Editors Note:

The Russell 2000 gained another 16 points to close at 1,298 and a new high. The chart below is scary. Those kinds of gains are not sustainable. We need to see 2-3 days of decent profit taking that would allow the indexes to build a new base for another leg higher.

The Dow and Nasdaq are going through that process now. The Nasdaq is really getting hit from the sector rotation out of big cap tech stocks. The Russell is benefitting from the continued rally in the biotechs but that did not keep the Nasdaq positive today.

The Mentor Graphics play finally concluded. Siemens is goig to buy them for $37.25 a share and I am recommending we close the position.




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


FTK - Flotek
Long stock position entered at the open.

MENT - Mentor Graphics
Siemens announced a buyout. Close the position.



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BULLISH Play Updates

FTK - Flotek - Company Profile

Comments:

No specific news. Shares posted a minor gain despite a drop in oil prices.

Original Trade Description: November 12th.

Flotek Industries, Inc. develops and supplies oilfield products, services, and equipment to the oil, gas, and mining industries in the United States and internationally. The company's Energy Chemistry Technologies segment designs, develops, manufactures, packages, and markets chemistries under the Complex nano-Fluid brand for use in oil and gas well drilling, cementing, completion, stimulation, and production activities, as well as for use in enhanced and improved oil recovery markets. This segment also constructs and manages automated material handling facilities; and manages loading facilities and blending operations for oilfield services companies. The company's Drilling Technologies segment inspects, manufactures, sells, markets, and rents down-hole drilling equipment that are used in energy, mining, and industrial drilling activities through direct and agent-based sales. Company description from FinViz.com.

In the Q3 cycle they reported a loss of 5 cents on revenue of $73.7 million. That was slightly more than the estimates for a 3-cent loss. Revenue estimates were for $79.5 million. The company explained their 16.2% decline in revenue saying there was a 43.2% reduction in the active rig count in Q3 compared to Q3-2015. In other words, their available business was cut nearly in half but they only recorded a 16% decline in revenue. That was actually a 1.0% increase sequentially from Q2.

Flotek services oil wells and especially new wells with their down hole products including their patented Complex nano-Fluid (CnF) technology that is used in fracking wells. Unlike fracking chemicals used by others, the Flotek CnF chemicals are completely non-toxic and have been proven to provide a slippery surface in the reservoir so that oil flows freely. This nontoxic chemical mix made from citrus oils is seen as a plus for producers constantly under fire for potential ground water contamination.

With rigs going back to work and drilled but uncompleted wells being brought online, the company said they were seeing signs of recovery in the sector. The drop in crude prices to $43 last week failed to depress the stock.

FTK has put in a bottom at $11 and could be ready to move towards the September highs at $16.

If OPEC actually announces some kind of production agreement on Nov 30th, the sector could respond aggressively.

Earnings Feb 1st.

Position 11/14/16:

Long FTK shares @ $11.72, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

No options recommended because of price.



MENT - Mentor Graphics - Company Profile

Comments:

Siemens has agreed to buy Mentor Graphics for $37.25 per share or $4.5 billion. Part of the reason for entering the position was the activist shareholder position with Paul Singer recommending they explore strategic alternatives. There was heavy call option activity as well suggesting there was a deal brewing. We were rewarded for our patience.

CLOSE THE POSITION

Original Trade Description: October 13th.

Mentor Graphics Corporation provides electronic design automation software and hardware solutions to design, analyze, and test electro-mechanical systems, electronic hardware, and embedded systems software worldwide. It offers printed circuit boards; Mentor Graphics Scalable Verification tools; Questa platform to verify systems and integrated circuits (ICs); FastSPICE, Eldo, and ADVance MS analog/mixed signal simulation tools; and Veloce hardware emulation system. Further, the company provides software, tools, and professional engineering services; and methodology development, enterprise integration, and deployment services. It sells and licenses its products through direct sales force, distributors, and sales representatives to the communications, computer, consumer electronics, semiconductor, networking, multimedia, military and aerospace, and transportation industries. Company description from FinViz.com.

Billionaire Paul Singer, head of Elliott Management, announced on Sept 29th his firm was taking an active 8.1% stake in Mentor Graphics. In the SEC filing Elliott said there are "strategic opportunities" available at MENT and he is going to force a sale. Singer is no stranger to activist investing. Since 1994 he has launched 114 campaigns and 14 proxy fights when companies do not take his advice and get the M&A ball rolling. Elliott has $27 billion under management and Mentor only has a $3 billion market cap. If the board does not take action quickly, Elliott could launch a proxy fight to get enough people on the board that will take action. As a relatively small company, Mentor is in the crosshairs and there is very little chance for escape.

Shares spiked in the middle of the day on Thursday after TheStreet posted an article explaining Elliott's game plan. The close at $27.92 was a 15-year high. Since Elliott announced his position at $24.69 the shares have risen about $3.50 with $2 of that the first day. Elliott is in for the long term and they will not be bailing on a $3 gain. They have a much larger goal in mind.

Earnings Nov 17th.

A lot of investors follow these activist funds and I would expect the stock to continue to rise as the headlines appear. More than 7,000 Jan $30 calls were bought today against an open interest of only 3,944.

Because of the afternoon spike I was going to put an entry trigger on the position just over the afternoon high. However, the S&P futures are down hard again tonight and maybe we will get an opportunity to buy the stock lower so I did not add the trigger. Support is $26.

Position 10/14/16:

Long Jan $30 call @ $1.35, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

Previously Closed 11/1/16: Long MENT shares @ $28.54, exit $28.25, -.29 loss



RCII - Rent a Center - Company Profile

Comments:

No specific news. New 4-week high.

Original Trade Description: November 9th.

Rent-A-Center, Inc., leases household durable goods to customers on a rent-to-own basis. The company operates through four segments: Core U.S., Acceptance Now, Mexico, and Franchising. It offers durable products, such as consumer electronics; appliances; computers, including tablets; smartphones; and furniture, including accessories under rental purchase agreements. The company also provides merchandise on an installment sales basis; and offers the rent-to-own transaction to consumers who do not qualify for financing from the traditional retailer through kiosks within retailer's locations. It operates retail installment sales stores under the Get It Now and Home Choice names; and rent-to-own and franchised rent-to-own stores under the Rent-A-Centre, ColorTyme, and RimTyme names. As of December 31, 2015, the company owned and operated approximately 2,672 stores in the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico, including 45 retail installment sales stores; 1,444 Acceptance Now kiosk locations in 40 states and Puerto Rico; 532 Acceptance Now direct locations; and 143 stores in Mexico, as well as franchised 227 rent-to-own stores in 31 states under the Rent-A-Center, ColorTyme, and RimTyme names. Company description from FinViz.com.

For Q3, the company posted earnings of 11 cents compared to estimates for 9 cents. Revenue of $693.9 million missed estimates for $698.4 million. Same store sales fell -8.4% but that was actually better than the 9.8% estimates. For the full year they guided to earnings of $1.05-$1.15 and revenue of $2.07 to $2.10 billion.

On the surface those results were terrible. The CEO said the "Q3 earnings were negatively impacted by unexpected capacity-related system outages following the full implementation of our new store information management system within our core U.S. stores" and he was "terribly disappointed." Fortunately, the problem is now behind them and Q4 is normally a strong quarter.

Earnings Jan 25th.

Shares crashed from $13 to $8 on the earnings and have now rebounded over the last four weeks to $11. The trend over the last month has been steady and there is no reason to expect that to change over the next month. If the market is going to be positive now that the election uncertainty has passed, then the stock should do well.

Position 11/10/16 with a RCII trade at $11.25

Long RCII shares @ $11.25, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

Optional:
Long Dec $12.50 call @ 20 cents, no stop loss.




BEARISH Play Updates

EBAY - Ebay Inc - Company Profile

Comments:

No specific news. Shares lost -2.6% in a mixed market. Maybe they are finally going to head lower.

Original Trade Description: October 31st.

eBay Inc. operates e-commerce platforms that connect various buyers and sellers worldwide. Its platforms enable sellers to organize and offer inventory for sale; and buyers to find and buy it virtually anytime and anywhere. The company's Marketplace platforms include its online marketplace at ebay.com and the eBay mobile apps; and StubHub platforms comprise its online ticket platform at stubhub.com and the StubHub mobile apps, which enable fans to purchase tickets to the games, concerts, and theater shows. Its Classifieds platforms include a collection of brands, such as Mobile.de, Kijiji, Gumtree, Marktplaats, eBay Classifieds, and others that offer online classifieds and help people find whatever they are looking for in their local communities. The company platforms enable users to find, buy, sell, and pay for items through various online, mobile, and offline channels, which include retailers, distributors, liquidators, import and export companies, auctioneers, catalog and mail-order companies, classifieds, directories, search engines, commerce participants, shopping channels, and networks. Company description from FinViz.com.

For more than a decade Ebay has been the primary sales hub on the web but as Amazon and others grew, Ebay fell out of favor. There are very few new items left for sale on Ebay because you can buy they cheaper from Walmart, Target or Amazon. That left Ebay to struggle to increase sales on mostly used items.

In Q3 Ebay earnings fell from $545 million and 45 cents to $418 million and 36 cents. For Q4 they expect revenue of $2.36-$2.41 billion and earnings of 52-54 cents. Analysts were expecting $2.4 billion and 54 cents. For the full year, they are now guiding for $1.85-$1.90 and $8.95 to $9.0 billion. Analysts were expecting $1.89 and $8.95. For both Q3 and the full year analysts were expecting more than the Ebay guidance.

Shares fell 18% on the news to $28.61 then rebounded two days later to $29.71. That rebound has faded and EBAY closed at $28.51 on Monday with support well below at $24.

There is just no excitement surrounding EBAY today. Since they spun off PayPal they have been struggling to grow the business. I believe shares will retest the $24 level unless we get a runaway tech rally after the election. I am not holding my breath.

Position 11/1/16:

Long Dec $28 put @ .72, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

Previously closed 11/10/16: Short EBAY shares @ $28.51, exit $28.75, -.24 loss.



VXX - Volatility Index Futures - ETF Description

Comments:

The VXX edged down despite the mixed market but it was only a minor decline.

Since this is a long-term play, I am not going to comment on it every day. Just forget it is in your portfolio and hope for a strong market rally in Q4.

Original Trade Description: September 6th.

The VXX is a short term volatility product based on the VIX futures. As a futures product it has the rollover curse. Every time they roll to a new futures contract they have to pay a premium and that lowers the price of the ETF. It is a flawed product with a perpetual decline built in from the monthly roll over in the futures contracts.

As evidence of this flaw, they have now down four 1:4 reverse stock splits. The last four reverse splits occurred at $13.11 (11/2010), $8.77 (10/2012), $12.84 (11/2013), $9.52 (8/8/16). The prospectus says it can reverse split anytime it trades under $25 for a prolonged period and the splits will always be 1:4.

After the August split the ETF moved sideways for four weeks at $36. I think everyone was waiting for the typical August volatility. When it did not show up and the market rallied on Friday that support broke. And the decline has begun.

Because there may be some September volatility, anyone in this position must understand that it may move higher before it moves lower BUT it will always move lower. We just have to wait it out. Volatility never lasts forever.

Unfortunately, put options are expensive with a volatility instrument at this price level. The only recommendation is to short the ETF and forget it. If we do get a prolonged rally as some are expecting we could see strong gains in the next 2-3 months. This will be a long-term position. This is not a 2-3 week play. I can guarantee you, if history holds, we can play this until it splits 1:4 again at $10. Once we are in the position and profitable I will put a trailing stop loss on it. We will take profits and then look for a bounce to get back in. We could keep this play in the portfolio on a trading basis permanently.

Position 9/7/16:

Short VXX shares @ $33.88, no initial stop loss.

No options recommended because of price.





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