The small cap Russell hit a 7-week low on Monday as bearish sentiment increased. The index rebounded from 1,520 to 1,567 mid-week but fell back to 1,536 at the close on Friday. Small cap sentiment is weakening and the internals are bearish. This should predict a continued decline in the big caps but we are only one tweet away from a rally or a crash. Fundamentals do not apply.
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
BITA - BitAuto
The short position was entered at the open on Monday.
BHGE - Baker Hughes GE
The short position was entered at the open on Monday.
AOBC - American Outdoor Brands
The long position was closed at the open on Monday.
GME - Gamestop
The long-put position was closed at the open on Monday.
VIPS - Vipshop Holdings
The long-call position was stopped at $8.25.
INO - Inovio
The long-call position expired on Friday.
BULLISH Play Updates
AOBC - American Outdoor Brands - Company Profile
No specific news. We closed the long call position at the open on Monday for lack of movement.
Original Trade Description: April 27th.
American Outdoor Brands Corporation designs, manufactures, and sells firearms worldwide. The company's Firearms segment offers handguns, long guns, handcuffs, suppressors, and other firearm-related products under the Smith & Wesson, M&P, Performance Center, Gemtech, and Thompson/Center Arms brands. It also sells parts purchased through third parties; operates a private law enforcement training facility; and provides manufacturing services to other businesses under the Smith & Wesson and Smith & Wesson Precision Components brands. This segment sells its products to gun enthusiasts, collectors, hunters, sportsmen, competitive shooters, individuals desiring home and personal protection, law enforcement and security agencies and officers, and military agencies. The company's Outdoor Products & Accessories segment offers reloading, gunsmithing, and gun cleaning supplies; stainless steel cutting tools and accessories; flashlights, tree saws, and related trimming accessories; shooting supplies, rests, and other related accessories; apparel; vault accessories; laser grips and laser sights; and a range of products for survival and emergency preparedness, as well as field rests, knives, gun vises, hearing protection products, camping and survival gears, and case tumblers. It provides its products under the Caldwell, Wheeler, Tipton, Frankford Arsenal, Smith & Wesson, M&P, Thompson/Center, Lockdown, Hooyman, BOG-POD, Golden Rod, Non-Typical, Crimson Trace, Imperial, Schrade, Old Timer, Bubba Blade, UST, and KeyGear brands. The company markets its products through dealers, retailers, in-store retail channels, and range operations; social and electronic media; in-store retail merchandising systems and strategies; and Websites and online retail stores. The company was formerly known as Smith & Wesson Holding Corporation and changed its name to American Outdoor Brands Corporation in January 2017. The company was founded in 1852 and is based in Springfield, Massachusetts. Company description from FinViz.com.
Every time some idiot goes berserk with a firearm the anti-gun crowd ramps up their attack on lawful gun owners. It does not seem to matter that 270 million gun owners in the US have not broken the law but they want to change the laws because of individuals that don't obey the laws anyway. Murder is against the law, but these violators do not care.
The ensuing efforts to ban guns always sends millions of people into the gun stores to buy guns while they are still legal. The stocks of gun makers rally for 6-9 months and then fall back into dormancy.
The shooting in New Zealand and others have triggered the current wave of proposed laws. The FBI reported that Federal background checks rose from 2,053,886 in February to 2,644,851 in March. That is the biggest spike in Feb-Mar number since the reporting began in 1998. April is likely to be even larger.
Shares of Ruger gained $3 for the week and AOBC, formerly Smith and Wesson, closed at a two-month high. As these numbers are more widely reported and the April numbers show another increase, the gun stocks are likely to continue higher.
Earnings June 6th.
Closed 5/13: Long June $11 call @ 30 cents, exit 7 cents, -23 cent loss.
Previously closed 5/7: Long AOBC shares @ $9.97, stopped $9.50, -.47 loss.
INO - Inovio - Company Profile
We were holding the inexpensive May option in hopes for a post earnings bounce. That did not happen and the option expired worthless.
Original Trade Description: April 3rd.
Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a late-stage biotechnology company, focuses on the discovery, development, and commercialization of DNA-based immunotherapies and vaccines to prevent and treat cancers and infectious diseases. Its SynCon immunotherapy design has the ability to break the immune system's tolerance of cancerous cells, as well as is intended to facilitate cross-strain protection against known, as well as new unmatched strains of pathogens, such as influenza. The company is involved in conducting and planning clinical studies of its proprietary SynCon immunotherapies for human papillomavirus-caused pre-cancers and cancers; bladder cancer; glioblastoma multiforme; hepatitis B virus; hepatitis C virus; human immunodeficiency virus; Ebola virus; middle east respiratory syndrome; and Zika virus. Its partners and collaborators include MedImmune, Limited; The Wistar Institute; University of Pennsylvania; GeneOne Life Science Inc.; ApolloBio Corporation; Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; Genentech, Inc.; Plumbline Life Sciences, Inc.; Drexel University; National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; United States Military HIV Research Program; U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases; National Institutes of Health; HIV Vaccines Trial Network; Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency; the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy; and Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations. Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc. was founded in 1979 and is headquartered in Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania. Company description from FinViz.com.
Inovio is developing new cancer treatments that deliver coded DNA to cells so they can create their own antibodies against the invading cancer cells. They have multiple trials in progress and the success of any one trial will catapult INO significantly higher.
The drawback is money. They ended the year with $85.5 million after burning through $69 million in 2018. In February they announced a secondary to raise another $82 million. The secondary was convertible notes at $5.38 in 2023. Since that is almost a slam dunk deal, investors trashed the stock because of the 17% dilution in 2023. I think that is very short sighted since we could see three years of stock gains before that comes to pass.
Earnings May 8th.
After crashing to $3.30 on the secondary announcement shares have started to rebound. Wednesday's close was a two-month high. They announced the early closing for enrollment on two different cancer trials. They also announced a new therapy against respiratory tract tumors in a new study. Good things are breaking out all over.
Update 4/20: Inovio published new data on their cancer killing T-Cell engagers. The DNA encoded Bi-specific T Cell Engagers cleared established tumors in preclinical studies. One dose of the drug lasted for months compared to only hours for the current versions.
Update 5/11: INO reported a loss of 30 cents that missed estimates for 29 cents. Revenue of $2.8 million was a big miss of $4.4 million analysts expected. Shares fell and our option will likely expire worthless.
Expired 5/17: Long May $4 call @ 30 cents, expired, -30 cent loss.
Previously Closed 4/17: Long INO shares @ $3.86, exit $3.85, -.01 loss.
TRN - Trinity Industries - Company Profile
Trinity shares declined after Genesee & Wyoming posted lackluster traffic in April. Weak rail demand would impact Trinity orders. I considered closing it but the option is cheap and we have two months.
Original Trade Description: May 4th.
Trinity Industries, Inc. provides rail transportation products and services in North America. It operates through three segments: Railcar Leasing and Management Services Group, Rail Products Group, and All Other. The Railcar Leasing and Management Services Group segment leases freight and tank railcars; originates and manages railcar leases for third-party investor-owned fund; and provides fleet maintenance and management services to industrial shippers. As of December 31, 2018, it had a fleet of 99,215 owned or leased railcars. This segment serves industrial shipper and railroad companies operating in agriculture, construction and metals, consumer products, energy, and refined products and chemicals markets. The Rail Products Group segment provides freight and tank railcars for transporting various liquids, gases, and dry cargo; and offers railcar maintenance services. Its railcars include autorack, box, covered hopper, gondola, intermodal, open hopper, and tank cars. This segment serves railroads, leasing companies, and industrial shippers of products in the agriculture, construction and metals, consumer products, energy, and refined products and chemicals markets. The All Other segment manufactures guardrail, crash cushions, and other highway barriers; and engages in the captive insurance, transportation, and other peripheral businesses. The company sells or leases products and services through its own sales personnel and independent sales representatives. Trinity Industries, Inc. was founded in 1933 and is headquartered in Dallas, Texas. Company description from FinViz.com.
This is a simple play. Trinity reported earnings of 24 cents that beat estimates for 20 cents. Revenue of $604.8 million missed estimates for $674.9 million. They guided for full year earnings of $1.15-$1.35 and that put the midpoint of $1.25 below analyst estimates for $1.31.
They also affirmed full year production targets of 23,500-25,500 railcars. However, they deleted 3,050 railcars from their backlog because of the weak financial condition of the buyer. It was assumed to be an energy company. The cars were not scheduled to be delivered in 2019 so it has no impact on their earnings forecast.
Shares were hammered for a $3 loss to $21. After spending five days in the doghouse shares are starting to rebound. Analysts believe the price drop was an overreaction on a solid company with a great business.
Buy July $23 call, currently 70 cents, no initial stop loss.
VIPS - Vipshop Holdings - Company Profile
No specific news. The China news last weekend caused a knee jerk reaction on Monday to stop us out. This is a Chinese stock.
Original Trade Description: March 30th.
Vipshop Holdings Limited operates as an online discount retailer for various brands in the People's Republic of China. It operates in two segments, Vip.com and Internet Finance Business. The company offers women's apparel, such as casual wear, jeans, dresses, outerwear, swimsuits, lingerie, pajamas, and maternity clothes; men's apparel comprising casual and smart-casual T-shirts, polo shirts, jackets, pants, and underwear; women and men shoes for casual and formal occasions; and accessories that include belts, jewelry, watches, and glasses for women and men. It also provides handbags, which comprise purses, satchels, duffel bags, and wallets; apparel, gears and accessories, furnishings and decor, toys, and games for boys, girls, infants, and toddlers; sports apparel, sports gear, and footwear for tennis, badminton, soccer, and swimming; and consumer electronic products, including computers, mobile handsets, digital cameras, and home appliances. In addition, the company offers skin care and cosmetic products, such as cleansers, lotions, face and body creams, face masks, sunscreen, foundations, lipsticks, eye shadows, and nail polish; and home furnishings comprising bedding and bath products, home decors, dining and tabletop items, and small household appliances. Further, it provides designer apparel, footwear, and accessories; and snacks and health supplements, and occasion-based gifts. Additionally, the company offers Internet finance services, which comprise consumer and supplier financing, and wealth management services. It provides its branded products through its vipshop.com, vip.com, and lefeng.com online platforms, as well as through its cellular phone application. Additionally, the company offers warehousing, logistics, procurement, research and development, consulting, and software development and information technology support services. Vipshop Holdings Limited was founded in 2008 and is headquartered in Guangzhou, the People's Republic of China. Company description from FinViz.com.
In late February, the company reported earnings of 19 cents that beat estimates for 18 cents. However, revenue of $3.80 billion missed estimates for $3.96 billion. The 8.1% rise in revenue was down from a 16.4% rise in the prior quarter. The CEO said the weak quarter was the result of the company shifting some low margin categories from the "first-party business" and into the "marketplace platform." He said the move would result in a positive improvement in earnings beginning next quarter. For the current quarter they were only targeting 1-5% revenue growth and analysts were expecting 11.6%. The CEO cautioned that revenue growth was not the metric to worry about. The company is now focused on increasing profits rather than increasing revenue at any cost.
Zacks reiterated a buy rating saying earnings estimates had risen 5.9% over the last 60 days which includes the post earnings commentary. VIPS only has a 9.7 PE compared to 29.4 for the rest of the industry.
After the Zacks comments on the 25th the stock began escalating sharply and closed at an 8-month high on Friday. The stock is now over the 50, 100 and 200 day averages.
Long August $9 call @ 75 cents, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.
Previously closed 4/15: Long VIPS shares @ $8.19, exit $7.85, -.34 loss.
BEARISH Play Updates
BHGE - Baker Hughes GE - Company Description
Because of our profitable May option we closed the position at the open on Monday.
Original Trade Description: April 20th.
Baker Hughes, a GE company provides integrated oilfield products, services, and digital solutions worldwide. Its Oilfield Services segment offers drilling, wireline, evaluation, completion, production, and intervention services; and drilling and completions fluids, completions tools and systems, wellbore intervention tools and services, artificial lift systems, pressure pumping systems, and oilfield and industrial chemicals for integrated oil and natural gas, and oilfield service companies. The company's Oilfield Equipment segment designs and manufactures products and services, including pressure control equipment and services, subsea production systems and services, drilling equipment, and flexible pipeline systems; and onshore and offshore drilling and production systems, and equipment for floating production platforms, as well as provides a range of services related to onshore and offshore drilling activities. Its Turbomachinery & Process Solutions segment provides equipment and related services for mechanical-drive, compression, and power-generation applications across the oil and gas industry, as well as products and services to serve the downstream segments of industry. Its product portfolio includes drivers, compressors, and turnkey solutions; and pumps, valves, and compressed natural gas and small-scale liquefied natural gas solutions. This segment serves upstream, midstream, onshore and offshore, industrial, engineering, procurement, and construction companies. The company's Digital Solutions segment provides sensor-based measurement, non-destructive testing and inspection, turbine, generator and plant controls, and condition monitoring, as well as pipeline integrity solutions for a range of industries, including oil and gas, power generation, aerospace, metals, and transportation. It serves through direct and indirect channels. The company is based in Houston, Texas. Baker Hughes, a GE company is a subsidiary of General Electric Company. Company description from FinViz.com.
On Thursday energy services giant Schlumberger (SLB) reported earnings of 30 cents that matched estimates. Revenue rose only slightly to $7.879 billion but it was enough to beat estimates for $7.810 billion. Both numbers were lower than the prior quarter. The company projected lower activity in land rigs in North America and seasonal slowness in international markets. North American revenue was down -3% because of pricing weakness. They do expect the overall market to improve as production cuts overseas take effect. They also warned that four years of slowing investment in the sector would result to lower services activity in the years ahead.
If Schlumberger is struggling in this energy market then Baker Hughes GE will be struggling as well. Shares rallied with oil prices early in 2019 but now that prices have stabilized and we are losing 10 active rigs a week, their earnings should be suffering.
They make a lot of money from fracking and completing wells. With drilled and uncompleted wells now over 8,500 there is plenty of work but that number is growing instead of declining. That means production companies are not completing them. With pipelines at capacity there is no reason to spend a couple million dollars completing a well only to have it sit idle because you can't get the oil to market.
I suspect Baker Hughes is going to disappoint when they report earnings on April 30th. I am recommending we buy an inexpensive put option and hold over the report. The May $25 put is relatively inexpensive.
Update 5/3: BHGE reported earnings of 15 cents that nearly doubled the year ago quarter at 9 cents. However, cash flow was negative -$419 million compared to estimates for +$188.5 million. Shares declined sharply on the news but rebounded slightly on Friday.
Update 5/11: BHGE announced a quarterly dividend of 18 cents payable May 31st to holders on May 21st. Shares closed at a 4-month low. This is a May option so I am recommending we close it on Monday at the open.
Closed 5/13: Long May $25 put @ 65 cents, exit $2.95, +2.30 gain.
BITA - BitAuto Holdings - Company Description
No specific news. Minor oversold bounce with the market.
Original Trade Description: May 11th
Bitauto Holdings Limited, through its subsidiaries, provides Internet content and marketing services, and transaction services for the automobile industry in the People's Republic of China. It operates in three segments: Advertising and Subscription Business, Transaction Services Business, and Digital Marketing Solutions Business. The Advertising and Subscription Business segment offers advertising services, including automobile pricing and promotional information, specifications, reviews, and consumer feedback to automakers through its bitauto.com Website and related mobile applications. It also provides transaction-focused online advertisement and promotional services for automakers, automobile dealers, auto finance partners, and insurance companies; and Web-based and mobile-based integrated digital marketing solutions to automobile dealers. The Transaction Services Business segment operates an online automobile retail transaction platform, which provides transaction platform and self-operated financing services. The Digital Marketing Solutions Business segment offers one-stop digital marketing solutions, including Website creation and maintenance, online public relation, online marketing campaign, advertising agency, big data application, and digital image creation services for automakers. The company also distributes its dealer customers' automobile pricing and promotional information through its Internet service provider partners. Bitauto Holdings Limited was founded in 2000 and is headquartered in Beijing, the People's Republic of China. Company description from FinViz.com.
In theory this would be a great play on the long side because the stock is only trading at half its book value. However, auto sales in China are crashing. The company supplies online subscription and marketing services to auto dealers. When car sales are falling those dealers do not have the money to spend on online marketing programs.
The company has been spending a huge amount of money in developing systems and new programs to capitalize on a future rebound in sales but it has not arrived and their cash burn is accelerating.
In the next round of sanctions scheduled to be announced next week there could be a large hit to autos and auto parts. This will raise the price of cars and slow sales even more. Bitauto shares have been crashing since early March and the new tariffs could cause that to accelerate.
Earnings June 18th.
Short BITA shares @ $10.87, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.
Optional: Long July $10 Put @ 85 cents, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.
GME - Gamestop - Company Description
This was a may option and we closed it at the open on Monday at a 15-year low.
Original Trade Description: March 23rd.
GameStop Corp. operates as a multichannel video game, consumer electronics, and wireless services retailer. It operates in five segments: United States, Canada, Australia, Europe, and Technology Brands. The company sells new and pre-owned video game hardware; video game software; pre-owned and value video games; video game accessories, including controllers, gaming headsets, virtual reality products, memory cards, and other add-ons; and digital products, such as downloadable content, network points cards, prepaid digital and prepaid subscription cards, and digitally downloadable software. It also sells wireless products, services, and accessories; collectibles, such as licensed merchandise primarily related to the video game, television, and movie industries, as well as pop culture themes; gaming-related print media, and mobile and consumer electronics products; PC entertainment software in various genres comprising sports, action, strategy, adventure/role playing, and simulation; and carry strategy guides, magazines, and interactive game figures. In addition, the company operates e-commerce sites under the GameStop, EB Games, Micromania, and ThinkGeek brands; collectibles stores under the Zing Pop Culture and ThinkGeek brands; and Spring Mobile, an authorized AT&T reseller operating AT&T branded wireless retail stores. Further, it provides Game Informer magazine, a print and digital video game publication; and operates Simply Mac, an authorized Apple reseller that sells Apple products, including desktop computers, laptops, tablets and smart phones, and related accessories and other consumer electronics products, as well as training, warranty, and repair services. As of March 28, 2018, the company operated approximately 7,200 stores across 14 countries. It primarily operates its stores under the GameStop, EB Games, and Micromania brands. The company was formerly known as GSC Holdings Corp. GameStop Corp. was founded in 1994 and is headquartered in Grapevine, Texas. Company description from FinViz.com.
Gamestop is headed to the same fate as Blockbuster. Gamestop sells preowned game consoles and video games. With Google announcing Stadia where all games are browser based and run on any device and computing power is not important, this is a major hurdle for Gamestop.
Microsoft announced a similar fate with plans on moving the Xbox to the cloud, called Project XCloud, and there will be no game consoles or game CDs.
With these two giants eliminating the hardware and software that is resold by Gamestop, this company is in a world of trouble. They do sell other products but consumers come into their stores for the games. With 7,200 stores they have a lot of overhead and their biggest revenue items are disappearing.
Granted, this will not happen overnight. These game conversions to the cloud will take months to take hold and many months to become the majority of market share. However, investors will see the future, with Blockbuster a prime example, and Gamestop shares are going to bleed value in the months ahead.
Earnings April 2nd. Normally we would not take a position in front of earnings but there will be analyst questions about the path of progress. The answers may be hard for investors to handle. I am recommending we own a put and hold it over the earnings report.
Update 4/3: Gamestop (GME) reported earnings of $1.60 that matched estimates but was down from $2.02 in the year ago quarter. Revenue declined from $3.32 billion to $3.06 billion and missed estimates for $3.28 billion. Even worse they projected a 5% to 10% decline in revenue in 2019 and losses of up to 5 cents per share in Q1. The company is struggling to adapt to changes in the video game industry.
Microsoft has announced a new Xbox game console that only uses downloaded games. That prevents users from reselling the games to Gamestop on CDs as in the past. Apple and Google also announced new video game offerings that stream games through your browser and the game does not reside on your computer or mobile device. That means no CDs and no consoles needed to play the games. That means no resale opportunities for Gamestop. This is also going to impact the resale value of existing games and consoles. In addition to their woes, Activision Blizzard announced today they were going to release a battle-royale version of Call of Duty that would be free online in the month of April.
Shares fell below $9 at the open but rebounded sharply in what should be a dead cat bounce.
Update 4/6/19: After the disappointing earnings Bank of America reiterated an underperform (sell) with a price target of $5. However, Telsey Advisory reiterated a market perform and a $10 target. The stock closed at $9.86.
Closed 5/13: Long May $10 put @ 65 cents, exit $1.47, +.82 gain.
VXXB - Barclays VIX Futures ETN - ETN Description
Huge volatility spike over the last two weeks but even with the market decline on Friday the VXXB closed near two week lows. Traders are tiring of the market decline. It will probably take us weeks to make a new low but it will happen.
Original Trade Description: Nov 17th.
The investment seeks return linked to the performance of the S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures Index TR. The ETN offers exposure to futures contracts of specified maturities on the VIX index and not direct exposure to the VIX index or its spot level. The index is designed to provide investors with exposure to one or more maturities of futures contracts on the CBOE Volatility Index. Company description from FinViz.com.
The VXXB is a short-term volatility ETN 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 ETN. 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, the prior VXX ETN had done five 1:4 reverse stock splits. The last five reverse splits occurred at $13.11 (11/2010), $8.77 (10/2012), $12.84 (11/2013), $9.52 (8/8/16), $12.77 (8/22/17). The prospectus says it can reverse split anytime it trades under $25 for a prolonged period and the splits will always be 1:4.
We know from experience that the VXXB and its predecessor the VXX always decline long term.
Unfortunately, put options are expensive with a volatility instrument at this price level. The only recommendation is to short the ETN 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. Once we are in the position and profitable, I may 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.
The VXXB will be hard to short. The shares are out there and being traded because the volume on Thursday was 22.1 million. You have to tell your broker you really want to short it and make them find the shares. Sometimes it takes days or even a week before your broker will find you the shares. Trust me, be persistent and it will be worth the effort.
Short VXXB shares @ $35.33, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.