Yesterday I warned the market could be volatile on Wednesday and the Dow changed direction 9 times today with a 100-point range. Most individual stocks traded in narrow ranges with investors unsure of what to expect from the ECB decision on Thursday morning.
We should only place new trades when we have a general idea which direction the market is headed. After the three weeks of gains it is not unusual for the indexes to be volatile while investors take profits and launch new positions. Eventually a direction will appear and while the ECB decision could produce some short term volatility the market direction may not be apparent until next week unless we blast well over resistance on Thursday.
Current Position Changes
CMRX - Chimerix
The long position remains unopened until CMRX trades at $5.75.
Check the graphic above for any profit stops in green.
We need to always be prepared for a profit exit at resistance.
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.
BULLISH Play Updates
ACAT - Arctic Cat - Company Profile
ACAT made an inside day with a higher low and lower high than Tuesday. With the stock ending with a minor gain that would suggest the sellers are fading. ACAT is still holding its gains from the last four weeks.
Target $21.45 for an exit.
Original Trade Description: February 24th
Arctic Cat makes snowmobiles, all terrain vehicles (ATVs) and recreational off-road vehicles (ROVs). They reported a bad quarter because of the exceptionally warm weather and lack of snow. Sales declined -14.3%. Of that 4.9% was due to the strong dollar. The brand is one of the most wildly recognized brands of off-road equipment.
Arctic Cat has been in a restructuring program for several quarters to revamp their dealer network, eliminate debt, reduce inventory and produce new cutting edge vehicles.
In Q4, they reduced long-term debt by $15.8 million. They suspended the quarterly dividend to save $6.5 million in cash for the restructuring. Inventory decreased -$25 million sequentially. They generated approximately $27 million in free cash flow.
The company expects to see the benefits of their restructuring in the next two quarters with sales expected to rise +40% in the current quarter. New models and new products coming out this summer are expected to boost sales as well. They are announcing a new "single ski" snow bike at the snow dealer show in March.
While the outlook is far from exciting the company shares have rebounded from the low of $9 on January 28th to $16.45 today. The stock momentum is strong and it reached primary resistance at $16.50 this week. If the stock breaks through this resistance it could trigger additional short covering with the next resistance at $22.25. I am recommending a long position on a resistance break and an exit before we reach that higher resistance at $22.
Earnings are May 12th.
Position 2/26/16 with an ACAT trade at $17.25
Long ACAT shares @$17.25, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.
Long June $20 call @ $1.70, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.
AMLP - Alerian MLP ETF - ETF Profile
AMLP traded positive but just barely after the comments from the bankruptcy judge on Tuesday. Gains in oil helped but we may need a few days for the smoke to clear from the comments.
Tuesday comments: AMLP declined -6.7% after a court verdict appeared to allow bankrupt Sabine Energy to renegotiate contracts with midstream transporters of natural gas. U.S. Bankruptcy judge Shelly Chapman in Manhattan said Sabine should be able to reject the current transmission contracts with HPIP Gonzales Holdings and Nordheim Eagle Ford Gathering LLC, an affiliate of Cheniere Energy. AMLP was not involved in the case.
Despite the judges comments she also said she did not want to decide an underlying legal dispute in a binding way. The problem is that companies contract with the owner of gathering systems for a field that can consist of tens of thousands of acres with production coming from a dozen different producers. Those producers contract for 10 years or more with the gathering system to ship their gas/oil through the gathering pipeline to a larger pipeline, rail car loading facility, refinery, etc.
For Sabine to reject the contract to ship its gas through the gathering system makes no sense. They have no other way to get it to market. Sabine admitted they were having to flare all their gas because HPIP was not accepting it for nonpayment of the agreed fees. Sabine said they were not paying because HPIP never completed construction of the pipelines. HPIP said Sabine never paid them the agreed construction fee.
The pipeline operators claim that once they contract with a group of producers to construct a system of pipelines to gather production that those contract rights and obligations pass from owner to owner if the leases are sold. Sabine wants to void its portion of the gathering agreement.
All the midstream MLPs were down on the judges comments because it has always been understood that once a pipeline is in place in a field that operator has the right to collect and transport the gas/oil from that field regardless of who owns it.
The judges comments are not law. She called the attorneys to her chamber after the court event and told them to "come to a commercial resolution of your issues" because she did not want to be put in a position of having to rule on the legality of the broader issue that could impact the entire pipeline sector in the USA.
While this does not have any immediate impact on AMLP and an adverse ruling may not impact them for years into the future, the stock was down because the sector recoiled in horror at the possibilities. I suspect calmer heads will prevail in the days to come.
Original Trade Description: March 2nd.
The MLP sector has been trashed along with the producers even though they have almost no risk. A pipeline MLP is a toll collector. They get paid a fee for every barrel of oil or cubic foot of gas that travel through their pipelines.
The vast majority of the pipelines in the country are full. They are so full that producers are having to resort to truck and rail shipments to get their oil to market. The pipelines are not in any material danger of a sudden drop in petroleum products flowing through their pipelines. Many contracts are take or pay. Producers commit to ship a certain amount of product and they pay for that commitment.
I am recommending the Alerian MLP ETF. This is an ETF that owns an entire basket of MLP securities and they all pay dividends. The AMLP is currently yielding 11.4%. They have raised their dividend every quarter since Q1-2012. They are not likely to break that string and if they did I suspect it would only be by a small amount. The Q1 dividend they announced on Feb 10th was 29.9 cents, payable on February 18th.
There are analysts that believe the MLP model is at risk. They believe the cost of capital will rise with the Fed rate hikes and the crash in the oil market. That means existing MLPs will have to pay more for new assets. That does not affect existing MLPs that already have their assets in place. They do not have to grow in the current energy environment. They can be content to sit on their assets and continue to pay dividends on their existing pipelines.
I believe the risk at the current price level is minimal. The MLP panic has run its course with several cutting their dividends and causing the sharp drops in the ETFs. Now that oil prices are firming and expected to firm even more beginning in April when inventories begin to decline, the MLP ETF buyers will return. Just a year ago AMLP was trading over $20 and could be there again by this time next year.
There is no scenario where oil prices remain low long term. This is a normal boom/bust cycle and they will recover and will trade significantly higher in the years ahead.
This is a LONG-TERM position. Oil prices should rebound starting this summer and then rise sharply in 2017 and you need to be content to collect the 11.4% while we wait for those prices to move higher.
You do not have to hold long term. My initial target would be $14 and that would be a 40% return and we could see that by July.
Long AMLP shares @ $10.40. No stop loss.
Long July $12 call, entry 55 cents. No stop loss.
CDW - CDW Corp - Company Profile
Still fighting the moving averages but the short term trend is still intact.
Previous: The interesting factoid is that the stock came to rest almost exactly on the 150-day average at $40.90 for the third consecutive day. There must be a high frequency trading program that is focused on CDW because the almost perfect respect for each of the moving averages is too precise for a day trader to manipulate the stock. Volume is 800,000 a day so it has to be a computer program. I looked at the time & sales and the vast majority of the trades, probably 85% or more are even 100 share lots. There are dozens of sequential trades with only a penny difference and sometimes less than a penny. Then dozens of trades a penny higher. That repeated all day long. That suggests a break over the 150-day average will run to the 100-day at $41.32.
Original Trade Description: February 29th.
CDW distributes IT solutions in the U.S. and Canada through its website CDW.com. They offer hardware and software products to integrated IT solutions including mobile, security, data center optimization, cloud computing, virtualization and collaboration. They offer a full line of IT products of every size, shape, brand, model and configuration. They also offer customization, installation, warranty and repair services as well as infrastructure as a service. This is the IT distributor for the home office, company datacenter or the datacenter as a service for those companies that do not have an extensive IT staff.
CDW has more than 250,000 corporate customers and 1,000 supply partners.
They reported Q4 earnings of 73 cents that rose +23% and matched estimates on revenue that rose +12.1% to $3.42 billion, which beat estimates slightly. For the full year they earned $2.35 on revenue of $12.99 billion.
They also announced a quarterly dividend of 10.75 cents to be paid on March 10th to holders on Feb 25th.
Shares rebounded from the earnings and are trading at $39.50. CDW has a very clear relationship with moving averages, especially the 200-day and the 300-day. Every break of either average has resulted in a significant move. On Monday CDW closed 9 cents above the resistance of the 200-day after trading between the 200-300 for the last two weeks. A breakout over that 200-day should target the $43 level if not higher.
CDW shares posted a 77-cent gain today in a weak market.
The high today was $39.76 and I am going to use an entry trigger at $39.85. That will mean the option price could be a little higher than expected since I am using the $40 strike. The $45 strike is too far away and has no open interest.
Position 3/1/16 with a CDW trade at $39.85
Long CDW shares @ $39.85, initial stop loss $37.85.
Long Apr $40 call @ $1.50, no initial stop loss.
CMRX - Chimerix - Company Profile
Today's drop was a break in the trend. If shares break under support at $5.00 I will cancel the recommendation.
This position remains unopened until CMRX trades at $5.75.
Original Trade Description: March 7th
Chimerix is a pharmaceutical company that discovers, develops and commercializes oral antivirals to address unmet needs in the USA. Their drug farthest along in testing was brincidofovir otherwise known as CMX001, which was planned for adult transplant patients to treat adenovirus infection. The drug did no better than a placebo in state 3 trials and they were cancelled.
However, there are other uses for that drug and they have multiple other drugs under development. This recommendation is not based on some super drug in their pipeline.
This is a technical trade based on the probability of either a sharp rebound or an acquisition.
As of today's close CMRX has a market value of about $250 million. At the end of Q4 they had $221 million in cash and $159 million in investments. The company has an estimated shareholder equity of $8.50 per share with no active drugs. With multiple drugs in the pipeline and continued research underway they represent a cheap acquisition for anyone who believes their drugs have promise. Because of their cash and investments that means any active acquisition would have to command a premium over that intrinsic $8.50 value. They do have a poison pill in place to prevent a hostile takeover but they would be open to a friendly acquisition.
They reported earnings on Feb 29th that were a loss of 82 cents compared to estimates for 68 cents. The company also said they were cutting 20% of the workforce (25 workers) in order to be "prudent with their capital."
Earnings are May 9th.
Shares traded to a low of $4.41 post earnings on the 29th and have risen steadily over the last five days with a 5% gain on Monday alone. I am recommending we buy the shares with a trade at $5.75 with our first exit target around $7.60 if no news appears. That would be a 32% gain if we exited there.
I am not recommending any options but the May $7.50 call is 65 cents.
With a CMRX trade at $5.75 (just over Monday's high)
Buy CMRX shares, initial stop loss $4.75.
CUDA - Barracuda Networks - Company Profile
Only a minor rebound of 16 cents with very short-term support at $13.65. If that support breaks we want to exit so I raised the stop loss to $13.50.
Original Trade Description: March 3rd
This is going to be a simple play description because the main objective is to be long CUDA when the buyers begin making offers.
Barracuda Networks designs and delivers security and storage solutions for clouds and corporate data centers. They protect against unwanted intrusions, malicious activities, they provide spam filtering to prevent phishing schemes to gain access to the internal networks. They are especially active in protecting websites from hackers and providing load balancing solutions for high volume websites.
Shares have been declining since June at $40 to trade under $10 in January. The company promised some new initiatives and restructuring that has not worked out to investor satisfaction.
On February 1st, Bloomberg reported that Barracuda had retained Morgan Stanley to "seek potential buyers" citing unnamed sources. While the process is ongoing BWS Financial reported there could be a number of companies interested in the Barracuda brand. BWS also said a complete turnaround if no buyers emerged would take 1-2 more quarters but it would be completed as subscribers transition to a cloud based product. They have a $20 price target on the shares.
Ahmet Okumus, Okumus Fund, reported in a 13G a couple weeks ago they had established a new position in CUDA of 3.73 million shares or 7.03%. Apparently they believe a bidder will appear.
Shares have rallied from $10 to $14 over the last four weeks. With the share price near $20 in early January any acquisition price would likely be in that range. If a bidding war emerges it could be higher. There is always the possibility that no bidder emerges and Barracuda continues on its restructuring path.
Earnings are April 25th and I would plan on exiting before that report. I am not recommending any options because the spreads are too wide.
The high on Thursday was $14.11 and I am putting a $14.25 entry trigger to open the position. If by chance we are late to the party the position will not be opened.
Position 3/4/16 after a CUDA trade at $14.25
Long CUDA shares @ $14.25, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.
DWRE - Demandware - Company Profile
Today's decline was troubling because it came on no news and put the uptrend in danger. The stop loss is $35.65 so any further decline will stop us out.
Target $43.25 for an exit.
Original Trade Description: February 22nd
Demandware provides enterprise-class cloud based digital commerce solutions in the U.S., Germany, UK, and internationally. The Demandware Commerce platform enables customers to establish complex digital e-commerce strategies including multi-brands, multi-site, omni-channel and in-store operations.
Everything is integrated including payment systems, email marketing, campaign management, personalization, taxation, ratings, reviews and social commerce.
Demandware shares were caught in the Tableau Software disaster on February 5th when Tableau warned they saw enterprise spending slowing. Shares crashed from $44 to $30 on the Tableau news.
Demandware reported earnings on the 9th of 38 cents that beat street estimates for 23 cents. Revenue of $75.6 million also beat estimates for $72.3 million. They guided for full year revenue in the $295-$305 million range. Shares dropped at the open the next day because the street was expecting $302.26 million. It was a very minor guidance blink but shares dropped $2 the next day. That was the low for the month.
Shares have rebounded from that $26.50 low to $33.50 because they are not Tableau Software. They did not report any weakness in their earnings and revenue but they were punished for the Tableau guidance prior to earnings.
I believe Demandware will return to the $44 level where the close before Tableau dumped on the cloud software sector.
The high today was $33.97. I am putting an entry trigger on this play of $34.15 to get us over that level just in case the market takes a turn for the worse. If we do get some broad based profit taking, I will modify this play to take advantage of any new dips.
Earnings May 5th.
Position 2/26/16 with a DWRE trade at $34.15
Long DWRE shares @ $34.15, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.
Long April $35 call @ $2.70, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.
LGF - Lions Gate Entertainment - Company Description
Minor gain but closed near the highs. No material selling pressure. The movie "Allegiant" begins on March 17th. I want to be out of this position before that opening. LGF is poised for a run to $26 but I recommend we exit early.
Target $25.25 to exit.
Original Trade Description: February 17th.
Lions Gate reported earnings on the 5th and dropped like a rock from $26 to $16 on ten times normal volume. Adjusted earnings of 45 cents missed estimates for 47 cents. Revenue of $670 million missed estimates for $767 million.
Lions Gate earnings are always lumpy. As a film maker with 2-3 major motion pictures a year the quarter with a big release always spikes and the quarters without a release crash. In the latest quarter the Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 2 had a huge audience but it was sandwiched between James Bond's Specter and the Martian. Those big films sucked up the available screens and pushed Mockingjay out of the headlines. Even with the competition the film grossed more than $650 million.
The studio has three movies for the first half of 2016 but none are expected to be blockbusters. Lions Gate also has a sizeable portfolio of TV shows like Orange is the New Black, Nashville, The Royals, The Wendy Williams Show and Casual, with more than 75 others across 40 networks. They have contracted future revenue from those shows of $1.3 billion at the end of December. They have a library of more than 16,000 motion picture and television titles.
One of the reasons the stock fell so sharply was the expectations for LGF to acquire a lot of other "free radicals" as John Malone calls them. Those are smaller studios that could help add to the LGF franchise. However, as a Canadian company they are prohibited from acquiring anyone bigger than themselves. When their market cap dropped from $7 billion to $3 billion after earnings it meant their potential acquisition candidates shrunk significantly. They were also rumored to be considering a merger with the Starz Network. That also played into the stock drop mix because owning their own TV network could present problems for selling their content to the other 40 networks they partner with. STRZA shares dropped from $31 to $20 on the earnings because it suggested there would be no merger.
Update 2/24/16: LGF and MGM have taken an equity position in Asian based Fifth Journey, a company founded by former executives from LucasArts, Universal Pictures and Gameloft. The company develops next-generation Hollywood games and interactive entertainment. The partnership and equity stake will allow LGF and MGM to break into the highly lucrative Asian gaming market with an eventual translation into Asian movies.
Now that the smoke has cleared LGF shares are rising again. They closed just under $21 on Wednesday. They are heavily oversold and heavily shorted. The combination in a positive market could continue to push the shares higher.
The lumpy earnings will be forgotten and the stock will recover. It was trading at $41 back in November before the merger news appeared. If that is no longer an option we could see a swift rebound.
I am putting an entry trigger at $21.25, just over the $21.09 high for today. We will only enter the position on a continued move higher.
Position 2/24/16 with a LGF trade at $21.25
Long LGF shares @ $21.25, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.
Long June $23 calls @ $1.50, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.
SGI - Silicon Graphics Intl - Company Profile
Tuesday's volatility was erased with a six-week high close despite a minor gain.
Original Trade Description: February 19th
Silicon Graphics is a leader in high performance supercomputing. They build server components that handle compute intensive, fast algorithm workloads, such as Computer Assisted Engineering (CAE), genome assembly and scientific simulations. For instance, the SGI UV-3000 scales from 4 to 256 CPU sockets, utilizing multiple CPU cores per socket and up to 64 terabytes of shared memory. UV-3000 Description That description may be jibberish to readers without a tech background. I started working in computers since 1967 and I can assure you this is thousands of times more powerful than the computers NASA used to send men to the moon and 1,000 times more powerful than your desktop computer today.
SGI surged last week after Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) said they were going to utilize the SGI platform in their new HPE Integrity MC990 X Server. This is a large business server that supports heavy workloads. This strategic partnership with SGI will greatly extend the reach of SGI technology. It is also a confirmation of the stability and high performance of the SGI platform and could lead to additional acceptance by other manufacturers.
In late January, SGI reported adjusted earnings of 14 cents compared to estimates for 5 cents. Revenue of $152 million beat estimates for $145 million. However, shares plunged from $7.80 to $5.20 the next day after the company filed a shelf registration for $75 million in new shares. The company market cap is only $200 million.
Shares remained volatile around $5 until the 12th and the full impact of the Hewlett Packard partnership was understood. They closed at $5.85 on Friday and a four-week high.
I believe the worst is over and the shelf registration forgotten in light of the partnership news.
I am recommending we buy SGI shares with a trade at $6.05 and target $7.35 for an exit. That would be a 21% gain. I am not recommending an option on this position but they do exist. The June $6 call is 95 cents and the $7 call is 60 cents. If you buy the option, I would plan on holding it longer than the stock position and hope that shares move over resistance at $7.40.
Earnings are April 27th.
Position 2/26/16 with SGI trade at $6.05
Long SGI shares @ $6.05, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.
USO - US Oil Fund ETF -
The rise in oil prices lifted the USO to a new two-month high and very close to our exit target. One mor egood day should do it. We will then look for a dip to reenter.
Target $10.50 for an exit.
Original Trade Description: January 27th
The USO ETF attempts to reflect the performance of West Texas Intermediate crude oil. The ETF invests in futures contracts for oil, diesel, heating oil, gasoline, natural gas and other fuels traded on the Nymex in an effort to track WTI and avoid futures roll over bleed.
Typically, a futures oriented ETF buys forward contracts. As those contracts expire, the funds are rolled over into the next series of futures contracts at higher prices. This causes a disconnect between the actual price of the underlying commodity.
The USO attempts to reduce that as much as possible by spreading the terms and types of futures contracts it holds.
If you are still reading this you are probably wondering why I am recommending a somewhat perishable ETF on oil when we all expect oil prices to go lower. Good question!
Yes, oil prices "should" go lower as inventories build over the next two months. However, the entire world of professional investors understands this but prices have spiked twice in the last week on rumors of a Russian - OPEC agreement to cut production. If such an agreement was actually reached, we could see prices back over $50 very quickly.
I am proposing we try to buy the USO on the next dip on the chance that an agreement will eventually be reached. Last week it traded down to $7.92. When oil was $38 in December the USO was $11. If we can buy it in the $8.50 range we could see a 30% gain on any deal announcement and even more once oil prices reacted to the change in production dynamics.
Obviously, we cannot predict that a deal will happen. Saudi Arabia and Russia are enemies. However, they both have the same problem and that is they are hemorrhaging cash. In July 2014 when oil prices were $105, Saudi Arabia was taking in about $1.06 billion a day in revenue. Today at $30, they are receiving $303 million. That is a loss of $757 million a day, every day, and the kingdom is suffering from it. Russia is losing about $650 million a day. They both have millions of reasons to put their differences aside and reach an agreement.
While we cannot guarantee this will happen the headline chatter is growing daily. They may not be ready to call a truce just yet but together they are losing more than $1.4 billion a day. That is a huge incentive to do something. The next regular OPEC production meeting is early June. I am recommending we buy the USO on the next dip and hold it until July. I cannot imagine OPEC continuing the madness past the June meeting and they are likely to hold an emergency meeting earlier if crude drops back into the $20s again.
Typically, prices rise when inventories begin to decline in late April as refiners ramp up production for the summer driving season. Even if Russia and OPEC do not reach an agreement, we should see a rise in prices starting in May or earlier.
I am not going to try to buy the bottom because we may not see it again. I am recommending we buy the USO at $8.50 and hold it with no stop loss because it could go lower. I believe we will be rewarded over the next few months and with the right set of circumstances, we could be very well rewarded.
2/1/16: Position entered with a USO trade at $9.00:
Long USO shares @ $9.00, no stop loss.
Long USO July $10.00 calls @ $.85. No stop loss.
BEARISH Play Updates
VXX - VIX Futures ETF ETF - ETF Description
The Dow was very volatile today with 9 direction changes and ranges as wide as 100 points. I am not surprised the VXX did not decline much. We need a couple consecutive days of decent gains to hit our exit point.
The exit target is 19.50 to close the position.
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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