Option Investor

Daily Newsletter, Monday, 11/21/2016

Table of Contents

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

Market Wrap

All Time Highs Across The Board

by Thomas Hughes

Click here to email Thomas Hughes


The major indices, ex-Transports, all set new all time highs in today's session; the transports set a new a new 19 month high and is fast approaching its all time high. Today's move is an extension of the Trump rally, there was no economic data, earnings or other to move the market, but is on light holiday-trading-week volume. Thanksgiving is this week, another year is fast coming to a close, so that means no trading on Thursday, early closure on Friday and low low volume throughout the week. International trading was light as well. Markets in Asia and Europe closed with small gains as rising oil prices helped support them.

Market Statistics

Futures trading indicated a flat to slightly positive open all morning and this held into the opening bell. At the bell traders took the bull by the horns and rode it to up to test current all time highs and then an hour later to new all time highs. Today's rally lasted until about 1:30PM at which time an intraday top was put in, leading to a small pull back to test for support which did not last long. By 2:30 the indices were back at the highs of the day and by 4PM were setting new highs, closing at the highs of the day.

Economic Calendar

The Economy

There is no official economic data on the calendar today but there is quite a bit this week. Because of the holiday most of it comes out on Wednesday, including the weekly jobless claims and the Minutes To The FOMC Meeting. Wednesday could be a little wild due to a combination of low volume and economic overload going into a holiday.

Moody's Survey of Business Confidence fell for the first time in 6 weeks but is still holding near a 7 month high. The index fell by -0.5% to 32.1 and, according to Mr. Zandi, shows a global economy that is expanding at the "high end of its potential", what I interpret to mean near full speed. The takeaway is that sentiment has rebound from summer lows, global businesses have been able to move past events like Brexit, The Turkey Coup, South American political instability and the US election.

Third quarter earnings season is nearly over, 95% of the S&P has reported so far with another 2.5% reporting this week. Of those that have reported 72% have beaten earnings estimates, 55% have beaten revenue estimates with a blended rate of earnings growth (includes estimates for those yet to report) is now 3.0%, at the high end of the expected range. Unless something major changes this number is likely to stand, breaking the 5 quarter earnings recession.

Looking forward earnings growth is expected to continue and expand into the coming quarters. Fourth quarter estimates have fallen once again, shedding a tenth, but remain positive and expansionary at 3.4%. Take into account that the final rate of earnings growth for the quarter is likely to rise by +4% by the end of the reporting season and 4th quarter growth could be as much as 7.5% to 8%. Looking out into next year the first whispers I've heard for 1st quarter growth is +10%, full year 2017 estimates held steady at 11.4%.

The Dollar Index

The Dollar Index took a breather today, not surprising and not unwelcome following the 5.5% run it has undertaken over the past 2 weeks. The index is trading at new long term highs, about 1% above resistance-now-turned-possible-support, and in need of a consolidation or test of support in order for the rally to remain healthy. This action may last for the next few weeks, up to and until the next round of central bank meetings. The next FOMC meeting is December 13-14th, the ECB meeting is the week before. Target for support is $101.50, based on convergence with MACD and strength in stochastic I do expect to see these highs retested again at least. The FOMC meeting is likely to bring a rate hike, and that will be followed up by Trumponomics and expected increases to inflation and more rate hikes.

The Oil Index

Oil prices got a big boost today from renewed expectations that OPEC will reach a deal to cut production. Today's move was aided by support from Russia who says they are in favor and supportive of such a deal. WTI surged nearly 5% intraday, settling up nearly 4%, to trade near $47.50. The meeting is next week so prices may stay high until then but be careful, the cartel will have to deliver and deliver BIG in order to really move the market. Last month's production data has them at a new high, much higher than when the talk of curbing production began, so anything less than the difference leaves supply/demand tilted to supply.

The Oil Index surged to a new 7 month high but remains within the 8 month trading range. The index is supported by rising prices and intense hopes that OPEC will reach agreement, and that the agreement will stick. The index gained 2.5% but fell short of resistance at the 1,195 level. The indicators are on the rise but remain weak and consistent with range bound trading so a break to new highs doesn't look likely, yet. Next week things may change.

The Gold Index

Gold prices rose slightly today as dollar values backed off. Spot gold gained about 0.25% but was not able to hold early gains, settling up only 0.15% and near $1,210. The near and short term trend in gold is down, and with dollar outlook bullish it looks like those trends will continue. Strong support may exist at $1,200 but it has yet to be touched.

The gold miners remain under pressure although they were able to bounce back somewhat today. The Gold Miners ETF GDX gained a little over 2% but the chart does lot look bullish. The ETF appears to be making a bear flag, beneath the 50% retracement level, with a downside target near $16.50. This move may come even without another big drop in gold prices, forward earnings in the sector have been hurt enough as it is.

In The News, Story Stocks and Earnings

Tyson Foods reported before the bell and did not deliver what the market expected. The supplier of delicious chicken reported earnings and revenue well below estimates, lowered full year guidance, the CEO is stepping down further depressing a stock hurting from a class action lawsuit related to manipulation of broiler hen prices. Shares of Tyson fell -15% to trade at a potential support level near $55. Tyson is a good company, (almost) everybody eats chicken, I think this one will recover.

Jack In The Box served up a hit when it reported results after the bell. The hamburger chain beat EPS by a dime, more than 10%, raised full year guidance to be in line with consensus and raised the dividend by 33%. The caveat is that results are driven more by cost savings than improved traffic, trends within the industry are described as sluggish. Shares of the stock fell -2% on the news.

The VIX continues to move lower. Today the index dropped below 12.50 and looks like it will hit long term lows near 10 over the next few weeks.

The Indices

Today was a relatively light day of trading. The indices made a quick move higher at the open, consolidated mid day and then moved back to the highs later in the day and held those levels in to the close. Volume was light but new all time highs were set, just about across the board. Today's leader was the NASDAQ Composite which closed with a gain near 0.89%. The tech heavy index created a medium sized white candle, extending the rally and move up from the short term moving average, and set a new all time high. The indicators are on the rise and support the move so it could very well continue into the near term. The indicators are not yet showing strength but an upside target of 5,500 is not out of the question.

The S&P 500 is runner up today, gaining about 0.75% and breaking out to a new all time high. The broad market created a smallish to medium sized white candle, extending the election bounce and move up from the short term moving average, and is supported by the indicators. Both MACD and stochastic are on the rise, suggesting higher prices are on the way, stochastic confirming the break out by breaking above its upper signal line. This move looks set to continue into the near term, upside target near 2,250.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average came in third in today's session, about 0.47%, but did manage to set a new all time high. The blue chips look like this could be the first move higher from a consolidation band but if so, has yet to show strength. The indicators are bullish and on the rise, in support of the move, so a continuation looks very possible. The caveat is that here, like with the transports, MACD has peaked and may be indicating an end to the rally is near, or at least that momentum is running low during this leg of the rally. The thing to keep in mind about this signal is that now that the market has broken to new highs there may be several bullish MACD peaks within a longer term movement, this may be just the first. Stochastic is showing strength and does not confirm resistance, weakness or impending pullback. It may be considered overbought but this condition could easily persist for a long time during a bull market.

The Dow Jones Transportation Average comes in last today with a gain near 0.46%. The transports did not set a new all time high but it did set a new long term nearly 20 month high and looks set to test the all time high very soon. The indicators are bullish and support rising prices although MACD has peaked. This peak may be an intermediate peak within a longer uptrend but nonetheless raises a red flag. Upside target is the all time high, about 4% above today's close, and may provide significant resistance.

Trading was light but today's action was still important, the indices moved up to new highs. The first forays to such lofty levels may have been tepid but there were not met by resistance. This does not mean the bears are not there, just that they weren't waiting to pounce. If things play out the according to expectations the bears may not come in force for a while yet. The signs are still pointing to a period of long term economic growth, earnings outlook remain positive and the world seems happy about it.

We've yet to see a really strong follow through on the Trump rally but in the end I think a nice, slow, steady follow through may be better. A sharp drive to some crazy high level would be cool, for a while, but likely to come crashing back to reality. A slow build of market pressure will allow stocks to build solid support and prices to rise in a sustainable way. I am still cautious, not quite ready to go all in, but also getting more and more bullish by the day and looking to buy on the dips, and where I see strength.

Maybe, just maybe, next week's dump of data or the next week's FOMC meeting could spark a true Santa Rally, maybe it's already here.

Until then, remember the trend!

Thomas Hughes

New Option Plays

Cloud Security

by Jim Brown

Click here to email Jim Brown

Editors Note:

The Internet of Things (IoT) is proving to be a headache for security companies and Internet users. While FFIV does not provide security software for eachIoT device, they do provide software and services to prevent that device from taking down networks.


FFIV - F5Networks - Company Profile

F5 Networks, Inc. develops, markets, and sells application delivery networking products that optimize the security, performance, and availability of network applications, servers, and storage systems. It offers Local Traffic Manager, which provides intelligent load-balancing, traffic management, and application health checking; BIG-IP DNS that automatically directs users to the closest or best-performing physical, virtual, or cloud environment; Link Controller, which monitors the health and availability of each connection in organizations with more than one Internet service provider; Advanced Firewall Manager, a network firewall; and Application Security Manager, an Web application firewall that provides comprehensive, proactive, and application-layer protection against generalized and targeted attacks. The company also provides Access Policy Manager, which provides secure, granular, and context-aware access to networks and applications; Carrier-Grade Network Address Translation, which offers a set of tools that enables service providers to migrate to IPv6 while continuing to support and interoperate with existing IPv4 devices and content; and Policy Enforcement Manager that offers traffic classification capabilities to identify the specific applications and services to service providers. In addition, it offers cloud-based and other subscription services; BIG-IP appliances; VIPRION chassis-based systems; and Traffix Signaling Delivery Controller for diameter signaling and routing. Company description from FinViz.com.

The big attack on the Internet several weeks ago was driven by malware that had been placed on IoT devices including security cameras, cable boxes, burglar alarms and dozens of other device types. These devices are typically delivered without any material malware defenses. It is up to each manufacturer to overcome this in the future with some kind of defense.

However, FFIV provides software and hardware to prevent denial of service attacks from these devices as well as the more robust attacks from computers and servers. With more and more servers in the cloud it is harder to protect them from attack like you would dedicated physical servers in a dedicated data center. This is where FFIV excels.

The company's Silverline service places a sophisticated cloud based filter around critical infrastructure that stops attacks instantly. Aided by hardware based firewalls in dedicated data centers they protect data and equipment from all outside attacks.

For Q3 they reported earnings of $2.11 compared to estimates for $1.94. revenue ot $525 million beat estimates for $520 million.

Earnings Jan 21st.

FFIV shares spiked on earnings in late October and have been moving steadily higher. They are about to break over resistance at $144 and we could see another leg higher when that happens.

Buy Jan $150 call, currently $3.40, initial stop loss $137.50.


No New Bearish Plays

In Play Updates and Reviews


by Jim Brown

Click here to email Jim Brown

Editors Note:

All the major indexes with the exception of the Nasdaq 100 broke out to new highs on Monday. I mentioned in the last newsletter that the flag pattern typically resolved to the upside and today was the day. The Dow broke out from a week of consolidation. The S&P finally surged through the resistance at 2190-2193 to close at a new high and almost the high for the day.

The Russell 2000 completed its 12th consecutive daily gain and tied the record set in 2003.

With this typically a bullish week we have a pretty good chance of further gains BUT the market is very overbought.

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

ADP - Automatic Data

The call position was entered at the open.

CERN - Cerner

The put position was stopped at $50.25.

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

AAPL - Apple Inc - Company Profile


Monday was a battle between analysts. Canaccord Genuity reiterated a buy rating saying the iPhone installed base should reach 570 million by year end and provide a built in customer list for future product releases. They said Apple is not lacking for demand with the iPhone 7 deliveries still constrained by manufacturing delays. They believe smart phone market share will increase from the 11.7% trough in Q2 to 18.5% in Q4.

Oppenheimer said Apple lacked the "courage to lead the next generation of innovations" and as a result "Over the next decade we believe the stock will underperform the market." They maintained a "perform" rating.

Original Trade Description: November 16th.

Apple Inc. designs, manufactures, and markets mobile communication and media devices, personal computers, and portable digital music players to consumers, small and mid-sized businesses, and education, enterprise, and government customers worldwide. The company also sells related software, services, accessories, networking solutions, and third-party digital content and applications. It offers iPhone, a line of smartphones; iPad, a line of multi-purpose tablets; and Mac, a line of desktop and portable personal computers. Company description from FinViz.com.

Apple shares have been under pressure since topping at $118.25 before their Q3 earnings. Q4 estimates are rising thanks to the problems with the Samsung Note 7 that forced its removal from the market. Sales are said to be booming despite tight supply. Apple cannot make enough phones to fill the demand going into the holiday season and that suggests it should be a good quarter.

The company is also expected to announce some new products soon including "digital glasses." The rumors breaking about the next iPhone model to be announced next September already have Apple fanatics excited. Those include full frontal screens without any edges. This will allow full use of the phone's screen and allow for smaller phones overall sizes while keeping the screen sizes the same. There is rumored to be a 4.7 inch, 5.0 inch and 5.5 inch model. The 5.5 inch model is said to be an OLED screen with curved edges.

Regardless of the future new product rumors, several high profile funds have increased positions in the stock. Steve Cohen and Ray Dalio have reportedly increased their stakes.

Apple shares dipped to $104 on Monday and touched the 200-day average. That has been support/resistance dating back to September 2013. Since Monday's dip, which was seen as the last bout of climax selling for the big cap tech stocks, Apple shares have risen for two days.

Today, with Apple at $108, somebody bought 160,000 contracts of the December $115 calls. Even at the average price of 75 cents that was a $12 million dollar bet that Apple is going higher over the next 30 days. That takes some serious conviction. I am recommending we follow them only use the January option just in case they are wrong about the timing.

Earnings January 24th.

Position 11/17/16:

Long Jan $115 call @ $1.85, no initial stop loss.

ADP - Automatic Data Processing - Company Profile


No specific news. Nice gain. Now at resistance at $96.

Original Trade Description: November 19th.

Automatic Data Processing, Inc., together with its subsidiaries, provides business process outsourcing services worldwide. The company operates through two segments, Employer Services and Professional Employer Organization (PEO) Services. The Employer Services segment offers a range of business outsourcing and technology-enabled human capital management (HCM) solutions, including payroll services, benefits administration services, talent management, human resources management solutions, time and attendance management solutions, insurance services, retirement services, and tax and compliance solutions. This segment's integrated HCM solutions include RUN Powered by ADP, ADP Workforce Now, ADP Vantage HCM, and ADP GlobalView, which assist employers of all sizes in all stages of the employment cycle from recruitment to retirement; and ADP SmartCompliance and ADP Health Compliance. The PEO Services segment provides a human resources (HR) outsourcing solution through a co-employment model to small and mid-sized businesses. This segment offers ADP TotalSource that provides various HR management services and employee benefits functions, such as HR administration, employee benefits, and employer liability management into a single-source solution. Company description from FinViz.com.

ADP reported a 26.5% rise in earnings to 86 cents that beat estimates by 9 cents. Revenues rose 7.5% to $2.92 billion and beat estimates for $1.91 billion. The number of employees on client payrolls rose 2.7%. They ended the quarter with $2.82 billion in cash and long-term debt of $2 billion. The announced the sale of their CHSA and COBRA business to WageWorks for $235 million. The sale will be completed in Q2 2017.

The company guided for 2017 revenue growth of 7% to 8% and 15% to 17% earnings growth. The PEO Services segment revenues are expected to rise 14% to 16%.

The company just declared a 57-cent quarterly dividend to raise the annual dividend to $2.28.

ADP holds a dominant position in the payroll processing sector. With employment expected to rise again in 2017 this could be an attractive investment for funds that are tired of chasing industrials and bank stocks in the current rally.

There is resistance at $96 but given the time of year and the overbought conditions in the rest of the market, we could see a breakout. Options are relatively cheap.

Position 11/21/16:

Long Feb $95 call @ $2.50, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

FB - Facebook - Company Profile


After the close Friday Facebook announced a $6 billion stock buyback program to start in January 2017. The news helped push the stock higher today with a +4.75 gain. Once shares broke above the 200-day average, there was significant buying activity.

Original Trade Description: November 12th.

Facebook disappointed on guidance when they reported earnings for Q3. Earnings were $1.09 compared to estimates for 92 cents. Revenue was $7.01 billion compared to $6.92 billion. That was a 56% increase from the year ago quarter. Monthly active users rose to 1.79 billion and beat expectations for 1.76 billion. That was a gain of 80 million users. Daily active users rose to 1.18 billion and beat estimates for 1.16 billion. More than 1 billion daily users are mobile users. That accounted for $5.7 billion in revenue or 84% of its total ad revenue compared to 78% in the year ago period.

The problem came from the guidance. The CFO said revenue growth rates will decline in coming quarters. The reason is the number of ads already running called the "ad load." Facebook has run out of places to display ads because they are all booked. The company also said 2017 would be an "aggressive investment year" as they grow capex "substantially" and ramp up hiring.

Facebook still makes a lot of money and they still have a lot of assets to monetize. Shares fell to the 200-day average on Thursday and that has been support since mid 2013. I believe buyers will take advantage of the sharp decline in order to establish new positions. Facebook will rebound and it will set new highs. Those highs may not be in the near future but that does not mean we will not see a short term rebound.

Earnings February 1st.

Position 11/16/16:

Long Feb $125 call @ $3.05, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

IWM - Russell 2000 ETF - ETF Profile


Excellent relative strength continued. The Russell 2000 is now up 12 consecutive days. That ties the longest streak ever from 2003.

Original Trade Description: November 5th.

The IWM currently holds 1,975 stocks and attempts to replicate the performance of the Russell 2000 Small Cap Index.

The S&P has now declined for nine consecutive days and the longest streak in 36 years. That is the equivalent to red coming up on the roulette table nine times in a row. The index is short-term oversold after a 4.8% decline. I believe the sell off over election uncertainty is nearly over. Investors and funds have had a week since the end of the October fiscal year end to make changes to their portfolios and raise cash for their post election purchases.

We all know there are several sectors that will not do well under a Clinton presidency and some that will prosper. Under a Trump presidency there are more profitable sectors but there is a greater fear of the unknown. He is a take no prisoners type of person and he has a lot of ideas about how to make American great again. Unfortunately, it may start off with a larger market sell off on that uncertainty.

Clinton is still ahead in the polls with two days to go and she is pulling out all the stops. The electoral map favors Clinton because there are more democrats than republicans. The heavily populated coastal states with a high number of electoral votes are liberal democrat while most of the flyover states are conservative republican.

The key point here is that Clinton is favored to win despite all her problems. If that turns out to be the case the market is expected to rally 3% to 5% very quickly.

There is always the possibility of a Trump upset and a temporary market dip but that would be the "Brexit dip" that should be bought. This is a headline event rather than a sudden change in the government. It would take many months or even years to get his changes passed into laws, and some would never be passed. The key point is that a Trump victory could be a sell the news event followed by a Brexit type rebound.

I am recommending a call position on the Russell 2000 ETF because the Russell is the most oversold. It is also cheaper for a speculative position.

I am going to recommend two entries. One for a positive move higher and one for a dip buy. It is entirely possible we could end up with both positions. If the dip entry is triggered first, cancel the rebound entry.

This is a SPECULATIVE position. Do not invest money you cannot afford to lose.

Rebound entry:

Position 11/7/16: With an IWM trade at $117.25
Long Dec $119 call @ $2.47, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

SMG - Scotts Miracle Grow - Company Profile


No specific news. Big spike at the open but faded in the afternoon. Now approaching resistance at $89-$90.

Original Trade Description: November 12th.

The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company manufactures, markets, and sells consumer lawn and garden products worldwide.

Nine states had legalization of marijuana on the ballot in some form and eight approved the measures. California, Massachusetts, Maine and Nevada approved it for recreational use. Arkansas, Florida and North Dakota approved it for medical use, which is a first step towards eventual recreational use. Montana approved a measure for commercial growing and distribution. Arizona was the only state where a recreational use measure failed.

Scotts has already said the legalization of pot was good for their business since growers want to grow it fast and grow it indoors. Over the last two years, Scotts has acquired two hydroponic acquisitions. One of them was a marijuana nutrient and growing products maker. They are branching out into the equipment and lighting required for indoor plant cultivation with the acquisition of Gavita, a grow light and hardware producer. They recognize pot as an "emerging high-growth opportunity" under their Hawthorne Gardening Company brand. They want to invest $500 million in the marijuana industry.

Scotts recently spun off its Scotts LawnService yard fertilizer business into a partnership with TruGreen so that low margin business is gone. The partnership pays distributions back to Scotts.

In the last quarter, sales rose 7% with consumer purchases rising 10%. This compares to the full year revenue growth of 2%. This shows how fast the business is growing with the new focus. They are projecting 6% to 7% revenue growth in 2017 and adjusted earnings of $4.10-$4.30. They called those numbers conservative.

Earnings Feb 2nd.

Position 11/14/16:

Long March $90 call @ $3.90, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

WDC - Western Digital - Company Profile


No specific news. Opening spike over $62 faded in the afternoon.

Original Trade Description: November 12th

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).

Western Digital bought flash memory maker SanDisk in October 2015 and this is going to supercharge their product offerings. They have already raised guidance after a couple quarters of integration. Revenue in Q3 rose 38% to $4.7 billion.

Last week WDC announced a 50-cent quarterly dividend payable Jan 17th to holders on Dec 30th.

The consensus rating of 27 analysts is a buy with a price target of $69.64. Shares closed at $58.89 on Friday.

They reported earnings on Oct 27th and spiked to $62. Post earnings depression saw them fade back to $55 and now they are moving up again. I believe they will exceed that $62 earnings high. They traded at $115 in 2015.

Earnings Jan 25th.

Position 11/14/16:

Long Jan $62.50 call @ $2.20, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

XBI - Biotech ETF ETF Profile


The XBI is consolidating after the big post election spike. Today was a minor gain but still a gain.

Original Trade Description: October 29th.

The SPDR S&P Biotech ETF seeks to provide investment results that, before fees and expenses, correspond generally to the total return performance of the S&P Biotechnology Select Industry Index.

The XBI traded up to $69 in late September and has since crashed back to support at $56 as various biotech stocks released data on drug trials that were not successful, were involved in drug pricing schemes or simply issued a profit warning as was the case with Illumina.

The three weeks of headlines over the EpiPen pricing disaster pushed all the drugs stocks lower on worries of drug price controls.

Comments from Clinton, Warren and Sanders about drug pricing concerns also caused investors to flee the biotech sector.

The biotechs may have ended their decline in fear of Hillary Clinton. After the news on Friday about the FBI reopening the criminal investigation on her emails, that should make it really tough to win the election. That means the biotech sector could begin to rebound even before the vote if the polls tighten even further or move into Trump's favor.

On Friday 10/28, the healthcare sector imploded on earnings and warnings from several companies including McKesson, AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and others. The XBI failed to decline after hitting support at $56.

With the XBI now -18% off its September high, all of those factors above are baked into the market. This may be time to place a bet on a biotech rebound.

The ETF has support at $56 and the 200-day at $56.55. The dip on Friday penetrated to $55.80 but then rebounded $1 in a weak market.

I am recommending we buy a cheap December call ahead of the polls that will be out next week. If Clinton does win, we will exit on any weakness.

Position 11/8/16 with a XBI trade at $58

Long Jan $60 call @ $2.37, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

BEARISH Play Updates (Alpha by Symbol)

CERN - Cerner - Company Profile


No specific news. Just too much bullishness in the market for shorts to work. Every oversold stock suddenly looks like a buying opportunity. We were stopped out at $50.25 for a minor loss.

Original Trade Description: November 14th.

Cerner Corporation designs, develops, markets, installs, hosts, and supports health care information technology, health care devices, hardware, and content solutions for health care organizations and consumers in the United States and internationally. The company offers Cerner Millennium architecture, which includes clinical, financial, and management information systems that allow providers to access an individual's electronic health record at the point of care, and organizes and delivers information for physicians, nurses, laboratory technicians, pharmacists, front- and back-office professionals, and consumers. It also provides HealtheIntent platform, a cloud-based platform that enables organizations to aggregate, transform, and reconcile data across the continuum of care, as well as assists to enhance outcomes and lower costs. Company description from FinViz.com.

When the company reported earnings on November 1st they missed on all three metrics. Earnings of 59 cents missed estimates by a penny. Revenue of $1.18 billion missed estimates for $1.24 billion. They guided for Q4 earnings of 60-62 cents and analysts were expecting 65 cents. They guided for revenue of $1.23-$1.30 billion and analysts expected $1.32 billion. Bookings fell -10% to $1.43 billion and below Cerner's own guidance for $1.45-$1.60 billion.

Shares fell after the report then fell again after the election on uncertainty over what the health care changes will do to existing programs and services. With potentially sweeping changes to the sector and Cerner already under pressure the stock began to decline again.

Earnings Jan 31st.

With shares declining in a bullish market and setting a new 3-year low on Friday, I expect them to continue lower as the bullishness wears off.

Position 11/15/16

Closed 11/21/16: Long Jan $47.50 put @ $1.65, exit .90, -.75 loss.

VXX - VIX Futures ETF - Company Profile


New historic low on a -4.4% drop.

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.

YUM - YUM Brands - Company Profile


The downtrend was reversed on Friday because of the $2 billion buyback announcement. That gain began to fade today.

I do not have a stop loss on this position because the option is so cheap.

Original Trade Description: November 2nd.

YUM! Brands, Inc., operates quick service restaurants. It operates in three segments: the KFC Division, the Pizza Hut Division, and the Taco Bell Division. The company develops, operates, franchises, and licenses a system of restaurants, which prepare, package, and sell various food items. As of April 21, 2016, it operated approximately 36,000 restaurants in approximately 130 countries and territories primarily under the KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell brands, which specialize in chicken, pizza, and Mexican-style food categories. Company description from FinViz.com.

Yum China had 7,300 stores and adding 1,500 since 2012. Currently they are on a path to add 600 stores a year with a growth target of 20,000 stores. This was the growth engine for Yum Brands.

Now the parent company is going to focus on a dividend model and returning cash to shareholders. Yum is planning on reducing its owned store count in the U.S. from 3,200 to 1,000. In the U.S. the pace of new restaurants has slowed significantly and Yum will concentrate on generating and retaining cash of its existing portfolio.

While Yum may generate a great dividend in the years to come, the excitement has evaporated from the stock. There will be little growth and earnings are going to flat line.

Update 11/4/16: Yum announced a giant expansion plan for Taco Bell. They are going to add 2,600 stores by the end of 2022 to bring their total to 9,000 US locations. That will increase employment by 100,000 from the current 210,000. Shares declined on the news.

Apparently I was wrong about Yum Brands lack of expansion. They are taking their most popular store and spending the money they are getting from yum China to expand it. While this will have no impact on YUM in the near future, it would be beneficial five years from now and raise earnings and dividends.

Earnings Jan 4th.

Shares are at $60 and I think they have risk to $55 or even $45. There is support at $57.50 but the company has changed. I would not be surprised to see shares cut through that support very quickly.

The YUMC shares began trading on Tuesday and YUM shares have declined sharply on Tue/Wed. The option is cheap and we will have little risk.

Position 11/3/16:

Long Dec $57.50 put @ $1.10, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

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