Option Investor

Daily Newsletter, Thursday, 4/27/2017

Table of Contents

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

Market Wrap

Market Wobbles On Shaky Data

by Thomas Hughes

Click here to email Thomas Hughes


The indices tread water near break-even after weaker than expected economic data raises fear of weak 1st quarter GDP. Both Durable Goods Orders and Pending Home Sales came in below expectations, adding to concerns the economy stalled in the 1st quarter, but neither giving sign of economic meltdown. As I've said in the past, GDP figures are rear-looking so not too important in the overall scheme things. What is important is if the economy is trending higher, and if the forward outlook remains positive, which it does.

International indices were generally buoyed by Trump's tax plan but not overly excited. Asian indices fared best, rising about 0.3% on average led by a 0.49% gain in Hong Kong. European indices were in the red right from the start as traders anxiously awaited the ECB's policy decision and press conference. The bank decided to keep policy unchanged citing downside risk but did make note of improvement within the region. At press conference he himself was positive on the EU economy but qualified his comment saying the ECB had not discussed removing QE measures. Indices in the region closed with losses in the range of -0.25% to -1.15% led by the FTSE International Index.

Market Statistics

Futures were fairly flat for most of the morning and ahead of the ECB announcement. Bias was to the upside however, lifted by earnings with volatility induced by the data. Going into the open the indices were indicated to post small gains which turned out to be roughly 2 points for the SPX. The first hour of trading saw the indices fall to break-even and bounce, the second hour saw them fall back to break-even and then dip below following the release of Pending Home Sales data. The low of the day was set just prior to noon but only about -0.1% below yesterday's close. A small rally formed going into the lunch hour that carried the indices back to the highs of the day, about +0.2%. The high was hit just before 1PM, marking the top of the day's trading range. The indices moved sideways from there, closing near the mid-point, but in positive territory.

Economic Calendar

The Economy

Initial claims rose by 14,000 to hit 257,000. Last week's figure was revised lower by 1,000 for a net gain of 13,000 from last week's report. The four week moving average of claims fell by -500 to hit 242,250 and is just off the 43 year low set a few month ago. On a not adjust basis claims rose by 6.8% versus an expected gain of only 1.3% and are down -1.4% on a YOY basis. Despite volatility in the data over the past 2 to 3 months, and the possibility that initial claims have bottomed, claims remain very low relative to the recovery and consistent with labor market health.

Continuing claims rose by 10,000 to hit 1.988 million, last week's figure was revised lower by -1000. The four week moving average of continuing claims fell by -16,000 to hit a new 17 year low. There has been some volatility in this figure as well but not as bad as with the initial claims. The long-term downtrend remains intact at this time, consistent with ongoing labor market recovery.

The total number of claims fell by -96,380 to to hit 2.081 million, the lowest level since last November. This drop is consistent with long-term and seasonal trends, and evidence of ongoing labor market health. Looking forward we can expect to see this figure continue to decline into the spring, setting a multi-year seasonal low near 1.80 million.

Durable Goods orders were positive, led by transportation equipment, but below expectations. The headline number came in at 0.7% for March versus an expected gain of 1.2% and down from February's 2.3%. Ex-transportation durable orders were down -0.2% in the month versus an expected gain of 0.4%. Shipments and unfilled orders both increased, led once again by transportation, but both also below expectations.

Pending Home sales dipped in March by -0.8%. Despite the decline however, indications within the report suggest that the market is still hot and/or heating up. The numbers were blamed once again to rapidly diminishing inventories of homes, a situation that sooner or later will result in more home-building. On a year over year basis the March number is up 0.8%, and also the 3rd strongest read in the last 12. First time home buyers continue to be priced out of the market as inventory numbers spur increased competition for houses along with rising prices.

The Dollar Index

The Dollar Index held steady and traded in a range nearly identical to that of yesterday's. The index was supported by a slightly weaker euro while the weaker than expected data provided some downward pressure. Today's action was at the bottom of the short-term range, testing support at the $99 level and managing to close above. The index is now waiting for the FOMC meeting next week for direction. Tomorrow's GDP announcement may cause some volatility but should not move the index much unless it sways FOMC sentiment too far in one direction. Looking to next week's meeting there is a chance they will be not be overly hawkish and could cause the dollar to weaken further. A fall below today's level would be bearish with downside target near $97. A bounce will be bullish with upside target near $100 and then $101.

The Gold Index

Between the data, the ECB and ongoing geopolitical concerns gold prices were a bit choppy today but held relatively steady near $1,266. The metal has now pulled back to support at the February high and is waiting for the next move. Fundamentals suggest to me that the risk is to the downside, the US is still on track for economic growth and a stronger dollar which should equate to lower gold prices. The risk is in the geopolitics which has already helped to inflate prices, and in next week's FOMC meeting. A fall below current levels would be bearish with downside targets near $1,250, $1,235 and $1,200. A bounce would be bullish with upside target near $1,300.

The Gold Miners ETF GDX fell nearly -2% despite stability in gold prices. The ETF created a medium sized black candle and is sitting on support just below $22.00. This support is the bottom of the short-term trading range and likely to be tested further. The indicators are both pointing lower with only the barest hints that support is present. A break below this level would be bearish in the near-term with the possibility of short to long-term decline. Downside targets are $21, $20 and $18.50. Should the range hold, resistances are near the short-term moving at $23.30 and the top of the range near $25.

The Oil Index

Oil prices fell today, shedding more than -1% in the process. WTI is now trading near $49 as supply, production and capacity continue to outweigh demand. Today's news included the restart of Libyan production which could add as much as 500,000 BPD to swollen markets and a big build in gasoline inventories, contrary to expectations of a draw. OPEC remains in the back ground, scheming to support prices I am sure, but until something changes oil prices are likely to remain under pressure with a possible move to $45.

The Oil Index continues to wallow at support while oil prices remain in turmoil. The index fell in today's session, losing more than -1% intraday, but managed to confirm support levels once again. Today's move touched support at 1,150 and created a small hammer doji, the 5th time this level has been touched in the past 2 months. Support is in a tight range near the top of last years trading range and has so far been confirmed by the indicators. At this time MACD and stochastic are set up for the weak buy signal, a signal that would confirm with a bounce higher from current price levels. I remain bullish on the sector due to long-term earnings growth outlook but wary in the near-term. A break below today's low would be bearish with downside target near 1,100, a bounce would be bullish but face resistance at 1,200.

In The News, Story Stocks and Earnings

Today was a big day for earnings both before the opening and after the closing bells. Ford reported a top and bottom line beat, but this is of course after they slashed guidance a month or so ago. EPS of $0.39 beat consensus by 3 cents on 3.7% YOY revenue growth. Shares of the stock jumped in premarket action but the gains were taken as a chance for profit-taking/capital preservation which caused shares to sink during the day. Ford closed with a loss near -1.25%.

UPS also beat on the top and bottom lines. The ubiquitous delivery service reported strong US and international results driving 6.2% revenue growth and 3.9% EPS growth YOY. Profit was hit by rising fuel costs, up 43%, but full year guidance was maintained. Shares of the stock opened with a small gain, dipped down to test support, bounced and moved back up to close with a gain near 1.25%

Comcast reported earnings that beat consensus by more than 20% and up 23% from this same time last year. Revenue came in strong as well, up 8.9% and also ahead of expectations. This was driven by a 10% increase in subscriber numbers and strength in the amusement park segment, NBCUniversal. Shares of the stock jumped to a new all-time closing high but created a wicked looking pin-bar in the process.

Earnings action was hot after the close as well. Reports from Google, Amazon and Starbuck top the list. Google and Amazon both reported top and bottom line beats, both fairly substantial, sending shares higher in after hours trading. Amazon gained more than 4.5% on strength in cloud, retail and just about everything they do. Starbucks reported in line with estimates on weak revenue on weaker than expected comp store sales. Shares of the stock fell more than -2.5% on the news.

Also from the tech front were reports from Microsoft and Intel. Intel beat EPS by a penny on as-expected revenue. Shares of the stock fell -2.5%. Microsoft beat by nearly a nickel on a revenue miss, news that sent this stock moving lower by -1.75%. The Indices

The indices were a bit choppy today, but in a very tight range. Te day's leader was the NASDAQ Composite with a gain of 0.39% and a new all-time high. The tech heavy index extended its bounce from the long-term trend line and looks like it could go higher. The indicators are both pointing higher following bullish, trend following, strong entry signals. Upside target is 6,100 in the near to short-term.

The Dow Jones Transportation Average came in second today, up 0.28%, but not setting a new all-time high. Today's action created a medium sized white bodied candle moving up from the support of the short-term moving average. The indicators are generally bullish but showing near-term weakness following the mid-week fall from resistance. A move up from here would be bullish but a break above resistance at 9,300 is needed for entry to new positions. A bounce from this level would confirm the double bottom reversal from the longer term 150 day moving average.

The broad market S&P 500 comes in third today with a gain of 0.05%. The index created a small spinning top doji just below resistance at the current all-time high. It appears set to move higher following a bounce from a long-term trend line but will need to move past resistance. The indicators are bullish following a strong buy signal earlier this week. A break above resistance would be bullish and and trend following with upside target near 2,465 in the near-term.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average made the smallest gain today, only 0.02%. The blue chips created a small doji spinning top just below the all-time high and appears set to move higher. The index has formed a small consolidation within a near-term uptrend that is confirmed by both indicators. Both MACD and stochastic are moving higher following bullish crossovers, consistent with rising prices. A break above the all-time high would be bullish and trend-following with upside target near 21,750.

Despite today's lackluster action the indices appear poised to continue the near, short and long-term rallies. They are moving up off of long-term support levels, supported by the indicators and driven by earnings. So long as the forward outlook for earnings remains intact, and nothing today has changed that, my outlook for the market remains bullish. I'm cautious for the near-term, there is still some resistance to break through, but firmly bullish short to long-term.

Until then, remember the trend!

Thomas Hughes

New Plays

Friday is Decision Day

by Jim Brown

Click here to email Jim Brown
Editor's Note

After two days of monster gains, the indexes have traded sideways for two days. Are we going higher or lower? This has been in interesting week and Friday could provide the exclamation point. The big cap indexes have moved sideways for two days after the massive short squeezes on Monday/Tuesday. Volume is elevated and we could be seeing a distribution process.

The tech titans reported earnings after the close and the Nasdaq futures surged in the afterhours session but have now turned slightly negative. Amazon and Google both gained more than $30 in afterhours and that should suggest a positive open at least for the Nasdaq. However, Microsoft and Intel both declined in the afterhours session.

Friday could either be another blowout day for the Nasdaq or a day of profit taking because all the expectations are over. Everyone was waiting for the tech titans and now there are no catalysts for Friday.

With North Korea and now South Korea back in the news on Thursday we will have the geopolitical event risk fears again on Friday. Given the profits from early in the week, we could see the normal Friday afternoon swoon.

I could not find anything today that was screaming "buy me" and we already have some nicely profitable positions. I have a growing fear that we are eventually going to be hit with a big down day that stops them all out at the same time. I hate to just keep adding positions just because it is a newsletter day. I am suggesting we wait until the weekend when hopefully there will be a little more clarity.


No New Bullish Plays


No New Bearish Plays

In Play Updates and Reviews

Still Bullish

by Jim Brown

Click here to email Jim Brown

Editors Note:

The Russell 2000 and S&P-600 small cap indexes both held their gains after new highs on Wednesday. The failure to sell off in a flat market is a bullish signal. However, we are approaching the weekend event risk window and Friday afternoon could be a challenge.

With North Korea and now South Korea in President Trump's tweets tonight there could be even more risk on Friday. Trump said he was going to terminate the free trade deal with South Korea and force them to pay $1 billion for the THAAD missile defense system the U.S. was installing for free. Never a dull moment. The futures are slightly negative on Thursday evening despite blowout earnings from Amazon and Alphabet.

Because of the impending earnings on HABT, ILG, KRNT and PTCT, I am keeping the stop losses with the intention of being out before their earnings events. Any material dip will cause us to stop out. If we do not get a dip we will close the positions on the day before their earnings.

Current Portfolio

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.

Profit Targets

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

NTNX - Nutanix Inc
The short stock position was entered at the open.

JUNO - Juno Therapeutics
Close the long stock position at the open.

If you are looking for a different type of trading strategy, try these newsletters:

Short term Calls and Puts on equities = Option Investor Newsletter

Credit spreads and naked puts = OptionWriter

Long term option investments = LEAPS Investor

3-6 month Option Trades = Ultimate Investor

Iron Condors = Couch Potato Trader

BULLISH Play Updates

FNSR - Finisar Corp - Company Profile


No specific news. No movement.

Original Trade Description: April 24th.

Finisar Corporation provides optical subsystems and components for data communication and telecommunication applications in the United States, Malaysia, China, and internationally. Its optical subsystems primarily consist of transmitters, receivers, transceivers, transponders, and active optical cables that provide the fundamental optical-electrical or optoelectronic interface for interconnecting the electronic equipment used in communication networks, including the switches, routers, and servers used in wireline networks, as well as the antennas and base stations used in wireless networks. The company also offers wavelength selective switches, which are used to switch network traffic from one optical fiber to multiple other fibers without converting to an electronic signal. In addition, it provides optical components comprising packaged lasers, receivers, and photodetectors for data communication and telecommunication applications; and passive optical components for telecommunication applications. Finisar Corporation markets its products through its direct sales force, as well as through a network of distributors and manufacturers' representatives to the original equipment manufacturers of storage systems, networking equipment, and telecommunication equipment, as well as to their contract manufacturers. Company description from FinViz.com.

We played Finisar several weeks ago and got caught in the downdraft on China worries. Reports out of the sector suggested orders from China had slowed. Shares crashed from $35 to $21 over the period of about six weeks. Raymond James said the selloff is overdone and the worries over China are overblown.

China is on track to network 120 major cities with populations of more than one million. That will take a lot of networking gear. The directives have been given from the governmental level but the actual orders will come from the provincial level. Bids for routing and wireless components have already been submitted and optical equipment is expected to be next in line.

Raymond James said Finisar has the most upside potential with a target of $39 and is cheap with a PE of only 9 times 2018 earnings estimates.

Shares have rebounded the last two days after the Raymond James note to investors.

Earnings June 8th.

Update 4/26/17: The U.S. government expanded its investigation regarding compliance with sanctions programs against Iran, Cuba, Sudan and Syria. The target is China-based Huawei but OCLR, ACIA, LITE and FNSR have similar operations. Last month ZTE, a peer to these companies, pleaded guilty and faces fines of $1.2 billion. If the government is going name by name in their investigation, investors may reconsider their ownership of these companies. At least one analyst said today's dip on sector related news rather than company specific, was overdone.

Position 4/25/17:

Long FNSR shares @ $23.10, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.


Long June $25 call @ $1.20, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

HABT - Habit Restaurants - Company Profile


No specific news. Only a minor decline from the new high. The prior resistance at $18 should now be support. If we can continue higher, the next challenge would be $21 and then $24. The historic high in 2014 was $44. Earnings are May 3rd so we will need to exit soon. I am raising the stop loss.

Original Trade Description: March 22nd.

The Habit Restaurants, Inc., a holding company, operates fast casual restaurants under The Habit Burger Grill name. It specializes in offering fresh made-to-order char-grilled burgers and sandwiches featuring choice tri-tip steak, grilled chicken, and sushi-grade albacore tuna cooked over an open flame; and salads, as well as sides, shakes, and malts. As of March 2, 2017, the company operated approximately 170 restaurants in 15 locations in California, Arizona, Utah, New Jersey, Florida, Idaho, Virginia, Nevada, Washington, and Maryland, the United States; and the United Arab Emirates. The Habit Restaurants, Inc. was founded in 1969 and is headquartered in Irvine, California. Company description from FinViz.com.

Habit reported earnings of 7 cents that beat estimates for 3 cents. Revenue rose 21.8% to $73.9 million. Same store sales rose 1.7%. This was the 52nd consecutive quarter of positive same store sales. They opened 11 company stores and 2 franchises in Q4. The CEO said they were proud of their strong beat considering it is a fiercely competitive environment.

For full year 2017, they guided to revenue of $338 to $342 million, which represents 19.8% growth at the midpoint. The guided for 2% same store sales and the opening of 31 to 33 new company stores alony with 5 to 7 franchised stores. Analysts were expecting $339.2 million.

Earnings June 1st.

Shares spiked from $14 to $16 on the news and then pulled back for two weeks on post earnings depression. They have since recovered that $16 level and are about to break out to a new three month high. Shares dipped on Tuesday but very little and the rebound today erased the dip completely.

Position 3/23/17:

Long HABT shares, currently $15.95, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.
Optional: Long June $17 call @ 70 cents, no initial stop loss.

ILG - ILG Inc - Company Profile


No specific news. Earnings next week so I have raised the stop loss to take us out on any dip.

Original Trade Description: April 8th.

ILG, Inc., together with its subsidiaries, provides non-traditional lodging covering a portfolio of leisure businesses from vacation exchange and rental to vacation ownership. The company operates through two segments, Exchange and Rental, and Vacation Ownership. The Exchange and Rental segment offers leisure and travel-related products and services to owners of vacation interests and others primarily through various membership programs, as well as related services to resort developer clients; and allows owners of vacation ownership interests to exchange their occupancy rights for alternative accommodations at another resort and/or occupancy period. This segment also provides vacation property rental services for condominium owners, hotel owners, and homeowners' associations. The Vacation Ownership segment engages in the management of vacation ownership resorts; and the sale, marketing, and financing of vacation ownership interests, as well as in the provision of related services to owners and associations. As of December 31, 2016, it provided management services to approximately 250 vacation ownership properties and/or their associations. The company was formerly known as Interval Leisure Group, Inc. and changed its name to ILG, Inc. Company description from FinViz.com.

ILG reported earnings of 48 cents on revenue of $455 million. Net income rose from $16 million to $61 million. Earnings rose from 27 cents to 48 cents. Free cash flow was $180 million. Analysts had expected revenue of $464 million and shares fell sharply over the next week. The company guided for full year revenue of $1.72 to $1.86 billion.

They repurchased 6.5 million shares and paid $52 million in dividends to return $153 million to shareholders. They currently pay a 2.83% dividend.

The company has been on an acquisition and renovation binge. They sometimes acquire properties in great locations that have issues and then spend a few million on renovations to turn them into star attractions. In May they completed the acquisition of Vistana Signature Experiences, formerly known as Starwood Vacation Ownership for $1.15 billion in cash and stock. With the transaction, they acquired an 80-year global license for the use of the Westin and Sheraton brands.

Despite their vast holdings and strong revenue they are still a relative unknown in the investment community. However, with their Vistana acquisition along with the Hyatt and St Regis vacation brands they are starting to become known.

Shares have risen $3 in the last four weeks and have begun to accelerate. The company is a member of the S&P-600 but with the acquisition of Vistana it has a market cap over $3 billion and is eligible for inclusion into the S&P-500. That could provide a nice boost to the stock price but it would be pure speculation.There are many companies with a higher market cap that have not been included.

Earnings May 4th.

Position 4/10/17:

Long ILG shares @ $21.28, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

Optional: Long June $22 call @ 60 cents.

JUNO - Juno Therapeutics - Company Profile


Juno revised the earnings date to May 4th. With the futures negative and JUNO not moving, I am recommending we close this position.

Original Trade Description: April 17th.

Juno Therapeutics, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company, engages in developing cell-based cancer immunotherapies. The company develops cell-based cancer immunotherapies based on its chimeric antigen receptor and T cell receptor technologies to genetically engineer T cells to recognize and kill cancer cells. Its CD19 product candidates include JCAR017 that is in Phase I/II trials for adults with relapsed or refractory (r/r) B cell aggressive non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) and pediatric patients with r/r B cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL); JCAR014, which is in Phase I/II trials to treat various B cell malignancies in patients relapsed or refractory to standard therapies; and JCAR015 that is in Phase II trials for adult patients with r/r ALL. The company's CD22 product candidate comprise JCAR018, which is in Phase I trial for pediatric and young adult patients with CD22-positive r/r ALL or r/r NHL. Its additional product candidates include CD171, a cell-surface adhesion molecule to treat neuroblastoma; Lewis Y for the treatment of lung cancer; JCAR023, which is in Phase I trial for patients with refractory or recurrent pediatric neuroblastoma; MUC-16, a protein for treating ovarian cancers; IL-12, a cytokine to overcome the inhibitory effects; ROR-1, a protein for the treatment of non-small cell lung, triple negative breast, pancreatic, and prostate cancers; WT-1, an intracellular protein that is in Phase I/II clinical trials to treat adult myeloid leukemia and non-small cell lung, breast, pancreatic, ovarian, and colorectal cancers; and IL13ra2 for treating glioblastoma. Juno Therapeutics, Inc. has collaboration agreements with Celgene Corporation, Fate Therapeutics, Inc., Editas Medicine, Inc., MedImmune Limited, and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Company description from FinViz.com.

Juno shares were hammered in March after they reported they were ending a trial early on a hot new CAR-T drug they had expected to do well. The Phase II Rocket Trial of JCAR015 was paused twice and finally ended early after two patients died from swelling in the brain. The CAR-T process involves removing T-cells from their blood and reengineering them to recognize cancer cells from acute lymphoblastic leukemia and kill them. Once the modification is complete, they are re-injected into the patient so they can go to work. In this particular case the brain swelling was a side effect.

However, that is not the only drug in process at Juno. They will have more than 20 trials in progress by the end of 2017 on a variety of anticancer drugs. The company has nearly $1 billion in cash and a burn rate of about $200 million a year. They are in no danger of running out of money and they have dozens of partnerships and collaborations contributing money for research.

Earnings May 31st.

Over the last three weeks Juno has not declined. The stock is continuing to move slowly higher with resistance currently at $25. Once through that level the next resistance is $33.

With the biotech sector selling off every other day you would have expected JUNO to be reactive to those moves but the stock continues to climb.

Position 4/19/17 with a JUNO trade at $24.55

Long JUNO shares, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

No options due to price and strike availability.

KRNT - Kornit Digital - Company Profile


No specific news. Another new historic high close. I wrote yesterday the pattern of higher lows and lower highs was building to a breakout or breakdown and we got the breakout today.

Original Trade Description: April 5th.

Kornit Digital develops, manufactures and markets industrial digital printing technologies for the garment, apparel and textile industries. Kornit delivers complete solutions, including digital printing systems, inks, consumables, software and after-sales support. Leading the digital direct-to-garment printing market with its exclusive eco-friendly NeoPigment printing process, Kornit caters directly to the changing needs of the textile printing value chain. Kornit’s technology enables innovative business models based on web-to-print, on-demand and mass customization concepts. With its immense experience in the direct-to-garment market, Kornit also offers a revolutionary approach to the roll-to-roll textile printing industry: Digitally printing with a single ink set onto multiple types of fabric with no additional finishing processes. Founded in 2003, Kornit Digital is a global company, headquartered in Israel with offices in the USA, Europe and Asia Pacific, and serves customers in more than 100 countries worldwide. Company description from Kornit.

The company description pretty much says it all. They have developed a process to print on fabric that is fast and cheap and the company is setting new highs as the demand for their product increases.

The company reported earnings of 16 cents on a 33.4% increase in revenue to $34 million. There was a secondary offering in January that raised $38 million for the company and was very oversubscribed.

The big spike in early January was news the company granted Amazon warrants to buy up to 2.9 million shares at $13. Since KRNT only has 31 million shares outstanding that is nearly a 10% position in the company. The warrants came after Amazon placed an order for a "large number" of textile production systems for Amazon's own use in the Merch by Amazon program.

Earnings May 16th.

Shares made a new high on March 31st and they closed within 10 cents of that high on Thursday. Shares have risen over the available option strikes so this will be a stock only position.

Position 4/7/17:

Long KRNT shares @ $19.00, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

PTCT - PTC Therapeutics - Company Profile


No specific news. New 7-week high close.

Original Trade Description: April 19th.

PTC Therapeutics, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company, focuses on the discovery, development, and commercialization of orally administered, small molecule drugs that target post-transcriptional control processes. The company's lead product is Translarna (ataluren), for the treatment of nonsense mutation Duchenne muscular dystrophy in ambulatory patients; and which is in phase III clinical trials to treat cystic fibrosis caused by nonsense mutations. It also develops Translarna, which is in Phase II clinical trials for the treatment of mucopolysaccharidosis type I caused by nonsense mutation, nonsense mutation aniridia, and nonsense mutation Dravet syndrome/CDKL5; and RG7916 that is in Phase I clinical trials to treat spinal muscular atrophy. In addition, the company's product candidate in cancer stem cell program include PTC596, an orally bioavailable and potent small molecule, which has completed phase I clinical trials that targets tumor stem cell populations by reducing the activity and amount of a protein called BMI1. PTC Therapeutics, Inc. has collaborations with F. Hoffman-La Roche Ltd and Hoffman-La Roche Inc., and the Spinal Muscular Atrophy Foundation to develop and commercialize compounds identified under its spinal muscular atrophy sponsored research program; and research collaboration with Massachusetts General Hospital for the treatment of rare genetic disorders resulting from pre-mRNA. Company description from FinViz.com.

PTC suffered two hits in March. The first was a failed drug trial on a Cystic Fibrosis drug. That drop knocked shares down from $13 to $10. Drug trials fail all the time and that is just the risk of owning a drug company.

On March 15th, the company announced it was buying a Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) drug named Emflaza from Marathon for cash and stock. Companies buy rare drugs from other companies all the time. This particular drug had just created a hornet's nest of controversy after Marathon priced it at $89,000 per year. There had been a monster uproar over the pricing and even Bernie Sanders got into the act saying it should be $1,000 a year. For PTC to jump into the hornet's nest with a $140 million upfront purchase before the drug even succeeds in the market caused investors to flee the stock.

Here is the key point. The drug is in a class called corticosteroids that are anti inflamatories used all around the world to treat DMD as well as other diseases. The drug can be cross marketed and sold for multiple applications besides DMD.

The drug is new and was just approved by the FDA in February. When Marathon priced it at $89,000 right in the middle of the drug price happenings in Washington, they were forced to pause the launch to re-evaluate the price. PTC arrived on the scene and solved their problem.

Now PTC is evaluating the "correct" pricing for the drug and shares are rebounding from their headline induced crash.

Update 4/20/17: The company announced they had completed the acquisition of Emflaza earlier than expected.

Earnings June 15th.

PTC shares broke through resistance on Wednesday to close at a two month high at $11.39. Resistance is now $14 to give us a potential $2 window.

Position 4/20/17:

Long PTCT shares @ $11.43, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

No options due to prices and wide spreads.

USO - US Oil Fund ETF - ETF Profile


No material movement in crude prices. The USO dipped at the open but returned to neutral in the afternoon.

Original Trade Description: April 22nd.

The United States Oil Fund LP (USO) is an exchange-traded security designed to track the daily price movements of West Texas Intermediate ("WTI") light, sweet crude oil. USO issues shares that may be purchased and sold on the NYSE Arca.

The investment objective of USO is for the daily changes in percentage terms of its shares NAV to reflect the daily changes in percentage terms of the spot price of light, sweet crude oil delivered to Cushing, Oklahoma, as measured by the daily changes in price of USO's Benchmark Oil Futures Contract, less USO's expenses.

USO's Benchmark is the near month crude oil futures contract traded on the NYMEX. If the near month futures contract is within two weeks of expiration, the Benchmark will be the next month contract to expire. The crude oil contract is WTI light, sweet crude oil delivered to Cushing, Oklahoma.

USO invests primarily in listed crude oil futures contracts and other oil-related futures contracts, and may invest in forwards and swap contracts. These investments will be collateralized by cash, cash equivalents, and US government obligations with remaining maturities of two years or less.

Oil prices fell -6% last week after Wednesday's inventory report failed to show a significant decline in crude inventories. Complicating the problem was the expiration of crude futures on Thursday. That means everyone long for the EIA report had to dump their position immediately to avoid expiration.

I expect the price of crude to return to $54 over the next several weeks. That equates to $11.25 or higher on the USO ETF. The ETF closed at $10.32 on Friday. I am recommending we buy the $10.50 call, currently 42 cents and plan to double our money and exit.

Oil prices will rise because refineries are restarting production after their normal two-month maintenance period centering on March. Oil inventories will begin to decline sharply in the coming weeks as they begin to fill the system with summer blend fuels before Memorial Day.

You could also just buy the USO ETF for $10.32 but you will get a better return using the option. I would not recommending buying a $10 stock with the intention of making 75 cents.

Position 4/24/17:

Long Jun $10.50 call @ 40 cents, no stop loss.

BEARISH Play Updates

NTNX - Nutanix Inc - Company Profile

Nutanix Inc provides next-generation enterprise cloud platform that converges traditional silos of server, virtualization and storage into one integrated solution and can also connect to public cloud services. Nutanix makes infrastructure invisible, elevating IT to focus on the applications and services that power their business. The Nutanix Enterprise Cloud Platform leverages web-scale engineering and consumer-grade design to natively converge compute, virtualization and storage into a resilient, software-defined solution with rich machine intelligence. The result is predictable performance, cloud-like infrastructure consumption, robust security, and seamless application mobility for a broad range of enterprise applications. Company description from FinViz.com.

While their company description sounds good, they are having trouble conveying that image to the business community and to investors. When they reported earnings back in March they beat on the top and bottom but guided significantly lower for the next quarter.

They reported a loss of 28 cents compared to estimates for a loss of 35 cents. Revenue exploded higher by 77% to $182.2 million and beating estimates for $178.3 million. They added 900 customers to bring their total to 5,380.

They guided for a current quarter loss of 45-48 cents and analysts were expecting a loss of 35 cents. Revenue was only expected to rise to $185 million from the $182.2 million in the prior quarter.

Earnings June 1st.

The company has only been public for 7 months and it closed at a historic low on Wednesday. The short covering in the broader market this week barely had any impact on NTNX shares. Insiders have been selling shares like crazy. Lightspeed Ventures a 10% owner, liquidated their position in early April.

There was a press release at 7:PM tonight about a successful installation at a customer location. I doubt it will have any impact but it may give us the opportunity to short the shares a few cents higher. If the stock gaps up, adjust the stop loss accordingly.

Position 4/27/17:

Short NTNX shares @ $15.76, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

VXX - Volatility Index Futures - ETF Description


New historic low close. If the market bullishness continues, the VXX should continue to bleed points. However, we should expect the potential for a 2-point rise if the market tanks on the fiscal battles on Friday. Long term, the VXX always goes down.

Original Trade Description: April 12th.

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 done 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.

The VXX has rebounded $3 over the last week as the volatility returned. The VIX traded over 16 today and could hit 18 if there are any geopolitical events over the Easter weekend.

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 market 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 know from experience that the VXX always declines. The last time we shorted this ETF we had a $7.23 gain.

Position 4/13/17:

Short the VXX @ $17.98, no stop loss because it always declines eventually.

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