Option Investor
Newsletter

Daily Newsletter, Wednesday, 2/9/2011

Table of Contents

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

Market Wrap

Bulls Take A Break...Sort Of

by Todd Shriber

Click here to email Todd Shriber
It was not the most eventful of days as stocks traded lower for most of Wednesday, save a for late day uptick that pared losses on the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 and helped the Dow Jones Industrial Average scratch out its eight consecutive up day. Despite closing lower, the Russell 2000 did find its way to a new 52-week high today.

Stats Table

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke was on Capitol Hill today telling members of the House that the U.S. economy is improving, but that U.S. firms still are not ratcheting up hiring of new staff. That would seem to be an obvious statement in the wake of last Friday's disappointing jobs report and it would also seem obvious to say that the economy needs more folks employed, and at good wages I might add, to truly blossom. For those that believe equity markets are forward looking indicators, then it can be argued that higher payrolls and more robust GDP growth are not too far off.

While today obviously is not Monday, there was a ''Merger Monday'' feel to Wednesday's trading, at least among the companies that operate the world's major securities exchanges. The headlines that got the ball rolling came from outside the U.S. as the London Stock Exchange Group offered to acquire TMX Group, the operator of the Toronto Stock Exchange, for $3.2 billion. LSE's offer values TMX at about 6% above where the shares closed on Tuesday, not a rich premium, but any ensuing drama in this deal promises to flow from other sources.

I echo the sentiments of a Bloomberg News piece that said the deal could face opposition from Canada's government. Remember, it was just a few months ago that Canadian authorities put the kibosh on BHP Billiton's (BHP) $38.6 billion hostile bid for Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan (POT). No, Potash did not want to sell itself to BHP and we can only speculate that had BHP raised its offer, a deal would have been reached. The folks in Ottawa said the deal was not beneficial to Canada. Now our neighbors to the north are faced with another opportunity to show the world their market is not closed to foreign investors seeking acquisitions.

The LSE/TMX news trickled over to the U.S. where shares NYSE Euronext (NYX) were halted for a little while for news pending. The news, originally reported by a German investment newsletter, is that Deutsche Borse AG is in advanced discussions to acquire NYSE Euronext in all-stock deal that would create the world's largest exchange operator.

The combined organization would be home to publicly traded companies worth about $15 trillion, or 28 percent of global stock-market value, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Deutsche Boerse's offer is believed to value the owner of the New York Stock Exchange at 10% above Tuesday's closing price of just over $33.

This latest wave of consolidation in the exchange business should not come as a surprise. Traditional exchanges, both in the U.S. and abroad, have been losing market share for years to electronic exchanges and consolidation is viewed as the best way of boosting their business prospects and their bottom lines.

The combined organization would be home to publicly traded companies worth about $15 trillion, or 28 percent of global stock-market value, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. NYSE Euronext investors apparently liked the news.

NYSE Euronext Chart

In earnings news, shares of Coca-Cola (KO) gained less than half a percent after the world's largest soft drink maker said its fourth-quarter profit more than tripled to $5.77 billion, or $2.46 per share, from $1.54 billion, or 66 cents per share, a year earlier. Excluding one-time items, the Dow component earned 72 cents a share, meeting the consensus estimate. Revenue surged 40% to $10.49 billion, topping the consensus estimate of $10.16 billion.

Global beverage volume rose 6%, but North America was the real story on that front with 8% volume growth. Apparently, consumers are not taking a break from soda, but they are embracing the more healthy variety (if there is such a thing). Atlanta-based Coca-Cola said Coke Zero posted double-digit volume growth for the 19th straight quarter.

The company reported its biggest volume gain in Eurasia and Africa, which rose 14%. Latin America posted a 5% increase, while Europe climbed 2% and the Pacific 1%, according to the Associated Press. At the end of the third quarter, Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway (BRK-A) owned 200 million shares of Coca-Cola.

Coca-Cola Chart

Shares of OpenTable (OPEN) rose slightly after the online restaurant reservations firm said its fourth-quarter profit jumped 65% to $5.1 million, or 21 cents per share, from $3.1 million, or 13 cents per share, a year earlier. Excluding one-time items, the company said it earned 33 cents a share, topping the 22 cents analysts were expecting. Revenue rose to $30.8 million. Analysts were forecasting $30.3 million.

The stock touched an all-time high of $86.20 today before settling at $85.85. That is a fact worth noting if you were a believer in OpenTable from its infancy. Personally, I am neutral and hold no positions, short or long in this name, but I can remember when the company went public in May 2009 that there were a fair amount of skeptics. I even remember getting some crazy emails saying the stock was worth shorting or buying puts on.

Fast-forward almost two years and California-based OpenTable has risen over 400% from its IPO price of $20. That performance sharply bests Nasdaq darlings Amazon (AMZN) and Google (GOOG) and is on par with Apple (AAPL).

OpenTable Chart

Speaking of Nasdaq darlings, or in this case, a former one, Cisco Systems (CSCO), the world's largest provider of networking gear, reported fiscal second-quarter results after the close today, but the problem was not those numbers, it was the company's outlook.

For that quarter, Cisco said it earned 37 cents a share, excluding one-time items while analysts were expecting 35 cents. Revenue rose to $10.4 billion, beating the consensus estimate of $10.2 billion. Cisco posted gross margins of 62.4% while the Street was expecting 63%. That is disappointment Number One. Number Two comes from Cisco's fiscal third-quarter guidance of 6% profit growth while the Street was expecting 8%.

CEO John Chambers said the company is in a ''period of transition,'' but investors' patience for this period may be wearing thin. Cisco has $40 billion in cash and will start paying a dividend this year and that might keep some value hunters interested in the name, but Cisco's lack of focus appears to be hurting the company in the near-term. If it is value you are after, it looks like Cisco will be offering better prices at the open tomorrow as the shares are down 7% in the after-hours session as of this writing.

Cisco Chart

Looking at the charts, the S&P 500 was able to hold above old resistance at 1320 today and even at its lowest point of the day, the index did not drift too far away from that important level. The 1335-1340 area could prove to be resistance as those are heights the S&P 500 has not seen since 2008. Support is moving higher, but for now is 1290-1300.

S&P 500 Chart

Eight straight gains for the Dow could mean a pullback is in the offing, but it is doubtful that it will be too deep. The chart here is simply a thing of beauty and resistance probably will not be an issue until 12,450-12,500. If 12,150 does not hold as support in the event of a pullback, then next support would be 12,000, but I think that may be a stretch.

Dow Chart

I doubt that Cisco alone will be enough to shave nine points off the Nasdaq and take it down to first support at 2780, but it is worth noting that Nasdaq futures were trading lower after Cisco's earnings announcement. If 2780 is violated, then 2765 could be the next stop. If the bulls can regain control here, 2810 is next resistance.

Nasdaq Chart

Is the Russell 2000 back to its role as a leader? I am starting to think the answer to that question is a resounding yes. As I noted earlier, the Index made a new 52-week high today and despite the small loss, is above the 807 resistance area. Almost 16 points remain between the Russell's current resting point and next resistance.

Russell 2000 Chart

In closing, I would not be alarmed by Wednesday's lackluster action. Mergers and acquisitions activity is obviously alive and well and the January/February time frame is once again proving rewarding for income investors with a healthy amount of dividend increases. 3M (MMM) and Polo Ralph Lauren are among the more noteworthy dividend raisers in the last two days. These are anecdotes that bode well for more upside.

Speaking of upside anecdotes, I certainly would have delivered this on Monday, my usual day for the wrap, as it would have been more appropriate the day after the Super Bowl. Alas, here it is for Wednesday consumption, but it is no less compelling: When the Green Bay Packers win the Super Bowl, the average gain for the S&P 500 from the trading day following the game through the end of the year is 16%, according to Bespoke Investment Group. Too bad the Pittsburgh Steelers did not win. The S&P 500 gains an average of almost 19% when that team hoists the Lombardi Trophy.


New Plays

Rising Healthcare

by James Brown

Click here to email James Brown

Editor's Note:

In addition to tonight's new candidate, these stocks caught my eye and might turn out to be potential bullish trades. You'll need to check for potential earnings dates. MCRS, MANT, ZEUS, EAT and LPX look tempting. LPX is due to report earnings on Feb. 10th.

- James


NEW BULLISH Plays

Lincare Holdings Inc. - LNCR - close: 28.37 change: -0.13

Stop Loss: 26.90
Target(s): 29.90, 31.75
Current Gain/Loss: unopened
Time Frame: 6 to 8 weeks
New Positions: Yes, see trigger

Company Description

Why We Like It:
The healthcare sector has seen some rocky and volatile moves higher this year but the trend is higher. Now that LNCR has broken out over key resistance near $28.00 the stock could try and catch up to its peers. I am suggesting we open small bullish positions on a dip at $28.00 with a stop loss at $26.90. If triggered our targets are $29.90 and $31.75. Take note that LNCR will probably see some resistance near $29.25 and the $30.00 levels.

FYI: The Point & Figure chart for LNCR is bullish with a $40 target. Plus, investors will be interested to note that LNCR has relatively high short interest. The most recent data listed short interest at 11.6% of the 86-million share float. With the recent breakout this stock could see a short squeeze.

Trigger @ 28.00

- Small Positions Only -

Suggested Position: Buy LNCR stock @ 28.00

- or -

Buy the March $29.00 calls (LNCR1119C29) current ask $0.85

Annotated chart:

Entry on February xx at $xx.xx
Earnings Date 04/19/11 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume: 932 thousand
Listed on February 9th, 2010


In Play Updates and Reviews

FLIR & WFMI Rise Into Earnings

by James Brown

Click here to email James Brown

Editor's Note:
Two of our bullish candidates outperformed the major indices today, rising into the closing bell. FLIR disappointed and is trading lower after hours. WFMI beat estimates and guided higher and shares are sharply higher after hours. Meanwhile I have removed Agilent as a candidate and ADSK has hit our trigger to open bullish positions.

-James

Current Portfolio:


BULLISH Play Updates

Alcoa Inc - AA - close: 17.16 change: -0.24

Stop Loss: 15.75
Target(s): 18.50, 19.75
Current Gain/Loss: unopened
Time Frame: 6 to 8 weeks
New Positions: Yes, see trigger

Comments:
02/09 update: AA slipped toward the $17.00 level but the dip wasn't deep enough. There is no change from my prior comments. Right now the plan is to open bullish positions at $16.65. You could use a dip into the $16.65-16.00 zone as your entry point. If triggered we'll start with a stop at $15.75. Our upside targets are $18.50 and $19.90. The early 2010 high near $17.60 will probably be short-term resistance but the trend for AA looks pretty healthy.

Trigger @ 16.65

Suggested Position: Buy AA stock @ 16.65

- or -

Buy the March $17.00 calls (AA1119C17) current ask $0.84

Entry on February xx at $xx.xx
Earnings Date 04/11/11 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume: 41 million
Listed on February 2nd, 2010


Autodesk, Inc. - ADSK - close: 42.24 change: -0.69

Stop Loss: 39.90
Target(s): 46.00
Current Gain/Loss: + 0.3%
Time Frame: 2 weeks
New Positions: see below

Comments:
02/09 update: Good news! ADSK's dip slipped to $42.03. That was enough to open our trade, given the trigger at $42.10. I would still consider new positions now at current levels or on a dip near the 30-dma (around $41). This is a short-term, two-week trade. ADSK is due to report earnings in late February and we do not want to hold over the announcement.

Current Position: Long ADSK stock @ 42.10

- or -

Long the March $45 call (ADSK1119C45) Entry @ $0.90

chart:

Entry on February 9 at $42.10
Earnings Date 02/23/11 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume: 2.5 million
Listed on February 7th, 2010


AnnTaylor Stores - ANN - close: 23.79 change: -0.01

Stop Loss: 20.95
Target(s): 25.90, 27.85
Current Gain/Loss: unopened
Time Frame: 6 to 8 weeks
New Positions: Yes, see trigger

Comments:
02/09 update: Our new play on ANN did not see any progress. Shares are still struggling near the $24.00 level. Right now our plan is to launch bullish positions on a dip at $23.00. More cautious traders could wait for a dip closer to the $22.00 area.

If triggered we'll use a stop loss at $20.95. Our targets are $25.90 and $27.85. FYI: The P&F chart is still long-term bullish in spite of the January correction.

Trigger @ 23.00

Suggested Position: Buy ANN stock @ $23.00

- or -

Buy the March $22.50 calls (ANN1119C22.5) current ask $2.35

Entry on February xx at $xx.xx
Earnings Date 03/11/11 (confirmed)
Average Daily Volume: 3.0 million
Listed on February 8th, 2010


Hansen Natural Corp. - HANS - close: 55.07 change: -0.60

Stop Loss: 53.40
Target(s): 59.50
Current Gain/Loss: - 0.8%
Time Frame: 6 to 8 weeks
New Positions: see below

Comments:
02/09 update: HANS dipped to the Monday, Jan. 31st low before trying to bounce late this afternoon. While this pull back near $55 looks like a new entry point readers may want to hold out for a dip closer to the $54.00 mark before initiating new positions. Small positions only to limit our risk.

- Small Positions to limit our risk -

Current Position: HANS stock @ $55.54

01/29 Exit call positions early. @ $1.15 (-23.3%)
01/26 the CBOE listed the MAR $60 call's open @ $1.50

Entry on January 26 at $55.54
Earnings Date 02/24/11 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume: 654 thousand
Listed on January 25th, 2010


Oracle Corp. - ORCL - close: 32.89 change: -0.14

Stop Loss: 31.40
Target(s): 34.90
Current Gain/Loss: + 0.8%
Time Frame: 6 to 8 weeks
New Positions: see below

Comments:
02/09 update: ORCL traded in a 50-cent range today. There is no change from my prior comments. I'd prefer to launch new positions on a dip closer to the $32.00 level.

Our target on ORCL is the $34.90 mark since $35.00 looks like the next level of resistance.

small positions to limit our risk.

Current Position: ORCL stock @ $32.62

- or -

Long the 2011 March $33 calls (ORCL1119C33) Entry @ $0.80

01/29 Consider an early exit, especially the calls.
01/27 The CBOE listed the open for our calls at $0.80

Entry on January 27 at $32.62
Earnings Date 03/24/11 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume: 27 million
Listed on January 26th, 2010


The TJX Companies - TJX - close: 49.37 change: -0.47

Stop Loss: 46.49
Target(s): 52.00, 54.50
Current Gain/Loss: unopened
Time Frame: 2 to 3 weeks
New Positions: Yes, see trigger

Comments:
02/09 update: We have been looking for TJX to hit $50 and pull back. It looks like the pull back may have started today. We want to be ready to buy the dip at $48.00 with a stop loss at $46.49. TJX has earnings in about two and a half weeks and we'll exit ahead of the report. We'll be aiming for $52.00 and $54.50.


FYI: The Point & Figure chart for TJX is bullish with a $62 target.

Trigger @ 48.00

Suggested Position: buy TJX stock @ $48.00

- or -

Buy the March $50.00 calls (TJX1119C50) current ask $1.30

Entry on February xx at $xx.xx
Earnings Date 02/23/11 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume: 3.4 million
Listed on February 5th, 2010


UnitedHealth Group - UNH - close: 42.07 change: +0.10

Stop Loss: 40.75
Target(s): 44.75
Current Gain/Loss: + 2.2%
Time Frame: 8 to 10 weeks
New Positions: see below

Comments:
02/09 update: For the third day in a row shares of UNH traded sideways in a narrow range near the $42 level. I am not suggesting new positions at this time.

Current Position: UNH stock @ $41.15

- or -

Long the 2011 March $42 calls (UNH1119C42) Entry @ $1.20

02/08: New stop loss @ 40.75

Entry on January 28 at $41.15
Earnings Date 01/20/11 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume: 5.9 million
Listed on January 20th, 2010


BEARISH Play Updates

Endo Pharmaceuticals - ENDP - close: 34.77 change: +0.20

Stop Loss: 35.40
Target(s): 31.00, 30.10
Current Gain/Loss: - 0.7%
Time Frame: 3 to 4 weeks
New Positions: see below

Comments:
02/09 update: ENDP tried to rally again but failed near its 50-dma for the third time in four days. I remain very cautious here and would be tempted to exit early right now. I am not suggesting new bearish positions at this time.

Current Position: Short ENDP stock @ 34.50

- or -

Long the 2011 February $35 PUT (ENDP1119N35) Entry @ $1.30

02/03 Consider an early exit now
02/01 New stop loss @ 35.40

Entry on January 27 at $34.50
Earnings Date 02/22/11 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume: 1.3 million
Listed on January 24th, 2010


CLOSED BULLISH PLAYS

Agilent Technologies - A - close: 43.43 change: -0.74

Stop Loss: 39.95
Target(s): 47.50
Current Gain/Loss: unopened
Time Frame: 1 week
New Positions: Yes, see trigger

Comments:
02/09 update: I am temporarily giving up on A as a candidate. I still think the stock has potential but we just didn't have enough time. The company is due to report earnings on Monday night and we don't want to hold over the announcement.

Our trade never opened.

Entry on February xx at $xx.xx
Earnings Date 02/14/11 (confirmed)
Average Daily Volume: 3.3 million
Listed on February 5th, 2010


FLIR Systems Inc. - FLIR - close: 32.46 change: +0.07

Stop Loss: 31.40
Target(s): 30.90, 33.00
Current Option Gain/Loss: +11.5%
Time Frame: exit before earnings
New Positions: see below

Comments:
02/09 update: Time is up! It was our plan to exit today at the close. Shares bounced from the $32 level to close near the top of its short-term trading range. The stock looks poised to breakout higher but that will depend on the company's earnings results.

Wall Street was expecting a profit of 44 cents a share. FLIR missed by a penny but revenues were stronger than expected. Guidance was only in-line with expectations. Shares of FLIR appear to be trading down near $30 after hours, but they are recovering.

Current Position: Long FLIR stock @ $29.10

02/09: Planned Exit. FLIR ended @ 32.46 (+11.5%)
02/08: New stop loss @ 31.40
02/03: New stop loss @ 30.90
02/01: New stop loss @ 30.40
01/29 Exit remaining call positions. option @ 1.80 (+12.5%)
01/29: New stop loss @ 29.75
01/28: 1st Target Hit @ 30.90 (+6.1%), option @ $2.00 (+25%)
01/25: New stop @ 28.90
01/19: Consider an early exit from the option position (bid $1.30)
01/15: New stop loss @ 28.49
01/10: FLIR provided another entry point near $28.50
01/08: New stop loss @ 27.90

chart:

Entry on December 22 at $29.10
Earnings Date 02/09/11 (confirmed)
Average Daily Volume: 1.6 million
Listed on December 18th, 2010


Whole Foods Market, Inc. - WFMI - close: 53.75 change: +0.84

Stop Loss: 50.95
Target(s): 57.50, 59.90
Current Gain/Loss: + 1.9%
Time Frame: Just a few days
New Positions: see below

Comments:
02/09 update: The trading gods were kind to us and WFMI outperformed on Wednesday with a +1.5% gain. Today was our last day. We wanted to exit at the close to avoid the risk of holding over the earnings announcement.

After hours WFMI reported earnings that were 5 cents better than expected. Management guided higher and the stock was trading significantly higher after hours (near $58/share). They could have just as easily missed and guided lower and been trading under $50 after hours. As it stands now WFMI will probably gap open higher. I would keep this stock on your radar screen. We may come back to it after the dust settles.

Our plan was to keep our positions small to limit our risk.

- Small Positions to Limit our Risk -

Closed Position: WFMI stock @ 52.70, Exit 53.75 (+1.99%)

- or -

February $55 calls (WFMI1119B55) Entry @ $1.31, Exit $1.83 (+39.6%)

02/09: Planned Exit. WFMI ended at $53.75 (+1.9%) Option +39.6%
02/08: New stop loss @ 50.95

chart:

Entry on February 2 at $52.70
Earnings Date 02/09/11 (confirmed)
Average Daily Volume: 1.8 million
Listed on February 1st, 2010