Mid-day Update: Tesla Under Fire, Apple Racing

Great start to the week. The S&P defended the low of the day very well this morning before grinding higher to the 1667 we sit at now. We haven’t had a whole lot of major news items to deal with in the early going, but there has been plenty of action in individual names that has created a lot of opportunities.

Our biggest gainer thus far today is our $AAPL position. Our options are trading roughly 50% higher from the close on Friday and the stock hung tough while the market was defending the lows this morning. We saw buyers consistently step in around the $504 level that gave us conviction to hold on to our options, and the stock has grinded to $507 and continues to look strong. We may take down some exposure heading into the events, but the stock looks so strong it is hard to not extend another day (at least) with our options.

$FCEL is getting a nice lift today as we remain long the stock via options. We added to our $HD put position as the stock is struggling to reclaim its 8-day EMA. Keep an eye on that one as the chart looks incredibly bearish.

We took a feeler position on another momentum/breakout candidate in JA Solar Holdings $JASO. This is a volatile stock that has traded in a huge range in 2013, but the stock is forming a rounded bottom pattern and there is huge potential for a breakout over $9.50 that could send the stock well over $10. The YTD high sits at $11.40, and there is essentially no resistance to that mark if the stock can get going. Image

We also initiated a short position in $TSLA today via next week’s $155 puts. We’ve touched on shorting Tesla a couple of times over the last few days, and today has been the first move down with some conviction in quite a while. A test of the 20 day SMA around $157.20 seems imminent if the stock cannot move higher before the end of the session. If the 20 snaps, it could be bombs away for the stock. Still, this stock has been incredibly resilient, so don’t press too much if you’re making money. It’s still well above the Ichimoku cloud and it doesn’t take much for this stock to reverse its course.

We took a question on Twitter regarding our AT&T $T position and why tapering would impact the stock so much. It’s actually a relatively simple thesis – the big dividend players hate rising interest rates. If and when the Fed begins to reduce its bond buying, we should see the 10-year yield sustain a move above 3% which crushes equities that are known as strong dividend payers. Utilities and Telecom stocks frequently attract investors with attractive dividend yields, and those names have the most to lose if treasury bond yields begin to rise. AT&T’s chart looks particularly bearish in our view, which is why we have been buying puts over the last few weeks. Here’s a chart comparing $T and $DTYL, the bullish 10-year ETF. For those who are new to fixed income, the price-yield relationship is inverse: as yields rise, prices fall. $DTYL and $T are moving virtually in lockstep.

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We’ve been preaching prudence for several days as this market remains extremely headline driven, and any news from a number of ongoing story lines could catapult the market in either direction. As we were writing, $TSLA absolutely ripped off the lows to $161 and has already retreated under $160. Markets and stocks turn quickly! Keep. Your. Head. On. A. Swivel.

This Looks Familiar

Good morning y’all, hope everyone enjoyed the weekend. A little late with our preview today as someone may have been celebrating  an anniversary a little too much last night and was responsible for today’s morning post. This week is shaping up to have a similar feel to last week as the same news events will likely be driving the markets for most of the week, starting with President Barack Obama’s pre-recorded address airing tonight on the major networks. Charlie Rose conducted an interview with President Bashar al-Assad in which he adamantly denied use of chemical weapons, stating that the weapons were used against his own forces. The situation remains a pressure cooker that could have catastrophic repercussions if handled incorrectly, which means volatility could return to the market at any point stemming from related news. Speculation over Fed tapering will likely continue as well, which we would welcome with open arms for our $T and $HD positions.

In the meantime, we appear headed for a higher open as S&P futures have traded in a tight range over night but are sitting up 3-4 points. Apple $AAPL is trending up in premarket action as the run-up into the company’s events tomorrow and Wednesday has begun in earnest. Look for continuation throughout the session today as the stock looks ready to break out, but there is the stigma that Apple’s events have become “buy the rumor, sell the news” situations, so take profits and trail with stops if you’re long stock. We remain long via both stock and options, and we may look to take off a portion of our options position today if the stock really surges.

Molex $MOLX is making news this morning on reports that the company is being bought out for $38.50 per share by Koch Industries, a premium of roughly 30%. The stock is halted and we’ve placed a large, low-ball limit bid in the stock as a lottery ticket, but we have no expectation of getting filled. Blackberry is also trading up over 4% in the pre-market as speculation continues over a possible buyout of the Canadian smartphone maker. While a takeover does seem imminent, these events are so hard to predict and there will likely be several head fakes in the stock before a deal is announced. Finally, Facebook $FB is up once again on another upgrade and $50 price target from Sterne Agee. Zuckerberg continues to count his billions.

One name we will be watching closely this week is Tesla $TSLA. The stock has begun to move sideways and is flirting with a breakdown below its 8 day moving average. Any short in Tesla must be tactical as the stock remains on an incredible trajectory with a strong chart, but opportunities to the short side may present themselves if the stock cannot resume upward momentum.

We’ll take a deeper dive in our mid-day update into some other names – one of us is a little behind this morning. Good luck out there today everyone, stay tactical and profitable!

Post Game: Whipsaw

Crazy day today. It looked like the S&P would be content to camp on the highs for most of the afternoon, but lo and behold the market began to sell off around 2 PM and trended lower for the remainder of the session, closing almost exactly flat after an incredibly whippy day.

As we mentioned in the mid-day update, several charts formed an identical V pattern in the first two hours of trading or so as the broader market was rocked by the jobs data and comments from both Obama and Putin regarding Syria. Our positions took quite a ride themselves. We nibbled on a momentum trade in $IMMU, but volume quickly dried up and we were stopped out for a small loss. We were able to recoup most of those losses with a nice $GMCR put option trade after there was heavy put buying in the September $80 contracts. We left some money on the table there as Green Mountain sold off in the final minutes of the session, but we’re comfortable with a scratch in realized P/L on such a volatile day.

Our live positions shaped up nicely into the bell. Home Depot $HD closed well off the highs and in the red as our put position had a volatile trading range between $.45 and $.62. The stock’s chart is becoming decidedly more bearish as it failed at the 8-day and looks ready to retest our $72.50-$71.50 bear channel. The 200-day sits at $71.68 near the base of that channel. AT&T also failed at its 8-day and closed in the middle of its trading range while our put position closed flat on the day. We didn’t get as definitive of a jobs report as we had hoped for, but we think there is enough substance there for the Fed to move ahead with an abbreviated tapering plan of, perhaps, $10 billion per month. If 10-year yields can break and hold above 3%, we think both $HD and $T have considerable downside risk.

$FCEL had a rough afternoon and closed down 3.68%. We took profits on our stock position yesterday but remain long $1 call options with an October expiry. Anything can happen, but based on the stock’s action in the past we would not be surprised to see a gap fill and possible bounce. However, we should note that the stock did not have the extreme run-up into earnings as it did in Q2, and it may allow for better price action over the coming sessions on what was a considerably stronger earnings report, in our opinion.

We initiated a new position into the close with $AAPL weekly $500 call options, a position worth just shy of 4% of our book. We had been anticipating a run-up ahead of the company’s product unveiling next Tuesday, while rumors had been swirling of a China Mobile deal that may be announced next Wednesday. Those rumors caught some traction late in the session and we initiated a position at $8.75 and bought again at $7.70 after the stock inexplicably sold off. $AAPL promptly rallied to the $499 level before closing just north of $498. The stock’s chart is building some strength and appears poised to pop, and we believe next week’s events could really set the stock in motion. $AAPL continued to run after hours and is trading north of $500 at the time of writing.

The broader market remains in a difficult spot, and today proves that it is still nearly impossible to have conviction in either direction. Headlines out of Washington will continue to drive this market for the foreseeable future, and rising tensions between the US and Russia could create additional fear in the markets. This is very much a stock-by-stock environment, which calls for prudence and profit taking where available.

We hope everyone had a profitable week. As always, feel free to engage us on Twitter at @vikingtrader14 or shoot us an e-mail at vikingtrader14@gmail.com. Have a great weekend! GO BEARS!!!!!!

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Mid-day Update: Jobs, Obama, Putin Take Center Stage

Pretty interesting morning with plenty of action to investigate. The jobs number was just shy of abysmal, considering all the absurd downward revisions to previous numbers. The unemployment rate continues to be a fabrication as US labor participation rates are basically sitting at a generational low, and even the 169,000 jobs that were added in August were fairly flimsy. The markets have maintained the “bad news is good news” mantra that has catalyzed several legs of the 2013 rally, but we had a second piece of news that throttled markets shortly after the jobs number. Russian President Vladimir Putin injected some fear into the markets by stating that Russia would back Syria against any foreign attackers, namely the US. The S&P’s sell off from the morning’s initial highs accelerated on these comments, shaving roughly 20 points in 30 minutes. President Obama quickly issued a statement and took questions regarding the Syrian situation, reinforcing his stance that Assad’s use of chemical weapons should not be tolerated. The S&P quickly reversed off the lows and proceeded to grind higher over the next hour before settling in around 1,660, right back at the morning highs.

ImageSeveral stocks followed the broader markets V movement, with names such as $AAPL, $GMCR and $GOOG moving lower before eventually recouping early losses. In the case of $GMCR, we saw heavy put volume in the September $80 contracts that caught our eye, and we initiated a position at $1.86 that is working nicely for us at the moment. We also attempted to play a continuation trade in $IMMU that did not work out as the stock lost momentum, and we took a small loss. We’ll stick with the $GMCR trade as long as it continues to fade towards session lows, which could make for a nice day trade.

Image$FCEL has traded in a tight range for most of the day on heavy volume once again, and we are encouraged that the stock is holding its range from yesterday. We continue to see heavy (and we do mean HEAVY) $T put buying, with open interest on our October $31 contracts pushing 60,000. Those puts have appreciated today and we continue to see downside potential in the chart. $HD sold off along with the broader market and has rebounded some here in the middle of the day, although we wouldn’t be too concerned until the stock can regain its 8 day. Could be quiet here for the rest of the day, but we’ll keep our eyes peeled for any opportunities.

 

Jobs Friday

Happy Friday y’all. Well, the “most important jobs number ever” is upon us, with NFP coming out at 7:30 CST. Consensus is calling for an addition of 180,000 job, while Goldman Sachs is the resident optimist on the street with an estimate of 200,000 additional jobs. We’ll cop out and say jobs fall somewhere in between there, and we’ll throw our hat in the ring with an estimate of 189,000 jobs.

So what does this mean for the market? Well, it’s hard to say right now, but we’ll take a stab at it. Markets have shown a considerable amount of resiliency this year as bad news has been good news and good news has been good news. Anything aside from a disastrous jobs number will probably signal to the Fed that we are ready for tapering (though the actual jobs picture is still fairly putrid – Bloomberg flashed a great chart this morning showing a massive deceleration of full-time jobs versus rapid growth in part-time jobs, rhetoric that is being translated as “a job is a job,” which I’m sure many Americans would disagree with). In our view, we’re not convinced that tapering is a death sentence for the market like some pundits are expecting. We partially outlined our stance yesterday, and we do believe that interest rate sensitive equities will take a hit, but with expectations of tapering happening sooner rather than later, perhaps equity markets have already priced in that expectation. That’s not to say that markets will surge out of the gate no matter what today, but we would refrain from calling tapering a major downside catalyst.

There are still other factors that could send the market into a swoon, including the ongoing situation in Syria and the seemingly never-ending debt ceiling debate (which feels like a non-event). While it is likely the proverbial can will be kicked once again when it comes to the debt ceiling, predicting an outcome in Syria is an exercise in futility as the Obama administration has been horrendous when it comes to execution. Let the market react as it will, just be wary of leaning too hard one way or the other. This is a headline-driven market until further notice, and selectivity will be paramount until these events are in the rear view mirror.

We pared our gross exposure yesterday to pocket some gains and allow some added mobility ahead of this jobs number. Whatever your market sentiment, just remember one thing today: keep your head on a swivel.

(Anchorman is clearly a theme this week)

Got a prediction for the jobs number and the corresponding market reaction? Throw it in the comments.

Post Game: Beware the Jobs Number

Interesting day out there despite a deep, deep lull mid-day that saw little volume across the board. With the 10-year hovering near 3% and the growing sentiment that tapering in September is a foregone conclusion, the $SPY told off a decent amount in the last hour of trading. With many calling tomorrow’s jobs number the most important ever, we took down some of our exposure to $FCEL to lock in some profits and up our cash position to allow some mobility tomorrow. We anticipate there will be far more opportunities tomorrow that can be carried over the weekend, and we welcome the volatility.

Let’s dive in, shall we? The big theme of the day was a strong sell-off in equities with interest rate exposure, including names such as $T, $HD, $LEN and $TOL. We highlighted the absurd move in $LNKD in our mid-day update, and $TSLA continued to muddle along in a tight range with light volume. The casinos looked alright today, with $WYNN leading the way up nearly 1%. $NFLX continued its flirtation with $300 while $AMZN remains within shouting distance as well.

We saw a number of small-cap names breakout including $HIMX, $RMTI and of course $FCEL. In terms of names we have a stake in, we were happy to see $T erase its gains from yesterday and boost the level of our puts. Put buying in AT&T has been heavy and the stock’s chart looks brutal. Any definitive word on tapering, and it could be curtain’s for AT&T’s stock. It is on a collision course with a major test of a two year break out channel, with support around $32.75.

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We decided to be prudent with our $FCEL position and took our stock position off for a nice profit. We still have our call options on as we think there is plenty of time for the stock to get going to higher levels, especially once we get the September option expiration out of the way.

However, we did initiate a new trade to the downside, buying the October $67.5 puts in Home Depot $HD. This stock has been on an absolute tear this year as it has been bolstered by a recovery in the housing market. However, as housing stocks have turned lower in recent weeks, $HD’s momentum has waned considerably. Given the stock’s reliance on the housing market for growth, rising rates could have a substantial bearish impact. The chart has also taken a turn for the worse since earnings. The stock has stayed above the Ichimoku cloud for the duration of 2013, testing the lower bound of the cloud just three of four times throughout the year and immediately bouncing each time. However, the stock appears to be rolling over and has broken through the cloud to the downside. The stock is hovering above support at $72.50 and could enter a key channel between $71.50 and $72.50 on tapering news.

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While we don’t necessarily believe tapering is bearish for the market overall, we think $HD and $T could be particularly exposed to rising rates, and we think these trades present compelling opportunities as risk-reward setups.

Mid-day Update: Snoozefest

Very little activity in the markets today as we have sat in a pretty tight range for much of the morning after the S&P leaped to the 1659 area before settling in around 1656 to churn. The ADP report was solid albeit somewhat light compared to estimates, and the 10-year is hovering just below 3% as murmurs of tapering in September have crept back into the markets.

Not a whole lot of major individual movers out there, though we are seeing interest rate sensitive names taking a hit, including housing related stocks such as $HD, $TOL and $LEN, while our favorite taper play $T is getting whacked today after rallying hard yesterday. Our puts are trading back near the $.30 range. $LNKD rallied extremely hard off of the opening lows and would have made a very lucrative intraday swing trade, but we can’t catch them all. $AAPL is taking it on the nose some today, while $FB surged on the open and has held its gains most of the day.

One idea that we’ve been toying with of late is getting short $TSLA via puts. We probably wouldn’t initiate this position any time soon because the stock still has an air of invincibility surrounding it, and it has not shown a commitment to any prolonged sell off in the past. Still, the rumored addition of $TSLA to the buy list at Goldman Sachs (a report that has been heavily disputed with some Sachers calling it a miscommunication) has us thinking. Apple’s meteoric rise was met by ludicrous price targets and upgrades upon upgrades. The firm’s valuation is beyond absurd, but we wouldn’t seriously consider it until we had another round of earnings from the firm, at least. We are utterly infatuated with the cars ourselves, and we think the company has done a remarkable job in the early innings of bringing the electric car to the mass market. But at some point, the company has to start delivering real earnings, and there are still major hurdles to the electric car catching on, including the institution of charging stations and a more affordable model with the same appeal of Tesla’s current upscale model. Nothing to act on just yet (because the stock could surge to $200 at the drop of a hat), but it may be time to question whether the company can keep its foot on the gas (puns!).

$FCEL has had decent price action today and has traded in a fairly tight range on heavy volume. The stock met major resistance at the high of the day as September options holders put a lid on today’s rally. We may look to peel off either our stock or option position at some point today, but we would be content with standing pat if need be. Nonetheless, a big winner for us on the day.

We’re currently bidding on $EJ February calls after seeing some unusual buying activity in the $12 strike, and we may play a few earnings names today, including Smith and Wesson $SWHC, likely to the long side.

Bonds, Bonds, Bonds

Morning y’all. Sovereign debt and economic stimulus is making all the headlines with the US  and German 10-Year yields inching higher. The US 10Y is trading at roughly 2.94% while the German bund clipped 2% for the first time since 2012. The ECB is leaving benchmark interest rates unchanged at 0.5%, and the Japanese yen crossed 100 while the Nikkei rallied overnight for modest gains.

S&P futures are more or less flat this morning ahead of perhaps the biggest jobs data we’ve seen since the last release (rimshot!). In all seriousness, today’s jobless claims and Friday’s jobs report will be paramount in the decision making process regarding tapering, which should accelerate the rise of rates. While recent jobs data has shown decent growth, we’re not convinced that the underlying economy is as stable as some of the pundits would have you believe. With that said, we think it is indeed time to taper to allow this market to make a directional move without being throttled by every headline coming out of the Fed. Look for a lot of commentary regarding tapering in the coming days, while headlines out of the G20 and continued discussion regarding the Syrian situation could serve as shocks to the market. We would expect the market to take a definitive direction following today’s jobless claims.

On the company front, not a ton of news this morning. Yahoo $YHOO made a “splash” by unveiling a new logo… yawn. The stock has been on quite a tear this year, but Marissa Mayer is going to need to start delivering sooner rather than later, and we’re not sure how spending $1 billion on Tumblr is going to radically alter the face of the firm. Samsung is still in the spotlight after yesterday’s product reveal, setting the stage for Apple’s $AAPL event next week. The perpetual turnaround story at Groupon $GRPN received another shot in the arm from Morgan Stanley with an upgrade to overweight. Groupon has been acquiring warehouses to improve distribution of its consumer goods, and the company’s mobile efforts have shown improvement. As Chicagoans, we’ve always had a healthy disdain for the Groupon platform and in the few times I’ve been to the site, I’ve rarely found deals that are even of vague interest to me. Still, it’s hard to argue with the direction of the stock, and it seems like getting Andrew Mason out of the way has reignited the fervor of growth surrounding this name. Still, we can’t see Groupon becoming a serious competitor for Amazon $AMZN just yet, as some have speculated.

We’ll be looking to manage our $FCEL position today as the company has surged higher following a strong earnings report. The conference call is slated for this morning and we will be looking for further commentary on profitability in the coming quarters. Seasonally, this stock has performed well during fall trading, and we may be hesitant to exit our positions if the stock can hold gains today. We’ve been preaching it all week, but it remains difficult to have conviction in either direction with so many external variables impacting markets, and this is an environment that presents very few buying opportunities for long-term holdings. For now, we will stay nimble and try to be extremely selective when taking day, swing and momentum trades.

Post Game – $FCEL Comes Up Roses

Now that’s more like it. Today was a much better directional day for those looking to trade momentum as the market didn’t have much of a reaction to the Senate’s approval of military action in Syria. The S&P 500 traded higher roughly 1% before moving sideways for most of the afternoon. The stock encountered some volatility as news trickled out from Washington that the Senate Foreign Relations Panel had approved the use of force by a slim 10-7 vote. Still, the full Senate and House of Representatives need to sign off on the plan before action can be taken, and those prospects were dealt a significant blow as some lawmakers voiced their disdain (including John McCain, though he is pushing for a more widespread campaign in the Middle East that will undoubtedly be meet with heavy resistance). The markets digested this news at the end of the day and still managed to close relatively close to the highs.

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We received a healthy amount of broad market and company specific news today, including the most recent edition of the Fed’s “Beige Book,” which is more aptly described as the state of affairs in the US economy. The most recent report showed moderate growth from most districts spanning July and August, boosted by stronger housing and car sales activity. This data was reinforced by solid August auto sales reports from both General Motors $GM and Ford $F. Samsung was the focal point of the lunch hour as the Korean tech giant introduced its Galaxy Note III phablet, a refreshed Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet and the all-new Samsung Gear Smart Watch. While the Smart Watch boasts some interesting features and could be a compelling device in conjunction with a Samsung smartphone, none of the devices felt particularly revolutionary, with most new features in the phablet and tablet feeling incremental at best. Apple $AAPL shareholders did not appear too concerned regarding the new product lineup, as the stock hung tough in a range between $498 and $500 for most of the day. LinkedIn $LNKD made additional news after hours as the price of its equity offering came in at $233 per share, which caused an additional sell-off in to that level after the market closed. $LNKD could be an interesting reversal candidate after the large move down in the last couple of days, and we may explore initiating a position here in the next few days, though external events have prevented us from having much conviction in new positions in recent days.

In terms of our portfolio, we made a conservative short in the $SPY in the middle of the day, with half of our position in weekly $165 puts coming off the books for an 11.4% gain. We don’t feel terribly comfortable having the other half of the position on overnight, but we get the feeling this market is on somewhat unsteady footing, and any new headlines pointing towards accelerated action in Syria could trigger a selloff. We wouldn’t discount the prospect of increased tapering talk either, as the Beige Book report suggests that it could be coming sooner rather than later as the broader economy appears to be making decent progress. We are of the belief that Ben Bernanke will want to initiate tapering before his time as Fed Chairman is up to prove that the economy is in a position to stand up on its own, and in our view it is time for that Fed to get out of the market’s way.

The big news in our portfolio today comes from one of our largest positions, FuelCell Energy $FCEL. The firm released its quarterly earnings after the bell that showed monstrous top-line growth of 81% year-over-year to a record $53.7 million. Gross margins came in at a record of 8.4%, though operating expenses remained on an upward trajectory. The company’s EPS was in line with estimates at -$0.03. The company also surprised investors by announcing a marketing agreement with NRG Energy that will boost FuelCell’s exposure and could aid cost savings. NRG will market the technology to its customers via either a PPA in which NRG would purchase the fuel cell power plants from $FCEL, or NRG could purchase the plants and sell electricity to the grid. This agreement should dramatically increase $FCEL’s exposure while providing avenues for larger projects down the road. Our stock and option positions in $FCEL should see a nice boost as the stock has been on the move after hours.

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Overall, a good day for Viking Trader. We’ll be back with more in the morning, but for now, hope everyone enjoys their evening.

Mid-day Update: A Day Late

Hope everyone is having a profitable Wednesday. Today feels like what yesterday should have been if not for the Syria news that caused stocks to pare most of their gains on the day. Markets are up nearly 1% today with the Nasdaq leading the way most of the day. $SPY has been camped near $166 for much of the last hour or two, and it seems to be running into decent resistance at this level intraday. We took a small short position via $166 weekly puts for a cost of $.88 with a $SPY contingent stop just above the high of the day at $166.05. Our downside targets should the market roll over are roughly $165.59 and $165.38. Given the uncertainty regarding Syria and pending news from Washington regarding our course of action in the region, we believe this position presents a low-risk, high-reward set up should we get some definitive statements from political leaders.

As for our other positions, we have seen our $T and $TAP puts slide a bit as those stocks have risen with the broader market, but $AAPL has shown commitment today and is holding up well. $TSLA has been in the spotlight as well after Goldman did a complete 180 on its stance on the firm, initiating a buy rating after panning the stock roughly $70 ago (it wouldn’t surprise us to see Goldman dump $TSLA shares as a result, but that’s purely speculation. Wouldn’t be the first time they’ve done something like that, though). Some tech bellwethers have languished some today, including both $FB and $TSLA (despite the upgrade), while $NFLX and $AMZN have been fairly strong. $LNKD tried to rally after selling off following the announcement of its new equity offering, but it could not break out.

$SPY is selling off as I write – gotta go monitor our positions. Best of luck this afternoon, everyone.