Option Investor

Daily Newsletter, Saturday, 05/07/2005

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Table of Contents

  1. Market Wrap
  2. New Plays
  3. In Play Updates and Reviews

Market Wrap

Jobs Surprise

WE 05-06


WE 04-29


WE 04-22





+  34.80


+ 77.37



+  45.70


-  10.54


+ 24.04

S&P 100


+    5.46


+    1.34


+   3.64

S&P 500


+  14.50


+    4.73


+   9.29





+  26.22


+ 90.52



+  11.17


-    3.70


+   6.66



+  17.14


-  10.15


+   8.78





-  13.61


+ 60.27















Jobs Surprise

Surprise, surprise, surprise! The jobs numbers for April came in at +274,000 and blew past estimates of +175K with ease. This was a major miss by those analysts who read their tealeaves and predicted weak numbers. Not only was the April number a blowout but February and March were also revised higher. The markets rallied back to their highs for the week on the news but could not hold those highs.

Dow Chart - Daily

Nasdaq Chart - Daily

SPX Chart - Daily

Confusion reigned on Wall Street on Friday. The blowout Jobs report caught everybody off guard and the excessive good news sent stocks sharply higher at the open but resistance held and fear of the Fed came back to haunt traders. February jobs were revised up +57K to 300,000 and March was revised up +36K to 146,000. This good news was matched by the household survey showing a gain of +598,000 jobs. This job explosion sent the bulls into a buying frenzy on thoughts that the economy was much stronger than previously thought. This bounce was almost immediately capped by fears that the Fed would accelerate their rate hikes given the strong jobs. The Fed funds futures had been showing a strong possibility of a Fed pass at the September meeting. After Friday's jobs numbers those futures jumped to a 33% chance of a 50-point hike by that same September meeting.

The jobs components were positive with the Manufacturing workweek rising to 40.5 hours, the overall average rising to 33.9 hours and the average hourly earnings rising +0.3% to $16. The 33.9 number is the highest level since 2002. The unemployment rate held steady at 5.2% due to a large influx of 605,000 new workers into the labor pool. Service businesses created the most jobs with the manufacturing sector still weak.

With the April job gains of +274K, February upward revision of +57K and March revision of +36K that represents a net gain of 367,000 jobs over prior assumptions. Add in the 598K from the household survey and you have nearly one million new jobs to factor into the economic picture. The worries about the Q1 soft patch appear on the surface to have been severely overdone. Analysts spent countless hours and wasted plenty of digital ink documenting their projections only to have the Jobs numbers turn the conclusions upside down. Weak economies don't produce jobs of this magnitude.

Unfortunately a very large portion of Friday's job gains were the result of a Bureau of Labor Statistics paper adjustment. Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James reported that the BLS birth/death adjustment added +257,000 of the reported 274,000 new jobs. Without that adjustment Friday's market action and economic outlook would have been very different. This particular adjustment attempts to estimate how the birth of new companies and death of old ones have impacted the workforce. This massive "adjustment" to the jobs number was overlooked by almost everyone but the bottom line was a massive improvement in economic sentiment thanks to a government adjustment, not verifiable new jobs. That will not be reflected in the weekend news reports and I doubt it will be mentioned ever again. That leaves us with the official number showing a very surprising gain and that is what investors will be using to make their decisions.

Unfortunately the Fed's measured pace may be in jeopardy since the measured pace of job growth has taken on the appearance of a race rather than a pace. With the next Fed meeting nearly two months away on June 28th it will give analysts plenty of time to stress over the next chapter in this saga.

The positive jobs surprise whether real or artificial went a long way towards improving investor sentiment. Ned Davis Research said pessimism going into last week was at an 11 year high and similar to that seen in 1994. For those with a short memory the Fed raised rates six times in 1994 ending with the rate at 6%. This hike cycle capped the equity markets with the Dow trading in a 500 point range all year and a total gain for the year of just over +100 points. However, once the Fed rested the markets exploded from Dow 3800 in Jan-1995 to nearly 12000 in Jan-2000.

Rate Hike Graph 1994-1995

Dow Chart 1994 - Weekly

Dow Chart 1994-2005 - Monthly

I wanted to refresh everyone's memory of that bull market because that is exactly what bulls want to see happen when the Fed rests again. So far the Fed has hiked 25 points at each of its last eight meetings beginning in June 2004. The Fed rate was at a decade's low level of only 1.00% when they began. Given the similarity of market action, economics and stated Fed policy it now appears they will continue to hike for at least four of the five remaining meetings this year. If the jobs data continues to show strong gains it is conceivable at least one of those hikes could be 50 points. From various Fed speeches we have heard that the Fed would consider something in the 4.0%-4.5% range as optimal and that would put us around that level as 2005 ends.

This sets up 2006 as a theoretical springboard except for a one major difference. Remember Y2K? The Y2K problem and the advent of the Internet for consumers spawned a technology boom that will not likely be repeated in our lifetimes. Without that catalyst the markets can still rally but they are going to have to do it on normal market moving facts. Earnings and growth rates. We have seen the earnings for Q1 and it appears we are going to end up somewhere in the +12.3% range for earnings growth. Very few large companies are left to report with Dell and Cisco the exception in the coming week. What we have seen from those companies that have already announced was better than expected earnings but weak guidance after Q2. The technology spending picture continues to be cloudy and the tech bulls will be watching Dell and Cisco for comments that suggest this weak demand is improving. The markets want to go higher but there is still little justification for a summer rally. Markets normally anticipate six months ahead so any bets placed now are counting on a stronger economy and stronger profits in Q4 of this year. So far that projection is still cloudy with a bias to minimal growth in earnings. Should we see a change in guidance to the high side I believe we would see a very strong market later this year.

The major indexes only closed with a +5 point gain on Friday despite the supposedly good news. Fear of the Fed coupled with fear of the summer doldrums kept most investors on the sidelines. Volume was very light on Friday almost dropping to holiday levels with only 3.5B shares across all markets. Hardly a confidence-building rally. The A/D line was dead even at 3569:3543. Without the takeover rumor in Honeywell the Dow would have closed at -7 for the day. A rumor hit the floor that UTX was going to make a bid for Dow component HON and the race was on. HON started from its support low just over $35 and soared all the way to $37.71 before the excitement cooled. CNBC reported several times that there was very heavy options activity in the May/June calls and that just fed the fire. When the smoke cleared there were about 113,000 May options and 56,000 June options traded. Average daily volume is around 2,000. Although CNBC reported that call volume was 5:1 over puts that is not how the day ended. Put volume beat call volume better than 2:1 at 118,500:51,500. This rumor has been around the block numerous times at about six month intervals. Both UTX and HON declined to comment and UTX went so far as to say they are not interested in aviation assets. That put an end to the bounce and HON finished -$1 off its highs. Had the market been open a few minutes longer it may have retraced its gains completely.

The Dow was also helped by a new order for Boeing 787 Dreamliners. Northwest Airlines placed an order for up to 68 planes and BA finished up $1.27. Boeing and Honeywell were the only two Dow components gaining over a buck for the day. The Dow struggled to retest 10400 despite the supposedly good Jobs news and the lonely tick to 10400 was sold immediately. For three days this has been strong resistance and shows a real lack of confidence from the buyers. Stronger resistance exists at 10500-10550 but there appears to be a lack of buying volume sufficient enough to push us higher.

The volume is light because the fund inflows are light. For the last two weeks inflows have barely broken $800 million with only $400 million going into U.S. equity funds in the prior week. The U.S. funds are living on a very strict allowance and there is little cash to throw at the market. The headline jobs number could seduce some retail traders to put a check in the mail next week. However, I would expect funds to be reluctant to simply spend what they receive. With summer ahead they may feel more like building up their cash reserves instead of living dangerously at 100% invested. Should fickle investors start drawing out money for the spring home buying season or vacation expenses then any stock bought next week could just as quickly get sold.

Tech funds have not the beneficiary of that meager cash inflow. Techs have now seen 16 consecutive weeks of outflows and it would take some strong comments from Dell/Cisco next week to reverse that flow. Summers are just not tech friendly and tech investors have been moving to safety. Despite the outflows the Nasdaq hit 1890 early last Friday and has been moving steadily upward ever since. The prior resistance at 1960 was broken for three days but the Nasdaq can't seem to get over 1970. I believe traders are looking at that +75 point rebound and stronger overhead resistance from 1980 to 2020 and finding it difficult to buy tech stocks. If the 1890 dip was the low for this year then buying 1960 would be the wise thing to do. Unfortunately we all know that yearly lows are seldom made in May but in the months that follow.

Nasdaq Convergence Chart - 2005 Daily

SOX Chart - Daily

Crude Oil Chart - Daily

This was a good week for the markets. They were due for a rebound given the very pessimistic sentiment we saw last week. I told you on Tuesday we were due for a bounce and that came to pass as expected. Now it is decision time again. I believe we could see a minor jobs bounce on Mon/Tue if Ma and Pa investor believe the jobs story in the weekend newspaper. Any bounce from our current levels will run into very stiff resistance at 10500, 2000, 1190 and fear of that resistance will likely keep us from reaching it. My bias has switched from Tuesday's neutral back to bearish and I would look to short any Monday/Tuesday bounce to resistance. I believe the economy is picking up again but that will only make the Fed bolder about its coming hikes. Good economic news is bad news for the market until fall. Despite the artificial jobs blowout you may have noticed that Jobless Claims have risen for the last two weeks. This tells me that real employment is still weak. We also have oil refusing to drop and hold below $50. Every day that passes we get closer to draw downs in inventory levels as the gasoline season draws near. Once oil finds a bottom and returns to the highs the feeding frenzy will begin again and we could easily see $70 oil by year-end. If the economy really is picking up speed then oil consumption will only grow faster. Once oil begins its climb it will provide more negative sentiment for equities. I am still a buyer of oil stocks with any dip below $50 but I am avoiding other sectors until we see what summer brings. Definitely enter passively and take profits quickly.


New Plays

Most Recent Plays

New Plays
Long Plays
Short Plays
None None

Editor's note: We're sorry but due to technical issues we are unable to provide any new plays this weekend. We will be adding new candidates on Monday.

New Long Plays

None today.

New Short Plays

None today.

Play Updates

Updates On Latest Picks

Long Play Updates

Archstone-Smith - ASN - close: 35.84 chg: -0.30 stop: 34.85

Hmmm.. shares of ASN displayed a relatively volatile session on Friday. The stock opened weak and sank toward the $35.40 level before sharply bouncing. The bounce turned into a rally that hit $36.37. Our entry point to go long was $36.26 so the play is now open. The problem is that ASN did not hold its gains and the stock was sliding lower into Friday afternoon. The whole session put an ugly little bearish hook on some of its technical oscillators. If you're not long this play we would suggest caution and probably avoid opening new positions until ASN trades a bit higher - say the $36.50 level. Readers who are long this stock can carefully watch the $35.30-35.40 level as possible support.

Picked on May 06 at $36.26
Change since picked: - 0.42
Earnings Date 04/26/05 (confirmed)
Average Daily Volume: 811 thousand


Brookfield Homes - BHS - close: 46.00 chg: -0.20 stop: 42.45

BHS is a relatively new play to the Premier Investor newsletter. We added the stock on Wednesday with a trigger to go long at $45.05 on a breakout above resistance at $45.00. The breakout occurred on Thursday with volume over three times the daily average, which is normally a very bullish sign. Friday's session looks like normal profit taking after a four-day rally. The stock should have support at the $45.00 level or if that fails then additional support should appear at the $44.00 level. We would look for a dip back toward $45.00 and use it as a new bullish entry point. The bullish P&F chart now points to a $62 target. Our target remains the $50.00 level.

Picked on May 05 at $45.05
Change since picked: + 1.21
Earnings Date 05/02/05 (confirmed)
Average Daily Volume: 100 thousand


First Bancorp - FBP - close: 40.68 chg: +0.31 stop: 37.00

FBP is a new play to the list from Thursday's newsletter. The stock displayed relative strength on Friday with a small gain compared to weakness in the banking indices. A reprint of the original play description from Thursday follows:

We like FBP because the stock is a great technical bounce play. The stock is extremely oversold with the first four months of 2005 completely erasing its 2004 gains. The stock has been declining in a very narrow channel but shares just recently broke out above resistance at its trendline of lower highs and at the $40.00 mark. We also notice that there has been a lot of volume over the last few days suggesting accumulation from large investors (like fund managers). We like the pull back toward $40.00 today and suggest using it as a bullish entry point. However, there is a chance that FBP could pull back even further toward the $39.00 or $38.50 region. Patient traders can wait for a possible dip but look for signs of a bounce before initiating positions. The P&F chart has already reversed from a sell signal into a new buy signal with a $58.00 target. Our six to eight week target is the $45.00 level.

Picked on May 05 at $40.37
Change since picked: + 0.31
Earnings Date 04/19/05 (confirmed)
Average Daily Volume: 280 thousand

Short Play Updates

Ball Corp - BLL - close: 39.18 chg: +0.20 stop: 41.01

BLL is another new play from the Thursday night newsletter. We see little change from our initial play description. A reprint follows:

Unlike most of the market shares of BLL were showing relative strength through the second half of January through early March. Yet all of that changed when BLL began to slide in late March through the first half of April. The stock broke down through support near $40.00 and technical support at its 200-dma's. The decline also broke down through BLL's nearly two-year up trend. Since then BLL's attempt at an oversold bounce failed near the $41.00 level and its 200-dma. This failed rally-bearish reversal suggests that the downside is not over yet for BLL. Looking at the Point & Figure chart we see that the stock has reversed into a sell signal pointing to a $31.00 target. Bears could also be attracted to BLL's bearish reversal today. The stock tried to push through its exponential 200-dma near $40.30 today but failed. Shares reversed course after this morning's strength and the stock lost more than two percent on heavy volume. We want to use today's reversal as a short-term bearish entry point. We suggest shorting BLL here with a target in the $35.00-34.00 range.

Picked on May 05 at $38.98
Change since picked: + 0.20
Earnings Date 04/28/05 (confirmed)
Average Daily Volume: 611 thousand


Biomet - BMET - close: 38.39 chg: -0.19 stop: 39.51

Thus far we remain on the sidelines. We added BMET to the list as a short candidate because the stock's April bounce has stalled and shares are struggling under resistance near $39.00-39.50, which coincides with the top of its wide, descending channel. The MACD indicator appears to confirm this theory as it leans toward producing a new sell signal. The P&F chart is also bearish and currently points to a $32 target. We agree our target is the $33-32 range. We want to open shorts only after BMET has confirmed a failed rally near the top of its channel. Therefore we're suggesting a trigger at $37.45 as an entry point.

Picked on May xx at $xx.xx <-- see TRIGGER
Change since picked: + 0.00
Earnings Date 03/22/05 (confirmed)
Average Daily Volume: 2.4 million


Boston Scientific - BSX - cls: 29.61 chg: +0.11 stop: 31.51

We added BSX to the list as a short candidate due to its relative weakness. The stock remains in its long-term down trend but short-term BSX has been churning sideways between $28 and $30. BSX produced yet another failed rally at the $30.00 mark on Friday. Readers can choose to enter new positions at current levels under the $30.00 mark but it might payoff to just wait for BSX to trade under the $29 level again before opening new plays. Currently the P&F chart is bearish with a quadruple-bottom breakdown sell signal pointing to a $22 target. We're only targeting a move into the $25-24 range. This may end up being a slow moving play that takes several weeks to reach our target.

Picked on April 19 at $29.05
Change since picked: + 0.56
Earnings Date 04/19/05 (confirmed)
Average Daily Volume: 5.4 million


Novellus - NVLS - close: 23.77 change: -0.13 stop: 25.01

NVLS displayed some relative weakness on Friday under performing the markets and the SOX semiconductor index. It looks like NVLS is producing a failed rally under its 21-dma that could be used as a new bearish entry point. However, we would probably suggest that readers wait for NVLS to trade back under the $23.50 level before considering new bearish positions. Traders here should also keep a close eye on the SOX index. The SOX is near its resistance trendline and while we like to see it trend lower a breakout in the SOX could put this NVLS play in jeopardy. Our target remains the $20.50-20.00 range.

Picked on April 29 at $23.40
Change since picked: + 0.37
Earnings Date 04/18/05 (confirmed)
Average Daily Volume: 4.0 million


Catalina Mktg - POS - close: 24.25 chg: +0.08 stop: 25.25

Friday's session was very listless in the markets and POS followed suit with a narrow range all session. The stock continues to look bearish with a multi-week trend of lower highs and a bearish P&F chart that points to a $14.00 target. The recent oversold bounce failed under the $25.00 level and its exponential 200-dma. We would suggest readers look for another drop under the $24.00 mark or even the $23.85 level before considering new bearish positions. Our target is the $21.25-21.00 range. Remember that we plan to exit before POS' May 18th earnings report, which is unfortunately an unconfirmed date.

Picked on April 22 at $23.80
Change since picked: + 0.45
Earnings Date 05/18/05 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume: 468 thousand

Closed Long Plays


Closed Short Plays


Today's Newsletter Notes: Market Wrap by Jim Brown and all other plays and content by the Option Investor staff.


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