Editor's Note:

Reaction to earnings from mega-cap, high-profile companies like Apple (AAPL) and Microsoft (MSFT) sparked some profit taking this morning. Yet traders started to buy the dip and stocks pared their losses.

FB hit our stop loss. MOH has been removed.


Current Portfolio:


CALL Play Updates

Advance Auto Parts Inc. - AAP - close: 168.22 change: +0.69

Stop Loss: 164.85
Target(s): To Be Determined
Current Option Gain/Loss: Unopened
Average Daily Volume = 1.0 million
Entry on July -- at $---.--
Listed on July 18, 2015
Time Frame: Exit PRIOR to earnings on August 13th
New Positions: Yes, see below

Comments:
07/22/15: Most of the market spiked lower this morning. AAP was moving the opposite direction and rallied this morning. Unfortunately the rally failed at resistance near $170.00.

Our suggested entry point to buy calls is $170.25.

Trade Description:
If you listen to financial media long enough you will eventually hear pundits talk about "bulletproof stocks". AAP just might be a bulletproof stock. The company has lowered its earnings guidance three quarters in a row and yet traders continue to buy the stock. Today AAP is hovering at all-time, record highs.

AAP is part of the services sector. According to the company, "Headquartered in Roanoke, Va., Advance Auto Parts, Inc., the largest automotive aftermarket parts provider in North America, serves both the professional installer and do-it-yourself customers. As of January 3, 2015, Advance operated 5,261 stores and 111 Worldpac branches and served approximately 1,325 independently owned Carquest branded stores in the United States, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Canada. Advance employs approximately 73,000 Team Members."

There seems to be a divergence in the U.S. We are half way through 2015 and new car sales are surging. Dealers have already sold more than 8.5 million vehicles and the industry is on pace to challenge the all-time record of 17.4 million autos in one year. Yet the age of the average car on the road continues to climb. Next time you're stuck in traffic and all you see is a river of cars, bear in mind that the average car is now 11.4 years old. It's forecasted to 11.7 years old by 2019. Americans are keeping their car longer and longer (because most can't afford a new car). That's really good news for car part sales.

I mentioned AAP's earnings guidance earlier. AAP has actually missed Wall Street's bottom line estimates the last two quarters in a row. They have lowered their guidance three quarters in a row. On May 21st AAP reported its Q1 results of $2.39 per share. Revenues were up +2.3% to $3.04 billion. They lowered their fiscal year 2015 earnings guidance from $8.35-8.55 per shares down to $8.10-8.30. Analysts were expecting $8.51. AAP seems to be having a few issues digesting its acquisition of General Parts International, which took place in 2014.

Normally when a company lowers guidance the stock gets crushed. Yet traders keep buying the dips in AAP. Looking at the AAP's recent announcements there is an knee-jerk reaction gap down in their stock price and then shares of AAP immediately rebound. It's happened multiple times. You have to like that kind of resilience. You could say AAP is almost bulletproof.

The stock has been trading off technical support as it climbed from its May 2015 lows. Last week's breakout past resistance near $165.00 is very bullish. The point & figure chart is forecasting at $193.00 target. Odds are AAP will rally up to its earnings report on August 13th. We want to exit prior to the announcement.

Trigger @ $170.25

- Suggested Positions -

Buy the AUG $175 CALL (AAP150821C175)

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


Adobe Systems Inc. - ADBE - close: 80.73 change: -0.46

Stop Loss: 79.65
Target(s): To Be Determined
Current Option Gain/Loss: -30.4%
Average Daily Volume = 2.64 million
Entry on July 16 at $82.65
Listed on July 14, 2015
Time Frame: Exit PRIOR to earnings in September
New Positions: see below

Comments:
07/22/15: ADBE followed the broader market lower on Wednesday. I've been warning readers that ADBE could be headed for what should be support near $80.00 and its 50-dma. Nimble traders could use a bounce near $80.00 as a new entry point for bullish positions.

We are moving the stop loss up to $79.65 just in case $80.00 doesn't hold as support.

Trade Description: July 14, 2015:
ADBE appears to have successfully completed its transition from a traditional pay up front software sales model to a subscription based pay-as-you-go model for its industry leading creative software.

ADBE is in the technology sector. They are part of the software industry. According to the company, "Adobe is changing the world through digital experiences. Content built and optimized with Adobe products is everywhere you look — from websites, video games, and smartphones to televisions, tablets, and beyond. Adobe Creative Cloud software offers the most innovative tools for creating digital media, while Adobe Marketing Cloud delivers groundbreaking solutions for data-driven marketing. Our leadership in these two emerging categories, Digital Media and Digital Marketing, provides our customers with a real competitive advantage, positioning Adobe for continued growth well into the future. As one of the largest software companies in the world, Adobe achieved revenue of more than US$4 billion in 2013."

Looking at the last couple of earnings reports ADBE has beaten Wall Street's bottom line estimate. They reported their Q1 report on March 17th. Earnings were up +46% from a year ago to $0.44 per share. It was their best quarterly earnings growth in four years and above analysts' estimates. Revenues were up almost +11% to $1.11 billion.

During the first quarter they added 517,000 customers to their subscription service. While that was up +28% from a year ago it missed expectations. Jumping to the second quarter ADBE said they added +639,000 new subscribers, which was well above estimates for +575K.

The company announced their Q2 earnings on June 16th. Earnings were up +30% to $0.48 per share, which beat estimates. Revenues hit a record of $1.16 billion, which was in-line with expectations.

Shantanu Narayen, Adobe's president and CEO, commented on the quarter, "Strong execution against our Creative Cloud, Document Cloud and Marketing Cloud businesses drove record revenue. We are accelerating the pace of innovation in our Cloud offerings and are thrilled to be launching our best Creative Cloud release to date, which includes Adobe Stock - our new stock content service." ADBE's executive vice president and CFO, Mark Garrett, said, "With our business model transition largely behind us, the positive financial benefits are now reflected in our P&L. We are driving more profit, earnings per share, cash flow and deferred revenue and unbilled backlog."

Management did lower their Q3 and 2015 forecast on both the top and bottom line. Yet investors seemed to ignore this earnings warning because it was all due to foreign currency exchange headwinds. ADBE is expecting their Adobe Marketing Cloud sales to grow more than +20% year over year.

Mr. Narayen, CEO, mentioned their new Adobe Stock service. This is a multimedia marketplace where users can buy and sell images. Analysts think this could add a significant revenue boost by 2017 (up to $1 billion a year).

Multiple analysts have upgraded their price target on ADBE since its earnings report. The most recent was on July 6th where ADBE garnered a new price target at $103.00. Currently the point & figure chart is only forecasting at $92.00 target.

Shares of ADBE broke out past major resistance near $80.00 in mid June. Then the market reversed lower in the last several days of June and shares of ADBE sank back toward prior resistance and now new support in the $80.00 region. The intraday low was $78.94 on July 7th where ADBE bounced off technical support at its rising 50-dma.

Investors have started buying the dip again and this bounce from support near $80.00 is a bullish entry point. We are suggesting a trigger to buy calls at $82.50.

- Suggested Positions -

Long OCT $85 CALL (ADBE151016C85) entry $2.80

07/22/15 new stop @ 79.65
07/16/15 triggered @ $82.65 (gap open)
Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike


The Walt Disney Co. - DIS - close: 119.33 change: +0.02

Stop Loss: 117.25
Target(s): To Be Determined
Current Option Gain/Loss: +123.9%
Average Daily Volume = 5.7 million
Entry on June 18 at $112.25
Listed on June 17, 2015
Time Frame: Exit PRIOR to earnings on August 4th
New Positions: see below

Comments:
07/22/15: Shares of DIS remain resilient. The stock ignored the market's relatively widespread decline today. The stock has spent the last couple of days consolidating sideways beneath round-number resistance at $120.00.

Tonight we will adjust the stop loss up to $117.25. No new positions at this time.

Trade Description: June 17, 2015:
Disney is an American icon. The company is over 90 years old. They have grown into a massive content generating giant. Today DIS runs five business segments. Their media networks include broadcast, cable, radio, publishing, and digital businesses headlined by their Disney/ABC television group and ESPN Inc. DIS' parks and resort business includes Disneyland, Disneyworld, plus theme parks in Tokyo, Paris, Hong Kong, Shanghai, and a cruise line.

The company's products division licenses the company's horde of names, characters, and intellectual property to a wide range of products. They've also jumped into the online world with their Disney Interactive division. Last but not least is the Walt Disney Studios segment. Disney started making movies 90 years ago. Today their studio business includes Disney animation, Pixar Animation, Disneynature, Disney Studios Motion Pictures, Disney music group, Touchstone Pictures, and Marvel Studios.

Their movie business has been a money maker over the years with huge hits like the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, Tangled, Wreck-it Ralph. In 2013 they released the animated film "Frozen", which has turned into the largest grossing animated movie of all time. Pixar has a stable of successful movies that have grossed almost $9 billion. DIS is also mining gold in Marvel Entertainment's library of over 8,000 characters of comic book history. Marvel had two big hits in 2014 Captain America: Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy. Their 2015 Avengers: Age of Ultron was also a big winner at the box office grossing more than $1.3 billion worldwide. Of course not every Disney movie crushes it. Their recent Tomorrowland was a big disappointment and they could lose more than $100 million on the film.

Back in 2012 Disney purchased Lucasfilm and all the Star Wars properties from George Lucas for $4 billion. The company is busy filming the next three episodes of the Star Wars franchise. The next Star Wars film it titled "The Force Awakens." It will be episode seven in the franchise. The movie doesn't hit theaters until December 2015 but analysts are already predicting that "The Force Awakens" will generate $1.2 billion at the global box office.

DIS management loves movie franchises because they can fuel years of sequels, park rides, and merchandise. The approach seems to be working. Revenues and net income have hit all-time highs for five consecutive quarters. Their 2015 Q1 results saw earnings per share up +23% to $1.27. Their Q2 results saw earnings grow +14% to $1.23 per share. Their domestic theme parks showed a strong surge in both attendance and in customer spending. Analysts are forecasting DIS earnings to grow +17% this year.

The stock surged to new all-time highs back in early May after its Q2 earnings report. Shares have since spent the last six weeks digesting gains in a sideways consolidation that has ignored much of the broader market's volatility. More recently DIS has started to rebound and is now at the top of its trading range. A breakout here could signal the next leg higher.

The point & figure chart is bullish and forecasting at long-term target of $154.00. I personally suspect that DIS could rally toward $120-125 before its next earnings report in August. Credit Suisse recently upped their price target to $130. Tonight we are suggesting a trigger at $112.25 to buy calls.

- Suggested Positions -

Long AUG $115 CALL (DIS150821C115) entry $2.30

07/22/15 new stop @ 117.25
07/16/15 Our call option has more than doubled in value. Traders may want to take some money off the table here.
07/14/15 new stop @ 115.85
06/27/15 new stop @ 112.25
06/18/15 triggered @ $112.25
Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike


Fiserv, Inc. - FISV - close: 87.97 change: +0.62

Stop Loss: 85.85
Target(s): To Be Determined
Current Option Gain/Loss: +15.6%
Average Daily Volume = 1.0 million
Entry on July 10 at $85.41
Listed on July 07, 2015
Time Frame: Exit PRIOR to earnings on July 29th
New Positions: see below

Comments:
07/22/15: FISV ignored the market's weakness and managed a +0.7% gain. It looks like shares are bouncing from the rising 10-dma. More conservative traders may want to adjust their stop loss higher.

No new positions at this time.

Trade Description: July 7, 2015:
Apple isn't the only one with a mobile payments platform. Last year AAPL launched its Apple Pay service, which allows people to use their smart phones (and now smart watches) to pay for stuff at the register. FISV also jumped into the mobile pay industry late last year. That's on top of a growing business of its traditional payment systems.

FISV is part of the services sector. According to the company, "Fiserv, Inc. (FISV) enables clients to achieve best-in-class results by driving quality and innovation in payments, processing services, risk and compliance, customer and channel management, and business insights and optimization."

Earnings have been relatively on track the last couple of quarters. FISV most recent report was announced on May 5th. They reported earnings of $0.89 per share. That was up +8.5% from a year ago and above Wall Street estimates. Revenues were up +3.4% and slightly behind expectations. The company spent $290 million buying back 3.8 million shares last quarter.

Shares of FISV had been slowly drifting higher in the $75-80 zone from February to June. Suddenly things changed. The market's big rally on June 18th helped FISV breakout from its trading range. The next day the stock was upgraded to an "outperform" and given at $95 target. This launched FISV's stock toward $85.00.

Shares have been trading technically and slowly faded back toward its mid-June breakout high. Once FISV had filled the gap it began to rally again. The stock held up well this morning during the market sell-off. When the major indices reversed higher FISV outperformed them with a +0.77% gain. We want to hop on board if FISV can rally past $85.00. Tonight we're suggesting a trigger to buy calls at $85.15. Plan on exiting this trade prior to their earnings report on July 29th.

- Suggested Positions -

Long AUG $85 CALL (FISV150821C85) entry $3.20

07/14/15 new stop @ 85.85
07/10/15 triggered on gap open at $85.41, trigger was $85.15
Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike


INSYS Therapeutics - INSY - close: 43.83 change: +1.80

Stop Loss: 40.85
Target(s): To Be Determined
Current Option Gain/Loss: +17.6%
Average Daily Volume = 607 thousand
Entry on July 01 at $36.30
Listed on June 30, 2015
Time Frame: Exit PRIOR to earnings in August
New Positions: see below

Comments:
07/22/15: INSY displayed relative strength with a +4.28% gain and a new closing high. The continued rally is great but shares will correct lower eventually. We want to try and protect ourselves by raising the stop to $40.85. More conservative traders may want to raise their stop even higher.

No new positions at this time.

Trade Description: June 30, 2015:
INSY is probably best known for its synthetic cannabinoid drugs that use THC, the same ingredient in marijuana. Yet it is the company's Subsys treatment, a painkiller several times stronger than morphine, that generates the most revenues for INSY. The marketing practices behind Subsys have generated some scandal-worthy headlines but nothing seems to be slowing down the stock's long-term rally.

INSY is in the healthcare sector, more specifically the biotech industry. According to the company, "Insys Therapeutics is a specialty pharmaceutical company that develops and commercializes innovative drugs and novel drug delivery systems of therapeutic molecules that improve the quality of life of patients. Using our proprietary sublingual spray technology and our capability to develop pharmaceutical cannabinoids, Insys addresses the clinical shortcomings of existing commercial products. Insys currently markets two products: Subsys, which is sublingual Fentanyl spray for breakthrough cancer pain, and a generic version of Dronabinol (THC) capsules. The Company's lead product candidate is Dronabinol Oral Solution, a proprietary, orally administered liquid formulation of dronabinol that Insys believes has distinct advantages over the current formulation of dronabinol in soft gel capsule. Insys is developing a pipeline of sublingual sprays, as well as pharmaceutical cannabidiol."

The company's earnings growth has been impressive. They have consistently beaten Wall Street's bottom line earnings estimates the last six quarters in a row. They normally beat the revenue estimate as well. Looking at the last three quarters INSY has seen its revenues jump +99.7%, +65.4%, and +70.2%. Most of that has been on strong Subsys sales, which were up +69% in the fourth quarter and up +74% in the first quarter.

INSY management is very optimistic and expects to complete four Phase III clinical trials in 2015. If successful it will significantly broaden their product line. The company just recently announced a New Drug Application (NDA) for its "proprietary Dronabinol Oral Solution for anorexia associated with weight loss in patients with AIDS; and nausea and vomiting associated with cancer chemotherapy in patients who have failed to respond adequately to conventional antiemetic treatments. Dronabinol Oral Solution is an orally administered liquid formulation of the pharmaceutical cannabinoid dronabinol, a synthetic version of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)."

INSY's stock has been a strong performer since the company's IPO in 2013. Shares saw a 3-for-2 split in 2014. They just completed a 2-for-1 split on June 5th.

Before I continue I want to remind traders that biotech stocks can be tough to trade. Normally stocks in this group can be volatile with lots of headline risk. The right headline about a successful test or clinical trial or FDA approval can send shares soaring. The wrong headline could see a biotech stock crash or even gap down several points.

It is important to note that not all the news is good for INSY. In late 2014 the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) ran a story about some shady marketing practices for INSY's Subsys painkiller. This is an under-the-tongue spray version of the painkiller fentanyl. Subsys has a very high risk of dependency and is currently only approved for cancer patients. Yet strangely enough only 1% of prescriptions last year were written by oncologists. Several doctors with the biggest number of Subsys prescriptions have also been under review or disciplined. The WSJ noted that the Office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Attorneys in the Central District of California and Massachusetts are all looking into the matter. This is significant because Subsys accounts for the vast majority of INSY's revenues.

Thus far the stock market has managed to ignore the shadow cast by Subsys and how the drug is prescribed and INSY's financial relationship with the doctors who prescribe it.

Last week saw biotech stocks retreat. The IBB biotech ETF had broken out in mid June and rallied to new record highs. The group reversed lower last week with a sharp correction. INSY followed its peers lower with a painful drop from $42 to $34 in about three days. Currently the $34.00 level is holding up as support. If INSY can bounce from current levels the move could be big.

A rally from here could spark a short squeeze. The most recent data listed short interest at 68% of the small 23.6 million share float. Tonight we are suggesting a trigger to buy calls at $36.30.

*Small positions to limit risk* - Suggested Positions -

Long AUG $40 CALL (INSY150821C40) entry $3.40

07/22/15 new stop @ 40.85
07/21/15 new stop @ 39.30
07/16/15 new stop @ 38.85
07/14/15 new stop @ 36.35
07/01/15 triggered @ $36.30
Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike


Jack In The Box Inc. - JACK - close: 94.96 change: +2.18

Stop Loss: 91.75
Target(s): To Be Determined
Current Option Gain/Loss: +93.8%
Average Daily Volume = 600 thousand
Entry on July 13 at $90.25
Listed on July 11, 2015
Time Frame: Exit PRIOR to earnings
New Positions: see below

Comments:
07/22/15: Shares of JACK outperformed the broader market with a +2.3% gain. More importantly shares have broken out from its $92-93 trading range. Today's move should herald the next leg higher. However, I would expect a dip tomorrow. Today's rally in JACK probably got a boost from rival Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG). Shares of CMG surged +7.8% today, extending its rally from $600 to $725 in less than three weeks. I suspect CMG will see some profit taking tomorrow and thus JACK will likely dip but broken resistance near $93.00 should be new support.

Tonight we are raising the stop loss on JACK to $91.75.

Trade Description: July 11, 2015:
It's a burger-eat-burger world out there in the fast-food business. Jack in the Box is small fries compared to its larger rivals like McDonalds (36,258 locations) and Wendy's (6,515 locations). Let's not forget heavy weights like Taco Bell, Burger King, Subway, Dairy Queen, and a handful of pizza chains. JACK only has about 2,200 restaurants but it also has a secret weapon and that is the Qdoba Mexican Grill, a fast-casual restaurant with about 600 locations. Fast-casual restaurant rival Chipotle Mexican Grill has almost 1,800 locations.

Some of that intense competition being felt by McDonalds and Chipotle Mexican Grill is coming from Jack in the Box and its Qdoba brand, which is growing sharply. A majority of their Qdoba franchisees own multiple stores with 10, 20 even 40 stores common. Enterprising business owners don't open additional stores if the original stores are not working. To have so many owners with high numbers of stores suggests the franchise is consistently profitable.

To be profitable they need solid customer traffic, good food and decent margins. Shares of JACK have been one of the best performers on the S&P over the last couple of years because the company has been posting solid earnings and growth.

With analysts cutting earnings estimates for McDonalds and Chipotle, earlier this year, because of competition in the sector it makes sense to look at what has happened at JACK. Over the last quarter and the last year not a single analyst has lowered their earnings estimates for JACK. According to Zacks, analysts are expecting JACK to grow earnings +11.7% in the current quarter and +22% for 2015.

Customers are trending towards healthier foods and away from the mass produced burgers and fries at McDonalds. Did you know there are 19 ingredients in McDonalds fries? Surely you didn't think they were just potatoes and grease? This trend may not help the Jack in the box brand but it's good news for Qdoba. Restaurants like Qdoba and Chipotle are capitalizing on the healthy food craze.

The company plans to open 15 new Jack in the Box stores in 2015. They're also cashing in on Qdoba's success and planning to open 50 to 60 new Qdoba locations. That compares to just 12 new Jacks and 38 new Qdobas in 2014.

Management is trying to be shareholder friendly. They have an active share buyback program and they reduced the share count by 10% over the last few quarters. In their most recent earnings report (May 13th) the company raised their quarterly dividend by +50%.

JACK reported its Q1 2015 earnings on February 17th. Analysts were expecting a profit of $0.87 a share on revenues of $461.2 million. JACK delivered earnings of $0.93 a share. That's a +24% improvement from a year ago. Revenues were up +4.1% to $468.6 million, above estimates. Their operating margins improved 1% to 19.3%. Management raised their 2015 guidance.

The company did it again in May with their Q2 report. Estimates were for $0.66 per share on revenues of $356 million. JACK reported $0.69 per share with revenues up +5.0% to $358 million. That is a +35.2% earnings improvement from a year ago. Their consolidated restaurant operating margins improved 210 basis points to 20.6%. Plus, management raised their 2015 guidance again.

The stock has ignored a lot of the market's recent volatility. Shares of JACK seem to be marching to the beat of their own drummer. You can see the market reaction to its Q1 earnings report in February with the big surge higher. The rally reversed in late March and shares found support near $86.00. The stock has been bouncing along the 486.00 level for more than two months. Its consolidation has narrow over the last few weeks. It used to be the $86-90 range. The last few days the consolidation has been in the $88-90 zone. JACK looks like it could breakout past $90.00 soon.

We want to be ready if JACK does breakout. Tonight we're suggesting a trigger to buy calls at $90.25. Plan on exiting prior to earnings in early August.

- Suggested Positions -

Long AUG $95 CALL (JACK150821C95) entry $1.60

07/22/15 new stop @ 91.75
07/16/15 new stop @ 90.85
07/14/15 new stop @ 89.75
07/13/15 triggered @ $90.25
Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike




PUT Play Updates

Barracuda Networks, Inc. - CUDA - close: 28.35 change: -0.77

Stop Loss: 30.60
Target(s): To Be Determined
Current Option Gain/Loss: +32.4%
Average Daily Volume = 512 thousand
Entry on July 17 at $29.75
Listed on July 13, 2015
Time Frame: Exit PRIOR to August expiration
New Positions: see below

Comments:
07/22/15: CUDA started to bounce this morning but the rebound failed beneath $29.40 and shares sank -2.6% by the closing bell. This is a new closing low for 2015.

No new positions at this time.

Trade Description: July 13, 2015:
Cyber-security is a hot industry right now. We constantly hear about hackers stealing information from major corporations. There has also been a high-profile attack on U.S. government employee data. This has driven gains for a number of cyber security stocks. Yet one security firm is underperforming its peers. That is CUDA.

CUDA is in the technology sector. According to the company, "Barracuda (CUDA) provides cloud-connected security and storage solutions that simplify IT. These powerful, easy-to-use and affordable solutions are trusted by more than 150,000 organizations worldwide and are delivered in appliance, virtual appliance, cloud and hybrid deployments. Barracuda's customer-centric business model focuses on delivering high-value, subscription-based IT solutions that provide end-to-end network and data security."

They reported their 2016 Q1 earnings on July 9th. Earnings rose +39% from a year ago to $0.09 per share. That beat estimates of $0.08. Revenues were up +17.8% to $78 million, also above expectations. Their subscribers grew +18% to 252,000 and their subscription revenue was up +19.6%.

It looks like a pretty good report. So why did the stock plunge -19% on Friday? That's because Wall Street was not happy with CUDA's gross billing number or its soft Q2 guidance.

CUDA reported their Q1 gross billings were up +7.6% to $94.3 million. Yet that was below expectations in the $103 million region. Management also guided Q2 revenue estimates into the $78-79 million range. That's below estimates of $80.4 million.

Shares were crushed on Friday and there was no oversold bounce today. CUDA continued to underperform with a -3.8% drop in spite of the market's widespread rally today. The point & figure chart is now bearish and forecasting a $26.00 target. We think CUDA could drop toward $25.00. However, I will warn you that CUDA does have potential support in the $29.50-30.00 range.

Tonight we are suggesting small bearish positions to buy puts at $29.75. More conservative traders may want to sit this one out or wait for a drop below $29.00 as an alternative entry point. I consider this a higher-risk, more aggressive trade.

*small positions to limit risk* - Suggested Positions -

Long AUG $30 PUT (CUDA150821P30) entry $1.70

07/20/15 new stop @ 30.60
07/17/15 triggered @ $29.75
Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike


Concho Resources - CXO - close: 105.41 change: +1.23

Stop Loss: 107.05
Target(s): To Be Determined
Current Option Gain/Loss: -10.9%
Average Daily Volume = 1.4 million
Entry on July 07 at $106.90
Listed on July 06, 2015
Time Frame: Exit PRIOR to earnings on July 29th
New Positions: see below

Comments:
07/22/15: Shares of CXO were upgraded this morning and that allowed the stock to outperform the broader market and most of its peers today. Shares gained +1.1%.

No new positions at this time.

Trade Description: July 6, 2015:
It has been a bumpy ride for energy stock traders over the last year. That's especially true for CXO investors. The stock fell from $148 to $80 in less than five months last year. CXO bottomed in December 2014. The stock managed a big bounce from $80 to $130 in the next five months but that rally is over with a big reversal on the company's Q1 earnings report in early May.

CXO is in the basic materials sector. According to the company, "Concho Resources Inc. is an independent oil and natural gas company engaged in the acquisition, development and exploration of oil and natural gas properties. The Company's operations are primarily focused in the Permian Basin of southeast New Mexico and west Texas."

The last couple of quarters have seen CXO's revenues decline. They reported their 2014 Q4 results on February 25th. Earnings were 88 cents a share, which was four cents above estimates. Yet revenues fell -6.0% to $594 million, way below estimates. Their 2015 Q1 results were announced on May 4th. Earnings per shares was $0.06. That was 17 cents worse than expected. CXO's revenues plunged -37.4% to $413.5 million, another big miss. The stock reacted to this news with a spike higher that quickly reversed.

Today the oil stocks are suffering as the commodity sinks due to oversupply concerns. The weekly Baker Hughes active rig count just turned positive two weeks in a row after a 28-week decline. This would suggest the pullback in the industry is over and the market has found a temporary equilibrium that will allow domestic companies to start launching new oil and gas rigs again. This will continue to boost supply and pressure prices lower.

A bigger problem could be the Iran nuclear negotiations. If Iran does sign a deal with the West then sanctions could be lifted that would allow Iran to sell up to one million barrels of oil per day on the global market. Sources suggest Iran already has dozens of crude oil tankers filled up and ready to go if the sanctions are lifted. This is one reason crude oil has been plunging the last few days. The current deadline (and there have been many) is tomorrow, July 7th. If Iran signs a deal then oil will likely drop again. If they don't then oil could bounce. If talks are postponed again then I suspect the prevailing trend, which is down, will remain in effect for oil and the oil stocks.

CXO has technically broken down below support near $110 and its 200-dma. The point & figure chart looks very bearish and is currently forecasting an $89 target. Tonight we're suggesting a trigger to buy puts at $106.90.

- Suggested Positions -

Long AUG $105 PUT (CXO150821P105) entry $4.60

07/20/15 new stop @ 107.05
07/18/15 new stop @ 110.05
07/07/15 triggered @ $106.90
Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike


PowerShares QQQ ETF - QQQ - close: 112.62 change: -1.29

Stop Loss: 114.50
Target(s): To Be Determined
Current Option Gain/Loss: +19.7%
Average Daily Volume = 27.5 million
Entry on July 21 at $114.02
Listed on July 20, 2015
Time Frame: 4 to 6 weeks
New Positions: see below

Comments:
07/22/15: The reaction to AAPL's earnings sparked a widespread gap down this morning. The QQQ gapped open lower at $112.17. Yet that proved to be the low of the day as investors bought the dip.

No new positions at this time. We'll add a stop loss at $114.50.

FYI: Amazon.com (AMZN), one of the biggest components in the NASDAQ-100, is scheduled to report earnings tomorrow night (July 23rd). The reaction to AMZN's earnings could move the QQQ on Friday morning.

Trade Description: July 20, 2015:
Big cap technology stocks have been strong performers this year and that has boosted the NASDAQ-100 index ($NDX) to new all-time highs. The $NDX is also outperforming the broader market with a +10% gain year to date versus a +3.4% gain in the S&P 500 index. The long-term up trend for the $NDX is still intact and yet we are short-term bearish on the $NDX. It's move too far, too fast, and on very, very narrow leadership. One way for us to play the $NDX is options on the QQQ ETF that tracks the index.

The QQQ is one of the largest and most liquid exchange traded funds. This particular ETF tracks the NASDAQ-100 index, which includes 100 of the largest non-financial stocks on the NASDAQ (lots of technology stocks). AAPL, MSFT, AMZN, GOOG, GOOGL, FB, GILD, INTC, CMCSA, CSCO and AMGN are its top holdings. You can see a list of the top twenty five holdings here.

The lack of leadership in the NASDAQ-100 (and QQQ) has been exceptionally narrow. That's a bearish sign.

On Friday the QQQ surged to new highs even though three stocks declined for every two advancing stocks in the QQQ. Today there were two declining stocks for every one stock that advanced (on the NASDAQ composite). More than 50% of the NASDAQ-100 components are actually negative for the year. So how is the index (and the Qs) at a new record high? The answer is because the $NDX is a market-cap weighed index.

The rally in the QQQ has been fueled by just four stocks with huge market caps. Here are the four stocks driving the QQQ (and their July gains):

Google (GOOG/GOOGL) +29%
Amazon.com (AMZN) +11%
Facebook (FB) +10%
Apple (AAPL) +3%
Those are some impressive numbers in just the last three weeks.

Now consider their market cap and their impact on the QQQ. AAPL's weighting in the QQQs is 13.9%. GOOG is 4.3% while GOOGL is 3.75%. AMZN is 4.19% and FB is 3.9%. For the record Microsoft (MSFT) is 7.0% of the QQQ.

The NASDAQ-100 index has a market cap of $5.4 trillion. If we combine the market cap of AAPL, AMZN, FB, and GOOG they are worth $1.7 trillion. These four stocks are almost 31% of the $NDX market cap. So what happens to the QQQ when these four stocks start to see some profit taking after those big July gains?

Cable television business and stock market channel CNBC noted the above observations on air today. They also posted an article regarding this interesting situation on their website. You can read the CNBC article here.

CNBC also noted that the NASDAQ-100 index is more than three standard deviations above its simple 50-dma. That almost never happens. It's so rare it's only happened nine times in the last 35 years. While that is not a big sample size the $NDX was down the following week 8 out of 9 times.

There are no guarantees in the market. However, odds are good that the QQQ is due for a pullback that should happen soon. The lack of leadership driving the $NDX higher makes the rally very fragile.

There is one big caveat here. Apple (AAPL), the biggest component in the $NDX, is scheduled to report earnings on Tuesday evening, after the closing bell. AAPL tends to beat Wall Street's earnings estimates 90% of the time. Thus expectations tend to be pretty bullish for AAPL's results. If they disappoint it could have a significant negative impact on the QQQ. Since expectations are already bullish for AAPL's quarter they probably need to really blow the doors off and crush the estimate to move the QQQ. It's possible but it seems unlikely that AAPL will singlehandedly lift the QQQ on Wednesday.

We suspect the market could start to see some profit taking tomorrow. Therefore we are suggesting traders buy QQQ puts at the opening bell tomorrow morning (Tuesday, July 21st). If you're worried about AAPL's earnings you could wait until Wednesday morning to buy puts. That way you could hear the results and see how the markets is reacting to AAPL's numbers after hours and pre-market on Wednesday.

Please note we are not setting a stop loss for this trade yet. We'll add a stop in the Wednesday evening newsletter.

- Suggested Positions -

Long SEP $112 PUT (QQQ150918P112) entry $1.88

07/22/15 new stop @ $114.50
07/21/15 trade begins. QQQ opened @ $114.02
Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike


SM Energy Company - SM - close: 34.61 change: -0.38

Stop Loss: 38.05
Target(s): To Be Determined
Current Option Gain/Loss: +251.5%
Average Daily Volume = 1.6 million
Entry on June 19 at $44.49
Listed on June 13, 2015
Time Frame: Exit PRIOR to earnings on July 28th
New Positions: see below

Comments:
07/22/15: Most of the energy stocks continued to sink today as crude oil fell another -3%. SM only lost -1.0% and tagged new six-month lows.

Readers may want to consider taking some money off the table.

No new positions at this time.

Trade Description: June 13, 2015:
SM has been around a long time. They were founded back in 1908. The company was formerly known as St. Mary Land & Exploration Company but they changed their name to SM Energy Company about five years ago.

SM is in the basic materials sector. According to the company, "SM Energy Company is an independent energy company engaged in the acquisition, exploration, development, and production of crude oil, natural gas, and natural gas liquids in onshore North America."

SM operates in the Rocky Mountain region including the Bakken and Three Forks formations. Further south, they drill in the Haynesville and Woodford shales of Texas and Oklahoma. SM also operates in the Permian region of Texas and New Mexico. Even further south SM drills in the South Texas area with the Eagle Ford shale formation.

Crude oil's plunge in late 2014 crushed the oil sector and shares of SM followed it lower. Yet SM appeared to be having trouble before the big drop in oil prices. The company has missed Wall Street's earnings estimates the last four quarters in a row.

The huge drop in oil sparked significant cutbacks across the oil and gas industry with most major exploration companies reducing their capital spending plans. When SM reported their Q4 earnings in February 2015 they missed the EPS number by five cents and revenues were down -6.4% from a year ago. Management also slashed their 2015 investment plans by -44% from $1.9 billion to $1.0 billion.

SM reported its 2015 Q1 numbers on May 5th. Analysts were expecting a profit of $0.29 per share on revenues of $543.1 million. SM delivered a profit of $0.21 as revenues plunged -42% to $365.9 million.

Citigroup issued a research report last month that suggested U.S. oil producers will still be able to profit with oil at depressed prices. Here's a quote from a Bloomberg article, "belt-tightening across the industry and more strategic drilling in prolific areas would deliver ample profits even at $50 crude. The improvement is driven by costs that are expected to fall by 20 to 30 percent and techniques that allow rigs to wring 30 percent more oil or natural gas from each well compared with a year ago." That definitely seems like ammunition for the bulls to be buying some of the oil producers. Yet the group continues to lag. They are facing some stiff headwinds.

Crude oil has produced a +25% bounce off its March 2015 lows. Yet the rally in oil has stalled the last few weeks with the commodity churning sideways. The recent OPEC meeting showed that the Middle East shows no signs of slowing down their production. The world is temporarily facing a small oil glut.

Meanwhile currencies could play an issue here. It is widely accepted that the long-term trend for the U.S. dollar is now higher. The Federal Reserve will eventually raise rates, either later this year or early next year. When they start raising rates it should boost the dollar. At the same time central banks around the world (like Japan and Europe) are in the middle of huge QE programs that will drive their currencies lower. Naturally this will lift the dollar even higher. A rising dollar pushes commodities lower.

Technically shares of SM have been very weak. The broke down from a bullish channel a couple of weeks ago. The stock has also sliced through some psychological support levels. The point & figure chart is currently forecasting at $40.00 target. You could argue that SM is already oversold. However, the path of least resistance is lower. Tonight we are suggesting a trigger to buy puts at $44.90 with a wide stop loss at $50.25 just in case SM does see a little oversold bounce.

- Suggested Positions -

Long AUG $40 PUT (SM150821P40) entry $1.65

07/20/15 new stop @ 38.05
07/18/15 new stop @ 40.05
07/16/15 new stop @ 41.55
07/06/15 new stop @ 45.25
06/23/15 new stop @ 48.75
06/19/15 triggered on gap down at $44.49, suggested entry was $44.90
Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike


Energy SPDR ETF - XLE - close: 70.93 change: -0.58

Stop Loss: 75.25
Target(s): To Be Determined
Current Option Gain/Loss: +2.2%
Average Daily Volume = 13.3 million
Entry on July 22 at $71.22
Listed on July 21, 2015
Time Frame: Exit PRIOR to September option expiration
New Positions: see below

Comments:
07/22/15: Our brand new put play on the XLE is open. Crude oil plunged -3% and that weighed heavily on the energy stocks. The XLE gapped open lower at $71.22, which immediately triggered this play (suggested trigger was $71.25).

Tonight we are adjusting the stop loss down to $73.35.

Trade Description: July 21, 2015:
The 2015 bounce in crude oil appears to be over. The price of crude oil was cut in half with a plunge that started in the second quarter of 2014 and didn't stop until early 2015. Oil managed a multi-week bounce off its March 2015 lows but the rally stalled in May and oil prices churned sideways for almost two months. Now the commodity has resumed its decline.

Today WTI crude oil is hovering near $50.00 a barrel, which is a three-month low. Oil consumption is rising but it's not outpacing oil production. The big drop last year was the market realizing we (temporarily) have more supply than demand.

The Iran deal over the country's nuclear program, if it doesn't get derailed again, will remove sanctions on Iran and allow the oil-producing country to sell more oil on the global market. That's more supply to a market that doesn't need it. Iran denies it but sources say the country has more than 50 million barrels of oil just sitting in oil tankers ready for transport.

Another problem for the energy sector is natural gas supplies. Last month the U.S. Energy Information Administration said natural gas inventories rose 132 billion cubic feet to 2.2 trillion cubic feet. That's more than 50% above last year's inventory levels and the largest surplus in 12 years. The Natural Gas Supply Association expects industry production to hit a new all-time record this summer.

One way to play this bearish supply/demand issue on oil and natural gas is the XLE.

The XLE is an exchange traded fund (ETF) designed to track the Energy Select Sector Index. This is a great way for investors to play the energy sector of the S&P 500 index, which includes oil, gas & consumable fuels, and energy equipment and services companies.

Top 10 Holdings (61.54% of Total Assets)
Company Symbol % Assets
Exxon Mobil Corporation XOM 15.79
Chevron Corporation CVX 12.46
Schlumberger N.V. SLB 7.68
Kinder Morgan, Inc KMI 4.48
EOG Resources, Inc. EOG 3.94
ConocoPhillips COP 3.76
Williams Companies, Inc. (The) WMB 3.67
Occidental Petroleum Corporation OXY 3.51
Pioneer Natural Resources PXD 3.15
Anadarko Petroleum Corporation APC 3.10
The market is well aware of the supply issues facing the energy sector and the XLE has been falling 11 out of the last 12 weeks. We don't see any catalyst that would reverse this momentum.

Currently the XLE has broken down to new multi-year lows and the nearest support levels could be down near $66 or $60. The point & figure chart is bearish and forecasting at $61.00 target. Tonight we are suggesting a trigger to buy puts at $71.25.

- Suggested Positions -

Long SEP $70 PUT (XLE150918P70) entry $1.84

07/22/15 triggered on gap down at $71.22, suggested entry was $71.25
Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike



CLOSED BULLISH PLAYS

Facebook, Inc. - FB - close: 97.04 change: -1.35

Stop Loss: 96.45
Target(s): $99.50
Current Option Gain/Loss: +192.3%
Average Daily Volume = 24.5 million
Entry on July 06 at $88.15
Listed on July 04, 2015
Time Frame: Exit PRIOR to earnings on July 29th
New Positions: see below

Comments:
07/22/15: The NASDAQ's big drop at the open, thanks to Apple (AAPL), sent most of the high-flying tech names lower. FB was no exception. Shares of FB gapped down at $96.74 and quickly hit our stop loss at $96.45.

- Suggested Positions -

AUG $90 CALL (FB150821C90) entry $2.84 exit $8.30 (+192.3%)

07/22/15 stopped out
07/21/15 new stop @ 96.45
07/20/15 new stop @ 95.95, exit target is $99.50
07/18/15 new stop @ 93.45
07/16/15 new stop @ 89.35
07/06/15 triggered @ $88.15
Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike

chart:


Molina Healthcare - MOH - close: 72.42 change: -0.14

Stop Loss: 69.95
Target(s): To Be Determined
Current Option Gain/Loss: Unopened
Average Daily Volume = 890 thousand
Entry on July -- at $---.--
Listed on July 15, 2015
Time Frame: Exit PRIOR to earnings on July 30th
New Positions: see below

Comments:
07/22/15: It was a quiet day for shares of MOH. The stock didn't move much. Traders did buy the dip near short-term technical support at its 10-dma. MOH still looks like it could breakout higher past resistance in the $74.00 area. However, the stock is just not moving fast enough and we're facing a deadline with earnings coming up on July 30th. That doesn't provide very much time for this trade to play out.

We are removing MOH as a candidate.

Trade did not open.

07/22/15 removed from the newsletter, suggested entry was $74.05

chart: