Option Investor

Daily Newsletter, Monday, 7/11/2016

Table of Contents

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

Market Wrap

Break Out Or Fake Out

by Thomas Hughes

Click here to email Thomas Hughes


The S&P 500 broke out to new all time highs today. The question now, will these new highs hold or is this a market fake out? Aside from geo-political risk and slow global growth there are at least 2 major hurdles for the US market; earnings season and central bank policy. Earnings season began in earnest today with the release of Alcoa's report after the bell and it doesn't look good, Q2 and full year 2016 estimates continue to fall. Central bank speculation is going to heat up over the next 2 weeks as we await the next FOMC meeting. Between then and now are numerous opportunities for Fed related speakers to move the market, 14 scheduled events featuring a Fed speaker this week alone.

International markets were mostly higher. In Asia trading was dominated the results of the Japanese election to reaffirm Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ruling party. The landslide victory is expected to make it easier for an additional round of Abenomic stimulus for the country, expected to be roughly 2% of GDP. The Nikkei rose nearly 4% on the news, indices in China and elsewhere were positive but gains were much smaller.

European indices closed with gains in the range of 1.5% to 2.11% on a combination of factors including the Japanese vote, receding Brexit fears, US markets hitting new all-time highs and the selection of a new British Prime Minister. The selection of a new PM was a bit surprising, this move was not expected until later this summer or fall at the earliest. Theresa May is the choice, the only remaining candidate following the drop-out of rival Andrea Leadsom. The switch is expected to take place Wednesday night and paves the way for untangling Britain from the EU.

Market Statistics

Futures trading indicated a positive open all morning, an open that would put the SPX at a new all time high. After the bell the indices began to move higher, pushed up against resistance and drifted across all within the first few minutes of trading. The next hour saw them drift sideways, move down to retest early support, and then bounce to make another new high for the day. Today's highest level was hit just before 1PM, after that the indices drifted sideways/down to end the session near the middle of today's range.

Economic Calendar

The Economy

No official economic data today. There are quite a few reports this week, mostly coming on Friday. Tomorrow we'll get Wholesale Inventories. Wednesday Import/Export prices and the Fed's Beige Book top the list. Thursday is weekly jobless claims and PPI. Friday brings us CPI, Empire Manufacturing, Retail Sales, Industrial Production, Business Inventories and Michigan Sentiment.

Moody's Survey Of Business Confidence fell to another new low. The diffusion index fell -1.2 points to hit 25.1, the lowest level in more than 3 years. Mr. Zandi notes a sharp drop in post-Brexit sentiment, most visible in responses from EU businesses, and a possible stall in the EU economy. US and Pacific Rim business remains upbeat but has also seen some decline. South America is the weakest.

Earnings expectations continue to fall as we approach the peak of the Q2 earnings cycle. So far 23 of the 500 S&P 500 companies have reported, 14 have beaten earnings estimates and 11 have beaten revenue estimates. The Q2 blended rate is now -5.6%, a drop of -0.4% over the past two weeks alone. While the lower bar may make it easier for more companies to beat estimates it will not alter the fact we are facing a 5th quarter of earnings decline and may indicate forward expectations will continue to fall as well. The 12 month forward looking EPS remains flat and does not indicate growth as is predicted for the end of the year.

Looking out to the 2nd half of the year, full year 2016 and next years estimates expectations have also fallen in the past week. Growth is expected to return next quarter but that growth is now only 0.7%, down a half percent over the past 2 weeks. Growth is expected to expand into the 4th quarter but that growth is now only expected to be 7.2%, down -0.3% since last report. Full year 2016 earnings growth is only expected to be 0.5%, down -0.2%, and full year 2017 growth lost a tenth to hit 13.5%. Outlook remains very bullish for next year but I remain wary of near to short term growth while we are in an environment of falling expectations.

The Dollar Index

The Dollar Index moved higher to set a new 4 month intraday high. The index moved as high as $96.79, above the 50% retracement level, but was not able to hold the level by the close of trading. The 50% retracement level held as resistance for today but may be breaking down. The index has been consolidating just below this level for about 3 weeks now and looks like it will be moving higher. The indicators are bullish and support a move higher although at this time momentum is in decline. That being said there is some strength in stochastic, it is making a bullish crossover of the upper signal line. Should the index continue to move higher and break above resistance a move to next target at $97.50 is likely with a move to $98.65 possible. It's two week's to the FOMC, they are not expected to make any changes to policy to expected easing from the BOJ, the BOE and the ECB are all possible catalysts to move the index higher.

The Oil Index

Oil prices were a bit volatile today, nothing new there. The price of WTI began the day in negative territory, down about -1.50%, only to move higher later in the morning. By 9:30AM WTI was trading as high as +1.25% only to fall back to break even soon after. By the end of the session price had fallen back below flat-line to close with a loss of -1.37%. Driving today's move was ongoing supply/demand imbalance and outlook for the future. The latest news shows Canadian production is rebounding from wildfire related outages in the oil sands region and the US rig count is rising, both offsetting hopes that demand would begin to chip away at already high global supply. WTI is now trading below $44.75 and at a new 2 month low.

The Oil Index remains range bound, moving higher in today's session despite the drop in oil prices. The index gained a little more than a half percent making a small bounce from the short term moving average. The moving average is just above the mid-point of the range, near 1,120, and poining higher although there is little indication the index will move higher. The indicators are both consistent with range bound trading, trending near the middle of their respective ranges. It looks like the index is treading water waiting for an indication of which way to go. This may come down to earnings and expectations and, of course, oil prices.

The Gold Index

Gold prices drifted lower in today's session but remain near $1350. Spot prices lost about $2 in a quiet session as investors shift focus to the central banks. The Brexit and potential fall-out is helping to support prices but a strengthening dollar could limit further upside, if not cause correction. A dovish fed could help fuel a rally in gold, should the dollar weaken, but this is not a guarantee in light of expected easing from the other central banks. $1350 appears to be near term support, a move below this level could send gold down to test $1310 or $1300. Resistance is near $1375, a break to the upside will like go to $1400 or higher.

The Gold Miners ETF opened with a loss today but was able to move up off of the early lows and close with a small gain. Today's action is the fourth day of trading within a tight range at/near the 3 year high. The indicators are bullish and point to higher prices although there may be some more consolidating before then. Momentum is falling off a bit, one indication of potential consolidation, but stochastic is showing strength through crossover of the upper signal line so a deep correction does not look likely. Should the ETF pullback first target for support s near $27.50. If it moves higher next target for resistance is near $31.35.

In The News, Story Stocks and Earnings

Shares of Nintendo, traded on the Japanese exchange, shot up nearly 25% on the success of the new Pokemon Go game. The game is just another play on the wildly popular franchise but has sparked a new avenue for gaming and tech companies to pursue, augmented reality. Unlike virtual reality which immerses users in a digital world, augmented reality superimposes digital characters (in the case of Pokemon Go) on top of real life video. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella says it could signal a new goldmine for tech companies, such as his own.

Microsoft is currently working on an augmented reality device called the HoloLens. To put the popularity of Pokemon Go in perspective, in 6 days it has surpassed Tinder's count of active daily users and is fast approaching Twitter, numbers that no business involved with handhelds, VR or gaming should ignore. Also in the news today, Microsoft announced a partnership with GE for cloud computing. The deal will bring GE's Predix platform to Microsoft's Azure cloud, available to industrial businesses. Microsoft moved up about 0.75% but remains below resistance at the $53 level.

WalMart is offering free shipping for all online purchases this week, an attempt at competing with Amazon's Prime Day. Prime Day is a 24 hour period in which Amazon will offer spectacular deals to its Prime customers. Anyone who is not a Prime customer can get a free 30 day trial in order to take advantage of the deals. This is the 2nd Prime Day Amazon has held, last years was fairly successful as a boost to summer sales slump. Shares of WalMart gained about 0.35% to trade at a level -18.5% below the all time high. Shares of Amazon gained more than 1% to trade at a new all time high.

Alcoa reported after the bell and surprised with a beat on earnings and revenue. The company was able to produce $0.15 per share of EPS, $0.09 was expected, on revenue of $5.3 billion. On a year over year basis revenue is down about -10% on lower aluminum and alumina pricing despite a 4% increase in organic sales, earnings are also down year-over-year. Looking forward the company is expected to complete the split into two companies, up- and down-stream segments, later this year and has issued guidance for double digit growth in 2017. Shares of the stock gained about 7% on the news are headed to test resistance at the top of the range, near $11.25.

Seagate Technology, maker of disc drives and other memory hardware, pre-announced results today after the bell. The company says it expects to report revenue well above the previous range, beating expectations, along with an increase in margins and additional lay-offs planned for later this year. The news sent the stock shooting up by more than 12.5%.

The Indices

The indices moved higher today and one at least, the S&P 500, set a new all time high. Despite setting that new high however the broad market made the smallest gains of the day, only 0.34%. Today's candle is not very strong, more of a spinning top than anything else, and come with a bit of upper shadow so there is some resistance present. The indicators are bullish so higher prices or testing of new resistance should be expected in the near term. The break to new highs is a good sign but I remain skeptical, a few more days trading at this level would go a long way toward helping my confidence in the market. Should the index continue higher from this point next upside target is about 130 points higher, near the 2,260 level.

The next largest gain in today's session was made by the Dow Jones Transportation Average. The transports gained 0.37% but did not come close to setting a new all time high, that level is still about 12% above today's close. Today's action created a small spinning top type doji candle that was held in check by the 7,750 resistance level. The indicators are bullish and moving higher so a test or break of this level is very possible. Next target to the upside is just below the 8,000 level.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average made the 2nd largest gain in today's session, about 0.45%. The blue chips created a small white bodied candle with notable upper shadow, just below resistance at 18,250 and within 0.7% of the all time high. The indicators are pointing higher so a further test or break of resistance is likely, based on Alcoa's results it could come tomorrow. A confirmed break above the all time high could take it up to 19,000 should the seasons earnings and forward outlook support.

The largest move in today's session was made by the NASDAQ Composite. The tech heavy index gained just shy of 0.65% in a move that falls well short of the all time high. Today's move was able to break above one resistance level, 4,950, but the 5,000 level held. The indicators are pointing higher so a test of 5,000 is likely, along with a possible a break through to test next upside target near 5,040.

The market seems to want to move higher and today's action is promising. A break to new highs may attract new money to the market and drive it higher but I remain skeptical. Alcoa's and Seagate's earnings are a nice surprise but by no means a guarantee the season will produce positive growth, or that forward outlook will remain positive. Until we know for sure, as sure as we can, that Q3 earnings outlook will not turn negative I think there is sufficient risk of reversal to keep me on the sidelines. And there is still the upcoming FOMC meeting, potential Brexit fall-out and a rising dollar to weigh on the market and impact earnings. Don't forget, there are 14 scheduled speeches from Fed officials this week, enough to cause quite a bit of market volatility.

Until then, remember the trend!

Thomas Hughes



Welcome to our mid-year Independence Day Subscription Special. Save 50% or more on your subscription!

The options market isn’t waiting for you.  And you shouldn’t wait to keep Option Investor coming at the lowest prices you’ll see until December! There isn’t a minute to spare.  Order now.

Renew for as little as $249
for six months,
ONLY $1.38 per day


New Option Plays

Takeover Talks Cancelled

by Jim Brown

Click here to email Jim Brown

Editors Note:

After reporting disappointing earnings in April takeover talks collapsed along with the shares. Synaptics is having a bad year with shares now trading at less than half the $110 buyout price discussed back in early April.


No New Bullish Plays


SYNA - Synaptics Inc - Company Description

Synaptics Incorporated develops, markets, and sells intuitive human interface solutions for electronic devices and products worldwide. The company offers its human interface products solutions for mobile product applications, including smartphones, tablets, and touchscreen applications, as well as mobile, handheld, wireless, and entertainment devices; notebook applications; and other personal computer (PC) product applications, such as peripherals comprising keyboards, mice, and monitors, as well as remote control devices for desktops, PCs, and digital home applications.

Back in mid April Synaptics said it was in active discussions with a state-backed Chinese investment group on a deal that valued the company at $110 per share. The company said it was anticipating a formal announcement at month end when it reported earnings. Shares spikes 7% to $87.

On April 28th the company reported adjusted earnings of $1.21 per share compared to estimates for $1.51. Revenue of $402.5 million also missed estimates for $450.5 million. Shares collapsed $15 on the news to $68.

In early June the company said it was no longer in active talks with the Chinese group about an acquisition. On June 16th the company said it was laying off 160 employees and closing some offices. That is about 9% of the workforce. The company will have an $11 million charge for severance and take another $4 million charge for lease cancellation fees on the office rent. Synaptics said the move was to align the company's cost structure close to its revenue. The company said they had experienced a "sizeable revenue shortfall" in Q1 that would carry over into the current quarter. "We saw a precipitous drop in order levels within the smartphone market." They are a supplier to Apple.

Recent reports suggest Apple is still cutting component orders for the next iPhone due out in September so Synaptics revenue should still be in decline.

Shares closed at a 2-year low last week and earnings are July 28th.

I am recommending a September $45 put in order to avoid the sharp drop in front month premiums when July expires on Friday. I do not plan on holding over that earnings report. We are buying time but we are not going to use it.

Buy Sept $45 put, currently $3, initial stop loss $51.75

In Play Updates and Reviews

New High

by Jim Brown

Click here to email Jim Brown

Editors Note:

The S&P gapped open again and blew through resistance at the old historic high at 2,130 and hit 2,143 intraday. The market softened at the close and dropped back to 2,137. The S&P high was not confirmed by the other major indexes. The Dow rallied to 18,283 but failed to reach the historic close of 18,312 or the intraday highs of 18,351. The Nasdaq briefly traded 2 points over 5,000 but also weakened at the close.

Tuesday could be a pivotal day. If the market continues to gain, we could see portfolio managers begin to cashe prices to keep from being left behind in the great performance competition. That could trigger additional short covering and a real breakout could be born. However, if the market weakens and falls back below the prior highs it could increase bearish conviction and potentially form a double top.

However, Alcoa soundly beat on earnings and Seagate guided higher for Q2 earnings it will report on August 2nd. Several other companies also raised guidance and that is a real surprise. This could change sentiment if positive guidance continues.

Normally on a big day like today the shorts are bought and three of our put plans posted gains rather than declines. Only one call play posted a loss but the gains were muted on most of the positions. Stocks with large recent gains are overlooked as traders try to find stocks with more upside rather than pile into a stock that has already had a run.

I raised the stop losses on almost everything. When the market eventually rolls over I want to exit these plays close to the top.

Current Portfolio

Current Position Changes

WDC - Western Digital

The long call position was opened at $49.50.

MEOH - Methanex

The long put position was opened at $27.63.

RRGB - Red Robin

The long put position was stopped out at $49.65.

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

CNC - Centene Corp -
Company Description


Still no specific news. Excellent rebound back to a 10-month high. Analysts are saying CNC is bidding for Aetna's medicare assets they are shedding to qualify to take over Humana.

Original Trade Description: June 21st.

Centene Corporation operates as a diversified and multi-national healthcare enterprise that provides programs and services to under-insured and uninsured individuals in the United States. It operates through two segments, Managed Care and Specialty Services. The Managed Care segment offers Medicaid and Medicaid-related health plan coverage to individuals through government subsidized programs, including Medicaid, the State childrens health insurance program, long-term care, foster care, and dual-eligible individual, as well as aged, blind, or disabled programs. Its health plans include primary and specialty physician care, inpatient and outpatient hospital care, emergency and urgent care, prenatal care, laboratory and x-ray services, home health and durable medical equipment, behavioral health and substance abuse, 24-hour nurse advice line, transportation assistance, vision care, dental care, immunizations, prescriptions and limited over-the-counter drugs, specialty pharmacy, therapies, social work services, and care coordination. The Specialty Services segment provides pharmacy benefits management services; health, triage, wellness, and disease management services; vision services; dental services; correctional healthcare services; in-home health services; and integrated long-term care services, as well as care management software that automate the clinical, administrative, and technical components of care management programs.

On Monday Centene was upgraded by Barclays to overweight (buy) with an $82 price target. They based the upgrade on the growth and valuation potential after the completion of the $6.8 billion Health Net (HNT) merger at the end of March. Health Net had 5.9 million individuals in plans in all 50 states. They also offered employee assistance plans to approximately 7.3 million individuals. The combined companies now insure more than 10 million individuals. Barclays said the combined management team had improved with the merger.

Barclays said, "We believe shares of CNC have simply corrected too far and too long, and now represent a very attractive investment."

Earnings are July 26th.

Shares spiked $2 on the upgrade and failed to pull back on Tuesday. That spike pushed CNC over resistance and any further move higher would be a breakout.

Position 6/22/16

Long August $72.50 call @ $1.97, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

COST - Costco - Company Description


Costco continued higher in the market short squeeze despite no specific news.

Original Trade Description: June 11th.

Costco Wholesale Corporation, together with its subsidiaries, operates membership warehouses. The company offers branded and private-label products in a range of merchandise categories. It provides dry and institutionally packaged foods; snack foods, candy, tobacco, alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages, and cleaning and institutional supplies; appliances, electronics, health and beauty aids, hardware, and garden and patio; meat, bakery, deli, and produce; and apparel and small appliances. The company also operates gas stations, pharmacies, food courts, optical dispensing centers, photo-processing centers, and hearing-aid centers; and engages in the travel business. They operate 690 warehouse stores plus online shopping.

A Costco membership costs $55. It is almost worth the cost if all you bought was gasoline. The store charges 7-15 cents less than the prevailing rates at other local stations. There are normally lines at the Costco pumps because it is a bargain. If you purchased 15 gallons of gas per week and saved an average of 10 cents you would save $78 a year and more than enough to cover the cost of the membership. Multicar families would save even more.

However, Costco to many people means bulk purchases of items too big to store in your normal pantry. The mental image of Costco is someone pushing a cart with cases of toilet paper, paper towels, laundry soap and canned goods. While that may be true for a lot of shoppers there are still bargains on everything else. My son stopped there on Saturday to buy 15 gallons of ice cream, 10 watermelons, scores of picnic plates and plastic utensils for a party he was throwing. I know people who only shop at Costco and do not go to stores like Safeway, Kroger, etc. Once you get the Costco shopping virus it is hard to not go there. You can even by caskets at Costco. Members bought 465,000 cars through Costco in 2015. The warehouse chain is the number 1 seller of organic food at $4 billion in 2015 compared to Whole Foods at $3.6 billion. Costco has 84 million paying members and you can cancel at any time and get a full refund.

This has helped Costco maintain an average annual growth rate of 13% while other stores are lucky to manage 2-4% a year. Walmart only grew at 0.44% last year and Target 5.4%. In the latest quarter adjusted for fuel and currency fluctuations Costco managed only 3% same store sales growth compared to estimates for 4.6%. They blamed the colder than normal April weather and the weak retail consumer. We already know from other retailers that sales were down sharply all across the sector.

They reported adjusted earnings of $1.24 compared to estimates for $1.22. Revenue rose +2.6% to $26.77 billion and missed estimates for $27.07 billion for the reasons I stated above. Analysts expect earnings to grow 12% annually over the next two years.

Earnings are Sept 29th.

Shares spiked up to $154 after earnings on May 26th and then went sideways for a week while those gains were consolidated. Now they are trending higher again and even closed up on Friday in a weak market.

Position 6/13/16:

Long Oct $160 call @ $4.40, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

GRUB - GrubHub - Company Description


No specific news. Shares saw some profit taking after an 8-month high.

Original Trade Description: June 27th.

I recommended GRUB as a LEAP position in the LEAPS Newsletter on Sunday. With the minor drop back to support today I am recommending it here on a short term option.

GrubHub Inc., together with its subsidiaries, provides an online and mobile platform for restaurant pick-up and delivery orders in the United States. The company connects approximately 44,000 local restaurants with diners in approximately 1,000 cities. It operates GrubHub and Seamless Websites through grubhub.com and seamless.com. The company also offers GrubHub and Seamless mobile applications and mobile Websites for iPhone, iPad, Android, iWatch, and Apple TV devices; and Seamless Corporate program that helps businesses address inefficiencies in food ordering and associated billing. In addition, it provides Allmenus.com and MenuPages, which provide an aggregated database of approximately 380,000 menus from restaurants in 50 states.

GrubHub is a concept that is catching fire and the bigger they get the more restaurants want to sign on to the service. They now serve 44,000 restaurants. They do not markup prices. Whatever the restaurant charges is what you pay. Diners can customize any order to their own taste specifications and dietary needs.

Restaurants benefit because the service drives more orders. Many people cannot take 2 hours out of their day to go to the restaurant to eat. GrubHub brings the restaurant to them. Restaurants typically see about 30% more takeout orders during their first year when they sign up for the Grubhub service. Delivery fees range from free to $3.99.

GrubHub currently has more than 6.9 million diners. Ordering through the GrubHub online menu is 50% faster than ordering from the restaurant on the phone.

The company recently announced participation with national chain restaurants including Boston Market, Johnny Rocket's, California Pizza Kitchen, Veggie Grill, On the Border and Panda Express. This is a natural for fast food chains. They prepare the food fast and it gets to the diner fast.

An analyst at Moness Crespi Hardt just upgraded them to buy from neutral saying the fundamentals are rapidly improving with the addition of the chain restaurants. Secondly they completely overhauled their tech platform in 2015 and the benefits are rising quickly. They are also integrating POS features including Apple Pay. He also believes they are a potential acquisition target by companies like Amazon, Uber and Postmates. His biggest point is the addition of the chain restaurants. Adding companies with hundreds or even thousands of restaurants will catapult them to the next level.

Earnings August 2nd.

Shares have been rising and they closed at an 8-month high on Thursday. In Friday's market crash they gave back only 1.4%, which was nothing compared to the rest of the market. In Monday's market they dropped back to retest Friday's low but that support held. This is very good relative strength.

Position 6/28/16:

Long Aug $30.00 call @ $2.30, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

JPM - JP Morgan - Company Description


No specific news. Earnings on Thursday. We will hold over the report given the 50-cent value in the option.

Original Trade Description: May 11th.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. operates as a financial services company worldwide. It operates through Consumer & Community Banking, Corporate & Investment Bank, Commercial Banking, and Asset Management segments. The Consumer & Community Banking segment offers deposit and investment products and services to consumers; lending, deposit, and cash management and payment solutions to small businesses; residential mortgages and home equity loans; and credit cards, payment services, payment processing services, auto loans and leases, and student loans. The Corporate & Investment Bank segment provides investment banking products and services, including advising on corporate strategy and structure, capital-raising in equity and debt markets, as well as loan origination and syndication; treasury services, such as cash management and liquidity solutions; and cash securities and derivative instruments, risk management solutions, prime brokerage, and research services. It also offers securities services, including custody, fund accounting and administration, and securities lending products for asset managers, insurance companies, and public and private investment funds.

JP Morgan has 15% revenue exposure to Brexit. That will be the major market mover the rest of the week. They are also expected to increase their capital return percentages for buybacks and dividends. Those will be announced next Wednesday.

I am playing the call side because the potential for a short squeeze on a remain vote or a major buy the dip program on an exit vote. The put options are more than double the call options so it appears everyone is expecting the worst. Shares have declined to the bottom of their uptrend channel.

I am using the August options to capture all the events over the next couple weeks. Earnings are July 14th and we will exit before earnings.

This is probably a 100% loser or a 200% gainer. There is no in between because of the binary nature of the event. We cannot use stop losses on this position because of the potential for opening gaps.

Position 6/23/16:

Long August $65 call @ $1.31, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

LL - Lumber Liquidators - Company Description


No specific news. New 6-month high.

Original Trade Description: July 7th.

Lumber Liquidators operates as a multi-channel specialty retailer of hardwood flooring, and hardwood flooring enhancements and accessories. It primarily offers hardwood species, engineered hardwood, laminates, and resilient vinyl flooring; renewable flooring, and bamboo and cork products; and a selection of flooring enhancements and accessories, including moldings, noise-reducing underlay, adhesives, and flooring tools. The company also provides in-home delivery and installation services. The company offers its products primarily under the Bellawood brand and Lumber Liquidators name. It primarily serves homeowners, or to contractors on behalf of homeowners. As of December 31, 2015, it operated 366 stores in the United States and 8 stores in Canada.

LL was trashed in March 2015 after a 60 Minutes report that the laminate flooring sourced from China had excessive levels of formaldehyde. Shares dropped from the prior close just under $70 to $10 earlier this year. Sales plummeted and earnings took a dive.

On Friday the company announced that the Consumer Products Safety Committee (CPSC) had closed their investigation and the only concession LL had to make was to not sell laminate flooring made in China. Since they already stopped that practice 13 months ago, it was basically a get out of jail free card. Shares spiked 19% on Friday to $15.78.

The company also reported that they had tested 15,000 homes with that flooring installed and NONE of those homes had chemical levels over the recommended norms. Of those 70,000 homes some 1,300 underwent special testing by a certified laboratory and NONE of those homes tested above safe levels either.

The CPSC also warned about ripping out the existing flooring and replacing it. They said the process of ripping it out would expose homeowners to excess levels of the chemical so that removes the possibility of a massive recall problem by LL.

LL has a class action suit brought by homeowners but with the CPCS saying there is no problem with the installed floor the suit just lost its main reason for existing. I am sure it will continue and they will try to get some damages but proving you have been damaged when there is no problem is going to be a challenge.

LL escaped a massive recall. They will probably settle for peanuts on the class action suit and there were no fines or penalties. They are probably celebrating all weekend at the corporate headquarters.

Now all they have to do is win back the customers. Same store sales have been down 10-13% because of the looming problems. Now that they can claim there never was any problem they can launch a massive advertising campaign and sales should recover. It may be slow at first but they still have a good selection of products at the right prices.

While their troubles may not be completely over they are light years closer to business as usual than they were a week ago. Funds and investors have ignored their stock but with the all clear from the CPSC they should come flooding back in hopes of getting a bargain entry.

Earnings August 3rd.

LL shares spiked to $16 on the news back in mid June. They moved sideways until the Brexit crash and lost altitude back to $14. Today's close was a six-month high over that headline spike in June. I believe the stock is poised to go higher now that it is trying to pull out of its yearlong consolidation.

I am going to recommend a longer term option and suggest we hold over the August 3rd earnings. They would be hard pressed to say anything more negative than what the market already expects. The potential for good news and positive guidance is very good.

Position 7/8/16:

Long Nov $18 call @ $2.15. No stop loss because of the cheap option and the longer term.

NVDA - Nvidia - Company Description


No specific news. Another new high for Nvidia. I am raising the stop really tight because this rocket is about to run out of fuel.

Original Trade Description: June 28th.

NVIDIA Corporation operates as a visual computing company worldwide. It operates in two segments, GPU and Tegra Processor. The GPU segment offers processors, which include GeForce for PC gaming; Quadro for design professionals working in computer-aided design, video editing, special effects, and other creative applications; Tesla for deep learning, accelerated computing, and general purpose computing; and GRID for cloud-based streaming on gaming devices. The Tegra Processor segment provides processors that integrate a computer onto a single chip under the Tegra brand name; DRIVE automotive computers, which offer supercomputing capabilities; and tablet and portable devices for mobile gaming under the SHIELD name. The companyÂ’s products are used in gaming, professional visualization, datacenter, and automotive markets. It sells its products primarily to original equipment manufacturers, original design manufacturers, system builders, motherboard manufacturers, add-in board manufacturers, and retailers/distributors.

Q1 earnings rose 46% to 33 cents and beat earnings by a penny. They hiked full year revenue guidance as well as the current quarter. Tor Q2 they raised the forecast to $1.35 billion that was above analyst estimates at $1.28 billion. Gaming revenue was up 17% to $687 million but all areas of effort saw significant gains. They recently released a new graphics card that is twice as fast and 40% cheaper than the card it is replacing.

Nvidia's Graphics Processing Units or GPUs have become more than just video chips. They have become supercomputing processors and can be packaged in large groups to parallel process monster datasets and computations that would have taken weeks with conventional chips. They are truly revolutionizing the processor industry.

The focus on Artificial Intelligence or AI, a lot of companies like Google and Amazon are turning to GPUs to handle the monster amounts of data they collect every day. Facebook already uses Nvidia M40 GPU accelerators to power its Big Sur machine learning computers. Those NVIDIA GPUs were specifically designes to train deep neural networks for enterprise data centers, and the company says they are 10-20 times faster than other network computers. Nvidia said their GPD powered machine learning computers can help train networks new things in just a few hours that would take days or weeks with less powerful systems.

The new P100 GPU is 12 times faster than the prior version and can provide more performance than "several hundred computer nodes" and up to eight P100s can be interconnected to provide previously unheard of computing power. The chips in the GPUs contain more than 15.3 billion transistors each and the largest chip ever built at 16 nanometer technology. That is twice as many as on Intel's biggest chips. The P100 delivers more than 10 teraflops of performance. One teraflop can process one trillion floating-point instructions per second and the P100 can do 10 teraflops or 10 trillion calculations per second.

The COSMOS weather forecasting application runs faster on the P100 than the 27 servers, running twin multicore processors each that were previously tasked with the project. Intel makes commodity processors for the millions of PCs and servers in the world. Nvidia is light years ahead of Intel in technology. Nvidia's data center revenue increased 63% in Q1.

More than 50 automakers are testing the new Drive PX chip for self-driving cars. The chip combines inputs from cameras, lasers, maps and sensors to allow cars to drive themselves and learn from each experience.

Earnings August 11th.

Shares closed at a new high at $48.50 on Thursday. On Friday they dropped to $45.30 to stop us out. That was a $3 drop. Today the stock rebounded off the opening low and only gave back 49 cents. I believe with any market that is not crashing Nvidia will be back at new highs very quickly.

Position 6/28/16:

Long August $47 call @ $2.55, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

PVH - PVH Corp - Company Description


No specific news. Minor gain. I am tightening the stop loss.

Original Trade Description: June 27th.

PVH Corp. operates as an apparel company in the United States and internationally. The company operates through six segments: Calvin Klein North America, Calvin Klein International, Tommy Hilfiger North America, Tommy Hilfiger International, Heritage Brands Wholesale, and Heritage Brands Retail. It designs, markets, and retails mens and womens apparel and accessories, branded dress shirts, neckwear, sportswear, jeans wear, intimate apparel, swim products, handbags, footwear, golf apparel, fragrances, cosmetics, eyewear, hosiery, socks, jewelry, watches, outerwear, small leather goods, and home furnishings, as well as other related products. The company offers its products under its own brands, such as Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, Van Heusen, IZOD, ARROW, Warners, Olga, and Eagle; and licensed brands comprising Speedo, Geoffrey Beene, Kenneth Cole New York, Kenneth Cole Reaction, Sean John, MICHAEL Michael Kors, Michael Kors Collection, and Chaps, as well as various other licensed and private label brands.

PVH has been absolutely crushed in the sell off because they were thought to have as large presence in the UK. Shares closed at a new 9-month high of $102.70 on Thursday. Today they touched $84 intraday for a whopping $18 or roughly 18% decline in two days from a new high.

PVH thought it was important enough that they filed a disclosure with the SEC saying they only derived 3% of their revenues from the UK. Even with the massive drop in the pound the company did not think any UK weakness would be material to their results.

The company has been on a growth spurt by acquiring brands and doing license deals with other brands to improve the variety of its offerings. On June 15th the CEO spoke at a Piper Jaffray Consumer Conference and said business was improving in Q2. He said the problems with other retailers represented an opportunity for the Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger brands. He said the Tommy Hilfiger women's business generates 30% of their revenue and was a growth opportunity since they recently added it to the line. They teamed up with super model Gigi Hadid to make the brand more relative to younger, fashion oriented women.

With their Q1 earnings they raised guidance from $6.30-$6.50 to $6.45-$6.55 a share for the full year. The CEO said the guidance was conservative because this "does not seem like the environment ro tray and be a hero."

Earnings August 24th.

Position 6/28/16:

Long August $90 call @ $4.23, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

SWHC - Smith & Wesson - Company Description


Shares holding at the historic highs. Zacks reported multiple earnings estimate revisions by other brokers suggesting the momentum will continue.

Original Trade Description: June 25th.

Smith & Wesson was founded in 1852 and manufacturers firearms in the U.S. and internationally under many different brands but primarily Smith & Wesson.

Gun sales are booming again. With every terrorist attack or mass shooting more consumers rush out to buy guns for self defense. With the potential for additional attacks in the U.S. this trend is not going to slow. However, sales are cyclical. They surge after attacks like San Bernardino or Orlando or after speeches by politicians about gun control. President Obama has been the best gun salesman we have ever had. Every push by the administration to get more laws passed results in millions of new gun sales. The constant gun headlines over the last two weeks have lifted S&W to 3-month highs.

In their Q4 earnings where there was a surge in gun sales after San Bernardino. In their recent Q1 earnings there was no mention of the Orlando shootings because the shooting was only 4 days before their earnings. The Q1 results did not have any sales bump from that event.

In their Q1 report, they posted earnings of 63 cents compared to estimates for 54 cents. Revenue of $221 million also beat estimates for $214 million. They guided for the full year for revenue between $740-$760 million and analysts were expecting $723 million. They guided for full year earnings of $1.83-$1.93 and analysts were only expecting $1.66. Q1 sales rose +22% and the CEO said demand was strong. They forecast current quarter revenue at $190-$200 million and analysts were only expecting $162 million. That is a massive improvement.

Since the Orlando shooting there has been nonstop headlines about gun control. Gun stores are reporting four times the volume in traffic and many stores are having trouble keeping guns in stock. This is going to be a banner quarter for S&W.

Earnings August 25th.

Update 7/5/16: The FBI released the background check numbers for June. They processed 2,131,485 checks for a 39% increase in purchases over 2015. The 2015 number was a 10.5% increase over 2014. For the first six months of 2016 they have processed 13,829,491 background checks which is 60% of all 2015. Assuming nothing changes in the economy we are well on our way to a new record for the year.

Shares have been in constant rebound since the earnings on June 16th erased fears about slowing sales.

Position 6/27/16:

Long Sept $27 call @ $1.70, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

WDC - Western Digital - Company Description


Shares rallied $2 in afterhours trading after Seagate raised earnings guidance. WDC raised guidance on Wednesday evening.

Original Trade Description: July 9th.

Western Digital Corporation, engages in the development, manufacture, sale, and provision of data storage solutions that enable consumers, businesses, governments, and other organizations to create, manage, experience, and preserve digital content worldwide. The company's product portfolio includes hard disk drives (HDDs), solid-state drives (SSDs), direct attached storage solutions, personal cloud network attached storage solutions, and public and private cloud data center storage solutions. It provides HDDs and solid-state drives for performance enterprise and capacity enterprise markets desktop, and notebook personal computers (PCs). The company also offers HDDs embedded into WD, HGST, and G-Technology branded external storage appliances with capacities ranging from 500 GB to 24 TB, as well as using various interfaces, such as USB 2.0, USB 3.0, FireWire, Thunderbolt, and Ethernet network connections.

WDC just completed the acquisition of flash memory maker SanDisk on May 12th and the combination will put it significantly ahead of Storage Technology (STX). WDC can include flash memory into its disk drive products to make them significantly faster as well as expand its offerings in the SSD market. By acquiring the SanDisk product line it provides a large amount of marketing breadth and created the premium data storage company.

Last Wednesday WDC raised adjusted earnings guidance to 72 cents, up from 65-70 cents. Analysts were expecting 68 cents. They raised revenue guidance from $3.35-$3.45 billion to $3.46 billion. Analysts were expecting $3.41 billion. This is the second guidance raise for this quarter. Back on May 26th they raised revenue guidance from $2.6-$2.7 billion to $3.35-$3.45 billion.

Earnings July 28th.

WDC has solid resistance at $51 but a breakout over that resistance could quickly sprint to $60. I am using the October options to avoid the rapid decline in August premium after July expiration next Friday. We will exit before earnings on the 28th. This is a short-term play to capture any continued market breakout.

Position 7/11/16:

Long Oct $52.50 call @ $3.23, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

Z - Zillow Group - Company Description


No specific news. Another decent gain to a new high.

Original Trade Description: June 29th.

Zillow Group, Inc. operates real estate and home-related information marketplaces on mobile and the Web in the United States. It offers a portfolio of brands and products to help people find vital information about homes, and connect with local professionals. The company's brands focus on various stages of the home lifecycle, such as renting, buying, selling, financing, and home improvement. Its portfolio of consumer brands includes real estate and rental marketplaces comprising Zillow, Trulia, StreetEasy, and HotPads. The company also provides advertising services to real estate agents and rental and mortgage professionals; and owns and operates various brands that offer technology solutions to real estate, rental and mortgage professionals, including DotLoop, Mortech, Diverse Solutions, and Retsly.

Back in August 2015 Zillow Group split its stock 2:1 but the new stock had no voting rights. The Class C stock trades under the symbol Z while the Class A stock with rights traded under the symbol ZG. The company did this so the voting rights would not be diluted. Multiple companies have done this including the biggest to date with Google and Facebook. The split has no impact on the company operation except that employees now receive Z shares and any acquisitions will be made with Z shares.

The company acquired Trulia.com for $2.6 billion in 2015 and contrary to analyst concerns the integration has been relatively smooth. There were some hiccups but everything is functioning normally today.

They reported Q1 earnings of 13 cents that beat estimates for a loss of 9 cents. Revenue rose from $127.3 million to $186 million and beat estimates for $177 million. They also raised full year guidance from $805-$815 million to $825-$835 million. Analysts were expecting $794 million. They ended the quarter with $514 million in cash. Marketplace revenue rose 23%, real estate revenue rose 34% and mortgage revenue rose 65%.

Earnings August 2nd.

In early June, the company made a windfall settlement with Move.com for $130 million after two years of litigation. Analysts were expecting $1.8-$2.0 billion. This pending litigation had been a cloud over the stock for the last 8 months. After the settlement shares spiked to $32 and traded sideways for two weeks before moving up to new highs at $35.50. The Brexit crash knocked the shares back to $32.75 but after the last two days of gains it is threatening to breakout once again.

Shares closed at $35 so the August $40 strike is a little far out for a short period of time. I am going to stretch to the November $40 strike, which will have significant expectation premium when we exit before earnings.

Position 6/30/16:

Long Nov $40 call @ $2.30, initial stop loss $32.50.

BEARISH Play Updates (Alpha by Symbol)

HSY - Hershey Company - Company Description


Some added volatility today. Shares spiked $3 intraday when a director resigned. The spike was quickly sold when the news was digested.

Original Trade Description: July 2nd.

The Hershey Company manufactures, imports, markets, distributes, and sells confectionery products. It offers chocolate and non-chocolate confectionery products; gum and mint refreshment products comprising chewing gums and bubble gums; pantry items, such as baking ingredients, toppings, beverages, and sundae syrups; and snack items, including spreads, meat snacks, bars and snack bites, and mixes. The company provides its products primarily under the Hersheys, Reeses, Kisses, Jolly Rancher, Almond Joy, Brookside, Cadbury, Good & Plenty, Heath, Kit Kat, Lancaster, Payday, Rolo, Twizzlers, Whoppers, York, Scharffen Berger, Dagoba, Ice Breakers, Breathsavers, and Bubble Yum brands, as well as under the Golden Monkey, Pelon Pelo Rico, IO-IO, Nutrine, Maha Lacto, Jumpin, and Sofit brands.

Snack maker Mondelez bid roughly $23 billion for Hershey last week and the offer was quickly refused. Hershey has turned down several acquisition offers since 2002. In 2002 the Wrigley company tried to buy it and failed. In 2007 Cadbury also failed. In 2010 the trust prevented Hershey from bidding to buy Cadbury. The problem with acquiring Hershey is that the Hershey Trust Co. owns 81% of the voting stock and 8.4% of the common stock. Nothing will happen unless the trust approves.

The trust was setup in 1909 to benefit the Milton Hershey School for underprivileged children and the community of Hershey Pennsylvania. The trust has built up a $12 billion endowment for the school and is well liked for the good works done around the community.

The board has also said multiple times they do not want to sell the company.

Another factor is the Pennsylvania Attorney General. Any sale would require the approval of the AG under a 2002 state law. He has the power to overrule the trust if he feels any sale would not benefit the citizens of Pennsylvania.

Here is where the challenge comes in. If Mondelez buys the Hershey Company then the trust gets a lump sum of money but that is all they will ever get. Once they spend it the benefit is over. If Hershey stays independent the trust will remain the benefactor of Hershey PA for another century. The profits from Hershey will continue to flow through the trust to the school and other entities to support the community. Hershey pays out about $500 million a year in dividends. The AG is not likely to allow the golden goose to be sold.

I believe this acquisition bid will fail. Mondelez may raise the offer but I doubt the board, trust or AG will accept it. The spike in the stock to $115 will fail and shares will return to the $95-$100 level where they were trading lat week.

This is a speculative position so do not play with money you cannot afford to lose. I am making this a spread because the put options are expensive for obvious reasons.

Earnings July 28th.

Position 7/5/16:

Long August $110 put @ $5.15, no initial stop loss.
Short August $100 put @ $1.52, no initial stop loss.
Net debit $3.63

IWM - Russell 2000 ETF - ETF Description


The Russell ETF reached critical resistance at 118.50 and stalled. There is stronger resistance at $120. There wre a lot of individual stock charts with a big red candle in the last 60 minutes of trading. Many times when new highs are hit the next move is lower because the target has been reached and nobody has picked a new target. Traders capture profits and then wait for the market to confirm a direction.

Original Trade Description: July 2nd.

The Russell 2000 ETF attempts to track the investment results of the Russell 2000 Index composed of small-capitalization U.S. equities.

The Russell 2000 is facing strong resistance from 1150-1165. The index actually touched 1,190 in early June but I seriously doubt we will see that level again. The S&P closed right at 2,100 and has strong resistance from 2100-2115. The Dow closed only 72 points under the post Brexit close at 18,011.

We recovered from the post Brexit crash on a combination of equity fund window dressing for the end of the quarter and pension funds rebalancing the ratio of bond to equities. Reportedly they had to buy up to $18 billion in equities.

Now we are at resistance and all those uplifting events are over. The uncertainty over the UK exit still exists and the dollar/pound imbalance will cause a significant number of earnings warnings for Q3.

All the fundamentals point to a weak July and the artificial lift from the end of the quarter buying is over.

Note the volume in SPY and IWM puts for August on Thursday. The far right column is the open interest and the second from the right is the volume traded on Thursday. This is about 3 times the number of calls for the same period. The vast majority of traders are expecting a market decline.

I am recommending we buy puts on the IWM because the premiums are cheaper. I am recommending an entry trigger because we could still move higher ahead of the long weekend. S&P future are down -4 but that could be temporary.

Position 7/5/16 with an IWM trade at $113.95

Long August $112 puts @ $2.62. No initial stop loss.

MEOH - Methanex Corp - Company Description


No specific news. Minor rebound in a bullish market.

Original Trade Description: July 9th.

Methanex Corporation produces and supplies methanol in the Asia Pacific, North America, Europe, and South America. It also purchases methanol produced by others under methanol offtake contracts and on the spot market.

This is a very niche market and methanol prices have been declining. Like oil there is an abundance of methanol.

Earnings estimates are declining sharply. Full year estimates have fallen from a profit of 42 cents to a loss of 3 cents. That is a major drop. For the current quarter estimates have fallen from a loss of 19 cents to a loss of 27 cents.

Earnings July 27th.

Despite the rapidly falling estimates and stock price Raymond James upgraded it to strong buy on May 17th. Shares rallied on the upgrade from $29 to $35 and almost immediately rolled over again. Shares sank to a four-month low last week. On Friday when the market was exploding higher the stock only gained 38 cents. Shorts were not covering in MEOH.

I am picking the August $25 put because it is cheap and I am planning on holding over earnings unless we are really profitable ahead of the event. I believe the earnings will disappoint and we could see a sharp post earnings drop, but I would be wrong. The option is only $1 so the risk is minimal.

Position 7/11/16:

Long August $25 put @ $1.00, no initial stop loss.

RRGB - Red Robin Gourmet Burger - Company Description


Big short squeeze again and we were stopped out at the close at $49.65 for a 70 cent loss.

Original Trade Description: July 6th.

Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, Inc., develops, operates, and franchises casual-dining and fast-casual restaurants in the United States and Canada. As of May 9, 2016, it had approximately 530 Red Robin restaurants, including those operating under franchise agreements. Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, Inc. was founded in 1969.

Lately Red Robin has been trying to rebrand itself as Red Robin Gourmet Burgers and Brews because each store has a sports bar area that is underutilized. The restaurants cater to families with high chairs, booster seats and many still have the arcade to gobble up quarters from children. The bar in the stores I have eaten at was never busy.

Red Robin has a larger footprint for its stores and land is expensive as is the large buildings compared to the smaller stores of its hamburger competitors. Red Robin is on an aggressive growth campaign with a new store and sometimes two opening almost every week somewhere in America. This aggressive expansion requires the outlay of millions of dollars for construction for dozens of stores at the same time. They are also remodeling their existing stores and the capital costs are soaring.

In their Q1 earnings Red Robin lowered guidance for revenue growth from the prior level of 8.5% to 9.5% to just 8%. They also lowered same store sales guidance to flat or slightly negative from the prior guidance of low single digits.

Red Robin has been beating on earnings by an average of 8.4% but analysts have been cutting estimates because of falling guidance. You can always beat estimates if you guide lower every quarter. They also announced the departure of their CFO two weeks ago. That does not normally happen if the company is moving in the right direction. A CFO does not want to have a sinking company on their resume so they tend to exit when the outlook dims.

Earnings August 11th.

Zacks cut RRGB to a sell. Keybanc Capital Markets cut them from buy to hold.

With the market likely to be weak over the next month there is a good possibility RRGB will break below support at $47 and make a new three-year low.

Position 7/7/16:

Closed 7/11/16: Long August $45 put @ $1.90, exit $1.20, -.70 loss.

If you like the trade setups you have been receiving and you are on a free trial then now is the time to subscribe. Don't wait until you miss a newsletter to decide you want to take the plunge.

subscribe now