The Dow tried really hard to reach that resistance at 18,000 but fell short on the opening spike and closed more than 100 points lower at 17,895. That resistance level remains strong and we could not even reach it on the gap higher open today. The S&P surged past 2,100 to 2,109 but that was immediately sold to drop back to 2,089 intraday or -20 points off the high.
The ADP Employment report was positive and gave the markets a boost but we do not know how the Nonfarm Payroll number will be received on Friday. The ADP report may have taken some of the mystery out of Friday's report.
The markets are trying to chip away at resistance but Friday's have not been strong recently because of the potential for negative headlines from overseas.
Current Position Changes
TWTR - Twitter
The long position in TWTR was entered at $17.24.
Check the graphic above for any profit stops in green.
We need to always be prepared for a profit exit at resistance.
Stop Loss Updates
Check the graphic above for any new stop losses in bright yellow.
We need to always be prepared for an unexpected decline.
BULLISH Play Updates
EXAS - Exact Sciences - Company Profile
No specific news. Minor decline after a new 9-month high close.
Original Trade Description: June 25th.
Exact Sciences Corporation, a molecular diagnostics company, focuses on developing products for the early detection and prevention of various cancers. The company develops the Cologuard, a non-invasive stool-based DNA screening test for the early detection of colorectal cancer and pre-cancer. Its Cologuard test includes a protein marker to detect blood in the stool, utilizing an antibody-based fecal immunochemical test. The company has a collaboration, license, and purchase agreement with Genzyme Corporation, as well as with MAYO Foundation for Medical Education and Research for developing tests to detect lung, pancreatic, and esophageal cancers.
Shares of EXAS fell from $18.50 to $7 in October after the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force, an independent panel of health care experts, issued preliminary screening test recommendations that did not include Cologuard as a recommended product. The draft listed Cologuard as an "alternative" screening test. Exact Sciences protested strongly about the classification.
On June 14th, the same task force issued its final cancer screening recommendations and clarified the inclusion of Cologuard. The information was accidentally leaked and the panel had to release the report earlier than the planned June 21st date. With the final recommendation for Cologuard the company has begun advertising strongly and sales should increase. Cologuard is now an A-rated preventative service under the Affordable Care Act.
Earnings July 26th.
Shares have broken out of their 9-month consolidation base and could close the gap back to $18 in the coming weeks.
Long EXAS shares @ $11.50, stop loss $9.45.
No options recommended.
HPE - Hewlett Packard Enterprise - Company Profile
No specific news. Minor gain but one analyst is expecting a 7% to 10% gain in the next couple of weeks.
Original Trade Description: June 2nd.
Hewlett Packard Enterprise was spun off from Hewlett Packard (HPQ) to be the high growth segment of the company. The remaining HPQ was the slower growing PC and printer company.
HPE reported adjusted Q1 earnings of 42 cents and in line with estimates. Revenue of $12.711 billion would have been up +4% on a constant currency basis. Analysts were expecting $12.419 billion.
For the current quarter, HPE guided to earnings of $1.10 to $1.14. For the full year, they expect $1.85-$1.95 and that was more than analysts expected at $1.89. They increased free cash flow +101% to $1.1 billion for the quarter.
The good news came from their plans for the cash flow. HPE expects to generate $2.0-$2.2 billion in free cash flow in 2016. They are receiving $2 billion from the Tsinghua transaction which closed in early May and the money will be used for share repurchases. In 2016, HPE is increasing its commitment to return 100% of the free cash flow to investors in dividends and buybacks.
This means over the next couple of months we should see significant share activity as funds position themselves to be the beneficiaries of all this buyback/dividend activity that could exceed $4 billion in 2016. $2.5 billion of that is in an "accelerated" buyback program. The board authorized another $3 billion in buybacks to bring the current authorization to $4.8 billion.
They also announced a tax-free spinoff of their services division to Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC), which is expected to close in March 2017. This will produce another $8.5 billion in value to HPE shareholders in the form of $4.5 billion in equity in the combined company and $1.5 billion in a cash dividend and the removal of $2.5 billion in debt from HPE.
Earnings Aug 23rd.
HPE shares have shaken off their May weakness and closed today at a historic high. I am recommending we buy this stock in anticipation of additional fund investors moving in ahead of future dividends, buybacks and the spinoff.
Position 6/28/16: Long HPE shares @ $17.50, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.
Position 6/3/16: Long August $20 call @ 40 cents. No stop loss.
Previously closed 6/24/16: Long HPE shares @ $18.40, exit $18.61, +.21 gain
SCTY - Solar City - Company Profile
No specific news. Nice gain to close well above the $24 resistance but not quite far enough to suggest it is a breakout.
Original Trade Description: June 27th.
SolarCity Corporation designs, manufactures, installs, monitors, maintains, leases, and sells solar energy systems to government, residential, and commercial customers in the United States. The company provides solar energy systems; solar lease and solar power purchase agreements; mypower loan agreements; grid control/energy storage systems; zep solar mounting systems; and proprietary software, including SolarBid sales management platform, SolarWorks customer management software, PowerGuide proactive monitoring solutions, and Energy Designer, a proprietary software application used by field engineering auditors to collect site-specific design details on a tablet computer. It also sells electricity generated by solar energy systems to customers.
SolarCity has had a troubled past with the rise and fall of solar based on the whims of governments and the on again-off again investment credits and tax rebates. SolarCity is still humming right along and building up their base of installed systems into one giant annuity that will pay for decades to come. The problem is that it takes cash to build and install those systems that they sell to customers. Cash up front for a long and profitable payout.
SolarCity was co-founded by Elon Musk. He also started Paypal, SpaceX and Tesla. Last week he (Tesla) offered to buy SolarCity, where he is the largest stockholder and Chairman of the board, for $26-$28. Tesla shares cratered. SolarCity shares spiked for one day then fell back again. Numerous analysts were against the plan. Now shares are rising again.
Elon Musk believes he can marry his battery business with the solar business and have a winning combination. He already makes battery backups for your home but they run off regular utility company power. With SolarCity he can power those battery systems with solar and it makes a lot more sense for customers.
Shares have established a base at $21 and with the $26-$28 offer under consideration along with "other strategic alternatives" it would appear there is limited downside.
Earnings August 8th.
Long SCTY shares @ $23.40, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.
TWTR - Twitter - Company Profile
Twitter hired former Facebook CTO, Bret Taylor, to drive product innovation. Shares inched up slightly with resistance at $18.
Original Trade Description: July 6th.
Twitter, Inc. operates as a global platform for public self-expression and conversation in real time. The company offers various products and services, including Twitter that allows users to create, distribute, and discover content; and Periscope and Vine, a mobile application that enables user to broadcast and watch video live. It also provides promoted products and services, such as promoted tweets, promoted accounts, and promoted trends that enable its advertisers to promote their brands, products, and services; and subscription access to its data feed for data partners.
Twitter's monthly active users have flat lined for many months with almost no growth. New users come into the system, get confused and overwhelmed and then leave just as quickly. There was nothing "sticky" to keep them on the system unless they were a news junkie or addicted to the next wild comment from Donald Trump.
Twitter is trying to change that with Twitter Live. They are testing the concept this week with a live twitter video feed from Wimbledon. The video shows up in the left side of the screen and the right side has a running commentary of tweets on the topic. Twitter has already announced several live events they are going to stream. They paid $10 million to the NFL to stream 10 of the Thursday night games. Live news stories are also being tweeted.
Analysts have been pleasantly surprised and claim "this may actually be something useful from Twitter." If they can successfully transform themselves from a 140 character shorthand rant site into a site with thousand of live streams of everything under the sun then they may actually avoid obsolescence.
Shares have been rising since the $14 low on June 10th and appear poised to break over resistance at $18. By reinventing themselves as a live stream video portal they open up a significant advertising opportunity and could actually attract some big money buyers looking for a social media acquisition. Apple and Google are the permanent favorites constantly mentioned as possibly having interest. If they see that Twitter is suddenly becoming relevant again, they could pull the trigger.
This time last year Twitter was trading around $38 and their historic high was around $75 so even without an acquisition offer they could rebound significantly.
Twitter has been a slow mover even though it is up $3 in three weeks. If it were to move over that $18 resistance it could pick up speed as investors come back for a second or third look and realize the company is evolving.
Do not buy this with expectations for a quick bounce and out. If you enter this position, you should look for a slow move to $20 and then reevaluate the position. Over $20 could trigger some real short covering.
Earnings July 26th and we could hold over the event depending on the news flow and stock level.
Long TWTR shares @ $17.24, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.
I am not recommending an option because of the recent history of slow movement. However, a long-term option may be the correct way to play this position. Your risk is known in advance and the cost of entry is very low. Here are some examples.
Sep $19 Call $1.04
Dec $20 Call $1.51
Jan $20 Call $1.64
BEARISH Play Updates
QQQ - Nasdaq 100 ETF - ETF Profile
Another minor gain of 23 cents on strength in biotechs that lifted the Nasdaq 100. Maintain the stop loss at $109.25.
Original Trade Description: July 2nd.
The Dow has struggled with the 18,000 level since last November. Eventually there will be a breakout but I strongly doubt it will be during the summer doldrums between July 4th and Labor Day. The volume will be to low and other factors are weighing on the index. The 30 Dow stocks are all exposed to the strong dollar and falling pound as a result of the Brexit. I would be very surprised if less than two-thirds of the Dow stocks did not warn for Q3 on the strong dollar problem. With Q2 earnings starting on July 11th, i would expect some investors to begin moving to the sidelines to avoid the rush.
The S&P 500 has solid resistance from 2,100 to 2,115. It has failed at those levels on every attempt since August of last year. With earnings expected to be weak, economics weak and Europe weak, I would expect the S&P to fail at those levels again.
The Nasdaq has strong resistance at 4,900 and 4968. These are lower highs from the peak last November. The biotech sector is still weak and Merrill Lynch just downgraded the semiconductors. Oil prices are likely to remain around $50 for the rest of the year and that means the bloom is fading on the energy stocks.
The Nasdaq 100 ETF (QQQ) is approaching solid resistance at $110. I actually doubt it will get there but that appears to be the target. If the QQQ reaches that level I would recommend shorting the ETF. I know that is a big ticket item for Premier Investor readers but there are no low dollar index ETFs that will accomplish the same thing. I am going to recommend a long put in place of the actual short.
I would like to enter the position at $110 but that would take about a 200 point gain on the Nasdaq 100 ($NDX) and I seriously doubt that will happen.
Since we cannot count on that $110 level being reached I am going to recommend buying the put with a trade at $106.85. If the index does go higher then we can target the $110 level as well.
With a QQQ trade at $106.85
Buy August $106 put, currently $2.05. No initial stop loss.
VNET - 21Vianet Group - Company Profile
No specific news. Minor gain after Wednesday's new closing low.
Original Trade Description: July 2nd.
21Vianet Group, Inc. provides carrier-neutral Internet data center services to Internet companies, government entities, blue-chip enterprises, and small-to mid-sized enterprises in the Peoples Republic of China. It offers hosting and related services to house servers and networking equipment in its data centers, and connects them through a data transmission network; and other hosting related value-added services.
In June 2015 the Chairman of the board, Kingsoft Corporation and Tsinghua Unigroup International proposed a deal to take the company private. Shares were trading around $20 at the time. On Thursday the same group rescinded their "non-binding" go private offer. The group said "after careful consideration, the group had determined not to proceed with the proposal under the current circumstances." Those circumstances were not described.
After keeping the stock price around $20 for the last year based on this offer the group decided to pass on the deal. While it may have had something to do with the earnings, I suspect it had more to do with the current problems with taking companies private in China. Qihoo (QIHU) and YY (YY) are also struggling. The China Securities Regulatory Commission is considering limits on the numbers of reverse mergers from previously foreign listed companies. There are worries they could impose an outright ban.
In an attempt to counter the drop in the stock the company announced a $200 million share repurchase plan. However, in the first sentence reads, "The Board has authorized, but not obligated, to repurchase up to $200 million in outstanding shares within the next we months." The key words there are "not obligated" which means they do not have to buy the shares if they change their minds. This is a Chinese company and the generally accepted rules are rarely followed. This is just another ploy to try and support the stock price.
Earnings August 24th.
Short VNET shares @ $9.57, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.
Long August $9 put @ 85 cents. No initial stop loss.
VXX - Ipath VIX Short Term Futues ETN - ETN Profile
Minor bounce with the afternoon market selloff but still a decline. We are probably going to be in this position for a long time as it declines to new lows well under $13 or even $12 this summer.
Original Trade Description: June 22nd.
The VXX is a ETF type product that is based on the Volatility Index futures. It is a flawed product with a perpetual decline built in from the monthly roll over in the futures contracts.
We have played the VXX before with big gains. The object is to short it on a bounce and then hold the position until the volatility fades again.
On the big declines last week the VXX spiked to $17. Back in January and February is spiked to $30 on the market corrections. While I do not expect that to happen from this lower level, I do expect some volatility to appear regardless of the vote outcome.
I am recommending we enter a short position with a return to $17. If it continues higher I would add to that short at $20 and again at $25 and then we wait for the post event decline in the volatility and the return to $13 or lower.
Because this is a flawed product it will always go lower. It has already had several 1:4 reverse splits to keep it from being delisted back in November 2010, October 2012 and November 2013. If it falls under $10, they will do another reverse split and start the decline all over again.
6/24/15: With a VXX trade at $17, now short VXX @ $17, no stop loss.
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