The Dow lost -108 points and the resistance at 18,000 remains intact. The market gapped lower at the open to find support at 17,800 and the buying was minimal before the close at 17,838. That leaves the Dow -162 points below resistance and in the prior congestion range. We could go either way from here.
It was a down day in a weak market and all the bullish positions declined. No surprise there.
Current Position Changes
QQQ - Nasdaq 100 ETF
The short position in the QQQ was opened with a trade at $106.85.
VNET - 21Vianet
The short position was entered at $9.57.
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 in a weak market.
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 decline despite a price target hike to $25.50 by Jefferies and they reiterated a buy rating.
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. Down slightly on the drop in Tesla shares when they missed delivery estimates.
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.
BEARISH Play Updates
ATHM - AutoHome - Company Profile
No specific news. Resistance at 421.25 held.
Original Trade Description: June 29th.
Autohome Inc. operates as an online destination for automobile consumers in the People's Republic of China. The company, through its Websites, autohome.com.cn and che168.com, delivers comprehensive, independent, and interactive content to automobile buyers and owners, including professionally produced content that comprises automobile-related articles and reviews, pricing trends in various markets, and photos and video clips; automobile library, which includes a range of specifications covering performance levels, dimensions, powertrains, vehicle bodies, interiors, safety, entertainment systems, and other unique features, as well as manufacturers suggested retail prices; new and used automobile listings, and promotional information; and user forums and user generated content. Autohome Inc. also offers advertising services for automakers and dealers; dealer subscription services that allow dealers to market their inventory and services through its Websites; used automobile listings services, which allow used automobile dealers and individuals to market their automobiles for sale on its Websites.
In April, Telstra Corp, which owns 55% of Autohome, said it was going to sell a 48% stake to Ping An Insurance Group for $1.6 billion. CEO James Qin is now leading a revolt against his previous benefactor that helped launch the company and get it listed on the NYSE. There is a suit and Qin is launching a rival bid. When the company needed startup capital Telstra was the investor. Qin and other minority shareholders representing 11% of the outstanding shares have lodged a petition with the Grand Court of the Cayman Islands where the company is registered. The suit claims Telstra's representatives on the board of Autohome allegedly acted in bad faith and breached the rules. Qin is trying to form a coalition with multiple private equity firms to launch a competing bid. Qin made a firm offer of $31 a share in April including a bank letter of credit to finance the deal and it was rejected. The next day Telstra said it was selling its shares for $29.55 to Ping An. Qin's group countered at $31.50 that caused a peak in Autohome shares at $32.15 in expectations for a bidding war that never appeared.
The board is deeply divided and Telstra will not provide any supporting documents for the "purported" sale to Ping An. Telstra has 5 directors on the board and there are 5 independent directors. On May 13th Telstra convened a board meeting to approve the deal. The 5 independent board members refused to show up so there was no majority. The 5 Telstra directors appointed a 6th director on the spot, completely against the corporate rules, and the 6 directors approved the deal. The group aligned with Qin filed the petition with the court to put a hold on any acquisition until the proper documents are submitted and the full board can review the documents vote on the matter. Telstra still refuses to provide any documentation and the fight continues.
Meanwhile shares are crashing. On Monday, the company reported the CEO Qin and the CFO had been replaced and five new directors had been appointed. The company stated the sale of 47.4% of the outstanding shares to Ping An had been completed on June 22nd. It appears the hostile takeover has been completed but the court fight is ongoing.
On Wednesday, shares closed at a historic low at $20.54. This company appears broken and normal shareholders are fleeing to the exits. There was no bounce on either is the last two days when the markets were up big.
Zacks changed their rating to Strong Sell. Credit Suisse changed their rating to Sell.
Earnings August 3rd.
Short ATHM shares @ $20.50, initial stop loss $22.15.
QQQ - Nasdaq 100 ETF - ETF Profile
We entered the August $106 put when the QQQ traded at $106.85. The alternate recommendation of the $108 put at a higher level has been cancelled.
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. VNET was relatively stable today with a very minor range and a 7 cent gain. Heavily sold shares typically rally when the market is weak. They are seen as a relatively safe play because they have already been sold.
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, initial stop loss $10.65.
Long August $9 put @ 85 cents. No initial stop loss.
VXX - Ipath VIX Short Term Futues ETN - ETN Profile
No material gain despite the weak market. We are probably going to be in this position for a long time as it declines to new lows well under $13 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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