Option Investor

Daily Newsletter, Monday, 01/07/2008

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Table of Contents

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

Market Wrap

Stocks Mixed; Oil Retreats

The major averages finished mixed-to-higher to start the week in an active yet choppy trade, where despite rising tensions between Iran and the U.S. in the Straits of Hormuz over the weekend, oil prices tumbled to settle down $2.82, or -2.88% at $95.09 on the Nymex.

On Saturday, five Iranian revolutionary guard boats harassed three U.S. Navy warships sailing in the Straits of Hormuz with threatening moves and radio transmissions.

While February Crude Oil Futures (cl08g) traded as high as $98.40 at their floor session open, selling prevailed toward the close with traders citing both warmer temperature forecasts this week for much of the eastern U.S. Traders also cited some plain old profit taking on demand concerns from slowing U.S. economic growth.

Meanwhile, February Natural Gas futures (ng08g) gained $0.038, or 0.48% to $7.879/mmbtu as the storm that left tens of thousands of Californians without power headed east to parts Utah, Colorado and New Mexico with frigid temperatures expected to increase demand for the primary heating commodity this week.

Treasuries found price gains at the 5, 10 and 30-year maturities with yields falling with traders anticipating further rate cuts coming when the Federal Open Market Committee meets at the end of the month. The benchmark 10-year Treasury Yield ($TNX.X) fell 1.5 basis points to 3.839%, its lowest yield close since June 27, 2005.

New high and new low indications remain weak, yet very "oversold" short-term.

Today's 425 new lows at the big board were fewer than Friday's 561, while today's 375 new lows at the NASDAQ also an improvement from Friday's 475.

Still, Friday's 475 new lows at the NASDAQ were notable as it took out the more recent 11/08/07 low measure of 445 (81 NH/445 NL) and would suggest to this analyst some further slippage at the bottom.

It is difficult to simply note the number of new highs and new lows on a given session, but more meaningful if seen visually with a chart.

Here is an updated NYSE NH/NL Ratio Chart where I show both the "f"ive day average ratio and the 10-day average ratio using the Point and Figure methodology of O (supply outstripping demand) and X (demand outstripping supply).

NYSE NH/NL Ratio Chart - 2% box scale

The NYSE's "f"ive day NH/NL ratio has been slowly retreating from the 32% found on 12/28/07. Having reached a recent inflection high of 40% (on chart) on 12/12/08, this more intermediate-term indicator of bullish/bearish leadership has been trying to stabilize at 22% since 12/24/07.

Should we see the number of NH's exceed 62 and NL's fewer than 300 at the big board, that could be clue of a strong short-term bounce, fueled largely by short covering.

NASDAQ Comp. NH/NL Ratio Chart - 2% box scale

We can see from the NASDAQ's "f"ive day NH/NL ratio that a range is being developed for this short-term indicator of bullish/bearish leadership. Recent 40% inflection highs came on 12/11/07 and 12/28/07 and were one "reason" I thought bulls should protect gains in my 12/24/07 Market Wrap.

I should probably suggest that BEARS be protective of some handsome short-term gains tonight.

Not unlike the NYSE, the NASDAQ's 10-day NH/NL ratio has been treading water around the 28% measure since mid-December.

One additional note regarding some NH and NL indications that should be concerning to BULLS is that Friday's number of new lows among the S&P 500 components had just 7 stocks achieving a new 52-week high, while 134 members saw a new 52-week low trade.

I checked my spreadsheet and that is the largest number of new lows I've observed since I began tracking the S&P 500 components NH and NL on February 27, 2006.

U.S. Market Watch -

The Biotechnology Index (BTK.X) 789.89 +2.10% and Pharmaceutical Index (DRG.X) 342.95 +2.57% were both atop today's list of sector winners.

Shares of Biogen Idec (NASDAQ:BIIB) $59.22 +7.24% once again threaten to reclaim a still rising 200-day SMA after the drug maker said 2007 earnings will be above the top end of its previous estimates and that revenues are expected to rise 15% per year through 2010.

Schnitzer Steel (NASDAQ:SCHN) $61.80 -2.90% plunged as low as $58.19 at the open, but found buyers just above its rising 200-day SMA ($58.12) after the company said earnings rose 17% to $24.7 million, or $0.85 per share in its recently completed first quarter. The company did say it was seeing some pricing pressures in California and that tight global shipping markets could weight on future results.

In Thursday's Market Wrap, I once again touched on the "crack spread" between oil and unleaded gasoline. Tonight's 5-dayNet% and 20-dayNet% would show further deterioration and some narrowing of margins for refiners.

Shares of Valero Energy (NYSE:VLO) $63.70 -0.68% did trade under the $63.00 level, a good entry point for an INITIAL position, say 1/4, but no more than 1/2 position (if you normally buy $10,000 of a stock as FULL position, then perhaps buy $2,500, or $5,000 at this point) but understand for more meaningful strength than the recent inflection high of $72.00, "crack spread" improvement must eventually confirm (see Continuous Unleaded vs. Continuous WTIC chart from Thursday). You can see a FREE chart at StockCharts.com by simply typing $GASO:$WTIC in the symbol field.

I did not profile a CALL Option Trade in today's Market Monitor at OptionInvestor.com for Valero, but would be looking to RISK $3.00/contract (1 contract = $300) in the June'08 $72.50 calls (ZPY-FV). I would want an expiration to at least be found as the summer driving season begins.


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Signs of Recession?

Several sessions ago I mentioned in the OptionInvestor.com Market Monitor that my 2008 forecast was for a "modest recession" to be found in 2008.

In Friday evening's I reviewed some of the various TECHNICAL reasons for why I think that market participants see a "modest recession," where economic indicators would confirm such analysis is April'08.

Of course, this is only from the belief that the market is a FORWARD LOOKING instrument.

Let's first get some updates on the major market bullish % from the institutionally followed data from Dorsey/Wright and Associates.

At the time of this writing, Dorsey/Wright had only tabulated the NYSE Bullish % (BPNYSE), the Over-The-Counter Bullish % (BPOTC) and the S&P 500 Bullish % (BPSPX).

StockChart.com's equivalent symbols would be $BPNYA, $BPCOMQ and $BPSPX.

All we're doing here is measuring the number of point and figure charts that have a "buy signal" still intact on their supply (O) and demand (X) charts.

Major Market Bullish % -

My "modest recession" call still has some work to be done as for any confirmation of that analysis, I would have to see an NYSE Bullish % (BPNYSE) measure of 32%, which would signal further deterioration and a "sell signal" for the more institutionally held stocks listed on the NYSE. There are just more than 3,000 stocks listed on the NYSE, so this is a VERY BROAD indicator of supply (O) and demand (X).

Here perhaps you can begin to see how the BPNYSE seems rather SIMILAR to the NYSE 10-day NH/NL measures.

Measuring two different types of internals, but both weak and nearing "oversold" levels. For the major market bullish %, levels at or above 70% are deemed "overbought," while levels at or below 30% are deemed "oversold."

Also a broad measure would be the BPOTC. Again, just more than 3,000 supply demand charts. One stack containing those charts with a "buy signal" still intact, the other stack containing those charts with a "sell signal" intact. On 11/19/07 the BPOTC generated a "sell signal" at 32% and suggested that supply of stock was outstripping demand on a broader measure.

For the S&P 500 Bullish % (BPSPX), there are now roughly 171 stocks (34.14% of 500 = 170.7) with a PnF "buy signal" intact on the chart, but 329 showing "sell signal" intact on the supply (O) and demand (X) chart.

One reason I see a "modest recession" in 2008 is that I again received multiple email at the beginning of 2008 (as I did 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007) regarding the sell-off of biblical proportions about to happen.

While some "scenarios" of why the U.S. economy as best depicted by the S&P 500 (SPX.X) 1,416.18 +0.22% have been witnessed (ie housing bubble, credit crunch) we are now at some more "oversold" broader market measures and I would then have to think that market participants have largely accounted for some type of economic slowdown.

With most economies always experiencing a cycle (expansion and contraction), the thought of a "modest recession" in 2008 isn't out of the question.

January and Q1 Pivot Levels - High/Low/Close derived

In Thursday's Market Wrap, I showed some historical SPX YEARLY Pivot levels.

The above table is January's MONTHLY Pivot levels, which may bring this month's PRICE action into closer perspective.

We could "zoom out" a bit and take a look at Q1 2008 levels.

Just as we observed in Thursday's Market Wrap that the SPX had just kissed its YEARLY Pivot (1,470), we also see that the SPX has not yet been able to trade its QUARTERLY Pivot (1,483.56), or its MONTHLY Pivot (1,476.19).

One additional level I noted in my 12/03/07 Market Wrap is the Dow Diamonds (DIA) $128.06 -0.08% MONTHLY S1 for January ($129.78).

For me, and perhaps another trader/investor that initiated a 2 million share trade at roughly $128.98, January's MONTHLY S1 becomes important.

Certainly the Russell 2000 ($RUT.X) 723.95 +0.32% ability to trade its MONTHLY S1 would give hint to some U.S. domestic economic weakness.

The thought here is that the bulk of small caps would be more dependent on U.S. economic trends as the bulk of stocks derive most of their revenue and earnings here at home.

Russell 2000 ($RUT) - 10-point box

Most institutional traders and investors will view the $RUT on a 4-point box chart, but for purposes of tonight's Market Wrap, I'm showing its chart on a 10-point box to bring into view some of 2005 and 2006 trade.

The major observation isn't just the new 52-week low, but the violation of some meaningful support that held for all of 2007 with the $RUT having NEVER traded 730.

The ability for the $RUT to trade 730 and now 720 certainly would suggest to this technical analyst (Jeff Bailey) that some more meaningful economic slowing is perceived by market participants.

New Plays

Most Recent Plays

Click here to email James
New Plays
Long Plays
Short Plays
None None

Play Editor's Note: I haven't had a chance to read the wrap yet but I'll throw in my two cents worth. The market's rebound today was laughable at best. However, if you look at an intraday chart you will see that bulls were trying and stocks produced a mini-double bottom intraday today. Don't be surprised to see the market bounce tomorrow.

New Long Plays

None today.

New Short Plays

None today.

Play Updates

Updates On Latest Picks

Click here to email James

Long Play Updates

ArthroCare - ARTC - close: 53.43 change: +1.39 stop: 48.49

Whoops! Looks like we forgot to send ARTC the memo. Shares did not cooperate with our plan to buy a dip. The relative strength today is encouraging but we don't feel like chasing it. Fueling the move was strength in the medical device markers and almost anything related to healthcare. The healthcare sector is normally seen as a safe haven play plus there is a huge J.P.Morgan conference this week highlighting the group. We're going to stick with our plan for now. Our suggested entry point to buy ARTC is the $50.50-49.50 zone. We will place our stop loss at $48.49 to start. Our short-term target is the $54.50-55.00 range, which looks like resistance with the 50-dma and 100-dma hovering nearby.

Picked on January xx at $xx.xx <-- see TRIGGER
Change since picked: + 0.00
Earnings Date 02/14/08 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume: 1.1 million


Intel Corp. - INTC - cls: 22.88 change: +0.21 stop: 22.29*new*

INTC did not cooperate with our plans to buy a dip either. The stock found support at $22.36, which is almost exactly where bulls bought the dip yesterday. INTC's management came out today and said they're not seeing a global slow down. While it's nice to hear there still seems to be a lot of uncertainty in this stock. We're going to get more aggressive with our entry point. Instead of trying to buy a dip near $22.00 we're going to suggest buying the stock here at $22.88 or pretty much anywhere in the $22.50-23.00 region. We'll adjust our stop loss to $22.29. Our target will be the $23.90-24.00 zone. We do not want to hold over the January 15th earnings report (still unconfirmed) and that only gives us six trading days. If INTC does not hit our trigger on Monday we might remove the play.

Picked on January 07 at $22.88
Change since picked: + 0.00
Earnings Date 01/15/08 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume: 57 million


Invest.Tech.Group - ITG - cls: 49.45 chg: +1.46 stop: 45.90

ITG continued to bounce as expected and shares posted a 3% gain on strong volume. The $50 level might offer some resistance so patient traders could try and time an entry on a pull back near $48.00. Our target is the $52.00-52.50 range. We do not want to hold over the late January earnings report. FYI: The P&F chart is bullish with a $65 target.

Picked on January 06 at $47.99
Change since picked: + 1.46
Earnings Date 01/31/08 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume: 606 thousand


Move Inc. - MOVE - cls: 2.29 change: +0.03 stop: 2.14

MOVE did see a continuation of its bounce from Friday but it wasn't very convincing. Shares hit an intraday high of $2.35, which was enough to hit our trigger at $2.32 and open the play. Our target is the $2.65-2.75 range. I apologize. There was some content missing from our weekend comments. Here's what was missing: Just because this is a low dollar stock do not take too big of a position. Don't load up with a lot of shares just because you can. Maintain discipline on not letting any one position create too much risk for your trading account.

Picked on January 07 at $ 2.32 *triggered
Change since picked: - 0.03
Earnings Date 02/21/08 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume: 1.0 million


Ryland Group - RYL - cls: 22.20 chg: -0.04 stop: 19.49

RYL managed a fractional bounce on Monday. We are going to stick with our plan and wait for a dip. RYL is trying to form a bottom with its sideways trading between $20 and $29. Odds are good that the stock will bounce again near support at $20.00. We're suggesting readers buy the dip in the $20.25-20.00 zone. We'll try and reduce our risk with a stop loss under the November low at $19.49. If we are triggered at $20.25 our short-term target is the $23.90-24.00 range. We won't have a lot of time since we plan to exit ahead of the late January earnings report.

Picked on January xx at $xx.xx <-- see TRIGGER
Change since picked: + 0.00
Earnings Date 01/23/08 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume: 1.9 million


XTO Energy - XTO - close: 53.98 chg: +0.79 stop: 51.79

XTO bucked the trend in energy stocks today. Shares added 1.48% and did so on rising volume. The stock looks poised to move higher. We would use today's bounce as a new bullish entry point. More conservative traders or those who want to see more momentum can wait for another rally past $54.00. Our target is the $59.00-60.00 range.

Picked on January 03 at $54.15 *triggered
Change since picked: - 0.17
Earnings Date 02/23/08 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume: 4.1 million

Short Play Updates

Fist Community Bancorp - FCBP - cls: 37.99 chg: +0.49 stop: 41.26

The financials look like they want to bounce. The sector is oversold and due for a correction higher. FCBP could easily rebound back toward $40.00, which should be new resistance. Readers will want to do some profit taking now. A new failed rally under $40 could be used as a new entry point. Our first target is the $35.25-35.00 range. Our second target is the $32.00-30.00 zone. The P&F chart is bearish with a $30 target. FYI: We do not want to hold over the late January earnings report.

Picked on December 30 at $40.80
Change since picked: - 2.81
Earnings Date 01/28/08 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume: 416 thousand


Corning Inc. - GLW - cls: 22.16 change: -0.28 stop: 24.21

GLW continues to under perform. The stock lost 1.24% and did so on above average volume, which is bearish. If GLW does see an oversold bounce the $23 level should be resistance. A failed rally under $23.00 can be used as a new entry point for shorts. Our target is the $21.25-21.00 range. We do not want to hold over the late January earnings report. FYI: The P&F chart is bearish with a $15.00 target. There was virtually zero short interest listed for GLW.

Picked on January 04 at $21.91 *triggered/gap down entry
Change since picked: - 0.75
Earnings Date 01/24/08 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume: 11.7 million


IAC Interactive - IACI - cls: 25.47 chg: +0.18 stop: 27.26

IACI hit new 52-week lows this morning at $24.94. The stock is short-term oversold and we are expecting a bounce. The stock should find resistance in the $26.00-26.50 zone. The stock has already hit our initial target in the $25.50-25.00 range. We are not suggesting new positions at this time. The Head & Shoulders pattern, if it follows through, is forecasting a target in the $22 region. Our second, more aggressive target will be the $22.50 level. The P&F chart is still bullish for now but is on the verge of a breakdown. FYI: The latest data puts short interest at about 4% of the 120 million-share float.

Picked on December 11 at $27.60
Change since picked: - 2.13
Earnings Date 02/06/08 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume: 2.8 million


Medicis Pharma - MRX - close: 26.01 change: +0.10 stop: 26.81

Just about anything healthcare, biotech and drug related was catching a bid today. The healthcare group is traditionally seen as a safe-haven play and the huge healthcare conference going on this week also spotlights the group for investors. MRX produced a minor bounce. We don't see any changes from our weekend comments. More conservative traders may want to exit early to avoid or limit losses. We're waiting to see if the bearish trend of lower highs will hold. MRX is due to present at the big conference it on Tuesday. Our target is the $23.00-22.50 zone. The P&F chart is bearish with a $19 target. FYI: Any time we play a biotech stock we're dealing with a high-risk situation. MRX seems to be more of a drug company but we're still at risk that some FDA decision or some clinical trial news could send the stock gapping one direction or the other. Furthermore the most recent data puts short interest at more than 23% of MRX's 49.2 million-share float. That is a high-degree of short interest and raises the risk for a short squeeze.

Picked on November 18 at $26.08
Change since picked: - 0.07
Earnings Date 02/05/08 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume: 1.2 million


Zoll Medical - ZOLL - close: 25.89 chg: +0.72 stop: 27.01

ZOLL is another stock that is probably getting a bump higher from the focus on healthcare and the big healthcare conference going on. A new all-time high and a 5% gain in stocks like BCR might also be influencing ZOLL. Look for a failed rally under resistance near $27.00 as a new entry point for shorts. We'll suggest taking profits at $24.10 and then again at $22.25. FYI: The P&F chart is bearish with a $17 target. The most recent short interest is at 8% of the stock's small 20 million-share float. That does raise the risk of a short squeeze, especially if ZOLL trades over $27.00.

Picked on January 03 at $25.86
Change since picked: + 0.03
Earnings Date 01/24/08 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume: 257 thousand

Closed Long Plays

Cypress Semi - CY - close: 32.19 change: -2.45 stop: 33.99

CY just got crushed today. The stock broke down under support near $34.00 and lost 7% on the session after testing its 100-dma near $31.25. Semiconductors as a group were weak but today's move may be attributed to the heavy profit taking in the solar energy stocks. Shares of SunPower (SPWR), a subsidiary of CY, lost 6.6%. Our stop loss on CY was $33.99. Believe it or not but if you look at the chart for CY you will notice how the 100-dma has been consistent support in the past. It might be tough to swallow but a bounce from here would look like a new bullish entry point.

Picked on January 03 at $36.02
Change since picked: - 3.83
Earnings Date 01/24/08 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume: 5.6 million

Closed Short Plays

Granite Constr. - GVA - close: 34.57 change: +0.09 stop: 38.26

Target achieved. GVA hit a new six-week low at $33.65 before bouncing into the green. Our target was the $34.00-33.00 range. Shares of GVA are oversold and due for a bigger rebound so be careful if you have not exited yet.

Picked on December 16 at $38.73
Change since picked: - 4.16
Earnings Date 02/11/08 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume: 1.1 million

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


Option Investor Inc is neither a registered Investment Advisor nor a Broker/Dealer. Readers are advised that all information is issued solely for informational purposes and is not to be construed as an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy, nor is it to be construed as a recommendation to buy, hold or sell (short or otherwise) any security. All opinions, analyses and information included herein are based on sources believed to be reliable and written in good faith, but no representation or warranty of any kind, expressed or implied, is made including but not limited to any representation or warranty concerning accuracy, completeness, correctness, timeliness or appropriateness. In addition, we do not necessarily update such opinions, analysis or information. Owners, employees and writers may have long or short positions in the securities that are discussed.

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