The market avoided a sharp decline as buyers paired with sellers on the pension fund rebalance. However, the Nasdaq broke below support at 5,400 and the Russell closed right on support at 1,355. The next move lower could be the trigger for a sharp decline. The end of year window dressing is over and the undressing could begin on Tuesday.
There is no reason to try and enter new long positions in this market. We should avoid additional risk and limit our exposure until the market picks a direction in January.
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.
Current Position Changes
SHLD - Sears Holdings
The short position was stopped at $9.25 for a small gain.
VXX - VIX Futures ETF
The short position remains unopened until a trade at $29.50.
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BULLISH Play Updates
No Current Bullish Plays
BEARISH Play Updates
AKS - AK Steel - Company Profile
No specific news on AKS. Testing support.
Original Trade Description: December 17th.
AK Steel Holding Corporation, through its subsidiary, AK Steel Corporation, produces flat-rolled carbon, stainless and electrical steel, and tubular products in the United States and internationally. It produces flat-rolled value-added carbon steels, including coated, cold-rolled, and hot-rolled carbon steel products; and specialty stainless and electrical steels in sheet and strip forms. The company also produces carbon and stainless steel that is finished into welded steel tubing, which is used in the automotive, large truck, industrial, and construction markets; buys and sells steel and steel products, and other materials; and produces metallurgical coal from reserves in Pennsylvania. It sells its flat-rolled carbon steel products primarily to automotive manufacturers and to customers in the infrastructure and manufacturing markets, including electrical transmission, heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment, and appliances; and coated, cold-rolled, and hot-rolled carbon steel products to distributors, service centers, and converters. The company sells its stainless steel products to manufacturers and their suppliers in the automotive industry; manufacturers of food handling, chemical processing, pollution control, and medical and health equipment; and distributors and service centers. It also sells electrical steel products to manufacturers of power transmission and distribution transformers, as well as for use in the manufacture of electrical motors and generators. Company description from FinViz.com.
The steel sector rallied on expectations for Trump to place additional tariffs on imported steel and make American steel more competitive. While I am all for fair trade changes, that is likely to take many months if not a year or more to implement any changes what will help the U.S. steel companies. It will be months or quarters after that before the changes actually begin to show up in the earnings of these companies.
Earnings January 24th.
AKS rallied from $4.93 before the election to $11.39 for a +131% gain. Shares faded somewhat last week but still closed at $10.38 on Friday. When the post election balloon bursts, this stock could decline significantly. I would expect that to happen in the first week in January. I definitely do not expect the stock to be making higher highs.
Short AKS shares @ $10.17. See portfolio graphic for stop loss.
Long Jan $10 put @ .69 cents. No initial stop loss.
IWM - Russell 2000 ETF - ETF Profile
The Russell 2000 closed below initial support at 1,350 and could be headed for 1,300. Next week will be key to market direction.
Original Trade Description: December 10th
The IWM ETF seeks to track the investment results of the Russell 2000 Small cap Index.
The Russell is up +232 points or 20.1% in the last 22 trading days. It is grossly over extended and many small cap Russell stocks are up 30% to 40%. I understand the bullish sentiment that believes the economy will be better in 2017 but it will not be because of President Trump. His proposals will take months to get through the House and Senate and there is likely to be some major battles. Obamacare will not go away until 2018 or longer because it takes a long time to plan and execute a change that big. Lower taxes will not happen until 2018 because it will take months for both houses to vote on an acceptable tax bill. I seriously doubt they will change rates in the middle of the year. Any change will not occur until 2018.
I could go on but you get the picture. Typically, there is a honeymoon phase after a new president is elected. This phase has run its course. There are 14 trading days left in 2016 and any new highs are likely to be made before Christmas. After Christmas, investors may begin to worry and once into January and a new tax year, the selling could be dramatic. Do you remember January 2016? The market was not nearly as overextended as it is today and the Dow fell -2,150 points in just two weeks. Entering into a new tax year allows traders to capture profits and invest that money for another year before paying taxes.
Dow - January 2016
We also have the potential for a really messy inauguration or even a terrorist attack at the event. That potential will give cautious investors another reason to take profits in January.
I am recommending a long put on the Russell ETF. There is no stock vehicle we can use other than the VXX to capitalize on a market sell off. The VXX is flawed and while it may go up, it may not go up enough to make it worthwhile and it is volatile from day to day. I chose the Russell ETF because the premiums are cheap and the volatility should work in our favor. If you cannot use options then I suggest you buy the VXX shares at the first sign of market weakness after Christmas.
There is also another trigger factor to consider. The Dow is approaching 20,000 and that could be a massive sell the news event given the big gains. Since the Dow could hit that level this week I am recommending we initiate our long put position in advance.
Because the market could still rise, I want to follow the IWM higher and enter the position only when the ETF rolls over.
The ETF has short-term support at 137.75 and again at $137.25. I am recommending we enter the position with a dip to $137. If the Russell continues higher, I will continue raising the entry point as needed.
Position 12/12/16 with an IWM trade at $137.00
Long Feb $134 put @ $3.38, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.
SHLD - Sears Holdings - Company Profile
On Thursday Sears announced a standby letter of credit backed by CEO Eddie Lampert to keep the company afloat for a few more months. Since they lost $748 million in Q3 alone, this is only a band-aid. However, it did produce a short covering bounce of 10%. That bounce continued with another 3% gain to stop us out at $9.25 for a minor gain. Once the short covering on this news is over we will jump right back into Sears again ahead of a potential January bankruptcy.
Original Trade Description: December 15th
Sears Holdings Corporation operates as a retailer in the United States. It operates in two segments, Kmart and Sears Domestic. The Kmart segment operates retail stores that offer a range of products, including consumer electronics, seasonal merchandise, outdoor living, toys, lawn and garden equipment, food and consumables, and apparel; and in-store pharmacies. It provides merchandise under the Jaclyn Smith, Joe Boxer, and Alphaline labels; Sears brand products, such as Kenmore, Craftsman, and DieHard; and Kenmore-branded products. As of October 31, 2015, this segment operated approximately 952 Kmart stores. The Sears Domestic segment operates stores that provide appliances, consumer electronics/connected solutions, tools, sporting goods, outdoor living, lawn and garden equipment, apparel, footwear, jewelry, and accessories, as well as automotive services and products, such as tires, batteries, and home fashion products. It also offers appliances and services to commercial customers in the single-family residential construction/remodel, property management, multi-family new construction, and government/military sectors; appliance and plumbing fixtures to architects, designers, and new construction or remodeling customers; parts and repair services for appliances, lawn and garden equipment, consumer electronics, floor care products, and heating and cooling systems; and home improvement services, as well as protection agreements and product installation services. This segment provides merchandise under the Kenmore, Craftsman, DieHard, Covington, Canyon River Blues, Metaphor, Outdoor Life, Structure, and Apostrophe brands, as well as under the Roadhandler, Ty Pennington Style, and Alphaline brands. As of October 31, 2015, this segment operated 735 Sears stores. Company description from FinViz.com.
We played Sears as a short before and excitement about the coming holiday shopping helped lift shares in early November. Now that the holiday numbers are starting to come in, the results are very dismal. Sears is closer to bankruptcy today than they have ever been.
Last week they posted a GAAP loss of $748 million and an adjusted loss of $333 million. Gross margins fell to 19.2% compared to JC Penny at 37.2%. Sears is forced to severely discount items to attract what few shoppers they have. Same store sales at Kmart fell -4.4% and -10% at Sears. Revenue fell -12.5% to $5.0 billion.
Earnings March 9th.
Fitch warned Sears will burn through $1.5-$1.8 billion in cash this year and even selling off the Craftsman brand as planned will only gain them an additional 12 months of life.
Sears closed at a new 14-year low on Thursday and the outlook is growing increasingly dim. Suppliers fear a bankruptcy in January once the holiday shopping is over. Several suppliers have halted shipments to Sears on fears they will not be paid.
Update 12/19/16: Sears is desperate. They are offering a 20% discount on Sears.com this week if you pick up the merchandise at a store. The offer applies to apparel, jewelry, luggage, furniture, bed & bath, home decor and air mattresses.
Starting 12/21 coats are 60% off, up to 60% off women's boots, up to 75% off jewelry.
Starting 12/23 sleepwear is 60% off, watches 30%, Craftsman's tool sets 50% off.
Closed 12/30/16: Short SHLD shares @ $10.17, exit $9.25, +.92 gain.
No options recommended because of price.
VXX - Volatility Index Futures - ETF Description
The VXX is creeping higher without any material decline in the market. If we do get a big decline in January it should easily hit our entry target.
Original Trade Description: December 28th
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.
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 began.
We exited the last short at $26.65 for a $7 gain back on December 13th. I am expecting the January volatility to lift the VXX back to $30. That will give us a great entry for the expected market rally in Feb/Jan where the VXX will crash again.
Unfortunately, put options are expensive with a volatility instrument at this price level. The only recommendation is to short the ETF and forget it. 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. We may have to rotate in and out a couple times but it will eventually go to $10. Once we are in the position and profitable I will put a trailing stop loss on it. If the stop is hit 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.
I am putting an entry trigger on the position at $29.50, a level we saw on December 1st. I would expect this to be hit in early January. The VXX could rise well over $30 if the market really corrects so I am not putting a stop loss on the position until the correction is over.
With a VXX trade at $29.50
Short VXX shares, currently $24.62, no initial stop loss.
No options recommended because of price.
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