Editors Note:

With all but one major index closing at a new high on Friday and that was the small cap S&P-600. The big cap indexes continue to run and have become extremely overbought. We desperately need a 2-3 day decline to allow the overbought pressures to equalize so the rally can continue higher.

In theory, investing in LEAPS is a long-term proposition where we hold over earnings in anticipation of a long-term gain. LEAPS should be exited in the normal November rally.

Original Play Recommendations (Alpha by Symbol)

AAPL - Apple Inc - Company Description


Apple joined the Wireless Power Consortium or WPC last week. That is one more clue that the iPhone 8 will offer wireless charging capability. Since several Nexus phones by Google and some Samsung phones already have wireless charging it is a good bet Apple will join the club.

Apple also signed an initial deal with Taiwan-based contract manufacturer Wistron for an initial production run of up to 400,000 iPhone SE models to be manufactured in India. Wistron is setting up a factory in Bangalore and will begin production in April. By making phones in India they gain some additional options in retailing such as setting up stores. They also avoid the 12.5% import tax. By making the SE model they will cater to the lower income levels in India. The SE begins at $399. Once the population gets hooked on Apple products there is an obvious upgrade path to the more expensive phones.

Apple shares are trading at historic highs and have lifted both the Dow and Nasdaq indexes to new highs.

Original Trade Description: January 8th

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. 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. The company sells and delivers digital content and applications through the iTunes Store, App Store, Mac App Store, TV App Store, iBooks Store, and Apple Music. Company description from FinViz.com.

I am not going to spend a lot of time and space explaining this play because everyone should be aware of their recent problems. iPhone sales slowed and earnings dropped. The company took a hit when they removed the earphone jack from the iPhone 7 and then could not ship the AirPods because of technical problems. The new MacBook Pro was not well received and Consumer Reports failed to give it their seal of approval. That was a first for Apple.

Sales fell -4% to $215.6 billion, well below their target of $223.6 billion. Operating income declined -0.5%. Net sales were down -7.7% and earnings were down -15.7% from 2015 levels.

Recently, Nikkei reported Apple suppliers had been told to reduce production of components for the iPhone 7 by another 10% in Q1. The stock barely wavered on the news. I believe this is due to the rising excitement over the 10th anniversary iPhone due out this fall.

There have been numerous product leaks suggesting they will have three sizes and the largest size will have an OLED screen. The internal feature leaks have been very few but CEO Tim Cook said they were going to introduce some features that you will wonder how you got along without them. Time will tell.

There are also numerous rumors about major upgrades to other devices and some analysts are talking about record revenues in the coming year.

Since this is the tenth anniversary of the iPhone, there is a very good chance it will be chock full of new features.

Apple is also rumored to be building a manufacturing facility in India to be run by one of their prior suppliers. Phone production could begin as soon as April. That would give them a big opportunity to sell new phones into India and that is a huge market opportunity similar to China in 2010.

Because of the calendar, anything we add over the next couple weeks is going to be earnings challenged. Apple has earnings on Jan 24th. Expectations are low but Apple activated more devices during the holiday week than any other vendor so I am not expecting a big miss. It is still a risk but based on the chart, nobody else seems to be worried.

The $120 level is going to be resistance but a breakthrough could trigger significant short covering and price chasing. The last update to price targets was Piper Jaffray to $155 with an overweight weighting.

Update 1/15/17: The iPhone 8 leaks continue and now sites are saying the phone will come with wireless charging. You just place it within 36 inches of the charger and it charges automatically with no connections. There have been more leaks about the OLED screen on the larger model and suggesting there will be no edges on the phone. The screen wraps around the edge. On the downside, it is rumored to be plastic instead of glass. Glass breaks, plastic scratches. The phone will keep working but the screen will accumulate scratches if you are not careful. I thought that was what screen protectors were for? Nomura said based on the leaks and the massive installed base they are predicting sales of 86 million phones in Q4 compared to the peak of 74.7 million in 4Q15.

On a negative note, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated a class action suit claiming Apple is a monopoly because iPhone apps can only be sold through the Apple App Store and Apple receives a 30% commission. Apple claims it just operates a "shopping mall" for apps rather than an actual store.

Update 2/12/17: Apple continued to move higher as rumors of the iPhone 8 increase. In addition to the 5.8 inch curved OLED screen there will be wireless charging. Just lay it down on the table within 24 inches of the charger. There are multiple analysts who now believe the top of the line OLED model will probably come with 256mb of memory and cost well over $1,000. The cheaper LCD versions are expected to price just under $1,000 because of the new features and the lack of any stripped down models with minimal memory increments. Since Apple always has trouble making enough phones at the beginning of the order cycle the sharp increase in prices will offset that production lag. The OLED screens are going to be the highest priced phone Apple has made and those screens from Samsung are going to be in short supply.

Position 1/9/17:

Long Jan 2018 $125 call @ $7.85. See portfolio graphic for stop loss.

ADP - Automatic Data Processing - Company Description


ADP was named to Fortune Magazine's Worlds Most Admired Companies List. No other news.

Original Trade Description: January 16th.

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.

Earnings for the last quarter rose 9.5% to $368.7 million on a 7.5% rise in revenue. For 2017, ADP is guiding for 7% to 8% revenue growth and 15% to 17% earnings growth. Considering their five year average growth is 3.38% for revenue and 5.22% for earnings, that is very strong guidance. At the end of last quarter, ADP had 2.8 billion in cash. In the last quarter cash flow from operations rose 202% to $330 million.

ADP is rapidly expanding their Total Service product where they provide comprehensive outsourcing solutions where workers are co-employed by ADP and its clients. Revenue in that division rose 16% to $3 billion in sales with 12% earnings.

Earnings February 1st.

We are right at the start of the earnings cycle. Our only option is to pick a lesser quality stock that has already reported or pick a good stock that should beat earnings and then hold through the volatility that normally follows.

ADP shares closed 3 cents below a new high on Friday and are poised to start a new leg higher. With the focus on job creation in 2017, ADP should find willing investors on the expectations for future growth.

Update 2/12/17: The company reported earnings of 87 cents that beat estimates for 81 cents. Revenue of $2.99 billion slightly missed estimates for $3.02 billion. The stock was crushed after they lowered the outlook for new business for 2017 from 4% to 6% growth down to flat for the year. They lowered revenue estimates from growth of 7% to 8% down to 6% growth.

Position 2/6/17:

Long Jan 2018 $110 call @ $5.90, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

APA - Apache Corp - Company Profile


Apache declared a quarterly dividend of 25 cents payable May 22nd to holders on April 21st. Apache reports earnings on the 23rd.

The stock is still suffering from the volatility in oil prices. This will rebound when prices begin to rise for summer driving.

Original Trade Description: October 2nd

Apache Corporation, an independent energy company, explores, develops, and produces natural gas, crude oil, and natural gas liquids. It operates onshore and offshore assets primarily in the Permian Basin, the Anadarko basin in western Oklahoma, the Texas Panhandle, and Gulf Coast areas of the United States, as well as in Western Canada and Gulf of Mexico. The company also operates assets in Egypt and the United Kingdom in the North Sea. As of December 31, 2015, it had total estimated proved reserves of 794 million barrels of crude oil, 198 million barrels of natural gas liquids, and 3.4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Apache Corporation was founded in 1954 and is based in Houston, Texas. Company description from FinViz.com.

While that company description was valid six months ago the picture has changed for Apache. In early September Apache announced a monster discovery in Texas that could contain 75 Tcf of "rich" gas and 3 billion barrels of oil. The "Alpine High" as they are calling it, "was" a primarily wet gas play decades ago and companies overlooked it while they were searching for "dry" gas. The Alpine High play is in Reeves County of the Southern Delaware basin. Apache drilled some test wells and silently acquired nearly all the acreage in the entire play for an average cost of $1,300 per acre. This compares to prices recently paid in the Permian of $9,000 to $42,000 an acre. After Apache acquired nearly all the available acreage, they drilled 19 wells to prove out the reserves. Previously oil industry experts thought the area to be unfit for fracking because of an abundance of clay. Therefore, nobody was interested in this remote corner of the Delaware Basin inside the Permian. Apache said the amount of clay was significantly less than previously thought.

Compare the size of the discovery with the proved reserves in the company description. This one discovery is several times the size of the entire company six months ago.

Apache said it was raising capex by $200 million to $2 billion to reflect their anticipated activity in this area. They are going to allocate 25% of their capex budget to this discovery. Well costs are $4-$6 million for 4,100 foot laterals. They are going to start development with a 3-5 rig program and they have an estimated 3,000 drilling locations in the Woodford and Barnett formations alone. The only drawback to the position is the lack of infrastructure, which Apache will have to build out along with its wells. The company will not be able to sell production until the second half of 2017 when they anticipate the first level if infrastructure will be completed. Volume production will not begin until 2018.

The Alpine High has 4,000 to 5,000 feet of stacked pay in up to five distinct formations including the Bone springs, Wolfcamp, Pennsylvanian, Barnett and Woodford.

Apache is going to be getting a lot of attention over the next several months as portfolio managers reevaluate them as a potential investment. By more than tripling the company's reserves in one discovery the company has a lot of profitable work ahead for the next decade.

They were very smart to keep the discovery quiet until they had locked nearly every single acre in the entire discovery for very low prices.

Earnings Feb 2nd.

I have been waiting for the initial stock surge on the news of the discovery to fade to give us a better entry point. However, it never came and now with the OPEC production cut headlines we may never see the stock back below $60. I would rather buy a stock that is rising than wait forever for a dip that never comes.

I am not going to spread this LEAP because shares could run to $100 if the OPEC production cut actually occurs. We can spread out to exit the play on the backend.

Position 10/3/16:

Long 2018 $70 call @ $7.70, no initial stop loss.

You could sell a put to offset the call premium because I seriously doubt this stock is going significantly lower unless oil prices implode.

FB - Facebook - Company Profile


Facebook appears to have topped out at $135 while we wait for the next market decline to give new buyers an entry point. Mark Zuckerberg penned a vague 6,000 word manifesto about the future of Facebook and the online community. The rambling ad for Facebook was widely panned and it will quickly fade into obscurity.

The fake news problem is not going away. Facebook is launching multiple new initiatives to combat it but the hundreds of thousands of aspiring scam artists around the world are going to overwhelm Facebook. The FB crew cannot police the thousands of new websites that appear daily and look like legitimate news at first glance.

Original Trade Description: November 13th.

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. They have barely begun to monetize Instagram and WhatsApp. Facebook bought Instagram for $1 billion four years ago and Forbes said it was worth $25 to $50 billion today. Instagram has added 100 million users in the first nine months of 2016 to reach 400 million. They are targeting one billion. Instagram revenue is expected to triple in 2016 to $1.5 billion and then triple again to $5 billion by 2018 according to eMarketer.

Instagram only has 350 employees compared to the 14,500 Facebook employees. Instagram users average 21 minutes a day and upload more than 95 million photos and videos. There is gold in those posts and Facebook is working on finding more ways to monetize the app.

Facebook may expect revenue "growth" to slow but that is different from "decline." It is still a great business and there will be another explosion of growth as Instagram and WhatsApp hit their prime.

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 Feb 1st.

The drop in price after earnings plus the decline in the Nasdaq big caps last week helped to reduce the premiums but they are still expensive and require a spread position to receive maximum benefit at the lowest cost.

Update 2/6/17: Facebook reported blowout earnings and spiked to $137 in afterhours. However, they repeated the claim they were going to spend more money for the future and that ad sales dollars were declining. They have more ad space to sell with their 1.86 billion active users and to fill up that space the ads are getting cheaper. This is a long story. This is what investors want to see Facebook do. Spend more money creating more content, more opportunities and monetizing spaces that are not yet bringing in the big bucks. Short-term investors were disappointed and shares dropped back to $131 on Friday. The resistance high is $133.28 and I have no doubt shares will move over that level as the year progresses. Facebook is now a giant and it takes longer for changes to be felt. Once enacted the benefits can be enormous.

Position 11/14/16:

Long Jan 2018 $125 call @ $13.10, no initial stop loss.
Short Jan 2018 $150 call @ $5.00, no initial stop loss.
Net debit $8.10

FEYE - FireEye - Company Description


No specific news. The company announced a new Endpoint security program for Windows and Mac OS. Shares dipped after the Cisco earnings after Cisco said it was getting more active in cybersecurity but immediately rebounded.

Original Trade Description: February 12th

FireEye, Inc. provides cybersecurity solutions for detecting, preventing, analyzing, and resolving cyber-attacks. The company offers vector-specific appliance solutions that provide threat protection from network to endpoint for inbound and outbound network traffic that may contain sensitive information. It also offers Central Management System that provides cross-enterprise threat data correlation to identify and block attacks across multiple attack vectors; and Threat Analytics Platform to identify and respond to cyber threats by correlating enterprise-generated security event data from any security product with real-time threat intelligence, as well as Malware Analysis System to manually execute and inspect advanced malware, zero-day, and other advanced cyber-attacks embedded in files, email attachments, and Web objects. In addition, the company offers Network Forensics Platform that helps in detecting threats and view specific packets and sessions before, during, and after the attack to confirm what may have triggered a malware download or callback; Investigation Analysis System, a centralized analytical interface to the Network Forensics Platform; and Mandiant Intelligent Response that enables remote investigation of endpoints and allows security teams to collect targeted forensic data to identify attacker behavior, tools, and techniques. Further, it provides cloud-based subscription services; Security-as-a-Service; and incident response, compromise assessments, and related consulting, as well as training and professional, and customer support and maintenance services. Company description from FinViz.com.

FireEye is transitioning from a firewall appliance vendor to a cloud service and as always happens when companies go this route, the revenue slows temporarily. They reported Q4 results of a loss of 3 cents. Analysts were expecting a loss of 16 cents. This compares to a loss of 55 cents in the year ago quarter. Revenue of $184.7 missed estimates for $191.1 million.

For the current quarter, the company guided to earnings of 26 to 28 cents and revenue of $160-$166 million. Analysts were expecting $177.5 million.

The company said several large deals had been expected to close in Q4 and they were pushed into Q1 versus being "lost."

They added 330 net new customers during the quarter. They closed 34 deals for more than $1 million each, including one of their largest SaaS deals ever. They announced a new product called Helix and more than 250 customers have already signed up to get the product as soon as it is released.

Other onetime negatives from the earnings release was news the CFO was leaving to pursue another opportunity and Chairman David Dewalt resigned from the board.

Earnings May 4th.

Cisco (CSCO) recently acquired AppDynamics and that is expected to start a flurry of acquisitions in the cybersecurity space. The space is fragmented today and highly competitive with each player commanding its own niche. The quickest way to expand your product offerings is to acquire somebody else that is a leader in their niche. FireEye is a leader in intrusion detection and tracking. Their recent fall from grace should make them an attractive target with only a $2 billion market cap. The company turned down to acquisition offers in 2016 so we know there are tire kickers making the rounds.

Regardless of whether an acquisition cycle has begun, the stock drop to support is a buying opportunity.

Position 2/13/17:

Long Jan $13 call @ $1.90, See portfolio graphic for stop loss.

HAIN - Hain Celestial - Company Description

No specific news this week. The news of the SEC investigation the prior week knocked shares down to lower support. This week they announced the acquisition of a European food company called the Yorkshire Provender Limited.

Original Trade Description: January 22nd.

The Hain Celestial Group, Inc. manufactures, markets, distributes, and sells organic and natural products in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Europe. Its grocery products include infant formula; infant, toddler, and kids foods; diapers and wipes; rice and grain-based products; flour and baking mixes; breads, hot and cold cereals, pasta, condiments, cooking and culinary oils, granolas, granola bars, and cereal bars; canned, chilled fresh, aseptic, and instant soups; Greek-style yogurt; chilies and packaged grains; and chocolates and nut butters, as well as plant-based beverages and frozen desserts, such as soy, rice, almond, and coconut. The company's grocery products also comprise juices, hot-eating, chilled and frozen desserts, cookies, crackers, gluten-free frozen entrees and bars, frozen pastas and ethnic meals, frozen fruits and vegetables, cut fresh fruits, refrigerated and frozen soy protein meat-alternative products, tofu, seitan and tempeh products, jams, fruit spreads and jelly, honey, marmalade, and other food products. In addition, it provides snack products, such as potato, root vegetable, and other vegetable chips, as well as straws, tortilla chips, whole grain chips, pita chips, puffs, and popcorn; specialty teas, including herbal, green, black, wellness, rooibos, and chai tea lattes; ready-to-drink beverages comprising organic kombucha and chai tea lattes; personal care products consisting of skin, hair and oral care, deodorants, baby care items, acne treatment, body washes, and sunscreens; and poultry and protein products, such as turkey and chicken products. The company sells its products through specialty and natural food distributors, supermarkets, natural food stores, mass-market and e-commerce retailers, food service channels and club, and drug and convenience stores in approximately 70 countries worldwide. Company description from FinViz.com.

Hain had some problems back in August and they said they discovered an accounting problem that could force them to restate earnings. Shares fell from $55 to $35. In November they announced they found no wrongdoing and shares rebounded to $39 ahead of what investors thought would be some positive earnings restatements. We are now in late January and still no earnings. They have a variance from the Nasdaq and creditors that allows them until February to file their 10K and get current with their earnings. There has been a slight upward bias in the stock as we approach that February event. There is no confirmed date for the release.

Since there was no wrongdoing, the earnings restatement should reflect the movement of revenue recognition from one quarter into another. If I recall there was some problem with consideration given to some wholesalers when they received the product on what could be called a consignment basis. In other words they shipped product to a wholesaler and that wholesaler did not have to pay for it until it was sold. Hain has had two quarters to work through those mechanics and when they finally report earnings it should be several quarters at one.

There is nothing wrong with the Hain business. They continue to introduce new products and expand their distribution in more than 70 countries. I could be wrong but I do not foresee a major change in the business or in the financials.

This accounting delay has removed all the premium from the LEAPS. The Jan $45 call is only $3.30. If Hain reports anything close to their prior earnings the stock could be back over $50 very quickly because of the pent up demand.

Update 2/12/17: The company said the SEC has initiated a formal probe into their accounting because they have not released earnings since May. Hain is running out of time. Their extensions from the various entities expire in February and HAIN could be delisted and have credit repayment accelerated. Something is going to happen soon. Hain has been mentioned recently as a potential takeover target by General Mills (GIS) or Kellogg (K). I am sure nothing will happen until the earnings are brought current. With shares $20 off their recent high, this would be an attractive level for an acquisition bid.

I looked at buying an insurance put for $1.25 but the LEAP is so cheap and we have 11 months for a recovery that I decided against it.

Position 1/23/17:

Long Jan $45 call @ $3.22, no initial stop loss.

HON - Honeywell - Company Profile


No specific news. The company announces several new contract awards and shares closed at a new high on Friday.

Original Trade Description: October 23rd.

Honeywell International Inc. operates as a diversified technology and manufacturing company worldwide. Its Aerospace segment offers aircraft engines, integrated avionics, systems and service solutions, and related products and services for aircraft manufacturers and operators, airlines, military services, and defense and space contractors, as well as spare parts, and repair and maintenance services for the aftermarket. This segment also provides auxiliary power units; propulsion engines; environmental control, connectivity, electric power, flight safety, communication, navigation, radar, surveillance, and thermal systems; engine controls; aircraft lighting products, as well as wheels and brakes; advanced systems and instruments; and turbochargers, as well as management, technical, logistics, repair, and overhaul services to original equipment manufacturers in the air transport, regional, business, and general aviation aircraft; and automotive and truck manufacturers. The company's Home and Building Technologies segment offers environmental and energy, security and fire, and building solutions. Its Safety and Productivity Solutions segment provides sensing and productivity Solutions, and industrial safety products. Its Performance Materials and Technologies segment provides catalysts and adsorbents; equipment and consulting services for the petroleum refining, gas processing, petrochemical, and other industries; and automation control, instrumentation, software, and services for the oil and gas, refining, pulp and paper, industrial power generation, chemicals and petrochemicals, biofuels, life sciences, metals, minerals, and mining industries. It also offers fluorocarbons, hydrofluoroolefins, caprolactam, resins, ammonium sulfate fertilizers, phenol, specialty films, waxes, additives, fibers, research chemicals and intermediates, and electronic materials and chemicals. Company description from FinViz.com.

On Oct 7th, Honeywell shares collapsed from $116 to $105 after the CEO warned that profits would be below guidance and they lowered guidance for the rest of 2016. The CFO said on the conference call, "In the third quarter, we continued to see slow growth across much of our portfolio." Declines in the emerging markets and the oil industry have crimped demand for business aircraft and helicopters, hurting Honeywell's unit that sells jet engines, cockpit controls and aerospace parts.

The company preannounced earnings of $1.60 compared to prior guidance of $1.67-$1.72. For the full year they lowered their forecast by 6 cents to $6.64 per share. The company is in the middle of a reorganization process that will increase profits in the future.

After the stock was crushed by the warning, the CEO appeared on CNBC and said the warning was not received in the way he thought it would be. "I gave credit for people understanding what our long-term profile was. I was wrong. I could have done a significantly better job of communicating this story. We tried to do it in the context of 2017 is going to be good, but it seemed to get totally lost" in the headlines.

The CEO went on to explain that the hiccup in Q3 was minor in the bigger picture given the businesses they just sold in September and the organizational restructuring currently in progress. They only cut full year earnings by 6 cents and will still produce earnings of $6.64 or better. Also the changes in progress will allow Honeywell to grow earnings by 10% or more in 2017. That adds another 66 cents or more to an already robust earnings picture.

He said he was "astounded by the reaction" to the minor cut in earnings. He went on to say that while the business jet business was lagging, the aerospace business was still doing well and should not have been lumped into the warning. He also said the energy business had bottomed in Q3 and would be improving in Q4.

Basically the CEO took a giant step by going on CNBC and saying he was wrong in how the lowered earnings estimates were portrayed and he did a good job of explaining that the weakness was much narrower than presented and the outlook for 2017 was outstanding.

On Oct 21st, Honeywell (HON) reported earnings of $1.67 compared to estimates for $1.60. Revenue of $9.80 billion beat estimates for $9.78 billion. The company said it was well positioned for double-digit earnings growth in Q4 and that would push them to 8-9% earnings growth for the full year. For Q4 they guided for $1.74-$1.78 in earnings and analysts were expecting $1.80. They guided for the full year to earnings of $6.60-$6.64 and revenue of $39.4 to $39.6 billion. Analysts were expecting $6.68 and $39.63 billion.

Shares rallied despite the lowered guidance because Honeywell had already warned two weeks earlier and shares were crushed. The company focused on being upbeat about 2017 saying they expect double-digit earnings because of the restructuring they accomplished in 2016. The company laid off 3,017 positions in Q3 as they separated the automation and control solutions business into two new reporting segments. They took a charge of $202 million on the restructuring and layoffs. Because of the big drop in early October, the risk should be reduced for Honeywell shares.

In this market, any company that can produce double-digit earnings in Q4 and give strong guidance for 2017 should find some buyers. I believe the worst is over for the shares and we should see a rebound back to the highs, possibly before year-end. Update 2/12/17: Honeywell declared a quarterly dividend of $0.665 per share payable March 10th to holders on February 24th. The annual shareholder meeting will be on April 24th.

Position 10/24/16

Long Jan 2018 $115 call @ $6.25, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

After HON rises some we can turn it into a spread and reduce the premium.

INTC - Intel - Company Profile


Intel shares have recovered from the post analyst day crash and are back to the $36.50 level. Intel said it expects a 20% increase in its flash memory business in 2017. The company also said its average selling price for high-end server chips rose 30%. Don't count this old chipmaker out just yet.

Original Trade Description: October 9th.

Intel Corporation designs, manufactures, and sells integrated digital technology platforms worldwide. It operates through Client Computing Group, Data Center Group, Internet of Things Group, Software and Services, and All Other segments. The company's platforms are used in various computing applications comprising notebooks, 2 in 1 systems, desktops, servers, tablets, smartphones, wireless and wired connectivity products, wearables, retail devices, and manufacturing devices, as well as for retail, transportation, industrial, buildings, home use, and other market segments. It offers microprocessors that processes system data and controls other devices in the system; chipsets, which send data between the microprocessor and input, display, and storage devices, such as keyboard, mouse, monitor, hard drive or solid-state drive, and optical disc drives; and system-on-chip products that integrate its central processing units with other system components onto a single chip. The company also provides communication and connectivity offerings, such as baseband processors, radio frequency transceivers, and power management integrated circuits; and tablet, phone, and Internet of Things solutions, which include multimode 4G LTE modems, Bluetooth technology and GPS receivers, software solutions, and interoperability tests, as well as home gateway and set-top box components. In addition, it offers security solutions for computers, mobile devices, and networks, as well as software and services for technology integration; NAND flash memory products, which are used in solid-state drives; and custom foundry services, including custom silicon, packaging, and manufacturing test services. Company description from FinViz.com.

Yes, Intel. The father of modern computers, servers and everything chip related. They have a lot of competition today but Intel is still a chip behemoth. They rule the PC and server processor space with new developments faster than other chip makers can even conceive of them, with the exception of Nvidia, which is giving Intel a tough battle. There is enough market share for everyone so nobody is going to be squeezed out of the market.

I am not going to go into a lot of detail on Intel because everyone knows who they are and what they do. I believe this is the right time to play Intel because more than one company, including Intel, has said they underestimated PC demand over the last quarter.

The main reason behind the PC surge is Windows 10. The Window's Vista and Window's 8 problems have been forgotten because Microsoft went back to what worked and what customers wanted. Now that Windows 10 has been accepted by the mainstream consumer, the long awaited upgrade cycle is underway. That means tens of millions of PCs are being replaced with new models. Add in the millions of new tablets and servers and Intel should be doing well.

Their earnings are October 18th. I rarely suggest adding a new position only a week before earnings but the options are cheap and I expect Intel to beat the estimates and guide higher. I could be wrong but we have 14 months to be right.

Intel shares closed at a new 15-year high on Friday and just over $38. Intel is breaking out and shares could easily run to $50 over the next year. As a big cap tech with relatively little volatility, fund managers should be throwing money at the stock over the next three weeks.

Update 11/13/16: Intel announced a new chip technology and is releasing proof of concept chips while it scales up to produce them in mass 2-3 years from now. They figured out how to put a FPGA on the same chip as a Xeon processor. This eliminates the requirement to had separate chips on a single motherboard and eliminates all the bandwidth headaches of moving high-speed data between those two chips. Data transfer rates between the two processors on the same chip could start in the 50-100 gigabits per second range and increase to 2 terabits early next decade. This is going to be a game changer when it goes into production 2-3 years from now.

Update: 11/20/16: Intel held an analyst meeting and described a new chip that they will be testing in early 2017 and releasing to some test customers at the end of 2017 that is supposed to be very advanced. They claim their top of the line server chip can process a specific image recognition task in about 2,000 hours. The same task on a Nvidia GPU takes 33 hours. The new Nervana is said to be capable of performing the task in a fraction of that time. It will be more than a year before the refined chip will be available to the public. It is supposedly so fast that Intel was thinking about running it as a cloud service application. That is pretty strong talk for a chip that has not even been tested yet.

Update 12/11/16: Intel announced two deals with Amazon to expand the Alexa service. Intel is integrating the Alexa voice controls in to a smart speaker product and the company is expanding the Alexa voice controls into the Smart Home Hub. This means Intel will allow other developers to use its technology to build other Alexa powered devices. GE announced an Alexa lamp last week that replaces the Echo device.

Update 2/12/17: Intel (INTC) held an analyst day on Thursday and the company is probably wishing they had cancelled it. Intel said its three main areas of investment are memory chips, autonomous vehicles and wireless 5G chips. The company also said the secular decline in personal computer usage was a headwind to growth. Credit Suisse said Intel has a "spotty" track record when investing in new areas.

Intel sees a server contraction for the foreseeable future with a 5% decline per year through 2021. The reason was the decline in company operated server farms in favor of moving to the cloud. The spokesperson said the server decline will lead to smaller operating margins.

Analysts read through the chatter on why Intel was sticking with 14 nanometer (NM) products in 2017 instead of going with their new 10 nm process. Apparently, the yield and the margins on the 10 nm process are holding back full-scale production. Estimates were for full production in Q4 and too late for the back to school and holiday shopping seasons. The slowdown in technology implementation by Intel looks like an opportunity for AMD to steal back some market share with lower priced high performance PC/Server chips.

Position 10/10/16:

Long Jan 2018 $40 LEAP Call @ $2.79, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

Position 11/7/16:

Previously Closed 12/16/16: Long Dec $32 insurance put @ .33, expired, -.33 loss.

JPM - JP Morgan Chase - Company Description


JPM declared a dividend on its Series X Preferred Stock of $305 payable April 3rd to holders on March 2nd.

A judge approved the final $800 million settlement with Lehman to put that prolem behind them.

The bank is also set to be an underwriter and book runner on the Saudi Aramco IPO. Morgan Stanley will also be a global coordinator and bookrunner. Saudi Arabia is going to sell 5% of the oil giant Saudi Aramco in what will be the biggest IPO ever with a $2 trillion valuation. The IPO is expected to raise $100 billion and there will be a large sucking sound as that much money is pulled out of the equity market.

Shares of JPM broke out to a new high on Yellen's comments and the various other headlines.

Original Trade Description: January 29th.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. operates as a financial services company worldwide. It operates through Consumer & Community Banking, Corporate & Investment Bank, Commercial Banking, and Asset Management segments. The Consumer & Community Banking segment offers deposit and investment products and services to consumers; lending, deposit, and cash management and payment solutions to small businesses; residential mortgages and home equity loans; and credit cards, payment services, payment processing services, auto loans and leases, and student loans. The Corporate & Investment Bank segment provides investment banking products and services, including advising on corporate strategy and structure, capital-raising in equity and debt markets, as well as loan origination and syndication; treasury services, such as cash management and liquidity solutions; and cash securities and derivative instruments, risk management solutions, prime brokerage, and research services. It also offers securities services, including custody, fund accounting and administration, and securities lending products for asset managers, insurance companies, and public and private investment funds. The Commercial Banking segment offers financial solutions, including lending, treasury, investment banking, and asset management to corporations, municipalities, financial institutions, and nonprofit entities, as well as financing to real estate investors and owners. The Asset Management segment provides investment and wealth management services across various asset classes, such as equities, fixed income, alternatives, and money market funds; multi-asset investment management services; retirement services; and brokerage and banking services comprising trusts, estates, loans, mortgages, and deposits. JPMorgan Chase & Co. was founded in 1799 and is headquartered in New York, New York. Company description from FinViz.com.

I seriously doubt there are any readers who are not familiar with JP Morgan. The 218 year old bank has been around for many generations. They are widely seen as the strongest of the money center banks and they are only going to get stronger. The Fed is likely to raise rates three times in 2017 and every one of those hikes means free money to JPM and the other big banks.

JPM has put all the subprime mortgage suits and probes behind them and paid out billions to settle those problems. The Trump administration is expected to reduce regulation on banks and that will reduce expenses and open up new business opportunities. CEO Jamie Dimon was not a Trump fan before the election. Now he routinely speaks positive about the president and his expectations for the future of the economy.

JPM has already reported stellar earnings and lived through a strong bout of post earnings depression that knocked the stock back to $83. The rebound has been strong and it should breakout to a new nigh soon, market permitting.

Update 2/6/17: JPM said it resolved the final litigation over the Lehman collapse and will pay $797.5 million to end all litigation over the Lehman bankruptcy. The suit by Lehman claimed JPM had used its position as Lehman's largest clearing bank to siphon critical liquidity in the last few days before Lehman filed bankruptcy. JPM was in a position to see the collapse from the inside and sucked out billions of dollars from the cash flow in order to protect themselves from the collapse. Basically they raised minimum balance and margin requirements to reduce risk but that put a major strain on an already imploding Lehman.

Earnings April 14th.

Options are relatively cheap for LEAPS and we can give the stock plenty of leeway before stopping out. If you are afraid of future events you can add a March $82.50 put for 85 cents.

Position 1/30/17:

Long Jan 2018 $90 Call @ $5.37, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

NVDA - Nvidia - Company Profile


Nvidia said its processors are going to be used to power Japan's fastest super computer named TSUBAME3.0. The new computer will be more than twice as fast as the prior super computer named TSUBAME2.5. The Tokyo Institute of Technology said the new computer would be fast enough to solve some of the world's once unsolvable problems.

Shares continued their post earnings decline but they have finally reached the 50-day average at $106 and the 50-day has been strong support for the last 15 months.

Previously: Our Nvidia strategy has not worked out too well. We had a $20 call spread using the 2018 $70/$90 calls. The idea was to allow the premium received from the $90 call reduce the cost in the $70 call. Nvidia reported blowout earnings that surprised everyone and the stock spiked $20 to $88 and caused the deep out of the money $90 call to explode in price. With both calls now deep in the money the $90 premium has not yet compressed as much as the $70 premium. Temporarily, the accounting looks terrible but it will eventually correct. If we hold until expiration, we are guaranteed a $15 profit on the position.

Original Trade Description: September 18th

NVIDIA Corporation operates as a visual computing company worldwide. It operates in two segments, GPU and Tegra Processor. The GPU segment offers processors, which include GeForce for PC gaming; Quadro for design professionals working in computer-aided design, video editing, special effects, and other creative applications; Tesla for deep learning, accelerated computing, and general purpose computing; and GRID for cloud-based streaming on gaming devices. The Tegra Processor segment provides processors that integrate a computer onto a single chip under the Tegra brand name; DRIVE automotive computers, which offer supercomputing capabilities; and tablet and portable devices for mobile gaming under the SHIELD name. The company's products are used in gaming, professional visualization, datacenter, and automotive markets. It sells its products primarily to original equipment manufacturers, original design manufacturers, system builders, motherboard manufacturers, add-in board manufacturers, and retailers/distributors.

Q1 earnings rose 46% to 33 cents and beat earnings by a penny. They hiked full year revenue guidance as well as the current quarter. Tor Q2 they raised the forecast to $1.35 billion that was above analyst estimates at $1.28 billion. Gaming revenue was up 17% to $687 million but all areas of effort saw significant gains. They recently released a new graphics card that is twice as fast and 40% cheaper than the card it is replacing.

Nvidia's Graphics Processing Units or GPUs have become more than just video chips. They have become supercomputing processors and can be packaged in large groups to parallel process monster datasets and computations that would have taken weeks with conventional chips. They are truly revolutionizing the processor industry.

The focus on Artificial Intelligence or AI, a lot of companies like Google and Amazon are turning to GPUs to handle the monster amounts of data they collect every day. Facebook already uses Nvidia M40 GPU accelerators to power its Big Sur machine learning computers. Those NVIDIA GPUs were specifically designes to train deep neural networks for enterprise data centers, and the company says they are 10-20 times faster than other network computers. Nvidia said their GPD powered machine learning computers can help train networks new things in just a few hours that would take days or weeks with less powerful systems.

The new P100 GPU is 12 times faster than the prior version and can provide more performance than "several hundred computer nodes" and up to eight P100s can be interconnected to provide previously unheard of computing power. The chips in the GPUs contain more than 15.3 billion transistors each and the largest chip ever built at 16 nanometer technology. That is twice as many as on Intel's biggest chips. The P100 delivers more than 10 teraflops of performance. One teraflop can process one trillion floating-point instructions per second and the P100 can do 10 teraflops or 10 trillion calculations per second.

The COSMOS weather forecasting application runs faster on the P100 than the 27 servers, running twin multicore processors each that were previously tasked with the project. Intel makes commodity processors for the millions of PCs and servers in the world. Nvidia is light years ahead of Intel in technology. Nvidia's data center revenue increased 63% in Q1.

Update 10/3/16: Nvidia announced a new chip code-named Xavier that is specifically designed for self-driving cars. The chip has (8) 64-bit ARM cores, a 512-core graphics processor based on the new Volta graphics architecture, two video processors capable of handling 8K video and a specialized computer vision accelerator. The chip has more than seven billion transistors and more than twice the new Apple A9X processor. All of that capability is on one chip.

Update 2/6/17: Nvidia announced a new class of supercomputing workstations with breakthrough design features. The new Quadro products provide more than twice the performance of their prior league leading technology and offer ultra-fast memory to further enhance the speed. The new GP100 GPUs provide more than 20 TFLOPS of 16-bit floating point precision computing. In English that means they are faster than the human brain can even comprehend. The Quadro GPUs can render photorealistic images more than 18 times faster than a CPU.

Update 2/12/17: Nvidia reported earnings of 99 cents that rose +183% from the year ago quarter and compared to estimates for 83 cents. Revenue of $2.17 billion rose 55% and beat estimates for $2.11 billion. Shares declined slightly after the company guided for Q1 revenue of $1.9 billion plus or minus 2% with gross margins of 59.7% give or take 50 basis points.

Q2 earnings were a blowout and shares rocketed to a new high. We closed the prior position at $63.11 and I am putting a $56 entry trigger of this Watch List recommendation. We may never get triggered but it we do it should be a winning position.

Breakout entry point.
Position 9/19/16 with a NVDA trade at $63.50

Long Jan 2018 $70 LEAP Call @ $9.40, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.
Short Jan 2018 $90 LEAP Call @ $3.73, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.
Net debit $5.67.

With NVDA trade at $90.50, CLOSE Jan $90 short call.

SMG - Scotts Miracle Grow - Company Description


No specific news. Shares are still rebounding nicely.

Original Trade Description: December 11th.

The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company manufactures, markets, and sells consumer lawn and garden products worldwide. Its Lawn Care segment offers lawn fertilizers, grass seed products, spreaders, other durable products, and outdoor cleaners, as well as lawn-related weed, pest, and disease control products. The company's Gardening and Landscape segment provides water soluble and continuous-release plant foods, potting mixes and garden soils, mulch and decorative groundcover products, plant-related pest and disease control products, organic garden products, live goods and seeding solutions, and hydroponic gardening products. Its Controls segment offers insect and rodent control products, and selective and non-selective weed control products to protect homes and maintain external home areas. The company offers its products under the Scott and Miracle Grow brands plus dozens of others. It serves home centers, mass merchandisers, warehouse clubs, large hardware chains, independent hardware stores, nurseries, garden centers, food and drug stores, and indoor gardening and hydroponic stores through a direct sales force and network of brokers and distributors. Company description from FinViz.com.

This is a seasonal business as you can imagine. Spring and summer are the busy periods while the business loses money during the winter months. In their recent earnings they posted a loss of 96 cents that beat estimates for a loss of $1.28. Revenue rose 27% to $246.8 million and beat estimates for $231.3 million. Gross margin rose 930 basis points to 17.9%. The company announced a 50-cent quarterly dividend payable March 10th to holders on February 24th.

Scotts has been on a strong acquisition spree to prepare its product line for the surge in hydroponic gardening as multiple states approve legal marijuana sales. This is rapidly growing to be a huge business and Scotts has acquired a hydroponics company and a company that manufacturers a wide variety of grow lights for indoor use.

They also sold their lawn fertilization business into a joint venture with TruGreen and they receive revenue from the venture but receive none of the hassles.

They guided for full year 2017 earnings between $4.10 and $4.30 on revenue growth of 6% to 7%.

Earnings May 2nd.

The stock was hammered for a loss after they reported. I do not know what investors wanted to hear but after the $25 gain over the last six months they may have just wanted to take some profits.

SMG does not have LEAPS but in reality we only want to own it for the next two quarters when sales and profits are the highest. I am recommending the longest dated option offered, which is September. That will get us through the August earnings if we decide to hold that long. The $89-$90 level should be support unless the market decides to correct.

Position 2/6/17:

Long Sept $95 call @ $3.90, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

SMH - Semiconductor ETF - ETF Profile


The chip sector finally found some traction and is setting new highs.

Original Trade Description: December 4th.

The investment seeks to replicate as closely as possible, before fees and expenses, the price and yield performance of the Market Vectors US Listed Semiconductor 25 Index (the "Semiconductor Index"). The fund normally invests at least 80% of its total assets in securities that comprise the fund's benchmark index. The Semiconductor Index is comprised of common stocks and depositary receipts of U.S. exchange-listed companies in the semiconductor sector. Such companies may include medium-capitalization companies and foreign companies that are listed on a U.S. exchange. Company description from FinViz.com.

The semiconductor sector has been in rally mode since July. The SMH hit a high post election at $71.83 but was crushed back to $67.50 last week in the Nasdaq crash. If the economy is actually going to accelerate as analysts believe, the chip sector will be a leader. Everything we do today has some kind of chip component from smartphones to refrigerators to automobiles. Everything we touch has a chip if it is even remotely electronic.

Chips were soft from the middle of 2015 until July 2016 as the economic struggled along at a roughly 1.25% growth rate. I believe they are poised to rally higher over the next year. The growth of the cloud with millions of servers added every year is just one area that is seeing new chip technology.

Because of the crash last week the LEAP prices have declined to reasonable levels unlike most individual stocks.

Position 12/5/16:

Long Jan 2018 $75 LEAP Call @ $3.44, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

SPY - S&P-500 ETF - Put - ETF Profile


The expected January dip has failed to appear. The position expired as expected on Friday.

Original Trade Description: December 11th.

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 market is nearing a top. When and where, nobody knows for sure. However, there are calendar and headline events in our near future that could trigger a significant decline.

The market has posted a remarkable string of gains with the Dow making a new high close on 14 of the last 22 sessions. The S&P has rallied 171 points in 22 days or roughly +8.2%. The Russell 2000 has rallied 20.1% over the same period. Those would be good annual gains but to do it in 22 days has moved the market into very overextended status. And, it may become even more overextended before the bubble pops.

The market typically rises in the two weeks before Christmas and has a mixed record for the days after Christmas. The direction in the post holiday sessions normally depend on the market in the weeks before the holidays. If the market is up strongly, then traders begin to short the market in anticipation of a January decline. If the market was only slightly bullish then window dressing tends to lift the indexes in the post holiday sessions. Those trends are not what we are worried about today.

There are three basic problems. The first is Dow 20,000. The odds are good we will hit that milestone over the next ten days and that could be a very obvious sell the news event. Large round numbers tend to be psychological targets and they do not get much larger and rounder than 20,000. When the target is hit, quite a few traders may decide to take profits and shut down for the rest of the year. Dow 20K could be a bump in the road but probably not the biggest obstacle.

The second problem is the monster market gains in the post election honeymoon phase. Fund managers are putting every penny they can raise into the market in order to leverage as many gains as possible before the end of the year. They are competing with their peers and to keep their jobs and collect their bonuses. This suggests the rally could continue in some fashion until after Christmas. The problem for the next two weeks is the lack of cash. Analysts claim most funds have run out of cash because of their efforts to leverage the gains for the rest of December. That means the withdrawal cycle in January could result in a lot of selling in positions that have exploded higher over the last month.

While there is a lot of end of year retirement money hitting the funds they are investing every penny. Once January arrives and we are in a new tax year, there is no longer any reason to hold grossly overextended positions. Traders and portfolio managers will want to capture the gains and then invest the money for the next year before being forced to pay taxes. That makes January potentially rocky after a big year-end gain.

Dow - January 2016

Lastly, there is the January 20th inauguration and the associated event risk. With more than one million people attending and hundreds of thousands more lining the parade route, the potential for a terrorist attack is very high. I am sure quite a few investors will want to lock in profits and raise cash before that event risk.

So, there are multiple reasons why the market could decline over the next five weeks and very few reasons why it should continue making new highs.

I am recommending we protect ourselves from potential loss by hedging with some puts on the SPY. The ETF closed at $226.50 on Friday and futures are up strong on Sunday evening. We could see a continued rally this week but this rubber band is just about stretched to its limit.

This is not a LEAPS position. This is insurance. I am using the February puts. I am going to start with an entry trigger at $224.50 and then move the trigger and strike up if the market continues higher. The SPY has initial risk to $219-$220 and secondary risk to $216.

The put position on the SPY was triggered on the 28th when the ETF traded at $224.50. The initial support is $219 and we could see a retest of $215.

Position 12/18/16 with a SPY trade at $224.50

Closed 2/17/17: Long Feb $221 put @ $2.70, expired, -2.70 loss.

SPY - S&P-500 ETF - Call ETF Profile


We are not seeing any real market weakness and rather than just raising the potential entry point every week, I am going to wait until we actually get a significant decline and then recommend a new position. I am cancelling this recommendation.

Original Trade Description: January 2nd.

The S&P ETF mimics the S&P-500 index on a 1:10 ratio.

Most analysts believe the market sill finish significantly higher in 2017. Some analysts expect the Dow to reach 24,000 or even 25,000 by the end of 2017. A 10% move would be 22,000 and 15% 23,000. Those targets are possible but 25,000 would be a real stretch.

Analysts are rapidly updating their 2017 S&P forecasts in light of the recent rally. These are the highest estimates on the street today.

2,275 Fundstrat, Tom Lee
2,300 Bank of America, Savita Subramanian
2,300 Credit Suisse, Lori Calvasina
2,300 Goldman Sachs, David Kostin
2,300 Morgan Stanley, Adam Parker
2,300 UBS, Julian Emanual
2,325 Jefferies, Sean Darby
2,340 Canaccord, Tony Dwyer
2,350 BMO, Brian Belski
2,350 Deutsche Bank, David Bianco
2,400 JPMorgan, Dubravko Lakos-Bujas
2,400 Barclays, Jonathan Glionna
2,400 Societe Generale, Roland Kaloyan
2,424 Piper Jaffray, Craig Johnson
2,425 Citigroup, Tobias Levkovich
2,450 Oppenheimer, John Stoltzfus
2,500 RBC Capital Markets, Jonathan Golub

If any of those targets come true, buying some January 2018 SPY calls on a dip could be a profitable trade. Unfortunately, they are expensive.

Recommendation Cancelled

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