The market refuses to decline despite multiple predictions for that to happen.
While resistance is still strong, but eroding, the volume of sellers we had last week has diminished significantly. The markets had a good chance to sell off on Monday after Friday's big short squeeze but they could not make it happen. Most of the indexes ended in the red but the declines were minimal.
In the AAII Sentiment Survey pessimism is above 30% for the third consecutive week. You have to go back to November for a higher reading. Bullish sentiment has declined by 13.4% since the beginning of January. The percentages for each category of sentiment are almost identical. That suggests the investing public is thoroughly confused about market direction. That is actually positive from a contrarian viewpoint. If the bullish sentiment was still over 45% as it was the first week of January, it would suggest 45% of investors were fully invested and fewer people available to join the party.
You are never going to get 100% or zero percent in any category. The 20% level is about as low as you are going to see any particular sentiment group. That means there are about 40% of votes that can be changed at any given time or roughly 13% per category as of last week. With the bullish sentiment the lowest that means favorable events could pull investors from the other two categories with a max gain of about 18% because we never go over 50% bullish. The highest level for bullish sentiment in recent memory was 49.89% back on November 24th as post election euphoria was driving the markets. The lowest was two weeks earlier at 23.64% on November 3rd. That represents a swing of 26% in points but 100% in terms of percentage increase. Now all those bulls have faded back into the neutral or uncertain camps.
While sentiment may be almost dead even, the markets seem to have a positive bias hidden under the daily dips into negative territory. While there are no sellers there are plenty of dip buyers. The dips are being bought at progressively higher levels each time.
The S&P is threatening to push through 2,300 and any convincing breakout could trigger a new leg higher. The 2,300 level is the new Dow 20,000. The S&P pulled back only slightly from the test of resistance at 2,298 on Friday. The high today was 2,296. The S&P would have to drop back to 2,260 to negate that uptrend pattern.
The Dow came within 5 points of 20,100 on Monday. There was no material decline and dip buying appeared around 20,035. Dow component Disney reports on Tuesday and Coke on Thursday. Neither are known to be market movers but Disney could surprise. If the Dow can push through 20,100 that would be positive for sentiment and possible convince some fence sitters to join the party.
The Nasdaq remains the strongest index. The Composite index has already pushed through uptrend resistance and the Nasdaq 100 is poised to do that very soon. The tech sector has overcome numerous earnings disappointments and continues to push higher.
The Russell remains the weakest index but it is not exactly crashing. The correct term would be lagging. It has not tested the highs since the first week in January. If the big caps break out, the small caps would probably follow. The Russell 2000 is still up about 15% since the election. The index is just taking its sweet time consolidating those gains.
Earnings are losing their luster and there is very little to get excited about this week. We are entering the post earnings depression period. Expiration week and the week after in February have been prone to weakness in the past.
The economic calendar is also devoid of any market moving events. This is a very light week so the market will have to look elsewhere for direction.
When most of the current positions were launched back in December with February options we expected a decline in January and we were going to be out before earnings. The decline did not come although it seemed to threaten every couple days for the entire month. All of our February positions are now expiring and I am going to start adding positions to take advantage of the Q1 earnings cycle. We are going to be starting with a clean slate next week and it would be nice if we could actually get a 2% to 3% correction over the next week or two. I am always paranoid about buying market tops.
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NEW DIRECTIONAL CALL PLAY
QQQ - Nasdaq 100 ETF - ETF Profile
PowerShares QQQ, formerly known as "QQQ" or the "NASDAQ- 100 Index Tracking Stock", is an exchange-traded fund based on the Nasdaq-100 Index. The Fund will, under most circumstances, consist of all of stocks in the Index. The Index includes 100 of the largest domestic and international nonfinancial companies listed on the Nasdaq Stock Market based on market capitalization. The Fund and the Index are rebalanced quarterly and reconstituted annually.
The Nasdaq 100 big cap index has been leading the charge higher. The Nasdaq 100 and Nasdaq Composite may have been alternating days in the lead but the big cap index has seen the least volatility. The index bounced off uptrend resistance the prior week but it is back knocking on the door again today. The NDX was the only broad market index to post a gain on Monday and it closed only one point from a new high.
I believe the NDX is going to break through that resistance at 5,200 and that should trigger a new leg higher on short covering and price chasing by portfolio managers. They are currently holding cash back to buy the dips but the dips are very shallow. A breakout could convince them they are going to be left behind if they do not act.
I could just as easily predict a failure at resistance but every analyst prediction for a market failure in 2017 has proven wrong. I would rather invest $2.50 in a call option than try to bet against the trend.
Buy May $128 Call, currently $2.45, initial stop loss $123.50
If there is a trade you would like me to consider or you have comments on this newsletter please click the email link below.
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Check the graphic below for any new stop losses in bright yellow. We need to always be prepared for an unexpected decline. Any items shaded in blue were previously closed.
Current Position Changes
DIS - Disney
The long call position was stopped at $109.45
HAIN - Hain Celestial
The long call recommendation stopped at $38.45.
HD - Home Depot
The long call recommendation stopped at $136.75.
SRG - Seritage
Close the position at the open.
TWLO - Twilio Inc
Close the position at the open.
IWM Russell 2000 ETF
The long call recommendation remains unopened until a trade at $131.50.
Original Play Recommendations (Alpha by Symbol)
DIS - Walt Disney - Company Profile
I tightened the stop last week in hopes of keeping us in the rally on DIS.Shares rolled over on Thursday and we were stopped out on Monday. It was a February option so we needed to exit anyway. We exited with a $7.40 gain.
Original Trade Description: November 28th.
The Walt Disney Company, together with its subsidiaries, operates as an entertainment company worldwide. The company operates broadcast and cable television networks, domestic television stations, and radio networks and stations; and is involved in the television production and television distribution operations. Its cable networks include ESPN, Disney Channels, and ABC Family, as well as UTV/Bindass and Hungama. The company owns eight domestic television stations. It also owns and operates the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida that includes theme parks; hotels; vacation club properties; a retail, dining, and entertainment complex; a sports complex; conference centers; campgrounds; golf courses; water parks; and other recreational facilities. In addition, the company operates Disneyland Resort in California; Disney Resort & Spa in Hawaii; Disney Vacation Club, Disney Cruise Line, and Adventures by Disney; and Disneyland Paris, Hong Kong Disneyland Resort, and Shanghai Disney Resort, as well as licenses its intellectual property to a third party for the operations of the Tokyo Disney Resort in Japan. Further, it produces and acquires live-action and animated motion pictures, direct-to-video content, musical recordings, and live stage plays; licenses trade names, characters, and visual and literary properties to retailers and publishers; publishes entertainment and educational books, magazines, and comic books; and operates English language learning centers in China. Additionally, the company is involved in the sale of merchandise through its retail stores, Internet shopping sites, and wholesale business. In addition, it creates and distributes entertainment and lifestyle content for interactive media platforms. Company description from FinViz.com
We have played Disney before with mixed results. The cord cutting at ESPN has been a problem for the last year. However, Disney is now bullish on ESPN again thanks to all the skinny bundles being sold by various cable and set top box providers.
Disney has a strong menu of movies in the pipeline. Moana was released last week and received great reviews. The tickets have already gone on sale for the Star Wars movie "Rogue One" that starts in mid December.
Nov 23rd, 2016 - "Moana"
Dec. 16, 2016 - "Star Wars Anthology: Rogue One"
Mar 17th, 2017 - "Beauty and the Beast"
April 14th, 2017 - "Ghost in the Shell"
May 4th, 2017 - "Guardians of the Galaxy II"
May 26, 2017 - "Star Wars: The Last Jedi"
June 16, 2017 - "Toy Story 4"
Mid 2017 - "The Incredibles 2"
July 17th, 2017 - "Pirates of the Caribbean"
Late 2017 - "Thor: Ragnarok"
Early 2018 - "Frozen 2"
May 4, 2018 - "Avengers: Infinity War - Part I"
2018 - "Untitled Star Wars Anthology Project"
May 3, 2019 - "Avengers: Infinity War - Part II"
2019 - "Star Wars: Episode IX"
Shanghai Disney has already had more than 4 million visitors in less than a year.
Earnings February 9th.
Things are going great for the entertainment company and the ESPN woes are being forgotten. Shares of Disney appear to be on the verge of a breakout over $99 and given the long advance ticket sales on Rogue One, the stock could see multiple weeks of gains in December.
Update 12/18/16: Shares spiked to a new 7-month high after Rogue One brought in $155 million over the weekend. The film is now expected to gross over $1 billion. This expands the Star Wars franchise into an entirely new spectrum similar to the Marvel movies. Disney can now produce a "Star Wars" movie every year with multiple story lines making their own direction. They have essentially doubled their Star Wars revenue stream. Bank of America named them to their U.S. 1 list on Monday of their best investment picks.
Update 1/23/17: Disney announced that the next Star Wars movie due out in December will be called "The Last Jedi." The movie finished shooting in 2016 and Carrie Fisher had completed all her scenes before her death. The rest of the Force Awakens cast will return as well. The Force Awakens has not earned more than $2 billion at the box office to make it the third highest grossing movie of all time. The recent spinoff "Rogue One" has earned more than $1 billion.
Closed 2/6/17: Long February $100 call @ $2.40, exit $9.80, +$7.40 gain.
HAIN - Hain Celestial Group - Company Profile
No specific news. Still no earnings date. Zacks was claiming they would report after the close on Monday and it did not happen. Shares dropped $1 probably on fears of that expected report. We were stopped out at $38.45. We were well positioned for the last three months. If they had reported earnings, I think it would have been a big winner.
Original Trade Description: September 5th.
The Hain Celestial Group, Inc. manufactures, markets, distributes, and sells organic and natural products in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Europe. It offers grocery products include everything from infant formula to instant soups. They offer yogurt, snack chips, pastas, organic products of all types, specialty teas, baby care, personal care items and hundreds of other products. The company sells its products through specialty and natural food distributors, supermarkets, natural food stores, mass-market and e-commerce retailers, food service channels and club, and drug and convenience stores in approximately 70 countries worldwide. Company description from FinViz.com
When Hain was scheduled to report Q2 results on August 15th, they warned they would miss prior full year guidance and they were going to postpone their actual Q2 earnings because of an accounting issue. The issue was the timing of revenue recognition. Normally they book sales as revenue when the products are actually shipped to the distributor. However, in the past quarter, they had made some concessions to some U.S. distributors that made them question if they should have recognized the income when the product was shipped or when it was actually sold.
They did not describe the concessions but from the comments above it sounds like they may have given them longer terms on payment or possibly offered distributors a discount if they would order more products. A concession could be similar to "If you take 25% more product we can lower the price 10% and give you an extra six months to pay." Instead of booking that sale when it is shipped they may have to wait until it is actually paid because distributors can, in some circumstances, send product back that they previously ordered. Hain could have done a consignment deal. "We will ship you X tons of stuff and you pay us when you sell it."
The key to all those scenarios is who owns the product while it is sitting in the distributor warehouse. If Hain still owns it because of a special deal with terms, then they cannot recognize the revenue until it is sold.
The timing of the revenue recognition does not alter the amount of the revenue, only the quarter when it is recognized. Hain said they did not expect any restatement to be material but the stock was crushed.
The company reported there was an independent review being conducted by the board's audit committee. The new earnings date was moved from August 15th to September 15th.
Whenever the term "accounting issue" is mentioned, everyone runs for the sidelines. Investors do not know if somebody just misplaced a decimal point somewhere or suddenly the company is going to admit it is another Enron.
I believe the sell off was way overdone. Look at the chart for the last seven months. The stock was up 65% and there was a lot of profit at risk. Investors were in such a state of shock the ran for the exits.
Hain has strong support at $35 and shares have fallen from $56 to $36. There is little risk unless disaster really strikes. I am recommending we buy a February call to give the shares time to recover and a September put, just in case there is more bad news. The September put expires the day after earnings so we will need to close it expiration Friday morning. If they have more bad news the stock will gap lower and the put will inflate. I doubt we will need it.
Update 11/22/16: We are one step closer to a big move in HAIN. The company said they had completed their review of accounting practices for the period in question and found no wrongdoing. The audit committee recommended some measures for future accounting to handle the issues in question. The company said it was moving forward to bring its reporting up to date and there would be a further announcement regarding the timing of the quarterly earnings report.
Closed 2/6/17: Long Feb $38 call @ $3.90, exit $1.46, -2.44 loss.
Closed 9/16/16: Long Sept $35 put @ $.60, expired, -.60 loss.
HD - Home Depot - Company Profile
No specific news. Shares failed at the new high resistance at $139 and rolled over to stop us out at $136.75 for a minor gain.
Original Trade Description: October 3rd.
The Home Depot, Inc. operates as a home improvement retailer. It operates The Home Depot stores that sell various building materials, home improvement products, and lawn and garden products, as well as provide installation, home maintenance, and professional service programs to do-it-yourself (DIY), do-it-for-me (DIFM), and professional customers. The company offers installation programs that include flooring, cabinets, countertops, water heaters, and sheds; and professional installation in various categories sold through its in-home sales programs, such as roofing, siding, windows, cabinet refacing, furnaces, and central air systems, as well as acts as a contractor to provide installation services to its DIFM customers through third-party installers. It primarily serves homeowners; and renovators/remodelers, general contractors, repairmen, installers, small business owners, and tradesmen. The company also sells its products through online. As of December 31, 2015, it had 2,274 stores. Company description from FinViz.com
Home Depot is insulated from the Amazon competition. You cannot buy 2x4 boards, carpet or a 5 gallon bucket of stain on Amazon. With the housing recovery in full swing Home Depot has been fueling a massive remodeling binge. Customers trying to spruce up their homes so they can sell, go to Home Depot for the supplies. Customers that have just bought a home shop at Home Depot for items to remodel to fit their tastes. Customers just remodeling their own home to bring it up to date shop there as well. Home Depot now has online ordering with shipping to you on the smaller items or in store pickup for larger items. About 42% of online orders are now picked up in local stores. That also provides an opportunity to sell the customer something else as he wanders around the store. I am living proof that you cannot go into a Home Depot without buying something.
Same store sales have risen 4% or more in 15 of the last 16 quarters. In an interview with the CFO she said property managers were 3% of their customers but 40% of sales. That is an amazing statistic because once those professional managers are locked into a supplier like Home Depot they rarely change. The only other comparable big box is Lowes and they are always more expensive.
The CFO said the addressable market for their products in the U.S. is $550 billon and Home Depot only has 20% of that market. There is plenty of opportunity for additional growth. More than 50% of U.S. homes are over 40 years old. The company is targeting $100 billion in annual revenue in 2018.
Home Depot has bought back $2.6 billion in stock in 2016 with $2.4 billion to go. Their capital spending plans called for $5 billion for stock purchases. The company will also pay $3.4 billion in dividends. They have not added a new store in the U.S. in more than three years. They are using the expansion money to remodel one-third of each store every year. These "resets" are critical to keeping the stores fresh and implementing new marketing strategies.
Earnings Feb 21st.
Update 11/22/16: The company reported earnings of $1.60 compared to estimates for $1.58. Revenue of $23.15 billion bet estimates for $23.05 billion. Same store sales were +5.5% overall and +5.9% in the USA. HD guided for the full year for revenue growth of 6.3% and same store sales of 4.9% with earnings rising 15.9% to $6.33. Consensus estimates were $6.33 and $94.16 billion. The company had $3.59 billion in cash at the end of the quarter.
Shares declined after the news because investors expected stronger guidance because of Hurricane Matthew reconstruction. After two days of declines, the stock rebounded to nearly erase the loss.
Closed 2/1/17: Long Feb $135 call @ $2.15, exit $2.91, +.76 gain.
IWM - Russell 2000 ETF (LONG PUT) - ETF Profile
The Russell was the weakest index again today but there are no signs of a larger decline. I raised the exit stop to $134 but it would be a miracle at this point if we hit it. If you want to exit the position and capture the 84 cents in premium, Tuesday would be the day to do it.
Original Trade Description: December 12th
The IWM ETF seeks to track the investment results of the Russell 2000 Small cap Index.
The Russell is up +232 points or 20.1% in the last 22 trading days. It is grossly over extended and many small cap Russell stocks are up 30% to 40%. I understand the bullish sentiment that believes the economy will be better in 2017 but it will not be because of President Trump. His proposals will take months to get through the House and Senate and there is likely to be some major battles. Obamacare will not go away until 2018 or longer because it takes a long time to plan and execute a change that big. Lower taxes will not happen until 2018 because it will take months for both houses to vote on an acceptable tax bill. I seriously doubt they will change rates in the middle of the year. Any change will not occur until 2018.
I could go on but you get the picture. Typically, there is a honeymoon phase after a new president is elected. This phase has run its course. There are 13 trading days left in 2016 and any new highs are likely to be made before Christmas. After Christmas, investors may begin to worry and once into January and a new tax year, the selling could be dramatic. Do you remember January 2016? The market was not nearly as overextended as it is today and the Dow fell -2,180 points in just two weeks. Entering into a new tax year allows traders to capture profits and invest that money for another year before paying taxes.
Dow - January 2016
We also have the potential for an ugly inauguration or even a terrorist attack at the event. That potential will give cautious investors another reason to take profits in January.
I am recommending a long put on the Russell ETF.
There is also another trigger factor to consider. The Dow is approaching 20,000 and that could be a massive sell the news event given the big gains. Since the Dow could hit that level this week I am recommending we initiate our long put position in advance.
I have a similar put position in the Premier Investor Newsletter because every subscriber needs to be hedged against a potential market event over the next five weeks.
Initial support is in the $130 range.
Long Feb $134 put @ $3.37, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.
IWM - Russell 2000 ETF (LONG CALL)- ETF Profile
The Russell was the weakest index again today but there are no signs of a larger decline. There is still a chance we will see a major decline over the next couple of months so I am leaving this recommendation open.
Original Trade Description: Jan 3rd
The Russell ETF mimics the movements of the Russell 2000 Index with a 1:10 ratio.
The Russell 2000 has failed to break support but it was the strongest gainer in the post election rally. At one point, the Russell was up 20.1%. That suggests in a market decline it could also be the fastest decliner.
Analysts are in agreement that the markets will finish 2017 significantly higher with estimates as high as 25,000 for the Dow and 2,500 for the S&P. If the regulations currently stifling small business are removed and the tax rates changed to 15% as Trump has promised, this sector will show a major boom in earnings and could be the largest gainer in 2017.
I considered buying calls on the SPY, DIA, QQQ and IWM. I decided to use the IWM for the reasons stated above.
I am going to use a dip trigger on this position to enter the play. We already have a put position on the ISM and we will exit it at the same time this position is triggered. I am putting the trigger at $126 but there is no guarantee we will reach that level. The IWM traded at $115 just before the election.
I am using the August calls because they were only $1 more than the June strikes and we get two extra months. I do not expect to hold the position that long since the summer months are normally weak for the market. We can sell them in June with a lot of time premium left.
With an IWM trade at $131.50
Buy August $135 call, estimated premium $5, no initial stop loss.
SRG - Seritage Growth Properties - ETF Profile
No specific news but shares rebounded again back to almost $44 to kill the position for the second time. This was a short-term play and it is time to exit. Close the position.
Original Trade Description: January 9th.
Seritage Growth Properties (Seritage) is a self-administered and self-managed real estate investment trust (REIT). The Company is engaged in the acquisition, ownership, development, redevelopment, and management and leasing of diversified retail real estate across the United States. The Company's assets are held by and its operations are primarily conducted through directly or indirectly, by Seritage Growth Properties, L.P. Its portfolio include approximately 42.4 million square feet of gross leasable area (GLA), which consists of approximately 230 owned properties totaling over 37.0 million square feet of GLA across approximately 49 states and Puerto Rico and interests in approximately 30 joint venture properties totaling over 5.4 million square feet of GLA across approximately 17 states. Its portfolio includes over 3,000 acres of land, or approximately 10 acres per site for its owned properties. Company description from finance.google.com
Seritage was spun off from Sears Holdings in July 2015 and given 230 Sears properties in the spinoff. This was a gambit to raise money for Sears and capitalize on their unleveraged real estate. Unfortunately, Sears is terminating leases on those stores at a rapid pace. They terminated a couple dozen in January 2016 and Seritage filed a notice with the SEC last week that Sears had given notice of termination on another 19 leases. These are major holdings as the company description explains above. However, if Sears terminates a lease it is because the store is unprofitable and more than likely is located in a dying mall. Finding a new retailer to take over a monster Sears location in a dying mall is a major problem.
Seritage has been successful in several locations but Sears is terminating leases faster than Seritage can remodel and remarket the empty buildings. With Sears likely to file bankruptcy in the near future, Seritage could get the majority of its existing portfolio vacated at one time.
Sears is obligated to pay a year's rent as a termination penalty but in a bankruptcy filing those penalties would be voided. That means Seritage would not have the benefit of Sears essentially paying for the remodel and remarketing.
Seritage shares are sinking fast because the investing public has caught on to the harsh reality that Seritage could be in trouble.
Earnings are Mar-9th (revised) and they could contain some unpleasant details.
I am using the February options and plan to hold over the event in case there is a disappointment. At $1.45 for the option, we have little risk.
Update 1/23/17: Seritage put out a leasing update on January 17th to counteract the negative information about Sears terminating some more leases. However, the update did not mention that Sears had terminated 19 additional leases the prior week. The report was full of numbers saying "since the company's inception we have leased 2.2 million sqft" or "We increased rental income by $41 million since the company's formation." That is all great but they have a ton of vacancies and it is not what they did since the company was formed but what are they doing now. It was clearly a press release to counter the stock slide, which it did. Shorts were forced to cover and the stock spiked 10% to $44. I applaud them for a gambit well played. The stock was at an 11-month low the day before their press release. It killed our put position temporarily but nothing really changed at the company.
Long February $40 put @ $1.60, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.
TWLO - Twilio Inc - Company Profile
No specific news. Shares are slowly rebounding but I am recommending we take our profits off the table rather than hold over earnings on Tuesday after the bell. The plan was to hold over but we have a 77% gain and I would rather not risk it. Of course this means TWLO will probably spike $5 higher after the report.
Close the position.
Original Trade Description: January 23rd.
Twilio Inc. provides cloud communications platform that enables developers to build, scale, and operate communications within software applications through the cloud as a pay-as-you-go service in the United States and internationally. It offers programmable communications cloud software that enables developers to embed voice, messaging, video, and authentication capabilities into their applications through application programming interfaces. The company also provides use case products, such as a two-factor authentication solution. Company description from FinViz.com
Twilio is a cloud communications platform. That does not tell us very much but some if its biggest customers are Uber, AirBnB, WhatsApp and Messenger. Twilio has an application that matches phone numbers and internet addresses to usernames. When you send an instant message to somebody on Facebook, the Twilio app links your Facebook account to your mobile phone number and does the same thing on the other side of the conversation to your contact.
Twilio is a communications platform for new applications that do not want to reinvent the wheel and have to not only program all those linkages but build the databases necessary to connect with everyone.
Twilio had 88% revenue growth in 2015 and is expected to post 62% for all of 2016. Obviously as each year progresses and the revenue numbers soar it is harder to continue the growth when you first started and had almost no revenue. Still, 62% is outstanding.
Given its integration into numerous major applications in addition to the ones I listed above, they are a prime acquisition target. Amazon increased its stake in Twilio in December. Facebook recently increased integration of Twilio services in Messenger so it is not going to compete with the service but could decide to acquire it. With a market cap of $2 billion, pocket change to the big boys, and a dominant place in the existing technology, they are an excellent acquisition candidate.
Shares retreated from the post IPO highs of $70 to trade at $26 three weeks ago. Shares are testing resistance at $29 ahead of earnings on Feb 7th. A William Blair analyst expects the company to beat on both earnings and revenue. The analyst said "Twilio dominates the developer community, often benefitting from a first mover advantage while providing the best quality and performance in the market, particularly for its voice product of dual channel call recording capabilities."
We are in the Q4 earnings cycle so anything we add this week is going to be challenged by an earnings report over the next several weeks. On Twilio, the options are cheap and we can afford to hold over the February 7th report and we could be well rewarded.
Long Feb $29 call @ $1.09. See portfolio graphic for stop loss.
Prices Quoted in Newsletter
At Option Investor, we have a long-standing policy prohibiting the editors and staff from actually trading the individual recommendations in order to conform to SEC rules concerning trades.
The prices quoted in the newsletter are the end of day prices in most cases.
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