The markets strongly diverged on Monday as techs stocks shot higher and the Dow declined.

If conventional wisdom worked as expected we should have seen all the indexes moving higher with news that lawmakers had reached a compromise on the budget and there would be no government shutdown. Apparently, investors were never worried.

The Dow declined for the third day after hitting an intraday high at 21,070 on Wednesday. The index has been unable to close over 21,000 and each day is a slightly lower low. Boeing was the biggest drag on the index on Monday. Apple was the biggest gainer ahead of earnings after the close on Tuesday. Analysts cannot seem to raise their price targets high enough or brag enough about the expected iPhone 8 sales. This is a stock that is priced for perfection. If there are any hiccups in the production or change in the expected September announcement it is going to be ugly. There is a growing number of rumors concerning production delays but the stock just keeps rising.

The Dow has about 450 points of unsupported gaps from last week that need to be filled. Most gaps are filled and the bigger they are the more likely they will be filled when investors take profits. The Dow has two components reporting earnings on Tuesday and Merck (MRK) is before the open and Apple after the close. Merck is not likely to be a market mover but Apple is the big dog and there will be volatility on Wednesday.

The S&P has the same problem as the Dow. The S&P cannot move over resistance at 2,388 other than brief intraday surges. This is solid resistance and the index has close at or near that level every day since Tuesday. The 2,395 level is next up followed by the round number resistance at 2,400, which should also be difficult. I cannot foresee a catalyst that is going to give the S&P a 15 point spike to punch through those levels but it is always the events you do not expect that causes the most volatility. The S&P has some gaps to fill as well and that could take us back to 2,370 or even 2,350. There have been multiple bouts of volatility since the March 1st high that were similar to what "should" happen to fill these gaps.

The Nasdaq is on fire. Both indexes gained more than 43 points for the day and both indexes came to a dead stop on long-term uptrend resistance. This was too good a technical opportunity and I recommended a QQQ put in this newsletter.

The Nasdaq 100 hit resistance at 5,640 and came to a dead stop. The Nasdaq Composite hit resistance at 6,100 and also stopped immediately. Given the over extended gains from the last three weeks, it should be time to rest.

The small cap indexes were doing so well last week until the 17 point decline in the Russell 2000 on Friday. Today's 6-point rebound was lackluster and the S&P-600 only gained 3 points. If the broader market is going to rally it needs to be led by the Russell or the rally will fail.

The Fed decision on Wednesday is not expected to be a market mover. Typically there is a positive bounce on Tuesday's ahead of a decision but fear of an Apple miss may keep the market in check this week.

The Nonfarm Payroll on Friday will not be as important since the Fed decision is Wednesday. This report will be relative for the June Fed meeting.

There has been a recent trend of underperformance for economic reports and that could cause some uneasiness in the market if it continues.

The big names on the earnings calendar are Apple, Facebook, Tesla and Activision. There are 120 S&P companies reporting this week and only two Dow components.

I do not want to look a gift horse in the mouth as the saying goes but the market has been supported by the Nasdaq for several weeks and the tech stocks are very overextended. We would be remiss in our duty to ignore the obvious market warnings.

I would hope that the market would continue higher over the next several weeks but we are moving into the "Sell in May" cycle and the market breadth is narrowing.

I recommend smaller positions and keeping your stops tight.

Jim Brown

Send Jim an email


SWKS - Skyworks Solutions - Company Profile

Skyworks Solutions, Inc., together with its subsidiaries, designs, develops, manufactures, and markets proprietary semiconductor products, including intellectual property worldwide. Its product portfolio includes amplifiers, attenuators, circulators/isolators, DC/DC converters, demodulators, detectors, diodes, directional couplers, diversity receive modules, filters, front-end modules, hybrids, LED drivers, low noise amplifiers, mixers, modulators, optocouplers/optoisolators, phase shifters, phase locked loops, power dividers/combiners, receivers, switches, synthesizers, technical ceramics, voltage controlled oscillators/synthesizers, and voltage regulators. The company provides its products for automotive, broadband, cellular infrastructure, connected home, industrial, medical, military, smartphone, tablet, and wearable applications. Skyworks Solutions, Inc. sells its products through direct sales force, electronic component distributors, and independent sales representatives. Company description from

Skyworks reported earnings of $1.45 that beat estimates for $1.40. Revenue of $851.7 million beat estimates for $840.3 million. They guided for Q2 revenue of $890 million and earnings of $1.52. Analysts were expecting $866.6 million and $1.49. Annual revenue growth os forecast at 18%.

On the conference call the company said Apple was still 40% of the company's revenue but Samsung and Huawei now exceeded 10% each. The company said the quarter just ended was normally their low point for the year and it was actually a strong quarter this year. They expect even better quarters later this year when the next generation of phones begin to ship in quantity. The Apple iPhone 7s and/or 8 will be a big boost to revenue. They are looking at double digit revenue increases for the next two quarters.

Earnings July 27th.

Shares inexplicably declined $5 after the report. Multiple analysts immediately came out claiming this was a buying opportunity. I agree.

We have to reach out to the August option cycle to get past the July earnings and keep that earnings expectation premium inflated.

Buy Aug $105 call, currently $4, initial stop loss $95.25.

QQQ - Nasdaq 100 ETF - ETF Profile

PowerShares QQQ, formerly known as QQQ or the NASDAQ-100 Index Tracking Stock, is an exchange-traded fund based on the Nasdaq-100 Index. The Fund will, under most circumstances, consist of all of stocks in the Index. The Index includes 100 of the largest domestic and international nonfinancial companies listed on the Nasdaq Stock Market based on market capitalization. The Fund and the Index are rebalanced quarterly and reconstituted annually.

This is a simple technical play. The Nasdaq 100 is very overbought and came to a dead stop at uptrend resistance since November 2014. In theory, this would be the perfect place for the Nasdaq to fail and decline to fill the gaps from last week.

Buy July $135 put, currently $2.28, initial stop loss $139.25.

If there is a trade you would like me to consider or you have comments on this newsletter please click the email link below.

Jim Brown

Send Jim an email

Current Portfolio

Open Positions

Check the graphic below for any new stop losses in bright yellow. We need to always be prepared for an unexpected decline. Any items shaded in blue were previously closed.

Current Position Changes

NFLX - Netflix
The long call position was entered at the open on Tuesday.

SPY - S&P-500 ETF
The long put position was stopped on Wednesday.

Original Play Recommendations (Alpha by Symbol)

ATVI - Activision Blizzard - Company Profile


No specific news. ATVI has earnings on Thursday. I am recommending we close the position at the open on Tuesday. Aggressive traders may want to hold over the earnings because the stock gapped up $8 in February and ATVI has been knocking the cover off the ball with their new products. Just be advised that a stock that can gap up $8 can also gap down $8.

Original Trade Description: March 6th.

Activision Blizzard, Inc. develops and publishes online, personal computer (PC), video game console, handheld, mobile, and tablet games. The company operates through two segments, Activision Publishing, Inc. and Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. The company develops, publishes, and sells interactive software products and content through retail channels or digital downloads; and downloadable content to a range of gamers. It also publishes subscription-based massively multiplayer online role-playing games; and strategy and role-playing games. In addition, the company maintains a proprietary online gaming service, that facilitates the creation of user generated content, digital distribution, and online social connectivity in its games. Further, it engages in creating original film and television content; and provides warehousing, logistical, and sales distribution services to third-party publishers of interactive entertainment software, as well as manufacturers of interactive entertainment hardware products. The company serves retailers and distributors, including mass-market retailers, consumer electronics stores, discount warehouses, game specialty stores, and consumers through third-party distribution, licensing arrangements, and direct digital purchases in the United States, Canada, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Sweden, Spain, the Netherlands, Australia, South Korea, China, and internationally. Company description from

Activision reported Q4 earnings of 92 cents that beat estimates for 73 cents. Revenue of $2.45 billion beat estimates for $2.35 billion.

The new Overwatch game was the fastest Blizzard title to hit 25 million registered players. Monthly active users (MAU) rose 5 million at Activision to reach 51 million. Bllizzard's MAU fell 1 million to 41 million but set a record for Q4. Kind Digital users fell from 394 million to 355 million. Since King Digital is phone games the numbers tend to be volatile. Users spent 43 billion hours playing ATVI's suite of games in Q4 compared to the 45 billion hours peopls spent watching Netflix.

Shares spiked despite weak guidance. They guided for Q1 for $1.05 billion and earnings of 18 cents. The street was looking for $1.2 billion and 31 cents. For the ful lyear they guided for $6.3 billion and $1.85 in earnings. That missed street estimates for $6.68 billion and $2.03. Fortunately, ATVI normally guides low and then crushes the estimates when they report.

Earnings May 11th.

Shares spiked from $39 to $47 on the earnings. Post earnings depression appeared for four weeks and shares sank back to $45. Over the last several days the uptrend has resumed and Monday was a new high close at $47.81.

Update 4/17/17: Activision said the next Call of Duty would be back in WWII, which is the player's favorite setting. They are also working on a mobile version scheduled to be out in 2018. There will be a Call of Duty movie in 2019, which would be a real income producer since the World of Warcraft movie released last year has grossed more than $434 million.

Update 4/24/17: Investors Business Daily (IBD) upgraded its score for ATVI from 92 to 98. That means it is expected to perform better than 98% of all stocks. For last quarter, earnings grew 11% and revenue rose 49%. Shares broke out to a new high on the upgrade.

Position 3/6/17:

Long May $50 call @ $1.29, see portfolio graphic for stop loss. .

CRM - - Company Profile


No specific news. Shares closed at a new high on Monday. The company announced a revised earnings date of May 18th.

Original Trade Description: April 10th., inc. develops enterprise cloud computing solutions with a focus on customer relationship management. The company offers Sales Cloud to store data, monitor leads and progress, forecast opportunities, gain insights through relationship intelligence, and collaborate around sales on desktop and mobile devices, as well as solutions for partner relationship management. It also provides Service Cloud, which enables companies to deliver personalized customer service and support, as well as connects their service agents with customers on various devices; and Marketing Cloud to plan, personalize, and optimize one-to-one customer interactions. In addition, the company offers Commerce Cloud to deliver a digital commerce experience; Community Cloud to create and manage branded digital destinations for customers, partners, and employees; Internet of Things Cloud that provides insights to companies enabling them to sell, service, and market to their customers in personalized ways, as well as engage with them in real time; and Analytics Cloud that enables employees across an organization to explore business data, uncover new insights, make decisions, and take action from various devices. Further, it provides Salesforce Quip, a next-generation productivity solution for teams with a mobile-first strategy to collaborate without email; and Salesforce Platform for building enterprise apps. Additionally, the company offers professional cloud services, such as consulting, deployment, training, user-centric design, and integration to facilitate the adoption of its solutions; and architects and innovation program teams, as well as various education services comprising introductory online courses and advanced architecture certifications., inc. offers its services through direct sales; and through consulting firms, systems integrators, and other partners. Company description from

Evercore ISI penned an article in Barrons last week saying they expect Salesforce to grow annual revenue to $20 billion within four years. They see +20% revenue growth over the next several years and a 20% upside in the stock price in the next 6-12 months. They have a short term price target of $100.

Last week Salesforce received a government classification of Impact Level 4 or IL 4 for short. With this certification, government agencies and employees are free to use the Government Cloud for controlled, unclassified information.

There is also a persistent rumor that Salesforce could be acquired. Google has been speculated as a potential candidate. With Oracle, Microsoft and IBM trying to compete in this market, having Google's big bucks behind Salesforce would help them compete.

Earnings May 30th.

With the stock up 21% YTD there could be some profit taking if the market decides to rest. Support is around $81.

Futures are falling overnight so I am picking a closer to the money strike in hopes we get a gap lower open on Tuesday. If the market does open lower, let the call premiums breathe for a few minutes before adding the position. It normally takes 10-15 minutes for them to settle. Obviously if the market continues to fall then wait for a bottom to appear before entering the position.

Update 4/17/17: Salesforce opened a new data center in Japan to deliver the Intelligent Customer Success Platform including Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, App Cloud, Community Cloud, Analytics Cloud and more for customers in Japan and the Asia Pacific region. Salesforce is very close to opening their new 61 floor tower in San Francisco as well. They are expecting a July completion.

Position 4/11/17:

Long June $85 call @ $3.55, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

FMC - FMC Corp - Company Profile


No specific news. Shares are holding their recent gains. Earnings are Tuesday and we will hold over the report.

Original Trade Description: April 17th.

FMC Corporation, a diversified chemical company, provides solutions, applications, and products for the agricultural, consumer, and industrial markets worldwide. The company operates through three segments: FMC Agricultural Solutions, FMC Health and Nutrition, and FMC Lithium. The FMC Agricultural Solutions segment develops, manufactures, and sells crop protection chemicals, such as insecticides, herbicides, and fungicides that are used in agriculture to enhance crop yield and by controlling a range of insects, weeds, and diseases, as well as in non-agricultural markets for pest control. The FMC Health and Nutrition segment offers microcrystalline cellulose for use in drug dry tablet binders and disintegrants, and food ingredients; carrageenan for use in food ingredients for thickening and stabilizing, pharmaceutical, and nutraceutical encapsulates; alginates for food ingredients, pharmaceutical excipients, healthcare, and industrial uses; natural colorants for use in foods, pharmaceutical, and cosmetics; and omega-3 EPA/DHA for nutraceutical and pharmaceutical uses. The FMC Lithium segment offers lithium for use in batteries, polymers, pharmaceuticals, greases and lubricants, glass and ceramics, and other industrial uses. FMC Corporation was founded in 1884 and is headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Company description from

FMC has been around forever as in 123 years. However, last month it entered a new phase of its life. DuPont is (DD) merging with Dow Chemical (DOW) and the EU is forcing them to divest DuPont's crop protection business in order to gain approval of the merger.

On March 31st, the companies announced that FMC will acquire DuPont's crop protection business and overnight become the fifth largest in the world. Secondly, FMC will sell its health and nutrition business to DuPont. This is a low margin, low growth business that FMC is glad to be selling. FMC will pay DuPont $1.2 billion in cash.

The transactions will be immediately accretive to FMC upon closing. FMC expects revenue from the acquired business of $1.5 billion in 2017 and $475 million in EBITDA. Total annual revenue will be $3.8 billion. The combination of the DuPont crop business with the R&D capabilities of FMC it will catapult FMC into an entirely new range of capabilities. The company will acquire multiple major brands of pesticide and herbicides. It will also expand the reach of FMC around the world where there was little market penetration in the past. FMC is gaining a global manufacturing network of four active ingredient manufacturing facilities and 10 regional formulation plants.

In one transaction FMC dumped its underperforming health business and gained a crop protection business equal or greater than its own and cleaned up their balance sheet at the same time.

Earnings are May 2nd. There is no way to play this without holding over that earnings report. With all the good news breaking out about the transaction, the earnings will be another podium to brag about their good fortune.

Position 4/18/17:

Long July $77.50 call @ $2.54, no stop loss until after earnings.

HAIN - Hain Celestial - Company Profile


No specific news. Shares are holding at the $37 level while we wait for the next headline. The company said it completed the acquisition of UK soup company Yorkshire Provender.

Original Trade Description: March 20th

The Hain Celestial Group, Inc. manufactures, markets, distributes, and sells organic and natural products in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Europe. Its grocery products include infant formula; infant, toddler, and kids foods; diapers and wipes; rice and grain-based products; flour and baking mixes; breads, hot and cold cereals, pasta, condiments, cooking and culinary oils, granolas, granola bars, and cereal bars; canned, chilled fresh, aseptic, and instant soups; Greek-style yogurt; chilies and packaged grains; and chocolates and nut butters, as well as plant-based beverages and frozen desserts, such as soy, rice, almond, and coconut. The company's grocery products also comprise juices, hot-eating, chilled and frozen desserts, cookies, crackers, gluten-free frozen entrees and bars, frozen pastas and ethnic meals, frozen fruits and vegetables, cut fresh fruits, refrigerated and frozen soy protein meat-alternative products, tofu, seitan and tempeh products, jams, fruit spreads and jelly, honey, marmalade, and other food products. In addition, it provides snack products, such as potato, root vegetable, and other vegetable chips, as well as straws, tortilla chips, whole grain chips, pita chips, puffs, and popcorn; specialty teas, including herbal, green, black, wellness, rooibos, and chai tea lattes; ready-to-drink beverages comprising organic kombucha and chai tea lattes; personal care products consisting of skin, hair and oral care, deodorants, baby care items, acne treatment, body washes, and sunscreens; and poultry and protein products, such as turkey and chicken products. The company sells its products through specialty and natural food distributors, supermarkets, natural food stores, mass-market and e-commerce retailers, food service channels and club, and drug and convenience stores in approximately 70 countries worldwide. Company description from

We played Hain before back in the fall. Basically, they have not filed their quarterly reports since last May because of a review of accounting procedures. They have suffered over the last year and have reportedly spent $20 million in the complete accounting review for years past and a review of their procedures. They are facing class action suits and SEC probes but none of these things will have a lasting impact.

They are facing a new deadline of May for their reports or they will be in default with their lenders. While they will not say when they will file the back reports, they continue to assure investors there was no wrongdoing and these types of corporate autopsies for prior years take time.

They are so undervalued compared to their peers and their historical norms, it is silly not to have a long position. Once they file the reports this will all be behind them.

I am recommending we buy the August $40 call and forget about it. At $2 it is not a lot of money and they could quickly return to the $50s once they file the reports.

Position 3/21/17:

Long Aug $40 call @ $1.97, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

LIT - Lithium ETF - Company Profile


No specific news. Every day more electric cars are produced than the day before. Demand for Lithium is only going to increase.

Original Trade Description: April 17th.

The investment seeks to provide investment results that correspond generally to the price and yield performance, before fees and expenses, of the Solactive Global Lithium Index. The fund invests at least 80% of its total assets in the securities of the underlying index and in American Depositary Receipts ("ADRs") and Global Depositary Receipts ("GDRs") based on the securities in the underlying index. The underlying index is designed to measure broad-based equity market performance of global companies involved in the lithium industry. The fund is non-diversified. Company description from

Lithium-Ion batteries are becoming the fuel of the future. We are right on the edge of an explosion in demand for lithium. Tesla is only making 100,000 cars per year today but by the end of 2018 they expect to be making up to 500,000 cars. They are only one of the manufacturers making electric vehicles. Others are right on the verge of their own surge in manufacturing.

Tesla also makes the batteries for the Solar City energy storage units and the Tesla storage batteries for residential, commercial and industrial use. This barely even scratched the surface of lithium demand two years ago. Add to that nearly 2 billion cell phones and tablets and suddenly there is a surge in lithium demand that is not going to stop.

Tesla's Gigafactory is so big that it will double the entire planet's battery making capacity. Elon Musk is now saying he may need up to four additional Gigafactories to keep up with demand as he builds hundreds of thousands of electric cars per year plus the solar storage demand for mass scale utility companies, businesses, residential, etc.

The demand for lithium could rise by 1,000% over the next several years. Companies are racing to find new supplies of the raw material and contract it before the prices explode out of sight.

Rather than buying one company that maybe has one mine or one division to produce lithium there is now an ETF for that purpose. It has options but the prices are crazy if you can even find them listed. Most quote locations just list zero for the bid/ask.

The ETF is relatively inexpensive dollar wise given the coming surge in lithium demand and prices. This may be as close as we can get to the ground floor since the odds of it moving lower are almost zero.

This will be a long-term hold.

Position 4/18/17:

Long LIT shares @ $28.20. See portfolio graphic for stop loss.

NFLX - Netflix - Company Profile


Shares spiked at the open last Tuesday to give us a higher entry than I profiled but I doubt anyone is complaining since the stock has risen $11 since last Monday's close. The spike came on news the company would begin streaming in China through a licensing deal with iQiyi, the streaming service for Baidu. The details of the deal including which titles were included and how much Netflix would get from the deal, were confidential. iQiyi has 500 million monthly viewers for its free service and 20 million paid viewers for the subscription service. While Netflix is not likely to receive much income from the licensing deal, it also does not cost them anything to allow iQiyi access to their content. This will be Netflix original content so every movie/episode will have a Netflix label on it and that increases the brand awareness in China. Eventually they hope to stream directly but Chinese censors are very tough. The deal gives Netflix some revenue now and sets them up for direct streaming later.

The company refused to pay ransom to a hacker for ten episodes of Orange is the New Black that were stolen from a post production company that does work for many major studios. The hacker release them online over the last week. They were due to be released by Netflix on June 9th.

Original Trade Description: April 24th.

Netflix, Inc., an Internet television network, engages in the Internet delivery of television (TV) shows and movies on various Internet-connected screens. The company operates in three segments: Domestic Streaming, International Streaming, and Domestic DVD. It offers members with the ability to receive streaming content through a host of Internet-connected screens, including TVs, digital video players, television set-top boxes, and mobile devices. The company also provides DVDs-by-mail membership services. It serves over 100 million streaming members in 190 countries. Netflix, Inc. was founded in 1997 and is headquartered in Los Gatos, California. Company description from

CEO Reed Hastings tweeted out this week a picture of himself eating a steak at a Dennys to celebrate their 100 millionth subscriber. That is the same thing he did when they passed one million subscribers.

Netflix reported earnings on April 17th and while the earnings were good, the subscriber guidance was mediocre compared to analyst expectations. However, the company continues to grow rapidly. They are just not growing at the pace analysts would like to see.

The company said it expects a big rebound in subscriber growth rates for Q2 with projected growth of 3.2 million subscribers. Some analysts believe Netflix is actually low balling subscriber growth estimates. They had 98.75 million subscribers at the end of March. For Hastings to celebrate they would have had to add 1.25 million in only the first three weeks of April. With ten weeks to go, they could easily blow past their target of 3.2 million.

Netflix had only 9 million DVD subscribers at the end of 2008. Now they have progressed to streaming in 190 countries in 12 languages with 100 million subscribers. Hastings was asked how long it would take to add another 100 million and he said, "not as long" with a big grin.

Stifel Nicholas raised their price target from $155 to $170 because of the faster subscriber growth in Q2. RBC analyst Mark Mahaney raised his price target to $175.

Netflix is using the Amazon model of build it and they will come. They continue to lose money but they are rapidly approaching $1 billion a month in subscription fees. They estimate that as many as 50% of their streams go to accounts that are sharing a username/password that belongs to someone else. When Netflix gets to the point where they want to make a profit all they have to do is not allow sharing and suddenly half the people who are currently hooked on streaming will have to sign up on their own. Also, a $2 or $5 price hike on 100 million accounts is suddenly a lot of money.

Netflix offered to sell one billion euros in debt last week ($1.08 billion) to add original international content. That is a huge audience of 7 billion potential customers compared to only 300 million in the USA.

Because they recently reported earnings they do not report again until the middle of July. The July options are very expensive but we can use some June options with 55 days to go and try to capture any bullish sentiment rubbing off on Netflix from the other tech stocks reporting.

Position 4/25/17:

Long June $150 call @ $3.74, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

SBUX - Starbucks - Company Profile


Starbucks reported earnings of 45 cents that matched estimates. Revenue rose 8% to $5.29 billion and missed estimates for $5.41 billion. Same store sales rose 3.0% globally and 3.0% in the USA. Both metrics missed the mark. Investors are worried that growth may be slowing given the increasing competition from McDonalds and Dunkin Donuts just to name a couple. McDonalds is offering $1 coffee and $2 specialty drinks.

Starbucks said the minor sales miss was the result of their mobile ordering app. It was so successful that stores were mobbed during peak periods and customers had to stand in long lines to get their drinks. This discouraged them from coming to the store as often.

They turned the success of the Unicorn Frappuccino set the stage for their latest marketing gimmick, Frappuccino Happy Hour. This launches this week. CEO Kevin Johnson said he was looking forward to the next earnings report because this was going to be a huge winner for Starbucks.

The company said it was reviewing the poor performance of the 350 Teavana stores located in shopping malls. The CEO said sales were declining because the malls were declining as a result of the shift to online shopping. Considering Starbucks has 26,000 stores, those 350 are not material but they are weighing on the same store sales comps.

Starbucks bit me again. It seems like every time I recommend it something crops up to bite me. The Starbucks chart looks like an EKG with lots of volatility. I thought this time we were going to have a winner with shares making new 52-week highs.

We have a May $60 call and the stock is $60 after the $2 drop on earnings. It is rebounding from the drop so I am going to hold it another week. The original plan was to capitalize on an earnings spike and exit.

Original Trade Description: April 3rd.

Starbucks Corporation, together with its subsidiaries, operates as a roaster, marketer, and retailer of specialty coffee worldwide. The company operates in four segments: Americas; China/Asia Pacific; Europe, Middle East, and Africa; and Channel Development. Its stores offer coffee and tea beverages, packaged roasted whole bean and ground coffees, single-serve and ready-to-drink coffee and tea products, juices, and bottled water; an assortment of fresh food and snack offerings; and various food products, such as pastries, breakfast sandwiches, and lunch items, as well as beverage-making equipment and accessories. The company also licenses its trademarks through licensed stores, and grocery and national foodservice accounts. It offers its products under the Starbucks, Teavana, Tazo, Seattle's Best Coffee, Evolution Fresh, La Boulange, Ethos, Frappuccino, Starbucks Doubleshot, Starbucks Refreshers, and Starbucks VIA brand names. As of November 3, 2016, the company operated 25,085 stores. Company description from

I have had trouble playing Starbucks over the last couple of years. The company always seems to have everything going for it but the stock heads in the opposite direction. There have been three major sell offs since December. Maybe this time it is different.

In mid March the company disclosed a series of changes that suggest the company has finally found the key to financial success. At the company shareholder meeting the board disclosed plans to hire 240,000 additional employees by 2021. Since they only have 330,000 workers today that is a major increase. In order to do that they would have to be planning for a significant jump in revenue and profits. Of those new jobs 68,000 would be in the USA.

They also announced plans to open 12,000 new stores of which 3,400 would be in the USA. They currently have nearly 26,000 stores globally. They are also planning on implementing a new menus with sandwiches and salads along with new varieties of premium craft teas. Manu of their stores will be adding alcohol to attract the evening crowds.

They have so many current customers it is hurting business. Ordering and paying through the mobile app has become so easy and so popular, it is jamming the stores with customers and causing long wait times for drinks. Starbucks is working on a method to streamline the process and using employees to surge mobile orders into specific stores to see if the new methods are working before implementing them system wide. They are also testing walk up windows for mobile orders so the customers do not have to come into the store.

They even implemented voice ordering through Amazon's Alexa app. A survey last year found that collectively, have more money in their Starbucks accounts than they do in some banks.

Starbucks guided for $30 billion in revenue by fiscal 2019 and that target appears easily reached with all the new initiatives.

Crowded stores are a problem for consumers but when that many people are standing in line to give the retailer money, it is a good problem to have.

Earnings April 27th.

This is going to be a short fused position since earnings are less than four weeks away. However, the May option is only 79 cents and I am planning on holding over the earnings report unless we are already strongly profitable ahead of earnings. We will make that decision the week of earnings. After several quarters of disappointments, this could be a quarter with a positive surprise.

Shares are close to a new 52-week high but that also means old high resistance at $59. A break over that level could trigger some serious short covering.

Update 4/17/17: Starbucks said it was going to distribute 100 million healthy coffee trees to farmers by 2025 to insure the future of coffee. Existing plantations have old trees that do not produce as well as they did years ago. There is also a disease called coffee rust that is attacking the older trees. Starbucks began this program in 2016 with the distribution of 10 million trees.

Update 4/24/17: Starbucks created a major marketing gimmick with their Unicorn Frappucino drinks. The sweet multicolored pink and blue concoctions were only supposed to be on the menu for five days. This created such a demand that stores were overrun with customers and many stores ran out of the ingredients after just the first two days.

Twitter was mobbed with people asking what store still offered them and thousands of tweets complaining about not being able find them. Starbucks said it created so much congestion in the stores that people were leaving without buying anything.

As a company, the success of this gimmick showed them how to drive future sales and they are on a crash program to staff up the stores and change the traffic flow to handle the excess customers. What company would not like to have too many customers. Shares spiked for a week and are retesting 52-week highs.

Unicorn Frappucino

Position 4/4/17:

Long May $60 call @ 76 cents, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

SPY - S&P-500 SPDR ETF - ETF Profile


The S&P exploded higher last Monday as a major short squeeze seized the markets after the French elections played out in the best way possible. The squeeze continued on Tuesday to stop us out of the put position. The S&P has come to a dead stop at 2,388 and will probably roll over from here unless Apple reports blowout earnings.

We were hammered on the entry into this position when the S&P gapped down on the 13th to trigger the entry at a two-month low. The gap down almost doubled the option premium and then the rebound was immediate. We were killed getting the position and then hit again on Tuesday's gap higher.

Original Trade Description: March 27th.

The SPDR S&P 500 trust is an exchange-traded fund which trades on the NYSE Arca under the symbol. SPDR is an acronym for the Standard & Poor's Depositary Receipts, the former name of the ETF. It is designed to track the S&P 500 stock market index.

The S&P-500 is in danger of a material drop, possibly to 2,250 or the equivalent 225 level on the SPY ETF. The chart is unsupported and we are entering into a typically volatile period of the year over the next five weeks. I am recommending we buy a put on the SPY only IF the SPY trades at 232.75. Before Monday's dip that would have been a new five-week low. Regardless of what happens on Tuesday we will be ready for the next leg down.

I believe if the market goes lower this week it could be the beginning of a major decline.

Position 4/13/17 with a SPY trade at $232.75

Closed 4/25/17: Long June $230 put @ $4.13, exit $1.25, -2.88 loss.

TRIP - Trip Advisor - Company Profile


TRIP announced a partnership with Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG) to include all the company's hotel brands in the TripAdvisor instant booking marketplace. IHG has 5,200 hotels and 770,000 guest rooms in almost 100 countries. They will be the largest hotel chain in the instant booking application. This is a big deal for TRIP and shares rose all week.

Original Trade Description: March 6th.

TripAdvisor, Inc. operates as an online travel company. The company operates through two segments, Hotel and Non-Hotel. Its travel platform aggregates reviews and opinions of members about destinations, accommodations, activities and attractions, and restaurants, which enables users to research and plan their travel experiences, as well as book hotels, flights, cruises, vacation rentals, activities and attractions, and restaurant reservations. The company operates TripAdvisor-branded Websites, including in the United States; and localized versions of the Website in 48 markets and 28 languages. It also manages and operates 23 other media brands that provide travel planning resources across the travel sector, such as,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, and The company's Websites feature 465 million reviews and opinions on 7 million places comprising 1,060,000 hotels and accommodations; 835,000 vacation rentals; 4.3 million restaurants; and 760,000 activities and attractions worldwide. Company description from

TRIP re;orted Q4 earnings of 16 cents that missed estimates for 30 cents. Revenue of $316 million missed estimates for $325 million. Shares fell from $52 to $40 over the three weeks since the earnings report.

TRIP missed earnings for two main reasons. They have been investing "significant" amounts of money into new processes and marketing that will pay off in the future. Secondly, they just implemented an "Instant Booking" platform that was different enough that customers became confused and they lost a lot of revenue in Q4.

However, sales on the platform improved in December and spiked higher in January as the company refined its processes and made it easier to understand. They spent money marketing the benefits of the platform and apparently business is improving significantly in Q1.

TRIP has had earnings challenged for the last three quarters as they invest heavily in developing for the future.

Earnings May 17th.

Shares appear to have bottomed at $41 having spent the last five days at that level. While we cannot be certain this is the bottom, the option is cheap enough to induce me to take the risk. Once the stock begins to bounce, it should attract some more buyers looking for a bargain. With the market starting to turn choppy, any actual decline will make stocks like this look appetizing since they have already been crushed.

Update 3/13/17: Shares spiked on Wednesday to $44 after Cowen said the chairman's comments the prior week suggested there were some takeover conversations in progress. The chairman said the "company's appeal to a potential buyer acts as a floor on the stock." He named Facebook, Amazon and Alibaba as potential buyers. That is very unusual for a board member to suggest there may be interest by other parties and then name them. Another analyst said the comments were actually negative since the board member was using the takeover appeal to "prop up the stock." Personally, I hope the chairman stimulated some interest by those companies.

Update 4/24/17: Despite being replaced in the Nasdaq 100 by Wynn Resorts, the stock rose for the week to close at a three week high. The company said it had reached half a billion reviews and opinions. The booking site now posts 290 pieces of content every minute.

Position 3/7/17:

Long June $45 call @ $2.10, see portfolio graphic for stop loss.

Prices Quoted in Newsletter

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