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Post Game: Crossroads

Interesting day and a good start to the week. The S&P 500 was remarkably strong all day and basically moved higher all day after a brief stagnant period mid morning. Several names saw strong action (in particular, the casinos $WYNN and $LVS, two names we highlighted last week as potential breakout candidates), and we have a number of events that will occur in the coming days that will help markets. First, we should receive some definitive news from President Obama regarding the outlook for Syria both tonight and tomorrow morning. However, the market appeared to respond positively to news that Russia had called for Syria to hand over its chemical weapons, though the validity of Syria’s willingness is being questioned by US officials. Look for Obama to provide some answers there.

The biggest news for an individual name undoubtedly will be coming from Cupertino tomorrow and China on Wednesday as Apple $AAPL will certainly unveil the iPhone 5S and its less expensive cousin, the iPhone 5C. There is also talk that Apple will unveil a revamped iPad and iPad Mini, but we believe the bigger catalyst for Apple is a rumored deal with China Mobile. There is always the possibility that all of this news is already baked into the stock price, but the impact of a China Mobile deal is beyond compare. A deal would signal increased competition with Samsung in the middle-tier smartphone market, and China Mobile is far and away the largest mobile provider in the world, and while some have speculated that a cheaper iPhone will slash Apple’s margins, Tim Cook’s expertise is supply chain management, and this may be his opportunity to deliver a high margin, low cost phone that could consume market share in China away from Lenovo and Samsung. There is also the possibility that Apple has an Ace up its sleeve that no one is expecting tomorrow. While the odds of such an event transpiring are low as the street has become quite good at predicting the outcome of Apple’s showcases, the possibility remains. Beyond the headlines, the technicals have been shaping up nicely for Apple’s stock. The stock has been in a strong trend since bottoming in late June. We kept our weekly options on and remain bulls on Apple long term via stock.

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We also maintained our short on $TSLA via next week’s $155 put options. The stock failed to maintain a mid-day breakout off the lows and began to sell off once again into the end of the session. Bulls have been quick to defend this name and its difficult to have conviction to the downside after what has been a truly breathtaking run for the electric car maker. Still, we think the stock has a date with the 20 day (and that date may even come tomorrow), and that should serve as a major proving ground for the stock. $TSLA has tested the 20 day several times and has rallied well of that level in each instance. While it is difficult to fight what has been a prolonged uptrend, this is still a car company, and whether you’re a believer in fundamentals or not, there is not a car company on the planet that justifies the valuation that $TSLA is commanding right now. The stock is an incredible growth story and perhaps there is a chance they can pioneer a secular transition to electric vehicles (which I would have to believe is the long-term bull case), but the faster it ascends, the more likely the stock is due for a correction. We love Tesla and frankly would love to own one of their cars, but the market has a way of pulling the rug just when the party really starts to rock. If we get a test of the 20 day, watch the action between $155 and $157. For those of you that follow Scott Redler from T3 Live, this area could serve as one of Scott’s patented “Red Dog Reversals.” A break of that level and we could see a major sell off trigger in Tesla.

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We were pleasantly surprised by the action in $FCEL today. The stock ripped to $1.36 on solid volume after fading a substantial portion of the earnings move to $1.41 in the last couple of sessions. While we think a gap fill to $1.25 or so is still possible, the stock continued to see action after hours and tagged $1.38 on light volume. We remain long via options and think $FCEL is a tremendous long-term opportunity. Keep an eye on this one for a breakout if it can get above the earnings high of $1.41.

We stuck with our $JASO momentum long after the stock ran into some resistance around $9.40. The chart still looks strong here and could really get going over $9.50. Our taper plays didn’t do us any favors today as just about everything was green today along with the broader market. Still, $HD failed to reclaim its 8-day and $T may be forming a bear flag. We posted a more detailed look at treasury yields and how they impact big dividend names like $T earlier today, so be sure to check that out.

Make sure to check out Obama’s interview tonight while you’re watching Monday Night Football, and as always feel free to engage us on Twitter (@VikingTrader14) or shoot us an e-mail at vikingtrader14@gmail.com.

 

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.

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.

 

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.

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.

Mid-day Update: That Escalated Quickly

Well, risk certainly happens fast, doesn’t it? The S&P 500 is quickly giving back all of the days gains as we appear to be filling this morning’s gap up. The $SPX traded as much as 1.12% higher early in today’s session, but comments from John Boehner that signaled Republican support of a Syrian strike reinvigorated bears and sent a wave of fear through the markets. Few names have held their gains from the early morning surge as the Syrian situation is acting as the wildcard we expected it to be. We tried to capitalize on the morning’s gains by taking a day trade in $DDD that we probably should have been more prudent with, as the stock traded as much as $1.48 above our entry of 53.30, but the stock never reached our initial aggressive target of $55 and we were stopped out at break even (actually, pennies above breakeven).

We initiated a position in FuelCell Energy $FCEL October $1 calls for $.35, and we remain the only action in the contracts on the day. The stock has held up well despite the accelerating selloff in the broader market, and we anxiously await earnings after the bell tomorrow. For more on this name, check out our post from yesterday here.

With the $VIX moving higher on speculation regarding military action in the Middle East, we are considering a position in $GLD as it approaches a potential breakout above $137.50. If you’ve been paying attention to the precious metal since the YTD bottom in late June, you are likely aware of the heaving buying activity that has been taking place at Goldman Sachs $GS – the same firm that was calling for gold selling for the majority of the second quarter. Perma-bears Zero Hedge highlighted the activity well here, and Syria may be the catalyst gold needs for another leg higher.

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Our portfolio has benefited from the sell-off for the most part, though we were doing fine with the morning’s rally thanks to our $AAPL position. $FCEL is down small while $AAPL is trying to hold its gains, but the aggressive sell-off in $T has been a boon for our puts, which have swung from $.18 to $.30 in half of a session. Our $TAP puts have also rebounded nicely and are trading $1.80/$1.90 at the time of writing.

We will keep you posted on any new positions we initiate, particularly in $GLD, $OIL or possibly $SPY if we close on the lows. It’s going to be hard to have conviction one way or the other on the broader market given the external variables, but there are still opportunities to capitalize on.

Syria in Flux, Summer Ends, September Begins, Spoos Surge

Happy Labor Day y’all. Hopefully everyone was able to disconnect for at least a little while this weekend despite a news-filled holiday. While a Syrian airstrike appeared imminent following Friday’s comments from the White House, President Obama chose to take the traditional route of seeking Congress’ support before launching a strike in the Middle East. This decision is a risky one for Obama, as his beleaguered relationship with politicians has prevented this administration from accomplishing much in the President’s second term. While Obama has the ability to call a special Congressional session to accelerate the timeline, it appears the administration will wait for Congress to return from its annual summer recess, though the President indicated that he does not necessarily need Congressional approval to launch a strike.

Meanwhile, markets have taken the news in stride, with S&P futures surging 10-15 points on last night’s open and extending gains into today. Markets around the world have rallied as well, with the Stoxx, CAC and Nikkei each rising more than 1%. While we speculated before the market’s open on Friday that the Syria sell-off may have been over done, we certainly did not expect such an aggressive rally in the worldwide markets to begin September, which is traditionally a bearish month. The Syrian situation remains a wild card and is likely to have an impact at some point in the next week or two as Obama calls on Congress to approve military action in the region, but for now we will take the bullish momentum in stride, a trend that has ceased to abate for the duration of 2013. If you leaned short on Friday, tomorrow may be a rough day, but that is simply the nature of the beast.

We didn’t take too much action on Friday aside from peeling off a losing $AAPL weekly option trade. We contemplated taking a position in the $SPY either via stock or weekly options, but given the uncertainty following Friday’s news out of Washington we chose to roll with our current position. However, this week should present plenty of opportunities to act as traders return from vacation, bringing volume along with them.

The name we’ll be focusing on the most this week is FuelCell Energy $FCEL. For those who are unfamiliar with fuel cell technology, it is an alternative energy source that converts natural gas and biofuels into electricity with minimal emissions, significantly lower input costs and zero reliance on the power grid. Fuel cells have been around since the principle discovery by Christian Friedrich Schonbein in 1838, but the first commercial use did not occur until well into the 20th century. $FCEL has been working towards profitability for years, and the company  has a healthy backlog and an installed base of just over 70 MW. The company has identified 80 MW as the necessary level to begin generating consistent positive EBITDA, with net profitability coinciding with an annual run rate of roughly 90 MW. The firm has landed several projects on the east coast, including the Bridgeport Fuel Cell Park in Connecticut, the largest in the United States. We have had a position in Fuel Cell for the better part of two years, and we view the technology as a compelling long-term investment opportunity.

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From a technical perspective, $FCEL has been stuck in a descending triangle for the last several weeks. In mid-April, a series of insider buys from management triggered a major reversal off of the YTD lows. Momentum in the stock continued through earnings after the company beat top and bottom-line expectations, sending the stock to a YTD high of $1.64. We took profits on last quarter’s earnings move after establishing a position under $1.00 per share in 2012, and we have been accumulating shares in the last few weeks at an average price of $1.27 per share. The stock broke out of its descending triangle on Friday on volume of just over three million shares, well above the 10-day and 90-day average volumes. We will explore leveraging our position with options this week, eyeing the January $1 and $2 strike calls.

We will also continue to explore opportunities in the high-beta tech space, including $TSLA, $FB, and $AAPL. We are also keeping our eye on the casinos, as the latest data out of Macau showed strong revenues for the month of August. The chart for Wynn Resorts $WYNN appears most compelling, while Las Vegas Sands $LVS and MGM Resorts $MGM may also provide an opportunity in the near term.

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$WYNN appeared poised for a breakout last week, as shares moved above $145 in trading on Monday before Syrian volatility triggered a sell-off during the rest of the week. The chart remains strong as shares bounced off of the 20-day moving average last week, and the rounded bottom pattern remains intact. If shares can advance above the $142-$145 range, it could ignite a move to $150 and beyond.