Editor's Note:
More bad news out of China fueled a -7% drop in the Shanghai index. This sparked a global market sell-off. The U.S. indices fell -2% to -3% and closed near their lows of the session, which usually does not bode well for tomorrow morning.

SCTY was stopped out. Our new bearish play on AKAM is open.


Current Portfolio:


BULLISH Play Updates

The Kroger Co. - KR - close: 41.07 change: -0.98

Stop Loss: 40.45
Target(s): To Be Determined
Current Gain/Loss: -3.9%
Entry on December 30 at $42.75
Listed on December 26, 2015
Time Frame: Exit PRIOR to earnings in early March
Average Daily Volume = 726 thousand
New Positions: see below

Comments:
01/07/16: The S&P 500 index fell -2.3% today. Shares of KR followed suit with a -2.3% drop of its own. The stock is nearing short-term support in the $40.65 area. If it falls any lower we'll be stopped out at $40.45.

No new positions at the moment.

Trade Description: December 26, 2015:
If you're looking for a company with consistent growth then look no further. KR appears to be the king of same-store sales and recently announced 48 quarters of consecutive same-store sales growth.

KR is in the services sector. According to the company, "Kroger, one of the world's largest retailers, employs nearly 400,000 associates who serve customers in 2,626 supermarkets and multi-department stores in 34 states and the District of Columbia under two dozen local banner names including Kroger, City Market, Dillons, Food 4 Less, Fred Meyer, Fry's, Harris Teeter, Jay C, King Soopers, QFC, Ralphs and Smith's. The company also operates 780 convenience stores, 327 fine jewelry stores, 1,342 supermarket fuel centers and 37 food processing plants in the U.S."

A few months ago BusinessInsider ran an interesting article on KR that suggested the grocery chain is shaping up to be growing competition for the fast-food industry. A recent poll showed that 1 out of 4 consumers would choose Kroger instead of McDonald's to grab a quick bite to eat. KR has become more attractive because they have been expanding their prepared-food selection.

Another interesting tidbit came from CNBC Mad Money's Jim Cramer who said KR has twice the growth of rival Whole Foods Market (WFM). KR's most recent quarterly results showed same-store sales growth of +5.4%, which easily outpaces its rivals.

Speaking of Whole Foods, KR is quickly catching up. WFM built its brand on organic and natural foods, which also happen to have better margins than traditional grocery items. Rivals took notice and KR jumped into organics with both feet. According to JPMorgan, KR is on track to surpass WFM as the biggest seller of organic foods within the next two years. (FYI: Costco actually sells more organic food than anyone else in the U.S. but they are not a traditional grocery story).

Looking at the company's results they continue to beat estimates. KR announced their fiscal 2015 Q1 results on June 18th with earnings of $1.25 per share. That beat estimates of $1.22. Revenues were $33.05 billion, which actually missed estimates. The stock rallied anyway. KR management reaffirmed their fiscal year 2016 earnings forecast for $3.80-3.90 per share (essentially +10% growth).

Their 2015 Q2 results were announced on Sept. 11th. Earnings were $0.44 a share, beating estimates by five cents. Revenues were relatively flat at $25.44 billion. Same-store sales were up +5.3%. Management raised their full-year same-store sales guidance from +3.5%-4.5% to 4.0-5.0%

Q3 earnings came out on December 3rd. Earnings of $0.43 a share beat expectations by four cents. Revenues were still relatively flat at $25.07 billion (from a year ago). Same-store sales were up +5.4%. Management then raised their fiscal 2016 earnings guidance above Wall Street estimates. The stock soared on this report and bullish outlook.

Traders have been reluctant to let go of KR's stock. When the market dipped sharply a couple of weeks ago investors jumped in to buy the dip. Now KR has rebounded back toward its all-time highs. The point & figure chart is very bullish with a long-term target of $62.00. Thursday's intraday high was $42.67. Tonight we are suggesting a trigger to launch bullish positions at $42.75.

- Suggested Positions -

Long KR stock @ $42.75

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

Long APR $45 CALL (KR160415C45) entry $1.15

12/30/15 triggered @ $42.75
Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike




BEARISH Play Updates

Akamai Technologies - AKAM - close: 48.19 change: -2.29

Stop Loss: 52.75
Target(s): To Be Determined
Current Gain/Loss: +2.3%
Entry on January 07 at $49.34
Listed on January 06, 2016
Time Frame: Exit PRIOR to earnings in early February
Average Daily Volume = 2.1 million
New Positions: Yes, see below

Comments:
01/07/16: Shares of AKAM continued to sink right on cue with some help from the broader market. The NASDAQ composite fell -3.0%. AKAM underperformed with a -4.5% drop. The plan was to launch bearish positions at $49.75 but our trade opened on the gap down at $49.34. Nimble traders got a better entry point when AKAM bounced back into the $50.00-50.60 area this morning before rolling over and plunging to new 52-week lows.

No new positions at this time.

Trade Description: January 6, 2016:
Right now the market's momentum is lower so we are adding a bearish momentum play. The long-term up trend in shares of AKAM appear broken after disappointing Q4 guidance. Shares underperformed the market last year with a -16% decline for 2015. That is thanks to a -33% plunge from its October peak (just before its Q3 earnings report).

AKAM is in the technology sector. According to the company, "As the global leader in Content Delivery Network (CDN) services, Akamai makes the Internet fast, reliable and secure for its customers. The company's advanced web performance, mobile performance, cloud security and media delivery solutions are revolutionizing how businesses optimize consumer, enterprise and entertainment experiences for any device, anywhere."

Shares were killed on October 28th with a -16.7% plunge following its Q3 earnings report. AKAM had reported earnings the night before. Analysts were expecting a profit of $0.58 a share on revenues of $550 million. The company said earnings grew +0% from a year ago to $0.62 a share. That beat estimates. Revenues were up +10% to $551 million, just a hair above expectations. The issue was AKAM's guidance. They guided Q4 revenues into the $557-577 million zone and Q4 earnings into the $0.60-0.64 range. Wall Street was forecasting Q4 revenues closer to $596 million and earnings near $0.65 a share.

Several analyst firms downgraded AKAM shares following its disappointing Q4 guidance. The stock has continued to underperform since this pivotal announcement with investors selling every rally. AKAM's stock tried to bounce off round-number support near $50 in mid December. Unfortunately the bounce has been failing at the $54.00 level. Now the broader market is in sell-off mode and AKAM is testing major support at $50.00 again. A breakdown here could signal a drop toward the $44-45 area. Tonight we are suggesting a trigger to launch small bearish positions at $49.75. I am suggesting smaller positions to limit risk since AKAM can be somewhat volatile.

*small positions to limit risk* - Suggested Positions -

Short AKAM stock @ $49.34

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

Long FEB $50 PUT (AKAM160219P50) entry $3.43

01/07/16 triggered on gap down at $49.34, suggested entry was $49.75
Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike


CF Industries - CF - close: 34.14 change: -1.70

Stop Loss: 37.05
Target(s): To Be Determined
Current Gain/Loss: +11.7%
Entry on January 06 at $38.65
Listed on January 05, 2016
Time Frame: Exit PRIOR to earnings in mid February
Average Daily Volume = 2.7 million
New Positions: see below

Comments:
01/07/16: CF continued to sink after yesterday's -8.6% plunge. Shares lost another -4.74% today and broke down under potential support at $35.00.

Tonight we will adjust the stop loss down to $37.05. No new positions at this time.

Trade Description: January 5, 2016:
CF underperformed the broader market and its sector in 2015. The S&P 500 lost -0.7% for the year while the IYM basic materials ETF lost -14.4%. Shares of CF returned a -25% loss last year. Momentum remains to the downside.

According to the company, "CF Industries Holdings, Inc., headquartered in Deerfield, Illinois, through its subsidiaries is a global leader in the manufacturing and distribution of nitrogen products, serving both agricultural and industrial customers. CF Industries operates world-class nitrogen manufacturing complexes in Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States, and distributes plant nutrients through a system of terminals, warehouses, and associated transportation equipment located primarily in the Midwestern United States. The company also owns a 50 percent interest in an ammonia facility in The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago."

It is important to note that CF is currently in the process of merging with OCI. Here's a brief description, "OCI N.V. is a global producer and distributor of natural gas-based fertilizers and industrial chemicals based in the Netherlands. The company produces nitrogen fertilizers, methanol and other natural gas based products, serving agricultural and industrial customers from the Americas to Asia. The company ranks among the world's largest nitrogen fertilizer producers, and can produce more than 8.4 million metric tons of nitrogen fertilizers and industrial chemicals at production facilities in the Netherlands, the United States, Egypt and Algeria."

Once the merger is completed they plan to move the new company's headquarters to the Netherlands to reduce their tax burden. Last year some U.S. government officials voiced their displeasure at these tax-inversion mergers to avoid paying U.S. taxes. There is a chance (albeit a small one) that the U.S. tries to stop this merger before it's completed.

Meanwhile the company continues to struggle with weak prices for nitrogen fertilizer. Looking at CF's last four quarterly earnings reports they have missed Wall Street's earnings estimates three of the last four quarters (and two quarters in a row). Revenues were down -8.3%, -15.8%, -10.9%, and -0.7% in the most recently reported quarter.

CF faces tough competition from fertilizer producers in China and in Russia and the Ukraine. It is worth noting that Bank of America just recently came out with a bullish call on CF. The BoA analyst suggested that fertilizer prices are too low and will bounce and CF's stock price should bounce with it. CF claims demand remains strong but that doesn't help if prices keep falling (obviously demand isn't strong enough or prices would rise).

Technically the path of least resistance is down and CF just broke support near $40.00. These are new two-year lows. Tonight we are suggesting a trigger to launch bearish positions at $38.85. Plan on exiting prior to CF's earnings report in mid February.

- Suggested Positions -

Short CF stock @ $38.65

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

Long FEB $35 PUT (CF160219P35) entry $1.20

01/07/16: new stop @ 37.05
01/06/16: new stop loss @ 38.75
01/06/16: triggered on gap down at $38.65, suggested entry was $38.85
Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike


GameStop Corp. - GME - close: 28.45 change: +0.08

Stop Loss: 29.05
Target(s): To Be Determined
Current Gain/Loss: +5.9%
Entry on December 11 at $30.22
Listed on December 10, 2015
Time Frame: 6 to 8 weeks
Option traders exit prior to January expiration
Average Daily Volume = 2.1 million
New Positions: see below

Comments:
01/07/16: Alert! I am waving the yellow caution flag on our GME trade. The broader market nosedived this morning. Shares of GME saw a small gap down and then bounced. The stock managed to post a gain when the rest of the market is crashing. That's not a good sign if you're bearish.

Tonight I am inching the stop loss down to $29.05 since the $29.00 level is overhead resistance. More conservative investors may want to just exit now and lock in a potential gain.

No new positions at this time.

Trade Description: December 10, 2015:
The future of video game purchases is digital downloads. That is why shares of GME have struggled the last couple of years. Their retail business model is in serious jeopardy.

GME is in the services sector. According to the company, "GameStop Corp., a Fortune 500 and S&P 500 company headquartered in Grapevine, Texas, is a global, multichannel video game, consumer electronics and wireless services retailer. GameStop operates more than 6,800 stores across 14 countries. The company's consumer product network also includes www.gamestop.com; www.Kongregate.com, a leading browser-based game site; Game Informer® magazine, the world's leading print and digital video game publication and the recently acquired Geeknet, Inc., parent company of ThinkGeek, www.thinkgeek.com, the premier retailer for the global geek community featuring exclusive and unique video game and pop culture products. In addition, our Technology Brands segment includes Simply Mac and Spring Mobile stores. Simply Mac, www.simplymac.com, operates 72 stores, selling the full line of Apple products, including laptops, tablets, and smartphones and offering Apple certified warranty and repair services. Spring Mobile, http://springmobile.com, sells post-paid AT&T services and wireless products through its 590 AT&T branded stores and offers pre-paid wireless services, devices and related accessories through its 69 Cricket branded stores in select markets in the U.S."

The company's earnings results have been mixed. Their Q2 report, announced on August 27th, came in better than expected. GME beat analysts' estimates on both the top and bottom line. Management raised their 2016 guidance. Guess what? Traders sold the news anyway.

Fast-forward to November. The stock has already reversed under major resistance near $48 again. Shares plunge on November 13th following an analyst downgrade. Ten days later GME reports their Q3 earnings results. Their profit was $0.54 a share. Not only is that 5% decline from a year ago but it's five cents below estimates. Revenues were down -3.6% to $2.02 billion, another miss. Hardware sales plunged -20% in the third quarter. Software sales were down -9%. GME's comparable store sales fell -1.1%, which was below guidance. If that wasn't enough management lowered their Q4 guidance below Wall Street estimates. Following this Q3 report the stock garnered several analyst downgrades.

One of GME's biggest challenges is digital downloads where customers do not have to leave their home (or dorm room) to purchase new games. They can just purchase it online over the Internet and have it immediately downloaded and start gaming. Not only does this jeopardize GME's new game sales but it also hurts a major portion of their business, which is reselling used games. If fewer people are buying hard copy discs of their video games then that means fewer people selling their used games back to GME, which the company resells at a healthy margin.

The trend of digital downloads started years ago but they are growing in popularity. The bearish story on GME is not a secret. That's probably the biggest risk. There are already a lot of bears in the name. The most recent data listed short interest at 53% of the 103 million share float. That much short interest can make the stock volatile to any potentially positive headlines. I think the bears are right and GME is headed lower as their business continues to struggle.

Another risk is valuation. The stock has fallen -33% in the last few weeks. Most of the analyst action in GME has been bearish with several downgrades. The stock currently trades with a P/E around 8.6. Eventually some analyst firm might decide to upgrade it on a valuation basis and the stock could see a short-term rally on this sort of headline. Fortunately traders usually sell the rallies in GME.

Currently GME is flirting with a breakdown below major support in the $31.50-32.00 area. A breakdown here could see the current downtrend accelerate. The point & figure chart is bearish and forecasting at $19.00 target. Tonight we are suggesting a trigger to open bearish positions at $31.40. Please note that this is an aggressive, higher-risk trade. GME can be a volatile stock. I am removing our normal entry point disclaimer regarding gap downs. Due to potential volatility traders may want to use the options instead of trying to short the stock. I am listing the January puts. You might want to consider the April puts (next available month).

- Suggested Positions -

Short GME stock @ $30.22

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

Long JAN $30 PUT (GME160115P30) entry $2.44

01/07/16 new stop @ 29.05, readers may want to take profits now
01/04/16 Caution - GME sank to new lows and reversed higher.
12/30/15 new stop @ 29.35
12/17/15 new stop @ 31.25
12/11/15 triggered on gap down at $30.22, suggested entry was $31.40
Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike


Harley-Davidson, Inc. - HOG - close: 43.13 change: -0.27

Stop Loss: 44.55
Target(s): To Be Determined
Current Gain/Loss: +5.7%
Entry on December 11 at $45.75
Listed on December 09, 2015
Time Frame: Exit prior to earnings in late January
Average Daily Volume = 3.15 million
New Positions: see below

Comments:
01/07/16: HOG fell to new lows this morning but shares managed to pare their loss to -0.6% by the closing bell. That's significantly better than the S&P 500's -2.3% drop.

Readers may want to adjust their stop loss closer to $44.00 or just take some money off the table now.

No new positions at this time.

Trade Description: December 9, 2015:
HOG was a big winner during the market's rally off the 2009 bear-market low. Shares surged from about $8 in early 2009 to over $74.00 in 2014. Unfortunately that bullish momentum is long gone.

HOG is in the consumer goods sector. According to the company, "Harley-Davidson, Inc. is the parent company of Harley-Davidson Motor Company and Harley-Davidson Financial Services. Since 1903, Harley-Davidson Motor Company has fulfilled dreams of personal freedom with custom, cruiser and touring motorcycles, riding experiences and events and a complete line of Harley-Davidson motorcycle parts, accessories, general merchandise, riding gear and apparel. Harley-Davidson Financial Services provides wholesale and retail financing, insurance, extended service and other protection plans and credit card programs to Harley-Davidson dealers and riders in the U.S., Canada and other select international markets."

The company has seen sales slow down. Their most recent earnings report was October 20th. Q3 earnings growth was flat (+0%) from a year ago at $0.69 a share. That missed estimates by 8 cents. Revenues only rose +0.9% to $1.14 billion, which also missed estimates. The company said their dealer new motorcycle sales were down -1.4% worldwide from a year ago. Their U.S. sales fell -2.5%. Shipments came in below guidance.

Matt Levatich, President and Chief Executive Officer, said, "We expect a heightened competitive environment to continue for the foreseeable future." The company lowered their shipment guidance for 2015. They also lowered their margin guidance. The stock reacted with a big drop on the earnings miss and lowered guidance. Multiple analyst firms downgraded the stock in response to the news.

Technically HOG is in a bear market. Shares have a bearish trend of lower highs and lower lows. HOG spent most of November struggling with resistance at $50.00. The recent weakness has pushed shares to new two-year lows. The next drop could push HOG toward $40 or lower. Tonight we are suggesting a trigger to launch bearish positions at $45.75.

My biggest concern is some analyst deciding that HOG looks "cheap" on valuation. At this point HOG could be a value trap. Cheap stocks can always get cheaper.

- Suggested Positions -

Short HOG stock @ $45.75

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

Long FEB $45 PUT (HOG160219P45) entry $2.59

01/06/16 new stop @ 44.55
12/16/15 new stop @ 47.35
12/11/15 triggered @ $45.75
Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike


iPath S&P500 VIX Futures ETN - VXX - close: 23.60 change: +2.31

Stop Loss: None, no stop at this time.
Target(s): $16.65
Current Gain/Loss: -8.2%
2nd position Gain/Loss: +18.6%
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:
01/07/16: The stock market's decline is fueling gains for the volatility index. The VIX rose +21% today. The VXX followed with a +10% jump.

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

SolarCity Corp. - SCTY - close: 50.20 change: -0.24

Stop Loss: 47.95
Target(s): To Be Determined
Current Gain/Loss: -10.6%
Entry on January 05 at $53.61
Listed on January 04, 2016
Time Frame: Exit PRIOR to earnings (late January or early February)
Average Daily Volume = 3.8 million
New Positions: see below

Comments:
01/07/16: Solar energy stocks were crushed today. The TAN solar energy ETF fell -9.15%. This marked solar stocks as one of the worst performers today. The main culprit was a -39% disaster in shares of SUNE. This pressured the whole group lower. FSLR lost -4.7%. CSIQ lost -15.7% today. SCTY fell -6.2% and broke down below its 200-dma and below recent support near $48.40. Our stop loss was hit at $47.95.

- Suggested Positions -

Long SCTY stock @ $53.61 exit $47.95 (-10.6%)

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

FEB $55 CALL (SCTY160219C55) entry $3.85 exit $1.61 (-58.2%)

01/07/16 stopped out @ 47.95
01/05/16 triggered on gap open at $53.61, suggested entry was $53.15
Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike

chart: