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…
The Second Estimate for Q2 GDP, to one decimal, came in at 1.1 percent, down slightly from from 1.2 percent in the Advance Estimate. With a per-capita adjustment, the data is a bit more than a third of the headline number at 0.39 percent. The 10-year moving average illustrates that US economic growth has slowed dramatically since the last recession.
Here is a chart of real GDP per capita growth since 1960. For this analysis we've chained in today's dollar for the inflation adjustment. The per-capita calculation is based on quarterly aggregates of mid-month population estimates by the Bureau of Economic Analysis, which date from 1959 (hence our 1960 starting date for this chart, even though quarterly GDP has is available since 1947). The popula...
The past several years have seen a surprising spike in professional suicides, mostly confined to the banking sector in general and Deutsche Bank in particular. Overnight this tragic group expanded into multinational corporation sector, after one the top executives at South Korea's multination conglomerate Lotte Group was found dead on Friday, in what is a suspected suicide, hours before he was to be questioned by prosecutors conducting a criminal probe into the country's fifth-largest conglomerate.
By Franklin Templeton Investments. Originally published at ValueWalk.
Emerging-Market Small Caps: A Distinct Growth Opportunity by Mark Mobius
Emerging markets remain at the forefront of the world’s most vibrant and fastest-growing economies, with overall gross domestic product (GDP) growth rates comfortably in excess of the developed world this year, despite much-publicized slowdowns in certain countries. The Templeton Emerging Markets team believes the challenges faced by some countries, sectors and companies—such as energy firms and Chinese banks—have obscured interesting opportunities within the emerging-market (EM) space. Here, my colleague Chetan Sehgal, executive vice president, managing director India, CIO, and director of global emerging markets/small cap strategies at Templeton Emerging Markets Group, and I presen...
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Epizyme was founded in 2007, and trying to create drugs to treat patient's cancer by focusing on genetically-linked differences between normal and cancer cells. Cancer areas of focus include leukemia, Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and breast cancer. One of the Epizme cofounders, H. Robert Horvitz, won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2002 for "discoveries concerning genetic regulation of organ development and programmed cell death."
Before discussing the drug targets of Epizyme, understanding epigenetics is crucial to comprehend the company's goals.
Genetic components are the DNA sequences that are 'inherited.' Some of these genes are stronger than others in their expression (e.g., eye color). Yet, some genes turn on or off due to external factors (environmental), and it is und...
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