Option Investor

Daily Newsletter, Saturday, 5/23/2015

Table of Contents

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

Market Wrap

No Volume, No Volatility, No New High

by Jim Brown

Click here to email Jim Brown

The market is trying to tiptoe to new highs without waking up the bears. We know they are slumbering nearby and buyers, what few there are, have been nibbling so quietly on stocks that the volatility has declined to the low of the year and market ranges are at multi-month lows over the last week. That is quite different than the helter skelter activity of March and April.

Market Statistics

Volume was the culprit last week with buyers waiting patiently on the sidelines for the long weekend to pass and hoping for a headline to jolt the markets out of their slumber. Even a speech by Janet Yellen failed to stimulate market interest.

Yellen's speech was basically just comments from recent Fed releases but there were some differences in inflection. While she warned again that the Fed stands ready to hike rates as the economy improves, she mentioned numerous reasons why it may not be soon.

She said the labor market was moving towards full employment but then spent several minutes explaining why labor was still weak. She complained about the number of part time workers, low labor force participation rate, a lack of skilled workers and the number of workers forced to work part time because there were no full time jobs.

She said inflation was moving towards their target of 2% but then complained about transitory issues that were holding it down and it could be "some time" before those factors faded.

She said the economy was recovering but then gave multiple reasons why the recovery was slow. The key point was her expectations for the recovery to be moderate with 2-2.5% growth for the next couple years. That is hardly an economy that can withstand a series of rate hikes. The Fed has almost never hiked rates with the GDP under 4.5% growth. We know this is a special circumstance but several of the FOMC members are very scared about hiking rates too soon and killing this weak recovery.

So the bottom line is that Yellen wants to raise rates but the Fed "must be confident that inflation will rise to our targets and that employment will continue to improve." In the context of her remarks the clear implication is that months must pass with good data before the Fed is going to pull the trigger on a rate hike. That means June is off the table for sure since the Consumer Price Index does not come out again until a week after the next FOMC meeting. There is a slim chance July could be on the table but September is now the analyst consensus for the first and only hike in 2015.

The market should have turned bullish after Yellen's dovish comments but there was nobody around to hear them. The majority of traders left early for the long weekend and for those still at their desks they probably did not want to risk money over holiday weekend.

The economics on Friday actually supported Yellen's rate hike case. The Consumer Price Index rose +0.1% for April with the core CPI rising +0.3%. That was the biggest jump in the core rate since January 2013. While the headline CPI is still flat at -0.1% on a trailing 12 month basis the core CPI is 1.8% and only slightly under the Fed's 2% target. The Fed's preferred inflation indicator is still about .4 tenths lower at 1.4% but moving in the right direction. The core rate excludes food and energy because they tend to be volatile.

The calendar for the holiday shortened week is busy only on Tuesday. The home sales and Richmond Fed will be the highlights for the day. Pending home sales on Thursday rounds out a week of housing reports.

The most critical report for the week is the GDP revision on Friday. Expectations are for a -0.8% contraction, down from a minor gain of +0.25% in the first report. Every economic report just keeps chipping away at the Q1 and Q2 estimates. The Atlanta Fed estimates are for only +0.7% growth in Q2.

If you don't like the GDP numbers just change the way you calculate them. This has been the government story for decades. Whenever a particular economic report is not favorable just change the calculation. That is why we measure unemployment today at 5.3% instead of the real rate at 10.8%. You just take out the economic numbers you don't like and suddenly the picture looks brighter.

The GDP has been low in Q1 for several years now so the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) is making a series of adjustments to the way they calculate it. They are going to "seasonally adjust" the Q1 cycle to show what they believe it should be. They are blaming the need for this adjustment on "residual seasonality."

They have found out that government spending tends to be light in Q1 so they will just average it out. They are also going to adjust some inventory components to compensate for the buildup in Q1 after the holiday spending in Q4. They are going to sift through the other calculations to see if they can find any leftover biases that exist in the current methodology.

Now if I could just figure out how to seasonally adjust my brokerage statement to minimize losses and maximize gains I would be in good shape. If it works for the BEA it should work for us, right? I am afraid no matter how much I manipulate the numbers in my statement the bottom line of cash in my account would always be the same. I would bet the BEA is going to have the same problem. They can dummy up a pleasing GDP number from month to month but the actual economic growth will be whatever it is. Pencil pushers in Washington can't manufacture growth. They can only produce the appearance of growth.

There were no new stock splits announced this week. Link to Real Time Split Calendar

The earnings calendar is also light with only four stocks of note reporting next week. Costco, Michael Kors and Palo Alto Networks report on Wednesday and Abercrombie & Fitch on Thursday. This ends the Q1 reporting cycle.

We learned on Friday that it was Microsoft (MSFT) that was in talks to acquire Salesforce.com (CRM). You may remember that CRM spiked in late April and early May on rumors somebody was going to buy them. You can put down your Sherlock Holmes spyglass now because Microsoft was the suitor. Unfortunately Microsoft wanted to pay $55 billion and a 10% premium over CRM's $49 billion market cap but SalesForce wanted $70 billion. The talks started out near parity but as they progressed CEO Marc Benioff kept raising the price. As the CRM stock rallied he became harder to deal with and Microsoft finally broke off the talks.

It was reported that Microsoft would have used some of its $95 billion in cash to buy SalesForce but Benioff's 5.7% stake in CRM would have been rolled over into Microsoft stock. He would also have had a management role at Microsoft. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has only been CEO of Microsoft for 18 months and reportedly he was also shy about making such a large purchase so soon in his tenure.

There are rumors there were other companies sniffing around the SalesForce campus in recent weeks. Amazon (AMZN) keeps cropping up as a potential suitor in order to mate SalesForce with Amazon Web Services and that would make a powerful adversary for everyone else in the space. Amazon knows how to grow a business and they have plenty of capital to throw at it.

Time Warner Cable (TWC) is in talks about selling itself to either Altice SA or Charter Communications (CHTR). Time Warner has a market cap of $48 billion and would probably get about $55 billion in any deal. That makes it tough for Altice with a market cap of only $36 billion. However having them in the bidding keeps Charter honest. Altice just agreed to buy Suddenlink Communications for $9.1 billion. Suddenlink is the 7th largest cable operator in the USA. An Altice offer would also put the deal under the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US (CFIUS) and make it harder to complete. Reuters reported that Altice has already talked to banks about raising the money to buy Time Warner.

Reuters said late Thursday that Charter was readying an offer for TWC at more than $170 per share. The stock closed at $171 on Friday.

Ctrip.com (CTRP) rose to a record high at $85 after it purchased a 38% stake in Elong Inc from Expedia. Since both companies compete in the Chinese travel market the combination of the two suggests higher profits ahead. The companies will find ways to work together instead of competing for every sale. The combination should also give them more leverage with the airlines towards getting a better discount per seat. Both companies were struggling with profitability. Elong had not been profitable since 2011 and Ctrip margins fell to an 11 year low. Now the pair will control more than 75% of the market share for high-end hotel booking. It was a marriage everyone can love. Shares rallied +17% on the news.

Autobytel (ABTL) shares rallied +31% after the company said it had acquired Dealix Corporation and Autotegrity, wholly-owned subsidiaries of CDK Global (CDK), for $25 million. The company said the all cash deal will combined prominent leaders in the automotive industry to help dealers and manufacturers sell more cars. Dealiz provides new and used car leads to dealerships and is considered the top lead generator in the industry. They operate UsedCars.com. Autobytel operates Car.com. The acquisition adds about 900 dealers to the Autobytel network and brings their total to 4,954 dealers.

Nothing runs like a Deere (DE). The company reported earnings that declined -30% and predicted a -24% drop in demand from the agricultural industry in 2015. However, rising sales of construction equipment saw the company raise its guidance for net income in 2015 to $1.9 billion, up $100 million from a forecast it made in February. Earnings of $2.03 easily beat the consensus estimate for $1.57. Revenue of $7.4 billion missed estimates of $7.53 billion due in part to the strong dollar.

Foot Locker (FL) reported earnings of $1.29 that beat estimates for $1.22. Revenue of $1.92 billion matched estimates. Sales rose +3.7% after currency problems but would have been up more were it not for the strong dollar. Inventory declined -2.7%. Same store sales rose +7.9%. Shares spiked to $65.80 on the news then declined to close at $63.46 as the market rolled over. There were no issues in the earnings that would have triggered selling.

Intuit (INTU) reported earnings of $2.85 compared to estimates for $2.74. Revenue of $2.2 billion beat estimates for $2.15 billion. Subscribers to TurboTax Online rose +13%. QuickBooks Online subscribers rose +55% to 965,000. It was a good tax season but the outlook is negative. For Q2 the company is expecting a loss of 10-12 cents on revenue of $720-$745 million. Analysts were expecting a 4 cent loss on revenue of $728.4 million. Shares spiked anyway with a 2.5% gain.

Crude prices had a rocky week with the start at $60.18, drop to $57.09 on futures expiration on Tuesday and then rebound to $60.94 on Thursday before finishing down slightly on Friday. Futures rose on another -2.7 million barrel decline in crude inventories on Wednesday but faded on Friday when active rigs declined by only -3 for the week. Traders are worried that producers are going to put rigs back to work too fast and we will never see the decline in production everyone was expecting.

Oil production declined sharply last week with a drop of -112,000 bpd to 9.262 million barrels per day. That is -178,000 bpd off the peak of 9.44 mbpd on March 27th. A drop of -112,000 bpd is huge and I suspect there was a production or pipeline problem somewhere and we will see a rebound next week. The inventory numbers were for the week ended on the 15th so the California pipeline spill was not a factor.

On the bright side U.S. gasoline prices heading into the Memorial Day weekend are the lowest for this time of year since 2009. On May 18th the national average was $2.74 per gallon. That is almost $1 below prices over the 2014 holiday.

Baker Hughes said active oil rigs declined only -1 to 659, gas rigs declined -1 to 222 and miscellaneous rigs dropped -1 to 4. The big change came in offshore rigs with a decline of -5 to 29, down from 60 in early January. That is better than a 50% decline.

At this point the odds are good we are going to see the rig count rise over the next couple of weeks but I don't expect it to shoot up. We are probably going to see it hold near the current levels until oil is over $65, which should happen over the summer.


No volume, no validation, no volatility. Those three Vs pretty well sums up the week. Volume was very low with Friday failing to even reach 5 billion shares. That was not surprising given the holiday weekend. The major indexes flirted with new highs all week but pulled away as the week progressed. There is still no conviction at the highs.

However, the number of individual new 52-week highs is stronger than expected. Some stocks are being bought despite the weakness in the broader indexes.

Merrill Lynch was out with their fund survey last week and found that cash allocations are the highest since June 2009. That means fund managers are just as confused about where the market is going as individual investors. They are prepared for a dip and are likely sitting on the fence trying to decide what to do if that dip does not appear.

The AAII Investor Sentiment Survey grew even more neutral last week with a whopping 49.8% of respondents now neutral. The bullish respondents declined -1.5% to 25.2% and the bearish respondents declined -1.4% to 25.0%. While this would appear to be somewhat negative because everyone is sitting on the fence there was some good news.

AAII Editor Charles Rotbiut did some analysis on times when neutral sentiment was strong for a long period of time. Charles found that when neutral sentiment was high for an extended period the S&P outperformed over the following six and twelve month periods 80% of the time. That is pretty strong correlation. Since neutral sentiment has now been over 45% (the average is 30.5%) for a record six weeks and still rising it would suggest we are setting up for a decent market move higher over the long term. Obviously there are a lot of exceptions to the rule and 20% of the time the market did move lower. However, we don't know what the headlines were that broke the pattern of high neutral readings in the past.

I know I cautioned everyone last week that the markets were showing no conviction but I continued to recommended remaining cautiously long until proven wrong. While a failure to liftoff above the old resistance highs is frustrating we still have not seen any material signs of a selloff.

Here is one theory on why nobody is selling. The U.S. market has $14 trillion invested. More than $8.5 trillion is index funds so those investments don't change. The majority of the rest is hedge funds and institutions. They also have low turnover. That leaves very few shares that actually trade. For instance the average daily dollar volume on the NYSE was about $40 billion in April, the most current numbers available. NYSE Dollar Volume

The dollar volume on the Nasdaq Composite on Thursday was $65 billion and that appears to be about average. Nasdaq Dollar Volume

Adding those together we see that recent daily volume is roughly $105 billion out of a market cap of $14 trillion. The markets are being moved around by roughly 0.7% of the dollars invested in the market. Everyone else is holding their positions and is either watching the market action from a distance or totally unconcerned.

The 99.3% are just along for the ride unless something happens to wake them from their slumber. When that happens the 0.7% of dollar volume that is trading spikes dramatically and the market goes directional at a high rate of speed.

The problem we have today is the lack of a catalyst. Fund managers are probably chewing their fingernails off wondering which way the market is going. We are rapidly heading into June and the end of the first six months of the year. The Dow is up +2.3% and the S&P +3.3%. That is not going to win any awards or any new customers when their midyear statements come out. That also assumes they actually achieved those gains.

If the market begins to move higher next week I would not be surprised to see those fund managers begin to throw their excess cash at the winners in an early version of window dressing. Nobody wants to be left behind if the market takes off and for the same reason nobody is selling.

Reportedly fund managers are storing their excess cash in ETFs just in case a market spike appears unexpectedly.

It all boils down to the lack of a catalyst to move us higher. Earnings are over, the Fed is on hold until September unless something changes and the economy is in a rut. The dollar index rebounded +4% for the week and the first weekly gain since early April. That means more pain for international companies and more headwinds for U.S. manufacturers. All of this is already priced into the market.

In theory there is nothing keeping us from moving higher except that everyone is scared there is a correction ahead. I think the worry over the potential for a rate hike is weighing on investors. Most don't believe there will be a hike in June but they are not willing to bet against it. Thank you Janet for filling the market with uncertainty. The weak economics are interspersed by a random number that is strong like the CPI on Friday or the payroll report for April. There is just enough good news to offset the bad but not enough to power the market higher.

For those that either were not around in June 2004 or have forgotten the last Fed rate hike reaction let me refresh your memory. In June 2004 the Fed funds rate was 1% and we had 4.5% GDP growth. The FOMC voted unanimously to raise it to 1.25% and the S&P lost -7.3% over the next 6 weeks. The prior two months had been choppy after the S&P rebounded +47% from the 2003 lows at 788. Worries over the potential for a rate hike had slowed the market gains and produced two short term declines. We are having those worries now and the S&P has rebounded from 666 to 2129 (+219%) since 2009. We have gone more than 3 years without even a simple 10% correction. This is why investors are worried today and lack conviction to buy stock at the highs.

Here is one possible scenario for the next several weeks. For all practical purposes a June rate hike is off the table. July is possible but September is likely. Janet was as dovish as possible in her Friday speech by spelling out in multiple ways why the Fed targets would probably not be met for "several months." Fund managers wanting to dress up their portfolios for the first half of 2015 could begin to add to stock positions and reducing their cash if the market were to make a new high. This could make June a decent month for the market but it depends on somebody having enough conviction to get us back to the highs. Managers can bulk up for June statements and then bail back into cash in July to avoid the summer doldrums and the normal Sept/Oct declines.

Obviously this is a fiction story or maybe just a fairy tale that has a decent chance of coming true. However, the charts for the internals have worsened over the last week. The A/D lines for the Dow, S&P and Nasdaq began to turn down on Monday. That may not be as important because of the very low volume and the desire to take profits and be out of the market before the long weekend. I can't correlate that with prior years. There was a decline in May 2014 but from May 12th-20th and the week before the holiday was up. Of course there were no Fed fears then either.

The Dow has been especially impacted by the uncertainty. Since March the Dow has traded in the lowest range in years. Last week was the lowest range since November. Since January it has been the lowest half year range in 100 years. This suggests the spring is coiled very tightly but there was no breakout last week. The longer this narrow range lasts the greater the explosive power when the tension is released.

The Dow rallied to a new high on Tuesday to close at 18,312. It was all downhill from there but the moves were minor. Friday's selloff into the close was the biggest move of the week. In theory prior resistance at 18,200 should now be support followed by 18,100 and 18,050.

Sometimes when trying to determine the health of the market it is beneficial to look at each of the individual stocks in the Dow to determine their direction. I was surprised to find that only 7 Dow stocks were in a downtrend. Several more were fading from recent highs but could not be considered a down trend yet. The ones with a negative trend are DD, WMT, VZ, TRV, PG, CVX and XOM. While it is not impossible for the Dow to decline with roughly 20 of its 30 stocks in an uptrend it would require a serious change in sentiment. I was encouraged to see that many making a positive move. There were some losses over the last several days but they were minimal.

The S&P closed at 2130.82 on Thursday for a new closing high. The -5 point decline on Friday was minimal and still above the 2125 support from earlier in the week. If the market is going lower the S&P is definitely not the culprit. I view Friday's decline as just fear of the weekend and not a material event.

If we were to see some selling appear the logical stopping point would be 2100 followed by 2070. If we were to actually see a 10% correction that would knock us all the way back to 1917 and I definitely don't see that over the next five weeks given the underlying support for June that I described above. Once we are past June all bets are off.

The Nasdaq closed within 3 points of its 5092.08 closing high from April 24th. Like the S&P it is struggling to move over its high but it has traded over that level intraday for the last three days. At this point it would appear that any gains on Tuesday will trigger a breakout but there is never a guarantee. With the dead stop at 5100 intraday for the last three days there are clearly some sellers waiting. Whether they have the firepower to blunt a post holiday relief rally is unknown.

Typically investors come back from a long holiday where the market was weak in the days before and they buy the Friday dip assuming there have been no negative headlines over the weekend.

Resistance is 5100, support 5050.

The Russell 2000 ran into trouble early in the week at 1260 and could not make it over. The high on Monday was 1259 and the index traded in the 1250-1260 range all week to close at 1252. Real resistance starts at 1267-1275 and the index never even came close. The recent market gains have been in the big caps because fund managers are scared of summer. They want to be in the highly liquid names in case they need to exit in a hurry. Any further small cap weakness and a decline below 1250 would be a warning sign for the broader market.

The Dow Transports closed at the low for the week and that is also not a good sign for future broad market gains. While there are some specific reasons why the various sectors in the transports are weak the overall view of a declining transport index is negative for the market. They have clearly broken support and it could be a long drop.

The last several weeks I have been in the "cautiously long until proven wrong" camp and I am not changing my view. If anything the markets actually look slightly stronger than they have over the last 2-3 weeks. The S&P broke out and held its gains. The Nasdaq is on the verge of a breakout and the majority of the Dow stocks have charts showing an uptrend.

The Fed is on hold, Europe is improving, China has cut rates three times in six months and Japan is pouring hundreds of billions into equities because treasuries have no yield. Even Greece may be on the verge of a solution with May 29th the new deadline.

The only thing that worries me is that there are no obvious negatives on the short term horizon. Typically when everything starts looking up that is when the market surprises to the downside. Remember, the market needs reasons to rally but it never needs a reason to move lower. When enough investors decide to take profits at the top and a mini correction is born.

If you like the market commentary you have been receiving and you are on a free trial then now is the time to subscribe. Don't wait until you miss a newsletter to decide you want to take the plunge.

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Random Thoughts

Stock buybacks are losing their luster according to a report from Bank of America. In a report issued last week the bank showed that the impact of buybacks is slowing. In the past a company that bought back stock found it easier to make their earnings estimates because they reduced the number of outstanding shares each quarter. With earnings shrinking in the current economy the corporations have to buy back even more shares to continue that trend. At the same time reducing the share count theoretically makes the remaining shares more valuable and that pushes up the share count.

BofA said these benefits are fading. Stock prices are not going up as they have in the past for companies with big buybacks. The stocks gaining in price are the ones that are putting their capital to work in building the business and those turning to M&A to expand their business.

Goldman Sachs has also pointed out that buybacks are no longer producing higher stock prices. Buybacks Losing Luster

The sharp jump in the Consumer Price Index last week had a lot to do with rising medical costs. Despite the passage and implementation of the Affordable Car Act (ACA or otherwise known as Obamacare) the cost of healthcare is rising. In April medical costs rose +0.9% in the CPI. To make matters worse Obamacare premiums are about to explode higher. For instance New Mexico is asking for a 51% increase in premiums. Tennessee has requested a 36% increase. Maryland wants a +30.4% increase and Oregon 25%. All cite high medical costs incurred by people enrolled under the ACA.

Now that the ACA has been in force for two years the insurers have a full year of claims data and the health needs of the enrolled population. With the aging population requiring more services and the price of drugs skyrocketing the costs to the insurers is soaring.

Over the first two years of the ACA the administration guaranteed profitability to the insurers in order to get them to go along with the program. The government is making large cash payments to insurers to cover their losses for the first 2 years.

New plans next year are expected to see a huge increase in premiums plus even larger deductibles. Source

Analysts wonder what happened to the U.S. consumer and why retail sales are so week this year. The answer is medical care costs that have become a huge drag on the U.S. consumer. It is only going to get worse from here.

According to U.S. Representative Frank Wolf, in a speech he gave on the House floor on March 28th, the Congressional Budget Office predicts the country will be broke by 2025. According to the CBO by 2025 every penny of revenue going into the federal budget will go to pay interest on the debt, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. There will be no money for national defense, homeland security, government workers, etc. The report he was citing came from a 2011 forecast from the CBO.

In 2010 President Obama appointed a bipartisan commission to recommend ways to reduce the national debt. The final report of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform said "By 2025 federal revenue will be able to finance only interest payments, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security." Different committee and different priorities but they came up with the same answer as the CBO. They also said, "Every other federal government activity, from national defense and homeland security to transportation and energy, will have to be paid for with borrowed money."

Jason Peuquet, research director at the centrist Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, said his organization has run its own numbers and concluded that entitlement and debt interest will outpace revenues in 2026.

Josh Gordon, policy director at the centrist Concord Coalition, a group that urges deficit reduction, pointed to a March 2012 report from the General Accounting Office that shows at some point between 2020 and 2030, the amount of spending on entitlements and interest will outpace all federal revenues going into the budget under the more pessimistic scenario.

The "pessimistic scenario" assumes the Bush tax cuts remain in place, no new taxes are added, no material cuts to Social Security and Medicare and interest rates return to normal levels.

The federal debt is roughly $18 trillion. The "unfunded liabilities" that is money the government is going to owe for things like Social Security, Medicare, retirement accounts and pensions add another $58 trillion in debt. There is no mathematical way the U.S. will ever be able to pay its debt. We can continue selling treasuries to China and Japan to raise cash but eventually they will stop buying once they realize there is no possibility of payment.

Source 1 Source 2

Goldman Sachs said don't get too excited about the new highs on the S&P because the market is going nowhere from here. Goldman's strategist David Kostin said the market may move a little higher to 2,150 in the next couple of months but then drift back down to close the year at 2,100. Kostin says the threat of a fed rate hike plus the weak economy will mean that most market gains over the next 10 years will come from dividends. The S&P is currently trading at a PE of 18.2 that puts it in the 99th percentile historically. There is not much upside from here before investors begin to take profits and move into dividend stocks to wait out the next several years. Dividends are expected to expand 7% to $400 billion in 2015 while buybacks are expected to rise 18% to $600 billion. U.S. companies increased their dividends by 14.8% in Q1 to a record $99.4 billion.

Goldman - Market Going Nowhere

Signs Market is Running Out of Steam

BofA: Wall Street Too Scared to Take Risks

Scott Krisiloff, CIO a Avondale Asset Management, said counting the Q1 earnings cycle the GAAP earnings for the S&P for the last 12 months was just $99.18. That is down -6.4% from peak earnings for the 12 months that ended in September 2014 and it means that earnings have not actually grown since January 2014. Despite no earnings growth for more than a year the S&P has moved up from a PE of 18.5 to 21.5. The difference between Scott's PE and the Goldman PE above is the accounting for stock buybacks.

Trailing 12 month earnings are expected to remain at the $99 level through Q3 and then jump to $106.54 in Q4. You may remember 6-9 months ago analysts were expecting earnings of $125-$135 in 2015.

Operating earnings are currently $111 and expected to jump to $116 by year end. However, that implies a 31% jump in GAAP earnings and 18% jump in operating earnings in Q4 alone.

With stock appreciation far outpacing earnings growth the market is at risk of a decline.

Divergent Prices

Stock prices continue to rise despite an outflow of funds from the market. I have written about this several times in recent weeks. Fund outflows are continuing despite the new market highs. Investors withdrew another $1.8 billion in the week ended on Wednesday. There have been outflows in 17 of the last 20 weeks totaling $107 billion. Funds Leaving, Stocks Rising

What is wrong with this picture?

JP Morgan says something has gone wrong with the global consumer. Senior global economist Joseph Lupton said, "It would be difficult to overstate the recent downside surprise in global consumer spending." U.S. retail sales have missed expectations for five consecutive months. Strong global equity markets, strong employment growth and a 50% decline in oil prices should have set the stage for an uptick in retail sales volume. Instead the three-month growth rate has decelerated substantially. JP Morgan's model for retail sales, which incorporates all those factors, has not been this far off the market in over a decade, with the exception of the financial crisis. The next few months will be crucial for determining if the reason is secular stagnation, continued deleveraging, etc. Something Wrong with Consumers

Is that Marijuana in my coffee? A company in Seattle Washington is now selling K-Cups called Catapult that contain 10 mg of THC along with the coffee. The weed-infused K-Cups sell for roughly $6.25 each and are said to combine well with the caffeine in the coffee to give you a "nice energetic high." Another product is a cold soda drink called Legal that is packed with 22 mg of THC. The sugar and THC are said to combine to give drinkers a high. Apparently pot-preneurs have plans to put marijuana into everything including THC pills. Source

After your THC spiked K-Cup you need something to watch your Monty Python reruns on. If you have a few bucks there is a new TV technology called 4K Ultra HDTV with four times the resolution of regular HDTVs. You can now get them 110 inches wide. Of course now you are going to need a bigger room to put it in. 4K Ultra HDTV 110 Inches


Enter passively and exit aggressively!

Jim Brown

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"The Stone Age didn't end for lack of stone, and the oil age will end long before the world runs out of oil."

Sheik Ahmed Zaki Yamani - Saudi oil minister 1962-1986


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New Plays

Telecom Services

by James Brown

Click here to email James Brown


CenturyLink, Inc. - CTL - close: 33.95 change: -0.30

Stop Loss: 35.05
Target(s): To Be Determined
Current Gain/Loss: Unopened
Entry on May -- at $---.--
Listed on May 23, 2015
Time Frame: 8 to 12 weeks (less for option traders)
Average Daily Volume = 4.4 million
New Positions: Yes, see below

Company Description

Why We Like It:
The earnings picture for CTL appears to be deteriorating and the stock has fallen as a result. CTL is in the technology sector.

They are part of the telecom services industry. According to the company, "CenturyLink (CTL) is a global communications, hosting, cloud and IT services company enabling millions of customers to transform their businesses and their lives through innovative technology solutions. CenturyLink offers network and data systems management, Big Data analytics and IT consulting, and operates more than 55 data centers in North America, Europe and Asia. The company provides broadband, voice, video, data and managed services over a robust 250,000-route-mile U.S. fiber network and a 300,000-route-mile international transport network."

Looking at the last few earnings reports the guidance picture has been getting worse. Back in November 2014 they reported their Q3 results that beat the bottom line estimate by one cent but management lowered guidance. Then in February this year CTL reported their Q4 results that missed estimates. Revenues were also below estimates and managed lowered their guidance.

Their most recent earnings report was May 5th. CTL delivered their 2015 Q1 report with earnings of $0.67 per share. That was nine cents better than expected. Yet revenues fell -1.9% from a year ago to $4.45 billion and that was below Wall Street estimates. If that wasn't bad enough they also lowered guidance again (if you're counting, that's the third quarter in a row they lowered guidance).

The stock is nearing bear-market territory, down about 19% from its 2014 highs near $42.00 (not counting the spike in July). Bulls could argue that CTL is an income play. They do have a big dividend yield, currently about 6.3%, but their dividend has been this high for weeks and shares have not managed a sustainable rebound.

Technically CTL looks poised to breakdown below support in the $34.00 area and could drop toward the $30-28 region. We are suggesting a trigger to open bearish positions at $33.65.

Trigger @ $33.65

- Suggested Positions -

Short CTL stock @ $33.65

- (or for more adventurous traders, try this option) -

Buy the JUL $32 PUT (CTL150717P32) current ask $0.50
option price is a current quote and not a suggested entry price.

Entry disclaimer: To avoid an unfavorable entry point, we will not launch a new play if the stock gaps open more than $1.00 past our suggested entry point.

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

Daily Chart:

Weekly Chart:

In Play Updates and Reviews

Markets Limp Into The Holiday Weekend

by James Brown

Click here to email James Brown

Editor's Note:
Friday's session was a disappointment. There was no follow through on Thursday's rally in the S&P 500. Aside from Janet Yellen's speech on Friday there was nothing to keep investors' attention focused on the market.

Our plan was to exit the EMES trade on Friday morning.

SMCI hit our entry trigger on Friday.

Current Portfolio:

BULLISH Play Updates

GoPro, Inc. - GPRO - close: 54.44 change: +0.94

Stop Loss: 49.25
Target(s): To Be Determined
Current Gain/Loss: +7.3%
Entry on May 14 at $50.75
Listed on May 13, 2015
Time Frame: 8 to 12 weeks
Average Daily Volume = 6.5 million
New Positions: see below

05/23/15: GPRO ended the week on an up note. Shares rallied +1.75%. That boosted its one-week gain to +8.6%. The stock is now testing resistance near the $55.00 mark and could see some profit taking over the next couple of days.

No new positions at this time.

Trade Description: May 13, 2015:
GPRO looks like a short squeeze waiting to happen. This company is the premier brand for wearable "action" cameras.

Here's the company's rather self-confident description, "GoPro, Inc. is transforming the way consumers capture, manage, share and enjoy meaningful life experiences. We do this by enabling people to self-capture engaging, immersive photo and video content of themselves participating in their favorite activities. Our customers include some of the world's most active and passionate people. The quality and volume of their shared GoPro content, coupled with their enthusiasm for our brand, virally drives awareness and demand for our products.

What began as an idea to help athletes document themselves engaged in their sport has become a widely adopted solution for people to document themselves engaged in their interests, whatever they may be. From extreme to mainstream, professional to consumer, GoPro has enabled the world to capture and share its passions. And in doing so the world, in turn, is helping GoPro become one of the most exciting and aspirational companies of our time."

GPRO came to market with its IPO in June 2014. The stock opened for trading at $28.65 and by October 2014 shares were nearing $100 per share. That proved to be the peak. GPRO spent the next six months correcting lower and finally bottomed near $37 in March this year. Now the stock is building on a steady trend of higher lows as investors digest the company's massive growth.

GPRO reported their 2015 Q1 results on April 28th. Wall Street was expecting a profit of $0.18 per share on revenues of $341.7 million. GPRO beat estimates with a profit of $0.24 a share. Revenues were up +54% from a year ago to $363 million.

Management said it was their second highest revenue quarter in history. Their GAAP results saw gross margins improve from 40.9% in Q1 2014 to 45.1% today. Their net income attributable to common stockholders increased 98.2% compared to the first quarter of 2014. International sales surged +66% and accounted for just over half of total sales in Q1 2015. GPRO shipped 1.3 million devices in the first quarter. This was the third quarter in a row of more than one million units.

GPRO management raised their guidance. They now expect 2015 Q2 revenues in the $380-400 million range with earnings in the $0.24-0.26 region. Analysts were only forecasting $335 million with earnings at $0.16 a share.

The better than expected Q1 results and the upgraded Q2 guidance sparked several upgrades. Multiple analysts raised their price target on GPRO. New targets include: $56, $65, $66, $70, and $76.

There are plenty of bears who think GPRO is overpriced with P/E above 47 and rising competition. The biggest argument against GPRO is competition from a Chinese rival Xiaomi who has produced a competitive action camera that they're selling for less than half of GPRO's similar model. GPRO critics are worried this could kill GPRO's growth in China and the rest of Asia. It's too early to tell who will be right but momentum is currently favoring the bulls.

The most recent data listed short interest at 24% of the 55.5 million share float. That's plenty of fuel to send GPRO soaring. Right now the stock is hovering around the psychological resistance level at $50.00. We are suggesting a trigger to launch bullish positions at $50.75.

- Suggested Positions -

Long GPRO stock @ $50.75

- (or for more adventurous traders, try this option) -

Long JUL $55 CALL (GPRO150717C55) entry $2.00

05/20/15 new stop @ 49.25
05/14/15 triggered @ $50.75
Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike


Hanesbrands Inc. - HBI - close: 32.35 change: -0.10

Stop Loss: 29.95
Target(s): To Be Determined
Current Gain/Loss: +0.0%
Entry on May 21 at $32.35
Listed on May 20, 2015
Time Frame: 8 to 12 weeks
Average Daily Volume = 2.74 million
New Positions: see below

05/23/15: Shares of HBI suffered a midday swoon on Friday. Traders bought the dip and HBI pared its loss to just ten cents. Traders may want to wait for a new relative high (above $32.53) before initiating new positions.

Trade Description: May 20, 2015:
HBI was founded back in 1901. Today you will find Hanes products in more than 80 percent of U.S. homes.

HBI is in the consumer goods sector. According to the company, "HanesBrands, an S&P 500 company, is a socially responsible leading marketer of everyday basic apparel in the Americas, Europe and Asia under some of the world’s strongest apparel brands, including Hanes, Champion, Playtex, DIM, Bali, Maidenform, Flexees, JMS/Just My Size, Wonderbra, Nur Die/Nur Der, Lovable and Gear for Sports.

We sell bras, panties, shapewear, sheer hosiery, men's underwear, children's underwear, socks, T-shirts and other activewear in the United States, Canada, Mexico and other leading markets in the Americas, Asia and Europe. In the United States, we sell more units of intimate apparel, male underwear, socks, shapewear, hosiery and T-shirts than any other company."

What makes HBI different than most of its competitors is that HBI owns and operates its own manufacturing facilities. About 90% of their apparel comes from company-run plants. That helps them control costs throughout the production process.

This year the company has been very shareholder friendly. Back in January they raised their dividend 33% and announced a 4-for-1 split. The stock split took place in March this year.

HBI's most recent earnings report was April 23rd. HBI reported their Q1 earnings were up +16% from a year ago to $0.22 a share. That missed estimates of $0.23. Revenues were up +14% to $1.21 billion. This was just below expectations of $1.22 billion.

In the company press release HBI Chairman and CEO Richard Noll commented on their results, saying, "We are off to a great start in 2015, once again delivering a double-digit increase in EPS, while tracking to our full-year growth plans. Our acquisition strategy continues to create value with DBApparel, Maidenform and Gear for Sports all contributing substantially to our double-digit growth. In addition, we are raising our 2015 performance outlook to reflect the recent acquisition of Knights Apparel."

Management raised their earnings guidance for 2015 from $1.58-1.63 to $1.61-1.66 per share. Wall Street estimates were at $1.64. HBI also raised their 2015 revenue guidance from $5.78-5.83 billion to $5.90-5.95 billion. Consensus estimates were already at $5.95 billion.

The stock was hammered on the earning miss as investors ignored the improved earnings and revenue guidance. The stock corrected from about $34.60 to under $31.00 in four days (-10 correction).

Analysts' reaction to HBI's results have been positive. Some have noted that Q1 is normally a slower season for HBI. They see the pullback in HBI's stock as a buying opportunity. Multiple firms have raised their price target since the earnings report (new targets are $37, $38, and $40 per share).

Technically HBI has been consolidating sideways in the $30.50-32.00 zone the last several days and have just recently started to breakout from this trading range. We want to hop on board if this bounce continues. Tonight we're suggesting a trigger to open bullish positions at $32.35.

Long HBI stock @ $32.35

- (or for more adventurous traders, try this option) -

Long JUL $32.50 CALL (HBI150717C32.50) entry $1.05

05/21/15 triggered @ 32.35
Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike


Mobileye N.V. - MBLY - close: 47.30 change: +0.11

Stop Loss: 44.95
Target(s): To Be Determined
Current Gain/Loss: -2.8%
Entry on May 15 at $48.65
Listed on May 14, 2015
Time Frame: 8 to 12 weeks
Average Daily Volume = 3.2 million
New Positions: see below

05/23/15: MBLY is up two days in a row but shares still have not recovered from Wednesday's acceleration lower. The overall trend still looks bearish for MBLY but I'm not suggesting new positions at this time.

Trade Description: May 14, 2015:
The future of hands free driving is a lot closer tha you might think. MBLY is leading the charge. Its technology is already in more than three million cars made by companies like BMW, General Motors, and Tesla.

What exactly does this technology due? DAS stands for driver assistance systems. Sometimes you might see it called ADAS for advanced driver assistance systems. This new technology helps drivers avoid collisions with other vehicles, pedestrians, bicyclists, and more while also alerting the driver to road signs and traffic lights.

The company website describes Mobileye as "a technological leader in the area of software algorithms, system-on-chips and customer applications that are based on processing visual information for the market of driver assistance systems (DAS). Mobileye's technology keeps passengers safer on the roads, reduces the risks of traffic accidents, saves lives and has the potential to revolutionize the driving experience by enabling autonomous driving."

MBLY said their technology will be available in 160 car models from 18 car manufacturers (OEMs). Further, Mobileye's technology has been selected for implementation in serial production of 237 car models from 20 OEMs by 2016.

The company is already developing a system for autonomous driving or hands free driving. They currently plan to launch an autonomous system in 2016 that will work at highway speeds and in congested traffic situations.

MBLY stock came to market in August 2014. Demand was strong enough that they upped the number of shares available from around 27 million to 35.6 million shares. They raised the IPO price from the $22 range to $25. This valued MBLY at $5.3 billion. The first day of trading saw MBLY opened at $36.00. Two months later MBLY traded at $60.00.

The IPO excitement has faded but MBLY's valuation has grown. There are now 216.6 million shares outstanding and the company's market cap is now more than $10 billion.

It's easy to see why investors are optimistic on MBLY. Annual revenues have soared from $19.2 million in 2011 to $143.6 million in 2014. Their revenues last year rose +77% from 2013. Currently a poll of analysts by Thomson Reuters is forecasting sales to rise +50% in 2015 to $218.3 million. Earnings are forecasted to surge +95%.

MBLY's most recent earnings report was May 11th. They reported their Q1 results of $0.08 per share, which was a penny above estimates. Revenues were up +28% to $45.6 million, also above estimates.

Last year the New York Post recently ran an article discussing how the White House might generate a bullish tailwind for MBLY. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued a research report that estimated ADAS type of technology could eliminate almost 600,000 left-turn and intersection crashes a year. They report also suggested that adding FCAM and lane departure technology on big vehicles like over the road trucks could reduce accidents with these huge vehicles by up to 25%. Following this report the White House said they would draft new rules that required this sort of tech in new vehicles.

Most of Wall Street analysts seem bullish. Industry experts forecast the camera-based ADAS market to grow +37% CAGR from 2014 to 2020. Goldman Sachs Recently upgraded the stock to a buy. They believe MBLY will see a 34% CAGR in sales through 2020 and will have 65% of the market by then. MBLY also garnered positive comments from a Morgan Stanley analyst who raised their price target to $68. They believe the street's 2015 estimates for MBLY are too low after the company delivered super strong growth in the last couple of quarters.

Technically shares of MBLY look attractive with a bullish trend of higher lows. The point & figure chart is bullish and forecasting at $69.00 target. Currently MBLY is hovering just below its late April highs in the $48.00-48.50 zone. We want to launch positions on a breakout past this region. Tonight we're suggesting a trigger at $48.65.

- Suggested Positions -

Long MBLY stock @ $48.65

- (or for more adventurous traders, try this option) -

Long JUL $50 CALL (MBLY150717C50) entry $2.10

05/15/15 triggered @ $48.65
Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike


Starbucks Corp. - SBUX - close: 51.48 change: +0.15

Stop Loss: 48.40
Target(s): To Be Determined
Current Gain/Loss: +0.8%
Entry on May 18 at $51.05
Listed on May 15, 2015
Time Frame: 8 to 12 weeks
Average Daily Volume = 5.8 million
New Positions: see below

05/23/15: SBUX continued to drift higher on Friday and shares outperformed the major indices with a +0.29% gain. The stock is up two weeks in a row and looks poised to challenge (and likely breakout) the April high near $52.00 soon.

Trade Description: May 16, 2015:
The world seems to have an insatiable appetite for coffee. Starbucks is more than happy to help fill that need. 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.

A few years ago Business Insider published some facts on SBUX. The average SBUX customer stops by six times a month. The really loyal, top 20% of customers, come in 16 times a month. There are nearly 90,000 potential drink combinations at your local Starbucks. The company spends more money on healthcare for its employees than it does on coffee beans.

The company's earnings results were only mediocre most of 2014 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. SBUX broke out of that sideways funk after it reported earnings in January 2015.

Five-Year Plan

In late 2014 SBUX announced their five-year plan to increase profitability. Here's an excerpt from a company press release:

"The seismic shift in consumer behavior underway presents tremendous opportunity for businesses the world over that are prepared and positioned to seize it," Schultz said (Howard Schultz is the Founder, Chairman, President, and CEO of Starbucks). "Over the next five years, Starbucks will continue to lean into this new era by innovating in transformational ways across coffee, tea and retail, elevating our customer and partner experiences, continuing to extend our leadership position in digital and mobile technologies, and unlocking new markets, channels and formats around the world. Investing in our coffee, our people and the communities we serve will remain at our core as we continue to redefine the role and responsibility of a public company in today's disruptive global consumer, economic and retail environments."

"Starbucks business, operations and growth trajectory around the world have never been stronger, and we are more confident than ever in our ability to continue to drive significant growth and meet our long term financial targets," said Troy Alstead, Starbucks chief operating officer. "We have more customers visiting more stores more frequently, both in the U.S. and around the world, than at any time in our history. And we expect both the number of customers visiting our stores and the amount they spend with us to accelerate in the years ahead. With a robust pipeline of mobile commerce innovations that will drive transactions and unprecedented speed of service, Starbucks is ushering in a new era of customer convenience. We believe the runway of opportunity for Starbucks inside and outside of our stores is both vast and unmatched by any other retailer on the planet."

The company believes they can grow revenues from $16 billion in FY2014 to almost $30 billion by FY2019. To do that they will expand deeper into regions like 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. This will also include a delivery service.

Part of the five-year plan is a new marketing campaign called Starbucks Evening experience. The company wants to be the "third place" between home and work. After 4:00 p.m. they will start offering alcohol, mainly wine and beer, in addition to new tapas-like smaller plates.

The company recently launched its first ever Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room in Seattle, near their iconic first retail store. The new roastery is supposed to be the ultimate coffee lovers experience. CEO Schultz said they will eventually open up about 100 of these Starbucks Reserve locations.

SBUX is having a pretty good 2015 so far with the stock up +23%, outperforming the broader market. A lot of this gain was thanks to a post-earnings pops. SBUX reported its Q1 2015 results on January 22nd. Adjusted earnings, backing out one-time charges, were $0.80 a share. That's in-line with estimates. Revenues were up +13.3% to $4.8 billion, also in-line with estimates.

It was a very strong holiday period for SBUX thanks in part to astonishing gift card sales. The amount of money loaded onto SBUX gift cards during the holidays surged +17% to a record $1.6 billion. One out of every seven Americans received a SBUX gift card. The company also saw significant growth overseas with its China and Asia-Pacific business soaring +85% to sales of $495 million. Their mobile transactions have reached seven million transactions a week. Investors applauded the news in spite of the in-line results and sent SBUX soaring to new all-time highs the next day.

This earnings scenario, where SBUX delivers results in-line with estimates and rallies anyway, just happened again in late April. Of course it's worth noting that even in-line results still represent exceptional growth.

SBUX reported its Q2 (2015) on April 23rd. Earnings of $0.33 a share were in-line with estimates. Revenues were up +17.8% to $4.56 billion, slightly above expectations. It was their strongest growth in four years. Customers are responding well to new drink options and an updated food menu. They're also developing new delivery options, mobile pay options, and alcoholic drinks available at select locations.

Worldwide same-store sales grew +7%. This was significantly above estimates. It also marked the 21st consecutive quarter where SBUX's comparable store sales were +5% or more.

The company issued mixed guidance. The stronger dollar is having an impact. They see fiscal 2015 results in the $1.55-1.57 range. That compares to Wall Street estimates for $1.57 per share. However, the company's revenue estimates are more optimistic. They're forecasting +16-18% sales growth into the $19.1-19.4 billion zone compares to analysts' estimates of $19.1 billion.

SBUX popped to new highs following its results and then spent the next week consolidating lower. Investors started buying the dips again at its bullish trend of higher lows. It looks like the consolidation is over and SBUX is pushing higher. We want to hop on board. Tonight we are suggesting a trigger to open bullish positions at $51.05.

- Suggested Positions -

Long SBUX stock @ $51.05

- (or for more adventurous traders, try this option) -

Long JUL $50 CALL (SBUX150717C50) entry $2.07

05/18/15 triggered @ $51.05
Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike


Super Micro Computer - SMCI - close: 33.60 change: +0.34

Stop Loss: 31.65
Target(s): To Be Determined
Current Gain/Loss: -0.1%
Entry on May 22 at $33.65
Listed on May 18, 2015
Time Frame: 8 to 12 weeks
Average Daily Volume = 622 thousand
New Positions: see below

05/23/15: It looks like the recent sideways consolidation in shares of SMCI could be over. SMCI displayed relative strength on Friday with a +1.0% gain. The stock also broke through resistance at its simple 50-dma and closed above resistance at its recent high near $33.50. Our trigger to launch bullish positions was hit at $33.65.

Trade Description: May 18, 2015:
Sometimes the market's expectations get too high. When a company fails to meet these rising expectations the stock can get punished.

SMCI is in the technology sector. According to the company, "Supermicro® (SMCI), the leading innovator in high-performance, high-efficiency server technology is a premier provider of advanced server Building Block Solutions® for Data Center, Cloud Computing, Enterprise IT, Hadoop/Big Data, HPC and Embedded Systems worldwide. Supermicro is committed to protecting the environment through its 'We Keep IT Green' initiative and provides customers with the most energy-efficient, environmentally-friendly solutions available on the market."

It's easy to see why investors might have big expectations for SMCI. Looking at three of their last four earnings reports SMCI has beaten Wall Street estimates on both the top and bottom line and raised guidance three quarters in a row. It was their most recent report where results seemed to stumble.

SMCI report its fiscal Q3 results on April 21st, after the closing bell. Earnings were up 25% from a year ago to $0.47 a share. Yet analysts were expecting SMCI to report earnings in the $0.49-0.50 range. Revenues were up +26% from a year ago to $471.2 million, but this also missed expectations.

Guidance was also a little soft. Traders were used to SMCI raising their guidance. This time guidance for the current quarter (their Q4) was generally below consensus estimates.

The market overreacted to the disappointment. Shares crashed from $35 to almost $28 following its earnings news. Then traders started buying SMCI in the $29-30 region a couple of weeks ago. The rebound has lifted SMCI back above technical resistance at its 200-dma and back above price resistance near $32.00. We are betting this rebound continues. Tonight we're suggesting a trigger to open bullish positions at $33.65.

- Suggested Positions -

Long SMCI stock @ $33.65

- (or for more adventurous traders, try this option) -

Long JUL $35 CALL (SMCI150717C35) entry $1.50

05/22/15 triggered @ 33.65
Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike


Total System Services, Inc. - TSS - close: 41.50 change: -0.18

Stop Loss: 40.75
Target(s): To Be Determined
Current Gain/Loss: +1.2%
Entry on May 08 at $41.02
Listed on May 07, 2015
Time Frame: 8 to 12 weeks
Average Daily Volume = 843 thousand
New Positions: see below

05/23/15: I am starting to worry about our TSS trade. Shares are down three days in a row. I warned readers that Wednesday's session looks like a bearish reversal pattern. The stock did pause at short-term technical support on Friday at its simple 10-dma. It's worth noting that TSS is up five weeks in a row. The pullback from Wednesday's high is starting to look like a potential top.

No new positions at this time.

Trade Description: May 8, 2015:
Consistently beating Wall Street's earnings estimates has driven shares of TSS to new all-time highs. The company is in the financial sector. The XLF financial ETF is down -1.2% for the year. TSS is up +19% for the year.

According to the company, "At TSYS® (TSS), we believe payments should revolve around people, not the other way around. We call this belief People-Centered Payments®. By putting people at the center of every decision we make, TSYS supports financial institutions, businesses and governments in more than 80 countries. Through NetSpend®, A TSYS Company, we empower consumers with the convenience, security, and freedom to be self-banked. TSYS offers issuer services and merchant payment acceptance for credit, debit, prepaid, healthcare and business solutions. TSYS' headquarters are located in Columbus, Ga., U.S.A., with local offices spread across the Americas, EMEA and Asia-Pacific."

This company has beaten analysts' estimates on both the top and bottom line the last four quarters in a row. Their most recent earnings report was April 28th. Earnings per share soared +41% to $0.54. That was eight cents above estimates. Revenues were up +11.7% to $662.2 million.

A few months ago (January 2015) TSS announced a new 20 million share stock buyback program to replace their old one. Last quarter they repurchased 1.45 million shares. When you include the company's dividend they paid out 73% of their available free cash flow to shareholders.

TSS' President and CEO, Mr. M. Troy Woods, commented on their recent results saying, "As a result of the great start to the year, we are revising our adjusted EPS guidance to grow between 12-14% from the previous range of 11-13%."

Shares of TSS surged to new highs on its earnings report. Since then traders have been buying the dips and the stock set a record closing high today. Tonight we're suggesting a trigger to launch bullish positions at $40.85.

FYI: TSS will hold an analyst day on May 20th.

- Suggested Positions -

Long TSS stock @ $41.02

- (or for more adventurous traders, try this option) -

Long AUG $40 CALL (TSS150821C40) entry $2.50

05/19/15 new stop @ 40.75
05/18/15 new stop @ 39.85
05/08/15 triggered on gap open at $41.02, suggested entry was $40.85
Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike


BEARISH Play Updates

First Solar, Inc. - FSLR - close: 55.07 change: -0.82

Stop Loss: 57.25
Target(s): To Be Determined
Current Gain/Loss: Unopened
Entry on May -- at $---.--
Listed on May 19, 2015
Time Frame: 8 to 12 weeks
Average Daily Volume = 2.7 million
New Positions: Yes, see below

05/23/15: FSLR did not see any follow through on Thursday's bounce. Shares reversed with a -1.4% decline. Once again the stock looks poised to breakdown below support near $55.00.

Our suggested entry point $54.40.

Trade Description: May 19, 2015:
Investors may not have the patience for FSLR's plans to form a yieldco. The last several months have delivered some rocky moves in FSLR's stock with a swing from the low $70s down to $40 and then back to $65. Now shares are breaking down again.

FSLR is in the technology sector. According to the company, "First Solar is a leading global provider of comprehensive photovoltaic (PV) solar systems which use its advanced module and system technology. The Company's integrated power plant solutions deliver an economically attractive alternative to fossil-fuel electricity generation today. From raw material sourcing through end-of-life module recycling, First Solar's renewable energy systems protect and enhance the environment."

FSLR's most recent earnings report was on April 30th. Their Q1 results were a disaster. A year ago FSLR earned $1.89 per share for Q1 2014. This year analysts were expecting a loss of ($0.28) per share. FSLR delivered a loss of ($0.62). Revenues plunged -50% from a year ago to $469 million. Wall Street had been expecting $600-636 million in revenues.

Back in February, when FSLR reported its Q4 results, the company had already warned that future revenues would be weak (for multiple quarters) as they prepare to form a yieldco with another solar firm, SunPower (SPWR). At the time, the market didn't seem to care. Shares of FSLR soared on its earnings report back in February.

Three months later and investor sentiment appears to have changed. FSLR commented on their revenue declines in their Q1 report. Here's an excerpt from their earnings report, "The sequential decrease in net sales resulted from retaining projects which would otherwise have generated revenue in anticipation of the Company's announced plans to pursue a YieldCo. In addition, delays on multiple projects in the current quarter, a higher mix of module only sales and the sale of the SolarGen 2 project in the prior quarter contributed to the lower revenue."

A yieldco is similar to a real estate investment trust (REIT) which is designed to produce dividends for investors. Back in February FSLR had announced plans to partner with rival SPWR and form a new company, 8Point3 Energy Partners, as a new yieldco company. FSLR believes that long-term the yieldco will deliver for investors but traders may not have the patience to wait around at current valuations.

Technically shares of FSLR look weak. They are down sharply from their late April, pre-earnings, high near $65.00. There has been very little oversold bounce as shares churned sideways in the $55-57 zone these last several days. The point & figure chart is bearish and forecasting at $45.00 target. Odds are good that FSLR could try and fill the gap from February and that would mean a drop toward round-number support near $50.00. Tonight we are suggesting a trigger to open bearish positions at $54.40.

Trigger @ $54.40

- Suggested Positions -

Short FSLR stock @ $54.40

- (or for more adventurous traders, try this option) -

Buy the JUL $50 PUT (FSLR150717P50)

Entry disclaimer: To avoid an unfavorable entry point, we will not launch a new play if the stock gaps open more than $1.00 past our suggested entry point.

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


Hi-Crush Partners - HCLP - close: 29.86 change: +0.26

Stop Loss: 32.05
Target(s): To Be Determined
Current Gain/Loss: Unopened
Entry on May -- at $---.--
Listed on May 21, 2015
Time Frame: 8 to 12 weeks (stock traders)
Average Daily Volume = 384 thousand
New Positions: Yes, see below

05/23/15: We added HCLP to the newsletter on Thursday night as a bearish candidate. Naturally shares reverse higher and outperform the market on Friday with a +0.8% gain.

The technical picture and the fundamental story hasn't changed. This bounce should fail. We are suggesting a trigger to launch bearish positions at $28.90.

Trade Description: May 21, 2015:
There has been some speculation that the low in crude oil prices back in March this year might be a bottom. Yet the impact of oil's slide from its 2014 highs will be felt for months, if not years to come. Oil and gas companies have been cutting spending plans and that's going to hurt the oil services companies like HCLP.

HCLP is in the basic materials sector. According to the company, "Hi-Crush is an integrated producer, transporter, marketer and distributor of high-quality monocrystalline sand, a specialized mineral that is used as a proppant to enhance the recovery rates of hydrocarbons from oil and natural gas wells. Our reserves, which are located in Wisconsin, consist of 'Northern White' sand, a resource that exists predominately in Wisconsin and limited portions of the upper Midwest region of the United States. Hi-Crush owns and operates the largest distribution network in the Marcellus and Utica shales, and has distribution capabilities throughout North America."

HCLP has delivered some impressive revenue growth over the past few quarters. Yet it can't seem to nail the earnings number. Last November they reported revenues grew +92% from a year ago. This February, their Q4 report, showed revenues were up +104%. Their most recent earnings report was May 6th and revenues were up +44%. Yet all three quarters saw HCLP miss the earnings estimate.

Wall Street was expecting HCLP to deliver a profit of $0.78 a share. HCLP's Q1 earnings were only $0.60. Robert Rasmus, Co-CEO at HCLP, commented on his company's results, saying, "The first quarter was challenging due to the decline in drilling activity and adverse weather conditions, particularly in February, in the Northeast. While we see the impact of fewer well completions and reduced demand for sand continuing through the second quarter, the long-term fundamental trends for sand demand remain favorable."

Shares of HCLP have seen multiple downgrades and reduced price targets over the last few weeks. In April Moody's Investor Services said, "the negative outlooks for Exploration and Production and Oilfield Services sectors will increasingly lead to weakness among proppant companies. Moody's analysts expect to see EBITDA decline 10% - 20% for rated proppant companies based on their base-case oil, natural gas and natural gas liquids price assumptions and expectations of continued volatility in the sector." (source).

Last week David Einhorn, the influential hedge fund manager at Greenlight Capital, was bearish on the fracking-related stocks. Then a few days later Credit Suisse issued a bearish outlook on HCLP. They reduced their rating on HCLP from outperform to neutral and slashed their price target from $60 to $35. The Credit Suisse analyst is worried that margins could come under pressure due to plenty of supply. According to Credit Suisse, "as we see an extended period of subdued drilling and completions activity in the face of a prolonged low oil price environment; in the long term, we see an industry that is being paid essentially for its logistics infrastructure rather than for the value delivered by the commodity itself."

Dividend investors might be tempted to own HCLP since the company has a big dividend yield (currently about 9%). Why own HCLP now when you might get better entry point at a lower price? Shareholders may get a 9% yield but they just lost 25% of their capital with the recent sell-off from April's peak. The point & figure chart is bearish and forecasting at $24.00 target.

We think HCLP goes lower. Shares are currently chewing through support in the $29-30 area. Tonight we are suggesting a trigger to launch bearish positions at $28.90. More conservative traders may want to wait for HCLP to breakdown below its January 2015 low of $28.23 before initiating positions.

Trigger @ $28.90

- Suggested Positions -

Short HCLP stock @ $28.90

- (or for more adventurous traders, try this option) -

Buy the JUL $30 PUT (HCLP150717P30)

Entry disclaimer: To avoid an unfavorable entry point, we will not launch a new play if the stock gaps open more than $1.00 past our suggested entry point.

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



Emerge Energy Services - EMES - close: 40.05 change: +0.30

Stop Loss: 40.35
Target(s): To Be Determined
Current Gain/Loss: -5.6%
Entry on May 07 at $37.65
Listed on May 06, 2015
Time Frame: 8 to 12 weeks
Average Daily Volume = 413 thousand
New Positions: see below

05/23/15: EMES has not been cooperating. We decided in Thursday's newsletter to exit this trade on Friday morning. Shares continued to outperform the broader market and added another +0.75% on Friday.

- Suggested Positions -

Short EMES stock @ $37.65 exit $39.75 (-5.6%)

- (or for more adventurous traders, try this option) -

JUN $35 PUT (EMES150619P35) entry $2.35 exit $0.50 (-78.7%)

05/22/15 planned exit
05/21/15 prepare to exit this trade immediately
05/18/15 Goldman upgraded EMES this morning
05/16/15 new stop @ $40.35
05/07/15 triggered @ 37.65
Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike