The Russell 2000 closed at the low for the day with a -3 point loss as small cap buyers appear to be shrinking. All the indexes closed at the lows with the S&P and Nasdaq posting only fractional gains of less than one point. The Dow gave back its +131 point opening bounce to close with only a 39 point gain.
The decline in the small cap indexes is especially troubling since they function as the market sentiment indexes. If small caps are being sold, the big caps will eventually follow. This was the end of the second week in October and next week begins the six best weeks of the year. Let's hope the trend remains firmly in place.
Stop Loss Updates
Check the graphic below for any new stop losses in bright yellow.
We need to always be prepared for an unexpected decline.
Check the graphic below for any profit stops in green.
We need to always be prepared for a profit exit at resistance.
Lottery Ticket Plays
Current Position Changes
TASR - Taser Intl
The short position was closed at $23.15.
MENT - Mentor Graphics
The long stock position was opened at $28.54.
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BULLISH Play Updates
ALRM - Alarm.com - Company Profile
No specific news. Nice gain to a two-month high.
Original Trade Description: October 1st.
Alarm.com Holdings, Inc. provides cloud-based software platform solutions for the connected homes in the United States and internationally. It offers multi-tenant software-as-a-service platform that allows home and business owners to intelligently secure and manage their properties, as well as remotely interact with an array of connected devices through a single intuitive interface. The company provides interactive security solutions, which offer intelligent security and awareness services through a dedicated, cellular, and two-way connection to the home or business; and intelligent automation solutions that connects, integrates, and controls the devices in the home or business, such as security systems, garage doors, lights, door locks, thermostats, electrical appliances, environmental sensors, and other connected devices. It also offers video monitoring solutions, which provide live streaming, smart clip capture, high definition continuous recording, and instant video alerts through its mobile app or on the Web; and energy management solutions that offer enhanced energy monitoring and management services. It has approximately 2.6 million residential and business subscribers. Company description from FinViz.com.
For Q2, the company reported earnings of 15 cents compared to estimates for 11 cents. Revenue rose 24% to $64.4 million and beat estimates for $58.6 million. Software as a Service (SaaS) revenue rose 23% to $42 million. The company guided for the ful lyear for earnings of 49-51 cents and revenue of $242.3-$245.8 million. Analysts were expecting 48 cents on $241.7 million.
Earnings Nov 8th.
Despite the strong beat and strong guidance shares crashed from the historic high close of $33 before the earnings were released. Shares were up +135% since the February low at $14 and traders took profits. The only ratings change was from Raymond James from outperform to market perform based on value because of the strong gains. At the same time Imperial Capital raised their price target from $24.50 to $30. Since shares closed the day before at $30 that was an implied neutral rating.
Shares collapsed back to $28 and here there for three weeks then fell sharply on September 6th on no news to bottom at $25. That bottom was quickly bought and Friday's gain lifted the shares back over resistance at $28.50.
There is no bad press for Alarm.com. Earnings and revenue are growing, subscribers are growing and shares are back over resistance. If the market is going to rally in late October this should be a tech stock that outperforms.
Position 10/3/16 with a ALRM trade at $29.05
Long ALRM shares @ $29.05, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.
No options recommended because of price.
CLVS - Clovis Oncology - Company Profile
No specific news. Drifting back to support on biotech weakness.
Original Trade Description: October 12th.
Clovis Oncology, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company, focuses on acquiring, developing, and commercializing anti-cancer agents in the United States, Europe, and internationally. It is developing three product candidates, which include Rociletinib, an oral epidermal growth factor receptor and mutant-selective covalent inhibitor that is under review with the U.S. and E.U. regulatory authorities for the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer; Rucaparib, an oral inhibitor of poly polymerase, which is in advanced clinical development for the treatment of ovarian cancer; and Lucitanib, an oral inhibitor of the tyrosine kinase that is in Phase II development for the treatment of breast cancers. Company description from FinViz.com.
Clovis has been rising on the prospects for the drug Rucaparib. They reported in September the FDA was not planning on holding an advisory committee meeting to discuss the new NDA application. The FDA has accepted the company's NDA for accelerated approval and granted it a priority review. The FDA response is expected to be positive and is expected by Feb 23rd.
However, on October 7th the company released data on a Rucaparib trial that appeared to show it was less effective than a competing drug already on the market from AstraZeneca. Shares were crushed for a $10 drop at the open. Analysts were quick to come to their defense saying there are many trials and making a decision by just one trial with a very narrow patient subset was comparing apple to oranges. Shares immediately rebounded.
Clovis has several anti cancer drugs in final stages and the outlook is very positive. Just seeing that CLVS shares have not declined with the sector over the last couple of days is a very strong indication that portfolio managers are buying and holding.
Earnings Nov 3rd.
Long CLVS shares @ $31.97, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.
No options recommended because of price.
MENT - Mentor Graphics - Company Profile
No specific news. We got a bad fill on the entry with shares spiking 60 cents at the open only to decline 40 cents for the day. That would not have been my preferred way to enter the position but now it is behind us.
Original Trade Description: October 13th.
Mentor Graphics Corporation provides electronic design automation software and hardware solutions to design, analyze, and test electro-mechanical systems, electronic hardware, and embedded systems software worldwide. It offers printed circuit boards; Mentor Graphics Scalable Verification tools; Questa platform to verify systems and integrated circuits (ICs); FastSPICE, Eldo, and ADVance MS analog/mixed signal simulation tools; and Veloce hardware emulation system. Further, the company provides software, tools, and professional engineering services; and methodology development, enterprise integration, and deployment services. It sells and licenses its products through direct sales force, distributors, and sales representatives to the communications, computer, consumer electronics, semiconductor, networking, multimedia, military and aerospace, and transportation industries. Company description from FinViz.com.
Billionaire Paul Singer, head of Elliott Management, announced on Sept 29th his firm was taking an active 8.1% stake in Mentor Graphics. In the SEC filing Elliott said there are "strategic opportunities" available at MENT and he is going to force a sale. Singer is no stranger to activist investing. Since 1994 he has launched 114 campaigns and 14 proxy fights when companies do not take his advice and get the M&A ball rolling. Elliott has $27 billion under management and Mentor only has a $3 billion market cap. If the board does not take action quickly, Elliott could launch a proxy fight to get enough people on the board that will take action. As a relatively small company, Mentor is in the crosshairs and there is very little chance for escape.
Shares spiked in the middle of the day on Thursday after TheStreet posted an article explaining Elliott'
s game plan. The close at $27.92 was a 15-year high. Since Elliott announced his position at $24.69 the shares have risen about $3.50 with $2 of that the first day. Elliott is in for the long term and they will not be bailing on a $3 gain. They have a much larger goal in mind.
Earnings Nov 17th.
A lot of investors follow these activist funds and I would expect the stock to continue to rise as the headlines appear. More than 7,000 Jan $30 calls were bought today against an open interest of only 3,944.
Because of the afternoon spike I was going to put an entry trigger on the position just over the afternoon high. However, the S&P futures are down hard again tonight and maybe we will get an opportunity to buy the stock lower so I did not add the trigger. Support is $26.
Long MENT shares @ $28.54, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.
Long Jan $30 call @ $1.35, no stop loss.
We will hold the option as a lottery ticket play is the long stock position is stopped.
BEARISH Play Updates
TASR - Taser Intl Inc - Company Profile
Coverage was initiated by Imperial Capital at outperform and the minor short squeeze that followed, stopped us out. The analyst called it the "razor and blade" model. They sell the Taser guns and the buyers have to keep coming back to buy the electronic cartridges. They sell the cameras but they have to buy the Evidence.com subscription to retain the video as evidence. More than 17,000 law enforcement agencies own 105,000 weapons and 36,000 cameras were purchased in 2015 alone.
Original Trade Description: October 8th.
TASER International, Inc. develops, manufactures, and sells conducted electrical weapons (CEWs) worldwide. The company operates through two segments, TASER Weapons and Axon. Its CEWs transmit electrical pulses along the wires and into the body affecting the sensory and motor functions of the peripheral nervous system. The company offers TASER X26P and TASER X2 smart weapons for law enforcement; TASER C2 and TASER Pulse CEWs for the consumer market; and replacement cartridges. It also provides Axon Body, a body-worn camera for law enforcement; Axon Body 2 camera system; Axon Flex camera system that records video and audio of critical incidents; TASER Cam HD, a recording device; Axon Fleet, an in-car video system; Axon Interview, a video and audio recording system; Axon Signal, a body-worn camera; and Axon Dock, a camera charging station. In addition, the company offers Evidence.com, a cloud-based digital evidence management system that allows agencies to store data and enables new workflows for managing and sharing that data; Evidence.com for Prosecutors to manage evidence; and Evidence Sync, a desktop-based application that enables evidence to be uploaded to Evidence.com. Further, it provides Axon Capture a mobile application to allow officers to capture digital evidence from the field; Axon View, a mobile application to provide instant playback of unfolding events; Axon Five, a software application to enhance and analyze images and videos; Axon Convert, a software solution to convert unplayable file formats; and Axon Detect, a photo analysis program for tamper detection. The company sells its products to military forces, private security, and consumer personal protection markets, as well as to federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies and corrections through its direct sales force, distribution partners, online store, and third-party resellers.
Company description from FinViz.com.
Taser shares were crushed last week when the NYPD chose VieVu instead of Taser for its supplier of more than 1,000 body cameras. The camera has become a larger market for Taser than the actual Taser weapon. When Taser sells a camera they also sell a 3-5 year subscription to Evidence.com, which is their video storage and retrieval application in the cloud. While a Taser sale may be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars per police department and the camera sale also in the hundreds of thousands, the subscription to archive the hundreds of thousands of hours of video footage costs millions of dollars.
The $399 camera is just the camel's nose under the tent. Each camera requires its own subscription to Evidence.com which costs $39 to $79 a month before quantity discounts. The 1,000 camera order for the NYPD would have been a minimum of $39,000 a month for five years or $2.3 million to $5.0 million in revenue.
The Safariland VieVu camera system is now deployed in more than 4,000 agencies in 17 countries. With Safariland the camera is holster activated and turns on when the officer's gun is drawn. This is a major competitor for Taser.
Another blow for Taser last week was a Supreme Court decision not to hear a case involving the death of a person stunned by a Taser. The court let stand a ruling that said Tasers amount to an unconstitutional use of excessive force and officers can only use Tasers if they are in immediate danger. This could negatively impact Taser sales, which is still the largest portion of their international revenue.
If Taser sales slow because of the ruling, then body camera sales could also slow since many times they are packaged together. That means Evidence.com subscriptions would also slow.
Earnings Nov 3rd.
Taser shares are in free fall after the dual blow last week. The Supreme Court decision is the one problem that will last.
Position 10/11/16 with a TASR trade at $22.25
Closed 10/14/16: Short TASR shares @ $22.25, exit 23.15, -.90 loss
Closed 10/14/16: Long Nov $22 put @ $1.25, exit .85, -.40 loss.
VXX - Volatility Index Futures - ETF Description
Since this is a long-term play, I am not going to comment on it every day. Just forget it is in your portfolio and hope for a strong market rally in Q4.
Original Trade Description: September 6th.
The VXX is a short term volatility product based on the VIX futures. As a futures product it has the rollover curse. Every time they roll to a new futures contract they have to pay a premium and that lowers the price of the ETF. It is a flawed product with a perpetual decline built in from the monthly roll over in the futures contracts.
As evidence of this flaw, they have now down four 1:4 reverse stock splits. The last four reverse splits occurred at $13.11 (11/2010), $8.77 (10/2012), $12.84 (11/2013), $9.52 (8/8/16). The prospectus says it can reverse split anytime it trades under $25 for a prolonged period and the splits will always be 1:4.
After the August split the ETF moved sideways for four weeks at $36. I think everyone was waiting for the typical August volatility. When it did not show up and the market rallied on Friday that support broke. And the decline has begun.
Because there may be some September volatility, anyone in this position must understand that it may move higher before it moves lower BUT it will always move lower. We just have to wait it out. Volatility never lasts forever.
Unfortunately, put options are expensive with a volatility instrument at this price level. The only recommendation is to short the ETF and forget it. If we do get a prolonged rally as some are expecting we could see strong gains in the next 2-3 months. This will be a long-term position. This is not a 2-3 week play. I can guarantee you, if history holds, we can play this until it splits 1:4 again at $10. Once we are in the position and profitable I will put a trailing stop loss on it. We will take profits and then look for a bounce to get back in. We could keep this play in the portfolio on a trading basis permanently.
Short VXX shares @ $33.88, no initial stop loss.
No options recommended because of price.
Left Over Lottery Tickets
These positions were left over from prior plays where we had an optional option with no stop after the stock position was closed. Rather than close these for a few cents they are left open as a "Lottery Ticket" play. With months before expiration, anything is possible. A strong move in a single stock can be well worth the additional patience.
These positions are only updated on the weekend.
FDC - First Data - Company Profile
No specific news. Shares are holding at prior support at $13. This position expires next Friday.
Original Trade Description: August 10th.
First Data provides electronic ecommerce solutions for merchants, financial institutions and card issuers worldwide. The operate in three segments including global business solutions, global financial solutions and network & security solutions. This includes retail point of sale solutions, mobile ecommerce solutions and webstore solutions. They currently process 2,500 financial transactions a second across 118 countries.
First Data was taken private in 2007 for $26 billion by KKR. This debt ended up on the company's books and weighed them down for the last ten years. KKR helped them land a $3.5 billion private placement in 2013. That helped to reduce some of the high interest debt. KKR took them public again in 2015 and raised about $2.8 billion. That was the largest IPO of 2015. The company is still fighting the debt problem with $480 million in interest payments in the first half of 2016. Earlier this year we tried to short FDC because they were strangling under this debt. The situation appears to be improving.
In Q2 they reported adjusted earnings of 35 cents that beat estimates for 34 cents. It also beat the $26 million loss they took in the year ago quarter. Revenue rose 1.9% to $2.93 billion. Revenue in the global financial solutions division rose 12% to $395 million. This is their growth engine. They reduced their net debt by $300 million in the quarter.
Earnings Oct 26th.
Shares spiked from $12 to $13 after earnings and they are about to break over long-term resistance at $13.35. The weakness and volatility from the first six months of 2016 may be coming to an end. If FDC can move over that $13.35 level the next target would be around $16.50.
Position 8/23/16 with a FDC trade at $13.50
Long Oct $14 call @ .50, no stop loss.
Previously closed 9/9/16: Long FDC shares @ $13.50, exit $13.75, +.25 gain.
HOV - Hovnanian Enterprises - Company Profile
No specific news. Shares are breaking down and closed 2 cents above our stop loss. I am recommending we just close the long stock position and keep the February call open.
Original Trade Description: July 27th.
Hovnanian Enterprises, Inc. is a builder of residential homes. The Company designs, constructs, markets and sells single-family detached homes, attached townhomes and condominiums, urban infill, and active lifestyle homes in planned residential developments. It markets and builds homes for first-time buyers, first-time and second-time move-up buyers, luxury buyers, active adult buyers and empty nesters. The Company has two distinct operations: homebuilding and financial services. The Company, excluding unconsolidated joint ventures, is offering homes for sale in 196 communities in 34 markets in 16 states throughout the United States. The Company's financial services operations provide mortgage loans and title services to the customers of its homebuilding operations.
Prior to the financial crisis HOV was an active buyer of land and had extensive holdings when the crash appeared. The decline in home buying and the change in the mortgage business caused them to be very over extended as a result of the crash. Since 2009 they have liquidated a lot of land holdings, built out and sold a lot of properties and have consolidated their efforts and reduced costs significantly.
For Q2 they reported a loss of 6 cents, which was less than half the 13-cent loss in the year ago quarter. Revenues rose 39.6% to $654.7 million. For the first 6-months of the fiscal year revenues rose 34.5% to $1.23 billion. The $7.9 million loss was well below the $25.2 million loss in the year ago quarter. The number of active contracts rose +0.9% to 1,812 homes with the value of the contracts rising 16% to $1.4 billion. The number of contracts in the first six months of fiscal 2016 rose 7.3% to 3,343. The total contract backlog at the end of the quarter was $1.58 billion, up 27.8% from the $1.23 billion at the end of fiscal Q2 2015. As of April 30th, they controlled 34,997 lots.
They paid off $233.5 million in debt over the prior two quarters and ended the period with $125.6 million in liquidity. Since the end of the quarter liquidity has risen $75.1 million due to closings and joint venture funds received. They also paid off another $86.5 million in debt that matured in May.
CEO Ara Hovnanian said, "While our revenue grew 40% and Adjusted EBITDA increased over 220%, as we said last quarter, we remain focused on deleveraging our balance sheet and maximizing our profitability rather than on additional growth. Since October 15, 2015, we have paid off $320 million of debt. More importantly, we continue to believe that we will have the liquidity to pay off the remaining debt maturities through the end of 2017. We are certain that we are taking the correct steps that will best position our company for future success. While it is discouraging to report a loss for the first half of fiscal 2016, it is nevertheless a significantly reduced loss, and we anticipate our profitability in the second half of the year will more than offset this loss."
With the low mortgage rates and the rising number of home sales, I do expect HOV to return to profitability by the end of the year. It has been a long 7 years but they are finally getting rid of the accumulated debt and are riding the wave of new home buyers.
Stocks typically begin to rise about 6-months before widely predicted events. If HOV expects to post profits in Q3/Q4 now is the time to buy the stock. At $1.87 per share I look at it as a LEAP option that does not expire. This is not going to be a rocket stock. This is a buy it and forget it position until year end. Once we are in the position I will track it in the Lottery Play portfolio each weekend. Shares traded at $7 in 2013-2014 and could easily return to that level once they post those profits.
Update 9/9/16: HOV reported Q2 earnings of zero compared to estimates for 6 cents. Revenue rose +32.6% to $716.9 million. For the full year the company guided to revenue of $2.7 to $2.9 billion and analysts were expecting $2.75 billion. The sold or joint ventured 21 communities to reduce their active selling communities from 214 to 193. This impacted revenue as the older communities were culled from the active business. They sold 1,467 homes in Q2 and slightly less than the 1,658 in the same period in 2015, also the result of selling some communities. Their order backlog rose 7.7% to $1.48 billion. There are 3,232 homes currently contracted to be built. They delivered 1,574 homes in the quarter, a +11.8% rise. After paying off $320 million in debt their cash position was $187.7 million. They acquired about 900 lots in the quarter in 20 different communities. They guided for a solid profit in the current quarter of $32-$42 million before some expenses including land acquisitions.
Do not back up the truck on this position just because the stock is cheap. Unexpected events do happen. Just buy a few hundred shares and we will shoot for a return to $6 or a 400% gain.
Long HOV shares @ $1.86, no stop loss.
Long February $2 call @ 20 cents. No stop loss.
HUN - Huntsman Corp - Company Profile
No specific news. Shares continuing to rebound but the progress is slow.
We were stopped out of the long position on HUN shares on Sept 8th. We have a left over November $19 call.
Original Trade Description: August 23rd.
Huntsman Corporation manufactures and sells differentiated organic and inorganic chemical products worldwide. The company operates in five segments: Polyurethanes, Performance Products, Advanced Materials, Textile Effects, and Pigments and Additives. The company's products are used in various applications, including adhesives, aerospace, automotive, construction products, personal care and hygiene, durable and non-durable consumer products, electronics, medical, packaging, paints and coatings, power generation, refining, synthetic fiber, textile chemicals, and dye industries. Huntsman Corporation was founded in 1970.
They reported Q2 earnings of 53 cents that beat estimates for 52 cents. Revenue of $2.54 billion matched estimates. They generated more than $350 million in free cash flow and made an early repayment of $100 million in debt. They also announced they were selling some of its European facilities and would use the proceeds to repay debt. They sold a manufacturing facility to Innospec Inc for $225 million and the transaction is expected to close in Q4. Huntsman will remain a raw materials supplier to the facilities once the transaction is completed.
They are also planning to close their titanium dioxide manufacturing (TiO2) facility in South Africa in addition to spinning off their remaining TiO2 business in early 2017. The closure/spinoff will save $200 million.
The earnings, restructuring and debt repayment plans have given the stock a positive bias. Shares broke over resistance on Tuesday to trade at a 52-week high. The next material resistance is $23.
Earnings Oct 26th.
Position 8/30/16 with a HUN trade at $17.65
Long Nov $19 call @ 54 cents. No stop loss.
Previously Closed 9/8/16: Long HUN shares @ $17.65, exit $16.65, -$1.00 loss.
NAVI - Navient - Company Profile
No specific news. This position expires next Friday.
Shares are still stuck at resistance at $14.50 but eventually a breakout will appear and it could be strong.
Original Trade Description: August 6th.
Navient Corporation provides financial products and services in the United States. The company offers Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP) Loans, Private Education Loans, and Business Services. It holds the portfolio of education loans insured or guaranteed under the FFELP, as well as the portfolio of private education loans. The company also provides asset recovery services for loans and receivables on behalf of guarantors of FFELP loans, and higher education institutions, as well as federal, state, court, and municipal clients. They also offer business processing services on behalf of municipalities, public authorities, and hospitals. Navient was spun off from Sallie Mae in April 2014.
Adjusted earnings for Q2 rose 17.5% to 47 cents and beat estimates for 45 cents. Helping produce the earnings beat was a 44.4% decline in provisions for credit losses to $110 million.
During the quarter Navient acquired FFELP loans of $623 million bringing their total under management to $92.6 billion.
The private education loan segment reported earnings of $57 million. During the quarter Navient acquired another $23 million to bring their total under management to $24.7 billion. The spread on the private loans was stable at 3.66%. The charge off rate was only 2.2%.
During the quarter they retires $255 million in senior unsecured debt and they completed three ABS placements totaling $2.278 billion to raise liquidity. They repurchased 13.6 million shares for $175 million and had $360 million outstanding under the current authorization.
Earnings Oct 18th.
Although Navient is not a high flying investment like Apple or Netflix it is a good solid business. Friday's close at $14.50 was a 52-week high and a breakout over prior resistance. The next resistance will be a gap fill around $17 from last July.
Long Oct $15 call @ 50 cents. No initial stop loss.
Previously closed 8/12/16: Long NAVI shares @ 14.57, exit $13.35, -1.22 loss
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