The market rebounded from a very negative day as shorts covered at the close. The S&P dipped to 2,052 intraday and rebounded in the last 30 minutes to close at 2,065. Whether this rebound will stick next week is the critical question.
The majority of the large S&P 500 companies have already reported earnings. There is a deluge of small companies next week and typically their earnings are weaker than the blue chips. If the historical trend continues, we should see a lower close next Friday. However, this could always be just a profit taking dip ahead of another try to reach the prior highs.
While I do not believe we are going to be successful in reaching those highs in the near future, anything is possible. As we enter the month of May the "sell in May" mantra will be repeated every day on CNBC and Bloomberg TV and in the press. Whether the strategy works or not is immaterial since investors will assume it works and act accordingly. It creates a negative tone in the markets.
With earnings likely to be weaker than last week and the negative tone created by the sell in May bias it should turn out to be a self fulfilling prophecy.
Current Position Changes
CONN - Conn's
The long position was stopped out at $13.75.
DPLO - Diplomat Pharmacy
The long position was stopped out at $30.85.
XLF - Financial ETF
The long call position was closed at the open.
VXX - Volatility ETF
The long position was opened with a VXX trade at $16.75.
NTAP - NetApp
The short position was opened with a NTAP trade at $23.95.
Check the graphic above for any profit stops in green.
We need to always be prepared for a profit exit at resistance.
Stop Loss Updates
Check the graphic above for any new stop losses in bright yellow.
We need to always be prepared for an unexpected decline.
BULLISH Play Updates
CONN - Conns Inc - Company Profile
No specific news. Dropped with the market and stopped us out at $13.75 for a nickel loss.
Original Trade Description: April 20th.
Conn's operates as a specialty retailer of durable consumer goods and related services in the USA. The company stores offer refrigerators, freezers, washers, dryers, dishwashers, ranges, furniture, mattresses, home office products including computers, tablets, desks, printers, etc. They also sell consumer electronics including TVs, home theater equipment, etc. They operate more than 100 locations and were founded in 1890. Conn's is like a Best Buy with furniture and appliances.
Shares fell -23% after reporting earnings in late March and bottomes on April 8th. Revenue rose 7% and same store sales rose 3.6% excluding categories the company exited during the quarter. The furniture section saw same store sales rise +15.2% while electronics sales decline -13.3%. They reported earnings of 11 cents compared to estimates for 28 cents. The sharp earnings miss was caused by a major increase in loan loss reserves on their customer financing programs. The 60-day delinquency rate rose to 9.9%. Conn's finances 80% of its sales through its own in house financing plans. This is a short-term problem that will pass as they tighten up credit standards on future sales. They plan to open 10-15 new stores in 2016.
Earnings are May 31st.
An insider bought 250,000 additional shares last week for roughly $3 million. That is a huge vote of confidence.
The sell off was overdone. Shares have now rebounded above the consolidation highs for the last four weeks where the sellers were exiting. Wednesday's close was a four-week high.
I believe we can take a long position in Conn's and ride it up to the $16 level or possibly higher.
Position 4/21/16 with a CONN trade at $13.80
Closed 4/29/16: Long CONN shares @ $13.80, exit $13.75, -.05 loss
No options recommended.
DPLO - Diplomat Pharmacy - Company Profile
This kind of day really depresses me. We were up nicely with a $2 gain in the position and the market tanks and we barely escaped with a 50-cent gain on no news. The position was stopped out at $30.85 after hitting $33.40 on Thursday.
Original Trade Description: April 15th.
Diplomat Pharmacy operated as an independent specialty pharmacy in the USA. The company stocks, dispenses and distributes prescriptions for various biotechnology and specialty pharmaceutical manufacturers. A specialty pharmacy does more than just dispense pills. The provide other services for the patients like infusion, patient financial assistance, risk evaluation and medication strategies. Many of their patients are on complex programs with multiple high dollar drugs. The company has 16 locations and was founded in 1975.
DPLO had a rough six months. The Valeant problem with specialty pharmacy Philidor put a cloud over the entire sector. After DPLO reported robust earnings back in March, JP Morgan downgraded them saying they could decline 15%. The company guided below expectations but remained bullish. The analyst said he could not bridge the gap between the guidance and management bullishness. Shares dropped from $36 to $26 on the downgrade.
Fortunately, that was the bottom and shares have been moving up steadily. They accelerated last week after the company announced the availability of a new Lilly drug for Plaque Psoriasis. This confidence in DPLO by Lilly seemed to encourage investors.
Earnings are May 9th.
Shares are just over $30 with resistance at $35. With the potential for a market meltdown on Monday if the OPEC meeting in Doha does not go well, I am putting an entry trigger on the position.
Position 4/18/16 with a DPLO trade at $30.35
Exit 4/29/16: Long DPLO shares @$30.35, exit $30.85, 50 cent gain.
KKD - Krispy Kreme - Company Profile
Still holding at the highs after addition to the S&P-600. No specific news.
Original Trade Description: April 18th.
Krispy Kreme operates as a branded retailer and wholesaler of doughnuts, coffee, treats and packaged sweets. Who would have thought that Krispy Kreme Donuts would be impacted by falling oil prices and currency translation issues? They are a donut store headquartered in the USA. Unfortunately, not all their stores are in the U.S. KKD only has 297 stores in 41 states but they have more than 825 stores in 25 other countries.
There are 105 stores in Saudi Arabia, 136 in Mexico, 19 in the UAE, 14 in Kuwait and 12 in Russia. All of those countries have been impacted by the drop in oil prices and spike in the dollar.
In the last quarter sales at locations outside the U.S. fell -7.1% and expectations are for a continued decline in sales. The strong dollar caused revenue to decline -3.4% to $7.4 million in last quarter.
In late March they warned earnings would be in the range of 87-91 cents and analysts were expecting 93 cents. Shares fell -10% on the news. However, within four days the stock had rebounded to more than the level before the warning and have continued higher. Monday's close was an 8-month high.
They are running promotions to boost sales in the U.S. and they appear to be succeeding. On April 1st they gave away a free donut to anyone walking in their door, no purchase necessary. The stores were packed.
KKD only has $11 million in debt and $51 million in cash. They bought back 2.8 million shares in 2015. They have an authorized buyback for up to $144 million in shares for 2016.
Earnings are June 21st.
I am recommending we buy KKD shares with a trade at $16.50, just over today's high using a tight stop loss.
Position 4/20/16 with KKD trade at $16.50
Long KKD shares @ $17.05, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.
Closed 4/27/16: Long May $17 call @ .30, exit .65, +.35 gain
TRN - Trinity Industries - Company Profile
Minor decline in a weak market. No specific news. We have a July call option so plenty of time.
Original Trade Description: March 18th
Trinity Industries manufacturers rail cars, highway guard rails and steel beams for infrastructure projects, structural towers for wind turbines and electrical distribution grids, oil and chemical storage tanks, barges to transport grain, coal, aggregates, tank barges to transport oil, chemicals and petroleum products. The company was founded in 1933.
Shares crashed in mid February after they reported earnings that beat the street but guidance that disappointed. Earnings of $1.30 easily beat estimates for $1.07 but revenue of $1.55 billion missed estimates for $1.61 billion. They had full year earnings of $5.08 per share.
They guided for 2016 to earnings of $2.00 to $2.40 per share. The challenge is the slowdown in orders for railroad tank cars and barges to transport oil. With oil prices crashing the producers and refiners are cutting back on capex spending until prices recover. Trinity said revenue in 2016 could decline -32%. Shares declined -35% over two days on the news.
The key here is that Trinity is now trading at a PE of 3. Yes 3.74 to be exact. With earnings in the middle of their range at $2.20 and a PE of 10 that would equate to a $22 stock price.
Here is the good news. The company has $2.12 billion in cash and undrawn credit. They are not in financial trouble. They authorized a $250 million share buyback starting January 1st. They have an order backlog of $5.4 billion in orders for 48,885 railcars. They received orders for 2,455 cars in Q4 and their backlog stretches out to 2020. The barge division received orders for $190.1 million in Q4 and had a backlog of $416 million as of December 31st. The structural tower segment has $371.3 million in order backlogs.
They recognize that tankcar and barge orders are going to remain slow until oil prices recover, which should happen later this year.
This stock was extremely oversold but began recovering in early March. Trinity produces a lot of railcars for carrying all types of products other than oil. That demand is not going to disappear and they already have order backlogs stretching into 2020.
At their current valuation they could also be an acquisition candidate. This is a great business that has been overly punished by the oil crash.
Earnings April 21st.
Long July $20 call @ $1.50, no stop loss.
Previously Closed 4/5/16: Long TRN shares @ $19.15, exit $17.50, -1.65 loss.
VXX - VIX Futures ETF - ETF Profile
The VXX was opened with a trade at $16.75 and spiked all the way to $17.50 before the market rebound began at the close. For this position to be profitable we need the market to continue lower. Obviously that means our long plays will lose money. This is a hedge against that decline.
Original Trade Description: April 25th.
The VXX ETF tracks one-month futures contracts on the Volatility Index of $VIX. The VXX is actually less volatile than the VIX but travels in the same direction. The VXX is highly liquid with average volume of roughly 75 million shares.
The VXX or any volatility ETP or leveraged ETF should not be held for long periods of time because the futures roll over every month will reduce the value of the position. However, it is suitable for short-term tactical trades. We closed a short on the VXX a couple weeks ago for a decent profit.
With the potential for another bout of market volatility I am recommending we go long the VXX this time. Long the VXX is the equivalent of a short position since it rises with a decline in the market.
Last Tuesday the VXX declined to 15.56 and the lowest level since August 10th. We had been long the VXX and that stopped us out of the position.
Since then the market has failed at resistance and spent several days in decline. With Apple's earnings likely to disappoint, it could cement the decline and lead us into the sell in May cycle.
Keith Bliss of the Cuttone Company, said research back to 1957 showed that last week was normally the best week of the entire second quarter. After last week the markets tended to "ebb" into June as the sell in May cycle takes hold as the earnings cycle wanes.
This year we have the Brexit vote in June, a likely Fed rate hike in June, the possibility for riots at the Republican convention in July, and many other factors that could weigh on the market.
I am proposing we get long the VXX and hold it because it is only a matter of time before we see another bout of volatility that could push it back to the 26-30 level. This means we could see some short-term bouts of calm if the markets try to make a new high again. Therefore, I am putting a stop loss on the position but I plan to reenter it the instant it appears volatility is starting to heat up. Hopefully the first long will be the only long we need.
Historically, there is very little long term risk with the VXX because the market will always have volatility spikes, but because it is a futures product there is a premium bleed if the ETF is held for a long time. If it were a regular stock we could just hold it until an event occurred. Since it is futures related, we have to have a stop loss.
Position 4/29/16 with a VXX trade at 16.75
Long VXX shares @ $16.75. Initial stop loss $15.00 and a new historic low.
WIN - Windstream Holdings - Company Profile
No specific news. Another minor decline from the new 52-week high. Purely market related.
Original Trade Description: March 11th
Windstream provided network communications and technology solutions for consumers, businesses and enterprise organizations. They provide high-speed internet access, hosted web services and cable TV to a combined total of 1.6 million residential and business customers. They have more than 125,000 miles of high-speed fiber optic cable with speeds up to 500 gbps along their main corridors. They have 11 major data centers providing web hosting, cloud services, etc.
In the Q4 earnings, WIN reported adjusted earnings of $1.41 that crushed estimates for a loss of 48 cents. Revenue of $1.427 billion missed estimates slightly for $1.433 billion. The major earnings beat came from a spinoff of some of its telecom assets into a REIT. The cash received from the spinoff will allow some major network improvements in the months ahead.
The company declared a 15-cent quarterly dividend payable April 15th to holders on March 31st. That equates to a 7.3% annual yield.
WIN shares have been moving higher since they reported earnings on February 25th. Shares are at resistance at $8.25 and could breakout this week. The next resistance would be $11.85.
While we are not playing the stock for a takeover there is always the chance that somebody like Verizon or even Google could decide the $750 million market cap was chump change for 125,000 miles of high-speed fiber, cable TV and data center business.
I am going way out on the option to August because it is cheap and it will make a good lottery play even if we close the stock position early.
Long August $9.00 call @ .38 cents.(Adjusted) NO STOP LOSS
Previously closed 3/29/16: Long WIN shares @ $8.22, exit $7.10, -1.12 loss.
XRX - Xerox - Company Profile
No specific news. Shares dipped with the market and missed our $9.50 stop by 3 cents. I am lowering the stop loss to $9.40.
Original Trade Description: March 27th
Xerox has grown into a global services company that also provided document management solutions. The services segment provides business outsourcing services, customer care, transaction processing, finance and accounting, human resources, communication and marketing, consulting and analytics. The hardware segment produces copiers and printers of all sizes, capabilities and combinations.
The company announced in January they were going to split into two companies. One would be hardware and the other business services. They did this because they were under attack by activist shareholders. Carl Icahn was awarded three seats on the board. Shares rose from the February low at $8.50 to the April high at $11.50.
When they reported earnings this week the stock crashed back to $9.50. They missed on earnings and provided weaker guidance. Earnings of 22 cents missed estimates for 23 cents. Revenue fell -4% to $4.28 billion but beat estimates for $4.24 billion. The strong dollar caused a 4% decline in revenue.
The company also reported higher costs as a result of the current restructuring. They expect the restructuring to cost $220 million but provide more robust earnings growth starting in Q2. They incurred $126 million of those costs in Q1. The CEO said they were accelerating the cost reduction efforts and would begin to see results in Q2. In light of the restructuring costs they are delaying additional stock buybacks until 2017. The company reaffirmed its full year guidance.
Shares held at the $9.75 level for three days before rising to close at $10 today and the three-day high. Normally when a company goes through this process the current holders bail on the earnings news and a new set of investors buy the dip in expectations for the improvement in earnings in future quarters plus the added incentive of the split. We see it constantly where companies report a bumpy quarter, the stock crashes and a couple days later a rebound begins that propels the stock higher than the pre earnings levels.
I think the risk has been removed from Xerox. I believe we can buy it here at $10 and ride the rebound towards the "improved" Q2 results. Because of the recent low, our risk is minimal.
Long XRX shares @ $9.95. Initial stop loss $9.50.
BEARISH Play Updates
NTAP - NetApp - Company Profile
No news. Shares collapsed -2.75% to trigger the short entry at $23.95.
Original Trade Description: April 25th.
NetApp provides software, systems and services to manage and store computer data worldwide. Data ONTAP storage operating system that delivers integrated data protection, comprehensive data management, and built-in software for virtualized, shared infrastructures, cloud computing, and mixed workload business applications; E-Series storage systems for storage area network workloads (SAN); all-flash arrays that deliver input/output operations per second and ultralow latency to drive speed, responsiveness, and value from the applications that control key business operations; and hybrid arrays for mainstream business applications.
About two weeks ago the stock trend turned negative and has started accelerating downward after Sterne Agee and Macquarie both downgraded from neutral to sell. Sterne Agee said the downgrade came after the Q1 IT survey. The survey showed weakness in end-user budgeting for storage systems and upgrades. Spending had declined 10% year-over-year and was negatively weighted towards incumbent vendors. Agee said they did not expect revenue from ONTAP8 and SolidFire to offset enough share loss potential over the next year. The analyst said valuation appears compressed and the stock should underperform its peers.
Another analyst said deteriorating net income would keep the stock depressed.
Earnings May 25th.
Based on the chart shares may not find support until $21. The last two days shares have stalled the decline at just over $24. I am recommending we short NTAP with a trade at $23.95 and target $21 for an exit.
Position 4/29/16 with a NTAP trade at $23.95
Short NTAP shares @ $23.95, initial stop loss $24.95
Long June $24 put @ $1.17, initial stop loss $24.95.
XLF - Financial ETF - ETF Profile
Down in a weak market. This ETF reacts to the markets just as much as it does to financial news.
The long call was closed at the open for a 39 cent gain.
Original Trade Description: April 11th.
The XLF is commonly referred to as the banking ETF. However, it is actually a Financial Sector ETF. Banks account for 33% of the holdings with WFC, JPM, BAC, C, USB and GS six of the top ten holdings. Insurance, brokers, diversified financial services and REITs make up the rest of the ETF.
We are playing it to capitalize on the movements in those six top banks as they report earnings. The ETF normally moves slowly and I would not recommend it as a stock holding ahead of those earnings simply because we do not know which way it will move.
I am recommending a short-term option strategy called a strangle using very inexpensive options. We only care about catching the post earnings move in what could be a rocky quarter. Since estimates are already very low there is the potential for an upside surprise and that could cause some short squeezes with the banks.
I looked at playing the weekly puts but the premiums were in some cases higher than the May premiums so we will buy the time even though we will not use it.
Closed 4/29/16: Long May $23 call @ 19 cents, exit .58, +.39 gain.
Long May $22 put @ 47 cents, no stop loss.
Net debit 66 cents.
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