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Lumber Liquidators, Pharmacyclics, and the $41 Trade

Hey gang-

I wanted to take some time to talk about one of the most power components of Rob Smith’s In the Black strategy that I used to capture a whopping $41 profit in Pharmacyclics yesterday. Let me preface this by saying that I had no idea the firm would explore a sale, but using this strategy got me into the stock and allowed me to hold on until the news broke and capture a large move.

An inside day occurs when a stock’s trading range stays entirely within the previous day’s trading range, which is a simple enough explanation from a chartist’s perspective. But let’s think about what an inside day means from an economic perspective. An inside day means that buyers nor sellers could establish an edge in the marketplace. The demand side of the asset could not establish a higher market value, while the supply side could not establish a lower market value. In other words, buyers and sellers have created an equilibrium in that asset, which means that when an inside day’s high or low price is breached, an entire participation group from the inside day is on the right side of the trade. For example is Stock ABC has an inside day with a high of X and a low of Y, and the following day ABC moves higher than X, every buyer of ABC from the previous day is on the right side of the trade, while every seller is on the wrong side. It’s a simple enough explanation, but many market participants seem to forget the supply and demand aspects of trading, since a stock is an asset that is no different than any other, in the simplest of terms.

So let’s look at PCYC. On 2/24, PCYC put in an inside day with a high of 188.70 and a low of 183.42. PCYC is above the monthly and weekly opening prices, meaning buyers are active in the stock, so there’s reason to believe that stock will move higher if 188.70 is breached. When PCYC opened on 2/25, it pierced through 188.70, and I began buying around 189. Within the first hour of the day, PCYC ripped to 198, and I was able to take some profit along the way. The stock pulled back as low as about 192.40, but I had taken profits on the initial up move and was comfortable holding. Later that day, news broke that PCYC may be exploring a sale, catapulting the stock and triggering a halt. I quickly pulled up my monthly chart to evaluate PCYC’s broadening formation.

PCYC

If you click the chart, you’ll see that PCYC has two key triangle resistance levels on its monthly chart – with the first being around 188-189. Having broken through this level, I turned to the next highest point for a feasible exit once the halt was lifted, which looked to be around 230. Within minutes, PCYC had re-opened, and the stock moved as high as 231.09, with my sell order being filled at 230. In strat-talk, we call this price movement “to the tick-tock-ticky” on the broadening formation, as you can see the up move in PCYC came almost exactly to the top of the triangle. While there was no way I could have predicted the completion of this move in one day, the In The Black strategy enabled me to identify a buy point on PCYC, as well as identify an exit strategy when news broke. As they say, chance tends to favor the prepared.

The other big mover from the day was Lumber Liquidators LL. This stock had earnings and gapped down in the morning before rallying to new highs. News broke that LL was to be the subject of a negative 60 Minutes report and a potential investigation into the firm’s business practices, and quickly was swept from nearly $70 to $52 in less than an hour. Unfortunately, I did not catch any of this initial down move, but I began to watch LL as it built inside bars on the 30 and 60 minute charts. LL put in three consecutive inside bars on the 30 minute chart, representing consolidation and the building of an equilibrium. The third inside bar was breached to the upside, but knowing that the stock was red on the month, the week and the day, my bias remained to the downside. After briefly breaching the inside bar to the upside, LL turned lower, setting up a reversal bar. A reversal bar occurs whenever an inside bar is breached to one direction, fails, and closes back within the range of the inside bar. In this case, the inside bar was breached to the upside, failed, and closed inside the range of the previous bar, so I looked for an entry to the downside. I got in early at 57.30, and the reversal strategy kicked in when LL took out 56.36, the bottom of the reversal candle on the 30 minute chart (see below).

LL30

From here, I was able to take some profits on the way down while trading around the position (adding and subtracting) using subsequent inside bars on the 5 minute chart. Looking at the daily chart, I identified potential downside as low as $50 (or thereabouts – see below). Though I continually walked my stop down as LL moved lower, I placed a bid to cover my short at $50.30. LL moved steadily lower throughout the afternoon, breaching below $50 by the end of the day, filling my order at $50.30 and netting $7 from my original entry (with several additional shorts and covers along the way).

LLdaily

Post Game: William Tell

The Summers Rally has come and gone. Given the events of today’s session, it’s difficult to know where we are headed. It was not difficult to fade this rally as the market’s reaction to the news that the hawkish Summers was out of the race for the Fed chairmanship was completely overdone, particularly given what we believe are misconstrued differences between Summers and the de facto front runner Janet Yellen. We made some money playing today’s bounce both ways, and it certainly feels like this market is teetering a little bit after we had virtually no conviction in this morning’s rally.

Before we continue with the post game, we’d like to extend our most heartfelt condolences to those affected by the tragedy at the Navy Yard in our nation’s capital today. There is a time and place to debate how and why tragedies such as these continue to plague both America and the entire world, but for now let us simply honor the fallen and give thanks for all we have been blessed with in this life.

Today’s aptly titled post game simply must lead off with a discussion of Apple, whose blunders in the last week have cost the one-time Wall Street darling roughly $60 per share in market value. Many were caught up in today’s onslaught trying to shoot the falling apple (William Tell puns), only to be washed out during the session’s prolonged selloff. Today we were able to capitalize on the mid-day lull in the stock that allowed us to scalp some gains in weekly call options. We were also able to capitalize on the late day sell off by utilizing weekly put options as $AAPL slid below $450. While there are those that felt the move to the $470 level was overdone, the downward momentum has shown no signs of abating, and the company continues to bewilder the Street with the seemingly misplaced iPhone 5C and no data regarding iPhone preorders. Our bull case for Apple was shot once we saw the pricing of the 5C, which essentially eliminated the possibility of a China Mobile deal anytime soon. We have no choice but to seriously question whether Apple’s growth days are over, as the smartphone market’s consolidation has been incredibly quick. For those of you that look to play Apple on an intraday or swing basis, you have to lean short here until the stock shows a serious change in its course of action. We engaged a few members on StockTwits tonight about whether we would lean long or short overnight. However, with the market in the position its in and the aggressive selloff in Apple, you simply cannot let a long or short bias get in the way of making money. While we think there is more downside in Apple to come, you need to let the trend dictate your behavior when your timeframe is short. Countertrend trading is virtually impossible to execute on a consistent, profitable basis, so if you’re playing Apple long in this downtrend, be nimble, use stops and TAKE PROFITS.

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$AAPL is in a world of hurt and is perched on its 100-day moving average. It barely held that level today and an open below that level tomorrow could trigger a major flush to the gap area around $434-$435. Again, this looks like an incredibly compelling short candidate in the short term, as investors will likely race to the exits as momentum picks up to the downside (much like we saw today). If Apple can somehow consolidate at this level and form a base, perhaps the story changes. With that said, it’s hard to have much conviction to the upside, if any.

As we stated before, US equities are in a precarious position, particularly given the slow grind down we saw today that literally spanned the entire session. $SPY posted what many call a black candle, as the market essentially opened on the highs and never advanced beyond that mark. If the bulls want to stay in control of this market, they need to see some consolidation at this level before taking out today’s highs. An open below today’s close could lead to increased selling pressure and a fill of today’s gap up, which could invigorate the bears who will undoubtedly be calling today’s market action an “island reversal.”

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We have just three positions on heading into tomorrow’s pivotal session and the next iteration of “The Most Important Fed Meeting Ever.” We think there are certainly going to be setups that look good in both directions for stocks, but we continue to preach selectivity and profit taking as the market definitely feels like it is in no man’s land. Keep an eye on the tech names for a possible correction, as they have lagged the market the last few days and several names showed weakness today including $TSLA, $NFLX, $LNKD, $GOOG and $FB. Most of these names are in no man’s land and don’t represent convincing buying or short selling opportunities based on where they closed today. Watch for names like these to either hold or break through key levels before initiating positions in either direction, particularly when we have a number of headlines coming our way in the next few days that could alter the market landscape.