Option Investor

Daily Newsletter, Wednesday, 6/8/2016

Table of Contents

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

Market Wrap

Creeping Higher

by Thomas Hughes

Click here to email Thomas Hughes


The indices are creeping higher as fears of FOMC rate hike recede. According to the Fed Watch Tool there is now only a 2% chance of a June hike. This, along with surging oil prices and a weakening dollar are helping to support the indices despite the World Bank's reduced 2016 global growth outlook, last week's less than tepid NFP report and the prospect of another quarter of negative earnings growth.

Yesterday the World Bank lowered its 2016 global growth forecast by a half percent to 2.4%. The reason, “sluggish growth in advanced economies, stubbornly low commodity prices, weak global trade, and diminishing capital flows”. This news hit Europe hardest, down roughly -0.75% in today's session, but also took a toll on the Asian markets. Futures trading here at home did not seem affected, buoyed instead by rising oil prices. WTI crossed the $51 level in early trading, setting a new 2016 high.

Market Statistics

Futures indicated a flat to positive open all morning. Aside from the World Bank report and oil prices there was little in the way of actual news to impact trading. The S&P 500 opened the session with a gain of 0.58, points not percent, and quickly moved up to test resistance levels near 2,120. An early high was set within the first half hour of trading, at resistance, followed by a quick retreat to near the opening level and choppy sideways trading from there until late afternoon. Shortly after 2:30 most of the indices were able to work themselves up to the highs of the day or slightly higher. For the SPX this means a touch to my resistance line at 2,120.25 where resistance once again it held the bulls at bay.

Economic Calendar

The Economy

Two bits of economic data today, the mortgage index and the JOLTs report. The mortgage index showed a surprise gain of 9.3% from last week, possibly due to a marginal decline in interest rates or rebound from the slump seen the week before Memorial Day.

The JOLTs report continues to support the idea of labor market health, despite low job creation in May. The number of openings was "little changed" according to the report, but up nearly a half million jobs to a new all time high. This news is completely contradictory to a headline I saw this morning stating that large numbers of job seekers have quit looking for jobs. To that I say... those people may not be finding the job they really really want but there are plenty of jobs available, just look on Craigslist where MILLIONS of jobs are listed daily. The real problem is a growing skills gap, which I see employers complaining of more and more.

Within the JOLTs report the number of hires fell to 5.1 million, but is still near historic high levels, and the quits rate remains steady, also trending near historic high levels. Trades, transportation & utility and durable good manufacturing jobs led with the largest number of new openings, more than 150,000 combined.

There is very little data left this week, jobless claims and wholesale inventories the big two, but there is a lot of data due out next week. Before the FOMC announcement we'll get retail sales, business inventories, PPI and industrial production, all of which will play into economic and FOMC outlook. Following the announcement we'll get CPI, more jobless claims, Philly Fed, housing starts and building permits, all of which will play into economic and FOMC rate hike outlook. Basically, next week has a lot of potential to be a make or break week for the market.

The Dollar Index

The Dollar Index fell again. Today's action shaved another -0.35% in a move that looks set to test support near the $92.50 level. The indicators are both bearish and pointing lower, consistent with this outlook. MACD is on the rise and may gain momentum into the end of the week, beginning of next week, while we wait on the FOMC meeting. The risk between now and then is in the data, of which there is very little, and the FOMC itself, who knows which member will come out with comments to move the market. A move below support targets is not likely, unless the FOMC statement next week is too dovish and leads the market to believe a rate hike will be put off further.

The Oil Index

Oil prices surged this morning to levels not seen since last October on global supply disruptions. WTI crossed the $51 mark but had a hard time holding the level as current supply/demand issues persist. The weekly US inventory data showed a -3.2 million barrel draw down, in line with expectations, but other data shows rising production and storage levels. Gasoline storage levels rose by 1 million barrels, distillates rose by 1.8 million barrels and US production rose by 100,000 BPD. Gasoline and distillates levels may come down over the summer driving season, but with production on the rise supply of oil in general is likely to remain very high. Oil prices may continue to rise, momentum is to the upside, but I am very wary.

The Oil Index has finally broken out of its congestion band and is moving higher. It has not yet set a new high to match the price of the underlying commodity but it is getting closer. Today's action took the index up about 0.25% to hit the 1,170 resistance line, where resistance was present and capped gains. The indicators are on the rise, consistent with rising prices and a likely continued testing of resistance. With oil prices on the rise as well, a break of resistance is very possible. If so a move up to 1,200 or possibly 1,250 looks likely in the near term. If oil prices fall from their new high the index is sure to follow, first target for support is near 1,120 and short term moving average.

The Gold Index

Gold prices are reacting favorable to diminished FOMC rate hike out look. The spot price jumped 1.35% to hit a two week high. While this move has upward momentum and is likely to reach recent resistance levels near $1290/$1300 further upside is uncertain. The FOMC is likely not to raise rates next week but they are likely to raise them later this year. July is the next likely opportunity and any statements to that effect, or hawkish sounding in general, could put a bid back in the dollar and send gold back to support.

The gold miners jumped on the move in gold with many setting new highs. The Gold Miners ETF GDX gained more than 4% on the news and set a new high, near the $26.50 resistance level, creating a small and potentially ominous candle. Today's action, while posting huge gains, created a very small doji candle that could easily become a shooting star or pin bar, or even worse, an abandoned baby. Also of concern, two gaps have opened over the last week of trading days which leaves the ETF open to pull back. The indicators are on the rise with momentum showing some strength, suggestive this move to test resistance will continue, but with the FOMC next week and the chance they will surprise the market a possibility today's level is more attractive as a selling opportunity to me than they are for buying.

In The News, Story Stocks and Earnings

Lululemon reported earnings before the bell. The maker of yoga wear delivered mixed results but overall a good report. Earnings per share were slightly below estimates, revenue above estimates, driven by a 3% increase in comp store sales. Revenue rose 17% versus the same quarter last year, profits 16%, leading the company to raise guidance for next quarter and the full year. Despite the increase guidance remains below consensus estimates but was enough to send the stock higher. Shares rose nearly 4% to set a new 2.5 year high with strong momentum. Upside target is near $75.

Valeant lowered its guidance for the 3rd time in 6 months today citing its deal with Walgreen's as the reason. The company claims that Walgreen's is issuing prescriptions without first ensuring health insurance will pay for the medicines, causing Valeant to lose money. Valeant is trying to restructure the deal with Walgreen's but nothing is firm at this time. The stock fell -3% in today's session and is trading just off the all time low.

The Indices

The indices drifted higher, many are approaching all time highs, but the move was very weak. Today's leader was the Dow Jones Transportation Average which gained about a half percent but created the weakest looking candle of the day. The transports began the day with a nice move, close to 1%, but sellers stepped in and drove prices back toward the low of the day. Today's candle is relatively small and on low volume but created a longish upper shadow, indicative of resistance. The indicators are moving higher but weakly and stochastic is beginning to rollover beneath the upper signal line, also suggestive of resistance. The index may continue higher, next target would be near 8,125, but I'd like to see a stronger move before getting too bullish.

The other indices all closed within a very narrow range of each other, only a few hundredths of a percent, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average leading by a nose. The blue chips closed the day with a gain near 0.37% after moving up to test resistance at the 18,000 level once again. This is the 2nd day in a row it has wrestled with this level and today it closed slightly above. That being said it also looks very weak and susceptible to correction. Stochastic is moving higher and has broken the upper signal line, ordinarily a sign of strength but in this instance I think more a sign of overbought conditions than anything else. MACD momentum is very weak and does lend itself to much of a bullish argument at this time. If it does break through next target is near 18,150. A failure to break through may result in a move down to support at the short term moving average near 17,750.

The S&P 500 closed with a gain just shy of the Dow Jones' and set a new almost 11 month high. That being said it was not able to break resistance at 2,120 and does not appear very strong. The indicators are bullish, but like the Dow, consistent with a range bound index trading near at resistance. MACD is flat and very weak, stochastic entering the upper signal zone and indicating overbought conditions. If the index does break through the next target is the all time high, about 13 points above today's close. A failure to break could result in a move down to 2,100 or lower.

The NASDAQ Composite brings up the rear with a gain near 0.25%. The tech heavy index created a very small candle, the second of two spinning tops, just above the 4,950 support/resistance target. The index may be setting up for a move up to the next resistance target, near 5,050, but the indicators are not very supportive. MACD momentum is bullish, but retreating from a peak and approaching the 0 line, stochastic is high in overbought territory and making a bearish crossover, together indicating an index at or near resistance.

Today the market continued to drift higher. Rising oil and gold prices were a big help, as was FOMC outlook. The caveat is that the move is weak and without much conviction which leaves me skeptical the market will be able to break out to new all time highs, at least for now.

The FOMC meeting next week is focal point for all traders, it may set the market up for its next move, along with the data, but it will be the next round of earnings that drives the market up or down. The outlook remains negative for the quarter, growth is not expected to return until the next quarter.

The problem, and the thing holding me back from being too hopeful right now, is that earnings expectations have been slowing eroding for the past year. Each and every quarter for the last 4 has had similar outlook, negative now but positive next, up to and until projections were lowered and the next quarter became the next quarter of negative growth. It may not happen this time, I'm simply waiting to see the data improve. If, when, earnings expectations begin to rise I will get back on the bull train. With oil prices hitting new highs that could be very soon. For now, I remain cautious.

Until then, remember the trend!

Thomas Hughes

New Option Plays

Pharma Rebound

by Jim Brown

Click here to email Jim Brown

Editors Note:

Sometimes stocks are hit for reasons that do not relate to their business or their profitability. These are sentiment hits because of things like a management change. Perrigo was crushed when Joe Papa left for Valeant.


PRGO - Perrigo Company - Company Description

Perrigo develops, manufactures, markets, and distributes over-the-counter (OTC) consumer goods and pharmaceutical products worldwide. The company operates through Consumer Healthcare (CHC), Branded Consumer Healthcare (BCH), Prescription Pharmaceuticals (Rx), Specialty Sciences, and Other segments. The CHC segment offers OTC products in various categories, including analgesics, cough/cold/allergy/sinus, gastrointestinal, infant nutritional, smoking cessation, animal health, feminine hygiene, diabetes and dermatological care, diagnostic, scar management, and other healthcare products, as well as vitamins, minerals, and dietary supplements (VMS); and contract manufacturing services. It serves retail drug, supermarket, mass merchandise chains, and wholesalers through sales force and industry brokers. The BCH segment provides branded OTC products in the natural health and VMS; cough, cold, flu, and allergy; personal care and derma-therapeutics; lifestyle; pain relief, nasal decongestants, and cold sore management; and anti-parasite areas, as well as offers generic pharmaceutical products. It serves pharmacies, drug, and grocery stores through pharmacy sales force, as well as a network of pharmacists. The Rx segment offers generic and specialty pharmaceutical prescription drugs in various dosage forms, such as creams, ointments, lotions, gels, shampoos, foams, suppositories, sprays, liquids, suspensions, solutions, powders, controlled substances, injectables, hormones, women's health products, oral solid dosage forms, and oral liquid formulations; and ORx products. It serves wholesalers; retail drug, supermarket, and mass merchandise chains; hospitals; and pharmacies. The company was founded in 1887.

In the first quarter Perrigo was doing ok in a weak market for pharma stocks until CEO Joe Papa resigned unexpectedly to take over as CEO of Valeant. Shares fell from $128 to $85 over about three weeks. The company suffered multiple analyst downgrades and investors fled the stock.

They reported earnings on May 12th of $1.75 that missed estimates for $1.83. However, revenue of $1.38 billion did beat estimates for $1.35 billion. You would have thought that would push shares even lower but the company reiterated guidance for full year earnings of $8.20 to $8.60 per share, an 8-13% increase. Adjusted gross margin was a record at 47.9% with operating margins of 25.1%.

Earnings August 4th.

Shares immediately begin to rise after the guidance. Today's close at $100 is above the close on the CEO exit drop. This should be the start of a major recovery back to the $120 level by year end. The strong earnings guidance offset the kitchen sink quarter that normally occurs when a new CEO takes charge. They want to get all the skeletons out of the closet so future quarters under their reign will be positive.

On June 1st, Morningstar named Perrigo as one of their top ten buys for 2016.

Unfortunately, Perrigo options are expensive. We cannot use July strikes because the next strike is $5 out of the money, June expires next Friday and the premiums will collapse. The next strike is August but at least that will leave some earnings expectations premium when we exit before earnings. If you want to defray your net debit you can sell a higher priced call or offset by selling a naked put.

I will profile both sets of options. My recommendation would be to sell the put since PRGO is in a strong uptrend. That way you are not limiting your upside as you would by selling the higher strike call.

Buy August $105 call, currently $4.80, initial stop loss $94.45.


Preferred: Sell short August $90 put, currently $2.55, initial stop loss $94.45.
Net debit $2.25. No limit to upside potential.

Less margin: Sell short August $115 call, currently $1.70, initial stop loss $94.45
Net debit $3.10. Upside limited to $6.90.


No New Bearish Plays

In Play Updates and Reviews

New Highs in Sight

by Jim Brown

Click here to email Jim Brown

Editors Note:

The S&P closed only about 14 points below a new high in very light volume. Across all markets the volume was only 5.62 billion shares and very light for the middle of a week. There were no headlines to push the market around and the meltup towards a new high continued.

The S&P closed only 1 point below its intraday high and an is well within range of making a new high over 2,131. The gap higher at the open was sold but the index began to recover almost immediately and moved slowly higher on that low volume.

Traders are fixated on the 2,130.82 high close from May 21st last year. The intraday high was 2,134.72. Once traders are focused on the new highs, nothing else matters. They can climb nearly any wall of worry to get there. What happens after that level is reached is the $64 question.

Current Portfolio

Current Position Changes

DLPH - Delphi Automotive

The long put position was stopped with a trade at $69.25.

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

AMP - Ameriprise Financial -
Company Description


Still no specific news. Resistance has been solid.

Original Trade Description: June 1st.

Ameriprise Financial is a large holding company of broadly diverse investment companies. They provide financial products to individual and institutional investors worldwide. They operate as a full service brokerage and provide investment products and advice to retail, high net worth individuals and institutional clients. They also provide mutual funds and exchange traded funds, variable product funds underlying insurance and annuity accounts. They also provide life insurance, disability income, property and casualty insurance through various relationships. The company was previously known as American Express Financial Corporation and changed its name in 2005.

Ameriprise is a complete provider of financial services. Acquiring the Emerging Global Advisors portfolio of ETFs gives them another line of products to sell to their high net worth clients. EGA launched its first ETF in 2009 and specializes on providing rules based, smart beta strategies in order to provide diversification and growth opportunities in emerging markets. In the first quarter the company applied to the SEC for registration of numerous additional ETFs that provide equity income to investors. Blackrock believes smart beta ETFs will reach more than $1 trillion in assets by 2020 and $2.4 trillion by 2025. Blackrock is a competitor whit its iShares series of smart beta offerings.

When AMP reported earnings on April 27th they missed the estimates of $2.20 with earnings of $2.17. Revenue was $2.8 billion. They blamed the miss on the extreme market volatility in January and February. They returned $568 million to shareholders in buybacks and dividends.

Shares declined on the news but analysts began saying given the volatility they did really well and shares have now moved over the April pre-earnings high.

Earnings are July 27th.

They have resistance at $109 and again at $115. With expectations for a Fed rate hike lifting the financial sector we should see a couple more weeks of gains on that alone. Since the July options expire before the earnings they do not have any expectation premium. Also, when June options expire in two weeks the July premiums will immediately evaporate. I am recommending we go with the more expensive September calls and plan on selling them before AMP earnings.

Position 6/2/16:

Long Sept $105 call @ $3.40, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

CAR - Avis Budget Group - Company Description


No specific news. Shares still holding their monster gains.

Original Trade Description: June 2nd.

Avis Budget Group provides car and truck rentals, car sharing and services to consumers and businesses worldwide. The Avis system has approximately 5,500 locations and the Budget system has 3,900 locations. The Avis system is the premium version while Budget is the economy version. Budget offers Zipcar, a membership based car sharing network that supplies vehicles to roughly one million members. The Payless brand has about 200 locations and they represent the "value" segment of the market. They also operate the Apex brand and the Maggiore brand. They also operate in the truck rental market with a fleet of 21,000 vehicles that are rented through roughly 1,000 dealers and 450 company owned locations. The company was founded in 1946.

Shares had been in the dumps since early January until news broke on the 17th that CEO John Tague purchased 66,000 shares to bring his total ownership to 220,000 shares. Shares began rising and institutional buying has accelerated. One institution purchased 3,000 June $13 calls on Wednesday. Call option volume was 3x normal on Wednesday and call buying was 14:1 over put buying. On Tuesday, an institution purchased 4,000 July $30 calls when the open interest was only 389 in the strike.

In their Q2 earnings, they missed the estimates on currency fluctuations and unusually soft seasonal demand. However, they raised guidance for the full year on earnings and revenue saying "pricing has already turned the corner."

With the spring and summer months a high demand season for car rental agencies this could be the time to speculate in the stock. The rebound on the insider buying and high call volume has pushed the stock over resistance at $30.50 with the next material level at $37.

Earnings August 3rd.

Position 6/3/16

Long Aug $32 call @ $2.35, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

DIS - Disney - Company Description


No specific news. This is the death of a thousand cuts. The 20-30 cent daily declines are not really moving the stock and so far support at $98 has held.

Shanghai Disney opens June 16th and tickets are already being scalped for several times their official price. The new theme park is expected to pull as many as 20% of gamblers away from Macau in the months ahead.

Original Trade Description: May 19th.

Disney operates as an entertainment company worldwide through broadcast and cable television networks, domestic TV stations, radio networks, movies and media distribution of all types, theme parks, hotels and cruise lines.

Disney missed earnings on May 10th and shares have fallen from $106 to $98 over the last week. This sell off is overdone and shares are approaching support at $96. I believe now is the time to buy.

Disney's latest movie, Captain America: Civil War has already broken $1 billion at the box office in only two weeks. It could end up one of the highest grossing movies of all times. Disney has an entire list of movies headed for the theaters and some will be as big as Captain America. Star Wars: The Force Awakens has already grossed over $2 billion and there are many more episodes planned.

Disney Movie Schedule

May 27th, 2016 - "Alice: Through the Looking Glass"
June 17, 2016 - "Finding Dory"
July 1st, 2016 - "The BFG"
Aug 12th, 2016 - "Pete's Dragon"
Nov 4th, 2016 - "Doctor Strange"
Nov 23rd, 2016 - "Moana"
Dec. 16, 2016 - "Star Wars Anthology: Rogue One"
Mar 17th, 2017 - "Beauty and the Beast"
April 14th, 2017 - "Ghost in the Shell"
May 4th, 2017 - "Guardians of the Galaxy II"
May 26, 2017 - "Star Wars: Episode VIII"
June 16, 2017 - "Toy Story 4"
Mid 2017 - "The Incredibles 2"
July 17th, 2017 - "Pirates of the Caribbean"
Late 2017 - "Thor: Ragnarok"
Early 2018 - "Frozen 2"
May 4, 2018 - "Avengers: Infinity War - Part I"
2018 - "Untitled Star Wars Anthology Project"
Dec 25, 2018 - Mary Poppins Returns
May 3, 2019 - "Avengers: Infinity War - Part II"
2019 - "Star Wars: Episode IX"

They also are opening the Shanghai Disney theme park on June 16th and they expect up to 100 million visitors in the first year with tickets starting at the introductory price of $57-$75. There are 330 million people living within 4 hours of the park. That is truly a cash-printing machine.

Disney has sold off because of a decline in ESPN subscriptions. This is vastly over rated as a problem. Given their recent billion dollar movies and the cash flow from Shanghai the ESPN problems will be forgotten. At this point all the bad news is already priced into the market.

With support at $96 and shares closing at $98 today I am recommending a July call that will expire two weeks before their next earnings report. It is cheap and we can capture any rebound from support. There is risk of a further decline to that support so I am putting the stop loss under that $96 level.

Position 5/20/16:

Long July $100 call @ $2.15, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

IBM - International Business Machines - Company Description


Finally over resistance and a close at a 10-month high. No specific news.

Original Trade Description: May 26th.

IBM provides information technology products and services worldwide. The Global Technology Services segment provides IT infrastructure including outsourcing, integrated technology, cloud, and technology support services. IBM used to be a hardware company but that is rapidly shrinking and the services business is rapidly expanding. The company was founded in 1910.

Buffett calls IBM one of his "big four" investments in public companies including American Express, Cocs-Cola and Wells Fargo. He said IBM "possesses excellent business outlook and are run by talented managers that are shareholder oriented." He increased his stake from 7.8% to 8.4% worth $13 billion. IBM trades at 9x earnings and pays a dividend that yields 3.9% and has grown at an annual rate of 15% over the last five years. IBM is also a buyback machine. They routinely buy back billions in stock.

IBM has been suffering from a decline in revenue for the last several years. Their mainframe business is declining because China will no longer let critical companies by hardware from American companies for fear of spyware imbedded in the equipment. They also dumped their PC business to Lenovo in an effort to move away from commodity businesses and more into services.

Their cloud business is growing quickly. This week they announced a deal with FleetCor (FLT) to move its business to IBM's cloud. FleetCor processes 1.9 billion transactions a year. Forbes calls FleetCor one of its top 20 Most Innovative Companies. FleetCor manages more than a dozen datacenters globally at a cost of about $100 million. The company said, "IBM has more scale than us and we expect to see further efficiencies with IBM processing for us." They expect to save up to $40 million annually and expect greater security.

This is what IBM does best. They provide computing and services for Fortune 1000 companies. IBM said it signed 26 new service contracts last quarter for more than $100 million each. This is why IBM will rebound out of the funk they have been in for the last year. Amazon and Google do not have the capability to provide the services part of the cloud like IBM can. They provide hardware access but you do the rest. IBM does everything.

Earnings July 18th.

IBM shares have rebounded from $120 in February and are about to break out over 10-month resistance at $153.50. Once they break through that barrier, they could run for $15-$20 as unbelievers become believers and begin chasing the price higher.

If you want to take the cautious approach, you might want to wait until IBM trades at $153.75. I am recommending an immediate entry.

Position 5/27/16:

Long July $155 calls @ $2.40, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

MKC - McCormick & Co - Company Description


No specific news. Finally a close over resistance and an 8-week high.

Original Trade Description: May 11th.

McCormick & Company, Incorporated manufactures, markets, and distributes spices, seasoning mixes, condiments, and other flavorful products to the food industry. It operates through two segments, Consumer and Industrial. The consumer segment offers spices, herbs, seasonings, and dessert items. It provides its products under the McCormick, Lawry's, Stubb's, and Club House brands in America. The company was founded in 1889.

This is truly a recession proof business. Everyone in the world uses spices in the food and you are not going to go without salt or pepper regardless of how poor you are. They reported earnings of 73 cents that beat estimates and revenue rose +2% to $1.03 billion. Cost of goods fell -1.6% and profit margins rose +1.8%. Cash on hand rose 36.7% and inventories declined. They guided for full year revenue growth of 4-6%, earnings growth of 6-8% and earnings of $3.68-$3.75. They pay $1.72 in annual dividends at 43 cents per quarter.

Earnings June 30th.

In mid April they acquired Botanical Foods Company based in Australia for $114 million. They provide packaged herbs and sales are growing at double digit rates. They export their products to 15 countries under the Gourmet Garden brand. McCormick expects the acquisition to be fully accretive to earnings in 2017.

The key point for this recommendation is that the shares are not going down despite the weak market over the last three weeks. Shares continue to climb despite the broader markets. However, they did decline 47 cents today after a four-week high yesterday. This will be a hedge against the market suddenly turning unexpectedly bullish. If shares move over Tuesday's high, I expect them to retest the April highs at $101.

Position 5/12/16:

Long June $100 call @ $.95, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

SKX - Skechers - Company Description


CEO interview with Bloomberg about competition with Nike and UA caused a sharp drop in the stock. I was going to close the position but decided against it. This is a July option and it is only worth 15 cents today. I would rather keep it as a lottery ticket in case the stock rebounds over the next five weeks. That is an eternity in market time.

Original Trade Description: May 4th.

Skechers designs, develops, markets and distributes footwear for men, women and children, and performance footwear for men and women under the Skechers GO brand. The company owns, operates of has franchised more than 872 stores internationally. They opened 78 stores in Q1 and plan on opening 160-165 more throughout the rest of 2016.

The company reported record earnings that rose from 37 cents to 63 cents for Q1 and easily beat the 43-cent estimate. Operating income rose 57.1%. Revenue surged 27.4% to $978.8 million and easily beat the estimates for $890 million. The company raised guidance for the current quarter to $875-$900 million.

Wholesale revenues rose 47.1% with an 8.5% increase in distributor sales and 23.2% increase in retail sales. Comparable same store sales rose 9.8%. Domestic retail sales rose 15.3% and international sales +59%. International same store sales rose 17.7%. To say that the company is doing everything right would be an understatement.

Earnings July 21st.

Shares split 3:1 in October just as a revenue miss for Q3 knocked the shares down 35% from $46 to $31. The stock went sideways for the last six months but has recently rebounded to resistance at $35. The strong earnings spiked the stock to that level and it has traded sideways for the last week as it consolidated those gains. In the last two days of market weakness shares lost $1 and were actually positive on Wednesday. I believe we are going to see a breakout to a six-month high.

I know it is strange to recommend a bullish position in a negative market but the lack of a market related decline in SKX suggests they will surge higher if the market were to turn positive.

I am going to recommend a slightly longer option on this position so the premium will not decay as fast if the market continues to be weak.

Also, because we are in a negative market I am going to put an entry trigger on the position. I do not want to recommend a bullish position and have the market gap down -100 points on Thursday. If SKX does not rebound to hit the entry point we lose nothing.

Position 5/9/16 with a SKX trade at $32.25:

Long July $35 call @ $1.00, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

TWTR - Twitter - Company Description


Holding at 8-week high. Minor decline. SunTrust said a company sale is "inevitable" and would be the best thing that could happen for Twitter.

Original Trade Description: April 9th.

Twitter operates as a global platform for public self expression and conversation in real time. I am pretty sure everyone knows what Twitter is so I am not going into depth in this explanation.

Twitter has become the bet of the year. Analysts either think it is going to single digits or going to the moon. The highest price target is $36 and the lowest is $11 with the average at $20.86 across a total of 27 brokers.

Twitter has trouble keeping users because the learning curve is steep and Twitter spam is increasing daily. Twitter bots can be programmed to spread tweets and make it appear there is a huge volume of interest in a specific subject. Andres Sepulveda, a Latin American political operative used custom software to direct 30,000 Twitter bots to create false enthusiasm for candidates and spread rumors about the opposition. Sepulveda said the tactics gave him "the power to make people believe almost everything." The man responsible for his operations said two American presidential candidates had contact him and one of those was Donald Trump.

Unfortunately, Twitter has been having trouble monetizing all the traffic regardless of whether it is real or fake. Their monthly active users include a lot of churn and barely any growth. While nobody expects Twitter to go out of business they are losing faith in the business model.

CEO Jack Dorsey is also CEO of Square and that carries mixed emotions. Some want him replaced and others want him full time. Almost nobody wants him to continue the dual role.

There are constant rumors that Twitter will be bought by someone like Google or Apple. If that were to occur it would carry a huge premium to the current $16 stock price.

Twitter has been earnings challenged for a long time and the stock has declined from $55 to the current $16 level on a lack of confidence they will turn the company around.

Earnings April 26th.

The stock is either going to single digits or it will be back well over $20 soon. It is not likely to continue moving sideways at $16.

I am recommending we do a strangle on Twitter using the June options. Regardless of the stock or market direction we should be able to profit. Because Twitter is $16 and stagnant the options are relatively cheap. I want to buy them now and hold over earnings because that is likely to be a volatility event. We could also get some market moving news with the earnings release.

You could use the $18 call and $15 put for a net debit of $2.22 if you want a cheaper option.

Position 3/11/16

Long June $17 call @ $2.07, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

Previously Closed 5/17/16: Long June $16 put @ $1.45, exit $1.96, +.51 gain.

BEARISH Play Updates (Alpha by Symbol)

DLPH - Delphi Automotive - Company Description


No specific news. Rebounded over resistance and stopped us out at $69.25.

Original Trade Description: May 23rd.

Delphi, a former division of General Motors, manufacturers vehicle components and provided electrical and electronic, powertrain, and safety technology solutions to the automotive and commercial vehicle markets worldwide.

When they reported Q1 earnings of $1.36 they beat the estimates for $1.34. Revenues increased 7% to $4.05 billion but missed estimates for $4.08 billion. They repurchased 5.6 million shares worth $370 million in the quarter and had $137 million left to spend. In April the board authorized a new $1.5 billion repurchase program. They currently has $463 million in cash and $4.35 billion in debt.

On the surface it would appear they are a very healthy company. However, they are very dependent on U.S. auto production. The Autonation CEO said on his earnings call that auto inventories were at record highs and there was no space left to store them. He said manufacturers would have to cut back on production for the rest of the year to bring inventory levels back into balance.

Vehicle sales have been helped by low gasoline prices and the abundance of subprime loans available to consumers. Some 44% of borrowers were taking out 61-72 month loans. However, all good things must end. Gasoline prices are rising and are not likely to return to the recent lows for a very long time, if ever.

Recently banks reported that as many as 31% of those subprime loans were in trouble. While not technically in default, there have been problems like late or missed payments. Also, as many as 35% of those borrowers are underwater because the value of recently new cars has fallen sharply with the resale market still crowded with the used cars everyone is trading in to buy new.

As a result of those statistics the subprime auto loan market is evaporating. It is becoming increasingly hard to obtain financing and larger down payments are required. This is slowing the sale of new cars. In the March sales report the run rate fell to 16.6 million and a two year low. That rebounded to 17.4 million in April and analysts blamed the dip on the weather. However, the last five months have been significantly lower than the last five months in 2015 when the sales rate rose to 18.2 million. Manufacturers are compensating by raising incentives nearly to the rate immediately after the recession. Also, manufacturers leased a lot of cars in order to move inventory immediately after the recession. Those cars are now coming off lease with 2.55 million expiring in 2015 and that number will rise by 500,000 per year through 2018.

This is where Delphi runs into trouble. As auto sales decline it will reduce revenue for Delphi. We are also heading into the summer months when auto factories shut down to retool for the new models that come out in the fall.

Investors have caught on to the "peak auto" worries and Delphi shares have been declining since their earnings in early May. If a company is going to miss on revenue in the good times they are likely to miss again as auto sales slow.

Earnings August 3rd.

Position 5/24/16:

Closed 6/8/16: Long July $65 put @ $1.92, exit .80, -1.12 loss.

HRL - Hormel Foods Corp - Company Description


No specific news. Mentioned on CNBC as oversold. Trend still intact.

Original Trade Description: June 6th.

Hormel Foods Corporation produces and markets various meat and food products worldwide. The company operates in five segments: Grocery Products, Refrigerated Foods, Jennie-O Turkey Store, Specialty Foods, and International & Other. It provides various perishable meat products, including fresh meats, frozen items, refrigerated meal solutions, sausages, hams, wieners, and bacon; and shelf-stable products comprising canned luncheon meats, shelf-stable microwaveable meals, stews, chilies, hash, meat spreads, flour and corn tortillas, salsas, tortilla chips, peanut butter, and other products. The company also offers poultry products, such as turkey products; and nutritional food products and supplements, sugar and sugar substitutes, dessert and drink mixes, and industrial gelatin products.

In their recent Q1 release they reported earnings of 40 cents that beat estimates for 38 cents. However, revenue of $2.30 billion missed estimates for $2.33 billion. The top line only rose +0.9% and that was due to a price hike on their products, not higher demand. Selling, general and administrative expenses rose 11.3%. Jennie-O Turkey Store sales fell -3.5%. Specialty Foods revenues declined -5.2%. International revenues declined -17.2%. Margins declined with the refrigerated foods division falling from 14.4% to 11.9%.

While revenues for most of their divisions declined, the company did raise guidance from $1.50-$1.56 to $1.56-$1.60 for the full year.

Revenue is weak, margins are slipping and a price increase was the only thing lifting revenues in Q1. People are becoming more health conscious and fatty meat packed in a can is not really on everyone's shopping list. They do have healthy products as well but the Spam label seems to be failing. About six months ago they introduced Spam Snacks, a dried, bite sized version of Spam designed to compete with beef jerky in the snack isle. There were three flavors, classic, bacon and teriyaki. They announced last week they were cancelling that product line after a review of consumer comments and low sales.

Earnings August 18th.

Shares have been declining since the earnings and closed at a 7-month low today.

Position 6/7/16:

Long September $32.50 put @ $1.00. No initial stop loss.

NKE - Nike - Company Description


Nike signed Ben Simmons, basketball player from LSU and expected to be the No. 1 NBA draft pick in two weeks. We still cannot seem to get two consecutive days of declines.

Original Trade Description: May 21st.

Nike designs, develops, markets and sells athletic footwear, apparel, equipment and accessories for men, women and kids worldwide. The company offers products in eight categories including running, basketball, football, men's training, women's training, sportswear, action sports and golf under the Nike and Jordan brand names.

Part of Nike's successful marketing involves signing deals with various celebrities, sports teams, franchises, etc, for endorsements and advertisements obtained by teams and players wearing Nike apparel. Sometimes Nike discounts their equipment to enterprises including colleges, group sports associations, etc along with an agreement not to use another brand.

Last week Nike signed an $870 million, 10-year deal with the Chelsea soccer club and they will provide all their equipment and apparel starting in 2017. I am pretty sure the club cannot use $87 million a year in uniforms, shoes, balls and nets. That means the rest of the money Nike is paying is for advertising the Nike swoosh on all their uniforms. That is an expensive advertising deal but evidently Nike thanks it is worth the money.

Recently Nike paid endorsements have reached unbelievable heights with LeBron James receiving a $1 billion lifetime contract to endorse Nike products and allow his name to be used for a line of basketball shoes. The problem occurs when these sports start quit playing. Within a few years they are all but forgotten as a new crop of athletes become the new superstars and a new crop of teenagers want new gear named after or endorsed by those new stars. Under Armour's Stephen Curry is a prime example. He is the new star on the block and they cannot keep his shoes in stock.

When Foot Locker reported earnings on May 19th they said Nike's basketball shoes were not selling. Nike shoes account for 60% of Foot Locker revenue. Foot Locker accounts for 20% of Nike revenue. Nike's basketball shoes for named players including LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant occupy the most shelf space at Foot Locker and sales of those high dollar shoes are slowing. I reported several weeks ago that Foot Locker was selling some of those shoes for 50% off in their online store. That is a clear sign of slow retail sales.

With so much of Nike's revenue coming from the Foot Locker chain it suggests Nike could have some earnings problems in the current quarter. If those shoes are not selling in Foot Locker they are probably not selling at Finish Line (FINL) either. Finish Line has been struggling with sales anyway and having a Nike product that is not moving could make the situation worse. Add in the bankruptcy and closure of 450 Sports Authority stores and another sales outlet for Nike bit the dust.

Nike is a good company. They have great products and they sell worldwide and online. Their last quarter earnings rose 22% to 55 cents and beat estimates for 48 cents. However, revenue of $8.03 billion missed estimates. Nike blamed the strong dollar for the revenue miss. They said futures orders rose 12% and that also missed estimates for 15%. They also missed on revenues in the prior quarter.

Now that basketball season is over and all those unsold basketball shoes are cluttering up store shelves we could see further weakness in the current quarter earnings due out on June 23rd. With all the retail earnings declines over the last couple weeks it makes sense that Nike may have been having some of the same volume problems. Since they missed on revenues in the prior two quarters, it would seem to be a good bet they will miss this quarter as well given the weakness in retail.

Shares crashed after their earnings problem on March 22nd and flatlined around $60 for a month. That sideways movement has now turned into a downward slide with the stock hitting a three-month lod on Friday before rebounding from the initial FL instigated dip. I believe the stock is going to continue to move lower and the bounce on Friday was an entry point.

Position 5/23/16:

Long July $55 put @ $1.75, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

SPY - S&P 500 ETF - ETF Description


Low volume breakout over $212 with the next resistance at $213 then we are likely to hit new highs. The June options are going to expire worthless unless there is a major market crash over the next 6 days.

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.

Position 3/23/16 with SPY trade at $204.11

3/23/16: Long June $200 put @ $4.77 with SPY trade at $204.11
4/01/16: Long June $200 put @ $3.26 when SPY traded at $207.
4/19/16: Long June $200 put @ $1.95 when SPY traded at $210.
See portfolio graphic for stop loss.

XBI - S&P Biotech ETF - ETF Description


No material gain and the biotech index only rose .4% today. The excitement is fading.

Original Trade Description: June 4th.

The S&P Biotech ETF follows the S&P Biotechnology Select Industry Index. The fund holds 85 biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies. The XBI tracks the NYSE ARCA Biotechnology Index ($BTK) almost perfectly.

The $BTK has gained 16% over the last three weeks since May 12th. The reason for the rebound was the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) conference that started on Friday. More than 35,000 professionals in the field of Oncology attend this annual event. Any company with a new idea, treatment or drug will be there. A few will rocket higher after the event. Most will fall back into their original trend if they did not present anything new and notable.

The conference started on Friday and quite a few biotech stocks that rallied ahead of the event fell back 3% to 5% on profit taking. Investors wanted to take profits and not risk getting blindsided with some negative headline from the conference. If somebody announces a new drug that may work better than somebody else, then the loser gets crushed and the new guy gets praised.

I am proposing we buy a put on the XBI in anticipation of a return to the prior trend. Remember, both political candidates have been trashing the drug companies and promising to do something about the high cost of drugs. There is a new term being tossed around in the sector and that is "financial toxicity." That means the drug may work great but the cost will prevent it from being prescribed or covered by the insurance companies. This means, even without the political bashing drug prices are going lower.

Position 6/6/16:

Long July $57 put @ $2.20, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

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