One day does not make a trend and the whipsaw in the markets intraday suggested there was still some indecision among traders. The intraday spike allowed us to close three shorts for a nice gain.
The Russell was the weak link once again while the Dow declined over -200 points from its highs intraday. The Nasdaq dipped back into negative territory intraday and barely closed in the green. However, many of the prior momentum stocks were starting to show up in the winners list so it is possible today was just a period of recovery from Wednesday's traumatic decline.
I hesitate to load up the portfolio until we see which way the market is headed. If today's gains and yesterday's rebound was just a bear market rally then we should know tomorrow.
We are changing the format slightly this week. The entry date, earnings date, current price, change for the day and stop loss are all in the portfolio graphic. They will no longer be listed in the individual play descriptions. Everything you need is now available in a single location.
Current Position Changes
Stop Loss Updates
Check the graphic above for any new stop losses in bright yellow. We need to always be prepared for an unexpected decline.
Our long running shorts finally ended.
CF was stopped out at $30.95 for a gain of $7.70 in the stock and $4.00 in the option.
HOG was stopped at $41.25 for a gain of $4.50 in the stock and $2.26 in the option.
ETN was stopped at $48.35 for a minor gain. This play was only added last week.
OIH - Oil Service ETF
The OIH play was entered at the open as oil prices rallied from the front month contract change. We are ready for that temporary spike to fade.
BULLISH Play Updates
KRE - SPDR S&P Regional Banking ETF
KRE shares resumed their slide in the afternoon with a 50-cent loss. However, support remains $35 so we have a little room for some volatility.
The initial stop loss on the stock position is $34.25. However, I took the stop loss off the option position. Our entry was 63 cents and any stop would give us nothing back. That means we can hold the option side until expiration without any additional risk.
Original Trade Description: January 13, 2016:
Many people thought banks would be winners after the Federal Reserve hiked rates in December. While the Fed did raise rates (barely) the financial stocks didn't see much progress.
The Fed is still talking about raising rates multiple times in 2016. There is a growing camp of market watchers who believe the Fed will be forced to back track. Deteriorating economic conditions both in the U.S. and abroad may force the Fed to pause their rate hike plans or even cut rates again.
Even if the Fed does try to raise rates the yield curve, where many banks make their money, could struggle. If the stock market remains sour throughout 2016 it will drive money into the perceived safety of U.S. bonds and that will keep yields on the 10-year low. So now that I have painted a rather unappetizing picture for the banks I'm adding a new bullish play.
All of the issues above are long-term troubles that could plague financials throughout 2016. On a short-term basis the banks are oversold and due for a bounce. Tonight's trade is a short-term technical one. The KRE is nearing major support and should rebound.
If you are not familiar with the KRE it is an ETF that tracks the S&P regional banks select industry index. The top ten holdings in this ETF are: PNC, BBT, KEY, STI, HBAN, CIWV, RF, FITB, MTB, ZION,
You can see on the daily chart below the KRE is plunging. On the weekly chart I have highlighted long-term support at the $35.00 level. Odds are good that if the KRE is going to bounce that is the spot to watch. Tonight I am listing a buy-the-dip trigger at $35.50. We will start this trade, if triggered, with a stop loss at $34.40. Remember, this is a short-term trade. We want to get in, catch a bounce, and get out.
Long KRE shares @ $35.50, initial stop loss $34.25
Long March $38 call @ 63 cents, no stop loss.
UFPI - Universal Forest Products
UFPI remained positive for the day and that is a good sign in a volatile market.
Original Trade Description: January 16th
UFPI recently experienced a -20% pullback from its December 2015 highs but shares are still trading at levels not seen for almost ten years. More importantly it appears that the correction is over.
UFPI is in the industrial goods sector. According to the company,
"Universal Forest Products, Inc. is a holding company with subsidiaries throughout North America and in Australia that supply wood, wood composite and other products to three robust markets: retail, construction and industrial. The Company is headquartered in Grand Rapids, Mich., and is celebrating its 60th year in business."
The big surge in the stock in mid October was a reaction to the company's Q3 earnings report. It was a record-breaking quarter for UFPI in spite of a -17% drop in the lumber market. Here is an excerpt from the company's earnings press release:
"UFPI announced record-breaking 2015 third-quarter results. The Company posted the best third-quarter earnings in its history with net earnings attributable to controlling interests of $25.6 million, an increase of 32.9 percent over the same period of 2014. It also posted the highest year-to-date net earnings in its history, at $61.7 million. Earnings per diluted share were $1.26 in the third quarter of 2015, up from $0.96 in the third quarter of 2014. Net sales of $762.3 million for the third quarter were up 6.8 percent over the same period of 2014."
The stock has been trading very technically with investors keying in on support and resistance levels. Shares of UFPI did see a rough December after a downgrade on December 8th. However, after a -20% pullback investors started buying UFPI last week. That is noteworthy since the broader market was crashing lower last week. You'll notice on the daily chart that UFPI found support at its simple 200-dma and delivered a pretty good gain for the week.
We think this bounce continues and want to hop on board. There is very short-term resistance at $67.00. Tonight we are listing a trigger to launch bullish positions at $67.15. Investors may want to limit their position size to reduce risk since UFPI has proven itself to be somewhat volatile.
FYI: UFPI does have options but the spreads are too wide to trade them.
Long UFPI stock @ 67.37, stop loss 61.90
BEARISH Play Updates
CF - CF Industries
CF finally rebounded to our lowered stop price to take us out of the play with a nice gain. With earnings coming up in two weeks it was time to take our profits off the table.
Original Trade Description: January 5, 2016:
CF underperformed the broader market and its sector in 2015. The S&P 500 lost -0.7% for the year while the IYM basic materials ETF lost -14.4%. Shares of CF returned a -25% loss last year. Momentum remains to the downside.
According to the company, "CF Industries Holdings, Inc., headquartered in Deerfield, Illinois, through its subsidiaries is a global leader in the manufacturing and distribution of nitrogen products, serving both agricultural and industrial customers. CF Industries operates world-class nitrogen manufacturing complexes in Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States, and distributes plant nutrients through a system of terminals, warehouses, and associated transportation equipment located primarily in the Midwestern United States. The company also owns a 50 percent interest in an ammonia facility in The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago."
It is important to note that CF is currently in the process of merging with OCI. Here's a brief description, "OCI N.V. is a global producer and distributor of natural gas-based fertilizers and industrial chemicals based in the Netherlands. The company produces nitrogen fertilizers, methanol and other natural gas based products, serving agricultural and industrial customers from the Americas to Asia. The company ranks among the world's largest nitrogen fertilizer producers, and can produce more than 8.4 million metric tons of nitrogen fertilizers and industrial chemicals at production facilities in the Netherlands, the United States, Egypt and Algeria."
Once the merger is completed they plan to move the new company's headquarters to the Netherlands to reduce their tax burden. Last year some U.S. government officials voiced their displeasure at these tax-inversion mergers to avoid paying U.S. taxes. There is a chance (albeit a small one) that the U.S. tries to stop this merger before it's completed.
Meanwhile the company continues to struggle with weak prices for nitrogen fertilizer. Looking at CF's last four quarterly earnings reports they have missed Wall Street's earnings estimates three of the last four quarters (and two quarters in a row). Revenues were down -8.3%, -15.8%, -10.9%, and -0.7% in the most recently reported quarter.
CF faces tough competition from fertilizer producers in China and in Russia and the Ukraine. It is worth noting that Bank of America just recently came out with a bullish call on CF. The BoA analyst suggested that fertilizer prices are too low and will bounce and CF's stock price should bounce with it. CF claims demand remains strong but that doesn't help if prices keep falling (obviously demand isn't strong enough or prices would rise).
Technically the path of least resistance is down and CF just broke support near $40.00. These are new two-year lows. Tonight we are suggesting a trigger to launch bearish positions at $38.85. Plan on exiting prior to CF's earnings report in mid February.
Position 1/6/16, closed 1/21/16:
Closed: Short CF shares @ $38.65, exit @ $30.95, +$7.70 gain
Closed: Long Feb $35 put @ $1.20, exit $5.20, +$4.00 gain.
01/20/16 new stop @ 30.95
01/16/16 new stop @ 33.25
01/13/16 new stop @ 33.60
01/11/16 new stop @ 34.15
01/09/16 new stop @ 35.75
01/07/16 new stop @ 37.05
01/06/16 new stop loss @ 38.75
01/06/16 triggered on gap down at $38.65, suggested entry was $38.85
ETN - Eaton Corp
I lowered the stop loss to $48.35 to prevent us from seeing this position turn into a loss. We were stopped out today for a gain on the stock but we lost a nickel on the option position.
Eaton was trying to put in a bottom at $47 and I lowered the stop to avoid a rebound that turned the play into a loser.
Original Trade Description: January 9, 2016:
Industrial stocks did not have a good 2015. The XLI industrials ETF and the Dow Jones Industrial Average both fell more than -6% last year. ETN significantly underperformed its peers with a -23% decline for 2015. Part of the problem is weak demand overseas compounded by a stronger dollar. Plus, the manufacturing sector in the U.S. is in recession.
ETN is in the industrial goods sector. According to the company,
"Eaton is a power management company with 2014 sales of $22.6 billion. Eaton provides energy-efficient solutions that help our customers effectively manage electrical, hydraulic and mechanical power more efficiently, safely and sustainably. Eaton has approximately 99,000 employees and sells products to customers in more than 175 countries."
Earnings and revenue growth for ETN was challenging last year. The company lowered guidance four times in 2015. Their most recent earnings report (Q3 results) from October 30th showed revenues were down -9.2% from a year ago. Earnings were down -25%.
ETN management is trying to be proactive. They plan to expand their restructuring efforts into 2016. Hopefully they will be able to cut costs by another $190 million if all goes as planned. The one positive side of ETN's slide has been the surge in its dividend. The stock just closed at three-year lows, which as boosted the dividend yield to 4.2%. Although I don't know why you'd buy ETN for the dividend if you are in jeopardy of losing more than 4% in the stock. The point & figure chart is forecasting a $42.00 target.
The ISM index measures manufacturing activity in the United States. December's ISM reading was negative for the second month in a row and marked the sixth monthly decline in a row. Numbers under 50.0 on the ISM index represent contraction. November's was 48.6. December's slipped to 48.2. Odds are it will be under the 50.0 again this month.
With the industrial sector in recession, revenues and earnings falling, the bearish momentum in ETN should continue. Last week's market decline has pushed ETN below round-number, psychological support at the $50.00 level. Now shares are poised to accelerate lower. Tonight we are suggesting a trigger to launch bearish positions at $48.85. My only caution is our time frame. ETN has earnings coming up in early February (no confirmed date yet). This could be a short-term three-four week play.
Position 1/11/16, closed 1/21/16:
Closed: Short ETN shares @ $48.85, exit $48.35, +.50 gain
Closed: Long Feb $47.50 put @ $1.55, exit $1.50, -.05 loss.
01/20/16 new stop @ $48.35
01/13/16 new stop @ $50.75
01/11/16 triggered @ $48.85
HOG - Harley Davidson
HOG is definitely trying to form a bottom at $40 and we exited the play today on the five-day high intraday when our stop at $41.25 was hit. This was a nice gain on the stock and the option.
Original Trade Description: December 9, 2015:
HOG was a big winner during the market's rally off the 2009 bear-market low. Shares surged from about $8 in early 2009 to over $74.00 in 2014. Unfortunately that bullish momentum is long gone.
HOG is in the consumer goods sector. According to the company,
"Harley-Davidson, Inc. is the parent company of Harley-Davidson Motor Company and Harley-Davidson Financial Services. Since 1903, Harley-Davidson Motor Company has fulfilled dreams of personal freedom with custom, cruiser and touring motorcycles, riding experiences and events and a complete line of Harley-Davidson motorcycle parts, accessories, general merchandise, riding gear and apparel. Harley-Davidson Financial Services provides wholesale and retail financing, insurance, extended service and other protection plans and credit card programs to Harley-Davidson dealers and riders in the U.S., Canada and other select international markets."
The company has seen sales slow down. Their most recent earnings report was October 20th. Q3 earnings growth was flat (+0%) from a year ago at $0.69 a share. That missed estimates by 8 cents. Revenues only rose +0.9% to $1.14 billion, which also missed estimates. The company said their dealer new motorcycle sales were down -1.4% worldwide from a year ago. Their U.S. sales fell -2.5%. Shipments came in below guidance.
Matt Levatich, President and Chief Executive Officer, said,
"We expect a heightened competitive environment to continue for the foreseeable future." The company lowered their shipment guidance for 2015. They also lowered their margin guidance.
The stock reacted with a big drop on the earnings miss and lowered guidance. Multiple analyst firms downgraded the stock in response to the news.
Technically HOG is in a bear market. Shares have a bearish trend of lower highs and lower lows. HOG spent most of November struggling with resistance at $50.00. The recent weakness has pushed shares to new two-year lows. The next drop could push HOG toward $40 or lower. Tonight we are suggesting a trigger to launch bearish positions at $45.75.
My biggest concern is some analyst deciding that HOG looks "cheap" on valuation. At this point HOG could be a value trap. Cheap stocks can always get cheaper.
Position 12/11/15, closed 1/21/16:
Closed: Short HOG shares @ $45.75, exit $41.25, +$4.50 gain
Closed: Long Feb $45 put @ $2.59, exit $4.85, +2.26 gain
01/16/16 new stop @ 41.25
01/11/16 new stop @ 44.15
01/06/16 new stop @ 44.55
12/16/15 new stop @ 47.35
12/11/15 triggered @ $45.75
OIH - Oil service Index
The OIH rebounded slightly on the temporary spike in crude prices. Once the newness wears off the new March contract the down trend will begin again.
Original Trade Description: January 20th
The OIH ETF represents 25 oil service stocks including Schlumberger, Halliburton and Baker Hughes. Once you get past those three largest holdings the rest of the pack has little balance sheet strength and we could easily see multiple bankruptcies or credit defaults. The bottom of the list contains Tidewater (TDW), Carbo Ceramics (CRR), Seadrill (SDRL), etc. The risk of default is high for the bottom half of the list. View Full List
The "perceived" bounce in oil prices by shifting to a new contract at $28.81 instead of the $26.55 close may cause some investors to buy energy stocks in a knee jerk reaction. Do not be fooled. The bottom in oil prices is still ahead.
The API Inventory report tonight after the close showed a larger than expected gain of 4.6 million barrels of oil and 4.7 million barrels of gasoline. The more accurate EIA inventory report comes out at 10:30 on Thursday.
The inventory build season runs from January 6th to the end of April. Last year inventories rose a whopping +106 million barrels to record levels during that period. There is not likely to be another rise like that because there is very little available storage capacity in the USA. Canadian oil is now selling for $15 below WTI because all the Midwest storage locations are virtually full. Bakken oil is selling for $8-$10 below WTI prices for the same reason plus transportation is expensive to other locations.
I believe we will see WTI at $25 or below over the next two months and possibly even $20 because of the price pressure from the Iranian oil sales. They have about 50 million barrels stored on tankers and that oil is now available for sale. Prices are going lower.
This will probably drag the equity market lower as well but eventually there will be a disconnect between equities and oil prices at some level. The constant headlines about lower oil prices will eventually become old news. Of course, key levels like $25, $22, $20 could cause some additional market weakness.
Energy stocks will continue to react to the low oil prices because every dollar of decline is very painful and impacts their ability to service debt and keep the doors open. Analysts claim as many as 50% of the U.S. producers could default or worse if prices remain low for very long.
I am recommending we short the OIH and expect to hold the position until April. The plan will be to close it about the time inventories top out in early April. We could see a minor uptick at the open on Thursday because of the new front month contract. When inventories are announced at 10:30 we should see a decline in WTI if they are high as expected.
Short OIH shares @ $21.26, stop loss $24.25
Long July $20 put @ $1.92, no initial stop loss.
VXX - VIX Futures ETF
No harm, no foul today. The intraday volatility swing of more than -200 points on the Dow held the VIX/VXX up but it is only temporary. Be patient. The volatility will eventually die.
Original Trade Description: August 24, 2015
The U.S. stock market's sell-off has been extreme. Most of the major indices have collapsed into correction territory (-10% from their highs). The volatile moves in the market have investors panicking for protection. This drives up demand for put options and this fuels a rally in the CBOE volatility index (the VIX).
You can see on a long-term weekly chart that the VIX spiked up to levels not seen since the 2008 bear market during the financial crisis. Moves like this do not happen very often. The VIX rarely stays this high very long.
How do we trade the VIX? One way is the VXX, which is an ETN but trades like a stock.
Here is an explanation from the product website:
The iPath® S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures® ETNs (the "ETNs") are designed to provide exposure to the S&P 500 VIX Short-Term FuturesTM Index Total Return (the "Index"). The ETNs are riskier than ordinary unsecured debt securities and have no principal protection. The ETNs are unsecured debt obligations of the issuer, Barclays Bank PLC, and are not, either directly or indirectly, an obligation of or guaranteed by any third party. Any payment to be made on the ETNs, including any payment at maturity or upon redemption, depends on the ability of Barclays Bank PLC to satisfy its obligations as they come due. An investment in the ETNs involves significant risks, including possible loss of principal and may not be suitable for all investors.
The Index is designed to provide access to equity market volatility through CBOE Volatility Index® (the "VIX Index") futures. The Index offers exposure to a daily rolling long position in the first and second month VIX futures contracts and reflects market participants' views of the future direction of the VIX index at the time of expiration of the VIX futures contracts comprising the Index. Owning the ETNs is not the same as owning interests in the index components included in the Index or a security directly linked to the performance of the Index.
I encourage readers to check out a long-term chart of the VXX. This thing has been a consistent loser. One market pundit said the VXX is where money goes to die - if you're buying it. We do not want to buy it. We want to short it. Shorting rallies seems to be a winning strategy on the VXX with a constant trend of lower highs.
Today the VXX spiked up to four-month highs near $28.00 before fading. We are suggesting bearish positions at the opening bell tomorrow. The market volatility is probably not done yet so we are not listing a stop loss yet.
Short VXX @ $21.82, no stop loss.
Second Position 9/2/15:
Short VXX @ $29.01, no stop loss.
11/07/15 adjust exit target to $16.65
11/02/15 adjust exit target to $16.50
10/19/15 add an exit target at $16.25
10/15/15 planned exit for the October puts
10/14/15 if you own the options, prepare to exit tomorrow at the close
09/02/15 2nd position begins. VXX gapped down at $29.01
09/01/15 Double down on this trade with the VXX's spike to 6-month highs
08/25/15 trade begins. VXX gaps down at $21.82
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