The markets are looking toppy and individual stocks are starting to weaken. The prior week was good to us but last week was relatively flat. Some positions gained and some declined. We are starting to see a little more weakness in individual stocks. Considering the market declined from Tuesday to Friday, that is not unexpected. We are setting up for an ugly open on Monday that could lead to a larger decline. Let's hope the dip buyers are able to circle the wagons.
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 shares hit a new intraday high on Friday at $141.74 but faded with the market in the afternoon. Apple won a patent infringement suit in China after a year of being blocked from selling the iPhone 6. The court ruled in Apple's favor saying the lower court did not follow proper procedures and there was insufficient proof that the designs constituted a violation of intellectual property rights of Shenzen Baili and their 100C phones. This is just another shakedown by China on Apple. They allowed the bogus suit to take Apple's phones out of circulation so local vendors could sell their wares. There was no fine or penalty against Shenzen Baili for bringing the bogus suit.
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.
Update 2/19/17: 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.
Update 3/5/17: There were additional confirmations the new iPhone 8 will have the OLED screen but it will not have rounded edges. There are also rumors the wireless charging will actually be "contact" charging where you place the phone on a pad rather than just somewhere on the desk or nightstand. Lastly, the home button will be removed and replaced by a function bar on the lower half inch of the screen. There were also additional hints that the prices on the big version could be as high as $1,295.
With Apple planning on updating the iPhone 7 series over the next few weeks plus announce up to 4 new iPads. There are rumors Apple could preannounce the iPhone 8 to start building the hype ahead of Q3 but I doubt that will happen because it would weigh on iPhone 7 sales for the updated phones. There are also rumors Apple has recalled all the unsold iPhone SE models from retailer inventories. The phones affected are the unlocked 16gb and 64gb models. A memo from Target about the recall was leaked to the public.
Long Jan 2018 $125 call @ $7.85. See portfolio graphic for stop loss.
ADP - Automatic Data Processing - Company Description
No specific news. Shares were down fractionally in the uncertain market on Friday.
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.
Long Jan 2018 $110 call @ $5.90, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.
ADSK - Autodesk - Company Profile
No specific news. Resistance at $89. Shares had a nice bounce off uptrend support on Wednesday.
Original Trade Description: March 5th.
Autodesk, Inc. operates as a design software and services company worldwide. The company's Architecture, Engineering and Construction segment offers Autodesk Building Design Suites to manage various phases of design and construction; Autodesk Revit products that offer model-based design and documentation systems; Autodesk Infrastructure Design Suites; AutoCAD Civil 3D, a surveying, design, analysis, and documentation solution; and AutoCAD Map 3D software for infrastructure planning, design, and management. Its Platform Solutions and Emerging Business segment offers AutoCAD software, a professional design, drafting, detailing, and visualization software; and AutoCAD LT, a professional drafting and detailing software. The company's Manufacturing segment provides Autodesk Product Design Suites for digital prototyping; Autodesk Inventor to go beyond 3D design to digital prototyping; AutoCAD Mechanical software to accelerate the mechanical design process; Autodesk Moldflow, an injection molding simulation software; Autodesk Delcam, a CAD and computer-aided manufacturing software; Autodesk PLM 360, a product lifecycle management application; and Autodesk Fusion 360, a product development environment. Its Media and Entertainment segment offers Autodesk Maya and Autodesk 3ds Max software products that offer 3D modeling, animation, effects, rendering, and compositing solutions; and Autodesk Flame and Autodesk Lustre software applications that offer editing, finishing, and visual effects design and color grading solutions. Autodesk, Inc. sells consumer products for digital art, personal design and creativity, and home design in digital storefronts and over the Internet. It licenses or sells its products to customers in the architecture, engineering, and construction; manufacturing; and digital media, consumer, and entertainment industries directly, as well as through resellers and distributors. Company description from FinViz.com.
Autodesk (ADSK) reported a loss of 28 cents that beat estimates for a loss of 33 cents. Revenue of $478.8 million beat estimates for $474.1 million. The company is losing money because they are converting from a software sales model to a subscription model and that always causes a short fall in the first 12-24 months of the process but results in larger profits in the future. New subscriptions rose 26% to 1.09 million, up 227,000 from the same period in 2015.
The company guided for the current quarter for a loss of 21-27 cents on revenue of $460-$480 million. Analysts were expecting $503 million and a 13-cent loss. Shares declined $2 on the news.
Earnings June 1st.
The stock pulled back slightly on the earnings but given the strong chart the decline was minimal. I would still like to buy it cheaper. There is a convergence of support at $82 and that is going to be my entry trigger.
Position 3/7/17 with a ADSK trade at $82
Long Jan $90 call at $7.50, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.
APA - Apache Corp - Company Profile
No specific news. The $49 level appears to be the bottom for Apache unless crude prices take another plunge. Apache is rumored to be shopping various non-core assets to fund an aggressive drilling program in the Alpine High where Apache believes there is 15 billion barrels of reserves. Once they prove out the field limits they will be drilling thousands of production wells.
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.
Update 2/26/17: Apache reported an adjusted loss of 6 cents compared to estimates for a 7-cent profit. Revenue of $1.45 billion also missed estimates for $1.51 billion. Production averaged 420,846 Boepd with 64% liquids. Their average realized price per barrel was $47.39. They spent $112 million on E&P in Q4, down -85% from the $735 million in the year ago quarter. They announced a 2017 capex budget of $3.1 billion, which is light years ahead of that Q4 spending rate. Production is expected to rise 10% in 2017.
Update 3/12/17: I am recommending we average down on this position. If we do that, Apache does not have to return to $70, Just rebounding to $60 would reinflate the LEAP prices and we could be profitable. I would recommend a 2 for 1 ratio. If you own one contract, then buy two new contracts of the same LEAP, currently at 67 cents.
Long 2018 $70 call @ $7.70, no initial stop loss.
Long (2) 2018 $70 call @ 82 cents.
Adjusted average price for 3 contracts = $3.18.
COST - Costco - Company Description
Costco is testing a grocery delivery service with Shipt starting in Tampa Bay FL. The company will deliver unlimited groceries for $99 a year in more than 35 cities. They are expanding into 15 more markets by the end of 2017 with coverage of more than 30 million households. The catch is that they will only deliver groceries, not big screen TVs or other general merchandise Costco sells.
Costco also sued Titleist to get a court to rule that Costco golf balls do not infringe on any Titleist patent.
Original Trade Description: March 5th.
Costco Wholesale Corporation, together with its subsidiaries, operates membership warehouses. It offers branded and private-label products in a range of merchandise categories. The company provides dry and packaged foods, and groceries; snack foods, candies, alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages, and cleaning supplies; appliances, electronics, health and beauty aids, hardware, and garden and patio; meat, bakery, deli, and produces; and apparel and small appliances. It also operates gas stations, pharmacies, optical dispensing centers, food courts, and hearing-aid centers; and engages in the travel businesses. In addition, the company provides gold star individual and business membership services. As of August 28, 2016, it operated 715 warehouses, including 501 warehouses in the United States, Washington, District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico; 91 in Canada; 36 in Mexico; 28 in the United Kingdom; 25 in Japan; 12 in Korea; 12 in Taiwan; 8 in Australia; and 2 in Spain. Company description from FinViz.com.
Costco (COST) was a big loser on Friday after they reported earnings of $1.24 compared to estimates for $1.36. Revenue of $29.13 billion rose 6% but missed estimates for $28.85 billion. Same store sales rose 3% but missed estimates for 3.6%.
The company announced it was raising membership fees by $5 to $60 effective June 1st with executive memberships rising by $10 to $120. Costco has about 35 million members with roughly half of them executive members. The 2% maximum reward associated with executive memberships will rise from $750 to $1000 a year. The minor increase in fees is not likely to cause material subscriber flight. Costco members are very loyal. The membership increase will produce another $260 million in annual revenue for Costco with no additional costs.
Earnings June 1st.
Unfortunately, the earnings miss caused an $8 drop in the stock price but it was up $36 since the election so this was minor profit taking. The stock closed at $170 and $167 should be decent support. There is much stronger support at $162 as insurance against a continued decline.
Position 3/6/17 with a COST trade at $167
Long JAN $175 call @ $7.00, see portfolio graphic for stop loss. .
FB - Facebook - Company Profile
Facebook closed at a new high on Friday after multiple headlines about its advertising progress. The company said it now has more than one million advertisers on Instagram, up from 500,000 six months ago and 200,000 last March. That is a major boom and revenue should be shooting higher. Instagram added 100 million users over the last six months to hit 600 million at the end of December. Of those, 400 million are active daily users. Instagram has more than 8 million businesses with active profiles. Since they understand the power of the portal, they are easy converts into advertisers.
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.
Update 2/26/17: Facebook reported it earned $4.83 in Q4 for every user and it ended the quarter with 1.86 billion users. That represented $8.81 billion in revenue and $4.57 billion in profit. That per user rate was up 30% from the year ago quarter. The company added 270 million monthly active users in 2016.
Shares finally broke out to a new high after news broke FB was in advanced talks with Major League Baseball to stream one game per week live. This would be great for FB because they could stream ads along with the game and good for MLB because it could attract fans that would not normally watch a game.
Update 3/5/17: Facebook Video is starting to take shape. The company is asking for "TV-like" original scripted shows lasting up to 30 minutes and appearing weekly. The Wall Street Journal said Facebook is willing to pay a "premium digital rate" in the low to mid six figures per episode. The Facebook CFO David Wehner said they are licensing the shows to seed the ecosystem. Facebook Video will be similar to YouTube. Facebook said they want entertainment shows in sports, science, gaming, whatever but no hard news shows. Shares are holding at the recent highs.
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
This was a great week for FireEye. They were upgraded by Bank of America from neutral to buy and by Goldman from sell to buy. This came after the company identified Russian hacking attempts at banks and government installations. The Goldman upgrade from sell to buy was especially important with the analyst saying the stock had bottomed and fundamentals were improving. Shares spiked 20% on the upgrades.
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.
Update 2/26/17: News broke that Symantec had tried to buy FEYE for $16 a share about 6 months ago but they could not agree on price. FEYE is more than likely still an acquisition target because of their focus, capabilities and low market cap. We have plenty of time. Cyber threats are increasing daily and the company warned they were seeing increasing activity from Iran and Russia both against the U.S. and Europe.
Update 3/13/17: Shares saw a minor boost on Friday after FireEye said it had discovered a phishing campaign targeting the SEC and 10 other organizations in financial services and other sectors. The disclosure by WikiLeaks of more than 7,000 pages of secret CIA documents on hacking electronic phones, TVs and appliances, also boosted the security sector.
Long Jan $13 call @ $1.90, See portfolio graphic for stop loss.
HON - Honeywell - Company Profile
No specific news. New high resistance at $127.50 is proving tough to crack with shares down -$3 in a weak market.
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.
Update 3/6/17: The company held an investor event and reiterated guidance for 2017. They expect earnings of $6.85-$7.10, up from $6.46 in 2016. For Q1 they guided for earnings of $1.60-$1.64.
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.
ITW - Illinois Tool Works - Company Description
No specific news. Shares declined with the market last week and exactly matched the Dow chart pattern starting on Tuesday.
Original Trade Description: February 19th.
Illinois Tool Works Inc. manufactures and sells industrial products and equipment worldwide. It operates through seven segments: Automotive OEM; Test & Measurement and Electronics; Food Equipment; Polymers & Fluids; Welding; Construction Products; and Specialty Products. The Automotive OEM segment produces components and fasteners for automotive-related applications. The Test & Measurement and Electronics segment provides equipment, consumables, and related software for testing and measuring of materials and structures. This segment also offers equipment and consumables used in the production of electronic subassemblies and microelectronics. The Food Equipment segment provides commercial food equipment and related services. The Polymers & Fluids segment produces adhesives, sealants, lubrication and cutting fluids, and fluids and polymers for auto aftermarket maintenance and appearance. The Welding segment produces arc welding equipment, consumables, and accessories for various industrial and commercial applications. The Construction Products segment produces engineered fastening systems and solutions. The Specialty Products segment provides beverage packaging equipment and consumables, product coding and marking equipment and consumables, and appliance components and fasteners.
Company description from FinViz.com.
ITW reported earnings of $1.39 compared to estimates for $1.37. Revenue of $3.4 billion matched estimates. Earnings were impacted by a 2% hit from the strong dollar.
The company reaffirmed their 2017 guidance for organic revenue growth of up to 3.5% and revenue from $13.8 to $14.1 billion. Operating margin is expected to rise 100 basis points to 23.5%. Free cash flow is expected to be $2 billion and $1 billion will be used in 2017 for stock buybacks. Q1 earnings guidance was $1.39 to $1.49. They ended the quarter with $2.472 billion in cash.
Earnings April 26th.
The commentary was positive and stock spiked sharply after earnings. Over the next four weeks traders took profits and shares traded sideways. On the 13th they declared a quarterly dividend of 65 cents payable April 11th to holders on March 31st. Shares ticked higher and began to make new highs.
On Feb 17th Goldman Sachs downgraded them from neutral to sell. Shares dropped nearly $3 at the open before rebounding back to close positive at another new high.
I believe the economy is accelerating. The Philly Fed Manufacturing Survey last week was the highest since 1984 after three months of rapid growth. The new president is doing everything he can to spur growth in the USA and this is going to be contagious throughout America. Tool demand is going to rise.
Because ITW moved sideways for several weeks before closing at a new high on Friday, the LEAPS premiums are relatively low compared to out of sight premiums on some of the big movers in this rally. When the rally does begin to fade, those fast movers will fall the hardest and companies like ITW should escape much of the mayhem.
Long Jan $135 call @ $6.40, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.
JPM - JP Morgan Chase - Company Description
No specific news. Unfortunately, now that the Fed is behind us and the Trump rally is fading the bank stocks could have farther to fall. JPM could easily dip to $83 on soft loan demand and a slowdown in trading activity heading into the summer.
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.
Long Jan 2018 $90 Call @ $5.37, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.
NVDA - Nvidia - Company Profile
Nvidia said TenCent had selected Nvidia's hihg power GPUs to power its cloud offerings to clients that need lots of processing power to run AI and machine learning in their clouds. TenCent said revenues rose 48% in 2016 to $21.9 billion. Angel List said more than 1,700 AI startups had been funded by 2,300 angel investors and almost all use cloud based Nvidia GPUs for their products and services. Nvidia can now claim that every significant cloud service provider is a customer and supplier of Nvidia GPUs as a service, including Amazon, Google, IBM SoftLayer, Microsoft, Alibaba Clouc and Nimbix.
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.
Update 2/17/17: 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.
Update 2/26/17: Two downgrades knocked the heck out of Nvidia last week. Romit Shah cut it from buy to sell with a price target of $90. BMO Capital cut the rating from market perform to underperform and an $80 price target. Shares fell about $15 as of Friday's open at $95. That is down from $120 two weeks ago.
Update 3/13/17: The Nvidia powered supercomputer in Japan is scheduled to go online in April and will be the most powerful in the world. The computer will use 24 Nvidia DGX-1 AI systems. This will be the largest installation of DGX-1 systems to date. Each DGX-1 combines the power of eight Nvidia Tesla P100 GPUs, each capable of delivering the performance of 250 normal servers. Each P100 can process 10 trillion instructions per second. That is a combined total of 192 P-100s equivalent to 48,000 regular servers with Intel processors.
I am recommending we add to our Nvidia position with a new strike while the stock is depressed. Nvidia topped at $120 in the last cycle and I have the utmost confidence it will breakout to new highs once the current consolidation is completed. I recommended we buy Jan $120 LEAP calls to add to our current position.
Shares broke through the support at the 50-day average for the first time in 15 months.
However, RBS reiterated a buy rating and $135 price target.
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.
Long Jan $120 LEAP Call @ $6.75, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.
QCOM - Qualcomm Inc - Company Description
Qualcomm announced a new platform for entry level smartphones that do not depend on the fastest speed possible. The 205 Mobile Platform is for low dollar phones and offers all the basic functions including 4G LTE, RF front end, discrete WiFi, power management, audio codec, speaker amplifier and software. The comprehensive mobile solution is designed to power phones expanding into markets like India and emerging markets in Asia where incomes are very low.
Shares dipped in the chaos on Tue/Wed but rebounded late in the week.
Original Trade Description: March 12th.
QUALCOMM Incorporated develops, designs, manufactures, and markets digital communications products and services in China, South Korea, Taiwan, the United States, and internationally. The company operates through three segments: Qualcomm CDMA Technologies (QCT); Qualcomm Technology Licensing (QTL); and Qualcomm Strategic Initiatives (QSI). The QCT segment develops and supplies integrated circuits and system software based on code division multiple access (CDMA), orthogonal frequency division multiple access (OFDMA), and other technologies for use in voice and data communications, networking, application processing, multimedia, and global positioning system products. The QTL segment grants licenses or provides rights to use portions of its intellectual property portfolio, which include various patent rights useful in the manufacture and sale of certain wireless products comprising products implementing CDMA2000, WCDMA, CDMA TDD, and/or LTE standards, as well as their derivatives. The QSI segment invests in early-stage companies in various industries, including digital media, e-commerce, healthcare, and wearable devices for supporting the design and introduction of new products and services for voice and data communications. The company also develops and offers products for implementation of small cells; mobile health products and services; software products, and content and push-to-talk enablement services to wireless operators; and development, and other services and related products to the United States government agencies and their contractors. In addition, it licenses chipset technology and products for data centers. Company description from FinViz.com.
Everybody knows Qualcomm because their communication chips are used in almost every major cellphone. They are announcing a new product and it could be a big winner and really upset the leadership in the chip sector.
Qualcomm has teamed up with Microsoft to develop processor chips to power cloud servers. Since Intel has a 98% lock on that sector in the standard processor world, any material breakthrough for Microsoft and Qualcomm would be earth shattering.
Qualcomm is using a redeveloped ARM chip called Centriq created on a ground breaking 10-nonometer manufacturing process. Even Intel has not yet perfected their 10-nanometer manufacturing. This puts Qualcomm one step ahead.
Partnering with Microsoft, the largest operating system provider on the planet, to produce a new server chip utilizing Windows Server technology, is also a big development. Microsoft has deep pockets and a strong desire to break the "Wintel" monopoly that has been in place for decades.
Intel's processors are expensive. Adding a Windows operating system makes those servers even more expensive. Microsoft loses market share to the Linux clones every year because those operating systems are free and that lowers the cost of ownership.
If Microsoft and Qualcomm can successfully market a server and OS that is cheaper than the Wintel versions, then both companies are winners.
The first server was demonstrated on Wednesday in Santa Clara so these companies are well down the development path. Qualcomm said it had technicians onsite at Microsoft to collaboratively optimize the Windows Server operating system for the Centriq 2400 processors. Qualcomm has also offered to provide an "open specification" for a Centriq server to the Open Compute community in an effort to rush to standardization that effectively lowers costs for everyone.
It will be months before these systems are commercially available but the headlines are sure to flow in the weeks ahead now that a working server has been demonstrated.
Qualcomm has some problems. They have roughly $4 billion in outstanding suits and fines based on a broad interpretation of their licensing strategy. Some will be paid and others negotiated and paid. If Qualcomm can keep the Centriq headlines flowing, the licensing problems will fade into the background.
Shares dipped to $53 on the licensing issues but the headlines on the Centriq processor caused a $2 spike last week.
Earnings April 26th.
Long Jan $65 call @ $2.79, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.
SHOP - Shopify Inc - Company Description
No specific news but shares closed at a new high again on Friday despite the market drop on Tuesday.
Original Trade Description: March 5th.
Shopify Inc. provides a cloud-based multi-channel commerce platform for small and medium-sized businesses in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and internationally. Its platform provides merchants with a single view of their business and customers in various sales channels, including Web and mobile storefronts, physical retail locations, social media storefronts, and marketplaces; and enables them to manage products and inventory, process orders and payments, ship orders, build customer relationships, and leverage analytics and reporting. Company description from FinViz.com.
Shopify is a cloud based retail environment for everyone. If you have a product you do not need to build a large complicated website, host servers and hire a bunch of programmers. You subscribe to Shopify and immediately begin uploading your inventory. Their front end handles all the sales for you and collects the payments. Their backend is a complete accounting package to manage inventory, sales and reporting. They built the cloud based framework and now anyone can have an online store. The service interfaces with Facebook and Amazon so people on Amazon can buy from your store and not even know your store exists. More than 377,500 companies now have storefronts on Shopify with 133,000 added in 2016.
They reported an 85% rise in revenue for Q4. They reported adjusted earnings of a penny that beat expectations for a 2-cent loss. Revenue of $130.4 million beat estimates for $121.6 million. They guided for a 66% rise in revenue for the current quarter to $120-$122 million.
Earnings May 17th.
Shares spiked from $56 to $64 on earnings but then faded over the last two weeks to $60. Shares are starting to tick higher again.
SHOP does not have LEAPS. I am using the longest strike, which is October. The stock hit $64 two weeks ago and the drop back to $60 will allow us to use the $65 strike call.
Long Oct $65 call @ $6.00, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.
SLCA - U.S. Silica Holdings - Company Description
No specific news for SLCA. However, Halliburton said they were hiring 2,000 in Texas in Q1 in an attempt to catch up with the surging oil field activity. More importantly, they said they were getting killed by sand prices because they did not have enough long term supply contracts. They said they could lose $50 million because prices were rising so rapidly. Halliburton story
In a related article analyst firm Tudor Pickering Holt said sand use in individual wells was exploding. In 2013 drillers used an average of 3 million pounds per well. In 2014 that rose to 8 million pounds as laterals grew longer and fracking techniques improved. Today that is expected to climb to 11 million pounds per well in Q2 and some "leading edge" companies were experimenting with 15-20 million pounds. Gas wells in the Haynesville are now experimenting with 30 to 50 million pounds per well. The article said moving this much sand was going to be a logistical nightmare. That is a plus for SLCA because they have the "Sand Box" container that is moved by truck or train right to the well head where they are stacked to provide as much sand as needed. Sand Usage
Original Trade Description: March 19th
U.S. Silica Holdings, Inc. produces and sells commercial silica in the United States. The company operates through two segments, Oil & Gas Proppants and Industrial & Specialty Products. It offers whole grain commercial silica products to be used as fracturing sand in connection with oil and natural gas recovery; and resin coated proppants, as well as sells its whole grain silica products in various size distributions, grain shapes, and chemical purity levels for manufacturing glass products. The company also provides ground commercial silica products for use in plastics, rubber, polishes, cleansers, paints, glazes, textile fiberglass, and precision castings; and fine ground silica for use in premium paints, specialty coatings, sealants, silicone rubber, and epoxies. In addition, it offers other industrial mineral products, such as aplite, a mineral used to produce container glass and insulation fiberglass; and adsorbent made from a mixture of silica and magnesium for preparative and analytical chromatography applications. The company serves oil and gas recovery markets; and industrial end markets with customers involved in the production of glass, building products, foundry products, chemicals, and fillers and extenders. Company description from FinViz.com.
Silica sells sand to drillers. The drilling activity has increased 50% since the low in May. The active rig count declined to 404 on May 27th and has rebounded to 756 as of last week. Many of these reactivated rigs are completing previously drilled wells that were never fracked and put in production. The IEA said there were more than 5,000 of these wells at the end of December. It only takes a few days to reopen a well and prepare it for fracturing and then move to the next. The sand demand to fracture these wells is off the charts.
Since the drilling boom in 2014 the amount of sand used in fracturing a well has risen about 400% because of two years of additional data and refinement of the process. A current well with a two-mile lateral requires as much sand as a 100 rail car train, called a unit train.
Sand providers claim they have drillers trying to lock in sand prices for a year in advance but there is not enough sand available to fill the demand. Prices are expected to rise 40% in the first half of 2017. Multiple analysts predict a sand shortage in 2018 with another 50% or more rise in prices.
U.S. Silica was crushed in late February when they missed on earnings. They spent a lot of money in the quarter acquiring additional sand reserves and merging in acquisitions from earlier in the year. They spent 2016 acquiring other sand companies and operations around the country so they would be ready when the drilling boom returned.
They were crushed again on the week of Feb 6th when oil prices fell 7% in just two days to the lows for the year.
Oil prices are down on record inventory levels. Inventories at 528.4 million barrels are the highest since record were started. However, this ALWAYS happens in Feb/Mar. Refiners go offline for spring maintenance in this slow demand period. For two months, inventories build until they restart at the end of March and begin consuming huge amounts of oil to make summer blend gasoline. The price of crude always declines in this period.
Earnings May 24th.
We know oil prices are going to rise when refiners come back online and the summer. We also know Saudi Arabia needs high oil prices when they try to IPO Saudi Aramco later this year. Rig activations are exploding. For the week of March 17th, there were 21 new rigs. We have almost double the number of rigs operating today than we did last May.
Premiums are high on SLCA so I am recommending a spread.
Long Jan $50 LEAP Call @ $6.93, no initial stop loss.
Short Jan $65 LEAP Call @ $2.58, no initial stop loss.
Net debit $4.35.
SMG - Scotts Miracle Grow - Company Description
No specific news on SMG.
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%.
Analysts believe every state could have some kind of permissions by 2021. These are the states that have already passed access laws.
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.
Update 2/26/17: Shares fell sharply the last two days after the White House said the Justice Dept is more than likely going to enforce the marijuana laws currently on the books. This would be a fight since the individual states have voted to allow recreational weed but there was a knee jerk reaction to the comments.
Long Sept $95 call @ $3.90, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.
SMH - Semiconductor ETF - ETF Profile
New high on Monday, dip with the market on Tuesday and returned to the high on Friday.
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.
Long Jan 2018 $75 LEAP Call @ $3.44, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.
UNP - Union Pacific - Company Description
No specific news. The 140,000 LEAP contracts are still in play but UNP dipped a little lower to $103. We need a break over $110 to get this ball rolling. The entire transport sector is struggling.
Original Trade Description: February 26th.
Union Pacific Corporation, through its subsidiary, Union Pacific Railroad Company, operates railroads in the United States. It offers transportation services for agricultural products, including grains, commodities produced from grains, and food and beverage products; automotive products, such as finished vehicles and automotive parts; and chemicals comprising industrial chemicals, plastics, fertilizers, petroleum and liquid petroleum gases, crude oil, and soda ash. The company also provides transportation services for coal, petroleum coke, and biomass; industrial products consisting of construction products, minerals, consumer goods, metals, lumber, paper, and other miscellaneous products; and intermodal import and export container traffic. Its rail network includes 32,070 route miles linking the Pacific Coast and Gulf Coast ports with the Midwest and Eastern United States gateways. Union Pacific Corporation was founded in 1862 and is headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska. Company description from FinViz.com.
On February 17th, somebody bought 70,000 of the Union Pacific (UNP) January $130 calls for $2.57 each. I made a note of it but never got back to do the research. When I was reviewing my notes this weekend I discovered that somebody had bought 140,000 of those calls and sold 140,000 of the January $150 calls at 50 cents. They put on 70,000 contracts on January 30th and another 70,000 contracts on February 17th. This is important because they spent just over $29 million in premium to put on this January spread with UNP at $108. I am betting that you have to be pretty sure of a trade to invest $29 million for a spread that is roughly $25 out of the money.
Somebody knows something. After Warren Buffett bought BNSF Railway, maybe somebody else is looking to grow by acquisition. I have no clue what is going on but you do not bet $29 million just because you are feeling lucky.
The railroad reported earnings on January 19th of $1.39 that beat estimates for $1.33. Revenues of $5.168 million beat estimates for $5.143 billion. The company said it was optimist for 2017 as coal shipments began to increase again and the energy sector was recovering. That means additional frac sand shipments and more drill pipe shipped to the shale fields. Coal shipments were down -25% in 2016 and -6% in Q4.
They guided for low single digit growth in freight volumes compared to volume declines in recent quarters. The CEO said various macro-economic indicators that drive the core business were also improving.
UNP is the only railroad serving all six major gateways to Mexico and they connect to Canada's rail system. Their routes cover 20 states.
They bought back $940 million in shares in Q4.
Earnings April 20th.
Shares of UNP have been in a choppy uptrend for the last year and made a new high in January. Shares fell last week when the Transports crashed for a single day. This will give us a buying opportunity for a long-term hold. I am going to follow the big money trade described above but I am not going to add the short call. At 50 cents, it is not worth it and I am going to pick a lower strike just in case that investor was overly optimistic.
Long Jan $120 call @ $4.95, no initial stop loss.
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Prices Quoted in Newsletter
At Option Investor we have a long-standing policy prohibiting the editors and staff from actually trading the individual recommendations in order to conform to SEC rules concerning trades.
The prices quoted in the newsletter are the end of day prices in most cases.
When discussing fills or stops the prices quoted are the bid/ask at the time the entry trigger or exit stop is hit. This is NOT a price that someone on staff actually got using a live order.
For entry/exit points at the market open the prices quoted will be the opening print. The majority of the time readers are able to get a better fill than the opening print because of market maker bias at the open.
For trades with an opening qualification the prices quoted will be the bid/ask at the time the qualification was met.
All of these rules normally produce worse prices than an active trader would normally get. Because they are standardized there may be some cases where a price quoted was better than an actual fill. If you received a price that was dramatically different than what was quoted please let us know.