New Watch List Entries

AET - Aetna Inc

SBUX - Starbucks

Active Watch List Candidates

AAPL - Apple Inc.

GS - Goldman Sachs

IP - International Paper

Dropped Watch List Entries

MU and TM have graduated to our active play list.

BAC has been moved to new plays.

CELG and GD have been removed.

New Watch List Candidates:

Aetna Inc. - AET - close: 90.62

Company Info

AET is in the healthcare sector. According to a recent press release, "Aetna is one of the nation's leading diversified health care benefits companies, serving an estimated 46 million people with information and resources to help them make better informed decisions about their health care. Aetna's customers include employer groups, individuals, college students, part-time and hourly workers, health plans, health care providers, governmental units, government-sponsored plans, labor groups and expatriates."

If you study a one-year chart of AET the stock has definitely seen its ups and downs. That's because the healthcare industry has faced a number of issues. AET's CEO commented on this past year in their latest post-earnings conference call.

Mark T. Bertolini, Aetna chairman, CEO and president, said, "some of the challenges we face this year, including pricing solving for nearly $1 billion in ACA related industry fees and taxes, solving for the largest rate cuts to the Medicare Advantage program in our recent history, navigating a host of new regulatory requirements in our small group and individual businesses, managing through a turbulent launch in public exchanges and controlling pharmacy costs in a year where heavy priced Hepatitis C treatments first became available and treatment guidelines changed in unforeseen ways." (ACA stands for Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare).

In spite of all these challenges shares of AET are outperforming the major indices with a +32% gain in 2014 compared to a +12% gain in the S&P 500. AET's strength is due to the company's earnings performance. They have beaten Wall Street's earnings estimates and raised guidance three quarters in a row.

AET's most recent quarterly report was October 28th. Analysts were expecting a profit of $1.58 a share on revenues of $14.7 billion. AET delivered a profit of $1.79 a share. Revenues were up +13% to match estimates. The company said they added 470,000 new medical insurance customers in the third quarter, putting the total at 23.6 million.

Bertolini commented on their results, "Aetna reported solid third-quarter results, including our 10th consecutive quarter of membership growth, record quarterly operating revenues, and continued high single-digit pretax operating margin."

The major healthcare companies are reaping the benefits of Obamacare as more people sign up. Management raised their full year 2014 earnings guidance into the $6.60-6.70 zone versus Wall Street's estimate of $6.57.

Just last month AET raised their quarterly dividend 11% to 25 cents a share and added $1 billion to its stock buyback program, up from $464 million. In the last two months the stock has received multiple price target upgrades into the $95-100 zone. The point & figure chart is bullish with a $112.00 target.

The breakout past resistance near $85.00 looks like a significant buy signal. Yet after four weeks of gains I don't want to chase AET here. Tonight I am suggesting a buy-the-dip entry point at $86.00. Eventually AET will see a pullback and we want to be ready. It may not happen soon so we just need to be patient.

Buy-the-dip trigger @ 86.00, stop loss @ 79.00

BUY the 2016 Jan. $90 call (AET160115c90) current ask $9.10

Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike

Chart of AET:

Originally listed on the Watch List: 12/07/14

Starbucks - SBUX - close: 83.57

Company Info

I listed SBUX as on my radar screen a couple of weeks ago in the new plays section. The rally has continued and shares have broken through major resistance at their 2013 highs.

The company is in the services sector. They're considered part of the specialty eateries industry. The first Starbucks opened in Seattle back in 1971. Today they are a global brand with locations in 66 countries. SBUX operates more than 21,000 retail stores with more than 300,000 workers.

Earnings have only been so-so this year. You can see the results in SBUX's long-term chart below. After incredible gains in 2013 SBUX has essentially consolidated sideways in 2014. The good news is that looks like it's about to change.

The company recently announced a five-year plan to boost its profits and market share. They're going to be expanding deeper into China, Japan, India, and Brazil. SBUX expects to nearly double its stores in China to over 3,000 locations in the next five years. They're also working hard on their mobile ordering technology to speed up the experience so customers don't have to wait in line so long at their busiest locations. SBUX also plans to significantly increase its food revenues.

The company is also building on its Starbucks Evening experience where they will offer alcohol (mainly wine). SBUX was also making headlines on Friday when they launched their first Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room in Seattle. The new roastery is supposed to be the ultimate coffee lovers experience.

Analysts came away from SBUX's recent investor day pretty bullish. One firm expects SBUX's stock to double in the next four years. I certainly think SBUX will be higher a year from now. The point & figure chart is bullish and forecasting at $105 target.

SBUX is currently up five weeks in a row. Tonight I am suggesting a buy-the-dip trigger to buy calls at $82.00. More patient investors may want to consider buying a dip closer to $80.00 instead.

Buy-the-dip trigger @ 82.00, stop loss @ 74.75

BUY the 2016 Jan. $90 call (SBUX160115c90) current ask $4.45

Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike

Chart of SBUX:

Originally listed on the Watch List: 12/07/14

Active Watch List Candidates:

Apple Inc. - AAPL - close: 115.00

12/07/14: AAPL experienced a mini-flash crash on Monday with shares plunging about 9:50 a.m. The stock dipped to $111.27 before bouncing. That was almost enough to hit our suggested entry point at $111.00. AAPL did not fully recover from Monday's sell-off and posted a loss for the week, ending a six-week trend of gains.

I am not giving up on a buy-the-dip strategy for AAPL. We will leave our trigger at $111.00. More nimble traders may want to consider $110.00 instead.

Earlier Comments: November 2, 2014:
Love it or hate it AAPL always has Wall Street's attention. It has a cult-like following. The company's success has turned AAPL's stock into the biggest big cap in the U.S. markets with a current valuation of more than $633 billion.

The company is involved in multiple industries from hardware, software, and media but it's best known for its consumer electronics. The iPod helped perpetuate the digital music revolution. The iPhone, according to AAPL, is the best smartphone in the world. The iPad helped bring the tablet PC to the mass market. The company makes waves in every industry they touch with a very distinctive brand (iOS, iWork, iLife, iMessage, iCloud, iTunes, etc.) and they've done an amazing job at building an Apple-branded ecosystem. Now they're getting into the electronic payments business with Apple Pay.

The company's latest earnings report was super strong. AAPL reported its Q4 (calendar Q3) results on October 20th. Wall Street was expecting a profit of $1.31 a share on revenues of $39.84 billion. The company delivered a profit f $1.42 a share with revenues up +12.4% to $42.12 billion. The EPS number was a +20% improvement from a year ago. Gross margins were up +1% from a year ago to 38%. International sales were 60% of the company's revenues.

AAPL's iPhone sales exceeded estimates at 39.27 million in the quarter and up nearly 16% from a year ago. The only soft spot in their ecosystem seems to be iPad sales, which have declined several quarters in a row. The company hopes to rejuvenate its tablet sales with a refresh of the iPad models. More importantly AAPL management raised their Q1 (calendar Q4) guidance as they expect revenues in the $63.5-66.5 billion in the quarter. Recent news would suggest that AAPL might deliver an incredible 50 million iPhone 6s in 2014. That's not counting their new iPhone 6+.

The better than expected results and bullish guidance sent the stock to new highs. The rally has created a quadruple top breakout buy signal on its point & figure chart that is currently forecasting at $133 target. Yet we do not want to chase AAPL here. The stock is up $12 from its October low. We do want to be ready if shares see a pullback.

Tonight I am suggesting a buy-the-dip trigger to buy calls at $103.50 with a stop loss at $98.90.

Buy-the-dip trigger @ $111.00, stop loss @ 98.90

BUY the 2016 Jan. $120 call (AAPL160115c120)

11/30/14 raise the buy-the-dip entry trigger to $111.00
11/16/14 raise the buy-the-dip entry trigger to $108.00
Adjust the strike price to the 2016 Jan $120 call.
Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike

Originally listed on the Watch List: 11/02/14

Celgene Corp. - CELG - close: 114.13

12/07/14: The rally in biotech stocks paused last week. CELG retreated from its early December highs. I don't want to chase CELG here but it seems unlikely that the stock will hit our buy-the-dip entry point at $102.50 any time soon.

Tonight I am removing CELG from the watch list. I'm still bullish on the stock but we need the right entry point. I'd keep it on your radar screen. The key levels to watch are probably $110 and the $100 area.

Trade did not open.

12/07/14 removed from the watch list
11/30/14 raise the buy-the-dip trigger from $97.50 to $102.50
11/16/14 Adjust the buy-the-dip trigger from $100.00 to $97.50. Move the stop loss from $94.75 to $89.00
Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike

Originally listed on the Watch List: 11/02/14

General Dynamics - GD - close: 145.15

12/07/14: Shares of GD are virtually unchanged for the week. This is another high-flying big cap name that refuses to correct lower. We like the relative strength but we do not want to chase it.

Tonight I am removing GD from the watch list. Like CELG, I am still bullish on GD but we just need a better entry point. Keep this one on your radar screen.

Trade did not open.

12/07/14 removed from the watch list

Originally listed on the Watch List: 11/02/14

The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. - GS - close: $195.45

12/07/14: GS displayed relative strength last week and the rally was accelerating on Friday with a surge to multi-year highs. It looks like Monday's dip to the 50-dma may have been the dip entry point we were looking for. Unfortunately shares didn't trade low enough. Our suggested entry point was $185.00 and GS only dipped to $185.59 on December 1st.

Tonight I am updating our entry point strategy. Broken resistance in the $192.00 area should be new support. We will raise our buy-the-dip entry point to $192.25. We'll move the stop loss to $179.00. We'll also raise the option strike to the 2016 January $210 call.

Bear in mind that the $200 level is potential round-number resistance for GS. Plus, shares could be volatile following their earnings report in mid January. Investors may want to start with small positions at first.

Earlier Comments: October 26, 2014:
Goldman is in the financial sector. They are considered part of the national investment brokerage industry. Goldman was founded in the year 1869 and is headquartered in New York. The company provides investment banking and management services to corporations, other financial institutions, governments and high-net-worth individuals. The lion share of their business is institutional client services where GS makes markets in fixed income, equities, currencies, and commodities.

The company's recent earnings report was strong. GS announced its Q3 results on October 16th. As of the first nine months of 2014 their revenues were up $1.4 billion above the same period a year ago. Management has managed to boost profits by reducing costs. A strong mergers and acquisitions market in 2014 has helped drive GS' results as the company is gaining market share.

Looking at their recent results Wall Street expected a profit of $3.21 per share on revenues of $7.8 billion for the quarter. GS delivered $4.57 per shares, a +59% increase from a year ago. Revenues soared +25% to $8.4 billion. GS saw $20 billion in net inflows bumping client assets to $1.15 trillion.

The company does have a habit of crushing analysts' earnings estimates so the market wasn't that surprised. The stock actually sank on these results but the initial weakness is over and GS is rebounding.

The stock experienced a -10% correction from its early October high to the mid October low. The recent breakout past resistance near $180 and all of its key moving averages is encouraging. I would be tempted to buy calls right now. However, I suspect the market might see some mild profit taking after last week's big rally.

Tonight I am suggesting a buy-the-dip entry point at $180.50 with a stop loss at $174.50. Our long-term target is the $220-230 zone.

Buy-a-dip at $192.25 with a stop at $179.00

BUY the 2016 Jan $210 call (GS160115c210)

12/07/14 Strategy update: move the buy-the-dip trigger to $192.25
Move the stop loss to $179.00, move the option strike to 2016 Jan $210 call
11/30/14 move the buy-the-dip trigger to $182.00
11/09/14 adjust buy-the-dip trigger from $183.50 to $185.00
11/02/14 adjust buy-the-dip trigger from $180.50 to $183.50
Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike


Originally listed on the Watch List: 10/26/14

International Paper - IP - close: $55.07

12/07/14: IP is also showing relative strength. The stock is up four days in a row and challenging resistance at its 2014 high near $55.00. I still do not want to chase IP at current levels. We will give IP one more week and either re-evaluate our entry point strategy or remove it from the watch list.

Earlier Comments: November 16, 2014:
IP is part of the consumer goods sector. According to a company press release "International Paper (IP) is a global leader in packaging and paper with manufacturing operations in North America, Europe, Latin America, Russia, Asia and North Africa. Its businesses include industrial and consumer packaging and uncoated papers. Headquartered in Memphis, Tenn., the company employs approximately 65,000 people and is strategically located in more than 24 countries serving customers worldwide. International Paper net sales for 2013 were $29 billion (which included our now divested xpedx business)."

The company has been facing a lot of headwinds this year but they still managed to beat Wall Street's earnings estimates three quarters in a row. Their most recent earnings report was November 4th. Analysts were expecting a profit of $0.89 per share on revenues of $6.0 billion. IP reported a profit of $0.95 with revenues beating estimates at $6.05 billion.

The company saw significant improvements in its operating profits in all three categories: industrial packaging, printing papers, and consumer packaging. Management expects a surge in packaging orders in the fourth quarter.

Wall Street loves the company's focus on delivering value to shareholders. IP is almost done with their $1.5 billion stock buyback program they announced in September 2013. They also raised their dividend 14% from $1.40 to $1.60. This is IP's third consecutive fourth quarter double-digit dividend increase. The stock now sports a 3.0% yield.

IP's CEO said they were looking seriously at converting part of their business into a master-limited partnership (MLP). This would be another shareholder friendly step as MLPs do not pay federal tax if the return most of their cash to shareholders.

The stock's current rally has produced a buy signal on the point & figure chart with a long-term target at $73.00. This month has seen shares of IP break out to new multi-year highs.

IP is currently up five weeks in a row. We do not want to chase it here. Instead we'd like to buy long-term calls on a dip. The prior highs in the $51 area should offer some support. Tonight I'm suggesting a buy-the-dip trigger at $51.00 with a stop loss at $47.90.

Buy-a-dip @ $51.00, start with a stop at $47.90

BUY the 2016 Jan $55 call (IP160115c55)

Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike

Originally listed on the Watch List: 11/16/14