Falling oil prices were blamed for the decline in the markets but there were multiple factors. The biggest factor was the lack of buyers. Multiple times over the last several days, triple digit rally have been sold. We have been unable to produce a decent short squeeze because shorts are content to let their positions ride rather than race to cover on short term bounces.
We are changing the format slightly this week. The entry date, earnings date, current price, change for the day and stop loss are all in the portfolio graphic. They will no longer be listed in the individual play descriptions. Everything you need is now available in a single location.
Current Position Changes
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.
STZ - Constellation Brands
The position was triggered when STZ shares rallied to $144.05 this morning.
The entry price was $4.70 and the stop loss is 138.25.
Original Call Recommendations (Alpha by Symbol)
DLR - Digital Realty Trust
Not a good day for DLR. Shares declined -$1.22 to support at $75. Any further decline should trigger our stop loss at $74.80.
Original Trade Description: January 9, 2016:
The last several days have been tough on investors. Stocks experienced a global market sell-off. This volatility and uncertainty could push investors into safer, high-dividend paying stocks. Currently the 10-year U.S. bond only yields 2.1%. That makes a stock like DLR, with a dividend yield above 4%, a lot more attractive. The company has a history of consistently raising its dividend over the last nine years in a row. The stock's
relative strength doesn't hurt either.
DLR is in the financial sector. According to the company,
"Digital Realty Trust, Inc. supports the data center and colocation strategies of more than 1,000 firms across its secure, network-rich portfolio of data centers located throughout North America, Europe, Asia and Australia. Digital Realty's clients include domestic and international companies of all sizes, ranging from financial services, cloud and information technology services, to manufacturing, energy, gaming, life sciences and consumer products."
DLR has consistently beat Wall Street earnings expectations the last four quarters in a row. The last two quarters the company has also beat analysts' revenue estimates.
Earlier this week DLR provided their 2016 outlook and the company's forecast was slightly above expectations, which helped shares resist the market's sell-off.
Here is an excerpt from DLR's press release on their 2016 outlook:
Digital Realty expects 2016 core FFO (Funds from Operations) per share to be within a range of $5.45-$5.60, which represents a 7% increase at the midpoint from the midpoint of 2015 core FFO per share guidance. Foreign currency translation is expected to represent a headwind to core FFO per share of 1%-2% in 2016.
The recent relative strength in shares of DLR over the last few weeks has lifted shares above key resistance near the $75.00 level. It has also produced a buy signal on the point & figure chart, which is now forecasting a longer-term target of $102.00.
"We are seeing solid demand for Digital Realty's comprehensive set of data center solutions, which gives us confidence in our ability to achieve accelerating core FFO per share growth in 2016," commented Andrew P. Power, Digital Realty's Chief Financial Officer. "We also expect to generate double-digit AFFO per share growth (Adjusted Funds from Operations), driven by greater cash flow contribution from our core business, accretion from the Telx acquisition and the continued burn-off of straight-line rent. In short, the quality of earnings is improving, the growth in cash flow is accelerating, and we are optimistic about the prospects for our business in 2016 and beyond."
Friday saw DLR shares tag new all-time highs (@ 77.67). We are suggesting a trigger to buy calls at $77.75. Plan on exiting prior to February option expiration.
Long Feb $80 Call @ $1.10, initial stop loss $74.80
PCRX - Pacira Pharmaceuticals
The position was entered on the positive open and I am encouraged that there was no material selling despite the -2.7% decline in the Biotech index.
Original Trade Description: January 16th
PCRX delivered a very bumpy ride for investors in 2015. The stock outperformed the year before with +54% gain in 2014. Then sentiment changed last year and by October 2015 shares of PCRX were down -58% for the year and down -70% from its February 2015 highs. Fortunately some strong earnings news and a legal win helped PCRX pare its 2015 loss to -13%. Today PCRX is bouncing from support and looks poised to continue its late 2015 rebound.
PCRX is in the healthcare sector. According to the company,
"Pacira Pharmaceuticals, Inc. is a specialty pharmaceutical company focused on the clinical and commercial development of new products that meet the needs of acute care practitioners and their patients. The company's flagship product, EXPAREL® (bupivacaine liposome injectable suspension), indicated for single-dose infiltration into the surgical site to produce postsurgical analgesia, was commercially launched in the United States in April 2012. EXPAREL and two other products have successfully utilized DepoFoam, a unique and proprietary product delivery technology that encapsulates drugs without altering their molecular structure, and releases them over a desired period of time."
The legal win I mentioned above was a fight between PCRX and the F.D.A. There was a disagreement over how PCRX was marketing its Exparel drug. The FDA argued the treatment was only approved for a couple different types of surgery. The company filed a lawsuit against the FDA in September last year. On December 15th they announced a resolution with the FDA. The lawsuit was dropped and the FDA officially rescinded its warning letter about how PCRX was marketing Exparel. Shares of PCRX soared about 15% on the news.
Some of the volatility last year was likely due to PCRX earnings. The company has beaten Wall Street's earnings estimates in three of the last four quarters. Yet they have missed the revenue estimate twice. At the same time Revenue growth has slowed from +84% to +59% to +25% to +19.6% in the most recent quarterly report.
PCRX did offer some good news this year. On January 7th they pre-warned that Q4 revenues would be better than expected. Wall Street was estimating $67.4 million for the quarter. PCRX is now forecasting +12.2% improvement from a year ago to $69.4 million. They also raised their full-year 2015 guidance.
The stock market's sell-off in 2016 pulled PCRX down toward support in the $60 area but traders started buying the dip in a big way on Thursday. PCRX has outperformed the market the last two days in a row. If this bounce continues it could spark some short covering. The most recent data listed short interest at 23% of the relatively small 33.7 million share float. Another positive is PCRX's point & figure chart shows the bounce off support and is currently forecasting an $83.00 target.
Earnings: Feb 26th, before the open.
Long Feb $75 Call @ $2.75, initial stop loss $61.45
QQQ - Powershares QQQ
The QQQ gapped open to $102.37 before dipping again to $100 intraday. We entered this position on a dip buy to $100.50 on Friday. The current stop loss is $97.45.
If you missed our entry point I would still consider new positions on a rebound from these levels. Investors should wait for a bounce first so a rally past $102.50 would be an attractive entry point.
Original Trade Description: January 7, 2016:
The stock market moves on emotion. Most of the time it is a tug-of-war between fear and greed. Occasionally one emotion takes control of the market and stocks move too fast one direction. That is where we are at today.
Fears of a global slowdown thanks to disappointing economic data out of China have increased. China has devalued their currency again, which does not generate confidence. Yesterday we had the nuclear weapon testing headlines from North Korea, which generates fear. We have plunging oil prices, which is fueling worries about deflation.
Odds of a snap back rally are growing and we want to be ready to catch it. One way to play it is the NASDAQ-100 ETF or the QQQ. These are very liquid, big cap names that fund managers can move in and out of more easily.
Thus far 2016 has been ruled by fear. We are only four trading days into the year and the NASDAQ composite is already down -6.4% completely erasing its +5.7% gain from 2015. The QQQ is down -6.2% in the last four days and it's down -8.25% from its December 29th peak just six trading days ago. That's too far too fast.
Tonight we are suggesting a short-term bullish trade when stocks bounce. They will bounce (eventually). Today's intraday high on the QQQ was $107.29. We are suggesting a trigger to buy calls at $107.35. We'll use an initial stop loss at $103.85. More conservative traders may want to use a stop loss closer to today's intraday low instead ($104.81).
Long Feb $105 Call @ $1.34, initial stop loss $97.45
SPY - SPDR S&P-500 ETF
The S&P honored its August lows today but the outlook is negative. If the overnight futures hold at their current -12 level we could see the S&P dip back to support at 1,867 again.
The initial position was entered at the open today when the SPY gapped up to $190 at the open. Our entry trigger was $189.35.
Original Trade Description: January 13, 2016:
The stock market's sell-off seems to be getting worse. Constant worries about a slowing global economy and the potential for another currency devaluation in China have spooked investors. The nearly non-stop plunge in crude oil hasn't helped although at the moment it looks like the $30.00 a barrel level is offering some short-term support for oil. I wouldn't count on oil holding above $30 though.
In the U.S. we have the Federal Reserve that has begun a rate-hiking cycle seemingly at the wrong time as the U.S. economy slows down. The Atlanta Fed's Q4 GDP growth estimates have fallen to +0.8%. Meanwhile corporate earnings are forecasted to be negative for the second quarter in a row, which would be an "earnings recession" in the U.S.
All of these ingredients have come together in a bearish recipe to send stocks lower. Eventually stocks will bounce. The tone on Wall Street today felt "a little panicky" according to some market watchers. We could be getting close to a bottom (at least a short-term bottom). Tonight we are going to try and pick a trade to catch the bottom. This is typically called "catching a falling knife" and can be hazardous to your trading account. Consider this an aggressive, higher-risk trade. I suggest small positions to limit risk.
The SPY has potential support in the $187.00 area and again in the $182 region. I'm looking at a buy-the-dip trade near the lower level. The October 2014 low in the SPY was $181.92. The August intraday low was $182.40.
Long March $195 call @ $3.55, initial stop loss $184.90
STZ - Constellation Brands
The STZ play was triggered when the stock moved through the trigger at $144.05 early on Tuesday. The stock posted a $2.87 gain in a very choppy market. That relative strength suggests we could have a winning play if the market cooperates.
Original Trade Description: January 14, 2016:
STZ was one of last year's best performing stocks with +45% gains in 2015. Consistently raising earnings and revenue guidance can do that for a stock. The company is seeing so much demand for their beer products that STZ just announced they're building a huge new brewery in Mexico. Meanwhile their wine and spirits business is seeing stronger margins due to recent acquisitions. Overall STZ is moving into 2016 with the wind at its back.
STZ is in the consumer goods sector. According to the company,
"Constellation Brands is a leading international producer and marketer of beer, wine and spirits with operations in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, New Zealand and Italy. In 2014, Constellation was one of the top performing stocks in the S&P 500 Consumer Staples Index. Constellation is the number three beer company in the U.S. with high-end, iconic imported brands including Corona Extra, Corona Light, Modelo Especial, Negra Modelo and Pacifico. Constellation is also the world's leader in premium wine, selling great brands that people love including Robert Mondavi, Clos du Bois, Kim Crawford, Rex Goliath, Mark West, Franciscan Estate, Ruffino and Jackson-Triggs. The company's premium spirits brands include SVEDKA Vodka and Black Velvet Canadian Whisky... Based in Victor, N.Y., the company believes that industry leadership involves a commitment to brand-building, our trade partners, the environment, our investors and to consumers around the world who choose our products when celebrating big moments or enjoying quiet ones. Founded in 1945, Constellation has grown to become a significant player in the beverage alcohol industry with more than 100 brands in its portfolio, sales in approximately 100 countries, about 40 facilities and approximately 7,700 talented employees."
STZ has been killing it on the earnings front. They have beaten earnings the last three quarters in a row. Management has raised their guidance the last three quarters in a row. Their most recent earnings report was last week on January 7th. Analysts were expecting a profit of $1.30 a share on revenues of $1.62 billion. STZ beat estimates with a profit of $1.42 a shares. Revenues were up +6.4% to $1.64 billion. Strong beer sales has helped fuel double-digit shipment increases. The company announced they were building another brewery and raised their guidance again.
This bullish outlook sparked a couple of new price target upgrades ($172, $174 and $185). The stock soared to new highs and broke through key resistance near the $145.00 level on its earnings news and guidance.
Shares have seen some profit taking since its spike to new highs. Now STZ is near support at one of its long-term trend lines of higher lows. The simple 50-dma should offer technical support at $140.40. Meanwhile the $140.00 level could offer some round-number, psychological support. Both of these are converging near its trend line of higher highs.
STZ underperformed the market today, which may mean more profit taking ahead. We want to buy calls on STZ as it nears support in the $140.00-140.50 area. Tonight we are listing a buy-the-dip trigger at $140.50 with a stop loss $138.25, just under its early January low.
Long April $150 Call @ $4.70, initial stop loss $138.25
Original Put Recommendations (Alpha by Symbol)
VXX - iPath S&P 500 VIX Futures ETN
The VXX opened slightly lower but rallied intraday as the market crashed. By day's end the VXX settled back to only a penny gain. This ETF can be volatile but once the market calms it should drop like a rock.
Original Trade Description: January 16th
At the risk of stating the obvious, the last two weeks in stocks have been brutal. Investors have taken a risk-off attitude and sold just about everything. The small cap Russell 2000 index is already down -11% in the first ten trading days of 2016. The NASDAQ composite is off -10%. The S&P 500 has declined -8%.
The new year has suffered a parade of negative headlines from disappointing economic data both in the U.S. and China. China devaluating its currency. N. Korea claiming to have hydrogen bombs (several times worse than normal nukes). Crude oil crashing into multi-year lows. Plus falling sentiment for corporate earnings, which are expected to be negative two quarters in a row.
No one wanted to be long over the three-day weekend, which helped drive stocks even lower on Friday. The S&P 500 dipped to 15-month lows before paring its losses on Friday. The fact that Friday was also options expiration just added to the volatility.
Stocks normally don't move that fast in a straight line for very long. Markets a very oversold and way overdue for a bounce. The rebound could show up this week. One way to play it is the volatility indices. The VXX follows the iPath S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures Index. When investors panic volatility spikes but these are almost always short-term events. You can see on the long-term weekly chart below these spikes always fade.
Tonight we are suggesting put options on the VXX to capture the decline as volatility fades again and it will sooner or later. We are betting on sooner. We want to buy the March $23 puts at the opening bell on Tuesday.
Long March $23 Put @ $2.41, no stop loss