Option Investor

Daily Newsletter, Thursday, 8/10/2017

Table of Contents

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

Market Wrap

The Korean Correction

by Thomas Hughes

Click here to email Thomas Hughes


US indices pulled back on mounting tension with North Korea, is it time for correction or is this the next entry point within the Trump Rally? The answer to that question will likely come down to how the North Korean situation plays out. If it continues to escalate the correction could deepen, if it begins to blow over the rally may resume. Regardless, underlying fundamentals remain bullish with positive forward outlook so a major reversal is likely not in the cards.

International indices moved lower on mounting tensions with North Korea. Asian markets were the least affected, shedding less than a half percent on average. The Heng Seng led with a loss of -1.13%. Losses in Europe were much sharper in the range of -1.0% on average. Downward pressure was exacerbated by weakness here at home despite positive showing on the earnings front.

Market Statistics

Futures were down all morning indicating an open about -.35% below yesterday's close. This held fairly steady throughout the morning with little movement on earnings or economic releases. The open was active but not crazy, the indices began trading with small losses and quickly turned those into moderate losses. The SPX hit -1% around 10AM, bounced before moving a bit lower, and then hit intraday bottom near -1.25% just after 12:30. The market crept steadily higher over the next hour but did not recover more than about 0.25% of the loss before resistance was hit. Late in the day selling resumed and took the indices down to the lows of the session where they lingered into the close.

Economic Calendar

The Economy

Weekly jobless claims continue to reflect tight labor market conditions. Initial claims rose by 3,000 on top of an upward revision of 1,000 to hit 244,000. The 4 week moving average of claims fell by -1,000 to hit 241,000. On a not adjusted basis claims rose 6.5% versus an expectation of only 5.1% and are down -8.5% year over year. While the downtrend in initial claims has stabilized over the past 6 months it has done so near historic lows and is consistent with labor market health.

Continuing claims fell by -16,000 to hit 1.951 million. The headline number of continuing claims has made a near term top and fallen below the moving average so may be headed lower in the near term. The 4 week moving average of claims rose by 500 but remains well below 2.0 million, near historic lows and consistent with labor market health.

The total number of Americans receiving unemployment fell by -35,172 to hit 1.971 million. On a year over year basis total claims are down -8.0%. This week's decline is in line with seasonal and long term trends, and consistent with ongoing labor market improvement. Now that the total number has crested it's seasonal mid-summer peak we can expect to see it fall over the next 2.5 to 3 months. Downside target is between 1.5 and 1.75 million.

The Producer Price Index came in at -0.1% and below expectations. Consensus target was 0.3%. Ex-food/energy inflation is unchanged month to month. On a year over year basis headline producer level inflation is running at 1.9%, just shy of the Fed's 2% target. In terms of market reaction this report was perfectly neutral as it did not raise fear of the Fed or of a slowing economy.

The Dollar Index

The Dollar Index was able to creep higher by 0.15% despite safe haven flows to the yen and the Swiss franc. The index created the fourth of four small bodied candles that have formed since the NFP induced bottom last week. The index may be in reversal but this may mean a change to sideways from down and not down to up. The indicators are bullish and moving higher although stochastic may be said to be overbought within a downtrend. If the index is in reversal there will likely be a test/retest of support with additional signal so I see no need to rush into anything. Support is at the recent low, near $92.75 and the 15 month low. Resistance is just below $94, a break above which would help confirm bullish reversal. On the economic front data is in support of growth and the dollar, but not strong enough to increase the FOMC rate hike outlook.

The Gold Index

Gold prices surged to a 2+ month high of safe haven inflows. In the near term resistance is near $1,300 with spot prices trading just below at $1,292. Today's action saw the metal gain nearly a full percent and confirm support near $1,280. If the Korean Situation escalates further it could send gold even higher with the caveat the move is driven on fear and taking gold to an upper extreme it may not have otherwise reached. Sooner or later the situation underlying the move will blow over and prices will return to a more normal level. That said I'd be more interested in selling at resistance than getting on board with the rally.

The Gold Miners ETF GDX jumped nearly 2% on the move in gold but the move was capped at near term resistance. Resistance is near $22, the top of near term trading range and the mid-point of a short/long term trading range. The indicators remain consistent with range bound trading and do not suggest change is coming. If the ETF does move higher it will hit next resistance near $23.60 and the 38.2% retracement level. Support may be found just below today's candle near the long and short term moving averages, in the range of $22.50 to $22.75.

The Oil Index

Oil prices had another volatile day, first moving up to test resistance and then later falling from that resistance to close with losses greater than 1.30%. While US inventory data was bullish yesterday new data confirming rising production within OPEC and indications Russia is thinking about increasing production weighed on prices. On the OPEC front today's data included details on last month's production, a 2017 peak driven largely by Nigeria and Libyan increases but also attributable to tenuous compliance with the production cap. On the Russia front Gazprom said in a statement that it was economically feasible to resume production in fields now dormant once the OPEC/Russia production cap expired. Fundamentals remain supply side heavy and likely to remain so into the foreseeable future.

The Oil Index fell a little more than -0.80% to hit the 1,120 level. This has been a significant support/resistance level for over a year whose test as support now may confirm bottom and reversal in the energy sector. I've been anticipating such a reversal for some time now, primarily due to forward earnings growth outlook, but not yet ready to pull the trigger. The indicators have only just rolled over and oil looks like it might move lower within the range near term so a test of support at 1,120 is likely. A move below this level would be bearish near term with target neat 1,100. A confirmation and/or bounce from support may find resistance near 1,150 and the long term moving average.

In The News, Story Stocks and Earnings

Earnings, and specifically retail earnings, were front and center this morning. Reports from Kohl's, Macy's, Dillards and others failed to soothe fears of slow down in the brick & mortar operators. Macy's reported earnings and revenue slightly above consensus but also comp store sales down -2.5% and full year guidance for -4% sales growth. Kohl's also reported above expectations but internals within the report show declining sales and struggling business. Dillard's revenue beat by a fraction, due to massive mark downs that I myself took advantage of, but declining YOY revenue and comp store sales weighed on share prices. The group as a whole moved lower led by Dillard's -16% and followed up by -10% for Macy's and -6% for Kohl's. The XLF Retail Sector SPDR fell -3% and below near term support levels.

Snap reported after the bell and the social media app reported less than expected. Less than expected revenue, less than expected earnings and less than expected user growth. The good news is that revenue did grow, by a whopping 153%, but the net loss also widened calling into question profitability factors. Shares of the stock fell more than -6% on the news.

The VIX jumped nearly 40% today. The gain is caused by a combination of declining index prices and increasing options prices, and driven on near term fear. It is possible this fear will develop into something longer term but there is no sign of that at this time. Today's spike takes the index up above 15 and to levels it has peaked at 4 times before in 2017. At this level put options begin to become attractive, a test and/or confirmation of resistance could be the trigger for a fade.

The Indices

The indices moved lower today and there was no doubt about it. The North Korea situation is the catalyst but I think the market was ready to sell and just waiting for an excuse. Today's move was led by the tech sector and the NASDAQ Composite with a loss of -2.1. The index created a long red candle with flat bottom coming to rest just above my long term up trend line. It looks like it will continue lower to test support near the trend line at 6,200. The indicators are bearish and indicating strength in the near term, confirming this outlook. A break below 6,200 would be more firmly bearish but still not damage the long term up trend. Downside target in that case would be near 6,000 and the long term moving average.

The S&P 500 made the 2nd largest decline in today's session, -1.31%. The broad market index created a long red candle with bearish indications. Today's action falls below the short term moving average and is confirmed by bearish indicators. Both MACD and stochastic are moving lower in confirmation of the fall although longer indications remain bullish. If selling persists into the near term downside target is near 2,400 and the long term moving average.

The Dow Jones Transportation Average made the 3rd largest decline, -1.25%. The transports created a medium sized red candle falling below the long term moving average that looks poised to move lower. The indicators are mixed and suggest the move lower may be losing steam although downside momentum prevails. Target is near 9,000 or just below along the long term up trend line which has provided strong support several times in the past.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell -0.92% and created a medium sized red bodied candle. The index fell to support at a long term uptrend line and broke through. The indicators are consistent with a a peak within an uptrend but have not yet confirmed a move lower. Downside target is just below along the short term moving average, if the transports are leading the market we can expect that target to be exceeded.

The markets are moving lower and those moves may continue into the near term. The bottom line is that moves in the dollar, gold and equities are being driven by fear and not fundamentals. The Korean Situation is scary, poses a risk to the market and may result in WWIII but more likely to be resolved in a less dramatic way. What I am trying to say is that it is an excuse for profit taking and an extension of rotations already underway. Risk-off safe haven flows will eventually reverse and the markets will reverse with them. I've been waiting for a dip and this is it. I am firmly bullish long term and cautiously bullish near term waiting and watching for the dip to be bought.

Until then, remember the trend!

Thomas Hughes

New Option Plays

Buy or Sell?

by Jim Brown

Click here to email Jim Brown

Editors Note:

One day does not make a trend. The S&P posted a 5-point loss on Tuesday, 1 point on Wednesday and 36 points today. Today is the only day that counts. There have been other one day drops this year on March 21st (-29) and May 17th (-43) and neither decline saw the market continue to drop. The May rebound was immediate and the March period saw some volatility for a couple weeks but no meaningful declines. What should we expect this time?

The market is much more over overbought this time and we are entering into the normally weak Aug/Sep period. In theory, the market should continue lower but there is so much pent up demand from investors waiting on a buying opportunity that dip buyers could appear at any time. In a normal environment, I would be tempted to nibble on some positions today but this is not normal. With the geopolitical headlines surrounding North Korea and an impulsive and non-political president, there could be a show of military force at any moment. We know he is a counter puncher and Kim Jong-un knows he is getting under Trump's skin. This is a dangerous situation.

For that reason, investors probably do not want to be adding longs ahead of the weekend in a traditionally weak period. Of course, I could be wrong. We could see a dead cat bounce at the open on Friday and then another bout of selling.

I do not see any reason to be adding risk ahead of the weekend. There is a strong opportunity for heightened volatility. There is always time to enter new trades as long as you have cash in your account.


No New Bullish Plays


No New Bearish Plays

In Play Updates and Reviews


by Jim Brown

Click here to email Jim Brown

Editors Note:

The major indexes finally moved in the same direction and it was ugly. We have been expecting the normal August decline to appear and it arrived right on schedule. This is the first historical trend that has been repeated this year. Eventually, if enough big name analysts call for a market correction, it will appear. We were leaning heavily bearish with our VIX calls and DIA, SPY puts. We were rewarded today but the targets are a lot lower.

Markets rarely go straight up or straight down so there could be some dip buying on Friday morning but with the geopolitical events, investors may decide it is better to not be long over the weekend. The decline was blamed on North Korea but as I have written before, when markets are very overbought the talking heads on TV will blame whatever appears reasonable without any proof. The doubling down by President Trump on his "fire and fury" line may have accelerated the selling. The president said he "might not have gone far enough" with his threat since North Korea responded with the Guam attack claims. If the war of words increases, the market is likely to continue lower.

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

MMM - 3M Co
The long call position was entered at the open.

ITW - Illinois Tool Works
The long call position was stopped at $139.35.

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BULLISH Play Updates

ITW - Illinois Tool Works - Company Profile


No specific news. Shares imploded with the Dow to stop us out at $139.35.

Original Trade Description: Aug 5th.

Illinois Tool Works Inc. manufactures and sells industrial products and equipment worldwide. It operates through seven segments: Automotive OEM; Test & Measurement and Electronics; Food Equipment; Polymers & Fluids; Welding; Construction Products; and Specialty Products. The Automotive OEM segment produces plastic and metal components, fasteners, and assemblies for automotive-related applications. The Test & Measurement and Electronics segment provides equipment, consumables, and related software for testing and measuring of materials and structures. This segment also offers equipment and consumables used in the production of electronic subassemblies and microelectronics. The Food Equipment segment provides commercial food processing, warewashing, cooking, and refrigeration equipment; and kitchen exhaust, ventilation, and pollution control systems, as well as related services. The Polymers & Fluids segment produces adhesives, sealants, lubrication and cutting fluids, and fluids and polymers for auto aftermarket maintenance and appearance. The Welding segment produces arc welding equipment, consumables, and accessories; and metal jacketing and other insulation products for various industrial and commercial applications. The Construction Products segment produces engineered fastening systems and solutions. The Specialty Products segment provides beverage packaging equipment and consumables, product coding and marking equipment and consumables, and appliance components and fasteners. The company distributes its products directly to industrial manufacturers, as well as through independent distributors. Company description from FinViz.com.

ITW reported earnings of $1.69 that beat estimates for $1.63. Revenue of $3.6 billion missed estimates for $3.62 billion. Shares fell from $147 to $139 and traded sideways for two weeks. They guided for Q3 for earnings of $1.57-$1.67 and analysts were expecting $1.68. For the full year, they expect earnings of $6.32 to $6.52. Shares had risen 20% in 2017 and the minor miss caused some profit taking.

The company said on the earnings call that revenue was driven by the automotive sector plus some cyclical areas like welding, test and measurement. Organic revenue rose 2.6%. GAAP earnings rose 16%.

They guided for full year organic growth of 2%-4%, up from 1.5%-3.5% in January. They did guide for slower growth in Q3 because of the slowdown in the automotive sector. Vehicle sales have plateaued the last several months and there is always a pause in August while the manufacturers retool the plants for the next model year vehicles. ITW expects a 6% decline in auto builds in Q3 and a 2% decline in Q4. However, even with that decline, ITW is still predicting the 2% to 4% organic growth rate for the full year with a 1% to 3% growth rate in Q3.

Earnings expected on Oct 23rd.

On Friday, they announced a regular quarterly dividend of 78 cents payable Oct 10th to holders on September 29th. Shares rose $1.45 on the news to close at a two week high.

I am recommending ITW because it has already reported earnings, was punished for the revenue miss and was starting to tick higher before the dividend announcement. This is a good company and even with the auto slowdown, will continue to grow. The dip and the low cost of the option gives us a little insurance against a market decline. Support is $140.

Position 8/7/17:

Closed 8/10: Long Dec $145 call @ $3.90, exit $2.90, -1.00 loss.

MMM - 3M Co - Company Profile


No specific news and you could not have asked for better relative strength in a Dow stock. 3M shares only lost 25 cents. They did gap down slightly at the open to give us a better entry point.

Original Trade Description: Aug 9th.

3M Company operates as a diversified technology company worldwide. The company's Industrial segment offers tapes; coated, non-woven, and bonded abrasives; adhesives; advanced ceramics; sealants; specialty materials; separation and purification products; closure systems for personal hygiene products; acoustic systems products; automotive components; and abrasion-resistant films, and paint finishing and detailing products. Its Safety and Graphics Business segment provides personal protection products, traffic safety and security products, commercial graphics systems, commercial cleaning and protection products, floor matting, roofing granules for asphalt shingles, and fall protection products. The company's Health Care segment offers medical and surgical supplies, skin health and infection prevention products, inhalation and transdermal drug delivery systems, dental and orthodontic products, health information systems, and food safety products. Its Electronics and Energy segment provides optical films; packaging and interconnection devices; insulating and splicing solutions; touch screens and touch monitors; renewable energy component solutions; and infrastructure protection products. The company's Consumer segment offers sponges, scouring pads, high-performance cloths, repositionable notes, indexing systems, home improvement and care products, protective materials, and consumer and office tapes and adhesives. Company description from FinViz.com.

On July 25th, 3M reported earnings of $2.58 that missed estimates for $2.59. Revenue of $7.81 billion missed estimates for $7.88 billion. The company guided for full-year earnings of $8.80-$9.05. Traders were in knee-jerk mode and the stock fell $14 on the news.

The miss was minimal and the company did increase earnings 22.6% for the quarter. They reported organic growth of 3.5% and reaffirmed their full year estimate for 3-5% organic growth. There is nothing wrong with this company.

Expected earnings Oct 24th.

Shares have recovered half of their post earnings losses and the dip over the last couple of days has weakened the option premiums to allow us to enter. Resistance is $212.

Bear in mind that the market is struggling and it would not be a surprise to see further declines in the Dow. Today's rebound from the opening drop was encouraging enough for me to take a chance on 3M because MMM shares have already been hit. They could look like a safe port in the coming storm.

If the market does extend its rebound, 3M could be a Dow leader again.

Position 8/10/17:

Long Oct $210 call @ $2.91, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

VAR - Varian Medical Systems - Company Profile


Varian signed a new distribution deal with Bionix to market two of their cancer treatment devices. Shares rallied 45 cents after hitting support at $96 at the open. Excellent relative strength in a bad market.

Original Trade Description: Aug 2nd.

Varian Medical Systems, Inc. designs, manufactures, sells, and services medical devices and software products for treating cancer and other medical conditions worldwide. It operates through two segments, Oncology Systems and Imaging Components. The Oncology Systems segment provides hardware and software products for treating cancer with radiotherapy, fixed field intensity-modulated radiation therapy, image-guided radiation therapy, volumetric modulated arc therapy, stereotactic radiosurgery, stereotactic body radiotherapy, and brachytherapy. Its products include linear accelerators, brachytherapy afterloaders, treatment simulation, verification equipment, and accessories; and information management, treatment planning, image processing, clinical knowledge exchange, patient care management, decision-making support, and practice management software. This segment serves university research and community hospitals, private and governmental institutions, healthcare agencies, physicians' offices, oncology practices, radiotherapy centers, and cancer care clinics. The Imaging Components segment offers X-ray imaging components for use in radiographic or fluoroscopic imaging, mammography, special procedures, computed tomography, computer aided diagnostics, and industrial applications. It also provides Linatron X-ray accelerators, imaging processing software, and image detection products for security and inspection purposes. This segment serves original equipment manufacturers, independent service companies, and end-users. In addition, the company offers products and systems for delivering proton therapy; and develops technologies in the areas of digital X-ray imaging, volumetric and functional imaging, and improved X-ray sources. Company description from FinViz.com.

Expected earnings October 26th.

On July 26th, Varian reported earnings of $1.04 that beat estimates for 95 cents. Revenue of $662.4 million just barely missed estimates for $663.2 million due in part to currency translation issues. They sell their high dollar imaging systems all over the world.

The guided for the current quarter for earnings of $1.15-$1.23 and analysts were expecting $1.18. This should have been positive but the stock fell $6 because of the minor revenue miss.

If the market is going to be historically weak in August, shares that have already been beaten up will fare better than the rest of the market. I am choosing the $105 strike instead of the $100 strike for reduced cost/risk going into August.

Position 8/3/17:

Long Nov $105 call @ $1.75, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

VIX - Volatility Index - Index Profile


Finally a major bout of volatility. The VIX spiked to 16 and one more day of sharp declines in the S&P and we could hit the exit target at 20. Plenty of time with our November option. We still have to get past the budget battle and the debt ceiling fight.

Original Trade Description: July 12th.

The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX Index) is a key measure of market expectations of near-term volatility conveyed by S&P 500 stock index option prices. Since its introduction in 1993, the VIX Index has been considered by many to be the world's premier barometer of investor sentiment and market volatility. Several investors expressed interest in trading instruments related to the market's expectation of future volatility, and so VX futures were introduced in 2004, and VIX options were introduced in 2006.

The VIX closed at a 24-year low on July 14th at 9.51. The index has been spending a lot of time under 10 over the last three months and this is highly abnormal. The VIX typically trades up to 20 or more three times a year or more. That has not happen since the days before the election. This period of abnormal volatility WILL eventually end.

With the Trump administration getting more desperate to achieve some legislative goals there is always the risk they will go to extremes to get them accomplished. Add in the unknown but rapidly expanding Russian probes and anything is possible. We saw the Dow fall triple digits intraday on just the release of 5 emails from Trump Jr. If the probe actually uncovered something material, it could cause a major market meltdown.

The debt ceiling and the budget expire on Sept 31st. If Congress cannot get a budget passed and raise the debt ceiling, the government would shut down on October 1st. We have seen this before. The last time it happened the U.S. lost its AAA credit rating and the market declined sharply for more than a week.

What about North Korea? Military force could be used at any time but North Korea seems dead set on testing another nuke and expanding its ICBM tests. If fighting breaks out between the U.S. and North Korea it would cause a significant market decline because of the geopolitical concerns and the potential loss of life in Seoul, South Korea.

Even if none of those events occurred, there is always the risk of a 10% market decline just because we have not had one in a very long time. With August and September the worst months of the year for the market, the potential for a correction this year could be higher than normal. The Nasdaq is already up 18% and the Dow 9% for the year. The FAANG stocks are at record highs, which many say are unsupported by fundamentals.

There are so many potential opportunities for a market disaster. It only makes sense to take out some protection while the volatility is at record lows. I am recommending a November call to get us past the Aug/Sep period and the potential for a debt ceiling event in early October.

Position 7/20/17:

Long Nov $15 call @ $1.85, no stop loss. Target $20 to exit.

BEARISH Play Updates (Alpha by Symbol)

DIA - Dow ETF - ETF Profile


The Dow collapsed with a 200-point decline to close at the low for the day. Any further weakness targets 21,500 or 215.00 as support.

I am recommending we target 215.50 for an exit.

Original Trade Description: July 27th.

The SPDR Dow Jones Industrial Average ETF Trust seeks to provide investment results that, before expenses, correspond generally to the price and yield performance of the Dow Jones Industrial Average (the "Index"). The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) is composed of 30 "blue-chip" U.S. stocks. The DJIA is the oldest continuous barometer of the U.S. stock market, and the most widely quoted indicator of U.S. stock market activity. The DJIA is a price-weighted index of 30 component common stocks.

The Dow closed at a new high in an ugly market solely because of big gains in Boeing, Disney and Verizon. If the rest of the market continues lower, the Dow will eventually crater as well. I am recommending we enter a put position on the Dow ETF at the current high.

Position 7/28/17:

Long Oct $215 put @ $3.33, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.
Short Oct $205 put @ $1.29, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.
Net debit $2.04.

FTNT - Fortinet - ETF Profile


No specific news. Big drop with the market and now testing critical support at $36.

Original Trade Description: July 29th.

Fortinet, Inc. provides cybersecurity solutions for enterprises, service providers, and government organizations worldwide. The company offers FortiGate physical and software licenses that provide various security and networking functions, including firewall, intrusion prevention, anti-malware, virtual private network, application control, Web filtering, anti-spam, and wide area network acceleration; FortiManager product family to provide a central management solution for FortiGate products comprising software updates, configuration, policy settings, and security updates; and the FortiAnalyzer product family, which offers a single point of network log data collection. It also provides FortiAP secure wireless access points; FortiWeb, a Web application firewall; FortiMail email security; FortiDB database security appliances; FortiClient, an endpoint security software; and FortiSwitch secure switch connectivity products. In addition, the company provides FortiSandbox advanced threat protection solutions; FortiDDos and FortiDB database security appliances; and FortiSIEM family of products to provide a cloud-ready security information and event management (SIEM) solution for enterprises and service providers. Further, it offers security subscription, technical support, training, and professional services.Company description from FinViz.com.

Expected earnings October 25th.

The company reported Q2 earnings of 14 cents that beat estimates for 8 cents. Revenue of $363.5 million also beat estimates for $361 million. All the normal metrics were good to great but their guidance failed to impress. Full year guidance was higher but Q3 guidance disappointed.

They guided for revenues in the $367-$373 million range and analysts were expecting $372 million. Earnings guidance for 22 cents matched estimates. Investors normally do not want a match, they want a raise. The lower level on the revenues is also a caution. Shares fell $3 over the last three days and are right on the verge of breaking through support.

The entire cybersecurity sector has been weak despite the recent attacks. This is another weight on FTNT.

Position 8/1/17:

Long Sept $36 put @ $.90, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

IBM - International Business Machines - ETF Profile


I am shocked Dow component IBM did not decline. There were two news items. HSBC and IBM are teaming up to develop a "cognitive intelligence" solution for handing over 100 million documents a year in HSBC'c Global Trade Receivables Finance business. The idea is to have robots scan documents and interpret them without the aid of a human. HSBC handles more than $500 billion in documentary trade every year and currently uses a manual process to handle those millions of documents.

Secondly, the State of Arizona decided on the IBM cloud for their constituent services application.

Original Trade Description: July 29th.

International Business Machines Corporation provides information technology (IT) products and services worldwide. Its Cognitive Solutions segment includes Watson, a cognitive computing platform that interacts in natural language, processes big data, and learns from interactions with people and computers. The company's Cognitive Solutions segment also offers data and analytics solutions, including analytics and data management platforms, cloud data services, enterprise social software, talent management solutions, and solutions tailored by industry; and transaction processing software that runs mission-critical systems in banking, airlines, and retail industries. The company's Global Business Services segment offers business consulting services; delivers system integration, application management, maintenance, and support services for packaged software applications; and business process outsourcing services. Its Technology Services & Cloud Platforms segment provides cloud, project-based, outsourcing, and other managed services for enterprise IT infrastructure environments. This segment also offers technical support, and software and solution support; and integration software solutions. The company's Systems segment offers servers for businesses, cloud service providers, and scientific computing organizations; data storage products and solutions; and z/OS, an enterprise operating system for z systems. It has a strategic collaboration with ABB Ltd to develop industrial artificial intelligence solutions. The company was formerly known as Computing-Tabulating-Recording Co. and changed its name to International Business Machines Corporation in 1924. Company description from FinViz.com.

Expected earnings October 17th.

IBM reported revenue of $19.29 billion, down -5% annually and the 21st consecutive quarterly decline. Analysts were expecting $19.49 billion and that was already on the low side. Earnings were $2.97 and beat estimates for $2.74 thanks to a lower tax rate of 9.2%. Full year guidance was reiterated for "at least" $13.80. Several years ago, they made a big deal out of forecasting $20 a year in earnings. That is not likely to happen in this decade. All five of IBM's reporting segments posted revenue declines.

The problem with IBM is the lack of a light at the end of the tunnel. There is no way out of this problem without major changes which could include splitting the company up or going on an acquisition spree. Shares hit $182.50 in February but hopes have now been dashed twice with Q1 and Q2 earnings. The outlook is dim.

If the market were to roll over and the Dow decline materially, IBM would be a leader in that decline. It has been losing ground even when the Dow is setting new highs.

With earnings Oct 17th we can use the Oct options which expire on the 20th. They should hold their premium well.

Update 8/5/17: Wedbush initiated coverage with a neutral rating saying IBM is going to face "structural headwinds" and free cash flow will continue to be consumed by "aggressive M&A." The analyst said the world has moved away from the labor intensive model of IT services with cloud computing and cloud software replacing those IT consultants. Legacy IT services contracts are going to see margins decline due to "pricing resets" and an industry wide "skills mismatch." He said IBM's lack of transparency about its current business models suggests they are lagging the evolution curve.

Update 8/7/17: A judge in Indiana ruled IBM must pay the state $78 million for failing to complete the automation of much of the state's welfare services system. The court case came after the state cancelled the $1.3 billion automation contract because of numerous complaints about long wait times, lost documents and improper rejections. An appeals court found that IBM had committed a material breach of its contract by failing to deliver improvements to the welfare system.

Position 7/31/17:

Long Oct $140 put @ $3.10, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

PCRX - Pacira Pharmaceuticals - Company Profile


No specific news. Only a minor decline in a weak market. That is troubling. I expected more.

Original Trade Description: August 7th.

Pacira Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a specialty pharmaceutical company, develops, manufactures, and commercializes proprietary pharmaceutical products primarily for use in hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers in the United States. It develops pharmaceutical products based on its proprietary DepoFoam drug delivery technology. The company's lead product includes, EXPAREL, a liposome injection of bupivacaine, an amide-type local anesthetic indicated for infiltration into the surgical site to produce postsurgical analgesia. Its development pipeline comprises DepoTranexamic Acid, a long-acting local antifibrinolytic agent, which is in Phase II clinical development for the treatment or prevention of excessive blood loss during surgery by preventing the breakdown of a clot; and DepoMeloxicam, a long-acting non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, which is in preclinical development for the treatment of acute postsurgical pain. Company description from FinViz.com.

Pacira reported a loss last week of 29 cents that missed estimates for 28 cents and was well over the 2 cent loss in the year ago period. Revenue of $70.9 million ros eonly 1.9% and misses estimates for $74 million. Rising revenues for their top product, Exparel, were offset by falling revenues elsewhere. Exparel revenues rose 6.1% but DepoCyte and other product revenues declined -81.1%. Research and development costs rose 10`% and G&A costs rose 9.4%. Revenues slowing and expenses rising are never a good combination.

The company reaffirmed their full year revenue guidance for Exparel in the range of $290-$310 million.

Shares declined to a 6 month low after earnings.

Expected earnings November 3rd.

The optimistic outlook faded in late July when a Phase III trial of Exparel did not produce the desired results in treatment of total knee arthoplasty or TKA. Pacira is trying to expand the uses for Exparel as a way of expanding sales. This was a blow for the stock in July and the weak earnings is causing further declines.

Support is well below at $30.

Position 8/8/17:

Long Sept $35 put @ $1.44, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

SPY - S&P-500 ETF - ETF Profile


The S&P dropped 36 points in the first major decline since mid May. If the weakness continues, the target should be support just over $240.

I am recommending we target $241 for an exit.

August has been down 5 of the last 7 years and up only 5 of the last 20 years.

Original Trade Description: July 24th.

• The SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust seeks to provide investment results that, before expenses, correspond generally to the price and yield performance of the S&P 500 Index (the "Index") The S&P 500 Index is a diversified large cap U.S. index that holds companies across all eleven GICS sectors.

The S&P is marching slowly towards a date with destiny and 2,500. Since the median estimate by the top 16 analysts was a 2,450 yearend price target on the S&P, the arrival at 2,500 could be a tripwire that triggers an August correction. We have not had a 5% drop in a year and it has been 9 months since a 3.5% decline. With earnings rapidly playing out and most of the high profile companies will finish reporting by next Wednesday, I am going to recommend a bearish position for August/September.

I am going to set an entry trigger for a SPY put with the S&P at 2,495. Since aggressive traders normally want to anticipate a particular number, I want to enter the position just before we reach that level.

Update 7/26/17: The Dow was up +100 points, Nasdaq +10, Nasdaq 100 +20 and the S&P only gained 70 cents. The Russell 2000 lost -6 and the S&P-400 lost -15. We may not get to that 2,495 level. I am going to add another trigger/strike in case we get a failure from this level.

Position 7/27/17 with a S&P trade at 2,465:

Long Oct $243 put @ $3.65, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

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