The Russell 2000 surged +31 points on Friday to close within 2 points of a historic high. The big cap stocks rested on Friday with alternating positive and negative periods. The Russell 2000 triggered massive short covering when it moved past strong resistance at 1,255.
I warned on Thursday the market was due for a rest and we got that in the big caps but they managed to close positive for the day with the exception of the S&P, which closed with a 3 point loss.
Unfortunately, we are still due for some additional profit taking before we move significantly higher in 2016. The gains are just too strong in a short period of time.
Stop Loss Updates
Check the graphic below for any new stop losses in bright yellow.
We need to always be prepared for an unexpected decline.
Check the graphic below for any profit stops in green.
We need to always be prepared for a profit exit at resistance.
Current Position Changes
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BULLISH Play Updates
MENT - Mentor Graphics - Company Profile
No specific news. Another nice gain in a positive market. New closing high.
Original Trade Description: October 13th.
Mentor Graphics Corporation provides electronic design automation software and hardware solutions to design, analyze, and test electro-mechanical systems, electronic hardware, and embedded systems software worldwide. It offers printed circuit boards; Mentor Graphics Scalable Verification tools; Questa platform to verify systems and integrated circuits (ICs); FastSPICE, Eldo, and ADVance MS analog/mixed signal simulation tools; and Veloce hardware emulation system. Further, the company provides software, tools, and professional engineering services; and methodology development, enterprise integration, and deployment services. It sells and licenses its products through direct sales force, distributors, and sales representatives to the communications, computer, consumer electronics, semiconductor, networking, multimedia, military and aerospace, and transportation industries. Company description from FinViz.com.
Billionaire Paul Singer, head of Elliott Management, announced on Sept 29th his firm was taking an active 8.1% stake in Mentor Graphics. In the SEC filing Elliott said there are "strategic opportunities" available at MENT and he is going to force a sale. Singer is no stranger to activist investing. Since 1994 he has launched 114 campaigns and 14 proxy fights when companies do not take his advice and get the M&A ball rolling. Elliott has $27 billion under management and Mentor only has a $3 billion market cap. If the board does not take action quickly, Elliott could launch a proxy fight to get enough people on the board that will take action. As a relatively small company, Mentor is in the crosshairs and there is very little chance for escape.
Shares spiked in the middle of the day on Thursday after TheStreet posted an article explaining Elliott'
s game plan. The close at $27.92 was a 15-year high. Since Elliott announced his position at $24.69 the shares have risen about $3.50 with $2 of that the first day. Elliott is in for the long term and they will not be bailing on a $3 gain. They have a much larger goal in mind.
Earnings Nov 17th.
A lot of investors follow these activist funds and I would expect the stock to continue to rise as the headlines appear. More than 7,000 Jan $30 calls were bought today against an open interest of only 3,944.
Because of the afternoon spike I was going to put an entry trigger on the position just over the afternoon high. However, the S&P futures are down hard again tonight and maybe we will get an opportunity to buy the stock lower so I did not add the trigger. Support is $26.
Long Jan $30 call @ $1.35, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.
Previously Closed 11/1/16: Long MENT shares @ $28.54, exit $28.25, -.29 loss
RCII - Rent a Center - Company Profile
No specific news. New 4-week high.
Original Trade Description: November 9th.
Rent-A-Center, Inc., leases household durable goods to customers on a rent-to-own basis. The company operates through four segments: Core U.S., Acceptance Now, Mexico, and Franchising. It offers durable products, such as consumer electronics; appliances; computers, including tablets; smartphones; and furniture, including accessories under rental purchase agreements. The company also provides merchandise on an installment sales basis; and offers the rent-to-own transaction to consumers who do not qualify for financing from the traditional retailer through kiosks within retailer's locations. It operates retail installment sales stores under the Get It Now and Home Choice names; and rent-to-own and franchised rent-to-own stores under the Rent-A-Centre, ColorTyme, and RimTyme names. As of December 31, 2015, the company owned and operated approximately 2,672 stores in the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico, including 45 retail installment sales stores; 1,444 Acceptance Now kiosk locations in 40 states and Puerto Rico; 532 Acceptance Now direct locations; and 143 stores in Mexico, as well as franchised 227 rent-to-own stores in 31 states under the Rent-A-Center, ColorTyme, and RimTyme names. Company description from FinViz.com.
For Q3, the company posted earnings of 11 cents compared to estimates for 9 cents. Revenue of $693.9 million missed estimates for $698.4 million. Same store sales fell -8.4% but that was actually better than the 9.8% estimates. For the full year they guided to earnings of $1.05-$1.15 and revenue of $2.07 to $2.10 billion.
On the surface those results were terrible. The CEO said the "Q3 earnings were negatively impacted by unexpected capacity-related system outages following the full implementation of our new store information management system within our core U.S. stores" and he was "terribly disappointed." Fortunately, the problem is now behind them and Q4 is normally a strong quarter.
Earnings Jan 25th.
Shares crashed from $13 to $8 on the earnings and have now rebounded over the last four weeks to $11. The trend over the last month has been steady and there is no reason to expect that to change over the next month. If the market is going to be positive now that the election uncertainty has passed, then the stock should do well.
Position 11/10/16 with a RCII trade at $11.25
Long RCII shares @ $11.25, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.
Long Dec $12.50 call @ 20 cents, no stop loss.
BEARISH Play Updates
EBAY - Ebay Inc - Company Profile
Ebay was up with the Nasdaq today. It was also up as news broke that people who bought the new NES Classic Edition game console for $59 before it sold out, are now selling them on Ebay for $200 to $500. Amazon is still advertising them at $59.95 but when you click on the link the page will not load because the traffic is so high.
Original Trade Description: October 31st.
eBay Inc. operates e-commerce platforms that connect various buyers and sellers worldwide. Its platforms enable sellers to organize and offer inventory for sale; and buyers to find and buy it virtually anytime and anywhere. The company's Marketplace platforms include its online marketplace at ebay.com and the eBay mobile apps; and StubHub platforms comprise its online ticket platform at stubhub.com and the StubHub mobile apps, which enable fans to purchase tickets to the games, concerts, and theater shows. Its Classifieds platforms include a collection of brands, such as Mobile.de, Kijiji, Gumtree, Marktplaats, eBay Classifieds, and others that offer online classifieds and help people find whatever they are looking for in their local communities. The company platforms enable users to find, buy, sell, and pay for items through various online, mobile, and offline channels, which include retailers, distributors, liquidators, import and export companies, auctioneers, catalog and mail-order companies, classifieds, directories, search engines, commerce participants, shopping channels, and networks. Company description from FinViz.com.
For more than a decade Ebay has been the primary sales hub on the web but as Amazon and others grew, Ebay fell out of favor. There are very few new items left for sale on Ebay because you can buy they cheaper from Walmart, Target or Amazon. That left Ebay to struggle to increase sales on mostly used items.
In Q3 Ebay earnings fell from $545 million and 45 cents to $418 million and 36 cents. For Q4 they expect revenue of $2.36-$2.41 billion and earnings of 52-54 cents. Analysts were expecting $2.4 billion and 54 cents. For the full year, they are now guiding for $1.85-$1.90 and $8.95 to $9.0 billion. Analysts were expecting $1.89 and $8.95. For both Q3 and the full year analysts were expecting more than the Ebay guidance.
Shares fell 18% on the news to $28.61 then rebounded two days later to $29.71. That rebound has faded and EBAY closed at $28.51 on Monday with support well below at $24.
There is just no excitement surrounding EBAY today. Since they spun off PayPal they have been struggling to grow the business. I believe shares will retest the $24 level unless we get a runaway tech rally after the election. I am not holding my breath.
Long Dec $28 put @ .72, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.
Previously closed 11/10/16: Short EBAY shares @ $28.51, exit $28.75, -.24 loss.
VXX - Volatility Index Futures - ETF Description
The VXX rallied on the crash in the big cap tech stocks. This should be temporary but the market is due for a rest.
Since this is a long-term play, I am not going to comment on it every day. Just forget it is in your portfolio and hope for a strong market rally in Q4.
Original Trade Description: September 6th.
The VXX is a short term volatility product based on the VIX futures. As a futures product it has the rollover curse. Every time they roll to a new futures contract they have to pay a premium and that lowers the price of the ETF. It is a flawed product with a perpetual decline built in from the monthly roll over in the futures contracts.
As evidence of this flaw, they have now down four 1:4 reverse stock splits. The last four reverse splits occurred at $13.11 (11/2010), $8.77 (10/2012), $12.84 (11/2013), $9.52 (8/8/16). The prospectus says it can reverse split anytime it trades under $25 for a prolonged period and the splits will always be 1:4.
After the August split the ETF moved sideways for four weeks at $36. I think everyone was waiting for the typical August volatility. When it did not show up and the market rallied on Friday that support broke. And the decline has begun.
Because there may be some September volatility, anyone in this position must understand that it may move higher before it moves lower BUT it will always move lower. We just have to wait it out. Volatility never lasts forever.
Unfortunately, put options are expensive with a volatility instrument at this price level. The only recommendation is to short the ETF and forget it. If we do get a prolonged rally as some are expecting we could see strong gains in the next 2-3 months. This will be a long-term position. This is not a 2-3 week play. I can guarantee you, if history holds, we can play this until it splits 1:4 again at $10. Once we are in the position and profitable I will put a trailing stop loss on it. We will take profits and then look for a bounce to get back in. We could keep this play in the portfolio on a trading basis permanently.
Short VXX shares @ $33.88, no initial stop loss.
No options recommended because of price.
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. A strong move in a single stock can be well worth the additional patience.
These positions are only updated on the weekend.
HOV - Hovnanian Enterprises - Company Profile
No specific news. Our Feb $2 call only cost 20 cents so we can afford to wait for a recovery.
Original Trade Description: July 27th.
Hovnanian Enterprises, Inc. is a builder of residential homes. The Company designs, constructs, markets and sells single-family detached homes, attached townhomes and condominiums, urban infill, and active lifestyle homes in planned residential developments. It markets and builds homes for first-time buyers, first-time and second-time move-up buyers, luxury buyers, active adult buyers and empty nesters. The Company has two distinct operations: homebuilding and financial services. The Company, excluding unconsolidated joint ventures, is offering homes for sale in 196 communities in 34 markets in 16 states throughout the United States. The Company's financial services operations provide mortgage loans and title services to the customers of its homebuilding operations.
Prior to the financial crisis HOV was an active buyer of land and had extensive holdings when the crash appeared. The decline in home buying and the change in the mortgage business caused them to be very over extended as a result of the crash. Since 2009 they have liquidated a lot of land holdings, built out and sold a lot of properties and have consolidated their efforts and reduced costs significantly.
For Q2 they reported a loss of 6 cents, which was less than half the 13-cent loss in the year ago quarter. Revenues rose 39.6% to $654.7 million. For the first 6-months of the fiscal year revenues rose 34.5% to $1.23 billion. The $7.9 million loss was well below the $25.2 million loss in the year ago quarter. The number of active contracts rose +0.9% to 1,812 homes with the value of the contracts rising 16% to $1.4 billion. The number of contracts in the first six months of fiscal 2016 rose 7.3% to 3,343. The total contract backlog at the end of the quarter was $1.58 billion, up 27.8% from the $1.23 billion at the end of fiscal Q2 2015. As of April 30th, they controlled 34,997 lots.
They paid off $233.5 million in debt over the prior two quarters and ended the period with $125.6 million in liquidity. Since the end of the quarter liquidity has risen $75.1 million due to closings and joint venture funds received. They also paid off another $86.5 million in debt that matured in May.
CEO Ara Hovnanian said, "While our revenue grew 40% and Adjusted EBITDA increased over 220%, as we said last quarter, we remain focused on deleveraging our balance sheet and maximizing our profitability rather than on additional growth. Since October 15, 2015, we have paid off $320 million of debt. More importantly, we continue to believe that we will have the liquidity to pay off the remaining debt maturities through the end of 2017. We are certain that we are taking the correct steps that will best position our company for future success. While it is discouraging to report a loss for the first half of fiscal 2016, it is nevertheless a significantly reduced loss, and we anticipate our profitability in the second half of the year will more than offset this loss."
With the low mortgage rates and the rising number of home sales, I do expect HOV to return to profitability by the end of the year. It has been a long 7 years but they are finally getting rid of the accumulated debt and are riding the wave of new home buyers.
Stocks typically begin to rise about 6-months before widely predicted events. If HOV expects to post profits in Q3/Q4 now is the time to buy the stock. At $1.87 per share I look at it as a LEAP option that does not expire. This is not going to be a rocket stock. This is a buy it and forget it position until year end. Once we are in the position I will track it in the Lottery Play portfolio each weekend. Shares traded at $7 in 2013-2014 and could easily return to that level once they post those profits.
Update 9/9/16: HOV reported Q2 earnings of zero compared to estimates for 6 cents. Revenue rose +32.6% to $716.9 million. For the full year the company guided to revenue of $2.7 to $2.9 billion and analysts were expecting $2.75 billion. The sold or joint ventured 21 communities to reduce their active selling communities from 214 to 193. This impacted revenue as the older communities were culled from the active business. They sold 1,467 homes in Q2 and slightly less than the 1,658 in the same period in 2015, also the result of selling some communities. Their order backlog rose 7.7% to $1.48 billion. There are 3,232 homes currently contracted to be built. They delivered 1,574 homes in the quarter, a +11.8% rise. After paying off $320 million in debt their cash position was $187.7 million. They acquired about 900 lots in the quarter in 20 different communities. They guided for a solid profit in the current quarter of $32-$42 million before some expenses including land acquisitions.
Do not back up the truck on this position just because the stock is cheap. Unexpected events do happen. Just buy a few hundred shares and we will shoot for a return to $6 or a 400% gain.
Long February $2 call @ 20 cents. No stop loss.
Previously Closed 10/17/16: Long HOV shares @ $1.86, closed $1.61, -.25 loss.
HUN - Huntsman Corp - Company Profile
No specific news. New 52-week high on Thursday. Minor decline on Friday. Our $20 call expires next Friday so it will take a strong move to finish in the money.
We were stopped out of the long position on HUN shares on Sept 8th. We have a left over November $19 call.
Original Trade Description: August 23rd.
Huntsman Corporation manufactures and sells differentiated organic and inorganic chemical products worldwide. The company operates in five segments: Polyurethanes, Performance Products, Advanced Materials, Textile Effects, and Pigments and Additives. The company's products are used in various applications, including adhesives, aerospace, automotive, construction products, personal care and hygiene, durable and non-durable consumer products, electronics, medical, packaging, paints and coatings, power generation, refining, synthetic fiber, textile chemicals, and dye industries. Huntsman Corporation was founded in 1970.
They reported Q2 earnings of 53 cents that beat estimates for 52 cents. Revenue of $2.54 billion matched estimates. They generated more than $350 million in free cash flow and made an early repayment of $100 million in debt. They also announced they were selling some of its European facilities and would use the proceeds to repay debt. They sold a manufacturing facility to Innospec Inc for $225 million and the transaction is expected to close in Q4. Huntsman will remain a raw materials supplier to the facilities once the transaction is completed.
They are also planning to close their titanium dioxide manufacturing (TiO2) facility in South Africa in addition to spinning off their remaining TiO2 business in early 2017. The closure/spinoff will save $200 million.
Update 10/28/16: Huntsman reported earnings of 38 cents that beat estimates for 35 cents. Revenue of $2.36 billion missed estimates for $2.49 billion. Free cash flow was $300 million after an early repayment of $100 million in debt. The announced the filing of a Form 10 registration statement for a spinoff og the Pigments, Additives and Textile Effects businesses expected to occur in the first half of 2017.
The earnings, restructuring and debt repayment plans have given the stock a positive bias. Shares broke over resistance on Tuesday to trade at a 52-week high. The next material resistance is $23.
Earnings Oct 26th.
Position 8/30/16 with a HUN trade at $17.65
Long Nov $19 call @ 54 cents. No stop loss.
Previously Closed 9/8/16: Long HUN shares @ $17.65, exit $16.65, -$1.00 loss.
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