The market was dormant ahead of Friday's Nonfarm payroll report. The S&P lost only half a point after being up +9 in the morning and down -6 in the afternoon. The index gravitated back to flat at the close as investors lacked direction ahead of the payroll report.
The ADP Employment on Wednesday came in significantly lower than expected at +156,000 jobs compared to estimates for 195,000. The U.S. weekly Jobless Claims this morning came in at 274,000 and the highest level in more than a year. The Challenger Employment report showed layoffs accelerated in April to 65,141 announced layoffs. The period from January through April has seen 250,061 announced layoffs and that is the highest for that period since the financial crisis.
This suggests the Nonfarm Payroll number will miss the +200,000 consensus forecast and be well below the +215,000 number for March. A sharp decline in new jobs would be seen as fed positive since they are not going to raise rates with falling jobs and a 0.5% GDP. However, bad news could actually be seen as bad news that the economy is suddenly slowing and that could be negative for the market.
The Russell 2000 lost -5 points to close at the low of the day at 1,107 and below initial support at 1,110. The next material support is 1,095 with a possible speed bump at 1,100.
The small caps are leading the market again only they are leading it down. The Russell close was a three week low and under 1,095 would be a six-week low.
The Russell decline is affecting the small cap sector where this newsletter operates. I struggle with the concept of shorting stocks that are already in a steep decline but I also have a problem with buying the dip unless there is a potential bottom forming.
The S&P is clearly in a decline but there is support at 2,040 that could stall the drop. I do not think we will see a lasting rebound but we could have another short squeeze at any time. The payroll number on Friday could be a trigger.
Current Position Changes
VXX - Volatility ETF
The long position was closed at the open.
INSY - Insys Therapeutics
The short position was entered with a trade at $13.60.
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
BLOX - Infoblox - Company Profile
No specific news. Shares skillfully avoided our stop loss at $16 with a low at $16.02.
Original Trade Description: May 2nd.
Infoblox designs, develops, manufactures and sells network control solutions worldwide. Their primary product manages domain servers handling the routing of Domain Name Systems (DNS). In order for the Internet to work a domain name like OptionInvestor.com has to be converted to an actual IP address by looking up the DNS in a domain server or appliance. Because of the security issues surrounding this process the DNS system is a high priority and highly dynamic process.
I know that sounds kind of wonky but Infoblox has created an entire suite of products that make the process easy and secure.
Earnings May 26th.
Activist investor Starboard Value is the same fund that attacked Yahoo, Depomed, Macys, Advance Auto Parts and Darden Restaurants to name a few. They were just awarded a four board seats on the Yahoo board.
Starboard announced a 7% stake in BLOX on the 22nd saying the shares were undervalued. This suggests Starboard is about to announce changes they would like to see to improve shareholder value at BLOX. With the Sohn conference later this week, Smith typically announces his new projects in hopes of seeing a bump in the stock price and instilling a little fear in the board of the company to be attacked.
Last week the head of sales for BLOX left the company and the CEO is filling his spot temporarily. That sounds like a possibility for Starboard to agitate for change.
I am proposing we take a position in BLOX ahead of the Sohn Conference in hopes Starboard touts his new position. The stock has rallied to $17 where it came to a dead stop. A breakout over $17 could be explosive.
Long BLOX shares @ $16.86, initial stop loss $16.00
TRN - Trinity Industries - Company Profile
No specific news. Small caps were the biggest losers once again.
We have a July call option so we have time to wait for a rally.
Original Trade Description: March 18th
Trinity Industries manufacturers rail cars, highway guard rails and steel beams for infrastructure projects, structural towers for wind turbines and electrical distribution grids, oil and chemical storage tanks, barges to transport grain, coal, aggregates, tank barges to transport oil, chemicals and petroleum products. The company was founded in 1933.
Shares crashed in mid February after they reported earnings that beat the street but guidance that disappointed. Earnings of $1.30 easily beat estimates for $1.07 but revenue of $1.55 billion missed estimates for $1.61 billion. They had full year earnings of $5.08 per share.
They guided for 2016 to earnings of $2.00 to $2.40 per share. The challenge is the slowdown in orders for railroad tank cars and barges to transport oil. With oil prices crashing the producers and refiners are cutting back on capex spending until prices recover. Trinity said revenue in 2016 could decline -32%. Shares declined -35% over two days on the news.
The key here is that Trinity is now trading at a PE of 3. Yes 3.74 to be exact. With earnings in the middle of their range at $2.20 and a PE of 10 that would equate to a $22 stock price.
Here is the good news. The company has $2.12 billion in cash and undrawn credit. They are not in financial trouble. They authorized a $250 million share buyback starting January 1st. They have an order backlog of $5.4 billion in orders for 48,885 railcars. They received orders for 2,455 cars in Q4 and their backlog stretches out to 2020. The barge division received orders for $190.1 million in Q4 and had a backlog of $416 million as of December 31st. The structural tower segment has $371.3 million in order backlogs.
They recognize that tankcar and barge orders are going to remain slow until oil prices recover, which should happen later this year.
This stock was extremely oversold but began recovering in early March. Trinity produces a lot of railcars for carrying all types of products other than oil. That demand is not going to disappear and they already have order backlogs stretching into 2020.
At their current valuation they could also be an acquisition candidate. This is a great business that has been overly punished by the oil crash.
Earnings April 21st.
Long July $20 call @ $1.50, no stop loss.
Previously Closed 4/5/16: Long TRN shares @ $19.15, exit $17.50, -1.65 loss.
VXX - VIX Futures ETF - ETF Profile
The VXX was flat again today and is not reflecting the volatility in the market. We closed the position at th eopen and that was almost the low for the day.
Original Trade Description: April 25th.
The VXX ETF tracks one-month futures contracts on the Volatility Index of $VIX. The VXX is actually less volatile than the VIX but travels in the same direction. The VXX is highly liquid with average volume of roughly 75 million shares.
The VXX or any volatility ETP or leveraged ETF should not be held for long periods of time because the futures roll over every month will reduce the value of the position. However, it is suitable for short-term tactical trades. We closed a short on the VXX a couple weeks ago for a decent profit.
With the potential for another bout of market volatility I am recommending we go long the VXX this time. Long the VXX is the equivalent of a short position since it rises with a decline in the market.
Last Tuesday the VXX declined to 15.56 and the lowest level since August 10th. We had been long the VXX and that stopped us out of the position.
Since then the market has failed at resistance and spent several days in decline. With Apple's earnings likely to disappoint, it could cement the decline and lead us into the sell in May cycle.
Keith Bliss of the Cuttone Company, said research back to 1957 showed that last week was normally the best week of the entire second quarter. After last week the markets tended to "ebb" into June as the sell in May cycle takes hold as the earnings cycle wanes.
This year we have the Brexit vote in June, a likely Fed rate hike in June, the possibility for riots at the Republican convention in July, and many other factors that could weigh on the market.
I am proposing we get long the VXX and hold it because it is only a matter of time before we see another bout of volatility that could push it back to the 26-30 level. This means we could see some short-term bouts of calm if the markets try to make a new high again. Therefore, I am putting a stop loss on the position but I plan to reenter it the instant it appears volatility is starting to heat up. Hopefully the first long will be the only long we need.
Historically, there is very little long term risk with the VXX because the market will always have volatility spikes, but because it is a futures product there is a premium bleed if the ETF is held for a long time. If it were a regular stock we could just hold it until an event occurred. Since it is futures related, we have to have a stop loss.
Position 4/29/16 with a VXX trade at 16.75
Closed 5/5/16: Long VXX shares @ $16.75. Exit $16.40, -.35 cents.
WIN - Windstream Holdings - Company Profile
Windstream reported a much smaller loss than expected. The company reported an adjusted loss of 23 cents compared to estimates for 54 cents. Revenues declined slightly to $1,373.4 million and missed estimates for $1,378.8 million. However, product revenues rose 11% to $32.4 million. WIN bought back $75 million in shares in Q1. The company ended the quarter with 1,430,700 household subscribers.
Shares plunged at the open to $8.49 from the $9.31 close on Wednesday. There was a strong rebound to close back at $9.08 and right at the high for the day.
Original Trade Description: March 11th
Windstream provided network communications and technology solutions for consumers, businesses and enterprise organizations. They provide high-speed internet access, hosted web services and cable TV to a combined total of 1.6 million residential and business customers. They have more than 125,000 miles of high-speed fiber optic cable with speeds up to 500 gbps along their main corridors. They have 11 major data centers providing web hosting, cloud services, etc.
In the Q4 earnings, WIN reported adjusted earnings of $1.41 that crushed estimates for a loss of 48 cents. Revenue of $1.427 billion missed estimates slightly for $1.433 billion. The major earnings beat came from a spinoff of some of its telecom assets into a REIT. The cash received from the spinoff will allow some major network improvements in the months ahead.
The company declared a 15-cent quarterly dividend payable April 15th to holders on March 31st. That equates to a 7.3% annual yield.
WIN shares have been moving higher since they reported earnings on February 25th. Shares are at resistance at $8.25 and could breakout this week. The next resistance would be $11.85.
While we are not playing the stock for a takeover there is always the chance that somebody like Verizon or even Google could decide the $750 million market cap was chump change for 125,000 miles of high-speed fiber, cable TV and data center business.
I am going way out on the option to August because it is cheap and it will make a good lottery play even if we close the stock position early.
Long August $9.00 call @ .38 cents.(Adjusted) NO STOP LOSS
Previously closed 3/29/16: Long WIN shares @ $8.22, exit $7.10, -1.12 loss.
BEARISH Play Updates
INSY - Insys Therapeutics - Company Profile
The Biotech Index picked today to try and rebound and succeeded in closing positive. INSY dipped at the open to trigger the position but recovered slightly in the afternoon on the biotech rebound. They filed a 10Q today and it had more disclaimers than actual facts.
Original Trade Description: May 4th.
Insys is a specialty pharmaceutical company that develops and commercializes supportive care products. Their main drug (Subsys) is a sublingual fentanyl spray for cancer pain in opioid-tolerant patients.
They warned before earnings that Q1 sales of Subsys would only be in the range of $61-$62 million after Q4 sales were in the $91 million range, up +38%. In the year ago quarter Subsys sales were $70.5 million.
The problem is what the FDA said was improper off-label marketing that expanded the use of the drug last year. With that practice halted analysts believe the drug's best days are over.
Compounding the revenue problem was a decision by the FDA to move an approval date for Syndros from April 1st to July 1st. Syndros is a reformulation of the marijuana based drug marinol. Insys believes this could be a big seller in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
While that may be good for Insys in the future the trader community is leaving the stock until we get closer to the approval date.
Insys reported earnings of 11 cents that beat estimates for 8 cents. Revenue from Subsys was $62 million. Shares have been declining since the earnings report because of the revenue warning.
Earnings July 28th.
Position 5/5/16 with an INSY trade at $13.60
Short INSY shares @ $13.60, initial stop loss $14.60
NTAP - NetApp - Company Profile
No specific news. Shares only declined 8 cents in a weak market. With no news and futures falling we could get a breakdown on Friday.
Original Trade Description: April 25th.
NetApp provides software, systems and services to manage and store computer data worldwide. Data ONTAP storage operating system that delivers integrated data protection, comprehensive data management, and built-in software for virtualized, shared infrastructures, cloud computing, and mixed workload business applications; E-Series storage systems for storage area network workloads (SAN); all-flash arrays that deliver input/output operations per second and ultralow latency to drive speed, responsiveness, and value from the applications that control key business operations; and hybrid arrays for mainstream business applications.
About two weeks ago the stock trend turned negative and has started accelerating downward after Sterne Agee and Macquarie both downgraded from neutral to sell. Sterne Agee said the downgrade came after the Q1 IT survey. The survey showed weakness in end-user budgeting for storage systems and upgrades. Spending had declined 10% year-over-year and was negatively weighted towards incumbent vendors. Agee said they did not expect revenue from ONTAP8 and SolidFire to offset enough share loss potential over the next year. The analyst said valuation appears compressed and the stock should underperform its peers.
Another analyst said deteriorating net income would keep the stock depressed.
Earnings May 25th.
Based on the chart shares may not find support until $21. The last two days shares have stalled the decline at just over $24. I am recommending we short NTAP with a trade at $23.95 and target $21 for an exit.
Position 4/29/16 with a NTAP trade at $23.95
Short NTAP shares @ $23.95, initial stop loss $24.95
Long June $24 put @ $1.17, initial stop loss $24.95.
XLF - Financial ETF - ETF Profile
No material movement on the XLF. The ETF was as flat as the market.
This ETF reacts to the markets just as much as it does to financial news.
Original Trade Description: April 11th.
The XLF is commonly referred to as the banking ETF. However, it is actually a Financial Sector ETF. Banks account for 33% of the holdings with WFC, JPM, BAC, C, USB and GS six of the top ten holdings. Insurance, brokers, diversified financial services and REITs make up the rest of the ETF.
We are playing it to capitalize on the movements in those six top banks as they report earnings. The ETF normally moves slowly and I would not recommend it as a stock holding ahead of those earnings simply because we do not know which way it will move.
I am recommending a short-term option strategy called a strangle using very inexpensive options. We only care about catching the post earnings move in what could be a rocky quarter. Since estimates are already very low there is the potential for an upside surprise and that could cause some short squeezes with the banks.
I looked at playing the weekly puts but the premiums were in some cases higher than the May premiums so we will buy the time even though we will not use it.
Closed 4/29/16: Long May $23 call @ 19 cents, exit .58, +.39 gain.
Long May $22 put @ 47 cents, no stop loss.
Net debit 66 cents.
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