Option Investor
Newsletter

Daily Newsletter, Thursday, 12/3/2015

Table of Contents

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

Market Wrap

Euro Short Squeeze

by Thomas Hughes

Click here to email Thomas Hughes
The ECB did indeed expand their QE program, what they did not do was meet the market's expectations.

Introduction

There is a lot to go over today but let me start with today's top story, the ECB meeting. The European Central Bank ended their December policy meeting this morning and announced their plans. They did indeed increase their QE efforts but in a way that surprised the market. The bank held it's benchmark rate steady but lowered the deposit rate by 10 basis points to -0.30%. In addition to this they announced that they would keep asset purchases at 60 billion euros monthly but extended the duration until March of 2017 at least. They also announced that they would be reinvesting the interest payments from assets. The bank also raised its outlook for GDP over the next 2 years but is worried about the slow pace of inflation stating they they wanted to see signs of sustained inflation growth before ending QE.

Market Statistics

The news was a surprise to the market and caught euro traders in a massive short squeeze that added 3 handles to the EUR/USD pair. This move appears to confirm support at the 1.0500 level but with the NFP data coming out tomorrow and the FOMC meeting two weeks away it may be setting the pair up for another move lower. Regardless of how they did it, the ECB did increase QE and the FOMC is still expected to tighten policy, a combination that has until today strengthened the dollar and weakened the euro.


International markets were mixed going into the ECB announcement and press conference. The Asian indices closed flat except for the Shanghai which gained a little over 1.25%. European markets were largely higher ahead of the announcement and then reversed their gains following it. The DAX fell more than -3%.

Futures trading indicated a positive open for our markets most of the morning. The trade was strong ahead of the ECB announcement, indicating an open near 1% higher than yesterday's close, but fell to break even levels afterward. From then until the open of today's session futures wavered, slipping into negative territory several times only to find support and move back into the green.

The indices moved higher immediately following the opening bell but not far. The SPX met resistance within the first few minutes of trading and by 9:45 had fallen into negative territory. The morning low was hit by 10:20 at which time the indices made a small bounce and began trading sideways, just below yesterday's closing level.

The sidewinding only lasted about an hour. By mid-lunch the bears were back out and pushing prices lower. The indices began a slow march that took them down nearly -2% in most cases. Bottom was hit by late afternoon, a small bounce ensued, but not enough to regain today's losses. By the end of trading the SPX had only regained a few points and closed with a loss near -1.5%.

Economic Calendar

The Economy

There was quite a bit of economic data today as well. The Challenger, Gray & Christmas report on planned lay-offs started us off. It shows that planned lay-offs fell -39% from October to November and is sitting at a 14 month low. This is of course following 4 months of heavy cuts. On a year over year basis the November data is down -14% but nevertheless year to date cuts are still running at a 6 year high. Year to date cuts are running close to 575,000, 28% higher than last year at this time.

Now, to put those numbers into perspective. The previous high, in 2009, was over 1.2 million job cuts, double this years expected total. Also, the cuts we have seen this year are primarily in 5 sectors which account for 60% of the total. These are, in order from largest to smallest contributor; energy, government, retail, computer and industrial goods.

Job cuts in energy we can discount because most of those are due to low oil prices, not declining economics, and not really comparable on a year over year basis; the YTD total in the sector is up 708% from last year. Retail and Computers can also be discounted to some extent as these are due to restructurings which as seen as a positive for their sectors. In terms of computers most of those cuts were done by Hewlett Packard pre-spin-off and Microsoft when it wrote off its investment in Nokia. In this light yes, there are a rising number of job cuts but no, it doesn't look too alarming.


Initial claims for unemployment rose slightly this week from last week's not revised figure, in line with expectations. This week claims gained 9,000 to hit 269,000, the four week moving average fell by -1,750 to 269,250. On a not adjusted basis claims fell by -14% versus an expected -16.9%, year over year the not revised figure is down -11%. The largest increases in claims were in California and Illinois, +7941 and +3617, while the largest declines were reported by Louisiana and Rhode Island, -792 and -207. Initial claims data continues to trend near the long term lows and remains consistent with a healthy labor market.


Continuing claims also moved higher adding 6,000, however, last weeks figure was revised lower by -50,000 so the net difference is a decline from last week's report. Continuing claims are now at 2.161 million and holding relatively steady at the long term low. These figures continue to show a labor market in which long term unemployment and turnover rates are low.

The total number of Americans claiming unemployment also rose in this week's report, adding over 100,000 to hit 2.059 million, an 11 week high. This is mildly alarming but based on historical data not unexpected, there is usually a rise in total claims going into the end of the year. Despite the gains the total number of claims remains low by historical standards and consistent with labor market health.


Factory order rose more than expected following two months of declines. October factory orders rose 1.5%, slightly ahead of the 1.2% expected by the analysts. Within the report unfilled orders rose 0.3% while inventories fell by -0.1%. This is the 4th consecutive month of declining inventories.

The Services Sector ISM came in at 55.9, down 3.2 points from last month and below expectations for a reading of 58.5. Within the report all three sub indices declined as well. Business activity fell to 58.2%, New Orders fell to 57.5% and the Employment Index fell to 55%. Despite the declines the headline number and sub-indices still reflect a growing economy, just as a slower pace than last month.

Tomorrow is the all-important NFP release, along with the unemployment rate, average hourly earnings and workweek. Based on the ADP report I would expect the number to be steady to strong in the 200K+ range. Unemployment levels may tick up due to increased levels of Total Claims. Regardless, it will take a huge miss for this data to derail the recovery. A weak number may however alter expectations for the Fed rate hike.

The Oil Index

Oil prices spiked today on a report that the Saudis were going to make a proposal at tomorrow's OPEC meeting to curb production in 2016. WTI and Brent both spiked more than 4% on the news but gains were tempered later in the day when another report, citing a different high ranking Saudi official, said the idea of OPEC supporting prices through production cuts was baseless. WTI settled with a gain near 3% but remains near below $42. There could be some big moves in oil tomorrow and next week depending on what happens with the OPEC meeting. Until then supply and production are high and demand is low.

The Oil Index tried to rally with oil but wasn't able to do it. The index moved up to hit the 30 day moving average and met resistance which drove prices back down to below yesterday's close. Today's action breaks support at 1,175 and is approaching firmer support targets near 1,150. The indicators are pointing lower with momentum on the rise so a test of 1,150 is likely to come in the least. A break below this level could take the index down to the long term low near 1,025.


The Gold Index

Gold prices tried to rally on the back of the ECB decision and managed to eek out a gain of 0.7%. The ECB decision and wild rally in the EUR/USD has pushed dollar values down, giving gold its lift, but the effect may not last long. Despite disappointing the market the ECB has still increased QE, and indicated it will add more as needed, and the FOMC is still expected to raise rates, so the dollar rally is likely to resume. I remain bearish on gold and do not think we have seen the bottom yet.

The miners have been holding relatively well in light of gold prices hitting 6 year lows. The miners ETF has been trending near its long term lows but has not set a new low since September. It is possible that the miners are indicating a rise in gold prices but I think it more likely to be the other way around; gold is leading the miners lower. The indicators are pointing higher but momentum is very weak, the ETF was unable to cross the short term moving average today and the overall trend is down so I see it testing support again, if not breaking it.


In The News, Story Stocks and Earnings

Kroger reported earnings before the bell. The food retail giant reported record results, better than expectations, and raised full year guidance. EPS of $0.43 is 20% higher than last year and 10% above projections. Sales increased only 0.4% over the same period last year due to lower retail prices for fuel but other segments of business were quite strong. Ex-fuel comparable sales grew more than 5%. Shares of the stock jumped on the news and gained nearly 5% to hit a new all time high.


Dollar General also reported before the bell. The discount chain reported earnings slightly above estimates on revenue that fell slightly short. The news that helped drive the stock higher is the strength in sales, up 7.3% over last year, and guidance which was affirmed in-line with estimates. Shares of the stock gained more than 4.15% and are trading at a one month high.


Shares of Yahoo! fell more than -4% today as the board of directors deliberates on what to do with the business. A sale of the core seems to be the most likely outcome but other possibilities exist as well. As of this posting there is no word on their decision. The list of potential buyers has firmed up with reports that NewsCorp, Verizon and IAC are interested. Today's action confirmed resistance near $35.50 and looks set to take the stock back down near $32.50.


The Indices

The indices sold off again today. The move was led by the Dow Jones Transportation Index which closed with a loss of -1.80%. Today's candle is long and black and set a new two month low. The indicators are pointing lower with rising momentum so it looks like this move will continue. However, even though they are pointing lower the indication are weak and more consistent with a move within a trading range than not. Downside target is the bottom of the 4 month trading range near 7,750 with a possible move to 7,500 if first target doesn't hold.


The NASDAQ Composite made the next largest decline, nearly -1.7%. The tech heavy index made its largest decline in two months and is now sitting on the short term moving average with potentially strong support just below along the long term up trend line. The indicators have made a bearish crossover and are pointing lower so a test of support is likely. I am bullish looking into next quarter and next year (only 4 weeks away) so any pull backs and tests of support remain buying opportunities in my opinion.


The next largest decline was in the S&P 500. The broad market fell -1.42% in a move that broke the short term 30 day moving average but was stopped at the 2,050 support level. The indicators are pointing lower with rising momentum so it looks like support will be tested further with a possible move below to the long term trend line. The long term trend is still up and current action appears to be a consolidation/sector rotation ahead of the anticipated rate hike, next earnings season and next year.


The Dow Jones Industrial Average made the smallest decline in today's session, -1.41%. The blue chips broke support at 17,600 and the short term moving average with bearish indicators and downside target near 17,200. A break below my support target could take the index down to the long term trend line near 16,750. The long term trend is still up but near to short term action may remain mixed up to and until the market focuses on expected earnings growth.


The market sold off today there is no doubt about that. The move was more in response to the ECB's failure to meet full market expectations than it was to anything else. The ECB added to QE, just not as much or quite in the way the market expected. Over the past 5 years QE has led to one rally after another and this addition is more than likely going to do the same. On top of that expectations for next year remain stable with revenue and earnings growth expected for all 10 S&P sectors. With that in mind I find it hard to expect a bear market.

The fact that we have one more quarter of negative growth to look forward is likely going to keep the market churning in the near term but it looks like the market could be in a sector rotation. This rotation could last for several more weeks at least, up to and until next earnings season begins and/or outlook brightens. Needless to say I am still bullish on the economy, earnings and the market and a buyer of dips.

In between now and then is the FOMC meeting. They are expected to raise rates, tomorrow's NFP could easily affect the speculation. If the data looks like a rate hike is guaranteed the dollar could easily regain a lot of the ground it lost today.

Until then, remember the trend!

Thomas Hughes

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New Plays

The Biggest Entertainment Launch Of The Year

by James Brown

Click here to email James Brown


NEW BULLISH Plays

Activision Blizzard, Inc. - ATVI - close: 37.62 change: -0.76

Stop Loss: 36.40
Target(s): To Be Determined
Current Gain/Loss: Unopened
Entry on December -- at $---.--
Listed on December 03, 2015
Time Frame: Exit prior to ATVI earnings in early February
Average Daily Volume = 10.0 million
New Positions: Yes, see below

Company Description

Trade Description:
The movie industry gets a lot of press but the video game market is much bigger. One of the biggest companies in this arena is ATVI and they're about to get a lot bigger.

ATVI is part of the technology sector. According to the company, "Activision Blizzard, Inc. is the largest and most profitable western interactive entertainment publishing company. It develops and publishes some of the most successful and beloved entertainment franchises in any medium, including Call of Duty, Call of Duty Online, Destiny, Skylanders, World of Warcraft, StarCraft®, Diablo®, and Hearthstone. Headquartered in Santa Monica, California, it maintains operations throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia. Activision Blizzard develops and publishes games on all leading interactive platforms and its games are available in most countries around the world."

Revenues for a video game company like ATVI tend to be lumpy based on new releases throughout the year. The company has managed to beat Wall Street's estimates on the bottom line the last four quarters in a row.

On November 2nd, 2015, ATVI announced they had signed a $5.9 billion deal to buy King Digital Entertainment (symbol: KING). This deal should give ATVI a huge boost in its mobile gaming footprint and could add a significant chunk to earnings in 2016. A Wedbush analyst believes the mobile gaming market is about $24 billion and growing at up to 20% a year for the next five years. They see the KING acquisition as a great fit for ATVI.

Several days later, on November 11th, ATVI announced that their new Call of Duty: Black Ops III game was the biggest entertainment launch of the year with a three-day opening weekend sales above $550 million. That surpassed any other entertainment launch of the year including books, music, or movies (surpassing the movie Jurassic World's massive opening weekend).

Recently a Cowen analyst said videogames are going to be another hot seller this year and they listed ATVI as their top pick in the industry. Multiple analysts have upgraded their stock price on ATVI following the KING acquisition news. Shares of ATVI have shown significant strength this year. The stock is trading at all-time highs and up +86% year to date. The point & figure chart is bullish and forecasting at $49.50 target.

Today's widespread market decline sparked some profit taking in ATVI. The stock found support at its rising 10-dma. If shares bounce from here we want to jump on board. Tonight we are suggesting a trigger to launch bullish positions at $38.15.

Trigger @ $38.15

- Suggested Positions -

Buy ATVI stock @ $38.15

- (or for more adventurous traders, try this option) -

Buy the FEB $40 CALL (ATVI160219C40) current ask $1.33
option price is a current quote and not a suggested entry price.

Entry disclaimer: To avoid an unfavorable entry point, we will not launch a new play if the stock gaps open more than $1.00 past our suggested entry point.

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

Daily Chart:

Weekly Chart:



In Play Updates and Reviews

Stocks Not Happy With ECB Stimulus

by James Brown

Click here to email James Brown

Editor's Note:
Investors were expecting the European Central Bank to really wow them with an impressive jump in new QE and stimulus. That didn't happen. The ECB did make modifications but it was underwhelming. The U.S. market reacted poorly with a very widespread sell-off. Surprisingly only our ETN trade was stopped out.


Current Portfolio:


BULLISH Play Updates

Autodesk, Inc. - ADSK - close: 64.41 change: -0.14

Stop Loss: 61.75
Target(s): To Be Determined
Current Gain/Loss: Unopened
Entry on December -- at $---.--
Listed on December 01, 2015
Time Frame: 6 to 8 weeks
Average Daily Volume = 3.5 million
New Positions: Yes, see below

Comments:
12/03/15: ADSK weathered the market's storm today pretty well. Shares traded sideways in the $64.19-64.99 zone and closed with a -0.2% decline versus the NASDAQ's -1.6% decline.

Our suggested entry trigger is $65.25.

Trade Description: December 1, 2015:
It has been a bumpy ride for ADSK investors this year. The company is in the middle of a transition from selling perpetual software licenses to selling subscriptions. It's a move that mirrors larger rival Adobe Systems's (ADBE) transition to a subscription model.

If you're not familiar with ADSK they are in the technology sector. According to the company, "Autodesk, Inc., is a leader in 3D design, engineering and entertainment software. Since its introduction of AutoCAD software in 1982, Autodesk continues to develop the broadest portfolio of 3D software for global markets. Customers across the manufacturing, architecture, building, construction, and media and entertainment industries-including the last 19 Academy Award winners for Best Visual Effects-use Autodesk software to design, visualize, and simulate their ideas before they're ever built or created. From blockbuster visual effects and buildings that create their own energy, to electric cars and the batteries that power them, the work of our 3D software customers is everywhere you look."

Year to date the stock is up +7.7%. Yet ADSK is up +53% from its October 2015 low. What's driving the rally? It's certainly not revenue growth. The company tends to beat Wall Street's bottom line earnings estimates but revenues have been soft. The company has lowered their guidance multiple times this year.

Their most recent earnings report was November 19th. ADSK reported Q3 results of $0.14 a share. That beat expectations. Revenues fell -2.9% to $600 million. Management lowered their Q4 guidance. Yet they raised their 2016 outlook for the first time in several months. The improved 2016 outlook certainly helped. There was a brief sell-off in the stock (Nov. 20th) but ADSK quickly recovered.

One of the main reasons ADSK has performed so well lately is the market's hope that two major activists investors will do something to unlock more value. Eminence Capital owns a 5.8% stake in ADSK. Sachem Head Capital recently disclosed at 5.7% stake. The two activist funds have teamed up together (a combined stake of 11.5%). Expectations that these activists will drive change in ADSK has fueled a significant rally.

Today shares of ADSK have rallied toward major resistance at the $65.00 level. A breakout here would reaffirm that the bullish trend is still intact. The point & figure chart is bullish and forecasting a long-term target at $103. We want to hop on board if ADSK can break through the $65.00 level. Tonight we are suggesting a trigger to launch positions at $65.25. The stock can be somewhat volatile so I am suggesting small positions to limit risk.

Trigger @ $65.25 *small positions to limit risk*

- Suggested Positions -

Buy ADSK stock @ $65.25

- (or for more adventurous traders, try this option) -

Buy the JAN $67.5 CALL (ADSK160115C67.5)

Entry disclaimer: To avoid an unfavorable entry point, we will not launch a new play if the stock gaps open more than $1.00 past our suggested entry point.

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


FMC Corp. - FMC - close: 41.92 change: +0.78

Stop Loss: 39.85
Target(s): To Be Determined
Current Gain/Loss: -2.6%
Entry on November 25 at $43.05
Listed on November 18, 2015
Time Frame: 6 to 8 weeks
Average Daily Volume = 1.6 million
New Positions: see below

Comments:
12/03/15: FMC bucked the market's down trend today. Shares rallied +1.89% and almost erased yesterday's losses. I am encouraged by today's relative strength but no new positions at this time.

Trade Description: November 18, 2015:
Shares of FMC have been struggling for a couple of years. The stock peaked near $83.00 in early 2014. Since then FMC traded at a low near $32.60 in late September this year. FMC's performance over the last couple of months looks like the stock has bottomed.

FMC is in the basic materials sector. According to the company, "For more than a century, FMC Corporation has served the global agricultural, industrial and consumer markets with innovative solutions, applications and quality products. FMC acquired Cheminova in April of 2015. Pro forma revenue totaled approximately $4.5 billion in 2014. FMC employs approximately 6,600 people throughout the world and operates its businesses in three segments: FMC Agricultural Solutions, FMC Health and Nutrition and FMC Lithium."

The earnings picture has been disappointing over the last several months. The company reported its Q1 results on May 5th and missed on both the top and bottom line. Management lowered their guidance. FMC's Q2 results were not much better with the company missing analysts' estimates on both the top and bottom line again.

On October 12th FMC warned that Q3 earnings would take a hit due to currency weakness in Brazil. Here's an excerpt from the company's press release, "FMC Corporation (FMC) today announced that, due to the recent rapid devaluation of the Brazilian real, the company is reducing third-quarter and full-year outlook for its Agricultural Solutions segment... A rapid devaluation of the Brazilian real, which depreciated over 50 percent versus the U.S. dollar in the past 12 months, and over 25 percent versus the U.S. dollar during the third quarter alone, has created significant headwinds that will continue to impact Agricultural Solutions segment earnings in the second half of 2015."

Shares of FMC plunged on this news from $37.50 to $35.00 but investors bought the dip. Earnings came out on October 28th. After warning in mid October their final results were above expectations. Q3 earnings fell from 72 cents a year ago to 42 cents but that beat the 38-cent estimate. Revenues were up +1.4% to $830.7 million, which was also above estimates. FMC rallied on this report.

Investors bought the recent dip (last week) and since then FMC has been showing relative strength. The rally has produced a triple-top breakout buy signal on FMC's point & figure chart, which now projects a $57.00 target. The relative strength continued today with a +2.6% gain and a breakout past short-term resistance at $43.00 and its 100-dma.

It's starting to look like all the bad news has been priced in and investors are betting on a turnaround in the company. The stock's recent rallies have been fueled with strong volume, which is normally a good sign. Tonight we are suggesting a trigger to launch bullish positions at $43.55. (Note: FMC is up five days in a row. Patient investors may want to wait for a dip before initiating new positions instead of our trigger at $43.55).

- Suggested Positions -

Long FMC stock @ $43.05

- (or for more adventurous traders, try this option) -

Long JAN $45 CALL (FMC160115C45) entry $1.20

11/25/15 triggered @ $43.05
11/24/15 adjust entry trigger from $43.55 to $43.05
Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike


Microsoft Inc. - MSFT - close: 54.20 change: -1.01

Stop Loss: 53.20
Target(s): To Be Determined
Current Gain/Loss: -0.7%
Entry on November 04 at $54.60
Listed on November 03, 2015
Time Frame: 6 to 8 weeks.
Average Daily Volume = 35.4 million
New Positions: see below

Comments:
12/03/15: After ending yesterday near multi-year highs the stock was hit with profit taking today. MSFT fell -1.8% but managed to find some support near the $54.00 level.

No new positions at this time.

Trade Description: November 3, 2015:
MSFT is more than just a software company. MSFT is in the technology sector. It is considered part of the business software industry. According to the company, "Microsoft is the leading platform and productivity company for the mobile-first, cloud-first world, and its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more."

The company is run under three segments. They have their productivity and business processes segment. This includes commercial office software, personal office software, and more. One of their fastest growing segments is MSFT's Intelligent Cloud business, which includes their server software and enterprise services. Then they have their "More Personal Computing" segment. This includes their Windows operating software, MSN display advertising, Windows phones, smartphones, tablets, PC accessories, Internet search, and their Xbox platform.

The stock has been dead money for almost a year. MSFT peaked near round-number resistance at $50.00 back in November 2014. Shares channeled sideways between support at $40 and resistance at $50 for months. That changed last month.

MSFT reported its 2016 Q1 results on October 22nd. Analysts were expecting a profit of $0.59 a share on revenues of $21.04 billion. MSFT beat both estimates with a profit of $0.67 a share. Revenues came in at $21.66 billion. Their Intelligent Cloud segment saw sales rise +8% but it was actually +14% on a constant currency basis.

Shares of MSFT soared the next day with a surge to 15-year highs. The big rally is based on investors' belief that MSFT and its relatively new management is successfully transitioning away from declining PC sales and moving quickly towards the cloud (and mobile).

Normally I would hesitate to buy a stock like MSFT after a big gap higher. Too often stocks tend to fill the gap. However, shares of MSFT have been able to levitate sideways in the $52.50-54.50 zone as traders keep buying the dips. Odds are growing we could see MSFT rally toward its all-time highs near $60.00 a share from December 1999. The big gain in October produced a buy signal on the point & figure chart, which is now forecasting a long-term target of $82.00. Tonight we are suggesting a trigger to launch bullish positions at $54.60.

- Suggested Positions -

Long MSFT stock @ $54.60

- (or for more adventurous traders, try this option) -

Long 2016 JAN $55 CALL (MSFT160115C55) entry $1.54

12/01/15 new stop @ $53.20
11/04/15 triggered @ $54.60
Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike


Netgear Inc. - NTGR - close: 44.62 change: -0.49

Stop Loss: 43.25
Target(s): To Be Determined
Current Gain/Loss: Unopened
Entry on December -- at $---.--
Listed on December 02, 2015
Time Frame: 6 to 8 weeks
Average Daily Volume = 468 thousand
New Positions: Yes, see below

Comments:
12/03/15: NTGR briefly traded to a new relative high this morning but it wasn't enough to tag our suggested entry point at $45.55. There is no change from last night's new play description.

Trade Description: December 2, 2015:
Shares of NTGR have delivered an impressive reversal in the last couple of months. Analysts believe the company is poised to carve out its niche of the Internet of Things (IoT). Meanwhile new products have helped NTGR's retail business soar.

NTGR is in the technology sector. According to the company, "NETGEAR is a global networking company that delivers innovative products to consumers, businesses and service providers. The Company's products are built on a variety of proven technologies such as wireless, Ethernet and powerline, with a focus on reliability and ease-of-use. The product line consists of wired and wireless devices that enable networking, broadband access and network connectivity. These products are available in multiple configurations to address the needs of the end-users in each geographic region in which the Company's products are sold. NETGEAR products are sold in approximately 39,000 retail locations around the globe, and through approximately 31,000 value-added resellers. The company's headquarters are in San Jose, Calif., with additional offices in approximately 25 countries."

Shares of NTGR are up +57% from their 2015 lows near $28.50. Most of that was thanks to a +40% surge in the month of October. That was due to a strong Q3 earnings report.

Wall Street was expecting Q3 earnings of $0.51 a share on revenues of $322 million. NTGR beat estimates on both counts. Earnings were $0.67 a share. Revenues fell -3.2% but came in at $342 million. Their operating margin surged from 7.1% in Q2 to 10.3% in Q3.

Patrick Lo, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of NETGEAR, commented, "Our financial results for the third quarter of 2015 exceeded expectations, driven by strength in North America and a robust back-to-school season. Our revenue in Q3 was further augmented by higher than normal demand from our service provider customers. The Retail Business Unit had an all-time record quarter in sales, powered by our fast-growing Arlo and Nighthawk product lines. The success of both product lines continued to drive up average selling prices for NETGEAR retail products, and led to a healthy 24.9% year-over-year increase in revenue for the Retail Business Unit for Q3. We were also pleased with the sequential growth shown by the Commercial Business Unit, which was led by our switching products. With many new products in the pipeline, we see the momentum of our switching products rolling into the coming quarters. Meanwhile, we continued to closely manage the Service Provider Business Unit with a focus on profitability."

Wall Street analysts have been raising estimates since NTGR's Q3 report. The big move in the stock has generated a huge buy signal on the point & figure chart, which is now forecasting a long-term target at $77. The last few weeks have seen NTGR consolidate sideways under the $45.00 area. This is significant since $45.00 (actually $45.31) was the all-time high from July 2011. A breakout past resistance at $45.00 is in progress. Today's intraday high was $45.38. Tonight we are suggesting a trigger to launch bullish positions at $45.55.

Trigger @ $45.55

- Suggested Positions -

Buy NTGR stock @ $45.55

- (or for more adventurous traders, try this option) -

Buy the JAN $45 CALL (NTGR160115C45)

Entry disclaimer: To avoid an unfavorable entry point, we will not launch a new play if the stock gaps open more than $1.00 past our suggested entry point.

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


Paychex, Inc. - PAYX - close: 52.65 change: -1.26

Stop Loss: 52.45
Target(s): To Be Determined
Current Gain/Loss: -0.9%
Entry on November 11 at $53.15
Listed on November 09, 2015
Time Frame: Exit PRIOR to earnings on December 22nd
Average Daily Volume = 2.3 million
New Positions: see below

Comments:
12/03/15: Ouch! It was a painful session for shares of PAYX. Today's -2.3% decline just erased most of its November gains. Shares also broke down below what should have been technical support at the 20-dma. The intraday low was $52.50. Our stop loss is at $52.45. Any follow through lower tomorrow could close this trade.

No new positions at this time.

Trade Description: November 9, 2015:
Last week the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that the nonfarm payroll (jobs) report for October showed a gain of +271,000. That was way above expectations. The separate household survey showed a gain of +320,000 jobs. This pushed the unemployment rate down to 5.0%, the lowest reading since early 2008. Many believe that the U.S. has now reached full employment. Do you know what that means? It means more Americans working. That means more paychecks to be delivered and more HR services to be handled.

PAYX is in the services sector. According to the company, "Paychex, Inc. (PAYX) is a leading provider of integrated human capital management solutions for payroll, HR, retirement, and insurance services. By combining its innovative software-as-a-service technology and mobility platform with dedicated, personal service, Paychex empowers small- and medium-sized business owners to focus on the growth and management of their business. Backed by more than 40 years of industry expertise, Paychex serves approximately 590,000 payroll clients across 100 locations and pays one out of every 15 American private sector employees."

PAYX earnings have been slowly and consistently creeping higher. Revenues have been rising about 8% the last couple of quarters. This company's most recent earnings report was September 30th. They beat estimates on both the top and bottom line, which helped fuel another rally in the stock.

PAYX management has been very consistent about paying a dividend. PAYX now sports a dividend yield of 3.7%. That could draw more and more income investors looking for a safe company to buy.

A recent article on Forbes.com, by Brett Owens, noted that "demand for payroll outsourcing (60% of Paychex's latest quarterly revenue) will grow at a 3.9% compound annual rate between 2013 and 2018. HR outsourcing (40% of revenue) is on a stronger tear, with a projected 12.3% yearly gain in the same period" (source)

We like PAYX's relative strength. Shares are up +14.2% year to date. That compares to a +1.0% gain in the S&P 500 and a +7.6% rally in the NASDAQ. The NASDAQ composite is up +18% from its August low but PAYX is up +26.7%. The rally in PAYX has produced a buy signal on the point & figure chart, which is also forecasting a long-term target at $72.00.

On Friday PAYX found short-term support near $53.00. Tonight we are suggesting a trigger to launch bullish positions at $53.15.

- Suggested Positions -

Long PAYX stock @ $53.15

- (or for more adventurous traders, try this option) -

Long JAN $55 CALL (PAYX160115C55) entry $0.80

11/11/15 triggered @ $53.15
Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike


U.S. Silica Holdings - SLCA - close: 21.55 change: -0.44

Stop Loss: 19.20
Target(s): To Be Determined
Current Gain/Loss: +0.0%
Entry on December 01 at $21.55
Listed on November 30, 2015
Time Frame: 8 to 12 weeks
(option traders exit prior to January expiration)
Average Daily Volume = 2.2 million
New Positions: see below

Comments:
12/03/15: SLCA suffered a -2.0% decline on the session. The stock remains above its early November high, which is new support for SLCA. I would use a new rise above $21.85 as a bullish entry point.

Trade Description: November 30, 2015:
The crash in oil prices to six year lows has crushed the oil and gas industry. It has been especially hard on some of the oil service stocks. SLCA is in that group but the company and the stock is showing signs of a bottom.

SLCA is in the basic materials sector. According to the company, "U.S. Silica Holdings, Inc., a member of the Russell 2000, is a leading producer of commercial silica used in the oil and gas industry, and in a wide range of industrial applications. Over its 115-year history, U.S. Silica has developed core competencies in mining, processing, logistics and materials science that enable it to produce and cost-effectively deliver over 260 products to customers across our end markets. The Company currently operates nine industrial sand production plants and eight oil and gas sand production plants. The Company is headquartered in Frederick, Maryland and also has offices located in Chicago, Illinois, Houston, Texas and Shanghai, China."

What's great about SLCA versus many of its peers is SLCA's diversity. They do sell a lot of fracking sand to the oil and gas industry but they also sell to a wide range of industries. The company also has one of the strongest balance sheets among its peers.

Year over year results have been rough. SLCA last reported earnings on October 27th. Q3 results were a loss of ($0.03) a share. That was a penny worse than expected. Revenues were down -35% to $155.4 million, which was just below the $155.7 million estimate.

It looks like an ugly earnings report and yet shares of SLCA soared more than 20% the next day. The company said their overall tons of sand sold was down -12% from a year ago but up +16% from the second quarter. Furthermore SLCA management said they were selling more sand to the oil and gas business and essentially stealing market share from competitors.

The outlook for crude oil is still muddy but it looks like shares of SLCA have found a bottom. The last few weeks have developed a trend of higher lows. The point & figure chart is still bearish but a rally above $22.00 would generate a new triple-top breakout buy signal. Plus a breakout past resistance could see some serious short covering. The most recent data listed short interest at 37% of the 49.4 million share float.

SLCA is going to present at the Cowen & Co. Energy Conference on December 1st and again at the Wells Fargo Energy Symposium on December 9th. If investors like what they hear these events could be a catalyst to spark the next leg higher.

Currently shares of SLCA appear to have short-term resistance in the $21.40 area. Tonight we are suggesting a trigger to launch bullish positions at $21.55.

- Suggested Positions -

Long SLCA stock @ $21.55

- (or for more adventurous traders, try this option) -

Long JAN $22.50 CALL (SLCA160115C22.5) current ask $1.65

12/01/15 triggered @ $21.55
Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike


Total System Services, Inc. - TSS - close: 55.17 change: -0.81

Stop Loss: 54.85
Target(s): To Be Determined
Current Gain/Loss: +0.0%
Entry on November 21 at $55.15
Listed on November 19, 2015
Time Frame: 6 to 9 weeks
Average Daily Volume = 1.4 million
New Positions: see below

Comments:
12/03/15: We suspected that prior resistance near $55.00 would be new support. Shares of TSS fell to an intraday low of $54.92 before starting to pare their losses today. Traders can use a new rally above $55.30 as another bullish entry point.

Trade Description: November 19, 2015:
TSS must be doing something right. Earnings and revenues have grown every quarter for the last four quarters. The stock has shown significant relative strength with TSS up +60% year to date.

TSS is part of the financial sector. According to the company, "As one of the world's largest payment solutions and services companies, TSYS® believes payments should revolve around people, not the other way around. Since we got our start in the payments space more than 30 years ago, we have evolved from a supporting role servicing several hundred bank card issuers and bank acquirers to directly touching hundreds of thousands of merchants and millions of consumers.

TSYS is a global, publicly traded company with operations in more than 80 countries, including many of the world's most high-growth emerging markets. We provide electronic payment services to financial institutions and companies around the globe with a broad range of issuing and acquiring payment technologies, including consumer, credit, debit, healthcare, loyalty, prepaid, chip and mobile payments."

As I mentioned earlier the earnings picture has been very healthy. TSS has beaten Wall Street's earnings and revenue estimate the last four quarters in a row. Earlier in the year they announced a 20 million share stock buyback. Plus management has raised guidance the last two quarters in a row.

TSS' most recent earnings report was October 27th. Wall Street was expecting a profit of $0.59 a share on revenues of $668 million. TSS announced that earnings were up +40% from a year ago to $0.78 a share. Revenues were up +15% to $708 million. The company management said, "we are raising our guidance range for revenues before reimbursables to 12-13%, up from the previous range of 10-12%, and our adjusted earnings per share (EPS) guidance range to 24-26%, up from the previous range of 15-17%."

You can see how the stock surged the next day on its strong results and bullish outlook. Since then shares of TSS have been consolidating sideways but it looks like that consolidation is almost over. Shares have rallied back toward round-number resistance at $55.00. Currently the point & figure chart is bullish and forecasting at $65.00 target. Tonight we are suggesting a trigger to launch bullish positions at $55.15.

- Suggested Positions -

Long TSS stock @ $55.15

- (or for more adventurous traders, try this option) -

Long FEB $55 CALL (TSS160219C55) entry $2.60

12/01/15 new stop @ 54.85
11/20/15 triggered @ $55.15
Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike


Yelp Inc. - YELP - close: 30.63 change: -0.76

Stop Loss: 27.90
Target(s): To Be Determined
Current Gain/Loss: +10.4%
Entry on November 18 at $27.75
Listed on November 17, 2015
Time Frame: 6 to 8 weeks
Average Daily Volume = 3.5 million
New Positions: see below

Comments:
12/03/15: YELP delivered big gains yesterday so it wasn't surprising to see some profit taking today with the market's widespread decline. YELP gave up -2.4% on the session. If this dip continues we can look for potential support near $30.00 and its 10-dma.

Readers may want to raise their stop loss into the $29.00-29.50 area. No new positions at this time.

Trade Description: November 17, 2015:
It has been a rough ride for YELP investors. The stock is down -50% year to date and off -72% from its all-time highs set in 2014. Yet the action lately is starting to look like all the bad news is priced in.

YELP is considered part of the technology sector. According to the company, "Yelp Inc. (http://www.yelp.com) connects people with great local businesses. Yelp was founded in San Francisco in July 2004. Since then, Yelp communities have taken hold in major metros across 31 countries. Approximately 83 million unique visitors visited Yelp via their mobile device1, including approximately 18 million unique devices accessing the Yelp app2, and approximately 79 million unique visitors visited Yelp via a desktop computer3 on a monthly average basis during the second quarter of 2015. By the end of the same quarter, Yelpers had written approximately 83 million rich, local reviews, making Yelp the leading local guide for real word-of-mouth on everything from boutiques and mechanics to restaurants and dentists."

The earnings picture has struggled this year. YELP's Q1 and Q2 reports both missed analysts' estimates. YELP also guided lower each time. Then there was news in July that YELP had given up on trying to sell itself because they couldn't find a buyer.

The revenue picture improved in the third quarter. YELP reported its Q3 results on October 28th. Earnings of $0.03 a share missed estimates of $0.06. Yet revenues were up +40% to $143.6 million, which was better than expected. Management then raised their 2015 guidance.

On November 13th shares of YELP received a big upgrade from RBC Capital Markets who raised their outlook to "outperform" and upped their price target from $34 to $42. Meanwhile recent news that InterActiveCorp (IACI) had offered to buy Angie's List (ANGI) might restart the M&A speculation on YELP since ANGI and YELP are in similar businesses.

Technically shares of YELP definitely appear to have formed a bottom over the last three months. The rally from its October lows has generated a buy signal on the point & figure chart that is forecasting a long-term target of $37.00. Right now YELP is flirting with a breakout past its early August peak. A breakout could spark some short covering. The most recent data listed short interest at 22% of the 60.8 million share float.

We are listing YELP as an aggressive, higher-risk bullish trade. The stock can be volatile so readers may want to limit their position size. Tonight we are suggesting a trigger to launch positions at $27.75.

*small positions to limit risk*- Suggested Positions -

Long YELP stock @ $27.75

- (or for more adventurous traders, try this option) -

Long 2016 JAN $30 CALL (YELP160115C30) entry $1.47

11/21/15 new stop @ 27.90
11/18/15 triggered @ $27.75
Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike




BEARISH Play Updates

Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. - BBBY - close: 53.36 change: -0.38

Stop Loss: 56.15
Target(s): To Be Determined
Current Gain/Loss: -1.9%
Entry on November 24 at $52.35
Listed on November 23, 2015
Time Frame: Exit PRIOR to earnings in January
Average Daily Volume = 2.2 million
New Positions: see below

Comments:
12/03/15: BBBY dropped toward its November lows and bounced. The rebound pared the stock's loss to just -0.7% after being down -2.4% intraday

No new positions at this time.

Trade Description: November 23, 2015:
Retail stocks have had a rough time this year. Wall Street has been concerned about consumer spending. Plus there is the constant pressure from online rivals chipping away at margins and traffic from brick and mortar stores. The XRT retail ETF is down -7.1% year to date but it's off -12.4% from its 2015 highs. BBBY has underperformed its peers. This stock is down -30% year to date and down -33% from its 2015 highs. Tonight the bear market in BBBY looks ready to accelerate lower.

BBBY is in the services sector. According to the company, "Founded in 1971, Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. and subsidiaries (the 'Company') is a retailer selling a wide assortment of domestics merchandise and home furnishings which operates under the names Bed Bath & Beyond, Christmas Tree Shops, Christmas Tree Shops andThat! or andThat!, Harmon or Harmon Face Values, buybuy BABY and World Market, Cost Plus World Market or Cost Plus. Customers can purchase products from the Company either in-store, online or through a mobile device. The Company has the developing ability to have customer purchases picked up in-store or shipped direct to the customer from the Company's distribution facilities, stores or vendors. In addition, the Company operates Of a Kind, an e-commerce website that features specially commissioned, limited edition items from emerging fashion and home designers. The Company also operates Linen Holdings, a provider of a variety of textile products, amenities and other goods to institutional customers in the hospitality, cruise line, healthcare and other industries. Additionally, the Company is a partner in a joint venture which operates retail stores in Mexico under the name Bed Bath & Beyond."

The earnings outlook has been challenging for BBBY. In April 2015 they reported their Q4 results. Earnings were inline but revenues missed estimates and management guided lower for Q1. Jump to June and BBBY reported earnings that missed estimates (even after guiding lower). Revenues were only up +3% and management guided lower again.

The company reported their Q2 results on September 24th. Earnings were up +3.4% from a year ago to $1.21 a share. That was in-line with Wall Street's lowered expectations. Revenues only rose +1.7% and missed estimates. Comparable store sales fell from +2.2% in Q1 to +0.7% in Q2. Management offered another soft outlook for current quarter. BBBY tried to soften the bad news by announcing an additional $2.5 billion stock buyback to follow their current buyback program, which had dwindled to $305 million.

Technically it looked like BBBY had broken out past its multi-month bearish trend in early November. Shares had rallied above some key resistance trend lines and above resistance at the 50-dma and the $60.00 level. Unfortunately for bullish investors this proved to be a trap. A few days later BBBY broke down again. Shares plunged to new multi-year lows. The point & figure chart is now forecasting at $45.00 target.

Multiple analysts have suggested that consumer spending this holiday season will disappoint. It looks like BBBY traders are not sticking around to find out if Wall Street's sour outlook is correct or not. We think BBBY's bearish momentum continues. The stock currently has short-term support near $52.50. We are suggesting a trigger to launch bearish positions at $52.35.

- Suggested Positions -

Short BBBY stock @ $52.35

- (or for more adventurous traders, try this option) -

Long JAN $50 PUT (BBBY160115P50) entry $1.68

11/24/15 triggered @ $52.35
Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike


Leucadia National Corp. - LUK - close: 17.96 change: -0.04

Stop Loss: 18.75
Target(s): To Be Determined
Current Gain/Loss: -1.5%
Entry on November 30 at $17.70
Listed on November 28, 2015
Time Frame: 6 to 9 weeks
Average Daily Volume = 2.1 million
New Positions: see below

Comments:
12/03/15: LUK didn't move much today with shares drifting sideways in a 22-cent range. This is a small victory for the bulls considering the market's broad-based sell-off.

No new positions at this time.

Trade Description: November 28, 2015:
Investors appear to have soured on shares of LUK. The stock is down -20% year to date but it's off -29% from its July 2015 highs. LUK just ended the week at new five-year lows.

LUK is considered part of the financial sector. One of their biggest businesses is their Jefferies Group investment brokerage. Jefferies is only one in a long list of companies that LUK owns. You could argue LUK is more of a holding company or a conglomerate and a very diverse one at that.

Here's a list of some of LUK's businesses:
Berkadia, a full-service mortgage bank
FXCM, an online foreign exchange trading platform (NYSE:FXCM)
HomeFed, a real estate developer (65% owned by LUK)
Foursight Capital, an Auto loan originator and servicer
Leucadia Asset Management, a diversified alternative asset management platform
Folger Hill, a multi-manager discretionary long/short equity hedge fund platform
Topwater Capital, a highly-scalable multi-manager and multi-strategy liquid securities fund
Jefferies, a leading, client-focused global investment banking firm
Jefferies LoanCore, a joint venture between Jefferies and GIC Private Ltd (f.k.a. Government of Singapore Investment Corporation), is a finance company focused on originating and securitizing commercial mortgage loans
National Beef, a beef processing company that processes ~3 million fed cattle per year representing ~12.5% market share
HRG Group, a diversifed holiday company (NYSE: HRG) that operates in four business segments: consumer products - Spectrum Brands (NYSE: SPB, ~58% ownership); insurance - Fidelity & Guaranty Life (NYSE: FGL, ~81% ownership (1)); FrontStreet Re (100% ownership); Energy - Compass Production (~100% ownership); Asset Management (de minimis net book value).
Garcadia, 26 auto dealerships
Vitesse Energy
Juneau Energy
Linkem, a fixed wireless broadband internet provider in Italy
Conwed, a leading manufacturer of extruded, oriented and knitted plastic netting
Idaho Timber
Golden Queen (gold and silver mine)
(more details about LUK company .pdf
The earnings picture for LUK has taken a drastic turn for the worse. Their Q1 report, announced March 17th, showed earnings of $11.7 million versus $112 million a year ago. Q1 revenues were down -34%. LUK delivered similar results with their Q2 earnings, announced August 5th. Earnings per share were $0.11 compared to $1.12 a year ago. Revenues were flat at $2.84 billion. Their most recent earnings report was November 5th, 2015. LUK reported their Q3 results, which was a loss of ($0.47) a share versus a profit of $0.14 a year ago. Revenues plunged -21% to $2.36 billion. You can see why investors might be selling the stock.

Management has been trying to take advantage of their low stock price with an aggressive stock buyback program but it's not making much difference. Technically shares of LUK are in a bear market and showing significant relative weakness.

The point & figure chart is very bearish and forecasting an $11.00 target. The last few days LUK has been trying to hold short-term support near $18.00 but that appears to have failed. Tonight we are suggesting a trigger to launch bearish positions at $17.70.

- Suggested Positions -

Short LUK stock @ $17.70

- (or for more adventurous traders, try this option) -

Long MAR $18 PUT (LUK160318P18) entry $1.20

11/30/15 triggered @ $17.70
Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike


iPath S&P500 VIX Futures ETN - VXX - close: 20.02 change: +1.34

Stop Loss: None, no stop at this time.
Target(s): $16.65
Current Gain/Loss: + 8.2%
2nd position Gain/Loss: +31.0%
Entry on August 25 at $21.82
2nd position: September 2nd at $29.01
Listed on August 24, 2015
Time Frame: to be determined
Average Daily Volume = 50 million
New Positions: see below

Comments:
12/03/15: The stock market's sharp decline today sparked a +13.8% rally in the volatility index. The VXX only rose +7.1%.

Currently our exit target is $16.65.

No new positions at this time.

Trade Description: August 24, 2015
The U.S. stock market's sell-off in the last three days has been extreme. Most of the major indices have collapsed into correction territory (-10% from their highs). The volatile moves in the market have investors panicking for protection. This drives up demand for put options and this fuels a rally in the CBOE volatility index (the VIX).

You can see on this long-term weekly chart that the VIX spiked up to levels not seen since the 2008 bear market during the financial crisis. Moves like this do not happen very often. The VIX rarely stays this high very long.

(see VIX chart from the August 24th play description)

How do we trade the VIX? One way is the VXX, which is an ETN but trades like a stock.

Here is an explanation from the product website:

The iPath® S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures® ETNs (the "ETNs") are designed to provide exposure to the S&P 500 VIX Short-Term FuturesTM Index Total Return (the "Index"). The ETNs are riskier than ordinary unsecured debt securities and have no principal protection. The ETNs are unsecured debt obligations of the issuer, Barclays Bank PLC, and are not, either directly or indirectly, an obligation of or guaranteed by any third party. Any payment to be made on the ETNs, including any payment at maturity or upon redemption, depends on the ability of Barclays Bank PLC to satisfy its obligations as they come due. An investment in the ETNs involves significant risks, including possible loss of principal and may not be suitable for all investors.

The Index is designed to provide access to equity market volatility through CBOE Volatility Index® (the "VIX Index") futures. The Index offers exposure to a daily rolling long position in the first and second month VIX futures contracts and reflects market participants' views of the future direction of the VIX index at the time of expiration of the VIX futures contracts comprising the Index. Owning the ETNs is not the same as owning interests in the index components included in the Index or a security directly linked to the performance of the Index.

I encourage readers to check out a long-term chart of the VXX. This thing has been a consistent loser. One market pundit said the VXX is where money goes to die - if you're buying it. We do not want to buy it. We want to short it. Shorting rallies seems to be a winning strategy on the VXX with a constant trend of lower highs.

Today the VXX spiked up to four-month highs near $28.00 before fading. We are suggesting bearish positions at the opening bell tomorrow. The market volatility is probably not done yet so we are not listing a stop loss yet. Our time frame is two or three weeks (or less).

- Suggested Positions -

Short the VXX @ $21.82

Sept. 2nd - 2nd position (Double Down On The September 1st Spike)

Short the VXX @ $29.01

11/07/15 adjust exit target to $16.65
11/02/15 adjust exit target to $16.50
10/19/15 add an exit target at $16.25
10/15/15 planned exit for the October puts
10/14/15 if you own the options, prepare to exit tomorrow at the close
09/02/15 2nd position begins. VXX gapped down at $29.01
09/01/15 Double down on this trade with the VXX's spike to 6-month highs
08/25/15 trade begins. VXX gaps down at $21.82
Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike



CLOSED BULLISH PLAYS

Eaton Corp. - ETN - close: 55.62 change: -1.51

Stop Loss: 56.55
Target(s): To Be Determined
Current Gain/Loss: -2.6%
Entry on November 25 at $58.05
Listed on November 24, 2015
Time Frame: Exit prior to earnings in February
(option traders exit prior to January expiration)
Average Daily Volume = 3.8 million
New Positions: see below

Comments:
12/03/15: ETN has suffered a rough couple of days with a drop from three-month highs near $58.50 down toward the $55.00 level. Shares hit our relatively new stop loss at $56.55 today. If you're still in ETN I would watch for support near the mid November low around $54.00.

- Suggested Positions -

Long ETN stock @ $58.05 exit $56.55 (-2.6%)

- (or for more adventurous traders, try this option) -

JAN $60 CALL (ETN160115C60) entry $0.90 exit $0.35 (-61.1%)

12/03/15 stopped out
12/01/15 new stop @ 56.55
11/25/15 triggered @ $58.05
Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike

chart: