NEW DIRECTIONAL PUT PLAYS
PowerShares QQQ ETF - QQQ - close: 113.98 change: +0.39
Stop Loss: To Be Determined
Target(s): To Be Determined
Current Option Gain/Loss: Unopened
Average Daily Volume = 27.5 million
Entry on July -- at $---.--
Listed on July 20, 2015
Time Frame: 4 to 6 weeks
New Positions: Yes, see below
Big cap technology stocks have been strong performers this year and that has boosted the NASDAQ-100 index ($NDX) to new all-time highs. The $NDX is also outperforming the broader market with a +10% gain year to date versus a +3.4% gain in the S&P 500 index. The long-term up trend for the $NDX is still intact and yet we are short-term bearish on the $NDX. It's move too far, too fast, and on very, very narrow leadership. One way for us to play the $NDX is options on the QQQ ETF that tracks the index.
The QQQ is one of the largest and most liquid exchange traded funds. This particular ETF tracks the NASDAQ-100 index, which includes 100 of the largest non-financial stocks on the NASDAQ (lots of technology stocks). AAPL, MSFT, AMZN, GOOG, GOOGL, FB, GILD, INTC, CMCSA, CSCO and AMGN are its top holdings. You can see a list of the top twenty five holdings here.
The lack of leadership in the NASDAQ-100 (and QQQ) has been exceptionally narrow. That's a bearish sign.
On Friday the QQQ surged to new highs even though three stocks declined for every two advancing stocks in the QQQ. Today there were two declining stocks for every one stock that advanced (on the NASDAQ composite). More than 50% of the NASDAQ-100 components are actually negative for the year. So how is the index (and the Qs) at a new record high? The answer is because the $NDX is a market-cap weighed index.
The rally in the QQQ has been fueled by just four stocks with huge market caps. Here are the four stocks driving the QQQ (and their July gains):
Google (GOOG/GOOGL) +29%
Amazon.com (AMZN) +11%
Facebook (FB) +10%
Apple (AAPL) +3%
Those are some impressive numbers in just the last three weeks.
Now consider their market cap and their impact on the QQQ. AAPL's weighting in the QQQs is 13.9%. GOOG is 4.3% while GOOGL is 3.75%. AMZN is 4.19% and FB is 3.9%. For the record Microsoft (MSFT) is 7.0% of the QQQ.
The NASDAQ-100 index has a market cap of $5.4 trillion. If we combine the market cap of AAPL, AMZN, FB, and GOOG they are worth $1.7 trillion. These four stocks are almost 31% of the $NDX market cap.
So what happens to the QQQ when these four stocks start to see some profit taking after those big July gains?
Cable television business and stock market channel CNBC noted the above observations on air today. They also posted an article regarding this interesting situation on their website. You can read the CNBC article
CNBC also noted that the NASDAQ-100 index is more than three standard deviations above its simple 50-dma. That almost never happens. It's so rare it's only happened nine times in the last 35 years. While that is not a big sample size the $NDX was down the following week 8 out of 9 times.
There are no guarantees in the market. However, odds are good that the QQQ is due for a pullback that should happen soon. The lack of leadership driving the $NDX higher makes the rally very fragile.
There is one big caveat here. Apple (AAPL), the biggest component in the $NDX, is scheduled to report earnings on Tuesday evening, after the closing bell. AAPL tends to beat Wall Street's earnings estimates 90% of the time. Thus expectations tend to be pretty bullish for AAPL's results.
If they disappoint it could have a significant negative impact on the QQQ.
Since expectations are already bullish for AAPL's quarter they probably need to really blow the doors off and crush the estimate to move the QQQ. It's possible but it seems unlikely that AAPL will singlehandedly lift the QQQ on Wednesday.
We suspect the market could start to see some profit taking tomorrow. Therefore we are suggesting traders buy QQQ puts at the opening bell tomorrow morning (Tuesday, July 21st). If you're worried about AAPL's earnings you could wait until Wednesday morning to buy puts. That way you could hear the results and see how the markets is reacting to AAPL's numbers after hours and pre-market on Wednesday.
Please note we are not setting a stop loss for this trade yet. We'll add a stop in the Wednesday evening newsletter.
Buy puts at the opening bell (on July 21st)
- Suggested Positions -
Buy the SEP $112 PUT (QQQ150918P112) current ask $1.88
option price is a current quote and not a suggested entry price.
Option Format: symbol-year-month-day-call-strike