Option Investor

Daily Newsletter, Monday, 9/19/2016

Table of Contents

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

Market Wrap

A Fed Churned Market

by Thomas Hughes

Click here to email Thomas Hughes


The market is wound up on FOMC speculation with less than 48 hours until the next meeting. There market is fairly confident that there will be no rate hike at this meeting there are risks. One of them is that they will produce a surprise rate hike, labor data at least supports it. Another is that they will make a significant change to the policy statement, hawkish or dovish, that sends the market reeling. Yet another is the press conference following the meeting, a rare chance for Ms. Yellen to speak officially as the head of the Federal Open Market Committee. The CME Fed Watch Tool shows a 12% chance of rate hike at this meeting, steady from last look.

International markets were up just about across the board. Asian indices made gains in the range of 0.75% save Australia which had to shut down early due to technical glitches. Traders in the region are eyeing the BOJ, scheduled to release a policy statement Wednesday ahead of the FOMC, who may drive interest rates further into negative territory. European indices made more substantial gains, in the range of 1% to 1.5% aided by some intraday strength in oil.

Market Statistics

Futures trading indicated a positive open all morning. There was little in the way of domestic news to move the market except for a speculative headline in oil, and of course anticipation for the FOMC meeting on Wednesday. The open was positive but not strong although there was enough Monday morning momentum to carry the indices higher for the first half hour or so of trading. Intraday high was hit just after 10AM and from that point until mid-afternoon the indices drift lower, giving up all the early gains and more in some cases. The rest of the day saw the indices languish near their lows where they remained into the close of the day.

Economic Calendar

The Economy

The National Association Of Home Builders released their sentiment survey results today at 10AM. The index made a surprise jump of 6 points to hit 65, better than the expected reading of 61. Present Conditions and Future Sales both jumped to a 10+ month high of 71 from their previous readings of 65 and 66. Traffic Of Prospective Buyers remains contractionary at 48 but has improved 4 points from a 4 month low to match 12 month high levels. Economist within the NAHB cite ongoing improvements in jobs and income as the driving forces behind the August improvement. August is notoriously a month for weak home sales and traffic.

Moody's weekly Survey Of Business Sentiment, also released at 10AM, fell -0.5 to 25.6. The index fell this week but is holding steady in the 25 to 26 range and has been so for about 2 months. According to Mr. Zandi's overview sentiment dipped over the past week but has weathered a round of geopolitical shake-ups notably well. Even so, sentiment is well off of its highs set a year or so ago and has some room to improve.

The Q3 earnings cycle is getting underway. A few companies have already reported, another 10 are due out this week, but the bulk of the action won't come for another month or so. Alcoa is set to report October 10th, the big banks within the week following. To date, the blended rate of Q3 earnings growth is -2.1%. This is a tenth lower than last week and equal to the lowest levels expected so far. The important thing to note is that at -2.1% the S&P 500 is still in position to achieve positive growth by the end of the cycle. On average most companies report better than expected and this will lead to an expected improvement of about +4% to the blended rate by the end of the cycle.

Looking forward outlook remains positive. Fourth quarter earnings growth is expected to be 5.8%, steady from last week and up off the low set a month or so ago. Full year 2016 expectations remain negative at -0.2% but are likely to turn positive as the 3rd quarter season wears on. Beyond that 2017 expectations are robust and holding steady near 13.4%. Based on this outlook the secular bull market should remain healthy into the second half of 2017 at least.

The Dollar Index

The Dollar Index gave up some of Friday's gains but remains above the $95.60 level. This level is the mid-point of a recent trading range leading up to the Wednesday FOMC meeting. Friday's move higher looks bullish and may be but the indicators do not yet show strength or support a move higher, and the FOMC meeting is a limiting factor on any signals that may be firing now. If the index is able to move higher next target for resistance is $96.50 and then $97.50. A break below the 95.60 level would be bearish in the near term and could go as low as $94 before finding support.

The Oil Index

Oil prices got a boost from two sources today, Libya and Venezuela. In Libya rebel forces are clashing again threatening to disrupt supply that was only announced to come back online as recently as last week. In Venezuela oil ministers are agreeable to and predict a successful output deal at the upcoming OPEC meeting. In both cases support is driven by fear which, in one case at least, is little more than speculation. We've heard positive talk about OPEC production caps before. Regardless, WTI rose about 1.75% intrady to settle with a gain closer to 0.75% after the knee-jerk rally wore off.

The Oil Index was able to make gains today but they were limited. The index opened with an initial gain greater than 1% but this was still below resistance levels and further advance was denied. By end of day the index had given up at least half of the early gains, consistent with resistance at the 1,120 level. The 1,120 level is the mid-point of a near 7 month trading range and could provide the starting off point for a deeper move lower should oil prices fail to hold current levels. A move down from here has a target at the bottom of the trading range, near 1,075. If the index is able to move above the mid-point of the range next resistance is just above along the short term moving average.

The Gold Index

Gold gained about a half percent today to trade above $1,315 but remains under pressure. Rising dollar value has gold trading near critical support levels, about $1,300, and could send it down to test that support or break it if the FOMC is overly hawkish in their policy stance. A break below $1,300 would be bearish and could take gold down to $1,250 or lower. The caveat is that if they are overly cautious, as they have been over the past few years, and give little to indication of rate hikes beyond what we've seen the dollar could tank and send gold back up to retest resistance levels in the $1,350 to $1,375 range.

The gold miners were able to make some gains today as well but they were muted. The Gold Miners ETF GDX opened with a gain near 1.5% but gave up about half of it during the day. The ETF is trading just above potential support along the $25 level and may be on the way to retesting that support. The indicators are consistent with potential support, a test of which would confirm. A move below $25 would be bearish and likely lead to further downside with targets near $22.50.

In The News, Story Stocks and Earnings

Sarepta Pharmaceuticals was a big winner today. The FDA finally approved its muscular dystrophy drug after delays left investors uncertain of what to expect. The drug is used to treat a fatal form of the disease. News of the approval sent shares of Sarepta up by more than 90% to trade at a 3 year high.

Mattel got an upgrade today from Moness Crespi Hardt on expected growth and turnarounds in core brands. The company is seen to be suffering from an overdose of bearish sentiment driven by negative impacts of currency conversion, the loss of a major Disney license and declining interest in the Monster High segment. Despite the negatives Mattel is expected to see +5% growth this year and next as ongoing turnaround efforts take effect. The new price target is now $37, a 17% premium to today's prices. Mattel is slotted to report earnings on 10/20.

Volatility has settled down some from last week but remains elevated relative to previous low levels. The volatility index has retreat back to the $15 level but may find support along the short term moving average. It is not unlikely to see the index surge higher again at least one more time before this round is over. The indicators are mixed but momentum at least is convergent with a retest of recent highs. This move could be sparked by the FOMC meeting.

The Indices

The indices began the day with gains near 0.75% but ended flat. The only one to buck the trend and not give up all the early advance was the Dow Jones Transportation Average. The transports closed with a gain of 0.28% but does not look like it wants to go higher at this time. Today's candle is a small spinning top type candle but one that appears to confirm resistance at the underside of the short term moving average, equal to today's highest price. If so this may signal additional downside and a possible break down of support. Support is just below today's close, near 7,750, with next downside target near a long term up trend line in the 7,500 region.

The SPX posted the smallest loss today, about 0.02 points or 0.00%. The broad market created a small black bodied candle that appears to confirm resistance at/near the underside of the short term moving average. This signal could indicate further downside and is supported by the other indicators. MACD is bearish and stochastic is pointing lower, both consistent with lower prices, but neither are overly strong at this time. Support may kick in around the 2,120 level, if broken next targets are near 1,950 and 1,900. Resistance is the short term moving average, near 2,050.

The next smallest loss, -0.02%, was posted by the Dow Jones Industrial Average. The blue chips created a small doji type candle with longer upper shadow, indicative of resistance but not overly strong. Today's action occurred just below resistance levels and the short term moving average, near 18,250. The indicators are both bearish but again, not overly strong. Support is 18,000 and may be tested again if not broken. If broken next support target is 17,500.

The NASDAQ Composite made the largest decline today, about -0.18%. The tech heavy index created a small black candle confirming resistance at the current and recently set all time high. This index may be bouncing higher, it may break to new all time highs, but there is little technical evidence to support such a move at this time. The indicators are mixed, consistent with a bounce from support but not showing strength or even upside momentum; the MACD peaks, if weakly, suggest that the index will retest the 5,100 level. In terms of the short term moving average it is still above it but the average itself is showing signs of hitting resistance, trending sideways below resistance, so is another warning sign of market weakness.

The market continues to churn although volatility has subsided. The churn has gotten the indices wound up, set up for a move, and waiting for the catalyst to break them out of their doldrums. That catalyst is very likely the FOMC meeting, where it sends the market will be entirely based on what they say. Once the market gets over that shock it will be able to turn its eyes on earnings season and the prospects of a return to growth, and expanding growth. Near term risks are abating, once we get past the FOMC meeting and into earnings season I'll be ready to get bullish. Until then I remain cautious but eagerly awaiting Wednesday's announcement.

Until then, remember the trend!

Thomas Hughes

New Option Plays

Cloudy Skies

by Jim Brown

Click here to email Jim Brown

Editors Note:

First Solar is under a cloud and the future is not bright after a recent solar conference was short on excitement and long on worries.


No New Bullish Plays


FSLR - First Solar - Company Profile

First Solar, Inc. provides solar energy solutions in the United States and internationally. It operates through two segments, Components and Systems. The Components segment designs, manufactures, and sells solar modules that convert sunlight into electricity. This segment manufactures cadmium telluride and crystalline silicon modules for system integrators and operators. The Systems segment provides turn-key photovoltaic solar power systems or solar solutions, such as project development; engineering, procurement, and construction; and operating and maintenance services to utilities, independent power producers, and commercial and industrial companies. Company description from FinViz.com.

For Q2, FSLR reported earnings of 87 cents that beat estimates for 58 cents. Revenue of $934 million beat estimates for $904 million. However their GAAP earnings declined 86 cents to 13 cents after the company decided to halt production os solar panels using TetraSun's experimental technology. The company guided to full year earnings from $4.10-$4.50 to $3.65-$3.90 per share.

Goldman Sachs warned the solar sector was facing demand risk as government regulation and new laws made solar systems less desirable. The supply continues to be higher than demand and that is forcing the average selling price lower. Jinko Solar and Trina Solar are increasing production 18% this year. Utility companies are becoming less agreeable about buying back power that systems push into the grid during daylight hours. Goldman expects hardware costs to decline 20-30 cents per watt in early 2017. They are currently averaging 42 cents a watt and First Solar's production cost is 42 cents. As prices continue lower, FSLR will lose more money. They are not the only one. Trina's cost is 45 cents a watt.

Earnings Oct 27th.

JP Morgan said First Solar will struggle to hit earnings estimates in the near term. JMP cut FSLR to an underperform. Deutsche Bank cut them from buy to hold.

Shares have fallen from $39 to $34 but the trend is still lower. Monday's close was a three-year low.

Buy Nov $32.50 put, currently $1.78, no initial stop loss.

In Play Updates and Reviews

Sellers Still Active

by Jim Brown

Click here to email Jim Brown

Editors Note:

The Dow gave back a +131 point intraday gain to close slightly negative. This is not encouraging but the Dow did manage to hold over the new support at 18,100. That was the second day this new support came into play. The S&P was only fractionally negative.

The Nasdaq indexes were both down hard after the Apple rally ended and the sector saw some profit taking. The Nasdaq 100 was only 13 points away from a new high but after today's -21 point drop that is only wishful thinking.

On the positive side all the small cap and midcap indexes were strongly positive suggesting portfolio managers are trying to enter positions ahead of the Fed decision.

Current Portfolio

Stop Loss Updates

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

Profit Targets

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

Current Position Changes

NVDA - Nvidia

The long call position was entered at the open at $63.50.

RGR - Sturm Ruger

The long put position remains unopened until a trade at $54.85.

If you are looking for a different type of option strategy, try these newsletters:

Credit spreads and naked puts = OptionWriter

Long term option investments = LEAPS Investor

3-6 month Option Trades = Ultimate Investor

Iron Condors = Couch Potato Trader

Long and short equity trades = Premier Investor

BULLISH Play Updates

ALXN - Alexion Pharmaceuticals - Company Profile


No specific news. Minor loss but holding over prior resistance.

Original Trade Description: September 14th.

Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company, develops and commercializes life-transforming therapeutic products. The company offers Soliris (eculizumab), a monoclonal antibody for the treatment of paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH), a genetic blood disorder; and atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome (aHUS), a genetic disease. It provides Strensiq (asfotase alfa), a targeted enzyme replacement therapy for patients with hypophosphatasia (HPP); and Kanuma (sebelipase alfa) for the treatment of patients with lysosomal acid lipase deficiency. The company also conducts Phase IV clinical trials on Soliris for the treatment of PNH registry; Phase III clinical trials for the treatment of myasthenia gravis, neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder, and delayed kidney transplant graft function; and Phase II clinical trials for antibody mediated rejection in presensitized renal transplant patients. It develops cPMP (ALXN 1101) that is in Phase II/III trial for treating metabolic disorders; and ALXN 1007, a novel humanized antibody in Phase II clinical trial for the treatment of anti-phospholipid syndrome and graft versus host disease. Company description from FinViz.com.

The Uncommon Strength campaign supports building global communities for patients with rare diseases, which include atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome (aHUS), hypophosphatasia (HPP), lysosomal acid lipase deficiency (LAL-D) and paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH). While the platform aims to provide key information about the diseases to educate the patients and their families, it also offers interactive connection through social media components to unite the global community.

Last week Alexion was awarded orphan drug status by the EU on the ALXN1007 drug for the treatment of graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). This is an anti-inflammatory monoclonal antibody targeting complement protein C5a, currently in a phase II study in patients with newly diagnosed acute GVHD of the lower gastrointestinal tract (GI-GVHD). This disease has a 30-40% mortality rate. The orphan drug status provides certain incentives for the company to proceed with marketing including a longer period of market exclusivity. They have several other drugs similar to ALXN1007.

In Q2 they reported adjusted earnings of $1.25 compared to estimates for $1.17. Revenue of $753.1 million also beat estimates for $742.5 million.

Earnings Oct 27th.

Shares dipped in late August and traded sideways for two weeks. They have been trying to rebound despite the volatile market. Options are expensive so I am recommending a November call spread to reduce the expense.

Position 9/15/16 with a ALXN trade at $130.50

Long Nov $135 call @ $6.00, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.
Short Nov $145 call @ $1.90, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.
Net debit $4.10.

CLVS - Clovis Oncology - Company Profile


No specific news. Friday's big spike was erased but the trend is still positive. There are rumors Clovis could be a potential acquisition target by Gilead.

Original Trade Description: September 13th.

Clovis Oncology, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company, focuses on acquiring, developing, and commercializing anti-cancer agents in the United States, Europe, and internationally. It is developing three product candidates, which include Rociletinib, an oral epidermal growth factor receptor and mutant-selective covalent inhibitor that is under review with the U.S. and E.U. regulatory authorities for the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer; Rucaparib, an oral inhibitor of poly polymerase, which is in advanced clinical development for the treatment of ovarian cancer; and Lucitanib, an oral inhibitor of the tyrosine kinase that is in Phase II development for the treatment of breast cancers. Company description from FinViz.com.

Clovis has been rising on the prospects for the drug Rucaparib. They reported last week the FDA was not planning on holding an advisory committee meeting to discuss the new NDA application. The FDA has accepted the company's NDA for accelerated approval and granted it a priority review. The FDA response is expected to be positive and is expected by Feb 23rd.

Clovis has several anti cancer drugs in final stages and the outlook is very positive. Just seeing that CLVS shares have not declined in the recent market drops is a very strong indication that portfolio managers are buying and holding.

Earnings Nov 3rd.

We have to use a January call spread because October is the only other series available and with Friday the expiration for September, the October premiums will collapse next week. The net cost is the same but with the January options, we have more flexibility in the weeks ahead.

Position 9/14/16

Long JAN $30 call @ $6.00, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.
Short JAN $40 call @ $3.31, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.
Net debit $2.69

IDCC - Interdigital - Company Profile


No specific news. Another big gain to another new high. The company is presenting today and tomorrow at the IIC Q3 meeting in Germany.

Original Trade Description: September 7th.

InterDigital, Inc. designs and develops technologies that enable and enhance wireless communications in the United States and internationally. It offers technology solutions for use in digital cellular and wireless products and networks, such as 2G, 3G, 4G, and IEEE 802-related products and networks. The company develops cellular technologies comprising technologies related to CDMA, TDMA, OFDM/OFDMA, and MIMO for use in 2G, 3G, and 4G wireless networks and mobile terminal devices; and other wireless technologies related to Wi-Fi, WLAN, WMAN, and WRAN. Its patented technologies are used in various products, including mobile devices, such as cellular phones, tablets, notebook computers, and wireless personal digital assistants; wireless infrastructure equipment comprising base stations; and components, dongles, and modules for wireless devices. As of December 31, 2015, it had a portfolio of approximately 20,400 patents and patent applications related to the fundamental technologies that enable wireless communications. Company description from FinViz.com.

IDCC does not make the equipment that uses its designs and patents. They lease those patents to other companies for annual royalty payments based on the volume of devices sold. This is a very lucrative business because they do not have the cost of production or the risk any specific product will not sell in the marketplace.

For Q2 they reported earnings of 48 cents that beat estimates for 26 cents. Revenue of $75.9 million was $300,000 short of estimates. They received an arbitration award of roughly $150 million from Huawei in the quarter that will be reported as income in Q3. They also announced a new multi-year patent agreement with Huawei for 3G and 4G units. They ended Q2 with $814 million in cash.

Update 9/8/16: The company issued revenue guidance for Q3 of $220-$225 million. This compares to Q2 revenue of $75.9 million. Quarterly revenues are volatile because they receive royalties on new products when shipped. For instance, a royalty on the iPhone 7 would show a monster jump in Q4 compared to minimal revenue in Q3.

Earnings Oct 27th.

IDCC is a member of the S&P-400 MidCap index.

IDCC shares are moving slowly higher with very little volatility. They closed at a new high on Wednesday. I know the daily chart looks scary but the 90-min chart below shows the three weeks of consolidation after their Q2 earnings jump. That consolidation is breaking to the upside and given their guidance, I believe it has room to run. I am using an inexpensive option in case disaster strikes.

Position 9/8/16 with a IDCC trade at $73.25

Long Oct $75 call @ $1.60. See portfolio graphic for stop loss.

ITW - Illinois Tool Works - Company Profile


No specific news. Decent gain in a weak market. Shares are now fighting resistance at $118.

Original Trade Description: September 12th.

Illinois Tool Works Inc. manufactures and sells industrial products and equipment worldwide. It operates through seven segments: Automotive OEM; Test & Measurement and Electronics; Food Equipment; Polymers & Fluids; Welding; Construction Products; and Specialty Products. The company distributes its products directly to industrial manufacturers, as well as through independent distributors. Illinois Tool Works Inc. was founded in 1912. Company description from FinViz.com.

In late July, ITW reported earnings of $1.46 that rose 12.3% and beat estimates for $1.40. Revenue of $3.43 billion beat estimates for $3.40 billion. ITW guided for Q3 earnings of $1.42-$1.52 compared to analyst estimates for $1.46. The company raised full year guidance for earnings by 10 cents to the $5.50-$5.70 range. Analysts were expecting $5.51 per share.

Earnings Oct 19th.

The stock jumped from $111 to $115 on the news and then traded sideways for two weeks on post earnings consolidation. In early August, the shares started a slow climb to hit $119 and a new high. Every day I thought about recommending ITW but I kept waiting for a pullback.

On Sept 2nd shares spiked to $123.50 on no news. That spike was erased and shares drifted back down to the prior consolidation range of $119 and held there for two days. The 9/9 crash knocked us out of our prior position and shares dipped to $114.91 on Monday the 12th. Real support is $114.50. I am going to recommend this position for a reentry on a dip to $115.50 on any further market weakness.

Position 9/13/16 with an ITW trade at $115.50

Long Dec $120 call @ $2.50. See portfolio graphic for stop loss.

LITE - Lumentum Holdings - Company Profile


No specific news. The company presented new products at a conference and shares spiked 3.4% to a new high.

Original Trade Description: September 12th.

Lumentum Holdings Inc. manufactures and sells optical and photonic products for optical networking and commercial laser customers worldwide. It operates in two segments, Optical Communications and Commercial Lasers. The Optical Communications segment offers components, modules, and subsystems that enable the transmission and transport of video, audio, and text data over high-capacity fiber optic cables. It offers optical communication products, including optical transceivers, optical transponders, and supporting components, such as modulators and source lasers; modules or sub-systems containing optical amplifiers, reconfigurable optical add/drop multiplexers or wavelength selective switches, optical channel monitors, and supporting components; and products for 3-D sensing applications, including a light source product. This segment serves customers in telecom and datacom markets. The Commercial Lasers segment offers diode, direct-diode, diode-pumped solid-state, fiber, and gas lasers; and photonic power products, such as fiber optic-based systems for delivering and measuring electrical power. This segment serves customers in markets and applications, such as manufacturing, biotechnology, graphics and imaging, remote sensing, and precision machining such as drilling in printed circuit boards, wafer singulation, and solar cell scribing. Company description from FinViz.com.

In Q2 LITE reported adjusted earnings of 41 cents compared to estimates for 35 cents. Revenue of $241.7 million beat estimates for $238.4 million. The company guided to earnings of 40-46 in Q3 and revenue in the range of $245-$255 million. Both were slightly ahead of analyst estimates.

Raymond James upgraded the stock saying strong demand from new datacenter build outs and from China was pushing sales higher. The company only has two competitors, Finsar and Nistica, and they only compete in certain products. Raymond James believes LITE can increase sales in that category by 50% by year-end. Verizon's network upgrades are expected to supply $900 million to LITE over the next several years. Zacks also joined the upgrade club with a strong buy.

The stock is also getting a boost from the strong performance of Acacia (ACIA), which sells some similar products. The winning is rubbing off on LITE.

Shares made a new high at $37.82 on Friday morning and then dipped to $35.37 this morning before rebounding to close just under the prior high.

Position 9/13/16 with a LITE trade at $37.75

Long DEC $40 call @ $2.65, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

NVDA - Nvidia Corp - Company Profile


No specific news. Shares broke over resistance but only managed a minor 83 cent gain. Hopefully that is the first of many to come.

Original Trade Description: September 17th.

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 company'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. Company description from FinViz.com.

Q2 earnings rose 800% to 40 cents and beat estimates for 37 cents. Revenue of $1.43 billion beat their own guidance of $1.35 billion they gave in Q1. Earnings in the year ago quarter were 5 cents and $1.15 billion. They hiked full year revenue guidance as well as the current quarter. They guided for Q3 revenue of $1.68 billion and analysts were only expecting $1.45 billion. During the first six months of 2016, they bought back $509 million in shares and paid $124 million in dividends. The company had $4.88 billion in cash at the end of Q2.

Earnings Nov 10th.

They recently released several new graphics cards that are twice as fast and 40% cheaper than the cards they are 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.

Nvidia shares have been stair-stepping higher since January. That means they post solid gains for a month or so and then pause to consolidate with a minor retracement. They set a new high at $63.38 on August 12th, the day after their Q2 earnings beat. Shares have moved sideways for a month. Last week, when the extreme market volatility hit on the 9th, shares dropped from $63 to $57. Within 4 days the stock was back at $63. I believe it it now poised to breakout now that the weak holders have been eliminated.

Position 9/19/16:

Long Nov $65 call @ $3.45, no initial stop loss.

BEARISH Play Updates (Alpha by Symbol)

DIA - Dow Jones ETF - ETF Profile


The 18,100 support held but the Dow did give up more than a 100 point intraday gain to close negative. We are not out of the woods yet.

I would like to see the play be successful but a breakdown would damage all the long plays that we currently hold. I look at this as a hedge against a market decline.

The six weeks after August option expiration are the most volatile of the entire year.

Original Trade Description: August 1st.

The Dow posted another lower low as it fades from the 18,622 intraday high set back on July 20th. The last three days the Dow has traded under support at 18,400 only to rebound back over that level at the close. The 18,350 level is secondary support and today's low was 18,355.

All but six Dow components have reported earnings and there are only two reporting this week. Those are PG and PFE on Tuesday. The Dow is experiencing post earnings depression. After a stock reports earnings there is typically a period where it declines as traders leave that stock in search of something else to trade that has not yet reported.

PG 8/2
PFE 8/2
DIS 8/9
HD 8/16
CSCO 8/17
WMT 8/18

The Dow is very over extended, suffering post earnings depression and heading into the two weakest months of the year, which are seasonal decliners.

Bank of America expects a 10-15% decline over the next two months.

Goldman Sachs said this morning they expect a 5-10% decline. Goldman said, rising uncertainty in the U.S. and globally, negative earnings revisions, decelerating buybacks and overly dovish Fed expectations would send the market lower over the next several months.

Jeffrey Gundlach of DoubleLine with $100 billion under management, said "sell everything" most asset classes are "frothy and nothing here looks good." "Stock investors have entered a world of uber complacency." "Investors seem to have been hypnotized that nothing can go wrong." He expects the next big money to be made on the short side.

Peter Boockcar, chief market analyst at the Lindsey Group, said, "Take off the beer goggles, the markets are dangerous. To me, the U.S. stock market is the most expensive in the world."

According to Bespoke, over the last 20 years the Dow has performed the worst in August of any other month.

However, just because some big names and big banks turn negative on the market, it does not mean it is guaranteed to move lower. Markets tend to move in the direction that will confound the most people at any given time.

I believe we should accept the risk and launch another index short using the Dow ETF (DIA) since it is the weakest in August. The Dow has risk to 18,000 and a breakdown there could take it back to 17,400.

I am going to recommend an October put spread so we can capitalize on any decline that lasts into September. Typically market bottoms are in October. If you do not want to use a spread, I would buy the September $182 puts, currently $2.55. Just remember, once we are into September the premiums will decline sharply.

Position 8/2/16:

Long Oct $182 put @ $3.98, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.
Short Oct $172 put @ $1.73, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.
Net debit $2.25

HSY - Hershey Co - Company Profile


No specific news. Only a minor decline but a new 2-month closing low.

Original Trade Description: September 3rd.

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 Hershey's, Reese's, 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. It markets and sells its products to wholesale distributors, chain grocery stores, mass merchandisers, chain drug stores, vending companies, wholesale clubs, convenience stores, dollar stores, concessionaires, and department stores. The Hershey Company was founded in 1894 and is headquartered in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Company description from FinViz.com.

Mondelez offered $107 per share for Hershey in June. Shares spiked to $110-$115 in anticipation of an upgraded offer. After two months of discussions they finally got around to price. The Hershey board said it would need a lot higher price to get the deal approved. Mondelez thought about it and came back saying "maybe they could go to $115" if some conditions were met. Hershey replied that was not high enough and it would take at least $125 to continue the discussion. Mondelez immediately broke off negotiations saying there was no "actionable path" to a conclusion.

Hershey is struggling. Sales have been slowing as new competition slowly erodes market share. The Hershey Trust owns 80% of the voting stock so even if the Hershey board decided to consider an offer the trust would have to approve it along with the Pennsylvania Attorney General, which has power over the trust. There will not be another deal and the trust board is being reconstituted in 2017 as demanded by the AG so no major actions will be approved.

Hershey is going to have to deal with its own market share losses and slowing sales. This means the outlook for Hershey shares is negative. Last week Bank America reiterated an underperform rating with a price target of $100 and shares closed the week at $99. The outlook is underwhelming and the stock should decline back to the $90 range where it was stuck before the Mondelez offer.

Earnings Nov 1st.

Position 9/8/16 with a HSY trade at $98.75

Long Nov $95 put @ $1.60. See portfolio graphic for stop loss.

RGR - Sturm Ruger & Company - Company Profile


No specific news.

The position remains unopened until a trade at $54.85.

Original Trade Description: September 15th.

Sturm, Ruger & Company, Inc. designs, manufactures, and sells firearms under the Ruger trademark in the United States. It operates in two segments, Firearms and Castings. The company offers single-shot, autoloading, bolt-action, and sporting rifles; rimfire and centerfire autoloading pistols; single-action and double-action revolvers; and firearms accessories and replacement parts, as well as manufactures and sells steel investment castings and metal injection molding (MIM) parts. It sells its firearm products through independent wholesale distributors to commercial sporting market; and castings and MIM parts directly or through manufacturers' representatives. The company also exports its firearm products through a network of commercial distributors and directly to foreign customers comprising primarily of law enforcement agencies and foreign governments. Company description from FinViz.com.

In Q2, RGR reported earnings of $1.22 that beat estimates for $1.19. Revenue rose +19% to $167.9 million. The company said the new AR-15 clone, the AR-556 was responsible for one-third of all sales.

However, the pace of sales growth declined from the 26% rate in Q1. Ruger also surprised investors with a new CEO succession plan. The highly regarded Michael Fifer will retire in May and be replaced by the COO Christopher Killoy. The company had not mentioned a possible succession plan at the last shareholder meeting. Killoy is a good choice because he graduated from West Point and worked at both GE and competitor Smith & Wesson before joining Ruger as head of sales in 2003. He will only be the fourth CEO in Ruger's history.

The slowdown in sales growth was accompanied by a decline in background checks. FBI background checks slowed in August to only a 6% rise compared to 37% growth in July and 39% in June. The actual number of checks fell from 2.19 million in July to 1.85 million in August.

The gun makers have been posting some outstanding earnings thanks to rapidly rising gun sales only those sales are slowing now that Trump has pulled even or slightly ahead of Clinton. Trump is pro gun and Clinton is anti gun. As long as his numbers are improving, gun sales are likely to slow. However, should Clinton surge into the lead again, the numbers will rocket higher. Consumers are not going to spend hundreds of dollars to buy another gun if they think their gun rights will be safe for another 4 years. If Clinton surges into the lead again, they will be out in force buying those "extra" guns. The biggest surge will occur if Clinton wins the election on Nov 8th. At that point we want to be long every gun manufacturer and ammunition maker.

Earnings Nov 1st.

Ruger shares closed at an 8-month low on Wednesday. The rebound on Thursday was lackluster in a market were the Dow was up +200 points. With sales growth slowing and investors thinking the "bun boom" is over we could see Ruger retest the November lows at $48.

With a RGR trade at $54.85

Buy a Jan $52.50 put, currently $3.50, initial stop loss $57.25
Sell short Jan $45 put, currently $1.05, initial stop loss $57.25
Net debit $2.45

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