The path of least resistance appears to be higher for a good portion of the market.


CALL Play Updates

Bucyrus Intl. - BUCY - close: 52.61 change: -1.39 stop: 51.90

Shares of BUCY failed at the top of their trading range. If this pull back continues we can look for support near $50.50-50.00. Currently we're on the sidelines waiting for a breakout with a trigger to buy calls at $55.65. If triggered our first target is $59.90. Our second target is $64.00.

Picked on  December 01 at $ xx.xx <-- TRIGGER @ 55.65
Change since picked:       + 0.00
Earnings Date            02/18/10 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume =        2.8 million  
Listed on  December 01, 2009         


Caterpillar - CAT - close: 58.94 change: -0.74 stop: 58.49

CAT failed near the $60.00 level and under performed the wider market with a 1.2% decline. We're also on the sidelines here with CAT. The plan is to buy calls with a trigger at $61.51. If triggered our first target is $64.95. Our second target is $69.00.

Picked on  December 01 at $ xx.xx <-- TRIGGER @ 61.51
Change since picked:       + 0.00
Earnings Date            01/26/10 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume =        7.8 million  
Listed on  December 01, 2009         


Capella Education - CPLA - close: 71.64 change: +0.30 stop: 69.65

CPLA tried to rally but failed at its simple 10-dma. This is short-term bearish and definitely a concern. No new positions at this time.

I do consider this an aggressive, higher-risk trade. Currently the Point & Figure chart is bullish with an $85 target. The target for our earlier position is $79.50.

Picked on  November 24 at $ 72.55
Change since picked:       - 0.91
Earnings Date            02/11/10 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume =        126 thousand 
Listed on  November 24, 2009         


Fedex Corp. - FDX - close: 87.10 change: +1.22 stop: 80.75

FDX displayed relative strength with a 1.4% gain and a new 2009 high. Our first target to take profits is at $89.95. Our second target is $94.00. The Point & Figure chart is bullish with a $112 target.

FYI: Readers should note that I'm listing December options, which expire in three weeks. I would prefer to buy January calls but FDX is going to report earnings before December option expiration and we'll exit ahead of the earnings report so there is no need to pay for January's premium.

Picked on  December 01 at $ 85.75 
Change since picked:       + 1.35
Earnings Date            12/17/09 (confirmed)
Average Daily Volume =        2.6 million  
Listed on  November 30, 2009         


MSC Industrial Direct - MSM - close: 46.32 change: +0.44 stop: 44.90

MSM is slowly bouncing. The larger trend is still positive but I would hesitate to launch new positions right here. Our first target is $49.75. Our second target is $52.50.

Picked on  November 17 at $ 46.62
Change since picked:       + 0.30
Earnings Date            01/07/10 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume =        513 thousand 
Listed on  November 17, 2009         


Norfolk Southern - NSC - close: 52.22 change: -0.13 stop: 49.75

NSC only gave back a little bit of yesterday's gains. I remain positive. More aggressive traders could buy calls here. Otherwise look for a move over $53.00.

Our first target to take profits is at $54.90. Our second target is $58.50. Our time frame is several weeks. FYI: The Point & Figure chart is bullish with a $65 target.

Picked on  November 21 at $ 51.84 (small positions)/gap higher entry
Change since picked:       + 0.38 
Earnings Date            01/27/10 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume =        5.4 million  
Listed on  November 21, 2009         


Precision Castparts - PCP - close: 107.75 change: +0.71 stop: 103.49

PCP rebounded from its morning lows near $106.15 to close at a new 2009 high. I would use this move as a new bullish entry point.

Our first target to take profits is at $112.45. Our second target is $118.75. The Point & Figure chart is bullish with a $131 target.

Picked on  December 01 at $107.35
Change since picked:       + 0.40
Earnings Date            01/20/10 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume =        817 thousand 
Listed on  November 28, 2009         


Vertex Pharma - VRTX - close: 39.49 change: -0.37 stop: 38.49

There is no change from my prior comments. Our trigger to buy calls is at $40.25. We'll use a stop under last week's low. Our target to exit is at $44.25. My time frame is several weeks.

Picked on  November xx at $ xx.xx <-- TRIGGER @ 40.25
Change since picked:       + 0.00
Earnings Date            02/09/10 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume =        3.2 million  
Listed on  November 23, 2009         


PUT Play Updates

FISERV Inc. - FISV - close: 47.44 change: -0.04 stop: 48.55

FISV's bounce is struggling under resistance near $48.00. A move back under $47.00 could be used as a new bearish entry point. However, I would hesitate to launch new put positions if the S&P 500 breaks out from its recent trading range. Currently our bearish target o FISV is $42.25.

Picked on  November 28 at $ 46.29
Change since picked:       + 1.15
Earnings Date            02/02/10 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume =        1.4 million  
Listed on  November 28, 2009         


Green Mountain Coffee Roasters - GMCR - cls: 60.89 chg: -1.15 stop: 67.15 *new*

GMCR is still sliding and posted a 1.8% decline. The low today was $60.40 compared to our first target at $60.25. More conservative traders will want to strongly consider taking profits now! The $60.00 level is naturally round-number support and GMCR could see an oversold bounce. I'm lowering our stop loss down to $67.15. I'm not suggesting new positions at this time.

This is a higher-risk trade. GMCR has extremely high short interest. Our first target is $60.25. Our second target is $55.50.

Picked on  November 19 at $ 64.75
Change since picked:       - 3.86
Earnings Date            01/28/10 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume =        1.5 million  
Listed on  November 18, 2009         


Goldman Sachs - GS - close: 166.66 change: -0.97 stop: 176.05

GS is still lagging the markets. The stock spent most of today's session hovering around $166. I'm not suggesting new positions with the S&P 500 on the verge of a bullish breakout. Our first target is $155.50. More aggressive traders could aim for the $150 area or the simple 200-dma.

Picked on  November 25 at $168.75
Change since picked:       - 2.09
Earnings Date            12/15/09 (unconfirmed, could be in January)
Average Daily Volume =        9.5 million  
Listed on  November 21, 2009         


Research In Motion - RIMM - close: 59.81 change: +0.08 stop: 62.75

RIMM rallied toward its November 23rd high and its 30-dma and reversed lower. On a short-term basis this looks bearish. Unfortunately, if the major indices continue to climb higher RIMM will probably try and catch up. I'm not suggesting new positions. More conservative traders may want to lower their stops.

Our first target is $55.25. Our second target is $50.50. RIMM can be a volatile stock so I'm suggesting smaller position sizes.

Picked on  November 16 at $ 61.80
Change since picked:       - 1.99
Earnings Date            12/17/09 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume =       18.9 million  
Listed on  November 12, 2009         


Strangle & Spread Play Updates

(What is a strangle? It's when a trader buys an out-of-the-money (OTM) call and an OTM put on the same stock. The strategy is neutral. You do not care what direction the stock moves as long as the move is big enough to make your investment profitable.)

Apple Inc. - AAPL - close: 196.23 change: -0.74 stop: n/a

AAPL under performed the market again and dipped closer toward support near the bottom of its rising channel and its 50-dma. Volume is rising on the weakness, which is not normally a good sign.

More nimble traders might want to consider put options if AAPL breaks the 50-dma (currently at $195.00). I am no longer suggesting new strangle positions. We would prefer to launch new strangle positions in the $198-202 zone.

We have an aggressive December strangle and a less aggressive January strangle. The options in the December strangle were the December $210 calls (AJL-LV) and the December $190 puts (APV-XR). Our estimated cost is $3.83. We want to sell if either option hits $8.00 or more.

The options in the January strangle were January $220 calls (AJL-LV) and the January $180 puts (APV-XR). Our estimated cost is $5.60. We want to sell if either option hits $10.00 or more.

Picked on  November 30 at $199.91
Change since picked:       - 3.68
Earnings Date            01/21/10 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume =       15.1 million  
Listed on  November 30, 2009         


Goldman Sachs - GS - close: 166.66 change: -0.97 stop: n/a

The slow drift lower continues. It's interesting to see GS under performing the major indices. I am no longer suggesting new strangle positions on the stock.

The options suggested were the December $180 calls (GPY-LP) and the December $160 puts (GPY-XL). Our estimated cost is about $4.61. We want to sell if either option hits $9.00 or higher.

Picked on  November 21 at $171.67 /gap open entry
Change since picked:       - 5.01
Earnings Date            12/15/09 (unconfirmed, could be January)
Average Daily Volume =        9.5 million  
Listed on  November 21, 2009         


Ultra(Long)-S&P500 - SSO - close: 37.80 change: +0.06 stop: n/a

The S&P 500 and the SSO are inching closer and closer to a new bullish breakout. I'm not suggesting new strangle positions at this time.

The options suggested for this strangle were the December $40 calls (SUC-LN) and the December $34 puts (SOJ-XH). Our estimated cost was $1.70. We want to sell if either option hits $3.00 or higher.

Picked on  November 11 at $ 37.08
Change since picked:       + 0.72
Earnings Date            --/--/--
Average Daily Volume =         32 million  
Listed on  November 11, 2009         


United Parcel Service - UPS - close: 57.90 change: +0.02 stop: n/a

Shares of UPS are still stuck in a very narrow trading range. We want to launch new strangle positions in the $58.00-56.00 zone. More conservative traders may want to use January options instead of Decembers, which expire after December 18th.

The options suggested for this trade were the December $60 calls (UPS-LL) and the December $55 puts (UPS-XK). Our estimated cost is $1.05. We want to sell if either option hits $3.00 or more.

Picked on  November 21 at $ 57.99 /gap open entry
Change since picked:       - 0.09
Earnings Date            02/02/10 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume =        4.7 million  
Listed on  November 21, 2009         


CLOSED BULLISH PLAYS

Gold ETF - GLD - close: 119.18 change: +1.80 stop: 112.45

Target achieved. Gold futures surged to new highs near $1,218 an ounce. This prompted the GLD to gap open higher at $118.80 and post a 1.5% gain. Our target to exit was $118.50 so the play was closed at the open.

Chart:

Picked on   October 06 at $102.28
Change since picked:       +16.52 <-- 2nd exit @ 118.80 (+16.1%)
                               /1st target hit @ 109.50 (+7.0%)
Earnings Date            00/00/00
Average Daily Volume =       14.2 million  
Listed on   October 06, 2009         


CLOSED BEARISH PLAYS

iShares Biotech - IBB - close: 80.18 change: +0.62 stop: 80.05

Biotech stocks are breaking out past resistance. The IBB has broken through the $80.00 mark and hit our stop at $80.05. More nimble traders may want to switch directions and buy calls right here.

Chart:

Picked on  November 19 at $ 77.18 /gap down entry point
                             /originally listed at $77.86
Change since picked:       + 2.87 <-- stopped @ 80.05 (+3.7%)
Earnings Date            --/--/--
Average Daily Volume =        4.9 million  
Listed on  November 19, 2009         


Northern Trust - NTRS - close: 50.02 change: +0.64 stop: 50.26

Action in the banking sector was mixed on Wednesday but the oversold bounce in NTRS pushed shares past resistance near $50.00 and the stock hit our stop loss at $50.26.

Chart:

Picked on  November 12 at $ 49.18
Change since picked:       + 1.08 <-- stopped out @ 50.26 (+2.1%)
Earnings Date            01/21/10 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume =        3.0 million  
Listed on  November 12, 2009