Traders started revising their outlook for "less bad" earnings and market sentiment began to fade. Suddenly the earnings beats on significantly lowered expectations no longer powered the market higher. Dow components Verizon and McDonalds were the morning disasters with VZ losing -1.72 and MCD -2.76. This weighed on the index all day.
After the bell today Google, Starbucks, Microsoft and Visa all disappointed and all were trading down 4-5% in afterhours. This is going to be a serious drag on the Nasdaq on Friday. However, while the Nasdaq futures are down -11 points tonight the S&P futures are only down -1 point. Multiple traders were saying today's decline was selling ahead of those giants reported and tomorrow we could see a bounce. I would not turn it down but I believe we could go either way.
If the banks were the only stocks to beat lowered estimates and rally and tech stocks are going to miss estimates and decline then next week could be really rocky.
Current Position Changes
XBI - Biotech ETF
The long call position was closed at the open on Thursday.
CSC - Computer Sciences
Close the long call position at the open on Friday.
ACN - Accenture
The long call position remains unopened until ACN trades at $116.65.
Check the graphic above for any profit stops in green.
We need to always be prepared for a profit exit at resistance.
Stop Loss Updates
Check the graphic above for any new stop losses in bright yellow.
We need to always be prepared for an unexpected decline.
BULLISH Play Updates
ACN - Accenture PLC - Company Description
Accenture faded with the market this morning and did not reach our breakout entry point of $116.65. No specific news.
This position remains unopened until ACN trades at $116.65.
Original Trade Description: April 20th.
Accenture provided management consulting, technology and outsourcing services worldwide. It operates in multiple segments including Communications, Media & Technology, Financial Services, Health & Public Services, Product support including supply chain management, Resources including chemicals, energy, commodities and utilities. The company was founded in 1989 and has risen to a $73 billion market cap. Accenture employs about 373,000 people in 120 countries.
Basically, Accenture helps other companies become more profitable. When Mondelez (MDLZ) wanted to improve its margins they called Accenture and implemented their suggestions. The new systems saved $350 million in the first year and is expected to save Mondelez more than $1 billion over the next three years. Accenture does this worldwide for almost any business in any sector.
This week they sold a 60% stake in their Duck Creek Technologies division to private equity firm Apax Partners. The joint venture will accelerate the innovation of claims, billing and policy administration software for the insurance industry leveraging advanced digital and cloud technology. They will invest in Duck Creek On-Demand, a native Software as a Service capability delivered through the cloud. Approximately 1,000 insurance and insurance software specialists will join the new venture. Accenture acquired Duck creek Technologies in 2011.
The key for Accenture is not specifically the Duck Creek venture but the rapidly expanding scope of the company. Nearly every day there is some new press release where they are expanding into new markets and new endeavors. This is what IBM and Hewlett Packard wish they were.
Earnings are June 23rd.
Accenture rallied to a new high in early April at $116.35. Shares paused with the market and consolidated their gains. Since April 8th shares have begun to move back to that high and could breakout at any time. I am recommending we buy that breakout over $116.35 because shares could begin a new leg higher, market permitting. Options are cheap!
With an ACN trade at $116.65
Buy June $120 call, currently $1.30, initial stop loss $113.45
ADBE - Adobe Systems - Company Description
No specific news. Price target was upgraded from $85 to $105 by Credit Suisse.
Original Trade Description: April 4th.
Adobe Systems Incorporated operates as a diversified software company worldwide. Its Digital Media segment provides tools and solutions that enable individuals, small and medium businesses, and enterprises to create, publish, promote, and monetize their digital content.
For years they sold their Photoshop software and assorted tools as boxed software on a CD with a license key. Once you bought it you own it and Adobe never received any further revenue unless you upgraded to a newer version at some later date.
All that has changed with the move to the cloud. The new product is called the Creative Cloud and is a subscription based product where you pay and pay and pay for as long as you continue to use it.
Moving to the cloud model has a lot of inherent problems. Once you quit selling your boxed software that big chunk of retail revenue goes away. In the case of Adobe their software sold for many hundreds, if not thousands of dollars. That meant the one time revenue disappeared in exchange for a $19 to 49 a month subscription fee. Over the long term the revenue is stable and eliminates the volatility of the single sale model.
Earnings for the quarter reported in March were 66 cents that beat estimates for 61 cents. Revenue rose 25% to $1.38 billion also beating estimates for $1.34 billion. They signed up a whopping 798,000 new subscribers to the Creative Cloud suite service. They guided for earnings of 64-70 cents for the current quarter and above analyst estimates for 65 cents.
Earnings are June 21st.
Shares spiked to $98 on the news before pulling back to consolidate at $92 for over a week. Over the last several days they crept up to $96 and then sold off in the weak market on Monday. I believe this market weakness is a buying opportunity for Adobe.
I would like an entry point closer to $92 but there is no guarantee we are going to get it. The S&P futures are down hard tonight at -6.50 and the market is likely to open lower on Tuesday. I am suggesting we buy the option 5 min after the open. That will give the prices time to evaporate in a falling market. Hopefully ADBE will gap down a couple dollars.
Long May $95 call @ $2.48. See portfolio graphic for stop loss.
CSC Computer Sciences Corp - Company Description
No specific news. CSC has been stuck to $33 for most of April. I am giving up on a breakout and recommending we close the position. With the market weakening the most likely direction for CSC is lower.
CLOSE THE POSITION
Original Trade Description: April 6th.
CSC is an information technology and professional services Fortune 500 firm that provides solutions in North America, Europe, Asia and Australia.
On February 11th the Supreme Court of Victoria, Australia, approved the acquisition of WXC Limited for (AU)$427.6 million. CSC believes the acquisition of UXC will strengthen their global commercial business by adding the UXC platform to the CSC cloud, cyber and big data offerings. Back in August CSC acquired two other companies, Fruition Partners, a service-management technology provider and London-based Fixnetix, a provider of front-office managed trading software for capital markets.
They are also acquiring Xchanging, a UK company that provides software and outsourcing services for the insurance industry for $697 million. That deal is currently going through the regulatory approval process.
The point here is that CSC is a leading provider of information technology and they are growing rapidly through acquisitions. They are moving towards a mix of cloud based higher margin products that will be beneficial over the long term. They are also buying back stock with a new authorization in January. They paid a special dividend of $10.50 when they spun off the public sector business in Q4. That accounts for the $10 drop in the stock price at the end of November.
Earnings for last quarter were 71 cents that beat estimates for 69 cents. However, revenue declined -10.2% to $1.75 billion missing estimates for $1.859 billion. Shares fell to $24 on the news. However, the reduced revenue came from a switch to cloud products, which have a long term subscription revenue rather than a short term one time sale. Adobe had the same problem when they went from software sales to software as a service. There is always a drop in revenue during the switch but long-term revenue rises and is more stable.
Total company bookings rose +21% to $2.7 billion. Operating income rose +9.2% to $190 million.
Earnings are May 17th.
Shares rebounded from that post earnings low in February to pass resistance at $33 last week. The market decline this week took some of the bloom off the stock and deflated the option premiums. Prior resistance became support and shares started to tick higher on Wednesday afternoon. This is a relatively slow mover but it has been steady since the rebound began.
I am recommending a June option but we will exit before earnings in May. Using a June option the premium will still have some earnings expectations premium when we exit.
Long June $34 call @ $1.50, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.
EXP - Eagle Materials - Company Description
No specific news. Initial resistance now $75.90. With the market losing momentum, I am adding an exit target at $76. The high today was nearly $78 but it was sold hard almost immediately. If we get another spike to resistance we should exit before our May option begins to deflate.
Set an exit target at $76.00.
Original Trade Description: April 14th.
Eagle Materials Inc. manufactures and distributes Cement, Gypsum Wallboard, Recycled Paperboard, Concrete and Aggregates, and Oil and Gas Proppants from 40 facilities across the US. Eagle is headquartered in Dallas, Texas.
In the last quarter revenues declined -5% and earnings -12% to 93 cents. However, cash flow from operations increased +66% to $108.7 million.
There were two problems impacting EXP results. The first was the dramatic decline in oil well drilling. They supply cement for those wells and they use a lot. The slowdown in the sector has weighed on EXP for the last year. However, they have survived and they are doing well.
The second problem was a high volume of rain October and December that reduced sales volume by delaying and slowing construction projects that use EXP materials.
Cement, concrete and aggregates revenue rose 11% in the quarter thanks to a 4% increase in prices to offset the lower demand for oil well cement. Cement revenues alone rose +9% to $135.4 million. They delivered 1.2 million tons at an average cost of $97.10 a ton.
The rain caused sheetrock sales to decline 9% but missed revenues will likely be pushed into Q1. They sold 568 million square feet of sheetrock, which is actually called Gypsum wallboard. They raised prices on that product as of March 31st and they expected a surge in bulk purchases ahead of the price increase. That will show up in the current quarter numbers.
Oil anf gas proppant sales declined 73% because of the slowdown in drilling and fracking. Fracsand volumes declined -47%. Proppants are a minor part of company revenue at only $8.5 million in Q4 compared to total revenue of $277.4 million.
Earnings are May 12th. We will exit before earnings.
Standpoint Research initiates coverage at accumulate and BB&T Capital upgraded them from hold to buy.
As we move into spring the construction activity will surge along with demand for concrete and sheetrock. Earnings should have improved for Q1 and will likely be much stronger in Q2 because of the activity and price increases.
Shares have rebounded to resistance at $71.50 and the close today was slightly over that level. I believe EXP is going to breakout and possibly run to the $77-$80 level before earnings, market permitting.
Position 4/15/16 with a trade at $72
Long May $75.00 call @ $1.95, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.
FDX - FedEx - Company Description
No specific news. Minor decline with the market.
Original Trade Description: April 18th.
FedEx provides transportation, e-commerce and business services worldwide. I doubt there is anyone that does not already know what FedEx does so there is no need of a lengthy explanation.
FedEx operates 65,000 vehicles and trailers from a network of 370 service centers. By comparison Amazon is operating 20 planes but they are adding hundreds of trucks to move products between regional warehouses. After Amazon contracted for those 20 planes the analyst community was all worried that Amazon was going to create its own delivery service and kick FedEx and UP to the curb.
The FedEx CEO, Mike Glenn, called the rumors "fantastical" and said it would take years and tens of billions of dollars in order to build sufficient scale and density to even replicate some of the existing FedEx network." Glenn said Amazon is "supplementing" FedEx with their new push into moving product around the country. However, Amazon has no real interest in delivering that last mile to customers all across the country. Amazon is simply improving their capability to get vast numbers of packages to the UPS/FDX locations all around the country to reduce costs and improve delivery times. UPS/FDX will still be responsible for delivering each of those packages to the customers.
When FDX reported earnings in March they reported $2.51 compared to estimates for $2.34. That was up from earnings in the comparison quarter of $2.03. Revenue rose from $11.7 billion to $12.7 billion. The company raised guidance for the full year from $10.40-$10.90 to $10.70-$10.90. The analyst consensus estimate was $10.56 on revenue of $49.91 billion. Shares soared from $145 to $161 on the report.
After moving sideways for over a month, the shares are starting to tick higher. There was resistance at $165 and that broke late last week. I am recommending a $170 call with expectations FDX will try to make a new high over $180, market permitting. Oil prices are not expected to move much higher so that is a positive for future expenses.
Earnings are June 21st.
Long June $170 call @ $3.68, initial stop loss $162.50
XBI - SPDR Biotech ETF - ETF Description
The Biotech Index was starting to fade and I recommended we close this position. Of course this was the day the $BTK was the only positive sector.
Original Trade Description: April 2nd.
The S&P Biotech ETF attempts to match the performance of the Biotech Select Industry Index. The ETF holds 90 stocks in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical sector.
The biotech sector has been in free fall since its high last July at 4,400 on the $BTK Index. The index hit 2,575 in early February and rebounded to trade in a narrow range between 2700-3000 for the last two months. On Friday, the index closed at 3,037 and a two-month high. The rebound over 3,000 could be the beginning of a major breakout.
Biotech and pharma stocks have beenunder pressure because of attacks by political candidates claiming they would lower the prices on drugs if they are elected. This caused the sector to collapse most notably in January from 3,900 to that 2,575 level.
If a candidate is elected and did choose to follow through on a promise to lower drug prices it would take a long time, assuming they had the votes in the House and Senate to get a bill passed. I believe the selloff in the biotech sector has been overdone and I have been waiting for a sign there may be a rally in our future. The close over 3,000 on the $BTK could be that sign. The $BTK gained 5.7% last week suggesting buyers are returning.
The XBI gained 2.9% on Friday to cap off a week of gains. The ETF has resistance at $54 and again at $56.50. However, short interest in biotech stocks is so high that any further move higher in the $BTK could cause significant short covering.
I am recommending we buy the June $55 call, currently $3.40. If we get a breakout over $56, it could easily run to $70, which is significant resistance. Obviously that assumes a positive market as well.
A rebound in the biotech sector would lift the Russell 2000 and the S&P and that would help support a positive market.
Closed 4/21/16: Long June $55 call @ $3.50, exit $4.00, +.50 gain.
BEARISH Play Updates (Alpha by Symbol)
HRB - H&R Block - Company Description
Nearing a new low. No specific news.
Original Trade Description: April 13th.
H&R Block has been doing taxes since 1946. They provide tax preparation, banking and other services to the general public through a system of retail offices.
Unfortunately for HRB the times are changing. The general public is moving to do-it-yourself tax preparation software like Turbo-Tax from Intuit (INTU). That is not the biggest problem. On Wednesday Senator Elizabeth Warren introduced the "Tax Filing Simplification Act of 2016" and Bernie Sanders is a co-sponsor.
Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and John Kasich have all said they would drastically change the tax code and Ted Cruz wants to simplify it enough so that all your taxes can be submitted on a post card sized form. If a republican wins the election the tax preparation business is going to suffer. However, if Hillary wins she has proposed 18 new taxes to raise $1 trillion in new revenue. That will further complicate the preparation situation.
Obamacare has also made tax preparation harder and more complicated. Taxpayers have been forced to use accountants to prepare their forms because of the complications. HRB could do it but the perception is that you need somebody other than a part time tax preparer to give you the right advice.
In the last quarter HRB posted a loss of 34 cents that was larger than the analyst estimates for 26 cents. It was also larger than the 13 cent loss in the year ago quarter.
Revenue declined -6.7% because of lower volumes of clients. Revenue of $474.5 million missed estimates for $505 million. Tax preperation fees declined -4.2%. Operating expenses rose +1.7%. Long-term debt rose from $500 million to $2.6 billion. Cash burn rose from $1.2 billion to $1.4 billion.
Earnings are June 8th.
I am recommending a July option so there will still be some earnings expectation premium left when we exit before earnings.
Long July $23 put @ $1.10, no initial stop loss.
LB - L Brands - Company Description
LB moved slightly below our target entry for this position at $77.25 and we are now in the play. It is very close to breakdown below the April 12th low. The company confirmed it was dumping the swimwear line, which had the potential to be a $1 billion a year business. The company said the store space would be better utilized for the VS Sport, activewear line that could be sold all year.
Original Trade Description: April 20th.
We tried to play LB on the 13th but shares rallied unexpectedly for three days and I cancelled the play. Shares have since rolled over and are again threatening to collapse. I recommend we try it again.
L Brands operates as a specialty retailer of women's intimate and other apparel, beauty and personal care products, and accessories. Everybody knows of Victoria Secret. They are the premier lingerie retailer in the country. They offer products under the Victoria's Secret, Pink, Bath & Body Works, La Senza, Henri Bendel, CO Bigelow, White Barn Candle Company and many other brand names. They have 2,721 stores in the USA, 270 in Canada and more than 700 international stores in 70 countries.
Two weeks ago the company said it was cutting 200 jobs and restructuring into three divisions. Those will be lingerie, beauty and the teen brand PINK. The company said it was getting rid of multiple merchandise categories but they did not say which ones. The online business will be revamped and integrated into the main business rather than operating as a separate entity. They plan on reducing promotions and eliminating the catalog. Citigroup said eliminating the catalog could be a nightmare that could have serious repercussions. JC Penny's revived its catalog last year after seeing sales decline after it was discontinued. There is a rumor they are eliminating swimwear, a $500 million a year category. They plan on utilizing the retail space for sports clothing.
The company reported March sales growth of 5% to $1.027 billion. Same store sales rose +3%.
Goldman Sachs downgraded the stock from buy to neutral saying the restructuring and elimination of multiple merchandise lines would impact sales in the short term. Two weeks earlier Credit Suisse cut them from buy to neutral and JP Morgan made the same downgrade last quarter.
Earnings May 18th.
Shares fell off rather steeply ahead of the sales reporting and Goldman downgrade and then hit a seven-month low on the downgrade. Many traders thought it was a buying opportunity and shares rebounded promptly in last Tuesday's short squeeze. The rebound lasted four days and now the negative trend has returned.
I am recommending we buy a put on a trade under today's low at $77.25. If the stock continues to decline it will trigger the position, otherwise we are just watching. If shares fall below that $76 print from April 12th there is a lot of air before the next support at $65.
Position 4/21/16 with a LB trade at $77.25
Long June $75 put @ $2.20. Initial stop loss $81.05.
SPY - S&P 500 ETF - ETF Description
Nice 11 point decline on the S&P after the dead stop at 2,111 on Wednesday.
Original Trade Description: March 16th.
All good things must come to an end. The market appears poised to rally and produce a new leg higher. However, there is serious resistance starting at 2,075 on the S&P and continuing through 2,100. The odds are very slim that a rally will make it through that resistance ahead of the earnings cycle and assuming earnings for Q1 are as bad as the guidance we have been getting then it is even more likely the market rolls over into the "Sell in May" cycle.
Nobody can accurately pick turning points in the market on a routine basis. There are far too many things that can push and pull the indexes but at critical resistance levels we can normally anticipate at least a little reaction to those levels.
The S&P has strong resistance beginning at 2,078, which equates to $208 on the SPY. That resistance runs from 2,078 to 2,105 or roughly $211 on the SPY. I am proposing we buy puts on the SPY starting at $207 with a stop loss at $213.
The S&P may never hit those levels or it could hit them next week. The close after the Fed decision was 2,027, which means it would still have to rally 50 points to hit our initial entry point. Once it reaches that level it will have rebounded for +268 points and would be extremely overbought when it reached that 2,078 level. That makes it even more likely it will fail when it gets there.
I am going to recommend the June $200 puts. They should cost about $4 when the SPY reaches the $207 level. I want to use June because we may not reach that resistance for a couple weeks, if at all, and once we do hit that level I want to be able to profit from any sell in May decline.
This position could go for several weeks without being triggered and there is a good chance we will not get to play it with numerous analysts calling for a failure at 2,040 and 2,050 along the way. There are analysts calling for a retest of the 1,900 level this summer with some projecting significantly lower levels. If you look hard enough you can probably find someone projecting targets a couple hundred points higher or lower than the ones discussed.
Morgan Stanley's Adam Parker slashed his price target for the S&P from 2,175 to 2,050 yesterday. Most of the major banks are in the 2,050 to 2,100 range so the expectations for a major rally from here are pretty slim.
Position 3/23/16 with SPY trade at $204.11
3/23/16: Long June $200 put @ $4.77 with SPY trade at $204.11
4/01/16: Long June $200 put @ $3.26 when SPY traded at $207.
4/19/16: Long June $200 put @ $1.95 when SPY traded at $210.
See portfolio graphic for stop loss.
TWTR - Twitter - Company Description
Twitter posted a minor gain ahead of its earnings next Tuesday. Some analysts are predicting a big move higher and others are predicting a disaster. That is what makes a market.
Original Trade Description: April 9th.
Twitter operates as a global platform for public self expression and conversation in real time. I am pretty sure everyone knows what Twitter is so I am not going into depth in this explanation.
Twitter has become the bet of the year. Analysts either think it is going to single digits or going to the moon. The highest price target is $36 and the lowest is $11 with the average at $20.86 across a total of 27 brokers.
Twitter has trouble keeping users because the learning curve is steep and Twitter spam is increasing daily. Twitter bots can be programmed to spread tweets and make it appear there is a huge volume of interest in a specific subject. Andres Sepulveda, a Latin American political operative used custom software to direct 30,000 Twitter bots to create false enthusiasm for candidates and spread rumors about the opposition. Sepulveda said the tactics gave him "the power to make people believe almost everything." The man responsible for his operations said two American presidential candidates had contact him and one of those was Donald Trump.
Unfortunately, Twitter has been having trouble monetizing all the traffic regardless of whether it is real or fake. Their monthly active users include a lot of churn and barely any growth. While nobody expects Twitter to go out of business they are losing faith in the business model.
CEO Jack Dorsey is also CEO of Square and that carries mixed emotions. Some want him replaced and others want him full time. Almost nobody wants him to continue the dual role.
There are constant rumors that Twitter will be bought by someone like Google or Apple. If that were to occur it would carry a huge premium to the current $16 stock price.
Twitter has been earnings challenged for a long time and the stock has declined from $55 to the current $16 level on a lack of confidence they will turn the company around.
Earnings April 26th.
The stock is either going to single digits or it will be back well over $20 soon. It is not likely to continue moving sideways at $16.
I am recommending we do a strangle on Twitter using the June options. Regardless of the stock or market direction we should be able to profit. Because Twitter is $16 and stagnant the options are relatively cheap. I want to buy them now and hold over earnings because that is likely to be a volatility event. We could also get some market moving news with the earnings release.
You could use the $18 call and $15 put for a net debit of $2.22 if you want a cheaper option.
Long June $17 call @ $2.07, no stop loss.
Long June $16 put @ $1.45, no stop loss.
Net debit $3.52.
USO - US Oil Fund - Company Description
May futures expired at the close on Wednesday and June became the front month today. I said last night it may take another day or two for the short squeeze to fade in the June futures. Assuming there is no headline spam out of the Middle East we should start to see a decline next week.
Original Trade Description: April 12th.
The U.S. Oil Fund is designed to track the daily price movement of WTI crude oil. This is the simplest method to speculate on the direction of crude oil on a short-term basis.
The USO, or any futures ETF, should not be held long-term because it bleeds value when the futures roll over once a month. On a short term basis it works great for speculation.
Crude oil has spiked 15% over the last several days with a 4% rise today alone. This is speculation over a production freeze agreement in Doha, Qatar on Sunday between OPEC and major crude producing countries. On Tuesday Russia's Interfax news service quoted some diplomat in Qatar saying Russia and Saudi Arabia had agreed to freeze production even if Iran decided not to participate.
This is contrary to what the Saudi deputy crown prince has said over the last couple weeks. The prince said Saudi would not participate unless Iran and the other major producers all agreed to freeze production. Obviously, he could change his mind but after making those statements more than once a change of heart could make him look weak.
There is significant potential for a Doha disaster where the meeting deteriorates into a brawl and nothing is accomplished. Even if they do agree to a freeze that would still maintain 1.45 mbpd of excess production at current levels. Iran, Libya, Kuwait, Iraq, Nigeria and the UAE all have plans to increase production so it would be a major change of plans to agree to a freeze. Most have said they would not support a freeze but when it comes down to the meeting, anything is possible.
Lastly, OPEC members are notorious about saying one thing and doing another. They could all agree to the freeze, wink wink, in order to lift prices and then continue on doing what they are already doing and pumping every barrel they can produce.
I believe there is a good probability we will see oil prices significantly lower in the days/weeks following the meeting. I am recommending we buy an inexpensive put on the USO and see what happens. If you are aggressive you could also buy a call just in case a miracle does occur and prices spike higher. I view that as nearly impossible since Saudi Arabia has said they do not want to see prices much over $40 because that would allow U.S. shale drillers to increase production.
Long May $10.50 put @ 58 cents. No stop loss.
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