Option Investor

Daily Newsletter, Thursday, 6/1/2017

Table of Contents

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

Market Wrap

Data Dump Lifts Stock

by Thomas Hughes

Click here to email Thomas Hughes


A holiday shortened week resulted in a massive data dump today, and the news is good. Not only that, good news turned out to be good news and the market moved up to set new all-time highs.

International indices were a bit mixed on weak data from China. The non-official Caixin PMI came in at a contractionary 49.6 raising fear of economic slow-down in the worlds 2nd largest economy. Economist had been expecting a number closer to 50.5, the actual reading is an 11 month low. The Nikkei led the region with a gain of more than 1%, Chinese indices closed mixed and near the flat on the day. European indices were firmly positive if cautious on political and economic optimism. News of the day is a significant upward revision to Italy's 1st quarter growth which has added to expectations the ECB will begin discussing additional tapering measures next week.

Market Statistics

Futures were flat for most of the early electronic session but began to lift as we approached the release of economic data. Data was released throughout the morning beginning with the Challenger report at 7:30 and ending with ISM at 10AM, each providing indication of health in the economy. The open saw a bit of action that caused some volatility but resulted in a slightly higher open, an hour of consolidation and then a steady march to new highs. Gains were broad if volume was light, market breadth was in the range of 5 to 1 advancers to decliners.

Anticipation of Trump's withdrawal from the Paris Accord cast a shadow over trading but did not hinder it. Gains were capped late afternoon while waiting for the official press conference but upward momentum resumed once it began. Trump withdrew as expected with the addendum negotiation for reentry were already underway.

Economic Calendar

The Economy

Lots of data today, beginning with the 7:30AM release of the Challenger Gray & Christmas report on planned lay-offs. The number of planned lay-offs surged by 41% in April and 71% YOY but there are several mitigating factors. First, most of the gains were due to Ford which just announced a massive job cutting program. Second, the next largest contributor of gains was the retail sector which has been shedding jobs all year. Third, the year to date number of job cuts is still below last year, down -28% with this month's data. Fourth, Ford refuted Challenger's numbers saying they were cutting less than a tenth of the jobs as stated in the report. The part of this report that I really like is the plans for hiring. Plans for hiring are up 25% for the month, 215% over the same month last year and +500% for the year-to-date period.

Initial claims for unemployment gained 13,000, a little more than expected, to hit 248,000. This is on top of an upward revision of 1,000 to last week's data. The 4 week moving average of claims gained 2,500 to hit 238,000 and is just off a long-term 44 year low. On a not adjusted basis claims rose 7.5% versus an expected 1.5% but remain down by -8.6% on a year over year basis. These figures remain consistent with labor market health.

Continuing claims for unemployment fell by -9,000 to 1.915 million from last week's upwardly revised figure. Last week's figure was revised higher by 1,000. The four week moving average of claims fell by 16,000 to hit 1.914 million, a new low dating back to January 12, 1974. These figures remain in downtrend, consistent with labor market health and improvement.

The total number of claims for unemployment rose by 3,244 to hit 1,822. This week's rise in claims could signal the expected seasonal bottom and right on schedule. There may be another week or so of decline before moving higher but we can expect to see it begin to creep up before the end of June. Regardless, this week's figure is -11% below last year's figure and consistent with ongoing labor market health and improvement.

ADP data was released today and was much better than expected. The headline number is 253,000 new jobs in May versus an expected 180,000. The gains were led by services with just over 205,000 jobs, and by small and medium sized business. This is the 3rd highest level of the year, the 4th highest in the past 12 months and nearly 500% above this same month last year. This figure is also consistent with labor market health and improvement.

Construction spending figures were released at 10AM and paint a mixed picture. The headline figure shows a -1.4% decline in the March to April period versus an expected increase, the year-over-year comparison shows spending up 6.7% from last year. Residential spending fell -0.9% for the month but is up 15.6% over the same month last year.

ISM Manufacturing came in at 54.9 for May, a gain of 0.1% from the previous month and better than expected. Within the report all segments show expansion and acceleration. New Orders are up 2% to 59.5%, production is up 1.5% to 57.1%, employment is up 1.5% to 53.5% and inventory is up 0.5% to 51.5%. This is the 96th month manufacturing PMI has been positive.

Auto sales were released throughout the day on a manufacturer by manufacturer basis. Early indications were mixed but generally better than expected; Ford beat with +2.2% versus -1.2%, GM missed with -1.3% versus up 3.1% and Fiat-Chrysler beat with -1% versus -4%. The official May sales rate is 16.6 million.

The Dollar Index

The dollar got a boost from today's economic data. The Dollar Index gained 0.35% in a move confirming support at the $97 level. The $97 level is emerging as a near-term support level and showing signs of strength ahead of the NFP tomorrow, the ECB next week and the FOMC the week after. At this time FOMC rate hike expectations are firming which should lift the index, but so are ECB tapering expectations which is keeping the index from moving higher. I expect to see volatility over the next 2 weeks but any move higher or lower will likely be short-lived until after the FOMC meeting.

The Gold Index

Gold prices fell under pressure of stronger dollar but geopolitical concerns continue to add support. Spot gold fell nearly a full percent in today's session but rebound from the lows to close with a loss near half that. Spot price is hovering between $1,260 and $1,270 waiting for economic data, the effects of ECB/FOMC action on the dollar and of course geo-political events. The $1,270/$1,275 is emerging as resistance, a break above here would be bullish near-term with upside target at $1,300.

The gold miners continue to trend sideways within short-term trading ranges. The Gold Miners ETF GDX moved exactly sideways today, creating a small green candle completely within yesterday's range near the center of the narrowing short-term trading range. The ETF appears to be winding up within this range with a focus on the FOMC meeting. Support is $21, resistance near $23 but declining quickly. The indicators are consistent with a trading range and trending near the mid-points of their respective ranges, indicative of directionless trading. A break of this range is likely to influence price direction in the near to short-term at least; upside target is $25.50, downside target is $18.50.

The Oil Index

Oil prices were volatile today, surprise surprise. Inventory data showed a surprise draw-down in US crude stockpiles that initially had prices moving higher although the move did not last. The draw-down was a bit more than expected but seasonally consistent so not the bullish catalyst it could have been. This, along with doubts over OPEC's ability to support prices left the market vulnerable. WTI is trading near $48.25 and looks like it could go lower without something positive to support it. Tomorrow's rig count is not likely going to do it.

The Oil Index gained a little more than a half percent in today's session reconfirming support at 1,120. This is the mid-point of last year's trading range, today's bounce the second such since price retreat back to this level. I am watching this level for signs of reversal as it is a strong area of support and the sector still has robust forward earnings growth outlook, today's action is promising but not enough to trade on just yet. The indicators are bearish in the very near-term, pointing lower and suggesting a retest of support, but divergences exist which suggest there is support at this level. A bounce from this level would be bullish but need additional confirmation for bullish entry. A break would be bearish.

In The News, Story Stocks and Earnings

Conagra made headlines overnight on reports it had approached Pinnacle Foods as a takeover target. Conagra is a leading provider of packaged foods and has been working to focus on premium labels, Pinnacle is the power behind Birdseye, Duncan Hines and other national brands so the move is in line with their goals. Credit Suisse analysts see 'enormous synergies' in the deal and Conagra paying a significant premium for Pinnacle should the deal go through. The news had both stocks moving in premarket action and that continued throughout the day. Pinnacle gained nearly 4%, Conagra nearly 3.5%.

Dollar General reported earnings before the bell and beat on the top and bottom line. The discount store reported a 6.5% increase in revenue with a 0.7% increase in comp store sales that both came in ahead of expectations. Forward guidance was maintained with the caveat of it increasing should an expected store purchase move forward. Shares of the stock jumped nearly 6% to a 3 month high.

Lululemon reported after the bell. The maker of yoga pants beat on the top and bottom lines and was able to raise forward guidance. The company says revenue rose 5% YOY, reported EPS of $0.32 is 14% better than consensus estimates Gross margins were also better than expected, as was comp store sales which fell only -1% versus an expectation closer to -2%. Shares of the stock rallied on the news and gained 10% in after hours trading.

The Indices

The indices moved higher today and closed near the highs. The move was not strong but it was decisive and without hesitation. Today's leader was the Dow Jones Transportation Average which gained close to 1.25% creating a medium sized green candle. The index is moving up following a break of the short-term moving average and hit a potential resistance target today. Resistance is a previous all-time high near 9,300 and needs to be broken to maintain a bullish stance. A move above resistance would have a target at the current all-time high near 9,650.

The NASDAQ Composite closed with a gain near 0.80% and set a new all-time high. The tech heavy index created a small green bodied candle with indicators in support of higher prices. Both stochastic and MACD are pointing higher following bullish trend following signals and suggest prices will continue higher in the near-term. Upside target is 6,400.

The S&P 500 comes in third today with a gain near 0.75%. The broad market index created a small green bodied candle moving up from a long-term up trend line and set a new all-time high. The index is in up trend and supported by the indicators. Both stochastic and MACD have fired bullish trend following signals and are pointing higher in support of higher prices. Upside target is 2,480 in the near-term.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained a little more than 0.65% and set a new all-time closing high. The blue chips created a long green candle moving up from near-term support but capped at the underside of a long-term up trend line. The intersection of this line is coincident with the current all-time highs and may provide significant resistance. A break above this line would be bullish and trend following with upside target in new all-time high territory. The indicators are bullish if weak and consistent with higher prices.

Tomorrow's data could be a game changer although I do not expect it to be bad. Far from it in fact. The NFP could be strong, expectation is 185K, and based on today's ADP, the hiring portion of the Challenger report, the ISM employment component and just about every other employment indicator there is a chance it could be much stronger than expected.

The indices are moving up to new highs and the indicators support the move. The only thing I can is that the move, at this time, still looks a little weak so I have to remain cautious in my bullishness. This does not mean I'm out of the market, just that my positions are small while I wait on a stronger signal from the charts.

Until then, remember the trend!

Thomas Hughes

New Plays

Bad News Increasing

by Jim Brown

Click here to email Jim Brown
Editor's Note

Sometimes every day brings another negative headline and there seems to be no escape. Synchronos is having one of those years.


No New Bullish Plays


SNCR - Synchronos Technologies - Company Profile

Synchronoss Technologies, Inc. provides cloud solutions and software-based activation for connected devices worldwide. The company's products and services include cloud-based sync, backup, storage and content engagement capabilities, broadband connectivity solutions, analytics, white label messaging, and identity/access management that enable communications service providers, cable operators/multi-services operators, original equipment manufacturers with embedded connectivity, and multi-channel retailers, as well as other customers to accelerate and monetize value-add services for secure and broadband networks and connected devices. It also provides Synchronoss Enterprise solutions, such as secure mobility management, data and analytics, and identity and access management solutions for the financial, telecommunications, healthcare, life sciences, and government sectors; and Synchronoss Personal Cloud platform that delivers an operator-branded experience for subscribers to backup, restore, synchronize, and share their personal content across smartphones, tablets, computers, and other connected devices. In addition, the company offers software as a service for the organizations to securely manage, control, track, search, exchange, and collaborate on sensitive information inside and outside the firewall. Its products and platforms are designed to enable multiple converged communication services to manage across a range of distribution channels, such as e-commerce, m-commerce, telesales, customer stores, indirect, and other retail outlets. The company markets and sells its services through direct sales force and strategic partners. Synchronoss Technologies, Inc. was founded in 2000 and is headquartered in Bridgewater, New Jersey. Company description from FinViz.com.

SNCR was supposed to report earnings on May 9th. Instead, on April 27th they announced that the new CEO and CFO were leaving unexpectedly after only a few months on the job. The prior CEO and founder and the prior CFO would return to help get the company through some rough times.

The company also announced that expected revenue for Q1 would be $13-$14 million less than prior guidance. Operating margins of 8% to 10% would also be less than prior guidance. Earnings will be on May 9th and everything will be explained on the call.

On May 8th the company announced it was rescheduling the earnings date for May 15th.

On May 15th, they announced they would not be releasing earnings and they had no projected date. Apparently, the founder and CEO for 17 years along with his partner the prior CFO were having problems reconciling some items and the auditor Ernst & Young was "suggesting" additional reviews of critical accounting procedures.

This is just speculation but when a new CEO and CFO suddenly depart after only a few months, it may have been because they uncovered a hornets' nest of problems and determined they did not want to be associated with the company. We will never know if that is correct or not. However, when the prior CEO for 17 yrs and CFO for 13 yrs, cannot immediately reconcile the books after only being away for a few months, that suggests additional problems. These are the kinds of things that get auditors really interested and they start poking into things they glossed over before.

On May 22nd, the company received the warning of impending delisting by the Nasdaq. This is a boilerplate type event triggered by the failure to file and they have until November to correct the problem, but itis just one more thing on their plate.

Shares had already been falling since the weak earnings in January. They closed around $25 before the first announcement broke. They declined to $11 then rebounded to $19 on the hope that the prior CEO/CFO would quickly get the company back on track. Now the stock is back at 7 year lows and the bad news just keeps piling up.

If they had a projected earnings date, I would feel better about their recovery. We are now nearly a month late on the financials and no news is flowing. SNCR could be headed a lot lower because the eventual news could be bad. Rarely do earnings delays result in positive news.

This has to be a stock only play because the options are too expensive.

Sell short SNCR shares, currently $12.64, initial stop loss $13.64.

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.

In Play Updates and Reviews

Monster Rebound

by Jim Brown

Click here to email Jim Brown

Editors Note:

The Russell 2000 rebounded 41 points, more than 3% from Wednesday's 1,355 low. That was an amazing recovery from being the weakest index to one of the strongest. This proves the declines over the prior two days were end of month related. If the rebound can continue and close over 1,400 it would be very bullish.

The S&P spiked 18 points to post a major blowout over resistance at 2415-2420. If the S&P can hold these gains or even add to them on Friday it would be very bullish. The Dow finally gained some traction to gain 135 points and closed at a new high at 21,144. There are positive signs breaking out all over. Even the Dow Transports are on the verge of a new three-month high.

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

FRAC - Keane Group
The long position was entered at the open.

VSI - Vitamin Shoppe
The short stock position was stopped at $11.85.

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

BBRY - Blackberry - Company Profile


Short seller Citron Research issued a buy recommendation on Blackberry saying their automotive software is a game changer for the company. With an installed base of 60 million, QNX already has four times the number of cars as Mobileye when Intel bought them for $15 billion. Citron thinks BlackBerry shares could double and they could be an acquisition target now that their focus has changed to software. Shares rallied 8% to a new 52-week high.

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.

Update 5/1/17: CEO was on CNBC this morning talking about accelerating transition to a software service company. Video of interview

Update 5/4/17: TechCrunch reviewed the new BlackBerry phone and said it was the one they should have introduced 10 years ago. CNBC also did an article on it. Read it Here

Update 5/15/17: Blackberry is actually profiting from the WannaCry malware. The company pivoted to a software security firm a couple years ago and they offer security for both mobile and enterprise applications.

Update 5/16/17: Blackberry is working with at least two automakers on security software that would monitor the car's operating system and warn the driver if the system has been hacked. This is going to be very important in the future as self-driving cars become more plentiful. The system is currently being tested by Aston Martin and Range Rover. The virus software would cost drivers $10 a month. Blackberry software is already running in millions of cars. Shares exploded higher.

Update 5/17/17: Blackberry announced new mobile software to allow crisis managers, police forces, fleet managers, etc, to always know where their personnel are located. The AtHoc Account is an authorized solution for Federal government FedRAMP applications. The software merges inputs from managers, call center operators, data streams from HR and travel systems as well as self reporting by individuals.

Update 5/22/17: BBRY is exploding higher. I am not going to raise the stop loss because I think they have turned the corner and we could be looking at $20 in the future. $11.25 is two-year resistance and it closed just over that level today. Three-year resistance is $16. The next step up from there is $30. BlackBerry has completely changed its business model and is no longer a phone company. People are finally catching on and I am sure there are plenty of shorts left to cover. Now that a monster move has begun there will probably be a lot of price chasers as well.

Update 5/24/17: BlackBerry currently has more than 60 million QNX operating systems installed in late model cars and expects to license another 36 million in 2017. With U.S. auto rates around 18 million a year, that shows how BlackBerry has infiltrated the overseas markets as well. Shares were down slightly after an article in Forbes suggested Microsoft and Apple could compete for this marketplace in the years ahead.

Update 5/27/17: Blackberry and Qualcomm reached a final agreement on the arbitration award on overpaid royalties. The final award will be $940 million and wil be paid to Blackberry on May 31st. Qualcomm will deduct some royalties due from 2016 and Q1-2017 but Blackberry will receive most of the money. That includes $125 million in interest and attorney's fees. Qualcomm had originally agreed to cap certain royalties under their original licensing deal years ago but then demanded Blackberry pay anyway. In this case Blackberry prevailed.

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.

FRAC - Keane Group - ETF Profile


No specific news. Shares up with oil prices.

Original Trade Description: May 31st.

Keane Group, Inc. provides full-service completions that include hydraulic fracturing, wireline, coiled tubing, and nitrogen units. It also offers drilling and well construction services that include top hole air rig packages and cementing. The company was founded in 1973 and is based in Houston, Texas. Company description from FinViz.com.

Investors are fleeing energy stocks and analysts are talking about $40 oil. This is ridiculous. All the major players, EIA, IEA, OPEC, Wood MacKenzie, etc all believe global inventory levels are declining by 700,000 bpd thanks to the OPEC production cuts. There are challenges where production is increasing. Libya is ramping up production after years of dormancy because of the civil war. The U.S. is ramping up production we well. These facts are constantly quoted by the bears. What they do not tell you is that global demand is expected to increase between 1.2 and 1.4 million bpd in 2017. With the summer driving season now underway, that demand will begin to surge. Inventory levels in the U.S. have declined -19 million barrels over the last 7 weeks. Now that driving season is here they will begin to decline at a faster rate.

In order for U.S. production to increase there needs to be an increase in fracking capacity. Much of that capacity was cold stacked in 2016 after the oil crash. Today there is not enough capacity and prices are surging.

Keane Group is an oil field service company that just came public in January. The dual oil crashes in March and May, crushed the stock back from $23 to $12. When they reported earnings in early May they were reactivating fracking capacity at a frantic pace. They went from 15 operating fleets to 19 fleets over the last quarter and are still in the progress of reactivating the rest.

In late May they announced the acquisition of RockPile Energy, another oilfield service company and fracking operator. The acquisition will increase Keane's fleet of frackers by 26% and it will be one of the largest and most modern pressure pumping fleets in North America. They will have about 1.2 million hydraulic fracturing horsepower available.

The evolution of hydraulic fracturing in the U.S. over the last three years has been remarkable. The horizontal laterals on the wells are longer with most now in the range of 10,000 feet. The amount of sand and chemicals forced into the wells have increase by a factor of four or more, which means more horsepower, bigger sand capability and better technology. The frackers are going to be in high demand for years to come because producers have figured out how to produce oil and be profitable under $50.

Keane's shares have declined from the IPO price but over the last month they have been rising while all the other energy stocks have been declining. This is proof that frackers are in high demand and investors are understanding the production curve.

Expected earnings August 1st.

Weekly inventories are due out on Thursday morning. If there is another big decline the oil price meltdown could end as quickly as it began.

Because this is a new stock, the option spreads are wide and dangerous. If FRAC performs as expected, we will be ok. If not there could be a substantial penalty in stopping out of an option position. For that reason the alternative option position will not have a stop loss.

Position 6/1/17:

Long FRAC shares @ $15.34, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.
Alternate position: Long July $17.50 call @ 45 cents. No stop loss.

KTOS - Kratos Defense - ETF Profile


No specific news. Shares faded from Wednesday's gains.

Original Trade Description: May 24th.

Kratos Defense & Security Solutions, Inc. provides mission critical products, solutions, and services in the United States. The company operates through three segments: Kratos Government Solutions, Unmanned Systems, and Public Safety & Security. The Kratos Government Solutions segment offers microwave electronic products; satellite communications; technical and training solutions; modular systems; and defense and rocket support services. The Unmanned Systems segment provides unmanned aerial, ground, and seaborne, as well as command, control, and communications systems. The Public Safety & Security segment designs, engineers, deploys, operates, integrates, maintains, and operates security and surveillance solutions for homeland security, public safety, critical infrastructure, government, and commercial customers. The company serves national security related agencies, the department of defense, intelligence agencies, and classified agencies, as well as international government agencies and domestic and international commercial customers; and critical infrastructure, power generation, power transport, nuclear energy, financial, IT, healthcare, education, transportation, and petro-chemical industries, as well as government and military customers. Kratos Defense & Security Solutions, Inc. was founded in 1994 and is headquartered in San Diego, California. Company description from FinViz.com.

Kratos builds drones for target practice for the U.S. military. They are also building drones for combat for air to air and air to land. They also provide communication systems for missiles, satellites and various other platforms.

China and Russia are rapidly militarizing space and Kratos is working with the U.S. military to improve satellite communication to defend against attacks. The DoD is currently spending a lot of money to prepare for war in space. Kratos owns and operates a global satellite demonitoring business with revenues rising 61% in Q1.

Kratos expects to build $30 to $40 million in unmanned target drones for the Navy in the 2017 budget. That is per batch of BQM-177 drones and there is the potential for multiple batches.

Kratos has so many new programs in operation it would be impossible to list them here and several of them are secret programs for unnamed clients.

Kratos guided for a return to profitability in Q2 and sharply rising revenue for the full year. Shares spiked 30% in the four weeks after Q1 earnings. Their next report is August 3rd. I am recommending we buy an option and hold over the report. If the earnings are as positive as they teased in the Q1 report we could see another sharp reaction. This company is in all the right places for the increase in defense depart spending.

I am not recommending a stock position given the sharp gains already.

Position 5/30/17:

Long August $12.50 call @ 59 cents, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

STM - STMicroelectronics - Company Profile


No specific news. Minor decline and still holding over support.

Original Trade Description: May 6th.

STMicroelectronics N.V., together with its subsidiaries, designs, develops, manufactures, and markets semiconductor products, and subsystems and modules worldwide. The company offers a range of products, including discrete and standard commodity components, application-specific integrated circuits, full-custom devices and semi-custom devices, and application-specific standard products for analog, digital, and mixed-signal applications, as well as silicon chips and smartcards. It also provides subsystems and modules, including mobile phone accessories, battery chargers, and ISDN power supplies for the telecommunications, automotive, and industrial markets; and in-vehicle equipment for electronic toll payment. The company sells its products through its distributors and retailers, as well as through sales representatives. Company description from FinViz.com.

STM is Europe's third largest semiconductor maker. They posted a surge in revenue growth after six years of declines thanks to IoT, phones, automotive and industrial demand. Revenue is expected to grow 12.3% in Q2 and the company said it was on track to meet 2017 objectives. The CEO said, "Entering the second quarter, we continue to see healthy demand, with strong booking trends across all our product groups and regions."

They reported revenue of $1.821 billion that rose 12.9% and matched analyst estimates. Earnings of 12 cents missed estimates for 14 cents. The company said it would webcast its Capital Markets Day on Thursday.

Earnings July 27th.

Shares closed at a new high on Friday and the turnaround excitement is building. A positive analyst day on Thursday could send it higher. Shares rallied from November through February and then went dormant in Mar/Apr. Now that the consolidation is complete, they are surging again.

Position 5/08/17: Long July $17.50 call @ 65 cents, no initial stop loss.

Position 5/18/17: Long STM shares @ $16.25, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

Previously closed 5/17/17: Long STM shares @ $16.34, exit $16.25, -0.09 loss.

WTW - Weight Watchers - Company Profile


No specific news. Nice gain to a new 52-week closing high.

Original Trade Description: May 13th.

Weight Watchers International, Inc. provides weight management services worldwide. The company operates in four segments: North America, United Kingdom, Continental Europe, and Other. It offers a range of products and services comprising nutritional, activity, behavioral, and lifestyle tools and approaches. The company also engages in the meetings business, which presents weight management programs, as well as allows members to support each other by sharing their experiences with other people experiencing similar weight management challenges. In addition, it offers various digital subscription products, including Weight Watchers OnlinePlus and a weight management companion for Weight Watchers meeting members to digitally manage the day-to-day aspects of their weight management plan, as well as provides interactive and personalized resources that allow users to follow weight management plan. Further, the company provides Personal Coaching, an online subscription product that offers one-on-one telephonic, e-mail, and text support and personalized planning from a Weight Watchers-certified coach, as well as offers access to other online tools. Additionally it offers various products, including bars, snacks, cookbooks, food, and restaurant guides with SmartPoints values, Weight Watchers magazines, SmartPoints calculators, and fitness kits, as well as third-party products, such as activity-tracking monitors. The company also licenses the Weight Watchers brand and other intellectual property in frozen foods, baked goods, and other consumer products, as well as endorses selected branded consumer products; and engages in publishing magazines, as well issues other publications, such as cookbooks, and food and restaurant guides with SmartPoints values. It offers products through its meeting and franchisee business, as well as online. Weight Watchers International, Inc. was founded in 1961. Company description from FinViz.com.

Weight Watchers posted a Q1 profit of 16 cents compared to estimates for a 4-cent loss. Revenue of $329.1 million rose 7.2% and beat estimates for $323 million.

Subscribers rose 16% to 3.6 million. Subscribers have now risen for 5 straight quarters. This is the first time since 2011 that they gained subscribers for a full year. The company raised guidance for the full year to $1.40-$1.50. Analysts were expecting $1.27. They said they were off to a strong start thanks to the Oprah Effect. The TV personality joined the brand late in 2016.

Earnings August 1st.

The stock has been a rocket since Oprah began pitching for the brand but it is showing no signs of fading. The post earnings spike to $25 saw some post earnings depression but shares are already moving back to that post earnings level. I believe female investors are betting on the Oprah Effect to continue driving profits. Even at this level the stock is not overly expensive with a PE of 17.

I am recommending it because it has refused to decline in a weak market. The risk is less with the option position.

Position 5/15/17:

Long WTW shares @ $24.48, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.
Alternate: Long July $26 call @ 90 cents, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

BEARISH Play Updates

ERA - Era Group - Company Profile


No specific news. Minor short covering rebound in a bullish market. Support is $7.25.

Original Trade Description: May 8th.

Era Group Inc. provides helicopter transportation services primarily to the oil and gas exploration, development, and production companies. Its helicopter services include emergency response search and rescue; air medical services; Alaska flightseeing tours; and other services, as well as utility services to support firefighting, mining, VIP transport, power line, and pipeline survey activities. The company also leases helicopters to third parties and foreign affiliates; engineers, manufactures, and distributes after-market helicopter parts and accessories; and provides classroom instruction, flight simulator, and other training services. As of December 31, 2016, the company owned, leased, or managed a total of 136 helicopters, including 13 heavy helicopters, 49 medium helicopters, 33 light twin engine helicopters, and 41 light single engine helicopters. It also serves cruise line passengers. Company description from FinViz.com.

Era reported a loss of 27 cents on revenue of $54.5 million. This was the second quarterly revenue decline but revenues have been weakening for the last two years. The last quarter they posted positive earnings was June 2016 and the losses are growing. In this table from Capital Cube all the numbers look terrible.

Earnings August 1st.

I am frustrated because I almost recommended them in the weekend newsletter. I decided to wait until support broke at $11.50. That support failed today with a big drop. I believe the shares are going to retest the November lows at $7.50. After looking at that table above would you buy this stock?

Position 5/9/17:

Short ERA shares @ $10.69, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

No options recommended because of wide spreads.

FOSL - Fossil Group - Company Profile

Fossil Group, Inc., together with its subsidiaries, designs, develops, markets, and distributes consumer fashion accessories. The company's principal products include a line of men's and women's fashion watches and jewelry, handbags, small leather goods, belts, sunglasses, and soft accessories. It offers its products under its proprietary brands, such as FOSSIL, MICHELE, MISFIT, RELIC, SKAGEN, and ZODIAC, as well as under the licensed brands, including ADIDAS, ARMANI EXCHANGE, BURBERRY, CHAPS, DIESEL, DKNY, EMPORIO ARMANI, KARL LAGERFELD, KATE SPADE NEW YORK, MARC JACOBS, MICHAEL KORS, and TORY BURCH. The company sells its products through department stores, specialty retail stores, specialty watch and jewelry stores, mass market stores, e-commerce sites, licensed and franchised FOSSIL retail stores, and retail concessions, as well as sells its products on airlines and cruise ships. As of December 31, 2016, it owned and operated 94 retail stores and 129 outlet stores located in the United States, as well as 230 retail stores and 132 outlet stores internationally. Company description from FinViz.com.

Fossil reported an adjusted loss of 35 cents compared to estimates for a loss of 21 cents. Revenue of $581.8 million missed estimates for $596.5 million. For Q2 they guided for a loss of 23 to 40 cents.

Analyst expectations for Q2 have declined from a loss of 6 cents to a loss of 25 cents and has declined three times in the last couple of weeks. For the full year analysts are now expecting earnings of 90 cents, down from $1.11 a month ago.

Earnings August 8th.

Fossil is struggling despite the decent revenue. Costs and marketing are too high and they are losing market share to the rapidly expanding number of brands.

Shares closed at an 8-year low on Thursday and under $11.30 would be a 14 year low. I believe Fossil is going to single digits with $6 the likely target.

Position 5/26/17:

Short FOSL shares @ $11.78, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

Alternate position:
Long July $11 put @ 55 cents, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

VSI - Vitamin Shoppe - ETF Profile


No specific news. Shares rebounded 2.5% to stop us out on the short stock position. Normally, I would hold the option in hopes of a further decline but VSI appears to have put in a bottom over the last week. I am recommending we close the option position.

Original Trade Description: May 24th.

Vitamin Shoppe, Inc., through its subsidiaries, operates as a multi-channel specialty retailer and contract manufacturer of nutritional products in the United States and internationally. It operates through three segments: Retail, Direct, and Manufacturing. The company provides custom manufacturing and private labeling services for VMS products, as well as develops and markets own branded products. It offers vitamins, minerals, herbs, specialty supplements, sports nutrition, and other health and wellness products of approximately 900 brands, such as own brands comprising Vitamin Shoppe, BodyTech, True Athlete, Mytrition, plnt, ProBioCare, Next Step, and Betancourt Nutrition; and national brands, including Optimum Nutrition, Cellucor, Garden of Life, Quest Nutrition, Solaray, Solgar, and Nature's Way. The company sells its products through Vitamin Shoppe and Super Supplements retail stores; and catalogs, as well as through its vitaminshoppe.com Website. As of December 31, 2016, it operated 775 company-operated retail stores; and 7 franchise stores in Panama, 5 franchise stores in Guatemala, 3 franchise stores in Costa Rica, and 2 franchise stores in Paraguay. Company description from FinViz.com.

Vitamin Shoppe reported earnings of 37 cents that missed estimates for 58 cents. Revenue of $316.9 million missed estimates for $326.7 million. Same store sales fell -6.3% while e-Commerce sales fell -9.1%. The stock fell 32% on the news.

Bad earnings happen all the time to many companies. However, they normally try to be upbeat about the future. That was not the case at VSI. The company warned that weak traffic and sales would continue because of changes to their loyalty program and intensifying promotional environment in the Sports nutrition category.

The best thing they could say was that they could continue their cost reduction initiatives. They Guided for the full year for sales to decline in mid single-digits and earnings of $1.50-$1.75. They guided for the quarter to earnings of 32-42 cents. Analysts were expecting $1.76 and 42 cents. The odds are good VSI will come in at the low end of their guidance and that is weighing on the stock.

Earnings August 9th.

They have another problem because only 7 stockholders own 50% of the stock. If one of those stockholders decides to stop the bleeding and cut their losses, there is not enough daily volume to sustain a major exit. That could push shares significantly lower.

Shares are approaching $10 and are already at a historic low. The outlook is grim and once that $10 level is broken we could see a sharp decline as funds race to exit before the $5 level where most funds can no longer hold the shares.

Position 5/25/17:

Short VSI shares @ $11.55, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

Alternate position:
Long Aug $10 put @ 49 cents, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

VXX - Volatility Index Futures - ETF Description


Nice drop to a new historic low close. We are nearing the point where the ETF will do a 1:4 reverse split. That will be an excellent opportunity for us to get short again at a higher level.

Barron's is reporting current short interest at 59 million shares out of 66 million outstanding.

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.

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

subscribe now