Option Investor

Daily Newsletter, Saturday, 7/20/2013

Table of Contents

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

Market Wrap

Earnings Slow Market Gains

by Jim Brown

Click here to email Jim Brown

Disappointing earnings caused the Dow and Nasdaq to lose ground on Friday but the S&P and Russell 2000 continued their winning ways.

Market Statistics

The Q2 earnings curse is alive and well and there is a long line of companies that have missed on earnings and even more that missed on revenue. The monster miss by Microsoft and Google crushed the Nasdaq on Friday. The severity of the Microsoft miss caused fellow tech stocks IBM and HPQ, also Dow components, to decline significantly and the three removed more than 75 Dow points. With this much negativity I am amazed the Dow only ended with a -5 point loss for the day. The low was set at the open and it was a long slow march higher into the close.

Dow Chart - 5 Min

All the news came from earnings on Friday with no material economic reports.

The economic calendar for next week is going to be led by the HSBC PMI for China on Tuesday. This could be the next shoe to drop in the worry over China. The PMI has been in decline for several months and getting worse.

China's GDP peaked at 11.9% in 2010-Q1 and has declined in all but two of the last 13 quarters.

There are two regional manufacturing reports from Kansas and Richmond next week as well as the Chicago Fed National Activity Index on Monday.

Overall this is a low volatility calendar since most of the reports are not market movers. The home sales reports should show an increase but this is already expected. If sales suddenly declined it might be noteworthy.

Economic Calendar

The earnings calendar for next week does not contain as many big names but overall it is the busiest week of the earnings cycle. More than one-third of the S&P-500 companies report. Some of the most watched companies are NFLX, AAPL, FB, AMZN, SBUX and SWK. Those tend to be actively followed by the largest number of investors.

Apple will be the biggest report for the week on Tuesday. With competition increasing by the day, the odds of an earnings miss are pretty good.

Facebook reports on Wednesday and the biggest question will be the monetization of mobile. Google is struggling with the same problem and they have a lot more money and people working on the problem than Facebook.

Amazon is the preferred stock to hate with ever increasing expenses, more inventory, more distribution centers and less profits. With a negative PE and margins shrinking they could miss estimates again but investors will buy the dip anyway.

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Starbucks should be making money because the price of coffee imploded over the last year but they hedge their coffee costs so they could be on the wrong end of that hedging or so levered into the future that current inventories were bought a couple years ago when prices were high. Eventually they will benefit from the low coffee prices so I believe they should be bought on any dip.

Dow components reporting include MCD, TRV, T, MMM, BA, DD, CAT and UTX. CAT was the recipient of a long term short call by Jim Chanos last week saying the commodity super cycle was over with China in serious decline and that would eventually crush Caterpillar.

Boeing's earnings on Wednesday will be interesting because of the impact of the four month outage of the 787 as a result of the battery problem. That is now fixed but the costs have not worked their way to the financials yet. The recent fire in an unoccupied 787 in London was found to have been caused by the Emergency Locator Transponder or ELT. This device was made by Honeywell and the same design has been in use since the late 1990s. More than 6,000 of them have been installed and this is the first time a unit has failed with a fire. It was traced to the self contained battery and the FAA is recommending these units be turned off or removed until a thorough inspection can be performed on all planes, not just the 787. It appears Boeing is off the hook on this particular problem. We should get some more color on it with the earnings.

Earnings Calendar

There were a bunch of high profile earnings misses last week but the biggest surprise was Microsoft (MSFT). Shares of Microsoft fell the most in four years after the biggest earnings miss in at least a decade. Shares declined -11.4% to close at $31.40. Microsoft posted earnings of 66 cents that missed estimates of 75 cents. On top of that miss they took a $900 million write down on existing inventories of the Surface tablet to compensate for a new fire sale at reduced prices. That knocked another -7 cents off the actual earnings.

The drop in PC sales is killing the manufacturers and software developers. PC sales fell -11% in Q2. However, CFO Amy Hood said consumer PC shipments dropped -20% in the quarter. That hurt sales of the Office software suite and Windows 8. PC shipments have fallen for five consecutive quarters and IDC says that is the worst drop on record.

The Surface tablet only sold 900,000 units in each of the last two quarters. Obviously the product is far from successful.

Revenue rose +10% to $19.9 billion but analysts were expecting $20.7 billion. Sales of Windows were $4.4 billion compared to estimates of $4.8 billion.

Microsoft Chart

Google declined -15 to close at $897 but that was well off the lows. Shares dropped -$50 to hit $859 immediately after the earnings miss but the dip was bought on Friday. Google's cost per click declined -6% after a -4% decline the prior quarter. Cost per click has declined for 8 consecutive quarters. This is a result of higher competition but mostly the shift to mobile computing. Cell phones and tablets don't generate as many clicks as PCs.

Google is also suffering margin compression with its expanding hardware business. Motorola's smart phones, Android tablets and laptops are in a very crowded and competitive field. Operating income came in at 28% of revenues compared with 33% in the year-ago quarter. Revenues rose by +19% but net income declined by -4% to $3.12 billion.

Google is still a growth stock and about the biggest revenue grower so far this quarter. The company can stand to see margins shrink slightly as long as revenue continues to expand at 20% a year. Google reported earnings of $9.56 compared to estimates of $10.80. Revenue, although strong, was -$275 million below estimates.

Google Chart

On Friday GE surprised everyone with surprisingly strong guidance. Earnings declined -5% to 36 cents to beat estimates by a penny. Revenue fell -4% to $35.12 billion and below estimates of $35.6 billion.

GE's backlog of equipment and services rose $7 billion to a record $223 billion. The company said it saw growth in six of its seven industrial businesses. Sales of generators used in power plants and wind turbines declined -6%. This was predicted in late 2012. GE expects to generate 70% of its big ticket turbine sales in the back half of 2013. GE received orders for $26 billion in aircraft engines at the Paris air show in June.

CEO Immelt was very upbeat saying we expect to have a very good year because of the backlog of products that will be delivered over the next six months. GE shares rallied 4.6% to a new four-year high on the news.

GE Chart

Intuitive Surgical (ISRG) fell to $357 at the open on Friday after lowering guidance and saying the sales of its robotic surgery systems will continue to be pressured. ISRG said revenue growth will slow to only about +7% for the year compared to prior estimates of 16-19%. Revenue rose +24% in 2012. The company also said it had received a warning letter from the FDA regarding two problems observed during a recent inspection. Revenue is now expected to be $2.18 billion, down from prior guidance of $2.56 billion. Shares rebounded to close at $393 but that was still a loss of -$29. Shares fell from $499 to $407 on July 9th after an earlier warning.

ISRG Chart

Oilfield services company Schlumberger (SLB) reported earnings of $1.15 that rose +9.5% and beat estimates of $1.10. Revenue rose +7% to $11.18 billion and also beating estimates of $11.11 billion. The profits came from drilling activity at a three decade high outside the USA. The company said oil demand remained stable and high prices enabled companies to make development decisions and move forward with projects.

SLB Chart

Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG) reported earnings that rose +10.2% to $2.82 on revenue that rose +18.2% to $816.8 million. Earnings were in line with estimates and revenue was a beat. Same store sales rose +5.5%. They opened 44 new stores to bring their total to 1,502 with plans to open 165-180 in 2013. This is a fast food company that is doing everything right.

CMG Chart

So far the Q2 earnings have been weak but slightly better than expected. With 20% of the S&P reported the earnings growth has been +3.7% thanks to the financial sector. Revenues have declined -1%. A common thread in the reports has been "Sorry for the weakness in Q2 but we promise to be better the rest of 2013." There is a huge amount of expectations being pushed into the next two quarters. There is a "hope bubble" forming that everyone wishes will come true.

The earnings beat rate at 70% but as I warned over the last month the bar is so low a snail could crawl over it. As of Friday 97 of the S&P companies had warned about Q2 earnings expectations while only 16 had provided positive guidance. That is the highest rate of negative guidance since 2001-Q1.

The Guggenheim chart below shows the number of negative guidance warnings in gray and the positive guidance in green. Note the broadening divergence that suggests things are getting worse instead of better. Is this the picture of a recovery?

Guggenheim S&P Guidance Chart

Oil prices continued to rise on concerns over Egypt, Libya, Syria and the unrest in the entire MENA region. WTI prices rallied to close at $108.47 and the first time above Brent prices in three years. Brent last traded below WTI in October 2010. Since then the spread had risen to more than $20 on numerous occasions.

The decline in Brent prices is due to a large quantity of nearly 4.5 mbpd that is coming back online after a prolonged shutdown. This is primarily from South Sudan but other fields are coming back online after lengthy maintenance issues and pipeline outages. The return of this crude to the market is depressing Brent as the waterborne crude price index.

Meanwhile WTI prices have been rising as producers find new ways to ship crude oil to the coasts where it is priced comparably with Brent. Five years ago there were 50,000 bpd shipped from the Bakken by rail. Today there is nearly 700,000 bpd and growing plus an additional 200,000 bpd shipping from other shale oil fields. New pipelines are being completed and the Seaway pipeline from the Gulf of Mexico to Cushing Oklahoma was reversed to drain the glut of oil flowing into Cushing from the Midwest.

WTI was expected to catch up to Brent prices but not until the next major pipeline is completed in 2014. Once the equalization of supply began the closure rate was very rapid.

WTI Chart

Detroit became the largest city to file bankruptcy just one year after President Obama vowed, "I will not let Detroit go bankrupt." Reportedly 54% of Detroit's $18 billion in debt is related to pension funding. More than 40% of their street lights were out and 66% of their ambulances were not working. Detroit's problems have been increased by population flight. In the 1950s there were nearly two-million people in Detroit. That has declined to around 750,000 today. The lack of jobs and decaying infrastructure in the rust belt drove people to other states in search of a new beginning. I was in Detroit a couple years ago and some areas looked like something out of a Walking Dead episode.

Other cities likely to file in the coming months include Philadelphia, Houston, Los Angeles, Baltimore, Miami, Chicago, Scranton and Oakland. Having Detroit lead the way establishes a large city precedent that will make it more likely for those other cities to file. The equity market ignored the Detroit headlines.

$20 billion flowed into to equity funds last week for the largest inflow since June 2008. Another $1 billion flowed out of bonds but that was reserved compared to the $80 billion in outflows in June.

This liquidity driven exuberance could keep the equity markets irrational far longer than fundamentals, technicals or simple logic would suggest. The VIX collapsed to 12.54 and a two month low on Friday. There is no fear in the market. The only fear is that investors will miss further gains by not being in the market.

The broadest measure of the market, the Wilshire 5000, has broken out to a new high and appears unstoppable. The RSI and MACD are showing no weakness.

However, note the steady decline in volume since the 2009 low despite the extreme increase in algorithmic trading. Market sentiment changed after the recession. Individual investors began to withdraw from the markets. After watching their accounts shrink by 50% as they headed towards retirement they began pulling money out rather than risk another hit when the Fed ends QE.

I suspect we are seeing some of that money come back because new highs are a very powerful motivator. Fear of missing out on a big bull market probably overcame some fear of a future loss. Note the slight pickup in volume in Q2-2013.

Wilshire 5000 Chart

In theory we should be approaching a period of market weakness after a month of almost solid gains. Theory rarely works in practice and the $20 billion in new cash that flowed into the market last week is proof that investors either don't understand market theory or they believe this time is different.

The Dow, S&P and NYSE posted gains last week but the rate of climb slowed appreciably. The Nasdaq lost a little ground because of the hit on Friday by Microsoft, Google and Intuitive Surgical.

The Dow only gained +79 points for the week after averaging +275 points the prior two weeks. The S&P continued undaunted to draw ever closer to 1,700. This is the new Holy Grail for traders and the odds are good it will be hit. The key of course is what happens next. We are so far above the average estimates we started the year with we would need a -112 point decline to 1580 to hit that target.

The table below was estimates as of December 29th with the exception of Goldman and Morgan Stanley, which were revised up as of March 31st.

Year End Targets as of December 29th.

Many analysts have increased their estimates but even those increased year end estimates are only in the 1700-1725 range and we are basically there now. So what happens if we punch through 1,700 next week? Does everyone increase their estimates another 100 points and we continue on our merry way? I doubt it. There are some major analysts turning negative on the markets.

Carter Braxton Worth, chief market technician at Oppenheimer, pens a weekly research note called "Money in Motion" and at the end of June his only comment in the note was "We have no new thoughts. Sell." View Money in Motion

In a note this week he compared the 2003-2007 rally with the 2009-2013 rally and said it had a 95.5% correlation. The current bull is 1,096 trading sessions old. Out of the 20,383 rolling 1,096 sessions periods dating back to 1927 the period with the highest correlation is the one that began on March 10, 2003 and ended on July 17th, 2007. He said humans tend to recognize patterns and once they are recognized they tend to repeat.

Oppenheimer Chart

While I like to point out historical trends and semblances there is never any guarantee of future results. Each market is unique and there is a myriad of factors creating the current market sentiment. That sentiment today is very bullish as evidenced by the $20 billion in inflows into equities last week.

We also know that when bullishness becomes irrational the potential for a climactic spike increases and will be followed by a period of correction and consolidation. To be valid that spike needs to occur on a sharp increase in volume.

On Thursday we traded 6.0 billion shares, which for a summer Thursday was above average but it was expiration week and a big earnings day so with those qualifications I would say it was only mediocre. Friday traded 5.9 billion, which was also above average but with the same qualifications it remains mediocre as well. We have not seen a climatic spike. The ratio of up to down volume has been tame except for the 11th when it was 6:1 in favor of advancers. That was a Bernanke headline driven rally.

Bernanke has gone out of his way to smooth over the June comments that tanked the market and done a good job of it. However, we have to wonder what else could the Fed pull out of its hat to push us higher? The doves have stated their case and the hawks other than Ester George have toned down their comments in order to avoid roiling the bond market and killing the real estate market. That means the Fed is likely to be quiet this week and with the July 31st FOMC meeting they are entering their quiet period anyway. That means no Fed headlines for the next 10 days.

What do we have left to spur the market forward? Economics are back in the good news is bad news cycle so any good news next week would suggest an earlier end to QE. More bad economics are not likely to be ugly just weak and that would be neutral for the market.

That leaves us with earnings and the Q2 earnings cycle has not worked out well so far. As we move into the third week of earnings the number of companies reporting increases to the busiest week of the cycle but the size of the companies also declines and normally so do the earnings. However, this quarter may be different.

Smaller companies are normally less exposed to Europe and China and those are the regions that have been giving the big blue chip companies the most trouble. Maybe the U.S. focused companies reporting next week will report better earnings. Either way the bar is set so low we should continue to see a high beat rate.

Will it be enough to push the S&P well over 1,700? That remains to be seen and the rubber band is starting to look like it might be reaching its limits. The S&P has gained +132 points in the 18 trading days since June 24th. That is an average of 7.3 points per day with only a couple pauses on the way up.

Initial support is 1672 and resistance at 1700, 1715 and 1725.

S&P Chart - Daily

The Dow was handicapped by MSFT, INTC and IBM on Friday with those three stocks costing the Dow -75 points. However, it almost made it back to positive territory. I view that as bullish and I don't need to belabor the point.

The Dow set a new high on Thursday and after five days of consolidation just above 15,400 it could be set to move higher. That 15,400 level has turned into decent support and resistance is well above in the 15,750 range with round number resistance at 15,600. It is hard to accurately plot resistance points when the markets are making new highs.

Dow Chart

Like the Dow the Nasdaq was severely handicapped by Microsoft and Intel with an assist by Google. The index never had a chance. The bearish sentiment from the tech earnings misses was a lot to overcome. However, the index gapped down to 3581 at the open and closed at 3586. The sellers were unable to push it any lower. This was purely a knee jerk reaction and there was no follow on selling. I view this as bullish as well even though the rebound was lackluster.

Resistance is 3610 and the Thursday close. The Nasdaq consolidated at the 3610 level all week ahead of the tech earnings. Now that those big names are out of the way we could see a direction appear this week.

Initial support should be the 3581 low from Friday. We would have to decline significantly below that level to find the next support level about 100 points down. That would be a major sentiment change.

Nasdaq Composite Chart

The Russell 2000 succeeded in making a new closing high by two-tenths of a point. Yes, 0.2074 to be exact with a close at 1050.47. That 1050 level is current resistance. The Russell has gained +108 points in the last 18 days or roughly +10%. Since the small caps rarely do well in the summer this suggests fund managers have thrown the seasonal cycles out the window.

Support is 1035 and upper resistance at 1075.

Russell 2000 Chart

Sentiment will remain bullish until suddenly it isn't. The market will find an excuse to go down when it is ready. All the charting and posturing in the world will not prevent that event when it appears. Seasonally the market typically weakens after the Q2 earnings cycle. With a third of the S&P reporting this week we will know beyond a doubt by Friday's close how the quarter will finish. That is usually the starter's bell for the August decline. It can vary by several weeks depending on headlines and sentiment but we need to watch for the signs of instability forming.

Enter passively and exit aggressively!

Jim Brown

Send Jim an email

"When they call the roll in the Senate the senators do no know whether to answer 'present' or 'not guilty.'"
Theodore Roosevelt


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Index Wrap

Tech Tops Out, S&P Climbs a Bit But Could Also Be Peaking

by Leigh Stevens

Click here to email Leigh Stevens

The S&P 500 (SPX), S&P 100 (OEX) and the Dow 30 (INDU) climbed to further all-time Closing highs, although INDU looks toppy at its prior intraday highs. Nasdaq had earnings woes (Advanced Micro and Microsoft) and gapped lower Friday.

If the tech sector has topped for now, can the S&P be far behind? Since the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite (COMP) held technical support at recent lows, unlike the S&P, and then led the way to new highs for the current advance, can the S&P now just detach from this tether? It seems unlikely.

Healthcare and energy were the top gainers among the S&P 500's major sectors, while technology was the biggest decliner.

I'm not anticipating much further upside progress in SPX, OEX and Dow given technology stock weakness. SPX could touch 1700 but I'm not expecting much more. Moreover, the S&P is at an overbought extreme both in terms of the 13-day RSI and my bullish sentiment indicator is at or near an 'overbought' extreme. COMP gapped lower by week's end, suggesting at least an interim top after it got to such extremes.

If you've been involved in bullish options strategies, consider taking profits. If a next move in the S&P is simply sideways more than lower, this may impact you adversely also.



The S&P 500 (SPX) is bullish as it pushed to yet another all-time daily (and weekly) closing high. A further push higher is complicated technically in that the rate of change has slowed somewhat, but more importantly, the RSI and my CPRATIO sentiment indicator are at or near 'overbought' extremes.

It wouldn't take much in the way of earnings disappointments (e.g., with Apple, etc.) to result in a pullback. SPX might get to 1700, but I don't expect much above that without some corrective action even if its more of a sideways move for a while. Next pivotal technical 'resistance' is seen at the top end of SPX's uptrend channel, currently intersecting in the 1750 area.

Support is highlighted at SPX's up trendline, at 1656 currently. Next support looks like 1640. Fairly major support begins in the 1600 area.


The S&P 100 (OEX) chart is bullish like big brother SPX in that the Index has gone to yet another all-time Closing high both on a daily and weekly chart basis. Its rate of change has slowed a bit, which doesn’t mean much in and of itself. A slowing of the rate of price rise does have greater meaning in terms of OEX being at an overbought extreme in terms of the 13-day Relative Strength Index (RSI). Another type of 'overbought' in the market is when traders and investors develop higher than average or extreme expectations for further gains. This I measure by my CPRATIO indicator graphed above.

760 is near resistance and 782 is high resistance, at the upper end of OEX's broad uptrend price channel. Channel lines being one of the tried and true methods of projecting the extent of back and forth price swings in bull markets and down in bear markets.

Near support is seen at the up trendline. Although this trendline was pierced on the sell off below 730, prices have regained this line and as this trendline was a longstanding one, this trendline remains a way of measuring potential support; or, potential resistance. We know if the support trendline is still 'valid' so to speak on a next decline. Support as suggested at OEX's up trendline comes at 743 currently. Next pivotal support is 720.

A strong and prolonged move above 760 would suggest a 20-25 point next objective. OEX is more or less in the middle of its uptrend channel and could swing toward the upper end or down to the lower end or to the 740 area. Closes above the trendline maintains a bullish outlook until proven otherwise.


The Dow 30 Average (INDU) chart is bullish. INDU has gone to a new high like the S&P. We have one chart factor that's different in that we need to be alert to a (downside) reversal in INDU in that the Average is at the prior intraday high AND is nearing an overbought RSI extreme. Such extremes can of course come repeatedly before a strong bull market like our current one will see a meaningful correction. High RSI readings coupled with a slowdown, although minor, coupled with a possible double top, just means that more attention should be paid to a possible reversal.

If tech stumbles here, I don't see how INDU doesn't have some struggle or decline occurring too; maybe, delayed as the stronger indices stay up the longest before a sell off.

Near resistance is at 15550-15600, with next technical resistance suggested at 15800. The Dow looks headed to 16000 and higher but how it gets there is the question.

Technical support is seen at 15400, with next lower support int eh 15200 area.


The Nasdaq Composite (COMP) Index had a maximum bullish chart but was nearing the top end of its uptrend channel where rallies often go to die. Upper channel reaches is sometimes where a strong advance fails and other times where there's just a slowing or more moderate rate of climb price wise.

The downside price gap after a strong upside move is suggesting a bearish reversal. Whether such a reversal is more than short-term would be suggested by whether COMP holds above 3520-3530. If this area gives way, pivotal technical support is suggested in the 3450 area. To remain within its broad bullish uptrend channel COMP needs to stay above 3360.

Resistance in the short-term is in the 3625 area, then at 3670 at the current upper channel line.

I see COMP heading back into its upside gap area. If so, support will either develop there or around 3475 most likely. But, stay tuned!


The Nasdaq 100 (NDX) chart was climbing at a very strong, often unsustainable, rate of change. When prices are running fast but near the upper end of a broad uptrend channel, bull trends can die of their own 'weight'. Prices just get bid up too high to be sustained after a lengthily run up. The Relative Strength Index gets up to 70-75 and you have to worry about a correction if you're still in calls, etc. You have to especially worry if all this is going on as we get into earnings reports!

A downside gap after such a strong move higher is often a reversal type 'alert'. Support in the 3000 area is technical support suggested by the upside gap from when NDX last leaped higher. Support below 3000 is at 2975, extending to 2950. NDX remains within its bullish uptrend channel as long as above 2875.

Near resistance is at 3093-3095, extending to 3137-3140. I didn't highlight on the chart but very near resistance is the top end of the recent overnight gap down, or simply the Thursday low at 3072. If NDX doesn't fairly quickly climb back above 3072, I would anticipate further downside weakness.


The Nasdaq 100 (QQQ) chart picture is mixed. Unless QQQ climbs back above 75.25 fairly quickly, further weakness seems likely, especially a dip to the 73.5 area support. If 73.5 is pierced, pivotal chart support comes in around 72.

Resistance is highlighted on my QQQ daily chart at 75.7, with next resistance at 76.8, at the current upper channel line.

This recent break didn't occur with the usual big surge in daily trading volume. If prices don't rebound fairly quickly, look for a sell off to possibly 72 on heavy volume. I don't expect a decline all the way back to trendline support but it comes in at 70.2-70.3 currently.


The Russell 2000 (RUT) chart is major league bullish and RUT has been a kind of bellwether for the overall Market. It's a bullish factor to me that RUT didn't experience some related weakness along with Nasdaq on Friday's decline. RUT continues to chug higher and could be the one to reach the top end of ITS uptrend channel or the first one to do so. Resistance suggested by the upper channel line comes at 1072 currently.

Near technical support is at 1020, with support extending to the important 1000 level.

RUT has moved fast enough and far enough to get to an 'overbought' extreme in terms of the RSI indicator I rely on more than most overbought oversold measures. The thing with such extremes is simply that the probabilities of a shake out and counter-trend move gets significantly higher.


New Option Plays

Grocery & Biotech

by James Brown

Click here to email James Brown


The Fresh Market, Inc. - TFM - close: 54.54 change: +0.08

Stop Loss: 53.25
Target(s): 59.50
Current Option Gain/Loss: Unopened
Time Frame: Exit PRIOR to August option expiration
New Positions: Yes, see below

Company Description

Why We Like It:
The Fresh Market is a specialty grocer that started in North Caroline and has now spread to 100 stores in over 20 states. Grocery names in general have been doing well this month. Shares of TFM have rallied four weeks in a row (so has the S&P 500). Now TFM is testing resistance near the $55.00 level.

We are suggesting a trigger to buy calls at $55.25. Our target is $59.50. However, we're only buying the August calls so we'll need to plan an exit prior to August expiration. TFM is expected to report earnings in late August. We also want to keep an eye on shares of Whole Foods (WFM). WFM is a rival grocer and WFM's earnings report on July 31st could have an influence on shares of TFM.

FYI: The Point & Figure chart for TFM is bullish with a $65 target.

Trigger @ 55.25

- Suggested Positions -

buy the Aug $55 call (TFM1317H55) current ask $1.50

Annotated Chart:

Entry on July -- at $---.--
Average Daily Volume = 469 thousand
Listed on July 20, 2013


Questcor Pharma. - QCOR - close: 45.84 change: -1.12

Stop Loss: 47.01
Target(s): 42.25
Current Option Gain/Loss: Unopened
Time Frame: Exit PRIOR to earnings on July 30th
New Positions: Yes, see below

Company Description

Why We Like It:
Questcor Pharmaceuticals is in the biotech industry. Biotech stocks can be dangerous to trade because you never know when the next headline might send shares gapping up or down. QCOR is no different. Shares have definitely been volatile over the last couple of years. Plenty of investors are bearish. The most recent data listed short interest at 32% of the relatively small 48.6 million share float.

On a short-term basis QCOR has definitely been underperforming its peers in the biotech sector and the broader market. The stock had rallied up to resistance at $50.00 a few days ago but it promptly reversed. Now QCOR is down four days in a row. If this trend continues we could see it retest support near $42.00 or even the $40 area.

I do consider this an aggressive, higher-risk trade. Friday's low was $45.41. I am suggesting a trigger to buy puts at $45.30. You may want to wait for a drop under $45.00 instead. Our target is $42.25. We don't have much time. QCOR is scheduled to report earnings on July 30th and we do not want to hold over the announcement.

Trigger @ 45.30 *Small Positions*

- Suggested Positions -

buy the Aug $42 PUT (QCOR1317T42) current ask $1.70

Annotated Chart:

Weekly Chart:

Entry on July -- at $---.--
Average Daily Volume = 1.2 million
Listed on July 20, 2013

In Play Updates and Reviews

Four Weeks of Gains

by James Brown

Click here to email James Brown

Editor's Note:

The U.S. stock market has extended the current rally to four weeks in a row. The major indices have set a string of new record highs.

Our PRU and LL trades were closed on Friday morning.
We also closed half of our ADP trade on Friday morning (+93%). We want to exit our AMP traded on Monday. See play update for details.

Current Portfolio:

CALL Play Updates

Automatic Data Processing - ADP - close: 72.88 change: +0.06

Stop Loss: 71.75
Target(s): 74.00
Current Option Gain/Loss: + 87.8%
Time Frame: 6 to 8 weeks
New Positions: see below

07/20/13: ADP saw a brief spike lower on Friday morning but traders are still buying the dips. Shares rallied back to close virtually unchanged for the session. It looks like prior resistance near $72.00 is going to hold up as new support. We will raise our stop loss up to $71.75.

NOTE: Our plan was to lock in some gains and sell half of our position on Friday morning. ADP opened higher on Friday morning at $73.14 before its spike lower. The option opened a little bit higher and our exit (to sell half) was at $3.20, a +93.9% move). We will plan to exit the rest of our position when ADP hits $74.00.

- Suggested Positions -

Long Aug $70 call (ADP1317H70) entry $1.65

07/20/13 new stop loss @ 71.75
07/19/13 sold half at the open. ADP gapped open higher at $73.14
option exit at $3.20 (+93.9%)
07/18/13 prepare to sell half of our position at the open tomorrow to lock in some gains
07/15/13 new stop loss @ 70.95
07/11/13 new stop loss @ 69.85
07/10/13 new stop loss @ 69.40
07/06/13 new stop loss @ 68.40
06/27/13 new stop loss @ 67.90


Entry on June 18 at $69.25
Average Daily Volume = 1.8 million
Listed on June 17, 2013

Ameriprise Financial - AMP - close: 86.31 change: -0.53

Stop Loss: 85.40
Target(s): 89.25
Current Option Gain/Loss: -13.6%
Time Frame: exit PRIOR to earnings on July 24th
New Positions: see below

07/20/13: Our time for this trade is almost up. AMP did not see any follow through on Thursday's rally. Shares actually gave back above half of Thursday's gain. It looks like $87.00 is new resistance for the stock.

AMP is scheduled to report earnings on July 24th. I am suggesting we exit this trade on Monday, July 22nd, at the closing bell. More aggressive traders may want to hold on and exit on the 24th at the closing bell, just before the earnings announcement.

Tonight we will adjust the stop loss up to $85.40, which is just under the rising 10-dma.

- Suggested Positions -

Long Aug $85 call (AMP1317H85) entry $3.30

07/20/13 new stop loss @ 85.40, prepare to exit positions on Monday, July 22nd, at the closing bell
07/15/13 new stop loss @ 84.65
07/11/13 trade opened on gap open at $86.17. Trigger was $85.25.


Entry on July 11 at $86.17
Average Daily Volume = 1.25 million
Listed on July 09, 2013

Borg Warner - BWA - close: 91.17 change: +0.35

Stop Loss: 87.75
Target(s): 93.00
Current Option Gain/Loss: +42.8%
Time Frame: exit PRIOR to earnings on July 25th
New Positions: see below

07/20/13: BWA displayed relative strength again on Friday. Traders bought the dip on Friday morning and shares rebounded to a new all-time high. The company is due to report earnings on July 25th and we do not want to hold over the announcement. Therefore I am suggesting we prepare to exit positions on Tuesday, July 23rd, at the closing bell. Tonight we will adjust our stop loss higher to $87.75.

- Suggested Positions -

Long Aug $90 call (BWA1317H90) entry $2.10*

07/20/13 new stop loss @ 87.75, prepare to exit on Tuesday, July 23rd at the closing bell
07/15/13 new stop loss @ 86.40
07/11/13 trade opened on gap higher at $88.28. Trigger was $87.75
*option entry price is an estimate since the option did not trade at the time our play was opened.


Entry on July 11 at $88.28
Average Daily Volume = 860 thousand
Listed on July 10, 2013

Eastman Chemical Co. - EMN - close: 75.71 change: +0.84

Stop Loss: 73.49
Target(s): 79.75
Current Option Gain/Loss: + 1.9%
Time Frame: exit PRIOR to earnings on July 29th
New Positions: see below

07/20/13: We saw more dip-buying in EMN on Friday. Shares slipped to $74.42 before reversing. The stock ended the day at a new all-time closing high. Friday's move also looks like a new bullish entry point. Keep in mind we only have a few days for this trade to work.

Earlier Comments:
Our target is $79.75. However, we will plan on exiting positions prior to the earnings report on July 29th. FYI: The Point & Figure chart for EMN is bullish with a $91 target.

- Suggested Positions -

Long Aug $75 call (EMN1317H75) entry $2.55


Entry on July 17 at $75.25
Average Daily Volume = 1.3 million
Listed on July 11, 2013

Sourcefire, Inc. - FIRE - close: 59.80 change: -0.45

Stop Loss: 57.95
Target(s): 64.75
Current Option Gain/Loss: -12.5%
Time Frame: exit PRIOR to the earnings report on July 29th
New Positions: see below

07/20/13: FIRE's performance on Friday was disappointing. There was no follow through on Thursday's bullish breakout above resistance at $60.00. If the dip continues we can watch for possible support near $59.00 or near its 10-dma (currently 58.50ish). I would wait for a new rally above $60.00 before considering new positions.

Earlier Comments:
A breakout here could spark a short squeeze. The most recent data listed short interest at 18% of the 30.0 million-share float. Please note that we do not want to hold over the earnings report on July 29th. FYI: The Point & Figure chart for FIRE is bullish with a long-term $74 target.

- Suggested Positions -

Long Aug $65 call (FIRE1317H65) entry $2.00


Entry on July 18 at $60.25
Average Daily Volume = 431 thousand
Listed on July 17, 2013

Harman Intl. Industries - HAR - close: 56.06 change: +0.21

Stop Loss: 54.40
Target(s): 59.75
Current Option Gain/Loss: - 8.3%
Time Frame: Exit PRIOR to earnings on August 6th
New Positions: see below

07/20/13: HAR saw a brief dip on Friday morning but shares recovered and eventually bounced to close above resistance near $56.00. Thursday's intraday high was $56.18. I would consider new positions now at current levels of you could wait for a rally above $56.18 as an alternative entry point.

Don't forget that we will plan on exiting positions prior to the company's earnings report on August 6th. FYI: The Point & Figure chart for HAR is bullish with a long-term $81 target.

- Suggested Positions -

Long Aug $57.50 call (HAR1317H57.5) entry $1.80*

*option entry price is an estimate since the option did not trade at the time our play was opened.


Entry on July 18 at $56.10
Average Daily Volume = 785 thousand
Listed on July 13, 2013

Noble Energy - NBL - close: 66.07 change: +0.41

Stop Loss: 63.65
Target(s): 68.00
Current Option Gain/Loss: +74.0%
Time Frame: Exit PRIOR to earnings on July 25th
New Positions: see below

07/20/13: After a little bit of profit taking on Friday morning shares of NBL turned around and marched to another new high. Readers may want to go ahead and take profits now.

NBL is due to report earnings on July 25th. I am suggesting we prepare to exit positions on Tuesday, July 23rd, at the closing bell. That's assuming NBL doesn't hit our exit target first. Speaking of exit targets I am lowering our exit target from $68.50 to $68.00. We will raise the stop loss to $63.65.

- Suggested Positions -

Long Aug $65 call (NBl1317H65) entry $1.35

07/20/13 new stop loss @ 63.65, adjust the exit target to $68.00
prepare to exit positions on Tuesday, July 23rd at the close
07/15/13 new stop loss @ 62.45
07/13/13 new stop loss @ 61.40


Entry on July 09 at $63.05
Average Daily Volume = 1.9 million
Listed on July 06, 2013

Visteon Corp. - VC - close: 65.60 change: +0.25

Stop Loss: 64.40
Target(s): 72.50
Current Option Gain/Loss: -50.0%
Time Frame: Exit PRIOR to earnings on Aug. 8th
New Positions: see below

07/20/13: VC managed a minor gain on Friday. Shares remain below the $66.00 level. We remain cautious here. I am not suggesting new positions with VC below $66.00. More conservative traders may want to exit early now.

- Suggested Positions -

Long Aug $70 call (VC1317H70) entry $1.40

07/16/13 triggered on gap open higher at $66.89
suggested trigger was $66.75


Entry on July 16 at $66.89
Average Daily Volume = 484 thousand
Listed on July 13, 2013

PUT Play Updates

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters - GMCR - close: 73.62 change: -0.24

Stop Loss: 75.01
Target(s): 65.50
Current Option Gain/Loss: -20.5%
Time Frame: 3 to 4 weeks
New Positions: see below

07/20/13: GMCR did not see any follow through on Thursday's rally. That's good news for bears but we remain cautious here. The intermediate trend of lower highs and lower lows remains. Yet the current short-term consolidation is actually neutral. I am not suggesting new positions at this time.

Earlier Comments:
GMCR does have an above average level of short interest and shares will likely be volatile. We will want to keep our position size small to limit our risk. Our short-term target is $65.50. More aggressive traders could aim for the $61-60 zone instead since $60 looks like stronger support. FYI: The Point & Figure chart for GMCR is bearish with a $57 target.

- Suggested (Small) Positions -

Long Aug $65 PUT (GMCR1317T65) entry $3.65

07/18/13 new stop loss @ 75.01


Entry on July 17 at $71.90
Average Daily Volume = 4.0 million
Listed on July 16, 2013

Marathon Petroleum - MPC - close: 69.60 change: +1.31

Stop Loss: 70.15
Target(s): 61.00
Current Option Gain/Loss: Unopened
Time Frame: exit PRIOR to earnings on Aug. 1st
New Positions: Yes, see below

07/20/13: MPC erased nearly all of Thursday's decline with a bounce from support near $68 on Friday. If this rebound continues we will likely drop MPC as a bearish candidate. Right now the plan is to buy puts on a breakdown with a trigger at $67.45.

If triggered our target is $61.00. More conservative traders may want to exit near $64.00 instead.

Trigger @ 67.45

- Suggested Positions -

buy the Aug $65 PUT (MPC1317T65)


Entry on July -- at $---.--
Average Daily Volume = 3.8 million
Listed on July 18, 2013

Longer-Term Play Updates

Chicago Bridge & Iron - CBI - close: 62.71 change: +0.44

Stop Loss: 55.75
Target(s): 74.50
Current Option Gain/Loss: +49.0%
Time Frame: 4 to 6 months
New Positions: see below

07/20/13: CBI is up four weeks in a row, like most of the market. Shares are slowly climbing back toward resistance near $65.00. The company is expected to report earnings on July 30th.

The late June low was near $56.00. We are raising our stop loss up to $55.75. More conservative traders may want to adjust their stop loss closer to the simple 100-dma (currently near $58.23). I am not suggesting new positions at this time.

*Small Positions* - Suggested Positions -

Long 2014 Jan $65 call (CBI1418A65) entry $2.55

07/20/13 new stop loss @ 55.75
06/29/13 CBI might be poised to dip into the $57-55 zone again.
06/24/13 triggered @ 56.75
06/22/13 adjust entry trigger to $56.75
06/15/13 entry strategy change: change the breakout trigger at $65.25 to a buy-the-dip trigger at $56.50. Adjust the stop loss to $53.75.
Adjust the option strike to the 2014 Jan. $65 call


Entry on June 24 at $56.75
Average Daily Volume = 1.8 million
Listed on June 01, 2013


Prudential Financial - PRU - close: 78.19 change: -0.33

Stop Loss: 75.90
Target(s): 79.00
Current Option Gain/Loss: +66.6%
Time Frame: 6 to 8 weeks
New Positions: see below

07/20/13: Our plan was to exit positions on Friday morning. PRU gapped open lower at $78.07. The gap down should have pushed the option to open lower about 40 cents.

- Suggested Positions -

Aug $75 call (PRU1317H75) entry $2.40 exit $4.00* (+66.6%)

07/19/13 scheduled exit
*option exit price is an estimate since the option did not trade at the time our play was closed.
07/18/13 prepare to exit at the opening bell tomorrow
07/15/13 new stop loss @ 75.90, readers may want to exit now.
07/09/13 new stop loss @ 74.75, adjust exit target to $79.00
07/02/13 new stop loss @ 72.40


Entry on July 01 at $73.65
Average Daily Volume = 3.1 million
Listed on June 29, 2013


Lumber Liquidators - LL - close: 88.11 change: +1.06

Stop Loss: 88.25
Target(s): 80.25
Current Option Gain/Loss: -21.4%
Time Frame: exit PRIOR to earnings on July 24th
New Positions: see below

07/20/13: LL was not cooperating so we suggested an early exit on Friday morning. The stock opened down at $86.90 before climbing to a +1.2% gain on Friday.

We could actually consider buying calls on a move above $88.50. However, LL is due to report earnings in two days (morning of July 24th) therefore the newsletter will not be adding LL as a call play.

Earlier Comments:
I want to point out that this is a higher-risk, more aggressive trade.

*use Small Positions* - Suggested Positions -

Aug $80 PUT (LL1317T80) entry $2.80 exit $2.20* (-21.4%)

07/19/13 scheduled exit
07/18/13 prepare to exit at the opening bell tomorrow


Entry on July 16 at $85.75
Average Daily Volume = 840 thousand
Listed on July 15, 2013