Option Investor

Daily Newsletter, Saturday, 6/18/2016

Table of Contents

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

Market Wrap

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

by Jim Brown

Click here to email Jim Brown

That is the lyrics from the original song by the rock group "The Clash" in 1982. That is also the question the British people are asking themselves this weekend.

Market Statistics

Friday Statistics

A lack of Brexit headlines on Friday allowed the European markets to rise after a similar move in Asia. The U.S. markets were hit by a large quadruple option expiration that saw 9.1 billion shares traded. The Dow dropped -133 points at the open due to expiration pressures then rebounded to close with a loss of -58.

Next week will be the hurdle week with investors entering/exiting positions based on the daily surveys on the possible outcome of the Brexit vote. A "leave" vote is expected to cause a sell off and a "stay" vote is expected to cause a rally, possibly a rally that takes us to new highs.

However, the last week of June, when there are no world changing headlines, is typically negative.

Helping to push the markets lower at the open was a drop in New Home Construction for May. The headline number declined from 1.172 million to 1.164 million. That was actually better than expectations for 1.150 million but the news was sold anyway. Single family starts increases slightly from 762,000 to 764,000. Multifamily starts declined slightly from 405,000 to 400,000.

Housing permits for single-family homes declined from 741,000 to 726,000. Multifamily permits rose from 389,000 to 412,000. Permits are a precursor to starts and a preview of what to expect for June. Overall starts fell -0.3% and permits rose +0.7%. Completions rose from 940,000 to 988,000 units. All numbers are the annualized rates.

In the Regional Employment report for May, hiring increased in only 3 states and the District of Columbia. That is less than the 11 states in April and the average of 34 states in the first quarter. However, hiring only declined in four states with 43 basically unchanged.

Those reporting increases in higher were Florida +24,500, Washington +8,700 and DC +6,800. Those with the largest declines were Tennessee -13,400, Michigan -12,700 and New Hampshire -4,000.

According to this report payroll employment declined by -27,000 in May and the first monthly decline since mid-2012. That was weaker than the adjusted nonfarm payroll gain of +38,000.

The economic calendar for next week has three major hurdles. Janet Yellen gives her House and Senate testimony on the economy on Tue/Wed. If she felt she was too dovish last Wednesday she may try to correct that assumption by being more hawkish in her testimony. After Bullard's comments on Friday I would not bet against Yellen trying to move expectations back towards a July rate hike.

The Brexit vote on Thursday is the big hurdle. While the vote is not binding, I do expect the government to begin preparations for an exit if that is the actual outcome. The latest poll of polls by the Financial Times on Friday had it 48% leave and 43% stay with the stay numbers declining and leave numbers rising.

FT Summary of Recent Polls

If Britain votes to leave the Pound Sterling currency is a sure bet to drop. The dollar will rise because capital inflows into the UK will slow significantly until the post exit trade agreements are worked out. A UK recession has been predicted. Michael Saunders, a Citigroup economist, warned a Brexit could trigger a 15-20% drop in the currency compared to the UK trading partners. The euro currency would also decline because of the turmoil and uncertainty in Europe.

Bank stocks would take the biggest hit and they have been declining for some time. Barclays (BCS), Royal Bank (RBS), Santander UK, Lloyds and HSBC would be hurt. US banks with revenue exposure to the UK include GS 27%, MS 15%, JPM 15%, Citi 13% and Bank of America 7%.

Many U.S. companies have high UK revenue exposure. According to JP Morgan (JPM) these are the most well known and their revenue exposure to the UK. If the Pound Sterling declines in value as expected these companies are going to get killed on currency translation back to dollars. There will also be cross border tariffs for products sold from the UK. Coke, Abercrombe & Fitch, Gap and Walmart are also heavily exposed to the UK but numbers were not available.

(NEM) Newmont Mining 64.1%
(TAP) Moulson Coors 34.3%
(PAG) Penske Automotive 33.4%
(PPL) PPL Corporation 31.4%
(WLTW) Willis Towers Watson 27.3%
(PRAA) PRA Health Sciences 26.5%
(IVZ) Invesco 22.5%
(BLK) BlackRock 21.6%
(XRX) Xerox 21.0%
(APA) Apache 20.1%
(LKQ) LKQ Corp 19.2%
(F) Ford 18.8%
(CPRT) Copart Inc 18.7%
(NWS) News Corp 18.5%
(CBRE) CBRE Group 17.6%
(GWR) Genesee & Wyoming 17.0%
(EBAY) eBay Inc 16.3%

The Fed decision on Wednesday was a 180-degree change in direction. They went from a majority of the panel saying publically we could see 2-3 hikes this year to the majority saying no hikes in the near future. Yellen actually said the problems the economy is experiencing could be structural rather than cyclical and they could persist for longer than expected. This was a major change in Fed outlook.

This is going to turn economically geeky for the next few paragraphs. If you want to skip a discussion of a monumental change in Fed policy just skip to the "stock news" heading.

The St. Louis Fed President, James Bullard, shocked everyone on Friday when he changed from the most hawkish member of the panel to the most dovish. He now believes that the Fed should only hike one more time between now and the end of 2018. The statement was so unbelievable it shocked the market into believing the economy was worse than it thought.

Bullard said, the Fed should discard its practice of projecting long-run values for things like economic growth and the target policy rate, acknowledge it has little certainty about the future, and state the economy is not likely to get much worse or much better than it is now, absent some outside shock. He said a Fed Funds Rate of 0.63%, roughly 25 basis points above the current level, will likely stay there "for the foreseeable future." He said for the Fed to publish projections that economic activity will rise steadily to historic norms of 3% to 4% GDP growth has been misleading.

He also said "the Fed's actual pace of rate increases has been much slower than what was mapped out by the committee in the past. This mismatch between what we are saying and what we are doing is arguably causing distortions in global financial markets, causing unnecessary confusion over future Fed policy, and eroding the credibility of the FOMC."

Bullard took his dot off the Fed's "Dot Plot" because he does not see any future rate increases through the end of 2018. He said the Fed should view the economy as in a "regime" and the "appropriate policy rate for that state would remain in place until a recession, a surge in productivity or other shock causes it to change." The rate path "is essentially flat over the forecast horizon" with "key economic variables likely stuck near current values, with growth around 2%, employment around 4.7% and inflation heading towards and likely anchored at the Fed's 2% goal."

While previously a rate hawk, he said he has been rethinking much about his view of the economy, including that the U.S. and other developed countries might be mired in a world of permanently low interest rates.

This monumental shift in Bullard's thinking and its apparent impact on Yellen's thinking suggests there will be a different Fed going forward. For Yellen to say in the press conference that the economy was facing structural rather than cyclical problems that could persist a lot longer than previously thought, shows that Bullard's new view had contaminated her thinking.

The Fed is basically saying the current 2.0% GDP growth rate is as good as it is going to get for a very long time. Larry Summers warned the Fed has been wrong for a long time and the U.S. is going through "secular stagnation." DoubleLine's Jeffrey Gundlach said the "rate hike cycle has left the building." Peter Boockvar warned, "The Fed has been mugged by reality."

In reality, if low rates were the answer to producing strong economic growth the entire world should be running at a 10% GDP. Rates in 23 countries are zero or negative. Japanese interest rates have been at or near zero since 2000 and they recently adopted a policy rate of +0.0% to -0.1%. If low rates were the answer, after 16 years at zero, Japan should be the strongest economy on the planet. They are the seventh largest global economy and growing at only a +0.1% annual GDP rate.

Since the financial crisis, we have seen central banks enact $12.3 trillion in money printing QE. There have been 654 interest rate cuts since 2008 and there is more than $10 trillion in global bonds with a negative yield. Bill Gross said that was a "supernova ready to explode." After all this the World Bank cut its 2016 global GDP growth forecast from 2.9% to 2.4% with the U.S. cut from 2.7% to 1.9% expected growth.

Bank America Merrill Lynch chief investment strategist Michael Hartnett said "The cocktail of QE, ZIRP and NIRP has been a potent one for Wall Street and the price of financial assets over the past eight years, and yet the bull market has waned in the past 18 months, there has been no normalization of growth, rates and asset allocation, no 'Great Rotation,' and bonds and stocks have been trapped in a Twilight Zone of volatile trading."

The Great Rotation was predicted by Bank of America as the shift out of bonds and back into equities. That has not happened. So far, in 2016, $106 billion has flowed out of equities and $75.8 billion has flowed into bond funds.

Stock News

Viacom (VIAB) lowered guidance for the first time since 2008 when they warned revenue would decline about 4% in Q2 compared to a 5% drop in Q1. They blamed the drop on a "theatrical underperformance" of "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows." The movie was not just bad, it was horrible. My son saw it and said afterwards, "I wonder if I can sue them for my two hours back."

Viacom was also in the news for the soap opera that is Sumner Redstone and the musical chairs for the board members. He fired 4 board members and the CEO Phillip Duaman and filed papers with the State of Delaware to have them removed. Duaman is still the CEO but no longer on the board. However, those ejected are filing suit protesting their termination. Redstone wants to fire Duaman as CEO but Duaman has a strong contract that says if he is removed without cause before the end of his contract he gets three times his annual salary for his remaining unfilled term. He is already one of the most overpaid CEOs in the business and has received nearly $425 million since he became CEO in 2011. He makes between $37 and $54 million a year depending on the stock options but he made roughly $112 million in 2015. His current contract extends through 2018. To fire him he would get 3 times his salary through 2018 and that would be an astronomical amount of money. He is so hated that you could probably take up a collection from the employees to defray the expense. Sumner Redstone at age 93, controls 80% of Viacom shares through his private holding company National Amusements.

Analysts begin upgrading the stock as Redstone began removing directors. RBC upgraded the stock from sell to hold and raised the price target from $34 to $45, which is where it closed on Friday. Several believe Viacom could re-merge with CBS, which Redstone also controls. The companies split in 2005 and many analysts said the move did not make sense then and still does not make sense. The bigger the company and the more eyeballs they service the better deal they will get when negotiating for content. Analysts claim a CBS acquisition of Viacom for a 20% premium would still be 11% accretive to CBS earnings in 2017. CBS CEO Les Moonves is well respected and any deal would have to be carefully constructed to avoid a revolt at the much better performing CBS.

Oracle (ORCL) reported earnings Thursday after the close of 81 cents that beat estimates by a penny. Revenue fell -1% to $10.6 billion due to currency issues. They repurchased $1.9 billion in stock for the quarter while free cash flow declined slightly to a still enormous $12.4 billion. Hardware revenue fell 9% to $1.28 billion. New software license revenue fell 12% to $2.77 billion. Product support revenue rose 3% to $4.81 billion.

However, cloud was king. The software as a service (SaaS) business plus the platform as a service (PaaS) revenue rose 66% to $690 million. Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) revenue rose 5% to $169 million. While those service revenues are a lot smaller than the prior revenue categories they are growing fast and Oracle thinks they will be the revenue leaders in the not too distant future. Gross margin on the service revenues is 56%. They expect SaaS and PaaS revenue to rise 75-80% in the current quarter, which exceeded the prior forecast of 59% growth. Oracle shares rose 3% on the earnings news.

Smith & Wesson (SWHC) reported blowout earnings again only a week after Wedbush warned of possible earnings problems. Analyst James Hardiman reiterated a neutral rating and cut his price target to $23 while calling for a drop in sales and earnings. He said channel checks saw a good first quarter but April/May sales had slowed at 30 big box retailers. Sorry James but I could not resist reprinting your call.

Thursday after the close, S&W reported earnings of 66 cents that easily beat estimates for 54 cents. Revenue of $221 million also beat estimates for $214 million. The company said financial results continue to set records and they see no decline in the future. For the current quarter, they forecast earnings of 49-53 cents compared to analyst estimates at 34 cents. They predicted revenue of $190-$200 million compared to estimates for $161.8 million. The estimates were prepared before the Orlando shooting and did not include any calculation for increased sales because of the anti-gun furor following the terrorist attack. You can bet with all the politicians screaming gun control there will be a surge in new gun sales. With more than 300 million guns in the U.S. the pro gun population is actually gaining ground rather than losing it.

The Gun Room in Denver said buyer traffic was four times normal since Orlando. The gun stores in and around Orlando are reporting they have no inventory left. People have been standing in line to buy guns, sometimes more than one per person. Others are putting down deposits for guns the stores have on order. Guns & Ammo Unlimited said their concealed weapons permit classes normally has about 7 attendees but since the shooting they have been packed out at 24 per class and booked for weeks into the future. The Pink Pistols, the nationwide gun club for the LGBT community has 45 chapters and grew from 1,500 members a week ago to 3,500 as of Monday. Many gun stores have started offering an "active shooter" class on how to defend yourself in that situation. Option Investor included an active shooter guide in the last EOY package. That guide is available by request. Send an email to "support."

Apple Inc (AAPL) faced yet another setback on Friday after Beijing banned the sales of iPhone 6s and 6s Plus because they looked like the Shenzhen Baili 100C phone. That company had patented the "look" of their phone and filed a complaint with the Beijing patent court claiming the Apple phones copied their look. Apple immediately countered the news saying the ruling was on appeal and all iPhones were still available for sale in Beijing. The particular case only covers Beijing so even if Apple were to lose the appeal their phones would still be available everywhere in China except Beijing. The 6s and 6s Plus will be discontinued after September according to several reports. That means by the time the appeal runs its course the phones will no longer be available for sale and will be replaced by the iPhone 7. One analyst said the news could actually cause a rush to buy the phones before the appeal has been settled. China is Apple's second biggest market with $12.3 billion in sales last quarter compared to $19.1 billion in the USA. Seriously, look at the pictures below and I do not see the problem. It is just another way to make it hard for Apple to do business in China. Shares lost more than $2 on the news.

Do not try to use your American Express card at Costco (COST) on Monday because they will not accept it. The official cutover to the Citibank Rewards Visa is on Monday. Analysts believe it will save Costco up to $220 million a year in fees by switching to the Visa. Costco shares have been moving up steadily since the earnings surprise in late May.

Amazon (AMZN) expects to triple sales of the Echo device in 2017. They sold roughly 1 million in 2015, should sell around 3 million in 2016 and then expand that to 10 million in 2017. Considering they invented the category this is an amazing growth rate. If you go to Amazon and look at the reviews on the Echo device it will amaze you. There are nearly 38,000 and probably 37,700 of them are in love. Some people have multiples because they find them so handy. Google and Apple are both trying to get their device to market but Amazon has a huge lead. Google actually started working on their device before Amazon did but they wanted it to be so perfect that Amazon beat them to it.

Jeff Bezos has a killer product here and it will lead to untold billions in sales of other products. It is so easy to say, "Alexa, reorder toilet paper, Crest toothpaste and popcorn" rather than going online and doing it manually. "Alexa, ask Uber for a ride to the airport at 11:AM tomorrow." This year is going to be a big holiday season for the Echo.

Lumber Liquidators (LL) shares rallied 19% after they reached an agreement with the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) over Chinese made laminate flooring they sold from 2011 through May 2015. After a long testing process it was determined that removing the flooring that was already installed in customer homes would actually expose them to more formaldehyde emissions than leaving it in place. So far, none of the customers that have gone through the testing process has had their floors test above the guidelines from the CPSC. LL has tested the air quality in more than 17,000 homes and had a third party laboratory conduct extensive tests on 1,300 of those floors. None failed the CPSC requirements.

While this clears the company from having to do a recall on those 17,000 floors there is still the litigation problems. There is a class action suit and the testing will mitigate much of the liability from the suit but there is still liability. Secondly, the LL insurers are claiming they are not liable for any expenses related to this problem. The company has $22 million in cash and $62 million in available credit so they are not going out of business in the near future. They still have to convince consumers their current flooring inventory is safe and rebuild consumer confidence.

Google (GOOGL) shares dropped $20 after Citigroup warned that ad spending might be on the decline. The analyst said checks with two different ad agencies with more than $5 billion in ad spending a year, showed that spending growth was slowing in Q2 compared to Q1. Official estimates have not changed from the 18% growth previously expected but cuts could be coming. The analyst said Google revenue could fall 1-2% below consensus estimates. Currently analysts are expecting $16.87 billion.

There are a few notable earnings for next week. Adobe and FedEx report on Tuesday. Bed, Bath and Beyond and RedHat report on Wednesday. BlackBerry and Accenture report on Thursday. The final score for Q1 earnings was a decline of -6.7% and the fourth quarter of earnings declines. Eighty-one companies issued negative guidance for Q2 and 32 issued positive guidance.

The forecast for Q2 earnings is for a decline of -5.1% and it will be the first time since 2008 that we have seen five quarters of declining earnings. Revenues are expected to decline -0.8% for the sixth consecutive quarter of revenue declines.

On Friday, the $8 billion Visium hedge fund sent investors a letter saying it was closing its doors. There is an insider trading investigation underway and claims of self-dealing against Visium's founder Jake Gottlieb. The fund was down -9.3% year to date and reportedly there have been $3 billion in redemption requests.

One of its top portfolio managers, Sanjay Valvani, was charged several days earlier with wire and securities fraud. He reportedly used insider information from the FDA on pending decisions that would impact drug companies. In January 2014, Visium bought a 5% stake in Intercept Pharmaceuticals the day before favorable results were released on a drug. Gottlieb bought 25,000 shares in his own account, which was a violation of the company's rules. This gave the appearance that Gottlieb was self-dealing whenever a killer deal appeared. There were no details on how the firm would liquidate its holdings.

Crude Oil

Crude oil has had a couple of volatile days since falling from the $51.50 high last Thursday. On Thursday crude fell from $48.72 to $45.83 (-5.9%) and caused the energy sector to implode helping to drag the broader market lower. On Friday, crude rebounded +4.1% to close at $48.26 to nearly recoup the entire decline from Thursday. Much of the movement on both days was the result of the moves in the dollar. The dollar shot up on Thursday and declined back to the lows for the week on Friday.

Also hitting crude was the expiration of futures coming on Tuesday. If you were long for the rally, your time to exit was running short. When the price started to collapse, everyone ran for the exits.

There will be some additional pressure on crude next week with Baker Hughes reporting Friday afternoon that active rigs rose +10 to 424. Rigs are now up for three consecutive weeks and it is the first time they have been up since last August. Oil rigs rose +9 to 337 and gas rigs rose +1 to 86. Offshore rigs were unchanged at 21.


For a quadruple options expiration this one was relatively tame. Volume spiked to 9.2 billion shares and the most since the March 18th quadruple witching at 10.8 billion shares. There was more than $1 billion in S&P options that expired at the open on Friday. The market was boosted on Thursday by 4 distinct buy programs that lifted the S&P from 2,050 to roughly 2,080. That could have been accomplished by a large hedge fund or institution trying to make sure their options either expired in or out of the money depending on their position. Since the S&P options expire at the opening print on Friday and there was no further reason to support the index, it collapsed back to 2,063 almost immediately after the opening print. Trading the rest of the day was lackluster.

Option expirations are either chaotic or lackluster depending on the prior market movement and the open interest bias. Monday will likely be mundane as well. For example, on the March 18th quad witching the S&P closed at 2,049. On the Monday after expiration, it closed at 2,051. Post expiration Mondays are normally spent dealing with cleaning up your account. If you were put stock or had some stock called away, traders are deciding what to do with the leftovers. Now that their options expired, they are deciding what new positions they want to add.

Now that expiration is over there is no reason for funds to try and push the market around. They will be focused on restructuring their portfolio for the end of the quarter. June is rebalance month. The S&P-500 was rebalanced at the close on Friday to account for stock buybacks, acquisitions, etc. This is relatively painless because some stocks are sold and others bought and it normally fails to move the index significantly.

The NYSE Arca Gold Miners Index (GDM) is also rebalanced on expiration Friday every quarter. Other index rebalancing included the $NY, $NYA, $NYE, $NYI, $NYK, $NYL, $NYP, $NYY, $XCI, $XII, $XOI, $CZH, $DFI, $DGE, $HUI, $JHUI, $JPN, $DRG, $HKO, $HKX and $MXY. The Alerian MLP ETF was also rebalanced to include some new partnerships. It was a busy expiration.

Next Friday the Russell indexes will be rebalanced. They call it reconstitution since their indexes change constituents every June while the S&P-500 just changes the weighting of each stock.

The Russell company calculates the current market cap of all the stocks in the market. They sort them by market cap and the top 1000 become the Russell 1000, the next 2000 by market cap become the Russell 2000. The combination of the two become the Russell 3000. Each year numerous funds try to game the system by anticipating ahead of time which stocks will be added/deleted so they can buy them or short them depending on the result. Volume will be very heavy next Friday given the reconstitution and the day after the Brexit vote.

Russell Reconstitution Website

List of Stocks Being Added to the Russell 3000

List of Stocks Being Deleted from the Russell 3000

List of Microcap Stocks Being Added to the Russell Microcap Index

List of Microcap Stocks Being Deleted from the Russell Microcap Index

The internals were almost dead even on Friday. There were 3,658 advancing stocks and 3,462 declining stocks. There were 194 new 52-week highs and 86 new lows. A/D volume was also nearly even at 3.07 and 3.03 million shares.

The S&P closed at 2,071 and right in the middle of the rebound from May. The 2,075 level is resistance and 2,050 is support. One of those levels will be broken next week. If the "stay" voters win the Brexit vote we could see a rally that takes us back over 2,100 and possibly to new highs. The Brexit vote has created an enormous amount of uncertainty and a stay vote will end that uncertainty. A "leave" vote could cause extreme volatility but there is also the chance that a knee-jerk reaction to the downside could be a buying opportunity. We will not know the outcome until the event passes.

The Dow closed at 17,675 and under resistance at 17,750. However, that level has been crossed so many times it is starting to look like the welcome mat at Walmart. It did keep the index in check for the last three days so there is still some holding power. Support is 17,500 and that was tested on Thursday at the open. The next level to watch is 17,400, with the 300-day average at 17,382. That average stopped the decline in May and March. The financials should continue to be weak until after the vote and depending on the outcome they could continue to be weak. The winners on Friday were a mixed bag but you really cannot make any rational decisions based on stock direction on an expiration Friday.

The Nasdaq was the biggest loser on Friday with biotechs and techs of all flavors losing ground. There were only three stocks that gained over $2 and 37 that lost more than $2. The index closed exactly on 4,800, which was light support. We could easily test the May lows at 4,700 next week and a breakdown there could get ugly. A stay vote would propel us back to resistance at 4,968.

The Russell 2000 was actually relatively strong on Friday with only a -0.3% decline. Support has emerged at 1,140. However, the Russell is typically weak ahead of the June rebalance. Stocks being deleted are still in the index until Friday's close but traders will be shorting them all week trying to jump in front of the rebalance. The following week the Russell is typically positive because funds will be adding the stocks that Russell put into the indexes. They will try to do most of their buying and selling at the close on Friday but there are always some position adjustments the following week. It is easy to know exactly what to sell but getting the new entries in the correct quantity requires some additional effort.

I wish I had a crystal ball that could not only tell me the outcome of the vote but how the market reacts to that outcome. A stay vote "should" result in a relief rally. That is the easy assumption. A leave vote "should" result in a market decline but since that is already assumed and investors have been leaving the market for weeks, that decline could be brief and just be a buying opportunity.

The daily polls ahead of the vote will whipsaw the market before Thursday. Depending on the survey size and composition the resulting answers can be closer than expected or wider than expected. The European markets will be the driver for the U.S. market. Whatever happens to them overnight should carry over into the U.S. trading.

China and Japan are the wild cards. They have been up and down like yo-yos over the last couple weeks and it would be too much to ask for them to just be neutral for the week.

I am going to try and come up with some Brexit trades as the week progresses but they are speculation rather than fundamental trades. There is no way to game the vote with any certainty. Keep your fingers crossed. I am almost positive I will be writing next weekend, "Well we really did not expect that!" Since this has never happened before we do not really have anything to use for reference.

If you have a low risk tolerance, I would recommend going on a trading vacation next week. Come back the following Monday and the outlook will be entirely different and the volatility will be considerably lower.

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

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Random Thoughts

Stocks have a fickle relationship with the summer months. Performance is either very good or very bad. This may be shaping up to be one of the years where performance is negative. The political conventions are going to be very troublesome. At the democratic convention in Philadelphia in late July, they are putting up a 10-foot security wall around the Wells Fargo Convention Center. While there are no plans yet for a wall at the Republican convention on July 18th we are still several weeks away. The optics on these events are going to be troubling for the market.

Even in a normal summer, the low volume doldrums can produce volatile results even though the trading activity is slow. However, some stocks are perennial winners. Source

Summer S&P-500 performance last five years.

2011 -12.3%
2012 +7.7%
2013 +7.4%
2014 +1.0%
2015 -8.1%.

These are the best performing stocks to own over the summer. This is the average gains over the last five summers according to S&P Global Market Intelligence.

(REGN) Regeneron +23.7%
(UA) Under Armour +15.8%
(LB) L Brands 13.0%
(ULTA) Ulta Salon 12.8%
(CELG) Celgene 11.9%
(MA) MasterCard 9.9%
(VFC) V.F. Corp 9.2%
(V) Visa 9.1%
(AGN) Allergan 9.0%.

The bearish camp picked up a lot of converts last week with a 9.7% gain to 37.5%. The bullish camp is back down to 25.3% and the least confident of all participants. The survey ends on Wednesday so the Thursday/Friday declines are not in the numbers.

What happened to safe deposit boxes? When I was young back in the 1950s, my parents had a safe deposit box. In today's mobile world with everyone paranoid about secrecy the concept of having a safe deposit box that is a pain to visit and even more difficult to move when you do is a thing of the past. Fidelity has come up with a new plan. It is a virtual safe deposit box. There is only one limitation. You can only store documents. You cannot store your grandmother's jewelry, or that Faberge Egg you have been meaning to sell. No rolls of gold and silver coins or rare collectables. However, you can scan all your important documents including wills, deeds, life insurance policies, birth certificates, passports, drivers licenses, etc. They are available to you online from anywhere in the world. If you are on vacation and lose your wallet or passport you can download a copy and present it to the proper authorities for replacement.

You still need a safe at home for those coins, jewelry and collectables but they do not need to be accessed from thousands of miles away when you are on vacation or a business trip.

Anything you upload is heavily encrypted and impossible for anyone to read or steal. I think it is a good idea just to have this as a backup to your personal archive. And the good news is that it is free. Source

Rio de Janeiro has finally waved the white flag. They admitted they do not have enough money to fund public services during the Olympics that start on August 5th. They declared a state of emergency and requested federal funds in order to "avoid a total collapse in public security, health, education, transport and environmental management." The states revenue is mostly tied to oil prices and that has been cut by more than half over the last two years. The lack of funds has caused a 30% cut in the security budget and Olympic safety is a major concern.

So now you can go to the Olympics, walk everywhere you go, get mugged daily or worse if caught in a terrorist event and as a bonus you can catch the Zika virus. I think I will watch on TV. Source

Is it just me or does the concept of lobster rolls seem out of place on a McDonalds menu? Starting June 20th, they will be available in seven northeastern states for the summer. After being absent for a decade they reappeared on the menu for a limited time last summer. The $8.99 roll is actually one of the healthiest items McDonalds serves at only 290 calories while a Big Mac has 530 calories. Being a landlubber in Denver there are no lobster rolls on any local menus where I have ever eaten. It just seems strange to me that McDonalds would serve them. Source


Enter passively and exit aggressively!

Jim Brown

Send Jim an email


"If everything seems to be going well, you have obviously overlooked something."

Steven Wright

New Plays

Insiders Arrested

by Jim Brown

Click here to email Jim Brown
Editor's Note

It is never good for your stock price when insiders are arrested for illegal activities. Unfortunately for Insys Therapeutics the crack down on opioid drug use led to the arrests.


No New Bullish Plays


INSY - Insys Therapeutics - Company Profile

Insys Therapeutics, Inc is a specialty pharmaceutical company that develops and commercializes supportive care products. The company markets Subsys, a sublingual fentanyl spray for breakthrough cancer pain in opioid-tolerant cancer patients in the United States. Its lead product candidate is Syndros, an orally administered liquid formulation of dronabinol. The company is also developing Cannabidiol Oral Solution, a synthetic cannabidiol for childhood catastrophic epilepsy syndromes; and other product candidates, including other dronabinol line extensions and sublingual spray product candidates.

Two former employees were arrested on June 9th for allegedly participating in kickback schemes involving doctors who prescribed the company's main drug, Subsys, a pain medication containing fentanyl. This is the drug that killed Prince, Joan Rivers and Michael Jackson. The two employees paid doctors thousands of dollars to participate in sham educational programs in order to induce the doctors to prescribe millions of dollars worth of the Subsys product. In 2014 alone the employees paid one doctor $147,000 and another $112,000 in speaker fees to give a talk at one of their "educational" programs. Those doctors were two of the largest prescribers of the drug in the USA. The scheme was discovered in November 2015. Subsys revenue in 2015 was $330 million. In 2014 a record 28,000 people died from subscription opioid addiction.

Earnings August 4th.

Clearly, this will have a long-term impact on Insys since there will be liabilities associated with the revenue generated from the scheme. The company is under attack by Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney for New York. He has brought down dozens of other companies over the last several years for various types of misdealing.

Sell short INSY shares, currently $12.96, initial stop loss $14.25

No options recommended because of wide spreads and high prices.

In Play Updates and Reviews

Calm Before the Storm

by Jim Brown

Click here to email Jim Brown

Editors Note:

The Dow dropped to 17,600 at the open before rebounding to resistance at 17,700 and then fading into the close. Considering this was a quadruple option expiration the market action was rather tame. Next week could be significantly different as traders enter/exit positions going into Wednesday's close based on the survey results from the UK ahead of Thursday's exit vote.

That means the volatility on Wednesday could be high and Thursday/Friday could be worse. Regardless of the outcome of the Brexit vote the market is likely to be highly directional based on the vote results. We could have a monster rally or a monster crash.

Current Portfolio

Current Position Changes

SQ - Square

The June call expired worthless.

Profit Targets

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

CSII - Cardiovascular Systems -
Company Profile


Big drop on no news. Many of the healthcare and biotech stocks sold off hard on Friday.

Original Trade Description: June 13th.

Cardiovascular Systems, a medical technology company, develops, manufactures, and markets devices to treat vascular diseases in the United States. It offers peripheral arterial disease products, including Stealth 360° Peripheral Orbital Atherectomy System (OAS), Diamondback 360 Peripheral OAS, Diamondback 360 60cm Peripheral OAS access device, and the 4 Diamondback 360 French 1.25 Peripheral OAS access device products for treating a range of plaque types, such as calcified plaque, in leg arteries both above and below the knee and address many of the limitations associated with existing surgical, catheter, and pharmacological treatment alternatives, as well as Diamondback 360 Coronary OAS, a catheter-based platform to facilitate stent delivery in patients with coronary artery disease.

In the last quarter revenues rose 7%, gross margin rose from 77.8% to 80.4% and operating expenses decline -5%. They expect to reduce expenses by another 7% in the current quarter. Coronary revenues rose +31%.

With more than 18 million Americans suffering from Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD), which is the accumulation of plaque in the peripheral arteries, their market is booming. Coronary Artery Disease is a leading cause of death in the USA. With more than 40% of the population already diagnosed and probably another 20% undiagnosed the market for their products is also growing rapidly. With the baby boomers retiring and these health problems becoming more life threatening as they age the number of "interventions" as my cardiologist calls them is growing rapidly. Stenting any patient with any symptoms of heart disease is becoming more common than tonsillectomies for children. More than 600,000 Americans die from heart disease annually. That is equivalent to 6 jumbo jet crashes every day.

In Q1, Broadfin Capital added a 1.46 million share stake in CSII or 4.47%. Point72 Asset Management added 102,000 shares. Shares have broken out of resistance at $16 and continue to creep higher.

Earnings are August 3rd.

There was only a minor decline today in a very weak market.

Position 6/14/16:

Long CSII shares @ $18.16, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

No option recommended because of wide spreads.

HPE - Hewlett Packard Enterprise - Company Profile


No specific news. Nice rebound.

Original Trade Description: June 2nd.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise was spun off from Hewlett Packard (HPQ) to be the high growth segment of the company. The remaining HPQ was the slower growing PC and printer company.

HPE reported adjusted Q1 earnings of 42 cents and in line with estimates. Revenue of $12.711 billion would have been up +4% on a constant currency basis. Analysts were expecting $12.419 billion.

For the current quarter, HPE guided to earnings of $1.10 to $1.14. For the full year, they expect $1.85-$1.95 and that was more than analysts expected at $1.89. They increased free cash flow +101% to $1.1 billion for the quarter.

The good news came from their plans for the cash flow. HPE expects to generate $2.0-$2.2 billion in free cash flow in 2016. They are receiving $2 billion from the Tsinghua transaction which closed in early May and the money will be used for share repurchases. In 2016, HPE is increasing its commitment to return 100% of the free cash flow to investors in dividends and buybacks.

This means over the next couple of months we should see significant share activity as funds position themselves to be the beneficiaries of all this buyback/dividend activity that could exceed $4 billion in 2016. $2.5 billion of that is in an "accelerated" buyback program. The board authorized another $3 billion in buybacks to bring the current authorization to $4.8 billion.

They also announced a tax-free spinoff of their services division to Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC), which is expected to close in March 2017. This will produce another $8.5 billion in value to HPE shareholders in the form of $4.5 billion in equity in the combined company and $1.5 billion in a cash dividend and the removal of $2.5 billion in debt from HPE.

Earnings Aug 23rd.

HPE shares have shaken off their May weakness and closed today at a historic high. I am recommending we buy this stock in anticipation of additional fund investors moving in ahead of future dividends, buybacks and the spinoff.

Position 6/3/16:

Long HPE shares @ $18.40, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.


Long August $20 call @ 40 cents. No stop loss.

NVAX - Novavax - Company Profile


No specific news. Shares declined slightly in a weak market but are still holding at a five-month high.

Original Trade Description: June 14th.

Novavax, Inc., a clinical-stage vaccine company, focuses on discovering, developing, and commercializing recombinant nanoparticle vaccines and adjuvants. The company produces its vaccines using its proprietary recombinant nanoparticle vaccine technology. Its product pipeline includes respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) vaccine candidates for elderly and maternal immunization that are in Phase III clinical trials, as well as pediatric RSV candidate, which is in Phase I clinical trial; seasonal quadrivalent influenza and pandemic H7N9 vaccines, which are in Phase II clinical trials; vaccine candidate against Ebola Virus that is Phase I clinical trial, as well as combination respiratory vaccine candidate and seasonal influenza vaccine candidate that is in pre-clinical trial; and rabies G protein vaccine candidate, which is in Phase I/II clinical trial. The company also has pre-clinical stage programs for various infectious diseases, including the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus; and develops technology for the production of immune stimulating saponin-based adjuvants.

Novavax is using a new proprietary model for vaccines that does not require the long incubation time and the annual reformulation. They are far along in their trials compared to other companies and these vaccines can be given to children.

The top line State III data for the RSV F vaccine is due out in Q3 and they already have a fast track designation from the FDA. The drug could be commercially available by mid-2017. This drug could generate $1 billion in sales. While there is always the potential for a trial to fail, this initial drug has already progressed through all the early and mid stage trials. Novovax also has $434 million in cash so plenty of liquidity to continue the process.

Earnings August 9th.

Analysts are predicting a 100% gain for NVAX over the next year and that is attracting new investors today. With their advanced pipeline they could be an acquisition target. Shares only pulled back about 50 cents in the market weakness over the last three days and they posted a gain in today's weak market.

Position 6/15/16:

Long NVAX shares @ $6.65, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

No options recommended because of price.

UIS - Unisys Corp - Company Profile


No specific news. Minor gain in a weak market.

Original Trade Description: June 6th.

Unisys Corporation provides information technology services worldwide. It operates through two segments, Services and Technology. The Services segment provides cloud and infrastructure services, application services, and business process outsourcing services. The Technology segment designs and develops software, servers, and related products. It offers a range of data center, infrastructure management, and cloud computing offerings for clients to virtualize and automate data-center environments. This segments product offerings include enterprise-class servers, such as the ClearPath Forward family of fabric servers; the Unisys Stealth family of security software; and operating system software and middleware. The company serves commercial, financial services, public sector, and the U.S. federal government through direct sales force, distributors, resellers, and alliance partners.

Unisys has morphed in its 143 years of operation into a global cloud, IT and infrastructure services company. That is a long way from the original company that produced the first commercially viable typewriters and adding machines under the name Burroughs, Sperry and Remington Rand.

Today one of their main products is Unisys Stealth for protection of digital and physical assets. Stealth Mobile protects secur emobile applications and Stealth Cloud expands that protection to the cloud.

Just before their recent earnings they announced a deal with Mitel to provide the Unisys stealth technology to protect their 60 million mobile and enterprise customers. Business is booming but it has been a long time coming. In Q1 revenue declined -3% and services declined -2%. However, the company said its "lumpy" quarter-to-quarter strategy was changing with a stronger focus on the Stealth products and their rapid wide scale adoption. They expect the amount of money spent on cybersecurity to more than double from the $75 billion in 2015 to more than $170 billion in 2020. The cost of data breaches will rise to $2.1 trillion annually by 2019 and more than four times the cost in 2015.

Unisys has been a stealth company for the last year with shares declining from $30 to $7. With their new products and the rapid acceptance of those products their stock is rebounding off the three month consolidation pattern.

Earnings July 28th.

Shares moved over resistance at $8.25 last week and are preparing to move higher. The big decline in March was a $190 million offering of convertible senior notes due 2021 with a conversion price of $9.76. That was a 20% premium to the stock price post announcement.

If the current rebound continues the next material resistance is $12.

Position 6/7/16:

Long UIS shares @ $8.47, no initial stop loss.


Long October $9 call @ 80 cents. No stop loss.

BEARISH Play Updates

GOGO - Gogo Inc - Company Profile


No specific news. Gained a penny.

Original Trade Description: June 11th.

Gogo provided communication services to the commercial and business aviation markets in the U.S. and internationally. They provide in-flight connectivity and wireless digital entertainment solutions to commercial airline passengers to and from North America.

Gogo has had a rough few months as airlines complained about the service and some removed the Gogo service and replaced it with a competitor.

On May 23rd Gogo announced the pricing of $525 million in senior secured notes. On May 26th the stock spiked 20% after the company filed a notice with the SEC saying an unspecified airline had requested a proposal for service to cover its large domestic fleet. Under the proposal Gogo would provide Wi-Fi to a "meaningful" portion of the domestic fleet that is is currently serving. Gogo cancels the $525 million debt sale.

On June 3rd shares plunge as the unspecified airline turns out to be American Airlines and the proposal is far less than expected. American picked ViaSat (VSAT) to provide internet access on 100 new Boeing jets. Gogo updates its SEC filing to say it would provide service on 140 American planes and continue service on 400 others. However, American retained the option to remove Gogo equipment on any American planes at any time. Gogo said it now expects American to remove its equipment on the "mainline" planes over the next several years. American said it was planning on upgrading the service on its planes but had not picked a successor. That means the 100 ViaSat planes will be a live test and will likely replace Gogo. ViaSat provides 12 mbps of bandwidth to each seat while Gogo provides 70 mbps for the entire plane and that bandwidth has to be shared by all passengers. There is a significant difference.

On June 9th Gogo reinstates the $525 million debt offering and priced it at 12.5% after Moody's rated it a B3-PD (Probability of Default) credit.

Earnings Aug 4th.

The future is not bright for Gogo. They are trying to produce a faster service through satellite connections rather than ground based systems but the testing and roll out is not going smoothly. Several years of hostility between passengers and carrier over the slow bandwidth has poisoned the relationships and ViaSat appears poised to take over the market.

Shares closed at a historic low on Friday at $8.97 and the downward trend is likely to continue.

Position 6/13/16:

Short GOGO shares @ $8.99, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

I am not recommending an option but the August $8 put is $75 cents.

JBLU - JetBlue - Company Profile


No specific news. New 17-month low.

Original Trade Description: June 15th.

JetBlue Airways Corporation, a passenger carrier company, provides air transportation services. As of December 31, 2014, the company operated a fleet of 25 Airbus A321 aircrafts, 130 Airbus A320 aircrafts, and 60 Embraer E190 aircrafts. It also served 93 destinations in 28 states in the United States, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and 19 countries in the Caribbean and Latin America.

Business was good until all the airlines began adding capacity at the same time. The discount airlines were particularly aggressive. In order to fill that extra capacity they increased the number of discount seats and overall pricing went down. Now they have plenty of passengers but their revenue per mile has declined. They are still making money but with rising fuel prices they are going to have to raise ticket prices and that will dampen demand.

Last week JetBlue said May traffic measured in revenue passenger miles of (RPMs) rose +10.7% from 3.47 billion to 3.84 billion. Over the prior 12 months available seat miles (ASMs) rose 12.1% to 4.54 billion. The load factor or the percentage of seats filled by passengers declined from 85.7% to 84.6% because the rapid expansion of capacity outweighed the traffic growth generated by the discount tickets. That means the revenue per available seat mile (RASM) declined -7%.

The airline lowered guidance for RASM to decline 7.5% to 8.5% for Q2 compared to prior guidance for a 7% decline. They also lowered ASM growth from 8.5%-10.5% to 8.0% to 9.5%. They do not need to add additional capacity if they cannot fill the seats they already have.

Factor in the strong dollar, rising fuel prices and the increased terrorist activity and the outlook for profits is declining. Since the Belgium airport attack airline traffic has slowed. People do not want to be blown up while waiting in a security line. Add in the Zika virus that has disrupted traffic to Latin America and the Caribbean and that is another reason seats are empty. On the positive side JetBlue was accepted by the DOT to operate scheduled flights to Cuba. However, compared to their total capacity those few weekly flights will not move the needle.

Earnings July 26th.

JBLU shares have already declined significantly. They fell sharply in early May when they reported April traffic numbers. When the numbers did not improve in May they declined again starting on June 10th. JBLU was a rocket ship when it rallied from $5 to $24 in 2015 but we are headed for a round trip with shares back at $16.66 today. It has been a series of disappointing events one after another. I think we will see single digits again soon because of all the events impacting traffic and earnings I discussed above.

Position 6/16/16 with a JBLU trade at $16.50

Short JBLU shares @ $16.49, initial stop loss $17.65


Long September $16 put @ $1.15, no initial stop loss.

Left Over Lottery Tickets

These positions were left over from prior plays where we had an optional option with no stop after the stock position was closed. Rather than close these for a few cents they are left open as a "Lottery Ticket" play. With months before expiration, anything is possible.

These positions are only updated on the weekend.

FDC - First Data - Company Profile


No specific news. Still weak and well off the June highs. We still have a lot of time.

We were stopped out on the stock short on 5/23 there was no stop loss on the option and that position remains open. At the current 5-cent price that is a lottery ticket that the headlines will fade and the original direction will return. This is a July option so plenty of time for a disaster to appear.

Original Trade Description: May 16th.

First Data provides electronic ecommerce solutions for merchants, financial institutions and card issuers worldwide. The operate in three segments including global business solutions, global financial solutions and network & security solutions. This includes retail point of sale solutions, mobile ecommerce solutions and webstore solutions.

In their Q1 earnings, they grew revenue 3% and operating income rose from $185 to $220 million. Earnings of 24 cents were slightly above expectations for 21 cents. Revenue of $1.69 billion was below estimates for $1.71 billion. Unfortunately, FDC has $19 billion in debt compared to its $3 billion market cap. Interest expense in the first quarter was $263 million or more than $1 billion a year.

Global business solutions revenue declined in the quarter while financial solutions and security solutions showed only marginal growth.

Earnings July 21st.

While the company tried to put a positive face on the future by projecting revenue growth, it appears investors were not impressed. Shares have fallen from $13.50 to $10.50 over the last three weeks since earnings. FDC does not provide guidance and that is troubling to some investors.

I am anticipating a retest of the post IPO low at $8.50 or even worse, depending on the market.

Position 5/17/16:

Long July $10 put @ $.60, no stop loss.

Previously closed 5/23/16: Short FDC shares @ $10.69, exit $11.55, -.86 loss.

SQ - Square - Company Profile


No specific news. The Apple Pay announcement sesemed to help Square while it was negative for PayPal. The June call expired giving us a net loss of 15 cents on the entire position.

Original Trade Description: May 7th.

Square develops and provides payment processing, point-of-sale, financial and marketing services worldwide. It provides Square Register, a point-of-sale software application for iOS and Android, which enables sellers to process credit cards for multiple items through their smart device.

The company was knocked for a 22% loss after reporting a Q1 loss of 14 cents compared to estimates for 9 cents. Revenue rose +51% to $379.2 million and beat estimates for $343.6 million. However, operating expenses rose +72% to $207 million. G&A costs rose from $28 million to $96 million because of a $50 million charge for a lawsuit against Robert Morley, who claims to be the creator of the Square card reader.

Square also has a share lockup expiration on Square on May 17th. About 64 million shares will be unlocked and the float will increase nearly three times. A lot of early investors including Visa, Starbucks, Sequoia Capital (5%) and Khosla Ventures (17%) will be able to sell their shares. Given the reduced guidance and rapid decline there may be a race to the exits.

According to the Wall Street Journal, a whopping 69.48% of the shares (14.6 million) are short as of March 15th. Currently the public float is only 21.01 million shares. Source

I was going to recommend shorting the stock into the lockup expiration but the short interest is too high. The cost to borrow the shares would be prohibitive and with that much short interest it could be explosive. Also, I have seen many lockup expirations that have turned into the bottom for the stock. Expectations are so bearish that the stock declines to a ridiculous price before the actual expiration and then there is no selling. Anyone with shares in the lockup could have already shorted the stock to protect those declining shares. When the lockup expires they use their unlocked shares to cover their shorts.

I am proposing we use a combination strategy. I am recommending we buy a May $10 put, which expires three days after the lockup expiration. At the same time I am recommending we buy a June $11 call in expectation for a sharp post lockup rebound. Remember, revenue increased 51% in Q1 and they raised guidance.

If the stock declines, we sell our put for a profit before expiration and that reduces the cost in the call.

Position 5/9/16:

Closed 6/17/16: Long Jun $11 call @ 55 cents, expired, -.55 loss.
Net loss on the position was 15 cents.

Previously closed 5/17/16: Long May $10 put @ 60 cents. Exit $1.00, +.40 gain.

TRN - Trinity Industries - Company Profile


Trinity rebounded on Friday after they announced a settlement with the Federal Highway Safety Association regarding the acceptability of their products for Federal reimbursement.

We have a July call option that is worth 20 cents today. I would bet $20 that it will recover by late July.

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.

Position 3/21/16:

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.

WIN - Windstream Holdings - Company Profile


WIN closed at a seven-week high on Thursday but gave back some of the gains in Friday's weak market. They announced they retired $335 million in debt so far in Q2.

We have an August $9 call and it could end up in the money because that is well into the future. With the option worth only 21 cents today, there is no value in closing it. This is a lottery play that WIN will be above $9 by August.

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.

Update 5/5/16: 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.

Position 3/11/16

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.

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