New Watch List Entries

MAR - Marriott Intl.

NXPI - NXP Semiconductors


Active Watch List Candidates

AET - Aetna Inc

ASML - ASML Corp.

FOXA - Twenty First Century Fox

LVLT - Level 3 Communications

WMT - Wal-Mart Stores


Dropped Watch List Entries

AAL graduated to our active play list.



New Watch List Candidates:

Marriott Intl. - MAR - close: 77.75

Company Info

MAR is in the services sector. The company describes itself as "Marriott International, Inc. (MAR) is a global leading lodging company based in Bethesda, Maryland, USA, with more than 4,100 properties in 79 countries and territories. Marriott International reported revenues of nearly $13 billion in fiscal year 2013. The company operates and franchises hotels and licenses vacation ownership resorts under 18 brands."

Earnings in 2014 have been improving and MAR beat Wall Street's estimates the last three quarters in a row. Their most recent report was late October with MAR delivering earnings of $0.65 per share. Revenues were up +9.5% to $3.46 billion, also above estimates. Guidance has only been in-line but that could be management playing it safe. Back in September the company outlined their growth plans through 2017. MAR said they will add more than 200,000 rooms around the world. Revenue per room available (RevPAR) is a key metric for the lodging industry. MAR expects 4 percent to 6 percent RevPAR growth in 2015 through 2017.

MAR is an international company and the CEO was recently asked about the economic slowdown in China, Japan and Europe and if it was hurting business. He said no. MAR's CEO said global travel in 2014 was better than the prior three years and he expects it to be healthy in 2015.

MAR focuses on three types of travel. They have the individual business traveler. There is group travel. Then leisure travel. MAR said they are seeing growth in all three areas. The improving U.S. economy could drive business travel and group travel. Lower gas prices mean more money for consumers so that can boost leisure travel. Plus, America has a ton of baby boomers retiring everyday. They travel more once they retire.

Technically shares of MAR have been consolidating sideways below resistance in the $78-80 zone the last several weeks. I am suggesting we wait for MAR to close above $80.25 and then buy calls the next day with a stop at $74.90.

Breakout trigger: Wait for a close above $80.25
Then buy calls the next day with a stop at $74.90

BUY the 2016 Jan. $90 call (MAR160115c90) current ask $3.10

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

Chart of MAR:

Originally listed on the Watch List: 01/04/15


NXP Semiconductors - NXPI - close: 76.81

Company Info

The S&P 500 index added about +11% in 2014. The SOX semiconductor index more than doubled that with a +28% gain. Shares of NXPI, a Dutch semiconductor company, saw its stock outpace its peers with a 2014 gain of +66%. That's because investors believe NXPI is well positioned to take advantage of growth in the connected car, cyber security, wearables, and the Internet of Things.

The company describes itself as "NXP Semiconductors N.V. (NXPI) creates solutions that enable secure connections for a smarter world. Building on its expertise in High Performance Mixed Signal electronics, NXP is driving innovation in the automotive, identification and mobile industries, and in application areas including wireless infrastructure, lighting, healthcare, industrial, consumer tech and computing. NXP has operations in more than 25 countries, and posted revenue of $4.82 billion in 2013."

It's also believed that NXPI is a chip supplier to Apple (AAPL) and NXPI's chips are in AAPL's iPhone and iPads.

Earnings have been good. NXPI managed to beat Wall Street's estimates on both the top and bottom line the last four quarters in a row. Back in July NXPI raised their guidance. Influential hedge fund manager David Tepper, who runs Appaloosa Management, launched a new position in NXPI back in the third quarter of 2014. In early December shares of NXPI were upgraded with a $100 price target by Oppenheimer.

Technically shares of NXPI have been consolidating sideways at their highs for the last several weeks. The $78.00 level is overhead resistance. I am suggesting we wait for NXPI to close above $78.50 and then buy calls the next morning with a stop loss at $69.75.

Breakout trigger: Wait for a close above $78.50
Then buy calls the next day with a stop at $69.75

BUY the 2016 Jan $85 call (NXPI160115c85) current ask $9.30

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

Chart of NXPI:

Originally listed on the Watch List: 01/04/15


Active Watch List Candidates:



Aetna Inc. - AET - close: 88.80

Comments:
01/04/15: We were expecting a pullback in AET but shares didn't fall far enough. Right now our plan is to buy calls on a dip at $86.00.

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 @ 86.00, stop loss @ 83.45

BUY the 2016 Jan. $90 call (AET160115c90)

12/28/14 adjust the buy-the-dip trigger to $86.00 and raise the stop loss to $83.45
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


ASML Holding - ASML - close: 109.30

Comments:
01/04/15: Semiconductor stocks were not immune to the market's widespread pullback last week. Shares of ASML followed the market lower with a dip to its 30-dma. Currently we are waiting for a breakout higher and a close above $110.25.

FYI: ASML is scheduled to report earnings on January 21st.

Earlier Comments: December 14, 2014:
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.

Breakout Trigger: Wait for a close above $110.25,
Then buy calls the next morning with a stop at $99.65

BUY the 2016 Jan $120 call (ASML160115c120) current ask $8.30

12/28/14 Strategy update: Instead of a buy-the-dip trigger at $101.50 we will wait for ASML to close above $110.25 and then buy calls the next day. Move the stop loss to $99.65 and adjust the option strike to the 2016 Jan. $120 call. Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike

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


Twenty-First Century Fox, Inc. - FOXA - close: 37.85

Comments:
01/04/15: We were hoping for a dip in FOXA and the stock declined three days in a row. Shares look poised to hit our suggested entry point at $37.50 soon. More conservative investors may want to wait and cross your fingers for a dip closer to $36.50 as an alternative entry point. Please note that I am adjusting our stop loss to $34.90.

Earlier Comments: December 21, 2014:
FOXA is a media giant. They're part of the services sector. According to the company's marketing material, "21st Century Fox is the world's premier portfolio of cable, broadcast, film, pay TV and satellite assets spanning six continents across the globe. Reaching more than 1.5 billion subscribers in approximately 50 local languages every day, 21st Century Fox is home to a global portfolio of cable and broadcasting networks and properties, including FOX, FX, FXX, FXM, FS1, Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, FOX Sports, Fox Sports Network, National Geographic Channels, STAR India, 28 local television stations in the U.S. and more than 300 channels that comprise Fox International Channels; film studio Twentieth Century Fox Film; and television production studios Twentieth Century Fox Television and Shine Group. The Company also holds a 39.1% ownership interest in Sky, Europe's leading entertainment company, which serves 20 million customers across five countries."

Earnings growth has been pretty steady. FOXA has beaten Wall Street's earnings estimates on both the top and bottom line the last three quarters in a row. The most recent report was in November. Earnings per share beat estimates by three cents at $0.39. Revenues were up +11.7% from a year ago to $7.89 billion.

Technically shares of FOXA have broken out from a massive trading range over the last several months. The rally has produced a buy signal on the P&F chart pointing to a $47 target. Friday's breakout past resistance at $38.00 is a new all-time high and honestly looks like a bullish entry point right now. However, I'm crossing my fingers that FOXA will see some profit taking before yearend. Tonight I'm suggesting a buy-the-dip trigger at $37.50 with a stop loss at $35.65.

Buy-the-dip trigger at $37.65
Start with a stop loss at $34.90

BUY the 2016 Jan $40 call (FOXA160115c40)

01/04/15 adjusting the stop loss from $35.65 to $34.90
Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike

Originally listed on the Watch List: 12/21/14


Level 3 Communications - LVLT - close: 49.35

Comments:
01/04/15: LVLT held up pretty well. Shares only suffered a forty-cent decline. We are waiting for a breakout past resistance at $50.00. We want to see LVLT close above $50.50.

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.

Breakout trigger: Wait for a close above $50.50,
Then buy calls the next day with a stop at $45.45

BUY the 2016 Jan $55 call (LVLT160115c55)

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

Originally listed on the Watch List: 12/28/14


Wal-Mart Stores Inc. - WMT - close: 85.90

Comments:
01/04/15: I don't see any changes from last week's comments on WMT. We need to be patient. Right now we're waiting for a significant dip and that could take a few weeks.

Earlier Comments: December 14, 2014:
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)

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

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