If the pension fund rebalance occurs as Credit Suisse expects, Friday could be a bad day. CS expects between $38 and $58 billion in stock to be sold on Friday. In a low volume market, this could produce a sharp decline. Most of the selling would happen at the close but there are probably a lot of traders that will try to initiate some shorts in front of the move.
We have not seen any material increase in downside volume so it remains to be seen if the market is actually going to react as expected. However, starting on Tuesday, it is a new tax year and that could also be a challenge for the bulls.
I would strongly recommend investors remain very flat with your account in cash until we get into 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
MAT - Mattel Inc
The long put position was entered at the open.
If you are looking for a different type of option strategy, try these newsletters:
Credit spreads and naked puts = OptionWriter
Long term option investments = LEAPS Investor
3-6 month Option Trades = Ultimate Investor
Iron Condors = Couch Potato Trader
Long and short equity trades = Premier Investor
BULLISH Play Updates
ADP - Automatic Data Processing - Company Profile
No specific news. New historic high in a weak market.
Original Trade Description: December 5th.
Automatic Data Processing, Inc., together with its subsidiaries, provides business process outsourcing services worldwide. The company operates through two segments, Employer Services and Professional Employer Organization (PEO) Services. The Employer Services segment offers a range of business outsourcing and technology-enabled human capital management (HCM) solutions, including payroll services, benefits administration services, talent management, human resources management solutions, time and attendance management solutions, insurance services, retirement services, and tax and compliance solutions. This segment's integrated HCM solutions include RUN Powered by ADP, ADP Workforce Now, ADP Vantage HCM, and ADP GlobalView, which assist employers of all sizes in all stages of the employment cycle from recruitment to retirement; and ADP SmartCompliance and ADP Health Compliance. The PEO Services segment provides a human resources (HR) outsourcing solution through a co-employment model to small and mid-sized businesses. This segment offers ADP TotalSource that provides various HR management services and employee benefits functions, such as HR administration, employee benefits, and employer liability management into a single-source solution. Company description from FinViz.com.
ADP reported a 26.5% rise in earnings to 86 cents that beat estimates by 9 cents. Revenues rose 7.5% to $2.92 billion and beat estimates for $1.91 billion. The number of employees on client payrolls rose 2.7%. They ended the quarter with $2.82 billion in cash and long-term debt of $2 billion. The announced the sale of their CHSA and COBRA business to WageWorks for $235 million. The sale will be completed in Q2 2017.
The company guided for 2017 revenue growth of 7% to 8% and 15% to 17% earnings growth. The PEO Services segment revenues are expected to rise 14% to 16%.
The company just declared a 57-cent quarterly dividend to raise the annual dividend to $2.28.
Earnings Feb 1st.
ADP holds a dominant position in the payroll processing sector. With employment expected to rise again in 2017 this could be an attractive investment for funds that are tired of chasing industrials and bank stocks in the current rally.
Shares took profits last week from a very nice climb and could be ready to try for a new high.
There is resistance at $97 but given the time of year and the overbought conditions in the rest of the market, we could see a breakout. Options are relatively cheap.
Long Feb $97.50 call @ $2.10, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.
BEARISH Play Updates (Alpha by Symbol)
CAT - Caterpillar - Company Profile
No specific news. No material gain after Wednesday's decline.
Original Trade Description: December 17th
Caterpillar Inc. manufactures and sells construction and mining equipment, diesel and natural gas engines, industrial gas turbines, and diesel-electric locomotives worldwide. The company's Construction Industries segment offers backhoe, small wheel, skid steer, multi-terrain, compact track, medium and compact wheel, and track-type loaders; mini, wheel, and track excavators; track-type tractors; and select work tools, motor graders, telehandlers, soil compactors, and pipelayers, as well as its related parts for the heavy and general construction, rental, mining and quarry, and aggregates markets. Its Resource Industries segment provides electric rope and hydraulic shovels; draglines; drills; highwall and longwall miners; hard rock vehicles; articulated, large mining, and off-highway trucks; large wheel loaders; wheel tractor scrapers; wheel dozers; machinery components; hard rock continuous mining systems; electronics and control systems; and select work tools for use in mining and quarry applications. The company's Energy & Transportation segment offers reciprocating engines, generator sets, marine propulsion systems, gas turbines and turbine-related services, diesel-electric locomotives, and other rail-related products and services. Its Financial Products segment provides retail and wholesale financing for Caterpillar equipment, machinery, and engines; offers property, casualty, life, accident, and health insurance; insurance brokerage services; and purchases short-term trade receivables. The company's All Other segments remanufactures Cat engines and components, and provides remanufacturing services for other companies; offers business strategy, and development, management, manufacturing, marketing, and support primarily for paving, forestry, industrial, waste, and Cat products. Company description from FinViz.com.
Caterpillar's business has been in decline for several years as the energy sector went into hibernation and Asia's economic growth appeared to slow. For some reason, the stock bottomed on January at $58 and rallied to almost $100 despite a weak outlook in every earnings cycle. The $18 post election bounce was just another example of irrational exuberance. The election did not sell more tractors overnight and a pickup in their business could be several quarters away.
The best thing Caterpillar has in its favor is OPEC's decision to cut production. That means a year from now oil prices may have recovered slightly and energy companies may begin to buy more tractors. That is a long time off for an $18 spike.
Earnings in 2014 were $6.38, 2015 $4.64, 2016 they are estimated to be $3.26 and for 2018 analysts expect $3.15. However, CAT said last week that the estimates were overly optimistic. While Asian sales may have quit declining there is no material rebound at present.
Earnings Jan 24th.
This is a play on the retracement of that $18 bounce. When the company says analyst expectations are overly optimistic you can bet analysts will begin to lower their numbers. That should produce an extra weight on the stock in addition to any normal decline with the Dow in January.
The earnings are Jan 24th and the February options are expensive. Since this is a short-term position, I am recommending the January options. I believe any material decline will happen in the first two weeks of January.
Long Jan $90 put @ $1.89, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.
DIA Dow ETF - ETF Profile
No material news. No rebound but no material decline either. Just passing time.
Original Trade Description: December 7th
The SPDR Dow JonesÂ® Industrial Average ETF Trust seeks to provide investment results that, before expenses, correspond generally to the price and yield performance of the Dow Jones Industrial Average.
Remember Dow 10,000? Traders talked about it for weeks. When it was finally hit, they were passing out Dow 10,000 hats on the floor of the NYSE for a week. That was December 11th 2003. It was a big milestone for the market.
Now 13 years later we are about to double that with Dow 20,000. Given the place on the calendar, the massive post election rally and the potential for normal profit taking in January, the Dow 20,000 touch could be a massive sell on the news event.
However, we are only 386 points way and it could happen as soon as next week. The Fed rate announcement on Wednesday could either cripple that potential or accelerate it if the Fed maintains a dovish posture on future rate hikes. I believe we will hit Dow 20K before the end of December. When that happens I want to be short the DIA ETF and plan on holding it through January.
I am choosing the Dow because it is the most overbought and could produce the biggest percentage move. Just look at Goldman's chart and the profit that needs to be removed there.
Because there will be plenty of other traders thinking along the same lines I want to enter the put position at 19,900 or $199 on the DIA ETF. I know I am jumping in front of a speeding train to enter a short position on a runaway market but the potential is very high for a good trade.
12/12 - 1/2 position: Long Feb $195 put @ $3.40, no initial stop loss.
12/13 - 1/2 position: Long Feb $195 put @ $3.15, no initial stop loss.
DRI - Darden Restaurants - Company Profile
No specific news. Just waiting on January correction.
Original Trade Description: December 20th
Darden Restaurants, Inc., through its subsidiaries, owns and operates full-service restaurants in the United States and Canada. As of May 29, 2016, it owned and operated 1,536 restaurants, which included 843 Olive Garden, 481 LongHorn Steakhouse, 54 The Capital Grille, 65 Yard House, 40 Seasons 52, 37 Bahama Breeze, and 16 Eddie V's restaurants. Company description from FinViz.com.
Darden Restaurants (DRI) reported earnings on Tuesday of 64 cents that beat estimates by a penny. Revenue of $1.64 billion missed estimates for $1.65 billion. They guided for the full year 2017 to earnings of $3.87-$3.97 per share. Same store sales growth was choppy. Olive Garden saw +2.6%, Longhorn Steakhouse +0.1%, Capital Grille+1.2%, Eddie V's +2.7%, Yard House +0.7%, Seasons 52 -0.3% and Bahama Breeze +2.6%. Shares spiked $2 on the news but faded in the afternoon to close negative. Darden had rallied 23% since the election.
The idea behind the rally was the end of the push for a $15 per hour minimum wage. When Clinton lost, that effort turned into wishful thinking because republicans have held the view that a lower wage offers entry level workers an opportunity and they can move up in the organization if they are qualified and work hard. Was that worth a 23% rally in Darden shares? I find it hard to believe.
Now that Darden earnings are over, we should expect a couple weeks of post earnigns depression and given the recent rally and the chance for a market decline in early January, the Darden drop could be significant.
Long Feb $72.50 put @ $1.55, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.
GATX - GATX Corporation - Company Profile
No specific news. Shares closed at a two week low.
Original Trade Description: December 15th
GATX Corporation leases, operates, manages, and remarkets assets in the rail and marine markets in North America and internationally. The company operates in four segments: Rail North America, Rail International, American Steamship Company (ASC), and Portfolio Management. The Rail North America segment primarily leases railcars and locomotive, as well as other ancillary services. This segment also offers repair, maintenance, modification, and regulatory compliance services on the railcar fleet. The Rail International segment leases railcars, as well as offers repair, regulatory compliance, and modernization work for railcars. The ASC segment operates a fleet of vessels that provide waterborne transportation of dry bulk commodities, such as iron ore, coal, limestone aggregates, and metallurgical limestone for steel makers, automobile manufacturing, electricity generation, and non-residential construction markets. The Portfolio Management segment is involved in leasing, asset remarketing, and marine operations, as well as manages portfolios of assets for third parties. As of December 31, 2015, it operated a fleet of 17 vessels; a fleet of approximately 106,100 cars; a fleet of 18,400 boxcars; and a fleet of 611 older four-axle and 26 six-axle locomotives. Company description from FinViz.com.
There has been no news since the company announced a 40 cent dividend on Oct 28th. The dividend is payable on Dec 31st to holders on Dec 15th. That is today. That means nobody else is going to be buying the shares to get the dividend.
Earnings Jan 19th.
GATX has rallied 69% since the election. I can only assume it was because of the rally in the Dow Transports in anticipation of a better economy in 2017. There is no current fundamental reason for a 69% rally and odds are good once the stock begins to roll over with the market it could fall very hard. Apparently other investors believe the same way since the only put strike with any volume is the January 60 puts. There is more volume in that one strike than all the other strikes combined.
Long Jan $60 put @ $2.35, no initial stop loss to avoid any volatility spikes.
MAT - Mattel - Company Profile
No specific news. No decline but we are just getting started.
Original Trade Description: December 28th
Mattel, Inc. designs, manufactures, and markets a range of toy products worldwide. The company operates in three segments: North America, International, and American Girl. It offers dolls and accessories, vehicles and play sets, and games and puzzles under the Mattel Girls & Boys brands, including Barbie, Monster High, Disney Classics, Ever After High, Little Mommy, Polly Pocket, Hot Wheels, Matchbox, CARS, Disney Planes, BOOMco, Radica, Toy Story, Max Steel, WWE Wrestling, and DC Comics. The company also provides its products under the Fisher-Price brands, such as Fisher-Price, Little People, BabyGear, Laugh & Learn, Imaginext, Thomas & Friends, Dora the Explorer, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Disney Jake, the Never Land Pirates, and Power Wheels. In addition, it offers its products under the American Girl brands comprising Truly Me, BeForever, and Bitty Baby; and construction, and arts and crafts brands, such as MEGA BLOKS, RoseArt, and Board Dudes, as well as publishes the American Girl magazine. Mattel, Inc. sells its products directly to consumers via its catalog, Website, and proprietary retail stores, as well as directly to retailers, including discount and free-standing toy stores, chain stores, department stores, and other retail outlets; to wholesalers; and through agents and distributors. Company description from FinViz.com.
Retail surveys showed a 9% decline in toy sales over the holiday shopping season. Several of the high profile toys that did sell, suffered serious glitches that have buyers burning up the phone lines wanting refunds and/or replacements.
Zacks downgraded Mattel to a sell saying earnings growth at Mattel, even before the holiday disaster, was only 3.1% compared to the industry average of 21.2%. For the current year Mattel is only expecting 1.2% growth and that was before the holiday news. The company has already projected sales for 2016 to decline -1.9% and that forecast is sure to be revised lower. Analyst earnings estimates were already moving lower and the holiday sales news should accelerate that trend.
Toymakers are facing something called "age compression." Previously the age range for Barbie toys was 3 to 9 years. Now that has compressed to 3 to 6 years. Electronic games are making kids smarter and taking up a large percentage of their playtime. Toys are being left in the toy box. This is good news for companies like ATVI and EA but bad news for Mattel.
The company is also vulnerable to the strong dollar because of sales overseas. The dollar is at 14 year highs and Q4 earnings are going to be impacted.
Earnings January 18th.
This is going to be a short play. With earnings on the 18th, we are going to use a February option and we will exit before the earnings report. The expected market decline in early January should accelerate any drop in Mattel shares.
Long Feb $27 put @ $1.30, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.
If you like the trade setups you have been receiving and you are on a free trial then now is the time to subscribe. Don't wait until you miss a newsletter to decide you want to take the plunge.