NEW DIRECTIONAL PUT PLAYS

Southwest Airlines Co. - LUV - close: 34.19 change: -0.81

Stop Loss: 36.05
Target(s): To Be Determined
Current Option Gain/Loss: Unopened
Average Daily Volume = 7.9 million
Entry on June -- at $---.--
Listed on June 13, 2015
Time Frame: Exit prior to earnings in late July
New Positions: Yes, see below

Company Description

Trade Description:
Last year LUV was one of the best performing stocks in the S&P 500 with a +124% gain. Shares are not seeing a repeat this year. In fact the stock is down -19% year to date. Most of the major airline stocks have been suffering as investors fear overcapacity will kill profits.

LUV is in the services sector. They're part of the regional airline industry. According to the company, "In its 44th year of service, Dallas-based Southwest Airlines (LUV) continues to differentiate itself from other air carriers with exemplary Customer Service delivered by more than 46,000 Employees to more than 100 million Customers annually. Southwest operates more than 3,400 flights a day, serving 93 destinations across the United States and five additional countries."

There are plenty of bullish investors rooting for LUV. After years of belt tightening with high oil prices the airline industry finally found some discipline and profits boomed. LUV has been a great example and many consider it the "best-in-breed" among the major airliners. LUV's earnings have surged from $0.43 a share in 2011 to $1.64 per share in 2014.

The big drop in crude oil last year was a major boon for most of the airline companies. Fuel is a huge expense and while oil has bounced off its 2015 lows it is still a lot cheaper than last year's prices. So why are airline stocks getting crushed? The biggest worry is the industry will build into much capacity (over supply) and this will lead to price wars, which could slash profitability.

On May 20th airline stocks were crushed, shares of LUV included, after the American Airlines CEO said they would aggressively compete on price. This is after AAL had already warned that their margins would shrink in 2016 versus 2015. News that LUV was planning to boost capacity by +8% in 2015 also helped spark the plunge lower.

The sell-off in airline stocks has continued as more companies downgrade their outlook. United Airlines (UAL) recently reported that their capacity had outpaced traffic growth. Delta (DAL) warned that their Q2 revenues would decline. Even LUV warned that their May passenger revenue per available seat mile (PRASM) was down -6% from a year ago. They adjusted their 2015 Q2 PRASM estimate to be down -4% to -5% from a year ago.

In spite of all the negativity there are a ton of analysts who are still bullish on the group. If you do any research you'll see a lot of voices shouting that the airline stocks are a buy. You'll hear how the airlines will avoid the mistakes of the past. There are plenty of analysts suggesting the airlines are a buy because their valuations are so cheap. Even the International Air Transport Association (IATA) recently raised their 2015 global estimate on airline profits from $25 billion to 29.3 billion thanks to lower oil prices and record high load factors (near 80%).

On one hand the bullish view point on airline stocks is true. Traffic is still growing. Oil prices remain depressed compared to the last few years. Valuations do look cheap. Eventually this group will get so cheap that they will find a bottom. Unfortunately that could be another -10% to -20% from current levels.

Technically LUV is a sell. The stock produced a bearish double top with its peaks in January and March. It has sliced through multiple layers of support and broken the longer-term up trend. The $34.00 level looks like short-term support. We are suggesting a trigger to launch short-term bearish positions at $33.85. Earnings are coming up in late July and we'll likely exit before LUV reports.

Trigger @ $33.85

- Suggested Positions -

Buy the SEP $33 PUT (LUV150918P33) current ask $1.75
option price is a current quote and not a suggested entry price.

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

Daily Chart:

Weekly Chart: