Option Investor

Daily Newsletter, Thursday, 2/26/2015

Table of Contents

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

Market Wrap

FCC Votes Yes To Net Neutrality

by Thomas Hughes

Click here to email Thomas Hughes
The long awaited FCC vote on net neutrality finally came...and it passed.


The market was relatively quiet in early trading as attention seemed to be focused on the FCC. The commission vote on the issue of net neutrality has finally come and they passed the measure 3 to 2 . Early trading was very calm up until the vote was announced and afterward remained calm. The markets hung just below the current highs all day, trading in a fairly narrow range and closing near the highs of the day. Overseas markets were less affected by the vote and were able to reach new highs with little trouble. Asian indices got an additional boost as traders returning from the lunar New Year holiday added to volumes, earnings and rising gold prices helped lift shares in Europe. There were some important headlines for earnings and economic data as well but neither source moved the market noticeably. I think that what really kept the market in check today was anticipation for the GDP revision due out tomorrow.

Market Statistics

Trading here at home was negative from the start of the early electronic sessions. After the opening bell trading remained weak, but stable just below the recently set highs. By 10AM the market had moved down to hit the morning low, about -0.10% lower, and then bounced back to break even levels. The NASDAQ for one was able to move into the green at that point, the indices continued to hover in a tight range at or just below break even until well after lunch. I thought that the FCC vote, when it was announced, might have spooked or sparked the market but it did not happen. Trading remained quietly in balance on the news. The market did move down to test the lows of the day in the late afternoon, but that was most likely driven by oil. Once the oil market closed the equities market bounced back to earlier highs and hold there until it closed.

Economic Calendar

The Economy

We got a blast of data right at 8:30AM. Included with the weekly jobless claims numbers was the latest read on CPI and Durable Goods. Much of the data was unexpected but on balance a positive for the market. Initial claims for unemployment jumped more than expected to 313,000. This is a gain of 31,000, from a down ward revision of -1,000, and 18,000 more than expected. The four week average also moved up, by 11,5000, but is still below 300,000. On a not adjusted basis claims rose by 0.8% versus the expected drop of -0.9%. While unexpected, this weeks gain is not a shock and still well within the recent range. Claims are still trending at long term low levels and consistent with a healthy labor market. It looks like there might be some volatility in claims but so long as they don't begin to rise things are OK. I've noticed over the past few weeks that the seasonal factors have been out of synch with the raw data which may be causing said volatility. It could also be caused by low oil prices and/or seasonal shifts in the calendar or weather related or combination.

Continuing claims fell by -21,000 to 2.401 million. Last week's figure was revised lower by -3,000 as well. The four week moving average rose however, reflecting last weeks jump in claims. Both the headline and the moving average are very close to 2.4 million and have been trending near that level for a few weeks. It is starting to look like continuing claims may be stabilizing around this number but more data is needed.

Total claims rose by 12,469 to 2.86 million. This is a mild gain from last week, below the high set last month, and the fourth week of relatively flat numbers. It looks like total claims may have stabilized as well, but again more data is needed. Regardless, even with total claims elevated from the low set last year it is still at long term low levels and consistent with a healthy labor market.

The Consumer Price Index fell by -0.7%, as expected. Ex food and energy it rose 0.2%, slightly ahead of expectations. On a trailing 12 month basis ex food and energy prices have risen 1.6%. Data within the report reveals the impact of gas prices on the consumer, the all energy index fell by -9.7%, led by a -18.7% drop in gasoline. Overall this is a great report in my view as it shows overall consumer level inflation is still tame, but also rising at a core level. Eventually energy prices will rebound and add additional upward pressure to inflation and then things may be different.

Durable good were much better than expected at 2.8%, 0.1% ex-transportation. The market predicted a decline of -1% on the headline and an increase of 0.3% ex-transportation. This is a resounding rebound from the decline in December and a good sign of GDP growth in the first quarter. Shipments fell by -1.1% but were offset by increases in inventory(+0.4%), transportation (+0.5%) and capital goods (9.5%). The jump in capital goods is a nice forward looking piece of data as it shows investment in business/manufacturing infrastructure.

The Oil Index

Oil is still trading back and forth across the $50 level in wild swings. Today's move was greater than 4.5%, to the downside, and left WTI trading near $48.40. While volatile, oil has held relatively stable around $50 for nearly a month and is now at the low of the range. There are still a lot questions about the actual state of supply/demand issues but until the balance is clearly in favor of one side or the other oil could keep trading in the range between $48.50 and $53.

The Oil Index fell today as well, losing about -1%. It looks like the index is falling back from the top of the 3 month trading range but has yet to break below the short term moving average. The average is currently supporting prices and pressuring them against resistance at the same time resistance is pushing down. One or the other will break, and soon. The indicators are bearish in the near term and consistent with a pull back from resistance. Over the short term, based on the bounce from the long term trend line in December and January, it looks like the index could be setting up to break above resistance. The indicators confirm support along the trend line and while bearish in the near term, are very weak and in a position to confirm the upward trend. I think it will come down to oil prices, if they go up, the index will go up, if they go down support could be broken. Resistance is 1,400 with support just below along the short term moving average near 1,375.

The Gold Index

Gold prices jumped today, adding over 1% to trade above $1210. The Fed's stance is one reason for the jump, physical buying in Asia another. Janet Yellens testimony builds on previous statements by giving firmer guidance of when rate hikes will come and yet remains vague, which has led to a renewed round of speculation. Just a few months ago the prospect of higher interest rates was one of the reasons gold bottomed, now the market thinks the hike may be later than previously expected and gold is climbing again. The exact date of the first hike is still an unknown but we can speculate based on what Yellen said in testimony over the past two days.

What I heard her say during the portions I watched was that the Fed was still patient, that there would be a change in the statement before the rate was raised, that the change in statement would signal the increase would come within a meeting or two, and that the change in statement itself could come over the next couple of meetings. Consensus now puts the hike in September but I think there is a chance it could come in June, if the statement is changed within the next two meetings that would leave two meetings until the change in rates. If the economy continues to pick up over the spring the scale could tilt in favor of a June rate hike. Today's Durable Goods is one indication that expectations for growth may not be misplaced.

The Gold Index gained over 1% in today's action and moved above the 30 day moving average. The index is bouncing off of potentially strong support and could be getting ready to move higher. Support is right around $20.50, consistent with the top of the range set by the Nov/Dec reversal. The move down to test support from the recent high near $23 is coincident with gold's pop to $1,300 and test of support at $1,200. Support looks strong at this time but may be tested again. The indicators are mixed but, assuming that the Nov/Dec bottom was a reversal, in line with an early trend following signal. MACD is still bearish but declining toward the zero line while stochastic is firing a weak trend following signal. A bounce could take the index up to $22.50 while a break of support could take it down to $17.50.

In The News, Story Stocks and Earnings

IBM hit the news early with an announced $4 billion in capital expenditures. The company is now planning to spend money to enhance its position in cloud computing, social media, internet security and mobile. The plan is to boost revenue from those sources from a current 27% to 40% of gross by the end of 2018. This is an aggressive target but needed in light of expected slowdown of other core businesses. Shares of the stock sank -1.25% on the news and are now sitting on long term support just above $160. The indicators are bullish but weakening so support is likely to be tested again, at least. A break below the short term moving average could take it lower.

Netflix releases House Of Cards tomorrow and is likely going to get a surge of renewals and sign ups. If you haven't watched it I can recommend it. The company is also likely to be affected by net neutrality laws when and if they are enforced. Shares of the stock surged more than1% to test the all time high.

Transocean reported today. The oil rig operator beat the street and will no doubt have an upward affect on overall S&P earnings growth for the quarter. EPS of $0.95 was well above consensus estimates near $0.80, 18% better than expected. The beat was driven by higher day rates for rigs as well as a reduction in costs. Guidance for the current year is roughly in line with estimates and helped support an early rally. Shares of the stock opened higher but fell under selling prices to move below yesterday's close. The stock is now trading just above the long term low and support at $15.

Gap Stores reported after the bell. The teen retailer beat on the bottom line by a penny with revenues in line with expectations. The company guidance for the coming year is in line with expectations but diminished by overshadowing issues related to the west coast port shut down and currency conversions in overseas markets. The results were good enough for the board to increase the dividend and initiate a share buy back program of $1 billion. Shares of the stock traded higher in the after hours market.

The Indices

The indices tread water just below the current highs, except for the NASDAQ Composite, which set a new high. Volume was light which may have had something to do with today's action. Another reason may be the tidal wave of economic data that is due out tomorrow and next week. There are a half dozen reports tomorrow, including the 2nd estimate for 4th quarter GDP, and another 2 dozen next week. It's the end of the month again which means another round of important macro-data including the NFP and unemployment figures.

The NASDAQ Composite gained 0.42% today, leading the market and coming within 13 points of 5,000. The tech heavy index is drifting higher on a wave of momentum that may be losing its force. The indicators are bullish but MACD continues to decline and stochastic is overbought. The index could continue to move higher into the near term. A brush against 5,000 may bring out the bears, at least for a test of the market if nothing else. The long term trend is up and I remain bullish but this index is extended and ripe for correction/pullback so I also remain cautious.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average is runner up but did not make a gain today. The blue chip index was able to poke its head into the green for a brief time but did not hold that level to the close. The index appears to be peaking and could pull back to support or continue to consolidate at the current highs. First support is the previous all time high just above 18,000 with the short term moving average next target and just below. The indicators are bullish, but MACD is weak and slowly edging lower while stochastic is high in the range and overbought in both the near and short terms. The index could keep drifting higher, in line with the trend, but there is enough evidence to warrant a little protection.

The S&P 500 closed with a loss -0.15% after falling as much as -0.25% in today's session. The broad market's dip took it down to just above 2,100, a possible target for support should a more pronounced pull back ensue. The index is pulling back from a new all time high with weak indicators so I suspect support will be tested even if the up trend continues. The indicators are similar to the other indices in that MACD is weak and edging lower toward the zero line and stochastic is overbought. These put the index in position to pull back but do not necessarily mean that it is happening tomorrow or at all. A break below 2,100 may find additional support near 2,090 and the below that near 2,075 and the 30 day moving average.

The Dow Jones Transportation Average brings up the rear. The transports are now moving down from the top of the three month trading range with indicators in support of that range. Bullish MACD has peaked and stochastic is making a bearish crossover while high in the upper signal zone, both supportive of a range. However, the long term trend is up and the index is also still supported by the short term moving average. The average could provide a spring board to higher prices and possibly break the index out of the range, if catalyst emerge. The catalyst could be economic data scheduled for tomorrow and next week. A break below the moving average could take the index down to the bottom of the range, near 8,550.

The major indices have all broken out to new highs this week, or are approaching them, and are now pulling back from those highs. The is being driven on the expectations of economic growth and profits in 2015. Those expectations are led by the data and we are on the cusp of one of the heaviest weeks of economic data in months. There are a lot of chances for news, headlines and near term emotions to move the market over the next week, lots of possible catalysts. This may explain why the market looks weak but it's not weak, it's waiting for the data, and the waiting is present in the charts. The charts are poised for a trend following signal, but also poised to pull back from a peak, depending on what the data tells us and that is what they are showing.

I expect to see a lot of volatility and reaction to data over the next week but I think it all needs to be kept in perspective. Some of the data, like tomorrow's GDP revision, is rear looking and some is more forward looking. Some of the data is still from the 4th quarter of last year and some of it is from this quarter and this year. We know that the 4th quarter was weak, a bad number will be a bummer but not as bad as if weakness is revealed in the current quarter. I'm still a bull, cautiously waiting for the data and what the market will do with it.

Until then, remember the trend!

Thomas Hughes

New Option Plays

Outperforming Its Peers

by James Brown

Click here to email James Brown


Cavium, Inc. - CAVM - close: 68.40 change: +1.19

Stop Loss: 64.95
Target(s): To Be Determined
Current Option Gain/Loss: Unopened
Average Daily Volume = 737 thousand
Entry on February -- at $---.--
Listed on February 26, 2015
Time Frame: 8 to 12 weeks
New Positions: Yes, see below

Company Description

Why We Like It:
Semiconductor stocks have been showing relative strength this year. The SOX semiconductor index is already up +4.3%. CAVM is outperforming its peers with a +10.6% gain.

If you're not familiar with CAVM, Investors.com described the company as "a specialty niche designer of network security processors 14 years ago" that has grown into "a mainstream player challenging the likes of Intel, Broadcom, and Freescale Semiconductor."

The company describes itself as "Cavium is a leading provider of highly integrated semiconductor products that enable intelligent processing in enterprise, data center, cloud and wired and wireless service provider applications. Cavium offers a broad portfolio of integrated, software-compatible processors ranging in performance from 100 Mbps to 100 Gbps that enable secure, intelligent functionality in enterprise, data-center, broadband/consumer and access and service provider equipment. Cavium's processors are supported by ecosystem partners that provide operating systems, tool support, reference designs and other services. Cavium's principal office is in San Jose, CA with design team locations in California, Massachusetts, India and China."

The last four quarterly earnings reports have been better than expected. CAVM has consistently beat analysts' estimates on both the top and bottom line. Revenue growth has slowly accelerated from +19.7% in Q1 2014, +22.2% in Q2, +23.6% in Q3, and +25% in Q4 2014.

CAVM's CEO Syed Ali is optimistic on 2015 saying, "This will be the single biggest year of new product introductions in our history."

Meanwhile analyst Christopher Rolland, with FBR Capital Markets, commented on the company, saying, "innovative design team, solid pipeline of new products and ability to increasingly tap into a fast-growing hyperscale customer base should provide a solid backdrop of growth for the next few years."

Wall Street expects CAVM revenue growth of +20% in 2015 and earnings growth of +26%. The point & figure chart is very bullish and forecasting a long-term target of $96.00. Technically shares spent the last few days consolidating sideways but today's display of relative strength is a bullish breakout. We are suggesting a trigger to buy calls at $68.75. (FYI: April and May options are not available yet so we chose June)

Trigger @ $68.75

- Suggested Positions -

Buy the JUN $75 CALL (CAVM150619C75) current ask $3.70

Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike

60-minute Chart:

Weekly Chart:

In Play Updates and Reviews

Markets Look Tired

by James Brown

Click here to email James Brown

Editor's Note:

Market pundits are suggesting the U.S. market looks tired. Another volatile day for crude oil, mixed economic data, and worries about earnings growth help produce another lackluster session.

HUM and UNH hit our stop losses today.

KORS hit our entry point to buy puts.

We have updated a handful of stop losses tonight.

Current Portfolio:

CALL Play Updates

Hanesbrand Inc. - HBI - close: 128.91 change: +3.83

Stop Loss: 124.45
Target(s): To Be Determined
Current Option Gain/Loss: +283.0%
Average Daily Volume = 800 thousand
Entry on February 03 at $114.14
Listed on February 29, 2015
Time Frame: Exit PRIOR to HBI's stock split on March 4th
New Positions: see below

02/26/15: The pre-split run up in HBI is accelerating. Shares added another +3.0% and almost tagged the $130 level. The stock is very short-term overbought. Readers will want to consider locking in profits now or selling part of your position (seriously consider it).

Tonight we are raising the stop loss to $124.45. I'm no longer suggesting an exit on Friday at the close. We'll try to ride this as long as we can but we will exit prior to the stock split next Wednesday. No new positions at this time.

Earlier Comments: February 2, 2015
How many stocks can you name that are up +400% in the last three years? HBI is in the consumer goods sector. They make apparel under a variety of brand names. Shares of HBI have been a big performer the last few years, outperforming the broader market.

According to the company, "HanesBrands, based in Winston-Salem, N.C., is a socially responsible leading marketer of everyday basic apparel under some of the world's strongest apparel brands in the Americas, Asia and Europe, including Hanes, Champion, Playtex, DIM, Bali, Maidenform, Flexees, JMS/Just My Size, Wonderbra, Nur Die, Lovable and Gear for Sports. The company sells T-shirts, bras, panties, shapewear, men's underwear, children's underwear, socks, hosiery, and activewear produced in the company’s low-cost global supply chain."

A good reason shares have been rising so consistently has been HBI's bullish guidance. Last year the company raised its earnings guidance three quarters in a row. Their most recent earnings report was January 29th (last week). HBI's Q4 results were $1.46 a share with revenues surging +20% to $1.55 billion. The bottom line number was two cents above estimates while revenues met estimates.

HBI said that 2014 was its second consecutive year of record results. Net sales rose +15% while its profit grew +28% and adjusted EPS soared +45%. Hanes Chairman and CEO Richard A. Noll commented on their results saying,

"We had another outstanding year in 2014, generating significant shareholder value and again achieving record results for sales, operating profit and EPS. We are in the midst of a multiyear period of strong growth supported by our powerful company-owned global supply chain, Innovate-to-Elevate product platforms, and acquisitions. Our guidance for 2015 translates into another year of double-digit EPS growth and what would be another record year for sales, profit and EPS, despite the challenges of currency exchange rates."

HBI's new guidance sees 2015 revenues in the $5.77-5.82 billion range. That's +9% growth but a little bit below Wall Street's estimates. HBI is forecasting earnings in the $6.30-6.50 range, which equals about +11% to +15% growth.

Management also raised its cash dividend +33% to $0.40 a share. On top of that they issued a 4-for-1 stock split. The split is coming up soon. HBI will start trading split adjusted on March 4th, 2015. We think HBI could see an old-fashioned split run.

Tonight we are listing a trigger to buy calls at $114.10. We'll start this trade with a stop at $109.90. Plan on exiting before the March 4th stock split date.

- Suggested Positions -

Long MAR $115 CALL (HBI150320C115) entry $3.21

02/26/15 new stop @ 124.45 (consider taking some profits now)
02/25/15 new stop @ 123.85
02/24/15 new stop @ 118.45
02/17/15 new stop @ 114.85
02/12/15 new stop @ 112.40
02/03/15 triggered @ 114.14 on an intraday gap higher. Suggested entry was $114.10
Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike

Honeywell Intl. - HON - close: 103.64 change: -0.75

Stop Loss: 102.85
Target(s): To Be Determined
Current Option Gain/Loss: -8.1%
Average Daily Volume = 3.0 million
Entry on February 12 at $103.05
Listed on February 10, 2015
Time Frame: 8 to 12 weeks
New Positions: see below

02/26/15: Momentum in HON seems to be fading. Shares could be headed back toward the $100 level or is trend line of higher lows (closer to the 100-dma). We don't want to endure that sort of decline so we're raising the stop loss to $102.85. No new positions at this time.

Earlier Comments: February 10, 2015
HON is in the industrial goods sector. Shares have managed to outperform its peers. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up +0.26% this year. The XLI industrial ETF is -0.3% for 2015. Yet HON is up +2.5% so far. That's not bad and it's not counting the stock's 2% dividend yield.

According to the company, "Honeywell (www.honeywell.com) is a Fortune 100 diversified technology and manufacturing leader, serving customers worldwide with aerospace products and services; control technologies for buildings, homes, and industry; turbochargers; and performance materials."

Earnings have been somewhat mediocre. Back in December HON lowered expectations for their fourth quarter results. When they finally reported Q4 results in January they managed to beat estimates by one cent with a profit of $1.43 a share, which is a +15% improvement from the year ago period. Revenues dropped -1.2% year over year at $10.27 billion but that still beat Wall Street's revenue estimate of $10.17 billion. HON's Q4 results were hurt by a -6% slowdown in their aerospace business but management is bullish that this segment will see strong growth going forward.

HON's Chairman and CEO Dave Cote commented on his company's results,

"In the fourth quarter, Honeywell delivered 4% organic sales growth and achieved 15% earnings per share growth (excluding the pension mark-to-market adjustment), exceeding the high end of our guidance range and capping off another year of terrific performance in 2014... Strong execution in our businesses and continued momentum across the portfolio throughout the year helped us to deliver on our aggressive 2014 sales, margin, and EPS targets. We achieved significant margin expansion in 2014 with benefits from our key process and productivity initiatives, and increased organic growth
Discussing their 2015 outlook the company said, "We remain cautious in our planning with regard to the global economy, but are confident that our balanced portfolio mix of short- and long-cycle businesses is well-positioned to deliver on our 2015 commitments that include higher organic sales, continued margin expansion, and double-digit earnings growth."

In an interview with Bloomberg, Mr. Cote sounded optimistic. He said, "For the first time in five years, I'm actually a little more bullish on where the global economy is going than economic forecasters are." Discussing the impact of crude oil on the economy, he said, "impact of lower oil prices is causing this major redistribution from oil-producing to oil-using economies, and those oil-using economies are quite large."

The market seemed unfazed by the company's cautious outlook. The stock actually rallied on its report. HON's recent strength has pushed shares to new all-time highs. The point & figure chart is already bullish and forecasting at $135.00 target. The P&F chart is also on the verge of a new triple-top breakout buy signal. Tonight we are suggesting a trigger to buy calls at $103.05

- Suggested Positions -

Long JUN $105 CALL (HON150619F105) entry $3.10

02/26/15 new stop @ 102.85
02/17/15 new stop @ 101.65
02/12/15 triggered @ 103.05
Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike

Illinois Tool Works - ITW - close: 99.31 change: -0.45

Stop Loss: 97.65
Target(s): To Be Determined
Current Option Gain/Loss: Unopened
Average Daily Volume = 1.8 million
Entry on February -- at $---.--
Listed on February 24, 2015
Time Frame: 8 to 12 weeks
New Positions: Yes, see below

02/26/15: ITW continues to churn sideways just below resistance at the $100.00 mark. Our suggested entry point is $100.25.

Earlier Comments: February 24, 2015:
ITW is in the industrial goods sector. The company employs almost 50,000 people and operates in 57 countries.

According to the company, "ITW is a Fortune 200 global diversified industrial manufacturer of value added consumables and specialty equipment with related service businesses. The Company focuses on solid growth, improving profitability and strong returns across its worldwide platforms and divisions. These divisions serve customers and markets around the globe, with a significant presence in developed as well as emerging markets. ITW's revenues totaled $14.5 billion in 2014."

ITW has several different business segments. These are: automotive (18% of total revenues, test & measurement and electronics (15%), food equipment (15%), polymers & fluids (13%), welding (13%), construction products (12%), and specialty products (14%). Management has managed to boost ITW's profits by selling off its slower-performing assets.

ITW turned in +29% earnings growth for all of 2014. Their most recent earnings report was January 27th. ITW saw Q4 earnings rise +28% to $1.18 a share, which was five cents above estimates. Revenues slipped -1.4% to $3.5 billion. Their profit margin improved 190 basis points to 19.6%. Organic sales growth was up +2.3%.

The company is guiding 2015 earnings in the $5.15-5.35 range (about +12%). They see revenues in the $14.19-14.35 billion zone. That's a -2% decline from 2014 due to foreign currency headwinds. They're aiming to boost their operating margin to 23% by 2017.

Investors didn't care that ITW's guidance was a little soft. The stock has been in rally mode ever since their Q4 report in late January. The last several days have seen shares of ITW break through resistance at $98.00. Today the stock is trading at all-time highs. The point & figure chart is bullish and forecasting at $116.00 target. We like ITW's relative strength and want to buy calls if shares can break through round-number resistance at $100.00. Tonight we are suggesting a trigger to buy calls at $100.25.

Trigger @ $100.25

- Suggested Positions -

Buy the Jun $105 CALL (ITW150619C105)

Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike

iShares Russell 2000 ETF - IWM - close: 123.25 change: +0.45

Stop Loss: 121.65
Target(s): To Be Determined
Current Option Gain/Loss: -2.0%
Average Daily Volume = 41 million
Entry on February 13 at $121.55
Listed on February 12, 2015
Time Frame: 10 to 12 weeks
New Positions: see below

02/26/15: The small cap IWM has now matched the NASDAQ's recent ten-day winning streak. Shares were up another +0.3% and look poised to keep climbing tomorrow. Will we see an 11th up day in a row?

Tonight we're moving the stop loss to $121.65.

Earlier Comments: February 12, 2015:
The IWM is the iShares exchange traded fund (ETF) on the small cap Russell 2000 index. The market rally in 2014 was mostly a large-cap affair. The S&P 500 index delivered a +11% gain and the small caps lagged behind with a +3.6% gain for 2014. That could change this year.

Small caps tend to see bigger moves, both up and down, than their larger-cap rivals. Right now the small caps are poised to breakout higher.

Many people look to the small cap index as a sentiment indicator for the broader market. The small cap Russell index has (about) 2,000 stocks. Compared to 500 in the S&P large cap index and only 30 stocks in the Dow Industrials.

Small cap companies in the Russell 2000 tend to be more U.S. focused so they're not encumbered by the strong dollar as much as the large cap global companies can be.

Right now the IWM is on the verge of breaking out past its all-time highs set in December (in the $121.40 area). Tonight we are suggesting a trigger to buy calls if the IWM can trade at $121.55.

We are not setting a target tonight but I will note that the IWM's point & figure chart is forecasting a long-term target of $154.00.

- Suggested Positions -

Long MAY $125 CALL (IWM150515C125) entry $2.50

02/26/15 new stop @ 121.65
02/17/15 new stop @ 119.65
02/13/15 triggered @ 121.55
Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike

Lear Corp. - LEA - close: 109.03 change: -1.42

Stop Loss: 106.75
Target(s): To Be Determined
Current Option Gain/Loss: -24.0%
Average Daily Volume = 771 thousand
Entry on February 24 at $110.65
Listed on February 23, 2015
Time Frame: 8 to 12 weeks
New Positions: see below

02/26/15: I am suggesting caution on our LEA trade. Shares broke down below $110 and its 10-dma. Looking at the last four days the move looks like a failed breakout (a.k.a. bull trap) pattern. I am not suggesting new positions. You may want to raise your stop loss tonight.

Earlier Comments: February 23, 2015:
Last year was a great one for the auto industry. According to Autodata we saw 16.5 million new cars and light trucks sold in the U.S. in 2014. That's almost one million more than 2013. The momentum continues.

Vehicle sales rose +11% in December 2014. That surged to +14% in January 2015 (from a year ago). Ford said their January sales were up +15% and General Motors reported +18% increase. Globally IHS Automotive is forecasting more than 88 million vehicles sold in 2015.

That means a lot of car seats need to be manufactured. LEA is in the consumer goods sector. They make auto parts. According to the company, "Lear Corporation (LEA) is one of the world's leading suppliers of automotive seating and electrical distribution systems. Lear serves every major automaker in the world, and Lear content can be found on more than 300 vehicle nameplates. Lear's world-class products are designed, engineered and manufactured by a diverse team of approximately 132,000 employees located in 34 countries. Lear currently ranks #177 on the Fortune 500. Lear's headquarters are in Southfield, Michigan."

Last year the company consistently beat Wall Street's earnings estimates. Their most recent earnings report (2014 Q4) was announced on January 30th. Net income soared from $72.8 million to $261.8 million (+259%). LEA's adjusted earnings per share rose +47% to $2.27. That was 19 cents above expectations. Revenues rose +6.9% to $4.55 billion, which also beat estimates. The boost was driven by a +10% surge in the sale of car seats.

Currently LEA expects 17.4 million automobiles will be manufactured in North America this year. That's a gain of about +3% from 2014. LEA does a lot of business in China and they estimate 22.9 million cars will be built in China. IHS automotive is estimating 25.2 million cars will be made in China in 2015. Considering the current pace of car sales, LEA is guiding 2015 revenues in the $18.5-19.0 billion range. That compares to current Wall Street estimates in the $18.65-18.99 zone.

Another factor driving the stock higher is an activist investor that suggested LEA split up to unlock shareholder value. This story hit on February 3rd and sent shares of LEA soaring. LEA management said they're always willing to listen to shareholders. LEA responded with a reminder that "Since 2011, Lear has returned more than $2.1 billion to shareholders in the form of share repurchases and dividends. Since 2010, Lear has achieved a total shareholder return of 203%, which is approximately double the return for the S&P 500 over the same time period. In 2014, Lear's total shareholder return of 22% outperformed the S&P 500's return of 14%. Building sustainable shareholder value is a foremost priority for Lear."

Two weeks later LEA followed that up with an announcement they were bumping their stock buyback program up to $1 billion. At the end of 2014 their stock repurchase program was down to $339 million. The Board of Directors also raised their quarterly cash dividend +25% from $0.20 to $0.25 a share.

Technically shares of LEA have been consolidating sideways for almost three weeks. That changed today. The stock has broken through resistance at the $110 level. Tonight we are suggesting a trigger to buy calls at $110.65.

- Suggested Positions -

Long JUN $115 CALL (LEA150619C115) entry $3.75

02/26/15 caution: today's decline could signal a failed breakout (potential bearish reversal) pattern.
Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike

L-3 Communications - LLL - close: 130.75 change: +0.32

Stop Loss: 126.20
Target(s): To Be Determined
Current Option Gain/Loss: -22.7%
Average Daily Volume = 925 thousand
Entry on February 20 at $131.50
Listed on February 19, 2015
Time Frame: 8 to 12 weeks
New Positions: see below

02/26/15: LLL eked out a gain today (+0.24%). The stock has spent the last few days consolidating sideways in the $130-133 area. Nimble traders could buy calls on a bounce from the $130.00 mark.

Earlier Comments: February 19, 2015:
Last year the S&P 500 index gained about +11%. Shares of LLL managed to outperform the big cap index with a +18% gain in 2014. That's in spite of the rocky earnings performance in recent quarters.

LLL describes itself as "Headquartered in New York City, L-3 employs approximately 48,000 people worldwide and is a prime contractor in aerospace systems and national security solutions. L-3 is also a leading provider of a broad range of communication and electronic systems and products used on military and commercial platforms. The company reported 2013 (revised) sales of $12.6 billion." They operate four business segments: aerospace systems, electronic systems, communication systems, and national security solutions.

In May 2014 the company reported mediocre earnings but raised their 2014 guidance. Results changed with their July 31st report. They missed the bottom line by 5 cents while revenues beat expectations. Yet LLL management lowered their guidance. The stock collapsed. You can see the big spike down as a result. After a choppy third quarter performance LLL reported earnings on October 30th. They barely beat the bottom line estimate by a penny while revenues missed. Management lowered guidance again but shares rallied in spite of the news.

Since that October report shares of LLL have been churning higher with a bullish trend of higher lows and higher highs. Their Q4 earnings results seem came in relatively healthy. Earnings were in-line with expectations at $2.27 a share. Revenues were down -0.8% from a year ago but their $3.21 billion in sales did come in above expectations. Slower sales to the U.S. were partially offset by rising sales to international clients. This is a significant trend in the defense industry as contractors try to replace sales they're losing with the U.S. government with international sales. Management offered cautious guidance for 2015 with earnings estimates in the $7.35-7.65 range, which is essentially in-line with Wall Street. However, LLL is forecasting revenues of $11.75-11.95 billion, which is above analysts' expectations.

The last several weeks have seen some bullish headlines for LLL. In early December the company announced an additional $1.5 billion stock buyback program through June 30, 2017. On February 10th LLL raised their quarterly dividend from $0.60 to $0.65.

Earlier this morning Bloomberg ran an article discussing the potential for M&A in the defense space. The U.S. defense budget peaked in 2010 and has been shrinking ever since. As more contractors fight for the same dollars it could spark some mergers. The Bloomberg article suggested that LLL could make some acquisitions and also suggested that LLL is a potential target from its larger rivals. Lately Wall Street loves all the M&A headlines with stocks soaring on these stories.

Another story this month is how the U.S. government is opening the door for more international sales of military drones to its allies. This is a opportunity for LLL. They make the satellite communication equipment necessary for the drones. LLL also makes the training simulators to operate drones.

Technically shares have been consolidating sideways under resistance at $130.00 for more than two weeks. Today's display of relative strength is also a bullish breakout past resistance. The point & figure chart is already bullish and forecasting a long-term target of $174.00. Tonight I am suggesting a trigger to buy calls at $131.50.

- Suggested Positions -

Long APR $135 CALL (LLL150417C135) entry $2.20

02/20/15 triggered @ 131.50
Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike

Mallinckrodt - MNK - close: 119.61 change: +3.46

Stop Loss: 113.95
Target(s): To Be Determined
Current Option Gain/Loss: -2.2%
Average Daily Volume = 1.4 million
Entry on February 23 at $118.75
Listed on February 21, 2015
Time Frame: 8 to 12 weeks
New Positions: see below

02/26/15: Shares of MNK rebounded from technical support at its rising 10-dma. The stock outperformed the market and its peers in the biotech space with a +2.9% gain. You may want to consider raising stops closer to $115 or yesterday's low.

Earlier Comments: February 21, 2015:
Healthcare and biotech stocks were big performers last year and that outperformance appears to be continuing into 2015. One stock that is really outperforming its peers is MNK. Shares delivered a +89% gain in 2014 and they're already up +18% in 2015.

MNK describes itself as "Mallinckrodt is a global specialty biopharmaceutical and medical imaging business that develops, manufactures, markets and distributes specialty pharmaceutical products and medical imaging agents. Areas of focus include therapeutic drugs for autoimmune and rare disease specialty areas like neurology, rheumatology, nephrology and pulmonology along with analgesics and central nervous system drugs for prescribing by office- and hospital-based physicians. The company's core strengths include the acquisition and management of highly regulated raw materials; deep regulatory expertise; and specialized chemistry, formulation and manufacturing capabilities. The company's Specialty Brands segment includes branded medicines such as OFIRMEV and Acthar; its Specialty Generics segment includes specialty generic drugs, active pharmaceutical ingredients and external manufacturing; and the Global Medical Imaging segment includes contrast media and nuclear imaging agents. Mallinckrodt has approximately 5,500 employees worldwide and a commercial presence in roughly 65 countries. The company's fiscal 2014 revenue totaled $2.54 billion."

MNK's global medical imaging business has fallen from about one third of the company's sales to about a quarter as the specialty pharmaceuticals business continues to grow. One reason for the growth is MNK's acquisition strategy. Last year they purchased Cadence Pharmaceuticals for $1.3 billion, which added Ofirmev to MNK's stable of therapies. MNK also spent $5.6 billion to acquire Questcor Pharmaceuticals. This added Questcor's Acthar gel to MNK's drug business.

MNK has been really delivering on the earnings front. Last August they reported their Q3 2014 numbers with revenues up +14.6% and earnings of $1.20, which was $0.35 above expectations. Management also raised their 2014 guidance. In October 2014 they raised their 2015 guidance. Then in November MNK announced their Q4 2014 results with revenues up +44.8%, above expectations, and earnings of $1.68 per share, which was $0.27 higher than estimated.

The revenue and earnings parade continued when MNK reported their Q1 2015 numbers on February 3rd. The company's profit more than doubled with earnings up +109% to $1.84 per share. That beat Wall Street's estimate by 26 cents. Revenues accelerated as well with +60% improvement to $866.3 million. However, this time analysts had ratcheted up their estimates to $885 million. MNK said their gross profit margin improved to 50.6% from 47.3% a year ago. MNK is currently forecasting 2015 numbers of $6.70-7.20 a share on revenues in the $3.65-3.75 billion range.

Mark Trudeau, Chief Executive Officer and President of Mallinckrodt, commented on their recent results,

"Mallinckrodt is off to a good start in fiscal 2015 driven by strong performance across all of our businesses. We achieved meaningful top- and bottom-line growth particularly in the Specialty Brands and Specialty Generics segments, increasing the proportion of total company net sales from specialty pharmaceuticals to over 75% in the quarter. The strategies we have pursued have gone far toward transforming us into a leading specialty biopharmaceutical company, and we are highly focused on maintaining momentum and expanding our portfolio to provide durable, sustained growth."
Investors appear to believe in MNK's growth story. The stock has a steady trend of higher lows and higher highs. Shares are currently hovering at all-time highs in the $115-118 range. We are suggesting a trigger to buy calls at $118.15.

- Suggested Positions -

Long APR $120 CALL (MNK150417C120) entry $4.60

02/23/15 triggered on gap open at $118.75, trigger was $118.15
Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike

ServiceNow, Inc. - NOW - close: 79.53 change: +0.50

Stop Loss: 73.90
Target(s): To Be Determined
Current Option Gain/Loss: +22.1%
Average Daily Volume = 1.1 million
Entry on February 05 at $75.15
Listed on February 04, 2015
Time Frame: 8 to 12 weeks
New Positions: see below

02/26/15: NOW spiked to a new high this morning. Shares tagged $81.24 at its best levels of the session. This stock is currently poised to post its sixth weekly gain in a row.

I'm not suggesting new positions at this time.

Earlier Comments: February 4, 2015:
Tonight we are looking at a company that saw its sales grow more than 60% last year. They're forecasting more than 40% growth in 2015. That company is cloud-based services ServiceNow.

NOW describes itself as "ServiceNow is changing the way people work. With a service-orientation toward the activities, tasks and processes that make up day-to-day work life, we help the modern enterprise operate faster and be more scalable than ever before. Customers use our service model to define, structure and automate the flow of work, removing dependencies on email and spreadsheets to transform the delivery and management of services for the enterprise. ServiceNow provides service management for every department in the enterprise including IT, human resources, facilities, field service and more. We deliver a 'lights-out, light-speed' experience through our enterprise cloud – built to manage everything as a service."

This company has been consistently guiding their earnings forecast higher. They've done it at least the last four earnings reports in a row. Their most recent earnings report was January 28th. NOW reported their Q4 results of $0.03 a share compared to a loss of 2 cents a year ago. Analysts were expecting a profit of 2 cents a share. Q4 revenues soared +58% to $198 million, which was above expectations.

Some of the highlights from their fourth quarter include billings up +62% year over year and up +34% quarter over quarter. Deferred revenues were up +20% for the quarter. NOW added 211 net new customers, bumping their total to 2,725. Their customer renewal rate was 97%.

NOW said their 2014 revenues soared +61% compared to 2013. Their backlog at the end of 2014 hit $1.4 billion. That's a +57% jump from a year ago. NOW's President and CEO Frank Slootman said, "We finished 2014 with strong metrics across the board, maintaining consistently high year-over-year growth rates. In addition to a growing list of new customers that now includes more than 25% of the Global 2000, we continue to see existing customers expand their relationship with us, resulting in the highest quarterly upsell rate since our IPO." NOW's CFO Michael Scarpelli said, "Within the Global 2000, annualized contract value per customer has increased 40% year-over-year. These expanding contracts have helped us grow our combined backlog and deferred revenue 57% year-over-year."

NOW offered bullish guidance. They expected Q1 revenues to grow +50% in the $207-212 million range compared to Wall Street's estimates of $202.4 million. NOW's 2015 guidance is forecasting revenue growth in the +41% to +47% range in the $960-1,000 million zone versus analysts' estimates of $948 million.

These strong numbers and the consistent growth makes them a popular candidate among Wall Street analysts. After NOW's most recent earnings report several analyst firms raised their price target on NOW's stock.

Technically shares have just recently broken out through major resistance near $70.00. The point & figure chart is bullish and forecasting a long-term target of $97.00. The last few days have seen shares consolidating sideways in the $70-75 range. Tonight we are suggesting a trigger to buy calls at $75.15.

- Suggested Positions -

Long MAY $80 CALL (NOW150515C80) entry $3.93

02/17/15 new stop @ 73.90
02/12/15 new stop @ 71.90
02/05/15 triggered @ 75.15
Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike

NXP Semiconductors - NXPI - close: 84.96 change: +0.06

Stop Loss: 83.25
Target(s): To Be Determined
Current Option Gain/Loss: -28.0%
Average Daily Volume = 3.7 million
Entry on February 12 at $84.15
Listed on February 11, 2015
Time Frame: 8 to 12 weeks
New Positions: see below

02/26/15: NXPI appears stuck in its $83.50-86.00 trading range. I'd wait for a rally past the February 13th high of $86.50 before considering new positions.

Earlier Comments: February 11, 2015:
According to Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook 2015 will be the year of Apple Pay. That's good news for NXPI. Apple launched its Apple Pay mobile payment system last September. In just the last four months it has taken off. About 8% of retailers already support it and estimates suggest that 38% of retailers will support Apple Pay by year end.

Tim Cook discussed the growth of Apple Pay in his company's recent conference call. Every $3 spent using mobile payments with Visa, Mastercard, and American Express, about $2 of that is used through Apple Pay. Panera Bread said that 80% of its mobile payment usage is through Apple Pay. Whole Foods noted that customers using mobile payments surged +400% once Apple Pay started.

All of this is good news for NXPI because they make the key chips necessary for Apple Pay to work.

The company describes itself as "NXP Semiconductors N.V. (NXPI) creates solutions that enable secure connections for a smarter world. Building on its expertise in High Performance Mixed Signal electronics, NXP is driving innovation in the automotive, identification and mobile industries, and in application areas including wireless infrastructure, lighting, healthcare, industrial, consumer tech and computing. NXP has operations in more than 25 countries, and posted revenue of $4.82 billion in 2013."

Earnings have been good. NXPI managed to beat Wall Street's estimates on both the top and bottom line the last five quarters in a row. Back in July NXPI raised their guidance. Influential hedge fund manager David Tepper, who runs Appaloosa Management, launched a new position in NXPI back in the third quarter of 2014. In early December shares of NXPI were upgraded with a $100 price target by Oppenheimer.

NXPI's most recent earnings report as February 5th. Revenues surged +18.9%. Management delivered bullish earnings guidance for the first quarter. Since this report at least four analyst firms have raised their price targets on NXPI (most of them into the mid $90s).

Today NXPI just hit all-time highs. The stock had been consolidating sideways in at $75-82.50 trading range. This breakout looks like an entry point. I'm suggesting a trigger at $84.15 to buy calls.

- Suggested Positions -

Long Apr $90 CALL (NXPI150417C90) entry $2.36

02/21/15 new stop @ 83.25
02/17/15 new stop @ 80.35
02/12/15 triggered @ 84.15
Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike

Starbucks Corp. - SBUX - close: 94.55 change: +0.29

Stop Loss: 92.85
Target(s): To Be Determined
Current Option Gain/Loss: +104.9%
Average Daily Volume = 5.1 million
Entry on February 10 at $90.25
Listed on February 05, 2015
Time Frame: 8 to 12 weeks
New Positions: see below

02/26/15: SBUX set another record closing high after a Jefferies analyst raised their price target from $97 to $108. The trend looks great but SBUX is overbought. We are raising our stop loss to $92.85.

I am not suggesting new positions at this time.

Earlier Comments: February 5, 2015:
The world seems to have an insatiable appetite for coffee. Starbucks is more than happy to help fill that need. The first Starbucks opened in Seattle back in 1971. Today they are a global brand with locations in 66 countries. SBUX operates more than 21,000 retail stores with more than 300,000 workers.

A few years ago Business Insider published some facts on SBUX. The average SBUX customer stops by six times a month. The really loyal, top 20% of customers, come in 16 times a month. There are nearly 90,000 potential drink combinations at your local Starbucks. The company spends more money on healthcare for its employees than it does on coffee beans.

The company's earnings results were only mediocre most of 2014 year. You can see the results in SBUX's long-term chart below. After incredible gains in 2013 SBUX has essentially consolidated sideways in 2014. The good news is that looks the consolidation is over.

Five-Year Plan

Late last year SBUX announced their five-year plan to increase profitability. Here's an excerpt from a company press release:

"The seismic shift in consumer behavior underway presents tremendous opportunity for businesses the world over that are prepared and positioned to seize it," Schultz said (Howard Schultz is the Founder, Chairman, President, and CEO of Starbucks). "Over the next five years, Starbucks will continue to lean into this new era by innovating in transformational ways across coffee, tea and retail, elevating our customer and partner experiences, continuing to extend our leadership position in digital and mobile technologies, and unlocking new markets, channels and formats around the world. Investing in our coffee, our people and the communities we serve will remain at our core as we continue to redefine the role and responsibility of a public company in today's disruptive global consumer, economic and retail environments."

"Starbucks business, operations and growth trajectory around the world have never been stronger, and we are more confident than ever in our ability to continue to drive significant growth and meet our long term financial targets," said Troy Alstead, Starbucks chief operating officer. "We have more customers visiting more stores more frequently, both in the U.S. and around the world, than at any time in our history. And we expect both the number of customers visiting our stores and the amount they spend with us to accelerate in the years ahead. With a robust pipeline of mobile commerce innovations that will drive transactions and unprecedented speed of service, Starbucks is ushering in a new era of customer convenience. We believe the runway of opportunity for Starbucks inside and outside of our stores is both vast and unmatched by any other retailer on the planet."

The company believes they can grow revenues from $16 billion in FY2014 to almost $30 billion by FY2019. To do that they will expand deeper into regions like China, Japan, India, and Brazil. SBUX expects to nearly double its stores in China to over 3,000 locations in the next five years

They're also working hard on their mobile ordering technology to speed up the experience so customers don't have to wait in line so long at their busiest locations. This will also include a delivery service.

Part of the five-year plan is a new marketing campaign called Starbucks Evening experience. The company wants to be the "third place" between home and work. After 4:00 p.m. they will start offering alcohol, mainly wine and beer, in addition to new tapas-like smaller plates.

The company recently launched its first ever Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room in Seattle, near their iconic first retail store. The new roastery is supposed to be the ultimate coffee lovers experience. CEO Schultz said they will eventually open up about 100 of these Starbucks Reserve locations.

SBUX is having a pretty good 2015 so far with the stock up +8.1%, outperforming the broader market. A lot of this gain was thanks to a post-earnings pop. SBUX reported its Q1 2015 results on January 22nd. Adjusted earnings, backing out one-time charges, were $0.80 a share. That's in-line with estimates. Revenues were up +13.3% to $4.8 billion, also in-line with estimates. Investors applauded the news anyway and sent SBUX soaring to new all-time highs the next day.

SBUX said their worldwide comparable store sales rose +5% while traffic only rose +2%. It was the 20th consecutive period that same-store sales were up +5% or more. It was a very strong holiday period for SBUX thanks in part to astonishing gift card sales. The amount of money loaded onto SBUX gift cards during the holidays surged +17% to a record $1.6 billion. One out of every seven Americans received a SBUX gift card. The company also saw significant growth overseas with its China and Asia-Pacific business soaring +85% to sales of $495 million. Their mobile transactions have reached seven million transactions a week.

SBUX's guidance was pretty lackluster but Wall Street didn't care. The company actually guided down for the Q2 2015 (current quarter) as they expect earnings in the $0.64-0.65 range. Analysts' were expecting $0.68 a share. SBUX also provided 2015 guidance of $3.09-3.13 versus Wall Street's estimate of $3.12. The company is still projecting 2015 sales growth of 16% to 18% as they see sales ramping up in the second half of 2015. They also updated their outlook on China as they plan to add 3,400 stores by 2019.

Investor sentiment on SBUX is bullish. Shares have not seen barely any profit taking following its post-earnings pop. Now, after two weeks of digesting gains, the stock is pushing higher and poised to breakout past resistance at $90.00. The point & figure chart is bullish and forecasting at $104.00 target.

Tonight we are suggesting a trigger to buy calls at $90.25 with an initial stop loss at $85.80.

- Suggested Positions -

Long Apr $95 CALL (SBUX150417C95) entry $1.03

02/26/15 new stop @ 92.85
02/21/15 new stop @ 89.40
02/12/15 new stop @ 87.85
02/10/15 triggered @ 90.25
Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike

Synaptics Inc. - SYNA - close: 85.11 change: +1.53

Stop Loss: 81.85
Target(s): To Be Determined
Current Option Gain/Loss: +27.7%
Average Daily Volume = 1.0 million
Entry on February 18 at $80.25
Listed on February 17, 2015
Time Frame: 8 to 12 weeks
New Positions: see below

02/26/15: SYNA has been another great performer. Shares outperformed the broader market today with a +1.8% gain. The stock is up 11 out of the last 12 trading days and about to post its sixth weekly gain in a row.

We are raising the stop loss to $81.85. You may want to raise your stop even higher or start taking money off the table. No new positions at this time.

Earlier Comments: February 17, 2015:
Technology stocks have taken a leadership role in the market this year. One tech stock that is showing relative strength is SYNA with a gain of +14.6% year to date. The company is a leading developer in the human interface solutions industry. Many consider the company a dominant force in the touch, display ICs and finger print sensing.

According to SYNA's marketing material, "Synaptics is the pioneer and leader of the human interface revolution, bringing innovative and intuitive user experiences to intelligent devices. Synaptics' broad portfolio of touch, display, and biometrics products is built on the company's rich R&D and supply chain capabilities. With solutions designed for mobile, PC and automotive industries, Synaptics combines ease of use, functionality and aesthetics to enable products that help make our digital lives more productive, secure and enjoyable."

SYNA had a roll in Apple Inc's (AAPL) iPhone 6 success. SYNA recently bought Renesas, the company that makes the LCD drivers for AAPL's iPhone 6 and 6+. Thus the tens of millions of iPhone 6s sold is a win for SYNA. We can see the impact in SYNA's earnings. The fourth quarter was HUGE for iPhone 6 sales.

In early December SYNA raised their revenue guidance for the fourth quarter (their 2015 Q2) from $415-450 million to $440-460 million. When SYNA reported earnings in late January they beat these raised expectations. Wall Street was looking for Q4 results of $1.22 a share on revenues of $449 million. SYNA delivered $1.46 a share with revenues soaring +125% to $463.7 million.

If that wasn't good enough SYNA management then raised their Q1 (their Q3) revenue estimates to $450-490 million compared to analysts' estimates of $422 million. Several analyst firms upgraded their price target on SYNA follow these results.

Traders should be aware that SYNA's relationship with AAPL might be in danger. A story surfaced on February 6th that AAPL was looking for other suppliers to fill LCD drivers to reduce their dependence on SYNA (and their Renesas business) as the only provider. Rumor has that rivals Himax, Novatek, and Parade Technologies are all vying for Apple's business.

Thus far shares of SYNA are not seeing much reaction to this rumor. Traders have been consistently buying the dips at SYNA's rising 10-dma. Now the stock is poised to breakout past resistance at the $80.00 level. The point & figure chart is bullish and forecasting a long-term target of $117.00. Tonight we are suggesting a trigger to buy calls at $80.25.

- Suggested Positions -

Long JUN $85 CALL (SYNA150619C85) entry $5.95

02/26/15 new stop @ 81.85
02/18/15 triggered @ $80.25
Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike

Zimmer Holdings - ZMH - close: 121.33 change: +0.81

Stop Loss: 117.75
Target(s): To Be Determined
Current Option Gain/Loss: +2.3%
Average Daily Volume = 1.0 million
Entry on February 20 at $120.75
Listed on February 14, 2015
Time Frame: 8 to 12 weeks
New Positions: see below

02/26/15: ZMH briefly dipped below round-number support at $120.00 before bouncing back. Shares eventually settled with a +0.6% gain, outperforming the broader market. This bounce can be used as a new entry point or as an alternative you could wait for a breakout past $122.00.

Earlier Comments: February 14, 2015:
A large chunk of the developed world is old and getting older. The demographics in the United States, Europe and Japan show an aging population. Even China is seeing a rise in its older citizens. This means big business for the orthopedic market, especially for products like hip and knee replacements. ZMH is poised to become the number one player in hip and knee medical devices with its current merger plans to Biomet.

ZMH is part of the healthcare sector. The company describes itself as "Founded in 1927, and headquartered in Warsaw, Indiana, Zimmer designs, develops, manufactures and markets orthopedic reconstructive, spinal and trauma devices, dental implants, and related surgical products. Zimmer has operations in more than 25 countries around the world and sells products in more than 100 countries. Zimmer's 2014 sales were approximately $4.7 billion. Zimmer is supported by the efforts of more than 9,000 employees worldwide."

Looking at last year's earnings ZMH's performance was mixed but they seemed to be improving. The company beat expectations in both the third and fourth quarter. ZMH reported its Q4 results on January 29th. Earnings per share hit $1.71, which was one cent above estimates. Revenues were down -1.4% to $1.22 billion. That missed estimates of $1.24 billion. Part of that miss was due to currency fluctuations. One the plus side ZMH did say gross margins improved 188 basis points to 74.4% in the fourth quarter.

ZMH management also raised their Q1 guidance. Wall Street was expecting 2015 Q1 earnings of $1.52 a share. ZMH just guided to $1.58-1.60 a share. Following its Q4 report and new and improved guidance several analyst firms have either upgraded or raised their outlook on ZMH. Many of the new price targets are in the $130-150 range. FYI: the point & figure chart is forecasting a long-term target of $169.00.

Right now the focus for ZMH is its merger with Biomet, a private company in the orthopedic space. Biomet was going to go public again last year but in April 2014 they agreed to a merger deal with ZMH. Shares of ZMH soared on the news. The deal is valued at $13.35 billion. It's the fifth largest medical device merger in the last ten years.

This merger is important to ZMH because competition is heating up in the $45 billion orthopedic market. The cost savings of the merger are expected to save $135 million the first year and hit $270 million by the third year. The deal is also accretive to ZMH. Biomet saw strong sales last quarter in its spine and bone-healing business.

The combined company will have about 40% of the hip replacement market and about 33% of the knee implant market. That puts them at the top of the list for these two niches. Overall the post-merger ZMH will be second in the orthopedic market behind Johnson & Johnson (JNJ).

It's important to note that this deal has not yet been approved by regulators. The European Union antitrust committee just announced they will render a decision by May 26th. ZMH believes the deal will be approved in the first quarter of 2015.

Technically shares of ZMH have a long-term bullish trend of higher lows and higher highs. The stock just had a mini-correction with a pullback from $120 to $111 in January. Shares have since recovered. Now ZMH is breaking out past short-term resistance near $118 and is headed for its all-time highs set last month in the $120.70 area. We are suggesting a trigger to buy calls at $120.75.

- Suggested Positions -

Long JUN $125 CALL (ZMH150619C125) entry $4.40

02/20/15 triggered @ 120.75
Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike

PUT Play Updates

Michael Kors - KORS - close: 67.89 change: -0.67

Stop Loss: 70.65
Target(s): To Be Determined
Current Option Gain/Loss: +0.0%
Average Daily Volume = 3.9 million
Entry on February 26 at $67.90
Listed on February 25, 2015
Time Frame: 8 to 12 weeks
New Positions: see below

02/26/15: Our new put play on KORS is open. Shares continued to sink and hit our entry trigger at $67.90. I would still consider new bearish positions at current levels.

Earlier Comments: February 25, 2015:
Luxury retail brand names like KORS and Coach (COH) have seen their stocks get crushed over the last several months. Shares of KORS were big performers for the bulls the first two plus years from its late 2011 IPO. Unfortunately the stock peaked in 2014. Investors worried about over exposure and slowing growth.

According to the company, "Michael Kors is a world-renowned, award-winning designer of luxury accessories and ready-to-wear. His namesake company, established in 1981, currently produces a range of products through his Michael Kors and MICHAEL Michael Kors labels, including accessories, footwear, watches, jewelry, men’s and women’s ready-to-wear and a full line of fragrance products."

Make no mistake, KORS is still growing. Last August they reported a strong earnings report that beat on both the top and bottom line. While management guided lower short-term they raised guidance for 2015. A few months later when KORS reports earnings in November 2014 they beat estimates again with revenues soaring +42% and KORS announced a $1 billion stock buyback program. However, their outlook on 2015 had tarnished a bit and they lowered comparable store sales growth from the high teens to mid teens.

KORS most recent earnings report was February 5th. Earnings per share grew +32%. Their results of $1.48 per share beat estimates by 15 cents. Revenues grew +30.9% to $1.26 billion but that actually missed Wall Street estimates thanks to foreign currency issues.

What troubles investors is the slowdown in KORS' growth. Globally their comparable store sales grew +8.6%. Most companies would probably be excited for that number. Yet analysts were expecting +12.6%. The slowdown appeared to accelerate in North America. Same-store sales plunged from +24% growth to +6.8%. KORS is also facing margin pressure with both gross margin and its operating profit sliding.

KORS management will tell you that the company is doing great and just reported its 35th quarter in a row of same-store sales growth. However, the number crunchers on Wall Street will point out that it was the first time in five years that same-store sales growth did not rise by double-digit percentages.

A big concern among analysts is that KORS could be losing its appeal because it's growing so fast. Last year they added 114 new stores and ended 2014 with 509 retail locations. They're starting to become too common. KORS is losing its cachet.

Management also lowered their guidance for Q4 (current quarter) to $0.89-0.92 a share versus estimates of $0.94. They also see revenues below expectations.

This concern over slowing growth has produced a bear market in the stock. KORS is definitely not participating in the market's rally. Tonight we are suggesting a trigger to open bearish positions at $67.90.

- Suggested Positions -

Long May $65 PUT (KORS150515P65) entry $2.10

02/26/15 triggered @ $67.90
Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike


Humana Inc. - HUM - close: 163.35 change: -2.02

Stop Loss: 162.85
Target(s): To Be Determined
Current Option Gain/Loss: +35.9%
Average Daily Volume = 1.1 million
Entry on February 20 at $155.75
Listed on February 17, 2015
Time Frame: 8 to 12 weeks
New Positions: see below

02/26/15: HUM is finally starting to see some profit taking after its recent rally to new highs. Shares hit our new stop loss at $162.85 today.

- Suggested Positions -

MAY $160 CALL (HUM150515C160) entry $6.40 exit $8.70 (+35.9%)

02/26/15 stopped out
02/25/15 new stop @ 162.85
02/24/15 new stop @ 158.25
02/23/15 new stop @ 152.45
02/20/15 triggered @ 155.75
Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike


UnitedHealth Group - UNH - close: 113.66 change: -0.39

Stop Loss: 113.45
Target(s): To Be Determined
Current Option Gain/Loss: +71.1%
Average Daily Volume = 4.2 million
Entry on February 04 at $108.25
Listed on February 03, 2015
Time Frame: 8 to 12 weeks
New Positions: see below

02/26/15: UNH continued to slip from its recent high and shares hit our stop at $113.45 late this afternoon. Our play is closed but I would keep UNH on your watch list. A dip toward its rising 40-dma or 50-dma may be a new entry point.

- Suggested Positions -

MAR $110 CALL (UNH150320C110) entry $2.46 exit $4.21 (+71.1%)

02/26/15 stopped out
02/24/15 new stop @ 113.45
02/23/15 new stop @ 111.85
02/21/15 new stop @ 107.75
02/17/15 new stop @ 106.85
02/04/15 triggered @ 108.25
Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike