Option Investor

Daily Newsletter, Monday, 8/28/2017

Table of Contents

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

Market Wrap

In The Shadow Of The Storm

by Thomas Hughes

Click here to email Thomas Hughes


Texas and the heartland of American energy infrastructure are underwater in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. The estimates are already coming in, damage is expected to be in the billions. Analysts are now trying to puzzle out the long-ranging effects of the damage and subsequent recovery effort. Markets held fairly steady as the news rolled in, later in the week action may pick up with the releases of ADP and NFP unemployment reports, personal income data and the PCE inflation figure.

International markets were mixed as traders eyed the storm and the euro. The storm is expected to upset economics in the near term, how long is still TBD. The euro got a boost from last week's double dose of speeches from Mario Draghi and Janet Yellen; the two between them have reestablished the euro's uptrend against the dollar. On the FOMC front forward outlook has softened from hawkish extremes seen earlier in the year, on the ECB front forward outlook has strengthened to the point tightening is expected some time in the near future. Asian indics were more flat than not although the Shanghai composite gained nearly a full percent. European indices closed decidedly lower although losses were minimal.

Market Statistics

Action was very light today. The indices held within a very narrow range at and just below break even although bias was to the downside. The indices opened with small gains and then slowly ratcheted lower throughout the day. Bottom was hit just after 12:30 but the bounce was not large. Afternoon trading saw the indices move sideways near the low of the day and hold those levels until just before the close. A late day rally recouped some but not all of the day's losses leaving the indices near break even.

Economic Calendar

The Economy

Not much data today, just the latest trade balance figures. According to the BEA the June trade deficit edged down more than -5.5% to $43.6 billion. This is due to a decrease in the goods deficit and an increase in the services surplus. On a year over year basis the deficit is up more than 10.5%.

Moody's Survey of Business Confidence fell -0.1% giving up the gains it made last week. The index is now sitting at 32.0 and near the 2 month high. Mr. Zandi says business confidence is strong and unwavering as it has been since the elections last year. The US and Asia are strongest, South America is weakest.

Nearly 100% of the S&P 500 has reported earnings. The final rate of earnings growth stands pat at 10.2%. Looking forward the 3rd quarter is expected to see growth in the range of 5%, the 4th in the range of 11%. If the averages hold up and the final rates of growth for each of the next 2 quarters rises @4% between now and the end of the respective reporting seasons we can expect to see growth in the range of 9% to 10% for the 3rd quarter and 14% to 15% for the 4th. The caveat is the forward outlook has been deteriorating, the 3rd quarter projection should not fall too much further but the 4th quarter projection could fall as much as 20% to 40% by the end of the 3rd quarter reporting season, if trend remains intact.

Next year is still expected to be strong with growth in the range of 11% to 12%. This outlook may decline as we enter the period as has been the trend over the past couple of years. Regardless, outlook if positive and expecting robust growth throughout 2018.

The Dollar Index

The Dollar Index fell a little more than -0.50% in today's session, extending the loss it posted on Friday. The index has broken below support in line with the prevailing trend and looks like it is heading lower. The move is being driven by a rebalancing of central bank outlook; the FOMC outlook is hawkish but less hawkish than before while the ECB outlook is reversing from dovish to hawkish, bringing the two back into convergence. Support may be found near $92 and the 15 month low, a break below that will be bearish.

The Gold Index

Gold prices have shot higher, breaking through the $1300 level and resistance at $1305. The move is driven by a weakening dollar and supported by last week's central banker comments. Gold is now trading just below the 12 month high near $1318 and looking bullish. There may be resistance at $1318/$1320 so caution is still warranted, a break above this level could take the metal up to test long term highs near $1375. Risk is of course the possibility of strengthening US data which would bring rate hikes back to the forefront.

The Gold Miners ETF has responded in kind. The ETF gained more than 3.2% in today's action creating a medium sized green candle. The move has broken potential resistance at $24 and looks like it will continue higher. The indicators are bullish and pointing higher in support of higher prices with the caveat they remain within a well established long term trading range. Next target is near $24.70 and the 38.2% retracement level, if that is broken prices may move up to $26 and to the top of the trading range.

The Oil Index

Oil prices fell nearly -3% as Hurricane Harvey shuts down a large portion of US drilling and refining capacity. While bearish in the near term the storm could help alleviate some of the over supply issue. The rest of the country is still using gas, diesel and oil products even if Texas isn't making any. When refineries come back on line there will be demand to rebuild stores of distilled products.

The Oil Index fell fell a little more than -0.35% creating a small red candle. Today's move confirms resistance at the long term moving average but not in a major way, not yet at least. The indicators are pointing higher and suggest that resistance will be tested again, perhaps with a move up to touch the moving average near 1112.75. If resistance holds and the index moves lower in line with the prevailing trend support target is near 1,080. A break above the moving average would be bullish but face resistance just above near 1,120.

In The News, Story Stocks and Earnings

Amazon was in the news today, imagine that. The company closed on its deal to purchase Whole Foods Market and is already making moves to integrate the business into the greater Amazon ecosystem. They are already lowering prices and have begun to display the Echo device in Whole Foods stores. Morgan Stanley reiterated its overweight rating with a price target of $1,150 commenting on the companies ability to operate at razor thin margins and its power to extend those benefits to Whole Foods. Shares of AMZN gained marginally on the news, sitting just above long term support.

Shares of Kroger held firm in today's session although many in the food/grocery space did not. Sprouts Farmers Market was about the worst, falling nearly -10% on the news. The chain is one of the fastest growing in the all-natural segment and has been posting double digit quarterly growth for at least 3 years. Today's move brings prices below $20 and approaching the all time low.

The VIX moved higher in today's session but the gain was minimal and the candle is red. Today's move started with a gap higher and then sold off during the day to break support at 11.50. The candle is medium sized and confirms resistance at the short and long term moving averages. The indicators are bearish and moving lower indicative of lower prices. Now that support is broken, or appears to be breaking, next downside target is near 10. A move lower would be consistent with rally but may not mean new all time highs are on the way.

The Indices

The indices held steady in today's action, volumes were low and ranges were small for the most part. Today's leader was the NASDAQ Composite with a gain of 0.27%. The index created a small doji candle sitting just beneath the long term moving average and appears to be setting up for a trend following move higher. The indicators are still mixed but set up for such an occurrence. Stochastic is strongest in its show of support and is firing a strong trend following signal, MACD is rolling over and may confirm this move in a day or two. A break above the moving average will be bullish with upside target at the current all time high. A failure to break above resistance could result in a move down to the long term up trend line near 6,200.

The Dow Jones Transportation Average posted the 2nd largest gain, 0.25%. The transports created a small doji candle just below the long term moving average and are giving a mixed signal. Price action suggests support at this level, and support along the long term uptrend line. The indicators are mixed but suggest support is at this level through unconfirmed divergence. A bounce from the trend line near 9,100 would confirm the long term up trend, a break below it could take the index down to next support at 8,750.

The S&P 500 made the smallest gain, a mere 0.04%, but closed in the green nonetheless. The index did however create a small red-bodied doji-like candle just beneath the short term moving average, the result of gapping up at the open and then selling off intraday. Today's move is promising in that it shows resilience in the market but alarming in that it is halted by resistance. The indicators are mixed but rolling into a trend following signal, stochastic has already confirmed with a strong bullish crossover it's MACD that is lagging. A break above the moving average would be bullish and trend following with upside target near the current all time high. A fall from the moving average would be bearish near term with targets near 2440 and 2380.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average posted the only loss in today's session, -0.02%. The blue chips created a small red bodied doji like candle just beneath the resistance of a long term up trend line and the short term moving average. Today's move is the 4th day in a row of trading at such levels and beginning to look like consolidation within a near term down trend. The indicators are mixed so no clear indication is given but they are generally consistent with early stages of a trend following signal. That being said, the signal is unconfirmed and momentum is still bearish, an extension of near term downward movement is not out of the question. A fall from the moving average would be bearish with downside target near 21,100.

The market remains mixed. Today's action is, like I said, promising in that the market showed some resilience but also alarming in that prices are consistently below important moving averages and key resistance levels. I remain firmly bullish for the long term but the near term is still very questionable, I am cautiously bearish. There are lots of reasons for the market to rise long term, earnings + economics are 2, but very few in the near term. We're between earnings cycles, outlook is diminished, oil prices are under pressure and now there is a shadow of economic doubt related to the hurricane. And now, even more pressing, is news that North Korea fired another missile thumbing its nose to the West.

Until then, remember the trend!

Thomas Hughes

New Option Plays

North Korean Crash

by Jim Brown

Click here to email Jim Brown

Editors Note:

North Korea fired a missile over Japan after the market closed. S&P futures opened down -18 points. This is one of those wild card events that sometimes trigger major market dislocations. Definitely no new plays tonight.


No New Bullish Plays


No New Bearish Plays

In Play Updates and Reviews

No Material Movement

by Jim Brown

Click here to email Jim Brown

Editors Note:

The Dow traded in a 94-point range but lost 5 points for the day. We should get used to this because the volume is only going to shrink as the week progresses.

Nobody is trading in any volume. This are just portfolio adjustments and passing time until after Labor Day.

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

HD - Home Depot
The long call position was entered at the open.

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


Apple said it was holding a new product launch event on Tuesday September 12th. The company is expected to announce three new phones. They will be the iPhone 7, 7s and iPhone 8/Pro. They could also announce a new watch and a 4K Apple TV.

Original Trade Description: Aug 12th.

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. The company also provides iLife, a consumer-oriented digital lifestyle software application suite; iWork, an integrated productivity suite that helps users create, present, and publish documents, presentations, and spreadsheets; and other application software, such as Final Cut Pro, Logic Pro X, and FileMaker Pro. In addition, it offers Apple TV that connects to consumers' TV and enables them to access digital content directly for streaming high definition video, playing music and games, and viewing photos; Apple Watch, a personal electronic device; and iPod, a line of portable digital music and media players. Further, the company sells Apple-branded and third-party Mac-compatible, and iOS-compatible accessories, such as headphones, displays, storage devices, Beats products, and other connectivity and computing products and supplies. Additionally, it offers iCloud, a cloud service; AppleCare that offers support options for its customers; and Apple Pay, a mobile payment service. Company description from FinViz.com.

Earnings Oct 31st.

We exited a position on Apple just prior to earnings. The report was strong and shares spiked $9 at the open the following day. After 9 days of trading they have been higher and lower but they refuse to give up their gains. Shares were up $2 on Friday when the rest of the big cap market was flat.

The reason Apple may have less risk than the rest of the market is the expected production announcement in September. They are expected to announce 2 new iPhone 7s and the iPhone 8/Pro plus some other upgrades. This is going to be a major product announcement that could propel Apple to $200 over the next six months. We know Apple shares normally ramp into an announcement and then decline shortly thereafter on a sell the news event. We will decide a couple days ahead of the announcement if we want to hold over.

I am using the November strikes because that is after earnings and the options should hold their value more in case of market volatility than an option that expires before earnings. Just because we buy more time does not mean we have to use it. I am recommending a spread because of high option premiums.

Update 8/14/17: BlueFin Research, as reported in Barrons, claims the production ramp for iPhones in Q3 is at record levels with 53 million phones expected. They will be split between the 7s, 7s Plus and the iPhone 8/Pro with the iPhone 8 only 5-6 million of that total. That will change in Q4 to 44 million of the model 8 with 30 million a quarter for the rest of 2018. They did not disclose sources but it is believed they are basing their estimates on the component quantities being shipped to manufacturers.

Aetna (AET) and Apple held talks last week with Aetna wanting to offer the Apple Watch either free or discounted to all 23 million of its members. They currently offer the watch to their 50,000 employees as part of a fitness program.

Another news story said that Google is paying Apple a license fee of up to $3 billion for 2017 to remain the default search engine on Apple devices. That would equate to 5% of Apple's total annual profit and 25% of their earnings growth. That is the largest contributor to the growth in service revenues. Bernstein said Google pays a fee to Apple of 34% of whatever it earns from ads delivered to Apple users. That is huge!

Update 8/24: Apple announced it was building a $1.3 billion data center in Iowa that would create 10,000 jobs during construction and 550 permanent jobs when completed. They received $208 million in tax breaks from the State of Iowa. The center will be in Waukee, which is close to Des Moines. The center will be powered entirely by renewable energy. Apple users better hope for lots of sun if they are using Siri, iMessage, Apple Music and other Apple services that will operate from this center. Construction will begin in 2018 and the center will open in 2020.

Position 8/14:

Long Nov $160 call @ $8.05, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.
Short Nov $175 call @ $2.72, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.
Net debit $5.33.

ALB - Albermarle - Company Profile


No specific news. Minor gain in a weak market but resistance at $115.50 is holding.

Original Trade Description: Aug 21st.

Albemarle Corporation develops, manufactures, and markets engineered specialty chemicals worldwide. The company offers lithium compounds, including lithium carbonate, lithium hydroxide, lithium chloride, and lithium specialties and reagents for applications in lithium batteries, high performance greases, thermoplastic elastomers for car tires, rubber soles and plastic bottles, catalysts for chemical reactions, organic synthesis processes, life science, pharmaceutical, and other markets; cesium products for the chemical and pharmaceutical industries; and zirconium, barium, and titanium products for pyrotechnical applications. It also manufactures cesium products for the chemical and pharmaceutical industries; and zirconium, barium, and titanium products for various pyrotechnical applications, including airbag igniters; and performance catalyst solutions, such as polymer catalysts, curatives, organometallics, and electronic materials for polyolefin polymers, packaging, non-packaging, films, injection molding, alpha-olefins, electronic materials, solar cells, polyurethanes, epoxies, and other engineered resins markets. In addition, the company offers bromine and bromine-based solutions for fire safety, chemical synthesis, mercury control, water purification, beef and poultry processing, and various other industrial applications, as well as for the oil and gas well drilling, and completion fluids applications. Further, Albemarle Corporation provides clean fuels technologies, which is primarily composed of hydroprocessing catalysts; and heavy oil upgrading, which is primarily composed of fluidized catalytic cracking catalysts and additives for application in the refining industry. It serves petroleum refining, consumer electronics, energy storage, construction, automotive, lubricants, pharmaceuticals, crop protection, food safety, and custom chemistry services markets. Company description from FinViz.com.

With production of electric cars exploding with more than 1 million expected to be manufactured in 2018, the demand for Lithium-ion (Li-ion) rechargeable batteries is also exploding. When Tesla's Gigafactory reaches full production in 2020 of 35 gigawatt-hours, that will be more battery capacity than the entire world produced in 2014. Tesla has blamed the battery shortage for misses in auto production and they are already planning on building a second Gigafactory. The demand for lithium is suddenly huge and Albemarle is already responsible for 35% of global production.

They reported Q2 earnings of $1.13, up 22%, that beat estimates for $1.11. However, revenue of $737.3 million missed estimates for $740.6 million. They guided for full year earnings of $4.20-$4.40, a 21% rise and revenue of $2.90-$3.05 billion. The revenue miss was due to a divestiture of a specialty chemicals business and currency exchange issues. They repurchased $250 million in stock in the first 6-months of 2017 and paid dividends of $69.8 million.

Next earnings Nov 6th.

Shares declined after the revenue miss but rebounded exactly from long-term uptrend support.

Position 8/22:

Long Oct $120 call @ $1.75, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

HD - Home Depot - Company Profile


Apparently, other investors had the same idea about HD. Shares gapped open $2 and we were filled at the high for the day. With the continuous news coverage about the Harvey disaster, there should be follow on buyers. This will add to HD profits for the next year.

Original Trade Description: Aug 26th.

The Home Depot, Inc. operates as a home improvement retailer. It operates The Home Depot stores that sell various building materials, home improvement products, and lawn and garden products, as well as provide installation, home maintenance, and professional service programs to do-it-yourself, do-it-for-me (DIFM), and professional customers. The company offers installation programs that include flooring, cabinets, countertops, water heaters, and sheds; and professional installation in various categories sold through its in-home sales programs, such as roofing, siding, windows, cabinet refacing, furnaces, and central air systems, as well as acts as a contractor to provide installation services to its DIFM customers through third-party installers. It primarily serves home owners; and professional renovators/remodelers, general contractors, handymen, property managers, building service contractors, and specialty tradesmen, such as installers. The company also sells its products through online. It operates through approximately 2,278 stores, including 1,977 in the United States, including the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the territories of the U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam; 182 in Canada; and 119 in Mexico. Company description from FinViz.com.

Home Depot and Wal-Mart have two of the best responses to national disasters. When a storm is named and the track is posted, both companies immediately begin to route truckloads of supplies to the affected areas.

Home Depot activated its Hurricane Response center in reaction to Harvey and truck loads of buliding supplies, generators, roofing materials, etc were already headed to Texas before the storm ever made landfall. Home Depot has been responding to storms for more than 30 years and they know exactly what products will be in high demand.

Home Depot has four distribution centers that support hurricane response. Once a storm forms they rush trucks to the areas likely to be hit to prestock stores with disaster supplies. When people come to the stores to buy plywood, nails and supplies, it is already there in surplus quantities. As the storm nears landfall, the center guages severity, potential impact and they pre stage a number of preloaded trucks just out of the danger areas ready to rush in once the storm passes.

On a moderately strong hurricane, Home Depot can see a boost in revenue from $150 to $350 million over a three month period.

HD shares were hit with a post earnings decline not because the earnings were bad but because analysts were worried the home building boom would end soon. Home Depot beat on earnings, revenue and issued higher guidance.

If there is a port in the coming volatility storm, it should be Home Depot as they provide the supplies to rebuild the Texas coast.

Position 8/28/17:

Long Nov $155 call @ $2.87, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

MMM - 3M Co - Company Profile


No specific news. 3M will also benefit from Harvey because they make roof shingles. Their products will be used on tens of thousands of homes in Texas but this is a longer duration sale. It will take a month before the orders start to flow and then several months before installations begin to accelerate. There will be a shortage of roofers given the large number of homes that will need roofs. It could take more than a year to make a serious dent in the backlog.

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


No specific news. Nice gain despite the weak 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 25th.

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


No material movement in the mixed market. September is just ahead.

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


Spike at the open but closed well off the highs.

I am recommending we target 213.25 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.

DRQ - Dril-Quip - Company Profile


No specific news. No gain.

Original Trade Description: August 19th.

Dril-Quip, Inc., together with its subsidiaries, designs, manufactures, sells, and services offshore drilling and production equipment for use in deepwater, harsh environment, and severe service applications worldwide. It operates through three segments: Western Hemisphere, Eastern Hemisphere, and Asia-Pacific. The company's principal products include subsea and surface wellheads, subsea and surface production trees, subsea control systems and manifolds, mudline hanger systems, specialty connectors and associated pipes, drilling and production riser systems, liner hangers, wellhead connectors, and diverters, as well as consumable downhole products. It also provides technical advisory services, and rework and reconditioning services, as well as rental and purchase of running tools for use in the installation and retrieval of the its products. The company's products are used to explore for oil and gas from offshore drilling rigs, such as floating rigs and jack-up rigs; and for drilling and production of oil and gas wells on offshore platforms, tension leg platforms, and Spars, as well as moored vessels, such as floating production, storage, and offloading monohull moored vessels. Company description from FinViz.com.

The company reported earnings of 9 cents compared to estimates for 1 cent. On the surface, that is a huge beat. Unfortunately it was down from a 64 cent profit in the year ago quarter. Revenue of $127.9 million declined from $142.2 million but still beat estimates for $102 million. So far, so good.

Selling, G&A expenses rose from $5.8 million to a whopping $31.2 million. Total expenses rose from $97.2 million to $129 million. On an operating basis they lost $1.1 million compared to net income of $45.2 million in the year ago quarter. Order backlogs fell from $296 million to $235 million.

While earnings and revenue beat significantly lowered estimates, they were dramatically below year ago levels. Everything is working against Dril-Quip because offshore drilling is rapidly shrinking because of the low cost of oil. It is not profitable to produce oil at $75-$85 a barrel when it is selling for less than $50. Offshore oil rigs in the U.S. have fallen from more than 50 to only 16.

Dril-Quip is actually a good company but the offshore sector is in serious pain. Their benefitting from the various gas wells being drilled overseas where multiple giant gas fields have been discovered. It will be enough to keep the bills paid but long-term, oil prices will have to rebound before DRQ can return to hero status.

With the summer driving season almost over, crude prices are likely to move lower than higher over the next couple of months.

Expected earnings Oct 26th.

Position 8/21/17:

Long Dec $35 put @ $1.65, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

SPY - S&P-500 ETF - ETF Profile


The morning spike was sold and the S&P barely closed positive.

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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