Editors Note:

Another opening dip was reversed just as the bears were starting to pile on the shorts. The opening dip was reversed well above the intraday lows from Wednesday suggesting the dip buyers are becoming more aggressive. The current trend is sideways with an upward bias with dip buying becoming an art form.

The Russell 2000 was the biggest gainer with a strong rebound off the new support at 1,221 and suggesting the fund manager indecision is fading. After two days of declines the Russell closed at a three day high.

Futures are down again tonight so we get to test that dip theory again on Friday. However, the option expiration could confuse the strategy.




Current Portfolio


Stop Loss Updates

Check the graphic below for any new stop losses in bright yellow. We need to always be prepared for an unexpected decline.


Profit Targets

Check the graphic below for any profit stops in green. We need to always be prepared for a profit exit at resistance.





Current Position Changes


MRO - Marathon Oil
The long position was opened at $16.05 this morning.


NTCT - NetScout
The long position remains unopened until $28.85. High today was $28.83.


VSI - Vitamin Shoppe
The short position remains unopened until $26.20. Low today was $26.23.


FDC - First Data
The long position remains unopened until $13.50. High today was $13.41.



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BULLISH Play Updates

FDC - First Data - Company Profile

Comments:

No specific news. Still fighting resistance at $13.35. Very close to breaking through.

This position remains unopened until FDC trades at $13.50. The high today was $13.41.

Original Trade Description: August 10th.

First Data provides electronic ecommerce solutions for merchants, financial institutions and card issuers worldwide. The operate in three segments including global business solutions, global financial solutions and network & security solutions. This includes retail point of sale solutions, mobile ecommerce solutions and webstore solutions. They currently process 2,500 financial transactions a second across 118 countries.

First Data was taken private in 2007 for $26 billion by KKR. This debt ended up on the company's books and weighed them down for the last ten years. KKR helped them land a $3.5 billion private placement in 2013. That helped to reduce some of the high interest debt. KKR took them public again in 2015 and raised about $2.8 billion. That was the largest IPO of 2015. The company is still fighting the debt problem with $480 million in interest payments in the first half of 2016. Earlier this year we tried to short FDC because they were strangling under this debt. The situation appears to be improving.

In Q2 they reported adjusted earnings of 35 cents that beat estimates for 34 cents. It also beat the $26 million loss they took in the year ago quarter. Revenue rose 1.9% to $2.93 billion. Revenue in the global financial solutions division rose 12% to $395 million. This is their growth engine. They reduced their net debt by $300 million in the quarter.

Earnings Oct 26th.

Shares spiked from $12 to $13 after earnings and they are about to break over long-term resistance at $13.35. The weakness and volatility from the first six months of 2016 may be coming to an end. If FDC can move over that $13.35 level the next target would be around $16.50.

With a FDC trade at $13.50

Buy FDC shares, initial stop loss $12.65

Optional: Buy Oct $14 call, currently .55, no stop loss.



MRO - Marathon Oil - Company Profile

Comments:

No specific news but 3% rally in oil prices caused a major breakout in MRO.

Original Trade Description: August 17th.

Marathon Oil Corporation operates as an energy company. It operates through three segments: North America E&P, International E&P, and Oil Sands Mining. The North America E&P segment develops, explores for, produces, and markets crude oil and condensate, natural gas liquids, and natural gas in North America. The International Exploration and Production segment explores for, produces, and markets crude oil and condensate, natural gas liquids, and natural gas in Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, Libya, and the United Kingdom; and produces and markets products manufactured from natural gas, such as liquefied natural gas and methanol in Equatorial Guinea. The Oil Sands Mining segment mines, extracts and produces oil from Alberta and Canada.

Marathon reported a Q2 loss of 23 cents beating estimates by a penny. Revenue of $1.3 billion beat estimates for $1.19 billion. Q2 production averaged 384,000 Boepd and in line with guidance. U.S. production averaged 189,000 Boepd. They said they were adding extra rigs in Q3 thanks to new inventory of leases in the STACK play Oklahoma. Raymond James upgraded them from outperform to strong buy and Bank of America upgraded them from neutral to buy.

Earnings November 2nd.

Shares are poised to break over resistance at $15.75 as OPEC chats up the headlines about a possible production freeze in late September. The next material resistance is $20.

Position 8/18/16 with a MRO trade at $16.05

Long MRO shares @ $16.50, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

Optional:

Long Oct $17 call @ 70 cents. No initial stop loss.



NTCT - NetScout - Company Profile

Comments:

No specific news but shares are still holding their breakout gains and starting to move higher.

The position remains unopened until a trade at $28.85. High today was $28.83.

Original Trade Description: August 15th.

NetScout Systems, Inc. provides real-time operational intelligence and performance analytics for service assurance, and cyber security solutions internationally. The company offers nGeniusONE management software that enables customers to predict, preempt, and resolve network and service delivery problems, as well as facilitate the optimization and capacity planning of their network infrastructures; and specialized platforms and analytic modules that enable its customers to analyze and troubleshoot traffic in radio access and Wi-Fi networks. It also provides Intelligent Data Sources under the Infinistream brand name that provide real-time collection and analysis of data from the network. In addition, the company offers portable network analysis and troubleshooting tools to identify key issues that impact network and application performance. Further, it provides security solutions that enable service providers and enterprises to protect their networks against DDoS attacks; and threat detection solutions that enable enterprises to identify and investigate advanced threat campaigns that present tangible risks to the integrity of their networks.

In late July NetScout reported adjusted earnings of 28 cents that beat estimates for 25 cents. Revenue od $278 million beat estimates for $275 million. They guided for full year earnings of $1.87-$2.12, up from $1.85-$2.10 with revenue of $1.20-$1.25 billion.

NetScout provides their services to the enterprise and service providers. Their products enable network monitoring to maintain continuous uptime and network availability while isolating bottlenecks and intrusions. Their network visibility switches were ranked number one in market share by IHS Network Monitoring.

They posted record attendance at the company's Engage 16 user conference in May. They released version 2.1 of their advanced security solution, Spectrum. They have a new range of products to be released in the coming months that will boost full year revenue for 2017.

Earnings Oct 27th.

Shares spiked on earnings in late July and then experienced the mandatory post earnings depression phase where they consolidated for two-weeks. On Monday they broke over resistance and closed at a 8-month high.

With a NTCT trade at $28.85

Buy NTCT shares, currently $28.62, initial stop loss $27.10

No options recommended.



RDN - Radian Group - Company Profile

Comments:

No specific news but shares are still holding their breakout gains. Today was an 8-month closing high.

Original Trade Description: July 30th.

Radian Group Inc. provides mortgage and real estate products and services in the United States. It operates through two segments, Mortgage Insurance, and Mortgage and Real Estate Services. The Mortgage Insurance segment provides credit-related insurance coverage, principally through private mortgage insurance that protects mortgage lenders from all or a portion of default-related losses on residential mortgage loans made to home buyers, as well as facilitates the sale of these mortgage loans in the secondary mortgage market. It offers primary mortgage insurance coverage on residential first-lien mortgage loans. This segment primarily serves mortgage bankers, mortgage brokers, commercial banks, savings institutions, credit unions, and community banks. The Services segment provides outsourced services, information-based analytics, and specialty consulting services for buyers and sellers of, and investors in, mortgage- and real estate-related loans and securities, and other asset-backed securities. This segment offers loan review and due diligence, monitoring of mortgage servicer and loan performance, valuation and component services, real estate owned asset management services, and outsourced mortgage services. Radian Group Inc. was founded in 1977.

With the new credit rules borrowers have to have more money down and a higher credit score to qualify for a home loan. Even then there is sometimes the requirement for credit insurance to allow the loan to be sold in the secondary market. Radian provides the insurance and does the due diligence required to write the insurance profitability. They continue to monitor the mortgage servicers to prevent the loans from going to deep into default by being proactive.

In their recent quarter they reported earnings of 38 cents that missed estimates for 40 cents. However, shares went up because of the positive guidance. They are writing more insurance on better credits. They wrote insurance on $12.9 billion in loans, a 60% increase from the $8.1 billion in Q1. Of the loans written 57% of the borrowers have FICO scores over 740 compared to 26% in 2007. Only 7% of loans underwritten had loan to value greater than 95% compared to 24% in 2007. Some 86% of insurance in force is on new loans written after 2008. Because of the higher scores and the smaller loan to value on most loans they were able to reduce their loan loss reserves from $1.204 billion to $848 million.

They are paying off debt and redeemed a $325 million note. They had $718 million in liquidity at the end of the quarter. They authorized another $125 million share repurchase and the board authorized the early redemption of $196 million in senior notes due in 2017. In Q2 they also bought back $12.4 million of convertible notes due in 2019.

Earnings Oct 27th.

Despite the minor earnings miss the company appears to be doing everything right. Shares have risen for two consecutive days after their earnings. Resistance is $13 and they closed at $12.90 on Friday. If they break over that resistance the gains could accelerate.

With a RDN trade at $13.15

Buy RDN shares, initial stop loss $11.85.

Optional:

Buy Sept $14 call, currently .20, no stop loss.



TWTR - Twitter - Company Profile

Comments:

Evercore ISI downgraded Twitter from hold to sell with a $17 price target. Shares lost -$1.17 to close at $19. The drop put the stock within 7 cents of our stop loss at $18.85 intraday.

Original Trade Description: - August 1st.

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.

Position 8/1/16:

Long TWTR shares @ $16.64, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

Previously closed 7/28/16: Long TWTR shares @ $17.24, exit $15.89, -1.35 loss.
Previously closed 8/1/16: Long Aug $17 put @ 62 cents, exit .85, +.23 gain.



UIS - Unisys Corp - Company Profile

Comments:

The USDA awarded UIS a secure applications contract worth $232 million. Shares were up slightly in a weak market.

Original Trade Description: August 13th.

Unisys Corporation provides information technology services worldwide. It operates through two segments, Services and Technology. The Services segment provides cloud and infrastructure services, application services, and business process outsourcing services. The Technology segment designs and develops software, servers, and related products. It offers a range of data center, infrastructure management, and cloud computing offerings for clients to virtualize and automate data-center environments. This segment's product offerings include enterprise-class servers, such as the ClearPath Forward family of fabric servers; the Unisys Stealth family of security software; and operating system software and middleware. The company serves commercial, financial services, public sector, and the U.S. federal government through direct sales force, distributors, resellers, and alliance partners. Unisys Corporation was founded in 1886.

Unisys reported Q2 adjusted earnings of 81 cents compared to estimates for 25 cents. Those earnings more than doubled from the 36 cents in Q2-2015. Revenue of $748.9 million easily beat estimates for $688.1 million. Profit margins rose from -6.5% in Q2-2015 to +6.6%. They reaffirmed full year guidance for earnings, revenue, margins and free cash flow. They ended the quarter with an order backlog of $3.8 billion.

Technology revenue rose 30.7% and accounted for 18% of overall revenue. This is going to be a major profit center in future quarters. Profit margins in this unit rose 48%, up from 15.6% in the year ago quarter. Sales of the ClearPath software are soaring.

The Unisys Stealth security product was approved by the NSA for use in classified programs and making the product eligible for use by more than 20 countries to protect super sensitive systems and information.

On Thursday, Unisys won a government contract to move the Treasury Departments Comptroller of the Currency office to the cloud. This will affect more than 4,000 Treasury employees. Earlier in the year, Unisys moved the U.S. Dept of the Interior and its SAP-based financial management system to the cloud.

This company is at the right place at the right time with the right security products and the NSA approval opens a tremendous business opportunity in those 20 countries.

Earnings Oct 25th.

Shares spiked to $10.40 on the earnings news and then traded sideways for two weeks. Over the last several days the trend has turned positive and it closed at $10.55 on Friday and a 5-month high.

Position 8/15/16 with a UIS trade at $10.65

Long UIS shares @ $10.65, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.




BEARISH Play Updates

VSI - Vitamin Shoppe - Company Profile

Comments:

VSI came within 3 cents of our entry trigger at $26.20 at the intraday low. Shares rebounded 35 cents at the close. This may be another exercise in futility but we will give it a couple days and see if the negative trend resumes.

This position remains unopened until a trade at $26.20.

Original Trade Description: August 8th.

Vitamin Shoppe, Inc. operates as a multi-channel specialty retailer and contract manufacturer of nutritional products in the United States. It operates through three segments: Retail, Direct, and Manufacturing. The company provides custom manufacturing and private labeling services for VMS products, as well as develops and markets own branded products. It offers vitamins, minerals, herbs, specialty supplements, sports nutrition, and other health and wellness products of approximately 800 brands. The company sells its products through Vitamin Shoppe, Super Supplements, and Vitapath retail stores; and catalogs, as well as through its vitaminshoppe.com Website. As of March 1, 2016, it had approximately 700 company-operated retail stores.

The company reported Q2 earnings of 55 cents that missed estimates for 59 cents. Revenue of $332.7 million narrowly beat estimates for $331.6 million. The CEO warned, "The external environment was more promotional and volatile than we had anticipated and we responded by increasing our promotional activity. As a result, our performance for the quarter was mixed, with improved comps offset by lower margins. The positive comps in the quarter reflect the benefits of some of our new initiatives as well as stepped up promotional activity. In addition, our manufacturing business is performing below expectations with lower sales and margins, which also contributed to our overall weaker performance in the quarter." I was not a glowing report. He also said, "Given the current operating environment with variability from day to day, we have put in place a dedicated effort behind more aggressive cost controls and margin realization. Our goal will be to achieve the appropriate balance between revenue growth and profitability." That is a good example of a CEO trying to put a positive spin on a negative environment. Shares declined after his comments.

Earnings Nov 2nd.

I am a vitamin junkie. I cringe every time I have to buy a bottle of something that costs $50 to $75 and I am sure the normal consumer is also suffering from sticker shock when they see those prices. Obviously, you can buy the generic chemical equivalents for a lot less but if you are trying to buy the best quality formulations, it is expensive. Add in all the competition from the multilevels like Thrive and the vitamin boosted meal replacements from brands like Vega and the consumer has so many choices they can't make up their minds. All the chain stores like Kroger, Whole Foods, etc, are now carrying complete inventories from multiple competitive brands at discounted prices. This gets back to the "promotional environment" the CEO was talking about.

Since the earnings drop on July 28th shares have declined $5 and are currently struggling to hold support at $27.50 that dates back to May. A breakdown there targets $26.25 and the 52-week lows. If VSI does make a new low, I think we could see a significant drop. Vitamin Cottage (NGVC) is already at $12 and dropping after hitting highs over $40 at the same time VSI was hitting $65.

With a VXI trade at $26.20

Short VSI shares, initial stop loss $27.20.





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