Option Investor

Daily Newsletter, Tuesday, 10/4/2016

Table of Contents

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

Market Wrap

Support Test

by Jim Brown

Click here to email Jim Brown

Multiple indexes tested support and they barely rebounded as the October trend begins to take hold.

Market Statistics

With the Q3 window dressing over on Friday, the October window undressing is gaining speed. Typically, the first two weeks of October are negative and the indexes appear to be setting up for a support break. Buy the dip traders are probably going to refrain from jumping in immediately if those support levels break. The first two weeks of October have hosted some spectacular market declines over the years. While I do not expect any material crash, it is the one that we do not expect that causes the most damage. For weeks, I have recommended not to be overly long and to keep a shopping list handy of stocks you would like to buy at lower levels. That is even more important over the next ten days.

There were no economic reports to boost the market this morning. The CoreLogic Home Price Index showed prices rose +6.2% year over year in August compared to +6.0% in July. That was the 20th consecutive monthly price increase. New York posted the biggest gain at +1.7%, Las Vegas +1.2%, Houston at +0.7%, Dallas, Phoenix and Philadelphia rising +0.6% for the month. This report is normally ignored.

The ISM - New York for September rose from 47.5 to 49.6 but remains in contraction territory for the second month. The ISM has been in contraction for four of the last five months. The internal components were mixed but employment imploded with a drop from 54.9 to 33.9 and well into contraction. That is the weakest reading since the financial crisis. The August employment reading was the only positive number since January. The report was ignored.

The rest of the week is headlined by the employment reports and should the numbers come in as expected the market could breathe easier. Several of the recent Fed speakers have tried to revive the November Fed meeting as a possible rate hike and a hot payroll number over 200,000 could help stimulate those fears. The consensus estimate is a gain of 168,000. However, August came in at +151,000 and missed estimates by a mile BUT it is the most heavily revised number of the year. Upward revisions can be significant. If September comes in strong and August has a big upgrade it could bring the Fed back into focus even though the November meeting is only four working days before the election. The Fed normally tries to avoid movement in that situation in order to avoid appearing political.

The Sunday night debate could have a significant impact on Monday's market if it appears Trump recovers from the beating in the first debate. Surrogates are predicting an entirely different Trump. Clinton was on her game so it will be hard for her to improve. The market appears to favor a Clinton presidency and a divided government in hopes of retaining the status quo.

In stock news, Darden Restaurants (DRI) reported earnings of 88 cents compared to estimates for 82 cents. Revenue of $1.71 billion missed estimates for $1.72 billion. Same store sales of +1.3% were below forecast. They repurchased 3.2 million shares in the quarter. The board authorized a new $500 million buyback program compared to their $7.7 billion market cap. They finished the quarter with $114.7 million in cash compared to $274.8 million in the year ago quarter.

Darden guided for full year earnings of $3.87-$3.97 compared to prior forecasts of $3.80-$3.90 with same store sales rising 1% to 2%. Analysts expect $5.57 billion in revenue. Shares spiked $2.50 to $63.90 at the open but fall back to trade briefly in negative territory before the close. Weak comp store sales guidance was blamed for the decline.

Netflix (NFLX) shares failed to continue their big 4% gains from Monday on rumors Disney may be looking at acquiring the streaming company. Disney is also said to be considering a bid for Twitter (TWTR). Netflix is constantly talked about by the rumor mill as an acquisition target with Apple (AAPL) the most likely acquirer. However, Disney would be a good fit given all their content availability. It would take the pressure off the ESPN cord cutters and give the company a big jump into streaming. Disney's market cap is $150 billion and Netflix is $44 billion. Shares of Netflix punched through the resistance at $100 on Monday and held its gains today in a weak market.

Transocean Offshore (RIG) continued its decline after the company announced on Monday that Reliance Industries had cancelled a contract on the Discoverer India as of December 2016. The contract was supposed to run through January 2021. Transocean will receive a lump sum termination payment of $160 million. The daily lease rate was $528,000 so the termination payment was only a minor amount of the $771 million in payments left on the lease. On the positive side the Transocean Barents was awarded a new contract for $260,000 per day for 15 months but the contract does not start until Q3-2017.

Alphabet (GOOGL) announced its new smartphone called Pixel. Instead of licensing out production to be made and marketed by its prior partners, Google is contracting with HTC to make the Google branded phone. This will allow Google more control over what goes in the phone and they made a big point of saying it will not have any of the "bloatware" now common on Android phones. The manufacturers and carriers like Verizon put tons of software on the Android phones in hopes of getting you hooked and running up your data bills.

The Pixel comes with Google Assistant, which is their answer to Apple's Siri and supposedly an improvement to Google Now. The phone will come in two sizes (5.0 and 5.5 inch) and three colors (black, silver and blue). Google is also giving owners unlimited cloud storage at full resolution. That means any pictures you take will not be degraded by being compressed for storage. The 12.3 megapixel camera has a DxOMark rating of 89, which is the highest of any smartphone. A 15-minute charge will supply 7 hours of battery life.

The phone also comes Daydream VR ready and this time they have actual headsets rather than a cardboard contraption used in the past.

The phone starts at $649 and will be available on Tuesday in the U.S. and Canada. There is a 32 gb version and 128 gb and it has a headphone jack.

They also announced Google Home, a competitor to Amazon's Alexa device, Echo. Google Home will start at $129 compared to $179 for Echo. Home will be available November 4th. They also announced a new WiFi router and updated Chromecast Ultra.

After the bell Micron (MU) reported an adjusted loss of 5 cents compared to estimates for a loss of 12 cents. Revenue of $3.22 billion beat estimates for $3.13 billion. The company guided for actual earnings of 13 to 21 cents in Q3 compared to analyst estimates for 12 cents. Revenue guidance is now $3.55 to $3.85 billion and analysts were expecting $3.48 billion. Chipmakers are rebounding because of a surge in PC sales after years of steady declines. The successful implementation of Windows 10 has caused many consumers to finally make that upgrade decision. This decline created an oversupply of memory chips but the recent PC surge has sucked up much of the available inventory and chipmakers are seeing prices firm again. Volumes of DRAM chips rose +20% with a 12% rise in Nand chips. Despite the earnings beat and strong guidance the stock lost $1 in afterhours.

Acacia Communications (ACIA) shares rallied 8% after the bell when they guided for higher earnings. They raised guidance from earnings of 64-76 cents to 83-90 cents. Analysts were expecting 74 cents. The company also said it was going to do a secondary offering of 4.5 million shares of which 1.2 million will be sold by the company. This allows prior investors with previously restricted shares the ability to sell. The entire networking sector has been seeing raised estimates and strong performance. China is only half way through its upgrade to 100 gb infrastructure and U.S. carriers like Verizon are just beginning.

Sears Holdings (SHLD) spiked to $13.69 on news the company was taking bids on the Craftsman tool brand. Rumors have Stanley Black & Decker (SWK), Hong Kong based Techtronic Industries, Apex Tool Group and Husqvarna are making bids. Bloomberg said this could bring Sears up to $2 billion. Shares of SHLD shot up 17% and were halted for volatility. When trading reopened they crashed back to almost where they started.

Shares of Team Health (TMH) spiked 16% just before the close after the Wall Street Journal said the company was up for sale. They are reportedly in talks with the Blackstone Group and Bain Capital and could strike a deal this month. Team Health supplies outsourced medical services for medicine, emergency care, critical care and other areas to more than 3,000 healthcare facilities.

Crude oil prices rallied through resistance at $48.50 on continued chatter about the potential for an OPEC production cut. After the bell, the API inventory report showed a massive decline of -7.6 million barrels and prices continued to make gains. Analysts were expecting a weekly build of about 1.5 million barrels. The drop in inventories is most likely related to Hurricane Matthew. It has been brewing in the Caribbean for the last ten days and tankers headed for the Gulf would have lingered well out in the Atlantic while waiting for Matthew to move north and away from the entry points into the Gulf.

This week the path between Cuba and Florida has been closed and last week it was the southern route between Cuba and Mexico that was closed. The storm spent a week south of Cuba. There are probably close to 100 tankers parked well out into the Atlantic waiting for these storms to pass. The new storm headed for Bermuda is named Niccole.




The major indexes are all pulling back to critical support levels and trouble could be headed our way. The S&P dipped below initial support at 2,150 but managed to recover right at the close. On an intraday basis, there have been dips to the 2,140 level and that appears to be where the dip buyers were waiting. With the close at 2,150 today, they may not be so ready to buy another dip to 2,140 on Wednesday. If the early October trend is going to assert itself the dip buyers may pull back and look to test the waters again at 2,120.

I have said several times I think the 2,120 level will hold and I would be a buyer there on any apparent rebound. I would rather not catch a falling knife and wait to see if that level is going to hold. Getting in too late is far easier on the pocketbook than getting in too early.

I mentioned in the weekend newsletter than the higher low pattern on the Dow was ragged and far less promising than the one on the S&P. In fact the pattern of lower highs has become prominent and is suggesting the next material move is going to be back to support at 18,000 instead of up to 18,400.

I scanned the charts of the 30 Dow components and only about 7 actually have a bullish bias. Most of them are bearish rather than neutral. If there is going to be a period of firming before the earnings cycle begins it better begin soon or that 18,000 level is not going to hold.

The Nasdaq was the bright spot on Tuesday with only a -0.2% decline. The Composite Index is holding near its recent highs and not showing any indications of a potential decline. That could change in a heartbeat if something happens to the overseas markets or the payroll reports miss estimates.

Initial support at 5,255 has not been tested since last Thursday. That would be the first line of defense but it is also lighter support than the 5,200 level. Apple, Google, Netflix and Amazon have been supporting the market so far this week. The various headlines may have run their course and those gains could fade.

The Russell 2000 also has a pattern of lower highs and support at 1,235 is being tested almost daily. Any material bout of selling is likely to break that support and the next level is well down at 1,205. The small cap index is the market sentiment index and a support break could trigger additional selling in the larger cap indexes.

This is one of those situations where everyone is watching everyone else and waiting to see who is going to make the first move. There does not appear to be any volume buying. There are a few nibbles here and there but most of the big gains are coming on headline stocks.

Portfolio managers are likely to wait for a concentrated downdraft to clean out the weak holders before they go all in for the late October rally. I believe we have risk to the September lows. While we may not make it down to those levels, we need to be prepared just in case we do get a washout. Ships can sink in a quiet sea and stocks can fall for no reason in a low volume, no headline market.

Beware the payroll reports. Any material deviation from the estimates could cause market volatility in either direction. I would continue to urge not to be overly long and maintain a shopping list of stocks you would like to buy at a lower level. We may never get that chance but if we do, we need to be ready.

Enter passively, exit aggressively!

Jim Brown

Send Jim an email


If you like the market commentary 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


New Option Plays

Retail Season

by Jim Brown

Click here to email Jim Brown

Editors Note:

There is a historical strategy where traders buy certain retail stocks at the early October lows and hold them until Black Friday. We are going to use that strategy on Costco.


COST - Costco - Company Profile

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. In addition, it provides gold star (individual) and business membership services. As of October 29, 2015, it operated 690 warehouses. Company description from FinViz.com.

Costco reported earnings last week of $1.77 compared to estimates for $1.73. Revenue of $36.56 billion barely missed estimates for $36.81 billion. Same store sales, excluding gasoline, rose 2% in the USA, +5% in Canada and +1% internationally. Overall sales rose +3%.

For the full year same store sales were up +4%. Membership fees rose from $785 million to $832 million. The company said some of its increased profitability came from the lower fees it was paying to Visa compared to the prior payments to American Express. There were initial problems in the conversion and some customers were angered leading to weaker sales in the prior two quarters. That is now over and customers are coming back.

The earnings were Friday and shares spiked to $154 on the news. Post earnings depression appeared along with a weak market over the last two days. I believe Costco will rebound into Black Friday because this is the strongest quarter. They typically sink into the September earnings and then rally into December.

The plan is to buy calls now and exit around Black Friday. The December calls are cheap and any rally should lift the stock back to $160-$165. I am not putting a stop loss on this position because of the potential for market volatility over the next two weeks.

Buy Dec $155 call, currently $2.79, no stop loss.


No New Bearish Plays

In Play Updates and Reviews

October Trend

by Jim Brown

Click here to email Jim Brown

Editors Note:

Even though we are only two days into October, the market is following the historical trend. However, it is hard to call two days a trend. The markets typically set the lows for the second half of the year in the first two week of October.

The Dow was down -137 at the lows and came very close to touching initial support at 18,100 before rebounding slightly. All of the major indexes were down only 0.3% to 0.5% so it was hardly a big decline. Unfortunately, if the support at 18000-18100 does not hold later this week the daily numbers could accelerate quickly.

In order to set the low for the second half the Dow would have to trade at 17,700 or another -450 points. That is not out of range but it could be catastrophic for a bunch of long positions. I am keeping the stop losses on our long calls fairly wide in hopes of avoiding a washout. If we are stopped out on a big decline I plan to reload most of the current positions. The relative strength of our current longs is very good.

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

DISH - Dish Networks

The long call position was entered at $55.56.

SIG - Signet Jewelers

The long put position was stopped out at $76.45.

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

CLVS - Clovis Oncology - Company Profile


No specific news. Clovis will provide an update its PARP inhibitor drugs for ovarian cancer at the cancer research meeting in Copenhagen this weekend. That means the stock could be volatile on Friday/Monday.

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

DISH - Dish networks - Company Profile


No specific news. Shares posted a gain in a weak market. No complaint here.

Original Trade Description: October 3rd.

DISH Network Corporation provides pay-TV services in the United States. The company operates through two segments, DISH and Wireless. The company provides video services under the DISH brand. It also offers programming packages that include programming through national broadcast networks, local broadcast networks, and national and regional cable networks, as well as regional and specialty sports channels, premium movie channels, and Latino and international programming. In addition, the company provides access to movies and TV shows via TV or Internet-connected tablets, smartphones, and computers; and dishanywhere.com and mobile applications for smartphones and tablets to view authorized content, search program listings, and remotely control certain features. Further, it offers Sling TV services that require an Internet connection and are available on streaming-capable devices, including TVs, tablets, computers, game consoles, and smart phones primarily to consumers who do not subscribe to traditional satellite and cable pay-TV services. Additionally, the company operates Sling International that offers over 200 channels in 18 languages; and Sling domestic package that consists over 20 channels and tiers of programming, including sports, kids, movies, world news, lifestyle and Spanish language, and premium content, such as HBO. Further, it offers Sling Latino service; and satellite broadband services, wireline voice, and broadband services under the dishNET brand. Additionally, the company has wireless spectrum licenses and related assets. As of December 31, 2015, it had 13.897 million Pay-TV subscribers. Company description from FinViz.com.

Dish is gaining a significant number of views in the millennial generation that either have never had a cable subscription or cannot stand paying the monthly cable bills for what they believe should be free TV. They are also developing a large audience of Latino viewers with their various Spanish language channels. They also offer 18 other languages and more than 200 channels.

In early September, they gained the rights to about 800 sporting events offered by the six PAC 12 networks. Millennial's love to watch sports, especially when it is free or nearly free.

The online Sling TV offering is gaining market share with its skinny bundles including channel packages like HBO and Starz.

Over the last month the consensus earnings estimates for the current quarter have risen from 63 cents to 68 cents. Full year estimates have risen from $2.92 to $3.05.

Earnings Nov 7th.

Since they signed the sports deal on September 12th the stock has been in rally mode. Shares are closing in on resistance from June at $56.50 and should easily break through. The next resistance is in the $65 range.

Position 10/4/16

Long Nov $57.50 call @ $2.43, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

FSLR - First Solar - Company Profile


No specific news. Down in a weak market.

Original Trade Description: September 28th.

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.

First Solar was the number one pick for a Clinton presidency. In the first debate, she advocated for installing "half a billion" solar panels to head off an impending energy crisis and reduce climate change.

After the debate Clinton was the assumed victor because of her calm, fact filled answers. Analysts have picked several stocks that would rise with a Clinton presidency and they were all up on Tuesday. Note that FSLR was in all four lists.

Deutsche Bank said buy FSLR, C, NFLX, UNH and FB.
Zacks said buy FSLR, LMT and PFPT.
Estimize said buy FSLR, UNH, FB, NFLX and CYBR.
InsiderMonkey said buy FSLR, CREE, TSLA, UNH and HUM.

I could not recommend FSLR on Tuesday because it was up 5%. The morning dip on Wednesday deflated the options and gives us an entry point. However, there is strong resistance at $39.50. I would like to see it move over that level before we jump in. A move over that level could generate significant short covering because FSLR was in a downtrend before the political lift.

Earnings are Oct 27th so we will be out relatively quickly. That is a week before the election and if Clinton is ahead in the polls the stock should still be rising. This could be a volatile position because of the political sound bites.

Position 9/29/30 with a FSLR trade at $40.00

Long Nov $42.50 call @ $1.95, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

IDCC - Interdigital - Company Profile


No specific news. Shares declined slightly with the market.

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.

Update 9/28/16: In a study done by the EU Commission and IDCC they found the cost of rolling out 5G in all 28 EU member states could reach 56 bullion euros by 2020 and 141.8 billion annually by 2025. That is a huge amount of money that will be flowing into a hand full of companies including IDCC. The 5G standard is seen as 50 Mbps everywhere compared to the current 5-20 Mbps.

Earnings Oct 27th.

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

Position 9/27/16 with an IDCC trade at $78.65

Long Nov $80 call @ $2.90, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

LITE - Lumentum Holdings - Company Profile


No specific news. New historic high in a weak market.

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.

Update 10/3/16: Jefferies raised earnings estimates to $2.61 for the 2018 fiscal year, which is 14% above consensus. Revenue estimates rose to $1.29 billion and 11% over consensus.

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. Nvidia hit a new intraday high but faded with the weak market.

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.

Update 9/28/16: Nvidia announced a new AI supercomputer chip called Xavier, which is designed for self-driving cars. The system-on-a-chip (SoC) integrates a new Graphics Processing Unit or GPU called Volta and a custom 8 core CPU along with a new computer vision accelerator. The processor will deliver 20 trillion operations per second while consuming only 20 watts of power. Nvidia already provides chips to Audi, BMW, Honda, Mercedes, Tesla and Volvo. On August 31st Nvidia and Baidu (BIDU) announced a partnership to make an autonomous car platform. Also today, the company announced a partnership with TomTom to develop artificial intelligence to create a cloud to car mapping system for self-driving cars.

Update 9/30/16: Bloomberg had a blurb earlier in the week saying Nvidia was hiring Apple engineers to work on new graphics for the Apple product line. Apple has always relied on imbedded Intel graphics chips but with the new demand of video editing and VR, that is no longer an option. They are going to have to upgrade to a more powerful video interface. That would be a big win for Nvidia and they would not be hiring Apple engineers unless there was some announcement coming.

Update 10/3/16: Amazon announced a new P2 instance for the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2). The VM machines are powered by 16 Nvidia Tesla K80 GPUs. They also include up to 64 vCPUs with up to 732 Gb of host memory. These instances offer up to 60 times the processing power of prior P2 instances.

Nvidia is the Intel of the future.

Position 9/19/16:

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

RGR - Sturm Ruger - Company Profile


No specific news. Only a minor decline in a weak market after the FBI background checks rose 11%.

Original Trade Description: September 27th.

We were stopped out of Ruger on a put position last week because shares appear to have bottomed on the escalation of rhetoric in the political campaign. Clinton is a rabid anti-gun politician and has even talked about gun confiscation like Australia did several years ago. She claims she is not anti-gun but no politician ever runs on that kind of platform. It is only after they get into office does their true feelings come out. Since Clinton has been in political over 30 years it is not hard to see what she has done in the past and read between the lines in this election year. Gun owners are not stupid. They realize a Clinton presidency and the Supreme Court appointments could dramatically change gun laws over the next four years. Every poll that shows Clinton gaining ground will send more buyers to gun stores and gun shows looking to add a couple of guns to their collection while they still can.

We are at the end of September and the FBI background checks will be released over the next few days. If they have risen as expected it will lift Ruger out of the 6-week decline.

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. August is typically a slow month for gun sales. The four best months of the year are September through December.

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.

Update 10/3/16: FBI background checks rose from 1,853,815 in August to 1,992,219 in September. That was a 7.5% increase month to month. This compares to 1,795,102 in September 2015 or a +11% increase year over year.

Earnings Nov 1st.

Ruger shares bottomed on September 20th at $54.41 and have risen to test $58 on Thursday in a bad market. Shares did decline at the close but only lost 13 cents. That is very good relative strength.

I am using the $60 strike instead of the $57.50 because it is cheaper and we will have less at risk if the FBI background checks are weak.

Position 9/30/16:

Long Nov $60 call @ $1.89, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

WDC - Western Digitial - Company Profile


No specific news. Citi reportedly upgraded the stock but I could not find it other than a mention on CNBC that they did. Only a minor 17-cent decline. Micron posted strong earnings and guidance and that should help WDC because of the SanDisk acquisition.

Original Trade Description: September 26th.

Western Digital Corporation, together with its subsidiaries, 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. In addition, it provides consumer electronics solutions, including DVRs, gaming consoles, security surveillance, systems, set top boxes, camcorders, multi-function printers, and entertainment and automobile navigation systems. Company description from FinViz.com.

Western Digital recently acquired flash memory company SanDisk and they are stronger together. The company recently raised guidance for the second time as the integration of the two companies is turning out to be a winning duo.

WDC raised revenue guidance for the current quarter to $4.45-$4.55 billion up from $4.4-$4.5 billion. Analysts were expecting $3.41 billion. Gross margin guidance rose from 32% to 33%. Q3 earnings guidance rose from 85-90 cents to $1.00-$1.05. Analysts were expecting 68 cents. The company said the product mix was improving with the addition of the SanDisk lines. They also said PC sales were improving, as did Intel, and that means more disk drives sold.

Update 9/27/16: Research company Cleveland Research said channel checks for WDC showed continued strong demand for the most common hard drives and a potential ramp in demand for the new 10TB Helium drive. There was also strong execution and pricing for NAND chips. Cleveland projected earnings of $6.60 in fiscal 2018 and a mid $70s stock price. Shares closed at $58 after a $1.85 gain.

The Helium 10TB drive is filled with helium instead of air. Helium is one-seventh the density of air and that allows the read/write heads to fly smoother and closer to the actual magnetic recording surface, contain more recording platters, consume less power and operate at a lower temperature. More than one million Helium drives have already been sold with a mean time between failure of 2.5 million hours. Quality is expensive with a $750 price tag.

Earnings Oct 27th.

Shares spiked to $54 on the stronger guidance and then languished for a week before starting to move higher to start a new trend.

Position 9/27/16:

Long Nov $60 call @ $2.14, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

BEARISH Play Updates (Alpha by Symbol)

KR - Kroger Co - Company Profile


No specific news. Shares dropped to a new 2-year low. Zacks reiterated a sell rating.

Original Trade Description: September 24th.

The Kroger Co., operates as a retailer in the United States. It also manufactures and processes food for sale in its supermarkets. The company operates retail food and drug stores, multi-department stores, jewelry stores, and convenience stores. Its combination food and drug stores offer natural food and organic sections, pharmacies, general merchandise, pet centers, fresh seafood, and organic produce; multi-department stores provide general merchandise items, such as apparel, home fashion and furnishings, outdoor living, electronics, automotive products, toys, and fine jewelry; and price impact warehouse stores offer grocery, and health and beauty care items, as well as meat, dairy, baked goods, and fresh produce items. The company's marketplace stores comprise full-service grocery, pharmacy, health and beauty departments, and perishable goods, as well as general merchandise, including apparel, home goods, and toys. It operates under the banner brands, such as Kroger, Ralphs, Fred Meyer, King Soopers, etc., as well as Simple Truth and Simple Truth Organic brands. As of January 30, 2016, the company operated 2,778 retail food stores, including 1,387 fuel centers; 784 convenience stores; and 323 fine jewelry stores and an online retail store, as well as 78 franchised convenience stores. The Kroger Co. was founded in 1883. Company description from FinViz.com.

I wish I was writing a bullish play recommendation on Kroger but the chart is going in the opposite direction. They have so much going for them it is hard to understand the decline in the stock price. Hardly a week goes by that some broker does not reiterate a bullish rating on initiate a new one. Still the stock continues to fall.

I believe most are not aware of the new competition in the sector. The European discount grocer Lidl (Lee-dle) has established its U.S. headquarters in Arlington VA. They are planning store openings in Virginia, Maryland, NC and SC, Georgia, Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Those states are dominated by Kroger's various brands.

Lidl acquired the Harris Teeter Supermarket chain in NC in 2014 to get their foot in the door. The resulting performance of those stores convinced Lidl to go all out in an expansion phase.

Another German chain, Aldi, already has 1,400 discount grocery stores in the U.S. and plans to expand to 2,000 stores by 2018. That is a monster addition to the sector that is already scratching to make pennies on every item.

  Barclays said Kroger was facing its toughest pricing environment in 56 years. Heightened competition from Walmart and others has caused deflation in food prices.

For Q2, Kroger posted earnings of 47 cents that beat estimates for 45 cents. That was a 6.8% increase over the comparison quarter. However, "due to continued deflation" the company lowered full year earnings guidance from $2.19-$2.28 to $2.10-$2.20 per share. Revenue of $26.565 billion rose 4% but missed estimates for $26.783 billion. Same store sales rose 1.7%. They guided for 0.5% to 1.5% for the rest of 2016, which was lower than Q2.

Earnings Dec 9th.

With Kroger warning about lower earnings I think we could see shares decline back to the $25 range. The stock made a monster move in 2014 and then traded sideways for 2015-2016. That sideways trend has now failed and there is a lot of blank space on this chart.

Position 9/26/16:

Long Jan $30 put @ $1.50, no initial stop loss.

LULU - Lululemon Athletica - Company Profile


No specific news. Support at $60 is failing. Another down day and the decline should accelerate.

Original Trade Description: October 1st.

Lululemon athletica inc., designs, distributes, and retails athletic apparel and accessories for women, men, and female youth. It operates through two segments, Company-Operated Stores and Direct to Consumer. The company offers pants, shorts, tops, and jackets for healthy lifestyle and athletic activities, such as yoga and running; other sweaty pursuits; and athletic wear for female youth. It also provides fitness-related accessories, including bags, socks, underwear, yoga mats, and water bottles. The company sells its products through a chain of company-operated stores; outlets and warehouse sales; a network of wholesale channel, such as yoga studios, health clubs, and fitness centers; license and supply arrangements; and showrooms, as well as directly to consumer through lululemon.com and ivivva.com e-commerce sites. As of January 31, 2016, it operated 363 company-operated stores. Company description from FinViz.com.

Unfortunately for LULU the athleisure sector is seeing even more problems than the retail clothing sector in general. For Q2, the company reported earnings of 38 cents that matched estimates and revenue of $514.5 million that missed estimates slightly.

The bad news came from customer traffic and guidance. Same store sales fell to 5% compared to 5.9% estimates. LULU guided for Q3 earnings of 42-44 cents and analysts were expecting 44 cents. In the comparison quarter sales rose 17% thanks to new products And expanding menswear line. Unfortunately, consumers are no longer excited by the athleisure sector.

Mall shoppers are dwindling and LULU's high priced designer yoga apparel is too expensive for current consumer budgets. Abercrombie & Fitch, Gap, Macy's and Nordstrom's are all reporting declines in sales and closing stores. Everyone is fighting for that last consumer dollar and LULU is struggling to sell $100 yoga pants.

On Friday, Goldman Sachs cut its price target on LULU to $46 and reiterated a sell rating. The analyst believes the comps will decline to only 3% growth and full year earnings will drop to $2.28-$2.36 and analysts are expecting $2.51. He sees inventory turnover decelerating, weakening pricing power, slower traffic and slower online sales. The analyst expects LULU's core customer to branch out into less expensive competitive brands. Despite all the negatives LULU is still trading at a PE of 31 and far too high for the current outlook.

Earnings Dec 1st.

Shares crashed after the Q2 earnings to $66 where they held for three weeks. Multiple downgrades including the Goldman call last week have broken through that $66 support. Support from May is $60 and that is in danger of collapsing with $45 the next material target after a speed bump at $55.

Position 10/3/16:

Long Dec $60 put @ $3.40, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.
Short Dec $52.50 put @ $1.10, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.
Net debit $2.30

MBLY - Mobileye - Company Profile


No specific news. Support is about to break if we have another down day in the markets.

Original Trade Description: September 27th.

Mobileye N.V., together with its subsidiaries, develops computer vision and machine learning, data analysis, and localization and mapping for advanced driver assistance systems and autonomous driving technologies primarily in Israel. It operates through two segments, Original Equipment Manufacturing and After Market. The company offers Roadbook, a localized drivable paths and visual landmarks using its proprietary REM technology through crowd sourcing; and proprietary software algorithms and EyeQ chips that perform detailed interpretations of the visual field to anticipate possible collisions with other vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists, animals, debris, and other obstacles. Its products also detect roadway markings, such as lanes and road boundaries, as well as barriers and related items; and identify and read traffic signs, directional signs, and traffic lights. In addition, the company provides enhanced cruise control, pre-lighting of brake lights, and Bluetooth connectivity, as well as related smartphone application. It serves original equipment manufacturers, tier 1 system integrators, fleets and fleet management systems providers, insurance companies, leasing companies, and others through distributors and resellers. Mobileye N.V. was founded in 1999. Company description from FinViz.com.

Mobileye was kicked to the curb by Tesla because their camera technology was not precise enough and was subject to errors from things like lightning flash, rain storms, fog and oncoming headlights. Analysts claim the location accuracy needs to be within 1.5 centimeters or about 0.6 inches. While I do not understand the need to be precise to within half an inch I would expect that to be on near objects with the size miss widening if the objects are farther away. For instance, a rifle bullet that misses the target by half an inch at 10 feet would be 15 inches off target at 100 yards. When your car is traveling at 60 mph any miss of that size could be an immediate challenge as in a car coming towards you in two-way traffic.

Tesla also said they were hard to work with because the company demanded all the sensor data received from their cameras could only be used by Mobileye. That would be like Intel claiming all the data on your PC belonged to them because the PC had an Intel processor.

Multiple car manufacturers including Tesla, Ford and Volvo have now moved away from Mobileye technology. The company replacing them is Nvidia with their Drive PX2 technology. Uber is now using an off the shelf camera that costs only $1 and image processing is done in the onboard computer.

Trip Chowdhry of Global Equities Research said the stock is worth $10 today but remains hyper inflated because it was an early leader in the mobile technology. He expects the stock to collapse within 6-8 months as more investors realize the company is being left behind.

Earnings Nov 3rd.

Shares have been falling from their high of $50 as the heated words between Tesla and Mobileye increase. When Mobileye learned it was being replaced they tried to stop Tesla from developing their own system and immediately halted any support for previously installed systems.

Position 9/28/16:

Long Nov $40 put @ $2.08, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

SIG - Signet Jewelers - Company Profile


No specific news. Big 3% rebound today to stop us out.

Original Trade Description: September 20th.

Signet Jewelers Limited engages in the retail sale of diamond jewelry and watches. Its Sterling Jewelers division operates stores in malls and off-mall locations under the Kay Jewelers, Kay Jewelers Outlet, Jared The Galleria Of Jewelry, Jared Vault, Jared Jewelry Boutique, JB Robinson Jewelers, Marks & Morgan Jewelers, Every kiss begins with Kay, He went to Jared, Celebrate Life. Express Love., the Leo Diamond, Hearts Desire, Artistry Diamonds, Charmed Memories, Diamonds in Rhythm, Open Hearts by Jane Seymour, Radiant Reflections, Colors in Rhythm, Chosen by Jared, Now and Forever, and Ever Us names. As of January 30, 2016, this segment operated 1,540 stores.

The company's Zale division operates jewelry stores and mall-based kiosks in shopping malls under the Zales, Zales Jewelers, Zales the Diamond Store, Zales Outlet, Gordon's Jewelers, Peoples Jewellers, Peoples the Diamond Store, Peoples Outlet the Diamond Store, Mappins, Piercing Pagoda, Arctic Brilliance Canadian Diamonds, Candy Colored Jewelry, Celebration Diamond, The Celebration Diamond Collection, Unstoppable Love, and Endless Brilliance names. This segment operated 977 jewelry stores and 605 mall-based kiosks. Company description from FinViz.com.

In Q2, Signet reported earnings of $1.14, down from $1.28 and well below analyst estimates for $1.45. Revenue fell -2.6% to $1.37 billion and also missing estimates. Same store sales declined -2.3% system wide with sales at Jared down -7.6% and Kay Jewelers seeing a -0.5% decline.

The CEO blamed the drop in oil prices for the decline in jewelry sales. The company slashed guidance, cutting the earnings forecast from $8.35-$8.55 to $7.25-$7.55. They cut same store sales guidance from 2.0% - 3.5% growth to a decline of -2.5% to -1%.

Next earnings Nov 22nd.

Shares fell from $95 to $80 on the earnings news. After moving sideways for three weeks, shares began to fade last week and closed at a two year low today at $75.65.

Position 9/21/16 with a SIG trade at $75

Closed 10/4/16: Long Nov $70 put @ $2.43, exit 1.71, -.72 loss.

VXX - VIX Futures ETF - Company Profile


The VXX was down in a weak market. That tells us there are new VXX lows in our future.

This is a long-term position and I will not be commenting on it on a daily basis. There is no news on the VXX since it is not a company.

Original Trade Description: September 21st.

The VXX is a short term volatility product based on the VIX futures. As a futures product it has the rollover curse. Every time they roll to a new futures contract they have to pay a premium and that lowers the price of the ETF. It is a flawed product with a perpetual decline built in from the monthly roll over in the futures contracts.

As evidence of this flaw, they have now down four 1:4 reverse stock splits. The last four reverse splits occurred at $13.11 (11/2010), $8.77 (10/2012), $12.84 (11/2013), $9.52 (8/8/16). The prospectus says it can reverse split anytime it trades under $25 for a prolonged period and the splits will always be 1:4.

After the August split the ETF moved sideways for four weeks at $36. The volatility event on Sept 9th with the Dow falling -2.5% spiked the VXX from $33 to $42 in three days. That bounce has faded and it is almost back at $33. You are probably thinking, the $40 level would have been a good entry point and you are right in hindsight. However, with the market in danger of breaking down if the Fed had hiked rates, it was better to wait. Now there is nothing on the horizon to cause a spike other than normal market movement.

This is going to be a long-term position. I am not putting a stop loss on the position because long term the VXX always goes down. If we get another volatility spike we will buy another position at a higher level and then ride them both back down.

The market typically rises in late October and into the Thanksgiving weekend. A rising market reduces volatility.

I thought about using a spread to reduce the out of pocket costs. However, that means the strikes have to be relatively close together for the short strike to have any premium. Since the VXX could decline 10 points or more before December, that would limit our potential return to 3-4 points in a spread. However, if we do get a big decline we can spread out at much lower level to further increase our gains.

Position 9/22/16:

Long Dec $33 Put @ $4.20. No stop 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