Editor's Note:
The stock market resumed its sell-off today leaving the big cap U.S. indices in correction territory (down more than -10% from their highs). Stocks closed near their lows for the session, which doesn't bode well for tomorrow morning.

KR and TMH were stopped out.


Current Portfolio:


BULLISH Play Updates

Pinnacle Foods Inc. - PF - close: 43.01 change: -1.43

Stop Loss: 42.45
Target(s): To Be Determined
Current Gain/Loss: Unopened
Entry on January -- at $---.--
Listed on January 12, 2016
Time Frame: Exit PRIOR to earnings in late February
Average Daily Volume = 885 thousand
New Positions: Yes, see below

Comments:
01/13/16: The stock market's big drop today fueled a -3.2% plunge in PF. Shares dropped back toward its 50-dma before starting to bounce. I would be tempted to launch new bullish positions on a bounce back above its simple 200-dma (near $43.40). However, we will keep our suggested entry point at $45.15 for the moment.

Trade Description: January 12, 2016:
2016 is off to a rough start and investors could turn more defensive as they look at an uncertain future. That could be behind the rally in shares of PF these last several days.

PF is in the consumer goods sector. According to the company, "In more than 85% of American households, consumers reach for Pinnacle Foods brands. Pinnacle Foods is ranked on Fortune Magazine's 2015 Top 1000 companies list. We are a leading producer, marketer and distributor of high-quality branded food products, which have been trusted household names for decades. Headquartered in Parsippany, NJ, our business employs an average of 4,500 employees. We are a leader in the shelf-stable and frozen foods segments and our brands hold the #1 or #2 market position in 10 of the 14 major categories in which they compete.

Our Birds Eye Frozen segment manages brands such as Birds Eye®, gardein®, Birds Eye Steamfresh®, C&W®, McKenzie's®, and Freshlike® frozen vegetables, Birds Eye Voila! ® complete bagged frozen meals, Van de Kamp's® and Mrs. Paul's® frozen prepared seafood, Hungry-Man® frozen dinners and entrees, Aunt Jemima® frozen breakfasts, Lender's® frozen and refrigerated bagels, and Celeste® frozen pizza. Our Duncan Hines Grocery segment manages brands such as Duncan Hines® baking mixes and frostings, Vlasic® and Vlasic Farmer's Garden® shelf-stable pickles, Wish-Bone® and Western® salad dressings, Mrs. Butterworth's® and Log Cabin® table syrups, Armour® canned meats, Brooks® and Nalley® chili and chili ingredients, Duncan Hines® Comstock® and Wilderness® pie and pastry fruit fillings and Open Pit® barbecue sauces. Our Specialty Foods segment manages Tim's Cascade Snacks®, Hawaiian® kettle style potato chips, Erin's® popcorn, Snyder of Berlin® and Husman's® snacks in addition to our food service and private label businesses."

PF has been actively pursuing strategic acquisitions. Last year they bought Canadian-based Garden Protein International Inc., the maker of a plant-based protein brand Gardein. In the first quarter of 2016 PF is about to close on its acquisition of Boulder Brands Inc. (BDBD).

Here's a brief description of BDBD from the company, "Boulder Brands, Inc. is committed to offering food solutions that give consumers opportunities to improve their lives - one product at a time. The company's health and wellness platform consists of brands that target specific health trends: the Glutino® and Udi's Gluten Free® brands for gluten-free diets; the Earth Balance® brand for plant-based diets; EVOL foods for consumers seeking simple and pure ingredients; and the Smart Balance® brand for heart healthier diets."

The BDBD acquisition is expected to add about $0.20 5o PF's earnings in 2016. There has been some investor concern that PF may have paid too much for BDBD but the company feels the acquisition gives them a good position in the growing gluten-free market. Independent research firms forecast gluten-free sales to see a +6% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) between now and 2019. Meanwhile PF is forecasting their total sales to grow +22% CAGR from 2016-2018.

At least one Wall Street firm is bullish on PF. Yesterday BMO Capital Markets upgraded their outlook on PF to "outperform" and gave it a $50 price target. BMO feels that PF is their "top pick" for 2016.

Technically shares of PF have been consolidating sideways in a huge pennant-shaped consolidation for months (see weekly chart). At the same time shares have respected the long-term bullish trend of higher lows. The action this week has produced what looks like a bullish breakout from its major consolidation pattern. We want to see some follow through since the $45.00 region has been resistance in the past. Tonight we are listing a trigger to launch bullish positions at $45.15.

Trigger @ $45.15

- Suggested Positions -

Buy PF stock @ $45.15

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

Buy the MAR $45 CALL (PF160318C45)

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




BEARISH Play Updates

CF Industries - CF - close: 31.76 change: -0.78

Stop Loss: 33.60
Target(s): To Be Determined
Current Gain/Loss: +17.8%
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:
01/13/16: The S&P 500 lost -2.5% today. CF almost kept pace with a -2.4% drop of its own. I would not chase it here. Tonight we are adjusting our stop loss down to $33.60.

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

01/13/16 new stop @ 33.60
01/11/16 new stop @ 34.15
01/09/16 new stop @ 35.75
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


Eaton Corp. - ETN - close: 48.43 change: -1.52

Stop Loss: 50.75
Target(s): To Be Determined
Current Gain/Loss: +0.9%
Entry on January 11 at $48.85
Listed on January 09, 2016
Time Frame: Exit PRIOR to earnings in early February
Average Daily Volume = 3.9 million
New Positions: see below

Comments:
01/13/16: ETN rallied up to tag technical resistance at its 10-dma this morning and then promptly reversed lower. Shares fell -3.0% on the session and closed at new lows. This looks like a new entry point for bearish positions. Tonight we will adjust our stop loss down to $50.75.

Trade Description: January 9, 2016:
Industrial stocks did not have a good 2015. The XLI industrials ETF and the Dow Jones Industrial Average both fell more than -6% last year. ETN significantly underperformed its peers with a -23% decline for 2015. Part of the problem is weak demand overseas compounded by a stronger dollar. Plus, the manufacturing sector in the U.S. is in recession.

ETN is in the industrial goods sector. According to the company, "Eaton is a power management company with 2014 sales of $22.6 billion. Eaton provides energy-efficient solutions that help our customers effectively manage electrical, hydraulic and mechanical power more efficiently, safely and sustainably. Eaton has approximately 99,000 employees and sells products to customers in more than 175 countries."

Earnings and revenue growth for ETN was challenging last year. The company lowered guidance four times in 2015. Their most recent earnings report (Q3 results) from October 30th showed revenues were down -9.2% from a year ago. Earnings were down -25%.

ETN management is trying to be proactive. They plan to expand their restructuring efforts into 2016. Hopefully they will be able to cut costs by another $190 million if all goes as planned. The one positive side of ETN's slide has been the surge in its dividend. The stock just closed at three-year lows, which as boosted the dividend yield to 4.2%. Although I don't know why you'd buy ETN for the dividend if you are in jeopardy of losing more than 4% in the stock. The point & figure chart is forecasting a $42.00 target.

The ISM index measures manufacturing activity in the United States. December's ISM reading was negative for the second month in a row and marked the sixth monthly decline in a row. Numbers under 50.0 on the ISM index represent contraction. November's was 48.6. December's slipped to 48.2. Odds are it will be under the 50.0 again this month.

With the industrial sector in recession, revenues and earnings falling, the bearish momentum in ETN should continue. Last week's market decline has pushed ETN below round-number, psychological support at the $50.00 level. Now shares are poised to accelerate lower. Tonight we are suggesting a trigger to launch bearish positions at $48.85. My only caution is our time frame. ETN has earnings coming up in early February (no confirmed date yet). This could be a short-term three-four week play.

- Suggested Positions -

Short ETN stock @ $48.85

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

Long FEB $47.50 PUT (ETN160219P47.5) entry $1.55

01/13/16 new stop @ 50.75
01/11/16 triggered @ $48.85
Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike


Harley-Davidson, Inc. - HOG - close: 41.80 change: -0.55

Stop Loss: 44.15
Target(s): To Be Determined
Current Gain/Loss: +8.6%
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:
01/13/16: The bounce attempt in HOG failed near $43.00 this morning. Shares reversed into a -1.29% decline and a new closing low.

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

01/11/16 new stop @ 44.15
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: 25.20 change: +2.29

Stop Loss: None, no stop at this time.
Target(s): $16.65
Current Gain/Loss: -15.5%
2nd position Gain/Loss: +13.1%
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:
01/13/16: The market's plunge to new three-month lows fueled a big surge in the volatility index. The VIX gained +12.2%. Meanwhile the VXX added +10%.

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

The Kroger Co. - KR - close: 39.20 change: -2.04

Stop Loss: 40.45
Target(s): To Be Determined
Current Gain/Loss: -5.4%
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:
01/13/16: The combination of a disappointing earnings report from rival grocery store operator SUPERVALU Inc. (SVU) and the broader market's sell-off today was too much for shares of Kroger. KR plunged through support near $40.60 and $40.00 and its 50-dma. Our stop loss was hit at $40.45.

- Suggested Positions -

Long KR stock @ $42.75 exit $40.45 (-5.4%)

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

APR $45 CALL (KR160415C45) entry $1.15 exit $0.50 (-56.5%)

01/13/16 stopped out @ 40.45
12/30/15 triggered @ $42.75
Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike

chart:


Team Health Holdings - TMH - close: 40.55 change: -3.48

Stop Loss: 42.90
Target(s): To Be Determined
Current Gain/Loss: -5.8%
Entry on January 12 at $45.55
Listed on January 11, 2016
Time Frame: Exit PRIOR to earnings in early February
Average Daily Volume = 875 thousand
New Positions: see below

Comments:
01/13/16: TMH has been a terrible performer for us. We were triggered yesterday morning on a brief rally higher and shares immediately reversed lower and underperformed the market with a -2.4% drop. Today the relative weakness continued. TMH collapsed with a -12.6% plunge to an intraday low of $38.45. Shares managed to pare their losses to -7.9% by the closing bell. Our stop loss was hit at $42.90.

- Suggested Positions -

Long TMH stock @ $45.55 exit $42.90 (-5.8%)

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

FEB $50 CALL (TMH160219C50) entry $1.65 exit $0.65 (-60.6%)

01/13/16 stopped out @ 42.90
01/12/16 triggered @ $45.55
Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike

chart: