Option Investor

Daily Newsletter, Saturday, 8/1/2015

Table of Contents

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

Market Wrap

Weekend Profit Taking

by Jim Brown

Click here to email Jim Brown

The major indexes rolled over Friday afternoon as traders that profited from the early week short squeeze grew frustrated by the lack of further gains and headed to the exits ahead of the weekend. When the rebound slows, traders take profits.

Market Statistics

Friday afternoon trading was lackluster just like the rebound from the opening drop. This was a summer Friday and volume was mediocre and conviction lacking.

Pushing the markets lower at the open was another drop on the Shanghai Composite to close at 3,663.73, down -1.13% for the day. China has a problem. The government said they would support the market with the $450 billion they loaned to the agency tasked with that effort, UNTIL the index returned to 4,500. Being educated investors, we all know what is going to happen every time the index nears 4,500 again. That is now resistance and everyone will take profits when the index nears that level. China is new to the stock market management game and this mistake will cost them dearly. It is ok for them to support it to that level but they cannot tell investors the magic level where support ends. Eventually they are going to have to retract that statement and replace it with some generic statement without a specific level.

Also weighing on the U.S. markets was the Employment Cost Index for Q2. Civilian employee compensation rose at the slowest rate on record since the data began in 1982. After rising +0.7% in Q1 the rate of growth slowed to +0.2% in Q2 and well under estimates for a +0.6% increase. That headline number disguises the real facts. Private civilian compensation was flat at +0.0% while benefits declined -0.2%. However, government compensation rose +0.6% while government benefits rose +0.8%. Apparently, if you want your income and benefits to rise sharply you need to work for state and local governments.

Wage growth is not specifically a criteria the Fed is counting on to raise rates but you can bet they are paying attention. They need higher wages to stimulate more consumer spending and induce inflation. Wages are going in the wrong direction for that. This is going to make the payroll reports next week even more important.

The sentiment and confidence numbers are also declining. The final reading of Consumer Sentiment for July declined from 96.1 to 93.1. The present conditions component declined from 108.9 to 107.2 and the expectations component declined from 87.8 to 84.1.

We saw in the Consumer Confidence report a couple days earlier that respondents were growing concerned about their jobs and felt their incomes were slowing. Confidence came in at 90.9, a ten-month low, and well below estimates for 99.3. The ECI reported above is a sign that consumers are right to be worried.

Both confidence and sentiment peaked in January and have been flat to down for the last six months. This is not a good sign for the economy.

The dollar crashed at the open -1.19 points to 96.31 on the dollar index. This was a direct result of the shock from the ECI numbers and the declining chances for a September rate hike. The dollar did rebound as the day progressed.

Yields on the ten-year treasury collapsed nearly -3% on the ECI news and they did not recover. The drop to 2.2% was a two-month low and right on the edge of a steeper drop. If the payroll numbers show any weakness next Friday analysts claim we could see yields decline to 2.0%. Any payroll weakness on top of the slowing wage growth would be the kiss of death to the Fed's rate hike hopes for September. Analysts believe the chance of a September hike has fallen to about 39% with, 20% chance for October and 41% chance for December.

The economic calendar for next week is headlined by the ADP Employment and Nonfarm Payroll reports. The ADP survey is expecting around 215,000 new jobs, down from 237,000 in June. The Nonfarm estimates are in the same range at 217,500. If the job concerns in the Consumer Confidence survey translate to slower hiring for July the Fed is going to have a tough time hiking rates in September.

The ISM Manufacturing Index is due out on Monday and expectations are for no gain. This is the national activity index. Some of the regional surveys were showing weakness, especially in employment. If the ISM shows the same weakness the estimates for the payroll reports could drop quickly.

Reynolds American (RAI) announced a stock split with earnings. They will split 2:1 on August 31st.

Medivation (MDVN) announced a 2:1 split on Friday to occur on September 15th.

The big earnings news on Friday came from the energy sector. Dow component Chevron (CVX) reported the worst quarterly earnings in six-years and warned that the outlook was bleak. Chevron took a non-cash charge of $2.6 billion for halted projects and a revision on the value of reserves.

Adjusted earnings of 97 cents declined from year-ago levels of $2.98 and missed estimates for $1.13. Revenue fell to $36.83 billion from $55.48 billion but did beat estimates for $35.7 billion.

The company said the upstream E&P sector was especially hard hit by the 50% drop in crude prices. The average sale price for a barrel of crude was $50 in Q2, down from $92 in the comparison quarter. The average sale price for natural gas was $1.92, down from $4.09.

Global production was 2.60 million Boe per day, up from 2.55 mbpd. Chevron is on track to drill 325 gross wells in 2015 in the USA. The sixth production well in the Jack/St. Malo deepwater gulf project is now online and that project is ramping up to 80,000 bpd in production. The existing production base declined -49,000 bpd as a result of normal depletion and field decline.

Work in the Partitioned Zone between Saudi Arabia and Kuwait has been shutdown since May and has cut production by 38,000 bpd. There is no estimate on when that production will be restarted. Chevron operates a concession there with Saudi Arabia and Kuwait each receiving credit for 50% of the oil produced. In 2009 Saudi Arabia renewed the concession with Chevron for 30 years until 2039. However, Saudi Arabia did not consult with Kuwait and tension ensued. Chevron has been operating in the zone since 1949 when Texaco acquired Getty Oil. Chevron acquired Texaco in 2001. Kuwait had been leasing land at Mina al-Zour to Chevron for export of the Wafra oil. Kuwait was planning on cancelling Chevron's lease and building a 615,000 bpd refinery on that land. Saudi Arabia upset those negotiations and now Kuwait will not renew work permits for Chevron and has asked them to move out of the area. Since Chevron has about 200,000 bpd of total production in the area this is a serious challenge.

Chevron said it was reducing its workforce and scaling back on some projects because of fears that low oil prices would linger. When asked directly on the conference call what price they were expecting the CFO said I am not going to give you our proprietary oil price projections. I will say the revised outlook was based on two factors. One was expectations for global GDP growth, which was being impacted by a slowdown in China. The other was the much higher production in the U.S. where ingenuity and cost efficiencies have raised the economics of those barrels and put more supply into the marketplace. Basically, new completion methods, a nearly 50% decline in fees from service companies and lower well costs means the cost per barrel has declined.

Shares declined -$4.55 to $88 on the news to close at a four-year low to erase -35 Dow points.

Dow component Exxon (XOM) posted its worst quarterly earnings in 6 years. The company reported $1.00 compared to estimates for $1.13. That was down from $2.05 in the comparison quarter. Revenue declined from $111.2 billion to $74.1 billion but that did beat estimates of $66.4 billion. Production averaged 3.979 Boepd, up +3.6%. Liquid production rose +11.9% to 2.291 mbpd. Natural gas production was 10.13 Bcf per day, down -5.8%. Exxon refined 4.3 mbpd, down -2.8% but the $1.2 billion in refining profits helped to defer the losses in the E&P division.

Exxon returned $4.1 billion to investors through buybacks and dividends during the quarter. However, they are cutting back on stock purchases to only $500 million in Q3. Capex spending declined -16% to $8.3 billion. Spending on major projects like floating crude platforms and gas export terminals declined -20% to $6.746 billion.

Exxon cut spending by -9.4% in 2014 and was targeting another -12% in 2015. However, that target will probably be exceeded. CEO Rex Tillerson warned at a Houston energy conference that the supply glut and low prices will persist for the "next couple years, at least." Tillerson has been negative on oil prices since well before the July crash began last year.

Exxon shares fell -$3.80 to a three year low and erased -29 points from the Dow.

"This is the beginning, not the end, of the write down process," Paul Sankey, an energy analyst at Wolfe Research LLC, said on Bloomberg. "The biggest concern is that we'll see weaker demand over the second half of the year."

Ocwen Financial (OCN) declined -28% after the mortgage servicer said expenses were higher than expected because of regulatory scrutiny. A loss of 12 cents missed estimates for an 18-cent profit. The company shrank its portfolio by 26% to $316 billion in the last 12 months. It is now the fifth largest mortgage servicer. Regulators have been pressing the company to clean up its act since the financial crisis. Every other quarter it appears Ocwen is on the road to recovery only to have some new crisis emerge.

Seagate Technology (STX) reported adjusted earnings of 77 cents that beat consensus estimates for 65 cents. Revenue of $2.93 billion barely squeezed past estimates of $2.92 billion. The company approved a quarterly dividend of 54 cents payable on August 25th to holders on August 11th. The company said it was well positioned with 35% less inventory than their competitor (WDC). However, Q3 was expected to be flat with a ramp up into Q4. Seagate said the weakness in the PC sector appeared to be bottoming and they expected sales to increase in Q4 thanks to Windows 10 PCs hitting the market for the holidays.

Expedia (EXPE) shares spiked +13% after posting earnings of 89 cents that beat estimates of 84 cents. Recent acquisitions of Trivago, Wotif and Travelocity are contributing to the growth and increasing market share. Revenue of $1.66 billion rose 21.1% sequentially and 11.2% from the year ago quarter. The OTA segment saw revenue rise +25% sequentially with Expedia and Hotels.com the major drivers. Expedia shares are in nosebleed territory and I would wait for a return to the 50-day average to add to your portfolio.

Outerwall (OUTR), the owner of the Redbox DVD and Coinstar kiosks, posted adjusted earnings of $2.19 that easily beat estimates for $1.73 but shares imploded after the news. Revenue of $545.4 million missed estimates of $570.8 million. Outerwall expects full-year earnings in the range of $8.12 to $9.12 per share, with revenue in the range of $2.26 billion to $2.35 billion.

The problem for Redbox is that streaming movies are cutting into their sales. Overnight rentals of DVDs declined -19% in Q2. Pacific Crest Securities said the problem was only going to get worse as time passes. Despite an increase in DVD rental prices the rental revenue per kiosk declined -8.9% and the fifth consecutive quarter of declines. The analyst said Q3 could be especially weak because of a large number of new movie releases that would draw people to the theaters and away from their DVD players. Outerwall has 41,340 Redbox kiosks and 21,140 Coinstar kiosks.

The company is also suffering from a perceived failure of its EcoATM business. That is a kiosk that buys used cellphones and tablets. They grew the number of kiosks from 980 in Q2-2014 to 2,260 in Q2-2015 but revenue only rose +9.5% when it should have more than doubled. Wireless carriers are becoming more aggressive on trade-ins and consumers are keeping their devices longer. The company took an impairment charge of $86 million related to the EcoATM business. I predict this business will be a failure.

Columbia Sportswear (COLM) reported a loss of 9 cents but analysts were expecting a loss of 22 cents. Revenue of $380.2 million blew past estimates for $346 million. Columbia increased their guidance for the second time this year and now expects to earn $2.25-$2.35 for the full year.

SkyWest (SKYW) shares soared +18% after reporting earnings of 61 cents compared to estimates for 27 cents. Revenue of $788.4 million beat estimates for $771.1 million. The earnings came from reduced costs, aircraft that are more efficient and solid bookings. They operate 3,500 flights a day under the name SkyWest and ExpressJet under partnerships with United, Delta, US Airways, American and Alaska Airlines. SkyWest was named Regional Airline of the Year in 2014.

Royal Caribbean (RCL) posted earnings of 84 cents compared to estimates for 73 cents. Revenues rose +4% despite the strong dollar impacting fares from Europe. The expansion into the Asian market is going very well with 95% of the cruises booked for the year. Demand is so strong they have eliminated discounts in the 40-days prior to a cruise. Historically, cruise lines deeply discounted unsold rooms in the weeks ahead of departure in order to fill the cabins.

Lower fuel costs, which account for 9.8% of expenses, also helped profitability. Strong bookings have allowed the company to raise prices, which should help profits in the next two quarters. RCL raised full year guidance from $4.45-$4.65 to $4.65-$4.75. Analysts were expecting $4.61.

There are still plenty of earnings due out next week with close to 1,000 companies reporting. However, the number of big names are dwindling. Disney, Zillow and MGM headline on Tuesday. Priceline, GoDaddy, Fit Bit and Time Warner report on Wednesday. Michael Kors, Mobileye, Lions Gate and Monster Worldwide highlight on Thursday.

Alpha Natural Resources (ANR) could file for bankruptcy as soon as Monday. The carnage in the coal sector is getting worse by the day. Walter Energy (WLT) filed for bankruptcy earlier in July. The price of metallurgical coal has declined to the lowest price in a decade and thermal coal prices and demand are continuing to decline. Alpha will miss a debt payment of $109 million due on August 1st. ANR has already been delisted from the NYSE for being priced too low. Rumors suggest Citigroup may give it another loan to see it through bankruptcy. Alpha has assets but no money.

Peabody Energy (BTU) shares have declined from $65 to $1.20 over the last four years despite being the largest in the sector and having a relatively strong business. They posted a loss of 58 cents compared to estimates for 59 cents. Revenues declined -23.8% to $1.34 billion because of lower sales prices for coal.

Last week Vale SA and Japan's Sumitomo Corp sold the Isaac Plains coking-coal mine in Australia to Stanmore Coal Ltd for $1. The mine was valued three years ago at $631 million. Sumitomo bought a 50% interest in 2012 for $430 million. The mine has reserves of 40 million tons of coking coal. Previously it produced 2.8 million tons a year from 2006 to 2014, which was sold to steelmakers in Japan and China. It was closed in 2014 for lack of demand. When China claims its economy is not shrinking just ask them how much met coal are they buying today.

GoPro (GPRO) was upgraded from neutral to buy at Citi in a monster 30-page report. The analyst upgraded the target price from $63 to $90. Jeremy David said GoPro is poised to benefit from both drone mounted flying cameras and virtual reality. Citi estimated the flying camera opportunity to rise to 10 million units and $5-$10 billion in sales by 2020. If GoPro only acquired 50% of the drone business that would be worth an additional $3 in annual earnings.

Citi raised earnings estimates for 2016 to $2.27 and 2017 to $3.00. Jeremy said "while everyone was expecting U.S. sales to decelerate, GoPro appears to have executed its product launches and distribution growth flawlessly and we expect more of the same going forward." Shares spiked above $64 at the open but faded with the market to close at $62.

Crude prices are heading back to the lows for the year after the warnings from Chevron and Exxon. WTI lost -1.75 on Friday to close at $46.77. Prices had rallied strongly on Wednesday after inventories fell -4.2 million barrels for the week and production declined sharply. Daily production fell -145,000 bpd last week to 9.413 mbpd. That is now down -197,000 bpd from the 40-year peak at 9.61 mbpd on June 5th. This should have energized the oil bulls but the temporary spike in prices lasted only about an hour. Crude inventory levels are still 36.5% over historical averages dating back to 1984.

On Friday afternoon, Baker Hughes reported another increase of 5 active rigs targeting oil to raise the total to 664. That is up from the low of 628 on June 26th. Natural gas rigs declined -7 to 209 and another 18-year low.


Next week could be tough on the markets. With all the big news behind us, with the exception of the payroll reports, investors will be looking at a rapidly disappearing summer with kids returning to school in just a couple weeks. That normally keeps traders out of the market as they try to cram a few more family days into what is left of summer. These are the summer doldrums for the market.

Over the last five years, the S&P has averaged a -2.5% decline in August. While past performance is no guarantee of future results, August and September are the two worst months of the year for the markets.

If the payroll reports come in hot, the odds of a September rate hike will move up sharply. If they come in weak, the odds will shift towards December rather than September. It is not that a 25 basis point hike will actually hurt the market but it is the perception that rate hikes (plural) will hurt the market long term and there is normally an adverse market reaction when the first hike occurs. For that reason the market could be volatile with the next Fed meeting only six weeks away.

If you look at the S&P chart since March we have not made any gains. We have traded in a 90-point range but the March 2nd close was 2117 and we closed at 2103 on Friday. There has been some extreme volatility but no direction other than sideways. Eventually that will end but probably not in the direction investors are hoping for over the next six weeks.

You have heard it many times. "This is the most hated bull market in history." They say this because the bull exhausted itself with the sprint out of the October lows and has not been able to jump the resistance fence at 2130 to find greener pastures.

If it were just the U.S. economy investors were worried about we could muddle through until October and hope for a yearend rally. Greece has not been solved but it is out of the headlines for now. The European economy is actually improving despite the Greek bailout. The weakness in China is the huge cloud over the market. Despite the claims by the Chinese government of 7% growth the demand for every commodity has collapsed. Ignore what they say, watch what they do. They are not consuming commodities and that is the key to the scenario.

U.S. earnings have been better than expected but overall guidance is weak. The reformulated GDP numbers lifted us out of negative territory for Q1 but only got us to +1.5% growth for the first half. If you do not like the numbers change the calculation and that is what the government did to try and improve the outcome. Even with the new formula, growth is still anemic. "There are 3 kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics."- Mark Twain

All of those facts I listed are going to weigh on the S&P in August. Will it be another -2.5% decline or worse? Nobody really knows but next week should provide some clues. We know how earnings are going to turn out now that more than 2,000 companies have reported. Hopeful earnings expectations are no longer going to support the market.

Joshua Brown pointed out last week that the range between the highs and lows in 2015 is among the narrowest on record. In the last 90 years there have only been 12 instances where the S&P was between +2% and -2% for the year at the end of July. Only once in those 12 did the market end the year basically unchanged. In fact only 3 years ended down, 1 flat, and 8 were up nicely by year-end with a 6% average gain. While we cannot count on those averages ending up in our favor this year there is a historical precedent. However, the Fed was not hiking rates for the first time in six years in any of those 12 years.

You may have seen the Bloomberg article last week claiming that all the S&P gains for the year ($199 billion in market cap addition) came from only 6 stocks. (Amazon, Google, Apple, Facebook, Gilead and Disney) According to the Wall street Journal 50% of the Nasdaq gains ($664 billion in market cap increase) came from those six stocks. Biotech and healthcare account for the rest.

Bloomberg said U.S. equities are being pushed along by the fewest stocks in more than 15 years, which is a sign of fatigue in a bull market. This is the third longest bull market since 1940 and we have gone three years without a 10% correction. Reliance on fewer and fewer companies has been the hallmark of maturing bull markets, most memorably the Internet bubble when six computer and software companies accounted for 55% of the S&P gain in the 12 months leading to the peak. Market's Ugly Truth

If you take the market capitalization factor out of the equation a different market picture appears. The S&P is a capitalization-weighted index. The bigger the stock the more it impacts the S&P. That is why Google, Amazon, Apple, etc can "move the market" when they have those outsized gains.

Guggenheim has an "equal weighted" S&P ETF (RSP) where all stock gains/losses are treated equal. Rather than have only six stocks pushing the index around the ETF factors in all 500.

The second chart is the SPY ETF, which is the normal S&P where big caps rule. Note that the trend is not so bearish as long as the 205 level holds as support.

The biggest problem with the market being led along by 6 stocks is that eventually those stocks will fail. Everybody always hopes those superstars will continue making new highs but that very rarely happens. With the rest of the market already lagging that creates some serious volatility with the heroes suddenly turn into zeros.

The Bullish Percent Index on the S&P improved very slightly last week with a bounce from 50% to 52.6%. That means 52.6% of the S&P stocks still have a chart with a positive long-term trend.

The chart below came from Bank of America Merrill Lynch through Josh Brown and shows the rising number of 52-week lows on the S&P despite the index itself near its historic highs. This is not a good sign. Oppenheimer technician, Ari Wald, expects a correction because this is the worst market breadth since 2007. Worst Market Participation since October 2007

The AAII Investor Sentiment Survey for last week changed dramatically despite the short squeeze rebound from Monday's lows. Bullish sentiment declined -11.4% and neutral sentiment fell -3.7%. Bearish sentiment spiked an amazing +15.1% to 40.7% to exceed neutral sentiment for the first time in months.

This is the 18th consecutive week that bullish sentiment has been below its historical average of 38.8%. This is the longest streak since July 2012.

Abnormally high bullish or bearish sentiment is seen as a contrarian indicator.

The bottom line to this market discussion is that it will be tough to make new highs from here in August. The big names mentioned above are already beginning to weaken and once they break support the decline could be severe. GOOGL has been holding at support at $650 for a week, down from its $700+ adventure. Amazon is holding over $525 but the intraday ranges are narrowing suggesting a direction will appear soon. Apple closed at a four-week low on Friday at $121, which happens to be the 200-day average and a level that analysts have suggested as a buy point. If that level were to break there would be a flood of sellers appear.

The S&P touched the 200-day at 2063 on Monday and rebounded +50 points to the 2114 high on Friday. However, Friday was a bearish engulfing candle where the high and low were outside the high and low from Thursday. That is typically a bearish signal. If we do get another negative day on Monday that would make Friday's peak a lower high.

For a summer Friday the volume was moderate at 6.8 billion shares and it was almost dead even on advancing/declining volume. Also, advancers at 4,281 outpaced decliners at 2,803. Based on those numbers investors were not rushing to the exits. Nobody has given up on the market yet but once we move into August we need to watch carefully for signs the fat lady is warming up in the wings.

The Dow chart is the most concerning this weekend. The Dow rebound came to a dead stop at 17,775 and the 200-day average but also horizontal resistance for the last three months. With the majority of Dow components already reported there is very little excitement left to push the Dow stocks higher. Disney is the only Dow component reporting next week. I expect Disney to do well but it will not be able to carry the Dow by itself for more than one day.

The energy stocks Chevron and Exxon are not likely to suddenly rebound next week. There is a good possibility they will continue making new lows and that is going to drag the index lower.

The levels to watch are 17,775 and 17,650. If either breaks that should set the short-term direction.

The Nasdaq rebounded to resistance at 5150 and stalled on Friday. However, the afternoon decline only succeeded in pushing it fractionally negative. You can thank the biotechs for that with a +1% gain for the day. The 5160 level is going to be the key as well as the 5075 level on any dip. Investors should watch those big five stocks, Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google because they will determine the Nasdaq direction.

The small cap Russell 2000 was positive on Friday despite giving back half of its early gains. With big caps weak, this suggests investors are rotating back out of the big caps. However, this was month end and there could have been some portfolio rebalancing in play as well.

The 1240 level is now resistance with the 200-day as support.

The hurdle for next week is the payroll reports. A strong report means a better chance of a rate hike in September while a weak report suggests no hike until December. Strong jobs means investors will probably begin to position themselves for a negative market heading into the September FOMC meeting.

We are heading into the worst two months of the year for the market. Adding the fear of the Fed and weak Q3 earnings guidance into the mix and the market outlook is questionable at best. However, rallies, like corrections, tend to appear without warning and when you least expect them. Since quite a few traders are expecting a correction and short interest is at 8-year highs the market is definitely primed for a lasting short squeeze if some good news suddenly appeared.

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

The average length of an economic expansion is 58 months. The current one has lasted roughly 72 months. Only three others have lasted longer. The expansion ending in 1969 lasted 105 months, 1990, 92 months, 2000, 120 months.

Since the growth over the last four years has been below normal and the economy is nowhere near its potential at 4% or better, JP Morgan expects the expansion could last until 2018 and would put it near the record for the one ending in 2000. How long will the current economy recovery last?

Highlights from analyst Scott Krisloff from last week:

There is plenty to worry about

"This relative tranquility belies the fact that there's still plenty to worry about. The U.S. economic recovery remains tepid. Interest rates are poised to rise sometime in the coming year, and the global economic environment is quite unsettled with the overhang of the Greek debt crisis and a slowing Chinese economy." Oaktree Asset Management

UPS saw softening in the US economy

"The U.S. Domestic business is on track with its revenue management and efficiency gains; however, we are seeing some softening in the economy…We think the economy was certainly slower for sure." UPS

Visa sees very little improvement in the US Consumer

"We continue to see very little change in the overall global economy, with a few exceptions. We are hopeful, but not counting on an improvement in the US economy, but we see very little improvement with the US consumer in our numbers thus far, if any." Visa

Commodities in general declined -10.1% in July. The Fed has been saying since last July that the drop in commodity prices pushing inflation lower was "transitory" and would rebound soon. I think "soon" has come and gone and inflation is still headed lower.

The Greek stock market will reopen on Monday after a five-week trading halt. However, local investors will face restrictions to avoid capital flight. Under the ECB approved plan the Athens Stock Exchange will open for business but with strict rules. Local investors will be able to buy shares with existing cash holdings, but not withdraw money from their Greek bank accounts to buy shares. There will be no rules for foreign investors. Trading in all stocks including banking shares will be allowed with volatility limits at 30%. The GREK ETF closed at a three-year low on Friday.

Greece may ask for 24 billion euros in the first tranche of bailout aid from the Troika in August. That will be used to prop up the banks and make payments on prior loans to the IMF and ECB. Lone us 24 billion so we can pay those missed payments from June and July. This is equivalent of getting a cash advance on your credit card to pay your credit card bill. This will eventually end in disaster.

Short interest on stocks in the S&P-500 hit its highest level in more than two-and-a-half years in July at 2.5% according to Markit. That is the highest level since December 2012. The energy sector had the highest short interest at 4.5%. Some analysts believe this is a good thing since shorts can get squeezed and cause monster rallies. WSJ MoneyBeat Shorts Hit Highs


Enter passively and exit aggressively!

Jim Brown

Send Jim an email

"Economic expansions do not die in their beds from old age. They are murdered by Federal Reserve rate hikes."

Rudi Dornbusch, MIT Economist (1942-2002)

(The same quote has been used for bull markets)


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New Plays

Bears Regain Control

by James Brown

Click here to email James Brown


Whiting Petroleum - WLL - close: 20.49 change: -1.89

Stop Loss: 22.55
Target(s): To Be Determined
Current Gain/Loss: Unopened
Entry on August -- at $---.--
Listed on August 01, 2015
Time Frame: Exit PRIOR to earnings
Average Daily Volume = 7.1 million
New Positions: Yes, see below

Company Description

Trade Description:
The price of crude oil has fallen more than 50% in the last year. It's wreaking havoc on energy company earnings and revenues. Unfortunately the outlook is not very bullish. The global economy is stalling. China, the biggest buyer of commodities, is growing at multi-year lows. The U.S. is creeping along at +2% GDP growth while oil inventories in the U.S are near 80-year highs.

The Middle East OPEC cartel is pumping a high-volume of oil, regardless of price declines, to maintain market share. A recent report showed that OPEC boosted production by +140,000 barrels a day in July from its June production. OPEC is hoping to pressure the U.S. fracking industry out of business but it's not working. U.S. production remains resilient and near record highs.

If that wasn't enough the Federal Reserve is desperate to raise interest rates and would like to raise in September. Rising interest rates usually boost a country's currency. If the Fed does raise rates the U.S. dollar should rally even further. A rising dollar puts downward pressure on commodity prices. This paints a bearish picture for crude oil prices.

Given this outlook for crude we're adding a bearish play in the energy industry. Some view WLL as a barometer of the U.S. shale oil and gas industry. If that's the case the stock price is suggesting a dire forecast.

WLL is in the basic materials sector. According to the company, "Whiting Petroleum Corporation, a Delaware corporation, is an independent oil and gas company that explores for, develops, acquires and produces crude oil, natural gas and natural gas liquids primarily in the Rocky Mountain and Permian Basin regions of the United States. The Company’s largest projects are in the Bakken and Three Forks plays in North Dakota, the Niobrara play in northeast Colorado and its Enhanced Oil Recovery field in Texas."

WLL just reported its Q2 earnings on July 29th. Analysts were only expecting a profit of $0.02 per share. WLL delivered $0.04. However, that's a -97% drop from a year ago. Revenues plunged -29.4% to $590 million, which was significantly below analysts' estimates of $677 million.

We have to give the company credit for cutting costs dramatically during a tough time in the oil industry. Otherwise they would not have managed a profit for the quarter. WLL also managed to set a new company record for production of 170,000 barrels a day in the second quarter. Unfortunately, these positives are not enough to outweigh the overall bearish impact of plunging oil prices.

Plus, investors and analysts might shun WLL as the company is sending mixed messages. The company claimed that based on strong results during the second quarter they were raising their capex budget from $2 billion to $2.3 billion. That was two weeks ago. This past week WLL has already cut its capex budget. Now they're forecasting $2.15 billion. They only plan on running eight drilling rigs in the second half of 2015 instead of their previous guidance of 11 rigs.

Wall Street is turning more cautious on WLL. The stock has seen several downgrades and lowered price targets recently. The stock has been very weak. Momentum is bearish. The oversold bounce last week just failed under technical resistance at its simple 10-dma. Now WLL is testing round-number resistance at $20.00. We are suggesting a trigger to launch bearish positions at $19.85.

Trigger @ $19.85

- Suggested Positions -

Short WLL stock @ $19.85

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

Buy the SEP $20 PUT (WLL150918P20) current ask $1.80
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

Midweek Rally Stalls

by James Brown

Click here to email James Brown

Editor's Note:
The oversold bounce from Monday's market lows has stalled. Traders seemed to be locking in profits ahead of the weekend. Now the S&P 500 is in the middle of its multi-month trading range, which doesn't help us determining its next move.

CBT hit our stop loss. We closed the TSRA trade on Friday.

Current Portfolio:

BULLISH Play Updates

ConAgra Foods, Inc. - CAG - close: 44.06 change: -0.38

Stop Loss: 43.25
Target(s): To Be Determined
Current Gain/Loss: Unopened
Entry on July -- at $---.--
Listed on July 30, 2015
Time Frame: Exit PRIOR to earnings on September 22nd,
Average Daily Volume = 3.3 million
New Positions: Yes, see below

08/01/15: There was no follow through on CAG's bounce. Shares lost -0.85% on Friday. Currently I don't see any changes from Thursday's new play description. Our suggested entry point is $45.25.

Trade Description: July 30, 2015:
Two years ago CAG spent $5 billion to buy private-label food maker Ralcorp. At the time, CAG called it a "transformational" deal. Unfortunately their private-label business has been nothing but a money pit.

CAG is in the consumer goods sector. According to the company, "ConAgra Foods, Inc., (CAG), is one of North America's leading food companies, with brands in 99 percent of America’s households. Consumers find Banquet, Chef Boyardee, Egg Beaters, Hebrew National, Hunt's, Marie Callender's, Orville Redenbacher's, PAM, Peter Pan, Reddi-wip, Slim Jim, Snack Pack and many other ConAgra Foods brands in grocery, convenience, mass merchandise and club stores. ConAgra Foods also has a strong business-to-business presence, supplying frozen potato and sweet potato products as well as other vegetable, spice and grain products to a variety of well-known restaurants, foodservice operators and commercial customers."

In spite of CAG's troubles with its private-label business the stock was trading at multi-year highs in mid June this year. Then on June 19th the stock soared more than +10%. Shares were already flirting with its all-time highs from the late 1990s in the $38-39 area. They vaulted higher when activist hedge fund JANA Partners announced they had amassed a 7.2% stake in CAG. JANA argued that CAG was undervalued and not doing enough to build shareholder value.

It would appear that CAG's management has embraced JANA's involvement and direction. They have already appointed two of JANA's nominees to the Board of Directors. When CAG reported its Q4 earnings on June 30th they announced they would exit the private-label business.

The private-label business, Ralcorp, makes stuff like cereal, pasta, crackers, jams, jellies, syrups, and frozen waffles. They currently account for about 25% of CAG's sales but they're also the only business segment that lost money last quarter.

Multiple companies, including TreeHouse Foods (THS) and Post Holdings (POST), are said to be bidding for the private-label business. Estimates suggest it could sell for $3.5 billion. That's a big drop from the $5 billion price tag CAG paid.

Shares of CAG saw a two-week correction from its early July highs but traders have started to buy the stock again and recently broke the short-term trend of lower highs. We suspect this activist-investor fueled rally in CAG has further to run. Often activist investors urge companies to break up to unlock shareholder value or push for a company to sell itself. We'll have to see what the next move is. Today's high was $44.51. We are suggesting a trigger to launch bullish positions at $45.25.

Trigger @ $45.25

- Suggested Positions -

Buy CAG stock @ $45.25

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

Buy the SEP $45 CALL (CAG150918C45)

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


Guidewire Software, Inc. - GWRE - close: 59.05 change: -0.24

Stop Loss: 57.75
Target(s): To Be Determined
Current Gain/Loss: +1.4%
Entry on July 23 at $58.25
Listed on July 21, 2015
Time Frame: Exit PRIOR to earnings on Sept. 1st
Average Daily Volume = 368 thousand
New Positions: see below

08/01/15: GWRE spent the entire week churning sideways in the $58.20-59.80 range. Last week's decline snapped a three-week trend gains. Hopefully GWRE is now rested and ready for its next leg up.

I am suggesting traders wait for GWRE to rally above $60.00 before considering new positions. Tonight we are adjusting the stop loss to $57.75.

Trade Description: July 21, 2015:
The NASDAQ composite is up +10% year to date. GWRE is outperforming with a +13.3% gain. Shares spent three months, March-May, consolidating lower after the rally failed at resistance near $55.00. GWRE's direction changed after its latest earnings report.

GWRE is in the technology sector. According to the company, "Guidewire builds software products that help Property/Casualty insurers replace their legacy core systems and transform their business. Designed to be flexible and scalable, Guidewire products enable insurers to deliver excellent service, increase market share and lower operating costs. Guidewire InsuranceSuite provides the core systems used by insurers as operational systems of record. Additional products provide support for data management, business intelligence, anytime/anywhere access and guidance and monitoring. More than 180 Property/Casualty insurers around the world have selected Guidewire."

Last December GWRE reported its fiscal Q1 results that beat Wall Street estimates on both the top and bottom line. Management raised their Q2 guidance. On March 2nd GWRE reported earnings and revenues that beat analysts' estimates again. GWRE management then raised their fiscal year 2015 estimates. This earnings beat was not enough to lift the stock higher. Shares drifted lower for three months.

Shares of GWRE came alive again following its Q3 report on June 2nd. Earnings actually missed estimates by a penny with a profit of $0.04 per share. Revenues were only up +4% to $85.4 million, although that did beat expectations. The company provided lackluster Q4 guidance but guided for +20% revenue growth in fiscal 2016. The stock soared.

The rally off its June lows has pushed GWRE through multiple layers of resistance. Now the stock is setting new all-time closing highs. The point & figure chart is bullish and forecasting a long-term target of $80.00.

On a very short-term basis the $58.00 level appears to be resistance. We are suggesting a trigger to launch bullish positions at $58.25.

- Suggested Positions -

Long GWRE stock @ $58.25

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

Long OCT $60 CALL (GWRE151016C60) $2.80

08/01/15 new stop @ 57.75
07/25/15 new stop @ 56.90
07/23/15 new stop @ 56.40
07/23/15 triggered @ $58.25
Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike


The Kroger Co. - KR - close: 39.24 change: +0.24

Stop Loss: 36.95
Target(s): To Be Determined
Current Gain/Loss: +0.5%
Entry on July 30 at $39.05
Listed on July 28, 2015
Time Frame: Exit PRIOR to earnings on Sept. 11th
Average Daily Volume = 3.9 million
New Positions: see below

08/01/15: KR ended the week on an up note. Shares outperformed the broader market with a +0.6% gain. The stock looks poised to breakout past its July highs soon. I would consider new positions now or you could wait for a rally past $39.35.

Trade Description: July 28, 2015:
If you're looking for a company with consistent growth then look no further. KR appears to be the king of same-store sales and recently announced 46 quarters of consecutive same-store sales growth.

KR is in the services sector. According to the company, "Kroger, one of the world's largest retailers, employs nearly 400,000 associates who serve customers in 2,626 supermarkets and multi-department stores in 34 states and the District of Columbia under two dozen local banner names including Kroger, City Market, Dillons, Food 4 Less, Fred Meyer, Fry's, Harris Teeter, Jay C, King Soopers, QFC, Ralphs and Smith's. The company also operates 780 convenience stores, 327 fine jewelry stores, 1,342 supermarket fuel centers and 37 food processing plants in the U.S."

BusinessInsider ran an interesting article on KR that suggested the grocery chain is shaping up to be growing competition for the fast-food industry. A recent poll showed that 1 out of 4 consumers would choose Kroger instead of McDonald's. KR has become more attractive because they have been expanding their prepared-food selection.

Another interesting tidbit came from CNBC Mad Money's Jim Cramer who said KR has twice the growth of rival Whole Foods Market (WFM). KR's most recent quarterly results showed same-store sales growth of +5.7%, which easily outpaces its rivals.

Speaking of Whole Foods, KR is quickly catching up. WFM built its brand on organic and natural foods, which also happen to have better margins than traditional grocery items. Rivals took notice and KR jumped into organics with both feet. According to JPMorgan, KR is on track to surpass WFM as the biggest seller of organic foods within the next two years. (FYI: Costco actually sells more organic food than anyone else in the U.S. but they are not a traditional grocery story).

KR's most recent earnings report was June 18th. It was their 2016 Q1 report with earnings of $1.25 per share. That beat estimates of $1.22. Revenues were $33.05 billion, which actually missed estimates. The stock rallied anyway. KR management reaffirmed their fiscal year 2016 earnings forecast for $3.80-3.90 per share (essentially +10% growth).

Traders should like this stock since KR is very shareholder friendly. According to a company press release they have returned more than $1.1 billion to shareholders through share buybacks and dividends in the last four quarters. Management recently announced a new $500 million stock buy back program to replace their previous repurchase program, which had been exhausted. They also raised their dividend. On a post-split basis will pay 10.5 cents on per share on September 1st, 2015. KR should begin trading ex-dividend August 12th Speaking of splits, the stock just split 2-for-1 on July 13th. It was their fifth stock split since 1979.

Last week the U.S. stock market was plunging. KR managed to evade most of the damage and essentially traded down from $39.30 to $38.30. Shares did see a spike down on Monday this week but traders bought the dip . We think KR is poised to breakout to new all-time highs soon. Tonight we're suggesting a trigger to open bullish positions at $39.05. More conservative investors might want to actually wait for a new high and use a trigger at $39.40 instead.

- Suggested Positions -

Long KR stock @ $39.05

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

Long SEP $40 CALL (KR150918C40) entry $0.74

07/30/15 triggered @ $39.05
Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike


21Vianet Group, Inc. - VNET - close: 20.26 change: -0.25

Stop Loss: 19.20
Target(s): To Be Determined
Current Gain/Loss: -2.4%
Entry on July 23 at $20.75
Listed on July 22, 2015
Time Frame: Exit PRIOR to earnings on August 25th
Average Daily Volume = 996 thousand
New Positions: see below

08/01/15: After a three-day bounce from Monday's sell-off shares of VNET took Friday off. The stock retreated -1.2%. I am still suggesting that investors wait for a rally past $21.00 before considering new bullish positions. We are going to try and reduce our risk by raising the stop loss up to $19.20.

Trade Description: July 22, 2015:
Buckle your seatbelt. We are adding a fast-moving Chinese Internet stock to the play list tonight. This trade is not for the faint of heart. The Chinese market has been very volatile in recent weeks. This has been exacerbated by merger and acquisition news.

VNET is in the technology sector. According to the company, "21Vianet Group, Inc. is a leading carrier-neutral internet data center services provider in China. 21Vianet provides hosting and related services, managed network services, cloud services, content delivery network services, last-mile wired broadband services and business VPN services, improving the reliability, security and speed of its customers' internet infrastructure. Customers may locate their servers and networking equipment in 21Vianet's data centers and connect to China's internet backbone through 21Vianet's extensive fiber optic network. In addition, 21Vianet's proprietary smart routing technology enables customers' data to be delivered across the internet in a faster and more reliable manner. 21Vianet operates in more than 30 cities throughout China, servicing a diversified and loyal base of more than 2,000 customers that span numerous industries ranging from internet companies to government entities and blue-chip enterprises to small- to mid-sized enterprises."

The Wall Street Journal recently noted in June that seven U.S.-listed Chinese companies had been approached with offers to go private. That's a big spike in buyout offers. From January through May this year there had only been five such offers. One of the companies recently approached is VNET.

On June 10th VNET was approached with a preliminary non-binding proposal by Kingsoft Corp. and Tsinghua Unigroup International to go private for $23.00 per American depositary share ("ADSs"). That's the stock we can trade on the NASDAQ. Naturally the stock surged on this announcement. On June 16th VNET announced they had formed a special committee to review this proposal.

Unfortunately for shares of VNET and most Chinese stocks the Shanghai market in China had peaked in mid June and began to crash. The next three weeks saw a -30% plunge in the Shanghai market. The sell-off really accelerated in the first week of July. We can see the impact this market plunge was having on VNET with the big declines in early July.

Shares of VNET produced a huge bounce on July 9th when they announced the company had hired financial advisors and legal counsel to help them review the proposal to go private. In their press release they warned investors that "no decision has been made" nor is there any assurance that any "definitive offer will be made". This warning didn't stop the rally in VNET's stock which has continued to rise.

The Chinese government has thrown billions of dollars at their market to stop the crash and it seems to be working. The fever seems to have broken and this should provide a less dangerous environment for shares of VNET to trade in. We suspect VNET will continue to rally as the M&A talk heats up. However, this is an aggressive, higher-risk trade. There is no guarantee of a deal. Shares of VNET are clearly very volatile. I suggest small positions to limit risk.

NOTE: VNET does have options but the spreads are too wide to trade them.

*small positions to limit risk* - Suggested Positions -

Long VNET stock @ $20.75

08/01/15 new stop @ 19.20
07/27/15 The Chinese Shanghai index plunged -8.48%
07/23/15 triggered @ $20.75


BEARISH Play Updates

Autodesk, Inc. - ADSK - close: 50.58 change: -0.02

Stop Loss: 52.55
Target(s): To Be Determined
Current Gain/Loss: -1.7%
Entry on July 30 at $49.75
Listed on July 29, 2015
Time Frame: Exit PRIOR to earnings on August 27th (unconfirmed)
Average Daily Volume = 2.3 million
New Positions: see below

08/01/15: ADSK tried to bounce again on Friday but shares didn't get very far. The rebound stalled near short-term resistance around the $51.00 area. I would wait for a new decline under $50.00 before considering new positions.

Trade Description: July 29, 2015:
ADSK is in the midst of a business transition and analysts believe the process is going to be painful for the company's financials.

ADSK is in the technology sector. According to the company, "Autodesk helps people imagine, design and create a better world. Everyone-from design professionals, engineers and architects to digital artists, students and hobbyists-uses Autodesk software to unlock their creativity and solve important challenges." Unfortunately the corporate description doesn't tell you much. ADSK sells software. The biggest part of their income is selling 3D CAD (computer aided design) software.

The trend in the company's earnings guidance is not that encouraging. ADSK reported their Q3 2015 results on November 20th. The beat estimates on both the top and bottom line but they guided lower for Q4. The company did it again on February 26th with their Q4 results, which beat estimates on both the top and bottom line but management lowered guidance for Q1.

ADSK reported their 2016 Q1 results on May 19th. Earnings were $0.30 per share as revenues rose +9% to $646.5 million. These results beat estimates. Unfortunately, you guessed it, management lowered guidance. This time ADSK significantly lowered their Q2 earnings and sales guidance. They also lowered their full year 2016 earnings and revenue guidance.

There seems to be a growing number of analysts on Wall Street that feel this trend of earnings trouble will continue. It sounds like ADSK is trying to copy Adobe Systems' move from up-front license fees (or perpetual licenses) where the consumer pays one lump sum up front to a monthly subscription model.

One of the challenges for ADSK is that the company depends on resellers for a lot of its sales. This relationship could suffer if ADSK decides to do away with the middleman when they switch to the subscription model. This transition is expected to take a couple of years. Shares have recently received a couple of downgrades as analysts worry the next couple of years will see slowing growth and falling margins.

This concern and the fact that ADSK keeps lowering their earnings and revenue guidance has killed the long-term up trend in the stock. Shares have recently fallen into a bear market (-20% from its highs). Now ADSK is hovering just above major support at $50.00. A breakdown here would be bad news. The intraday low on June 30th was $49.84. I'm suggesting a trigger to launch bearish positions at $49.75. Please note this is a shorter-term trade. ADSK will likely report earnings at the end of August or early September. We will plan on exiting prior to the announcement but thus far the earnings date has not been confirmed.

- Suggested Positions -

Short ADSK stock @ $49.75

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

Long SEP $45 PUT (ADSK150918P45) entry $0.80

07/30/15 triggered @ $49.75
Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike


Best Buy Co., Inc. - BBY - close: 32.29 change: +0.17

Stop Loss: 33.05
Target(s): To Be Determined
Current Gain/Loss: -0.6%
Entry on July 27 at $32.10
Listed on July 25, 2015
Time Frame: Exit PRIOR to earnings in late August
Average Daily Volume = 4.3 million
New Positions: see below

08/01/15: BBY rallied +0.5% on Friday but still posted a loss for the week thanks to Monday's big drop. Shares spent most of the week in a very narrow range. The bounce attempt stalled at its 10-dma on Friday but that doesn't guarantee the bounce is over.

We are adjusting the stop loss down to $33.05.

No new positions at this time.

Trade Description: July 25, 2015:
Tonight's candidate is almost 50 years old. They were founded under the name "Sound of Music" but changed their name to "Best Buy" in 1983. Today they have over 1,400 locations, employ more than 125,000 people, and generate more than $40 billion in sales annually.

BBY is part of the services sector. According to the company, "Best Buy is a leading provider of technology products, services and solutions. The company offers expert service at an unbeatable price more than 1.5 billion times a year to the consumers, small business owners and educators who visit our stores, engage with Geek Squad Agents or use BestBuy.com or the Best Buy app. The company has operations in the U.S. where more than 70 percent of the population lives within 15 minutes of a Best Buy store, as well as in Canada and Mexico, where Best Buy has a physical and online presence."

The company launched a massive turnaround campaign almost three years ago as they struggled with extremely tough competition from companies like Amazon.com. The biggest problem for BBY is something called "showrooming". This is when customers come into a Best Buy store, they look around at products, ask questions from Best Buy staff, and they compare quality and price. Then they go home and buy what they want online for a cheaper price and have it delivered to their door.

BBY is acutely aware of the showrooming phenomenon. It's hard to compete with someone like Amazon who doesn't have the big overhead for large retail locations. BBY has been trying to compete on service plus they have redesigned their own online e-commerce offerings and they are seeing growth in their own online sales. BBY management has also been slashing expenses.

The turnaround has worked to a point. BBY's focus on cutting expenses is obviously good for profits. Yet sales remain slow. Looking at BBY's last couple of earnings reports their bottom line results have beaten Wall Street estimates (thanks to slashing costs) but revenues have been disappointing.

BBY reported their Q4 results on March 3rd, 2015 and revenues were only up +1.3% to $14.2 billion, which missed expectations. Comparable store sales were only up +1.3%.

BBY's Q1 result was worse. This report was announced on May 21st. They beat the bottom line EPS estimate again but revenues fell -0.9% to $8.56 billion. On the plus side their comparable store sales improved from -1.3% a year ago to +0.6% but this too was disappointing.

Shares of BBY have been in a down trend since they peaked near $42.00 in March this year. The stock has been in a bearish pattern of lower highs and lower lows. It looked like BBY might break this trend and then the stock was downgraded on July 17th.

Bank of America analyst Denise Chai reduced her rating on BBY to the equivalent of a "sell". She believes the company will see a tough second half to 2015. There is no must have product or upgrade cycle to drive customers into the store later this year. Chai expects BBY's sales to turn negative (-1%) in the second half.

BBY's stock collapsed on this downgrade and has been unable to recover. Today shares are poised to breakdown to new 2015 lows. Tonight we are suggesting a trigger to launch bearish positions at $32.15.

FYI: I am listing the October put options. BBY does have September options but the option strikes are at odd prices thanks to a $0.51 special dividend BBY paid in March and the option markets haven't caught up with new (normal) strikes yet.

I also want to point out that the point & figure chart is currently bullish for BBY. If shares traded below $32.00 it should generate a new sell signal.

- Suggested Positions -

Short BBY stock @ $32.15

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

Long OCT $30 PUT (BBY151016P30) entry $1.28

08/01/15 new stop @ 33.05
07/27/15 triggered on gap down at $32.10, trigger was $32.15
Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike


The Michaels Companies, Inc. - MIK - close: 25.34 change: +0.35

Stop Loss: 26.05
Target(s): To Be Determined
Current Gain/Loss: -2.4%
Entry on July 28 at $24.75
Listed on July 27, 2015
Time Frame: Exit PRIOR to earnings in late August
Average Daily Volume = 729 thousand
New Positions: see below

08/01/15: The rebound in MIK picked up steam on Friday. Shares rallied +1.4%, outperforming the major indices. The stock should encounter resistance at its 10-dma near $25.50 and at its prior lows in the $25.80 area.

No new positions at the moment. We are adjusting the stop loss to $26.05.

Trade Description: July 27, 2015:
It looks like investor sentiment on MIK has turned bearish. The stock produced big gains from its post-IPO lows near $15 in August 2014. The rally peaked in March this year near $30.00 after the company reported earnings.

If you're not familiar with MIK they are in the services sector. They're considered part of the specialty retail industry. According to the company, "The Michaels Companies, Inc. is North America's largest specialty retailer of arts and crafts (based on store count). As of May 2, 2015, the Company owns and operates 1,177 Michaels stores in 49 states and Canada and 118 Aaron Brothers stores, and produces 12 exclusive private brands including Recollections(R), Studio Decor(R), Bead Landing(R), Creatology(R), Ashland(R), Celebrate It(R), ArtMinds(R), Artist's Loft(R), Craft Smart(R), Loops & Threads(R), Imagin8(R) and Make Market(tm)."

The last couple of earnings reports have not been that exciting. MIK reported its 2015 Q4 results on March 19th. They beat estimates by a penny while revenues rose +3.4% to $1.6 billion, which was in-line with estimates. Unfortunately, MIK management lowered their guidance for Q1 and fiscal year 2016.

Even after lowering guidance MIK still missed estimates when they reported their Q1 results on June 4th. Earnings of $0.32 a share missed by a penny. Revenues were up +2.9% to $1.08 billion, which was in-line with estimates. Comparable store sales were up only +0.3%.

Looking at MIK's daily chart you can see that traders have been selling the rallies. Now MIK has a bearish pattern of lower highs. It recently broke down under support in the $26.00 area. Now MIK is testing round-number psychological support at $25.00 and technical support at its simple 200-dma. A breakdown here would definitely look bearish. Tonight we are suggesting a trigger to launch bearish positions at $24.75.

- Suggested Positions -

Short MIK stock @ $24.75

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

Long SEP $25 PUT (MIK150918P25) entry $1.45

08/01/15 new stop @ 26.05
07/28/15 triggered @ $24.75
Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike



Cabot Corp. - CBT - close: 35.18 change: -0.21

Stop Loss: 35.65
Target(s): To Be Determined
Current Gain/Loss: +2.1%
Entry on July 20 at $36.40
Listed on July 18, 2015
Time Frame: Exit PRIOR to earnings on August 4th
Average Daily Volume = 457 thousand
New Positions: see below

08/01/15: CBT ended Friday's session with a decline but the intraday spike higher hit our stop loss at $35.65.

- Suggested Positions -

Short CBT stock @ $36.40 exit $35.65 (+2.1%)

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

AUG $35 PUT (CBT150821P35) entry $0.75 exit $0.60 (-20.0%)

07/31/15 stopped out
07/27/15 new stop @ 35.65
07/25/15 new stop @ 36.15
07/22/15 new stop @ 36.85
07/20/15 triggered @ $36.40
Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike


Tessera Technologies - TSRA - close: 34.66 change: -0.51

Stop Loss: 35.55
Target(s): To Be Determined
Current Gain/Loss: +2.1%
Entry on July 16 at $35.40
Listed on July 09, 2015
Time Frame: Exit PRIOR to earnings on August 3rd
Average Daily Volume = 518 thousand
New Positions: see below

08/01/15: There was no follow through on Thursday's big bounce in TSRA. Shares reversed -1.4% on Friday.

Our plan was to exit this trade on Friday at the closing bell to avoid holding over its earnings report on Monday.

*small positions to limit risk* - Suggested Positions -

Short TSRA stock @ $35.40 exit $34.66 (+2.1%)

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

Aug $35 PUT (TSRA150821P35) entry $1.20 exit $1.25 (+4.2%)

07/31/15 planned exit, at the close
07/29/15 Prepare to exit on Friday, July 31st, at the close
07/25/15 new stop @ 35.55
07/20/15 new stop @ $36.65
07/16/15 triggered @ $35.40
Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike