Editor's Note

OPEC is talking up prices for crude and that should continue for the next 2 months. Oil supply and demand is roughly in balance according to the EIA and the OPEC chatter could easily power crude back over $50 in the coming weeks. It is time to make a play in that sector.

The day after I cancelled the Vitamin Shoppe short recommendation the stock fell -7% right to our prior entry point. I am reinstating that position with an entry point just below today's low.



NEW BULLISH Plays

MRO - Marathon Oil - Company Profile

Marathon Oil Corporation operates as an energy company. It operates through three segments: North America E&P, International E&P, and Oil Sands Mining. The North America E&P segment develops, explores for, produces, and markets crude oil and condensate, natural gas liquids, and natural gas in North America. The International Exploration and Production segment explores for, produces, and markets crude oil and condensate, natural gas liquids, and natural gas in Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, Libya, and the United Kingdom; and produces and markets products manufactured from natural gas, such as liquefied natural gas and methanol in Equatorial Guinea. The Oil Sands Mining segment mines, extracts and produces oil from Alberta and Canada.

Marathon reported a Q2 loss of 23 cents beating estimates by a penny. Revenue of $1.3 billion beat estimates for $1.19 billion. Q2 production averaged 384,000 Boepd and in line with guidance. U.S. production averaged 189,000 Boepd. They said they were adding extra rigs in Q3 thanks to new inventory of leases in the STACK play Oklahoma. Raymond James upgraded them from outperform to strong buy and Bank of America upgraded them from neutral to buy.

Earnings November 2nd.

Shares are poised to break over resistance at $15.75 as OPEC chats up the headlines about a possible production freeze in late September. The next material resistance is $20.

With a MRO trade at $16.05

Buy MRO shares, initial stop loss $14.75.

Optional: Buy Oct $17 call, currently 63 cents. No initial stop loss.



NEW BEARISH Plays

VSI - Vitamin Shoppe - Company Profile

Comments:

Shares collapsed after 3 days of gains to close at a new low. I am reinstating this short position.

Original Trade Description: August 8th.

Vitamin Shoppe, Inc. operates as a multi-channel specialty retailer and contract manufacturer of nutritional products in the United States. It operates through three segments: Retail, Direct, and Manufacturing. The company provides custom manufacturing and private labeling services for VMS products, as well as develops and markets own branded products. It offers vitamins, minerals, herbs, specialty supplements, sports nutrition, and other health and wellness products of approximately 800 brands. The company sells its products through Vitamin Shoppe, Super Supplements, and Vitapath retail stores; and catalogs, as well as through its vitaminshoppe.com Website. As of March 1, 2016, it had approximately 700 company-operated retail stores.

The company reported Q2 earnings of 55 cents that missed estimates for 59 cents. Revenue of $332.7 million narrowly beat estimates for $331.6 million. The CEO warned, "The external environment was more promotional and volatile than we had anticipated and we responded by increasing our promotional activity. As a result, our performance for the quarter was mixed, with improved comps offset by lower margins. The positive comps in the quarter reflect the benefits of some of our new initiatives as well as stepped up promotional activity. In addition, our manufacturing business is performing below expectations with lower sales and margins, which also contributed to our overall weaker performance in the quarter." I was not a glowing report. He also said, "Given the current operating environment with variability from day to day, we have put in place a dedicated effort behind more aggressive cost controls and margin realization. Our goal will be to achieve the appropriate balance between revenue growth and profitability." That is a good example of a CEO trying to put a positive spin on a negative environment. Shares declined after his comments.

Earnings Nov 2nd.

I am a vitamin junkie. I cringe every time I have to buy a bottle of something that costs $50 to $75 and I am sure the normal consumer is also suffering from sticker shock when they see those prices. Obviously, you can buy the generic chemical equivalents for a lot less but if you are trying to buy the best quality formulations, it is expensive. Add in all the competition from the multilevels like Thrive and the vitamin boosted meal replacements from brands like Vega and the consumer has so many choices they can't make up their minds. All the chain stores like Kroger, Whole Foods, etc, are now carrying complete inventories from multiple competitive brands at discounted prices. This gets back to the "promotional environment" the CEO was talking about.

Since the earnings drop on July 28th shares have declined $5 and are currently struggling to hold support at $27.50 that dates back to May. A breakdown there targets $26.25 and the 52-week lows. If VSI does make a new low, I think we could see a significant drop. Vitamin Cottage (NGVC) is already at $12 and dropping after hitting highs over $40 at the same time VSI was hitting $65.

With a VXI trade at $26.20

Short VSI shares, initial stop loss $27.20.