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…
A gang of 27 EU nations hit the UK with a parade of impossible demands. All the countries demand the UK grant free movement of people, but that is why the UK left.
In addition, Spain wants joint sovereignty over Gibraltar, Malta demands the UK get an “inferior” deal, the Czech Republic says “Four freedoms or no freedoms”, and Lithuania says the UK should “pay if they stay.”
For its part, the gang of 27 believe the UK has an impossible demand on immigration control that they cannot accept. If neither side gives, and that is increasingly likely, a hard Brexit looms, very hard.
Gang of 27 Demands
Four freedoms or no freedoms. The main sticking point is immigratio...
Despite all his cajoling and fearmongery, President Obama lost his veto-override virginity today... and is not happy. Speaking at a CNN town hall this evening, the president said that Congress "made a mistake," and, as The Hill reports, trotted out the tired old excuse that despte their noble intentions, this elimination of sovereign immunity could have unintended consequences.
A decision by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission may bring European Union banks a step closer to avoiding billions of dollars of capital charges on their trades in derivatives and other securities.
In early 2009, the seven largest publicly traded college operators were worth a combined $51 billion. Today, they’ve been all but wiped out.
When Barack Obama took office, America’s seven largest publicly traded college operators were worth a combined $51 billion, with more than 815,000 students enrolled at campuses spread across the country. The schools were flooded with with people seeking shelter from the recession, returning to school to pick up new skills.
Almost eight years later, the industry has been decimated. The seven largest listed operators are worth just over $6 billion, and the most valuable co...
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I was so pleased yesterday by the announcement that I have joined the Research team at GoldCore as it meant that I could finally start talking about it and was back in a role that lets me indulge in my passion by researching and geeking out on all things gold, silver and money.
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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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