A second consecutive down day for shares in airline stocks spurred heavy trading traffic in options across the largest market-cap names, including United Continental Holdings, Inc. (Ticker: UAL), Delta Air Lines, Inc. (Ticker: DAL), American Airlines Inc. (Ticker: AAL), and JetBlue Airways Corporation (Ticker: JBLU). Shares in these air carriers are down roughly 6.0%, 5.0%, 5.5% and 4.0%, respectively, as of the time of this writing amid higher oil prices and in the wake of Lufthansa’s cut to its 2014 profit guidance on Wednesday.
Options on American Airlines and Delta Air Lines are seeing the most volume overall with more than 55,000 contracts traded on each, while JetBlue is experiencing the highest volume relative to its average daily options volume. Volume in JBLU options is nearing 40,000 contracts just before midday in New York, which is approximately four times its average daily reading of around 9,200 contracts.
Meanwhile, smaller air carrier, Hawaiian Holdings, Inc. (Ticker: HA), Hawaii’s biggest and longest-serving airline, with a market cap of around $816 million (vs. roughly $33 billion market-cap for Delta Air Lines and $29 billion for American Airlines), also attracted heavier than usual options activity. Upwards of 4,100 contracts have changed hands on Hawaiian Holdings as of 11:30 am ET, which compares to average daily volume for the stock of around 640 contracts. Shares in HA are down 3.5% on the session at $14.65 as of the time of this writing. Hawaiian shares on Monday of this week traded up to a record high of $16.49.
As the chart below shows, shares in the air carriers mentioned have lost some altitude lately, but the stocks are still up, in some cases significantly, for the most recent six month period.
Chart – Six-month chart of AAL, DAL, UAL, JBLU & HA
Wasn't it just 2 days ago that the EU was all set to pop the ESM to $1.25Tn and the IMF was going to add another Trillion and the Fed was talking about more QE in the $1.25Tn range, which plunged the Dollar to multi-week lows? Shouldn't adding 6% of the entire planet's GDP in additional stimulus give us more than a one-day pop in the markets?
As I pointed out in Monday's Morning Alert to Members – these are all just RUMORS and my conclusion in the Alert was:
Despite the bullish turn of events (which we anticipated last week) we're more inclined to cash out our bullish trades into the excitement and press our bear bets and TOMORROW, if we're still over our levels – THEN we will scramble to add some aggressive bullish trades to our virtual portfolios. Again, I cannot stress enough that CASH is my preferred position because this market is tough to call and you need to be very flexible and very nimble to trade it.
We proceeded as planned and, so far, we haven't had any reason to capitulate and get more bullish and that is both surprising and disappointing as this is the end of the first quarter of 2012 – if not now – when? As David Fry notes:
Monday’s rally was typical as we head toward the end of the quarter. Hedge fund performance fees are on the line and any way to boost these profits is job one. Top holdings for hedge funds include the usual suspects: AAPL, IBM, INTC, BAC, DIS, HD etc.
With little volume it’s easy for algos and hedge funds to prop stocks on little hard news. Tuesday we briefly saw more of this. Just as markets were weakening a story appeared using the Fed’s favorite oracle, the WSJ, as Fed governor Rosengren stated, “more stimulus is on the table”. Immediately HFT algos jumped and markets rose if only briefly.
It's very exciting for us as PLCN (see Thursday's notes) went all the way up to $736 on Monday and sold off on some pretty heavy trading yesterday. Slowly but surely, our negative premise is beginning to take shape as Piper Jaffray is finally catching up with us and noting "a sharp decline in unique visitors to Priceline's booking.com" from growth of 61 percent during the…
The Refik Saydam National Public Health Agency has released 29 HA [hemagglutinin] sequences from Ankara, Turkey. Several were partial sequences, but 26 covered the receptor binding domain and 8 had D225E,… while one had D225N,…
My comment: D225 is the most common or wild-type receptor binding protein - the hemagglutinin (HA) protein – which enables the virus to bind to tissues in the respiratory tract of infected people.
A change in the amino acid in position 225 of the receptor binding domain (RBD) is symbolized by using the letter representing the new amino acid, e.g. "G" for glycine in "D225G." The marker D225G signifies that a glycine (G) is present in the 225 position, replacing the amino acid usually in this position, aspartic acid, or D (hence the wild-type marker is "D225"). Glutamic acid, E, and asparagine, N, are two other amino acids that have been found in this position in non-wild-type swine flu viruses.
The change in the receptor binding protein from D to G alters the protein’s preference for binding to human tissues. Viruses with the D225G marker bind in the lung tissue, rather than binding in the upper respiratory tract (nasal area and throat), the more typical target. This appears to result in more severe disesase which may trigger a "cytokine storm" reaction in the lungs. Whether substitution with "E" or "N" causes similar changes is not known. Theoretically, if the immune response is generated against the wild-type protein D225, viruses with D225G, D225E or D225N markers might avoid the immune system’s response.
[Back to Dr. Niman] The outcomes of these patients were not given but media reports have described a rapid in increase in H1N1 fatalities in Turkey. A large number of HA sequences with D225E has been published from Spain, and recently released GISAID sequences from Sweden and the UK also have D225E, including three fatal cases from Sweden. The prior reports of D225G and D225N associations with fatal cases has raised concerns that changes at position 225 could alter tissue tropism or aid in immune escape, leading to more severe and fatal cases.
DRYS DryShips, Inc. – The drybulk carrier’s share price rally of more than 25% to $6.94 breathes new life into DryShips’ sails today amid an upgrade to ‘outperform’ from ‘market perform’ by an analyst at Oppenheimer & Co. this morning. The company has also managed to raise $500 million via equity offering that it plans to use to decrease its massive debt. Option investors saluted the bullish news by purchasing calls in the May contract. At the May 7.5 strike price 7,300 calls were picked up for an average premium of 59 cents apiece. Shares need only rise by an additional 7% in order for the May 7.5 strike calls to land in-the-money by expiration next month. More optimistic traders selected the May 9.0 strike and bought 3,000 calls for about 28 cents per contract. Another positive sign for the cargo-carrier was the sale of 1,400 puts at the May 6.0 strike price for 74 cents each as some investors hope that shares remain above the breakeven on the trade at $5.26 by expiration. While much of the activity we observed was bullish in the May contract, we did notice that some downside protection was sought at the May 7.5 strike price as about 2,100 in-the-money puts were picked up at an average premium of 1.55 each.
XTO XTO Energy, Inc. – Shares of the oil and gas exploration company have rallied by more than 3% to $35.20. XTO edged onto our ‘most active by options volume’ market scanner after one investor took profits by closing a short put position. It appears that this individual originally established a short position on March 11, 2009, by selling 19,500 puts at the August 22.5 strike price for a premium of 1.86 apiece. Today, he purchased the lot of 19,500 puts at the same strike for an average price of 75 cents apiece. The difference between the two put premiums yields this investor 1.11 today for closing the position. It looks as though he plans to once again profit from a similar trade as he sold 15,000 puts at the August 26 strike price for an average premium of 1.35 apiece.
LGF Lions Gate Entertainment Corporation – The diversified independent producer and distributor of motion pictures jumped to the top of our ‘hot by options volume’ market scanner after one investor…
WASHINGTON D.C. – On Tuesday, The Wall Street Journal reported that the FBI and the SEC are investigating Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) for his lucrative stock trades of real estate investment giant CBL Associates Properties, a real estate company based in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Federal officials...
The Latest Conference Board Leading Economic Index (LEI) for April was released yesterday, but we failed to post usual our update. Here it is ... a day late. The index increased 0.6 percent to 123.9 from March's downwardly revised 123.1 (previously 123.4) and small downward revisions were made to January 123.2 to 123.0) and December (123.4 to 123.3). The latest indicator value came in above the 0.4 percent forecast by Investing.com.
Here is an overview from the LEI technical press release:
The Conference Board LEI for the U.S. increased in April, wi...
Ed Rensi, an Ex-McD CEO, insists that a "$35,000 robotic arm" is cheaper than hiring and training employees. According to Rensi, replacing employees with robots is cheaper - for McDonald's. Of course, the move to robotics is not necessarily "cheaper" for everyone else - e.g., taxpayers - who will ultimately absorb the costs that McDonald's shifts off its books.
For purposes of argument, I'm accepting: 1) Robots are cheaper, and will probably continue to get cheaper. 2) Higher minimum wages will increase the incentive to replace human employees with robots. 3)...
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Do you remember when you were growing up and all your friends were allowed Atari game consoles but you weren’t?
Well, I do and the things seemed as foreign to me as Venus. Mostly because the little time I managed to spend on the gaming consoles when my friends weren’t hogging them I found it all a bit silly. I never “got” computer games, and to this day still have poor comprehension of things like Angry Birds.
I suspect that many people around the world view Bitcoin in the same way as I view Angry Birds: with mild amusement and a general lack of understanding as to what the hell all the fuss is about.
I was thinking of this since a buddy of mine recently started ...
After a three-year bull run that more than quadrupled its value by its peak last July, IBD’s Medical-Biomed/Biotech Industry Group plunged 50% by early February, hurt by backlashes against high drug prices and mergers that seek to lower corporate taxes.
Although we try to stay focused on finding and managing promising trade ideas, the comments in the comment section sometimes take a political turn (for access, try PSW — click here!). So today, Jean Luc writes,
The GOP debate last night was just unreal – are these people running to be president of the US or to lead a college fraternity! Comparing tool size? The only guy that looks semi-sane is Kasich. The other guys are just like 3 jackals right now.
And something else – if Trump is the candidate, that little Romney speech yesterday is probably already being made into a commercial. And all these little snippets from the debate will also make some nice ads! If you are a conservative, you have to be scared now.
Phil writes back,
I was expecting them to start throwing poop at each other &n...
This is a non-trading topic, but I wanted to post it during trading hours so as many eyes can see it as possible. Feel free to contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
Last fall there was some discussion on the PSW board regarding setting up a YouCaring donation page for a PSW member, Shadowfax. Since then, we have been looking into ways to help get him additional medical services and to pay down his medical debts. After following those leads, we are ready to move ahead with the YouCaring site. (Link is posted below.) Any help you can give will be greatly appreciated; not only to help aid in his medical bill debt, but to also show what a great community this group is.
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