New Watch List Entries

ASML - ASML Corp.

WMT - Wal-Mart Stores


Active Watch List Candidates

AET - Aetna Inc

SBUX - Starbucks

IP - International Paper


Dropped Watch List Entries

AAPL and GS have graduated to our active play list.



New Watch List Candidates:

ASML Holding - ASML - close: 106.02

Company Info

ASML is part of the technology sector. They make equipment the makes semiconductors. The company describes itself as, "ASML makes possible affordable microelectronics that improve the quality of life. ASML invents and develops complex technology for high-tech lithography machines for the semiconductor industry. ASML's guiding principle is continuing Moore's Law towards ever smaller, cheaper, more powerful and energy-efficient semiconductors. Our success is based on three pillars: technology leadership combined with customer and supplier intimacy, highly efficient processes and entrepreneurial people. We are a multinational company with over 70 locations in 16 countries, headquartered in Veldhoven, the Netherlands."

Moore's has been driving the semiconductor industry for decades and continues to fuel smaller and more complex systems. After a sideways year for the big semi equipment makers like ASML analysts are expecting 2015 to see improvement. They believe the new lithography systems will be in demand.

The company's most recent earnings report was October 15th. ASML missed the bottom line estimate by a penny but they guided higher. Q3 sales were €1.32 billion with a gross margin of 43.7%. ASML is forecasting Q4 sales of €1.3 billion with a gross margin of 43%.

ASML management held an investor day on November 24th. They outlined their plans to bump sales from €5.6 billion in 2014 to €10 billion and triple earnings by 2020.

Technically the stock has broken out to all-time highs in early December. The point & figure chart is bullish and forecasting a long-term target of $147.00.

If this market pullback continues we want to be ready to buy ASML on weakness. The $100-101 area should be support. Tonight I'm suggesting a buy-the-dip trigger at $101.50.

Buy-the-dip Trigger @ $101.50, use a stop loss at $94.75.

BUY the 2016 Jan $110 call (ASML160115c110) current ask $11.20

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

Chart of ASML:

Originally listed on the Watch List: 12/14/14


Wal-Mart Stores Inc. - WMT - close: 83.81

Company Info

WMT is the titan of retail. They are the biggest on the planet with 11,000 stores in 27 countries. Their three main segments are Walmart U.S., Walmart International, and Sam's Club (a Costco rival warehouse club).

The stock has been stuck in a $72-80 trading range for most of the last 18 months. That changed with the November breakout past resistance at $80.00. The company reported earnings on November 13th. Earnings were $1.15 a share, which was three cents above expectations. Revenues were up +2.8% and beat Wall Street estimates at $118.08 billion for the quarter. WMT said their same-store sales were up +0.5% in the third quarter, which is the first positive reading in seven quarters. Guidance was mostly inline with estimates although WMT said they expect comparable store sales to be flat to positive in the fourth quarter.

Retail-related stocks initially struggled following Black Friday as initial reports showed consumer traffic and spending came in below estimates. That was due to the changing nature of the retail experience. Instead of standing in line in the cold for door buster deals as in years past this year consumer shopped online and on their mobile phone. Wal-Mart said their online sales during the Black Friday weekend hit a record. Plus, retailers have extended their Black Friday deals form one-day to several days.

The National Retail Federation (NRF) recently issued a press release following the U.S. government's November retail sales number, which was up +0.6% over October and up +3.2% from November 2013. NRF reiterated their forecast for a strong +4.1% growth in consumer spending during the holidays this year.

We like Wal-Mart because it stands to benefit from the crash in crude oil prices. A large chunk of WMT's shoppers are low to middle income citizens. They are more affected by gasoline prices. The sharp drop in gas at the pump leaves a lot more money in their pocket which they will spend on other things. WMT will be a direct beneficiary from this extra cash that consumers have to spend.

Technically shares have started to correct from all-time highs near $88 set in late November. The point & figure chart is bullish and forecasting a long-term target of $98.00. Broken resistance in the $80-81 should be new support. Tonight I am suggesting a buy-the-dip trigger to buy calls when WMT hits $81.50.

Buy-the-dip Trigger @ $81.50, use a stop loss at $77.40.

BUY the 2016 Jan $85 call (WMT160115c85) current ask $4.70

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

Chart of WMT:

Originally listed on the Watch List: 12/14/14


Active Watch List Candidates:



Aetna Inc. - AET - close: 87.30

Comments:
12/14/14: We were expecting AET to dip and shares did not disappoint. However, our trade is not open yet. Last week I suggested we buy a dip at $86.00. Tonight I am moving that trigger down to $84.25. Why the adjustment? Last week AET provided guidance for 2015 and their forecast was below Wall Street's consensus. The stock held up relatively well in spite of this news and a weak market environment. Some analysts have suggested that AET is just being a little too cautious and will actually do better than expected.

Considering last week's news, shares could be a little bit weaker than we initially estimated so we are moving the trigger lower. Tonight we'll move the entry trigger to $84.25 but leave the stop loss unchanged at $79.00.

Earlier Comments: December 7, 2014:
AET is in the healthcare sector. According to a recent press release, "Aetna is one of the nation's leading diversified health care benefits companies, serving an estimated 46 million people with information and resources to help them make better informed decisions about their health care. Aetna's customers include employer groups, individuals, college students, part-time and hourly workers, health plans, health care providers, governmental units, government-sponsored plans, labor groups and expatriates."

If you study a one-year chart of AET the stock has definitely seen its ups and downs. That's because the healthcare industry has faced a number of issues. AET's CEO commented on this past year in their latest post-earnings conference call.

Mark T. Bertolini, Aetna chairman, CEO and president, said, "some of the challenges we face this year, including pricing solving for nearly $1 billion in ACA related industry fees and taxes, solving for the largest rate cuts to the Medicare Advantage program in our recent history, navigating a host of new regulatory requirements in our small group and individual businesses, managing through a turbulent launch in public exchanges and controlling pharmacy costs in a year where heavy priced Hepatitis C treatments first became available and treatment guidelines changed in unforeseen ways." (ACA stands for Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare).

In spite of all these challenges shares of AET are outperforming the major indices with a +32% gain in 2014 compared to a +12% gain in the S&P 500. AET's strength is due to the company's earnings performance. They have beaten Wall Street's earnings estimates and raised guidance three quarters in a row.

AET's most recent quarterly report was October 28th. Analysts were expecting a profit of $1.58 a share on revenues of $14.7 billion. AET delivered a profit of $1.79 a share. Revenues were up +13% to match estimates. The company said they added 470,000 new medical insurance customers in the third quarter, putting the total at 23.6 million.

Bertolini commented on their results, "Aetna reported solid third-quarter results, including our 10th consecutive quarter of membership growth, record quarterly operating revenues, and continued high single-digit pretax operating margin."

The major healthcare companies are reaping the benefits of Obamacare as more people sign up. Management raised their full year 2014 earnings guidance into the $6.60-6.70 zone versus Wall Street's estimate of $6.57.

Just last month AET raised their quarterly dividend 11% to 25 cents a share and added $1 billion to its stock buyback program, up from $464 million. In the last two months the stock has received multiple price target upgrades into the $95-100 zone. The point & figure chart is bullish with a $112.00 target.

The breakout past resistance near $85.00 looks like a significant buy signal. Yet after four weeks of gains I don't want to chase AET here. Tonight I am suggesting a buy-the-dip entry point at $86.00. Eventually AET will see a pullback and we want to be ready. It may not happen soon so we just need to be patient.

Buy-the-dip trigger @ 84.25, stop loss @ 79.00

BUY the 2016 Jan. $90 call (AET160115c90)

12/14/14 adjust the buy-the-dip trigger from $86.00 to $84.25. Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike

Originally listed on the Watch List: 12/07/14


International Paper - IP - close: $53.15

Comments:
12/14/14: IP's strength has faded. The stock is down three days in a row. We've been waiting for a pullback so this is good news. Our entry strategy has not changed. Wait for a dip to $51.00.

Earlier Comments: November 16, 2014:
IP is part of the consumer goods sector. According to a company press release "International Paper (IP) is a global leader in packaging and paper with manufacturing operations in North America, Europe, Latin America, Russia, Asia and North Africa. Its businesses include industrial and consumer packaging and uncoated papers. Headquartered in Memphis, Tenn., the company employs approximately 65,000 people and is strategically located in more than 24 countries serving customers worldwide. International Paper net sales for 2013 were $29 billion (which included our now divested xpedx business)."

The company has been facing a lot of headwinds this year but they still managed to beat Wall Street's earnings estimates three quarters in a row. Their most recent earnings report was November 4th. Analysts were expecting a profit of $0.89 per share on revenues of $6.0 billion. IP reported a profit of $0.95 with revenues beating estimates at $6.05 billion.

The company saw significant improvements in its operating profits in all three categories: industrial packaging, printing papers, and consumer packaging. Management expects a surge in packaging orders in the fourth quarter.

Wall Street loves the company's focus on delivering value to shareholders. IP is almost done with their $1.5 billion stock buyback program they announced in September 2013. They also raised their dividend 14% from $1.40 to $1.60. This is IP's third consecutive fourth quarter double-digit dividend increase. The stock now sports a 3.0% yield.

IP's CEO said they were looking seriously at converting part of their business into a master-limited partnership (MLP). This would be another shareholder friendly step as MLPs do not pay federal tax if the return most of their cash to shareholders.

The stock's current rally has produced a buy signal on the point & figure chart with a long-term target at $73.00. This month has seen shares of IP break out to new multi-year highs.

IP is currently up five weeks in a row. We do not want to chase it here. Instead we'd like to buy long-term calls on a dip. The prior highs in the $51 area should offer some support. Tonight I'm suggesting a buy-the-dip trigger at $51.00 with a stop loss at $47.90.

Buy-a-dip @ $51.00, start with a stop at $47.90

BUY the 2016 Jan $55 call (IP160115c55)

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

Originally listed on the Watch List: 11/16/14


Starbucks - SBUX - close: 83.25

Comments:
12/14/14: We added SBUX to the watch list last week. Shares weathered the market's storm last week pretty well and remains near all-time highs. I don't see any changes from my prior comments. We are suggesting investors buy calls on a dip at $82.00 but you may want to cross your fingers and hope for a dip to $80.00 instead.

Earlier Comments: December 7, 2014:
I listed SBUX as on my radar screen a couple of weeks ago in the new plays section. The rally has continued and shares have broken through major resistance at their 2013 highs.

The company is in the services sector. They're considered part of the specialty eateries industry. 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.

Earnings have only been so-so this 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 like it's about to change.

The company recently announced a five-year plan to boost its profits and market share. They're going to be expanding deeper into 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. SBUX also plans to significantly increase its food revenues.

The company is also building on its Starbucks Evening experience where they will offer alcohol (mainly wine). SBUX was also making headlines on Friday when they launched their first Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room in Seattle. The new roastery is supposed to be the ultimate coffee lovers experience.

Analysts came away from SBUX's recent investor day pretty bullish. One firm expects SBUX's stock to double in the next four years. I certainly think SBUX will be higher a year from now. The point & figure chart is bullish and forecasting at $105 target.

SBUX is currently up five weeks in a row. Tonight I am suggesting a buy-the-dip trigger to buy calls at $82.00. More patient investors may want to consider buying a dip closer to $80.00 instead.

Buy-the-dip trigger @ 82.00, stop loss @ 74.75

BUY the 2016 Jan. $90 call (SBUX160115c90)

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

Originally listed on the Watch List: 12/07/14