Option Investor

Daily Newsletter, Tuesday, 3/22/2016

Table of Contents

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

Market Wrap

Market Not a Focus Today

by Jim Brown

Click here to email Jim Brown

The equity market barely reacted to the Brussels news and volume was very light. There was an almost total absence of stock news in the headlines.

Market Statistics

The morning terrorist attack monopolized the headlines all day and even earnings from Dow component Nike after the close was hardly a blip in the news stream. Given the five weeks of market gains, a lack of a negative reaction to the attacks was positive. For three days now, the market has consolidated without a major move. Monday's intraday range was the narrowest for 2016. Monday's volume was the lowest of the year at 6.16 billion shares and today was even lower at 6.12 billion. The Dow has paused right at downtrend resistance so a lack of a decline is bullish.

In the economic news, the Richmond Fed Manufacturing Survey exploded out of a prolonged slump with a reading of 22 for March. This was the highest reading since December 2010. That compares to -4 in February. New orders surged from -6 to +24. Analysts cautioned that such a big rebound after five years of mostly lackluster readings could be an error in the survey. However, other regional surveys have also been improving.

The separate Richmond Services Survey rose from -2 to +9 to erase most of the -12 decline from January to February.

The calendar for the rest of the week is highlighted by the GDP on Friday, New Home Sales on Wednesday and the Kansas Fed survey on Thursday. The market is closed on Friday for Good Friday.

The Dow Transports were down slightly on the terrorist attack because of the drop in the airline sector. The Transports were only down about 0.8% and that is very minimal after a +1,500 point rally since the January lows.

Negative reactions to Monday's earnings included G-III Apparel (GIII). Shares fell -19% after the company posted a 17-cent profit and analysts were expecting 42 cents. Revenues rose +2.5% to $527.4 million that also missed estimates for $566.4 million. The company blamed weak performance on warm weather but that excuse has been used up. The CEO said the outerwear business was "heavily affected by the warmest winter on record" and that weakness was fully responsible for the poor results.

The company guided for the full year to earnings of $2.55-$2.65 and well below analyst estimates for $3.14. I like G-III for the future. They just signed some new marketing deals that will give them a big upside but it will be next year before those brands are fully implemented. I would look for a dip to $40 for a long-term buy. Some of their dozens of brands include Calvin Klein, Kenneth Cole, Tommy Hilfiger, Guess, Jessica Simpson, Ivanka Trump, Alyssa Milano, etc.

The ExOne Company (XONE) reported a loss of 8 cents after the bell but that beat estimates for a loss of 16 cents. Revenue rose +2.7% to $16.2 million and beat estimates for $14.89 million. Backlog at the end of the period was $16.5 million. XONE develops and markets 3D printing machines. Shares rallied 7% in the regular session to a nine-month high at $12.96 then added another 60 cents after the report.

Five Below (FIVE) reported earnings that beat the street by a penny at 77 cents. Revenue of $326 million also beat estimates for $323 million. The guided to current quarter revenue of $186-$188 million and analysts were expecting $187.8 million. They forecasted earnings of 9-10 cents and analysts were expecting 10 cents. Shares declined -5% in afterhours after a -1.6% decline in the regular session.

Krispy Kreme Doughnuts (KKD) reported earnings of 22 cents that beat estimates for 20 cents. Revenue rose 4% to $130.4 million but missed estimates for $131.4 million. Same store sales rose +1.6% but fell short of estimates for 2.9% growth. For the current year they expect to earn 87-91 cents and below consensus of 92 cents. They increased their stock buyback program by $100 million. Because of the low guidance shares declined from the $15.38 close to $14.17.

Red Hat (RHT) reported earnings of 52 cents that beat estimates for 47 cents. Revenue of $544 million beat estimates for $537 million. This was the 56th consecutive quarter of revenue growth. However, Red Hat guided for the current quarter to earnings of 50 cents and revenue of $558-$566 million compared to 44 cents and $481 million in the comparison quarter. That looked good on the surface but analysts were expecting 50 cents and $554.6 million. They met the estimates but shares fell -$2.50 to $73.10 in afterhours. On the positive side, the company said order backlogs were $2.13 billion a 15% increase year over year.

The big dog after the close was Dow component Nike (NKE). The company reported +22% earnings growth of 55 cents compared to estimates for 48 cents. Revenue rose 8% to $8.0 billion but missed estimates for $8.2 billion. Nike said revenue would have been up +14% on a constant currency basis. That would have been $8.65 billion. Margins rose from 45.5% to 45.9%. Future orders rose +17% on a constant currency basis. That beat estimates for 13.4% growth. Future orders from China rose +36%.

Nike guided for full year revenue growth of high-single to low-double digit percentages and low-teens earnings growth. Analysts were looking for 15% earnings growth and 10% revenue growth. Shares dropped from $65 at the close to $61 in afterhours. I am a Nike believer. I would be looking for a buying opportunity in the $58-$60 range. They are doing over $8 billion a quarter in sales, just introduced several new models, are riding the March Madness wave and have strong momentum headed into the summer Olympics. I believe they lowered their estimates because of the currency issues. How many other companies are reporting growth like this?

A federal jury in California has ruled in favor of Merck (MRK) and against Gilead Sciences (GILD) over a patent for a Hepatitis C drug. Merck accused Gilead of infringing on Merck's patents it had filed over a decade ago and claimed Gilead's Sofosbuvir infringed on those patents. Merck is seeking billions in damages and royalties on sales of both of Gilead's Hep-C drugs. Sofosbuvir is the active ingredient in Gilead's Sovaldi and also a component in Harvoni. Those two drugs produced revenue of $19.1 billion for Gilead last year. A month ago, a judge made the same ruling and the jury verdict today means the trial will move into the damage phase to determine how much Gilead owes Merck.

There is another battle under way to determine if Pharmasset, a company Gilead bought for $11 billion in 2011 to get the rights to Sovaldi, used Merck's patents to develop that drug. Gilead claims Pharmasset was working on Sofosbuvir a year before Merck filed the patents. Gilead had originally filed suit seeking to declare the Merck patents invalid. Gilead shares declined -$4 in afterhours. I would expect them to decline further.

Crude oil defied gravity once again. The April futures contract expired at the close on Monday. The May contract became the front month at $41.50 and in theory that contract should have seen selling at the open this morning to bring it in line with the expired price. Obviously, that did not happen and crude traded up to $41.90 before fading at the close.

The headline that lifted prices was a comment from Saudi Arabia saying they would take part in a production freeze even if Iran were not part of the agreement. Previously several OPEC nations had said they would not participate unless Iran was forced to participate.

In reality, this changes nothing. Iran wanted a 4.0 mbpd production cap when they are only producing 2.6 mbpd today. That would allow them to hike production 1.4 mbpd under the "freeze" agreement. Obviously, that was not a freeze. If Iran does not sign the agreement, they will still boost production so nothing has changed. There is no fundamental reason for oil prices to be this high. It is strictly headline spam. The OPEC nations have figured out they can raise the price of oil simply by creating meaningless headlines.

After the close today, the API reported an inventory build for the week ended on Friday of 8.796 million barrels. If the EIA report on Wednesday confirms this number it is simply more proof that a fake freeze agreement will be worthless.


The markets are holding up well given the five weeks of gains. The very low volume is somewhat bullish because it suggests there is no distribution in progress. Distribution is what happens at market tops when holders of large positions begin to sell off those positions in a calm and orderly manner to the investors that believe the market is still going higher. During a distribution phase, the volume rises but the markets do not. New investors are fighting an abundance of supply.

For instance, McDonalds (MCD) has rallied to its prior high of $124. If a fund owned 20 million shares they would tank the stock if they put in a sell order that large. Instead they put in a slow succession of smaller sell orders of 10-20,000 shares, sometimes with a limit price of say $123.75 and just under the high. As shares are sold, they are replaced with new sell orders. The market absorbs the volume because a lot of investors are expecting higher highs. The selling fund is "distributing" their shares to thousands of willing buyers. In the case of McDonalds there have been a couple days of higher volume so there may be some distribution occurring there.

We are not seeing that increase in market volume that would suggest there is any distribution in progress. In fact, the lack of volume suggests the current holders of equities are not willing to sell. Market sentiment is bullish because the major indexes have not yet reached those major resistance levels I have laid out in recent weeks.

The S&P appears to be stuck at 2,050 and downtrend resistance. Since the much stronger resistance levels begin around 2,075 this pause for consolidation may actually give the index the power to reach that higher resistance band. I am not convinced since the S&P has stalled here for the last four days but the lack of any material profit taking is definitely bullish.

The rebound in the biotech sector has been a major factor in support of the S&P and the gains in the Nasdaq. The Biotech Index ($BTK) has rallied +9.4% in the last four days after dipping to 2,705 on Thursday. This is a major rebound BUT there is also major resistance at 3,000. A break over 3,000 would be very bullish and could spark a significant rally in the S&P, Nasdaq and Russell 2000.

The Dow has also rebounded to just below downtrend resistance and appears to be consolidating for a move higher. The lack of any material selling, even with the terrorist attacks, suggests the next move could be higher. Nike will be a drag on the index at Wednesday's open with about a -25 Dow point impact. Falling oil prices could be another negative if the EIA inventories are very high and traders decide they care.

The Nasdaq continues to fight resistance at 4,806 but closed well over that level at 4,831 today thanks to the biotech rebound. The Nasdaq has succeeded in defeating the 100 and 150-day averages with the 200-day at 4,860. The Nasdaq has not been reactive to the moving averages so that is really just smoke we have to ignore. The key level ahead is 4,926 and then 5,100. Support is well back at 4,715.

The Russell 2000 is currently fighting psychological resistance at 1,100. There is no recent resistance in that level but it has definitely been a factor. The index has stalled there for three consecutive days. There is clear support at 1,078 and 1,064 and resistance at 1,108 and 1,120.

If the biotech rebound continues and oil does not decline, a couple big "IFs" the Russell could break out of that 1,100 level and try to move higher but like the other indexes the resistance only gets stronger the higher it goes.

While I do not see indications of a big sell off in the immediate future, I am still concerned that the path to higher levels is paved with some significant resistance. The S&P has not moved more than 1% in a single day in the last seven days. That is actually a positive because it means the market forces are evenly balanced. If we can continue moving higher at this snail's pace the rally has a much better chance of continuing. Sudden large moves tend to trigger profit-taking events.

Typically, the market is higher heading into the Easter weekend. We have not had a lot of success with historical trends in recent months but hopefully this one will return.

Enter passively, exit aggressively!

Jim Brown

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New Option Plays

Moving to the Cloud

by Jim Brown

Click here to email Jim Brown

Editors Note:

Businesses moving to the cloud are in the news every day. Some store their data there and others operate out of the cloud. Autodesk is following other software vendors including Microsoft and Adobe are ending direct one time sales of their software in favor of monthly subscriptions that lock in revenue as long as the consumer continues to use their software.


ADSK - Autodesk -
Company Description

Autodesk operates as a design software and services company worldwide. Their software is used to design buildings, design equipment, machines, products, etc. The software is licensed directly and through a network of resellers. Autodesk goes beyond 3D imaging and allows 3D printing of the design using the Moldflow process in the software.

Autodesk is the premier software of this type in the market today. There are competitors but Autodesk is the largest by far. Competitors are Adobe, Ansys Inc and Dassault Systems. Mattel announced in February it was introducing 3D toy printing at home with the "Thingmaker" in cooperation with Autodesk.

In February the company said it was going to lay off 10% of its workforce or about 925 jobs as it transitioned to the cloud.

Shares collapsed with the market in January but began to rebound in February after the cloud announcement. The company said revenue will increase long term because the cloud model is subscription based. In Q4 they added 190,000 subscribers to the cloud product.

They reported adjusted Q4 earnings of 21 cents compared to estimates for 10 cents. Revenue of $648 million beat estimates for $636 million. They guided for a loss of 12-17 cents for Q1 on revenue of $500-$520 million because of their restructuring process. They are taking an $85 million charge for the layoffs. As part of the movement to the cloud they are going to end sales of their software suite that was previously sold direct by Autodesk and by resellers. That willdepress revenue in the short term but increase it significantly in the long term.

By the end of 2017 they are going to terminate all the existing "perpetual licenses" and force current users into the cloud model. Apparently "perpetual" means different things to different people.

Autodesk had been under fire from two activist shareholders and they resolved that last week when they added three directors to the board. Sachem Head and Eminence Capital agreed to certain standstill and voting provisions to get the board seats. Joining the board are Scott Ferguson from Sachem, Rick Hill, chairman at Tessera Technologies and Jeff Clark, CEO at Kodak.

Shares rallied on the news of the new board members are appear ready to break over current resistance at $58 to retest the December highs at $65.

With a ADSK trade at $58.75

Buy May $60 call, currently $2.85, initial stop loss $54.25.


No New Bearish Plays

In Play Updates and Reviews

Future Attack Weakness

by Jim Brown

Click here to email Jim Brown

Editors Note:

The major indexes struggled higher early in the session despite the Brussels attack. Late in the afternoon, the wall-to-wall coverage finally pushed the Dow lower. Considering the five weeks of gains this was actually a strong session. The Biotech sector posted another nice rebound and that held up the Nasdaq and kept the Russell 2000 from declining more than a point.

There may be some post attack weakness in the coming days depending on what happens in the currency markets. The transports could be weaker because of a decline in airlines. After the close tonight a portion of the Denver airport was closed because of an undisclosed threat. With security around the world on a heightened basis the headlines could remain negative.

I am recommending we go ahead and enter the bearish SPY position. The SPY has stalled at initial resistance at 205 for the last four days. Given the headlines it may not make it higher to our $207 entry point. I am recommending we buy some puts here and then add to them if we reach $207 and again at $210.

Current Portfolio

Current Position Changes

SHAK - Shake Shack

The long put position was opened with a trade at $33.80 today.

Profit Targets

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

Stop Loss Updates

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

BULLISH Play Updates

AKAM - Akamai Technologies -
Company Description


Not a material move but still creeping higher to close at a four-month high.

Original Trade Description: February 26th.

Akamai Technologies provides cloud services for delivering, optimizing and securing online content for business applications on the internet. They are best known for their download delivery solutions for games, videos and audio files.

One of the things Akamai is famous for is archiving web content in centralized data centers geographically located to reduce the time and bandwidth needed to view those files. If you have a website that is visited by millions of viewers, Akamai can continuously monitor that website for changes and then replicate those changes in multiple locations so that viewers near those locations experience fast load times. For instance, a company in Kansas may have a high volume website viewed by people around the world. Akamai can replicate that website in cloud data centers in Los Angeles, New York, Miami, Dallas, London, etc, so a viewer close to one of those locations can get an immediate response time rather than having to pull the content from Kansas where bandwidth and server limitations could slow the response. If you have a million viewers a day all hitting the Kansas server from all over the world the lag time is going to be terrible.

Akamai also offers security solutions for web-hosted content thereby reducing infrastructure costs and increasing productivity.

Akamai reported Q4 earnings of 72 cents that easily beat estimates for 62 cents. Revenue of $579 million also beat estimates for $567 million. They announced a $1 billion buyback of 12.5% of their outstanding shares. CEO Thom Leighton said he was purchasing $10 million personally. The company guided to Q1 earnings of 61-64 cents and analysts were expecting 62 cents. Revenue is expected to rise +8%.

Performance and security revenues rose +16.4% to $286 million as demand for the cloud security products increased. Service and support revenues rose +17.8% to $46 million. Cash flow from operations was $218 million or 38% of revenue. Cash at the end of the quarter was $1.5 billion.

Akamai shares rallied 17% after the earnings on February 10th and reversed a four-month decline. Share barely consolidated after the spike and are continuing higher. Shares inched over resistance at $54.85 on Friday and could be poised to make a new leg higher.

Earnings are April 26th.

I am recommending an entry if AKAM traded at $55.75 and just over the Friday high of $55.55. Shares appear to be consolidating that post earnings run and the intraday ranges have been shrinking, which suggests the buyers are gaining ground.

Position 3/2/16 after an AKAM trade at $55.75

Long April $57.50 call @ $1.63, See portfolio graphic for stop loss.

AOS - AO Smith - Company Description


Minor decline. Still holding its gains. We are only $2 away from the exit target.

Target $77.65 for an exit.

Original Trade Description: February 18th.

A.O. Smith manufacturers water heaters and boilers for distribution around the world. They also sell water treatment systems that are in high demand in emerging market economies.

They reported earnings last week of 90 cents that beat estimates for 85 cents. Revenue rose +2% to $639.4 million but missed estimates because of weakness in the housing sector in the USA. North American sales declined -3.9% to $413.7 million.

However, operating earnings rose +37.2% to $92.2 million because of higher pricing, higher overall demand and lower steel costs. Overall segment revenue of $1.7 billion rose +5%. This was due to higher commercial demand for boilers.

Sales in the rest of the world rose +14% to $232 million. That was powered by a 15% increase inwater heater demand, water treatment and air purification products in China. That is definitely a country that needs water treatment and air purification.

Very few companies are successful in selling to China but AO Smith is one of them.

The company bought back 329,000 shares in Q4 leaving 2.59 million to buy under the current buyback program. The company had $324 million in cash at the end of the quarter.

They guided for 2016 to earnings of $3.40-$3.55, which would be a 10% growth rate in earnings. They kept the 15% growth rate target for China in 2016.

Earnings are April 29th.

The stock bottomed on the January 19th market crash and had been moving steadily higher. The market took it lower again to retest that bottom on February 9th. Resistance is currently $70 followed by $79 from the December highs. I am recommending we enter a long call position with a trade at $70.45.

Position 2/23/16 with an AOS trade at $70.45

Long April $75 call @ $1.88. See portfolio graphic for stop loss.

CRM - SalesForce.com - Company Description


CRM posted a decent gain in a weak market after they announces Neelie Kroes, a former European Commissioner, will be appointed to the board on May 1st. This appointment will increase the size of the board to 12 members.

Original Trade Description: March 14th.

Salesforce.com provides enterprise cloud computing solutions, with a focus on customer relationship management to various businesses and industries worldwide. They provide an entire menu of applications tailored to various industries with an emphasis on sales force automation and customer resource management.

The last six analysts ratings changes have been upgrades with four new analysts initiating coverage with a buy. Salesforce is growing quickly with revenues growing 24% in 2015 to $6.67 billion. Subscription and support revenues rose to $6.21 billion and accounted for 93% of all revenue. These fees continue from quarter to quarter and should continue growing.

Morgan Stanley said customer demand for applications software was expected to remain quite strong and Salesforce.com was positioned to make the most of this development.

The Salesforce.com CEO said sales efforts to enterprise customers were becoming more time consuming because of the greater complexity of the large enterprises but once sold they became very profitable long term assets. Once a large enterprise invests in Salesforce.com and trains its thousands of employees there is a huge inertia factor that prevents them from leaving. That subscription revenue becomes repeatable for a long time.

These longer sales and implementation cycle means that Salesforce.com has a lot of delayed revenue that it will recognize in future quarters in addition to the current revenue for those quarters. This is the equivalent of a snowball rolling down hill. Future revenue is growing even though it is not readily apparent. In Q4, the company reported deferred revenue of $4.29 billion and its unbilled deferred revenue was $7.1 billion.

For Q4 Salesforce reported earnings of 19 cents that matched estimates but revenue of $1.81 billion beat estimates for $1.79 billion. The company guided higher for 2016 and shares rose 8% on the news.

The next earnings are May 18th.

Shares moved sideways from the earnings spike for three weeks and are just now starting to move higher. Given a positive market, I think they will retest the highs in the weeks ahead.

I am recommending the May $75.00 call even though it is a little farther away from the money and slightly more expensive than the April $72.50 call. With only 32 days left in the April cycle we are reaching the point where premium decay will accelerate. If we hit a soft patch in the market the April premiums may not have time to recover. The May premium will cover the earnings on May 18th so when we exit before earnings there will still be some expectation built into the premium.

Position 3/14/16

Long May $75 call @ $2.75. See portfolio graphic for stop loss.

DLPH - Delphi Automotive - Company Description


Nice rebound from Monday's dip. Company is presenting at the Bank of America Auto Summit on Wednesday at 12:15 ET.

Original Trade Description: March 5th.

Delphi manufacturers vehicles components and provides electrical and electronic, powertrain and safety technology solutions to the automotive and commercial vehicle markets worldwide. Whether you are buying a new car or repairing an old one the odds are very good you are using Delphi parts.

Vehicle sales in February were 17.54 million units on an annualized basis. As we move farther into spring and summer those numbers are going to rise sharply. Cheap gas means consumers are going to buy more new cars and upgrade their rides to the SUV category when possible.

Delphi reported earnings of $1.39 and beat consensus estimates for $1.37. Revenue of $3.88 billion rose +11% and also beat estimates for $3.79 billion. The company guided for full year earnings of $5.80-$6.10 and revenue of $16.6 to $17.0 billion.

Shares rallied after earnings and broke through resistance at $68 last week to close at $71.53. The next significant resistance is $77.25. Earnings are April 28th.

I am recommending we buy the May $75 calls at $2.40 so there will still be some earnings expectation premium in them when we exit before earnings. April options expire on the 15th so premiums will deflate significantly before we ever get to the earnings event. I am recommending an entry point at $72.50 and just over Friday's high. If the market does take profits early in the week we can lower the strike price and entry target depending on what happens to Delphi shares.

Position 3/17/16 with a DLPH trade at $72.50

Long May $75 call @ $2.50. See portfolio graphic for stop loss.

EMR - Emerson Electric - Company Description


Another encouraging day by EMR with another minor gain to a new 9 month high.

Original Trade Description: March 3rd.

While you may not have heard about Emerson Electric they have 110,800 employees and are involved in many different aspects of the economy. They design and manufacture products and deliver services to industrial, commercial and consumer markets worldwide. They specialize in process management valves, meters, switches, regulators and digital plant applications.

A major segment is providing infrastructure, power, uninterruptible power systems, thermal management equipment and integrated solutions for large datacenters and cloud computing installations. They handle climate control, heating and cooling, electrical control monitoring and management.

They reported earnings for Q4 of 56 cents that beat estimates for 51 cents. Revenue of $4.713 billion beat estimates for $4.642 billion. However, revenue was down -16% because of the recession in the energy sector. The CEO said, "Lower oil prices continued to apply downward pressure on oil and gas spending, particularly upstream projects, as well as power generating alternators used in upstream applications."

Shares declined sharply but began to rebound almost immediately. The company plans to spin off its network power business later this year, which will downsize revenue by about $8 billion. They are restructuring to lower costs until the energy sector recovers and are selling noncore assets to reduce complexity. Investors liked the plans that were presented.

The company also declared a 47.5 cent quarterly dividend which produced a 4% yield at the time it was announced.

Their next earnings are May 3rd.

Emerson has resistance at $50.50 and it broke through that level on Thrusday. The next material resistance would be well above in the $60 range with a speedbump at $52.50. I am recommending we buy the June $52.50 call and plan to exit well before earnings. By purchasing the June call it will still have earnings expectations in the premium when we exit before earnings.

Emerson is somewhat of a slow mover so the options are cheap thereby limiting our risk.

Position 3/4/16

Long June $52.50 call, entry $1.60, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

JWN - Nordstrom - Company Description


Nordstrom declined again after Piper Jaffray downgraded the retailer from overweight to neutral on Monday.

Original Trade Description: March 17th.

Nordstrom is a fashion specialty retailer offering apparel, shoes, cosmetics and accessories for men, women and children in the U.S. and Canada. They have a growing online presence as well as the Nordstrom Rack discount stores. They have a private label credit card through Nordstrom FSB, a federal savings bank and two Nordstrom Visa car offerings. As of February they operated 323 stores in 39 states in addition to Canada and Puerto Rico. The company was founded in 1901.

This is a really strange bullish recommendation since 61% of analysts (19 out of 31) have a hold rating and three have a sell rating as of February 22nd. So far in March two new analysts have initiated coverage with a sell rating. The consensus price target is $52.75 and shares closed today at $58.22.

Apparently investors are ignoring the analysts ratings because they think they have it wrong. With all of those negative ratings there are probably a lot of shorts that are cussing as each day goes by with another gain.

The analysts with buy ratings claim Nordstrom's mix of brick and mortar stores and online websites as well as their chain of discount and clearance stores will power the earnings higher in the months to come. Cowen & Company said "Going forward, we believe leveraging Nordstrom's unique multi-channel approach should benefit the top-line given that multi-channel customers spend three-to-four times more than other customers." Stifel wrote, "We do believe that Nordstrom is a market share gainer in what will likely prove to be a contracting market for apparel sales. With its best-in-class omnichannel experience, outstanding customer service and compelling merchandise assortments, both broad and deep, we believe Nordstrom can be a winner despite the more challenging environment.

In late February the company reported earnings of $1.17 and revenue of $4.19 billion that missed estimates for $1.22 and revenue of $4.22 billion. However, revenue did increase 5.2% and same store sales rose +1%. They guided for full year 2016 for revenue to rose 3.5% to 5.5% and earnings in the range of $3.10 to $3.35. Analysts were expecting $3.37. Nordstrom said the weak sales were the result of acquisition expenses, the strong dollar deterring tourist sales and the weak holiday season.

Shares fell to $46 on the news. However, that was the bottom and shares have only been down four days since those earnings. The close today at $58.22 was above strong resistance at $57.75. Since then they have declared a quarterly dividend of 37 cents payable on March 22nd to holders on March 7th.

Earnings May 12th.

I am recommending this as a breakout play with today's close over resistance at $57.75 and the next material resistance at $67. However, just to be cautious I am putting an entry trigger on the play at $58.75. I have been burned several times lately by one day wonders that spike slightly over resistance only to fall back again for a week or two.

Position 3/18/16 with a JWN trade at $58.75

Long July $62.50 call @ $1.83, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

KR - Kroger - Company Description


Still clinging to the $38 level in a choppy market. No reason to exit yet. We have a July option.

Original Trade Description: March 11th.

Kroger is a retail grocery chain with $108 billion in sales in 2014. In Q3, 2015 their same store sales comps rose +5.4% without factoring in gasoline. They have recently been adding service stations to their offerings. They operate 2,774 supermarkets, 148 with in store clinics, 786 convenience stores, 1,330 fuel centers and 326 Fred Meyer jewelry stores in the USA. In all they have more than 161.3 million square feet of operated retail space. They have 37 food-processing plants, 27 dairies, 6 bakeries and 36 distribution centers.

While most people know them as a grocery store they are much more. They operate those grocery stores under many name brands, more than two dozen, as a result of the acquisition of regional chains. They also operate multi-department stores like a small Walmart or Target.

They have more than 422,000 employees and operate in 34 states. They filled 175 million prescriptions in 2014 worth over $9 billion. Kroger earned $3.223 billion in profits in 2014.

Where Kroger is kicking butt is their new organic product lines. They are significantly cheaper than Whole Foods Markets (WFM), Fresh Market (TFM) and Sprouts Farmers Markets (SFM). They are able to compete with Walmart on organics and private label brands because they own their own food processing and distribution centers. They have dozens of store brands than encompass nearly every isle in the stores from frozen pizzas, vegetables, fruit, toilet paper, snack chips and salsa to a complete customer deli in their larger stores. Their private label organic produce covers 60% of their produce department. Their Simple Truth Organic brand is now the largest natural food brand in the USA.

While Kroger has been outperforming the other grocery and fresh food stores their shares took a hit in early January when a division president, Lynn Gust, president of the Fred Meyer division retired after 45 years. He started out as a package clerk in 1970 and rose up through the ranks to be named president and then led the division to more than $10 billion in annual sales.

At the same time Credit Suisse lowered their rating on Kroger because of deflation risks. The deflation risk means prices for products are going to continue lower. However, I view that as a positive. Kroger's costs are going down but the price of their products do not have to go down in lock step. This is a profit opportunity for Kroger. The analyst also said fuel prices will eventually rise and that will take money out of consumer's pockets. Since that will happen across the board to all grocery stores it makes sense to own the one that is making money on gasoline with their 786 convenience stores regardless of the prices.

Shares declined from $43 in early January to $36 on the Feb-11th crash. This is long-term support and shares were very oversold. In a previous play we bought the dip in February and rode the stock back up to $40.35 and exited before earnings in early March.

In the March earnings Kroger reported earnings of 57 cents compared to estimates for 54 cents. Revenue rose +4% to $26.2 billion and narrowly missed estimates for $26.3 billion. Sales excluding fuel rose +7%. Same store sales rose +3.9% but that was less than the 4.0-4.5% they had predicted in January. Kroger said shifting the Super Bowl into February hurt sales for the quarter ended January 31st. Warmer weather and fewer snow storms also hurt because people stock up on food ahead of storms but shop as normal in regular weather.

The retailer said they expect earnings to rise 6-11% in 2016 to $2.19-$2.28 per share. Same store sales are expected to rise 2.5-3.5%. This is lower than 2015 because of lower inflation.

Investors were not happy with the earnings because most never look at the details and only read the one sentence headline to make their decisions. Shares declined from $40.50 to $36.50 to give us another entry point at support.

I believe Kroger will make a new high this time. Earnings are well out in the distance on June 16th and that will allow us to buy a longer dated option and give it time to mature. Kroger is a slow mover so we need time for it to grow. With support at $36 dating back to the August crash it should be a relatively safe position.

Position 3/14/16:

Long July $40 call @ $1.55, no initial stop loss

N - NetSuite - Company Description


Minor decline but holding over $66. No news.

Target $68.85 for an exit.

Original Trade Description: February 19th.

NetSuite provides cloud based financials/enterprise resource planning (ERP) and omnichannel commerce suites in the U.S. and internationally. They also offer customer relationship management (CRM) and professional services automation (PSA). NetSuite OneWorld manages various companies or legal entities across multiple countries with different currencies, taxation rules and reporting requirements.

NetSuite reported adjusted earnings on January 28th of 5 cents compared to expectations for 4 cents. Revenue of $206.2 million rose +33% and beat estimates for $205 million. They reported several new accounts including Snapchat, American Express Global Business Travel and Lucky Brand to name a few. They added 616 new customers in the quarter and replaced SAP in 17 accounts. Recurring revenues rose +30% and now make up 80% of revenue. Nonrecurring revenue of $41.7 million rose +34%. They ended the quarter with $379 million in cash.

Revenue for 2016 is expected to rise 28-31% with earnings growing 80% to 100% to a range of 40-45 cents.

NetSuite was upgraded by Canaccord Genuity from hold to buy after earnings.

Not many companies are growing annual revenue by 30% and earnings by 100%. This is NOT Tableau software but it was punished for Tableau's weakness.

Earnings are April 21st.

Position 2/22/16 with a trade at $56.50

Long April $60 call @ $2.40, see portfolio graphic for stop loss

NTAP - NetApp - Company Description


Decent rebound in a weak market. The stock continues to creep higher but resistance at $27 has been a fight.

Original Trade Description: March 11th.

NetApp provides software, systems and services to manage and store computer data worldwide. They provide data protection and data management for virtualized, shares infrastructures, cloud computing and business applications. Their hot product is a storage area network (SAN) that is all flash memory and not spinning disk drives. This delivers super high performance without the mechanical delays and hardware problems associated with disk drives.

JP Morgan is going to host a moderated "Tech Talk" at 10:AM ET on Tuesday regarding the new SolidFire all-flash array architecture. NetApp acquired SolidFire for $870 million in cash in December in order to increase penetration into the high speed storage market. SolidFire was named the "All-Flash Systems Product of the Year" by Storage Magazine in late February.

NetApp reported Q4 earnings of 70 cents that beat estimates by 2 cents. However, that was down slightly from the year ago quarter. They announced a restructuring program to reduce costs as they focus development on the new SolidFire products. NetApp said they were cutting about 1,500 of their 12,810 employees. They guided for current quarter earnings of 55-66 cents that was below estimates for 72 cents. They expect to take some significant charges on their restructuring effort.

Shares crashed on the earnigns news to $21 but the press has been kind to NetApp and share have rebounded to $27 over the last four weeks. I expect shares to continue to rise to initial resistance at $31 and possibly a new high at $35. The momentum is increasing on the NTAP rebound.

Earnings May 25th.

Position 3/14/16:

Long May $28 call @ 99 cents, no initial stop loss.

OA - Orbital ATK - Company Description


Still fighting resistance at $83 and the decline was only 14 cents. Once it moves over resistance at $82.85 we should be in good shape.

Original Trade Description: March 19th.

Orbital ATK was created in 2015 by the merger of Orbital Sciences and Alliant Techsystems. The company develops and produces aerospace, defense and aviation related products for the U.S. Government, allied nations, prime contractors and other customers in the U.S. and internationally.

The currently have a contract to convert the four segment Space Shuttle Solid Rocket Booster into a five segment booster for the new Space Launch System that will carry astronauts back into space. They are working on a new rocket booster to replace the boosters the U.S. is currently buying from Russia. They also develop satellites for commercial, scientific and security applications. They also produce the Cygnus spacecraft that delivers cargo to the International Space Station and returns with completed experiments.

The Defense Systems Group provides tactical missiles, defense electronics and medium to large caliber ammunition, fuzed warheads, etc. The Flight Systems Group produces the Pegasus, Minotaur and Antares launch vehicles.

One of their newest projects is the Mission Extension Vehicle or "space tug." When an existing satellite develops a problem and engineers believe it can be repaired, the space tug would go get the satellite and push it towards the International Space Station where it can be repaired and the tug would then push it back into orbit where it belongs. Since these satellites cost from hundreds of millions to billions of dollars each, having the capability to repair them would save a lot of money.

Sometimes the satellite has simply been active for so long that its orbit has degraded. The space tug would attach itself to the satellite and then lift it back into an orbit that would give the old satellite several more years of useful life. Then the tug would disconnect and repeat the process with a different satellite. The tug could also push dead satellites into a descending orbit where they will burn up reentering the atmosphere. That would essentially remove the trash from what is becoming an increasingly crowded orbital space. The first space tug is expected to have enough fuel to keep it active for up to 15 years. They plan to launch 5 by 2020 and with dozens of very expensive communication satellites running low on fuel every year, it will be a very profitable venture. Clients are already entering into discussions on how the tug can help their satellites.

These are just some of the hundreds of thing Orbital ATK has in the works. They were also named a subcontractor on Northrop's new $120 billion B-21 stealth bomber program.

In early March Orbital reported earnings of $1.45 that beat estimates for $1.09. Revenue of $1.137 billion beat estimates for $1.11 billion. Order backlogs were over $13.5 billion. They guided for the full year to earnings of $5.25-$5.50. Shares crashed from $87 to $74 the next day after they filed a statement with the SEC saying the financial statements covering the Q2-Q3 in 2015 were not accurate due to an accounting error that occurred when the two companies merged. It was a non-cash error covering long-term contracts that were accounted for using different accounting methods in each company. There was no material impact from the restatement but shares always crash when an "accounting error" is disclosed.

After two weeks, shares began to rise again one the smoke cleared. Shares hit resistance at $82.60 on Friday and pulled back only slightly. I am recommending we buy a breakout over that resistance with a target at $90.

Earnings May 30th.

Position 3/21/16 with an AO trade at $82.80

Long May $85 call @ $2.80, initial stop loss $76.15.

PII - Polaris Industries - Company Description


Minor decline and holding the gains but we still need to move over $100 soon to stimulate new buying.

Target $105.85 for an exit.

Original Trade Description: February 25th.

Polaris makes off road vehicles, snowmobiles and motorcycles. They compete with Arctic Cat and have 8,100 employees. They are about four times larger than ACAT. They had some earnings issues from the lack of snow but their motorcycle business helped smooth out the rough spots. The company reduced guidance in December and shares declined from $96 to $68 by late January.

In Q4 sales declined -20% because of the lack of snow but also because of the oil recession. They sell a lot of off road equipment to oil field workers and they are not buying today. When oil field workers are employed they make a lot of money with starting wages in the $70-$80K range when times are good so there is a lot of extra cash floating around. Retail sales in oil regions were down -10% in Q4.

However, despite the lack of snow and a rough Q4 the company still managed to increase sales for 2015. That is impressive when snowmobile sales declined -25%. We have had some significant snowstorms in 2016 so that snowmobile inventory is probably shrinking in Q1.

Motorcycle sales rose +43% in Q4 so there is a bright side to warm weather and no snow. Sales in that division were up +74% for the full year.

Polaris is the number one off road vehicle manufacturer in the U.S. and are expecting a better 2016 with most of the growth in the second half.

Earnings are April 26th.

Shares are about to break over resistance at $89, market permitting. I am recommending the April $95 calls currently $2.00 on a breakout.

Position 2/26/16 with a PII trade at $89.50

Long April $95 call @ $2.15, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

PKG - Packaging Corporation of America - Company Description


Another solid move in a weak market. No news.

Target $64.25 for an exit.

Original Trade Description: March 7th.

PKG manufactures and sells containerboard and corrugated packaging products in the US, Europe, Mexico and Canada. They produce shipping boxes, display packaging and protective packaging. They also produce packages for meat, fresh fruit, processed food, beverages and other industrial and consumer products. They also produce papers for the office environment and for specialty printing. They are the fourth largest producer of containerboard and corrugated packaging in the USA.

They reported earnings of $1.08 that beat estimates for $1.03. However, revenue of $1.39 billion missed estimates for $1.42 billion because of the strong dollar. For the full year profit was $4.47 to give them a current PE of 12.

The company announced an additional $200 million stock buyback program at the end of February. They bought back 1.7 million shares in the last 5 months of 2015 and 1.9 million shares YTD in 2016. The company said its "substantial operating cash flow" gave it an "excellent opportunity" to continue buying back its stock and return value to shareholders.

They also announced a 55-cent quarterly dividend payable April 15th to holders on March 15th which equates to a 4% yield.

Next earnings are April 25th.

After reporting earnings the shares rebounded from a sector downgrade on IP in January. PKG has rebounded from $45 to $54 and could continue higher to as much as $65 before hitting significant resistance.

With recent economic reports suggesting the economy is improving slightly this might be the right time to speculate in companies that will profit from a summer recovery.

Shares dipped slightly on Thursday after hitting as 6-week high on Wednesday. This gives us an opportunity to buy a close to the money option relatively cheaply. There is no entry trigger.

Position 3/11/16:

Long April $55 call @ $2.20, no initial stop loss.

QSR - Restaurant Brands Inc - Company Description


Another minor retracement from Friday's 5 month closing high. Only an 11-cent drop. No news.

Original Trade Description: March 7th.

QSR is the new name for the Burger King and Tim Hortons brands. Both have been serving customers for more than 50 years. QSR currently operates more than 19,000 restaurants in 100 countries with more than $23 billion in sales. The name change and rebranding came a year ago when Burger King bought the Tim Hortons chain.

QSR has been flying under the radar for the last year with all the news about McDonalds all day breakfast and Starbucks expanded menu. They reported earnings of 35 cents that beat estimates of 31 cents.

Same store sales rose +5.6% at Tim Hortons and 5.4% at Burger King.

Burger King sales are accelerating because of a flood of new menu items. They have Chicken Fries, which are fries dipped in fried chicken batter and fried. They have Jalapeno Chicken Fries. On February 23rd they introduced the Whopper Hot Dog. This is a foot long hotdog flame grilled and served with whatever you want on them.

Burger King received tons of free press when the new hot dog was delivered. Some food aficionados are calling the hot dog a "culinary calamity." Others called is a "disgusting disgrace" but customers are waiting in line to order them.

Franchisees claim the demand has been "overwhelming" and while only a couple weeks old they are selling over 100 a day and rising rapidly as more customers realize they are available. Americans eat more than 20 billion hotdogs a year.

Earnings are May 27th.

QSR shares are currently $37.85 and a breakout over resistance at $37.65 is in progress. I am recommending we buy the April $39 call, currently $1.10, and plan on exiting at $41 if that higher level of resistance slows the rally.

Position 3/9/16 with a QSR trade at $38.15

Long April $39 call @ $1.15. See portfolio graphic for stop loss.

BEARISH Play Updates (Alpha by Symbol)

SHAK - Shake Shack - Company Description


A very minor gain in Shack of a nickel and the down trend has not been reversed.

Original Trade Description: March 21st.

Shake Shack owns, operates and licenses Shake Shack restaurants in the U.S. and internationally. The currently operate more than 50 domestic stores and 30 international stores. The stock started off with a bang because the majority of their stores in early 2015 were in the Northeast and traders and investors were familiar with the brand. Shares rocketed to a market cap of about $2 billion despite only having about 50 stores at the time.

After topping out at $97 in May of 2015 shares have fallen to just over $30. The bloom is off the rose and the brand has become just another hamburger stand with plenty of competition from stores like Five Guys, an improved McDonalds, an aggressive Burger King, Jack in the Box with its Qdoba Mexican unit, Good Times, Wendy's, etc.

The reported earnings in early March and shares dropped -17% even though they beat earnings and revenue estimates. The problem came from guidance. They forecast same store sales for all of 2016 of 2.5% to 3.0% growth compared to 13.3% growth in 2015. Analysts have lost the love for the SHAK. There are ten analysts that follow the stock. Only one has a buy rating, 7 have hold ratings and 2 have sell ratings. The consensus price target has declined to about $35, which is where it is trading now.

Even worse eight insiders combined to sell more than $30 million in shares last week with officers and directors dumping a lot of their shares. With a PE of -52 the stock is not growing its fundamentals.

Earnings May 12th.

Position 3/22/16 with SHAK trade at $33.80

Long the May $32.50 put @ $2.60, initial stop loss $36.75.

SPY - S&P 500 ETF - ETF Description


SPY is stalling at $205 and may not get to our $207 target level. I am recommending we go ahead and enter the trade at the open on Wednesday and then add to it when/if the SPY trades up to $207.


Original Trade Description: March 16th.

All good things must come to an end. The market appears poised to rally and produce a new leg higher. However, there is serious resistance starting at 2,075 on the S&P and continuing through 2,100. The odds are very slim that a rally will make it through that resistance ahead of the earnings cycle and assuming earnings for Q1 are as bad as the guidance we have been getting then it is even more likely the market rolls over into the "Sell in May" cycle.

Nobody can accurately pick turning points in the market on a routine basis. There are far too many things that can push and pull the indexes but at critical resistance levels we can normally anticipate at least a little reaction to those levels.

The S&P has strong resistance beginning at 2,078, which equates to $208 on the SPY. That resistance runs from 2,078 to 2,105 or roughly $211 on the SPY. I am proposing we buy puts on the SPY starting at $207 with a stop loss at $213.

The S&P may never hit those levels or it could hit them next week. The close after the Fed decision was 2,027, which means it would still have to rally 50 points to hit our initial entry point. Once it reaches that level it will have rebounded for +268 points and would be extremely overbought when it reached that 2,078 level. That makes it even more likely it will fail when it gets there.

I am going to recommend the June $200 puts. They should cost about $4 when the SPY reaches the $207 level. I want to use June because we may not reach that resistance for a couple weeks, if at all, and once we do hit that level I want to be able to profit from any sell in May decline.

This position could go for several weeks without being triggered and there is a good chance we will not get to play it with numerous analysts calling for a failure at 2,040 and 2,050 along the way. There are analysts calling for a retest of the 1,900 level this summer with some projecting significantly lower levels. If you look hard enough you can probably find someone projecting targets a couple hundred points higher or lower than the ones discussed.

Morgan Stanley's Adam Parker slashed his price target for the S&P from 2,175 to 2,050 yesterday. Most of the major banks are in the 2,050 to 2,100 range so the expectations for a major rally from here are pretty slim.

Buy June $200 put, currently $4.59, initial stop loss $213.

If the market continues higher I plan on adding to that position at $207 and again at $210.

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