Editors Note:

The rebound gained speed but faded in the afternoon on new Washington headlines. The major indexes made some decent gains but closed well off the highs as a new round of Washington headlines rekindled the worries the Trump presidency could be shortened.

While the implications from the headlines were vague at best, they probably rekindled some weekend event risk worries and that caused trades to take profits from the rebound.



Current Portfolio


Stop Loss Updates

Check the graphic below for any new stop losses in bright yellow. We need to always be prepared for an unexpected decline.


Profit Targets

Check the graphic below for any profit stops in green. We need to always be prepared for a profit exit at resistance.





Current Position Changes


No Changes



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BULLISH Play Updates

ATHN - AthenaHealth - Company Profile

Comments:

No specific news. I am going to remove this from the portfolio because we may have to wait until expiration for the time premium to evaporate to get full value. However, the options at the close on Friday were in our favor. If you want to close it now, I would use limit orders and you can probably get pretty close to full value. I am removing it after today.

Original Trade Description: May 13th.

athenahealth, Inc., together with its subsidiaries, provides network-based medical record, revenue cycle, patient engagement, care coordination, and population health services for medical groups and health systems. It offers athenaCollector, a network-enabled billing and practice management solution; athenaClinicals, an electronic health record for electronic health record management to help manage patient's clinical documentation; athenaCommunicator, an engagement and communication solution that provides an automated communication service between patients and provider practices for interactions outside the exam room; and athenaCoordinator for order transmission and care coordination services. The company also provides athenahealth Population Health, a cloud-based population health service; and Epocrates service that include clinical information and decision support services in the areas of drug and disease information, medical calculator and tools, clinical guidelines, clinical messaging, and market research. In addition, it offers athenahealth Health Plan data exchange facilitates to exchange the data between providers and health plans for the healthcare operations of clients; athenaOne Analytics that includes an analytics and dashboard application, as well as provides visibility into the financial and operational health of an organization; and pre-certification processing and referral processing services. The company serves clients in the health care industry through its direct sales force and channel partners in the United States and internationally. athenahealth, Inc. was formerly known as athenahealth.com, Inc. and changed its name to athenahealth, Inc. in November 2000. Company description from FinViz.com.

ATHN shares fell from $121 to $95 after reporting slower than normal growth in the first quarter. The company reported earnings of 32 cents compared to estimates for 46 cents. Revenue of $284.4 million rose 11% but missed estimates for $296.6 million. ATHN has averaged 20% growth in the past and the slowdown hammered the stock. They guided for the full year for revenue of $1.21 to $1.25 billion.

There was good news. They added 2,406 new providers of its Collector software. They added 2,791 providers using their Clinical software system. The hospital software segment saw 86% growth in discharged bed days. Covered lives rose 25% to 2.8 million. They handle 88 million patient records and now have more than 99,000 providers.

The lower earnings came from a 13% increase in expenses, mostly due to an aggressive research and development effort, which will increase profits later.

Earnings July 27th.

Analysts believe ATHN was surprised by the lower growth in Q1 and they drastically lowered guidance to avoid missing estimates again in the future. This is the under promise and over deliver tactic.

Shares have been rebounding strongly since the drop. Even on weak market days, they continue to post gains.

Because of the positioning of share price and option strikes, I am recommending a spread using the June options. This will limit our potential gain but also limit out cost and risk. There are no July/August options and the September options are far too expensive.

Update 5/18/17: Activist investor Elliott Management said it had amassed a 9.2% stake in the company and they believed the stock was significantly undervalued. The filing said Elliott may propose changes to the company's operations, board and dividend policy, as well as a potential sale. Shares exploded higher with a $23.79 gain.

Unfortunately, this position was entered as a minor $110/$115 spread with the plan to make $2.55 in the June option cycle. Because it was a spread, we will not benefit from the $23 spike. That just means our initial spread will be earn us the $2.55 and nothing more. Yesterday we would have been happy with a $2.55 gain but today that is frustrating and depressing. I used the spread because of the high option premiums and short time frame. The idea was to limit our risk by purchasing a strike closer to the money and offset it with a higher strike call. It worked perfectly except for the last gains.

The downside here is that we have to hold it until expiration to get the maximum benefit. The premiums have to deflate to purely intrinsic values. This weekend I will drop this position from the portfolio since there is no reason to cover it daily for the next month.

Position 5/15/17:

Long June $110 call @ $4.30, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.
Short June $115 call @ $1.85, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.
Net debit $2.45, maximum gain $2.55.


CNC - Centene Corp - Company Profile

Comments:

No specific news. Shares have lost their momentum and the next move could be lower. I am recommending we close the position.

Original Trade Description: April 28th.

Centene Corporation operates as a diversified and multi-national healthcare enterprise that provides programs and services to under-insured and uninsured individuals in the United States. It operates through two segments, Managed Care and Specialty Services. The Managed Care segment offers Medicaid and Medicaid-related health plan coverage to individuals through government subsidized programs, including Medicaid, the State children's health insurance program, long-term care, foster care, and dual-eligible individual, as well as aged, blind, or disabled programs. Its health plans include primary and specialty physician care, inpatient and outpatient hospital care, emergency and urgent care, prenatal care, laboratory and X-ray services, home health and durable medical equipment, behavioral health and substance abuse, 24-hour nurse advice line, transportation assistance, vision care, dental care, immunizations, prescriptions and limited over-the-counter drugs, specialty pharmacy, therapies, social work services, and care coordination. The Specialty Services segment provides pharmacy benefits management services; health, triage, wellness, and disease management services; vision services; dental services; correctional healthcare services; in-home health services; and integrated long-term care services, as well as care management software that automate the clinical, administrative, and technical components of care management programs. This segment offers its services and products to state programs, healthcare organizations, employer groups, and other commercial organizations. The company provides its services through primary and specialty care physicians, hospitals, and ancillary providers. Company description from FinViz.com.

Centene reported earnings of $1.12 compared to estimates for $1.05. Revenue jumped 69% to $11.72 billion to beat estimates for $11.42 billion. The big spike in revenue came from the $6.3 billion acquisition of Health Net last year.

The insurer said it had 12.15 million members on March 31st, an increase of 605,000. They raised guidance for the full year from $4.40-$4.85 to $4.50-$4.90. The health benefits ratio or HBR, the amount it spends on claims compared to the premiums received declined from 88.7% to 87.6%. The lower HBR is due to a greater mix of commercial businesses and the growth of its Obamacare businesses.

Earnings July 25th.

Shares had resistance at $73, which was broken last week. The next resistance is the 52-week high at $75.50 and the stock closed at $74.41 on Friday. There was a sell the news drop on Wednesday after the earnings but shares have already recovered $3 of that decline.

If the stock moves to a new 52-week high is should continue on to make a new high over $80.

Position 5/1/17:

Long June $77.50 call @ $1.57, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.


CVX - Chevron - Company Profile

Comments:

No specific news. Oil prices broke over $50 and energy stocks should begin to rebound next week.

Original Trade Description: April 16th.

Chevron Corporation, through its subsidiaries, engages in integrated energy, chemicals, and petroleum operations worldwide. The company operates in two segments, Upstream and Downstream. The Upstream segment is involved in the exploration, development, and production of crude oil and natural gas; processing, liquefaction, transportation, and regasification associated with liquefied natural gas; transportation of crude oil through pipelines; and transportation, storage, and marketing of natural gas, as well as operates a gas-to-liquids plant. The Downstream segment engages in refining crude oil into petroleum products; marketing crude oil and refined products; transporting crude oil and refined products through pipeline, marine vessel, motor equipment, and rail car; and manufacturing and marketing commodity petrochemicals, and fuel and lubricant additives, as well as plastics for industrial uses. It is also involved in the cash management and debt financing activities; insurance operations; real estate activities; and technology businesses. Further, the company holds interests in power plants, as well as operates geothermal plants; and engages in the transportation of refined products primarily in the coastal waters of the United States. The company was formerly known as ChevronTexaco Corporation and changed its name to Chevron Corporation in 2005. Company description from FinViz.com.

Chevron is one of the U.S. energy majors with billions of barrels of reserves. The company pays an annual dividend of $4.32 or 4.07% yield. They are totally committed to preserving and raising the dividend. This makes them a top pick by nearly every major analyst.

Chevron is coming out of a major project cycle where they spent over $25 billion a year on capex building out monster projects. Now that the projects are nearly complete and ramping up production, the company can reduce its capex significantly and still increase production as those projects come online.

Chevron has amassed a two million acre position in the Permian Basin with 9 billion barrels of reserves. The company is currently operating 11 rigs in the Permian and will be adding 9 more in the coming months. They plan on ramping up their Permian production from the current 80,000 bpd to 700,000 bpd over the next few years. Chevron's Permian acreage is said to be worth more than $43 billion. It was acquired in pieces at much lower prices by predecessor companies over the last several decades. The Permian was never a big focus for Chevron as they concentrated on megaprojects elsewhere. They are increasing spending in the Permian by $2.5 billion in 2017. They are not hedging their oil production because they believe prices will rise.

Earnings on April 28th are expected to be a miss because of the sharp decline in oil prices in March. This is expected to lower earnings and force misses for the major producers. Since this is a well-known fact, I suspect it it being priced into the stock ahead of the report.

Thursday's decline of 3% put the stock right at light support at $106. If this level fails, there is strong support at $100.

Oil prices should begin to rally any day now. Refinery utilization of back over 90% and it is time to begin pushing summer blend fuels into the distribution system. We should begin to see inventory declines every week and that should last through July. August is normally when crude prices top out. OPEC should extend the production cuts because they are right on the edge of a reduction in inventories and an extension would guarantee it.

Chevron shares should rebound with crude prices. If they were to surprise with earnings, shares should rebound quickly.

The option is cheap and we are going to hold over the earnings report.

If the market tanks at the open on Monday, please do not enter this position until the S&P is positive.

Update 4/19/17: Chevron shares crashed with the entire energy sector after a nearly $2 drop in crude prices on weak inventory numbers from the EIA. WTI only declined -1 million barrels and gasoline rose 1.5 million compared to an expected decline of -1.6 million. The EIA said gasoline demand was down -0.8% from the same period in 2016.

Update 4/22/17: Chevron lost a court case in Australia for $260 million. The case ruled on the deductibility of interest on a $2.5 billion loan made from the parent company between 2003-2008. Chevron Australia paid 9% interest on the loan from Chevron and the parent company borrowed the money at a lower rate. The court said Chevron Australia could only deduct the interest at the parent's borrowing rate. Chevron said they would appeal.

Update 4/24/17: Chevron said it was selling its assets in Bangladesh to Himalaya Energy. No price was given but Bloomberg said the fields were worth about $2 billion. Chevron is planning on selling $10 billion in non-core assets in 2017. Himalaya is owned by a consortium of Chinese state owned firms. Bangladesh has a right of refusal on any deal and they said they were not done with their evaluations yet. The three fields held in the Chevron subsidiary produce 720 million cubic feet of gas and 3,000 barrels of condensate per day.

Update 4/28/17: Chevron reported earnings of $1.41 compared to estimates for 86 cents. The Chevron number did have a $600 million gain from the sale of an upstream asset so it is not really apples to apples comparison. Revenue of $33.4 billion missed estimates for $34.9 billion. Operating costs declined 14% and capex spending will be down more than 30%. Oil production rose 3% and full year growth is expected to be 4-9%.

Udate 5/15/17: Chevron said they had taken Train 1 of the massive Gorgon LNG plant offline for a month to do some maintenance. The plant cost $54 billion to build and has 3 trains that can produce 15.6 million tonnes of LNG per year.

Position 4/17/17:

Long June $110 call, currently $1.45. See portfolio graphic for stop loss.


FB - Facebook - Company Profile

Comments:

Facebook is going to live stream 20 Major League Baseball Friday night games. The company also said it was adding an "Order Food" option to let some users order, pay and have food delivered or be available for pickup. The service works with restaurants that use Delivery.com or Slice.

Original Trade Description: May 17th.

Facebook, Inc. provides various products to connect and share through mobile devices, personal computers, and other surfaces worldwide. Its solutions include Facebook Website and mobile application that enables people to connect, share, discover, and communicate each other on mobile devices and personal computers; Instagram, a mobile application that enables people to take photos or videos, customize them with filter effects, and share them with friends and followers in a photo feed or send them directly to friends; Messenger, a messaging application to communicate with people and businesses across platforms and devices; and WhatsApp Messenger, a mobile messaging application. The company also offers Oculus virtual reality technology and content platform, which allow people to enter an immersive and interactive environment to play games, consume content, and connect with others. Company description from FinViz.com.

Facebook also blew away earnings estimates and they are growing earnings at the fastest rate of any of the FAANG stocks. They have multiple revenue streams and sites like Instagram and WhatsApp that are just starting to accelerate earnings. They said Instagram had reached 50,000 advertisers. Facebook's problem is they do not have enough page views to monetize despite the 1.9 billion users. They have more advertisers than they have space.

Earnings August 2nd.

Facebook had been moving sideways since hitting the $153 high post earnings. Volatility was low and investors were just waiting for a market dip so they could get a better entry point. Share fell to uptrend support at $145 and even if they due decline further there is strong support around $140.

Update 5/18/27: Facebook was fined $122.4 million by EU regulators for giving them false information in the WhatsApp acquisition process. The EU asked how many WhatsApp users were also Facebook users and the company said it did not know and did not have way of matching the usernames. A year after the acquisition Facebook launched a service that did match users and the EU said they had the capability all the time.

The company also announced a new effort to reduce "clickbait" headlines and punish websites that continually publish fake news. I hope they are successful.

Position 5/18/17:

Long Aug $150 call @ $4.90, no initial stop loss.


IWM - Russell 2000 ETF - Company Profile

Comments:

The small caps rebounded with the market on Friday but crashed at the close on the latest revelations about the Russian probe into the Trump administration. This could be the start of a new decline next week. I am putting a tight stop on this position.

Original Trade Description: May 17th.

The iShares Russell 2000 ETF seeks to track the investment results of an index composed of small-capitalization U.S. equities.

The Russell 3000 is the top 3,000 investible stocks in the U.S. The Russell 1000 is the top 1,000 stocks by market cap and the Russell 2000 is the next 2,000 stocks by market cap. The Russell 2000 is commonly called the small cap index but it has a large number of midcap stocks as well.

The Russell 2000 imploded with a 39 point, -3% decline to 1,355. There is strong support at 1,344. "IF" the market rebounds as I expect the Russell is likely to rebound strongly now that all the stop losses have been hit.

The corresponding level on the IWM is $134 with the ETF closing at $134.89 on Wednesday. This support has held since January despite six intraday penetrations that were immediately bought.

Position 5/18/17:

Long July $136 call @ $3.08. No initial stop loss.


MCD - McDonalds - Company Profile

Comments:

No specific news but a new record high.

Original Trade Description: May 3rd.

McDonald's Corporation operates and franchises McDonald's restaurants in the United States, Europe, the Asia/Pacific, the Middle East, Africa, Canada, Latin America, and internationally. The company's restaurants offer various food products, soft drinks, coffee, and other beverages. As of December 31, 2016, it operated 36,899 restaurants, including 31,230 franchised restaurants comprising 21,559 franchised to conventional franchisees, 6,300 licensed to developmental licensees, and 3,371 licensed to foreign affiliates; and 5,669 company-operated restaurants. McDonald's Corporation was founded in 1940 and is based in Oak Brook, Illinois. Company description from FinViz.com.

McDonalds is surging because they have overhauled their menu, offered breakfast all day, shifted to fresh beef, mobile ordering, delivery with UberEats, kiosks AND they are selling coffee for $1 and specialty drinks for $2. That is vastly lower than Starbucks and it is helping them steal market share. People stopping by to pick up a cheap coffee tend to order a snack as well. Who can resist adding an Egg McMuffin to go with that coffee.

McDonalds reported better than expected earnings and raised guidance. They reported $1.47 compared to estimates for $1.33. Revenue of $5.68 billion beat estimates for $5.53 billion. Same store sales rose 1.7% compared to expectations for an 0.8% decline. Global sales were up 4%.

Earnings July 25th.

Goldman has had a neutral rating on them forever but upgraded the fast food giant today to a buy with $153 price target. Goldman admitted they were late but said there was still plenty of time given the improved metrics. Goldman cited McDonald's "Experience of the Future" plans for mobile ordering and kiosks and said the expanding delivery options could expand revenue.

McDonalds closed at a new high today in a weak market.

Update 5/4/17: McDonalds said it was adding Signature Crafted Recipes to its stores in Florida and would be adding 5,000 workers to handle the volume.

Update 5/15/17: McDonald's Bar-B-Que opened on May 15th, 1940. The store closed and was later reopened in 1948 with only 9 items on the menu. Hamburgers were 15 cents, cheeseburgers 19 cents and cokes/coffee were 10 cents. Today, McDonalds serves 77 million customers a day. Short history of MCD in pictures The stock celebrated today with a new high.

Update 5/18/17: McDonald's added 1,000 additional restaurants to its McDelivery program utilizing UberEATS food delivery service. They had been testing at 200 stores in Florida since January. Apparently, McDonalds customers are loving it.

Position 5/4/17:

Long July $145 call @ $1.67, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.


NFLX - Netflix - Company Profile

Comments:

The screening of the Netflix movie "Okja" at the Cannes Film Festival was stopped after five minutes because of heckling from the audience due to a glitch in the projection system. The movie was restarted and received mostly good reviews. Netflix caused controversy because it refuses to show the movie in France. French regulations prevent online streaming of movies until 3 years after their original theatrical release. The movie stars Tilda Swinton and Jake Gyllenhaal. The live action movie is about a girl and her pet animal (animated) that resembles a loveable hippo that was captured to be sold for food.

Original Trade Description: May 17th.

Netflix, Inc., an Internet television network, engages in the Internet delivery of television (TV) shows and movies on various Internet-connected screens. The company operates in three segments: Domestic Streaming, International Streaming, and Domestic DVD. It offers members with the ability to receive streaming content through a host of Internet-connected screens, including TVs, digital video players, television set-top boxes, and mobile devices. The company also provides DVDs-by-mail membership services. It serves approximately 100 million streaming members in 190 countries. Netflix, Inc. was founded in 1997 and is headquartered in Los Gatos, California. Company description from FinViz.com.

Netflix posted blowout earnings and shares rocketed higher to hit $161 on Monday. I have been waiting for three weeks for a pullback. Analysts are projecting higher highs with the high price targets at $175. There have been continuous rumors that either Disney or Apple will try to buy them not only to acquire the platform but to keep the other company from acquiring it. Both have said they want to have a big presence in streaming. Tim Cook just said it last week. Both have the cash and Disney has billions of dollars in content it can immediately add to the platform.

Netflix is expected to add 3 million subscribers in Q2. They are testing higher prices in Australia to see what price levels will cause subscriber flight. Once they figure it out you can bet they will apply it to the rest of their 100 million customers. That is instant profit. Bumping rates by $5 gets them another $500 million a month in revenue.

They announced with earnings they were finally entering China through a partnership with the largest existing streamer in China. This is one more step to a full release in the future.

Update 5/18/17: The FCC voted 2-1 to roll back the 2015 net neutrality order from President Obama. Some say this will impact major internet users like Netflix. However, the company said last month that elimination of the order would not have any impact on their business because they were big enough and had a broad enough customer base that ISPs would not try to slow down their streaming traffic. The order prevented ISPs from charging for faster bandwidth for heavy users. Netflix is responsible for 40% of the internet traffic in peak hours.

Earnings July 17th.

We have to use a spread because options are still expensive.

Position 5/18/17:

Long July $160 call @ $6.45, no initial stop loss.
Short July $175 call @ $2.16, no initial stop loss.
Net debit $4.29.


$VIX - Volatility Index - Index Description

Comments:

The strong open erased most of the VIX gains for the week. That is two spikes to 16+ over the last three weeks but I am not giving up on worries there could be a bigger spike in our future.

The May 8th close at 9.77 was the lowest close since December 1993. That is a 24 year low!!

This is a July call. We have plenty of time and the odds of a market sell off over the next 2.5 months are close to 100%. The VIX cannot go much lower but it can go a lot higher.

While holding the VIX call is an insurance play for us, I hope we are never in a position to profit from it. That would mean a lot of our long positions would be under water or stopped out.

Original Trade Description: Jan 26th

The VIX is a computed index, much like the S&P 500 itself, although it is not derived based on stock prices. Instead, it uses the price of options on the S&P 500, and then estimates how volatile those options will be between the current date and the option's expiration date. The CBOE combines the price of multiple options and derives an aggregate value of volatility, which the index tracks.

The VIX closed at 10.63 and very close to record lows. You have to go back to June of 2014 for a lower recent close at 10.28. Before that, you have to travel back in time to Feb-2007 for a close at 10.05. The next lowest close was 9.48 in Dec-1993.

The point here is that volatility is near record lows only reached four times in the last 23 years. That qualifies for an abnormal event. I believe it is time we bought some VIX calls. The odds of the VIX remaining this low for the next two months are about as close to zero as you can get.

There is a very old saying in the market. "When the VIX is high, it is time to buy. When the VIX is low, it is time to go." You cannot get much lower than this.

The VIX is telling us that everyone expects the market to continue moving higher. Nobody is worried that some unexpected headline or event is going to trigger a significant market decline. When nobody expects an event is when we should be the most concerned.

Update 5/1/17: The VIX made a new intraday low at 9.90 and closed at a 10-yr low at 10.11. The government shutdown has been avoided according to reports out of Washington and that helped to deflate the VIX. Marine Le Pen is rapidly gaining on Macron in the French election runoff for next Sunday. She gained 6 points in two days to 41% in the recent polls compared to Macron's 59%. If she can gain another 6% early this week then the entire event risk scenario comes back into play with a potential come from behind win.

Position 3/30/117
Long July $14 call @ $2.55, no stop loss.
Added 5/9/17: Long July $14 call @ $1.60, no stop loss.
Average cost now $2.07.

Previously Closed 2/1/17: Long March $12 call @ $2.60, exit $2.50, -.10 loss.
Previously Closed 2/22/17: Long March $12 call @ $1.75 adj, exit $1.65, -.10 loss.
Previously Closed 4/10/17: Long Apr $13 call @ $2.30, exit $1.80, -.55 loss.



BEARISH Play Updates (Alpha by Symbol)

TSCO - Tractor Supply - Company Profile

Comments:

No specific news. New 2-year low close.

Original Trade Description: May 15th.

Tractor Supply Company operates rural lifestyle retail stores in the United States. The company offers a selection of merchandise, including equine, livestock, pet, and small animal products necessary for their health, care, growth, and containment; hardware, truck, towing, and tool products; seasonal products, such as heating products, lawn and garden items, power equipment, gifts, and toys; work/recreational clothing and footwear; and maintenance products for agricultural and rural use. As of January 26, 2017, it operated 1,600 retail stores in 49 states. The company operates its retail stores under the Tractor Supply Company, Del's Feed & Farm Supply, and Petsense names. It also operates an e-commerce Website, TractorSupply.com. The company sells its products to recreational farmers, ranchers, and others, as well as tradesmen and small businesses. Tractor Supply Company was founded in 1938 and is headquartered in Brentwood, Tennessee. Company description from FinViz.com.

In mid April TSCO warned that sales were weak and cut its earnings outlook. Same store sales fell -2.2%. The average number of transactions declined -1.4% and the average ticket size fell -0.9%. The company blamed price deflation from competition and lower sales of seasonal merchandise. They cut estimates from 49 cents to 45-46 cents.

The company has been around since 1938. Have they not gotten a grasp of weather patterns yet?

When they reported earnings of 46 cents that matched the lowered analyst estimates. Revenue rose 6.6% to $1.56 billion.

Let make sure we have this right. In Mid April, they warned of lower sales for multiple reasons and cut earnings estimates. Two weeks later, they reported a 6.6% increase in sales rather than a decrease. Other investors picked up on the discrepancy and shares began to fall. Since Amazon does not sell tractors online, somebody else is forcing their profits lower. Maybe the sale of big ticket items like tractors is suffering from the same illness as motorcycles and motor homes. A lack of extra money in consumer pockets.

The next earnings release is July 26th.

I am going to step out to the October strikes because the July options would expire before earnings. It would be best to have some earnings expectation in the premium to keep them elevated.

We can buy all the time we want. We do not have to use it. We will exit before earnings.

Position 5/16/17:

Long Oct $55 put @ $1.95, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.




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