Option Investor

Daily Newsletter, Monday, 3/25/2013

Table of Contents

  1. Market Wrap
  2. New Option Plays
  3. In Play Updates and Reviews

Market Wrap

Did He Really Say That?

by Linda Piazza

Click here to email Linda Piazza
Market Internals


Today, markets first rallied on news that the Cyprus government and the troika had resolved the immediate crisis in Europe. Soon, statements attributed to an eurogroup official reinforced fears that similar bailout deals could be forced on other in-trouble Eurozone countries. Markets dropped. Then a spokeswoman for that official denied he'd ever said that, and markets improved, although closing well off their intraday highs.

The SPX dropped 0.33 percent; the Dow, 0.44 percent; and the NDX, 0.41 percent. The RUT fell only 0.04 percent, and the SOX,0.21 percent. The Dow Jones Transports fell a more significant 0.72 percent. Financials as represented by the KBW Bank Index lost 0.32 percent. Crude settled higher by more than one percent, although that was off the intraday high established early in the day. Gold futures for June delivery settled 0.01 percent lower at 1606.50, off the intraday low of $1,590.40. Volume was double the typical volume. Silver futures for May delivery rose 0.4 percent. Platinum futures for May delivery rose 0.1 percent, also on double the average volume. Crude futures for May delivery rose 1 percent on higher-than-normal volume, although they closed well below the day's high of $95.65. pulled back as the dollar gained. The dollar gained, but its gain churned it within a recent bull-flag-appearing formation.

Monday's Developments

Last evening, a planned Eurogroup, ECB and IMF meeting in Brussels to finalize a plan for Cyprus had still not begun as Sunday's clock ticked into the last hour of the day. The IMF insisted on a merger of the Bank of Cyprus and the Cyprus Popular Bank, a proposal that Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades said would force his resignation if passed.

Only a short time later, the troika and the Cypriot government announced a plan that bypassed the need for approval from the Cypriot parliament. The central thesis of last week's agreement, the levy on bank accounts, was ditched. However, that won't help depositors with more than 100,000 euros on deposit.

Banks will be segregated into "good" banks and "bad" banks, including the two largest banks. The Bank of Cyprus will be established as a "good" bank. The Popular Bank of Cyprus, also known as Laiki Bank, will not be designated as such. Deposits under 100,000 at the Laiki Bank will be transferred to the good Bank of Cyprus. Deposits above that amount will be frozen and hefty portions will be employed in meeting the 5.8 billion euro obligation Cyprus must contribute toward its own rescue. Laiki Bank, the second-largest in Cyprus, will wind down, with thousands of employees losing their jobs.

It's a terrible deal for Cyprus in many ways. However, Cyprus was battling that ticking clock, with the ECB vowing to stop emergency funds to Cypriot banks, causing their collapse. Little sympathy was evinced among the Eurogroup participants. When the participants were accused of forcing a solution that harmed a whole nation's people, France's Finance Minister flung the accusation that Cyprus is a "casino economy." The word "was" is probably a better verb form, as the actions taken in this bailout deal have likely killed the Cyprus economic model that was a major portion of the country's economy. The action has certainly incurred the wrath of Russia's government and wealthy Russian depositors, whose estimated $20 billion euros in funds on deposit in Cyprus will be raided. Most commentators agree that money is gone or at least gone for years.

Global bourses initially reacted with relief that any kind of deal was reached. Asian bourses climbed with one perhaps notable exception. The Nikkei 225 rose 1.69 percent; the Hang Seng, 0.61 percent, and the Straits Time, 0.27 percent. China's Shanghai Composite was flat, however, dropping 0.07 percent.

European bourses initially bounced, too, although the new deal quickly came under criticism. When the under-100,000 euro accounts are transferred to the Bank of Cyprus, something else happens: the Bank of Cyprus also receives the bad bank's 9 billion euro debt. Depositors with more than 100,000 euros at the Bank of Cyprus will be paying for that debt, with no bailout funds being used. Commentators believe that up to 40 percent of those uninsured funds at the Bank of Cyprus will also be gone.

Some pundits still believe that the Bank of Cyprus will require more of a cash infusion and a restructuring. Bond holders at both banks will be punished, with Laiki bondholders receiving nothing and the Bank of Cyprus bondholders suffering heavy losses. Economists expect credit crunches, higher interest rates and the probable need for further bailouts in a country still at risk of economic collapse. A disorderly exit from the euro remains a possibility, even if that event has been postponed.

The benefit of this deal, if there was any, was that it preserved the promise that Eurozone deposits under 100,000 euros would be protected, a promise made earlier in the Eurozone crisis. In addition, the benefit to the countries pressing for this package was that it bypasses the need for approval from the Cypriot parliament.

It was unlikely that depositors of under 100,000 euros are going to have their trust reestablished by this deal, however. They recently saw a levy proposed against their accounts, too, and they see wealthier depositors' funds frozen and employed in resolving Cypriot debt. Although Europe initially celebrated, it was also unlikely that depositors in other troubled Eurozone countries such as Spain, Portugal, Italy would look on this solution with anything other than alarm. Italy's situation is further complicated by political uncertainty. Today, Italian Democratic Party leader Bersani characterized his country as dealing with a crisis that was difficult to resolve, with Former PM Silvio Berlusconi still pushing to be included in a new Italian government.

Those fears among troubled countries were heightened when the eurogroup's head, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, was reported earlier today as confirming that the rescue package put together for Cyprus might be the template for future rescue packages for other countries. Later in the day, Dijsselbloem's spokesperson denied he had called the bailout a template for future rescue plans. Dijsselbloem issued an official statement that referred to Cyprus as a "specific case with exceptional challenges." The damage had been done, however, and was likely done the first time anyone proposed that all bank accounts be levied.

What did the eurogroup's head actually say? According to The Tell, he said, "The consequences [of taking on too much risk] may be that it's the end of story, and that is an approach that I think, now that we are out of the heat of the crisis, we should take." The approach in question is asking the shareholders and bondholders and, if needed, the uninsured deposit holders to recapitalize a bank that cannot recapitalize itself. That "approach" sounds just a bit like a template, and later, he uses the term "bail-in track" repeats the "approach" term.

With the exception of the Bank of Cyprus and Laiki Bank, Cypriot banks are scheduled to open tomorrow.

European bourses gained in early trading but then sank into negative territory. The FTSE 100 lost 0.22 percent; the DAX, 0.51 percent; and the CAC 40, 1.12 percent. Spain's IBEX 25 dropped a heftier 2.27 percent, and Italy's FTSE MIB, 2.50 percent. It's natural to expect that Spain and Italy would be hit harder by concerns about the structure of the bailout.

In the U.S., a couple of Fed numbers and two Fed speakers filled out the economic calendar. At 8:30 am EST, the February Chicago Fed National Activity Index (CFNAI) release jumped to 0.44 from a prior revised -0.49. The CNFAI compiles a weighted index from 85 existing monthly indicators.

Production-related indicators led the number into positive territory, the Chicago Fed concluded, but all four broad categories of indicators within the number increased from January's readings. Production-related indicators added 0.34 to that reading. Employment-related indicators added 0.20. Sales, orders and inventories added 0.05. The consumption and housing category remained negative, at -0.16, but it rose from January's more negative -0.19.

The reading indicated that national economic activity's growth was "somewhat above its historical trend," the Chicago Fed concluded. The three-month moving average fell to 0.09 from the prior 0.28, however.

At 10:30 AM EST, the Dallas Fed Manufacturing Survey blew expectations out of the water. In February, the Dallas Fed had reported the number as 2.2, with expectations that the March report would rise to 3.4. Instead, it rose to 7.4, with the production component rising to 9.9 from a prior 6.2. Order and shipments jumped back into positive territory. New orders rose to 8.7 from 2.8, and shipments rose to 10.6 from a prior 2.6. The Dallas Fed labeled labor market indicators "mixed." Components measuring costs such as the raw materials price index, the finished goods price index and wages and benefit index all increased, pointing to upward pressure on prices and wages.

In other news, another tax-haven country may have its tax-haven status threatened. The U.S. Justice Department has requested that Liechtenstein authorities provide the department with the number of foundations set up by financial advisers, asset managers, accountants or lawyers for the benefit of American taxpayers. Liechtenstein is a German-speaking principality bordered by Switzerland and Austria, known as a tax haven and boasting the highest GDP/person in the world.

Firms already being investigated include Credit Suisse Group AG (CSGN) and Julius Baer Group Ltd. (BAER). Some experts believe that the information gathered could be employed in investigating more Swiss banks. Some of those banks, such as UBS AG, have already resolved such issues by paying fines and/or providing information to the IRS. Liechtenstein has already amended a tax law so that it can provide this data on American clients.

In other news, President Obama's spokesperson said today that the president was likely to sign the funding measures over the next few days.

Other events today included the Federal Reserve Bank of New York President William Dudley's speech at the Economic Club in New York at 12:15 pm EST and FOMC President Ben Bernanke's participation in a panel discussion at London's School of Economics at 1:15 pm EST. The Bank of England's Governor Mervyn King also participated on that panel.

William Dudley's message was that the Fed must maintain an accommodative monetary policy. He is a voting member of the FOMC. He believes that interest rates would rise before asset sales would occur. He also tagged the next 3-6 months as those presenting the most risk of a slowdown in economic activity.

When the panel participants compared the Federal Reserve's bond-buying program to a "beggar thy neighbor" policy from the 1930's, FOMC President Ben Bernanke denied that the bond-buying program was meant to devalue the dollar against other currencies. He pointed to accommodative policy in most G-7 countries. He said that a disordered abandonment of the gold standard, after that gold standard had been found to contribute to runs such as bank runs, as leading to that "beggar thy neighbor" policy from the past. He used, as an example, the U.K.'s abandonment of the gold standard, forced by a speculative run. He noted that in 2008, we saw runs on institutions such as structured investment vehicles rather than runs on banks, complicating the diagnosis of what he views as "a classic financial panic." Another unique feature of the crisis, he said, was the extent of international cooperation to resolve it.

Story stocks include Dell (DELL, 14.51, up 0.37 or 2.62 percent), reported to be considering two new buyout offers. At first examination, the board considers the $14.23/share offers from Blackstone Group and $15.00/share proposal of Carl Icahn to be superior to the $13.67/share offer made by Silver Lake Partners and Michael Dell. However, the board must consider conditions other than the per/share offer, including the requirement under both the Blackstone and Icahn offers that some shares remain publicly traded. As of the close today, all potential clients were remaining mum on the negotiations.

Facebook (FB, 25.13, down 0.60 or 2.33 percent) made the list of story stocks, too, if somewhat obliquely. The SEC approved the rule changes Nasdaq's OMX Group needed in order to expand its compensation pool for member firms above its previous $3 million cap. This action paves the way for the group to pay $62 million in compensation for brokers that suffered due to the group's bungling of the FB IPO.

That might sound like good news for Wall Street firms that suffered losses. However, those firms say they suffered losses much higher than $62 million, rendering the agreement reached with the SEC a disappointment. In particular, Citigroup (C, 44.49, down 0.74 or 1.64 percent) and UBS AG had lobbied the SEC to reject the offer. The SEC essentially told them "something is better than nothing."

In reaching this decision, however, the SEC did not address the question of whether Nasdaq OMX Group should receive regulatory immunity. The settlement will require members to release it from legal liability before receiving compensation. Today's action may not have prevented further litigation.

Raytheon (RTN, 56.76, down 0.28 or 0.49 percent) announced a reorganization that would consolidate businesses and trim about 200 jobs. The reorganization required a new structuring of key executive role, too, and those were also announced. The company said the changes are not expected to impact the guidance for 2013.

Dollar General (DG, 51.08, up 1.01 or 2.02 percent) reported earnings, beating EPS expectations by five cents. Revenues of $4.21 billion were shy of the expected $4.26 billion, however. Increases in sales of consumables and increased customer traffic and average transaction amounts drove same-store sales higher by 3.0 percent. With the company rolling out tobacco sales to almost all stores this year, the company predicts stronger sales and EPS growth in the second half of the year. FY14 guidance was in line with expectations, however. The company also announced a stock buyback program. The company noted continuing pressures on the consumer and DG's costs, resulting from volatility in the macro-environment.

Apollo Group's (APOL, 18.25, up 1.21 or 7.10 percent) earnings report was a bad news/good news kind of thing. The bad news was that earnings of $0.12/share were well below the year-ago earnings of $0.51/share and also below expectations of $0.19/share. Lower enrollment and higher marketing costs led to the lower EPS. The company guided expectations for fiscal 2013 to $3.65-3.75 billion. That appears to be a lowering of expectations, since the average is below the prior expectation of $3.73 billion. The good news was that the $838.4 million revenue, although also below the year-ago level, was well above the $824.9 million expectation. However, perhaps in a sell-the-rumor, buy-the-fact reaction, APOL shares popped along with other equities this morning. Although APOL pulled back off its early morning high when other equities did, it remained in positive territory.

United Therapeutics Corporation's (UTHR, 59.62, down 1.33 or 2.18 percent) hypertension pill, treprostinil diolamine, has been rejected by the FDA. The company has requested a meeting with the FDA and says it remains confident that this medication will one day be a valuable treatment for pulmonary arterial hypertension.

After hours, Nike (NKE, 59.56, up 0.03 or 0.05 percent) reported earnings and was moving higher as this report was prepared. After excluding costs of divesting the Cole Hahn and Umbro brands, NKE earned $0.73/share against expectations of $0.67/share. Sales were slightly shy of expectations, at $6.19 billion rather than the expected $6.2 billion. Orders for delivery from March-July rose 6 percent, meeting expectations.

Micron (MU, 9.88, down 0.16 or 1.59 percent) reported revenue of $2.08 billion, more than the anticipated $1.92 billion. The company reported a loss of $0.28/share, more than the expected $0.20/share. The stock was reported as moving higher in after-hours trading, but no quotes were available from my usual sources.

Tech Data Corp. (TECD, 45.24, 0.76 or 1.65 percent) was being hit in after-hours trading. It was last at 45.30 as this report was prepared. The company announced that improprieties in the preparations of earnings results from its U.K. subsidiary would require the company to restate up to three years' worth of results. The improprieties concerned the way the subsidiary dealt with vendor accounting.

In late-breaking news, Reuters announced that Hulu's board was reaching out to several prospective buyers. The information was from an anonymous source. Owners News Corp. and Walt Disney are allegedly also considering buying each other out.


Those new to my Monday Wraps might find the following paragraphs useful when interpreting my charts. Those who have read the Wraps can skip straight to the charts. I set up nested Keltner channels on my charts. It's a run-of-the-mill channeling system like the more familiar Bollinger Bands. As with those more familiar BB's, channel boundaries are often targets for upside or downside moves. They also mark levels where prices might find support or resistance on closes. When several channel lines converge, that potential resistance or support might appear stronger, just as it would if 20-, 50- and 100-sma's all converge in one spot.

For the benefit of subscribers, I mark potential upside and downside target/support/resistance levels with ovals, usually green for upside and red for downside. Orange ovals are sometimes used when the darker-colored ones would not allow for a clear examination of the next target. From now on, I will mention the nearest potential support or resistance level in the discussion on the chart, but not the further-out ones. They can be located on the charts if price breaks through the nearest levels on consistent daily closes. If an interpretation such as "support levels appear stronger than resistance, so up looks more likely than down" is possible, I'll tell you. Often we traders must be able to defend our trade against a move in either direction.

As with any type of potential support or resistance, those with profits should be protective of those profits as support or resistance is tested. If prices find support and climb, look to the next higher oval, even one just broken through, as potential resistance. Do the reverse when resistance is breached. Hopefully, this format provides you with the information you need without requiring all night to read as happens when I list each potential support or resistance level individually.

Annotated Daily Chart of the SPX:

Since hitting its 3/15 high, the SPX had been pulling back in a bull-flag type formation. That formation hit the lower support of the grey channel last week and pulled up sharply off that potential support that same day, just as bulls would hope it would do. Friday's close was back above the red 9-ema, another bullish condition checked off the list. If the rally pattern was to continue, it was time today for a bigger gain that broke the SPX up above the bull flag's resistance, producing another close above the red 9-ema. The 1565.15 previous closing high still beckoned.

The SPX could not reinstitute its rally pattern today. After reaching up within a few cents of that prior closing high, it dropped back through almost all of Friday's range before pulling up off that low of the day and closing with a relatively small-bodied candle.

The close was at the red 9-ema. Consistent closes beneath the flattened red 9-ema would suggest a potential downside target at the grey-channel support. That support now converges with historical support at the late February swing highs near 1531. If that support is tested and fails on daily closes, the next downside target is marked on the chart, with potential support on daily closes residing there.

If the SPX bounces and maintains values above about 1560 on daily closes, the next upside target might be more likely. That target is marked by the highest yellow-orange rectangle. If the Dow breaks out to higher levels, I would follow price action higher with my stops on short-term long trades.

For now, the SPX coils rather than reinstituting its strongest rally pattern. It chops back and forth across the 9-ema, and that average has flattened. We must remember the example of the NDX. When an uptrend stalls, daily candles can chop back and forth across a flattening 9-ema, with closes above or below that moving average not being predictive of the next move. We could see something like that happen as the SPX coils.

The coil tightens, but it is impossible from this chart evidence alone to predict the direction or timing of the next breakout. Bulls will point out that coiling behavior at the top of a climb is often followed by an upside breakout. Bears will point out that the cumulative behavior over the last week has failed to replicate the strongest rally behavior, questioning any continuation of rally behavior before a deeper pullback.

Annotated Daily Chart of the Dow:

Like the SPX, the $DJI had pulled back last week in what appeared to be a bull-flag formation. It did not pull back all the way to test the grey channel support but instead managed closes at or above the red 9-ema. As today's trading opened, it was time for the Dow to break above the bull flag and resume its rally pattern.

The Dow did jump higher, creating yet another new intraday high, but it couldn't maintain that high any better than the SPX could maintain its early intraday high. Everything said about the SPX could be said about the Dow, with the exception that the Dow today closely approached the upper boundary of its grey channel and was slapped back from that close approach. Was that enough to consider today's test a failed test of higher levels?

Not quite. The Dow, like the SPX, coils. Another upper grey channel boundary test may be as possible as a test of the lower grey channel boundary. The coil has tightened and the break out could come at any time, although timing and direction prove difficult to anticipate. If the lower grey channel boundary is tested and its support fails on daily closes, the next lower potential target is marked. That target converges with historical support at February's congestion zone.

If the Dow breaks higher again and maintains closes above Friday's, I would still follow the Dow higher with my stops on short-term Dow positions since the pattern appears to be breaking apart a little on some indices.

Annotated Daily Chart of the NDX:

Last week's NDX daily candle bodies were larger than those in the preceding week, showing increasing volatility. We knew that was a possibility. Despite the increasing intraday volatility, the NDX essentially moved sideways last week. The increased volatility warned that a breakout one direction or the other might be near.

That breakout didn't occur today. Like the other indices, the NDX attempted an upside breakout this morning. Like them, it was knocked back off a five-month intraday high. Also like the other indices, its behavior was consistent with a coiling behavior. You know the deal with the NDX: a breakout up to test the yellow-orange rectangle's resistance or breakdown to test the nearest red rectangle's support appear equally likely from here. Daily candles chopping back and forth across a flattened 9-ema show us a trendless market, with no preference given for an upside breakout or a downside breakdown.

Other targets are marked on the charts in the event the NDX should break through the nearest ones on consistent daily closes.

Annotated Daily Chart of the RUT:

As of last week, the RUT had been pulling back off its 3/15 high. Its pullback looked like a triangular coiling more than it did a possible bull flag, but it's quibbling over minor differences to label one a triangle coiling and another, a bull-flag pullback. As this week opened, it was time for the RUT to break out to the upside if it was going to continue the typical strongest rally pattern. The RUT had already spent its limit of time testing the red 9-ema's support for the typical rally pattern. That action had flattened that moving average.

The RUT attempted an upside breakout this morning as did the other indices and was knocked back just as soundly. The late afternoon bounce helped produce a small-bodied candle at support. The timing or direction of a breakout remain clouded. Traders must prepare for either an upside breakout to test the potential resistance at the top of the RUT's smallest grey channel or a downside breakdown to test the potential support at the lower boundary of the grey channel. Downside support converges with historical support presumed to exist at the February swing high.

In case of a downside break and a failure of grey-channel and historical support to hold on daily closes, the next lower potential targets are marked in succession. If the RUT breaks to the upside and exceeds the grey channel's presumed resistance, watch the RUT's behavior with respect to the red 9-ema, as well as the red 9-ema's direction. Bulls would want to see consistent daily closes above a rising red 9-ema.

Annotated Daily Chart of the Dow Jones Transports:

The Transports underperformed many indices today.

Last week, the $DJT fell out of its bull-flag formation, price dropping all the way into a retest of the grey-channel support. As this week opened, it was time for the $DJT to scramble back above the red 9-ema and produce consistent daily closes back above that average or risk falling back into a retest of last week's lows.

The DJT's attempt at an upside breakout was no more successful than was that seen on the other charts. Nor was the $DJT able to close back above the red 9-ema, much less turn that average higher again. Moreover, if the other charts look as if price is coiling, the DJT's look as if the $DJT is verging on filling out a head-and-shoulder's formation. These types of formations don't prove as trustworthy as they once did, it seems lately, and the $DJT has been known to confirm such a formation by falling through the neckline only to turn around the next day and zoom higher. Potential downside targets and support on daily closes are marked on the chart in case of a downside breakdown. If the $DJT can break back above the red 9-ema on consistent daily closes, the next potential upside target is at the convergence of the upper boundary of the grey channel and the prior $DJT high at 6291.65.

Remember that we watch the $DJT for guidance into the underpinnings of the economy, rather than for trading. It is not optionable. It does, however, sometimes lead the way for the Dow and also the SPX and OEX, although I would not use it for market timing.

Tomorrow's Economic and Earnings Releases

This week's important economic events are carried forward from Jim Brown's weekend Wrap.

Traders should also note that the Bank of Japan's Governor Haruhiko Kuroda, noted for his intention to do whatever it takes to combat deflation, will be speaking about monetary policy to parliament tonight. That speech can roil currency markets, and that can, in turn, impact equities and commodities.

What about Tomorrow?

Annotated 30-Minute Chart of the SPX:

In most trading conditions, thirty-minute closes are contained within the purple channel's boundaries. That's normal, and that happened today. What's not quite so normal is that the price would move up from the middle of that channel all the way to the top, swoop almost down to the bottom, climb to the middle again and then fall back again and bounce yet again. Prices are churning more than is typical between those channel boundaries. No reliable pattern for the near term is discernible.

The close of the day left the next action in question, too. Price had found support just above the day's close and the grey channel's lower support, and bounced into the close. Is this a sign that the next move will be an upside one? I wouldn't go that far.

Unfortunately for those trying to gauge next direction, the setup suggests that any closes between the purple channel's boundaries, particularly while that channel is flattened, constitute noise and not a prediction of next movement. That doesn't render these charts useless. Instead, the setup tells its own story of what might be noise and what might not be noise. Potential support and resistance levels inside the purple channel are marked for the benefit of those who need some ideas about closest support and resistance early tomorrow, but whether they will prove reliable in this environment is questionable and they will certainly be dragged around by market action like that we saw today. Sustained thirty-minute closes outside the purple channel's boundaries set up the next marked potential targets.

Note that the red 9-ema is not marked as potential support or resistance on this or the charts that follow. In churning markets, the SPX and other indices tend to churn back and forth across that red 9-ema. This moving average can still be watched to see if a pattern of closes above it or below it is established and then watched to see if that pattern continues or breaks up again. Watching it in that manner gives some early insight into whether a rally or decline might be beginning and when that pattern dissolves again. For now, there's no pattern.

Annotated 30-Minute Chart of the Dow:

Everything said about the SPX holds true for the Dow Jones Industrials, too. The setup suggests that any movement producing closes between the purple channel lines is noise, not particularly predictive of next direction. Consistent closes outside that channel will set up the next potential targets, marked on the chart. Potential support and resistance levels inside the purple channel are also marked, but whether they're meaningful support or resistance on 30-minute closes is impossible to determine. They will also be moved around by price action tomorrow.

Annotated 30-Minute Chart of the NDX:

The NDX also churns between the purple channel's boundaries. Thirty-minute closes between those boundaries predict little about next direction. Potential support and resistance levels within that channel's boundaries are marked, but the supposed support or resistance may not be reliable in this environment. Consistent 30-minute closes outside that channel's boundaries set up the next potential targets.

Annotated 30-Minute Chart of the Russell 2000:

That price action is a mess, isn't it? Prices churn all over the place, but thirty-minute closes were contained by the purple channel's outer boundaries. Thirty-minute closes between the boundaries is noise, as they are for other indices. In the event of sustained 30-minute closes outside those boundaries, next potential targets are marked. Some potential support and resistance levels on thirty-minute closes are marked inside the channel, too, but consider those less reliable than they typically might be. Was any inner-channel support or resistance reliable today?

Both daily and 30-minute charts indicate coiling, churning action without a clear next direction or a clear idea about when the next direction might be established. Perhaps the precipitating force that will break these coils will be delivered by currency action, news from Europe or our economic releases. Perhaps that will happen tomorrow or perhaps markets will churn for days longer before a precipitating force is delivered. At this point, it's a wait-and-see market. We know that the indices are not quite delivering on their typical strong rally pattern, but that's all we know.

New Option Plays

Buying The Dip

by James Brown

Click here to email James Brown


Continental Resources – CLR – close: 86.98 change: +1.92

Stop Loss: 84.65
Target(s): 93.50
Current Option Gain/Loss: Unopened
Time Frame: 3 to 4 weeks
New Positions: Yes, see below

Company Description

Why We Like It:
CLR surged to new multi-month highs in mid-March. Since then the stock has been hit with profit taking as investors sell on worries about the founder's upcoming divorce from his wife. Harold Hamm, the CEO and Chairman of CLR, has nearly all of his $11.3 billion wealth tied up in shares of CLR. His soon to be ex-wife, Sue Ann, could get up to half of his fortune, about $5.3 billion, and a lot of that would be CLR stock. Mr. Hamm would no longer have a controlling stake in the company and nervous investors have been locking in profits.

We suspect the divorce issue will be a non-event. Shares of CLR are starting to bounce from their trend of higher lows, which just happens to be near support near $85.00 and its simple 50-dma. I would consider this a slightly more aggressive trade so readers may want to limit their position size. We're suggesting new bullish call positions now, at the opening bell tomorrow morning. We'll use a stop loss below Friday's low.

- Suggested Positions -

Buy the Apr $90 call (CLR1320D90) current ask $1.30

Annotated Chart:

Entry on March 26 at $---.--
Average Daily Volume = 1.2 million
Listed on March 25, 2012

In Play Updates and Reviews

Early Pop Fades

by James Brown

Click here to email James Brown

Editor's Note:

The Monday morning pop higher in stocks reversed sharply but traders were buying the dip again early afternoon.

INGR and JOY were both triggered today.

Current Portfolio:

CALL Play Updates

Axiall Corp. - AXLL - close: 61.61 change: -0.38

Stop Loss: 59.90
Target(s): 69.00
Current Option Gain/Loss: Apr62.5c: -45.3% & May65c: -34.4%
Time Frame: 3 to 6 weeks
New Positions: see below

03/25/13: AXLL continues to see profit taking with the stock down three days in a row. Shares have not broken below short-term technical support at the 10-dma. AXLL appears headed for what should be round-number support at the $60.00 mark. However, the stock was trying to bounce late this afternoon. If the market cooperates, I would expect AXLL to recover. I am not suggesting new positions at this time.

- Suggested Positions -

Long Apr $62.50 call (AXLL1320D62.5) entry $3.20

- or -

Long May $65 call (AXLL1318E65) entry $2.75*

03/20/13 trade opened at trigger $63.15.
*option entry price is an estimate since the option did not trade at the time our play was opened.

Entry on March 20 at $63.15
Average Daily Volume = 1.3 million
Listed on March 19, 2012

Crane Co. - CR - close: 55.61 change: -0.75

Stop Loss: 54.40
Target(s): 58.50
Current Option Gain/Loss: -4.0%
Time Frame: 6 to 9 weeks
New Positions: see below

03/25/13: CR opened higher and then plunged until about 1:00 p.m. when the stock traded near the $55.00 level. CR managed to trim its losses but still posted a -1.3% decline. Today's loss is also a bearish breakdown below short-term support at the 10-dma. I am not suggesting new positions at this time.

Earlier Comments:
We do want to keep our position size small to limit our risk. If triggered our multi-week target is $58.50. More aggressive traders could certainly aim higher but CR doesn't move super fast.

- Suggested Positions - *Small Positions*

Long JUN $55 call (CR1322F55) entry $2.50

03/23/13 new stop loss @ 54.40
03/20/13 new stop loss @ 53.90
03/11/13 triggered at $55.25, plus we corrected the typo regarding the April versus June option. We are suggesting the June $55 call.

Entry on March 11 at $55.25
Average Daily Volume = 314 thousand
Listed on March 09, 2012

CommVault Sys. - CVLT - close: 81.26 change: -0.80

Stop Loss: 79.45
Target(s): 89.00
Current Option Gain/Loss: Unopened
Time Frame: 3 to 4 weeks
New Positions: Yes, see below

03/25/13: The early pop in CVLT didn't last. The stock fell to round-number support near $80.00 before bouncing. More aggressive traders could buy calls on this bounce. We are still waiting for a move to our entry trigger at $83.25. If triggered our target is $89.00.

Trigger @ 83.25

- Suggested Positions -

buy the Apr $85 call (CVLT1320D85)

Entry on March -- at $---.--
Average Daily Volume = 627 thousand
Listed on March 20, 2012

Green Mtn Coffee Roasters - GMCR - close: 55.62 change: +0.19

Stop Loss: 53.45
Target(s): 59.75
Current Option Gain/Loss: -12.1%
Time Frame: 3 to 4 weeks
New Positions: see below

03/25/13: GMCR managed to post a small gain for Monday's session. Shares were trying to bounce near their 10-dma. On an intraday chart you can see that traders bought the dip twice near $54.70. Nimble traders might want to consider buying calls on a move past today’s high at $55.85.

Earlier Comments:
If this rally continues GMCR could see a short squeeze. The most recent data listed short interest at 37% of the 129 million-share float.

- Suggested Positions -

Long Apr 57.50 call (GMCR1320D57.5) entry $1.64

03/23/13 new stop loss @ 53.45

Entry on March 19 at $55.55
Average Daily Volume = 3.4 million
Listed on March 18, 2012

Genesee & Wyoming - GWR - close: 93.80 change: -0.34

Stop Loss: 89.90
Target(s): 98.50
Current Option Gain/Loss: -53.5%
Time Frame: 3 to 6 weeks
New Positions: see below

03/25/13: The transportation sector had a rough time on Monday, at least for the first half of the day. The early morning rally attempt quickly failed and the Dow Jones Transportation Average plunged until about 1:00 p.m. when it finally bounced and pared its losses. The move in GWR mirrors the action in the transportation average.

More conservative traders might want to consider an early exit. Today’s low in GWR was $90.76. I am raising our stop loss to $90.70.

Earlier Comments:
I would keep your position size small to limit our risk.

*Small Positions* - Suggested Positions -

Long Apr $95 call (GWR1320D95) Entry $1.40

03/25/13 new stop loss @ 90.70
03/19/13 new stop loss @ 89.90

Entry on March 11 at $92.35
Average Daily Volume = 407 thousand
Listed on March 09, 2012

Ingredion Inc. - INGR - close: 70.88 change: +0.41

Stop Loss: 68.45
Target(s): 74.75
Current Option Gain/Loss: -2.9%
Time Frame: 3 to 4 weeks
New Positions: , see below

03/25/13: Our new play in INGR has been opened. The stock displayed relative strength with a +0.5% gain and a bullish breakout to new highs. Our trigger to buy calls was hit at $70.65. I would still consider new positions now at current levels.

FYI: The Point & Figure chart for INGR is bullish with an $83 target. NOTE: INGR has a 38 cent dividend payable on April 25th to shareholders on record as of April 1st.

- Suggested Positions -

Long Apr $70 call (INGR1320D70) entry $1.70

Entry on March 25 at $70.65
Average Daily Volume = 585 thousand
Listed on March 23, 2012

Kansas City Southern - KSU - close: 106.71 change: -0.85

Stop Loss: 104.75
Target(s): 114.00
Current Option Gain/Loss: -28.0%
Time Frame: 3 to 5 weeks
New Positions: see below

03/25/13: KSU was also handicapped by the weakness in the rest of the transportation sector. Traders did buy the dip near short-term support at $106.00 but unfortunately KSU still looks weak. Today's low was $106.21. I am raising our stop loss up to $105.75. More aggressive traders could leave their stop below the $105 level. I am not suggesting new positions at this time.

Earlier Comments:
We want to keep our position size small to limit our risk since the transportation sector and KSU are arguably overbought at current levels.

- Suggested Positions -

Long Apr $110 call (KSU1320D110) entry $2.50

03/25/13 new stop loss @ 105.75
03/23/13 Our stop is at $104.75 but readers may want to use a stop around $105.75 instead.

Entry on March 14 at $107.50
Average Daily Volume = 984 thousand
Listed on March 13, 2012

McCormick & Co. - MKC - close: 71.79 change: -0.40

Stop Loss: 70.85
Target(s): 74.85
Current Option Gain/Loss: -3.7%
Time Frame: Prepare to exit PRIOR to earnings on April 2nd
New Positions: see below

03/25/13: MKC popped to a new all-time high this morning but gains faded. The stock suffered some profit taking with a relatively somber market today. We only have a few days left. I am not suggesting new positions at this time.

Earlier Comments:
I would keep our position size small to limit our risk. Don't forget that we plan to exit prior to the earnings report on April 2nd.

*Small Positions* - Suggested Positions -

Long Jun $70 call (MKC1322F70) current ask $2.70

03/23/13 new stop loss @ 70.85
03/20/13 triggered on gap open higher at $71.40

Entry on March 20 at $71.40
Average Daily Volume = 750 thousand
Listed on March 19, 2012

Noble Energy - NBL - close: 113.19 change: -0.97

Stop Loss: 112.65
Target(s): 119.75
Current Option Gain/Loss: Unopened
Time Frame: 3 to 6 weeks
New Positions: Yes, see below

03/25/13: Early morning strength pushed NBL past its 10-dma and past the $115.00 level but NBL failed to hit our entry trigger at $115.25. Thank goodness it did fail. Shares immediately turned south and plunged back toward its 20 and 30-dma. The low today was $112.76.

I am adjusting our entry trigger to $115.35 and adjusting our stop loss to $112.65.

Trigger @ 115.35

- Suggested Positions -

buy the May $120 call (NBL1318E120)

03/25/13 adjust entry trigger to $115.35, adjust stop to $112.65

Entry on March -- at $---.--
Average Daily Volume = 1.0 million
Listed on March 23, 2012

Toyota Motors - TM - close: 103.31 change: -0.68

Stop Loss: 102.35
Target(s): 108.00
Current Option Gain/Loss: -53.3%
Time Frame: 3 to 6 weeks
New Positions: see below

03/25/13: The stock market's sharp intraday reversal was very evident in TM's trading today. The stock did bounce at $102.50 but TM looks like it's in danger of breaking the bullish up trend. I am not suggesting new positions and more conservative traders may want to exit early now. Our stop loss remains $102.35.

Earlier Comments:
I do want to warn you that shares of TM tend to gap open (up or down) each day as the U.S. shares adjust for trading that occurs back home in Japan.

- Suggested Positions -

Long Apr $105 call (TM1320d105) entry $2.25

03/18/13 new stop loss @ 102.35, more conservative traders may want to exit early now
03/16/13 new stop loss @ 101.75

Entry on March 05 at $103.25
Average Daily Volume = 686 thousand
Listed on March 02, 2012

PUT Play Updates

F5 Networks - FFIV - close: 87.48 change: +0.47

Stop Loss: 90.55
Target(s): 85.25
Current Option Gain/Loss: +20.0%
Time Frame: 3 to 4 weeks
New Positions: see below

03/25/13: After Friday's decline FFIV managed a bit of a bounce today (+0.5%). Overall the trend remains bearish. Nimble traders could look for a failed rally in the $89-90 zone as a new bearish entry point. Our target is $85.25 but more aggressive traders may want to aim for the $82.00-81.50 zone instead.

- Suggested Positions -

Long Apr $85 PUT (FFIV1320P85) entry $1.40

03/23/13 new stop loss @ 90.55

Entry on March 22 at $89.11
Average Daily Volume = 1.5 million
Listed on March 21, 2012

Joy Global, Inc. - JOY - close: 57.81 change: -0.60

Stop Loss: 60.25
Target(s): 52.50
Current Option Gain/Loss: +1.6%
Time Frame: 3 to 4 weeks
New Positions: see below

03/25/13: JOY finally broke down below last week's low and hit our trigger to buy puts at $57.50. I would still consider new bearish positions at current levels. Our target is $52.50 but you could aim for the $50 level.

- Suggested Positions -

Long Apr 60 PUT (JOY1320P60) entry $3.05

Entry on March 25 at $57.50
Average Daily Volume = 2.7 million
Listed on March 20, 2012

Vitamin Shoppe, Inc. - VSI - close: 49.08 change: -1.22

Stop Loss: 51.55
Target(s): 45.50
Current Option Gain/Loss: + 5.0%
Time Frame: 3 to 4 weeks
New Positions: see below

03/25/13: VSI is starting to show relative weakness again with a -2.4% decline and a new relative low. Readers could use today's drop as a new bearish entry point to buy puts.

- Suggested Positions -

Long Apr $50 PUT (VSI1320P50) entry $2.00

Entry on March 21 at $49.75
Average Daily Volume = 736 thousand
Listed on March 11, 2012