Option Investor

Daily Newsletter, Monday, 5/1/2017

Table of Contents

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

Market Wrap

Mayday! Trump Talk Rattles Market

by Thomas Hughes

Click here to email Thomas Hughes


The May 1st calm was shattered when President Trump revived fears he would break up the big banks, and a buying opportunity was created. The news came in an interview with Boomberg in which the President reiterated his campaign pledge to enact a new Glass-Steagall type law and curbed today's trading, but did not cause a major meltdown. Traders are focused on this week's upcoming events more than Trump's rhetoric. The FOMC is due to release their latest policy decision Wednesday afternoon, the NFP will be released on Friday and in-between nearly a quarter of the S&P 500 will release earnings.

Asian indices were mixed but more positive than not as stocks struggle for direction ahead of the week's events. The Hong Kong and Korean markets were the notable losers although several markets were closed for May Day festivities. European indices were less buoyant, treading water near Friday's close on weak oil prices, earnings and expectations for events later this week.

Market Statistics

Futures trading indicated a positive open all morning, about 6 points for the SPX. The trade was fairly steady in early hours with only a ripple or two following today's economic data. The data was positive just not quite as positive as expected. The open was as expected, first trade on the SPX was about 5 points above last week's close although the market began to sell off within the first few minutes of trading. Selling persisted through the first 45 minutes of trading, taking the SPX down to its low of the morning just above break even. The market bottomed at this point and bounced back to set a new intra-day high which held until nearly 1PM, at which time Trump's comments to Bloomberg hit the airwaves.

Trump's comments sparked a quick sell-off which took the indices down to test support which, in the case of the SPX, was just above the early low. This proved to be a knee-jerk reaction and entry point for bullish traders who consequently sent the indices shooting back up to set new highs for the day and a new all-time high for the NASDAQ Composite. The daily high was hit at 2PM and the market trend sideways from there into the close of the day.

Economic Calendar

The Economy

We had a fairly busy day for a Monday in terms of economic data. Personal Income and Spending were released before the open, ISM Manufacturing PMI and Construction Spending were released at 10AM. Personal Income were both positive for the month of March but both missed consensus by a tenth, +0.2% on the income side and +0.1% on the spending end. Disposable Personal Income rose by 0.2% as well. Looking to inflation, PCE prices fell -0.2% on the month to month basis but are up 1.8% YOY.

Construction Spending fell by -0.2% March versus expectations of a gain. Consensus was in the range of +0.4% with high estimates near 0.6%. Despite the decline in March spending is still up 3.6% year over year. Residential building leads the charge, up 1.2% for the month and up 7.3% YOY

ISM Manufacturing PMI was released at 10AM and is the first macro-data of the 2nd quarter. The headline figure declined -2.4% to 54.8 but remains firmly expansionary. Within the report New Orders fell -7.5% to 57.5 showing strong but slowing growth, Production expanded 1% to 58.6% and Employment fell -6.9% from last months surprise 58.9 to 52.

Moody's Survey of Business Confidence jumped more than 1% to 34.5% and the highest level since November 2015. Mr. Zandi says confidence is rock solid and buoyant. Nearly half of respondents say that their number one concern is regulatory/legal while a fifth say availability and cost of labor are their number one problem.

With nearly 60% of the S&P 500 reporting the season is looking pretty good. Of those who have reported 77% have beaten earnings estimates while 68% have beaten revenue estimates, both numbers trending above their respective 5 year averages. The blended rate is moving higher jumping nearly 3% in the last week to 12.5% and the high end of my target range. To date 8 of the 11 sectors are beating expectations led by the industrials.

Looking forward outlook remains positive and expansionary but the numbers continue to shift. In the nearer term growth is expected to slack off from this quarter's strength to 8.1% in the 2nd quarter, hold steady into the third at 8.3% and then begin expanding again in the 4th quarter to 12.8%. In the longer term growth outlook remains strong and expansionary, full year 2017 estimate has risen above 10% in the last week and expected to expand to nearly 12% in 2018.

The Dollar Index

The Dollar Index held within a tight range for the 5th day in a row, trading around and closing above the $99 level. The index is at the bottom of its short-term trading range and wound up waiting on the FOMC. Current support is the 50% Retracement of the Sept-Jan bull market and dependent on forward outlook. Economic data has been coming in a tad on the soft side which has allowed rate hike speculation to cool off. The FOMC is still expected to raise rates twice this year, the 3rd hike is coming into question, so their outlook and this week's data will go a long way toward swaying the market. A dovish sounding Fed could easily allow the DXY to fall below support with downside targets at $97.75 and $96.25. A hawkish sounding Fed, or hotter than expected data, could cause a bounce with upside targets near $100 and $101 in the near to short-term. The CME Fedwatch Tool shows a 4% chance of hike at this meeting and a 70% chance of hike at the next.

The Gold Index

Gold prices began to correct last week as flight-to-safety inducing geopolitical fears began to ease. Fear is still present and providing some support but it is diminished. Today spot gold fell another -0.75% as fears continue to ebb, today's driver the deal to avoid US Government shut-down and soft economic data/FOMC outlook. Spot price fell below $1,260 today and looks like it will retest support at $1,250 at least. A break below there would be bearish with downside targets near $1,235 and $1,200.

The gold miners sank under the weight of falling gold prices, the miners ETF GDX posting a loss near -2.25%. The ETF is sitting on support and forming a consolidation at $21.75 that could lead to further downside. The indicators are both pointing lower suggesting that support will be tested again in the least. The caveat is that the FOMC meeting, the data or geopolitics could put a bid back into gold on sinking dollar value or flight-to-safety. A break below $21.75 would be bearish but may hit support as early as $21.15, a break below there would be more firmly bearish with downside target near $19.

The Oil Index

Oil prices fell more than -1% as US rig counts rise to a 2 year high and global production rises. WTI fell a little more $0.50 to trade below $49. Some weak data from China last week added to our own weak data helped to reduce demand outlook as well and add downward pressure. The only thing to save oil prices now are strong data later this week or a shiny brand new OPEC deal for whatever it may be worth. Without evidence to support prices downside target is $45 in the near to short-term.

The Oil Index fell about a quarter percent in response to oil's decline but remains above support. Support continues to be the top of the short-term trading range of 2016 in the range of 1,150 to 1,170. The index still looks like it wants to bottom but is being dragged down by prices. In the near-term prices will remain a burden but so long as the long-term earnings outlook remains positive I will maintain a bullish outlook, with oil prices on the way down I'm cautious in the near-term. A break below support would be bearish with potential to take the index down to 1,100 and the bottom of last year's range.

In The News, Story Stocks and Earnings

Dish Network reported before the bell, missing on the top line but beating on the bottom. The satellite TV provider reported EPS up 10% from last year on revenue that declined and missed expectations. The reason for the miss was declining subscriber numbers driven by greater than expected losses and less than expected new users. Shares of the stock fell more than -2%.

The banks took a dive on Trump's comments but quickly bounced back. The BKX Banking Index had been trading positive ahead of the event, quickly dropped down to test support at the previous days close and then bounced back to close with a gain of 1%. The candle formed is a small bodied green candle with visible upper and lower shadows with interpretation similar to a spinning top or weak doji. The candle does provide some confirmation of support at the short-term moving average which when combined with the other indicators appears to be setting up for a move higher. Both stochastic and MACD are bullish and consistent with strong support with possibility of higher prices. A bounce from here would be bullish but need to break resistance at the $95 level.

The VIX fell today and set a new low dating back to February of 2007. It also dipped briefly below $10, setting a low of $9.90. The index is indicative of historically low options prices relative to the S&P 500 and hints at buying opportunities in the market. The indicators are bearish and suggestive of lower prices with room to move lower. A move below $10 would be monumental and may attract an influx of new money to the market, if it didn't precipitate a correction on the assumption it-can't-get-any-better-than-this-so-get-out-while-you-can.

The Indices

The indices displayed a little volatility today, but only a little. Prices were first supported by optimism and proved resilient in the face of weaker than expected data, Trump comments and a big week of data and earnings on tap. The day's leader is the NASDAQ Composite with a gain of 0.73%. The tech heavy index set a new all-time closing and intraday high and looks like it could continue higher. The indicators are both moving higher with plenty of room to run. Upside target is 6,200.

The S&P 500 made the second largest gain, 0.18%. The broad market created a small white bodied candle within a small consolidation just shy of all-time highs. The indicators both confirm a move higher, reconfirmed today by stochastic when %K bounced up off the upper signal line, all we need now is a break out. A break to new highs would be bullish with upside target near of 2,475 in the near-term.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average comes in third today with a loss of -0.12%. The blue chips hovered around break-even all day and tried to move higher but were just not able to do it. Today's candle is small and black bodied, testing for support at the top of the gap formed last Tuesday. The indicators are bullish but showing near-term weakness consistent with near-term entry points within short to long-term up trends. If the index continues to drift lower support is just below along the long-term up trend-line. If the index decides to move higher upside target is the current all-time high and possibly higher.

The Dow Jones Transportation Average posted a loss of -0.30% after opening with a small gain. The index appears to be trapped inside short-term trading ranges and today's move a continuation of downward movement begun last week. The indicators are consistent with a range-bound asset and one moving lower within the range, neither showing strength or indicative of direction. If the index continues to move lower support is along the long-term 150 day moving average where strong bounces have produced what still may turn out to be double-bottom reversal. A move higher from here would confirm support at the short-term moving average and by extension the aforesaid double-bottom with upside targets at 9,300 and 9,600.

The indices look like they are in process of extending near, short and long-term trends. This time the rally appears to be led by the all-time high setting NASDAQ Composite and lagged by the under-performing transports. These trends are supported by economic and earnings outlook with only this week's events standing in the way. I doubt anything will happen to derail the long-term bull market but there is a chance for correction in the near to short-term if the economy appears to be cooling, or earnings outlook dims. Tomorrow is light on data but heavy on earnings, the next day heavy with both including the FOMC meeting. I remain firmly bullish for the long-term and cautious in the near, waiting for the Fed wave the flag signaling all-clear ahead.

Until then, remember the trend!

Thomas Hughes

New Plays

Earnings Surprise

by Jim Brown

Click here to email Jim Brown
Editor's Note

Oil companies have been beating estimates for Q1 for more than one reason. Whiting beat and raised guidance.


WLL - Whiting Petroleum - Company Profile

Whiting Petroleum Corporation, an independent oil and gas company, engages in the development, production, acquisition, and exploration of crude oil, natural gas liquids, and natural gas primarily in the Rocky Mountains region of the United States. It sells oil and gas to end users, marketers, and other purchasers. As of December 31, 2016, the company had total estimated proved reserves of 615.5 million barrels of oil equivalent; and interests in 1,917 net productive wells on approximately 517,200 net developed acres. Whiting Petroleum Corporation was founded in 1980 and is based in Denver, Colorado. Company description from FinViz.com.

Whiting reported an adjusted loss of 15 cents and analysts were expecting a loss of 22 cents. Revenue of $371.3 million beat estimates for $361.4 million. Production of 10.6 million Boe beat guidance of 10.4 million Boe. Lease operating expenses declined from $9.00 to $8.56. General and administrative expenses declined from $3.15 to $2.34 and interest expenses declined from $4.80 to $3.83 per share.

Earnings July 26th.

The company raised guidance for the year for multiple reasons. They just completed a three-well Loomer pad in North Dakota using advanced completion models with longer laterals and 8.9 million pounds of sand in each well. The resulting production suggests each well will produce 1.5 million Boe over their productive life. That is 50% higher than other wells in the area. That equates to roughly $75 million in revenue from each well with an initial cost of about $9 million each.

Whiting plans to apply this completion method to all its 2017 wells while continuing to test and improve on the model.

Also helping Whiting is the recently completed Dakota Pipeline that President Trump approved a couple months ago. That makes it considerably easier to transport oil out of the Bakken and at a lower cost.

Whiting raised full year guidance to 45.2 to 46.2 million Boe but did not raise the capex expectations. The production guidance was raised because of the better completion methods. This will be a 23% increase in production from Q1 start to Q4 end.

Energy companies have been hammer recently with oil prices falling back under $50. This is a temporary situation. The refinery maintenance cycle was longer than normal and the restart just accelerated over the last two weeks. Inventories last week declined -3.6 million barrels and they should continue to decline sharply over the next four months. Prices will rise as the summer driving season begins.

I think the September $9 option is too expensive at $1.13 and the $10 option is expensive as well. The June options are a short fuse with earnings after expiration. The tradeoff suggests the short term June would be the best play.

Buy WLL shares, currently $8.54, initial stop loss $7.50.
Optional: Buy June $9 call, currently 56 cents. No stop loss.

Entry disclaimer: To avoid an unfavorable entry point, we will not launch a new play if the stock gaps open more than $1.00 at the market open.


No New Bearish Plays

In Play Updates and Reviews

No Conviction

by Jim Brown

Click here to email Jim Brown

Editors Note:

The Russell 2000 rebounded 7 points but that was after a 17-point decline on Friday. The small cap indexes dipped further at the open but the dip was bought with low volume. Once they rebounded into positive territory, the gains slowed.

This was a buyer boycott ahead of Apple's earnings on Tuesday and the Fed rate decision on Wednesday. The mornings economic reports disappointed and that may have soured sentiment slightly.

Today's move does not tell us anything. The Dow and the Dow Transports declined, all the other indexes with the exception of the Nasdaq posted minor gains. The Nasdaq indexes both gained more than 40 points.

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

BBRY - BlackBerry Ltd
The long position was entered at the open.

The long position was stopped out at $23.95.

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BULLISH Play Updates

BBRY - Blackberry - Company Profile


No specific news. CEO was on CNBC this morning talking about accelerating transition to a software service company. Video of interview

Original Trade Description: April 28th.

Research In Motion Limited designs, manufactures, and markets wireless solutions for the mobile communications market worldwide. The company was renamed Blackberry Ltd in an effort to change its public identity. The company's products include BlackBerry smartphones and accessories, including bundles, cases, audio and memory products, Bluetooth, chargers, batteries and doors, and card readers; SureType, a keyboard technology, which allows users to compose messages using single-handed operation or two-handed thumb-typing; and SurePress, a touch screen that helps in navigation and typing. Its products provide access to time-sensitive information, including email, phone, short messaging service, and Internet and intranet-based applications. The company's products also enable third party developers and manufacturers to enhance their products and services with wireless connectivity to data. Blackberry Limited markets and sells its products directly, as well as through strategic partners and distribution channels. It has a strategic alliance with Hewlett-Packard Company to deliver a portfolio of solutions for business mobility on the BlackBerry platform. Company description from FinViz.com.

Blackberry has evolved from a hardware vendor to a software company. They no longer produce their own phones and their main product is a secure software interface that is used by security conscious governments and firms everywhere.

Blackberry has moved from just a phone company to multiple product lines including software packages for automobiles. Blackberry just signed a new deal with Ford to use the Blackberry QNX software. The software has been deployed in more than 60 million vehicles. BlackBerry is a mobile-native security software and services company dedicated to securing people, devices, processes and systems for today's enterprise.

The Blackberry phones now run an Android operating system. The Blackberry KeyONE was just launched in the UK with a 4.5 inch screen above a traditional Blackberry keyboard. The device will go on sale in May in the rest of the world. The phone has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 chipset, 3gb of RAM, 12MP rear camera, 8MP front camera, Android 7.1 and a 3,505mAh battery for long life. Blackberry phones fill a niche for those who want an actual keyboard and/or greater security than you can get in other phones.

In their recent earnings the CEO said Blackberry was looking at opportunities for branded tablets, wearables, medical devices, appliances, point of sale terminals and other smartphones. The key point is that Blackberry security software will be integrated into all Blackberry branded items even though they will be made by over companies. That makes them low risk, all reward, opportunities.

They announced a couple weeks ago they had been awarded $814 million in royalty overpayments plus attorney's fees and interest from Qualcomm. The arbitration proceeding has been in process for a long time. This is a major infusion of cash for Blackberry.

Shares spiked to $9 on the award. After some initial profit taking they have started to rise again and closed at a new 52-week high on Friday.

Earnings June 30th.

Position 5/1/17:

Long BBRY shares @ $9.34, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

Optional: Long July $10 call @ 35 cents. No stop loss.

FNSR - Finisar Corp - Company Profile


No specific news. Decent gain in a mixed market.

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.

Update 4/28/17: Stifel Nicolaus lowered their price targets on LITE, FNSR, FN and OCLR but maintains a buy rating. The new target on FNSR declined from $39 to $33 with shares at $23. The analyst cut the targets based on the slowness in bid requests from China's governments on the 120 city networking project.

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.

ILG - ILG Inc - Company Profile


No specific news. The morning drop hit our tight stop and we are safely out of the position before Thursday's earnings. This was a very good position for us.

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:

Closed 5/1/17: Long ILG shares @ $21.28, exit $23.95, +$2.67 gain

Closed 5/1/17: Long June $22 call @ 60 cents, exit $2.55, +$1.95 gain.

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


Crude fell 50 cents on news Iran was ready to extend supply cuts. This should have been bullish for prices.

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


No specific news. Shares posted a 5% decline to a new historic low.

Original Trade Description: April 26th.

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 closing low. If the market bullishness continues, the VXX should continue to bleed points. 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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