Editor's Note:

Tuesday ended up being a quiet day in the stock market. For the most part securities churned sideways in a very narrow range as investors hold their breath until year end. Odds are good the last two days of 2009 will be similar.


CALL Play Updates

EQUINIX Inc. - EQIX - close: 108.00 change: +0.04 stop: 102.75

EQIX barely closed in positive territory after traders bought the dip near its rising 10-dma. Our first target is $109.50. Our second target is $113.50. The plan was to use small position sizes to limit risk. I am not suggesting new positions at this time.

Entry  on  December 09 at $103.02
Change since picked:       + 4.98 
Earnings Date            02/10/10 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume =        501 thousand 
Listed on  December 09, 2009         


Intl. Business Mach. - IBM - close: 131.85 change: -0.46 stop: 126.90

IBM traded in a pretty narrow range on Tuesday. If you missed yesterday's entry point you could jump in now but with a little patience you might get a better entry point on a dip back toward $131.00-130.00. Our first target is $134.95. Our second target is $139.00. Our time frame is about four weeks. We do not want to hold over IBM's earnings report.

Entry  on  December 28 at $131.55
Change since picked:       + 0.30
Earnings Date            01/19/10 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume =        5.8 million  
Listed on  December 26, 2009         


Infosys Tech. - INFY - close: 55.57 change: -0.29 stop: 51.95

INFY retreated toward round-number support near $55.00 and technical support at its 10-dma. I am not suggesting new positions at this time. INFY has already hit our first target at $55.75. Our second and final target is $59.50. We will plan to exit ahead of the January 12th earnings report.

Entry  on  December 05 at $ 51.88 /gap down entry point
                           /originally listed at $52.46
Change since picked:       + 3.69
                            /1st target hit @ 55.75 (+7.4%)
Earnings Date            01/12/10 (confirmed)
Average Daily Volume =        1.4 million  
Listed on  December 05, 2009         


L-3 Communications - LLL - close: 87.18 change: +0.38 stop: 83.90

LLL posted another gain but the way shares retreated from their intraday high it might suggest shares will see a dip back toward $86-85 soon. We can use a dip or a bounce above the rising 10-dma ($85.50) as a new bullish entry point. We should consider this an aggressive, higher-risk trade. Our first target to take profits is at $89.95. Our second and final target is $94.00. We want to exit ahead of the late January earnings report. FYI: The Point & Figure chart is bullish with a $104 target.

Entry  on  December 28 at $ 86.80 
Change since picked:       + 0.38
Earnings Date            01/28/10 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume =        1.0 million  
Listed on  December 26, 2009         


Mettler Toledo - MTD - close: 105.93 change: +0.20 stop: 99.45

MTD has been drifting sideways above the $105 level for four days now. I'm not suggesting new positions at these levels. Our first target is $109.00.

Entry  on  December 19 at $102.66 (small positions) /gap down entry
Change since picked:       + 3.27
Earnings Date            02/04/10 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume =        106 thousand
Listed on  December 19, 2009         


Norfolk Southern - NSC - close: 53.30 change: -0.29 stop: 50.95

Both NSC and the railroad index slipped lower on Tuesday. Broken resistance near $53.00 should be short-term support for NSC. Our first target is now $56.50. Our second and final target is $59.50. 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:       + 1.46
Earnings Date            01/27/10 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume =        5.4 million  
Listed on  November 21, 2009         


NUCOR Corp. - NUE - close: 46.06 change: -0.53 stop: 42.75

Right on cue NUE continues to pull back. Look for a dip or a bounce in the $45-44 zone as a new bullish entry point. More conservative traders may want to bump their stops closer to $44.00. Our multi-week target is $49.50. We will plan to exit ahead of the late January earnings report.

Entry  on  December 22 at $ 45.85 (1/2 position or less) /gap higher entry
Change since picked:       + 0.21
Earnings Date            01/28/10 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume =        4.5 million  
Listed on  December 22, 2009         


Precision Castparts - PCP - close: 112.57 change: -0.40 stop: 107.25

PCP has pulled back to very short-term support near $112. If this level breaks we can expect a dip to $110 and if that breaks then the $107.50 region. More conservative traders might want to up their stops toward $110. I'm not suggesting new positions at this time. PCP has already hit our first target at $112.45. Our second target is $118.75. The Point & Figure chart is bullish with a $157 target (it was $131).

Picked on  December 01 at $107.35
Change since picked:       + 5.22
                            /1st target hit $112.45 (+4.7%)
Earnings Date            01/20/10 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume =        817 thousand 
Listed on  November 28, 2009         


Stifel Financial - SF - close: 59.09 change: +0.51 stop: 54.95

SF displayed some relative strength with a 0.87% gain and a new 2009 high. Our first target is $64.50. Our time frame is January expiration. The P&F chart is bullish and points to a $70 target.

Entry  on  December 22 at $ 58.05
Change since picked:       + 1.04
Earnings Date            02/11/10 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume =        207 thousand 
Listed on  December 16, 2009         


UnitedHealth Group - UNH - close: 30.85 change: -0.54 stop: 27.99

I've been warning readers to expect a dip back toward $30.00 and that appears to be where UNH is headed. Use a dip or a bounce near $30 as a new entry point. Our first target is $34.00. Our longer-term target is $36.00. Our time frame is several weeks. If you buy March calls you might want to think about holding over the late January earnings report.

Entry  on  December 10 at $ 30.31 
Change since picked:       + 0.54
Earnings Date            01/21/10 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume =        819 thousand 
Listed on  December 10, 2009         


United Tech. - UTX - close: 70.30 change: -0.16 stop: 67.45

UTX is still flirting with a breakout. The stock did hit new intraday highs at $70.89 but turned negative by the close. More conservative traders may want to use a tighter stop loss. Our first target is $74.75. The Point & Figure chart is bullish with a $95.00 target.

Entry  on  December 15 at $ 70.25
Change since picked:       + 0.05
Earnings Date            01/21/10 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume =        4.0 million  
Listed on  December 12, 2009         


Valmont Industries - VMI - close: 80.52 change: -0.98 stop: 78.45

VMI has retreated back toward round-number support at $80.00. Short-term technicals are deteriorating. More conservative traders may want to up their stop loss. Our first target to take profits is at $84.90. Our second target is $88.75. FYI: The most recent data list short interest at 9% of the very small 20.1 million-share float, which suggests this stock could see a short squeeze.

Entry  on  December 10 at $ 81.00
Change since picked:       - 0.48
Earnings Date            02/10/10 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume =        238 thousand 
Listed on  December 05, 2009         


Vertex Pharma - VRTX - close: 43.35 change: +0.13 stop: 39.75

VRTX is still showing relative strength and set a new closing high today. More conservative traders may want to take profits early in the $43.50-44.00 zone. I am not suggesting new positions at this time. Our target to exit is at $44.25.

Entry  on  December 03 at $ 40.25
Change since picked:       + 2.92
Earnings Date            02/09/10 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume =        3.2 million  
Listed on  November 23, 2009         


Whirlpool - WHR - close: 82.17 change: -0.46 stop: 77.95 *new*

WHR is still trading in the $82-84 range but I suspect it will retreat toward $80 before moving higher. We can use a dip or a bounce near $81-80 as a new entry point to buy calls. I am moving our stop loss to $77.95. More conservative traders may want to adjust their stop loss closer to $80. WHR has already hit our first target at $84.75. Our second target is $89.00. FYI: The Point & Figure chart is bullish with a $103 target.

Entry  on  December 19 at $ 80.76 /gap higher entry
Change since picked:       + 1.41
                             /1st target hit $84.75 (+4.9%)
Earnings Date            02/08/10 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume =        1.6 million  
Listed on  December 19, 2009         


PUT Play Updates

*Currently we do not have any put play updates*


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: 209.10 change: -2.51 stop: n/a

It's been an irritating day for AAPL. AT&T has had trouble with its service in New York and they just started selling iPhones again. The service carrier seems to be struggling under the weight of iPhone usage, with AT&T's data traffic up 5,000% since the iPhone launched. Next is news out today that Nokia claims AAPL's products, most notably the iPhone, has infringed on seven of Nokia's patents. Nokia is calling for an investigation. Shares of AAPL are down 1.1% on the session. Personally I see the action in the stock today as incidental. AAPL was short-term overbought and due for a little profit taking.

I am not suggesting new strangle positions at this time.

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:       + 9.19
Earnings Date            01/21/10 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume =       15.1 million  
Listed on  November 30, 2009         


United Parcel Service - UPS - close: 58.55 change: +0.59 stop: n/a

UPS displayed some relative strength but remains in its trading range. We have less than three weeks left before January options expire! I'm not suggesting new strangle positions.

January Strangle
The options suggested for the January strangle were the January $60.00 calls (UPS-AL) and the January $55.00 puts (UPS-MK). Our estimated cost was $1.35. I would plan to sell if either option hit $3.50 or more.

Picked on  November 21 at $ 57.99 /gap open entry
Change since picked:       + 0.56 
Earnings Date            02/02/10 (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume =        4.7 million  
Listed on  November 21, 2009