in the services sector. According to the company, "Founded in 1950, Dunkin' Donuts is America's favorite all-day, everyday stop for coffee and baked goods. Dunkin' Donuts is a market leader in the hot regular/decaf/flavored coffee, iced coffee, donut, bagel and muffin categories. Dunkin' Donuts has earned the No. 1 ranking for customer loyalty in the coffee category by Brand Keys for nine years running. The company has more than 11,300 restaurants in 37 countries worldwide. Based in Canton, Mass., Dunkin' Donuts is part of the Dunkin' Brands Group, Inc. (DNKN) family of companies."

DNKN also owns the Baskin Robbins franchise, which has more than 7,500 retail locations in almost 50 countries.

The company seems to be undergoing a turnaround in its earnings results. Back in December shares plunged on an earnings warning when management lowered their 2015 guidance. When they reported their Q4 results in February they missed by a penny with revenues in-line (+5.5%). Their donut store comps were +1.4% but their ice cream store comps were +9.3%. Management raised their dividend +15% and announced a $700 million stock buy back program.

Results improved significantly in the first quarter of 2015. Analysts were expecting a profit of $0.35 a share on revenues of $180.7 million. DNKN reported earnings of $0.40 a share, which is a +21% improvement from a year ago. Margins improved 310 basis points to 47.1%. Their revenues rose +8.1% to $185.9 million, above estimates. Their donut store comps improved to +2.7% while their ice cream store comps hit +8.0%. Management raised their 2015 earnings estimates above Wall Street's consensus.

The stock soared to new all-time highs following this earnings report in late April. Since then shares have seen a correction but investors have bought the dip. Analysts have begun to raise their price targets. The point & figure chart is very bullish with a long-term target of $78.00. Currently shares of DNKN are hovering below resistance in the $54.00 area. Tonight I am suggesting we wait for DNKN to close above $54.25 and buy calls the next morning.

Breakout trigger: Wait for a close above $54.25
Then buy calls the next morning with a stop at $49.65

BUY the 2016 Jan $60 call (DNKN160115C60) current ask $1.45

Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike

Chart of DNKN:

Weekly Chart of DNKN:

Originally listed on the Watch List: 05/31/15


FireEye Inc. - FEYE - close: 46.57

Company Info

The cyber attack on media giant Sony last year was headline news for weeks. It was a major warning bell for corporations around the world to spend more on cyber security. Today it still seems like every week we hear about some high-profile cyber attack. Online criminals and saboteurs are growing more sophisticated and that's fueling corporate demand for high-tech defenses.

The company describes itself as, "FireEye has invented a purpose-built, virtual machine-based security platform that provides real-time threat protection to enterprises and governments worldwide against the next generation of cyber attacks. These highly sophisticated cyber attacks easily circumvent traditional signature-based defenses, such as next-generation firewalls, IPS, anti-virus, and gateways. The FireEye Threat Prevention Platform provides real-time, dynamic threat protection without the use of signatures to protect an organization across the primary threat vectors and across the different stages of an attack life cycle. The core of the FireEye platform is a virtual execution engine, complemented by dynamic threat intelligence, to identify and block cyber attacks in real time. FireEye has over 3,100 customers across 67 countries, including over 200 of the Fortune 500."

The stock was a real high flyer in late 2013 and into 2014. Shares began to fade in early 2014 and then really got crushed when FEYE issued an earnings warning in May 2014. FEYE spent the rest of 2014 consolidating sideways in a very wide $25-40 trading range.

This year FEYE's stock has seen a reversal of fortunes. Suddenly shares are soaring and up more than +45% thanks to better than expected earnings results. FEYE's reported its 2014 Q4 results on February 11th. Earnings improved from a loss of 50 cents a year ago to a loss of 38 cents in the fourth quarter, which was eleven cents better than expected. Revenues soared a whopping +149% to $143 million, which was above expectations.

Management guided 2015 earnings and revenues essentially in-line with consensus. The company is forecasting revenues in the $605-625 million range. FEYE expects a 2015 loss of $1.80 to $1.90 per share. Gross margins are expected to be in the 71-75 percent range.

Analysts have expressed concern with the surge in FEYE's spending but management said they are spending in-line with the company's growth. FEYE CEO Dave DeWalt said FEYE saw its growth double in 2014 and is up tenfold in the last three years.

The trend of improving results continued in the first quarter of 2015. FEYE reported earnings on April 30th. Wall Street was expecting a loss of ($0.51) a share on revenues of $120.5 million. FEYE delivered a loss of ($0.48) per share. Revenues surged +69.5% to $125.4 million. Guidance was in-line with their prior forecast.

The results were good enough that multiple analysts firms have raised their price target on FEYE in the last month. Jim Cramer talks about cyber security stocks on his CNBC show last week. I don't watch Cramer's show but he essentially said that cyber security stocks like FEYE could be great long-term investments. He's probably right. Hacking attacks on corporations have been getting worse every year. They are not going away. It's a constant arms race between hackers versus security specialists. Cyber security is going to be a long-term need for every corporation big or small.

Meanwhile FEYE has seen great success with its cyber security subscription services. This is great for the company since they get recurring revenues and not a one-time sale. Management also believes they have a ton of opportunity overseas. Most of their sales are in the U.S. but cyber security is a global need.

Technically the stock has been showing relative strength the last couple of weeks. FEYE appears to have broken out from its recent pennant-shaped consolidation pattern over the last three months. The point & figure chart is bullish and forecasting at $61 target.

Tonight I am suggesting we wait for FEYE to close above $47.25 and buy calls the next day. Please note I am setting an entry range to prevent buying a big spike. Wait for FEYE to close inside the $47.25-48.50 range. Then buy calls the next morning. Keep in mind that FEYE can be a volatile stock. Traders may want to consider this a slightly more aggressive trade. Consider smaller positions to limit risk.

Breakout trigger: Wait for a close in the $47.25-48.50 zone.
Then buy calls the next morning with a stop at $41.85

BUY the 2016 Jan $55 call (FEYE160115C55) current ask $3.40

Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike

Chart of FEYE:

Weekly Chart of FEYE:

Originally listed on the Watch List: 05/31/15


Active Watch List Candidates:



Analog Devices - ADI - close: 67.96

Comments:
05/31/15: ADI managed another weekly gain and new multi-year highs. Yet the action on Friday has created a bearish engulfing candlestick reversal pattern. We have been waiting for a correction. It could start soon.

Trade Description: May 24, 2015:
Shares of ADI are hitting 15-year highs as investors react positively to its most recent earnings report.

ADI is in the technology sector. They are part of the semiconductor industry. According to the company, "Analog Devices (NASDAQ: ADI) is a world leader in the design, manufacture, and marketing of a broad portfolio of high performance analog, mixed-signal, and digital signal processing (DSP) integrated circuits (ICs) used in virtually all types of electronic equipment. Since our inception in 1965, we have focused on solving the engineering challenges associated with signal processing in electronic equipment.

Used by over 100,000 customers worldwide, our signal processing products play a fundamental role in converting, conditioning, and processing real-world phenomena such as temperature, pressure, sound, light, speed, and motion into electrical signals to be used in a wide array of electronic devices. We focus on key strategic markets where our signal processing technology is often a critical differentiator in our customers' products, namely the industrial, automotive, communications, and consumer markets.

We currently produce a wide range of innovative products—including data converters, amplifiers and linear products, radio frequency (RF) ICs, power management products, sensors based on microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) technology and other sensors, and processing products, including DSP and other processors—that are designed to meet the needs of our broad base of customers."

The company's earnings performance has definitely improved in the last few quarters. Last August they reported earnings that were in-line with estimates as revenues rose +7.9%. The next three quarters in a row have seen ADI beat Wall Street estimates on both the top and the bottom line. Revenues were up +20%, +22.9% and +18.2%, respectively.

Their most recent report was May 19th when ADI reported its Q2 results. Earnings were up +23.7% from a year ago to $0.73 a share, which was a penny above estimates. Management's guidance was in-line with Wall Street estimates and the stock rallied.

ADI's President and CEO Vincent Roche commented on his company's quarterly performance, "We had a very successful second quarter driven by the quality of our innovation, the diversity of our business, and our strong execution. Revenue increased to a record $821 million, and our operating model generated strong cash flows and diluted earnings per share growth that was well ahead of revenue growth. Looking ahead, our book to bill ratio was positive in the second quarter and we are seeing stable order rates across all our end markets. As a result, we are planning for sequential growth in the third quarter and for revenue to be in the range of $825 million to $865 million."

Multiple analyst firms raised their price target on ADI following this report. Shares rallied to multi-year highs. We do not want to chase it here. Broken resistance in the $64-65 zone should be new support. Tonight I am suggesting a buy-the-dip trigger to buy calls at $65.10. We will try and limit our risk with a stop loss at $59.85.

Buy-a-dip trigger: $65.10 (intraday trigger, stop 59.85)

BUY the 2016 Jan $70 call (ADI160115C70)

Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike

Originally listed on the Watch List: 05/24/15


Activision Blizzard, Inc. - ATVI - close: 25.26

Comments:
05/31/15: ATVI just snapped a three-week winning streak with last week's decline. All of the decline came on Friday's big reversal lower. We have been looking for ATVI to pullback. Friday's session produced a bearish engulfing candlestick reversal pattern so the retreat may be about to start.

Trade Description: May 24, 2015:
Consumer spend more money on video games than they do at the movie theater. ATVI is the biggest with annual sales of $4.58 billion. Electronic Arts (EA) is hot on its heels with revenues of $4.52 billion a year.

ATVI is home to some of the biggest franchises in video game history. According to the company, "Activision Blizzard, Inc. is the largest and most profitable western interactive entertainment publishing company. It develops and publishes some of the most successful and beloved entertainment franchises in any medium, including Call of Duty , Call of Duty Online, Destiny , Skylanders, World of Warcraft , StarCraft , Diablo, and Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft. Headquartered in Santa Monica, California, it maintains operations throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia. Activision Blizzard develops and publishes games on all leading interactive platforms and its games are available in most countries around the world."

Investors have been pretty forgiving when it comes to ATVI's recent earnings reports. On February 5th they beat the bottom line estimate but missed the revenue number. Revenues were down -2.6% from a year ago. ATVI blamed currency headwinds for the revenue miss since half of their sales are outside the U.S. and represent a significant chunk of their profits. Plus, the video game business is prone to lumpy quarters as sales rise and fall on new releases and expansions. Management lowered their Q1 and 2015 guidance.

ATVI just reported its Q1 results on May 6th. Earnings per share fell -15.7% from a year ago to $0.16 but that was actually 9 cents better than expected. Revenues fell again, this time down -8.9%. Management lowered their Q2 guidance but they raised their fiscal 2015 earnings guidance above Wall Street estimates. That was enough to send shares of ATVI higher. A few analysts have commented that ATVI's 2015 guidance is too conservative.

Bobby Kotick, Chief Executive Officer of Activision Blizzard, commented on his company's quarterly results, "...This deepening level of engagement with a widening base of players across our franchises is what drove another successful quarter. We delivered better-than-expected Q1 results, increased our 2015 non-GAAP revenue outlook to $4.425 billion and earnings per share outlook to $1.20. Last quarter, on a non-GAAP basis, we delivered record higher-margin digital revenues of over half a billion dollars a Q1 record on an absolute basis and an all-time high on a percentage basis."

There were a number of headlines about how ATVI's Warcraft MMORPG saw its subscriber numbers fall from 10 million to 7.1 million in the last quarter. Investors don't seem to care. The Warcraft game is a cash cow but it's 11 years old. Investors could be looking forward.

ATVI said their new Destiny sci-fi shooter game and the Blizzard's fantasy card game have more than 50 million registered players (between them) with over $1 billion in sales.

ATVI also has several new titles coming out. They're on the verge of releasing "Heroes of the Storm", which will take on the current category champion "League of Legends" for the MOBA-style video game. More than ten million people have already signed up for the Heroes beta. ATVI has announced the next iteration of their Call of Duty franchise (CoD), which will be "Call of Duty: Black Ops III", which is another major cash-generating franchise. ATVI is also launching a new game called "Overwatch" and they'll release a new version of "Guitar Hero", which had 40 million players at its peak.

Currently shares of ATVI are up three weeks in a row and look a little bit overbought. Broken resistance near $24.00 should be significant support. Tonight I am suggesting a buy-the-dip trigger at $24.25 with a stop loss at $21.85.

Buy-a-dip trigger: $24.15 (intraday trigger, stop 21.85)

BUY the 2016 Jan $25 call (ATVI160115C25)

Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike

Originally listed on the Watch List: 05/24/15